Sunday, December 03, 2017

Questions About the Coming Consecration of California to Mary (12/9/2017)

Thousands, perhaps millions, of California Catholics are planning to attend a Mass, pray a rosary, and offer other prayers between noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 9 at various locations around the state, with the intention to consecrate California to Our Lord through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

Some wonder why a specific consecration of our state is needed, because Pope Saint John Paul II already consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on May 13, 1982. Decades before him, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary—on two separate occasions.  As someone recently asked, Is California not part of the world?

In addition to the previous world-wide consecrations—although few people know this—California was solemnly dedicated to the Mother of God one hundred and seventy four years ago. When the proposed state-wide consecration was first publicized on Facebook a few weeks ago,  Father Anthony Hernandez, pastor of Saint Basil the Great Byzantine Catholic Church, Los Gatos, pointed out that California was dedicated to Our Lady even before it was a state, and provided the following information from "Our Lady of Refuge, patroness,” from Catholic San Francisco, written by his friend, Brother John Sahama.

 "When both Alta and Baja Californias were still part of Mexico, their first bishop, Bishop Francisco Diego Garcia y Moreno, dedicated both Californias to the Mother of God under the title, Nuestra Señora del Refugio/Our Lady of Refuge, with the feast day being July 4.

“In 1843, in his official declaration of the dedication of the Californias, Bishop Garcia y Moreno wrote: ‘We make known to you that we hereby name the great Mother of God in her most precious title, del Refugio, the principal patroness of our diocese . . . With so great a patroness and protectress, what can we not promise ourselves? What can be wanting and whom need we fear? ... If through the centuries this most worthy Mother of God has shown goodness and compassion to all peoples and nations . . . will she not do likewise for those peoples who bind themselves to her as their refuge and special patroness?’

“In the American period, when Alta California became part of the United States, the feast was generally no longer observed, except in the San Diego diocese. A few decades ago the California Catholic Conference of Bishops re-adopted the feast, but on July 5th instead (as July 4 in the U.S. is Independence Day. Many missions have the image of Nuestra Señora del Refugio."

Bishop Garcia Diego made the proclamation putting the Californias under the protection of  Nuestra Señora del Refugio at Mission Santa Clara in Alta California, which became a state separate from Mexico seven years later, in 1850.

In the restored Santa Clara Mission church on the Santa Clara University campus, a painting of Our Lady of Refuge is found “above the larger picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in one of the side altar niches on the left as one nears the sanctuary. Another painting by Eulalio, a local Native American, is on display in Santa Clara University’s De Saisset Museum near the mission church.”—“Our Lady of Refuge, patroness."
Our Lady of Refuge, probably by Eulalio, at the de Saisset Museum
The image of Our Lady of Refuge became a focal point for Franciscan missionaries in the New World because it gained fame for touching the hearts of sinners wherever it was displayed. As described in Theater of a Thousand Wonders: A History of Miraculous Images and Shrines in New Spain, the first painting that later became known as Our Lady of Refuge was actually a copy of another painting titled Nuestra Senora de la Encina commissioned by Italian Jesuit missionary, Antonio Baldincucci.  Father  Baldincucci took the painting along with him as preached throughout Italy to much success. The inscription: “Refugium Peccatorum. Ora Pro Nobis” (Refuge of Sinners. Pray for Us), was added to his painting, and from that inscription came the title “Our Lady of Refuge.”

A print of the image made its way to the Franciscan Missionary College in Mexico, and later many copies of image and the painting were also made. Soon prints and paintings of the image hung in churches, chapels, and homes throughout the Californias and in many parts of northern Mexico and Texas. When copies of the painting were displayed in processions in Mexico, Our Lady of Refuge continued to inspire many conversions.
Father Baldincucci and the original painting titled Our Lady of Refuge

Today, several California parishes bear the title of Our Lady of Refuge, including the latest parish in San Jose, where the first Mass was celebrated on Sunday Feb. 18, 2011, in a former Protestant worship  building in a densely populated and previously under-served neighborhood.
Why? Why Not?

One possible reply to those who object to the planned consecration of California is another question “Why not?” Who can deny that prayers are still needed for our state?  The intentions behind this grassroots effort are to gather the laity together to pray for Our Lord’s help and Our Lady’s intercession, and a gathering of prayer like that can only help in the battle we all need to fight to combat both our own sinfulness and the besetting evils of our era.
Painted 1780, by José de Paez (1720-1795), at an unspecified location
Soledad Mission Museum, unspecified artist
In San Jose, where I live, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory at Five Wounds Portuguese National Church will join in the state-wide initiative to consecrate California on December 9. The schedule will be:
  • 12:00 noon Mass at the IES Chapel at 1401 East Santa Clara St. 95116
    If you are facing the Five Wounds Church, the chapel is to the right towards the freeway on the other side of the Cristo Rey High School building.
  • 1:00 pm Rosary
  • 1:30 pm Prayer of Consecration
More information about the event and a downloadable flyer are at Consecrate California to Mary.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

11/22/2017 Mass Below a Miraculous Crucifix that Embraced the Holy Man of Santa Clara

The day before Thanksgiving this year, on Wednesday, November 22, a group of Catholics will gather at the restored Mission Santa Clara, as they have done for the past nine years. They will attend a sung traditional Latin Mass at 6:30 p.m. and pray for the canonization of Franciscan missionary, Fr. Magin Catala, on the 187th anniversary of his death. Anyone who happens to be in the area is encouraged to attend that Mass.

Fr. Catala was assigned to Mission Santa Clara in 1796, nineteen years after the mission was founded by Saint Junipero Serra in 1777, and he labored there with love and great personal sacrifice for thirty-six years until his death.

