24 October 2009

A Parable

A passenger jet carrying about 250 people is forced by a hurricane to crash land on a remote island.*

Most of the passengers and the flight crew safely evacuate to the beach to ride out the storm.

After a couple of days, the hurricane abates and three members of the flight crew climb the small mountain back to the crashed jet in an attempt to contact help with the cockpit radio.

The crew is gone for two days.  In the meantime, another hurricane hits the island.  When the three crew members fail to return after four days, a small party of passengers climb the mountain and discover that the storm has caused an avalanche and killed the three crew members.  The radio has been destroyed as well.

The passenger-rescue party find three notebooks bound together with a rubber-band and sealed in a heavy-duty plastic bag.  They take the notebooks back to the beach and begin trying to decipher the scribbled notes.  Soon, all agree that the crew members were taking notes on a proposed rescue plan.  But it is unclear whether they themselves were planning a possible rescue scenario, or if they were taking notes on a plan proposed via radio by authorities on the mainland.

The notes indicated that the stranded passengers and crew would have to undertake several arduous tasks in order for any rescue attempt to succeed.  In fact, these tasks would not only deplete their limited food and water reserves, but also place all of them in danger of injury and death.

Two groups quickly formed around two possible interpretations of the three notebooks.  One group, the Rescue Realists (RR), argue that the notes themselves indicate that the crew had been in contact with the mainland and that they should do everything necessary to complete the tasks in order to be rescued.

The Rescue Anti-Realists (RAR) argue that the notes indicate nothing more than a plan to be proposed by the crew to make sure that the stranded people worked together as a cohesive group in order to maintain civilized behavior and the hope of rescue.  Given the obvious tentative tone of the notes, the more dangerous tasks are interpreted as merely brainstorming suggestions rather than requirements to be met for rescue.

Since the radio had been destroyed, there was no viable means of verifying the RR interpretation.  However, the RR camp argues that to ignore the plan would be tantamount to suicide, so the whole group should immediately begin the tasks so as to maximize their chances of rescue.

The RAR argue that since there is no way of verifying the RR interpretation, it would be wiser to ignore those tasks that directly threaten their limited resources and focus only on those tasks that would keep the group together as a community until they were rescued, if they were rescued.

The following are givens:

1). There is no viable, external means of verifying either interpretation.

2). Both interpretations would work to keep the group together as a community.

3). Neither interpretation guarantees rescue, injury/death, or an unusual depletion of resources.  Though everyone agrees that the RR interpretation is more dangerous and likely to deplete supplies more quickly. 

Given all of this, which interpretative group would you join and why?

*This parable is adapted from one proposed by Paul Moser to explain the difference between theological realism and theological anti-realism.  He sees the difference as primarily one of epistemology, that is, what can we know about God and how?


Great vid! Some of the language may not be appropriate for everyone. . .

Well, well. . .HancAquam is #18!

 Top 25 Catholic Websites

1.  EWTNews - 4,038
2.  American Papist by Thomas Peters - 1,466
3.  New Advent - 702
4.  What Does The Prayer Really Say? - 278
5.  Catholic Church Conservation - 197
6.  The American Catholic - 121
7.  The Curt Jester by Jeff Miller - 91
8.  Jimmy Akin - 88
9.  Conversion Diary - 83
10.  Whispers in the Loggia - 74
11.  Holy Smoke by Damian Thompson - 51
12.  Per Christum - 48
13.  Inside Catholic - 38
14.  The Black Cordelias - 36
15.  RORATE CÆLI - 34
15.  The Hermeneutic of Continuity - 34
17.  Pro Ecclesia by Jay Anderson - 20
18.  Vatican YouTube Channel - 19
18.  CVSTOS FIDEI - 19
18.  Steve Skojec - 19
18.  PewSitter News - 19
18.  Domine, da mihi hanc aquam! - 19
23.  New Liturical Movement - 18
24.  National Catholic Register’s Daily Blog – 16
24.  Creative Minority Report - 16

Why are liberal cities so white?

Funny thing. . .turns out that all those Leftie Prog cities that the eco-weirdos love so much are really, really, really white.  I don't mean shiny clean. . .I mean White. . .as in mostly Lily White People.

Figures the Lefties would find a way to couch their racist white-flight in terms of "saving the planet."


23 October 2009

Coffee Bowl Browsing (A.D.D. Edition)

Well, it's not a Chinese buffet. . .but close!

Ten for $10, or five for $8. . .no refunds.

Very sick. . .but also true.

He wants to borrow your camera. . .but he has no thumbs.

Off to the gym. . .in 1909.

Ahhhhhh, so this is where the Italians get their driver's license. . .

Don't watch this if farm animals and yoga teachers creep you out. . .

Zombies hold a car wash fundraiser. . .to buy more brains.

Fun before death. . .horrible, agonizing death.

I don't know what this means. . .but it's funny anyway.

Yea, they're gross. . .but vanilla ice cream helps a lot.

The Dark Lord has lost it. . .Vader does Carmen.

Oops. . .someone burned the roast again.

Anglican Welcome Poll

Is the Holy Father's welcome to traditionalists Anglicans. . .

...an act of a true pastor.

...a good thing but not a big deal.

...a nice gesture that will go unanswered by most.

...an act of poaching.

...a declaration of war against revisionists.

...a confusing mess for canon lawyers and bishops.


pollcode.com free polls

Dominican sister helps out at abortion clinic (UPDATED)

[UPDATE:  A number of readers have written to ask me about contacting Quinn's superior or Cardinal George.  The LifeSiteNews story includes the contact info for both.  However, if you read the whole article linked below, you will see that sister's prioress is well-aware of her activities and defends her.  Quinn has been involved in supporting abortion for years.  There's nothing new here.  At most a letter or email will get you "thank you for your concern" note in response.  Please don't expect anything more than that.  In my experience dealing with dissenters, notes of outrage only fuel their view of themselves as martrys.  Also, please note that Quinn is a sister not a nun.  Dominican nuns are not in the business of helping mothers kill their children. . .nor are a vast majority of sisters.]

Next time some "Spirit of Vatican Two" Catholic sputters and whines about the injustice of the Vatican investigating U.S. religious women, point them to this article from LifeSiteNews.com:

HINSDALE, Illinois, October 23, 2009: A Dominican nun [sic] has been seen frequenting an abortion facility in Illinois recently - but not, as one might expect, to pray for an end to abortion or to counsel women seeking abortions, but to volunteer as a clinic escort.

Local pro-life activists say that they recognized the escort at the ACU Health Center as Sr. Donna Quinn, a nun [sic] outspokenly in favor of legalized abortion, after seeing her photo in a Chicago Tribune article. . .

This is beyond scandalous.  Donna do doubt believes that she is truly doing God's work by helping these mothers kill their children.  

But what drove her to this dark place. . .radical feminism, of course:

In a 2002 address to the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, Sr. Quinn described how she came to view the teachings of her Church as "immoral": "I used to say: 'This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,'" she said. "Then later I said, 'This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I'd better work to change it.' More recently, I am saying, 'All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.'"

Quinn called gender discrimination "the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world," and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for "the sisterhood."

"Gets 'em every time," snickers Wormwood!

Bridge over Anglican waters...

I've rec'd a lot of questions about the practicalities of the Holy Father's invitation to traditionalist Anglicans to join Mother Church.

I will attempt to answer them with these provisos:  1) I am not canon lawyer; 2) and the apostolic constitution has not been published.

1).  What's the difference between the current pastoral provisions for allowing married Anglican clergy to become Catholic priests and this new arrangement?

Under the pastoral provisions of John Paul II a married Anglican priest may be admitted to Catholic Holy Orders at the discretion of a local bishop.  He will have to take some classes and pass a few exams before ordination.  After ordination, he can be assigned to a Catholic parish as an administrator or associate pastor.  He may not serve as a pastor.  Whole Anglican parishes may come over as well and be included in what is called "Anglican Use" parishes.  These parishes use a version of the Book of Common Prayer for their liturgies and are usually served by a former Anglican priest.  In all cases, the individual priest and the parish remain under the direct jurisdiction of the local bishop.

Benedict is changing this up by placing converted Anglican clergy and parishes under the jurisdiction of their own Ordinaries; that is, an Anglican Use parish served by a former Anglican priest will not answer to the local Roman Catholic bishop but rather serve under an Ordinary who was also once an Anglican priest or bishop.  This means that in any given diocese, there can be an Ordinary for the Latin Catholics (always a bishop) and an Ordinary for the local Anglican Use Catholics (can be a celibate bishop, a celibate priest, or a married priest, all of whom were once Anglican clerics).  Every geographical diocese already has a number of Ordinaries.  One is a Latin Rite bishop, another may be a Ukrainian Rite bishop, or a Byzantine Rite bishop.  What Benedict seems to be doing is establishing the first non-Latin rite in communion with Rome that comes out of the Reformation. 

2).  Can boys who grow up in one of these Anglican Use parishes become married priests?

That is unclear.  My guess is that the marriage provision applies only to converts not those who will be baptized in the Anglican Use rite as children.  I doubt very seriously that Rome will allow the Holy Father's offer to become a permanently opened backdoor for an across-the-board married Latin Rite priesthood. 

3).  Will these former Anglicans be real Roman Catholics?  I mean, do they have to accept Church teaching in every way?

Yes.  Without a doubt they will have to accept as true all the teachings of the Church.  Rome is not going to let them fudge on hot-button issues like contraception, papal primacy and infallibility, and Marian dogma.  They will have to become fully Roman Catholic.  The word is that they will sign copies of the Catechism rather than just make a statement of faith as is the norm now for Anglican converts.

4).  Doesn't this offer from the Pope ruin ecumenical dialogue with the Church of England and the Episcopal Church?

Some certainly think so.  I don't.  We can continue talking to anyone we please.  Most professional ecumenists see their job as an effort to find ways of bringing two churches together in some sort of theological or ecclesial compromise.  We'll drop doctrine X if your accept doctrine Y.  This is not the Church's teaching on how to do ecumenical dialogue.  Dialogue with other ecclesial communities is not about diluting the tradition just so we can all say that we belong to the same institution.  Benedict's offer to the Anglican is truly ecumenical because he has waived certain non-essential requirements for admission into the Church.  He has made it simpler to become Catholic, not simpler to just join a compromised tradition.  Catholic ecumenists are a little upset with all this because they sometimes see these dialogues as a backdoor means of liberalizing Catholic teaching.  They also don't like the fact that Benedict's offer is unilateral, that is, not negotiated with the official Anglican bodies.  The assumption here is that Rome should have treated Canterbury as an ecclesial equal rather than the usurper it is. 

5).  Does this move hurt our relations with the Orthodox?

Hardly.  By allowing married Anglican clergy to become Catholic priests but not bishops, the Holy Father is sending a clear signal to the Orthodox that the ancient tradition of a celibate episcopacy will be maintained.  If anything, the offer will strengthen our ties to the Orthodox (a very, very good thing!).  It has become painfully clear in the last few decades that organic union with the mainstream of Protestantism is not going to happen.  The divisions have been widened over the years by women's ordination, same-sex activism, and other radical changes in the catholic tradition.  Rome cannot alter the essentials even if she wanted to.   And most liberal Protestants are too entrenched in their modernist heresies to accept Roman authority anyway.  Our only hope for reunion now is with the traditional Anglicans and the Orthodox.  This is one of the projects of the current pope.

6).  Why not set up a Jewish Use parish, or a Buddhist Use parish?  They don't hold Catholic beliefs either.

I'll treat this as a serious question.  Obviously, Jews and Buddhists aren't Christians.  The Church has never said that Anglicans, Methodists, Quakers, etc. are not Christians.  They do not hold to the fullness of the apostolic faith found in the Catholic Church, but they are baptized Christians.  Jews, Buddhists, atheists, animists are all welcomed to become Catholic any time they choose to.  Christ's offer of salvation with his Church is universal.

I will post more on this issue once the constitution is published.  One friar noted yesterday that the Vatican is holding on to the constitution in order to gauge public reaction to the Pope's offer.  The idea is to let the notion percolate, listen for issues not raised or discussed in the private deliberations, and make any changes necessary.  Smart move, if true.

B.O.'s media bullying of FOX fails. . .miserably

The Most Transparent and Open Administration EVAH! tried to bar FoxNews from the press pool that covers this most translucent, illustriously tolerant White House.

It didn't work.

To their credit, the other news organizations refused to go along with B.O.'s bullying and threatened to pull their reporters if Fox was excluded.  As usual, confront a bully and he'll back down--they are basically cowards at heart.

Never one to say anything nice about the NYT, I will nonetheless gratefully acknowledge the Times' role in exposing B.O.'s thuggery

The current take on the White House's war with FoxNews is that the bumbling crew of the West Wing hoped to dissuade their media minions from picking up on stories Fox is reporting. 

Again, it didn't work.

Let's hope and pray that the MSM has grown tired of B.O.'s petulance.  Maybe they'll start doing their jobs now.

22 October 2009

Awake! Awake! To set the bowls for leaks!*

For once this week I was sleeping well. . .only to be awakened at 3am by an annoying dripping sound.

I got up to discover that it was raining outside. . .and in my room.

At this moment there are eight leaks in my ceiling.  Are they dripping over the sink?  No.  The middle of the room?  No.  How about near the door or window?  No.

All eight are concentrated over my bookshelf and desk.  Of course.  Where else?

Siamo in Italia!

For the last two weeks a crew of roofers has been crawling over scaffolding right outside my window repairing the roof. . .allegedly.  They "work" from about 8.30am to 11.00 and then again from about 3.30pm to 4.00.  And only on days beginning with "T."  As far as I can tell "repairing the roof" in Italian means a lot of yelling, lots of milling about smoking, and the occasional burst of hammering between coffee breaks.  Must be union labor.

Anyway, this makes me very cranky b/c it means that I have to stay in my room to make sure no new leaks spring up to ruin my books or the electronics on my desk.

Last November the leaks were right over my bed, which meant rearranging the furniture.  That was no big deal, really.  I'm not all that concerned about losing a mattress or some bed linens.  But my BOOKS!!!  Now, you're threatening my children, buddy.  And Papa Bear ain't happy about that.  

Fortunately, it never rains in Rome for long.

*Ten brownie points to anyone who can identify the allusion here.

21 October 2009

Simply Catholic: Cardinal George on the liberal project

In 1966, the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, read a paper at a conference held at Johns Hopkins titled, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences."  Thus was the American academy introduced to the corrosive influence of deconstuction's radical skepticism about the ability of language to convey truth.  The history of the liberal arts in the U.S. since 1966 has been a long, sad story of decline into relativistic chaos and left-wing political manipulation.  Deconstruction is essentially (no pun) a machine of critique.  It is conceptually incapable of building anything.  It can only destroy.

In 1998, Francis Cardinal George stunned a congregation at Old St. Patrick's with this line delivered in his homily:  "Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project."  Later, he was asked to elaborate and did so at a Commmonweal forum held at Loyola University in 1999.

An except from his elaboration:

"We are at a turning point in the life of the church in this country. Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project. Essentially a critique, even a necessary critique at one point in our history, it is now parasitical on a substance that no longer exists. It has shown itself unable to pass on the faith in its integrity and inadequate, therefore, in fostering the joyful self-surrender called for in Christian marriage, in consecrated life, in ordained priesthood. It no longer gives life."

What started as a much-needed critical review of Church doctrine and practice in the late 19th century, peaked in the documents of Vatican Two, and found its most strident voices in the 70's and 80's has become the sterilizing practice of postmodern dissent and heresy.  The "necessary critique" of manual Thomism and semi-Janenist moral practice in the Church is indeed now "parasitical."

Just as deconstruction demolished the absurd pretenses of liberal western culture and literature with its relentless attack on language, and now sits like a bloated toad on the university quad poisoning everything in its reach, the Spirit of Vatican Two refreshed a moribund institutional Church only to find itself haunting a decimated and demoralized body of believers.

Lest we think the cure is nostalgia, Cardinal George quickly adds:

"The answer, however, is not to be found in a type of conservative Catholicism obsessed with particular practices and so sectarian in its outlook that it cannot serve as a sign of unity of all peoples in Christ."

We cannot rebuild the Church if the only vision of the Church we can see and communicate is the Church as it was in the 1800's.  The liberal project (exemplified by Newman) pushed the Church to engage the world in terms foreign to its basic philosophical foundations.  In taking on this challenge, the Church gained an incredibly fruitful means of evangelization that saw amazing results in the decades leading up to the Second Vatican Council.

Then, like most good things, one good thing was taken to be the only thing and aggressive, unrelenting critique became the mark of being a Catholic intellectual.  Left aside were the pesky admonitions of tradition, ecclesial authority, reason, and just plain good sense.  The only thing that came to matter was opposition to alleged oppression and the failure to be radical enough in one's take-down of the Church.  This is the intellectual equivalent of deciding to renovate your kitchen by demolishing your house and killing your family.

What both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have been trying to communicate to the Church and the world is this:  the time for critical demolition is over.  That project is done.  It is time to retire the dynamite, return the bulldozer, fire the demolition crews, and start to rebuild on the foundation left for us by the apostles.  At the very least, this means a return to the documents of Vatican Two, read and implemented through their continuity with the tradition and reason.  They are not calling us back to an uncritical embrace of Baroque Thomism and manual moralism.  Nor are they asking us to live in the illusions of a warmed-over 1950's nostalgia.  All they are asking the Church to do is start in the present, look back to where we came from and forward to where we are going without getting lost in the bitterness and cynicism that a life of complaint and opposition engenders.

Is that so hard?

Lambeth not happy. . .but why?

Damien Thompson is reporting that Lambeth Palace (the Anglican Vatican) opposed yesterday's generous offer by the Holy Father to take their troublesome traditionalists off their hands. 

I'm not sure why.

It's a win-win for Rome and Canterbury.  Rome gets lots of new, orthodox Catholics, including many extremely well-educated priests.  Canterbury gets rid of one of the many traditionalist thorns digging into its postmodernist skin. 

The only losers in this move by the Holy Father are the left-lib bishops, priests, and institutional dissenters of England & Wales.  There will now be lots of alternatives available to faithful Catholics who are fed up with The Tablet * Church in the U.K.  Catholics who are weary of being told that their Anglican Betters are clearing the path ahead of them toward a Better Roman Church will now have the choice to join a parish that preaches and teaches the Sacred Tradition and not the Latest Thing from the Holy Zeitgeist. 

And since faithful Catholics are the ones actually going to Mass and having kids, it won't take long before all those beautiful buildings we "donated" to Henry VIII and his wives become available. . .assuming, of course, the Church of England doesn't sell them all off to the Muslims as community centers before then.

* The Tablet is the U.K.'s version of America Magazine and the National Catholic Reporter.  Think: Richard McBrien and Joan Chitisster with really posh Brit accents.

Deadlines & Prayer

Time to storm heaven with prayer, Faithful Readers!

I have a writing/deadline schedule from my thesis director:

Chapters One and Two:  Nov 8th
Chapters Three-Five:  Dec 8th 

This schedule will get me done in time to spend about a month studying for comps and the French exam.  Since I am a fast writer, the deadlines will be no problem at all.  However, I am the Platonic Form of All Procrastination in the Known Universe.  So, please pray for persistence in study, strength to write, and a sense of joy in what I am doing.

Knowing that I cannot start teaching again until I have the Ph.L. in hand is a great motivator to finish.  Knowing that you are praying for me is greater still.

Mille grazie!

Coffee Bowl Browsing (I'm Procrastinating Edition)

And you thought that you could die happy w/o seeing a pic of Salvador Dali and his anteaters!

Google:  love it, use it, fear it.

Ahhhh, the multiform talents of all God's creatures. . .

Can you hear me now?

Re-writing children's books for fun and profit. . .and just plain meanness.

A bathroom not made for us Ample Friars

Today's Homer Simpson moment:   Ummmmmm, Spammmmm.

Mickey and his homies are tired of your lip. . .

Haunted by a Holy Ghost?  Who you gonna call?! 

This pic made me reach for the Holy Water and the Rite of Exorcism. . .the Power of Christ compels you. . .to get a life. . .and a job. . .and take a shower.

There's milk sold before the expiration date. . .and then there's Fresh Milk.

Our future:  Ninja Kitty attacks Zombie Toddler. . .oh, the humanity!

This is the road to the local Poste Italiane office.

Haute cuisine in Japan:  Ocular sushi

20 October 2009

Dominican Litany Brings Anglicans Home to Rome

Faith Flaherty, OP Laywoman Extraordinaire, shares this email from the Undersecretary for the CDF, Archbishop Gus DiNoia, OP (via facebook):

Today there was announced -- at press conferences in Rome and London -- the forthcoming publication of an apostolic constitution in which the Holy Father allows for the creation of personal ordinariates for groups of Anglicans in different parts of the world who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. The canonical structure of the personal ordinariate will permit this corporate reunion while at the same time providing for retention of elements of Anglican liturgy and spirituality.

When I asked the friars (and other OP's --Ed.) to pray the Dominican litany from 22 February to 25 March earlier this year, the intention was that this proposal would receive the approval of the cardinal members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which was necessary if the proposal of some structure allowing for corporate reunion was to go forward. Our prayers at that time were answered, and now that the proposal has become a reality we can tell everyone what we were praying for then.


+Abp. J Augustine Di Noia, OP

The Dominican Litany has a long history of being used to give God thanks and praise for His many blessings.  If I'm not mistaken, it was once used to thank God in advance for the election of a particularly excellent cardinal as Pope.  Ahem.  As Faith notes, "Beware the Dominican litany!"

NB.  I've always thought it would be great to be a Vicar of a small, rural Anglican parish.   But the thought of having to deal with the crazies that run the Episcopal Church made the idea poisonous.  But now. . .hmmmmmm. . .who knows?  "Parson Philip"?  "Vicar Powell"?  Sounds nice, uh?  

Will the bishops learn?

Let's see if the world's bishop will learn their lesson now. . .

In the mid-80's Pope John Paul II asked bishops to be generous in permitting traditionalist Catholics to celebrate the Tridentine Rite.

They weren't.  In fact, most of them were downright obstructive.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI gave us Summorum Pontificum, which takes the decision of whether or not to allow the celebration of the Tridentine Rite (a.k.a. "the Extraordinary Form") out of the bishops' hands.

In 1994, Pope John Paul II asked the bishops of England & Wales to be generous in receiving into the ranks of the isle's Catholic clergy those Anglican priests who were disaffected by the Church of England's decision to ordain women.

They weren't.  In fact, most of them were downright obstructive.

Today, Pope Benedict XVI gave us the Personal Anglican Ordinariate, a canonical work-around the isle's notoriously liberal hierarchy that allows Anglicans fed up with Canterbury's silly innovations to govern themselves within the RCC but without interference from said lib hierarchy.

The lesson here, boy and girls?

When the Holy Father asks you to do something. . .just do it, or it will be done for you.

Anglicans coming home. . .(UPDATED)

On the recent announcement from Rome and Canterbury:  what does it all mean?!

Don't know just yet.  We have to wait for the publication of the Apostolic Constitution to get the details.

Generally speaking, the Holy Father has made it possible for Anglicans fed up with the silliness of their Ecclesial Betters to come into full communion with Rome while retaining much of their beloved Anglican tradition (e.g., the Prayer Book, their music, etc.).  This is basically what has been happening on a much smaller scale in the "Anglican Use" movement in the U.S.

An Episcopalian parish votes to leave its diocese and petitions the Catholic bishop for admission into full communion.  With property, priest, and prayer book in hand, the whole parish becomes Catholic.  With a few modifications in the Prayer Book (and the pastor!), the parish is now a Catholic parish with a decidedly Anglican flavor. 

If the Episcopalian priest is married, he remains married (of course!).  But so long as his wife is living he may not be appointed bishop.  After her death, he may not remarry.

What today's move does is set up a parallel jurisdiction within the RCC run by the former Anglicans themselves.  Leadership would come from an "ordinary," a former Anglican clergyman who is now a Catholic clergyman.  Currently married Anglican priests will be ordained into the priesthood, while bishops will have to be celibate.

A sure indicator that this is the right move is the pinched, huffy response from The Tablet and NCR(ag) commenters.  They don't much like it. . .so, it must be a good thing.

Also, this is great news for those Catholics who are regularly stuck with the choice of going to Mass at either Our Lady of the Dancing Liturgical Clowns, or the local Newman Center where Fr. Hollywood passes the Spirit of Vatican Two peace bong right before the readings from Oprah's latest televised drivel.  If there's an "Anglican Use" parish nearby, they will find reverent liturgy, orthodox preaching, and a lot of really excellent fellowship. . .all without being beaten over the head with leftie "social justice" nonsense. 

Many, many questions remain about exactly how all of this will operate. . .we'll just have to wait and see.

UPDATE:  Creative Minority Report has the most comprehensive report on the Rome-Canterbury doings from yesterday.  Of particular note is the truly orthodox nature of the ecumenism involved in this generous offer from the Holy Father.  Professional ecumenists must be gnashing their teeth--"Why! The ecumenical movement is all about using the need for unity as a front for diluting Catholic doctrine and practice!  How dare the Pope actually bring people into the Church w/o altering Catholic doctrine or practice!"  

U.K. Anglicans will be allowed to convert en masse!

Something Big is happening between Rome and Canterbury!

A simultaneous press conference is underway as I type this (11.21am) at the Vatican and at Lambeth Palace.

Speculation is that it will be announced that the Holy Father, Archbishop Rowan Williams, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols have reached some sort of agreement on allowing traditionalist Anglicans into Mother Church in the U.K.

Some have speculated that Rome is announcing the validity of Anglican Orders.  Fat chance.

We'll see in a few minutes what's going on. . .

UPDATE:   And. . .four minutes later we have a winner“In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.”

Good job!

Fr. Barron on the Investigations of Women Religious

Fr. Robert Barron comments on the Vatican investigation into the LWCR. . .

He mentions that a number of sisters and their defenders argue that the Vatican is pursuing its "inquisition" despite that fact that nuns and sisters have been the thankless, working backbone of the American Church from its inception.  He rightly points out that American priests and religious men have also worked tirelessly, thanklessly, and without much material compensation as well.  His point?  They all did it voluntarily.

I think it is also important to note that most of the sisters who complain about the investigations in these terms are not the sisters who actually did all that thankless work.  I doubt very seriously that many of the pros at the LCWR have spent much time teaching 3rd graders for little more than room and board.  The women who broke their backs for next to nothing are long gone.

During talks with a Catholic university for a teaching position, I was told that my salary and benefits would be based on the diocesan pay scale for priests.  This meant that I would be receiving about $20,000 less a year than a layperson with the same credentials.  "Layperson" here includes a religious sister.  So, for no other reason than that I am a priest, I would be paid significantly less than a sister for the same work.  Checking around at parishes where I know the pastor, the same is true there as well.  Religious women holding non-clerical jobs in the parish are paid more than a priest would be if he held the identical job.

What a lot of American religious women refuse to accept is that they are "The Man" now.   In terms of numbers, material wealth, influence in seminaries and formation houses, and in the media, they rule.  Their focus on having recognized institutional power (i.e. ordination) ignores the enormous power and influence they wield in virtue of their money, institutions, and tenured academic positions.  They are far, far from being oppressed or ignored by the hierarchy.  But. . .the "we are being oppressed" meme is central to their self-proclaimed roles as prophets crying in the wilderness.

(corrections made to this post to reflect the fact that US nuns are not part of the Vatican theological assessment)

19 October 2009

Waiting on the Lord is enough

29th Week OT (Tues): Readings
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Convento SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

If you have ever waited in a queue at the post office, or sat waiting on a doctor or dentist, or waited for a care package from home, you know too well the impatience that arises when what you need is within reach but still somehow not yet yours. More than just the aggravation and frustration of a not yet fulfilled desire, this sort of impatience is fed by the very real possibility of failure. The post office may close before your turn. The doctor may go home before seeing you. That care package from home might end up in customs, lost forever in a warehouse. Hoping for your turn, hoping to see the goodies from home is a game of chance, a small investment of patience on the chance for a little joy. That's why we wait. It's why we wait on the postal clerk, the dentist, the package. But when we are waiting on the mechanisms of the world to click around in our favor just one more time, our hope is a gamble, a leap in the dark with nothing but the dim light of the occasional happy experience at our backs. Vigilance can pay off. Hope with a 30% chance of light failure. However, when we wait on the Lord, when we are vigilant for his return, our waiting is a never gamble, never a game of chance. Waiting itself is an act of faith and a testament to the strength he has instilled in us. So, we wait in hope because it is our hope in him that saves us.

In his 2007 encyclical, Spe salvi, Pope Benedict XVI, writes, “Faith is not merely a personal reaching out towards things to come that are still totally absent: [faith] gives us something. It gives us even now something of the reality we are waiting for [. . .]”(7). To believe, to hope, to trust, to wait on the Lord's return is to serve him as if he reclines at table with us. He says to his disciples, “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” These faithful, hopeful servants are blessed even as they wait, and more so when he arrives among them. Their preparation to be of service is not a gamble but an act of worship. Their vigilance is made perfect in his presence.

Waking this morning to another chance to serve the Lord, waking and getting out of bed, getting up and going out, coming here to do what you have vowed to do as a servant of the Lord—all of these, together in one act of obedience to his call—shout out the refrain of the psalmist: “Here I am, Lord! I have come to do your will!” Stand in line, sit in class, attend a meeting, dig a ditch, diaper a baby, “gird your loins and light your lamps,” do whatever it is you will do today, but do it with the vigilance of one who hopes, one who trusts that waiting in service to the Lord is what brings the blessings of peace and the fulfillment of all your desires.

Rupture vs. Continuity: reading Vatican Two

Making the rounds in the Catholic blogosphere--the recently published pastor letter by the Most Rev. R Walker Nickless, bishop of Sioux City, "Ecclesia semper reformanda."

The Money Paragraph:

My brothers and sisters, let me say this clearly: The “hermeneutic of discontinuity” is a false interpretation and implementation of the Council and the Catholic Faith. It emphasizes the “engagement with the world” to the exclusion of the deposit of faith. This has wreaked havoc on the Church, systematically dismantling the Catholic Faith to please the world, watering down what is distinctively Catholic, and ironically becoming completely irrelevant and impotent for the mission of the Church in the world. The Church that seeks simply what works or is “useful” in the end becomes useless.

Like people, texts are conceived and born; however, they do not interpret themselves. Readers do. This is how the meaning and application of a text grows into the fullness of its potential. Every text has a compositional history, a record of its conception and birth. How readers come to a text as interpreters is the science and art of hermeneutics.

Pope Benedict XVI has argued that some interpreters of the documents of Vatican Two have used a "hermeneutics of rupture" to read and implement the teachings of the council fathers. Specifically, these interpreters have come to the documents with the pre-conceived notion that the fathers imperfectly inscribed in their texts a spirit of ecclesial revolution, a spirit of radical change and discontinuity with the sacred tradition handed on in all previous ecumenical councils. With these unusual reading glasses perched on their nose, the revolutionaries read the documents and see only the upheaval of tradition, the overthrow of authority, and the tilling of the fertile ground of "starting over again."

Since their hermeneutic is disruptive, any text that appears to affirm or reinforce tradition is read as a failure to inscribe adequately the spirit of revolution that gave birth to the idea of the Council in the later '50's. Since they cannot dismiss these affirmations outright, mentions of tradition or continuity are placed under suspicion and interpreted as merely necessary political concessions to conservative reactionaries and curial stalwarts. Renewal then becomes a matter of reading and implementing the intentions of the Council fathers in light of a vaguely defined, endlessly malleable "spirit of reform." We've tasted the fruits of this hermeneutic and the resulting indigestion still plagues us.

Our Holy Father, Benedict, has called upon all Catholics, especially theologians, to read and interpret the documents of the Council within a "hermeneutic of continuity;" that is, to approach the documents as developments, elaborations, and extensions of the sacred tradition secured in all previously promulgated conciliar documents. This stalls two extremes in the interpretative process: 1) textual fundamentalism and 2) unchecked interpretative license.

Supporters of the "Spirit of Vatican Two" hermeneutic of rupture fear that recent efforts to rehabilitate the documents themselves as the only authoritative source for the council's teachings frequently point to the dangers of textual fundamentalism. They are not wrong. There is a very real danger that relying on the texts themselves will produce a narrow, unwarranted legalism, a kind of juridical straitjacket that suffocates legitimate renewal. However, attempts to move beyond the texts almost always betray the intentions of the Council fathers as expressed in those same texts. Too often appeals to the "Spirit of Vatican Two" are little more than efforts to supplant the Holy Spirit with the zeitgeist, the Spirit of the Age.

As always, the balance is found in the Church. As the magister of the tradition, the Church, especially in the teaching offices of the bishops and the Holy Father, mediates and decides what is and is not consistent with the tradition as we have it. Without the magisterium to set the standards and evaluate both the processes and the products of theological reflection, anything goes and then everything goes. . .straight to Hell. Every reader becomes his/her own private authority, every interpretation takes on the shine of truth. We need only glance at the recent history of the Anglican Communion to witness the disaster such a surrender to ecclesial egalitarianism causes.

Recent efforts by the Holy Father and others to re-establish the authority of the original texts is not about removing the Council from its immediate historical context in order to foster a textual fundamentalism. Rather, the Holy Father and his theological allies are attempting to ensure that the Council documents are read, interpreted, and implemented in the much broader context found in the long history of conciliar teaching. While the "Spirit of Vatican Two" readers would have us limit the interpretative context to the history, philosophy, and theology of the middle-late 20th century, the hermeneutic of continuity demands that we start at the beginning of salvation history and place every document in its proper magisterial context. Sacrosanctum concilium, Lumen Gentium, etc. do not reveal anything new about God or His Church. Nor do they require the Church to radically alter anything about the Truths we know. What they do is elaborate on and develop our understanding of God's Self-revelation found in scripture, creation, and Christ Jesus himself.

18 October 2009

The Lion, the Pacifist, and FoxNews

Turn-about is fair play. . .

A Prius driver is passing the zoo, when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents and a group of schoolchildren.

The driver jumps out of his Prius, jogs to the cage and begins a compassionate dialogue with the lion.   Agreeing to a moratorium on human slaughter, the lion retreats, letting go of the girl and the driver brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly. A FoxNews reporter has watched the whole event. The reporter says, "Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I saw a man do in my whole life."

The Prius driver replies, "Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was behind bars. I just saw this child in danger, and acted non-violently as any pacifist should. Right." The reporter says, "Well, I'm a journalist from FoxNews, and tomorrow's news show will have this story on-air. . .So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?"

The driver replies, "I'm a U.N. peace negotiator and a Democrat." The following morning the driver clicks on his TV to see if it indeed brings news of his deed.  Sure enough, American Morning begins:

"Obamacrat internationalist uses rescue as a chance to indoctrinate schoolchildren with anti-American pacifism; will Obama appoint a Zoo Czar?

Truth without homage

Preaching at St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, England on Epiphany Sunday in 1839, the Rev'd John Newman (still an Anglican priest at the time) in a homily titled, "Faith and Reason, contrasted as habits of the mind," gets it exactly right:

For is not this the error, the common and fatal error, of the world, to think itself a judge of Religious Truth without preparation of heart? [. . .] Gross eyes see not; heavy ears hear not. But in the schools of the world the ways towards Truth are considered high roads open to all men, however disposed, at all times. Truth is to be approached without homage. Every one is considered on a level with his neighbour; or rather the powers of the intellect, acuteness, sagacity, subtlety, and depth, are thought the guides into Truth. Men consider that they have as full a right to discuss religious subjects, as if they were themselves religious. They will enter upon the most sacred points of Faith at the moment, at their pleasure,—if it so happen, in {199} a careless frame of mind, in their hours of recreation, over the wine cup. Is it wonderful that they so frequently end in becoming indifferentists, and conclude that Religious Truth is but a name, that all men are right and all wrong, from witnessing externally the multitude of sects and parties, and from the clear consciousness they possess within, that their own inquiries end in darkness? (43)

Reading this passage reminds me of the gall of New Atheists like Richard Dawkins who attack religious faith and believers all the while boasting that they have never read any theology.  An Oxford theologian attached to Blackfriars Hall told a class here at the Angelicum last year that he heard Dawkins at a public debate admit to never having read a single book of theology.  Apparently, this is what passes for academic integrity among the Secular Eliterati.

Our crusade of service

Look!  A homily!  Remember those?

29th Sunday OT: Readings
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Convento SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Good old American capitalism thrives on customer service. Our Wal-marts and Krogers and Borders have whole departments devoted to doing nothing else but making sure that customers are 100% satisfied with their shopping experience—free credit, no-questions refunds, managers eager to please. Customer empowerment is all the rage. Want to see how good you have it over there in the USA? Come to Italy and enjoy being ignored by store owners, waiters, bank tellers, and just about anyone who's working in an alleged money-making enterprise. Customer service in Italia rates in attractiveness for most workers somewhere right around plunging the toilet and de-molding the ceiling grout  They don't even bag your groceries for you! In fact, the only money-makers here who don't ignore you are the beggars. And they are impeccably polite. Good customer service is a luxury. We can't say the same thing for Christian service. It's the food and drink of holiness, the bread and wine of putting God's grace to work in the world. Jesus puts it in his typically, mildly ominous way: “. . .whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” Don't you get the feeling here that he's trying to scare us, to warn us off this whole “follow me” business?

When I do spiritual direction with young men discerning a priestly vocation, one of the first things I try to found out about them is how romantic they are about being a priest, how much of the Bells of St Mary's or Romero Kool-aid have they drunk. Let's face it, you have to be something of a romantic to be a Christian. This whole adventure in holiness we've signed on to is rife with beautiful stories of self-sacrifice, heroic battles against evil, stirring last stands in the face of overwhelming odds, and a Grand Finale to end all grand finales. There's nothing boring or merely pragmatic about following Christ to one's cross. But these dramatic high points often distort the imagination by pushing the more mundane facts of Christian living into the background. There's nothing wrong with being attracted to a priestly vocation because it provides great adventure and excitement, but at some point the dirty work of being a sacrificial servant brings the adventure back down to earth. Yes, there are battles. But someone must bury the dead. Yes, there are moments to issue ringing challenges to our culture's pervasive evil. But someone must muck-in and pay the bills. Yes, celebrating the Mass and preaching are transcendent moments. But someone must go to the ER and comfort the parents of a teenager who has committed suicide. Jesus is warning us, urging us even to work at making sure that the adventure of following him is a crusade of sacrificial service. We must be romantics to stay strong along the Way, but it's being of service to those who need us most that grows and polishes God's grace.

A wise woman I know frets when seminarians in her diocese are sent to Rome for studies. She goes out of her way to beg them not to become “Roman Ruins.” She's afraid that like the sons of Zebedee they will find that being at the center of the Church will be an irresistible temptation to grasp at status and power. She knows too many wide-eyed romantics who leave for Rome for an education in the faith and return to the U.S. years later with a hunger for ecclesial celebrity and episcopal promotion. The humility needed to serve is too often smothered in the folds of cassocks, rich vestments, and expensive altar linens. And though I sympathize with her fears, I remind her that our Lord can use the Devil to dig out our weaknesses by allowing him to tempt us to be great without being of service. But perhaps the more insidious temptation is the one that leads us to desire to be of service without being in Christ.

Jesus says to his disciples, “. . .the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Following Christ along his way to the cross is difficult not because we must serve, not because we must sacrifice for others. The way is dangerous because we must serve as a sacrifice; our sacrifice is to serve. There is no real difficulty in helping others. Anyone can serve meals at a homeless shelter, or visit the elderly in a nursing home. Sacrifice doesn't have to be all that bothersome either. We can give up using our cars once a week for a carpool, or drop our spare change into the hands of a beggar. What's difficult and dangerous is giving ourselves wholly in service to another for the sake of Christ, turning ourselves over to the needs of someone else because we have vowed to become Christ going to his cross. Christ's service to us is the ransom he paid on the cross for our rescue. Knowing us and loving us anyway, he suffered death on the cross—“a death he freely accepted”—and in freely dying for our sake, he not only showed us the way to heaven, he showed us how to be perfect servants as well. He leads the Church by going first. If you will sit at his right hand, you must go first; you must go in sacrificial service, offering your weaknesses for the sins of others so that the Lord's will might be accomplished through you.

As frightening as a promise of death on a cross is, we gather at his altar to be reminded that he has gone before us; he went first so that our way is straight and clear: “So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”