Tolkien on Modernity, Part I

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Recently it was announced that an old reel-to-reel audio recording of a talk by J.R.R. Tolkien will be restored and released after having been kept from the public for many years. In 1958 Tolkien gave a speech at a dinner given in his honor in Rotterdam, which was attended by about two hundred enthusiasts of his mythology. The entire event was recorded and then forgotten about. Subsequently, the recording was found and then hoarded like part of Smaug’s treasure. Now it has been rescued from the clutches of the dragon and all are about to share in the fortune. It is a wonderful find, especially since it promises to reveal a few new insights about The Lord of the Rings.

It has long been known that a recording was made, but it was lost until 1993 when a collector named René van Rossenberg discovered it in a basement. Only now has he agreed to partner with several Tolkien fan sites to restore and release the recording.

What is extraordinary about the tape is that it contains the entire twenty-minute speech and gives an insightful look at the personality and character of the author. In the speech, Tolkien deals with the serious issues that he is passionate about, but in a playful manner. Tolkien speaks to his listeners as though he were Bilbo giving his farewell speech to the Hobbits of the Shire, though he shows much more insight about the evil of the Ring than Bilbo ever possessed. Indeed, Tolkien has much to say about the evils of modernity. Continue reading

Now on SpiritualDirection.com

Aside

Dan Burke from SpiritualDirection.com has invited me to write a series on “Mysticism and Magisterium.”  The first installment is up:  “Thinking with the Church.”

It is currently linked to on New Advent, and has been noted by Mark Shea and Terry Nelson.

I am grateful for this opportunity.  Thanks to Dan and Liz over at SpiritualDirection.com.

I will get back to my own series on the same subject.  I have not forgotten.  No, really.

Tolkien and Kevin O’brien on Chivalric Love

Read the whole thing. It is well worth it.

They speak of “shipwrecks” and “guiding stars.”  Men tend to look at women as guiding stars and women tend to think they can turn the men they love into knights in shining armor.  In reality, both men and women are “companions in shipwreck.”  Kevin points out that Tolkien’s view is both brutally realistic and at the same time wholly fair and charitable. Continue reading

In Defense of XXXXXXXXXXXXXX the Latin Mass

That should be “In Defense of Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass.”

The Week has recently published a hit peace on the new Mass and Vatican II by Michael Brendan Dougherty. Ostensibly it is praise of Pope Benedict and his support of the Traditional Latin Mass–well deserved praise, I must say, of the Pope Emeritus’ promulgation of Summorum Pontificum.

But then there is this:

Benedict’s intervention was not perfect. His intellectual attempt to save the Council and the new Mass from criticism with a “hermeneutic of continuity” was a noble failure. If the council intended continuity, why did it throw every aspect of Catholic worship up for possible revision in its documents? Why was the council swiftly followed by the worst spasm of iconoclasm in the history of the church — a tearing down of altars, images, statues — and a hasty revision to nearly every part of Catholic life?

Interesting rhetorical questions, which Dougherty does not answer.  But the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy is a nice spinning lure that always hooks the fish.

It just illustrates how Benedict XVI is so often used and abused in order to push one agenda or another.  Calling Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity a “noble failure” and brushing it off with a wave of the hand also illustrates why I am not a traditionalist.

I Believe in Ghosts, or Even More on Crypto-Lefebvrism

For a group of people who believe that there is no content to the term “crypto-Lefebvrism” those at Rorate Caeli along with Roberto de Mattei devote a good deal of time and space to the question. They also seem to be quite concerned about the criticisms I have been lodging, devoting as much time and energy as they have to the question, while making sure that they avoid linking to my blog.

But I am willing to concede that the crypto-Lefebvrists are ghosts. At least, they sure do behave like them. Etherial creatures they are, lurking in the shadows and working in the dark.

The latest contribution about this matter on Rorate Caeli is from pseudonymous Fr. Pio Pace who claims that the Holy See has been engaged in the “programmed destruction of the Franciscan of the Immaculate.” Not surprisingly, he calls the allegation of “cryto-Lefebvrism” simply the absurd and baseless pretext for the destruction of the FI. All the while he employs a revisionist historical narrative of the dialogue of the Holy See with the SSPX in the service of his allegation of the Church’s attack on traditionalism within the FI. Continue reading

What Happened to the Dialogue between Rome and the SSPX?

This post has been a long time coming.  It recounts much of what ought to be clear to the careful observer, but since it runs contrary to the popular narrative this documentation is in order.  I wish to put to rest the fatuous misrepresentations of the dialogue between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X.

My account is by no means complete, but neither does it omit the pertinent facts. A separate analysis could be devoted to the various nuances of positions represented within the Society.  The Society is by no means a homogeneous group and admits of degrees of intensity in regard to the “hardline.”  It is certainly true that there was more sympathy within the Society towards the Pope Benedict’s efforts at reconciliation than was often manifested in the media.  However, for several reasons, I do not think it is necessary to attend to these nuances in order to bring to light the aspects of the history that are often ignored.  First of all, this is so because it is what the leaders of the SSPX think that is decisive.  The opinions of individual members do not represent the Society per se.  On the other hand, what the leaders, particularly Bishop Fellay, set down is policy.  Secondly, the nuances are not essential to this account because the position of Bishop Fellay is relatively moderate within the SSPX.  In fact, he was greatly criticized by many members for his willingness to consider a doctrinal agreement at all.

Continue reading

The Crypto-Lefebvrist Dodge

The following is my response to Professor Roberto de Mattei (Italian, English) who recently came to the defense of Rorate Caeli. I note that neither de Mattei nor Rorate Caeli link to my original critiques (1 & 2).

Professor Roberto De Mattei, like New Catholic at Rorate Caeli, believes that my use of the term “crypto-Lefebvrism” is meaningless. They say that it is name-calling directed at faithful Catholics. In particular, de Mattei believes that my intention is to demonize those whose only wish is to be guided by Tradition and the Magisterium, and who under that guidance decide for themselves when the reigning Pope is to be followed and when he is not.

I have been saying for a long time that Bishop Fellay, the superior of the Society of St. Pius X, has been highly successful at executing his intention for the now failed dialogue with Rome. That intention, which he explicitly stated a number of times, was that the work of the Society should serve to weaken the influence of Vatican II. Roberto de Mattei has labored at this right along the Society of St. Pius X. Continue reading

The Paternal Solicitude of Pope Francis for the FI

Francis-FI

.- The Vatican has revealed that a house is being sought for members of the Friars of the Immaculate who study in Rome, and assured that Pope Francis is well-informed on the order’s temporary receivership.

In a statement released June 24, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. published the answer of Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo addressing several questions regarding the Franciscans of the Immaculate following a June 10 meeting with Pope Francis.

“The Holy Father is punctually informed of all the steps as they are taken,” he observed, explaining that currently “a house in Rome is being sought to accommodate the Friars…who attend a Pontifical university in Rome to pursue their studies.”

Archbishop Caraballo is the secretary for the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, and assists the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, in overseeing the order.

“Both the commissioner, Fr. Volpi, and all the seminarians of the Franciscans of the Immaculate were received by the Holy Father on June 10 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae,” Archbishop Caraballo said.

This is “a gesture that demonstrates the interest with which Pope Francis follows the situation of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and his closeness to the work that the commissioner is carrying out in the name of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.”

Founded by Fr. Stefano Manelli in 1970 with strong Marian charism, the Franciscans of the Immaculate were placed under temporary receivership last year in order to resolve internal differences involving the government and administration of the order, their relationship with their female branch, the use of the exclusive old missal and the interpretations of the Second Vatican Council.

During the hour and a half long meeting between the Pope and members of the religious order, all of the Friars present sang the Ave Maria di Fatima and renewed their vows of total consecration to the Immaculate.

Afterward the friars had the opportunity to ask Pope Francis questions on the most highly debated topics regarding their internal operations.

More Crypto-Lefebvrism from Rorate Caeli

New Catholic at Rorate Caeli claims to be taking the high road of honesty under the patronage of the Sol Iustitiae, even though he assiduously avoids permitting, even by way of links, anything that points out the errors made on the blog. A case in point is the grossly exaggerated figures concerning the departures from our Institute, which still have not been corrected. He has not even acknowledged that there might be a problem with his facts.

At least my superiors and Andrea Tornielli have the intestinal fortitude to put their real names on what they write and to correct their mistakes, rather than lurk in the darkness spouting lies and calumnies and then pretend they have no responsibility for what they say and do. Continue reading

The Crypto-Lefebvrism of Rorate Caeli

I need to refute certain claims made by Rorate Caeli concerning the audience that some of us (about sixty, not forty, as RC reported) had with the Holy Father on June 10.

Regarding Summorum Pontificum

Contrary to the claims of RC, there are many who are confused about the way in which the particular application of Summorum Pontificum attempted in our community involves a modification of our founding charism.  Some of these are people on the Internet, mostly in forums and comment sections, who believe our founding charism to include an attachment to the vetus ordo.  Others are within the Institute.  In fact, I have heard friars formerly in positions of responsibility who have argued that the charism has evolved to include such an attachment, even though this “evolution” is not reflected in our ecclesiastically approved legislation. Continue reading