Friday, December 28, 2012

Books by Dave Armstrong: Mass Movements: Radical Catholic Reactionaries, the New Mass, and Ecumenism

 [205 pages; completed on 20 December 2012 and published at Lulu on the same day; slightly revised on 19 August 2013 (including a new subtitle and some new chapter titles) in order to reflect self-imposed changes in terminology and classification]

--- for purchase information, go to the bottom of the page  ---
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS 


Dedication (p. 3) [read online]

Introduction (p. 5) [read online]


RADICAL CATHOLIC REACTIONARIES vs. MAINSTREAM "TRADITIONALISM"


1. Definitions: Radical Catholic Reactionaries, Mainstream Traditionalists, and Supposed “Neo-Catholics” (p. 11) [read online]

2. Radical Catholic Reactionary Criticism of Catholic  Converts (p. 21)

3. Cordial, Constructive Dialogue with a Mainstream “Traditionalist” (p. 27)


4. RadCathRs vs. Catholic Optimism and Indefectibility (p. 57)

5. Dialogue: Are Vatican II and the New Mass Harmful, in Terms of Drawing in Converts to the Catholic Faith? (p. 61)

6. Dialogue on Supposed Deficiencies in My Treatment of RadCathRs and "Traditionalists" (p. 65)

7. Did Blessed Pope John Paul II Deny the Reality of Hell and/or Teach Universalism? (p. 75)

8. Blessed Pope John Paul II's Teaching on Marital Submission: Consistent Development or Innovation? (p. 83) [read expanded version online]


GENUINE VATICAN II ECUMENISM vs. COUNTERFEIT LIBERAL INDIFFERENTISM


9. Apologia for Catholic Ecumenism and Christian Unity (p. 95)

10. Dialogue on the Necessity of Ecumenism, its Harmony with Apologetics, and St. Paul the Good “Vatican II Ecumenist” (p. 99)

11. Various Thoughts on Salvation “Outside” the Church (p. 123)

12. Does the Catholic Church Equate Allah and Yahweh? (p. 133) [read similar paper online]

13. Dialogue with Several RadCathRs on the “Scandal” (?) of Blessed Pope John Paul II Kissing the Koran (p. 137)


THE TRIDENTINE (EXTRAORDINARY) and PAULINE / NOVUS ORDO (ORDINARY) FORMS of the LATIN RITE MASS 


14. Defense of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, with Massive Historical Documentation from Catholic Tradition (p. 157) [read expanded version online]

15. Dialogue on the Tridentine Mass and Pope Benedict’s 2007 Decree Regarding Wider Availability and Tolerance (p. 185)

16. Thoughts on Excessive Use of Eucharistic Ministers and My Preference of Receiving Communion from a Priest (p. 197) [read expanded dialogue with several priests online]


BACK COVER

 
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Updated on 17 April 2014.


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Saturday, December 08, 2012

St. Nicholas Speaks (My 11th Christmas Poem)

St. Nicholas "Lipensky" (Russian icon from Lipnya Church of St. Nicholas in Novgorod): dated 1294


My name is St. Nicholas; and from the 4th century I do hail;
I was Bishop of Myra, on the southwestern coast of Turkey.
I spent time in the Holy Land, and also in Diocletian's jails;
Fought the Arian heretics at Nicaea, but my history is murky.

I was most known for helping the poor, under cover of night;
Dropping gifts down a chimney, landing in stockings drying.
I loved children and sailors: by grace aiding all whom I might;
Once multiplied wheat, to save many in a famine from dying.

My feast day is December 6th: the day I departed this earth;
My relics still exude sweet myrrh-like rose water every year.
Christians around the world celebrate the day with great mirth;
Lots of stories of my life, young and old alike do annually hear.

I was named Nikolaos the Wonderworker due to many prayers
Answered often through my intercession, with miracles as well.
The Dutch called me Sinterklaas, adding on legends by layers;
They say I leave coins in wooden shoes; maybe so: I won't tell!

The tales and fables grew through the centuries, far and wide;
Mostly in the countries where German and English are spoken.
As Christkindl or Kris Kringle: to Jesus' holy name I was tied;
Now I'm often called Santa Claus: in long tradition unbroken.

In America my legend, through Washington Irving and others,
Spread in folklore, "Twas the night before Christmas," and such.
Thomas Nast drew me as a jolly old soul, of all men a brother;
Of reindeer, North Pole, red suits, and elves were heard much.

At length, the fables became so secular, commercial, and obscure
That their initially Christian contents became shallow and hidden.
It's not Santa who sees all and rewards children good and pure;
But God the Father: the source of all graces and gifts we're given.

It's Jesus Who, dying for us, gave life such deep meaning and hope;
I am just His messenger, spreading His gospel of salvation and peace.
Without His sustaining power and love, surely none of us could cope;
This true joy of Christmas, till the end of the world will never cease.


Written on 8 December 2012: the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

[see also the "Protestant" version or Version II on Facebook: with a few theologically "controversial" lines changed]

[my other ten Christmas poems and many other articles are found on my Christmas web page]

 My four children: Christmas 2010


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Monday, December 03, 2012

Definitions: Radical Catholic Reactionaries, Mainstream “Traditionalists,” and Supposed “Neo-Catholics”

[ source ]


* * *


1) I have much in common with "traditionalists". I admire several things about them: their zeal and concern for orthodoxy, desire to see liturgical and architectural excellence and propriety and traditionalism, observance of traditional Catholic piety and morality, willingness to take on theological liberals and modernists and dissidents, desire to see people come into the fullness of the Catholic faith and into the Church, detestation of the lack of Catholic influence and decline in vocations and historical signs of Catholic vitality, etc. I am usually in agreement with "traditionalists" and consider myself a close ally to them. We disagree on some things, but this is far less than the agreement and unity that is present. This is supremely important to understand and always keep in mind before anyone proceeds to read this book.

I call myself a "Catholic." If pressed as to what "kind" of Catholic, I say "orthodox" (meaning, literally, "correct belief"). If asked what that means, I say, "I accept all that the Church infallibly teaches and submit wholeheartedly to the magisterium of the One True Church, founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ and historically continuous ever since." "Traditionalists" would agree with all this, but I don't share all of their particular concerns or analyses. Nevertheless, I feel quite close to them, and a strong kinship or affinity.

2) "Traditionalists" accept the validity of the Novus Ordo or “New” or Pauline Mass (now also referred to as the “ordinary form”), but sometimes consider it objectively inferior to the Tridentine Mass, (extraordinary form) and (as I wholeheartedly agree) often subjected to the grossest abuses in practice. I agree that all abuses ought to be eliminated, but the Church allows and encourages liturgical diversity within a proper observance, so that people can worship as they please, within the context of correct, orthodox liturgical practice. There are 22 rites in the Catholic Church.

3) I don't have the slightest objection to anyone preferring to attend the Tridentine Mass (or, "Traditional Latin Mass" [TLM] or "extraordinary form"). I was completely in favor of Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 decree (Summorum Pontificum) to make the TLM / EF more widely available (that had been my own position since becoming a Catholic in 1990). I've been attending the only parish in metro Detroit that offered it prior to that time, and have attended the very reverent, traditionally practiced Novus Ordo Latin Mass there since 1991 to the time of writing. This book will consider as “radical Catholic reactionaries” those who insist on (among other things) continually bashing the Pauline “New” Mass (whether they regard it as valid or not), as somehow less than fully Catholic, or doctrinally watered-down: along with insults towards those who prefer it, as second-class Catholics.

4) "Traditionalists" fully accept the Second Vatican Council as a legitimate ecumenical council, but (to various degrees) they usually contend that it was "ambiguous" and was subject to an attempted takeover by modernists in the Church, or is quite different (so they argue) since it was merely “pastoral”. I reply that controversy and subterfuge existed on a human level in all councils. This is precisely why we need the protection of the Holy Spirit, lest human beings make a complete mess of everything in the Church.

