Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vatican Prefect On Kneeling For Communion

[La Razón:] Nevertheless, Benedict XVI has reiterated in some instances the propriety of receiving communion kneeling and in the mouth. Is it something important, or is it a mere matter of form?

[Cañizares:] - No, it is not just a matter of form. What does it mean to receive communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What dies it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, his goodness, and his mercy. That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way; it is not the same to receive communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants.

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: So while traditionalist Catholics have been ignored and berated for years, it finally turns out that they've been right all along - at least on this issue.

It's been a long time coming. Once again the Vatican points us back to our historic traditions. We Catholics need to start acting like Catholics again. As the new prefect points out; standing or kneeling for communion is not the same, and it is not just a matter of form. That's why Protestants don't do it. You'll notice that Protestants don't kneel at the consecration, when they visit a Catholic mass, simply because they don't believe in the real presence. They know EXACTLY what kneeling means. To kneel is to show adoration. That's why they don't do it. Funny how so many Catholics seem to have forgotten this when it comes time to receive the blessed sacrament.

So the question is what to do now. Should Catholics take it upon themselves to begin kneeling and receiving on the tongue during the Ordinary Form liturgy, or should they wait for the USCCB to come out with some kind of statement on the matter. If the latter, we may be waiting for a hundred years. Maybe it's time to just do what we know is right, and what the Vatican confirms is right. Based on papal liturgies, and now these words from the CDW prefect, the official position of the Vatican is that Catholics should kneel and receive communion on the tongue. While the official position of the USCCB is that Catholics should stand and receive communion on the hand. So which is it? Do we obey the Vatican or the USCCB? After all is said and done, that's what it comes down to. We must chose between the USCCB, which has no real governing authority, or the Vatican, which is the apostolic See of Peter. What's it going to be? Peter or the USCCB? I know my position. 'The Catholic Knight' will be kneeling and receiving communion on the tongue no matter what mass I'm attending.  The only exception to that would be if kneeling might hold up the line or cause some kind of disturbance.  In which case I will at least receive the sacrament on the tongue while standing, as they do in the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church.

The point is we've got to take a stand somewhere - (no pun intended). If we don't boldly show our reverence for the eucharistic Lord at mass, when shall we do it? Now I'm not talking about making a scene. The mass should never be a place for calling attention to one's self, but at the same time, it should not be a place for the disciples of modernism to strip our faith of everything we hold dear. Now is as good a time as any to do something about it, and the Vatican has affirmed our right to do it. So let's do it in a spirit of true reverence for our eucharistic Lord, and with no spite or malice toward anyone. Let's all agree to boycott the hand for starters. No more communion in the hand. From now on communion on the tongue in all circumstances. Then when the opportunity presents itself, and doing so will not cause a disruption of any kind, we kneel down to receive the Lord. Is there anybody out there with me on this?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

LIFETEEN Founder Excommunicated

Teenagers Gather Around the Alter During the Consecration
As Was A Common Practice In LIFETEEN Masses Some Time Ago
Only A Few LIFETEEN Parishes Still Continue This Practice
(AP) - Phoenix's Catholic bishop has excommunicated a priest who started a nondenominational ministry after the priest was charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct.

The action announced Monday against Monsignor Dale Fushek, once the diocese's second highest-ranking administrator, was a response to his creation of the Praise and Worship Center in Chandler....

read full story here
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: It's time for Catholic parishes around the nation to rethink what they're doing. Yes, as Catholics we MUST reach out to the youth in our own congregations, but we need to reconsider how we're doing it.

For starters let's look at the English version of the mass itself. We're currently using a translation of the liturgy that the Vatican has labeled "defective" (read more here), and has revoked our permission to keep using it. That's why a new English translation has been approved by the Vatican and the USCCB, which will be put into use sometime in 2010.

The pope has also made it clear that we should expect more changes to the Ordinary Form of the mass, that will reintroduce traditions long since forgotten by most Catholics. For example, we can expect to see the use of high alter candle configurations, wherein the priest always faces a crucifix, and sometimes (when appropriate) the use of the ad orientem posture, where the priest faces east. We can expect to see the reintroduction of bells at the consecration, along with the use of more incense. The pope has also suggested the use of Latin at the consecration itself in all masses, no matter what language it's celebrated in. He is also planning on moving the "sign of peace" closer to the creed so as to create a greater atmosphere of solemnity during the eucharistic prayers. He has already indicated he would like to see greater use of traditional sacred music (such as Gregorian chant) during mass. The list goes on and on.

