Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Supreme Law in the Church

I had hoped not to write anything in this blog before saying goodbye to it on Pentecost Sunday, but since so much is being said nowadays about authority and obedience, I should like to quote the last word of Canon Law:

. . . the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.
— Code of Canon Law, Can. 1752

Would that the church — bishops, priests, deacons, ministers, and laity — obeyed this law.

Added June 1, 2006:

According to (the American adaptation of) GIRM 43, “The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.”

Almost certainly “determines” here does not mean personal preference. It seems to have something to do with GIRM 20 (not 387, which deals with other matters than posture), which says in part that “the utmost care must be taken to choose and to arrange those forms and elements set forth by the Church that, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will more effectively foster active and full participation and more properly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful.” In other words, in “determining” the Diocesan Bishop considers his flock, not himself.

Moreover, since according to GIRM 22, “The Bishop should . . . be determined that the priests, the deacons, and the lay Christian faithful grasp ever more deeply the genuine meaning of the rites and liturgical texts and thereby be led to an active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist,” a determination departing from the stated norm should be introduced pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for the differing norm and whether this norm is (to use Cardinal Arinze’s oft-quoted words) intended “to regulate posture rigidly” or “to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture.”

An arbitrary or unexplained determination would therefore unlawful (I am not judging the present case). There is also the matter of application. A determination may be lawful but if its administration is inconsistent, then its application is unjust — inequitable. For example, if a norm is for the entire diocese, punishment for violating the norm must not be limited to parishioners of one parish — that would be inconsistent and unjust (again, I am not judging the present case). Instead, in the words of Canon 1752, “canonical equity is to be observed.” Canon 1752 concludes the entire Code of Canon Law by stating, “the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.” This supreme law guides every Diocesan Bishop’s determinations.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Why preach the gospel when one cannot recommend one’s parish, one’s bishop, the USCCB? Because he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. Do I myself believe, whom signs do not follow? Does the Lord work with me, confirming the (not my) word with signs? Maybe my sign is that I have not seen, and yet believe. Amen.

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Last evening we had a salad. The croutons must have been made of rye, since they were dark.

O: Why are the croutons so dark?
ME: Because they’re croutans.

O did not laugh, but she did try not to smile.

+ + +

For several reasons, I may have fewer things to say about the parish in future. If so, the title of this blog will no longer be appropriate and I shall close this diary, possibly on Pentecost.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


What the Father has the Son has. What the Son has the Holy Spirit has. What the Holy Spirit has he shows to us, to the degree that we can bear it. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. At it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

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Received the pack of fifty “How to Go to Confession” cards that I ordered from the USCCB. Much prefer Father Pat Umberger’s Credit Card to Heaven, both for its contents and for its size. Father Umberger’s 2" x 3" card fits into my wallet; the bishops’ 4" x 9" card is too big even for a bookmark and says less in more words than Father Umberger’s card does. The differences confirm my belief that the bishops are poor promoters of the sacrament. Do they go often themselves?


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

An Easter in Siberia (1958)

All day Friday, I heard a tremendous number of Easter confessions, as I had very night that week after work. On Friday evening, after Good Friday services, I set out to begin my tour of the city. Every place I went, there were people waiting — even in the middle of the night or the long cold hours of early morning. I got back to my bolok [shanty] Saturday morning in time for services at 6 A.M. It was jammed with people, many of whom had been there overnight in order to get a place before the altar for this long Easter Vigil service. Many of them, too, stayed in the chapel after the Saturday services until it was time for the Easter midnight Mass, with nothing to eat all day, so they would be close to the altar. After the services, I started making the rounds again, doubling back to my bolok every few hours to bless the baskets of food which filled my little room from wall to wall, a new batch every time. By 11:30 P.M. Saturday, I was back home but I could hardly get near the bolok. Even the corridors and the vestibule were jammed; crowds of people were swarming around outside in the midnight cold. There was barely room to move anywhere, but by twelve o’clock I was vested — I couldn’t lift my arms because of the crowd, so someone had to pull the vestments over my head — and ready for Mass. The altar was covered with flowers and candles; we even had a choir. As I began the solemn intonation of the Easter Mass, the chapel seemed to explode with sound. An Easter Mass is a joyous one to begin with, but the enthusiasm of the people that night I shall never forget. Tired as I was after more than forty-eight hours without sleep, hurrying from place to place, I felt suddenly elated and swept along. I forgot about everything but the Mass and the joy of Easter.

The crowds were so great it was impossible to distribute Communion, because no one could move. Communion had to be distributed after Mass. The services ended at 3 A.M., but at nine o’clock the next morining I was still distributing Communon to a constant stream of people. I would hear the crowds outside, going home through the Easter dawn, shouting the traditional Easter greeting: “Khristos voskres!” (Christ is risen!), and the joyous answer, “Voistinu voskres!” (Indeed, he is risen!). After it was finally all over, I came back to my room alone and sat down at the little table in my bolok, completely exhausted. Yet I was deeply satisfied; I knew a joy that day I have rarely known. I felt that at last, in God’s own good providence, I was beginning to live my dream of serving his flock in Russia. “And all this,” was the thought that kept flashing through my mind, “all this took place in Russia, in Norilsk!’

— Walter J. Ciszek, He Leadeth Me, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, pp. 171–172.

Several days later, the KGB told Father Ciszek to leave Norilsk forever. The description of this Easter in Siberia comes in a chapter called “Humility”.


Sin, righteousness, judgment

By the power of the Holy Spirit we are made strong by the knowledge that the world sinned by denying the Son, that the righteous witness in the world by faithful suffering, and that the Son will return to judge the world.

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
— John 16:8

Of sin, because they believe not on me;
— John 16:9

And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
— John 9:39–41

Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
— John 16:10

A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
— Johne 16:16–22

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
— John 16:11

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
— John 12:31


Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Nothing [Jesus] worked on, as far as we know, ever set any fashions or became a collector’s item.
— Walter J. Ciszek, S.J., He Leadeth Me, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, p. 103.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Love in Action

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
— John 3:16

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
— John 15:13

God’s love and man’s love in these verses is the same kind love. It is love in action, a love that costs, because the object of the love is prized, a willed love.

At the theatre, because pure emotion is facile, three-quarters of the audience may cry, but . . . very few of them will be unable to sleep when they get home, or will even lose their appetite for a late supper. . . . A man may weep over a novel which he will forget in two or three hours, although the same man may be made insane, or may have his character changed for life, by actual experiences which are far less terrible than those of which he reads, experiences which at the moment may produce neither tears nor any other obvious nervous effect.
— Graham Wallas, Human Nature in Politics

Habitually to enjoy feelings without acting upon them is to be a sentimentalist.
— Jacques Barzun, Classic, Romantic, and Modern


Saturday, May 20, 2006

“Because there are priests . . . .”

The greatest blessings of my life have come to me through the hands of a priest. At an Easter Vigil Mass in 1974, I was held in the arms of a priest and incorporated into the Body of Christ at my Baptism, beginning my personal relationship with God. Seven years later, when I had my first conscious encounter with the Mercy of God in my first confession and then received the Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion, it was by the power of the priesthood. In 2004, 30 years after my Baptism, it was a priest who placed the wedding band of espousal to Jesus Christ on my hand at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at which I made my Perpetual Vows.

Because there are still men in this world who have said “yes” to the Father, are willing to lay down their lives, and by His mercy have been incorporated into the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, I am able to know God in the most intimate ways possible on earth. Because there are priests, I can be present at the Last Supper 2000 years later. Because there are priests, I can stand with our Lady at the foot of the cross at every Mass, every day. Because there are priests, I can touch Jesus, taste Jesus as I consume His living, resurrected Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. Because there are priests, I can hear the sound of Jesus’ voice saying to me, “I absolve you from your sins,” every time I go to confession.

— Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR, From the Friars, May 20, 2006

The moments after the noon meal [at Butirka prison in Moscow] were always the best moments of the day. When everyone had finished smoking, a sort of quiet settled on the cell by mutual consent. Many of the prisoners took a nap. I used to sit there by the door, looking around the cell and watching the human scene. There was a row of sick over by the windows, for instance. We put them there hoping the windows would dissipate some of the stench, because the poor fellows were dying of dysentery. There was nothing left of some of them but skin and bones. The odor was so foul the other prisoners compalined to the nurse who used to visit these poor wretches once a day. “I know, I know,” she said, “but I can’t do anything. There is simply no room left in the hospital.”

All she could do was give them some sort of fluid every day, but most of them were too far gone for help. Sometimes, at night, I’d wake to hear a loud cry followed by that peculiar breathing called the death rattle; then the doctors would hurry in and take somebody out in the darkness. In the quiet period after lunch, I talked to the sick from time to time, trying to encourage them as much as I could. But there wasn’t much anyone could do. I could — and did — give many of them absolution, and I’d sit close alongside them sometimes, whispering the prayers for the dying. I only hope it consoled them as much as it did me to be able to act as a priest again. . . .

— Walter J. Ciszek, S.J., With God in Russia: My Twenty-Three Years as a Priest in Soviet Prisons and Siberian Labor Camps, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, pp. 148–149.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
— John 15:13

Here Jesus speaks of love of friends, brotherly love, not self-sacrifice, not heroism, not philanthropy, not high-mindedness, but a love that actually requires one to have friends.

See also in Curmudgeon’s Cave: Why would I be a priest for Bp. Hubbard?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Genesis 123

Friday, May 19, 2006

For most of the world, Pascal’s thoughts had just as well remained in a shoebox.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cathedral Mailing List

I have started a Mailing List for parishioners of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.

To join click: Cathedral

Thursday, May 18, 2006

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
— John 15:9–11

In the next line Jesus’ commandments become one commandment:

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
— John 15:12

Not: thou lovest others; but: ye love one another. Not only: I must love, but also: I must bring others to love, and let others bring me to love. This commandment alone will take everything we have. Joy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pharisees who convert remain pharisaical, at least for a time. The important thing is: Pharisees do convert.


Recommended to Betty T that our September pastoral advisory council retreat be on the theme “Building Community”. This will be code for a while.

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Appears that J and I will marry again — in the Church!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Was told at our pastoral advisory council meeting this evening that Bishop Hubbard will be ordaining five deacons on Saturday, three of them on their way to becoming priests.

From the Friars shows photos of three friars who became priests last Saturday.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

Saw Thérèse again, this time with M. She did not like it either. O, of course, studiously avoided the room, and complained about how loud the TV was. I myself love any sign of holiness, and the actress Lindsay Younce was quite convincing enough for me, even if the film did not show the whole Thérèse.

Historical Stagnation

I sense in Western man a profound historical stagnation.
— Caryl Johnston, Additions and Comments on “Metaphysical Womanhood”

History is not speeding up — it is actually slowing down.
John Lukacs

ME: Were there any reactions after you distributed the comments?

Of the 23 contributions to the Jane Jacobs Online Memorial Weblog, 7 resulted from an action on my part.

Are our minds so sluggish, or our hearts?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Views from the Pews

On March 6 and 27 and April 4 and 10, the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany NY held education/information meetings on various aspects relating to the restoration/renovation of the Cathedral interior. In addition to the presentations and question/answer sessions, attendees were asked to write responses to three questions:

1. What do you like most about the cathedral?
2. What do you dislike most about the cathedral?
3. What is most important to you personally?

The questions were not related to any proposal or plan of restoration/renovation, since none was presented at the meetings.

The responses were compiled, and the results of the compilation were presented as an insert to the parish bulletin for May 7, 2006. The insert was in the form of a memo from the rector of the cathedral, Father William H. Pape, to the cathedral parishioners. The memo, including the responses in a more simplified format, can be read here.

The Interior Committee appointed by Bishop Howard Hubbard will meet on June 19, when it is expected to present Bishop Howard Hubbard with a final plan and estimate.


This article has been noticed by:

The cafeteria is closed . . . . .

Catholic Carnival - conversations

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Went to confession, in a confessional, at Historic St. Mary’s. Although the web site and the bulletin say that confessions are from 3 to 4, the norm seems to be that the priest goes into the confessional after 3:15. About 4 or 5 people were waiting for him, perhaps a good sign. St. Mary’s celebrates Latin Mass (NO) at 12 noon on Sundays. Tomorrow’s will an orchestral mass of Michael Haydn’s Missa Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, performed the the New York Catholic Chorale. Wish I could be there. St. Peter and St. Paul Tridentine Parish in Troy celebrates the Tridentine Mass. I have never been present at it.

We have invited the Holdens and the Adamses to dinner tonight. Yesterday M got out Thérèse from Hollywood Video. We’ll see if we have any takers tonight.

I should acknowledge that many in the diocese speak favorably of Bishop Howard Hubbard. See also Interview with Bishop Hubbard.


Only Jake and I saw the film. He did not like it, much preferring the 1986 French Thérèse. I thought this film had some good qualities, though it does not show the great saint that Thérèse was. May watch it again if M is interested.

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Telephoned Mom in Westport. Dad was with Dennis taking M— to a party. Dennis was supposed to go down to North Hills to visit the visitors, but could not, so Bud drove up with Mom and Dad, Uncle and Auntie, and Leslie to Westport.

“the people”

That night [in 1939] was my worst in Albertin [Poland]. With the [Russian] troops moving around on the floor above me, I hardly slept at all. Next day, I was summoned for a “personal talk” with the politruk, the Communist Pary or secret service agent who accompanied every unit of the Red Army. He wanted to know the whereabouts of the former Polish government officials of Albertin. I knew nothing and said so. In a technique I was to become familiar with later on, the politruk asked me the same question many times over in different forms. He was insistent, arguing that by helping him I would be helping the “people”.

“My work”, I replied, “isn’t political, it’s pastoral. As their pastor, I help the people spiritually and also materially when I can”. I told him of cases where we had raised money to help the children of poor families continue their educaiton through high school and beyond. He wasn’t interested. He insisted I should help “the people” everywhere by revealing the names of their enemies and making public what information I had as a priest.

— Walter J. Ciszek, S.J., With God in Russia, p. 35.


Metaphysical Womanhood

Caryl Johnston, Metaphysical Womanhood

The Lark

Last evening, M and I drove up to Troy to see NYSTI’s production of Jean Anouilh’s play about Joan of Arc. After Dreyer’s film, Joan seemed too loquacious. I didn’t notice in the program the name of Lillian Hellman or any other translator/adaptor.

Friday, May 12, 2006


No Catholic is as good as his religion.
—Lord Acton, quoted by John Coulson in his Introduction to John Henry Newman, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine. According to Mr. Coulson, Newman’s essay was written in response to criticism of his remark that “We do unfeignedly . . . believe that their Lordships [the English bishops] really desire to know the opinion of the laity on subjects in which the laity are especially concerned. If even in the preparation of a dogmatic definition the faithful are consulted, as lately in the instance of the Immaculate Conception, it is at least as natural to anticipate such an act of kind feeling and sympathy in great practical questions.”

Neither shalt thou bring anything of the idol into thy house, lest thou become an anathema like it. Thou shalt detest it as dung, and shalt utterly abhor it as uncleanness and filth, because it is an anathema.
— Deuteronomy 7:26, quoted in Catholic Encyclopedia, Anathema

According to the same article in the Catholic Encyclopedia,

Anathema remains a major excommunication which is to be promulgated with great solemnity. A formula for this ceremony was drawn up by Pope Zachary (741-52) in the chapter Debent duodecim sacerdotes, Cause xi, quest. iii. The Roman Pontifical reproduces it in the chapter Ordo excommunicandi et absolvendi, distinguishing three sorts of excommunication: minor excommunication, formerly incurred by a person holding communication with anyone under the ban of excommunication; major excommunication, pronounced by the Pope in reading a sentence; and anathema, or the penalty incurred by crimes of the gravest order, and solemnly promulgated by the Pope. In passing this sentence, the pontiff is vested in amice, stole, and a violet cope, wearing his mitre, and assisted by twelve priests clad in their surplices and holding lighted candles. He takes his seat in front of the altar or in some other suitable place, and pronounces the formula of anathema which ends with these words: “Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N— himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment.” Whereupon all the assistants respond: “Fiat, fiat, fiat.” The pontiff and the twelve priests then cast to the ground the lighted candles they have been carrying, and notice is sent in writing to the priests and neighbouring bishops of the name of the one who has been excommunicated and the cause of his excommunication, in order that they may have no communication with him. Although he is delivered to Satan and his angels, he can still, and is even bound to repent. The Pontifical gives the form for absolving him and reconciling him with the Church. The promulgation of the anathema with such solemnity is well calculated to strike terror to the criminal and bring him to a state of repentance, especially if the Church adds to it the ceremony of the Maranatha.

For what it may be worth, the word anathema does not appear in the (English) text of the current Code of Canon Law.

In our day, demos is the idol, as in the book title God’s House is Our House, in which, so to speak, God has been demoted. Not that the idolizing bishops and priests really care about the people: the publican [who] standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:14), or the poor widow [who] hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury (Mark 12:43). Instead they are the commissars of the People’s Church, awarded and affluent, hating, hateful, and vindictive, who when the people ask for bread give them stones. Better for them that the stones were hanged about their necks, and that they were drowned in the depth of the sea.

See also The Curt Jester, Liturgical Anonymous.

What is certain is that, in the fourth century, . . . an absence of effective leadership caused laymen to express their sense of the truth that was within them in a way profoundly displeasing to those in authority.
— Coulson, ibid.

In his essay, Newman quotes Bishop Ullathorne of Birmingham:

It is the devout who have the surest instinct in discerning the mysteries of which the Holy Spirit breathes the grace through the Church, and who . . . reject what is alien from her teaching.

as well as his own Lecture on Anglican Difficulties:

We know that it is the property of life to be impatient of any foreign substance in the body to which it belongs. It will be sovereign in its own domain, and it conflicts with what it cannot assimilate into itself, and is irritated and disordered till it has expellled it. Such expulsion, than, is emphatically a test of uncongeniality, for it shows that the substance ejected, not only is not one with the body that rejects it, but cannot be made one with it; that its introduction is not only useless, or superfluous, or adventitious, but that it is intolerable. . . . The religious life of a people is of a certain quality and direction, and these are tested by the mode in which it encounters the various opinions, customs, and institutions which are submitted to it. Drive a stake into a river’s bed, and you will at once ascertain which way it is running, and at what speed; throw up even a straw upon the air, and you will see which way the wind blows; submit your heretical and Catholic principle to the action of the multitude, and you will be able to pronounce at once whether it is imbued with Catholic truth or with heretical falsehood.

and goes on to show this in the history of Arianism:

It is not a little remarkable, that, though, historically speaking, the fourth century is the age of doctors, illustrated, as it was, by the saints Athanasius, Hilary, the two Gregories, Basil, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine, and all of these saints bishops also, except one, nevertheless in that very day the divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate.

Here, of course, I must explain:— that in saying this, then, undoubtedly I am not denying that the great body of the Bishops were in their internal belief orthodox; nor that there were numbers of clergy who stood by the laity, and acted as their centres and guides; nor that the laity actually received their faith, in the first instance, from the Bishops and clergy; nor that some portions of the laity were ignorant, and other portions at length corrupted by the Arian teachers, who got possession of the sees and ordained an heretical clergy; — but I mean still, that in that time of immense confusion the divine dogma of our Lord’s divinity was proclaimed, enforced, maintained, and (humanly speaking) preserved far more by the “Ecclesia docta” than by the “Ecclesia docens”; that the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; that at one time the Pope, at other times the patriarchal, metropolitan, and other great sees, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while, on the other hand, it was the Christian people who, under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellae, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them.

and so on in a way that is summarized in one sentence in The Arians of the Fourth Century (3rd ed, 1871):

The Catholic people, in the length and breadth of Christendom, were the obstinate champions of Catholic truth, and the bishops were not.

Note that this was after the Council of Nicaea of 325, which supposedly settled the question of Arianism. Bloggers, Keep the Faith!

Have Mercy on My Romanian

Doamne Isuse Hristoase, fiul lui Dumnezeu, miluieşte-mă pe mine, păcătosul.

See Jesus Prayer Variations.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Circles of Quills


Kneeling at Communion

Gathered these after reading Mean Tod Brown.

Code of Canon Law:

Can. 843 1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

General Instruction on the Roman Missal, Including Adaptations for the Dioceses of the United States of America:

160. The priest then takes the paten or ciborium and goes to the communicants, who, as a rule, approach in a procession. The faithful are not permitted to take the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them from one to another. The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.

INSTRUCTION Redemptionis Sacramentum On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist:

[90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.

[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ's faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pastor Invites Parish Families to Leave the Diocese

So says the May 2006 Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission. Father Martin Tran’s form letter to the 37 (55?) families was not printed, but his dismissals of a parish pastoral council member and of the altar servers coordinator were:

Dear B—,

I would like to inform you, according to the criteria of the parish pastoral council: "consultative" role to the Administrator/pastor, from now on, you are dismissed (no personal offense please!) from being a member of the St. Mary's by the Sea. For you cannot help me to implement the current liturgical norms of the diocese (you chose to kneel at the Final Blessing).

Thanks a lot for all your past contribution to the council. God bless!

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Martin Tran

Dear D—,

Since you hold a very significant role in the service for the parish as Coordinator of the altar servers, you are supposed to be a role model for the altar servers and for the whole parish in following to the liturgical norms of the Diocese of Orange. Three times you did not follow these norms during Sunday Masses (1st, 2nd and 3rd Sunday of Advent)(you knelt down after the Lamb of God right in front of the people). For our first meeting, I said very clear that you would be the the Altar Servers Coordinator with the condition that you should follow the liturical norms of the diocese. And you promised that. Now, you broke it. Therefore, you disqualify yourself being the Coordinator for altar servers. As Administrator of the parish, in obedience to the Bishop, I decided to terminate you as Coordinator of the Altar Servers immediately, effective today Dec 14, 2005. And you are not welcome in the sacristy or in the sanctuary to serve any Mass. Fr. Mackin agreed to this! Fr. Lake will be noticed about this also! And if you are holding any keys of the parish, please return them to the rectory immediately. Thanks for your cooperation!

From now on, I and I— L— will take care of the altar servers. Thanks a lot for your service. May God reward you with all God's blessings! Please continue to pray for one another. God bless!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Martin Tran

St. Mary’s by the Sea is in the Diocese of Orange. Meanwhile, in the Diocese of Los Angeles, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood is about to be renovated. First to blog about this was Karen Hall in Some Have Hats. See:

Thing of Beauty is a Joy For . . . about fifty years

Are you with me, or are you with the terrorists?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Sacrament of Forgiveness

Since I have recommended that the Sacrament of Confession, Penance, Reconciliation be called the Sacrament of Forgiveness, and because the sacrament gives me happiness, I should perhaps say more about it. As befitting my situation, I take a very low view based on the translation of the Bible I usually quote.

Forgive us our debts.
— Matthew 6:12 (KJV)

Suppose you received a credit card bill that you don't have to pay — ever. What if you’ve been receiving and not paying bills for 5, 15, 20 years and hear about a way to get the credit card company to erase the debt and the accumulated interest and fines? Now don’t tell me you want to pay, you would feel guilty if you didn't pay. We are talking about forgiveness: the credit card company won’t take your money: if you feel guilty, give the money to the poor and follow Christ.

But don’t go to the credit card company and ask them to explain debt forgiveness. They have the power to forgive your debt and they will have you understand that they have the power. Didn’t Simone Weil write about “the superb indifference that the powerful have for the weak"? Yes, they do promote the plan, in a way that today hardly anybody takes advantage of it. I am writing about the management. The person you actually meet will be as happy to forgive as you will be to be forgiven — but he will be very professional about it.

You may have trouble thinking about your debt. This is not surprising, especially if you have been ignoring the bills. Who goes over a bill unless he intends to pay it? You may have a vague ominous feeling of something building up, or you may even deny that anything is building up. Poor soul: In the spiritual economy the rich (saints) know their many debts.

Surely you are not embarrassed by your lack of debt — that you don’t go to confession because you would have to say, Bless me, Father, for I have not sinned? You are Catholic?

Or do you think that you are forgiven, whether or not you use the sacrament of forgiveness? Then why are you still reading this post? Shouldn’t you be rereading The Da Vinci Code?

But possibly you are not skilled at examining your debts. You are embarrassed, or feel you may be embarrassed, but you don’t know to quite what extent and perhaps don’t want find out. Or you think that after you’re forgiven you’ll just acquire more debt — what’s more, the same kind of debt — what’s the use? The use is, Someone wants to forgive you, Someone died to forgive you, Someone will forgive you as much and as often as you need to be forgiven. The important thing, if you have not been forgiven in many years, is to be forgiven as soon as possible. Then the next time you will have fewer entries to look at.

So if you have something or some things you know you owe to God or neighbor, start with those. Otherwise say: “My last confession was x years ago. These are my sins: I have avoided confession and have forgotten how to confess my sins” and ask the priest to help you through the rest. Some items may come up that you may not consider debts — disputed claims, so to speak — don’t argue: just say whether you did or omitted to do: you will be forgiven if they are debts, you lose nothing if they aren’t; and besides, if you haven’t examined your bills in many years, who are you to play expert about your debts (see about saints above)? Just sign the papers (say you’re sorry): the priest will do what he is ordained to do, and you will leave a free man or woman. Your confession will be good, and you will have relearned how to confess. Do your penance. Thank God.


1. If you haven’t been to confession in years, go to a priest who doesn’t know you, perhaps in another parish, another town, another state, perhaps at a day of prayer or some other religious event. Do a face-to-face confession; be as matter-of-fact as possible (it may not be possible).

2. Get a “confession card” like Fr. Pat Umberger’s Credit Card to Heaven. Read it before the sacrament, take it with you into the sacrament. It has the words you start with and the act of contrition you end with. Knowing you can read them will give you courage.

3. When perfect strangers or imperfect friends ask you why you seem so happy, just tell them, “I go to Confession!”

From the Friars

Monday, May 08, 2006

Listen Up, Holy See!

The Vatican sometimes visits these pages, so I shall them this: The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not a good name. Oh, you can explain why it is so much better than “Confession”, but it isn’t. Why don’t you call it the Sacrament of Forgiveness?

Telling Stories

M has just completed two weeks devoted to storytelling. It started on April 27 at Proctors, where M led a workshop on The Art of Storytelling for Teachers and Students. Then on April 30 at Shenendehowa United Methodist Church, children M and Marni Gillard had been coaching performed in the Children at the Well youth storytelling event conceived by Gert Johnson of the Interfaith Story Circle of the Tri-City Area. Then followed seven days of the Riverway Storytelling Festival, in which M shared the stage with Judith Black, Eshu Bumpus, Dan Keding, Bob Reiser, and others. Tonight a group of Maple Hill Middle School students that M has been coaching performed at the Castleton Public Library.

A memorable time: great people, great stories, great story telling.

Hear Mary Murphy

Read Mary Murphy

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Why am I so happy? Or do I merely feel happy? If so, how long will the feeling last? And when I no longer feel happy, will I know that I am happy?


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Trilling on the difficulty of arguing with experts

Rereading Lionel Trilling’s review of Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities, I came across this passage:

It seldom occurs to us to take account of an inertia of a different kind [than the inertia of society], that which makes it virtually impossible to debate an idea on its merits, that which leads us to abandon intellectual effort in the face of experts who can muster against opposition not the convincing arguments but the social and moral attitudes which have the effect of suggesting that adverse views are impious.
—Lionel Trilling, “No Mean City” in Arthur Krystal, ed., A Company of Readers: Uncollected Writings of W. H. Auden, Jacques Barzun, and Lionel Trilling from the Readers’ Subscription and Mid-Century Book Clubs

This second inertia makes serious discussion between parishioners and the liturgical design consultant virtually impossible, so that “parish involvement” is often an elaborate deception.

Lionel Trilling on not accepting alienation

Lionel Trilling and Quentin Anderson in front of Lamb House in Rye, England

Who that has had experience of our social reality will doubt its alienated condition? And who that has thought of his experience in the light of certain momentous speculations made over the last two centuries, of which a few have been touched on in these pages, will not be disposed to find some seed of cogency in a view that proposes an antinomian reversal of all accepted values, of all received realities?

But who that has spoken, or tried to speak, with a psychotic friend will consent to betray the masked pain — his bewilderment and solitude — by making it the paradigm of liberation from the imprisoning falsehoods of an alienated social reality? Who that finds intelligible the sentences which describe madness (to use the word that cant prefers) in terms of trascendence and charisma will fail to penetrate to the great refusal of human connection that they express, the appalling belief that human existence is made authentic by the possession of a power, or the persuasion of its possession, which is not to be qualified or restricted by the co-ordinate existence of any fellow man? . . .

Perhaps exactly because the thought is assented to so facilely, so without what used to be called seriousness, it might seem that no expression of disaffection from the social existence was ever so desperate as this eagerness to say that authenticity of personal being is achieved through an ultimate isolateness and through the power that this is presumed to bring. The falsities of an alienated social reality are rejected in favor of an upward psychopathic mobility to the point of divinity, each one of us a Christ — but with none of the inconveniences of undertaking to intercede, of being a sacrifice, of reasoning with rabbis, of making sermons, of having disciples, of going to weddings and to funerals, of beginning something and at a certain point remarking that it is finished.

— Lionel Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity, quoted in Quentin Anderson, Lionel Trilling at Columbia

Father Glenn Sudano

Am spending a day of prayer with Father Glenn Sudano of the Congregation of the Franciscans of the Renewal.

Went to confession and received Holy Communion.

Save the Pine Bush

Friday, May 05, 2006

Romano Guardini (1964) and Dom Armand Veilleux (2005)

I’ve probably quoted these before, but I want to put the two links together.

As I see it, typical nineteenth-century man was no longer able to perform this [liturgical] act; in fact he was unaware of its existence. Religious conduct was to him an individual inward matter which in the “liturgy” took on the character of an official, public ceremonial. But the sense of the liturgical action was thereby lost. The faithful did not perform a proper liturgical act at all, it was simply a private and inward act, surrounded by ceremonial and not infrequently accompanied by a feeling that the ceremonial was really a disturbing factor. From that point of view the efforts of those who concerned themselves with the liturgy must have appeared as peculiarities of aesthetes who lacked Christian sincerity.
— Romano Guardini, A Letter on the Essence of the Liturgical Act (1964)

As a matter of fact, very few of the traditional Christian symbols, including the liturgical ones, are perceived as symbols by most men and women of today, including the good Christian. In most cases, those rites and gestures have lost their symbolic value. My personal conviction is that we should not try to invent new symbols with the hope that they will speak to today’s men and women. We should rather try to recognize the symbolic value of everything we do in our daily life and of everything around us. And this is linked with something still much deeper, culturally as well as theologically. I mean the place of the “religious” dimension in human life. This is probably the most important cultural change of our time, touching not only Christianity but all the great religious traditions of the world; and that change is, to my mind, a fruit of the Gospel, at the end of a long evolution of humankind.
— Dom Armand Veilleux, Exploring the Essential (2005)


Book List

Two books on language recommended by Lewis H. Lapham:

Don Watson, Death Sentences : How Cliches, Weasel Words and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language, Gotham, 2005.

Eric Larsen, A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit, Shoemaker & Hoard, 2006.

Recommended by Dom Alcuin Read:

Tracey Rowland, Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II, Routledge, 2003.

From Dom Alcuin Read’s review:

To live in the aftermath of an Ecumenical Council appears never to have been easy. In our own age, we who have grown up in the shadow of Vatican II need to remember this. We probably suffer from having been told “Vatican II changed all that” in respect of all aspects of Church life, and we may well have looked on whilst those who questioned such “changes” were consigned to perdition.

Such is the deference with which we have been taught that we must speak about Vatican II and all its works that I was astonished to read in Aidan Nichols' The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger an account of Ratzinger's substantial criticisms of the Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes. Surely this was the document of the Council par excellence? How could it be subject to such informed criticism?

The answer is that most of the documents of Vatican II contain reformable prudential judgements made in contingent circumstances; they are not dogmatic definitions to which one owes the assent of faith, but rather, largely, they seek to chart pastoral policy for the Church (eg, one can be a Catholic in good faith and believe that the Council was silly to call for the introduction of bidding prayers into the Mass — the decision is simply a matter of judgement, not doctrine). Once this is understood, it is perfectly reasonable for a peritus of the Council, as Joseph Ratzinger was, to engage in a critical evaluation of these judgements and policies.

Today, it is, surely, no less appropriate that critical evaluation should continue, particularly in the light of the almost forty years' experience since, for, even if the policies of the Council were apposite, the pastoral policies appropriate to the Church today may well not be identical to those of forty years ago.

Enter the Australian Cambridge scholar Dr Tracey Rowland. . . .

Review by Father Peter Joseph, STD

Tracey Rowland interviewed:
Benedict XVI, Vatican II and Modernity (Part 1)
Benedict XVI, Vatican II and Modernity (Part 2)

John Paul II Institute for Marriage & Family — Melbourne
Associate Professor Tracey Rowland


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Muslims do become Christian

I was impressed when I read:

Many Muslims become secular, but few become Christian.
— Spengler, Cat and mouse with Muslim paranoia

I wonder if Spengler knows that:

In Egypt alone there are at least 10,000 Muslims who convert to Christianity each year. At the same time, there are at least 12,000 Christians who become Muslim. This phenomenon of conversions from Islam to Christianity is rampant throughout the Middle East and in the world.
— Samir Khalil Samir, Islam humiliates religious freedom of Christians and human rights of Muslims. It’s time for change.

Courage. Peace.

Benedict and Islam

God must still love the world to have given us Benedict XVI.

Samir Khalil Samir, S.J., When Civilizations Meet: How Joseph Ratzinger Sees Islam

In another article, Samil Khailil Samir writes:

Muhammad Chalabi, the head of Al Ahzar in the 1950s, used to say “We do not force the apostate to return to Islam, so as to not contradict the word of God which prohibits any constriction on faith. But we leave him the opportunity to return voluntarily. If he does not return, he must be killed because he is an instrument of subversion (fitnah) and opens the door to pagans to attack Islam and to sow doubt among Muslims. The apostate is therefore declaredly at war with Islam even if he does not lift a sword against Muslims.” This is the usual thinking in Islam. . . .
The time has come for a choice. If there is incompatibility between human rights and the rights set out in the Koran, then - I'm sorry to say - the Koran must be condemned; or else it must be said that our understanding of the Koran puts us against human rights and freedom of conscience, and so the interpretation must change.
Islam humiliates religious freedom of Christians and human rights of Muslims. It’s time for change.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

There should not be a crucifix on the altar during Mass

5/6/2006: I recant this post.

Commenting on Where Altar Crucifixes Should Face:

Despite GIRM 308, a crucifix should not be on the altar during the Mass, for two reasons:

1. In the Mass, the Son is offered to the Father, who is greater than the Son (John 14:28). The Son should not dominate the Mass.

2. The real — the actual — presence of the Son is on the paten and in the cup. There should be only one Christ on the altar, just as there should be only one altar in the church (GIRM 303). I say one Christ on the altar, not denying in any way the priest as a second Christ, the people as members of the body of Christ, etc.

The crucifix should be near the altar “where it is clearly visible to the assembled congregation”, but not on it.

Added 5/4/2006:

I am not talking about what we know but about what we do. Yes, I disagree with Cardinal Ratzinger and the past 500 or more years about putting the Son above the Father. We know we do not, yet we do.


Hitler and Stalin

One is always glad to read a new book by John Lukacs. June 1941: Hitler and Stalin (Yale, 2006).

Professor Lukacs ends this book with his favorite Portuguese proverb: God Writes Straight with Crooked LInes.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The 16th name has been added to the

I had something to do with five of them. Such a small response does not speak well for the house of intellect.


Wednesday is reading-aloud day for me. At noon, I am the lector at Mass in Holy Cross Church and in the evening I read Rousseau’s Confessions to our neighbor Ted Adams.

+ +

Someone in the Holy See has Googled “cobh cathedral”. Who?

+ + +

Spengler on Why war comes when no one wants it.

+ + + +

WGO telephoned asking if he could see me. Seems the “interior committee” that will recommend renovations to our cathedral wanted to know what I intended by starting a Google Group on Renovation: Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Albany. Told him that I wanted to create a forum in which members of the parish and community could have a say on the topic, but that I doubted if anyone will step up to the mic — none has so far.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Athanasius contra mundum. Not that everyone was against him, but he did have enemies enough, was condemned by bishops, persecuted by emperors, and at least four times was exiled from his world. He would have made an ideal blogger. “He was endowed with a sense of humour that could be as mordant — we had almost said as sardonic — as it seems to have been spontaneous and unfailing; and his courage was of the sort that never falters, even in the most disheartening hour of defeat” (Catholic Encyclopedia).

See also Ed Bakker’s Daily Reflections.


People today no longer make culture but merely careers. In this they are not entirely blameless. Lord, lay not this sin to their charge (Acts, 7:60).

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Light Now Shineth

History is not speeding up — it is actually slowing down.
John Lukacs in 2003

The question I thought about often looking at Hungary today is that the rising of 1956 had to fail. Perhaps it had to fail in the same way as the heroic attempt of those German aristocrats who tried to overthrow Hitler in 1944 had to fail. Had they not failed in Germany, there would have been civil war in Germany, and the German people would have had a reason to think that Germany was stabbed in the back again, as it was in 1918. No, these tragedies had to happen. Perhaps God wanted it that way.
—Lukacs, Ibid.

We write to be read. When we light a candle, we don't put it under a bushel, but in a blog, to give light unto all that are in the world. But men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.

What, then, should we stop writing? Not while we have the light. Yet a little while is the light with you. Write while ye have the light.

Do we have the light? We see through a glass, darkly. We may be mistaken, we may be mad. But even a madman has his morals, and should be true to his madness.

Let us not be imposed on. The world that crucified Christ cannot be sane.

Great men are often the negation and opposite of their age. They give it the lie.
— John Jay Chapman, “Emerson” . See Castle Freeman Jr., John Jay Chapman: Brief Life of a Neglected Critic, 1862–1933

It is what the world does not hear that is most worth saying.

I have seen ten years of young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find how deaf the world is, they think they must save their strength and wait. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little eminence from which they can make themselves heard. “In a few years,” reasons one of them, “I shall have gained a standing, and then I will use my powers for good.” Next year comes and with it a strange discovery. The man has lost his horizon of thought. His ambition has evaporated; he has nothing to say. I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.
— Chapman, Speech to the graduating class of Hobart College, 1900

We are children of the kingdom, in which the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. Let us love and learn to bear the beams of love. Be of good cheer: Christ has overcome the world.

Riverway Storytelling Festival