According to contemporary eye-witness accounts, Fr. Catala was a mystic, a miracle worker, an exorcist, a prophet, and a wonderfully holy man. A free-for-download 1909 book titled The Holy Man of Santa Clara, (by Fr. Zaephyrin Engelhardt, O.F.M., published by The James H. Barry Company, San Francisco) describes the miraculous events of his life.

The book records the reports of many reliable witnesses (whose hand-written letters still can be viewed in the University of Santa Clara Library Archives). They tell that they saw Fr. Catala levitate when he prayed in front of a crucifix, and that the figure of Christ detached his hands from the cross and laid them on Fr. Catala’s shoulders.

That very same life-sized crucifix hangs over the altar where Wednesday’s Mass will be celebrated.

A marble marker on the left of the altar marks where the remains of Fr. Catala are buried. Although the gold that originally filled the inscription has since worn away, the letters are still legible.

Another fascinating detail about his life is that only did Fr. Catala levitate like St. Joseph of Cupertino, he was also reportedly seen several times during his life in two places at once, bilocating like St. Padre Pio.
Fifty-four years after he died in 1830, Fr. Catala's cause for canonization was taken up by Archbishop Alemany, the first bishop of San Francisco. Testimony about his life and virtue was submitted to Rome in 1909, but the cause for canonization of this worthy servant of God has stalled for the past 108 years. 

Perhaps you may wish to offer prayers on your own for this cause if you cannot attend the Mass.

If you are interested in attending, you can find the restored Mission Santa Clara Church on the University of Santa Clara campus, at the end of Palm Drive, which is the main drive. Ask directions for parking at the campus entrance, which is located 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053. Be aware that you cannot drive to the entrance of the Mission Church, and the distance between the parking areas and the mission entrance presents a problem for some people who have trouble walking. (Click the map to see a larger view.)

Following are some remarkable prophecies from The Holy Man of Santa Clara:
“It appears that Almighty God in those days allowed His servant a distinct view of the future of California. There were still many witnesses alive in 1884 who under oath declared that the holy man had preached substantially as follows: People from almost all the nations of the earth will come to this coast. Another flag will come from the East and the people that follow it will speak an altogether different language, and they will have a different religion. These people will take possession of the country and the lands. On account of their sins the Californians will lose their lands and become poor, and many of their children's children will give up their own religion.
“‘The Indians will be dispersed, and will not know what to do, and they will be like sheep running wild. Heretics will erect church buildings, but these will not be true temples of God. Sons will be against their fathers, and fathers against their sons, and brother will be against brother. The coming of so many people will create great scarcity, so that a measure of wheat will be bought for its weight in gold. ‘Una fanega de trigo se compraria a peso de oro.’ As a consequence, much distress will come upon the Indians and Californians. ‘I shall not see this,’ he exclaimed, ‘but there are those alive that will see it.’”


Friday, November 10, 2017

Ecce Agnus Dei: The Priest's Fourth Turn Away from the Altar during the Traditional Latin Mass

The priest holds up the consecrated host during the Ecce Agnus Dei
Did you know that priest turns to face the people, versus populum, seven times during the traditional Latin Mass? During the rest of the Mass, the priest faces the altar, which is located at the "liturgical East" end of the Church, and so, for most of the Mass, the priest is facing in the same direction as the people, towards the Lord.
"For us, the light is Jesus Christ. All the Church is oriented, facing East, toward Christ: ad Dominum." "Cardinal Sarah: ‘How to Put God Back at the Center of the Liturgy’ at the National Catholic Register
The fourth turn of the priest away from the altar during Mass occurs at the prayer "Ecce Agnus Dei." The priest recites this prayer when displaying the consecrated Host to the people before giving them Holy Communion. He says: "Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi. Beati qui ad cenam Agni vocati sunt" ("Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb").  

Why is Christ called the Lamb of God? Christ as the Passover Lamb is prophesied in the Old Testament and clearly identified in the New.

 “Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer, he was silent and opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).  

The Torah instructed the Jews to observe the Feast of Passover, to recall the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Every year at the Passover feast, Jews ate a "lamb without blemish," to remind them of how the night before they fled Egypt, the Jews were instructed to sacrifice and eat a lamb and paint its blood over their doors.  When God sent angels that night to destroy the first-born of the Egyptians, in punishment for the Pharoah's refusal to let His people go, the angels spared (passed over) His people who were protected by the blood of the Pascal Lamb.  

In the New Testament, Christ is called the Lamb of God by St. John the Baptist in the Gospel of John the Evangelist, and He is revealed as the triumphant Lamb in heaven in the Book of Revelation. Christ instituted the Eucharist during His Last Supper, which was a Passover meal. John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him, and he said: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world." 

St. Peter wrote, “Realize that you were delivered from the futile way of life your fathers handed on to you, not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ’s blood beyond all price, the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb…”  

This closing quote from Catholic Straight Answers  is from an excellent article that provides many rich details to more-completely answer the question "Why is Jesus called the 'Lamb of God'?”  
"The Book of Revelation highlights this notion picturing the Lamb surrounded by angels, the “living creatures,” and elders, who cried out, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12).  Jesus is the King of kings, and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14) who will be victorious against the powers of evil and will invite the righteous to the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), the union of the Church, the new Jerusalem, in heaven with the Lord."
San Vito (Treviso) - Parte Romane del XII secolo
Christ surrounded by the apostles with the Paschal Lamb at the center of the arch. San Vito of Treviso, Italy - Chapel of the Redeemer - twelfth century, by Ognibene of Treviso.  By Didier Descouens (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Comm

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Father Rutler Sets Me Straight About the Altar of Sacrifice

Main [Standalone] Altar at St. Peter's Basilica Rome
It all started after Father George W. Rutler agreed to let me interview him for The Latin Mass Magazine after I conducted an email interview with him for Homiletic and Pastoral Review a few months ago[1].

