Wherein Fr. Z rants

Over and over, wrong and wrong again; with the Church not speaking to the world from her wisdom, but the world teaching the Church a lesson in its foolishness, and the Church going along, like the puny kid in the schoolyard who sucks up to the bully and learns to cheer when the bully beats up the kid’s own brothers.

Thus endeth Anthony Esolen, in another pure-gold essay at Crisis.

We are, right now, in serious trouble,  Having cut ourselves free from our moorings, having slipped out into the worldly stream without a propeller, the world seems to be sweeping the Church, as she is manifest in many places, toward the rocky waterfall.  I am reminded of a scene in African Queen.  They have to get the propeller straightened out and working or else the current will simply take them careening out of control.  They have to go faster than the current in order to steer.  So, the thing that is the most aft in the boat, connected to their past, is the only thing that allows them to navigate into their safe future.

Another sample from Esolen’s piece:

But the surest way to get everything wrong in the realm of nature is to ignore the wisdom of one’s forebears. Here the words of Edmund Burke ought to be seared into every Christian’s mind. Says he, referring to the good solid Englishmen of his day: ?”We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that this stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.”

To apply Burke’s words to our time: there is nothing new about mankind, about men and women, about children, about liberty, principles of government, the good of the family, work, public servants, public varmints, education, piety, honor, purity, and all the other virtues, that has not been a part of the immemorial heritage of the human race. We are not wiser than our grandparents. Feminists have toiled in the traces for a century and not brought to our attention a single genuinely great writer or artist or thinker who had been neglected because of her sex; though they have slandered a few and warped our understanding of others. Educationists have come up with one New and Improved Method after another, and not one has enjoyed any success, and some have been disastrous; liturgists have penned New and Improved Music, and never a masterpiece, nay, not even a decent off-Broadway ditty among them. Cut yourself off from the wellspring: run dry and wither.

This is essentially right.  Libs, mired in their immanentism, want us to think that human beings can evolve out any need to kneel, to submit to outside authority (other than when we are to submit to them, that is).   We evolve out of old, stodgy mores and taboos.  And, to celebrate ourselves in our self-defining autonomy, we need ever shifting ways to express ourselves, including “liturgy”.

That’s rot, of course.

For the umpteenth time, I’ll get on my hobby horse.

I have argued that Summorum Pontificum, the centerpiece of Benedict XVI’s “Marshall Plan” (my image) for the Church, is one of our greatest tools for a true revitalization of the Church and Catholic identity.

After World War II these United States rebuilt war-ravaged Europe for humanitarian reasons, but also to help create trading partners and a prosperous bulwark against Communism.

After Vatican II, many spheres of the Church were devastated, ravaged by internal dissent, a loss of continuity with our tradition, and from erosion by the secularism and relativism of the prevailing modern world.

We need a Marshall Plan for the Church in the modern world.  Certainly what we have been doing up to this point isn’t producing fantastic results across the board.  That’s because we don’t seem to know who we are anymore.

Joseph Card. Ratzinger had been concerned for years about the loss of Christian identity, which is at the heart of Western Civilization. Later, as Benedict XVI, he gave us a great tool by which we could reinvigorate our Catholic identity and, so, resist the negative influences of secularism and relativism.  I think that Benedict intended Summorum Pontificum to play a key part in a long-term strategy to rebuilt our Catholic identity, to correct our way of reading … well… just about everything over the last half century or so, and to establish a strong defense against the dictatorship of relativism.

Only with a solid identity can we, as Catholics, have something positive and healthy to offer to the world at large, a clear voice offering important contributions in the public square.  Look, for example, at the clarity and courage of the Little Sisters of the Poor against the evil machinations of the Obama Administration.  They have a clear identity and they are steadfast.  As a result they provide an inspiring example and they keep certain values before the public eye.

Our identity as Catholics is inextricably bound together with the way we pray as a Church.

To give shape and strength to our Catholic identity in these difficult times, we need an authentic liturgical renewal, a renewal that reintegrates us with our tradition, brings us into continuity with the deep roots of our Catholic Christian experience of two millennia.

Contrary to the notions of most progressivists, “the Catholic thing” did not begin in the 1960s.

There can be no authentic change for a better future without continuity with our past. Liturgy is the tip of the spear.  Benedict XVI pointed us toward a healthier vision of the Church’s doctrine, history, public worship and our very identity as Catholics.

Just as a return to, for example, reading the Fathers of the Church can help us, collectively, correct the way we have been reading Scripture, so much and too long under the domination of an over-played historical-critical method, so too the Extraordinary Form can help us learn how to worship God as a Church which is not fragmented into tiny shards, and to reorient ourselves away from ourselves.

No positive initiative that we undertake in the Church will succeed unless it is rooted in and oriented by a revitalized sacred liturgical worship of God.  Everything comes from worship and everything goes back to worship in a dynamic, ongoing commercium.

Start your local movement for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum NOW.  I don’t think we have a lot of time to waste.

¡Hagan lío!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mike says:

    My family and I go to a NO only parish for daily Mass and usually one or two Sundays a month. For the other Sundays, we go to a High Mass EF at a nearby parish.

    We are registered in the first, but contribute at the collection for both.

    The difference is astounding. The nobility of the worship at the EF is simply awe inspiring.

    Tip of the spear, is right!

  2. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Meanwhile, at the parish in my town in the western suburbs of Boston, the Adult Faith Formation programs for this spring focus on White Privilege, and Climate Change. (The White Privilege workshop features a Black Lives Matter activist teaching a role-playing workshop underwritten by parish funds.)

  3. iPadre says:

    I always say how we are sent out to evangelize the world, but the world has evangelized the Church. Many of our people have converted – to the world.

  4. Chaswjd says:

    I agree with much of what you say. I certainly believe that in the last 50 plus years the church has deracinated itself, to its peril.

    That said, however, the church, as the Body of Christ, faces the paradox inherent in the Incarnation — an eternal, transcendent God becomes present in human form at a particular time and in a particular place and culture. Too much focus on the time, place, and culture and the church becomes a mere club or human services organization. To much focus on the the transcendent, and the church risks becoming an incomprehensible museum piece.

