Catholics are allowed to notice how bad things really are

When the bishops fail to assert a Catholic doctrine when the subject comes up, when they ask us to consider the positive side of politically popular sins, when the Pope makes a statement that he must know will be interpreted in a heterodox way–when the context of his remark even suggests the heterodox interpretation–it’s silly to deny that they’re deliberately undermining the Catholic faith.  Whether or not an individual statement stripped of its context can be given an orthodox meaning is irrelevant.

Because so many people seem to think it clever to say otherwise, we should be grateful to Edward Feser for arguing the point at length.  Often, the job of philosophy is to defend common sense from clever silliness.

Peter Kwansniewski makes similar points more concisely at Rorate Caeli.

See also Mundabor’s great essay on “Francispeak“.

So, if we’re allowed to notice the obvious, there’s nothing wrong with noticing, as this article does, the contrast between the Vatican’s treatment of the religious sisters of the USA and of the Franciscans of the Immaculate.  Father Z points out that the CDF is still slowly investigating the LCWR, but really, what’s to investigate?  Their apostasy is completely out in the open.  The Vatican certainly doesn’t wait years before striking against those suspected of Lefebvrist sympathies.  The fact that everyone in the LCWR hasn’t been summarily excommunicated proves that Rome has no sense that it is dealing with open rebellion against Christianity and that nothing will happen.  Some time ago, Rod Dreher pointed out that, by its actions, one would conclude that the Vatican thinks preferring the Latin Mass is worse than child rape.  It is also clearly true that the Holy Father and the bishops regard the Latin Mass as worse than abortion advocacy, lesbianism, goddess worship, pantheism, and support for communism.  In fact, the post-Vatican II hierarchy acts very much like a Cathedral occupation force charged with suppressing any signs of pre-VII Catholicism.

34 Responses

  1. Nothing new here, it’s been going on for fifty years, right? Segregationists get excommunicated, abortionists don’t.
    I wonder if Francis’ “mercy” applies to sexists and racists.

  2. Thank God for this blog and the blogs it links. I could never sort this out for myself, and would otherwise end up angry and confused. I converted in ’98, and this papacy is the greatest test of my faith so far. Popes and priests get me confused and upset, leaving it for laymen to explain how Catholicism can still be true. It doesn’t feel like Springtime, clinging to the wreckage of the Barque of Peter, as the sharks circle.

  3. “The Vatican certainly doesn’t wait years before striking against those suspected of Lefebvrist sympathies…”

    The explanation for the very different treatment of the LCWR on the one hand and the FFI on the other is siomple enough.

    The Vatican fears schism far more than heresy and will ruthlessly surpress separatist tendencies, real or perceived. That is why participating in the ordination of women is just about the only thing that liberals can do that will draw down instant excommunication. They can argue for it without censure, but any actions that may lead to the establishment of a parallel hierarchy will call down the fulminations of the Roman dicasteries on their heads.

    This is far from unprecedented – Think of the Peace of Clement IX

  4. An excellent example of Feser’s implicature is the abolition by the Legislative Assembly, in a single resolution, of the three crimes of blasphemy, sodomy and witchcraft [le blasphème, la sodomie et la sorcellerie] (25 September 1791)

  5. Michael,

    That makes a lot of sense.

  6. This article might give us a data point about the thinking of His Holiness on matters of discipline:

    These changes to the discipline of the communion fast—– have they achieved their goal of helping the faithful make excellent communions? I don’t know. Maybe it’s impossible to know. Outward indications, however, are not encouraging.

  7. You’re probably right Michael, although I think the degree of heresy the Church will ignore today is unprecedented. They’ve got it backwards. Right now, a schism is the only thing that might save a remnant from being submerged in heresy. If the Catholic Church stays together only to become a booster for Planned Parenthood and New Age goddess worship, what the hell’s the point?

  8. Thank you tlk244182. I know how you feel. Except that I would prefer we don’t say that that upset traditionalist Catholics are “confused”, as if Pope Francis were just doing something so darned complicated we couldn’t understand it. We’re not morons. We’re not confused. We’re angry and disgusted.