In one question, I asked his opinion about the disputed topic of whether or not Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s Apostolic Constitution on the liturgy published in December 1963, was implemented correctly in the Mass of Pope Paul VI that was mandated at the start of Advent in 1969.

Even now, almost 50 years later, lot of people argue in favor of rethinking some of the changes that were made, including the Church Music Association of America President, Stanford Professor William P. Mahrt [2], along with many others in the CMAA, contributors to the New Liturgical Movement website, and scholars of the liturgical changes of the twentieth century around the world.

Many of the changes that were made to the form of the Mass, the music, the vestments, and even the furnishings and arrangement of churches after the Second Vatican Council were not actually called for in Sacrosanctum Concilium—and in some cases the changes contradicted what Sacrosanctum Concilium literally said.  That line of thinking goes: since some changes were not explicitly required, such as the versus populum posture of the priest, those changes might easily be reversed in Ordinary Form Masses without undermining the reforms.

Others believe that Sacrosanctum Concilium
was deliberately and appropriately worded to leave the way open for additional changes beyond what was explicitly set down. Those who think that way believe that the Ordinary Form Mass as it is ordinarily celebrated now is the correct and complete interpretation of the directives in Sacrosanctum Concilium, and it should be left as it is currently celebrated.

In August of this year. Pope Francis stated that “the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI have by now been universally used in the Roman rite for almost fifty years,” and that there is no possibility of a rethinking of the decisions behind the liturgical changes. And he ended by saying, “we can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

(See Sacrosanctum Concilium A Lawyer Examines the Loopholes for a discussion of the differences between the two points of view.)

Alas, it turned out that Father Rutler was not going to address this thorny topic, among many others that I raised. He wrote me back that he had pressing obligations that would prevent him from answering my extensive questions in the limited time before the deadline for the next issue of the magazine. In his email, he made a few general remarks, and he provided some links to some of his essays about related topics.

Father Rutler replied in detail only about one item out of the following list of changes not in Sacrosanctum Concilium that I had brainstormed to ask him about:

           The almost universal change away from the priest facing ad orientem to versus populum
           Removal of altar rails
           Female altar servers
           Communion in the hand
           Standing instead of kneeling after Communion
           Free-standing altar tables
           Resurrection images replacing crucifixes over the altar
           Churches in the round
           Iconoclasm (removal of images of saints)
           Lay lectors
           Lay ministers of Communion
           Vernacular-only Masses
           The abolishment of Latin and Gregorian chant
           The disuse of the organ
           Hymn singing (the Four-Hymn Sandwich[3]) replacing the sung propers and ordinary

The one thing Father Rutler focused on from that list in his reply was free-standing altar tables. I can’t say whether his silence on the other items implies that he agrees that the others were not mandated by Vatican II, but here is what Father Rutler wrote about that one thing:

“You refer to a ‘free standing table’ when in fact the liturgical guidelines refer to it as an Altar of Sacrifice.  There is nothing about a free standing altar that is inconsistent with traditional liturgy. In fact, the ‘shelf altar‘  is of a later development. Indeed, the ‘fixed tabernacle‘ on the wall attached to the altar developed in the 16th century.  The first to institute it was Cardinal Pole in England.  All the pontifical basilicas in Rome and most elsewhere have always had free standing altars and I say the Ordinary Form ad orientem at a free standing altar.”
I stand corrected. As Daniel Page, one of my Facebook friends from the Church Music Association of America,  commented when I posted about this interchange in my status,
“Yes, those of us who value traditional liturgy always have to be careful to know when the iterations of things existing soon before the cultural and ecclesiastical revolutions of the '60s and '70s were longstanding forms and when they were subject to continuous development (in the Newman sense, of course).”

It’s true that some who reacted with dismay to the changes believe--sometimes erroneously--that the way all things were done at Mass and the way churches were arranged and furnished before Vatican II all were of profound spiritual significance and should not be have been tampered with. I think it’s safe to say this misunderstanding of mine about the widespread change from shelf altars to altars that can be walked around indicates a wider problem.  There is a backstory of emotional trauma behind some people’s reactions against the changes that came down after Vatican II. 

To focus with Father Rutler just on the almost universal change from shelf altar to standalone altar after the council, the worship environment committees in many dioceses directed parish councils in remodeling projects that resulted in the removal of venerable altars that were often irreplaceable works of art.  In many cases, parishioners often witnessed the destruction of beautiful altars that had been in their churches as long as anyone could remember. 

Many of them had never seen a freestanding altar like the ones in St. Peter’s and the other major basilicas in Rome. And it often happened that they themselves or their parents or grandparents had sacrificially donated hard-earned money for the construction of their churches, and so they were understandably devastated when the costly altar and other valuable and treasured elements of church decor were ripped out, buried in church parking lots, sent to the dump, or sold to junk dealers.  We owe some compassion to those who suffered from these kind of changes—which were often made with brutal disregard for both aesthetics and sentiment.

Many of us remember how many priceless artifacts made of precious materials were thrown away during that time. In the mid-1960s in the South End of Boston, when I was living a bohemian lifestyle the year after I lost my faith as a college freshman, I remember seeing church furnishings often in the brownstone apartments of artists, bohemians, and other free thinkers. They thought it was ironic and quite hip to be able to pick up kneelers and altars and the like dirt cheap from salvage dealers and use them as parlor furniture.

Close to where I live now in my northside San Jose, CA, neighborhood, Holy Cross Church is another case in point.  Some 60-year-old oil-painted stations of the Cross, a scaled-down version of Michelangelo’s Pieta, a high altar, the altar rails, and a hand-carved, painted, and gilded wooden crucifix, all from Italy, were thrown out when the interior was remodeled in the 1960s.

The broken crucifix and a few other items were saved from trash pickup only because the janitor brought the pieces home and kept them in her garage. When the crucifix was restored and replaced in the church after the janitor’s death 40 years later, in time for the church’s 100th anniversary, the church had been changed so much by succeeding pastors that the crucifix looked quite out of place.

Whereas the crucifix originally hung from the half dome over a shelf altar with six large impressive candlesticks and an ornate tabernacle, the restored crucifix was mounted on a pole behind the altar table, or, I should more properly say, the altar of sacrifice.  The crucifix was flanked a bit incongruously by two small oak tables for holding flower arrangements.

The church walls had been repainted to hide the previous decorative flourishes, and most of the statues had been removed.  The half dome had in the meantime been covered by a mural painted on canvas by a local artist. (He told a reporter once that he painted on canvas because he didn’t know how to do frescoe painting.) The painting portrayed Christ rising to heaven above a hill with three empty crosses, in the middle of a range of hills that resembled the foothills that surround Santa Clara Valley. The restored crucifix tipped a little to the left on its pole and obscured part of the mural.  The effect was disappointing to say the least. 

When the church burnt down three years ago and the roof fell in, the crucifix remarkably survived with little damage, even though pieces of the canvas from the burned dome painting had fallen and draped themselves over the head of the figure of Christ. 

The plans for the new church building include the crucifix, but no half dome. From the architect’s mock-ups I’ve seen, the crucifix will hang behind a plain stone altar against a curved background of rectangular pieces of non-figurative blue-green art glass such as one might see in a hotel or office lobby, and--aside from the old stained glass windows that also survived the fire--that much-assailed phoenix-like crucifix may be the only thing of lasting beauty to be seen in the new church, aside from the holy sacrifice of the Mass, of course. The altar is not the focus of the design. It seems to float there without any special significance.
It should also be mentioned that the removal of the high altars  from Catholic churches reminded some who know their history about the actions of Cardinal Thomas Cranmer, who was Henry VIII’s Archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer Protestantized the theology of the Mass so that the consecrated bread and wine were not offered as a sacrifice but as a memorial, and ornate altars were replaced with wooden communion tables.  Some who compare the Mass of 1969 with the previously issued Mass of 1962 say that the sacrificial aspect of the Mass is not mentioned nearly as much in the latest version, and it is quite understandable that the removal of the main altar might be thought to be a comparable act that attempted to Protestantize the celebration of the Eucharist.

I wrote this in my return email to Father Rutler:
“You are right, of course. Who knew? When those of us who were used to worship at Catholic Churches with high altars saw the sometimes beautiful marble altars trashed and replaced with what looks like a free-standing table, many of us were reminded of Cranmer's table.. ”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote these sympathetic words in his letter to the bishops that accompanied his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which loosened restrictions on the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass: “And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.”

Similarly, have we not also seen how seemingly arbitrary deformations of church interiors have also caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith?

[1] At Homiletic and Pastoral Review: “In Heaven, There Is Only Singing: A Review of Two of Father Rutler's Books, and an Interview with the Author

[2] In National Catholic Register: "Gregorian Champ"

In Regina Magazine:
"Miracle in Palo Alto: How The St. Ann Choir Kept Chant and Polyphony Alive for 50 Years"

[3] At Homiletic and Pastoral Review: “Propers of the Mass Versus the Four-Hymn Sandwich” January 15, 2016

At The New Liturgical Movement: Fr. Samuel Weber’s “The Proper of the Mass": An Interview with Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

[4] "Prominent among the liturgical innovations which prepared the way for or accompanied the 1549 Prayer Book were the principles that the liturgy must be in the vernacular and audible throughout; Communion under both kinds; a new order of Communion to be used with the old Mass; the replacement of altars with tables."--"Excerpts From Liturgical Revolution, Cranmer's Godly Order by Michael Davies

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Visit to Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ and here are some recollections of my too-brief visit to Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration, in 2005.

Wild Ride to the Mount of the Transfiguration

The first day we stayed on Mount Carmel, we rode off to visit Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration. We had to disembark from our buses at the bottom of Mount Tabor and wait a long time at a taxi stand where local Arab drivers pick up and ferry tourists up the serpentine road to the top.

Pilgrimage Group at the Taxi Stand, Fr. Koller Front Right
Whenever I remember my taxi ride to Mount Tabor I'm reminded of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Wind in the Willows. I was in the back seat on the passenger side, and ascetic Fr. Koller was in the middle.  As we sped along each of the sixteen or so hairpin switchbacks, even though I tried to hold onto anything within grasping distance, even going so far as trying to hold onto the fabric on the roof with my fingernails, the slender monk and not so slender I were thrown onto each other, back and forth, all the embarrassing way to the top.
Prohibito: Skimpy clothes, smoking, eating, guns, loud talking, animals

The Latin inscription on this mural in the Church of the Transfiguration reads, “And he was transfigured before them.”

Then after we finally got there, we were only allowed to stay a few minutes. I was so strongly moved by being at the site where Moses and Elijah had appeared with Christ at His Transfiguration in the presence of Saints Peter and John that when the tour guide told us it was time to go, I started to cry, and I told him I didn’t want to leave. Finally he persuaded me, and I reluctantly walked back to the taxi stand with tears streaming down my face while he gently but firmly propelled me along with his arm around my shoulders.

Excerpted from a three part series, "Carmelites Visit Mount Carmel", published at Dappled Things.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Improvisation: Good for Comedy, Bad for Catholic Liturgy

I wasn't around for the change-over to the Mass of 1969 because I left the Church in the mid-1960s and didn't return until the mid-1970s. From what I've heard and read, many devout Catholics who might have otherwise accepted the new Mass when it was first introduced at the start of the 1969-1970 liturgical year were turned off because many priests seemed to think the new Missal gave them permission−or even required them−to improvise.

After much experimentation with the Mass in local parishes while the Second Vatican Council[1] was in session, the Mass of Blessed Pope Paul VI was universally mandated for the Roman rite in 1969 after the council ended. To the dismay of many Catholics (and non-Catholics[2]), the artistically advanced and reverent form of the Mass that developed over centuries had been forbidden. Even though I started out obediently accepting the change, eventually I began to think that most Masses I attended were being celebrated in many cases as a Catholic-lite version of Ted Mack Amateur hour[3].  

I also often think of  Mother Angelica's quip to her biographer Raymond Arroyo that in many parishes, the  Catholic Church had become the Electric Church, because, "Every time you go you get a shock." I was happy to read that she said that; at last someone actually agreed with me there were abuses to be shocked about.

When I had left the Church in 1963, I had been a college freshman with a big head full of intellectual pridefulness. When I came back a humbled believer in the mid-1970s, after trying out just about every other competing set of beliefs along a spectrum from existentialist rejection of bourgeois mores to hippy LSD experimentation to Protestant fundamentalism, to my surprise I found that the Church I had thought I was coming back to was practically unrecognizable.

At first I obediently accepted the changed Mass in English with the priest facing the people along with more participation by lay people, because I had learned to love and trust the Church and Her decisions. However, I grew over the ensuing years to be uncomfortable with what Pope Benedict XVI later called deformations of the liturgy and other related changes that I witnessed week after week in dozens of churches all over the country. I was not shocked at what the Church actually mandated but by the innovations made according to the supposed "spirit of Vatican II."

Shock and Dismay

Over the years, I noticed a lot of disturbing things. During Mass, Christ and His sacrifice were often no longer the focus. Everyone was looking at each other. The priests were often playing to the crowd, sometimes even cracking off color jokes or reviewing R rated movies in their homilies. People unabashedly living "inappropriate" moral lives were handing out Communion. The communion bread was sometimes made with illicit ingredients, and sometimes Eucharistic Ministers were disposing of the leftover Body and Blood of Christ sacrilegiously. Musicians were self-serving and seeking applause, the instruments used and the rhythms were not appropriate for worship, the words in the songs were no longer the words of the Mass and were often doctrinally incorrect. For centuries when singing had been done at a Mass, the words of the Mass were sung. The change to hymn singing actually began years before the council, but the idea of singing the Mass had been forgotten in most places and music directors were leading the singing of any old thing at Mass.

Here is just a random sampling of specific shocks that come to my recollection:  I remember a children's Mass with a five foot tall Snoopy stuffed toy seated in one of the presiders' chairs behind the altar, creating what I was convinced would be a natural conflation in the young Catholics' minds between the unreality of a cartoon character and the realities of the Mass. That church in a prosperous community looked like an auditorium, and it had mostly folding chairs for seating and no kneelers. A jazz ensemble with a big piano, drums, and electric guitars prominently located to the left of the altar table provided the music. Soon after that Snoopy Mass, the woman who staged it left her job as youth coordinator at the parish and the Catholic Church after a divorce, for a denomination that allows remarriage, which to me is an indication of how shallow her relationship with the Church must have been.

In the first church I attended after my return to faith in Minneapolis, I remember a woman who told me she was serially promiscuous every night of the week; every Sunday at Mass, she acted as a Eucharistic Minister. She gazed into communicants' eyes, said "Receive the Body and Blood of Christ" followed by the person's name. Then she handed out chunks of communion bread made with baking powder, milk, sugar, and whole wheat, while a group of long-haired men and women with guitars sang and strummed songs in front of the altar.  At another church on the west coast, I heard unformed Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist discuss whether they should bother drinking the large amount of remaining consecrated wine left over after Mass or pour it down the drain.

The Sunday before Pentecost one year, I was appalled at the sight of dusty, tangled, white banners left over from Easter hanging from the ceiling looking like laundry left outside after a windstorm. Another year during the midnight Mass for Christmas, I heard a man dressed in black with silver studded cowboy boots and a cowboy hat sing and play the atheist anthem "Imagine" on a black and silver electric guitar.

And this is another grievous thing I cannot unremember. I saw a priest, the chaplain at a Franciscan retreat house, who acted out the Gospel of the Sunday in the middle of the aisle; after reciting a passage in which Jesus spoke against divorce, the priest in his homily assured the congregation that Jesus wasn't actually against divorce, that the passage he had just read was an interpolation by the "Matthew" community, who had created that particular Gospel according to their own agenda. When he was done, a group of Franciscan religious sisters in sweat shirts and jeans danced "the gifts" up to the altar. When I asked the priest later in his book-lined study how he could contradict the words of Christ, he told me that a prominent theologian had said so. That was the first time I heard anyone imply that theologians were allowed to redefine doctrine.

But then I had glimpsed something along that line at the University of Minnesota Newman Center soon after I'd returned to the Church; I saw an issue of the Jesuit America magazine on the chaplain's desk with the title of one the articles inside: "Should Divorce Be a Sacrament?" written by a religious sister with a degree in theology. These are just a few of many instances I have witnessed where theological speculation was being taught as if it was defined doctrine, even when the speculations had been identified as false by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Because many of the proponents were out of sympathy with Rome (for example, one "moral theologian" taught his classes that it would be morally infantile to follow the Pope and the Magisterium), the CDF condemnations didn't have any effect on what was being taught[4].

Some rogue theological positions I have been exposed to in homilies and in classes taught by professors at Catholic universities and by diocesan clerics, including a bishop, are the following: the Vatican II teachings on the role of the laity in the Church means that lay people, male or female in any state of life can and should be able to lead parishes[5], the Eucharist forgives mortal sins[6], lay people will be able to consecrate the Eucharist, and authority and doctrine comes from below in the local churches. Besides all this, many of them claimed, morality has to change, and we all have to make up our own moral rules.

Along with the deformations of liturgy, I realize I've also described deformations in the worship environment, in the roles of the laity during Mass, and in doctrine, but its obvious at least to me that they often go hand in hand.

Pope Benedict frankly wrote against what he called "deformations of the liturgy" in his instruction to the bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum in 2007.  The now-Pope-Emeritus observed that many fervent Catholics wanted to hold onto the old form of the liturgy, not because they are sentimentally attached to the older form, as their critics believe, but because many uncalled-for innovations were introduced into celebrations of the new form of the liturgy, innovations that deformed the new Mass and hid its merits.
The desire of at least some of those who wanted to recover the old form of liturgy 'occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorising or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear ... caus(ing) deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.'”
Pope Benedict recommended more faithful observance of the Missal of Paul VI as the only way to prove that the new Mass could be as spiritually rich and theologically deep as the form of the Mass it had replaced: "The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."

Baffled at the Ostracism

It is not only shocking but also baffling for me to find out that during the past almost-fifty years, those who loved the beauty and reverence of the pre-Councilar Mass were suddenly totally denied access to it and and were belittled for their preference. I also found out that Priests were punished who wanted to keep on celebrating it. Dissent among the laity was labeled immature, dissent among the clergy was labeled divisiveness, and dissent was not allowed.

For example, Father William Young of San Francisco, who was in his late 70s when I interviewed him about four years ago, began to love the traditional Latin Mass as an altar boy. By the time he was in seminary, the new Mass was the only Mass allowed.  After a while in a parish assignment, he decided he would not say the new Mass any longer. He said it wasn't that he and other priests like him believed the new Mass was invalid. They objected because they believed it was doctrinally and aesthetically inferior.

Father Young was relieved when the archdiocesan human resources director assigned him to an out of the way hospital ministry in which he was allowed to continue to say the pre-1969 Mass, because the archdiocese thought that would contain his "divisiveness." Other diocesan priests he knew who continued to say the traditional Mass were removed by their bishops from their ministries. People started hiring priests under the radar to celebrate traditional Latin Masses in private homes and meeting rooms.

After thirty years of all this, I joined the St. Ann Choir under Prof. William Mahrt[7] in Palo Alto because they were singing chant, which I had learned in grammar school, and thought I knew. The beauty of the chanted liturgy was opened to me, along with the enormous amount and variety of chants for the Latin rite. The choir sang at Ordinary Form Masses, but the choir was singing the ancient Gregorian chant, along with polyphonic motets, and the music was beautiful. After a while I found I did not want to go back to other Masses where the traditional sacred music was lacking. Then in 2007, after Summorum Pontificum came out, I started singing with a new choir that was forming at an Oratory where only the traditional Latin Mass was being celebrated. The Second Vatican Council document on the liturgy mandated that Latin be retained, never outlawed ad orientem, and encouraged the singing of Gregorian chant as a treasured part of our Church's sacred patrimony. So there is no rebellion or disobedience when these practices are followed. The improvisers are the ones that are rebellious and disobedient.  And if the traditional Latin Mass is often the only place to find a reverent Mass with appropriate sacred music, that's where my preference lays.

Another Kind of Martyrdom

It must have been heartbreaking for those who lived through the changes that were made at one blow on the first Sunday of Advent in 1969 with no exceptions allowed. It makes me sad to hear about what happened to lovers of the traditional Latin Mass, especially about the disdain that came their way. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger said the following about how people who loved the traditional form of the Mass were treated as lepers and how intolerant his otherwise tolerant "episcopal brethren" were being.
For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her present if things are that way? I must say, quite openly, that I don’t understand why so any of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reason is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliations within the Church. … I must say, quite openly, that I don't understand why so many of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance… ." - J. Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002, 416.
I pray for an end to the intolerance and an end to the deformations, in the church environment, in the roles of the laity, in doctrine, and in the liturgy itself.

Even though I don't have space to go into more detail here, I want to mention that San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone started several initiatives to not only make the Extraordinary Form Mass more available but also to  help to remove the deformations in how the Ordinary Form of the Mass is sometimes celebrated. To that end, for example, he created the aptly named Benedict XVI Institute of Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy at the St. Patrick's Archdiocesan Seminary to educate interested seminarians in the Extraordinary Form. Importantly, a primary goal of the Institute is to form both future priests and any laity who perform ministries during Ordinary Form Masses so they can celebrate and worship at the Mass reverently in a manner consistent with actual Church liturgical directives and authentic doctrine[. 

[1]"[T]he form of the Mass seemed to be changing by the month, and no sooner had one novelty been introduced then it was replaced very quickly by something else. A number of priests took the opportunity to introduce their own whims and fancies, which only exacerbated the problem[1]." − "The 1971 'English' Indult - a Recollection"

[2] "The Fascinating Story of the Agatha Christi Indult" describes how a petition was circulated among musicians, artists, writers, and intellectuals to request that the traditional Latin Mass be allowed to be frequently and regularly be celebrated alongside the new Mass in the local languages. The appeal compared the planned obliteration of the centuries-old Mass to a senseless decree that would destroy equally venerable basilicas or cathedrals. Agatha Christi was one of several non-Catholic writers, artists, and other intellectuals who signed it. As the story goes, Pope Paul VI responded favorably to the appeal because he recognized Agatha Christi's name, and he granted permission for the traditional form of the Latin Mass to be celebrated, but only on special occasions with the consent of the local Roman Catholic bishop, but only in England and Wales.

[3] The Ted Mack Amateur Hour when I saw it as a child was a TV show on which amateurs competed for prizes. Their order of appearance was determined by spinning a wheel. As the wheel went around, the announcer would say, “Round and round she goes and where she stops nobody knows.” Nobody knows indeed.

