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Friday 31 December 2010

The Roman Synod of 1960

On this Seventh Day of Christmas, here is this little historical oddity. The Roman Synod of 1960 called by Pope John XXIII to prepare the Catholic world for the Second Vatican Council which he anticipated would last three months. So, is there any more proof that what happened at the actual Council was far beyond what was anticipated and hoped for by good Pope John? Can there by any doubt that the implementation of the Council has gone awry from the original intention? Is there any doubt that the ambiguity of the wording in many documents allowed bishops, priests, nuns, liturgists and other busy-bodies to proffer a false "spirit" of Vatican II which is only now being challenged? Truly, there has been a rupture with Tradition.

While I will often say, we need to see the Council properly implemented, I sometimes wonder; can anything good come out of Vatican II?

From Rorate Caeli blog:

The Roman Synod of 1960

2010 is the fiftieth year since the Roman Synod of 1960, called by Pope John XXIII in anticipation of Vatican II. Romano Amerio speaks of this Synod as having fallen into the Erebus of oblivion, tanquam non fuerit, "as if it had never been", and indeed its 50th anniversary this year was scarcely marked or commemorated anywhere. In belated amends for this forgetfulness I would like to present the following passage (sans the footnotes) from Amerio's Iota Unum regarding this forgotten Synod, this foreshadowing of the Vatican II that had been hoped for.

...three principal facts make the paradoxical outcome of the council (Vatican II-- CAP) apparent: the falseness of the forecasts made by the Pope and others who prepared it; the fruitlessness of the Roman synod called by John XXIII as an anticipation of it; and the almost immediate nullification of the decree Veterum Sapientia, which was meant to foreshadow the cultural cast of the post-conciliar Church.

Pope John intended the council to be a great act of renewal and functional adaptation for the Church and thought he had adequately prepared for it to be such, but nonetheless cherished the prospect that it would all be over within a few months ... In fact, the council opened on 11 October 1962 and closed on 8 December 1965, thus lasting intermittently for three years. All expectations were overthrown because of the aborting of the council which had been prepared, and the successive elaboration of another quite different council which generated itself.

The Roman synod was planned and summoned by John XXIII as a solemn forerunner of the larger gathering, which it was meant to prefigure and anticipate. The Pope himself said precisely that, to the clergy and faithful of Rome in an elocution of 29 June 1960. Because of that intention, the synod's importance was universally recognized as extending beyond the diocese of Rome to the whole Catholic world. Its importance was compared to that which the provincial synods held by St. Charles Borromeo had had with respect to the Council of Trent. New life was given to the old saying that the whole Catholic world should wish to model itself on the Church of Rome. The fact that the Pope immediately ordered the texts of the Roman synod to be translated into Italian and all the principal languages, also makes it clear that in his mind it was intended to play an important exemplary role.

The texts of the Roman synod promulgated on 25, 26 and 27 January 1960 constitute a complete reversion of the Church to its proper nature; we mean not merely to its supernatural essence (that can never be lost) but to its historical nature, a returning of the institution to its principles, as Machiavelli put it.

The synod in fact proposed a vigorous restoration at every level of ecclesial life. The discipline of the clergy was modeled on the traditional pattern formulated at the Council of Trent, and based on two principles which had always been accepted and practiced. The first is that of the peculiar character of the person consecrated to God, supernaturally enabled to do Christ's work, and thus clearly separated from the laity (sacred means separate). The second, which follows from the first, is that of an ascetical education and a sacrificial life, which is the differentiating mark of the clergy as a body, though individuals can take up an ascetical life in the lay state. The synod therefore prescribed for the clergy a whole style of behavior quite distinct from that of laymen. That style demands ecclesiastical dress, sobriety in diet, the avoiding of public entertainments and a flight from profane things. The distinct character of the clergy's cultural formation was also reaffirmed, and the outlines were given of the system which the Pope solemnly sanctioned the year after in Veterum Sapientia. The Pope also ordered that the Catechism of the Council of Trent should be republished, but the order was ignored. It was not until 1981 that, by private initiative, a translation was published in Italy.

The liturgical legislation of the synod is no less significant: the use of Latin is solemnly confirmed, all attempts at creativity on the part of the celebrant, which would reduce the liturgical action of the Church to the level of a simple exercise of private piety, are condemned. (A very good point that needs to be stressed in our time! CAP) The need to baptize infants as soon as possible is emphasized, a tabernacle in the traditional form and position is prescribed, Gregorian Chant is ordered, newly composed popular songs are submitted to the approval of the bishop, all appearance of worldliness is forbidden in churches by a general prohibition of such things as the giving of concerts and performances, the selling of pictures or printed matter, the giving of free rein to photographers and the lighting of candles by all and sundry (one ought to get the priest to do it). The ancient sacred rigor is re-established regarding sacred spaces, forbidding women entry to the altar area. Lastly, altars facing the congregation (which had been slowly but steadily growing in popularity since the 1950's, see this article -- CAP) are to be allowed only by way of an exception, which it is up to the diocesan bishop to make.

Anybody can see that this massive reaffirmation of traditional discipline, which the synod wanted, was contradicted and negated in almost every detail by the effects of the council.
And so the Roman synod, which was to have been an exemplary foreshadowing of the council, fell within a few years into the Erebus of oblivion, and is indeed tanquam non fuerit. As an instance of this nullification I may say that having searched for the texts of the Roman synod in diocesan curias and archives, I could not find them there and had to get them from secular public libraries.

-- Romano Amerio. Iota Unum. A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century (Sarto House, Kansas City 1996), pp. 54-56.

The canonist Edward Peters,
in his brief online commentary to Sacrae disciplinae leges, also notes that the Roman Synod "had virtually no impact on either the Council or the Code (of Canon Law)."

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Fifth Day of Christmas...Huzzah!

