Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Country

Dear (central, coastal) Italy,

you don't understand Hallowe'en. Not having seasons, you really fundamentally fail to grasp this quintessentially pagan, harvest autumn festival.

You are already well-equipped with death-festival material, the home of charnel houses and chapels made of bones, a place where ladies still go to have parties at the family mausoleum. I realise that the Catholic culture is dying out here, but you can just decide to revive it if you want. It's all written down in books. Go do native Italian things, related to All Souls and All Saints. The sane world wants this stuff to be preserved.

But Hallowe'en proper is something you really just can't grasp. It's about pumpkins and fallen leaves and straw-stuffed scarecrows on the porch. It's about decorating your house like a haunted house, trick-or-treating (properly, and only if you're under 12) and long slow walks, shuffling through fallen leaves in cold windy weather; bare oak trees and Edgar Allen Poe readings. It is, in short, Northern and English.


Umbria is different, of course. They've got both Autumn and Winter there. In the mornings, you can lie in bed, all curled up with the cat under the quilts, listening to the rain on the roof and the sound of gunshots in the hills as the hunters go after the season's wild boars, the smell of woodsmoke rising up from the valley to heaven through the turning leaves like an evening sacrifice...

Though it might start a little later in the year, since I was there last weekend and the leaves were mostly still green on the trees. So we might have to change it to "November Country".


Anyway, Italy, please stop doing Halloweenesque things in the middle of your perpetual-summer, Mediterranean-climate country. It's really just cringingly embarrassing. Like listening to an American trying to do an English accent; you just want to crawl away and hide from the humiliation the person is visiting upon himself.

So, just go to Mass on Saturday, OK?



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Here's for all you Halloween buzzkills out there...


Happy Halloween, ladies...


So, last night's anxiety dreams were fun...

I was dying of ebola in an Italian hospital in which no one was concerned at all about isolation protocols. I kept trying to tell them they needed hazmat suits, but no one could understand me.

Then a bishop came to visit me and started telling me that I was going to be fine because he was there to accompany me. I begged him to hear my confession and he pretended not to understand my English (common Italian dodge when they don't want to do something). He just went on and on about not worrying about my sins and that God loves me just the way I am...

Only there were a lot more bodily fluids involved.

I really, REALLy, need to move up to the hills.


I know: five minutes in the box for sharing too much.


More Pumpkinny goodness

What do you do with the pumpkin after Halloween? Traditionally, you just let it sit there and melt. Which I admit is often pretty fun.

But here's another idea:

a big chunk of pumpkin, about a pound or more
curry powder
cumin seeds
coriander seeds
sesame seeds
heavy cream

Cut the pumpkin into large chunks, about the size of your hand. Slice down into the meat to the skin, to score it and place in a roasting tin. Sprinkle generously with curry powder and cinnamon. In a pan, melt a bunch of butter. Grind a handful of the cumin/coriander/sesame seeds (that you toasted in a dry frying pan earlier and keep in a jar) in a mortar and pestle. Throw the seeds in with the butter and let them fry a little. Then douse the pumpkin with the butter, making sure it gets into the scored cuts. Roast in a hot oven for about an hour, or until it's toasty and crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

When you plate it, douse in a little heavy cream. This will mix with the spices and the butter to make a truly gorgeous sauce. When you're eating it, gish each forkful around in the butter/spice and cream sauce.

Oh baby!!


The walls that divide us

Christ wants to see us reconciled rather than living as enemies, Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass on Tuesday, explaining that a true Christian lives with this hope.

“We all know that when we are not in peace with others, there is a wall. There is a wall that divides us. But Jesus offers us his service to break down this wall so we can meet,” the Roman Pontiff told those gathered in the Vatican’s Saint Martha residence chapel for his Oct. 21 Mass.


If we are divided, we are not friends: we are enemies. And he has reconciled us all in God. He has reconciled us as friends, as enemies, as strangers, as sons and daughters.”


“He who does not await Jesus, who closes his door to Jesus, does not allow him to go forward with his work of peace, of community, of citizenship,” the Pope noted, saying that this attitude of waiting is part of what constitutes Christian hope.

Unless you're one of those crazy Traditionalists or FFIs, in which case, you're pretty much screwed.

The Catholic faithful cannot participate at Mass, neither request and/or receive Sacraments from or in the Society. Acting otherwise would mean to break communion with the Catholic Church.

Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church. A readmission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation, according to the ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop.

...and have a nice day.


Just trying to keep score

Pope Francis said that those waiting at the threshold of the Church without going inside are not true members of the Church which Jesus established and on whom it is built.

“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not in the Church,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his Oct. 28 daily Mass.

Rather, “we are on the threshold and look inside…Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door: 'Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic.'

This, on the same day it was announced that anyone receiving the Sacraments from the SSPX are excommunicated latae sententiae...

Holy Father, I thought the message yesterday from your friend the bishop of Albano was that being "too Catholic" was bad.

Didn't you spend several interviews recently, and do a whole bunch of other things, to tell us all that we really don't need to be Catholic to be just fine and dandy with God? So, if the SSPX people are summarily kicked out (latest in about a dozen different conflicting messages about their status over the last ten years) how come the Evangelicals and atheists, Anglicans, Jews, followers of Tony Palmer and whoever else, all "need" to stay where they are and have just as much hope of going to heaven as the Officially Approved Catholics and we wouldn't dream of being so rude as to attempt to "prostelytise" and convert them?

So, as of yesterday's homily, the message of the Church, if we may attempt a summary, is:


Catholics "on the threshold" need to be "more Catholic," ... but not so Catholic that they embrace the Church's pre-Conciliar teaching about the Social Reign of Christ the King and that there is "no salvation outside the Church" because that would make them "unforgiving," "rigid" and "neo-pelagian" traditionalists with "crypto-lefebvrian" tendencies who like to attempt to "proselytize" people.

But people who aren't Catholic at all, our "separated brethren," liberal Jews, atheists, Muslims, Anglicans and Tonypalmerites all have to stay where they are because the Church and the world "needs" them there, and you can reach "salvation" through reading the Koran or Martin Luther or the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or whatever strikes your fancy, because there are "salvific elements" in ... well... everything.

...Oh wait no. Everything except being "too Catholic" in the wrong way, because Mercy!

Did I get it? What do I win?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Double standards

Let your no be no and your yes be yes... unless it's politically inexpedient at the moment, in which case you should just start issuing random conflicting orders and confuse everyone.

A friend in another venue writes, "Rorate[Caeli] missed the real headline on this one. Follow me here. The bishop's letter reads:

'Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church.'

"The real story here as far as I'm concerned is that this bishop has de facto refused the language of Vatican II and opted for a TRADITIONAL 'either or' understanding of COMMUNION! Do you see that there? Read the quote above again if you need to.

"Apparently the Eastern Orthodox and the Protestants are said to be in 'partial communion' with the Church. But the SSPX and whoever 'requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X' is said to have NO communion."


Another points out the history of using interdict against large groups of faithful as a political weapon as a favourite pastime of Renaissance popes of the past:

Pope Clement V excommunicates Venice


Monday, October 27, 2014

Welcome to NuChurch, and...

Quick question...

If I understand this correctly, despite years of messages to the contrary, now "the Vatican" (ahem) is saying that the faithful cannot receive Communion in SSPX parishes....

But I'd just like to know one thing to help clarify a point of confusion: What if they're divorced and remarried?

Is it OK then?


Pius X"
[Roughly translated by a machine]

In recent weeks, were received by the Diocesan Curia requests for clarification about the celebration of the Sacraments at the "Society of St. Pius X," Albano Lazio. In this regard, it is considered proper to state that the "Fraternity" is not an institution (or the parish, or association) of the Catholic Church.

This is true even after the decree of the Congregation of Bishops, 21 January 2009 by which the Holy Father Benedict XVI, going kindly to repeated requests by the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, which revoked the excommunication since June 30, 1988 were incurred four prelates of the same fraternity.

This was pointed out by Benedict XVI with his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church March 10, 2009, "the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers - even though they were freed of the ecclesiastical penalty - do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church" (in AAS CI [2009], no. 4, p.272).

Benedict XVI himself, the next letter m. p. Ecclesiae Unitatem of 2 July 2009 reaffirmed "the remission of the excommunication was a measure in the 'field of ecclesiastical discipline to free people from the burden of conscience represented by the gravest ecclesiastical censure. But the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified, the Society
does not have a canonical status in the Church and its ministers can not legitimately exercise any ministry "(in AASCI [2009], p. 710-711).

