Friday, December 29, 2017

Second Okie Traditionalist Podcast!

Merry Christmas fellow Okie Trads and Beyond!   Up late sipping eggnog and gazing on our lit-up Christmas tree,  which we trimmed Christmas Eve. 

Here is my latest installment of The Okie Traditionalist,  me waxing and waning about philosophical subjects, to kick start me doing podcasts.   You can hear my voice!
I hit several main points about what is philosophy,  in under 15 minutes,  so in a few places I talk a bit fast, plus a bit nasally having a cold.

Please share on social media, and if you live near Tulsa,  check out sometime a Latin Mass offered at Most Precious Blood or Sts. Peter and Paul.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!!! Podcast #2 of The Okie Traditionalist Show! Plus a Christmas BONUS Podcast!

It's Christmas Night and I'm sitting here in my Okie Armchair sipping eggnog, watching my Netflix fireplace, and gazing at the gifts St. Nicholas brought me for Christmas:  a new Sunday missal, a tablet with keyboard, 2 polo shirts, and a real Straight Razor, the kind barber's use.  Deo gracias.

And I feel especially blessed.  Today I received Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and worshipped the Christ Child at the traditional Catholic Mass, and have the love of a good woman.  God (and physical therapy, and the intercession of St. Padre Pio) brought me out of a kind of medical crisis I experienced last Spring/Summer, a purgatorial trial that nonetheless truly renewed my spirit.  I am on track in my profession, which I love, and have nothing but hope and plans for the future.

All thanks to the All Loving Good God, and His Gift of True Mercy in the Incarnation of His Son, the Logos, the Word of God.  Immanuel, God is with us!

And tonight I have from my digital device to yours my next podcast:  Podcast #2 about the Philosophy of St. Thomas.  The Love of Wisdom. This talk answers the question, "What is philosophy?"  

Podcast #2


And because it's Christmas, I made a Christmas Bonus Podcast:  "The History of the Latin Mass Movement in Eastern Oklahoma."  Me ruminating and reflecting on Catholic tradition preservation here in my Local Church. Enjoy!

Christmas Bonus Podcast


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Ideal Christmas??!!

Its Five Days until Christmas, my fellow Okie Trads and Beyond! Which means last minute shopping and preparations.  Preparations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Except perhaps for the worst cynic, the inner child in all of us still hopes for an Ideal Christmas each year, whatever Providence will give us.

The Christmas Cynic

I suppose for everyone, there is a different image that comes to mind of the perfect Christmas.   After all, every country has their own version of Jolly Ol' St. Nicholas and how he brings Christmas presents to children.  For my German mother, the picture perfect image of Christmas was that Bavarian Christmas Eve, once upon a time, when her very poor mother brought all seven children to midnight Mass, and when Mass was over, stepping outside, the ground was covered in feet of snow.  All of us--fortunate ones--have some fond memory of that idyllic Christmas event. 

For me, the perfect Christmas was when I was 14 years old.  The whole extended family came over to our house for Christmas Eve, to eat little salami and rye bread sandwiches (very German), deviled eggs, little quiches, wine, etc, and later open a mountain of presents arranged under our real 10 foot tall Christmas tree (the kind they traditionally sell out in Bixby, just south of Tulsa). 

Then we were off to Midnight Mass, my dad singing in the choir, and me serving.  In front of the altar (novus ordo) was a large, beautiful manger, surrounded by Christmas trees lit with white lights.  Father would process in holding a little statue of the Baby Jesus, which he would place in the crib, while all stood watching with candles in a dark church.  Later, my future brother-in-law and I played my new Nintendo, and then slept in, to awaken to a new blanket of snow across the yard and woods.  Before a Turkey dinner, we went sledding, and drank hot cocoa.  The family were all on good terms, and joy and cheer were in the air.

Chesterton Loved Christmas

I was reading recently how Chesterton really loved Christmas as one of his most favorite times of the year, especially Christmas dinner with a Turkey.  He loved how Christmas makes the serious demand on us to grow closer as family and friends, and to more sincerely love one another.

The Paradox of Secularized Christmas

But there is also the negative paradox  or contradiction of the typical American, secularized Christmas, epitomized in the artwork of Norman Rockwell, who helped sell a lot of Christmas trees and sleds.

Whereas the very first Christmas emphasized the poverty of Our Lord and Savior, the secular Christmas emphasizes expensive presents, spending money, and impressing family with the perfect dinner and table placement.  All inherently good things, but out of proportion to the true celebration of Christmas.

Whereas the very first Christmas was filled with supernatural joy
and hope for the salvation of mankind, today's secular Christmas emphasizes material success and an artificial comfort enabled by the latest techno-gadgets (by the way, I love my Google Mini).

Whereas the very first Christmas was the manifestation of Unconditional Love for all mankind, in the Incarnation, today's Christmas is conditional.  Worldly conditions that mutilate a joyous, spiritual, family time into a consumeristic emotional pressure cooker, whose only relief is when Christmas is over Christmas night (whereas for us practicing Catholics, it has just begun).

A Norman Rockwell Christmas


Well, I still love the Christmas tree (we are trimming our tree Christmas eve this year) and the Christmas Turkey and Norman Rockwell, but this Christmas more than ever I am trying to focus my mental energies on the Nativity set that adorns our family altar.  There in the center is an empty crib, awaiting the birth of the Christ Child. 

My prayer is that all of you have a very Merry Christmas, and that you might taste the true Joy of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

(For Information about how to do Advent and Christmas in a traditional Catholic way, here is the Ideal resource, at Fish Eaters WebsiteCustoms)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Okie Traditionalist Show. First Podcast!

Hey everybody.  Okie Traditionalist here.  So I downloaded this free App on Google Play called Spreaker Studio.  Yes, with an "r."  The first 15 minutes are free, which I like.  At first, I will be writing up a blog post introducing and linking to the podcast, and later at some point putting them all in one spot on the blog.  

             See below Podcast #1

Disclaimer:  I am not, nor do I want to be, a professional academic nor Catholic Answers Apologist.  These podcasts (and blog posts) are nothing more or less than just that.

My first time doing a podcast.  I sometimes tend to talk fast, and talk while thinking at the same time, so my style is more like philosophizing and musing free-style than giving a surgically precise presentation.  Think Okie Will Rogers' weekly radio program vs. Anthony Robbins giving bullet points.

If you're on Facebook, you can also access it on my Timeline, at the profile for Joseph Ostermeir,
but if not, I'm also posting it to iHeartRadio.

If I have time, I'll try to do one podcast a week, and if I'm shooting for a day and time, I'm thinking Sunday evenings, around 8pm CST.

Find it interesting, entertaining, informative?  Share on FB, Twitter, Blogs, email, word-of-mouth.

First 10 Podcasts about the Philosophy of
St. Thomas Aquinas:

1. Intro.
2. What is philosophy?
3. Bio of St Thomas
4. Logic
5. Cosmology
6. Philosophical psychology
7. Ethics
8. Political philosophy
9. Metaphysics
10. Thomistic revival.

Without Further Ado,

I Give You...

The Okie Traditionalist Show
Podcast #1


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

About to Do a Podcast Series about Thomism

Just got home from enjoying some pizza and wine with a group of gentlemen,  which I am new to, and I'm inspired by a talk I heard
which relates to my vocation.

And I wanted to announce I'm planning a series of 10 fifteen minute podcasts discussing Philosophy,  according to St. Thomas.   I'm thinking to do one every few days,  or at least once a week,  and to post here.

It'll be me sharing my love of wisdom and St. Thomas.   And you guys will get to hear my real voice!  :)  Should be fun.

1. Intro
2. What is philosophy?
3. Bio of St Thomas
4. Logic
5. Cosmology
6. Philosophical psychology
7. Ethics
8. Political philosophy
9. Metaphysics
10. Thomistic revival.

Guten nacht meine freunde!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Common Problems in Marriages. Solutions.

I recall sitting in a pew hearing a sermon from a traditional priest how marriages between traditionalist Catholics have a relatively high rate of divorce, not dissimilar to secular marriages.

And I also recall driving the same priest across town and talking about this subject.  As I recall, he said that basically the problem on the male side is that men put work and money first as their foremost priority, and fall into bad, immature habits.  Basically addictions:  addiction to work/alcohol/video games/eating/you name it.  On the female side, they fall into the attitudes of feminism.  They often partly reject the traditional roles of a woman as being subordinate to their husbands, but often end up wearing the pants in the relationship.

That was one priest's take.  Do you agree?

I have my own opinions from being a married man.  The pressures of society to have a certain material level of financial success are enormous.  Those are inhuman, transhuman, unnatural physical forces that the male psyche is not designed to conform to, and still maintain a state of peace, harmony, stability, and order.  At first glance, those last words might seem effeminate.  They are not.  From a traditional Catholic persepective, they are manly.

And at the same time, women feel the burden of living up to the  modern, American socio-economic ideal, in order to make friends in the church and community, and to gain much needed emotional support as mothers and wives.  They are pressured to worship at the same altar of $ as men.  And if the man shows imperfections which suggest he might not be quite up to speed to secure a steady flow of modern comfort and convenience, then those faults can be easily targeted, even if he is hard-working and responsible.

The work place, as is every sphere of society today, is being more and more ruled by social Darwinism.  And Darwinism is a false science and philosophy.  At its heart, it denies an all loving Creator who rules over us with an all wise, and providing Providence.  Whereas the Catechism instructs families to be open to as many children as God and nature sends, as long as they are working, being responsible, and trusting in God's Providence, the modern society of 2017 places its trust in the same exact things man has always been tempted to place there trust in--the world.  St. Augustine tried to warm us about the difference between the City of God and the City of Man.  And Our Lord taught that one thing that controls and rules over the hearts of ungodly men is the disordered emphasis on $.  Not $ itself, but on a disordered emphasis on it.

The world says we must "live to work," rather than "work to live."  The modern way is to serve the collective.  In the end, it doesn't matter if that collective is the socialist state, or a capitalist beehive of greed and material excess.  The false god is still the same. 


I defer to what the Church has been saying these last millennia.  She says to pray the daily rosary, consecrate the home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to participate in Catholic Action (especially through the parish), and to order the family life towards religion.  To make religious practices such a prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, or doing the spiritual and corporal works of mercry, a priority over the pursuit of a six-figure salary, the newest I-phone, or materially impressing friends and acquaintances.

But I offer my own ideas for what they are worth.  And I will just speak to the men, being a guy.  Guys, this includes me, we must get to the center of reality in our daily lives:  prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Those sacrifices will only strengthen us, and in the end also help us in our careers and material goals.  Our model should be St. Joseph, who was a very quiet, hard-working man, constantly praying and making sacrifices.

Here's praying I myself can become a better man, and husband!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Finding Peace as a Traditionalist Catholic

Re-posting this post I wrote last January.

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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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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Up here at Arnie's Irish Pub Pondering Cigars vs. Pipes

Took a half day off from work to partake of the Feast Day.   That'd be the Feast of All Saints to all you non-papists or fallen away Catholics out there.   And thanks to Mark in the Comments box in the Kilkenny's post for recommending Arnie's Irish Pub downtown.   I'm sitting here for a spell before heading over to Mass.  The old Tridentine, that is. 

And guys,  this place is just awesome.   Kilkenny's is to Arnie's 
as central heat is to a wood-burning, potbelly stove.   It's as real as it gets.  No trendy,  hipster millenials here. Just Salt of the Earth people with all their flaws, which reminds me of the Irish.   Oh,  and they allow smoking,  for all you Tolkien Trads who love your cigar or pipe. 

Cigar or Pipe? 

Let's crack our knuckles and compare and contrast.   The cigar. 

They range from Swisher Sweets all the way up to your Cubans.   The cigar conjures up the hallowed image of the business elite making the toughest,  highest tier decisions in a smoke-filled room late a night.   The pipe reminds me of Gandalf sitting by the fire musing about the different kinds of humanoid beings in Middle Earth. 

I imagine that the Cigar fits well your Salesman,  with an expense account,  and a healthy bank account.   There is something symbolic about cigars and $$$.

It seems the cigar is a symbol of financial success. 

On the other hand,  I imagine the pipe fitting well the quiet, melancholic,  intellectual.   The teacher,  therapist, or  priest type. I
 don't know why.  But if I were to think of Chesterton, Lewis,  and Tolkien hanging out in a London pub (did those 3 ever get together I wonder),  I just can't imagine them smoking cigars as much as pipes. 
Maybe Chesterton would have pulled out a cigar. 

I'm more a pipe kind of guy I guess.   I mean,  as ya'll know from my posts asking for help with a laptop--and most recent one about a much needed new armchair (please,  pretty please) --my wallet is kinda thin right now.   A couple $5 bags of good quality pipe tobacco from Ted's Pipe Shop in Utica Square does me just fine.   

Reflects the Hierarchy of Life on Earth. 

Not my idea,  but God decided the world of Nature--and Human Nature which flows from it--is a Hierarchy.   A dog has higher value in the eyes of God than an amoeba.  Both are good,  but if excellence in design corresponds to being like unto God and thus superior to that which is less like God,  then sentient, thinking, feeling beings are superior to single-celled organisms.   Of course. 

And so too in the Human Kingdom. You've got your aristocrats (unfortunately today mostly devolved into a state of oligarchy), 

and your Common man.   God's design, not mine,  no sir.   Among common men,  you have the professions and trades,  both of which traditionally gave modest pay.   Until the second part of the 20th century,  for example,  doctors were at best middle-class. 

And so you will always have your smoke-filled rooms of cigar-smoking,  club member,  aristocratic (bad version = oligarchic) financial elites,  and your Common man who smokes pipes and cigarettes and drinks cheap Whiskey. 

Happy Feast of All Saints Fella Okie Trads!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Up Here at Kilkenny's

Worked late tonight.   Hanging out in a quiet booth at Kilkenny's Irish Pub in Tulsa (I'm half Irish-American and half German), drinking a Bud Light and eating bangers and cheddar cheese.   Just finished an Irish Whiskey. 

Lately ponderings.  Need to review how to take Max advantage of obtaining Indulgences during All Souls-tide, if that's a word.  Scroll down to read my post about Indulgences.    I'm thinking on All Souls Day you can gain 3 (!), under the usual conditions as it were, applied to the Poor Souls only

Tomorrow is Halloween.   I can imagine some Catholic mothers 
worried if Trick-or-Treating is a near occasion of sin.   Well this is one of the, as I call it,  trad theological errors, if you ask me.   It's a fine line,  but you CAN do Halloween in a traditional Catholic way, imo.  

One alternative to the psychopathic horror show that is secular Halloween, is the All Saints Day Party. 

And guess what?   We Okie Trads
in the Diocese of Tulsa of Eastern Oklahoma (new name! Btw, I often refer to our Local Church that way), have TWO All Saints Day Parties coming up! 

1.  After next Sunday Mass at MPB, I hear. 

2.  A week later--on a Saturday-- at a SSPP family's house.  (email me if you'd like an invite). 

Happy All Hallows Eve, fella Okie Trads! 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Some Thoughts on Indulgences


After I was given a practically brand spankin' new laptop (Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series, Touchscreen) by a fellow Okie Trad reader of the blog, another reader emailed me offering two laptops.  I declined due to the recent gift but they insisted and sent me the laptops.  Now I have 3 new (to me) laptops!

"Anonymous" asks we pray for the Pour Souls in Purgatory, in light of their contribution, and that I write a blog post about Indulgences.  Cracking my knuckles, I'll see what I can do "Anoynmous."  And THANK YOU again for the two laptops.  Wow and double wow.


Indulgences.  The remittance of temporal punishment due to sin, as a canonical act of mercy by either the pope or the local bishop.  i.e. To reduce Purgatory time. 

And friends, if you haven't ever read what private revelation says about purgatory, (cheapest version: HERE), you might be surprised to learn how real it really is.  The author drives home how horrible it is that you will gladly embrace regular prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to satisfy your sin debt on this side of the River Styx. 

Let's see, you've got your partial indulgence which remits punishment on par with the quality of your devotion when performing the prayer and/or other devotional act.  In fact saying one Hail Mary with complete humility and no holds barred charity for the Almighty can theoretically satisfy the debt for a lifetime of sin.

Priest Dies, Sees Hell,
Purgatory, and Heaven
A Must Watch Folks

And then you've got your plenary indulgence.  That takes care of the whole kit and caboodle. If gained, it remits all temporal punishment due to sin. It ain't as simple though as doing the necessary act.

An example of a plenary indulgence is saying a rosary in a group.  But the kicker is there are a few additional requirements the pope wants us to take care of to get the complete benefit. 

A) Go to confession/communion within 21 days before or after the required act (the previous law stated within one week but was changed in the early 2000s, thanks I think to JP2)

B) Say a prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary will suffice).

C) This here is the most challenging part:  "no attachment to venial sin."

That last part, I've observed, often confounds the earnest believer trying to earn the plenary indulgence. 

As an aside, I can imagine some readers being like "Wha Okie Trad?  'Earn?'  We don't 'earn' our salvation!"  To which I would respond, yes we do participate in "earning" our salvation; its not all on God as Martin Luther would have us believe. 

Incidentally, when he objected to indulgences he later admitted he had been ignorant of what the Church teaches on the subject.  Ya'll let me know in the Comm section if any factoid of my presentation is off and I can duly edit it.

                          "Solo Fides, Okie Trad"

Not to worry.  The objection I raised in the last paragraph I heard addressed by a priest once in a conference.  He said the kind of "detachment from venial sin" required to earn the plenary indulgence
is not absolute. 

We don't have to be 100% free of concupiscence, the weakness of the flesh, or sin.  It is a basic kind of detachment.

But that kind of detachment is more a product of moral disposition, or habit of the soul, over time, than mustering all the spiritual strength you can at the time of performing the indulgence act. 

For example, if you are praying a rosary with your family, and at the end offer the indulgence prayers for the pope's intentions, you don't have to grit your teeth, take a deep breath, and drive out all the evil inclinations from your mind in one fell swoop to gain the full, plenary indulgence.  You simply have to be detached from sin. 

But to assure yourself that you are, the habit of detachment from all sin could be cultivated through daily prayer, fasting, and almsgiving--the three forms of penance recommended by the Church since the beginning.

There are all sorts of ways to gain partial indulgences.  Every prayer of the rosary--the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Creed are all indulgenced prayers.  "Ejaculatory prayers" are a common way to gain indulgences throughout the day. 

That old school term means to vocalize, even with a whisper, short simple prayers such as:

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph I give you my heart and my soul;  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph assist me in my last agony and death;" Jesus, Mary, and Joseph I breathe forth my soul and peace to you."

Here is the official list of approved indulgences:

Enchiridion  (cool name)

And rules or general conditions:

My favorite plenary indulgence is the daily family rosary.  But during the time of All Saints Day and All Souls Day you can earn several indulgences, for the Poor Souls: 

A few other interesting aspects about Indulgences.

If you have had the habit of prayer during your lifetime, get this, you can gain a plenary indulgence at the moment of death!  Or, if you are blessed to have Anointing of the Sick, confession, communion, and the "last rites" at the time of your death (remember we're all doing to die!), the priest will/should give you the Apostolic Blessing which carries with it a plenary indulgence from the pope. 

In either case, if properly received, the departed soul will go straight through the Pearly Gates.  That's a comfort for Catholics reading this whose deceased loved ones received this special grace before death.  I remember my father receiving the Apostolic Blessing before passing on.  But I still have Masses said for him.


Indulgences are a marvelous aspect of the spiritual life, and in fact help give form to the spiritual life.
Just think about it.  Those requirements for indulgences are synonymous with the ordinary means of saving your soul:  prayers, fasting, almsgiving, confession, communion. 

The Saints actually teach that it is a greater act of charity and duty to pray for the dead than spiritual or corporal works of mercy to our fellow man here below.  Yup, that blows my mind too.  But gaining indulgences for them, and us, we participate more fully and intimately in the Communion of the Saints, on the level of the Church Militant (us) praying for and with the Church Suffering (souls in Purgatory).

Did I miss any important aspect of Indulgences?  Let me know in the Comm. Box below.  And thanks again to "Anonymous" for their generous gift of two laptops.  Ya'll please pray for their intentions:  for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

PS  My next post is a compilation of interesting facts about St. Padre Pio, one of my favorite saints. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Allure and Danger of Eastern Orthodoxy

Re-posted from several weeks ago. 

The Allure and Danger of Eastern Orthodoxy

Preface: this here post is written as a sign of appreciation to OkiePapist, who loaned me a laptop, which right now is saving my right thumb from developing osteoarthritis. I take my Sooner Cowboy hat off to OkiePapist. Thank you kind sir. He chose this topic, which I hope you’ll find fun and thought-provoking.

And as a Resource to Share with Catholics Considering Orthodoxy
I welcome Fall. It is my favorite season. As an outdoors-man, of course there’s the Fall colors, cool evenings that warrant the beloved campfire, and an excuse to switch from coffee to hot chocolate. Well who needs an excuse for hot chocolate? Especially if you spike it.

And there are the Fall events I love to attend. The Fair, Oktoberfest, Halloween hayrides, All Saints Day bonfires, and the Thanksgiving dinner.

But Fall would not be the same without a requisite stop at

St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma in downtown T-town, for the annual Greek Festival. Its the first weekend in October. As in next weekend!

Interestingly, I believe at one time—being then less ecumenical—they called it the Greek Orthodox Festival, which I personally would actually prefer. Less P.C. I think. That is after all what they are celebrating. Yes, their Greek culture. I love their buttery, nutty baklava. But I also do appreciate their Orthodox Faith. Which is basically very close to the Catholic Faith btw, doctrinally speaking, more or less.

Side Note.

As a side note, it is a shame most Catholics haven’t an inkling of knowledge about the Eastern Church, or perhaps that it even exists. As for me myself, I wouldn’t have an inkling either had I not stumbled upon Eastern rites in Tulsa. I remember a trad friend from OKC once got his boxers in a bunch when I brought up going to the Byzantine Mass. He asked if it was valid or Catholic, and didn’t seem to accept my thorough explanation, as if in his mind, only the western, Latin Church has existed these past 2000 years.

Anyway, I like to drop in for an hour or two to listen to the Greek music--think the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding--and take a tour of their church, usually led by one of the bearded, married Fathers, wearing his long, wide, black robe, and large chain and cross, across his chest.

Though I have yet to see one of their bad-ass, cool-looking bishops, with the super-manly beard and the tall, wide, black hat with a kind of black veil going down the shoulders. Which reminds me of the Lithuanian Orthodox priest in Seinfeld, who tried to instruct George. Remember that episode?

               So the tour group settles into the back pew listening to the priest’s talk. Those sentimentally gazing at all the Icons, I imagine to be Catholics from the diocese. The rest look perplexed, who I imagine to be Evangelicals. But I lean forward, mystified by the priest’s talk about Icons.

The Icon. A Metaphor of Eastern Christianity.

According to Orthodox--and Eastern Catholic, btw--Iconography, the Icon is not a mere, pretty symbolic reminder of someone in heaven. Something to sentimentally gaze at. The painted Image is also a “sacramental,” which itself mystically connects us with the person that it represents, by means of us venerating it. Especially kissing it. Yup, kissing it. Saliva and all. Men and women alike.

The symbol calls to mind indirectly the presence of the person in heaven, but get this, not my idea, the image also signifies directly the saint, being literally manifested in a mystical way through that very iconographic image. Yes, it blows my mind too, and it is hard to articulate being a modern Westerner, but the same basic theological principles of sacred images are also in the Latin Church. Its just that the theology of sacred images, especially controversial in the first millenium of Christianity, were more worked out in the East.

The holy Icon is the sacred work of a Church-commissioned artist, who first meditated on the holy person they are trying to manifest on canvass. They are instructed to first meditate on the life of the Saint, or Our Lord.

On the Scriptures, Patristic writings, and theological treatises of Iconography, and the canon laws on sacred images, before meticulously and spiritually transmitting in two-dimensional form the sacred image. The end game is to represent as accurately as possible, historically and theologically, the religious reality of that person, for veneration and imitation.

Eastern Orthodoxy is Alluring.

Eastern Orthodoxy is alluring, especially for certain disenfranchised Catholics who attend the Latin Mass. There does seem to be a trend of certain trads going Orthodox. This article is partly written for them.

I know of one family that were very committed traditional Catholics, of the SSPX-persuasion, who suddenly left their chapel and joined a kind of traditionalist, “Old Calendar” version of a Russian Orthodox Chapel, that just happened to be a few miles from their neighborhood. Maybe this article might reach them.

                                                                               In fact, what they joined was a schism, on top of a schism, on top of more schism. Eastern Orthodoxy has always been divided not as much by liturgical rites and episcopal jurisdictions, as by national-politico-cultural lines and petty disputes about things like liturgical calendars. And when I say “divided” I mean certain “schisms” between Orthodox Churches. Ask an Orthodox, and I think they will say that yes that’s how it’s been since they broke with Rome around 1000 A.D.

This family joined the “true” Orthodox Church because it used the old calendar and did not participate in ecumenism. To them, almost all the mainstream Orthodox Churches are not true Churches. Kind of a sedevacantist version of an Orthodox chapel.

They were considered in schism from the mainstream Russian Orthodox Church, which itself is the subject of separation from a # of other Orthodox Churches. This family is also in schism from the mother of all Orthodox Churches, headed by the Patriarch of Constantinople in Turkey, who is considered the “first among equals” of all Orthodox bishops. It seems to have replaced for the Orthodox the Apostolic tradition of the Church of Rome having pride of place. It is an odd paradox. And not according to the teaching of the Early Church Fathers.

Another short anecdote. Recently a well respected young man converted to traditional Catholicism, but very quickly and suddenly vanished, re-converting to Eastern Orthodoxy, which I hear left people scratching their heads why. Hey guy, if you’re reading, this post is written for you too!
                 Is the Byzantine Chapel still in the Basement at St. Augustine's in north Tulsa?                                                                              I also remember attending the Byzantine Mass in Tulsa, and suddenly one Sunday there were no acolytes to serve the Divine Liturgy. These two brothers--perhaps rightly?-- objected to Latinizations that had still remained despite post-conciliar liturgical reform to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostum. That is basically the Mass (Divine Liturgy) handed down from the Apostles, in Greece, to the Eastern Catholic Church, which is also almost identically used by the Eastern Orthodox. The brothers joined St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox in downtown Tulsa, and I don’t think it was for the baklava. Though cute Greek girls wearing skirts may have drawn them in, I wonder.

I wonder if they wound up novice monks at Mt. Athos in Greece, the spiritual, monastic Mecca for the Eastern Orthodox. It is the Fontgombault of the Eastern Church. It almost seems like a particular phenomenon for tradition-minded Catholic men to join the Orthodox with visions of becoming a Mt. Athos monk. I suspect most end up getting married. After all, there is only so much space in that venerated monastery on the rocky hill overlooking the sea.
                  And this phenomenon has been talked about over and over in the online traditional Catholic forums the last 17 years that I’ve read them. Threads about this aren’t as frequent as they are about the new Mass or Pope Francis. Tbh, those threads make me yawn. 
But they pop up every couple months or so.   Often it is a young Catholic man flirting with Orthodoxy, challenging the supposedly spiritually dry Latin Rite Catholics in the forum on points of doctrine that were already settled by the Early Church Fathers themselves. Hello.

A short perusal of the classic 3 volume set The Early Church Fathers, along the lines of convert Cardinal Newman’s own inquiry about the Papacy, will verify that the original Sacred Tradition of the Church always recognized the Bishop of Rome as having “Pride of Place,” but also Universal Jurisdiction over all bishops. Yup. Universal. Jurisdiction. Those historical facts are as plain as a round Earth, or gravity causing falling objects.

The Context.

I find that any religious conversion has a context, and from what I gather that context is the declining state of the Roman Catholic Church, in particular its practical loss of ecclesial Tradition as a three-dimensional, organic dimension of church life.

The Catholic-converting-to-Orthodoxy is disillusioned and confused, as is everyone else. They yearn for the sacred, the mystical, the timeless. They want a theology, spirituality, and liturgy that transcends ideology. Something that goes above and beyond the more human, naturalistic, and rationalistic mindset that has sometimes taken over parts of the Latin Church. They rightfully are turned off by the dry, Thomistic “manuals,” the short-sighted focus on St. Thomas himself in contrast to his Wisdom, all Scholastic and Patristic writers, and the very quick, drone-like way the traditional Roman rite could sometimes be celebrated in the past. And sometimes still today, to be honest.

The Catholic-converting-to-Orthodoxy is fatigued by church politics, and polemical writings. The Pontifical Magisterium is not what the first thing they tend to think of when they think of the Faith; rather, the Gospel of Jesus Christ pops up on their screen. It is a false dichotomy, but I can understand it. Considering the state of the Latin Church, I sympathize with them.

The Alluuure.

While turning away from a perceived Western rationalism, they turn toward the Allure of the East. Part of that allure is obvious to the Latin Mass Catholic. The Eastern Liturgy is out of this world beautiful, enchanting, and spiritually penetrating. It is stable, without liturgical dancers, incense bowls, or clown Masses. It is basically how St. Paul worshiped with the first Christians in the first churches in Antioch, Greece. They used sacred images, what would become the Eastern chant--which sounds quite haunting, in a good way--and tons of candles.

Listen to some Eastern Christian chant HERE.

It was/is a sacred festival of the senses, culminating in receiving the Eucharist under the appearance of leavened bread, placed on a little spoon, which is dipped into the Precious Blood, and consumed by the worthy believer. I can tell you from my Byzantine rite experience, Holy Communion in that manner is most edifying.

Btw, let’s call Msgr. Brankin and bring it back to Tulsa already! If it was once at the FSSP-shared parish church before, how about support it being offered on occasion at least at Most Precious Blood? I would so be there. Fr. Sherman, the former celebrant of this rite, can only do so much, considering he has now passed on to the hereafter. RIP, Fr. Gary!

“Wisdom be attentive!”

- a common prayer in the Divine Liturgy.

The Danger.

But I think part of the allure of the Christian East, is a hypnotic gravitation to the East itself. To the Oriental, Mystical, and Esoteric, if not also Gnostic. It reminds me of secular Americans turning to the East, that is towards Eastern, Asian religion. And lets face it, if your soul is churning over and over in search of the transcendental, Buddhism, while horribly pagan, is also very mystical, humanly speaking.

John Senior meditated on this drift to the East in his must-read-for-all-trads-who-dare-call-themselves-trads, The Death of Christian Culture (its a must read folks). Modern, western man has fallen into a perpetual state of “Ennui,” or deep, lifeless boredom over existence itself. The Catholic-converting-to-Orthodoxy is probably wrestling with this same sort of Ennui. They want to come alive spiritually. And sometimes they may not find that at some Latin Mass chapels where the main Mass is a Low Mass, or spiritual piety might gravitate to a 1950’s-ism form of externalistic piety. These Catholics on the verge of schism from the Apostolic See, are violently reacting to modernity everywhere they experience it. And I don’t blame them for that internal reaction.

But flip the coin over, and truth be told, the simplistic ideology ingrained into the catechumen to Orthodoxy is this:

1. It is said, the Church of Rome is bad, bad, and bad. And bad. It is a dry well of heresies and worldliness. And this was centuries before Vatican II.

2. It is said, the True spirituality is in the East. Just Eastern liturgy and spirituality, and monks and families. Roman liturgy? The spirituality of St. Theresa of Avila or St. Ignatius of Loyola? Wha? A variety of religious orders with varying degrees of contemplative vs. active emphasis, to meet the varying needs of the Church? Too complex. Keep it simple silly. The Desert Fathers didn’t form Societies of Apostolic Life, man. They just retreated and prayed the psalms, as every good Christian should do. Well, you get the picture.

3. So repudiate the Holy Father, confess your heresy, embrace only the first 7 Ecumenical Councils (forget about the other 16), and shazam, you’re Orthodox.

Yet the divide is a little deeper than that. Yes, there is the bad, false, and ugly in the West; but there is also the good, true, and beautiful. Likewise, yes there is the good, true, and beautiful in the East; but there is also the bad, false and ugly too. That needs to be admitted and looked at.


Where do I begin? If there are sins against the divine Church within the Church itself, as in heresy, then of course there is going to be heresy in the Eastern Church. But what remedied the problem and cut off the dead vines from the tree? When Eastern Christians were/are united to the Church of Rome, the answer to that question is divinely simple and divinely inspired.

The answer is the Christ-instituted Pope. The central authority. The Father who properly orders the Household, while the Mother and children submit and obey. It is a principle of nature and human nature, as the Greek philosophers taught, that for a household to survive and be properly ordered and united, it requires a Final authority to make certain decisions that only one person can make, not two or three or the many. But for certain critical, life-preserving executive decisions which require some kind of formal, God-instituted, central authority, the buck must stop with one man.
                                                                                                   For the Church instituted by Christ, that man is the Pope, the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Patriarch of the West, the Servant of the Servants of God. He is is the Vicar of Christ whose final word solves very tough doctrinal and disciplinary questions and restores unity. And thank God He gave our Church this source of authority and unity.

But there is no such thing that truly corresponds to what we call Pope, in the Eastern Orthodox Church. There is a Coptic Patriarch who uses the word in his title, but the meaning is very general in the sense of “Father.” “Pope” comes from “Papa” meaning “Father.” He is the Father of Egyptian Orthodox Christians.

But consider this, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, as it is called, there are many unsolved doctrinal conflicts that for 1000 years remaine unsolved and divisive. Artificial birth control--something intrinsically contrary to the natural law design of the procreative act--is allowed in certain circumstances. Well, its not like their parish priest is asking how often parishioners use condoms. Wide use of birth control is tacitly permitted. If you thought Pope Francis was contradictory about the Church’s teachings for the “Communion-for-the-Divorced-and-Remarried-without-Annulment-living-in Adultery” category, look at the Orthodox Church.

Remember, Our Lord ended Old Testament divorce and forbade it. His teaching clearly means “til-death-do-us-part.” About every Orthodox bishop will admit that in theory. But in pastoral practice nearly every Orthodox bishop publicly allows in their parishes a man to divorce his wife and remarry another woman in a state of adultery, and still receive Holy Communion in good standing with the community. Divorce-and-remarriages are in fact allowed. They are allowed up to 3 “marriages.” The 2nd or 3rd aren’t considered sacramental, but they are publicly blessed by the Orthodox Church.

Btw, this is probably what is in store in the future for us Catholics, after the next couple Synods or so.

But what any good Pentecostal will tell you--which trads often are compared to--marriage is for life. A man leaves his wife for another woman, that is what the bible calls adultery. And by allowing this 3 times, and to still receive the Holy Mysteries, objectively that is officially permitting and condoning adultery and Eucharistic sacrilege. Kyrie eleison (use of Greek intended).

Even if I were to be allured by Orthodoxy, those glaring contradictions would stop me in my tracks.

And while Eastern spirituality to a certain depth is refreshingly spiritual, it is because of the nature of autonomous, conflicting, Orthodox Churches, and that whole, fractionated, 1000 year old, ecclesial paradigm (before 1000 A.D. East and West were united under the Apostolic See), that the most bizarre and strangest notions of piety and spiritual practice reveal themselves.

Without one central authority representing Christ on Earth, nutty, pharisaical religious practices, that all religious and non-religuous people dislike, will grow and spread through the mainstream. Just as pietism or quietism or charismaticism represent the nuttiness of Protestantism, so the world of Orthodoxy also has its special monk gurus, hidden secret theology books that the elect are privileged to discover, and extreme forms of asceticism that St. Anthony of the Desert would have thought were whacked out.

This is not my opinion by the way. It is a historical, religious reality in Orthodoxy that any recognized theologian or academic of religion will describe.


So the spirituality of Orthodoxy is not as simple as the Jesus Prayer beads, bearded monks and priests, or the mystical beauty of the Icon. Think gazing up at the admitted beauty of the Taj Mahal in India, the colorfulness of Hindu dress, or the allure of their Bhagavad-Gita sacred text. But then imagine walking down an alley in New Dheli where you can buy any kind of religious, Hindu souvenir, depending on what school of Hindu spirituality you like. I am sorry, but many converts or revertsto Catholicism, from Orthodoxy, report the bizarre spiritual and theological underbelly of it.


Taj Mahal

The new Catholic-to-Orthodoxy converts will find out, given enough time.


I am already being long-winded, so I’ll just enumerate a few ideas.

1. Promote Eastern Catholicism. The Byzantine Liturgy under Rome. Compared to the Latin church, the Eastern Catholic side of the Catholic Church is pretty darn traditional, even with their somewhat watered down, conciliar liturgical reforms, and ethnic enclaves.

2. Reform the Latin Church. Bring back Tradition so religious, believing Catholics will have something to sink their teeth into, and a reason not to leave. Especially the traditional Roman rite. And no matter how millenial or trans-human people today may have become, the primordial need in human nature for the sacred and mystical will kick in. Many young people will fall in love with the traditional Mass. They already are.

3. Use “true ecumenism” to reunite the Orthodox to Rome. Now is the hour. This is the 100th Anniversay of Our Lady at Fatima’s Apparitions, where she wanted a conversion specifically of Russia. It was no coincidence that Russia was and is the largest contingent of Eastern Orthodox. I heard that the famous Fr. Gruner (RIP) Fatima Center is heading to Moscow!!! They want to bring the message of Fatima to the doorsteps of the Kremlin (or whatever the former Soviet Union calls it now).

Well this has been a fun piece, and a pleasure to accommodate OkiePapist’s requests, without whose laptop loan certainly this verbose piece would not have been possible. Thanks again OkiePapist! You d’ man.

Ya’ll let me know what you think of this article, and share.

Oh and who wants to meet Joseph Ostermeir, the Okie Trad? We can meet up at the Greek Festival for some baklava!

The Comm Box is Open!