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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moon, Schmoon

From Forbes:
If all goes according to plan, by December 2012 a team of three young Israeli scientists will have landed a tiny spacecraft on the moon, explored the lunar surface, and transmitted live video back to earth, thereby scooping up a $20 million prize (the Google Lunar X Prize), revolutionizing space exploration, and making the Jewish State the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon. And they’re doing it in their spare time.
Mel Brooks saw this coming a long time ago.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Unstripping of the Altars

From Rorate Caeli:

TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2011


Report - TLM at York Minster

From our friends at The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales:
Huge Success for the Latin Mass Society at York Minster

Over 700 Catholics committed to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) converged on York Minster on Saturday 26 March to attend the first celebration of a Catholic Mass in the Minster since the Reformation. Sung Mass in the ancient Latin Rite, complete with beautiful vestments, ceremonial and incense, was celebrated at the High Altar by Fr Stephen Maughan of the Catholic diocese of Middlesbrough.
Photos of the event may be found here.

Diarmaid MacCulloch (not someone with whom I always agree but undeniably an accomplished scholar) posits in his history of the reformation that at its eve the Catholic Church in England was in a better state of repair than anywhere else in Europe, the least corrupt and least in need of reform; thus it is all the more the tragic the events that followed. Heartening, then, to see at York Minster a well-attended Sung Mass, lovingly celebrated using the old rite. Perhaps England's Catholics will lead the way back to traditional worship in Holy Church. They won't, however, get help from most of their bishops, who are fighting "reform of the reform" every inch of the way.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Freedom to be Left Alone

It's kind of neat one can walk alongside the bishop's palace behind St. Patrick's Cathedral, on Madison Avenue, and pass by, within a foot, the smiling countenance of the Archbishop of New York, the Most Reverend Timothy Michael Dolan, standing alone and warmly greeting an arriving visitor. No security detail, no armed guards, no escorts, no bodyguards. I think that speaks well for the City of New York.

Dolan is a most likable fellow. I only wish he showed even a smidgen of interest in the liturgy, which is in such dreadful repair these days. Bishops, in some ways, have even more power than popes and if Dolan would simply utter every now and then a few positive remarks about the Latin Mass and the importance of good music, I think it would make a world of difference.

Alas, though I do cock my ear for them, I have heard nothing about liturgy and music since Dolan's installation. Ah well, we must pray for His Grace that he might have a change of heart. And it was still pleasant seeing him standing on the sidewalk completely at ease.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Making the Church Fit for Grownups

From Damian Thompson:
James MacMillan, Britain’s finest living Catholic composer, has told Archbishop Vincent Nichols that liturgical activists have made new Catholic congregational music “a laughing stock” in recent decades. “The faithful are fed up with sloppy practice, inappropriate, terrible music and the gradual drift away from Catholic standards in the liturgy,” he says.
Alas, I wish that were so but experience tells me many, if not most, of the faithful in the U.S. anyway seem satisfied enough with things just the way they are now, those faithful in their fifties and older, at least. Thompson writes further:
But liturgy is a continuing worry, and I’m not sure that Archbishop Nichols understands how wretchedly off-putting potential churchgoers find most sub-Joan Baez folk Masses and antiphons. New Catholic music in English and Welsh dioceses is in the hands of a grim cartel of trendies who have, until now, been stopped from getting their hands on Westminster Cathedral (though not for want of trying).
The key words there are "potential worshipers." Many young Catholics have voted with their feet, sadly. Having the zeal of a convert, perhaps, I can just barely stand the general horror of contemporary Catholic worship, having been well catechized in the importance of valid sacraments. Many, perhaps most, young Catholics, having been dragged to mass regularly when growing up and subjected to the puerile inanities of Marty Haugen, felt banners and Kumbaya, as well as criminally negligent catechizing, attended their last mass the Sunday before they left for college, never to return.

