Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Good Fruits of Summorum Pontificum

I was just watching a youtube video talk about the Mass given by Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP, who I knew back in the day visiting Clear Creek monastery before he entered the seminary.  This young priest is brilliant; last I heard he was headmaster at St. Gregory's boys school back in Pennsylvnia.

Someone in the audience asked if the Church was heading in the direction of every parish having a Latin Mass.  Fr. Nolan said Yes, he thinks there will be at least half of parishes with the traditional Mass, and asserted that half the priests in the Diocese of Arlington, Virgnia already say regular TLMs.

Folks, brace yourself!  Here's the current list!!!


Holy Trinity Parish, Gainesville: Sundays at 12:30 p.m.

Saint Anthony Mission, King George: Sundays at 12:45 p.m.; Thursdays at 9 a.m.

Saint John the Apostle Parish, Leesburg: Sundays at 10:30 a.m. (in the Historic church).

Saint John the Baptist Parish, Front Royal: Sundays at 12:30 p.m.; Mondays at 7 a.m. in the Chapel; Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Contact the parish for more detail (540-635-3780)

Saint John the Beloved Parish, McLean: Sundays at noon; Mondays at 7:30 p.m. (Low Mass)

Saint Lawrence Parish, Alexandria: Sundays at 12:30 p.m.

Saint Mary Parish, Alexandria: Third Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

Saint Michael Parish, Annandale: Sundays at 7:00 a.m.

Saint Patrick Parish, Fredericksburg: Sundays at 1:30 p.m.

Saint Raymond of Penafort Parish, Springfield: First and third Fridays of each month at 7 p.m.

Saint Rita Parish, Alexandria: First Sundays of the month at 9:40 a.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Alt Right. My Opinion.

My friend and blogger colleague Laramie Hirsch is a decided die-hard Alt Righter.  For years he has followed Alt Right blogs and forums.  I have not.

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How to define what Alt Right is?  How much can traditional Catholics get involved in the Alt Right?

I'ts Saturday morning, and the caffeine from my morning coffee is setting in.  I'll be addressing these poignant questions in today's segment.

You'll be very hard pressed to get an Alt Right advocate to clearly explain what the Alt Right is, define it, list its specific ideals, especially it's positive goals and truths.  But I'll try and give my own fair take on what it is.

The Okie Traditionalist's Definition of the Alt Right!

The "Alt Right" is an ideology and socio-political movement, mainly on the internet, of websites, blogs, and forums, which opposes liberalism, neconservativism, multiculturalism, and globalism, while promoting a mainly caucasian European-American nationalism, return to foundations of Western Civilization, and restoration of the dignity of white men.
Can we get involved in this movement?

I think we can, but marginally at most.  There are good alt-right authors and principles, but in my observations this online phenomenon is riddled with serious problems, from the perspective of Catholic morality and Catholic teaching on race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc..  The Alt Right does not per se hold a Christian society as an ideal, as one of its central values.  Some may, but generally the ideology is not promoting a Christian society or world view.   It's conservativism is libertarian and nationalistic, but not "socially conservative."

Can there be a "traditional Catholic niche" within the Alt Right movement?  Hirsch thinks so, and is an advocate for the notion, God bless him.  But I remain skeptical.

What is the alternative?

As Catholics we must be political.  We must promote just government and a society that is based on Christian morality.  The Church says that.  How much we get involved in any political movement would depend on the proportion that movement is in conformity with this standard.

But I don't see the need for a loose "umbrella" which the Alt Right says it is, under which conservatives dwell, i.e. those who reject liberalism and neo-conservativism.   It's like Hans Solo walking into that bar with all the different exotic aliens.  So what if all sorts of species fit into the intergalactic Empire. Unless the "Empire" presents itself as a clearly definable, definite entity with a specific creed--and a creed that is in conformity with the true religion--then it comes across nonsensical to be seriously part of it.  Why not just be under the smaller umbrella of a more specific political movement?  In this case the Alt Right would be the Empire.  And it comes across as deliberately nebulous.

The alternative is simply to be a traditional conservative, and to support political movements, but not to become seriously committed to their ideology. Instead of shifting, man-made ideologies, the Church says to turn to doctrine, especially from the popes, on the Social Kingship of Christ, government, society, culture, etc.  Make the Catholic system the primary source of socio-political truth, and ultimate guide to navigating the waters of political movements like the Alt Right.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

On an SSPX Personal Prelature. My Argument.

A priest in the know told me that the documents giving final approval for the Society of St. Pius X as a Personal Prelature are sitting on the desk of Pope Francis, waiting for his signature.

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Meanwhile most pro-SSPX voices in the blogosphere right now are skeptical and unsupporting of the initiative.  I understand the arguments.  Pope Francis is arguably the most questionable pope in Church history. The Dubia of the 4 Cardinals has backed him into a corner; a first-step Formal Correction is expected. The modernists want to quarantine off the traditionalists, and one day snuff them us out.  The Society will face pressures to compromise under the threat of persecution.  But hear me out.

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The crux of the matter is the sine qua non requirement of the Society before it will sign: it must be admitted they have the right to publicly resist-criticize-clarify certain doctrinal errors in the documents of Vatican II and the text of the New Mass.  In other words they must be accepted AS IS.

The Vatican Prelate in charge of SSPX-Vatican negotiations recently stated that the Society's doctrinal positions (dubia) are in fact permissible, and not an impediment to their canonical regularization.  By the way, this one issue has been THE issue until now.  

The Vatican modernists who want to make the Pastoral Council an infallible super-dogma, and make Catholics blindly accept it--without actually catechizing them about it in the first place--have been holding Absolute Acceptance of all VII documents over the heads of the SSPX, under threat of excommunication.  Turns out their human ultimatum is not orthodox.  Admitting the pastoral statements in question are not infallible, and the SSPX (and I'd think the FSSP, etc) can in fact raise public objections would be a major paradigm shift, I'd think.  The question of the Vatican II Reform would become a more universal discussion.

Turns out that yes, Catholics can respectfully question non-infallible, pastoral statements, without being labelled schismatics, as theologians have done before over certain statements made by ecumenical councils.

Archbishop Lefebvre himself stated several times, even towards the end of his life after relations with Rome broke down, that he wanted an "Experiment of Tradition," his words, an experiment, as long as they were not required to compromise on doctrine, and could have their own bishop.  To try it.

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Flash forward 25+ years later, and the Superior General Bishop Fellay has achieved much more leverage and protection for the Society in relations with Rome.  The stigma of being backward for their attachment to the Tridentine Mass has at least been officially lifted with Summorum Pontificum, after which a Motu Proprio Latin Mass movement exploded worldwide, with many more priests and laity thinking along the lines of the SSPX and actually in support of it.  The doctrinal issues have been underlined and clarified as best as can be expected for now by the 2009-2011 SSPX-Vatican Doctrinal Commission.

And it was NEVER a sine qua non of ABL that modernist Rome must first convert back to Tradition, and that a normal state of the Church be restored.

So yes, I'm an SSPX Accordista, 100% in favor of trying a Personal Prelature ad experimentum.  Here's my top 10 reasons why I think it's a good idea.

Top 10 Reasons Why an SSPX Personal Prelature is a Good Idea:

1.  As Bishop Schneider recently stated, if Rome pressures the SSPX to compromise on their identity, they can resist to the point of pulling out of the Personal Prelature and continue as they have been since their illegal suppression in 1975.

Recent Interview of Bishop Athanasius Schneider about the SSPX Personal Prelature.  This is BRILLIANT.  A MUST WATCH.  Pop some Popcorn!

2. Every SSPX chapel, school, priory, etc already established on all the habitable continents (the international SSPX is huge by the way), would automatically be approved by Rome permanently within each individual diocese, with a permanent right to continue independent of the local bishop.

3. The head of the SSPX prelature would be a Bishop with jurisdictional authority over the laity who attend SSPX chapels, such that the laity are not compelled to attend Mass anywhere else than an SSPX chapel.  This would be laid out in the STATUTES of the prelature, in a very specific way that guarantees autonomy of the SSPX effectively as a "non-territorial diocese."  The key to the structure is the statutes, which by all reports has already been worked out.

4. The Archbishop always wanted an "Experiment of Tradition."  Some SSPX supporters may not know that the Archbishop insisted to his priests that they maintain relations with Rome and seek ordinary union with the pope, based on the doctrinal imperatives of unity with the Successors of St. Peter.  He was not a sedevacantist or stubborn separatist.

5. According to Bishop Fellay in a recent interview, the Bishop over the SSPX would be able to incardinate new religious orders under its umbrella.  That would not only include the MANY orders, monasteries, and convents already under the SSPX umbrella, but anytime a traditionalist order or priest gets evicted from a diocese, no worries, they can go under the SSPX. Mother Miriam, if you're reading, I hope you'd consider this option for your community recently severed from the Tulsa Diocese.

6. The SSPX will not allow itself to be quarantined off.  No, it is arguably the most evangelical force of traditional Catholicism in the world.  True, many of its members can tend to be insular, but its momentum has always been outward, pro-active, and international. I think that comes from the extraordinary apostolic spirit of the saintly missionary bishop who founded their society.  

Trouble is their irregular status has kept them in the dark in all dioceses.  Almost no Catholic in any diocese knows about the local SSPX chapel.  I can assure you, the canonically recognized SSPX will make sure Catholics in the diocese know they exist.  Imagine the many dioceses who would at least somewhat welcome them or authentically tolerate them, such that they have access to avenues in the diocesan structure such as the Diocesan Registry of parishes, Catholic conferences, priest meetings, diocesan March for Life, etc, etc, etc. The SSPX is crafty.  They have decades of experience knowing how to astutely navigate irregular settings.

7. A Prelature may mean a NEW phase for the Traditional Movement, increasing unity among traditionalists, which is greatly needed.  For example, while I know that your average FSSP priest will not preach against the New Mass from the pulpit, catch them after Mass and most will gladly tell you its dangers.  I'd wager a months wages most FSSP priests privately agree, for the most part, with Archbishop Lefebvre. 

Officially, part of the raison de faire of the FSSP was to bridge the SSPX back into normal union with Rome, but unofficially they are practically almost the same entity as the SSPX.  Decades of hostility can be addressed.  I predict that the canonically recognized SSPX will become the unofficial unifier for the traditionalist movement.  Many conservatives will shift to the right towards traditionalism, and many Ecclesia dei trads will gravitate more towards the SSPX.  

Its ironic how the "Francis Effect" is indirectly solidifying the traditional practice of the Faith, as opposed to the post-Vatican II apostasy.  

8. Truth be told, the irregular situation of the SSPX has partly created countless examples of bizarre weirdness in the Society.  Sit down after Mass with someone who's been with the Society for years, and they'll admit there are many extreme elements and extremely dysfunctional patterns in the Society. 

Bishop Fellay himself said this was one important reason to seek normalcy in the Church.  I'm talking about Catholics who lack foundational knowledge about the institutional Church, the life of a diocese or even a normal parish life.  I'd predict a small minority would resist this normalizing effect, and leave for "resistance" or sedevacantist chapels, but friends this experiment might make SSPX chapels more hospitable and inviting places to practice traditional Catholicism.

9. Our goal is not to form private clubs of self-enlightened traditionalists with gnostic knowledge about the Crisis.  Our aim is not merely to have our private experience of the Tridentine Mass and acquire a "sacrament machine" priest to hear confessions and offer a valid Mass.  Our spirit is not that of the synagogue, but that of the Catholic Church.  We must be actively trying to bring all novus ordo Catholics to Catholic Tradition, which means to the True Mass at our chapels and parishes.  The TLM is not a mere liturgical preference for a private group of Gregorian chant/Latin nerds who want conservative liturgy.  A Prelature would communicate to the world more loudly than ever the reality of the traditional Mass/Faith.

10. All the conditions for an Agreement, as stipulated by Archbishop Lefebvre, and even more strictly by Bishop Fellay, HAVE FINALLY BEEN MET.  All that is left is our prayers and Francis signing the Canonical Recognition.

Friends, I'm not trying to jerk around the Naysayers against this agreement.  As an active supporter of the Society of St. Pius X for over 10 years now, I am simply stating the reality of what is about to happen, and advocating for us to support this initiative for the good of the Church and the Society.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


So the Little Lady just got an FB message from her friend back in the Old Country. It seems a senior member of their SSPX Chapel has Alzheimer's disease.   The faithful try to visit her at her house, but she is hostile and insulting (dementia).  Kyrie eleison.

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SSPX Brothers Praying for the Living and the Dead

Reminds me of my Uncle of sorts, at least that's what I called him, who was my aunt's live-in partner.  In the last few years of his life--God rest his soul--he suffered from Alzheimer's.  He went from being an occasionally grouchy person (lol who isn't), to being grouchy and combative 24/7.  It was horrifying to see him lose much of his personality.

This, in my mind, begs the question:  if a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, isn't it better if they pass on to the here-after BEFORE they lose their mind??  I mean, imagine potentially forgetting your own identity, much less that of the Holy Trinity or Catholic Church. I am not a moral theologian, but I'd imagine their culpability is akin to that of a severely mentally retarded child or adult.  I'm not sure.

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God bless these patients, who are like "victim souls."

Recently I had my own sudden, odd, out-of-the-blue brush with a potentially life-threatening medical situation.  Thank the Good Lord and Most Merciful Divine Physician on High the diagnosis was minor and prognosis very good.  But it got me to thinking about death.   When an E.R. nurse asks you "Sir, do you have an Advanced Directive Order?" your life perspective changes, at least for a moment.

If you had Alzheimer's, how would you wish to be cared for?  Me, no, I wouldnt opt for a shotgun, but there are fools out there that would and do, God help them.  I would ask for "ordinary treatment to be preserved," but insist that the doctors DO NOT extend my life through any "extraordinary means."  My last petition would be to ride into the sunset with my faculties at least somewhat intact.

Anyways, please pray for Maam Rose who has Alzheimer's, that God will comfort her and give her some relative peace of mind during this final season of her life.

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Agony in the Garden

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bishop Slattery Filling in to Help with Traditional Latin Mass

This last Sunday, His Excellency Bishop Edward Slattery, Bishop-Emeritus of the Diocese of Tulsa (1994-2016) offered a Latin Tridentine High Mass at St. Peter and Paul parish in Tulsa, filling in for the pastor Fr. Tim Davison.


I hope the good Bishop can continue to serve the traditional Catholics of the diocese, and by his extraordinary example, help preserve the legacy of traditional Catholicism he labored to build up in his 22 years as Tulsa bishop.

I wonder if +Slattery offers the daily TLM from his private chapel?  If he'd be open to the faithful paying him a visit to thank him for his apostolic works?  Considering what's come down the pike lately, we need him in our corner!

The comment box is open.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Last Rites in Tulsa. Good luck!

Just finished a Rum n' diet Coke, puffin' away on a pleasantly mild Baccart cigar, as I sit here in the quiet backroom of Classic Cigars and Lounge. The leather chair is comforting.  Over my shoulder I can see the chairs where fellow Okie Trad Blogger Laramie Hirsch and I met up recently with a Trusted Tulsa Trad LINK, the same spot where I had an epiphany back in October to use this blog in part to be a Voice of traditional Catholicism here in Oklahoma LINK.

Thought I'd blog about a wacky, surreal experience here in my Local Church, as reported to me by a trusted Okie Traditionalist Correspondent.   I feel like Bilbo sitting in his hobbit hole, writing about a horror story Gandalf told him over a campfire.

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Some Background:

Keep in mind Oklahoma is the Mecca for Evangelical Protestantism.  This is the land of Oral Roberts.  The pervading doctrine here is "If you're baptized or born again, you're signed, sealed, and delivered--said with twang--guaranteed to enter the Pearly Gates when you die."  When you wed the Catholic Church to Protestant Ecumenism, and then wed that New Ecumenical Catholic Church to this Arch-Protestant subculture, what you get is full throttle Religious Indifferentism, exemplified in all its earthly coolness in this hereby narrative.

So starts this crazy story.

Let's call her Rosie.  One night Rosie comes home after visiting her dying friend in the ICU--let's call her Miriam--a fallen away Catholic, whose doctors told friends and family that very evening she may die that night.  Miriam is on life support unconscious. Her husband being anti-Catholic finally gives permission to call a priest for the Last rites.  Ie, to give the sacrament of the dying, Extreme Unction, the Apostolic blessing (which takes away all punishment due to sin, aka Purgatory time!), with a special rite of prayer for a holy death.

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Doom and gloom from the old days?

Time 8:00 pm.  Rosie asks her husband, let's call him Chad, to get a priest for her friend.  A call is placed to the hospital, asking for the Catholic priest assigned to the hospital as a chaplain, to call them back and arrange that night to give Last rites to Miriam.  45 minutes pass with no call back.  A second call is placed, with assurance given that they have left a message with the priest, and will call again and leave another message if necessary.

Chad, being a traditional Catholic, himself having gone through hell before to obtain a priest for his dying father on two different occasions, decides to call the Fraternity of St. Peter parish.  Its 10:00 pm.  Voicemail directs him to an emergency line to the priest, after "hitting one" there's a "click" and the call is ended.  Chad tries a few more times, including using Rosie's phone.  No luck.

10:15 pm.  Third call to the hospital.  The lady in charge of calling clergy says:
"I'm still tryin'.  Left a few voicemails.  Let me tell you somethin'.  In all the years I've worked here, it seems to always take several hours to get a hold of the Catholic priest, even in emergencies."
Well good golly Miss Molly! 

Turns out the SSPX priest who serves a "Mass circuit" from St. Mary's, Kansas to Oklahoma City and Tulsa, to offer the Traditional Mass, would be in Tulsa that Sunday, in a couple days.  A voicemail is left at the emergency line (their's worked! lol) up at their priory in Kansas.

11:00 pm.  What in the hell to do?  Chad messages a trad friend on FB, who has a light bulb moment, and calls his priest friend, who lives hours from Tulsa serving a rural parish.  Hours.  Okay.

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Cool clock. Haunting.

1:00 am.  Still no call back from the Catholic hospital chaplain-priest.  Said rural priest calls Chad, then sets out in the wee hours to use his Diocesan Directory to hunt down a priest willing to get out of bed to save someone's eternal soul.  God bless this good and holy priest (who says the Novus, btw).

3:30 am.  The rural priest calls back.  He got ahold of a priest who serves a different hospital, who agreed to go give Last rites.

4:00 am.  Rosie and Chad stand in Miriam's ICU room, and witness their friend be delivered from darkness to eternal light.  Going out the door the priest shrugs his shoulders confiding "What can I say about the chaplain?" and goes home.

6:30 am.  The SSPX priest calls back.  They will be in Tulsa on Sunday.  Flash forward to Sunday.  Miriam is still alive.  The Society annoints her again, giving her the full Rite of the Dying, in all its traditional splendor.  The anti-Catholic husband bows reverently during the beautiful ceremony, crying in thanksgiving.

By the Mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Providence, not long later, Miriam enters into Eternal Life.

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My Commentary:

What a hellish crisis.  What a blessed ending.  But where in the hell was the Catholic chaplain for that hospital?  And why, according to the hospital representative, for years on end the hospital priest is hard to track down when someone is in danger of death?

I don't have enough empirical data to make a scientific conclusion.  Maybe someone knows of a Catholic book or something that exposes this problem in the modern Church.  But common sense and deduction tells me that probably the Catholic chaplain-priest, and very likely others in the diocese, have an attitude of Religious Indifferentism to their fellow dying Catholics.  

The Thomistic principle that "Virtue stands in the middle" becomes discarded.  What matters is avoiding the extreme of Strict, Scrupulous Despair, even if that means embracing the other extreme of Presumption of God's Mercy. 

That plus ensuring a comfie night's sleep.  

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It's the Protestant spirit invading the Church.  A dying Christian is A-OK cuz they're "signed, sealed and deeeelivered."  No strict, urgent, salvation-depending need to provide the Rite of the Dying, ironically even if its just to give much needed psychological comfort to the patient and family.

Bishop Konderla, if you're reading this, shoot me an email and I can fill you in on the who, what, when, and where!  :)

Time for bed.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Depression, from the perspective of one traditional Catholic

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Yes, depression.  Friends, if you're willing to read this entire blog post, all I can say is I want to reach your mind and heart about this issue.

I'm talking about "clinical depression."  A mental disorder of impaired mood, resulting in loss of motivation, interest in hobbies and social activities, pessimism, persistent obsessive and negative thoughts, decrease in hygiene and health maintenance, which affects work, school, and relationships.   If not dealt with, it will also affect your spiritual life.

Primary causes:  genetics, chronic abuse, loneliness.

This is the hard sell of my post: I believe that just about everyone in the USA, and just about everyone reading this right now, has experienced depression before, at least low grade depression.  That is, the absence of a regular state in life in which you are mentally healthy, balanced, clear-minded, confident, and living in relative peace with family and friend.

Here is my proof:  American, Western culture.  No syllogism needed.  We are not living in the Shire.

And as for the American, traditional Catholic, we are not living on Mount Athos, or in the woods.  It is metaphysically impossible for our psyches not to be permeated with the cultural, moral, and psychological toxicity of our tormented society, and not to experience at least on a material, neurological level that toxicity.  The three-dimensional brain, and powers of the soul (intellect, will, memory, imagination, emotions) all have limits, beyond which some forces of creation are more powerful.

I know this is a tough pill to swallow for some.  Family and friends who are more overtly depressed, can be the scapegoat for not recognizing our own mental malady.  Ask yourself, how often do I feel despair? gloom? a heaviness in my brain, like a wet blanket suffocating my mind?  a darkness, or greyness that invades my daily thinking?  perhaps not everyday, but frequently?

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This Philosophy of Human Nature goes back to the modern philosopher Descartes

One temptation might creep in, to think of ourselves as an angelic spirit floating around a body.  As if depression is just a factor of the body, and not the mind, or that the mind is just a spiritual substance.  As if we can just will away our dark emotions, or only pray more and it will disappear.

Depression is not centered in the liver, pancreas, or eyeballs, it is centered in your brain, where your conscious personality resides.  We are not merely a torso with two upper and lower extremities, and and an empty skull cavity filled with a spiritual ghost.  Protestantism and the modern philosophical school of Rationalism would have us think so.  We are also an organic brain, which is the most essential organ of our human nature (angels = spirits;  humans = souls = spirit united to a body, even in heaven).

Another myth:  this is mostly about women.  In my opinion, the majority of American men are dragging themselves through life in a state of SILENT depression.  The signs and symptoms are clearly there.  We cope by becoming workaholics, alcoholics, assholes, who come home and isolate ourselves from wife and children.  We stoically embrace a Protestant work ethic, cuz that's what dad did.  The machismo ethic of manhood thinks its main opponent is modern, effimacy in men.  It isn't.  The main opponent of evil is the good, and the Catholic good for manhood is seen in Jesus Christ and his foster-father St. Joseph.  The traditional Catholic nature of a man is to be a gentleman, reason-driven, justice-focused, order-producing, piety and morals protecting.

Think about it.  We spend thousands of dollars a year for our physical health (insurance, copays, medications, nutritious food), but almost nothing for our mental health.  Illness sucks.  We all need and want health.  And health is not just of the body, but the brain and mind.  If the mind declines this is what also declines:  the body, behavior, productivity, work, finances, relationships, etc.

I think the hard part for trads in this, is the pharisaical stigma many religious folks attach to depression, especially from a jansenistic spirit thinking psychology per se is from the devil, and mental illness is necessarily a sign of spiritual sin.   The myth being that the depressed must be crazy, socially or economically unstable, immoral, or possessed.  To tell yourself or others you're dealing with depression, and to get some help for it, is tantamount to becoming socially stigmatized as "one of those people."  When in fact "those people" are 95%+ of modern, Westerners, on some level.

I'll raise my hand and say, yes, I've dealt with the signs and symptoms.  Its a cross. Psychological science does not do it justice in categorizing or defining it.  It takes poetry to delve into its reality.

But depression IS manageable if not also cureable.  The tragedy is most don't know this.  The remedy is relatively simple, but requires courage and commitment.

It takes humility, to admit it to yourself and others and get help.  To seek counsel from a Catholic counselor and/or good priest when depression starts to seriously impact your life.  To take medications/supplements/specific diet.  Journaling is a marvelous tonic as well!

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There is hope.  The greyness may always be there, entering the mind from time to time.  This is 21st century America.  Unless you move to a sanguine, communal, tropical culture like the Philippines, odds are very high you're going to deal with this. But we can take control of it, for the sake of ourselves and our families.

We have to.  If our bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost, that also includes the brain and mind, we must take care of the health of the mind.  Our vocations and states of life depend on it.

Onward and upward.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Letter to My Bishop, Re: Travel Reimbursement :)

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Your Excellency,

     Happy New Year.  It is my privileged position to write you concerning a matter of most urgent necessity with regards to myself and my family, who are Catholics of your diocese.   My hope is to relieve you of not knowing a certain injustice that has stricken one of your parishes.

     My family is within the territorial boundaries of St._____ parish.  Our beloved Bishop, it is my sad misfortune to relate to you that this church has been taken over by a pervasive religious and spiritual way that is not the Roman Catholic Faith.  It is pseudo-Catholic modernism.

     To evidence this, if you can please make the time, a visit there will show a secular and banal spirit in the liturgical and devotional life of this parish.   There will be few signs of our beloved Catholic tradition, but instead a collection of novelties that overturn all that is sacred, revealed, divine, and holy.

     Our dear Bishop, this religious crisis at our rightful territorial parish has, through a chain of events, created a severe financial crisis for our home that is a matter of urgent health.

     Since 2000, now 17 years ago, we have been forced to not attend Sunday Mass at our territoral parish overtaken by modernism, but forced to drive our car far across the metropolitan area to attend a Catholic church where orthodoxy and orthopraxis is preserved.  Yet, this has created a great monetary toll on our household.

     I have calculated and re-calculated several times the total cost of this extra expense, which we feel in all natural and legal justice ought to compel our diocese to reimburse us for our critical need.  Please see the figures and balance below.

            Extra Gasoline Expense =  $3,000
            Extra Wear and Tear of Vehicle
            (50 cents/mile, per state law) = $12,000
             Rate of Inflation Adjustment = $450
             Expected Investment Return = $1500
             Total Annual Late Penalties = $3,400
             Debt Processing Fee = $100

           Total Financial Hardship = $20,350

     Again this diocesan debt to our family is a most critical need due to a situation of life and health. Please make a check or money order out to "Joseph Ostermeir, The Okie Traditionalist."

     Thank you Dear Bishop for this just and charitable restitution, for which I trust the Social Kingship of Christ will bestow an abundance of graces upon You and your Bishopric in the Restoration of all things to Christ in the parishes of our beloved diocese.

Approaching the Feast of the healer St. Blaise,

Mr. Joseph Ostermeir
The Okie Traditionalist

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Finding Peace as a Traditionalist Catholic

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So I just finished watching an old 2003 EWTN interview (yes EWTN, I've warmed up more to them lately considering their support of The 4 Cardinals' dubia) of then Cardinal Ratzinger about the troublesome state of the Church.  At the end Raymond asked how we can maintain hope in the Church during this period of Crisis.  His answer was, like a good Bavarian that he is, very simple, to maintain our "faith in the Lord, especially in the Eucharist."

I'll be the first Trad to confess this is difficult in today's Church.  There are constant temptations to despair over the Faith today, and I do give in now and then, at least to discouragements.  Looking down deep inside, I have to admit to myself I am not entirely at peace being alive during this time in Church history, both as a Catholic within the Universal Church, and also as a traditionalist member in the Latin Mass movement.

I have to challenge myself, has my necessary adherence to Catholic tradition been drawing me closer to God?  Has attendance exclusively at the TLM and almost exclusive interaction in traditionalists circles given me greater peace, a deeper spiritual life?  Catholic tradition is integral to a living faith, but being a traditionalist in itself does not necessarily equate to a vibrant faith.  These are questions I ask myself from time to time as I navigate the Latin Mass movement itself.

When by all appearances the authentic liturgical, spiritual, and theological life of the mainstream Church has been largely set aside, it becomes a very relevant question--how to maintain one's faith, peace of mind, and sanity during this time, even when, as any trad priest will admit, the traditional movement itself is fraught with division and dysfunction?

Back in my days actively posting in the Fish Eaters forum, the forum owner Tracy made a habit (actually I think she still does), when people would make despairing comments about the state of the Church, of making a distinction about the errors happening in the human element of the Church today, and the divine Church itself. Our faith is in the divine Church, Her teachings, sacraments, divine authority, but not in the individual men themselves (but only in respect of their Authority protected by the Holy Ghost).  Men are weak and so can do some of the most diabolical things.  Even the pope can be a very bad pope or even heretical.

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The Seven Sacraments

But I'm finding myself more and more lately reminding myself that our faith is not in these men, but as Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) said, our "faith is in the Lord, especially in the Eucharist."  Focusing on the errors in the Church today, being overly preoccupied with traditionalist polemics, about which traditionalist Society is worthy of support, on the problems of Vatican II or the new Mass, one can weaken their faith in God.  I've fallen into that mentality before, and I can report firsthand that Yes, that does weaken your faith.

I have to remind myself our right focus is on God, Christ, the divine Church, Her liturgy, Her prayers, Her timeless traditions, and not focusing our main energies on the Crisis afflicting the human element of the Church.  The divine element, praise God, is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, absolutely trustworthy.  That's the way the Lord designed the Church after all!

Traditionalism is paradoxical.  As a movement it is necessary, for access to a lived Catholic tradition, but in my experience often the focus is on the wrong things.  Just follow the threads in trad forums; they often obsessively delve into polemical topics being discussed for the umpteenth time, like a broken record. That sometimes obsessiveness indicates mental and spiritual disorder.  And I'll be the first to raise my hand and admit I've suffered at times of its signs and symptoms.

Or consider your experience joining a TLM parish or chapel.  Perhaps your experience is the exception, but from my own experience, and most trads I've talked to about this (online and in the flesh), the TLM community has a tendency to be semi-closed off and privatized.  Nice people who can sometimes pick up their pitchforks in fear of the newcomer, easily explained by years of ecclesial shellshock.  When a stranger jumps into the trenches, its understandable to raise your rifle, but we're talking about parishes and church communities here.

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The trad parish/chapel is a semi-strange phenomenon to me, growing up in the parochial system.  I've observed a strain of anti-sociality and individualism that clashes with the very concept of a parish or church community.  In my opinion, usually this flows from the group dynamic and a groupthink that very understandably tends to turn away from the public Church to private devotion, from the institutional structures to separatist-like enclaves, or from treating the parish (or potential parish) as a "private association of the faithful" rather than what the Church says it really is/should be: a "public association of the faithful."

In general though, I don't think this groupthink is deliberate.  In my experience, as individuals, your average traditionalist Catholic tends to be more virtuous than your average novus ordo Catholic. After all, most are really there at the TLM with the clear intention of being a faithful, orthodox, practicing Catholic.

But traditionalism can become a distraction.  I think of wasted mental time I myself have used up dwelling too much on the problems in the Church and the inner workings of the traditional movement. Haven't many of us trads focused too much time on these things?  Don't get me wrong, I'm bound by the law of non-contradiction, so what I concluded with certainty over the years about the conciliar church and taking a traditionalist stance is not somehow now doubtful.  Its a question of setting or re-setting priorities in the proper order.

When your vocation is to being a husband, father, and professional, your priority is--or should be--daily work and prayer according to your domestic and work life. Grappling the paradoxes of traditionalism doesn't even come close to being added to the daily To-Do List.  It makes for recreative, Sunday blog posts, but even my trad posts can consume too much of my time and attention.

I guess what I'm confessing in this post is that I am not exactly 100% at peace as a traditionalist Catholic.  Perhaps you can relate.  I've come full circle more than once in my journey of faith.  As a teenager I studied Catholicism seriously before deciding to be confirmed, which was a kind of conversion experience.  Later embracing Tradition was another step.  Embracing the advice/point of view of Archbishop Lefebvre was another.  But, something has been stirring in me for a while to take another step.  Its hard to put in words.

I have no intention to start attending the Novus Ordo, or turning on my fellow trads or doubting my own traditionalist convictions.  I still very much want to write about matters of faith and church events, but to pick my battles while focusing on the good, true, and beautiful. I still intend to follow the line of Archbishop Lefebvre, as it were.  But I also have to re-adjust my focus according to my developing circumstances.

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Here's a crazy idea I'll throw out there, for a rad trad that I am: according to canon law, I belong to my territorial parish.  As liberal as it is (and it is!), there ARE jewels of traditional Catholicism to be found on its grounds.  What is stopping me from going to Adoration there, getting to know the pastor (imagine the conversations I could have with him about Catholic Tradition) or going to the occasional parish Bingo or Fish Fry?  There's normalcy in those kind of things, and true normalcy is an essential nutrient to sustain human nature.

Another crazy notion:  there's a phenomenon in the trad movement I've noticed over the years I've grown to appreciate:  Latin Mass trads, troubled by both conciliar and trad weirdness, finding solace in the East.   That is, focusing less--or perhaps just a bit less--on Latin rite devotion and spirituality, and spending some spiritual time with Eastern Catholic traditions, such as the Jesus Prayer.

Frankly, I find the Jesus Prayer more mentally easy to say than the Hail Mary.  If there was a Byzantine Mass in town, I'd occasion it. If every soul is its own species, and if every species has its own unique needs, then the soul needs what it needs.  If a Latin Mass trad needs to dip into Eastern Catholicism to balance out any spiritual distortions that inevitably enter the soul, then so be it.

The same line of re-orientation applies where to attend the TLM.  I've got access to the SSPX, FSSP, and diocesan TLM.  Each has their pros and cons.  Frankly, and you may have guessed this before, my preference is with the SSPX.  But a family man must weigh all the circumstances.  Truth is you can find wonderful examples of a vibrant turn towards traditional Catholicism even in diocesan parishes.  There are plenty of examples everywhere--which is one theme I have for this blog, to highlight traditional Catholic works in my own Local Church.

I must admit, I've always identified as a self-described "non-trad, trad."  I never quite fit the mold. Its one thing to be marginalized to the peripheries of the modern Church for your orthodoxy; and another to also feel on the outer edge of trad circles.  Not that I am a misfit.  I think its a common experience of many trads actually, because of the non-communal tendencies in many trad parishes/chapels. There are exceptions.

So my final thought is, perhaps my fellow Okie Trads can relate to what I'm putting out there in this post.  Our love of Catholic tradition and the traditional liturgy is what binds us together in a special kind of friendship.  We do tend to be a bit crazed and anti-social at times (that includes yours truely), but usually its no more than mild neurosis and difficulty coping with the ecclesial situation.  My personal goal, which I'd wish for all my fellow trads, is to be at peace during this time in the Church.

Thus ends my Sunday soliloquy.  I wish everyone a peaceful Sunday!  Pax vobiscum!

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fr. Tim Davison of Tulsa, interviewed by the Remnant, about saying the Latin Mass

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Smoke circles glide across the room as I puff on my pipe, reminiscing on the good memories I have of one Fr. Tim Davison, who now celebrates daily and Sunday Traditional Latin Masses at St. Peter and Paul parish in Tulsa, where he is the pastor.

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I must've been ten or something, kneeling in the grass adjacent to the property of the Tulsa abortion clinic.  The crowd chanted the Hail Mary, as a brave young priest knelt in front of the clinic's doors, chained to the front door handles.  He was peacefully and prayerfully blocking access to murder.  This young, zealous priest was Fr. Tim Davison.

Over the years I heard stories of his works, earning the reputation of a very hard working and pious parish priest, especially among the Hispanics.  He was good friends with Fr. James Jackson, one of the pioneers of the Fraternity of St. Peter American district, in the early days of the FSSP.

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Fr. James Jackson, FSSP

I recall one story he told us, about a ski trip with Fr. Jackson.  Before hitting the slopes, on one side of the hotel room stood one priest facing a table offering the new Mass according to the 1970 missal, while the other faced his table offering the traditional Mass according to the 1962 missal.  I imagine those times with Fr. Jackson strengthened Fr. Tim's (as he is usually affectionately called) sensus traditio, i.e. sense of tradition.

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Imo, controversy would hit the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic newspaper (i.e. before it was turned into a full throttle church of nice magazine) back in the day over Fr. Davison's changes to St. Peter and Paul parish.  Amidst interracial divisions between the Anglo-saxons and the Hispanics, Fr. Davison was leading a quiet crusade to restore the sacred to the sanctuary and divine liturgy under his charge.  He joined the other 1% of clergy worldwide to offer Mass "ad orientem," i.e. "facing East" towards the altar in the same direction as the people. Use of the altar rail and communion-on-the-tongue became the norm for Holy Communion.  Latin and Gregorian chant were reintroduced.

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A few years ago Fr. Davison would decide to learn and start regularly celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, including on Sundays.  At the Fraternity of St. Peter parish there was a group that wanted a distinctly Fraternity parish church, while a second group wanted to be a part of a regular diocesan parish but with the TLM.  Those factors + Fr. D saying the Mass of the Ages just down the road made for a recipe to create a new Latin Mass community, within St. Peter and Paul parish.

Curious if Fr. D's conversion story to Tradition had spread online, I googled it and discovered this amazing interview of Fr. D by the traditionalist Remnant newspaper:  LINK  I'll go ahead and post it, and insert some of my own thoughts here and there in RED, Fr. Z-style!

Fr. Tim Davison Interview with The Remnant!

Q. Thank you, Father. Can you please give our readers an idea of what motivated you to join the SP pilgrimage to Rome?

A.I have only been celebrating the traditional mass for about one and a half years, not very long. And when I was invited to join the pilgrimage to Rome as chaplain of the US group I had to think about it, because I have a parish, I have a school. I’m very busy [Yes, he is!!]; but after thinking about it I decided I needed to go, I need to be with other people who are experiencing this liturgy and its riches and that’s basically the motivation behind my acceptance of the offer to go along as a chaplain. I wanted to be with people to celebrate this event in the life of the Church, especially since I have been interested in the traditional liturgy for a long time.

So, in a nutshell, I decided to come along in this pilgrimage to find support and to also support those who are celebrating the traditional liturgy.

Q. What are the circumstances which led you to the decision to start celebrating the traditional rite?

A. My spiritual director for a time was a Benedictine, Father Mark Kirby [Fr. Kirby tried to found a Latin Mass monastery near Tulsa,but is now in
Ireland], who is also known for having written the book “Abuse Of The Holy Eucharist Is A Cancer At The Heart Of The Church!” He had a big influence on my appreciation of the liturgy and its history, and the traditional liturgy especially. So through that influence and that of the monks in a monastery in our diocese [That'd be the famous Clear Creek monks], I decided that I would like to learn this liturgy and to celebrate it. Another motivation was my mother, who is ninety-four years old and who has asked me to do the traditional liturgy for her funeral.

All those reasons came together, and then I asked the Fraternity of Saint Peter to teach me to say the old Mass [Word is Fr. also used an SSPX tutorial video]. They taught me and as I started celebrating I became more interested and very happy to learn it because it has given me a much deeper understanding of our Catholic liturgy and its tradition that I could not really have had from the Novus Ordo, even though I have been celebrating the Novus Ordo for my first seven years as a priest. But the experience of the traditional liturgy has deepened my appreciation of the mystery involved in the Eucharist, of the reverence and respect that naturally goes along with the gestures and so forth.

Q. Can you also tell us something about your parish and how your decision to start celebrating occasionally the TLM has impacted its life?

A. My parish has three distinct groups, starting from the English-speaking group served by priests celebrating the Novus Ordo in English. These parishioners tend to be older people [what's up with old people not liking the Latin Mass??], not too many young ones among them, and they are not too interested in the traditional liturgy; then we have the Hispanic portion which makes up the majority of the parish, but there is not a whole lot of interest there either; and then we have the third group, which is attached to the Latin Mass, but they were already going to another Latin Mass before, and so when they came over I ended up with servers, schola and everything I needed for the High Mass. So, I have these three distinct groups, and so far they have been staying pretty distinct. Some of the first two groups occasionally went to the Traditional Mass, but not too many seem all that interested.

Q. Unlike what many detractors of the old rite claim, it does not seem that your parish is experiencing a particular “spirit of division”…

A. Not at all. Everything is very peaceful and there is no problem, apart from trying to stretch myself to take care of the three groups. And celebrating the Latin Mass. Two low Masses a week on Mondays and Fridays and the High Mass every Sunday, takes more energy and time because it requires more work to celebrate it well, and learning the old calendar, the traditional and the ordinary form of the mass

Q. And what does the bishop say?

A. Our Bishop, Bishop Edward Slattery, is very traditional [there you have it]and, as far as we know, is the only bishop who celebrates the ordinary rite ad orientem and celebrates himself the Traditional Latin Mass. So, he is very open and favourable, I would say. In fact, on April 24, 2010, he celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the extraordinary form to honor the fifth anniversary of the elevation to the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. It was the first Solemn High Mass celebrated at the National Shrine in more than forty years, before a reported audience of 3,500 including dignitaries such as Cardinal William Baum, as well as nearly 100 priests and seminarians. Moreover, Bishop Slattery brought the Fraternity of St. Peter into the diocese, who are based in the Most Precious Blood Parish, formerly known as the Parish of St. Peter [This is a Tulsa diocesan priest describing Bishop Slattery's legacy of traditional Catholic works in the diocese!].

Q. You are very blessed to have such a traditional bishop. Could you tell us a bit more about his background?

A. Yes, you are absolutely right. He is seventy-four and soon approaching the retirement age of 75. He originally comes from the Diocese of Chicago and it is no coincidence that this city has played and is playing such a prominent role in the development and spreading of the TLM, thanks to the presence there of the parish of St John Cantius under the guidance of Father Frank Phillips, who in 1998 founded the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, a Roman Catholic religious community of men dedicated to the restoration of the sacred in the context of parish ministry.

Q. Could you elaborate on this?

A. Well, St. John Cantius stands as an unique parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It’s here where the above Canons Regular are based, helping many Catholics discover a profound sense of the Sacred. As one can read in their website, their mission is precisely that of helping Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass in Latin and English, devotions, treasures of sacred art, and a rich program of sacred liturgical music, thereby permeating their lives with a renewed faith. Its mission is reflected in the community’s motto: Instaurare Sacra (Restoration of the Sacred).

In particular they are also offering training to those clergy wishing to celebrate the TLM and it’s here where my parish comes back into the picture, in the sense that we have here a Mexican priest and when he came to my parish to be my assistant, he saw that we were saying the Traditional Mass and asked if he could learn it. So I sent him to St. John Cantius in Chicago and he was number 1000 that they trained. If we consider that the Fraternity of St. Peter has trained probably another thousand, there may be some two thousand priests [Holy Moses!!]who are saying the Traditional Latin Mass in the US.

Q. Has the extraordinary form also influenced the way you celebrate the ordinary rite?

A. Yes, certainly. The biggest influence is the spirit, the silence, the reverence, the extreme care with which everything has to be done, to make sure for example that no particle of the Eucharist falls on the ground and/or remains on the celebrant’s fingers, or the need for him to keep his index finger and thumb together until these have been rinsed. I don’t think it would be a bad idea for the new rite to recover traditional discipline in this matter, a discipline fostering reverence and awe at what we are privileged to do. In a nutshell, the whole Traditional Rite of Mass from the beginning to the end draws us into the transcendent mystery of God.

Q. Are you hinting at differences, if any, between the two rites?

A. Exactly. It’s almost as if with the gestures, the silence, the words you can’t help but to be drawn into the mystery and contemplation. It comes out very strongly. With the novus ordo I never had the same sense. [that make's two of us Padre] I try to celebrate it as well as I can, I do it ad orientem [hope he isn't stopped from doing so], I don’t give communion in the hand, I do not have extraordinary ministers—but even here it is definitely still not the same thing. In my parish I have to celebrate both forms, in order to cater for the majority, who do not understand and are not that interested to know the history of our liturgy, how the liturgy was celebrated throughout almost the entire life of the Church. But we are working on that and certainly we are not giving up. For example, as of August we have introduced on Sunday a low mass at seven o’clock with the reading and preaching in Spanish, so we may have some of the novus ordo Mass people come to that Mass and maybe through that to the High Mass with preaching in English, and maybe actually it will have an enriching effect on the whole parish. To put it frankly, I think it is already having just such an effect, because the people who come to the Latin Mass come dressed appropriately, they have to keep silence and reverence in the church, so the other people see that and as a result their own behavior is also being positively influenced.