Thursday, February 4, 2016

Candlemas


February 2 was, like so many other feasts that have fallen by the wayside in modern times, one of the great Christian festivals of the medieval world. It commemorates the fortieth day after Christmas, when the Blessed Mother presented the infant Christ at the Temple of Jerusalem and submitted herself for ritual purification according to the law of Moses. At Christendom's height, a lengthy service prior to Mass developed which involved the blessing and distribution of candles, and a procession of lights around the church or even the village. We may or may not have inherited this love of walking about with candles from our pagan forefathers, but its Christian significance lies in the words of Simeon, the elderly Jew to whom the Holy Ghost promised he would not die until he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. Simeon was present at the Temple during the presentation of Jesus, and said:
"mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people;To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel."
Last Tuesday, I was privileged to partake in these traditions in a small but special way. Solemn high Mass in the old rite was celebrated at the Cathedral-Basilica in Philadelphia. I joined some servers of varying ages from the various Latin Mass communities across the city, as well as three diocesan seminarians, to walk in the procession around the church and sit "in choir" for the Mass. As the candles were being distributed to the congregation, the choir sang the words Simeon spoke all those centuries ago, the Nunc dimittis.

Lumen ad revelationem gentium. "A light to enlighten the Gentiles."

Small as my role was, this Mass was a life-changing experience for me. Perhaps not a Damascene conversion or fodder for a column in a vocations magazine, but I couldn't help but feel a stronger pull toward an ongoing discernment I've had for years toward the so-called "permanent" diaconate. It's very rare for lay servers these days to be able to attend Mass in the sanctuary, but without all the distractions of multiple duties. When you sit "in choir", though, you enjoy being not only very close to the altar, but some freedom to simply watch and pray the Mass, or read from a hand missal when seated. I even fulfilled the "choir" part of being "in choir" by singing the Credo from my Liber Usualis (the rest of the Mass Ordinary was polyphonic). It was amusing to watch the young boys in front of me awkwardly exchanging the kiss of peace, to the second MC's dismay. I hope they continue to foster a love for the altar and consider a vocation to the priesthood.

And to think: all this taking place in the very same sanctuary where the Pope himself celebrated Mass  for the clergy of Philadelphia just a few months ago!




Some of our Knights and Dames of Malta joined in this procession as well.

The vestments selected for this Mass were splendid Gothics with fleur-de-lis.



Friday, January 1, 2016

Te Deum laudamus!


There has long been a plenary indulgence granted to those who pray the solemn hymn of thanksgiving, Te Deum, in thanks on the eve of a new year. In medieval times, the hymn was oft used to conclude coronations, the signing of peace treaties, or the end of calamities; so Shakespeare has Henry V say, at the end of the battle of Agincourt, "let there be sung Non Nobis and Te Deum".

This photo was taken at the end of our nuptial Mass, after the last Gospel. The altar servers are lined up for recession betwixt the schola/choir, who are singing Te Deum in alternation with the organ like this: 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Is your civilization worth dying for?

This is the question ISIS has asked of the West as it threw the gauntlet over the bodies of 129 victims in Paris. With every act of violence and barbarism, they mock our decadence, our fear, and our inability to defend ourselves. Even as President Hollande promises to wage a "merciless" campaign against those who slaughtered his fellow citizens in his own city, he carefully avoids calling them the "Islamic State" to keep from offending those Muslims in France who don't share ISIS's vision. The White House, like an ostrich forcing its head in the sand, stands by our own President's remark the very morning of the attack that ISIS has been "contained". The Obamas and Trumps of the world alike dutifully tell the cameras that their prayers are with the victims, but this seems more a figure of speech than anything backed by real conversations with the Man Upstairs. As our politicos prove time and again that the breed of lions which raised up Sir Winston Churchill no longer walk in our corridors of power; that we have no men of vision and resolve to achieve victory at all costs; the terrorists ask, "when will you finally take us seriously?"

The answer is simple: we do not. The day ISIS is duly reckoned as a deadly foe has yet to come because we're not playing for the same stakes. The West earnestly believes there can be peace in our time if only we can all get on board with the fruits of the modern state: higher education, healthcare, and retirement for all who dutifully buy in to the system with their taxes. Even as the 21st century European hangs his head in shame over the imperialism of his great-grandfather's day, he proudly assumes the new doctrines of equality, tolerance, and secularism can be imposed on the people his ancestors once ruled just as well. Liberté, égalité, and fraternité make for a catchy motto, but those words mean nothing to a disenfranchised young man who thirsts for eternal life more than the comforts of this world. ISIS promises him "freedom" through submission to the will of Allah; "equality" to those who deserve it (for men who fight in the name of the Islamic State, to the victors go the spoils); and "brotherhood" among men of all races who fight under the black flag (to be fair, ISIS appears to accept converts of European descent to their fold as generously as Arabs of immemorial Muslim descent). 

A homegrown terrorist from France
To reduce the threat of ISIS to a mere border control issue is a fatal error, for many of their most fervent fighters were grown right in France, the United Kingdom, and even the United States. In January, France's prime minister estimated 1,400 Frenchmen in ISIS's ranks, many of whom we know are ethnically French converts that barely speak a lick of Arabic. One of the attackers this weekend, though ultimately of Algerian descent, was born and raised near Paris, even living in Chartres until 2012. Indeed, as we see from their acts of terror in Lebanon just one day earlier, many refugees from the Middle East are fleeing from ISIS themselves. The Islamic State isn't fighting for resources or material comfort. They don't care about the color of your skin--in fact, they're probably killed more far more brown people than whites. They don't "hate us for our freedom"--they pity us for our delusions. This is strictly a war of ideas... a war for which we've come woefully ill-equipped. The Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Emil Nona, whose predecessor was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists and who now lives in exile from his own diocese thanks to ISIS, explained our failure to grasp the seriousness of the conflict:

"Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.
 

"Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home."

A society built upon social safety, material comforts, and secularism may have sounded like a good idea for Europeans following the horrors of World War II, but these are not the pillars any reasonable person would risk being beheaded on a beach or burning to death in a cage for. It's why, according to one poll, 16% of Frenchmen actually supported ISIS last year, at least as an alternative to their current establishment. They've become like the decadent ancients Sir Kenneth Clark spoke of in his series on Civilisation, which I quoted in my article on beauty for OnePeterFive:

"[B]oredom, a feeling of hopelessness which can overtake people with a high degree of material prosperity. There’s a poem by a modern Greek called Cavafy, a poem in which he imagines the people of some late Antique city, waiting every day for the barbarians to come and sack it. And then, finally, the barbarians move on somewhere else, and the city is saved, but the people are disappointed. It would have been better than nothing."

The Modern Medievalist has little faith in the race of men to throw the barbarians out of the gates, it's true... but as long as we have faith in a good and sovereign God, there's still reason to hope. Indeed, it seems He has written that hope into France's own history. At the end of the medieval era, the Hundred Years' War had been more like a century of catastrophic defeats for the French. Then, as now, the French seemed to have all the advantages: numbers, discipline, superior armaments (heavy cavalry), the home turf, and even more efficient means of taxation to pay for it all. Again and again, from Crécy to Agincourt, English archers and yeomen butchered the flower of French chivalry, the proudest and most civilized sons of western Christendom, on their own soil. The English king, Henry V, married a French princess and sired a son, Henry VI, to claim the titles of both King of England and France. The whole kingdom was about to become a Norman colony.
"Our madams mock at us, and plainly say
Our mettle is bred out and they will give
Their bodies to the lust of English youth
To new-store France with bastard warriors."

--the Dauphin, Shakespeare's Henry V


As Paris sat in foreign hands, the French heir to the throne, Charles, languished in faraway Chinon without a crown until a peasant girl called Joan, guided by nothing but her visions, picked him out from amidst his courtiers in disguise and told the prince of her mission from God to restore the kingdom. Shortly thereafter, the "maid of Lorraine" led French soldiers to victory and claimed not Paris, but the coronation city of Reims, which stood far deeper into English-held territory. There, Joan stood victoriously under the banner of France as her prince, the Dauphin, was anointed and crowned King Charles VII, demonstrating divine favor and rallying all the divided French subjects under one figure at last. 

Joan of Arc was only active for about a year before she was captured by the Burgundians in 1430 and sent to trial. Her appearance in the war, nonetheless, was the first major shift toward a French victory in nearly a century of conflict. Until Joan entered the fray, the common classes were relatively uninterested in what amounted to a dynastic dispute between powerful relatives for control of the land. It fell to a teenage girl who with no formal knowledge of the art of warfare, or even the ability to read and write, to elevate the French cause to a religious struggle for their very identity. President Hollande can send his entire air force to Syria tonight if that's what it takes to maintain his place in the polls, but until his people can match ISIS blow for blow in zeal for God and their claims to civilization at home and within their hearts, any offensive in the Levant will be as wasteful and frustratingly useless as Napoleon's campaign to subjugate and modernize Catholic Spain. They can bomb the Islamic State into a glass parking lot, and others will simply rise to take their place. Many of them will likely come from within France's own borders
"immigrants, students, between jobs or girlfriends ... looking for new families of friends and fellow travelers. For the most part they have no traditional religious education and are ‘born again’ into a radical religious vocation through the appeal of militant jihad."

In the war for souls, the France of Hollande, of the revolution of 1789 will not win against angry young men with nothing to lose, who believe eternal life awaits them moments after detonation. In the face of annihilation, only the France that once proudly called herself the eldest daughter of the Church will stand triumphant. The French, like the rest of us, must now choose: to submit, to die, or to rediscover the faith and conviction that led Joan of Arc to engage her enemies relentlessly in battle and die bravely at the stake, confirmed in the righteousness of her cause.

The collect for Mass on Saint Joan's feast day (May 30) in the traditional Latin rite gives us this prayer:

"O God, Who didst raise up the Blessed Maiden Jeanne to defend Faith and fatherland, grant to us, we beseech Thee, by her intercession, that Thy Church, overcoming the snares of the enemy, may rejoice in a perpetual peace. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."


This image is illustrated by Theophila. You may contact her on this site to order a print.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski: The Old Mass and the New Evangelization

Last week, I enjoyed some wonderful feedback and correspondence on my article on why we hate beauty from Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a brilliant thinker whose works some of you may have already read on OnePeterFive, the New Liturgical Movement, and so on. He referred me to his lecture on The Old Mass and the New Evangelization, which I highly recommend to my readers as well as an expansion of the ideas I introduced in my aforementioned article!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lessons on manliness, from a medieval knight's own words

The founding of the Order of the Star in 1351, an early and short-lived order of chivalry. These knights were the primary audience of Geoffroi de Charny's Book of Chivalry.
From time to time, I like to read what people on the very opposite end of the political spectrum are thinking about any given subject and seriously try to understand their point of view. A couple of weeks ago, in the aftermath of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, I peered over at an acquaintance's Facebook post on the subject and scrolled through the deluge of diagnoses on why America has become the land of the school massacre. Since everyone commenting on that thread, other than myself, was a radical leftist, the consensus was that Umpqua was a symptom of our nation's oppressive patriarchy and culture of white supremacy. If you're here on my site, chances are good that you share my skepticism of those conclusions; the hard facts force us all to agree, though, that whoever the shooter is or whatever his motive was, it will almost certainly be "his". 98% of the time, an American who goes berserk on an unarmed populace with a firearm will be male.

We seem to be so busy pointing the finger at something we don't like or understand, whether it be mental illness, race, or "gun culture", that we're missing the obvious: that we have a crisis of masculinity. Virtually every mass shooter is a young male who sees himself as a failure of some kind and has, therefore, decided to take his anger out on the society that booked him a one-way trip to involuntary celibacy, lousy employment, and unending pangs of inadequacy. Of course, I'm not the only person who's noticed (feminist columnists such as Soraya Chemaly certainly have). But where where they might prescribe that the only solution to ending our fears of being massacred in a public place is to destroy the idea of masculinity itself, I see just the opposite: that it's precisely the decline of "patriarchy" and the resulting void of duty, responsibility, and rites of passage that turn listless young men into monsters. The surest defense against cowards with guns is not legislation, but raising up a generation of men of virtue and courage to stand against them, as Chris Mintz did in Oregon. 


You can order the book here on Amazon.
Thankfully, as "there's nothing new under the sun", we can turn the pages of history and see what the wisdom of our ancestors has provided in similar times of crisis. In the middle of the 14th century, following France's humiliating loss to England at the Battle of Crécy in the Hundred Years' War, a French knight by the name of Geoffroi de Charny responded to his people's wavering faith in the worth of chivalry and knighthood by writing The Book of Chivalry. This comprehensive guide to a knight's code of conduct was hardly the only such manual of chivalry to have been penned in the Middle Ages, but Geoffroi's book is unique in being, so it seems, the only surviving guide to chivalry by an active knight. Other works passed down the ages were typically written by priests or monks, and while still valuable, tend to be heavy on theory, light on practicality; the warrior caste as idealized (or demonized) by the clergy.

King Philippe Auguste raises the Oriflamme
Geoffroi was not just a real knight and veteran of battles, but was the medieval equivalent of a recruiting poster Marine. Once, when he was captured by the English, Geoffroi's captor actually released him, trusting him to go back home to raise money for his own ransom (which, as far as we can tell, Geoffroi actually did). Another time, he resolved a personal feud he had against one Aimery of Pavia, the English-appointed captain of Calais, by raiding Aimery's castle, kidnapping him, then beheading him for his betrayal. The way I describe it surely makes Geoffroi sound like a brute, but Geoffroi made a sharp distinction between personal and state violence; by targeting only Aimery and not attempting to seize the castle or the city of Calais, Geoffroi respected the truce between French and English forces at that time. And at last, no knight could ask for a more ballad-worthy death in combat than Geoffroi de Charny's. In 1356, at the Battle of Poitiers, King Jean II of France had assigned Geoffroi with bearing the royal standard: the Oriflamme. Not only was this one of the most prestigious battlefield duties (the Oriflamme was originally the banner of the Abbey of Saint-Denis and recurs frequently in literature as having mystical power, like a relic), it was also the most dangerous because it made the bearer a target. So Jean Froissart wrote:
"There Sir Geoffroi de Charny fought gallantly near the king. The whole press and cry of battle were upon him because he was carrying the king’s sovereign banner. He also had before him his own banner, gules, three escutcheons argent. So many English and Gascons came around him from all sides that they cracked open the king’s battle formation and smashed it; there were so many English and Gascons that at least five of these men at arms attacked one gentleman. Sir Geoffroi de Charny was killed with the banner of France in his hand, as other French banners fell to earth."

We know, then, that every word of the Book of Chivalry can be read with the weight of a man who turned words to deeds and went to his death to uphold his code, even while others around him dropped their banners and ran for their lives. I've studied Geoffroi's work over the past few weeks to see what can be useful to worthy men of all stations in 21st century life. It bears mentioning that "chivalry" meant something rather different in the 1300's than today. In common usage, we say "chivalry is (or isn't) dead" solely in reference to some courtesies toward women, but this has as much relation to medieval chivalry as a calendar of inspirational quotes has to the Bible. Geoffroi of Charny was writing about an unspoken ethos for men-at-arms, a "way of the warrior" every bit as encompassing as bushido was for the samurai of feudal Japan. Only a very small portion of the Book of Chivalry actually touches upon the proper treatment of ladies. Naturally, the many portions dealing with tourneys and medieval combat, while interesting, won't have much relevance for the average modern man, so I've decided to extract a few of the equally abundant general principles for conduct below:



On the enjoyment of food and drink

First, Geoffroi has a lot to say about his fellow knights' love of eating and drinking (he was, after all, a Frenchman), which he found gluttonous and dulls a man's readiness to action:
"In addition, the above-mentioned good men-at-arms teach that those who want to achieve honor should not set their minds on the pleasures of the palate, neither on very good wine nor on delicious food, for these delights are very out of place at a time when they are not to be had nor to be found at will, as is usually the case for those who want to seek such honor; and desire for such things makes it more difficult for them to endure, and their hearts and bodies find it less easy to bear the lean fare in food and drink which the quest for such honor requires. A man will be reluctant to risk death who has not learned this, and also a man is reluctant to abstain from such pleasures of eating and drinking who has become accustomed to them. One should take no pleasure in such delights; do not concern yourself with being knowledgeable about good dishes and fine sauces nor spend too much time deciding which wines are the best, and you will live more at ease."

At the same time, Geoffroi is neither an ascetic nor a priest describing the ideals of knighthood from an ivory tower. As with many other things, he says "everything in its place", including food, which a knight may enjoy so long as he avoids excess.
"But if it so happens that you find good food and drink, partake of them gladly and sufficiently but not to excess, for men of worth say that one should not live in order to eat, but one should eat in order to live, for no one should eat so much that he is too full, nor drink so much that he is drunk..... Thus one should not grow sluggish in this way, for the man who for his greedy gullet fails to make a name for himself, should have all those teeth pulled out, one by one, which do him so much damage as to lose him the high honor he might have acquired in his youth."


On games, gambling, and the proper pastimes of men

Geoffroi isn't much for games, but knows that young men will inevitably play them. He focuses instead on cautioning them not to bet high stakes, because when a man does, it no longer becomes play. Geoffroi also goes on to describe ball games as a women's sport that men have wrongly taken from them! Worthy men, rather, should be spending their leisure time on either war games or the arts of singing, dancing, and conversation. How radically the opposite of stereotypical masculinity today, and how odd to think that these words were said by a man who was no stranger to cutting heads from their shoulders!
"One should leave playing dice for money to rakes, bawds, and tavern rogues. And if you are determined to play, do not mind too much about winning, and do not stake too much of your money lest your game turn to anger. The situation is the same for real tennis; women have greatly suffered over this, for ball games used to be women's pastime and pleasure. Yet it should be apparent that the finest games and pastimes that people who seek such honor should tire of engaging in would be in the pastimes of jousting, conversation, dancing, and singing in the company of ladies and damsels as honorably as is possible and fitting, while maintaining in word and deed and in all places their honor and status. All good men-at-arms ought rightly to behave thus, for in such society and such occupations and pastimes worthy men-at-arms make a good start, for glances and desire, love, reflection and memory, gaiety of heart and liveliness of body set them off on the right road and provide a beginning for those who would never have known how to perform and achieve the great and honorable deeds through which good men-at-arms make their name.... Yet fine games are good when there is no anger, but when tempers rise, it is no longer play."


The only thing holding a man back from attaining honor is himself

We now speak of honor as a trait one innately has, but Geoffroi usually speaks of it as a thing that can be achieved by deeds. He also makes it clear that honor is not earned only by knights, but men of all classes or estates.
"Indeed anyone who wants to attain this high honor, if he retains his physical health and lives for long enough, cannot and should not be excused from achieving it, provided he be willing to do what is required and could do well if he does not hang back; and no one should be held to be excused, unless physically prevented, whether for lack of funds or of the will for it. Therefore, you should know for certain that there is no one who can or should excuse himself from performing well according to his station, some in relation to arms, others in relation to the clerical vocation, others in relation to the affairs of the world."


Wealth is no measure of personal worth
"Be sure that you do not despise poor men or those lesser in rank than you, for there are many poor men who are of greater worth than the rich."


A knight must still be cunning

Against the stereotype of the knight without any common sense or discretion, always charging headlong into danger, Geoffroi says:
"And be careful not to be too guileless, for the man who knows nothing, neither of good nor of evil, is blind and unseeing in his heart, nor can he give himself or others good counsel, for when one blind man tries to lead another, he himself will fall first into the ditch and drag the other in after him."


On debating with idiots

This bit is something I should probably take more heed of myself....
"Refrain from remonstrating with fools, for you will be wasting your time, and they will hate you for it."


On the value of true friends
"Do not put too much faith in people who have risen rapidly above others by good fortune, not merit, for this will not last: they can fall as quickly as they rise. And the aforementioned men of worth tell you that fortune tests your friends, for when it abandons you, it leaves you those who are your friends and takes away those who are not."


A warning to plutocrats: don't exploit the poor
"And above all refrain from enriching yourself at others' expense, especially from the limited resources of the poor, for unsullied poverty is worth more than corrupt wealth."


On the true purpose and function of rulers

What is the point of having a king? The modern cynic would say that medieval kings were merely the descendants of those soldiers of fortune who were best at hoarding land and commanding armed thugs to enforce their will. Our presidents, by contrast, are elected to follow the whims of the masses. Contrary to either of these perversions, Geoffroi had quite a different notion of rulership: 
"Now, after all these questions and answers, we must come to the true explanation for the creation of such emperors, kings, and princes of great lands and peoples. You should know that at that time were chosen those who were seen to have good physique, strong, and well equipped to endure hardship of all kinds and to strive for the good government of their people, whether in time of war or of peace. These personages and these lords were not raised up to have great periods of rest nor great pleasures nor great delights, but to endure more and to strive harder than any of the others.... They were, therefore, chosen so that they should not despise any poor people, whether men or women, nor disdain to listen to them, and should treat them more benevolently than they would treat richer men, and as a result, many poor men, on account of their lack of financial means, have failed to achieve by their lengthy endeavors what by right they should have done. They were, therefore, chosen so that they should in no way use bad language nor curse in the name of Our Lord or that of the Virgin Mary or those of the saints, for the higher their rank the more they should make sure that God be feared, loved, served and honored in word and deed wherever they are. They were, therefore, chosen that there might be no idleness in them, lest they might not always devote all their thoughts and efforts to striving on behalf of themselves and their people."



Beware the "holier-than-thou"

This archetype as Geoffroi describes it is less and less prevalent the further we sink into a post-Christian world, but in place of God or gods, we have new idols and standards with which to scrutinize others: dieting, body shaming, fashion, parenting choices, to name but a few. Beware those who adopt airs of sanctimony (whether it has to do with religion or not) as a smokescreen to cover their own faults.
"Some may be held to be in a different way men of worth, that is those who give alms freely and like to be in church and attend mass frequently and say many paternosters and other prayers and fast in Lent and other recommended fasts. But perhaps there are in some of those men less obvious characteristics opposed to the good qualities mentioned above: for example, there may be concealed in their hearts greed or envy of others or hatred or ill will or many other things that detract from a great part of the good characteristics mentioned above. They are held to be men of worth for the characteristics which are apparent in them, but nevertheless one can do better as far as being a man of worth is concerned."



Good and Bad Reasons for Getting Married

Even in an age where marriage for wealth, titles, and position was the norm among men and women in Geoffroi's social circles, the good knight makes it clear that one who marries solely for material concern is attended by devils. 
"Having considered the order of knighthood, it is appropriate to turn our attention to the order of marriage. There are three possible ways of entering into marriage. Some men and women marry when the man has no carnal knowledge of a woman, nor a woman of a man, and they do it more for love than for greed for riches, such a marriage is good in that provides heirs and saves the man and woman from sin. There are some who pay no regard to the person when entering into marriage, but do so out of greed for riches; in the case of those who marry more for gain than for any other pleasure, it is unlikely that any good will come of it, for indeed the devils must be at their wedding. There are some who are widowers, have children, are old, and marry more to keep themselves from sin than to have descendants, nor could they because of their age; these can live fittingly within the order of marriage. It is those who conduct themselves most properly in the order of marriage who live joyfully and pleasantly."


The Order of Priesthood

At last, since some of my friends are discerning a call to priestly service, I thought to post this section, although they might not find it very relatable in the modern Church. Geoffroi's idea of a priest's responsibilities is so far removed from what nearly all seminaries teach today that one can wonder if they're even talking about the same thing. A priest, in Geoffroi's mind, isn't supposed to have to do anything except sing their services, and this still (unlike marriage, knighthood, or religious life) can only be properly taught from a young age! He says nothing about spiritual counseling, community service, or politics whatsoever.
"We could also speak briefly of the worthiest order of all, that of priesthood. In this order, unlike those considered above in relation to entry when young, no one should enter it unless he learns as a youth his service, which he must study and know very well; for there are many who begin so young that they know nothing of it and have no understanding of it, and this can give rise to great dangers. There are also many who do have an understanding of it, but they do not conduct themselves as befits their office; it ill behooves them not to behave properly, in accordance with the worthy office which they have entered upon and which they have undertaken. But there are those who have set their minds to it and know and perform their service well and sing and chant devoutly and know how to behave in a manner befitting the noble estate of an ordained priest.... It is not for them to undertake other duties, and if they behave in this way, they act in keeping with their position as befits their office. They should not have anything to do except say their masses with diligence and devotion, and this office should suffice without learning any other."


Thursday, October 8, 2015

The dangers of selective reading

Even if I don't get around to responding to everyone's comments, I always appreciate your feedback. Though I didn't know it until today, one of my (former?) readers even went so far as to write a whole article on his own blog in response to my Independence Day column on English liberty. I think the fact that his headline is "'Traditional' Catholic advocates mass murder of whites" is proof enough of the dangers of selective reading. I now know how popes feel when their words are taken wildly out of context.

Among other points to be made, the fact that I'm as "white" (Anglo-American, to be specific) as anything else would suggest that, if Hoffman had read my thought correctly, I'd be advocating for my own death.... and suicide, as Catholics know, is a mortal sin. Perhaps, if he had paid closer attention to the greater context, he would know that what I was expressing was my bewilderment at the patience and docility of the black American community to blatant injustices during the 1950's.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015