Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Heresy of "Don't Judge -- Be Nice"

Rocco Marconi - Christ and the Adulteress, circa 1525

It's a popular narrative from the eighth chapter of John's gospel (John 8:1-11). A woman is caught in the very act of adultery. She is dragged before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees, so as to put Jesus to a test. They wanted to see what he would do with her. The Torah (Law of the Jews) from the Old Testament dictated that she be stoned. (My question is: where was the man she committed adultery with? They're both guilty.) Contrite and broken, the woman lay prostrate before Jesus, obviously sorry and penitent for her sin. He told the scribes and Pharisees they were right. The Torah does command that she be stoned to death, for that is the lawful penalty of adultery, and that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. Jesus then began writing in the sand. The Scriptures don't tell us what he was writing, but many believe it was the Ten Commandments, which of course all of us have broken at some time in our lives. One by one, they all dropped their stones and walked away. Then Jesus asked the woman: "Where did they go, has no one condemned you?" She answered: "No one, Lord." Jesus replied: "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more."

It's that last phrase that is the key to the whole thing. "Go and sin no more." With that one statement, which he used many times, Jesus made it crystal clear that sin is a real thing, that he does not condone it in any way, and that if people are truly penitent, they should stop doing it. Sadly, it seems that this one point is lost on a growing number of Catholics today.

It's a term ChurchMilitant.Com has been using for many years now -- "The Church of Nice" -- but I don't think I fully understood it until recently. The Catholic Church is in the midst of the greatest crisis it has seen since the Arian Heresy. I do believe what is going on right now is catastrophic, and could very well result in a massive schism in the very near future, outside of some kind of divine intervention. When I say massive, I mean MASSIVE, such as the likes we have not seen since the Protestant Reformation. It may even dwarf that schism in comparison.

I am talking about the Church of Nice here. What is the Church of Nice? Well, let me tell you. It's not Catholic. Unfortunately, however, it is currently joined at the hip with the Catholic Church in the United States. What is it? Well, here it is in a nutshell...
The Church of Nice consists of those Catholics who believe, in the most sincere way, that the message of the Gospel is simply "don't judge others and be nice." 
That's it. That's the Church of Nice in a nutshell. The whole concept of sin, atonement, redemption, repentance and sanctification mean absolutely nothing to these people. They truly believe, in their heart of hearts, that the only thing Jesus really taught us is to never judge anyone or anything, and just be nice to people.

So that means we never judge sin as sin. We never tell people they're doing anything wrong. We never speak of anything as being wrong. And we are always just sweet and syrupy to each other, all the time, and pretend everything is fine. That is the Church of Nice.

Would it shock you if I said that MILLIONS of Catholics in America actually believe this? What if I told you that number was actually in the TENS OF MILLIONS? What if I told you that no less than HALF of all Catholics in the United States are full, active and participating members of the Church of Nice.

Now what if I told you the Church of Nice is built on an absolute heresy called Moral Relativism. What is Moral Relativism? It's a heresy that says that there are no actual God-given standards of absolute right and wrong. Morality is rather defined by social norms. So whatever society views as socially acceptable, that is considered "right." While as whatever society views as socially unacceptable, that is considered "wrong." Because society is always changing, so is morality. Therefore, there can be no moral absolutes. A good example of this is when people scoff at a traditional Christian virtue, and say something like: "Come on! It's the 21st century!"

Since when is morality determined by looking at a calendar?

Nevertheless, that is exactly what moral relativists want us to think. The calendar says 2017, so therefore we are supposed to change our moral standards now?

Of course, time isn't the only thing that relativists use as a moral compass. They also use geography. Standards of right and wrong can be determined by where you live too. For example; in Western countries its okay for a woman to leave her head uncovered, but in the Middle East, that's morally unacceptable. So therefore Western women should cover their heads when visiting there. These are the two big things moral relativists use to determine morality. Culture might be another one. But after all is said and done, the moral relativist subscribes to the notion that what is right for you may be wrong for me, and vice versa, what is wrong for you may be right for me.

Moral relativism is an extremely common and pernicious heresy which is widely believed outside of the Church, but inside the Church it has an equally powerful influence. It manifests itself in the ever popular "don't judge" mantra as well as the equally popular "be nice" mantra. Why is it so pervasive within the Church? I'll tell you why. Because too many priests use those exact same words, and repeat them constantly, as their own mantra. I've heard it with my own ears folks, from the lips of many priests, more times than I can count. Pity it's a heresy.

So did Jesus really tell us: "don't judge and be nice?" Well, not exactly. You see, it's actually a bit more nuanced than that. On the one hand, Jesus did say the following...
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 
-- Matthew 7:1-5
This is the verse most commonly cited to back the "don't judge" mantra. But what exactly was Jesus talking about here? Was he saying we can never judge anything at all? Well, that would be silly! How could we know what is right and wrong if we can never judge anything? While "don't judge" Catholics are so quick to point out Matthew 7:1-5, they fail to see what Jesus said about judging in John's gospel...
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.  
-- John 7:24
So in Matthew's gospel, Jesus told us not to judge. But in John's gospel, he specifically told us to judge, and judge righteously! What gives? To judge or not to judge? That is the question. Or is Jesus just contradicting himself?

John's passage makes it clear that we are not to judge according to appearance. In other words, we're not to make judgements based on insufficient information. St. Paul elaborates on this in his first epistle to Timothy...
The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgement, but the sins of others appear later. So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden. 
-- 1 Timothy 5:24-25
In other words, St. Paul warns us that sometimes things are not always as they seem. People can hide their sins, but they can't hide them forever. Just as good deeds will reveal themselves eventually, so will people's sins. Sooner or later the truth catches up with us all. So we shouldn't judge prematurely, or with insufficient information. Nevertheless, we are still expected to judge, both by Jesus Christ and St. Paul.

So from this alone we know that we can judge, but we must judge righteously, not prematurely or with insufficient information. So what then was Jesus talking about in Matthew's gospel when he told us not to judge at all? Again, St. Paul elaborates...
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgement upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. We know that the judgement of God rightly falls upon those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? 
-- Romans 2:1-3
Hypocrisy is the key here. If we look at Jesus' words in Matthew 7, and compare them with St. Paul's words in Romans 2, the whole passage against judging starts to make a lot more sense. Jesus is condemning hypocrisy! He did this so many times in his ministry. He's not condemning judging per se'. Rather, he's condemning the ever popular practice of condemning others for something you yourself do. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. In other words, you can make a judgement about another person, provided you check yourself first, and make sure you're not doing the exact same type of thing. But wait, there is more.

We also should not judge people in matters of private opinion...
As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgement on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand. 
-- Romans 14:1-4
Actually, this is a pretty big problem. While men are not innocent of this, I do personally find that this is a particular problem among women. Women often tend to judge each other over the most petty things: clothing, makeup, mannerisms, hairstyles, jewellery, personal habits, talking too much, not talking enough, shyness, boldness, etc., etc., etc.. Yes, men can be guilty of this too, but let's face it ladies, it's usually the fairer sex who do this more often.

Still yet, the Church of Nice, meaning the "don't judge" Catholics, will use Jesus' words in Matthew 7 to condemn anyone attempting to call out another for blatantly sinful behaviour. Today, this is most prevalent in the Homosexualist Movement, as we saw recently in The Paprocki Affair. They hold Jesus' strong prohibition against judging as a shield to cover their evil deeds. "Don't judge me" they wail, "you hateful bigot! Jesus said not to judge!" As I've already pointed out above, while he did say this in regards to hypocritical judging in Matthew 7, he also commanded his followers to "judge righteously" in John 7. So clearly Jesus DID NOT prohibit all judging. Again, St. Paul helps to clear this up...
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 
-- Ephesians 5:11
Here St. Paul explicitly tells Christians to "expose" works of darkness. What else could he mean by this than to point out when others are doing something wrong? What else could he mean but judging? Indeed, that's exactly what he's talking about. We most certainly can judge, and we should judge, but when we do so we should judge actions not people. So let's look again at Jesus' words in John, and compare them to what the Torah has to say about the same subject...
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.  
-- John 7:24
You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour. 
-- Leviticus 19:15
Here both Jesus, and the Torah, tell us to judge. But they're both very specific about the kind of judgement we are allowed to do. Normally, I don't cite the Torah often, because Christ is the Christian's Torah. Nevertheless, when Christ speaks specifically to a topic like this, and it matches what the Torah says, we can see the total consistency in approach, and it gives us a great context. When we judge, we are to judge people's actions (their sins or good works), but we are not to judge the person's soul, nor his state in life, background, heritage, etc. That is God's business. We cannot know what is really going on in a person's heart. People will often do evil things for reasons that are not apparent. Often times there is more to the story than meets the eye. Good people do bad things all the time. We must judge the action as wrong (sin), but at the same time, we must not judge the soul of the person doing it. We cannot know what is really happening inside his heart and mind. We cannot always know what sort of horrible circumstances might have led to this evil act (sin). We judge the act, but not the man/woman doing it.

So therein lies the heart of the matter. When the "don't judge" Catholic says "don't judge," he should be corrected with the Biblical context. What Jesus really said was "don't judge hypocritically" but we should "judge righteously."

The Church of Nice is dangerous, because in the end there is no limit to the amount of evil that can be justified under the mantra of "don't judge." Likewise, the sister mantra of "be nice" is equally pernicious, because it invokes the idea that we should never confront anyone for anything. It invokes the idea that we have to put on a phoney smiley face, pretend that everything is okay when it's not, and let our fellow man commit spiritual suicide by persisting in his unrepentant sin until death.

Now having said that, we certainly shouldn't go around like prudes, judging every sin we see. That's not the point. The point is, we should be as generous as possible, cutting people as much slack as we can, realising we can't always understand the circumstances that make people behave in the ways they do. We should be joyful, forgiving, and never judge another person's soul. However, at the same time, that doesn't mean we pretend there is no sin at all. When people do things that are clearly sinful, and they refuse to acknowledge it as sin, we are morally obligated (in true Christian charity) to point out to them that it is sin and they should repent. We don't judge the person, because we're all sinners here and there. But we do judge the action as sinful and wrong.

The Church of Nice is teaching a false gospel. That gospel goes something like this...
  1. God loves you just the way you are, and would never condemn you.
  2. Jesus died for our sins, so now God condones them.
  3. Sin is relative anyway, so it doesn't really matter.
  4. Don't judge at all, just be nice.
The real Catholic Church, the one currently being invaded by the Church of Nice, teaches the real gospel, which goes something like this...
  1. God loves us but sin is real, and it separates us all from God.
  2. Jesus Christ died to forgive our sins, not condone them.
  3. Now anyone may be forgiven of sins, if only we will sincerely try to repent of them, and continually ask for forgiveness as needed.
  4. Show true love for others by judging the sin but not the sinner.
Granted, this is all an oversimplification, but you get the idea. There is a radical difference between the Catholic Church and the Church of Nice. Sadly, in our society, the two are joined at the hip. It's going to take some really good priests and bishops, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to surgically separate the two. One way or another, there is going to be a schism eventually. Perhaps, with enough prayer, and enough clergy willing to wake up to reality, that schism might be limited to minimal damage.

Regarding the woman caught in adultery, the problem with this story was that the scribes and Pharisees were not interested in saving the poor sinner's soul or trying to rehabilitate her. They just wanted her dead. But more then that, they wanted to see if Jesus would condone her execution. Jesus changed the game. Instead he confirmed they were right, and she should be stoned, but that only the one without guilt should do it. Nobody threw a single rock, and in that one analysis, Jesus changed the paradigm. He pointed out that while sin is real, our goal shouldn't be to judge sinners for the sake of condemning them, but rather our judgement should be to call them to repentance, so that hopefully God can rehabilitate them, and heal their wounded lives. Once rehabilitated, they are no different than the rest of us, and we cannot ever judge them for the previous lifestyle they repented of. In other words, judge the sin but not the sinner. Judge the act but not the actor. Judge what is wrong but not the wrongdoer. So it's not "don't judge and be nice," but rather "judge righteously and be merciful."

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Paprocki Affair

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois

His Excellency, Thomas Paprocki, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, recently issued the following statement on his Facebook Page. By the way, if you haven't already done it, please go to Bishop Paprocki's Facbook Page and give it a "Like." Here's the statement...
These norms regarding same-sex “Marriage” and related pastoral issues are necessary in light of changes in the law and in our culture regarding these issues. Jesus Christ himself affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising it to the dignity of a sacrament. Consequently, the Church has not only the authority, but the serious obligation, to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state. Regarding the specific issue of funeral rites, people who had lived openly in same-sex marriage, like other manifest sinners that give public scandal, can receive ecclesiastical funeral rites if they have given some signs of repentance before their death. Jesus began his public ministry proclaiming the Gospel of God with these words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). People with same-sex attraction are welcome in our parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as we repent our sins and pray for God to keep us in His grace... 
See the Same-Sex Policy Decree Here
The full decree is both charitable and consistent with sound Catholic orthodoxy. It is a triumph of actual Catholicism in the United States, something rarely seen anymore. His statement was met by both praise and denunciation. Praise was given by faithful Catholics, myself included, and denunciation by many different types; watered-down fake Catholics, former Catholics, non-Catholics, active homosexual activists, atheists, etc. I know, because I read them all. The gist of their message was the same and predictable. They declared the good bishop's statement and policy an act of "hate" based solely on "bigotry." I'm being kind. Actually most of their comments were vulgar and not fit for print here. In response I posted many things, all in as much charity as possible, but in summary I gave this one reply to all, and then posted the same on my own Facebook page...
We are all called to repentance and the sacraments are NOT entitlements. As a heterosexual married man, even I can be denied the sacraments if I live in a scandalous way, and I'm even supposed to deny myself the sacrament of communion if I know I've committed a mortal sin. The sacraments are not entitlements. Jesus came to forgive our sins, not condone them. He told us to repent. Go and sin no more. It is the Church's responsibility to safeguard the sacraments and yes, even withhold them to encourage us to repent of our sins. It's not "hate" when you're just doing your job, as Bishop Paprocki is. It's not "bigotry" when you try to stop people from committing spiritual suicide by receiving the sacraments while in a state of unrepentant mortal sin.
So therein I believe I addressed the root of the problem. Naturally, while my own statement received several positive "likes" it was also derided as "hate-filled" and "bigoted." Of course, I expected as much. It was so predictable. Here's the problem, as I see it. We now live in a culture of total entitlement, and within that culture of total entitlement, there is this notion that the Catholic Church is somehow a public institution, on par with a state Church. So, those who feel entitled naturally want the Church to entitle them, as if it were part of the state. They expect that if they will only just apply enough pressure, the Catholic Church will bend to their will, and give them exactly what they want. So exactly what is it they want? Well, here's the list. Such people are expecting one, or more, of the items below to be implemented by the Catholic Church...
  1. Total acceptance of their homosexual temptations as a "God-given grace."
  2. Total acceptance of same-sex "marriage" as a sacrament.
  3. Performance of same-sex "weddings" in Catholic churches.
  4. Elevation of homosexual relations as at least on par with, preferably superior to, heterosexual relations.
  5. Acceptance of transsexualism as "normal" and "grace-filled."
  6. Ordination of homosexuals openly, with blessing and encouragement given to homosexual activity by such clergy.
  7. Ordination of women, since gender is fluid anyway.
  8. Promotion of adoption of children, by Catholic charities, to same-sex couples. 
  9. Teaching that Jesus Christ as at least ambiguously homosexual himself, as were some of his apostles.
  10. Teaching of some or all of these things to children in Catholic schools and Catechism classes.
The Homosexualist Agenda is pretty universal both inside and outside the Catholic Church. There is nothing new here, and it's not personal. The Homosexualist Agenda is the same for all churches. Those of us who were formally Anglican, like myself, sadly watched this unfold in The Episcopal Church USA, as well as various other denominations. Baptists and Pentecostals are in their cross-hairs too, they just haven't gotten to them yet. Right now the Homosexualists have all of their attention focused on the U.S. Catholic Church, because you see, we're the next domino to fall. If they can get America's largest Christian Church -- The Catholic Church -- to crumble beneath their will, all the rest will fall in short order thereafter. The Baptists will scatter to the wind. The Pentecostals will too. You have to understand, it's nothing personal. It's just business. They have an agenda to push, and the last stronghold standing in their way is The Catholic Church. So they must attack us. They must break us. We shouldn't take it personally. It's just business to them.

The attack methods are predictable and banal now. They accuse us of "hate" and "bigotry" for not accepting all, or at least part, of their Homosexualist Agenda. They frame themselves as the "poor, persecuted, minority" and the Catholic Church as the "rich, powerful, persecutors" who want to "deprive" homosexuals of their "human rights" for the sake of "bigotry" and "hate." You have to understand that these accusations, these terms, are just the tools of the trade. It doesn't matter if they think they're true or not. I'm sure the promoters of such terms know there are a few useful idiots who really do believe this stuff, but for the most part, it's just verbal leverage. Again, it's all just business. We shouldn't take it personally. The objective is to bully the Church hierarchy with bad press. That's what it's all about, until one of these bishops cracks. That will be the proverbial "chink in the armour" they need to bring the whole Catholic edifice down -- or so they think. Why not? It's worked with other religious organisations. 

The fact that many Catholic clergy are closeted homosexuals doesn't help one bit. It only makes things worse. You can tell who they are by their silence on these matters, or sometimes by their public support of the Homosexualist movement itself. This leads to weakness on the part of the laity, who are afraid to speak up, and afraid to act in accord with Church teaching. They know they won't have the support of their homosexual-friendly priest, and in some tragic cases, not even the support of their homosexual-friendly bishop. So they hide in the shadows themselves, holding their tongues, all the while allowing the Homosexualist movement to continue to infiltrate the Church.

Then there is another movement going on, and this one is much bigger than the Homosexualist one. This is what I call the Entitlement Culture, and it's been well entrenched in the U.S. Catholic Church since the 1970s. It presents a much greater threat than the Homosexualist movement, even though the two often go hand-in-hand. The Homosexualist movement is dependent on the Entitlement Culture, but the Entitlement Culture is not dependent on the Homosexualist movement. In fact, the Entitlement Culture has been operating independently of the Homosexalist movement for a long time.

At the core of the Entitlement Culture is the heresy of moral relativism. Moral relativism asserts that there is no absolute right or wrong, but rather that "rightness" or "wrongness" is determined solely by social norms. Whatever is considered normal behaviour in society, that is considered "right." While what is considered abnormal behaviour in society, that is considered "wrong." So for example, standards of right and wrong can change, and are always in flux, because society is always changing what it considers to be "normal," or in other words, what most people are doing. Sadly, there are many moral relativists within the Catholic Church and this drives, in big part, the Entitlement Culture.

The Entitlement Culture basically operates on the premise that if one bears the name "Catholic" then one is entitled to all of the sacraments, regardless of one's state of grace or condition of sin. In other words, it goes something like this: "I call myself Catholic, therefore I'm entitled to receive communion, so give it to me now, or you're a bigoted hater!" Actually, a lot more people fall into this movement than you might think. We don't just see this among Homosexualists. We also see it among fornicators, co-habitators, serial-monogamists, polygamists, masterbaters, voyeurs, artificial-contracepters, thieves, gossips, greedy people, those who defraud their employees of a just wage, etc. There is a sense in the U.S. Catholic Church that if one is just willing to bear the name "Catholic," or go through an RCIA program, or be raised in a Catholic school, that one is automatically entitled to the sacraments. There is a sense that repentance of sin is not necessary (Because in a morally relative society what is sin anyway?) and the Church's teachings on morality are subject to change. I think the later comes from weak clergy who are unwilling to defend Church teaching, and sadly, we've had too many of those in recent decades. In the end, the sum-total morality of most Catholics is simply: "Don't judge and be nice." In the eyes of too many people who call themselves Catholic, that is what it means to be Catholic. "Just don't judge and be nice."

So we come full circle now to the Paprocki Affair. Here in the Summer of 2017, an entire diocese is now on edge, solely because her bishop decided to actually do his job, and defend Catholic teaching! Think of it, a Catholic bishop actually behaved like a Catholic bishop, and now the proverbial "snowflakes are melting in the streets." Among them are the Homosexualists. We would expect no less from them. But also among them are those Catholics who subscribe to the Entitlement Culture. They fully expect anyone who bears the name "Catholic," even a professed "out and proud" homosexual in a same-sex "marriage," to be able to receive communion, and enjoy all the rites of a good and practising Catholic, including the Church changing its teaching to accommodate his or her vice. Yes. This is where we are today. You're not dreaming. This isn't a nightmare. This is reality. This is the Summer of 2017, Main Street, USA, and no, it's not going to get any better.

So where do we go from here?

Well, first of all we have to accept that this is our new reality, and it's not going away. The second thing we need to do is clearly establish to our surrounding communities that the Catholic Church is not a state-run church or a publicly controlled entity. We need to demonstrate to them that we Catholics are a separate and distinct community from the rest of society. We are in this world, but not of it. We interact with mainstream society, but we are not just another part of it. We are a called-out people. We are an independent nation. We have our own beliefs, our own norms, and our own laws. (Yes, our own LAWS, and this includes our own courts, lawyers and judges.) We are not subject to the ways of the rest of the world. We do follow the laws of the land -- to an extent -- but our own laws (just like our own doctrines) take precedence among our own members. 

Very rarely do people attack the Amish. In fact, most people simply don't expect the Amish to be anything but -- well -- Amish! There is a reason for this. The Amish have firmly established themselves as an independent and autonomous community within society. They function under their own rules and everybody knows it. Obviously, most people wouldn't want to live under Amish rules, and that's why most people aren't Amish. Nevertheless, nobody tries to change the Amish, or make them comply with some social agenda. This is because everybody knows the Amish are just "Amish" and they're not going to change for anyone. They've firmly established themselves as a separate, independent and autonomous community within the greater society.

The same could be said of the Orthodox Jewish community. Like the Amish, they have established themselves as a separate, independent and autonomous community within the greater society. The same could be said of various Muslim communities, and so on.

Catholics certainly shouldn't withdraw from mainstream society like the Amish do, but we should re-establish ourselves as an independent and autonomous community within the greater society like the Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities have done. This seems foreign to us right now, because we Christians here in the West haven't had to do it in over 1,000 years. The last time Western Christians had to do that was toward the end of the first millennium, when Christians had to live as separate, independent and autonomous communities within the larger Nordic Pagan culture of Scandinavia. Prior to that, it was within Germanic Pagan cultures in Europe. This condition was short-lived, because these societies converted rather quickly, once a critical mass had been reached. So they're not good comparisons. Probably the best comparison to be made in Western culture is nearly 2,000 years ago, when early Christians had to live under the thumb of the Pagan Roman Empire. My point here is that we Christians in the West have since then been so intertwined with Western government and society at large, that we literally don't know how to act in a separate, independent and autonomous way. We've simply forgotten how to do it. This is one reason why the Entitlement culture has steamrolled us for the last half century.

Probably our best example to model ourselves after is the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic communities, who have lived under oppressive societies in Eastern Europe for decades and the Middle East for centuries. They know how to do it. You don't hear about Homosexualists going after the Eastern Orthodox communities so much, because again, they're thought of as "separate" and "independent" from mainstream society. Nor do you hear of their own members boasting an entitlement mentality, because once again, their own members see themselves as separate and independent from mainstream society. They have to follow their own laws, which are different from the laws and social norms of society at large. I think it's high time Roman Catholic priests and bishops begin cultivating this way of thinking within their parishes and dioceses.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Divine Worship: The Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite

Divine Worship Mass at Westminster Cathedral on January 11, 2016
Photo: Ordinariate Expats Blog, used by permission.
Recently, His Excellency, Steven Lopes, Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, gave an address at the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary at the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. This was on June 21, 2017. Here is a short excerpt...
Let me begin by articulating something of a thesis statement. I would like to state at the outset that our Ordinariate liturgy is often misunderstood and therefore not described correctly. 
Because our liturgy shares many traditional elements and gestures in common with the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it is thought to be a type of “subset” of that form: “the Extraordinary Form in English” as it is sometimes called. But this is neither accurate nor, honestly, helpful. For one thing, the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, a principal source for the Ordinariate Missal, is older than the Missal of Saint Pius V, and has its own origins in the Sarum Missal, a variant of the Roman Rite going back to the eleventh century. My first goal today is for you to understand Divine Worship on its own terms, to see the historical and ritual context out of which it develops, and in that light to recognize how it might contribute to the ongoing renewal and development of the Roman Rite. 
And so my thesis: Divine Worship is more than a collection of liturgical texts and ritual gestures. It is the organic expression of the Church’s own lex orandi as it was taken up and developed in an Anglican context over the course of nearly five-hundred years of ecclesial separation, and is now reintegrated into Catholic worship as the authoritative expression of a noble patrimony to be shared with the whole Church. As such, it is to be understood as a distinct form of the Roman Rite. Further, while Divine Worship preserves some external elements more often associated with the Extraordinary Form, its theological and rubrical context is clearly the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. That I situate Divine Worship within the context of the Ordinary Form becomes a fact more discernable when one considers the dual hermeneutic of continuity and reform, which informs the project. 
read the full address here
So, based on Bishop Lopes' explanation of Divine Worship, it is NOT the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) in English, and it does a disservice to both Divine Worship and the Extraordinary Form to call it that. Rather, it is an entirely new form of the Roman Rite, neither Ordinary nor Extraordinary, but is more closely situated within the context of the Ordinary Form. Therefore, it can most accurately be described as the "Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite" or the "Anglican Form of the Roman Rite."

Personally, I prefer the term "Ordinariate Form" over "Anglican Form," not only because Bishop Lopes appears to prefer it, but also because it reduces confusion, not among Anglicans but among regular diocesan Roman Catholics. For some reason, whenever the word "Anglican" is mentioned, the thought "Protestant" registers in their minds. Immediately what follows is a myriad of questions such as...
  • Well, is it Catholic or Protestant?
  • Is this really Catholic at all?
  • What? Now their letting the Anglicans in without becoming Catholic?
  • Shouldn't these Anglicans just convert and become Catholic?
  • Is this liturgy just for Anglicans or can Catholics come too?
  • If Catholics go to this mass, do they become Anglicans?
  • etc.
I think the problem here is that the words "Anglican" and "Protestant" have been too closely associated with each other for far too long in the Catholic collective consciousness. This is why I go with the more innocuous term "Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite."

It's a shame really, because I do like the word "Anglican" and to me, it sounds more descriptive of what Divine Worship really is. So while I still do think the terms "Anglican Form" and "Ordinariate Form" are technically interchangeable, my experience dealing with diocesan Roman Catholics tells me to go with "Ordinariate Form" for the time being. It lowers resistance, reduces questions and breaks through the communication barrier. 

So Divine Worship really is the third form of the Roman Rite -- the Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite, written in Sacred English and containing therein the specific prayers and rubrics particular to the Anglican Patrimony for the last 1,000 years. These are based in the 11th century Sarum Missal, a Catholic liturgy used exclusively in England for 500 years prior to the English Reformation. In fact, the original 1549 Book of Common Prayer (a Protestant text) was based heavily on this medieval Catholic liturgy. So what we have in Divine Worship is the Catholic Church reclaiming a form of liturgy that was rightly hers to begin with. It is a form of liturgy that is in fact older than the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) in its origin.

I think its important for us to get a proper understanding of this. The Roman Rite now has three forms...
  1. The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (always in Latin)
  2. The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (many vernacular translations)
  3. The Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite (always in Sacred English)
Each form has its own particular prayers and rubrics that are specific to its kind, and each form is unique. As Bishop Lopes says, the Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite finds itself in a closer context to the Ordinary Form, because it's part of the dual hermeneutic of continuity and reform.

Now that being said, who would appreciate Divine Worship? Traditional or Contemporary Catholics? I think its a mistake to assume one or the other. In fact, Divine Worship has a little in there for both groups. I think anyone who is Catholic would have good reason to appreciate Divine Worship. The truth is, I've seen Contemporary Catholics both like it and dislike it. I've also seen Traditional Catholics both like it and dislike it. It's really a matter of taste, and in truth, its not for everyone. Nevertheless, anyone is free to look into it and find out for himself.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

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