30 April 2020

Feasts of May (I)

This was published prior to 1955 when Pius XII introduced today's Feast of St Joseph the Worker to counteract the Communist's International Labour Day/May Day. Ss Phil & James are now kept on the 11th.

When Priests Aren’t Allowed To Give Last Rites

'To see religious ministration as a non-essential service but the sale of lottery tickets as somehow essential tells us something is out of joint.' Exactly!!!

From The American Conservative

By Fr Robert Sirico

Religious ministrations at the end of life are not considered 'essential' in COVID lockdown. Shouldn't they be?

Overreactions to a crisis can come from all quarters: religious, secular, civil society, and, above all, politics. Unless the many sectors that make up society can work together with all due respect to each other’s freedom and spheres of competency, much can and will go wrong.  

Consider the overreach of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in his threat to shut down—permanentlysynagogues, churches, and mosques that fail to obey his orders. Or Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s comical prohibition of the sale of vegetable seeds but not lotto tickets. Instead of earning their community leaders’ goodwill and cooperation, such arbitrariness breeds contempt for the law and abates conspiracy theories. Worse, it demonstrates a disregard for that which matters most to people: religion.
Some argue that the role of religion has declined over the last two decades. But the present pandemic seems to have raised new questions about it.
There are reports of hospitals around the United States that have denied patients access to chaplains even in their last moments. Viewing patients merely as medical problems fails to see them as whole persons who might long for the spiritual consolation offered by chaplains regardless of tradition.  
Our present heartbreaking moment calls for a sense of solidarity on everyone’s part to respond to the needs of people and communities. The vocation to reach out to people in extremis, and the necessity of hearing alternative ways to respond to these needs, ought not be dismissed as a disregard for the seriousness of the pandemic and the science behind it. These varied perspectives can add a holistic, insightful, decentralized, and effective response to the crisis.  
The role that religion and religious institutions have historically played in the face of disease and contagion has been comforting, but it has also varied over the millennia.  
Stretching back to the earliest days of Christianity, we read of the utterly heroic commitment to the sick and dying demonstrated in the face of two plagues that struck the Roman Empire. While most pagans fled the cities, many Christians stayed to tend to the vulnerable—women and men, free and slave, Gentile and Jew, Christian and non-Christian. What prompted them was their belief in an afterlife and the conviction that to serve the sick was to serve their Master. 
During the Plague of Cyprian in 250 AD, which claimed millions of lives throughout the Empire, the bishop of Alexandria, where two thirds of the population had succumbed to the disease, gave a moving account of priests, deacons, and laymen who, “heedless of danger…took charge of the sick, attending to their every need…and with them departed this life serenely happy…the result of great piety and strong faith….”
Yet that same piety, when disconnected from rationality, can yield a different result. This is memorably described in Alessandro Manzoni’s portrait of a 17th-century plague that overtook Milan in his classic I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed). Despite knowing the risk involved, the desperate and fevered spirituality of people to combat the contagion inspired a large religious procession throughout the city. Manzoni judges this a case of the “heart acquitting the head” where “[a] presumptuous confidence that the procession had put an end to the plague…reigned everywhere…and that very day the death-rate increased in every part of the city and in every social class…[so that] no one could fail to see that its cause…lay in the procession itself.”
Processions are not as popular today, but patients still seek spiritual care from the Doctor of Souls.
Assumptions that the only essential care patients require is of a material or medical nature, which can even be shared by religious leaders, suggest a dangerous shift in social attitude in favor of a materialist or physicalist bias that can become entrenched long after the disease subsides. To see religious ministration as a non-essential service but the sale of lottery tickets as somehow essential tells us something is out of joint. For clergy to be prohibited from ministering in hospitals, institutions whose contemporary form was first prompted by religious inspiration, is to say the least sadly ironic.
For those who believe in God (i.e., most people), for those who have lived their lives as believers, and perhaps for those who have not lived such lives but who wish to make final reconciliations with God, access to the consolations of religion is incredibly comforting. The ameliorative effects that this kind of care can have on the medical conditions (and even the immune systems) of patients are well established. Indeed, in these moments, many believe there is a spiritual effect that transcends medical care (as important and worthy as it is).
Hospitals have long made prudent provisions for medical care, cleaning, food service, and a host of other things in precarious situations, such as the one in which we find ourselvesGiven this, patients should surely have access to their ministers, with full consideration of the minister’s safety and health as well as that of any medical staff who may need to be there too.
If restrictive policies concerning clergy visits are in place at hospitals, then (at the very least) such medical institutions are surely obliged to notify all self-identified religious patients that in any circumstances the hospital deems equivalent to this present one, they will not have access to clergy, even if they are in extremis.
In these strange times, when many people of all faiths (and none) are unexpectedly facing serious illness and, in some cases, staring death in the face, I hope that hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as civic and religious leaders, will see that while human beings are indeed flesh and blood, they are not merely flesh and blood. Patients are persons. Religious leaders need to honor reason and science while also remembering that each patient bears a unique dignity that transcends the physical.
Fr. Robert Sirico is president of the Acton Institute and pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Academy, in Grand Rapids, MI

Camarone Day - The French Foreign Legion

Today is Camarón Day, on which the Legion parades Captain Jean Danjou's wooden hand.

From Foreign Legion Info:

The Battle of Camerone (also Battle of Camarón) was an important action during the Second French intervention in Mexico. It occurred in late April 1863. In the eight-hour battle, a company of 65 men of the French Foreign Legion faced almost 2,000 Mexican infantrymen and cavalrymen. This action is portrayed as a pure example of bravery and determination of fighting to the finish.

Full article from Foreign Legion Info

Vive la Légion étrangère!

Last year's Camerone Day Parade



Does Jesus Christ constitute only one being or several?

