Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Anorexia and the Cult of 'Ana'

Please see this article, Cult-Like Lure of ‘Ana’ Attracts Anorexics, written by Martha Irvine of Associated Press.

Quoting from this story:
They call her “Ana.” She is a role model to some, a goddess to others, — the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed. She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don't lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds.

Ana is short for anorexia, and — to the alarm of experts — many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal.
There are large number of web sites which promote the anorexia nervosa lifestyle to the point of making it either a cultus for the spiritually-minded girl or an oppressed class in the Marxist sense. In these cases, this ‘lifestyle-choice’ becomes reinforced by positive feedback. This can generally be called the “Pro-ana” movement. Pro-ana is seen as an empowering lifestyle choice by those who have anorexia but do not want to recover; they accuse society of giving them the disease, but do not want a cure, some even to the point of death. Anorexia versus Recovery is seen as a personal choice. Someone versed in deconstructive philosophy or Marxist critical analysis could perhaps see this movement as some sort of leftist wedge issue and could explain it further from that point of view, but I think it goes far deeper than mere politics; the problem is spiritual.

The Pro-ana even personalize anorexia nervosa as ‘Ana’, a girl's only friend. ‘Ana’ is the only person who will tell a girl that she is fat and that she must take drastic measures to become thin. ‘Ana’ even tells us that she is a deceiver: she will distort the image a girl sees in the mirror as “obesity and hideousness” instead of a “starving child”. ‘Ana’ is an accuser, calling the girl a cow, wracking her mind with guilt over any food eaten. ‘Ana’ says that she alone can relieve a girl of her anger, depression, and loneliness, and that a girl must never tell anyone about her anorexia or seek help.

An accusing deceiver who says you can't be helped. That sounds like Satan to me. Embracing sin, or at least embracing a deep flaw that you know is a sin or flaw is the definition of vice. We are in the midst of Spiritual Warfare, and Anorexia is one of the battles.

Some people think that our culture of youth and sex is partly to blame for the explosion of anorexia in our times; Pro-ana groups say that this is only half-true, since most all of us are exposed to this culture, while only a fraction develop the disease. Likewise, only a certain fraction of those who drink alcohol will become alcoholics. However, upon viewing numerous ‘Pro-ana’ websites, it does seem that there is great emulation and idolatry of thin fashion models and actresses, with the women being held up as role models. But there is something else that is missed by those who study anorexia: these women are admired because they are rich, beautiful, and have many male admirers as well as being thin. So desire is one of the root causes or sustainers of this problem.

There is a sign or symbol of this Pro-ana movement: a red bracelet. This is a sort of ‘secret handshake’ between thin young women, giving anorexics the ability to recognize each other. The most popular version of the bracelet is braided and of three strands, with red beads and silvery stars. Bracelets of similar designs but of different colors are also made: purple for bulimia, and black for self-injury or depression; other colors include orange for recovery, and yellow for hope. These disorders are rightly grouped together: anorexia is often classified as dangerous due to its high death toll; but these deaths are often suicide from depression. The bulimic's self-purgation is found among anorexics, painful vomiting or laxitives being seen as punishments for overeating.

Eating disorders seem to predominate in times of wealth and education; most anorexics today are intelligent, well-educated young women on their way to college. The disease was originally identified in the late 19th century, a time of great prosperity and education — and also a time of great spiritual poverty. A proto-anorexia was seen in the antiquity of ancient Greece after the fall of the self-governing polis and the establishment of Empire.

There are animal models dealing with eating disorders. Animals with limited diets and unlimited exercise opportunities usually die of starvation, while animals with limited diets and little exercise will be healthy, but thin. Likewise, animals with plentiful food and exercise are healthy, while those with plentiful food and little exercise become degenerate. Our human nature is between the animals and the angels, so we can turn to spiritual help.

Anorexics are perfectionists; anorexia may be a type of scrupulosity, since they feel that having a healthy body weight is actually bad. Scrupulosity is a habitual state of mind where “an unfounded apprehension and consequently unwarranted fear that something is a sin which, as a matter of fact, is not.” Advice given in the Catholic Encyclopedia article on scruples is that “they are to guard against the reading of ascetical books of a rigorist trend and any intercourse with those afflicted in the same way as themselves,” which is directly contradicted by the behavior of those in the Pro-ana movement. Also, scrupulous persons need an extraordinary spiritual director; the Church sees this as a very serious problem.

Elsewhere I have written that fasting is a good spiritual practice, and it most certainly is for those of us who tend to gluttony, but discretion is needed. In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Saint Antony writes “Some wear out their bodies by fasting; because they have no discretion this only puts them further away from God.” Whether to fast or not, or how to fast or how often, is a matter requiring great wisdom; canon law and the ascetic Fathers recognize this. Fasting for ‘Ana’ is certainly a grave sin.

Many anti-anorexia sources are rationalistic and scientific, and attempt to discourage anorexia due to health concerns. But Pro-ana girls already know this and even embrace these health problems as part of goal of thinness, even to death. Most of the rationalistic anti-anorexia sources are strictly materialistic, and reject religion as a solution. The Pro-ana girls have invented their own spirituality, a “Starving for Perfection” or “Salvation Through Starvation,” while the anti-anorexia forces do not at all address the girls' spiritual needs.

We are at war. This is a problem that has been left to secular psychologists, but they have failed to solve it since they do not know the cause. We need saints in the world who will fight this new kind of scrupulosity with faith.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Father Marquette's Journal of Discovery in the Saint Louis Region

The first Europeans to explore the Saint Louis area were members of an expedition (1673-1675), which included explorer Louis Joliet and Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette. Father Marquette's journal can be found in the vast online historical collection, The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610 to 1791 which is in 71 volumes and includes much early colonial history of the eastern United States and Canada.

In Volume 59 of the Jesuit Relations:
"...Father [Marquette] had long premeditated This Undertaking, influenced by a most ardent desire to extend the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and to make him Known and adored by all the peoples of that country....

"The feast of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin — whom I have always Invoked since I have been in this country of the outaouacs, to obtain from God the grace of being able to visit the Nations who dwell along the Missisipi River — was precisely the Day on which Monsieur Jollyet arrived with orders from Monsieur the Count de frontenac, Our Governor, and Monsieur Talon, Our Intendant, to accomplish This discovery with me. I was all the more delighted at This good news, since I saw that my plans were about to be accomplished; and since I found myself in the blessed necessity of exposing my life for the salvation of all these peoples, and especially of the Ilinois, who had very urgently entreated me, when I was at the point of st. Esprit, to carry the word of God to Their country... Above all, I placed our voyage under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Immaculate, promising her that, if she granted us the favor of discovering the great River, I would give it The Name of the Conception, and that I would also make the first Mission that I should establish among Those New peoples, bear the same name. This I have actually done, among the Ilinois."
By right of discovery, the proper name of the Mississippi River should be the Immaculate Conception River.

Fr. Marquette describes his journey to the Mississippi River, and eventually arrives
"at 42 and a half degrees Of latitude, We safely entered Missisipi on The 17th of June, with a Joy that I cannot Express."
Father describes geography and fauna of our River:
"Here we are, then, on this so renowned River, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully. The Missisipi River takes its rise in various lakes in the country of the Northern nations. It is narrow at the place where Miskous empties; its Current, which flows southward, is slow and gentle. To the right is a large Chain of very high Mountains, and to the left are beautiful lands; in various Places, the stream is Divided by Islands. On sounding, we found ten brasses of Water. Its Width is very unequal; sometimes it is three-quarters of a league, and sometimes it narrows to three arpents. We gently followed its Course, which runs toward the south and southeast, as far as the 42nd degree of Latitude. Here we plainly saw that its aspect was completely changed. There are hardly any woods or mountains; The Islands are more beautiful, and are Covered with finer trees. We saw only deer and cattle, bustards, and Swans without wings, because they drop Their plumage in This country. From time to time, we came upon monstrous fish, one of which struck our Canoe with such violence that I Thought that it was a great tree, about to break the Canoe to pieces. On another occasion, we saw on The water a monster with the head of a tiger, a sharp nose Like That of a wildcat, with whiskers and straight, Erect ears; The head ‘was gray and The Neck quite black; but We saw no more creatures of this sort. When we cast our nets into the water we caught Sturgeon, and a very extraordinary Kind of fish. It resembles the trout, with This difference, that its mouth is larger. Near its. nose — which is smaller, as are also the eyes — is a large Bone shaped Like a woman’s busk, three fingers wide and a Cubit Long, at the end of which is a disk as Wide As one’s hand. This frequently causes it to fall backward when it leaps out of the water. When we reached the parallel of 41 degrees 28 minutes, following The same direction, we found that Turkeys had taken the place of game; and the pisikious, or wild cattle, That of the other animals.

"We call them “wild cattle,” because they are very similar to our domestic cattle. They are not longer, but are nearly as large again, and more Corpulent. When Our people killed one, three persons had much difficulty in moving it. The head is very large; The forehead is flat, and a foot and a half Wide between the Horns, which are exactly like Those of our oxen, but black and much larger. Under the Neck They have a Sort of large dewlap, which hangs down; and on The back is a rather high hump. The whole of the head, The Neck, and a portion of the Shoulders, are Covered with a thick Mane Like That of horses; It forms a crest a foot long, which makes them hideous, and, falling over their eyes, Prevents them from seeing what is before Them. The remainder of the Body is covered with a heavy coat of curly hair, almost Like That of our sheep, but much stronger and Thicker. It falls off in Summer, and The skin becomes as soft As Velvet. At that season, the savages Use the hides for making fine Robes, which they paint in various Colors. The flesh and the fat of the pisikious are Excellent, and constitute the best dish at feasts. Moreover, they are very fierce; and not a year passes without their killing some savages. When attacked, they catch a man on their Horns, if they can, toss Him in the air, and then throw him on the ground, after which they trample him under foot, and kill him. If a person fire at Them from a distance, with either a bow or a gun, he must, immediately after the Shot, throw himself down and hide in the grass; For if they perceive Him who has fired, they Run at him, and attack him. As their legs are thick and rather Short, they do not run very fast, As a rule, except when angry. They are scattered about the prairie in herds; I have seen one of 400."
The expedition went as far as roughly the current Missouri northern border without seeing any villiages; at that point they found a town of the Illinois Nation which was made up of about 300 cabins. They were met with the utmost civility:
"How beautiful the sun is, O frenchman, when thou comest to visit us! All our village awaits thee, and thou shalt enter all our Cabins in peace," and were offered the calumet, or peace-pipe. After Joliet and Marquette described their mission, the Captain of the Illinois said "I thank thee, Black Gown, and thee, O frenchman,addressing himself to Monsieur Jollyet,"for having taken so much trouble to come to visit us. Never has the earth been so beautiful, or the sun so Bright, as to-day; Never has our river been so Calm, or so clear of rocks, which your canoes have Removed in passing: never has our tobacco tasted so good, or our corn appeared so fine, as We now see Them. Here is my son, whom I give thee to Show thee my Heart. I beg thee to have pity on me, and on all my Nation. It is thou who Knowest the great Spirit who has made us all. It is thou who speakest To Him, and who hearest his word. Beg Him to give me life and health, and to come and dwell with us in order to make us Know him."
The Illinois were gracious hosts, and provided a great feast, which included corn meal, fish, dog, and bison. Marquette noted that the Illinois were polygamous, and treated their wives very jealously. The women were modestly dressed, while the men were naked. The name "Illinois" just meant "the men", with other tribes being seen as little more than animals. They were involved in a slave trade. They lived off of hunting, which was very good (and is still very good), and they did not know famine. "They also sow beans and melons, which are Excellent, especially those that have red seeds," although Marquette did not like their squash, which was used for winter eating.

Marquette now comes close to what will be Saint Louis:
"We take leave of our Ilinois at the end of June, about three o’clock in the afternoon....

"We descend, following the current of the river called Pekitanoui, which discharges into the Mississipy, flowing from the Northwest. I shall have something important to say about it, when I shall have related all that I observed along this river."
Marquette's Pekitanouï is our Missouri River -- named after the Missouri tribe living along its banks.
"While passing near the rather high rocks that line the river, I noticed a simple which seemed to me very Extraordinary. The root is like small turnips fastened together by little filaments, which taste like carrots. From this root springs a leaf as wide As one’s hand, and half a finger thick, with spots. From the middle of this leaf spring other leaves, resembling the sconces used for candles in our halls; and each leaf bears Five or six yellow flowers shaped like little Bells.

"We found quantities of mulberries, as large as Those of france; and a small fruit which we at first took for olives, but which tasted like oranges; and another fruit as large As a hen’s egg. We cut it in halves, and two divisions appeared, in each of which 8 to 10 fruits were encased; these are shaped like almonds, and are very good when ripe. Nevertheless, The tree that bears them has a very bad odor, and its leaves resemble Those of the walnut-tree. In These prairies there is also a fruit similar to Hazelnuts, but more delicate; The leaves are very large, and grow from a stalk at the end of which is a head similar to That of a sunflower, in which all its Nuts are regularly arranged. These are very good, both Cooked and Raw."
I have a wild mulberry tree in my back yard. What are the other plants that Marquette describes? Perhaps the egg-size fruit is the Paw Paw.
"While Skirting some rocks, which by Their height and Length inspired awe, We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made Us afraid, and upon Which the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes. They are as large As a calf; they have Horns on their heads Like those of deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger’s, a face somewhat like a man’s, a body Covered with scales, and so Long A tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish’s tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture. Moreover, these 2 monsters are so well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is their author; for good painters in france would find it difficult to paint so well, — and, besides, they are so high up on the rock that it is difficult to reach that place Conveniently to paint them. Here is approximately The shape of these monsters, As we have faithfully Copied It."
This is the origin of the famous "Piasa Bird" of Alton, Illinois. The originals were destroyed sometime between 1812 and 1867. The painting had been redone a number of times, in various locations, in a style unlike Marquette's drawings. Also, the legend of the Piasa Bird was made up sometime in the 1830s. However, it is an interesting symbol of the Alton area.
"While conversing about these monsters, sailing quietly in clear and calm Water, we heard the noise of a rapid, into which we were about to run. I have seen nothing more dreadful. An accumulation of large and entire trees, branches, and floating islands, was issuing from The mouth of The river pekistanouï, with such impetuosity that we could not without great danger risk passing through it. So great was the agitation that the water was very muddy, and could not become clear."
The confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers is still violent and muddy. Marquette's rafts of floating logs were a constant source of danger to navigation on the Missouri River until the late 19th century, when the federal government started stabilizing the river banks and removing logs. The Mississippi River was calm and easily boatable north of the Missouri, even before the creation of the lock and dam system, while the stretch of river from the Missouri to the Ohio is the narrowest, fastest, and most dangerous stretch of the river.
"Pekitanouï is a river of Considerable size, coming from the Northwest, from a great Distance; and it discharges into the Missisipi. There are many Villages of savages along this river, and I hope by its means to discover the vermillion or California sea.

"Judging from The Direction of the course of the Missisipi’, if it Continue the same way, we think that it discharges into the mexican gulf. It would be a great advantage to find the river Leading to the southern sea, toward California; and, As I have said, this is what I hope to do by means of the Pekitanouï, according to the reports made to me by the savages. From them I have learned that, by ascending this river for 5 or 6 Days, one reaches a fine prairie, 20 or 30 Leagues Long. This must be crossed in a Northwesterly direction, and it terminates at another small river, — on which one may embark, for it is not very difficult to transport Canoes through so fine a country as that prairie. This 2nd River Flows toward The southwest for 10 or 15 Leagues, after which it enters a Lake, small and deep [the source of another deep river — substituted by Dablon], which flows toward the West, where it falls into The sea. I have hardly any doubt that it is The vermillion sea, and I do not despair of discovering It some day, if God grant me the grace and The health to do so, in order that I may preach The Gospel to all The peoples of this new world who have so Long Groveled in the darkness of infidelity."

"Let us resume our Route, after Escaping As best We could from the dangerous rapid Caused by The obstruction which I have mentioned."

"After proceeding about 20 Leagues", or 60 nautical miles, "straight to the south, and a little less to the southeast, we found ourselves at a river called ouaboukigou, The mouth of which is at the 36th degree of latitude. Before reaching it, we passed by a Place that is dreaded by the Savages, because they believe that a manitou is there, — that is to say, a demon, — that devours travelers; and The savages, who wished to divert us from our undertaking, warned us against it. This is the demon: there is a small cove, surrounded by rocks 20 feet high, into which The whole Current of the river rushes; and, being pushed back against the waters following It, and checked by an Island near by, the Current is Compelled to pass through a narrow Channel. This is not done without a violent Struggle between all these waters, which force one another back, or without a great din, which inspires terror in the savages, who fear everything."
This demonic area is most likely Tower Rock, located in the River in Perry County, the southernmost county in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. A ridge immediately across the river from Tower Rock is called "Devil's Backbone"; this is adjacent to the town of Grand Tower, Illinois. This area has some early Missouri Lutheran history also; the town of Wittenberg is a bit more than a mile north of the Rock.
"But this did not prevent us from passing, and arriving at Waboukigou. This river flows from the lands of the East, where dwell the people called Chaouanons in so great numbers that in one district there are as many as 23 villages, and 15 in another, quite near one another. They are not at all warlike, and are the nations whom the Iroquois go so far to seek, and war against without any reason: and, because these poor people cannot defend themselves, they allow themselves to be captured and taken Like flocks of sheep; and, innocent though they are, they nevertheless sometimes experience The barbarity of the Iroquois, who cruelly burn Them."
From the volume notes:
"Ouaboukigou (Ouabouskigou, on the maps of both Joliet and Marquette): corrupted by the French into Ouabache, and Anglicized as Wabash. By early writers and map-makers the name was applied to both the present Wabash river and the Ohio below their junction; it was also called by the French Rivière de St. Jéröme. By 1746, we see on D’Anville’s map of that date “Ohohio, ou la Belle Riv.,” applied to the entire course of the Ohio, and “Ouabache” to the Wabash, as now known; and Winsor cites (Mississippi Basin, p. 17) James Logan, of Pennsylvania, as making that discrimination as early as 1718."
The journal continues:
"A short distance above the river of which I have just spoken are cliffs, on which our frenchmen noticed an iron mine, which they consider very rich. There are several veins of ore, and a bed a foot thick, and one sees large masses of it united with Pebbles, A sticky earth is found there, of three different colors — purple, violet, and Red. The water in which the latter is washed assumes a bloody tinge. There is also very heavy, red sand. I placed some on a paddle, which was dyed with its color — so deeply that The water could not wash it away during the 15 days while I used it for paddling.

"Here we Began to see Canes, or large reeds, which grow on the bank of the river; their color is a very pleasing green; all the nodes are marked by a Crown of Long, narrow, and pointed leaves. They are very high, and grow so thickly that The wild cattle have some difficulty in forcing their way through them."
Bamboo is native to Missouri, although it is not quite as suitable for construction as are Asian varieties. Marquette offers us some good advice against a well-known flying creature:
"Hitherto, we had not suffered any inconvenience from mosquitoes; but we were entering into their home, as it were. This is what the savages of this quarter do to protect themselves against them. They erect a scaffolding, the floor of which consists only of poles, so that it is open to the air in order that the smoke of the fire made underneath may pass through, and drive away those little creatures, which cannot endure it; the savages lie down upon the poles, over which bark is spread to keep off rain. These scaffoldings also serve them as protection against The excessive and Unbearable heat of this country; for they lie in the shade, on the floor below, and thus protect themselves against the sun’s rays, enjoying the cool breeze that circulates freely through the scaffolding."
Marquette and Joliet went as far as southern Arkansas, and turned back to avoid being captured by the Spanish.
"After a month’s Navigation, while descending Missisipi from the 4znd to the 34th degree, and beyond, and after preaching the Gospel as well as I could to the Nations that I met, we start on the 17th of July from the village of the akensea, to retrace our steps. We therefore reascend the Missisipi which gives us much trouble in breasting its Currents. It is true that we leave it, at about the 38th degree, to enter another river, which greatly shortens our road, and takes us with but little effort to the lake of the Ilinois."
This is the Illinois River, which joins the Mississippi north of Saint Louis, above the Missouri River. At the confluence of these Rivers is Pere Marquette State Park, in Illinois. Note that père is French for father.
"We have seen nothing like this river that we enter, as regards its fertility of soil, its prairies and woods; its cattle, elk, deer, wildcats, bustards, swans, ducks, parroquets, and even beaver. There are many small lakes and rivers. That on which we sailed is wide, deep, and still, for 65 leagues. In the spring and during part of The summer there is only one portage of half a league. We found on it a village of Ilinois called Kaskasia, consisting of 74 Cabins. They received us very well, and obliged me to promise that I would return to instruct them. One of the chiefs of this nation, with his young men, escorted us to the Lake of the Ilinois, whence, at last, at The end of September, we reached the bay des puants, from which we had started at the beginning of June.

"Had this voyage resulted in the salvation of even one soul, I would consider all my troubles well rewarded, and I have reason to presume that such is the case. For, when I was returning, we passed through the Ilinois of Peouarea, and during three days I preached the faith in all their Cabins; after which, while we were embarking, a dying child was brought to me at The water’s edge, and I baptized it shortly before it died, through an admirable act of providence for the salvation of that Innocent soul."
Father Marquette died on his second missionary journey. He was much beloved by his converts, had a holy death, and ten years after he died, his body was found to be incorrupt.


NOTE: There are some claims that the de Soto expedition in 1540 went as far as Kaskaskia, Illinois, before crossing into modern-day Missouri. This is contested.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Seven Types of American Catholics

Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, described four kinds of American Catholics: Traditionalists, Neo-Conservatives, Liberals, and Radicals. These terms are more familiar from politics but also applicable to Catholicism. Cardinal Dulles, being over eighty years old, was not an elector in the recent Papal Conclave.

Traditionalist


This type of American Catholic looks at the great piety and holiness of his Church before the Second Vatican Council and the decay of belief and practice since then, and especially notes that much of the decline is due to failed reforms based on the "Spirit of the Council". He notes the loss of vast numbers of Religious and Ordained clergy and the widely diverging celebrations of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, which often don't even seem to be Catholic anymore. So the Traditionalist starts to rebuild this past culture in one of the many new Traditional Latin Mass communities formed after the promulgation of Ecclesia Dei.

The Traditionalist seeks refuge from the world of pornography, recreational drugs, violence, and materialism. He tends to be an articulate, confident, committed, and intelligent Catholic. But, Cardinal Dulles thinks that clinging to the past is a mistake, and that Traditionalists may not "cooperate responsibly" with others in building society, and also that children in this kind of household may be eventually rebellious and reject Catholicism outright. Also, will the Traditionalist accept the directives of Vatican II?

Neo-Conservative


The "Neo-Conservative", as Cardinal Dulles calls him, sees that the government of the United States was originally founded on recognizably Catholic natural law principles and reason in the tradition of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the freedom of religion acknowledged in the Constitution has allowed Catholicism to flourish in this largely Protestant country. Our American system of government, even with its faults, is recognized as being the most moral social order developed in history. Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, even said that the American system is the best for Church-State relations. The older "Conservative" tradition upheld "Throne and Altar" as the bedrock of society, but that depends on the particular monarch, and is in any case, not applicable to a Republic. The Neo-Conservative sees that the American system of government allows Catholicism to be a constant factor in society, regardless of the individuals that happen to be in power at the time, and hopes for greater influence of Church moral teachings in informing our democracy. He is, however, alarmed at the increasing power of the Federal Courts, who create Law from the bench, with judges repudiating long-held Catholic principles of the development of the law.

The Neo-Conservative, however, tends to uncritically accept the theories of the Enlightenment, including Utilitarianism and Individualism. But these theories are materialist, deny objective virtue, and are quite against the Catholic view of man in society. Is he too affected by American culture with its denial of Sin and the Cross? Cardinal Dulles asks if these Neo-Conservatives are pious in the pews while repudiating Catholicism out in the world.

Liberal


The Liberal Catholic embraces the social justice mission of the Church, and the view of Catholic community as seen in the Acts of Apostles. He has a great love of the American democratic tradition, but tends to want to apply these traditions to the Church itself and the deposit of faith. The Liberal wants a married and female clergy, decentralization of power, and an endless list of reforms, and feels that he is the true champion of the Second Vatican Council. The Liberal Catholic may tend to theological heresy. Dulles thinks that Liberal reforms would eventually lead to a disappearance of American Catholicism itself.

Like the Neo-Conservative, the Liberal also uncritically accepts Utilitarianism and Individualism, and other non-Catholic theories, and is also too affected by the American culture.

Radical


Cardinal Dulles uses the term "Radical" in its Catholic sense -- from the Latin word radix, or root. The Radical makes a total commitment to the Gospel, to voluntary poverty, and self-sacrifice for others. The Radical gives without counting the cost. The Radical is to be admired for his commitment, but he may have a feeling that he is a prophet, and may not take criticism lightly, be unable to take direction or do self-examination, and eventually may become an elitist.

Evangelical-Catholic


Deacon Owen F. Cummings describes two other types of American Catholic, in addition to the four above mentioned by Cardinal Dulles. The Evangelical-Catholic is usually a Protestant convert, or has been affected by evangelical Protestantism in some way. He loves Scripture and incorporates into his daily life. He has a clear vision of Catholic morals and doctrines, and makes great effort to adhere to them. However, his interpretation of Scripture may not be in line with Catholic teaching, and may not accept legitimate plurality in doctrinal expression.

New Catholic


The years following the Second Vatican Council was a time of collapse of the Catholic faith and its traditions. Deacon Cummings describes the New Catholic as a young person who has rediscovered this lost faith, often due to the evangelization of Pope John Paul II. The New Catholic is enthusiastic, refreshing, and somewhat traditional, and the source of new vocations; he rejects relativism, and is in many ways the opposite of the older Liberal Catholic. While the New Catholic is seen as being good for the Church, a possible problem is his too narrow a view of orthodoxy, and anyway, the New Catholic is still a youth and not yet completely mature.

Lukewarm


The Cardinal and Deacon have not described a type of American Catholic that I can fit into, so perhaps the reader can grant me the conceit to create a new category, the Lukewarm Catholic. Not sufficiently Traditional in cult, Neo-Conservative in thought, Liberal in Practice, Radical in laziness, not Evangelical in any sense, and a New Catholic in sense of a lack of maturity can characterize the Lukewarm. Cafeteria Catholics, the "Drop the Kids Off at Mass While I Watch Football" Catholics, and "I Am a Good Person and God will Forgive Me" Catholics could fit in this category. May God forgive us Lukewarm, and not spit us out of His mouth.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Eucharistic Symposium, May 26-28

The CANONS REGULAR OF THE NEW JERUSALEM will present a symposium "The Body and Blood of Christ - Treasure of the Church".

Speakers are:

Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of Saint Louis
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand
Dr. Lawrence Feingold
Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer, CRNJ

Thursday, May 26 (free to the public)
7:00 PM, Introduction, Dom Oppenheimer
7:15 PM, Why Did Christ Institute the Eucharist?, Dr. Feingold
8:15 PM, Transubstantiation and Real Presence According to the Mind of St. Thomas

Friday, May 27 (free to the public)
7:00 PM, The Blessed 2nd Sex: The Last Shall be First, Dr. von Hildebrand
8:00 PM, Sacrament as Sign; Mal Priesthood; Eucharist, Dr. Feingold

Saturday, May 28
1:00 PM, Registration: $15 registration fee payable at the door or in advance
1:30 PM, The Mass: the Christian Sacrifice, Dr. Feingold
2:30 PM, The Eucharist: Heart of the New Evangelization, Archbishop Burke
3:30 PM, Women and the Mystery of Suffering, Dr. von HIldebrand
4:45 PM, Solemn Exposition, Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Location will be at the Cardinal Rigali Center
20 Archbishop May Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63119

Click for map, or call (314) 792-7000 for directions.


FOR ADVANCE REGISTRATION AND INFORMATION CALL (636) 536-3229

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Death of a Nation and a Cry for Mercy

"Feed my sheep" is what our Lord told Peter.

But the flock is hungry, no - actually starving - in America today. Not only are the sheep hungry, they are also diseased and disfigured from neglect. False teachers and prophets are stealing these sheep away also, and are feeding them poison under the guise of food.

I fear that the United States will soon die, be swept away in some tidal wave of cultural decay, and be overrun by barbarians, if we do not pray and act. After this fall there would be no social justice, no access to healthcare, no free trade, no respect for private property, no education, no rights, and no freedoms. The only equality would be the equality of the grave, and even perhaps the equality of vast numbers of souls in Hell. Lord have mercy on us.

First, we must pray, and in our tears, ask for mercy. And then we must act - start doing the Lord's work.

Imagine what would happen if the Holy Spirit raises up one new Fulton Sheen, who would teach the Nation and help lead it away from the brink of the pit of destruction.

Imagine what just a dozen new saints in the world, or even six, or five, could do to the world. Just one new Mother Theresa, one new Francis of Assisi, one new Anthony of the Desert, one new Ignatius of Loyola, and one new Benedict of Nursia. Just a handful of saints here could help save the nation and the world, and the souls in it.

The only reason why we ourselves are not saints is that we truly don't want to be. Christe eleison

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pope Addresses the Spiritual War

A Reuters news story Satan unleashes evil energy but God will win -Pope is excerpted here:

"Satan is still at work in the world unleashing "evil energy" but God will be the final arbiter of history, Pope Benedict said on Wednesday... the Pope also said that nations and leaders had to look for God's hand in history in the past and learn from it... "History, in fact, is not in the hands of dark forces, left to chance or just human choices...Above the unleashing of evil energy, above the vehement interruptions of Satan, above the so many scourges of evil, rises the Lord, supreme arbiter of history..." He urged Catholics to look for and recognize what he called "hidden divine interventions in history."

The Holy Father is describing Spiritual Warfare here, a concept that has been seemingly ignored for decades, and the role of Providence in history, which is also ignored.

We are at war, not with our fellow men, but with the forces of Satan: "For our struggle is not against enemies of flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places," says Saint Paul. The modern-day Sophists, relativists, skeptics, atheists, abortionists, witches, euthanizers, materialists, and neopagans are at war with us, for sure, but we are not at war with them, for they are our brethren, suffering from the disease of this age, and as such they need our help in overcoming this disorder. And we align ourselves with Satan when we sin, and so should be far more critical of ourselves than others who may have no faith.

Spiritual Warfare has been neglected in our current materialist and psychological age. But Christ himself drives out demons, and the early Desert Fathers battled directly with demons in an astonishing way. We cannot be Christians and also deny this conflict, without redefining the word "Christian" in such a way that will cause us to be casualties of this war. This neglect of these facts has brought a great darkness over our culture, with so many people becoming hate-filled destroyers of all that is good, and that our culture embraces sin in its many forms: greed, lust, intemperance, violence, and abuse.

The Pope also tells us to look for the Hand of God in history. The modern mind will say that history is due to chance or randomness, and so history is no longer a subject being deemed worthy to study. But history does have an actual coherence, especially when seen through the eyes of faith. Only a Christian could see that Communism, although seemingly scientific, and supported by the intelligentsia, would have to necessarily fall.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mariology of Pope Benedict XVI

In The Ratzinger Report Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, made some comments about Mary in the life of the Church.

Ratzinger candidly admitted, that as a young theologian, the declaration of the Virgin as Theotokos (Mother of God) and 'the conqueror of all heresies', at the Council of Ephesus in 431, seemed to him to be a matter of pious exaggeration, but now in this age of "heretical aberration", these are "truths that today are more valid than ever." To Jesus through Mary.

Many Protestants do not have a problem with the validity of many Marian doctrines, but instead are concerned about the emphasis that Catholics place on Mary. Ratzinger gives reasons why Catholics have this emphasis.

Ratzinger's six brief points about the importance of Mary in the Church:

1. Marian dogmas protect the faith of Christ as true God and true man.

2. Mariology provides an integration between Scripture and Tradition.

3. Mary is the link between the Old Testament and New Testament.

4. Marian devotion unifies reason and "the reasons of the heart", giving faith its full human dimension.

5. Mary as 'figure,' 'image' and 'model' of the Church, shields the Church from a "masculinized model" that sees it as merely a social-political action organization.

6. Mary is a model of authentic femininity, much needed in the world today. She showed both obedience with her Fiat and courage while standing under the Cross.

In THOUGHTS ON THE PLACE OF MARIAN DOCTRINE AND PIETY IN FAITH AND THEOLOGY AS A WHOLE , Ratzinger reports on two schools of thought before the Second Vatican Council. The ecumenical and biblical movements wanted to reform the Church by returning to purely Scriptural sources and primitive church prayers, while the Marian Movement was influenced by Medieval forms of devotion and the numerous recent Marian apparitions. The liturgical movement had a basically objective view, while the Marian movement was more subjective. The Council Fathers were sharply divided between these viewpoints, and an unfortunate opposition between them developed, although these two views are actually complementary. "Nevertheless, the part of the Council Fathers shaped by the biblical and liturgical movements had won a victory—albeit a narrow one—and thus brought about a decision whose significance can hardly be overestimated," as we see today in the state of our Liturgy. This is due to a sort of biblicism that erroneously developed in the popular mind where the patristic heritage was condemned as irrelevant.

The major flaw with biblicism is that it assumes that the Church went into decline after a time and that later developments within the Church were somehow not valid or to be denigrated. "The result of all of this was that the kind of thinking shaped by the liturgical movement narrowed into a biblicist-positivist mentality closed in a backward-looking attitude that thus left no more room for the dynamic development of the faith." And a greater danger could develop: "...the distance implied in historicism inevitably paves the way for “modernism”; since what is merely past is no longer living, it leaves the present isolated and so leads to self-concocted experimentation." Due to these errors, Mariology collapsed after the Council, and radical politics entered the void.

Misreadings of the Council's declaration on Mary need to be corrected. "Mariology, rightly understood, clarifies and deepens the concept of Church in two ways.

a) Contrarily to the masculine, activistic-sociological “populus Dei” (people of God) approach, Church—ecclesia—is feminine....

b) "Church is not an organization, but an organism of Christ," which can only be understood in terms of the formula in Genesis: “The two shall become one flesh”. In this way we say that Mary is the model of the Church.

"Mariology demonstrates that the doctrine of grace does not revoke creation, but is the definitive Yes to creation. In this way, Mariology guarantees the ontological independence of creation, undergirds faith in creation, and crowns the doctrine of creation, rightly understood. " Mariology unifies both the biological and the theological aspects of humanity. Modern thinking removes the concept of biology from the concept of man, and the biological is a " totally irrelevant triviality, as a constraint arising from historically fabricated “roles,” and is therefore consigned to the “purely biological realm,” which has nothing to do with man as such," which is evident in Feminism, which rejects motherhood. " Accordingly, this “purely biological” dimension is treated as a thing that man can manipulate at will because it lies beyond the scope of what counts as human and spiritual (so much so, that man can freely manipulate the coming into being of life itself)." "When man reduces this fundamental determination of his being to a despicable trifle that can be treated as a thing, he himself becomes a trifle and a thing, and his “liberation” turns out to be his degradation to an object of production. Whenever biology is subtracted from humanity, humanity itself is negated." This "liberation" ends up denying the right of a woman to be a woman. But the preservation of Creation requires womanhood. Woman is "the true keeper of the seal of creation", which men can only imitate.

Marian devotion "involves the heart, affectivity, and thus fixes faith solidly in the deepest roots of man’s being." "Marian piety is Advent piety; it is filled with the joy of the expectation of the Lord’s imminent coming; it is ordered to the incarnational reality of the Lord’s nearness as it is given and gives itself. Ulrich Wickert says very nicely that Luke depicts Mary as twice heralding Advent—at the beginning of the Gospel, when she awaits the birth of her Son, and at the beginning of Acts, when she awaits the birth of the Church." The Assumption of Mary "accentuates the eschatological transcendence of the Incarnation." Marian piety is a passion-centered piety: "In the prophecy of the aged Simeon, who foretold that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart (Lk 2:35), Luke interweaves from the very outset the Incarnation and the Passion..."

Ratzinger has three suggestions for Marian piety:

a) "It is necessary to maintain the distinctiveness of Marian devotion precisely by keeping its practice constantly and strictly bound to Christology. In this way, both will be brought to their proper form."

b) "Marian piety must not collapse into partial aspects of the Christian mystery, let alone reduce that mystery to partial aspects of itself. It must be open to the whole breadth of the mystery and become itself a means to this breadth."

c) "Marian piety will always stand within the tension between theological rationality and believing affectivity. This is part of its essence, and its task is not to allow either to atrophy." We must have a sober reasonable faith, but it must not suffocate the heart. "It may just be the task of Marian piety to awaken the heart and purify it in faith."

Regarding a declaration of Mary as Co-redemptrix, Ratzinger in God in the World said, “ I do not think there will be any compliance with this demand, which in the meantime is being supported by several million people, within the foreseeable future. The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is, broadly, that what is signified by this is already better expressed in other titles of Mary, while the formula “Co-redemptrix” departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers and therefore gives rise to misunderstandings."

In 1966, Pope Paul VI changed the code of canon law, to allow publishing of Marian apparitions without episcopal approval or authentication of miracles. It is known that Cardinal Ratzinger disapproved of this and thinks that the plethora of unapproved apparitions of recent decades is not helpful for the Church. Ratzinger was involved in the censure of the "Army of Mary" which claimed messages from the Virgin that were contrary to Revelation.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI on the Liturgy

Here are some notes on The Spirit of the Liturgyby Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI.

Extracts from this book are found on the Adoremus Bulletin Home Page. Please support this local Saint Louis group and join

Kneeling


Some contemporary liturgists reject kneeling, saying it is not appropriate for a redeemed man to approach Christ on his knees. We may be redeemed, but are we in mortal sin? Do we need forgiveness? Others say it is not part of our culture. The pagan Greeks and Romans rejected kneeling also, saying it was a barbaric practice, knowing that they were approaching immoral and demonic gods. However, Ratzinger says that "Kneeling does not come from any culture -- it comes from the Bible and its knowledge of God. The central importance of kneeling in the Bible can be seen in a very concrete way. The word proskynein alone occurs fifty-nine times in the New Testament, twenty-four of which are in the Apocalypse, the book of the heavenly Liturgy, which is presented to the Church as the standard for her own Liturgy. "

"When kneeling becomes merely external, a merely physical act, it becomes meaningless. One the other hand, when someone tries to take worship back into the purely spiritual realm and refuses to give it embodied form, the act of worship evaporates, for what is purely spiritual is inappropriate to the nature of man." Much contemporary New Age thinking is purely spiritual, and ignores the body, and this leads to errors such as the rejection of the Church's teachings on sexual morality and corporeal mortification.

"It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture -- insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture." The Christian mission is to change the culture, not to be changed by it.

Source

Art and Liturgy


The commandments prohibit the making of graven images, but an exception is made for the Ark of the Covenant, which has cherubim on top. Judaism now only allows radically non-figurative art in its synagogues, as does Islam in its mosques.

"As a result of archaeological discoveries, we now know that the ancient synagogues were richly decorated with representations of scenes from the Bible. They were by no means regarded as mere images of past events, as a kind of pictorial history lesson, but as a narrative (haggadah), which, while calling something to mind, makes it present...." God commands that the Temple be richly decorated with many images, although those images must not be worshiped, as was the bronze serpent made by Moses. And it was in the Temple and synagogues where the earliest Christians worshiped. "Christian images, as we find them in the catacombs, simply take up and develop the canon of images already established by the synagogue, while giving it a new modality of presence."

"One development of far-reaching importance in the history of the images of faith was the emergence for the first time of a so-called acheiropoietos, an image that has not been made by human hands and portrays the very face of Christ." The Shroud of Turin is one of these. "Thus the icon inevitably assumed in its form the status of a sacrament. It was regarded as bestowing a communion no less than that of the Eucharist." "It is not hard to see why the images modeled on the acheiropoietos became the center of the whole canon of iconography, which meanwhile had made progress and was understood better in its wider implications."

"Iconoclasm derived its passion in part from truly religious motives, from the undeniable dangers of a kind of adoration of the image, but also from a cluster of political factors. It was important for the Byzantine emperors not to give any unnecessary provocation to Muslims and Jews." So many times, we are told that our behavior offends someone else, and that we must change. "In the course of this struggle the true theology of icons matured and bequeathed us a message that has a profound relevance to us today in the iconographic crisis of the West."

The best icon of Christ is that of the Risen Lord, whom the disciples did not recognize. "In the icon it is not the facial features that count (though icons essentially adhere to the appearance of the acheiropoietos). No, what matters is the new kind of seeing. The icon is supposed to originate from an opening up of the inner senses, from a facilitation of sight that gets beyond the surface of the empirical and perceives Christ, as the later theology of icons puts it, in the light of Tabor." " Icon painters [says Orthodox icon painter Evdokimov] must learn how to fast with their eyes and prepare themselves by a long path of prayerful asceticism. This is what marks the transition from art to sacred art...The icon comes from prayer and leads to prayer."

"Thus in the icon we find the same spiritual orientations that we discovered when emphasizing the eastward direction of the liturgy. The icon is intended to draw us onto an inner path, the eastward path, toward the Christ who is to return." "Only when we have understood this interior orientation of the icon can we rightly understand why the Second Council of Nicaea and all the following councils concerned with icons regard it as a confession of faith in the Incarnation and iconoclasm as a denial of the Incarnation, as the summation of all heresies." "Iconoclasm rests ultimately on a one-sided apophatic [negative] theology, which recognizes only the Wholly Other-ness of the God beyond all images and words, a theology that in the final analysis regards revelation as the inadequate human reflection of what is eternally imperceptible." Iconoclasm, in a way, denies the Incarnation. "But if this is the case, faith collapses... On the one hand, matter is absolutized and thought of as completely impervious to God, as mere matter, and thus deprived of its dignity."

Ratzinger then questions whether the Eastern Orthodox theology of the icon is true. Christian art in East and West remained similar until the end of the Romanesque period, although western emphasis was on the educational value of images. "Art is still ordered to the mystery that becomes present in the liturgy. The figures of the angels in Romanesque art are essentially no different from those in Byzantine painting. They show that we are joining with the cherubim and seraphim, with all the heavenly powers, in praise of the Lamb. In the liturgy the curtain between heaven and earth is torn open, and we are taken up into a liturgy that spans the whole cosmos."

"With the emergence of Gothic, a change slowly takes place...But the central image becomes different. The depiction is no longer of the Pantocrator, the Lord of all...It has been superseded by the image of the crucified Lord in the agony of His passion and death. The story is told of the historical events of the Passion, but the Resurrection is not made visible. The historical and narrative aspect of art comes to the fore." "It has been said that the mystical image has been replaced by the devotional image. Many factors may have been involved in this change of perspective. Evdokimov, in The Art of the Icon: A Theology of Beauty, thinks that the turn from Platonism to Aristotelianism during the thirteenth century played a part."

"Platonism sees sensible things as shadows of the eternal archetypes." See my article Philosophy 101 about the Allegory of the Cave. "Aristotelianism rejects the doctrine of Ideas. The thing, composed of matter and form, exists in its own right. Through abstraction I discern the species to which it belongs. In place of seeing...comes abstraction. The relationship of the spiritual and the material has changed and with it man's attitude to reality as it appears to him." Ratzinger is well known to be a Platonist rather than an Aristotelian philosopher, unlike centuries of previous Popes. "For Plato, the category of the beautiful had been definitive. The beautiful and the good, ultimately the beautiful and God, coincide...Something of this Platonic foundation lives on in the theology of icons, even though the Platonic ideas of the beautiful and of vision have been transformed by the light of Tabor."

"Salvation history is seen less as a sacrament than as a narrative unfolded in time. Thus the relationship to the liturgy also changes. It is seen as a kind of symbolic reproduction of the event of the Cross." Ratzinger says that Western devotionalism is more based on the historical events of the Life of Christ and not on the sacramental liturgy which is following the Risen Lord. The Rosary can be seen in this sense as a very Western devotion, while the Jesus Prayer is more Eastern.

"Nevertheless, we should not exaggerate the differences that developed. True, the depiction of Christ dying in pain on the Cross is something new, but it still depicts him who bore our pains, by whose stripes we are healed. In the extremes of pain it represents the redemptive love of God...The[se Crucifixion] images are consoling, because they make visible the overcoming of our anguish in the incarnate God's sharing of our suffering, and so they bear within them the messages of the Resurrection. These images, too, come from prayer, from the interior meditation on the way of Christ. "

Art in the Renaissance emphasized beauty for its own sake, and romanticized pagan imagery flourished, while religious art lost the sense of sacredness. The brutality of the pagans were forgotten but were instead idealized, and the brutality of the Cross was too much for people seeking pleasure to take anymore. "Perhaps the iconoclasm of the Reformation should be understood against this background, though doubtless its roots were extensive."

The Baroque period followed the reforms of the Council of Trent. "In line with the tradition of the West, the Council again emphasized the didactic and pedagogical character of art, but, as a fresh start toward interior renewal, it led once more to a new kind of seeing that comes from and returns within.

"The altarpiece is like a window through which the world of God comes out to us. The curtain of temporality is raised, and we are allowed a glimpse into the inner life of the world of God. This art is intended to insert us into the liturgy of heaven.

"Again and again, we experience a Baroque church as a unique kind of fortissimo of joy, an Alleluia in visual form. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 10). These words from the Old Testament express the basic emotion that animates this iconography. "

"Contemporary culture turned away from the faith and trod another path, so that faith took flight in historicism, the copying of the past, or else attempted compromise or lost itself in resignation and cultural abstinence." This is our present era, where Catholic churches resemble meeting halls: "[t]he last of these led to a new iconoclasm, which has frequently been regarded as virtually mandated by the Second Vatican Council. The destruction of images... Eliminated a lot of kitsch and unworthy art, but ultimately it left behind a void, the wretchedness of which we are now experiencing in a truly acute way." "Today we are experiencing not just a crisis of sacred art, but a crisis of art in general of unprecedented proportions. "

"The crisis of art for its part is a symptom of the crisis of man's very existence." The philosophy of modern science, Positivism, which now pervades our entire culture, sharply narrows our perspectives. "What is more, art itself, which in impressionism and expressionism explored the extreme possibilities of the sense of sight, becomes literally object-less. Art turns into experimenting with self-created worlds, empty "creativity", which no longer perceives the Creator Spiritus, the Creator Spirit. It attempts to take his place, and yet, in so doing, it manages to produce only what is arbitrary and vacuous, bringing home to man the absurdity of his role as creator."

Ratzinger provides a roadmap of what we should do.

Ratzinger's "fundamental principles of an art ordered to divine worship:"

1. Iconoclasm is incompatible with the Incarnation. "Images of beauty, in which the mystery of the invisible God becomes visible, are an essential part of Christian worship." Iconoclasm is not Christian.

2. The subject of sacred art is images of salvation history, from Creation to the Resurrection to the Second Coming. Images of Biblical History have "pride of place", but also histories of the Saints.

3. Images of salvation history should not be just sequences of events, "but display the inner unity of God's action," particularly in reference to the Sacraments, above all, Baptism and the Eucharist. Icons of Christ must contain within all of the central mysteries: the Passion, Resurrection, and Real Presence both now and in the Second Coming.

4. Images of Christ and the Saints are not to be photographs, but must take us beyond the material.

5. The Western Church should consider Orthodox Theology of Icons as normative for herself, without abandoning purely Western devotional-style art, and without rigidly accepting Eastern norms as is established in the Orthodox canons. The Church needs to be open to new intuition and piety, but cannot accept completely free expression.

Ratzinger concludes, "Art cannot be "produced", as one contracts out and produces technical equipment. It is always a gift. Inspiration is not something one can choose for oneself. It has to be received, otherwise it is not there. One cannot bring about a renewal of art in faith by money or through commissions. Before all things it requires the gift of a new kind of seeing. And so it would be worth our while to regain a faith that sees. Wherever that exists, art finds its proper expressions."

Music and Liturgy


Song is present in the Bible, from the Israelites fleeing Egypt in the Book of Genesis, to Heaven in the Book of Revelation. The early song of the Church came from the song of the Temple and synagogues, and the living, unbroken tradition of this song is still heard when monks chant the Divne Office.

"During the nineteenth century, the century of self-emancipating subjectivity, this led in many places to obscuring of the sacred by the operatic. Pope Pius X tried to remove the operatic element from the liturgy and declared Gregorian chant and the great polyphony of the age of the Catholic Reformation to be the standard for liturgical music."

"A clear distinction was made between liturgical music and religious music in general, just as visual art in the liturgy has to conform to different standards from those employed in religious art in general. Art in the liturgy has a very specific responsibility, and precisely as such does it serve as a wellspring of culture, which in the final analysis owes its existence to cult."

There are three recent developments in liturgical music:

1. Enculturation. How much needs to be changed when localizing liturgical music while still being universal? Even traditional Western and Eastern Catholic forms are quite different, and that particular enculturation was never in question.

2. Classical music is now in an elite ghetto and no longer influences popular music. See my article High Art or Low?. Our liturgical music tradition is now relegated to the present obscurity of Classical music.

3. Popular music is no longer the music of the people, however, but is industrially produced for the masses. With Rock music, "the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe," to where the whisperings of the Holy Spirit cannot be heard. No current popular forms of music are appropriate, in my opinion, to liturgical worship.

Ratzinger proposes three solutions to the current problems in liturgical music:

1. Singing the liturgy takes priority over, but does not exclude instrumental music. The center of liturgical singing is the Paschal Mysteries of the Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. It is based on biblical faith. "It goes without saying that the biblical and liturgical texts are the normative words from which liturgical music has to take its bearings," but it is good that he says it anyway.

2. "Prayer is a gift of the Holy Spirit" and everything is related to Christ, the Word, or logos. "There is always an ultimate sobriety, a deeper rationality, resisting any decline into irrationality and immoderation." The pagan philosophers Plato and Aristotle described two kinds of music, describing two kinds of cultic worship in their day. The Apollonian form "...is the music that draws senses into spirit and so brings man to wholeness. It does not abolish the senses, but inserts them into the unity of this creature that is man. It elevates the spirit precisely by wedding it to the senses, and it elevates the senses by uniting them with the spirit. Thus this kind of music is an expression of man's special place in the general structure of being." The Dionysian form however, "...drags man into the intoxication of the senses, crushes rationality, and subjects the spirit to the senses." "Does [music] integrate man by drawing him to what is above, or does it cause his disintegration into formless intoxication or mere sensuality? That is the criterion for a music in harmony with logos, a form of that logike latreia (reasonable, logos-worthy worship)." Ratzinger has been highly criticized by the culture for stating that Rock music has no part in the Liturgy, but I think his reasoning is sound.

As an aside, many Bible Christians may be uncomfortable with this constant Catholic quoting of pagan sources, instead of just quoting scripture alone. However, quoting a Bible verse to an atheist is often apparently useless, since the atheist will just say that he is not a believer, and so the argument ends there, and he will listen no longer. Catholics will quote truth from any reasonable source, since truth cannot contradict truth. Atheists can and do listen to Plato and Aristotle, and both of those authors, in their own way, point to God. Also, those authors are the foundation for reason and logic in the world today; no other area of the world has independently developed reason beyond its primitive forms.

3. "Christian Liturgy is always a cosmic liturgy." It extends even beyond space and time and the Communion of Saints. We sing "together with the cherubim and seraphim and with all the choirs of heaven" as in the Book of Isaiah. According to both the ancients and the moderns, the whole cosmos is ordered mathematically, and that those musical notes and harmonies that sound beautiful to us also happen to have the same mathematical ratios that govern the universe. "The beauty of music depends on its conformity to the rhythmic and harmonic laws of the universe. The more that human music adapts itself to the musical laws of the universe, the more beautiful will it be." Mathematics and music are closely related, and expertise in both is usually found in the same persons. But when music became to be seen not as part of a universal harmony, but as the mere subjective will of the musician, then even the whole conception of Christianity is turned upside-down by its application in the Liturgy. "Deconstructionism" in music is the ultimate form of musical subjectivity and anarchism and its rejection may lead us back to the recognition of the universal in music.

We are in a grave crisis in the Church, but what is dead in museums is alive in the Liturgy.

"Today, too, joy in the Lord and contact with His presence in the liturgy has an inexhaustible power of inspiration. The artists who take this task upon themselves need not regard themselves as the rearguard of culture. They are weary of the empty freedom from which they have emerged. Humble submission to what goes before us releases authentic freedom and leads us to the true summit of our vocation as human beings."

The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer


The Christian church building developed directly from the Jewish Temple and synagogues, and so the Old Testament tradition in architecture developed in a living and unbroken way into our New Testament architecture. But for all of the changes that occurred in this tradition, "praying toward the East is a tradition that goes back to the beginning."

But since we now believe that God is everywhere, and that He can be accessed anywhere -- this universality being a consequence of Christianity and its universalism itself -- we don't think that we need a concrete posture for worship, so our church design is now arbitrary. However, this universality is due to revelation, and our religion of the Incarnation -- God becoming man -- is very concrete. So the symbol of the rising sun in the East can be very appropriately used, like icons can be used by Christians.

In Byzantine churches, the people, and the priest, all face to the altar, which is to the East. Due to geography though, Saint Peter's basilica faces to the West, and the altar is not joined to the wall, so the priest has to face the people so that he can pray in the Eastern direction. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the people would turn around and face East also. This model was copied to other major basilicas. Liturgical change in recent decades followed this "alleged model", that mass was to be said versus populum, or toward the people -- but this is a novelty without precedent. "...priest and people looked at each other and formed together the circle of the celebrating community," being "...the primordial model of the Last Supper."

The communal meal analogy fails because in ancient banquets, all participants sat on the same side of a single table. Also, the Eucharist is also remembrance of the Cross and a fulfillment of the Temple sacrifices, so the elements of both the Cross and of an altar of sacrifice is critical. Finally, the ancient tradition of altars being made over tombs of martyrs reminds us that the Church is made of living stones, in this case of the living Saints in Heaven.

Subtly, the traditional orientation to the East was denigrated by labeling it as "celebrating towards the wall" or "turning your back on the people". "In reality what happened was that an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest -- the "presider", as they now prefer to call him -- becomes the real point of reference for the whole Liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing." Ratzinger observers that "Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this newly created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals and entrusting the "creative" planning of the Liturgy to groups of people who like to, and are supposed to, "make a contribution of their own". Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by the human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a "pre-determined pattern"."

Nowadays people celebrate in a self-enclosed circle, excluding others, instead of the priest and congregation together progressing towards Christ.

Ratzinger says that all reforms are not to be rejected. The altar should be brought closer to the people. The Liturgy of the Word should be kept distinct from the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and should be proclaimed facing the people, and the Psalm should be heard and responded to by the people.

However, "...a common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential." " Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship... What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle, but the common movement forward expressed in a common direction for prayer...."

Some object that we should not look to the East or at a crucifix during common prayer, but towards each other, to see God in our fellow man. Ratzinger says this is not a serious argument. We do not see God in man in a photographic way with our senses but in an interior way with our faith. I used to attend Mass at a church-in-the-round and found that kind of worship highly distracting and hardly leading to holiness. This attitude also leads to pantheism or materialism.

"Are we really going to re-order everything all over again? Nothing is more harmful to the Liturgy than constant changes, even if it seems to be for the sake of genuine renewal." Orientation to the actual East is often not practical, but a common orientation to the Cross, located in a central place in the middle of the altar, can "be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community."

"This mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible; it can be done without further rebuilding. The Lord is the point of reference. He is the rising sun of history."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Some Books and Some Thoughts on Education

That our Pope Benedict XVI speaks numerous languages seems to our modern ears a surprising and uncommon skill. Contemporary American education is remarkably deficient in teaching language -- including English.

As I was cleaning up my living room, I came across a book, "THE MUMMY, A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology", by E.A. Wallis Budge, written in 1925. In that text, I noticed that numerous references, written in French, Latin, German, Greek, Coptic, Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian are given untranslated, the author no doubt assuming knowledge of the modern and Classical languages and at least the ability to sound out the other ones phonetically, since their distinctive scripts are typeset beautifully. He consistently does translate hieroglyphics, being a recently translated language.

And this was written long before the age of 'multiculturalism', which actually teaches nothing about other cultures, but instead the proper feeling towards those of other cultures. Multiculturalism doesn't teach you how to actually talk to someone of another culture, or even read their literature, like the old Classical Education did.

Intrigued by this, I went upstairs and found my old volume of "The Encyclopedia of Architecture" by Joseph Gwilt, a reprint of the 1867 edition. Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, and Italian text are left untranslated, the reader, no doubt, is assumed to know those languages tolerably well. This book is a both a product of Classical Education and is a source of Classical Education itself, since it contains within its 1364 pages history, geometry, mechanics, material science, carpentry, contract law, ascetics, art, drawing, metallurgy, economics, sculpture, and geology in great detail. It describes church architecture in such detail down to practical techniques for designing rose windows and the proper proportions for pointed arches and columns in Gothic churches. It describes traditional church architecture (and all architecture for that matter) in a very detailed and practical way. The typesetting and illustrations are superb. The book's author clearly had an excellent education of the old style, both practical and theoretical, and not dumbed down nor resorting to feelings.

That above book, by the way is "full of stuff". Practical, usable, informative stuff. I heard on EWTN recently about a child who got his hands on the Baltimore Catechism and had the same reaction: that catechism is "full of stuff", things that much contemporary catechesis fails to mention, and it says it in a very clear and direct way.

Now I was interested in finding out what is being taught today. I looked at the Missouri National Education Association website, and was disappointed to find that most information was on internal political matters. The online list of research documents wasn't much help: political issues overwhelm everything else. Inclusiveness, sex, gender issues, change, race, contemporary ethics, critical thinking, at-risk students, diversity, hate crimes, Church-state relations, inequality, equality, alternative education, and defense of the status quo were the primary subjects discussed. I would guess that a product of this kind of education could neither design, build, nor worship at a Gothic cathedral.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Congressman Lacy Clay Makes an Unexpected Vote

U.S. Representative Lacy Clay, Democrat, Missouri 1st District, voted for the House Bill 748, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which prohibits transportation of minors across state lines for abortion without parental approval. Congressman Clay, who is a professed Catholic, voted against his party on this bill. He is a member of Saint Nicholas Parish in North Saint Louis, staffed by members of the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries, Chicago Province, an order that specializes in inner-city, ethnic, and social justice ministries.

Clay said "I'm going to follow my church leadership and vote in favor of this bill," although he has been critical of Archbishop Burke's policy of withholding communion from politicians who support abortion. Is this is a conversion of heart or is it is a calculated move to gain votes? The latter appears more probable, from this article. "We have to start being flexible...Now, that's going to alienate some of my constituents in the pro-choice community. But look, it's time we start telling these constituency groups, hey, don't be so rigid in your stance and hold us to such a litmus test that it costs us seats."

Clay's district roughly covers Saint Louis City north of Interstate 44 in the eastern 2/3rds of the City and Highway 40 in the west part of the City, all of north Saint Louis County, and much of west Saint Louis County north of Highway 40 excluding the Clayton area. Population loss in his historic district led to a realignment of the boundary lines to areas that include more Republican voters than the old north Saint Louis, including parts of Creve Coeur, Ladue, and Frontenac.

We are witnessing a sea change in the Culture War, and political forces are realigning. At one time, to be a Catholic meant being a Democrat. The Republican Party was originally the Liberal party, home to the Robber Barons, who crushed the spirit and destroyed the livelihoods of poor Catholic immigrants within the machines of Progress, and who used social engineering and educational reforms to deprive Catholics of their ethnic identity and Church affiliation. The Democratic Party, although home to pro-slavery, and later pro-segregation forces in the South, and by the 1930s, Socialists, became more controlled in the North by Catholics in the great cities.

Nowadays, the Democratic Party is being more controlled by the wealthy, who have visions of a New Secular Order, where materialist spirituality can be bought and sold, and great profit may be made via sales of medical services and pharmaceuticals to the welfare state. This is startlingly apparent by the financial activities of George Soros during the 2004 Presidential election, who attempted to buy a presidency and who also is controlling a wide variety of organizations who are flooding the United Nations and social justice networks with his peculiar agenda. But this is also the vision of many "Country Club" Republicans who are increasingly uneasy with their 40 year old alliance with the religious conservatives.

The last realignment occurred in the 1960s, when Southern Democrats abandoned segregation and became Republican, and the Democratic Party became increasingly radicalized. Catholics were prominent in the social justice arena of that era, and were then the major core constituency of the Democratic Party. The reforms following the Second Vatican Council were greatly admired by this new radicalism; however, Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae, rejecting the sexual revolution, was a great disappointment to the new Democratic leftists being elected throughout the country by the early 1970s. Catholics still largely supported the Party, but the Party became alienated from Catholics and started proposing and implementing many policies that were in direct opposition to Catholic doctrine. Older Catholics remained loyal to the Party, mainly, while the Catholic youth -- or at least practicing Catholic youth -- were Republican from the start of their voting lives. This change became very apparent during the Reagan presidency, where several practicing Catholics held prominent positions in the administration.

Do not forget that the party platforms of both Republican and Democratic Parties are HETERODOX. Neither party has a worldview, philosophy, or policy proposals that are completely compatible with Catholicism. But we must participate, the Magisterium and Natural Law both insist on active participation in civic life. The Republican Party generally respects traditional family and religion, while also supporting policies that cause job loss and social disruption. The Democratic Party historically fought for the rights of Catholic Americans, supports Catholic social justice policies, but also is attempting the destruction of the family as well as promoting socialism, euthanasia and abortion.

What is a Catholic voter to do?

Some sects, philosophies, and undercover political operatives suggest retiring from political life. This is unacceptable and not Catholic. Catholics must -- as a matter of the virtue of justice -- be patriotic, and be actively involved.

Some suggest forming a third party, which will be pure and will support Catholic doctrine fully. Under our system of winner take all elections, third parties are usually failures. Those political systems that do have multiple parties are usually chaotic, with frequent change of government, and more troubling, often come under control of the one party that will broker its votes to the highest bidder -- and when it does take control, it will change the system for its own benefit, and sometimes remain in power as a near-dictatorship for decades.

Some say switch loyalties from the Democratic Party to the Republican Parties. Many hard core Democratic Catholics are from organized labor, but now most are likely to be dissenting Catholics (or what were once called heretics). Other supporters are older, and remain loyal due to history and won't likely change due to painful memories of Republican business owners who told them that "Catholics need not apply" for employment, and for the good union jobs that Democrats fought for. However, I suspect that many dissenters will give up in their subversive attempt to "change from within" and will go back to their former strategy of trying to destroy the Church from without, like the Communists, freethinkers, and atheists of the past. The Republican Party strongly supports policies that cause good jobs to be lost. Yes, new jobs are created, but huge social disruption occurs in the interim, and older workers probably will never regain their former standard of living due to inability to learn the skills needed for the new jobs. And, many Republicans, like Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, are opposing their pro-life constituents by backing biotechnology business that will do clone-and-kill research or create chimeras -- hybrids of humans and animals.

The greatness of the American system of government is that both political parties are somewhat centrist. It is difficult for a minority political view to gain ascendancy, at least by election (although the Supreme Court has been very affective at pushing extreme views). Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, even suggested that the American model of government is more conducive of good Church-State relations compared to European governments, even those European states that financially support the Church, since European governments are either relentlessly athiest or control the Church too much. In the United States, Catholic unity would get the attention of both parties. Especially if the Magisterium, local ordinaries, and the laity push for a single Catholic vision, then political change could happen, without Catholics completely selling their souls to a single party. This is most likely if the views expressed are long-held, rational, and practical views, that can be easily found in the long history of the Church, and not recent novelties. We can expect opposition and cries for "Separation of Church and State", and even increased persecution. But we need to do our duty.

Catholic-Orthodox Communion?

Does anyone know if the Orthodox dignitaries received the Eucharist at Pope Benedict XVI's installation Mass? Attending were Metropolitans and other Orthodox hierarchs from Constantinople, Russia, and elsewhere.

The Church's ecumenical focus in the past several decades sometimes seems to be directed more towards unity with Congregationalists and Unitarians than with the Orthodox, although more recently John Paul II made great overtures to our brethren to the east. Our battle against the Culture of Death and the Dictatorship of Moral Relativism needs worthy allies like the Orthodox.

Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch Filaret of Kiev offered a memorial Divine Liturgy for Pope John Paul II.