Sunday 29 August 2021

RORATE CÆLI: Cancelling Pope Benedict: Reflections on a recent article and the “hermeneutic of rupture”

RORATE CÆLI: Cancelling Pope Benedict: Reflections on a recent article and the "hermeneutic of rupture"

Cancelling Pope Benedict: Reflections on a recent article and the "hermeneutic of rupture"

Rorate has received this excellent essay by "A Concerned Priest" and is pleased to share it with our readers. It is one of the best analyses to date of the impossible theological premises on which Pope Francis has enacted his campaign against the survival of the traditional rites of the Church.

Professor Martin Madar has written in La Croix (August 9, 2021) a revealing article concerning the larger project represented by Traditionis Custodes. It bears the title "Pope Francis should correct his predecessor on another point."[0] The project here is one to which all Catholics, especially bishops, should pay close attention because it reveals what is really at stake in the current debates about the future of the traditional Mass. It is not so much the individual author who matters: he stands in for an ecclesiastical party that is very prominent today; were it otherwise, Catholics outside the ivory tower could just ignore this article and others like it.

Thursday 19 August 2021

RORATE CÆLI: The Two Women: Sermon for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

RORATE CÆLI: The Two Women: Sermon for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Two Women: Sermon for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"And Mary said:  'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoiceth in God my savior.'"  (Luke 1:46)

Two women:  so different, yet women, these two women whose role in the destiny of the human race have been pivotal. Their importance transcends that of any mere man who has paraded across the pages of history.  Compared to these two women, pharaohs, emperors, kings, Wall Street whizzes, tech giants:  whatever the power on the stage of history, nothing compares with these two women.  Secular feminism is blind to all of this, for whatever is purely secular is blind to the reality of the spiritual, is blind to that Spirit that blows through humankind from the beginning, that Spirit that brooded over the waters, that Spirit that gave the amorphous lump of clay life and called him Adam.

Two women: our lives, our futures, depend on them.  The first has been consigned by those who claim to know such things to the realm of myth, out of the reach of the real.  But to know how very real this woman was and how very real her stamp on the whole human race, one could not do better than go to the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence and look at the awesome Masaccio frescoes there.  Look on the left, and there, in an unforgettable depiction, is the woman.  She is naked and she walks beside the man.  But it is her face, a face that once seen is never forgotten.  Her eyes are empty sockets; they are black.  And the expression on her face is a grief that is as deep as the universe. Compared to this grief, the grief of the great Greek tragic heroines—Medea, Antigone, Clytemnestra, Iocasta—is nothing.  This woman's grief envelopes all of creation, for it is her act of disobedience that banished her and her man, he who fell no less easily, he who walks beside her in dazed apprehension of what lies beyond the paradise of Eden.  But it is her horror at the darkness that lies before her—this is what leaps out of Masaccio's fresco, not merely because he is a great artist, but because the horror is there.  For what Eve saw in the blackness of her sight was not only pain and anxiety and loneliness and disconnectedness—she saw death.  And she wept the tears of all creation.

The other woman. Go to the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa de'Frari in Venice.  You enter the church by the side, one of the transepts. The church is Gothic, but it is Italian gothic, so different from the gothic of the French and English churches.  But there it is with its pointed arches and its very high nave.  You advance to the opening in the choir screen that separates the nave from the choir of the Friars and the sanctuary and high altar.  But you pause, and you must pause. For what is seen in that opening cannot be approached casually, cannot be looked at as if you were looking at just one painting over the high altar in an Italian church.  And so you walk slowly, and now there is the opening in the screen, and you turn and you look, and there is the amazing painting in the distance that surprises you and takes your breath away, no matter how many times you have seen it in its setting.  You walk through the friars' choir to see the painting more closely.  Where there was darkness in the eyes of the first woman, where was that grief that knows no limit to its depths, where there was that sorrow that knows no end:  here there is light, a light that seems to come out of the very painting that dominates the whole space over the high altar, the altar framed by the screen separating the nave from the sanctuary, earth from heaven.

Whence comes the light?  The light comes from above.  In the Masaccio fresco there is no above, but here the light is intense and from above, and it envelopes the woman.  There are the little angels, the putti, gently guiding the woman in her ascent to the light, in the light. The apostles look up, amazed and yet not surprised, for what else could be expected for the one who as an immaculate Virgin bore God in the flesh—what else could be expected than that she would be borne at the end of her life on earth body and soul into heaven in her totality as a woman.  No disembodied soul this. No this is the woman, clothed in a red so distinctive, so compelling that it bears the name of its creator artist, Titian red, as she looks up, anticipating, knowing the fullness of life, knowing the love of her Son, knowing the love of God that draws her up into the infinity of God, her face open, no false, sentimental piety here, her face open to the light that suffuses her, the light that matches her purity and holiness, the Light that came into the world and the world knew it not, the world that sees with the eyes of the first woman, the world that is blind, the world whose eye sockets are empty, void. 

And yet, it is in this woman full of grace, it is in her assumption into heaven, body and soul, that is seen the destiny of those who see this Light, who are drawn into this Light that is life itself, who live by this Light, those who are in the world but not of the world, those who believe in her Son as the Resurrection and the Life: it is this woman's assumption that those who believe see their own destiny in the Resurrection on the last day.  For as the first woman caused the gates of heaven to be barred, closed, shut, so now this woman not only opens those gates, but makes the possibility of heaven real, real for you, real for me, real for all who are flesh and blood, for all who hear and believe those words: " he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life."

And while it is true that Mary's Assumption into heaven is a singular privilege, for there is no other human being in the history of the world who plays the role she does in our salvation as the new Eve, as the bearer of God, as the mother of the Savior:  what is a fact for Mary, her being in heaven body and soul, as a total person, is what is our hope for ourselves. For it is our resurrection that we look forward to. It is the fruit of our redemption in Jesus Christ who died on the cross in a real body and who rose again on the third day not as a ghost but as the person of Jesus Christ, whose body was gloriously transformed into a body no longer subject to the corruption of death but a body destined to live forever in the glory of God.  What Mary is today in heaven in eternity is what is our sure hope for ourselves, a sure hope founded on faith in Jesus Christ and acted out in the world in a life that is centered on doing the will of God whose own will is that all who do his will shall live.

And to be able to celebrate Mary's Assumption in the Traditional Roman Mass, that Mass that was celebrated in this parish church at its founding and now is celebrated once again in this church in all of its depth and beauty—this gives us such joy today.  Maria assumpta est; in caelum gaudent angeli, collaudantes benedicunt Dominum, alleluia. Mary is assumed into heaven. The angels rejoice and bless God saying:  Alleluia.

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Cardinal Burke's Health | Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Cardinal Burke's Health | Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Cardinal Burke's Health Update

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (Jn 14:27)

The outpouring of love, prayers and support during His Eminence's hospitalization has greatly consoled his family, edified those who serve him at the Shrine and elsewhere, and testified to the character and virtue of the man whom so many consider a spiritual father.  We deeply and abundantly appreciate this charity, and we give praise and thanks to our Heavenly Father, especially for the brilliant and faithful service of Cardinal Burke to the Church he loves so profoundly. 

As of August 17th, His Eminence remains in serious, but stable condition.  His family, who with a team of doctors, is responsible for all medical decisions while the Cardinal remains sedated and on a medical ventilator, has great confidence in the care he is receiving.     The Cardinal has received the Sacraments from priests nearby to him.  There are several relics in his room. 

While the Cardinal's family appreciates the good intentions of those who have suggested treatments, consultations, etc., they ask that people refrain from sending anything further.  They also ask that you not contact them, members of the Shrine staff, or the Cardinal's residence in Rome to discuss his condition.  Texts, phone calls and emails—while certainly solicitous and often gracious—can, inadvertently, become a burden.  The family does not plan to disclose His Eminence's location to avoid the obvious difficulties that might cause.

To provide a secure source for updates about the Cardinal's health, the family has asked that the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe—in addition to the Cardinal's personal media—be the only authorized platforms for accurate, timely information.  Other reports may be incomplete or false and so may unnecessarily disturb the minds and hearts of those devoted to His Eminence.   

The Cardinal's family has also requested that only updates of significant changes in His Eminence's condition be posted on the authorized platforms.  In humility, we understand that it is not necessary for us to know every detail of the Cardinal's treatment.  Though his family realizes that the Cardinal "belongs" to the Church, they also ask that we respect his privacy.  The period of hospitalization, and for now isolation because of the COVID virus, may be prolonged as His Eminence's body fights the infection and recovers strength.  For the time being, the sedation assists his own peace and rest.   

Nothing falls outside of God's providence.  Nothing falls outside the reach of His grace.  These are spiritual truths we know and that the Cardinal has taught us by his own example of fidelity in trust and surrender to the Good God.  Confidence in these truths opens us to the peace the world cannot give or take.  Were he able to speak with us now, he would tell what he has always taught us:  that Our Father in Heaven is good, merciful, just, provident and sovereign; that we are His beloved children and that He will never leave us orphans; that we should not be afraid of the Cross as the way to eternal life; that the Sacraments are the most direct channels of grace and that we do the soul the greatest good by receiving Holy Communion often and by going to Confession regularly; that we should say our daily prayers; and that we should love one another as Jesus Christ has loved us:  generously, even to the point of heroic sacrifice.

And one more thing so important and so dear to His Eminence:  that we should pray the Rosary frequently and fervently, and so place ourselves under the mantle of Our Lady, confident in her maternal love and intercession.

Please continue your prayers for Cardinal Burke and for his family, particularly at the Holy Mass and in the praying of the Rosary.  We are filled with gratitude for the abundance of prayers and love for this faithful son and servant of the Church.

God bless you.

Rev. Paul N. Check

Executive Director

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Sunday 15 August 2021

With the latest attack on the roots of our Catholic identity the Church is one step closer to becoming a punchline. Wherein Fr. Z rants. | Fr. Z's Blog

With the latest attack on the roots of our Catholic identity the Church is one step closer to becoming a punchline. Wherein Fr. Z rants. | Fr. Z's Blog

With the latest attack on the roots of our Catholic identity the Church is one step closer to becoming a punchline. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

From Le Figaro via National Catholic Register… with my emphases and comments… by the great Robert Card. Sarah.

On the Credibility of the Catholic Church

Doubt has taken hold of Western thought. Intellectuals and politicians alike describe the same impression of collapse. Faced with the breakdown of solidarity and the disintegration of identities, some turn to the Catholic Church. [If there were ever a time for the Church to be coherent in her messaging….] They ask her to give a reason to live together to individuals who have forgotten what unites them as one people. They beg her to provide a little more soul to make the cold harshness of consumer society bearable. When a priest is murdered, everyone is touched and many feel stricken to the core. [If you didn't know, a priest in France was recently murdered by an (illegal?) immigrant who also set fire to the Cathedral of Nantes last year.]

But is the Church capable of responding to these calls? Certainly, she has already played this role of guardian and transmitter of civilization. At the twilight of the Roman Empire, she knew how to pass on the flame that the barbarians were threatening to extinguish. But does she still have the means and the will to do so today[It's not looking good.  Not when people like Jeffrey Sachs are on the Vatican short list and the body of Chinese Catholics have been sacrificed to Mammon.]

At the foundation of a civilization, there can only be one reality that surpasses it: a sacred invariant. Malraux noted this with realism: "The nature of a civilization is what gathers around a religion. Our civilization is incapable of building a temple or a tomb. It will either be forced to find its fundamental value, or it will decay."

Without a sacred foundation, protective and insuperable boundaries are abolished. An entirely profane world becomes a vast expanse of quicksand. [This is why there cannot be a "state Church".] Everything is sadly open to the winds of arbitrariness. In the absence of the stability of a foundation that escapes man, peace and joy — the signs of a long-lasting civilization — are constantly swallowed up by a sense of precariousness. The anguish of imminent danger is the seal of barbaric times. Without a sacred foundation, every bond becomes fragile and fickle [At this point you should be chanting Lex Orandi… Lex Credendi… Lex Orandi… Lex Credendi…. Save The Liturgy… Save The World…Save The Liturgy… Save The World….] 

Some ask the Catholic Church to play this solid foundation role. They would like to see her assume a social function, namely to be a coherent system of values, a cultural and aesthetic matrix. But the Church has no other sacred reality to offer than her faith in Jesus, God made man. Her sole goal is to make possible the encounter of men with the person of Jesus. Moral and dogmatic teaching, as well as mystical and liturgical patrimony, are the setting and the means of this fundamental and sacred encounter. Christian civilization is born of this encounter. Beauty and culture are its fruits.  [Change the setting and you change the encounter.]

In order to respond to the world's expectations, the Church must therefore find the way back to herself and take up the words of Saint Paul: "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and Jesus crucified." She must stop thinking of herself as a substitute for humanism or ecology. These realities, although good and just, are for her but consequences of her unique treasure: faith in Jesus Christ.

What is sacred for the Church, then, is the unbroken chain that links her with certainty to Jesus. A chain of faith without rupture or contradiction, a chain of prayer and liturgy without breakage or disavowal. [What was that, again?] Without this radical continuity, what credibility could the Church still claim? In her, there is no turning back, but an organic and continuous development that we call the living tradition. The sacred cannot be decreed, it is received from God and passed on.

This is undoubtedly the reason for which Benedict XVI could authoritatively affirm:

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

At a time when some theologians are seeking to reopen the liturgy wars by pitting the missal revised by the Council of Trent against the one in use since 1970, it is urgent to recall this. If the Church is not capable of preserving the peaceful continuity of her link with Christ, she will be unable to offer the world "the sacred which unites souls," according to the words of Goethe.

Beyond the quarrel over rites, the credibility of the Church is at stake. If she affirms the continuity between what is commonly called the Mass of St. Pius V and the Mass of Paul VI, then the Church must be able to organize their peaceful cohabitation and their mutual enrichment. If one were to radically exclude one in favor of the other, if one were to declare them irreconcilable, one would implicitly recognize a rupture and a change of orientation. [NB] But then the Church could no longer offer the world that sacred continuity, which alone can give her peace. By keeping alive a liturgical war within herself, the Church loses her credibility and becomes deaf to the call of men. Liturgical peace is the sign of the peace that the Church can bring to the world.

What is at stake is therefore much more serious than a simple question of discipline. If she were to claim a reversal of her faith or of her liturgy, in what name would the Church dare address the world? Her only legitimacy is her consistency in her continuity.

Moreover, if the bishops, who are in charge of the cohabitation and mutual enrichment of the two liturgical forms, do not exercise their authority to this effect, they run the risk of no longer appearing as shepherds, guardians of the faith they have received and of the sheep entrusted to them, but as political leaders: commissars of the ideology of the moment rather than guardians of the perennial tradition. They risk losing the trust of men of good will.

A father cannot introduce mistrust and division among his faithful children. He cannot humiliate some by setting them against others. He cannot ostracize some of his priests. The peace and unity that the Church claims to offer to the world must first be lived within the Church.

In liturgical matters, neither pastoral violence nor partisan ideology has ever produced fruits of unity. The suffering of the faithful and the expectations of the world are too great to engage in these dead-end paths. No one is too much in the Church of God!

There is great depth here.

Card. Sarah gives voice to something I have written about for many years now, in the wake of Benedict XVI's "Emancipation Proclamation" Summorum Pontificum.

I think Benedict had a Marshall Plan for the Church in the "modern world".  (BTW… the young Ratzinger was a critic of Gaudium et spes).

After the devastation WWII these USA helped to rebuild Europe in order to foster trade and support a bulwark against Communism.  In the wake of the devastation caused by a hermeneutic of discontinuity after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict tried to revitalize our Catholic identity as a bulwark against the dictatorship of relativism.

The renewal of our Catholic identity requires a realigning of the Roman Rite.  How we pray has a reciprocal relationship with what we believe.  This realignment requires the Traditional Roman Rite.  There is no way around it.  We have to renew our liturgical worship in order to be who we are within Holy Church, so that we can have an impact, as Catholic disciples of the Lord, on the world around us.

The Traditional Roman Rite is an antidote to the secularization of the Church.

Find a bishop or priest who resists, forbids the Traditional Rite, and you find a priest or bishop for whom the Church is an NGO.

If we don't know who we are, no one will pay attention to us or what we might have to offer in the public square.  If we are incoherent, for example giving Communion to radically pro-abortion Catholics, why should anyone pay attention to anything we have to say on any other issue?  Bishops have squandered out moral capital for decades.

Given the demographic disaster that we face, the sinkhole opening up under the Church, we have to face the fact that changes are necessary. Great swathes of "Catholics" will soon disappear.  Those left will be of a traditional leaning together with converts from Evangelical backgrounds and well-rooted charismatics who are enthusiastic about their Faith.  There will be some frictions, but these groups will find each other out of need.  The result, I predict, will be amazing.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the key to the future.

It must become widespread and frequent and beautifully executed.  All attempts to sideline or repress it must be met with firm, humble resolve and resistance.

We need all the devotions and other rites as well.


With the latest attack on the roots of our Catholic identity, Traditionis custodes, the Church is one step, one giant leap, closer to becoming a punchline.

The revitalization for the Church through a restoration of our Catholic identity will require nearly heroic courage from priests.  An alarmed Enemy is fighting back and fighting hard.

Priests will need to work harder than ever to acquire tools that they were systematically cheated out of in their formation.  They will be intimidated.  They will fear that they can't do it.  At first they may have to quietly seek out instruction and then lock their doors to practice. Samizdat. They can do it, but it will take hard work and support from others.  Graces will be given in this undertaking, because the connection of the priest and the altar is fundamental to the Church's life.  No other thing that the priest does is more important.

Priests must also be willing to suffer attacks from libs, many of whom are not malicious but who are blinkered and nearly brainwashed.   There is a parallel, I think, between the way some people in the Church perceive every wafting word from the Umbilicus Mundi in Rome and the way some people wear their COVID masks while riding alone in their cars or riding bicycles.   There is a parallel between the way some people would jail those who don't want "the jab" and the animus of some in the Church for the Traditional Mass.

It all goes to demonstrate how important it is that we shed unhealthy papalotry and preserve our liturgical worship.

The near future is going to require nearly heroic courage and a spirit of sacrifice from lay people who must support their priests and encourage them in projects that they will be reluctant to undertake.  Lay people must also be ready to engage in their parishes and with their priests on a new level.   Remember what  Fulton Sheen said:

"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops."

Remember, friends, that we are our rites.  As the Church prays, so do we believe and live.


Sunday 8 August 2021

RORATE CÆLI: The Witness of the Laity to the Traditional Roman Mass:The Heart of the Matter

RORATE CÆLI: The Witness of the Laity to the Traditional Roman Mass:The Heart of the Matter

The Witness of the Laity to the Traditional Roman Mass:The Heart of the Matter

I received a copy of the letter which follows from a parishioner at the diocesan Parish of St. Pius X, in Fairfield, Connecticut.  The letter was written to the pastor of the parish to express his thanksgiving for the presence of the Traditional Roman Mass in his life and that of his whole family. The letter touched me deeply for its understanding of faith, of Tradition, and the genuine expression of joy in having discovered a pearl of great price in the parish celebrations of the Traditional Roman Mass.  This letter is the best antidote to the harsh and crude Motu Proprio, Traditionis Custodes that was recently published with Pope Francis' signature. Mr. Li is putting into practice St. John Henry Newman's understanding of the "heart of the matter" role of the laity in the Church.  The clergy have their role to play in the struggle to be faithful to Catholic Tradition, at whose heart is the Roman Mass of that Tradition.  But it is the faithful laity who will form the backbone of the effort to shape the future of the Church by regaining an understanding of and love for the Tradition of the Catholic faith.  I hope each of you who reads this letter will send it along to family and friends, especially those who do not know the Beauty that lies at the heart of the Mass of Catholic Tradition.

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla


Dear Father Sam,

I am a parishioner of St. Pius X in Fairfield.  My wife and I received our Confirmations here at SPX, before which we were not Catholic, and our three children were all baptized here. We are young and still growing in our faith. We attend the 9am Sunday Mass regularly with our children, and I make effort to attend daily Mass near work, wherever that might be—most frequently at St. John's Basilica in Stamford. Lisa and I both grew up far removed from the Catholic faith, and we continue to be alone in this faith without our parents' blessing or extended family's participation.   

When I saw the Solemn High Mass at St. Pius three years ago, I witnessed for the first time our priests in a different light, not just as scholars, teachers, or administrators but as God's priests offering properly-ordered prayers and sacrifices on the altar. It was a moving moment in my faith journey. When I heard the Credo III chanted with such reverence, the mysteries of the faith came alive, not in the sense that they became any clearer or more understandable or more articulate, but in the sense that they became more vivid, more intimate, while still remaining a mystery… beyond what words can describe. That, in turn, made all the other Masses I attend daily and weekly take on more weight and meaning. In a paradoxical way, having witnessed the Extraordinary Form only increased and intensified my experience with other forms of prayer and Mass, whether it is at Sunday Mass with screaming children or at a 15-minute morning Mass before work. Knowing and studying the Extraordinary Form draws me closer to all other aspects of the faith, not exclusively the Latin Mass itself. 


I grew up in communist China in the early 90s and experienced the very tail-end of the fallout from Mao's Cultural Revolution when hundreds of millions of people killed each other, all old paintings were destroyed, and old buildings and books were burned to make way for the new and modern. Yet, after all of that, by the grace of God, students continue to be required to memorize at least 300 to 500 ancient poems in a form of classical Chinese that no one speaks anymore. We all asked the same questions when facing that task in school: What is the point of reciting that many thousand-year-old poems about full moons and trees and birds? What is the point of learning and drawing that complex and obsolete Chinese character that describes a river or a piece of rock wall? Today, China feels like that young kid on the block with all its westernized new buildings and shiny modern industries, and it is hard to see China with its own 5000 years of history. It is hard to feel any pride or connection to five centuries of Chinese dynasties when we visit, and it is hard to find any well preserved paintings or artifacts from ancient China. But I can guarantee that when the full moon rises anywhere in the world, millions of Chinese scattered around the globe reach back in time through five little words a poet wrote down hundreds of years ago, and they experience the weight of that tradition and history.

The coolest thing for me when Fr. Sam started to offer Monday and Thursday evening Latin Masses was precisely this sense of reaching back into history. I did not grow up with any Christian traditions, and generations of my family were not even aware of such things. I go to these additional Latin Masses to experience it together with many saints and holy men and women throughout history and to reach far beyond a few decades back, breaking the boundaries of the linear laws of time while remaining firmly in our specific time.

We teach our three young children Latin at home, and I planned offer them the opportunity to attend these evening Masses as a reward when they made notable progress. Frankly, they have absorbed more Latin than I.  When I see my daughters at ages 4 and 5 sing the Salve Regina, I see them decades later when they are grown up, remembering not just the meaning and words of that moment but something special we did together as a family that was very different from day-to-day life, in a different language and in a setting that is set aside from the world in dramatic, obvious ways. I see tremendous grace unfolding over their lifetimes beyond any clear meanings and teachings that were communicated in these words and set prayers, though their sense of wonder and their shared experience with real people who lived generations ago.

We might not look up and wonder about the beauty of the moon every day, but it is wonderful that short poem about that full moon thousands of years ago was not preserved only among a few historians and classical language scholars. Instead, it is still alive for billions of people, passed down through the generations, and no one is deprived of experiencing that beauty and that connection to history.

Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero.