Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The once upon a time Catholic Irish

How we went from (1) "How the Irish Saved Civilization,"back when the Irish monks copied everything they could get their hands on as they fanned out across Europe with the Gospel ... to (2) the loss of Catholic civilization in 40 years. Get the background here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stephen Colbert vs. Jack White: Catholic Throwdown:

Stephen Colbert and Jack White (the rock guitarist) try to one-up each other in a game of Catholic trivia. Advisory: the language is appalling. If you can get past that, there are some amusing moments. The most telling thing, of course, is how little either of them actually seem to know about Catholicism, sad to say. For example, Jack White says at one point that person conceived in the Immaculate Conception was Jesus, and Colbert says at another point that the Virgin Mary's mother was Elizabeth. Ah well ... all in the name of entertainment.

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Sanctuary with changes mandated by Vatican II

Pictured above is the sanctuary of the Brompton Oratory in London after all the changes had been made that were mandated for Catholic churches by Vatican II and post-Vatican II legislation. Yes, that's right. Read it again.

In short, NO changes were mandated -- not moving the Tabernacle from the central point in the altar, nor placing a chair in the middle of the sanctuary, or removing the Communion rails, or even Mass facing the people with the priest standing behind a free-standing altar.

I remember being amazed by this thesis when I first ran across it years ago, illustrated so simply and ably by Michael Davies in his little booklet, The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council. The photograph he used was of the sanctuary in the Brompton Oratory too, though not the same photo (as you can see at right).

Makes you stop and think, doesn't it? Especially if you're one of those people who prides himself in being a faithful "Vatican II Catholic"!

What happened?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inerrancy: J. Akin on PBC's May plenary discussion

The Plenary meeting of the Pontifical Biblical Commission from May 2-6, 2001, was announced this past April. In anticipation of the meeting, Jimmy Akin, always a careful analyst of Biblical issues, offered this post on April 19th.

Of special concern was the fact that Vatican II's Dei Verbum has a passage on the subject that is ambiguous at best. As Akin points out:
... the bottom line is that it is not as clear as it should be and is basically a compromise text worked out at the council between parties on different sides of the debate. (The behind-the-scenes history of it is quite interesting; it’s recorded in then Father Joseph Ratzinger’s contribution to the Vorgrimler commentaries on Vatican II, but these are very hard to come by).
A reader comments in an email: "I have that commentary. Ratzinger's comments are interesting and hopeful. Vorgrimler seems hopelessly ... liberal. In fact, I think Ratzinger only has two commentaries in the five volume set, and they are by far and away the best stuff in it. Everything else makes you realize again why academic or overly critical modern theology is routinely banal if not toxic."

Related articles by Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., S.T.D.[Hat tip to J.M.]

Tridentine Community News

Tridentine Community News (June 26, 2011):
New Pastors for St. Josaphat & Assumption-Windsor

On July 1, Fr. Darrell Roman becomes the new pastor of the cluster of St. Josaphat, St. Joseph, and Sweetest Heart of Mary Churches. Fr. Roman is a Detroit native and studied for the priesthood in Poland for the Society of Christ. He has served as assistant pastor of St. Florian, Hamtramck and St. Joseph, Lake Orion and is presently in the process of incardinating into the Archdiocese of Detroit. He has an interest in Latin Liturgy and has participated in the comments on some of the liturgical blogs, including Fr. Z’s. He plans to learn the Tridentine Mass soon. In the interim, the full rotation of celebrants who have served St. Josaphat Church in the past will resume.

Also on July 1, Fr. William Riegel, CSB becomes the new pastor of Windsor’s Assumption Parish, which includes Assumption Church and Holy Name of Mary Church. Fr. Riegel is a Basilian priest from Detroit who has most recently taught at and served as Director of Operations of the neighboring Assumption University. He takes this office at a critical time as construction will soon begin on the restoration of Assumption Church. Fr. Peter Hrytsyk remains the chaplain of Assumption’s Latin Mass Community.

We ask your prayers for our new pastors as well as for outgoing St. Josaphat pastor Fr. Paul Czarnota and outgoing Assumption pastor Fr. Paul Walsh as they begin their new ministries.

LLA Videos Available On-line

St. Michael’s Media has made available the recordings from the 2010 Latin Liturgy Association Convention. All of the talks and excerpts from Bishop Joseph Perry’s Pontifical Mass may be viewed on-line, on the Media page at:

DVDs of all of the above continue to be available from

Recommended Read: The Mass of Ages Magazine

Despite the plethora of information available about the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass on the Internet on web sites and blogs, there is still a place for traditional printed media.

A few newsletters exist, such as the Fraternity of St. Peter’s monthly publication and ones published a few times per year by the Institute of Christ the King and Una Voce America. The aforementioned are available free upon request. The Latin Liturgy Association publishes an occasional newsletter for its (paid) members. In the realm of traditional monthly periodicals, The Latin Mass magazine is perhaps the best known and most widely distributed glossy publication.

Less known in North America is The Mass of Ages, the superb quarterly magazine published by the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. With a diverse editorial mix, interesting content by a broad spectrum of authors, and extensive coverage of the thriving Tridentine Mass scene in the U.K., The Mass of Ages shows what is possible when a highly structured advocacy organization works relentlessly to place the Extraordinary Form in the mainstream of Catholic life. The Mass of Ages is widely distributed in Catholic bookshops in the U.K., alongside The Catholic Herald and The Catholic Times, newspapers which give a comparable amount of coverage to Extraordinary Form matters as North American Catholic newspapers typically allocate to pro-life or social justice issues.

The Mass of Ages is sent at no charge to members of the Latin Mass Society. Membership and single copy purchase information is available at:

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 06/27 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria [Celebrant may choose a Votive Mass])

Tue. 06/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Vigil of Ss. Peter & Paul)

Wed. 06/29 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ss. Peter & Paul, Apostles)

Fri. 07/01 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Sacred Heart of Jesus) [First Friday]

Sat. 07/02 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ) [First Saturday]
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for June 26, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Political Problem of Religious Pluralism

Christopher Oleson reviews Thaddeus Kozinski, The Political Problem of Religious Pluralism: And Why Philosophers Can't Solve It.

