Bp. Nickless (D. Sioux City): OUTSTANDING Pastoral Letter

It is a big day for the priests and people in the Diocese of Sioux City.

His Excellency Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City, four years as bishop, during this year for Priests, has issued a pastoral letter Ecclesia Semper Reformanda (The Church is Always in Need of Renewal).

This is "A Pastoral Letter on the Future of the Church in the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa".

I can’t reproduce the whole letter here, but here are the headings and some points I find especially interesting.  As you go on, keep this in mind:

Raising our worship is like raising the tide: all the boats rise at the same time and without it, no boat rises.

In the Introduction Bp. Nickless tackles the implementation of the Second Vatican Council and the New Evangelization.

He asks in II. The Second Vatican Council and the New Evangelization:

We now find ourselves forty-four years since the close of the Council. Many questions still need to be asked and answered. Have we understood the Council within the context of the entire history of the Church? Have we understood the documents well? Have we truly appropriated and implemented them? Is the current state of the Church what the Council intended? What went right? What went wrong? Where is the promised “New Pentecost”?

And then immediately goes on to quote Pope Benedict XVI’s pivotal address to the Curia in December of 2005 about the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture versus a hermeneutic of reform in continuity with the past.  Bp. Nickless also identifies a false "spirit of Vatican II".

In III. The Current Context Bp. Nickless speaks of a dualism at work.  People are either this or that in every sphere of Catholic life, along progressivist or traditional lines.  He returns to the problem of a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.

In a passage that could have been straight from this blog.  Note the ad intra/ad extra paring, the emphases on identity and then mission.  If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, then we have nothing to contribute to the wider world or the smaller spheres of our influence.

My brothers and sisters, let me say this clearly: The “hermeneutic of discontinuity” is a false interpretation and implementation of the Council and the Catholic Faith. It emphasizes the “engagement with the world” to the exclusion of the deposit of faith. This has wreaked havoc on the Church, systematically dismantling the Catholic Faith to please the world, watering down what is distinctively Catholic, and ironically becoming completely irrelevant and impotent for the mission of the Church in the world. The Church that seeks simply what works or is “useful” in the end becomes useless.

Our urgent need at this time is to reclaim and strengthen our understanding of the deposit of faith. We must have a distinctive identity and culture as Catholics, if we would effectively communicate the Gospel to the people of this day and Diocese. This is our mission. Notice that this mission is two-fold, like the Second Vatican Council’s purpose. It is toward ourselves within the Church (ad intra), and it is to the world (ad extra). The first is primary and necessary for the second; the second flows from the first. This is why we have not been as successful as we should be in bringing the world to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ to the world. We cannot give what we do not have; we cannot fulfill our mission to evangelize, if we ourselves are not evangelized.

With this in place, Bp. Nickless goes on to IV. Pastoral Priorities for the Diocese of Sioux City:

1. We must renew our reverence, love, adoration and devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament, within and outside of Mass. A renewal of Eucharistic Spirituality necessarily entails an ongoing implementation of the Second Vatican Council’s reform of the liturgy as authoritatively taught by the Church’s Magisterium, the promotion of Eucharistic Adoration outside of Mass, regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist and our Mother.

He is absolutely correct to start here, of course.  He opens this part reminding his people that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. 
"All that we are and do should flow from our participation in the Eucharist and lead back to it. It is absolutely central to our identity and faith as Catholics. It enables us to engage in our mission. Without a proper reverence, love, adoration and devotion to the Eucharist and the liturgy, we are lost."

So, for Bishop Nickless, proper worship is the first priority.  "When we worship God in this way, He sanctifies us, that is, He makes us holy. This is the second purpose of the Liturgy." 

Since, in the Church’s liturgy, we meet God in a unique way, how we worship – the external rites, gestures, vessels, music, indeed, the building itself – should reflect the grandeur of the Heavenly liturgy. Liturgy is mystical; it is our mysterious encounter with the transcendent God, who comes to sanctify us through the sacrifice of Christ made present in the Eucharist and received in Holy Communion. It should radiate Heavenly truth and goodness. This radiance, the splendor of truth, is called beauty. Our liturgy should radiate true beauty, reflecting the beauty of God Himself and what He does for us in Christ Jesus. It should lift up our soul—first through our intellect and will, but also through our senses and emotions—to adore God as we share already in Heaven’s eternal worship. In this vale of tears, the liturgy should be a lodestar, a transcending place of wonder and comfort in the midst of our day-to-day lives, a place of light and high beauty beyond the reach of worldly shadows.[13] So many people only connect with the Church, and sometimes with prayer and God, through Sunday Mass. Should we not offer an experience of beauty and transcendence, compellingly different from our day-to-day lives? Should not every facet of our offering be proportionate to the divine reality?