  5. kekeak2008 says:

    I just Esolen’s article. It’s excellent! You’re right, Fr. Z; it begins with the liturgy and our sacred worship. It is the great cornerstone of expression for our Catholic faith. When reading your post and the Crisis article, I also thought of our Catholic education system. In many places it has failed the students, parents, and dioceses at large. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dorothy Sayers rustles in her grave at the state of our public discourse and current election cycle. Her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” seems more apt now, more than ever. Catholic liberal education, if done properly and especially when focused on the Great Works/Books of western civilization, should and usually does lead people to a better appreciation and understanding of our Catholic history, Tradition, and doctrine. I’ve heard nothing but great things from graduates of Thomas Aquinas College and Wyoming Catholic College. It forms the mind to think clearly and critically (when necessary) and helps students form and respectfully articulate themselves. But this doesn’t have to start at the collegiate level. It should start in elementary school. My plan and hope is to provide my children with a truly Catholic classical education, so no matter if they go on to college or get a “blue collar” job, they’ll have the intellectual and moral skills to wrestle with so much of the gunk that is around us. I believe a combined effort of implementing Summorum Pontificum and restoring faithful Catholic liberal education to our country would help stop much of the waywardness we see in our world today. Ultimately it’s up to our Lord’s providence and grace, but those two things help out a lot!

  6. Augustine says:

    Methinks that as long as the Tridentine Mass is celebrated in Latin, it’ll continue to fail to attract a critical mass of the faithful. Those who prefer it in Latin should continue to be able to worship in this language, even if the majority of those espousing this preference confess to know bupkiss about what’s being said and do not follow the translation. But the vast majority of the faithful, especially in monolingual America, prefer to be able to understand the words heard and spoken by them. As far as preferences go, neither party should be faulted, but if Latin is what stands in the way of a wider reach of the Tridentine Mass, the only surviving Roman liturgy which bears a multitude of traits tying it to other ancient liturgies, it should be demoted from its unnecessary preeminence.

  7. HyacinthClare says:

    Massachusetts Catholic, that is SO AWFUL. We were in New England last fall and ran into the same thing in two different churches… unlimited Moslem immigration good, any questions about it bigotry and racism. Is there anywhere else you can go?

  8. Nan says:

    Massachusetts Catholic, perhaps you could suggest a study of St Peter Claver, St Jeanne Jugan, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and St Francis of Assisi. They could learn the Canticle of Creation. All that without the entitlement of black lives matter.

  9. robtbrown says:

    A good article but Esolen is wrong about Babe Ruth–he did not uppercut the ball.

  10. chantgirl says:

    Chaswjd – “To much focus on the transcendent, and the church risks becoming an incomprehensible museum piece.”

    Tell that to the millions of illiterate peasants for whom, over the centuries, the beauty of the Latin Mass transcended their illiteracy and taught them deep truths about God. Tell that to the millions of Catholics who have lived in poverty and drudgery, but who found solace in the beauty of the Latin Mass, which lifted them out of their misery and gave them hope of complete happiness with God in Heaven. To give men hope and courage to live as Christ’s disciples in a hostile world, our liturgy must transcend our daily grind. Finally, to worship the Almighty in a fitting way, as the saints do in Heaven, our worship must transcend the mundane, must give God the first fruits, our very best, so to speak.

  11. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    What an excellent piece!

    One of the problems we face in the Church is the reduction of the ministerial priesthood to glorified social work. I don’t intend to disparage good social workers; we certainly need them. But the priest is not a social worker, for crying out loud. I recall the words of the bishop during the ordination rite, when he anoints the priest’s hands with Chrism…”…that you may SANCTIFY THE CHRISTIAN PEOPLE AND OFFER SACRIFICE TO GOD.” (emphasis mine)

  12. SaintJude6 says:

    I’m always surprised when someone says the Latin for Mass is just “too hard” for Americans. Americans don’t seem to have a problem with their children picking up Spanish from preschool age. It honestly doesn’t take that much to start learning those parts of the Mass which are repeated. Churches generally have Latin/English Missals or printouts of the propers to go with a shorter guide. My husband never studied Latin, but has no problem following along in his Missal. All of our children study Latin at home, and there are so many resources available. We make time and an effort for those things that are important to us. Especially in the Catholic schools, if enough parents requested Latin, the schools would return to teaching it.

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    To those who think the white privilege stuff is awful, well I can only agree it is an obnoxious way to approach the subject but the Catholic Church has historically [?] done a mostly awful job of evangelizing blacks, even though we are the universal Church. [I wonder if Card. Sarah would agree.] Black eternal lives matter! Heaven is not a privilege specially for white people! You will say this is obvious, but I don’t think it’s out of place to have a sincere concern for black experience and perceptions.

    If black people come to Mass at parishes that are largely full of white faces, I think we should be intentional about welcoming and including them because it is easy for them to feel like they don’t fit. Not just black people but anyone who we notice might be struggling to feel at home in our parish. I sat by a black man at the parish brunch recently whom I had spoken with before but didn’t know well, and he confided that sometimes he has doubts in his faith and sometimes misses Mass, feels like he needs to know much more about his Catholic faith, and about his life including feeling like things are against him in his career field because of being black. I begged him to come to my book study group that I lead at the parish. He was appreciative of being asked and planned to come to it.

  14. TomG says:

    robtbrown: I believe Teddy Ballgame (Ted Williams) did, though. With his eyesight and hand-eye coordination, it was probably a piece of cake.

  15. TomG says:

    robtbrown: My dad (1921-2011) said Williams “skyed” the ball like no one he had ever seen.

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “I have argued that Summorum Pontificum, the centerpiece of Benedict XVI’s “Marshall Plan” (my image) for the Church, is one of our greatest tools for a true revitalization of the Church and Catholic identity.”

    Excellent image. And excellent article by Mr. Esolen. These days, as we all observe, the enemies of the Church, and they are Legion, are on the move.

    When the Marshall Plan showed signs of effectiveness in 1948 the godless Communists blockaded Berlin, and things began to look grim. Then: resolves were steeled, WWII veterans were called back to service, and thus began the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. As we shall see, fortitude, doctrine, and faith were essential to victory.

    Briefly by way of background: in 1947 Britain and the US discussed unifying their occupation zones in western Germany, establishing a single currency, and eventually a West German government. A prosperous West Germany, with freedom of speech and religion, would gravely undermine the Worker’s Paradise the Soviets intended for East Germany. Stalin was not pleased.

    In January 1948 Soviet troops began sporadically halting and searching US and British trains from western Germany bound for West Berlin. To undermine Western authority and demoralize the populace of West Berlin the Soviets spread propaganda that the Western powers would abandon West Berlin.

    On March 31, 1948 the Soviets decreed that all trains to Berlin would be stopped and searched. Gen. Lucius Clay, who replaced Gen. Eisenhower in 1947, and without consulting Washington or London, cancelled all trains to West Berlin and began airlifting supplies to the military garrison in West Berlin. A week later a Soviet fighter plane collided with a British transport plane killing all onboard. Gen. Clay informed the Soviets that his transport planes would now have fighter escort.

    On June 10 the Soviets temporarily allowed traffic to West Berlin to resume. That same day Gen. Clay spoke with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Bradley saying: “Why are we in Europe? We have lost Czechoslovakia. We have lost Finland. Norway is threatened…If we mean that we are to hold Europe against Communism we must not budge…I believe the future of democracy requires us to stay here…” Gen. Clay drafted a ground operations plan to permanently maintain access to West Berlin, Gen. Bradley rejected it in favor of air operations.

    Then, later in June, a new currency was announced by the West for their zones. The Soviets replied that they alone controlled currency for all Berlin. The West reminded the Soviets that they had no jurisdiction in West Berlin. Stalin, angered, halted all road and rail traffic to West Berlin. Gen. Clay immediately ordered the Western Air Forces in Europe to supply West Berlin- all civilians and military personnel.

    Military planners estimated West Berlin’s population at two million required 1500 tons a day. Their were only 102 C-47s, each carrying 3 tons, available in Europe due to the rapid demobilization of 1946. Another problem: the main power plant for Berlin was in the Soviet zone so fuel oil and coal would also have to be flown in.

    The task was daunting, and negotiations with the hostile Soviets proved pointless, but in July the Western Powers declared that they would remain in West Berlin. Aircraft from around the world- US, British, and French- arrived in western Germany.

    The West soon found that 1500 tons a day could be an impossible task. In August poor weather caused numerous accidents and deaths. Gen. Tunner, a veteran of the WWII Himalayan airborne supply line was put in charge. After flying to Berlin himself, and observing a patchwork of practices both good and silly, he issued a directive. There would be only two air corridors from western Germany to Berlin- if a plane strayed from the corridor, or missed it’s approach to a runway in West Berlin, it must immediately enter the exit corridor, return to western Germany and try again. More ground controllers were added to assist planes in maintaining precise heading and altitude. West Berlin civilians did most of the unloading while the aircrews remained in their plane to exit the crowded West Berlin runways as soon as possible.

    During the winter of 1948-49 more problems arose. The Soviets began using searchlights at night to blind Western pilots, they released balloons into the air corridors, jammed radios, and sometimes opened fire at the edge of the air corridors. The Western pilots, to sum it up, were undaunted.

    More problems: deliveries of salt began corroding the hulls of the aircraft. Military planners scratched their heads, and then ordered flying boats stationed in the Pacific transferred to Europe. These aircraft are built for saltwater use and they took over flying the salt loads, landing on a lake in West Berlin. When the lake froze over later that winter the ground crews already had designed and installed external salt containers for the other aircraft.

    As the winter grew colder a desperate shortage of power arose in West Berlin. Military planners decided that there was nothing else to do, so they brought civilian welders and electricians over from the US, cut apart an entire power plant, stuffed it into C-47s and C-54s, and reassembled it in West Berlin. Inspired, they next cut apart a lot of heavy construction equipment, flew that into West Berlin and reassembled it piece-by-piece. The West then built themselves another runway in West Berlin under the hateful stares of the Soviets.

    As spring of 1949 began, there were rumblings amongst the Soviets that the West was effectively managing the airlift and adequately supplying the city. Gen. Tunner decided “Forward!” was the order of the day. On Easter Sunday April 17, 1949, Operation Easter Parade delivered 13,000 tons in 24 hours to West Berlin. On May 5 Stalin ended the blockade. The West continued flying until Sep. 30, stockpiling even more supplies. During the airlift 78 airmen were killed and 24 aircraft destroyed.

    We are not, of course, the Church Military, but we are the Church Militant. We are today contending with diabolical powers and principalities while on the path to the New Jerusalem.

    [That was great. And it is an analogy what we are facing. And, speaking of spotlights and balloons and fire from the ground, read Fishwrap’s dreck over the last couple days, and Commonweal recently, not to mention certain comments of a prominent cleric who received an award.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  17. Mike says:

    the Catholic Church has historically [?] done a mostly awful job of evangelizing blacks

    Amend that to American Catholic Church and I can see the point, though I’d modify it to ‘hit-and-miss’.

  18. acardnal says:

    Elizabeth D. wrote, “. . . but the Catholic Church has historically [?] done a mostly awful job of evangelizing blacks, even though we are the universal Church.”

    ? Really!? Too bad Archbishop Lefebvre has died because I think he might disagree with you. . . and Cdl. Sarah as Fr. Z mentioned, and Cdl. Arinze, and Cdl. Napier

  19. Southern Baron says:

    I’ve spent the past year teaching Western Civ at a community college to mostly non-white students. I admit I’m surprised they still call it “Western Civ” and my own doctoral studies have accustomed me to just calling it “European History.” Most of my students were among those who would see themselves, maybe rightly, maybe wrongly, as somehow victimized by “The West.” But there we were and I had to teach them something about people who didn’t live with smartphones.