He is one being only, God and man together; and this by reason of the unity of Person which subsists in both the human and the divine natures (XVII. I, 2).

May one speak of more than one will in Christ?

Yes; for in Him there is the divine will in so far as He is God; and the human will in so far as He is man (XVIII. 1).

Is there in Him as man a multiplicity of wills?

Yes, understanding the word "will" in a wide sense and in so far as it comprises the sensitive as well as the intellective appetite; or again in so far as the word sometimes signifies different acts of these faculties (XVIII. 2, 3).

Had the human nature in Christ a free will?

Yes. Although it was absolutely impossible for Him to sin, His will being always and in every sense conformed to the divine will (XVIII. 4).


Pope Francis Postpones Peter’s Pence Collection Amid Pandemic’s Economic Downturn

Why bother, Francis? No Catholic will contribute to your slush fund for corruption.

From Catholic World Report

By CNA Daily News

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis has postponed this year’s Peter’s Pence collection until next fall as the Vatican confronts the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The collection, which traditionally takes place in churches across the world on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, has been moved to October 4, the feast of St. Francis.
On April 29, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni attributed the date change to “the current health emergency situation.” The economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic are being felt throughout the world, including at the Vatican.
The most recent published balance sheet published by Holy See in 2017 indicated that the Vatican Museums generated much of the income for Vatican City State.
The Vatican lost millions of dollars in revenue with the closure of the Vatican Museums for over seven weeks. The Vatican Museums generated around $87 million annually as of 2015, half of which was surplus revenue for Vatican City, according to the Economist.
The Vatican Museums should be able to reopen on May 18 under the Italian government’s second phase of coronavirus restrictions. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed the potential reopening of the Vatican Museums with restricted access and increased health measures in a meeting with the Roman curial officials on April 22.
Despite the losses, Vatican employees have maintained their salaries throughout the coronavirus crisis, and the Vatican Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) discounted the rent for shops in Vatican-owned buildings.
APSA manages Holy See real estate, administering 2,400 apartments and 600 offices and commercial premises. Significantly discounted rents have been negotiated with tenants, sources tell CNA.
An administrative letter circulated within Vatican City departments on April 8 and obtained by ACI Stampa called for a cut in expenses paid to consultancies and the “suspension, whenever possible, of  fixed-term contracts.”
“The current health emergency COVID-19 is having serious repercussions on a global level and in the upcoming time it will have even more repercussions on the Holy See / Vatican City State financial situation,” the letter said.
It placed a freeze on hiring, overtime pay, business trips, and the planned purchase of new furniture for Vatican offices, but underscored that the Vatican would continue to pay salaries and did not plan to fire anyone.
Fr. Augusto Zampini told the Associated Press on April 23 that the Holy See is losing income as a result of the lockdown, and said that some high-ranking Vatican officials had offered to take salary cuts.
Peter’s Pence is the papal charitable fund supported by annual donation appeals in Catholic parishes around the world.
Projects funded by Peter’s Pence included $500,000 to assist migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador stranded in Mexico and 100,000 Euros in aid after flooding in Iran, according to its website.
There has been no official data on the amount of the collection of Peter’s Pence since 2013, according to ACI Stampa. The most recent available data indicates a 78 million dollar collection in 2012, 28% of which came from contributions of U.S. Catholics. The Wall Street Journal reported that Peter’s Pence collection totaled 50 million euros in 2018.
Pope Francis said in a press conference on Nov. 26 that the management of Peter’s Pence often includes investments, saying that this is more prudent use of resources than keeping them in a “drawer.”
“Peter’s Pence should be spent in one year, one year and a half, until the other collection arrives which is made world-wide. And this is good administration,” he said, but added that the Church must be ethical in its use of funds,” Pope Francis said.

Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report.

How Did the Knights Templar Fight?

Real Crusades History #158. And don't forget the Real Crusades History website!

The Templars are most excellent soldiers. They wear white mantles with a red cross, and when they go to the wars a standard of two colours called balzaus* is borne before them. They go in silence. Their first attack is the most terrible.** In going they are the first, in returning the last. They await the orders of their Master. When they think fit to make war and the trumpet has sounded, they sing in chorus the Psalm of David, ‘ Not unto us, O Lord’ (Non nobis, Domine, Ps. 115), kneeling on the blood and necks of the enemy, unless they have forced the troops of the enemy to retire altogether, or utterly broken them in pieces. Should any one of them for any reason turn his back to the enemy, or come forth alive (from a defeat), or bear arms against the Christians, he is severely punished: the white mantle with the red cross, which is the sign of his knighthood, is taken away with ignominy, he is cast out from the society of the brethren, and eats his food on the floor without a napkin for the space of one year. If the dogs molest him, he does not dare to drive them away. But at the end of the year, if the Master and the brethren think his penance to have been sufficient, they restore him the belt of his former knighthood. These Templars live under a strict religious rule, obeying humbly, having no private property, eating sparingly, dressing meanly, and dwelling in tents. quoted in Malcolm Barber's The New Knighthood, p. 179

Pope Francis Calls for ‘Obedience’ to Italian ‘Phase 2’ Restrictions That Continue Ban on Mass

So, according to Francis, we must not only obey the Satanic UN, but the anti-Catholic State, as well? And, he humiliated the Italian Bishops.