That footnote #13?  That’s J.R.R. Tolkien, by the way.

Bp. Nickless has gotten all this exactly right.

A reform of our worship has logical priority. 

In this section the Bishop quotes important passage from Papa Ratzinger’s book Feast of Faith.  He is placing his own vision within that of Benedict XVI.

"It is imperative that we recover this wonder, awe, reverence and love for the liturgy and the Eucharist. To do this, we must feel and think with the whole Church in “reforming the reform” of the Second Vatican Council. We must accept and implement the current stream of magisterial liturgical documents coming from the Holy See: Liturgiam Authenticam (2001), the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal, and its new General Instruction on the Roman Missal (2002), Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2002), Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003), Spiritus et Sponsa (2003), Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), Sacramentum Caritatis (2007), and Summorum Pontificum (2007).

It seems that all is not well with the Liturgy, and the Church is trying to help us. The pendulum swings, the hermeneutic of discontinuity, and the divisions within our Church have been seen and felt in the Liturgy more than anywhere." 

At this point you must see the important of his mentioning Summorum Pontificum in his list of documents pertaining to the liturgy: Summorum Pontificum (2007).  It is unfathomable that he wouldn’t mention this tool of continuity and reform.  And there it is.  Bp. Nickless sees Summorum Pontificum as a tool – one among several in the tool box – for the number one priority in his diocese within this Benedictine vision.  Another important tool for executing that Benedictine "Marshall Plan" is Sacramentum caritatis.

The Bishop goes one to speak of "active participation" and "clericalizing" the laity and "laicizing" the priesthood.  I liked this comparison: "The liturgy, like the Church, is intended to be hierarchical and polyphonic, respecting the different roles assigned by Christ and allowing all the different voices to blend in one great hymn of praise."

Does this part sound familiar to WDTPRS readers?

"Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active."

Furthermore:

"Conscious participation calls for the entire community to be properly instructed in the mysteries of the liturgy, lest the experience of worship degenerate into a form of ritualism. But it does not mean a constant attempt within the liturgy itself to make the implicit explicit, since this often leads to a verbosity and informality which are alien to the Roman Rite and end by trivializing the act of worship. Nor does it mean the suppression of all subconscious experience, which is vital in a liturgy which thrives on symbols that speak to the subconscious just as they speak to the conscious. The use of the vernacular has certainly opened up the treasures of the liturgy to all who take part, but this does not mean that the Latin language, and especially the chants which are so superbly adapted to the genius of the Roman Rite, should be wholly abandoned. If subconscious experience is ignored in worship, an affective and devotional vacuum is created and the liturgy can become not only too verbal but also too cerebral."

A bit of understatement there about Latin chants, since they are the official music of Holy Church and should always have priority over every other choice.

This has been our push for a long time here.  It is nice to see that those far above my pay grade are moving in the same stream of thought.

HEre is a nice bit that concerns, inherently, the correct understanding of inculturation:  "It is time to dig deeper, “to put out into the deep,”19 into a new and authentic liturgical spirituality that is both old and new, active and contemplative, historical and mystical, Roman and Iowan, familiar and challenging."

He goes on to address Adoration and the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation and Marian Devotion.

His next priorities:

2. We must strengthen catechesis on every level, beginning with and focusing on adults. If we, who are supposed to be mature in faith, do not know the Catholic Faith well, how can we live it and impart it to our children and future generations of Catholics?

3. The first two pastoral priorities, renewal in Eucharistic Spirituality and Catechesis, will foster faithful families that are the foundation of the Church and the society. We are called to protect, build up and foster holy families in our midst, without whom the Church and the world perish.

4. If we renew the Eucharistic, catechetical, and family life of our diocese, we will simultaneously foster a culture where young people can more readily respond to the radical calls of ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life.

5. We must acknowledge and embrace the missionary character of the Catholic Faith and the vocation of all Catholics to be, not only disciples, but also apostles.

Folks, this is an outstanding letter.

Bishop Nickness places a reform of the liturgy according to a Benedictine hermeneutic as the number one priority for the life of the diocese.   Of course all the other priorities are worked on contemporaneously.  But liturgy must have a logical priority even if chronologically we are working on everything simultaneously.

He is working within the thought stream and vision of Pope Benedict.

If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, then we have nothing to contribute to the wider world or the smaller spheres of our influence.  Reform of our worship as Catholics, in continuity, is the key to this Benedictine "Marshall Plan".  To use another image, liturgy is the tip of the spear.

Massive WDTPRS kudos to Bishop Nickless!

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45 Responses to Bp. Nickless (D. Sioux City): OUTSTANDING Pastoral Letter

  1. Cristero says:

    Outstanding letter, Bishop Nickless.

  2. q7swallows says:

    “2. We must strengthen catechesis on every level, beginning with and focusing on adults. If we, who are supposed to be mature in faith, do not know the Catholic Faith well, how can we live it and impart it to our children and future generations of Catholics?”

    AMEN!

  3. mhittle says:

    Bishop Nickless is my bishop!!!!!!!!!

    Hopefully this letter helps the Extraordinary Form situation in the Sioux City Diocese- there is ONE 7:30 AM EF Mass at the Cathedral each Sunday.

    Also, it’s hard to find a really well done Ordinary Form Mass in the diocese. Hopefully this letter helps fix that.

    Finally, he’s making a decision whether to tear down a 117 year old church recently damaged by fire. Let’s hope he saves it (with its beautiful white marble high altar).

  4. Fr. John Mary says:

    This is “light in the midst of the darkness”. Praise God!
    “Beauty will save the world”…the beauty of the Holy Sacrifice celebrated with great devotion and careful preparation and execution. Holy Mary, pray for Bishop Nickless and give this magnificent grace to the Shepherds of this country, of our world. Amen.

  5. irishgirl says:

    Praised be Our Lord and Our Lady for another strong and faithful shepherd!

    Huzzah to Bishop Nickless!

  6. Johnny Domer says:

    Bishop Nickless also had an excellent letter on health care reform:

    http://www.scdiocese.org/DioceseofSiouxCity/AssumptionofMary/tabid/415/Default.aspx

    Go down towards the bottom of the page to see it. It is a marvelously clarifying piece. I wish there were more like him.

  7. The part about renunciation I found remarkable.

    The Tolkien quote I found remarkably apposite. We are exactly there at Mass to let the sky peel back and the dawn without end shine in, to meet God in the middle of common day. We might not be able to sense that, every time; but we ought to treat it like that because that’s what it really is, always.

  8. I just got done reading the entire thing save a few paragraphs at the end.

    Don’t rely on reviews and excerpts of this pastoral letter. Read it in it’s entirety.

    I’m glad it has come out when it did – ahead of the fall bishop’s conference. I hope other bishop’s start to follow suit.

    I particularly liked the exhortations His Excellency made of his priests, especially concerning confession and preaching.

    He didn’t neglect talking about the family either and brings up important points about people being over-active and having too much of an emphasis on entertainment.

  9. P.McGrath says:

    I just had a brief reading of the letter.

    I do like it. It’s probably the best such letter from an American ordinary since 1965. I like that he mentioned Summorum Pontificum, and the need for chant, and … the other good things cited above.

    My problem with it? It’s an outstanding THOUGHT letter, but there are no ACTION items in it. Pastors will read it, and then say, “Nice letter, Bishop,” then call out to the parish secretary, “Make sure that order to OCP for ten boxes of ‘Glory and Praise’ gets out today so we can get that ten percent discount.”

    In other words, this very good THOUGHT letter needs to be followed up with a very good ACTION letter with specific, immediate, measurable directives for pastors to implement.

    It could look something like this:


    Following up on my letter ‘Ecclesia Semper Reformanda,’ I am directing that pastors and parishes implement the following actions:


    1. By December 2010, at least one parish in every deanery shall have Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. This should not be limited to one parish in the deanery; as many parishes that want to start it should do so.


    2. Chant is the proper music of the Roman Rite; to bring this to parishes, all music apostolates in all parishes will be required to send their members through the chant intensive seminars that the Cathedral will be holding through 2010 and 2011. Dates will be announced.


    3. The GIRM rubrics state that the so-called “Sign of Peace” is an option; in order that the Eucharistic People may more fully concentrate on the Eucharistic Lord they are about to receive, the use of this option is suppressed in perpetuity throughout this Diocese.


    4. Pastors and parochial vicars who wish to implement fully the directive of GIRM for ‘ad orientem’ celebration of the Mass may do so immediately.

    Obviously I’m sketching here, and that could be tweaked and re-arranged any number of ways.

    My point is this: without a good ACTION letter to back up this good THOUGHT letter, the thought letter is USELESS.

  10. Central Valley says:

    Holy Father please dispatch a man of this calibre to the diocese of Fresno, Ca. I on pray more American bishops will follow.

  11. StevenDunn says:

    I hope my own Iowan bishop, the Rev. Martin Amos, reads this letter and takes it to heart!

  12. JosephMary says:

    Wow. This bishop came from Denver, by the way.

    And I really like P. McGrath’s action follow-up suggestions! We have no perpetual adoration in my deanery…just for starters.

  13. chironomo says:

    P. McGrath…

    You stole my response! Seriously… I thought the exact same thing… “Where’s The Beef!!”

