Archives for February 2011

Reform the reform (part 1)

Pope Benedict XVI

It has been 1 year plus 1 day since I became Catholic (formally, at least). Since that time I have learned a lot more about our amazing faith. There remains much more to learn and much that I may never learn.

The Catholic faith is unchanging. That is one of several things that attracted me to look closer in the first place. Coming from a Protestant community where beliefs changed by popular vote, I am particularly sensitive to this. I also firmly believe that changing faith leads to dissolution as seen in many Protestant denominations.

That said, how we practice our faith liturgically can and does change, if very slowly. Vatican II, ending 46 years ago, was the impetus for the last major changes. Following that, Mass in vernacular languages (i.e. other than Latin; local) was permitted (although NOT required) and increased participation of the laity in the liturgy.

The teachings of Vatican II are truly excellent. For example, Pope Paul VI describes the “source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324) as follows:

Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It. Thus both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion all take part in this liturgical service, not indeed, all in the same way but each in that way which is proper to himself. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God which is suitably signified and wondrously brought about by this most august sacrament.

Lumen Gentium 11

In the years after Vatican II ended, the changes in the Mass and other practices were made presumably in accordance with it. Presumably because in practice, some of the changes do not have any direct linkage with it but were made instead “in the spirit of Vatican II.” However well meaning, these changes were not decisions of the 21st Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church but were the decisions of others.

Changes following Vatican II have made our Catholic faith more approachable and that is a good thing. The excesses in liberalization of practices and “Protestantization” of some aspects of Mass are not. There are extremists on both sides of this discussion. Some want to aggressively continue “in the spirit of Vatican II” almost to a Unitarian least common denominator. Others want to drop the Ordinary Form (a/k/a Novus Ordo, new Mass) and return to the 1962 Latin form exclusively.

I am at neither of these extremes, but from what I have read and what I have seen, believe that the moves our Holy Father has made to address the excesses are excellent. The corrected translation of the English Mass to be effective next Advent is a good example. Yet, the liberal forces are already fighting it. Just last week a group of Irish priests made “an urgent plea” to delay the correction “for at least another 5 years” or until hell freezes over, which ever comes later. OK, I made up that second part but that is probably closer to their unspoken intent.

Mass, as it is even now, is beyond words. The best I can do is to remind us that Mass is a supernatural mystery where heaven and earth touch, angels and saints join us as the Last Supper and Calvary are made present. The body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus is literally confected in the Eucharist — in which we are united with Christ and each other through all time and space.

Pope Benedict XVI describes the liturgy as where “God and man meet each other in an embrace of salvation.”

I also believe that while it as sacred as ever, Vatican II “spirit” changes have made it less reverent. Not just the extreme liturgical abuses such as “liturgical dance,” but smaller abuses and practices. What exactly Mass is becomes lost. The poorly catechized may not see it as particularly different than any Christian worship service. Their sense of the real presence of Christ becomes questioning. Ultimately they may leave. The zeal of the faithful is also diminished. It is a very serious issue.

The reason the Latin Mass is having a revival is in response to this. The rubrics are more demanding, the words more difficult to change and novelties (abuses) more difficult to introduce. I have a lot of empathy for why so many faithful Catholics feel this way.

After Vatican II, some foresaw the dangers. Some overreacted. The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) comes to mind. They rejected the authority of the Church, not unlike the Protestant Reformation, to practice pre-Vatican II Catholicism. While there has been some progress at reunification, they remain in schism with the Church. Theirs is not a solution.

Much better is The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP). They were established by Pope John Paul II as a society of apostolic life. Their mission is in support of the traditional liturgy (i.e. 1962 / Latin) of the Church. FSSP Masses are offered worldwide, particularly in the US and Europe. They even have a parish in my archdiocese.

Many people are unaware of the FSSP. For that matter, many believe that the Latin Mass was consigned to history by Vatican II. That was never the case. John Paul II decreed by his Apostolic authority in Ecclesia Dei that respect be shown to those who desired the older forms of worship and that the provisions for older forms of worship be generously applied.

The Vicar of Christ was ignored and instead, many road blocks were erected by the more liberal bishops. In many places, it was difficult or impossible for a priest to say Mass in Latin. In 2002, Pope Benedict XVI addressed this and went much further in Summorum Pontificum. Now, every priest has direct authority to offer Mass in Latin (permission from his bishop is clearly not required). Not only that, but pastors must see to the requests of the faithful for Mass in the older form (either the 1962 or 2002 Missale Romanum). Moreover, should they not be able for some reason to do so themselves, their bishop must assist in fulfilling the request. No more “Mr. Nice Guy.”

I am intrigued by the forms of Latin Mass and think that having it more widely available is a very good thing. However, the Ordinary Form (OF; e.g. in English) Mass is not going away either nor should it. It should be corrected and strengthened. Abuses, excesses and the taking of liberties should be reigned in. This will cause howls of protest, but the faith will be stronger for it.

I will complete this topic next Tuesday with my personal hopes and reasoning.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #22)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Stealth technology hides pro-life marches. Press coverage is more than merely biased. A 2011 SFO March for Life picture essay. Chick-Fil-A under attack for their Christian values. Ongoing scandal at the CCHD. Tax payer support for child sex slave entrepreneurs. Martin Luther King would support homosexual marriage – NOT.

— 1 —

Ever wonder how hundreds of thousands of pro-life (also true for Tea Party) supporters can march in Washington and nobody notices? Even a hundred pro-abort protesters are immediately detected by the mainstream media. Matthew Archbold discloses it can only be explained by the use of super-secret stealth technology being deployed by the pro-life forces. The military must be investigating. Imagine making 2 entire armies, 6 corps, 20 divisions, 100 brigades / regiments – totally invisible! Read his fascinating exposé for the full scoop. It’s a hoot!

— 2 —

More seriously, here is an excellent video that takes a look at the mainstream media’s bias. Well, not just blatant bias, but unabashedly fraudulent coverage:

— 3 —

While the Washington DC 2011 March for Life was many, many times larger – local rallies such as this one in San Francisco were notable too. This one alone had around 50,000 pro-life supporters vs. around 100 (loud, obnoxious) pro-aborts. tells the story wonderfully in pictures, such as this one:

Pretend I Am A Tree

For some great picture coverage of the Washington DC March, see Matt Cassens’ St. Blogustine blog.

— 4 —

Chick-Fil-A is a privately owned restaurant chain operated by Christian principals. Their food, cleanliness and service are all top-notch. They deserve your support.

Recently, the gay lobby locked onto them because one of their locations donated food to a local seminar called “The Art of Marriage: Getting to the Heart of God’s Design.” Of course, they were outraged. The rigid intolerance of the gay lobby for any viewpoint but their own is on full display. Please support Chick-Fil-A. How many other large businesses do you know of that actually operate by true Christian beliefs? If you use Facebook, be sure to “like” their page.

— 5 —

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has long standing problems. Specifically, they have an (unfortunately) on-going history of funneling your contributions to organizations and groups with positions exactly opposite of authentic Catholic teaching. There are numerous examples. Patrick Archbold uncovered the fact that the campaign’s director concurrently served as the treasurer for a pro-abortion democrat attempting to unseat a pro-life republican. He also endorsed her campaign and permitted his name to be used.

In a follow-up, his excuse as summarized by Matthew was “even though McCloud and Davis were co-workers and such BFF’s that she asked him to vouch for her by being treasurer, the topic of abortion never came up and he never thought to ask. Plus, he wasn’t a very good campaign treasurer, so poor in fact that he completely forgot that he was treasurer for an entire year while Director at the CCHD.” Really. Follow the link and read it for yourself.

— 6 —

OK, say you are a pimp and just imported a batch of under-aged sex slaves (as young as 14). You want to get them tested. You want birth control and abortions as necessary. You don’t want to pay much. Who do you turn to? Planned Parenthood, of course. They will help you work around the laws or teach you how to violate them without getting caught. They will handle your language problems. Consider them your small business partner. Here is a recent case study:

— 7 —

With the recent Martin Luther King day, many recalled his good works. Some, chose to pervert his conservative Christian values into exactly the opposite. That was the work, predictably, of homosexual activists. Shameful. The CNA has a good piece on this entitled Christian leaders rally against gay activists ‘hijacking’ Martin Luther King legacy.

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Prayer and contrition

Prayer And Contrition

I have “found,” at least for me, a linkage between prayer and contrition. Specifically how prayer can lead to “more perfect” contrition (for lack of a better description).

Contrition is sorrow for one’s sins and is required for God’s forgiveness. But why should we care? Basically two reasons: (1) fear of damnation and (2) because we have turned away from God by failing to give Him the complete love He deserves. When our contrition is perfect, our sorrow is 100% and completely for the latter reason.

Mortal sins (see What harm is a little sin?) may be forgiven through perfect contrition. Actual perfect contrition is uncommon. If it were the only means to receive forgiveness for mortal sins then our situation would be very sad indeed. Fortunately, Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through this sacrament we can receive absolution for our sins even though our contrition is imperfect.

Perfect contrition is difficult because the sorrow is based only on the severed relationship with God. Sorrows focused, even partially, on ourselves are imperfections. Will I be damned to hell? How much time will this cost me in purgatory? I am 99% sorry but he/she deserved it (for what they did to me). I am sorry I did it, but can not honestly promise that I will not do it again (i.e. I reserve the right to do it again).

Due to our fallen nature, it is understandable that our contrition is imperfect – at least somewhat self-centered vs. completely God-centered. Yet we should not be satisfied. Our personal struggle for holiness is reflected in our reaction to our sins and how we pray deepens our relationship with Our Lord.

The Catechism teaches that there are several types of prayer. For the moment, I would like to focus on two: petition and thanksgiving.

Prayers of petition are requests to God for ourselves, our families and others. This is probably the most common type of prayer. Some feel that asking God for something lacks acceptance of His will. Others feel that it is alright to ask for the needs of others but not for themselves. Baloney! God wants us to ask him for things, to need Him and not to fall into a false notion that we are self-sufficient.

Most Christians rightly have no reservations in making prayers of petition and do so often. I know I do. I pray for repose of the souls of my parents, other family members and many others. I pray for healing of the sick. I pray for protection of family and friends when they travel or in any potential danger. I pray for the spiritual needs of many and I pray for the material needs of those who are struggling. In short, I pray for a lot of things and I know that my prayers are heard and answered in accordance with God’s will.

While I am sincerely thankful and have also made prayers of thanksgiving, I have been focusing on this more lately. Specifically, I have been trying to be as detailed and specific in my prayers of thanks as I am for my petitions. I give thanks for the many blessings in my life, specifically. I give thanks for the answered prayers of my previous petitions – even if I do not know those answers.

This takes time and I don’t always do it as well as I hope to. The more I do, the more aware I am of my many blessings and conscious of God’s love and attention to me. I become closer to God and my love for Him deepens. How powerful that is!

The consequence of sin, against God (as all sin is), is clearer. The God who has literally given me everything. The God who hears and answers every prayer. This is the God whom I sin against. My focus shifts from how this sin effects me to the sorrow rightly due to sinning against God Himself. The contrition I feel becomes “more perfect.”

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins, because of Thy just punishments,
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

Act of Contrition, my favorite version
as seen in the 1945 Baltimore Catechism