To the typical inhabitant of a modern liberal democracy, the title of Thaddeus Kozinski's intriguing new book will probably sound a little puzzling, inasmuch as, within contemporary democractic culture, religious pluralism is not generally understood to be a "political problem." On the contrary, for the democratic soul, religious pluralism seems to be more a positive good, something to be protected and celebrated, rather than "solved" or overcome. One's religious commitments would have to be "extreme" and thus "anti-democratic" to take issue with liberalism's positive affirmation of religious diversity, for it is one of democratic modernity's greatest achievements to have crafted institutional arrangements that allow for the easy co-existence of various religious groups both with one another and with the overarching liberal political order.

* * * * * * *
Secular democratic modernity can only claim not to have a religious pluralism problem because it has already implicitly solved this problem by subtly emasculating traditional religious identity

* * * * * * *

One of the many insights of Thaddeus Kozinski's valuable contribution to the on-going conversation about the relationship between Faith and politics is to articulate with precision how secular democratic modernity can only claim not to have a religious pluralism problem because it has already implicitly solved this problem by subtly emasculating traditional religious identity and establishing, under the false veil of political neutrality, institutional arrangements charged with theological and metaphysical significance.

Thus, only by becoming enculturated to re-interpret religious belief in such a way that it can have no substantive implications for the social and political order, and correspondingly, by becoming miseducated to not notice the tacit establishment of a quite partisan sense of the good, freedom, and selfhood, do the citizens of secular democracies think that they have a neutral social order that need not view religious pluralism as politically problematic. For those whose religious creed is not merely an emotional accoutrement, this situation is obviously deeply troublesome, for the logic of secular liberalism, as Kozinski makes clear, would force the believer to treat his Faith commitments as merely therapeutic preferences of an autonomous self.

Clarifying this situation and working towards articulating a solution to it which is at once both honest about its principles, coherent in working them out, and politically expressive of the truth and ultimate happiness of man is the task that Kozinski sets himself in his book. He does this by successively engaging the thought of three influential and progressively illuminating political philosophers. John Rawls, Jacques Maritain, and Alasdair MacIntyre. Rawls serves as the quintessential philosophical voice of secular democratic liberalism, Maritain as the exponent of a Catholic hybridization of Thomistic political philosophy and modern democratic ideals, and MacIntyre as the most penetrating philosophical critic of liberal modernity and advocate of a local Thomistic politics of the common good against the bureaucratic nation-state.

Of the three, Kozinski is by far the most sympathetic to MacIntyre. Nevertheless, even his proposal falls short in Kozinski's eyes, for MacIntyre's vision of small communities of virtue does not quite attain to the level of truly political existence, remaining as it does, Kozinski claims, too local in its aspirations. More importantly for Kozinski, MacIntyre's thought problematically remains at the level of mere philosophy. Studiously avoiding the role of theologian, MacIntyre deprives himself of the resources of political theology, and thereby fails to affirm the necessity of a public recognition of divine revelation and Magisterial teaching as the most propitious conditions for a stable and morally healthy political state. As Kozinski's subtitle indicates, philosophy as such can offer little or no light on how to move a community of seriously diverse worldviews to a unified political order of virtue and human happiness. Only the eventual achievement of a confessionally Catholic state, Kozinski concludes, can overcome the limitations of political philosophy in general, and liberal modernity in particular.

The Feast of Corpus Christi

Bishop: "Renewal heralded by Council has not come to pass"

The Bishop of Bruges, Belgium, Mgsr. Jef De Kesel, was reported by the Dutch website,, as offering the following grim prognosis on the strategy of "openness to the modern world" set by Vatican II (translation by In Caelo):
The renewal that the Council had heralded so promising, has not come to pass, at least not to the scale that people had imagined. The Council pleaded for a greater openness to modern culture. And rightly so. But modern culture unavoidably means a secular culture and a secular culture equally unavoidably means a non-Christian culture. That is something that the Council and the following post-conciliar renewal has insufficiently recognised. On the contrary, it sooner thought that openness to modern culture would lead to a return to an admittedly modern, but yet also Christian culture. Which did not happen. Which obviously did not happen. A much more fundamental process of change in western culture was what it was about. It was not, and still is not only about a Church which was to adapt to the new culture. It was about this culture, as a culture, bidding farewell to Christianity. And for Christianity this does not mean the end, but the end of a status that it had had here for centuries: that of a cultural religion, the religion that grounded culture and held it together and was therefore universally recognised and accepted. The Council itself could do nothing about this process of change, which was not on the agenda of the Council. It is a process of change that started long before the Council and which continued after the Council. The question remains not so much how the Church should continue to adapt to modern culture, but what it means to be Church in a modern and therefore thoroughly secular, non-Christian world.

We continue to think that, if the Church would reach out to modern culture, that that culture would once again stand up for her. We are still searching for the adapted liturgy of the new language which would finally solve the problem of the loss of relevance of Christianity. But it remains to be seen if we will ever find it. In that way we keep on suffering from a fundamental and unspoken frustration in our pastoral work, our way of being Church and of Church renewal.

It is not right that a Church which consistently modernises would again convince everyone. It is hard and painful to accept that the Gospel is no longer considered relevant for everyone. A Church that is more consistently adapted to modernity will not lead to a return to the past. It will never again be like the past. In a lengthy process of which Vaticanum II was merely a symptom, the west had not only bid farewell to a certain unadapted form of Christian, but has Christianity steadily ceased to be the cultural religion of western civilisation.
[Hat tip to Pascal at Rorate Caeli]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pray for Fr. Z

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf makes this Request today, a request repeated for some days:
May I please ask your prayers for the time being.

The devil is abroad.

Many thanks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Tridentine Community News (June 19, 2011):
[Today’s column is an update of our June 25, 2006 edition.] If you have been attending the Tridentine Mass for a while, you have surely noticed that a greater variety of vestments is used than is typically seen at a Novus Ordo Mass. Today we will examine what they are, as well as their symbolism.

