Daily Archives: August 1, 2011

Catholics and Hymn Singing

Interesting blog post of Father Longenecker as to why Catholics won’t sing hymns.

Several explanations are attempted, some of them valid and/or serious, some others made rather in jest.

I would personally say that the reasons are, mainly, as follows:

1. As Father Longenecker points out, most modern hymns are just plain stupid, childish, and ugly. Whenever I am stuck at a mass with such hymns, I am tempted to despair for the human race. It gets a bit better only when I notice that it is always the usual suspects who sing, the others hopefully offering their suffering to the Lord.

2. Hymns singing at Mass is not, as far as I understand it, a very Catholic thing. If it has been fine for Catholics not to sing hymns at Mass for 2000 years there is really no reason why they should do it now. The fact that Protestant love to sing hymns at their own Mass says absolutely nothing in favour of the practice. Rather, I would say that…

3. It is the fundamentally different Catholic understanding  of the Mass that doesn’t match really well with the idea of hymn singing. Catholics just don’t go to Mass to sing. It’s not that they – as Father Longenecker puts it rather doubtingly himself  – “don’t sing hymns because they still don’t know how to participate at Mass”; it is rather that their understanding of their participation at Mass is completely different, because their Mass is completely different, from the Protestant one. Not communal meal, but sacrifice. Not celebration of the community, but stunned silence in front of the enormity of the miracle taking place in front of them. Not loud singing, but reverent silence. Not excitement, but humble kneeling. All this, of course, unless the Catholic Mass is more or less gravely protestantised; but this is another matter altogether, and certainly no improvement.

Of course, at times there is some singing, or at least chanting. At a Latin Sung Mass, the faithful participate in some of the… chanting. The Credo, for example, is chanted by the congregation together with the choir, and many answers are also chanted. But even on these occasions, at the sung parts (the Gloria, say) the choir sings, and the faithful in the pews allow themselves to be uplifted by the music and the atmosphere. Which, if you ask me, is a far more profound participation than the merry shouting of Protestant masses, because in the singing we are protagonists, but in the listening we disappear in our prayers, we are made very humble and very littler by the thundering majesty of the choir; and yet, we feel taken up to hope, and to a world of beauty that is like the down payment of a much bigger beauty to come.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy a good hymn like the next man, and I find that some of the Protestant hymns are really beautiful (a truly stunning example is above). But I am never requested to sing hymns at the Masses I like most (the low and sung high Tridentine Mass; considering the Oratory Sung Mass a Tridentine for the sake of the argument) and I would never think that there is a problem in this.

If you ask me, the lot of this generation is not to try to improve on what our ancestor have done, but to recover it and fully appreciate it again.







Magic Circles, Scandals, and Fishes

This man was Pope for five years only, but what an earthquake! Pope Sixtus V, in the Roman parlance still known as "Er Papa Tosto" ("The Tough Pope")..

Father Ray Blake’s latest blog entry starts with these words:

 It is pretty obvious that the Vatican II experiment has failed!

Obvious. Vatican II. Failed.

Sadly, so many years after one of the most dangerous attempts of the Church to commit suicide in instalments (there have been others; but this one is certainly running for the title of “best effort ever”), we hear these words all too seldom, particularly from priests.

Father Blake points out to the phenomenon of the local allegiances:  local groups perpetuating themselves and putting forward for honours and appointments only those made in their own image, whilst the others are scared into silence or simply ignored.

What can be done, is the natural question. My answers are as follows:

1) Abolish the Bishops’ conferences, and give every Bishop full responsibility for his sheep. The time of happily hiding behind the finger of one not being responsible to deal with a certain issue, because other bishops within the bishops’ conference are responsible for that, must come to an end. Every bishop is responsible, and every bishop must be held answerable. No ifs, and no buts.

2) Punish in a fast and exemplary manner heretical and rebellious bishops; This is sorely, sorely lacking as even under Pope Benedict’s wake, abuses continue to happen every day and a reaction is only visible when there is a vast reaction in the media; and even then, only at times. This is a very, very poor show. I have on my home page an appeal to write to Rome to let an unspeakable scandal of heresy and cowardice end. Six weeks have passed. No one moves. In times of telephone and aeroplanes, of twitter and internet, there can be no justification for this kind of inaction. Every day that this goes on is a new scandal; and every day that Rome tolerates this scandal, the Church of Christ is wounded.

Make no mistake: unless we see some teeth from Rome, nothing is going to change. Not now, not in ten years, not in one hundred years. The system of self-perpetuation of the trendy circles will take care of that. 

3) Demand strictest orthodoxy from everyone, priest or bishop; even before punishing, it must be clear to everyone, even the last deacon, that mutiny is not going to be tolerated. Let those who disobey feel Rome’s whip, fast. If there is not enough staff to adequately control what happens in the dioceses then take on board more, for Heaven’s sake. The money is always there if the will is there, the only thing one must do is to have the right priorities. Do you think the people at Volkswagen dream of saying to their clients that they are very sorry, but there is no money for quality control?

4) Rome must take responsibility. The habit of passing the buck must end. Rome is responsible, because no other organisation in the world gives to his Head so much power as the Church gives to Her; not even dictators, or Japan emperors, or Nazi Fuehrers ever had as much power as a Pope has. Therefore, no President, Head of State, Head of Government, Japan Emperor or German Fuehrer is so clearly, inescapably responsible for widespread abuse, as a Pope is. The fish stinks from the head down.

Please, please let us stop with the usual excuses so readily accepted: “we can’t start to do things right all at once, it would be so traumatic”; “we have no light bulbs for the offices”; “some bishops are so, so wicked”; “orthodoxy? For Heaven’s sake, it will cause a schism!”. If you tolerate abuses, you are an accomplice in them; if you don’t have enough light bulbs, buy some; if some bishops are wicked,  kick them out, as it would happen in every organisation concerned with doing things properly.

5) Far better appointments. A new generation of young, determined, combative bishops must be appointed, and the old system of perpetuation of the old cliques completely and publicly demolished. No more bishops taken from the local queue, but people coming from outside, not compromised with the local power structure, and yearning for a fight with the locals. A generation of largely 35- to 40-years old, completely orthodox bishops relishing the job of crushing the local system of power would do wonders in just a few years. Please don’t tell me there aren’t such people. Among the 60 years old they might be more rare – and I am rather sure they are not so rare -; but among the younger there must be plenty of choice. Look at the blogging panorama, and reflect that this is merely the tip of the iceberg.


Granted, things have evidently improved in some areas; we had great impulses particularly in matter of liturgy; a slow but steady return to what might, one day, be described as sanity and sobriety is to be seen; but as far as governance is concerned we clearly aren’t getting enough leadership. By far not.

When there’s a will there’s a way; if no way is found, is because there’s no will. As long as Rome is weak, the local “circles” will be strong. When Rome becomes strong, the local “circles” will be crushed.

Not happening at the moment, though. Archbishop Nichols has been sent to Westminster by none other than Pope Benedict, and from Westminster he now provides probably more than half of the scandals in the English Church. Some good appointments have been made; but mainly there, where no great opposition from the local “circles” was to be expected; where this happened (say: Wagner, in Austria), the Holy Father’s backpedaling has been plain for everyone to see. No surprise that the trendy circles continue to feel in charge. They feel, because they are. Look at my homepage and see for yourself what is happening in Austria; in Germany and Ireland we might not be that far away, the French bishops are atrocious, in Westminster’s Diocese we have homo masses and an openly “dissenting” Archbishop. I have written about other bishops in Brazil, Australia, Germany. Truly, not nearly enough is happening.

In a time of emergency like this, things will begin to seriously improve (as opposed to noticing that only 990 of 1000 abuses still go on, and rejoicing for the 10 that don’t) when we get a papacy able to tackle the problems with the ruthless  determination of the best Popes of the past, rather than with the softly-softly attitude of the Post Vatican-II ones. Popes like Urban II, Pius V, Sixtus V ate problems for breakfast instead of constantly worrying about the reactions to their deeds. Compared to the slowness of the times – in which even to travel from a part of Italy to another could take weeks; news travelled extremely slowly and were often difficult to check; and the world was, figuratively speaking, immensely large compared to today – these men had astonishing promptness, a wondrous energy, a clear vision of what is expected from a Pope, and a strong will to deliver it.

We need strong Popes like those ones; Popes with a crystal clear determination to do what is right instead of encouraging others to do it; Popes with no time for the constant looking right and left, the constant waiting for a better time, the constant fear of being perceived as too harsh; Popes with no desire to be seen as a good great-aunt but as a loving, strong father.

The fish stinks from the head down.


Crystal Cathedral Not On Sale Anymore. Perhaps. For Now.

Televised in front of a worldwide audience: "The Hour of Bankruptcy".

In a move which, to this cynical eyes, reeks of desperation, the Crystal Cathedral board is going to ask the judge overseeing the creditor’s committee to be given another 120 days to raise the $50m they couldn’t raise in the past 10 months.

Talk of positive thinking!

The business plan looks a bit like this: the money will come from somewhere; the Holy Ghost will provide for this; or we might ask 100,000 people to donate 500 dollar each, and Bob’s your uncle.

Look, 100,000 x 500 = 50,000,000. What can go wrong?!

Good luck with that, folks, and congratulations for the nerve. You’re lucky I am not the judge in question, though.

Far from me to wish a Proddie church to grow and prosper, further spreading error; but if the judge allows them further 120 days for this outlandish plan, this might persuade the Diocese of Orange to let the project be, listen to the voice of reason, abandon the idea of buying a protestant temple on the cheap and focus instead on building an authentically Catholic Cathedral. A building made as God intended, built with patience (a virtue) and faith (another virtue), and then able to serve Catholics for many centuries to come.


Don’t Expose Heresy, Says Catholic Writer

Beware of imitations.

Vittorio Messori is, or so they say, the world’s most translated Catholic writer. He is certainly rather well-known in Italy.

Messori is linked with the Medjugorje “phenomenon” (the “pastoral” word for scam, and fraud), and he travelled there already at the beginning of the apparitions. Messori now tells us that he is very worried for the fact that the Vatican is investigating the facts.

First of all, let me say that I cannot escape the impression that Messori senses – as every sensible person – that Rome is finally going to drive over Medjugorje with the steamroller.

One is worried for the loss of something he cares about. I am **not** worried about Medjugorje, because I don’t care for heresies, lies and deception. Does he?

Messori’s “worries” are as follows:


“Whatever will be the decision of the Holy See, the damage will be severe”.

What? Truth causes “damages”? Since when? Has a damage been done when, say, Arianism was uprooted?
The decision of the Holy See will put an end to the circus. Can’t imagine any better decision than this. The damage is being made now, every day.


If the International Commission of Inquiry, presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, will end up ruling on the non-authenticity of the apparitions, if it made a statement of deceit, misunderstanding, perhaps of cheating, for pastoral care it would be a disaster”,

More of the same. Truth is a disaster for “pastoral care”. The sheep are stupid, you see; therefore, they can’t be asked to face the truth. And the sheep would apostatise, therefore it’s better to leave them in, with heretical beliefs and all. More “pastoral”, you see. Let us leave them in their illusions, and heretical persuasions, and let them believe in these extremely strange Blessed Virgin who changes her mind about her apparitions, thanks you for listening to her, apologises to you, asks you to pray for her intentions, says that all faiths are equal, talks to self-confessing liars, greets them saying “blessed be… Me”, says that a former Franciscan who has impregnated a nun and continues to celebrate mass after being forbidden is rather fine, and the bishop condemning him rather harsh; says to the faithful that they must disobey a bishop. I could go on.


I have met and continue to meet so many people who have changed and for whom Medjugorje is the center of their experience of faith: What would you say to them?

How about giving to the poor deluded souls answers such as : 1) that I thought that the center of one’s experience of faith were supposed to be Jesus and the Holy Church, not a sentimental wannabe new theology -cum-live-apparition; 2) that they are worshiping a golden calf in frontal confrontation with the Church founded by Christ, are or were able to follow a chap able to impregnate a nun, and think that the Blessed Virgin says that the faithful should disobey to the Bishop;  3) that people can change for the better for a number of reasons; say, because they have come into contact with Mormonism, or with the Salvation’s Army; but this doesn’t make either any less wrong; 4) that I question anyway any change that doesn’t lead to Christ, but away from Him. “The fornicating, nun- impregnating Franciscan is right, the bishop chastising him is wrong; the seer are liars but the Blessed virgin says that they are very good”. Hhmm…… if these are the good fruits I’ll have the bad ones, thanks….

These answers are just what I came up to in a couple of seconds. I am sure dozens of more arguments can be made.


But if the ruling turns out otherwise, it would still be a serious problem. Canon Law states that the local ordinary, that the Bishop is responsible for the investigation of the truth or non-truth of these cases. And it is known that in the case of Medjugorje, the two bishops (Pavao Zanic and his successor, Ratko Peric, ed) have expressed themselves strongly and without hesitation against the authenticity of the apparitions.

The argument doesn’t stand and appears rather disingenuous:
a) A Pope can always override a bishop in such matters, and this is why not even the FSSPX would see a problem in the Vatican decision to investigate Medjugorje thoroughly and, in case (and I am laughing out loud here) to express a different opinion regarding their authenticity.
b) Messori is certainly aware that the Vatican is acting not because they have any doubt about the bishops of Mostar being right, but because they are rightfully fed up with the continuous existence of this scandalous, dismal, obscene, heretical circus existing only to extract money out of people of little faith, and big credulity.
c) Messori must know that the Vatican had already announced a thorough investigation when the apparitions cease; their decision to act is therefore nothing new.  The only new element is that they have decided to act before waiting for the end of the apparitions because, very conveniently, the latter do not want to cease.

Yes, Medjugorje will never be a danger for Christianity, like Arianism once was; its own stupidity and all too apparent flaws will see to it that only a minority of very gullible people, desperate for apparitions, will continue to follow the “seers”. But frankly I don’t think that this is a reason not to act, and I’d say that the Vatican has left things go for long enough already, and that now it is really time to put an end to this.

If the bishop is not believed, then the Pope will have to be believed. If the Pope is not believed, then very harsh words will have to be spoken. If even the very harsh words are not enough, may God have mercy on those souls.

Make no mistake, the devil is behind this and his harvest will – after decades of failing to tackle the problem decisively – be abundant.

But that this be a reason to let the heresy go on undisturbed is something that only the emasculated stupidity of these post V II-times could generate.


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