Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why the Young Love the Old

[The Good]

What appeal does the old Mass have for the young? It’s no secret that the intention of Ecclesia Dei offered in 1988 was to appease those “previously” attached to the 1962 Missal or the Latin Mass. It was thought that if this is reluctantly tolerated then opposition to the New Mass will subside. The activists would quietly go away, eventually die off and the criticisms of the deficiencies of the new Mass would be silenced.

However, it didn’t quite work out that way. Strangely, mysteriously, inexplicably even, the appeal of the Mass immediately attracted the youth. Why does the Latin Mass appeal to youth? Why isn’t it dying out? If it really is an anachronism why does it gain strength?

First I believe it is because the youth do not like to be condescended to. They want challenge, sacrifice, idealism. They want to worship God and have become awfully tired of worshipping themselves and their friends. Being your own god is the quickest path to atheism I know.

[The Bad]

The liturgical pirates who have fashioned the “new worship took the Mass to the level of the comic book. The illustrations in the Missalette (because those Missals were so big and heavy and the print so small) do not even rise to the level of a comic book illustration.

Because if there is one overriding theme it is that everything is way too much trouble. Art. Worship. Singing. Real Music. Actually knowing prayers. Learning about the Faith. Pursuing a vocation. Serving others. Keeping the Ten Commandmants. Marriage. Family life.

The only thing the modern Catholic yearns for is a new video game. Another movie channel on their cable station. Brand name clothes. A really nice vacation.

Holiness? Piety? Sanctity? Generosity? To pursue those things is to be elitist. Triumphalist. Holier than thou. Hypocritical.

When we did away with the concept of sin, mortal and venial, sins of commission and sins of ommission a complete vacuum was not created. There is still one thing that is a terrible sin. That would be the sin of hypocrisy. Secondly to be just as rigorously condemned is the sin of being judgmental. If you persist in clinging to your antiquated views of right and wrong naturally you have become judgmental. This automatically makes you worse than the sinner who commits the sins of abortion, adultery, homosexuality, fornication, apostasy, heresy, or apathy.

Instead of saying, “Go and sin no more” what Our Lord really meant was “Go and know that I really love you no matter what.”

[The Ugly]

The Latin Mass elevates the senses, transcends the mind from the immediate, the social, the physical limitations of this earthly world and challenges the mind to confront the future with optimism, eagerness, courage in the face of daunting odds, impossible tasks, awesome challenges, and the hope of heaven. Heaven not as an automatic default, a rut that everyone falls into, a place where Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Judas are holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

Hope for heaven. Use all the weapons in the arsenal of the Faith. The Rosary, the Mass, the lives of the Saints, knowledge of the Faith, seeking the examples of like minded Catholics. Don't let the criticisms of the narrowminded, the anti-intellectual, the fearful keep you from worshipping God, reverently, mysteriously, and wholeheartedly.

Ne is the earth the lesse, or loseth ought,
For whatsoeuer from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide vnto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.

The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Nullification of the Nullification

This story seems to be going strong and it seems most are separating into two distinct camps. First you have the Catholics who are happy to see that Rome has upheld the Sacramentality and validity of Sheila and Joe Kennedy's marriage. The second camp have reacted against Sheila Kennedy saying that her views of marriage (which are not Catholic as she is an Episcopalian) prove that the marriage was never valid to begin with.

In perusing around the internet I have found some new information about the case:

1. Sheila and Joe were divorced in 1991.
2. In 1993, before a declaration of nullity had been delivered by the Boston Tribunal, Joe Kennedy married his secretary in a civil ceremony.
3. In 1995 Sheila discovers that Joe Kennedy has obtained a declaration of nullity.
4. According to Sheila Kennedy Joe asked her to lie so that he could obtain an annulment. Joe called the annulment process "Catholic gobbedly gook" and "Catholic divorce". It was a favorite expression of my college roommate that Rose Kennedy, a devout Catholic (the matriach of "the Kennedys" would be spinning in her grave). The expression seems appropriate here.

