Sensus Fidelium

July 31, 2010


I was in Westminster Cathedral the other day and I beheld a most edifying sight, something I have experienced in a number of places over the years. It was a well attended lunchtime weekday Mass, the congregation numbering several hundreds. When it came to communion the priest approached the congregation with three extraordinary ministers of holy communion. After a few dozen people had gone up to receive from the extraordinary ministers the rest of the several hundred laity resolutely refused to budge from the Priest’s communion queue and the extraordinary ministers were forced to stand there pointlessly for quite some time. I felt sorry for the EMs who are usually pious members of the laity keen to assist in their parish. But the fact is that the use of extraordinary ministers is an abuse.

It is an abuse in two senses. It is an abuse in the sense that it should never have been allowed in the first place, the priest’s hands are anointed because he alone externally touches the Blessed Sacrament. Even the deacon traditionally only touched the chalice containing the Blessed Sacrament not the species themselves. Servers and those in minor orders below the subdiaconate would not even touch the sacred vessels when empty. The random introduction of Mrs Cannybody at the Agnus Dei is an absurdity greatly deleterious to the reverence due the Blessed Sacrament and a major plank in the campaign to clericalise the laity. But it is also an abuse in that the permission for Extraordinary Ministers is so restrictive that if the law were observed they would never be used anyway. The law concerning their use is laid out in the 1997 Instruction Ecclesiae de mysterio Article 8 §2. They have to be appointed by the bishop, if they are appointed by a priest it can only be for the occasion itself and not for any period of time. Even the bishop can only appoint them “in cases of true necessity” and a priest may only do so “in exceptional cases or in unforeseen circumstances”. The document goes on to insist “To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches… the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of ‘a great number of the faithful’”. These provisions, which are footnoted in the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal, effectively exclude all the occasions on which extraordinary ministers are currently used in Great Britain. Rarely are they instituted by the Bishop, never out of genuine necessity, their use is universally habitual not exceptional and certainly not unforeseen. Most absurdly of all they are mostly used to administer the chalice which is never necessary by definition because administration under one kind is an ordinary method of administration so it is never necessary to take extraordinary measures to avoid it. Any attempt by a local ordinary to insist on communion under both kinds is null and void by virtue of the Decree of the Council of Constance that the contention that it is illicit to receive under only one species is a heresy.

The incident at Westminster Cathedral (and the growing number of similar occurrences) is edifying because it shows the sense of the faithful recovering from years of clericalist modernist bullying. More and more, faithful Catholics are instinctively uncomfortable with this practice and they instinctively avoid participating in it. There are a number of other practices which if the laity simply adopted or avoided would help to turn the tide.

1. Never become an extraordinary minister
2. Never receive communion from an extraordinary minister
3. Always either receive kneeling or genuflect just before receiving
4. Never receive under both kinds
5. Never read unless you are a vested server
6. Never serve if you are a woman
7. Never cleanse the vessels unless you are Deacon
8. Never touch the Eucharist or the Sacred Vessels with your hands
9. Always genuflect when passing in front of the Tabernacle
10. Always double genuflect in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament

Having been an extraordinary minister (years ago when I was unaware of the dodgy status of this practice) and having worked as a sacristan for some time (and spoken to many others) I can tell you the Blessed Sacrament is almost always desecrated when communion is administered under both kinds. Very few priests or sacristans purify the linens and the vessels properly or immediately and they are very very sensitive about it because they have often been acting wrongly their entire priestly lives and they don’t want to hear about it. It is very difficult to serve the Novus Ordo without being instructed by the Priest to break the rubrics or forbidden to genuflect in front the Blessed Sacrament. The failure of the Hierarchy to institute lectors and acolytes facilitates the use of female servers and readers which makes an absurdity of the strictures of St Paul and the thundering condemnations of many Popes on this topic. The practice of bowing instead of genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament is a cause of enormous scandal to the faithful, is not mandated by the GIRM and has greatly weakened belief in the real presence. It is up there with the Priest facing the people in terms of the damage it has done.

