R U Ready 4 It

The Difference Language Can Make

The new Translation of the Roman Missal is long overdue and should be something to which every English speaking Catholic should be looking forward. For years we have used an approved translation that had merit and was completely valid but was filled with many shortcomings, not because of malice but because of language. For those who wonder if there are good reasons for this translation, Anthony Esolen has a response.

The mistake many make today when critiquing the new translation is they want to use words like good and bad or right and wrong. It is not that we had bad and are now getting good. It is not that someone did something wrong and we are now getting it right. While such arguments can be made, it seems they miss the point. The problem that many overlook is that language is revelatory and, generally speaking, we all should be concerned with choosing the right words when communicating with others. The original language, Latin, makes a connection to revelation and this connection was weakened in the current translation. We should keep in mind that the Mass is a form of revelation and it has to remain True to its purpose. Word choice is very much a part of revelation.

Today, many do not appreciate the power of language and word choice. After decades of imprecise speech, many do not realize how much they betray the Truth with the words they use. Language should be about communicating through the revealing of one’s person to another, that is, it should be about establishing a Communion through expressing the Truth. For those who think the new Translation is a matter of picayune haggling over words, there is a depth to language that he or she may not have considered. Probably the best work in this regard is by Josef Pieper called Abuse of Language Abuse of Power.

At this point, the new Translation cannot be implemented soon enough.

No Limits?

The Call to Tolerance at Its Best!

Every now and then a story comes along that really begs the question on the limits of tolerance. The most recent one has to do with the Catholic University in Washington DC. It seems non-Catholics who attend the university are offended by the Catholic images on the campus. Apparently when these individuals took the orientation tour, the sign in front of the university must have been covered. And all the brochures they received must have been altered. And the applications must have been generic. There must have been some cover up because the name of the university is THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA.

So what did they expect when they matriculated?

Case in Point

When and Where Do We Start?

As we prepare for the New Missal later this year, it is also a good time to begin teaching the faithful about Liturgy and correcting the errors that have been propagated for too long. For instance, holding hands during the Our Father. Having recently said that this is not the practice of the Church, someone replied, “Is it really worth upsetting the people who just don’t know better?” This is the position many take today as if to say that the Catechetical failure should remain the norm.

So if not now, when?

Pro Multis

Why Not All?

Not too long ago the Church maintained the Index of Prohibited Books with the intent of helping the faithful to avoid reading anything that contained theological error. Since the index was abolished in 1966, it seems many believe that there is no danger of theological error and so all views are equal. Of course, this is not the case and the task of vetting works for theological error was given to local ordinaries. Unfortunately, we live in an era in which there are many different avenues of spreading error and many local ordinaries have not invested the time and effort to identify these errors.

One of the more common sources of theological error has been the liturgical music that has swept through parishes over the last 40 years or so. Without giving much thought to it, many parishes now sing hymns that are filled with theological error and thus mislead the faithful. One such hymn, All Are Welcome, has recently been identified as suspect by Bishop Morlino. As pastor of a local parish, it is very difficult to deal with these hymns as so many have grown accustomed to them and think they are so “beautiful.” Asking that they not be played only creates tension because surrounding pastors do not see the problem and continue to use them. Today, more than ever, we need more bishops who are willing to make sure that what happens in parishes truly meets the standards of Truth.

Part of the problem with songs like this one is that we have been somewhat mislead by the poor translation of the Roman Missal. While there is much theological debate regarding the translation of the words “Pro Multis” in the canon, the fact of the matter is that the Church realizes the importance of expressing the Truth and has directed episcopal conferences around the world to use the words “For Many.” We know that Jesus extends the possibility of Salvation to all but not all will be saved. That is why Jesus Himself used the words FOR MANY. Unfortunately there are many Catholics today who think all are in the circle, and this is solidified by errant songs like All Are Welcome.

Maybe it is time for dioceses around the world to get serious about correcting theological error in all its forms. Bringing back the Index will not do it as too many would simply ignore it. What is needed today is acknowledgment of the Catechetical failure, which includes the formation given many priests and religious, and begin working on establishing a fundamental catechesis for all believers. Those who reject the catechesis, that is, who reject the Truth, should be informed that their rejection could potentially leave them outside the Many.


Catholic Excitement

Not only is there an identity crisis but a real move to complacency. As the catechetical failure takes its toll, many Catholics are not concerned about the Church or Her Teaching. It is odd that so many want other to listen to them but they do not want to listen to Legitimate Authority established by God.

What makes it very difficult is the number of American Catholics who would prefer a democratic process with regard to Church Teaching. Interestingly, these are the same Catholics who really do not know the Church’s Teaching or where the Teaching originates. Whenever a corrective is offered to help someone understand the Teaching, the usual responses are, “I don’t have time for that,” or, “that’s not important to me.” Yet when Salvation hangs in the balance, getting it right is very important.

Complacency with regard to the Truth has become the norm for many Catholics and what was it that Jesus said about being lukewarm?

A Needed Renewal

The Catholic Identity

So many today speak of the need to recapture the Catholic Identity in our schools and in our Church in general. Has anyone asked when and how that identity was lost? Unfortunately this Catholic amnesia has been growing for decades and the problem has become systemic. The reality is that many Catholics either do not know the Church Teaching on many key moral issues or have rejected the Teaching. To reverse this trend, much will have to be done.

The recent strategic plan for the schools in the diocese has mapped out its goals and the first part is to deal with Catholic identity. By far, this part of the renewal is the most important and needs to have all concerned parties on board with the Truth. If the key individuals are not 24/7 on board with the whole message, the renewal will fall far short of expectations and may even be hindered.

We should call to mind a few of the statistics from the year 2000 with regard to the beliefs held by Catholic School Religion Teachers: only 10% agreed with the Church’s teaching on Artificial Birth Control; 26% fully agreed with the Teaching on Abortion; 33% agreed with an all male priesthood; 54% agreed with the Teaching on the indissolubility of Marriage; 63% believe in the Real Presence.


A Lost Identity

Every caricature of a person with amnesia portrays someone who has effectively lost his or her identity. Often it is the result of a traumatic experience or blow to the head. The most frustrating part for the individual is the loss of identity. The person yearns to remember who he or she really is.

Today it seems this image can be applied to many Catholics. Generally speaking it seems many Catholics have lost their identity and there is a great frustration on the part of many who are trying to remember who they are. The reality is that the Church Herself has not lost Her memory or identity but that many in the Church have. This loss can be directly linked to the catechetical failure and it would behoove Catholics to find out more about our identity.

The hardest part these days is that most Catholics do not attend any classes, even though they are offered, and many only attend an occasional Mass. It is within this framework that the amnesia continues to spread and the identity continues to be lost. Clearly more needs to be done in getting Catholics to know their own identity.

Changes are Coming

No One Likes Change

It is true that no one really likes things to change, even though change is inevitable. The resistance to change is often found among Catholics since for centuries it seemed to many that the Church did not change, particularly in Her Liturgy. And there is a truth to that perception -- The Church has always been and always will be what Christ founded and what God brought into existence.

The struggle over the centuries has been our need to come to grips with the reality that God established. Just because something changes or develops does not mean the reality has changed, only the expression or understanding of it. The clearest expression of the Church in Her reality has been the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which the English speaking world will go through some changes in the near future. Of course, these changes are not to the Mass Itself but to the language used in praying the Mass. However, the perception will be that of change nonetheless.

The hardest part of making the move to the new translation will be avoiding the perception that the Church is changeable or malleable. The reality for many English speaking Catholics will be a major overhaul to the familiar ritual prayers for the third time in their lives. It is unfortunate that the change must occur but absolutely necessary that the prayers be brought in line with the reality celebrated. The key for all of us is that we not focus on the change but on the Truth being expressed. Anyone who really knows the Church and Her Liturgy will embrace these changes with Joy.

Liturgy and Obedience

The Trials of Obedience

Do the Red, Read the Black! This simple axiom has been so hard for many priests to follow since the Novus Ordo was released. Our diocese has prepared a document in preparation for the implementation of the Third Edition next month exhorting priests to stick to obey this simple rule of Liturgy. Hopefully this axiom will be given to the priests who say the televised Mass on our diocesan channel.

To Judge or Not to Judge?

A Friend in High Places

The expression today still holds true -- it is not what you know it is who you know. This worldly insight has certainly helped many to get what they wanted in this world. If we are wise, we can apply this notion to our Faith lives. As we know from our Creed, Jesus is going to come again to judge the living and the dead. We know that at some point in our existence we will face judgment. Would it not be a good thing to have a Friend in a High Place at that point? Would it not be good to know the Judge Who already knows you better than you know yourself? Yet so many today do not act in such a way as to befriend the Judge.

Sin alienates us from Him while virtue befriends us to Him. The key here is to admit that what constitutes both Sin and Virtue is under Man’s dominion and both have an intimate connection to Grace. When it comes time for judgment the measure of our worthiness will be based on the objective order established by God and all of the circumstantial excuses will not eradicate the sins committed against His Holy Will. So many today seem to act as if there will be a Divine hearing and cross examination on Judgment Day. Others believe that there will be a balance on which their good deeds will be placed on one side and their sins on the other. Their hope is that the balance will tilt enough to the good side to get them through. Remember - it only takes one Mortal Sin freely committed to wipe out all the good actions one does in life.

The only way to be virtuous is to be strengthened by His Grace and the only way to eradicate the stain on one’s soul through sins committed is by His Grace in the Sacrament of Penance. The only way to enter Heaven is through a ourgation of Sin, whether in this life or the next. If you ask me, get it done now!

As Thomas Kempis reminds us:
“What will the eternal fires devour but your sins? The more you spare yourself now and the more you give in to the clamors of the flesh, the more bitterly will you regret it hereafter and the more fuel you will store up for those fires… A man shall be punished most for those sins in which he has offended most.”

Further on he also reminds us:
“Be sorry for your sins now so that on the day of judgment you may be secure in the company of the blessed.”

The best way to befriend the Judge is to completely surrender to His Divine Will in all things and to recognize the Plan He has laid out for entering Heaven. For those who have offended, the only recourse is repentance coupled with Grace. Through ongoing penitential acts, the attachment to Sin can be purged from the soul, a purgation that is necessary for proper purification to enter His Presence. Everyone who wants to be in Heaven one day should recognize the need for the Sacrament of Penance in his or her quest. The only desire one should have every day is to remain in a State of Grace. Those in this State have a friend in the Highest Place and will be able to say that they really and truly know the Judge on Judgment Day.


Diagnosing Laryngitis

Bishop Aquila recently predicted that the state will continue to make attempts at silencing the Church. The bishop has certainly identified a serious issue that he sees growing in the future but did not admit how ineffective the voice of the Church has become in America today. Part of the problem is the fear factor that comes from the numbers game and the subsequent convoluting of the Truth. Proclaiming the Truth will certainly impact the numbers but if it is the Truth the impact will be positive.

At the heart of the preaching today must be the other-worldly dimension of Christian Faith. To approach the people of God with a this-worldly message will only succeed in driving the number down. No one crosses the threshold of a church expecting to hear the same rhetoric that the secularists promote. Yet too many of our own have allowed our message to be watered down with worldly rhetoric and the result has been the serious drop of those in the pews. The problem has been that for too long we have been preaching a counterfeit as if it were authentic. Even the untrained faithful can identify a fake. Today’s shepherds must also identify the counterfeit and note how it has restricted the faithful and themselves. But a return to the Truth will be truly liberating because, as we know, the Truth will set us free!


The Order of Things

One of the great struggles in the world today is being clear on the hierarchical ordering of all things. In the world today, there are many who have completely lost the sense of hierarchical and this loss has resulted in a reduced appreciate of the Truth God has revealed for His Church, to the point of a complete diminishment of It. This loss has contributed to the increase of relativism and poses a serious problem for the Magisterium.

As we know, there is order in Nature with the ordering being hierarchical. The highest being in Creation is Man. This revelation should also be understood in other ways. The Hierarchical also applies to the ordering of Man to God, with God being higher and thus Man being subordinated to God alone. This subordination is important when it comes to the concept of obedience, which Man is impelled to be as the Creature ought to be to the Creator. And the Creator has endowed the Church’s legitimate authority to guide Man in His subordination. God’s shepherds, i.e., the bishops and Church hierarchy, are subordinate to the Shepherd yet are entrusted to Teach those subordinate to them the Way. This has been the case since apostolic times.

Yet in recent centuries this hierarchical structure has been lost and Man now believes He is the master of His own destiny. Such thinking endangers the salvation of the soul because we must always seek to do God’s Holy Will in all things. God is beneficent in giving us the time to submit ourselves to Him and the goal of every life should be that submission. To know that it is done correctly requires a humble submission to the order of all things, which means the lowering of one’s own will before God. All must humbly accept God’s Way, which has been entrusted to the Church and the Truth revealed by God has maintained down through the centuries by the Magisterium. Those who do not submit to the hierarchy of the Church and Her Teaching are effectively rejecting God.


The New Evangelization

One of the recurrent themes over the last decade has been the need for a New Evangelization. Traditionally, the notion of evangelization was to bring the Gospel message to those who have not heard about the Christ. This message was one of repentance and prayer. Ironically, today the call for a new evangelization has been focused on bringing the Gospel message to areas that were traditionally Christian.

In either case of evangelizing, the ones who brought the message had certain qualities that brought credibility to the message. The first was a holiness and prayerfulness of life. Catholic Missionaries were not agents of social improvements or societal development. They were messengers of Salvation who lived the message preached. For such to be effective the message must be owned by the messenger.

Here, then, is the key to the new evangelization -- that all be called to a holiness of life, especially those who are called Catholic. It is not as if this is something new as we were reminded at Vatican II that the universal call for every human being is to holiness. Responding in prayer and virtue is necessary if the Gospel message is to take root today and it will be those who themselves repent and pray that will be most effective in the evangelization process. Thus we must all remember our call to Pray, Pray, Pray!

St. Therese

The Inspiration of Innocence

St. Therese of the Child Jesus sought holiness from a young age. In fact, her desire for holiness was great that she consecrated her life to Christ in the Carmelite Order at the age of 14. Her story is one that inspires to this day. Even in this mixed up age in which innocence is so frequently lost at younger and younger ages, people are still impressed and inspired by her desire for holiness at such a young age.

Today more than ever we should seek to return to a simple approach with regard to family life -- what is needed is a return to core families living the Gospel values. This message has been echoed for decades by the Church and yet so many still think that cultivating future generations in worldly values is beneficial. With Gospel and true family values at the center of our homes, our children would echo the words of St. Therese and the vocation crisis would be quickly reversed:

“Nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.”