August 2013


Fr. Peter Mottola, one of three priests ordained in my home Diocese of Rochester this year, offers his thoughts on the appeal to young people of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, a.k.a. the Traditional Latin Mass, which he now offers to his parishioners:

Silence is sacred

We are constantly surrounded by noise. While we’re not busy binge-watching shows on Netflix or watching viral videos on YouTube we’re being inundated with emails, calls, texts, Instagrams, tweets, Vines … it never stops! When we go to Mass and hear the Eucharistic Prayer ringing in our ears, it’s easy for even “This is my Body” to become just one more piece of noise. But to go to a Mass where the prayers are silent, spoken softly by the priest to God alone, provides an experience totally opposite to every other moment of life. In this silence we are free. Free to pray along with those silent prayers if we wish, or to add prayers of our own, or simply to rest in quiet solitude with God.

Everything old is new again

Since almost everyone born after 1988 grew up reading Harry Potter, the under-thirty crowd has always known that cool kids wander around Gothic buildings wearing long black robes while muttering Latin incantations. If it’s true that in a time not long past anything medieval was bound to be the butt of a joke, like in the 1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it’s equally true that the same quasi-medieval setting is now extremely popular: witness HBO’s Game of Thrones. It was captured best in an exchange I recently overheard between two young boys: said one to the other as he examined the antediluvian relic of a typewriter, “Old stuff is so much better than new stuff!”

Wounded by beauty

A generation ago, many felt a need for an experience of Church that was more down-to-earth; but in our own day, two billion viewers gleefully watched the extreme pomp of the Royal Wedding. The ceremonies, the chants, and the trappings of the ancient liturgical rites of Western culture are beautiful. And in a generation unsure if there really are such things as “right” and “wrong,” it is not the truth of the Church’s teachings but the beauty of her worship that will stir their hearts. The converts of the next decade will not say “You have convinced us,” but rather they will say—breathlessly and with tears in their eyes—“We did not know whether we were in heaven or on earth!”

Kudos to Fr. Mottola. Five years ago, a post like that would have gotten him sent away for a psychiatric evaluation.

Tip, Ben at Cleansing Fire.

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Church festival season is upon us, and you know what that means: our parishes are flooded with political candidates diametrically opposed to Church teaching.

The problem is especially acute this year, as Cincinnati’s current city council members were bought and paid for in 2011 by the $40 million in campaign cash Democrat-leaning unions carpet-bombed over Ohio in the SB 5 collective bargaining fight. This particularly leftwing class of Democrat politicians is now up for reelection.

Friday night the openly homo5exual — and entirely obnoxious — Chris Seelbach, who made news earlier this year by trying to get Anthony Munoz booted from a Xavier University commencement speech over the NFL hall-of-famer’s support for marriage, afflicted St. Mary of Hyde Park’s Funfest along with a dozen of his acolytes. I had hoped to chat with him but missed the chance. (I was working at the beer booth.)

I did get to speak to mayoral candidate John Cranley, a Democrat and alumnus of St. Xavier High School who was quick to tell me he’s pro-life. When I asked him about marriage, he said he was “liberal on that issue.” I responded that the Church has three “not negotiable” principles she takes to the public square (1. the right to life, 2. the defense of traditional marriage, and 3. the right of parents to educate their children) and that he’s in clear violation of one of them as he campaigns at a Catholic parish. “So do you want [the more liberal] Roxanne Qualls?” he asked. John’s a nice enough fellow, but “the other guy’s worse” isn’t much of an argument or position.

In any event, I do hope the city’s pastors do their duty and catechize their flocks this fall.

This morning’s Cincinnati Enquirer features another write-up on Covington bishop Roger Foys’s admonition to his flock to steer clear of the SSPX chapel in Walton, Kentucky. There’s a video included that features a (monotonous) monologue from the pastor, who spends most of his time accentuating the atmospherics of worship there, e.g., kneeling, receiving on the tongue, clothing, cassocks. I’m all for traditional practices too, but he doesn’t really explain why they’re important. It’s as though he’s saying, “If you like this sort of thing, stop by.” Well, what if you don’t? Isn’t he really making the same argument as the modernists, that it’s all a matter of personal preference? (In fairness, he does explain in the article that there’s more to the SSPX’s stance than just “the Latin Mass,” but his first impulse seems to be toward making a show of outward appearances.) Here’s a snip from the article:

The Rev. Adam Purdy, one of three priests who minister at Assumption, said he read the letter from his pulpit the following Sunday.

“I told them he’s right,” Purdy said. “This is the way jurisdiction in the church works. I respect that, but that also assumes that there is no crisis within the church … that people don’t have any kind of objections to the ‘happy unicorn-ride’ version of Catholicism which exists today.”

Foys said he was compelled to write the letter in the diocesan newspaper to stave off confusion created by Purdy’s church and others like it.

That’s because, unlike other Catholic churches, Assumption operates outside Vatican authority. The traditionalist church, which opened its doors in late 2010, is led by the Swiss-based Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), a religious order that rejects reforms that stemmed from the Second Vatican Council.

SSPX churches, including the Walton church and two others in Cincinnati – St. Gertrude in Sharonville and Immaculate Conception Church in Norwood – are best known for retaining the traditional Mass, performed in Latin with the priest facing the altar, just as it was before the Vatican II reforms.

The rift with Rome goes deeper than that, though.

Still single, still alone in the morning, but now at least she’s part of the herd, just like all her pitiful excuses for friends!

Moohoo! Conformity! Men stop pressuring you so much when you give in and stop being a virgin! Heck, they even stop being romantic, and you don’t want it either. It’s all very business-like, once you’ve committed to sin.

Pundit Sarah Hoyt notes sympathetically about the woman that it’s hard to be a rebel, and that non-conformity and chastity is difficult nowadays. But still, it’s a sad day when a woman gives into the world and gets nothing back but the mooing of fellow herdmembers.

OTOH, the woman does credit her Dayton Catholic school and the sisters’ chastity program for keeping her a rebel as long as she was. Unfortunately, it’s clear that she was brooding on sinning for quite a while, much though her instincts and conscience tried to save her. There’s only so much that good parents and good schooling can do for you. At some point, you have to learn to do the right thing, grow in Jesus, and drop everything else in the way of that — or mooooove into the herd. She doesn’t seem to have looked for a husband in any of the right places, preferring to stay herded with her single friends who also weren’t looking correctly.

So yes, this story shows the importance of having friends with morals, boyfriends with morals, and dressing in a non-floozy way. Because wow, as soon as she had spent enough time in bad company to erode her own morals and tastes, and then started dressing like she was for sale, she suddenly felt like that kind of person too! Moo!

But I’ve done stupid junk because of societal expectations and peer pressure and curiosity, too. I didn’t keep on doing it, though. I wised up and realized how stupid and worthless it was. It wasn’t even fun to sin, and for this I was risking my immortal soul? Out of what? Embarrassment? A pathetic attempt to fit in with losers? Or worse, sinking to the level of friends who could do better, because I didn’t care enough for them to argue with them?

The good news is that repentance, Confession, and reparation are open to everyone. You don’t have to stay with the herd forever. You can always rebel again. You don’t even have to be strong yourself; you only have to ask Jesus to help you.

Hopefully this woman will see that before it’s too late, because right now she’s in a very sad place. The herd won’t help her stay out of the slaughterhouse. They won’t even see it coming. They’ll moo happily together all the way to the end, never noticing that the herdmember in line ahead of them is no longer alive. Because the herd doesn’t care for any single member. Not really.

“I’m in the confessional here every day. Do you know why I do it? It’s not because I’m looking for something to do. It’s because you need it.”

— The pastor at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Cincinnati’s bustling Oakley neighborhood, during his homily last Sunday, Aug. 11.

The New Liturgical Movement reported today that there’s going to be a Mass in Cincinnati in honor of Bl. Karl von Habsburg, last emperor of Austria-Hungary and negotiator of peace. Starting World War I wasn’t his idea; he wasn’t on the throne then. He ruled only from 1916 to 1918, and started trying to make peace right away, among other just war measures. After being dethroned, he and his wife the ex-Empress Zita, and their eight kids, all ended up in Portugal. So yeah, the man lived a holy life in weird circumstances, and he helped his wife and family do the same. He died young, in 1922. His feast day is not his death day, but his wedding anniversary, October 21.

(His wife was an amazing and long-lived lady, whom some say should also be up for sainthood. All that happens, and then her husband dies, too. She and the kids eventually ended up in Canada, living on the peanuts they could earn and the fruits and dandelion greens that Zita managed to forage in public parks. But eventually things got better and more middle-class. She passed away in 1989 with lots of grandkids.)

One of the miracles approved toward his cause of sainthood was the healing of a Baptist lady in Florida, believe it or not.

Anyway, there’ll be a nice morning Mass at 11 AM on August 24, and then a nice talk about a Hapsburg by a Hapsburg, which isn’t something you get every day. The Habsburg in question is Bl. Karl’s great-grandson. He got married last year to a nice young pro-life activist from Cincinnati, so you can hardly get more hardcore Catholic than that! They met at another Mass for Bl. Karl, after the lady got interested in Zita and unwarily prayed for her intercession in helping her discern. Nothing like a little heavenly matchmaking, I guess. (More pics here.) The New Liturgical Movement article has the email for more info. (And I fixed the bad link.)

It cracks me up that, with all the German Catholic heritage in Zinzinnati, there’s now a Blessed connected to Cincy whose nationality was Austrian, Hungarian, and a bunch more (but he was of German and Spanish heritage among others). So a melting pot guy for a melting pot part of Ohio. Fun!

During Mass this morning at Cincinnati’s St. Cecilia church, the priest-celebrant delivered a brief but powerful homily on the “clericalization of the laity” that takes place at all too many parishes. “People sometimes think their work is ministering here in the sanctuary. It’s not — it’s out in the world.” That message came to mind when I skimmed the latest issue of the “Clergy Communications” newsletter of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and found the following announcement:

LAY LEADERS OF PRAYER (participants must be delegated by the pastor)
Mondays, September 9, 16, 23, 30 and October 7, 14, 2013
7:00 – 9:30 p.m. each evening at St. Michael Parish, Ft. Loramie

A six-evening workshop designed to train lay people to lead some of the rites of the Church when a priest or deacon is not available (i.e. Liturgy of the Hours, Funeral Vigil, Funeral outside of Mass, Rite of Committal, Liturgy of the Word [with Communion], and the Rite of Exposition. The workshop forms participants in understanding the nature of liturgical prayer; understanding the order and rubrics of the various rites; and understanding the importance of the role of the assembly at prayer and the role of the lay leader of prayer. Each of the participants will be given an opportunity to plan and lead a ritual of their choice, with others in the group observing and learning from one another. Fr. Larry Tensi, Fr. Steve Walter, Ms. Emily Besl, and Ms. Karen Kane are the presenters. There is a registration fee of $45.00 per participant. Please email …

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