The base garment that a priest wears is the black cassock, or robe. This is the same type of robe that altar servers wear. Over the shoulders of the cassock, a priest wears an amice, a white hood-like garment that symbolizes the helmet of salvation.

Over the cassock, he wears an alb, a white outer garment that signifies purity of conscience. (Altar servers wear a white surplice over their cassocks.)

Around the waist, he wears a girdle, also known as a cincture, a cord which functions as a sort of belt and represents modesty and purity.

The stole is the long strip of cloth worn around the neck and crossed across the chest. It represents the Yoke of Christ. In the Novus Ordo, one often sees the stole uncrossed and [incorrectly] worn outside the chasuble, but in the Tridentine Mass, it is worn underneath.

The maniple, a short strip of cloth, similar to a shorter stole, is worn over the left arm. The maniple is a sign of subservience to the Lord, in much the same way that the cloth that a waiter in a formal restaurant wears over his arm represents his readiness to serve his patrons. The maniple is worn during Mass, but is removed for the Homily, which is technically not a part of the Mass. During the Homily, the priest is teaching the people, therefore the symbol of subservience is temporarily taken off. The maniple was made optional in the Novus Ordo.

The biretta is the distinctive hat worn by the priest, deacon, and subdeacon as they enter and depart the sanctuary. Subdeacons, deacons, and priests wear black birettas; bishops purple; and cardinals red.

A clear distinction is made between what a priest wears during the Mass, as opposed to before and after the Mass. The Aspérges, or sprinkling with Holy Water, is technically outside of Mass (before Mass) in the Tridentine rite. (In the Novus Ordo, the Aspérges is one of the options for the Penitential Rite, and is therefore considered to be within the Mass.) Similarly, if Benediction or a procession is to follow Mass, that is considered to be external to the Mass, as well.

For these reasons, the priest wears a cope, an ornate cloak with a small cape on top, draped over the shoulders and fastened with a clasp under the neck, for the Aspérges and many post-Mass services. When holding the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament during Benediction and processions, the priest wears a humeral veil like a shawl over his shoulders and hands.

The chasuble is the principal vestment of the priest during Mass. It symbolizes the purple cloak Our Lord wore while being crowned with thorns; the priest is acting in persóna Christi. If there was an Aspérges before Mass, the priest removes his cope and puts on his maniple and chasuble before Mass begins. Most chasubles one sees today are “Gothic”, or poncho-like. Gothic vestments used for a Tridentine Mass are typically more ornate than their Novus Ordo counterparts. When most people think of the vestment of a priest in a Tridentine Mass, they typically recall a “Roman”, or “fiddleback”, chasuble, so named because the front side of the vestment resembles the shape of a string instrument. The back side is squared-off.

In a Solemn High Mass, two additional sacred ministers assist the priest: A deacon is the principal assistant; in place of a chasuble, he wears a shorter dalmatic. A subdeacon is the second assistant; he wears a tunicle, which is a slightly less ornate dalmatic. The subdeacon does not wear a stole.

Liturgical Colors

Violet vestments are used during Advent and Lent as a sign of penance. Rose is used on Gaudéte Sunday in Advent and Lætáre Sunday in Lent, to signify a break from the penitential season. Red is used for Pentecost and Feasts of Martyrs, to symbolize fire and bloodshed, respectively. Black is used for All Souls Day and Requiem Masses. White is used during joyful seasons such as Christmas and Easter and on Marian and other Feasts representing purity. Green, the Church’s “generic” color, is used on Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Pentecost. Gold vestments may be used in place of green, white, or red as a sign of solemnity.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 06/20 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Silverius, Pope & Martyr)

Tue. 06/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Confessor)

Fri. 06/24 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Nativity of St. John the Baptist)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for June 19, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Friday, June 17, 2011

A hard core pro-lifer

I had the singular privilege of meeting this "diminutive woman of deliberate mien" recently at a gathering of students, mostly from Madonna University, who had just finished a semester-long course at Sacred Heart Major Seminary with me. She was introduced to me by her Madonna students, who clearly held her in highest esteem, simply as "Dr. Miller." I learned through conversation with her that she was a theology professor at Madonna University, and from her students that she was involved in pro-life work.

I never dreamed, however, that this self-effacing "diminutive woman of deliberate mien," as she is described by Damien Cave in the New York Times, was involved in the kind of underground work in anti-abortion activism so grizzly that most U.S. Marines could not stomach it, or that her view of the risks involved would be exemplified in her annual commemoration of her first stint in jail as though she was celebrating her birthday.

Monica Migliorino Miller, is not only Professor of Theology at Madonna University and the Director of Citizens for a Pro- Life Society. She is a veritable pro-life commando who has undertaken periodic missions deep into enemy territory in the Empire of Death.

In one mission, as Damien Cave reports in his NYT article:
Acting on a tip, between February and September of 1988, she said they retrieved around 4,000 fetuses that had been shipped there from a dozen or so abortion clinics nationwide. (A protracted lawsuit tied to their efforts ended in 2003.)

Mrs. Migliorino Miller said the boxes filled spare rooms in her apartment and others for nearly a year. “We didn’t feel we could put them in storage,” she said.

In 1988, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, archbishop of Chicago, presided over a funeral for around 2,000 of the fetuses. Activists buried many others.
The objective was to bring the reality of the abortion holocaust to the public's attention with as much vivid realism as possible. Cave reports:
[I]n 1987, she said a tip led her to a Chicago alley with dozens of boxed-up fetuses in a trash-hauling bin.

That was when she took her first fetal pictures. She described her initial motivation as journalistic. “We felt it was very important to make a record of the reality of abortion,” she said.

The process was a challenge: the fetuses, hard to handle; the scent of the formaldehyde solution, enough to burn the nose. Shooting could only be done up close.
"Maybe 50 percent of the graphic images of abortion victims that you'll find online are probably my photography," says Dr. Miller.

