Monday, October 31, 2016

Thank God for The Glorious Counter Reformation

Image result for ignatius of loyola apotheosis
prays Holy Spirit will "help us rejoice in the gifts that have come to the church thru the Reformation"

Well, what are theses gifts?

  • A depleted protestant Bible
  • Ecclesial Communities, lacking Holy Orders and therefore the Holy Eucharist and the means to Grace. 
  • The elevation of an individual theologian over the whole Catholic Tradition. and a decided break with that Sacred Tradition.

We can add into the mix the massacre of peasants, anti Jewish pogroms, the rise in witch trials, the growth of superstition, the beginning of German nationalism.
The Reformation was welcomed by  European princes because it placed them over the Church and reduced the Church and the clergy to mere arms of the State.
We can add the destruction of Christian culture, not just the vandalism of religious houses and the iconoclastic destruction of Christian heritage.

Frankly, I see little that we should rejoice in, except for one thing, as an Oxford preacher once said, either at the Oratory or Blackfriars, "... except for one thing, by God's providence, the coming of the Glorious Counter Reformation".
It was the Glorious Counter Reformation that enabled the Catholic Church to withstand Protestant aggression through force of arms, that would have laid the West open to the expanding Ottoman empire.
It was Glorious Counter Reformation that enabled the Gospel to be preached to the Americas and to Asia and the Glorious Counter Reformation that gave Europe new a vibrant spiritual intellectual and artistic life.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Signor Tornielli's List

Image result for "i have a little list"
Have you read the terrible toady-piece by Andrea Tornielli of Vatican Insider? Signor Tornielli has a little list and anyone who raises a question about the direction the Church is going in is on the list. He ends his piece by going even further than the headline, 'Catholics who are anti-Francis but love Putin'.
“It is the mythical idealization of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is presented as a “good” leader in contrast to the “bad” leader, the Pope, because of his stance on homosexual people, Muslims and immigrants. Russian foundations that have strong ties with Putin co-operate with the anti-Francis opposition.["]
Before I say anything else Putin is a serious threat to world peace, he is gangster, he places himself above the law of which he is contemptuous. I am not a supporter of Putin. My concern is Putinesque leadership style is spreading, it is DICTORSHIP, with all of its contempt for law, for reason, for anyone who disagrees with it. In fact Tournielli's article seems reminiscent of something from the dark days of Soviet Russia, when enemies of the state were denounced in Pravda just before a round of arrests and executions. Journalists in a dictatorship
Pope Francis speaks with Andrea Tornielli last year (CNS)
This is worrying because of Vatican Insiders semi-official status, and the Holy Father's obvious friendship with Tournielli. There is a dictatorial contempt for people who ask for clarification or simply disagree with the position the Holy Father takes.

I once asked a senior Vatican official why Benedict kept Cardinal Kasper and others, who historically had opposed him, in place, his reply was 'first of all to keep him sane and secondly to remind him there are other theological views than his own'. There is a great problem for any priest, but still more so for a bishop even more for a Pope to surround himself with a court of sycophants, and if they are given any power they quickly become bullies too, we saw that during the synod, we see that with Vatican clergy journalists, who even threaten those who are critical or even apprehensive with action in the civil courts.

Francis tends to do things by innuendo, he often can't remember documents he has only recently signed, perhaps his recent plea to journalists, was addressed first and foremost to his own court journalists

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chocolate Luther

The statue of Martin Luther that graced the meeting of the Pope and Lutherans in Rome was made of chocolate - what does it mean?

It could mean that Martin is meant to melt in the warmth of the Pope's presence in Rome, like those harsh, hate-filled words he used about the Catholic Church, the Mass, Apostolic Succession, the Papacy, Orthodox Catholics, not to mention the Jews, the peasants and other protestant reformers.

The great advantage of a chocolate Luther is that despite harsh attitudes of some Catholics to Lutherans about receiving Holy Communion; the expectation that they should actually be in communion with the Catholic Church, and that they should reject sin and having been to Confession desire to live the life of Grace in communion with the Church Jesus founded, a chocolate Luther can be shared by anyone. In chocolate Luther, we can all be sharers. As lutheran-lady-bishops wander to and fro, holding in their fingers a portion of the sweetness of Luther's broken body, to the words, 'A bit of Martin Luther', everyone can reply 'Amen'. To those who might find even this difficult, the words could be changed to , 'Do you want a bit of chocolate, dear', who would refuse?

Theologians might argue whether all chocolate takes on a degree of Lutheranisn and everyone is waiting for Cardinal Kasper's latest book, following on from 'Mercy', the world is hungry for 'Chocolate'. and Catholics of course wait for the words of the Great Chocolatier, or should that be the Great Confectioner, for a definitive statement.

Will bits of Luther be handed out at the next Consistory? Will some reactionary Cardinals develop a chocolate allergy?

The ecumenical world awaits a marzipan Calvin, a licorice Cranmer and a toffee Knox, all of which are due to appear in Rome over the next few years.

For now, choco-luther anyone?

Friday, October 14, 2016

A New General

Image result for Arturo Sosa AbascalThe new Jesuit General, Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal, from Venezuela.

At one time the whole Ultramontane project depended on the Jesuits, that fourth vow that senior Jesuits take of obedience to the person of the Pope, has meant that from their origin there has been a certain special relationship of Pope and Jesuits.

Ignatius of Loyola had said, 'Putting aside all private judgment we should always be ready to accept this principle: I will believe that the white I see is black, if the hierarchical Church so defines it.'

For many the Jesuits are a law unto themselves, a secretive, plotting group, known for their duplicity. From their beginning they grew wealthy and powerful, owning vast estates, the size of countries in South America, they were major exporters of and traders in both Asia and the Americas. Their education establishments were designed to form the influential and the wealthy and to extend their power base.

In the 20th century there were many heroic Jesuits suffering in the prisons and gulags of the Communists, and many struggled on the side of their people against the right-wing dictatorships of South America. Yet there were many accusations that not an insignificant number of the Jesuits themselves had taken on a theology that was more inspired by Marx and Engels than Jesus Christ. In Argentina, as in many places throughout the world the Society was deeply divided. In the case of Argentina and its Provincial, Fr Jorge Bergoglio, the division seems to have focused on eirenical group around the the Provincial, engaging in real-politik and radical cultural-warriors, whether they were wielding the Rosary or the red flag. The divisions have lasted and continued when the Provincial became archbishop of Buenos Aires within the diocese, and now within the Church as a whole.

Their fourth vow is perhaps the Society's greatest problem, really because the Pope's mind and will is interpreted by the General, or by the Provincial. Rarely have Popes revealed their minds to the Society as a whole, Benedict XVI did of course by telling them to return to promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Holy Eucharist. When the General can say he has the Pope's mind on a matter he does indeed become a second Pope, and if the Pope is weak or politically oppressed, the Black Pope can easily become the real power within the Church, especially if the Society of Jesus has control of many the Church's formational, educational and financial institutions.

Bergoglio was banned from even entering a Jesuit house by Arrupe because of his disruptive influence how interesting it will be to see how gets on with the new General.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cardinal-elect Simoni

Simoni. Albania.A friend of mine rang up last night excited that a priest he knew was being made a Cardinal.
My friend had worked in Albania for almost a decade and the Cardinal-elect is Fr Ernest Simoni, who suffered imprisonment for 28 years.
He was betrayed by his sacristan, on his release one of his first visits was to him, he embraced him and asked him to come back and continue his service.
In prison, at least in later years, his guards and local Communist officials would invite him to come and bless, or sometimes exorcise their homes.
Now, he spends much of his time giving spiritual direction and hearing confessions.
See Zenit's comments

Gifts: another thought

Catholics, Anglicans walk the talk as they seek unityJust one last thought following on from the last post.
What would the reaction be in Orthodox circles if the Pope gave either the Patriarch of Constantinople or Moscow a pastoral staff or another episcopal ornament?
It would of course never happen, or if it did it would probably cause a riot amongst the Orthodox, there would be cries of Papal aggression, monks on Athos would riot, names and Sees be struck from dyptrichs, East / West ecumenism will grind to a halt.
But Anglicans are a breed apart.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Rings and things

Image result for athenagoras paul feet"The image is the message", that apparently is what the Holy Father said about the meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow, the first since the the sixteenth century (?) but not as the Vatican Press Office inaccurately reported since the 11th Century.

Blessed Paul VI might have said the same about image being message after his falling at the feet of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras and kissing them at their meeting in Jerusalem. He was overcome by the encounter which was indeed the first since the Great Schism. Apparently the dear old thing would often burst into tears or make some extraordinary gesture. It was gesture politics, he was a man of gestures, to the point where many, not just his enemies, questioned his mental balance. Alas, poor Hamlet!

For Anglicans, there was yet another famous gesture. When he met Archbishop Ramsey for the first time, he gave him the ring he had used as Abp of Milan. Until recently my Anglican friends had told me it was 'Papal ring', that is the Fisherman's Ring, but no, it was a spare ring he happened to have, for which he had no use. Until his death Ramsey had worn it as his personal ring, it was on his finger as he died and was removed from his corpse, post mortem.

Image result for ramsey ringQuite what the Pope's intention was is anyone's guess. It is stretching things alot to assume it was a repudiation of Apostolicae Curae, or even a recognition of Ramsay personally as a brother bishop. Ramsay had gone to the usual extraordinary Anglican Catholic party's lengths after the publication of the 1928 prayer Book to ensure the 'Dutch tutch' and stories have gone the rounds for years, that after his Anglican episcopal ordination he was ordained by a rogue Orthodox too. Validity was important to him, as was full sacramental and doctrinal unity. For Anglican Bishops of Ramsay's generation, overcoming the problems identified by Apostolicae Curae, which are essentially about the roots of Anglicanism by giving it Dutch roots was seen as a solution. Of course that was before the ordination of women,

Mother Augustina Weihermüller, O.S.B., about 1959
 with pontifical gloves, ring, pectoral cross and crozier!
It is of note that successive Archbishop's of Canterbury have worn this Milanese ring in their subsequent encounters with Popes. For Catholics it is simply a ring, a sign of honour, like rings worn by the Canons of Northampton and other Cathedral Chapters, or even Abbesses, in itself it has nothing whatsoever to do with episcopacy.

Gestures are simply that, gestures. Anglican friends have been deeply moved by the current Pope giving the current a wooden replica of the ivory crozier reputed to have belonged to Pope St Gregory. What does it mean, beyond a photo opportunity? Well, little. It is an act of friendship, a recognition not of episcopal order but of jurisdiction. Nuns too can carry such an ornament, as laymen, 'commendatory abbots', often did. Certainly it is recognition that the carrier has 'oversight' or jurisdiction over a community, whether it is nuns or of Christian people but it says nothing about the validity of orders.

If anything, the giving and receiving of a ring or crozier says more about the recipient and their relationship to the giver than it does about the one who does the giving, receiving a crozier from another involves an acknowledgement that they are in some sense your superior, this is what the Investiture crisis was all about.

By his reception of a crozier from the Pope, although it was still in its box, did Abp Welby concede that that his authority to exercise jurisdiction (not orders) comes from the Bishop of Rome. Was it repudiation of, "the Bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction in this realm of England". For those of Byzantine sensitivity about sign and symbol what was the significance of the crozier still being broken in its parts in its plastic covered box when carried out the church by the bishop. In this time of the most Ultramontane papacy ever, 'Dottore' Welby, as he was referred throughout the joint service should beware of Argentinians bearing gifts.

Added a little later
Image result for welby pope blessingSomeone, an Anglican. asked me about the Pope and il Dottore Welby given a shared blessing, it is unfortunate but much to their credit that Anglicans seem to have a higher theology of such things than most Catholics. For most of us a blessing has become simply a prayer.

In the past the Pope Francis seems to have been happy to be prayed over by Pentecostals and to have received their blessing whilst kneeling, and even to have hands laid upon him.
In parishes around the world lay people (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, especially) seem to bless other lay people with impunity.
The post - concilliar Rituale seems to have stripped any sense of 'change' to a blessed object, it merely thanks God for the object or person.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Feast of the Rosary, a celebration of Intolerance and Partisanship

As an aging hippy and son of the Council, I am uncomfortable with today's Feast.

Yes, it says in the Missal its the Memoria of Holy Rosary in the Old Rite it is a Feast but it is actually the commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto and the triumph of the Catholic forces under Don John of Austria. Pius V got the Church to pray and the Catholic navies won the day. Christians destroyed the dominance of Muslim forces in the Mediteranian and the BVM was venerated as Our of Victories, and all over Catholic Europe churches and chapels were erected in her honour, that is in honour of the destruction of the enemies of Catholic Christendom!

For the Catholics of the 16th Century, it was simple, Christianity was threatened, we had recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary and God acted. This feast is not about shades of grey but black and white: it is the Catholic faith good, Islam bad.

This feast challenges us to see God as Lord of History and on the side of the Church, to see the Mother of God as intolerant and partisan, this is not 21st Christianity!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Silent Church versus Chattering Church

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Why do attacks on the Church always begin attacks on contemplatives? It was the Carthusians the French masonic government first attacked in 1903, just as bloody Henry had begun his English Reformation with martyrdom of St John Houghton and his Carthusian companions.

The silent Church is always a greater threat than the chattering Church. The chattering Church is easily manipulated, it depends on its own resources, its own wisdom and insights, it is receptive to novelties and eager for change. The silent Church is close to Christ, it contemplates the essential mysteries of the faith, it is in the World but not of it, it depends not on its own resources but the Power of God. It is united to an unbroken Tradition.

The silent Church is a Church of prayer, it is not inactive but neither is it yet another NGO, its activity comes from its contemplation, its communion with God. The chattering Church is the foundation-less house built on sand, that has no permanence and come wind and rain will be swept away.

Pope Benedict in many ways has repeatedly acted a little like an Old Testament prophet, choosing prophetic signs often over words. I cannot help but think his retiring to a life of contemplation is a prophetic sign to a Church far more interested in chatter than silence.

Cardial Robert Sarah has an interview in Le Nef, translated here,  it preludes his new book The Strength of Silence - Against the dictatorship of Noise, at the moment it is only available in French. In the interview he speaks of silence in the Liturgy, returning to the subject of ad orientem worship, one can grasp a little of why he understands it as being so important.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...