Some Of My Favorite Things

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Disrespecting Islam

Pamela Geller recently held a "Draw Mohammed" cartoon contest in Garland, TX. Two Muslim men took offense, and took AK-47s to the event to express their offense. After grazing one officer in the ankle with a bullet, both gentlemen received a Texas welcome and are now cooling in the morgue.
Many commentators have responded to this event with two observations:
  1. These Muslim men were completely out-of-line, but Pamela Gellar provoked it because she was "disrespecting Islam."
  2. This country was founded on respect for religion and Gellar broke with that American tradition by holding the "Draw Mohammed" event at all.
 Both observations are complete crap.

Argument 1

If the commentators really believe that disrespect for Islam has no place in American society, then they must, by making the statements they have, plead guilty to disrespecting Islam. They have made a cartoon of Islam just as surely as any of Pamela Geller's contestants.
We can certainly agree that it is disrespectful to a religion to argue that some tenet of that religion is completely ridiculous. Geller's argument is that it is completely ridiculous to punish the drawing of images of Mohammed with the death penalty. Do you see the anti-Geller position's problem?

To be logically consistent, anti-Geller commentators cannot simultaneously insist that Geller was disrespectful AND that the death penalty for cartoonists is not acceptable. By the very fact that anyone says killing over a cartoon is ridiculous or unacceptable, they are making the SAME argument Geller makes. The only difference is, they are making the argument with words instead of pictures.

So, when they say that Geller is disrespectful for holding the contest, they are also admitting that they themselves are disrespectful when they assert that the death penalty should not apply to cartoonists. After all, that was the whole point of shooting the place up, right? Many Muslims insist that the death penalty MUST apply to cartoonists in order to show proper respect for Islam. Geller's critics can only avoid being hypocrites by agreeing with the gentlemen wielding AK-47s, and arguing that in order to show proper American respect for religion, we must allow Muslims to carry out their religious ritual of human sacrifice.

Argument 2

This country was built on a lot of different principles, but respect for religion was never one of them. Keep in mind that for America's first century, the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty was understood to apply only to the federal government, not to state governments. If states wished to favor one religion over another, they were free to do so. Thus, Catholics were locked out of many states' government offices, even locked out of public teaching positions at the state level, right through the 1890s.

Why do you think Virginia had a religious liberty clause written into her constitution? Because without that clause, the state was free to discriminate, and Thomas Jefferson knew it. The Bill of Rights concerned federal government action, not state governments. The idea that the federal constitution's restrictions could be imposed on states only appeared after the Civil War, when we slaughtered large groups of our own citizens in order to establish the 14th Amendment principle that the federal government could force its will on state governments and the state governments had to sit still and take it.

I'm not saying the Fourteenth Amendment was a bad idea. Even the founders recognized that slavery was going to have to be outlawed at some point. I'm just pointing out that, until the Fourteenth Amendment, the Constitution was not seen as having any necessary applicability to states.

So, no, despite the best efforts of Catholic settlers to create such a principle, our country was not founded on respect for religious freedom. It's a happy myth we maintain in the 21st century, but it is a myth. And, to be honest, even Catholics don't follow the whole "religious respect" thing.

We don't have respect for a religion that performs human sacrifice. We crushed the Aztecs and the Incas because they performed ritual human sacrifice. Muslims have a tendency to do the same, and Catholics do not respect that aspect of Islamic faith. We don't have any respect for a lot of stupid ideas in other religious traditions, nor does our Faith require that we do.

As Catholics, we are required to respect ONLY those principles in other religions that reflect Catholic principles. It is our duty as Catholics to at least studiously ignore anything that does not resonate with Catholic principles while we educate the heathen in Catholic ways, and - if necessary - actively outlaw and suppress those aspects of any belief system which egregiously violate Catholic principles. Thus, the conquistadors and the crusaders were perfectly right to take up the sword against the practitioners of human sacrifice.

Pamela Geller's critics need to stop their hypocrisy, stop trying to pretend orthodox Muslims espouse Christian beliefs. They don't.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Kneeling Before the Poor

In a recent radio address, Pope Francis expressed his heart's desire: "How I wish," he said, "that Christians could kneel in veneration when a poor person enters the church."

Some Catholics are taking issue with the Pope. "We kneel only before Christ Himself!" they exclaim heatedly.

Now, before I take a step more, let me quote St. Augustine (all saint quotes are taken from the preceding link):
Try to acquire the virtues you believe lacking in your brothers. Then you will no longer see their defects, for you will no longer have them yourself.
Some would say I am not virtuous, because I see a lack of virtue in this response to the Pope. I absolutely cannot argue with that assertion. I wholeheartedly agree with it. I am not virtuous. That having been said, I will merely point out that the people who attack the Pope for this remark have a problem. The Pope is quoting, almost word for word, a saint of the Catholic Church:
The poor and the sick are our owners and they represent the very person of Jesus Christ.
St. Luigi Scrosoppi
So, by asserting that the Pope is wrong, they are asserting the saint is wrong. In fact, they are asserting Christ is wrong.
The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of theleast of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.' "
I may not like the papal emphasis on the poor. But, the extent to which I don't like it demonstrates how NOT virtuous I am. In fact, it demonstrates how NOT Catholic I truly am. Catholics talk and act like Pope Francis, they don't talk and act like me.

Here are some additional saint quotes that prove Pope Francis is holier than you and I are:
No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbour a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.  St John Chrysostom 
He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.
St. Bede the Venerable 
If you want God to hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor. If you wish God to anticipate your wants, provide those of the needy without waiting for them to ask you. Especially anticipate the needs of those who are ashamed to beg. To make them ask for alms is to make them buy it.  St. Thomas of Villanova 
Let us not love by words alone, but let us love until it hurts. 
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta 
So long as there are poor,
I am poor,
So long as there are prisons,
I am a prisoner,
So long as there are sick,
I am weak,
So long as there is ignorance,
I must learn the truth,
So long as there is hate,
I must love,
So long as there is hunger,
I am famished.
Such is the identification Our Divine Lord would have us make with all whom He made in love and for love.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Now, no one cried "foul!" when Bishop Fulton Sheen said the same thing the Pope is saying today. If I dislike the Pope for saying this and things like it, then I dislike Christ.

That's a problem.

You and I, we need to solve our problems and remove the beams from our own eyes before we start attacking the Pope's vision.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On the "Missing" Work of Mercy

Some people who deeply dislike Pope Francis are making much of the fact that Misericordiae Vultus, the Pope's latest Bull on the works of mercy, seems to be conspicuously lacking one of the works. Specifically, it seems to lack the third spiritual work of mercy, "admonish the sinner."


Those same people never seem to consider that the Bull is directed towards all of us. We are all sinners who fail to do the works of mercy that we are supposed to be doing.

Thus, the entire Bull is an example of how to admonish the sinner.

Pope Francis lives the Faith.
Not so much.

God-Given Rights

So, recently Hillary has been mouthing off about the interaction between religion and rights. Let's see if she has a grasp of either one.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, 
America's founders refer to "unalienable Rights". How does that work?

God is Truth. Catholic Faith is the most accurate representation of Who God is, therefore it is the most accurate representation of Truth.

We are persons in the image and likeness of the original Persons. The three Persons of the Trinity are distinguished ONLY by the relationships between the three Persons: Begetting and Begotten (Father and Son), Spirating and Spirated (Father-Son and Spirit, Spirit and Father-Son).

Each Person defined by these relationships has Right relationship with the other two Persons. Each Person has a right way to interact with the other Two Persons. These are God's "rights". "Rights" refer to how a relationship is ordered, what is permissible within the relationship and what is not permissible.

Because God has rights, we have rights. Our rights flow from the image and likeness we are of God, they flow from our relationship with Him. Indeed, every "right" I have is merely an instance of my right relationship with God. Insofar as I do not have a right relationship with God, I have no "rights."

So, for instance, I do not have the "right" to murder because that would put my relationship with God in an un-right status. I only have the right to do that which keeps me in right relationship with God. That is what it means to say we are "endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights."

Rights are absolute because God is absolute and my relationship with God is the norm for everything I do. There is a way to maintain the relationship and grow it (a right) and a way to destroy it (not a right).

