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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Tale of Two Churches

From the Living Church:

The decline among youth involved in [the Episcopal] church is particularly sharp. Episcopalians tend to be disproportionately older than the general population, Mr. Hadaway said. “That means a higher death rate and a lower birth rate. We are not replacing those members who are dying,” he said. During the past five years, membership has declined 7 percent. The five-year decline in average Sunday attendance is 11 percent.

From the Washington Times:

Roman Catholic churches nationwide are rushing to accommodate a surge in demand for the traditional Latin Mass, which is drawing a surprising new crowd: young people.

Since July, when a decree from Pope Benedict XVI lifted decades-old restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass, seven churches in the Washington metropolitan area have added the liturgy to their weekly Sunday schedules.

"I love the Latin Mass," said Audrey Kunkel, 20, of Cincinnati. "It's amazing to think that I"m attending the same Mass that has formed saints throughout the centuries."

[snip]

The Tridentine Mass helps people in their 20s and 30s who have grown up in a culture that lacks stability and orthodoxy see something larger than themselves: the glory of God, said Geoffrey Coleman of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter"s Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in Denton, Neb.

I don't wish to be accused of triumphalism when I juxtapose these quotes. As I have written before, I get no joy seeing the Episcopal Church spiraling into oblivion but at the same time it's hard to muster up sympathy for those blinkered fools running it who claim their 'sixties agenda, their clown and Hip-Hop Masses, their U2charists etc. are all aimed at drawing young people into the emptying churches. All they have to do is attend a Traditional Latin Mass at a Catholic Church and make a rough calculation the percentage of those attending who are under forty. If they did, they might reconsider their hideous innovations but only if they are truly interested in getting all young people into their churches, not just those who think exactly as they do.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Brain Drained

As institutions and nations decline it is typical for individuals of ability and intelligence in them to decamp for more favorable climes, thus further hastening the decline; recall the infamous "brain drain" of 'fifties England as socialism worked it magic spell throughout the economy and the academy. Stateside, we see something similar in the Episcopal Church, an institution where most people with half a brain or more have left or will do so, sooner or later. A most unfortunate example of the intellectual atrophy affecting that once grand institution took place this weekend at the annual convention of the Diocese of Maine, where delegates passed a resolution that calls for

the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen of England to disavow and rescind the 1496 Royal Charter issued to John Cabot and his sons. The charter authorized the Cabots "to find, discover, and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions, provinces of heathens and infidels...which before this time were unknown to all Christians." The Charter also reads in part, "John and his sons or their heirs may conquer, occupy and possess, as our vassals and governors lieutenants and deputies therein, acquiring for us the dominion, title and jurisdiction of the same towns, castles, cities, islands, and mainlands so discovered."

This "doctrine of discovery" set forth by King Henry VII was relied upon as justification for the dispossession of lands and the subjugation of non-Christian people. The resolutions further requires that Bishop Knudsen officially convey the expression of the resolution to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England (Queen Elizabeth II), presumably when she is in England in the summer of 2008 at the Lambeth Conference. The resolution also requires that a similar resolution is submitted to the General Convention in 2009 for its consideration.

That splendid bit of blather was (big surprise) a sop offered by the guilt-laden white Episcopalians to the Indians as partial atonement for the unpleasantries committed by their forebears two hundred years ago (and three three hundred years after Cabot's peregrinations). To those of normal intelligence, of course, it is hardly necessary to point out had Cabot and his progeny not received the odious royal charter and gone exploring there would be no guilt-laden liberal white Episcopalians today calling for its revocation but we are dealing with seriously challenged folk here. I await to see how this resolution fares in the General Convention next year: if it passes, and there's a fair chance it might--there's nothing foolish liberals love more than the empty gesture, than I would say the Episcopal Church is, without question, flat-lining and no extraordinary procedures should be employed to revive her.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Finally Dealing with a Colossal Nuisance


The Holy Father speaks: Through prayerful reading of the Scriptures, St. Ambrose sought union with God, and urged his flock to do the same. Pope Benedict strongly recommended that example to his audience. "Whoever educates people in the faith," he said, "cannot risk playing the role of the clown," trying to entertain his listeners.

That takes care of that.