    Don’t get me wrong. This is an outstanding and astounding letter…a sort of total negation of Cardinal Mahoney’s “Gather Faithfully Together”. It’s points are all totally true and perfectly summarize the problem and the solutions needed.

    My problem, though, is the same as P. McGrath’s above. It discovers the solutions, but doesn’t DO THEM. It is like (OK…exactly like) a letter that says “What we need to do is cease using contemporary music at Mass and return to the sacred chants.” OK… well??? Let’s do it then….hmmm? We’ll do it as soon as you tell us to….just say the word and we’re there….anytime…we’re waiting for the word…

    You get the idea. P.McGrath above sets it out very eloquently. Some REQUIREMENTS are needed…with dates…and training and programs to back them up. Otherwise, it is a letter that refers to a “stream” of documents that have been, so far, ignored.

    If in the wake of the child-abuse scandal the Bishops had issued a letter saying “We hope that all of our parishes will take steps to prevent such scandal in the future. Perhaps you could devise and implement some programs in your parish to address this. A good idea would be to have all of your parish employees fingerprinted and maybe even run background checks on personnel”, do you think most parishes would have gone through all of this?

    I hope that our Bishop will eventually see to issuing such a letter as this. But I would also hope that there might be some… umhh..teeth?

  14. Folks: Before you can have a concrete program, you have to have the direction and vision for the program.

    First, the Pastoral Letter.

    Then, the concrete plans.

    In the meantime, given this letter, it would be hard for anyone to complain to the bishop that the priest in the parish is implementing Redemptionis Sacramentum or Summorum Pontificum.

  15. Kudos…a major improvement over what we got in my archdiocese (Gather Faithfully Together)…I agree there should be meat and enforcement, whose to say that’s not coming in a follow up? I pray that it is

  16. Emilio III says:

    My favorite paragraph:

    Lastly, the Holy Father, going into greater detail later in the address, explains that the “spirit of Vatican II” must be found only in the letter of the documents themselves. The so-called “spirit” of the Council has no authoritative interpretation. It is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lord’s work.

  17. Frank H says:

    One minor question… Does the title “The Great” in reference to Pope John Paul II now have some sort of official status? I see it more and more often.

  18. lmgilbert says:

    Bishop Nickless writes, “Where is the promised ‘New Pentecost’?”

    Perhaps he is referring to Pope John XXIII’s December 25, 1961 apostolic constitution, Humanae salutis (Of Human Salvation) convoking the Second Vatican Council. Its sixth paragraph closed in this fashion:

    Renew Your wonders in our time, as though for [by] a new Pentecost (Renova aetate hac nostra per novum veluti Pentecostem mirabilia tua) and grant that the holy Church, preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and also under the guidance of St. Peter, may increase the reign of the Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen.

    That happened and is happening. However, as with the coming of Jesus Christ himself, it has been largely rejected by the learned religious leaders of the day. Not by the popes however.

    Yes, there are all kinds of stories about charismatics- who generally do not sing Gregorian chant at their prayer meetings and have been known to give way to cacaphonic exhuberance. Yet, if there has been some wierdness, some excess, some heresy and some departure for the sects, it has quite a lot to do with how they have been received and treated. As George MacDonald put it, “the cold shoulder is a terrible instrument.”

    About 20 times I personally asked a variety of priests personally or by letter to come to our prayer meetings in late sixties and early seventies. All of this produced one visit. It is a very spiritual movement and we wanted guidance. It was not forthcoming. If there have been bad fruits, it was overwhelmingly due to pastoral neglect. It was, I shall always believe, a failure of priesthood.

    In response to this I have been told that if this was a genuine movement of the Holy Spirit, there would have been no problems. And how is that scriptural? We did not say to the Church, to our pastors, “We have no need of you.” In far too many instances the Church through its leaders said it to us one way or another. We felt it, and the fruits are obvious.

    Nevertheless in many parishes through this country and the world, many of the most active and effective people in the parish have come through the charismatic renewal. Perhaps they have outgrown it, but it tutored them and led them into spiritual gifts that have become so part of them they are no longer even aware of it.

    To take just one instance, I can think of a Filippino lady who leads two praesidia of the Legion of Mary, and on any Sunday morning sings in the choir of one parish, is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in another, brings the Eucharist to the sick and aged in a retirement home, mans a book table after one Mass, and goes door to door throughout the town on Sunday afternoons.

    The New Pentecost, Bishop Nickless? “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”

  19. John V says:

    INEFFABLE ALERT!

    “Too often we forget that God is transcendent and ineffable, incomprehensibly greater than we can imagine.” Section IV.1.¶3.

  20. Aaron says:

    So, for Bishop Nickless, proper worship is the first priority. — Fr. Z.

    As it should be. A common argument I’ve heard is that the frequent abuses and poor execution of the new Mass are a symptom of poor catechesis and changes in social attitudes and the like, so to try to fix the Mass would be treating the symptoms and not the cause, and thus bound to fail. Instead, we’re supposed to fix how we teach people and how they live, and they’ll demand good liturgy.

    But for most Catholics, the Mass is their primary source of catechesis and grace. It’s the only way to reach the Sunday morning Catholics who know little about their faith. Give them liturgy that presents the faith clearly and challenges them to understand it, and maybe you’ll get them to a point where you can address the rest of the way they live.

  21. moon1234 says:

    Many good things in this letter. However I take issue with continuing the revision of the liturgy. I am just done with that in my life. I attend the EF and wish it never to change for time immemorial. New saints and feast can and should be added, but the time for liturgical change and experimentation is over. It is time to dump the banal new mass invention and return to Catholic roots, to the traditional Mass.

    Lex Orandi, Lex crendi Simple as that.

    “Sacrament of Reconciliation”
    This always makes me grit my teeth. The sacrament is properly named Penance. (Notice the proper name calls to mind personal sin and the need for PERSONAL sorrow and, at a minimum imperfect contrition for offending God.) Reconciliation is obtained thru the priest by both Penance and receiving the Eucharist.

  22. chironomo says:

    First, the Pastoral Letter.

    Then, the concrete plans.

    Of course. But….why not all in one letter? I know…I know…it’s the “pastoral” thing to do. I can’t wait to see the concrete plans.

  23. moon1234 says:

    “If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, then we have nothing to contribute to the wider world or the smaller spheres of our influence. Reform of our worship as Catholics, in continuity, is the key to this Benedictine “Marshall Plan”. To use another image, liturgy is the tip of the spear.”

    The problem with liturgical reform is that it presupposes that something is “Wrong” with the old liturgical forms. How did we get this type of thinking engrained into the Catholic ethos? Why can we as Catholics not look to the future thru the lens of the past? For the past is our patrimony. We as Catholics have such a rich liturgical Patrimony that to constantly talk about liturgical reform denies that Patrimony.

    Organic development, only those things which more perfectly expand the truth should be considered. Any departure from organic development breaks with our past Patrimony. The Novus Ordo will always feel like a departure from our Catholic roots. There is no escaping it, no denying it. When the NO is “enhanced” to recognize our true Patrimony we quite rightfully arrive back at the Traditional Mass.

    It is time for proper catechesis of young and old. It is time for all Catholics to understand no only WHAT is going on at mass, but also WHY and HOW. Once one understands these items of liturgical patrimony one will see how deficient the Novus Ordo is compared to the Traditional Mass.

    The Novus Order may be valid, may be the norm, but it is most definitely not an organic enhancement of Catholic liturgical patrimony.

    [Sidebar]
    Catholic Liturgical Patrimony is one of the main reasons Hitler had such a hard time recruiting in Bavaria. The people looked towards their Catholic heritage, their 2000 year old liturgy and were able to see it’s teachings. Hitler and the Nazi’s even admitted that Catholics were the hardest to recruit because our history supplants in time and German pagan ritual that was being used to draw away the common people. It was not until the Leaders in the church of that time were duped into supporting hitler that the common Catholic would support the Nazis.

    For this reason, it is very important that all Catholics know they faith, know their Catholic history and truely love their Catholic Patrimony. Without this we will be but lambs led to an intellectual and cultural slaughter until the faith is no longer recognizable.

  24. Greg Smisek says:

    “INEFFABLE ALERT!”

    How irresponsible of this shepherd of souls — imagine putting such a dangerous word out there where innocent children might stumble upon it!

  25. There are some people for whom good is not good enough. They pit the perfect against the good and thereby drag down both.

  26. Dave N. says:

    Awesome letter. And I’m usually one of the first to jump on the “where’s the beef bandwagon” but I think in this case there’s really a lot of very well thought through programmatic info for a pastoral letter. The letter begins from a very sound starting point and moves ahead. Of course the “proof’s in the pudding” but I’d say so far, extremely commendable. The people of this diocese are most fortunate.

    For example, compare this to Cdl. George’s “can’t we all just be Catholic?” interview from last week. Granted, George’s words came from a different genre, but in this letter it actually feels like Bp. Nickless really understands a) what has happened in the Church at large and in his diocese and b) know what to do about it. Yea! Bp. Nickless wants to actually run the Church; not only theorize about ecclesiology.

