"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Now the faith is old and the Devil bold
Exceedingly bold indeed.
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth
And still can drink strong ale
Let us put it away to infallible truth
That always shall prevail.
And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword
And howling heretics too.
And all good things
Our Christendom brings
But especially barley brew!
With my row-ti-tow
Especially barley brew!
E. L. Core is a gifted poet: See for yourself here.
The Eve of June
(May 31, 1990)
[Companion to "The Greening Spring"]
the fog lifts
with the rising sun.
Sweet Williams (pink, white, lavender)
crowd corners, just without trees' reach;
glad daisies stretch for the warming sunshine;
and flags fly on neat lawns, stately assemblies.
Mothering earth breathes free on the Eve of June.
Little children, clad for the heat after noon,
shiver in shorts in short straggly lines,
stamping, as everyday, for school's bus,
champing today for school's end,
telling me, tolling me:
precious springtime passes
Were it not for the atomic bomb, I might not be here today
My father, a lowly seaman second-class, was in naval radar training in 1945 when the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the Second World War to a close without the need for an invasion of the Japanese mainland that would have cost millions of lives – potentially including my father's.
I thought of this when reading Veritas' argument, supported by E. L. Core, that no case could be made for the use of atomic bombs against Japan in the war. Maintains Chris Burgwald: "I don't see how anyone who values innocent human life could endorse dropping The Bomb on Japan."
You could if it meant saving many, many more innocent lives while bringing a close to a conflict that had brought – and would continue to bring – untold suffering. The end, in these circumstances, would, in my view, justify the means. [Similar means had, in fact, already been employed: See the firebombings of Dresden and Tokyo.]
Consider the nature of the foe we opposed [Warning: You will likely want to avoid the photos here] and the dogged resistance – exhibited to the last man on Okinawa and elsewhere in the Pacific – with which an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have been met. Consider, too, the result had the Nazis or the Japanese won their race to build the bomb before we did.
The world would not have been a better place had the Axis prevailed. Had the enemy not been stopped, many, many more innocents would have suffered and died. This is not say the Japanese civilian population shared in the culpability of the imperialist warlords who started the war, and it is horrible and tragic that civilians by the hundreds of thousands died as a result of a war their leaders brought to their shores. Yet many Japanese civilians had been so thoroughly inculcated in the martial message of the Rising Sun that they were prepared to act as kamikazes or kill themselves rather than surrender, as did villagers on Okinawa. The number of civilians who would have died in a military invasion of Japan would have been staggering. Were I a sailor or Marine who had survived atoll-by-atoll fighting in the Pacific only to look forward to a planned invasion of Japan, I likely would have thanked heaven for anything that brought the whole ghastly war to a close.
As General Grant demonstrated in the Wilderness Campaign, a horrifying war of attrition described memorably by Bruce Catton, the willingness and capability to endure – and inflict – brutal force can be necessary to end greater and more prolonged brutality.
Not a pleasant fact of history – but a fact, nonetheless.
Bates College describes its Commencement speaker, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg, as one of the world's most profound thinkers, but you wouldn't guess it from the thin soup he offered graduates this week.
In his address,Weinberg indicted religious thought for the world's troubles, comparing the depredations of Muslim suicide-bombers and mosque-burning Hindu mobs to those of American "religious zealots who try to corrupt the teaching of biological and astronomic science in public schools, who try to ban research on therapeutic cloning...and who, in extreme cases, bomb abortion clinics."
He lauded, by contrast, the "Enlightenment" tradition for advances in free thought and constitutional democracy and the "dedication to principles of equality...inherent in multiculturalism."
In the process he demonstrated a dismissive contempt for religion that was all the more remarkable for the assumption that such disdain was the default view of the educated Bates graduate after four years and $120,000 worth of potted Ivy education. [Not an unfounded assumption: Note the description of the honorary degree that Bates, founded as a Baptist seminary, gave Clinton surgeon-general Joycelen Elders as "an outspoken advocate for the young, the poor and the powerless on such issues as abortion, AIDS and sex education."]
"Like Voltaire, many founders of our country, such as Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison, made frequent references to Providence or the Almighty in their writings," Weinberg said, absolving the Founding Fathers of any real belief in religious hoodoo. "But beyond that they showed no allegiance to any particular religious sect or doctrine.
"I don’t want to go overboard here in praising the Enlightenment. It was a long time before the law recognized [racial] equality. Sexual equality is still not assured. And we seem to be moving away from economic equality...But the Enlightenment did make the world a freer and gentler place than it had ever been before...