A Big Stretch

Diogenes takes on another iteration of a favorite accusation of left-wing organizations, by the United Nations in this instance, that owing to her proscription on the use of condoms the Catholic Church is culpable for the spread of AIDS. That, of course, is absolute bunk and just a clumsy attempt by advocates for the promiscuous to absolve their charges of the hideous consequences of their foolish and risky behavior. After all, as Uncle Di points out, the Church also insists on chastity and fidelity and while many of the more strident AIDS activists will condemn that as "moralizing" (which is only acceptable when coming from the left) even they will have difficulty making the point that not sleeping around helps to spread AIDS (but patience, in time they'll come up with something: the left already wears comfortably the notion of "repressive tolerance").

There is, however, an even greater absurdity to the UN charge. Supposing, arguendo, the Church changed her teachings and OK'd the use of condoms. It would be quite a stretch indeed, even for the ideological contortionists at the UN, ACT-UP and in the editorial room of Playboy Magazine, to then believe roués headed out on the town to bag a moose will henceforth think to themselves: "Uh, oh! the Holy Catholic Church insists I use rubbers when I go shagging; better lay in a supply of Trojans on my way to the bars." Especially if the roué is a Protestant.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just Who Was Being Served?


A sad tale of an aging boomer who just can't let go of the past. From a comment on Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog:

One of my friends went to Mass recently where the parish is being renovated back to a more traditional expression of Catholicism...Well, they were making some more ornamental changes last week, restoring the use of votive candles, etc. One of the habitless nuns who ran the liturgy for years...came into the Church all aflutter seeing what was being added (the votive candle racks). She thought that the candle racks on either side of the sanctuary and the new golden candlesticks on the high altar detracted from the portable altar, standing in the center in all its Vatican II bareness.

“This is all too distracting, it takes away from the altar table,” she said. (She used the term “altar table” like the Protestants do, not just “altar.”) She walked about the sanctuary very agitated, snapping at parish volunteers and griping about the new traditional decor of the Church. She walked over to the portable altar and, practically hugging it, cried "And what are you going to do with this?"

“We’d like to wheel it out to the trash bin, but we don’t have Father’s okay yet” came a sarcastic reply. Several of the parish volunteers laughed at this nun, who is about 67 and with her 2 nun assistants devoted years and years to turning the parish into something just like the neighboring Methodist Church instead of Catholic.

The nun turned on her heel, stomped across the sanctuary showing no respect for the blessed sacrament, and slammed the door so hard it broke the stained glass in it.

Actually, I feel nothing but sadness for that nun. No doubt she made life miserable for the traditional Catholics in her parish for many years but at 67, the post-Vatican II reforms having defined her whole career, she now nears retirement and watches the disavowal of her life's work by the very people she imagined she was serving, especially the young--the most galling, I should think. We must pray for her, it serves no purpose to laugh her to scorn; that she will find peace as the traditional worship she so abhors slowly makes its way back into Holy Mother Church and she will accommodate herself to it. At the same time she should also ask herself, who was being served by the innovations of the past thirty-five years, God or the egos of His creatures? It seems to this writer every reform foisted upon the people (in the Episcopal Church as well as the Catholic Church) was about making the people the object of worship and reducing God to the adjunct, the celestial Ed McMahon, guffawing in agreement.

Every folk Mass, every felt banner, every Sister Corita silk-screen Scotch-taped to the walls in the youth center and, especially, every card table altar with the priest's body and visage turned the wrong way from Jerusalem, seems to proclaim the same erroneous message: aren't we all just fabulous and God you'd better agree. Mercifully, this nonsense seems to be coming to an end in the Catholic Church (sadly, the Episcopal Church has irreversibly devolved into a gnostic death cult and will be extinct within a generation or two). There will be many casualties resulting from the mending of the severe damage done to the Holy Catholic Church in the name of reform, the poor nun above being an unfortunate example, but we must not lose sight of the fact the people shrieking the loudest over the corrective measures now being taken are often the ones who necessitated them.

(Thanks to Bro. James).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Healing the Breech

At the Shrine of the Holy Whapping there is an extended and ongoing thread debating the Traditional Anglican Communion's announcement their desire to be reunited with the Holy Catholic Church. It is fascinating to read and gratifying as well: the depth and knowledge of those commenting is nothing short of remarkable and for this former Episcopalian, weary of plumbing the shallows of that church's leadership, to find such richness and depth of thought is an added and welcome bonus to embracing the full Catholic Faith.

