Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Response to National Non-Catholic Fishwrap Article That Puts Fear in the Hearts of Liberal Catholics About the Liturgy

"Cardinal Burke boosts lavish, Latin liturgy" is the title of an article at National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper that is not-to-fondly referred to by Father Jeffrey Keyes and others as The National Non-Catholic Fishwrap.
The National Catholic Reporter blogger, Robert McClory wrote: "I think all Catholics should be required to view this video released by the Catholic News Service.

"It reveals in vivid color an ideal form of the Mass, as explained by Cardinal Raymond Burke, outgoing prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. In my opinion, it reveals more clearly where the institutional church is heading and what can be expected from Rome in the forseeable future as "abuses" of the liturgy are corrected, Burke says.

"The pomp, the color, the splendor, the lavishness, the gold -- especially the impossibly gold vestments, the gold candlesticks, the gold statues -- is just overwhelming. This, Burke explains, is the sort of worship Jesus wants. The video is titled "The Call of Beauty." I wonder what the reaction of thoughtful Catholics might be."
Well, I'm a thoughtful Catholic, although I know McCrory probably would not agree. I suspect his definition would be something along the lines of "A thoughtful Catholic is someone who has rejected the doctrines that were taught before Vatican II [Ed: And which were never contradicted by Vatican II, I might add] and is someone who believes exactly what I, Robert McCrory believe, which is a rubber stamped set of liberal beliefs [Ed: The rubber stamp set of beliefs boil down to a perceived need for the Church to adapt to the "wisdom" of the world]."

One commenter, bucking the others' scorn for the gold and the vestments, wrote, "Look! A church that actually has people in it! Maybe the cardinal is onto something...."

So I replied to his post with the following comment. Don't know if it will pass moderation. If I was a betting woman, I would bet it won't pass.

I believe that when the enthusiastic adopters of the Novus Ordo Mass stripped the churches they threw much of the mystery and reverence out along with the marble altar rails.

On vacation [in Massachusetts] last summer, after a long time of attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form at home, I attended a Mass at a [Leicester] parish I used to attend as a child. My gorgeous niece attended with me, and I was uncomfortable that she chose to wear short shorts and a sleeveless blouse. The few other people there were dressed in beach casual clothes, so nobody seemed to mind but me. Some were overtly enthusiastic. A deacon practically ran me over as he rushed by me to hug my niece when we came in.

When I used to go to that parish as a child, they offered multiple Masses every Sunday, and the pews were full of families with young children, all dressed up as the people still dress up where I attend the traditional Latin Mass. In contrast, the NO church I attended last summer with the casually dressed congregation was practically empty, with one Mass only every Sunday.

I believe that the tolerance of American Catholics for birth control, the watering down of doctrine and a loss of reverence all have to do with the emptying of churches like that. At home, we have a small building for our Latin Mass oratory, and we don't have room for all the people who want to attend the multiple Masses every Sunday. Most Sundays there are about a dozen or more people kneeling out in the tiny vestibule.

I have read documents that record that the expressed intent of the creators of the Novus Ordo form of the Mass was to remove all elements that a Protestant would find offensive. I personally am offended by the abuses that became prevalent after the change away from the traditional Latin Mass. If you use gold vessels for the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ, you are reminded of the mystery and majesty of God, that a miracle of Transubstantion has occurred, and that you are not only participating in a community meal of bread and wine when you receive Christ in the Eucharist.

The traditional orders of priests and religious are accepting and turning away many applicants because young people want solid doctrine and respect for the mysteries. They want the plain Truth as taught by the Magisterium to believe in and the reality of Christ in His Church to give their lives for. They don't want to go to a worship service where bad improvisation in liturgical practices and in doctrine is the norm. Women with vocations don't want to wear pantsuits and fight to change the Church; they want to wear habits and obey. If God is not to be feared and obeyed in His Church, why bother getting up for Mass on Sunday anyway?

Personally, my taste is scandalized by banners that look like laundry that replaced the beautiful church decorations, and the polyester vestments in dayglow colors that replaced treasured hand-made precious, embroidered vestments. You can't even find the tabernacle in most churches these days, in case you are an odd believer who wants to genuflect. Part of what has been lost is the sense that we are offering up our treasures in our worship of the infinite God. When I was child in a poor family, I enjoyed coming to a beautiful church and feeling it be mine too. There was no velvet or mahogany or lace or stained glass in our family's crowded apartment around the corner, but we had the privilege to be able to enjoy worshipping in the midst of these beauties as often as we cared to attend "our church."
My comment did pass moderation. When I went back this morning to check, I saw the following comment. Below the new comment is my new reply.
I've often wondered how much Submitted by LFA (not verified) on Jul. 18, 2012.

I've often wondered how much of this obsession with vestments, incense, liturgical accoutrements and Gregorian chant is a by-product of men who never completed their childhood....I wonder how many of these members of the Church use it as an opportunity for cross-dressing without giving it a second thought? Seriously, why stop at the middle ages, for truer perspective return to the first century and wear a toga for God's sake something more like the apparel of Jesus Himself. This is an embarrassment and someone needs to put Burke in Gammarelli's store window and leave him there!

Ad Hominem Alert. LFA, to me, your reply is a prime example of the know-it-all practice of amateur psychoanalysis that immature people were so fond of in the 60s.

