Friday, November 29, 2013

Must we wait for the next generation of bishops to put an end to CCHD scandals?

A week ago, I posted to my homeschool group a reminder to skip the second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) on account of CCHD’s continued difficulties determining that its grantees don’t violate Catholic teaching.

A question came back: Does anyone know why our ordinary, or priests, either don’t know this information, or don’t do anything about it?

My answer follows:

Priests have vowed their obedience to their bishop. If the bishop tells them to take up this collection, his priests can hardly say “no” to him, but presumably could offer their bishops reasons not to take up the collection.

Now as far as bishops go…

I’ve heard that there are U.S. bishops who do not take up CCHD collections in their dioceses. Praise God!

And I think it’s fair to say there are others who are corrupt in masking CCHD’s continued problems.

You remember the ACORN-CCHD scandal (September, 2009), when it was revealed that the bishops had long been giving away collection plate money to anti-Catholic Alinskyite organizations. I think that now most bishops and priests are under the impression that reforms of the CCHD made in the ACORN aftermath were successful and that it is a program in good standing again.

Several organizations, including American Life League (ALL), had done and continue to do a great deal of work in exposing CCHD problems, both before and after ACORN. However, the USCCB now considers these groups to be a nuisance and terminated communications with them. Read it for yourself at Truth About CCHD. Consequently letters to bishops citing problems discovered by ALL may well go unheeded.

A huge problem has been the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which administers the CCHD.
(a) Aside from its member bishops, the USCCB bureaucracy that runs its day-to-day operations seems to have its own left-wing errant “social justice” agenda.
(b) Bishops are wont to hide behind the USCCB, although it has no real authority (and may that remain so, Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, §32 notwithstanding). I think many a bishop forgets that at his particular judgment, he will be called to account for the measures he (not the USCCB) took or neglected to take to lead the souls in his flock to Heaven. As it is human nature to fall in line with group decisions, it would have been better that these episcopal (i.e., bishops) conferences were never created.

USCCB aside, the bishops, as individuals, tend to be pretty leftward-leaning themselves on the political spectrum. (Remember how relentlessly they pushed for socialized medicine last year? And how they supported immigration issues every bit as much as traditional marriage when both issues were on the ballot? Should they not have instead been instructing the faithful that voting against traditional marriage would be a grave sin?) We can probably attribute much of today's bishops' misordered priorities to the fact that they came of age during the tremendous social upheaval of the late sixties / seventies. Many seem to have swapped care for the souls entrusted to them for peace at the expense of truth or for political involvement in the name of “social justice” – secular-style. Under their watch, the spiritual works of mercy have been completely trumped by the corporal works of mercy (and better yet if those can be enacted through a government program).

Certainly not all of our bishops are guilty of shirking their responsibility to teach the truth, but a vast majority are. Certainly it was heartening to see all the bishops stand together to oppose the health care mandate. The federal government's persecution of the Church is at least forcing them to be stronger. But they have to be much, much stronger still.

Is there any saving CCHD? Certainly we need to help the poor – spiritually and corporally. But does CCHD help the poor, as it claims? With its founding principle of giving money to non-Catholic organizations to empower the poor through community organizing, the money all too often still seems to find its way to progressivist anti-Catholic causes.

Pray and fast for our bishops.

Pray and fast for our bishops.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Profound Details

Sunday, just before the Traditional Latin Mass downtown, thirteen youths, including one of our sons, were confirmed in the traditional rite. It was just glorious and following it, the Mass sung by priest, cantor, and choir and accompanied by organist was absolutely heavenly.

One thing that struck me, though, that I had never seen at a confirmation before was that just after each young man or young lady was anointed and stood up to return to where s/he had been standing, the excess chrism was wiped off the brow. I read in the program that the cotton (if it is not the practice to strap a linen band around the forehead) used for this purpose is later burned and the ashes, along with the water and bread the bishop or priest uses to wash his hands, are poured down the sacrarium (the special basin in the sacristry that drains directly into the ground, used only for sacred species.)

A little detail, but typical of the myriad details that were lost in the post-conciliar liturgical reforms.

I am struck at every traditional Latin Mass by some little detail, of which some are theologically significant, others historically significant. So many of these little details that make the old rite so rich and magnificent have been, for the most part, stripped from the new Mass.

Thanks be to God for Summorum Pontificum. We have already seen some little details return to the Novus Ordo: servers bearing torches for the reading of the gospel; use of the chalice veil, bells at the epiclesis; all of which add to the sacrality of the Mass. (There are many things that can be done without obtaining the bishop's permission as they are still be in keeping with the rubrics of Novus Ordo. Some will say this is "mixing up the rites," but that is simply not the case.)

The intent was for the extraordinary form to be widely available – even in every parish, in order for it to exert its sacred influence. A priest who learns and celebrates in the extraordinary form will never say an ordinary form in the same way again. But obviously Summorum Pontificum has not been implemented anywhere nearly as extensively as intended.

To the extent that all of the Masses we attend do not incorporate those little details and bigger ones (e.g., the ordinary parts of the Mass aren’t prayed in Latin, Gregorian chant isn’t sung, the Mass is prayed by the priest ad populum, is served by girls; reception of Communion kneeling is not facilitated, etc.), we need Summorum Pontificum. The Tridentine Mass instructs us (abetted by with some mystagogical catechesis) about the way Holy Mass was always meant to be celebrated. The Novus Ordo Mass was meant to look and feel and sound like the Mass of all Ages looked and felt and sounded like for approximately fifteen centuries prior to 1970.

So do take advantage of Tridentine Mass opportunities. Then ask your pastor questions – why doesn’t our parish use a chalice veil, any Latin, boys in cassock and surplice, etc.? Make a mess. The Traditional Latin Mass looks and sounds and feels much, much more like what the council fathers actually intended compared to what we’re used to in almost all parishes. Get to know it – it is your birthright.