Friday, January 23, 2015

Facebook fun with His Sheaness

Usually I don't waste my time arguing with neo-Cath apologists on online forums, but I recently had the opportunity of engaging in a tit-for-tat with His Sheaness on Facebook. The occasion was Shea's commentary on Damon Linker's piece "The Foolish Cruelty of Catholics Who Wants Gays to Disappear", published in The Week in December, 2014. Linker's piece itself was occasioned by a previous piece by Austin Ruse entitled "The New Homophiles", featured in Crisis magazine.

I recommend you read the two articles above for background. Ruse's article on the New Homophiles is fairly straight forward and represents traditional Catholic teaching on the question well - he basically makes the point that even if gay Catholics can serve God chastely and in good conscience, we should not view homosexual orientation as some kind of "good", and that the attempts to find special "gifts" and goods in homosexuality qua homosexuality constitutes a real rupture with Catholic teaching. The fact that the Church accepts orthodox homosexuals who are living celibate does not mean we ought to affirm a homosexual "identity".

Linker's piece trashes Ruse. He suggests homosexuals do have special "gifts" to offer the Church. He suggests that it is wrong to approach homosexuality as something that ought to be "cured". He has no problem with homosexuals being admitted to seminary and, while affirming that Catholic homosexuals have an obligation to live chastely, affirms the concept of homosexual identity.

Mark Shea posted a link to Linker's piece, in which he expressed complete approval with Linker's attack on Ruse and Linker's overall positive assessment of the "gifts" of homosexuals. "Gay identity" is a very broad topic, but I challenged Shea on the very narrow point of whether Linker was right that homosexuals should be admitted to seminaries, which has been very clearly answered in the negative by the Church.

Two things: First, I have not included the entirety of the Facebook thread, not because I want to hide anything but because it was one of those threads with hundreds of comments - and not all relevant - and posting them all would be tedious, so I've only posted the interactions between Shea and myself. Second, I have blacked out my own name. Although many of you know how I am, I have blotted out my own name simply because I choose to blog anonymously and try to keep my name off the Internet whenever possible. So the black boxes are me speaking.

In my entrance into the debate, I start with quoting Linker's article. Linker had criticized Ruse for stating that persons with homosexual desires were not suitable candidates to the priesthood, even if they were successfully practicing chastity. I then go on to quote several Vatican documents affirming the very position Linker slams Ruse for affirming:

Then Mark Shea jumps in and tosses out a typical neo-Cath canard: that of the mean traddie Pharisee:

Now, me it sounds like Shea is disagreeing with the document Religiosorum Institutio, as well as the 2005 Instruction. He seems to be saying that if a man is deeply attracted to men but simply manages not to act on it, then we shouldn't worry about admitting him to the priesthood. Not wanting to accuse Shea of saying something he is not, I ask him a simple yes or no question in order to clarify his position:

This should not be difficult. Linker had attacked Ruse for this position, but Ruse was quite correct in affirming the 1961 document of St. John XXIII, as well as the 2005 Instruction and Bertone's 2008 reaffirmation. Would Shea affirm these instructions?

*Sigh.* I guess I should have known better than to get a straight answer out of him. So, I recap my question and explain how it is related to the articles by Linker and Ruse:

Of course, Shea refuses to answer. To say "yes" puts him in clear opposition with the documents just cited, while to say "no" undermines his attack on Austin Ruse's article - or at least this aspect of it. So, as expected, he waffles on the question again, while also making some astonishing statements:

I respond to his comment about me "wetting myself" about gays sneaking into seminaries next, but notice the comment "discipline is discipline. It's malleable." Well, that is true, but my goodness, we are talking about disciplines reaffirmed as recently as 2008. We're not debating some medieval document. I grant the point that discipline is "malleable" (Shea and I would probably disagree on to what degree), but if discipline is so malleable as to be subject to complete revision and overturning in a space of a mere six years, then there is really no point anymore in talking about Catholic disciplines.

Also, note "since I'm not forming or becoming a priest, I don't much care what the Church does." That's pretty astonishing, but not really that surprising, given an increasing amount of neo-Caths seem to be taking this approach; remember Simcha's statement that nothing going on in Rome or in the Curia was important to her?

But he does reveal a bit of his hand here. He personally sees no problem with homosexual priests being ordained - and offers the argument that they would be the best qualified to minister to other men with same sex attraction! So...if we have a gay priest, we think it's a good idea to pair him up with other homosexual men?

At any rate, Shea dutifully says that he accepts the Church's "current policy" even though he personally doesn't see homosexual ordinations as a huge problem. Setting aside the laughable notion of the non-admission of homosexuals as simply "the Church's current policy" (as opposed to her perennial discipline), I wonder then, if he disagrees, should the discipline then be changed? Should the practice affirmed by the Church's newest sainted pope and reaffirmed twice in the past decade be chucked? And if so, what, exactly, has changed since 2008?

To his earlier comment, it's not me but the popes who cared about gays getting ordained. If this was the case since time immemorial until 2008, then the only justification for altering it must be that something has profoundly changed since 2008. How has the situation changed since then, Mark? Why are the directives of Benedict XVI and John XXIII no longer good enough?

Oh. They have nothing to do with the discussion. I see. It is evident that nothing has changed since 2008 - except public opinion. And now we are seeing a neo-Cath shift to bend with the winds. 

I've basically decided to throw in the towel by this point.

Mark really can't understand why his answers are not satisfactory:

So I toss it out to him one more time: If you disagree with the disciplines, then are you advocating they should change? Are you advocating that "chaste" homosexuals are suitable candidates for the priesthood? Should the traditional discipline be abandoned?

After maintaining a charitable demeanor in the midst of such responses, even another commentator, one who actually took Shea's side on the debate, tries to pry a straight answer out of him:

Well, it was fruitless. I got no more responses from His Sheaness, and the thread eventually deteriorated into some argument about whether the North or South was right in the Civil War.

But I think this thread demonstrates some inherent problems in the neo-Cath position: To what degree will we see that alleged orthodoxy to the Church is really just a matter of supporting what is viewed as "current policy"? Is there not a problem with viewing a perennial discipline as merely "policy"? Is not the value of discipline and tradition severely downgraded. if so? And if these sorts of matters are simply the "current policy" that can change the way it changes with each American presidential administration, what tools does the Church really have to ensure discipline and continuity in the long run?

Ultimately, the neo-Cath strategy is to insist loudly that certain things can never be changed so long as the current Pontiff does not want to change them; then, when the "policy" changes with another pontiff, suggest just as loudly that such matters were never immune from change to begin with. I'm not suggesting the practical question of whether or not to admit persons with deep-seated homosexuality to the seminary is a doctrinal question or that infallibility is on the line here; I am suggesting that reasoning that the Church's very old discipline on this matter (it goes back to Trent and before) can be seen as merely "current policy" is destructively reductionist.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Exquisitely Beautiful

Have you ever really seen a beautiful act of repentance and conversion unfold before you? We all have our own stories, of course, but I mean getting to observe the wondrous working of grace in somebody else, either up close or from a distance?

Some time ago - many years - I noticed in my parish one day a young woman sitting in the back. She was a pretty young thing, perhaps in her early or mid twenties. She was all alone. She was pregnant, perhaps five or six months. I'd never seen her before, and we have a small church so I recognize most of the regulars. I assumed she was new and perhaps not a believer, because never went up to receive communion. She mainly kept to the very back and kind of tried to remain unnoticed, and she always left Mass immediately so there was really no chance to talk to her.

One day, maybe about a month after I first noticed her, I was returning from communion and noticed her kneeling down at the pew and weeping profusely - and I mean weeping! Her head was in her hands, face red, tears streaming down her cheeks and her body heaving with sobs. I knew those tears - the tears of penitence! Oh how beautiful are the tears elicited by God's grace! I was profoundly moved just seeing it, but of course I didn't want to intrude, so I left her alone and gave thanks to God. A lamb was being carried back on the shoulders of the shepherd. She had found the pearl of great price.

Well that girl, she returned week after week. She still sat in the back, and she still did not receive communion. But it was different; there was a contentment on her face now. She was at peace. I often saw her while I was returning from communion. She was always praying fervently, judging by the fire in her eyes and the longing in her face. I saw her now and then lingering after Mass at times as she said hello to the priest and chatted with him, so she must have made an introduction to him.

Shortly after this she began receiving Holy Communion. I never saw her name on a list of candidates or catechumens and never witnessed or heard about any profession of faith at any Mass, so I am assuming she was already a Catholic. Her trip home came not in the public profession of faith but in the quiet and solitude of the confessional.

Months went by. The time came for her to deliver her child. Now I saw her at Mass with a tiny infant. I remember praying after Mass one day and seeing her and what I assumed were her extended family in the Church for the baptism. Never seen any of them before, and frankly, some of them looked kind of uncomfortable to be there. With them was a scruffy looking guy who was apparently the father of the baby. He looked kind of...well, let's just say he clearly wasn't sure about this Catholicism thing. I don't want to go too far and infer too much from their demeanor alone, but it seemed clear that the father was there because the girl wanted it, not because he understood what baptism was. Maybe I was wrong, but I'm a pretty good judge of body language. That's about all I could tell, and I left the church so they could have their private baptism.

The child was baptized. As months went by, I noticed the man occasionally attending Mass with the girl. He still looked skeptical about the whole thing, but maybe less so as time passed. He cleaned up a bit, too, and it seemed - from what I could tell - that the man and the girl were making an effort to raise the child together. A change had come over the girl, too. I don't know how to describe it. Just a look of contentment and lightness in her character. The workings of grace made manifest.

Some time passed. Maybe months. Maybe a year. I don't remember. Eventually they had wedding rings on their fingers. I don't know when. By now I'd been noting them for over a year and a half and still had never spoken to them. But somewhere along the line they got wed. The man was also now receiving Holy Communion in the good graces of Mother Church. And the girl was pregnant again.

Beautiful, right? It gets better.

After a time, another girl starts showing up with the first one. By her appearance, I assume she is her sister. Then that girl's husband stars attending. They get pregnant. Now there's two families. I watch their kids all get older. Other kids are born.

But that's not all. Eventually their parents start coming to Mass with them, at first intermittently, but then regularly. The whole huge brood becomes regular attendees at Mass. There's like ten or twelve of them now, a whole huge family of faith, born of the tears of one lonely, scared girl who cried out to God in a moment of desperation. And look what came of it! Faith of a mustard seed, indeed!

I don't know the whole backstory. I don't know the mysterious workings of Grace. I don't know what prayers, what arguments, what must have happened to get each one of those people there. But clearly the witness of the original girl and her fiery faith and love were the center upon which everything else revolved.

It's been years now. Did I ever talk to them? No. Never a word. I was perfectly content to watch this unfold from a distance. Maybe I shall someday. It is still unfolding. But when I think back on what I saw, the little bits I witnessed, of what happened, and remember years ago watching that lonely, pregnant girl weep in the back of the Church, my God! It is one of the most exquisitely beautiful things I have ever seen in this life!

That is what grace is about. That is worth fighting for.

"You tellest all my wanderings; put thou my tears into thy bottle. Are they not in thy book?" -Psalm 56:8

Friday, January 16, 2015


If we read the Diary of St. Faustina, we come across the following entry for December 17, 1936, which is paragraph number 823:

December 17 [1936]: I have offered this day for priests. I have suffered more today than ever before, both interiorly and exteriorly. I did not know it was possible to suffer so much in one day. I tried to make a Holy Hour, in the course of which my spirit had a taste of the bitterness of the Garden of Gethsemane.

Clearly something powerful was going on in the spiritual realm that day, and St. Faustina was keenly aware of it. What could have possibly been happening on that day to cause St. Faustina such agonizing pain? What was so special about December 17, 1936?



Well, I suppose we'll just file this under interesting factoids to keep in mind. It's probably nothing.

FYI. Before you comment, please notice the tag for this post is "humour"; it is not our intention to make any insinuation beyond noting the existence of this coincidence.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Old Testament Typology: Epiphany

What is the typological interpretation of Scripture? There are various ways it could be explained, but I think the best is to say that typology refers to the way the truths of the New Testament are foreshadowed or "hidden" in the Old Testament, to use St. Augustine's famous dictum.

It is the way in which Isaac carrying the wood up Mount Moriah to his own sacrifice signifies Christ carrying the cross; the way in which the waters of the great Flood signify baptism, or the valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem symbolizes Hell. The Old Testament is replete with examples in which persons, things and events signify New Testament realities in the same manner a shadow signifies the real thing by which the shadow is cast.

Please note that typology is not the same thing as prophecy; in prophecy, prophets reveal what God is doing or will do in a time to come - a telling or a foretelling. In typology, we have no foretelling but more of a signification, a symbolic affinity that helps us shed light on the mysteries of the New Testament in light of the Old and vice versa.

Two years ago we looked at the Feast of Epiphany as found in the prophetic texts of the Old Testament. This article explained Epiphany as the revelation of the Messiah to the Gentiles and examined many prophecies from the major and minor prophets which foretold this event. The following year we did an article examining the most famous of these prophecies in depth, that of Micah 5, which is the well-known Bethlehem Prophecy ("But thou, O' Bethlehem Ephratha...").

Today we shall again revisit this theme of Epiphany by examining the typological signs of the inclusion of the Gentiles throughout the Old Testament - that is, looking at persons and events of the Old Testament that signify the inclusion of the Gentiles into the household of God, which is at the core of this great Feast.

In the Book of Genesis, the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are the fathers of the nations and hence representative of the diversity the human race. Shem of course will be the father of the Hebrews and all the Semitic races. Japtheth, because he settled in the western isles, is typically symbolic of the Gentiles. In Noah's prophecy after he discovers Ham has seen him naked, he says:

"May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan be his servant" (Gen. 9:27).

That God will "enlarge" Japheth by making him "dwell in the tents of Shem" is signified that at some point the Gentile descendants of Japheth will be grafted into the house of Shem, which is what is inferred by saying they will "dwell in the tents" of Shem's descendants; i.e., the Gentiles will be grafted in to Israel (cf. Rom. 11:11-24).

Later in the Book of Genesis, we see Abraham, after returning from the victory over the five kings, pays homage to Melchizedek of Salem and offers him tithes (Gen. 14:17-20). This Melchizedek is a Gentile king who nevertheless has knowledge of the true God - at least that is the Catholic Tradition.* In Hebrews 7, St. Paul uses this historical episode to demonstrate the superiority of the New Covenant priesthood over the old, since in Abraham's submission there is a figurative submission of the Levitical order to the priesthood of Melchizedek. Now the priesthood of Melchizedek is one composed of Jews and Gentiles - of all who acclaim the Messiah. Therefore the episode of Abraham paying homage to Melchizedek demonstrates that the future priesthood will include the Gentiles, signified by the Gentile King Melchizedek.

In the Old Testament, especially in Genesis, we frequently see strife between the older and younger sibling with the theme of the younger supplanting the older. The Ishmael-Isaac, Esau-Jacob, and Joseph-Brothers stories all contain this element. Jesus Himself draws on this theme in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). In this parable of our Lord the younger brother represents the Gentiles while the older brother represents the Jews; the older brother is indignant about the Father's forgiveness and restoration of the prodigal son just as the Jews were envious an indignant at the inclusion of the Gentiles into the early Church. That the Gentiles have been grafted in while the Jews have persisted in unbelief is signified by the supplanting of the older sons by the younger in the Genesis patriarchal stories.

In 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9, we see that the Queen of Sheba comes to visit King Solomon with a very great retinue laden with all sorts of gifts. She has traditionally represented the nations, and the medievals saw a connection between her gifts to Solomon and the Magi's gifts to Christ. The Queen of Sheba came from the "ends of the earth" (cf. Luke 11:31) to present gifts to the Son of David and hear his wisdom; the Magi came from the ends of the earth to present gifts to the Son of David and learn the wisdom of God. Thus, the homage the Queen of Sheba pays to Solomon is a figure of the Gentiles being drawn into the Church of God, which is what Isaiah prophesied when he said:

'Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.' (Isa. 2:3).

We also should note that the genealogy of Jesus contains several references to Gentile's being grafted in to the messianic line. The genealogy of Christ, which is read at the Easter Vigil, contains references to four women, all of whom are Gentiles. These women are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Rahab.

Tamar (Gen. 38) was a Canaanite woman who was wed to two of Judah's sons and eventually, by ruse, became impregnated by Judah himself and gave birth to Perez, who was an ancestor of Jesus.

Rahab is best known as the Canaanite harlot who hid the twelve spies from Joshua in the episode of Jericho. But what is less well known is that after the fall of Jericho she was wed to Salmon of the house of Judah (Matt. 1:4-5) and would subsequently become the mother of Boaz.

Ruth was a Moabite woman who, through her attachment to her mother-in-law Naomi, came to dwell among the people of Israel and wed Boaz, and thus became the great-grandmother of David, and an ancestor of Christ.

Bathsheba, mentioned in the genealogy of Christ as "she who had been the wife of Uriah" (Matt. 1:14), was either a Hittite or a Jebusite. She is particularly important, as she is the Mother of the Son of David (Solomon) and hence a type of Mary (which we see in her intercessory role depicted in 1 Kings 2) as well as the Church. With the Gentile Bathsheba grafted into the royal House of David, we have the most perfect figure of the Gentiles being grafted in to the Church.

In each case we have a Gentile woman who is not only taken into the house of Israel in the Messianic line but who also serves to advance salvation history. None of these women are passive; they are active in the affairs of their day in one way or another and as such serve as instruments of God's Providence by which the Messiah is given to the world. This signifies the centrality of the inclusion of the Gentiles into the New Covenant, which is signified by the centrality Gentile women have played in the affairs if Israel throughout salvation history.

Our Lord also makes mention of some Gentiles in the Old Testament that were recipients of special favors from God:

Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way" (Luke 4:24-30).

Why the anger of the Jews? The widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian were both Gentiles. Elijah's miracle of the widow and the cleansing of Naaman both signify the inclusion of the Gentiles in God's covenant, especially the latter, which is a type of baptism. The Jews react with the same envious anger of the older brother in the Prodigal Son or the workers in the vineyard who were indignant that those hired later will receive the same pay as those who have worked all day. Our Lord suggests that because of unbelief, His message will be of greater news to the Gentiles than to unbelieving Jews, just as the miracles of Elijah and Elisha were done for pagans.

The inclusion of the Gentiles in the covenant is not an accidental aspect of the New Testament, but is central to it, something that St. Paul says is a mystery whose revelation had to wait the coming of Christ:

"In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 3:4-6).

This incorporation of the Gentiles into God's family is part of the birthright of the Messiah. God, speaking of the Messiah, says in the prophet Isaiah: "You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified," but then goes on to say, "It is too light a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (Isa. 49:3,6).

It is this light, this revelation of God to the Gentiles and their subsequent incorporation into the Kingdom of Christ that we celebrate today on the Feast of Epiphany.

Epiphany in the Prophets
The Bethlehem Prophecy of Micah

*Jewish tradition, unable to affirm that Father Abraham would pay tithes to a Gentile, has Melchizedek being none other than Shem himself under another name.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Book Review: Magisterial Authority

There is a gap today in many peoples understanding of the Holy Catholic Faith. What is the Magisterium? What authority does magisterial teaching have, and what degrees of intellectual assent are we required to yield to magisterial teaching? In this short and understandable work, Magisterial Authority by Father Chad Ripperger, the author does a solid job explaining the above in a way that most people who have reached the age of maturity will understand.

This book has already been reviewed here at Rorate Caeli by our friend Ryan Grant of Mediatrix Press. While I enjoyed the book and think Ryan did a great job with his review, I had some different thoughts on the work.

There has been some discussion in the press that the Pope will be publishing an encyclical in the near future throwing his support behind the theory that man is causing global climate fluctuations. Fr. Ripperger's helpful book examines the Pope's authority on matters of science or on other topics outside of faith and morals. If the Pope declares that the science behind man made climate change to be true, does that bind on the conscience of the faithful to accept it as well, or else risk becoming a dissident if one does not?