Much of the debate in the thread concerns the logistics, technicalities and politics over how, when or if the Traditional Anglican Communion should be admitted to Rome. Some are objecting, saying the admission of that particular branch of the continuing Anglican Church may roil the waters and make it more difficult for other dissenting Anglicans to be brought back into the See of Peter. To this admitted newbie, I think those worries are misplaced. The Holy Father seems to share the eagerness, even passion, of his predecessor Blessed John XXIII of reuniting his separated brethren. Thus it should come down to this: whether Holy Mother Church will seeks ways to make it possible for Anglicans, continuing or not, to return to the Holy See or seek ways to thwart them. Naturally, I opt and expect the former: Anglicans returning to Rome will bring with them not only a rich heritage of liturgy and music but also a heightened appreciation of Magisterium (we know all too well what happens in its absence) and it can only be to the benefit of the Holy Catholic Church. Returning Anglicans, in exchange, will enjoy the glorious benefit of undisputed sacraments; a good deal, I say.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Visit with Mother Cabrini

Since it's just a few minute's walk from where I live, I elected to fulfill my Sunday obligation this week at the St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Shrine in Northern Manhattan, built to honor the first
American citizen to be canonized and a truly remarkable woman. Since I have been attending Mass at Catholic churches for some five months now, you might wonder why I've waited so long to attend one in my own neighborhood. Here's why.

Yep, I was scared off. Yesterday, however, I steeled myself and made my way to the shrine for the nine o'clock Mass. The shrine is a sight to behold, built in the mid-fifties during Cardinal Spellman's tenure (hard to believe the striking Church of Our Saviour in midtown and this oddity--also striking but in a disparate way--are contemporary). I arrived a few minutes before nine to find mostly empty pews so I had a gander at the altar and found myself taking in Cabrini Under Glass, lit with bare fluorescent tubes, giving our saint a ghastly pallor. The Mass began about nine and from there until halfway through the Creed the rest of congregation drifted in, nearly filling the pews I'm happy to say. A wobbly alto, using an over-amplified microphone, and I were the only ones who sang the hymns. People kept turning and staring at me even though I wasn't singing very loudly. The first hymn was of eighteenth-century Protestant origin, St. Anne (Oh God Our Help in Ages Past), the rest of nineteenth-century Protestant origin. How weird to hear "How Great Thou Art" in a Catholic church. I kept looking around to see if Elvis were making an appearance but alas, not today; if he had I would have begged him to nudge aside the wobbly alto, taking over her charge. Besides, the architecture would have suited him.

The homily was quite good. Well-wishers have warned me Catholic preaching leaves much to be desired but that hasn't been my experience. In all the Catholic churches I have attended, the sermons have at least been adequate and some excellent. There is something else I found at the Cabrini Shrine (and other Catholic churches) which was most heartening: Catholics. As a life-long Episcopalian, it is marvellous and instructional to see people of every color, race, nationality and economic status together on bended knee worshipping our Lord and Creator. Even if they come to Mass late, don't dress properly and don't seem much interested in singing, they are there just the same, making their communion (no matter how imperfectly) with our God. That is beautiful and I'll be back, Mom (but let's try to rummage up some quartz halogen bulbs for you, you deserve better).

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Price Glory?

The exhausting lives of America's ruling class take their toll on the participants. Let us begin with His Grace the Bishop of New Hampshire, V Gene Robinson.

As you read this, I will be beginning a three month sabbatical leave, as prescribed for clergy in this diocese every five years. To say the least, the last five years have been busy for me – at times busy and exhilarating, at other times difficult and challenging. I am ready for a rest.

[snip]

Now it is time for me to rest a while. I intend to do so. I also will be doing some things that I have wanted to do, and which this time will permit me. For a month, I will be traveling in the Pacific...These “stops” include Hong Kong, a remote diocese in the Solomon Islands (Province of Melanesia), Australia and New Zealand.

[snip]

My promise to you is that I will not fill it up with activity, but use it to get the rest and refreshment I need and crave.

We are relieved and have no doubt you will keep that promise, your Grace. You will surely take comfort to learn you are not the only cultural icon staggering under the weight of his office.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Ellen DeGeneres' talk show was put on hold for a day because of her emotionally wrenching dog-adoption drama.

"It's been a long week and a tough week and we decided to take a long weekend and be back on Tuesday," said Laura Mandel, a spokeswoman for Telepictures Productions, which produces "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

[snip]

The battle over Iggy, a Brussels Griffon terrier mix, pitted DeGeneres against an animal rescue agency and, at one point, had her in tears on her show. The agency's owners complained of receiving death threats over the dispute.