[Acknowledgements: Damien Cave, "Behind the Scenes: Picturing Fetal Remains" (New York Times, October 9, 2009), via Caeli Finn; and a tip of the hat to Danny, Alma & Dominic Daniels for hosting a most remarkable gathering.]

How the vernacular is a vast improvement over Latin

FUNNY!!! Intrepid blog master of Rorate Caeli, responding to Cardinal Kasper's audacious claim that Catholics communicated better before the Council (no joke), and to the question whether anything at all was qualitatively improved following the last Ecumenical Council, dares to reply:
Ah, yes, the vernacular - it was indeed impossible to understand those "services conducted in Latin"!

[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fr. Kimel goes East

Teófilo de Jesús (Vivificat, June 14, 2011) writes:
Brethren, according to the blog Titus One Nine, hosted by the Reverend Canon Doctor Kendall Harmon, Fr. Al Kimel, who once was an Episcopal priest, and then was received in the Catholic Church, has again moved and this time to Eastern Orthodoxy. Apparently he was ordained last Pentecost Sunday as a Western Rite priest in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). Father Kimel was a frequent commentator and a guest writer here in Vivificat, and once had his own, highly-regarded blog.
Rev. Harmon writes: "For those of you who may not know, Al is the former rector of Holy Communion, Charleston, S.C. In 1998 it was written about him:
Father Alvin Kimel, Jr. became the 15th rector of the parish in November 1996. He is a scholar and accomplished liturgist. His efforts include an emphasis on improving music to complement the choral Eucharist and to generally raise the beauty of worship. Father Kimel is a superb teacher from the pulpit, in the classroom, and by published worship aid always available in the Church. He is well on his way to a successful ministry and the future of the Church of the Holy Communion looks bright.
"A number of years later, Al wrote about himself:
Al Kimel... was a parish priest in the Episcopal Church for twenty-five years. He has published articles in the Anglican Theological Review, Sewanee Theological Review, Interpretation, Scottish Journal of Theology, Worship, Faith & Philosophy, Pro Ecclesia, and First Things. He has also edited two books: Speaking the Christian God and This is My Name Forever. He began [the blog] Pontifications in March 2004 as a way to reflect on the meaning of the Church and to invite others to share in these reflections. In June 2005 he entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. On 3 December 2006 he was ordained a priest in the Catholic Church. He is currently serving as the lay Catholic chaplain at Kean University in Union, New Jersey."
[Hat tip to Sean Fagan]

George Weigel vs. pre-V2 teaching on Social Kingship of Christ

This would be comical if it weren't so palpably painful to watch. Look at the body language of EWTN news anchor, Raymond Arroyo and George Weigel as they listen to the traditionalist caller. They are sooooo obviously, uncomfortably impatient.

Now granted, the traditionalist comes off sounding completely silly, by calling for a Constitutional Amendment declaring Christ King. But why does it sound silly?

NOT for the reasons that Joseph Bottum or George Weigel give, I would argue.

First Things editor, Joseph Bottum, referring to the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, former Editor of First Things magazine, says that Richard would have found such a prospect totally unacceptable and "un-American," ... "precisely because America is not a Catholic country." Jesus Christ "is King," he says, but over us "as individuals," and calling us to something "beyond the nation." But the idea that the state should declare Christ King is un-American.

So much for King Jesus. Jesus may be King over our hearts and King over the nation-transcending community of the Church, at least as long as His Kingship doesn't violate the rights of a woman to choose, etc., but He can't be King over the state, apparently.

George Weigel suggests that Neuhaus "would say, ... as John Paul II would say, ... as the Second Vatican Council would say, that that's simply not the business of the state; that the state is incompetent to make those sorts of judgments.... The state is incompetent to make theological judgments."

What??? This is absurd.

First, the question is not one of competency. This is not the sort of judgment that requires a degree in theology. The declaration that Christ is King can be made by any child, family, private college or state university, or government that wants to make it. In fact it was made repeatedly by monarchs in Western history since the conversion of Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Second, the question is not one of overlooking the separation of church and state. The Church is not the state, true. Ceasar is not God. But Caesar owes God his obedience, whether he knows this or not. We still have "In God we trust" on our national coinage; we still have an official senate chaplain, whose office at one time in our history was overtly Christian; as was, not so long ago, the office of our state land grant universities, which used to require compulsory Christian chapel attendance at schools like Purdue University. No, the problem is not there.

The problem is not a difficult one to understand. This is not rocket science. The problem is the great apostasy of the political community, the mass rebellion of our contemporary society against the reign of Christ. This is what makes laughable nonsense of traditionalist caller's suggestion of a Constitutional Amendment declaring Christ Lord. Who would support it? President Barack Obama? John Kerry? Nancy Pelosi?

There is nothing wrong with the caller's perspective in principle. Nothing at all. It expresses the perennial teaching of the Church from the time of Constantine until the Second Vatican Council. The only problem with it is a practical one: there is nobody currently who could possibly implement it short of the parousia of King Jesus Himself.

For anyone interested, I have completed my commentary (on this subject) on Fr. Martin Rhonheimer's essay, entitled "The 'Hermeneutic of Reform' and Religious Freedom," about which I posted an article a couple of weeks ago (see "Who's Betraying Tradition: The Grand Dispute," Musings June 2, 2011). I've posted them as an update to the post linked immediately above, and also below:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Concupiscence, disordered desire, sin

One of our many "Anonymous" commentators recently posted a link to Mark Shea's piece, "Concupiscence is not a sin" (Crisis Magazine, June 14, 2011). Shea's piece is about the young man who killed himself at 38 after undergoing “reparative therapy” in his youth for his feminine behavior.

I have no time at the moment to allow myself to be drawn into a debate about "ex-gay" movements, such as the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). I do know that NARTH is one of the favorite whipping boys [sic] for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning) crowd. I do also know that the percentage of those who have responded positively to such therapies is not negligible. Leave it at that.

