Interior life, not to be abandoned in our search for community or commitment to a cause . . .

Instead, mes enfants . . .

“Abandon yourself entirely to the over-ruling of God, and by self-oblivion be eternally occupied in loving and serving Him without any of those fears, reflexions, examens, and anxieties which the affair of our salvation, and perfection sometimes occasion.”

Gold in them there hills . . .

Since God wishes to do all for us, let us place everything in His hands once and for all, leaving them to His infinite wisdom; and trouble no more about anything but what concerns Him. On then, my soul, on with head uplifted above earthly things, always satisfied with God, with everything He does, or makes you do.

Practically speaking . . .

Take good care not to imprudently entertain a crowd of anxious reflexions which, like so many trackless ways, carry our footsteps far and wide until we are hopelessly astray. Let us go through that labyrinth of self-love by leaping over it, instead of traversing its interminable windings. [emphasis added]

From a Jesuit-authored gem . . . 

De Caussade, Jean-Pierre. Abandonment To Divine Providence (Unabridged: with a compilation of the letters of Father Jean-Pierre De Caussade) (p. 37). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.

Trust me on this?

Idea for introducing yourself to one sitting next you at church before Sunday mass . . .

. . . when the presiding priest or singing director urges you to do so.

Do not just say hi but hand out your card. Something they can take with themselves and maybe later call you and presto, some new business.

Or, and this is a big or, a number or address a person can call or write to later, trying to sell you something.

So forget it, not that it’s ever been tried.

Look. Just say hi and let go at that. With a smile, of course.

It’s what I do at the other greeting time, the handclasp of peace later in the mass, when I sometimes do not clasp a hand but wave, and then not to whole rest of church, of course . . . .

The villainous Bugnini, who made the Ordo Novus, as presented in newly translated book by highly regarded French historian Yves Chiron

Held in low esteem, if any esteem at all, by traditionalists and tradition-leaning Catholics from all over the world.

The general theme of the book [Annibale Bugnini, Reformer of the Liturgy, Angelico Press] could be summed up as this: Bugnini was immensely hard-working and a skilled networker, and in large bureaucracies these are the people who leave their marks upon events.

For better or worse, of course.

Anyhow, the final decree passed in Vatican Council 2 with a mere four dissenters.

However . . .

Sometimes people draw our attention to the fact that only four of the [bishops in attendance] voted against the Conciliar decree Sacrosanctum Concilium. Which is indeed an objective historical fact.

But the leap is sometimes made of implying that everything which has happened since was directly and formally mandated by the Council, so that anybody who expresses a criticism is ‘anti-Conciliar’. This is a very profound error. [emphasis

Indeed, one of the signers-on was a man who led a sharply counter-movement after the council, after the liturgical experts headed by Bugnini had gone to work:

Archbishop Lefebvre [founder of the separatist Society of St. Pius X] signed the Decree. He spent much of his distinguished life resisting the neo-Modernism of the post-Conciliar decades, but in 1965 these were the views he expressed:

“There was something to reform and to rediscover. Clearly, the first part of the Mass, which is intended to instruct the faithful and for them to expresss their faith, needed to reach these ends in a clearer and so to speak more intelligible manner. In my humble opinion, two such reforms seemed useful: first [the reform of?] the rites of that first part and also a few translations into the vernacular.

“The priest coming nearer to the faithful; communicating with them; praying and singing with them and therefore standing in the pulpit; saying the Collect, the Epistle, and the Gospel in their language; the priest singing in the divine traditional melodies the Kyrie, the Gloria, the creed with the faithful: these are so many good reforms that give back to that part of the Mass its true finality.”

Even in early stages of deciding implementation, there was the exchange of the “bold Austrian Jesuit called Hofinger,” who said there should be “no prohibition against changing . . . the Canon,” the hitherto sacrosanct center part of the mass, with his former teacher, the distinguished and learned fellow Jesuit, J A Jungmann, who made the “immediate retort”: “But those changes ought to occur only for the gravest reasons.”

“We need to remember, writes Fr. Z.

. . .  (1) how rapidly the entire landscape was to change. Less than a decade after these comparatively restrained scholarly debates, the Roman Canon had to all intents and purposes ceased to be used and some two or three hundred home-made “Eucharistic Prayers” were, to St Paul VI’s great consternation, in circulation.

And (2), that in 1961, neither the avant-garde, the Hofingers, nor the rear-guard, the Lefebvres, had the faintest, remotest, tiniest idea of where . . . it would all lead.

The beauty of Chiron’s book is that it “enables you to go back in time and to be a fly on the wall as the ‘experts’ . . . edged blindly forward into the quicksands and through the mist.”

The Bugnini effect was yet to be felt in all its suspect glory.

Traditional Latin Mass: A Review of Peter Kwasniewski’s Book ‘Noble Beauty’ | National Review

Too much too soon, contra-Vatican 2, “malleable”:

Disagreement over how the faithful should conduct their liturgy, or public worship, has dogged the Catholic Church for the past 50 years. The reasons are many, but three are especially salient:

-The liturgical changes that were introduced after the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) were sweeping — especially the new Mass, which replaced the centuries-old Latin Mass in 1969. Taken together, the changes to the Mass, the Church calendar, and other features of Catholic liturgy constitute the most extensive alteration that it has ever undergone.

-The liturgical changes of the 1960s were in defiance of both the letter and the spirit of what the bishops had called for at Vatican II: adjustment and reform. What they got instead was a complete revolution, delivered as a fait accompli less than five years after the Council ended.

-Where the traditional liturgy was fixed and regulated, the reformed version — again, the new Mass in particular — is highly malleable. It gives the clergy and their collaborators much greater license to be “creative” and to refashion the Mass (and other rites) for any given occasion, according to their varying tastes.

Other than that, a great idea.

Something stinky about post-Vatican II changes?

Consider the aftermath of an electrifying speech.  (8/28/2017)

In July the Vatican’s divine worship executive made a strong pitch for ad orientem masses (priest facing same direction as people) in a speech in England, was promptly countermanded by a higher-than-he at the Pope’s behest and was called in by the Pope himself.

What was that all about, including the prelate’s being summoned to the papal carpet before being reprimanded?

Well the prelate, Cardinal Robert Sarah, had “touched an ecclesial third rail,” Christian Browne wrote at the time in Crisis Magazine:

It seems that churchmen at the highest levels do not wish anyone to notice that certain practices associated with the Novus Ordo — Mass facing the people, Communion in the hand while standing, the use of laymen to distribute Holy Communion — have no grounding in the Missal of Paul VI, let alone in the mandate for liturgical reform set forth at the Second Vatican Council.

Rather, these practices sprouted up throughout the 1970s as a result of devastating anti-traditional fads that even the radical post-Council crafters of the 1969 Missal never envisioned.

Done with many a wink, many a nod. For the best of reasons, to be sure.

And no grounding? What the . . . ? More later on this aspect of the history of the new mass . . .


A CATHOLIC LAMENT, broadly stated:

1. The Latin was mysterious, signalling the (bona fide) mysteries of the Eucharist, vs. today’s liturgical populism, downgrading the mystical and downplaying the sacral.

2. The priest saying Mass was a functionary, reflecting the ex opere operato aspect of what he did.

3. The priest at mass was (presumably) a priest at prayer, absorbed in that aspect, which meant he did not look at or survey people, even when turning to them to pronounce a blessing or solicit response.

4. As functionary or performer of the sacred ritual, he was severely limited. Ritual reigned, ad libbing unheard of.

5. People looked forward and saw the priest facing in the same direction, a crucial element in the transaction but not its focus. (Important point here and now, when the priest has become the focus, people look at him, there being nothing else, presuming they pay attention to what’s going on.)

6. The priest never looked at the people, as noted. It was prayer time, for him and the rest of us, moments of silence and attempted communing with the supernatural.

7. Mass over, church remained a place of prayer, not reverting to a social hall, as if the Sacrament did not remain, ensconced in tabernacle.

