Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Finding Peace as a Traditionalist Catholic

Re-posting this post I wrote in 1/17.   Some thoughts of which I think most if not all fellow trads can relate.  Edited for brevity.

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So I just finished watching an old 2003 EWTN interview 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 the 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. 
Do you ever? 

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 in in Church 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.  I think you would agree.  These are questions I ask myself from time to time as I navigate the Latin Mass movement itself, since attending the truly extraordinary form of the Mass beginning nearly two decades ago.  

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?

I think most trads are aware of this,  but not all are okay about openly discussing it.

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The Seven Sacraments

But I'm finding myself more and more lately reminding myself that our faith is not in men, or priests, or eachother,  or the traditionalist movement,  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.

Traditionalism can be paradoxical.  As a movement it is necessary, for access to a lived Catholic tradition, but in my experience sometimes 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. 

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 sometimes to be semi-closed off or even 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, it's understandable to raise your rifle, but later discover they share the same faith and values,  despite differences in temperament and character. 

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The trad parish/chapel is a semi-strange phenomenon to me, growing up in the parochial system.  In my experience, the group dynamic very understandably tends to turn away from the drowning,  institutional Church to private devotion, from the diocesan 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 is deliberate.   As individuals, I find your average traditionalist Catholic to be more virtuous than your average non-traditionalist Catholic.  After all, most are really there at the TLM with the clear intention of being a faithful, orthodox, practicing, and therefore virtuous 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?  

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. 

I guess what I'm confessing in this post is that I am not exactly 100% at peace as a traditionalist Catholic, in any sector of the Church,  which is as much my own fault as it is of our church lesdership.  Finding spiritual peace during this period is a major challenge.   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.

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Let's put it this way.   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.

I must admit, I've never quite fit into a traditionalist mold, or tried to.  If a guy at Mass likes wearing baby blue suit coats or green suspenders to Mass, I'm A-ok with that.   Odds are if you follow this blog and can appreciate my point of view,  for what it's worth,  you are too. 

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 truly), 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 soliloquy. Pax vobiscum!

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Monday, May 28, 2018

The Allure and Danger of Eastern Orthodoxy

Re-posted from last Fall.  This one is on the longer side. 

The Allure and Danger of Eastern Orthodoxy

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

Holy Trinity 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, who were discerning a religious vocation, 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 the Greek Orthodox Church 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.
or 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.


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). 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The movie "Catholics"

Edit:  re-posting this from a year ago.  Taking a break from writing at the moment.  Good, long work week, but exhausted.  Resting, swimming, drinking my low carb go-to fermented beverage of choice.   Sunday will be High Mass and lunch at Ollie's Restaurant in Berryhill near the FSSP parish.  We'll visit cemeteries Monday, then chill (in the literal sense of the word) at the must-go-to Oklahoma oasis Blue Hole Spring.  

I was chatting today in the comment section of yesterday's post with my fellow Trad Blogger Oakes Spalding about the cinematic history of Martin Sheen.  I'm musing about this as I sit here another night running the next Netflix episode of The West Wing.  Sheen is about as liberal as they come, but he has some deep Catholic roots, at least culturally, and I respect his style and gravitas on screen.  That includes an old movie from the 1970s he starred in called "Catholics," later renamed "Conflict."

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I agree with Oakes the end leaves something to be desired, but I think this film almost qualifies as a much-watch for trad families, or at least it deserves a spot in the dvd collection.  I picked up a few copies once at the dollar store to hand out.

For those who haven't seen this picture, it is about an Irish monastery that refuses to say the New Mass and sticks to the Latin Mass.  Sheen's character is a liberation theology, secularist Vatican priest investigating the traditionalist stance of the community.

One favorite scene from the movie shows the laity gathered on a hill while one of the priest monks offers the traditional Mass on a rock altar.   It is a stoic but heroic scene as Irish trads gather in cloudy, rainy climate typical of Ireland, solemnly observing the ancient rite.   I also liked the scene where they carry out a large, baked salmon into the refectory as the monks relish sharing a piece of newly caught fish.  The best scene to me is when the abbot, the liberal priest, and an old priest monk are talking in a stable as the old monk gently feeds a baby lamb while admonishing the young liberal Sheen about a secularized Mass facing the people in the vernacular.

Let me know what you think of it if you've seen it, or check out some clips here:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Long Hard Day

Winni pooh blessings fella Okie trads and beyond.   Just home from a long work day.

Enjoy this Thomas Kinkade painting,  as you yourself settle in for the evening.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Fr. Ripperger: Explains the meaning of Catholic Tradition

The first time I ever heard of Fr. Chad Ripperger was when he was with the FSSP, when I read an excellent article in which he explained the full meaning of Catholic Tradition.  He was explaining the philosophical divide between Catholics who find it necessary/helpful to identify as "traditional Catholics" vs. those who identify as "conservative Catholics."   He doesn't give some nostalgic, ossified opinion of what "Tradition" is, but rather explains from Church theology itself what it means.

So here is another traditional priest writing in the Latin Mass Magazine, an article that has helped countless Catholics for years discover Catholic Tradition, including yours truly.  

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fr. X here in the Heartland: a Sympathetic Review of Archbishop Lefebvre's Biography

Preface:  taking a two month break from writing more polemical posts,  so here is an article written by another traditional Catholic, this time a priest.  I was reminded of this article yesterday reading this recent, similar, refreshingly sympathetic post by Fr. Z:  LINK.  

This review, published in the Latin Mass Magazine, was written by a diocesan priest who now offers the Traditional Latin Mass, here in the Heartland.   Let's call him "Fr. X."

Latin Mass Magazine | Fall 2004 |   Father X  (name edited to protect the Anonymity of said priest; illustrative photos added)

Marcel Lefebvre -- by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais.

Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais is one of the four episcopal "sons" of Archbishop Lefebvre, uniquely qualified to offer a definitive account of Lefebvre’s life and career, much of which he personally witnessed. His personal experience of the archbishop, and his having been formed in the priesthood – and the episcopate – by Lefebvre himself, certainly provide a much-needed "inside view" of the prelate’s motivations and character, something often lacking in the thirty-second soundbite polemics of our day. 

Nevertheless, the work undertaken here by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais is not a personal memoir. Instead, this is a work comprising years of painstaking research, a comprehensive review of documentation and literature, and a gathering of interviews and anecdotes from virtually all relevant sources regarding the life of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.  While some aspects of the development of Lefebvre’s character, like that of all men, must remain a mystery known only to God, yet perhaps it is now possible to better understand, from the trajectory of the life, and that of the Second Vatican Council, the decisions that he faced near the end.

Tissier de Mallerais traces for us the origins of Lefebvre’s family and describes in detail the environment and the times in which he was born and came of age. This son of a locally prominent French industrialist and resistor during both World Wars, Rene Lefebvre, and of his mother, the gentle mystic, Gabrielle, was given an exceptional formation in the Catholic religion in his earliest years. He was one of eight children, five of whom received religious vocations. As a responsible factory owner, Rene faithfully worked for the implementation of Catholic social principles in chaotic postwar France, while Marie led the children to a deep love for Church and faith, and for the prayerful union with God which both engendered in her. 

Taught by his family to follow the light of Catholic faith and principles and to apply them in tumultuous times, Marcel was blessed next with good and faithful priest-mentors, and with a complete Thomistic seminary formation – a rare gem, even then. At last he discerned a missionary vocation that led him to the Holy Ghost Fathers. The author shows us how this industrious missionary demonstrated striking gifts of planning, organization and leadership along with orthodox doctrine which led him to a singular missionary career in Africa, becoming the first Archbishop of Dakar and the Apostolic Delegate for French Black Africa and Madagascar. The fruits of the young prelate’s work in Africa are quite stunning; and through it all his character develops into that of a prudent, gentle father figure, careful, superior, and discerning defender of orthodoxy – and especially, that of a disciplined man of principle who has renounced his own ideas in order to always "think with the mind of the Church." 

Archbishop Lefebvre’s involvement in the Second Vatican Council is described in detail and makes a fascinating story. His alarm grew as he saw that same "mind of the Church" seem to question its own principles, and he was far from silent or passive through the proceedings, building coalitions and making interventions. But he was too late, outnumbered, and out-foxed. The deck was stacked against him. Tissier de Mallerais also addresses the questions about Lefebvre’s own signatures on the Council documents. 