From the Vatican Information Service and courtesy of the New Liturgical Movement:

The Supreme Pontiff has today assigned to the Cardinals elevated at the Consistory of 20 November 2010 their memberships in the various dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Of particular interest to NLM readers will be the Cardinals appointed members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:
  • Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

  • Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, Archbishop of Colombo

  • Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

  • Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints

  • Kazimierz Nycz, Archbishop of Warsaw

  • Velasio De Paolis, President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
For anyone interested in ongoing liturgical renewal, the restoration of the sacred, the reform of the reform and the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, this is a nice Christmas present.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

The Very Future of the World is at Stake

Every year, the Holy Father issues an address to the Roman Curia and assembled Diplomats to the Holy See. It was in 2005, that he spoke of the hermeneutic of continuity where he spoke of the nature of the Second Vatican Council being misunderstood. These speeches tend to pass by un-noticed by the secular media and most Catholics. Christmas is well underway by the third week of December and nobody pays attention, right? I wonder how many bishops have read these speeches and take them to heart?
Take the time and read this profound address (my emphasis). I then urge you to watch and listen carefully to the video below by Michael Voris; circulate both to your friends. If you are a bishop or priest or church bureaucrat or catholic teacher, pay particular attention to what Voris has to say after 3 minutes:

Sala Regia
Monday, 20 December 2010

Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you, dear Members of the College of Cardinals and Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governatorato, for this traditional gathering. I extend a cordial greeting to each one of you, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his sentiments of devotion and communion and for the warm good wishes that he expressed to me on behalf of all of you. Prope est jam Dominus, venite, adoremus! As one family let us contemplate the mystery of Emmanuel, God-with-us, as the Cardinal Dean has said. I gladly reciprocate his good wishes and I would like to thank all of you most sincerely, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the able and generous contribution that each of you makes to the Vicar of Christ and to the Church.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.

Excita – the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples’ storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: amid the great tribulations to which we have been exposed during the past year, this Advent prayer has frequently been in my mind and on my lips. We had begun the Year for Priests with great joy and, thank God, we were also able to conclude it with great gratitude, despite the fact that it unfolded so differently from the way we had expected. Among us priests and among the lay faithful, especially the young, there was a renewed awareness of what a great gift the Lord has entrusted to us in the priesthood of the Catholic Church. We realized afresh how beautiful it is that human beings are fully authorized to pronounce in God’s name the word of forgiveness, and are thus able to change the world, to change life; we realized how beautiful it is that human beings may utter the words of consecration, through which the Lord draws a part of the world into himself, and so transforms it at one point in its very substance; we realized how beautiful it is to be able, with the Lord’s strength, to be close to people in their joys and sufferings, in the important moments of their lives and in their dark times; how beautiful it is to have as one’s life task not this or that, but simply human life itself – helping people to open themselves to God and to live from God. We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.

In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year. “In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’

And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.

For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).

In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood.

We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity. The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.

In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind.

As my second point, I should like to say a word about the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East. This began with my journey to Cyprus, where I was able to consign the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod to the Bishops of those countries who were assembled there. The hospitality of the Orthodox Church was unforgettable, and we experienced it with great gratitude. Even if full communion is not yet granted to us, we have nevertheless established with joy that the basic form of the ancient Church unites us profoundly with one another: the sacramental office of Bishops as the bearer of apostolic tradition, the reading of Scripture according to the hermeneutic of the Regula fidei, the understanding of Scripture in its manifold unity centred on Christ, developed under divine inspiration, and finally, our faith in the central place of the Eucharist in the Church’s life. Thus we experienced a living encounter with the riches of the rites of the ancient Church that are also found within the Catholic Church. We celebrated the liturgy with Maronites and with Melchites, we celebrated in the Latin rite, we experienced moments of ecumenical prayer with the Orthodox, and we witnessed impressive manifestations of the rich Christian culture of the Christian East. But we also saw the problem of the divided country. The wrongs and the deep wounds of the past were all too evident, but so too was the desire for the peace and communion that had existed before. Everyone knows that violence does not bring progress – indeed, it gave rise to the present situation. Only in a spirit of compromise and mutual understanding can unity be re-established. To prepare the people for this attitude of peace is an essential task of pastoral ministry.

During the Synod itself, our gaze was extended over the whole of the Middle East, where the followers of different religions – as well as a variety of traditions and distinct rites – live together. As far as Christians are concerned, there are Pre-Chalcedonian as well as Chalcedonian churches; there are churches in communion with Rome and others that are outside that communion; in both cases, multiple rites exist alongside one another. In the turmoil of recent years, the tradition of peaceful coexistence has been shattered and tensions and divisions have grown, with the result that we witness with increasing alarm acts of violence in which there is no longer any respect for what the other holds sacred, in which on the contrary the most elementary rules of humanity collapse. In the present situation, Christians are the most oppressed and tormented minority. For centuries they lived peacefully together with their Jewish and Muslim neighbours. During the Synod we listened to wise words from the Counsellor of the Mufti of the Republic of Lebanon against acts of violence targeting Christians. He said: when Christians are wounded, we ourselves are wounded. Unfortunately, though, this and similar voices of reason, for which we are profoundly grateful, are too weak. Here too we come up against an unholy alliance between greed for profit and ideological blindness. On the basis of the spirit of faith and its rationality, the Synod developed a grand concept of dialogue, forgiveness and mutual acceptance, a concept that we now want to proclaim to the world. The human being is one, and humanity is one. Whatever damage is done to another in any one place, ends up by damaging everyone. Thus the words and ideas of the Synod must be a clarion call, addressed to all people with political or religious responsibility, to put a stop to Christianophobia; to rise up in defence of refugees and all who are suffering, and to revitalize the spirit of reconciliation. In the final analysis, healing can only come from deep faith in God’s reconciling love. Strengthening this faith, nourishing it and causing it to shine forth is the Church’s principal task at this hour.

I would willingly speak in some detail of my unforgettable journey to the United Kingdom, but I will limit myself to two points that are connected with the theme of the responsibility of Christians at this time and with the Church’s task to proclaim the Gospel. My thoughts go first of all to the encounter with the world of culture in Westminster Hall, an encounter in which awareness of shared responsibility at this moment in history created great attention which, in the final analysis, was directed to the question of truth and faith itself. It was evident to all that the Church has to make her own contribution to this debate. Alexis de Tocqueville, in his day, observed that democracy in America had become possible and had worked because there existed a fundamental moral consensus which, transcending individual denominations, united everyone. Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.