    And how many times do you see something like this?? “We must give concrete help against the corrosive effects of pre-marital promiscuity, cohabitation, contraception and abortion, pornography industry, easily executed divorce, and infidelity.”

  27. Malta says:

    The full letter also has this:

    “I studied and was ordained a deacon and priest during the exciting, almost intoxicating, time of the Second Vatican Council. I am thoroughly a product of that momentous time, the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church in centuries.”

    I disagree with this, wholeheartedly. Vatican II was not “the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit” to the Church in centuries. Far from it. Even if unambiguously understood, I don’t think the Holy Spirit had much to do with a pastoral council concerned with such things as Social Communications. The Holy Spirit, I’m sure, did prevent this council from spiraling down to the point of completely deconstructing the Church.

    Vatican II was a valid pastoral council that is now mostly passe, as almost every one of her commandments is now dated, and mostly failed (esp., ie, ecumenism: whereas during Vatican II a church sect such as Anglicanism had some hope of perhaps rejoining the Church that Christ founded, who would think that is possible today?)

  28. Malta says:

    Bishop: “In this vale of tears, the liturgy should be a lodestar, a transcending place of wonder and comfort in the midst of our day-to-day lives, a place of light and high beauty beyond the reach of worldly shadows.”

    I agree, but then why did they banalize it? Why turn the mass that inspired much of the greatest art on earth on its head, and make it commonplace? No appreciator of music can undervalue the role that the Tridentine rite played on musical art, but also other forms. Even Jewish composers such as Leonard Bernstein had compositions to the old rite. But most importantly, this rite informed the greatest saints the world has ever seen for its proper praxis is the unbloody Sacrifice of Christ.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agatha_Christie_indult

    http://www.traditio.com/tradlib/agatha.txt

  29. Davidtrad says:

    I share Malta’s reserve. I was also troubled by this:

    “There can be no split, however, between the Church and her faith before and after the Council. We must stop speaking of the “Pre-Vatican II” and “Post-Vatican II” Church, and stop seeing various characteristics of the Church as “pre” and “post” Vatican II.”

    If His Excellency is asking us to stop seeing the differences between the pre-VCII Church and the post-VCII, then I’m afraid the only way the faithful will succeed is to stick all our heads in the sand.

    No one in their right mind could ignore the rather significant difference in the Church’s liturgy, let alone aesthetics, ecumenism, religious liberty, religious education, demographics, priest shortages, desolate convents and monasteries, etc., etc., etc. It seems to me that to ignore the differences is to ignore the problem.

  30. If we were living 40-50 years after the Council of Nicaea or the Council of Ephesus, we’d be complaining about all the horrible Arian and Nestorian trouble that the Councils brought down on us.

    No one in their right mind could ignore the rather significant difference in the Church’s creed, let alone aesthetics, religious liberty, religious education, priest and bishops in heresy and out of communion with the Pope, orthodox priests and bishops exiled, orthodox laypeople and religious murdered in the streets, burned out convents and monasteries destroyed by the Empire, etc., etc., etc. It seems to me that to ignore the post-Nicene and post-Ephesian differences is to ignore the problem.

  31. LawrenceK says:

    That is so incredibly awesome.

    FYI: If you are looking for the Tolkien quote and your edition doesn’t match Bishop Nickless’ edition, you can find it in The Return of the King, Book VI, Chapter 2, in the paragraph beginning “Frodo sighed and was asleep….”

    In this passage (and in the song in the previous chapter) Sam is comforted, in the midst of tribulations, by his knowledge that the tribulations he and Frodo are facing cannot touch the heavenly realities. In his world, the heavenly realities are established firmly by God and ruled by the angelic Valar, and Sam can be comforted by knowing this, even though he is far from them. How much more blessed are we, whose Savior has reached out and touched us with his very own Body and Blood!

  32. Geometricus says:

    imgilbert points out: Bishop Nickless writes, “Where is the promised ‘New Pentecost’?”

    Meanwhile, Malta quotes H.E.: “I studied and was ordained a deacon and priest during the exciting, almost intoxicating, time of the Second Vatican Council. I am thoroughly a product of that momentous time, the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church in centuries.”

    Myself, I see no inherent contradiction in pointing these out. We do need to “exorcise the spirit of Vatican II” where that spirit is one of falsehood and heresy. When we do that, we will see that new Pentecost. At the same time, I experienced personally an outpouring of that “greatest gift of the Holy Spirit” amid all the chaos and upheaval in those years following the Council.