Vatican II was supposed to be the new dawn of the laity. It didn’t turn out that way. Things have now reached such a pass that the laity must indeed grow up. They must reject the attempts of Modernist to clericalse them, to make them co-operators in the de-sacralisation of the liturgy, the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament, the subversion of the doctrine of the real presence and the creeping introduction of female clergy. The laity have had to learn to access Catholic Doctrine over the heads of the clergy (who either corrupt it or refuse to preach it) through the Catechism and other magisterial resources, now they must put a stop to the abuse of the sacraments by withdrawing their cooperation from the clerical abuse of the Mass.

ex Laodocea


The Great Equalizer

July 31, 2010

Do The Right Thing

July 22, 2010

Here is the link to the Rockford abortion clinic story:

You Just Need to be the Right Sort of Roman

July 21, 2010

National Catholic Register

I have long maintained that a massive amount of the outrage being directed at the Church over the abuse scandal is completely phony.  Not that the crimes and sins committed by abusive priests and their Episcopal defenders are phony in the slightest—but rather that many of the people who are crying “I’m shocked—shocked—at the thought of sexual abuse of children!” are, in fact, completely uninterested in the sexual abuse of children or are, indeed, supportive of the sexual abuse of children.

Case in point, child rapist and molestor Roman Polanski and his ardent defenders, including such moral giants as Woody Allen, Whoopi Goldberg (“It was something else, but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.”), John Landis, Mike Nichols, Salman Rushdie, Martin Scorcese, Tilda Swinton, Diane von Furstenberg, and Debra Winger (”[The arrest] is based on an… old case that is all but dead but for minor technicalities.”). 

One doesn’t see the New York Times pulling out the stops to demand accountability from Polanski or to arraign his defenders as moral idiots.  Why?  Because Polanski is the right kind of Roman, made some good films, and is a good Lefty who lives the lifestyle of Exaltation of the Groin that is part and parcel of liberal left culture.  So he gets a pass.  How tres tres Euro!

Speaking of which, here’s another artifact of the same sort of thing: a piece on how German lefties in the late 60s decided it would be ever so cool to get rid of all that shame and taboo stuff surrounding sex with childrenRod Dreher, understandably but, I think mistakenly, sees this as having “paved the way” for pedophilia in the clergy.  I think that’s giving rather too much credit and power to a nutty German fringe group.  The problem of pedophilia in the clergy (and indeed of pedophilia throughout the human race) is one that antedates 1968.  However, what the article does do is demonstrate how our cultural elites intend to approach the question in the future.  Here’s the money quote:

“Does what happened in a number of the Kinderladen qualify as abuse? According to the criteria to which Catholic priests have been subjected, it clearly does, says Alexander Schuller, the sociologist. “Objectively speaking, it was abuse, but subjectively it wasn’t,” says author Dannenberg. As outlandish as it seems in retrospect, the parents apparently had the welfare of the children in mind, not their own. For the adherents to the new movement, the child did not serve as a sex object to provide the adults with a means of satisfying their sexual urges. This differentiates politically motivated abuse from pedophilia.”

What this means, as with the case of Roman Polanski, is that our Leftist arbiters of Correct Thought don’t really have all that much of a problem with sex with children, so long as it happens on their terms.  If you do it with “the welfare of the children in mind” then it’s A OK.  Prescinding from the fact that every pervert in the world says he does what he does for the good of his victim (“She really wanted it”/”I’m just trying to show that boy that sex is normal and healthy”), what a quote like this signifies is the radical inability of lefty media to make moral judgments.  German perverts “meant well” so we are to cut them some slack.  Indeed, in the post-modern world where consent is the sole criterion of the good our average lefty libertine has no means whatsoever to say that the German perverts were perverts.  So we get half-baked apologies about how they “meant well” alloyed with the uneasy sense that nobody’s buying that—and that people who don’t buy it are “judgmental” for clinging to such taboos.

Only one exception is made: Pope Benedict XVI, the one guy who has actually done more than anybody else to clean up the perversions that had been practiced and protected by an institutional structure.  Against him, every rumor and murky attempt at character assassination has been fair game.  But even in this we see a sort of back-handed testimony to the uniqueness of the Church.  For the attacks from lefty media attest to the fact that the one basis for attacking the Church is its own moral code.  You can’t complain of the perverts in the Church that they fail to measure up to the rigorous standards of Roman Polanski and Woody Allen whom you lionize and excuse.  You have to say that the Church’s own moral teaching is what bad priests and bishops fail to honor. 

The problem, of course, is that this moral code is precisely what our lefty libertines wish to see swept away.  So they wind up writing the sort of gibberish we see above to exculpate Roman Polanski and make excuses for “well-meaning” German perverts and distinguish them from priestly perverts.  It makes no sense, but then sin never does.  Suffice it to say that the day is coming when our Manufacturers of Culture will condemn the Church, not for permitting pedophilia, but for condemning it.  Large numbers of the Church’s critics see abused children, not as abused children, but as human shields for attacking the Church.  That’s why they only care about Catholic abused children and pay no attention to the reality of, for instance, abused children in public schools or, worse, make excuses for it when the culprits are German lefties.

The Devil’s Tabernacle

July 17, 2010


The pious Lutheran pastor may have had a point. He said the television set was “the devil’s tabernacle.” Some would say he was prescient when he made the observation in the early 1950s. Others would say that “Howdy Doody” and “Leave It to Beaver” and “The Milton Berle Show” (not to mention the “Fulton Sheen” program) were not the stuff of the devil. But today with a series like “Sex In the City” and the adult movies (also known as “arrested-adolescent-sexuality movies”) of expanded cable, few souls could argue with the pastor’s prediction.

Perhaps the pastor did not intend his “devil’s tabernacle” epithet as a prediction. Maybe he understood something about the obsessions of fallen human nature. To be single-minded in the face of danger or opportunity may be virtuous. While any fixation that displaces Christ as the source and summit of one’s life is diabolical, many fixations risk becoming the “devil’s tabernacle”: television, the stock market, hobbies and even human relationships. 

In this week’s Gospel, Christ visits two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha has a fixation of the moment. She is “burdened with much serving” while Mary “sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.” Martha complains, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” There is irony in the request. Mary seems to be suggesting that the Lord is part of the problem, allowing Mary to relax in His presence. Martha is demanding that Jesus fix the problem He Himself allowed through presumed indulgence. Martha, like many mothers, suspected Mary and her Guest were taking her good work for granted. 

Christ responds gently (notice the kindly repetition of Martha’s name) but firmly: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Always the master of the moment, Jesus sees Martha’s problem for what it is. It is clearly not her busy work of preparation. The problem identified by Christ is Martha’s fixation on anxiety and worry. Her obsession was so untoward that it rose to impatience and resentment and likely some jealousy. One supposes Martha wanted Mary to abandon their divine Guest (perhaps to play solitaire) and help with the work of food preparation. 

Food preparation is very important. Ask any priest. But listening to the words of Christ is “the better part.” Ask any (please God) priest. This passage traditionally has become a helpful launching pad to discuss the superiority of the contemplative life over the active life. This is not to disparage the active life in any way. But the contemplative life gives direction to one’s active life (much as the logistical support of an army supports the purposes of soldiers). This distinction is found also in the Book of Genesis. God “works” for six days and “rests” on the seventh, giving man a rule of life. Our work not only is meant to sustain us, but also to direct us to rest and worship on Sunday. 

In this fallen world there are many distractions and distortions. Work can become an end in itself — a diabolical object of worship — rather than a necessary and praiseworthy means leading to worship. Similarly other events and conditions of life easily become ends in themselves, or obsessions and fixations. Martha was “anxious and worried about many things.” She was obsessed with worry and made it a kind of “devil’s tabernacle” of alternative worship. Her anxieties displaced Christ, who literally stood before her as the center of her life. 