"The work of the Enlightenment is really just begun. I call on you, as allies in this work, because you’ve had the sort of secular education that is at the same time a product of the Enlightenment and its bulwark. Your education is not consisted of endless repetition of sacred texts, as in Islamic madrasas or Hindu imitators in India. If you’ve taken course in physics, you probably didn’t even look at Newton’s Principia. And why should you? Your understanding of the laws of motion now is much better than Newton’s was. Any good graduate student today understands general relativity better than Einstein. You’ve been encouraged to be skeptical about what you’ve learned in course in philosophy, in history, and in other subjects. Or at least I hope so...
"I suppose that being part of a grand historical movement is not the thing that’s on your minds this morning as you look forward to a new stage in your lives. But now and then in the future, in your work or voting or in bringing up your children, you may have a chance to push the world a little toward the goals of the Enlightenment. So I want to welcome you to the company of educated, and enlightened, men and women..."
Chucking a backward adherence to religion would seem, then, to be a crucial step on the path to "enlightenment" -- though in the absence of objective moral truths, of the sort revealed by religion, it is unclear what -- or who -- defines exactly what enlightenment entails.
By what authority is tolerance for one's neighbors, or support for political freedom, or opposition to racism, declared enlightened? Without God, is Enlightenment itself a god?
And in the matter of organized religion: Was it behind Nazism? Soviet Communism? Maoism? The killing fields of Pol Pot? How many hundreds of millions were killed in the 20th century by fascist and communist political movements that also swept away religion in appealing to reason and science?
Consider, by contrast, this educational mission statement penned in the late 19th-century by Boston College President Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, who declared "knowledge and intellectual development of themselves have no moral efficacy. Religion only can purify the heart, and guide and strengthen the will...
"...[S]ince men are not made better citizens ' by the mere accumulation of knowledge, without a guiding and controlling force, the principal faculties to be developed are the moral faculties. Moreover, morality is to be taught continuously; it must be the underlying base, the vital force supporting and animating the whole organic structure of education. It must be the atmosphere the student breathes; it must suffuse with its light all that he reads, illuminating what is noble and exposing what is base, giving to the true and false their relative light and shade."
In these comments Fr. Brosnahan echoed the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote in The Idea of a University:
Knowledge is one thing, virtue is another; good sense is not conscience, refinement is not humility, no is largeness and justness of view faith. Philosophy, however enlightened, however profound, gives no command over the passions, no influential motives, no vivifying principles. Liberal Education makes not the Christian, not the Catholic, but the gentleman. It is well to be a gentleman, it is well to have a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid equitable, dispassionate mind, a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life; these are the connatural qualities of a large knowledge; they are the objects of a University; I am advocating, I shall illustrate and insist upon them; but still, I repeat, they are no guarantee for sanctity or even for conscientiousness; they may attach to the man of the world, to the profligate, to the heartless, . . .
Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man.
The FLM architectural firm previously restored this magnificent altar at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Chicago
and drew plans for a proposed "Church for 2010" that were exhibited at an October 2001 conference at the Liturgical Institute called "Building the Church for 2010: Continuity and Renewal in Catholic Liturgical Architecture." Here is a gallery of the firm's religious projects.
The Liturgical Institute is affiliated with Mundelein, where Steve Mattson studies, and is headed by the esteemed Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, whose outstanding efforts to "reform the reform" in liturgy are chronicled by Gerard Serafin here.
You can have my share of Freud, but he'd have a field day with this particular Weakland-basher who takes a decidedly prurient view of the Mass, seeing the old rites marked by connubial consummation of a virile sort, the new unmanned by a cabal of whoopsies -- and the specter of Nathan Lane in the proposed ordination of women.
Priest reviewer: Seminary screed sheds little light
"Goodbye, Good Men may create a great deal of controversy, but I fear that ultimately it will do little to serve the good," Rev. Robert Johansen writes in a review:
Goodbye, Good Men is in many ways an unfortunate book. It is unfortunate because the story of the problems in American seminaries needed to be told, but it needed to be told with scrupulous concern for accuracy and truth. It also needed to be told in such a way as to elicit more than righteous indignation from the faithful. It is also unfortunate because Rose's failure to make distinctions will actually distract attention from the real remaining problems in American seminaries. Rose's credibility problems and his relative lack of analysis do little to shed light on what may be done to strengthen our seminary system. Only in the last two chapters does he have anything to say about what factors come together to make a good seminary. #
Help bust the liturgical trust: Alert your parish to this fine alternative to the missalette.
AN ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION to MAGNIFICAT promises fourteen issues - one a month with a special issue for Holy Week and Christmas- filled with spiritual insight, exquisite art, and invaluable inspiration. You will discover the most beautiful prayers, readings, and hymns of the Church in this lavishly printed, easy-to-read, pocket-sized worship aid. MAGNIFICAT provides a fitting way to enter fully into the Church's liturgical rhythms and spiritual legacy. Request a free sample copy here.