The only way I see to to get the young people back is, ironically, to make the Church fit for grownups again, which will only happen when the present bunch grownups, those of my generation and older, have finally, at long last, toddled off to that big folk mass in the sky, Deo gratias.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Janis & Tom, 4ever

I'm not a fan popular music and haven't been for decades. Nevertheless, I am a child of the 'sixties and 'seventies and was not raised in a bubble. I came across this gem recently and must admit it re-awakened my youthful enthusiasm for the genre. I present it without further commentary except to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: if you like this sort of thing you will find this the sort of thing you like.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

What a Disappointment

The bishops of New York State held a private conference yesterday with New York Governor Andrew Quomo, who professes to be Catholic but also is an enthusiastic proponent of abortion (among other sins). Earlier this year Cuomo attended an inaugural mass celebrated by Bishop Hubbard of Albany who nevertheless administered Communion to him. From Hubbard one would expect nothing less, he being the exemplar of tired old post-Vatican II squishiness, but there was hope at a private face-to-face with Cuomo, Archbishop Dolan at least might have given the governor a little what for.

Not a chance. "This is probably not the best place to talk about something that pastorally sensitive," said the Archbishop. Why not? One wonders where that place might be. One also wonders how Dolan, who deserves much credit for cleaning up the mess left behind by the heinous Archbishop Weakland of Milwaukee, can reconcile his aggressive pursuit of predator priests who rape vulnerable adolescents with his refusal to confront a prominent Catholic pol who endorses the murder of utterly helpless infants in the womb.

Thanks to Augustine.

Just Shut Up, Newt

John Podhoretz on Newt Gingrich:
He’s a fascinating, and occasionally brilliant, political thinker, but one thing the merciful and forgiving God who has so blessed him did not bestow upon Newt Gingrich was a sense of when to stop talking.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Good Jobs for Good People

Charlie Sheen: doing his part to bring down the unemployment rate.

Thanks to Andy Levy.

Manhattan College Gets Religion...Sort Of

A couple of months ago, you may recall, I had some fun with Manhattan College (in the Riverdale section of the Bronx) which, like so many Catholic colleges and universities in recent decades, has forsaken virtually all its Catholic trappings so to transform itself into the generic PC multi-culti institution so much in fashion with educational cognoscenti nowadays. This transformation was so successful, in fact, the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled Manhattan College could not bar its graduate assistants from voting for unionization by claiming exemption from federal labor law as a religious institution, because the evidence was it no longer is one.

Now, according to the Riverdale Review, a local newspaper (no link available), it appears the administration of Manhattan College has acknowledged religion does indeed play a part in this putatively Catholic institution and to that end has announced the appointment of a new director of the college's Holocaust Study Center, Dr. Mehnaz M. Afrididi, a Muslim woman, whose appointment the college justifies on the basis of her "enormous amount of interfaith experience."

Just what is in the collective bong these days at Manhattan College? Even if a small Catholic college in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in a predominantly Jewish city, where there already exists a widely acclaimed Holocaust museum and memorial less than a hour's ride from the campus on the IRT Broadway Local, can somehow justify allocating scarce resources to a small-time version of same in the Bronx, wouldn't it make a certain degree of sense to appoint a Jew to head it? At least one scholar thinks so. From the Riverdale Review:
Law professor and writer Thane Rosenbaum, direction of the Forum on Law, Culture and Society at Fordham University Law school and moderator of an annual series of discussions on Jewish culture and politics at the 92nd Street Y[MHA], was puzzled by the center's decision to broaden its focus.

"The moral travesty that was the Final Solution was not based on faith, and interfaith dialog would have made no difference to the Nazis," he said.

He felt that while Afridi's "sensitivity to the Holocaust may be genuine, it would be better to allow a Jew to be guardian for this particular history."

"Jews have a right to be proprietary in this," he continued. "In a world of multiculturalism and identity politics, everyone owns everyone else's tragedy."
Yes indeed, and to the multiculturalist administrators of Manhattan College, for whom religions are fungible (religion-schmigion!), the opportunity to earn double PC points by appointing a Muslim woman to head an institution for the study of an event uniquely identified with Jewish history must have proved to be irresistible.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Reforming the Reform, or Bashing One's Head Against the Wall

I recently volunteered to serve on the "liturgy committee" of my local parish and attended a meeting of same last week. The better part of the meeting I took no part in, it dealing with the various ceremonies and observances of the upcoming St. Patrick's Day in this largely Irish parish. Not being of that extraction I thought it more tactful to remain silent during rather lengthy discussions over seemingly endless minutia concerning the observances of that good Roman's feast day. It took, however, a mighty effort of will to curb my tongue as the pastor and some on the committee waxed sentimental over the Marxist-terrorist organization known as the Irish Republican Army.

The next item on the agenda was a matter of some concern for the pastor and most of the committee, i.e. those in their sixties or older: the ever decreasing number of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Various explanations for the dearth were proffered, with one committee member becoming downright indignant at the apparent lack of interest among younger parishioners to engage in this singular honor. After some back and forth a young person on the committee (the only one, in fact), a young woman, cleared her throat and tenuously suggested a possible reason younger parishioners do not volunteer to become extraordinary ministers was they, like most young Catholics who actually attend mass these days, detest the notion, for the very good reason the Holy Father strongly disapproves of them, and that their use should be severely curtailed. This caused considerable consternation among many on the committee, who expressed outraged disbelief at such an idea. The young woman thus obliged them by handing out copies of a document from the Congregation for Divine Worship that affirmed just what she had stated and proposed. There was still disbelief, with an older woman next to me asking of the document (with the year 2004 clearly indicated): "Is this new?"

Father joined in the discussion, pointing out (correctly) it was not that long ago the Archdiocese of New York was veritably hounding pastors to sign up as many Eucharistic lay ministers as possible and that he was bemused by the controversy. I pointed out at the Church of Our Saviour in Manhattan one never sees extraordinary ministers (and never will as long as Fr. Rutler is pastor) to which an older woman asked, "how do they serve the precious blood?" My response, "they don't," was not favorably received and provoked a baleful chorus that that was "unacceptable." The pastor, trying in vain to explain one receives both species even when receiving just one, eventually punted, saying he needed "guidance" from the bishop. The young woman who raised the matter, looking dejected (and boy did I feel for her), stated she would indeed write the bishop. I am sure she knows enough not to hold out much hope; Archbishop Dolan, to the best of my knowledge, has little or no interest in liturgical reform.

The next matter, raised by myself, I expected to be the most controversial but it turned out to be less so--in a way. I declared my deep gratitude the parish offered a Tridentine mass once a month, celebrated by a visiting priest, but wondered if it might be moved from the middle of Sunday afternoon to one of the morning masses and, eventually, celebrated more often. The pastor (who, I should stress, is a very decent man), declared it was impossible; he had never celebrated the Tridentine mass, didn't think he could learn it, nor could the other priests on his staff. I suggested a young, newly-arrived priest who seemed to take the liturgy seriously might be prevailed upon to have a go at it and that I would gladly undergo training to be a server. Alas, no. The reaction from the pastor and liturgy committee alike was, "nice idea but it cannot be done. The meeting was then adjourned.

I am sure the above account is a familiar one to long-time Catholic traditionalists and it is not my intention to bash the pastor who is in a difficult position. He must perform a delicate balancing act between the relatively small number of young parishioners, who are much more enthused about traditional worship, and the much larger number of older folk, the parish stalwarts, who attend mass faithfully, give generously of their money and time--by serving on the liturgy committee, for example--but also, sadly, seemingly adore the horrid music and embrace liturgical practices that would have been considered heretical only forty years ago. I intend remaining on the liturgy committee and will bring up the subject of the Tridentine mass regularly, but always politely.

For I have come to the firm conclusion it is waste of time trying to reform lousy music, heretical liturgy and other abominable practices within the context of Novus Ordo, which only seems to encourage them or at least make them possible. Only the traditional Latin mass, with its ultra-strict rubrics, will make it possible to effect "reform of the reform" in Holy Church, not just theological and liturgical but, as the Holy Father himself has stated, moral as well. Traditional Catholics should make restoration of the Tridentine mass their goal above all else.