Zmirak responds to Hoopes, Fr. Z does Liturgy Science Theatre 3000

There is a bloggy debate going on between Mr. Zmirak and Mr. Hoopes.  Rather, it turned into a debate.

Zmirak started the ball rolling it with a piece in Inside Catholic.  Hoopes responded on the National Catholic Register. 

I posted a fisk of Hoopes’ response.

It is only fair that I now fisk Zmirak’s loooooong retort to Hoopes’ response… with the oft imitated emphases and comments:

You May Kiss the Bridey
by John Zmirak  
3/10/10
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My former editor at the National Catholic Register, Tom Hoopes, has done me a courtesy rarely afforded tradition-minded Catholics: He has stooped to address my arguments, instead of airily dismissing them as the sad obsessions of half-wits, bag ladies, and yellow-eyed anti-Semites with dirty fingernails. Sure, he did so in a blog post which referred to the traditional Mass — the one said by almost every priest who has ever been canonized — as a "freak flag." But as a true-blue Traddy, I will take what I can get. Give me a Mass at 6 a.m. at a chapel in a lunatic asylum . . . a muttered liturgy with a mandatory sign-in sheet at an abandoned Armenian parish . . . and I’ll show up, clutching a missal — despite the alarming (if not surprising) percentage of eccentrics. [That's true, you know.]  Come to think of it, those of us who accept Humanae Vitae are already a vanishingly tiny segment of practicing Catholics, so it seems a bit rich for one sliver of this infinitesimal subculture to throw donut holes across the bingo hall at the other. (Okay, I’ll toss a few: At least we Trads aren’t scarfing down lame Catholic knock-offs of already-pitiful Christian "rock," or training our daughters to be altar servers for the next World Urban Youth Day . . . bless their hearts!)  [Okayyy... Zmirak has the flamethrower charged up.]
 
What makes responding to Hoopes such fun [...and he left himself open, folks, for this...] — I’m almost moved to give up writing this article for Lent — is his resemblance to one of my favorite characters in the works of Evelyn Waugh, Sebastian Flyte’s brother Bridey. Like him, Hoopes is a fervent believer, who has worked hard and sacrificed much in the service of the Church, and he earnestly strives to explain and defend the Faith. Like Bridey’s, his arguments have a curious effect. As Charles Ryder says:
 
D’you know, Bridey. If ever I thought about becoming a Catholic, I’d only have to talk to you for five minutes to be cured. You manage to reduce what seem quite sensible propositions to stark nonsense.
 
To which Bridey responds, with admirable humility:
 
It’s odd you should say that. I’ve heard it before from other people. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t think I’d have made a good priest. It’s something in the way my mind works, I suppose.
 
The "Bridey Effect" is so evident in Hoopes’s response to my piece on the liturgy that I face an embarrassment of riches. And to avoid the rich embarrassment I fear might otherwise result, I will henceforth refer to the article’s author simply as "Bridey." [ROFL!]
 
Bridey begins by objecting to the suggestion that it was an imprudent act for Pope Paul VI to forbid the liturgy in its solemn, invariant, historic form and replace it with one open to dozens of options, subject to a decade of tinkering, at a time of deep theological uncertainty and radical social change. Did this radical, unsettling alteration in the form of the Church’s central mystery prepare the laity to accept the lies of dissenting Catholics who claimed that everything else — from faith to morals — was also up for grabs? Was it indeed like a new president coming into office and changing our country’s flag? [That was the point in Zmirak's original article.]
 
Bridey doesn’t answer, but instead takes refuge in a theological evasion: "The Church doesn’t have or need a flag, because it isn’t a nation. Its members are tied to each other by bonds far deeper than political ones." Very nice, and very high-minded. The Church is indeed, in one sense, the Mystical Body of Christ. And in that sense, a Renaissance cardinal could have whispered to his mistress across the pillow that the Church of his day was not in any sense "corrupt." Indeed, the Bride of Christ is indefectible. So why even talk about it? Why have a newspaper devoted to reporting on the changeless, eternal union of Christ and His Church? My old colleagues at the Register can pack up their laptops and go home.  [NB: A flag is a "sign".  The point is that Bridey decides that because the Church is, ideally and considered from the point of view of Christ, spotless, it doesn't need an outward sign such as a flag, or a Mass that doesn't change, etc.]
 