  9. Aegis,

    I seem to be as immune to Pope Francis’s charms as any man on Earth (as I was to Obama’s back when he was Neo-Jesus), but I actually felt a pang of sympathy for him on this one. Not because the midnight fast was particularly onerous (for goodness’ sake, just refrain from Communion that day!), but because we got a glimpse into what might have been an excessively rigorist childhood. Going to Confession because you accidentally swallowed a drop of water while brushing your teeth? I’m pretty sure that doesn’t even rise to the level of a venial sin. What if you walked to church in a downpour? Would that break the fast?

    Of course, my sympathy is tempered by the realization that this man rose to the highest office in the Church while maintaining this level of resentment against what can only be called a triviality. Are we next going to hear diatribes against the mean nuns who taught him his catechism (apparently without much lasting effect)? It does sometimes seem like he’s using the privileges of the papal office to get payback against the various people who have thwarted him over the years, including perhaps the Pope Emeritus who so often rejected his episcopal recommendations.

  10. Oh! I didn’t say it was a particularly wise policy. The Peace of Clement IX ended in tears, as was inevitable.

    It lasted, you will recall for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared in Vineam Domini Sabaoth that the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). In the 1730s Paris was treated to the spectacle of the Convulsionnaires de Saint-Médard . As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Amd then, of course, there was the Ultrajectine Schism in 1701, with whom the Old Catholics linked up in 1870. Curious how a rigid Jansenist sect has mutated into a liberal Protestant one, but, once the principle of private judgment is admitted, anything can happen.

  11. Michael,

    We relaxed the discipline of the communion fast, but did we make it any less legalistic in the end? For most people, is it just a box to check off or is it an opportunity for better preparation for communion?

    It is also worth considering how he thinks it obvious that only pharisees would want to maintain the discipline as it was. How does he know that they were pharisees?

    But so it goes. I remember having anxieties about whether or not certain things violated the communion fast. Of course, it was only the one hour fast by that time. I guess that’s one of the reasons I posted the link. Have we really achieved the objectives envisioned by relaxing the discipline? It’s probably impossible to know.

    Likewise with the question of communion for the divorced and remarried: even if we implemented that change, how likely is it that it would achieve its own objectives?

  12. I don’t understand why anyone would be anxious about violating the communion fast. If you have doubts, just refrain from communion. Just yesterday, on my way to daily Mass after work, I unthinkingly had two breath mints in the car on the drive over, realized it after the fact, and refrained from communion. (Ironically, the brevity of the communion fast is a bigger burden for me than a longer one would’ve been: no doubt anyone who saw me not go up might’ve thought I had recently sinned mortally, which creates social pressures to receive that would be absent under a more rigorous fast).

    It’s not as if you gain a level or something every time you receive communion.

  13. I don’t really see how relaxing the communion fast was supposed to make people more inwardly pious (I find in general things designed to replace outward piety with inward piety, generally tend to destroy both), all it did was to make it so that people would have to think about it even less.

  14. Proph,

    It’s not as if you gain a level or something every time you receive communion.

    Pope Francis may not agree. In EG #47, he writes that Communion is “not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”. True enough, and when you put that together with his reflections concerning the communion fast, it begins to look like he may see even a temporary abstention from the Eucharist as an intolerable burden. Put that together with his more or less open campaigning to allow pretty much everybody to receive communion regardless of their state, and you begin to wonder if maybe he does see it as a kind of magic pill.

    Aegis, the one-hour communion fast is a sick parody of a bad joke, but we’re evidently going to be stuck with it for some time to come.

  15. Bonald,

    You may enjoy Chris Ferrara’s and Michael Matt’s latest Remnant video on the subject of this deeply weird papacy.

    As they mention in the video, the sheer volume of unsettling material issuing from this pope is so great that it begins to have an anaesthetizing effect. Look at the La Nacion interview or the Eucharistic fast homily we’ve been discussing here: both are filled with bombshells that would astound Catholics of even two years ago, but we have become so inured that even traditionalists can’t muster a great deal of effort to deal with them in detail. After all, there’ll be something else along tomorrow, and the day after that.

    Meanwhile, our normalist brethren deal with the volume of troubling material simply by ignoring it altogether, or (if that’s impossible) by blaming the evil media, or bad translations, or the South American cultural context, or whatever. When a genuine piece of misreporting comes along, like this “animals go to Heaven” thing, they seize on it as definitive proof that you can never trust what the pope is reported to have said–unless it’s orthodox, in which case it’s unimpeachable!

  16. Relaxing the communion discipline was supposed to liberate the faithful from fretting over unimportant things like whether or not they swallowed a drop of water. That people treat the one hour fast as simply an outward observance rather than as a foundation for more intensive forms of preparation demonstrates the folly of trying to battle legalism with legislative acts. Nothing is stopping any of us from fasting for longer than one hour or doing other acts of penance to prepare for receiving the Blessed Sacrament. But we don’t. Instead we abide in the minimal.

    This should give us pause about relaxing other disciplines for we may end with the worst of results: lax standards whose fulfillment leads few to excellence.

  17. What’s weird is that the standards were relaxed at a time when man needed the discipline more than at any other time.

  18. Years ago, while I still attended the Mass of Paul VI, a man asked me whether I would Holy Communion. “No, thank you, sir. I didn’t fast.” What do you think he said about that? “Oh, that’s okay. Receive and then make a good confession.” After Mass, when I told the priest about that conversation, he assured me that almost anything would excuse me from the fast.

    In another church, where I knelt in the pew, a woman brought me a chalice, aimed it at my mouth, and offered me some WINE. Another person dropped a consecrated Host, too. So to attract attention, I kept pointing at the floor while a service dog sniffed nearby.

    Now I wonder when the Modernist heretics in Rome are going that receiving Holy Communion can promote or be a sacrilege.

    During a traditional infant baptism, the priest consecrates the baby’s tongue with salt and prays en exorcism pray to expel any demons who may be harassing the baby’s soul. The new baptismal ritual, Paul VI’s “baby,” l omits that prayer.

    After the priest consecrates the Host, he may touch it with only two fingers on each hand, his thumbs and forefingers. But laymen receive on the unconsecrated palms of their hands. I’ve even watched some parishioners drop the Blessed Sacrament into their shirt pockets before they walked back to their pews,

    Read some books by Michael Davies. They’ll tell that Thomas Cranmer advocated Holy Communion in the hand to undermine belief in two things: Our Lord’s Real Transubstantial Presence and the permanent metaphysical difference between priests and laymen.

  19. After my favorite priest passed away about three years ago, I told some people that I was mourning. “Don’t be said,” they said. “He’s in Heaven, and we pray for him each day.” Thank God I didn’t even grin about that comment, because if Father is there, he doesn’t need anyone to pray for him.

  20. Regarding Michael Paterson-Seymour’s analogy with the Jansenists:

    It’s ironic that the Jansenists remain bogeymen in the post Vatican II Church, such that their name is still used as an insult by those who would never use “Protestant” in such a way. If there’s any group that I would have liked to see some doctrinal flexibility granted to, it would be them.

    By the way, wasn’t the main point of Jansenist-sympathizer Pascal’s “Provincial Letters” that the Jesuits employ sophistry to promote moral laxity? He sure had their number.

  21. No doubt for many, Jansenism was simply what Mgr Ronald Knox called “the vigilant conscience of Christendom overshadowed by a scruple.”

    However, behind their doctrinal errors, there was a deadly principle, which explains the lamentable state of the Ultrajectines today. The principle from which all of their false teaching drew its strength was the belief that the teaching of the Church is something to be searched for in the records of the past rather than something to be heard and accepted in the living present

    They effectively denied the Catholic principle insisted on by Cardinal Manning against the Tractarians of his day that “The enunciation of the faith by the living Church of this hour, is the maximum of evidence, both natural and supernatural, as to the fact and the contents of the original revelation. I know what are revealed there not by retrospect, but by listening.”

