"The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus be a sign of it." JPII - Theology of the Body
Below is the text from Msgr. Pope's "controversial" call to end the political nonsense that seem to plague some men in the Church. He called for perseverance and courage. Go Here for the response to why the blog was taken down. There is nothing uncharitable about this blog. It simply confronts a problem. There is a conflict and conflict must be addressed. It is unfortunate that it has been taken down. Please Pray for Msgr. Pope. Time to End the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner? By: Msgr. Charles Pope
The time for happy-clappy, lighthearted engagement of our culture may be nearing an end. Sometimes it takes a while to understand that what used to work no longer works. Let me get more specific.
Decades ago the "Al Smith Dinner" was a time for Republicans and Democrats to bury the hatchet (even if only temporarily) and come together to raise money for the poor and to emphasize what unites us rather than what divides us. But in the old days the death of 50 million infants was not what divided us. We were divided about lesser things such as how much of the budget should go to defense and how much to social spending. Reasonable men might differ over that.
But now we are being asked to raise toasts and to enjoy a night of frivolity with those who think it is acceptable to abort children by the millions each year, with those who think anal sex is to be celebrated as an expression of love and that LGBTQIA… (I=intersexual, A= Asexual) is actually a form of sanity to which we should tip our hat, and with those who stand four-square against us over religious liberty.
Now the St. Patrick's Parade is becoming of parade of disorder, chaos, and fake unity. Let's be honest: St. Patrick's Day nationally has become a disgraceful display of drunkenness and foolishness in the middle of Lent that more often embarrasses the memory of Patrick than honors it.
In New York City in particular, the "parade" is devolving into a farcical and hateful ridicule of the faith that St. Patrick preached.
It's time to cancel the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other "Catholic" traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick's Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. Let's do adoration and pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet unceasingly for this poor old world.
But don't go to the parade; stay away from the Al Smith Dinner and all that "old school" stuff that hangs on in a darkened world. And as for St Patrick's Day, it's time to stop wearin' the green and instead take up the purple of Lent and mean it. Enough of the celebration of stupidity, frivolity, and drunkenness that St Paddy's day has become. We need penance now, not foolishness. We don't need parades and dinner with people who scoff at our teachings, insist we compromise, use us for publicity, and make money off of us. We're being played for (and are?) fools.
End the St Patrick's parade. End the Al Smith Dinner and all other such compromised events. Enough now, back to Church! Wear the purple of Lent and if there is going to be a procession, let it be Eucharistic and penitential for the sins of this age.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!
I attended the Norvus Ordo Saturday morning. I do not attend the Norvus Ordo much these days. By the grace of God, I live near an FSSP Parish. I have been able to attend the older form with greater frequency. I have not attended the Norvus Ordo on a Sunday since June. It has been rather amazing! On top of that we recently moved to Phoenix and I am teaching second grade.
Teaching second grade has taught me a lot about children. They have very little self-control, they are unable to quietly focus for long periods of time, they need a lot of movement breaks, and everything has to be explained to them simply and fully.
Self Control and Focus
The children in my class have a difficult time controlling themselves. They often know what the appropriate behavior is, however, they are simply unable to will themselves to govern their lower passions. They hit each other when they are mad, they call each other names, and if they feel like getting up and walking around the classroom, they simply do. There are those young men and women, who simply cannot pay attention for more than 60 seconds. While that may sound hyperbolic, I assure it is not. They simply cannot sit quietly and listen for any length of time. Any time that I give instruction I have to give it clearly, right down to, do not move until I tell you to move. And I have to use language that is simple and frankly a bit lower. If I do not begin with that little caveat, they will begin doing the first thing they hear me say, and they will not hear another word. The reality is that everything that we do has to be interactive. Yes, we occasionally have some quiet, independent moments, but they are few and far between.
If I try to teach didactically for to long a period of time, they fall apart. They need activity, a lot of activity. They must be kept busy. Most of their learning is done through the use of tactile methods. In other words they have to be doing something. Still, quiet listening, simply is not enough for them.
The Mass of Action
I have written numerous times about specific alterations to the Norvus Ordo that have utterly obliterated the catechetical aspect of the mass. Which to be sure is the reason for the nearly utter loss of faith in the modern world. The mass no longer conveys either through language or visible signs the theological fullness of previous iterations. I will say here as I always do, I still believe it is VALID. I have to make that qualification, because someone, will suggest that I have gone all schismatic if I do not. I simply do not believe it is sufficient.
