Thursday, August 28, 2014

Traditionalists and Schism

Credit:  deepertruthblog.blogspot.com
I have written here more than once that I am fearful that there is a great schism building up in the Catholic Church.  I feel it is coming from the traditionalist movement.  I make my judgment not as one looking in from the outside, but as one who was very much on the inside of this movement and deeply in agreement with it at one time.  Sadly, everything I hear and read is only confirming my worst fears.

I have been chastised by one traditionalist who says I don't know the meaning of the word schism and therefore I shouldn't be making such rash statements. The Catholic encyclopedia gives us this definition of schism [HERE for the full article]
Schism (from the Greek schisma, rent, division) is, in the language of theology and canon law, the rupture of ecclesiastical union and unity, i.e. either the act by which one of the faithful severs as far as in him lies the ties which bind him to the social organization of the Church and make him a member of the mystical body of Christ, or the state of dissociation or separation which is the result of that act.
The article further states while schism and heresy are two separate matters, one will ultimately lead to the other.
This distinction was drawn by St. Jerome and St. Augustine. "Between heresy and schism", explains St. Jerome, "there is this difference, that heresy perverts dogma, while schism, by rebellion against the bishop, separates from the Church. Nevertheless there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church (In Ep. ad Tit., iii, 10).
And St. Augustine: "By false doctrines concerning God heretics wound faith, by iniquitous dissensions schismatics deviate from fraternal charity, although they believe what we believe" (On Faith and the Creed). But as St. Jerome remarks, practically and historically, heresy and schism nearly always go hand in hand; schism leads almost invariably to denial of the papal primacy.
The article also says that disobedience alone does not constitute schism.  An essential element of schism is rebellion against and rejection of Church authority:
However, not every disobedience is a schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their Divine right to command.
We can continue to identify as Christian and yet still be in a state of schism:
Anyone becomes a schismatic who, though desiring to remain a Christian, rebels against legitimate authority, without going as far as the rejection of Christianity as a whole, which constitutes the crime of apostasy.
The article explains that at one time rebellion against the local bishop constituted schism. This definition has somewhat changed. Rebellion against the local bishop is a serious step towards schism. However, schism is now specifically defined as rebellion against the Holy See:
Now through the centralizing evolution which emphasizes the preponderant role of the sovereign pontiff in the constitution of ecclesiastical unity, the mere fact of rebelling against the bishop of the diocese is often a step toward schism; it is not a schism in him who remains, or claims to remain, subject to the Holy See.
It is for this reason that the Society of St. Pius X is not considered formally schismatic, even though they are not in communion with the Church. The Society states that they still recognize the authority of the Holy Father. They are dangerously close to schism, however, as the head of the SSPX, Bishop Fellay, has called Pope Francis a modernist, and says that while they do still recognize his authority at this time, that may change in the future.

The penalties for schism are severe:
These are: excommunication incurred ipso facto and reserved to the sovereign pontiff (cf. "Apostolicæ Sedis", I, 3); this is followed by the loss of all ordinary jurisdiction and incapacity to receive any ecclesiastical benefices or dignities whatsoever. To communicate in sacris with schismatics, e.g., to receive the sacraments at the hands of their ministers, to assist at Divine Offices in their temples, is strictly forbidden to the faithful.
St. Cyprian explains that leaving the Church amounts to leaving Christ.  If we do not remain under the authority of the Church, we are not under Christ's authority, and are gravely endangering our salvation.
St. Cyprian:  "The spouse of Christ is chaste and incorruptible. Whoever leaves the Church to follow an adulteress renounces the promises of the Church. He that abandons the Church of Christ will not receive the rewards of Christ. He becomes a stranger, an ungodly man, an enemy. God cannot be a Father to him to whom the Church is not a mother. As well might one be saved out of the ark of Noah as out of the Church. . . . He who does not respect its unity will not respect the law of God; he is without faith in the Father and the Son, without life, without salvation"
As other saints have said, where Peter is, there is the church. Therefore, to reject Peter is to reject the Church. And as we have seen, to reject the Church is to reject Christ. Hence, to reject Peter is also to reject Christ:
St. Ambrose: "Where Peter is, there is the Church; where the Church is there is no death but eternal life"
St. Jerome: "That man is my choice who remains in union with the chair of Peter"
St. Jerome:  "I who follow no guide save Christ am in communion with Your Holiness, that is with the chair of Peter. I know that on this rock the Church is built. Whosoever partakes of the Lamb outside this house commits a sacrilege. Whosoever does not gather with you, scatters: in other words whosoever is not with Christ is with Antichrist"
Last week I linked to a post by Mark Shea in which he reproduced Karl Keating's response to an article in The Remnant Newspaper [HERE] which tried to prove that Pope Benedict XVI abdicated from only the administrative portion of the papacy and still retains his infallible authority, thus abrogating the authority of Pope Francis.  In effect, this means that Pope Benedict XVI is still pope and, therefore, we don't have to listen to anything Pope Francis says.  As Karl Keating wrote "Their antipathy to that pope is leading them into theological nonsense, and it will lead some of their readers, and perhaps some of them, into further error.


Recently, Pewsitter.com - a true bomb thrower of a website - had as its main headline "Verrecchio: Emeritus Was Pushed". You can read the article HERE if you really want to. Louis Verrecchio is another bomb throwing traditionalist who is constantly attacking the hierarchy of the Church. He saves his harshest invective for Pope Francis. Verrecchio cited a recent news story in which Benedict XVI gave an hour and a half homily at a conference. It was reported that he stood the entire time even though a chair was available. As one participant said, "It was extraordinary. As always, it amazed us that in spite of age, and without a prepared text, the Pope (emeritus) gave a homily at a great level, with an extraordinary clarity of mind for his age."

Verrecchio then gave us a quote from the Pope's 2013 statement of intent to abdicate.  It includes in part:
[I]n order to govern the bark [sic] of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
According to Verrecchio, considering Pope Benedict's latest appearance in which he appeared to be in good health, statements about his physical weakness couldn't possibly be true.  Therefore, there is only one explanation for the Pope Benedict's abdication of the papacy:
Does anyone other than the willfully deluded and painfully ignorant still honestly believe that Benedict XVI wasn’t forced from office by a substantial threat either real or imagined?
Pope Francis
Verrecchio then goes on to tell us, with no proof whatsoever, that Cardinal Bergoglio was preselected "well before the doors [to the conclave] were even locked." This implies, of course, that Pope Francis's papacy is illegitimate and invalid and that Benedict XVI remains our true pope. 

The Remnant Newspaper, Louie Verrecchio and many other traditionalists are pushing the idea of schism fast and furious. It is hard to find a traditionalist website or blog that does not contain harsh and unrelenting criticism of Pope Francis, questioning his every move and every word, and trying to characterize the Holy Father as a heretic against the faith. These are not the actions of loyal Catholics but of those who are bordering on or are actually in a state of schism.

It should be noted that Verrecchio is scheduled to speak at a "Catholic Identity Conference" in September. The other main speakers are:
  • Dr. John Rao 
  • Michael Matt of The Remnant
  • John Vennari of Catholic Family News
  • Christopher Ferrara 
  • James Vogel from Angelus Press (publishing arm of the SSPX)
  • Kenneth Wolfe of Rorate Caeli 
  • Michael Brendan Doughtery from The American Conservative
All of these speakers are hard core traditionalists. They all disavow the validity of Vatican II to one extent or another, and by extension, the reject the "post Vatican II" church, as they define it. They all see the Traditional Latin Mass as the only valid Mass. They all are in basic disagreement with Pope Francis in almost everything he says and does.

These men are also highly educated, intelligent and successful at their chosen careers. They have studied intensely into church history, especially Dr. Rao, who teaches history at St. John's University. I spent 7 years in the traditionalist movement, and I can attest that the majority who call themselves traditionalists are educated, intelligent, intellectual, well-read and eloquent in defense of what they believe. And therein, I believe, lies their downfall.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with education and knowledge. These things are very important. But what good is it if the end result is that you think you are more knowledgeable and more Catholic than Church hierarchy, and most especially that you are more Catholic than our Holy Father? What good is your intellectual ability if all it does is lead you to question and doubt everything the Church says?

Credit:  catholic2007.blogspot.com
In Jesus' time, the most educated of Jewish society were the Pharisees. And what was the only group of people condemned by Our Lord? The Pharisees. As Our Lord told the Pharisees in Matthew 21:31 - "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you."

What was the great sin of the Pharisees? It was a combination of pride in themselves and envy of Jesus Christ. They were angry that the people were accepting Our Lord's authority instead of theirs. And they were very proud of their "spirituality", looking down on others. And they did look good on the outside, doing all of the right things. But as Our Lord told them, "You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." (Matt. 23:27).

As I have shown in the statements from the Catholic encyclopedia on schism, we can actually believe everything the church teaches but still be in a state of schism if we do not accept the authority of the Pope.

When someone like Remnant Newspaper or Louis Verrecchio comes along and tries to confuse and throw doubt into our minds about the validity of the Pope, how should we respond? How can we be sure of who the Pope is?

It all comes down to who and what we really believe. Our Lord told us that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. He said that the Holy Spirit will never cease to guide His Church. We have the sure promise of apostolic succession. This is not something that needs our approval. It is as sure as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

It is not up to us to make sure the Church conforms to our beliefs. It is up to us to conform to Holy Mother Church. However, many traditionalists such as Louis Verrecchio are so convinced of their own rightness and "infallibility", that they feel they can stand in judgment on Church authority, basically telling Church authority where they are wrong. And that is the big mistake traditionalists are making, and which may end up destroying them.

In the Divine Office from Wednesday, there was a reading from the Book of Jeremiah which I found to be apropos to this subject. This passage, from Jeremiah 2:1-13, 20-25, concerns ancient Israel's rejection of God. But it can apply to any of us, and we need to take note.

The passage starts out with a remembrance of the time when Israel was still very devoted to God, following Him as He freed them from the slavery of Egypt and brought them into the promised land:
Remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the Lord was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should anyone presume to partake of them,
evil would befall him, says the Lord.
Listen to the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob!
All you clans of the house of Israel.
But as Israel was following God in the wilderness, they started questioning and rebelling, thinking they knew a better way:
Thus says the Lord:
What fault did your fathers find in me
that they withdrew from me,
Went after empty idols,
and became empty themselves?
They did not ask, “Where is the Lord
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the desert,
through a land of wastes and gullies,
Through a land of drought and darkness,
through a land which no one crosses,
where no man dwells?”
An "empty idol" is anything we worship other than God. What "empty idol" do traditionalists worship? As I have shown above, they trust in their own reasoning. They believe they know the direction the Church should be taking, and anyone who disagrees with them - even if that person is the Holy Father - is wrong and must be destroyed. They are no longer looking to the Mystical Body of Christ for answers because they have all the answers.  That is the worst idol of all.
When I brought you into the garden land
to eat its goodly fruits,
You entered and defiled my land,
you made my heritage loathsome.
The priests asked not,
“Where is the Lord?”
Those who dealt with the law knew me not:
the shepherds rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after useless idols.
Where Peter is, there is the Church. When we rebel against Peter, we are rebelling against the Church. And when we rebel against Holy Mother Church, we are rebelling against the Lord.
Therefore will I yet accuse you, says the Lord,
and even your children’s children I will accuse.
Pass over to the coast of the Kittim and see,
send to Kedar and carefully inquire:
Where has the like of this been done?
Does any other nation change its gods?—
yet they are not gods at all!
But my people have changed their glory
for useless things.
The Traditionalists argue that all they are doing is trying to uphold the sacred traditions of the Church. But they fail to see the great distinction between traditional practices and traditional beliefs. Practices have changed throughout the life of the church.  As just one example, we have seen practices changed in regard to the amount of required time to fast before the reception of communion, or in how frequently the faithful should be allowed to receive communion.  The way in which we do things is always subject to change.  What is unchanging is our core beliefs.  That has never changed and will never change.
Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the Lord.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.
When our Lord promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church, and when He sent the Holy Spirit as our guide and comforter, we were given a sure promise that no matter how badly things may look, the Catholic Church will always be the Mystical Body of Christ.  No matter how the sea may rage and the barque of Peter may be tossed to and fro, the Church will never cease to be the beacon of light in a dark world.  Yet, how many have instead turned to their own understanding and sat in condemnation of this beautiful gift given to us directly by Our Lord?  Does Our Lord now look at us and say, "O ye of little faith"?
Long ago you broke your yoke,
you tore off your bonds.
“I will not serve,” you said.
On every high hill, under every green tree,
you gave yourself to harlotry.
I had planted you, a choice vine
of fully tested stock;
How could you turn out obnoxious to me,
a spurious vine?
Though you scour it with soap,
and use much lye,
The stain of your guilt is still before me,
says the Lord God.
How can you say, “I am not defiled,
I have not gone after the Baals”?
Consider your conduct in the Valley,
recall what you have done:
A frenzied she-camel, coursing near and far,
breaking away toward the desert,
Snuffing the wind in her ardor—
who can restrain her lust?
No beasts need tire themselves seeking her;
in her month they will meet her.
Stop wearing out your shoes
and parching your throat!
But you say, “No use! no!
I love these strangers,
and after them I must go.”
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis (and he is the Holy Father, despite the malicious and hateful accusations of people like Verrecchio), gave a homily a couple of days ago in which he said, "In a Christian community division is one of the most serious sins, because it does not allow God to act”.  According to an article from Catholic News Agency [HERE]:
Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Roman Pontiff explained that as Catholics “we affirm in the Creed that the Church is one and that she is holy.”
“One because she has her origin in the Triune God, mystery of unity and full communion. Holy since she is founded by Jesus Christ, enlivened by his Holy Spirit, and filled with his love and salvation.”
We continue to refer to the Church as “one” and “holy” despite the fact that “we know by experience that it is also composed of sinners and that there is no shortage of divisions,” he said, recalling how the night before he was arrested Jesus “asked for the unity of his disciples: ‘that all be one.’”
“We trust in his desire that unity will be one of the characteristic features of our community,” the Pope continued, noting that “While we, the members of the Church, are sinners, the unity and holiness of the Church arise from God and call us daily to conversion.”
Division is never a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Accusations and division are a sure sign of the work of the devil.

Continuing from the article:
“Sins against unity are not only schisms,” he said, “but also the most common weeds of our communities: envies, jealousies, antipathies...talking bad about others. This is human, but it is not Christian.”
These sins “which occur even in our parish communities,” Pope Francis continued, “come about when we place ourselves at the center.”
This last statement of the Holy Father, that these "sins against unity are not only schisms but the common weeds of our communities" and they occur "when we place ourselves at the center", basically summarizes everything I have been trying to say in this post.

Our Lord told us that we must become as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are told in one of my favorite verses of the Bible, and which I quote frequently, that Our Lord says, "But to this man will I look: even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." (Isaiah 66:2)  Our Lord is not impressed by how educated we are or even how articulate we are in expressing our faith.  The only criteria He uses in judging us is how much we trust Him and how much we love one another.  Do we believe Him when He says that He will never leave or forsake us?

From Pope Francis' homily:
Explaining how “It's the devil who separates, destroys relationships, sows prejudices,” the Pope affirmed that “the holiness of the Church” is “to recognize the image of God in one another.”
“The holiness of the Church consists of this: reproducing the image of God, rich in mercy and grace.”
Our Lord told us in John 15:5-6, "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." To abide in Christ is to abide in His Church, which we see personified in the Holy Father. 
As St. Cyprian warned:
God cannot be a Father to him to whom the Church is not a mother. As well might one be saved out of the ark of Noah as out of the Church. . . . He who does not respect its unity will not respect the law of God; he is without faith in the Father and the Son, without life, without salvation."

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Path To Inner Peace

Credit:  http://lorichristian.com/peace.html
The world is completely upside down and backwards, and it is so hard to know what or whom to trust. Evil is growing every day. Here in the United States, to be a Christian is to be an outcast of society. We are condemned because we do not support the homosexual lifestyle. Mainstream society throws labels at us like hateful and bigot. We are condemned because we do not support the willful killing of unborn children. We are condemned because we put God first in our lives instead of political correctness. Our society has become so anti-God that they will condemn just the mention of His Name. Recently, a teenager was suspended from class for saying "Bless you" to another student who had sneezed, and this has now become a freedom of religion and freedom of speech issue [HERE].

In other parts of the world, Christians are being murdered by the thousands simply because of what they believe.  And the rest of the world stands by watching and basically doing nothing.  Christians have become the lepers of the world, shoved out of society, hunted down and literally killed.  

In yesterday's Divine Office, the concluding prayer of Midday Prayer touched me very deeply and helped me to realize what we must do to keep our sanity and stand against the hatred and persecution we face from others and from the disorientation caused by all of the conflicting voices that we hear.

"O God,
who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command,
and to desire what you promise,
that, amid the uncertainties of this world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place
where true gladness is found.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.
Amen."
We will only survive if we keep our hearts and minds fixed completely on Our Lord. We should not even trust ourselves. And where is Christ to be found?  Where is that one Voice that will never lead us astray?  He is in His Mystical Body, the Catholic Church. Our Lord has given us His Church as a beacon in a world full of darkness. To be united to His Church is to be united to Christ. To be separated from the church is to be separated from the King of Peace, the Giver of Life.

The more the world persecutes us, the more they need us to stand firm in our faith. Persecution has always made the church stronger. As Tertullian wrote in the second century when the Church was under intense persecution, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." Killing us only makes us stronger.

Don't let anyone or anything separate you from His Church. Shut out all of the harsh raucous voices. Cling to Holy Mother Church "that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found."


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This Is Traditional Catholicism?

Credit:  cheezburger.com
Mark Shea had a very interesting post today [HERE] concerning an article from The Remnant Newspaper, an ultra orthodox traditional newspaper whose main goal seems to be to warn "faithful Catholics" about the "dangers" of the "Post Vatican II Church."  Mark quotes from Karl Keating regarding an article from the Remnant which tries to prove that Pope Benedict XVI is still pope and therefore, we don't have to listen to Pope Francis because he is not the real pope.  

Quoting Karl Keating:
“THAT WAY MADNESS LIES” — King Lear
In the current issue of “The Remnant” there is another article that never should have seen print. It is an article that will lead many readers into confusion and may lead some right out of the Church.
And it’s an article that suggests that “The Remnant” is heading over a cliff.
The article is titled “In a Papal ‘Diarchy’ Which Half Is Infallible?” The writer is Robert J. Siscoe. His topic is a study by Stefano Violi, a professor of canon law, who argues that Pope Benedict did not intend to renounce the whole papal office but only its administrative aspects. Benedict’s intent “was essentially to split the papacy in two, thereby transforming the papal monarchy into a papal diarchy.”
Siscoe quotes Italian journalist Vittorio Messori’s take on Violi’s argument: “Benedict did not intend to renounce the munus petrinus, or the office, or the duties. . . . The Pope intended to renounce only the ministerium, which is the exercise and concrete administration of that office.”
After all, Benedict explained that he was tired and no longer felt he had the strength to fulfill his papal duties well.
Siscoe says that, if Violi “is correct, Pope Benedict did not intend to fully renounce the papal office, but only a portion of the exercise thereof. . . . This novel act of Pope Benedict would explain why he has retained the papal coat of arms, continues to wear the white cassock, and, rather than returning to his pre-papal name Cardinal Ratzinger, has chosen the title ‘His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus.’”
Siscoe then quotes another Italian journalist, Antonio Socci, who says: “Ratzinger dresses like a pope because ‘he is’ pope.”
The consequence of all this, speculates Siscoe, is that Benedict “retains the charism of infallibility.” Such a charism can’t be divided between two men. Thus, if Benedict still has it, Francis doesn’t have it. This allows Siscoe and his colleagues at “The Remnant” to get around what for them has been an awkward situation: the recent canonizations.
Siscoe asks, “How could God have permitted the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II (whose public sins against the First Commandment are too many to list) when so many theologians have held that the canonization of saints is protected by infallibility?”
Not to worry, folks. If Francis doesn’t have the charism of infallibility, one can argue that his canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II didn’t “take.” They aren’t to be counted as saints but simply as two dead popes.
Of course, there are difficulties with the theory that “The Remnant” is pushing:
1. No theologian ever asserted that the papal office could be cut in two in this way.
2. No cardinal in the conclave understood himself to be giving only half the papal office to Francis.
3. If Benedict felt too tired to perform administrative duties and wanted to relieve himself of them and only of them, the logical thing would have been for him to devolve more of those duties onto the curia–which is precisely what the curia is for. There was no need for a “half pope.”
4. Benedict attended the canonization ceremony. He clearly endorsed what Francis was doing. He must have known that Francis had the charism of infallibility.
5. If the charism of infallibility lies with Benedict, what happens when he dies? If Francis doesn’t have the charism now, he won’t inherit it automatically on Benedict’s death. Will there have to be another conclave, to hand over to him (or to some other cardinal) the powers that Benedict retained?
The position argued by Siscoe and endorsed by “The Remnant” is madness. The chief reason it’s being pushed is that the staff members of that newspaper didn’t and don’t approve of John Paul II, against whom they wrote for years.
Their antipathy to that pope is leading them into theological nonsense, and it will lead some of their readers, and perhaps some of them, into further error.
As Karl Keating says, "That way lies madness."

Here is a really great Youtube from Tim Haines of Vericast, a Catholic internet media company which comes right here from Brooklyn, about the dangers of Traditionalism. I highly suggest listening to this. Speaking as one who was deeply into this movement, I can say that Tim Haines is completely on target.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Karl Rahner Was Right - Part 1: The Changing Face of Catholicism

There is an interesting psychological phenomenon that was identified in 1972 called "Groupthink". Wikipedia [HERE] gives us the definition:
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.
Social Psychologist Irving Janis is responsible for identifying groupthink.  Janis gave eight symptoms of groupthink, as follows:
Type I: Over estimations of the group — its power and morality
  • Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  • Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
Type II: Closed-mindedness
  • Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
  • Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
Type III: Pressures toward uniformity
  • Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  • Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  • Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty"
  • Mindguards— self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
Having been part of the Catholic Traditionalist movement for several years, I saw this type of mindset up close, and was very much a part of it. There is very little independent thinking among Catholic traditionalists.  They are all in total agreement on who and what they consider the main enemies of the Catholic Church to be, which is basically anything and anyone in authority since the end of the Second Vatican Council. They are all in agreement that the Second Vatican Council is the source of all evil, and anyone who supports this Council is an enemy of the True Church.  They are also in total agreement that the only legitimate Mass is the Traditional Latin Mass. The Novus Ordo Mass is a protestant fake which must and will eventually be destroyed.

Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger
at Vatican II
Further, they feel the fathers of the Second Vatican Council were all evil modernists whose real goal was to destroy the Catholic Church. One of these men who stands out front and center is theologian Karl Rahner, a German Jesuit priest who lived from 1904 to 1984.  Father Rahner attended the Second Vatican Council as a Peritus (expert theologian) and was one of the most influential men at the Council.  Many mainstream Catholics (whom Traditionalists refer to as "Neo Catholics") consider Father Rahner to be, arguably, the most important Catholic theologian of the 20th Century. Traditionalists, however, consider him an evil man whose ideas were resolutely anti-Catholic.

The effect of groupthink among Catholic Traditionalists was seen very clearly in a recent blog post by Father John Zuholsdorf.  Father Z linked to an article from Rorate Caeli, a very militant traditional Catholic blog [HERE] and entitled his post, "ACTION ITEM! Must read piece about how wrong Rahner was."

Father Z does not tell us in his post the subject matter of the Rorate piece. All he tells us is this:
At Rorate there is an anonymous piece (how I wish they would use names) which is a fine, concise exposition of a key problem with the thought of the late Jesuit Father Karl Rahner. The piece doesn’t really move the question anywhere or explain why Rahner is wrong. It isn’t an argument, but it is one of the best summaries I have seen.
Father Z then links to a speech given by Pope Benedict XVI supposedly proving how wrong Father Rahner was, but we still don't know the subject matter.

So I went to the Rorate article, which you can read HERE.  The title is, "Rahner's Un-Roman Epoch of the Church."  We are told:
The Canadian television station Salt and Light has decided to use the account of a third epoch in the history of the Church developed by the famous theologian Karl Rahner, S.J. (1904-1984) as a way of describing the current pontificate. As Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., director of Salt and Light and top English-language officer of the Holy See Press Office, puts it in an interview with America:
I really believe, with the coming of Pope Francis, that this is that third epoch that Karl Rahner talked about in “The Three Great Epochs of the Church.” In our recent Salt and Light documentary on Pope Francis, we start off the whole story with Rahner’s now-epic essay in which he speaks about the three great epochs of church history. (h/t: DJ)
Rorate gives us a link to Father Rahner's essay which is entitled, "Towards A Fundamental Theological Interpretation of Vatican II." You can read this essay HERE, which I highly recommend. In this essay, Father Rahner says the history of the church can be divided into three epochs, or ages. Rorate actually does a fairly good job summarizing the essence of Father Rahner's arguments:
Rahner's idea of three epochs of the Church has antecedents (for example in Joachim of Fiore), but Rahner's version is unique. He sees the first age as having been the very short period of Jewish Christianity before the decision of the Apostle's not to impose circumcision on the gentiles. Rahner argues that the decision not to impose the Jewish law on gentile Christians brings about a radically different form of Christianity, a form appropriate to Graeco-Roman culture. This form, the second epoch of the Church, brought about far reaching changes in moral doctrine, liturgy, etc.
He then argues that with Vatican II, a new age is begins [sic], and that the changes that will have to be worked out for this third age will perhaps be every bit as great as those from the first to the second. In this third age, the Church becomes truly a world Church.
Rorate Caeli most definitely does not agree with this argument. Their chief criticism against Father Rahner is the following:
[Rahner] asks how Christianity will change in other parts of the world if it is not seen as tied to Graeco-Roman-Jewish notions of law, morality, ceremony etc. Will African tribesmen have to accept monagamy, or will their form of Christianity include polygamy? "Must the Eucharist even in Alaska be celebrated with grape wine?" He leaves these questions open, but his idea is that one will have to perform a "reduction or return to the final and fundamental substance" of Christianity in order for it to be then adapted to each culture.
Rorate speaks of a "reduction or return to the final and fundamental substance" of Christianity as if that was a bad thing.  But this is exactly what the Church did in Acts 15 at the Council of Jerusalem.  Up to this point, the Church had a Jewish culture, observing all of the Jewish laws and customs, including circumcision.  Circumcision and obedience to the Law, e.g. observance of the seventh day Sabbath, were the identifying signs of God's covenant with Abraham, and as such, could never be abrogated in the Jewish mind.

However, the Church was now open to Gentiles and the question was raised as to whether Gentiles should be subject to Jewish laws and customs.  St. Peter addressed the Council in verses 6-11:
“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?  No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
The apostle James gave the answer to this dilemma (verses 19-21):
19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
Circumcision as the sign of a follower of the True God had been abolished. This is what Rahner describes as the end of the first epoch of the church, which he describes as "Jewish Christianity." By eliminating the requirement of circumcision, the Church performed a "reduction or return to the final and fundamental substance of Christianity in order for it to be then adapted" to the Gentile culture. Is there little doubt that had Rorate Caeli been around at that time that the writers of this blog would have soundly condemned these actions by the early Church?

As Rahner explains, this period of Jewish Christianity was followed by "a distinct cultural region, namely that of Hellenism and of European culture and civilization."  Rahner says that this is exactly what is happening now in the church as we go from a period of European Christianity to World Christianity, no longer embracing just one culture but all cultures.

If anyone doubts the truth of just how dramatically changed is the face of Catholicism, here is an excerpt from a 2012 article from American Magazine [HERE] written by Brother Seán D. Sammon, former Superior General of the Marist Brothers:
John L. Allen, Jr., points out that at the beginning of the 20th century the cultural and ethnic profile of the Roman Catholic Church was not significantly different from what it had been about the time of the Council of Trent. Approximately 200 million of the world’s 266 million Catholics lived in Europe and North America; the remaining 66 million, about 25 percent, were scattered across the rest of the planet.
By the end of the 20th century only 300 million of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics were European and North American, approximately 33 percent. The overwhelming majority, 750 million people, lived in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Baring some unexpected development, by the year 2023, only one Catholic in five will be non-Hispanic Caucasian. This shift in a century is the most rapid and sweeping demographic transformation ever to occur in the long history of the Roman Catholic Church.
There can be no doubt for most of her 2000 years, European culture drove the Church. Our music, our artwork, and even our liturgy are all very European at their roots.  Even the official language of the Church - Latin - is European.  When the Church went out to evangelize the rest of the world, she did so by imposing European culture.  This is what Father Rahner wrote in his essay:
It is, of course, already open to misunderstanding, inasmuch as the Church was always a world Church "in potency" and that potency could only be actualized in the course of an extensive historical process whose origins go back to the beginning of European colonialism and the modern world-mission of the Church in the sixteenth century. Even today that actualization is not yet at its term. 
But one can consider the official activity of the Church in a macroscopic way and see clearly that despite the implied contradiction to its essence, the actual concrete activity of the Church in its relation to the world outside of Europe was in fact (if you will pardon the expression) the activity of an export firm which exported a European religion as a commodity it did not really want to change but sent throughout the world together with the rest of the culture and civilization it considered superior.
Karl Rahner is telling us that for almost two millenia the Church had been Euro-centric, and even when doing missionary work, the Church's message was wrapped in its "superior" European culture. And Holy Mother Church made it clear that when it came to liturgy and other Church traditions, she expected people to reject their own cultures and conform to "superior" Europe.

Father Rahner goes on to explain that the Second Vatican Council was the first Church council that was not based solely on western culture but truly world-wide:
For the first time a world-wide Council with a world-wide episcopate came into existence and functioned independently. In point of fact, the importance of the non-western part of the total episcopate may still have been relatively modest. The repercussions of the conciliar process on the extraconciliar life of the Church may still be very limited, as the subsequent synods of bishops in Rome show. But this does not alter the fact that at the Council a Church appeared and became active that was no longer the Church of the West with its American spheres of influence and its export to Asia and Africa. Under the appearance of an obvious and gradual development, something like a qualitative leap took place here, even though this world Church's new essence is masked to a considerable extent not only potentially but actually by characteristics of the old Western Church.
Others who attended the council corroborate Karl Rahner's view.  One example is Cardinal Franz König, archbishop of Vienna and attendee of Vatican II, who wrote the following:
I will never forget the opening day of the Council. As the relatively young Archbishop of Vienna, I proceeded with two and a half thousand other bishops down the Scala Regio towards the entrance of St Peter’s. As I looked around me I realised for the first time that the Church was a global Church, an impression that has remained indelibly impressed on my mind.
Just looking at the numbers of Vatican II compared with other councils tells the story.  The highest number of bishops at the Council of Trent was 255 in 1563.  That was even less than the attendance at the First Council of Nicea, which had 318.  The First Vatican Council in 1870 had 737 bishops at its opening session. In contrast, there were 2600 bishops along with theologians and expert consultants and representatives of other faiths who attended Vatican II.

Bishops at Vatican II
Credit:  americanmagazine.org
Nothing like the Second Vatican Council had ever before been seen in the Church.  As Brother Seán D. Sammon wrote:
Rahner argued that the council initiated by Pope John XXIII was fundamentally different in makeup than any that had occurred before, and surely different than Vatican I where the Asian and African episcopate was made up of missionary bishops of European and North American origin.

At Vatican II, however, these same regions were represented, in the main, by delegates indigenous to Africa and Asia. And they did not come to Rome as uncertain visitors. At Vatican II, we witnessed a gathering of the world’s bishops not as an advisory body for the pope, but rather with him serving as the final teaching and decision-making body in the Catholic Church. For the first time in history, a worldwide council with a truly worldwide episcopate came into existence; one of the oldest globalized institutions in the world was finally taking on a face that matched its complexity and diversity.
Following is a list of continents and countries represented by bishops who attended Vatican II:
  • 1089 bishops from Europe
  • 489 bishops from South America
  • 404 bishops from North America
  • 374 bishops from Asia
  • 296 bishops from Africa
  • 84 bishops from Central America
  • 75 bishops from Oceania, which included Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Australia
As a further illustration of the changing face of Catholicism, here is a chart from Wikipedia showing the make-up of the 1939 papal conclave which elected Pope Pius XII.  Even though this was on the eve of WWII, all 62 cardinals were present.  As you can see, 55 of the 62 cardinals were European.

PAPAL CONCLAVE, 1939


Absent0
Africa0
Latin America2
North America4
Asia1
Europe55
Oceania0
Italians35
DECEASED POPEPIUS XI (1922–1939)
NEW POPEPIUS XII (1939–1958)

In contrast, here is a chart from Wikipedia showing the make-up of the 2013 papal conclave which elected Pope Francis:

Papal Conclave of 2013[35]

Cardinal-electors by continent
  Italy
28
  Rest of Europe
32
  North America
20
  South America
13
  Africa
11
  Asia
10
  Australasia
1
Total Electors115
According to Wikipedia:
There were 207 cardinals on the day the papacy fell vacant. Cardinals aged 80 years or older before the day the papacy fell vacant are ineligible to participate, leaving 117 electors. Two of them were the first cardinal-electors from their churches to participate in a papal conclave: Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi and Syro-Malankara Major-Archbishop Baselios Cleemis, the first bishop from the Syro-Malankara Church to be created cardinal.
It is obvious from these examples that Catholicism outside of Europe is growing dramatically. Out of the 115 cardinal electors in 2013, 60 were from from Europe.  That is only 5 more European cardinals than were present in 1939, but there were 53 more non-European cardinals than in 1939.  Vatican II, inspired by the Holy Spirit, recognized the growing presence of the Church in non-European cultures, which is why this Council is of such great importance.

None other than one of the most respected theologians of the 20th Century, Avery Cardinal Dulles, gave a speech in which he fully supported Karl Rahner.  Cardinal Dulles entitled his speech, "The Emerging World Church:  A Theological Reflection" [HERE].  Again, I would highly recommend that you read this entire essay.  It is not long and well worth the read.

This essay is in complete contradiction to the arguments of Rorate Caeli and Father Z.

From Cardinal Dulles:
The emergence of the world Church . . . marks the end of the period when Catholicism as a whole could be equated with its expression in the forms of Graeco-Roman, Mediterranean, or European culture. We are witnessing the birth of a new multicultural Catholicism in which all the regional churches may be expected to interact, mutually criticizing and enriching one another. 
Further:
Since World War II this Eurocentric Christianity has been in general disrepute. The synthesis has never been very convincing even in Europe, where Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic Christians disagreed about what kind of culture should be paired with Christian faith. In Asia and Africa the identification of Christianity with European culture has been increasingly perceived as a form of cultural imperialism, and has provoked hostile reactions. Even in the West many Christians today regard the synthesis model, in all the forms here mentioned, as a misguided effort to link Christianity with a dying culture.
. . .
When the Bible, dogmas, sacraments and ecclesiastical structures are branded as culture-bound, the sources of continuity and communion in the Church are weakened. The idea of a visible world Church is undercut, and its place is taken by an invisible fellowship of an elite who have undergone intellectual, moral, and religious conversion within their own cultures and religions. 
Cardinal Dulles further wrote the following, invoking the words of the documents from the Second Vatican Council to prove his point:
Christianity is not exclusively linked to any one culture. According to the gospels, Jesus himself challenged the cultural and racial exclusiveness of the Jewish religious authorities. Paul advanced the process of cultural weaning by insisting that circumcision should not be obligatory for pagan converts to Christianity. Vatican II encapsulates this theme for the contemporary Church:
. . . the Church, sent to all peoples of every time and place, is not bound exclusively and indissolubly to any race or nation, nor to any particular way of life or any customary pattern of living, ancient or recent. Faithful to her own tradition and at the same time conscious of her universal mission, she can enter into communion with various cultural modes, to her own enrichment and theirs too.
Cardinal Dulles also supports Rahner's contentions that Vatican II was the first true world council of the church:
Even though the indigenous hierarchies of Asia and Africa played a relatively minor role in comparison with their European counterparts, the Catholic Church at Vatican II exhibited greater geographic and ethnic inclusiveness than ever before in its history.
Cardinal Dulles further supports Rahner when he says that missionary activity from 1500 to 1900 was Christianity exported in European form:
The novelty of the present situation can be illustrated by contrast with the period from 1500 to 1900, the great epoch of missionary expansion. In that period Christianity, though it was disseminated to all parts of the globe, remained an essentially European phenomenon, exported in European form. Christians of other continents took European names, used European languages in their worship, studied the religious history of the West, and learned their theology from European textbooks.
Since it is quite apparent that the majority of Catholics are no longer a part of the dying European culture but are as varied as the world itself, why are Rorate Caeli, Father Z and the traditionalist mindset in general so resistant to the message that we must move beyond our European identity to a world identity? And how does this affect the celebration of the Mass, which was a product of the European culture that predominated the Church for much of her history?

I will take up these questions in Part 2.

Credit:  www.prb.org

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reform the Mass? Or Reform Ourselves?


Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report did a post listing "7 Things To Restore Sense of Sacred Your Pastor Could Do Tomorrow"  [HERE].  The list is as follows:

1.  "Ad Orientum" - "the priest and the faithful face the same direction, (liturgical) east", or as some people see it, the priest says the Mass with his back to the people.

2.  "Restore chant and polyphony" - "Ditch the lame hymnal and its happy-clappy anthropocentrism and bring back chant and polyphony."

3. "Latin, yes Latin!!" - Archbold is okay with the readings in the vernacular, "but the parts of the mass that are the same every week could be in Latin".

4.  "Proper Reception of Communion, Kneeling and On The Tongue" - I think that pretty much says it all.

6. "No More Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion" - 'Nuff said.

6.  "Appropriate Attire" - this is not just about the laity dressing in a more proper manner, but about the attire of the servers:  "ditch the altar server's potato sack robes and replace them with cassocks and surplices."  Also, "Priest's [sic] could teach about the sacredness of women and encourage use of the veil."

7.  "General Reverence and Sacredness" - Archbold gives these specifics:
  • Eliminating the Sign of Peace by the Faithful. It is only an option and not mandatory and often very disruptive.
  • More Incense.
  • Great attention to reverence and precision by the Priests and servers.
  • Priestly ad libs banished!
  • The priest avoid wandering around during the homily.
What is Pat Archbold really saying in all of this?  It's quite simple.  He wants to replace the Ordinary Form of the Mass with the Extraordinary Form.  He obviously has no use for the Ordinary Form as it has evolved, and for all intents and purposes, Archbold wants it abolished.

There are a couple of problems with this.  First and foremost, - it ain't never gonna happen! 

Secondly, Pope Benedict XVI gave us Summorum Pontificum so that those who want the TLM would no longer need to ask permission.  Summorum Pontificum was not about replacing the Ordinary Form with the TLM.   In fact, His Holiness told us that the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form can be mutually enriching.  However, as can be seen in this post from Pat Archbold, traditionalists feel the extraordinary form is, without question, the superior Mass, and more to the point, as one person commented on Archbold's post, "the real Mass."

I have a rather unique perspective on this subject because until recent months, I was a strong adherent to the Traditional Latin Mass for several years, attending almost daily.  The reasons for my exclusive adherence to the TLM included all the reasons stated by Pat Archbold.   I, like most traditionalists, felt that the TLM was the "real" Mass and the Ordinary Form of the Mass was just downright painful.  

But in the past few months I have done a 180 degree turn.  I now exclusively attend the Ordinary Form of the Mass.  I still love the TLM as much as I ever did, but I have come to find the Ordinary Form of the Mass as much of a prayerful and spiritual experience as the TLM ever was.  I did not change the Mass, as Pat Arcbhold suggests.  I changed myself, and that has made all the difference.

All of the suggestions from Pat Arcbhold on restoring sacredness to the Mass involve changing the Mass.  Since that is not going to happen, I think it is much wiser to work on our attitude and prayerfulness and seeing what we can bring to the Mass.  Following are my suggestions on "restoring a sense of the sacred" to the Mass.


1. If it is at all possible, try to arrive early and stay for a while after Mass. This is not as easy to do on a weekday when most of us are working, going to school, etc. We are on tight schedules then. But even if you are married with several kids, you should still be able to invest extra time at Mass on a Sunday. My Sunday Mass starts at 8:45 a.m., and I try to get there by 8:00. It's not necessary to be that early, but try to be in front of the Blessed Sacrament at least 15 minutes before the beginning of Mass. If you can, say a Rosary. Read and meditate on the readings for the Mass. Or just be in prayer, asking for the right attitude to open your mind and heart to Our Lord. This is a time to quiet your thoughts and center your mind on the fact that you are about to participate in the re-presentation of Our Lord's Sacrifice on Calvary.


2. Use the song books. You may not like the music, but force yourself to look up the hymns and sing along. It has been my experience that the words to the hymns are usually very moving and draw me closer to the meaning of the Mass. The hymns are part of the prayers. To refuse to sing is the same as refusing to pray. This is one of the advantages the Ordinary Form has over the TLM. The music at a TLM is all in Latin and only the choir can sing. But at the Ordinary Form, you are part of the choir. Sing out in praise! Chant and polyphony sound great, but I really appreciate understanding the words, and that is what we are given in the Ordinary Form. Take advantage of this!

Magnificat Magazine
2. Read along with the prayers and readings in the Mass. I find the best tool for this is one of the most beautiful monthly Catholic publications in history: the Magnificat magazine [HERE]. This publication contains daily Mass readings with evening and morning prayer, wonderful articles and artwork and more. Even though everything is in the vernacular, it has been my experience that just listening at Mass is not enough. I find I get much more of the meaning when I read along with what is being said at the altar, and it keeps my mind from wandering off. Again, I believe this is an advantage the Ordinary Form has over the TLM. You can hear and understand the prayers of the priest, and pray right along with him. Done correctly, this closely unites celebrant and laity before the throne of God.

Praying the Mass
3.  To quote from Father Z, "Say the black, do the red."  I would add, don't just attend Mass, but "Pray the Mass."  Follow the rubrics.  Stand, sit and kneel as directed in the Mass.  Try to this all of this as prayerfully as you can.  If your hands are free, fold them in prayer.  And say ALL of the responses.  Listen to (and hopefully read along with) the priest as he says the prayers of the Mass, and respond with "Amen."  As much as possible, be one with the celebrant of the Mass.

Sign of Peace
4.  Participate reverently and lovingly in giving the sign of peace to those around you. The sign of peace has a couple of different meanings. First of all, it is done as a symbolic response to Christ's command found in Matthew 5:23-24
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
As I wrote in a previous post, for me it is also a time to recognize Jesus Christ in the people around us, and realize that if we cannot love them, then we cannot love Our Lord.  We will be judged on how we treat others. We have just adored Our Lord in the transubstantiated bread and wine.  Now we must give the peace we have received from Him to others.   Once again, as in all other parts of the Mass, approach this in a prayerful, reverent manner.  You will be amazed at how this one little action can change you.


5. When the time comes to receive communion, again do so in a prayerful attitude. Walk with your hands folded in prayer, and actually be in prayer, asking the Blessed Mother to make your heart and mind humble and submissive.  Think of the greatness of the gift you are about to receive: the Body and Blood of your Creator, the One who died for you on Calvary and rose again to give you life eternal. Once more, I think our physical actions can add to the sacredness. Holding your hands in prayer as you walk up to receive will put you in a prayerful attitude. The United States bishops have asked that we receive standing, but that doesn't stop you, if physically possible, from genuflecting right before you receive.

And here I can agree with Pat Archbold - receive on the tongue. This definitely does instill a sense of the sacredness.

When I receive on the tongue, I am reminded that this is different from everything else in my life. This is not just a piece of bread that I am consuming. This is my Lord and Savior who is giving himself wholly and entirely to me. Receiving on the tongue truly instills the sense of sacredness while receiving in the hand makes receiving communion no different from anything else in my life.

Here are a couple of readings from the early fathers of the Church:

Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 23:21:
In approaching therefore, come not with your wrists extended, or your fingers spread; but make your left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed your palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying over it, Amen. So then after having carefully hallowed your eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake of it; giving heed lest you lose any portion thereof ; for whatever you lose, is evidently a loss to you as it were from one of your own members. For tell me, if any one gave you grains of gold, would you not hold them with all carefulness, being on your guard against losing any of them, and suffering loss? Will you not then much more carefully keep watch, that not a crumb fall from you of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?
John Chrysostom Homily 3 on Ephesians:
Tell me, would you choose to come to the Sacrifice with unwashen hands? No, I suppose, not. But you would rather choose not to come at all, than come with soiled hands. And then, thus scrupulous as you are in this little matter, do you come with soiled soul, and thus dare to touch it? And yet the hands hold it but for a time, whereas into the soul it is dissolved entirely.
When we receive on the tongue, we do not have to worry about fragments that we may drop or that are left on our hands. We don't have to worry about desecrating the consecrated host in any way. Remember, receiving on the hand is an indult. The Church prefers that we receive on the tongue. Just do it and you will be amazed at how it will change your life.

These suggestions come down to one thing: be in a prayerful, humble attitude. That is what will make the Mass sacred. Traditionalists tell us that the Latin Mass is what makes it sacred. If that is so, please explain why all sedevancatist groups are devoted to the Latin Mass, and yet they still remain separated from the Church.  

The First Mass, celebrated by Our Lord in the upper room the night before He was crucified, was filled with those who were clueless as to the deep, profound meaning of Our Lord's actions.  One man was actually plotting on how he was going to betray Christ.  The others had no idea what Christ was talking about.  This is His Body and Blood?  We have to wash each other's feet?   Christ is going away to the Father and they can't come?  

The apostles' lack of understanding took nothing away from the sacredness of that first Mass.  Maybe those around you don't understand what is going on.  They don't realize the great mystery that is the Mass.  But that doesn't change what is happening.  By putting yourself in the right prayerful attitude, you can be a part of the sacredness.  And just maybe, you will lead others to this same sacredness that you have discovered.  

The Mass doesn't have to change.  It is already sacred.  It is we who must change.  Let it begin with you.

Credit: forcatholicholymass.blogspot.com
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