Wednesday, May 29, 2002 An indoctrination in wooly-headedness, courtesy of the Public Schools
From the Boston Globe last week, this small item:
SHERBORN: Holliston students to visit Peace Abbey: Pupils from Holliston's Placentino Elementary School will visit the Peace Abbey in Sherborn today as part of a peace curriculum. The pupils, from the first, second, and third grades, will perform a John Mellencamp song for which they wrote their own lyrics. They will dress in the tradition of their family heritages for the performance. The curriculum, [offered] for several years, teaches students about tolerance, peace, and nonviolence.
How nice-sounding. How progressive. And how utterly wrong-headed. (Meantime, just what, one wonders, did these youngsters of the leafy suburbs don for "dress in the tradition of their family heritages"? Pilgrim garb? Viking helmets? Stage leprechaun costumes?)
Pacifism, cultural relativism, moral equivalence: These most decidedly are not the messages to instill in our children, particularly not during the current period in world history. Columnist Michael Kelly had the pacifists pegged (here and here).
Throughout his career, Chesterton was a vigorous enemy of pacifism. What he did believe in was the right, or the duty rather, of self-defense and the defense of others.
Chesterton was also a vigorous enemy of militarism. Both ideas, he argued, were really a single idea -- that the strong must not be resisted. The militarist, he said, uses this idea aggressively as a conqueror, as a bully. The pacifist uses the idea passively by acquiescing to the conqueror and permitting himself and others around him to be bullied. Of the two, Chesterton thought the pacifist far less admirable. In fact, the pacifist, for him, was "the last and least excusable on the list of the enemies of society."
They preach that if you see a man flogging a woman to death you must not hit him. I would much sooner let a leper come near a little boy than a man who preached such a thing.
I had wondered at the seemingly universal presence in local parish Masses of banal contemporary hymns -- Geritol music, as I call it, after the treacly flutes and woodwinds of the patent-medicine commercials on the old Lawrence Welk show. This article on The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music was an eye-opener. Steve Schultz at Catholic Light offers his own commentary:
"Where did we fall away from the Truth that the Mass is the celebration of the perpetual sacrifice of our Lord? It is His prayer to the Father. It is the perpetual sacrifice that redeems us and makes us holy. I have always thought that calls for reverance and not hootenanny. Oh, and I'm not sure if any of you noticed but the short intro to the OCP 'Celtic Alleluia' sounds like someone falling down a short flight of stairs."
Remarkable the extent to which Oregon Catholic Press has cornered the liturgical market: OCP could be short for octopus. Isn't it about time the tentacles were chopped?
Here are some resources that might prove useful in challenging the OCP monopoly at your parish:
CanticaNOVA Publications offers "traditional music for the contemporary Church." A blurb from their site:"CanticaNOVA Publications (CNP) provides quality liturgical music for today's Catholic Church. CNP believes that the texts and rites of Catholic liturgy give ample sources for creative musical expression. Using what the Church has already given us, CNP publishes quality music grounded in, and often directly flowing from, the traditions of the Church. This 'NEW traditional music' provides the Catholic musician with the ability to be creative in liturgical music planning without having to turn to poor quality, 'alternative' religious music."
The Adoremus Hymnalis designed for use in small parishes with few musical resources as well large parishes with full choirs. Following the general plan in Musicam Sacram, this hymnal consists of three major sections: the Order of the Mass; musical settings for the Ordinary of the Mass; and a selection of over 170 of the most beautiful hymns ever written--for every season of the liturgical year and other feasts and holidays. The music was selected on the basis of beauty, holiness, Catholic tradition, theological integrity, familiarity and simplicity. All the music is within the capabilities of every Catholic parish. For more details, read the introduction to The Adoremus Hymnal and visit the Ignatius Press site.
"I read with interest your post about the Boston Office of Worship discouraging Perpetual Adoration. I became a priest precisely because I love, worship and adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That a priest, in the name and presumably with the connivance of the Bishop, would discourage adoration is offensive to me in the extreme.
"I have read the relevant sections of Canon Law and the Instruction on Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, and there is nothing in there that links Adoration (perpetual or otherwise) to communion under both kinds, a 'sufficient' number of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist or music at Mass. This Archdiocesan directive is the worst kind of ecclesial arrogance: it imposes burdens on Christ's people to advance an agenda contrary to the mind of the Church, with no other support other than the Diktat of bureaucratic Will.
"Furthermore, I am not as sure about this, and will welcome correction from a canonist, but nothing in Canon Law or the liturgical books I have consulted even necessitates that the Bishop must give permission for Perpetual Adoration. On the face of it such a permission would be an absurdity: one does not require episcopal permission for any licit devotion (which is what
Eucharistic exposition and adoration is). You don't need episcopal permission to have the Rosary in your parish, do you? A bishop cannot arrogate to himself the authority to grant or deny what the Church herself grants to all.
"I am boggled at the sheer effrontery of the self-appointed liturgical elite, and the episcopal drones who kowtow to them. I am afraid for them, and for anyone other pastor who, rather than feed Christ's flock, denies them the Truth and spiritual sustenance they need."
If you're at work, you may want to mute the computer speakers before visiting the web page of the Community of the Crucified One, the eccentric schismatics given noble sheen by columnist Eileen McNamara in today's Boston Globe. Whatever air of liberal sanctimony the agenda-driven Eileen M. brings to her Jesus Freak subjects wilts under the peppy midi beat of the sect's Internet site -- an aural accommodation to the modern age that even La McNamara might find disagreeable.
Let's see: Casio soundtrack. Check. Ordain yourself. Check. Dispense with out-dated and inconvenient dogmas, and replace with own. Check. Set up a church in living room. Check.
Er, yes. Right.
Eileen has been in there swinging as a ranking member of the Recovering Catholic Sisterhood in the Globe newsroom, but this wasn't one of her better innings.
Tuesday, May 28, 2002 Correspondent Dale at Mark Shea's closes a dispatch on liturgical flummery in Bp. Untener's Saginaw Diocese thus:
"What has this to do with the abuse scandals, you may ask? Simple--it's of a piece with the same clericalist mindset that recycles abusive priests. Why? Because he can, and he knows no one--not Rome, and sure as hell not the laity--will be able to call him on it. As you pointed out in our early discussions, bishops do not get removed. Ever. In this knowledge, the American bishops sit secure in their diocese--secure enough to pay $450,000 to protect an inflated reputation, secure enough to shuffle around priests with a history of abuse, and secure enough to allow flatly unlawful tampering with the worship of Jesus Christ. Their biggest concern is the Pope accepting their mandatory retirement proffer at age 75. Clearly, they do not fear agonized letter writing campaigns to the Papal Nuncio. For all the shrieking that Weakland, Untener, etc. do about the Curia in Rome, they are missing a delicious irony: they have managed to recreate the same thing right in their own downtown chanceries."
Mark Shea has written compellingly on a clericalist culture in the American ecclesiocracy that has been marked by the worst impulses of the Right and Left, with the worst of post-Vatican II reforms being safeguarded by the most intransigent of mossbacks.
A few years back I queried the then-director of the Boston Archdiocesan Office of Worship on the disappearance of sanctus bells from many local parish Masses (a trend I viewed with regret). Bells, he declared, are superfluous: A congregation fully participating in the liturgy doesn't need them to follow the action.
"These requests are referred to the Office for Worship directly by Cardinal Law. In most cases, when the requirements for Perpetual Adoration are explored, the request is withdrawn by the pastor. In one case, the parish moved ahead with the request.
"In order for them to begin on an experimental basis, they had to tend to the primary form of Eucharistic activity. They were required to celebrate Sunday liturgy with attention to ministry, to engagement of the assembly, and to music at every Mass. They had to institute communion from the cup, and have a full corps of [communion] ministers to serve in the hospitals, nursing homes, and in the homes of the sick. They also had to build a secure place for adoration apart from the main body of the church and provide a sufficient number of volunteers to fulfill the requirements of the devotion. After these matters were attended to, the parish returned to the Archdiocese for permission, which Cardinal Law granted.
"Occasionally a parish moves ahead with a request for Perpetual Adoration. I usually begin by sending them to St. Patrick's in Natick to see the scope of liturgical change required before a request can be heard. You can imagine what the promoters do when they realize that a request for Perpetual Adoration activates Archdiocesan policies on communion under both species, not to mention singing at Mass."
Charles Krauthammer, writing on the Jenin hoax, describes the despair and bewilderment "of living in a world of monstrous moral inversion.
"Twenty-one months ago, Israel offered a total end to the occupation, ceding 100 percent of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank to the first Palestinian state ever. The Palestinians turned that down and took up the suicide bomb. By the Orwellian logic of today, the Palestinians are justified in perpetrating one massacre after another to end an occupation that Israel offered to remove almost two years ago.
"For the 'international community,' as embodied by the United Nations, such inverted moral logic is the norm. This is what it must have been like living in the false consciousness of Soviet communism, where everyone had to publicly and constantly pretend to believe the official lies, all the while knowing they were lies. This is what it must have been like living in the 1930s, as the necessities of appeasement created a gradual inversion of right and wrong--the Czechs, for example, pilloried by official opinion in Britain and France for selfishly standing in the way of peace at Munich.
"Churchill's great gift to civilization was not just that he rallied good against evil, but that he pierced a suffocating fog of self-deception by speaking truth to lies. Where is the Churchill of today, the official of any government, prepared to tell the U.N. that its frantic hunt for a phantom massacre by Jews--while ignoring massacre after massacre of Jews--is grotesque and perverse?
The Episcopal bishops of Massachusetts, shown above in clerical garb picketing the Israeli consulate in Boston this past fall, have actively promoted the cause of suicide bombers and the murderous thugs who desecrated the Church of the Nativity, in the name of peace and justice.
Ministering to an injured man aboard the USS Franklin
Jesuit Naval Chaplain Joseph T. O'Callahan was the first priest to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, which he received for heroism following a kamikaze attack on his ship during the Second World War. The citation read:
For conspicious gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as chaplain on board the U.S.S. Franklin when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft during offensive operations near Kobe, Japan, on 19 March 1945. A valiant and forceful leader, calmly braving the perilous barriers of flame and twisted metal to aid his men and his ship, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan groped his way through smoke-filled corridors to the open flight deck and into the midst of violently exploding bombs, shells, rockets and other armament. With the ship rocked by incessant explosions, with debris and fragments raining down and fires raging in every-increasing fury, he ministered to the wounded and dying, comforting and encouraging men of all faiths; he organized and led firefighting crews into the blazing inferno on the flight deck; he directed the jettisoning of live ammunition and the flooding of the magazine; he manned a hose to cool hot, armed bombs rolling dangerously on the listing deck, continuing his efforts despite the searing, suffocating smoke which forced men to fall back gasping and imperiled others who replaced them. Serving with courage, fortitude, and deep spiritual strength, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan inspired the gallant officers and men of the Franklin to fight heroically and with profound faith in the face of almost certain death to return their stricken ship to port.
Friday, May 24, 2002 A local church riven with heresy and anti-Roman dissent, a bare, ruined cathedral, demoralized priests, and a scandalized flock: This, tragically, is the legacy of Rembert Weakland.
Standing athwart history and yelling, "Stop the presses!"
From an editorial in the latest edition of the Boston Archdiocesan organ, The Pilot, praising the editor recently buried in an office blood-letting:
New challenges require new ways, and the current crisis in the Church certainly is a prime example of a new situation...But we are also facing the challenge of a growing secular mentality in our society that defies the foundations of the Church. Powerful groups are in an all-out war against the Christian culture that underlies our society.
Some would place the American ecclesiocracy in the front lines of that assault.
A separate editorial fires a volley at the messenger:
Since the current crisis exploded last January, the media in general, and the two Boston daily newspapers in particular, have been reporting on every possible aspect and ramification of the clergy abuse scandal. In spite of the great anger and sadness that the news reports of the sufferings of victims, the revelations of new priest perpetrators and the administrative failures brings, many Catholics have praised their coverage. Every story they have published has been absorbed and believed by the public.
In the last few weeks a shift has taken place. An apparent need to keep the story "hot" seems to be forcing both dailies to milk every possible rumor, every possible sentence taken out of context, every hint of wrongdoing. They seem to be in need of filling the daily front page with the photo of yet another priest or with another "Bombshell!"
The Herald's coverage of the potential use of Boston Catholic Television assets to pay settlements, and the Globe's story saying that church buildings, schools, hospitals and facilities used by charitable agencies could be mortgaged for the same purpose, have further damaged the good works the Church is carrying out. And both of them were inaccurate.
The "Shanley papers" are yet another example of the way the crisis is being reported. An analysis of the document appearing in today's edition of The Pilot illustrates several examples of the ways they have been widely misreported in the media.
Investigative journalism should be both objective and accurate. While deadlines are important, despite what many think, the reputation of the Archbishop of Boston and the archdiocese as a whole should not be treated lightly.
Stonewalling. Shifting blame. Quibbling. Rearranging the deck chairs.
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Some additional recap on why Archbishop Weakland doesn't rate high in the eyes of Mark Shea, who proposes a "listening session" for the archbishop's own benefit, administered via e-mail.
Cathedralem hanc aedem liturgicas omnino [iuxta? secundum?] normas Vaticano II venientes ex Concilio magna non sine difficultate renovatam sollemniter atque feliciter IX die mensis Februarii anno MMII
Archepiscopus ipse Ordinarius inauguravit iterum dedicavit Rembertus George Weakland OSB.
("This cathedral was renovated, not without great difficulty, exactly according to the liturgical norms of Vatican II. Solemnly and joyously inaugurated and rededicated February 9, 2002, by Archbishop and Ordinary Rembert George Weakland, OSB".)
The archbishop's lasting memorial may read quite differently.
St. John Cantius Parish stands as a unique parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It offers the Novus Ordo Mass in both Latin and the vernacular, as well as the Tridentine Mass. Its imposing historic church, solemn liturgies, devotions, treasures of sacred art, and rich program of sacred music has helped many Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred. In addition, throughout the year, St. John Cantius offers a diverse selection of presentations and classes in Latin, Greek, church heritage, catechetics, and Catholic culture. Founded as an ex-patriot parish by Polish immigrants at the end of the nineteenth century, the parish today represents a broad cross-section of every ethnic, socio-economic and age group. St. John Cantius Church is also the home of the Society of St. John Cantius, a new religious community of men dedicated to the Restoration of the Sacred.
In San Girolamo Philip asked to celebrate the last Mass of the day, which was near noontime. The reason for this was more than his desire to leave the morning free for hearing the many confessions which soon became his major apostolate. The real reason was his desire to celebrate Mass with as few people present as possible - ideally alone. At that late hour he could celebrate at the high altar, where no one would be able to see his face. This unusual practice of Philip’s pointed to a characteristic that was very deep in Philip and that he always wished to keep hidden, but which shone forth in his whole life: his deep devotion to the Eucharist, his love for the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. #
In 1942, US Navy Commander John J. Shea of Boston, bound for action in the South Pacific, wrote his five-year-old son, Jackie, a letter on the values he hoped his little boy would take to heart: religious faith, devotion to family and the love of one's country.
A few weeks later, on Sept. 15, 1942, three Japanese torpedoes struck the carrier USS Wasp as it sailed toward Guadalcanal. Commander Shea was seen running into the flames to rescue shipmates. He was among 193 officers and crew lost.
The letter Commander Shea had written his son was printed and quickly gained a wide national circulation. It was published by the Boston Public School system as a pamphlet entitled "The Letter to Jackie." The original copy recently was presented to the Boston College Archives, which mounted an exhibit.
The text is impossible to read without tears coming to the eyes.
June 29, 1942
This is the first letter I have ever written directly to my little son and I am thrilled to know that you can read it all by yourself. If you miss some of the words, I'm sure it will be because I do not write very plainly. Mother will help you in that case I am sure.
I was certainly glad to hear your voice over the long distance telephone. It sounded as though I were right in the living room with you. You sounded as though you missed your daddy very much. I miss you too, more than anyone will ever know. It is too bad this war could not have been delayed a few more years so that I could grow up again with you and do with you all the things I planned to do when you were old enough to go to school.
I thought how nice it would be for me to come home early in the afternoon and play ball with you, and go mountain climbing and see the trees, and brooks, and learn all about woodcraft, hunting, fishing, swimming, and things like that. I suppose we must be brave and put these things off for a little while.
When you are a little bigger you will know why your daddy is not home so much any more. You know we have a big country and we have ideals as to how people should live and enjoy the riches of it and how each is born with equal rights to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, there are some countries in the world where they don't have these ideals, where a boy cannot grow up to be what he wants to be with no limits on his opportunities to be a great man, such as a great priest, statesman, doctor, soldier, business man etc.
Because there are people and countries who want to change our nation, its ideals, forms of government, and way of life, we must leave our homes and families to fight. Fighting for the defense of our country, ideals, homes, and honor is an honor and a duty which your daddy has to do before he can come home to settle down with you and Mother. When it is done, he is coming home to be with you always and forever. So wait just a little while longer. I am afraid it will be more than the two weeks you told me on the phone.
In the meantime, take good care of Mother. Be a good boy and grow up to be a good young man. Study hard when you go to school. Be a leader in everything good in life. Be a good Catholic, and you can't help being a good American. Play fair always. Strive to win but if you must lose, lose like a gentleman and a good sportsman. Don't ever be a quitter either in sports or in your business or profession when you grow up. Get all the education you can. Stay close to Mother and follow her advice. Obey her in everything, no matter how you may at times disagree. She knows what is best and will never let you down or lead you away from the right and honorable things in life. If I don't get back, you will have to be Mother's protector because you will be the only one she has. You must grow up to take my place as well as your own in her life and heart.
Love your grandmother and granddad as long as they live. They too will never let you down. Love your aunts and see them as often as you can. Last of all, don't ever forget your daddy. Pray for him to come back and if it is God's will that he does not, be the kind of a boy and man your daddy wants you to be.
Thanks for the nice sweater and handkerchiefs and particularly for the note and card. Write me very often and tell me everything.
In 1928, Myles Connolly, Boston College '18, created a Jazz Age hero for young U.S. Catholics. His peculiar literary creation survives, Fr. John Breslin, SJ, writes.
An excerpt from Connolly's Mr. Blue:
We were tramping out in the Newtons, out around the twin reservoirs which they call lakes. Dusk was sifting out of Boston and giving the massed trees--of which there are plenty in Newton--that stealth and secrecy which is their pretense at night. Boston College, with its solid Gothic tower, stood black against the last smoking flame of the November sunset. We were down in the dark. But no one could mind the dark, even of November, with the Gothic that dominated the hill. Blue caught his breath at the magnificent silhouette.
"That gives me courage," he said, with his face up toward the hill crest. "Of late, I have been melancholy with autumn--a sign of adolescence or old age. But I couldn't be melancholy with that above me. Not that I care for the Gothic, but for what it represents. Sunsets may flare, and the blackness of hades eclipse the earth, but that will endure."
"An earthquake could toss it into the lakes," I objected.
"And so could the cataclysm at the end of the world. . . . But where that stands there will always be something, though no stone is left upon a stone."
Blue is a mystic, and mystics while they appear crystal-clear are sometimes difficult to understand. He saw my shrugged shoulders.
"No great battle for a great cause can ever be forgotten. That up there is no mere group of college buildings; that up there is a battlefield, a sanctuary; that up there is a hearth and home for the Lost Cause that is never lost, the citadel of a strength that shall outlast the hill and rock it stands upon. . . . Once heroes built fortresses against the Mongol and the Saracen; now they must build fortresses against the whole world. . .
"I tell you I know what I am talking about. Once they--the believers, the students, the scholars, the soldiers, the saints--could fight heresies and heretics. Today they have to fight a state of mind."
Saint Aidan's Church in Brookline, Mass., is of great historic significance as the church where John F. Kennedy was baptized. Built in 1911 and 1912, the church was designed by Charles D. Maginnis, foremost Catholic church architect of the 20th century in the United States, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Recently, the Archdiocese of Boston has begun to consolidate parishes, close churches and redevelop properties, mostly as housing. Saint Aidan's Parish was merged with another Brookline parish in July, 1999. Since then Saint Aidan's has been leased to the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy as a temporary chancery. The Melkites have been building a new chancery in the Roslindale section of Boston, which will open soon. After they leave, the Archdiocese currently plans to demolish St. Aidan's and build housing on the site.
The Campaign to Preserve St. Aidan's is a Brookline-based, nonprofit civic association, seeking ways to preserve the church structure because of its historic and architectural significance. The group supports housing for low or moderate income households on the site and is working to find ways of combining mixed-income housing development, at a scale compatible with nearby neighborhoods, with preservation and adaptive reuse of the church. ..
Saving the church is a worthy goal -- but there is something sad and more than a little unsettling about preserving such a magnificent structure as a sort of Catholic museum, to be used as an ornate function room, as in the case of this beautiful former Jesuit church in Georgia.
I attended Mass on two occasions at St. Aidan's when it was being used by the local Anglican-use Catholic congregation, and was impressed each time by the place's historic beauty, which somehow had gone untouched by the vandal renovators of the past generation (perhaps having been slated for closure, and thus, ignored). What a shame it would be to save the building but remove its soul. Might it not be put in the care of some orthodox order in need of a church?
The same might be asked of Holy Trinity German Church, a historic church, next to a downtown housing project, that would be truly grand if given a coat of paint and a stained-window-cleaning. The wedding-cake high-altar built by German craftsmen in the 19th century is truly a sight to see. But rumors have circulated for a while about the old church being one of the next to be closed, and given the current Situation, and the likelihood of hundreds of millions of dollars in Archdiocesan properties being sold to meet court settlements, it is hard to imagine this grand old edifice surviving much longer.
The Latin Rite Roman Catholic liturgy as it is offered in most American parishes at the end of the twentieth century is so stunningly, astonishingly trivialized that it is indeed, taken on the surface, a stultifying, uninspiring, and even faith-sapping experience...What’s happened, of course, is that over the past thirty years the central purpose of Catholic worship—the Eucharist—has been all but lost in a sea of concerns about community building, lay ministry, liturgical language, battles over music and statues, and yet more community building.
Read more of this spot-on piece done by Amy Welborn for First Things.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Brompton Oratory Has Lessons for Parishes: "The Brompton Oratory, where the Novus Ordo is done as it should be done, attracts vast crowds. The cause of restoration calls for greatness of vision," Joanna Bogle writes in this 1998 article in Adoremus Bulletin.
