Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy feast of St Thomas!


"To reject any article of the faith is to reject the faith itself. This is like pulling one stone out of an arch; it is like putting one hole in the hull of a ship. The whole arch tumbles down; the whole ship sinks. A man who has the faith, accepts God's word. Now, God's word has set up the Church as man's infallible teacher and guide. If a man, therefore, rejects one article of the faith, and says that he believes all the other articles, he believes these by his own choice and opinion, not by faith. Rejecting one article of the faith, he rejects the whole authority of the Church, and he rejects the authority of God who has set up and authorized the Church to teach truth. Hence, it is entirely incorrect to say that am man may have lifeless or formless faith in some article of the Creed while he rejects others; such a man has not the faith at all, living or lifeless." Thomas Aquinas, Summa IIa IIae Q5

Sorry, I lost the source of the above quote, which is based on the Summa, as opposed to IN the Summa.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From "Bad Vestments" blog

I fount this image at the site "Bad Vestments" which is so like a train wreck where you don't want to see the carnage but can't help but look.

anyway, this had me in stitches...

Bad Vestments post can be found here

Link between liturgical and sexual abuse?

Anita (V-for Victory) found an article which we’d read a few years ago and lost the link to, and so I’m posting the link again so that I won’t loose it.

In this article, the author, Fr. Farfaglia, makes the provocative suggestion that sexual impurity is perhaps at the heart of liturgical abuse. Following is the section of the article; I suggest you read the whole thing at Renew America.

Another cause of the present state of emergency with regard to the liturgy could be the underlying cause of the entire mess we're in. Having taught the Catechism of the Catholic Church to a large number of parishioners, I have found the following insight of the Catechism to be quite amazing. When discussing the Ninth Commandment, the Catechism states:

'The sixth beatitude proclaims, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' Pure in heart refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God's holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity; chastity or sexual rectitude; love of the truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith' (#2518).

It is interesting to note, based upon a lifetime of observation, that those priests who habitually carry on with women, or those active homosexual priests who carry on with their proclivities, are guilty of the most obtrusive and bizarre liturgical abuses. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith.

Fr James Farfaglia, “State of Emergency, The Present Situation of the Catholic Liturgy in America, in Renew America, 2007 (link)

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire?

Additionally, at Chiesa Online, Sandro Magister recently quoted from Cardinal Biffi’s book, Memories of an Italian Cardinal. He has an interesting thing to say on The Ideology of Homosexuality:

Regarding the problem of homosexuality that is emerging today, the Christian conception tells us that one must always distinguish the respect due to persons, which involves rejecting any marginalization of them in society and politics (except for the unalterable nature of marriage and the family), from the rejection of any exalted "ideology of homosexuality," which is obligatory.

The word of God, as we know it in a page of the letter to the Romans by the apostle Paul, offers us on the contrary a theological interpretation of the rampant cultural aberration in this matter: such an aberration – the sacred text affirms – is at the same time the proof and the result of the exclusion of God from the collective attention and from social life, and of the refusal to give him the glory that he is due (cf. Romans 1:21).

The exclusion of the Creator determines a universal derailing of reason: "They became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:21-22). The result of this intellectual blindness was a fall, in both theory and practice, into the most complete dissoluteness: "Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies" (Romans 1:24).

And to prevent any misunderstanding and any accommodating interpretation, the apostle proceeds with a startling analysis, formulated in perfectly explicit terms:

"Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper" (Romans 1:26-28).

Finally, Paul takes pains to observe that the greatest abjection takes place when "the authors of these things . . . not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (cf. Romans 1:32).

It is a page of the inspired book, which no earthly authority can force us to censor. Nor are we permitted, if we want to be faithful to the word of God, the pusillanimity of passing over it in silence out of concern not to appear "politically incorrect."

We must on the contrary point out the singular interest for our days of this teaching of Revelation: what St. Paul revealed as taking place in the Greco-Roman world is shown to correspond prophetically to what has taken place in Western culture in these last centuries. The exclusion of the Creator – to the point of proclaiming grotesquely, a few decades ago, the "death of God" – has had the result (almost like an intrinsic punishment) of the spread of an aberrant view of sexuality, unknown (in its arrogance) to previous eras.

The ideology of homosexuality – as often happens to ideologies when they become aggressive and end up being politically triumphant – becomes a threat to our legitimate autonomy of thought: those who do not share it risk condemnation to a kind of cultural and social marginalization.

The attacks on freedom of thought start with language. Those who do not resign themselves to accept "homophilia" (the theoretical appreciation of homosexual relations) are charged with "homophobia" (etymologically, the "fear of homosexuality"). This must be very clear: those who are made strong by the inspired word and live in the "fear of God" are not afraid of anything, except perhaps the stupidity toward which, Bonhoeffer said, we are defenseless. We are now even charged sometimes with the incredibly arbitrary accusation of "racism": a word that, among other things, has nothing to do with this issue, and in any case is completely extraneous to our doctrine and our history.