Every action, whether religious or not, is a reflection of my right relationship with God. If I ignore this divine relationship, compartmentalize it, pretend it doesn't exist, then I am saying there is no "right" relationship with God.

The moment I deny God exists, my rights degrade. Now my rights can, at most, center around what I think my relationship with other people should be. Perhaps I think other people should define the relationship, perhaps I think I should. It doesn't matter. At that moment, my "rights" are based in what I like, not in any external norm.

Now, being a good Catholic, doing what a good Catholic does, maintains my rights because the exercise of Catholic Faith is the only way anyone has to maintain his relationship with God. There is no other way. This is what Vatican II means when it says:
This demand for freedom in human society chiefly regards the quest for the values proper to the human spirit. It regards, in the first place, the free exercise of religion in society. This Vatican Council takes careful note of these desires in the minds of men. It proposes to declare them to be greatly in accord with truth and justice... (emphasis added)
This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.
Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ. (Dignitatis Humanae, #1)

The desire for free exercise of religion is "greatly in accord with truth and justice". Notice, the Council does NOT say that religious freedom is in perfect accord with truth and justice. As Aquinas points out, referring to St. Paul, the natural law is written on every person's heart, but written without the clarity and force we need, nor do we have the power of grace to follow what is written on our heart even if it were more clear (CCC 1954-1966).

We have "freedom of conscience" only in the sense that our natural knowledge is limited. In fact, our natural knowledge is often erroneous. Thus, our natural understanding of something may lead us to an action which is objectively evil, but whose evil we cannot recognize. We are blind to the evil, therefore God will not hold us accountable for the evil. Invincible ignorance is the basis for Vatican II's religious freedom of conscience claim. As the Council points out, free exercise of religion is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The end, the object, the purpose is to join and live the true religion of the one Church of Christ. "Religious freedom... leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ"

So, "religious freedom" cannot be a right except insofar as it is the freedom to be a Catholic or to do what a good Catholic would do. The phrase "religious freedom", used in any other sense, is a shibboleth. It is a two-year old wielding a knife. The two-year old is not blamed by the Church for wielding the knife or for the damage the knife inflicts because the Church recognizes the invincible ignorance of the two-year old.  She is willing to suffer the damage the two-year old inflicts while She trains the child in the right way to use a knife.
For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Shilling for Donors

Case 1

Let's say you encountered a petition from a Catholic organization that purported to petition the Pope to support traditional marriage.

What would be the point of the petition, exactly?
  1. Do you actually think the organization will send the petition to the Pope?
  2. If the petition is sent to the Pope, do you seriously think he is going to change what he will do based on the petition? 
  3. Do you seriously think the Pope holds a position other than the position the petition begs support for?
  4. If so, what would this other position be, that we have to beg the Pope to change his mind?
There are several possibilities. None of them seem good. If the Catholic organization doesn't:
  1. Intend to send the petition to the Pope, then why pretend, by putting in the premise, that it will be sent? Isn't the pretence that they WILL send it to the Pope then actually a lie?
  2. Think it will change the Pope's mind because the Pope already agrees with the premise stated in the petition, then why gather the signatures to present to the Pope?
  3. Think it will change the Pope's mind because the Pope already firmly disagrees with the premise stated in the petition, then are we trying to make the Pope Catholic? Doesn't the existence of the petition mean that we don't really think he is?
I asked Lifesite News this. This was the answer I received:
Steve Jalsevac The petitions that we undertake have the primary purpose of building movements around the issues that each petition addresses. That is the most powerful result of these petitions. it has been wonderfully effective. The petitions also allow us to increase our email list but we carefully ensure that signers receive additional information emails on the petition subject only if they wish to receive such follow up information. We follow a very ethical procedure on this. And yes, hopefully, after a time, some of those petition signers will donate to LifeSite. (emphasis added)
Alright. At no point during the response did Jalsevac reference the Pope or even Catholic teaching. We don't know if the petition is going to the Pope, nor if LifeSiteNews expects the petition to change (or not change) the Pope's mind. All we know is that one of the big reasons LifeSiteNews created the petition is to build a LifeSiteNews-centered movement with a strong subset of donors. In short, it looks for all the world as if Steve Jalsevac just admitted the whole thing was a marketing ploy.

A marketing ploy made at the expense of the Catholic Church.
LifeSiteNews was apparently willing to sow division among Catholics and imply the Pope needed begging in order to uphold Catholic teaching if that's what it took to fill a donor list and make some cash.

Case 2

Don't believe me?
Then what about this petition to the Pope about Archbishop Cardileone.

Now, why is this petition being sent to the Pope?
  1. Does the Pope NOT support the archbishop? 
  2. Do we suspect that the Pope may not support the archbishop?
  3. Does the Pope need evidence from us that we support the archbishop?
  4. Will the Pope remove or keep the archbishop based on this or any other petitions?
The people who are unhappy with the archbishop published a newspaper ad petitioning the Pope for removal of the archbishop. LifeSiteNews created this petition in response. At least one person who signed the LifeSiteNews petition expressed amazement that anyone thought the Pope read San Francisco papers, or, even if he did, that anyone would really believe the Pope would act on a newspaper ad petition in a San Francisco newspaper if he were to encounter one.

But how is LifeSiteNews and its petitioners different from the newspaper petitioners? After all, LifeSiteNews isn't sending its pro-archbishop petition to the newspaper, or to the people who signed the newspaper ad, or to the city government where the newspaper is published, or even to the archbishop. No, they invoke the Pope, as if they were going to send it to him. But as one of the people who signed the ad pointed out, they aren't even asking the Pope to take any action in regards to the archbishop. So what's the purpose of the "petition?"

If you're going to collect signatures to send to someone, shouldn't you send it to someone who disagrees with you or has power over the situation that you think may be exercised in the wrong way?

Why would you send a "petition" to someone who agrees with you and who you know will exercise power in the correct way? And if you aren't even going to send it to him, then in what sense is it a petition, since the document will never actually be used to petition anyone?

When I posed these questions, I was told by one of the signers (someone who self-identified as an individual involved in the governance of several non-profits) that a substantial number of signers  know the petition won't be sent to the Pope or to anyone else involved in the situation. I was also told, by the same person, that I was very uncharitable to use these facts to argue that the entire exercise was a lie on the part of the people who created the petition and a self-deception on the part of the signers.

Case 3

LifeSiteNews quotes janitor about cardinal-priest dispute. 

Actually, LifeSiteNews quoted a canon lawyer in a cardinal-priest dispute, but it amounts to the same thing. Disputes between a bishop (who may or may not be a cardinal) and his priests are the business of that group. Unless a canon lawyer is specifically invited in by one or both, or is at least a member of the diocese where the dispute is taking place, that canon lawyer has no business expressing a public opinion on the dispute.

Canon lawyer opinions are not binding on anyone. If the opinion is negative towards the cardinal, it can undermine the cardinal's authority. If it is negative towards the priests, it can undermine the priests' standing in their communities. Why would an American canon lawyer weigh in on a dispute in an English diocese with an uninvited opinion? Why would anyone care what he says?

This is especially true when the canon lawyer is employed by a diocese. Employees of dioceses are hired to be shills, ahem, paid spokesman, for the local bishop. They cannot weigh in publicly like this unless their own bishop wants to make somebody look bad. Normally, bishops are chary of making each other look bad.

The bishop will allow one of his minions to publicly attack whatever enemy the bishop has targeted. A fine example of this is how Dr. Edward Peters, canon lawyer, both misrepresented the facts and acted as his bishop's shill in the controversy with Michael Voris. And here we have the exact SAME shill attacking a cardinal. Looks like Ed got his bishop's directive to go attack a cardinal, for reasons known only to his own bishop. Remember, nothing happens in a diocese unless the bishop is willing to let it happen. If Ed is very publicly putting an oar in where his bishop doesn't want it, Ed would be looking for a new job right now. He isn't, so his bishop is good with the attack.

When I pointed out that Ed was just a shill, used by LifeSiteNews for their own income revenue generation, this was Karl Keating's Facebook response:
Karl Keating Steve Kellmeyer: if you keep making such comments, people will think it's you who has problems. (By the way, you don't seem to understand the definition of "shill.")
Steve Kellmeyer: Karl Keating, if you think Ed acquitted himself well in the whole "Mr. Voris, you should stop calling your organization Catholic" discussion, then you aren't as clear a thinker as I always considered you to be.
As the Voris discussion showed, Ed mostly spouts his cardinals opinion. That's what he's paid to do. He's a paid shill. 
Karl Keating: Steve Kellmeyer: Why did you bring up Voris? He's irrelevant to this discussion. Besides, I don't know what happened between him and Ed Peters, and I don't care.

As for Ed, it's no surprise that he "mostly spouts his cardinal's opinion" (even though Archbishop Vigneron isn't a cardinal).

Ed, like the rest of the faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary (among whom I have friends, including Ed Echeverria, Bob Fastiggi, Ralph Martin, and Janet Smith), is a believing Catholic, as is the archbishop, so of course Ed's opinion normally will match his boss's.

That isn't because Ed's paid to be a yes-man (which he isn't: otherwise he wouldn't have written against a cardinal [Nichols], cardinals tending to be friends with archbishops) but because he and Vigneron are in agreement on nearly everything.

That's how it should be, among the orthodox, whose religious opinions should be so in tune with the Church's teaching that these people seem to be echoing one another.
Steve Kellmeyer:Mr. Keating,
1) it isn't Ed's business to get between a priest and his bishop - which is exactly what Ed is publicly doing here. You would think a canon lawyer would have more sense. And since, in Christian charity, I can't imagine Ed is stupid enough to think otherwise, he must have another reason to put his oar in the water.
2) Ed's bishop may very well have reasons of his own for getting Ed to start a public campaign against another bishop. But it is certainly the case that Ed is the bishop's paid shill, which you haven't denied.
3) Having someone as a personal friend doesn't make them right. I find it remarkable that you would even raise that as a point. It's completely irrelevant.
4) Ed's past bad judgement and paid shill behaviour is relevant to his paid shill behaviour here
At which point, oddly, Mr. Keating disappeared from the discussion.

Now, I have been accused of being uncharitable. The accusation is perfectly accurate in the sense that I am not yet a saint, so I certainly lack charity.

But is it uncharitable to ask LifeSiteNews to stop invoking the Pope when they want to raise money for themselves?

Is it uncharitable to point out that a canon lawyer employed by a diocese is very publicly putting his oar into disputes that do not concern his bishop or his diocese, yet remains unrebuked by his boss? Why would a bishop allow his canon lawyer to stir up bad blood with another bishop? A cardinal? Nothing happens in a chancery office, nothing happens in a seminary, without the bishop's approval. Is it uncharitable to point this out? Or is it merely factual? 

In any case, LifeSiteNews seems to have pulled Pope Francis' name off the last petition, for which I applaud them. Perhaps they will take more care in the future. I certainly have high hopes that they will. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bad Idea: Rosary During Mass

Rorate Caeli, with the help of Pewsitter (the "Catholic" site whose attacks on the Pope are beginning to sound vaguely Masonic), has decided to defend the execrable habit of praying the Rosary during Mass. Because it is an indefensible position to take, RC simply tosses off a single line reference to an encyclical, pretending that this makes the practice ok.
The Pope has once again made his mind on the liturgical reform of the 1960's and Vatican II clear, and not without taking the opportunity to criticize the easiest of targets: the very few who still say the rosary at Mass (by the way, not a problem - cf. Mediator Dei, 181-184).
Let's take that apart. After all, what are the chances RC actually knows the Catholic Faith or papal encyclicals better than the Pope? Well, zero, actually.

To begin with, let me make clear that this is not just something done at Latin Mass. I've seen it done at Novus Ordo Mass as well. It is a practice born of the rankest of ignorance, generally performed by people completely unschooled in the Faith.

We must begin by understanding that liturgy is the highest and most ancient prayer of the Church. The Mass is the highest form of liturgy. All other forms of prayer are lesser and derivative. It is not possible for a Catholic to pray a better prayer than the Mass.

The Rosary, while a pleasant devotion, is simply nowhere near the same stature. The Rosary is a private devotion. It is certainly less than a thousand years old. The Rosary has never been a universal prayer within the Church. It is not part of the Mass, has never been part of the Mass and can never be part of the Mass. It is not liturgy. It is not even close to being in the same rank as liturgy.

The Mass can be traced back to the Last Supper. Compare this to the Rosary and the Hail Mary's which comprise it. These cannot be found in the West until over a thousand years after the Resurrection. The Rosary is not found in the East at all.
It is in any case certain that at the close of the fifteenth century the utmost possible variety of methods of (Rosary) meditating prevailed, and that the fifteen mysteries now generally accepted were not uniformly adhered to even by the Dominicans themselves.
The current form of the Hail Mary, which comprises the greater part of the prayer is not exactly ancient either.
In point of fact there is little or no trace of the Hail Mary as an accepted devotional formula before about 1050...In the time of St. Louis the Ave Maria ended with the words of St. Elizabeth: "benedictus fructus ventris tui" may be noticed that in some places, and notably in Ireland, the feeling still survives that the Hail Mary is complete with the word Jesus. Indeed the writer is informed that within living memory it was not uncommon for Irish peasant, when bidden to say Hail Marys for a penance, to ask whether they were required to say the Holy Marys too.
Now that we have a bit of the history cleared away, let's take a look at Mediator Dei's infamous articles #181-184
181. Any inspiration to follow and practice extraordinary exercises of piety must most certainly come from the Father of Lights, from whom every good and perfect gift descends;[166] and, of course, the criterion of this will be the effectiveness of these exercises in making the divine cult loved and spread daily ever more widely, and in making the faithful approach the sacraments with more longing desire, and in obtaining for all things holy due respect and honor. If on the contrary, they are an obstacle to principles and norms of divine worship, or if they oppose or hinder them, one must surely conclude that they are not in keeping with prudence and enlightened zeal.
Notice how article #181 fails to mention the Rosary at all. It talks about "extraordinary exercises of piety", but the test for whether these are actually acts of piety is whether or not they present "an obstacle to divine worship."  Since we haven't yet ascertained whether praying the Rosary during Mass presents such an obstacle, it's hard to argue that this article endorses praying the Rosary during Mass.

Indeed, for people who love to argue that the words of the Latin Mass are far superior to those of the Novus Ordo, it is striking that they also argue people can accomplish the same depth of meditation by focusing on any non-liturgical prayer.
182. There are, besides, other exercises of piety which, although not strictly belonging to the sacred liturgy, are, nevertheless, of special import and dignity, and may be considered in a certain way to be an addition to the liturgical cult; they have been approved and praised over and over again by the Apostolic See and by the bishops. Among these are the prayers usually said during the month of May in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, or during the month of June to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus: also novenas and triduums, stations of the cross and other similar practices.
Alright, so RC should have quoted #182-184, instead of #181-184. But can we even admit #182? After all, look at the examples given for "addition to the liturgical cult". We see novenas, triduums, and stations of the cross, but no mention of the Rosary. Hmmm....

"Well," comes the rebuke, "of course the Rosary falls under 'other similar practices'!!!" Really? Does it? According to the Enchiridion of Indulgences, #63, in order to pray a legitimate stations of the Cross:
"A movement from one station to the next is required. But if the stations are made publicly and it is not possible for everyone taking part to go from station to station, it suffices if at least the one conducting the exercise goes from station to station, the others remaining in their places." 
Ok, so if we follow this line of reasoning, and argue that it is perfectly legitimate to pray the Rosary during Mass, then it is likewise perfectly legitimate for members of the faithful, or at least one member of the faithful, to do the stations of the Cross during Mass.

But in order to do the stations legitimately, that faithful Catholic would have to get up out of his pew during Mass, and move from station to station down the nave, standing, kneeling, genuflecting and praying aloud as appropriate for the stations, while others in the pew who choose to do so, pray along. So, say, as the priest ambulates down the nave during the Asperges, the faithful have the right to ambulate the nave praying the stations? During the consecration, there would be no issue with us praying the death of Christ on the Cross and fixing our eyes on that tableau rather than facing towards Christ in the Eucharist? That's your argument?

Because that's what you are doing when you pray the Rosary during Mass. Praying the Rosary during Mass is no different than saying, "Yes, I know Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist, is available to me right now. But rather than go up and receive the actual Eucharist, I find my participation in the Mass is enhanced by always making a spiritual communion instead. Because, you know, spiritual. So, I'll just stay in the pew, me and my meditation, while you go up and do your Eucharist reception thing."

In fact, it is essentially saying "What I do in prayer in the pew is the spiritual equivalent of what the priest does at the altar. My meditations are the focus of my presence at the Mass." People often wonder where the insane individualism of the post-Vatican II Church originated. They scoff when I say it began in the pre-Vatican II Church. It began with the people praying the Rosary during Mass.
183. These devotions make us partakers in a salutary manner of the liturgical cult, because they urge the faithful to go frequently to the sacrament of penance, to attend Mass and receive communion with devotion, and, as well, encourage them to meditate on the mysteries of our redemption and imitate the example of the saints.
For those with the eyes to see, #183 explains how all of this is supposed to work. You see, the novenas, triduums, devotions to Mary and the Sacred Heart, these devotions are to take place OUTSIDE of Mass. They are not liturgical.

They contribute to liturgy in the sense that when you pray them OUTSIDE of Mass, the prayers assist you in recalling to your mind and your being the graces you were given IN the Mass. Thus, these private devotions can help you spread the graces of the Mass into your day and into your life. But if you are focusing on these devotions while you are IN the Mass, then you aren't getting the graces of the Mass that you would get by actually... you know... participating in the Mass.
184. Hence, he would do something very wrong and dangerous who would dare to take on himself to reform all these exercises of piety and reduce them completely to the methods and norms of liturgical rites. (emphasis added) However, it is necessary that the spirit of the sacred liturgy and its directives should exercise such a salutary influence on them that nothing improper be introduced nor anything unworthy of the dignity of the house of God or detrimental to the sacred functions or opposed to solid piety.
See, you aren't supposed to turn the Rosary into a prayer of the Mass, because *the Rosary IS NOT a prayer of the Mass.* By referring to article #184 of Mediator Dei, Rorate Caeli actually provides the text that proves the exact opposite of what they intended to prove. These exercises of piety, such as the Rosary or the stations, are not to mix and mingle with the exercises of the liturgical rites. They Rosary complements the Mass, but it is not to be mingled with the exercises of the Mass.

So, not only does the articles referenced NEVER mention the Rosary, the articles referenced actually tell us NEVER to use the Rosary as if it were a liturgical prayer. That is, we should never pray the Rosary during Mass, because we thereby attempt (and fail) to turn the Rosary into a liturgical prayer when we do so.

The liturgy, particularly the Mass, is in every case an actual and direct participation in the eternal offering the Resurrected Christ makes of His Own Body and Blood. It is us lifted into heavcen, directly participating in the offering Christ makes of Himself to the Father in the Temple of Heaven itself.

The Rosary is, at most, a pleasant meditation. Praying the Rosary during the Mass is a distraction from participating in the Mass. Yes, even during the Latin Mass - it is still a distraction. Mary leads us to Christ, she doesn't lead us away from Him. Praying the Rosary during Mass is an abuse of Mary's prayer and it is an abuse of Mary. We pray the Rosary before Mass to prepare for Mass, after Mass to meditate on the riches given to us, but during Mass we pray the Mass, we do not pray the Rosary.

Anyone who tells you different is a Mason, a neocon or an ignoramus.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Assessing Your Parish

The Church has three primary tasks: to teach, to govern and to sanctify. Through the liturgy and the sacraments, we are sanctified, that is, we are given the power of grace, the ability to live the divine life. Through catechesis we are given the knowledge and motivation to live the divine life of love towards both God and our neighbor. All other aspects of the Christian life flow from The Church’s success in these tasks. Thus, the life of every parish is assessed by asking two questions:
(1) how well is the task of sanctification being carried out?(2) how well is the task of catechesis being carried out?


