Anonymity and Personal Responsibility​

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But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment (Mat 12:36).

Obviously, there are some legitimate reasons for bloggers and those on social media to utilize anonymity and pseudonymity, which for brevity’s sake I will not rehearse here.  No one seriously disputes their use under every circumstance.  So let us get to the heart of the issue, which is the demand of justice.

Justice is not optional under any set of circumstances, though weighing the competing interests at hand may not always be easy, and men of good will may disagree over their solutions.  There are legitimate reasons to protect the identities of whistleblowers, who otherwise might suffer from the unjust use of power.   On the other hand, every man has a right to his good name and to have his accuser take personal responsibility for his potentially life-harming assertions. Continue reading

Family in Exile

Evelyn Waugh, the great Catholic novelist, was rather disappointed with the modern celebration of Christmas. He wrote:

Christmas. All that remains of Bethlehem is the breakdown of communications; no room in the inn.

For Waugh and for many other people, in spite of their deeply religious sentiments, Christmas is very much not “the most wonderful time of the year.” Continue reading

Christmas Mass at Dawn

From the rising of the sun
To the world’s furthest edge,
We sing to Christ our Prince,
Born of the Virgin Mary.

Blessed maker of the ages
Now takes up the body of a slave,
So flesh may unfetter flesh,
That what He made is not lost.

This ancient Latin hymn for Christmas Lauds, A Solis Cardine, refers to the dawn and the course of the sun across the sky. It also connects this idea with the saving of our flesh by the coming of Christ in the flesh. We pass from darkness into light, from despair to hope, because Christ enters the darkling earth as the Light of the World. Continue reading

Success

Update (6/6/16): Here are the notes as promised.  I was tasked with a forty minute oral presentation followed by ten minutes of questions on the topic with another twenty minutes on anything in dogmatic theology.


Thank you all so much for your prayers. I am very, very grateful.

I just wanted to give a brief update and then do nothing at all.  I am bushed.

I presented yesterday on the Triple Way in Dionysius. Within the next few days, I will post the file of my notes for the presentation. It was challenging and I was grilled with questions but in the end my moderator, Fr. Bernard Blankenhorn, OP, told me that I passed with flying colors.

It was very reassuring to know that I had so many wonderful people praying for me. Again I am most grateful.

I am still waiting to find out my overall grade, as the second reader for my tesina has yet submitted it, but I know I have passed and have finished the degree of License in Sacred Theology.

God bless all of you.

SSPX: Accept Them as They Are?

The lightning rod of the SSPX is getting hit from various angles these days. Michael Voris thinks the Society is still schismatic, but Bishop Athanasius Schneider believes there is nothing seriously preventing the SSPX from being fully reconciled. In the middle, Bishop Morlino states there is very good reason why the Society finds itself in an ambiguous situation: they are not excommunicated but they have no ministry because they have chosen “to work outside of—and sometimes against—the hierarchical Church and its structures.”

The members of the SSPX are not being prevented from believing what they want about Vatican II and the new Mass. They remain without a ministry because their own definition their ministry is to expose the Council of Freemasons, Modernists and Jews and oppose the New Mass, which they believe is valid but evil.

Bishop Schneider thinks that both the Society and the Holy See overestimate the importance of Vatican II and regard it in isolation from the other Councils of the Church. But is not the solution he proposes a hermeneutic of continuity, and is this not what other traditionalists priests like those of the Fraternity of St. Peter have agreed to in order to have a ministry?

It seems to me the matter is not simply a question of charity and of stopping the infighting. With all due respect to Bishop Schneider, no matter how Bishop Fellay phrases himself the Holy See is very unlikely to give him a ministry to oppose the Council and the New Mass. And it is very unlikely that Bishop Fellay, a moderate in the Society, will agree to anything less.

Even if there were no doctrinal preamble to sign, in order to give a wider allowance for personal conscience, the Holy See would assure that the Society’s rules reflect the same kind of agreement made by the Ecclesia Dei communities. But the preamble helps to assure that members of the Society know clearly that their personal opinions and what they are permitted to do with the Church’s sanction are two different things.

And lets be Frank. The Holy See has every reason to believe that a mandate given to the SSPX ministry on a “as they are” basis would be considered a blessing on the Society’s mission to oppose Vatican II and the New Mass.

The Mob and the Machine

The other day Damian Thompson published a candid history of the Catholic blogosphere, which covers its heyday during the reign of Benedict XVI to its subsequent decline in recent years. Thompson knows a lot about this since he was on the ground floor of the Catholic digital information explosion, having been the writer for the very popular and hard-hitting blog, Holy Smoke.

As noted here before, the information democracy of the Internet has largely served the interests of the more conservative minded, both within the Church and in the secular world, because the mainstream media (secular and Catholic) has long been dominated by the left. Thompson acknowledges this, and accurately situates the new informational freedom in the context of Benedict XVI’s reform of the reform. With papal power behind doctrinal and liturgical reform as well as unrestricted access to the public through the blogosphere, a large sector of the Church, formerly marginalized, now had an opportunity to further what they saw as the true Church’s agenda. Continue reading

Fra Josemaria M. Barbin on The Temptation of the Istari

The following essay has been writing for this blog by one of our seminarians, Fra Josemaria M. Barbin.  I agree with it in its entirely.

Some say that J. R. R. Tolkien is a black-and-white thinker who just pits the force of good against that of evil. However, his characters prove how Tolkien’s writing does not fall readily into such simple categories. The Istari (also known as wizards), for instance, reveal that in Middle-earth things are no so black-and-white. Tolkien’s wizards illustrate how one may do evil even with the best of intentions, when one is seduced by the temptation to use an evil means to a good end. Continue reading

Fr. Fidenzio Volpi, OFM Cap., R.I.P.

Fr. Fidenzio Volpi generously assumed a position of authority within the Institute at the bequest of the Holy Father which he neither asked for or wanted.  He did so under extraordinarily difficult circumstances and in the process paid the price by being pilloried in the gauntlet of the Catholic Internet, for the most part by people who did not know him and who knew nothing about the situation with which he was dealing apart from what they read from bloggers with an axe to grind.

I am personally grateful for the sacrifices he selflessly made on behalf of the Church and our Institute.  It was a no win situation for him, but he never complained about it.  He just continually asked us to do what the Churched asked of us, and gave us an example to follow.  He was a good man, and much aligned in the manner of a true follower of Christ.

Please pray for the repose of his soul, and for the good of our Institute.  There has already been enough talk and too much sabotage.  Now is the time to believe like Catholics and use supernatural means to achieve what can only be a supernatural end, namely, the restoration of unity within our Institute and its perseverance.

Fr. Gabriel Maria Polo, RIP

Over the past week the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate having been in mourning the loss of Fr. Gabriel Maria Polo, who passed away following a heart attack in Cebu, Philippines.  He was forty-three years old, nineteen years in religious vows and twelve years a priest of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Gabriel for a time was a missionary in Anapolis, Brazil and latter was assigned to Stoke On Trent, England.  More recently he was the master of postulants and the superior of the formation house in Naga, Philippines.

I came to know Fr. Gabriel while I was assigned to the friary in Cornwall, England.  He was a fine friar and priest, kind and joyful, and he was particularly good to me.  I am honored to have called him a brother and a friend.

As I understand, he was interred yesterday is Cebu.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his family.

I include here a video tribute to him, prepared by Fra Didacus as well as some photos from when he was assigned to England provided by Fr. Agnellus.

Now Fr. Gabriel has both hands free.