The picture painted of Lefebvre is not that of an implacable reactionary who could not bear the onslaught of progress and change. Such a man could not have made such incredible inroads in missionary Africa in prior decades. Lefebvre was quite willing to make adaptations and adjustments whenever necessary or prudent. In many ways he was quite flexible and even innovative regarding the application of the apostolate, but always without compromising the integrity of the Faith and the sacred tradition of the Church. After all, was not the unbroken transmission of that Faith to souls, for their salvation, the very purpose of the apostolate and the mission of the Church?

Obedient and not unwilling to adapt, nevertheless Lefebvre became a witness to the "autodemolition of the Church" (as Paul VI put it) during the postconciliar years – the demolition, especially, of the integrity of the priesthood and the liturgy. Novel doctrine regarding religious liberty and the social reign of Christ the King were also foremost concerns.

Although he was supposed to retire, he was deeply concerned, and, responding to the pleas of others, he took action to foster the formation of holy priests and the preservation of tradition – the missionary bishop to the end! The struggles of the early years of the formation of the Society of St. Pius X, and mounting opposition and intrigue from the French episcopate, are recounted in great detail. With this biography, the light of day now shines on the obstructionist tactics of his enemies, part of a long chain of events that would climax with Lefebvre’s decision to consecrate four bishops without papal mandate, in order to insure the survival of the Society after his death. Dramatic behind-the-scenes encounters with popes and cardinals fill the pages; but in the end, we are presented the picture of a man at peace. "Tradidi quod et accepi," he said, quoting St. Paul. It was to be his epitaph: "I have handed on what I received." 

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais’ biography of Archbishop Lefebvre is replete with quotations, documentation, primary source references and firsthand interviews. Numerous maps and charts help the reader to orient himself as he follows the remarkable story of this lifelong defender of Catholic truth. Now that nearly forty years have passed since the close of Vatican II, perhaps some of the smoke begins to clear. In recounting the life and work of Archbishop Lefebvre, this volume becomes a contemporaneous history of an entire era of the Church, deepening our understanding of the movements, events and major figures leading up to and following the Council. As the conciliar era fades, the time to gain perspective has arrived, especially among a new generation who did not live through the battle but must now reap its consequences. Understanding the life and times of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre means understanding events within the Church that have brought us to where we stand.


My Comments:

Bravo Father.  That took some courage, not to mention your ongoing commitment to the truly extraordinary form of the Roman rite, wherever God sends you.  A very fair and balanced review,  I thought. 

Here is a LINK to Angelus Press, where people can buy this book, a must read for every traditional Catholic across the spectrum.  After I read it myself, it was difficult to not conclude with many Catholics that Archbishop Lefebvre was an extraordinarily heroic bishop.

Also, here is the Documentary about the saintly bishop's life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Public Announcement! Two Month Sabbatical from the Chaos.

For the next couple of months I expect to be extremely busy with work, so I will decidedly be blogging about less polemical, critical topics for now, but about more warm, fuzzy, devotional topics.  Sugar plums and kittens and puppy dog tails, and such.  :)  

Internet fight-club nuttiness from within the traditional Catholic blogosphere has never been something cathartic or edifying for me, as it is for some.  

A prominent Alt Right blogger Davis Aurini, online friend of Laramie Hirsch, because he disagreed with my criticisms (really Charles Coulombe's podcast) of their Alt Right ideology complimented me this morning:

you're an effeminate pussy, and no man of God. Repent of your wicked ways, and grow some testicles, faggot...

Davis Aurini, "Alt Right Catholic Blogger"


Then, yeah, laughing out loud, it might be the moment to pull in the reins a bit to regroup and refocus.  A bit.  No doubt some (at least one or two) will think that makes me a eunuch, but so be it.   I would rather be perceived as such, while objectively doing my duties of state, than be an "alpha male" wannabe.   

But I will still be checking in daily at my favorite Canon212 news conglomerate website during my "morning constitutional," as it were.

Kudos to Frank Walker for his invaluable work!

I'm thinking maybe some comical, creative stories, or more "journal entries," or posting articles written by other traditional Catholic bloggers like Oakes Spalding for example, who has a great sense of humor mixed into his posts.  

Though if Pope Francis makes another heretical statement, or there is some other draconian shutdown of Catholic tradition in my own diocese, I might have to share in the reports and give my two cents.  Maybe.

Fair enough, Okie trad!

Thanks Bishop Konderla!   He and I have pleasantly emailed each other several times, btw.

Also, I will be disabling the comment section the next couple months at least, since about 80% of the comments/"discussions" in the comment box lately have been oddly either:  off topic, ad hominem invectives, inane, or just plain ridiculous.  To all you 20% of reason-loving and civilized people posting in the comment section, feel free to email me, or wait until I re-open the comment box.  

There's just too many internet trolls as of late.  Despite my many vices, being patient of those who fundamentally disagree with me has been one of my commitments, but there are limits

So, less critiques for now of the Clear Creek Village, or the Alt Right, or the 2013 Conclave, but more reflections this summer on Tulsa traffic, my swimming routine, or my wife's good cooking.  

Oh, and Part 3 about St. Padrio Pio coming soon!

Hugs and kisses, fellow Okie Trads and Beyond.

The Comment box is NOT open.  :)  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Please DONATE to a Traditional Catholic Man in Need of Help. As Reported by OnePeterFive.

Dear Reader,

Would you please consider contributing to a fundraiser for a traditional Catholic man named Bill Price, and his fiance, from Jackson, Michigan, after he recently suffered a terrible construction job accident?  They were just about to get married next month, and he has no personal health insurance, except for the workers he employs.  I ask because I know his mother, who asked I help.  She and her husband are the lay coordinators of their Latin Mass community, at their diocesan parish in Jackson, St. Mary Star of the Sea.


Steve Skojec over at OnePeterFive wrote about this story last week.
Read about it HERE.   Steve reported about Bill's devotion to the Latin Mass and his parish community, his help of others, and how he started their Gregorian chant schola.  That is where he and his fiance met.

Providentially, I've corresponded with his mother on a traditional Catholic online forum, who sent me encouraging messages when I myself was going through my own medical crisis a year ago, during my physical therapy and recovery.   So I promised to share this story here and ask others to help him.  Would you?  

Please share by Facebook, email, etc, as I will.  This would be a great corporal work of mercy, helping one of our own, a devoted, traditional Catholic, and a business owner about to enter into Holy Matrimony.  This also gives testimony to our Catholic Faith to which Bill and his family are so dedicated.  Thanks.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Day 3 of My Vacation

Gotta love a good chair and a plate of buffalo wings, especially if you're a guy.  For those of you on a ketogenic diet (i.e low carb - medium protein - high healthy fat),  for wellness or weight loss,  I recommend making your own using a deep fryer and lard.  Comes out 2x as good as even Pizza Hut.

Lard, Okie trad?   Yup, studies show saturated fat is actually good for you.   It's processed food,  flour, and sugar that will kill you. 

Getting ready to go down to the gym for a swim and a whirlpool soak.   Does wonders for my stress hormone levels.  7 more days before I jump back on the treadmill set to level 10, like a  capitalist slave.   Any working men out there in need of a soak or a sauna,  let me know,  I can bring guests. 

Yesterday was also a rewarding tonic, us driving to picturesque Eureka Springs,  AR.   An Ozark lunch at famous Myrtie Mae's, then checked out the serene glass chapel in the woods, and the towering Passion Play statue of Jesus that looks down on Eureka Springs.  Protestant,  but edifying. 

Then a tour of majestic Blue Spring Heritage Center - a round,  blue spring that forms a lagoon, surrounded by well kept gardens,  and a nice path that also takes you through the woods.   That alone is worth the trip from Tulsa. 

After a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the traditional St.  Catherine's Catholic chapel,  we finished the day over a German meal at the Bavarian Inn, with my Bavarian,  German mother for Mother's Day.

Happy belated Mothers Day to all mothers,  especially the Blessed Mother. 

And thank God for building leisure into his plan of salvation.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

PART TWO: Some Facts about St. Padre Pio

This is PART TWO in a series of amazing, uplifting, and encouraging facts about the life of the Franciscan stigmatist priest from Italy named Padre Pio.  See Part One HERE.   The details of his life are meant here to comfort those in particular who are in extreme pain, suffering, and illness, who can be edified by the life of this saint who perhaps suffered more than most saints in the history of the Catholic Church.   Please share these posts with the sick by email, Facebook, etc.  Thank you.

Padre Pio was in constant, unimaginable pain all his life, all over his body, but especially for the 50 years he miraculously bore all Five wounds that Our Blessed Lord bore during his Crucifixion.  

Yet Padre Pio was constantly in a cheerful, playful, and comical mood, full of joy and hope in God.  

At the same time, he was also often full of sorrow and tears how sin afflicted Our Lord in His Passion and Death, as re-represented on the daily altar at Mass.  He was especially angered at irreverence, sacrilege, and disobedience of Church authority.  But when a penitent was scrupulous or acting eccentric, he typically was gentle and light-hearted with them in giving his advise.  

For a time in his life, he would miraculously cry so much in sorrow for the sins of mankind, while standing in choir with the other friars for prayers, that they would have to place towels around him on the ground to soak up all the tears.  

His daily motto he often repeated to penitents and other visitors was:  "Pray, Hope, and Don't worry."

He would typically preach very short sermons that were only 1-2 minutes long, but packed with spiritual wisdom and the teachings of Christ and His Church.  Listen to this moving EXAMPLE.

Padre Pio, while seminary trained, was a very simple, thinking man, reflecting his simple, peasant background.  He was not a theologian or philosopher, but loved to read the Bible, and to write simple, letters of spiritual direction, as a pastor and priest of souls, to his "spiritual children."   Yet, Padre Pio had an excellent grasp of the core lessons of theology, the liturgy, and the pastoral duties of a priest.

He often gave off the miraculous scent of roses or perfumes.  One day during Mass, the whole Church became full of the smell of roses, as witnessed by a packed church of visitors.

Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland, the future Pope John Paul II, visited Padre Pio, who confided to him, as he had rarely done to anyone, that he also bore a wound of Christ across his shoulder, which many people do not know Christ had suffered during His Passion.

Later, Cardinal Wojtyla wrote Padre Pio several times, to ask for prayers of healing for members of his diocese who were suffering from cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, and each time Padre Pio wrote back they would be healed, and then they were healed.

Padre Pio's body, as it lies inside a glass casket for pilgrims to see and venerate, is miraculously incorrupt, with no scientific explanation.  

It seems that he is a unique saint in the Catholic history of saints, in that he was the only saint who was: a priest with the full stigmata, a victim soul, a mystic, exemplifying through his own daily passion (especially the mystical way he was united to Christ's suffering during each Mass) the fullness of the sacramental priesthood.

Some days he spent 15-19 hours in the confessional, and beginning in 1950, the confession lines were so long the Friars would create a wait list that often was ten days out.

Every day the Friars received letters to Padre Pio, so many that a team of priests and brothers were assigned to sit down, read them, and try and answer them on Padre Pio's behalf, while he would bless the letters and include a holy card.

Every day Padre Pio went outside to walk around with the pilgrims and talk to them, answering questions, giving short catechism lessons, and often handing out holy cards and holy medals he had blessed.   People were constantly asking for his blessing.

Padre Pio could read people's souls.  Often he would help the penitent remember unconfessed sins.  But if the person was not truly contrite, but just going to confession for the amusement of hearing what he would say, he would know and angrily (justly so) order them out of the confessional, not because they disrespected him, but to admonish them for disrespecting the Sacrament of Confession.

One day after Mass a crowd filled the entrance to the sacristy.  After taking off his vestments, he was not able to get past the crowd.  As witnessed by priests who have given sworn testimony, Padre Pio levitated in the air, hovering above the height of the crowd, and walked over their heads to get past them.

Padre Pio was attacked by the devil on a nightly basis in his cell, leaving serious injury, that only the brothers who helped care for him knew about.  These attacks persisted throughout his life.  Sometimes the demon would physically hurl him across the room against the wall.  

The hospital he founded next to the Friary still exists today, and is overseen by the Vatican.

All the miracles and wonders surrounding Padre Pio's life are a testament to the divine love God has for each one of us.

Short BIO HERE.  St. Padre Pio, pray for us!

(Part Three coming soon!)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Okie Traditionalist Interviews: Bishop René Gracida, of Corpus Christi, TX, about a Remedy for the Current Papal Crisis.

His Excellency, Bishop Rene Henry Gracida of Corpus Christi, Texas, gives clarification about an Article he posted on his blog last month on April 7th, which has since been circulated worldwide.  He is encouraging the Cardinals to take action to remedy the current papal crisis.

You can read the Article:  HERE.

Bishop Gracida of Texas was the first diocesan bishop to sign the "Filial Correction" presented to Pope Francis by Cardinal Raymond Burke and three other Cardinals, calling into question certain statements in the document Amoris Laetitia, in particular its policy of admitting public, unrepentant adulterers to Holy Communion.  

He is the retired bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, TX;  he also served as bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, FL; and, he was auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Miami, FL.   He has been a bishop for 46 years, a priest for almost 60 years, was a Benedictine monk for 10 years, and served in World War II as a tail-gunner.  Being 95 years old next month, and dedicated to the daily celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, he is one of the most senior and traditional members of the hierarchy.  Here is a past video interview of Bishop Gracida:  LINK.

The Interview:


Dear Bishop Gracida, Your Excellency,

Thank you for your reply from down there in Texas, to me a blogger up here in Oklahoma, and thanks for considering my request for an online interview.  I would greatly appreciate any response you can give to my questions, and to readers worldwide, which you approve of before I post it.  


1.  In a recent article posted to your blog (LINK), which has since been read around the world, you supported the case that Pope Francis may not be a valid pope, and that the Cardinals themselves consider electing a new pope.  Was/Is your intention that the article might end up being read by Cardinal Burke, and other Cardinals, with the unique authority to directly confront the problem of the Francis pontificate?

Yes, that was and still is my hope. Since only the validly appointed Cardinals have the power to initiate a solution to the present crisis in the Church, it was and still is my hope that they will be encouraged by what I published to take the necessary steps toward a solution as was proposed in the post.

2.  In your experience these last weeks, how has the response been from the laity, priests, and other bishops - if any - both online and in the flesh?  Do you anticipate backlash from members of the hierarchy, or Rome?  Or even from Cardinal Burke himself?

There has been some response but not from cardinals. I do not really look for response from cardinals, I look for action on their part to initiate the steps that will lead to a special conclave. I do not expect them to publicize those steps, I expect them to move silently and discretely in order to minimize active opposition by the friends of Francis who are now firmly entrenched in the Vatican curia.​

3. Reading the argument, it seems the main basis and bulk of it is the contention the 2013 conclave broke conclave laws, enacted by Pope John Paul II, that would invalidate the election results.  It begins by discussing the issue of heresy and papal infallibility, but seems to not make those issues the main basis. There seems to be strong enough evidence that certain Cardinals of the conspiring "St. Gallican Group" did violate conclave laws, enough to at least now raise the question of the validity of Cardinal Bergoglio's election.  Am I correct in understanding this argument?  Is that the focus you are encouraging the Cardinals to take? 

Yes, that is the focus I am encouraging the Cardinals to take.​

4.  Since the word "heresy" was used in the article, perhaps you could speak to the question of how Cardinals, based on the tradition of the Church, can judge if a certain pope is guilty of actual "formal heresy" (vs. material), which would result in excommunication and loss of Office according to church law.  Can you explain what the Church says?  That is how the College of Cardinals can judge the pope to be an invalid pope, for different reasons, to the point of actually electing a new pope?

Even though Francis has made heretical statements, he has cleverly also made orthodox statements on the same subject thereby making it virtually impossible to define him as a heretic.  On the other hand, the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution ​UNIVERSI DOMINICI GREGIS (edit: you can read it HERE) promulgated by Saint John Paul II are clear, and Francis and friends have confirmed their violations of those provisions in the conclave of 2013.   Saint John Paul II provided for the penalty of AUTOMATIC EXCOMMUNICATION for any cardinal violating those provisions.  Reasonable people should have no problem agreeing that an excommunicated person cannot be elected pope.

Thank you again, Your Excellency, for answering these questions.   I also hope the reasoned Argument you posted, and your answers in this interview, will be read and considered by the Cardinals.

God bless,

Joseph Ostermeir
The Okie Traditionalist Blog