Most of us have a good deal of sympathy for Martha because like her we have our own fixations. In honesty Martha’s preoccupation represents us and our inclinations more than the devotion of Mary. We are anxious about our jobs, our health, our opportunities and our relationships. We too easily forget the loving providence of the Lord while turning over our lives to obsessions and anxieties. 

In connection with the devil’s tabernacle and the false worship of our anxieties, elsewhere in the Gospel, Christ is clear: 

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Mt 6:25-34). Source: Catholic Exchange

What’s an Anti-Catholic Catholic?

July 16, 2010

There’s an intriguing phenomena going on in the culture these days. Over the past several weeks, I’ve read a variety of articles by “Catholics” who to want to define, for themselves, what the word “Catholic” means.

Most recently, writer Charles Pierce, takes this topic up in his lengthy Boston Globe article, “What I Believe.”

“The institutional Catholic Church, for me, has no concrete form, no physical structure, no hierarchy except that of ideas,” Pierce states in the article. He continues, “Even my attendance at Mass is largely contemplative, the priest presiding in a supervisory capacity, his authority dependent wholly on the primacy of my individual conscience.”

In other words, for Pierce, the Church has no authority other than that which he himself deems to give it.

In the article, Pierce goes on to quote Catholics such as Garry Willis and Father Richard McBrien in support of his idea that the hierarchical Church is dead and “irrelevant.”

He quotes McBrien as saying that, ‘the hierarchy is largely irrelevant to any intelligent, educated Catholic.’ That’s curious, given that as a priest of Christ’s Church, Father McBrien himself is part of the hierarchy. Using logic, one could conclude that if Father McBrien were correct, then he himself is irrelevant.

Pierce says that the most fundamental rule of his “Catholicism” is that, “nobody gets to tell me that I’m not a Catholic” – no priest, no bishop, not even the Pope.

He even goes on to say that while he’s still a practicing Catholic, that he’s grown up to become “an anti-Catholic Catholic.”

Perhaps because the Catholic Church is something Pierce was born into, he feels he has the freedom to define for himself what it means to be “Catholic.” As a Catholic convert, I know differently. It wasn’t until I was able to say that I believed everything that the Church taught and believed, and was thinking with the Church, that I was permitted to join her. I’d like to think that anyone claiming to be an “anti-Catholic Catholic” is actually Protestant.

Coming into the Church meant believing that which Christ and His Church proposes to teach and believe. It meant being humble enough to admit that I do not have all the answers, but being willing to submit to a higher authority. It meant being part of a community, a vast communion made up of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone on before, the Saints and angels, the Holy Father and the magisterial Church, the College of Cardinals, bishops, priests and deacons that surround him.

Reading Pierce’s definition it’s difficult to imagine anyone – an apostle or saint – laying down their life for the kind of Church he describes.

Pierce wants a Church without a hierarchy. He doesn’t believe that there’s an authority, outside of himself, that can tell him what he can or cannot do. He wants Christ without His Church, which really isn’t possible.

The key thing that Pierce is protesting is buried midway through the article. There, he speaks of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae.

“Catholics discovered that they could ignore the pope in good conscience and remain Catholics, not matter how many people told them they couldn’t,” writes Pierce.

Reading that, I was reminded of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin’s wonderful letter to Representative Patrick Kennedy of last year. It’s worth quoting from at length.

In that letter, Bishop Tobin takes the time to define what it means to be Catholic.

Quoting from Kennedy, Bishop Tobin writes: ‘The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.’

“Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does,” responds Bishop Tobin. “Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church.”

Bishop Tobin points out that it isn’t just one’s baptism, one’s family ties, or one’s cultural heritage that makes one Catholic.

“Being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations,” Bishop Tobin writes. “It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.”

It’s a great definition. And one that’s worth repeating, over and over and over again.

Source: National Catholic Register