DeGeneres adopted the dog, then gave it to her hairstylist's family after the dog, despite training, couldn't get along with the comedian's cats, her publicist has said.

Oh, the price of fame. A moment of prayer please, joined in no doubt by our country's shift workers, for the speedy recovery of these two national treasures from their arduous and burdensome responsibilities.

Godwin's Law and the Roman Catholic Church

Go over to the Creative Minority Report and read the unhinged ranting of an ageing Catholic Priest, embittered his beloved 'sixties seem finally to be coming to an end. A tasting:

The gospel is meant to enlighten and challenge us! It is my opinion that the use of Latin should have been done away with hundreds of years ago. This is one of the things that Martin Luther was right about. After WWII Christians worldwide shook their heads in sober sadness and declared that Christianity had failed in Europe because it had let Hitler and his hateful and mad ways to succeed. Some very holy people said: "No, Christianity was just never tried." I fault the use of Latin as partly responsible for the rise and success of Hitler and his neo-pagan mythology which was obviously the religion he was supporting and that actually managed to capture the German imagination. I say the people, because of Latin never were confronted by the gospel. The Mass and the sacraments never really reached down deep into the soul. There are some notable exceptions of priests and laity and some very heroic ones as well as Protestant theologians who confronted the lies of Hitler - of course, they were gotten rid of.

That is but a mere sampling of the savory collation the Rev'd Delirious serves up (God have mercy on his poor parishioners). I offer it to allay concern expressed to me I have my eyes open as I cross the Tiber. Not too worry, thanks. We have the very same kind in the Episcopal Church, the only difference being they run the joint.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Finally, Something We Can All Agree On...

No more clowns in church. We'll discuss the other venues later.

Christian Clown In Perv Bust
Illinois man had porn cache from trip to Philippines orphanage

OCTOBER 10--An Illinois man who worked as a "Christian clown" named Klutzo was arrested yesterday on child pornography charges for allegedly taking naked photographs of young boys at a Philippines orphanage. According to a federal criminal complaint, Amon Paul Carlock took the illicit photos during a "clowning" trip to the House of Joy orphanage earlier this year.

[ ]

Regarding the naked photos of young boys, Carlock explained, "That's how they live." Three of the boys seen in the photos told investigators they woke up to find Carlock fondling and caressing them.

Enough. No more clowns. Let's just stop it right now.

(h/t The WebElf)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Full, Corporate, Sacramental Union

Here's an interesting item. The Traditional Anglican Communion, one of many "continuing" churches made up of former Anglicans distressed over modern trends in the Anglican Church and claiming half a million members worldwide, held a meeting last week in of its College of Bishops. Today a statement from TAC's Archbishop John Hepworth was released and reads as follows (posted on the excellent blog The Continuum):

The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) met in Plenary Session in Portsmouth, England, in the first week of October 2007. The Bishops and Vicars-General unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union. The letter was signed solemnly by all the College and entrusted to the Primate and two bishops chosen by the College to be presented to the Holy See. The letter was cordially received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primate of the TAC has agreed that no member of the College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and responded.
+ John

Should the Holy Father respond favorably to the request, and I hope he does, it seems possible and desirable we could see an expansion of Anglican Use, in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Holy Father seems determined to bring separated brethren back onto Barque of Peter and since Anglican Use is already in place, it could be the vessel back to Rome for many more Episcopalians and other Anglicans. There is no doubt many issues that will have to be dealt with (Anglican orders and the bugaboo of women's ordination, for example) but even reaching the talking stages would be a most encouraging development. Let us pray.

(h/t William Tighe)

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Rare Display of Spine in Europe...

By Denmark, of course.

Brian Mikkelsen, the Danish culture minister, has indicated the government would be willing to allow outspoken Dutch-Somali author Ayaan Hirsi Ali to live in Denmark under its protection from fanatical Muslims seeking to kill her.

Over the weekend Mikkelsen sent out a request to the country’s municipalities to invite the threatened author and filmmaker to live here. The move is supported by a recent parliament proposal to establish several ‘free cities’ for persecuted writers, a programme to be created with the support of the International City of Refuge Network.

‘Ayaan Hirsi Ali will be number one on the list of authors we should invite to Denmark,’ Mikkelsen announced on Sunday. ‘She has fought for the freedom of expression and has personally received threats on her life.’

(Snip)

Mikkelsen said the government would be willing to pay all the expenses relating to Ali’s residence in Denmark.

‘It’s obvious the protection of Hirsi Ali would be a substantial expense,’ he said. ‘But we have to view that from a positive standpoint.’

(Also read this from the Jawa Report). How that small nation remains immune to the toxic and cowardly expediency of political correctness surrounding her is a mystery but may God bless Denmark and her people.

(h/t LGF)

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Writing on the Wall

The latest kerfuffle among traditional Episcopalians results from a free-spirit 'sixties-style priest, a Fr. Kerbel, who posted on his blog last week twenty proposed "reforms" of the Anglican Mass to make it more "welcoming;" expunging vast chunks of it and transforming it into a "rap session," "encounter group" or whatever the addled, brain-dead hippies called them back then. I'll copy just one of his suggestions to give you a taste.

9. Cut the fat. Here are some suggestions - THE GLORIA - The COLLECT FOR PURITY - Doxology and Prayers at the presentation - the concluding collect at the end of the prayers of the people. Cut down the number of PSALM verses used. Psalms are incredibly deep, a little bit goes along way. Use 6 verse max at a time. Let me sit and contemplate.

The reaction, not surprisingly, has been intense but the fact is this nonsense has been going on for years, decades even; it is nothing new. If Fr. Kerbel were transported back to the mid-seventies and stepped into, say, Emmanuel Church in Boston he would feel right at home. When I was a parishioner at the nearby Church of the Advent those days, mention of wacko establishments like Emmanuel simply elicited head shaking and comments like, "Oh, pay them no mind, they're just a bunch of eccentrics" (check out Emmanuel's website: the wackiness continues).

Well, we paid them no mind and that proved to be a fatal error. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum now and it's churches like Advent that are now regarded as the eccentrics. You can be damn sure those in charge will pay them plenty of mind as they continue the purge of non-PC heresies in their Episcopal Church.

Outrage over matters like Fr. Kerbel's reforms is a waste of time, other than to vent one's spleen. Kerbel is a country parson and he can hardly be faulted for holding and parroting the beliefs of virtually every man and woman in an executive position in the Episcopal Church. The sad truth is, over the past thirty years we have had plenty of warning of what was to come. For me the shot across the bow was the General Convention vote in 1976 that purported women could be ordained. I actually remember a sinking feeling at the time, thinking that decision could lead to the break up of the Church. But other than that I, like the majority of Episcopalians, did nothing. Après cela, le déluge.

I had a friend at that time who was a nun (sadly, we lost touch) with whom I sung in the university chapel choir. We often engaged in good-natured debate over the merits of the Anglican vs. the the Catholic faiths. Occasionally I scored points against her (I realize now that she let me, good soul that she was) but when when I did, she would always respond: "Oh, someday we're gonna get you, we're gonna get you." Dear Sister, how right you were!

Necessary Reminders

In all seriousness, a day doesn't go by where I have don't have pangs of regrets over my decision to leave the Episcopal Church. The Anglican spiritual tradition is a rich one and never to be dismissed, nor I hope forgotten. Fortunately, however, whenever the pangs become acute, good ol' TEC reminds me why I left; that the tradition I love has long ago passed. Just yesterday there were two good reminders, provided via Christopher Johnson at MCJ, and both taken from the "Calendar of Events" on the Episcopal Church website.

First up for your inspection, "Movement as Prayer: A Workshop. An Experience. An Education." At Saint Mark's Cathedral in Seattle you are invited to

Join us on October 13 for a day of learning and experiencing the ways in which movement becomes a form of worship. There will be opportunities to whirl with the Sufis, dance with liturgical dancer Betsey Beckman, to walk the labyrinth.

There will be both instruction and demonstrations; no previous experience needed. It is about turning and turning until we come around right (emphasis added).

Uh oh, that could make for a long, long day. You might want to hire a sitter and leave the kids at home...and wear comfortable shoes. Speaking of kids, next up is "Hip Hop Schoolhouse" where in the land of the bean and the cod

All are welcome at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston, Massachusetts on October 13 at 5:30 p.m. for the HipHopEMass 'Big Bean' Celebration with the newest Hip Hop Bishop (sic), 'Great Momma' Gayle Harris.