  22. Behind all this organised push for a so called more ‘merciful’ access to the Holy Eucharist there is ultimately one unifying and sinister motive: a concerted attack aimed staight at the heart of Catholicism, the sacred mystery of Christ’s real presence in the consecrated Host. The sacrelege incurred in receiving communion unworthily degrades both the real love and reverence owed to the Real Presence, and imperils the salvation of those who commit it on the advice of Kasperite ‘shepherds.’ All in the name of an ersatz mercy. If it is incontrovertibly proved that both before and after his election Pope Francis encouraged divorced and remarried couples to receive communion, the Barque of Peter is really struggling in the mother of all storms.

  23. I seem to recall that the Jansenists also wanted a heavily simplified and vernacular liturgy, so maybe we’re all Jansenists now. Or maybe it’s just that technical terms like “Jansenist” lose virtually all meaning when used as epithets.

  24. Speaking of the communion thing, I feel like coupling weird superstitions (accidentally ingesting drop of water before receiving communion = mortal sin) to legitimate disciplines and then using the former to justify abolishing altogether the latter is a pretty common feature of postconciliar discourse. Pretty gross overreaction too, when you think about it: we could’ve kept the three-hour fast and simply relaxed the requirement that the fast include water.

    Notice, too, that it never goes the other way. The idea that one is entitled to the Eucharist, or that one must receive it at every Mass, or that there is no point going to Mass unless one can receive communion (I have seen, on several occasions, little old ladies arrive late to daily Mass and then turn away and leave — they’d arrived too late, thinking one cannot receive communion if arriving after the Gospel, hence there was no point to stay), are clearly all ridiculous beliefs encouraged by our ascetical laxity.

  25. After my favorite priest passed away about three years ago, I told some people that I was mourning. “Don’t be said,” they said. “He’s in Heaven, and we pray for him each day.” Thank God I didn’t even grin about that comment, because if Father is there, he doesn’t need anyone to pray for him.

    I suppose I should resist, but. God is outside time, so it is perfectly reasonable that you praying for Father’s salvation in 2014 will have some effect on a decision he is going to make in 1980 or on God’s decision to send him a temptation in 1970 or whatever.

  26. DrBill, I knelt by Father’s bedside about five hours before he died in a nursing home. The previous bishop visited him that night, and, I hear, gave him the last rites.

    Though I don’t know for sure, I believe firmly that Father’s soul went to purgatory or heaven. Everyone in purgatory is on the way to heaven, too, So I’d say that God already has saved anyone in purgatory. Souls there are waiting to go from it to heaven.

    A few days after Father left us, I thought I knew I wouldn’t get an opportunity to do him a favor I longed to do. “Father my buddy,”I told his soul, “if you want me to do it, you’ll need to arrange it for me.” Then, same night, someone offered to help we do it.

    I agree with St. Thomas Aquinas when he teaches that God already knows exactly what will happen. He knows what I’ve prayed for, what I will pray for, and whether he’ll give me what I want. My prayers don’t change his mind. They change me. But he may have decided that something would happen because I would ask for it.

    Since God is timeless, it’s always best to talk about him in the present tense, think. Still, maybe it’s okay to write in the past tense about Him, because Holy Scripture does that, too.

  27. (I have seen, on several occasions, little old ladies arrive late to daily Mass and then turn away and leave — they’d arrived too late, thinking one cannot receive communion if arriving after the Gospel, hence there was no point to stay)

    What is the point of attending Mass if one is not yet a Catholic, one might ask of such people?

  28. […] murder stories and a followup Why I don’t believe in rape culture. He also notes, helpfully, that Catholics are allowed to notice how bad things really are. Perhaps […]

  29. Marissa, I know of Catholics who ask a priest how late they can get to Mass and still fulfill their Sunday obligation as though they want to leave only minutes after they arrive. The day I attended my first Traditional Latin Mass, a priest and I stayed in the vestibule until the “stampede” left the building. Soon after Holy Communion, maybe even during it, a man hurried out the door, saying something like, “Gotta run, Father, to a golf game.” At the most reverent Mass I’ve ever attended, a Latin one, the priest asked everyone to stay at least five minutes after it to thank God for Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. We did.

    Too, too many Catholics, I’m afraid, go to the Holy Sacrifice of Mass as though going is a mere when they should feel honored to be there with Our Lord. So I wish they would stay in thoroughly prayerful places where they can contemplate the Holy Trinity.

    For me, the best place to do that is an old, gorgeous church with candles, statues, and every other ornament. The church I usually attend is a 167-year-old Carmelite one where I need to remember that the huge wooden doors are there to tell us that we’re traveling from the world to heaven if you will. A wonderful priest I’m privileged to knows says that while priests walk to the sanctuary, they carry our sins symbolically, and metaphorically, I suppose, on their backs. That’s something to keep in mind when I think about a photo of a priest preaching a sermon while he wore a hat that looked, and was meant to look, like a chunk of Swiss cheese. With your eyes on it, you’d wonder whether he knew what purpose a priest serves at Mass, since he’s not there to entertain the congregation. As I said when I was young, if they want to turn the sanctuary, the better remove the tabernacle.

    I don’t mean to insult anyone who still attends the New Mass. But I wish more Catholics would think about what my favorite priest told me at my favorite local church, where the tabernacle sits where it belongs, in the middle of the high altar for all to see.When Father needed to celebrate Mass with Paul VI’s Mass, on an altar table on wheels, he refused to bend forward to kiss that altar because if he did kiss it, he would show Christ his backside. In my opinion, it’s time for everyone to face the same direction at Mass. No more Masses where the priest faces the people while he stands at the altar.

  30. “where the tabernacle sits where it belongs, in the middle of the high altar for all to see”

    Placing the tabernacle on the high altar really only came in with the Council of Trent. In Pre-Tridentine churches one often finds a free-standing “sacrament house,” sometimes very elaborate.
    Here is a famous example from the Laurenzkirch in Nuremberg

    and another from St Marin’s Kortrijk in Flanders

    Bear in mind that many old churches, especially in France, have a rood-screen or jube, which conceals the high altar, such as this example from the Chapelle de Kerfons in Brittany

    or this magnificent one in Albi Cathedral

    Again, it was only after Trent that one finds railed sanctuaries, with shorter chancels and highly visible altars.

  31. Mr. Paterson-Seymour, my apologies. I should have explained why I said that the tabernacle belonged in the center of the high altar. I said it partly because in that prominent place, the tabernacle would be easy to see from most parts of the nave. In a church I’ve visited, the tabernacle stayed in a separate room behind the altar. In a church I attended before I found the Traditional Latin Mass, it sat on a side altar that most people ignored and where hardly anyone genuflected. In fact, that church bought a new Novus Ordo altar table to replace the tree-shaped wooden on and used the high altar as a shelf for flowers. I want no part of any novelty that came into the Catholic Church during or after Vatican II.

    Catholics need to remember what the Church calls “heretical actions,” actions that suggest that their doers don’t believe some dogma or other. For example, if I never genuflect before a tabernacle, that may suggest that I don’t believe that the bread and the wine transubstantiate. During a World Youth Day Mass you’ll read about in a book called “The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church,” Hell’s Angels, the motorcyclists, grabbed consecrated Hosts, ate them and washed them down with beer. The same book tells me that, during the Neocatechumenal Way’s liturgies, Hosts the size and consistency of personal pan pizzas crumble and leave crumbs on the floor, and people dance around the altar table.

  32. @Bill McEnaney

    I stumbled into (what I think was) a NeoCat Mass one time when I was on a business trip. Leavened bread. Didn’t look like personal pan pizzas, though. Looked more like pita bread. The goofballs all trooped up to the sanctuary to stand around the altar in a big semi-circle while Father Feelgood said the words of consecration. Absurd. It was just me and two or three other guys who had wandered over (I assume) from the convention hotel a block or three away who were kneeling. Father Feelgood knew that he had visitors from the hotel, so he explicitly invited us to come up to help with the sacrilege. I wonder if heretics smell good while they are burning.

    Given what a piece of crap it all was, I wonder if it satisfied my Sunday obligation. Probably. I didn’t know what it was before I went.

  33. @DrBill

    That sounds awful.

    I think as long as there was a valid consecration, it would fulfill the obligation.

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