As a result of the above, we must reiterate what has already been formulated in the Pastoral Note on SSPX Bishop Dante Bernini, where we read: Catholics can not attend Mass or take and\or receive the sacraments in the fraternity. To do otherwise would break communion with the Catholic Church.

Therefore, any Catholic who requests and receives the Sacraments in the Society of St. Pius X will arise from the fact [latae sententiae] in the position of not being in communion with the Catholic Church. A readmission into the Catholic Church should be preceded by an adjustment to personal path of reconciliation, according to ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop

[We] sincerely regret that certain options, especially if they relate Christian Initiation of children and young people, are in contrast with the pastoral guidelines of the Italian Church and the consequent choices of the Diocese of Albano, which are favored training for the growth and maturation of the life of faith.

Parish priests, the task of giving adequate information
to the faithful.

From the Curia Albano, October 14, 2014, Prot. 235/14.

Marcello S
emeraro, bishop

Didja catch that last bit? "...certain options, especially if they relate Christian Initiation of children and young people, are in contrast with the pastoral guidelines of the Italian Church..."

The what-Church, now?

Yes, can't have all that Catholicism messing up our nice NewChurch.



Meanwhile, this was yesterday: the SSPX celebrating a pontifical High Mass in the (hideous) Basilica of Lourdes, with full permission from the local Catholic authorities...

Messe du Christ-Roi en la Basilique Saint-Pie X (26 octobre 2014) from DICI on Vimeo.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Never a dull moment

Packed 15 boxes last night. Got all the paperbacks and most of the hardcovers, all the art supplies, nearly all the linen closet, all the CDs and DVDs. Ran out of juice around 11:30. I don't know why putting things in boxes is so exhausting.

Anyway, was tuckered out, so slept in and have spent the morning perusing the daily disasters, and it seems like the Synod has had quite a... well... an invigorating effect on many.


Here is Alessandro Gnocchi (in translation from Rorate Caeli), under the headline "Over half of the bishops (in the Synod) have already switched religion..."

We find ourselves confronting a Synod in which the majority of Cardinals and Bishops threw at least three Sacraments overboard: Matrimony, Confession, and the Eucharist. Church history teaches us that schisms have been consumed by much less. The dramatic point is in the fact that there are Bishops and Cardinals who are in substance schismatics in playing out their roles, with no sense of contradiction, in response to the pressure exerted by Bergoglio towards “the new”.

Lots of thoughts on this, of course, but something to keep in mind is that we knew what was going to happen at the Synod. I don't know if we anticipated that it would be quite so ... up front, let's say, but we certainly knew the general parameters. We had known, for instance, that for the most part only those bishops who were known to be in general agreement or who were likely to remain timid, were going to be invited. We also knew well ahead of time that the Synod's organisers were going to be getting up to some shenanigans, because, well, they basically told us. So while we know that the Synod itself was very illustrative of the problems we are facing in the post-Asteroid Church, we must remember that it is representative of a certain trend in the Church and is not the whole story. It is of course a very large trend, one might say the dominant trend, but it must be remembered that there are bishops out there, who were decidedly not invited, who feel quite differently about it.


As to that, we have something today which might be even more shocking than the goings-on in the Synod. Is my journalistic spidey sense failing me, or does this look to you like Notpope Benedict (who totally isn't still also the pope no more, not no-how, not no-way becausetherecanbeonlyoneandhetotallyresignedlegitimatelytotallyandcompletelyfreelybecausehesaidso...sothere)

publicly correcting Pope Francis...

"The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people," retired Pope Benedict wrote. "'But does that still apply?' many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. 'Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?' The counter-question is: 'Can dialogue substitute for mission?'

"In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality," the retired pope wrote. "The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.

"It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine," he wrote.


Just some stuff to think about when deciding whether it is still worth observing the Church's old fashioned, rigid, unforgiving and judgmental rules about the Friday abstinence...

Anyway, I'm going to go out into the wonderful breezy sunshiny day, and walk on the beach-o before collecting today's batch of 20-odd boxes from the supermarket, and continuing to dismantle my life.

Here's hoping I make it out in time. I can feel the clarion call of the mountains, like the faint ring of hunting horns at the start of boar season. Enough of this warm, festering, louche and languid coastal existence...I'm ready to fight the elements for my dinner. Chop some wood. Maybe shovel the walk, like a real Canadian.