    Rather than fall into the new tradition of “Europeans are terrible,” my running theme was that whoever we’re studying in history, we can see people sometimes worse than us, sometimes better, but ultimately not that different. One day it’s a king exploiting the people; one day it’s leaders in the church (it happened sometimes–we can’t deny it); one day it’s your next door neighbor; one day it’s your spouse. People do bad stuff. I had to be cautious in my use of the word “sin,” keeping it in historical context, but our final exams suggest some people got to thinking about it, and that’s a start.

  20. kekeak2008 says:

    Elizabeth D wrote, “well I can only agree it is an obnoxious way to approach the subject but the Catholic Church has historically done a mostly awful job of evangelizing blacks, even though we are the universal Church.”

    First, I like your comments, Elizabeth D; I’m usually in agreement with you. But I must disagree with the first part of your comment.

    I’m a Roman Catholic male who happens to be Black, and I don’t necessarily agree with your statement. What are you basing that statement on? My parents were born and raised in Africa, and my mom is one of the most pious women I know. I was born and raised in the US. I agree with Mike that a huge qualifier of “US” should be used. Even so, I don’t think the average American Catholic’s evangelization towards blacks is any worse than that towards any other race or ethnicity. I’m sure it would be harder in, say, the deep South to evangelize blacks. But the same could be said of trying to evangelize a person (of any race) in Utah. I don’t think creating or condoning race-specific workshops is needed. Simply treat people warmly, as a fellow son/daughter of God and the rest will follow. That is my humble opinion.

    The BLM movement is dangerous and emotive. No parish should associate with them. Race baiting is apparent in their rhetoric and behavior.

    On a related note, there is a serious problem of an odd form of tribal or ethnic-based Catholicism in this country. The insistence on separate masses for different languages (e.g. Spanish mass, Vietnamese mass, Korean mass, etc) breeds division and tribalism, as these linguistic differences usually fall on ethnic or racial divides as well. How a person identifies is important. Some would say, “I’m black/Vietnamese/Hispanic who happens to be Catholic” when it should really be the other way around. “Catholic” should be one’s first identity. I’ve been to two Roman Catholic churches that have been predominately black (more than 75% of the parishioners). Both churches had a HEAVY Protestant current running through them, particularly of the Southern Baptist variety. Some examples: 1) the responsorial psalms (along with the songs used for communion and preparing the gifts) were frequently gospel hymns, or at the very least had a heavy southern Gospel theme 2) one of the churches had no kneelers; all the parishioners stood or sat during the consecration. I never got a good answer as to why. 3) additional prayers were added to mass (only at one of these churches), 4) no church organ was used.

    Some of these items are not necessarily unique, and may indicate the widespread creeping in of Protestantism in our worship, but I definitely felt like I was at a Protestant service more so than a Roman Catholic mass.

    Should we be more sensitive towards people from different backgrounds? Of course. I think any alleged failing of evangelization towards blacks or any other group can fundamentally be attributed to people not being comfortable talking to other unfamiliar people, regardless of race.

  21. Thomas Sweeney says:

    The Catholic Church is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world. The Divine Word priests were dedicated to serving blacks, here in America, and abroad. Archbishop LeFebvre, the founder of the Society of St.Pious X, was head of the Holy Ghost fathers in Africa. Their primary mission was the evangelization of Africans. And on and on.
    To say that the Church has ignored blacks and Africans is completely wrong. It is also wrong, in my opinion, for a Catholic group, to subscribe to the idiocy, of there being such a thing as white privilege. Or, to give a group legitimacy, that is running around yelling that Black Lives Matter, to the exclusion of All Lives Matter. borders on the moronic.

  22. Benedict Joseph says:

    Professor Esolen’s essay is flawless and worthy of more than a glancing read by every member of the American hierarchy and their clergy.
    Wake up call!

  23. Chaswjd says: That said, however, the church, as the Body of Christ, faces the paradox inherent in the Incarnation — an eternal, transcendent God becomes present in human form at a particular time and in a particular place and culture. Too much focus on the time, place, and culture and the church becomes a mere club or human services organization. To much focus on the the transcendent, and the church risks becoming an incomprehensible museum piece.

    Actually, no. In the first place, God did not merely take on the appearance of humanity, like a disguise; rather, Christ was perfect God and perfect man: one, not by confusion of substances nor by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God, as the Athanasian Creed says. In the second place, the real problem is thinking that Christianity is an abstraction — which is as much as to say that it can be different things to different people, which is as much as to say it is not real. Fr. Hunwicke laid it out today, in what I think is going to be my favorite of all his posts (excerpted here without his emphases):

    I have known suggestions that to use bread made from something other than wheat, alcohol produced not from grapes, and the oil of vegetables other than olives, would ‘affirm’ cultures which do not find their origins in the Mediterranean basin. This seems to be based on the notion that Christianity is an idea; and ideas can, in different cultures, be garbed in different clothes. That is what is the basic heresy. Because Christianity is not an idea. It is a person, a God who took flesh – a particular flesh – from a particular Girl in a particular country in a particular culture, and in that flesh died on a Cross made from a particular Tree after he had, on a particular evening, given himself to his friends under the outer appearances of a loaf and a cupful of wine. This particularity and this materiality, this rootedness, is Christianity. That is why the Gnostics were not Christians, and why Matthew Fox is not a Christian. And the Matter of the Sacraments is rooted in the particularity of that Incarnation and its culture.


  24. MWindsor says:

    I’m finding it very hard to be hopeful. Summorum Pontificum didn’t change anything around me. The local bishop only allows it in one parish. Over 1 million Catholics in this diocese and there are only 4 Masses each Sunday. If Summorum Pontificum is supposed to be the Marshall Plan for the Church, it’s not off to a great start around here.

    [Are you involved to help change this situation?]

  25. Nan says:

    Elizabeth D, Africa is a high growth area in the Church. My Archdiocesan seminary has several African students at any given time, sent here for seminary or for additional degrees. The first Easter after my priest friend was ordained, over 900 people were brought into the Church at his diocesan Cathedral. He, himself, baptized about 90 of them.

    Historically, slaves brought to this country were forced to become Christian; Catholic slaves are the source of syncretic religions, such as Voodoo, Candomble and Santeria. They superimposed saints names on the deities of their religion. This is similar to some of the current cults in Mexico.

    While all are welcome at every Mass, my local parish named for St. Peter Claver is one of the places black people congregate. Also the Cathedral as one of the deacons is black. There are several African priests locally, but I can’t think of any offhand that are American blacks.

    The problem with Black Lives Matter is that it’s a black supremacist organization which supports black men who die at the hands of police while in the act of committing felonies. The basic premise is that the police have no right to protect themselves or others in the face of attack. The most recent one where I live is a case in which a black man beat his girlfriend, who had a broken ankle. When paramedics were treating her, he interfered with them, therefore the police were called. He had his hand on an officers gun and refused to move it away when the other officer shot him, fearing his colleague’s death at the hands of the man.

    I think it’s completely misguided for the Church to give this group a forum; these are the same people who shut down light rail in Minneapolis on more than one occasion, interfered with the state fair and screwed with people’s Christmas shopping with their illegal entrance to the Mall of America, followed by screwing with Christmas travel when they went to the airport to protest. Their behavior is outrageous and the message they send is that black people should be able to behave as they choose with no repercussions.

    If they had the same type of response to black on black crime and sent a message that black people need to focus on their education and wait to have children until they’re married, that would be one thing. After 40 years of government handouts and handwringing after nothing changes, it is clearly a problem within the black community that’s fostered by excessive government handouts. There are tons of people out there advertising on craigslist, taking cash only and at the same time on welfare. They don’t want to work for minimum wage because they can make more and not pay taxes.

    Nobody says that black lives don’t matter, but pay attention to the response when someone has the audacity to suggest that all lives matter.

  26. Orlando says:

    Enlighten modernist think they’ve invented the sexual revolution , transgender ideology and man centered universe. I’m comforted by the fact that this perversion was known to our Savior during his days in human form and he “judge them, told them to repent and to follow him”. When they didn’t , he simply moved on to the next town looking for desirous souls to save. Our Lord had seen this before , knows our struggles now and will never abandon us. He’s calling us speak the truth always, save souls from damnation and not get discourage if all along the way we are met with resistance , for the devil is strong, He will lead us down the right path and if it’s only one soul we snatch back from the pains of hell, that’s one win for the good guys. We must be prepared to lose more then we win. We must not give up or fall into dispair. He didn’t and was crucified for it. Chance are slim to none that we face the same thing . Adelante!

  27. Nan says:

    Elizabeth D, I just came across an article on the danger of the Black Lives Matter movement, which might help you see another perspective.


  28. HealingRose says:

    Semper Gumby, thank you for sharing that! (I can’t wait to share that with my twelve year old son. He loves history, especially anything related to WWII.)

    I was reflecting on the idea of NEW Order or NEW Testament, and our preoccupation with things that are NEW in the worldly sense. We constantly are trying to reinvent the wheel in so many ways, particularly in education and the church. We somehow have it in our head that NEW or change equates to being better. Even the NEW Testament isn’t really new. As with everything, it is rooted in history and grows into the fruits during the time that comes after. God is not about being new, He is external. When we stop thinking of how to make things NEW, we stop trying to live in the FUTURE. When we start focusing on the ETERNAL, then we start living in the PRESENT. I see the EF Mass and the Rosary as a way to meditate and practice being in the present.

    With EF in Latin, we learn to worship by minimizing distraction and just be in His presence. I often close my eyes to allow my other senses to open up to His Spirit. I don’t need to know everything being said, God reveals what He wants me to know, when He wants me to know it. I am amazed how often I hear the same parables in English hundreds of times, but never really knew what they said until God chose to reveal it to me through His grace. When we become so busy with “active participation” in the NO, we forget how to just be silent, open our senses with devotions & worship, and listen. Our humility through worship in EF leads to the prosperous actions and fruits in our daily lives.

    When we try to reinvent the wheel in the church, we in a sense try to play God. After a couple thousand years, what else is there to figure out? God is the master artist. If He intended all of us to have our own paint brushes and paint, then He would would have handed the apple to Adam and Eve Himself. Would we revise a Picasso or Rembrandt? We clean and preserve great works of art, we do not change them.

  29. Pingback: THURSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  30. Ben Kenobi says:

    “If black people come to Mass at parishes that are largely full of white faces, I think we should be intentional about welcoming and including them because it is easy for them to feel like they don’t fit.”

    Hogwash. I’ve been to parishes all over in Texas. The only parish I’ve *ever* been that was exclusionary was the ‘black’ parish. It was also the only parish that was truly 100 percent black. Black people talk about how they are suffering terribly because of this and that. I don’t hear similar complaints from my Hispanic friends who are only too happy to worship at mass and don’t bring up racial grievances that they never went through. If the parish is caring more about the color of their skin than their faith then it’s not really a church anymore. Attending the ‘black’ church was an eyeopener for me.

  31. Elizabeth D says:

    Nan, I was not endorsing the “Black Lives Matter” movement as such, which is marxist/radical and certainly bad, even an intentionally antisocial approach to the issue. I was suggesting a healthier angle.

    I taken aback by Father Z putting red marks in my comment about what a poor job we have done evangelizing blacks, which I guess I assumed people would understood I obviously meant here in the USA. We should acknowledge this forthrightly. It is not “conservative” to fail to think through the race related hurdles to evangelization that exist, nor is it leftist to acknowledge that difficulties do exist. I am not talking about Cardinal Sarah and Africa, where we know the Church is thriving, thanks be to God (and most everyone there is black, so the dynamic I am referring to of feeling at home in the parish where there are very few blacks as is the case in most US Catholic parishes, does not exist). In our own country, there is an obvious and deep segregation of churches and relatively few black Catholics, and that is to be lamented.

    My point is that we should take note of that and we need to be able to talk about it without it occurring to people to accuse someone like me who is attempting to reflect usefully on the subject, of forgetting about Africa or endorsing marxist radicals.

  32. ALL: While evangelization of all people is not an option, it was not my hope for this entry that a discussion be limited to one group. So… let’s move on.

  33. benedetta says:

    I think that the great unifier par excellence is the sacred liturgy of the Catholic Church, and the traditional way that catechumens walk with us in their formation via evangelization leads to that communion which is paramount, and, at some level, has really little to do with our programming and intentional works, however nice or needed they may be perceived. I do not intend to attack anyone but merely thoughtfully comment further in this conversation. I think that we can program and be hospitable until the cows come home, in a programmatic and organized way, and yet human organization is not what is required as priority. I think also that in this era of focusing on someone who might be a part of some group identifying for a time or not or visibly identified by others runs the risk of being intrusive, and lacking reverence for the person and their journeys. I think it’s a bit of a splintering process to regard our fellows at the Mass or in the parish as people who need this thing or that, first and foremost, and ourselves as the people to deliver it.

    I further think that while the Church never claims human perfection, lack of failings, and absence of the real effects and workings of sin and filth within, and none of us can shirk the obligation to participate in reform, at the same time to organize according to dogmas which are founded precisely contra to the Church, to attack the Church and to instrumentalize the attack as propaganda for an -ism that may not be humanist or good, is to humiliate a whole religion.

    I do not think anyone here is not cognizant of the issues in the Church. Fr. Z in his rant obviously sees some dire needs. I do not think him unmindful of the failings of the Church when he formulates his remarks on this topic but rather with full understanding of failings as well as the good, the good which is constructive, and always has been, he puts forth this encouragement for our consideration and comment here.

    I am not someone who is not at all read or deeply familiar with progressive American movements, or politics, nor am I someone who would say that one prevailing political current is/has been clearly historically superior to the other. I think it’s a crap shoot there, and that is the reason so many American Catholics blanch at the current situation. (N.B. I have also taught coursework in diversity required by grad students for licensure in teaching, and I have thoroughly read and digested what I guess is regarded as the “canon” for readings in this area, focusing on issues of race, class, gender and I have discussed and dialogued with a great many students in multiple contexts, with respect and edifyingly.)

    I do not think we need to assume that people are “attacking” others when they point out certain things or think that their comments are not intended to be useful. Rather, I think we assume that everyone is contributing, and we respect the differences of opinion which to my reading today here are all very thoughtfully and charitably made.

    All told I think that there is much greater harm to incorporating, and accepting with little critical analysis, the unlimited constant barrage of accusations, allegations, calumnies, stereotypes and propaganda rooted in various -isms at work in the world most of which while may contain certain grains of truth are really just at a fundamental level no different from the types of attacks generated at the Church from time immemorial.

    Our sacred worship is the great equalizer and unifier. It is not our work or something we can “accomplish” on our own. It acknowledges that we are not perfect, that we are gripped by sin, and that we need God to save us, first and foremost, before we can embark on programs and excellent actions, as good and needed as they might be, they will never except in utopian fantasy be able to “reach” every single one, via our own efforts. That is why we need God. In sacred worship, Christ in the Eucharist reverences every single human being, perfectly, with respect, and unconditional love. He extends that perfect hospitality and welcome that despite our best intentions is beyond our capabilities. We are of equal and infinite dignity in Him.

    Revitalization of our sacred worship, of the sacraments worthily celebrated, I agree, is the priority. Nothing less.

  34. AvantiBev says:

    Next up a seminar on: How Egyptair Was Brought Down by The Great Commission Which is Just As Prone to Conquest As Islam’s Jihad Doctrine.

  35. Matt Robare says:

    I just finished reading “Desolation Island” and there’s a great section where the people on the ship realize there’s a leak and morale starts to plummet while attempts to stop it fail and everyone is needed to man the pumps until eventually discipline breaks down as some people decide to leave in the smaller boats — but those who stay out of faith in their captain and keep the discipline vital to a ship do succeed in reaching safety.

    Are we pumping or are we breaking into the spirit-room and looking for any excuse to go off in a cutter and make for Cape Town?

    [Which it’s a marvelous book is that one.  Yes, that bit with the breakdown of moral and discipline in Desolation Island is pretty awful. Also in Desolation Island – on another note – what about that incredible chase? The Dutch 74, the Waakzaamheid, chased them in the Roaring Forties for five days. The waves are so huge that the ships are without wind in the troughs. As they rise on the next wave they have to shoot downward at their pursuer from the stern. I have all the books in audio book form read by Simon Vance. It raises the hair on the back of your neck. When they finally manage to shoot away the enemy’s foremast, the Waakzaamheid slews broadside, broaches and is taken by the wave.

    But although the Leopard was lighter she felt the loss of the jib; the Waakzaamiheid was coming up, and now the vast hill of sea separated them only for seconds. If the Leopard did not gain when all her water was gone, the upper-deck guns would have to follow it: anything to draw ahead and preserve the ship. The firing was more and more continuous; the guns grew hot, kicking clear on the recoil, and first Burton and then Jack reduced the charge.
    Nearer and nearer, so that they were both on the same slope, no trough between them: a hole in the Dutchman’s foretopsail, but it would not split, and three shots in quick succession struck the Leopard’s hull, close to her rudder. Jack had smoked five cigars to the butt, and his mouth was scorched and dry. He was staring along the barrel of his gun, watching for the second when the Waakzaamheid’s bowsprit should rise above his sight, when he saw her starboard chaser fire. A split second later he stabbed his cigar down on the priming and there was an enormous crash, far louder than the roar of the gun.
    How much later he looked up he could not tell. Nor, when he did look up, could he quite tell what was afoot. He was lying by the cabin bulkhead with Killick holding his head and Stephen sewing busily; he could feel the passage of the needle and of the thread, but no pain. He stared right and left. “Hold still,” said Stephen. He felt the red-hot stabbing now, and everything fell into place. The gun had not burst: there was Moore fighting it. He had been dragged clear – hit – a splinter, no doubt. Stephen and Killick crouched over him as a green sea gushed in: then Step-hen cut the thread, whipped a wet cloth round his ears, one eye and forehead, and said, “Do you hear me, now?” He nodded; Stephen moved on to another man lying on the deck; Jack stood up, fell, and crawled over to the guns. Killick tried to hold him, but Jack thrust him back, clapped on to the tackle and helped run out the loaded starboard gun. Moore bent over it, cigar in hand, and from behind him Jack could see the Waakzaamheid twenty yards away, huge, black-hulled, throwing the water wide. As Moore’s hand came down, Jack automatically stepped aside; but he was still stupid, he moved slow, and the recoiling gun flung him to the deck again. On hands and knees he felt for the train-tackle in the smoke, found it as the darkness cleared, and tallied on. But for a moment he could not understand the cheering that filled the cabin, deafening his ears: then through the shattered deadlights he saw the Dutchman’s foremast lurch, lurch again, the stays part, the mast and sail carry away right over the bows.
    The Leopard reached the crest. Green water blinded him. It cleared, and through the bloody haze running from his cloth he saw the vast breaking wave with the Waakzaamheid broadside on its curl, on her beam-ends, broached to. An enormous, momentary turmoil of black hull and white water, flying spars, rigging that streamed wild for a second, and then nothing at all but the great hill of green-grey with foam racing upon it.
    “My God, oh my God,” he said. “Six hundred men.”



  36. benedetta says:

    I think the original comment that touched off a bit of a rabbit hole in terms of detail crystalizes the issue quite well: do we think that programming and study circles are the core of our Faith, and the remedy for, everything? Understanding we all labor within a situation that is far from “perfection”, and that no ideology or program in itself will ever be able to usher in a perfection that is full, whole, and complete, and that many believers get that there are hands on works of mercy we can all do right where we are to help make things more right than they are, in the name of Christ…we in the Catholic Church have Christ present to us in the sacred liturgy. We need more, and not less, worthy and reverent celebrations, everywhere.

    “Quærite ergo primum regnum Dei, et justitiam ejus: et hæc omnia adjicientur vobis.”

  37. The Masked Chicken says:

    Much of Prof. Esolen’s essay is commentary on Prof. James Hitchcock’s book, Catholicism and Modernity: Confrontation Or Capitulation? (1979). I had the privilege to correspond with Prof. Hitchcock when I was doing my research on Charismatic theology and history. He didn’t like e-mail very much, so I gave him my home address at the time and he sent me a handwritten note.

    Much of what Prof. Esolen has to say is quite true, but he, occasionally, paints with a brush that is too broad.

    He writes:

    “To apply Burke’s words to our time: there is nothing new about mankind…that has not been a part of the immemorial heritage of the human race.”

    It is true that there is nothing new about the transcendent aspects of the human soul that have not been a part of us from the beginning, but there are aspects of the human condition that, may, in fact, be different than at other times in history. With the discovery of epigenetics, we now know that it is possible to modify certain aspects of the DNA nucleotide sequences by such things as methylation that result in hitherto unexpressed genetic variations. Of these new variations, we may have little experience.

    He, also, says, “We are not wiser than our grandparents.” Wisdom has two different aspects: practical wisdom (how to build a boat) and moral wisdom (how one ought to act in right accord with God’s will). Certainly, with regards to practical wisdom, we are wiser than our grandparents. We know that all maps can be covered by only four colors; we know that uranium-235 spontaneously decays to thorium-231; we know that Fermat’s Last Theorem is true. Even in the area of Liturgy, we know that microphones and speakers make it easier to hear the homily in a large church. This type of wisdom is unanchored to anything but the onrush of human experience.

    Moral wisdom, on the other hand, is an anchored wisdom. It is wisdom that depends on extra-historical actions. God’s wisdom is eternal, so that aspect of the Church’s relationship with God must, likewise, be anchored in that eternity as it contacts the Church moving in history. The problem with many Church innovators of today is that they want to make the moral wisdom time-bound. They want to make the eternal truths of the moral order into mere practical wisdom of the here-and-now, but they don’t want to even approach that sort of wisdom scientifically – for, if they did, they would soon learn that the eternal wisdom was right, all along.

    What the modern innovators lack, in a word, is humility -the humility to stand before a sacred tradition as eternity unfolds in time. Oh, they talk a lot about humility, but it always humility before them, as the masters. Let them prove their humility by obedience. Until they, at the very least, follow the rubrics to the letter (as the human condition allows), let them not be trusted to be called humble, nor followed.

    Prof. Esolen also writes: ” liturgists have penned New and Improved Music, and never a masterpiece, nay, not even a decent off-Broadway ditty among them.” Here, he just goes too far. There have been Mass setting written after Vatican II that are, while not masterpieces, nevertheless, acceptable, in an historical sense. The problem is not that no such music is being written, but that it will never gain a foothold in most Churches. The reason for that is that, alas, music of this sort it too transcendent, to likely to remind the congregation that they have an eternal destiny. Many things that the innovators have wrought are designed to keep the congregation focused on the here-and-now, so they won’t focus with dread on the judgment that might await them.

    It is not merely that the Church had disregarded its traditions (and, really, who wants to go back to churches without central air conditioning), but it has lost its connection with the transcendent. Dietrich von Hildebrand, in his famous essay, The Case for the Latin Mass, wrote:

    MY CONCERN is not with the legal status of the changes. And I emphatically do not wish to be understood as regretting that the Constitution has permitted the vernacular to complement the Latin. What I deplore is that the new mass is replacing the Latin Mass, that the old liturgy is being recklessly scrapped, and denied to most of the People of God.

    I should like to put to those who are fostering this development several questions: Does the new mass, more than the old, bestir the human spirit — does it evoke a sense of eternity? Does it help raise our hearts from the concerns of everyday life — from the purely natural aspects of the world-to Christ? Does it increase reverence, an appreciation of the sacred?

    Of course these questions are rhetorical, and self-answering. I raise them because I think that all thoughtful Christians will want to weigh their importance before coming to a conclusion about the merits of the new liturgy. What is the role of reverence in a truly Christian life, and above all in a truly Christian worship of God?

    Reverence gives being the opportunity to speak to us: The ultimate grandeur of man is to be capax Dei. Reverence is of capital importance to all the fundamental domains of man’s life. It can be rightly called “the mother of all virtues,” for it is the basic attitude that all virtues presuppose. The most elementary gesture of reverence is a response to being itself. It distinguishes the autonomous majesty of being from mere illusion or fiction; it is a recognition of the inner consistency and positiveness of being-of its independence of our arbitrary moods. Reverence gives being the opportunity to unfold itself, to, as it were, speak to us; to fecundate our minds. Therefore reverence is indispensable to any adequate knowledge of being. The depth and plenitude of being, and above all its mysteries, will never be revealed to any but the reverent mind. Remember that reverence is a constitutive element of the capacity to “wonder,” which Plato and Aristotle claimed to be the indispensable condition for philosophy. Indeed, irreverence is a chief source of philosophical error. But if reverence is the necessary basis for all reliable knowledge of being, it is, beyond that, indispensable for grasping and assessing the values grounded in being. Only the reverent man who is ready to admit the existence of something greater than himself, who is willing to be silent and let the object speak to him- who opens himself-is capable of entering the sublime world of values. Moreover, once a gradation of values has been recognized, a new kind of reverence is in order-a reverence that responds not only to the majesty of being as such, but to the specific value of a specific being and to its rank in the hierarchy of values. And this new reverence permits the discovery of still other values.

    It is not so much simply a loss of tradition that we must fight, today. It is the loss of reverence. We see it in every broken home, in every disordered desire, in every blasphemous choice offered to modern man. Why is Latin so superior for the Mass? Besides the fact that it is a dead language and, therefore, fixed into eternity, it is, also, a noble language, one suited for reverence. Other languages have their moments, to be sure, but Christ allowed himself to be sent into the world when Greek and Latin were the common tongues. True, he spoke in other languages, but he knew that His message would go forth in the common tongues of the day.

    Is it the claim that we should not ignore our traditions? Even motorcycle gangs have their traditions, but there is something different about the traditions of the Church that separate them from that of the local coffee shop. A better formulation is that we should not ignore the traditions with respect to our relationship with God that true reverence has brought to us. Reverence has brought us the Latin Mass. One wonders what has brought us the Clown Mass.

    The Chicken

    P. S. Sorry. I got a little talky. [Or clucky.]

  38. Semper Gumby says:

    HealingRose: Thanks, I hope your son enjoys reading about the Airlift. I’m sure you know about Cornelius Ryan’s WWII books. For what it’s worth, twelve is when I discovered them at the library.

    If your son stays interested in the logistical-side of military operations, the massive official US Army History of WWII has two great volumes on the Ordnance Corps and the Quartermaster Corps. One is titled, I think, “From Beachhead to Battlefront.” That’s for high school or college of course, but the ingenuity and problem-solving displayed by logisticians in North Africa 1942 and France 1944 makes for great reading.

    I enjoyed your reflections on the EF- very insightful. Your closing line on what one does with a great work of art is classic.

  39. acardnal says:

    Semper Gumby,
    When I was in the U.S. Air Force I was stationed at Tempelhof in West Berlin in the middle of East Germany from 1974-76. It was an experience I will never forget.

  40. acardnal says:

    Correction: 1976-1978

    A veryy unique airfield: HERE

  41. JonPatrick says:

    To follow up on what the Chicken said, the Mass is not about us but about what is pleasing to God. Personally I would prefer the EF Mass was in English so I wouldn’t have to have my nose stuck in a missal. But it isn’t about me so I need to have the humility to accept that. In addition, the Mass in the vernacular has compounded the balkanization of the various groups in the Church (Spanish, Vietnamese, etc.) and becomes one more obstacle to the unity we claim to strive for.

  42. Semper Gumby says:

    Masked Chicken: Thanks for the excerpt from Dietrich von Hildebrand’s essay. I had not seen that yet. Also, good closing paragraph, wasn’t expecting motorcycle gangs and clowns, but that worked well.

  43. Semper Gumby says:

    acardnal: That is interesting. A question: while stationed in West Berlin I wonder if you noticed, to use Fr. Z’s African Queen reference, any Soviet/East German efforts to knock the Barque of Peter off course.

    The reason I ask is a few years ago I read George Weigel’s biography of St. John Paul II and Weigel detailed numerous efforts to undermine the Church in Poland from arrests to surveillance to espionage. Certainly, the Commies would be more subtle in West Berlin, but just wondering if you have any tales to tell about this. Thanks.

    p.s. Fr. Z and his Merry Crew of sailing readers are interesting me in that series excerpt-by-excerpt. I can tell resistance is futile, but those books will have to wait a bit longer.

  44. acardnal says:

    Semper Gumby, RE your question: sorry. I have no tales to tell. I was busy with other matters at that point in time. . . like curry wurst and bier.

  45. acardnal says:

    Father Z: RE “Desolation Island” reference above and your interest in both sailing and astronomy, you might enjoy the dvd “Longitude” with Jeremy Irons. It is based on Dava Sobel’s book.

    [Ah yes! I know the book. Very interesting. It inspired me to go to the museum in Greenwich.]

  46. Semper Gumby says:

    acardnal and Fr. Z: Thanks for the book tip. And a movie about cracking the Longitude puzzle- fascinating. JH Parry wrote a book called “The Age of Reconnaissance 1450-1650.” He shows how Europeans mastered Latitude, and how ships progressed from small caravels to multi-masted ships with guns below decks. That trip to Greenwich must have been great.

    I was about to press Send, but can’t resist adding something.

    The Greenwich Observatory played a part in defeating Rommel’s Afrika Korps. The British Long Range Desert Group roamed a million square miles of desert from Cairo to Tunisia. Most of the time, the LRDG had to use celestial navigation, with Nautical Almanacs from Greenwich, and they received the Greenwich time signals by purchasing civilian radios and mounting them in their vehicles.

  47. boxerpaws63 says:

    “To those who think the white privilege stuff is awful, well I can only agree it is an obnoxious way to approach the subject but the Catholic Church has historically [?] done a mostly awful job of evangelizing blacks, even though we are the universal Church.” maybe we’ve done a mostly awful job of evangelizing anyone.It’s not the non Catholics we should worry about so much anymore-it’s the Catholics we’ve lost.

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