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Moving on up

If you are still following me here, any new writing I do will be at Lamentably Sane. Five bonus internets to anyone who understands the name; there's even a hint on the front page. I'll still keep this lj account up for when I feel like trolling in the various communities. Check it out, comment, follow, subscribe, troll, and carry on.

Every argument is a theological argument

On the one hand, I suppose it's inevitable that we should have to frame this in terms of "religious liberty" and conscience and so on. On the other, such arguments concede too much.

No news is good news

Ah, the life of a white person in the 21st century: a never ending struggle to prove that you are smarter and more progressive than other white people.

Normally every single word the National Catholic Reporter prints is heresy, even the "ands" and "the's," but Mr. Michael Sean Winters has been on fire in his denunciation of the HHS mandate by the Obama administration. It's well and good for the bishops to speak of it in terms of religious freedom. At the same time though, this is a great teaching moment I hope they do not miss. George Weigel refers to it as the "Truce of 1968:" an unspoken agreement between the clergy and the faithful to never speak of the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception. To be sure it is still taught at the highest level, but how many Catholics have ever been explicitly told by their parish clergy that they can go to hell for it if they don't repent, confess, and do penance?

Volunteering in the parish has been fun. It mostly involves telling drunks that Father can't give them any money but to try their luck with the St. Vincent de Paul Society office next door. It involves young Filipino kids giving me notes scribbled in Tagalog by their grandmama to pass on to Father requesting a new car blessing. It involves Mexican parents asking that their kids be catechized in Spanish when the kids speak English like natives. It involves scandalizing the umpteen committees and music directors: they ask me what I think would be a good entrance hymn and I reply that there should not be entrance hymns, we should be chanting the antiphons, preferably in Latin.

Visited the Benedictines again earlier this month. It's always refreshing to speak with churchmen who both acknowledge and understand the crisis which has engulfed the Church. I tried to describe some of my experiences delicately, but Father Stephanos interrupted me with, "A lot of parishes are completely nutty. Trust me, I know." I'm not afraid to stand alone, but it's still nice to be among those who share common views and share a common goal. Imagine that.

Who is a Traditionalist?

One religious brother's answer. I can't answer better than he.

Whenever I go to one of the local bookstores, I can always count on seeing young people browsing the New Age section, the books on Wicca, astrology, tarot cards, and all the rest. It strikes me as odd when I consider that our age prides itself on its hardy secularism. I wish I could say that it was surprising in light of the immense riches of Catholic spiritual tradition which is so freely avaiable now in this age of the internets and almost universal literacy. But then again, how many of us really know that there is Catholic spiritual wisdom? I mean really know that it exists and seek it out? I can't blame them for that. It's hard enough to live a spiritual life even when we know better. These poor souls don't know that they don't know.

I'm 31. I'll have been a Catholic for seven years this March. If all I ever did was go to Sunday Mass at the local suburban parish, I'd be an even worse man than I am already. Before our Blessed Lord's grace led me to the Mass of All Time, I found attending the Sunday liturgy to be an exercise in teeth grinding obedience. They're mostly good people who are mostly trying their best because, God bless them, they have never known anything different. It always made me think, "The holy martyrs and saints gave up their lives for this?" It broke my heart and made me feel terrible because I knew I shouldn't feel this way about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But no matter how much I tried to grin and bear it, I couldn't help noticing that almost everything about what I was seeing was designed to downplay the significance of that sacrifice. If nothing else, the last year and a half has given me new insight into why people leave the Church: there's just not much being offered at the local parishes that can't be found elsewhere. The Evangelicals will always do what they do better than we can. Why try to imitate them?

But I've stuck with it. To whom else would I go? I suppose that if I'm ever ordained a priest myself, I'll be responsible for a great deal of anger and dismay among the faithful. They'll see me as taking away their guitars, tambourines, liturgical dancers, banners, and altar girls. They'll see me as cold, aloof, as not a people person because I don't plan on ever offering the Mass facing the congregation short of a direct order from higher up. But that's the way our Blessed Lord said it would be. He never promised us a crown in this world.

Inspiration comes from the darndest places

I've always dreamed of publishing a book some day. I doubt I have it in me to write serious fiction that has both a compelling story and a significant message. Naw, I want to write about a big dumb viking who smashes heads for great justice. Some books lift you up and, if you're artistically inclined, might give you the itch to write one yourself. Others *coughtwilightcough* make you think, "HO-LEE TO-LEE-DO, this is garbage. I could write something better than this, and this got published!" It worked for Fenimore Cooper.

When I see a priest hamming it up during Mass I think, "If this is what the priesthood is, then to hell with it." When I meet a good priest - and they're still out there - I think "This is what the priesthood could be and should be like everywhere." Over the Christmas season I visited my last remaining grandparent in Washington State. The parish I attended while I was there single handedly restored my belief that the Novus Ordo Mass is salvageable. To give just one example, they did not sing entrance hymns or communion hymns. They chanted the Entrance and Communion Antiphons in Latin. Now it's an article of faith among liturgists that the people don't understand tradtional Catholic chant and that they will furiously resent it if you try to teach them. Methinks they are engaging in a little projection. That parish I visited gloriously disproved their assumption. All of the Sunday Masses were done in chant. The Mass setting they used was almost identical for that of a Tridentine Missa Cantata. I could comfortably sing the Creed in Latin while everyone else did English.

My mother has commented that she feels spoiled by that parish. She's so uplifted by their good example, that the inevitable crash hurts all the more when she returns to the liturgical wasteland that is California. I know just how she feels.

Know your meme: FUS DO RAH

Skyrim is insanely fun. You can postpone the main quest indefinitely and wander the landscape to your heart's content. You can craft your character to be anything you want such as a Conan style sword-and-board fighter, a necromancer, an assassin, etc. You can join the fighter's guild, the wizard's guild, the thieves guild, the assassin's guild, and take a side in the civil war that's going on in the background. Bethesda Studios likes to leave in the bugs that benefit the player. Without even checking the internets I discovered a way to break the game within the first half hour of play. My character is a lizard man assassin who tucks and rolls his way through dungeons with twin daggers, painting the walls with the blood of bandits who don't even know he's there. The main plot is rated M for Manly: an evil dragon has appeared as a harbinger of the end times and he's resurrecting other dragons. You must slay the dragons, eat their souls, destroy the head dragon who is known as the devourer of worlds, and it all takes place in fantasy viking land.

I suppose I'll eventually play as one of the fantasy vikings since I'm descended from real vikings (though considering how much raping and pillaging they did, I'd bet a lot of white people have a viking in their family tree somewhere.) But there's just something strangely appealing about a freaking lizard man dropping down from the rafters to plant a knife in the bad guys back.
Marini's Conciliarist Manifesto

I was skimming a book on the liturgy today. The author made clear his view that the old Mass was a jumble of medieval and Counter-Reformation accretions, and that the Church was much better off for tossing them into the dustbin and returning to the pristine liturgy of the early Church. Even if we had perfect knowledge of what the liturgy of the second century was like - and we don't have perfect knowledge of it - it doesn't follow that it is either good or desirable to return to it. I'm not convinced it's even possible. Pope Pius XII condemned this sort of antiquarianism in Mediator Dei. We can no more return to the early Church, he said, than an oak tree can turn back into an acorn.

A committee of questionable orthodoxy thought that it, all by itself, could manufacture a liturgy superior to that which had existed in its essentials since the eighth century at the latest. This got me thinking: how often is a remake or a reboot superior to the original? I can think of a few examples but they strike me as being the exceptions that prove the rule. Some up and coming author could knock out a "retelling" of The Brothers Karamazov but I'd wager dollars to pesos it wouldn't surpass the original. Religious orders are another good example: those which are attracting the most novices are those which have remained the most faithful to their Rules or constitutions. Those which have updated or revised them into something unrecognizable are dying off.

That's not to say there is never a time for revising or updating, but if it must be done let's not start from the assumption that we're smarter than our ancestors because we know how to send text messages and they didn't.

You win some you lose some

I don't agree with everything here but otherwise that man is mostly right on. I'm grateful to my father for never buying in to the parenting strategies common among Baby Boomers; dad was born in 1939 so he missed that generation by a few years. He is not a very religious man but he always told me, "Life's not fair son. You should always work hard, play by the rules, and live within your means, but that doesn't mean you'll have a good or easy life. Truth is, in this world, sometimes the bad guys win. Don't ever be envious of what other people have. Take my word for it, people who look like they have it all are usually the most @#$&3ed up human beings you'll ever meet."

Met with the diocese's new vocations director last week. He seemed pleasantly surprised - astonished almost - that I still want to stick with it. I wish I could say it was out of love for our Blessed Lord as pure as the driven snow, but I can't. If someone were to ask me why I want to be a priest now I'd reply, "Because it will be a cold day in hell before I allow that cowardly backstabbing son of a bitch Father X to get the better of me that easily." It's not the right intention, I know, but I'll ask our Blessed Lord to grant me a right intention in the mean time. The VD even offered to push for my admission in the spring instead of next fall. A sign from God? Or a reflection of how other seminarians have been dropping like flies lately? Both I'm sure.

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December 2012



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