The Portal Magazine is out!

UPDATE:  Brother John-Bede also responds to an article in The Portal here, complete with links to sublime music on “A Tudor Mass sung in Hampshire.”


The monthly magazine of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, The Portal, is out and has several interesting articles You can read The Portal online here.

These comments from Fr. Mark Woodruff, chairman of the Society of St. John Chrysostom are most interesting:

“Why can’t they just integrate as normal Catholics?” Bemused at the prospect of Anglicans with their own patrimony, some sensed an exclusive import for those who thought Catholicism was not good enough as it was. Aidan Nichols, however, pointed out that English Catholicism has four ingredient traditions – those descending from the undivided pre-Reformation Ecclesia Anglicana; those who migrated from Ireland; the 19th and 20th century converts; and the diaspora from the whole world in the 20th and 21st – but what was missing was the lived experience of the 450-year tradition of liturgical worship in English, and a distinct pastoral-spiritual engagement in life, culture and society to which Catholicism had never been able to address itself from within. The Ordinariate offers this.

Catholics once anxious about its suspected abnormality now wonder where the mainstream Sunday use of Divine Worship as the manifestation of Church and Gospel in such a classic English voice is to be found in more than a handful of places. The writer is a Latin priest serving in a Byzantine Catholic Church that adds its accent to conveying the Catholic faith in an environment that is now less attuned to any form of Christianity. Imagine if the Syriac Christians who rediscovered communion with Peter in 1626 had “just integrated as normal Catholics”.

Go on over and read the whole thing.

Many interesting articles, including some on prison ministry, since some Ordinariate priests are prison chaplains.



A critique of Alpha

In an earlier post on what parishes in the Ordinariate might do to bring seekers into the fold, I recommended the Alpha Course.

Many Catholic parishes in Canada are now using the Alpha Course to re-evangelize cradle Catholics and to reach out to the unchurched.  Some are meeting tremendous success with this approach, such as St. Benedict’s in Halifax.   Fr. James Mallon, former pastor of St. Benedict’s wrote a book about St. Benedict’s parish renewal using Alpha called Divine Renovation.

I came across this critique of the Alpha Course that includes a recommendation Catholic parishes not use it.  Here’s the link and an excerpt:

The General Directory for Catechesis says, “It is the task of catechesis to show who Jesus Christ is, his life and ministry, and to present the Christian faith as the following of his personÖ. The fact that Jesus Christ is the fullness of Revelation is the foundation for the ëChristocentricityí of catechesis: the mystery of Christ, in the revealed message, is not another element alongside others, it is rather the center from which all other elements are structured and illumined.” GDC 41. If Alpha does anything well, it is this; and this is perhaps one of the reasons for its popularity. It is meant to introduce an inquirer to the person of Jesus Christ.

We can affirm as well Alphaís desire to include a number of elements that the Vatican 2 decree Ad Gentes saw as vital to evangelization: “Christian witness, dialogue and presence in charity (GDC 11-12),” and “the proclamation of the Gospel and the call to conversion (GDC 13).” Catholic Alpha acknowledges that from this must follow more detailed catechesis through the catechumenate and initiation into the Catholic community. The GDC speaks of “essential moments” in the process of evangelization, and we can affirm that an initial proclamation to non-believers and the unchurched is going to be distinct from the catechesis of those already introduced to Christ, and for which it lays the foundation. GDC 47

Primary proclamation (the responsibility of all Christians) implies “a going-out, a haste, a message,” while catechesis “starts with the condition indicated by Jesus himself: ëwhosoever believes,í whosoever converts, whosoever decides. Both activities are essential and mutually complementary: go and welcome, proclaim and educate, call and incorporate.” Alpha could be seen as an attempt to accomplish the first. But though primary proclamation and catechesis are distinct, we cannot rigidly separate them, and that is what Alpha seems to suggest by saying that “distinctives” must be left to a “supplementary” program. There must be some content, which provides the basis for the decision to follow Christ; thus the GDC speaks of a “kerygmatic catechesis” or a “pre-catechesis,” which paves the way for “a solid option of faith.” GDC 61-62. We are to have “a single program of evangelization which is both missionary and catechumenal.” GDC 277

The object of catechesis is communion with Jesus Christ. Again, we can affirm the central emphasis of Alpha. “ëThe definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ.í All evangelizing activity is understood as promoting communion with Jesus Christ. Starting with the ëinitialí conversion of a person to the Lord, catechesis seeks to solidify and mature this first adherence.” GDC 80

However, the GDC insists that his initiatory catechesis must be “a comprehensive and systematic formation in the faith.” We are to aim for “a ëcomplete Christian initiation,í which promotes an authentic following of Christ, focused on his Person.” It is “essential” and “common,” but not in the sense of being minimalist; for the GDC this means that we catechize “without entering into disputed questions nor transforming itself into a form of theological investigation.” GDC 67-68. “ÖCatechesis starts out with a simple proposition of the integral structure of the Christian message, and proceeds to explain it in a manner adapted to the capacity of those being catechized.” GDC 112. The guide to this structure is the Apostlesí Creed. GDC 115.

And the GDC rejects an individualistic piety, for “Communion with Jesus Christ, by its own dynamic, leads the disciple to unite himself with everything with which Jesus Christ himself was profoundly united: with God his Father, who sent him into the world, and with the Holy Spirit, who impelled his mission; with the Church, his body, for which he gave himself up, with mankind and with his brothers whose lot he wished to share.” GDC 81

The Church is thus not something that can be discussed as an afterthought to the Gospel message, but is the essential agent in the proclamation of the Gospel. “Catechesis is an essentially ecclesial act.” GDC 78. Christ founded the Church on the apostles, to whom he gave the Holy Spirit, sending them to preach the good news to the entire world. The Church through all ages bears the fullness of the divine Word, in Scripture and Tradition, guided by the Spirit speaking through the Magisterium. As the “universal sacrament of salvation,” the Church not only preaches the Gospel, but communicates Godís gifts in the sacraments. GDC 42-46.

All most interesting.  Your thoughts?

The blessing of asparagus and pets and Easter baskets . . .

UPDATE:  CBC Radio’s As It Happens reports on Gus the Asparagus Man and the controversy he engendered!  There are pictures and video!

Ha ha ha!

Rod Dreher at The American Conservative has a humorous post about a controversy in England among Anglicans over one parish’s blessing of the asparagus crop.

Dreher writes:

I am strongly inclined to disagree with the traditionalists here, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. What holds me back fully is that the image of a man dressed like a giant asparagus, participating in the church procession, does make it seem more like an asparagus growers’ promotion.

But leave that clown out, and, well, what’s the big deal? Why should we not ask God’s blessing on our crops, especially one that is so important to the local people within the cathedral’s parish? In south Louisiana fishing communities, Catholic priests bless the shrimp boats on the first day of the season. This sort of thing strikes me as very traditional, very medieval.

I recall seeing over Easter lots of pictures on Facebook of Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Easter baskets of food for the Easter feast being brought to church for blessing.

I’ve seen articles in the past about the blessing of pets;  the blessing of throats, and so on.

I like the idea of the blessing of houses and businesses.  What are your thoughts?

I, too, however, could do without “aparagus man” or mascots of any kind.

What’s in a name?

We have two Ordinariates named after Our Lady:  The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales; and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

In the United States, we have the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

I remember thinking when I heard the name of our North American Ordinariate that, wow, that name is going to make us a bit more of a hard sell from an ecumenical point of view.   And the Marian names of the other two, might also be a bit of a barrier. Let me explain.

When our parish was preparing to be received into the Catholic Church, there were two areas where we needed to focus our catechesis.

We were solid on the Sacraments, on the Creed and on the Church’s moral teaching.  Not much more than a refresher needed on that.

No, our weak areas had to do with ecclesiology and the role of the papacy, especially the sticky issue of papal infallibility and on the later Marian dogmas that had previously been treated as pious opinion to some extent.  We had some very Marian priests and bishops, and prayed the Angelus and so on, but we were not taught this was something we had to assent to, until we were getting ready to sign on the dotted line to join the Catholic Church.

Coming from an evangelical church to Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary I had an evangelical’s ignorance of Mary and her role in salvation.  Though I believed in the Virgin birth as a fundamental, non-negotiable part of the Christian faith, I didn’t give much thought to Our Lady.  We heard about Mary in Scripture readings around Christmas time and that’s about it.