Phil Lawler on the case here.

Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer here.
Who says that after the first decision in favor of an annulment, an annullment still required a second affirmative decision which was never granted.
And Fr. Joe on the huge embarassment this is to the Diocese of Boston, which has been so mired in one debacle after another.

In the popular imagination a new idea has been introduced- the idea that an annulment is not automatic, an idea that Catholic marriage is presumed valid, an idea that marriage is permanent.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The sign I've been waiting for...

"Pick Your Own Strawberries"

Yes it's time to make jam. Making and canning jam is easy. If you can read you can make jam. Homemaking art, family time with your daughters, gift-giving opportunity, a concrete product of family life.

My favorite flavors:

Peach-raspberry jam

Strawberry Rhubarb jam

Blueberry Spice jam

Triple Berry Jam

Cranberry-Raspberry Jam

Decorate the top of the jar with a circular piece of fabric and ribbon. Give as Christmas gifts. Serve as a snack with toast for your children. Hold your beautiful ruby red jam filled jars up to the light. Perfect with tea. The homemaker's reward. Make and serve wearing a vintage apron and announce, "Feminism where is thy sting?"

Vermont Abuse Trial Begins

In the following court case of a former priest accused of abusing a boy I have a specific interest. Fr. Al Willis was a priest assigned to my parish where I lived in Milton, Vermont. Fr. Willis was goodlooking, dynamic, popular, slick and kept himself very busy. He started a sign language course because he had a "special ministry" to the deaf. I took the course along with most of the teenagers in the parish and some of their parents. Two things that stand out to me- 1. There was a particular teenage boy who took the class with his parents. He was the only one that didn't "pass" the course. He was not allowed to attend the final party. Looking back now it is fairly obvious what was going on. I believe he probably rebuffed Fr. Willis' advances. Sadly his parents attended the party- I guess in the belief that the pass/fail was legitimate.

The other vivid memory was when Fr. Willis brought a young, very handsome deaf boy to class. My girlfriends and I made fools of ourselves I am sure. Much to the embarassment of this poor boy and the delight of Fr. Willis. The whole thing was so sick.

Finally there were enough complaints that finally reached the Bishop and Fr. Willis was spirited away literally in the dead of night and never seen again. Another of my friends won a judgment against Fr. Willis two years ago.

The attorney representing the Diocese is also someone I know- Tom McCormack. Tom is a Catholic father of 5 children. Most of whom I think are adopted. It's hard for me to understand wanting to defend the Diocese against these cases. The evidence is overwhelming and that is only what is known.

I'm also puzzled by the neocons who react so angrily to the victims of these lawsuits. They doubt their stories, they do not want to see them prevail in court and they are more than ready to blame these troubled, damaged victims for problematic lives and decisions they have made post abuse. I mean we are talking about victims, some of whom have killed themselves. And what do the neocons say? Well, obviously that person was unstable and their story cannot be trusted. Child predators pick out the troubled, lonely, and easily manipulated children to abuse knowing that few will believe them.

And it wasn't the case that the hierarchy didn't know what was going on. I think the courts have released enough documentation that we can put that nonsense to rest. I say pay the victims what they are entitled to and without putting them through hell. A second time.

The Rutland Herald

Opening arguments in abuse case

June 21, 2007

By KEVIN O'CONNOR Herald Staff

BURLINGTON — The plaintiff says it's about priest sexual misconduct. The defendant says it's about an accuser's desire to collect more than $1 million.

James Turner and the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington told conflicting stories Wednesday in Chittenden Superior Court at the start of the first recent abuse trial of its kind to reach a Vermont jury.

Turner, 46, of Virginia Beach, Va., says the former Rev. Alfred Willis — a priest in Burlington, Montpelier and Milton before being defrocked in 1985 — performed oral sex on him when he was 16 and staying at a Latham, N.Y., hotel in 1977 and tried to molest him again at the teenager's Derby home later that year.

