The Art of Celebration

The liturgical difference between Francis and Benedict XVI has been one of the most noted contrasts between the new pope and his predecessor.  Since the day he was elected, when he dispensed with the mozzetta at his first greeting of the faithful from the loggia of St. Peters, he has opted for plainer liturgical style for papal functions.  His washing of the feet of girls, one of whom was a Muslim, on Holy Thursday, has been noted by some as the end of Pope Benedict’s reform of the reform.  Likewise, his choice to celebrate in parishes within his own diocese according the liturgical customs of the place, rather than impose the standards of his Vatican celebrations, has been noted as an undoing of Pope Benedict’s efforts to restore lost traditions.  But Benedictine Abbot Michael Zielinski, from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, sees the differences as complementary rather than contradictory.

I think it is worth noting here again that, both in the order of being and in the order of logic, two things or assertions that are different, or contrary, are not for that reason contradictory.  That there might be a greater or lesser degree of solemnity, magnificence, or ritual purity, does not mean that the greater end of the spectrum is reverent and the lesser end irreverent.  This is a distinction that seems to be lost on many who are inclined to be reactive against the differences, rather than responsive to the Vicar of Christ. Continue reading

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Know Thy Enemy

It is my thesis that the devil’s spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have not choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls.  There is no time like the present to begin the training.

This was written by Father Thomas Euteneuer in the introduction of his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant (xxxiii-xxxiv).  I am reading it now.  One does not need to be an exorcist to know he is completely on the mark.

I have mentioned before that Catholic militancy is in the first place about the interior life and that our real adversaries are not men who are “enemies of the Church,” but principalities and powers.  This can also be taken a step further.  Even in the external order where Catholic Action comes into play, the greatest opposition will come from the dark powers, whether through temptation or something more extraordinary like oppression and obsession.

But I believe there is also a middle between the two.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories.  One reason for this is because I have found that in order for  something that appears to be the result of a “grand scheme” to occur it is not necessary for the rich and influential to secretly meet in the middle of the night in a hidden black-curtained dungeon, or, for that matter, in a corporate board room.  It is sufficient that men open themselves up to the powers of the netherworld by playing fast and loose with their spiritual life.  My own experience tells me that men can effectively collaborate in nefarious schemes without even knowing that they are doing it.

I never understood why Fr. Hardon was so adamant about those living in mortal sin being instruments of the devil.  I would still qualify this sentence by emphasizing that this most often happens without the sinners knowledge, because most people sin through weakness and not malice, but I think I understand what he meant.

For many this will just be seen as dishonest scaremongering. [I am correcting this post so as to indicate by the following link a specific comment  to a post on another blog (June 21, 2010, 4:14:16 PM EDT). Sean P. Dailey is the author of the comment in question, not Mark Shea.  Please see this comment, below.] But sometimes we are given prophetic graces.  In an age when so few priests, and more importantly bishops, are willing to be exorcists, the few who are find themselves crying in the wilderness when they speak to men about the dangers to which our age exposes itself.