Sunday, October 23, 2005

My Latin Mass morning

This morning I went to Mass at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church in Parma, OH. I planned the journey out so that I would get there in time for confession before Mass; I left the house at 7:15, confessions at 7:45, Mass at 8:30. I didn't count on passing my exit off rte. 71. I approached the church at 8:10, which meant that I was still early, but everyone else must have been thinking the same thoughts as I, for the parking lot was very full, as well as the church. When I got there a woman came out of the confessional and she was the last one. Father had to get ready for Mass. Oh well.

Getting there when I did meant that I sat on a folding chair in the back of the church. Forget about kneeling; my knees can barely stand it when I get to use a kneeler. Armed with my trusty missal I was ready to follow along, but I was lost immediately. In a small church like St. Peregrine's it's easier to see what's happening; here it wasn't so easy. So I watched, and prayed, and wished that I had gone to confession so I could recieve communion.

On the way home I perused the bulletin. It contained the usual announcements about coffee and snacks, as well as several paragraphs about "Traditional Catholic Standards." To receive Holy Communion at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church, one must:
  • "Be validly baptized in the Roman Catholic Church." OK, makes sense. "Anyone who was baptized after 1970 must speak with one of the priests before receiving Holy Communion." Hmm, now that I don't get at all.
  • "Hold all the teachings of the Catholic Church." That makes perfect sense.
  • "Be in the state of sanctifying grace, having made a good confession to a traditional Roman Catholic priest." This is now becoming a big problem for me. I will admit that it bothers me to no end when I go to confession and receive a penance like "go plant a flower" or something, but if the priest is validly ordained, and he conducts the sacrament in the proper way, then I receive absolution. Sometimes I would rather have the ultra-penance that a traditionalist is more likely to give, depending on the sin, but the absolution is still the same.
  • "Therefore, if a Catholic in the state of grace attends only the traditional Latin Mass, and fulfills all the traditional Catholic conditions for the worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, then he or she is welcome to receive Holy Communion at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church." Oh well, guess that leaves me out. Although I prefer the traditional Latin Mass I don't go to it only. I can't go that far.

I almost spit out my Cherry Coke when I read the next section. "NOTICE: In the name of holding fast to the Traditional Catholic religion, some unfortunate priests have received Holy Orders, notably episcopal consecration, from dubious and non-Catholic sources. Among these dubious sources is Archbishop Ngo dinh-Thuc... St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church is served by priests of the Society of St. Pius V, who condemn the schismatic sacrileges at the root of the Thuc line of bishops. The (SSPV) has nothing to do with such groups, and does not recognize such groups, their churches or their clergyman as Roman Catholic."

Well if that isn't the pot calling the kettle schismatic? Here we have a group of priests calling an Archbishop schismatic, when most of them were ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who himself could be considered "schismatic." I have admiration for Archbishop LeFebvre and the stand he took, but let's face it, he did consecrate four bishops against the will of Pope John Paul II. Necessary? We'll never know at this point since LeFebvre and John Paul II are both dead. Whether John Paul II was definitely going to give the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) a bishop to carry on their work or not is knowledge lost to the sands of time. But even if it was necessary it was still an act performed with the lack of permission. So these priests were ordained by LeFebvre; they broke away from the SSPX to form their own society and have one of their priests consecrated a bishop; and they're going to point the finger at the Thuc bishops and call them schismatic? Boy, that's just great. They mention three "Thuc bishops" in particular, and all three of them coincidentally (or not) used to be priests with the SSPV who broke away.

Was it Andy Warhol who once said that in the future every traditionalist priest would be a bishop and have his own organization for 15 minutes?

The "traditionalist movement" (if there is such a thing) deserves credit for keeping traditional Catholic devotions and practices alive. Without Archbishop LeFebvre, there would be no indult for celebrating the Tridentine Mass. But when do we just suck it up and stop splitting? My marriage has been pretty bad for about four and a half of the seven years I've been in it, but that doesn't mean I have the right to split and start a new one. The Catholic Church is in crisis; no one can deny that. But if Jesus is to be believed (and I think He is), then the gates of hell will not prevail.

I just need to be on the right side of those gates.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Holy Sacrifice...

...of the Clown Mass
...of the Polka Mass (here and here)
...of Liturgical Dance
...of the Pet Mass
...(well, just use your imagination here)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What kind of Catholic are you?

You scored as Traditional Catholic. You look at the great piety and holiness of the Church before the Second Vatican Council and the decay of belief and practice since then, and see that much of the decline is due to failed reforms based on the "Spirit of the Council". You regret the loss of vast numbers of Religious and Ordained clergy and the widely diverging celebrations of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, which often don't even seem to be Catholic anymore. You are helping to rebuild this past culture in one of the many new Traditional Latin Mass communities or attend Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy. You seek refuge from the world of pornography, recreational drugs, violence, and materialism. You are an articulate, confident, committed, and intelligent Catholic.

But do you support legitimate reform of the Church, and are you willing to submit to the directives of the Second Vatican Council? Will you cooperate responsibly with others who are not part of the Traditional community?

Traditional Catholic


New Catholic


Evangelical Catholic


Lukewarm Catholic


Neo-Conservative Catholic


Liberal Catholic


Radical Catholic


What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with


Hmm.... "You are an articulate, confident, committed, and intelligent Catholic." Not sure that's the case at all; The Evil Traditionalist can blog circles around me. I read his stuff, or Ed at Veniam Pro Laudo Peto, and I never want to blog again. Ever since I became Catholic again I feel like I have nothing to say anymore. Or maybe it's that I just don't feel like I can do the faith justice.

Or... maybe I'm just a wuss. If I admit that I use the New King James Bible then the conservative Catholics pitch a fit. If I talk about the charismatic movement in a postive light I have the traditionalists on my case. If I express my admiration for Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre and my desire to see the Tridentine Mass restored then I know I'll be getting a call from my mom :)

When people compliment me on my writing I an flattered and uncomfortable in the same moment. I still doubt; I still have questions; there are still things that I just don't get. But I'll get there. Eventually.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Writer's block

Has it been a week since my last entry? Almost a week in any event. It isn't always easy to come up with something good, and lately I haven't felt like I had anything in the queue worth posting. I read the stats, I know several people check the blog everyday- don't give up on me yet :) It isn't helping me any that today I'm sick with my children's colds. I've been reading an article about the New American Bible that I have some thoughts on, plus I want to look at the papal encyclicals on Scripture study. So we'll see what happens.

Until then, talk amongst yourselves. Here, I'll give you a topic. Would the Spirit ever move someone to go against the wishes of the established authorities for the sake of a greater good? Discuss.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mass confusion

Sorry for the play on words- I guess Scott Hahn is having an effect on me :)

I've been getting sample copies of the National Catholic Register as part of a promotion. As far as Catholic periodicals/newspapers go it's pretty good. The one I got today has good coverage of the Bishop's Synod on the Eucharist, and an interesting article on page 5 titled "Bishops Receive New Draft Translation of Mass Prayers." Hmm. I didn't know they were thinking about changing the Mass prayers. Let's read more.
"...the draft relies on more literal translations of the Latin texts than the English texts currently recited at Mass and uses a more formal version of English. However, some of the translations that bishops had judged as archaic or artificial sounding have been changed since the 2004 draft was circulated."
For example:

  • current Third Eucharistic Prayer: "From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from East to West a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name." 2004 version: "You never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure oblation may be offered to your name." The word "sacrifice" has since replaced "oblation," which is a good thing. Something tells me that if they kept the word "oblation" in that it would get changed anyway. You don't think priests change the Mass on the fly? When was the last time you heard the phrase "for us men and for our salvation" in the Creed? It gets changed all the time.
  • Second Eucharistic Prayer: "Lord, you are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness. Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ." Latest draft: "You are indeed the holy one, O Lord, you are the wellspring of all holiness. Therefore, make holy these gifts, we pray, by the dew of your Spirit, that they may become for us the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ." "The dew of your Spirit?" Is that really a literal translation of the Latin?
  • The draft also retained the more literal translation of the standard response to the priest's greeting, "The Lord be with you," by having the people answer "And with your spirit." That is the literal translation of "Dominus vobiscum/ Et cum spiritu tuo," but man, are they asking for problems in changing a response that has become so ingrained. I'm looking forward to the first Mass with this change, assuming it sticks- most of the crowd automatically answering "And also with you," with the hardcore Catholics who sleep with a copy of the GIRM under their pillow giving the correct response, and lambasting those who don't get with the program RIGHT AWAY. As the weeks turn into months people pick it up, but there will always be a small group who either can't or won't adapt to the change. And by the time they get it, the Mass gets changed again.

And therein lies my issue with the whole thing. Why do the prayers in the Mass need constant updating? If there is a legit answer to this question someone please leave a comment because I would really like to know. I know that some changes were made in the Tridentine Mass over the centuries- a saint's name in the canon here, a sign of the cross there- but it seems like there have been more changes in the modern order of Mass in the past 40 years than there were in the Tridentine liturgy in the past 500.

Listen, I'm not one to talk down the bishops. They have a hard enough job without doofuses like me gumming up the works. But I've never understood why they didn't just make the new Mass the same as the old Mass (with my apologies to The Who). I have a copy of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962 edition from Angelus Press, and the English translation alongside the Latin looks pretty good to me, as well as to a lot of other people. Didn't they already have an English version of the Mass, available to a whole lot of people? Did they need to monkey with it? Sure, maybe change words like "vouchsafe" to something more easily understandable. But that should have been the extent of it.

Oh man, what is that phrase from theology class? "Lex orendi, lex credendi"? I believe it translates "the law of prayer is the law of belief." What we pray is what we believe. There has been a definite lack in reverence and faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the past 40 years. What is the cause of this? Is it merely a lack of catechesis? Is that the only reason? Or has the shift towards eliminating things that are distinctly Catholic- prayers and devotions, artwork, the location of the tabernacle- had a subtle effect?

You tell me.


I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
---The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

Monday, October 10, 2005


I believe...

...that the Catholic Church is biblical
...that the Latin Mass is a beautiful experience
...that the issue of whether the SSPX is truly Catholic isn't up to me
...that my fundamental Baptist brothers and sisters are truly Christians
...God will judge the prideful and arrogant, Catholic or Protestant
...if baptism in the New Testament is equivalent to circumcision in the Old, then infant baptism can be defended
...for every drop of rain that falls, the ground gets wet
...that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of the Lord
...that just hearing the Bible read at Mass once a week isn't enough; Catholics need to read it at home too
...if I only read the books in the New King James version and never read the "Catholic books," that I'm still reading more of the Bible than 75% of the Catholics in this country
...that it shouldn't be like that
...that the best pizza in the world will always include anchovies wife is beautiful kids rock
...the Catholic charismatic movement has been a blessing to the church
...that Ty Cobb is the best baseball player of all time
...I miss my grandfather
...LOST is the best show on TV
...that Pope Benedict XVI has been a great Pope
...that my experiences in a multitude of churches has given me the ability to talk to people where they're at instead of assuming I know what they believe because I read a website
...if I had chosen Eastern Orthodoxy instead of Catholicism it wouldn't have been a bad thing
...I am glad I returned to the Catholic Church.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


The Site Meter counter that I have at the bottom of the front page has been an interesting thing. It doesn't tell me who visits the blog but it does say where they are from, and in some cases where they stumbled across the blog from. I get numerous hits from people who are just looking for information on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; I've gotten hits from people doing other Google searches; when one person linked to my post More Catholic Than The Pope I got 60 hits that day just from their site.
But I would really like to know who some of you are, if you don't mind. I know that when the statistics say Lansing, Michigan, that it's a visit from my mother. But I have been getting a lot of visits from Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, and I'm kind of fascinated by that. Columbus, Ohio. Chanhassen, Minnesota. Sunnyvale, California. Claremont, California. Cleveland, Ohio. All with multiple visits in the past several days. So either leave a comment or use the e-mail link and drop me a line. Do you like what I've written? Do you hate it? Let me know.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Real Enemy

Rich posted this on My Journey To Rome:

The Real Enemy

Monday, October 03, 2005

A look at the bookshelf

My name is Sean, and I am a book junkie :) (Hi, Sean!) I have bookshelves full of books, I have books in the attic, books on the end table... I'm hopeless. And I hardly ever finish anything either. I scan the shelves for half an hour, grab one off, and then read a few pages. Next day I'm at it again. So let's stare over my shoulder as I go to the bookshelf and see what catches my eye.

Marcel Lefebvre by Bernard Tissier de Mallerais. The biography of the "renegade" Archbishop, founder of the Society of St. Pius X. I have to say that Archbishop LeFebvre, and by extension the Catholic Traditionalist "movement", has always fascinated me. Here's a man whose motivation for bucking the system was simply a love for souls and the desire to preserve Catholic tradition. In 1970, when the Society was founded, the potential for the destruction of the traditional liturgy and practices wasn't as apparent as it is now. Archbishop LeFebvre saw the future and recognized the need to take a stand. His stand eventually led to his excommunication when he consecrated four bishops against the requests of Rome not to do such a thing. Was he really excommunicated? Sorry, not going there. But I have the utmost respect for his stand.

Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn. Scott Hahn is the man, the posterboy for the modern Catholic apologetics movement (although Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism came out first, before "The Tape" made Scott Hahn a household word). He teaches about the Bible, he emphasizes the Bible, he wants Catholics to read the Bible! I appreciate that. I'm tired of people on Catholic forums assuming that people who talk about Bible study frequently are closet Protestants. But that's another post.

Catholic Pentecostals by Kevin and Dorthy Ranaghan; As By A New Pentecost by Patti Gallagher Mansfield; The Spirit and The Church by Ralph Martin; On Fire With The Spirit by Fr. John Bertolucci. I'm not sure that any of these books are still in print (and in the case of Fr. Bertolucci's book, I doubt that it will ever be in print again). I lump them together because they all have to do with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, along with a few others on my shelf. The charismatic renewal among Catholics seems to be on the wane, with more emphasis on apologetics these days, but in the late 60's and 70's the charismatic renewal had a large following and was renewing the lives of Catholics. It's fashionable to slam charismatics as being too Protestant. I won't be doing that.

And to show that not everything I own is Catholic- On Writing by Stephen King. Part autobiography and part writing handbook, this is a great read for a book that intends to teach me something :) I would love to do more writing, better writing, not just off the cuff blog writing; but as a fiction writer, I really suck. But I'm going to try.

More installments to come; I have over 500 books :)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Waking up

"I have suddenly woken up to the fact that somebody needs to be teaching theology the way St. Augustine did and not the way textbooks in seminaries do. Someone should be able to find the Living God in scripture- and this is his word- and then lead others to find him there and all theology properly ends in comtemplation and love and union with God- not ideas about Him and a set of rules about how to wear your hat."
---Thomas Merton, The Road To Joy, pg. 172.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Come and See

"If I can unite in myself, in my own spiritual life, the thought of the East and the West, of the Greek and Latin Fathers, I will create in myself a reunion of the divided Church, and from that unity in myself can come the exterior and visible unity of the Church. For, if we want to bring together East and West, we cannot do it by imposing one upon the other. We must contain both in ourselves and transcend them both in Christ."
Thomas Merton, A Search for Solitude: Journals, Vol. 3, p. 87

I would add to this quote in Merton that although I am now Catholic, I still affirm all that is right and true within the Protestant churches. And Unitatis Redintegratio, the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism, says basically the same thing:

"For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.”

So anyone wishing to engage me in a discussion on how bad Protestants are or wanting to step on the backs of Protestants to position themselves on their pedestal can read Unitatis Redintegratio and then we can talk.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not wussing out already. But it pains me to see the haughty attitude we can take sometimes towards those with whom we disagree. It seems to me that in our apologetics efforts we can find the common ground first and then go from there in our effort to explain what we believe. Instead of starting with a caricature of what someone believes, and ripping that straw man apart in order to gain a couple of notches on our faith-defending belt, let’s attempt to understand what someone else believes in as complete a way as possible before we proceed.
For instance, when talking with people I never use the term “Sola Scriptura.” The only people that I ever see using that term in conversation are Catholic apologists and Protestant theologians. The average Joe six-pack does not know what that term means. Now they may very well believe it, but I still don’t use the term. It makes me sound like I’m trying to throw around ten-dollar words just to overwhelm them. Instead, I talk about the Bible. I talk about how much I love the Bible. I talk about Catholics like St. Jerome, whose feast day we celebrated yesterday, who gave their lives to translate the Scriptures and write commentaries on them. I make sure I’ve read Leo XIII’s encyclical Providentissumus Deus, Benedict XV’s Spiritus Paraclitus, Pius XII’s Divino Afflante Spiritu, or Vatican II’s constitution Dei Verbum, which can show the person I’m talking to that Catholics revere the Scriptures too. And then, when I’ve built that foundation, I can ask them what they believe about the Bible and do some comparing and contrasting. They are likely to be less defensive that way.

In the end, I’m not looking to be the next Scott Hahn. We have one already and he’s pretty darn good at it. I’m just a starving man, and I’ve found the food. Come and see.