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August 31, 2015

A Suppositious Suppositorial

Every few months I feel it my painful duty to buy a copy of The Tablet, alias The Pill, alias The Suppository, to find out exactly what the Mods are saying about current events and trends. I am hoping this penance may  qualify me for  some remission of  Purgatory.

Most of the issue for August 22 was characteristically stodgy,  but there was one editorial (or Suppositorial as my  elder brother would put it) which illustrated just how far this “international Catholic weekly” has accommodated itself to the standards of this world.  I presume it was written by editor Ma Pepinster, or possibly her gopher Elena Curti.

After noting that “much of the discussion preliminary to this autumn’s international synod of bishops on the subject of the family gives the impression that not much has changed since the days when women’s role was defined as Kinder, Küche , Kirche   (children, kitchen, church)”, the editorial points out that “the modern female lifestyle… would be impossible without the separation of sex from reproduction that contraception allows, so that childbearing can be reliably postponed while women begin their careers”.  It continues:

It is not surprising, therefore, that many young women raised as Catholics see the contemporary Church as an irrelevance or an impediment.  The suggestion that they remain celibate until they marry, and then immediately have children,  is not one they are going to take seriously.

And that’s it. One might have expected an “international Catholic weekly” to have drawn the conclusion that the Church has failed miserably over the past half century to get its message across  on  marriage and reproduction, and perhaps to have made some tentative suggestions as to  how the synod might begin an attempt to rectify this failure—but no, there’s nothing more. So the only possible conclusion is that The Tablet believes the synod should consider running up the white flag  and giving the green light to what Robbie Burns calls “houghmagandy”, the British tabloids,  “Nookie”, and my East Surrey comrades in the mid-1950s, “a Bit of the Other”.  Why not just say so? There’s more I want  to say about that issue of The Tablet, but it will keep for a later post.



I’ve just received the following from my brother-in-law in leafy suburban Surrey:

Tremendous news from here ! With grandchildren staying we had our TV on one of the BBC Children’s channels. They have been running a series where young (pre-teen children) help to plan their parents’ wedding. And what should we see on Saturday—one titled not “Mum and Dad get married” but (wait for it) “MUM AND MUM GET MARRIED”  . So the spirit of Sappho rises to new heights and sings more loudly that ever over our beloved land. I’m sure that dear Erin will soon follow suit, if indeed it hasn’t done so already. Do spread the word to all liberated friends to show that the BBC is really “on the ball” at last.



August 28, 2015

The Liturgical Babel

I’m going to quote you a bit more from Phoenix from the Ashes, the book I discussed  on Tuesday. 

First, another passage regretting the wholesale abandonment of Latin:

It is ironical that in an age of unprecedented communications the Church has thrown away its great medium of union. Catholics who go to a foreign country nowadays often stop attending Mass because they do not understand it. In tourist places, the priests never considered preserving, and are now unable to use, Latin as the language that would unite all their worshippers; and the great pilgrimage centres , instead of displaying the unity of the Catholic world, are now paradigms of the Babel that has been created by the search for intelligibility.

 And here’s Henry Sire on “bourgeois”  liturgical vandalism:

The modern priest, lacking genuine liturgical knowledge, fills the bareness of the altar by putting on it anything that comes to mind; and what come to mind are the accessories of the modern living room. By these the whole character of the Catholic liturgy has been banalised. The arrangement of the modern altar displays the ideas of a middle-class hostess of what is appropriate to decorate the dinner table: some candles and a bowl of flowers. By cutting off the life of the Church from a timeless tradition, the Modernists have immersed it in a contemporary social setting.  The foible is especially noticeable in Germany,  where the radicalism of the reformers has produced a parish Mass of comically bourgeois style; but that is the tone of the modern  liturgy in all  the Western countries.  In an ordinary Mass today the sense one has is not the offering of an eternal sacrifice but a lecture conducted by the priest and two or three women of the public-librarian class, to whom the readings and other duties of the church are allocated. The verbosity and preachiness of the liturgy is itself a middle-class characteristic with which many ordinary parishioners feel little rapport; and the alienation of working-class worshippers, in a way that was never true of the old Mass in poor parishes, has become a peculiar feature of the liturgical reform.



August 25, 2015

A Survivor of the Jesuits

When I was at that Lake Garda symposium back in July I sat next to a man at dinner who turned out to be the official historian of the Knights of Malta. Henry Sire was a good ten years younger than I, but he reminded me strongly of the senior boys at Downside when  I was a junior kid of 13 or 14.  Without meaning to, he made me feel rather gauche.

Alumni of Balliol College, Oxford are said to exude an air of effortless superiority, and I’d say that description  suits Henry to a T, although he went to a different Oxford college.  It’s not  that he’s snobbish or arrogant—just  totally at ease with himself and his place in the world.

Henry was educated  at Stonyhurst, just at a time when the Jesuits were beginning their slide into self-destruction. The fact that he resisted the liberal pressures to which he must have been subjected as an adolescent is very much to his credit. Unlike most of his Jesuit-educated contemporaries he is neither lapsed nor modernist—a strongly Traditional Catholic, in fact.

When I returned to Ireland I saw that Angelico Press had just released a book by  by H.J.A. Sire entitled, most unpromisingly, Phoenix from the Ashes. (What a cliché! I hope Henry didn’t think it up himself.)  The sub-title,  The Making, Unmaking and Restoration of Catholic Tradition aroused my  interest at once, so I ordered it.

It’s a treat. In a style erudite but readable—indeed lively and sometimes caustic—Henry takes no prisoners as he outlines all the previous major crises in the Church,  explains how we  stumbled into the present ecclesiastical quagmire, and points to the only way out of it—the full restoration of Catholic tradition. Great value at £14.00 sterling.

I shall probably be quoting from Phoenix from the Ashes quite frequently over the next few months. Here is Henry Sire on the future of  the liturgy:

…one thing can be prophesied: when the Church recovers its true character, Latin will be restored to its central place in the liturgy. There are many, even of those who are faithful to orthodoxy, who say that Latin is a lost cause, that it is hopeless to expect modern people to re-learn Latin. Yet history has shown us the examples of nations that have revived an ancient language, and a difficult language, because of what it meant to them as patriots.  Two hundred years ago, who would have predicted that Hebrew and Gaelic would one day become living languages, and the official languages of sovereign states? They have done so because the Jews and the Irish have wanted to assert their national identity and the place of their ancestral language in it. When a loyal love of the Church hs been rediscovered by Catholics, we may expect Latin to be restored, to be studied devotedly, and to be cherished as the language of prayer that unites the faithful of today with the great ages of the Church.

Irish scholars will no doubt  say—correctly— that “Gaelic” never ceased to be a  living language. But that doesn’t detract from the point Henry is making.


August 20, 2015


Now: The Gaia Mass

This is  Newchurch 2015….

No need to plough through it all, but go forward to  27.30 minutes into this video of a Mass from  Toronto and you’ll hear and see a rather fetching young lady, with quite a good voice, singing as a recessional hymn “Oh beautiful Gaia, calling us home.”



August 14, 2015

More about the Cristeros

Here’s some background material about that remarkable film For Greater Glory shown in our post for August  10. It’s a very sympathetic review  written by William F. Jasper five years ago.

‘¡Viva Cristo Rey!’ (“Long Live Christ the King.”) That was the rallying cry for millions of Mexicans during the second and third decades of the 20th century, as revolutionary governments, modeled after the Bolshevik regime in Russia, unleashed round after round of persecution and terror throughout Mexico.

For Greater Glory the newly released epic film starring Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, provides a stirring introduction to the ‘Cristero War’, or ‘Cristiada’  (1926-1929), a heroic chapter of Mexico’s history that, until now, has been almost virtually unknown in the United States (as well as in Mexico, where the government has suppressed true reports of the persecutions and all favorable mention of the Cristeros, who finally rose up to fight for religious liberty).

The wholesale raping, pillaging, destruction and desecration of churches, torture and murder of Catholic priests, closing of Catholic schools, the takeover of education by anti-Christian propagandists, and other outrages initiated by the regime of President Plutarco Elias Calles, ultimately drove the long-suffering Mexican people to take up arms against the dictatorial oppressor.

Tens of thousands — mostly peasants — joined the Cristero army, led by Gen. Enrique Gorostieta (played by Andy Garcia in the movie). Although poorly armed and usually outnumbered, the Cristeros repeatedly inflicted decisive defeats upon Calles’ army. Unable to defeat the Cristeros militarily, Calles resorted to diplomatic treachery, suing for peace and promising to restore religious liberty. Hundreds of Cristero leaders who accepted his amnesty and laid down their arms were tortured and executed; thousands of Cristero supporters were hunted down and murdered.

It is to America’s everlasting shame that our White House and State Department not only aided Calles in this deception but also provided him with arms and airplanes, while blocking all attempts by the Cristeros — Christian freedom fighters — to buy arms and munitions. In so doing, the U.S. government aligned itself with the anti-Christian forces that have been initiating communistic revolutions throughout the world since that great atheistic prototype, the French Revolution of 1789.

Although Mexico is overwhelmingly Catholic (and was even more so at the beginning of the 20th century), the Mexican Constitution of 1917 reflected the Marxist and anti-clerical zeitgeist of the Bolshevik Revolution of that same year. In addition to confiscating all property (churches, schools, universities, hospitals, monasteries, convents, rectories, etc.) of the Catholic Church, the new Constitution placed draconian restrictions on Catholic worship and Catholic clergy, forbidding priests, bishops, and nuns even to wear their religious garb in public, on pain of fine and imprisonment.  For Plutarco Calles, the anti-clerical provisions of the revolutionary constitution were insufficient; he illegally added his own more brutal measures to augment it.

Although For Greater Glory does portray on film some of the cruel reality and barbarism of Calles’ attack on Mexico’s Catholics, it understates the depravity and the viciousness of his pitiless campaign. Under Calles, Mexico became the first country in the world to recognize the new Soviet Union, and the Soviet embassy that was established in Mexico City grew to be one of Moscow’s largest in the world and a key center for NKVD/KGB subversion, espionage, and terrorism throughout the Americas.

However, even before Calles came to power in 1924, the new Communist regime in Moscow had begun exercising its influence in Mexico. Soviet dictator Lenin sent top Comintern (Communist International) agent Mikhail Borodin to Mexico in 1919 to coordinate a growing Communist-Socialist movement that was heavily larded with foreign elements, mostly American and European intellectuals. Among the agents Borodin recruited there was Manabendra Nath Roy (more commonly known as M. N. Roy) of India, who had studied at Stanford University before coming to Mexico, where he was a founder and first secretary-general of Socialist Party of Mexico. Under Borodin’s tutelage, Roy became a Comintern delegate and a founder of the Communist Parties of Mexico and India.

The Kremlin next sent Comintern agent and feminist revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai as ambassador to Mexico, though her real job was to prepare Mexico for its role (as perceived by Moscow) in the world revolution. As was frequently the case in other countries as well, Mexico’s native revolutionists didn’t always want to take orders from Moscow, even though they were muy sympatico with the political, social, and economic programs of the Soviet Union.

One of the key features of Russian Bolshevism that found its counterpart among the Mexican communists/socialists was a fanatical hatred for Christianity. Foremost among the atheist fanatics was the infamous infidel Tomas Garrido Canabal, Governor of Tobasco, whom Calles brought into his Cabinet. Canabal (called ‘Cannibal’ by his critics) deported or killed virtually all of the Catholic priests in his province. The few whom he allowed to remain, he forced to marry. Canabal named one of his sons ‘Lenin’, in honor of the Soviet dictator. He named his murderous enforcers Las Camisas Rojas (the Red Shirts), who adopted the Internationale, the anthem of communists worldwide, as their own anthem.

One of Canabal’s nephews, a member of his Red Shirts, was named Lucifer. Canabal himself took delight in publicly burlesquing Christianity at every opportunity, and at one livestock exhibition christened a donkey ‘Christ’,” a bull ‘God’, a cow ‘the Virgin of Guadalupe’, and an ox ‘the Pope’. Canabal delighted in festivals featuring the burning of crucifixes, crosses, religious statues and paintings, vestments, Bibles, and the libraries of Catholic schools and libraries. His thugs desecrated cemeteries, destroying all crosses and tombstones with angels, religious symbols, or Scriptural passages. As in Russia, all cities, villages, streets,  and buildings with Christian names were given new, revolutionary names.

One of Canabal’s top officials and his representative for Tobasco to the National Convention of 1933, was Arnulfo Perez, who styled himself  ‘the Personal Enemy of God’. Perez told the Convention: ‘Yes, gentlemen, the Revolution has the imperative duty of combating the false divinity that is venerated in every temple and that has many altars in the hearts of the people. We must fight this outdated and absurd belief, inspired only by the fear and ignorance of humanity. We must fight “God”, the maximum myth from which the greatest lies have been derived to exploit humanity and keep it on its knees throughout the centuries.’

For militant atheists such as Calles, Canabal, and Perez, anti-Christian propaganda was an essential and integral part of their concept of  ‘scientific’ and ‘socialistic’ education.  Calles illegally ‘amended’ the Constitution in 1933 so that Article 3 read:  ‘The education imparted by the State shall be a socialistic one and, in addition to excluding all religious doctrine, shall combat fanaticism and prejudice by organizing its instruction and activities in a way that shall permit the creation in youth of an exact and rational concept of the Universe and social life.’

President Calles himself confirmed the worst fears and accusations of Mexican parents, teachers, and pastors: that his revolutionary, socialist government aimed at collectivization and brainwashing of the children, purging them of the ‘taint’ of religion, tradition, parents, and family. In his address to the people of Guadalajara on July 20, 1934, Calles declared:  ‘The Revolution has not ended… It is necessary that we enter a new period, the psychological period, of the Revolution. We must now enter and take possession of the consciences of the children, of the consciences of the young, because they do belong and should belong to the Revolution…. I refer to education, I refer to the school… because the children and youth belong to the community; they belong to the collectivity, and it is the Revolution that has the inescapable duty to take possession of consciences, to drive out prejudices and to form a new soul of the nation.’

Typical of the oaths required of teachers under the Calles regime’s ‘socialistic education’  is this pledge that teachers in the State of Yucatan were forced to sign:  ‘I, _____, before the Federal Board of Education, solemnly declare, without any reservation whatsoever, to accept the program of the Socialist School and to be its propagandist and defender; I declare myself an atheist, an irreconcilable enemy of the Roman, Apostolic, Catholic religion, and that I will exert my efforts to destroy it, releasing the conscience from every religious worship and to be ready to fight against the clergy in whatever field it may be necessary….’



August 10, 2015

¡Viva el Cristo Rey!

From time to time I want  to include counter-cultural videos on this blog.  The last such item was a clip about the martyrdom  of a group of  Carmelite nuns  during the French Revolution.

Here now is a film lasting nearly two and a half hours about the Cristeros—Mexican Catholics who took up arms against their socialist government  during the 1920s, forcing it to abandon the worst of its anti-religious laws. It’s in English with Spanish sub-titles.  I lifted it from Fr Ray Blake’s blog.  Having looked up everything I could find about the Cristeros on the internet, I think the film is remarkably accurate: particularly the martyrdom  of 14-year-old Jose Sanchez del Rio, who was beatified  by Pope Benedict XVI about 10 years ago. Fr Blake rightly comments that “For Greater Glory” is portrayed through a very thick Hollywood lens; but I found it inspiring nonetheless. And how refreshing to see a video where the Catholics are the goodies (which they mostly were) for a change.

If you don’t want to watch it all now, I suggest you save it for later. Or else do what I did, and  view it half an hour at a time.


August 9, 2015

The Spirit of Lateran IV

In the year 1215 the ecumenical Council Lateran IV promulgated the dogma of Transubstantiation: so it’s a very important Council indeed.  But what’s not so well known is that it also required Jews and Moslems always to wear distinctive dress.

And that during the Sacred Triduum, they must not be allowed to go out of doors.  It’s there in Canon 68, which says, among other things:

Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning.

We Catholics believe—do we not?—that we are obliged to accept all ecumenical councils, and do our best to obey their decrees?  That is why the Society of St Pius X have been told that if they wish to be reconciled to the Church, they must sign up to all the decrees of Vatican II.

Well, if they are obliged to accept the whole of Vatican II, then surely they must also accept without equivocation all the decrees of Lateran IV as well? Yet how many of us now believe Jews and Moslems should be made to wear the yarmulka or the hijab? Or that they must be forced to say indoors during Holy Week?

Ah, you will say, Canon 68 was conditioned by its time; it had to be obeyed in the 13th century,  but now it’s obsolete.

Right. Well, isn’t it also true that we in the 21st century are living in a very different era to the 1960s? Let me quote the inimitable Fr Hunwicke:

My view on Councils, prescinding from those Conciliar decrees (with attached anathemas) which strictly define dogma, is that their teachings and edicts, even if appropriate to the time of the Council itself, gradually merge into the quiet background noise of the life of the Church. I have no doubt that this applies to Lateran Canon 68 as much as it does to Vatican II Dignitatis humanae. But both of these were completely ‘valid’ Ecumenical Councils; a truth which, I believe, no Catholic is allowed question. I also believe that no Catholic should read the non-dogmatic texts of any Council, or of any Roman Pontiff, without applying a contextualising nuance. Catholics are not fundamentalists. Councils, and popes, when not defining dogma, can, quite simply, be wrong. Especially fifty or more years after their time.



August 1, 2015

My Favourite Things

By Fr Tim Ferguson

After  The Sound of Music (Rogers and Hammerstein)

Dalmatics on deacons and cassocks on priests,
habits on nuns and immovable feasts,
bishops in soutanes with big, gaudy rings –
these are a few of my favorite things.

Devotions to Mary, novenas and stations,
fasting and penance on Days of Rogation,
High Mass and Low Mass and papal blessings –
these are a few of my favorite things.

Rosaries and incense and fiddleback vestments,
BINGO on Mondays with homemade refreshments,
statues of angels with halos and wings –
these are a few of my favorite things.

When RENEW strikes!
When the rail’s gone!
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply pop into a Solemn High Mass
and then I don’t feel so baaaaaad!