Shea compares same-sex-attraction (SSA) to gluttony and asks why the latter is shrugged off as a peccadillo by the "cultural Right," while even a whiff of homosexual orientation is treated with contempt. Perhaps so. But he uses the terms "concupiscence" and "disordered desire" in reference to both, confusing two different senses of the terms.

Both gluttony and SSA are doubtless disordered desires, and both require self-mastery no less than the inclination of those who suffer opposite-sex-attraction (OSA). But OSA is not a disordered desire unless it becomes addictive as it often does in extramarital recreational sex. Which means that SSA is disordered in a different sense than the natural desire to procreate or the natural desire to eat. Neither of the latter inclinations are in themselves disordered. They become disordered only when out of control. SSA is disordered even when it is fully under control -- something which our bishops are altogether reluctant to talk about these days (understandably, given the environment).

Where Shea is absolutely right is his statement that concupiscence itself is not a sin. A disordered desire like SSA is no more a sin in itself than OSA. Aboriginally, SSA is an effect of the Fall, as Shea suggests, just as, say, a predisposition to alcoholism or violent temper is. People born with predispositions bear no responsibility for them, but nobody is born a serial killer; and nobody is born a drunk -- unless Chesterton was right in supposing that Americans do not need to drink in order to get drunk because they are simply born that way. Which means, as St. Thomas says, that it's not a mortal sin to be drunk unless you knowingly put yourself in that state. Which also means that Shea may bear more responsibility for his Chestertonian girth than a person suffering from SSA does. In fact, the latter bears no culpability whatsoever, unless he or she knowingly acts upon the disposition -- unlike the eater or drinker who wakes up to discover that he's gotten drunk and fat accidentally.

An article no less compelling on the subject at hand was recently called to my attention by our San Francisco correspondent, an article by Melinda Selmys entitled, "Authentic Dialogue Is Possible" (Pertinacious Pages, June 14, 2011 -- reproduced by permission of the NOR editor). Have a look, if you're so inclined.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pray for the renewal of the Church

What better time than the Octave of Pentecost?

Life imitates art! The American Catholic Council’s “Litany of Lament”

His Sardonic Selfhood, Fr. Z goes hog wild on the American Catholic Council’s recent program at the Cobo Center in Detroit, about which, you may remember, the good Archbishop Vigneron warned the Archdiocese (Musings, June 5, 2011). "On the opening day," says Fr. Z, "they had a moving and meaningful paraliturgy which included the Litany of Lament"! Read more >>

Tones of the Preface

Tridentine Community News (June 12, 2011):
On your way to work or school every day, you probably take a regular route. You can drive it without thinking, every turn being ingrained into your habits. One day, the road is closed, and you have to start thinking again; how can I get to my destination? What side streets or alternative routes will work?

So it is with the Preface Responses in the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass. Virtually all of the time, we are accustomed to singing the Tonus Solémnis, or Solemn Tone of the Preface Dialog. You know the tune. It goes like this:

Recently, however, Mass requests have been coming in for High Requiem Masses on weekdays (on Fourth Class Feasts or Ferias on which the Daily Mass for the Dead is allowed). In a Requiem Mass, it is not permitted to sing the Solemn Tone of the Preface. Instead, the celebrant must use the more modest Ferial Tone. The Ferial Tone is also specified for High Masses on Ferias and lower-class Feasts, but we rarely hear it because we ordinarily have Low Masses on those days. It is therefore appropriate to make our readers aware of this requirement and to present the music for the Preface Dialog in the Tonus Feriális, or Ferial Tone:

While we are on the subject, we would be remiss if we did not mentioning the third Preface Tone, the Tonus Solémnior, or More Solemn Tone. This is a relatively complicated melody to sing and is typically only attempted by our most musically skilled celebrants on special occasions or on major feasts such as Christmas. The More Solemn Tone Preface settings are contained in an appendix of the altar missal, indicating that the Church does not expect them to be used as often as the two other Preface Tones, both of which are provided within the central body of the missal. The More Solemn Tone Preface Dialog is as follows:

If we are aware that a celebrant plans to use the More Solemn Tone Preface, we will print the music in the Propers Handout. As for the Ferial Tone Preface, it is simple and similar enough to the conventional Solemn Tone Preface that we encourage those who attend our weekday Masses to become familiar with it, so that a “detour” does not derail you during the Holy Mass.

Special Tridentine Mass in Lapeer

On Sunday, June 26 at 12:30 PM, Immaculate Conception Parish in Lapeer, Michigan will hold a special Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Celebrant for the Mass will be Fr. Clement Suhy, OSB. Immaculate Conception has been on the Latin Mass radar screen for quite some time: Every Thursday at 8:45 AM, a Latin Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated. More tellingly, this parish is one of few in North America to use “Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Canticles”, the superb hymnal published by the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 06/13 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Pentecost Monday)

Tue. 06/14 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Pentecost Tuesday)

Wed. 06/15 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ember Wednesday)

Fri. 06/16 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ember Friday)

Sat. 06/18 Noon: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ember Saturday)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for June 12, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Sacred Heart EF triple grand slam

L-R: Fr. Charles White, Deacon David Bechill

Today's Holy Mass at St. Josephat, the Solemn High Mass of Pentecost Sunday, was the most formal kind of Holy Mass that a priest can celebrate. A deacon and subdeacon assisted the celebrant with the ceremonies.

Today was not only the Feast of Pentecost, but also the second anniversary of the ordination of our celebrant, Fr. Charles White, to whom St. Josephat Church owe a debt of gratitude for regularly making time in his schedule to celebrate our Masses.

The Reverend Mr. David Bechill, Transitional Deacon, Archdiocese of Detroit, served as deacon at today's Mass, and also beautifully chanted the Gospel and delivered an exegetically well-developed sermon, drawing on diverse passages from the Old and New Testaments on the subject of the Holy Spirit.

Mr. Tim Ferguson served as subdeacon and delivered a remarkably smooth and melodious chanting of the Epistle. I told him afterwards he would have made a fine priest.