Finally I should like to recall once more the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Why was he beatified? What does he have to say to us? Many responses could be given to these questions, which were explored in the context of the beatification. I would like to highlight just two aspects which belong together and which, in the final analysis, express the same thing. The first is that we must learn from Newman’s three conversions, because they were steps along a spiritual path that concerns us all. Here I would like to emphasize just the first conversion: to faith in the living God. Until that moment, Newman thought like the average men of his time and indeed like the average men of today, who do not simply exclude the existence of God, but consider it as something uncertain, something with no essential role to play in their lives. What appeared genuinely real to him, as to the men of his and our day, is the empirical, matter that can be grasped. This is the “reality” according to which one finds one’s bearings. The “real” is what can be grasped, it is the things that can be calculated and taken in one’s hand. In his conversion, Newman recognized that it is exactly the other way round: that God and the soul, man’s spiritual identity, constitute what is genuinely real, what counts. These are much more real than objects that can be grasped. This conversion was a Copernican revolution. What had previously seemed unreal and secondary was now revealed to be the genuinely decisive element. Where such a conversion takes place, it is not just a person’s theory that changes: the fundamental shape of life changes. We are all in constant need of such conversion: then we are on the right path.

The driving force that impelled Newman along the path of conversion was conscience. But what does this mean? In modern thinking, the word “conscience” signifies that for moral and religious questions, it is the subjective dimension, the individual, that constitutes the final authority for decision. The world is divided into the realms of the objective and the subjective. To the objective realm belong things that can be calculated and verified by experiment. Religion and morals fall outside the scope of these methods and are therefore considered to lie within the subjective realm. Here, it is said, there are in the final analysis no objective criteria. The ultimate instance that can decide here is therefore the subject alone, and precisely this is what the word “conscience” expresses: in this realm only the individual, with his intuitions and experiences, can decide. Newman’s understanding of conscience is diametrically opposed to this. For him, “conscience” means man’s capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life – religion and morals – a truth, the truth. At the same time, conscience – man’s capacity to recognize truth – thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart. The path of Newman’s conversions is a path of conscience – not a path of self-asserting subjectivity but, on the contrary, a path of obedience to the truth that was gradually opening up to him. His third conversion, to Catholicism, required him to give up almost everything that was dear and precious to him: possessions, profession, academic rank, family ties and many friends. The sacrifice demanded of him by obedience to the truth, by his conscience, went further still. Newman had always been aware of having a mission for England. But in the Catholic theology of his time, his voice could hardly make itself heard. It was too foreign in the context of the prevailing form of theological thought and devotion. In January 1863 he wrote in his diary these distressing words: “As a Protestant, I felt my religion dreary, but not my life - but, as a Catholic, my life dreary, not my religion”. He had not yet arrived at the hour when he would be an influential figure. In the humility and darkness of obedience, he had to wait until his message was taken up and understood. In support of the claim that Newman’s concept of conscience matched the modern subjective understanding, people often quote a letter in which he said – should he have to propose a toast – that he would drink first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this statement, “conscience” does not signify the ultimately binding quality of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility and the binding force of truth: on this its primacy is based. The second toast can be dedicated to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience to the truth.

I must refrain from speaking of my remarkable journeys to Malta, Portugal and Spain. In these it once again became evident that the faith is not a thing of the past, but an encounter with the God who lives and acts now. He challenges us and he opposes our indolence, but precisely in this way he opens the path towards true joy.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. We set out from this plea for the presence of God’s power in our time and from the experience of his apparent absence. If we keep our eyes open as we look back over the year that is coming to an end, we can see clearly that God’s power and goodness are also present today in many different ways. So we all have reason to thank him. Along with thanks to the Lord I renew my thanks to all my co-workers. May God grant to all of us a holy Christmas and may he accompany us with his blessings in the coming year.

I entrust these prayerful sentiments to the intercession of the Holy Virgin, Mother of the Redeemer, and I impart to all of you and to the great family of the Roman Curia a heartfelt Apostolic Blessing. Happy Christmas!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Jean Charest, Herod and the Holy Innocents

On this Fourth Day of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents let us look at some news from Quebec in blood red for the day and the people behind it.

Jean Charest, the Quebec Premier, has implemented a policy that if a government-funded day-care centre (sorry, child-care, it is children being looked after, not days) puts up a manger, they must not "identify" those in the manger as Jesus, Mary or Joseph nor must they sing CHRISTMAS carols, but Bing Crosby ballads not mentioning Christ are apparently okay.

Have you ever heard anything so dumb?

In 1987, when a young brash Conservative (I was never a Progressive Conservative and thankfully that moniker on the party's name is now gone) I was a Special Assistant to Jean Charest. He would joke then to me, "remember David, if someone shoots your job is to jump in fron to the bullet." Having only practiced law for a couple of year before winning a fluke election in his home town of Sherbrooke which saw Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives win 210 seats in the Canadian Parliament, many never held since Confederation in 1867; his main claim-to-fame was being the youngest Cabinet Minister in Canadian history. Not that that actually meant anything as he had no actual department and he was Minister of State (Youth) meaning it was all fluff. Fluff is what Mulroney, the Prime Minister did whenever some group yelled loud enough. Thus he had Ministers of State for (Women), (Seniors), well you get the picture. Forty Cabinet Ministers and good old Jean boy was one of them. Since then, Charest went on to become leader of that same party with only two seats before moving on to become a Liberal and Premier of Quebec. He still has done nothing but be a professional politician.

The taxpayers of once Catholic Quebec under Charest, employ a Minister of Families clearly, not the Holy Family (even though the actual Solemnity on the universal calendar began in Quebec under Blessed Francoise de Laval, the Pope's legate to Canada and where a university named in his honour has educated so many in Quebec City.

This 5-watt bulb of a cabinet minister is quoted, "I want the young Quebecers who attend our daycare services to do so in a spirit of openness to others and diversity...The line is drawn when a daycare centre teaches about the birth of Jesus, who is Mary, who is Joseph."

Jean Charest's claim-to-fame was being the youngest Cabinet Minister in Canadian history.
Now, it is his presiding over the last nail in the coffin of Catholic Culture which is Quebec Culture. What's next Jean, are you going to change St. Jean Baptiste Day? Oh, my bad, that's already happened; its now called, Fete National. So what will be the fate of Quebec?