8. All in all, there was less or no socializing in church, more or only reverence or at least silence.

It’s different now.

Father Freelance, continued . . .

We left only part way through this inspired rant by a distinguished scholar and analyst of all things Catholic, George Weigel, with this about how Father Freelance makes it up and he goes along while saying mass, “. . .  whether indulged by old, middle-aged, or young, it’s obnoxious and it’s an obstacle to prayer.”

George W. continued in that vein:

Especially now, I might note, given the restoration of the more formal rhythms of liturgical language in the English translations we’ve used since Advent 2011. Those translations are not faultless. But they’re a massive improvement on what we used to have . . .

How so?

. . .  by restoring sacral language that was peremptorily discarded in the previous translation, the current translation reminds us that Mass is far more than a social gathering; it’s an act of worship, the majesty of which should be reflected in the language of the liturgy-which is not the language of the shopping mall or the Super Bowl party.

True, omitting for the moment, the yet more solemn, special, uncommon language replaced by hook and by crook by the post-Vatican  2 fixers — you guessed it, the mother tongue of the West, Latin.

In one sense, though, the new translation has made things worse. For when Father Freelance scratches his itch to show just how congregation-friendly he is by making what he imagines are nifty changes to the Mass text, he instantly sets up sonic dissonance for anyone with a reasonably well-tuned ear. And sonic dissonance makes it hard to pray.

Perfect description of the problem — worst kind of distraction, like a radio jingle. Think the diabolical “kars for kids” or the number to call, repeated thrice, when you have to counter it with your own number, 1-2–3-4 will do, so you don’t remember it.

So with a civil new year upon us, [it was that time of year] may I suggest to our fathers in Christ that they cease and desist from making it up, juicing it up, or otherwise tinkering with the Missal? As an old liturgical saw has it, referring to the difference in color that distinguishes prayers from instructions in the Missal, “Read the black and do the red.” Just that, Father. Read the black and do the red. Or, better, pray the black and do the red.

A golden rule of thumb.

Such self-discipline on the part of celebrants would also help eliminate the clericalism (and worse) involved when Father Freelance, well, free-lances. For in metaphorically thumbing his nose at the Council’s clear injunction (not to mention the rubrics in the Missal), Father Freelance is de facto asserting his own superiority over the liturgy. And in doing so, he is, whether he intends it or not, downgrading the congregation’s role in offering right worship to the Thrice-Holy God.

A Daniel come to judgment!

In a properly celebrated Mass, the vocalized dialogue of prayer between celebrant and congregation takes place in a linguistic rhythm established by the shared text of the Mass. And that rhythm is broken when, to take one example that’s grated on me recently, the celebrant announces the Gospel reading by saying, “The Good News of the Lord as proclaimed by Luke.” To which the expected response, “Glory to you, O Lord,” sounds clunky, whereas it neatly answers the prescribed announcement, “A reading from the holy Gospel according to –.”

Getting into the slightly high weeds here, but what he flags would be jarring indeed.

It may come as a surprise to Father Freelance, but after more than four decades of priest-celebrants trying to be Johnny Carson, Bob Barker, Alex Trebek, or whomever, this act is getting very old. Father, you’re just not very good at it. Your freelancing is often banal, even silly. Moreover, you demean us by suggesting that we, the congregation, can’t handle the sacral language of the liturgy, and that we have to be jollied into participation. In fact, if you listen carefully, you’ll discover that congregational responses drop off when you invite a response in your terms, not the liturgy’s.

Ouch, ouch, double ouch. Let us not read Father out of the human race, but having said that though not so — ah — eloquently, I must agree.

So please, fathers in Christ, spare us these attempts at creativity, or user-friendliness, or whatever it is you think you’re doing. They just don’t work. Please just pray the black and do the red. And the worship Vatican II intended will be much enhanced thereby.

Amen, and I shrink from saying that word, having heard a parish priest in the ’70s use it for a brutally supposed common-man opener to the canon, singing, Sidney Poitier’s song in “Lilies of the Field,” —

Amen. Amen. Amen, amen, amen.
Sing it over!
Amen. Amen. Amen, amen, amen


And last but least . . .

