Lectures on Fatima: Miracle, Messages, and the Church Today

There is a remarkable amount of great content in these videos. I have become increasingly interested in the Marian apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. Consequently, I’ve been digging into various lecture series, etc.

There is no little risk in speculating on symbolic prophecy, and that is true with these lectures. However, given the seriousness of the Fatima miracle and messages, and given the state the Church and world is in today, there is the need to at least dive in deep and put some pieces together. This lecture serious by a traditionalist priest does just that. It is worth taking the time. I cannot speak to the completeness of his analysis, or the verity of his conclusions, but if he is right then we may want to increase our prayers significantly.

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3 Reasons to Study Latin (for Normal People, Not Language Geeks)

This is a good video.

We homeschool and participate in Classical Conversations, the organization behind this video. Latin is not easy to learn or to teach. I have tried to learn it. I once led a seminar for homeschoolers part of which meant I had to address the question of how one teaches Latin. Fortunately I recruited several people to help me. I still don’t know Latin. But I agree with everything in this video. It’s a good thing to learn Latin and to teach your kids Latin.

If you know someone who is thinking of learning Latin, or adding it to their homeschooling curriculum, or struggling with either learning or teaching Latin, share this video with them.

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We are not contending against flesh and blood…

satan

A lot of Christians in the U.S. publicly complain about persecution at the hands of the godless secular society. They are sued, or spit on, or yelled at, or denied service, or given the stink eye, or sent bad tweets — and they wail against the injustice. A lot of Christians fight back, protesting, holding signs, denouncing their enemies, and even using the court system to make others treat Christians better. And, sadly, many Christian attack each other too. They publicly call out their brothers and sisters before other Christians as well as the godless society at large. They do this on social media of course, but also in the courts.

A lot of Catholics also complain about the Church, about bad bishops and bad popes, about weak leadership and false doctrine. They complain about bad liturgy and poor catechesis. Why doesn’t the Church do this, or that? What’s wrong with all those other Catholics? Why are they destroying the Church?

In short, Christians look at other people and see the enemy. This is not unique to Christians but, if you are a Christian, consider these words from St. Paul:

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Do we take these words seriously? If we did what would we be doing differently?

I know Catholics who hate Pope Francis. They complain and denigrate the holy father. I’ve written before about my struggles with the pope. I understand the struggle, but who is the real enemy here?

If the German bishops have gone off the deep end and are very publicly courting heresy, are they the enemy? If Vatican II has wrought such damage, as some say, who is the real culprit? Many Catholics in Ireland just voted in favor of abortion, and then they loudly celebrate their win. Who’s victory is that really?

People have always dug wells where they believe they will find water. But why do they think water is where they think it is? Why do so many people make poor choices? Why do so many people reject God? Why is there so much evil in the world?

No human is innocent. We all have free will. We all must face judgement. But is the real battle between me, who is a sinner, and you, who is also a sinner? If we choose to love then has not the conflict ceased altogether? To battle is to seek the other’s defeat. To love is to seek their salvation. To be a Christian is to be Christ to others, and point them to Him.

We are living in a creation that is running wild with demons. Sin and Satan are the forces at work. They will have their way if we do not fight them. But it is God, in fact, who fights our battles for us. The winds of the modernist demons have swept powerfully around the globe for the past 200 years. They have caught up millions of souls, including priests and bishops and even popes, and certainly many, many Christians. The spirit of the age is the spirit of the evil one — some might argue it is also the spirit of Vatican II. I hope not, but I’ll let you judge.

Our battle, then, is not with each other. Our battle is against Satan and all his works and all his empty show. Put on the armor of God. Remember your baptism. Take up your cross. Rejoice in your sufferings. Love others as Christ has loved you. Let God and His mighty angels fight your battles.

And lean into the fight. Carry the banner. Do not be afraid. God is with you. Trust Him. Pray, and pray, and keep praying.

I write these words because I need to hear them more than I need to write them, but there they are.

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

St_Michael_Raphael

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Out of Place Hymns: Considering the Four-Hymn Sandwich & the Ontological Nature of the Mass

medieval singers

Have you ever felt that the hymns we sing at Mass* seem out of place?

Catholics love to argue about which hymns are good and which are bad. Even lists have been compiled ranking the worst Catholic hymns. And yes, there are some awful hymns that, for some mysterious reason, continue to be “favorites” at Mass. But, if you sense that the real issue might be something more than merely poor song writing and poor taste, then I think you might be right.

Music is appropriate for Mass, of course, but Mass is fundamentally an act of worship and prayer. Therefore, if a hymn is not specifically an act of worship or prayer then it feels out of place regardless of how good it is. Given the nature of the Mass, it makes sense that if we are going to sing then we are to sing the Mass itself, not merely sing at Mass. The Mass itself is the act of worship. Anything else is just that, something else.

Most hymns are not prayers, and not truly or fully acts of worship either, even though the music team is often called the “worship team” in many Protestant churches.

Consider that hymns are common for Protestants precisely because Protestants lack the Real Presence in their church services. They have hymn singing (most often modern “worship style” songs designed to manipulate the emotions, which is what many Christians actually want to happen) and preaching. Hymns are an attempt by Protestants to make the Real Presence present — to ascend to Heaven or to bring Heaven down. The emotions are often there, but any knowledgeable Catholic knows it’s not the same thing, not by a mile. That’s why there has been such a push by Protestants to make church like a mini concert designed to hype, often at the cost of other qualities, the emotional aspects of music. I like concerts, but that’s not what Mass is, or should be.

The thing about most hymns is this: they are about us, about how we feel and especially how we want to think about ourselves. A really effective modern hymn is like a pat on the back. Of course they can also be about God, the gospel, the Christian life, etc, but usually we Catholics, with the “Catholic” hymn fed typically to us, get rather bland verbiage wrapped within saccharine music (or was that saccharine verbiage within bland music?). None of these things are necessarily bad in themselves (though bland and saccharine are not true forms of beauty). Singing is a good and very human thing. Emotions are good too. Rather, the issue is they don’t fit within a Mass because of what a Mass is.

If Christ is truly present then it does not make sense to sing most of the hymns we do at Mass, rather we should be silent or praying. Prayers can, and often should, be sung. Gregorian chant is singing prayers — and very beautiful. Traditional polyphony is also singing prayers — and very beautiful. The prayers are part of Mass. They are us, or the priest, talking directly to God.

If the Mass on earth is a reflection of the Mass being celebrated at all times in Heaven are they in Heaven too singing Gather Us In? or On Eagles’ Wings? or The King of Glory? or I Am the Bread of Life? etc. etc.

Honestly, I cannot imagine they are. I even think they see us and weep. Perhaps I’m being too dramatic.

Regardless, it seems true that the four hymns at a Novus Ordo Mass, sometimes called the “four-hymn sandwich,” jar us because they are not prayers, they are not actually part of the Mass at all. In fact, they actually break up the flow of the Mass. They pull us out of the forward action of Mass calling us to worship. They keep us distracted, like how sporting events now have rock music and jumbotrons blasting continuously lest anyone should have a moment of reflection or personal thought. With the new Mass there is now very little opportunity for the laity to actually pray at Mass. These hymns are like obstacles on our ascent to the heavenly liturgy, pulling us aside just when our focus on God was beginning to crystalize. We sing hymns mostly to fill in the “gaps” so we stay “engaged.” Why?! The sad truth is that most of the time they do exactly the opposite.

Debating which hymns to sing at Mass becomes pointless if they should not be there in the first place.

This is one of the reasons I believe so many Catholics do not sing at Mass. Not because of a conscious protest, or because they do not like singing, or because the Novus Ordo Mass just needs more time to get more firmly established, or because the hymns are generally so terrible (which they often are), but because at some inarticulate level it doesn’t feel right to sing hymns at Mass the way Protestants sing hymns.

Mass is something fundamentally and radically different than a Protestant church service. Ontologically they are entirely different species. Many have argued that the “spirit of Vatican II” is, in large part, about denying and abandoning much of what the Catholic Church actually is and becoming more modern like the Protestants, and thus they made the Mass to be more like a Protestant church service and less like a Mass. I would hold up as evidence the way hymns have been inserted into the new Mass as one piece of a larger puzzle that strongly suggests this perspective is true. It would seem that far too many Catholics in the 1960’s and 1970’s, especially bishops and priests, became deeply embarrassed about Catholicism and its so-called “trappings” and thus felt impelled to change it.

So much for the spirit of the council, if not the council itself.

Strangely, the switch to singing at Mass from singing the Mass seems to have been anticipated, and in the same year the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated no less:

Query: Many have inquired whether the rule still applies that appears in the Instruction on sacred music and the liturgy, 3 Sept. 1958, no. 33: “In low Masses religious songs of the people may be sung by the congregation, without prejudice, however, to the principle that they be entirely consistent with the particular parts of the Mass.”

Reply: That rule has been superseded. What must be sung is the Mass, its Ordinary and Proper, not “something,” no matter how consistent, that is imposed on the Mass. Because the liturgical service is one, it has only one countenance, one motif, one voice, the voice of the Church. To continue to replace the texts of the Mass being celebrated with motets that are reverent and devout, yet out of keeping with the Mass of the day (for example, the Lauda Sion on a saint’s feast) amounts to continuing an unacceptable ambiguity: it is to cheat the people. Liturgical song involves not mere melody, but words, text, thought, and the sentiments that the poetry and music contain. Thus texts must be those of the Mass, not others, and singing means singing the Mass not just singing at Mass. [Notitiae 5 (1969) 406. Emphasis added]

Singing means singing the Mass not just singing at Mass.

So… if we find ourselves arguing that the hymns are so bad, are we saying they should be better quality so us Catholics can finally be just like the Protestants? Or are we saying, perhaps without fully grasping what we mean, that we should give up the new Mass for a more appropriate Mass where music exists to serve our praying and our true worship of the Real Presence rather than to fill in gaps? In other words, when we say the hymns are bad, are we actually meaning the Novus Ordo Mass is bad?

At least let’s try to be clear what it is we are arguing for, and against.


*Of course, I’m referring to the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

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The Catholic Church: Builder of Civilization (Video Series)

Thomas Woods is a radio and television commentator, libertarian, Catholic, and the author of numerous books including How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (2005). I know almost nothing about him, but I have read some of this book, which I thought was good. The book was turned into a video lecture series. Here’s episode one:

The rest of the episodes can be found here.

I find it interesting that again and again when people dig deep into the history of the Church they tend to develop a strong anti-Vatican II bias. One of Woods’ earliest books is: The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church, which he co-authored with Christopher Ferrara, a Catholic pro-life attorney, activist, and journalist, and regular columnist for The Remnant, a traditionalist Catholic newspaper.

I’m not anti-Vatican II, but I do have some sympathies for those who struggle with that council. As of now I would rather be in the camp that says it’s the abuse of the council that has caused so much trouble. However, I’m still studying and trying to be open minded.

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France is paying for 2,800 Cathedrals & Churches to be Demolished across France

It’s sad to see a beautiful Catholic church building destroyed. The video below shows some demolition moments from a church destruction earlier this year in France. But for how sad the video is, the churches demolition is really just a symptom of many other factors.

Those factors include such things as:

  1. The French government and not the Church itself owns all the Church buildings. And many of these buildings are old and in need of major repairs, and are unsafe if not repaired — the one above was going to be quite expensive to repair. And though beautiful, they don’t attract enough tourism to warrant their survival.
  2. A Church whose membership numbers have been in free-fall for decades. Thus there just are not the numbers to keep the churches filled with parishioners and, consequently, financially supported. There are a lot of reasons for this, but certainly they include: Too many priests and bishops who no longer believe in the faith, but have found careers essentially live action roll-playing being priests and bishops. Modernism and all its mutant children, including bad theology, a lightweight view of marriage, and rampant sexual immorality seem to have replaced a hearty and robust faith — and few are interested anymore. And many Church leaders often seem eager to dismantle the Church.
  3. Consequently very few Catholics are left who have the means and are willing to save these old churches. It’s easy to bemoan the loss on social media, it’s another thing altogether to step up and contribute where needed, even to fight for it.

And the list goes on. The point is, however, that we should not be surprise at all about the destruction of this church. What we should be is sad. But not so much for this building as for the Church itself, and for the world that is so actively and happily rejecting Christ. If anything, the above video is a powerful reminder of how the Church has been, and is continuing to be, assailed from within by a Catholic leadership who no longer has faith, and a laity who follows suit.

This is the text from the video notes:

This is the last moments of Église Saint-Jacques d’Abbeville (St. Jack’s Church Abbeville). France is paying for 2,800 Cathedrals & Churches to be Demolished across France. The Saint-Jacques church was a neo-Gothic parish church located in Abbeville The building was constructed from 1868 to 1876 at the site of 12th century church which was rebuilt in 1482. It gradually deteriorated for lack of maintenance at the beginning of the 21th century and was demolished from January to May 2013. Architect Victor Delefortrie was responsible for the design of the church. The church contained two bells, Jacqueline from 1737 and another, mute, dated 1645. Inside, there was a particular organ called Mutin Cavaillé-Coll from 1906. During World War I , Abbeville was bombed but Saint-Jacques church was not affected. Only impacts shattered the windows. It also survived World War 2. In 2008, it was estimated that it would cost 4.2 million euro to restore the church from weather damage and disrepair. In 2010, an association was created to safeguard the church and a petition was launched. In spring 2011, while deciding on its fate a crack was noticed which had caused stone to fall from the church. The 31 January 2013, Nicolas Dumont, the mayor of Abbeville, issued an order to demolish the church as a safety hazard. The next 7 February, the city council voted to demolish the church at estimated cost of EUR 350 000. On April 27, the foundation stone was found and preserved by the city. In November 2013, the rubble of the church are used by two artists to create a work of contemporary art entitled Build/deconstructed. A town square was proposed for its replacement. The project was the work of an architect in the city, Jean-Marc Demoulin, who accommodated the desires of the residents. A lawn of grass covers the church’s location, taking its shape and orientation. Two pathways form a cross. At the site of the choir, a memorial will be erected to honor veterans and Achilles Paillart, the pastor responsible for the church’s reconstruction in 1868. A small pond will occupy the site of the altar The conversion also included the creation of forty-two parking spaces on the perimeter of the square, including three for people with reduced mobility.

The story as told above doesn’t seem as horrible as the video images first seem, but it’s still a terrible situation. I do not know if it’s entirely true about how many churches France is paying to demolish. 2,800 seems rather high, but my gut says it’s probably true. Is there hope for France and its churches? Can these buildings be saved? Can the Catholic Church in France rise from the ashes? If Christ returns will He find faith in France?

I pray every day for the Church in France.

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Radical Feminism: Voices from 1969-1970 and beyond

Here’s a fascinating time-capsule from a key time in the feminist movement. Certainly it is dated, and some of it may seem a bit corny to us today, but the core message is still powerful and shocking — and not surprising too.

From a traditional Catholic perspective one can easily see why feminism, at least as it is presented here, was seen as incompatible with Catholicism — it has at its core the destruction of the traditional family. On the other hand, consider how much feminist thinking has entered into our culture and, in many ways, become the de facto position. Something about feminism captivated the collective consciousness of vast swaths of western culture and beyond, and has stayed with us and continued to influence and shape our culture.

In many ways this video is so sad — so much heartbreak beneath the surface of power posturing and strident demands. Consider where our society had to gotten to in order for these women, and so many others, to feel as they did. On the other hand, it’s fascinating to consider how such a radical change in attitudes may have also had a demonic element. I think it’s likely a lot of different elements and motivations were at play, some good and some bad.

And then three years later, this…

More “throwback” videos here.

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