I tell you personally, he may have been a "star" then, though I never really thought so, but he's a bloody coward now. Back then, his main job was to travel around the country under my management and hand out taxpayer cheques and grants, cut ribbons and attend political fund-raisers on the taxpayer. In a bid to clear his conscience and confess to the Canadian taxpayer, a former staffer allegedly provided information to the now defunct FRANK Magazine highlighting some of the more egregious travel funds by Charest and other Staff.

Here is
Jean's Facebook, send my old boss a message!

Here is the
National Post story and the Globe & Mail where Lysiane Gagnon writes, "This is a textbook case of going from one extreme to another. For decades, the Quebec government slept in the same bed of the Roman Catholic Church. Nowadays, its secularist agenda is so radical it applies to three-year old kids."

Remember also that this Premier and his party stood with all member of the Quebec provincial legislature (As a Canadian, I will not call it the National Assembly) and proclaimed that abortion was an "inalienable right" of women in Quebec in response to a talk by Marc Cardinal Ouellet whilst still Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada.

Happy Holy Innocents Day Jean. Your following in the footsteps of another political leader who also did such wonderful things for little children and is forever remembered for it.

Monday 27 December 2010

Merry Third Day of Christmas

A Merry Third Day of Christmas to you. Now that the rush of singing is over Vox prepares the annual Christmas feast.

Two Mushroom Consomme
Garden Salad
Range-free Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Carrots, Brussel Sprouts
Vox's VSOP Christmas Pudding
Assorted Dried Fruits

And for a little humour, double click on the picture and then click again to read how the left and liberal fascists might react today if Jesus was born.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Christmas greetings and the blessings of the Holy Child to all of you.

David Anthony Domet, Vox Cantoris

Friday 24 December 2010

Whimpers of the infant God

Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the saviour of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.

There are none who clamour around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.

Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.

He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.

So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.

Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious saviour, who would come into the world with human renown and power.

But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.

Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.

The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.

This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.

Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.

St Pio da Pietrelcina
Epistolario IV," Edizioni Padre Pio,
San Giovanni Rotondo, pages 1007-1009


Wednesday 15 December 2010

The Rorate Mass--Saturday in Kinkora, Ontario

The Introit or Entrance Antiphon in both the Extraordianry and Ordinary Forms of the Roman Rite on the Fourth Sunday of Advent is Rorate caeli de super et nubes pluant justum; Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above and let the clouds rain down the just, from Isaiah 45:8. But there is another time in Advent for this Introit and that is any Saturday in Advent when the priest may choose to celebrate a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary known as the Rorate Mass. As the world lays in darkness awaiting the dawn of the light of Christ so the Church is in darkness and lit only be candlelight. The Mass is celebrated before dawn and timed to end just before the sun arises in the dark winter morning sky in the northern hemisphere and symbolises the advent of Christ.

The history of the Rorate Mass is from Germany where so many of our Advent and Christmas customs come including the Advent Wreath and the Christmas Tree. Many of our liturgical practices have both a symbolic and practical history and application. We covered the symbolic and spiritual above--on the practical side, Saturday was a workday as any other. The Rorate Mass tended to be a little longer as it was usually celebrated with more solemnity and until the reforms of Pope Pius XII, Mass could not be celebrated in the evening (past noon). So, the Mass would begin before dawn so that it could end in time for the men to get to work on the farm or in the mills of Germany, thus the candlelight served a dual purpose.

This Saturday, December 15, 2010 at 5:30AM Vox Cantoris will be present to chant in Kinkora, Ontario at St. Patrick's Church where Father Paul Nicholson will celebrate this special liturgy.


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Wednesday 8 December 2010

Immaculate Conception

The Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instance of her conception was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the Human Race. Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854. Pope Pius IX.

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary; at one time, a Holy Day of Obligation in Canada. There are only two now, Christmas Day and Mary, Mother of God (January 1) according to the revised calendar, the Circumcision of Our LORD in the calendar for the Traditional liturgy.

Turn the player on the left off for a moment and take some time to listen below to the five-voice Ave Maria by Robert Parsons, a sixteenth century English composer. It has been a long-time since I've been able to sing this in choir but the Bass line is one of my favourites, in fact, I am hard-pressed to think of a more sublime Ave Maria. Listen to the soaring notes of the soprano and the other parts rolling over and over again to these glorious words. The Amen is simply glorious, starting off plaintively by one voice and then everyone joining in as it builds and to a crescendo before falling back to one final and peaceful phrase resolving perfectly and leaving one satisfied; but wanting to play it over and over again. This is a rich composition that one never tires of.


Monday 29 November 2010

This is the Record of John

Most of us have devotion to particular saints (it's at least likely if you read this blog). This blog has an icon of St. Sharbel Maklouf on the left as a tribute to my Maronite heritage. Having attended an elementary school and my local parish named in her honour, and having been FSSP Schola Master during their short stay here in Toronto with Mass celebrated at her Shrine, St. Theresa of Lisieux is a favourite. We can all learn from her "little way." My favourite saint from a personalty perspective is St. John the Baptist. How we need one like him today crying in the wilderness of the public square.

The next two Sundays in Advent have very profound readings all focused on the coming of Messiah and His herald, "the voice of one, crying in the wilderness." The revised lectionary gives us a diversity of readings over the three year cycle on Advent II and III related to the great herald. The English liturgy gives us something else not available in the Extraordinary Form or Traditional Latin Massand that is the English Verse Anthem (though, one could provide an English motet or hymn in a Low Mass with hymns) A particularly Anglican form of music. Perhaps soon, the Traditional Anglicans coming home will help us reform our music in the Latin Rite to come closer to an English equivalent of a traditional Latin liturgy.

Orlando Gibbons followed William Byrd by about a generation in the English school. Gibbons wrote some forty verse anthems the most well-known being O Clap Your Hands in 8 parts and This is the Record of John originally scored for Countertenor, alternating with full SAATB choir and two viols. It is a beautiful and joyful and profound composition and a joy to sing. For most parishes, however, it is out of reach. In fact, if your speaker are on, you are probably hearing it now playing in the background.

