Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What Does It Mean?

Masses all over the world are becoming scarce.  Dozens of dioceses all over these United States are suspending public Masses.  Just yesterday afternoon came the announcement that public Masses in the Diocese of Boise are suspended, at least through Palm Sunday (though the Cathedral parish is vastly increasing the availability of confession and Eucharistic adoration).  A few dioceses are taking the intermediate approach of carrying on with public Masses but dispensing the faithful from the Sunday obligation, or at least dispensing certain categories of people from the obligation.  The Society of St. Pius X is more or less following this middle course, though they intend to add Masses in places where their chapels are full, so that fewer people will attend each Mass.

I can only give my own, non-authoritative opinion as to what this all means.  I think it means there is an immense lack of faith and a failure to see this crisis in a supernatural light.  Some bishops in Italy, where hundreds are dying every day, have actually come out and denied even the possibility that this plague is a scourge of divine chastisement calling for repentance, conversion and propitiation.  Even some good priests say they think this is not a chastisement, despite obviously recognizing the many reasons why we so richly deserve a chastisement.  A time like this calls for an increase, not a decrease, in reception of the Sacraments and in offerings of the Propitiating Sacrifice.

Yet God, without Whose consent nothing happens, is permitting the shutting down of the Sacrifice and the restricting of access to the Sacraments even during a pandemic.  This, frankly, is a chastisement in itself, and one that I think is even more frightening than the coronavirus itself and rightly described as apocalyptic.  We should ask ourselves why God would strip us of the Mass and in some cases the Sacraments in a time of contagion.  I fear that one answer may be that, so far from propitiating God, we have actually been making the occasion of our worship a means of aggravating our guilt.

Are our hearts far away from Him, even while we honor Him with our lips?  There seems little enough to distinguish us from non-Catholics.  The Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research arm, says that, according to a 2011 study, 98% of Catholic women have used contraceptives at some point; 87% were currently using contraceptives; and 89% of Catholic women who have never married have had sex.  The Church has never changed her teaching on contraceptives or sex outside of marriage.  According to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, a quarter of Catholics have been divorced; 44% have lived in concubinage; 62% favor Communion for those who have divorced and remarried without an annulment.  Even our own clergy, up to the highest levels of the Church, have been outspoken proponents of Communion for the divorced and remarried, which the Church has never endorsed and cannot endorse.  A 2019 Pew study found that only 31% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  Most of these do not know the Church’s doctrine of transubstantiation; but 22% of Catholics do know it but reject it.  Is God putting the kibosh on countless multitudes of unworthy and sacrilegious Communions?

What about general irreverence in church?  The noise levels inside a Catholic church surpass anything that went on even during the crazy seventies, when all sorts of excesses ran riot in the liturgy.  The last time I was present at a priestly ordination in my diocese, several years ago, people were literally whooping and yelling inside the cathedral, during the Mass, as if they were at a football game.  No one corrected them.  (Now I come to think of it, we have had very, very few priestly ordinations in this diocese since then.)  Many of us, who do not have the excuse of having just come in from hard and unavoidable labor, appear at Mass dirty and smelly, dressed like slobs, or dressed immodestly.  Maybe God got tired of looking at tramp stamps and butt cracks and cleavage and flip flops inside His house, and smelling B.O. and listening to inane sports conversations in front of the tabernacle, and tossed us out until we have straightened up.  Wouldn’t we throw people out of our houses who came over only to behave disrespectfully and ignore us?

Also on ice are bound to be a great many Masses offered by perverted and corrupt priests and bishops, such as those who, to our shame, have been exposed in recent years, and by priests who preach errors and heresies from the pulpit.  Yes, as St. Thomas More explains in his Dialogue Concerning Heresies, a bad priest does not make for an invalid Mass; but nevertheless, he also argues that it would be better to have fewer Masses than more Masses offered by bad priests.  “For though God of His goodness, however bad the priest may be, well accepts the oblation of Christ’s holy Body for the sake of other folk,” says Thomas, “He yet is highly displeased with that priest’s presumption.  And we ought never to seek our own well-being with our neighbor’s harm.  And we should, as a duty to God, rather forgo the profit that we ourselves might attain by a Mass than see His Majesty disreverenced by the bold presumption of such an odious minister as He has forbidden to come around Him.”  It is worth reflecting on what the effect is in the diocese when an evil priest is uncovered and brought to light.  Do we collectively, as a local church, put on sackcloth and ashes and try to make reparation and do justice?  Or is it business as usual?

And then there is the Mass itself, as celebrated in so many places.  We quite fail, on a constant and ongoing basis, to offer to God the best that we have.  We replace Latin with the vernacular; we replace chant with guitars and tambourines, badly played; we replace polyphony with Broadway show tunes and campfire ditties.  Consider the following from a paean to ourselves, often trotted out during Lent, in which God only gets a couple of passing mentions:
We reach out to those who are homeless/To those who live without warmth/In the coolness of evening we’ll shelter their dreams/We will clothe them in mercy and peace.
What does this morass even mean?  And then there is the gender ideology injected into the Palm Sunday Gospel reading of the Passion, where the liberal liturgists assign all the male lines to female readers, while a multitude of able-bodied men stand around mute.  Whom do we seek to please by this gender-bending?  Is God pleased?

I am among those who think depriving us of the Mass and shrinking the visibility of the Church in a time of pestilence is a failure on the part of the bishops, and the result of our experiment in bringing the Church into line with the modern world.  But whatever guilt bishops may or may not incur in this is swallowed up by the realization that none of this could have happened without the permission of Almighty God.  God has allowed this to happen for a reason.

God loves us infinitely, as though each of us were the only person who ever existed, and He sent His Son to die to unlock the gates of heaven that were closed against us on account of sin.  But He is not required to put up with our crap.

We would have no chance of making it to heaven if He did.


  1. I always arrive fairly early for Mass on Sunday to read and meditate. Last Sunday before and during Mass (low) I was struck by the complete silence and reverence of the people attending. It brought to mind the chaos at a regular NO Mass. Our former pastor and next door neighbor (RIP, Father Bill) hated the noise before Mass and instituted a 10 minute or so "time of silence" before Mass. It was the best he could do and I was grateful for him trying.

    I wonder how many of the CINO's will take this opportunity to just quit their Sunday obligation forever?

    Now - on the other hand, Father Bill always said that the world would not wake up until their was a huge crisis. Maybe this is it. He's not here anymore to have that discussion - more's the pity.

    Also, if you study the rise and fall of empires, even before Rome, they all follow the exact same path. By all indications we're getting close to the end. Of course, the teaching of this has been so skewed in the state-run schools that we have several generations who have no idea of the real history of empires.

    On the upside, St. Joan's will remain open and it seems perpetual adoration will continue. They also have raised enough money for the live-streaming equipment for Mass.

    So starting after Friday's last Mass I will buzz over to church every morning for my morning prayers and journal writing. If the weather is good, I can just walk over. And when Mass starts up again I can also go to the 6:30 am Mass.

    I will say one thing in defense of guitars. One Easter I was in charge of the music for the 10:30 that was done by my 6th - 12th grade RE students. Now this Mass usually had a "band" playing every horrible Haugen and Hass song ever written. During communion I badgered my hubby (a world class guitarist and teacher of guitar, banjo, and mandolin) into playing a solo piece (classical finger style.) The parish was stunned at the beauty after years of the horrible head banging music. I'm not advocating for that as a permanent fixture, but in this instance it was sublime.

  2. Your hubby is a guitarist? Way cool!! I play guitar, but I am still a rank beginner. I still struggle with the accuracy of my fret hand, and the Good Lord gave me tiny little digits. But the biggest factor is that I don’t practice enough. I have always been partial to classical guitar and my favorite guitar to play is the 1963 Tarrega FT-111 that was my mother’s very first guitar. I think some well-placed beautiful guitar music can be a good thing; but of course the real purpose of introducing the guitars into Mass was to introduce ugly secular crap into the liturgy. (If that wasn’t the purpose of the “reformers,” then I don’t know what they would have done differently if it were.)

    The new rector of St. John’s Cathedral, Fr. Mariusz, is a good man and God bless him for offering daily hours-long adoration in the cathedral as well as daily confession in two two-hour shifts (except Sundays). Since the cathedral is open, I will be able to privately do Stations of the Cross at the cathedral, which has beautiful stations.


    He doesn't teach anymore as of last year and just does custom arrangements for peeps all over the world which keeps him very busy and out of my hair ;-)

    email me your mailing address and I'll pop some Cd's into the mail for you.

    Which remind me - I have incredimail and they're gone as of tomorrow so I have to figure out how to get my emails delivered to my computer. I'm sure I can handle it. It falls into the "need to know category." I haven't had to know before they went defunct. Now I do. If I fail, my computer guru can fix me up post haste.

  4. Thank you, I just emailed you. A computer guru is necessary in these times! I am not one myself.

  5. If our Church is truly universal, and we believe that God did stop allowing people to make "good art/music" 1000 years ago, we need to be open to other musical styles and instruments for reverent and beautiful music. Chant is beautiful. So are some contemporary hymns of worship and praise.