Saturday, April 30, 2016

Omissions from the Lectionary

In North America, at least, at least in the English-speaking part of it, among Catholics anyway, those who shall be fulfilling their obligations in the Ordinary Form, this Sunday... You are about to be scandalized by a glaring omission. There's been a lot of talk lately of Lectionary lacunae, mostly relating to Discipline of the Sacraments. Today's is ... different but not less strange.

Specifically, the First Reading, from Acta Apostolorum, chapter 15, is going to skip over vv. 3-21. And what is in those verses?
  • That many Jews had already converted
  • That among them were some who had been Pharisees
  • That these same were furthermore docile to Ecclesial correction
  • That dealing with controversy in open honest debate is one of the things the Church does
  • The Primacy of Peter
  • True Episcopal Collegiality
  • The distinction between the moral and the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament
What is left in the Lectionary: There was controversy in Antioch; that Paul and Barnabas, along with a Silas and a Jude, received an anonymous-but-unanimous decision, by unspecified means, from "The Church", to bring back to Antioch to settle things down.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thoughts on...

... "Thoughts about the Church and the Place of the Society of Saint Pius X in it"

Fr. Schmidberger has courageously allowed an authorized translation of his leaked letter to be published, and it is available at the New Liturgical Movement.

Now, Fr. Schmidberger knows his audience (and mostly it's not us). So, it's possible that his main concern is to sway them. It is simultaneously possible that Fr. Schmidberger is entirely candid and genuinely puts forward his own opinions.

I really want the Society to become regularized, to enrich the Whole Church again and be not a sign of division or contradiction, except to the World. I really want the priests of the Society and their devoted flocks to have the full benefit of the Church's protection and solicitude. The few things I have heard from the Society hierarchs, and the definite echoes of them I find in this letter... they deeply unnerve me. I greatly fear for the Priests of the Society that their very touching loyalty is badly misplaced. I pray that it may not be (on this I so very much want to be proved wrong!); I pray that if it be, may it not persist longer; and I pray that Truth Resplendent may reign in time.

Following Further

There is at least one obvious pitfall near the (optimistic, possibly-pious, opinion) "Infantes in Limbus Patrum", and that is indifferentism: if "all" that is needed to be bound for Heaven is to live and die righteous, whether one has heard the Gospel or not... why risk preaching the Gospel at all?

Apart from the fact of being commissioned, there are at least two answers, closely related but different.

The first is: lacking the Gospel makes knowing true virtue (which finds fullness of expression in Our Lord himself) a difficult task. To be sure, there are plenty who do know the Gospel in some wise, who are even in the Sacraments, and nonetheless appear other than virtuous. People like me, for instance. But I should be still worse off without them! There are definitely things I wouldn't even know to fight if I hadn't been taught, though they still would not conduct happiness at all.

The second answer is: even within Heaven, while all in Heaven are holy, there are also better and still better. Or, as St. Therese "petite Fleur" imagined it: in Heaven all shall be as a glass that is filled; but some glasses hold more than others. Even those who find virtue by unaided reason can still be enlarged, enriched in holiness, by the help of the Gospel, and so be better saints in Heaven.

I really wanted to have a more-developed version of both these responses, but I seem not to be in an expansive frame of mind anymore; this will have to do.

Still hoping for thoughtful replies,
the usual batty fellow

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Long delayed following-up

A while back I mentioned that the worst entailed supernatural consequence of a miscarriage is a new, innocent, naturally happy soul in Limbus infantum, singing to the Glory of perhaps they know not what, but it is very good indeed.

I should have mentioned at the time, perhaps, exactly everything the Church definitively teaches about this Infants' Limbo:
Would you like me to repeat anything?

But perhaps I should expand: the Limbo of Infants was conjectured on account of the circumstances: De fide, Baptism is Necessary for Salvation; with: Observationally, some infants die, bearing Original Sin but personally innocent, before it is possible to baptise them; and: certainly The Just cannot find innocents damned. But the proposed solution is a pious opinion, which is to say it ranks a tadge below approved private revelation in terms of its seriousness, yet there are no obviously bad doctrinal consequences to it. None obvious yet, anyways.

Dante, I understand, likes some sort of Limbo; I find a keen beauty in the idea. But there are, of course, reasonable grounds to question the argument itself for Infants' Limbo. Principally, there is the difficult word, "Necessary".

Here is something the Catholic Church (together with sensible Stoics and Taoists and, I should hope, Republican Democrats) definitively teaches about Necessity:
The Impossible is not Necessary.
That's already a whole proposition more than is definitively taught about Infants' Limbo! What follows is: the necessity of baptism is not an argument that those we cannot reach to baptise are unsaved. The necessity of baptism instead means two things: we who know to baptise those well-disposed1 must do so0, and those who do hear the Gospel (really hear it, understand it2), they must seek3 baptism, as necessary for (respectively) our salvation and theirs.