[4] "No Recipe for Morality Says Bay-Area Jesuit"

[5] "Ordination's No Object: San Jose Diocese's Continuing Revolution"

[6] "Is Penance Relevant? What San Jose Diocese Teaches Lay Leaders about the Sacraments"

[7] "Miracle in Palo Alto: How the St. Ann Choir Kept Chant and Polyphony Alive for 50 Years"

[8] "Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone: Leading By Example"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Miracle and the Hope: Cardinal Kung's Requiem and Burial

Five Wounds Portuguese National Church before a Requiem Mass
Many think it was providential that Ignatius Cardinal Kung of Shanghai got his wish to have a traditional Requiem Mass in spite of how it was nearly impossible to get permission for the pre-Vatican II form of the Mass at the time of Kung's death in 2000. This story describe why the permission was requested, and how the permission was obtained—after a few setbacks. This story also tells about the hope that motivated Cardinal Kung's nephew to bury his uncle in Santa Clara, California, far from his uncle's place of death on the East Coast of the U.S. and even farther from the Shanghai Cathedral where exiled Cardinal Kung had longed to be buried under the altar as its bishop.

This is a follow-up to another article about the Cardinal Kung: "Bishop Kung Was Tricky That Way, and Other Stories of the Saintly, Stubborn, Persecuted Ignatius Ping-Mei Kung of Shanghai."

To briefly summarize the main points of his life: Father Ignatius Kung, a fifth generation Chinese Catholic, was ordained Bishop of Shanghai just before the Communists took over China, and he was imprisoned in 1950 for thirty years because he would not renounce the pope and join the Chinese Patriotic Association that the Communists created as a local version of the Church under their control. Five years after his arrest, Kung was convicted of treason and sentenced to life. While he was in prison, he was forbidden to correspond with anyone, even family members, forbidden to say Mass, and not permitted to read the Bible.

During his imprisonment, the world did not forget his heroic sacrifice. Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his Mission magazine in 1957: “The West has its Mindszenty, but the East has its Kung.” (Jozsef Mindszenty, as you may already know, was the leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary, who was given a life sentence by the Communists in 1949 because of his resistance to the their policies.)

In 1979, while still in prison, Kung was named a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in pectore. In pectore means secretly, in the heart of the Pope. Elevations in pectore are sometimes done when a pope wants to honor a cleric while not putting him or other Catholics in danger in a situation where the Church is being persecuted.

Cardinal Kung's Death in CT

When Ignatius Cardinal Kung died in March of 2000 at the age of 98, he was in exile far away from his Shanghai homeland, living in his nephew's home in Stamford, CT.  As Fr. George W. Rutler wrote in a Crisis magazine article, when Kung first went to Hong Kong from Shanghai for medical care after his release, he had been unsettled by how much had changed in the Church while he had been in prison. Just for one small example, Kung "was amazed that Catholics no longer observed the Friday abstinence that he had kept for 30 meatless years."

Kung preferred the traditional Latin Mass partly because Latin was (and still is) the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. The Communist authorities preferred Chinese-language Masses because they were more in keeping with their goals to have their patriotic association replace the Catholic Church. Catholics who resisted the patriotic association went underground, and years after the priests who had joined the patriotic association started celebrating the newer form of the Mass, priests in the underground Church had kept on celebrating the older form.

In order to realize how difficult it was going to be for Cardinal Kung's friends and relatives to be able to arrange for a traditional Requiem Mass after he died, you have to realize that after the revised Mass of 1969, now called the Ordinary Form, was introduced, the new form of the Mass became almost the only Mass there was for the Roman rite of the Catholic Church all over the world. The older form of the Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form, was almost completely banned in practice along with Latin, and along with Gregorian chant, between 1969 and 1982, and the Extraordinary Form Mass was still greatly restricted in the year of Kung's death.

Cardinal Kung's Requiem Mass in CA

Cardinal Kung's Requiem Mass was remarkable because it was unusual in many ways.

The year 2000 was thirty-one years after the virtual ban of Latin and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, along with Gregorian Chant, after the Second Vatican council. When Cardinal Kung died, sixteen years after the 1984 indult that allowed bishops to give permission in some cases for the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated, and twelve years after the 1988 motu proprio in which Pope Saint John Paul II urged a "wide and generous" application of the 1984 indult, permission was still hard to come by.

Ignatius Kung died seven years before Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum further relaxed restrictions against the traditional Latin Mass and opened the way for more frequent celebrations.

Five Wounds Portuguese National Church
Arrangements were made for the Requiem Mass to be celebrated at the Five Wounds Portuguese National Church in San Jose. Five Wounds is a distinctive church modeled on a Portuguese basilica, which preserved its traditional arrangement after the Second Vatican Council. To this day, the building still has a high altar at the top of many steps with an altar rail at the bottom, rows of pews face the altar, and scores of statues of saints abound. The only architectural modification to suit the new Mass that is apparent in Five Wounds Church is the insertion of a freestanding altar in front of the high altar, to allow what is now the usual celebration of the Mass with the priest facing ad populum, towards the congregation.

For a while, things seemed to be going smoothly. Cardinal Kung would not only get his wish for Requiem Mass, but Cardinal Shan of Taiwan agreed to celebrate a Pontifical Requiem Mass in his honor.
Then Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose gave permission for Kung’s Requiem Mass, but with one restriction, that the Mass would be celebrated facing the congregation in the ad populum direction.

In the celebration of Extraordinary Form Masses, the priest faces the altar, which is understood to be the "liturgical East," so that posture is called ad orientem. The symbolism behind ad orientem celebrations of the Mass can be glimpsed in the definition of the Latin word orientem, which means: daybreak, dawn, sunrise, east. The sun rises in the East, Christ is called the Sun of Justice, the dawn from on high, and His Second Coming is expected from the east.