While attending the Norvus Ordo this past Saturday morning with my wife I was given a small insight. The Norvus Ordo in it's common form, reminded me of my second grade classroom. Perhaps it is actually a mass for children. Let us begin with St. Paul:
"Of whom we have much to say and hard to be intelligibly uttered: because you are become weak to hear. For whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God: and you are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat. For every one that is a partaker of milk is UNSKILLFUL in the word of JUSTICE: for he is a little child. But strong meat is for the perfect: for them who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil." Heb. 5: 11-14
The Norvus Ordo has no standard form. Certainly there are similarities from Church to Church. Unfortuanately, there are many options. It can be done ad Populo or ad orientum. You can use latin or the vernacular. You can sing gregorian chant and the propers or any Martin Luther hymn you like. No matter what option you choose, you must be doing something. You must be speaking, or moving, or shaking hands, or serving, or greeting your neighbor, or a lector, or an "EXTRA ORDINARY MINISTER" of holy communion, or an usher, or singing, or engaged in a dialogue with the Priest. But what you may not do, is be still, small, quiet. The philosophy which underpins the Norvus Ordo is much like that of my second grade class. Keep the activity level high. When you look at it next to the older form there is no possibility that an honest person would consider the Norvus Ordo an organic growth of that specific form. May I remind you of what Pope Benedict XVI has said about organic growth:
“the various ritual families grew out of the “apostolic sees”, central places of the apostolic Tradition, and that this connection with apostolic origins is essential to what defines them. From this it follows that there can be no question of creating totally new rites.”
In other words the Latin rite grew out of the apostolic tradition of the West. It's origin is an essential component to it's proper understanding. The Latin rite has an essential nature, that defines and give it's identity. To utterly alter it would be alter the very definition of the liturgy. Having said that we should take a look at the older form.
In the older form the priest approaches the altar in fact, he longs to ascend to the altar, however, he does not. He recognizes his unworthiness as does the liturgy itself. Father does not approach me, he does not turn to me, He approaches God. He faces God and leads us to Him. Rather, than simply entering the sanctuary and kissing the altar as is done in the Norvus Ordo. It is made perfectly clear that Father is not worthy of such lofty activity. He must first cleanse his mind, his heart, and his soul, of the world.
While in the Norvus Ordo, Father, simply walks into the sanctuary, kisses the altar and then races over to look at you and I. There are no prayers at the foot of the altar. He simply approaches it as if he were utterly worthy. Often barely paying any heed to the tabernacle or the presence of God, our sovereign King. If we are lucky we will get some parish news and maybe even a joke that is actually funny about something totally irrelevant to the worship of God. We may or may not pray the Confiteor. If the confiteor is prayed, it is rare to see a priest beat his breast, much less face God and bow down. Even when the Norvus Ordo is done "reverently" There is one small problem, Father does not visibly direct either his priesthood, his prayers, or his body to God who is actually present. All of those things are directed to the faithful. For this reason Pope Benedict XVI has referred to Ad Populo as creating a "pastoral infantilism" within the priesthood. However, none of this is the case in the Older Form. From the outset the mass is ordered toward God and the elevation of the human soul to union with him.
The older form begins in utter silence unless it is a high mass. It then begins with the beautifully chanted words of sacred scripture. Music which is ordered to the raising of the heart and the mind to union with God. Words that are inspired by God, not heretics. The mass begins with man being made small and silent, so that he may be drawn in meditation and contemplation to union with God, who is fully present. And everyone gives their full attention to God, who is actually present.
IN the older form, at the foot of the altar, he says:
Judge me, o God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man. For thou O God, are my strength: why hast thou cast me off, and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me? Send forth Thy light and thy truth; they have conducted me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles. And I will go unto the altar of God; to God who giveth joy to my youth. Psalm 42
The Psalm of course goes on. This is enough for our purposes. First of all the translation of the older form is the Douay- Rheims. Which is the Latin vulgate. It is the translation given to us by St. Jerome. In other words, it has not been adjusted and watered down for the ears of children. It was translated by a Church Father. It is elevated and as such demands that the mind be sharpened in order that it may be raised up to understand it.
