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Time to Let Go of Vatican II

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Several months back Father Hugh Somerville-Knapman, OSB wrote a must read article over at his blog, Dominus mihi adjutor. For those not familiar with Fr. Hugh, a Benedictine monk and priest of Douai Abbey in Berkshire, U.K., he is no liturgical bomb thrower. His arguments are always well reasoned and thoughtful, which is why it’s worth revisiting.

“Vale Vatican II: Moving On” verbalizes what a growing number of the faithful are finally coming to grips with. In the words of Fr. Hugh: “it is time now to let go of the Council.” While I encourage everyone to read the full article, there are several points worth highlighting here.

Fr. Hugh begins by making the (obvious) acknowledgement that the world has changed greatly since the 1960’s. This would hardly matter if the Council  had sought to clarify doctrine and timeless truths, but it is relevant for a Council claiming to be pastoral in its scope and very purpose. As Father writes:

It described itself as a pastoral council, and it sought to repackage the teaching, life and worship of the Church to suit a world in flux. For this very reason the Council was necessarily going to have a best-before date. That date has been passed. The sad thing is that its milk turned sour very soon after packaging.

Fr. Hugh rightly notes that “Catholic vitality has plummeted” in the post-conciliar years, at least when measured by weekly Mass attendance and vocations. There is no need to restate the dire data here. If one still disputes this they cannot be taken seriously and should step away from the grown up table; these discussions aren’t for you.

Father continues with an assessment of the ecclesial landscape of the last five decades:

By any reasonable standard of judgment the application of the Council failed, miserably, to achieve the Council’s aims. This statistical revelation of decline is quite apart from the decline experienced by Catholics as they have seen dogmas, doctrines, morals and many other elements of Catholic life thrown into chaos in the wake of the Council.

Acknowledging that the Church is indeed growing in much of the developing world (think Africa and Asia), Fr. Hugh notes that its growth in the west is only occurring in certain places:

But here’s the rub: it is growing precisely where much of what was discarded by the post-conciliaristas is slowly and sensibly being reclaimed and integrated into the world of 2017 rather than the mid-1960s. What they are reclaiming is essential, timeless Catholicism rather than the tired mantras and shibboleths of the “Vatican II Church”. The young have discovered, and many of the older re-discovered, that there was a Church before Vatican II, and it was healthy, vital and beautiful.

Fr. Hugh then states his simple, clear, and polemic free conclusion: it’s time to move on from the Council and (instead) to reclaim what the Church always was:

Thus it makes no sense to be constantly referencing every contemporary initiative to Vatican II, for justification or acceptance-value. It is time to move from a post-conciliar Church to a post-post-conciliar Church; which is to say, it is time to reclaim the Church as She has always been in her essence and her stable form, which has been able to function viably and vitally in every age and circumstance since the time of Christ.

A growing number of the faithful have indeed moved on from post-conciliarism. Among many Catholics, particularly the young, the sentiment and conclusions of Fr. Hugh are being realized. Our point of reference and foundation is the Church’s history and tradition, not simply the most recent Council in the history of the Church.

Sadly, it would seem few bishops have connected the dots yet. May thoughtful articles by thoughtful men, such as Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman, help them to finally move on (and move forward) as the Church reclaims “essential, timeless Catholicism.” For the sake of the salvation of souls, pray that it happens soon.

February 17, 2019   No Comments

Why We Need Septuagesima

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For Catholics who follow the traditional calendar, today marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Septuagesima. As noted by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre in the St. Andrew Daily Missal:

The Church, manifesting the divinity of Christ throughout the first part of the Ecclesiastical year, shows us in the second part what Our Lord has done to merit it for us and communicate it to us…

The Septuagesima season always begins with the ninth week before Easter and includes three Sundays called respectively Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. These names…denote a series of decades working back from the commencement of Lent, which is known in Latin as Quadragesima.

In all of her liturgical wisdom Holy Mother Church has traditionally given the faithful this brief season as a prelude to Lent. Dom Lefebvre calls it a “prelude for the soul” which must transition from the joys of Christmas to the “stern penance” of the sacred forty days.

Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass now see the priest don violet colored vestments in recognition of this time. In addition, the Alleluia and the Gloria are dropped from the Mass as the liturgy further prepares us for Lent.

Unfortunately, this season was abolished following Vatican 2 and is not found on the new calendar or within the Novus Ordo Mass of Paul VI. A season which dates back to at least the sixth century and the papacy of Saint Gregory the Great has disappeared for the vast majority of Catholics thanks to a small group of “reformers” led by Annibale Bugnini.

Thankfully, as more are introduced to the Traditional Mass of the Roman Rite, the brief season of Septuagesima is being reintroduced into the life of the Church. As this means more of the faithful can better prepare for, and enter deeper into, the season of Lent, it is an objectively positive development.

Take a few minutes to enjoy the video below courtesy of the Latin Mass Society and its chairman Dr. Joseph Shaw. As always, Dr. Shaw and his team educate us on the richness of our Catholic faith, while reminding us why we need this traditional season.

And may you have a truly fruitful Septuagesima.

February 17, 2019   No Comments

SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year (This book is available at AngelusPress.org)

Why is this Sunday called “Septuagesima”?

Because in accordanc2e with the words of the First Council of Orleans, some pious Christian congregations in the earliest ages of the Church, especially the clergy, began to fast seventy days before Easter, on this Sunday, which was therefore called Septuagesima” – the seventieth day. The same is the case with the Sundays following, which are called Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, Quadragesima, because some Christians commenced to fast sixty days, others fifty, others forty days before Easter, until finally, to make it properly uniform, Popes Gregory and Gelasius arranged that all Christians should fast forty days before Easter, commencing with Ash-Wednesday.

Why, from this day until Easter, does the Church omit in her service all joyful canticles, alleluia’s, and the Gloria in excelsis etc.?

Gradually to prepare the minds of the faithful for the serious time of penance and sorrow; to remind the sinner of the grievousness of his errors, and to exhort him to penance. So the priest appears at the altar in violet, the color of penance, and the front of the altar is covered with a violet curtain. To arouse our sorrow for our sins, and show the need of repentance, the Church in the name of all mankind at the Introit cries with David: The groans of death surrounded me, the sorrows of hell encompassed me: and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice from his holy temple. (Ps. XVII, 5-7.) I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my firmament, and my refuge, and my deliverer. (Fs. XVII. 2-3.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT O Lord, we beseech Thee graciously hear the prayers of Thy people; that we who are justly afflicted for our sins may, for the glory of Thy name, mercifully be delivered. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ etc.

EPISTLE (I. Cor. IX. 24-27., to X. 1-5.) Brethren, know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty; I so fight, not as one beating the air; but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection; lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea: and all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ); but with the most of them God was not well pleased.

EXPLANATION Having exhorted us to penance in the Introit of the Mass, the Church desires to indicate to us, by reading this epistle, the effort we should make to reach the kingdom of heaven by the narrow path (Matt. VII. 13.) of penance and mortification. This St. Paul illustrates by three different examples. By the example of those who in a race run to one point, or in a prize-fight practice and prepare themselves for the victor’s reward by the strongest exercise, and by the strictest abstinence from everything that might weaken the physical powers. If to win a laurel-crown that passes away, these will subject themselves to the severest trials and deprivations, how much more should we, for the sake of the heavenly crown of eternal happiness, abstain from those improper desires, by which the soul is weakened, and practice those holy virtues, such as prayer, love of God and our neighbor, patience, to which the crown is promised! Next, by his own example, bringing himself before them as one running a race, and fighting for an eternal crown, but not as one running blindly not knowing whither, or fighting as one who strikes not his antagonist, but the air; on the contrary, with his eyes firmly fixed on the eternal crown, certain to be his who lives by the precepts of the gospel, who chastises his spirit and his body as a valiant champion, with a strong hand, that is, by severest mortification, by fasting and prayer. If St. Paul, notwithstanding the extraordinary graces which he received, thought it necessary to chastise his body that he might not be cast away, how does the sinner expect to be saved, living an effeminate and luxurious life without penance and mortification? St. Paul’s third example is that of the Jews who all perished on their journey to the Promised Land, even though God had granted them so many graces; He shielded them from their enemies by a cloud which served as a light to them at night, and a cooling shade by day; He divided the waters of the sea, thus preparing for them a dry passage; He caused manna to fall from heaven to be their food, and water to gush from the rock for their drink. These temporal benefits which God bestowed upon the Jews in the wilderness had a spiritual meaning; the cloud and the sea was a figure of baptism which enlightens the soul, tames the concupiscence of the flesh, and purifies from sin; the manna was a type of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, the soul’s true bread from heaven; the water from the rock, the blood flowing from Christ’s wound in the side; and yet with all these temporal benefits which God bestowed upon them, and with all the spiritual graces they were to receive by faith from the coming Redeemer, of the six hundred thousand men who left Egypt only two, Joshua and Caleb, entered the Promised Land. Why? Because they were fickle, murmured so, often against God, and desired the pleasures of the flesh. How much, then, have we need to fear lest we be excluded from the true, happy land, Heaven, if we do not continuously struggle for it, by penance and mortification!

ASPIRATION Assist me, O Jesus, with Thy grace that, following St. Paul’s example, I may be anxious, by the constant pious practice of virtue and prayer, to arrive at perfection and to enter heaven.

GOSPEL (Matt. XX. 1-6.) At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others Standing in the market place idle, and he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing; and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the Lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the laborers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny, But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more; and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hart made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way; I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.

In this parable, what is to be understood by the householder, the vineyard, laborers, and the penny?

The householder represents God, who in different ages of the world, in the days of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and finally, in the days of Christ and the apostles, has sought to call men as workmen into His vineyard, the true Church, that they might labor there industriously, and receive the penny of eternal glory.

How and when does God call people?

By inward inspiration, by preachers, confessors, spiritual books, and conversations, etc., in flourishing youth and in advanced age, which periods of life may be understood by the different hours of the day.

What is meant by working in the vineyard?

It means laboring, fighting, suffering for God and His honor, for our own and the salvation of others. As in a vineyard we spade, dig, root out weeds, cut off all that is useless and noxious, manure, plant, and bind up, so in the spiritual vineyard of our soul we must, by frequent meditation on death and hell, by examination of conscience dig up the evil inclinations by their roots, and by true repentance eradicate the weeds of vice, and by mortification, especially by prayer and fasting cut away concupiscence; by the recollection of our sins we must humble ourselves, and amend our life; in place of the bad habits we must plant the opposite virtues and bind our unsteady will to the trellis of the fear of God and of His judgment, that we may continue firm.

How is a vice or bad habit to be rooted up?

A great hatred of sin must be aroused; a fervent desire of destroying sin must be produced in our hearts; the grace of God must be implored without which nothing can be accomplished. It is useful also to read some spiritual book which speaks against the vice. The Sacraments of Penance and of holy Communion should often be received, and some saint who in life had committed the same sin, and afterwards by the grace of God conquered it, should be honored, as Mary Magdalen and St. Augustine who each had the habit of impurity, but with the help of God resisted and destroyed it in themselves; there should be fasting, alms-deeds, or other good works, performed for the same object, and it is of great importance, even necessary, that the conscience should be carefully examined in this regard.

Who are standing idle in the market place?

In the market-place, that is the world, they are standing idle who, however much business they attend to, do not work for God and for their own salvation; for the only necessary employment is the service of God and the working out of our salvation. There are three ways of being idle: doing nothing whatever; doing evil; doing other things than the duties of our position in life and its office require, or if this work is done without a good intention, or not from the love of God. This threefold idleness deprives us of our salvation, as the servant loses his wages if he works not at all, or not according to the will of his master. We are all servants of God, and none of us can say with the laborers in the Vineyard that no man has employed us; for God, when He created us, hired us at great wages, and we must serve Him always as He cares for us at all times; and if, in the gospel, the householder reproaches the workmen, whom no man had hired, for their idleness, what will God one day say to those Christians whom He has placed to work in His Vineyard, the Church, if they have remained idle?

Why do the last comers receive as much as those who worked all day ?

Because God rewards not the time or length of the work, but the industry and diligence with which it has been performed. It may indeed happen, that many a one who has served God but for a short time, excels in merits another who has lived long but has not labored as diligently. (Wisd. IV. 8-13.)

What is signified by the murmers of the first workmen when the wages were paid?

As the Jews were the first who were called by God, Christ intended to show that the Gentiles, who were called last, should one day receive the heavenly reward, and that the Jews have no reason to murmur because God acted not unjustly in fulfilling His promises “to them, and at the same time calling others to the eternal reward. In heaven envy, malevolence and murmuring will find no place. On the contrary, the saints who have long served God wonder at His goodness in converting sinners and those who have served Him but a short time, for these also there will be the same penny, that is, the vision, the enjoyment, and possession of God and His kingdom. Only in the heavenly glory there will be a difference because the divine lips have assured us that each one shall be rewarded according to his works. The murmurs of the workmen and the answer of the householder serve to teach us, that we should not murmur against the merciful proceedings of God towards our neighbor, nor envy him; for envy and jealousy are abominable, devilish vices, hated by God. By the envy of the, devil, death came into the world. (Wisd. II. 24.) The envious therefore, imitate Lucifer, but they hurt only themselves, because they are consumed by their envy. “Envy,” says St. Basil “is an institution of the serpent, an invention of the devils, an obstacle to piety, a road to hell, the depriver of the heavenly kingdom.”

What is meant by: The first. shall be last, and the last shall be first?

This again is properly to be understood of the Jews; for they were the first called, but will be the last in order, as in time, because they responded not to Christ’s invitation, received not His doctrine, and will enter the Church only at the end of the world; while, on the contrary, the Gentiles who where not called until after the Jews, will be the first in number as in merit, because the greater part responded and are still responding to the call. Christ, indeed, called all the Jews, but few of them answered, therefore few were chosen. Would that this might not. also come true with regard to Christians whom God has also called, and whom He wishes to save. (I. Tim. II. 4.) Alas! very few live in accordance with their vocation of working in the vineyard of the Lord, and, consequently, do not receive the penny of eternal bliss.

PRAYER O most benign God, who, out of pure grace, without any merit of ours, hast called us, Thy unworthy servants, to the true faith, into the vineyard of the holy Catholic Church, and dost require us to work in it for the sanctification of our souls, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may never be idle but be found always faithful workmen, and that that which in past years we have failed to do, we may make up for in future by greater zeal and persevering industry, and, the work being done, may receive the promised reward in heaven, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our, Lord. Amen.

February 16, 2019   No Comments

What Bugnini Was Thinking When He Destroyed the Catholic Mass

By Dr.

In G.K. Chesterton’s story “The Queer Feet,” Father Brown says:

A crime is like any other work of art. Don’t look surprised; crimes are by no means the only works of art that come from an infernal workshop. But every work of art, divine or diabolic, has one indispensable mark — I mean, that the centre of it is simple, however much the fulfilment may be complicated. Thus, in Hamlet, let us say, the grotesqueness of the grave-digger, the flowers of the mad girl, the fantastic finery of Osric, the pallor of the ghost and the grin of the skull are all oddities in a sort of tangled wreath round one plain tragic figure of a man in black. [i]

This passage came to my mind when reading the newly translated recent biography Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy (Angelico Press, 2018) by the prolific and well respected French historian Yves Chiron. The wide-ranging liturgical reform that took place in the Catholic Church predominantly between the years 1950 and 1975 was, indeed, like Hamlet, a complicated business, involving hundreds of bishops and experts, several popes, an ecumenical council, and countless publications, but at the center of it stood “one plain tragic figure of a man in black” — or perhaps we might say black with red piping: Msgr. (later Archbishop) Annibale Bugnini, a Vincentian priest who was one of the few men who had a hand in this quarter-century reform from its beginning nearly to its end.

Those who have heard of Annibale Bugnini (1912–1982) tend to think of him either as an evil schemer bent on the destruction of the Catholic Faith or as a talented bureaucrat who smoothly guided a complex liturgical reform to its happy conclusion. This book, which is well researched yet mercifully compact for a modern biography, portrays a more complex and human figure. That he was totally convinced of and consistently acted upon various rationalist and pastoral theories about how liturgy “ought to be” is indisputable, and this book provides copious documentation of it, but not all of his ideas were welcomed by those in authority, and he did eventually run afoul of the pope to whose itching ear and promulgating pen he had enjoyed such uninhibited access.

Through Chiron’s book we become acquainted with the life of a man who was singularly influential in marshaling the forces necessary for an unprecedented revision of Roman Catholic worship. One sees how it came about, step by step, pope by pope, committee by committee, book by book. It is truly one of the most astonishing stories in the history of Catholicism, and one about which Henry Sire rightly quips: “The story of how the liturgical revolution was put through is one that hampers the historian by its very enormity; he would wish, for his own sake, to have a less unbelievable tale to tell.”[ii] With Chiron patiently taking the reader through the phases of Bugnini’s life and activity, the tale becomes a little less unbelievable, albeit no less an enormity, as each daring maneuver leads to a new opening, a new opportunity, and new changes [iii].

Was Bugnini a mastermind, one of those rare Faustian individuals who singlehandedly change the course of history, or was he a small-minded ideologue and opportunist? The evidence presented in this biography tends to support the latter. Additional evidence not discussed by Chiron lends support to the same interpretation. In a memorable address in Montreal, Canada in 1982, Archbishop Lefebvre shared the story of a meeting he attended with other superiors general in Rome in the mid-1960s:

I had the occasion to see for myself what influence Fr. Bugnini had. One wonders how such a thing as this could have happened at Rome. At that time immediately after the Council, I was Superior General of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and we had a meeting of the Superiors General at Rome. We had asked Fr. Bugnini to explain to us what his New Mass was, for this was not at all a small event. Immediately after the Council talk was heard of the ‘Normative Mass’, the ‘New Mass’, the ‘Novus Ordo’. What did all this mean? …

Fr. Bugnini, with much confidence, explained what the Normative Mass would be; this will be changed, that will be changed and we will put in place another Offertory. We will be able to reduce the communion prayers. We will be able to have several different formats for the beginning of Mass. We will be able to say the Mass in the vernacular tongue. …

Personally I was myself so stunned that I remained mute, although I generally speak freely when it is a question of opposing those with whom I am not in agreement. I could not utter a word. How could it be possible for this man before me to be entrusted with the entire reform of the Catholic Liturgy, the entire reform of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of the sacraments, of the Breviary, and of all our prayers? Where are we going? Where is the Church going?

Two Superiors General had the courage to speak out. One of them asked Fr. Bugnini: “Is this an active participation, that is a bodily participation, that is to say with vocal prayers, or is it a spiritual participation? In any case you have spoken so much of the participation of the faithful that it seems you can no longer justify Mass celebrated without the faithful. Your entire Mass has been fabricated around the participation of the faithful. We Benedictines celebrate our Masses without the assistance of the faithful. Does this mean that we must discontinue our private Masses, since we do not have faithful to participate in them?”

I repeat to you exactly that which Fr. Bugnini said. I have it still in my ears, so much did it strike me: “To speak truthfully, we didn’t think of that,” he said!

Afterwards another arose and said: “Reverend Father, you have said that we will suppress this and we will suppress that, that we will replace this thing by that and always by shorter prayers. I have the impression that your new Mass could be said in ten or twelve minutes or at the most a quarter of an hour. This is not reasonable. This is not respectful towards such an act of the Church.” Well, this is what he replied: “We can always add something.” Is this for real? I heard it myself. If somebody had told me the story I would perhaps have doubted it, but I heard it myself. [iv]

When we read an account like this, we are tempted to think it an exaggeration. Chiron’s careful, almost surgical examination of original documents proves that it is nothing of the kind. While studiously avoiding romanticization or caricature, Chiron paints a portrait of his protagonist that harmonizes with such accounts as Lefebvre’s, or that of Bouyer in his Memoirs. Bugnini was indeed an adroit manager, manipulator, massager, and messenger. He knew how to gather an “all-star” team that would work in the direction he thought best. He knew how to win over the pope to his ideas. He knew when to speak up and when to keep silent. To take one example, he urged the preconciliar preparatory commission on liturgy not to put forth too many radical ideas lest their entire project of reform be shot down; it was enough, Bugnini said, to offer general innocuous-sounding indications and to fill out the details later in committee work.

The term “Machiavellian” might have to be excluded only because there is no smoking-gun evidence of malice. Rather, Bugnini is that oddest of odd figures: the seemingly well intentioned Machiavellian who stifles his opponents because they are obviously wrong and he is obviously right.

In his delightful novella Rasselas, Samuel Johnson places on the lips of one of his characters advice that could have been custom-made for Bugnini: “Do not therefore, in thy administration of the year, indulge thy pride by innovation; do not please thyself with thinking that thou canst make thyself renowned to all future ages by disordering the seasons. The memory of mischief is no desirable fame.”

In this swift-moving biography, which is rich with details but never gets bogged down in minutiae, Chiron shows us what made Bugnini “tick”: a one-track obsession with “active participation,” understood as rational comprehension of verbal data, and, as a corollary, the need for a radical simplification of liturgical forms to meet the straightforward, efficient modern Western man. To this goal, everything else was to be subordinated: all ecclesiastical traditions were so much flotsam and jetsam compared to the pastoral urgency of immediate conveyance of Vatican II-flavored content. This explains why Latin had to give way to vernacular, why complex language had to be broken down into bite-sized chunks, why elaborate prayers and ceremonies had to be abbreviated or abolished, why the priest should interact familiarly with the people rather than fulfilling a distinct hieratic role, why Gregorian chant had to be sidelined in favor of popular songs, and so forth.

In a way, it all “makes sense,” just as Cartesianism “makes sense” to one who rejects the possibility of knowing any reality other than the mind, or as Freudianism “makes sense” to one who is already disposed to evaluating situations for their sexual exploitability, or as deconstructionism “makes sense” to one who rejects the possibility of meaning.

How very different, indeed contrary, to the postconciliar project of building the first liturgy of moderns, by moderns, for moderns, is the attitude we meet in the memoirs of Cardinal Ratzinger, speaking of his youthful discovery of the riches of the liturgy:

It was a riveting adventure to move by degrees into the mysterious world of the liturgy, which was being enacted before us and for us there on the altar. It was becoming more and more clear to me that here I was encountering a reality that no one had simply thought up, a reality that no official authority or great individual had created. This mysterious fabric of texts and actions had grown from the faith of the Church over the centuries. It bore the whole weight of history within itself, and yet, at the same time, it was much more than the product of human history. Every century had left its mark upon it. … Not everything was logical. Things sometimes got complicated, and it was not always easy to find one’s way. But precisely this is what made the whole edifice wonderful, like one’s own home. [v]

* * *

I would like to comment here on the conspiracy theory that will forever cling to Bugnini — namely, that he was a Freemason, and that the liturgical reform was a Masonic plot to undermine the Church from within. With the patient precision of the historian, Chiron looks at every piece of available evidence and reaches the conclusion that it is impossible to say with certainty whether Bugnini was or was not a Freemason; evidence adequate to a conviction is wanting. He mentions that the accusation arose from someone “highly placed” in the Church’s hierarchy; he quotes Bugnini’s indignant testimonies that he never had, nor dreamt of having, anything to do with a secret society, and there it stands, a classic case of contrary assertions with no way (yet) of proving one side or the other right [vi]. Some readers will, perhaps, be disappointed, as they might have expected research to return a definite verdict. But there are two things to be said about this matter.

First, in the intriguing foreword, we learn of a 1996 interview in which Dom Alcuin Reid asked Cardinal Stickler if he believed that Bugnini was a Freemason and if this was the reason Paul VI dismissed him. “No,” the cardinal replied, “it was something far worse.” But His Eminence declined to reveal what the “far worse” was — and, frankly, the concept of something “far worse” than a Freemason opens frightening vistas of imagination.

Second, let us assume for the sake of argument that Bugnini was just who he said he was, and just as he appears from the historical record — a “lover and cultivator of the liturgy,” as it seemed to him. In some ways, this is the most depressing of all scenarios. One might almost have more respect for Bugnini if he had operated by some grand plan to demolish the liturgy of the ages and replace it with a mechanism brilliantly contrived to undermine Catholicism, if he had been an apostate infiltrator whose only goal was wreaking havoc on the central nervous system of the Church. We are looking for a Professor Moriarty who orchestrates the underworld. But if it turns out that he was an earnest, hardworking, small-minded man, won over by the rhetoric of the Liturgical Movement, incapable of self-doubt in the wee hours of the night, utterly blind to the world-shifting implications of what he was doing, a diligent functionary with half-baked ideas and the stubbornness to push them along at every opportunity, then we enter into the soulless gray world of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” [vii]. We are looking at the equivalent of the SS officer who killed Jews in concentration camps because it seemed like the conscientious fulfillment of his duty to the State, under lawful commands from above.

Perhaps, in the end, the irrepressible urge to make Bugnini a Freemason, with or without sufficient evidence (“surely he must have been…”), is a defense mechanism against having to face up to the possibility that he was sincerely service-oriented as he went about dismantling twenty centuries of organically developed liturgy. That is not to say he always used pure means; he was adroit and clever at getting his way and willing to bend the truth. But he always felt he was in the right, that such a great and difficult end justified whatever means it took to reach it, and that someday everyone would come around to his point of view.

Few managers in the history of bureaucracies have ever been so mistaken. Baptized Catholics today fall into three groups: the majority, who are fallen away and attend no liturgy, or who would lightly skip a Mass to attend sonny’s soccer game; practicing Catholics, who, aware of no alternative, dutifully attend the Bugnini Mass, taking the scraps that fall from the table of plenty; and a sizeable minority who, despite differences among themselves, adhere energetically to the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy. This is not the future Bugnini dreamt of — if, indeed, he permitted himself the luxury of dreaming, in the midst of journals, conferences, meetings, audiences, and correspondence.

A clever poet has written:

In Rome they should have known him by his name:
the enemy descending with his brutes.
But to our guardians’ eternal shame,
the harried faithful know him by his fruits. [viii]

When I finished Chiron’s Bugnini, I leaned back in my chair and thought wistfully about the momentous period its pages brought before my eyes — how outdated, how stale, how empty it all seems today, when it lives on in a legacy that stimulates about the same level of enthusiasm as Victorian sentimental kitsch. Bugnini’s life had been spent in a sleepless effort to bring the Church “up to date,” to make her an equal partner with modernity at last, in a bid to conquer the culture — and now look at the smoking remains, the boarded up churches, the indifferent and ignorant laity, the infant-slaying Cuomos and Pelosis, the liturgy that bores to tears, the pope afflicted with heretical logorrhea. It is not the Church that engaged modernity, but modernity that colonized the Church, reducing her to a state of vassalage. Without explicitly intending to do so in this book, Chiron helps us to see why Catholic traditionalism (or traditional Catholicism, if you prefer) is, in fact, the only way forward out of this pit of despair.

What the modern liturgists who fawn on Bugnini don’t get — and really need to have spelled out for them like little children — is this:

We do not welcome the postconciliar liturgical reforms, and we will never sing their praises. You cannot force us to like them; you cannot even force us to celebrate them. We think they were the project of an insane arrogance, acting on faulty principles and yielding shameful results. We distrust the people who ran the Consilium, especially Bugnini, and no matter how many purple-faced prelates stand up and haughtily proclaim: “It was the will of the Holy Spirit” or “It was the dictate of the Second Vatican Council” or “It was promulgated by Paul VI,” we will always hold to the great liturgical tradition that developed organically from St. Peter, St. Damasus, St. Gregory the Great to the twentieth century, and our numbers will continue to grow, even as dioceses consolidate parishes, sell off churches, and bleed out legal damages. The enthusiastic liturgists of the ’60s and ’70s are the aging nostalgics of today, as the Church increasingly splits into those who take established dogma, tradition, and liturgy seriously and those who would modernize them to the point of dissipation.

Readers are in Chiron’s debt — and readers of English, in John Pepino’s debt — for such a polished and professional biography of a key figure in the corporate remodeling of the Church of Today. This biography does not temper our instinctive revulsion, but rather feeds and focuses it.

To Bugnini, we say again, Bugni-no.


[i] G. K. Chesterton, “The Queer Feet,” in The Complete Father Brown (New York: Penguin, 1981), 51.

[ii] H. J. A. Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015), 251. I have said it before and I will say it again: the chapter “The Destruction of the Mass” in this book, pp. 226–86, is simply the best concise account I have seen anywhere of what was done to the Mass in the liturgical reform, why, and how.

[iii] In my opinion, the one who comes off as the worst villain in the story is Paul VI. Chiron has written a biography of Paul VI, too, which is currently being translated into English.

[iv] From a conference given by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1982. The full text may be found at https://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/The-Infiltration-of-Modernism-in-the-Church.htm.

[v] Milestones: Memoirs 1927–1977, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998), 19–20.

[vi] Chiron notes that there are some private journals and papers that are still jealously guarded by Bugnini’s literary executors. One wonders if such texts will ever come to light.

[vii] Arendt says this about Eichmann: “Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a ‘monster,’ but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [of his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported” (Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil [New York

: Penguin Classics, 2006], 54).

[viii] Mark Amorose, City under Siege: Sonnets and Other Verse (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2017), 34. This little book of lovely and witty poems deserves to be better known.

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February 12, 2019   No Comments

Fifth Sunday After Epiphany

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s

The Church’s Year

[For the Introit of this day see the Introit in the Mass of the third Sunday after Epiphany]

On this Sunday mention is made of the practice of Christian virtues, and of God’s sufferance of the wicked upon earth, that by them the just may be exercised in patience.

COLLECT Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy household by Thy continual mercy; that as it leans only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace, so it may ever be defended by Thy protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

EPISTLE (Col. III. 12-17.) Brethren, put ye on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another; even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so you also. But above all these things, have charity, which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things, do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Why does St. Paul call charity the bond of perfection?

Because charity comprises in itself and links all the virtues in which perfection consists. For whoever truly loves God and his neighbor, is also good, merciful, humble, modest, patiently bears the weakness of his neighbor, willingly forgives offences, in a word, practices all virtues for the sake of charity.

When does the peace of God rejoice in our hearts?

When we have learned to conquer our evil inclinations, passions, and desires, and have placed order and quiet in our hearts instead. This peace then, like a queen, keeps all the wishes of the soul in harmony, and causes us to enjoy constant peace with our neighbor, and thus serve Christ in concord, as the members of one body serve the head. The best means of preserving this peace are earnest attention to the word of God, mutual imparting of pious exhortations and admonitions, and by singing hymns, psalms, and spiritual canticles.

Why should we do all in the name of Jesus?

Because only then can our works have real worth in the sight of God, and be pleasing to Him, when they are performed for love of Jesus, in His honor, in accordance with His spirit and will. Therefore the apostle admonishes us to do all things, eat, drink, sleep, work &c. in the name of Jesus, and so honor God, the Heavenly Father, and show our gratitude to Him. Oh, how grieved will they be on their death-bed who have neglected to offer God their daily work by a good intention, then they will see, when too late, how deficient they are in meritorious deeds. On the contrary they will rejoice whose consciences testify, that in all their actions they had in view only the will and the honor of God! Would that this might be taken to heart especially by those who have to earn their bread with difficulty and in distress, that they might always unite their hardships and trials with the sufferings and merits of Jesus, offering them to the Heavenly Father, and thus imitating Christ who had no other motive than the will and the glory of His Heavenly Father.

ASPIRATION O God of love, of patience, and of mercy, turn our hearts to the sincere love of our neighbor, and grant, that whatever we do in thoughts, words and actions, we may do in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him render thanks to Thee.

ON CHURCH SINGING

“Admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grade in your hearts to God.” (Col. III. 16.)

The custom of singing in the Church-choir* has its foundation as far back as the Old Testament, when by the arrangement of David, Solomon, and Ezechias, the psalms and other sacred canticles were sung by the priests and Levites. This custom the Catholic Church has retained, according to the precepts of the apostles, (I. Cor. XIV. 26; Eph. V. 19.) and the example of Jesus who, after they had eaten the Pasch, intoned a hymn of praise with His apostles, Matt XXVI. 30) that Christians on earth, like the angels and saints in heaven, (Apoc. V. 8. 9., XIV. 3.) who unceasingly sing His praises, might at certain hours of the day, at least, give praise and thanks to God. In the earliest ages of the Church, the Christians sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving during the holy Sacrifice and other devotional services, often continuing them throughout the whole night; in which case the choir-singers probably were bound to keep the singing in proper order and agreement. In the course of time this custom of all the faithful present singing together ceased in many churches, and became confined to the choir, which was accompanied later by instruments in accordance with the words of David who calls to the praise of the Lord with trumpets, with timbrels, with pleasant psaltery and harps. (Ps, CL. 3, 4., LXXX. 3. 4.) In many churches, where the faithful still sing in concert, if done with pure hearts and true devotion, it is as St. Basil says, “a heavenly occupation, a spiritual burnt offering; it enlightens the spirit, raises it towards heaven, leads man to communion with God, makes the soul rejoice, ends idle talk, puts away laughter, reminds us of the judgment, reconciles enemies. Where the singing of songs resounds’ from the contrite heart there God with the angels is present.”

*The choir is usually a gallery in the Church in which the singers are stationed; the place where the clergy sing or recite their office, is also called the choir.

GOSPEL (Matt. XIII. 24-30,) At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came, and oversowed cockle among the wheat, and went his way. And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And the servants of the good man of the house coming, said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence, then, hath it cockle? And he said to them: An enemy bath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? And he said: No, lest perhaps, gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.

What is understood by the kingdom of heaven ?

The Church of God, or the collection of all orthodox Christians on earth, destined for heaven.

What is meant by the good seed, and by the cockle?

The good seed, as Christ Himself says, (Matt. XIII. 38.) signifies the children of the kingdom, that is, the true Christians, the living members of the Church, who being converted by the word of God sown into their hearts become children of God, and bring forth the fruit of good works. The cockle means the children of iniquity, of the devil, that is, those who do evil; also every wrong, false doctrine which leads men to evil.

Who sows the good seed, and by the cockle?

The good seed is sown by Jesus, the Son of Man not only directly, but through His apostles, and the priests, their successors; the evil seed is sown by the devil, or by wicked men whom he uses as his tools.

Who are the men who were asleep?

Those superiors in the Church; those bishops and pastors who take no care of their flock, and do not warn them against seduction, when the devil comes and by wicked men sows the cockle of erroneous doctrine and of crime; and those men who are careless and neglect to hear the word of God and the sacrifice of the Mass, who neglect to pray, and do not receive the Sacraments. In the souls of such the devil sows the seeds of bad thoughts, evil imaginations and desires, from which spring, later, the cockle of pride, impurity, anger, envy, avarice, etc.

Why does not God allow the cockle, that is, the wicked people, to be rooted out and destroyed?

Because of His patience and long suffering towards the sinner to whom He gives time for repentance, and because of His love for the just from whom He would not, by weeding out the unjust, take away the occasion of practicing virtue and gathering up merits for themselves; for because of the unjust, the just have numerous opportunities to exercise patience, humility, etc.

When is the time of the harvest?

The day of the last judgment when the reapers, that is, the angels, will go out and separate the wicked from the just, and throw the wicked into the fiery furnace; while the just will be taken into everlasting joy. (Matt. XIII. 29.)

PRAYER O faithful Jesus, Thou great lover of our souls, who hast sown the good seed of Thy Divine Word in our hearts, grant that it may be productive, and bear in us fruit for eternal life; protect us from our evil enemy, that he may not sow his erroneous and false doctrine in our hearts, and corrupt the good; preserve us from the sleep of sin, and sloth that we may remain always vigilant and armed against the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, overcome them manfully, and die a happy death. Amen.

ON INCLINATION TO EVIL

Whence then hath it cockle? (Matt. XIII. 27.)

Whence comes the inclination to evil in man?

It is the sad consequence of original sin, that is, of that sin which our first parents, by their disobedience, committed in paradise, and which we as their descendants have inherited. This inclination to evil remains even in those who have been baptized, although original sin with its guilt and eternal punishment is taken away in baptism, but it is no sin so long as man does not voluntarily yield. (Cat. Rom. Part. II. 2. .43.)

Why, the sin being removed, does the inclination remain?

To humble us that we may know our frailty and misery, and have recourse to God, our best and most powerful Father, as did St. Paul, when he was much annoyed by the devil of the flesh; (II. Cor. XII. 7. 8.) that the glory of God and the power of Christ should be manifested in us, which except for our weakness could not be; that we might have occasion to fight and to conquer. A soldier cannot battle without opposition, nor win victory and the crown without a contest. Nor can we win the heavenly crown, if no occasion is given us, by temptations, for fight and for victory. “That which tries the combatant,” says St. Bernard, “crowns the conqueror.” Finally, the inclination remains, that we may learn to endure, in all meekness, the faults and infirmities of others and to watch ourselves, lest we fall into the same temptations.

February 9, 2019   No Comments

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year

[The Introit of the Mass as on the preceding Sunday.]

COLLECT O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so great perils, that because of the frailty of our nature we cannot stand; grant to us health of mind and body, that those things which we suffer for our sins, we may by Thy aid overcome. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord &c.

EPISTLE (Romans XIII. 8-10.) Brethren, owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For thou shaft not commit adultery; thou shaft not kill; thou shaft not steal; thou shaft not bear false witness; thou shaft not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shaft love thy neighbor as thyself. The love of our neighbor worketh no evil. Love, therefore, is the fulfilling of the law.

What is meant by St Paul’s words: He that loveth his neighbor, hath fulfilled the law?

St. Augustine in reference to these words says: that he who loves his neighbor, fulfils as well the precepts of the first as of the second tablet of the law. The reason is, that the love of our neighbor contains and presupposes the love of God as its fountain and foundation. The neighbor must be loved on account of God; for the neighbor cannot be loved with true love, if we do not first love God. On this account, the holy Evangelist St. John in his old age, always gave the exhortation: Little children, love one another. And when asked why, he answered: Because it is the command of the Lord, and it is enough to fulfill it. Therefore in this love of the neighbor which comes from the love of God and is contained in it, consists the fulfillment of the whole law. (Matt. XXII. 40.)

GOSPEL (Matt. VIII 23-27) At that time, when Jesus entered into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves; but he was asleep. And they came to him and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?

Why did Christ sleep in the boat?

To test the faith and confidence of His disciples; to exercise them in enduring the persecutions which they were afterwards to endure; to teach us that we should not waver in the storms of temptations. St. Augustine writes: “Christ slept, and because of the danger the disciples were confused. Why? Because Christ slept. In like manner thy heart becomes confused, thy ship unquiet, when the waves of temptation break over it. Why? Because thy faith sleeps. Then thou shouldst awaken Christ in thy heart; then thy faith should be awakened, thy conscience quieted, thy ship calmed.”

Why did Christ reproach His disciples when they awaked Him and asked for help?

Because of their little faith and trust; for if they firmly believed Him to be true God, they would necessarily believe He could aid them sleeping as well as waking.

Nothing so displeases God as to doubt His powerful assistance. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh (mortal man) his arm (aid), and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. (Jerem. XVII. 5. 7.) God sometimes permits storms to assail us, such as poverty, persecution, sickness, so that we may have occasion to put our confidence in Him alone. Of this St. Bernard very beautifully says: “When the world rages, when the wicked become furious, when the flesh turns against the spirit, I will hope in Him. Who ever trusted in Him, and was put to shame?” We should therefore trust in God only, and take refuge to Him, invoking Him as did the disciples: Lord, save us, we perish; or cry out with David: Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end. (Ps. XLIII. 23.)

Why did Jesus stand up and command the sea to be still?

To show His readiness to aid us, and His omnipotence to which all things are subject. His disciples who saw this miracle, wondered and said: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey Him?

We see daily in all creatures the wonders of the Omnipotence, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, and yet we are not touched; we continue cold and indifferent. The reason is, that we look upon all with the eyes of the body and not with the eyes of the soul; that is, we do not seek to ascend by meditation to the Creator, and to judge from the manifold beauty and usefulness of created things the goodness and the wisdom of God. The saints rejoiced in all the works of the Lord; a flower, a little worm of the earth would move the heart of St. Francis of Sales, and St. Francis the Seraph, to wonderment and to the love of God; they ascended, as on a ladder, from the contemplation of creatures to Him who gives to every thing life, motion, and existence. If we were to follow their example, we would certainly love God more, and more ardently desire Him; if we do not, we live like irrational men, we who were created only to know and to love God.

ASPIRATION Grant us, O good Jesus! in all our needs, a great confidence in Thy divine assistance, and do not allow us to become faint-hearted; let Thy assistance come to us in the many dangers to which we are exposed; command the turbulent winds and waves of persecution to be still, and give peace and calmness to Thy Church, which Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood, that we may serve Thee in sanctity and justice, and arrive safely at the desired haven of eternal happiness. Amen.

ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD

But he was asleep. (Matt VIII. 24.)

It is an article of faith in the holy Catholic Church that God has not only created the world, but that He sustains and governs it; this preservation and ruling of the whole world and of each individual creature is called Providence. There are people who think that God is too great a Lord to busy Himself about the care of this world, that to do so is beneath His majesty; it was enough for Him to create the world, for the rest, He leaves it to itself or to fate, enjoys His own happiness, and, as it were, sleeps in regard to us. Thus think some, but only the ignorant and impious. Were He as these imagine Him, He would not or could not have aught to do with creation. If He could not, then He is neither all-wise nor almighty, if He would not, then He is not good; and if He knows nothing of the world, then He is not omniscient.

If we once believe that God created the world, (and what rational man can doubt it?) then we must also believe He rules and sustains it. Can any work of art, however well constructed and arranged, subsist without some one to take charge of and watch aver the same? Would not the greatest of all master-pieces, the world, therefore come to the greatest confusion and fall back into its original nothingness, if God, who created it from nothing, did not take care of its further order and existence? It is indeed true that the method of Divine Providence with which God controls all things is so mysterious that, when considering some events, one is persuaded to admit a necessary fate, an accident, the course of nature, the ill will of the devil or man, as the fundamental cause. Yet in all this the providence of God is not denied, for nothing does or can happen accidentally, not the smallest thing occurs without the knowledge, permission, or direction of God. Not one sparrow shall fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matt. X. 29. 30.) Chance, fate, and luck are but the ideas of insane or wicked men, which even the more rational heathens have rejected, and the course of nature is but the constant, uninterrupted, all-wise and bountiful preservation and government of creation through God. The perverted will of men or of the devil is but the instrument which God in His all-wise intention, uses to effect the good, for He knows how to produce good from evil, and, therefore, as St. Augustine says, “permits the evil that the good may not be left undone.” If we peruse the history of our first parents, of Abraham, of Joseph in Egypt, of Moses, of the people of Israel, of Job, Ruth, David, Tobias, Esther, Judith and others, we will easily see everywhere the plainest signs of the wisest Providence, the best and most careful, absolute power, by virtue of which God knows how to direct all things according to His desire, and for the good of His chosen ones. The gospel of this day furnishes us an instance of this? Why did Christ go into the boat? Why did a storm arise? Why was He asleep? Did all this occur by accident? No, it came about designedly by the ordinance of Christ that His omnipotence might be seen, and the faith and confidence of His disciples be strengthened.

Thus it is certain that God foresees, directs, and governs all; as Scripture, reason, and daily experience prove. Would we but pay more attention to many events of our lives, we would certainly notice the providence of God, and give ourselves up to His guidance and dispensations. The Lord ruleth me, and I shall want nothing, says David. (Ps. XXII. 1.) And we also, we shall want nothing if we resign ourselves to God’s will, and are contented with His dispensations in our regard; while, on the contrary, if we oppose His will, we shall fall into misfortune and error. God must rule over us with goodness, or with sternness, He is no slumbering God. Behold! He shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keepeth Israel. (Ps. CXX. 4.)

February 2, 2019   No Comments

First Friday & First Saturday Mass Schedule for February 2019

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 The Traditional Latin Mass will be offered on

Friday, February 1st and Saturday, February 2nd 
at:
Church of the Immaculate Conception 
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
602 West Avenue
Jenkintown, PA 19046

(215) 884-4022

Confession and Mass will be upstairs.  The new elevator is now installed, and entry is possible from the lower level as well as through the main doors on West Avenue.

First Friday, February 1st
Priest: Rev. Harold B. Mc Kale (Parish Vicar, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church)
Location:  Church of the Immaculate Conception, Main Church
Time: 7:00 p.m., preceded by Confessions upstairs at 6:30 p.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with a Commemoration of St. Ignatius of Antioch, offered in Reparation to The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Saturday, February 2nd
Priest: Rev. Harold B. Mc Kale (Parish Vicar, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church
Location:   Church of the Immaculate Conception, Main Church
Time: 9:00 a.m., preceded by Confessions at 8:30 a.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Mass of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (with blessing of candles), offered in Reparation to The Immaculate Heart of Mary.
 
For further information, please contact Mark Matthews or Pamela Maran at (215) 947-6555.

 

January 31, 2019   No Comments

What Does the Suppression of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei Mean?

I agree with many who have written that, materially, this motu proprio (full translation here) delivers no gigantic shocks. It does not abolish the functions of the PCED but transfers them internally to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It does not suggest any limitation on Summorum Pontificum or on any of the religious orders and communities that make use of the usus antiquior. It does not hint at any further steps of limitation or ghettoizing of traditionalists. Above all, it does not transfer any of the former competencies of the PCED to other Roman dicasteries that would surely have made mincemeat of them. In that sense, the bullet some were fearing has been dodged.

Nevertheless, one might have some concerns about the implications of the step the Pope has taken.

When Pope Francis summarizes his conception of the function of the PCED, he uses terms that are more limited than the scope Pope Benedict XVI assigned to PCED in the wake of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. Francis speaks as if PCED existed to reconcile the SSPX and to regulate the life of other communities and orders that have chosen the usus antiquior. But as we all know, the Commission has spent a great deal of its time working patiently with bishops and clergy around the world who obstruct or deny the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. In this sense it is not quite true to say that the questions dealt with by the Commission “were of a primarily doctrinal nature.”

If the folding of the Commission into the CDF causes it to enjoy less independence and maneuverability for dealing with the refractory, this would be a narrowing of Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral program. We may hope that this does not occur; time will tell.

The motu proprio claims that “today the conditions which led the Holy Pontiff John Paul II to institute the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei have changed.” In many ways, this is true; but in other respects, the situation is still similar: there are many parishes desirous of the usus antiquior that have been denied it contra legem; there are groups of men and women religious who desire to incorporate it into their life and have faced stonewalling; and there are communities that have been suppressed because they too eagerly adopted the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

Admittedly, it is an advantage for the dialogue with the SSPX that they will be dealing solely with the CDF, since it is a higher and more authoritative body. One wonders, however, if this administrative restructuring might be to the disadvantage of Catholic clergy, religious, and laity who, already in full communion with the Church, are facing difficulties that were handled by the Commission under its own head, Archbishop Pozzo, who has now been dismissed. The CDF has, of course, authority of a much higher standing, but it must choose to bring that authority to bear on those who stubbornly oppose the rights of the clergy and the faithful attached to the usus antiquior.

Then one may inquire about the unwritten message this change may transmit. Until now, the matter of implementing Summorum Pontificum has been deemed important enough to require a Pontifical Commission headed by an Archbishop. Could the new motu proprio be meant to insinuate that the urgency of this issue has passed? Sometimes reorganization, especially in this pontificate, seems to mean downgrading. Does it telegraph that dialogue with the SSPX is a priority, while fielding other issues is not, or considerably less so?

An anonymous Vatican commentator cited by Chris Altieri at the (US) Catholic Herald says: “It makes sense to ‘fold’ Ecclesia Dei — its duties and competencies — into CDF.” It surely makes sense for the SSPX doctrinal talks to be conducted by the CDF; but why would the handling of traditional religious orders and communities, or rubrical and calendrical issues, or cases of pastoral non-compliance on the part of ordinaries and superiors, be confided to a congregation that monitors orthodoxy of faith and morals? As a counterpoint, though, we might recall that all aspects of the Anglican Ordinariates are already handled by the CDF, including questions of clerical discipline and liturgy. One may also point out the sober truth that the preponderance of work now confided to the CDF concerns clerical abuse. The Congregation, in other words, is a multi-disciplinary body, wielding a great deal of authority, and amply furbished with Consultors.

Some have optimistically read into the decision a recognition that the real issues at the heart of the traditionalist/mainstream divide are doctrinal in nature, rather than liturgical or canonical. Now, it is quite true that the real issues are doctrinal. But this motu proprio limits doctrinal difficulties to the SSPX and kindred groups. I am happy to be proved wrong, and to see the new arrangement as an upgrade for all adherents of liturgical and doctrinal tradition.

It is possible that the CDF will prove entirely friendly to the new special section and will see to it that the work already admirably done by the Commission over the past 30 years will continue energetically, albeit in a different setting. Perhaps the change will add up to little more than having a different letterhead for correspondence. In a best case scenario, the CDF may throw its muscle behind the issues with which PCED has dealt in the past, and make better headway. For this we must pray.

In the end, one thing is absolutely clear. It is not administrative structures or even their governing documents that make decisions or protect rights; people do. The ultimate effects of this change depend entirely on the officials who are in charge of the section and of the CDF itself. As Pope Leo XIII explains in his encyclical Au Milieu des Sollicitudes:

In so much does legislation differ from political power and its form, that under a system of government most excellent in form legislation could be detestable; while quite the opposite under a regime most imperfect in form, might be found excellent legislation. … Legislation is the work of men invested with power, and who, in fact, govern the nation; therefore it follows that, practically, the quality of the laws depends more upon the quality of these men than upon the power. The laws will be good or bad accordingly as the minds of the legislators are imbued with good or bad principles, and as they allow themselves to be guided by political prudence or by passion.

Whether we have a Commission or a Section; whether the substance of concern be portrayed as doctrinal or disciplinary and pastoral; whether separateness is better than incorporation, or vice versa — everything now hinges on the leadership of the CDF, the staffing decisions, and the marching orders that are officially or unofficially conveyed to the CDF by the Holy Father.

January 30, 2019   No Comments

The Baroque: Tridentine Art for the Latin Mass

, from The New Liturgical Movement, by Gregory DiPippo

Is there a natural style of sacred art for the Latin Mass?

The Mass, at the heart of the liturgy as a whole and as it was celebrated after the Council of Trent, was the driving force for a cultural movement formed in response to the Protestant “reformers”, which is often called the Counter-Reformation. This is, to all intents and purposes, the Mass of the 1962 Missal. The Council of Trent was the impetus behind the development of an artistic style that was in harmony with it and eventually became what is today called the Baroque.

The art that developed after the Council closed in the mid-16th century did so as a result of some simple directives of the Council, so as to serve the worship of the faithful in the liturgy. While the liturgy itself was the most important influence, there were external influences as well. The tradition grew out of the style of the masters of the High Renaissance and other great painters of the 16th century, especially Titian. This was the Baroque style.

Caravaggio is credited with popularizing the style, beginning around 1600, but perhaps a better articulation of what became the Baroque style was done slightly earlier by another Italian, Federico Barocci (yes Federico, not Frederico!) Consider this painting of St Jerome from 1598.

I have never read any historical account that confirms this, but I have often wondered if the mysterious name for the style, Baroque, is in part a play on his name. Certainly, his work of this period bears all the hallmarks of the tradition and was pioneering. Notice certain features that are the hallmarks of Baroque art:

  • The figure of St Jerome is painted with the most naturalistic coloration and is most brightly lit, most detailed in its rendering, and most sharply focused. All of these are devices to attract the eye to the most important part of the composition.
  • He draws attention to the figure, further, by contrast with the background, for which he uses a limited palette, in this case, one color, sepia, which he only varies tonally. There is very little detail in the rendition of the background in comparison with, say, the face of St Jerome; notice how the brightest colors are in the cloth next to him. And the sharpest contrast in tone is between the line on the edge of his right elbow which traces its way along his shoulder to a sharp point under the right ear. This leads our eye to the face. See also how this contrast is sharpened by making the background very dark immediately adjacent to this edge.
  • The focus, that is the sharpness and clarity of expression, varies in different parts of the painting too. The least focussed parts are those on the periphery and the most focussed are those in the primary point of interest, the face and the hands of the saint. These are the primary points of interest within the Saint because the face and gesture communicate most powerfully the mood of the person. This is how the artist communicates to the viewer of the painting that this is not a sterile wax model, but a living being with a soul. Ordinarily, we would discern this by observing a person in real time.

Compare Barocci’s with a painting from nearly 50 years later of the same subject, painted in 1646 by José De Ribera, a Spanish artist who spent most of his professional life in Italy.

Here we see the same stylistic features, but now the face of St Jerome is not the main focus. De Ribera directs us instead to the Word of God as exemplified by the scroll, on which St Jerome has written some part of his Latin translation of the Bible, By directing our eye to this, Ribera is perhaps making the point that Catholics do take Scripture seriously, against to those Protestant reformers who alleged otherwise!

The contrast between light and dark that is so pronounced in Baroque art is intended to acknowledge the evil and suffering that is present in this fallen world, but to contrast it with the Light that overcomes the darkness. By this, Christian hope which transcends suffering is portrayed.

In only a few years, this form of idealized naturalism became the model for all sacred art for the Roman Rite. As with all authentic traditions, there is room for the artist to maneuver within the bounds that define the tradition, so that we get differing individual styles – some might use a lighter ochre or a number of pigments and not exclusively sepia for the tonal rendition, for example – but broadly speaking, they all stuck to it.

Tiepolo, for example, who was from Venice, developed a lightness of touch through his use of greys and orange ochres.

The Last Supper, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1745-47

The further development of the Baroque style was cut off at the end of the 18th century and early 19th century, when the neo-classical style replaced it in the academies.

In my opinion, if we want to inspire a powerful Counter-Modern or Counter-Postmodern Catholic culture today, we need to reconnect today’s worship with art so that people are engaged with it in the course of their worship, rather than having their noses buried in missals. We cannot influence contemporary culture constructively if our culture of faith is disconnected from our worship.

This would involve in part some legitimate development of the style of worship normally associated with the 1962 Missal, I think, but also we need a style of art that works in harmony with this. One suggestion would be to re-establish the Baroque tradition (note: not 19th-century realism of the sort that we see on the ARC website) in the way that the Eastern Churches reestablished the iconographic tradition.

We start with something that is a replication of the past style. If we stopped there, it would not work, because these works I have shown are of their time and place – they really are Tridentine, of the period following the Council of Trent. Once we are able to replicate, we then begin a process of allowing contemporary influences to be absorbed,  carefully examining them to ensure that no detrimental influences come in, so that it becomes a tradition that speaks to today’s Catholics.

An example of someone who did this in the 20th century, and might be a model, at least in part, for today, is the Italian artist Annigoni, whose work I have featured on this site before.

St Benedict

January 30, 2019   No Comments

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Image result for traditional latin mass

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year, available through www.angeluspress.org.

INTROIT Adore God, all ye His angels: Sion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. (Ps. XCVI. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Almighty everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmity, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty for our protection. Through our protection. Through our etc.

EPISTLE (Rom. XII. 16-21.) Brethren, be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, having peace with all men; not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved but give place unto wrath; for it is written: Revenge is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink; for doing this, thou shaft heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.

When are we overcome by evil?

When we wish to take revenge. “Revenge is no sign of courage,” says St. Ambrose, “but rather of weakness and cowardice. As it is the sign of a very weak stomach to be unable to digest food, so it is the mark of a very weak mind to be unable to bear a harsh word.” “Are you impatient,” says the same saint, “you are overcome; are you patient, you have overcome.”

What should we do if our reputation is injured?

We should leave its revenge, or its defence and protection to God, who has retained that for Himself. “But as a good name,” says St. Francis de Sales, “is the main support of human society, and as without it we could not be useful to that society, but even hurtful to it on account of scandal, we should feel bound, for love of our neighbor, to aim after a good reputation, and to preserve it.” We should not be too sensitive about this, however, for too great a sensitiveness makes one obstinate, eccentric, and intolerable, and only tends to excite and increase the malice of the detractors. The silence and contempt with which we meet a slander or an injustice, is generally a more efficacious antidote than sensitiveness, anger, or revenge. The contempt of a slander at once disperses it, but anger shows a weakness, and gives the accusation an appearance of probability. If this does not suffice, and the slander continues, let us persevere in humility’ and lay our honor and our soul into the hands of God, according to the admonitions of the Apostle.

How do we “heap coals of fire on the head of our enemy?”

When we return him good for evil, for seeing our well meaning towards him, the flush of shame reddens his face for the wrongs he has done us. St. Augustine explains these words thus: “By giving food and drink or doing other kindnesses to your enemy, you will heap coals, not of anger, but of love, upon his head, which will inflame him to return love for love.” Learn therefore, from the example of Christ and His saints, not to allow yourself to be overcome by evil, but do good to those that hate and persecute you.

ASPIRATION Ah, that I might, according to the words of St. Paul, so live that I may be a child of the Heavenly Father, who lets His sun shine on the just and the unjust!

GOSPEL (Matt. VIII. 1-13.) At that time, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him; and behold, a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, See thou tell no man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieith at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this man: Go, and he goeth; and to another: Come, and he cometh; and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I sad to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee; and the servant was healed at the same hour.

Why did the leper say: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”?

He believed Christ to be the promised Messiah, who as true God had the power to heal him. From this we learn to have confidence in the omnipotence of God, who is a helper in all need, (Ps. CVI. 6. 73. 19.) and to leave all to the will of God, saying: Lord, if it be pleasing to Thee, and well for me, grant my petition.

Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch the leper?

To show that He was not subject to the law which forbade the touching of a leper through fear of infection, which could not affect Jesus; to reveal the health-giving, curative power of His flesh, which dispelled leprosy by the simple touch of His hand; to give us an example of humility and of love for the poor sick, that we may learn from Him to have no aversion to the infirm, but lovingly to assist the unfortunate sick for the sake of Jesus who took upon Himself the leprosy of our sins. The saints have faithfully imitated Him in their tender care for those suffering from the most disgusting diseases. Oh, how hard it will be for those to stand before the Tribunal of God at the Last Day, who cannot even bear to look at the poor and sick!

Why did Christ command the leper to tell no man?

To instruct us that we should not make known our good works in order to obtain frivolous praise, (Matt. VI 1.) which deprives us of our heavenly reward.

Why did Christ send the healed leper to the Priest?

That he might observe the law which required all the healed lepers to show themselves to the priests, to offer a sacrifice, to be examined and pronounced clean: that the priest if he beheld the miracle of the sudden cure of the leper, might know Him who had wrought the cure, to be the Messiah; and finally, to teach us that we must honor the priests because of their high position, even when they do not live in a manner worthy of their dignity, as was the case with the Jewish priests.

What is taught by the centurion’s solicitude for his servant?

That masters should take care of their sick servants, see that they are attended to in their illness, and above all that they are provided with the Sacraments. It is unchristian, even cruel and barbarous, to drive from the house a poor, sick servant, or to leave him lying in his distress without assistance or care.
Why did Christ say: I wild come and heal him?

Because of His humility, by which He, although God and Lord of lords, did not hesitate to visit a sick servant. Here Christ’s humility puts to shame many persons of position who think themselves too exalted to attend the wants of a poor servant.

Why did the centurion say: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof?

Because he recognised Christ’s divinity and his own nothingness, and therefore regarded himself as unworthy to receive Christ into his house.

From this we learn to humble ourselves, especially when we receive Christ into our hearts, hence the priest in giving holy Communion uses the centurion’s words, exhorting those to humility who are about to receive.

Why did he add: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed?

By this he publicly manifested his faith in Christ’s divinity and omnipotence, because he believed that Christ, though absent, could heal the servant by a word.

If a Gentile centurion had such faith in Christ, and such confidence in His power, should not we Christians be ashamed that we have so little faith, and confidence in God?

What is meant by: Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness?

This was said by Christ in reference to the obdurate Jews who would not believe in Him. Many pagans who receive the gospel, and live in accordance with it, will enjoy heavenly bliss with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were the most faithful friends of God, while the Jews, God’s chosen people, who as such, possessed the first claim to heaven, will, because of their unbelief and other sins, be cast into outer darkness, that is, into the deepest abyss of hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Thus it will be with those Christians who do not live in accordance with their faith. Therefore, fear lest you, for want of cooperation with God’s grace, be eternally rejected, while others who have faithfully corresponded to the divine inspirations will enter into your place in the kingdom of heaven.

ASPIRATION O Jesus, rich in consolations! grant me the leper’s faith and confidence, that in all things I may rely upon Thy omnipotence, and may resign myself to Thy divine will, and may ever honor Thy priests. Grant me, also, O most humble Jesus! the centurion’s humility, that for Thy sake, I may compassionately assist my neighbor, and by doing so render myself worthy of Thy grace and mercy.

ON RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD

Lord, if thou wilt. (Matt. VIII. 2.)

Those who in adversity as well as in prosperity, perfectly resign themselves to the will of God, and accept whatever He sends them with joy and thanks, possess heaven, as St. Chrysostom says, while yet upon earth. Those who have attained this resignation, are saddened by no adversity, because they are satisfied with all that God, their best Father, sends them, be it honor or disgrace, wealth or poverty, life or death. All happens as they wish, because they know no will but God’s, they desire nothing but that which He does and wills. God does the will of them that fear Him. (Ps. CXLIV. 10.) In the lives of the ancient Fathers we find the following: The fields and vineyards belonging to one farmer were much more fertile and yielding than were his neighbors’. They asked how it happened and he said: they should not wonder at it, because he always had the weather he wished. At this they wondered more than ever: How could that be? “I never desire other weather,” he replied, “than God wills; and because my desires are conformable to His, He gives me the fruits I wish.” This submission to the divine will is also the cause of that constant peace and undimmed joy of the saints of God, with which their hearts have overflowed here below, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings and afflictions. Who would not aspire to so happy a state? We will attain it if we believe that nothing in this world can happen to us except by the will and through the direction of God, sin and guilt excepted, for God can never be the cause of them. This the Holy Ghost inculcates by the mouth of the wise man: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God, (Eccles. XI. 14.) that is, are permitted or sent by God; all that which comes from God, is for the best, for God doeth all things well. (Mark VII. 37.) Whoever keeps these two truths always in mind, will certainly be ever contented with the will of God, and always consoled; he will taste while yet on earth the undisturbed peace of mind and foretaste of happiness which the saints had while here, and which they now eternally enjoy in heaven, because of the union of their will with the divine will.

INSTRUCTION FOR MASTERS AND SERVANTS

The master of a house should be careful to have not only obedient, faithful, willing, and industrious servants in his home, as had the centurion in the gospel, but still more, pious and God-fearing ones, for God richly blesses the master because of pious servants. Thus God blessed Laban on account of the pious Jacob, (Gen. XXX. 30.) and the house of Putiphar because of the just Joseph. (Gen. XXXIX. 5.) The master should look to the morals and Christian conduct of his servants, and not suffer irreligious subjects in his house, for he must, after this life, give an account before the tribunal of God, and he makes himself unworthy of the blessing of God, often liable to the most terrible punishment by retaining such. Will not God punish those masters and mistresses who suffer those under them to seek the dangerous occasions of sin, keep sinful company, go about at night, and lead scandalous lives? Will not God, one day, demand the souls of servants from their masters? The same punishment which will befall those who deny their faith, will rest upon careless masters and mistresses, for St. Paul the Apostle writes:

But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I. Tim. V. 8.)

Subjects should learn from the centurion’s servants who obeyed his only word, that they also should willingly, faithfully, and quickly do every thing ordered by their masters, unless it be something contrary to the law of God. They should recollect that whatever they do in obedience to their superiors, is done for God Himself. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ. (Col. III. 22-24.)

January 26, 2019   No Comments