"Its history is, or should be, known to all English-speaking Catholics. It is rich in links with John Henry Newman, whose statue, with a gentle smile, now faces the roaring traffic of the Brompton Road and reassures you that you have found the church you are looking for, and Father William Faber, author of "Faith of our Fathers", who is buried in St. Wilfrid's chapel inside.
"But what is currently important about the Oratory is that it offers today's Catholics a lesson in how the liturgy can and should be celebrated. The Novus Ordo Latin sung Mass every Sunday is packed with regular worshippers of all ages, visitors, enquiring Anglicans, and wistful we-come-when-we-can-and-wish-it-could-be-more-often refugees from parishes across London and the South of England.
"The Mass is celebrated facing God. The clergy wear beautiful Roman vestments and birettas. The liturgy follows fully and exactly the rubrics of the Church, complete with incense, genuflections, bowing, and the correct and exact wording of every prayer and Scripture reading. Nothing is altered into feminist language.
"No substitutes are made for the ritual and gestures prescribed by the Church. There is no 'Good morning, everyone and wasn't that a wonderful result at the football last night?' There is no sudden decision to omit an important prayer or substitute something more chatty and informal. At the Consecration the reverence that sweeps the church is tangible. At the Elevation the bell of the church is tolled to tell London of the mystery enacted in its presence, while the bell at the altar sings out the simultaneous message to the congregation. At Communion, when priests bring the Hosts down to the second Communion rail (there are huge crowds) halfway down the Church, a cascade of genuflections precede them as everyone sinks to their knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Mass has an unhurried pace. There is a sense that it is worth spending time with God..."
Monday, May 20, 2002 Brian Doyle is a most gifted writer. He once penned an evocative essay on his experiences as an altar boy, a condensed version of which is available here at Catholic Digest. A particularly moving portion, not included in the version linked above, is excerpted thus by Father Richard John Neuhaus in a 1997 installment of his First Thingscolumn (fifth item from the bottom:
"Writing in the American Scholar, Brian Doyle offers a deeply affecting remembrance of what it was to be an altar boy in days long past, and then this reflection on the continuing reverberations of those early mornings in the half-darkened church serving Father Whelan’s mass: 'I have come, in my middle years, to a passionate belief in a Coherence—a pervasive divineness that I only dimly comprehend and cannot at all articulate. It is a feeling, a sense. I feel it most near my elfin daughter, my newborn sons. Last night I stood over the huddled body of my daughter, asleep in her bed, her hair flowing around her like dark water. She had fallen asleep only minutes before, sobbing herself to sleep after soiling herself and her bedding and her bear. She is very sick and cannot control her bowels, and she is humiliated and frightened by this; she fell asleep in my wife’s arms, her sobs muffled in the folds of my wife’s deep soft flannel shirt. I stand above her now in the dark. She is curled like a question in the corner of her bed. My body curls itself into an ancient gesture of prayer and humility, and I place my hands together and begin to weep—for love of this child, in fear of illness, in despair at my helplessness. I make a prayer in the dark. I believe so strongly, so viscerally, in a wisdom and vast joy under the tangled weave of the world, under the tattered blanket of our evil and tragedy and illness and brokenness and sadness and loss, that I cannot speak it, cannot articulate it, but can only hold on to ritual and religion like a drowning man to a sturdy ship.'" #
"The liturgy of the Eucharist was amazing. The lights went down in the church for the consecration, and Fr. Weinberger confected the Eucharist by candlelight, through a curtain of incense. He held the Host and then the chalice high for a solid minute. We received kneeling at the altar rail. When we returned to our pew, my wife was making her thanksgiving, and started crying. She couldn't stop weeping, and I asked her if she was okay. She said, 'This is what I thought the Church was. This is why I became Catholic.'"
"What if you were the entire National Conference of Catholic Bishops?" asks Amy Welborn in an article on liturgical reform. What decree would you issue?
The answer here: Turn the priest toward the east, so he and the congregation face the same way in prayer toward the Risen Lord. Re-orient the Mass toward the sacrifice being offered, and away from a focus on the gathered assembly. Restore magnificent high altars and sanctuaries to the uses for which they were meant.
The website of the Anglican-use Congregation of St. Athanasius in Boston offers some history on the Mass said facing east.
Battling poison with ink and holy water: "The news media will follow developments in this scandal, and not because they have found a delightfully marvelous mountain of muck to rake," reader advocate David House writes in the Star-Telegram. "The truth is that the media are confronting an evil on behalf of millions of people, including the many selfless priests who have been unjustly smeared."