What if, however, by "Church" we are referring to the changeable, human side of the Church Militant on earth [Which speaks to the point that while the Church is spotless, ideally, we are not.  Humans are, furthermore, not angels.  We need things like signs.] — you know, the aspect of the Church that indeed has human leaders and members, news, controversies, flaws, reforms, and renewals? It is that Church that had an abuse crisis culminating in the 1990s, and a liturgy crisis beginning in the 1970s. If we’re permitted to talk about the former, we must also address the latter. In that sense, the Church has an earthly governance, a legal code, an administrative structure, and more than one billion imperfect adherents. Thanks to the fall of the Chinese empire in 1912, it is the oldest continuous human institution on earth. Such an organization, which commands human loyalties and can lose them, [Indeed.] might indeed need something like a flag[Indeed.] It’s not for nothing that Catholics during the Counter-Reformation marched (heavily armed, to prevent sacrilegious attacks) in Corpus Christi processions through hostile Calvinist towns. The Eucharist itself was those brave Catholics’ banner, and I for one am not ashamed of them. Is Bridey?
 
My original article implied — no, it stated outright, and let me here reaffirm it — that the chaos in Catholic bedrooms began on Catholic altars. [The constant changes people experienced in liturgy led to confusion also about moral issues, especially in the lead up to and in the wake of Humanae vitae.  And vice versa.] The noodling, tinkering, profanation and vulgarization that afflicted the Catholic sanctuaries gave busy, weary, worldly Catholics (i.e., most of us) apparent permission to follow the lead of pastors and theologians who were tinkering and noodling with Catholic sexual morality. Humanae Vitae was treated as a dead letter when it was issued, as was Sacrosanctum Concilium, and then the norms that (once upon a time) forbade Communion in the hand and altar girls. [Well... that parallel isn't quite right.  Liberals rejected Paul VI's Humanae vitae but they enthusiastically instrumentalized Sacrosanctum Concilium to be able to do their own thing with impunity.  Subsequent corrective documents on liturgy however...] Documents trickled in from Rome from time to time on sexual morality and liturgical abuses, and they were duly ignored by the very bishops Rome had appointed. What exactly were ordinary Catholics, the kind who don’t read curial admonitions over breakfast, meant to think? If that’s good governance, I’d hate to witness anarchy[Do I hear an "Amen!"?]
 
Of course, much of this confusion — which has dragged on for a generation — could be resolved by a "reform of the reform," such as many suggest Pope Benedict XVI has in mind. Were the Novus Ordo pared back to something resembling the intentions of the Second Vatican Council — facing the altar, minus all the ambiguous Eucharistic Prayers (that is, all but the First), with congregants kneeling for Communion on the tongue received from a priest — most Traditionalists would shut up. No, we’d sing for joy. Most of us appreciate hearing the readings in the vernacular, and few would travel for miles and hours to find a Mass for the sake of the old Confiteor. [Indeed.]
 
[But let's move along to the next section.] The next point Bridey makes is one intended to make the delicate reader squirm. He compares the reception of Holy Communion to the intimate marital act, and suggests there is something prurient in paying undue attention to the externals attending either sexuality or Mass. Here again, it is hard to know where to begin. I might start by noting that the sexual act is private and properly confined to the participation of two. The Mass is inherently public and communal, even when said by a solitary priest in a prison camp. It is the summit and locus of unity in the Church. To lump these mysteries together and ask that marital dignity and privacy be accorded, say, the public masses said by an archbishop . . . for once in my life, I am almost speechless. [i would add that if Bridey, as Zmirak calls Mr. Hoopes in this piece, thought - really - that people on the traditional side of things might be discomforted by a reference to Mass and sex, then he doesn't know traditionalists.  Trads are not pruds, in the sense many liberals assume them to be.  As a matter of fact, the same sort of traditionalism and conservatism allows "trads" to have the sense of humor lacking in most liberals, as well as a healthier use of the good things of creation.]  I’ll leave my response to one of Bridey’s more acerbic commenters, who rightly replied:
 
[I]f that’s the analogy you REALLY want to use, current celebration of the Liturgy has become less like one of the parties insist[ing] on the same candles and Journey tape all the time, and more like one of the parties . . . insisting on constant novelty, obsessing on what she can do to make it "different" this time; as if it were . . . oh, I don’t know, the French maid’s outfit that made it all "meaningful."
 
Bridey says that the Eucharist, like sexual intercourse, is an "expression of a relationship of which it is a very small (but very important) part." Concerning the Eucharist, this statement is so wide of the mark I’m tempted to say, "It is not even wrong." Does the author really regard sexuality and all the ripples it spreads across the surface of life as a drop in the bucket? Is he saying, with so many randy bachelors over the centuries, "It’s just sex, sweetie"? Surely not. That’s just the "Bridey effect."  [Nor is Holy Mass just a "small" part of the Catholic experience.  I was rather surprised at that.]
 
The sexual act and the commitments (such as children) that follow from it are the only decisive difference between a marriage and a friendship. The first thing we singles wonder when we see two members of the opposite sex together is: Are they "together"? Are these people married, engaged, exclusively dating, or are they just "pals"? In answer to this honorable question, married people wear rings, women change their names, and healthy laws still distinguish marriage from "domestic partnerships." We do all sorts of very public things that declare which person we’re married to, and mark that relationship off from every other.
 
Indeed, in almost every culture, the two sexes engage in a wide variety of activities designed to reinforce and celebrate the distinctions between male and female — almost as if the most primitive men and women knew that the difference between them was profound and meaningful. In Jewish and Christian theology, as theologian Manfred Hauke demonstrated, the male represents transcendence and the female immanence; God is the Father or the Bridegroom, and humanity is the Bride. Desacralizing the liturgy, confusing the roles of priest and laity, is as confusing and misleading as pretending there is no difference between the sexes. But then we’re doing that too, nowadays. [Do I hear and "Amen!"?  That was good, Mr. Zmirak.]
 
An article I penned eight years ago on Paul VI’s collaborator in crafting the Novus Ordo, Archbishop Rembert Weakland [!], explains the implications here:
 
The priest acts in the person of Christ. Christ acts as high priest, and offers himself as victim to God the Father, in expiation for the sins of man. In the person of the priest, Christ weds himself to the congregation, which stands for the Church, Christ’s mystical Bride. Just as the priest’s sacrificial role in the New Testament theology is a direct outgrowth — down to many of the rituals and prayers used — of the High Priest’s Temple ritual in Judaism, so this matrimonial theology grows directly out of the Old Testament understanding of the Jewish people as wedded to Yahweh. (See the Song of Songs and Hosea for lovely, poetic meditations on this theme in the Hebrew Bible.) . . .
 
This marriage between the priest and the congregation, between Christ and the Church, is at the very heart of Catholic theology. It connects to the sacredness of the sexual act, and expresses the very reason why (as we believe) God became a man — in order to unite the mass of fallen, weak humanity to himself, in a mystical sacrament of love. In pagan religions and ancient Judaism, the role of a priest — one who offers sacrifice — was distinctly and utterly masculine. [My digression: This is a good reason why we priests should always use a chalice veil for Holy Mass.  End digression.] This is true in all the traditional liturgies of the Church, East and West, along with the papal mass in Rome, which dramatically depict Christ’s manhood along with his transcendent Godhood, in the imperfect but sanctified masculine person of the priest. A woman playing at priest is just as absurd as Nathan Lane playing a nun. It’s a drag act, proper to Saturday Night, but not to Sunday morning.
 
In a reverent liturgy, we engage in all sorts of symbolic behavior to distinguish the sacred elements from the profane, the unconsecrated bread from the Body of Christ, and the priest from the laity. Liturgies that cloud such distinctions are inherently confusing, as in some sense they were meant to be. [RIGHT] As Michael Davies [and Rembert Weakland in the same piece...] noted long-ago, the Anglican and Lutheran-inspired changes in the Novus Ordo Missae in the original Latin were intended by the committee that crafted them to fudge the differences among the churches — in the hope that an ecumenical liturgy would promote Christian unity. [How did that go?  Now that Pope Benedict is shifting the discussion with his liturgical view (inter alia) the Orthodox are entering a new phase of dialogue with the Catholic Church.] Later, secularizing abuses such as Communion in the hand were promoted precisely in order to cloud the exact Catholic theology about the Mass as a sacrifice performed by a priest in the Person of Christ, in favor of a nebulous, liberal Protestant spirituality of communal commemoration — one that could lead to the ordination of women. [Do I hear a HUGE "AMEN!"?] The Holy Spirit has prevented any changes that invalidated the Mass. That is all we were promised.
 
It is one thing to call for the proper celebration of the Novus Ordo, minus destructive options (ambiguous Eucharistic prayers, handing out Communion like a movie ticket, Mass said facing the people — something Benedict has regretted). Do that, and you settle the question. In that idealized vision of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite — such as I’ve seen good priests celebrate maybe five times in my life — there are no theological or catechetical problems. [Though... ehem... you could look at the way the orations were changed.  But let that pass.] Impose that liturgy throughout the Church, and every objection raised by Traditionalists fades into pedantry — though some of us will really miss those extra Kyries . . . [Not quite every, but nearly all.]
 
It is quite another thing to defend the Ordinary Form as ordinarily celebrated, [Something fewer and fewer reasonable people do, actually.  I think it is pretty well accepted even in some liberal circles that something has to be done.  We might differ a great deal about what, but something isn't working.] in some 99.9 percent of parishes outside Vatican City, then scoff at those who object to its banality, vulgarity, and casual sacrilege as aesthetes or Pharisees. Bridey’s position reminds me of a wedding I heard about among some distant acquaintances. For reasons that remain opaque to me, the groom decided to take his bride’s last name, and have her female friend serve as his "best man." My charitable response was: "Which one of them wore the white dress?"
 
Imagine for a moment that the groom was indeed the one in the puffy gown, the bride in a tuxedo. Picture that whole wedding party done up in drag, with the bridesmaids wearing taped-on Freddie Mercury moustaches, the ushers in high heels and stockings. With his consistent disregard of "externals," I’d expect Bridey to answer that this marriage was sacramentally valid. As indeed it was. [Well... probably.] So is the Ordinary Form as ordinarily celebrated. That’s pretty much all we can say for it[Which is precisely which lies at the core of Pope Benedict's real concern about liturgy: the "so long as it's valid" - from a strain of Neo-Thomist reductionism to the bare basics for validity - spurred a generation and more to make the rest up as they pleased.... "so long as it was valid".]
 
John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of the graphic novel The Grand Inquisitor and is Writer-in-Residence at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. He writes weekly for InsideCatholic.com.

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39 Responses to Zmirak responds to Hoopes, Fr. Z does Liturgy Science Theatre 3000

  1. Cristero says:

    If you are the human in this little experiment, Father Z., I would love to be one of the robots. Prefferably Crow T. (T for Trditional) Robot.

  2. DavidJ says:

    Slam. Dunk.

  3. Michael in NoVA says:

    Ah, Fr. Z,

    I could see a Catholic version of MST3K as LST3K. It would work like this:

    In the not-too-distant future –
    Next Sunday A.D. –
    There was a Priest named Fr. Z,
    Not too different from you or me.
    He worked at NCR’s new institute,
    Just another face in a black cleric suit.
    He tried to do a good job clearing out the place,
    But his bosses didn’t like him
    So they shot him into space.

    - pan to Fr. McBrien and St. Chittister-:
    We’ll send him modern Masses,
    The worst we can find (la-la-la).
    He’ll have to sit and watch them all,
    And we’ll monitor his mind (la-la-la).
    Now keep in mind Fr. Z can’t control
    Where the dancing begins or ends (la-la-la)
    Because he used those special parts
    To make his sacred friends.

    Sacramental Roll Call: (All right, let’s go!)
    PopeCam! (Pan left!)
    Rosary! (Hi, girl!)
    The Thurible! (What a cool guy!)
    Stooooole! (He’s a wisecracker.)

    If you’re wondering how he adores and prays
    and other spiritual facts (la la la),
    Then repeat to yourself, “It’s just a show,
    I should really just relax
    For Liturgy Science Theater 3000!”

    [ROFL!]

    Gold Star for the Day

  4. EnoughRope says:

    Hoopes is down and out for the count!

  5. diezba says:

    Wow: that last picture. The woman with the “bowl of incense” looks like a Vestal Virgin or a priestess of Hera/Juno.

    Seriously.

    Kyrie eléison! Christe eléison! Kyrie eléison!

  6. That was quite an essay-response. I was a bit miffed at the “Hoopes-as-Bridey” analogy (which I think could be interpreted as name-calling), but other than that, what an excellent bit of reading.

    Fr. Z, digression though it may be, could you explain how this:

    “This marriage between the priest and the congregation, between Christ and the Church, is at the very heart of Catholic theology. It connects to the sacredness of the sexual act, and expresses the very reason why (as we believe) God became a man—in order to unite the mass of fallen, weak humanity to himself, in a mystical sacrament of love. In pagan religions and ancient Judaism, the role of a priest—one who offers sacrifice—was distinctly and utterly masculine.”

    is “a good reason why we priests should always use a chalice veil for Holy Mass”?

  7. Jeffrey: Maybe in another post.

  8. Agellius says:

    Woo-hoo!! Good stuff.

