The East, The West, and the Church

I always have to laugh whenever I read a Protestant attacking the “Roman Catholic Church” saying “Roman Catholics do this! Roman Catholics do that!” However, what they fail to understand is that Roman Catholic is not the only kind of Catholic there is. In fact, Roman is just one of the many rites in the Church. It is the largest, and the head of the Roman Church is also head of the Catholic Church, but there are many other rites: Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, and Chaldean just to name a few.

Yet, because of Rome’s political structure, there always seems to be a push for “Latinization” of the East. All Catholic churches believe the same doctrine and dogma, even if it is in a different perspective. Latinization refers to the attempts to Romanize the liturgy. The Church herself says that these rites have the right to exist (4th Lateran Council, Council of Trent, Quo Primum) so it isn’t the Church. It is people within the Church.

However, today’s topic is not about the Latinizations or bad people within the hierarchy. It’s rather about the traditions that the East has and the traditions that the West has. We are blessed in an age where we have the ability to learn anything by a simple internet search. We can buy books on Amazon about things that in years past, only rich people or monastic vocations could ever read.

Pope St. John Paul II was not my favorite Pope by any means, but he was had his good moments. In Ut Unum Sint, the Holy Father explains how the West and the East are the two lungs of the church and how the Church must “breath with her two lungs!” I will post on Western devotions later (seeing how this page is for the Roman Rite in general).

THE EASTERN DEVOTIONS

Like the rosary, the Eastern Catholics have a traditional prayer on prayer beads. But it isn’t an Eastern Rosary as some erroneously believe. It is called a “Chotki.”

 

There is a great deal of history about it, as there is the rosary, and I would encourage you to research it. On every knot, the Jesus prayer is said. “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The goal behind this is to pray without ceasing, so that this prayer becomes a part of one’s breathing. It’s a very effective prayer at battling temptations.

The East also employs Canons, which are like Western prayer devotions. One of my favorite is the Canon of Repentance. There are a few others, but their theological richness is very deep.

The Eastern rites are more than a beautiful side altar in the Roman Church. Rather than being secondary to the Roman Rite, they are equal in all rights and precedents, each having its own rich patrimony and theological history/devotions. This post is just a primer for you. I hope that you will seek the devotions that the East uses because they are different, but just as good, as the West.

 

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Perfect Contrition

All too often, when we sin and need to go to confession, we think of the damage we have done to ourselves or maybe to others. A lot of us have developed the mindset of “oh I’m in mortal sin, I need to go to confession and then I’ll be fine.” Maybe they are confessing because they want to receive communion at the next mass, and they are wise enough to know that receiving in mortal sin is gravely dangerous to one’s spiritual and even physical life. People treat confession as the Sacrament of Being Able to Receive Communion on Sunday. But when we treat confession in that manner, is there any real contrition?

The next set of people are those who are ashamed and sorry for their sins because their sin injures there spiritual pride. “I sinned! I can’t believe I did that! I need to try harder next time. I’m sorry God for sinning! Mea Culpa!” This statement is what these people will utter. But what they really mean is “I’m disgusted by this sin. I don’t want to sin anymore because of how ugly it is.” This can merit imperfect contrition, however it is still self-centered.

Next are those who confess their sins because they don’t want to go to hell. For instance, it could be someone who had it dawn on them that if they die at that moment, they are going to hell. Because of this, they pledge to sin no more and to avoid the occasions of sin, for fear of God’s punishment. This is also imperfect contrition. At the root of all of these is a selfish motive. “I need to do this so I can better myself.” That mindset sums all of these up. Even the person confessing out of fear of hell falls into this category.

Lastly, there is perfect contrition. Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin arising from perfect love. In perfect contrition, the sinner detests sin more than any other evil, because it offends God, who is supremely good and deserving of all human love. Its motive is founded on God’s own goodness and not merely his goodness to the sinner or to humanity. This motive, and not the intensity of the act, less still the feelings experienced, is what essentially constitutes perfect sorrow.

But how does this relate to confession or sin in general? And why should we strive for perfect contrition? By committing a mortal sin, we essentially told God “get lost, I don’t need you.”

Let that sink in for a moment. God, who came down from heaven, humiliated himself to the point of being made something that was originally his own creation, was beaten in the most cruel way and died so we could be freed from sin. He who rose from the dead and gave us the Church that we might not have to suffer eternal torment. We say “nah, don’t need him. This sinning stuff feels good.”

Think about this. You have a friend all through high school. Your friend has always been there for you, keeping you out of trouble, and then you decide that he is hurting your popularity so you ditch him even though you know it’s wrong. You later feel the guilt of betraying your friend and are moved to reconciliation with him. That is sort of like what perfect contrition is. You aren’t doing it because you need him to get something else you want but because you are legitimately regret hurting the person that’s always been there.

Now turn the tables. You are the friend that got abandoned now. After all you have done for them, they leave because you weren’t good enough for them. Imagine the pain, anger, and sadness you would feel. Is God any different. After all, we were created in His likeness and image, and God clearly has his moments of anger and sadness in the scriptures.

This is a way of explaining it, but I can assure you that it runs much deeper than that. The remorse stemming from the fact that we hurt God and our relationship with Him is where perfect contrition lies. It is not self centered.  When we go to confession, we confess to a priest who stands in as the representative of God and the Church. You confess to him your sins and beg for forgiveness because by your sins you have harmed both God and the Church.

Therefore, next time you approach this great Sacrament of forgiveness, remember why you are confessing. You aren’t confessing to improve yourself, but to express to God and the Church how we have hurt them and that we are sorry for hurting Him (which is in the act of contrition that we pray).

 

Response to the Latin Mass Society

MG from @catholiclegion here. The past few months, @crosarioppxii (Traditional Altar Boy -TAB) and I, along with some other friends have been investigating the Latin Mass Society (LMS). It was first called to my attention by TAB who was concerned that the LMS was producing sacrilegious materials and photos in the name of the Latin mass. TAB first questioned whether or not they were Masonic. You can view his work here.

Following this, TAB received a lot of backlash. “How dare you accuse people of being Masonic for modeling to promote the Latin Mass” is the general response he got. But something in our guts told us that there was a serious issue with these people. TAB continued to monitor the LMS for a while, and then their leader, Anthony Perlas going under the name Anthony Tridentine, showed his true intentions. Both TAB and I published this on Instagram and on the blogosphere, which you can read here.

Still, we received some backlash. There were still people accusing us of taking things too far. It was not until the FSSP published a statement about him that the backlash stopped. This is the document:

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The fact that the FSSP actually had to publish a statement is a sign that there is something seriously wrong. Still, the LMS created a counter video message.

In this five minute, shoddily edited video, the “ambassador”, using nice, beautiful music explained how the Latin Mass Society and Anthony Perlas are not blasphemous or objectifying women. To be honest, I was expecting a rebuttal that actually had substance, but instead all I heard were things like “the models feel empowered”, and “the models feel like goddesses!” Obviously, there is a problem with a Catholic woman trying to make herself a “goddess” but I digress.

After going through the poorly edited video, in which they couldn’t even take the effort to eliminate the noise of the wind from the microphone, I found a number of disturbing quotes. It would actually be more efficient for me to post a transcript than to list all of the quotes.

The quote that takes the cake, however, is “even if I didn’t wear skirts, or wore lingerie, or modeled for Maxim, who are you to judge me when you are not in my shoes. I’m not being objectified, I am doing what I love, and, um, just being who I am.”

She further continues with “Everybody knows that negativity doesn’t get us far, and these people have no lives.”

So, in essence, there was nothing in that video saying that they were doing what they thought was pleasing to God. I would have understood that argument. Flawed? Absolutely. But it is understandable nonetheless. However, in this case, her entire argument is that “it makes the models feel good” and “we like it.” Instead of refuting the claims of the FSSP and other Catholics, she tells us that we should stop judging them and get lives.

This is the same attitude that is shared by the majority of the culture. Rather than accepting the words of knowledgeable priests and laypeople, the LMS ignores it and does what they want instead. I know a lot of modern “Catholics” do this as well, but being Catholic should be uncomfortable, and we are going to have to stop doing things that we think are ok but the Church says are not. God’s law is at odds with the sinful nature of humans, and there are going to be aspects of Catholicism that we are not going to like. Some may have to give up eating solely for pleasure, others might have to give up modeling. It is only when we give up all that we are and follow Him that we find true peace.

Omit the Gospel, Omit the Faith

I’ll be brief, but lately, I’ve been noticing that in the Novus Ordo, the lectionary will say something like “Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14.” This is not an isolated trend. There are certain readings that have verses omitted. Let’s see what the readings for this gospel reading say: “Be like children, save the lost sheep.” Ok that’s nice that Jesus loves us and that we should be humble. But what does verses 6-9 say. Verses 6-9 talk about the punishment and judgement that is called down upon those who leads children astray and how anything is preferable to sin.

Is it a coincidence that the verses telling people to change their ways in a more extreme manner got omitted? This isn’t just an anomalous occurrence. Anything regarding judgement is written away to make people feel “loved and comfortable.” It is disgraceful and disgusting what has been going on. If you don’t believe me, go to http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/ and take a look at the readings. Then grab your bible and read what got left out. Most likely, it’s a warning against sin lest severe punishment be dealt.

Be warned. The Devil is indeed within the church. When teaching is suppressed, it disappears from the faith.

Arsenic in the Water: The Contemporary Mass

A PROBLEM ARISES

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – “I went to a Catholic school.. They were run by these nuns, and they were some of the scariest people ever. They were so mean, and there was always that fear of God… God seemed like a scary, vengeful God, who would punish us for anything” says Dawn Smith, Director of Religious Education at the Basilica of St. Paul. “Then Vatican II happened. A nun in a shorter skirt came with a guitar and started playing guitar and singing songs! She was so nice! There was more emphasis on God’s love, and God just seemed friendlier.”

Many older people tell the same story. They were in school and then Vatican II came to save them from the oppression and liberated them to be free. Archbishops would yell at altar boys, priests were kings, and Catholics were always afraid. Was this always the case, or was this just people’s perspectives? Why did they love Vatican II so much? It seems like it should be obvious. People were being oppressed by the faith.

Maybe, however, it was because these people were children, and anything fun would be better than being solemn. So was there an actual problem that needed rectification? Or was it just a perception that became a “truth” over time?

CHANGING THE PARISH AND LITURGY

The Novus Ordo Mass

“Before Vatican II, the Basilica of St. Paul had an altar rail, priests would say mass on the side altars, and the mass was in Latin, a language that no one understands” says Msgr. Timothy Daly, Pastor/Rector of the Basilica of St. Paul and the Catholic Dean of East Volusia. “Vatican II changed everything, and the church was changed to reflect the new theology. The old stone altar was taken down to create a holy water font. The altar rail was taken away. It symbolized the church keeping Jesus away from the people before Vatican II, and the new layout showed the symbolism of Christ being among the people.” However, the Basilica’s layout wasn’t the only thing that changed. The liturgy also changed as well. Mass was changed to be more inviting and to foster more participation.

“The language was changed to the vernacular so that everyone could understand, rather it being in Latin, which no one could understand,” Msgr. Tim continued. Didn’t people have Latin English Missals?

In the United States and some other diocesan conferences, the rite of communion was modified to standing and in the hands, rather than kneeling on the tongue. This was to show that we weren’t unworthy to receive. “When people said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you’, people would take that literally and wouldn’t go to communion. This was to encourage more people to come to communion.”

While this all sounds like great rationale, what did it do to the faith of Catholics in general. If Vatican II was successful, then wouldn’t there be more participation at mass? Wouldn’t there be more devout Catholics? On the contrary, there seems to be the exact opposite. Everyone is loose with their doctrines, people receive communion out of habit, treating the Body of Christ like it is a piece of bread.

THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE CONTEMPORARY LITURGY

Mass today is vastly different than mass back in 1950. People seem more lively and happy on the surface. Everyone is responding and seem to be excited. But take a closer look at people. Teenagers will be seen texting on their phones. People are sitting passively. Their expressions are blank. They appear to only want to be entertained.

Walk into a traditional Latin mass. There the scene is completely different. The church is practically silent. But people aren’t passively sitting there. They are praying. It’s obvious. They are following along in their missals, but the looks on their faces tell everything. Some have looks of sorrow. Some have looks of joy. They are praying the mass.

What happened? What was the disconnect? Vatican II seemed to make people happier. It seemed like a welcome and well warranted change! However, the way the sacraments are treated, show exactly what the issue is. Everyone is forced to say the responses. This is “participation” in the Novus Ordo liturgy. Everyone thinks that they are participating by playing along. Participation in the traditional mass was focusing your heart, mind, and soul on God in the mass. What about communion? In the Novus Ordo, communion seems like a routine act. Although the people are still receiving Jesus, the significance is lost on them. The method of receiving communion makes it all too easy to become complacent. In the traditional mass, communion is the most humbling and reverent act of the mass. There is a heavy focus on the act of receiving.

The priest takes care to guard every particle against profanation, the same cannot be said about the Novus Ordo. The time taken to receive in the Novus Ordo is 1 second. the time it takes to receive communion in the traditional liturgy is anywhere from five to ten seconds. Mass was considered to be the highest form of prayer and worship. Now it is a place to meet the community every Sunday to “break bread”. Mass is seen as a communal meal now, rather than a sacrifice.

Does this really affect the faith of people? Could a change in reverence toward God be correlated to the decline in faith? When people lose reverence for God in the mass, what other reverence can remain? Mass is where God physically becomes present. If the reverence is taken away, the significance of God’s law is lost. People feel free to do whatever they want because God will forgive them. The laws of God aren’t important. Reverence towards God Himself doesn’t matter anymore. If reverence towards God Himself is no longer important, then why would the laws of God even matter anymore?

Even in the most conservative of Novus Ordo parishes this is apparent. The destructive elements remain present, yet hidden. The change from Latin to the vernacular had implications. So much was lost in translation. All of these elements degrade the faith in a very hidden manner. This is not an opinion. This is a fact. Over time, the sacred nature of mass wanes and becomes a Protestant service with the Eucharist. The Mass changes the person who attends it. It will either transform someone into a more God-fearing pious Catholic or it will turn them into a cafeteria Catholic who feels that the laws of God are mere guidelines.

The Novus Ordo Mass truly is deadly. It breeds complacency and emphasis on the individual person with the community. It becomes a celebration of man, and not one of God. Mass is the highest form of worship. If the highest act of worship becomes diminished, adherence to doctrine diminishes. If the acts of worship and the adherence to doctrine diminishes, so will happen to the Catholic faith, which is the sum of action and belief.

A very extreme example of the side effects of a looser liturgy