Tempus Per Annum | Year B | Gospel of St. Mark | Cycle I | Saints this week: Timothy and Titus; Angela Merici; Thomas Aquinas; John Bosco.

Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.” —Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.


Insulis quae procul sunt. Welcome! The digital sacristy has many cabinets. e-Media can be found at the bottom of the blog.

Lent is fast approaching. In advance of spring, a cleaning of the blog has begun. Changes are being made to reduce visual clutter and page length.

Holy Obedience

“We become Catholics not actually knowing a great deal about the Faith and keep finding ourselves suddenly realizing, ‘Oh, that’s it. That’s why the Church teaches this.’ Acceptance comes first, then practice, then understanding.”—David Mills.

Scott Hahn on the Sacrifice of the Mass

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Church of England lands another body blow to Christian unity.

At the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Church of England has signalled its thoughts on the unity of Christians to the Catholic Church and the orthodox eastern churches by "ordaining" a woman bishop.

One might recall what the Russians have had to say about a development of this kind:
In objection to the CofE action, the lone voice of Paul Williamson, an Anglican minister who objected to the "ordination", echoed in the great York Minster, the once Catholic building appropriated during the Tudor revolt.

A word to our Church of England friends who cannot abide by this recent development: Anglican Ordinariate.

Click HERE to visit the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for Anglicans who desire to maintain authentic Anglican heritage in communion with the Catholic Church.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Competing Narratives. What is the soul of the Liturgy?

Battleground on holy ground?

The battle for the Liturgy is an ongoing struggle between those who rightly defend the Liturgy according to the Tradition of the Church on the one hand, and on the other those who seek to appropriate the Liturgy and (mis)use it to their own ends. This battle is played out in parishes on an ongoing basis.


The Tradition-minded see the work of the Holy Spirit shaping the Mass down through history. The Tradition-minded understand the Mass as the action of Jesus Christ, something to be received, cherished and celebrated with absolute fidelity. The Tradition-minded understand that truth, beauty and goodness in liturgy reflect the truth, goodness and beauty of Jesus Christ. The Tradition-minded understand that worship is oriented to Christ, and so promote ad orientem worship, i.e., worship oriented to the East. Because we receive Christ in the Mass, we receive with humility and dignity as God's redeemed children Holy Communion on the tongue.


By contrast, those who do not receive Tradition but instead promote an agenda of dissent and/or ignorance of history routinely promote liturgy as a form of religious entertainment or as a mere social gathering. The vocabulary of the liberal-religionist reflects a preoccupation with novelty resulting in false dichotomies: table vs altar; meal vs sacrifice; service vs Holy Mass; bread and wine vs Body and Blood of Christ; and so forth. The liberal-religionist envisions the Mass as a closed circle (Mass in the round) that has people surrounding the altar. Worship is decidedly horizontal and earthbound.


Because Mass has become people-centred, the Mass has become subject to every manner of personal preference that has little relation to what the Church has taught continuously on the nature of the Mass and decorum in worship. Large liturgical gatherings, such as those at the Mahoney inspired religious education conference in Los Angeles, have become goofy paganesque sideshows that confirm an innovationist misappropriation of Church teaching regarding inculturation of the Mass.

The most successful activity of the liberal-religionists has been the imposition of substandard vernacular songs that have replaced the music of the Mass. The marginalization of sacred chant and polyphony is a cultural tragedy of epic proportions. Catholic and non-Catholic music historians alike have mourned the loss of beautiful music of the Mass. Most contemporary music one hears on any given Sunday is trite to the point of being offensive. The composition, text and performance of said music is not acceptable for worship. If a parish music group really intends to worship in spirit and truth, they should also feel obligated to learn how to play their instruments and sing on key so as to avoid being a distraction. The fact that so many singers and instrumentalists who occupy lofts and sanctuaries are not interested in improving their craft is yet another sign that banality has become the norm.

Confusing the language of the Liturgy with the language of personal devotion.

An article in the Tablet (aka, The Bitter Pill) typifies the confusion and blurring of lines between personal/private devotion, i.e., the personal conversation between the individual and God, with public/liturgical worship of God by His Church.
The Battle for the Soul of the Liturgy 
26 June 2014

Tiernan MacNamara quotes F.M. Cornford's Preface to his translation of Plato's Republic (The Tablet, 21 June). The battle for the soul of liturgical language is far from new. Fifty years ago Archbishop Francis Grimshaw of Birmingham penned a trenchant Preface to the 1964 Small Ritual published as a result of the Vatican II Constitution on the Liturgy.

The Archbishop praises the quality of modern translations from one European language to another and compares such skill with the apparent desire for literal translations in vogue among ecclesiatical translators. The tendency to copy Latin syntax is, he claims, justified by some on the grounds that this is the solemn language of prayer demanded by the majesty of God. Others, he points out, insist that prayer, whether private or public, should be expressed in the simple language of ordinary people.

He suggests that whatever has become the accepted form of address to one whom we respect yet love should be the form to adopt when we speak either to God or about him. Slavish, ad literam translation will not do any more, he says. We must avoid anything that makes the language of prayer unreal. (The argument that liturgical language that respects the literal meaning of the Latin original is "unreal" is founded on a faulty premise: liturgical language is not the same as individual devotional language. Liturgical language affirms exactly Who God is so we can direct our prayers to the Father in the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord. There is a theological necessity that liturgical language is precise and in perfect conformity to the received Tradition, which for us Latins means we have an obligation to insist that all translations conform precisely to the Latin original, even if our English sensitivities may suffer a little. Catholics, if they be faithful Catholics, depend on the orthodoxy of liturgical prayer to guide their private prayer. Personal prayer is firmly rooted in the liturgical.) Tiernan MacNamara thinks it's significant that no one is prepared to publicly admit ownership of the present so-called translation (That is an unfortunate misrepresentation of the facts. The translators were well known to the bishops and other committee members, and the process by which the translation achieved approval was completely transparent. The reason why some raise the issue of responsibility is because many of the complainants were not included in the process. Perhaps that was a good thing.).
Private prayer should conform to the liturgical model, not the other way around. The language of liturgy and personal devotion need not be subject to a false dichotomy which pits private prayer against poetry and hieratic language. One would be a fool not to make the beautiful prayers of the saints one's own.

Adopting the language of liturgy shapes our relationship with God in authentic ways, ways that help us, for example, to think and act with Holy Mother Church. Is it any wonder that a generation of liturgical tinkerers have led so many astray by projecting a vision of the Church on to the Church which resembles more the flawed human face of men more than the perfect human and divine face of Jesus Christ?
Liturgy is the “soul” of the Church. Each Particular Church has its own specific liturgy. For example, Maronites celebrate their own liturgical tradition, as do the Coptic, Chaldean, Armenian, Latin, and Byzantine Churches. Liturgy is what makes a Church fully “Herself,” and makes the Particular Church a gift to the Universal Church. For this reason, we must respect and protect the integrity of liturgy, safeguard its power to transform and pass this sacred work intact to the next generation, so that through the liturgy Christ may continue to do in others what He has done in us.—Liturgy and Prayer, Third Pastoral Letter of Most Reverend Gregory J. Mansour, STL, Eparchial Bishop of St. Maron of Brooklyn, 14 September 2008.
If one has never been protestant in name and/or in spirit, perhaps it is more difficult to understand that when the language of me+God alone, for example, is admitted into the Mass, the Liturgy is reduced to a collection of individuals subjecting the public worship of God to individual biases and opinions. In such a gathering, the worship of God takes second place to the feel good sentiments of a religious social club whose members think God will be conformed to their demands. In the church-of-me, homilies typically divorce the quest for holiness from the grace of God and make the worshipper the centre of the universe.

Worship in spirit and in truth.

What separates Catholic liturgical worship from sectarian services is that the Mass is Christ praying to the Father. We enter into Christ's prayer to His Father, a prayer He makes in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The Liturgy, then, is properly called divine—hence the Divine Liturgy, as our eastern brethren call the Mass—because the Mass is Christ, True God and True Man, praying to the Father. We enter into Jesus' one and same sacrifice at Calvary. Every Mass we enter into the Upper Room of Holy Thursday when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist (Mass) and Holy Orders because Jesus identifies Himself with the Mass. How can we not offer our very best effort to welcome Jesus in the Mass? Furthermore, if we cannot recognize Christ in the Sacred Liturgy, Jesus Who has made Himself completely vulnerable in His Body and Blood received as food, how will we recognize Jesus in the poorest of the poor?

Generic music, anonymous god.

Most liturgical music is an obstacle to worship and a hindrance to formation in the Faith because it fails a most basic test: it has us focussing on us instead of God. The Propers (proper chants) of the Mass, by contrast, excerpt the text of Holy Scripture. On occasion, the truly inspired poetry of canonized saints is presented. The Propers (Introit, Offertory and Communion chants) have us praying to God not at Him nor confine our thanksgiving to a gift received. Rather, the Propers have us offering to God our thanks and praise, contrition and adoration and our petitions for help. Much praise and worship music frequently fails to refer to the Father and omits the mention of the name of Jesus. Generic references that could be applied to Buddha as much as Jesus are used instead of the Divine Names.

The battle for the soul of the Liturgy requires that those who defend the Mass from abuse of one kind or another must be equipped with the weapons provided by the Church. Many resources are listed in the Pages section of the left column of this blog. Happy hunting!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Loving the Liturgy. A Friday meditation.

How many people can actually say that they love the Mass? Knowing what the Mass is, who would say anything less?

When Mass is celebrated reverently, the liturgical actions and words become transparent to Christ Who enters into our midst. We see in the ritual gestures and hear in the sacred words spoken aloud and in various tones of voice Jesus acting and speaking. Are we listening?

Mass is holy. Why? Because Jesus Christ is present in the Mass. We are taught by Holy Mother Church that Jesus is present in His human priest. The priest is an icon of Christ. Jesus is present to us in His word, Holy Scripture. Jesus is present to us in the congregation gathered in His name (St. Matthew 18:20). And—get this!—He is really present in Holy Communion. The Holy Eucharist is no mere symbol. Prior to the Consecration, the bread and wine are symbols of our self offering. At the Consecration, Jesus Christ through the word of His priest (who speaks the word of Christ... this is my Body,... this is my Blood... .) sends the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into the real Body and real Blood of Christ! Not all share that theology, but it is the continuous teaching of the Church from the time that Jesus Himself first gave His Body and Blood to His disciples to eat and drink at the very first Mass on Holy Thursday, the great sacrificial feast which anticipated Jesus' sacrifice on Golgotha, Calvary. Every Mass is a continuance of or entering into the one and same feast of Holy Thursday and the one and same Sacrifice of Calvary. In the Mass, time and eternity meet. Earth and heaven meet in Jesus Christ.

As Jesus is present on the altar, the appropriate posture or disposition in the presence of God, then, is awe. The Lord of the universe comes to meet us in the humblest of forms. He offers Himself to us as food. He is entirely vulnerable. Is that not a most profound trust shown to us by God, the trust to receive the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?

Jesus suffered a violent death, death on a cross. He was broken apart for us so that we might enter into that space He created for us, a place in His body. In His wounds, man finds a place in God. This immeasurable and sublime gift of God invites receptivity. Is there a place in our wounds for Jesus to enter into?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

University of Victoria limits free speech. Secular media comments.

An editorial in the Times Colonist newspaper gets it right. Court decisions notwithstanding, there is a serious problem when publicly funded universities are exempt from upholding all citizens' Charter rights.

Mr. Lawrie McFarlane expresses what many are rightly challenging as an inversion of justice. McFarlane confirms the BC court's rationale for making such a decision is based on an even more egregious decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Lawrie McFarlane: UVic ruling violates Charter of Rights intent
JANUARY 22, 2015
CLICK HERE for full article.
In a deeply subversive decision, the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that our Charter of Rights governs only those interactions that take place between the state and its citizens. All our other dealings — with private corporations, charities, banks, restaurants — indeed, any non-governmental enterprise — are exempt.
According to this view of things, fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and religion, of assembly and association, are guaranteed merely when dealing with public officials. Otherwise, you’re on your own.
The case arose from a dispute between the University of Victoria’s Students’ Society and an anti-abortion group (that is, pro life group). The B.C. Civil Liberties Association took the Students’ Society to court, alleging it had infringed on free speech on campus.
While the judge appeared to agree that such an infringement had occurred, he dismissed the complaint. His reasoning?
The Supreme Court of Canada has previously ruled that the purpose of the Charter is merely to constrain how government agencies must act. Since the top court has also found that universities are not part of the public sector, they’re off the hook.
This is an astonishing dilution of our national bill of rights. The preamble to the Charter explicitly states that the freedoms it guarantees are subject only to such reasonable limits as can be justified in a free and democratic society.
Excluding 80 per cent of civil discourse from the Charter’s reach (that being the non-government share of the economy) would, I submit, constitute an unreasonable limit. Furthermore, the freedoms guaranteed in the Charter are worded in language of such breadth and finality as to render so narrow an interpretation risible.
Section 2 of the Charter reads as follows: “Everyone has the following freedoms …” It does not say, “Everyone interacting with a government agency has the following freedoms …” Where, then, is the basis for neutering our bill of rights?
The justification, such as it is, lies in Section 32 of the Charter, which names the federal government, the provinces and territories as the guarantors of our liberties.
I suspect it never occurred to anyone they were letting four-fifths of the country off the hook. That would have contradicted the fundamental purpose of having a Charter.
Those who support this gutting of our title deed argue that human-rights tribunals can fill the gap. No, they cannot. (Exactly! The dreaded HRTs have repeatedly been used to brow beat individuals into compliance with various politically correct but morally bankrupt agendas.)
Their lack of due process, their weak standards of evidence and their history of pandering make them a pale shadow of the real thing. Too often they have been more interested in limiting free speech than in protecting it.
CLICK HERE for full article.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bad Religion. Regensburg reminds.

The following is an excerpt from an NRO interview between Kathryn Jean Lopez and her guest Samuel Gregg.

Samuel Gregg: (Pope) Benedict’s (Regensburg) lecture is ever relevant because one of its central arguments is that a religion’s understanding of God’s nature has immense implications for its capacity to live peacefully with those who do not share the same faith or, for that matter, have no religious faith. A religion that regards God as sheer Will, operating above and beyond reason, cannot ultimately object to the notion that such a God may command its adherents to do unreasonable things. For if God is ultimately unreasonable and the Creator of the universe, then so too are the people created in His image. Hence, if such an unreasonable God commands equally unreasonable humans to do something utterly irrational — such as slaughter cartoonists, fly planes into buildings, axe to death Jews praying peacefully in a synagogue, behead Christian children in the Middle East, kill Nigerian as Boko Haram has done, the list is endless — not only can we not object on grounds that such actions are unreasonable and intrinsically evil, but we must simply submit to the irrational Deity’s desire for blood. In other words, whether we like it or not, there is a theological and religious dimension to what happened in Paris — and what is happening in Syria and Iraq, what occurred on 9/11, and what Islamic jihadists keep doing all around the world — and we ignore this at our own peril. That’s another reason why it is so embarrassing and self-defeating for people like President Obama, President Hollande, and Prime Minister David Cameron to go on repeating, mantra-like, that Islamic jihadism has nothing to do with Islam. Of course it has something to do with Islam. That’s why it’s called Islamic jihadism.Rereading Regensburg, NRO interview by Kathryn Jean Lopez with Samuel Gregg.