On October 14, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., the Cathedral will then host HipHopEMass Schoolhouse where the elements of Hip Hop, theology of Hip Hop, Hip Hop liturgy and evangelization will be introduced.

Ah, the Hip Hop Mass; an old favorite of mine. This one pretty much defies belief but picture if you will a bunch of ageing baby-boomer Episcopal Clergy in vestments, shoutin' out into over-amplified hand-held mikes the likes of

The Lord is all that, I need
For nothing
He allows me to chill.
He keeps me from being heated
And allows me to breathe easy.
He guides my life so that
I can represent and give
Shouts out in his Name.
And even though I walk through
The Hood of death,
I don't back down
For you have my back.
The fact that you have me covered
Allows me to chill.
He provides me with back-up
In front of my player-haters
And I know that I am a baler
And life will be phat
I fall back in the Lord's crib
For the rest of my life

"And life will be phat." God have mercy. Anyway, that would be the 23rd Psalm, in case you were wondering and fo' shizzle my nizzle that'll get my homies into the pews, yo! And, I guess, da bling.

I feel much better now, thank you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oh Please, Please, Pretty Please?



Rumors are flying Al Gore is contemplating another run at the presidency.

(h/t Riehl World View)

Baloney Sandwich

Mr. Franklin Jennings writes: "I'll sing in an ordinary form liturgy just about the time I hear the cantor intoning the Propers. Heaven deliver us from the four hymn sandwich. Somebody wrote the propers for good reason."

Well said, sir, and understandable given that the sandwiches served up in most Catholic churches are made with Wonder Bread and Cheez-food product. It can be done better: in most Anglo-Catholic churches the minor propers are song as well the four hymn sandwich. The difference is in the hymns. The 1940 Episcopal Hymnal, most often used in A-C parishes, may be the finest collection of hymns ever assembled. Not only are most of the tunes (composers/arrangers include, Palestrina, J.S. Bach, S.S. Wesley, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Holst and Vaughan Williams, to name a few) and the set verses top notch, the hymns are meticulously arranged by subject and chronology so the music director and the priest may select hymns pertinent to the Mass. Further, in most Anglican churches you will find the "choir edition" of the hymnal in the pews so congregants may sing parts if they like (and many do). Every verse is sung.

In many Catholic churches I've attended there doesn't seem to be much thought given to hymn selection save for ease of playing by the often incompetent organist (by the way, those funny-looking wooden sticks at the bottom of the thing are called "pedals" and can actually be played!). Also, the only function for the hymn in some RC churches is to serve as a bumper. When it's time to move on it's rallentando and coda, no matter where you happen to be. Then there are the hymns themselves: many wonderful hymns are found in Catholic hymnals but others are simply deplorable. I recently saw in the Adoremus Hymnal a sweet and lilting tune used as a setting for a condemnation of abortion. I am vehemently and unalterably opposed to that despicable and murderous act--no argument there--but I don't want to sing about it either; same for the Holocaust and pederasty.

So please don't come down on hymn singing. Done right, it is enormously uplifting and it can be done right in Catholic churches: go to High Mass at Fr. Rutler's Church of Our Saviour in New York and listen to great hymns, well accompanied and song with gusto. You'll swear you're among Protestants . . . well, for a little bit, anyway.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Anglican or English?

Ruth Gledhill in the (London) Times has a good piece on the Rt. Rev'd Jeffrey Steenson , Bishop of the Rio Grande (Episcopal), who recently announced his intentions to resign his orders and be received into the Holy Catholic Church. He hopes to become a priest in Holy Mother Church and though married, it seems a good bet this will happen, owing to the Pastoral Provision created under the aegis of Paul VI that allows married Anglican priests to be received into the Catholic Church and, eventually, into the priesthood. The Pastoral Provision also allows for "Anglican Use," parishes established by former Episcopalians (but of course open to all Catholics) using the modified Book of Common Prayer.

Gledhill writes of Bishop Steenson's dream "creating more space for the growing number of Anglican-rite churches in the Catholic Church in the US." She quotes Steenson: "I hope and pray that the Catholic Church might encourage us to bring a meaningful expression of Anglicanism into the life of the Catholic Church. I think the hope would be that Rome actually countenance the creation of some kind of meaningful Anglican ecclesial community under the umbrella of the Catholic Church."