What's the message being sent here? It should be obvious. The Catholic Church needs to start being "Catholic" again, embracing our historical traditions, and giving them new life in the modern world. The changes coming out of the Vatican should serve as a guide for the average parish liturgist and choirmaster. We're heading toward a period of greater solemnity, greater reverence, and more tradition. Parishes that resist this change will only get left behind and ultimately hurt themselves.

But what about the youth? How will they be able to relate? Those who seriously ask such questions are operating on a template that is about 30 years old. The pop culture folk masses (which are epitomized by LIFETEEN) are an antiquated relic of the last generation. Youth may still be seeking out loud contemporary music, but mass is not where they really want to find it. Contemporary Christian music is a huge industry now. There are radio stations around the nation 100% dedicated to playing these songs around the clock. Youth can listen to these songs on their car radios, iPods and MP3 players. In fact, they often do. Over the last 30 years a new phenomenon has developed called the "Christian rock concert," wherein Christian youth can scream, dance, wave their hands in the air, etc. This didn't exist in the 1970s and 80s, but it does now, and it's bigger than ever. The youth hear this music all the time, outside of mass, and in fact, it's usually a lot better than anything the local parish choir can produce. Yes there is an outlet for Catholic youth in contemporary music, and Catholic parishes SHOULD be promoting it, but not at mass!

The point is the youth of today can get their pop culture music, in Christian variety form, anywhere they want. There is even a "Catholic flavor" of Christian pop music -- believe it or not. What, you've never heard? Ask any Catholic teenager. Many surveys are now perplexing Church leadership with results finding that the majority of practicing Catholic youths are more "pre-Vatican II" in their mentality. How could that be? and why? For starters, Vatican II has nothing to do with it. What it really has to do with is the sense of solemnity. When Catholic youth visit mass, they're not looking to hear the same thing they can get on their iPods and MP3 players. They're looking for something completely different. They're looking for a sense of the sacred. They want mystery. They want other-worldly. They want to escape the trappings of this earth to meet the Lord in sublime reverence and awe. That's why so many of them are flocking to the Extraordinary Form of the mass. It has nothing to do with Latin. It has nothing to do with the 1962 Missal. It's about solemnity, mystery, reverence and transcending everyday reality. That's something they can't get on their iPods and MP3 players. That's something they don't hear on the car radio, and it's something they will never experience at a Christian rock concert. It's something that only the Catholic Church can give them, that is, IF their local parish is willing.

The excommunication of LIFETEEN founder Dale Fushek should be an eye opening watershed to most LIFETEEN parishes, and contemporary Catholic parishes in general. Fushek's excommunication had nothing to do with LIFETEEN, directly, but it did have a lot to do with the attitude and mindset of the man who created LIFETEEN. It was an attitude and a mindset that got him into trouble with the law, and ultimately led him to create a "nondenominational worship center" outside of the Catholic Church -- effectively a schismatic act. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying LIFETEEN is schismatic, but I am saying that it was produced by a schismatic mind, and that in itself should be cause for alarm. When you compound this with the obvious problems associated with the current English mass translation (soon to be retired), and a general loss of historic Catholic traditions, you can begin to see the possible dangers. The tragic and saddening event of Dale Fushek's excommunication should be a wake-up call to Catholic parishes all around the nation. Perhaps it's time to look to the pope for new guidance and reconsider the direction of the American Church.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Year 2012 And The End Of The World

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: I've refrained from blogging on this for some time, as I truly hate getting into this stuff, but as the year 2012 approaches I'm afraid if I don't chime in, I will be negligent in letting people know what is likely to happen. So here it is.

In all realistic probability, the world will not end in 2012. In all realistic probability, the world will not even drastically change in 2012, unless man does something particular to change it - like a major war for example. Yes, we could have some big earthquakes, a tsunami, some major storms, but these could happen in any year. They've happened in years past, and they will most certainly happen in years future.

The doomsday consensus on the Internet and the blogosphere seems to center around our solar system's crossing of the galactic plane, and the supposed end of the Mayan calendar. My readers deserve facts not conjecture, so let's examine them.

The Mayan Calender
There is really nothing mystical or magical about this system of dating. Nearly all ancient civilizations developed methods of calculating time, and the Mayans were no different. The civilizations of ancient Central America have always been a fascination to western culture, simply because they were so far removed from everything known by the Old World (Europe, Africa & Asia). Their exotic character however, doesn't make them any more special than the ancient civilizations on other continents. Might I also point out that there is substantial evidence of ancient Mayan culture engaging in human sacrifice. That's not necessarily a virtuous characteristic. Still, in spite of their flaws, they did manage to organize a pretty elaborate calendar, that spans an incredible amount of time, and is fairly accurate as far as ancient calendars go. Yes it is true that the Mayan calendar ends in the year 2012, and that has been the source of much speculation by occult New Agers. However, it should be pointed out that the Mayan calendar is cyclic in nature, and just because one reaches the end of a cycle, that doesn't necessarily imply something bad is going to happen. There is no archaeological evidence to suggest that the Mayans themselves made any such prediction.
(Wikipedia) - "For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle," says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. in Crystal River, Florida. To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in."

By "cash in" she means they're making a lot of money on the ignorance of any poor fool who will believe them. Ancient calendars were not designed to predict the end of the world, or even the start of natural disasters. No, the ancients were far more practical than that. They spent great amounts of time and energy perfecting these calendars for only one reason -- farming. Yes, that's right. They needed to know exactly when would be the best time to plant seeds, and when would be the best time to harvest. Watching the weather can be very unreliable. The position of the stars, moon and sun could much more accurately determine what time of year it was, and thus when would be best for planting and harvesting. I'm sure the ancient Mayans, if they could see us today, would be very amused by the way our technologically advanced civilization is fretting about their humble means of calculating the seasons. They would be very amused indeed.

The Mayan calendar does not predict the end of the world, or even the end of an age, or the start of a new one. The end of the Mayan calendar predicts one thing, and one thing only, which is the end of the Mayan calendar. It amazes me how easily people ascribe mythic qualities to sources that obviously don't deserve them. My favorite example is Nostradamus, who according to tabloid magazines, has accurately predicted every major disaster and political event since the middle 16th century. A careful examination of his writings reveals that he really didn't predict anything. I mean to say he never really committed himself to any one prediction. He wrote in parables and symbolism, which was so incredibly vague, that much of it can be interpreted any number of ways. That was the beauty of his craft though. Like fortune tellers and astrologers, his descriptions vaguely touch on so many common characteristics, that it's easy for the interested reader to immediately assign those vague descriptions to something personal in his or her own life. Likewise, the interested reader in Nostradamus does the same with his vague descriptions and history, connecting today's headlines with his writings, in ways Nostradamus himself could have never imagined. The average believer in Nostradamus today has never actually sat down to read any of his writings. Instead the average believer gets his/her information straight from the tabloid press, and what these tabloids say he said. Of course we know how accurate the tabloid media is -- a real source of "solid" information I'm sure. Then we have the predictions of supposed psychic Edgar Cayce, whom many would have us believe is a wellspring of prophetic information, even though he predicted the lost continent of Atlantis would resurface in either 1968 or 1969. Yet still, there are entire schools devoted to the study of this one man and the supposed "predictions" he made. Proponents of the Mayan calendar doomsday scenario frequently point to supposed "parallel predictions" made by Nostradamus and Cayce. To the Catholic mind this can't mean much, considering Nostradamus never committed to any of his predictions, and Cayce was so blatantly wrong on the biggest one he ever made.

The best advice I can give to all of my Catholic readers is to distance themselves from this kind of nonsense. It is the stuff of New Age occultism, something expressly forbidden by the First Commandment. It's bad enough that most of this is derived from the occult, but to make matters worse, many of those using the Mayan calendar to predict "something big" are really just after big money. They may be trying to sell you a book, or a magazine, or even worse some kind of "survival kit." Don't be fooled. These people are charlatans.

The Galactic Plane
It's quite common for doomsday fanatics to take a skin of the truth, and stuff it with lies. On the issue of the galactic plane, they're definitely on to something true, but their time tables are too heavily dependent on the Mayan calendar thing. There is no way the ancient Mayans could know exactly when the earth's solar system will cross the galactic plane, and there is no way they could have calculated it based on the observations of their time. Yes, the earth's solar system is scheduled to cross the galactic plane some time in the near future, but scientists do not know exactly when, and "soon" in galactic terms could mean anytime within the next one million years.

What is the galactic plane? Well think of our galaxy as a spiral disk spinning through space. It's about 100,000 light-years across, and about 10,000 light-years thick. Just to give you an idea of size, light travels at about 186,000 miles per second. Now that means a particle-wave of light travels about 11 million miles a minute, and about 670 million miles an hour. So to figure the size of the galaxy, just figure that it takes about 100,000 years for that same particle-wave of light to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other. 

Within this spiral disk are billions (maybe even trillions) of stars. They all revolve counterclockwise around the center of the disk, which is powered by the gravitational force of a massive black hole - a star so dense that light cannot escape it. Time and space itself implode within the massive gravitational pull of this black hole, creating what scientists call a "singularity." This singularity is a "pinhole," if you will, reaching back to the first cause from which the universe sprang forth, and it is the final end in which our universe will eventually return. It could best be described as a window into eternity, and it is the closest this universe will ever come to encountering God face to face, outside the incarnation of Jesus Christ of course.

This black hole is rotating at an incredible speed, and the centripetal force of it's rotation causes the center of it's gravitation well to get spread out, like a micro thin disk spanning the center of the galaxy. That micro thin disk of gravity collects a lot of cosmic dust, particles and for lack of a better term -- space junk. It is spread uniformly (as far as we know) from one end of the galaxy to the other, and it is around this disk that all the stars in the galaxy bounce up and down through like a wooden horse on a carousel. Our nearest star (the sun) is no different. In fact, astronomers at NASA have calculated that our solar system (which includes the earth of course) bounces through this galactic plane about once ever 32 million years. When it does, we tend to pass through a very messy part of space, filled with all sorts of dust particles, rocks, ice and space junk. All of this increases our chance of a collision, and based on the geological history of the earth, a collision with something is almost guaranteed. To describe this, I'll quote the only source I trust on such things, and that is NASA...
(GISS NASA) - In the early 1980s, a GISS scientist, Richard Stothers, discovered that the impact cratering record on Earth displays a certain regularity. Wholesale bombardments by large meteoroids seem to have recurred at intervals of 30 to 35 million years. He also noticed that this magic number seems to be close to the length of time the Solar System needs to move up from and back down to the plane of our disk-like galaxy of stars, the Milky Way. Astronomers have known for a long time that, in its revolution around the central mass of our galaxy, the Solar System performs such an up-and-down motion quite regularly, like a horse on a merry-go-round. Material lying mostly near the galactic plane tugs with its gravitational force on objects only loosely bound to the Solar System, like the distant comets that occupy a vast halo far beyond the orbit of Pluto. Many of these shaken comets then rain down in a shower toward the Sun, much as ripe apples drop from a tall tree during a windstorm. Our Earth intercepts some of the infalling comets. The biggest gravitational disturbances of the outer comet halo are believed to be made by close encounters with very massive objects, like the huge clouds of gas and dust that lie between the stars....

The only question is how big of a collision, and what the damage will be. The last time we were hit was about 35 million years ago, by two meteors (one hitting Russia and the other creating a large crater at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.) These caused mass extinction of animal species on the planet, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the mass extinction cased by the previous crossing of the galactic plane some 65 million years ago. That collision with just one huge meteor killed off all the dinosaurs and left a magma crater just off the Yucatan Peninsula which is so big that it's only visible by special satellite imaging. So based on all the evidence and calculations, we are due to cross the galactic plane anytime now, but keep in mind that the word "anytime" in galactic terms could mean anytime within the next one million years. The odds of that happening in 2012, based on the cycle of an agrarian calendar, designed by the Mayan civilization thousands of years ago, are extremely slim. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would put my money on the world NOT ending in 2012, and laugh all the way to the bank on January 1st, 2013.

Yes, astronomical science, along with the geologic record, seem to indicate that our world will soon end -- soon meaning within a million years. It could be a smaller catastrophe that will simply change the world as we know it. Or it could be a larger cataclysm that will end the age of the mammals much in the same way the meteor 65 million years ago ended the age of the dinosaurs. Our Catholic Christian religion teaches us that mankind's demise will come a different way, involving a final trial against the forces of evil, resulting in a general judgment of God upon all the nations. How this relates to earth crossing the galactic plane, if at all, is completely unknown, and it would be foolish to speculate on such things. So let's not.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Conservative Bishop = Booming Vocations

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The evidence speaks for itself. A strong orthodox bishop begets a thriving diocese, and that in turn begets a boom in vocations. Want to solve the priest shortage? The solution is simple. Go staunch conservative! Go ORTHODOX! If this happened in every diocese throughout the nation, within ten years, the priest shortage problem would be solved!
(CNA) - Encouraging and supporting vocations to the priesthood and religious life has been a top priority for Bishop Robert Finn since his installation in the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph. Currently, the diocese has nearly 30 men studying to become diocesan priests while others have been called to nearby religious orders.

While 27 men are currently in various stages of formation to serve as diocesan priests in the diocese, others have been called to different communities. Over the past year, at least three women and one young man from the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph entered religious life in other dioceses. Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioner Rebecca Restivo entered the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. St. Pius X grad Therese Ringel and St. Mary's High School alumna Lisa Gordon both entered the School Sisters of Christ the King in Lincoln, Nebraska. O'Hara High School grad and Benedictine alumn, Carl Baker, recently became a novice at St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas...

read full story here