When the West collapses, it will do so under the weight of man's empty philosophy and an intellectual arrogance which has led to an irrational rejection of any need to repent, much less to see himself as imperfect. Dr. D. Von Hildebrand in the Tower of Babel says of modern man "The egocentric sovereignty that modern man arrogates to himself bans everything that has the character of coming from above, of imposing bonds upon us, and of calling for an adequate response." The mass is a gift, it is first and foremost a gift which we do not deserve and modern man approaches the altar of God as if it were owed to him. The Psalmist on the other hand begs God to judge him. He asks for divine aid, because in his humility he recognizes that God is sovereign, not himself.
Eliminating the prayers at the foot of the altar, has contributed in my opinion to the rise of egocentrism and arrogance. It has contributed to the loss of the sense of man's place before God. IN the Norvus Ordo, most of our time is spent gazing at each other. With any luck the tabernacle is in the center of the sanctuary. Nevertheless, it is certainly not the center of attention from the beginning to the end of mass. It is however, quite the opposite in the older form. All of man's focus is directed squarely at the altar, the crucifix, and the tabernacle. There is no mistaking the purpose of worship. It has nothing to do with personal desires or entertainment. If we lose sight of that in worship, we will lose sight of it in life. Our lives must be ordered to the tabernacle and God's real presence among us.
After praying the Judica me, father, then makes a public confession. The confiteor draws us into an interior silence at the beginning of mass. It sets the tone. It calls us to a detachment of our worldliness and an openness to the conflict we are about to face. We are sinners. Our sin brought about Christ's suffering and death, and now in the mass, we are offered the opportunity to face it like men and in humility accept the cross. The confiteor of the older form actually invokes the saints:
Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the SAINTS, and thee, Father to pray to the Lord our God for me."
After father, prays the Confiteor, the server prays it as well. Prior to ever approaching the altar, very specific physical actions are taken that are in accord with the words of prayer. Priest and server stop short of the altar. Father bows down, while the server and the faithful kneel. Their attention is at all times on God's presence in the Holy Tabernacle. The confession is to God and the entire holy court. In humility he cries out for their intercession before even approaching the holy altar of sacrifice. This bowing down is first and foremost an act of fortitude and humility. It takes heroic virtue to accuse ourselves before the heavenly court. By their act of rejecting sin the faithful and Priest convey that they understand the truth about their dignity, they are creatures endowed with the natural desire to see God, which is enlightened by the supernatural virtue of faith. A virtue derived primarily from union with Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the mass.
During the Confiteor, the penitents strike their breast. They do so because hidden beneath the flesh is the heart which is responsible for sin. The heart that is hardened by sin deserves the punishment of death, and yet Christ, desires above all to give it new life. The heart unlike Christ's sacred heart, deserves to be pierced, bruised, and crushed. However as we are told in Ezekial, God desires to take from us our stony hearts and replace them with new and clean hearts. The beating of the breast is a physical sign that we are still sinners and our hearts are in need of purification. The confiteor ends by asking:
May almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting. Amen May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution and remission of our sins. amen Thou shalt turn again, O God, and quicken us. And thy people shall rejoice in thee. Show unto us, O Lord, they mercy. And grant us Thy salvation. O Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto thee. The Lord be with you. And with Thy Spirit.
It is clear, both by the physical signs and the elevated language that the priest is the mediator "May almighty God have mercy on "YOU." He is praying for you and I, much like Moses and the levitcal priesthood mediated the prayers and sacrifice for the Israelites. He is not looking at you as he prays, all of his focus is on Christ. His body tells us that he is our leader, his words convey the same message. He is my spiritual father, not a buddy, or a comedian, not a social worker, party planner, or administrator, rather, my leader and my father. If it is not already clear before even ascending the mountain to worship, everyone, enters into a theological reality. God is present, The Catholic Priest is the covenantal mediator between God and man, and man is bent low in his sin and only God through the power of the priesthood and the holy sacrifice of the mass have the power to straighten him out.
I began with with the premise that the Norvus Ordo, may actually be the mass for children. I have only described here the approach to the altar. Over the next couple of weeks we will examine other parts of the two forms both practically and spiritually. In order that we might see that there is a vast chasm between the two. Perhaps the older form will inform the Norvus Ordo. I do not know. What I do know is that Pope Benedict the XVI was right, Ad populo and the Norvus Ordo, has done more than create a pastoral infantilism, it has created an infantilism of the faithful. They have become "weak" and "hard to hear." "Partakers of milk" who have grown accustom to mass as a spectator sport or some form of entertainment. This infantilism has led to a lack of prayer, which leads to a lack of supernatural faith, which leads to a dead soul. We can debate whether or not it is prudent for a priest to implement a restoration of the sacred liturgy or to do nothing. I am of the opinion, that when we know something is true, we are obligated to act on that truth in charity. That is actually an act of faith. Trusting obedience to God is the way of those who eat "strong meat." It is called courage. Let us pray that we may have the courage to cease referring to every lack of courage as prudence. It is dishonest.
Pray for true reform. The Norvus Ordo, while valid, may not be sufficient for nurturing the supernatural virtue of faith.
Recently, I was compelled by my patron St. Thomas Aquinas to discuss the four effects of supernatural faith. You can view the first two parts of this tome in, Part IPart II. To quickly bring you up to speed. The theological virtue of faith is a gift of sanctifying grace given through the sacraments and the assent of the mind and the will to those things that God has revealed for salvation. One may not reject a single dogma of the divinely instituted bride of Christ, the Catholic Church, and be imbued with the theological virtue of faith. It is an impossibility. The first three effects of maintaining the theological virtue of faith are, in order, according to the good Doctor, it unites the soul to God, eternal life is begun in the soul, and the third is that our present life is rightly ordered.
Take a moment to think about what that means. These effects are not isolated one from the other, rather, they are intimately bound up in each other. The soul that has said yes to His offer of revelation through obedience, is united to God. A soul with the theological virtue of faith recognizes that those things that God has revealed through His bride, have been revealed so that you might be united to God in love, so that, upon death, union with Him, will naturally lead to eternal union with Him. In other words, the Holy Spirit, unites you to the Holy Trinity right now, to the extent that you participate in God's revelation (Dogma, prayer, sacraments, virtuous life) and you remain in a state of sanctifying grace (in intimate friendship with God). As long as we persevere, we will be united to him upon death (and we are going to die), which should make the final judgement a bit less anxiety ridden and should lead to eternal life with God in Christ. This is what Christ meant when He said "Peace I give you, My peace I leave you, not as the world gives." As a result, of our awareness of these two effects, our entire life is then radically ordered to serve this truth. There ought to be, and it is clearly seen in the lives of those with the theological virtue of faith, a radical shift in the manner in which a person lives their life. No more pawing at contingent things as if they were the source of your salvation, rather, a detachment from them. WE love contingent things because they are true and good and beautiful, but, we are willing to let them go because they not ours to keep. They belong to God and we will not be taking them with us. It is, in effect a life set apart from the radical attachments to heresy and paganism that dominate the current landscape.
The Fourth Effect of Faith
In order to maintain a rightly ordered manner of living, we have to overcome temptation. The fourth effect of faith is that by faith, we are able to overcome temptation. Every temptation is a result of our lower passions and our failure to properly "know ourselves," the world, or from the devil.
Our lower passions or desires must be tempered by wisdom and virtue. Rightly, ordered faith helps us to grow in virtue. Wisdom is God. Faith in the things that God has revealed is faith in His wisdom. It is literally to trust in God's wisdom, not your own. God will reveal you to you. He wants you to know that you struggle with humility or purity, or charity. You cannot right the ship if you tear the rudder from it and cast it into the sea. God is the rudder. He is wisdom, He is the light that enlightens your intellect and your will with truth, so that you may first and foremost apply that truth to your own life and actions. If we allow our desires or feelings to cover our actions, we have lost. If we continue to "empower" ourselves to do what makes us feel good. We essentially say yes to our bodies and the temptations presented by it and no to reason. Reason knows that sex outside of marriage is a utilitarian practice aimed at making an object of the human person. Reason knows that two men are naturally incompatible physically. The intellect must control the desires. It must analyze, first and foremost our own behavior in light of the truth and begin the process of saying no, to our sinful and unreasonable desires. It must say no to those feelings and desires that our body longs for which reason know is contradictory to truth. St. Thomas says of the temptations of the flesh:
"The flesh tempts us by attracting us to the swiftly passing pleasures of this present life. But faith shows us that , if we cling to these things inordinately, we shall lose eternal joy."
Quoting St. Paul, he reminds us that "in all things taking the shield of faith."
Our temptation to worldly things is similar. Either, we are attached to it in prosperity or filled with the fear of adversity. The first, is seen in the popularity of the prosperity gospel. The message is those with faith will "flourish" or "prosper." What if I do not have a mansion and a six figure salary? Am I without faith? What about the friends of the paralytic? The gospel seems to echo a contrary sentiment to that of Mr. Olsteen and his proteges. It was the rich man who rejected Christ's offer to peace and joy in eternal life through union with His body. It was Christ who said "It is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to attain heaven." This is the perversion of heretics for profit. Mr. Olsteen's message sounds good to those with itching ears. To those who love this world. It is however, not a separate message from the latter. Those who prefer the heretical message of Mr. Olsteen, clearly fear the cross. They hate suffering and can see no use for it. They reject the notion that it is meritorious. Essentially, rejecting the merit of Christ's own suffering. You cannot claim to be "in Christ" and reject the things that he did. I will take the resurrection but not the crucifixion. The resurrection does not come without the crucifixion.
This is where many of our contemporaries come to despise us. We recognize that there is a fundamental statement made on the cross. True Christianity though the fulfillment of God's revelation and the means to the restoration of harmony in the world and among men will find itself at odds with the world. There will always be conflict and confrontation. For if Christianity is true, then it is impossible for you or I or anyone, who believes this truth to simply "keep it positive." Faith compels us to confront error and to seek to right it wherever we may find it. St. Thomas reminds us that:
"Faith overcomes this in that we believe in a life to come better than this one, and hence we despise the riches of this world and we are not terrified in the face of adversity."
In other words, the cross, which was the ultimate adversity is not something that we fear or abhor. Rather, it is the consistent choice of the truly Christian life, to embrace and even draw near to it. "He who wishes to come after me, must lay down his life and pick up his cross and follow me."
The devil may or may not work in the previously mentioned temptations. Some of those temptations are simply are own weakness. The Devil's aid is not necessary. We may be willing to attach ourselves to those worldly things or unwilling to examine our conscience and grow in virtue on our own. We do not always need the aid of the devil. However, the devil revels in our disobedience. He longs for us to reject and disobey God. He hopes that we will refuse to submit our will to the will of God the Father. "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist ye, strong in faith." The devil knows that Christ is Lord, he simply does not want you or anyone else to know or believe it. The devil knows that the Catholic mass is source of salvation and the means of the most profound union with God that we can achieve in this life. He simply does not want you or anyone else to believe it. The devil knows that Jesus Christ is fully present in the Eucharist in fact it was the source of great division among the disciples in the gospel of John. What is the passage at which they all turn away from Christ? John 6: 66. Why? Because, he tells them that His flesh is the object of our faith and our and our consumption of Him is the fullest participation in that faith. Why do atheists attempt to secure the Eucharist for their black masses? Because, they know that Christ is present and they want to do what was done to him on calvary. If they do not believe it, they go to a great deal of trouble to simply set fire to a piece of bread. They believe, much like the devil believes, they simply have impenetrable hardness of heart.
If we live according to the flesh. The world itself will devour us. There is much in the world that is true and good and beautiful. But, as I am reminded daily during the last gospel, St. John the Baptist, perhaps one of the greatest evangelists of all time, was not the light, he "came to give testimony to the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light." Neither are you or I. We are contingent beings, dependent on the "true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world." Any light that radiates from your soul, is not yours, it is a result of your union in faith to Christ, who is the true light. Our vocation above all things is holiness. Holiness is a light shining in the darkness. We cannot radiate holiness, if we do not give our assent to those things that God has revealed for our salvation. Assent requires us to order our life to the light of Christ and His truth. The four effects of faith are visible in only in those who have the supernatural or theological virtue of faith. These four effects are bound up in each other. If we do not give our assent to God's revelation, we will not experience the first effect, intimate union with God. If we do not have intimate union with God, eternal life is certainly not be initiated in our soul. If eternal life is not being initiated in our soul, our life is not being rightly ordered to the things of Christ for our salvation, and if our life is not ordered toward Christ, the temptations of the flesh, the world, and the devil will win the day. If the devil wins the day, Christ's light will cease to radiate from the center of your soul and your faith is dead!