Monday, December 3, 2012

Available: "An Acceptable Sacrifice": Reforming the Liturgical Reform

An Acceptable Sacrifice: Reforming the Liturgical Reform
Wade St. Onge

Though available since last December, I just recently revised and expanded the work. It is now twice the size and much better organized. Unfortunately, it is also more expensive. 

DESCRIPTION (from the back cover)

By juxtaposing the Church’s definition of Liturgy and the Mass with the myriad of post-conciliar liturgical changes, it becomes apparent that there has been a deliberate intent to shift from the Catholic idea of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice to the Modernist idea of the “Eucharistic celebration” as a “communal, fraternal meal”. To correct this, the Church must return to the original conciliar document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and “reform the liturgical reform” according to the mind of the Council Fathers. To this end, the many changes are explored, the Church’s liturgical laws are consulted, and Sacrosanctum Concilium is re-applied to the preconciliar liturgy. 


            One of my fondest memories as a child was attending Sunday Mass with my family. Although I did not really understand much of what was going on, I did enjoy participating in the singing and in the prayers and following the action of the priest and servers on the altar. Most of all, I experienced a great feeling of peace. When I was in the church, it felt like I was at home –my true home, a spiritual or heavenly one. Unfortunately, upon entering adolescence, like many my age, I stopped paying attention to God and thus stopped going to Mass.

            However, in 1997, my Catholic faith was re-awakened, and I not only returned to Mass, but began to attend daily Mass. The more I went and the more I read about my faith and about the liturgy, the more I came
to appreciate Mass on a whole new level.

            As I continued to devour the library at the Catholic Student Center at Minot State University, I came upon an old missal from the days before the Vatican II Council. As I familiarized myself with its contents, I was drawn to this liturgy that I had never witnessed but could only imagine. I asked my father about it, and he gave me his old missal which he had hung onto all those years from the days back in the 1950s when he was a server at Sacred Heart Parish in Torquay for the priest who would later baptize me, Fr. Peter Rubbens. He then impressed me by reciting by heart in perfect Latin some of the old prayers.  

            I was very excited when I found out that this Mass was still being offered in some places, and that there was one offered every Sunday in Powers Lake, North Dakota, less than an hour’s drive from my hometown of Estevan, Saskatchewan. One Sunday in 1999, I decided to make the trek across the United States border and attend. It was a profound and moving experience. Just as when I was a child, I did not understand what was going on, and in fact, I was quite lost. But it was beautiful. Upon each subsequent visit, I came to understand the “old Mass” more and more and learned to follow it quite well.

            In returning to the “new Mass”, as I called it then, I was struck though not bothered by the contrast. However, as I continued to attend Mass at a variety of different churches in different places, I came to notice that there was considerable difference depending on who was offering Mass and where it was being offered, and some of these differences did begin to bother me. I came to learn about the problem of “liturgical abuse”, whereby the priest deviates or allows those with liturgical roles to deviate from the prayers, gestures, and actions which are prescribed. I became sensitive to these “abuses”, and desired a Mass that was offered “by the book”.

            I had another epiphany in the summer of 2002. I was traveling to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis for meetings and interviews before beginning the five-year program of formation for priestly ministry which, God willing, would see me ordained in 2007 for the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota. It was a 24-hour Greyhound bus ride, so I made sure to pack a fair bit of reading material. Upon the first onset of boredom, I dug into my bag, and randomly pulled out
The Documents of Vatican II.

            Naturally, owing to my love for the liturgy, I turned to Sacrosanctum Concilium – “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”.
I read the entire document, and was blown away. What the Council had to say about the importance of retaining Latin in the Mass, the praise it gave to Gregorian Chant and the preeminence it gave to the organ among all other instruments, and its warning to priests against being “creative” through its prohibition against changing any prescribed prayer or gesture, was exciting. I had become attached to many of those “traditional” elements I found so beautiful at Powers Lake, and I was consoled to discover that the Council had not rejected them but sought instead to preserve them. I was looking forward to the day when I would become a priest and incorporate those elements into my own offering of the Mass.

            However, I was also beginning to wonder why certain things so explicitly endorsed and commanded by the Council had completely disappeared. I also began to look more deeply into the liturgical abuses that were widespread in the contemporary Church, including the diocese I was studying for and which I expected to commit my life to, for I knew that as a priest and especially as a pastor, I would have to confront many of these issues. I decided that I would turn my research into a manuscript, and hence this project was initiated.