A few years ago, I had the temerity to edit Gibbons' greatest work for a small parish choir. Being a Bass myself, (and since I always wanted to sing it), the solo line was no longer the possession of the modern Alto (originally the Countertenor). The choral parts are arranged for two-part and sometimes three-part mixed choir with organ and violin.

With a little shameless self-promotion, my arrangement is available and is published and under copyright at CanticaNova Publications; it is suitable for the Advent II or III or the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist particularly when if falls on a Sunday.

Here is a most excellent performance by the Kampen Boys Choir followed by the sheet music for all the voices as Gibbons' wrote it, though not in the original key; enjoy:

Sunday 28 November 2010

No tree yet please, we're Catholic

A new liturgical year has begun; it is now Advent. The colours and music on this blog reflect the change as we prepare for our celebration of the coming into our nature the God-man; the Second Person of the Holy Trinity made incarnate in the womb of the most perfect creature made by God, that of Mary of Nazareth, blessed and forever a virgin.

In my neighbourhood and as I have found out on Facebook a new season has also begun. The plastic Santa is lit across the street, the house at the corner has had lights up and candy canes and wreaths on for a week now; all quite tacky. My sister has announced on Facebook that her Christmas shopping is complete and her tree is decorated.

Despite my busy liturgical schedule, I'll leave my tree until Christmas Eve and it will stay up until the Baptism of the LORD. It is not Christmas now my friends, it is Advent. So many will tire of the beautiful carols and hymns and not without reason; bombarded everywhere they go and it is not Christmas, it is Advent. They buy, they decorate, they celebrate and they don't give a moment to ponder why they do it; the pagan festival that the celebration of the Nativity of the LORD once suppressed, has again become the secular reason for the season.

Atheists in New Jersey have put up a billboard telling us that we all know that Christmas is really a myth. The way people treat the season, perhaps for some, it truly is a myth.

While you're reading this your listening to some beautiful Advent music and these are some of my favourites which I've selected for your enjoyment. Veni, Veni Emmanuel, Alma Redemptoris, Saviour of the Nations Come-Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland, Wake Awake-Wachet Auf and Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending. I hope you enjoy them and that you will find truth and meaning and beauty in them.

Let us take this Advent seriously. Confession is a must for all of us, we are all sinners and fall daily. He who comes on clouds came for this reason; to save us from ourselves and from the grips of the evil one.


Come, LORD, come!

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate Him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!

Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!

Answer Thine own bride and Spirit,
Hasten, Lord, the general doom!
The new Heav’n and earth t’inherit,
Take Thy pining exiles home:
All creation, all creation, all creation,
Travails! groans! and bids Thee come!

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Paix Liturgique Newsletter

Mutual enrichment: on the right track
A book on the new liturgical movement is proving attractive to French readers. Authored by the abbé Claude Barthe, who is known for his earlier writings on the traditional liturgy, this booklet is titled "La Messe à l'endroit" ["Mass--The Right Way"] and deals with the reordering of the Paul VI Mass. It is here presented in the form of an interview granted by the abbé Barthe to the French journal Monde et Vie.

1/ Father, your most recent work (*) takes us by surprise, since we know you as a thoughtful defender of the traditional Mass, and here you are addressing the so-called "Paul VI" Mass. Why this interest on your part?

A very active defense of the former, the traditional Mass, has never kept me from taking an interest in the transformation of the latter--the Paul VI Mass. In 1997, ten years before the Motu Proprio, I had published a book of interviews: "Reconstruire la liturgie. Entretiens sur l’état de la liturgie dans les paroisses" (F-X de Guibert editions) ["Rebuilding the Liturgy. Interviews on the State of the Liturgy at the Parish Level"]. Its theme was precisely the same as this booklet's. Clearly the 2007 Motu Proprio has revived the issue, which consists in noting that the two parallel critiques of the changes effected under Paul VI, namely the frontal critique that seeks to promote a broad diffusion of the ancient liturgy, and the reformist critique, termed reform of the reform, that seeks to bring about a change from within the Paul VI liturgy, are more than ever allied.

The reform of the reform project cannot be implemented without the spinal column of the most widespread possible celebration according to the traditional Mass, which in turn cannot hope to be reintroduced on a large scale in ordinary parishes without the recreation of a vital milieu through the reform of the reform.

2/ "Extraordinary form" ultras believe that the Paul VI missal is unsalvageable and ought to be jettisoned, whereas you believe that it can be reformed and even "enriched." How?

First of all I think it is totally unrealistic to believe that one could, with a stroke of a magic wand, get all masses to be celebrated according to the ancient usage in every parish in the world. On the other hand, I note--along with many others, the principal ones being quite high placed--that the Paul VI missal contains a nearly infinite number of possible options, adaptations, and interpretations, and that a progressive, or systematic, or progressively systematic selection of the traditional options it offers makes possible, at the parish level-- quite legally, I might add (according to the letter of the law, if not its spirit)--its own retraditionalization. (Vox: examples being in Latin, ad orientem, with Gregorian chant from the 1974 Graduale Romanum using the Confiteor and Roman Canon, altar BOYS, no EM's, etc. all legal, all the "first" option in the Pauline liturgy) This is actually a simple observation of fact: many parish priests pursue this reform of the reform, often by stages, and in the great majority of cases also celebrate the traditional mass.

Now to answer your question: I should say that I believe that the Roman liturgy can be saved. This takes a two-pronged action, as one can observe concretely: spreading the Saint Pius V missal, and reform of the reform. This latter will allow, to take up a famous speech by Paul VI, progressively to abandon all that is old and outmoded, because it is untraditional, in his reform. We shall see what is preserved after that operation. . . .

3/ You are opening up to us a rather unrecognized side to the history of the liturgy in these past forty years. Whereas the partisans of the old Mass weren't much concerned with reforming the new missal, its "moderate" supporters--a minority movement, to be sure--have unflaggingly been proposing its reform. Would you briefly recap the history of this position?

It is the history of what might be called the reformist critique of the new missal. Briefly, and to speak only of France, remember that a theologian like Louis Bouyer, who had actively participated in the conciliar reform, was very soon opposed to a certain number of its aspects (notably the direction of the celebration). The abbey of Solesmes and, in varying degrees, some of its daughter houses accepted the reform, though without departing from Latin and Gregorian chant. Msgr. Guérin's Communauté Saint-Martin also opted for the Paul VI missal, but with a very traditionally orientated interpretation. Msgr. Maxime Charles, rector of the Monmartre Basilica, and later his principal spiritual heir abbé Michel Gitton, onetime pastor of St-Germain-l'Auxerrois in Paris, held to a line of preserving what seemed salvageable from among the ruins. Above all there was the Ratzinger phenomenon. Already in 1966 Joseph Ratzinger had made a very harsh intervention at the Bamberg Katholikentag on the ongoing reform. The struggle against what he believes to be the "false spirit of the Council" has so to speak become essential to the man who became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and then Pope in 2005. Yet in liturgical matters Joseph Ratzinger went much farther than the other reformists. Today we know that he had organized a meeting of Cardinals on November 16, 1982, on "the subject of liturgical issues," and obtained that all the Prefects of Congregations present at the meeting affirm that the "old" Roman Missal must be "recognized by the Holy See in the whole Church for masses celebrated in the Latin tongue."

1982 . . . exactly a quarter century before the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum!

4/ Your book is subtitled: "A new liturgical movement." Is this a pious wish, or is it the observation that there is around Benedict XVI, who seems to be spearheading this "reform of the reform", an influential group of prelates and clerics who fully intend at least to launch it for good, if not to implement it forthwith?

Quite. In fact, on the strength of Joseph Ratzinger's published works (The Ratzinger Report; Milestones; The Spirit of the Liturgy; Feast of Faith) and relying on them as authority, a new generation of theologians, of historians of divine worship, and of sometimes high-ranking Church officials as arisen. (Vox: much to the chagrin of certain Catholic media personalities...) They constitute today the milieu of thinkers for the reform of the reform--a "new liturgical movement", as the Pope is fond of saying--and of Motu Proprio supporters. That said, none of them--particularly not the first among them, the Pope--intends to promote a reform of the reform through texts, decrees, let alone by publishing a new mixed missal, a Benedict XVI missal to add to the Pius V and Paul VI missals; they wish to proceed by example, exhortation, and especially, to evoke Saint Paul's theme in the Epistle to the Romans, by provoking a healthy "jealousy" of the form we call today "ordinary" for the so-called "extraordinary" form. Moreover this is characteristic of the Ratzingerian restoration since 1985, which seeks to curb things on the conciliar path, but by exhortation as opposed to coercion. (Is he cooking a frog and using the same method as the modernists and liberals who destroyed it? Can we live long enough?)

In point of fact, the reform of the reform already exists in a great number of parishes. It needs only to be encouraged, extended, and above it has to go over at the diocesan level. It might be well for it to be implemented by the bishops rather than only by pastors at the bottom and the Pope at the top. Imagine the prodigious effect of restoration, not only in liturgy but also in all that goes along with it (vocations, doctrine, catechism, renewal in practice), that would be produced by one bishop, then two, then three, turning around the altar in their cathedral, reinstating communion on the knees, reintroducing Latin and Gregorian chant, and having the traditional Mass said there regularly. (An Altar Rail is going to be restored to St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto! The Archbishop has celebrated the Ordinary Form in Latin, ad orientem at the Toronto Oratory.)

5/ Benedict XVI, during his apostolic visit to the United Kingdom, celebrated all of his Masses with the Preface and Canon read in Latin. What is your reaction to this "innovation"? (which comes after many others since his election as Pope).

My reaction is gaudium et spes, joy and hope. Hope, for example, that on a future apostolic visit the Pope may also publicly celebrate the Mass according to the extraordinary from of the Roman rite, which, they say, he regularly uses in private . . . .

(*) “La Messe à l'endroit – Un nouveau mouvement liturgique”
Éditions de l'Homme Nouveau

Saturday 6 November 2010

Bishop Morlino's Letter to Dissidents

October 28, 2010
Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude

Dear Members of Christ’s Faithful of St. Mary and St. Augustine Parishes:

I am in receipt of your October 8, 2010 letter and petition. I am grateful that you have approached me with your concern, and I certainly recognize and respect your right to do so (Code of Canon Law, c. 212, §§2-3). By means of this letter I am replying to what you requested, namely, the “immediate removal of the priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest from St. Mary and St. Augustine parishes in Platteville.” A number of you have written to the Apostolic Nuncio about this matter. He has forwarded the letters to me after having read them. He asked that I inform you that he has forwarded these letters to me for my pastoral consideration, since the responsibility for priestly assignments rests with the diocesan bishop.

The removal of a priest assigned to a parish is a very serious matter, and I as a Bishop may only do so, at my discretion, for certain serious causes (c. 1741). I have found that much of what has been said amounts to opinion, misunderstanding, and rumor rather than fact. Nonetheless, after carefully weighing all of your reasons for the proposed removal, I have decided to keep Rev. Lope Pascual, Rev. John Del Priore, and Rev. Miguel Galvez in their current priestly ministry at St. Mary and St. Augustine parishes in Platteville. Their charisms for Catholic education and vocations will serve the people of Platteville very well, and they have my full support. With regard to each of your concerns, see the attached Addendum.

While I am available to all of the faithful of the Diocese of Madison, it is always best to resolve concerns with one’s Pastor(s) personally and locally. Not only does this give due respect to the priests, who have given their lives to serve you, but it is usually more efficient. I urge you to speak openly with these priests about your concerns; and I am confident that you will be treated with dignity and respect.

It grieves me to acknowledge that the reputation of three happy, holy, and hardworking priests has been seriously tarnished by rumor, gossip, and calumny (lying with the intent to damage another’s good name) by some within the parish community. Such conduct is gravely sinful, since some parishioners have been driven by fear, anger, or both, to distance themselves from their priests and even the Sacraments. This situation must cease, and charity must prevail on the part of all.

Furthermore, activities such as protest-letter-writing seminars, leafleting of motor vehicles, doorto- door canvassing for signatures on a petition, etc (that is, exerting organized political pressure on people, where the end justifies any means) is an appropriate tactic in a political campaign, but not in the communion of faith which is the Catholic Church. Groups such as “Call to Action” and “Voice of the Faithful” regularly employ such tactics against legitimate authority in the Church. Because these groups dissent from basic tenets of Catholic Doctrine and Discipline, they are not recognized as Catholic in the Diocese of Madison, much less are they able to exercise legitimate authority. It is my hope that these clarifications will prove helpful.

Please give these priests time and open hearts. I assure you of their good will and pastoral concern for all of you, and I ask you to join me in praying for them in their sacred ministry.

With warm regards in Christ Jesus, I remain,

Sincerely yours,

Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino
Bishop of Madison

Enclosure: Addendum

Since it is obvious that much thought and care went into the formulation of the reasons for the petition of October 8, I want to provide a response to each point for the ongoing reflection of the Parish.

A. Impact on Faith of Parishioners

1. Allegation: Introduction of faith doctrine that is pre-Vatican II in format and content

– Response: First of all, it is necessary for us to appreciate the eloquent teaching of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI regarding the false dichotomy between the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II Church. While the Council introduced much renewal, this dichotomy is not healthy in the Church. It is what the Holy Father described as the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.” We must rather adopt the “hermeneutic of reform,” which recognizes continuity in the Church’s life from before the Council to the present day. The hermeneutic of reform rejoices in the renewed presentation of the Church’s self-understanding without attempting to divorce itself from our rich Catholic heritage. The Holy Father taught this in his Christmas Greeting to the Roman Curia (December 22, 2005); I earnestly recommend that all the faithful prayerfully study this speech.

a. Allegation: Reversion to obedience rather than acting as Body of Christ

– Response: It would not be correct to see obedience to Church authorities and the common priesthood of the faithful as in any way opposed to each other. The Council itself highlighted both of these as important components to the life of the Church (Lumen gentium, no. 37). Indeed, the example of Christ our Savior is the very epitome of these two elements, since he offered his priestly sacrifice to the Father by being obedient to the point of death on the Cross.

b. Allegation: Treating not as true believers but as lost souls

– Response: It is not proven that any of the priests have called the parishioners “lost souls” in the paternalistic way implied in the petition. I would encourage parishioners not to infer that the priests currently assigned to St. Mary and St. Augustine Parishes are criticizing their predecessors simply on the basis of their own pastoral decisions. Every Pastor must prayerfully discern how to proceed in his ministry, and this not uncommonly takes a different course and expression than that of his predecessors. Likewise, I would urge parishioners not to infer that the priests are making personal judgments when they preach doctrines and disciplines of the Church which may have been less emphasized in the past or when they encourage or offer pious practices which may be a change in experience.

2. Allegation: Introduction of faith practices that are pre-Vatican II in format and content

– Response: The petition did not include any evidence of when the indicated practices were mandated by the priests. It is my understanding that the priests have made a kneeler available for those who wish to receive Holy Communion kneeling, without requiring it. The options of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand are both acceptable; and I know that the priests respect this. In general, it is important for priests to verify that a person is properly disposed to receive Holy Communion (c. 843, §1), and this may include an assessment of whether a person’s hands are too dirty to handle the sacred species. In one incident of this in Platteville, after the priest received more complete background information, the offended party immediately received the priest’s apology, and the apology was accepted. As far as I am aware, this was an isolated incident and should not be characterized as a general trend.

3. Allegation: Homilies transmit teachings inconsistent with the Vatican II Council

– Response: Regarding this concern, it is probable that the remarks at no. 1 above are applicable. I note also that Fr. Pascual publicly invited any concerned parishioners to review his homilies, which he has recorded, so that they could tell him where they think he diverges from the teaching of Vatican Council II. To date, no one has stepped forward, nor was any evidence of this included in the petition. If anyone has very clear examples, I would encourage you to bring your concerns, along with the helpful citations from the documents of the Second Vatican Council to Fr. Pascual.

4. Allegation: Limiting altar service only to males so that young females aren’t deemed worthy in the eyes of Christ

– Response: It is permissible in the Diocese of Madison for Pastors to reserve altar service at the Holy Mass to males. This is particularly beneficial for the promotion of priestly vocations, which is a particular charism of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest. Once again, it is unfair and unreasonable to infer that the priests, by employing only males in this service, deem women to be unworthy in any way. Also, while it is a particular charism of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest to foster vocations to the priesthood, that does not mean, nor will you find, that they ignore the vocations of young women to the consecrated life, nor of young men and women to holy marriages.

5. Allegation: Reducing visits to homebound parishioners compared to Extraordinary Ministers

– Response: Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion have no “right” to administer Holy Communion at all—whether within the Holy Mass or outside of it. The administration of Holy Communion is proper to the clergy; and extraordinary ministers may only be used when there is a true necessity (Instruction Ecclesiæ de mysterio, art. 8, §1). Therefore, the priests are obliged to administer Holy Communion to the homebound if they are able; they may only call on an extraordinary minister if they judge there to be a true necessity. To my knowledge, now that the priests are settled in Platteville, they are known to be consistent and diligent in this aspect of their priestly ministry.

6. Allegation: Lack of support for families suffering loss of a loved one with inappropriate comments at a funeral

– Response: I have known the priests to be quite supportive and attentive to grieving families. As for the comments about hell and purgatory, it is natural for the Last Things to be discussed at the time of a funeral. While it would be gravely wrong for a priest to declare that the deceased is in or deserves hell, there is no indication that this has ever been done by the priests of the Society. At the time of a loved one’s death, it is very important for priests and deacons to remind the faithful to pray for the departed and to have Masses offered for them in order to help make satisfaction for the temporal punishment due them for their sins (purgatory). If a soul is in heaven it can do no harm. If the soul is in purgatory, it can do great good.

7. Allegation: Insisting on an open flame candle at a nursing home that prohibits open flames

– Response: To my knowledge, this was an isolated incident, which was immediately resolved between Fr. Pascual and nursing home management, and in fact Mass is now regularly offered by the priests at the nursing homes.

B. Change of Worship Environment

Allegation: Worship environment has become unwelcoming and lacks joy

– Response: It is not proven that the celebrations in Platteville are lacking in due joyfulness, calling to mind also the characteristic sobriety of the Roman Rite. From other letters and communications it is also clear that what is reported in the petition is not the unanimous experience in Platteville. In fact, it is well known that the priests are reintroducing many images and practices that have never ceased to be an important part of the Church’s spiritual heritage. As for decisions about the kinds of music to be used in the Sacred Liturgy, this is prescribed by the universal liturgical norms of the Church. Also, it is the responsibility of priests to implement these norms in their parishes. Finally, it is entirely permissible for the tabernacle to be placed in a prominent, dignified place in the sanctuary; and in fact I routinely insist on this for renovation projects in the Diocese. On a personal and spiritual level, I would offer for consideration the reality that each of us is called constantly to seek real and lasting peace and serenity in our life of prayer – the very center of which, of course, is the Holy Mass. While I do not doubt that there have been some external changes at the parish nor that these changes – as change almost always does – may cause a certain unsettledness, the reality of Christ’s real presence in the Holy Eucharist is the same. God, Himself, remains constant, unchanging from age to age. I encourage each of you – as I remind myself each day – seek the interior peace and serenity that only God can grant you. Sincerely approaching your liturgical prayer with this at heart, and allowing all things to point to God, I am confident that whatever unsettledness you might be feeling will fall away and be replaced with a renewed and lasting peace in our God, who desires passionately to speak to you in the silent depths.

C. Parish Donations

Allegation: Parish donations have decreased by 50%

- Response: Parish donations often decrease when changes occur at a parish. The exact level of change at the two parishes here is not yet clear. Regardless, it would be wrong to imply that the priests should carry out their ministry in a way that is pleasing to the faithful in order to generate income for the parish. On the one hand, the priests have the responsibility to proclaim the Gospel in season and out of season, even if it is unpleasing to those whom their preaching challenges. On the other hand, it is the obligation of the faithful to support the work of the Church as a good in and of itself, irrespective of the popularity of the clergy. Financial support is not to be treated as a vote of confidence but as a gift of love. This was emphasized by Vatican II in many places (Presbyterorum ordinis, nn. 20-21; Apostolicam actuositatem, no. 21; Ad gentes, no. 36).

D. Approval of Finance Council

Allegation: Consultation with parishioners is next to non-existent; no approval of finance council

– Response: The duty of administration of the parish is entrusted to the Pastor and no other (c. 532); the Parochial Vicars participate in this according to the determinations of the Bishop and the Pastor. The Pastor never needs the approval of the finance council, pastoral council, or any other committee before making any decision (c. 536, §2, and c. 537). These councils and committees offer him insights, suggestions, and support; he can never allow them to bind him to make any specific decision, even by their unanimous vote (Instruction Ecclesiæ de mysterio, art. 5, §§2-3).

Source and great comments!

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Fidelium animae per misericoria Dei requiescat in pace. Amen.

Dies irae, dies illasolvet saeclum in favilla: teste David cum Sibylla.

Quantus tremor est futurus, quando judex est venturus, cuncta stricte discussurus!

Tuba mirum spargens sonumper sepulcra regionum, coget omnes ante thronum.

Mors stupebit et natura, cum resurget creatura, judicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur, in quo totum continetur, unde mundus judicetur.

Judex ergo cum sedebit, quidquid latet apparebit: nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit securus?

Rex tremendae majestatis, qui salvandos salvas gratis, salva me fons pietatis.

Recordare, Jesu pie,quod sum causa tuae viae: ne me perdas illa die.

Quaerens me, sedisti lassus:redemisti Crucem passus: tantus labor non sit cassus.

Juste judex ultionis, donum fac remissionisante diem rationis.

Ingemisco, tamquam reus:culpa rubet vultus meus:supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti, et latronem exaudisti, mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Preces meae non sunt dignae: sed tu bonus fac benigne, ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum praesta, et ab haedis me sequestra, statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis:voca me cum benedictis.

Oro supplex et acclinis, cor contritum quasi cinis:gere curam mei finis.

Lacrimosa dies illa, qua resurget ex favilla judicandus homo reus.

Huic ergo parce, Deus: pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem.


Sunday 17 October 2010

St. André Bessette, Ora pro nobis.

St. André Bessette of Mount Royal

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged Canadian Catholics to follow the example of St. Andre Bessette, the man better known to Montrealers as Brother Andre.

Friend to the poor and sick, founder of Montreal's St. Joseph's Oratory, and a man once dubbed the Miracle Man of Montreal, Bessette officially joined the sainthood along with five others during an elaborate ceremony in St Peter's Square.

Bessette "knew suffering and poverty very early in life," Pope Benedict said in a homily before an estimated 50,000 pilgrims from around the world, gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Born to an extremely poor family in St. Gregoire, southeast of Montreal, Bessette was orphaned at age 12 and drifted for years as an illiterate, unskilled worker. In 1870, he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross, which reluctantly accepted him and assigned him to a lowly job at the reception area of College Notre Dame in Cote des Neiges.

His early-life difficulties "led him to turn to God for prayer and an intense interior life," Pope Benedict said. "Doorman at College Notre Dame in Montreal, he showed boundless charity and did everything possible to soothe the despair of those who confided in him."

The diminutive lay brother "was the witness of many healings and conversions. 'Do not try to have your trials taken away from you,' he said, 'rather, ask for the grace to endure them,' " Pope Benedict added.

"For him, everything spoke of God and His presence.

"May we, following his example, search for God with simplicity to discover Him always present in the core of our lives. May the example of Brother Andre inspire Canadian Chrisltian life."

For the estimated 5,000 people here to celebrate Brother Andre's sainthood, Sunday's event was a long time coming. His devotees have been pressing the church for canonization since 1937, the year Brother Andre died.

When the gates to St. Peter's opened at 8 a.m. (2 a.m. Montreal time), the lines were already long, with many groups of pilgrims singing hymns to pass the time.

Those here for Brother Andre were easy to spot: they wore white scarves around their necks bearing images of Brother Andre and St. Joseph's oratory, along with the words: "A brother, a friend, a saint."

Security was tight. Bags were sent through x-ray machines and pilgrims were checked by metal detectors.

The five other new saints are: Mother Mary MacKillop, Australia's first saint; Stanislaw Soltys, a 15th-century Polish priest; Italian nuns Giulia Salzano and Battista Varano; and Spanish nun Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola.