Thursday, August 29, 2019

Viginti Abhinc Annos

Ah, August 29! The foolish dancing girl does the bidding of her wicked mother to have the Baptist's head served on a platter.

But the decollation of the Precursor is not the only significance of this date for me. It was exactly 20 years ago, this very day (it was a Sunday in 1999) that I tendered my resignation as Head Master of Ceremonies at the SSPX church in Post Falls, ID, and with this resignation, I also severed myself from affiliation with the SSPX, the organization which for nine years had formed and incubated my liturgical formation - which of course would be fine-tuned later on.

One does not take lightly such a momentous, life-changing decision. The proverbial fork in life's road came up suddenly, and whether or not it was the right choice (there are arguments to be made on either side), it was the choice I made at the time. Leaving the SSPX would precipitate a series of events which lead to a lot of spiritual tepidity (or worse). It was also be the catalyst to return to my native East Coast. At the time, I thought I was ushering in a "New Era", one marked by a so-called return to the "glory days" of my materialistic, comfortable childhood days in NY in the 1980's and early 1990's. Job, marriage, place to live - all of these things had to be same again as what my father gave up upon our family's Tradification. In all of it, there was such a pitiful lack of trust in God and unwillingness to accept His will, but rather a willful impatience to impose my mine according to my set schedule and circumstances. It would only be years later that I would even begin to sort through all the consequences of the decision I made this day, 20 years ago. How I wish I had a bona fide, trustworthy mentor (instead of Tradbots) to guide me through life at that critical age of youth and immaturity.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Persona

A while ago, I wrote about how some married men have a tendency to lose any sense of personal identity (assuming they had one before marriage) - that they had no defining characteristic other than the fact of their state of life as being husbands and fathers. They lack any (external) sign that they have any kind of hobby, interest, personal passion, thoughts, or feelings - in short, no personal identity and no way in which true friendships could be found or take root.

In a similar vein, I have anecdotally found there to be a growing similar profile among the younger priests in the FSSP. We can likely extend this to all of Tradistan. What is this profile? Quite simply it is the phenomenon of men (priests in this case) to lack any personality at all or any sense of humor. This seems to be limited to the younger members; the older priests can be quite jovial or at least have a normative ability to engage, have rapport, and...well...laugh with others.

So, is this the result of nearly all of newly ordained in this last decade being men who grew up exclusively in the bubble of Tradistan?

Is it the fact that a disproportionate share of them possess a kind of severe Midwestern hyper-gravitas? Proximity to more Protestant Fundamentalists perhaps?

Or do the traditional seminaries purposefully homogenize these men into shedding their personalities as if this is some kind of mark of holiness or the separateness a priest is supposed to have from people? I have personally witnessed a young man who used to engage in a normal, friendly manner turn on a dime into a stiff the day he was ordained a priest (not when ordained a deacon - he remained his normal self for that).

As a 40 year old man, I realize I am now older than a sizeable number of priests, and the recently ordained (i.e. in the last 5-10 years) are mostly of a completely different generation. Is what I am observing also a function of a sort of "millenial" inability to engage with people according to hitherto natural norms of society?

Whatever the case may be, I don't think this bodes well. Stiff personalities (not to be confused with quiet pensive melancholics!) are not doing any favors for the cause of Tradition. The lack of human personalities and emotion is not a mark or requirement of holiness, and such nonsense to the contrary is a modern day extension of the old and cold Jansenistic and Victorian mores. No thanks. This is not holy and it is not healthy...and it is utterly phony.

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box.

Gaudeamus in Domino!

Vanitas vanitatum! - A little photo gallery of the subdiaconal ministry at the annual Assumption Mass of the BVM at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul in Philadelphia. Depending on the potential change in the local Ordinary (+Chaput is soon to reach 75), this may have been the last time we would be able to use this cathedral for this Mass. Sed autem, the hope for next year is to get Cardinal Burke to pontificate for the Assumption Mass. Time will tell in either case.

All photos are screen shots of the video recording of this Mass by EWTN.

Epistle

The most sublime act of the subdeacon -
pouring water into the chalice at the Offertory
The veil obscuring the Holy of Holies

Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus!

The real Sign of Peace - Pax Tecum!

Guardian of the Chalice




Saturday, August 10, 2019

Numquam sine Ministro

Quo progrederis sine filio, pater? Quo, sacerdos sancte, sine diacono properas? Tu numquam sine ministro sacrificium offerre consueveras.

Whither dost thou go without thy son, father? Whither, holy priest, dost thou hasten without thy deacon? Thou hadst never been accustomed to offer sacrifice without thy minister.

These pleas were exchanged by our famous St. Lawrence, whose feast we celebrate today, to Pope St. Sixtus II four days hitherto when the latter along with the other Roman deacons went to their martyrdom. These words first appeared in the short, ninth lesson read at Matins on August 6 to commemorate Sixtus and companions, and they again are borrowed today to form an antiphon and a responsory at the Matins of St. Lawrence.

Surely many recount how St. Lawrence "had fun" with his executioners about being cooked on one side of the grill, but these earlier words of his perhaps give us a glimpse into the already well established liturgical norms of the mid-third century. How, indeed, does the priest offer the holy sacrifice without his deacon, without his inferior ministers? There it is, folks - almost eighteen centuries of Roman liturgical Tradition say it all, enshrined right there in these very sincere, matter-of-fact statements of St. Lawrence.  The Solemn Mass is normative; the priest offering Mass alone without the sacred ministers is not the normative Liturgy but the proper manner of the private altar alone. The diaconate is a proper order and ministry in ipso, not a stepping stone in seminary formation to the presbyterate. This is Tradition - not the minimalistic, Low Mass idolizing, hyper-sacerdotalism of the post-Tridentine/Vatican I (One) era.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Quis est vir?

This is a post I drafted seven years ago, but for some unknown reason, I never posted it. I don't purport to speak with any real authority on what true manhood is, but I do know that I reject the false choices modern society presents. So, from July 2012:

Life can be a struggle to know one's identity. We live in a world which now calls into question even the most basic definitions of things which nature clearly defines, among which are the absurd notion of homosexual "marriage" and the notion that gender is defined by society or custom rather than nature. Let's explore a bit more this matter of gender identity.

Firstly, being a linguistic purist, it is really incorrect to use the word gender to refer to male and female persons; rather, sex is the correct term because gender is a grammatical term (i.e. in most languages, nouns, adjectives, and pronouns are classified into masculine, feminine, and neuter which determine their proper spellings and uses in a sentence). So, the correct term is sex, a word which, unfortunately, both secular liberals and Puritanical prudes of all faiths relegate to the "gutter". Male and female is the sex of a person, a biological and ontological (nature of one's being) fact of nature, the two complementary manifestations of the one, human nature created by God. Therefore, I rephrase my topic to "sex identity".

We live in a world in which two extremes are present when it comes to what is meant to be a "man" or "woman". I'll lay aside the question of being a woman, for obvious reasons, and focus on what being a man is and should be. When it comes to being a man, the two extremes can be simplified into these slang terms: 1. Macho and 2. Sissy. Somewhere between these, or rather, above and beyond these stupidities, is the definition of a real man, but let's briefly explore these extremes and point out their basic errors.

The "Macho"
This is the notion that a man can never appear to be weak, never show any emotions or cry (except anger), never talk about or reveal feelings, be tight and stiff-lipped except about sports and beer, be preoccupied with tough and tumble activities such as sports and racing cars, and never treat women as anything else besides sexual objects. It goes without saying that such a "man" would never be capable of engaging in intelligent conversation with a woman as his equal intellectual, or more simply, to treat any woman as a friend.

The "Sissy"
On the opposite side is the effeminate man, exemplified by the term "metrosexual", who rightly rails against the errors of machoism above, but then manifests his own errors in return. Among these are learned helplessness, dependency on women (mothers in particular) to take care of them, lacking the ability to handle a crisis because he is ruled by emotions without recourse to reason, being preoccupied with vanity in appearance and dress, and being driven by money and materialism. Such a man rightly has no problem being friends with women as intellectual equals, but he takes it too far, and effectively becomes like a woman himself rather than complementing them.

Both of these are nothing more than two sides of the same coin of modern man's remaining stuck in adolescence.

So, what is the solution to the false choices the world gives us? With the aid of grace and centuries of Catholic examples of true manhood and friendship between the sexes, we can draw a picture of a true man. A true man is both gentle and firm, strong and noble in work and defense as a means and not an end. A true man has a heart and a mind, so he shows his emotions (e.g. crying at a funeral) but at the same time keeps them in control when reason needs to guide him through a crisis. A man has the ability more easily to separate and compartmentalize his emotions, not to suppress them but to control and use them for the good. A true man enjoys sports and good drink in due time and due season but he is also ordered toward the appreciation of higher things of culture and the arts, of leisurely contemplation of God's creation. A true man dresses as becomes a gentleman rather than remain an adolescent in appearance, not to show off and feed vanity, but to keep him disciplined and dignified as becomes his nature. The higher one's station in life, the more dignified his dress should be, and being a father of family is a pretty high station. A true man respects, engages, and shows affection to women as sisters and mothers in Christ, not by the "safe" distancing and segregation of Puritanical prudery and not by treating them as effeminate "buddies", but by the nobility of true friendship, as intellectual and spiritual companions, which is made possible by our corresponding to the graces of the Redemption.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Quod Deus conjugat, homo non separet?

In a follow up to my recent post on inflated matrimonialism, there seems to be an uptick (I don't want to say trend) in marriage separations in the Catholic world. This does not limit itself to Tradistan, but in recent months, several 10-15 year long marriages among either Trad or "conservative" Catholics (i.e. those who follow the Commandments and practice the Faith) are falling apart and resulting in separation of the spouses, not to mention the children.

I have already opined that one cause to this (almost) epidemic is the hyper focus on matrimony itself. In one way, I am not the least surprised these separations are happening. There is simply too much pressure on young Catholics to conform to a vocationalism gone mad to marry and "save" the Church by becoming agents of the "biological solution." Emotional problems and immaturity - shove those under the rug...alas.

What else could be going on? In two cases, I have first hand knowledge of priests advising one spouse (in the confessional or elsewhere) to leave the other. And this sacerdotal advice does not involve first asking the other spouse to meet for a conference to discuss the marital problems. No, it would seem that some priests (both Novus Ordo seminary (de)formed) are singlehandedly advising only one spouse, without any testimony from the accused spouse, simply to separate from bed and board - again based on the complaints of the one spouse alone. What gives? Is this another Novus Ordoism? I know the Church permits separation, but shouldn't there be a careful probing of the situation from an objective analysis based on the input of BOTH spouses before giving such advice let alone acting on it?

Monday, July 01, 2019

Dies Feriarum

When the Christian Age dawned in Rome, the Church adopted the nomenclature "Feria" to denote the days of the week rather than the names given to the pagan deities (as we still do in English). Every day, therefore, is blessed as a day of leisure, as Feria denotes rest, celebration, a perpetual "eighth day" of creation, a vacation, a day given to our higher nature as human beings rather than mere animals.

What is leisure? Pieper would say, in not so many words, that is a state of restful and, key word, effortless contemplation; it is essentially the state of simply...being. It is the absence of practical or busy work, of effort, of activity engaged for material gain. In a sense, leisure is "useless" when considered through the lens of the utilitarian and the proletarian, but this "uselessness" is precisely what makes leisure be itself.

Days off from everyday work and practical living - vacation in modern parlance - are supposed to be times when man accords himself leisure. The purpose of all that necessary work is, eventually, to provide enough material gain to rest from it. But what if I said that leisure should be a perpetual state or at least a perpetual ideal? The problem with today's world is that neither every day life nor, sadly even, vacations themselves are anything leisurely; the busy, practical, mundane, workaholic world is everywhere and at all times for modern man. Fewer and fewer people seem capable anymore of knowing how to relax and stop working.

My recent trip to New Hampshire makes me consider that perhaps certain political, economic, cultural, or social realities proper to one place or lacking in another, are actually a strong reason (maybe at the core) why man has been denatured of the leisure that God wills for him. What if certain places have been so designed to render leisure next to impossible while others are naturally more conducive for it? I believe places like New Hampshire (well the part that lies beyond what has been recast as North Massachusetts - e.g. Nashua) are naturally inclined to leisure whereas most of New Jersey is not.
A quiet morning of contemplation on Lake Sunapee, NH

But why is this? We can point to the relative urbanization and suburbanization between the two, and this certainly plays into it. The higher the population, the more traffic and delayed time with serving practical needs lessens the time for leisure. What if it be more fundamental? Could it be that these two states showcase a difference in culture which stems from their very foundings? There is a book I have yet to read which explores this very thesis - Quaker Philadelphia vs. Puritan Boston. Both Protestant at their core, but also divergent, I happen to believe that the Quaker founding of South Jersey and Pennsylvania has everything to do with the inability of the typical person in these parts to be at leisure. Does not Quakerism abhor contemplation and the intellectual life in favor of practical industry? I also happen to believe that the intellectual culture of the Puritan founding of New England, for all its pitfalls, is also to be credited with encouraging a certain, at least basic, appreciation for education for its own sake, for the liberal arts which are the definition of and the means by which leisure happens. Really the Puritans just co-opted the rich Catholic intellectual tradition for themselves, so the Puritan version of Protestantism at least is closer to the Catholic position when it comes to valuing the intellectual life. These fundamental cultural differences can be said to be at the root of even how the different states developed their political boundaries, their infrastructure,...essentially everything about them which leads to how life is experienced in these places today.

If practicality is the operating principle, then it is no wonder that the suburban subdivision with its "efficient land management" thrives in the Mid-Atlantic while it never caught on, even nowadays, in most New England towns. Is not the practical industry of Quakerism a germination of suburbia? I do want to explore the concept of suburbia in its own post, though.

But, where am I going with all of this? I have never felt at "home" in South Jersey. For over 13 years, I have lived in a place that is mostly devoid of people capable of intellectual curiosity. Centers of higher learning are very few, and even these are oriented toward the practical. Life here is busy, crowded, trafficky, rushed, pressured. Everyone seems always to be on the run. Practicality is the rule of life; everyone is always busy, so many work for the sake of working. The only reason I ever moved here was because of a full liturgical parish, and even with this great gift, that practical, busy-body way of life is so prevalent that so many erstwhile parishioners do not avail themselves of the great liturgical life that is their unappreciated, priceless gift to have. In short, there is little to no spirit of leisure, which is at once the same spirit of living liturgically.

It's true, South Jersey is more in line with the anti-intellectualism which characterizes most of the U.S. New England is, arguably, an exception to this trend, but a good exception. Despite its political leanings (and the other side is no better - it's the same coin of liberalism), there does seem to be an intellectual culture there. One can find among the secular nihilists there at least a natural intellectual curiosity; even the "working class" towns acknowledge that certain kinds of people will be more intellectual, more suited to higher learning rather than disparaged as "traitors" to Blue Collardom. It would not be uncommon to strike up a conversation with a random person there and end up having a conversation of some real substance. There is a given that colleges dot the land. There is a given there that forests don't get bulldozed left and right to make the entire town a suburban subdivision with accompanying big box stores. People in New England seem to know that there is more to life than the everyday, practical, and useful.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Nova Hantescira

Inspired by a short visit to the woods and lakes of New Hampshire, I am going to begin a short series of posts in which the following themes (mostly familiar to long-time readers) will be explored (in no particular order):

1. The "fake-ality" of suburbanization
2. The realization and promotion of leisure
3. Alpine environments
4. Relocations - past and future

On Thursday, the Octave of Corpus Christi, I left early enough to make it out of NJ entirely without getting stuck in abominable traffic. I made a quick stop at my home town of Fishkill, NY to pray Terce by the creekside in my old neighborhood. After this, I left any vestige of NYC area civilization and drove up the Taconic Pkwy, a road envisioned by FDR himself to be a leisure road - and it is quite the winding, country parkway. Continuing North and East up NY State 22 in the rolling hills of far Eastern NY State, I finally crossed into New England proper by revisiting the one state thereof I have had the least exposure - Vermont.

See, this was a leisure drive; I was in no hurry to get to my NH destination as long as I got there before nightfall. I literally and figuratively took the scenic route. After stopping for lunch in Bennington, VT, I quickly gained elevation and crossed lower VT through the gorgeous Green Mountains. Such a pity beautiful places like these are overrun with relocated urban liberals. It was all of 38 miles to traverse VT from Bennington to Brattleboro, after which I turned North on the I-91 for another 30 miles and at last crossed the Connecticut River into NH at Claremont.

Claremont proved to be a bit too busy for me at 3:00pm and it took a good 20 minutes to feel like I was again in rural nowhere as I ventured East into the Sunapee Region of NH. My final stop came at Mount Sunapee Park (and its adjoining lake) at which I camped for the next two nights. What a relaxing, refreshing, easy drive. Veering away from the population centers and the Interstates (mostly) gives one a glimpse of real driving and accords one copious time for deep ponderings. The drive itself already made me feel like I was on vacation, and then at last, I was camped out deep in the woods in New Hampshire.

Nova Hantescira - New Hampshire - what a lovely state! I hear the Rad Trad hails from there. Why he ever left such a beautiful place is a deep mystery. Perhaps it's the weather, so let's begin by considering "Alpine environments". It's no secret that one of the worst features of living in New Jersey (and most of the East Coast in general) is the heat and humidity in the summer. Unless one can relocate to the Shore during these months or has a pool and well working central A/C which to enjoy continuously, the summer here is a veritable hellish furnace. Gobs of long daylight hours wasted by having to avoid being outdoors. Not even the mornings offer a relief - it's already a wet blanket of humid 75 (F) at 6:00am. Do I live in NJ or Louisiana? By the time proper, pleasant weather returns in the Mid-Atlantic, two-three hours of daylight have been lost from the solstice peak.

When I was in the North Woods, I remembered that I actually used to like summer. Lower humidity, upper 70s and low 80s as daytime summer highs, cool nights to begin each day afresh. On sunny days, the sky is blue, not white haze. When it rains, it actually feels cool and refreshing as opposed to adding to the drenching humidity which returns with a vengeance thunderstorm after wasted thunderstorm. The air is clean and breathable; copious foliage oxygenates the air in abundance surely making one feel more energized and alive.

O Silvae! The view to the Northwest from atop Mt. Kearsarge

Being at 43.5 degrees North Latitude in late June adds another 25 minutes of total daylight above South Jersey's maximum extent. The sun rose at 5:10am, but the sky was already showing light by 4:00am; the sun set at 8:32pm and the dusk lingered til 10. The abundance of daylight, coupled with the comfortable weather conditions is a winning combination to enjoy summer to its fullest potential. Armed with bugspray (yeah, the only real negative), one can sit outdoors to all that natural light and read, walk, hike, aimlessly drive without A/C morning, noon, and evening and feel refreshed in both body and mind.

As I consider New Hampshire (and Vermont and New York State East of the Hudson and above the "Metro-North Line" - the true divide of Up vs. Down State - and Western MA, and Maine), I can't but think that this is a reflection of virginity. It is unspoiled. Places such as these have not been lost to modern man's "progress" and the real estate developers to pillage and destroy the natural way of the land. Civilization exists there, but its housing and way of life is integrated into its natural surroundings; it doesn't exist by the means of artificial, cookie-cutter subdivisions maintaining an annual 72 degrees every day all day. Alas, this gets into my point on suburbanization which I'll explore next time.