Monday, October 27, 2008

The Land's Bounty: A Garden Saga

I have had gardens, off and on, for the past twelve years or so. I have always loved the idea of gardening, have read about it extensively, and have gardened off and on with varying degrees of success. But I have never been satisfied enough with my results or my level of experience to call myself a gardener. Until this year.

When we first moved to our current farm, about five years ago, there was too much "deferred maintenance" to allow much time for gardening. But three years ago I did lay out and tend a modest garden, using techniques that I gleaned from Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest. I will be doing a complete review of that very important book in an upcoming posting. Using Coleman's tools and techniques allowed me, for the first time, to keep a garden under control. For me that's important. What I've done several times in the past is plant more than I can manage, in a rather haphazard way that prevents me from tending the garden as I should. And so eventually it becomes an overgrown weed patch. The thought of even stepping foot into that chaotic mess becomes more and more daunting until I basically just give it up as a bad job. But Coleman's tools and techniques, his whole vision and approach to gardening, hold out the promise of a garden so tidy and so (relatively) easily cared for that it becomes a beautiful place that veritably beckons to you to come and spend time there. Gardening, even on a relatively large scale, is hard work, yes, but not frenzied. The garden becomes an inviting place, a relaxing place. Chaos has given way to order and beauty.

That's the theory anyway. Well, after that modest but satisfying plot a few years ago, we got caught up in some major remodeling to our house and, after a long string of miscarriages, finally received the blessing of the birth of our daughter Bridget. Gardening once again was pushed aside by more important things. Now I'd trade a lifetime of gardens for Bridget, but after tasting a morsel of success in the past I was anxious to get back to it.

This year, with the increasingly abundant help of my older children, I tried again. I got a bit of a late start, so I was not able to get a full spring crop of some family favorites, like sugar snap peas. But sometime in May I laid out the plot according to a modified Coleman scheme, amended the soil one more time with the abundant compost that we have on our place, and began to plant. Many of the seedlings for this year's garden were tended in a coldframe (click here to see my earlier posting on this). Each of the three older children got their own plot, in which they could plant whatever they wanted. Between us, we grew the following:

* Swiss Chard
* Spanish Black winter radishes
* Lettuces, varied
* Spinach
* Carrots
* Beets
* Turnips
* Rutabagas
* Sweet corn (two varieties)
* Beans: purple, yellow, green, pole
* Watermelons
* Cucumbers
* Yellow squash
* Zucchini
* Pumpkins
* Broccoli
* Leeks
* Shallots
* Green onions
* Chinese cabbage
* Red cabbage
* Kale
* Tomatoes, two kinds
* Peppers, several colors
* Potatoes, three kinds
* Parsnips
* Tatsoi

In a word, the results have been awesome. We are still harvesting all of the vegetables we consume fresh out of the garden and have put literally hundreds of pounds of turnips, beets, rutabagas, potatos, carrots, cabbage, and radishes in the root cellar. God is very good and I am blessed, after all these years, to be able to call myself a gardener.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Head's Up for Pre-Millennarians

I just finished listening to a talk by an evangelical Protestant speaker, David Pawson, about "De-Greecing the Church". There is lots there that one could discuss, both positive and negative. But he made a claim that I have encountered many times, namely, that with regard to a literal, earthly reign of Jesus Christ for a thousand years after His Second Coming there is "not a trace of any other view....." for the first four hundred years of Church history. And this is a stock claim among premillennialists; do a Google search for "millennium", "early church", and "unanimous" and see. Indeed, I used to make this claim myself.

Now there is no disputing that at least two prominent early writers--Sts. Justin and Irenaeus--are explicitly pre-millennial. But strangely, advocates for this position (like Pawson) seem to have missed a very important phrase in St. Justin's own writing on the topic. Justin himself does hold that there will be such an earthly reign of Christ, but he notes:

I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise. (Dialogue with Trypho 80; emphasis mine)
So there you have it. Pawson (and others) are just plain wrong when they hold that the premillennial position was the unanimous position in the early Church, for even St. Justin Martyr in his day knew of "many" who thought otherwise.

Pawson also alleges, somewhat indignantly, that St. Augustine single-handedly torpodoed the premillennial view and actually was instrumental in having it formally condemned at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431:

The millennium has almost disappeared. And do you know the man responsible? Augustine. In his early ministry he preached that Jesus was coming back to reign for a thousand years to reign on earth and that's what all the Church believed and preached until then; there's not a trace of any other view. . . . We've got into all these different views since Augustine . . . He persuaded a council, in the year 431, in Ephesus . . . they condemned belief in the millennium as heresy. An official council of the Church. That's why you've never heard about it in most churches.
There are a few serious difficulties with what Mr. Pawson asserts here. First, the Council of Ephesus was held in AD 431 and St. Augustine died in AD 430, so his ability to persuade the Council to condemn anything was somewhat limited. (In fact, he was invited to Ephesus but never set out, having died of old age.) Second, although it is asserted by many Protestant scholars, the Council of Ephesus did not, in fact, formally condemn premillennialism (or "chiliasm", as it is often called.) Michael Svigel, in his article The Phantom Heresy:Did the Council of Ephesus (431) Condemn Chiliasm?, has very admirably chased down the source of this assertion and proven that it is quite overstated.

Certain bishops at the Council did refer to the doctrine of chiliasm as "deliramenta, fabulosique", (not exactly a ringing endorsement) but there was nothing like a formal condemnation issued by the Council at large. Still, this represents important evidence. Already in St. Justin Martyr's day (the mid-second century AD) there were "many" Christians who did not hold to chiliasm (again, contra the oft-repeated assertion that "there's not a trace of any other view.") And the chiliastic position gave way in the Church until, by AD 431 it had been essentially rejected--if not formally, at least strenuously--by both East and West. Some people would consider this a corruption. But for those who believe that the Church is the "pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15) and in our Lord's promise to "be with you always, even unto the end of the age" (Matt 28:20), then it is more appropriately seen as the winnowing action of the Holy Spirit, guiding the Church into all truth.

It is a recurring theme in anti-Catholic apologetics that St. Augustine, the great "boogey man", single-handedly scuttled doctrine after doctrine that had been unanimously held for the four hundred years prior. I have cited (and refuted) many examples in the chapter on St. Augustine in my review of David Bercot's Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up? Frankly, the thesis is ridiculous on its face. No one who knows anything about the relations between various local churches, the oft-times fiercely independent nature of the Catholic bishops, and the difficulty at times of having the East and West agree on anything could possibly believe that one man in an African bywater could over and over shift the entire body of Christendom away from what all had held for four centuries, to embrace some completely alien theology.

In the rejection of chiliasm St. Augustine lent his not-inconsiderable influence to a position that was already widely held throughout the Catholic Church.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hey Father, Leave This Mass Alone!

