05 October 2015

The Destruction of the Liturgy Led to this Moment of Impending Destruction of Holy Matrimony

I wanted to excerpt even more heavily than I will below from this excellent, excellent essay at OnePeter5.  Steve Skojec uses a piece by Michael Dougherty at The Week as a jumping off point to link the crisis of marriage and communion we now face to its source: the destruction of the liturgy and the inevitable loss of faith. 

Dougherty's piece is thought-provoking and provocative.  Skojec's treatment of it is brilliant.  Read it with courage, if you want to really get to the bottom of what is really going on in the Church right now.

From the Skojec article:

The differences between the Novus Ordo and the Vetus Ordo are not simply matters of taste; there are fundamental theological and anthropological distinctions between the two forms of the Roman rite. The former is manifestly an anthropocentric endeavor, in its ecumenical aims, in its stripped-down prayers, in its orientation, and in its room for improvisation. Martin Mosebach lamented that while the Mass of Paul VI can be celebrated reverently, it is merely an option. To celebrate the older missal irreverently, one must make an effort to do so – breaking rubrics, rushing hurriedly through the prayers, failing to implement the beauty of sacred music or a properly adorned altar, etc. But the prayers of that liturgy themselves stand as a bulwark against true irreverence. There is no room within the ancient rubrics for a priest to go off on an ad-hoc soliloquy, and the prescription of where he is to stand and what he is to do and the direction he is supposed to face diminishes the possibility of him dominating the sanctuary by his presence. He is forced, whether he likes it or not, to decrease, so that Christ may increase. As one traditional priest of my acquaintance put it, “I am a slave of the liturgy. The Church tells me where to stand, where to place my hands, when to genuflect, when to kiss the altar…I disappear, and it is Christ’s priesthood working through me.”

My gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for Summorum Pontificum is real, but I worry that the Hegelian dialectic he established between the venerable Mass of the Ages and the “banal, on the spot product” that is the newer form (his words, not mine) is like “dialoguing” with the Devil. How can we find a compromise between what is sacred and what is profane? Meeting in the middle is, nonetheless, a diminution. We recognize this in the marriage debate, recognizing the absurdity of a “third way” between adultery and marital fidelity, so why are we so blind when it comes to the central act of worship that so deeply informs our approach to the entirety of our Faith?

Christ has been kicked out of the sanctuary in the post-conciliar liturgy to make room for us — often literally, depending upon the architecture of your parish — so why do we expect to find Him given a central place in the sacred union of spouses? We have taught our people that God is a means to our ends, and now we find ourselves confused that this perversion is reaching its logical terminus?

Consent, Mutually Given, Indissoluble

The Kind of Consent Required in Matrimony

It is most necessary that the consent be expressed in words denoting present time.


Marriage is not a mere donation, but a mutual agreement; and therefore the consent of one of the parties is insufficient for marriage, the consent of both being essential.


To declare this consent words are obviously necessary. If the internal consent alone, without any external indication, were sufficient for marriage, it would then seem to follow as a necessary consequence, that were two persons, living in the most separate and distant countries, to consent to marry, they would contract a true and indissoluble marriage, even before they had mutually signified to each other their consent by letter or messenger ­­ a consequence as repugnant to reason as it is opposed to the decrees and established usage of holy Church.


Rightly was it said that the consent must be expressed in words which have reference to present time; for words which signify a future time, promise, but do not actually unite in marriage. Besides, it is evident that what is to be done has no present existence, and what has no present existence can have little or no firmness or stability. Hence a man who has only promised to marry a certain woman acquires by the promise no marriage rights, since his promise has not yet been fulfilled. Such promises are, it is true, obligatory, and their violation involves the offending party in a breach of faith. But he who has once entered into the matrimonial alliance, regret it as he afterwards may, cannot possibly change, or invalidate, or undo what has been done.

As, then, the marriage contract is not a mere promise, but a transfer of right, by which the man actually yields the dominion of his body to the woman, the woman the dominion of her body to the man, it must therefore be made in words which designate the present time, the force of which words abides with undiminished efficacy from the moment of their utterance, and binds the husband and wife by a tie that cannot be broken.

Instead of words, however, it may be sufficient for marriage to substitute a nod or other unequivocal sign of internal consent. Even silence, when the result of female modesty, may be sufficient, provided the parents answer for their daughter.

The Essence of Marriage Constituted by the Consent

Hence pastors should teach the faithful that the nature and force of marriage consists in the tie and obligation; and that, without consummation, the consent of the parties, expressed in the manner already explained, is sufficient to constitute a true marriage. It is certain that our first parents before their fall, when, according to the holy Fathers, no consummation took place, were really united in marriage. Hence the Fathers say that marriage consists not in its use but in the consent. This doctrine is repeated by St. Ambrose in his book On Virgins.

-- from the Roman Catechism

03 October 2015

No More Excuses: Pray the Rosary!

From Mark Mallett's blog, a reminder why:

It is time to stop dismissing those beads as being that prayer which belongs to those “little ladies before Mass,” and to recognize it as the sword of the saints, the mantra of the martyrs, the song of the angels. If you feel a spark of hope in you now, then blow it into flame by picking up your Rosary, and never putting it down. These are not the times for complacency, but for decisive action on our part, surrendering ourselves to all the means of grace available to us, starting with the Sacrament of Confession, culminating in the Eucharist, and strengthening those graces with the little sacramental called the Rosary. Do not cave in to fear! Christ and His mother wish to hand you a victory!

Pray the Rosary every day. Pray it as a family. The temptation not to pray it should be a testimony in itself as to why you should.

We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times. Not with force, not with arms, not with human power, but with Divine help obtained through the means of this prayer...
—POPE PIUS XII, Ingruentium Malorum, Encyclical, n. 15

Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil… sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if—and mark well what I say—if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.

—St. Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary

Time for Prayer

We need to pray that Almighty God might yet still spare His Church from enacting any scheme to promote adultery, sodomy and sacrilege. We need to pray, because we deserve nothing but chastisement already; the Synod could be the reason the chalice of Justice overflows.

And yet, He loves us. Perhaps He will yet spare us, for the sake of His Son and His Mother, and in response to the pleas of His faithful remnant on earth.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. John the Baptist, pray for us!
St. John Fisher, pray for us!
St. Thomas More, pray for us!

All saints, pray for us!

02 October 2015

Meatless Friday: Phone Control Edition

I am one of the least technologically astute people I know, and I'm hooked on these stupid things.  Once you check on that phone or tablet, it leads to a million little "just one more"s until you are alone and 90.

from Takimag:

10 Steps to Phone Freedom

Marriage: Words Mean Things

We continue with day two of our journey with the Roman Catechism and its treatment of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.  In this entry, as in what will follow, the clarity and precision of the language is, in itself, a joy:

Nature and Meaning of Marriage 

The nature and meaning of marriage are, therefore, to be first explained. Vice not infrequently assumes the semblance of virtue, and hence care must be taken that the faithful be not deceived by a false appearance of marriage, and thus stain their souls with turpitude and wicked lusts. To explain this subject, let us begin with the meaning of the word itself.

Names Of This Sacrament

The word matrimony is derived from the fact that the principal object which a female should propose to herself in marriage is to become a mother; or from the fact that to a mother it belongs to conceive, bring forth and train her offspring.

It is also called wedlock (conjugium) from joining together, because a lawful wife is united to her husband, as it were, by a common yoke.

It is called nuptials, because, as St. Ambrose observes, the bride veiled her face through modesty ­­ a custom which would also seem to imply that she was to be subject and obedient to her husband.

Definition Of Matrimony

Matrimony, according to the general opinion of theologians, is defined: The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life.

In order that the different parts of this definition may be better understood, it should be taught that, although a perfect marriage has all the following conditions, ­­ namely, internal consent, external compact expressed by words, the obligation and tie which arise from the contract, and the marriage debt by which it is consummated; yet the obligation and tie expressed by the word union alone have the force and nature of marriage.

The special character of this union is marked by the word conjugal. This word is added because other contracts, by which men and women bind themselves to help each other in consideration of money received or other reason, differ essentially from matrimony.

Next follow the words between qualified persons; for persons excluded by law cannot contract marriage, and if they do their marriage is invalid. Persons, for instance, within the fourth degree of kindred, a boy before his fourteenth year, and a female before her twelfth, the ages established by law, cannot contract marriage.

The words, which obliges them to live together throughout life, express the indissolubility of the tie which binds husband and wife.

Essence And Cause Of Marriage

Hence it is evident that marriage consists in the tie spoken of above. Some eminent theologians, it is true, say that it consists in the consent, as when they define it: The consent of the man and woman. But we are to understand them to mean that the consent is the efficient cause of marriage, which is the doctrine of the Fathers of the Council of Florence; because, without the consent and contract, the obligation and tie cannot possibly exist.

Brace for Impact: Synod against the Family Begins

Good morning, dear reader(s).  Today, fittingly enough, is the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, whose help we should indeed be invoking.  Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Therese, the beautiful product of the great gift of a holy and humble Catholic family-- one man, one woman, made fruitful in offspring, all striving for holiness.  

Another great saint to invoke for aid in these dark times.

I'll try to stay abreast of developments and give my take, trying to say something original if possible.  In any event, this weekend and the coming week are times for intense prayer.  The outcome of this Synod may be predetermined, or not.  Dramatic, or not.  Begging God for chastisement.

Or not.

So, hang in there.

Hilary White, the Catholic journalist and essayist formerly with Lifesite News, has begun a special blog specifically to cover the Synod.  Other bloggers are also writing there.  It should be informative; it will be interesting. If you don't like unvarnished opinions, you have been warned.  I will link this blog, What's Up with the Synod?, on the sidebar for the duration of the Synod.

I think this is a very good idea, as the spin machine in certain quarters of the visible Church and the secular media are hard at work to anesthetize and obfuscate reality, so that we all will read the tea leaves as we desire.  Everybody wins in the big tent, and nothing is real.  Ask Kim Davis about that.

A Prayer to One's Holy Guardian Angel, by Nicolas Salicetus, 15th Century: 

I BESEECH thee, angelic spirit, to whom I have been entrusted by providence: that thou unceasingly guard me, protect me, visit me, and defend me from every attack of the devil. While I am waking and sleeping, by night and by day, every hour and minute protect me. Accompany me wherever I go. By the power of God, drive from me every temptation of Satan, and those which my merits do not drive away, by thy prayers hold fast before the most merciful judge, so that nothing contrary may have a place in me. And whenever thou seest me treading upon the slippery path of vice, trouble thyself to lead me back to my Redeemer through the paths of justice. And whatever need or distress thou beholdst me to be in, may I feel the help of almighty God by means of thy protection over me.

I pray thee, my guardian, if it can be done, to make my end known to me. And when I shall be drawn forth from this body, do not allow evil spirits to frighten me or taunt me, nor allow me to fall into the pit of desperation. And do not abandon me until thou hast led me to the sight of my Creator, in which I and thou, as my protector, together with Mary the most blessed mother of God and all the saints may rejoice forever. Amen.

And in Latin: 

OBSECRO te, angelice spiritus, cui ego ad providendum commissus sum: ut custodias me indesinenter, protegas, visites, et defendas ab omni incursu diaboli. Vigilantem atque dormientem, nocte ac die, horis continuis atque momentis confove me. Ubicumque iero, comitare mecum. Repelle a me per virtutem Dei omnem tentationem satanae: et quod mea non exigunt merita tuis precibus obtine apud misericordissimum iudicem, ut nihil in me habeat locum contrariae virtutis admixtio. Cumque me per abrupta vitiorum de via esse videris, per semitas iustitiae incedendo ad redemptorem meum reducere satagas et, in quacumque necessitate vel in quacumque angustia me esse perspexeris, auxilium Dei omnipotentis tuo obtentu super me adesse sentiam. 

Precor te custos meus ut si fieri possit notum mihi facias finem meum. Et, cum de hoc corpore ductus fuero, non dimittas malignos spiritus terrere me aut illudere, neque in foveam desperationis inducere. Et non derelinquas me, iubente Deo, donec ad visionem conditoris mei perducas, in qua simul et ego pro opere et tu pro custodia mea una cum beatissima Dei genetrice sanctisque angelis et omnibus sanctis perenniter laetemur. Amen.            

01 October 2015

Sunday Says

Let us remain together a little, we who have loved each other so sadly, and have fought so long. I seem to remember only centuries of heroic war, in which you were always heroes — epic on epic, iliad on iliad, and you always brothers in arms. Whether it was but recently (for time is nothing), or at the beginning of the world, I sent you out to war. I sat in the darkness, where there is not any created thing, and to you I was only a voice commanding valour and an unnatural virtue. You heard the voice in the dark, and you never heard it again. The sun in heaven denied it, the earth and sky denied it, all human wisdom denied it. And when I met you in the daylight I denied it myself.

--G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

Marriage Month Here at St. Louis Catholic

During this portentous month, in addition to whatever else comes along, I wanted to take readers along with me through a stroll of the Roman Catechism on the subject of Holy Matrimony.  This catechism, arising out of the Council of Trent, is a most cogent, clear, edifying and instructive document.  Throughout, I might throw in some emphases.  May Mary and Joseph, exemplars of holy marriage, guide our way.  Let's start at the beginning:



Importance Of Instruction On This Sacrament

As it is the duty of the pastor to seek the holiness and perfection of the faithful, his earnest desires must be in full accordance with those expressed by the Apostle when writing to the Corinthians: I would that all men were even as myself, that is, that all should embrace the virtue of continence. No greater happiness can befall the faithful in this life than to have their souls distracted by no worldly cares, the unruly desires of the flesh tranquillised and restrained, and the mind fixed on the practice of piety and the contemplation of heavenly things.

But as, according to the same Apostle, every one hath his proper gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that; and as marriage is gifted with great and divine blessings, so much so as truly and properly to hold a place among the other Sacraments of the Catholic Church, and as its celebration was honoured by the presence of our Lord Himself, it is clear that this subject should be explained, particularly since we find that St. Paul and the Prince of the Apostles have in many places minutely described to us not only the dignity but also the duties of the married state. Filled with the Spirit of God (these Apostles) well understood the numerous and important advantages which must flow to Christian society from a knowledge, and an inviolable observance by the faithful of the sanctity of marriage; while they saw that from ignorance or disregard of (its holiness), many and serious calamities and losses must be brought upon the Church.