The essential problem that presents itself is this: is it still permitted in our days to be faithful and consistent disciples of the teaching of Christ (which for millennia has inspired and enriched the whole of Western civilization), or must we prepare ourselves for a new form of persecution, promoted by homosexual activists, by their ideological accomplices, and even by those whose task it should be to defend the intellectual freedom of all, including Christians?

There is one question that we ask in particular of the theologians, biblicists, and pastoralists. Why on earth, in this climate of almost obsessive exaltation of Sacred Scripture, is the Pauline passage of Romans 1:21-32 never cited by anyone? Why on earth is there not a little more concern to make it known to believers and nonbelievers, in spite of its evident timeliness?

Giacomo Biffi, "Memorie e digressioni di un italiano cardinale," Translation by Matthew Sherry for Sandro Magister, Chiesa Online (Link)

To make it even more interesting, Athanasius Schneider, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kazakhstan has issued a call for clarification – (will the real Vatican II please stand up!) in the form of a Syllabus of errors:

[. . .] For a correct interpretation of Vatican Council II, it is necessary to keep in mind the intention manifested in the conciliar documents themselves and in the specific words of the popes who convened and presided over it, John XXIII and Paul VI.

Moreover, it is necessary to discover the common thread of the entire work of the Council, meaning its pastoral intention, which is the "salus animarum," the salvation of souls. This, in turn, depends on and is subordinate to the promotion of divine worship and of the glory of God, it depends on the primacy of God.

This primacy of God in life and in all the activity of the Church is manifested unequivocally by the fact that the constitution on the liturgy occupies, conceptually and chronologically, the first place in the vast work of the Council. [. . .]


The characteristic of the rupture in the interpretation of the conciliar texts is manifested in a more stereotypical and widespread way in the thesis of an anthropocentric, secularist, or naturalistic shift of Vatican Council II with respect to the previous ecclesial tradition.

One of the best-known manifestations of such a mistaken interpretation has been, for example, so-called liberation theology and the subsequent devastating pastoral practice. What contrast there is between this liberation theology and its practice and the Council appears evident from the following conciliar teaching: "Christ, to be sure, gave His Church no proper mission in the political, economic or social order. The purpose which He set before her is a religious one" (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," 42). [. . .]

One interpretation of rupture of lighter doctrinal weight has been manifested in the pastoral-liturgical field. One might mention in this regard the decline of the sacred and sublime character of the liturgy, and the introduction of more anthropocentric elements of expression.

This phenomenon can be seen in three liturgical practices that are fairly well known and widespread in almost all the parishes of the Catholic sphere: the almost complete disappearance of the use of the Latin language, the reception of the Eucharistic body of Christ directly in the hand while standing, and the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice in the modality of a closed circle in which priest and people are constantly looking at each other.

This way of praying – without everyone facing the same direction, which is a more natural corporal and symbolic expression with respect to the truth of everyone being oriented toward God in public worship – contradicts the practice that Jesus himself and his apostles observed in public prayer, both in the temple and in the synagogue. It also contradicts the unanimous testimony of the Fathers and of all the subsequent tradition of the Eastern and Western Church.

These three pastoral and liturgical practices glaringly at odds with the law of prayer maintained by generations of the Catholic faithful for at least one millennium find no support in the conciliar texts, and even contradict both a specific text of the Council (on the Latin language: cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," 36 and 54) and the "mens," the true intention of the conciliar Fathers, as can be seen in the proceedings of the Council.


In the hermeneutical uproar of the contrasting interpretations, and in the confusion of pastoral and liturgical applications, what appears as the only authentic interpreter of the conciliar texts is the Council itself, together with the pope.

One could make a comparison with the confused hermeneutical climate of the first centuries of the Church, caused by arbitrary biblical and doctrinal interpretations on the part of heterodox groups. In his famous work "De Praescriptione Haereticorum," Tertullian was able to counter the heretics of various tendencies with the fact that only the Church possesses the "praescriptio," meaning only the Church is the legitimate proprietor of the faith, of the word of God and of the tradition. The Church can use this to fend off the heretics in disputes over true interpretation. Only the Church can say, according to Tertullian, "Ego sum heres Apostolorum," I am the heir of the apostles. By way of analogy, only the supreme magisterium of the pope or of a future ecumenical council will be able to say: "Ego sum heres Concilii Vaticani II."

In recent decades there existed, and still exist today, groupings within the Church that are perpetrating an enormous abuse of the pastoral character of the Council and its texts, written according to this pastoral intention, since the Council did not want to present its own definitive or unalterable teachings. From the same pastoral nature of the texts of the Council, it can be seen that its texts are in principle open to supplementation and to further doctrinal clarifications. Keeping in mind the now decades-long experience of interpretations that are doctrinally and pastorally mistaken and contrary to the bimillennial continuity of the doctrine and prayer of the faith, there thus arises the necessity and urgency of a specific and authoritative intervention of the pontifical magisterium for an authentic interpretation of the conciliar texts, with supplementation and doctrinal clarifications; a sort of "Syllabus" of the errors in the interpretation of Vatican Council II.

There is the need for a new Syllabus, this time directed not so much against the errors coming from outside of the Church, but against the errors circulated within the Church by supporters of the thesis of discontinuity and rupture, with its doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral application.

Such a Syllabus should consist of two parts: the part that points out the errors, and the positive part with proposals for clarification, completion, and doctrinal clarification.


Two groupings stand out for their support of the theory of rupture. One of these groupings tries to "Protestantize" the life of the Church doctrinally, liturgically, and pastorally. On the opposite side are those traditional groups which, in the name of tradition, reject the Council and exempt themselves from submission to the supreme living magisterium of the Church, from the visible head of the Church, the vicar of Christ on earth, submitting meanwhile only to the invisible head of the Church, waiting for better times. [. . .]

In essence, there have been two impediments preventing the true intention of the Council and its magisterium from bearing abundant and lasting fruit.

One was found outside of the Church, in the violent process of cultural and social revolution during the 1960's, which like every powerful social phenomenon penetrated inside the Church, infecting with its spirit of rupture vast segments of persons and institutions.

The other impediment was manifested in the lack of wise and at the same time intrepid pastors of the Church who might be quick to defend the purity and integrity of the faith and of liturgical and pastoral life, not allowing themselves to be influenced by flattery or fear.

The Council of Trent had already affirmed in one of its last decrees on the general reform of the Church: "The holy synod, shaken by the many extremely serious evils that afflict the Church, cannot do other than recall that the thing most necessary for the Church of God is to select excellent and suitable pastors; all the more in that our Lord Jesus Christ will ask for an account of the blood of those sheep that should perish because of the bad governance of negligent pastors unmindful of their duty" (Session XXIV, Decree "de reformatione," can. 1).

The Council continued: "As for all those who for any reason have been authorized by the Holy See to intervene in the promotion of future prelates or those who take part in this in another way, the holy Council exhorts and admonishes them to remember above all that they can do nothing more useful for the glory of God and the salvation of the people than to devote themselves to choosing good and suitable pastors to govern the Church."

So there is truly a need for a Syllabus on the Council with doctrinal value, and moreover there is a need for an increase in the number of holy, courageous pastors deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church, free from any sort of mentality of rupture, both in the doctrinal field and in the liturgical field.

These two elements constitute the indispensable condition so that doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral confusion may diminish significantly, and so that the pastoral work of Vatican Council II may bear much lasting fruit in the spirit of the tradition, which connects us to the spirit that has reigned in every time, everywhere and in all true children of the Catholic Church, which is the only and the true Church of God on earth.

As reported by Sandro Magister, Chiesa Online (link)

Five years have passed since the Holy Father Benedict XVI spoke of the clash between the right and wrong interpretation of Vatican II, the conflict between the hermeneutic of rupture versus the hermeneutic of reform, presented to the Roman Curia in his Christmas message of Dec 22, 2005:

[] it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call "a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture"; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.

Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord's gift. They are "stewards of the mysteries of God" (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be "faithful" and "wise" (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord's gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator: "Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs" (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).

These Gospel parables express the dynamic of fidelity required in the Lord's service; and through them it becomes clear that, as in a Council, the dynamic and fidelity must converge.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council's conclusion on 7 December 1965.

Here I shall cite only John XXIII's well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes "to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion". And he continues: "Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us...". It is necessary that "adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness..." be presented in "faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...", retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.

However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing.


with special thanks to Matt Abott at Renew America for Fr. Farfaglia's article, and to Sandro Magister for the articles by Cardinal Biffi and Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Provincial elected

The members of the Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter would like to congratulate Fr. Mark Padrez, OP on his election to Prior Provincial of the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus (Western Dominican Province).

hat tip to Fr. Pius Pietrzyk OP of the Eastern Province for the news on the Friar's Blog

Thursday, January 06, 2011

We Three Kings - Epiphany reflection

The following is from eLumen, the Newsletter of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic, Province of St. Joseph, U.S.A.

From the Provincial Promoter’s Desk

We three kings of orient are
bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
following yonder star.

In our popular carol about the Wise Men, we quickly pass over their journey with all its fields and moors, fountains and mountains. In the usual Christmas spirit, this allows us to focus on the most important part—the presents! Each gift is given a whole verse to itself: gold for Jesus the King, incense for Jesus who is God, and myrrh for Jesus who is to be a sacrifice. Yet, for the Magi,the journey to Jerusalem and then on to Bethlehem to find Jesus was a significant trip. We don’t know exactly who they were or from where they came. Many traditions hold they came from Persia, Arabia, or Indian. Typical nativity scenes show the magi representing three ancient gentile races: Greeks, Ethiopians, and Chinese. A journey from any of these places would be incredibly long, over a thousand miles. We modern Americans have no idea what it meant to travel that kind of distances. We complain if we have to cross to the other side of town or spend a few hours in an airport. For the magi this journey would have taken months, perhaps half a year, doing nothing but traveling. Even for those with wealth and power, such a journey was not easy or safe. And certainly, camels have never struck me as being particularly ergonomic.

These Wise Men spent months traveling thousands of miles following a star. They were searching not for the Seven Cities of Gold or the fountain of youth. They gained no glory or power or fame. They didn’t even get to appear on “Amazing Star Following” on CBS. In the end, all they found is a baby boy, born in a stable, who was too young to remember or even recognize them. And so, after months of travel, they turned around and went home. Only, they were forced to sneak back “by a different way” because paranoid King Herod was trying to kill them to cover the whole thing up. They undertook an incredible journey of risk and sacrifice which brought them...absolutely nothing. They didn’t get anything out of it.

This realization is crucial to understand what the Wise Men were about. For the Wise Men didn’t make their journey to get anything. They made that journey to give. Certainly, they gave their famous gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. However, more importantly, they went to give the gift of worship. When they found the child with Mary his mother, “they fell down and worshiped him.” They were willing to travel so far and risk so much, because they found someone worthy of their worship, someone whom they could adore. This was the point of their thousand mile journey, and this is the point of the journey of each of our lives. We are made to seek someone to worship, someone worthy of our adoration.

There is a strange temptation in the world today to see religion in terms of what we get out of it. We are supposed to find the religion or the church that gives us the best service, the most for our money. I’m sure we have all heard people complain, “I don’t get anything out of Mass.” Perhaps when we’ve been frustrated with the music or preaching at our parish, we’ve even shared that sentiment ourselves. Yet, when we gather to celebrate Mass, we do not come to get to hear beautiful music, to get insightful instruction from the priest, or to get to share in our community of faith. All these things are good, but we come not to get them but to give—to give our worship to God.

We are sometimes tempted to imagine a god who doesn’t want to be worshiped, a god who is much more egalitarian, a regular Joe just like us. But in imaging such a god, we imagine something that is not God. Worshiping doesn’t fit well into our American culture as we have managed to obliterate so many signs of respect and honor from ordinary life. This makes it hard for us to see anything as worthy of honor. It also leads us to forget that man’s greatest attribute is being made in the image and likeness of God. Our fellow men and women deserve to be respected and honored because each one is like God. God Himself deserves not just to be respected and honored but to be worshiped and adored because he is God.

The new translation of the Mass that we will start using next Advent intentionally highlights this aspect of the Mass. It uses loftier language and sometime even big words—words that were chosen not because they were the easiest options for us but because they were the most worthy options for God. Those who fret that average Americans won’t be able to understand these words not only insult average Americans but also forget who is being addressed throughout most of the Mass—not us but God. The language used at Mass will be a bit different from the language we use for other activities, but that is because what we do at Mass is different from any other activity.

The effort we spend to prepare and celebrate Mass is not so we or others can get more out of it, but it’s so we can give more honor to God. The art and beauty of our Churches is not meant for our eyes or ears but is a sacrifice rising up to God. We come to Mass to give—to give everything to God. Like the Magi, in giving, we will find our greatest joy. We will discover a God who is not only a source for grace and enlightenment but one who is Emmanuel, God with us. God dwells with us giving us his very flesh and blood so that we can receive him and adore him.

Fr. Darren Pierre, O.P.
Provincial Promoter

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Duty to die

From the Irish prolife site, Family and Life:

Belgian Court Decides Disabled Child Denied “Right” to be Aborted
A Belgian court has ruled that a disabled child was denied his “right” to be aborted. Belgian journal, Revue Générale des Assurances et Responsabilités, has just published a decision rendered by the Brussels Court of Appeal on 21 September 2010 in a case of a child born disabled after an erroneous prenatal diagnosis. The Court ruled that the child, represented by his parents, could claim damages from physicians for the injury of being born disabled. "Certainly, the misdiagnosis did not cause the child's disability, which existed before the error and which could not be remedied," the Court considered. "However, the injury which must be compensated is not the disability itself, but the fact of being born with such disabilities." For the Court, the child would have had "right" to an abortion if the disability had been...