Monday, April 25, 2016

While the cat's away...

The cat being the proprietor of that other Pray Tell blog, who's gone wherever cats go for a month or so, leaving the shop in the hands of a trusted über-liturgist.  If you thought the rigid censorship that cat has made such a trademark of that platform might ease just a tad--as in Fidel to Raul--you'd be wrong. 

I offer two pieced of evidence:

Exhibit One, in response to a post titled At the Movies, which asked for examples of liturgy on the big screen, I politely offered not one but three such examples:

But mysteriously my post was sent into the Outer Darkness, as our Mormon friends call it (or is it the Mohammedans?--tough to tell them apart).  Or maybe not that mysterious:  Jack Lemmon, of course, was a Harvard alum, and it's no surprise that a blog that's not only ruthless in its intent to impose bad translations on us, but is also HQ'd in some snowy enclave near the Yukon territory, would possess an irrational animus against anything Ivy League.  Mystery solved:  don't mention Mr Lemmon or your post will never see the light of day (over there, that is.)

Interestingly, another commenter claimed to have played the naive if exuberant seminarian in that film.  Of course, on the internet, anyone can claim to be anyone, which is why there are so many dogs posing as humans.  But this commenter cleverly avoided mentioning Mr L, so the über-censor gave him (or it, if it was a dog) a pass. 

Exhibit Two, a commentor to a post titled Pope Warns Against Admitting Rigid, Fundamentalist Young Men into Seminary  wondered 'I wonder what Pope Francis would say about clerical bloggers?'  This was an obvious and, in my view, mean-spirited attack on our absent, censorious blogmeister, and I for one wan't going to have it.  So I responded, with righteous indignation:
 [The absent blogmeister] and I haven't always seen eye to eye, especially over matters like his desire to force people to attend the Novus Ordo, and to listen to the now defunct 1973 mis-translation of the same, but I feel compelled to stick up for him here, especially while he's on sabbatical and not around to defend himself. 
I don't know what Pope Francis would say about our friend 'awr'--you never know what Francis is going to say , which is why we call him 'The Pope of Surprises'--but I can tell you what I say.  Clerical blogger like [the Cat] have every right to voice their thoughts and opinions, and even when they're dead wrong I'll defend their right to do so.  Clerical bloggers have brought a lot of heat and light, in roughly equal measures, to both the critical issues of our faith and to its ephemeral minutiae.  Many of us have reaped the benefit of their wisdom, so why shouldn’t they blog and blog boldly?  And let’s face it, they have more time on their hands than those of us who have jobs and a family to support.
Amazingly, Raul binned this one too.  Or maybe not so amazingly, since I was arguing for free speech, even when that speech involves endless idolisation of Vatican II. 

But where there's censorship, intrigue is not far behind.  Could it be that the assistant cat has designs to take over the show?  Could it be that when Top Cat comes back he'll find the locks have been changed?  Never underestimate a Novus Ordinator.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Francis, Mercy and the SSPX

Well, I've given them three chances, and each time they've binned my comment.  So here's the comment that the National Catholic Reporter, Fr Z's favourite newspaper, wouldn't print.  This was in response to their story that Pope Francis is acknowledging that anyone who goes to confession to a SSPX priest does so validly and licitly.

"Not sure how the SSPX is 'schismatic' (as stated in the article) or 'fundamentalist' (as a commenter complains). Being excommunicated (as the bishops of the society were, automatically, upon their consecration) doesn't make someone schismatic.  As someone who's had to endure the Bugnini-Montini liturgy for 45 years, I'm grateful to the SSPX for keeping the Tridentine rite alive. If it weren't for them, it's unlikely there'd have been a Summorum Pontificum. Now that I actually live near one of their Mass centres, I'm glad to attend when I can, and I'm glad I can attend the Tridentine Mass at a local parish church as well.

Pope Francis's move took me a bit by surprise, given what's been done to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, but it's good news to me.

The carping about abortion and excommunication is rather tiresome. This is NOT a 'gender issue', as seems to be the implication: note that anyone who participates in or facilitates an abortion (the abortionist, for instance) is excommunicated, not just the mother. I truly don't know the history of why this particular crime incurs excommunication latae sententiae, but it's one of a handful of offenses that does, including, interestingly, the consecration of a bishop without the pope's permission (which is how poor Archbishop Lefebvre got his)."

Go have a read over there, and then help me understand why I got banned.  Was it my reference to 'enduring' the Novus Ordo (something that gets harder to do the older I get)?  Did they not like my suggestion that if you get excommunicated you can hardly be accused of schism?  (Some might call that 'passive schism', but come on--the SSPX may or may not have been pushed, but they sure didn't jump.)  Odd...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Altar Girls and Taking Offense

An interesting (partial) conversation over at another PrayTell blog, which started with the question of altar girls, moved on to the issue of female ordination, and then to the notion of offence.  I must say that I was surprised they published any of my comments, because the last thing they seem to be interested in over here is presenting a healthy range of opinion.  I was beginning to wonder whether the blog censors had gone on holiday, or died, or (could it be possible?) no longer thought it expedient to stifle dissent.  But eventually, of course, the censors woke up. 

Why shouldn't girls be altar servers?  Why should they?  The answer, I think, depends on 2 things:  (i) does altar service have any connexion (possibility of progression) to priestly service, and (ii) should ordination be restricted to males? 

As I explained in a comment that somehow got published,  I was an altar boy both in the last days of the simplified, vernacular Tridentine rite and in the new Montini-Bugnini rite that was imposed on the church around 1970.  From the point of view of an altar boy, it was a world of difference.  Overnight we went from performing an important, critical part of the Mass to being wallflowers.
I suspect a lot of vocations were nurtured by serving the old Mass.  The new mass, no.  Consequently, I don’t see a problem with girls serving the Novus Ordo mass, because it has nothing to do with vocations.  It’s just another silly, unnecessary, make-work job, like ‘extraordinary’ ministers or busybody ‘welcomers/greeters’ or overbearing cantors. 

I’d encourage you to go over there and read the conversation, keeping in mind that you’ll never know what comments were deleted or suppressed.  What is it about the’ Spirit of Vatican II’ set that makes them want to control discourse?

The most interesting series of comments was provided by Rita F, who apparently feels ‘offended’ that the Catholic church only ordains men.  At one point she stated,

There’s a persistent confusion being made above between the psychological state of taking offense and the objective reality of giving offense….[T]he way [women] are treated is actually and objectively offensive.
...The uneasy conscience is evident in the number of times men in this thread have brought up women’s ordination.... It’s all about keeping females away from the altar, and they know it, and they have a bad conscience about it.

You see?  It’s has nothing to do with Rita if she’s offended.  It has nothing to do with her presuppositions, her ideology, her worldview.  No, other people’s opinions are inherently, ‘objectively’ offensive.

Re-posting a comment binned by the censors in their zeal to control discourse & suppress dissent.  [Update:  I don't agree there's such a difference (no.46) between perceiving offense & 'objectively given offense'.  Essentially this is an attempt to negate & silence someone else's opinion by claiming it is 'objectively' offensive.  I can assure Rita I have no uneasy conscience over a male priesthood.  The issue of female ordination arose because of the question of whether altar serving is a means of developing a priestly vocation. In the Novus Ordo, I don't think it is.]

Re 42/44:  I think people have got far too adept at being offended.  Consider this:  in Israel, only Levites were allowed to become priests.  Did the Benjamites complain they were ‘oppressed’?  Did the Ephraimites & Gadites complain this was ‘unfair’?  Did the Reubenites clamour for ‘tribal equality’?  Now we certainly shouldn’t equate the Israelite with the Catholic priesthood.  One may legitimately wonder (pace Luther) whether Jesus actually ever instituted a separate priestly caste.

As a married man, I can’t become a priest either.  Is that fair?  I’m not sure I care, or expect life to be ‘fair’.  I do think we should examine what it is a priest can do that is any different to what you or I can do.  The one thing I keep coming up with  is:  a priest can administer (certain) sacraments that I can’t.  & that’s about it.   A layperson can, in principle, run a parish from administrative point of view, preach, & do anything else we think of as typically pertaining to a priest except that.  So when I hear people say, ‘Women should be priests,’ I have to ask, what exactly is it that you think they should do that they can’t do now?

Yes, I think ‘gender equality’ is a silly concept & is ultimately doomed to failure.  Men & women aren’t equal.  We’re not even from the same planet.

Now, I don’t for a minute deny the genuineness of Rita F’s complaint.  I merely suggest that this kind of resentment is a learned response.

The whole notion of 'objectively offensive' continues to astonish and  intrigue me.  I can see how something can be 'objectively false' (eg, black is white), or how something can be 'objectively immoral' (eg, abortion),  the latter of course requiring that we first accept the notion of objective right and wrong, good and evil (which an atheist would be hard pressed to do, if he is intellectually honest).  But can something be 'objectively offensive'?  You can't be offensive unless there is someone to take offense--it's a one-hand-clapping kind of thing, only more so.

What Rita doesn't acknowledge as that there are women today, and have been throughout history, who do not and have not taken offense at a male-only priesthood.  Are they too stupid not to notice this 'objective offense'?  Or could it be simply that their presuppositions differ from hers?

Have a look at no 44 while you're at it. Here a commenter proclaims that 'science' proves that men and women are substantially the same, psychologically.  I don't know the commenter's background, but I think we can safely conclude that she knows little of how modern science operates, since she clearly thinks it is ideology- and value-free.  As for cherry-picking convenient links from the internet to prove a point, I'll leave it to you to decide how 'scientific' that is!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Over at another Pray Tell blog, they seem to be jumping for joy that Paul VI is being beatified.  What is it with this sudden rush for popes to canonise their predecessors?  It's downright embarrassing.  How much longer before a pope decided to canonise himself?

I have no idea whether Montini is in heaven, but he certainly put us all into a liturgical purgatory, if not hell.  This was a pope who believed he had the authority to abolish the liturgy of ages and replace it with a rite concocted by Bugnini & Co.  Even if his mass was an improvement--and it wasn't, by a long shot--popes don't have the right to do that.  It's not their liturgy, it's ours.

Question:  why are proponents of Montini's mass so keen to quash free discussion and debate?  Is it because deep down they realise his rite is banal and inferior?  Is it part of the same authoritarian streak Montini himself exemplified?  Is it because they know, but cannot admit to themselves, that Montini's mass violates the instructions of Vatican II?  Do they want readers to believe that 'most people' think the same as they do?  Are they trying to convince themselves that's the case?  Or do they just like to control people?

In any event, here's a couple comments their censors wouldn't publish:

[in response to a post praising Montini's 'diplomatic skills' (!) in picking up Vatican II after John XXIII's death:]

'To this task Montini brought considerable diplomatic skills'--and that's all he could bring. Montini had no pastoral skills; he was born to privilege and never 'smelled of the sheep', for he never served a parish.  The closest he came to this was when he was exiled to the see of Milan, where he spent a few years before they let him back into the Curia.

Montini's pontificate was an unmitigated disaster and a shameful exercise in papal aggression.  He did what no other pope had ever presumed to do--he abolished the Mass of ages and substituted for it another rite.  No pope has the authority to do that.  His legacy?  Empty pews, empty churches.
(Note:  The  US Catholic bishops' conference is equally fulsome in their praise of poor Montini.  Apparently they too only publish comments that agree with the party line; their inquisitors suppressed a comment that made these same points.)
[in response to a post likening the current 'synod on the family' to Vatican II:]
The big difference between this synod and Vatican II:  it's one thing for a bunch of celibate males to come together and draft documents about religious liberty or scripture, or to make (very modest) proposals on liturgical tweaks.  It's another thing for a bunch of (purportedly) celibate males--of which a huge proportion are homosexuals, certainly far more than would be predicted from the homosexual prevalence in the general population--pontificating to us about 'the family.'  Give us a break, please.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

La beatificazione sì--er, forse--l'ultramonatismo no!

Over at another Pray Tell blog there's an interesting post on Paul VI, the pope of my childhood who for some bizarre reason is being beatified.  The blogmeister took exception a when someone commented, 'It’s amazing how many people turn ultramontanist when the pope says things that suit their cause/ideology.'  Here's how he responded:  'Quoting a pope is ultramontanist?  You have a problem with what was the cause/ideology of a (soon-to-be-beatified) pope?  Sorry, I reserve the right to quote Paul VI, and to agree with him!'

But of course, Montini's reign was the ultimate exercise of aggressive papal hubris.  No other pope in history ever dared to produce his own liturgy and ban the Mass of ages--and how many bishops had the courage to stand up to him?  Just two that I know of.  But then, we've arrived at a place where the pope gets to appoint bishops and to dismiss them.  Corrupt?  You bet.  Sounds like this is the sort of thing that needs reform, no?

This other PT blog isn't what you'd call a haven of free speech, by the way.  But then, you know the joke about the liturgist and the terrorist, don't you?  Here's one comment the censors didn't allow on their combox:

I certainly have a problem with beatifying Paul VI.  I have no idea if the man was (or is) a saint, how holy he was in his personal life.  But he was one of the worst popes of modern times.  This is not a judgment of his character, but of his competence.  Keep in mind, this is a man who had absolutely no practical pastoral experience, and it showed.  The closest Montini, born to a life of privilege, ever came to serving a parish was when he was exiled to the see of Milan.

The liturgy is ‘the work of the people.’  No pope has the right or the authority  to sweep it away and replace it with a thing of his own making.  This was the ultimate act of papal arrogance, exceeding even the shameful engineering of the proclamation of papal infallibility at Vatican I.  An act of profound hubris, and in that the Roman Church, whether through divine providence or an accident of history, has been the bulwark of Christianity in the west, an act that was profoundly anti-oecumenical.

It’s disingenuous to pretend that the Mass of Paul VI represents the mandate of Vatican II and everyone here knows that—such wilful acts of self-delusion are not becoming to intelligent people.  But what’s most disturbing is this totalitarian view that everyone must march in lockstep.  ‘You must worship my way.’   Clearly there’s a vocal minority who are deeply attached to the Mass of Paul VI (the vast majority of remaining pew-sitters not giving a toss either way).  I admit this baffles me—surely, given the banality of that rite, their motivation can only be ideological rather than liturgical or aesthetic?—but I’m content to let them get on with it.  But, appealing to a shibboleth of ‘unity’, they don’t want to extend the same courtesy to me. Is that what Vatican II was supposed to be about?   (Meet the new boss…)

For all I know Montini was a good man.  But he was a dreadful pope.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Reid, Grillo and the Censored Combox

In my last post, I mentioned some of the discussion that was provoked by the exchange between Dr Grillo and Dom Alcuin on other blogs. Unfortunately, one of these blogs in particular has a habit of deleting comments so as to give an artificial, skewed presentation of the conversation that ensued. My obvious goal in setting up Pray Tell Unchained is making sure any comment I want to make on such conversations stays on the internet. Another goal is to explain why certain liturgy buffs are so keen on control.

Curtailed exchanges: a representative example

One thing you'll find at 'the other' Pray Tell Blog is an overriding insistence the Pauline Mass is the one and only form of worship that can be allowed in the (Latin rite) church. Everyone must conform. When I made the comment (no.10)

Really, we all need to stop telling each other how to pray. We need to give up the desire to control others.

this was the reply from the blog-owner (no.12):

The Vatican II. It really does come down to whether we accept Vatican II or not. The carefully-wrought [sic!!] argument of Grillo is that the EF is not compatible with Vatican II....Arguments for tolerance are distracting us here from Grillo’s central point.'

That pretty much sums it up.  Tolerance is irrelevant, Vatican II is everything (how will that fly with our separated brethern?)  My rejoinder—which he declined to post on the blog—was this:

"But neither is the OF compatible with Vatican 2!

It is perfectly reasonable to accept the notion that V2 was an oecumenical council with some sort of binding, authoritative force and still find the EF superior to the OF. Yes, V2 put forward some moderate reforms—allowing the vernacular for the readings and perhaps for the people’s parts, adding the Bidding Prayers (‘Prayers of the Faithful’) permitting the chalice to the people on certain occasions, etc. Did it happen? Some would say the reforms proposed by V2 are still awaited. (Others would say they occurred in 1965.)

The document that V2 endorsed, Sacr. Conc. was a compromise forged from the opinion of multiple factions. If you read it you’ll struggle to find the Mass of Paul VI in there. But if you read Hans Küng’s ‘The Council, Reform and Reunion’, written when V2 had hardly got off the ground, you’ll recognise it immediately. (How did that happen? Clearly the Consilium threw the compromise out the window and did what they wanted, anyway.

One admission here: when it comes to the authority of V2, I’m with Hans Küng: it’s silly to pretend V2 was an oecumenical council, or V1 for that matter, or any of the post-1054 councils. I think V2 was a large regional synod that was made up of fallible men, who made some mistakes. But I’m voicing this (perhaps heterodox) opinion only in the interests of full disclosure. It’s perfectly possible to have a unquestioning loyalty to V2 and reject the OF—indeed, for the reasons I’ve noted above, logic demands it.
I’m bemused the notion that tolerance distracts from Grillo’s point. I will say this: Benedict was tolerant. What Paul VI did—even if you accept he had the authority to change the Mass, even if you think his mass was superior—was cruel and insensitive. And we as a church have suffered for it."

So there, said it.  But to my other point—why censor?  In the PTB universe, there seem to be a pair of fundamental syllogisms at work:
  • A1. Oecumenical councils are infallible.
  • A2. Vatican II was an oecumenical council.
  • A3. Therefore, Vatican II was infallible.
  • B1. Vatican II mandated liturgical reform (1962)
  • B2. The Pauline Mass (1969) was liturgical reform.
  • B3. Therefore, Vatican II mandated the Pauline Mass.

Now if there’s anything wrong with the initial premises (A/B 1-2), it follows that the conclusion (A/B 3) may be faulty. At PTB, you can be pretty sure that if you question any of those premises, your comment will be consigned to the dustbin. They simply don’t want to consider, for instance, that Vatican II wasn’t really an oecumenical council in the way that Nicaea was, or that the Pauline Mass wasn’t really a ‘reform’ but a series of innovations that Vatican II didn’t call for and which you might even argue were a violation of Vatican II. Such thoughts are anathema.

And another thing...

Don't want this post to get too long, but here’s something from the same Combox that I found hilarious (no.15):

When B16 was asked why he was resigned he said and I quote: “God told me to”. What a rebuke to Benedict and everything he stood for. If God told him to leave I conclude...Benedict was WRONG [i.e., about the liturgy]. Now I can hear the howls from the traddies and the personal attacks against me but either God did tell B16 to resign, or B16 lied or B16 suffers from delusions. Regardless, it doesn’t bode well for what he tried to accomplish.

Strangely enough, my reply didn’t get deleted (no.20); ‘I suspect God has told a lot of popes to resign. What a pity so few of them listened!'

Now how did that one get through?

Yes, a lot of popes should have resigned.  Paul VI should have done so--the day after he got elected would have been nice.  And (I thought after posting this comment)  many another bishop should have resigned too.  And then it occurred to me that maybe God's been telling all of us to resign...take up his cross...etc.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Andrea Grillo, Alcuin Reid, and Control

Two Liturgy Geeks Face Off

It started, I think, on 21 January, when Dom Alcuin Reid posted what I believe is usually called a ‘scathing review’ of Dr Andrea Grillo’s Beyond Pius V on Amazon. (Hey, at least he gave him 2 stars.)   The New Liturgical Movement also posted the review  (identical but for an additional comment about The Liturgical Press).   Dr Grillo then posted a response to this review on his blog (Come se Non), to which Dom Alcuin replied on NLM, to which Dr Grillo replied again on CSN. Thus far the story.

Meanwhile, discussion of this virtual debate was noted elsewhere, for instance at Fr Auge’s blog Liturgia Opus Trinitatis (qui e qui; don't be fooled by the Latin blog title!).  Our good friends at Pray Tell Blog noted the exchange here and here. (Note that the English translation of Dr G’s book is published by The Liturgical Press, hence the connection to PTB, which has duly been promoting it, and hence the comment on the first NLM review.)

A Confession

Dom Alcuin has written a book, too, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, which I think you can safely say is the polar opposite of Dr Grillo's.   But I haven’t read either of them, yet.  I’ve promised Dr Grillo I’d read his (and now I need to find a cheap used version—the beginning is available free, here).  I’ve read Dom Alcuin’s PhD dissertation, on which his book was based, because that was free too.

Missing comments and a question

Now according to a comment on NLM, some comments from LOT ‘disappeared’, but all I can say is  Fr Auge has been polite to me on his blog, even though my Italian is pretty horrific and I keep misspelling his name.  Nor has Dr Grillo played the censor, though sadly his blog seems poorly trafficked. Go on over and say ciao.

At PTB, on the other hand—this will shock those of you who know that blog—some of my comments just evaporated.  Not all, just some.  And the funny thing is, the drum I kept beating was, 'Why can't we all listen to each other?'  Which is hard to do if comments get zapped.  And I have a funny feeling I'm not the only one, either.  So I thought it would be fun to comment here on the things I’m not allowed to comment on over there.  And if anyone cares to do the same, or just join in the fun, they’re more than welcome.

But here's my question:  is there a correlation between (i) wanting to control a conversation and (ii) wanting to control how people worship?  Because the party line at PTB is:  'This is how the liturgy must be; you must do it our way.'  Thoughts on this question welcome.


In my next post, I'm going to call out some of the more interesting comments made in the two PTB posts linked above, add my own thoughts, and of course invite further comments from anyone who cares to chime in.