Of course there is another Limbo, about which it is Definitively Taught that Christ appeared there, the Limbus Patrum, the resort, refuge, and refreshment of the Righteous Souls who died before His advent on Earth. There is also a Jewish tradition of recognizing righteous Gentiles, evident in the Old Testament itself. I did read somewhere a claim that this Limbo "doesn't exist anymore", whatever that might mean, but if that's so, Ludwig Ott seems not to know so, and I can't find other references. And so, unless some great patriarch tells me otherwise, it seems reasonable to hope that every righteous soul who really could not hear the Gospel in life still arrives there to hear Christ himself preaching, infants included. And what comes after that... of course I do not know. But, at least there may be an argument for a pious opinion that "Limbus infantum" makes a good name for the condition of infant souls in Limbus Patrum? Maybe??

What do you all think? I already anticipate an objection or two, and am still considering, but external advice is even better.

0 : respecting the proper authority, of course: if the one asking is near death, you are the proper authority.
1 : infants in our care, and the unbaptised who ask for it.
2 : like... I expect there are lots of muslims who will never be able to hear the Gospel; I rather expect "Dalai Lama" Kundun has heard the Gospel by now, but again he still seems to be breathing, so there is yet hope.
3 : Again, seek: if it's impossible (no-one can reach you, or there's no water...), then it's not necessary

Monday, April 25, 2016

Puzzling over the acient Hebrew inner sense

Spurred on by something, I began simply praying through the Psalms, from beginning to end, last week; and it has been good. Some things are strange, though, and by far the strangest thing in them (though it's hardly the first time I've been struck by this strangeness since diving into the deep end of Catholic Tradition) ... an intermittent expression,
Enflame [our] heart and [our] reins
The heart I understand. I can feel my heart doing all sorts of weird things, reflecting bits of mood that aren't in the top of my head, from affection to choler. Dread sits somewhere else (but, again, is reflected in the heart in a way I notice quicker) But... those "reins"... I'm pretty sure that word is "kidneys". But I can't recall my kidneys ever telling me anything except (sometimes) to wake up. Is... is there more? Certainly, knowing when to wake up is handy, but... and "viscera misericordiae" is... again, frankly, weird, but does certainly express depth and thoroughness anyways.

To be sure, there are ancient traditions situating courage in the Liver, of all things, which again puzzles me (I've never felt my liver do anything at all, and I think we prefer it that way), except that brandy is known to act on both.

Can any of you good folks enlighten me?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A little mystery

You may remember this meditation on the tunic that Our Lord wore, walking from Gabbatha to Golgotha; and still more recently in thinking about vines (and vineyards) found this prophecy about Juda:
By none shall scepter be taken away from Juda nor rule from his lap, until He shall come Who Is sent; And that shall be the expectation of nations: tying to the vineyard his colt, and to the vine, O my son, his ass, he shall wash in wine his cloak, and in the blood of grapes his tunic. ...
(my own translation, leaning heavily upon Douay) ... for it seems in the fulfillment (cf. also what is not too silly in this note) that the figure was inverted: Christ's tunic was washed in his own blood, which he has also given his Church to drink under the appearances of wine.

This... point, that Jesus after being flogged was dressed again in his tunic, left me wondering why the soldiers who nailed him up were so eager to keep the cloth; in many paintings of the subject, Jesus' clothing appears all to be white, which may be symbol of his Divine purity, but they would not remain so, after he had borne the cross and fallen several times. To be sure, soldiers of any sort must know something about laundering out blood stains, but now I think either it was a miracle that Jesus was naturally able to walk to Golgotha at all, or the colour of the tunic was one in which a faded blood stain would not too much obtrude. Perhaps a deep purple, or violet, as Exodus prescribes for the priest's tunic?

Sanguis Christi, inebria me

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Capite nobis vulpes, vulpes parvulas, quae demoliuntur vineas, nam vinea nostra floruit...

1 Cantabo dilecto meo canticum patruelis mei, vineae suae; vinea facta est dilecto meo in cornu filio olei, 2 et sepivit eam, et lapides elegit ex illa, et plantavit eam electam, et aedificavit turrem in medio eius, et torcular extruxit in ea, et expectavit ut faceret uvas: et fecit labruscas. 3 Nunc ergo, habitator Hierusalem et vir Iuda, iudicate inter me et inter vineam meam: 4 quid est quod debui ultra facere vineae meae, et non feci ei? An quod expectavi ut faceret uvas, et fecit labruscas? ...

Non auferetur sceptrum de Iuda et dux de femoribus eius, donec veniat qui mittendus est et ipse erit expectatio gentium; 11 Ligans ad vineam pullum suum et ad vitem, o fili mi, asinam suam, lavabit vino stolam suam et sanguine uvae pallium suum; 12 Pulchriores oculi eius vino et dentes lacte candidiores.

Ego sum vitis vera et Pater meus agricola est ...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Loosely connected thoughts

I have never heard anyone boast of “living as brother and sister”. Never. I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm saying I've never heard such a thing.

And my point is: the public appearances of things are how scandal is given (or taken) more than the facts in private life. And the CIC 915 is about The Public Appearances of Things. Ed Peters recently expresses it: "Canon 915 [...] does not require Catholic ministers to read the souls of [...]", well, the souls of anyone.

Of course, there are also canons about who may approach our Eucharistic Lord, and there is Scripture about not giving scandal, and so — perhaps, not that anyone else should be watching who approaches the altar, nor that writing More Canons is going to help anyone, but perhaps — it might be a fruitful clarification of the law that knowing that public Communion might scandalize, even being certain with well-formed conscience that one has confessed and repented of all known mortal sins, one should not approach for public Communion.

The oft-mentioned Fahrenheit 351, plainly, talks of sacraments, in the plural, and the usually-reasonable folk I read do express a supposition that this means, even in Francis' mind 1) Confession and 2) possibly Communion. And the patently obvious solution to everyone's troubles on this point is: if there's some situation that, on the Outside looks like Obstinate Grave Sin, but after careful well-informed examination cum sentire Ecclesiae it isn't ObsGrS., Then Private Communion, continuo post confessionem is a fine thing indeed. A very old, well-known, fine thing. Some Copts explained to me, once, that in their understanding of the sacraments, Communion is the consummation of Confession. As in: genuinely a distinct Sacrament, but manifesting in particular the penitent's Reconciliation to the Lord.

A very old solution to a very old problem. I mean... It's not as if any of our problems these days are new! Even ill-formed consciences are not new.

What may be new is the Frequency and Immediacy of Noise About Them. Electronic communications being so new, we don't yet know how to deal with it, really, but ... This shall pass, or the World shall pass first. But even then. Hardly the most important thing.

Be cool, O My Neighbors, and God be with ye.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Long game

So. Something less than two years since the first meeting; something more than two years since the Surveys went out. Two sessions of Extraordinary Synod. Hijinks, hijacks, stolen mail, et.c., and Fr. Hunwicke's favourite parrhesia.

Indeed, no, you don't have to worry about Müller coming after you. It is Pope Francis himself who will "come after" you. It might be Pope Francis who haunts your nightmares!

Now, as much as I might like (from my quiet backwater armchair, my complete lack of orders or orderly vocation, my simple responsibility not to write carelessly nor to promote error) the idea that not bishops nor cardinals nor popes are immune to excommunication, and the invited bishops having been encouraged to deliver themselves of what they really believe as sincerely as they might, Inquisition Paused, and their having (we may suppose) actually done so;... but of course, how else might the Pope the Shepherd of Shepherds, know whither to call his wandering sheep if he doesn't know what hedges they've got tangled in? (Actually, I can think of a few ways, but maybe they Just Wouldn't Work. I don't even know that they haven't been tried!)

Some folk are particularly needled by the exclamation "no-one can be condemned forever". Jesus himself says, they remind, that the alternative to salvation is eternal fire and "the worm that dieth not"; but whom is Francis exhorting in this Apostolic Exhortation? Context, remember! If context (including Tradition) is needed for understanding Scripture, how much more for understanding the Pope from Argentina? Nay, every word of this particular letter is addressed to some living human person, some cleric or fonctionaire or journalist... Can you, reader, condemn forever anyone living but yourself? Did Jesus not also say to us "seventy times seventy times forgive", which is to say "absolutely every every time your brother apologizes"?

None of this is to suggest that I particularly like the Hortative, its thinking-out-loud style, the deliberately-informal. BUT. If we are to lament that informality, that frequent shift of human addressee, that style, as lending itself to confused interpretation, how much more we ought to parse clearly, and make sure we really do understand what we criticise, and make ourselves plainly spoken, unambiguous, and clearly addressed.

(On which score I myself frequently fail, I know it well.)

God Bless The Pope, quem unus cum Ecclesiam Suam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere dignetur toto orbe terrarum...

Friday, April 1, 2016

Silence need not betoken ignorance

I haven't done a gratitude post for some while (or so it seems), though not for any shortage of blessings. Goodness, it's embarassing, this heap of graces under which I don't know what to do but flounder a little. It's just they don't lend themselves even to enigmatic enumeration, of late.

Nonetheless, let us give thanks for all manner of good things!