L-R: Subdeacon Furgeson, Fr. White, Deacon Bechill

Fr. White is a graduate of Sacred Heart Major Seminary currently serving at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in Plymouth, Michigan. Deacon Bechill is completing his last year at SHMS in preparation for his ordination to the priesthood. Mr. Ferguson serves as canon lawyer for the Archdiocesan Tribunal of Detroit and also serves as adjunct professor at SHMS. All three are obviously well-connected!

Deo gratias.

[Hat tip to Christopher Din at Exultate Iuste in Domino]

Friday, June 10, 2011

A priest on his first publicly celebrated Solemn TLM

Fr. Kyle Schnippel posted a sermon from this first publicly celebrated Mass on his site Called by Name.

There are four wonderful photos on the site Ten Reasons.

Here are Fr. Zuhlsdorf's comments.

[Hat tip to Fr. Z.]

Thursday, June 09, 2011

John Jay report a "whitewash" of clerical homosexuality?

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice recently released its report, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, on the clerical sex scandals that came to light over the past decade. Some have alleged that the study is a "whitewash" of the issue of clerical homosexuality, since the report denies that a man engaging in sexual acts with a post-pubescent teen male should be called a "homosexual" if he doesn't think of himself as a homosexual.

Linguistic allergy against "Thee," "Thou" & "Thy"

This is so silly. We seem to have no problem with these traditional terms in the Our Father. But the CENSORS seems to have major problems with them anywhere else -- even when it would seem most natural and ... dare I say it? ... fitting and even beautiful.

My English translation of the daily prayers of the Novena to the Holy Spirit has words like "possesseth" and "hast vouchsafed" in it. Okay, "old fashioned," maybe; but not a problem.
  • "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."

  • "Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy spirit, and hast given us forgiveness of all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven ...."
But then it insists on substituting "You" and "Your" for [nearly] every instance of the second person singular referring to God.
  • "I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness."
I say "nearly" every instance, because the CENSORS missed one "Thee"!!!

Ha! Fie, foul Censor! Thou spleeny fool-born pigeon-egg! Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch! Thou spleeny toad-spotted bum-bailey! Thou pribbling shard-borne mammet! (Who said Elizabethan English couldn't communicate today?)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Ozorak Chant Sheet Book Released

Tridentine Community News (June 5, 2011):
The Society of St. John Cantius has released the previously mentioned first volume of Michel Ozorak’s Gregorian Chant Sheets for the celebrant at Holy Mass. With a red cover with detailed golden artwork and gilt-edged pages, the book is a work of art, comparable to the finest Catholic liturgical books of the past. A web page about the book and details about ordering are at:

A copy is available in the sacristy of Windsor’s Assumption Church for those interested in seeing the book. Of course, Michel’s Chant Sheets will also continue to be hosted at

Michel Ozorak Profiled in the Catholic Herald

Intrepid London, England journalist and Extraordinary Form promoter Mary O’Regan has published an article describing Michel Ozorak’s Chant Sheet project in this week’s edition of the U.K.’s Catholic Herald newspaper. The Herald is, roughly speaking, the U.K. equivalent of the U.S.’ Wanderer newspaper in content and editorial style. The article, entitled “Ten Catholics Doing Amazing Work”, will be available on-line for at least a few days at:

Copies of the newspaper will be available in the sacristies of St. Josaphat and Assumption Churches before the end of June for those who may wish to read it in print.

Meatless Fridays Reinstated in the U.K.

Speaking of England, in a bold step to restore Catholic tradition, the Bishops of England and Wales announced on May 13 that effective September 16, 2011, it will become once again obligatory under pain of sin for Catholics in those countries to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year.

After Vatican II, most bishops’ conferences decided that abstinence on Fridays was still recommended as a sign of penance, but that other penitential observances were permitted as alternatives. For the majority of Catholics there is little if any awareness of the Friday penitential obligation. The U.K. bishops are to be commended for imposing a rule that takes an important step to make penance a more regular part of our lives, as well as reclaims a part of our Catholic identity.

Solemn High Mass on Pentecost Sunday

Next Sunday, June 12, St. Josaphat Church’s regular 9:30 AM Mass will be a Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon, commemorating the second anniversary of the ordination of Fr. Charles White. Fr. White has been actively involved in local Extraordinary Form Masses and is a regular celebrant at St. Josaphat.

Reception of Convert on June 26

For the second year in a row, the Windsor Tridentine Mass Community at Assumption Church will be pleased to receive a convert to the Catholic Church. On Sunday, June 26 at the regular 2:00 PM Mass, Fr. Peter Hrytsyk will perform the ceremony of Reception of Barbara Jean Wilcox according to the Extraordinary Form. Latin/English handouts will be provided so all can follow the ceremony.

Another Interesting Web Site

A reader has recommended another locally-produced architectural web site. Similar to the previously mentioned Detroit Church Blog, the Detroit Catholic Churches site [hosted, as SHMS seminarian Mr. Matthew Hood informs me, by the accomplished fellow seminarian, Mr. David Keyser] showcases many of our historic edifices. While still rather new, this site promises to develop an interesting library of photos. See:

Detroit Architectural Books

While we are on the subject of Detroit churches, it is worth reminding our readers about the two picture books available that feature photos of our historic churches. Both are by Archdiocesan Archivist Roman Godzak. One is “Make Straight the Path”, a coffee table sized book available at the Catholic Book Store at 1232 Washington Blvd. downtown. This book is notable for having St. Josaphat Church on the cover. The second is “Catholic Churches of Detroit”, one of the sepia-toned books published by Arcadia Books and available at many local bookstores. The first book has fewer, but color photos; the second has more pictures, but all in black and white.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 06/06 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Norbert, Bishop & Confessor)

Tue. 06/07: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Requiem Mass)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for June 5, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Archbishop Vigneron on ACC event: "I am compelled to caution any priests or deacons..."

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS, over at Te Deum laudamus (June 24, 2011) writes:
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit fired off another shot across the bow for those participating, or thinking of participating in the American Catholic Council (ACC) event in Detroit next weekend. The ACC is an umbrella group for just about every organization which openly dissents from Catholic teaching. Sadly, the conference is taking place at the same time as ordinations in Detroit.
She includes the Archbishop Vigneron's letter in her post. Read more >>

How sanctuary furniture arrangements preach heresy

On a visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, I found the words of Bishop Thomas Joseph Shahan, who, before the Shrine was built, wrote in 1914 that the Shrine would be a "monument of love and gratitude, a great hymn in stone as perfect as the art of man can make it and as holy as the intentions of its builders could wish it to be."

The idea of a "hymn in stone" stuck with me, and I have often though about how the Catholic Faith is something that can be proclaimed not only in sermons and in words, or even hymns, but also in the stone of architecture and interior arrangement of furniture inside a church. How beautiful those churches that escaped the wreck-o-vations of the last century, where everything draws the eye front-and-center to the Lord, with statues of cherubum bowing in adoration of His Presence in the Tabernacle above the altar.

By the same token, how often we have entered "worship spaces" erected over the last several decades, where the eye is drawn ... nowhere in particular. A crucifix (or something like one) may be positioned off-center to the left with an ambo in front of it. An altar (or something like one) may be positioned off-center to the right with the presider's throne-like chair to its side. The Tabernacle (or something like one) may be removed to the side of the church, or, even more absurdly, to the back (as at St. Therese in Mooresville, NC). If one were to genuflect, he would have to turn his back to the altar. If one were to bow toward the altar, he would do so while turning his back to the Lord. Likewise, pews may be arranged in the round, compounding the difficulties. Lectors who bow after reading, look like they are paying obeisance to a polyester-robed monarch, while slighting the Lord.

Whatever a priest may say in his homily, this is a sermon in sanctuary furniture arrangement that loudly proclaims disorientation and confusion. To the extent that Catholics today may protest that such details "don't matter," they give voice to a post-Catholic, post-sacramental view of the relation of the internal to the external, the spirit to flesh, that is more like the sensibilities of Quakerism than those of Catholic tradition.

Over at Vultus Christi Fr. Mark Kirby, OSB, offers a very thoroughgoing reflection on this problem, re-posted as "New, Corrected Translation won’t be enough" (WSTPRS, June 5, 2011). Here are some excerpts with red commentary by Fr. Z:
Mass Facing the People: The Single Greatest Obstacle to the Reform [That is what the great liturgist Klaus Gamber thought. Turning altars around was single most damaging thing done in the wake of the Council.]

Here in Italy it is evident that churches were designed and constructed with an eye to the absolute centrality of the altar with priest and people facing together in the same direction. The placement, within perfectly proportioned sanctuaries, of secondary altars to allow for Mass facing the people has utterly destroyed the harmony, order, and spaciousness that the Sacred Liturgy, by its very nature, requires. [Isn't it jarring to go into a church where the focus has been shifted?]

Apart from these considerations, the most deleterious effect continues to be the magnification of the priest and of his personality. The theological direction of all liturgical prayer — ad Patrem, per Filium, in Spiritu — is obscured, while the priest, even in spite of himself, appears to be, at every moment, addressing the faithful or engaging personally with them. [The Novus Ordo tends to place more emphasis on the priest anyway, since he is constantly yakking at you. Then, make him face the people and you get... ]It’s All About Me

Certain priests and bishops, marked by a streak of narcissism, abuse their position in front of and over the congregation to soak up the attention and energy of the faithful, attention and energy that, by right, belong to God alone during the Sacred Liturgy.

Placed in front of and over the congregation, priests an bishops all too easily give in to an arrogant liturgical clericalism, subjecting the faithful to their own additions amendments, comments, and embolisms....
There's a good bit more; then Fr. Kirby says:
The New English Translation of the Roman Missal will not, of itself, be enough to bring about an authentic reform and renewal of the Novus Ordo Missae. A deeper and broader reform is needed, one that must, necessarily, begin with bishops and with their priests charged with the care of souls. [Which is why we need wide-spread use of the Extraordinary Form: to teach us the Roman Rite again.]

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The New Gay Evangelization

"Clerics! Seminarians! Rejoice!"

With these enthusiastic words, Fr. Z. introduces a new book for review from the Canons at St. John Cantius in Chicago. "This is a book they prepared," he writes. Well, that isn't quite the full story of where the book is from or who prepared it, but more on that in a moment.

What book? The Canticum Clericorum Romanum: Roman Clerical Chants - The Epistles, Gospels, and Orations of the 1962 Missale Romanum in Musical Notation. Fr. Z explains:
This is a book, if you are a priest, seminarian, lay person involved in liturgical worship in the Extraordinary Form, You.Should.Buy." (emphasis in the original; bold added)
Priests, deacons (actual deacons and priests who serve as deacons), laymen who serve as “straw subdeacons”... must sing texts. You wind up looking at examples of paradigmatic texts in, say, the Liber Usualis, and then you look at the Missale, perhaps making a photocopy, perhaps penciling in lines under the vowel where you are supposed to go up....

Sound familiar?

This book has it all. Or almost this book, because it is volume ONE.
In other words, this book provides everything a priest or deacon needs, with all the notation and musical cues, to chant everything in the usus antiquior liturgy. As Fr. Z says, "Guessing how to sing that prayer? Not anymore."

Now back to where the book is from and who prepared it. In a recent Catholic Herald article, entitled "Ten Catholics do amazing work," Mary O’Regan profiles the work of Canadian Michel Ozorak, who "was recently awarded the Golden Rose by the Friars Minor of Chicago for making Gregorian Chant sheets accessible to the whole world." Noting the significance of Ozorak's work, she adds: "Nothing like this has been available before. (emphasis added) Several books provide the tones for chanting, but one needs to be expert in Gregorian Chant to use them."

Our readers may remember our earlier posts "Michel Ozorak to Receive Golden Rose Award on April 3" (Musings, March 27, 2011), and "Biretta Books to Publish Ozorak Chant Sheets in Book Form" (Musings, April 10, 2011).

