Formerly the Thinking Catholic Strategic Center
Vic Biorseth, https://www.catholicamericanthinker.com
We American Catholics often are not even aware of how blessed we are to live and practice our faith, here, in America. There is an amazing and beautiful complimentary synthesis between this unique and historically new thing I call Americanism and the ancient faith of Catholicism.
Now, if you have read many of my previous blogs or WebPages, you might think I'm contradicting myself here, because I've come down so hard on American political issues on the one hand, and on the full Catholic Catechesis as maintained and handed on by American Catholic bishops on the other.
Recognizing that it is not and never will be absolutely perfect, the United States of America still represents the best thing going in the world today, and stands out as a light of the world, and a city set on a hill. (Matt 5:14) We Americans are always going to bicker and argue about contentious issues; the important thing is that we are free to do that. As imperfect human beings, we are, sooner or later, going to screw up and make bad decisions, both individually and collectively. But the important thing to remember is that we have a voice. We, the people, are driving the American bus. It rarely goes in the wrong direction for very long, because we can correct our past mistakes, if we don't go off a cliff first.
To see the beautiful synthesis I'm talking about, don't look so much at our current or past history, or at current political issues, or at political Parties and positions; look, rather at our founding documents. Look at the American Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the writings of the founders. There you will find the American Ideal that is at the core of Americanism. Which encourages individual liberty tempered by responsibility and a sense of duty.
Similarly, the Holy Roman Catholic Church Militant here on Earth, although guided by the Holy Ghost, is made up of and governed by imperfect men who may on occasion be expected, like us, to screw up and make bad decisions. Even the pope is human. While it may be categorically stated that no pope has ever taught error to the universal Church on any matter involving faith and morals, it may not be said that all popes were impeccable in their behavior and in their decisions not relating to universal teaching of faith and morals. Some of our popes have been pretty bad characters, and I have written elsewhere in this site, predominantly under the Cafeteria Catholic buttons, about the sloppy, heterodox and even heretical full catechesis of most of our American bishops.
Again, to see the beautiful synthesis I'm talking about, don't look so much at our current or past Catholic controversies, or at current political issues, or even at current official catechesis in American dioceses, but at our founding documents. Look at the Holy Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the writings of the Church Fathers, the universal teachings of the Councils and the popes. There you will find the full, whole, unchanged, salvific Gospel that is at the core of Catholicism. Which encourages, on a purely voluntary, free-will basis, individual love of God, and freedom from sin tempered by a sense of responsibility for others, and a sense of individual and collective purpose.
In the theoretically ideal situation, in both Catholicism and Americanism, the individual adult properly raised to have a well-formed moral conscience, and the larger voting culture operating from a proper common moral guiding ethos, when free to do so, will generally operate to improve the condition of themselves, their families, their neighbors and their surroundings. Over time, they will become more healthy, more wealthy, and more wise, and more of them will attain everlasting life. Of course, we're talking about the ideal situation here.
We've seen our liturgical changes and liturgical abuses, and our catechetical abuses, and even the scandalous sexual abuses, over the last several decades, and we see clear and obvious major differences in physical churches, prayers and liturgies, from church to church, today. We hear public arguments about church closings, church combining, declining priest numbers and rising Catholic laity numbers, and we wonder who is now driving the Catholic bus in America. The churches that close always seem to be the more conservative ones; the ones that stay open always seem to be the more liberal ones. Catholic demographics are changing. Younger Catholic generations are moving from the decaying cities out to the expanding suburbs. Even as the lay Catholic population grows dramatically, the inner city parish attendance appears to be in free-fall.
As I have said elsewhere in this site, most American bishops, seeking to bring about a feminine and/or non-celibate Catholic priesthood as quietly and unobtrusively as possible, are not proactively doing the clear and obvious things that need to be done to increase priestly vocations among orthodox Catholic men. Indeed, the process appears specifically designed to discourage orthodox Catholic men from even applying. So that, when the numbers of priests are low enough, they can just throw up their helpless little hands and say, "see, we now have no choice; we have to ordain women and/or non-celibate men, because we simply don't have enough celibate men to man our parishes."
To which we, and Rome, are expected to respond, well, gee whiz and gosharooties, I guess that's right, if you say so. But - just between you, me, and the gatepost - I doubt if we, or Rome, will respond that way. Hopefully, the Church in America might be in for a good house cleaning before it gets to that point.
We have today in America many Catholic clerics and theologians whose over-emphasis of Social Justice issues and promotion of Liberation Theology reveals a streak of underlying Secularist Marxism, which is antithetical and antagonistic to Catholicism and to Americanism. I'm sure we're not alone there; Protestant denominations, too, have their own clerical and theological political activists of varying stripe and spot. We are Americans, living in America. Part of being a good American means using our intellect and cognitive abilities to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the secular from the ecclesial parts of a message, whether from the Ambo or from the Bully-Pulpit.
But what today causes the most arguments, spiritual stress, drop-off in attendance and parish-shopping among older practicing Catholics in America involves radical changes in church design and radical changes in liturgy. The changes always seem to be at the expense of ancient tradition, which is apparently seen and presumed, in most American diocesan quarters, as somehow being bad and not preferred. The absolutely radical and quite sudden liturgical changes witnessed in American Catholic churches after Vatican II caused a major disruption in American Catholic prayer life, to say the very least.
Among other problems, it precipitated the St. Pius X split, or schism, of the Lefebvre-ites, from the Catholic Church. The Society of St. Pius X, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, sought to continue the Old Mass in accordance with the old 1962 missal and the pre-1962 missals. The Lefebvre-ites and other schismatics continue the Tridentine Mass and consider the Novus Ordo Mass to be heretical, partially because of changes in actual liturgical words, and partially because Pius V, in 1570, strongly reinforced the Tridentine Mass and Missal in his Apostolic Constitution "Quo Primum", in which he established the ipso facto excommunication of any future violators.
However, we must remember, no matter how much we might come to love it, Church liturgy still comes under the heading of small-t tradition, as opposed to large-T Tradition, as represented by articles of the Creed, or dogma, or the strongest and longest held doctrines of the Church, which come out of the unchanging Depositum Fidei. The exact rubrics of the Tridentine Mass were not used by Christ at the Last Supper, nor were they used by the Apostles and the other disciples when they came together on Sundays (Acts 20:7) for the breaking of the bread and the prayers. And Pius V left an exception, in saying without Our approval and consent, in which the "Our" is interpreted to be the Royal Our, meaning the reigning pontiff. Who granted approval. The Church (meaning, the Magisterium) and the Church alone establishes correct liturgy; not you, not me, and not Lefebvre. Unlike America, the Church is not a Democracy; we do not get to vote on this.
These schismatics claim that all the popes since Vatican II are anti-popes and that the Church is in some sort of suspended animation or something until a real pope comes along. And all of this is based on nothing more than liturgy. These people are almost as off-base as the wildest of the new liturgists who brought about the worst of the liturgical abuses we've all seen. We all just need to get over it. The Novus Ordo Mass is quite beautiful when properly offered. There is only one Church, and one ultimate authority, and if we don't like the new liturgy, then we are called to adhere to the new liturgical teaching with a submission of faith. Put your faith in the Church He founded, and guides. You can still find a lot of decent Catholic churches here, and you can still participate in a perfectly valid Catholic Mass. And I can testify that after you've participated enough times, it will become your fixed tradition. Hopefully, they won't change it again for awhile.
Even as liberal as so many diocesan churches seem to be getting today, you would probably have to undergo quite a search to find one that didn't offer a valid Mass. You have available missals to purchase and use, or missalettes usually available in the church pews for your use. In them, you will find that there are four Eucharistic Prayers available for the presiding priest; the normal one for use in Sunday Mass is Eucharistic Prayer Number 1 in the Order of the Mass in the Roman Canon. (The priest is not bound by this; he can use any of the four.) Follow along with him the first few times and see how he adheres to (or deviates from) the prescribed rubrics of the sacred liturgy.
We know a priest who, to the line ...it will be shed for you and for all ..., regularly adds in the words, men and women, boys and girls. Does this invalidate the consecration? I don't think so. We know another priest who, in the Communion Rite, to the words, ...and protect us from all anxiety..., regularly adds the words, fear, oppression and war. Again, it is doubtful if this in any way invalidates the Mass. Not too cool, but not invalid either. Clearly it is not as important to our bishops as it is to most of us, or priests wouldn't be so commonly, regularly and continually adding in their own favorite words. Your missal or missalette will let you know if your priest is getting way off course.
Do not solely blame the priest for these kinds of infractions; he received his priestly formation within a seminary under the guidance and sole responsibility of a bishop.
There is a general rule, regarding a licit, meaning legal, and a valid, meaning real, sacrament. The most serious offense involves the invalidity of the sacrament, which means, the actual sacrament did not really occur. This is more rare than one would think. The lesser offence is offering an illicit sacrament, which means that something about it was illegal, but the sacrament still really occurred. A Mass can be, at once, illicit, and still valid.
There are four requirements for a Catholic Mass to be valid.
All the other parts of the Eucharistic Prayer are essentially preparatory or praising. Changing these other, non-consecrating words, is gravely sinful for the priest, but they do not invalidate the Consecration. Other liturgical infractions, such as improper vestments do not invalidate a Mass, although they may make it illicit, and gravely sinful for the priest.
If you've been away for awhile, let me assure you, it's not as bad as you probably think. We manage to go to perfectly valid and perfectly licit Mass every Sunday, Holy Day, and often even on weekdays. I think there are more normal Masses available than illicit ones. By the same token, we do know some churches in the Dayton area, and in the Detroit area, that we now avoid, if we can. Luckily, we belong to a really good Group of Ethnic Churches in Old North Dayton (we belong to the Lithuanian one,) and we get to go to Assumption Grotto church when we visit Michigan. And, we live right around the corner from Saint Peter's church.
If you're thinking about coming back to the real Catholic Church, then I encourage you to visit and take a look at some of your local churches, and talk to some pastors. No, I'm not just talking to you, Mike; you're not the only one with these questions. When you find a good church, join it. Get involved. Get on the parish council or something; whatever's needed, look into it, and become an active part of the community.
The important thing about true devotion is that the devotee not be satisfied to just attend, or just participate, or to just fulfill the Sunday obligation. Remember the question of the rich young man, whose thoughts were already moving in the right direction: this I have already done; what more must I do? There is always something more you can do.
After all, a major part of the church is - us.
Sarcastic Acronym Hover-Link Footnotes: For the convenience of those readers using devices that lack a mouse, these footnotes are provided for all webpages, in case any webpage contains any hover-links. (If you don't have a mouse, you can't "hover" it over a link without clicking just to see the simple acronym interpretation. Click any footnote link to see the gory details.)SLIMC1 Secularist Liberal Intellectual Media Complex
The Brilliantly Conceived Organization of the USA; Vic Biorseth
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Saturday, December 08,
Converted Page to SBI! Release 3.0 BB 2.0.
Date: Thu Aug 14 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
Changes pursuant to changing the website URL
and name from
Thinking Catholic Strategic Center to
Catholic American Thinker.
Pulled the trigger on the 301 MOVE IT option June 1, 2014. Working my way through all the webpages. .
Date: Wed Aug 13 23:01:53 2014
From: B.J. Jr.
Saying that "Americanism and Catholicism are complimentary ideals" reveals ignorance of the heresy of Americanism condemned by Leo XIII in the encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae addressed to James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore. Leo addressed the fierce secularization of Europe since the French Revolution and warned of the same thing advancing in America under the miss-guidance of several American Bishops. What he warned about was a growing "separation of Church and state" that would lead to such an extreme individualism as to separate Catholics from their Church and from their faith.
Date: Thu Aug 14 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
At the time I wrote this webpage I was indeed ignorant of "Americanism" as defined by Pope Leo XIII. It was brought to my attention by submitted comments on other pages since then; I neglected to come back to this one and readdress it appropriately.
At the time of the encyclical (1899) there was no American Constitutional principle of Separation of Church and State, a "principle" I have condemned, as you can see at that link. As a Constitutional Principle, it still does not exist, since it is not in the Constitution. It was established as a legal precedent by the Supreme Court in an unconstitutional exhibition of raw judicial power, in which the Court usurped the sole authority of Congress to make new law. "Legal Precedent" established it in law for all future cases. It remains to be declared unconstitutional, null and no legal precedent by an executive branch or a legislative branch with the guts to do it.
Leo XIII was addressing, primarily, the rabid anti-clericalism and social secularizing, begun in the French Revolution and spreading throughout Europe. He saw the same thing beginning in America.
America was a divergence from the rabidly enforced state religions of Calvinism, Lutheranism, Church of England, etc., and was Constituted to not be or allow state power over religion at all. We can see that state power over religion ultimately resulted in state enforced atheism in France. If that sort of thing were allowed into government, the religion of the people would always depend upon the religion or belief system of the king of the moment.
America was to have no kings. America was to have the law only. Everyone, including the highest government official, was to be subject to the same law. Thus, we are ruled only by our own Constitution, the supreme law of the land. We have no nobility; we are a nation of laws.
Alexis de Tocqueville warned of how our "greatness" as a nation depended entirely upon our "goodness" as a people, and that our individual "goodness" depended upon individual adherence to our common American Touchstone moral code. So long as we the people maintain our Judeo-Christian guiding ethos, and stick to our Constitution, our representative law will represent the ethos of the people.
The treacherous lies of Secularism, Marxism and Islam are working overtime to undo all of that, with great success. But, what must be recognized by all who read Leo's letter to Gibbons, is that the radical Combination of Church and State, as a governing principle, was an invention of Martin Luther in the Reformation, which we described in the Cultural Battle Line. America was founded and Constituted to avoid all that.
Never be lukewarm.
Life itself demands passion.
He who is indifferent to God has already forfeited his soul.
He who is indifferent to politics has already forfeited his liberty.
In America, religion is not mere window dressing and citizenship is not a spectator sport.
Do not allow our common destiny as a whole people to just happen without your input.
Seek the Truth; find the Way; live the Life; please God, and live forever.
Catholic American Thinker
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Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and
broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in
thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life:
and few there are that find it! Beware of false prophets, who come to you in
the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Jesus Christ; Matt 7:13-15
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