Friday, May 26, 2006

not the whole truth

An earlier post in this blog reports that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED) "affirms, over and over again, that the Fraternity of St Pius X and its attendees are not excommunicates".

That short statement cannot be said to be telling the whole truth of the matter according to the PCED (if you accept its authority and competence, of course). Here it is:

(1) The Bishops consecrated without Papal Mandate in 1988 are excommunicated by virtue of Pope John Paul II's motu proprio "Eccelsia Dei".

(2) The priests of the SSPX are under the penalty of suspension, and hence not to exercise their priestly functions.

(3) In view of (1) and (2) and many other factors, the PCED does not recommend that the laity attend the Masses offered by the SSPX.

(4) No laity who attend the Masses offered by the SSPX have the canonical penalty of excommunication automatically applied on them.

(5) The laity who do find themselves at the SSPX anyway are not in sin if they attend out of a devotion to the old rite.

Because of points (1) and (2), point (3) does not prejudice (5). I dare to say that ignore point (3) at your peril. Its like entering the enclosure of wolves in a zoo, borrowing an analogy from InfernoXV. Most people shouldn't and must not enter (Point(3)) - but if you insist on going anyway, be very sure you understand the wolves very well (ie. remember points (1) and (2)) and know when not to touch them. Essentially, entering the wolves' enclosure is for zookeepers.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

thoughts on von Hildebrand

Time to get my thoughts down. Have been pondering over this for the past few months. There will be more to come.

I think D. von Hildebrand says it all when he says that two immediately evident responses to the crisis (for want of a better word) faced by the church are false alternatives, namely to either (1) reject in whole or in part the second vatican council or (2) to go along with the so-called "modernization" of the Church (putting it in my own words).

In Christendom today, we see many examples of (1) and (2), both claiming that their response is the right one in light of challenges faced today. At risk of making sweeping statements, I dare say that (1) fetishizes the past, while (2) fetishizes the secular world. (1) compares the dreary present to an imagined beautiful past, while (2) happily adopts the imagined wonderful secular present and rejects the imagined dreary past. I'm still speaking in general terms, and I could give many examples of (1) and (2), but time is limited at the moment - maybe later.

It seems to me that D. von Hildebrand makes it clear that the right response is not a middle way between (1) and (2), but rather a third way which rises above the two. The third way is simply to have faith in Christ's promise of the indefectibility of the Church.

A cursory glance at the history of the Church will find that there never has been a time when the Church has not faced problems. The solution to these problems has never been to reject or to disobey lawful authority given by Christ himself, nor to compromise on matters of faith and morals laid down by him. The solution is simply for each of us to be Christian, in the true and full sense of the word. Each of us does what little we can do as His instruments, and what we cannot change, we leave it to prayer and the hope that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church. We're not perfect, but we keep on trying.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Quoting Dante

E'n la sua volontade è nostra pace

(And in His will is our peace)

The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, Canto III, line 85

The Orthodox Monk and the Dominican Friar

There's the story of an Orthodox monk who lived next to a scholastic Dominican friar.

One day, after dinner, the friar was examining his fork. In true scholastic fashion, he tried to understand the nature and essence of a fork by stripping it down to bare minimals.

"This has 4 tines... if I remove one, leaving 3, will it still be a fork? YES! It picks up food still!"

"This has 3 tines... if I remove one, will it still be a fork? After all, it still pokes and picks up food..."

Finally, with one tine left, and finding that was the bare minimum he needed, he was excited at his discovery and went next door to the Orthodox monk to share his discovery.

"The essence of a fork is a toothpick; for even a toothpick is able to do what a fork does!"

The Orthodox monk, of course, looks very oddly at the scholastic. He says, "The essence of a fork is that it is here to feed us and sustain us so that we may give glory to God - we're better off glorifying God than to try and pick apart the essence of a fork."

They both went back to their houses thinking, "I don't understand this guy..."

Monday, May 15, 2006

ROCOR reunites with Moscow Patriarchate

This topic may or may not belong to this blog, but it definitely deserves a comment!

Слава Богу! Unity! Communion!

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has returned into communion with the Moscow Patriarchate after 79 years!

Monday, May 08, 2006

"their experience will make them value ever more the importance of being in full communion with the Successor of Peter"

From the Archdiocese of Bombay comes a letter by His Eminence Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos. Whether the seminary in Australia truly harbours a "separatist mentality" or not (beyond the testimonies of the three seminarians who left), time will tell.



No. 260/91 Rome, 24 February 2006

Your Eminence,

I wish to acknowledge with gratitude your kind letter to me of 5 February 2006 regarding the return to your flock of three seminarians who had left your Archdiocesan Major Seminary in 2002 to enter to the seminary of the Society of St Pius X in Goulburn, Australia. I am particularly appreciative of the memoranda by these seminarians which you have enclosed and I rejoice with you that they have responded to the grace to return to the fullness of the Catholic faith and life in India. I am very pleased to know that they have found in Your Eminence a paternal welcome back to the bosom of the Catholic Church and I pray that their experience will make them value ever more the importance of being in full communion with the Successor of Peter.

The testimony of these seminarians gives reason for great concern about the separatist mentality which surrounded them in the seminary in Goulburn and which they finally had the grace to reject. I sincerely hope that it will be possible to save their vocations. Their testimony could be a powerful apologetic argument in favour of Catholic unity.

I believe that in dealing with these seminarians, Your Eminence has found a sound way to proceed in any similar cases in the future.

Grateful to your kindness in sharing this information with me and assuring you of my sentiments of fraternal esteem, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Greek Catholic Worship... a Ukrainian village church (in two parts).

Part One

Part Two

"The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad." - St Francis de Sales

The time is coming when people will be seized by manias and will behave like madmen. And if they see anyone acting reasonably, they will rise up against him saying: ‘You are insane’. And they will have accurately said this to him, for he will not be like them.

Abba Antonios

Thursday, May 04, 2006

it is full of hope that the Church will triumph

I'll let the words of an eminent philosopher speak. From Trojan Horse in the City of God, by Dietrich von Hildebrand, 1969. Chapter 1. What is the Latin word for Trojan anyway?

The distortion of the authentic nature of the Council ... expresses itself chiefly in the false alternatives between which we are all commanded to choose: either to accept the secularization of Christianity or to deny the authority of the Council.


But these are false alternatives; for there is a third choice, which welcomes the official decisions of the Vatican Council, but at the same time emphatically rejects the secularizing interpretations given them by many so-called progressive theologians and laymen.

This third choice is based on unshakeable faith in Christ and in the infallible magisterium of His Holy Church. It takes it for granted that there is no room for change in the divinely revealed doctrine of the Church. It admits no possibility of change except that "development" of which Cardinal Newman speaks in the explicit formulation of what was present in the faith of the Apostles or of what necessarily follows from it.


This is simply the Catholic position. It rejoices in any renewal that enlarges the "instaurare omnia in Christo" and brings the light of Christ in added domains of life.


The response that we have been describing involves grave concern and apprehension over the present invasion of the life of the Church by secularism. It considers the present crisis the most serious one in the entire history of the Church. Yet it is full of hope that the Church will triumph, because our Lord himself has said:" And the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."