Both Mass of the Roman Rite are Tradition

Photo by Lawrence OP.
As is usual in articles about the liturgy, there was division in the comments on my articles about devotion to the old Mass and about participation in the Mass from people who prefer the Extraordinary Form and from those who prefer the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This is my attempt to find a balance between the two sides, and be open to the whole of the Church’s traditions.

The novel A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. begins 600 years after a nuclear war that destroyed the bulk of civilization. The story opens upon a monastery were books are being hidden and preserved. They are being hidden because after the war, there had been a movement known as the Simplification, where masses of people went around destroying books and killing anyone who tried to keep books hidden. They were afraid of knowledge, because it had led to the awful war. A man, Leibowitz, started a secluded monastery to preserve surviving books and history. The monks spend their days copying and memorizing the books and trying to relearn much of what was lost. Many of the books are so piecemeal, that they cannot understand them. Catholicism has developed over 600 years in a world hostile to knowledge and shaking from the effects of mass destruction. The traditions that have been passed down must be interpreted for the people of their present time. Some of the old traditions they cannot make sense of and some of them are very exaggerated. The sense of liturgical time and the liturgical ceremonies are much more intense than they were before the war, but they suit the people of the time.

Photo by Lawerence OP.Photo by Lawerence OP.

I sometimes feel, as a generation that is rediscovering old traditions, that we are doing the same thing. There are things in the Church that were simplified, and when we discover the more ancient traditions and try to take part in them, it is different than it was 50 years ago. There was something lost in all those changes that we cannot get back, but that does not mean that we cannot carry the traditions on. We are relearning them, and applying them to our lives now.

Thanks to Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificam in 2007, which allowed wider use of the old Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, following up on Pope Blessed John Paul II’s allowance in 1988, many more are discovering the older traditions that are such an essential part of the liturgy. Many have hoped that the old traditions would have an effect on the new traditions, and that the new Mass, the Ordinary Form, would be reworked to be less unlike the EF. Lately, on the New Liturgical Movement, there has been a lot of discussion on whether this “Reform of the Reform” is dead; those who hold this position believe that organic growth, the way that the liturgy developed from the time of Christ to Vatican II, of the new Mass is not possible. I would propose that the Church will not remain stationary when it comes to the liturgy, but that the changes will continue to happen slowly. They will take time, much more time than many would like. (There is an informative and interesting five part discussion of the state of the Reform of the Reform by Joseph Shaw on his blog.)
We were given the new Mass, put together by some Council Fathers, a little over 40 years ago. It was a break from the organic development that the old liturgy had come from, but the new Mass is a part of our tradition now. It is all that two generations have known, and only recently, have these generations been exposed to the older traditions of the Mass. Some have embraced it and seek out the Extraordinary Form, but most younger people go to the Ordinary Form. Those born since 1970 have been formed by and in the new liturgy; it is apart of their formation as Catholics. Even those born in the late 50s and 60s have very little memory of the old Mass. The New Mass is now rooted in the body of the Church.

The changing of the liturgy is not going to happen now; it is not going to happen next year. Those who prefer the Ordinary Form, need not fear that it is going to be taken forcefully from them, and those who prefer the Extraordinary Form are being given a chance to attend it in more and more places. They are both available to the faithful.

Is having the two forms in one rite necessarily a problem? Is it a situation that is harmful to the Church? I say not. While maybe it is unprecedented to have two Masses in one rite, a diversity of liturgies is nothing new to the Church. And as Pope Benedict XVI said in Summorum Pontificum, the old Mass was never juridically abrogated. The tension of the two forms of the Roman Rite was put there from the earliest implementation of the New Mass. In the earliest centuries of the Church, there was a different rite in most cities. The Ambrosian Rite of Milan still exists to this day, not to mention all of the Eastern Rites and their unique liturgies. In the Middle Ages up to Vatican II, many Roman Rite religious orders had their own liturgical rites, for example, the Dominicans and the Franciscans. Now we have the Anglican ordinariates in the Roman Church, which have their own liturgy. We are living in a time of liturgical tension, but we must carry on and see what traditions stay with the Church over the next several centuries. Maybe in 500 years, every city will have its own rite again, and the liturgies will be variations of the two Roman Rite Masses. It will still be the Sacrifice of the Mass united with Christ at Calvary.

My husband and I often look at all the Church traditions, the various spiritualities, and the many liturgies and want to take part in them all. We make a point to attend Eastern Rite liturgies occasionally, and read a variety of spiritual books. Why not let oneself be influenced by all of them? I think of the story told by St. Thérèse of Lisieux in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, where her sister Léonie offers a basket of playthings to Thérèse and Céline:

“One day Léonie, thinking no doubt that she was too big to play with dolls, brought us a basket filled with clothes, pretty pieces of stuff, and other trifles on which her doll was laid: “Here, dears,” she said, “choose whatever you like.” Céline looked at it, and took a woollen ball. After thinking about it for a minute, I put out my hand saying: “I choose everything,” and I carried off both doll and basket without more ado.”

St. Thérèse applies this to her call to give herself entirely over to God; it can also be applied to the Church and her liturgy. The Church can have all of the traditions, and live with them. They may, in time, merge together into one liturgy, or maybe having two forms of a rite will not be seen as such a problem in the future. I cannot predict what will happen. Only God knows.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI seemed to have a similar thought in Summorum Pontificum when he said:

I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.  In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13).  Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject.  Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal.  In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. “

As Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 called his bishops to open their hearts to allowing for the use of the old Mass, Catholics now can see this as a call to open their hearts to both Masses. Whether you prefer one or the other, they are both apart of the Church’s tradition. The universal nature of the Church allows for this. While there are many kinks to be worked out, for example, the differences of liturgical calendars of both forms, it is okay to have the tension. It does not mean that the Church is divided; it just means that she has opened herself up “for everything that the faith itself allows.”

Originally published at Truth and Charity…

Martyrs and the Persecution of Priests

An altarpiece at the Shrine church.

If you get off I-90 in the middle of upstate New York near Auriesville and travel a few miles along a hilly rural road, you may find yourself at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Martyrs. The Shrine is the location of a church dedicated to the North American Martyrs, and it is in this location that the Jesuit priest St. Issac Jogues and his companions the Jesuit brother St. René Goupil and a layman St. John Lalande were martyred. Fifteen years after their death, St. Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656.

Looking out from the bluff, you can see the Mohawk River winding its way through the rolling countryside, and try to imagine the days when it was untamed wilderness and the Jesuit missionaries struggled to bring the Gospel to the people of this “new” land. The lived with great hostility and suffered many physical deprivations, but they did it out of love of God and the truth.

The Shrine also honors the North American martyrs of Canada, one of them being the priest St. Jean de Brebeuf , a missionary Jesuit to the Hurons who was captured by a group of Iroquis, brutally tortured, and martyred. During his time as a missionary he learned the Huron language and wrote this beautiful Huron Carol (translated into English by Jesse Edgar Middleton):

‘Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunter heard the hymn:
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.”

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp’d His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high…
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.”

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory
On the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.”

O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.”

We need the beauty of the Christmas story today as much as ever. The little babe, God become Man, is greater for humanity than anyone could ever have imagined. And that is the message that the missionary priests brought to the first American people. During our modern time, where there are priests are failing to live up to their priestly vocations and so many accused of horrendous things, I think about the Jesuit missionary priests who gave their lives to convert people so hostile to Christianity. While they succeeded in teaching some about the truth, there were others who hated them for it.

The Church has never been a stranger to hatred, and will not be until the second coming. I would like to believe that all our priests are living pure, holy lives, and God knows the truth. As faithful Catholics, we must pray for our priests and for the Church to become more holy. We can turn to the North American martyrs and ask their intercession for all priests that they live out fully their vocation to priesthood and holiness.

And then there is the Infant Jesus, who was adored and wondered at on the first Christmas and who we still adore today. Christmas is a reminder of the simple beauty of an infant who is God, who grew up to establish the Church, who ordained the first priests. There is something about the Child Jesus, the Holy Infant, that can help one remember the first love they had of God, that can rejuvenate a tired priest, who faces the daily hostility of the secular media and the suspicions of people who do not understand the choice to be celibate.

As the Church, we need to stand strong behind our priests and bishops, pray for them, and especially that the truth be made clear. And for those who have sadly done the things of which they are accused, we need to pray for their conversion and repentance. No matter how hostile the world becomes towards the Church and her clergy, it will not change that  God came to Earth and that “Jesus your King is born” and that we will have joy in Him.

We must remember those who were persecuted for their faith, have their heavenly reward, and that we are called to it as well. On this Feast of Stephen the first Christian martyr, we pray,

St. Stephen, pray for us.

Originally the at Truth and Charity

The North American Martyrs.

Baltimore Catechism: Where Have You Been All My Life?!?!?!

Someone decided back in the 70s or something to change the way catechesis was done. That meant that the Baltimore Catechism was no longer used. Though my whole life I have heard it references in homilies, and wished that I, too, had memorized it as a child. When M and I were thinking about what sort of religion instruction to give G this year, we turned to the Baltimore Catechism. The first catechism in the series is the The New Saint Joseph: First Communion Catechism. So, we will spend three years on it, but why not start with something so solid that explains the truths of our faith so well?

To demonstrate the books awesomeness, I share with you a series of pictures from Lesson 7: Jesus Opens Heaven For Us:

 See God the Father with the closed Gates of Heaven.

 Then when Jesus died fire shot out of His and Mary’s hearts and burned up the sin which was barring us from Heaven. This is the best illustration EVER!

 Now the gates of Heaven are open! Don’t forget about Mary!

Oh yeah, and the Church still is, and always will be, the way Jesus established for us to go to Heaven.

Truth and Charity Post: The Essential Everydayness of Being Christian

There is an everydayness to being a Christian. Most Christians in the history of the Church have been the normal, everyday people. Most of us have not been, nor are going to be canonized Saints, but that does not mean that we are not significant for the Body of Christ. The Church and the Saints exist for the everyday man. Christ in His ministry always cared for the everyday person; He healed, fed, talked to, and preached to the masses that followed Him. We are whom He loves and died for, and because of Him we can be one…Read the rest here…

Feeling sad about the way the world is changing…

I keep on asking M if things are really that much worse than they were when we were kids (just a short 10 years ago really), and we look at the state of things and agree, yes they are getting worse.

I read this article the other day “A Boy’s Life with Unisex Scouts” by Anthony Esolen, and several things about it struck me. He talked about the world a boy should grow up in, as he learns about man-hood, and he said that we do not live in a “healthy” world anymore where we can trust other adults to teach our kids the right things or where perfectly normal activities are no longer “allowed.”

It makes me sad to think about my children growing up in a world where women to go topless in public and disrespect a bishop. I think what these women did was evil, but I know there are many that would commend them. And then there is the anti-bullying program at the school in New York.  The persecution of the Church is happening now, and it is probably only going to get worse. Those of us who stand for the Truth are going to be outcasts and there are those who are going to seek to limit our freedom to share and live the Truth.

Esolen also spoke beautifully on the “time-transcending, child-making thing”, which is of course in reference to what man and woman do to become mother and father. The contraceptive mentality is so polluting on our society, and I keep on looking for ways that children are welcome and loved, but it seems that the society does not really care for them at all; they just want to train them to think like liberals. The contraceptive mentality has even polluted the Church, for example when people complain about children misbehaving in Mass. Mass is not for my own private prayer or you private prayer it is for the all Catholics to participate in the Sacrifice of the Cross being made present on the altar in your church. Please welcome me and my children in Mass and at the grocery store and wherever we are. I am doing my best to raise virtuous, holy, disciplined children, but kids are in a state of being formed and not always perfect. And this is why I am sad about the world, because it is becoming a place where it will be harder to form my children in accordance with the Truth.

Thanks for listening, and for the record, while I am saddened, I do have hope. I have hope when I read my children the stories of the young martyrs, and see their faith. I have hope when my five month old gets to spend her first warm Spring afternoon giggling in the sunshine. I have hope when my two year old asks to kiss her statue of Our Lady. I have hope when my four year old listens to the priest’s homily. I have hope when my husband leads our family in prayer. I have hope because I know that no mater what happens we will always have the Church.

The Simplicity of Pope Francis

Pope Francis in his simple ways reminds me a lot of my grandparents generation, those born during the thirties. I think we have all heard about a friend buying him new shoes as he headed out for the conclave. And his refusal to take on traditional parts of the papal dress, such as the mozzetta, and the fact that he would rather walk places than take a car a couple of blocks. These things remind me of how my grandfather will eat all of an apple, I mean all of it, until there is nothing but the stem remaining, and how he has simple, plain but healthy meals everyday of his life. And his shoes; I am not sure if I have ever seen him wear a new looking shoe in my life. He must buy new ones at some point. In this simplicity, there is a desire to not be wasteful with one’s possessions and to use each possession until it is no longer usable.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if Pope Francis let the papal fleet become a group of well maintained old cars? The simple lifestyle is not just using things until they are no longer useful, but it is also about being a good steward of what one does have. This simplicity is inspiring. Another aspect of his self-imposed simplicity is the fact that Jesuits take a vow of poverty; being pope does not make him no longer a Jesuit or exempt from his vows. Though I do not really know the tradition of how Jesuits lave lived their vow of poverty. And now the pope has decided to not live in the papal apartments. His simplicity in his personal life is inspiring (though I wish he would take his simple personal life and contrast it to worshiping God in beautiful liturgies full of splendor). I think we have a lot to learn from our new pope.
In the first-world, we do live in a wealth that was unimaginable to people even 100 years ago. We have machines for washing just about everything we own, indoor plumbing, electricity, the internet, and our material needs are always met. And when you look at the pictures of the pope’s suite in the Vatican “hotel,” his furniture is still super nice. St. Francis de Sales in Introduction to the Devout Life (I can’t stop referencing him, because he is so good!) talks about poverty of spirit in he midst of wealth. He says:
“ ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.’ (Matthew 5:3)…[Y]our heart be open only to heaven and impenetrable to riches and earthly things; if you possess them preserve your heart from loving them; let it rise above them, and be poor in the midst of wealth, and the master of its riches. Beware of losing the spirit of holiness in the good things of the world, but let your hearts always be the superior, not in them but above them.”
This is exactly is what Pope Francis is aspiring to. He realizes the dangers of being attached to the worldly goods that are so accessible to him and is opening his heart to the riches of Heaven. He has shown us that he is so open to the riches of Heaven in God’s mercy, but also in God in other people. I think he is trying to teach us that what matters more than anything is loving God and loving others. Our worldly possessions should not get in the way of loving others and a way of being detached from them is by having things be simple.
He said in his homily on Palm Sunday, “Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but it comes from having encountered a Person, Jesus, who is among us.” I think Pope Francis is trying to show the Church and the whole world that we can have joy by living simply and loving others. I hope that he continues to embody and hold strong to his simplicity as his papacy continues; and is he persists he will have more of an impact on the world than he has in these first few weeks.

Habemus Papam: A Week Later

G and the white smoke.

Can you believe it has been a week since that emotional Wednesday that we got a new pope? I think it is finally starting to sink in. I might be able to say something about it now. I decided to stream EWTN that morning to see if maybe we could catch the smoke. I am normally getting the kids down for nap around 1pm ct, so the smoke was really pushing it. The baby was hungry, so everything else got put on hold and I sat and nursed her while watching the chimney. It was then that the smoke came pouring out. I starting tearing up, almost full our crying, and told the kids to watch the smoke. G came over and was happy to watch asking if we had a new pope. L had decided that this was a boring thing to watch and was on her pre-nap prowl around the house. The photo above I took with the iPad while nursing the baby. Yeah, I have skills, though I am pretty sure the baby was not happy about the position I put her in to get this shot. While we waited a few minutes for the new pope to come out I realized that L would not really care and that it was going to be awhile. I had G stand guard at the computer and put L in her room for her nap. Then when L continued to come out of her room, I decided to get G to her quiet time. (It sounds simple, but really imagine me running around herding the kids to their nap/quiettime rooms and glancing every two seconds at the screen to see what is going on.) Then the baby decided she was tired. I decided to bring the computer into the room and prop it on the bed with the sound off. L had finally decided to go to sleep, and G was content downstairs. I sat in the quiet of my room, nursing my baby, when the cardinal came out and announced who our new pope was. Well, I did not hear it, but I saw it… Once the baby was asleep I got left the room and called M and tried to figure out what this new pope would be about.

We have been trying to process Pope Francis for a week. Like many tradionally minded Catholics we are a little nervous about what he might do in regards to the allowance of the Extraordinary Form, but it is out of our control really. He seems to be a good, humble man, who loves his people the Church. I would love for him to kiss my baby (as I saw in a picture on Facebook today), and I am interested to see what he will do as pope. I also will pray for him that he will be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and lead us well.

I am still reading Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset, and St. Catherine had a lot of influence on the papacy in her day (she influenced just about everyone she met). If you do not know her story, she is the one who convinced Pope Gregory XI to bring the papacy back to Rome from Avignon, and supported Pope Urban VI through the chaos of multiple popes when the French cardinals come not handle having an Italian pope. For some reason I had thought that the papacy had lost its political influence that it had in the Middle Ages, but this conclave has made me realize that the pope’s position is as political as it ever was. The political leadership and influence should not take away from the spiritual leadership, but ideally it shows us how to live in the world and not of it. We in the Church are all sinners, and there has never been a perfect pope. Yet, this is what Christ intended for His Church, and we can trust that the papacy is divinely guided in the statements made ex cathedra, We can hope that the popes other decisions are in line with God’s will as well, and for this we pray.

Waiting Week

Four years ago today I was 9+ months pregnant with G. M was on Spring Break his first year in graduate school for his PhD. G was due on March 7 and that was the first day of his break. The idea was for the baby to come at the beginning of the week and then him to have a whole week off for us to adjust to the new life of being parents. That did not happen. Four years ago today my sister went into labor and had her second child and daughter who is also my Goddaughter. We were due the same day. G decided to wait until her father’s birthday to kick me into labor. I made his birthday dinner with some friends over. The contractions got stronger and stronger and closer together as we ate dinner, had cake, and chatted. Our friends suggested playing a board game as we often did after our dinner parties. “Actually,” I said, “I am pretty sure I am in labor.” They got really excited and said they would go home. They could not wait to hear our news. M and I started practicing our Bradley relaxation techniques, called the doctor, called family and finally decided to go to the hospital around midnight. G was born 5 hours later on the Ides of March. Now she is about to be four, and is a sweet, pretty, intelligent, and pious little girl who either wants to be a princess, nun, or marry her three year old friend who she has playdates with…

Photo by bk1bennett.

This year we are waiting for the white smoke. Today it was black. I should the girls the closing of the Sistine Chapel on the live broadcast by EWTN, and am now finally an EWTN watcher. (I love when TV that is worth watching is available online since we do not have a TV.) The girls seem unable to distinguish between baseball Cardinals and Church cardinals, since after seeing the doors close, L requested to see Fredbird. At any rate we have been telling them about praying for the conclave and for the new pope. Maybe they will be able to see some live smoke streaming. This is the first time in their lives I will let them watch live television. Pope TV is probably the best that TV can be.

Here we are waiting. Maybe it will be the Ides, and that is not a bad thing for the next pope unless he picks the name Caesar I which would be just wrong… But I know of a sweet little girl born on the Ides and she is just fine.

Thank You, Pope Benedict XVI!

Here is a photo of M, me, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in November 2005.

I feel somewhat obliged to comment on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI today. I read his final general audience yesterday and this part of it stood out to me:

“I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of his truth and his love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline.”

It is a wonderful description of what it is like to be Catholic. Now having lived in four cities, I know that there are good, faithful Catholics in all parts of the country and world. When I meet a new person who I know is Catholic, there is an instant common bond and that is the community of brothers and sisters Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke of yesterday.

And I do feel about him and Blessed Pope John Paul II before him a sense of familial connection and affection. I am thankful to him for being our Pope the past eight years and for the three Apostolic blessings M and I were given on the occasion of our marriage (I will take all the blessings I can get!).

As for the future of the Church, all I can do myself is to trust in God. I know that Church politics do not always make choosing the right pope easy. I only hope that with the rest of the world against preserving traditions that the new pope will continue to protect them within the Church and continue to bring back the old ones that were lost during many of the post-Vatican II changes.

I will conclude with this:

Novena prayer for a conclave:

Heavenly Father, We, the people of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who will be in conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the hearts of our cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to you, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history and the beginning of the Third Millenium.
We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our cardinals to select the next Holy Father in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse. With Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son.

1 Our Father
1 Hail Mary
1 Glory Be

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!