            This work was initially intended to be a handbook for myself and other like-minded seminarians who would someday be priests on how to address these issues, educate the faithful on them, and ensure and provide for a good and proper liturgy, offered according to the theology and discipline of the Church. This began to shift after I left seminary, which combined with periodic realizations that there was more that needed to be addressed as well as a growing liturgical knowledge as I continued graduate studies at Steubenville, led to a series of revisions and expansions between other projects over an almost 10 year period.

            As this work was never intended to be a catalogue of liturgical abuses, many of these will not be addressed here. However, they can be found in the various liturgical documents that I have referenced throughout, which I would recommend the reader reference and depending on the document read more extensive selections from.

            Chapter 1 provides a working definition and explanation of the liturgy, according to the teachings of the Church, as found primarily in The Catechism of the Catholic Church. This may be review for some and thus may be skipped. Chapter 2 presents an alternate view and definition of the liturgy, according to which many liturgical changes in the initial liturgical reform were illicitly introduced. Chapter 3 discusses the reason for liturgical law and how the many violations of the law since the initial reform began can be corrected and why they should. Chapters 4-17 take us through the various parts and elements of the liturgy, outlining what changes have been made (licitly and illicitly), and describe and explain issue by issue what we are doing wrong, why it is wrong, what we should be doing instead, and how to go about changing it, citing the liturgical laws of the Church and various Vatican documents extensively. Chapter 18 addresses the issue of the so-called “Tridentine Mass” (the Mass as it was before the reforms called for by the Vatican II Council) and the arguments of those who say “liturgical reform” should consist in merely going back to the “pre-conciliar liturgy”. Chapter 19 outlines what Vatican II actually said about liturgical reform, including some of the principles that provide us with the necessary parameters for a “reform of the liturgical reform”. Finally, Chapter 20 places the previous eleven chapters in perspective and shows us ultimately what is the “one thing necessary” (Luke 10:42) when it comes to the liturgy.

            Let us all hope, pray, and work with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, so that the liturgy may more and more effectively renew the Church and transform the World. 


Introduction … 10

1st Part: An Acceptable Sacrifice … 14
I. The Mass Defined and Explained … 16
II. The Initial Liturgical Reform … 45
            A. “Propitiatory Sacrifice” Versus “Community Meal”… 45
            B. Theological Shifts in the Mass … 52
            C. Reasons Given for the Shift … 62

III. The Church Believes as She Prays … 75
            A. Liturgical Law … 75
            B. Correcting Liturgical Abuse, Ensuring Right Practice … 83

2nd Part: Various Liturgical Issues and Abuses:
            General Principles and Matters … 87
IV. Sacred Liturgy … 89
V. Sacred Priesthood and Ministry … 97
VI. Sacred Dress … 116
VII. Sacred Language … 126
VIII. Sacred Orientation … 145
IX. Sacred Space … 155
X. Sacred Art … 160
XI. Sacred Architecture … 176
XII. Sacred Furnishings … 189
XIII. Sacred Music … 213

3rd Part: Various Liturgical Issues and Abuses:
            Liturgies and Specific Parts of the Mass … 250
XIV. The Roman Liturgy … 252
XV. Holy Communion … 309
XVI. Holy Triduum … 353
XVII. Ordination, Matrimony, Funerals, Reconciliation … 387

4th Part: Reforming the Liturgical Reform … 422
XVIII. Tridentine Mass Versus the New Order of the Mass … 424
XIX. The Reform of the Liturgical Reform … 462
XX: “Go, You Are Sent” … 475

Outline … 486
Citations … 532           
Bibliographical Notes … 540

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Eastern Contradiction re: Clerical Celibacy

After a lengthy absence from the "blogosphere", an online acquaintance directed me to a new article by Dr. Peters about Canon 277. So my first post in months is about, well, what has apparently become my pet topic (and his as well, or so it would seem). Perhaps we have bigger fish to fry, but I tend to think clerical celibacy, and preserving it, is a pretty big fish. Make no mistake - it is being threatened.

Here are my thoughts in response to his article (which I would also encourage everyone to read) ... 

I would go a step further than Cardinal Burke and say, "The implementation of a practice in contradiction to a clear and solid theoretical foundation" which I believe is already there (and has long been) in the Catholic Tradition regarding the connection between orders and celibacy.

The bottom line is this: the current Western practice is in contradiction to the Western theology of orders, which is why the application of the Eastern practice to the permanent diaconate and presbyterate (which was the justification used to allow a married diaconate and implement the pastoral provision) was wrongheaded.

In fact, the Eastern practice itself is in contradiction to its own theology, which I have written about on my blog. I have had 3 readers direct me to the same article from an Eastern monk, which argues that according to Eastern theology, it is not good to have someone living alone, without a community, which is why secular priests are generally married. I responded to two of them, "but what about Eastern bishops - don't they live alone?" Their (cop out) response was always, "we don't know what the Eastern practice is". Well, just today, I was reading an article in the diocesan paper called "Two Lungs" written by a Ukrainian Catholic (there is a large population of them in these parts) who was talking about the life of an Eastern bishop - six of whom he had got to know and befriended in his life. He was talking about how bishops, like Western priests, live alone. So the Eastern argument is that all should live in community, which is why secular priests should marry, but then in the same breath they defend their practice of bishops living alone, without a community? This is a contradiction.

I am also friends with a Ukrainian Orthodox subdeacon who plans on becoming a priest but has delayed his seminary studies so far because, well, none of his romantic relationships have worked out yet. In one of our conversations, he was telling me that the problem with celibate priests is they cannot relate to married couples and thus give them counsel (taken straight out of the Protestant apologetic manual). I said, "is the Eastern bishop the Chief Teacher and Shepherd of his flock?" He said, "Yes". I said, "then how can he teach and guide the faithful with regards to marriage?" He chuckled at first, and then composed himself and said, "Well, he has studied a lot and has a special charism to do so". I said, "so why can't we say the same of celibate priests?" He did not have a response. He also said, "St. Peter was a priest and he was married" (also from the Protestant apologetic manual). I responded, "St. Peter was a bishop - why do you Easterners, who are always telling us we have departed from the apostolic practice, go against the apostolic practice concerning this?" Once again, silence.

This proves that the Eastern practice, or more to the point, the Eastern criticism of the Western practice, backfires because the arguments they use against the Western practice of a celibate priesthood also undercut the Eastern practice of a celibate episcopate.

This was generally understood in the West until Vatican II, when false ecumenism led us to abandon our theology (and common sense) in order to minimize the areas of disagreement we had with the East - one of which was to declare that clerical celibacy was merely a practice and thus the respective disciplines of "both lungs" (another term and concept that has been applied too broadly thanks to that same false ecumenism) were both legitimate and thus complementary rather than contradictory.

Most of the disagreements I have had about this issue have not been with Eastern Catholics (many of whom see the contradiction too - they just happen to fall on the other side of the debate as I do) but with Western Catholics - orthodox ones at that. False ecumenism may have been pushed by "liberals", but for some reason, somehow, orthodox Catholics (including Cardinal Coccopalmerio) were influenced and picked up some of their errors.

Clearly, the Church needs to have this debate. Deliberately leaving the impression that they are equally good and complementary is the dam that is already beginning to burst, though the impression has kept obedient and trusting orthodox Catholics from thinking too deeply about it and therefore continuing to see complementarity in the contradiction.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Available: "New Things and Old: Re-Implementing Vatican II"

By Wade St. Onge

Sorry I could not get the price cheaper, but because of the size of the book (428 pages), Lulu would not allow me to go much less than I did. The cute thing, though, is the price is the same as the year the Vatican II Council ended - 1965 (or $19.65).

DESCRIPTION (from the back cover)
Events that occurred and issues that arose before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council explain and demonstrate how its implementation was largely "hijacked" by a loose coalition of Church leaders influenced by a resurgent Modernist theology condemned as “the synthesis of all heresies” by Pope Pius X at the beginning of the century. Thus, the Council’s directives and teachings were never fully and truly actualized. As a result, the Church must now revisit the documents and implement them according to the minds of the Council Fathers. In heavily citing the documents themselves, various misinterpretations and misunderstandings are corrected, while key areas of renewal and reform outlined by the Council are highlighted and targeted for an overdue implementation.


“That all changed with Vatican II”. As I continued to study and delve into my Catholic faith in the years following my return to the sacraments in 1997, I was hearing this more and more from the people I would encounter and the books I would read. But the more I studied, the more I discovered that the “spirit of Vatican II” was being claimed for things that were not called for by the Council or even contradicted the Council.

I also became concerned about the term “pre-Vatican” being applied to those who assented to the dogmas of the Catholic Church, especially the more controversial and less accepted ones. I was loyal to the teachings and authority of the Magisterium, and since Vatican II was an expression of the Magisterium, I accepted the Council. In fact, I was in agreement with more of the Council’s teachings than those who were criticizing me for not accepting it. How, then, could people call me “pre-Vatican”?

These were concerns of mine as I entered the seminary. I saw the pastoral need to “set the record straight” on Vatican II. I began to read through the documents of Vatican II, pulling out statements which would demonstrate that so many changes (and proposed changes) that were claimed to be in the “spirit of Vatican II” were in contradiction to the actual teachings and directives of the Council documents. The more I read, the more confirmed I became in my position, and the more I came to realize how most of the people who speak about the “spirit of Vatican II” have obviously not even read the documents themselves.

The finished product was a much smaller work than this one. This initial document was basically Chapter 7 of this present manuscript with a brief commentary that was later spliced in here and there to Chapter 5.B.1. The idea to write a full book on this began when, having gone through the Vatican II documents and pulling out what it did not teach, I decided it was even more important to go through them again and write about what it did teach. I also became more aware that there were people who were indeed “pre-Vatican”, who rejected the Council, and I realized this must be addressed as well. Finally, I realized there was a whole back story that was the necessary foundation to truly understanding Vatican II.

In my re-reading of the documents, I was struck, when reading about the laity, how profound the conciliar statements were, and at the same time came to realize how little of it seemed to have become a reality in the Church. As I continued to study, I came to understand that due to various factors, the Council had never been fully implemented. Convicted that Vatican II was a prophetic work of the Holy Spirit that was relevant and important for our time, I began a work which would put forth my position, the reason for my position, and a plan to fully and properly implement the Council according to the mind of the Council Fathers.

Part I, consisting of chapters 1-4, describes the post-conciliar crisis and backtracks in order to explain its cause. Part II, consisting of chapters 5-6, addresses misunderstandings, demonstrates how the Council is not only relevant to the present but essential, and devises a plan for fully and properly implementing it today so it may bear fruit for years to come. The final part, Part III, consisting of chapters 7-9, extensively quotes the Council – first to correct those who claim the “spirit of Vatican II” for virtually every change (licit or illicit), secondly to correct “traditionalists” who claim that Vatican II is a “corruption” that must be “repealed”, and third and finally to synthesize the documents by arranging them according to category and thus presenting a condensed and orderly catalogue of the reforms and changes called for.

Chapter 9 need not be read from beginning to end as it is a “reference text”. For instance, a married layman involved in an interfaith pro-life group may want to look up and read the categories pertaining to the Faithful, the Laity, and Ecumenism. Furthermore, the chapter is not meant to be a substitute for the actual documents themselves. As with most theological works, reading the original is always best. For those who are so inclined, I would recommend this. For others, I would recommend, as a nice compliment to this book, Dr. Alan Schreck’s The Crisis and The Promise (cited later), which nicely summarizes and comments on the Council documents.

Admittedly, I overuse quotations and quote-string. Due to the fact I have never been published and am not well known, I must rely on the authority of others to be persuasive. 

Begun in 2002, I have finally, after many breaks and revisions, completed the project. Having been rejected by Paulist Press and Ignatius Press after submitting them upon request, and after exhausting all other possible Catholic publishers, I decided to self-publish.

Let us all hope and pray, along with the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and do our part, so that we may truly experience a “New Pentecost”.


Preface ... 8 


1. Chapter 1: The Past: A Council Betrayed ... 13

2. Chapter 2: Before the Council: Modernism ... 28

3. Chapter 3: During the Council: Two Schools ... 42 
A. Two Camps: “Conservatives” and “Liberals”
B. Two Schools: Scholasticism and La Nouvelle Théologie 
C. Preparation for the Council 
D. “Liberals” Defeat “Conservatives” 
E. Modernist Influence at the Council

4. Chapter 4: After the Council: Implementation Hijacked ... 76 
A. A Climate Ripe for a Modernist Explosion 
B. The Hijacking Begins 
C. Humanae Vitae: Death Knell of Church Authority
D. A “Mis-implementation”


Chapter 5: The Present – 50 Years Later:
            The Place of Vatican II Today ... 103 
A. Differing Views: Modernist and Traditionalist 
B. Response to Modernist and Traditionalist Views
C. The Relevance of Vatican II Today

Chapter 6: The Future: Re-Implementing Vatican II ... 169
A. Central Conciliar Theme: “What is New and What is Old” (Mt. 13:52)
B. Principles of Reform 
            1. Return to the Letter
            2. Discover the True Spirit
            3. Ressourcement / Aggiornamento
            4. Critical Reflection on the Initial Reform
            5. Reflection on Initial Reform: Church
                        (a) The Traditionalist Extreme
                        (b) The Modernist Extreme
            6. Reflection on Initial Reform: World
            7. Rooted in the Paschal Mystery
            (a) Goal: Deeper Reception:
                        Interior Assimilation and Practical Implementation
             (b) Pastoral Program: Five Points
C. The Pastoral Plan Explained


Chapter 7: The “False Spirit of Vatican II”:
                        33 Misunderstandings of Vatican II Corrected ... 190

Chapter 8: “Pre-Vatican”:
            10 Alleged “Errors of Vatican II” Refuted ... 219

Chapter 9: The “True Spirit of Vatican II:
            50 Key Council Teachings Presented ... 242

Detailed Outline ... 362
End Notes ... 402

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Should Catholics Marry Young?

This is an email I sent to Pat Archbold after he published his article, "Should Catholics Marry Young?" I sent it twice, but did not receive a response.

The combox posts in support were predictable - namely, people speaking about how they married young and it worked out well and they would not do it any other way and others should do likewise.

I would like to highlight some of the dissenting posts (which were in the minority) as providing particularly good rebuttals. These include JB (7th), MarylandBill (19th), Old Soldier (25th), Veronica N. (36th and 56th), Roo (38th), Gracie (41st), L (43rd), Chiming (47nd), Tom R (49th), Leah (60th), Tina (63rd), mrsceecee (64th), Kate (67th).

Here is the email response:

Dear Mr. Archbold,

I wrote the following in response to a friend who had posted a link to your article, "Should Catholics Marry Young?", on his facebook page. I thought I would send it to you. Just to let you know upfront, it is a critique. Here it is in full:

The extremes of the ecumenical movement have led many Catholics to think more like Protestants than like Catholics. Many have used the term “Protestantization of the Church” to identify that tendency of Catholics to think like Protestants, worship like Protestants, incorporate Protestant practices (married ministry being applied to the priesthood is the first that comes to my mind), and use Protestant arguments when forming opinions about certain issues. The most common issue in which I see this happen concerns dating, courtship, and marriage. If you look at Jason Evert’s book on purity, dating, and relationships, “If You Really Loved Me”, you will see a majority or at least a high minority of his quotations come from Protestant resources.

Is this a problem? Indeed, it is. The Catholic and Protestant theologies on this issue are fundamentally in opposition.

Most Protestant Reformers were priests who abandoned their vocations in order to get married. Why? Because, they argued, marriage was a divine mandate, thus rendering celibacy invalid. Plus, living a celibate life was “impossible”. In other words, the longer one delayed marriage, the longer one set himself up to “sin”. Thus, there is no such thing as “single life” in Protestantism – single people are looked upon as an anomaly, as a great tragedy, as people who no doubt continue to sin sexually as self-restraint is impossible. Partly in order to “avoid sin”, Protestantism encourages young marriages (teenage and early-twenties marriages are very common in evangelical Protestant circles). Protestantism has one and only one vocation – marriage, and there is really no good reason to delay it for very long.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, strongly opposed these ideas at the Council of Trent (and anathematized anyone who professed them). Instead, they said celibacy was not only possible, since God gave the grace necessary to persevere in that call, but was the “highest” call that “all” should consider and pray about before even entertaining thoughts of being married. Because the Catholic view is that God will give those He has not (yet) called to marriage the grace to remain pure, a person can remain in the single life for many years, if God so calls him, and persevere in purity. Catholicism has two vocations – marriage and religious life, and since single life more resembles the latter than the former and the latter is praised above the former in Church dogma, single life, if it the state God so wills the person in, is not only valid but commendable.

In my opinion, Mr. Archbold speaks more like a Protestant than a Catholic when he says: “a key indicator of the societal value of marriage is at what age do we encourage our young people to get married, if we encourage them at all.”

What a Catholic would say, just as generations of Catholics and Magisterial teachings have before, that we should encourage our young people to “pursue their vocation”, whatever it be – celibate, single, or married, but to encourage a religious vocation and the consideration thereof first. Secondly, if one discerns he is not so called, he is not even then to consider marrying young, but to discern and pursue “God’s will” – which to a Catholic could mean single life for many years, but which to a Protestant can only mean marriage, and as soon as possible. Which position does Mr. Archbold’s sound more like?

Archbold says, “Many Catholics, like society at large, encourage their children to postpone marriage. Go to college. Get a job. Get financially stable. Date around. Find out who you are first, then consider marriage.” Is he honestly saying that children who are called to be teachers (requiring a four year degree) or children called to be doctors or lawyers (seven to eight years) or professors (eleven years) should get married at 20 anyway? That means essentially forcing themselves into a situation where they have to practice NFP for a number of years. Since NFP is only to be used for “grave” reasons, it would be imprudent and thus inadvisable to marry until, as Carmen Marcoux says, one is at “an age and stage” in life where they are ready. No, one does not have to have enough to retire on before getting married, but they need to have some degree of financial stability. That is what the Church has long recommended and what Catholics have long practiced. Ask your great-grandparents how well it would have gone over if 19 year old Johnny told his parents he was marrying his girlfriend even though he had four more years of school and would need his folks to put them up in the house and support them and their children until he graduated. They would nip that one in the bud pretty quick.

Archbold says, “People now do not get married until they are in their late twenties, if at all. By then, society has messed them up so much by a decade of self-centeredness that they will probably make lousy spouses. ... Speaking from experience, from the time I turned twenty-one until I got married in my thirties, I learned nothing other than how to be a narcissistic jerk. I learned more about who I really am in my first two years of being a husband and a father than during that entire lost decade.” Another fallacy – because this was his experience, it must be everyone’s experience. I am guessing that in learning to be a narcissistic jerk, he wasn’t attending church. He was probably a “fallen away Catholic”. Let me share “my” experience – I  have spent my 20s going to daily Communion, studying for the priesthood at the seminary, and done a great deal of prayer and spiritual reading, and I can testify that my faith and my relationship with God have taught me how to be a “loving” man. If that was just my experience against his, then it would be as poor an argument as his. But our Church teaches that practicing faith has this effect. Once again, he neglects the true “Catholic” view – that “celibacy” (i.e. not getting married) can produce a greater love in those who practice it than marriage. Grace is greater than nature.

He goes on to say: “We all know that from the dawn of civilization up until 50 years ago or so, people routinely married young ... And society was better off for it.” A lot of things here. First, this is true, but there were probably more bad marriages back then than now. It’s just divorce wasn’t really an option – at least practically speaking. Second, until 50 years ago, most people dropped out of school by grade 6 in order to help dad on the farm or get a job to help feed the family. They learned to grow up quicker, and they also became financially stable quicker. Does Archbold advocate the end to schooling so we can marry sooner?

Third, Archbold, once again neglects his Catholic theology by failing to cite the examples of the Saints. That’s always a dead ringer for me that they are just borrowing Protestant arguments wholesale. Most of the married Saints in the hagiographies married as teens, and almost without exception, their marriages were miserable. There have been three married couples canonized by JP2 to provide examples for married couples to follow and model their lives on: the Quattrochis, the Martins (parents of the Little Flower), and St. Gianna Molla. The Quattrochis did marry young, but practiced perpetual continence after child-bearing years, the Martins married at 35 and 27 respectively (after pursuing but being rejected from religious life and spending many years as happy single people serving God in their singleness), and St. Gianna married when she was 33 and her husband was 43, after, once again, discerning a possible missionary vocation, then getting her education (becoming a doctor), and spending many years serving in her Church and working with the youth. What does Archbold say about them? Why didn’t they marry young? Maybe it is because they didn’t follow Archbold’s advice and instead followed with an open heart the call of God in their lives?

Archbold says, “I think that the best thing that could happen to marriage is that people, particularly Catholics, encourage their children to get married younger.” And I think the best thing that could happen to the Catholic Church is that we start drawing on our Catholic Tradition in order to form our opinions on these issues, not keep borrowing from Protestant theology.

Wade St. Onge

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ben Hur and Jesus

One of the most powerful scenes in the history of religious cinema. Chokes me up every time I see Jesus stand up and the soldier stop dead in his tracks and his face sullens to reveal his conviction.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Protestant Tithing and Catholic "Two-ing"

Fr. Eusebio Tubale in a 1998 homily given at St. John the Baptist Church, Estevan, Saskatchewan:

"You go out Saturday night and spend 20 dollars on a movie and 30 dollars on dinner, then come to Mass the next morning and put two dollars into the collection plate".

Saturday, March 24, 2012

TOB: God Versus His Own Creation

From Destroying the Golden Calf: "There are primarily three things in this world that are so good, we tend to become more attached to them than to God. These are (1) money, (2) sex, and (3) power. Through the evangelical counsels, one completely renounces those three things through vows of poverty (money), chastity (sex), and obedience (power), and thus renders powerless Satan's three greatest weapons. Although those who do not embrace the evangelical counsels also do well because they are choosing that which is good, it is nonetheless a more difficult and dangerous path (1Corinthians 7:28b). For those who 'remain in the world' and marry, pursue a career, and choose various pastimes, a life of 'asceticism' is essential. Fasting, abstinence, and penance help us to 'mortify our senses' (Catechism, #2015, 2549) and achieve a 'detachment from creatures' (Catechism, #1472, 2544) so that we do not become more attached to created goods than to the ultimate good – the Uncreated God".

Recently, I was reading about novelist Georges Simenon, whom it was claimed had slept with 10,000 women. As a child, he was a devout Catholic attending a Jesuit school and a choirboy whose intention was to enter the seminary and become a priest. [1] However, this would change during summer vacation, 1916: "
Everything began at age 13 … This older lady – she was 16 at the time – was from a school nearby, and was staying in the same peasant’s house as me. One day we went out to play in the woods … ‘Lie down,’ she said … Then she got on top of me. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I couldn’t be a Christian after that … I had been a choirboy until then, but I never went back to church after that”. [2]

It often happens that the truth about God and the demands of the Christian life come into conflict with our passions. At that point we must "choose whom we will serve" (Joshua 24:15). Most choose the goods of this world because we are weak in faith and thus the goods of this world that are pleasing to the eye (Genesis 3:6) seem to be a greater good and are more desirable than the God we cannot see.

It is an incredible irony when God can't compete with His own creation.

1. "Georges Simenon and 'Maigret'" by Crispin Jackson
"After 500 Novels and 10,000 Women, Georges Simenon Has Earned His Retirement", by Rudi Chelminski

II. Destroying the Golden Calf

In the previous article,
Refashioning the Golden Calf, we spoke of the human tendency to get so attached to the “things of the world” that we prefer them to God and His will. In order to break us of these “inordinate attachments to creatures”, the Church has always recommended asceticism or penance as an excellent and in fact necessary remedy. For those of us who have perhaps not made use of this remedy, the penitential season of Lent provides us with an excellent opportunity to begin to do so. What follows is a short guide on the practice of penance.

Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical
Paenitemini, begins with the first of the two main types of penance: “[The Church] insists first of all that the virtue of penitence be exercised in persevering faithfulness to the duties of one's state in life, in the acceptance of the difficulties arising from one's work and from human coexistence, in a patient bearing of the trials of earthly life and of the utter insecurity which pervades it” (Chapter III).

Of course, this is easier said than done. Depending on the particular trial or suffering and upon the mood or disposition of the individual, it can be extremely difficult and even seemingly impossible. The Christian, must in fact, “battle” and “fight” to respond with patience and joy rather than anger and frustration. As with any battle, there are a number of different “tactics” or “strategies” that will lead to greater or lesser degrees of success depending on the particular person and situation.

The most common, and the one that almost immediately comes to the minds of most Catholics, is the practice of “offering it up”, usually for a specific person or intention. By doing so, our crosses become easier to bear, knowing that a greater
good is coming from our pain and that our suffering is of benefit not only to others, but also to ourselves. By repeating the words, “Lord, I offer this up”, this constant refrain can bring peace and consolation in the midst of suffering.

Another great help is the devotional reading of Sacred Scripture. There are many passages I find myself returning to again and again in times of trial, which always seem to strengthen my will and help me “take heart” (Matthew 14:27). Some I find particularly helpful are Sirach 2, Isaiah 55:8-11, Job 1:21, 2:10, 38-42:7, John 16:16-23, Philippians 4:4-7, 11-13, and Hebrews 12, among others. Besides Scripture, the lives and writings of the Saints are an enormous help and source of consolation, as are other spiritual writings.

We Christians have another powerful weapon in our arsenal – the
mind. In times of trial, we can apply what the sources of faith have taught us to those situations. So when we find ourselves naturally asking, “Lord, why did you let this happen?”, our faith and our experiences provide the ready answers: “He is teaching me patience, trust, and surrender”; “Something similar happened a few years ago, and so much good came out of it, such as …”; “If God were here, He would say, ‘Don’t worry – I know what I’m doing’”; “Well, like the Lord said to Job …” or “as St. Paul said, …”; etc. We can also use the power of our imaginations. I have a friend who uses some clever meditations when subjected to the many little annoyances in life. When he worked at a call center and things would get busy, he used to think of Christ’s Passion and imagine every ring as though it was a lash on his own back, so that he truly felt a connection to Christ and that he was sharing in His Passion. It is also helpful to call to mind the wrong we have done and the pain we have caused others. This makes us want to accept the suffering we are receiving because we know it to be just and proper.

Finally, we should follow the advice of St. Paul, who said, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18). We must resist the temptation to mope and complain and instead turn to God in prayer, pouring out our souls to him in deep anguish and bitter weeping (1Samuel 1:10, 15). But when we do, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). And we should be
thankful for our trials, as Judith advised (Judith 8:25-27). My best friend’s father is in the habit of saying, “Thank you, Jesus”, anytime things do not go his way. My friend tells the funny story about how he was helping his father dislodge a hornet’s nest from the ceiling of his garage, and how when the nest came crashing down and a swarm of hornets attacked him, he flailed his arms at them in a mad panic and kept repeating, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!” This, rather than cussing and swearing, should become our automatic reaction to such things as well.

Secondly, “apart from the renunciation imposed by the burdens of everyday life,” continues Paul VI, “the Church, however, invites all Christians without distinction to respond to the divine precept of penitence by some voluntary act.” Paul VI goes on to mention fasting as an example. The beauty of fasting is that it can be “tailor-made”. If we are not up to the more rigorous bread-and-water fast, we can do a “traditional” fast (one full meal and two small meals that together do not equal a full meal), or even a “partial fast” whereby we skip one of our meals or fast for part of the day.

Besides fasting, there is also “abstinence”, which includes the periodic renouncing of any good thing we enjoy, not just meat. This is a common during Lent, where Catholics – even many who do not attend church regularly – ask themselves the question, “What am I going to give up for Lent?” This can be anything we enjoy – meat, snacks, coffee, alcohol, television, music, sex, certain hobbies, etc. We should remember two things here: (1) we should abstain from that we tend to get “inordinately attached” to; (2) the greater the sacrifice, the greater the merit. A friend of mine had a very special intention earlier this year, and although he was a huge Green Bay Packers fan, he chose to
sacrifice watching or listening to the Super Bowl for that intention! We are still waiting to see if that prayer will be answered as he wishes, but if it is granted, this will no doubt be the one thing that made the most difference.

However, penance does not consist merely in the
negative – what one gives up, but also the positive – ­­what one does in addition. Penance can mean praying more, or performing certain works of charity. Since every Christian should be involved in at least some work of charity, Lent would be a good time to commit to something, such as visiting or taking Communion to the elderly or the sick, or volunteering once a month in a soup kitchen or food bank, or preparing the parish’s next pancake breakfast. The sky is the limit when it comes to ways one can serve.

Finally, we must speak about the penances of the Saints and how that applies to us. We sometimes hear stories of Saints who slept naked on bare boards, took ice cold baths, prayed all night instead of sleep, wore hairshirts or cilices which irritated the skin, and used “the discipline” (self-flagellation). Contrary to popular belief, these are not “archaic” practices that the Church has “suppressed” (see Paenitentiam Agere, paragraph 32). The Little Flower’s theology of “doing little things with great love” has been twisted, isolated from our Tradition and interpreted in ways contrary to it, and used as a cop-out to avoid doing penance. On the contrary, these practices remain good and holy and win for those who practice them a great deal of merit. However, there are grave dangers to excessive penances, which is why the Saints told their spiritual directors everything they were doing by way of penance and always submitted to their directors when they would order them to stop doing certain penances. Only some will be called to practice “the discipline”, for instance (we now know that Pope John Paul II practiced it), and this must be carefully discerned.

This has been a short primer on penance. Hopefully, as you put these principles into practice this Lent, you will destroy the “golden calves” in your lives.