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

And much, much more . . .

Musing: How to fix the mass 2016

A fellow does some noodling. What to do?

1. Overhaul sermon training. Make preaching an overriding emphasis. It’s a matter of getting people to know Jesus. If they do not get the preaching, how will they know Jesus?

2. Turn the altar around so the mass is no longer an extended sermon but a prayer in which priest and people are truly in it together, facing together toward God.

3. Restore Latin — for its own sake, a few of us feel, but as a special, ministerial language to be associated with the mass as unique in worshipers’ experience, unlikely to be compared to a family dinner, for instance.

4. Eliminate the handshake of peace as disruptive of this like-no-other experience.

5. Eliminate communion in the hand standing as distracting from and even disparaging the like-no-otherness of the ceremony, specifically the reality of transubstantiation. Eliminate wine communion.

6. Restore altar rails.

Dear Father: Please stop the liturgical freelancing (2016)

Priests who make it up as they go along.

If you’re a daily Mass attendant, the odds are that you’ve heard General Norm 22.3 of “Sacrosanctum concilium” violated on a weekly basis.

In all the sixteen documents of the Second Vatican Council, is there any prescription more regularly violated than General Norm 22.3 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? Which, in case you’ve forgotten, teaches that “no . . . person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority”?

The Spirit works in mysterious ways. This isn’t one of them.

If you’re a daily Mass attendant, the odds are that you hear that norm violated a dozen times a week. Sunday Mass people typically hear it violated two or three times a week, at least.

Auto-editing or flat-out rewriting the prescribed text of the Mass is virtually epidemic among priests who attended seminary in the late Sixties, Seventies, or early Eighties; it’s less obvious among the younger clergy.

But whether indulged by old, middle-aged, or young, it’s obnoxious and it’s an obstacle to prayer.

I’m with this writer, though less so since like Dr. Strangelove and the bomb, I have learned to stop worrying and love — the free-lancer.

Thing is, I can’t afford to be censorious in the matter. Talk about your obstacles to prayer. Been there, done that. No thanks.

Better to take it as part of the human comedy. Besides, currently I encounter far less of that lately: change of venue and all that, you know.

But I still encourage the writer, the eminent George Weigel, and applaud him for this.


Just in from loyal reader:

This morning during the live-streaming Mass from Green Bay’s cathedral, a retired priest filled in for the rector.

In a number of places he put in his pronoun of choice. Why would he change “he” to “Jesus” for instance?

It must gall him to say “Our Father.” This kind of stuff doesn’t usually happen at this mass.

It bugs me when a priest imposes his political/social views on me with no authority.

Or no more qualification than the guy on the next bar stool.

I feel this reader’s pain.


Some find themselves offered not bread but a stone:

One Catholic, who did not want to trash his parish, says he finds more sustenance these days sneaking off to the old Latin Mass. This isn’t because he’s a traditionalist, but because of its quiet and almost mystical aesthetic: lots of bells, lots of incense, no “awful” hymns badly sung but gorgeous Latin chants instead.

Something not of the everyday variety. Exactly the opposite. It’s a pastoral consideration that escaped post-Vatican 2 liturgy change agents.

Bad music – and bad singers leading the singing – was a frequent young Catholic complaint. One complainer, understanding how superficial that sounds, told me that bad music for him turns what’s supposed to be a sacred time into a [cringe-producing] endurance test.

It’s downright embarrassing [for him] when the cringeworthiness takes place at a Catholic funeral and he’s surrounded by non-Catholic friends.

My position is, in addition to the almost guaranteed mediocrity as above — substituting such marvels as “Amazing Grace” and “An Irish Lullaby” (what Barry Fitzgerald sang to his mother in “Going My Way”) for church music that survived the ages — you have performers, clerical and otherwise, who are too often not up to the challenge.

Big problem here. The stone-for-bread business is Scriptural, I must add: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” from Matthew 7.9.