Monday, June 25, 2007

Best Argument against DVC

and all the other Gnostic Gospel crackpots, not to mention torture. From Frederica Mathewes-Green retelling stories of Romanian persecution of Orthodox clergy:
One way guards particularly taunted Christians was by telling them that Christ and Mary Magdalene had had a sexual relationship. Fr. Roman noted, laughing, that in Romania this constituted torture, but in America people line up to pay for it in movies and books (“Here in the land of so-called freedom—I am not so sure you are free.”)

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I, and most proud Catholics, have reason to fear a blogger who puts out lines like:

In a nation with this many manicured lawns, abortion is a necessity.

Any Christian should know that nothing moral is determined by the majority, and, in fact, the majority qua majority is nearly always immoral.

I was simply unable to pray at RC masses, both conservative and liberal, traditional and novus ordo.

Liturgical recapitulation, not revolution

Fr. Martin Fox has some parting thoughts on the annual Sacred Music Colloquium at CUA:
Why should we rekindle and bring back out the treasures of chant and polyphony? Because it is part of who we are, because it expresses the faith so well, because -- as music specifically composed for the Mass -- it conveys something special, and above all, because it is beautiful.

The Sacred Liturgy must be beautiful.
Beautiful, but not pretty or fancy. Not that Fr. Fox is saying otherwise. But I'm finding in a lot of wealthier Catholic parishes the mentality that the duty to liturgical Tradition is fulfilled by having virtuosic polyphony sung by professional choirs and well-polished organ blaring away. This always comes off to me as Anglican-lite. I've noticed this off-putting aesthetic both at the Roman Catholic St. Matthew's Cathedral and the Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception here in DC. I think it's the cross-town osmotic effect of the ECUSA-run National Cathedral, as well as the general federal, Beltway snootiness that infects the Archdiocese of Washington. True Christian Beauty, as any Balthasarian will tell you, cannot be self-referential or performance-oriented at all; it must rather be screaming the Truth and the Good with every inch and beat of its existence. So while the pretty fancy liturgies at many Catholic parishes are a welcome change from the folk liturgical mockeries, we've still many miles to go before we can sleep in these liturgy wars.
This doesn't mean only chant and polyphony; but it does mean these must not be excluded. On the contary, the Church, at the highest level, teaches they merit "pride of place" (particularly chant).
The modernist spirit of the post-V2 era was so wrong to think that liturgical innovation or development could occur by the logic of revolution. Revolution abandons the past, and deems it unworthy of even a moment's pause much less a drink. Development, in the Catholic sense, however requires immersion in and internalization of the Tradition before anything new under the sun can emerge. That means we sip, slurp, swirl, swish, and swig the Tradition down deep into our bellies before we try the new stuff. Why? Because instead of the law of revolution, our Lord gave us the law of recapitulation. Yeah, it's not just a soteriological concept.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Knowing God

From Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog:
In a conversation with the Abbot, she asks some questions about a passage in Maximus the Confessor. The Abbot reacts with alarm, “You’ve been reading the Fathers?” She replies in the affirmative. He is concerned that she may have done herself damage. “You should never read more hours in a day than you pray,” was his admonition.
I have known brilliant men and women, with degrees from very prestigious institutions, indeed with degrees in various forms of religious disciplines, whose knowledge of God was less than my average catechumen, but whose very “knowledge” reduced the possibility of discovering their ignorance and coming to a knowledge of the truth. Again, knowledge that is not accompanied by ascesis is dangerous - no matter whether the knowledge is of an academic character or of a mystical character. We cannot know God and at the same time not be like Him to some degree. Such conformity to His image is itself a result of such knowledge. It is for this reason that the Scriptures tell us that “by their fruit you shall know them.” If someone
claims knowledge of God, but his life is not in conformity with the commandments of Christ, then we know that what we are hearing is largely delusional in character.
Much of modern Pentecostal and Charismatic teaching has offered false information on religious experience to an audience of Americans who wants everything. Too often we want the interior life of Mother Teresa and all of the shoes of Imelda Marcos. It just doesn’t work like that.

The story is told in the Lives of the Desert Fathers that one of the Fathers was in prayer when the devil sought to trick him. A demon appeared in the cell of the monk (who was in prayer) and said, “I am the angel Gabriel sent from God.” Without looking up the monk replied, “You must be in the wrong cell. I am not worthy for an angel to visit me.” The demon disappeared, defeated by the humility of the monk.