Daily Archives: November 14, 2012
The recently rediscovered attention towards meatless Friday is the occasion of a couple of sad reflections.
Once upon a time, there was obligatory penance on Friday, and it was obligatory that this penance had to be in the form of not eating meat.
In an immortal scene of the “Don Camillo” film series, said Don Camillo is surprised involuntary trespassing in the home of simple peasants, and with usual nerve says “today is Friday, have you eaten lean (meaning: no meat)?” “Yes, Reverendo”, answers the poor confused chap…
It was really important, and eating meat on a Friday a grave matter.
Then V II came and, as everything V II, it proceeded to sabotage everything that is Catholic without saying so. The friday penance was not officially killed, no it wasn’t… it was merely substituted with another penance of choice. No more Friday inconveniences, we are now in a new era…
Predictably, the “penance of choice” became “no penance”, then when those at the top start showing that they don’t care, it is rather seldom that those at the bottom do. But notice this: a Catholic practice was killed by the clergy, who saw it die without moving a finger.
Now, if the V II NuChurch had been not entirely interested in penance through meat, but still interested in Friday penance, then they would have reacted to the evident deterioration of the practice by constantly hammering the necessity of Friday penance. Did they do it? Did they? Why not?
They didn’t do it because they wanted the practice to die, that’s why. But – in pure Vatican II style – they wanted the practice to die without officially saying so. Protestantisation on the sly, whilst pretending to continue to follow Catholic customs: this is, in a nutshell, the description of 50 years of V II practice.
This course is pursued – though nowadays in a less brainless way – to this day. Here and there, there are slow signs of partial change, and traditional practices are recovered more and more in everyday life. It is not difficult to notice rosaries in church, vespers, quarant’ore etc. starting to spread again. But this is the result of a widespread popular desire for such practices which finds an echo in good and committed priests, rather than the result of a planned offensive from the Vatican. Alas, the Vatican is still such, that five years after Summorum Pontificum the Holy Father hasn’t found an occasion to publicly celebrate a Traditional Mass himself (“ah” – some say – “but apparently he does it in private”. “Apparently?””In Private?” Really? How useful! A true push toward the recovery of the Mass of the Ages!). He will do it one day, of course; and of course, it will be saluted as a huge event; but in reality it will be just another bit of fodder thrown to the conservative pigeons (like Summorum Pontificum, almost dead letter five years later; or Anglicanorum Coetibus, for which the “almost” seems rather generous), before things are carried on in the usual way; nay, so that things can be carried on in the usual way.
Isnt’ it ironic that the Church still pretends to celebrate the imaginary “achievements” of Vatican II in the year that saw the US Catholics – particularly Latinos – give a massive support to the
most anti-Catholic (and in general, most Nazi) President of the United States in living memory?
The mentality that gave us the “free penance Fridays” in order for the penance to be forgotten is the same that created the abortionist Catholics and the “conscience” heroes, focusing strongly on (convenient) social issues in order for the Church teaching in matters of abortion, contraception and sexual morality to be (conveniently) forgotten. This was not an unexpected result of the activity of the Western clergy; this was exactly what most of them wanted. Had it not be that way, the revolt would have started decades ago. But no, we were left with the almost complete death of Friday penance, under the pretence of the practice still being in place; and with two generations of contracepting, divorcing and aborting Catholics, under the pretence this is, erm, well, still an important issue, but you can vote for the killing machine anyway… .
How very Vatican II.
As the thing seems to be in the headlines again (Cardinal Dolan seems to have picked this in his effort to reestablish a good reputation), please allow me to say a couple of words about meat abstinence on a Friday.
I started again sometime in, if memory serves, early 2011, and was somewhat lucky a couple of months later the UK bishops announced the reintroduction of this beautiful “obligatory” Friday penance for all of the Kingdom. I had difficulties at first, because being single and rather forgetful I ended up forgetting rather often; but I insisted, as I was desirous to recover for myself another small piece of the beautiful Catholic world V II had taken away from me and had been part of the life of so many generations before this disgraceful one.
In time, I forgot less and less, and now I do not forget (almost) anymore.
The beauty of the exercise is that, like many other Catholic practices, it shapes one gently but irresistibly. I now have to plan my groceries in advance for the Friday, and must stop and think what day is it much more often. This way, the sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary becomes more and more of a daily recurrence, something present in many small activities of the day, “sneaking” into your consciousness with far bigger frequency.
Then there are the times when it’s uncomfortable, like when you go out with friends on a Friday and are the only one not to choose that succulent steak everyone else is enjoying. This is the most useful time, because it reminds me that though He died on the cross for me, I still manage the feat of considering it a problem to pick the vegetarian plate instead. I assure you the shame that follows helps one to miss the steak a lot less.
Catholicism is made of many small things, gestures, habits. They may seem trivial at first sight, but in time they truly help us to get in spiritual shape. It’s like in many other spheres of our daily activity, where we can easily observe that – say – the best way to lose weight is to slowly change habits, and wait for time and patience to work their magic.
Sinner as I am, I pray that Christ may allow me, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, to slowly change my habits. Friday penance is a little, but effective way to do so.
How stupid was the generation who abandoned Friday abstinence from meat (together with many other salutary practices) as “old” and “out of touch”.
The old generations, they really got what is important in life. We have managed to land on the moon, and don’t think about Salvation anymore.
My suggestion is: don’t wait for the Cardinal, and start your own meatless Friday now.
In time, you’ll see how good it is for you.
And so Cardinal Dolan is now trying to recover face after the shameless electoral help given to Obama, certainly in the hope that he will guffaw his way out of an utter loss of face with a couple of edifying exhortations, like the one to go to confession.
All very fine of course, if to the cynical eyes of yours truly this wouldn’t smell of a smoke screen aimed at letting us forget what a sell-out the Cardinal was until some days ago.
After his shameless betrayal of every pro-life decency (and make no mistake, he did it to stay in the graces of the man he thought would win; that’s why he did it; he is the kind of man who doesn’t refuse to help… the winner…) the very minimum the Cardinal can do now is to signal that he will defy a jail sentence (like some of his colleagues are already starting to do; Archbishop Lori of Baltimore comes to mind, and Bishop Conley of Lincoln) rather than bow to the HHS mandate.
Cardinal Dolan is the Numero Uno of the US Catholics, and a successor of the Apostles; he should remember his duty to fight the good fight, and the consequences he must be able to bear in consideration of the habit he wears. It now behoves him to stop guffawing already and start showing whether he is, as the immortal Alessandro Manzoni would say, an iron or an earthen vase.
I for myself am not ready to give sell outs any credit, unless and until they start to deserve it. Even if they happen to wear a red hat.
Enough of whitened sepulchres.
I have glanced a couple of articles today describing Mark Thompson as a “practising Catholic” and fuelling some hopes about his editorial behaviour in his new position. I must say I had to smile; in case you should think Mark Thompson, the new CEO of the New York Times, is a person vaguely approaching decency as far as Christian values are concerned, I suggest you abandon every hope now.
As a resident of the United Kingdom, I have witnessed for years the relentless anti-Christian bias and utter enmity of basic morality this man incarnates. I have written a couple of blog posts about the Beeb, but the examples are truly countless.
This is a man who led an organisation who refused to call the 7 July bombers (more than 50 dead) “terrorists”, preferring “fighters” in pure Osama Bin Laden style. This is also the kind of person who uses double standards for Islam and Christianity and defends his choice, whilst calling himself a “practising Catholic.
The examples are really countless. I haven’t noticed any improvement in the last years. The contrary is the case. The BBC is the aider and abetted of everything that is perverted in this country. Starting from their own corridors, as it is now well known…
On the other hand, how could anyone expect that the NYT would suddenly accept a Christian ( I mean a real one) as commander in chief? It would be more likely that Obama converts to Christianity.
Make no mistake, the NYT will continue to be as bad in future as it was in the past; the only difference might be dome attempt to masquerade as “Christian” the one or other satanic fad. Hey, he says he is a “practising Catholic”, doesn’t he now…