Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saint Vincent de Paul, Confessor

Read about the life of this model of charity here.
Saint Vincent de Paul, please pray for us!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Every US Catholic Priest Ought To Be Fluent In Spanish

I will stipulate to the fact that I am an advocate of new arrivals in the US assimilating with the traditional culture of the US, and not expect us to bend to them. Far from it. My own Italian ancestors had to learn English to get along here, because everything was done in English (except the Mass, which was, at that time, in Latin, just as in Italy). My Irish ancestors already spoke English, as confirmed by their entries in the 1901 census of County Clare. My grandfather at 14 spoke both, my grandmother is listed as speaking only English, but I am told that here in the States, when they were discussing something they did not want the kids to overhear, they spoke Gaelic.

I will also stipulate that I myself have never been open to learning Spanish. I took French in grammar school, because French was the traditional language of diplomacy and art (and because that was the only language offered). I took Latin in prep school and college. If someone had suggested Spanish, I would have thought it an odd suggestion, since all that would enable me to do would be to have a meaningful conversation with the landscaper. And why would I want to do that?

Even before the current invasion of illegal aliens across our porous southern border, I had come to the conclusion that the Church needs to be better able to minister to people in Spanish. Every US Catholic priest ought to be fluent in Spanish. There are an awful lot of Hispanics, most of whom are coming to work honestly and make a new and better life here. The ones who think of themselves as some sort of vanguard in an effort to turn the US southwest back to Mexico, and this w coming here to batten off our welfare state ought to be weeded out.

I see deterioration in the Catholicity of these people. Fifty years ago, Mexico and Central and South America were 99% Catholic. Now, that number is around 70% or less. Protestant heretic missionaries have been hanging like vultures over these Catholic countries and picking off the poorly catechized. And I have a sense that this is going on in even greater percentages once Hispanics get to the US. There is also what we Irish have long known as the "Souper" phenomenon. Poor hungry Catholics start gravitating to heretic protestant missions for the free meals. Next thing you know, they have traded the True Faith for the protestant soup.

The Church in the US really does need to reach these people. And since few speak adequate English (even people I meet who have been here for 10-12 years are not able to hold a conversation in English!) that has to be done in Spanish. The souls of these folks are in danger, and not just from the heretics and schismatics. There are also the heathen Moslems to consider. They are very aggressive and use harder means of persuasion to swell their ranks. The Church needs to be more pro-active in protecting the souls of our unwary brethren in the Faith.

So how do we go about getting every priest and deacon in the US up to speed in Spanish? Young seminarians should be proficient in it (as well as in Latin and the Traditional Mass!). The bishops need to put their heads together and find wealthy Catholic donors willing and able to pay for all existing priests to learn Spanish. I think it has to be mandatory. How much does it really cost to learn to be proficient in Spanish? I would guess $3,000-$4,000. So we are talking about at least $200,000,000.00. That is a lot for the Church. Of course, it is a drop in the bucket compared to what the Church has paid out to settle pervert priest cases in the last decade and a half, though much of that came from insurance. It isn't easy to go to the donor well again with another pressing need. But getting the faithful to part with their dollars for this good cause should be easier than getting them to cover the cost of perverts.

But priests and deacons are not the only ones who need to be able to speak Spanish fluently. Parish secretaries and administrators, who field the calls and figure out why this person needs to see Father, and CCD teachers who teach to kids their catechisms, too.

And more Masses have to be said in Spanish. A better alternative would be more traditional Latin Masses, where there is no expectation of the Mass being readily understood by the people in the pews. But even there, when the readings and sermon are translated, they have to be done in Spanish as well. That is an argument for brevity and concision in sermons. But think of all the things the priests have to do outside the Mass! Confessions, baptisms, marriage preparation and counseling to name just a few! How do you effectively hear the confession of a Spanish- speaking Catholic if you only speak English? How does an English-only priest counsel a troubled marriage when the couple does not speak adequate English?

I know this is a poor time to hand down this requirement. Priests are stretched thin, often running 2 or more parishes by themselves. An awful lot is required of t already. And here is more. But what else is there to do?

I think this is a pressing necessity for the whole Church in the US, for the good of the Church itself, and for the good of so many souls.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Holy Carmelite Martyrs Of Compiegne

Today is the feast day of the Blessed Carmelites of Compiegne. On July 17th, 1794 a number of Carmelites from that city were guillotined at Paris during the Reign of Terror. Their brutal execution and the manner in which they conducted themselves (mounting the scaffold singing Laudate Domino) helped end the terror. Within a week of their execution, Robespierre fell from power and was himself introduced to Madam Guillotine.
That is not merely post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning. The French public was genuinely shocked at the brutality of the executions of these holy women. And that shock led to a reaction against the Jacobins.

They are very worthy of admiration in my view on two counts. First they were members of the Carmelite order, for which I have a special reverence. The Carmelites were instrumental in bringing me back to an active faith and regular attendance. Secondly, they were martyred by the French revolutionaries in that orgy of blood known as the Terror. Anyone martyred for the sake of the Faith by the French revolutionaries, or the Spanish Communists, or the Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian Communists, or by the Moslems, or as part of the protestant rebellion, has a special place in my devotions and is a worthy example of the devotion we all ought to have for the Faith.

A few years ago, John at The Inn At the End of the World posted this about the Carmelite martyrs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Blessed Lady Of Mount Carmel

Flos Carmeli
Flos Carmeli
vitis florigera,
splendor caeli,
virgo puerpera

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
esto propitia
stella maris.

Radix Iesse
germinans flosculum
nos ad esse
tecum in saeculum

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
serva puras
mentes fragilium

fortis pugnantium
furunt bella
tende praesidium

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
iuge solatium

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

clavis et ianua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria

Flower of Carmel,
Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven,
Childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.

Mother so tender,
Who no man didst know,
On Carmel's children
Thy favors bestow.
Star of the Sea.

Strong stem of Jesse,
Who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us
And guard us each hour,
who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies,
That flowers among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart
That in weakness turns
and trusts in thee.

Strongest of armor,
We trust in thy might:
Under thy scapular,
Hard press'd in the fight,
we call to thee.

Our way uncertain,
Surrounded by foes,
Unfailing counsel
You give to those
who turn to thee.

O gentle Mother
Who in Carmel reigns,
Share with your servants
That gladness you gained
and now enjoy.

Hail, Gate of Heaven,
With glory now crowned,
Bring us to safety
Where thy Son is found,
true joy to see.

Both the reformed and traditional calendars of feasts specify today as the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For generations, Carmelite monks maintained a monastery on Mount Carmel in what is now Syria. At the time, the Carmelites were a contemplative order under the patronage of the Blessed Mother.

In the Thirteenth Century, Simon Stock, an Englishman, became general of the Carmelite order. In 1226 Pope Honorious III recognized the rule of the Carmelite order on July 16th. On July 16th, 1251, the Blessed Mother appeared to Simon Stock, and provided him with a brown scapular, with a promise that those who wore it to honor her would be released from Purgatory on the Saturday after they died. This feast was extended to the whole Church in 1726. Simon Stock was later canonized.

I have a special devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For one thing, July 16th is my birthday. For another, when I returned to an active practice of the Faith many years ago, it was largely through the Carmelites. As I started to become active in the Church again, a Carmelite priest heard my first confession in about ten years. At the time I was without very much in the way of direction or guidance. And the Carmelite Gift shop at the North Shore Shopping Center was where I bought so many books that fed my hungry soul, books from TAN, Ignatius, Sophia and Liguori.

The Carmelite Chapel at the North Shore Shopping Center became my regular parish for almost two years. Yes, for those not familiar with the area, there is a Carmelite chapel on the lower level of a shopping mall here (and another Catholic chapel-though not Carmelite- on the main level of the Prudential Mall in Boston). It is very well-frequented - SRO for most of its Saturday Masses. It appeals to people who don't want to be attached to a regular parish, dislike the pastor at their own parish, or just don't have the time or resources to seek out a new parish.

The Carmelite Chapel in Peabody is still a very special place for me.

And since then, I have become acquainted with several third order Carmelites, and one cloistered Carmelite who took her final vows some years ago today in Iowa.

There is, of course, a standard Carmelite Scapular, for members of the order and others. But there are also many acceptable variations of the Brown Scapular. Today, I wear a very special version of the Brown Carmelite Scapular, one that depicts the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts on the front-piece.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mass Circa 1450

A very good recreation of Holy Mass as it would have been said circa 1450.

I had never seen this before.

I am not an expert on Mass before the Council of Trent codified the Tridentine Mass. But this is sufficiently familiar that I was able to follow along even without my Missal. It was a Missa Cantata, with only a clerk in place of a choir, and one acolyte. Must have been a saint's day. A Low Mass would have been the more common experience.

There were a few things I thought were anomalous. The first was that there was no commotion in the congregation as people move forward to get a good view, sometimes just outside the Rood Screen, of the Consecration. The second anomaly was that two parishioners were housled. That would not have been common prior to Pope Saint Pius X's encouragement of receiving more frequently than the required once a year at Easter. But it wasn't unheard of. Margery Kempe communicated frequently, at the urging of her spiritual director. I didn't see anybody saying their Rosary during Mass. That was common until the 1970s, and my own mother continued to do so until her death.

The congregation was certainly "actively participating". They followed the action at the altar through the Rood Screen actively, and blessed themselves and genuflected at the appropriate times. They were just as attentive as any modern congregation.

No Last Gospel. Of course no Leonine Prayers after Mass, as they were not added yet. I am sure that someone who studies the Mass as such more closely than I would have more pertinent observations.

This was a beautifully done recreation. I found myself absorbed in it. It was so familiar, with just a few little differences. It would be more of a shock if you are not familiar with the Tridentine Mass. But this is the way our ancestors worshipped, and it would not be unfamiliar to most of us. People who only know a suburban American Novus Ordo Mass would be lost.

Saint Henry, Emperor And Confessor

Saint Henry, please pray for us!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dealing With Pope Francis And Rome

"Let's talk about anything but what Pope Francis has said. Politics. Travel. Art".

"Maybe I don't want to be Catholic anymore. Never felt this way with the last two Popes".

"Pope Francis and his henchmen are destroying the Church deliberately. Kind of like Obama and the United States Constitution, or the Malaysian Airlines pilot, presumably".

These are the three main reactions I see when I surf Catholic blogs, and I give most of my old favorites a look-see every day.

Let's start off by acknowledging that I was not in favor of his election. Cardinal Burke would have been my choice. Or Cardinal Pell. Or Cardinal Arinze. In fact, I felt quite let down by the Cardinals with this selection. As the Brits would say, "browned off".

The liberals, led by most of the American cardinals, and the Curial cardinals, plus the Italians and South Americans coalesced for various reasons into a voting bloc that put the Argentine prelate, who had been the great liberal hope against Benedict in the previous conclave, on the throne of Saint Peter.

And we will also stipulate that much that Francis has said and done makes me deeply uncomfortable. He is no fan of the things I like and the way I like things done. Nor am I of his.

The litany of traditionalist's legitimate gripes grows longer with each passing month. The mocking of traditionalists as people following a fad. Washing the feet of women and non-Catholics on Maundy Thursday. Twice. The brutal frontal assault on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate for veering down the traditionalist path. The disdain for the trappings of his office. The invitation to all and sundry to ignore the Congregation For the Doctrine Of the Faith. The pushing for local bishops' conferences to take authority from Rome. Promoting bad Marini. Not following the liturgical instincts of good Marini. "Who am I to judge?". This upcoming synod on "family" issues.

Ok. So we have somebody with a very different agenda and mindset here. Different from Benedict's. Different from mine. Do I understand where he is coming from?


To do that, I would have to know a lot more about his background in the odd melange of Argentine society and culture, as it has developed in its Peronist and Post- Peronist periods. I would need to know a lot more about the Jesuits than my 7 years at Boston College, with only peripheral dealings with any of them, could bring. I would need to understand more about the Church on the ground in South America. Those are not my fields of interest.

So, I don't get this guy. Probably never will.

I got, or thought I got, Saint John Paul and Benedict. I was in tune with them, especially Benedict. Or at least I thought I was until that resignation thing.

So how do I cope with this state of affairs?

First, I try to look on the bright side.

Pope Francis has done a few things, and said a few things, that have had me saying, "Amen".

The appointments to vacant sees have been good, though I agree that most of the better ones were probably "in the pipeline" from Pope Benedict, and from when Cardinal Burke had a lot of input on American appointments.

He frankly admitted the existence of a gay mafia in the Vatican. But he then appointed a well-connected member of it to even higher office. Face palm, followed by head hitting desk. Repeatedly.

I like that Francis often forthrightly warns of the Devil and his influence, more so than most American parish priests, certainly more than most Jesuits! We here in the West often doubt the existence of Satan, and downplay Hell, saying it isn't so bad, with little positive suffering. Right. Don't want to find out the hard way about that!

The hammer does occasionally come down on deserving targets. The Mafia. Greg Reynolds. WomynPriests. LCWR. Thumbs up for that!

Maybe there is something to the move towards austerity and economy in Rome. If a secular head of state emphasized austerity in government like the Holy Father has, he would be universally applauded.

Reshuffling the Curia never hurts. Don't let the Lavender Powder Puff boys get too comfortable.

And his emphasis on actually doing what Our Lord told the Church and its members to do has to be a good thing. Actually bringing the Lord's message to people. What a unique idea! We really ought to have been doing that all along. All the more so with every country in the West inundated with floods of Moslems, Buddhists, animists, atheists, and the unchurched. Shame on us that we have not been doing that adequately!

Maybe it is a good thing that the Holy Father is not living as a prisoner in a museum.

As bright sides go, that isn't a lot. But at least it is something. "Accentuate the positive...".

The second way of coping with this pontificate stems from who I am and what I have experienced, both personally and genetically.

I am an Irish and Italian Catholic. I identify more with my Irish side. My Irish ancestors endured real persecution as Catholics. The Italians, not so much.

Remember all that stuff about Cromwell, Irish Martyrs, Mass Rocks, and bloody heathen Protestant Englishmen, Christmas candles in the window so fugitive hunted priests would know the house was safe for saying Mass in, and here in the US, No Irish Need Apply, and the burning of the Ursuline convent in Charlestown?

It is there in my blood. A remote kinsman of mine was Bishop of Boston around the time when the Ursulines were burned out. Or close enough to the event.

Being Catholic is part and parcel to who I am. Nothing can or will change that. Despite the fact that Englishmen and Irishmen are both fair skinned, moody, clannish, xenophobic, proud, haughty denizens of damp, rainy islands on the North Atlantic periphery of Europe, who adore horse racing and fox hunting, you can tell them apart. The Irishmen are Catholic!

My whole upbringing, with big old crucifixes in every room of the house, Rosary beads, old Missals, pictures of the Immaculate Heart hanging about the house, weekly Mass, 19 years of Catholic school (1-L3), meatless Fridays and Stations of the Cross during Lent, visits to Catholic cemeteries for the frequent funerals of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors helped form me.

The only shame is that, with all those advantages, I am such a horrible Catholic!

But Catholic I am, as well as sinner.

No bad Pope is going to change that.

Shudder. "Bad pope, you say? That can't happen! The Holy Ghost wouldn't allow it!".

Think like an adult, not a child! Of course it can. In the history of the Church there have been more than a few. Sometimes outright rotters. Some holy but weak, misguided or wrong-headed pontiffs.

There have been terrible popes! There have been foolish popes. There have been feckless popes. There have been indifferent popes. And there have been great popes, holy popes, sublime teachers and shepherds, weak popes, and strong popes. It is nonsense to say they are all great leaders and inspiring shepherds.

Popes come and popes go. But the Faith stays the same.

I was too young for Saint John XXIII, but my honest assessment of him would label him somewhat foolish, however good and saintly. A breath of fresh air, indeed!

Paul VI was a weak pope who let the liberals get the better of him in ways he didn't even understand. He could have controlled much better what Pope Roncalli and the Council set in motion, but didn't. His one great achievement was Humanae Vitae. Holy, oh yes. The man wore a hair shirt under his clericals. Saint material? I don't know. You can be a very holy man and still be an awful, weak Pope. But weak Popes can be saints. Look at Saint Pope Celestine.

John Paul I was unpromising. But the man died while reading my favorite book, The Imitation Of Christ, so I'll cut him some slack.

Saint John Paul II achieved great things. The fall of Soviet communism is a world historical achievement he shares with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The Catechism. The Divine Mercy devotion. Bringing the Church to a state of stability after the free fall of Paul VI's reign. He had his faults. The man wasn't God, after all, just a saint!

Benedict XVI was what the Church needed after things got a little out of hand from lack of oversight during the years of John Paul's illness. A sublime teacher. His weekly audiences were a wonderful workshop on the Doctors of the Church. He appointed mostly good bishops and cardinals. Not quite enough of them, though. I think he got a nasty surprise when his protege Levada was one of the leaders in electing a Pope as different from Benedict as possible. Summorum Pontificum, Universae Ecclesiae, the Anglican ordinariates. Should have stayed in office until the day he died though!

The jury is still out on Francis. I'm not thrilled so far. I may end up regarding him as the worst since Paul VI. Or maybe not.

But no matter what he does or how I end up evaluating his papacy, he can't change who I am!

This brings me to my third coping mechanism that hopefully will see me through the reign of our current Holy Father.

Since I was very poorly catechized in the opening days of the "Butterfly Curriculum" of post- Vatican II Catholic education, discovering the traditional Mass and traditional devotions has been a voyage of discovery for me. I have a lot still to learn.

The day to day minutiae of being a traditional Catholic takes getting used to. Eleven years after my first traditional Mass, I am still settling in.

I am still learning the ins and outs of personal parishes, who comes under the jurisdiction of Ecclesia Dei and who under the Congregation For the Clergy.

The daily flow of the liturgical year with its seasons, Ember Days, Rogation Days, the feasts of the saints, days of Precept, novena periods, Octaves, Advent, Lent, Paschal Time, the Time After Pentecost, and the devotions and indulgences that move with the season keep me pretty busy.

A daily Holy Hour is a great remedy against obsessing over whose feet the Pope is washing, even when he is blatantly ignoring custom and tradition.

Customizing your own crucifix with realistic wounds of Our Lord and building a portable shrine for it help to keep you too busy to worry overmuch about the FFI. Especially if they staffed no churches within 200 miles of you.

I started praying the traditional Little Office Of Our Blessed Lady on Saturdays a year ago. I am still getting the hang of the various seasonal variations of the office. When do you skip the Alleluia, when do you switch over to the Salve Regina at Compline (Saturday after Pentecost, or the Saturday after that?).

Then there are the riches of Catholic art and music! There is so much there! Illuminated Books Of Hours, Renaissance masterpieces, Palestrina Masses, the Saintes Chappelle, baroque churches, Pugin and Gothic Revival church buildings, Relics, even holy cards and early 20th century Father Lasance prayer books are enough to occupy my mind.

Art history was only a minor part of my education, so distinguishing the work of Reni from Tintoretto takes me time.

All these kerfuffles out of Rome get out of me nowadays is a shaking of the head and a rolling of the eyes. To be honest, I think Pope Bergoglio gets a little thrill out of getting under the skin of the more tight-assed of my traditionalist brethern.

He must have had to deal with some real pieces of work in the traditionalist community in Argentina, to have such an animus against folks he should regard as allies safely in his vest pocket.

I recall that one of the first things I heard him talk about was priests denying baptism to the children of unmarried couples. Not a problem here in the States or in Europe where even the most conservative and traditionalist priests rightly take the "more pastoral approach" and get the kid baptized. But it must have been quite a problem in Argentina!

He may himself be a real piece of work! But he is the Pope. The Keys Of the Kingdom are uniquely his as the successor to Saint Peter and Christ's Vicar On Earth. And for better or worse, the Catholic world owes him obedience.

I may in the end regard him as a good Pope, a bad Pope, or an indifferent Pope. Or something else.

I'm far too busy being a traditional Catholic, learning to do it more correctly, to be over-concerned about what is going on in Rome. And after all is said and done, isn't understanding and implementing traditional Catholic life and practices so that we can pass them down to the next generation a more important objective than worrying about this or that bit of dicta from the Holy Father?

Update: Kat Fernandez at The Crescat quotes at length someone else making some of the same points, and agrees. Great minds... .

I wholeheartedly agree that the fixation with every dicta that comes out of the mouth of the Holy Father from Catholics all over the world is a very new thing. The advanced communications tools of the present age breeds it. In the last two pontificates, Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict were very circumspect in what they said to reporters. Pope Francis is much less guarded. But it really does not matter what he says to Catholics just living and praying a Catholic life.

Saint Bonaventure, Bishop, Confessor, And Doctor Of the Church

Today is the feast of this great Franciscan and Doctor Of the Church.

Prayer by Saint Bonaventure:

Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee, may yearn for Thee and for thy courts, may long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.
Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and super substantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delightful taste.
May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, Whom the angels desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst for Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the fullness of the house of God;
may it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, come up to Thee, meditate on Thee, speak of Thee, and do all for the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, with perseverance to the end; and be Thou alone ever my hope, my entire confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably. Amen.

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