From LifeSiteNews

By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Pope Francis' comments were seen as opposing Italian bishops who complained against the new regulations

VATICAN CITY, April 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Pope Francis has called upon Catholics to pray for the “grace of...obedience” regarding Phase 2 of state lockdown regulations. 
The pontiff made this remark this morning at the beginning of Mass at his hotel home, the Casa Santa Marta, a day after news that the Italian bishops were unhappy with continuing the ban on public worship featured in the press.     
“At this time when measures for leaving the quarantine are beginning, let us pray to the Lord that He will give his people, to all of us, the grace of prudence and obedience, so that the pandemic does not return,” the pope said.  
The request was subsequently added to Pope Francis’ Twitter account. 
The Italian media is widely reporting this as a rebuke to the Italian Ecclesiastical Conference (CEI), who criticized the Italian government on Sunday night for extending the ban on public worship into “Phase 2” of its strategy against the COVID-19 coronavirus.  
Quotidiano wrote, “‘Prudence’ and ‘obedience’, then, are the key words that sound like a command, used by the pontiff right when part of the Church has criticized the actions of the Conte executive.” 
Il Fatto Quotidiano was even more pointed, saying that “in the debate about the participation of the faithful at mass in Phase 2 … Pope Francis repudiates the Italian Episcopal Conference and sides with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.”
“A few words at the beginning of his usual morning Mass at his residence… were enough to disassociate [Pope Francis] totally from the clash between CEI and the government.” 
Catholic journalist Sandro Magister agreed with the interpretation of the Italian media, saying today that the remark was a humiliation for the CEI. 
“The Italian bishops are [now] doubly humiliated, first by the head of the government, and then by the pope,” he wrote.
Today Quotidiano published an interview with  Bishop Massimo Camisasca of Reggio Emilia, 73,  in which he repeated the CEI’s assertion that freedom of religion was being compromised. 
“The decision of the [government] expresses an arbitrary violation of religious freedom, sanctioned by the Constitution,” he said and added that a legal expert had determined that it was also in violation of the Concordat between the Italian state and the Holy See, something that would be addressed after the pandemic. 
“At this time, the Church insists on the ability to return to her pastoral activities with the autonomy she deserves under the law.” 
Funerals are the one religious ceremony allowed by “Phase 2” and then only if 15 people are present. Camisasca stated that he didn’t understand why small funerals were permitted and small Mass were not. 
“It must be clear to everyone that the commitment to serve the needy, lavished by the Church in these months through widespread assistance to the sick and the aged, stems from a faith that must nourish itself, in particular through the sacraments,” he said.  
The bishop underscored another point made by the CEI: that they had come up with a plan to begin public worship safely, with protocols in place so that the faithful do not get sick. 
“Phase 2” is the Italian government’s latest response to the coronavirus, one which Prime Minister Conte called on Sunday evening “the phase of living with the virus.” Hitherto hard-hit Italy has been under a strict lockdown, Italians not deemed essential workers confined to their own properties except to buy essential food items or medicine. 
The new guidelines will allow some mixing between households. Beginning May 4, Italians will be allowed to visit nearby family members but not travel outside their own regions. They will be permitted to exercise outdoors as long as they maintain a one meter (3 feet) distance from each other. They will be permitted to buy takeout from restaurants. Funerals including up to 15 close relations will be allowed, as long as everyone present wears masks and maintains so-called social distancing. Any other kind of religious gathering or ceremony is still banned.  
Face masks, whose price has been capped at 50 Euro cents, or makeshift masks, like scarves, will have to be worn on public transit and, now by law, anyone with a fever will have to stay at home. 
Factories, construction companies, and wholesalers have been invited to start planning now for an early May restart. If this loosening of restrictions is successful, shops, museums, and cultural sites will be opened from May 18. Restaurants and beauty parlors will not reopen until June 1, however. Schools will remain shut until September.

How a Visit to Chartres Changed My Life

Dr K tells of a trip to Notre Dame de Chartres he made with his son, and the effect it had on him.

From The Remnant

By Dr Peter Kwasniewski

How a Visit to Chartres Changed My Life
When I was in high school and college, I wrote a good deal of poetry. It started off free-form, in that lazy way moderns have, but soon, inspired by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hilaire Belloc (a fine poet!), Francis Thompson, T.S. Eliot, and like representatives of “The Other Modern,” I turned to more traditional forms, especially sonnets. The high point was a one-act play, written in heroic couplets, about the destruction of a monastery by French revolutionaries, written at Georgetown University in the fall of 1989, a bicentennial opportunity that could not be missed.
Then, in a sort of puritanical phase, I destroyed all of this verse—a foolish act I now regret. But one sonnet somehow escaped the purge. It’s not my best, but it has sentimental value… and it is relevant to my story.
Church light-filled! stretto-spires heavenward flying
To greet God, Maker, Master, Harmony
Of souls; Church truth-belov’d, deceit-denying,
Inflamed with amorous divinity:
O mighty Chartres (in glass a thousand tales
Beyond world’s ends), stone bends to supplicate
The faithful Virgin, whom our prayer assails
Meek, confident. “I bid thee, hurl this weight
Of sin into the sea, a mountain planted
Deep.” Thus the villager; thus lord and king,
All men, athirst for light, contritely panted,
Pilgrims laved and fed at grace’s spring.
O Virgin, glass-beheld, in sculpture fair,
I beg thee: Hear with living ears my prayer.
1 Chartres facade
I wrote a poem in high school about Chartres cathedral not because I had already been there or had immediate prospects of visiting, but because I had just finished reading Henry Adams’ Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, in which a cultivated agnostic gushes his enthusiasm for medieval Catholic France. The most famous chapter is entitled “The Virgin and the Dynamo”: a contrast between the Queen of Heaven whose devotees at Chartres built her a marvelous shrine full of radiance, and the impersonal forty-foot electrical generator that Adams beheld at the Great Exposition in Paris in 1900, symbol of a mechanistic, industrialized civilization.
This contrast invites us to consider the two aspects from which technology can be evaluated: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative superiority means, for example, being able to lift a larger number of heavier objects faster, or being able to produce more books more quickly. Qualitative superiority means being able to craft a beautiful object such as a statue, a stained-glass window, or an illuminated manuscript, even if it takes a very long time and the objects are comparatively few in number. This distinction being made, it is easy to draw the conclusion that medieval technology was superior to modern in a qualitative sense, while modern technology is superior to medieval only in a quantitative sense. In the end, which is the more important of the two?
“In the modern world of measurements,” writes Andrew Gushurst-Moore, “success is defined in physical terms, by that which is faster, bigger, taller—the celebration of power.”[1] One is reminded of the difference between the ancient Roman lectionary still contained in the Tridentine missal, as perfectly suited for its purpose as a slender Gothic column, and the modern multi-volume lectionary used for the Novus Ordo, a heaped-up pile of Soviet-style apartment blocs.
In 2015, I finally made it to Chartres. I was not among those jolly, singing, flag-bearing strong souls who make the trek by foot through mud and rain on the famous pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres—one might say, from the Dynamo to the Virgin. The grace of this visitation came rather during a father-son trip made while I was on sabbatical.
My son and I arrived at the sleepy medieval town on a train from Paris. Given our limited time, we had had to make a difficult choice: visit St. Denis, the first of Gothic churches, or Chartres, the finest of them. St. Thérèse’s “I choose all!” strategy was not going to work in this situation. We agreed on Chartres, the very name of which is like sweet mead or glistening water.
When I first caught sight of the spires, my heart began to race. As we drew near, I fell in love with her face, which I knew was no mere façade but an earnest of more within, as in the verse omnis gloria eius filiae regis ab intus (Ps 44:14). And when we entered, and my eyes had adjusted to the soothing half-light, I was transported out of myself and did not return to my shoes for a long time: my mind was soaring elsewhere, my eyes lost in dizzying vaults and shimmering glass. I do not know how to describe my feelings, except to say with Dionysius the Areopagite: it was no mere learning of divine things, but a suffering of them.
After we had left, I wrote the following in my journal.
*           *           *
October 1. Chartres Cathedral is, indeed, “a miracle in stone and glass.” I have never seen a church more beautiful than this. Nothing in Rome can even begin to compare with it. It utterly lacks the pomposity, worldliness, self-importance, and humanistic vanity of the Renaissance structures of Italy, the self-conscious triumphalism of the Counter-Reformation Baroque. It is grand but always turned heavenwards—and turning one’s soul heavenwards. There is deep humility and prayer built into, nay fused with, this immensely impressive edifice. Everywhere God is glorified in His saints, in the light that pours through the windows, ever shifting as the day proceeds, in the colors, the eyes, the sculptures… I said to J.: it is nothing less than the Bible in glass and stone. To say that medievals who could understand these images were “illiterates” would be to say that moderns who cannot are idiots.
Baroque art stresses God become man, heaven penetrating into this world—in the sacraments, the Eucharist, the priesthood, the Church visible as a body. It is deliberately sensual, bodily, plastic, dramatic. Gothic speaks rather of man aspiring to God, earth being lifted up to heaven, the ascent of the soul via Christ to God. It is straining to leave the body, to let the light suffuse and transfigure everything visible so that it might shine with intimations of divinity and immortality. The light-colored stone works together with the great height and the exquisite windows to create an effect of weightless uplift: Sursum corda.
2 Portal
It is not so much dramatic as symbolic—more prayer than propaganda. It delivers its message with the existential shock of beauty. But how many are receptive to this shock anymore? Sure, every visitor can say: “It’s lovely” or “it’s amazing,” but does it have a deep and lasting impact on them? In these times, when everyone’s eyes are glued to smartphones, when their ears are stuffed with earbuds, the words of Jesus take on a pitiful sound: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear; he who has eyes to see, let him see.”
Nothing we have done in architecture could even compare with Chartres, let alone equal it or surpass it. Built by people with so little technology compared to ours! But they had faith, vision, wonder, ambition, and the desire to give God the greatest and best. Yet moderns are arrogant, and put down the Middle Ages. This shows how blind we really are (or have become).
October 2. Low Mass [at Église Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile in Paris] for the feast of the Guardian Angels was beautiful—so comforting to have the same Mass, the true Mass, the only real Mass of the Catholic Church—the same everywhere in the world. J. said: “Let’s light a candle for the restoration of tradition.” So we lit two, at a side altar of St. Anthony. My prayer was: “Lord, may the Church’s youth be renewed like the eagle’s.”
*           *           *
The visit to Chartres changed my life. I was reduced to dust before a theophany of absolute meaning. With a colossal immediacy and certitude, I apprehended the truth, in a way both intuitive and visceral, that high medieval Catholic culture was not merely one among many flowerings of the Christian Faith; it was the quintessential epiphany of what John Henry Newman called the “Idea” of Christianity—it was its imperfectible cultural embodiment, exhibiting a sublime conformity of thought and thing, ideal and incarnation, belief and building, aspiration and aesthetic, the likes of which the world had never seen before and has never seen since.
Chartres Cathedral was finished exactly 800 years ago, in the year 1220, four years before the birth of St. Thomas Aquinas in Roccasecca, and six years before the death of St. Francis in Assisi. It came from the age that gave us the most radical imitator of Christ and first stigmatist, who unleashed a revolution very different from feverish dreams of libertéégalitéfraternité. It came from the era that gave us the greatest theologian of the Western Church, the Angelic Doctor, still the exemplary teacher and disciple of the harmony of faith and reason.
I had already been a traditionalist and an integralist for many years—theoretically. The experience of the cathedral shattered the last psychological remnants of nominalism, rationalism, liberalism, and every other -ism that lurks in the dingy shadows of modernity. I could see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the glory of Christendom—even at a distance of so many centuries. It was a consoling sight, an invigorating melody, a captivating smell, a heavenly taste, a healing touch. It roused awake the sensus fidei, the sensus catholicus in my soul. Somehow—I think for the first time—I had an overwhelming sense of the humble glory of being Catholic.[2]
The experience was a turning point, too, in my thinking about the liturgy. Prior to this, I had been willing to entertain the “reform of the reform” as a possibility; I played my part in adding smells and bells to the modern papal rite of Paul VI. Afterwards, I felt it was nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit, as if one had been asked to reconstruct Chartres with Lego bricks.
Visiting the cathedral with me that October 1st, my son was similarly overwhelmed. He said: “If I tried to describe this place to someone who had never been here, he wouldn’t believe me. He would think I was exaggerating, making stuff up. And then… you wouldn’t actually be able to find the right words anyway.”
3 Rose
Isn’t this the experience so many of us have with the traditional Latin Mass, when we try to talk about it with others, when we try to get them interested in their own heritage and birthright—in the words of Fr. Faber, “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven”?
Once a year, thanks to the Chartres pilgrimage, this silent, patient house of God resounds again in melodious chant, as the great Roman Pontifical Mass is celebrated at the high altar—that liturgy for which this building and thousands of others of similar ambition were built, and without which they seem absurdly overdone: gigantic relics we no longer know how to venerate, embarrassments in a world of comfort, efficiency, and sensible mediocrity.[3]
This miracle of a cathedral was almost destroyed with explosives at the time of the French Revolution, during the Reign of Terror (September 1793 to July 1794). It was spared, apparently, only when a local architect pointed out how much trouble it would be to clean up the vast amount of rubble.[4] For many years it lay idle and vacant, one of countless “Temples of Reason” proclaimed by the Revolution, with no Holy Sacrifice offered on its altars.
A far more subtle (though no less effective) cancellation of its raison d’être occurred less than two centuries later when Paul VI made the liturgy itself into a temple of reason and extinguished the mystical flame of Catholic worship. To our everlasting shame, it was not radical Jacobins but surpliced churchmen who undertook the more barbaric work of destroying the traditional Mass that constitutes the single greatest work of art in the Christian West—greater, by far, even than the Gothic church architecture of France, for it was nothing less than this “work of God” that inspired everything else surrounding it. A German author, Karl Lechner, observed:
Out of the Mass, among other things, the most profound splendor and ingenious fullness of the Catholic Church’s architectural style has grown ... Only on account of this worship can the proud majesty of a Gothic cathedral be understood. ... But Romanesque architecture, too, has its necessary requirement in the service of the Mass. ... Without the High Mass, no master builder of the spirited Middle Ages would have developed the basilica to this sublime, serious, and magnificent style. Without the Catholic service, neither Raphael nor Fra Angelico, Hubert van Eyck nor the younger Holbein, nor Lorenzo Ghiberti, Veit Stoss, and Peter Vischer would have brought to light the wonders of their brush and chisel, and adorned the Church of God on earth with a wealth of holy beauty that will remain a gem for all ages.[5]
The Mass of which Lechner wrote in 1877 was, of course, the Tridentine rite. The Novus Ordo could never have inspired Romanesque or Gothic architecture. This inspiration came from the Romano-Gallican liturgy of the Middle Ages, suffused with Carolingian “court ritual” and demanding for its setting a house of gold and silver worthy of such a dazzling jewel.
The movement for liturgical reform after World War II was driven by a number of principles, not all of them compatible with each other. But practically speaking, there was broad agreement about this one thing: that which was medieval had, by and large, to be expunged. It lacked the supposed domesticity and familiarity of the early Church—so it was said; in reality this meant it did not accord with the sterile Cartesian ideals of simplicity and clarity inherited from the same Enlightenment rationalism that gave us the French Revolution. The liturgical reformers, like their precursors at the Synod of Pistoia (1786), and their precursors in the Protestant revolt, viewed the medieval period as an age of extravagant superstition, speculation without scholarship, fanciful mysticism, remote otherworldliness. In the name of Modernity and its Progress, medieval liturgy, medieval chant and architecture and theology (scholasticism) had to be purged from the bloodstream, or, if they could not be purged, “renewed” or “renovated.”
To an extent far greater than the ultramontanism so beloved to neoscholasticism would ever have allowed possible, the renovating churchmen succeeded in demedievalizing Catholicism on earth, which was like tearing off the healthiest, most well-developed limbs of a great oak tree. The genius that built Chartres, the genius that had perfected our liturgy and its music, was exterminated. The modern liturgy is a ghostly, bloodless abstraction compared to the richly-textured traditional liturgy that appeals to every sense in a delicate lifelong courtship and raises the mind to the God beyond all, whose Word became flesh for us men and for our salvation.
4 Cana
Can we be so arrogant that we believe modernity represents progress? Progress over the masterpiece tradition gives us? We are like pygmies next to giants. The only sensible thing for moderns to do would be to sit like little children in the schoolroom of medieval Christendom, becoming lifelong apprentices in its workshop of wisdom and beauty, with the hope of someday acquiring a sliver of its mastery, with, perhaps, a renaissance to follow after several generations.
One cannot help thinking of the eloquent “Agatha Christie” petition of 1971, signed by 56 cultural figures in England, many of them not Catholic, and presented by Cardinal Heenan to Pope Paul VI:
If some senseless decree were to order the total or partial destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated—whatever their personal beliefs—who would rise up in horror to oppose such a possibility. Now the fact is that basilicas and cathedrals were built so as to celebrate a rite which, until a few months ago, constituted a living tradition. We are referring to the Roman Catholic Mass. Yet, according to the latest information in Rome, there is a plan to obliterate that Mass by the end of the current year.
One of the axioms of contemporary publicity, religious as well as secular, is that modern man in general, and intellectuals in particular, have become intolerant of all forms of tradition and are anxious to suppress them and put something else in their place. But, like many other affirmations of our publicity machines, this axiom is false. Today, as in times gone by, educated people are in the vanguard where recognition of the value of tradition in concerned, and are the first to raise the alarm when it is threatened.
We are not at this moment considering the religious or spiritual experience of millions of individuals. The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts—not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians. In the materialistic and technocratic civilization that is increasingly threatening the life of mind and spirit in its original creative expression—the word—it seems particularly inhuman to deprive man of word-forms in one of their most grandiose manifestations.
In conclusion, the signatories say that “they wish to call to the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive.”[6] Why appalling? Gushurst-Moore suggests a reason: “The great books of literature, history, science, mathematics, or other subjects, and the great works in the history of art or music, are very much akin to religion and faith in revealing the face of God.”[7]
One can understand why the drafter of the petition might have subscribed to the pious myth that the Holy See is capable of “refusing to allow the Traditional Mass to survive.” Today, we are in a better position to see what Agatha Christie and her cosignatories could not. As Pope Benedict XVI lucidly declared, the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church does not need a pope’s permission to exist or to continue to exist. The classical Roman Rite is a monument of tradition that can never be abolished, abrogated, or abandoned. The Holy Spirit Who formed this rite in the womb of Holy Mother Church would never allow such a betrayal, nor would the devoted children of that same Mother tolerate it. Cathedrals may rise and fall, revolutions ignite and subside, but this divine worship will endure until the Parousia.
The Traditional Mass survives not by the sufferance of its overlords but by the ever-renewed love of the little ones in Christ, who, however unworthy, join centuries of pilgrims to Chartres, to the Virgin, and to the Mass, threefold image of a single heavenly Jerusalem.
[1] Glory in All Things: St Benedict and Catholic Education Today (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2019), 14.
[2] As a philosopher by training, I try to avoid “the sticky temptations of poetry.” Claims about “seeing the whole picture all at once” sound grandiose, hyperbolic, subjective, indemonstrable. But the philosopher is committed to describing reality as it is—and that includes the totality of one’s experience of it, however mundane or transcendent it may be.
[3] The embarrassment and incapacity extend beyond architecture to the realm of sacred music. Indeed, according to the most recent ecumenical council, “the musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 112)—an astonishing claim to think about when you are standing in front of or inside of Chartres cathedral. The reason given? This music, above all Gregorian chant, is the sacred liturgy; not a mere add-on, but bone and flesh of the thing itself, in a way that no building could ever be. Yet that means the music stands or falls with the liturgical rite. If the rite and its music are perfect for each other, they create a sonic temple that harmonizes with the visual temple. All the traditional art forms cohere in the liturgy that stands at their center. There was a mighty battle over the wording of Sacrosanctum Concilium Chapter VI, on sacred music. Msgr. Johannes Overath won the battle, but lost the war: after the Council, this chapter was more or less ignored by all who implemented the conciliar constitution, with Paul VI leading them in his hand-wringing eulogy for Latin and Gregorian chant.
[4] See the account given at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartres_Cathedral, where many good photographs of the cathedral are also to be found.
[5] K. Lechler, Die Confessionen in ihrem Verhältnisse zu Christus (Heilbronn: Verlag Gebr. Henninger, 1877), 166f., cited by Michael Fiedrowicz in a forthcoming book from Angelico Press.
[6] For the text and annotated list of signatories, see Joseph Shaw (ed.), The Case for Liturgical Restoration. Una Voce Studies on the Traditional Latin Mass (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2019), 213–16.
[7] Glory in All Things, 121.

Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt

On this day in 1881, Bld Pauline von Mallinckrodt, founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity (also called the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception) died. She founded her order with the goal of caring for and teaching the blind, however their apostolate quickly spread to include homeless children and the mentally disabled. In today's world where the "inconvenient" are killed in their mothers' wombs, truly Bld Pauline von Mallinckrodt is an example for our time.

Blessed Pauline, pray for us!

Suffering and Joy in Bleak and Dangerous Times

One Catholic's experience of the CCP virus pandemic, so far.

From One Peter Five

By Freeland Oliveiro 

If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
—2 Corinthians 1:6–7
I sat at my desk in my office, watching the text cursor on my email draft slowly blink in and out of existence. I was preparing to send an email to a priest.
It had been three weeks since I had received the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion. It was March 30, 2020, and the world seemed to have become a very different place from a mere month or so prior.
In the first couple days of January 2020, I remember seeing various internet memes referring to a “new plague” in China. That was the extent of my knowledge on the subject, and truly the extent of my interest. It was reminiscent of the many of the alleged “plagues” I had heard about throughout my life — Swine Flu, West Nile Virus, Ebola, Bird Flu — sicknesses that seemed to cause headlines for a short period of time before disappearing from society’s view, forgotten as a mere inconvenience rather than a tangible threat. If people were hurt, they were far away, and the looming fear of widespread infection never really materialized.
I didn’t pay the issue too much mind; I had more important things to concern myself with.
My fiancée, Caitlyn, had recently moved into my parents’ rental home, which was to become our marital home in June. So the early days of 2020 were spent toiling away as an associate attorney at my law firm in the hopes that I could save enough money to fund our honeymoon, while my evenings were spent undertaking renovation projects on Caitlyn’s new house. We finished the bulk of the renovations in January. However, there was always something that needed done, both inside and outside of the house. In addition to picking out our wedding food and meeting with our priest for our pre-marital classes, I spent my free time as I always did: reading about Catholic theology, playing videogames, watching sports, and helping my dad with the farm chores. Caitlyn, meanwhile, occupied herself with various crafts, with working the night shifts as a nurse, and with making the numerous wedding preparations. Life was, for all intents and purposes, normal.
Near the end of February, per family tradition, I traveled to West Virginia with my cousin and brothers in order to ensure that nary a trout in the whole state went uncaught. That first weekend trip of the year was icy cold. I recall standing in the stream in the heart of Appalachia, a blizzard pounding down on me as I netted a strong, beautiful rainbow trout. Just as I always did when I caught the first trout of the year, I looked up to the icy-gray sky, trout-filled net in one hand, rod in the other — and thanked God for that exact moment.
That was mere months ago. It seems like a lifetime.
Once I returned from that trout fishing expedition, things started to get really weird, really fast. In early March, I began to hear more about the “Coronavirus.” It had now arrived in the United States, and it was “getting bad” in Italy, whatever that meant. One day, I bumped into a high school friend’s mom at court who told me her son — my former classmate — might have to cancel a trip to Milan that he had been planning for some time. Unfortunate, I had said. Hopefully it clears up soon.
I still am not sure whether he ended up going. I hope not.
The news channels were split; those that dislike President Trump said he was already blowing it, while those that support him said he had everything under control. Several elderly people had died in a nursing home in Washington, and a few others in New York. Skeptics said this was just a new flu — an illness which, in its normal iteration, killed thousands of people per year. This wasn’t anything different from what we have seen before. I wondered how long it would be before this coronavirus scare blew over. I had work to do. I had clients to see. I had a wedding to plan. I had a life to live.
Then, seemingly overnight, all hell broke loose.
The coronavirus spreads from Washington and New York. Cleveland has a case. Now three. Schools closed on a week-by-week basis. Big events canceled. Just precautionary. Court is in session, still packed with lawyers and criminals and judges. Visits to nursing homes limited to one person per resident per day. A state of emergency is declared, but nobody really knows what that means. School canceled for a month. March Madness postponed. No, canceled. Ohio has four cases. Social distancing. What is social distancing? Bars and restaurants close. You can’t buy hand sanitizer anymore. You can’t buy toilet paper anymore? Made my own hand sanitizer. Dad laughs. Says it’s a conspiracy to make Trump look bad. Fifty cases in Ohio. School canceled indefinitely. Elections canceled. Everyone’s afraid. My brother, a doctor, says it’s just the flu. The United States has two deaths. The United States has a thousand deaths. Ohio has its first death. Ohio has twelve deaths. I clean all my guns. Non-essential personnel ordered to stay home from work. Avoid going out at all costs. Don’t touch your face; don’t touch surfaces. Work from home. Caitlyn’s bridal shower is canceled, she cries. Celebrities sing a communist song. Everyone laughs. Celebrities die. Nobody laughs. My brother, a doctor, no longer says it’s just the flu. Ohio has fifty deaths. Flatten the curve. America is not working. Businesses go under. Businesses get bailed out. The United States has four thousand deaths. Congress gives two trillion dollars. Baseball is canceled. Everyone seems to forget about Joe Biden. Everyone should wear a mask. Nobody should wear a mask. Supplies are scarce. Doctors in Italy choose who lives and who dies. Bodies carried out of Italian cities in a convoy of military trucks. Piles of bodies lifted by forklift in New York. This is war. Hospitals are now “the front lines.” Forty thousand deaths worldwide. The economy is going to collapse. United States has ten thousand deaths. It’s getting better, right? Is it getting better?
Nope. It’s still getting worse. We’re just used to it now.
The most surreal part of it all is how utterly insane the lives we had a mere sixty days ago now seemed. Sitting down in a restaurant? Hugging your friend? Shaking hands with a new client? Watching sports? Not using hand sanitizer? We took all of it so very much for granted — to go to a ballgame, to go to a bar, to go to Mass…
Mass. That’s what hurts the most. That’s what hurts more than anything.
The first major step that took place in the Church was that certain dioceses decided to give dispensations to the faithful from their Sunday obligations. My diocese, the Diocese of Cleveland, was one of the first ones to do so. I planned on going to Mass despite the dispensation, but that Sunday happened to fall on the weekend I went on my second trout fishing trip of the year. So, for the first time in two years, I did not go to Mass on Sunday.
I still don’t know how to feel about that. On one hand, I’m glad I didn’t go and potentially bring back a virus that could kill me or my family. On the other hand, I feel ashamed because all Masses in Ohio were outright canceled the following week. Soon, all church gatherings were canceled nationwide. Could I have contracted the coronavirus at that Mass? Perhaps. But it may have been the last time I could have received the Eucharist for a very long time…or, as the parable of the ten virgins taught me, it could have been the last time I received the Eucharist ever.
So, on March 30, 2020, as I sat in my office being unproductive, I decided to email a local priest, whom I had never seen for confession before, and ask if he would meet with me.
By that time, all court had been canceled, and I was admittedly distracted by the seemingly inescapable plague that was — and still is — dominating every aspect of life. But, more than that, I was distracted by the fact that I was now in a state of mortal sin, and confessions had been suspended until further notice. Before all of this, I went to confession at least every other week. That’s normally how long I could go before I fell out of grace and found myself knowing that, should I die before reaching confession, eternal damnation awaited.
I hate that.
I don’t hate that dying outside a state of grace results in damnation. That is just. What I hate is that a mere two weeks is as long as I usually go before tossing Christ’s sacrifice right back into His face by committing mortal sin. But He will forgive me, so long as I express true contrition through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But what was I to do now? Everyone was so terrified to leave their homes. Even without a pandemic causing worldwide fear, it was sometimes difficult to schedule a confession. One priest told me I didn’t need to confess because missing Sunday Mass isn’t a mortal sin. Some priests told me they were too busy and recommended a different parish. One priest simply moaned, “You’ve got to be kidding me” and rolled his eyes before begrudgingly agreeing to meet me for a quick confession. He was a bad priest.
I sat at my desk wondering whether the priest would even respond to my email, but I didn’t have to wait long for my answer. I was pleasantly surprised when the priest responded within a matter of minutes.
“Please let me know what time works for you. Here’s my cell number. PAX!”
Man, I thought. Thank God.
So, during my lunch break, I drove to the church and waited in the eerily vacant parking lot. I felt that sort of satisfaction I always felt when I finally arrived at church for confession. I’m here, I would think. I’ve made it.
After waiting a few minutes, I saw a thin man in a black jacket, with a small white square peeking out of the collar, who waved me over to the rectory, an amiable smile on his face. I put on a surgical mask and exited my car.
“Thank you so much, Father,” I said as I approached him.
“I’m glad to do it.” He said it dismissively, but not dismissively as though my request were unimportant. Rather, he was dismissive as if to say, This is my job, and this is a great thing you are here for, and I am glad to do it. He was a kind priest, about fifty years old. I had been to this church on numerous occasions, and I enjoyed going to his Masses. Some priests are so kind to the point of seeming not genuine, or tell so many jokes during the homily that you fear you may be receiving the sacraments from a man who doesn’t take his vocation seriously. I prefer priests who carry out their duties with a more solemn tone; such priests convey the appropriate importance of the sacraments, in my view. However, this priest was perhaps the best middle ground one could find. When he gave Mass, he not only emphasized the gravity of Christ’s great sacrifice, but also radiated Christ’s joy, so much so that you could not help but join him in that joy. He was a good priest.
I followed Father to the corner of the rectory, where the parking lot abutted the building. As we turned the corner, I saw the door that would lead us up to his office. I always found the priests’ offices interesting. I think that, for laypeople whose only interactions with men of the cloth are weekly Mass and the occasional confession, a priest’s life appears to consist solely of saying Mass, baptizing babies, and praying the rosary. However, it’s easy to forget priests are men, like you and me. So, their offices are usually just like any other person’s office: cluttered desks adorned with paper, checks, letters, and the like. Some have golf mugs and pictures of their mothers; others may have a cat running around. My pastor growing up had model trains all over the place. He also really loved roller coasters. He was a good priest.
So I saw the door that undoubtedly led to an office that perhaps smelled like cats, or maybe had a set of golf clubs in the corner. But he did not open it. Instead, the priest turned his back to the door as he faced me.
“I hope you don’t mind,” he said, the smile never leaving his face. “We’re going to do confession here in the parking lot.”
I nodded in understanding, folded my hands, and bowed my head.
I made a good confession.
* * *
“So,” Father said once we were done, “It’s gotten pretty crazy around here, hasn’t it? Around everywhere, really.” It was weird to see someone constantly smiling, yet never for a second giving off the impression that the smile was anything but genuine.
“It sure has, Father,” I replied, slightly muffled under my mask. “How have you been holding up?”
“Not bad,” he began, relaxing his posture a bit. “I’m just trying by best to do what I can for everyone, now that I’m able to. I had taken a trip to Italy a few weeks ago, you see…”
My eyes got wide. He noticed. “Don’t worry,” he said with a slight laugh. “I’ve ‘self-quarantined’ for three weeks now. No symptoms, so the doctors tell me I’m good.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Father.”
“Thank you,” he said, continuing to smile. “Now I’m just trying to do what I can. We obviously are still working out how to do confessions and how to best serve everybody. These are difficult times for everyone.”
“I understand, Father.” I paused. “It’s been hard not being able to receive the sacraments.”
“Hmm,” he said, his smile finally giving way in favor of an inquisitive look. He turned and looked at the rectory window above his head, two stories up. “Well, that window right there” — he nodded toward the window — “is our rectory chapel.”
He turned back to look at me and said, “Why don’t you wait here, and I’ll go get the Lord for you?”
I knew what he meant right away, and it struck me like a bolt of lightning. I was overcome with a multitude of emotions. Relief. Excitement. Elation. Sorrow. Gratitude. They all hit me so hard that I nearly forgot to answer.
“Yes…yes, Father. Thank you,” I replied.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, smiling as he walked to the door.
As the door shut behind him, I slowly raised my hand to my face, removing my mask by slipping  the elastic band off of one ear, then the other. I stuffed it into my pocket, and slowly folded my hands, clenching my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut. I struggled to hold back tears.
Father returned a few moments later. He opened the door with his right hand; his left hand was adorned with a surgical glove, and between his thumb and pointer finger he held up the Blessed Sacrament. I immediately dropped to my knees and bowed my head, my hands folded. I had not received the Blessed Sacrament while standing in quite some time.
So there, kneeling on the asphalt of a vacant church parking lot, on a gray, windy spring day, I received the Eucharist.
Images I had never seen began to tiptoe between the recesses of my conscious and unconscious mind. The image of early Christians, in the dark and damp catacombs of Rome, celebrating the Mass atop the tomb of a martyr. A Catholic family in Ireland during the Penal Years, traveling in the dark for hours, meeting deep in the woods so that they might receive the Eucharist in a secret moonlight Mass. A medieval priest anointing the sick and distributing Communion to those dying of the black plague, despite the fact that this meant he would surely succumb to the pestilence himself.
I thought of these things, these times where it seemed all was lost, these times where it appeared as though no institution, no country, no life could survive — and I received the most Blessed Sacrament as the world seemed to crumble away around me.
I thanked the priest with tears in my eyes, got up, and walked to my car. Once there, I wept. I wept for the sins I had committed; I wept for the worldwide chastisement we were going through; I wept for offense of my sins against God; I wept for every single Catholic in the world who could not receive the immense blessing that I just had.
But, more than anything, I wept for joy.