5) "Traditionalists" believe that the popes since Pius XII (the usual dividing line in radical Catholic reactionary and sedevacantist analyses) are legitimate popes, though they make many strong criticisms, to various degrees.

6) "Traditionalists" accept the notion of the indefectibility of the Church. I have used the term "quasi-defectibility" to describe the far more radical position of holding that the Church is still the Church, but in very dire condition and barely surviving. I've always agreed (closely following my mentor, Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J.) that modernism is the greatest crisis in the history of the Church. Disagreement with radical Catholic reactionaries (and “traditionalists” to some extent, depending on the person) occurs regarding its exact cause and location, and the solutions to the problem.

7) Many "traditionalists" (and virtually all radical Catholic reactionaries) take a very low view of ecumenism; yet I have often observed that "Catholic ecumenism" is erroneously defined by such critics as heretical indifferentism: something that Vatican II and encyclicals have consistently condemned. The tendency is to think that ecumenism is somehow contradictory to the notion of "no salvation outside the Church" or efforts to do apologetics and to bring people into the fullness of the One True Church (which it is not at all). It’s a confusion of category and intent.

8) I continue to consistently put "traditionalist" in quotes because I deny that the self-identified group has a unique or exclusive monopoly on Catholic tradition, or understanding of it that is qualitatively different from that of any orthodox Catholic. With all due respect, it’s an ultimately improper and unnecessary use. Yet I am willing to at least call “traditionalists” what they call themselves, even if I put it in quotes, to register a "protest" of sorts. In doing so, I am following in spirit the use of Pope Benedict XVI, before he was pope, in The Ratzinger Report (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985). He referred to "the so-called 'traditionalism'" (p. 29). Can you imagine a pope (or future pope) referring to "the so-called 'Dominicans'" or "the so-called 'Franciscans'"? Obviously, it is not standard usage of terms. Likewise, Pope Benedict XV wrote in his 1914 encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum (section 24):

. . . Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. . . . Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: . . . There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname," . . . 

9) I define “radical Catholic reactionaries” ("RCRs" or "RadCathRs" in abbreviation) as a rigorist, divisive group completely separate from mainstream "traditionalism" that continually, vociferously, and vitriolically (as a marked characteristic or defining trait) bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, and ecumenism (the "big four"): going as far as they can go without technically crossing over the canonical line of schism. In effect, they become their own popes: exercising private judgment in an unsavory fashion, much as (quite ironically) Catholic liberals do, and as Luther and Calvin did when they rebelled against the Church. They can’t live and let live. They must assume a condescending “superior-subordinate” orientation. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman scathingly criticized this attitude in his sermon, "Faith and Private Judgment" (c. 1849):


Men were told to submit their reason to a living authority. Moreover, whatever an Apostle said, his converts were bound to believe; when they entered the Church, they entered it in order to learn. The Church was their teacher; they did not come to argue, to examine, to pick and choose, but to accept whatever was put before them. . . . if a convert had his own private thoughts of what was said, and only kept them to himself, if he made some secret opposition to the teaching, if he waited for further proof before he believed it, this would be a proof that he did not think the Apostles were sent from God to reveal His will; it would be a proof that he did not in any true sense believe at all. . . . if one part was to be believed, every part was to be believed; it was an absurdity to believe one thing and not another; . . . there was no room for private tastes and fancies, no room for private judgment. . . . In the Apostles' days the peculiarity of faith was submission to a living authority; this is what made it so distinctive; this is what made it an act of submission at all; this is what destroyed private judgment in matters of religion. If you will not look out for a living authority, and will bargain for private judgment, then say at once that you have not Apostolic faith.


It might be argued that the fundamental problem here is one of self-important attitude: a Pharisaical, relentlessly legalistic, know-it-all, holier-than-thou mentality, and lack of faith in the authority of Holy Mother Church; also an unwillingness or inability to think along with the Mind of the Church. That lies at the root. It’s “spiritual kindergarten.”

Often (quite humorously but tragic-comically) it will occur in young people, all of 18 or 20 years-old. Thus, the spiritual immaturity often exhibited may simply be part of the usual, utterly predictable adolescent angst and testosterone-driven deluded cocksure “confidence” in one’s own pseudo-infallibility, and superiority to those unfortunate souls who happened to be born at an earlier date. The hippies in 1967 in San Francisco were gonna change the world with flower power. Likewise, these young elites are gonna transform the Church with their manifest wisdom (so they actually believe). In one of my more colorful descriptions in my first book on this topic (Reflections on Radical Catholic Reactionaries: 2002; revised 2013), I defined the common RadCathR mindset as a:

. . . scenario of every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a picture of Pope St. Pius X in one hand, and a dog-eared copy of Denzinger in the other, going around judging (nay, trashing) the pope or an ecumenical council, as if they were some sort of expert . . . This is self-importance elevated to the level of the profoundly ridiculous; almost grotesque or surreal. And they are blind to this obvious reality, which makes it all the more frightening.  One can do that in Protestantism, as everyone is their own pope, when it comes down to it. But to attempt it in Catholicism is patently and manifestly absurd. (#129)

10) On 3 August 2013 I coined (as far as I know) the term "radical Catholic reactionary" to describe the aforementioned group; replacing the former terms of "quasi-schismatics" (my semi-original title) and "radtrad" (coined by others in the mid-90s). In doing so, I am trying to build bridges with mainstream "traditionalists": since many of them have expressed a pronounced dislike of radtrad; contending that it implies a direct connection or even an equation of sensible, acceptable "traditionalists" with radical, rebellious RadCathRs: whom they themselves often describe in more derogatory terms than I do, myself: classifying them as wackos or wingnuts, etc.

Therefore, it is time for terminology to reflect the "reality on the ground"; to undermine confusion and hurt feelings, and to foster unity and mutual understanding. I'm trying to play my part in that goal, by revising dozens of my own papers and two books on the topic, to reflect this change of terminology and classification. If two words describe the same thing, yet the first is widely misunderstood and causes acrimony to occur, and the second does not do so, then clearly our choice in charity must be the second term (even if the first has objectively significant justification on other grounds).

11) People often ask: "why have labels at all? Why do you feel a need to put people in a box and insult them?" Labels (and accurate definitions) are altogether necessary in apologetics, so that groups being critiqued can be properly identified. There is no way to completely avoid it: even if one would like to. Ideally (see #8 above) there should be no need to use even the relatively harmless term "traditionalist"; but the reality of the situation is that there is a sizeable number of Catholics who identify themselves in that way. If enough people do so, then it becomes a matter of common linguistic usage, and the rudimentary courtesy of calling people by their own preferred term. We have to know what we're talking about. People have names; groups have names.

The real trouble comes when those whom I now call radical Catholic reactionaries come around and call themselves "traditionalists" too. Since there are huge differences between them and true "traditionalists" they must be known (in order to have rational discussion) by another name, and this is also charitable towards the legitimate "traditionalists" -- whose name is being "cop-opted" by the radicals. The bottom line for apologists is that we have to warn about and refute error, so that those who might be swayed by the error can both avoid and and understand why it is to be avoided, for their own soul's sake. This requires a descriptive label, to accurately identify the error. The name may not be liked by the ones in error, but it is a lot milder than what they say about the Church and orthodox Catholics who defend her (see #13), but who don't self-identify as "traditionalists."

12) Attempted discussions with RadCathRs always seem to center upon legalistic lines and criteria (valid vs. invalid, schismatic or not, extreme historical cases made normative, canonical minutiae, etc.). In my opinion one must go far underneath or beyond those ploys, to identify the faulty arrogant and "private judgment" attitude that is the premise upon which the legalistic games and tactics are built. Historically, schism was regarded not as heresy per se, but rather, as a lack of love towards fellow Catholics. Quasi-schism partakes of that same quality as a sort of "half-sister," since it is far down the spectrum towards canonical, or legalistic schism.

Technically, most RadCathRs are not formally affiliated with schismatic breakaway groups, and sedevacantism (the position that there is no sitting pope) is a tiny, radical wing of the already "extreme" movement. Yet, these are people perhaps or potentially on the way out of the Church, who may very well eventually adopt schismatic positions or even sedevacantism. Those of us who have followed and critiqued the goings-on of the larger movement have personally observed many people head down this road, right out of the Church. Some of them I myself personally and repeatedly warned, to no avail. People "move" in their spiritual lives and are often not today what they were two or five years ago. We can move in the right direction (by God's grace) or go our own stubborn, rebellious way and take the wrong direction. In this book and in my apologetics work generally, I am trying to prevent folks from going down the wrong path, and to help them understand and explain why the right, "narrow" path is what it is, so others can also take it.

13) As for “neo-Catholic” (it is claimed that this term was first used in a radical Catholic reactionary book in 2002): if someone foolishly insists on using the title, then it must be (logically speaking) because it is being used to distinguish oneself from the likes of “[orthodox] Catholics” like me, who have supposedly transmogrified into somehow becoming simultaneously "liberal" and "orthodox" (by the application of this truly silly and nonsensical term). One is either a Catholic or not. A truly “new” (“neo”) Catholic (as if the term and concept can be redefined, willy-nilly) is a dissident or liberal “Catholic”: a new kind of Catholic. But this is an oxymoron, according to the nature of Catholicism. There can be no "new Catholic." One is simply an orthodox Catholic, according to the tradition of the ages, or not.

Catholic (in its deepest sense) means "orthodox", so to say that one is a "new Catholic" is to say that one espouses a "new kind of orthodoxy," which, of course, is a self-contradiction. There is no such thing as a "new orthodoxy." That would be, rather, a novelty or heterodoxy or heresy. Thus the label basically reduces (but this is actually consistently applying logic, mind you) to calling someone heterodox or a heretic.

It’s difficult to find any non-derogatory criterion by which “neo-Catholic” can be correctly, non-slanderously applied. It’s a cynical, uncharitable attempt to create division in the Church and separate Catholic believers into a superior-subordinate relationship, with the RadCathRs being the ones who "get it" and the "neo-Catholics" being dupes and fellow travelers of their liberal overlords in the lower hierarchies of the Church. Either way, it stinks to high heaven. The RadCathR in turn regards the "mainstream traditionalist" as "Traditionalist Lite" or a "half-baked  traditionalist" who gets some things but ultimately falls short of profound and sublime RadCathR elitist wisdom.

For the mostly RadCathR folks who sling around this term, "neo-Catholics" don't simply sincerely misunderstand the nature and causes of the current crisis in the Church, but are, in fact, the very crisis itself. They exemplify it, and are the forerunners and sustainers of it.

I and most credentialed Catholic apologists I know of, treat radical Catholic reactionaries as fellow Catholics (hence, "Catholic" right in the middle of this new term). Yet they call us "neo-Catholics." Sometimes “Novus Ordo Catholic” or “Vatican II Catholic” or "conciliar Catholic" are used. We're given arbitrary titles that are downright insulting:  that question our very orthodoxy or commitment to the fullness of Catholic tradition.

RadCathRs are all about taking things to an extreme and digressing into an absurd, almost self-caricatured legalism (including grotesquely exaggerated distortions of the opinions of those who oppose them). “Neo-conservative [Catholic]” is almost equally objectionable as well (especially once one studies about what it means in various RadCathR circles). It's usually used as simply an alternative version of “neo-Catholic”: with pretty much the same inaccurate, logically absurd, and derisive intent.

Because “neo-conservatives” are those (in political categories) who used to be liberal, RadCathRs simply assume that the “neo-Catholic” is a theological liberal under the pretentious, dishonest guise of being orthodox. The "neo-Catholic" (so they tell us) is at heart a liberal: at best a relative ignoramus as to traditional doctrine and practice and at worst a useful idiot or fellow traveler or a sort of infiltrating spy, in an ecclesiological sense.

Needless to say by now, this terminological usage is as intellectually ludicrous and indefensible as it is personally insulting. Those who accept all the dogmas and doctrines that the Catholic Church teaches are Catholics: period!

14) "Traditionalists" are a sub-group of the larger category of orthodox Catholics, characterized by particular and distinctive concerns and preferences (most often having to do with authentic Catholic liturgical tradition). No one should have any problem with that (though some issues within their purview of "concern" continue to be debated).

Radical Catholic reactionaries, on the other hand, are a completely different group, which is very seriously in error; on a dangerous slippery slope that may lead to schism and/or heresy, and need to be refuted and warned about.

That is the purpose of this book.


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Mass Movements: Radical Catholic Reactionaries, the New Mass, and Ecumenism: Dedication and Introduction



DEDICATION



To those Catholics – in God’s foreknowledge – that are currently sliding down the slippery slope to eventual schism and separation from Holy Mother Church. May it never be! May God in His grace help you to not do so! May this book be used for that purpose. St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, whom he dearly loved: “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (4:16). Proverbs 27:5-6 concurs: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . .” Proverbs 12:15 informs us that “a wise man listens to advice,” and verse 9:8 adds: “. . . reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”


Also to my esteemed "traditionalist" brothers and sisters in Christ and His Church. We agree on so much. I am not “against” you; I am for you; and most of the time, with you!

We all must strive (with God’s necessary enabling power always) to be “wise” and not “fools” in the biblical sense.


INTRODUCTION



Some recent encounters on my Facebook page have convinced me of the need for a second book on the broad topic of radical Catholic reactionaries. The crucial and necessary issue of definition and the various titles that get thrown about, back and forth, will be covered in great detail in the first chapter.

The present volume consists of a collection of various website or blog papers of mine on three topics:  the radical Catholic reactionary strain of Catholicism ("RCRs" or "RadCathRs" in short), the New (Pauline, Novus Ordo) Mass and its liturgical abuses, and genuine, orthodox (not silly liberal, “ersatz”) ecumenism: derived from my three web pages devoted to those topics.

I often hear complaints about why I "pick on" the errors of the "right" far more than on the errors of the "left". It’s because I think theological liberalism (or what calls itself "progressivism") is fundamentally an intellectually dishonest enterprise, whose proponents pick and choose what they like and dislike from among Catholic dogmas: thus losing the gift of supernatural gift of faith altogether, as St. Thomas Aquinas and Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman have both stressed.

The dissident spirit is simply watered-down, half-baked agnosticism, or (in another sense) pseudo-Protestantism (insofar as it exercises unchecked private judgment, espouses doctrinal relativism, and rejects binding Church authority). At least atheists and agnostics and Protestants usually try to be, and are, honest with themselves and self-consistent. I know I always tried to be so, as an evangelical Protestant for thirteen years.

For this reason, I have never paid theological liberalism or "Catholic" modernism much attention in my wide-ranging apologetics (though I have devoted half a book to it, and one small web page). Even as an evangelical Protestant apologist in the 1980s, I rarely dealt with Protestant liberals in my work. I detest these false notions; have nothing but intellectual contempt for them (while trying to love the persons, as I should).

I strongly believe that radical Catholic reactionaries, on the other hand, know better. These are Christians with genuine faith, who want to be observant and faithful Catholics, for the most part, but they have been misguided and misled and bamboozled by various errors of the nature of what is called "rigorism" -- or what might be described as a "puritanical" outlook. It’s a matter of degree, and there are many variations.

This recurring problem throughout Church history is seen in groups such as the Donatists, Montanists, Jansenists, and the Old Catholics who left the Church after Vatican I: an error of thinking and out-of-whack perspective; an inability or unwillingness to think with the Mind of the Church, and a lack of charity. It’s often characterized by gloom and doom pessimism and difficulty in taking a “long view” of history (caused by ignorance of past Church history). Radical Catholic reactionaries are also particularly prone to absurd conspiratorial notions (as well as anti-Semitism).

Despite these serious errors, I think that many in this extreme category may, perhaps, be able to be persuaded through (orthodox Catholic) reason and presentation of clarifying fact. I have received many reports informing me that my first book on the topic swayed people (by God's grace, always) away from this dead-end and quasi-schismatic mindset. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that a second book might be used by God to accomplish that same end result. One can only make an attempt.

The devil loves to divide the Church and pull away folks who otherwise would be faithful, zealous Catholics, living according to traditional Catholic morality: into lonely corners and isolated backwaters. We see the same tendency in conservative politics, with many people pulling away, playing the "independent" game and engaging in third-party fantasies and pipe-dreams: with the most zealous "true believers" among them allegedly better and "purer," more principled than the rest of us.

Human nature never changes. What the devil gains so often with lust and lack or loss of faith on the theological or ecclesiological left, he gains with spiritual pride and Pharisaical “holier-than-thou” legalism and tunnel vision on the right. He is constantly at work dividing Christians and even Catholics (orthodox ones) against each other: “divide and conquer.” This allows the world to keep going to hell in a handbasket, becoming more and more immoral, cruel, and secularized all the time, while we endlessly fight and squabble with each other.

But this book is not mere (and yet more) wrangling; it is an orthodox Catholic "answer" to the errors and falsehoods dealt with: a proposed “roadmap” for the way out of the morass and despair, so that the in-fighting and faulty thinking and lack of charity towards multiple millions of fellow Catholics can lessen, not increase and continue indefinitely.

My position (as I wish to make crystal-clear from the outset) has always been that people ought to be freely allowed to worship as they please (at whatever form of Mass they prefer), with the sanction of the Church. I held this view before the declarations promoting wider availability of the Tridentine Mass: not only of Pope Benedict XVI (in 2007), but the earlier ones from Blessed John Paul II as well. It's always been my position since I became a Catholic in 1991.

From that same year I have attended the Novus Ordo Latin rite, which is performed at my parish in downtown Detroit in a very reverent, traditional fashion, with no abuses that I have ever seen. We receive Holy Communion at an altar rail, on the tongue. This is what I do every week. We don’t have altar girls; rarely even have eucharistic ministers (but then, we have small numbers).

Those issues can be discussed pro and con on various levels. I’m simply describing my own parish (where I have chosen to worship nearly my entire Catholic life): what we believe and practice, and in so doing, showing that I have no problem at all with traditional Catholic worship (which I dearly love). That’s not what this book will be critiquing. It will, rather, critique radical views that seek to “bash” the New Mass as profoundly “inauthentic” or vastly inferior Catholic worship.

My parish is one of only two that I know of in metro Detroit that offers the Tridentine Mass (every week in one of the three church buildings). I have attended it in my own church several times. I love it; it's fantastic. I myself prefer the Novus Ordo Latin Mass. If the choice is between a corrupted or scandalous Novus Ordo Mass (that is, not performed as it is supposed to be, according to the rubrics) and the Tridentine Mass, I would choose the latter in a heartbeat.

I don’t have to make that choice in my own parish, or “give up” any reverence or solemnity in the Pauline Mass that I personally prefer. I understand that, unfortunately, many millions feel (given the fact of widespread liturgical corruption) that is the stark choice they face. I enthusiastically support the choice of the Tridentine Mass in such sad situations (or as a choice for anyone, anytime, if they should so prefer). If we “vote with our feet,” maybe we can see much further liturgical reform and a renewed emphasis on reverence and solemnity “on the ground.”

As with my first book on the topic, I will not “name names,” because my goal is to critique the various false beliefs and bad tendencies, as opposed to getting into all the “legalistic” wrangling back and forth, and personal offense, and stepping on the toes of folks who are fond of various persons or organizations. Such a practice (not naming specific names) follows the example of most (if not all) of the Tridentine decrees, that didn't name Luther or Calvin or other Protestant leaders; they simply corrected the errors and proclaimed Catholic truth: defining faith and justification and other doctrines that were being redefined or rejected by the new Protestant movement.

Whether or not a particular error is present in a given person or group is for the reader to discern and ascertain. I am communicating truth as I believe it to be, and critiquing errors, in line with the Mind (as far as I understand it) of Holy Mother Church. This is my task and grave responsibility as a lay apologist and teacher. I am happy --  as always -- to be corrected by priests and bishops in that Church, as the case may be.

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