My Catholic post for the month

6 07 2011

Short and sweet:

Some people say that the problem is that most people in the pews are cafeteria Catholics.

I say that the problem is that the Church is being a cafeteria secularist.

You want to make noises about the rights of immigrants, the religiously persecuted, etc.? Well, other people make noises about an entirely different set of rights.

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On the devil inside

13 06 2011

Above: A Ukrainian Eastern-rite sedevacantist excommunicates the past two Popes. Damn, I love Youtube.

“You’ve got the devil in you!”

Such a phrase has resonated in my life for almost twelve years now. Such resonance, however, has not always been front in center, or even audible, in my own mind. When I first heard it, I concluded the opposite. That woman must have had the devil in her: the devil in our pluralistic society who shouts down all differences, who affirms people “just as they are”, and who makes them feel comfortable about themselves, no matter how they are living. In other words, there was no way a twenty year old, full of piss and vinegar, was going to listen to some nosy woman riding on that bus in east Oakland in 1999.
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Catholic history FAIL

24 05 2011

I was browsing around for more information about this CD of Gallican chant of the clerics of Auxerre Cathedral in the 18th century. From information I read about years ago on another website, this was the chant composed by exiled Jansenist clergy who wanted to preserve the pure chant traditions of the French Church against the Jesuits and other future ultramontanist forces.

I cannot confirm the information, other than this review from Gramophone from some years back.

However, I did manage to find a free track from this record at this site, as a soundtrack for, of all things, the Litany of the Sacred Heart. Now, all you novice church historians should know that the Jansenists despised the cult to the Sacred Heart, the much loved weapon of their mortal enemies, the Jesuits. Not sure if this person posted this out of irony, but I at least got the joke.





Notes on personal religiosity

23 05 2011

There are four tendencies that have influence, which I rank in ascending order of importance:

1. The post-Vatican II church: To tell the truth, I have never taken the modern Catholic church seriously. I mean, “never”. Even as a child, I knew all of it was rubbish. That goes for the modern Mass, the new catechism, any pope after Pius XII, and so on. If I have any affiliation with it whatsoever, it is because of nostalgia and an affinity for things not the modern church. It sometimes still keeps trinkets of the atavistic past (that pull on my heart strings) and it can defend values that I don’t find so bad at this point (tolerance, pluralism, etc.) But as a thing in itself, I find it all completely ridiculous.
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This is not a liturgical post

19 05 2011

It is with some reluctance that I comment on Geoffrey Hull’s book, Banished Heart: Origins of Heteropraxis in the Catholic Church. I am not really interested in liturgy (as I have stated before), nor did I find the book all that compelling. Nevertheless, even my newly recovered philosophical orientation has not prevented me from pursuing a broad range of interests. A book that claims to analyze the degeneration of the religious ethos of the West can thus be of some interest to me.

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Salmo

2 05 2011

SALMO 16 (17)

Oye Señor mi causa justa
atiende mi clamor
Escucha mi oración que no son slogans
Júzgame tú
y no sus Tribunales
Si me interrogas de noche con un reflector
con tu detector de mentiras
no hallarás en mí ningún crimen…

Tú que eres el defensor de los deportados
y de los condenados en Consejos de Guerra
y de los presos en los campos de concentración
guárdame como a la niña de tus ojos
debajo de tus alas escóndeme
libértame del dictador
y de la mafia de los gangsters…

Levántate Señor
sal a su encuentro
derríbalos
Arrebátame de las garras de los Bancos
con tu mano Señor líbrame del hombre de negocios
y del socio de los clubs exclusivos
de esos que ya han vivido demasiado!
los que tienen repletas sus refrigeradoras
y sus mesas llenas de sobras
y dan el caviar a los perros
Nosotros no tenemos entrada a su Club
pero tú nos saciarás
cuando pase la noche

-Ernesto Cardenal





Leaving

20 04 2011

Fr. Thomas Reese has an interesting article in one of my favorite Catholic newspapers, the National Catholic Reporter, concerning the hidden exodus of Catholics into Protestantism. Some interesting quotes:

The principal reasons given by people who leave the church to become Protestant are that their “spiritual needs were not being met” in the Catholic church (71 percent) and they “found a religion they like more” (70 percent). Eighty-one percent of respondents say they joined their new church because they enjoy the religious service and style of worship of their new faith…

Catholics who became Protestant also claim to have a stronger faith now than when they were children or teenagers. Seventy-one percent say their faith is “very strong,” while only 35 percent and 22 percent reported that their faith was very strong when they were children and teenagers, respectively. On the other hand, only 46 percent of those who are still Catholic report their faith as “very strong” today as an adult.

Thus, both as believers and as worshipers, Catholics who become Protestants are statistically better Christians than those who stay Catholic. We are losing the best, not the worst.

You mean, they get all the good people, and all we get is all of those damn converts with blogs!
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Catholicisms

12 04 2011

Every religion, even Catholicism (in fact, especially Catholicism, precisely because of its effort to maintain a superficial unity and not allow itself to be fragmented into national churches or along class lines) is really a multiplicity of religions that are distinct and often contradictory; there is a Catholicism of the peasant, a Catholicism of the petty bourgeoisie and urban workers, a Catholicism of women, and a Catholicism of the intellectuals.

-Antonio Gramsci, from The Prison Notebooks

Reading this quote now, I go back to my experiences in the Lefebvrist seminary, which I always say was just like an old fashioned seminary back in the good ol’ days. We actually had classes on how we needed to stand in church, genuflect, and even make the sign of the Cross. And of course, there were entire seminars on liturgical, social, and personal decorum. It was a bit militaristic at times, or maybe the military is a bit like a seminary. Shadows of Michel Foucault begin to haunt this post…

In any case, when describing this experience to someone recently, he said that the reason this was done was to prepare us to be part of a civil service class akin to the government bureaucracy of the old Chinese empire: it was to yank us out of our peasant, “undeveloped” Catholicism to put us squarely in the realm of “romanitas” (mind you, I went to seminary in Latin America, so Catholicism down there is much different than it is here). “Romanitas” in the old days was the string that held the Church together, the Catholicism of the clergy that bound so many disparate cultures into one Church. This was outlined to us one day in a spiritual conference, just as I have written it.

Now of course, we no longer have that, and seminary is not the right of passage and transformation that it once was. Now the clergyman is supposed to be just like the rest of the “People of God” (I really do cringe when I have to write that phrase) and Catholicism in many ways and places is indistinct from the modern culture around it. It appears that the way to resolve the problem that Gramsci posed is to dilute all of the “Catholicisms” to the point that they become a bland and amorphous mess with little positive content (other than obedience to the appropriate authority and keeping “it” in your pants). Maybe this is done unintentionally, but the result is still the same.

[This is a re-post. I am lazy this week]





Hegel on Catholicism

6 04 2011

Catholicism does not claim the essential direction of the Secular; religion remains an indifferent matter on the one side, while the other side of life is dissociated from it, and occupies a sphere exclusively its own. Cultivated Frenchmen therefore feel an antipathy to Protestantism because it seems to them something pedantic, dull, minutely captious in its morality; since it requires that Spirit and Thought should be directly engaged in religion: in attending mass and other ceremonies, on the contrary, no exertion of thought is required, but an imposing sensuous spectacle is presented to the eye, which does not make such a demand on one’s attention as entirely to exclude a little chit chat, while yet the duties of the occasion are not neglected.

-Hegel, The Philosophy of History

One should keep in mind in the above quote that Hegel was actually very much a Francophile. Maybe he did not appreciate the religion much, but he liked the French, and even quipped to his wife that they should go live in Paris. Also, from the description, it is not hard to imagine Hegel actually gracing the doorstep of a church in France or witnessing a procession through the streets of statues or the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t think he is particularly bigoted, even if many of his dismissals of entire continents in this work show that he is, in his core, a bigot.

But of course, now we live in a different world. I have often called Vatican II, “the clericalization of the laity”. Many hardened traditionalists call it the “Protestantization of Catholicism”. Perhaps it is both, but not for the reasons commonly thought. If anything, the clergy were supposed to be the ones who “spiritualized” the popular rites and ceremonies of the people. Most clergy were probably just functionaries, and failed to do so. (This is why Jansenism was so popular amongst many sophisticated quarters in urban France: it attempted to “interiorize” religion, and not just make it the obligatory ideology of the State.) With the modern resourcement, the Liturgical Movement, Vatican II, etc. these rites could no longer be cultural and political obligations: they had to “mean something”, be assimilated by the Spirit,, etc. even if what they meant had to be made up on the fly.

I think the average Catholic, the real average Catholic, has the last laugh in all of this. Our rites still don’t take much “exertion of thought”, people still chat in church, and so on. (Makes you less nostalgic about the “good ol’ days”.) And there are still at least some “cultivated people” (I’ll go out on a limb and put myself in their number) who still find Protestantism hopelessly pedantic and captious. While we may miss the “spectacles for the eyes” and bemoan the frivolity and lack of gravitas in current Catholic ritual, we still might choose a parish based on church architecture and decoration, music, and so on. Plus ça change





A picture is worth, et al.

16 03 2011

Sort of where I am religiously at this point.

If you need a translation, you suck.