  9. Agellius says:

    By the way, Father, you gave a link to Zmirak’s original article but not his retort. It’s here: http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7787&Itemid=48

  10. dcs says:

    I was a bit miffed at the “Hoopes-as-Bridey” analogy (which I think could be interpreted as name-calling)

    Name-calling? Bridey is one of the best characters in Brideshead Revisited. If it wasn’t for his persistence – well, not to spoil anything but suffice it to say that the novel would have had quite a different ending.

  11. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Jeffrey,

    I don’t think it is name calling to compare someone to poor old Bridey at all. Mr. Zmirak was just saying that Mr. Hoopes’ reply to his original article misses the point, in the same way that Bridey always seems to miss the point when matters of the Faith come up in Charles’ presence. From a religious point of view, hapless Bridey and plain Cornelia keep faith with God and family far more than the two attractive siblings.

  12. Maltese says:

    *Were the Novus Ordo pared back to something resembling the intentions of the Second Vatican Council—facing the altar, minus all the ambiguous Eucharistic Prayers (that is, all but the First), with congregants kneeling for Communion on the tongue received from a priest—most Traditionalists would shut up.*

    Great piece, but that’s not close to being true. Traditionalists beef with the novus ordo is not its vernacularity, rather its deficiency of form, a demphasis of the Sacrifice, in favor of the communal, upper-room aspect of mass (which IS still present in the Vetus Ordo, but it’s flipped: 90-10% Sacrifice over communal meal in VO to 10%-90% Sacrifice to meal in NO.) The NO is simply missing the grandeur and significance of the VO. It’s like a happy meal compared to a fine steak restaurant; the first will nourish, but just barely, the other will leave you awe-filled.

    *[Nor is Holy Mass just a "small" part of the Catholic experience. I was rather surprised at that.]*

    True that, Father; in fact it’s the most sublime act we do as Catholics. It’s the pinnacle of a Catholic’s life, and the principal prayer of the Church. It’s the reason generations of Catholic families would toil on a Cathedral, where only a great great great grandson would see it’s completion. These were built as a proper setting for the liturgy; a liturgy which took many more centuries to “build” than any Cathedral. Really, it was great hubris and modernism at its most unsettling that inspired prelates to think they could cast asunder such a sublime prayer as the VO mass (as even non-Catholic Agatha Christie attested to in her letter to Paul VI.)

    *As Michael Davies [and Rembert Weakland in the same piece…] noted long-ago, the Anglican and Lutheran-inspired changes in the Novus Ordo Missae in the original Latin were intended by the committee that crafted them to fudge the differences among the churches—in the hope that an ecumenical liturgy would promote Christian unity.*

    Cardinal Alfons Stickler wrote that the, “French philosopher Jean Guitton [said] that Pope Paul VI revealed to him that it was his [Pope Paul VI’s] intention to assimilate as much as possible of the new Catholic liturgy to Protestant worship.” (The Attractiveness of the Tridentine Mass, Alfons Cardinal Stickler, Latin Mass Magazine, Summer 1995.)

  13. Jordanes says:

    That does it: Zmirak’s stupendous reply has motivated me to finally get off my butt and read Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

  14. J Kusske says:

    The combination of WDTPRS and MST3K is dangerous business. As way of warning, consider: I remember an old show that involved someone dressed as a priest in a chase, and the jokes they were cracking were hillarious, playing off of the demands priests get from parishoners, having to do confession, marriage counselling, and other things I can’t remember. Finally the mock priest fell off a building or something and died, and they ended with “bless me father, for I have MURDERED!” I don’t remember what episode it was from but it is perhaps my favorite moment from the show. The people in Best Brains are clearly from a Catholic background, which does come through now and then in the movies (another reason to love it).

  15. Wow… people know more about that show than I clearly do.

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    Great essay, he managed to use the obscure references to Nathan Lane and Freddie Mercury!

    The first essay was great but the rebuttal was brilliant!

    By the way, Nathan Lane in drag in “The Birdcage” was hysterical!

  17. Maltese says:

    *and I’ll show up, clutching a missal—despite the alarming (if not surprising) percentage of eccentrics. [That’s true, you know.*

    Ahh, but if you plunked, say, St. Pius X down into a mass in, say, Sedona Arizona (where I have, unfortunately, been to Mass,) who would he say is “eccentric?”

  18. Maltese says:

    *the chaos in Catholic bedrooms began on Catholic altars.*

    Great line, and too true. Since upwards of 90% of Catholics at procreative age either contracept or abort readily, with apparent clear consciences, its no wonder they do so since everying became a matter of “the people of God” in the 60′s. EVERYTHING was up to personal conscience! We could displace the Priest, and pass out the eucharist, hand-to-hand, while holding hands, as one big, huge, happy family!!!! Yay!!!!!!!

    I happen to be in the unfortunate position of law enforcement, and I can tell you the runaway “freedom” in the Church, no less the world at large (addicted to porn–turbocharged by the internet–and hubris as they are,) is utterly unprecedented in the history of the world. Oh, yeah, things have always been bad, but even the “whites and the blacks” or Guelphs and Guiballines (pardon my spelling) battling in Dante’s time had a sense of dignity. I deal with guys obsessed with child porn, midget porn; guys wearing diapers looking at porn so they don’t have to take the time to relieve themselves while looking at porn, etc, etc.

    So, I’m of the personal opinion, as unpopular as it is, that, though VII was a valid council, it was a completely unnecessary council (as many have been), and has been the excuse to furl untold suffering on the Church: The precise moment VII was convened, was the exact moment the Church needed to dig in her heels, and hold chastely and firm to tradition (as unpolitically correct as it was at that euphoric time); instead, she sided with the World, a world terribly full of error.

  19. everett says:

    Posts like these are one of the reasons its wonderful to be Catholic. We’ve got MST3K, Waugh, and Nathan Lane among others. And people say Catholics don’t have any fun. They just don’t know what fun is.

  20. Maltese says:

    *she sided with the World*

    I try to watch my words, but fumbled that one. By “she” I don’t mean Christ’s indeffectible Church, but prelates within, at the time, responsible for Her administration (trust me, if the Pope called me in, I would come in on my knees. Dante, a vehement critic of Bonifice VIII, even so said that men who assailed and struck that corrupt Pope were striking Christ himself….)

    But there have been Popes who have exhumed predecessors, and put their cadavers on trial!

  21. Dr. Eric says:

    Nathan Lane was raised Catholic.

  22. jorgepreble says:

    brilliant! what does hoopes have to say now?

  23. JonM says:

    Vincenzo, excellent silhouette but Father needs his biretta!

    This is a concentrated piece of writing as it is insightful. Once we take a look a the forest and stop clinging to a few sapling sprouts, quite obviously the liturgy is mightily important.

    I love the line about those of us who do not read curial admonitions in the morning. Sometimes I think (neo) conservatives will defend the Novus Ordo so jealously because they do study theology and avail themselves all sorts of devotions. The fact is, the vast majority of the world cannot be expected to build up personal libraries: If you can even read, farming in an unstable country typically requires a lot of time. And that is the life of most people in the world.

    But sometimes new apologists with a particular affection for the new rite pepper in really odd analogies. Father Z rightly commented that ‘Trads’ are not pruds as pop culture would have us (the larger families amongst traditionalists is a rather telling article of this.) Indeed, Trads try to concern themselves with other subjects in normal public discourse contrary to some apologists as I am referring to.

    I mean, I need Dr. Rowan Williams here: How theologically eccentric to compare an aspect of marriage to the Eucharist! And this is not an isolated case as I have read a lot of apologist materials. Subjects like commerce and profit or occupational relations seem only well-illustrated by comparing them to sex between a man and woman in marriage.

    The intentions are good, which only further complicates the puzzle. I suppose I can compare it to is faint memories of professors laboriously pointing out the maturity of the class assembled and its ‘facilitator’ by mandating no swear word (or sacrilege) is unwelcome. Just like the guy who tells me three times in 90 seconds how honest he is, those who have to conspicuously state their maturity…

    Maltese, I just can’t understand why pornography has not become a political issue. The Congress could stop 95% of it tomorrow and in perfectly conforming to the Constitution (interstate prostitution is a federal felony, pornography has to cross state lines through the wires.) The anecdotes you offer are pretty horrific, but not shocking.

    My unscientific first hand experiences indicate that probably 90% of high school and college age young men are frequent users of pornography. And I agree, we got here in part because a great many bishops embraced the world, stopped teaching, and allowed people to ‘form their own conscience.’ I mean, bishops and priests actually instructing the faithful on what public policies are bad, which movies are forbidden, and that ‘business ethics’ have no distinction from our Catholic faith… why that would just be un-democratic!

  24. Craig says:

    I think that was the biggest and baddest smackdown I can ever remember reading. Pummeled doesn’t even come close folks…call off the dogs…it’s a MASSACRE.

    Witty, scathing, and profound. At least to this pathetic servant.

  25. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Ooh! One in the eye for the Age of Hoope(r)!

    Brilliantly argued with just the right amount of snark.

    But to tell you the truth, I WAS turned off by Hoopes’ eucharist-as-sexual-intercourse analogy. Like so many other things so obviously said to shock mommy, it was dull and made it a chore to finish reading his article.

  26. Scott W. says:

    Ok, guys, I’m totally in Zimrak’s corner, but I’ve seen pictures of that bad liturgy with the purple-screen background dozens of times. I’d like to think that it is because there are few bad examples to draw from, but from the Spirit of Vatican II crowed prospective it just looks like we are over-playing our hand. Get some new pics of liturgy abuse instead of recycling the same ole.

  27. robtbrown says:

    So, I’m of the personal opinion, as unpopular as it is, that, though VII was a valid council, it was a completely unnecessary council (as many have been), and has been the excuse to furl untold suffering on the Church: The precise moment VII was convened, was the exact moment the Church needed to dig in her heels, and hold chastely and firm to tradition (as unpolitically correct as it was at that euphoric time); instead, she sided with the World, a world terribly full of error.
    Comment by Maltese

    There definitely was a need for Vat II, if for no other reasons than to deal with the problems that later surfaced after the Council. Life in the Church had been held together by the extraordinary figure of Pius XII and by legalism that was often heavy handed. It was as if people had forgotten that stop signs exist to prevent accidents–they knew only that it is necessary to observe stop signs to avoid a ticket.

    Unfortunately, the Council, including the pope, did little to deal with any of those problems other than to offer the progressives a seat at the table. John XXIII thought the growling lion (leo rugiens circuit quaerens quem devoret) was a kitty and opened the cage. Then Paul VI, for some strange reason tried to lock the door shut after the lion exited.

  28. Henry Edwards says:

    Traditionalists beef with the novus ordo is not its vernacularity, rather its deficiency of form, a demphasis of the Sacrifice, in favor of the communal, upper-room aspect of mass (which IS still present in the Vetus Ordo, but it’s flipped: 90-10% Sacrifice over communal meal in VO to 10%-90% Sacrifice to meal in NO.) The NO is simply missing the grandeur and significance of the VO. It’s like a happy meal compared to a fine steak restaurant; the first will nourish, but just barely, the other will leave you awe-filled.

    This sort of Mass-bashing is tiresome, and if taken seriously would be counter-productive to those of us who actually (and with occasional success) devote our “time, talent, and treasure” to supporting the TLM.

    No OF Mass I regularly attend has a “happy meal” connotation . This morning I attended (for the fifth time this week) one that not only was but had the “look and feel” of a true Mass of the Roman rite. It was clearly a propitiatory sacrifice with no defect of form, the priest exhibiting the same demeanor and precision in ars celebranda as when he celebrates a low TLM. Though was not about me or how I or anyone else there felt, I did sense virtually the same awe and transcendence at this simple OF Mass as at the glorious EF missa cantata I attended last Sunday.

    The point is simply the distinction — itself somewhat tiresome but evidently still necessary — between the ordinary Mass as it should be celebrated and how it often is. The fault lies not in our Mass but in ourselves (and in those priests who demean it). It does no good to criticize Holy Mass rather than those who are unworthy of it.

  29. Scott W. says:

    PS. Oh yeah, I think Bridey gets a bad rap. I’m watching the 1982 tv series right now (DON’T watch the latest movie version) and it is Bridey that provides the “twitch upon the thread” that starts Julia back to the faith.

  30. Bornacatholic says:

    Dr. Z. is an absolute Catholic treasure and, for my money, the best writer around.

    Check-out his “Bad Catholics Guide..” series, his graphic novel, etc at Amazon.

    He is incredibly bright, very well schooled, and hysterically funny.

    His books are Treasure Chests of Catholic information. They are packed Sardine-Tin-Tight with traditional truths and orthodox ideas and all of his work is suffused with a sui generis flair.

    He is a warrior who delights in the battle.

    He is a Catholic treasure

  31. Mariana says:

    “I don’t think it is name calling to compare someone to poor old Bridey at all.”

    Exactly. Nothing wrong with Bridey!

  32. Gail F says:

    Scott W: That photo may be old, but my parish does the “woman with the incense bowl” at every feast. Although, at least, the women wear ugly white polyester albs over their regular clothes, and not skin-tight modern dance outfits. They walk around the altar slowly with a special way of moving the bowl back and forth, so the incense wafts everywhere. They really do look like pagan priestesses.

  33. Jerry says:

    “I don’t think it is name calling to compare someone to poor old Bridey at all.”

    Making the comparison is not name calling. Subsequently referring to him repeatedly as “Bridey” is. Further, it is clear from the setup that this is intended to be derogatory.

    “[Zmirak] is a Catholic treasure.”

    Christ made it quite clear His followers are called to exercise charity, even — and especially — when dealing with their foes. Zmirak may well be intelligent, knowledgeable, and a very capable writer. All of which make the distinct lack of charity in his response all the more unsettling. He could have very easily made his points, and made them much better, without resorting to the demeaning and inflammatory rhetoric.

    Even though I agree with Zmirak’s position, the manner in which he chose to defend it in his response left a very bad taste in my mouth. His supporters may be entertained, but how many of those sitting on the fence, much less those on the other side, dd he convince? And how many didn’t even bother to consider his message because they couldn’t or wouldn’t get past his attitude?

  34. JonM says:

    I don’t think the piece is mean spirited or uncharitable.

    This manner of composition is typical of English writers. It’s a style I loved to emulate in school and was of course pilloried for being ‘undemocratic.’

    St. John Ch. is attacked for his strongly worded sermons against defunct rituals. Liberals grill him as ‘anti-semetic’ while fair minded scholars always point of that he used a common literary technique.

    Let’s not confuse charity with puppet-Mass charity.

  35. mwa says:

    Scott W–it may seem like that picture has been seen too often before, but only because the LA Religious Education Conference trots out the same old abuses year after year….though the sharp-eyed could determine the year from the slogans projected on the screen, or the tight yet dowdy outfits the incense-dancers are wearing. (Although last year the incense-dancers were guys with woks! But they didn’t leave out the chicks–in shades of purple this time) http://www.recongress.org/

  36. Luce says:

    “a good reason why we priests should always use a chalice veil for Holy Mass”?

    Looking forward to your post explaining this comment. I’m in need of enlightenment.

  37. q7swallows says:

    Father,

    I second Jeffrey’s question on why priests should always use the chalice veil. Please educate us!

  38. Mary Kay says:

    Fr. Z, this is old news by now, but I wasn’t able to respond earlier.

    The (second) title of my response to Zmirak’s original article suggests that he should re-read John 17 where Jesus speaks of unity. My concern is that of schism – not between dissidents and orthodox, which seems very likely – but between orthodox Catholics and orthodox Catholics.

    Since then, I was surprised by someone’s comment that he was glad for the discussion. This is I think what your aim has been, a discussion about the different forms of Mass. However, it would be nice to have a discussion without taking potshots at fellow Catholics. That was essentially the basis for my initial title about divisiveness.

    I don’t know if you’d want to dissect my response http://tinyurl.com/yd2u894
    but feel free to do so if you want to. In fact, it would be interesting to get a response actually based on content instead of the responses I did get from this and the following post, ranging from ad hominems, mostly that my reaction was “emotional” – but without giving any specific examples themselves; or that I didn’t address what Zmirak said – but without rebuttal of where I used Zmirak’s own words and phrases; and even a rather patronizing message suggesting that I no longer write on this topic – but again, without rebutting any of my points. Applying the same logic you did to Hoopes, perhaps something has unsettled their foundation(s)?

    The only thing that off the top of my head I’d change would be the examples given in the externals section. It occurred to me occurred to me that the examples I gave were not externals of the Mass. I have a fairly broad experience of the Mass: I (vaguely) remember Latin on one side and English on the other when young in what is now know as the Extraordinary Form; currently attend the Ordinary form (my preference); and spent the better part of a year where Sunday liturgy alternated so that every other week was in the Melkite rite (lots of externals). While there are many outward differences, intrinsically I see no difference. I’m appalled that Catholics a) look down on fellow Catholics as “merely” orthodox and b) are at odds with each other over this when there’s so much that legitimately needs to be fought.

    What else in addition to my initial response? Twice you (Fr Z) said perhaps Hoopes “misread” Zmirak’s Go back to Hell. John sends “back to Hell” probably every Mass you’ve ever been to. [Well. That is his position. But I think he explained himself along the way. I would disagree. Perhaps it’s not Hoopes who misread – I read it the same way he did – but that Zmirak was unnecessarily inflammatory.

    Nor did Zmirak explain himself. Indeed, no explanation is sufficient for saying on whatever level that the Mass that has sustained so many (and despite the sneering at the Novus Ordo, it has indeed spiritually sustained many) should “go back to Hell.” The statement is arrogant, insulting, and unacceptable. There’s enough fighting to do “out there” – there’s no need for “friendly fire.”