Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Heart Well Disposed - Cleansed by Fire



Ziteil Wallfahrt am 20. Sonntag im Jahreskreis
18. August 2019
Jer 38:4-6, 8-10
Heb 12:1-4
Lk 12:49-53

Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!

„Ich bin gekommen, um Feuer auf die Erde zu werfen.“

Ich frage mich, warum diese Worte Jesu, die Seine Mission zur Errettung der Welt beschreiben, so ungewöhnlich erscheinen.  Das Evangelium muss in erster Linie eine Herausforderung für diese Welt und gegen Sünde und Tod sein, die im Leben der Menschen dieser Welt vorherrschen.  Die Botschaft des Evangeliums Christi ist vor allem ein Aufruf zur Bekehrung, der von Jesus an uns gerichtet wurde. Wie im Brief an die Hebräer erwähnt, ist dies eine sehr ernste Sache: „Ihr habt im Kampf gegen die Sünde noch nicht bis aufs Blut Widerstand geleistet.”

Das Lehramt der Kirche muss dem dienen, es muss ein prophetisches Wort sein, das jeden einzelnen zu Gott führt. Aus diesem Grund hat der Herr in seiner Güte seinem Volk immer Boten oder Propheten gesandt, um es zur Bekehrung zu rufen, um es zu ihm, dem einzigen lebendigen und wahren Gott zurückzuführen.

Wichtiger als der Botschafter in dieser Geschichte ist vielleicht, wie das Herz des Volkes das Wort Gottes begrüsst, d.h. die Bereitschaft des Volkes, zuzuhören und der Einladung Gottes zu folgen, die der Prophet an es gerichtet hat. Im Wesentlichen ist der Prophet dazu da, uns aufzufordern, uns von der Sünde abzuwenden, um in Gemeinschaft mit Gott und Seinen Heiligen zu leben.

Die heutige erste Lesung zeigt, wie schwierig die Aufgabe des Boten ist. Wir sehen die Herzenshärte Israels vor dem Herrn und seinem Propheten.

„Jeremía muss getötet werden; denn er lähmt die Hände der Krieger, die in dieser Stadt noch übrig geblieben sind, und die Hände des ganzen Volkes, wenn er solche Worte zu ihnen redet. Denn dieser Mann sucht nicht Heil für dieses Volk, sondern Unheil.“

Noch heute begegnen wir auch innerhalb der Kirche der Herzenshärte vieler, die überhaupt nicht bereit sind, die Botschaft Christi in seiner vollen Wahrheit anzunehmen.  Deshalb brauchen wir auch heute noch ein Wort, das tief berührt, das das Herz der Menschen erschüttert.  Ein prophetisches Wort wie das des Jeremia oder das der Mutter Gottes vor über 400 Jahren, das durch ein Mädchen und ihre Familie an die Menschen gerichtet und dann durch einen Knaben bestätigt wurde, der an einer Wasserquelle hier in der Nähe von Ziteil, im Gebet der Jungfrau Maria begegnete!

Sie kennen besser als ich die Bedeutung der Botschaft von Ziteil. Schon jetzt Jahrhunderten hindurch wird von einem 16jährigen Knaben auf den Berg hier im Oberhalbstein berichtet, der zu einer kleinen Quelle kam, wo er eine Frau im Gebet knien sah. „Da er sich fürchtete, wollte er umkehren, um zwei Männer zu rufen, die mit ihm heraufgekommen und etwas weiter entfernt waren, damit sie die Frau auch sähen. Diese rief jedoch den Knaben liebevoll zu sich her und sagte ihm das gleiche, was sie dem Mädchen gesagt hatte, hinzufügend, sie habe nicht aufgehört zu ihrem Sohn für das Volk zu beten. Aber es sei nötig, dass das Volk sich aufrichtig bekehre und fortfahre Prozessionen zu halten, wie es angefangen habe, ansonsten sie nicht erhört werde. Als sie von dannen schied, sah er ihr gerötetes Knie, als ob sie zeigen wollte, man müsse sich beim Gebet abmühen. Nachdem er nur wenige Schritte fortgegangen war, kehrte er sich um, um die Frau zu sehen, doch sie war schon verschwunden. Als man anfing Prozessionen zu halten, fingen alle verdorrten Feldfrüchte wieder zu grünen an und weckten Hoffnung auf eine sehr gute Ernte.“

Wir stehen immer unter dem Gericht Gottes, der seit dem ersten Fall Adams und Evas danach strebt, dem Volk eine väterliche Hand zu reichen und uns zurück zu seiner Gnade und zur endlosen Freude seines Reiches zu führen.  Wir leben dieses Geheimnis der göttlichen Liebe auf hervorragende Weise im einzigen Sohn des Vaters, in Jesus, der sagt: „Ich bin gekommen, um Feuer auf die Erde zu werfen.”

Wir leben dieses Geheimnis durch die grossen und kleinen Propheten wie Jeremia und die beiden jungen Seher von Ziteil.  Wir verlieren nie den Mut dank Maria, der Mutter Gottes und Mutter der Kirche, unserer Mutter: «Gehe hin und sage dem Volk im Land Oberhalbstein, es habe nun so viel gesündigt, dass nicht noch mehr ertragen werden könne. Wenn es sich nicht bessere, werde Gott es streng bestrafen, so dass er nicht nur die Feldfrüchte verdorren, sondern auch das Volk vom Jüngsten bis zum Ältesten sterben lassen werde. Ich kann bei meinem Sohn für dieses Volk nicht mehr Fürbitte einlegen.»

Ja! Die Worte scheinen hart zu sein, aber dem Blick des Jungen ist das Knie, das durch Marias Fürbitte für ihre Kinder gerötet war, nicht entgangen. Die Pilgerreise sollte uns einige Mühe kosten, aber hoffentlich um uns die Gnade eines Herzens geben, das von der Liebe Gottes in Christus, der uns rettet, verzehrt wird.

„Ihr habt im Kampf gegen die Sünde noch nicht bis aufs Blut Widerstand geleistet.”
„Ich bin gekommen, um Feuer auf die Erde zu werfen.”

Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!



Where Honor Lies - Blessed the Man!



Hl. Joachim, Vater der Allerseligsten Jungfrau Maria
16. August 2019 – Etzgen
Sir 31, 8-11
Mt 1, 1-16

Nach allem, was über das Leben des heiligen Joachim, dem Ehemann der heiligen Anna, überliefert wurde, - beide sind die schon betagten Eltern von Maria, der Mutter Gottes, - hat er nicht so viel Glück im Leben gehabt. Wegen des grossen Unglücks, ohne Nachkommen zu sein, was seinen Dienst im Tempel von Jerusalem in Frage stellte, zog er sich in die Wüste zurück, um Busse zu tun. Dort in der Wüste erhielt Joachim, nachdem er sein Leben allein in die Hände Gottes gelegt hatte, die Gnade, nicht irgendein Familienvater zu werden, sondern der Vater der Jungfrau Maria und damit der Grossvater von Jesus, dem Retter der Welt.

Der heilige Joachim lehrt uns, unser Leben in die Hände Gottes zu legen und nur auf Ihn zu hoffen. Das Ansehen, der Erfolg, der Ruhm und der Reichtum, die in den Augen dieser Welt bedeutsam erscheinen, zählen im Plan, den Gott für uns hat, überhaupt nicht.

„Selig der Mann, der ohne Makel befunden ward, der nicht dem Gold nachging und seine Hoffnung nicht auf Geld und Reichtümer setzte.“

Ich erinnere mich an eine alte Dame an einem meiner diplomatischen Posten, einer wahren Intellektuellen, die die Welt bereiste, die sich rühmte oder gestand, ich weiss nicht welche, meinen Vorgänger als Nuntius in diesem Land gequält zu haben und auch mich und zwar wegen unserer bescheidenen Herkunft. Ich glaube, dass mein Vorgänger aus einer Bauernfamilie stammte. Alle meine Grosseltern und Urgrosseltern waren auch Bauern, einer von ihnen war Norweger und von Beruf Schmied. Ich weiss nicht, warum diese Frau dachte, dass die Verwandtschaft des Nuntius eine Quelle menschlichen Stolzes sein oder dass ein Erzbischof seine Herkunft unter den reichsten Menschen haben müsste. In jedem Fall können wir, ob wohlhabend oder nicht, aus dem lernen, was uns die Überlieferung über das Leben des heiligen Joachim lehrt.  Die Gunst Gottes scheint oft nicht leicht zu erkennen zu sein; es ist keine so offensichtliche Sache.

Interessanterweise ist aus dem Matthäusevangelium zu erkennen, dass die Abstammung Jesu aus David nicht von der Mutter, sondern vom männlichen Zweig, d.h. durch den heiligen Josef, bestimmt wird. Das heisst, auch hier blieb der Grossvater Joachim ohne die Möglichkeit stolz sein zu können.

„Selig der Mann, der ohne Makel befunden ward, der nicht dem Gold nachging und seine Hoffnung nicht auf Geld und Reichtümer setzte.“

Ich glaube, dass wir in der Geschichte der Menschheit immer nach Gründen gesucht haben, um stolz sein zu dürfen: nach beruflichen Erfolgen, in den Nachkommen und ihren Erfolgen, im materiellen Gewinn, in der guten Gesundheit und in der körperlichen Schönheit. Leider können diese Dinge nicht erreicht werden, ohne in irgendeiner Weise schmutzig zu werden, d.h. indem wir von Gott entfernen, was in unserem Leben Ihm gehört.

Joachim in der Wüste betete und tat harte Busse. Wir müssen dasselbe tun, um uns auf den Wegen des Herrn in Bewegung zu setzen. Das Ziel dieser Übung wäre weniger, den Willen Gottes für uns zu kennen, sondern uns selbst zu trainieren, dessen Gewicht tragen zu können. Unser Preis kann nicht mit dem von Joachim verglichen werden, aber in Demut und im täglichen Gebet, in Busse, d.h. indem wir auf uns selbst verzichten, stellen wir uns auf den richtigen Weg, den Gott für uns, seine Lieblingskinder vorgezeichnet hat.

„Selig der Mann, der ohne Makel befunden ward, der nicht dem Gold nachging und seine Hoffnung nicht auf Geld und Reichtümer setzte.“

O Herr! Möge dein Wille in meinem Leben geschehen, wie er im Leben des Heiligen Joachim geschehen ist!

Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sankt Joachim! Bitte für uns!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Properantes Adventum Diei Dei


NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
August 11, 2019 – Bruder Klaus
Wis 18:6-9
Heb 11:1-2, 8-19
Lk 12:32-48

        “Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes.”

        The Book of Wisdom in the passage from today’s First Reading speaks of the Exodus from Egypt and of the first Passover. It describes the event as a scourge for the enemies of the children of Israel and as liberation from slavery for God’s people. What does the Church, what does the Holy Spirit intend to say to us by putting these words before us today?

        “Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes.”

        The Lord Jesus in Luke’s Gospel today has two things to say to His disciples. “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for the Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” And “You must also be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

In faith, we believe that this life is to be lived as our exodus, our movement away from enslavement. Our life here below is not life in the Promised Land; this is our Passover, our exodus. We live always in expectation; our hopes are set elsewhere; what passes here below is of only relative importance in the course of things, when viewed in terms of God’s bigger picture. Here on earth we have no lasting dwelling place. Moreover, our lives are marked by conflict; we can expect no more than that our everyday experience be described as the whole cruel lot of slaves. This tragedy is something permitted out of respect for our freedom, but certainly it is not a suffering willed by God.

        Such a way to describe life is sobering, but I think it helps put into perspective our grasp of what is wrong with society today. To say we deserve better is far from the truth. I remember as a young deacon making a visit to a woman in the hospital who had gone through the old-fashioned gall bladder surgery, which was one of the most painful things you could imagine (in the intervening 40 years medicine has progressed an awful lot in terms of pain management). This woman had not been prepared for so much pain and risked dying from the shock. In a similar way today, many people go into a tailspin over the crimes, faults, shortcomings and sins of other people, people we should be able to trust and admire. We have no lasting dwelling place here and no man or woman on earth can be expected to hold us confident in faith. No! Our help is only in the name of the Lord.

