Liturgy of the Hours

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Pope vs. the Pill

Published: July 27, 2008

FORTY years ago last week, Pope Paul VI provoked the greatest uproar against a papal edict in the long history of the Roman Catholic Church when he reiterated the church’s ban on artificial birth control by issuing the encyclical “Humanae Vitae.” At the time, commentators predicted that not only would the teaching collapse under its own weight, but it might well bring the “monarchical papacy” down with it.

Those forecasts badly underestimated the capacity of the Catholic Church to resist change and to stand its ground.

Down the centuries, Catholics have frequently groused about papal rulings. Usually they channeled that dissent into blithe disobedience, though occasionally a Roman mob would run the Successor of Peter out of town on a rail just to make a point. In 1848, Pope Pius IX was driven into exile by Romans incensed at his refusal to embrace Italy’s unification.

Never before July 25, 1968, however, had opposition been so immediate, so public and so widespread. World-famous theologians called press conferences to rebut the pope’s reasoning. Conferences of Catholic bishops issued statements that all but licensed churchgoers to ignore the encyclical. Pastors openly criticized “Humanae Vitae” from the pulpit.

In a nutshell, “Humanae Vitae” held that the twin functions of marriage — to foster love between the partners and to be open to children — are so closely related as to be inseparable. In practice, that meant a resounding no to the pill.

The encyclical quickly became seen, both in the secular world and in liberal Catholic circles, as the papacy’s Waterloo. It was so out of sync with the hopes and desires of the Catholic rank and file that it simply could not stand.

And in some ways, it didn’t. Today polls show that Catholics, at least in the West, dissent from the teaching on birth control, often by majorities exceeding 80 percent.

But at the official level, Catholicism’s commitment to “Humanae Vitae” is more solid than ever.

During his almost 27-year papacy, John Paul II provided a deeper theoretical basis for traditional Catholic sexual morality through his “theology of the body.” In brief, the late pope’s argument was that human sexuality is an image of the creative love among the three persons of the Trinity, as well as God’s love for humanity. Birth control “changes the language” of sexuality, because it prevents life-giving love.

That’s a claim many Catholics might dispute, but the reading groups and seminars devoted to contemplating John Paul’s “theology of the body” mean that Catholics disposed to defend the church’s teaching now have a more formidable set of resources than they did when Paul VI wrote “Humanae Vitae.”

In addition, three decades of bishops’ appointments by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both unambiguously committed to “Humanae Vitae,” mean that senior leaders in Catholicism these days are far less inclined than they were in 1968 to distance themselves from the ban on birth control, or to soft-pedal it. A striking number of Catholic bishops have recently brought out documents of their own defending “Humanae Vitae.”

Advocates of the encyclical draw assurance from the declining fertility rates across the developed world, especially in Europe. No country in Europe has a fertility rate above 2.1, the number of children each woman needs to have by the end of her child-bearing years to keep a population stable.

Even with increasing immigration, Europe is projected to suffer a population loss in the 21st century that will rival the impact of the Black Death, leading some to talk about the continent’s “demographic suicide.”

Not coincidentally, Europe is also the most secular region of the world, where the use of artificial contraception is utterly unproblematic. Among those committed to Catholic teaching, the obvious question becomes: What more clear proof of the folly of separating sex and child-bearing could one want?

So the future of “Humanae Vitae” as the teaching of the Catholic Church seems secure, even if it will also continue to be the most widely flouted injunction of the church at the level of practice.

The encyclical’s surprising resilience is a reminder that forecasting the Catholic future in moments of crisis is always a dangerous enterprise — a point with relevance to a more recent Catholic predicament. Many critics believe that the church has not yet responded adequately to the recent sex-abuse scandals, leading to predictions that the church will “have to” become more accountable, more participatory and more democratic.

While those steps may appear inevitable today, it seemed unthinkable to many observers 40 years ago that “Humanae Vitae” would still be in vigor well into the 21st century.

Catholicism can and does change, but trying to guess how and when is almost always a fool’s errand.

John L. Allen Jr. is the senior correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter and the author of “The Rise of Benedict XVI.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Update: Titular Solemnity of Saint Mary Magdalene

From Mr. R. G. C. Mediran's Flicker account, I am posting images of our dearly beloved patroness, Saint Mary Magdalene, during her titular solemnity and after the Pontifical and Concelebrated Mass commencing the Year of Celebration for the 125th anniversary of the parish.

At her 'shrine' inside the church.

During the procession.

Displayed for public veneration in front of the sanctuary after the rainy procession.

The dress (or gown?) that the image is wearing is a gift from Rev. Fr. Benito de Castro, parish administrator.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"O Mapalad na Magdalena. . . "

July 22 is the Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord, Apostle to the Apostles (Apostola Apostolorum) and to the Easterners, the Myrrh-bearer. To the Catholic Parish of Amadeo, it is a titular Solemnity in addition to the opening of a special Year in celebration of the 125tyh anniversary of its institution.

Let this post be a fitting, however insufficient, tribute to her, "O Mapalad na Magdalena" as the decades old hymn of Amadeans put it.

Saint Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord,
pray for us!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ex-Anglican communities to become Catholic, Rome confirms

Wednesday, July 16, 2008, 01:08 PM GMT

(Damian Thomson's Holy Smoke,

The Catholic Church will expand its provision of "Anglican Use" parishes in the United States in order to allow whole communities of traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman fold, a senior Catholic archbishop has announced.

Pope Benedict on a recent visit ot the Yankee Stadium in New York

The Most Rev John J Myers, Archbishop of Newark and Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, told a conference of ex-Anglicans on Friday that "we are working on expanding the mandate of the Pastoral Provision [of Catholic parishes using Anglican-inspired services] to include those clergy and faithful of 'continuing Anglican communities'.

"We are striving to increase awareness of our apostolate to Anglican Christians who desire to be reconciled with the Holy See. We have experienced the wonder of several Episcopal bishops entering into full communion with the Catholic Church and we continue to receive requests from priests and laity about the Pastoral Provision."

This is big news, and makes nonsense of the claim that Pope Benedict wants to dissuade Anglo-Catholics from converting. The obvious interpretation of the Archbishop's words is that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a "continuing church" which has hundreds of thousands of members worldwide (though few in the UK), will eventually be given its own Catholic parishes which use a Eucharistic Prayer incorporating Cranmerian language.

This possibility has existed since the 1970s, but Archbishop Myers indicates that it is only now - under a sympathetic Pope, and during the break-up of the Anglican Communion - that the Pastoral Provision is entering a new dimension.

If Rome is expanding its network of ex-Anglican parishes in America, then we can rest assured that it is sympathetic to the notion of group conversion in England. The Vatican is well aware that such a process is likely to be complicated and patchy; no one is naive enough to assume that entire parishes will "bring their buildings with them".

But the plan to found a priestly Fellowship of St Gregory the Great for ex-Anglican clergy and members of their flock seems eminently feasible, given imagination on the part of both sides - and the courage to defy the Tabletistas who would try to sabotage the scheme.

Hat tip to Perpetua for drawing my attention to Archbishop Myers's announcement, a truly remarkable development.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vatican "regret" at Church of England vote

Vatican, Jul. 8, 2008 ( - The Vatican has "regretfully" acknowledged a vote by the synod of the Church of England allowing the ordination of women as bishops.

The Church of England voted on July 7 to approve women bishops, sweeping aside a proposed compromise that would have provided a separate hierarchical structure for more conservative believers. Over 1,000 clerics of the Church of England have threatened to leave the Anglican communion if they are forced to acknowledge female bishops. Some Anglican bishops have reportedly spoken with Vatican officials about entering the Catholic Church.

In a statement released after the Anglican synod vote, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity said that the Church of England was making "a break with the apostolic tradition maintained by all of the churches of the first millennium." That step, the statement continued, constitutes "a further obstacle to reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England."

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, had warned Anglican leaders that the approval of female bishops would jeopardize dialogue "which had up until now borne fruit," the Vatican statement noted.

Cardinal Kasper delivered that warning in June 2006, when he spoke to the bishops of the Church of England at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The cardinal has been invited to address Anglican leaders once again when the Lambeth Conference convenes later this month.

Definitely Healthy

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Summorum Pontificum" One Year Later (Part 2)

Father John Zuhlsdorf Analyzes its Effects

By Annamarie Adkins

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, JULY 7, 2008 ( Even though Benedict XVI’s letter “Summorum Pontificum” on the traditional form of the Mass has been in effect less than a year, it has already made an impact, says an expert on liturgical translations.

Father John Zuhlsdorf, a former employee of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, is a noted authority on both liturgical translations and the 1962 missal. He also writes the “What Does the Prayer Really Say?” column in The Wanderer newspaper, and is the author of a popular blog by the same name.

In Part 2 of this interview with ZENIT, he spoke with ZENIT about the impact “Summorum Pontificum” has had on the life of the Church life one year after its release.

Part 1 appeared Sunday.

Q: Benedict XVI stated in the letter accompanying “Summorum Pontificum” that he hoped each form of the Mass -- ordinary and extraordinary -- would mutually enrich the other. In particular, he desired that the extraordinary form would restore a sense of the sacred to the ordinary form, or Novus Ordo. One year after “Summorum Pontificum,” have you seen the extraordinary form exercise any "gravitational pull" on the Novus Ordo?

Father Zuhlsdorf: Yes, we can see this “pull” at work in some places, but there is a long way to go. Gravity exerts a steady pull, but inertia, especially momentum in the wrong direction, must still be overcome.

It has only been one year since the letter was issued, and only since September that it has been in force. Initially there were flurries of enthusiasm and vituperation, crowing and panic.

The text had to be read and absorbed. The Holy See had to clarify the authentic wording. Problems and questions are still being identified. A document with clarifications obviously remains on the drafting desk.

But the mere awareness of the provisions of “Summorum Pontificum” has made an impact. “Personal parishes” are being established for use of the older Mass and rites of sacraments. Books and training materials had to be created. They are now starting to be published. All this takes time.

Also, the Holy Father changed the conversation about liturgy and certain post-Conciliar practices by celebrating the Novus Ordo in a more traditional way, by using historic vestments, by returning to distributing Communion on the tongue to people kneeling, and so forth.

But the real pull of the older Mass and Benedict XVI’s efforts toward continuity with the Novus Ordo will be felt in the future.

For example, time and time again younger priests tell me that after learning the traditional Latin Mass they never say Holy Mass in the Novus Ordo the same way. There are things you learn about priesthood and Holy Mass from the traditional Latin Mass that you simply don’t pick up from the Novus Ordo, especially as it is usually celebrated in so many of our parishes and chapels.

How a priest says Mass affects a parish profoundly, at the level of reverence, vocations, everything.

Even though Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day, neither will it be quickly rebuilt. We have suffered a disastrous loss of basic priestly formation in Latin and theology and the culture that goes with them. This will take time to recover.

Seminaries need time to ramp up to meet the new needs the letter calls forth. Seminarians are eager to learn. Who will do the teaching?

In parishes young people more and more desire a greater continuity with the past. They are discovering their Catholic heritage and that they have been robbed. Eventually they will hold the positions of influence in parishes and Catholic schools.

On a concrete level, some bishops, priests, liturgists and musicians are rethinking the value of some common post-conciliar practices.

For example, a few days after Benedict XVI started to distribute Communion on the tongue to people kneeling, a bishop in the United States did precisely the same thing for Corpus Christi.

They are reassessing the great advantages of Mass celebrated "ad orientem," everyone facing the same direction toward the altar and the Crucifix. Latin is being reappraised. Musicians are dusting off the treasury of sacred liturgical music that has been hidden for decades.

The "motu proprio" is pulling, but there is still resistance, and laziness. Time, patience and open minds are needed to get things moving. The law of inertia in physics is that bodies in motion or at rest stay that way until another force works on them. The "motu proprio" is such a force.

Q: What have been some noteworthy, or perhaps unexpected, developments in the Church related to “Summorum Pontificum” since its release?

Father Zuhlsdorf: A noteworthy result must be the shift in attitude of and about people who desire traditional liturgy.

For so long the ecclesiastical establishment looked down on and marginalized more traditional Catholics, shoving them to the back of the bus because of their attachment to our tradition. Some of the more benign saw them as being like our family’s nutty but harmless aunt up in the attic.

On the other hand, many traditionalists, perhaps out of the deep hurts and disillusionment they felt after all the changes in the Church, the silly season of illicit innovations, the ash-canning of our beautiful churches, music, vestments, statues, devotions, you name it, wound up with an enormous chip on their collective shoulder.

As time went by, many of them knew no other way to “negotiate” with bishops and priests but simply to get in their face, make pushy demands, and arrogantly tell them what to do. It got to a point where even clerics who were open and sympathetic started to wince and back away whenever traditionalists approached. And so the waters of good relations froze.

Now, because some of the pain and alienation is starting to melt away in the hearts of many traditionalists, now that they can simply have what they should have been able to have all along, now that a little warm sunshine is being beamed in their direction by the Holy Father and others who share his vision, pastors of souls are starting to unclench as well.

The ice is breaking up and the water is flowing again. This was not an unexpected development. I fully believed this would happen because traditionalists are mostly good people who love Holy Church and want the best for their families, priests and bishops.

Bishops and priests, even when they are not personally inclined to traditional things, are mostly good men who love their flocks and sincerely desire their good. They all share common ground in what really matters. What I am surprised by is that the breaking of the ice dam -- though there is a long way to go yet -- is happening so quickly.

I underestimated the warmth of the sunlight and the openness of hearts, especially on the part of some bishops who, as a body, have not shown themselves in the past to be very friendly to traditional liturgy. This has made me rethink my own attitudes.

"Summorum Pontificum" One Year Later (Part 1)

Father John Zuhlsdorf Analyzes Its Effects

By Annamarie Adkins

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, JULY 6, 2008 ( Benedict XVI's letter "Summorum Pontificum" on the traditional form of the Mass has sparked an increased interest in the Latin-language liturgy, especially among priests, says an expert on liturgical translations.

Father John Zuhlsdorf, a former employee of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, is a noted authority on both liturgical translations and the 1962 Missal. He also writes the "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" column in the Wanderer newspaper, and is the author of a popular blog by the same name.

In Part 1 of this interview with ZENIT, he spoke about new interest in the traditional Latin Mass and various concerns raised regarding "Summorum Pontificum."

Part 2 of this interview will appear Monday.

Q: Has there been much of a demand for the traditional Latin Mass since the release of "Summorum Pontificum"?

Father Zuhlsdorf: No and yes. We have not seen hordes of the faithful hammering on rectory doors to demand the older Mass. But there has been a steady increase of parishes where the traditional Latin Mass is now celebrated regularly.

The trickle is becoming a stream.

Initially, there were unrealistic expectations. Many who favor the older Mass were overly optimistic that the floodgates would crash open. The naysayers, often in positions of power, tried to stem the tide by speaking very negatively, not only about the older Mass, but also about the people who desire it.

Many diocesan bishops, incredibly, threw up unreasonable obstacles to the good provisions the Holy Father generously promulgated. That resistance is now crumbling under the scrutiny of the blogosphere and pressure from the Holy See.

The other factor is that very many young priests want to learn the traditional Latin Mass. For example, I hear that over 1,000 priests have requested the new training DVD that the Fraternity of St. Peter made together with EWTN.

Scores of priests are attending training workshops in Chicago and Nebraska, in Oxford, England, and elsewhere, whenever they are offered. As priests learn this form of the Mass, they will begin implementing it in parishes.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Benedict XVI's point man in these matters, stated that the Holy Father hopes this Mass will be offered widely, even if it has not been requested by the faithful.

University chaplaincies are being pushed by students to make the traditional Latin Mass available. This trend will only increase on an upward curve.

Q: The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is reportedly preparing a document to clarify some ambiguities related to implementing "Summorum Pontificum." What have been the main difficulties thus far that such a document should address?

Father Zuhlsdorf: The document will probably clarify some terms in the "motu proprio" that have been used by some diocesan bishops and priests to block what the Holy Father is trying to accomplish.

For example, "Summorum Pontificum" says priests must be idoneus, "capable, competent" to say Mass with the older book. Idoneus, a technical term, refers to the minimum requirements for competence, not to expertise.

Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, a distinguished canonist in his day, correctly stated that idoneus, as far as the Latin language is concerned, means that the priest must be able to pronounce the words properly. That is the minimum.

Of course we hope for far more than that. But some bishops are subjecting priests to exams in Latin before they determine whether he can exercise his right to say Mass using the 1962 Missale Romanum, or even in Latin with the Novus Ordo, that is to say, Mass in his own rite, as a priest of the Latin Church.

Another issue is how large a group, a coetus, making a request for the older Mass must be before the parish priest is required to act in their favor. Those and other questions pertain to the interpretation of the "motu proprio."

Practical questions have arisen as well. For example, the Holy See should give direction about the relationship of the two liturgical calendars. I think the Holy See should issue an "ordo" for the traditional Mass, a yearly booklet indicating which Mass must be said each day.

Clarifications about the style of vestments that may be used, or the sort of music, could be useful. There are questions about Communion in the hand or altar girls, how those fit with the spirit and the rubrics of the pre-conciliar Mass.

Smaller details, for example about the so-called second Confiteor before Communion, or some traditions people desire from before the 1962 Missal should be made clear.

This upcoming document, and its particular authoritative responses, will help make the implementation of "Summorum Pontificum" orderly and serene.

Q: You have argued that "Summorum Pontificum" is the centerpiece of Benedict XVI's "Marshall Plan" for the Church. But the term "Marshall Plan" implies rebuilding from the ground up. Can you describe this plan and the role you believe the traditional Latin Mass fits within it?

Father Zuhlsdorf: Useful as they are, analogies limp. After World War II the United States rebuilt war-ravaged Europe both for humanitarian reasons, and also to help create trading partners and a prosperous bulwark against Communism.

After Vatican II, many spheres of the Church were devastated, ravaged by internal dissent, a loss of continuity with our tradition, and from erosion by the secularism and relativism of the prevailing modern world.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been concerned for years about the loss of Christian identity, which is at the heart of Western Civilization. Now Papa Ratzinger, I believe, is working to reinvigorate our Catholic identity, within the Church herself among her members and spheres of life, so that we can resist the negative influences of secularism and relativism.

Only with a solid identity can we, as Catholics, have something positive and healthy to offer to the world at large, a clear voice offering important contributions in the public square.

Our identity as Catholics is inextricably bound together with the way we pray as a Church.

To give shape and strength to our Catholic identity in these difficult times, we need an authentic liturgical renewal, a renewal that reintegrates us with our tradition, brings us into continuity with the deep roots of our Catholic Christian experience of two millennia.

Contrary to the notions of most progressivists, "the Catholic thing" did not begin in the 1960s.

Benedict XVI is guiding us to a healthier vision of the Church's doctrine, history, public worship and our very identity as Catholics. There can be no authentic change for a better future without continuity with our past. Liturgy is the tip of the spear.

A Pearl of Great Price

1 July, 2008
Feast of the Precious Blood

My dear friends,

I am happy to inform you that last June 18th, before Cardinal Castrillon and the members of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in Rome, I humbly petitioned the Holy See on my own behalf and on behalf of the monastery council for our priestly suspensions to be lifted.

On June 26th I received word that the Holy See had granted our petition. All canonical censures have been lifted.

Our community now truly rejoices in undisputed and peaceful posession of Communion with the Holy See because our priests are now in canonical good standing.

We are very grateful to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for issuing, last July, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which called us to come into undisputed and peaceful Communion with him.

Now we have that undisputed communion! It is a pearl of great price; a treasure hidden in the field; a sweetness that cannot be imagined by those who have not tasted it or who have not known it, now for many years. Its value cannot be fully expressed in earthly language and therefore we hope that all traditional priests who have not yet done so, will answer Pope Benedict's call to enjoy the grace of peaceful and undisputed communion with him. Believe us, the price to pay is nothing; even all the angry voices that have shouted against us and calumniated us are as nothing when weighed in the scales against undisputed communion with the Vicar of Christ; others have died for it; what are raucous voices?

We publicly thank all those souls who have prayed for us over the last months; some of you have truly stormed heaven for us. You have kept us afloat. We are deeply grateful. Especially we thank that priest who was unknown to us, until June 16th when he wrote in fraternal support. Where did he come from? Why us? But he told us of the number of Masses, Offices, prayers and sacrifices he had personally said for us; he had also enlisted the prayers of contemplatives and Third Order societies and had a great number of people fervently praying for us with an abundance of prayers. We were amazed! Thank you Father! Thank you also to that brave person who, so kindly wrote to us to say that if he said any more prayers for us he would be floating! What wonderful people! Thank you!

Looking to the future, the next stage will be to have our community canonically erected. So please, dear friends, keep praying for us, there will be many crosses to bear; but they will be yokes sweetened by the grace of these last days.

We assure you all of our very best wishes.
Your devoted servant,

Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R.
Vicar General

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tu es Petrus

et super hanc petram ædificabo ecclesiam meam
et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.
Et tibi dabo claves regni cælorum.

Images above are from Hallowedground.

Photo credit: American Papist.

A tribute to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

On the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

and the start of the Pauline Year. . .

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI and His Beatitude, Patriarch Bartholomew I during the entrance procession of the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29, 2008).

Andrew visits Peter.

(Image from NLM. Visit the NLM blog for a visual treat.)