Turner's lawyer, Jerome O'Neill of Burlington, charged Wednesday that the diocese knew Willis and at least three other priests dating back to 1963 had questionable sexual histories but were assigned to Vermont churches where they molested school-age boys.

"This diocese knew there were sexual issues regarding Willis but nonetheless ordained him," O'Neill said in his opening arguments. "It permitted these priests to retain the Roman collar — the trademark of trust. It chose to do nothing to protect the children."

For his first witness, O'Neill called the Rev. Wendell Searles, the former second-in-command at the diocese, and asked him to read aloud a series of confidential church letters reporting decades of problems with Vermont clergy.

The 78-year-old Searles spent almost four hours uttering such words as "genitals," "fondling," "masturbation," "molestation" and "pedophilia," and phrases including "took a child into his bed," "his behavior has been concurrent and compulsive" and "we might be faced with a civil suit."

In the most flagrant example, Searles had to read one internal letter whose subjects were identified only by their initials that said, "The fathers went from tent to tent and performed oral sex on the boys." One of those students was so upset, the letter continued, "he flunked that year in school."

In response, diocesan lawyer Thomas McCormick objected to the charges against priests other than Willis.

"That's not the Turner case," he said repeatedly.

According to the church attorney, the rector of Willis' seminary communicated concerns about the priest to the diocese's director of vocations "but later said upon investigation there was no need for concern."

"The diocese was unaware of Alfred Willis' propensities at the time Mr. Turner says he was abused."

McCormick said that even if the abuse took place, "this was not a diocesan function, this was a family function," and he believed the statute of limitations on prosecuting the case has passed. He told the jury of six men and six women: "The decision for you will be for whether the diocese today should be paying significant damages based on something Mr. Turner said happened 30 years ago at a family function."

McCormick also questioned the plaintiff's memory and motivation. He asked how Willis could have abused Turner in a hotel room where as many as eight people, including the priest's mother and the teenager's brother (a deacon at the time), were said to be sleeping.

According to McCormick, Turner's ex-girlfriend will testify during the trial that "they talked about how they could get a Mustang with the money they could get."

Turner will ask the jury for "a very large amount of money — well into seven figures," O'Neill confirmed. But the plaintiff's attorney said the sum would pay for therapy and living expenses for a former Vermonter who has suffered from post-traumatic stress, crying breakdowns, two failed marriages and several job shifts.

"He has difficulty with employers, he has difficulty with relationships," O'Neill said. "This will haunt him the rest of his life. Jim will need help for the rest of his life."

Willis, now 62 and living in Leesburg, Va., has told the court in a letter that "the claims against me are extremely upsetting and ... to the best of my memory, unfounded," but has settled with Turner for an undisclosed yet reportedly minimal sum of money.

The defrocked priest isn't attending the trial. But Vermont Catholic Bishop Salvatore Matano, wearing a simple black suit and a white clerical collar, sat silently at the defendant's table Wednesday and declined comment otherwise.

The trial, which already has sparked extensive press coverage in Vermont and Virginia, promises to muddy the reputations of both the plaintiff and defendant.

Turner, his lawyer acknowledged, was once a "hypersexualized" man who filed for bankruptcy and didn't disclose all his past relationships when asked during preliminary proceedings.

The diocese faces charges it regularly reassigned priests while covering up their problems, paid off accusers for secrecy and, in 1981, pressured the Chittenden County State's Attorney's office into not prosecuting Willis.

And Willis was labeled "a pathological liar, a consummate actor and a psychopath," said O'Neill, reading from a 1983 letter written by John Marshall, the Vermont Catholic bishop from 1972 to 1992, who died in 1994.

Turner, who sat in court with his wife, will testify later in the trial. He will be the first of more than 30 recent accusers to tell their story to a jury, having tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a settlement with the church.

At least six previous accusers resolved similar civil lawsuits against the diocese for a total of more than $1.5 million in settlements before their cases went to trial. In addition, Vermont's largest religious denomination faces 24 other misconduct cases against eight retired priests. One priest lost a case in 1989 in which a jury awarded his accuser $162,500.

Contact Kevin O'Connor at

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kennedy Marriage- Un-Annulled by Rome: This is huge

Sheila Rausch Kennedy and Joe Kennedy in 1985

From Time Magazine:

And will certainly have implications for the McFarlane divorce.

The most controversial "marriage that never was" in recent U.S. political history is back. Sources tell TIME that the Vatican has reversed the annulment of Joseph P. Kennedy II's marriage to Sheila Rauch. The annulment had been granted in secrecy by the Catholic Church after the couple's 1991 no-fault civil divorce. Rauch found out about the de-sanctification of their marriage only in 1996, after Kennedy had been wedded to his former Congressional aide, Beth Kelly, for three years.

The annulment was the subject of Rauch's 1997 book Shattered Faith, which lambasted her ex-husband and was severely critical of the Catholic Church's proceedings, which made the marriage (which had produced twin boys) null and void in the eyes of the church. Rauch argued that Kennedy was able to unilaterally "cancel" nearly 12 years of marriage because of his clan's influence in the church. Kennedy argued at the time that the annulment was the right thing to do in religious terms. Few observers thought the appeal to Rome by Rauch, an Episcopalian, had a chance against the well-connected Kennedy. With women's groups loudly on Rauch's side, the controversy may have contributed to Kennedy's decision to give up his plans to seek re-election to Congress in 1998.

Reached by TIME in her Massachusetts home on Tuesday, Rauch said that she had just recently been informed by Boston Archdiocese officials of her successful appeal. "I am very pleased," she told TIME. "There was a real marriage. It was a marriage that failed, but as grown-ups we need to take responsibility for that. The [annulment] process was dishonest, and it was important to stand up and say that." But Rauch says she worries that the practice, particularly in the U.S., of giving what she called "easy annulments" will continue. "They don't give people a fair defense. The Boston Archdiocese doesn't even tell you that you can appeal to Rome." Reached by TIME, Kennedy's office provided no reaction from the former congressman.

Erroneously dubbed "Catholic divorce," an annulment in fact holds that a failed marriage was never valid in the eyes of the Church. With divorce strictly prohibited in Catholicism, annulments allow Catholics to remarry before a priest and continue receiving the sacraments. Several years after his 1991 civil divorce to Rauch, Kennedy obtained an annulment from a Church tribunal in Massachusetts so he could have a Church ceremony with Kelly. The couple had already been married in a 1993 civil ceremony, but needed the Roma Rota appeals tribunal at the Vatican to uphold the Massachusetts annulment verdict before they could be married by a priest. Now with Rauch's successful appeal, that cannot happen, unless Kennedy wins a counter-appeal.

The Roma Rota's ruling, written in Latin, was reached in 2005, and had been kept secret while the official written notice was being prepared, said a source in Rome familiar with the case. Rauch's successful appeal effectively reinstates the Kennedy-Rauch marriage in the eyes of the Vatican. The case once again highlights this unique Catholic Church proceeding. Some 75% of annulments each year are from the United States, where there are an estimated 8 million divorced and remarried Catholics. The subject came up in the 2004 presidential campaign after word spread that John Kerry had obtained an annulment of his first marriage. Another prominent Catholic who has had a marriage annulled is former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is now running for the Republican Presidential nomination.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI has indicated that he wants to streamline the Roma Rota to respond to the desire of divorced Catholics to stay inside the Church. But there is also concern that some Catholics, particularly in the U.S., abuse the practice. "People think it's their right," says one Rome-based canon lawyer. He adds sternly,"It's not a right."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Striking the Right Chord

Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O god, be merciful to me a sinner. I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather that the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.

Luke 18:10-14

I remember when I first started attending the Latin Mass and observed someone striking their breast. I had never seen that before and was impressed by such a pious example.

According to Fisheaters the striking of the breast can occur at the following times:

Some Catholics strike their breast at the words "forgive us our trespasses" made formally during the Confiteor, the Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus, the Agnus Dei, and the Domine, Non Sum Dignus at the Mass, and informally any time to express regret.)

The striking of the breast is also done (three times) during the "Hail, Holy Queen" at the words, "Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary" and at the Angelus when the words, "And the Word was made Flesh, and Dwelt among us."

This custom not be peculiar to the Latin Mass but could be done (and should be) by any Catholic not because it makes us think better of ourselves but because it reminds us that we are sinners and should be pained at the thought of our sins.

Even if you do not have the opportunity to attend the Latin Mass do not be afraid claim the traditions that are rightfully yours. These are the traditions that will aid in your spiritual development and be an example to your children and other Catholics.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"O Lost and By the Wind Grieved, Ghost Come Back Again"

The End

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he's held by the sea's roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear he'll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he'll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky.

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into the darkness, there at the end.

Mark Strand

There is nothing like the tragedy of a life ended too soon to make you think of your own mortality. This evening we attended the wake of a husband and father who suffered a sudden, fatal heart attack at the age of 42. He leaves behind a wife and four young children. In a moment they lost their father and husband.

It is a small comfort to know that he died wearing his scapular and received conditional last rights from a priest.

But it makes you think again. And really ask yourself

What am I doing that is right?"
"What am I doing that is wrong?"
"What needs to change now?"

Could I go today without regrets? Carpe diem. And while that phrase is sometimes used to justify impulsive, foolish action it is better used to inspire right action, redemptive measures, enobled ends.

When I first heard of his sudden death I thought it really is true that you know not the day, nor the hour, in fact this very night your life may be required of you.

Be ready.

Please pray for the soul of Marc Anderson. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord. And May perpetual light shine upon him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Baptismal Gowns Worthy of the Occasion

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Acts 22:16

I was corresponding with a friend about a Baptism gown for her yet unborn baby. She was looking at gowns on Ebay that, though beautiful, I doubted would hold up to generations of use. I urged her to think in terms of "dynasty" in choosing a gown that would be worthy of the family name and worthy of frequent use over generations of Catholic families.

Wilding optimistic? Okay. I can live with that. But what is hope for is we can't indulge in it once in a while?

Though a very frugal individual, I think that when it comes to Baptismal gowns, especially for one that is being purchased for several hundred years of use, that you should not look at the price in making your choice. Surely indulgent grandparents or generous godparents can be the means to the Baptismal gown necessary.

Following are a few of my favorite gowns. The first two are availabe from:Once Upon A Time.

For some simpler gowns and Baptismal accessories you can go here. Handmade.

Another from Once Upon a Time:

Below an 1870s Antique English Christening gown available from Paula's Antique Linens.

There is also a tradition I've heard of where a seamstress will take the wedding gown of the mother and refashion it into the Baptism gown for their first child. A beautiful idea.

Finally, I'm not sure if the tradition of the Baptismal bonnet which becomes a wedding hanky (something old) is catching on but it is a lovely idea. You can order one here if it takes your fancy.

Shown here:

It's my belief that for your child's Baptism the baby should be dressed like royalty. Because upon completion of the Baptism, he is.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Catholic Restorationists

Well, I'm part of a new deal. The Evil Trads are no more. It was fun. It was edgy. It was irritating to all the right people but I guess the founder decided it was time to for us to grow up.

So we're trying.

Over at Catholic Restorationists- a wordpress hosted group blog you can read what the different members are writing. There are about 20 contributors including some very smart and very holy people. And me. You will recognize names like Steve Skojec, Dale Price, Chris Gillibrand and Jeff Culbreath and at long last Hilary White has joined us. She has resolved to remain evil which is reassuring. I understand the contract negotiations were brutal but founder Steve Skojec was able to get her onboard.

So if you want to head on over and read some really interesting esays and thoughts I don't think you will be disappointed. Some very notable notables are linking the Restorationists proving either that we have a quality site or that we really are losing our edge.

Remind Me Again...

...why we needed Vatican II.

-to clarify doctrine?

-to inspire the laity to be more "involved"?

-to make our worship more "meaningful"?

-to encourage vocations?

-to inspire holiness?

-to "engage" the world?

I think it's time for one of those documents that corporations put together after a project. It's usually called "Lessons Learned".

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


A man tried to jump onto the Holy Father's white jeep. You can see here at Fox News the video of what happened. He was wrestled to the ground by security and police and turned over to the Italian police.

My first thought was that I hope this is not someone upset that the Pope has not released the Motu Proprio. I know there are some very disappointed people out there but this is not the right way to go about things. Michael Dunngian where are you? Can anyone account for his whereabouts?

Kidding aside I think the pink tee shirt and the age of this man- 20-30 makes me think we are talking about a homosexual activist protesting the policies of the Catholic Church that are "killing him". Because you know it's not HIS behavior it's what the Pope thinks.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Rose is a Mystery

Photo of what is believed to be the first U.S. Mary's Garden planted in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1932.

"The Rose is a mystery'- where is it found?
Is it anything true? Does it grow on the ground?
It was made of the earth's mould, but it went from men's eyes,
And its place is a secret, and shut in the skies.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Find me a place by thee, Mother of mine."

from the poem Rosa Mystica by Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

It's the time of year when blogging loses its appeal and our gardens both vegetable and flower are calling us. Though the demands of a "Mary's Garden" always seemed like an intimidating undertaking I'm starting to think I'm in the right frame of mind to attempt one. And when I happened along this website and learned of the ancient origins of the Mary's Garden the idea became irresistible.

The Tradition of a Mary's Garden comes from the Middle Ages. In this definitive website where you learn everything you wanted to know about such gardens,this history is given:

The few detailed records of medieval gardens are almost all
of monastic vegetable and herb gardens. The name, "Mary Garden"
has its recorded origins in medieval religious art and
illustration, in which prints, and then paintings, of the Virgin
and Child in enclosed gardens of symbolical flowers were entitled
"Mary Gardens", and presumably were inspired by actual small
gardens of the period.

St. Benedict is known to have had a monastic rose garden, or
"Rosary", in the 4th Century, but the first reference to an actual
garden dedicated to Mary of which we know is from the life of St.
Fiacre, Irish patron saint of gardening, who planted and tended a
garden around the oratory to Our Lady he built at his famous
hospice for the poor and infirm in France in the 7th Century.

The association of specific flowers with Mary perhaps begins
with the old legend from patristic days that after her Assumption,
soul and body into heaven blooming roses and lilies were found in
her tomb. One of the earliest recorded symbolic associations of
distinct parts of plants with Mary's attributes was that of St.
Bede in the 8th century, who saw the translucent white petals of
the lily to be a likeness of her pure body as she was assumed
into heaven, and its golden anthers, of the glorious resplendance
of her soul.

These beautiful notecards are from a series of 10 or 12 printed in the 1950s and the founders of the website are seeking information about the missing cards. Please contact them if you have any information. How I would love to see these reprinted.

Here is another source of information about Mary's Gardens. The website is owned by St. Mary de Haura in the United Kingdom. And if anyone knows about formal gardens it is the English.

And the ever reliable Fisheaters has a quickstart guide to Mary's Gardens.

The Clinton Memorial Library

Here is the website.

What is not immediately apparent is that it is a spoof site.

I think you're going to like it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Is it a bird?

Is it a plane?


But our super heroes wear capes too.