Monday, July 30, 2007


I haven't heard this question in 45 years or so. I remember when I went to the dance that was being held for the seventh and eighth graders of the Immaculate Conception School where I was being educated by the Presentation of Mary nuns. We were specifically told by them that kissing one another was not allowed. My mother and father specifically told me that kissing the girls was not allowed. My father, a truly God-fearing man dropped us off at the parish hall with a wink. I knew what that meant. She was a very fetching French Canadian girl, but kissing was out of the question. So, OK, this was 1949, and it happened again in 1950, with`the same girl,
Monique, by name. She was a prize and I had two great advantages over my classmates. Most of them had long decided that speaking fluent French was "old-fashioned" in the United States. Monique, only a short time here from Abitibi in Quebec was not that fluent in English. Score one for Paul. She also lived just across the field and down one street from us. Final blow for Paul. Not only did we go to the school dances together, we were friends and I even carried her books in the fine Spring and Fall weather. All this to say that we were together a lot. Finally, one day, I kissed her. BOOM? Nope. Just the sadness of seeing her return to Canada at about the
same time that I was preparing to go to the seminary in New Hampshire. Our parents gave us permission to kiss one another because we were such close friends. We were 14 and we never have seen one another again.

Telling you this story has stirred the same emotions and hormones that stirred then every time that Monique and I were together being friends. I kissed that woman once, on the cheek in front of my parents and hers. I didn't even blush and neither did she. (You know, French lovers!) Then I kissed her mother and her father and the next time we see one another will be heaven, I suppose. I knew at that moment that she had the same "spoon" stirring her emotions and hormones that had been stirring mine. I love her now as I loved her then. I know that God
taught me a lesson. He always gives you what you need, despite what you think you want.
Remember, this was in the days when postage stamps for a first class letter cost $0.03, not $0.41. The fax machine existed, but it was still classified and only the government could have one. Newspapers came to your house for $0.25 a week and an expensive bicycle cost $60.00. We had a telephone, but Monique's family did not. They did not have an automobile, but they lived only one half-mile from the bus-stop. So we would see one another every school day. Let me tell you something, I didn't need Cialis to let me know that she was on the bus. Hormones in those days had already been invented. Oh, yeah! She never sat in the same seat with me. Not
one single, solitary ride for over two years. If that's not enough to get me past St. Peter, I'm putting in a complaint.

So why didn't we kiss one another? We didn't because of two main reasons. a) We were not married, not even engaged, and b) we believed in the truth of respecting the "proximate danger of sin." Well, at least physical sin. Was it easy? Of course not. We prayed ejaculatory prayers like, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph help me." Was it easier than it would be today? Yes, I think so. We did not have so many visual and auditory prompts to keep us so manic about sensual and sexual feelings. We did not have access to drugs, although being of French extraction we did have wine handy and could have abused of it had we been so inclined. The people of today are a
lot less modest as they were then. Even in California the style of dress was not as revealing as it is now. Now, there is a lot of sin present to us every moment of every day. Satellite Radio is a stream of sex all day and all night. Television is the same. The advertising with which we are bombarded has gone from the World War II "Sweater Girl" to the 21st century bikini bombshell. Television is an ever present stream of suggestive pictures and language and I am not even going to mention the Internet.

I am now going to expose myself to ridicule because I am going to say that boys and girls should not be kissing one another until they get serious and approach marriage. Kissing in and of itself is not necessarily sinful. Kissing has several levels of meaning. Kissing your cousin, or your aunt or your mother or your grandmother is not generally sinful, it is a sign of deep respect. Kissing your dancing partner on the cheek as you deliver her to her mother on the porch would not generally be sinful. We are talking here of kissing as a sign of warm friendship, even after a date at a movie, a dinner or a dance. When I was growing up, dating and kissing did not generally occur until about 17 or 18 years old.

There is another kind of kissing, sometimes known as lip-wrestling. This is not appropriate for people who are not married to one another, no matter what age they are. Kissing is a fundamental level of preparation for intimate matrimonial activity. Engaging in this kind of behavior outside of marriage can be seriously sinful. It is behavior that will make one or the other of the two people involved ultimately regret the act. "Making-out" is sinful behavior because both people know that it is only good to satisfy their own personal passion. It is therefore morally wrong to engage in intimate kissing outside the sacrament of marriage.