The Golden Rose is an award traditionally awarded to accomplished Catholics by Popes, a custom now followed by the St. John Cantius Society in granting the award to Mr. Ozorak. The publisher of Mr. Ozorak's book, Biretta Books, is the publishing arm of the St. John Cantius Society. The book cover design was done by a professional artist member of St. John Cantius, Jed Gibbons. The fleur de lis was incorporated because it is the logo of Mr. Ozorak's home parish, Assumption Church in Windsor, Ontario, (found all over the sanctuary floor, various walls, etc.) and is reflective of Michel’s French heritage.

The St. John Cantius web site is managed by Fr. Scott Haynes, but the actual design work is done by two of the brothers in the order who formerly worked in IT. What they do is absolutely top notch. If you get a chance, see the book itself – just beautiful.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dr. Death meets his Maker

Known as Dr. Death even before launching his fierce advocacy and practice of assisted suicides, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, 83, died today at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak -- right here in Metro Detroit -- where he had been hospitalized with kidney and heart problems.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who made a celebrity career for himself by defending Kevorkian on many of his assisted suicide cases, gushed: "History will look very favorably upon Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I will personally miss him. I am personally grateful to have known such a great man." Conveniently (or perhaps not so conveniently) Feiger assumes that the final chapter of history will be written by self-congratulatory Death-with-Dignity liberals, rather than by His Lord and Maker at the Final Tribunal.

In a video linked in the last paragraph, Kevorkian is interviewed by a reporter whom he drives around in his little electric car, waxing philosophical. One catches bits of Nietzsche: people "make up this stuff" about heaven and hell because "it makes them feel good. THEY'RE WEAK!" And, when asked what HE believes, bits of Skepticism: "How should I know?" -- as well as bits of Silenus: "I wish I had never been born." He adds: "Who needs this ... going to jail..." Silenus, of course, was the Greek mythological figure cited in Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, who declared that "the best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible."

Well, it might be tempting to say that Dr. Death has finally gotten his wish. But that wouldn't be quite accurate. There must be one very surprised Dr. Jack Kevorkian at the moment. One wonders what he would tell Geoffrey Feiger if he had the chance now.

Fr. Z: "concelebration should be safe, legal and rare"

I don't know what Fr. Z's smokin', but I want some!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Who's Betraying Tradition: The Grand Dispute

Christopher Blosser recently sent me an essay by Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, which I should have liked to use in my Political Philosophy class last semester in connection with Catholic social teaching from Pio Nono through Vatican II.

The essay is entitled, "The 'Hermeneutic of Reform' and Religious Freedom," and was featured in an April, 2011, post by Sandro Magister in the ongoing debate being hosted on his site between partisans of rival interpretations of Vatican II. So far Magister has featured the Bologna School on the left, and traditionalists on the right. Fr. Rhonheimer regards himself as a defender of the Pope somewhere in the middle.

Fr. Rhonheimer, a Swiss priest of Opus Dei, is a professor of ethics and political philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, in Rome. In this essay, he takes up a trope employed by Pope Benedict XVI in a memorable address to the Roman curia on December 22, 2005, on how to interpret Vatican II. In opposition to the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture," the Holy Father posited, not a "hermeneutic of continuity," but, as Rhonheimer stresses, a "hermeneutic of reform" (emphasis added):
In the Pope’s address, there is no such opposition between a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” and a “hermeneutic of continuity”. Rather, as he explained: “In contrast with the hermeneutic of discontinuity is a hermeneutic of reform...” And in what lies the “nature of true reform”? According to the Holy Father, “in the interplay, on different levels, between continuity and discontinuity”.
Now, these are hot-button terms that precipitously invite knee-jerk responses, which would hardly be profitable. What is called for is a careful and judicious analysis of both what the Holy Father and what Rhonheimer intend in their respective statements.

Unfortunately it's late tonight, and I don't have time to continue this post at the moment. I will say that I have read Rhomheimer's piece twice and found it provocative and insightful as well as a trifle incautious in different respects. In any case, I think his discussion comes close to the heart of the ongoing debate between the representatives of the CDF and SSPX at the Vatican over the last year. All-in-all, this is a healthy debate for the Church to be having right now, even if it is a bit beneath the radar of the Catholic media and largely unreported. It is not hard to see, even from reading Rhonheimer's essay, how the parties involved could easily be talking past one another and failing to 'engage' in certain respects. Some aspects of the debate seem impenetrably confused and nearly intractable. Yet the issues are critically important and touch the heart of our Catholic commitments.

I plan to contribute my two cents worth on Rhonheimer's essay in the days to come; and I hope some of you will do so as well. As Sandro Magister suggests, this is not a debate that is going to be concluding any time soon; and, from his vantage point as a Internet host of debates on the issue, he writes: "It is to be expected that the best minds, among the traditionalists, will take up the challenge and continue the discussion."

Catechesis at Comedy Central

[Hat tip to M.S.]


Ascension Thursday

Ascension Thursday is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Traditional calendar, not transferred to the nearest Sunday for the convenience of those who find Holy Days of Obligation, apparently through no fault of their own, an onerous burden because of the scheduling tyrannies of modernity. (Why else were these Sunday transferrals made?)

I have never liked the expression "Holy Day of Obligation," though I do appreciate the principle behind it. I know it's not intended to connote burdensomeness. I would much prefer it, however, if we could refer to these days as Holy Days of Privilege; but that might require a paradigm shift in the 21st century.

Ascension Thursday marks the beginning of a beautiful transition from the Easter season to Pentecost. The prototype of all novenas, the Novena to the Holy Spirit, begins on the Friday following Ascension Thursday and concludes on Saturday, the Vigil of Pentecost, commemorating the nine days between the Ascension of Our Lord and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost Sunday.

(I wish I could find a non-bowdlerized form of the novena, where "Thee's" and "Thou's" were not expurgated and replaced by one-dimensional "you's" -- much as magnificent traditional altars were stripped bare and replaced, as it were, by Bauhaus formica folding tables with plastic cups.)

"Fr. Z’s annual rant about Ascension Thursday Sunday" (WDTPRS, June 1, 2011)