18

Six Impossible Liturgical Things before Breakfast

Inspired by Pope Francis’s latest pronouncements on proper conduct at Holy Mass, I’ve thought of  some other things that we might wish to happen.

  1. No hymns written after 1905 will be sung at Mass.
  2. There will be no drums, wind instruments, or guitars accompanying the choir for hymns or other liturgical music.
  3. The “Our Father” prayer will be recited or chanted;  anyone who sings the “Notre Dame Folk Choir”  “Our Father” will be required to do penance.
  4. All children under three will sleep through Mass.
  5. No one will arrive at Mass after  the opening prayer;   no one will leave until the second verse of the recessional hymn is sung.
  6. As Pope Francis requested, all cell phones will be off and conversations will be held outside the church.

I have many more, so look for another edition of this.  And feel free to add your own.

11

US Bishops Signal Resistance to Pope Francis’s Agenda?

Here’s an article in the Wall Street Journal (go to Drudge to get the post without a paywall–look for “US Catholic Leaders Signal Resistance to Pope’s Agenda”.)

Here are some quotes:

“—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops chose a conservative archbishop for a key post Tuesday, signaling resistance to Pope Francis’s vision for the church among the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of Kansas City, was elected chairman of the committee on Pro-Life Activities. In a vote of 96 to 82, he defeated Cardinal Blase Cupich, of Chicago, who is seen as a liberal in the church and a close ally of the pope.

The vote breaks a longstanding tradition of the position being held by a cardinal—an unusual lapse of deference in a highly rank-conscious body—and suggests that Catholic leaders in the U.S. remain largely resistant to the changes Pope Francis is trying to bring to the church.”

…….

” ‘It is clear since 2013 that a majority of them sees the message of Francis’ pontificate, esp. on life and marriage, as not adequate for the Catholic Church in the USA,’ Massimo Faggioli, a theologian at Villanova, said on Twitter after the vote Tuesday.”–Ian Lovett and Francis X. Rocca, Wall Street Journal, 14 Nov, ’17

The vote count was 96 to 82.   Cupich is a Cardinal and the position ordinarily goes to a Cardinal, so the closeness of the vote may be due to this break from tradition, rather than reflecting a focus on abortion and euthanasia as pro-life issues.   The article indicated that Cupich, a supporter of Pope Francis, would probably want to follow Pope Francis’s lead in bringing in other issues–capital punishment, global warming, etc–and this was rejected by the Bishops.

Is this an encouraging sign?   You tell me.

5

By their Friends Shall Ye Know them:
Mary Robinson, Friend of Francis, Champion of Abortion and Climate Change

Mary Robinson, former president of that once Catholic country, Ireland, and champion of abortion rights and climate change alarmism, is featured in an article in “Vatican Radio”.     It’s interesting that Pope Francis, possibly following that non-Catholic principle, “The ends justify the means”, has held hands with many eminent folks who propose policies directly contrary to Catholic teaching.   Besides Mary Robinson, there is Hans Schellnhuber, German academic who advocates we do all to promote “Gaia” (sp?)–population control?  abortion? one-world control?, Sir Parth Dasgupta–a population control advocate, and who knows how many others. (See here.)  Why does the Church become involved in political issues of dubious validity?

10

And Now for Something Completely Different.

As I said in another post, I am sad, nay disheartened, by what our Holy Father has been saying.   However, there’s an article in CatholicCulture.org by Dr. Jeff Mirus (a co-founder of Christendom College, to testify to his orthodoxy) that gives some hope that while things are bad now, they’ve been bad in the bad in the past but have got better.   We have to view times like these–“interesting times” as per the old Chinese curse–as sent by God to make us better.   I’ll quote from the encouraging parts of the article–go to the link above for the whole piece.

“The Church has all the guarantees she needs in her Divine Constitution to endure a pope who may be very bad in any number of ways, without any danger that the truths of the Faith will be abrogated, that the sacraments will lose their power, that Christ will cease to be the Church’s head and bridegroom, or that Christ’s promise to be with her will become void.

Belloc’s Rule

Remember the famous proof formulated by the great Catholic apologist Hilaire Belloc:

The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.

When it comes to Catholic affairs, no conspiracy theories are needed. Such theories simply give solace to people who are unwilling to accept the tensions Our Lord permits in the Church and in in Catholic life as a whole. These tensions, when they do not come from external assault, are the result of the very real sins of the Church’s members in combination with misunderstandings, personality differences, deficiencies of various kinds, differing priorities, and conflicting prudential judgments.

The Church could not have been established with human members, let alone sinners, unless such tensions were permitted. Moreover, “loophole” and “conspiracy” theories only serve to weaken the Church further than she is already weakened by the necessary elements of her constitution. Indeed, such theories often lead to serious sins, including their own brands of heresy and schism.

What we call the lunatic fringe is made up of people who refuse to tolerate the level of confusion they are asked to endure by their Lord and Savior—a Lord and Savior who permits nothing to happen to anyone that cannot be used for the soul’s good. [emphasis added]. It is precisely this desire to escape the suffering occasioned by human confusion that has ever been the hallmark of the lunatic fringe. Such a desire is not illegitimate, surely, but like every other human desire, it must be carefully restrained and channeled for the glory of God.

Things will likely get worse before they get better. Moreover, at another time they will get worse in some other way before they get better. Why should we borrow trouble? Therefore I urge everyone: Do not respond to the lure of the absurd. We Catholics have a plethora of common, garden variety explanations for all of our trials, not least the confusion within ourselves. And we also have a treasure trove of spiritual remedies for each trial.”

–Dr Jeff Mirus, “On the lunatic fringe, Francis is not the Pope”

I’m disregarding the comments of Dr. Mirus about “the lunatic fringe”, but I do believe his statement that times of trouble are foreordained for our good.

10

PopeWatch–A Papal Culture of Rebuke?

I’m very sad to keep linking to these negative articles about our Holy Father–and they aren’t crocodile tears, either–but people have to be informed of what’s happening and that respected Catholic scholars are, to put it mildly, perturbed about things.    The latest is an article by Fr. Raymond de Souza

“In that spirit, we might ask what it is that the Holy Father intends to achieve with the culture of rebuke that he has brought to the Church’s life. That it is a deliberate pastoral choice is not in dispute. The question is how the Church should receive it.

Consider only the following major examples of how the Holy Father employs the pastoral strategy of rebuke:n In an August 2013 interview with Jesuit publications, he chastised some consecrated women as being sterile spiritual “spinsters” and some pastors for being “locked up in small-minded rules.” Later would come the implication that priests make the confessional into a “torture chamber.”

In his address to the Roman Curia for Christmas 2014, he listed, in detail, 15 spiritual diseases to which those listening to him were prone.n In a January 2015 airborne news conference,

Pope Francis addressed questions of fertility by denouncing a particular woman who was expecting her eighth child, having had seven Caesarian deliveries previously. Pope Francis twice said that, upon meeting her at a Roman parish, he had chastised the woman for being irresponsible. Pope Francis gave enough information that it would be easy for her fellow parishioners to know her identity.

In the concluding address to the Synod on the Family in October 2015, the Holy Father unleashed a barrage of condemnations upon the cardinals and bishops who did not agree with him, charging them with “a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said”; of “burying their heads in the sand”; of “indoctrinating” the Gospel “in dead stones to be hurled at others”; of hiding “behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families”; and of giving into “conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints.”

In 2016 and 2017, the Holy Father has refused to clarify the ambiguities in Amoris Laetitia(The Joy of Love), all the while permitting his close subordinates to launch ad hominem attacks on those who seek clarification according to the Church’s tradition.n

Last month, a personal letter of Pope Francis to Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on liturgical matters was leaked to the press and then ordered to be sent to every bishops’ conference in the world. The content of the letter publicly corrected Cardinal Sarah’s efforts, and the manner appeared to be designed for maximum publicity.

One enthusiastic commentator noted that the maneuver was “unprecedented. … Certainly not since Vatican II have we seen such a public spanking of a high-ranking prelate.”

Moreover, on several occasions Pope Francis has called for open debate and frank and bold speech, in which members of the Church are not afraid to speak up and even contradict the Holy Father himself. Consequently, the culture of rebuke that Pope Francis favors has now spread throughout the Church.”

Go here for the rest of the article.   Will Pope Francis listen to any of these commentators?   One can sympathize with some of his stated goals, but shouldn’t the Catholic teaching, “The end doesn’t justify the means” be operative at all times?

18

PopeWatch: Fr. Weinandy’s Letter to Pope Francis

I’m going to cite a post from the Deus ex Machina blog commenting on a letter by Fr. Thomas Weinandy to Pope Francis.   There is nothing I can add to the analysis of S. Armaticus, other than to point out that his (?) viewpoint is probably quite traditional…There’s a picture of Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre on the web page.   However, even given that, I find nothing to fault in the analysis of Fr. Weinandy and S. Armaticus.

Go here for the full post.

14

Church Watch: Bio-Extinction and Population Control

I ran across an article from Catholic World Report (see here) on bio-extinction and population control.  Don’t worry–it wasn’t favorable, in fact I’ll quote:

The Church has always emphasized the autonomy of spouses in all matters pertaining to procreation vis-a-vis the state. The magisterium has never sanctioned governments orienting or directing procreative decisions that are exclusively reserved to spouses.

Concern over the direction of the Magisterium in this area cannot be ruled out as speculative. Recent events at the Pontifical Academies for Science (PAS) and the Social Sciences (PASS) have created ambiguity in this area, and Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the academies, voiced these very views in a letter published by First Things.

“You will be aware that there are methods of regulating births and of population control that are approved by the Church,” Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo wrote in reply to my criticism when Jeffrey Sachs was honored by the Vatican academies two years ago. Sachs is a Columbia University economist who has spearheaded a neo-Malthusian revival in academia and at the United Nations, warning of humanity “trespassing planetary boundaries,” and writing that abortion is a low-cost solution to the problem of unwanted children.

More recently, in February the academies welcomed Paul Ehrlich alongside other renowned population control theorists for a conference on biological extinction. Ehrlich predicted the starvation of millions people because of over-population and resource scarcity in his famous 1969 book The Population Bomb. Though his predictions were wrong, he became a celebrity and helped trigger a wave of population control policies around the world, including forced abortion, forced sterilization, and coercive family planning.

The scandal of a pontifical body giving a moral imprimatur of sorts to Ehrlich has been addressed amply. The quality of the science on which the Vatican academies are relying has also been questioned. Very little has been said about the views on the Church’s teaching on the transmission of life that surfaced from the conference.

The possibility that the Church hierarchy urge limited family size is frightening, indeed.   Where is that adherence to scripture?

“Be fruitful and multiply.”–Genesis 1:28

 

19

Academic Feminists Want to Destroy Math, Science

My blood pressure rose, my stomach gurgled as I read the following two accounts of academic feminists who would totter–not male supremacy–but mathematics and science.  The first (see here) is by Rochelle Guterriez, a  professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She claims in a new book that “on many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness (sic).”  She advocates “that things cannot be known objectively;  they must be known subjectively.”    Further, basic material in mathematics emphasizes Western culture too much (the Dead White Man complaint?):  “curricula emphasizing  terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”  (Note:  all quotes are taken from the linked article.)

The second (see here) is by Sara Giordano, a Women’s Study professor at UC Davis, who argued in an article in Catalyst Journal, that rather than traditional science, people should take an “anti-science, anti-racist, feminist approach to knowledge production.”   Shades of Stalinist Lysenkoism!   She proposes that “feminist science practice” (which is???) be introduced that “explicitly unsticks Science [sic] from Truth [sic].”  Further, she is interested in what “scientific illiteracy we might embrace to destabilize science [no uppercase here]  and remake  knowledge production.”  And, pray tell, what is knowledge production?   Science is only a part of knowledge production, but perhaps this isn’t known by academic feminists.  (Again, quotes are taken from the linked article.)

I should emphasize that I do not oppose women taking part in science.   There is a letter from a former grad student in my research group (it was on the occasion of my 80th birthday–a minor Feschriff (sp?)) thanking me for the efforts I took back in the 1950’s (when feminism was not in sway) to argue for her against professors who said women had no place in gradate school, who gave her unfair grades and who wanted to boot her out of the graduate program because she was pregnant. My efforts to change her grades and keep her doing research were successful.   She got her Ph.D. and a successful career thereafter.  There are many women who have made significant contributions to science and mathematics.   One of the most significant is Emmy Noether, who made a profound contribution to theoretical physics by her work relating conservation principles to symmetry.

What amazes and disturbs me is that the two feminist academics discussed above are suckers of the public teat;  they have positions (tenured?) at moderately prestigious universities, financed by taxpayer dollars.    Is the academic enterprise so far gone that there is no hope for recovery?  I don’t see that there’s any cure, other than a stake through the heart–remove all public support from institutions of so-called higher learning and let the marketplace decide what shall flourish.  Although, that may not work either–witness the Ivy League and second and third class stand-ins.   Hmm… any solutions, dear reader?

 

11

Pope Watch–Rebuke to Cardinal Sarah

I don’t want to poach on Don McCleary’s turf, but  the following shouldn’t be passed up.   It’s from Whispers in the Loggia, a blog by Rocco Palmo that relates inside happenings in the Church hierarchy.   This is from his post 22nd October, 2017.

“In an extraordinary rebuke to one of his own Curial cardinals, the Pope has aimed to ‘explain simply, and hopefully clearly… some errors’ in his Worship chief’s understanding of Magnum Principium, his recent motu proprio on liturgical translations, indicating the new norms granting enhanced oversight to bishops’ conferences as a fresh development – and, most pointedly, declaring several key pieces of the operative rules in 2001’s Liturgiam authenticam ‘abrogated./

A year since Francis’ last open clash with his top liturgical aide, a personal letter from the pontiff to the CDW prefect Cardinal Robert Sarah (above, ad orientem), dated 15 October, was published this morning by the Italian outlet La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana and subsequently confirmed by the Holy See Press Office, then placed on the Italian homepage of Vatican Radio. (Ironically enough, even as this Ordinary Sunday takes precedence, today marks the feast of St John Paul II, under whose authority LA was promulgated.)

Noting that a lengthy, widely-circulated commentary published under Sarah’s signature earlier this month stated that LA remains ‘the authoritative text concerning liturgical translations,’ the Pope responded by relating that paragraphs 79-84 of the 2001 norms – those which deal precisely with the requirement for a vernacular rendering’s recognitio by Rome – were now abolished, going on to note that Magnum no longer upholds that translations must conform on all points with the norms of Liturgiam authenticam, as was the case in the past.’ “

See here for the  rest.   I am a great admirer of Cardinal Sarah, and I don’t know what to say about this.

12

Catholic Ethics, the Trolley Car Problem and Driverless Cars

Oh, I hate the cheap severity of abstract ethics.”  – Oscar Wilde

A recent exchange of comments on Don McClarey’s post, “How Many Lights“, put me in mind of that famous problem in ethics, “The Trolley Problem”, (illustrated in the featured image), and what Catholic teaching on ethics might have to say about it.    Here’s the problem–there are many variations; see the linked article:

A trolley car with defective brakes is heading down a track on which five people are standing;  you can throw a switch to deflect the trolley onto a side track on which only one person is standing;  if you throw the switch, one person will be killed; if you don’t, five people will be killed.   (This ignores an obvious solution – yell to the five people, “Hey you dolts, get off the track” – but then where would this discussion go?)    You might say choose the lesser evil, where only one person is killed.  But suppose that one person is a brilliant teen ager, a 17 year old grad student in molecular biology, and the five on the main track are convicted killers, working on a chain gang.    Or should you put everything in the hands of God and pray that he sends a lightning bolt to destroy the trolley car?

What does Catholic ethical teaching have to say about this problem?   If you do a web search, “lesser evil  Catholic Catechism”, you’ll get a number of references, many of them on examination, unsound.   Why?  The point here is that choosing a lesser evil is not justified by Catholic morality;  one cannot use a “the ends justify the means” argument to justify doing an evil act.    How do you find a way to act in the real world, where choices aren’t clear-cut?

A guide for the perplexed in these situations is the “double effect” principle, first proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas (CCC 2263).  This principle differs in subtle but important ways from the notion of choosing the lesser of several evils.    George Weigel gives an excellent overview here: I’ll excerpt his quote from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadephia:

“The principle of double effect in the Church’s moral tradition teaches that one may perform a good action even if it is foreseen that a bad effect will arise only if four conditions are met: 1) The act itself must be good. 2) The only thing that one can intend is the good act, not the foreseen but unintended bad effect. 3) The good effect cannot arise from the bad effect; otherwise, one would do evil to achieve good. 4) The unintended but foreseen bad effect cannot be disproportionate to the good being performed.”

How does the double effect principle apply to the trolley problem?   Let’s examine the two alternatives, throwing the switch and not throwing the switch,  taking into account the four conditions stipulated by the Bioethics Center.

  • First, if you throw the switch or don’t throw the switch, is that act in itself, good or bad? In this case, unlike the surgical example given in Weigel’s article, the act in itself has no moral status;  the only good or bad will come from the consequences, and as I suggested above, that can only be known from knowing more about the situation than the relative number of people on the two tracks.
  • Second, it’s obvious that if you throw the switch, you intend good–your intention isn’t to kill the one person on the side track;  likewise, if you don’t throw the switch, you don’t intend to kill the five people on the main track, but rather to save the one person on the side track.
  • Third, killing one person on the side track is not the direct cause of saving the five on the main track, nor is killing five people on the main track (if the switch is not pulled) the direct cause of killing one person on the side track.
  • Fourth, the disproportionateness (if this be a word) of either pulling or not pulling the switch can not be assessed until more is known about all the people involved.   And that becomes quite a tricky and messy business, verging on that bad mode of ethical analysis, utilitarianism.

So, it seems the double effect principle doesn’t help us that much in finding an answer to the trolley problem unless we know more about what’s going on.

Let’s turn to another thought experiment, more in keeping with our present times, the problem of the driverless car.  Let’s imagine the following situation: a driverless car is going down a steep hill;  on either side of the road are steep drop-offs, with very flimsy guard rails;   at the bottom of the hill is a school crossing on which a line of school children are passing;  the brakes of the driverless car fail and it starts to accelerate down the hill toward the  school children.

Let’s add two more alternative conditions to our thought experiment: 1) there’s no passenger in the driverless car; 2) the car has a passenger in it    Let’s consider the first condition and the implied precondition:  the driverless car does what  its computer program tells it to do.    I’m also going to assume that any AI (Artificial Intelligence) device that is not  a passive instrument will be set up to follow Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

–Isaac Asimov, Runaround.

Clearly, the Robotic Laws would require the driverless car to drive off the edge of the road and possibly destroy itself, violating the third law, but obeying the first two.  We haven’t had to consider the double effect principle, because the Three Laws of Robotics (or their software equivalent) have dealt with the situation.

Now let’s consider the second condition, that there is a passenger in the car.    Let’s also assume that the passenger can not override the car’s program instructions.   What should the program do in this case, which is essentially the trolley problem in a different guise.   As in the trolley problem, it’s not clear how the double effect principle might be applied.

Finally, let’s assume that the passenger can override the program and drive the car.   Recall the brakes don’t work.   There are side barriers, but they are weak.   Possibly a driver might try skidding on the side barriers to slow the car down, but if that didn’t work, should he/she try to drive over the cliff, in effect commit suicide?   Suicide is a sin, but he/she isn’t intending to kill himself/herself.

The act of driving the car off the road is either good (avoiding killing the children below) or neutral, so condition 1) of the double effect principle applies;  the only intended thing is to save the children, so condition 2) holds;  not killing the children is not a direct consequence of  the driver being killed–the latter is an unintended byproduct of the car going over the cliff, so condition 3) applies;  condition 4), the intended good is proportionately greater than the evil–we can invoke, as in the sinking Titanic, women and children in the lifeboats first.  So, all four conditions for the double effect principle apply,  if driving off the road and over the cliff is the only way the driver can avoid hitting the children.  We can further complicate this thought experiment by adding in more passengers, including a pregnant woman.   I’ll leave the analysis of that to the reader.

Let me ask you, dear reader, do you think it will be possible to program ethical principles, including that for the double effect, into AI devices?  I don’t.

 

 

9

Let’s Make the Liturgy Beautiful*

“The liturgy, as the worship which the Holy Spirit has given His Church, always requires beauty in its celebrations.”
—Bishop Robert Morlino, Diocese of Madison Catholic Herald

“The beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth.”
—Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis #35

BISHOP ROBERT MORLINO’S VISION OF LITURGICAL BEAUTY

We need beauty to help us celebrate the Mass. This is what Bishop Robert Morlino said in an address to St. Thomas More Parish, Scranton, September 6th (“Beauty in the Liturgy as an Aid to Evangelization”). In his published commentaries on beauty in the liturgy (see here and here), Bishop Morlino argues that Beauty, Truth and the Good are one, that we need them in the liturgy to ennoble us. That beauty must be such as “to envoke the correct sacramental attitude of reverence”.

To achieve this, Bishop Morlino has followed through on Cardinal Sarah’s appeal and required the congregation AND priests in his diocese to engage in worship ad orientem, facing the “liturgical east”—towards the apse. He is also requesting that in the near future, communicants will receive the host on the tongue, kneeling, to manifest the proper reverence in receiving the body of our Lord.

In his address, Bishop Morlino enlarged on his vision of the liturgically beautiful: beauty does not lie in the eye of the beholder; it is not a matter of majority opinion; that which is beautiful must also be true. With respect to this last criterion, there are hymns that fall short. In his April 2011 commentary, Bishop Morlino gives as an example the lyrics of “All are Welcome”:

“…All are welcome at the liturgy who truly seek salvation in and through Jesus Christ, by following God’s Will, as spelled out through His Son’s very Body, the Church. People who have little interest in doing God’s Will don’t fit at the liturgy… Thus the song, “All Are Welcome,” gives an impression that the choice for the Will of Jesus Christ, as it comes to us through the Church, makes no difference; and nothing could be further from the truth. It could therefore be concluded that the song, “All are Welcome,” is not beautiful so as to be appropriate-for-liturgical-use. Being true is necessary before anything can be beautiful.” [emphasis added]

BEAUTY IN THE ANGLICAN USAGE LITURGY

It was particularly appropriate for Bishop Morlino to talk on beauty in the liturgy at an anniversary celebration of St. Thomas More Parish.  This Parish is part  of The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter**,  essentially a diocese (spread through the United States and Canada). established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 to accommodate former Anglicans and Episcopalians who, as individuals, priests and congregations, have swum the Tiber and become Catholic

My wife and I attend Mass and evensong at St. Thomas More as often as we can (it’s a two hour drive). The Anglican Usage liturgy is part of the Roman Rite, but has  important differences in language,  being based in part on the  “Book of Common Prayer”, written by masters of the English Language from Elizabethan times and later.    I quote from the “Questions and Answers” Ordinariate site linked above

The mission of the Ordinariate is particularly experienced in the reverence and beauty of our liturgy[emphasis added] which features Anglican traditions of worship while conforming to Catholic doctrinal, sacramental and liturgical standards. [emphasis added]   Through Divine Worship: The Missal — the liturgy that unites the Ordinariates throughout the English-speaking world — we share our distinctive commitment to praising God in the eloquence of the Anglican liturgical patrimony and Prayer Book English. “

The language, including all the “thee’s” and “thou’s”,  is beautiful and a reminder of  our heritage.   (Unlike the prescriptions of some present day Catholic liturgists, there is no attempt to debase the English language by subscribing  to politically correct gender neutrality and inclusiveness.)   There is also frequent and appropriate use of Latin, again as a reminder of the Church’s heritage as the Church of Rome.

The music is without guitars and drums, using hymns from the English Hymnal (as compiled by Ralph Vaughan Williams). Communion is given on the tongue, kneeling at the altar rail, with the Host distributed by the priest with intinction in the Precious Blood. After this Mass, I feel that Bishop Morlino’s goal has been achieved:

[The Mass] must be nothing less than beautiful, reflecting the perfect beauty, unity, truth, and goodness of the object of our worship and adoration Themselves, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
—Bishop Robert Morlino, Madison Catholic Herald, Oct. 20, 2011.

*Part of this post has been published in the New Liturgical Movement Blog, September 29th, with author credit given as Gregory DiPippo, who adapted it from a piece I submitted to him.  It won’t hurt to give it more exposure.

23

Catholics, Libs & Trads; Climate Skeptics & Warmists; Political Left, Right & Trumpists
Let’s do Rational, Gracious Dialogue

“Faith and Reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which it soars to the truth.”–Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio

INTRODUCTION

Harsh words, heat but not much light in internet discourse recently.    Catholic Liberals versus Catholic Traditionalists (Jesuits vs Benedictines?), climate skeptics versus climate warmists, leftists–near and far–versus conservatives versus trumpists (trumpkins?).   I know which of these sides I’m on (and if you’ve been reading my blog posts you should too, dear reader).    But even though I know in principle how I should write and should not, I don’t always follow through.   Rather than telling how other people have transgressed the rules of gracious discourse, I’m going to focus on my own experience, my own missteps, since I know what’s in my heart (most of the time), but don’t for others.

MY OWN POPE WATCH

After Pope Francis delivered his second encyclical,  I wrote two posts: “Laudato Si, ‘The Curate’s Egg’: I.  The Excellent Parts”  and “Laudato Si, The Curate’s Egg’: II. The Political/Economic Parts I Find Difficult to Swallow.”   The first praised the arguments of Pope Francis that everyone should be less materialistic and be more devoted to being stewards of God’s creation.   In the second I argued against Pope Francis’s call for supranational organizations to supervise environment and economics and his endorsement of a hypothesis, anthropic global warming (AGW), that was unproven, indeed disproven by data and analysis  (see here and here, for example).

My two posts (which I had been working on for the previous month) were partially a response  to an article that had appeared several weeks earlier on Catholic Stand. “Pope Francis Has Single-handedly Destroyed Catholicism AGAIN (sic).   I initially commented  on this post that the Pope’s Encyclical was divisive and that his remarks on AGW were like an inkstain from a leaking pen on a shirt pocket, they destroyed the whole intent of the Encyclical.   An exchange of comments ensued between me and the author of the article, an exchange which ended up with the author accusing me of insulting and disrespecting Pope Francis.  I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, if you want to follow through and see if that accusation was warranted.   (Order the comments by “oldest”;  my moniker is “duhem”;  the author’s is “JoAnna”.)

I was not without fault in the exchange, but my problem–which I try to correct–is that I don’t suffer fools gladly.  I should try to see the passion and belief of the other in the dialog and speak to that.   I did leave Catholic Stand as a columnist, but rejoined a month or so ago, absent an apology from JoAnna.  After reviewing the dialog between me and JoAnna–if it deserves to be called a dialog–I continue to wonder it was right to return.  It’s still pains me to reread them.

POLITICS

And of course, there are the gracious comments of intellectual substance on political and news posts.   I’ll not list such in detail, but go to Lucianne.com or National Review Online and read comments by Leftists, Liberals and Trump supporters and all those others who don’t think like me.   I should add that in 2015 I was allowed to comment on Lucianne.com, but then was barred because of my comments on posts by Trump supporters.   And that doesn’t bother me.

Any suggestions, dear reader, for making comments more gracious, more seeking to find the truth?    And do they apply to this post or this blog?

CODA (added later)

 What bothers me more than spiteful talk, is the reluctance of people to try to get at the truth of something.   Everyone seems to want to rest contented in their preconceptions without stretching their horizons.   As for me, before 1991 I was a firm believer in anthropic global warming and its dire consequences.   Then I read articles by Richard Lindzen, chaired professor of meteorology at MIT, Fred Singer, physicist and environmental scientist, and Frederick Seitz, past President of the National Academy of Sciences, and I changed my mind.   Before 1994 I was an agnostic secular Jew, but then I read “Who Moved the Stone”, by Frank Morison, and I was convinced that the Resurrection of Christ was real, and if that was true, so was the rest of the New Testament, including the giving of the keys of the Kingdom to Peter by Jesus.  And so, Top Down to Jesus, I became a Catechumen and was baptized into the Church.

9

2017 Nobel Prize for Heretical Economics

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Richard Thaler, University of Chicago (they do seem to get a lot of Economics Nobel Prizes) for his work blending psychology with the dismal science, economics.    I quote from the article in the Hill:

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences went to Richard Thaler on Monday to honor his scholarly heresy. His work challenges the central principle of modern economics — the assumption that people are rational…

 

The rationality assumption has a specific meaning to economists: People can make choices, and those choices are mutually consistent. If John prefers an apple to a pear and a pear to an orange, then he also prefers an apple to an orange. With many twists on this theme, this definition of rationality has given economics coherence, rigor and humanity… 

 

Thaler and his behavioralist colleagues, though, correctly note that people are often far from rational, in ways that are essential to understanding human society. For example, rationality implies that more choices are better, but too many menu choices can paralyze diners. Too many investment options can deter people from making financial decisions….

 

Thaler has written on the “winner’s curse” — the observation that those who win auctions are often those who most overvalue the purchase. Sometimes, our choices are mutually inconsistent, or we change our minds erratically. Mainstream economists understand this but find it useful to leave such observations to psychologists and others…

 

But Thaler and crew argue that in certain areas of human behavior.. irrational people can be rather alike, after all. Their irrationality can be consistent and predictable. By exploring these realms, behavioralists find insights where standard economics never sheds light.

–Robert Graboyes, “The Hill” 10/11/2017

One neat application of Thaler’s psychological pruning of economic theory is illustrated in the featured image, “The fly in the urinal”, (from  Schiphol Airport Holland).   The image of a fly was etched into the urinal to reduce spillage and thereby reduce cleaning cost;  it was an eminently successful maneuver, reducing spillage by 80% and cleaning costs by 8%.  (The idea is to give males something to aim at;  I’m going to suggest this to the Principal of our parish parochial school, to improve the boy’s bathroom sanitation.) Thaler  and Sunstein used this in their book  “Nudge: Improving Decisions on Health, Wealth and Happiness”  as an example of a way to promote behavior without regulation or punishment,  what some have called “libertarian paternalism”.

And it isn’t great to see something sensible and useful  acknowledged with a Nobel?

A Mass for Firefighters

“When I am called to duty, God, wherever flames may rage,
Give me strength to save some life whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child before it’s too late,
Or an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and effectively put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and give the best in me,
To guard my neighbor and protect his property.
And if, according to Your will, I have to lose my life,
Please bless with Your protecting hand my children and my wife.
Amen.
Fireman’s Prayer, given at the beginning of Mass, 8 October, 2017.

 

Last Sunday, October 8th, the 10:30 Mass at my parish was celebrated in honor of First Responders, especially Firefighters. A Firetruck from the local volunteer fire company (“The Washies”) was drawn up in front of our church, and about 20 volunteers, in full dress uniform, men and women, took part in the Mass. They precessed in to the accompaniment of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, two by two, carrying flags and stood at attention while the Chief read the Fireman’s Prayer quoted above. At the end of intercessions, a roll call of deceased firefighters was read, with a fire-bell tolling for each name—very moving.
They recessed out, again two by two, to the accompaniment of Amazing Grace.

Our Pastor took note of their contribution to the community, and as part of his homily suggested that we Catholics engage with the world by volunteering. He noted the sacrifice that First Responder volunteers made, and as he talked the admonition of Our Lord came to mind:

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
—John 15:13

It’s true. A month earlier, the sacrifice of the First Responders on 9/11 was remembered. These public servants—firefighters, police, emergency medical teams—deserve our gratitude and our prayers. There’s little enough we can do to reward their devotion and sacrifice.

15

Lapsed Catholics–Reflections on a Hospital Census

“I was raised – and still consider myself to be – Catholic, though I’m non-practicing and haven’t fulfilled my Easter duty since sometime during the Nixon years. I’m assailed by all kinds of stimulating doubts, but I do believe in God.”
— Thomas Mallon, American Novelist.

What’s the largest religious denomination in the US?  Lapsed Catholic!  (The title of this piece should have given you a hint.)   I can’t find the reference, but I’ve read that about 20% of those with a nominal religious faith are lapsed Catholics.   A recent Pew survey states that six Catholics leave the Church for every new convert entering at Easter,  which–given the birth rate for Catholics–means that the Catholic population is declining at a rapid rate.

These statistics come to mind every time I do  my volunteer stint as an aide to the Catholic Chaplain at the local hospital. At first  (1998), I was both a Eucharistic Minister (to be correct, EOMHC) giving Holy Communion to patients and a clerk, preparing 3×5 cards with patient information for the priest and other Eucharistic Ministers. After my legs, wind and energy gave out in 2011, I’ve only done the clerical work.

In order that the Catholic Chaplain might have patient information for his rounds, I convinced the IT people at the hospital to prepare a special census of Catholic patients, giving admission date, their age, marital status, home town, and of course, their hospital room location. The cards are filled out by the priest or EOMHC with the date of visit, whether the patient is a practicing Catholic, and whether he/she has received or is able to receive Holy Communion.  There is one other datum that goes on this census—a HIPAA privacy stipulation, “No Religion”, if the patient does not want to be visited by a hospital chaplain, Catholic or otherwise.    There is a general hospital census that gives patient names, hospital location and religious affiliation.  The religious categories include the Jewish, Muslim, the Protestant denominations, Roman Catholic, Byzantine Catholic, the various Orthodox denominations and even some off-the-shelf ones–WICCA, American Indian–as well as “none”, “no religious preference”.

The hospital is in a region of Pennsylvania that used to be called “coal country”.    There are many small towns–“patches”, remnants of coal company  towns–perched in the Appalachian hills and mountains.   Nowadays one is more likely to see the monstrous windmills on top of hills, rather than the culms–piles of leftover coal tailings.   The miners were immigrants–Polish, South Slavs, Irish, italians–so they were predominantly Catholic, Byzantine Catholic, or Orthodox.   In these towns there used to be a Catholic Church for each ethnicity–Italian, German, Polish, Irish–but with population decline, younger people leaving and consolidation of parishes, that is no longer the case.   Nevertheless, the plurality of patients are nominally Catholic, and since it is more likely for old people to be in a hospital than younger, there are many more older Catholics than younger (less than 40 years) on the Catholic census.

Now, I’m not going to attempt a statistical analysis of my recollections–after all, didn’t Mark Twain (or was it Disraeli?) say “There are lies, damn lies and statistics”?     But if you, dear reader, are willing to accept anecdotal musings, then please bear with me.    What I do recall is that the proportion of practicing Catholics, those who are properly disposed to receive Holy Communion, has decreased from a majority (60%?) in 1998-2001 to about 1/3 currently.   In the critical care units, there are some who do not want to be anointed–perhaps they’re thinking it’s “Last Rites”–and a few, even in the face of dying, who do not want to see a priest.   The number of divorced Catholics has correspondingly increased and the proportion of unmarried mothers has increased from about 1/4 to  almost 1/2 (and thank God, they are there, that the babies will not have been aborted).   The proportion of those who call themselves Catholic but don’t want visits from a priest or EOMHC has also increased.   However, not all of those who have the HIPAA designation really intend it to be so.   Some of those with a HIPAA designation request a visit by a priest or to receive Holy Communion, so it may be that they are confused in the Admissions interview

Do these qualitative impressions suggest that the Church is moribund here?  Are the statistics of the Pew Report confirmed?   One might almost think so, but then that impression is belied by what I see at Mass:  many old people (most of whom are younger than me), but also lots of young families with many, many children.    I think the outer dead skin of lukewarm believers has sloughed off, to leave a healthy, vibrant limb of the faithful.   And please God, let it remain so in these troubled times.

 

4

The Physics Nobel Prize–All about Wrinkles in Space

The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Rainier Weiss, Kip Thorne and  Barry Barish for their work on detecting gravitational waves, “wrinkles in space”.    For a detailed account of the award to these old guys (they, like me, are over 80, but that’s the only similarity) see here.   For a fuller account of LIGO, the super piece of work that detected the gravitational waves, see my post “Peeling Back the Onion Layers:  Gravitational Waves Detected”.    And, finally let me add, it takes a heap of money and talent to do this sort of super-science.   But it’s worth it–I can think of much less desirable stuff to which we should devote our resources.

6

Sunrise, Sunset–Circadian Rhythms and a Nobel Prize

“(Men)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

(Women)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
“Sunrise, Sunset”, Fiddler on the Roof.

A well-deserved Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was awarded today (October 3rd, 2017) to Jeffrey Hall, Michael Roshbash and Michael Young for their research on how our biological clock works—how we know to go to sleep and to rise with a new day.

Their research was conducted on fruit flies—easily accessible, but with enough common to all animal life that generalizations could be made. (I recall my undergraduate days at Caltech in the genetics lab, retrieving etherized fruit-flies to determine their dominant and recessive characteristics.) They found that there was a gene present that encoded a protein, a protein that accumulates during sleep and degrades during the day, thus acting as a clock to establish the “circadian rhythm” for all animal life on this planet.

Rather than giving a detailed account of their research (see the press release announcing the award) I would like to use this as a springboard to comment on God’s Providence and evolution. One of the anthropic coincidences, the unlikely events that enable carbon based life to exist, is the rotation of the earth, the alternation of night and day that enables climate, a life supporting temperature to be present. And to accommodate to that, there is a cycle for life.

Could life exist and not follow that cycle? There’s a wonderful science fiction trilogy by Nancy Kress, Beggars in Spain, about genetically modified humans who don’t need to sleep and become supermen. But is that possible? Isn’t sleep, “that knits up the raveled sleave of care”, a gift from God? I’ve wondered, do angels sleep, will we sleep in heaven, or will the fact of time be swept away by eternity, so that sleep and circadian rhythms become irrelevant?

Well, I hope I will  find the answer to that question in heaven.

8

A Plea for Charity

 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;Matt 5:44

I have been much disturbed by the level of hate displayed on the internet, and even in some of the comments about Amoris Laetitia and the Filial Correction letter..    The Left diplays a level of hate and lack of charity that would do credit to a novel by C.S. Lewis: see the report on the CBS lawyer fired for her comments about the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.   But we don’t have to emulate that.   Pope Francis may be confused, or lack rigor in his theological pronouncements, but we have to assume his motives, possibly misguided, are meant to do good.   Let’s take Christ’s command in Matthew 5 to heart.   I’ll add that I’ve been guilty myself and will try to do better.

4

Another Comment about the “Filial Correction” Letter

Here is one of the better comments I’ve read about the “Filial Correction Letter”.   It analyzes in detail why there are heresies in Amoris Laetitia concerning reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried persons.   It all stems from the elastic, casuistical, Jesuitical interpretation of Catholic doctrine stated in the Encyclical.   And the author is not optimistic about “Filial Correction” having an effect on Pope Francis and his followers.   So, as the author suggests, we have to pray that Jesus Christ, the bridegroom of the Church, intervenes.

17

Pope Francis Responds (?) to Criticisms of Amoris Laetitia

In an interview from La Civilta Cattolica quoted in the blog Whispers in the Loggia, Pope Francis says, as I near as I understand, that we have to go beyond theology and Thomism–they’re not that useful nowadays.    He also says that the morality of Amoris Laetitia is Thomist.  (Is there a contradiction here?)   I don’t see that, but then I’m not a theologian nor a philosopher.   Here’s the quote–judge for yourself.

Fr. Vicente Durán Casas stands to ask another question: “Holy Father, again thank you for your visit. I teach philosophy and I would like to know, and I speak for my teaching colleagues in theology too, what do you expect from philosophical and theological reflection in a country such as ours and in the Church generally?”

[Pope:] To start, I’d say let’s not have laboratory reflection. We’ve seen what damage occurred when the great and brilliant Thomist scholastics deteriorated, falling down, down, down to a manualistic scholasticism without life, mere ideas that transformed into a casuistic pastoral approach. At least, in our day we were formed that way… I’d say it was quite ridiculous how, to explain metaphysical continuity, the philosopher Losada spoke of puncta inflata [Ed. “an inflated point”]… To demonstrate some ideas, things got ridiculous. He was a good philosopher, but decadent, he didn’t become famous…

So, philosophy not in a laboratory, but in life, in dialogue with reality. In dialogue with reality, philosophers will find the three transcendentals that constitute unity, but they will have a real name. Recall the words of our great writer Dostoyevsky. Like him we must reflect on which beauty will save us, on goodness, on truth. Benedict XVI spoke of truth as an encounter, that is to say no longer a classification, but a road. Always in dialogue with reality, for you cannot do philosophy with a logarithmic table. Besides, nobody uses them anymore.

The same is true for theology, but this does not mean to corrupt theology, depriving it of its purity. Quite the opposite. The theology of Jesus was the most real thing of all; it began with reality and rose up to the Father. It began with a seed, a parable, a fact… and explained them. Jesus wanted to make a deep theology and the great reality is the Lord. I like to repeat that to be a good theologian, together with study you have to be dedicated, awake and seize hold of reality; and you need to reflect on all of this on your knees.

A man who does not pray, a woman who does not pray, cannot be a theologian. They might be a living form of Denzinger, they might know every possible existing doctrine, but they’ll not be doing theology. They’ll be a compendium or a manual containing everything. But today it is a matter of how you express God, how you tell who God is, how you show the Spirit, the wounds of Christ, the mystery of Christ, starting with the Letter to the Philippians 2:7…. How you explain these mysteries and keep explaining them, and how you are teaching the encounter that is grace. As when you read Paul in the Letter to the Romans where there’s the entire mystery of grace and you want to explain it.

I’ll use this question to say something else that I believe should be said out of justice, and also out of charity. In fact I hear many comments – they are respectable for they come from children of God, but wrong – concerning the post-synod apostolic exhortation. To understand Amoris Laetitia you need to read it from the start to the end. Beginning with the first chapter, and to continue to the second and then on … and reflect. And read what was said in the Synod.

A second thing: some maintain that there is no Catholic morality underlying Amoris Laetitia, or at least, no sure morality. I want to repeat clearly that the morality of Amoris Laetitia is Thomist, the morality of the great Thomas. You can speak of it with a great theologian, one of the best today and one of the most mature, Cardinal Schönborn.

I want to say this so that you can help those who believe that morality is purely casuistic. Help them understand that the great Thomas possesses the greatest richness, which is still able to inspire us today. But on your knees, always on your knees….

11

Feral Cats and My Welfare State

Two years ago in a very harsh winter I set out food for three feral cats that hung around our garage across the road.  We set out a dish of dry food inside the garage and replenished it once a day during the winter.   It was a humanitarian act, I thought, and I figured that cats would earn their keep by keeping the area free from rodents.   Well, like many acts of kindness, there were unintended consequences.    The cats found a sheltered space underneath our porch which became their pied-a-terre ,  a nursery for kitten litters and an irritation for our terrier who knew something bad was happening there but couldn’t get in to get at that nasty cat smell.

And so,  as with most welfare programs, things progressed from a charitable act to a burdensome requirement.    When the first summer came I thought I would stop the handout and let the Darwinian ethos take over, the survival of the fittest.   Alas, there were kittens and my wife said “you can’t just let them starve”.    So we kept doling out dry food, the cheapest we could find in bulk.   Once when we were away for a three day holiday and hadn’t left enough food, we returned to find deep scratches on the car left behind and the garage torn up–amazing what tiny claws can do.

There are now (latest count) six adult cats of various hues and four kittens.   They are not friendly, but sit in front of the garage in the morning or across from the house, tormenting our terrier who can’t cross the invisible fence.  I believe we have drawn some immigrants from down the road who have got wind of the free lunch.    Now I know that we’re supposed to trap them and send them to the local animal shelter to be neutered and stop the feline population explosion.    Tell that to the cats who know a trap when they see it, however delightful the bait might be.    Moreover, my wife and I are in our 80’s and not in the best physical shape, so the act of trapping    possible in the ideal, is not feasible actually.

Any ideas?  Possibly this fall I will gird my moral loins and diminish the rations gradually.   Maybe they’ll go down to our neighbor, who keeps chickens.

24

Who speaks for science?

“We should not have people in office who do not believe in facts and truths and modern science…”–Leonard DiCaprio, Address at Yale University.

I have a better idea.   Rather than actors (who didn’t graduate high school, but did get a GED) pontificate about science, let’s require tests in basic science– the history of science, philosophy of science, and what science is all about–for all celebrities and politicians who choose to speak about science.   If they don’t pass, they shut up.

What say you, dear reader?

1

A Belated Shannah Tovah Umetukah (A Good and Sweet Year!)

I know, I’m a day and a half late.   So sue me!   Technically the Jewish New Year began Wednesday evening, 20th September at Sundown and ends Friday evening,  22nd September, at sundown.  (The custom is to have two days for each holiday since one isn’t really sure about the calendar.)

This is year 5778 since God created Adam and Eve, which is the beginning (we disregard the earlier 5 or 6 days).    And with that, Shannah Tovah Umetukah–have a good and sweet year!

24

How can I not be a Captive Audience?

TV everywhere, and not the TV of one’s choice!   Today I took my wife to a pain intervention clinic at our local medical center.  In the waiting room I was forced to listen to a tirade by Ellen deGeneris about Trump letting an 11 year old mow the White House lawn (plus much more liberal/left spouting).  I won’t mention all the other stupid things on the program–Megyn Kelly in a fat suit dancing through the audience.   There was no escape, nowhere to sit  where I didn’t have to look at her or listen to the audience wildly cheering every anti-Trump remark.  (Let me note:  By no means am I one of Trump’s biggest fans.)

I recalled another time, again when I was a captive audience, in a recovery room after a colonoscopy.   Appropriately enough for that occasion, I was forced to watch “The View”, and to listen to tirades by Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and other shrill, adenoidal voices grinding  their liberal axe.

How can we escape this?  In the pain clinic waiting room, I had to stay with my wife until she was called.    In the recovery room, the nurse refused to change the station, saying it was hospital policy that this was the channel to be shown and no other.

Any suggestions, other than to throw stones at the screen?    Or perhaps, I should get one of those noise cancelling earphones–pricey as they are–and take those to my next Doctor’s appointment.   But why should we have to do this?   Why should we be a captive audience?  Why, in a public setting, should we have to partake of what the Cultural Elite considers appropriate fare for the masses?

 

4

The Death of Cassini

There’s a beautiful article by Paul Greenberg on the death of Cassini, the Saturn explorer–I can’t add much to it, other than these few thoughts on AI (artificial intelligence).   Despite the intelligent and benevolent (sometimes) robots and androids of science fiction (Asimov’s, HAL 9000, etc.), no artificial intelligence could have written that self-obituary.   It is man who celebrates Psalm 19A, “The Heavens declare the glory of God” and only man.

 

34

The Lord’s Prayer–Sung, Chanted or Recited?

For the fifth Sunday in a row, the Lord’s Prayer at our Church’s Mass was sung, a version put out by the Notre Dame Folk Choir.   This cranky old physicist (with pretensions to musical and liturgical taste) finds the melody  banal, the whole song elevator music for liturgists,  and offputting from focused prayer.  I will dispute the argument that this is the sort of stuff that’s needed to bring young people into the Church.

The ICEL chant has beauty, dignity and supports a prayerful disposition.

And then of course there’s always the old standby, just praying the “Our Father”.

Maybe I am out of touch with what the modern liturgy should be, and should find a time machine to go back 60 years or so ago.   Let’s do a poll (even though the sampling for readers of this blog is not going to be unbiased).    Please comment on which version of the Lord’s Prayer you would prefer at Mass:

  1. the sung “Our Father” (Notre Dame Folk Choir version);
  2. the ICEL chant;
  3. spoken prayer

Thanks.

10

Wise Words from Cardinal Sarah

Some may object that I am paying too much attention to the small details, to the minutiae, of the Sacred Liturgy. But as every husband and wife knows, in any loving relationship the smallest details are highly important, for it is in and through them that love is expressed and lived day after day. The ‘little things’ in a marriage express and protect the greater realities. So too in the liturgy: when its small rituals become routine and are no longer acts of worship which give expression to the realities of my heart and soul, when I no longer care to attend to its details, when I could do more to prepare and to celebrate the liturgy more worthily, more beautifully, but no longer want to, there is a grave danger that my love of Almighty God is growing cold. We must beware of this. Our small acts of love for God in carefully attending to the liturgy’s demands are very important. If we discount them, if we dismiss them as mere fussy details, we may well find, as sometimes very tragically happens in a marriage, that we have ‘grown apart’ from Christ—almost without noticing.–Cardinal Robert Sarah, Talk: “Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy“, 14 September

Ipse Dixit.

15

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”–Lewis Carroll, Alice through the Looking-Glass

  1. Stephen Hawking, Sean Carroll, and Lawrence Krauss enter RCIA classes, preparatory to entering the Church.
  2. Madonna is admitted to a cloistered Carmelite Nunnery.
  3. Nancy Pelosi, Richard Durbin, Andrew Cuomo and several other Democrat politicians join a demonstration against abortion at a Planned Parenthood Clinic.
  4. President Trump cancels his Twitter account and engages in a two-week silent retreat.
  5. Pope Francis invites 10 “climate change deniers” to Castle Gandalfo, to tutor him on how science is done.
  6. Dear Reader:  you name the sixth.

 

24

Hello, my name is Bob, and I’m a climate change denier.

Pope Francis, in an interview to the press (9/11/17) opined that “Humanity will ‘go down’ if it does not address climate change”.   Now, despite the title of this post, I don’t deny that climate changes.   It has changed and will change.  There was the Medieval Warm Period, when the Viking colonized Greenland, and there have been glacial and inter-glacial changes.    I will deny that man-made production of CO2 has much to do with such climate change, and I’ve justified that in a number of blog posts (see here, for example), as have other scientists.

What concerns me is that the Church, in the person of the Vicar of Christ,  takes a  position on unsettled science;  and, despite some of Pope Francis’s statements–the verdict, in terms of model predictions being empirically justified, is not proven at all.

Let me go to a different case, where the science was more established.   Abbe LeMaitre (and the Russian mathematician Friedmann) had shown that Einstein’s General Relativity Field equation yielded  a time dependent solution with a singularity at the beginning of time, t=0, an expanding universe.  And lo, and behold, the galactic red shift relations shown by Hubble were in accord with that expanding universe.    And thus we knew about the “Big Bang”.    Supposedly Pope Pius XII wanted to use this science as evidence for the doctrine,  Creatio ex Nihilo, but was dissuaded from doing so by Abbe LeMaitre, who argued that science changes but faith does not.  (The incident is discussed in much greater detail here.)

My point is that the Church is not competent to judge whether science is good or bad, and science can not say whether Doctrine or Dogma are true or false.  The Church can certainly weigh in on the morality of  applications of science–for example, Designer Babies, fetal cell research–but it can’t and shouldn’t make judgments on what science is true and what is not.