Well, it has finally happened. Last Friday we assisted at our first traditional Latin Mass in which the priest introduced a blatant, purposeful liturgical abuse. Just before Mass started, he went to the pulpit to announce that, since the cathedral was built in 1962 and (supposedly) had only "standing stations" for receiving Holy Communion, we were all to stand up to receive our Lord.

I am happy to say that, in our line at least, the convinced traditionalists and even many of those Catholics who would not self-describe as traditionalists knelt anyway. In the other line most stood. The priest's illicit directive created the appearance of division and perhaps even "disobedience", whereas of course the division and disobedience emanated entirely from him.

It was unnecessary. It was senseless. But it was hardly unexpected.

Some years ago, The Latin Mass magazine had an editorial in which concern was raised over opening the Gregorian rite to those priests who lack the formation and the mindset to say it well. I think that in many ways this is a valid concern. Now I'm not one who believes that having diocesan priests (or others who regularly say the Pauline rite) also say the Gregorian rite is an inherently bad thing. (Some traditionalists go so far as to imply a sort of "ritual impurity" if a priest also says the Novus Ordo. Although I concur with many of the serious negative critiques of the new rite, I think this particular position beyond the pale.)

It remains true, however, that priests who received their whole formation in a traditionalist seminary and therefore were specifically formed to say the Gregorian rite have a very different approach to the Catholic faith, to their priesthood, and of course to the liturgy itself.

Still, there are many fine diocesan priests who cultivate a traditional outlook and bring only the best intentions and motivations to their celebration of the traditional Roman rite. Such priests would, in fact, be more than willing to be corrected in order to bring their celebration of the ancient rite more in line with its text, rubrics, and spirit. I think this is all for the good, both for them and for those they serve.

But what if the priest does not have a traditional outlook and a real desire to submit himself to the text, rubrics, and spirit of the ancient liturgy? Well, it's asking for trouble to try to get him say it. In this case, the events of this past Friday evening were entirely avoidable, for that simple reason. This priest did not want to say the traditional Latin Mass in the first place. Or, to put it more accurately, I think, he didn't want to say it if any traditionally-minded Catholics were there. It seems that for some, the traditional Latin Mass is okay in the abstract, it's just that it's connected with those creepy traditionalists (you know, those folks who have taken the slings and arrows from both liberals and neo-conservatives for these past forty years for having the gall to insist on what has now been affirmed publicly by the Holy Father, that they had all that time been unjustly deprived of the Gregorian rite of the Mass.)

Indeed, when some years ago this particular priest was in a position of significant authority in this diocese and was interviewed by the diocesan newspaper as to what the laity should do when faced with liturgical abuse in their parish, he said they should go to the priest to point out his error to him. And if the priest refuses to listen, what should they do then Father? Nothing. That was his answer. They can do nothing. Because on his watch, at least, if they brought it to his attention he wasn't going to do anything about it.

Catholics confronted with what will inevitably be an increased number of attempts to introduce liturgical abuses into the traditional Latin Mass have a golden opportunity to replay the systemic acquiescence that led to and allowed the staggering institutionalization of abuses into the liturgy in 99.8% of the world's parishes. The threshold for liturgical abuse in the traditional Latin Mass should be zero. Vote with your feet. So fool me once, shame on you Father. But fool me twice, shame on me.

Okay, the lesson for Catholics seeking greater access to the Gregorian rite in the post-moto proprio era is: If a priest doesn't want to say the Gregorian rite, don't force him. Because he'll make you pay, one way or the other.

Note: A reader rightly corrected me that no priest should be "messing around" with any rite of the Mass. Although there are many options given to the priest who says the NOM, I am of the opinion that he should not take any of them as an opportunity to assert his creativity, but rather should say the NOM as much in the spirit of the venerable Roman liturgical tradition as possible. I appreciate the correction and have retracted my original statement.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Get That Thing Outa Here!

I am fortunate in the extreme not to have to travel very much for my job. I used to travel quite a bit more and I consider myself a seasoned traveller. I do still occasionally have to spend the odd night away from home and my current job seems destined to send me to China once a year.

One aspect of travel that I struggle with is the hotel television. Oh, to be sure it's not as bad here in the U.S. as it is in, say, Sweden, where they pipe free, unrestricted hardcore porn into your room every night. It was there that I adopted a habit I have maintained ever since: every time I check into a hotel I ask them to get the TV out of the room. I had only once to say that it was "a religious conviction" and even in ultra-liberal Sweden, in excellent Old World style, the hotel staff began greeting me with, "Welcome again, Mr. Palm, the television has been removed from your room" before I had said a word. Now that's what I call service.

In the U.S. things are generally better, but far from ideal. There may be many Catholic guys out there who can easily avoid the not-quite-hardcore-but-still-awful stuff that is aired on HBO and
Cinemax. Good for you. I can't.

Men, if you have to travel it's very easy to get the hotel to remove the television. I have taken to faxing ahead, rather than springing it on the desk clerk who may be in a difficult position to respond to my demand on short notice. Rather, a few days ahead of my stay I fax the following letter. I have yet to have anything but 100% compliance with this reasonable request. Be prepared with a good answer for the curious desk clerk who asks about your request; be sure to say that you're a Catholic (not just a generic "Christian") and give a good reason. It's an excellent opportunity for a bit of evangelism. Here's a letter that you can adapt for your own use:

General Manager
Your Hotel

1234 Etc. St.
Homebody, YM 12345

Dear Sir/Maam,

I am scheduled to stay at your hotel next week, checking in on Monday, 10 December and checking out Friday, 14 December.

Due to religious convictions I would like to have the television removed from my room. Most hotels do not have difficulty complying with this request but I find that it is helpful to alert them ahead of time, to avoid any confusion or complication at check-in. If this request presents any difficulties please let me know and I can make other arrangements. Thank you very much for your assistance and I'll look forward to staying with you next week.

Best regards,


The now almost ubiquitous wireless Internet connection poses a new difficulty, but that is fodder for a future posting.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Makin' Hay While the Sun Shines

We got our first crop of hay into the barn last week. Yeah, that's really late. It has been an unseasonably cool and wet summer. In fact, you may have heard about our neck of the woods on the news, for the record-breaking flooding two years running. The Palm HQ sits up on top of Carlson Ridge, so if we ever got flooded I would expect to see an ark floating by. But besides doing a lot of damage to the unfortunate folks down in the valleys, this amount of rain has made it tough for the farmers to get into their fields. Hence the very late hay crop. Moving hay into the loft is a great cardio-vascular workout. I commented to my neighbor who helps us put our hay up that no one needs a treadmill or a membership at the gym if he actually works his farm.

We had to get the loft in our small barn fixed this year. The roof of this outbuilding had been allowed to deteriorate and water damage had undermined the beams holding up half of the loft floor. Buildings go down surprisingly fast when rain can get in through the roof. We had the roof patched as soon as we moved to the farm; we're only just now getting around to having the loft fixed. But mission accomplished, just in time to get the first hay crop put up. (An added bonus is that the kids can fire up the rope swing again.

Hay is made of plants of whatever variety (in our case a mix of grasses, alfalfa, and clover) that are cut, dried, and then stored away for future consumption by animals. It used to be that every farm that kept animals had to put up hay, but most of the larger farms have moved over to corn silage. There is an interesting potential connection between our massive flooding and the move away from hay. A friend of mine was commenting just the other day that as recently as half a century ago much farm land was kept in a mixture of hay fields and cultivated crops. The hay fields helped to hold soil and prevent very rapid water runoff, especially here in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin where farms are often positioned on some pretty steep terrain. But with the big push toward maximizing agricultural profits (especially now through the cultivation of corn, corn, corn--see below), all available farm land is increasingly tilled annually for row crops. This in turn increases soil erosion and also speeds the run-off from these lands into lower lying areas. Throw some record-breaking rainfalls into that mix and you've got the makings for the disastrous flooding we've been seeing. It's interesting how man's greed and short-sightedness really can have some pretty major unforeseen side-effects.

Hay is always important in climates where animals cannot graze year round, but this year hay is a precious commodity. Due to the ethanol-from-corn insanity that grips our nation (more on that in a future posting) hay prices have gone through the roof, while supplies have declined sharply. I am thrilled to have 480 bales of first-crop hay in my newly repaired loft. That's more than enough for my small holdings (and there's at least one more crop coming), so I'll probably end up selling some. I'll try to cut my neighbors a good deal. Gouging folks on the fundamentals of life is pretty rotten; helping them out with what they need from the bounty of my land feels a whole lot better.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Objectively Subeerior

Oh the ways of Divine Providence are mysterious indeed. Just when I swore off public controversy over the objective superiority of the Gregorian rite, the Lord makes clear that He has other plans. From my other blog, the Catholic Beer Review here is the Blessing of Beer from the Rituale Romanum:

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.


Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi, et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti; ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corpus et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R. Amen.

Et aspergatur aqua benedicta.

English translation:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

And it is sprinkled with holy water.


Now, here's the kicker. As Fr. Cory Sticha of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings Montana says,

Looking at the modern "Book of Blessings", I see that this blessing has been removed. I guess that's just proof that the Rituale Romanum is far superior. You have to love the old blessings which start, "Lord, bless this creature..." (my emphasis).

Removed, eh? So one rite contains a blessing of beer. The other one doesn't. Objective subeeriority established? I think so and I rest my case.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reflections on Controversy

I run two blogs. But it is a general policy of mine not to read too many other blogs and especially to avoid commenting much in the comboxes. They become a near occasion of sin for me, burning precious time and too frequently fomenting thoughts and attitudes that are much better left alone. (It is an absolute rule of mine never to post anonymously on a blog--that affords way too much temptation to say things that I would never ultimately want to be connected to.)

I broke that general rule the other day and was reminded again why I really must just Stay Away. The topic was liturgy, specifically the contrasts between the Gregorian rite and the Pauline rite. The fact remains that in the abstract such discussions are still valid. In principle, none of the traditionalist position has changed with respect to the nature of the liturgical reforms since Vatican II. And these discussions can still take place with some profit (I think Fr. Zuhlsdorf pulls that off pretty well.) But for that profitable exchange to take place there needs to be mutual respect between the parties involved, as well as a genuine desire on the part of both genuinely to learn and benefit from the discussion. At least in my two recent discussions, all of those features were lacking. The whole time the voice of conscience was telling me, "You really shouldn't be discussing this." I definitely should have bailed sooner than I did. Mea culpa.

I think my opponent made one good point, namely, that this is simply not the time for serious knock-down, drag-out debates about the liturgy, especially on the Internet. Our Holy Father has issued Summorum Pontificum and in its wake has come a veritable torrent of good news. Just last week the Transalpine Redemporists were reconciled with the Holy See. And there are serious movements toward a like reconciliation of the Society of Pius X. The Holy Father's courage is bearing fruit. He certainly doesn't need a knucklehead like me out there in cyberspace creating resistance to the traditional direction he's moving the Church.

A week ago my wife and I were interviewed by a reporter for a mainstream Catholic publication for an article on the motu proprio (I'll let you know if it gets published.) He asked what our reaction to Summorum Pontificum has been. Certainly our initial reaction was one of jubilation. We had prayed every day in our family Rosary for almost seven years that the traditional Roman rite would be normalized. But we were afraid each time we heard rumors of some impending action by the Pope that we would get a sort of "universal indult", yet another demand to get "permission" for that which had never been forbidden. In short, we were afraid that simple justice would be once more held in abeyance.

But in fact, we got the whole enchilada, with extra guacamole on the side and fried ice cream for dessert. It was more than we had hoped for, it was the complete vindication of the core of the traditionalist position on the traditional Latin Mass. Justice was served.

So in the face of that vindication I ask myself, why am I still out there swinging? For the most part the answer is plain old human weakness. My family was in the ecclesiastical refugee camp for seven years (and that's nothing compared to what some folks have weathered.) We've only been out for one. It just takes a while to adjust.

Monday, June 30, 2008

All Rite!, Part 2

Some reflection and some feedback on my note below concerning whether the traditional Roman liturgy (Gregorian rite) and the Novus Ordo (Pauline rite) really should be considered two separate liturgical rites has prompted me to visit the topic one more time.

A fellow going by the on-line name "Jordanes" made an excellent observation here, namely, that the language of Summorum Pontificum fundamentally answers a juridical question and not primarily a liturgical one. It establishes the legal basis on which a priest of the Roman Rite can say either rite without "permission":

The word "rite" has different shades of meaning. Juridically, the 1962 Missal and the 1970/2003 Missal are two uses of the one Roman Rite -- but in the sense that the differences between the uses are much, much more numerous than the similarities, one can distinguish them as two different rites.

The decree that they are two uses, not two separate juridical rites, is supremely important, because if they were two different rites in the eyes of the liturgical law, then priests in the Latin Rite would need an indult to celebrate according to the 1962 Missal. However, since the Pope has made clear that they are two uses within one rite, all Latin Rite priests have permission to celebrate according to either the 1962 Missal or the 1970/2003 Missal, without having to obtain an indult from their bishop. In other words, if a Latin Rite priest wants to celebrate a "Tridentine" Mass, he may do so -- he doesn't have to ask his bishop first, and he doesn't even have to wait for a group of lay Catholics to approach him and ask him. He has that legal right as a Latin Rite priest with faculties to celebrate Mass according to his own rite, the Roman Rite. (This is better than the "universal indult" that traditionalists had desired -- the Pope says Latin priests don't even need an indult, whether universal or not.)

All the same, the debate about whether or not the two juridical uses are de facto different rites remains open.

Another fellow in that same combox characterized my argument thus:

In order to maintain the opinion, he argues that various practices (read: abuses) in how the Pauline Mass is observed amount to it being a different rite (at least in those instances). Pope says no. Palm says yes. I go with the pope, because he is the head of the Catholic Church.

