Are Practicing Catholics Becoming Irrelevant in France?

Author Joseph Pearce recently wrote an article with a hopeful title that caught my eye and I’m sure many others, “The Son Rises in the West: France & the Resurrection of the Faith”. It’s based on a piece from the Jesuit magazine America by Pascal-Emmanuel Goby, who cites evidence for what he sees as the early stage of a Catholic renaissance in France. He noticed that his church was getting increasingly crowded on Sundays:

“I have started going to other, random parishes on Sundays, just to see if this is a real trend. And indeed, Sunday high Mass is packed in most parishes in Paris. This is also true in Lyon, the second biggest city in the country.”

Perhaps he’s on to something, but he comes up with the curious notion that since the percentage of practicing Catholics in the country is so small (1.8%), they may be less relevant to this revival than a much larger segment within the 48% who are non-practicing. Continue reading “Are Practicing Catholics Becoming Irrelevant in France?”

The Reform of the Reform of the Reform…

In a recently published interview, Pope Francis was again disparaging those with a preference for the traditional Latin mass, referring to them as nostalgic and marginalizing them and the mass itself. He also quashed the notion of a “reform of the reform” as a restoration of certain elements of traditional liturgy:

“Pope Benedict accomplished a just and magnanimous gesture to reach out to a certain mindset of some groups and persons who felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves. But it is an exception. That is why one speaks of an ‘extraordinary’ rite. The ordinary in the Church is not this. It is necessary to approach with magnanimity those attached to a certain form of prayer. But the ordinary is not this. Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium must go on as they are. To speak of a ‘reform of the reform’ is an error.” (trans. by Rorate-Caeli)

The following is an excerpt from a post I wrote about a year ago. Bishop Floyd Begin of Oakland, California (1962-1977) had attended every session of the Second Vatican Council and had even claimed to be the author of Council documents. When it ended in 1964, he returned determined to renovate the cathedral, built in 1893. If anyone knew what the intention of Sacrosanctum Concilium was, it would have been Bishop Begin:

INFLUENCE OF THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL

St. Francis de Sales became known as the “…first cathedral in the United States to be completely remodeled according to the liturgical spirit of the Second Vatican Council”. (All quotations herein are from: Jeffrey M. Burns and Mary Carmen Bautista, We are the Church: A History of the Diocese of Oakland. Strasbourg: Editions du Singe, 2001). The enthusiastic bishop had a bold plan for remodeling the Cathedral:

“With the priest now facing the people, the bishop found the venerable stained glass windows behind the alter distracting. ‘The rather colorful windows in the sanctuary impeded the vision of the service, just like the headlights of an oncoming car do.’ The stained glass windows were covered over by redwood paneling. The interior was whitewashed and the exterior was painted in a creme color [it was red brick]. The alter rail was removed as were all the statues, except for that of Jesus. In sum, the remodeled building followed Vatican II directives and created ‘…an atmosphere conducive to participation, worship, and prayer.'”

The Cathedral interior before the renovation:

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The Cathedral interior after the renovation:

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The new altar:

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THE NEW LITURGY

Since the inspiration for these changes was “…the liturgical spirit of the Second Vatican Council”, by 1969 the Cathedral’s liturgical spirit had incorporated elements from contemporary arts:

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Neil Armstrong

“Dance, slide presentations, photography, innovative preaching [?], all became regular features in the Cathedral liturgies. …In late 1969, the Cathedral featured an Advent series entitled ‘We Hold a Strange Hope’ to explore how to maintain hope in the midst of the social chaos that was engulfing the United States. The first week featured four blown-up portraits hanging in the sanctuary — Che Guevara, Joan Baez, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Neil Armstrong” (p.52).

The historians report that the organ was replaced by an ensemble of strings, brass, piano, and various musicians (p.51). The liturgical innovations attracted national attention:

“In May, 1971, Time Magazine observed, ‘twice each Sunday, the music runs the scale between such unlikely extremes as Gregorian chant and rock. On one recent Sunday, the mixture embraced both Bach’s Aire for the G-String and Amazing Grace. On another, included a Hayden trio, Bob Dylan’s The Times They are A Changin’ and Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is our God.'”

The historians recount that in 1971, during one of the themed liturgies, a song was performed that was composed especially for the occasion, “A Traditionalist’s Lament”. It mocked anyone still attached to the traditional form of the mass. It was sung to the tune of a song from the film Mary Poppins, “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious”:

Refrain:

Introibo. Tantum. Ergo. Kyrie Eleison.

Give me back my pamphlet rack and surplices with lace on.

If Catholic means rock-and-roll I’d rather be a Mason.

Introibo. Tantum. Ergo. Kyrie Eleison.

You can read the rest of the post here. The Cathedral was destroyed in an earthquake some years later, reminding me that in too many cases the vernacularization of the liturgy brings to mind the Tower of Babel rather than Pentecost.

…rjt

St. Teresa of Calcutta and the Priest of Kali

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The Kalighat Home for the Dying

A middle-aged priest from Calcutta was celebrating mass at my church several years ago. His homily centered on a short story about Mother Teresa with whom he seemed to be close. I remember the homily because it deeply moved me.

Calcutta is named after the important Hindu goddess Kali and means “the city of Kali”. She is worshipped as the “Mother of the Universe”. The priest recounted that when Mother Teresa began her service to the poor she and her few sisters had very little money or resources. Every day they would go to a nearby temple of Kali and serve the sick and dying on its doorsteps; it was where they congregated. The head priest of the temple resented the Christian nuns and stirred up the anger of the locals to the point that they would throw rocks. But the numbers of the sick kept growing so the Kali priest complained to authorities. Teresa, however, was able to convince them to give her the old abandoned temple that was on the same grounds; they knew that her work was badly needed by the people of Calcutta. She called it the Kalighat Home For the Dying. Continue reading “St. Teresa of Calcutta and the Priest of Kali”

Types, Symbols, and the Nativity Story

The Five Beasts

Biblical typology is the study of words, events, symbols, etc. that have a broader meaning then their immediate literary context. Numbers connected to events are the most common types found in the Bible;  there were forty days of rain, forty years in the Sinai wilderness, forty days fasting in the desert etc.. It tells us that these events are connected or somehow foreshadow each other. Other important numbers include 1, 3, 7, 8, and 12.

Probably the best book on the subject is The Bible and the Liturgy by Jean Danielou. He looks into the Bible for events that foreshadow Catholic liturgy. One example he explores is the narrative of the flood and how it foreshadowed baptism. The ark going through the noahwater represented the purification of mankind just as for those being baptized, water represents purification from original sin.

Also, he points out that the number of people on the ark is eight, the number that represents…

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Upcoming Radio Interview

Reid Turner will be interviewed regarding his book The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard on Immaculate Heart Radio’s “Bay Area Catholic” show. The interview will be broadcast on KSFB 1260 AM in the San Francisco Bay Area at the following times:

Saturday, October 24 @ 7:00AM PST

Sunday, October 25 @ 12:00 PM PST

Monday, October 26 @ 11:00AM; 9:00PM PST

The broadcast will also air on Immaculate Heart Radio’s “Living the Faith” in Reno, NV on KIHM 920AM at the following times:

Friday, October 23 @ 11:00AM PST

Saturday, October 24 @ 7:00AM PST

Monday, October 26 @ 9:00 AM PST

The programs are podcast on http://www.ihradio.com

Four Signs to Look for that Will Reveal St. Hildegard’s Fifth Era has Arrived

The Five Beasts

The five symbolic beasts in St. Hildegard’s vision represent unique and brief historical ages which occur in a specific sequence. They also represent a particular evil evident in the social context of each period. This affliction of evil is engineered by Satan and intended to progressively damage the Church in preparation of the coming of the Antichrist.

In my book, The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, I demonstrate that the first three eras have already passed and that we are currently in the latter half of the fourth era, that of the Black Pig. Four signs will clearly manifest to us that the present era is ending and the final era, the Grey Wolf, is emerging:

1. A change in the world’s geopolitical composition.

belinwall2The five periods represent first and foremost separate historical eras. Dividing the 20th century into separate eras is very easy for historians to accomplish (it is not always so…

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The Reappearance of St. Hildegard After 800 years and Her Gift to Today’s Church

SEPTEMBER 17TH, THE FEAST DAY OF ST. HILDEGARD OF BINGEN:

The Five Beasts

Hildegard picSt. Hildegard (1098-1179) is the perfect subject for the study of Catholic mystical literature; there are simply no red flags associated with her. We know precisely who she is, a twelfth-century nun born into a noble family and who, because of her visionary gift, was given as a child to be raised by the Church and eventually became an abbess. She is not only a saint but a Doctor of the Church. Her writing was prolific, covering her extraordinary visions of salvation history, medicine, and even music composition. We also have hundreds of her letters; she corresponded with kings, queens, popes, abbots, nuns, etc.

Hildegard was left out of the history books and it is not clear why. She fell into obscurity shortly after her death. She was rediscovered in the late twentieth century by Latin scholars looking for new material for their students; her Latin works were first translated into English in the late 1980s. She was…

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The Beasts and the Symbolism of the Ropes

The Five Beasts

If you look at the image I used for the header at the top of the page you will notice that it comes from the cover to my book. The image was divided into three parts that change randomly as you go to different pages on the blog. If you click around you will see all five beasts. These are illuminations that adorned the Rupertsberg manuscript of Hildegard’s Scivias, the book which contains the vision of the beasts, and are assumed to have been either painted by Hildegard herself or artistically directed by her..

Each beast represents a brief historical period (see here for the background). You will notice that there is something coming out of each of the beast’s mouth. Hildegard describes these as ropes that are attached to the top of a mountain. The mountain, she tells us is meant to symbolize a specific social evil that is characteristic…

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Guadalupe Radio Network Upcoming Interview

Author Reid J Turner will discuss his book, The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, on Guadalupe Radio Network during the GRN Alive morning program hosted by Dave Palmer on July 17, at 8:40 AM Central Time (6:40 Pacific Time). Click here for a list of affiliated stations in your area. You can listen to the show live online by clicking here.

…rjt

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