The Archdiocese of Baltimore, my home diocese, is suggesting that the faithful take the “Fortnight for Freedom Pledge” which goes as follows:
I Pledge to
…for the success of the Fortnight for Freedom and for the preservation of religious freedom for Catholic Americans and people of all faiths;
…myself and others on the threats posed to our religious liberty rights and the consequences that await should these threats go unchecked; and
…by participating in Fortnight events in my parish to prevent further religious liberty incursions so that the rights we cherish as both Americans & people of faith are preserved for us and for all future generations.
OK… Am I the only one wondering what the heck praying for the freedom of “people of all faiths” is supposed to accomplish? Think about what that prayer might look like:
Let us pray for the enemies of Holy Mother Church, that they may enjoy the freedom necessary to destroy her:
In Your inscrutable clemency, please move the hearts and minds of those who govern our fair land, that they may never draft laws that in any way dare to encumber the freedom of Wiccans, Muslims, Buddhists, heathens, heretics or practitioners of any of the other false religions that despise your Son, so that they may ever be guaranteed the freedom of expression necessary to lead souls away from You unto the eternal damnation of many.
Uh…. no thanks. I think I’ll politely decline the invitation.
As for Educate, here’s a crazy idea: Instead of indoctrinating yourself and your loved ones with the twisted logic of those who wish to convince you that it’s a virtue to pray for the freedom of false religions that directly oppose Jesus Christ, consider taking some time to find out what it means to proclaim His Kingship by studying the encyclical Quas Primas? Believe it or not, the Church hasn’t officially rejected the doctrine concerning the Social Kingship of Christ, her prelates have simply ceased to preach it. That’s means you have to, otherwise it won’t happen.
That brings us to Act: If you haven’t already, consider signing the Christus Rex for Freedom pledge to offer authentic Catholic prayer on behalf of the Church and her freedom, that her prelates may once again muster the courage to proclaim the Sovereign rights of Christ the King. Of course, there’s always the option of participating in your local parish’s “Pancakes for Patriotism” and “Fish Fry for Freedom,” crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
Ask pretty much any regular, even daily, Mass-going Catholic… Novus Ordo Mass-going Catholic, that is… how important the homily is, and the odds are pretty good the answer will be, “It’s incredibly important!”
In May of 2012, America Magazine ran a story about a recent survey conducted at the request of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., of Trenton, N.J., wherein inactive Catholics were asked “why they left.”
Not surprisingly, the matter of poor homilies came to the fore.
Another woman wrote, “I tried different Catholic churches in the area because I just didn’t seem to be getting anything out of the Mass, especially the homily.” Another person said, “I stopped going regularly because the homilies were so empty… ” There were many complaints about the quality of homilies as well as about poor music at Mass.
So, how important is the homily at Holy Mass? Well, it depends on who you ask.
If you pose the very same question to a Catholic who is fortunate enough to regularly assist at the Traditional Latin Mass, the answer you’ll likely receive is that it’s not very important at all. And guess what? Objectively speaking, it’s not.
Now, that’s not to say that the homily is entirely irrelevant. Even the Council of Trent recognized the great opportunity the sermon represents for pastors to expound upon “some portion of those things which are read at Mass, and explain some mystery of this Most Holy Sacrifice, especially on the Lord’s days and festivals.” (cf Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Ch. VIII)
That being said, the homily, in the scope of the sacred liturgy as a whole, is not terribly important, which is precisely why it is optional in the traditional rite, and may be omitted on weekdays even in the Novus Ordo.
So, why do so many Catholics today tend to vastly overestimate the homily’s importance?
In short, this phenomenon is nothing more than the bitter fruits of the protestantization of the Mass that took place following Vatican Council II.
Let’s be honest, there is scarcely a Catholic among us who will deny that their experience of the new Mass, as most typically celebrated (facing the people), is heavily influenced by what I call “the liturgical persona” of the priest-celebrant.
For example, when Mass is offered by a priest who effectively manifests a true love for the Lord and His people – not simply through the homily, but throughout the entirety of the rite, whether by the expressiveness of his intonations, the eloquence of his gestures or by some other means – it is not uncommon for the faithful to experience a certain “connection” and a sense of joy that is due in no small measure to the pious feelings that the priest himself aroused within them.
The converse, of course, is also true as one’s experience of Holy Mass is often impacted in a negative way by a priest who lacks the charisma, and dare we say the “stage presence,” of the aforementioned other, a “shortcoming” often made most evident in the course of a bland, uninspiring homily.
The common thread in both of these examples is the “performance driven” dynamic that features so prominently in the newly configured rite, something that is utterly foreign to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as offered according to the usus antiquior, wherein even the worst of homilies can do little to rob the rite of its transcendent grandeur.
In short, the notion that the homily is an important part of the Mass, and the closely related claim that lousy preaching is driving Catholics away, is facile.
The real tragedy evident in all of this is the fact that the new Mass has given rise to an equally new class of Catholic liturgical consumers who, just like their protestant counterparts whose sensibilities the liturgical reformers were so eager to placate, are looking for a good return on the investment of the their time in the pew, as measured according to the subjective whims of personal taste.
Vatican Radio provided a full transcript of the Holy Father’s address, and it is one that the overwhelming majority of Catholics will consider of little note, being nothing more than the boilerplate religious diplomacy that has so characterized the ecumenical movement of the last 40+ years.
Even so, the words spoken this day by Pope Francis to Justin Welby, in spite of their congruence with what many now consider the “new normal” in the Church’s relationship with heretical sects, are plainly incompatible with authentic Catholic thought concerning the matter of ecumenism as understood by every Roman Pontiff prior to Vatican II.
Pope Francis began his address by providing the practical definition of what passes for “continuity” in the minds of modern day ecumenists by quoting Pope Paul VI:
On the happy occasion of our first meeting, I make my own the words of Pope Paul VI, when he addressed Archbishop Michael Ramsey during his historic visit in 1966: “Your steps have not brought you to a foreign dwelling … we are pleased to open the doors to you, and with the doors, our heart, pleased and honoured as we are … to welcome you ‘not as a guest or a stranger, but as a fellow citizen of the Saints and the Family of God.’”
Ever since these words were first spoken by Pope Francis’ Venerable predecessor, heretics everywhere have been wondering, either openly or subconsciously, why, given that the pope himself has declared all self-described Christians to be “fellow citizens” in the “Family of God,” would anyone comfortable in whatever sect they happen to call home, ever bother converting to the Holy Roman Catholic Church?
It’s a valid question, one that the popes until recent decades didn’t hesitate to answer with clarity, letting it be known that the Catholic Church alone possesses the fullness of those gifts that Jesus Christ wills for all, including unity.
Pope Pius XI, for example, in his 1926 Encyclical, Mortalium Animos, said, “…unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief, one Christian Faith … There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by fostering the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it.”
The Instruction from the Holy Office on the Ecumenical Movement, issued under Pope Pius XII, further underscored the singular path to unity among those who wish to follow Christ, saying, “True reunion can only come about by the return of dissidents to the one true Church of Christ”
As such, it should be obvious why Pope Benedict XV, whose reign immediately preceded that of Pius XI, said that although we desire for all Christians to be gathered in one fold under one shepherd, the Catholic Church cannot join with others in what is considered a “search” for unity. Why? Because the Catholic Church is already one, and so she must not give the appearance of searching for a unity that she already possesses.
In short, to speak of the Catholic Church as though she, like the heretical sects, is searching for an elusive unity, would be to give the false impression, to those both within the fold and those without, that we await an as yet unknown church, one that we must grow toward, as though the Church herself is evolving into an ever more perfect society, the likes of which one can only imagine.
Speaking in such ways is to undermine the very mission of the Church from within, as she is already a perfect society. Pope Leo XIII, for instance, said of the Catholic Church:
“This society is made up of men, just as civil society is, and yet is supernatural and spiritual, on account of the end for which it was founded, and of the means by which it aims at attaining that end. Hence, it is distinguished and differs from civil society, and, what is of highest moment, it is a society chartered as of right divine, perfect in its nature and in its title, to possess in itself and by itself, through the will and loving kindness of its Founder, all needful provision for its maintenance and action.” (Immortale Dei)
Today is a new day in the Church, however, one in which the Roman Pontiffs speak in the manner of a confused young adult in search of his own identity. Don’t get me wrong, the Church is ever the same, it’s just that many of her post-conciliar members, even to the highest offices, have apparently forgotten who we are.
Pope Francis’ address to Justin Welby faithfully followed the template provided by the Vatican II document, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism, issuing precisely zero calls to conversion and yet numerous suggestions of a joint search for unity.
Addressing his Anglican guest, Pope Francis said:
Today’s meeting is an opportunity to remind ourselves that the search for unity among Christians is prompted not by practical considerations, but by the will of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who made us his brothers and sisters, children of the One Father. Hence the prayer that we make today is of fundamental importance. This prayer gives a fresh impulse to our daily efforts to grow towards unity, which are concretely expressed in our cooperation in various areas of daily life …
The unity we so earnestly long for is a gift that comes from above and it is rooted in our communion of love with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As Christ himself promised, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Let us travel the path towards unity, fraternally united in charity and with Jesus Christ as our constant point of reference. In our worship of Jesus Christ we will find the foundation and raison d’être of our journey. May the merciful Father hear and grant the prayers that we make to him together. Let us place all our hope in him who “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).
A common search for unity… Growing toward unity… Earnestly longing for unity… Traveling the path together toward unity…
An ecclesial identity crisis if ever there was one.
On May 28, 2013, self-identified “Bishop” Janice R. Huie of the United Methodist self-proclaimed “Church” presided (a proper use of the word) over a rite of commissioning and so-called “ordination” involving some fellow heretics.
This is nothing new, of course. Protestants have been engaged in fake-believe ceremonial mockeries of the sacraments instituted by Christ for many centuries.
What made this particular dog and pony show noteworthy is that it took place with the permission of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.
When questioned about the wisdom of allowing the abortion-supporting sect to carry out a mock ordination in the shadow of the Cathedral’s altar, Cardinal DiNardo reportedly defended his decision, saying that it was an act of “ecumenical hospitality.”
When news of the spectacle spread via Catholic blogs and social media, many faithful Catholics reacted with utter disbelief that a prelate – a Cardinal no less – would so cavalierly invite grave scandal upon the very same faithful that he is charged with shepherding.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t surprised in the least.
As I perused photographs of the assembled heretics, some of whom were adorned in clerical Halloween costumes, apparently convinced that they were engaged in an act of sacred significance, I could almost hear the faint echo of a large crowd chanting, “Santo subito! Santo subito! Santo subito!”
You see, as I went about digesting the unsavory images depicting the bitter reality of what had taken place at the Cathedral in Houston, exponentially more horrifying images flooded my mind; namely, those of Pope John Paul II and the unthinkable scene that unfolded in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, not once, but twice, in both 1986 and 2002.
In what was billed as a World Day Prayer for Peace, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the same who established but one Church and charged it with the mission of teaching the nations to observe everything whatsoever that He commanded, was gathered together in “prayer” with heathens, heretics, pagans and humanists before the altar of the Lord Most High, in what he too presumably considered to be a supreme act of ecumenical hospitality.
Within moments, images of his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, came to mind.
Not to be outdone, he who would eventually abdicate hosted a similar gathering, one that included witch doctors and atheists, in his own World Day Prayer for Peace at the Basilica in Assisi in 2011. In the pope’s own words, the purpose was “to solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service to the cause of peace,” giving both believer and unbeliever alike the distinct impression that the Roman Pontiff intended to teach the world that the practice of just any ol’ religion, or no religion at all, is an acceptable avenue toward upholding the common good.
With this bit of perspective established, it was clear to me then, and is clear to me now, that what happened at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston several weeks ago, as deplorable as it was, is really best understood as little more than the chickens of Assisi coming home to roost.
Thank you, Holy Fathers!