For being so short, the work is fairly comprehensive; I cannot think of an aspect of magisterial teaching that Father Chad did not at least briefly cover, and there was one particularly time I wished he had covered it more in depth in this short work. In the second essay ‘Various Organs of Infallibility’. The author cites Tuas Libenter, of Pope Pius IX, to say that the universal and constant consensus of Catholic theologians are to be considered infallible, but he limits those to the scholastic schools from between 1100 to 1750:
“When the term Theologians is used, it should not be confused with the generic theologians. The term “Theologians” refers to a specific group of men, viz. those theologians of the various scholastic schools from the twelfth century until the middle of the eighteenth century (roughly during the years of 1100 and 1750). Pius IX in Tuas Libenter says that we are to hold those teachings as pertaining to the Faith not only found in the decrees of the councils but also in the universal and constant consensus of the Catholic Theologians.” pg 30

He cites Scanelli, who observes the following:

“Although the assistance of the Holy Ghost is not directly promised to theologians, nevertheless the assistance promised to the Church requires that He should prevent them as a body from falling into error; otherwise the faithful who follow them would all be led astray.” pg 30-31

In my mind this raised some further questions which perhaps someone can explain for me.
  1. Why is the cut off date 1750 if the Church stills needs their assistance, according to Scannelli?
  2. Why is it limited to the Scholastics?
  3. Is this idea advanced by Pope Pius IX based on previous teaching on the same topic, or is this just one thought in his magisterial teaching?
  4. Is this statement asserting the infallibility of a consensus of theologians itself infallible? From what I understand from Fr. Chads book,  not every statement in an encyclical is infallible.
  5. Who determines if there is a consensus? Reading all the works of the scholastic presents a practical problem to everyone (even Bishops) except other theologians.

One would have to rely a great deal on the integrity of the theologians to point out when there is a lack of a consensus, (which many of them did, like St. Alphonsus, who would routinely cite people who disagreed with his opinion and then state why the thought they were wrong). This could lead to assuming a false consensus when none exists, a sort of “hyper-infallibility” every time someone reads a few theologians in agreement with each other from that era.

In the fourth essay ‘The Proper Response to an Erring Magisterial Member’ Father Ripperger provides some very sound and practical advice that can be very helpful to maintaining peace in ones soul in these tumultuous times. I thought the advice to pray and do penance when one encounters such a thing to be most excellent. It reminded me of a similar exhortation in the Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus, that before reproofing one’s brother one should pray and do penance in secret for him.

I would like to add a few thoughts to the last point in the essay: to examine ones conscience, asking “what have I done to deserve better leaders?”.

My desire to elaborate comes in part from the use of the quote from St. John Eudes in the text used in Fathers exhortation, the quote that is ubiquitous in traditional catholic circles from Catholic sites, blogs, forum signatures, memes, and has become a traditional Catholic cliche. The reliance on this singular quotation is curious, since there are many other works on calamity and why bad things happen written by greater authorities that appear to be neglected such as: St. John Cassian’s conference on the Slaughter of Holy Men, and even more modern works like Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Father Raoul Plus (A slightly abridged version on Audiobook here).

I wish to draw from that well of knowledge of St. John Cassian, not in opposition to examination of ourselves, or that bad leaders are not sometimes a divine chastisement . Rather that bad leaders in and of themselves are an indifferent kind of thing.

St. John Cassian, in conference 6 talks about the three kinds of things in this world: the good, the bad, and the indifferent. The only thing bad is sin, the only thing good is Godliness and the practice of virtue and the indifferent are

“But those things are indifferent which can be appropriated to either side according to the fancy or wish of their owner, as for instance riches, power, honor, bodily strength, good health, beauty, life itself, and death, poverty, bodily infirmities, injuries, and other things of the same sort, which can contribute either to good or to evil as the character and fancy of their owner directs.” ~On the Slaughter of Some Holy Men, St. John Cassian.

Evil, that is sin we are responsible for can never be forced on us, even if our bodies were possessed by a devil, we are only guilty in so far as we cooperate with evil at the level of our will.

Is our anger at bad leaders because we wish to avoid suffering? If our examination of conscience returns us to compunction and a willingness to suffer then it is good, but we should be cautious as to think that even if we and the majority of Christians should show perfect fidelity to grace for the rest of our lives that we would avoid suffering the scourge of bad leaders.

Bad leaders, whether they are chastisements for the wicked, and/or trials for the just, are to bring out a greater good. Father Chad says “We must make sure that our conscience is clear by making sure that we do prayer and penance to make sure that we have priests and bishops who love and teach the Orthodox Catholic Faith”.pg 58

Can man ever make sure, even by prayer and penance? When our ability to say pleasing prayer and make righteous penance comes from the movement of Grace? When our Lord was in agony, He asked that the cup pass from him, was not His Prayer most perfect? Yet, He said “Thy Will be Done”, and we must pray similarly - when we ask God to send us good and holy priests, it must be within the greater context of His Adorable Will, understanding that He may send us good or bad for His own reasons. God allowed the betrayal of Judas to bring a greater good out of it.  God can allow bad leaders for the same reason, and that He will give the grace to resist the temptations to sin that arise both from their bad example and leadership, and  I cannot conclude otherwise. We cannot make sure why we have bad leaders at any given time, and so we should rather seek to unite ourselves with the will of the Father whether He gives us good leaders, or he allows bad ones for our sanctification. 

Even though I found certain parts I disagreed with, I still found this work is still most necessary, and I feel that it will become even more important in the coming year. I would encourage you to read, buy and distribute this to your friends and family. In my opinion, its presentation is solid and should appeal to more than just traditional Catholics. I certainly plan on passing around my copy.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Posts of 2014

It's time to wrap up another year here at Unam Sanctam Catholicam. And what a great year it was! Back in February we announced the addition of two new contributors, Noah Moerbeek of Alleluia Audio Books, as well as Maximus, who is now residing in Italy as our "Roman Correspondent" (LOL). A shout out of course to my very old and dear friend and co-blogger Anselm, who still pops in once or twice a year with some commentary or book review.

Thanks also to John Goodall for meticulously editing all of the articles on the Unam Sanctam website, to Throwback from Popin' Ain't Easy for his movie reviews, and A.R. Danziger Art & Design for occasional design work over the years.

Finally, shout outs to those other sites and Facebook pages who are instrumental in spreading our writing, especially: Tantumblogo from the always pleasant Blog for Dallas Area Catholics, Bruce from Catholic Faith: In the Light of Tradition, which is a neat Facebook page that kind of serves as an aggregator of good traditional content from all over the web. Please go give them a few likes, as well as Catholic Issues,  New Zealand. Also worthy of mention in this regard are Pewsitter, who gave us more traffic this year than any other site, as well as Dr. Blosser at Musings of a Pertinacious Papist. I'm sure I'm missing some, but God bless all of you.

Special thanks to that blogger who variously goes by the names of Immature Brain Surgeon, Mighty Joe Young and I Am Not Spartacus. He has given me a lot of encouragement over the years and is always great at tipping me off to excellent little nuggets.

And now, on to my favorite posts from 2014:

God is Not Impressed by Numbers:Yes, our Lord wants all men to be saved. But they will be saved on His terms, and if they will not heed Him on His own terms, He is willing to wipe them away and start all over again. He has delivered His truth and His commands, and if people are not willing to keep them, He will blot them out - even if He has to blot out an entire nation or even a race and start all over again from scratch.

Ecumenism is the Church's Bad Dream: Just like the bad dream where you know you have to leave to go somewhere but keep finding yourself bogged down by various details, so the Church speaks of reunion but never actually moves towards it. It has repudiated the only path towards real reunion - return to Rome.