I just finished a book that attempts to explain why ever more people fall away from the practice of the faith. It is entitled Mass Exodus - Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II and is authored by Stephen Bullivant (2019. OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition). The author provides insight into why churches have been emptying out over the last decades, while convincing the reader that the reasons for the problem cannot be easily explained. The thought came to me while reading the book that perhaps it might be better to admit that people today may not be worse Catholics than were their parents or grandparents. It would seem that in the past much of what held the Church upright had to do with the social pressure to identify publicly as a Catholic by going to Mass, fulfilling one’s Easter duty and so on. Today, as Bullivant seems to show in his book, much of that pressure or source of identification has fallen away.  One cannot deny that social pressure has done its share to fill pews over the years. Social pressure, however, is not enough to make a faithful Catholic. To allude to the words of today’s Scripture, conforming does not count as staying awake and watching for the Master’s return.

        “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.”

        Our motivation for being faithful Catholics must come from the heart; we must be good servants who intelligently watch and wait for our Lord. Our vigilance in the service of Christ, Eternal High Priest and Universal King of the new and everlasting Covenant, will be repaid beyond measure, as will our culpable laxity will be more or less severely punished. While a certain measure of ignorance on our part may be excusable, we cannot be absolved from our duty to hear and heed God’s holy word, to watch and wait for Him as His good servants.

        “Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

        There is indeed a radical commitment involved in being a faithful Catholic. Nonetheless, St. Francis de Sales, the great bishop of Geneva, taught very clearly that our duties in the Christian life vary according to our station in life, and that holds especially as far as material goods are concerned. The so-called prosperity gospel preached for profit by any number of tele-evangelists is a false teaching; it is a heresy. No heavenly reward is attached either to gambler’s luck, winning the lottery or to working yourself to death to become a million- or billionaire. To say it another way: moneymakers have no particular reason to believe that they are in any way favored by God. On the other hand, misery or homelessness are not virtues either. Married people and parents, in particular, have to look to the needs of their spouses and children. They need to work and earn a decent living; they cannot be expected to give everything away which is theirs, as if they were St. Francis of Assisi. Parents must provide their children a stable home and that does cost. Faithfulness in marriage until God do us part, supporting one’s spouse both emotionally and financially is proper to husband and wife in marriage… does cost. Similarly, those who enter into religion must not only live soberly but they must deny themselves in order to follow Christ. They must deprive themselves for their own sake and for the sake of giving a witness that will encourage others to seek the Kingdom of God. In the lives of priests, but most especially in the lives of religious men and women, we need to be able to see what it means concretely to have set one’s heart on Christ’s Kingdom.

        But the second part of that phrase from the Book of Wisdom is the part which does not rest easy on contemporary men and women. “…and the destruction of their foes.” It would seem more than most people can bear, to have to accept that not everyone on earth wishes us well, whether they know us or not. But wishing their destruction seems beyond the pale. It seems less than politically correct to ask God not only to deliver us from evil, but to vanquish or destroy our enemies to the extent that they stand between us and God or that they thwart God’s will for our salvation.

        What does the Church, what does the Holy Spirit intend to say to us by putting these words before us today? Very simply, that we cannot serve two masters. We have no choice other than to see ourselves at enmity with those who do not serve the Christ but rather the prince of darkness.

        “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for the Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”“You must also be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”



Friday, August 2, 2019

The Best Vehicle for Church Renewal and Evangelization

Liturgy Summer Course 2019
Moving Forward – My Plea for Full Liturgical Restoration

Lots of water has passed under the bridge, both for me and for Sacra Liturgia, since my participation in the Sacra Liturgia Summer School of how many years ago? Back then, I was stationed in Ukraine, so was it five years ago maybe? That summer, my experience with the Vetus Ordo was still historical and theoretical, i.e. dating from the past from my childhood and youth and more recently from my reading. Let us say at that summer school it passed from theoretical to practical. It was then that I had my first tutoring in celebrating according to the 1962 Missal here and celebrated Pontifical Vespers as well. Meantime I had a great experience with the Latin Mass Society in London and with the move to Switzerland, my experience has become more practical. Thanks to the encouragement of supportive priests, a marvelous traditional community of sisters in Sankt Pelagiberg and any number of good laity, I have celebrated quite a few Pontifical High Masses, both from the throne and from the faldstool. Nor am I a stranger to the Missa Praelatitia. My house situation still will not permit me to celebrate a Low Mass in my own chapel, but that is another story and remains substantially my challenge. If all goes well in the months ahead, I may be able to celebrate deacon ordinations in 2020 for the Society of St. Peter!

On the topic of liturgical renewal and the advancement of the tradition, I wonder if the veterans of the cause, like Dom Alcuin here, would have accurately predicted all the great things that have come to pass in these five years since our last encounter! Although the various fronts in the battle remain hardened and occasionally there are brutal setbacks, in many places we hear tell of vibrant communities, with mostly young people and families. Even in places where celebrations are still infrequent, I have experienced the exuberance of people who will give of themselves generously, with or without the expertise of communities like the Seminaries in Wigratzbad in Germany or Denton, Nebraska, not far from my home in the US, to bring about liturgies of extraordinary beauty, which draw people from far and wide.

In these five years, even among supporters of the traditional Latin Mass the terms of discourse have changed somewhat. We encounter dyed in the wool traditionalists who now tend to glow and melt because of the hope inspired by annual occurrences such as the Chartres Pilgrimage. It is not that our witness is less militant or strident, but things are changing. Our Merciful Lord offers us the occasion not only to stand fast but also to be nurturing for once, in the real and ever growing hope of winning over men and women of good will for the cause of the Tradition.

“Moving Forward” then! Any right minded or right thinking Catholic should have an instinctive aversion for the notion of progress or moving forward, especially when it comes to the Divine Liturgy in and of itself. This aversion wells up not because of any prejudice rooted in some kind of antiquarian spirit or predilection, but because the obsession with progress is wrong-headed. It can be and most often is disjunctive, that is, not Catholic. It is often modernist, flawed in the most profound sense, and hence it is wrong to look for progress in things either Catholic or liturgical, as if progressing were a value. That being said, I still want to title my talk “Moving Forward”, because organic development in matters liturgical is a part of our history and rightly so. Liturgical life in the Church did not reach its apex with the death of the last Apostle. Catholic liturgy is not frozen in time once and for all. There is development in the way we worship and have worshiped over the centuries. Divine liturgy is something rational, but as such it is in continuity with the past and marked above all by a constancy which takes it out of the hands of innovators, of liturgists and even of popes and councils. Unfortunately, the postconciliar liturgical reforms were tainted by arbitrariness or caprice far more than attaining any particular improvement or progression they may wish to claim as fruits of the reform. 

Let it be said! With my presentation, I have gone a bit out on a limb. Feel free to dismiss my thesis, but do not expect me to apologize for my excesses, because I am very much convinced of my position and do not think I am overstating my case. Most places these days, Mother Church suffers from a very real and grave malaise. Liturgy is a part of this tragedy. Serious talk about a new evangelization of our world (dare I say, of our post-Christian world?) is overdue and when addressed then at best halfheartedly. It is not enough to say that the Lord expects big things from tiny mustard seeds. We need to get beyond resignation, beyond out and out denial in the face of much that is just plain bad. Sadly, you still run into denizens of the deep and not so deep in the New World who point fingers at the Old World (at old, once Catholic Europe), but should rather be about the business of pulling the plank from their own eye. Call it indifference, call it disdain or call it faithlessness, but note the lack of enthusiasm for the cause of Jesus Christ and of His Church most everywhere in the world. I am not bemoaning a lack of soapbox preachers, but rather the all too frequent failure within the “little Church”, the family, to hand on the faith to the next generation.

Liturgy is much more than a vehicle for handing on the faith, but it is that as well. The hostility toward the Vetus Ordo and much of the enthusiasm for the Council’s liturgical reform predates the Council and bases itself on the shortcomings and even abuse in the area of worship experienced at many levels in the 1950’s. 

Let me share an anecdote from my own experience of that malaise from my 8th grade year of elementary school (1963-64) at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (For those who do not know, that is on the high plains in the upper Midwest of the United States of America).

During our school year those many years ago, the 8th grade boys who served Mass took turns at sacristy duty for the weekday Masses. That meant turning on lights in church and setting out the vestments, things the servers usually did not do. Either the sisters or adults had sacristy duties for Saturdays, Sundays and summers. Those weeks during the school year when I was assigned to sacristy duty, I would leave home to walk up to the Cathedral so as to arrive at 6:00 am (I can still walk the distance in less than 20 minutes and of course by bike it would be much faster). The weather made no difference, rain, snow, pounding prairie winds… I would like to see how many parents today would let their 13-year-old son take on a commitment of the sort. Anyway, about 2½ blocks from church were the offices of Catholic Charities back then and the priest director would usually be coming out the door about the time I walked by and we would walk the rest of the way to the Cathedral together. Father would go out in church to pray his breviary and I would set up all the vestments in the sacristy for the 6:45 Mass at the high altar and prepare everything for Father’s Mass at the side altar. There were three young priests assigned to the Cathedral back then and by turns one would have the early Mass, one would have the convent Mass and the third might have Mass at the high school or perhaps a funeral later in the morning. The two assigned altar boys would come at 6:30 and finish setting up. After they were off to the high altar with the priest, I would help the director of Catholic Charities vest and serve Father’s private Mass at Mary’s altar. Once thereafter, I had set up the vestments for the Pastor’s sung High Mass at 8:00 am, I could go over to school. Most days it was just this pleasant routine, which ran like clockwork, but some days not.

The “some days”, not every day but not infrequently, when things did not go so smoothly, were those days when it was almost Mass time (6:40?) and still no priest in the sacristy. I would have to go and ring at the door of the adjoining rectory and ask the housekeeper to roust the designated priest out of bed… Often these sleepy heads were the same culprits who verbally abused my great uncle in the confessional on Saturdays for coming to weekly confession and bothering them with his recitation of faults and perhaps even venial sins…. The good old days were indeed such, but not without their share of hiccups.

My point or rather two points? 1) Back in the post-World War II period, the Mass of all times alone did not or could not have carried everyone or formed the bulwark against what happened in society and in the Church after the Council in the 1960‘s. Take the case of some of those young men ordained in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s (I have more stories), who were disenchanted with the discipline of the sacraments and more. (In this regard, I heartily recommend the book, “Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II”, by Stephen Bullivant. OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition, 2019. The author draws some very cautious conclusions, but, by the same token, enlightening in terms of seriously addressing the question of the cause for the ever increasing abandonment of Catholic practice by cradle Catholics in the post-war period.) My second point: 2) if the changes had not come as they did in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, who knows? Perhaps it would not have been as bad and we could have better weathered the storm. For those well-disposed, I think this quote from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s book Milestones bears much weight:

“It was a riveting adventure to move by degrees into the mysterious world of the liturgy, which was being enacted before us and for us there on the altar. It was becoming more and more clear to me that here I was encountering a reality that no one had simply thought up, a reality that no official authority or great individual had created. This mysterious fabric of texts and actions had grown from the faith of the Church over the centuries. It bore the whole weight of history within itself, and yet, at the same time, it was much more than the product of human history. Every century had left its mark upon it.” (p. 20. Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.)

My point and the point of many, more prepared than I to discuss such matters, is that despite the frustration with the old rite, the Novus Ordo did not deliver on its promises. Instead of countering the preconciliar malaise, it contributed to it. It has banalized worship or at least rendered it less than sublime. You could argue, I suppose, that abandoning the Novus Ordo with the sole argument that we should not be pushing lemming-like over the cliff as if this were our mindless destiny in the light of the Council, does not cut the mustard. What choice do we have though? Continuing as we are seems almost an act of desperation. But why not reform the Novus Ordo? Why go back to the Vetus Ordo, especially since its last reviews in the pre-conciliar period, were mixed at best? 

Be advised that “turning back” is not so much a nostalgic turning back of the clock. Rather, it is a systematic reset aimed at recovering our footing, if you will. Why bet on a loser? Why jump into the abyss if you do not have to? Right reason would decree that a best effort be made at recovery; we need to pick up the trail that was lost or abandoned. Liturgical restoration could become a rallying point for a general recovery of faith life, or perhaps given the half century and several (2+) generations which separate us from our patrimony, represents the hoped-for bulwark against an even greater loss of faith. The Vetus Ordo could become the beachhead for a new evangelization, a renewal of faith life within the Church and for the world. I am so iffy in my affirmation simply because for now at least we cannot claim that a major revival is under way. It is all too evident that those who adhere to the tradition still do not constitute big numbers. We are not yet what you would call “legion”.

On the other hand, to the extent that the conciliar reform as expressed in the Novus Ordo did not deliver on its promises, what other choice do we have? More seriously, the Novus Ordo appears at odds with what Eucharist is supposed to be. It cannot be the vehicle for Church renewal, because it is at odds with what we should be about as Catholics. Overstated perhaps, but let me quote from Father Wojciech Giertych’s book, “The Spark of Faith: Understanding the Power of Reaching Out to God”, EWTN PUBLISHING, INC. Irondale, Alabama, 2018, Kindle Edition:

“The center of the Eucharistic liturgy is neither the priest nor the gathered community, but Christ Himself, who gives Himself out of love. His gift of self, handed over to the heavenly Father and to us, identical to the sacrifice rendered once and for all on the Cross, is the source of grace. The sinner who is conscious that evil needs to be punished and repaired in the name of justice may be freed from sin whenever he holds on to the sacrifice of the Cross that is made available to him. That is why the sacrifice of the Cross is constantly offered on the altars of the Church: so that we would not forget about this total oblation of Christ, and so that we will profit from it.”

The theologian of the Papal Household is framing his discussion of the Mass and the Sacraments in this book in the light of a rather Thomistic vision of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. He continues:

“Where the primacy of Christ is forgotten and the main emphasis falls not on His sacrifice, in which the priest is to be concealed, but either on the priest who presides over the liturgy or on the community that gathers and celebrates itself, churches quickly become empty. If the priest is in the center, immediately the question is raised: What is the value of a liturgy when it turns out that he is not particularly interesting, not very intelligent and witty, and even a sinner? And if the community that celebrates itself is in the center, then what meaning does it have for young people, who can say that the elderly people in the church do not interest them and they find a better communitarian spirit in a club, coffee shop, or pub?”

Some of you, no doubt, are even more aware than I am of the volumes of literature out there analyzing what went wrong in the Church and in the world back at the time of the Second Vatican Council. Far be it from me not to accentuate the positive, but it is time for us to face up to the hard reality. You might say that what I am arguing for is an honest effort on the part of Catholics to get beyond denial and to recognize the arbitrary nature of much of what was imposed upon us, yes, I will say it, with violence. If you do not like the word “violence”, then substitute the expression “imposed with arbitrary force of will”. 

What can a liturgical reset attain which a reform of the reformed liturgy from the Second Vatican Council cannot achieve? Firstly, perhaps, why do we hear of a rather broad-based call for the reform of the reformed liturgy at all? Is the dissatisfaction generally with church worship justified? Is it the fault of the reformed liturgy that so many people are falling away from the practice of the faith? I think the answer is in part “yes”. Men especially seem to find the reformed liturgy a stumbling stone. We all have our horror stories from the 1970’s about our fathers or grandfathers being brow-beaten or cajoled into actively participating by making the responses and singing. Why has Perpetual Adoration become so popular and not least of all among men? Why do no few Novus Ordo vocations to the priesthood blossom in connection with the positive experience of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament placed high upon the Altar? Why does the source and summit of Christian existence, in the form of the Novus Ordo Mass, not deliver when it comes to inspiring a sense of awe? Why has the reception of Holy Communion become banalized to such a point? Why has eliminating the communion rail generally opened up a chasm between the people and their Eucharistic Lord as revealed in the sacred action? Excuse the flippancy of my expression, but how can we describe Communion in the hand while standing, with multiple ministers in street clothes distributing here there and everywhere in church, front, back or choir loft, as something other than rushed, as “communion on the fly”?

I think the discursive and arbitrary nature of the reformed liturgy is a big part of the problem. Liturgical abuse is rampant, yes, but I draw this conclusion about the discursive and arbitrary (I am referring to the rubrics, which read: „in these or similar words, option A, B, or C, etc.”) also from observing young priests from various parts of the world, whom you would probably label pious or at least not abusive of worship. These priests can come from most any country and most any place on the political, philosophical or theological spectrum, that is, from the middle of the road to stock conservative. The reformed liturgy faithfully celebrated is seemingly not enough for them. They add gestures and words, sometimes deliberately and sometimes it would seem almost instinctively or unconsciously, especially during the Eucharistic prayer. They modify the Mass very simply to make it better, or so I would guess. We have a problem with the Novus Ordo that a couple of tweaks just may not solve.

To avoid sounding pedantic, I have formulated several questions that lend themselves to my dual purpose of urging the abandonment of the reform of the reform movement and pushing the agenda of striving for a full liturgical restoration. Out of cowardice, I am avoiding the burning issue of setting a date for the reset. I used to think that going back to the 1962 Missal and to St. Pius X and his breviary reform was sufficient, but the marvels of the pre-Pius XII Triduum as we have begun to experience them leave me speechless on this point. Perhaps the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI on the mutual enrichment of the two forms will provide the paradigm for resolving the question of which Missal and which breviary. My call for a return to the presently approved texts for the Extraordinary Form, then, is inspired by a certain urgency to move forward, to further the process. I do not feel qualified to take a stance in this particular matter of where best to launch the restoration.

Why the reset? Why restore the liturgy and the liturgical calendar? Why increase the priests’ burden of prayer with a return to the breviary of Pope St. Pius X? Let me talk around some of the issues! So here goes with my questions and tentative answers!

1. Was Easter duty really all that minimal?

By Easter duty, I am referring to the precept of the Church imposing, under pain of mortal sin, the obligation to receive Holy Communion once a year during the Easter Season, usually preceded by a worthy Confession.

As a child, I was wrongly given the impression that the precept represented a minimal effort on the part of the Church to get people to practice their faith. In fact, it is probably just the opposite, namely a measured effort on the part of Mother Church at inspiring a truly formed and informed reverence for Christ present in the Eucharist. The intention of the law would be to draw her children closer to their Eucharistic Lord through the worthy celebration of the Easter Sacrament. The precept put things into perspective by underlining God’s greatness and the sublimity of the Eucharistic mystery. It states unequivocally as well that that is where we belong, no matter the effort to break with sin so as to be worthy to receive the Lord.

A renewed emphasis today on the Easter Duty, effectively explained to Catholics through creative pastoral teaching, might actually help people understand Who it is that comes to them in Holy Communion, Who it is that is their Lord. Catechesis and the celebration of the Vetus Ordo could renew people’s faith in the Lord Who saves us in and through the Eucharist. 

2. Just how much Scripture can a body take?

From the general experience I have had in German speaking Switzerland, it would seem that the Novus Ordo lectionary is too much. Two readings plus the Gospel for Sundays and Solemnities is the exception rather than the rule in your average German speaking Swiss parish, that is of course if they have Mass at all on any sort of regular basis. In the Novus Ordo in German speaking parishes, the second reading from St. Paul generally falls out. The Responsorial Psalm, which often amounts to an additional Scripture reading, either gives way to silence or something from the hymnal. Too much? Has the three-year cycle of readings really acquainted people with more Scripture? It may have overwhelmed them with the sheer volume. Besides, if you only hear a Gospel once every three years, well, you are apt not to have the slightest familiarity, especially if a child acted up or a baby happened to cry at that moment. The old lectionary seems better suited to the goal, as your odds at gaining familiarity with a text grow exponentially if you are hearing the same reading every year on that particular Sunday. 

3. Officium nocturnum. What do priests do all day long, anyway? 

With the first Sunday of Advent 2018, I took on the obligation of the old breviary. So instead of five rather abbreviated hours each day in a four week psalter, I went to the one week psalter with a full seven hours. That includes Matins on most days with nine psalms and three readings, plus the surprise of high holy days with their three nocturnes, of three psalms each with the same number of readings, i.e. for a total of nine readings. Apart from the difference in length of the two offices (roughly 150 psalms per week instead of the same number per month), with the old breviary I could rediscover in prayer those less than politically correct psalm passages which the reformers had edited out of the Church’s official prayer back after the Council. Using for the most part the Baronius edition of the breviary in three volumes has helped where my discrete school Latin fails to rise to the challenge of psalmody. I am working on the breviary hymns too, which present an even greater challenge linguistically for me and for priests I know of my age group.

But back to my question: What do priests do all day long, anyway? What at first seemed for me personally to be a challenge to get the hours of Terce, Sext and None to their proper times in my daily routine actually revealed itself as a Matins issue and especially for first class feasts and their three nocturnes. Officium nocturnum! As soon as I moved Matins to the night hours, the other three little hours found their proper place without hectic in my regular workday schedule. Granted, sometimes the duties of office will steal that quarter hour pause at one time or another in the working day or when I must travel on a given day. I freely admit, the change does present certain challenges for me, but all in all the one-week psalter is a sweet burden.

Officium nocturnum. What do priests do all day long, anyway? Truth to be told, my real question or challenge is: What do old priests do all night long? With age, I and a goodly part of my contemporaries are no longer “dead to the world” once we hit the pillow until the alarm calls us forth in the morn. We are not insomniacs, but our sleep is lighter and any number of factors, including inexplicable leg or foot cramps, can urge us up on our feet at various and sundry hours of the night. While without a doubt, the monastic life is to be envied (you know: tumbling out of bed, shuffling through the cold and dark together with the brethren to sing the night office in the majestic abbey church), I must say that my waking for that hour, at whatever hour it might be, has become a joy that I am eager to keep for myself. Sometimes, back in bed after my prayer, I sense the office somehow continuing, which may just be the angels continuing with the additional psalms past the present canonical nine, which were the rule prior to St. Pius X. Hard to say, but a pleasant thought! 

At any rate, since the breviary reform of Pope St. Pius X, I cannot say that bringing a bit of effort and a sacrifice or two to the private recitation of the breviary justifies the radical postconciliar cutbacks supposedly explained by the office being too burdensome for the secular clergy. My question remains: What do priests do all day long, anyway? 

4. Should not the sanctoral cycle take precedence in the liturgical calendar? Does celebrating the saints detract in any way, shape or form from the centrality of Christ to the whole work of salvation?

As a young priest, I remember very clearly rejoicing in the special efforts of Pope St. John Paul II to raise many more holy men and women to the altars. His pontificate with an almost dogged determination worked to put sanctity close up and heroic before our eyes. I think especially of the concentration camp and gulag martyrs like Maximilian Kolbe. In His saints, Jesus comes close and draws us inexorably to Himself.

Apart from the question of why certain saint’s feast days were changed to a different date, one could ask why on weekdays we wear green vestments so much more often in Ordinary Time? Why are the saints, with optional memorials in the calendar, so often ignored? Was not Pius X’s breviary reform enough, assuring the use of each day’s psalms on all III class feasts? Is there a problem with singing the Te Deum most days outside of the Penitential Seasons?

5. While we are at it: When it comes to calendar… isn’t older better?

From me you will get a resounding “yes”, especially if we are talking about vigils and octaves, and giving the proper denomination to times and seasons. “Ordinary Time” does not cut it as a designation. We are never ordinary; we are always somehow in the midst of or following in the train of the great mysteries, like Epiphany or Pentecost. Ordinary? Not hardly!

6. Vernacular and enculturation. Do we work out of a cultural paradigm? Which form of the Latin Rite fits that paradigm better or are we asking the wrong question? What is familiarity or cultural rootedness? My childhood memories of the Dominican Rite were of something very strange or foreign. Somehow, it was acceptable because the visiting priest was a son of the parish who had gone off to the Dominicans, no doubt under the influence of the Dominican sisters who taught in the school. My point? People should not be so rash as to start defining cultural paradigms and labeling things foreign.

Latin is an issue and one I have not quite worked out for myself. Personally, I make a distinction concerning the way in Latin which Holy Mass and the Hours of the Breviary touch my heart. Maybe the difference stems from the fact that the Vetus Ordo Mass I experience as celebrated, and in this case as the bishop celebrant surrounded by ministers (deacons, subdeacons, etc.). The breviary I know from private recitation. It could also be that my memories of the Vetus Ordo from childhood and youth and of the texts in Latin speak to me on their own. With the breviary, the Latin suggests to me not itself from my childhood, but a vernacular text in English or Italian or German, which has been part of me either constantly or periodically for all of my priesthood and before… a half century? Yet the breviary touches my heart too: most recently in and through one of those tough hymns, Nunc, Sancte, nobis, Spíritus, from Terce. It is the second stanza that interests me:

Os, lingua, mens, sensus, vigor
Confessiónem pérsonent.
Flamméscat igne cáritas,
Accéndat ardor próximos.

Let flesh and heart and lips and mind
Sound forth our witness to mankind;
And love light up our mortal frame,
Till others catch the living flame.

I’ll keep trying with the Latin…

Excuse me if this has all been a bit rapid fire. I would love to have your observations and your requests for clarification. Instead of saying, “Moving Forward”, I guess I could have shouted out a rallying call like “The future is ours!” In either case, my intention would be to enlist you to help shake many of my friends out of their complacency. People twenty or so years older than I with very negative memories of the old rite are not so many anymore. They are not so much, nor were they ever the issue. The problem is one of perceiving the precipice and stepping out of the crowd hurtling toward the edge. Grasping the sense of the “new forward”, if you will, demands coming to a full stop, stepping back, and taking a look around.

PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Attentive as to a Lamp in a Dark Place


The Transfiguration of the Lord
6 August 2019

“…the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, … we had been eyewitnesses of His grandeur.”

Our Epistle today taken from 2 Peter explains very clearly how we share in the Mystery of the Transfiguration. In our case, different from Peter, James and John, we share in the great revelation not by vision but by words. As it was for the chosen three on Mount Tabor, so are we destined to be consoled and strengthened by the Word of God. God has also communicated to us not from a bright cloud, but even so unerringly through the Apostles and their successors in the Church right up until our day, such that we might live in steadfast hope of the coming of His Day.

“This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased. And this voice we ourselves heard borne from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mount. And we have the word of prophecy, surer still, to which you do well to attend, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

As to a lamp shining in a dark place… I suppose what distinguishes us in our Transfiguration experience from Peter, James and John is that we are not caught totally off guard or sleeping as they were. We have the benefit of their testimony; we can hold on to the word that they proclaimed. Holding on tight: that is our job; that is our destiny. We stand on their shoulders; their word is ours within the community of the Church. Attending to that word of prophecy, as Peter exhorts, is a different experience than was theirs, perhaps solely because ours is well, yes and no, without surprises.

“This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear Him.” The Father’s command, hear Him, is not so much a moral precept as it is a call to enter into relationship with the beloved Son. It is as simple or challenging as cultivating a life of prayer appropriate to our station in life. James Keating, in a small book he wrote recently for priests and deacons sums it up so: “The great struggle of the spiritual life is to find ways to stay in love with God.” (REMAIN IN ME Holy Orders, Prayer, and Ministry, James Keating, Paulist Press New York / Mahwah, NJ, Kindle Edition 2019.)

You might say, we believe that the primary challenge or goal of the Christian life is to stay focused …As to a lamp shining in a dark place… Living a moral life, being upright, of course, goes without saying. But if we live in justice, we are still not halfway to our goal. We need to seek His Face, the Lord’s Face. In the little Keating book just quoted, the author would have us all contemplatives. Lest anyone be frightened off by such a big word, I would say rather that our vocation is to vigilance, to attentiveness, to keeping our gaze fixed on that lamp, on that word of prophecy, on Christ the beloved.

In the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Cathedral in my home town, there is a very large tableau painting with Christ enthroned in glory at the very center, His Sacred Heart is visible as are the wounds of His Passion. Besides a fair number of angels in the upper part of the canvas to either side of the Lord, there are all manner of saints and a number of allegories portrayed on the canvas as well. What strikes me about the angels is that the artist intentionally depicted them all as either young boys or young men. Their devotion and attentiveness to the Lord Jesus has almost a bold, military air about it. My reflection on the tableau’s angels would be that their attentiveness to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is transforming. In a sense, they are young men who have gotten their wings; they have been transfigured, because of their attentiveness to the Lord, the God of our salvation, the beloved Son of the Father.

Attentiveness is a challenge, at least as far as it involves a constant disposition of the will: “The great struggle of the spiritual life is to find ways to stay in love with God.”

I can remember that my mother could almost sleep standing up. I have that from her. I think I slept through my whole formal education. If you are like me, then staying awake in prayer is where your struggle lies, if not physically awake, then at least in terms of focus. In terms of our relationship with the Lord, as Jesus admonished Peter, James and John for sleeping in the Garden and as the scene on Mount Tabor jolted them out of their sleep, both times as the Lord Himself prayed, we are called to be ever vigilant, watchful in prayer, as was Jesus Himself. As to a lamp shining in a dark place… We need to hear the words of St. Peter and be attentive. Benefitting from the witness of the Church the surprise element does not regularly figure in for us as it did for the three of them on the Mount of Transfiguration. Returning to my thought about the angels in the painting, we will earn our wings, if you will, through our vigilance. The Lord has no need of our tent building efforts, but rather of our attentiveness to Him: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear Him.”

The Mother of God could well be said to be noted for her attentiveness. Through Christ‘s infancy, childhood and youth, she cherished it all in her heart. Attentive as she was, she called her Son‘s attention to the wine shortage at Cana and instructed the waiters to do as He said: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear Him.”

The mystery of the Transfiguration is great indeed, but the challenge for you and for me is to watch and pray. As to a lamp shining in a dark place

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Suffering with Christ for His Church

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
20-21 July 2019
St. Mary’s Parish in Sioux Falls 


“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”  Those are St. Paul’s words from the second reading from today’s Mass. I know it is usually the Gospel just read which draws the attention of the preacher and his listeners, but I think I want to go with the second reading.

Most folks are quite familiar, maybe even overly familiar with the Gospel message: “Martha, Martha!... Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” From the words of Jesus we come to understand that hospitality is really something great, but the heart of hospitality is attentiveness to your guest. Jesus kind of shook His finger at Martha, because she allowed herself to be stressed with Jesus and other guests in her house, caught up as she was in the form of it all. Martha meant well, but she was missing out on Jesus and His words. "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." …“Martha, Martha!... Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

As I say, I hope you won’t mind if I leave aside Martha and Mary, as well as Abraham and Sarah from the Book of Genesis, as they entertain the three strangers under the tree. I want to go with the second reading, which according to the pattern for Ordinary Time is a continuous reading from Sunday to Sunday. We are in chapter one of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. This passage has nothing to do with hospitality and attentively serving guests. I want to privilege St. Paul’s words, because where I come from in Switzerland and in not too few places around the world Catholic people, today especially, really need to hear what St. Paul is saying and reform their lives. Too few people today understand what it means to share in the Cross of Christ. They need to make a bigger turnaround than did Martha fussing over serving her guests.

What is St. Paul talking about here in his letter to the Colossians? He’s talking about the mission proper to a minister of the Church on behalf of God’s People. The key word to describe that mission is neither leadership, nor authority, not even the word service. Paul says he is called to suffering for the sake of the people. He has to make up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of the salvation of the world. Paul talks about a stewardship on behalf of the people which is grounded in a suffering like unto that of Christ on the Cross.

Granted, St. Paul’s message is obvious to most Christians, but I would maintain only maybe obvious, just as long as the suffering part doesn’t really come to the fore. Both priests and people tend to have unreasonable expectations of the role which the Church should play in our lives. We tend to shortchange the message of Christ’s Cross as central to the Christian life. You might say that we are not as Pauline as we should be. 

  In Europe the season of priestly ordinations and first Masses has just come to an end for 2019. One of the customs tied in his home parish to the celebration of the ordination of a new priest in some parts of German speaking Europe at least, which as far as I know did not come over with our ancestors, or at least never caught on here in South Dakota, is that of setting up and dedicating a cross, as big as the central cross in most of our cemeteries, somewhere along a lane or a walking path near the village of the new priest. I think they generally call it a First Mass Cross. As a symbol, everyone understands the meaning of this cross and that it is not just the family, but the whole town which is proud of this young man now set aside for God’s service as a priest.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”  No doubt the symbolism of priesthood and Cross is right, but you wonder how often either the young man in his priesthood or the people of his home parish think about how that cross is supposed to mark his call to suffer for the people just like Jesus did and just as St. Paul felt himself called to do.  “…in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.”

In a sense this is what is at the heart of the novel by Georges Bernanos, entitled “Diary of a Country Priest”. There is nothing particularly appetizing or rewarding about the life of the young priest in the story, but at the end he dies confident in God’s grace, somehow freed from all the sickness and hunger, the frustrations and sorrows which had plagued his very short life as a seemingly unsuccessful rural pastor.

Everyone has his or her own theory about the vocation shortage which plagues the Church today. Some people will blame it on the lack of faith in the families, others will say that affluence is the killer: that our young people are too materialistic. Other people are convinced that the abuse crisis is what has done us in. I won’t discount any of that, but will ask you for a moment to focus on St. Paul and embracing suffering. I mean that not only in terms of vocations to the priesthood and sisterhood, but for the Christian life in general. Much of the crisis afflicting Christian family life and the sacrament of Matrimony has to do with our being held bound by old Lucifer’s refusal to serve the Lord, his “non serviam”, Satan’s I will not serve.

This year I met a marvelous older gentleman, who subsequent to the event which he invited me to in a parish in central Switzerland, sent me a letter to explain a bit more about his background, about the profound conversion which took place in his life following his divorce. The sense of this conversion might be expressed in the notion that following all that had gone wrong in his life and marriage, he finally embraced the Cross. He never remarried and I think it safe to say he is happy because he has found his consolation in Christ.

As strange as it may seem, I guess if I had a wish for your new pastor it would be that together with St. Paul he could wholeheartedly embrace Christ’s Cross and thereby offer his people, you, not only an example of Christian perfection, but of true and lasting joy.

May Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, whom we venerate as the Sorrowful Mother, stand by us and lead us to Paradise at the foot of her Son’s Cross!

PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI

Renewing all Things in Christ

A news item from Germany, reported in kath.ch (the Swiss Catholic News Service) annoyed me today (here). “Annoyed” is indeed the right word, because it neither worried me nor troubled me. The topic as such should be worrying or troubling, namely that 2018 marked a new record high for people leaving the major churches, Catholic and Protestant, in Germany. We’ll know the statistical results for Switzerland come September. 

But rather I was annoyed, because the statistics offered the author of the article occasion to push for a sort of church reform that is not reform at all but innovation. It is sort of like pretending that you would be more appealing as a person if you could just be somehow different, as in: try a facelift, try Botox, try a tummy tuck, try various implants, and why not a sex change while you’re at it! If people are truly running away from authentic Catholic, then why should I try and run after them? My odds of catching them and winning them over through pandering are practically null. Jumping ship is not what reform is about.  Reform, if it is what we need, has to do with returning to faithfulness and begging pardon for past sins and failings. Reform involves making reparation, something profound, much more than a costume change.

Reforming a life, reforming Church practice is sort of like church architecture and the difference between vulgar barren concrete or whitewashed boxy spaces of the contemporary sort. It is no less obvious than is the difference between a 1970’s wreckovation and some of the restorations such as at our Cathedral here in Sioux Falls, which have been successfully completed in recent years. One of the joys of living in Switzerland is my having had the privilege of celebrating Mass according to the traditional form (Vetus Ordo) in old and for the most part untouched churches, some of them truly magnificent worship spaces, both big ones and small. Herein we are talking about more than beauty in the sense of adornment; we’re talking about a relative perfection in lines and proportion. 

The mentioned article is obviously of a neo-modernist bent, pushing its own little mythology about innovation and change being the necessary trajectory of life. It is hard for most folks to balk at such when your whole life long it has been drummed into you that the progressive thing is to move forward never looking back. It’s a message at total odds with the rootedness which should be ours in Christ. The unseen God has manifest Himself in the Son; Jesus of Nazareth is not to be invented or sought out on some sort of quest into the unknown. We know Him and watch for His coming again in glory upon the clouds of heaven. As the angels announced on the Ascension Mount, this same one will return as you saw Him going.  “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear Him.”

Be gone, tired old innovators! Make room for restoration, for a rediscovery of God’s Anointed One!

PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI