Saturday, November 26, 2005

Keep awake!

I came across some posts in different blogs as well as some articles in online newspapers, which all sort of hinted towards the same problem. It is a problem well known and lots of much smarter men that me already thought about it and commented on it. I still want to bring it up.

Lets start with a post I found on Throne and Altar. The author describes the terror that overcame him while visiting a Novus Ordo Mass. Everything was there, from versus populum, a fat lady placing the Eucharist in a Tabernacle situated on a minor side altar, the same lady handing out the Eucharist while the priest took a brake, "fellowship" and "community" galore up to body-snatching (That's what we call the practice of grabbing the Eucharist with your fingers).
Next, take a look at Traditio's gallery of Novus Ordo Masses and their comments on that. I can't say I agree with their blatant slander of the "Newchurch" (as they call it) and the "Novus Ordo Mess" (as they call it). I just wanted to point toward the existence of the page and of the masses photographed and described.
Next, read the short article "Surplice for requirement" on the Sydney Morning Herald's page.
Next, take into consideration the existence of such groups as the Traditio or Voice of the Faithful (TM).

What am I trying to say? I don't really know. I just get a very uneasy feeling when I think about the different forces affecting the Church from different directions. Especially since there appears to be a lot of acid, ignorance, self-righteousness, anger and stubbornness, "I told you so" and "It's my way or the highway" involved. On the one hand, liturgical dance experiments and "come as you are"-masses seem to point towards a virulent mental imbalance among the catholic clergy. On the other hand, the harsh and vitriolic condemnations of these practices leave a lot to be desired as well.

True, there's not much room to maneuver when it comes to the truth. On the other hand, there's not much room to maneuver when you are cornered, either.

Common sense demands that you think about the contents of whatever you say before you say it. So how smart is it to "Keep the Faith but Change the Church (TM)", as VOTF (TM) demands? What sort of progress is to be gained by the assumption, that wearing a cappa magna is merely "Dressing up" as well as "a sign of the clerical culture being fostered, establishing a priestly class that is 'other', drawing a line between priests and people", as "" comment on cardinal Pell wearing the nice long red thing. What common ground is left, when you call the Novus Ordo Mass unCatholic, sacrilegious, irreverent, scandalous, blasphemous, idolatrous, and conclusively invalid, as "Traditio" does? How are priests and laypeople supposed to unite in a way most profitable for the church, when on the one hand laypeople with hardly any theological substance comment on everything priestly (although they probably never would go to a dentist that didn't study medicine), while priests run around in jeans and shirts and therefore do not even offer the laity a chance to recognize them as priests and on the other hand defenders of the tridentine rite often regard anybody connected to anything post-VCII as some kind of satanic agent, who is infiltrating the last remains of true Catholicism.

What are we? Are we Christ's people on Earth, giving their best and trying everything to make the Church one again in order to allow more people to bathe in the only light there is? Or are wee street ruffians, constantly looking for lesser beings to hiss at or asses to kick?

In the light of this Sunday's gospel I think it is not only our duty to keep awake. Speaking from a strict slave point of view I am of the opinion that it will be most beneficial for us if there is peace in the house before the master comes home and if the house is clean, beautiful and literally smells of great hope and joyful expectation. I might be a bit over-optimistic here, but I hope to live to see the day, when the laity and the priests from both sides swallow their pride and join hands to make the Church open, great and beautiful again.

Okay, now that you have read all this and still didn't fall asleep or run away, here is a little reward: A nice shot of Jusztinián Cardinal Serédi, archbishop of Esztergom and primate of Hungary from 1927 to 1945. I mean, after all, this is still "The Far Sight", right? (Thanks to Athanasius for the information!)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Photos of the Month (11/2005)

There haven't been any photographs on this page for quite some time. I thought it might be a nice idea to combine the presentation of nice cappa-shots with a little information under a collective topic. The first attempt at this will be a gallery of Viennese Cardinal-Archbishops. Have fun!

1.) Joseph Otmar von Rauscher

Rauscher was born in Vienna in 1797. Destined for a civil service career he decided to become a priest after being both inspired and impressed by Klemens Maria Hofbauer. Ordained a priest in 1823, he became bishop of Seckau in 1849. He assumed an important role in the Austrian bishops conference and played a vital role in the process that lead to the imperial decree of 1850 thet freed the church from the Josephine reforms and granted her the highest possible freedom. He became archbishop of Vienna in 1853. He was one of the main architects of the concordate of 1855 which assured that Austria pretty much remained a Catholic state. Elevated to the cardinalate in 1855 (Title church: Santa Maria della Vittoria), he had to watch how his life's work slowly fell apart as first Hungary (1861), then Styria (1868) and finally the whole of Austria (1870) first modified and then totally liquidated the concordate. He died in Vienna in 1875.

2.) Fran Xaver Nagl

Born in Vienna in 1855 and ordained a priest in 1878, he was a professor in St. Poelten (1883), cout-curate in Vienna (1885), rector of the Anima in Rome(1889) and bishop of Triest-Capo d'Istira (1902-1909) before he was installed as archbishop of Vienna in August 1911 and elevated to the cardinalalte three months later. He build a new seminary in Vienna and was generally very interested in the spirituial welfare of Vienna as a major city. The climax of his years was the Eucharistic world-congress in Vienna in the September of 1912, which became a huge manifestation of Austrian Catholicism. Nagl became seriously ill at the end of 1912 and died in February 1913.

3.) Friedrich Gustav Piffl

Piffl was born in 1864. He entered the augustinian canonry of Klosterneuburg near Vienna in 1883 and was elected provost of that house in 1907. He became archbishop of Vienna in 1913 and cardinal in 1914. Piffl waas an outstanding personality who on the one hand had all the skills in leadership required to lead a diocese like Vienna after the collapse of the monarchy in 1918 and on the other hand was so modest, friendly and generous and so very close to the people and all of the clergy that he was labelled "Volksbischof" (bishop pf the people) in more than one source. Mainly because of his work the church and the Christian politicians in Austria were able to regroup and combine forces in the days of re-orientataion in 1918. When Piffl died in 1932, the church in Austria had gained new momentum and strength.

4.) Theodor Innitzer

Born in 1875, Innitzer grew up in a poor family. After leaving school he had to work in textile factories to assure the survival of the family. With the support of a local dean he was able to enter the college, then the seminary and the university. He was ordained a priest in 1902. After a short period of pastoral work he returned to the seminary, where he was vice-rector and later rector. Because Innitzer was not only interested in science but also in social and political matters, chancellor Schober called him into his cabinet and made him minister of social administration. He became archbishop of Vienna in September 1932 and cardinal in March 1933. After the end of the Austrian state and the violent "Anschluß" in 1938, Innitzer assumed a somewhat naive role. He paid the Führer a courtesy visit and signed, together with other Austrian bishops, a document written by Gauleiter Bürckel, in which the Austrian episcopacy advises the population to vote for the "Anschluß" in the referendum waiting to be held. Reality soon caught up with the cardinal. In October 1938 Innitzer gave a homily in the cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna, where he told the listeners, that there is only one "führer": Christ. The Nazis took this as an insult to the Hitler. After the mass the cardinal repeated the speech outside of his episcopal palace. Hundreds of catholic youths were there, cheering and applauding. Again, this upset the Nazis and they sent some Hitler-youth shock troops, who were supposed to rough up the crowd and make them go home. The situation escalated so badly, that finally the Nazis stormed the episcopal palace, in which the cardinal and some other priests hid. The Hitler-youth sacked and devastated all rooms. What they didn’t steal, they smashed to pieces or tore apart. The cardinal was able to escape through an underground tunnel system into the cathedral, but one of his curates was thrown out of the window. If you scroll back up to the portrait of caridnal Nagl, you can see some slashes in the canvas. They were inflicted by daggers during the devastation of the palace. Shortly after this event the Catholic press and Catholic societies were forbidden. In 1940 Innitzer erected a bureau in the archiepiscopal palace, officially called "welfare organization for non-arian catholics". This organization saved the lives of many jews. Despite all that Innitzer remained a controversial figure due to his naive behavior in the early phase of the Nazi occupation. Even today his life and work are being discussed in numerous publications.

5.) Cardinal König

He was born in 1905 and died in 2004. Archbishop of Vienna from 1956 until 1985. In the 1970s he worked, together with Austrian Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, towards a reconciliation between socialism and the Catholic Church. Within the Church, he was mainly concerned with questions of ecumenism. Nice photo, though.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I might be totally wrong here...

... but while in Germany a couple of weeks ago, I overheard a discussion of some people in a cafe about the rapid success of the HI-virus in Africa and the vital role of the Catholic Church concerning the issue. The point on which everybody seemed to agree was something that might be summed up as: "Yeah, it's obvious that everybody in Africa has aids, because the Church says nobody should use condoms."

I didn't really pay attention to what every individual had to contribute to the discussion afterwards. I paid my coffee and walked home. The phrase with the condoms though still sort of ligered around in my head. And then it struck me. "Wait a minute!" I thought. "On the one hand you have Catholics that are willing to follow the Church's teaching and demands as far as to the point where they endanger their lives directly. 'We are not supposed to use condoms, but we still want to have sex. So let's just do it without'. On the other hand you have the same Church teaching the same people that they should not have sex outside of marriage and not if it doesn't serve reproduction. Following this teaching, the people would not risk their lives but would only have to learn to control their desire. Why would these people listen to the Church in the first case and not in the latter?" So something doesn't quite make sense there, does it?

"But it is ruthless to not allow condoms, when you know what evil might result in it," I hear some on the people in the cafe cry. Right. Because everybody knows that the HI-virus is transmitted by absent rubber skins, not by sexual intercourse.

"But," some might argue. "They are human beings after all. So they just have to have sex every now and then." Well, they also have to stay alive. So, have I missed the re-definition of "man" from "rational animal" to "lust-controlled shag-robot", or what is going on?

Just wondering...

Friday, November 04, 2005

If this doesn't scare you ...

... then nothing will.

I know it is a long read, but check out Theodore Dalrymple's article The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris in the City Journal. It was published in the Autumn of 2002! Take a look at Paris today and tell me that we don't need to pray for Europe and Christianity.

What else will it take to finally open the eyes of the preachers of multiculturalism, "tolerance" (read: indifference, if not apathy), liberalism etc.?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Rome wasn't build in a day...

... and I am afraid it might take more than 24 hours to at least get an idea of what this city is about. So forgive my laziness during the past weeks, I just wasn't able to turn my feelings and thoughts into words.

I took some very extensive walks through the city. This created pizza-size blisters on my spoiled feet, because they are used to asphalt, not copplestone. I neglected the "2500 years and still rocking"-monuments so far and concentrated more on the churches and palazzi. I have always been very interested in the Eternal City and spent a lot of time reading books about its history (only from the 1st to the 18th century, though). When I dig my way through the hordes of Europe-travelling baseball caps, that by their inaccurate and sloppy grasping of this peacefully pulsating beauty degrade it to a mere cold historical corpse. Or when I almost trip over salesman from every imaginable country and ethical/cultural background, who are offering fake Louis Vitton, Ray Ben or Rolex or not so fake plastic crap on the streets. Or when I enter a church where I see electronic candles burning in front of one side-altar, while in front of another an indescribably horrid peace of clay resembling some Biblical scene is presented as the visible proof of the connection between church and art. When any of this happens, I sometimes get the strange feeling, that there exists an invisible second population in Rome. Prelates, coachmen, artists, beggars, courtesans, Swiss chocolate manufacturers, German writers, muggers and sbirri, who all press themselves against the walls, intimidated and confused and ask 'What have you done to our city, and why don't you just give it back to us?'

Ah well, you have to take what you get, I suppose.

The Angelicum is a nice place. Most of the students are men from the USA or sisters from Africa. Studying might actually proove to be less hard than I feared, which is good, because I want to keep this short and sweet. Being as old and grey as I am, you don't want to waste any time on your way to becoming a priest.

An interesting thing I found out the other day is, that if you do not want the sometimes fairly surly romans to give you any grief, it is best to leave a first impression that says 'I want this and that and I am willing to kick butt if I don't get it right here and right now!'. That makes most of the cab-drivers and shopkeepers think you are a kindred spirit and so they will treat you with some respect, if not kindness.

As for the Roman traffic: It is not an urban myth, it is everything you ever heard about it and more. Let me put it this way: Never in my entire life have I NOT been run over by a car so many times. It amazes me every day, that I am not up to my hip in smashed cars, pulverized motorbikes and strangely twisted corpses while I walk through Rome.

That's it for now. If you got any tips (restaurants, antique book stores, the best coffee in town etc.), let me know!