  1. Are sacraments readily available to all parishioners?
  2. Are parents treated as priests of the domestic church (Familiaris Consortio, #38)?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of and ready to embrace the salvific aspect of suffering?
Sacrament of Baptism

  1. Are all Catholic parents aware of the importance of water baptism for their children as soon as possible after birth? 
  2. Are all Catholics aware of how to perform an emergency baptism?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of the effects of baptism? 
Sacrament of Confession
  1. Is the Sacrament of Confession available on at least a bi-weekly basis at a publicly scheduled and easily accessible time?
  2. Are all parish adults utilizing the sacrament?
  3. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confession? (CCC #2225)
  4. Is the parish teaching parents how best to prepare their own children from reception of Confession?
Sacrament of Confirmation
  1. Are all Catholic adults who approach the sacrament of marriage confirmed?
  2. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confirmation?
  3. Are parents encouraged to prepare their children at or about the age of reason, as universal Church law recommends (Canon 97.2, 843.1, 852.1, 885)?
  4. Are all children in the parish being confirmed no later than the maximum age set by the bishop?
  5. Are priests aware they must confirm unconfirmed baptized persons in serious danger of death?
  6. Are priests aware that all persons who approach the Church and have the use of reason must be both baptized and confirmed in the same ceremony?
Sacrament of Eucharist
  1. Are parishioners aware of how to correctly receive Eucharist (do they know the signs of reverence, do they know how to examine their conscience, be in a state of grace, etc.)?
  2. Are parishioners both knowledgeable about and made comfortable in exercising their right to receive Eucharist on their knees, after genuflection, after bowing, while standing, whether in the hand or on the tongue?
  3. Are parishioners encouraged to take time to properly prepare themselves during Mass immediately before Eucharistic reception or do ushers, by word or action, distort the proper role of usher by instead dictating when the faithful can or cannot approach the sacrament during Mass?
  4. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Eucharist? (CCC #2225)
  5. Are the sacraments of initiation given in their proper order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist?
Sacrament of Marriage
  1. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that they must be open to life?
  2. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that marriage is a life-long commitment?
  3. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage rejecting contraception and aware of NFP?
  4. Are all Catholics approaching marriage aware of and do they embrace the three ends of marriage?

    • The procreation of children
    • The union of the spouses
    • The remedy for concupiscence
  1. Are EMEs kept to a minimum?
  2. Does the parish liturgy typically incorporate Gregorian chant, as required by the Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #116)?
  3. Are the musical instruments used at Mass “suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #120)?
  4. Is the Divine Office prayed regularly in a public way, so that the faithful may actively participate in the communal prayer of the Church?
  5. Are all lay ministers in liturgical positions living an exemplary Catholic life?
  6. Are all lay catechists living an exemplary Catholic life?
  7. Do parishioners understand the Easter Vigil to be the "mother of all feasts"?


Family catechesis
  1. Are most parish catechetical sessions directed towards helping parents gain the necessary tools to be their own children's primary catechists (Catechesi Tradendae, #68, Familiaris Consortio#39)?
  2. Are parents encouraged and expected to act as primary catechists, e.g., do the pastor and parish catechists dictate sacramental formation requirements, or do they advise, allowing parents the latitude to choose the most appropriate methods of formation for their own children (Familiaris Consortio, #40)?
  3. Is the primary focus of parish catechetical efforts intended to give parents the tools to prepare their own children to receive first reconciliation, Confirmation and first Eucharist (CCC #2225)?
Primacy of Adult Catechesis
  1. Is the primary catechetical task of the parish oriented towards adults (General Directory for Catechetics, #275, Catechesi Tradendae, #43, Our Hearts Were Burning, Chapter 1)?
  2. Are weekly adult formation sessions being held for parents (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  3. Are at least thrice-weekly adult formation sessions being held during Advent and Lent (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  4. Are the best parish resources being focused on forming adult Catholics in their faith (OHWB, Chapter III)?
  5. Is there a physical space appropriate to adults available in the parish in order to undertake adult catechesis?
  6. Are teachings outlining how to live Church teaching regularly given (e.g., on sterilization, contraception, need for regular confession, etc.)?
  7. Are regular doctrinal Scripture studies, encyclical studies and Church history sessions for adults made available in the parish?
  8. Are lay church leaders (e.g., parish council members) thoroughly familiar with the documents of Vatican II and the catechetical documents?
  9. Are parish catechists thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on catechesis, such as the General Directory for Catechesis and Catechesi Tradendae?
  10. Are parents thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on marriage, family, and human sexuality, such as Familiaris Consortio, Letter to Families, Mulieris Dignitatem, Letter to Children, Humanae Vitae, and The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality?