Friday, June 9, 2017


A cardinal observed not too long ago that “Something very strange has happened in recent years: Christians have lost touch with heaven. Of the desire for heaven, our heavenly home, we hear hardly a word. It is as if Christians have lost the orientation that for centuries defined the direction of our journey. We have forgotten that we are pilgrims and that the goal of our pilgrimage is heaven. Connected with this is another loss: we largely lack the awareness that we are on a dangerous pilgrim path and it is possible for us to miss our goal. To put it bluntly, we do not long for heaven; we take it for granted that we will get there. This diagnosis may be exaggerated, but I am afraid it is essentially true.

If I could tell the good cardinal the reason for his astute observation can be traced directly to the unprecedented shift in the direction, theology and beauty of the Catholic Mass in the Ordinary Form as compromising Catholics' desire for heaven and having LOST THE ORIENTATION THAT FOR CENTURIES DEFINED THE DIRECTION OF OUR JOURNEY, I would show His Eminence these photos:

The first set of photos do absolutely nothing but contribute to the LOSS OF THE ORIENTATION THAT FOR CENTURIES DEFINED THE DIRECTION OF OUR JOURNEY:

 Whereas the loss of this orientation in the Mass below has led to “Something very strange having happened in recent years: Christians have lost touch with heaven. However when you look at the way Mass is celebrated today in the above pictures and what was abandoned in the below pictures, in actuality THERE IS NOTHING STRANGE ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN RECENT YEARS, CATHOLICS LOSING TOUCH WITH HEAVEN AND WHAT ORIENTED THEM TO IT!



Gene said...

It is because, for years, seminaries and grad schools have been turning out Priests who have swallowed the form criticism, redaction criticism, and New Hermeneutic, literally, as Gospel. They don't believe the articles of the Creed, probably do not believe in God other than as some kind of Aristotelian Prime Mover or other philosophical First Principle. They certainly do not believe that Jesus got up bodily and walked out of the tomb or that He will return and that Final Judgement, Heaven and Hell are realities. Their entire ministry is conducted tongue-in-cheek, and we never know if they are lying or not about what they believe. Most couldn't care less about Liturgy other than as some form of their own self-expression or as some kind of aesthetic experience or self-stimulatory behavior. The Church, to them, is a great big social organization that should support Leftist causes and be nice. The current Pope is one of them and they love him.

Carol H. said...

The photo of the Catholic Buzz Lightyear had me laughing out loud!

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time . . . The Coke Company abruptly dropped classic Old Coke and replaced it with sticky sweet New Coke. In some markets 88% quit buying Cokes. Only the 12% that actually preferred sticky sweet continued to buy New Cokes.

It was clear to all that changing to New Coke had been a disastrous mistake. But Coke Co. executives argued they could not change back to Old Coke, because their remaining customer base (the 12%) actually preferred the sticky sweet New Coke now, and would not accept Old Coke instead.

So they contented themselves with their devastated market, 12% of what it had been, rather than change the bulk of production back to classic Old Coke and attempt to rebuild demand for The Real Thing with aggressive marketing.

What’s wrong with this story?

ByzRus said...

Father - I think most who read and post here would agree that it's a no-brainer. Some of the photos are sad, others border on silliness. There is no question the photo of you at your old parish is our glimpse into heaven. By comparison, some of the other photos are a circular glimpse at man. At such point that the institution again embraces its tradition, perhaps those pictures and the points provided by Gene will fade into memory. Until then....status quo....

Anonymous said...

A simple observation: some of those N.O. "Spirit of Vatican 2" new age photos you posted look more Wiccan than Catholic. Wiccan is a fast growing religion. I hope the TLM returns

Rood Screen said...


You're doing math, which is the sensible thing to do. But the driving force here is not numbers, but clericalism. The almost universal distortion of liturgy, catechesis and works of mercy has changed these things into the worship of priests. When a priest says Mass today, his personality touches the congregation and turns their hearts towards the priest, which the priest enjoys. When a priest alters doctrine to please his audience, the priest enjoys the praise he receives for telling his lies. And when a priest--a pope even--serves the poor and afflicted in very public and publicized ways, the priest very much enjoys the adulation which follows. Christ becomes a mere analogy for himself. Souls be damned as the priest takes a bow before his adoring fans.

The Modern priest is a god. No god ever willingly surrenders his divinity.

Gene said...

Well put, Dialogue. Karl Barth, the most prominent and influential 20th century protestant theologian who engaged in much serious dialogue with Catholic theologians (most notably Ratzinger, von Balthassar, and Kung, said that proper theology and preaching are
embodied in the second panel of the Isenheim Altarpiece tryptich, painted by Hans Grunewald. It is the Crucifixion, with a tortured and bloody Christ hanging from the Cross, his dead weight causing the arms of the cross to sag. Beside him is a gaunt and haunting John the Baptist, "his prodigious index finger pointing to Christ on the Cross. In that John the Baptist is all that theology and preaching should be." This kind of thinking has long disappeared from most preaching, whether protestant or Catholic.
When you toss out all the nonsense...Vatican II, stupid hymns, self-satisfied faux Priests and apostate seminary professors, feel-good sermons and maudlin, condescending protestant is about saving souls. It is about where people are going to spend eternity. When is the last time you heard a sermon about that...a sermon which was actually preached to frighten and convict sinners and get them to confess their sins and follow Christ? I want to hear sermons that cause people to run to the Confessional or down the aisle of a protestant Church, knocking people out of the way in their desperation to be freed from the burden of their sin and safe in the assurance of their eternal salvation. Nobody gives a damn about Social Gospel or living "authentically" in some existential self-epiphany. Nobody gives a damn about a Jesus who was the bastard son of some girl named Mary and whose bones are still mouldering out there in the desert somewhere. And, it is for copulating certain that nobody gives a damn about the New Hermeneutic. I sure don't and I studied all that crap for years.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

The changes of Vatican II took place when I was about 9 years old. I received my First Holy Communion and first Confession under the old rites. I learned the Baltimore Catechism up to the third grade.

You all know what it's been like since, and how bad it got in the '70's and '80's (when I was a teen and young adult). I had to really fight to figure out Church doctrine, and educate myself over the years by reading mostly pre-Vatican II books. I still feel like I have major deficits in understanding our Faith. I know I don't have the solid understanding my parents' generation had, even though many didn't even finish high school.

Just a few weeks ago I realized in the most literal way that I am never going to die. Now, I have known all my life I have an "immortal soul" and I believed in eternal life all my life, but just now I realized as never before that I am eternal. Who I am will never die. And I also saw more clearly than ever before I will either spend eternity in heaven, with God, or in hell, with demons. But no matter which it is, I will always exist.

Isn't this a foundational truth of our Faith? Isn't this why preachers poured out fire and brimstone every Sunday, to make sure people understood, 1) you are not going to be annihilated and just go into oblivion when your body dies, 2) God is just, and you will get your due, down to the last farthing, 3) no one is without sin before God, 4) without confession and absolution, you're in deep doo doo.

I know many people now days who believe God is so loving and kind, He's just going to welcome everybody and everyone is going to heaven. This is absolutely contrary to many things Jesus actually preached, but I guess it's consistent with the "God is love" and the minimization if not denial of sin that happened after Vatican II. I would hate to be the priests responsible for that.

Just today I was scandalized by an article about Cardinal Cupich, the cardinal of my own archdiocese, who made statements saying we must adopt an "adult spirituality" where we ourselves "discern what is true."

"Cupich explained...that an adult spirituality means “being able to, in some way, realize that you have the grace by God to discern truth in your life in terms of where the Lord is calling you to the next step. It does put the responsibility on each individual, rather than an outside authority telling people what to do, as though they were children.”

Nice, huh? Channeling Joseph Cardinal Bernardin perhaps?

Ei yi yie.

God bless,

George said...

As Catholics, our hope is in the Resurrection, but it is in the Cross with Christ hanging on it that is our Faith. This is the indispensable Hermeneutic to be applied to arrive at true knowledge and understanding of our God.

The Mystical Body of Christ in its faithful members must at times endure scourgings, the crown of thorns, and the cross. Christ suffered all these and more for our benefit. He brought great profit out of great adversity so that we could bring profit out of our own adversity. God has given value to our own tribulations and sufferings so that we do not suffer in vain and without merit. Christ's Suffering and Death filled the Divine Treasury with inestimable value and wealth. The deposit in this Treasury of Grace is applied and paired with our own suffering to give it redemptive and salvific value. God,who in His Divine plan has given us a share in His Creative Power has likewise given us a share and role in His work of redemption.We are called to imitate Christ as members of His Mystical Body in part by uniting our sufferings with His, and in doing so, we participate in redemption solely by virtue of the merits of His own.

By the one Cross and one Death was mankind redeemed. It is by this one Cross and the one Death, and the merits which flow from this Sacrificial offering, that human society, so much in need of redemption, is ever preserved from its own destruction. By the one Cross does redemption come to man continuously down through the ages. It is by the one Sacrifice of the Holy Cross that God's Love and Mercy is made manifest in every time and place to the benefit of our salvation. It is through the merits of the Holy Cross that value is imparted to our own sufferings and death.

Jesus said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mk 8:34).

"I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God" (Gal 2:19-20).

The good Lord will give you grace and his Holy Spirit and he will bless your humility; but I wish you would learn to love the cross with all your heart, in whatever form or manner it comes.
- Blessed Maria Teresa of Saint Joseph (1855-1938)

"Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven."
— St. Rose of Lima

ByzRus said...


I grew up during the 70s 80s and my formation was about laughable. If not for my grandmother and Slavic heritage, I probably would not be practicing today. Fortunately, as her church didn't turn the altar around until almost 1980, I was exposed to a traditional style of liturgy and ad oriented at an early age. To say I was mesmerized is an understatement. Fortunately, like you, I too had great moments of independent discovery about our faith. At this point in my life, I can confidently say that all that I mentioned will sustain me through turbulent papacies and any other scandalous behaviors and teachings I might encounter.

Thank you for sharing.

George said...

What is it that is lacking in people nowadays and even in believers themselves? It's the Cross, because in the Mystery of the Cross there is everything: there is faith, there is obedience--there is human pain, there is the way of glory.

- Blessed Dominic Lentini (1794-1828),

Through the Mercy and Goodness of God, something which in our human nature we find painful and unpleasant, becomes that which can produce great spiritual benefit. Who among us, even those of no faith, do not accept what is pleasant? We of faith however, practicing our belief, can accept even suffering as something which is spiritually useful.

Christians need not seek suffering, but when they are confronted with unavoidable suffering, it can become spiritually useful,if they unite their sufferings with the sufferings of Christ: "Christ ... Suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Pet 2:21).

The Catholic Church teaches that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one's sins or for the sins of another.

What human being can by his own efforts make any work that is performed, good and of useful spiritual purpose? Our good works are efficacious and of spiritual benefit only because God, through his goodness to us, sanctifies them and makes it so. Even our suffering is made useful and of spiritual benefit, and this because of the goodness of God and the power of the Cross. United to the Christ and His Cross, even our suffering can be a prayer and good work.

Romans 8:17: “We are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”.

-St. Colette:
If there be a true way that leads to the everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured.

rcg said...

We want to be gods so badly we subvert what is plainly in front of us in hopes that it will become true. The turning away has not been a bad thing if we learn from it; it is the Golden Calf of our Era. We have enumerated all the things a loving god should do and are able to do it for ourselves in this very earth: cure disease, end hunger, grant peace. We have deleted the concept of humility so that it does not obstruct our reach for the stars. If only the people would worship our collective understanding of How Things Work. It is a form of moral debt and we have no way of paying it; only borrowing more in the somewhat contradictory hope that if we do not figure out how to live forever we will have passed before the bill comes due. What is ironic is that we expect to be granted entry to heaven based on the world we leave at the moment of our death and not the results of our deeds some years hence. All of this makes the concept of Purgatory much more necessary if not actually appealing.

Anonymous said...

What we find beautiful is not necessarily what the beauty of heaven consists of. Brocade, damask, ornately carved marble, gilt wood, gem encrusted vessels are, to some, the essence of churchy beauty. Others find the stark simplicity of a monastic chapel beautiful beyond description.

"Eye has not seen ear has not heard."

Joseph Johnson said...

Anonymous/Jose Soldado,
I agree with your observation about the subjective nature of church art. I think a lot of the problem we have today in the conflict of opinions of this subject has to do with the fact that those who are (and have been) in control of what styles will be used(and what styles will NOT be used) have (often based on a particular interpretation of liturgical principles they have been taught) have made purposeful and deliberate choices to use a particular simple and "modern" style to the almost universal exclusion of what had (typically--though not always) been previously used. Once again, they are "editing" the style of worship (I have already discussed the prayer content issue) that Catholics will experience (and what they will not experience). This can create suspicion of an agenda, resentment and a hunger on the part of some lay Catholics to have the opportunity to worship in an atmosphere more in continuity with what they themselves experienced (or what they know, secondhand, was experienced) in the past.

In my earlier post about the priest's deliberate choice of a simple Communion cup for his personal chalice, my problem with his choice actually had more to do with his stated reason (and, moreover, his feeling the need to tell us about it) for his choice than the style choice itself. I perceived his reason to be a de-emphasis of his role as the sacrificing priest in favor of a more horizontal connection with his flock. We are living in an era where, because of the liturgical practices of the last 50 or so years, most Catholics are not aware of the critical sacrificial nature of the Mass and the essential role of the priest in offering and consuming this Sacrifice. The use of the same style of cup (whether fancy or plain) emphasizes the communal meal dimension of the Mass. Correct me if I'm wrong but I've always been taught that it is the Sacrifice of Christ (represented in an unbloody manner at every Mass) that can save us--not the fact that it is presented in the vehicle/form of a communal meal.

Finally, I think the point of this post by Fr. McDonald has more to do with the physical orientation of the priest in offering the Mass than it has to do with the style of vestments and church furnishing being used. Some externals are more essential than others.

Anonymous said...

If the choice of a simple cup de-emphasizes for you the role of the priest as the one who is offering the sacrifice of the altar, then there's a problem.

How much more "different" does it have to be? Taller? By how many mms? Greater capacity? By how many dl? Should the priest's cup have gemstones on it? Engravings?

I mean, come on...

ByzRus said...

Joseph Johnson - I agree with you, this is more about the physical orientation of divine worship than the other externals. To me, holy mass celebrated ad orientem is equally glorious in a roman basilica, gothic cathedral, baroque church, simple monastery, temporary missionary style structure or, the proverbial hood of a jeep. While I love the ornamentation, the murals etc., my principal focus is on the high altar then, the other externals. As I've said before, ad orientem posture makes the least attractive church look beautiful and the simpliest church look rich and grand. It changes everything plain and simple!

Rood Screen said...


What is the problem that concerns you?

ByzRus said...

Anonymous @ 4:56, if the priest had chosen to use a sterling silver, gold lined dixie cup, I'm not sure I would have invested tremendous amount of time reflecting on it other than a casual that's really ugly/we can do better and at least there is no profanation. But, because the priest chose to make it into a thing and draw attention to both himself and it, there's the problem. Instead of then concentrating on the mass, I would reasonably be wondering why is this necessary, why did we have to stop the liturgy to go over this, does this make the priest, in his opinion, more humble, what point external from the mass is he unnecessarily trying to make, why must I again be burdened with someones version of creativity or, interpretation instead of letting the mass just be the mass.

Thank goodness surgeons don't do this sort of nonsense and then waste other's time pridefully explaining it or, a lot less people would be walking out of hospitals.

Joseph Johnson said...

I just wanted to clarify one thing. In all fairness, the priest in question didn't make his point about the chalice during Mass--he did it in a parish council meeting as a part of telling us why he wanted to buy a new chalice. We probably did need either to refurbish what we had or buy a new one (the cost of replating was said to cost almost as much as certain of the new chalices). The need for a suitable chalice lined in precious metal (in accord with liturgical law) was a good enough reason for me to support his desired purchase, in principal. His reason for wanting to have the same style as the EMHCs' cups was something I'd rather not have heard because it sounded like a continuation of the type of liturgical thinking that I'd hoped we were leaving behind in the "spirit of Vatican II" past.

If we follow what I perceive to be your line of thinking then I suppose priests should stop wearing vestments and wear what most of the male congregants wear to Mass. I know it's not all about my opinion (it's about worshipping God and participating in the unbloody re-presentation of the once and for all Sacrifice of God-made-man on the altar) but different clothing for the priest, a high altar, turning to focus us all on a physical image of Jesus on the Cross, and, yes, a special cup to be used by the priest are all externals which help focus US (we both know God doesn't need these things) on the aforestated reasons we attend Mass.

ByzRus said...

Joseph Johnson,

Thank you for clarifying as it helped to turn down my jets. Know that I would have had your back to the end, my brother ;) The thing that scares me about this type of dialogue (and other more recent posts) is what appears to be the emergence of two distinct churches. While both sides have points that are valid, we seem to go through discussions such as this to the point of stalemate. Not that my goal is to win but, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground either. In our church that is shrinking on many fronts and has lost so much as evidenced by the photos accompanying this post, where will that leave us down the road if we can't even rely on tradition to be our guide to an organically developed future?

Gene said...

ByzRC, the changes made after Vatican II may be viewed as, initially, quantitative changes. But, at a certain point, a quantitative change becomes a qualitative one. I would argue that we are now seeing a qualitatively different Catholic Church from the pre-Vatican II Church. The fact that doctrine has not changed means nothing...doctrine is now an epiphenomenon with regard to Liturgy and pastoral practice. It simply does not matter any more to most people, particularly Cardinals, Bishops, etc. The spiritual zeitgeist is one of humanism and egalitarianism. Anything that implies judgement, guilt, or a moral imperative of some kind is considered "rigid," "uncharitable," or "bigoted." My feeling is that this qualitative change is irreversible...the tide of progressivism is simply too strong.

ByzRus said...

Gene -

I, unfortunately, share both your feeling and concern about the present as well as the future. The change you describe is like a tug-of-war where the gray area between perception and reality is stretched to the point of becoming meaningless.