Jewels for Your Crown: Whatever evil afflicts us we should like valiant warriors go to fight the dragon. To bear wrongs patiently is not to run from battle, but to fight bravely with the arms that God has given us: meekness, patience, goodness and all the other Fruits of the Holy Ghost.

Lost Practice of Christian Shunning: We do not go out of our way to avoid the sinners of the world – those folks are targets for conversion and anyhow its impossible to get away from them ultimately. But we do expect a certain degree of behavior and fidelity “on the inside” of the Church, to use St. Paul’s language. Those Christians who obstinately refuse to maintain it ought to be avoided. 

Synod Wrap Up: Our analysis of the epic Synod on the Family of October, 2014.

Steel or Platitudes: There was a time when the Church defended her flock with steel instead of empty platitudes and fuzzy feelings.

Critiques of the Brick by Brick Mentality: Why not denying that reform happens incrementally, this post examines some of the questionable premises associated with the movement that has become known as the 'reform of the reform', or also, the 'brick by brick' approach.

Two Tales of Tradition: A very straightforward way to underscore the importance of Tradition by reference to the experience of two small European villages.

Profile of a Theological Liberal: What does it mean to be a "liberal" theologian? Catholics have appropriated secular-political definitions of what it means to be "liberal" or "conservative", essentially equating indicators of political liberalism with theological liberalism. We defer to Pius IX and Pius X to set us straight.

Is the Novus Ordo a New Rite of the Church? Discussing a perennial problem in Catholic Traditionalism - is the Novus Ordo of Paul VI to be understood as a new rite of the Church or not?

Right Reading of the Old Testament: First in a three-part series about the right way to read the Old Testament.

This is Not About Chesterton: Objections to a prospective candidate's beatification should be addressed, not simply swept aside because we "like" him.

The Great Inversion: One of the greatest inversions of modern theology is found in the notion that love has primacy over truth. In this blog's 1000th post, we examine this inversion in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger.

A Counterblast: Discord and Contention: Why it is not sinful to point out the problems in the Church; refuting the common accusations about 'grumpy' traditionalists fostering discord and disunity in the Church.

As always, please visit our sister site for more in-depth articles on items of interest to Catholic Tradition. There are a lot of great Traditional Catholic websites out there, but it is my experience that very few of them offer original content or research. We try here to make our little poor contribution in this field. May the Lord richly bless you.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Joshua the Contemplative

There is much talk these days about "going out to the peripheries" and about finding a "use" for contemplative religious orders whose charisms have not traditionally been activist. The modern world has a very difficult time understanding the contemplative tradition. As far back as the late Enlightenment, the heretic Emperor Joseph II of Austria gave his name to the heresy of Josephism which taught that only the active orders could be considered "useful"; a century later Pope Leo XIII censured the heresy of Americanism, which among other things, prioritized the active over the passive virtues, thus inverting the traditional hierarchy.

Yes, there is the momentum building for everybody in the Catholic religious world, even contemplatives, to "get out" and "do" something. The contemplative tradition is increasingly viewed as something self-absorbed, something that turns one inward and makes one oblivious to the suffering around us. Persons promoting this idea fail to realize that the active and contemplative go together; the contemplative tradition is what creates the dynamic strength that makes the active fruitful. To denigrate the contemplative or seek to reduce it at the expense of the active is to also destroy the active works of the Church. Incidentally, this is why so many programs and active efforts of the Church in the modern world fail. The contemplative serves as the basis of strength for the active.

We could refute this by reference to the lives of the saints, which provide us with ample evidence to the contrary. But in order to keep this brief, let us appeal rather to the Sacred Scriptures, where the person of Joshua furnishes us with a marvelous example of the contemplative who bears rich fruit.

Joshua as a contemplative? You have read correctly. Joshua is of course known for leading the children of Israel in the conquest of the Holy Land, presiding over her armies as a sort of military ruler. But what is less known is that Joshua had an extraordinarily intense spiritual life and spent years and silent contemplation before the Lord before God elevated him to lead the hosts of Israel.

Let us turn to the Book of Exodus, where we read of how God used to come to address Moses in the Tent of Meeting, where the Ark of the Covenant was housed and which represented the tangible presence of God among His people:

"Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tents. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent" (Ex. 33:7-11).

Here we see the formation of Joshua before he succeeded Moses. Joshua spends his days inside the Tabernacle, alone with God. What must this have been like! Hour after hour prostrate before the visible presence of God, which was manifest by the pillar of the cloud whenever Moses approached. When I sit alone in Eucharistic Adoration, I often imagine myself in the place of Joshua, sitting alone in front of the Ark of the Covenant and the awesome mystery it represented.

How long did Joshua spend before the Presence of God? We do not know; this particular episode narrated above happened immediately after the Exodus, but since this arrangement continued throughout the forty years in the wilderness, we may reasonably surmise that this was the practice of Joshua throughout the entirety of the forty years. This means that before Joshua ever led a single battle in the Holy Land or waged any of his famous campaigns, he spent upwards of forty years in regular, perhaps daily, adoration of God silently inside the Tabernacle.

We also read that Joshua was present with Moses on Mount Sinai when the Law was received. We all know the story of Moses receiving the Law, but we seldom recall that others were present on the mount as well. Exodus 24:9-11 states that beside Moses, Aaron and his sons as well as seventy elders went up on the mountain and beheld the face of God and feasted in His presence. Joshua is not mentioned here, but later in episode of the golden calf, it appears that Joshua was on the mountain with Moses when the Law was received. He accompanies Moses down and is the first to hear the sound of revelry in the camp, which he initially mistakes for a battle (cf. Ex. 32:17-18).

How long was Joshua on Sinai? We do not know, but he appears to have been acting in the position of Moses' personal assistant. If so, there is no reason to suppose he was not on the mountain the entire forty days - probably standing a far off or maintaining his distance from the frightful theophanies being experienced by Moses, but on the mountain nonetheless. And what was he doing for that time? We may reasonably suppose the same thing he does in the succeeding years sitting in the Tabernacle: adoring the presence of God.

All in all, the picture we get of Joshua in the Book of Exodus is of a man who passionately desires the Presence of God. Yes, he will do mighty works - in his warfare and the worldly, administrative concerns that will envelop him after Moses' death, he is undoubtedly a Martha. But prior to assuming this role, we see him spending decades of formation in what can best be described as a contemplative tradition - countless hours in the silent adoration of the mystery of God's presence. In his formation and the desires of his heart, he is a Mary.

In the Book of Joshua, Joshua is one who discerns the voice of God and is able to carry out His will. Are we to think that those long years silently adoring the Presence of God did not have something to do with this? Indeed, we see in Joshua that the source of his fruitfulness in his worldly endeavors was probably tied directly to his sensitivity to the Spirit of God, as formed through countless years in God's presence.

Contemplative spirituality and contemplative religious orders are not "useless", and it is a tremendous error to view their value only in terms of how much they can "open up" to "doing something" evangelical, The contemplative life has always been valued higher than the active life, both in the absolute sense, and in the sense that even the fruitful exercise of an 'active' ministry presupposes a strong grounding in the interior life.

Some may have accused Joshua of being "self-absorbed" for spending so many hours in silent adoration before God; he no doubt may have come off as "closed", maybe "sad" and "funereal" at times for the gravity of the mystery he was adoring - perhaps at times aloof, "anesthetized" to the goings on of the world around him - had we known Joshua, like many saintly men and women, we may have found him to be a "real downer." Some may have urged him to stop being so "enclosed" and to get himself out "to the peripheries." But ultimately, had Joshua not spent those precious years in formation - and a very intensive formation the likes of which we can hardly imagine - it is doubtful whether he would have been the successful leader he became.

The power to shout and knock down walls flows from humble worship in the Presence of the Holy One. If we wish to do the former, we cannot neglect the latter.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Need Something to Read Over Break?

If you find yourself with a very long weekend from work, or if you are a teacher and have the whole next week off, or perhaps are a college student home between semesters or just otherwise find yourself with some time on your hands, here is a synopsis of all of the Fall and early Winter articles published on the Unam Sanctam Catholicam website. It is certainly enough to keep one busy throughout the Octave! The articles on the Nephilim and Torture are particularly in-depth (i.e., long). 

Enjoy, and thank you for your continued patronage of this blog and site.

Christian Contemplation vs. Pagan Meditation
Returning to a Morality of Happiness
Introducing RCIA Powerpoints
Good, Acceptable and Perfect Will of God
C.S. Lewis, the Psalms and Modernism
Watchers and Nephilim
Ecclesiastical Property Ownership in the Middle Ages
What's Wrong With Religious Orders in America?
The 1549 Prayer Book Rebellion
Vincentian Canon & Unanimous Consent of the Fathers
Catholics and Tithing
Status and Contract
Monastic Joy
Torture: Historical and Ethical Perspectives

Obscure Saints

Guthlac of Crowland (d. 714)
Cronan and Cronan (7th century)

Movie Reviews

War Horse (2011)
From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
Ender's Game (2013)
Belle (2014)
Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Increasingly Non-Committal Christmas Proclamation

Christmas is almost upon us. Whether you go to the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo, most of us will hear some form of the traditional Christmas Proclamation. The Christmas Proclamation is not part of the 1962 Missale Romanum (being originally associated with the Divine Office and the hours of Prime), but a many EF Masses include a reading of the Proclamation prior to the midnight Mass.

The Christmas Proclamation is meant to situate the Incarnation of our Lord in the context of salvation history by relating it to other important events and persons of the Old Testament and emphasizing how Christ's Incarnation happened "in the fulness of time" (Gal. 4:5).

The Traditional Christmas Proclamation as used in the Latin rite reads:
The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;

It is interesting to see how this Proclamation has changed with the coming of the Novus Ordo. It was not promulgated in NO Masses until 1980, when John Paul II restored it to the Christmas liturgy. In the revised English Christmas Proclamation, as adopted by the USCCB in 1994, we see that some changes were made to the traditional dating [bolded]:

Today, the twenty-fifth day of December,
unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth and then formed man and woman in his own image
Several thousand years after the flood, when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant.
Twenty-one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah;
thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt.
Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges;
one thousand years from the anointing of David as kin

We have moved from asserting the Incarnation happened "in the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world" to saying that this happened "unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth." And, "two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the Flood" has become, "several thousand years after the Flood."

The current version of the Christmas proclamation is even more watered down. Here is the official 2004 version in the Novus Ordo as listed on the website of the USCCB for Christmas of 2014:

The Twenty-fifth Day of December,
when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world,
when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
and formed man in his own likeness;
when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace;
in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,
came out of Ur of the Chaldees;
in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses
in the Exodus from Egypt;
around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;

"Unknown ages" from the Creation has now become "ages beyond number." I thought the amount of ages was "unknown"? Apparently the committees who decide these things thought that, despite stating that the amount of ages since the beginning was "unknown", we have now learned (just since 2004) that it was actually "ages without number." Whereas the 1994 amendment places the flood "several thousand years"  ago, the newer amendment says "century upon century", which is an even more indeterminate amount of time - "century upon century" could mean ten centuries or ten thousand centuries.

A few other quirks: Notice that the traditional "one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king" in 1994 was changed to the more general "one thousand years from the anointing of David as king" and then at last in 2004 to the extraordinarily non-committal "around the thousandth year since David was anointed King." What is "around the thousandth year"? Is that give or take a decade? A century? Two centuries? Also Ruth and the Judges briefly appear in the 1994 version only to disappear in the 2004 version.

I think we can infer two things from these changes.

Some time ago, I noted in my article "The Solemn Enthronement of Evolution" that it is totally incorrect when people say the Catholic Church has 'never had a problem with evolution.' When evolution was first proposed back in the mid-1800's, the Church had a huge problem with it; Catholic publications sympathetic to Darwinism were condemned and placed on the Index. The Church's objections had to do with the concept of substance. If evolution is true, even theistic evolution, then there really is no underlying Being that undergoes accidental change but is not itself changed. Being is becoming. Everything is in a state of flux. In short, there can be no concept of substance with an evolutionary model. This has striking implications for a number of things, including human nature and transubstantiation. I recommend the article linked above for a more thorough treatment of this problem.

The Christmas Proclamation demonstrates that, yes, the Church traditionally did assume a literal, historical reading of Genesis and the Creation. This is not to say that the Church has infallibly taught that the world was created in 5199 B.C.; and the Christmas Proclamation is not even formally part of the Missale Romanum, so we are not asserting anything infallibly or suggesting that opinions to the contrary are heresy. But this does suggest that the Church's Tradition has strongly favored a literal reading of the Genesis account. Remember, the according to Msgr. Agius in The Church and Tradition, the Church's prime constitutive tradition is her liturgical practices. So while the literalism favored by the Christmas Proclamation does not establish anything with absolute authority, at the same time,the dating in the Proclamation is not meaningless.

The second thing we can infer is the Church authorities are less and less comfortable with chronology when it comes to the Old Testament. The first date to be abandoned was the Creation, and then the Flood date was abandoned in favor of "several thousand years." While "several thousand years" is less specific than "two thousand nine hundred fifty-seven years", it still commits us to a time-frame of more or less a few millennia. "Several thousand years" would rule out, say, five-hundred thousand years or a million. "Several thousand" basically limits us to 2,000-5,000 years before Christ, in my personal opinion. Still, quite a bit of leeway.

But the 2004 revision is not even comfortable with that, so we get "century upon century" since the Flood, which could mean anything from 5,000 years ago to four billion years ago.

By now the dating of Abraham and Moses is called into question, too. The 1994 version gives us broad ranges of "twenty centuries" for Abraham and thirteen for Moses. The traditional date for Moses is the year the people of Israel "went forth" out of Egypt while the 1994 version gives us the date the people were "led" by Moses, which was really a period of forty years at least, again, creating more wiggle-room.

David is also adjusted from the more specific 1032 B.C. to 1000 B.C. in the 1994 version. In the 2004 version, its as if the uncertainty about chronology has seeped right up to the time of the Davidic kingdom, as the 2004 text says David ruled "around" a thousand years ago. Who knows what "around" a thousand years ago means?

My point here is not to say that one date is "wrong" and the older ones infallibly correct. My point is to establish that the Church is increasingly uncomfortable maintaining chronology when it comes to the Old Testament. This is no doubt influenced by the general acceptance of the Documentary Hypothesis, which assumes the patriarchs are fables and questions the historicity of David (see my article "Deconstructing the Documentary Hypothesis" for a thorough dismantling of this faith-destroying theory). The modern Magisterium is less and less willing to hold the line on the traditional timeline for Old Testament events.

Eventually we may see uncertainty on any dating prior to the Exile - many Documentarians have already reached this point. Perhaps a future edition of the Proclamation will look like this:

The Twenty-fifth Day of December,
thousands of eons since the creation of the world,
when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
and formed man in his own likeness through a gradual evolution of pre-existing matter which was later ensouled at a certain point;
when tens of thousands had passed
since the pre-Camrbian age,
tons of thousands of years since Abraham may or may not have actually wandered out of Ur of the Chaldees;
in the tenth century since a few hundred Israelites were led by Moses across the six-inch deep Reed Sea in what Jewish religious experience would later call the Exodus from Egypt;
around the thousandth year - give or take three centuries - since the vagabond warlord David was anointed King over a United Kingdom that probably never existed.
Two or three centuries since the post-Exilic works known as J,E,P and D were compiled into the Torah...

Merry Christmas from Unam Sanctam Catholicam.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Torture: Historical and Ethical Perspectives

As with many debates in the modern Church, the one currently going on over torture misses the point entirely. To that end, I have put together a very lengthy article on some historical and ethical considerations to keep in mind when discussing the torture issue. As we will see, there are some very important distinctions that need to be made which are simply not getting acknowledged.

It is not the purpose of this article to weigh in on the contemporary CIA controversy, nor to precisely nail down the level of theological certainty/authority of the statements of the modern pontiffs against torture. Rather, we hope to use the CIA controversy as an opportunity to explore the historical development of the Church's thinking on torture in order to shed light on some of the ethical considerations that are often neglected in contemporary discussions. As with many other discussions on modern moral difficulties, our study may reveal that the "difficulty" consists in framing the question in the wrong context.

The article is very long (it came out to 23 pages in a Word document). You can read it at this link on the Unam Sanctam Catholicam website, where all my hideously long and amply footnoted sorts of writings go.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Popular Carols in Latin

Looking for some new Christmas music to brighten your Advent season? I'm sure we're all tired of the same old nonsense that is played ad nauseam every year. Why not introduce something new into the holiday repertoire, promote the Latin language, and obnoxiously show off to your non-Latin speaking friends at the same time?

That's right - Latin versions of popular Christmas classics!

Rudolphus Rubro Naso (to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer")

Reno erat Rudolphus
Nasum rubrum habebat
Si quando hic videbas
Hunc candere tu dicas.

Omnes renores alii
Semper hunc deridebant;
Cum misero Rudolpho
In iudis non iudebant.

Santus Nicholas dixit
Nocte nebulae
"Rudolphe, naso claro
Nonne carrum tu duces?"

Tum renores clamabant,
"Rudolphe, delectus es!
Cum naso rubro claro
Historia descendes!

Aquafolia Ornatis (to the tune of "Deck the Halls")

Aquafolia ornatis
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Tempus hoc hilaritatis
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Vestes claras induamus;
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Cantilenas nunc promamus
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Procul in Praesaepi ("Away in a Manger")

1. Procul in praesaepi et sine lecto,/ en, parvulus Iesus dormit in faeno
stellaeque micantes despectant eum/ tranquillo in somno, nostrum Domino

2. Dum mugiunt boves, expergiscitur;/ nec tamen ex illo auditur murmur.
Amo te, mi Iesu! De caelo specta/ et usque ad lucem, precor, mi adsta.

3. Es, Domine, mecum, te rogo; mane/ me iuxta aeterno, et dilige me.
Pueruli omnes in cura tua/ fac uti fruantur aeterna vita.

Silens Nox ("Silent Night")

1.Silens nox, sancta nox,/ Placida, lucida,
Virginem et puerum/ Dulcem atque tenerum,
Somno opprime,/ Somno opprime.

2.Silens nox, sancta nox,/ Angeli nitidi
"Alleluia" concinunt;/ Nunc pastores metuunt;
Christus natus est,/ Christus natus est.

3. Silens nox, sancta nox,/ Candida, splendida
Fili Dei facies/ Nobis praebet novas spes;
Christus natus est,/ Christus natus est

Angels We Have Heard on High

1. Lapsi caelo super gentes/ properate, angeli,
nuntiate nunc gaudentes/ natum nostri Domini.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!/ Gloria in excelsis Deo!

2. Salve, rex concordiae,/ Salve, sol iustitiae,
Lumen, vitam afferens,/ Salutaris oriens.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!/ Gloria in excelsis Deo!

O Viri Este Hilaries ("God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen")

1. O viri, este hilares/ Et bono animo;
Salvator Christus natus est/ Hoc tempore festo
Ut nos errantes liberet/ Summo periculo.
Refrain: O laetissimum nuntium, laetissimum,
O laetissimum nuntiu

2. De caelo Pater misit/ In terram angelum,
Qui quosdam ad pastores/ Afferret nuntium,
In Bethlehem natus esse/ Ipsius filium.

3. Quo cognito pastores,/ Completi gaudio,
Relictis statim gregibus/ In imbre et in vento,
Approperant in urbem/ Visendi studio.

4. Eo cum pervenissent,/ Viderunt parvulum
Cubantem in praesaepio/ In faeno pecorum,
Dum mater nixa genibus/ Adorat Dominum.

5. Nunc collaudemus Dominum/ Omnes qui adsumus,
Amore vero inter nos/ Dilecti penitus;
Nam omnium dierum/ Hic est faustissimu.

In Dulci Iubilo

In dulci iubilo/ Cantate domino!
Nostri cordis gaudium/ Est in praesaepio
Et fulget ut lux solis/ In matris gremio.
Alpha est et O,/ Alpha est et O.

O Iesu Parvule,/ Requiro solum Te:
Meumque sis solamen,/ O puer optime!
Commune per levamen,/ O princeps gloriae!
Trahe me post Te! Trahe me post Te!

Joy to The World

Laetissimus, Accipiat
Iam mundus Dominum
Dum omnia, In corda nos
Accipimus illum, Accipimus illum.
Accipimus illum.

En canentes angeli ("Hark the Herald Angels Sing")

1. En canentes angeli:/ "Gloria Regi infanti;
Pax in terra, et Deus/ Concors cum mortalibus."
Laeti, omnes populi,/ Cum caelestibus iuncti,
Praedicate "Nunc Christus/ Est in Bethlehem natus."
En canentes angeli:/ "Gloria Regi infanti."

2. Adoratus caelitus,/ Christus, semper Dominus,
Serius advenit spe,/ Genitus e virgine;
Carne tamquam obsitus,/ Homo ex Deo factus,
Volens ut par sit honos,/ Commoratur inter nos.
En canentes angeli:/ "Gloria Regi infanti."

3. Salve, rex concordiae,/ Salve, sol iustitiae,
Lumen, vitam afferens,/ Salutaris oriens;
Gloriam deposuit,/ Humilesque extuli,
Immortales reddens nos,/ Denuo regenitos.
En canentes angeli:/ "Gloria Regi infanti."

We Three Kings of Orient Are

Reges: 1. Orientis reges tres/ Procul dona portantes
Per campos et montes imus,/ Stellam illam sequentes.

Chorus: O stella potens et mira/ Stella regalis pulchra,
Semper movens ad occasum/ Duc nos ad claram lucem.

Melchior: 2. Infans nate Bethlehem,/ Portamus hanc coronam,
Rex aeterne, sempiterne,/ Domine terrarum.

Caspar: 3. Tu Sabaeum Tibi fero,/ Tus dignum magno Deo;
Te laudantes et orantes/ Colimus in caelo.

Balthazar: 4. Myrrhum amaram defero;/ Circum te fumat caligo,
Te languentem et gementem, Conditum in tumulo.

Reges: 5. Clarus surgit, O specta!/ Deus, rex, et victima.
Alleluia, Alleluia,/ Canunt caelum et terra

Sunday, December 14, 2014


From Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, vol. 1:

To-day, again, the Church is full of joy, and the joy is greater than it was. It is true that her Lord has not come; but she feels that He is nearer than before, and therefore she thinks it just to lessen somewhat the austerity of this penitential season by the innocent cheerfulness of her sacred rites. And first, this Sunday has had the name of Gaudete given to it, from the first word the Introit; it also is honoured with those impressive exceptions which belong to the fourth Sunday of Lent, called Laetare. The organ is played at the Mass; the vestments are rose-colour; the deacon resumes the dalmatic, and the subdeacon the tunic; and in the cathedral churches the bishop assists with the precious mitre. How touching are all these usages, and how admirable this condescension of the Church, wherewith she so beautifully blends together the unalterable strictness of the dogmas of faith and the graceful poetry of the formulae of her liturgy! Let us enter into her spirit, and be glad on this third Sunday of her Advent, because our Lord i now so near unto us. To-morrow we will resume our attitude of servants mourning for the absence of their Lord and waiting for Him; for every delay, however short, is painful and makes love sad.

The Station is kept in the basilica of St. Peter, at the Vatican. This august temple, which contains the tomb of the prince of the apostles, is the home and refuge of all the faithful of the world; it is but natural that it should be chosen to witness both the joy and the sadness of the Church.

The night Office commences with a new Invitatory. The voice of the Church no longer invites the faithful to come and adore in fear and trembling the King, our Lord, who is to come. Her language assumes another character; her tone is one of gladness; and now, every day, until the vigil of Christmas, she beings her nocturns with these grand words: "Prope est jam Dominus: venite adoremus", "The Lord is now night; come, let us adore"

Now let us take the book of the Prophet, and read with the Church:

(Isaia Cap. xxvi)
In die illa cantabitur canticum istud in terra Juda: Urbs fortitudinis nostrae Sion; salvator ponetur in ea murus et antemurale. Aperite portas, et ingrediatur gens justa, custodiens veritatem. Vetus error abiit: servabis pacem; pacem, quia in te speravimus. Sperastis in Domino in saeculis aeternis; in Domino Deo forti in perpetuum. Quia incurvabit habitantes in excelso; civitatem sublimem humiliabit: humiliabit eam usque ad terram, detrahet eam usque ad pulverem. Conculcabit eam pes, pedes pauperis, gressus egenorum. Semita justi recta est, rectus callis justi ad ambulandum. Et in semita judiciorum tuorum, Domine, sustinuimus te: nomen tuum et memoriale tuum in desiderio animae. Anima mea desideravit te in nocte, sed et spiritu meo in praecordiis meis de mane vigilabo ad te.
In that day shall this canticle be sung the land of Juda. Sion the city of our strength a saviour, a wall and a bulwark shall be set therein. Open ye the gates, and let the just nation, that keepeth the truth, enter in. The old error is passed away: thou wilt keep peace: peace, because we have hoped in thee. You have hoped in the Lord for evermore, in the Lord God mighty for ever. For he shall bring down them that dwell on high, the high city he shall lay low. He shall bring it down even to the ground, he shall pull it down even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. The way of the just is right, the path of the just is right to walk in. And in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, we have patiently waited for thee: thy name, and thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath desired thee in the night: yea, and with my spirit within me in the morning early I will watch to thee.

O holy Roman Church, city of our strength! behold us thy children assembled within thy walls, around the tomb of the fisherman, the prince of the apostles, whose sacred relics protect thee from their earthly shrine, and whose unchanging teaching enlightens thee from heaven. Yet, O city of strength: it is by the Saviour, who is coming, that thou art strong. He is thy wall, for it is He that encircles, with His tender mercy, all thy children; He is thy bulwark, for it is by Him that thou art invincible, and that all the powers of hell are powerless to prevail against thee. Open wide thy gates, that all nations may enter thee; for thou are mistress of holiness and the guardian of the truth. May the old error, which sets itself against the faith, soon disappear, and peace reign over the whole fold! O holy Roman Church! thou hast for ever put thy trust in the Lord; and He, faithful to His promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. Where now are the Casears, who boasted that they had drowned thee in thine own blood? where the emperors, who would ravish the inviolate virginity of thy faith? where the heretics, who, during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching, and denied what they listed? where the ungrateful princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who hadst made them what they were? where the empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenceless State, didst arrest the pride of its conquests? where the reformers, who were bent on giving the world a Christianity, in which thou was to have no part? where the more modern sophists, in whose philosophy thou wast set down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is now a ruin? and those kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where will they be in another hundred years?

Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm, as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through all the ages of this world's duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the eighteen hundred years past, whilst everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence this thy stability, but from Him who is very truth and justice? Glory be to Him in thee! Each year, He visits thee; each year, He brings thee new gifts, wherewith thou mayst go happily through thy pilgrimage; and to the end of time, He will visit thee, and renew thee, not only with the power of that look wherewith Peter was renewed, but by filling thee with Himself, as He did the ever glorious Virgin, who is the object of thy most tender love, after that which thou bearest to Jesus Himself. We pray with thee, O Church, our mother, and here is our prayer: 'Come Lord Jesus! Thy name and Thy remembrance are the desire of our souls: they have desired Thee in the night,  yea, and early in the morning have they watched for Thee.'

Pp. 199-202, Loreto Publications edition. All Text in the Public Domain.