As an Anglo-Catholic departing for Rome, those should be welcome words, indeed I should be ecstatic. In truth, however, I have mixed feelings. The Holy Catholic Church is at work on a new translation of the Novus Ordo Mass and judging by the enticing snippets I have seen, it is vastly superior to the present translation (proof of its superiority is that there is already whining from the liberals who complain of too many big words, all spelled out and everything; too challenging for the average Catholic Joe). I wonder, however, the efficacy of introducing a new English translation at the same time expanding Anglican Use parishes. Does the Church really need two English translations (three, actually: Anglican Use parishes may also use, if I have it right, the woeful Rite II from the 1979 Prayer Book)?

One of the great virtues of the Episcopal/Anglican Church, before the rot set in, was one could walk into any Anglican service, anywhere in the world, and know exactly what was going on; the glorious English was the same (even if the liturgy was disparate). Similarly with the Catholic Church (that part of it using the Roman Rite, of course) before the Vatican II reforms and the use of the vernacular. Understand, I am not against Anglican Use, indeed I am all for it. The proliferation of A.U. parishes would be a shot in the arm for the dismal music and liturgy found in so many Catholic churches--nothing like competition! It seems, however, to this layman the Holy Catholic Church needs but one (albeit a good one) English translation of the Mass. More might encourage Balkanization.

(Thanks to William Tighe)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Wasting No Time Wearing Out My Welcome

My first RC Mass in the hinterlands: not so ghastly, actually. Owing to obligations Sunday morning, I attended the Vigil Mass (a mild harumph) at a small RC Church not far from Bovina (if there are any Roman Catholics in Bovina, they must number only in the single digits).

What I didn't like:

1. The didactic, namby-pamby, sing-songy English of the N.O. English translation, fit for delivery by a kindergarten teacher: "Good morning, boys and girls, the Lord be with you." "Good morning, Miss Krabappel, and also with you." I've never understood that "also with you" (the Piskies do the same in the '79 Prayer Book). In the N.O. Latin, just as in the Traditional Mass, it reads, et cum spiritu tuo--"and with thy (or "your," if you like) spirit." And would someone tell me why the Latin Mass states Credo (not Credimus) in unum Deum but its English counterpart states "WE believe in one God?" There, like General Buck Turgidson in "Dr. Strangelove," I'm beginning to smell a big fat commie rat.

2. The singing: it's been said Catholics can't sing. That's not quite right, Catholics won't sing. All the hymns (four of them) were well known, easy and accompanied fairly competently on the electronic appliance. Despite that, most of those around me didn't even bother to pick up a hymnal, preferring to stand mute and stare ahead. This Anglican finds that the most discouraging about his future Catholic brethren: they don't even try.

What I did like:

1. The church itself: it was built ca. 1850 and has charm, albeit less than it must have had in earlier days, having been Vatican II Councilized with the picnic table altar and no altar rail (and yes, the Kirk chair; two of them, actually!).

2. The homily/sermon: it was a long one, this Anglican felt right at home. What's more, it was good. Given by an fine old Queens-born Irishman, it properly centered on the readings, of course, but the priest wasn't afraid to have at anti-Catholic bias in the media, singling out the New York Times, as well as the media's unrelentingly pro-abortion stance. It did my heart good to hear that.

3 (and most heartening). The attendance: the small church was packed, even on a Saturday evening. Many of those attending were young (young!), no doubt owing, in part, to there being a college nearby. Parishioners were welcoming (not so, I understand at many RC churches) and I quickly no longer felt the stranger.

So will I be back? Absolutely, the positives far outweighed the negatives and when you add sound doctrine and the unquestioned validity of the sacraments, it's a no-brainer. Just one plea to Christ's Vicar on earth: please, please, please, hurry up with the new English translation I keep hearing is on the way. And while you're at it, can we deep-six that kiss of peace/handshake business? We can commune with our neighbors before and after church. During church, let's keep it to God alone.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Kids These Days . . .


An RC friend sent the pic above, taken in front of the Episcopal church in his suburban New Jersey neighborhood (in Bp. Spong's vibrant Diocese of Newark), expressing bemusement. Well, dear Brother, it's like this: the Episcopal Church is desperately trying to attract younger membership because the actuarial tables are stacked against her. By incorporating the music of the likes of U2 into the Mass (as do ageing Catholics thumping for the Post Vatican II reforms), they hope to lure more young people into the churches; young people who won't be turning fifty for at least a couple of years.