So, I came to assent to the Marian dogmas as required and in good conscience but upon entering the Catholic Church five years ago, I would have described myself then as a Marian minimalist.

It was reading historian Roberto de Mattei’s fascinating The Second Vatican Council : an unwritten story that I caught a glimpse of the big debate about Mary at Vatican II, a debate between Marian maximalists who wanted the Council to declare Mary co-Redemptrix and the Marian minimalists who wanted to downplay Our Lady’s importance so as to not put off ecumencial observers.  The minimalists were more successful, in that instead of a separate document on Mary, Our Lady got a chapter in Lumen Gentium.

One of my friends, the late Mary Wells, developed a big devotion to Our Lady in the run-up to our becoming Catholic.  A member of Annunciation, she was prepared to leave to join the Roman Catholic Church, if the process of our community coming into the Catholic Church took too long.  She passed away a couple of years ago.   While I was reading de Mattei’s book about the Marian debates, I had an impression that could have been totally imaginary, that the Mary was speaking to me from wherever she was saying:  “Debby, I’m a maximalist!”

I smiled to myself and thought, gee, I’m becoming a maximalist myself.   I would have no trouble with a declaration of Mary as co-redemptrix.  I have made several Marian consecrations—as it is a yearly requirement of the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests, an apostolate I belong to.  I have found in entrusting myself to her, my crosses become sweeter, my spiritual life becomes easier, my growth in grace more effortless.  And no, she doesn’t eclipse Jesus, but helps me to love her Son more.

But it has taken deeper and deeper conversion to fully appreciate Our Lady, Our Blessed Mother.

As for papal infallibility.  I had no trouble, once I learned about the definition from the First Vatican Council, that limited papal infallibility nor did I have any trouble with the notion of the Successor of Peter as a sign of unity, a servant of the servants of God and the defender of the deposit of the faith.

Anyway—the names of our Ordinariates may be signs of our really, truly, finally being fully Catholic and proclaiming it far and wide.  But in a sense they speak of something I raised earlier—that we represent a “Finder’s religion,” the end point for people who have been searching for a long time.  How do we then take something that required lots of conversion and maturity to appreciate and make it seeker friendly?

Fr Hunwicke on vibrant Catholic life

Fr.  Hunwicke, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, has a blog post asking whether the Ordinariates can do something to restore something of the vibrant Catholic life he was reminded of in looking at an old Anglo-Catholic parish magazine.  Go on over to read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

The following ‘Vicar’s Notes’ attracted my attention; not least for the sense of a vibrant Catholic parish life during that decade when the Catholic movement in the Church of England was riding so very high. Jalland is writing about the observance of the Patronal Festival, of the Translation of S Thomas of Canterbury, on Saturday July 7.

“On that day there will be Masses at 6.30, 7.30, and a High Mass at 9. It is likely that the first evensong of the feast will be sung at 7.30 p.m., on Friday evening, at which there will be a Sermon by the Reverend Canon A.G.G. Ross, Vicar of St Mark, Swindon. It is hoped that there will be many who will take advantage of this opportunity of adding corporate worship to their personal preparation for the Feast. Confessions will be heard on several days before the Festival … On the Sunday in the Octave the Sermon at Mass will be preached by the Rev. C. Gill, of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, and after Evensong by the Rev.D Sargent, Vicar of St Cross, Holywell …”

Mass, fasting, before breakfast; multiple morning Masses and a High Mass on a weekday morning; First Evensongs; high jinks continuing into the Sunday within the Octave; lots of confessions; and oodles of Visiting Preachers. This is the Anglo-Catholicism which Betjeman remembered and celebrated in his verses, when the Faith was taught and fanned to a holy blaze. I suspect that those inter-war years were the last sparkling times before the Luftwaffe destroyed so many of the old Anglo-Catholic slum churches and dispersed the remnants of their congregations into suburbs and high-rise flats.

How can there be a restoration of vibrant parish life outside of only Sunday Mass when people no longer live within a short distance of their parish, even walking distance?  For Ordinariate parishes, people come from an even wider catchment area.  We have one consecrated hermit who drives at least an hour and a half one way to get to Mass.

There must  to be ways to do it, creative ways to teach the faith and fan it to a “holy blaze” given the distances people have to travel, the demands of work, and the rise of technology and social media.

Pray the offices!  That is one way to observe the First Evensongs and live daily inside the liturgical calendar.  We do have a stress on personal preparation for Lent and for Advent, with encouragement to go to Confession. (We are very blessed in the easy availability of our priests for the Sacrament) Perhaps we could add preparation for Annunciation, Ascension, Pentecost, Assumption, Immaculate Conception?

I like the idea of considering Visiting Preachers!

Ottawa Archbishop responds to blog

_MG_890555Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, who received our parish into the Catholic Church five years ago, not only retweeted my tweet of the post “The Myth of the Disgruntled Anglican,” he commented on it:

Replying to

The five years have passed very quickly: may your joy continually attract others to the Roman Catholic family…

What a blessed Archbishop Prendergast was to us in the run-up to our coming into the Catholic Church.  He continues to be a blessing to us and to the whole archdiocese which is alive with fruitful apostolates that he encourages.

Back in the days when our parish was a member of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada and so disdained by the Anglican Communion that many Catholic bishops did not want to associate with us because it might upset ecumenical partners, Archbishop Prendergast always had time for our clergy and treated them the same as he would any other clergy.

_MG_884237When we were received into the Catholic Church, he not only assigned a magnificent mentor priest, Fr. Francis Donnelly, a Companion of the Cross, to look after our Sunday Masses and be present while then Bishop Carl Reid led our catechesis to prepare for entry into the Catholic Church, Archbishop Prendergast came to celebrate our then Anglican Use Mass a few times.

He even took time out of his busy schedule to rehearse!  I kidded him whether he had to train for the ballet of genuflection in our Mass, but he said he was used to it since he also celebrates the Extraordinary Form at the Fraternal Society of St. Peter (FSSP) parish in the Ottawa archdiocese.  Our first Christmas Eve, when Fr. Francis was unable to come to celebrate Mass, nor could any of his brother Companions, Archbishop Prendergast came himself.  What tremendous paternal care he showed us!

_MG_884136.jpgWhen he received us into the Catholic Church, he again celebrated the Anglican Use Mass ad orientem.  Note the altar arrangement!  Fr. Francis proclaimed the Gospel. Archbishop Prendergast used some of the finest gold vestments in his cathedral sacristry for the occasion.

The gift of Fr. Francis meant that when he couldn’t come to celebrate Mass he would send a brother Companion.   One who came most frequently was the former General Superior of this wonderful charismatic, Marian, Eucharistic and Magisterial order, who is now Bishop Scott McCaig of Canada’s military Ordinariate.

The myth of the ‘disgruntled Anglican’

When Pope Benedict XVI announced Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009, news stories called this a provision for “disgruntled Anglicans” to come into the Catholic Church.

Everywhere you looked, it seemed, there was something about these “disgruntled Anglicans” who were so unhappy about same-sex blessings or women priests or whatever progressive novelty some in the Anglican Communion they wanted to escape into the Catholic Church.  “Disgruntled Anglicans” was such a negative, disparaging descriptor.

Frankly, it was annoying.

And then, some Catholics patronizingly said we must not become Catholic because were were disgruntled, or because we were running away from something  but we must become Catholic for positive reasons.


This was said so many times and it struck me as patronizing. Often it was said by people who nothing about us, really.  Or by people who should have known better.

Of course, we did have some disgruntled people in our midst.  I think every community has a disgruntled person or two or three or more.  No one, however,  who was a disgruntled person ended up coming with us into the Catholic Church.   The process of coming in was so hard, so uncertain, with such a high bar expected in terms of commitment and faith that those who survived this culling process were a pretty docile [to the Holy Spirit], positive flock of believers who had discerned entering the Catholic Church was God’s will no matter what the cost, and who in good conscience signed on the dotted line that they believed everything the Catholic Church teaches as revealed to be true.

When we were finally received into the Catholic Church five years ago on Divine Mercy Sunday there was such joy and thanksgiving even though our clergy faced another two years of uncertainty regarding whether they would ever be ordained as Catholic priests.  The day we were received about 600-700 Catholics from the diocese and beyond joined us at St. Patrick’s Basilica and welcomed us with a standing ovation.  Three standing ovations if I recall correctly.

It has been worth it.  There was a time of travail and suffering before we came in, but that’s all forgotten now we are finally home.  Since we came into the Catholic Church, it has only gotten better and better.

We are extremely well-integrated into the Ottawa archdiocese.  Our people have attended Bible studies and courses in other churches.  We partner with a neighboring Roman Catholic parish in sponsoring a Syrian refugee family and in an annual joint-Corpus Christi Mass and procession through our neighborhood that Bishop Lopes is going to lead this year.   One of our priests is a hospital chaplain for the diocese and fills in sometimes at parishes when a priest is needed to celebrate Mass.

All of us attend Roman Catholic Masses when we are traveling or unable to make it on Sunday morning to our own parish.  We are so grateful to be at home in the Catholic Church wherever we are in the world.  I’m sure similar stories could be told across North America about good relations, and positive integration.

But we are also grateful Pope Benedict XVI had the foresight to issue an Apostolic Constitution that set up a structure to preserve our beautiful Anglican/English Catholic patrimony and liturgy as gifts to be shared with the wider Church.

That we want to preserve this Anglican/English patrimony and pass it on has nothing to do with our being disgruntled Anglicans who think we are better than anyone else, nor is it an indication that, according to some, we have not fully become Catholic.   Thankfully, it is only in some obscure corners of the web this kind of stuff is going on in any regularity.  As far as the mainstream media goes, we are now ignored in any talk about ecumenism or Anglican/ Catholic relations.

Frankly, the people who continue to lob these criticisms at us in the Ordinariate and who scour the internet for signs some of our communities may be fragile or experiencing difficulties so they can snort that we are really no different than Continuing Anglicans and it’s high time we gave up our project and became regular Catholics are the disgruntled ones, seeing everything through a negative lens, listening to other disgruntled people who pass on bits of detraction and even calumny.

Disgruntled people cannot be trusted.  It is sinful to be disgruntled.  Disgruntled people are like the fox in Aesop’s Fable of the fox and the grapes.  When he can’t reach the grapes, he then disparages them as sour.  Most detractors of the Ordinariate and its communities seem to me like that fox.




Crisis on Does History Repeat with Amoris Laetitia Confusion?

A comment by  EPMS yesterday reminded me of this article I had seen on Crisis Magazine’s site  Does History Repeat with Amoris Laetitia Confusion? by Deacon Jim Russell.

EPMS wrote:

As we have discussed before, Humanae Vitae has been effectively rejected by over 90 percent of Catholics of reproductive age. It doesn’t generate conferences, because the non-compliance is private. Although the current generous approach to annulments has somewhat masked the problem of marriage breakdown among Catholics, divorce is not something a pastor can gloss over with the same “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach, owing to its public nature. And the divorce rate is 28% among US Catholics. That’s a lot of people.

When we came into the Catholic Church, we were expected to assent to the Catholic Church’s teachings on artificial contraception.  EPMS, do you think because 90 per cent of Catholics of reproductive age ignore a teaching of the Catholic Church, then the sensus fidei of “the people” has spoken and the doctrine is a dead letter?

That is certainly not what was required of us in order to enter the Catholic Church.  It made me a little angry at the time because cradle Catholics get away with so much—can believe whatever they want, do whatever they want, but they are part of the family.  But to get into the Catholic Church and fulfill the honest requirements (I say honest requirements, because it is always possible to parish shop and find a priest and an RCIA program that would slip you in with your heresies intact, but we as a community were not like that.  If we said we believed, we studied what we were believing and we assented.

One cradle Catholic who said she was never told contraception was wrong until years into her marriage said we are blessed to have had this rigorous catechesis, but I digress.

Deacon Russell writes:

Now, it was only about thirty years earlier (December 1930) that Pope Pius XI’s marriage encyclical Casti Connubii had taught quite clearly that contraception was always and everywhere morally wrong, but because the Pill’s mechanism was indirect, relative to marital relations, Catholics of all kinds began questioning whether the Pill might be morally okay, followed by theologians and bishops beginning to ask whether, given the “aggiornamento” underway, all contraceptives might be permissible, given the global overpopulation panic.

This questioning of Church teaching continued parallel to the official convening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, and it was pretty self-evident that the Council Fathers (especially those desiring change) were quite ready and willing to engage the divisive contraception question at the conciliar level.

Council, Commission, Conflict, Intrigue
So, in early 1963, Pope St. John XXIII opted to redirect the simmering birth control question to a smallish separate papal commission. Yet, his death on June 3, 1963, put both the council and the commission on hold, until both were taken up again—and the commission expanded—by his successor Blessed Pope Paul VI later that year.

Meanwhile, the controversy over birth control in the Church was gaining even greater momentum and attracting more attention from the already-divided body of Council Fathers. Some theologians and bishops were already proclaiming that contraception was not in fact contrary to natural law and were battling over the Church’s teaching that procreation and education of children was the “primary end” of marriage (resulting in the ambiguous compromise language on marriage’s ends found in the documents). Retreating from these “outdated” principles would make room for a change in teaching, contraception advocates thought.

The whole thing is very much worth the read.

In my 13 years as a reporter writing for Catholic papers and thus covering various Catholic movements, bishops, documents and so on, I have observed the following:  the couples that do not practice artificial contraception seem to have the happiest marriages.

Before I took on this job, it was rare for me to encounter a family with more than three children, though a couple who introduced me to the Baptist Church and lived next door to me for a while had four lovely children.

I remember early on attending an Opus Dei family picnic near Montreal, and seeing many many families with four or more children.  And it impressed me how loving the siblings were with each other and how generally well-behaved but happy the children were.

Now I have many friends with families of five to 10 children.

It is interesting to read Deacon Russell’s article to see how many controversies were at play at the time of Humanae Vitae.  There were even cardinals who publicly dissented from the document, among them Cardinal Leo Suenens, who, as an aside, is very popular among charismatic Catholics since he reputedly prayed in tongues.  In Canada, the bishops signed the Winnipeg Statement that basically told Canadian Catholics to let their consciences be their guide when it came to birth control.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Cardinal Suenens dissent.  

Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens, a moderator of the ecumenical council, questioned, “whether moral theology took sufficient account of scientific progress, which can help determine, what is according to nature. I beg you my brothers let us avoid another Galileo affair. One is enough for the Church.”[34] In an interview in Informations Catholiques Internationales on 15 May 1969, he criticized the Pope’s decision again as frustrating the collegiality defined by the Council,[35] calling it a non-collegial or even an anti-collegial act.[36] He was supported by Vatican II theologians such as Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, and several bishops, including Christopher Butler, who called it one of the most important contributions to contemporary discussion in the Church.[37]

All very interesting, and it all goes to show none of the controversies going on now represent anything new.

Lay scholars respond to Amoris Laetitia

I have been most interested in a conference that took place at the Hotel Columbus in Rome, almost in the shadow of the Dome of St. Peter’s.  At this conference six lay scholars from as many different countries responded to the crisis they say has been engendered by multiple and contradictory responses to Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

I was especially interested because a Canadian Catholic theologian and, I believe, former Anglican Douglas Farrow, who teaches Christian Thought at McGill university was one of the speakers.  Farrow I consider a modern-day Canadian prophet.  He does not mince words and he courageously calls things as he sees them. That doesn’t make him popular.

Veteran Vaticanista Sandro Magister published all the talks here at his Settimo Cielo blog.  You can read Farrow’s talk in full there.   I also found Australian Patristic scholar Anna M. Silvas’ talk most interesting.

One of my favorite Vatican journalists, Edward Pentin, has this story on the conference at The National Catholic Register:

The Canadian professor, who quoted among others St. Iranaeus and Cardinal Robert Sarah, then spoke about the doctrinal roots of the crisis, and that “perhaps the greatest challenge” facing the Church today is “to lift its eyes from earth to heaven; from ‘discernment of situations’ to discernment of God.”  He addressed how scripture has been divided from scripture, scripture from tradition, and how tradition is regarded with suspicion:

“The outright rejection of Pascendi Dominici Gregis [Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical against modernism] marks a turning point of sorts in Catholicism, after which it became at least conceivable that Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor [Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical on the fundamentals of the Church’s moral teaching] should also be rejected, and that we should eventually be presented with a puzzle like Amoris Laetitia, which both is and (in a few spots) isn’t obviously part of the Great Tradition.”

Consequently, he said, the function of the magisterium has been thrown into doubt and the “new voice of authority is that of the conscience, to which revelation, as vouchsafed in scripture and tradition, is merely a guide and not a governor.”

We underwent so much catechesis about tradition and about papal infallibility and the magisterium in the run-up to becoming Catholic.  We had to sign on the dotted line.

It seems odd to me—and for a while was disconcerting–that so many of the things I had to commit to believing in order to become Catholic are now being called into question by the current debates swirling around this document.

I am so grateful that Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has interpreted Amoris Laetitia in the light of tradition and the constant magisterium of the Church on marriage and the Eucharist.

On Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option

The New Yorker has a deliciously long piece about Rod Dreher’s latest book The Benedict Option by Joshua Rothman. Well worth the most-enjoyable read.  An example:

He and his wife converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, and, with a few other families, opened their own Orthodox mission church, near St. Francisville, sending away for a priest. It was Dreher’s Orthodox priest, Father Matthew, who laid down the law. “He said, ‘You have no choice as a Christian: you’ve got to love your dad even if he doesn’t love you back in the way that you want him to,’ ” Dreher recalled. “ ‘You cannot stand on justice: love matters more than justice, because the higher justice is love.’ ” When Dreher struggled to master his feelings, Father Matthew told him to perform a demanding Orthodox ritual called the Optina Rule. He recited the Jesus Prayer—“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”—hundreds of times a day.

Two life-changing events occurred after Dreher began the regimen of prayer. He was alone at home one evening, lying in bed, when he sensed a presence in the room. “I felt a hand reach inside my heart and put a stone there,” he said. “And I could see, in some interior way, that the stone said, ‘God loves me.’ I’d doubted all my life that God really loved me.” A few months later, Dreher stopped by his dad’s house to organize his medications. Ray was sitting on the porch, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. When Dreher leaned down to kiss him on the cheek, his father grabbed him by the arm. Tears were in his eyes. “He was stammering,” Dreher recalled. “He said, ‘I—I—I spent a long time talking to the Lord last night about you, and the transgressions I did against you. And I told him I was sorry. And I think he heard me.’ ” Recounting the story in the back seat of the car en route to D.C., Dreher still seemed astonished that this had happened. “I kissed him, and said, ‘I love you.’ ”

I have not read the book yet, though I regularly read Dreher’s blog over at The American Conservative and have read many reviews of and reactions to The Benedict Option.

Shane Shaetzel recently wrote about it over at his blog Catholic in the Ozarks and the book’s relevance to to Catholics.

The Catholic parish must be revived, or rebuilt, to become a truly communal place, as it was originally meant to be. Catholics can no longer look at Catholicism as just one aspect of their lives. Rather, they must now look at it as their entire lives. Catholicism can no longer influence us. It must define us, and yes, the local Catholic parish is the key to making this whole thing work. Without it, any attempt at a Benedict Option will fail miserably. So with that said, what are some things Catholic families can do to bring the Benedict Option to your local Catholic parish…

Ordinariate parishes and communities may have the disadvantage of having members who live far away from the church where Sunday Mass is held.  But some of the ways Ordinariate members can deepen their sense of community is through the practice Morning and Evening Prayer every day—and, when possible in families, or with some neighbors.  There is a button up  on the right-hand side of the blog that says in green:  Morning and Evening Prayer. Click on that button and it’ll take you to John Covert’s excellent site that lays out for you all the Psalms, readings and collects of the day.  John is a member of the Boston area group that has combined the former Anglican Use parish of St. Athanasius with St. Gregory the Great, an ordinariate parish under Fr. Jurgen Liias who retired.

Anyone want to chime in on the Benedict Option and what role if any Ordinariate communities can play in becoming arks to ride the flood of modernity?

UPDATE:    Rod Dreher responds to the New Yorker article on his blog here.