In a soon-coming post I will have a few words to say about my participation in that discussion (the short take is that I shouldn't have been there or done that). I think most readers will see that I did not directly contradict the Pope, as charged. And it is only fair to point out that I did not argue in my posting below that the Pauline rite is a separate rite based on abuses of it--everything I cited as examples are approved by the Vatican.

Ultimately my position is derived from the much more complete presentation and much greater expertise of Msgr. Klaus Gamber in his very important book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background (bottom line is, if you're going to engage the traditionalist position on the liturgical reform, you have to read this book: period.) Msgr. Gamber goes well beyond the common sense approach of "Hippler's Law" (Arthur would kill me for calling it that), that Different Words + Different Rubrics = Different (Liturgical) Rite. Msgr. Gamber provides a detailed definition of what a liturgical rite is and why the Gregorian rite (or, as he calls it, the ritus romanus) must be considered a different liturgical rite from the Pauline rite (ritus modernus; and for Gamber this would be true even when the Pauline rite is celebrated entirely in Latin using the more traditional options.) I strongly urge a thoughtful reading of this book by an author whom none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called, "the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the center of the Church."

Which brings us again to Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. Quite contrary to this position being flatly contrary to Summorum Pontificum, I really do think that the 1998 talk to Una Voce provides a hermeneutical key to the document. At the very least it helps us understand how and why Cardinal Hoyos, whom the Holy Father himself put in charge of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, would continue to use language that suggests that the traditional Roman liturgy really is a separate liturgical rite from the Novos Ordo. If someone really has a problem with speaking of the TLM and NOM as distinct liturgical rites then by all means take it up with Cardinal Hoyos. I just agree with him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All Rite! -- They Really Are Two Rites

Now we're cooking with gas! The liturgical counter-revolution is in full swing, with a wonderful new development popping up just this week.

I have had it in mind for a few weeks now to write a blog entry about Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum and its reference to the Novus Ordo and traditional Latin Mass as "two usages of the one Roman rite":

Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite (link).

I and many others have been in the habit of speaking of the Novus Ordo and the traditional Latin Mass as two separate rites. Some speak of the "traditional Roman Rite" or the "classical Roman Rite" or perhaps even the "Gregorian Rite" in reference to the traditional Latin Mass and, sometimes, of the "Pauline Rite" in reference to the Novus Ordo. For me this distinction flows naturally and surely from the common sense observation first verbalized by my friend Dr. Arthur Hippler, namely, that Different Words + Different Rubrics = Different Rites.

This leads me to the point I wanted to make with regard to the Holy Father's statement in Summorum Pontificum. It seems to me that if his words were taken to mean that the NOM and TLM cannot be spoken of as different rites, then Article 1 would need to be interpreted strictly. Very strictly! If one is speaking of the Novus Ordo in Latin, said ad orientem, using the traditional Roman Canon, with all male servers, Holy Communion delivered on the tongue of kneeling recipients by priests, etc. as it is at St. Agnes in St. Paul or St. John Cantius in Chicago then yes, I suppose that one can see enough correspondence in word and action between the NOM and the TLM that one can speak of them as "two usages of the one Roman rite" (I think some difficulties remain, but they are best addressed by experts who know a lot more about liturgical intricacies that I do.)

This very distinction was addressed by Cardinal Ratzinger himself:

An average Christian without specialist liturgical formation would find it difficult to distinguish between a Mass sung in Latin according to the old Missal and a sung Latin Mass according to the new Missal. However, the difference between a liturgy celebrated faithfully according to the Missal of Paul VI and the reality of a vernacular liturgy celebrated with all the freedom and creativity that are possible - that difference can be enormous! ("Ten Years of the Motu Proprio")

An "enormous" difference. So then are we really talking about the same Rite once we branch out into the New Mass said entirely in myriad vernacular translations (containing myriad theological and linguistic problems), facing the people, with one of the optional "Eucharistic prayers", taking all sorts of other options in terms of both text and rubrics, altar girls (serviettes), Holy Communion distributed into the hands of standing recipients by "extraordinary" (who's fooling whom?) Eucharistic ministers, etc.? How would we contend with the common sense Different Words + Different Rubrics = Different Rites? Well, let's just say that I'm highly skeptical that in the latter instance we really are talking about "two usages of the one Roman rite" in the sense that it is impermissible to speak of them as two separate rites. Indeed, I would say that if a sung traditional High Mass and the celebration of the Novus Ordo I just described aren't two different rites, then there's no such thing as different rites in the Church.

So in light of Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum are traditionalists wrong to continue to speak of the traditional Latin Mass as a distinct liturgical Rite? It would appear not. Earlier this week, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos gave an interview in which he spoke openly of the traditional Latin Mass as the "Gregorian Rite". He stated that:

Many of the difficulties [in the reception of Summorum Pontificum] come out because they don’t know the reality of the Gregorian Rite – this is the just [correct] name for the Extraordinary Form, because this Mass was never prevented, never (my emphasis).

Father Zuhlsdorf's blog entry on this, with his additional commentary, certainly deserves to be read. The upshot is that if the Cardinal put in charge of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum by the Holy Father can speak of the Gregorian Rite, I guess that I can too.

Ultimately (you read it here first?), I think that Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum will come to be seen as some romanita designed to prevent undue alarm in liberal circles at the promulgation of the document. But I think that, in time and as the divergence of the two rites is made more obvious by the wider celebration of the Gregorian Rite, this way of thinking will give way to the common sense acknowledgment that we really are faced with separate rites. (Well, more than two really, because the Novus Ordo is very far from being one unified rite.)

And this isn't really that big a deal. In a talk given to Una Voce on 24 October 1998 then-Cardinal Ratzinger had already spoken of the Novus Ordo and the Gregorian Rite as "two rites". But he pointed out that there is plenty of historical precidence for multiple liturgical rites coexisting within the larger umbrella of the Latin Rite:

We must now examine the other argument, which claims that the existence of the two rites can damage unity. Here a distinction must be made between the theological aspect and the practical aspect of the question. As regards what is theoretical and basic, it must be stated that several forms of the Latin rite have always existed, and were only slowly withdrawn, as a result of the coming together of the different parts of Europe. Before the Council there existed side by side with the Roman rite, the Ambrosian rite, the Mozarabic rite of Toledo, the rite of Braga, the Carthusian rite, the Carmelite rite, and best known of all, the Dominican rite, and perhaps still other rites of which I am not aware. No one was ever scandalized that the Dominicans, often present in our parishes, did not celebrate like diocesan priests but had their own rite. We did not have any doubt that their rite was as Catholic as the Roman rite, and we were proud of the richness inherent in these various traditions. Moreover, one must say this: that the freedom which the new order of Mass gives to creativity is often taken to excessive lengths. The difference between the liturgy according to the new books, how it is actually practiced and celebrated in different places, is often greater than the difference between an old Mass and a new Mass, when both these are celebrated according to the prescribed liturgical books. ("Ten Years of the Motu Proprio")

The last sentence sounds just about like what I'm saying. Indeed, it appears that in Summorum Pontificum Article 1, the Holy Father is using the phrase "Roman Rite" in the same way that he used the phrase "Latin Rite" in the paragraph above. In fact, that may be the hermeneutical key to Article 1. In the paragraph above, he speaks of "forms" of the "Latin Rite", and then of these "forms" as the Roman rite, Carthusian rite, Ambrosian rite, etc. all existing within that one Latin Rite. In Article 1 of SP, he speaks of "usages" of the "one Roman rite". But that would not preclude us, as Cardinal Hoyos has done, of speaking of the Gregorian rite, the Pauline rite, etc. within that one Roman Rite. The vocabulary is different, but the references are the same. I think I've solved my problem.

The long and short of it is this: First, I don't think that Article 1 of SP locks us into speaking of the Novus Ordo and the traditional Latin Mass as the "ordinary" and "extraordinary" forms of the Roman Rite, lest we be charged with infidelity to the Holy Father. And second, the interview by Cardinal Hoyos is one more indication that this Pope is dead serious about work for a widespread restoration of Catholic Tradition. Deo gratias!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Androgyny and Modesty

This week I took my kids to an event for a day of instruction and fun. I was both bemused and chagrined when the instructor took the question of a young boy at the back of the class and proceeded, then and throughout the rest of the day, to refer to him as "her" and "she". Why the confusion? For two reasons, at least. First, the unfortunate lad sported one of those dual-purpose names that are given in approximately equal proportion these days to baby girls and boys. And he wore his hair down around his shoulders. Indeed, in this family mom, sister, and brother were more or less interchangeable--long hair, pants, neutral colors.

I felt sorry for the kid. The first time it happened he shot an anguished-angry look at his mother, who just smiled and shrugged. I'm hoping that the incident shakes him up just enough that he goes out and gets a crew-cut this summer, but not enough that he either a) starts to question his gender or b) decides to ditch all the hair and becomes some sort of angry skinhead.

I couldn't help but reflect on the contrast with my own children, especially my oldest daughter who was with me. Out of at least fifty girls and women at this event, my daughter was the only one not wearing pants/shorts. She was stylish, cute, modest (there's no need for modest to be synonymous with frumpy and ugly), but unmistakably feminine. In fact, she got several compliments on her outfit from the other girls.

Pretending that gender doesn't matter is one of the more laughable neuroses of our modern "culture" (gotta put that word in quotes, because it's not really much of a culture.) But it's not really a laughing matter because an enormous amount of social decline can be traced directly to gender confusion. But of course everyday experience and simple common sense tell us in innumerable ways that gender distinctions are hard coded into our genetics and into our souls. And the connection between body and soul has one of its most obvious expressions in the way we dress. Traditionalists have been in the vanguard on this, emphasizing lost virtues such as modesty and maintaining gender distinctions in dress in the face of an increasingly vulgar, sexualized, and androgynous society (although a lack of charity and prudence when discussing these points with others can easily degenerate into rash judgment; we're all feeling our way forward on these issues and we need to cut each other some slack as we sort things out.)

I don't think we need to dress like the Amish (to the contrary, as I said I do not think modest and feminine need equate to plain and frumpy) but I do find it very encouraging to see a trend in both traditionalist and neo-conservative circles which takes modest and gender-distinct dress seriously. To rebuild a culture requires a serious eye toward living a counter-culture.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Resurrecting the Rite

Almost exactly one year ago my family drove down to St. Louis to witness an historic event, the ordination of two priests for the Institute of Christ the King in the classical Roman Rite by Archbishop Raymond Burke. It was historic because it was the first time since Vatican II, as far as I know, that priests had been ordained in the traditional Rite by the ordinary of a major metropolitan See in his own cathedral. This ordination occurred about a month before Summorum Pontificum was promulgated, so it was all the more in the groundbreaking category.

Archbishop Burke has been a major supporter of the traditional Latin Mass since his start as "just" Bishop Burke in my diocese, La Crosse, WI. When asked by one of the faithful here why he was so supportive of the traditional Latin Mass he replied, "Because it's the Mass that made the saints."

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is extremely beautiful and was a most fitting place for this incredible event. The place was absolutely full, which had to mean well over a thousand people in attendance. The entire ceremony ran over four hours and I was extremely proud of my two older children (they were 12 and 9 at the time), who not only wanted to attend this historic event but sat through it attentively and without complaint.

Interestingly, the event was covered by St. Louis Magazine and the author happened to interview my wife Lorene, who was then quoted in the piece. The resulting article, "Resurrecting the Rite", was really quite good for a piece in a secular journal. The on-line version unfortunately lacks the beautiful pictures that accompanied the print version, but there is a gallery of great photos on the site of the Institute of Christ the King. The author was plainly sympathetic to the Latin Mass. She found my wife in the vestibule during the ceremony:

Out in the cathedral vestibule, a mother rocks an infant too young to find solace in these phrases. Lorene Palm has come all the way from rural Wisconsin with her husband and children. Why, I ask, thinking of that road trip on a weekday with kids in the back seat. “Because we love the institute,” she says. “They have provided the Latin Mass for us, and it is the joy of our life.” Tears well up. “When the world is crazy, and you don’t know what is going to happen from day to day, you have someplace that is ordered and peaceful,” she says, her voice cracking, “and you know that God is there, and you can be with Him.”

Another young woman was also quoted favorably (I love the way she deftly turned the charge of ignorance of Latin back onto the naysayer......Come on, Father, even a kid can learn this....):

“Young people are starved for this,” says Keri Frasca, who went to her first Latin Mass at 28. “I had been raised Catholic, but I really wasn’t practicing my faith. I went to the Latin Mass and—it was sublime. So beautiful, so supernatural. I had made a lot of mistakes in my early twenties. I thought this would give me self-discipline, inner peace, a higher purpose—a way to live beyond this world, with all its disappointments.

“I’ve heard the same words every Sunday for seven years, and I never tire of them,” she continues. “It touches a place inside you that nothing earthly can. I think when you have the Mass in the vernacular with the priest facing the people, it becomes more about the people than it does the real presence of God. It allows greater variation, more abuses. Some of the hymns are just so—I hate to use the word, but banal. There are a lot more distractions; there’s a greater immodesty in dress. Talking out loud. Communion in the hands.”

What about one St. Louis priest’s objection, that “most priests in the United States have not studied Latin, and it’s awfully close to blasphemy to presume to offer a Mass in a language in which you don’t understand a word”?

“We all have English-Latin missals,” Frasca points out serenely. “And when you see tiny little altar boys who are able to follow and understand, it’s quite humbling.
It is more than telling that the traditionalist Catholic was said to answer "serenely", while the feminist who was interviewed for the article "snaps" her reply:

Others see the shift as more political than psychological. “It’s a power thing,” snaps a devout Catholic with a graduate degree in theology and strong feminist sensibilities. “Only the boys who know the language know what’s going on. They’re saying the words; if you can’t answer, so what? They’re battening down the hatches.” She takes a deep breath. “Yes, the mystique of Latin takes people to another world. But it’s a world that doesn’t exist.”

[Mark Shea notes in a recent article that in the secular media dissenting Catholics, no matter how totally they reject and even revile the Church's teachings, are always "devout".]

The article restates a few common myths about Vatican II, such as that it authorized the celebration of the Mass entirely in the vernacular and authorized the priest to say Mass facing the people. And of course there's the obligatory quip that current interest in the classic Roman Rite is all just a bunch of naive nostalgia:

Now the Vatican II Mass was the universal Mass—“and that hardened the positions on both sides,” the scholar says. “The Latin Mass became the symbol of resistance to many of the other changes of Vatican II. And today, conservative Catholic families are seeing in the Latin Mass a way to protect their children from the dangers of the world. The desire is to be commended. The means, I think, is foolish. I think the archbishop is pursuing a chimera, a figment.

“I also worry that this will just further encourage the younger seminarians who are increasingly conservative, almost cultic,” he adds. “Psychologically, that is a most interesting development. There has been so much upheaval. People can take only so much of that, and then they seek solace in something they have heard was an established, definite, beautiful certainty. The bells of St. Mary’s.”
There is one quote from someone less than fully sympathetic that warrants a little bit of thought. It's a topic that I'd like to address in a future posting, that of "noble simplicity":

“What we used to talk about—but it’s a hard thing to teach—was ‘worship in noble simplicity,’” he continues. “The trouble is, instead of noble simplicity we got casual simplicity. Now those moving toward the Latin Mass are saying worship has to be truly noble. And they have lost the simplicity.”
He is, of course, referring back to Sacrosanctum Concilium 34 which says that:

The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.
Hmmmm. That statement has engendered a great deal of mischief. One is tempted to reply, for example, that there is no "useless" repetition in the classical Roman Rite. [Indeed, one is further tempted to point to the two-fold repetition of the Kyrie-Christe Eleison in the Novus Ordo as truly useless, whereas the three-fold set of three invocations in the traditional Rite is obviously Trinitarian and therefore very useful.] And while the texts of the classical Roman Rite are indeed already "within the people's powers of comprehension" (there is, after all, even a comicbook-format introduction called Know Your Mass especially for kids), it escapes me exactly why the Church's most sublime treasure, her sacred liturgy, "should not require much explanation". I recall a passage from the memoirs of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in which he speaks of delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the traditional Roman Rite as if peeling layers from an onion, with always one more layer of depth to plumb. Surely dumbing all of that down so that it "should not require much explanation" isn't necessarily a good idea. But then again, such dumbing down is probably not what the majority of Council Fathers had in mind anyway. So this topic really requires a bit more thought. I'd be interested to know, for example, what the very traditionally-minded Council Fathers thought they were approving when they read about this call for "noble simplicity". I'd value your ideas and observations in the comment box.

Anyway, back to the St. Louis Magazine piece. It is obvious that the author was very sympathetic to and even moved by what she saw and heard that Saturday afternoon and I commend her for writing a very fine article on the topic.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cold Frames: A Welcome Head Start

We've broken out of the long winter and extraordinarily cool spring here in southwestern Wisconsin. But I'm telling you, it's still remarkably cool around here for this time of year (global warming meets the new Ice Age?) It has been a great year to have a cold frame or two, to get a jump start on the garden.

I have not made as extensive use of my cold frames as I would like, but this year I did sock in a planting of salad greens early this spring and we are loving those right now.

Cold frames are easy to make. I make the tops of mine out of old patio doors, not window sashes. Lots of people use old windows, which are certainly in greater supply than the patio doors with blown seals that I hawk out at the town dump. But I have had a couple of windows shatter in the garden (both from maurauding goats and from my own carelessness) and it is no fun at all to pick all those tiny shards glass out of your soil. Patio doors are made from very heavy tempered glass, so they are much more sturdy.

The frame itself is just made from regular untreated 2 x 10s. A tip I got from market gardener and author Eliot Coleman is to tack a 2 x 2 strip around the whole bottom of the frame. This is what sits in contact with the soil and when it rots away you can just replace that strip, without messing up the whole frame (you don't really want the nasty chemicals that they use in pressure treated lumber in contact with your garden soil, so use untreated wood for a cold frame.)

Once you have a nice stand of salad greens that no longer need protection from the cold, you can move the cold frame to another spot on the garden and use it to start your warm weather plants like tomatos, peppers, etc. Yes, I'm running a little late this year, but I think I still have time for these late starts to bear in late summer and I'm just too cheap to buy plants from a greenhouse. Obviously I need to leave the cold frame open during the sunny days now, or the poor plants would cook. But I close it up on very cloudy days and at night and its 7 - 10 degree overnight temperature boost is welcome in such a cool year.

Later this summer I will start a batch of salad greens in one cold frame and a batch of carrots in another to extend our fresh eating well into the early winter.

Let Every Knee Bend

Several friends sent me notices about wonderful news concerning the recent Mass at which the Holy Father distributed Holy Communion exclusively to recipients who knelt and received on the tongue (the photo at right is the First Holy Communion at our own Latin Mass apostolate this past Sunday):

They knew I would be interested in this development not just in a general way, as yet another move by the Holy Father to restore liturgical sanity to the Roman Rite, but because late last year my wife and I were refused Holy Communion for kneeling. (Letters to our bishop asking for some redress have gone unanswered.)

A number of Catholics who saw what happened to us and were very sympathetic were nonetheless confused as to the status of kneeling for Holy Communion at a Novus Ordo Mass (NOM). Certainly, if you're the only one out of a crowd of people who kneels down to receive our Lord it does appear as if you're doing something strange, if not downright disobedient.

So let's get a few things straight. First, the norm of the Roman Rite, in both the NOM and the traditional Latin Mass (TLM), is to receive Holy Communion kneeling, on the tongue. The bishops of the United States had to obtain an indult to allow communicants to stand, an indult being a departure from the norm. What they didn't make public, but what has now been revealed, is that this indult was granted on the condition that no communicant be denied Communion for continuing to kneel:

Another fundamental right of the faithful, as noted in canon 213, is "the right to receive assistance by the sacred Pastors from the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments". In view of the law that "sacred" ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them" (canon 843 ß 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy ommunion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person's unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared. Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds. (Congregation de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Prot. n. 1322/02/L; my emphasis.)

Second, no Catholic is obligated to obey an order that runs contrary to the law of the Church. Therefore, not only is there nothing "disobedient" about kneeling to receive our Lord, there is also nothing "disobedient" if one is ordered to stand up and he refuses. The notion that a Catholic is obligated to obey an unlawful order from a priest represents a real distortion of Catholic obedience.

And third, these kind of incidents highlight why more and more Catholics are quite rightly saying "no thanks" to the NOM and its institutionalized abuses. Recently a local priest expressed his concern in our diocesan paper that Catholics who regularly attend the TLM sometimes refrain from receiving Holy Communion when they attend the NOM. He surmised that it may be because they doubt the validity of the NOM and perhaps in a few cases that's true, although I think that's a rare position. I think it's more likely that they just don't care to be marginalized and possibly publicly ridiculed because their conscience tells them to follow the immemorial custom of the Church and receive kneeling. (To be fair, though, my wife and I have received on our knees from numerous priests and even bishops at Novus Ordo Masses and only the one time did we have any problem.)

To close out I wanted to share the very moving story behind why my friend Michael Forrest always receives our Lord kneeling. The original article sparked a lively discussion/debate with Leon Suprenant, the president of Catholics United for the Faith, which became a model of how Catholics can have a serious disagreement over a critical issue and yet comport themselves as Christian gentlemen:

And here's another good article from the New Oxford Review on the appropriateness of kneeling at the liturgy: At the Name of Jesus, Every Knee Shall Remain Unbent?

I will have more to say about kneeling before our Lord and the new movement against Communion in the hand in future postings. For now, let's just say that this is the worst possible time to shy away from taking a stand (or, in this case, kneeling down) in support of Holy Tradition. The tide is turning.

Friday, May 9, 2008


We have recently celebrated Rogationtide at the PalmHQ. Fr. Glenn Gardner of the Institute of Christ the King joined us for (or, I should say more accurately, supplied us with) a wonderful feast. After dinner we moved outside to process around our property, chanting the Litany of the Saints while Father blessed our land with holy water. It was a wonderful evening and one more step toward reestablishing traditional Catholic culture in our family.

Not so coincidentally for this time of year there is a great article entitled "Rogationtide" by Dr. Michael P. Foley in the Spring 2008 issue of The Latin Mass magazine (all quotations below are from Dr. Foley's article unless noted otherwise). Dr. Foley starts with a basic introduction to the celebration, which is now almost completely unknown to Catholics:

What are Rogations? They are times in which Entreaties for safety, salvation, and a good harvest are made through a litany to God and the saints. The prayers' plaintive aspect gives these days their name: 'rogation' is from the Latin rogare, to petition earnestly.

The Rogation Days used to be a prescribed annual observance in the Roman Rite. Certainly, at a bare minimum they represent one of many perennial traditions that were set aside with, perhaps, not nearly enough forethought. As Dr. Foley notes, they in fact occupy a unique part of the Church's life of prayer.

[T]he Rogation Days ground us in more than our Catholic heritage. The Major and Lesser Litanies are the only prescribed days in the calendar that are explicitly agricultural and that explicitly concern the all-too-real dangers of natural disasters. While the Ember Days (which we will visit in a future article) commemorate nature from the perspective of its four seasons, Rogationtide commemorates nature in relation to man and the city, from his tilling of the soil to his collective aversion of meteorological and seismic calamities. This not only invites a deeper meditation on our stewardship of the earth, it adds a communal dimension to Rogationtide’s acknowledgement of nature as both a source of bounty and potential harm. As one introduction puts it, "the processions are a reminder to feeble man to turn with humility and confidence to the Giver of all good."
For me, recalling the days in which these special prayers were solemnly enacted in self-consciously Catholic countries evokes a yearning to live in such a distinctively Catholic culture. They embody the wonderful earthiness and hominess of Catholicism, a feature seriously lacking in the evangelical Protestantism of my youth. As Dr. Foley says of these Rogationtide celebrations of yore: "The Rogation Days’ roots in the agrarian led to a number of memorable rural customs. In England processions would wind their way through field and fen and stop at various stations in order for the priest to read a Gospel and for the laity to fortify themselves with ale and victuals." Ale and victuals while on procession? Sign me up!

Alas, this is not a Catholic country, although I contend that one should never say never about that possibility some day. But Dr. Foley describes a moving example of the faith of our American forebears and their trust in Divine Providence in the face even of natural disasters:

In America the Church probably never hosted such colorful Rogation spectacles, but it does have one story worth telling. In 1876, millions of Rocky Mountain grasshoppers descended upon Minnesota, destroying this years’ crops and laying eggs that would destroy next year’s as well. Minnesota’s governor declared April 26th of the following year a day of prayer and fasting. The Catholic folk of Cold Spring (near Saint Cloud) added a vow of their own: if the Blessed Virgin Mary “would rid them of the grasshoppers, they would build a chapel and offer prayers to her for the next fifteen years.” When April 26th arrived, all businesses, theaters, stores and bars were closed. Churches were filled. Midnight approached, the sky clouded over, and a cold rain began. The wind shifted from the south to the north and the rain turned to heavy snow. The storm raged throughout the following day. The next day, farmers hurried to their fields and found that the vast majority of grasshoppers had been frozen just as they were hatching.

True to their word, the people of Cold Spring built Assumption Chapel (a.k.a. Grasshopper Chapel) on a high hill. And every Rogationtide, they would process up to the chapel in gratitude for Our Lady’s protection, up to the front doors and under the archway depicting grasshoppers bowing down to her.

Dr. Foley notes that after Vatican II " Rogation Days were removed from the universal calendar in 1969, but they were not supressed." This was followed by a directive from the Congregation for Divine Worship in which the content of the now-optional Rogation celebration was made entirely free-form: ". . . the celebrations may be varied, e.g. for rural or for urban settings, and may relate to different themes, like the harvest, peace, the unity of the Church, the spread of the faith" (Notitiae 5 (1969) 405). But as with the venerable custom of abstinence from eating meat on Friday, once the practice was made optional and a free-form observance urged in its place, most Catholics basically said, "Never mind" and dropped observance completely. Dr. Foley has some important insights on just what the Church lost:

On average, however, contemporary Catholics are ignorant of the Rogation Days, leading us to conclude that something good was lost, and at one of the worst possible times. We live in an age marked by an unprecedented disconnect from the land and by a growing anxiety over it. On the one hand, we fret over the barbaric or hazardous treatment of livestock, commercial pesticides, genetically modified foods, the demise of the family farm, and the rise of food cartels . . . and we call for agrarian reform, farm subsidies, the fair treatment of migrant workers, and more organic foods. On the other hand, at no point in American history have so many of us lived away from the farm: we buy our products in supermarket cellophane and never think it odd that we can eat watermelons in January.

Obligatory traditional Rogation Days are the religious antidote to this schizophrenia. They call all believers, be they city slickers or country bumpkins, to recognize at the same time and in a shared way our common dependency on the land and on God’s mercy for putting food on the table. They ask us to pray for farms and fields and in doing so remind us that there are farms and fields that need praying for. They reconnect us with the soil, which even reconnects us to the bounds of our neighborhood, our parish, and each other. They remind us of earth’s fragility as well as its awesome power.
Now it is to be hoped that with the normalization of the traditional Latin Mass and ever-greater numbers of Catholic living their lives according to the traditional Roman rites and calendar we will see a resurgence of the celebration of the Rogation Days. And since I'm just crazy enough to think that we might just get what we pray for, let us hope that God will continue to bless our land with abundance of food, yes, but all the more that He will give to Holy Church a great harvest of souls who embrace the fullness of the Faith. Let's be increasingly public about our celebrations of the traditional Faith. Invite your friends, even your non-Catholic ones, to a Rogationtide procession and feast. These are great evangelistic opportunities. I am convinced that recapturing our lost Catholic traditions is one of the best ways to pass on our faith to our children, to enrich the faith of those Catholics impoverished by the liturgical revolution, and to reach out to those who do not yet hold the Catholic faith at all. Pope Pius XI captures the Church's perennial wisdom:

For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year - in fact, forever. The church's teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man's nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God's teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life. (Quas Primas §21)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Talks from Una Voce 2004

Here are three other talks from the 2004 Una Voce conference in Cedar Rapids, IA. It was extremely cool to have a priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) alongside of a priest from the Institute of Christ the King (ICRSS) at the conference. It was a good opportunity for a little "cross pollination" between the two groups, both of which are doing excellent work.

Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP gave two talks:

In Tradition and Liturgy, Fr. Ripperger shows how the traditional Latin Mass is a fundamental witness to the fullness of the Catholic Tradition, what he calls a "monument" of our faith on the order of the most authoritative Creeds, papal definitions, and conciliar decrees.

In The Dangers of Modern Psychology, Fr. Ripperger highlights the essentially secular and un-Christian (and sometimes overtly anti-Christian) nature of the approach taken in much modern psychology.

Fr. Richard von Menschengen, ICRSS also gave two talks, but unfortunately I only captured one on tape:

Liturgy and Personality, a look at the thought of Dietrich von Hildebrand on this topic. Unfortunately, for some reason, I'm not able to upload this MP3 to my web site. I will complete this link as soon as it's available.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Traditional Latin Mass and the Family

Here are two talks I gave in 2004 at an Una Voce conference in Cedar Rapids, IA. The first is a short account of my conversion to the Catholic Faith, along with a brief explanation of my move to a more traditional outlook.

The second is a more detailed apologia for the primacy of the traditional Latin Mass as the center of a Catholic family's worship and devotion, as well as the essential element in the reform and renewal of the Church:

Surprised by Tradition (mp3)

The Latin Mass and the Family (mp3)

In the second talk I reference several issues and articles. For example, I think every Catholic should read the very incisive article by Father James McLucas, The Emasculation of the Priesthood, in which Fr. McLucas notes that many practices used to be the exclusive domain of the priest but have recently been permitted to others. This, he argues, harms the masculine identity of the priest and has led to disastrous results.

My quotation from Alice von Hildebrand comes from an interview with her entitled Present at the Demolition: A Philosopher Remembers and Reminds.

Msgr. Klaus Gamber's book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Backgrounds is happily back in print from Roman Catholic Books. This book was the single most influential in my own decision to have my family, as much as possible, assist exclusively at the traditional Latin Mass. You can read some powerful excerpts from the book here.

And one of the best articles on the topic of women and girls covering their heads at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Jacob Michael's Still Binding? The Veiling of Women and Meatless Fridays. It continues to amaze me that this practice of veiling, which harkens all the way back to the Apostles, was continuously practiced from East to West in every communion that can trace its origins to the Apostles, was explicitly ordered by the 1917 Code of Canon Law, and was never even mentioned (let alone explicitly revoked) in Vatican II, should have been so rapidly and universally set aside. I have absolutely no doubt that most Catholic woman after Vatican II ceased to wear head coverings out of ignorance and simply to go with the flow. But the fact is that it was a senseless (and illicit) disregard of a beautiful practice that is reflective of theological principles that will never change.

And here's an article about the conference in the secular Cedar Rapids Gazette: Gimme That Old-Time Religion.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

St. Paul Teaches Sola Scriptura? Nope.

The verses most commonly advanced in support of the doctrine of sola Scriptura—that the Bible alone should be our standard for matters of Christian faith and practice—are 2 Tim 3:16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” There are many reasons why these verses manifestly do not support such a sweeping claim.

We see immediately that for St. Paul to say that Scripture is “profitable” for correction, teaching, etc. falls far short of saying that is the sole source of these things. And for him to say that Scripture renders a man “adequate” is not to say that it is the sole source of God’s revelation. Some English translations render this word, which the NASB translates “adequate” (artios in Greek), as “perfect.” So some non-Catholic apologists argue that if the Scriptures can render a man perfect, he obviously doesn’t need the Church, Tradition, or anything else. But, besides being an overtranslation of the Greek word artios,[1] this line of reasoning is not applied consistently to Scripture by these same individuals. For example, St. Paul says in Eph 4:11-15:

"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ." [my emphasis]

There is no mention at all of Scripture and yet notice St. Paul’s language: “all attain to the unity of the faith,” “to a mature man,” “to the fulness of Christ,” “we are to grow up in all aspects.” Yet no non-Catholic apologist has ever argued that apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers are sufficient and that therefore Scripture is not necessary.[2] Similarly, St. James says to, “let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:4) and yet no proponent of sola Scriptura will argue that endurance or perseverance is all that is necessary for the Christian life and that therefore we don’t need the Bible. Clearly 2 Tim 3:16‑17 is being made to bear a burden that St. Paul never intended for it, if it is pressed to “prove” sola Scriptura.

Finally, while 2 Tim 3:16-17 teaches that the Scriptures will equip a man for “every good work,” this is a far cry from saying that the Scriptures contain all revealed truth from God and are the sole authority for faith. The Golden Rule—“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”—could be said to “equip a man for every good work,” since Jesus says that “this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12). But no one would argue from this that we can dispense with the rest of the Bible.

2 Tim 3:16-17 are by far the strongest verses advanced in support of sola Scriptura. But this passage simply does not teach what proponents of this doctrine wish to make it teach. The fact is that Scripture nowhere claims what the Protestant “reformers” claimed for it, namely that it is our sole authority in matters of faith and morals. The doctrine of sola Scriptura itself is an unbiblical tradition of men.


[1] None of the standard Greek-English lexicons list “perfect” as a possible translation of artios.

[2] These categories of people represent the leadership of the Church both past and present. If one used the same logic as employed by proponents of sola Scriptura we could use these verses to argue for sola Ecclesia, the Church alone as our authoritative guide. But Catholic theology does not pit the Bible against the Church, nor the Church against the Bible. Both have a crucial place in God’s economy of salvation.