See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston RIP




A star is dead. 

Our Lady of Lourdes... "so that goodness might overcome our guilt and grace supplant our sin."



Fragrant is the scent of your perfume, Immaculate Virgin. Let us follow in your footsteps.

From the Song of Songs2:10-14; 8:6-7

Mary, the beautiful one

My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.

RESPONSORY

R. Like a thorn which has borne a rose, Eve gave birth to Mary * so that goodness might overcome our guilt and grace supplant our sin. (E.T. Alleluia)

V. The Lord willed this for our greater glory * so that goodness might overcome our guilt and grace supplant our sin. (E.T. Alleluia) - Little Office of the BVM of Mt. Carmel

Years ago when I visited Lourdes I understood what joy is.  Real, interior joy seemed to be Our Lady's gift to me.
"So that goodness might overcome our guilt and grace supplant our sin."

Obama and the HHS mandate...



I'm not a news portal - obviously - so I haven't written much if anything regarding the most recent dictatorial power grab by the Obama Administration to limit religious freedom in and through the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.  It is all over the news and I have nothing to add, except to say:

  • I'm against it: The mandate and the policies of the immoral Obama Administration.
  • I stand with the Bishops of the Catholic Church.
  • Obama can not and should not be re-elected.

To borrow something I found at WDTPRS:
We belong to the Church militant ; and she is militant because on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass her destruction. - Pius XII
As well as good advice from a less commercial source:
 "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one."

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints...." (Eph. 6:13-18)

That exhortation from St. Paul begins with the reminder of where our real strength is found, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." (Eph. 6:10]

So what orders does this soldier all dressed for battle receive? Pray. Pray at every opportunity. Pray, calling upon the Holy Spirit who took up residence in you at your baptism to guide and anoint your prayers.

And the enemy would love nothing more than to convince us that prayer and the grace poured out are of no use.

Of course, we need to continue to herald the truth of the faith at all times, in all places everywhere. The Church is not just the conscience of the world, but the true home of the whole human race. We are simply sharing messages from that home.

We also need to continue to actively lobby and work for those causes that are right and true and honoring to our Lord and His Church.

Yet we must also pray - or should I say foremost, we must pray. -  Catholic Online

This is interesting, click here.

Levitating priest...



Wait!  Don't run away!

I finished my painting, Levitating Priest.  I will have to photo it and post it - maybe this weekend.  I think it may even be suitable for framing, as they say on TV.

Art:  Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni), The Blessed Ranieri Rasini Freeing Poor People from Prison in Florence, 1437–1444.

Consent.




Why is the concept of consent so very important to the homosexual movement?

That question came up in one of my com boxes the other day.  Apparently it is something of a doctrine for people in same sex relationships, or at least a free pas to promiscuity.  I will be looking at some of these issues over the weeks to come as they relate to the issue of same sex marriage and the promotion of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.  (I support the amendment by the way.)

Homosexual Ideology: An Example
David Thorstad, spokesman for the North American Man/Boy Love Association, has attempted to articulate an ideology of homosexuality which reflects the needs not only of pederasts but of all homosexuals.  Thorstad's system includes the following components:
1) Sex.  In all its forms, sex is good so long it is consensual.  Specifically, homosexuality is good for those who practice it: "NAMBLA takes the view that sex is good, that homosexuality is good not only for adults, but for young people as well.  we support all consensual sexual relationships regardless of age.  as long as the relationship is mutually pleasurable, and no one's rights are violated, it should be no one else's business."

The concept of right immediately introduces legal, political, and, ultimately moral considerations. 
[...]
2) Children's liberation.  The concept of liberation is central to the homosexual ideology... For the homosexual movement, liberation entails the ability of all homosexuals and their partners to be free of all external and internal constraints in the pursuit of pleasure. - The Homosexual Network (1982) Rueda

I can't re-write the entire book, but I simply want to demonstrate how the idea of consent legitimizes all sorts of sexual depravity - even infidelity within same sex partnerships in the creation of open relationships as well as shared sexual encounters within a relationship.  Certainly such aberrations occur in opposite sex marriages, nevertheless, marital infidelity remains a societal and cultural taboo, if not grounds for divorce.  I stress this point because it demonstrates a very key distinction in the definition of same sex marriage, which in and of itself is a redefinition of traditional marriage.

To illustrate this entry, I'm also posting the trailer for the documentary, Chris and Don.  Christopher Isherwood (Cabaret, A Single Man) and Don Bachardy have become the poster couple for Hollywood's version of gay marriage.  They were not actually married, and never would have wanted to be, according to Don - who sees no need for a piece of paper to define their relationship, although he's all in favor of gay marriage for those who want it.  Going forward, I will be discussing their decades long relationship - which began when Don was still a teen and Christopher was 30 years his senior.  Talk about man/boy love, and later, their very open relationship - so inappropriate as an example of a stable marriage.  While their friendship is genuine and withstood the test of time, and is deeply moving on some level - especially at the end of Chris' life, it can never be held up as an ideal or model to aspire to for any one - consenting or not. 

Disclaimer:  Normal people do not know this stuff - which is why they think nothing is wrong with same sex marriage.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Women of The View: Don't have a clue.



Deluded Divas.

Earlier this week I actually watched - in unbelief - the women of The View discuss the issue of a woman being required to view an ultrasound of her baby before choosing to abort the child.  Their misplaced compassion for the mother was indeed incredible, but what really struck me is their obvious denial of the good work connected with the pro-life movement.  Especially as Whoopi went on a rant describing how all those picketers tell these poor girls they shouldn't get an abortion, but none of those picketing steps up to say, "We'll take your baby."  "We'll take care of you and help you." 

Is she nuts?  She was raised Catholic, she knows the Catholic Church is in the forefront offering help to pregnant women.  Catholic organizations beg women to have their children, promising help - money, food, clothing, shelter, and and even offering to take the child, providing adoption services, and so on.  Lapsed Catholic Joy Behar is just as bad  - they all know the Church offers to help and will take the child - no questions asked...
JOY BEHAR: It’s very totalitarian in my opinion. I mean, it smacks of forcing somebody to confront something that they have already decided they don’t want to deal with.
The liberal women on The View, Wednesday, shrieked at the “totalitarian” decision by a Texas judge to uphold a law requiring women to look at an ultrasound before having an abortion. Co-host and journalist Barbara Walters found the legal ruling– and not the act of abortion itself– to be “heartbreaking.”

Regarding the ruling, left-wing comedienne Joy Behar spewed, “It’s very totalitarian in my opinion. I mean, it smacks of forcing somebody to confront something that they have already decided they don’t want to deal with.” Rather than focus on the actual abortion, Walters lectured, “Then to have to go and be forced to hear, to see the fetus, to hear the heartbeat, to put more guilt on you, I think is heartbreaking.”

Walters continued, declaring that the decision to “give up a child that is obviously unwanted… is such a tremendous decision, it’s involved with so much fear of what you’re doing and guilt.”

It was left up to token conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck to make some obvious points, noting that if you were going to have “a cyst removed or tooth extracted…you would never go through any medical procedure without looking at an ultrasound, seeing an X-ray.”

As for Behar’s definition of “totalitarianism,” she’s apparently unaware that in many communist and actual dictatorial countries, women are forced to get abortions. - Finish reading here.

Blind guides.   

On the Sacrament of Matrimony.



Did you know...

The ministers of the sacrament of matrimony are the man and the woman - the priest is the witness authorized by the Church to present and bless the union of a man and a woman.  Therefore, a Roman Catholic priest could never witness, much less bless the so-called 'union' of a same sex couple.  Precisely because it cannot and does not exist.  It's really very simple.
1601 "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."[84]
1602 Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of "the wedding-feast of the Lamb."[85] Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its "mystery," its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal "in the Lord" in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church.[86]
[...]
1631 This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form. Several reasons converge to explain this requirement:[132]
- Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church;
- Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children; - Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is necessary (hence the obligation to have witnesses);
- The public character of the consent protects the "I do" once given and helps the spouses remain faithful to it. - Catechism of the Catholic Church
I urge readers to read and study and reflect upon what the Catechism teaches in order to understand why there cannot be such a thing as same sex marriage.  In the future, if civil law makes provisions for such a thing, it can never be permitted or recognized by the Church. 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Solomon and 'inculturation'.



Priest and prophet forage in a land they know not.

Today's first reading at Mass is about how Solomon turned to idols - goddess worship - he built a temple to Astarte.  In fact he built temples to other gods for his foreign wives to offer sacrifice and perform their rituals and devotions to honor their gods.  God was not pleased.

What is so significant about this is that Solomon was a wise and holy man - the wisest of men.  God had actually appeared to him twice.  We know Solomon was a learned, holy man, a mystic, with great power, yet he was duped and turned to idols.  If that can happen to a man as great as Solomon, how easily can we be misled by dubious mystical experience and spiritual novelties.

'They served their idols, which became a snare for them.' - Psalm 106

Delusion doesn't simply affect the pseudo nuns who have fallen for goddess worship, nor the formation directors and retreat masters who employ the Enneagram and such things to discern and train:  Even the 'holy' ones (contemplatives) amongst us can be deceived and led astray by their personal visions and voices.  Others do so with their novel interpretations of theology and efforts at 'inculturation'.  Always in need of 'financial support', they will take your money - and your soul if you let them.  As one writer puts it:  "Stop anointing Folk Heros as alternative magisteria."  Works for me.

"In the last days terrible times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion, but denying its power." - 1 Tim. 3:1-5

Art:  Solomon and His Wives.

More trouble for self- proclaimed mystic, Vassula Ryden



This just in:
Just when one kerfuffle over the automatic-writing mystic Vassula Ryden is announced, along comes another. 
Now the Orthodox Church of Cyprus issued a statement about her on January 13.  The Synodical Committee for Matters of Heresy warned:
In reality, her teachings are heretical, and her claims that she communicates directly with Christ are fantastical and outside of the spirit of the experience of the Church. - Source


I'm sure devotees and followers will not be deterred by this news however.  

Photo:  Vassula at General Audience. 

h/t Paula

Washington State Falls...


Opening the way to same sex marriage.
Washington state legislators approved same sex marriage Wednesday.  Same sex couples will not be able to tie the knot until 90 days after the Governor signs it into law - although opponents hope to get enough signatures to counter with an anti-same sex marriage bill to block legalization.  If that happens today's decision would be placed on hold - and it doesn't take much intelligence to realize the stage is set for appeals and counter appeals until who know when.

I was surprised to find out Washington state has had domestic partner legislation since 2007.  Obviously it isn't enough for gay people, who are not satisfied with equity but rather demand equality.  In other words, their goal is to redefine marriage.

Churchmen who harbor the mistaken notion that civil unions and domestic partnership allowances are the way to save marriage better wake up.  It will never stop there.


Things would never have come this far if traditional marriage had been protected and defended throughout the 20th century.    



Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita



"Our Black Mother"

I know many conservative people dismiss the idea of Black History Month, nevertheless the commemoration exists in the U.S..  I personally think it is a good idea and is a wonderful way to commemorate the saints, one of them being St. Bakhita, a former slave from Sudan, moved to Italy.
St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869. This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery, bloomed marvelously in Italy, in response to God's grace, with the Daughters of Charity, where everyone still calls her "Mother Moretta" (our Black Mother").

Bakhita was not the name she received from her parents at birth. The fright and the terrible experience she went through made her forget the name her parents gave her. Bakhita, which means "fortunate", was the name given to her by her kidnappers.
Sold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum, she experienced the physical and moral humiliations and sufferings of slavery. In the Sudanese capital, Bakhita was bought by an Italian consul, Callisto Legnani. For the first time since the day she was kidnapped, she realized with pleasant surprise that no one used the lash when giving her orders; instead, she was treated with love and cordiality. In the consul's residence Bakhita experienced peace, warmth and moments of joy, even though veiled with nostalgia for her own family whom, perhaps, she had lost forever.

The political situation forced the consul to leave for Italy. Bakhita asked and obtained permission to go with him and a friend of his, a certain Mr. Augusto Michieli. On their arrival in Genoa, Mr. Legnani, at the request of Mr. Michieli's wife, agreed to leave Bakhita with them. She followed the new "family", which settled in Zianigo, near Mirano Veneto. - Finish reading at Catholic Online

In our day there continues to be human trafficking and slavery - may St. Bakhita pray for all the missing, enslaved, those exploited, tortured and terrorized. 

Hollywood and Gays: They've already been busy redefining marriage...




For popular culture at least.

Hollywood has pretty much been in the business of redefining marriage for over a century.  I doubt it is an exaggeration that the film industry popularized divorce and remarriage way back when - be it through films such as The Women, or through the bad example of movie stars marrying and divorcing repeatedly, as well celebrating the concept of open marriage.  Today, stars treat marriage like birthday parties, while more than a few just refuse to be wed all together.

But how have gay people redefined marriage?  There hasn't been that many who have married nation-wide, and many more just haven't had the opportunity to marry - yet.  If they do marry - civilly - it is the same - legally - as heterosexual couples marrying, right?

Ah yes.  But the simmilarities stops there.  As the character Matthew in Downton Abbey told his fiancee, "We can never be properly married' - referring to his paralysis and inability to even engage in the 'marital embrace'.  Same sex couples can't do that either.  Yes, they can simmulate something, and they can have children through surrogates or artificial insemination, just as childless opposite sex couples do, but the intercourse remains - cover your ears - unnatural. 

We may argue that point endlessly of course, but there remains another redefinition that few are willing to talk about.  The concept of same sex marriage  - though intended to appear very Father Knows Best, in the long term may not turn out to be what was advertised.  Gay males have a reputation of being promiscuous - not monogamous.  Traditional marriage as we know it, is ordered and expected to be monogamous.  That is a game changer in the redefinition of marriage.  Something same sex culture, specifically same sex marriage, would likely reinforce in a culture where traditional marriage is already weakened.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating?  Protesting a bit too much?  Maybe.  Although, Dan Savage, America’s leading sex-advice columnist, just might agree with me.  Read his thoughts from a NYTimes article:
Although best known for his It Gets Better project, an archive of hopeful videos aimed at troubled gay youth, Savage has for 20 years been saying monogamy is harder than we admit and articulating a sexual ethic that he thinks honors the reality, rather than the romantic ideal, of marriage. In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.       
Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.

“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”

The view that we need a little less fidelity in marriages is dangerous for a gay-marriage advocate to hold. It feeds into the stereotype of gay men as compulsively promiscuous, and it gives ammunition to all the forces, religious and otherwise, who say that gay families will never be real families and that we had better stop them before they ruin what is left of marriage. But Savage says a more flexible attitude within marriage may be just what the straight community needs. Treating monogamy, rather than honesty or joy or humor, as the main indicator of a successful marriage gives people unrealistic expectations of themselves and their partners. - NYT
To be continued.

Art:  Chris and Don - David Hockney

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Prop 8 Game Changer...



Another step forward for gaykind.

SAN FRANCISCO—A federal appeals court here ruled Tuesday that California's voter-mandated ban on gay marriages was unconstitutional, in a closely watched case that eventually could lead the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

In a 2-1 vote, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California's 2008 law, popularly known as Proposition 8, had used the state's initiative power to target a minority group and take away a right the group possessed, without legitimate reason.

Doing so, wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt in an 89-page majority opinion, violated the 14th Amendment's equal-protection clause.

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," wrote Justice Reinhardt, who was appointed to the court by former President Jimmy Carter. - Source 

Why do I see it as a game changer?  Because what usually goes in California - so goes the nation.  The fight will go to the Supreme Court - while here in Minnesota, the battle intensifies... and no matter how it turns out, years of appeals appear to be inevitable. 

Anyway - I have some posts coming.

Trying to make sense of contemporary monasticism...



The Vocation to Seek God by Following Christ in the School of Love

... [In]this goal is the ultimate set of rationale for the life of our monasteries. Any other good, such as social recognition, usefulness to mankind or society, or material gain, must be subordinated and adjusted to this goal. They should never be put before spiritual progress, personal improvement, or growth in virtue.

41. If the monasteries should serve the vocation of the members, we must also realize that, should we ever lose this spirit of our vocation, no matter how much we might wish to be of use to the monastery, we estrange ourselves from the community and make our way of life senseless and empty. For his vocation and the response by which he accepts it make the monk. From this alone flows the only reason for our monasteries and our Order to exist. - DECLARATION OF THE GENERAL CHAPTER OF THE CISTERCIAN ORDER ON THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF CISTERCIAN LIFE TODAY

Monday, February 06, 2012

What happened to Christopher West?



I thought he may have retired with Rigali or something, since I haven't seen much discussion of him online.  I wondered, perhaps like Corapi, he just faded away.  I was wrong.  In fact, Mr. West has a new book out - how did I miss that?  - Larry asks.  I didn't really - but I became so bored with the TOB debates and those institutionalized sexologists who seem to want to make it dogma - albeit according to the gospel of Hugh Hefner, that I was going to wait for those who know more about it than I do to write something.  And they did.  Larry pointed me to Kevin O'Brien's blog, Theater of the Word.  Mr. O'Brien takes the West doctrine to task - and does it well.  I will let him speak rather than contribute my thoughts here - although I want to reprint a few quotes from O'Brien which happen to be gems.

Beware, my friends. Beware.

This is all touchy-feely 1970's nonsense that seeks to "normalize and even justify" "lustful libido" - precisely the things West accuses his critics - in this case, an ordained priest - of doing. I had my fill of it in the 70's. It begins with mutual back-rubs in acting class, with accusations that you're a prude if you're not comfortable with nudity, with the implication, eventually made explicit, that through promiscuous and even perverse sex we "grow" as "persons". - Read it all here 
...

Here's why West is dangerous. We must certainly suffer evil in our union with Christ, this evil being the bad things that happen to us and our concupiscence, which the sacraments do not remove. We can never in this life be without the evil around us and the evil within us, and in that sense we must "offer it up" or "suffer" it.

But West is using this truth to go one step further. He's saying it is Puritanical to avoid near occasions of sin, that it is instead a mark of an illuminated Christian to embrace occasions of sin and to seek the good in them.

His argument is Jungian. It is really nothing but "there's good at the heart of everything bad". True enough. And there's even a kind of "good" in pornography, so far as sex itself is good. Even Satan still retains things that are "good" - his intelligence, his will. These he uses for evil, but they are in themselves good.

West is practicing a kind of "grooming behavior". He is trying to dull our sensibilities by speaking theological half-truths that are used to rationalize sin. 
Here's a test for you. Use West's argument with your wife if you're married. Tell her, according to West, that looking at another woman naked is a good thing because you're looking at her through the eyes of a redeemed Christian and you're seeking the good that lies at the heart of lust. Tell her you're going to the strip club for just this high minded theological reason.

See if she buys it. - Read it all here.
It reminds me of the priest who told me years ago (1970's!) to stay in a sinful relationship and try to see Christ in my lover's limbs, embrace, and kiss.  Like the verse in the Song of Songs, 'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth'.  West's theories are so easily adaptable to any sexual orientation - and therein lies another danger.

H/T Acts of the Apostasy

Memorial of the Martyrs of Nagasaki


On Feb. 6, the Catholic Church honors the 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki, a group of native Japanese Catholics and foreign missionaries who suffered death for their faith in the year 1597. - Read more here.

See what can happen when Government seeks to restrict religious freedom?  Or rid itself of Catholics?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Mass Chat: Reading the letters of bishops from the pulpit.


Grave and serious issues.

Much has been discussed on blogs and in the news praising those U.S. Catholic Bishops (150+) uniting in response to the unprecedented threat to religious freedom stemming from the unjust "preventative services" mandate issued by Obama's HHS, which requires all private health care plans to provide coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and related "patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity."

This weekend the letters of Archbishop Nienstedt and the statement of Archbishop Timothy Dolan were included in the weekly bulletin, and the pastor at my parish addressed both letters and the issue from the pulpit.  Included in the bulletin BTW, was the first ever appearance of Archbishop Nienstedt's letter supporting the marriage amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution - in defense of marriage.  (Up until this weekend, nothing has been said at my parish regarding the issue.)

The sense of urgency and gravity of these notices reminded me of the letter of the Dutch bishops read at all of the Masses during the Nazi occupation of WWII, specifically the pastoral letter of the Archbishop of Utrecht in the summer of 1942, protesting the Nazi persecution of Jews.  The action resulted in an increased, more brutal persecution against Jews and Catholics.  One may also recall how the Church in Germany publicly condemned the so-called "mercy killings" of physically and mentally disabled Germans in the 1930's by the Nazis.  They stopped it - but only for a time, and only after the bishops spoke out.  As we know, the policies were resumed and led to the Holocaust.

Pray for the bishops and the defeat of these policies, but keep in mind, it might just be the beginning of worse things to come.

Photo:  1938, the burning Synagogue of Bielefeld, Germany, during the Pogrom Night. Source

On the subject of Gregorian Masses... again.



Springbank revisited.

Once upon a time I wrote a post on the subject of Gregorian Masses and a simple monk's discovery in the archives of his abbey of old Mass stipends or certificates which may or may not have been executed.  The monk's original post, indeed the monk and the abbey, are gone now:  Almost a year ago the abbey was mysteriously disbanded and quietly vanished, the monks dispersed along their separate way.

My interest in the old abbey was piqued years ago when I tried my vocation as a monk.  I had heard stories that these Cistercians retained the use of Latin for the liturgy after Vatican II, a fact which monastic critics of the day speculated as the probable cause for this particular abbey's lack of vocations.  Over the years I learned more about the monastery from men who tried their vocations there - hence my interest when the abbey appeared in financial news as supporting itself through an innovative and quite profitable new high-tech business:  recycling toner cartridges.

My interest in the community grew after one of their novices began a web log which offered insights into their daily life.  Unfortunately the blog has been removed, but it did shed some light on the inner workings of a small community.  Personally, I think it wise to discourage that type of activity, especially for monastics without a great deal of experience in religious life - and even sometimes for those with experience.  I always think of cloistered nuns, who usually only permit the most prudent and discreet sister to act as portress.  But I digress.

Gregorian Masses

Back on topic.  What are Gregorian Masses?  I will let someone else explain it for now:
Gregorian Masses are thirty Masses said at any altar for thirty consecutive days for the deliverance of a certain soul from Purgatory. The pious practice of having these Masses celebrated for the deliverance of the souls from Purgatory was not first introduced by Saint Gregory the great, who was sovereign Pontiff from 590 to 604, but dates back to before his time. However, they are called Gregorian Masses because of how Saint Gregory contributed to the spread of this pious practice. in his "Dialogues" the Saint tells us that he caused thirty Masses to be said on thirty consecutive days for the repose of the soul of Justus, a monk who had died in the convent of Saint Andrew in Rome. At the end of the thirtieth Mass, the deceased appeared to his brother, Copoosus, who had assisted him as a physician in his last illness, and announced that he had been delivered from the flames of Purgatory.  Read more here.       
I have often arranged for Gregorian Masses to be said for family members and close friends.  A prioress of a cloistered monastery once gave me addresses of one or two religious houses where she had confidence that the Masses would be said as prescribed, noting she couldn't be sure of other places.  I never inquired what she meant, and I doubt she would have told me anyway, but it certainly raised some doubts in my mind that such sacred commissions were always carried out with fidelity.  That was nearly 30 years ago, so the situation may have improved since then.  However, long story short - when the monk from Springbank posted on the subject - it got my attention.

An old custom.

I removed my post because the monk(s) were obviously unhappy with my speculation regarding the discovery of apparently 'unfulfilled' Gregorian Mass stipends.  I removed my initial post in deference to the monk's protestations that I was misrepresenting what the novice wrote on his blog concerning the certificates.  However, I saved some of the email exchange which took place, which may help shed more light on the controversy:
Terry,

If you have so many concerns about our practices, you might have called or emailed the Abbey before writing a post that is inaccurate, if not slanderous.

Those Masses I refer to for $60 to $100 are for certificates that are still coming in today, contracted decades ago. The series begins to be said within a few days of our receiving the death notice.

You need to correct this post or remove it entirely. - Br. X
My response:
Dear Br. X:  My sincere apologies - I wasn't accusing the Abbey of any malpractice. The way you worded your post I, along with others who read your post, wondered the same thing. I'm very sorry if you somehow interpreted my post differently - to be fair, I included a quote from your own post for clarity. - Terry
Questions remain.

As I said, I deleted the original post, although I wasn't alone in the misunderstanding, and even today, to my knowledge, questions remain.  Especially since the abbey no longer exists, and its dissolution took place so quietly.  How will those who contracted Masses to be said after their death, whose death notices are to be submitted to the community, get their Masses said if no one is there to celebrate them?  One expects a real abbey to be permanent and not founded upon the whims of the prior, and although the obligation may be transferred, say to another abbey of the order, how will that abbey be notified when one of its clients dies?  I ask these questions precisely because they have been asked of me.  Since I have been one of the few to discuss the closing of the abbey publicly, a few people have contacted me regarding the Masses their family members had contracted.  I in turn directed them to the chancery of the Diocese of La Crosse.  I have no idea what kind of response they received.

So, don't ask me - ask the Diocese.

Perhaps there is nothing to be concerned about, since the same novice-monk replied to an email I sent him notifying him that I removed the initial post, assuring me:
Terry - As you said, Mass Stipends are a complicated issue. After WWII, we coordinated Mass Intentions from the U.S. for the entire Order, which literally put food on the table in some of our houses in Europe and Africa. It took three full-time secretaries and lots of record keeping because we were meticulous and I'm proud to say that we still are. Fr. Joseph, our sacristan, keeps the intentions flowing in excellent shape. - Br. X
As I wrote to one woman who inquired about the Masses:
Dear X - I think you can rest assured that the Masses your mother contracted were said - I'm quite sure that when the abbey was dissolved, all such contracts would have been sent to other monasteries - if they had not been fulfilled beforehand. I was told by a former novice that all of the Masses were taken care of. If you remain concerned, I suggest contacting the LaCrosse Diocese chancery. - Terry
I expect something like that may have been done, and hopefully families contacted.

Having said all of that, in view of all that has happened with the dissolution of this particular abbey, I would never contract for Masses in advance of a person's death; rather the wisest solution would be to have a will and provide for some one to arrange for Masses immediately after your death.  Pre-arrangement may work well for cemetery plots and so on, but I'm not sure about Gregorian Mass pre-arrangements.

Document facsimile source.   Apparently in 1959 the stipend was $30.00.  Today the stipend is usually $300.00.  (At least that is what it was the last time I commissioned a series.)

I have a lot left to say...



But I probably should keep my mouth shut.

I have a few posts coming up soon however.