To imply that every priest who wants to celebrate the Mass in a beautiful vestment instead of in a polyester day-glo monstrosity is a cross-dressing department store window dresser is a gross example of ad hominem argumentation. When you don't have any good way to answer the arguments of the other side, do you really think it is appropriate to mock them?

Your remarks show no respect for the well-considered beliefs of a good Cardinal. Even though you disagree with him, it would be much more thoughtful to address the points he is making on their merits. A good Catholic does not slander anyone. Or do you think that kindness along with respect for those who have given their lives to serve Christ in His Church were thrown out after Vatican II and buried under the parking lot along with the altar rails?

He Lifted Up the Lowly: Musings about St. Joseph of Cupertino The Reluctant Saint

I watched The Reluctant Saint a few nights ago, after Emma, who attends the Traditional Latin Mass at the Oratory where I go, loaned me a VHS tape of the film. It had recently been shown at one of Canon Avis's movie nights in the basement of St. Margaret Mary's Church in Oakland, but I had missed it.

As I stuck the tape into my out-of-date TV (which has both a tape player and a DVD player built in), since I didn't look closely at the tape sleeve, I thought I might be in for one of those earnest, pious bioflics of Catholic saints that are so often produced these days. But soon I found to my surprise that I was enjoying a well-done Hollywood film from 1962*, with major stars, Maximillian Schell (Judgement at Nurenberg), Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek: Wrath of Khan), and several lesser known character actors in well-turned supporting roles. The saint's mother is played to comic perfection by Lea Padovani, a former smouldering-Italian-actress type who was 42 at the time the movie was made.

As it turned out, the movie is a very good, sometimes very funny, albeit strongly fictionalized portrayal of the life of 17th century St. Joseph of Cupertino. By the way, because of the saint's penchant for levitating, I had the random thought that the movie could have been subtitled The Flying Monk, but I found that (even better) he has been called by others The Flying Friar.**

Even though the opening credits say that the elements of the story are true in their essential details, St. Joseph of Cupertino's life was not much like the movie. Just for one example, he didn't have a drunken shiftless father; his father died before Guiseppe was born.

I never knew much about this saint before. Just knowing that he is the patron for the nearby city of Cupertino***, where a church is also named in his honor, I couldn't have imagined that he had been despised and abused as an idiot, as I learned in this movie.

This movie is very affecting, and I recommend it heartily, partly because I believe it could well be a source of hope and understanding for anyone who is looks with pity or dismay on someone who is considered slow or backward. As this movie shows and the Scriptures**** often state, God exalts humble people who often have no value in the world's eyes.

One thing about this saint that especially charms me, which I learned by research after I saw the movie, is his obedience. It is recorded that nothing could bring him out of his ecstasies except a command from a superior.
His life was now one long succession of visions and other heavenly favours. Everything that in any way had reference to God or holy things would bring on an ecstatic state: the sound of a bell or of church music, the mention of the name of God or of the Blessed Virgin or of a saint, any event in the life of Christ, the sacred Passion, a holy picture, the thought of the glory in heaven, all would put Joseph into contemplation. Neither dragging him about, buffeting, piercing with needles, nor even burning his flesh with candles would have any effect on him — only the voice of his superior would make him obey. Catholic Encyclopedia Online
With heavenly assistance, this so-called idiot was able to join the Franciscan order, pass stringent theological exams, and master enough Latin to eventually be ordained a Catholic priest and say Mass. His miraculous levitations were viewed by all and sundry, even Pope Urban VIII, making his story more strongly corroborated than most stories of the saints.
When he bent down to kiss the Pope's feet, he was suddenly filled with reverence for Christ's Vicar on earth, and was lifted up into the air. Only when the Minister General of the Order, who was part of the audience, ordered him down was Joseph able to return to the floor.
It is amusingly appropriate that St. Joseph of Cupertino is the patron saint of aviators, air-travelers and students.

Prayer card for students and test takers, front(R), and prayer on back (L). Click to see larger images.

I believe this dear saint was raised above his human limitations, not only spiritually but physically, because of his humility and obedience and his rapt and loving contemplation of the mysteries of the Catholic faith. As the Bible says, God lifts up the lowly and in this case, the lifting up was literal.

*This 1962 movie provides a flashback to an era, within my lifetime, when Hollywood used to make respectful movies with Catholic themes.

**"Cupertino first appears in the recorded history of the Spanish expedition of 1776 led by Don Juan Bautista de Anza. Leaving the majority of his party in Monterey, De Anza, his diarist and cartographer, [Franciscan Friar] Petrus Font, and eighteen other men pressed on into the Santa Clara Valley in March of that year. Encamped in what is now Cupertino, Font christened the creek next to the encampment the Arroyo San Giuseppe Cupertino in honor of his patron.... The Arroyo is now known as Stevens Creek."

***St. Joseph of Cupertino was called "the Flying Friar" because of his frequent levitations. Famed illustrator Tomie de Paola did illustrations for a book about him called The Little Friar Who Flew.

  • "Be humbled in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you" [James 4:10].

  • "But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise: and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong"[1 Corinthians 1:27]. "That, as it is written: He that glorieth may glory in the Lord [1 Corinthians 1-29].
  • This passage and many others say that the foolish are chosen so that no one can boast that any work of God has been done by the power of any man, but only from the power of God.
  • Mary's Magificat, "He has put down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly." [Luke 1:52].