By now, you are rolling on the floor laughing your head off. You're saying, "Making-out" is a sin? No way. More than likely that's because of the changed definition of dating. It used to be that dating was a "getting to know you" exercise. From what I have been told, more than once, by the way, that the definition now is, "getting to use you." It's the moment of the test drive, so of course, before you put it in gear, you rev the engine a bit. This is sinful behavior. But there has to be a middle ground. You know, Paul, everything is negotiable. No, everything is not
negotiable. You all know that to desire an evil act is evil in and of itself. It is therefore not moral to turn a good act into a bad one by misusing it. If kissing a person of the opposite sex (or of the same sex, for that matter) is going to cause immoral activity, then the kiss itself is sinful.

Finally, I have to explain an expression that I used earlier. I said that we were taught to respect "the proximate danger of sin" and to avoid it. There are two degrees of "danger of sin". One is "remote" and the other is "proximate". I'm a little round guy. So, if I decide to go to work via the road where the doughnut shop is, I place myself in the proximate danger of sin every day. Now, I also like to drink, but when I go home from work the other way, I have to pass by two bars. This is truly a remote danger of sin. I really am not big about drinking in bars. I occasionally go into one of them with a work buddy. I have one beer, we shake hands, he stays, I go home. No sin, although it could have turned into one had I abused of the situation. The chances of that were remote.

Monique and I were very normal human beings. We both enoyed being together a lot. I've already told you how I felt. A kiss for me, and for her I suppose, during one of those two wonderful dates could have turned the situation into a sinful one, in more ways than one. It would have been sinful, and still is, to place myself, and her into a proximate occasion of sin.
Paul, you are a real tightly wound old geezer. She and I have a deal. We know when and how to stop. We have rules. What's a kiss or two? Hmmm! Who brokered the deal? God? His mother, Mary? More than likely not. I don't want to shock you, but I know what a kiss or two is. I know what a 30 minute kiss does to people. I confess that I've had one or two of those along the way. Stone statues would crumble if they got the right kind of kiss. Your "deal" does not protect you without the intervention of God and His Holy Mother. The best deal is to walk side by side, sit across from each other in the restaurant, have your Mom drive you to the movie and back, invite your Mom to the prom, etc. You get the idea. Respect sows the seeds of everlasting love in the soul; self-seeking fun and games sow pain and regret.

Remember, a kiss is a sign of respect. The priest kisses the Altar, we kiss the Cross, we kiss the Bible, we kiss our Mother and our Father and others whom we respect deeply. We kiss the coffin of departed people we love. We offer one another a kiss of peace upon closing important contracts. The kiss is a very holy and prayerful act. Don't misuse it. Take guidance from your guardian angel and your love of God before you make it happen.

Oh, please say a prayer that by some miracle Monique and I can see one another again before we meet St. Peter. I would like to introduce her to my wife and children. If we don't see one another here on earth, don't cry for me because you know that I will look her up in heaven.

OPEN LETTER TO PRIESTS (Mostly in English)

Reverendi Domini:
Reverend Gentlemen:

Haec citatio ex documento concilii Vaticani II "Sacrosanctum Concilio" obtinetur.
A) Normae generales
22. § 1. Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet: quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum.
§ 2. Ex potestate a iure concessa, rei liturgicae moderatio inter limites statutos pertinet quoque ad competentes varii generis territoriales Episcoporum coetus legitime constitutos.
§ 3. Quapropter nemo omnino alius, etiamsi sit sacerdos, quidquam proprio marte in Liturgia addat, demat, aut mutet.

In the past month I have been subjected to a deluge of acrimony from Catholics who are fed up with the "desacralization" of the Mass. I have this collection of vitriol smoking and smoldering on the Google Gmail server because I would not want to have it in my personal office. All I have done to deserve this is to be brave enough to come out and decry the the pope's action of allowing the celebration of the Mass in the ritual as defined by pope John XXIII in 1962. I even composed some sarcastic blogs in the Latin Language spoofing the Latin Mass. It is interesting that no one, not a single one has dared to come back and make a Latin Language comment. No, not even a priest or bishop. Why? Because only about 5% of you can even understand even
"Dominus vobiscum", that's why.

So why do we have this tsunami of faithful dancing in the streets because the "traditional, dead-foreign-language Mass" is coming back? Here's what they say, and I am not making this up.

The reverence for the Sacrifice of the Mass is gone.
The worshipful attitude of the Temple has been diminished.
The dancing girl procession down the center aisle is not proper.
Indecent dress has taken over the pew and the priest says nothing.
People talk in church like it is a meeting hall.
The music is horrible.
The priests take too many liberties with the official language of the liturgical text of the Missal.
Altar girls? Yuk!
Lectors who can't read.
Extraordinary ministers at every Mass, even if there are only 25 communicants?

Is that enough for you? Notice what is conspicuously absent here... not one single complaint about the vernacular as such. Once again, I am not making this up. In fact, here is an oft repeated quote: "I am not looking for the Latin language, I am seeking the reverential environment." I have two quotes that put the exclamation point on the attitude described here: "The Anglicans have had liturgy in English for centuries now. Their "Mass" is a reverential high. We Catholics have gone astray."

Reverend sirs, I want you to know that I am on your side. I understand Latin, you don't. I even am well versed in the 1962 liturgy of the Roman Missal, you aren't (for the most part). I don't agree with all of the acrimony coming from the "traditionalists". I am, however, telling you this, that unless we get our liturgical act together and tighten our cinctures, the trip back to 1962 may gather steam and we will find ourselves back in 1662. Don't do that to me. I am >70 years old. I was around when Pope Pius XII changed the rules of the Eucharistic Fast. Imagine, we could drink pure water after midnight before going to communion! Enough already, I don't want to go back there. Except for a fringe, ultra-right-wing group of activists, not many want to go back there. But there are many who are demanding more reverence for our sacred worship experience (the Eucharist) than we are presently getting.
Even the Pope gets it. Benedict XVI is no dummy. He's older then I am. He grew up in Nazi Germany. He lived through the West-East German split and reunification. He knows division and unity more deeply than many of us. I trust him more than a lot of the traditionalists do. I don't agree with Summorum Pontificum, but I am convinced that we deserve it, we've earned it fair and square. Furthermore, I ask you, "Why do you think that Benedict XVI did not authorize an 'official' translation of the document? Why do you think that he wrote a collateral explanation to Summorum Pontificum in the vernacular (Italian) himself?" He wanted to prove to you and to the world that it's not the language that is important, it is the faith and its liturgical expressions that spring from the heart that are important. He and others are worried that our present liturgical prayers are not consonant with what our faith really is.

I am not going to translate the above quote from Sacrosanctum Concilium, #22. You can look it up yourselves. I am going to give you two examples of forbidden liberties that take place against the instructions of the second Vatican Council and the General Instruction on the Roman Missal.

Allow me to show you the only three options that the priest has for the opening greeting to the Mass:
1. Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2. Priest: The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
3. Priest: The Lord be with you
Does any of these sound like "Good Morning" to you?
Is "good morning" better than any of the three?

The invitation to the Sign of Peace:
: Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.
All: Amen.
Priest: The Peace of the Lord be with you always.
All: And also with you.
Deacon or Priest: Let us offer each other a sign of peace.
[The ministers and all the people exchange an embrace, handshake, or other appropriate gesture of peace with those near them, according to local custom.]
Does anything here sound like "I love you"? or "let's give each other a nice, warm hug?"

It has been made clear to me by the reaction of the *center* of the Catholic Community that we have some soul-searching to do and some restitution to make to those who have been proven correct much to our discomfort. The reverence due the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass must be reinstated. There is a wave of demand for corrective action sweeping over us. It is the Spirit of God making a course correction. It is not a LANGUAGE correction, it is a worship correction. Like the Israelites in the desert, on the road between Egypt and the Promised Land, we have to listen to Moses telling us what God told him on Sinai. We have to thank God for the blessing of His unity through the diversity of the Trinity. We have to exercise our faith in God as disciples of His Son Jesus, not as seekers of personal comfort. If it takes a Motu Proprio from Sinai to jerk us back 45 years and bring us to our senses, so be it.

Like I said a little while ago, I don't agree with the Motu Proprio because it is retrogressive. I do think that we deserve it because we were losing our Unity. With that, I leave you with the assurance that no one will call upon me to preside over a "traditional" 1962 Mass, despite my linguistic and liturgical abilities. I leave you with the assurance that I will perhaps not live long enough to see where Summorum Pontificum will bring the Church. When I do leave, I want a Mass in English, in the briefest form possible.
Rest assured that I am relaxed after a month-long paroxysm of disappointment. I have now come back down to earth and can assure you that you have absolutely no need to cry at my funeral. God has sunk His fist into my nape and I am back in line.

There is one way that you can all make God and me happy. Go out and buy yourself a copy of "Sacrosanctum Concilium" and the "GIRM", read them and abide by them and you may not have to go out and learn Latin after all.

"Quid dixi, dixi." (Pontius Pilate, Governor)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mother and Daughter before God

You are looking at a picture of the meaning of life. The person on the left raised 8 children, the first of whom is standing in a yellow t-shirt and blue apron. The old person in the lounging chair is approaching the time of her handshake with God. The younger person is the eldest child of the person in the chair. This picture was snapped at the occasion of an Independence Day barbecue party in San Diego. There was no way that Grandma was going to miss the festivities. Even though she had to eat processed food, her presence among her children and her grandchildren was not going to be "processed." This is a human being who is living life until the moment that she can no longer retract her hand from the outstretched hand of God Himself who is inviting her to join Him in heaven. It's not that she doesn't want to go, it's just that she has other things to do and she can't figute out why God doesn't want to give her the strength and the time to get them done here below.

At 4' 6" and 65 pounds she never gave in to anybody before, so why now? She got through the Japanese occupation, the death of her first husband to dysentery at age 32, the management of the family property while her second husband pursued his calling as a holistic healer. This is one tough human being.

She came to the United States 27 years ago. After some round trips and some negotiating, she and her husband stayed here to help us raise our two children. This is not considered to be a victory over government. It is a pure and simple gift of God. We found a way to be present to our children while the four of us worked. There was no way that this lady was going to be a stay-at-home-mom. There she and her husband were, at 67 plus, holding down solid part time jobs and helping us to raise our two boys while my wife and I were pursuing demanding full time senior management careers. My wife in the Catholic Church, my Mother-in-law in a non-profit soup kitchen proffering help to immigrants.

The gift has come full circle. "Lola" is now going on 88, still stating bravely that she is but 80. she has to be nursed carefully, carried here and there around the house, shown to the facilities, bathed and sometimes fed and always assured that the time has come for her favorite television show, "Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meal." The mystery of aging and suffering is making itself felt in the family. The Biblical assurance that suffering is not intended for the sufferer but for those who relate to the sufferer through love. The suffering of such a love-filled person draws the family closer to God. We had a pot-luck party for "Lola"last Sunday and it was a rather wonderful event. We were all outside, including "Lola" and she was not only the center of attraction but the center of instruction on how to hold a party according to Filipino culture. Everyone listened, believe me.

She tells God every day, you don't need me yet. These people need me. It is true. We need her because with her around we learn how to relate to God in ways that we would never have experienced without her. We owe Him a lot for giving her to us in health and in lack thereof. Thank you, Lord. This Grandmother of ours is teaching us what it takes to get to heaven. Because of this wonderful experience, among others, no one will have to cry at her funeral and certainly also, not at mine.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


This question was asked of me today by none other than St. Luke himself. It was also asked of about 1,200,000,000 others around the world. All of us heard the same question. Even those who do not receive heard it. Listen closely and you will hear it again:

"You, however, must again heed the LORD'S voice and carry out all his commandments which I now enjoin on you. Then the LORD, your God, will increase in more than goodly measure the returns from all your labors, the fruit of your womb, the offspring of your livestock, and the produce of your soil; for the LORD, your God, will again take the light in your prosperity, even as he took delight in your fathers',if only you heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the
LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul. "For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out." (Deuteronomy, 30; 7 - 14)

If you were at Mass today, (you should have been) you joined the other 1.2 billion Catholics around the world in hearing St. Luke quote this passage and the other passage from Deuteronomy which everyone knew and still knows, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you
today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest." (DEUTERONOMY, 6; 4 - 7)

The Scripture reading went from there to the great psalm 69 which starts off by saying,
"Save me, God, for the waters have reached my neck. I have sunk into the mire of the deep, where there is no foothold. I have gone down to the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me. I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes have failed, looking for my God. (Psalm 69; 1-3)

Think of the poor guy who was abandoned by the side of the road. What psalm was he thinking about? Then along comes St. Luke and he has the story about the smart-aleck who asks, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus does not dignify the question by giving it an answer. He tells a story and then asks a question in return: "Who do you think was this man's neighbor?"

Check out the Burning Question Blog and insert your own answer, but before you do that, listen to why I am a Catholic.
1. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people tuned in to the same spiritual question on the same day?
2. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people talking to Jesus about the same topic on the same day?
3. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people opening the Bible to the same chapter and verse on the same day, 365 days per year?
4. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people examining their conscience about how they treat other people in their everyday lives during the week?
5. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people saying to themselves, "maybe I should go to Mass tomorrow morning too."
6. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people appreciating the real sacramental presence of Jesus Christ Himself in their midst for an entire solar cycle around the earth? Not only today, but every day of the week!
7. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people saying "Hello, Jesus" or some other little prayer of greeting as they pass in front of a church?8. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people to agree on a "signature" behavior as a definite sign of their faith for centuries before and centuries to come?
9. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people to agree that their earthly leader has their best spiritual interest at heart without fear that he will make a mistake about it?
10. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people to agree that earthly and spiritual life have seven stages that call for the active presence of Jesus on the way to salvation?11. What other Christian group can get the entire world hooked on the TV coverage of the funeral of their earthly leader?
12. What other Christian group can get the entire world to trust their spiritual leader to tell the truth all ways and at all times?

I am not about numbers, but I am about the power of Christ's presence on earth. There is a richness about volume. The volume of Catholic spirituality is not about the numbers, it is about the unity. The connection with Catholics around the globe in all time zones was not arithmetic, it was unique. It was joined to the spirituality of the Apostles. Catholic unity is not of today, it is of Apostolic times. It reaches back into the cenacle. It has no shame when it crashes the party in Bethany. It knows that it is a part of Peter's vision telling him to eat what would be presented to him in Caesarea Maritima because what God had made good, he should not consider impure.

Catholics are as comfortable in Jerusalem as they are in Rome. They are as comfortable in
Athens as they are in Moscow. They move comfortably between Constantinople and Damascus. Did I hear someone ask about Alexandria? Barcelona? Paris? London? ... London? Yes, even London.
I am so Catholic that even my sons wonder why I am not the pope. But actually, my wife is more Catholic than I am. We get so excited about our discussions sometimes that our sons (adults now) wonder if a divorce is imminent or not. They know that she cannot be the pope.

Two things are for sure:
1. If you have turned your back on the Catholic Church, you owe yourself a very seriously deep examination of conscience.
2. When I die and you hear about it, remember that I believed in God enough to assure you that I was walking hand in hand with Him and that you did not have to cry.

If you are still facing away from His church, then you had better start crying.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dies Gaudii, Dies Lacrimarum, Dies Gratiae Hominibus Bonae Voluntatis

Summorum PontificumI enjoy reading the comments that my opinion has elicited. They are polite, kind and well put. They also deserve a response, or at least a reaction from the author of the blog.
Many, and I mean, many, say that it is not the Latin that they seek, but the spirit of sacredness and holiness that they get from the ritual. They are elevated by the quiet, the silence, the ability to pray and to prepare for communion. The atmosphere is so much more mystical.
I don't deny that. No one does. To be perfectly honest, I do have a corner in my heart that says that there is room for that in the church. Jesus Himself said, “There are many mansions in my Father’s house.” I also know that it is not what the Fathers of Vatican Council II intended. They intended that the Mass should be a participatory celebration of the mystery of salvation, not a personal, mystical preparation to the reception of communion. They intended the entire Mass to be Eucharist, priest and laity celebrating together. More community singing, more bible stories, mandatory homily, etc. That's why they put the priest as close to the crowd as they could, face to face, joy to joy. That is why we have what we have in this day and age.
Starting on September 14, 2007, those who want the peace and quiet of preparing themselves for communion while the priest turns his back to them, consecrates the bread and wine and prays in whispers in a foreign language will have more opportunities to do so. It is Benedict XVI's opinion that this is good for the church.


I have had an interesting experience over the last week. I am a very staunch Roman Catholic who has reservations about the Pope’s opinion concerning the relaxing of the rules for the celebration of the Mass in Latin, according to the ritual which was installed by Pope John XXIII in 1962. I found a deep, right-wing Internet site where I asserted myself and said that I did not agree with the Pope’s opinion as stated in the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. More than being a staunch Roman Catholic, I am a fluent reader of Latin. I wrote my opinions over my real name and my real academic credentials. It was a rather interesting give and take which lasted a while, but then ended abruptly for the sake of maintaining civility.
Since then, I have read some comments on my blog, one post which is entitled QUIBUSCUMQUE MISA LATINA PRAEDILIGENT OFFERTUR which you can find if you click here

One of the faithful who made a comment asked me to write a more complete article about my opinion about the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass) so that my opinion would be more clearly exposed, and hopefully, understood. I am therefore going to plunge right into the project so that I can get it done before the reader loses patience.

I. Foundational theology of the Mass, Pre-Vatican II
Before Vatican II the foundational theology of the Mass was situated on the Old Testament concept of the Sacrifice. Just as the sacrifice was the supreme act of worship, reconciliation, intercession and petition, so was the Mass, the supreme act of relationship with God, the non-sanguinary sacrifice of the Lamb of God, offered to God by the Lamb Himself (Jesus on the Cross) for the salvation of Mankind. This act of worship is presented to us from the first pages of Genesis all the way through the Gospels.
Every seminarian who was ordained before 1970 was “formed” in this theology. I know, I was one of them.
This theology was the basis of our prayer style. The priest conducted the rite that made the sacrifice happen. Our priest was the replication of the Levite or the Aaronite and Jesus Himself was the true Priest who was at the same time the Sacrificial Lamb.
Every Mass then, was a sacrifice, a holocaust that was a memory of the holocaust that Abel, Noah, Abraham, Job and others offered. The problem was that not a single pew warmer knew anything about this theology. Every Mass was a sacrifice that reminded us of the demands of the covenant that God had made with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus and not a single simple soul in the pew knew the background of what was going on.

II Foundational Theology of the Mass, per Vatican II

The Fathers of Vatican Council II took clues from Pope Pius XII who was a strong advocate and initiator of liturgical reform. He even created a liturgical commission of imminent scholars who had been at work for some 25 years before the council. Their efforts were so glorious and compelling that the Constitution on the Liturgy was the first to be discussed and accepted by the Fathers. It was never the object of political wrangling by the autocrats of the Roman Curia. It is a Constitution that was ripe when it arrived in Rome.
"The Liturgy is defined as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of humans is manifested by signs perceptible to the senses and is offered in a way which is proper to each of these signs. (Liturgy, Section 1, #7) Pastors must then realize that when the liturgy is celebrated more is required than the observance of the laws governing valid and licit celebrations. The presence of Christ is being celebrated, presence in the person of the priest, present in the Eucharistic species, presence in His word and presence when the church sings and prays. Christ associates the church with Himself in the truly great work of giving praise to God and making people holy." (Same section, same number)
Every Mass is sharing in the heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the heavenly city of Jerusalem toward which we all journey as pilgrims, encouraging one another on the way, singing to God’s glory, venerating the saints and hoping to join them one day in the Divine presence of God.
The theology of the Mass as described and exposed by the Fathers in Vatican II is a dynamic, participatory worship of the church exercising the fullness of baptism.

III Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation

“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful be led to that full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people" (1 Peter, 2:9) is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.” (Liturgy, Section II, #14)
This statement in the Constitution states the theological reason for the active exercise of the fullness of our baptismal grace. It is the celebration of our dying, rising and resurrecting with Christ through baptism. The Fathers are telling the church that Mass is a celebration of our very existence in the presence of God. Mass is the celebration of the new covenant, reminding us that we have survived the Deluge, the slavery of Egypt, the exile to Persia, the oppression of the Greeks and the Romans and we are being guided to our Salvation in the sacramental presence of God Himself thanks to the passion, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
This worship demands a liturgy which is celebrated in a language which can open as much as possible the understanding of the participants into its divine mysteries.

IV General Norms
“…both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify. Christian people, as far as possible, should be able to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.” (Liturgy, Section III, # 21)
It is interesting to note that the Constitution makes it a point to note that the liturgy will be conducted in Latin. Then, in the very next sentence it says that in order to help the people to better participate, certain important parts of the liturgy should be in the vernacular. It is important to note that the Constitution leaves the degree to which the vernacular will be introduced into the liturgy is left up to the local ecclesiastical authorities. That freedom has now been trimmed back substantially.

V Sacred Scripture

I cannot emphasize this enough. From the papacy of Pius XII through the present day, the Bible has taken on greater and greater importance in our lives as Catholics. Pius XII in his encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu enjoined the church to turn to the Scripture as its basic source of learning about God. This drive toward the use of Scripture as the source of our knowledge of God drove the Fathers of the Council to make it a greater part of the Mass than it had ever been. The council Fathers wanted us to understand just how radically important the Bible is to our faith. When the reform of the liturgy was complete, a daily Mass goer would have heard stories from about every book in the Bible and have heard about 75 or 80% of the entire Catholic Canon.
That’s not all. The proclamations, the prayers, the psalms, the blessings and exhortations in the Missal were taken almost exclusively from the Bible. Sacred Scripture is of paramount importance to our faith and the expression thereof through our religious acts, i.e. the liturgy. The Mass of today is constructed so that just about everything that is said either by the congregation or by the priest is connected to Sacred Scripture. The Mass is constructed in such a manner that everything that is prayed is aimed at strengthening the faith of the faithful thereby making their relationship with God more meaningful and more secure.

The Mass of today is constructed in the form of a celebration that leads to creating an internal happiness that is meant to strengthen the faithful for the mission. The Mass of today is a Banquet meant to strengthen the participants for the journey. The Mass of today is structured to help the faithful come to know one another in their own community so that they will have fewer reservations about carrying its blessings with them throughout the rest of the week. The Mass of today is an inter-active liturgy of the communion of the saints. That’s why so many of us talk in church these days. That’s also why so many of us have “prayer corners” in our houses with open Bibles and candles so that we can pray as a family in our church of the home. That’s also why so many of us have a Bible near our bed or in another quiet corner so that we can obey the evangelical counsel to pray in the privacy of our own room. That’s also why there are so many Bible studies in Catholic communities these days. There is so much Scripture in the Mass that we thirst for more contact with the Word at another level.

VI Conclusion
In conclusion, I want to point out that there are some things of the Mass that will not and cannot change. There are some things that can change, and they will. I have pointed out that the foundational theological point of view of the Mass has changed, but that both of these points of view do not change the essential underlying theology of the Mass. The Fathers of the Council wanted to achieve two major goals: They wanted to construct a more communal liturgical exercise of the priesthood given to us all in our Baptism. Secondly they wanted to construct a more scripturally based liturgical celebration in an effort to make Catholics more sensitive to the revealing power of the Sacred Word. In so doing they kept in mind that there is an intimate connection between worship and belief, so much so that theologians, and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) prominent among them, have repeatedly declared that the lex orandi (the way one prays to God) influences and indeed actually becomes the lex credendi (the way one believes). I am convinced that the best way to achieve what the Fathers of the Council envisioned is through solidly celebrated liturgy in the vernacular.

Those of you who agree with me will know that I will die happy and you won’t have to cry at my funeral. Those of you who disagree with me won’t have the slightest inclination to cry at my funeral. Istum quaeso vobis quia,
Deus, Qui Mariam absolvit,
Et latronem exaudit,
Mihi quoque spem dedit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I wrote this on the above date. I was right.

"Benedict XVI will not apologize. He spoke the truth about Islam in Germany about one week ago. He knows it. The Muslim religious leaders know it. The Christian Theologians and Historians know it too. The Pope will not apologize for speaking the truth. I don't blame him and neither should you. Trust me, believe Benedict XVI on this."

It's almost a year since Benedict XVI told this to the Muslims and to the world about Muslims when he quoted a midaeval potentate about Islam. A day or so ago, Benedict XVI reminded us Catholics and the world that "[... Church of Christ...] constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him". (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, section 8.2)That's it, boys and girls, that's what we believe. That's what we live and die with. The Catholic Church is the one, true church, the one that Jesus Himself founded.

It is the truth that flows from that statement that is getting all the attention. Attention not only from the non Catholics, who have heard it all before, 45 years ago in Vatican II, but from the Catholics who also heard it and were not ready to hear what it means. In simple, stark terms it means that the Church of Christ, the one that He founded and the Catholic Church are identical. In simple stark terms it means that there are no directly interchangeable parts with others who from the 16th century forward, call themselves churches. For you older people, it means that your Chrysler Fluid Drive can't use my Buick Dynaflo Turbines. It means that your Buick is not a Chrysler and never will be. That is non-negotiable. The Catholic Church is the True Church, that is not negotiable.

Benedict XVI will never back down from this because it is dogma. He was there at St. Peter's when it was hammered out. A couple of months ago I was accused of being too conservative in my doctrinal statements. I was accused of not being ecumenical enough. I didn't show enough compassion and understanding of people from other religions. I couldn't figure out why. All I did was to comment positively on a Vatican document that said that Yoga is incompatible with Christianity, and Catholicism in particular. I have the Pope and the entire Vatican Council II on my side because I believe the dogma that defines our Church.

I have to clarify that the Orthodox Churches are true churches. They are true churches because they have maintained their connection with the Apostles. This is called the Apostolic Succession. They have valid ordinations of priests and bishops, they have valid baptism, eucharist, marriage, penance, confirmation and anointing of the sick. They are connected to Jesus through this succession and so they are true churches, intimately connected with the Catholic Church but have something missing that has to be connected before we can be whole again, and that is the live and valid connection with the Pope.

Even with these churches, we Catholics do not concede anything. We have deep theological understandings with them, but we remember that some of these understandings keep us apart rather than bind us together. Until these understandings come under the same truth, we will not be united and we will not apologize for our position. Neither will they, by the way. After all, a thousand years ago they called themselves "Orthodox" (right) while those attached to Rome called themselves, "Catholic" (universal).

This does not mean that we as Catholics do not believe in ecumenism. As a matter of fact, we have some of the most brilliant theologians in the world working in the ecumenical arena. Ecumenism is not a diplomatic negotiation. Ecumenism is a study of the different ways of looking at Divine truth and expressing the practices that stem from those views. Ecumenism is not a diplomatic game of "Alphonse and Gaston" for vicars; it is not a do-si-do" for parish leaders and it is not a round of cocktail parties for bishops. Ecumenism is a serious Theological endeavor that is closely monitored by the major Vatican departments, called "dicasteries". It comes directly under the Pope's direction in what is called the Congregation for the Unity of Churches. I believe that this congregation is competent to deal with the high level theologians and leaders of other religious communities in the world. I believe that the Unity of mind and heart of the Catholic Church is born of the Truth that sets us free. I believe that ecumenism is a drive towards the fullness of truth in the light of the Catholic Church.

I have had plenty of invitations to join other "churches". I have turned them down without a split second's hesitation. I'm not perfect but I'm still here. I have decided that I will die here too. With a hard head like that, why would you cry at my funeral? You'll know that I died happy, "cuz I dun it my way."