Some people have been taught to believe a priest facing ad orientem is offensive because the priest is "turning his back to the people." But the result of the priest praying the Mass ad orientem is to take the focus away from the priest and to focus our attention on God. In that way, the priest together with the people face together in the direction from which we look for the Second Coming of the Lord. Even though the ad populum orientation became common after Vatican II, the council did not mandate it.

When the bishop of San Jose at first made his stipulation, consternation ensued. It must have been hard to imagine how the ad populum orientation could have been carried off in an Extraordinary Form Pontifical Mass. Then at some point, to the relief of all those who were trying to organize the Mass, the bishop changed his mind, and he agreed to allow Cardinal Kung’s Requiem Mass to be celebrated ad orientem.

Some say that the bishop removed his restriction because Cardinal Shan of Taiwan was going to be the celebrant, and it would be impolitic to contradict the wishes of a living Cardinal, even if he was willing to contradict the wishes of a dead one.

Cardinal Kung’s nephew, Joseph Kung, has written at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website that the bishop’s change of heart was due to intercessory prayers of the his dead uncle, and also that the bishop's allowing them to celebrate the traditional Requiem facing the liturgical East was Kung’s first miracle.

On March 20, 2000, an astounding one thousand people attended Cardinal Kung’s Pontifical High Requiem Mass. The St. Ann Choir sang the Gregorian chant for the Mass along with Renaissance polyphony under the direction of Stanford Musicology Professor William P. Mahrt.

The St. Ann Choir is also remarkable for its endurance, because it had providentially been able to keep on singing Gregorian chant and polyphony at Masses in nearby Palo Alto for more than thirty years by then before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council, long after that type of Sacred Music was virtually banned. (For more about the St. Ann Choir's remarkable achievement, see Miracle in Palo Alto: How the St. Ann Choir Kept Chant and Polyphony Alive for 50 Years.)
Requiem Mass at Five Wounds in 2009

The choir sang the hymn “Tu Es Petrus” (You are Peter), which uses the words Christ used when He made Peter head of the Church. For those who know the stories of Kung's life, as described in the article mentioned earlier, “Tu Es Petrus” was a poignant reminder of Kung’s long martyrdom. In addition, “Tu Es Petrus” was a celebration of the canny way Kung was able to convey his courageous refusal to deny the pope to Cardinal Sin in the face of Communists trying to keep them apart during a show visit.

Kevin Rossiter, who had only recently joined the St. Ann Choir at the time of Kung’s funeral, sent me these recollections.“There were a lot of photographers and people apparently from the (non-communist) Chinese press. The homily alternated between Chinese and English and was very good, telling the usual stories about him (the show-trial, about the singing “Tu Es Petrus” ) but also explaining his political strategy from very early on (e.g., in preparing lay catechists for the time when he knew the church would have to go underground). The cardinal used the occasion to announce the beginning of the case for his canonization. The cards for the funeral with his picture were very beautiful—I have one somewhere, but it has been misplaced during moves, so it's still probably in a box or pressed into a book. Those are the things I remember most. The atmosphere was very joyful.”

Choir Director Professor Mahrt shared some of his recollections of Kung’s Requiem Mass also. “At some point the casket was opened for the congregation to pay their respects, and all filed by the casket. At the time I thought, ‘I will probably never again witness the funeral of a saint or see him resting in a coffin.’”

Burial in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery

After the Requiem Mass, Cardinal Kung’s body was interred in an above-ground vault in the Saint Clare Chapel at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery.

Before I knew anything about Cardinal Kung, somebody pointed out his marker to me at the doorway to the chapel, and I wondered how it came about that a Shanghai cardinal came to be interred there. Now I understand.

Six years previously, the body of Archbishop Dominic Tang of Canton, another Chinese member of the Church's hierarchy and friend of Cardinal Kung, had been placed in a nearby vault. In a chapter about Archbishop Tang in his book Cloud of Witnesses, Fr. George Rutler recounted that when Dominic Tang was a young priest in Shanghai, Tang “cycled with his friend Rev. Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei from parish to parish to hear confessions.” Tang had been appointed as apostolic administrator of Canton in 1950, the year after the Communists took over. Like then-Bishop Kung, who accepted his ordination as bishop of Shanghai that same year, Tang realized and accepted the persecution he would be forced to undergo as the result of his ordination. Three years after Bishop Kung was arrested, Tang was also arrested,and he spent twenty-two years in prison without trial.

After they both were released and forced into exile, they maintained their friendship. Archbishop Tang had died while visiting Cardinal Kung in Stamford in honor of the cardinal's 65th anniversary as a priest and his 45th anniversary as a bishop. Archbishop Tang died in the presence of his friend Cardinal Kung, on June 27, 1995. After Tang's death, Cardinal Kung’s nephew Joseph Kung had brought Archbishop Tang's body to Santa Clara for interment. It was fitting that after Kung's funeral, the two friends were reunited.

Father Rutler wrote, “His Eminence was buried next to his friend, and both bodies face the horizon in the expectation that the two old men who, in youth had bicycled together will in a great dawn be buried in their cathedrals in Canton and Shanghai."

Joseph Kung wrote these additional details about the burial in Highlights of the Funeral at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website :
"That the bodies of these two Chinese bishops, ever faithful to the Successor of Peter and devoted to their flocks in Canton and Shanghai despite all adversity, are interred above ground expresses the hope that one day their mortal remains will be transported to China and interred, each at the foot of the altar of his respective cathedral. The same hope was expressed when Cardinal Mindszenty was interred above ground in Austria; and the hope was rewarded when his remains were transported back to Hungary.”
Please pray for this intention, and for the canonization of Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei.
For more about Cardinal Kung, check out the trove of information at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website.