    I have the same background as imgilbert. Without the ‘signs and wonders’ of the Charismatic renewal that attracted me to the Catholic Church in the late 70′s, I doubt that I would be the Catholic I am today. I am currently a choir director but also run a Gregorian Chant Schola on the side that sings at another parish. [Chant is not quite welcome in all its splendor at my present parish, but we are working on that, 'brick by brick'.] I also teach at a “newer” Catholic school known for its orthodoxy in teaching the faith and its general adherence to the hermeneutic of continuity, and I consider my job an apostolate, engaging in spiritual warfare on a daily basis, winning minds and hearts of young people and their parents. There are not a few of us “old charismatics” working at the school.

    I don’t often participate in ‘charismatic’-type gatherings anymore, and I pretty much want to crawl in a hole nowadays if anyone tries to bring that ‘style’ of worship into mass, but yet I have to agree with imgilbert that it was a true spiritual movement, and that we cried out for guidance and were often left to ourselves, and so became easy pickings for wolves.

    Fr. Z. himself, while serving as an associate at my home parish, was a part of my education, guiding me ever so gently, but firmly, to connect with the beauty of tradition. I will never forget sitting in his office and hearing him say “The entire patrimony of sacred music of the Church is YOURS, and no one can EVER take it away from you.”

    I’ll leave the bigger issues about VII to the liturgical and historical experts. I just know I want my own six kids, and my future grandchildren, to experience even just a taste of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit I experienced in the late ’70′s. But even if they don’t, I would love it even more if they would attend mass out of love for Christ and his Church, and follow the precepts of that Church and so enter into eternal life with Christ.

  33. Davidtrad says:

    Suburbanbanshee,

    Yeah! Great comparison… except for one little thing… Absolutely no similarity at all!!

    Arians and Nestorians weren’t trying to enact and or enforce the teachings of Nicaea or Ephesus. They blatantly were being disobedient to the teachings of those Councils. The teachings of all Ecumenical Councils prior to the Second Vatican Council did not cause confusion, they clarified.

  34. Malta says:

    geo: “Without the ‘signs and wonders’ of the Charismatic renewal that attracted me to the Catholic Church in the late 70’s, I doubt that I would be the Catholic I am today. I am currently a choir director but also run a Gregorian Chant Schola on the side that sings at another parish. [Chant is not quite welcome in all its splendor at my present parish, but we are working on that, ‘brick by brick’.] I also teach at a “newer” Catholic school known for its orthodoxy in teaching the faith and its general adherence to the hermeneutic of continuity, and I consider my job an apostolate, engaging in spiritual warfare on a daily basis, winning minds and hearts of young people and their parents. There are not a few of us “old charismatics” working at the school.”

    The Charismatic “renewal” worked well for you. That’s great, really. But we are talking about a Church of over a Billion souls.

    The unifying Latin liturgy was splintered by VII; now souls are unsure of what “catholic” means, what the mass represents?

    Mind you, most Catholic souls out there are not liturgical experts. Whereas before the mass was plainly the unbloody Sacrifice, uniformaly, throughout the Catholic word. Now it is more often a silly caricature.

  35. THREEHEARTS says:

    One thing I cannot understand, the first Pentecost was a covenant with God. All covenants with God are sealed by fire (upon Mary and the Apostles in this case Douai Rheims translation of the Westminster bible)
    Where was the fire at the new Pentecost and did God decide to renew the covenant with the vatican 2 bishops or even with the 20th century college of bishops. I do not think so. To use new for Pentecost is bordering on heresy.

  36. Patrick J. says:

    #

    There are some people for whom good is not good enough. They pit the perfect against the good and thereby drag down both.
    Comment by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf — 16 October 2009 @ 5:27 pm

    Thank you Father Z. for your eloquence and wisdom. God is using you, don’t stop! This message in particular.

    Young people, and cantankerous curmudgeons, (well meaning, to be sure) PAY ATTENTION!! Gradualism is the only way any of this gets done, sorry to burst your super-idealist bubble. Now get behind these folks and put your shoulder to the wheel and stop complaining everthying is not your idea of perfect. Sometimes this is just an excuse for inaction.

    I was at a parish school today, Obama-ites and the like, school is 90% non-Catholic in the inner city, and was really thinking I was wasting my time helping out. Well, you should have seen the reverence for the church and the alter and the prayers. Better than most Catholics. So, you never know. Then while I was there, the new pastor asked me for my card. I had a similar experience attending an inter faith event at a Mosque. Not a Muslim “service” but a dinner and talk. There you will find, maybe surprisingly, ex Catholics, and just being able to connect (I had serious doubts about even going, as do many now reading this) and plant a seed or two. This is where it will start, I am convinced, in those ‘imperfect’ situations. Think of the world the apostles stepped into!!

  37. Patrick J. says:

    I had an undeniable Pentacost type, ‘slain in the Spirit,’ encounter with the Holy Spirit, praying alone late at night in front of the tabernacle in a Catholic rectory. I have often tried to understand it given the quite non traditional bent of that church and myself at that time. It did help me to feel that the mission I was on was ‘God approved’ as I was in a state of some brokenness right then, looking for direction. So, just to weigh in, though I think the Charismatic renewal without tradition falls flat eventually. I think we are seeing that now.

  38. Fr. Z said, “First, the Pastoral Letter.

    Then, the concrete plans.”

    Chironimo resonded: Of course. But….why not all in one letter? I know…I know…it’s the “pastoral” thing to do. I can’t wait to see the concrete plans

    Sometimes it is necessary to give a letter like this time to soak in. By giving a vision for the diocese through this pastoral letter he acts on the graces of prudence and patience. We would do well to also exercise patience while helping the good bishop, and his brothers, with time spent in Adoration for their success.

  39. Davidtrad says:

    Patrick, so I’m supposed to suspend thought and agree with everything this bishop says? I’m not allowed to disagree with anything he says and if I do, I’m a cantankerous curmudgeon (because I’m certainly not young)?

    Well, despite the initial impressions of the thought police, my shoulder has been at the wheel for quite some time now. I take it as bald faced lie and a base insult the insinuation that I’m making excuses for inaction, especially since I’ve given blood, sweat and tears in raising my children in a traditional Catholic home and in doing my part to foster the local Traditional Latin Mass Community.

    And my criticism still still stands: to ignore the significant changes in the Church that have taken place after the Second Vatican Council is paramount to sticking one’s head in the sand. If you want to address that, then fine, but please refrain from calling me a cantankerous curmudgeon or making judgments about what I have or have not done for Holy Mother Church.

  40. Interesting isn’t it? How will Church historians explain the last forty years? Some priests, religious and some people in the pews have understood this for forty years and we were shouted down and humiliated at every turn. This meeting with the SSPX is going to discuss the Second Vatican Council, not whether Abp Lefebvre and the four bishops were “bad boys”. It is so obvious that that group, which entered DELIBERATELY into formal schism for the good of the Church, are now speaking for a return to sanity in the Church. Ratzinger/Benedict has known for decades the Church was off the rails. (By the way, we don’t hear anything about John Paul the Great or his canonization anymore, do we?)

  41. Scott W. says:

    On the thoughts vs. actions thing. This gets us in to the hard truths: doing something means actually confronting someone. That is, bishops are to diocesan administrators as politicians are to civil-servants with permanent job security. So we vote for politicians who make alot of noise about fixing things, but the gov’t-employee oligarchy remains in place and weathers any political storm and maintains the status quo. So it is with AmChurch. We pray for and sometimes get orthodox bishops who say all the right things and even occasionally throw their weight around appropriately. What they don’t do is fire the lay cabal running the diocese and replace them with people with their heads screwed on right.

  42. mpm says:

    Comment by LawrenceK — 16 October 2009 @ 10:23 pm

    Thanks, Lawrence. Turns out I have a later printing of that edition (the big fat one with all three books that was everywhere when the movies were released — same pagination apparently).

  43. Davidtrad says:

    William, I agree with you, except I’m certain that the SSPX entered into formal schism, and if they did, I’m not sure they did it deliberately (material not formal?).

  44. mpm says:

    Si quisquis audet dicere,

    Interesting isn’t it? How will Church historians explain the last forty years? Some priests, religious and some people in the pews have understood this for forty years and we were shouted down and humiliated at every turn. This meeting with the SSPX is going to discuss the Second Vatican Council, not whether Abp Lefebvre and the four bishops were “bad boys”. It is so obvious that that group, which entered DELIBERATELY into formal schism for the good of the Church, are now speaking for a return to sanity in the Church. Ratzinger/Benedict has known for decades the Church was off the rails. (By the way, we don’t hear anything about John Paul the Great or his canonization anymore, do we?) Comment by William H. Phelan — 17 October 2009 @ 8:30 am

    Hor**sh**t sit.

  45. Patrick J. says:

    David,

    I was not responding to any post in particular, I was just resonating with what Father Z has said here and it has been said before and bares repeating. It was a “if the shoe fits” kind of comment. Sorry if that did not come across. I certainly did not mean to insult anyone in particular, certainly not you. Some people do use complaining as their main “weapon of choice” in the fight to return to a more holy and sane Holy Mother Church. I did not mean to insinuate that was the case for any individual here. Some people do adopt ‘curmudgeonly’ attitudes — again, this is just for those who actually do act in this manner. I did not mean this to, necessarily, pertain to anyone writing on this board. Lots come to read this blog who don’t post. It is really aimed at this wider audience, again, in a sort of “if the shoe fits,” fashion.

    Sorry again for any miscommunication.