Katie van Schaijik

What is conscience 4

Mar. 25, 2010, at 4:12pm

See below for the 4th part of the comments elicited by Katie's post on Conscience

Katie van Schaijik • Mar 26, 2010 - 2:12 pm

Steve, to your point 2 above:
As I’ve said before, the document wasn’t speaking about religions, but about human dignity.  Hence, it applies to everyone.

I’ve just re-read a great essay by John Crosby on this subject, which I link and excerpt in a new post.

Steve B • Mar 26, 2010 - 2:37 pm


I will look forward to your new post that will excerpt John Crosby’s thoughts on this topic.

I think we agree that conscience and human dignity are ultimately built upon the foundation of Divine Law. 

That being the case, isn’t it crucial that Church to say something definitively wrt which religion gets the final say in what the Divine Law IS, not to mention what “conscience” is???

It seems utterly lacking from my point of view that DH made declarations wrt “conscience” and “religious liberty” without clearly explaining them in light of traditional Catholic teaching.

But then again, in reading the above mentioned book on the history of Vatican II, that’s exactly what many of the Council Fathers wanted - i.e. to merely make a declaration without doctrinal elaboration.  That seems to be a VERY poor prudential decision….

Perhaps someone new can step into this discussion and help steer it in a direction which is helpful?

Thanks again for all your efforts, despite the deadlock we seem to have reached.

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

Katie van Schaijik • Mar 26, 2010 - 8:35 pm

Incomplete new post now saved as draft.  I am slow.  Sighhh.  It’s just that Crosby’s article is so rich and great it’s hard to limit myself in excerpting.  Look for it tomorrow.

frangelo • Mar 26, 2010 - 8:56 pm

Hi Katie,

It’s been a while.  I thought I would jump in on this one because it touches on something I have discussed with you in a different context.

I believe one must remember that Vatican II was addressing religious liberty in a historical context, one in which the history of religious persecution against Catholics was real and ongoing.  It was also dealing with the progressive secularization of civil society, even in Christian Europe.  This process has been nearly completed in our own day, e.g. in the new secular super-state that is the European Union.

One can argue as to whether Vatican II and documents like HD contributed to the secularization or addressed it.  We know the arguments from the different camps on the matter.  My purpose here is not to resolve that problem.

In any case, as we know, Vatican II’s primary purpose was pastoral and its fathers did not shrink from some fuzzy definitions in order to address, for better or worse, many pastoral problems.  In the end we have to fall back on what P. Benedict has called the hermeneutic of continuity in order to make sense of it all.  But this does not always resolve the pastoral problems.

One of those problems is the question as to what do we do about the secular states that are persecuting Catholics if we do not defend religious liberty, which is, as you say, based on the obligation to follow one’s conscience.  Steve is correct in saying that an erroneous conscience, when it flies in the face of the divine law, has no objective right.  However, the question always remains on matters concerning human judgment, how do we get from the principle to the application.  There is a real distinction and while we may and should agree in terms of practical principles, the application of those principles are sometimes more complex and more debatable.  For example, what is to be our policy relative to religious liberty when in secular states that no longer take the Church seriously Catholics are being persecuted and the same states are bending to the will of Muslims to impose sharia law?

Christ and the Church have rights that rise far above the assertions of states and politicians, but the Church no longer wields secular power.  So the question remains, if an erroneous conscience has no objective right, what should be the limits of secular or ecclesiastical power to coerce the offender, when the common good is at stake?

My own view is that sometimes this problem is treated flippantly and sometimes with oversimplifications.  I also believe that the fathers of Vatican II were trying to deal with real problems, but that their success in the matter can be debated.  In the end their work dealt with very important theological principles and suggested a manner of application to complex problems in which misinterpretation was almost inevitable.

And this brings me to the reason why I decided to jump in the problem of conscience is tied closely to the virtue of prudence, and this seems to me to be one of the most, if not the most neglected virtues.  The Council really did not concentrate on definitions and principles as much as point a direction in which prudence might be exercised with some measure of liberty in a world which was becoming ever more complex and dangerous.
Some would say that no such liberty should have been granted.  Others say that anything that is not tied down by dogma is a matter for unfettered speculation.  I disagree with both, and BTW, as I am sure you know, Ven. Newman’s seven notes on the development of doctrine absolutely demolish the idea that undefined matters are wide open for speculation.

I think the problem is that while the council indicated a direction, the necessary formation of the faithful that was needed to help them make good faith judgments and progress in making better judgments by sound spiritual training and by learning from their mistakes was never provided.  So people just claim the freedom and act arbitrarily or never learn from their mistakes, or both.

So, IMHO, we have the side of liberty that clamors for soft evangelization and for syntheses of Christianity and secularism (pardon me, TOB ala West), and some traditionalists that promise a restoration if we just tighten the reigns once again and repudiate the last 40 years. (Katie and Steve, I am not suggesting anything about your own positions.)

Actually, I am all for tightening the reigns a bit.  Let’s say we just enforce canon law.  I would be happy with that.

The fact is no virtue can be practiced without prudence and prudence is impossible without freedom of conscience.  There is a real distinction between principles and their application, goals and strategy.  Where no such distinction is in play it is the responsibility and duty of the magisterium to intervene.

Chesterton once remarked that “there never was a time in the whole history of the human race when it was more necessary to defend the intellectual independence of man that this hour in which we live.”  I agree.  And I believe that right now we do need the intellectual freedom to devise creative solutions to the immense problems we face.  But the context of Chesterton’s remarks concerned “culture and the coming peril,” which he defined as “vulgarity.”  Guess what?  The peril has landed.  The problems that the traditionalists face squarely, to debatable effect, are not going away any time soon.  What we need is liberty at the service of the hermeneutic of continuity.

This is, BTW, why I so strongly disagree with Christopher West, in spite of the good that he does.  IMO, He does not really respect liberty of conscience, because he pretends to know more or less how mature purity will look in the average person, when in fact his views are based on his own personal speculation, not that of John Paul II.  He extrapolates right and left from the writings of the pope, going way beyond anything the pontiff actually said, and then pretends he knows when a person is being modest and when he or she is being a prude.  Of course, in case of any doubt, his presumption is the latter.  It seems to me what he is really doing is suggesting that we should follow his conscience.  I, for one, dissent.

Steve B • Mar 27, 2010 - 3:21 am

Hi Fr. Angelo,

Thank you also for joining this discussion.

I would like, however, to make a clarification in this discussion wrt to my stance as a “traditionalist” Catholic….

In all truth I feel myself “caught in the middle”, so to speak, between embracing the “best” things of the pre-Conciliar Church and the “best” things of the post-Conciliar Church - in my mind at least, what Pope Benedict touts as a “hermeneutic of continuity.”

Just the fact that I’m even willing to truly engage with you, Katie, in this discussion on “conscience” and “religious liberty”, hopefully that says a lot wrt my not being what you might typically think of a “traditional” Catholic, eh?  Although, perhaps my doggedness and reluctance to concede a point too readily perhaps do?  ;-)

I have come to embrace many of the things so well promoted by the Church since Vatican II - e.g. TOB (albeit not the Chris West version of it), daily prayer & Scripture reflection, a “personal” relationship with Christ, etc. - although I can also see the serious harm that many of the post-Conciliar reforms have caused to the faithful. 

As well, I have come to clearly recognize the absolute beauty and treasure that the Church has had all along in the Traditional Mass, traditional forms of piety, its much stronger emphasis upon spiritual discipline, and what I consider a more balanced liturgical emphasis upon the sinfulness of humanity, God’s Justice, and our utter dependence upon him to remain faithful, vs. God’s Mercy towards us.

I, unlike many “traditionalists”, DO NOT advocate at all any notion to completely “repudiate the last 40 years” as Fr. Angelo so aptly put it. 

In brief, I see myself more and more each day as what I would term a “von Hildebrandian” Catholic, who embraced the positive effects of Vatican II, but who also continued to warmly embrace and appreciate and promote the traditional pre-Conciliar spiritual heritage of our Catholic faith….

I do think that you, Father, have articulated so well that prudence is perhaps THE issue most in need of promotion thoughout the Church today.  I do believe that Dr. DvH would strongly support you in your perspective.

However, given as you said Father that catechesis is the foundation needed for putting prudence into action, and speaking from only my own experience, we “traditionalists” do get regular catechesis at least from the pulpit (and we’re strongly encouraged also to pursue growing in the faith further on our own time). 

At least in my own diocese, and I strongly contend that mine is not unusual at all here in the USA, regular catechesis is unfortunately not found routinely anymore at most typical (i.e. non-traditional) Catholic parishes.  I would say that that issue alone (although not the only one) compelled my wife and I to fully invest our family in a “traditional” FSSP parish 30 miles from home, rather than continue participating in our former run-of-the-mill parish a mere 6 minute drive away.

Sorry to diverge this conversation a bit with this personal relection.  But, I just wanted to toss out a bit of perspective on how I see the Church today, and why I see these issues of “conscience” and “religious liberty” as utterly intriguing and as topics of vital importance in which fair-minded and orthodox Catholics of all persuasions need to come to agreement - especially since they directly impact how our faith “hits the road”, so to speak, for how we should evangelize our faith to the entire world.

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

Katie van Schaijik • Mar 26, 2010 - 9:05 pm

Speaking of slow, dear Father…
just this week I pasted another quote into the draft of my reply to you on TOB.  I trust it will see the light of day eventually.
More on your contributions to the discussion here when I’ve had a chance to absorb them.

Katie van Schaijik • Mar 26, 2010 - 9:47 pm

Okay, re-reading your comment, Father, I have a few preliminary thoughts in reply.

1) I do not see Vatican II quite as you do, viz. as mainly a response to the problem of persecution of Christians.  I see it much more as a response to modernity in toto—an articulation and appropriation of its central achievements.

2)  I see the “pastoral problems” addressed in the council as organically related to the philosophical problems thematic in the modern period.  Problems of human rights and dignity, and their relation to objective truth, freedom, authority, and so on.

3)  “Continuity” of course does not preclude (indeed it suggests) development.  This is a point I will take up with you again later vis a vis TOB.

4)  About the dearth of due formation of the laity post-Vatican II, I could not agree more.  I fear it will take much more time and suffering before the Church shakes off entrenched habits of paternalism and clericalism.

5)  I am for a certain tightening of the reins.  But I would not be satisfied—not at all—with enforcement of Canon Law.  I’m looking for more conformity to Christ, less law enforcement.

6)  Give me liberty in the service of love and truth.

frangelo • Mar 26, 2010 - 11:49 pm


Here is my reply point by point:

1.  I could have been clearer. My remark about persecution concerned the question of religious liberty and the way in which it touches the human person in the context of modernity.  I was not referring to Vatican II as a whole.  However, there is whole gamut of issues that are involved with religious liberty, not just the matter of the persecution of Christians.  In any case, the Council dealt with these questions in a way that was fundamentally ordered to produce practical solutions.

On the issue of modernity, I agree with you up to a point, but I would add to the “articulation and appropriation of its central achievements,” a correction of its aberrations as well.  This is an essential point, and sifting through the differences in regard to policy and pastoral practice no easy task.

2.  I agree with you.

3.  Again, I agree with you, as is suggested by my reference to Newman’s notes.  Specifically, in regard to TOB, there can be no question, in my mind that it is a development of doctrine.  However, I am not aware that anyone has made an attempt to show that the work of Christopher West is a development of doctrine.  Of course, West claims that he accurately interprets the pope and that TOB is, in fact, a development, but I am not aware of anyone having submitted West’s writings and conferences to the test.  I would love to see someone attempt to but West’s work under the scrutiny of the seven notes.  But this not likely to be done, because while it is claimed that TOB is a development, it is also claimed that it is a “revolution” and a “time bomb.”  These are two very unfortunate terms, even if they do not mean what they suggest, which I do not believe for a second, because they are anti-developmental. A revolution is an overturning, and in doctrinal/moral terms that is upheaval, termination and rebuilding, not development.  Time bombs are planted to later explode and destroy what had up until then existed.  Again, anything but a development.  No, West’s work will not stand up to the seven notes.  I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.  I submit it is very unlikely that anyone in his camp will ever attempt the project.  Liberty in matters of theological speculation is never a wide-open field.

4.  Once again, as with the question of prudery, I do not deny for a second that clericalism and paternalism are problems, but I would say fatherlessness is a far, far greater problem, and I think it is indisputable that this particular problem has affected the Church.  Furthermore, there is, IMO, a verifiable tendency among religious people to presume, on the one hand, that freedom means freedom to be more or less arbitrary, and on the other, that licentiousness is to be countered all kinds of secondary and tertiary rules.  Why are there so many priest’s who are incapable of being fathers, or so many who lord it over the flock, and why is it that in spite of Vatican II, so many of the lay faithful have not been adequately formed?  Because the priests themselves cannot distinguish between the essential rules and matters of prudence.  They either are arbitrary or rigid.  They are imprudent and, therefore, incapable of teaching prudence, which teaching is their role as shepherds of Christ.  That is a generalization, but I think it is generally true.

5.  One of my very favorite spiritual writers is St. Francis de Sales, who was a vigilant bishop but who exercised authority without desiring to press for conformity when obedience could not be rendered out of love.  Even so, my mind goes to Archbishop R. Burke, who seems to me to be gentlest of men, but who knows, prudentially, where to draw the line.  I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but canon law exists for a reason.  I would hate to be responsible for anyone’s being lost because I did not use (if it were mine to do so) the Church’s God given power (literally) to discipline the incorrigible who are leading the little ones astray.  That is not paternalism; that is the work of a father.

6.  Or as St. Augustine says:  “In certain matters, unity.  In doubtful matters, liberty.  In all things charity.”  Again, just to clarify by way of example.  In matters of modesty, for all I have to say about C.W., I certainly do not advocate the imposition of the norms of Pius XII or the reduction of a solution to preoccupation over external norms of any kind.  And this is precisely my point.  It does little good to define modesty, or on the other hand to advocate for liberty in charity and truth, if people are not given the tools by which they may learn to make better judgments.  West eschews almost completely any objective norms of modesty and continues to speak as though modesty were purely relative.  The result is necessarily arbitrariness and its defense is that anything other than what he advocates is prudery.  This is just sheer nonsense.  It is not liberty.  It is not modesty.  It is not prudence.  It is not good judgment, and it certainly does not spring forth from or lead to truth and charity.

Steve B • Mar 27, 2010 - 10:46 am

Good morning Father,

I wanted to comment a bit on your ideas in point #6.

Generally speaking, I do agree with you and Katie that there is a dire need to properly catechize the faithful so that they can truly exercise prudential judgment.  As you say, the Church needs to give them “the tools by which they may learn to make better judgments.”

If I am understanding you correctly, Father, it seems that you are advocating a “both/and” approach in dealing with modesty:

A)  impose some “reasonable” and objective standards of modesty (albeit not as strict as those promoted by Pope Pius XII), and

B)  expend a concerted effort in the Church to catechize the faithful, especially in areas of modesty and sexual ethics (TOB, but not CW-style).

On my point A), I do believe that the Church needs to impose some kind of objective standards of modesty for the faithful, especially for what the faithful wear to Holy Mass. 

Now, again, I’m not pushing for Pius XII’s ultra-conservative standards, although I don’t think that they are necessarily bad - just that they seem more than a little over-the-top given our culture today. 

But, given that our primary purpose for attending Holy Mass is to focus our attention upon worshipping the Holy Trinity, then to help everyone to act out of genuine supernatural charity for our neighbor - i.e. to sacrifice of ourselves for his/her spiritual benefit - the Church needs to impose a reasonable and objective standard of modesty, so that the attire one wears does not itself cause undue distraction for others to actively participate and focus properly upon our Lord during Holy Mass.

This perspective that I have seems to also coincide with yours, Father, wrt rejecting out-of-hand CW’s complete dismissal of objective norms of modesty, and in making them purely relative/subjective.

Catechesis in the Church has a VERY LONG way to go yet in instilling Pope John Paul II’s authentic TOB teachings, which are desperately needed especially for teens and young adults in the Catholic Church today.  In the Church, we have barely started to re-instill in them a proper “conscience” wrt issues of modesty and sexual ethics, which is why my wife and I catechize our children entirely at home, especially wrt issues of modesty (which certainly must start LONG before the teenage years!).

I agree wholeheartedly with both you and Katie that we need to avoid imposing standards of modesty and sexual ethics that establish an ethos of “legalism and paternalism”.  Those objective standards need to also work toward generating a genuine and heartfelt desire for the faithful to WANT to live by those standards.

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

Katie van Schaijik • Mar 27, 2010 - 1:13 pm

I oppose the very notion of the Church imposing objective standards of modesty.  To do so would be in IMHO inescapably paternalistic.  Similarly, I oppose the re-instatement of the Index of forbidden books.  (This is a point on which Alice von Hildebrand and I disagree.)  I am all in favor of the Church condemning as false or heterodox or morally bankrupt books, movies, etc., that she finds to be so.  But I am against her forbidding us to read them.

Steve B • Mar 27, 2010 - 2:03 pm

Hi Katie,

I suppose my choice of the word “impose” was a bit too strong….

What I really meant, was not “impose” per se, but something along the lines of allowing each pastor to objectively dictate for his parish minimum standards of modesty in clothing at least for attending Holy Mass - given that each local culture will play a huge factor in arriving at what those objective standards should be (e.g. Africa vs. India vs. the USA).

Maybe you do, but I don’t consider setting and enforcing objective standards of modesty as “paternalism”.  I consider that spiritual “fathering”, and I think that is the point Fr. Angelo was trying to make - just like I set objective modesty standards for my children, and through my parental discipline expect to have them followed, our spiritual Fathers need to do so also with the spiritual family under their care and direction. 

As I mentioned before in this discussion, IMHO efforts to encourage spiritual discipline have suffered greatly in the Church since Vatican II (and I’m NOT blaming the Council for this!), much to the detriment of the Catholic faithful.  Again, I look at this as a “both/and” approach - proper and reasonable amounts of objective spiritual discipline, with extensive catechesis to explain its intent, along with reasonable flexibility so as to not run the risk of real and stifling “paternalism.”

For example, for women to wear tight-fitting and provocative clothing to Holy Mass is IMHO most inappropriate - it can be, and often is HIGHLY distracting, especially for men. 

Setting an objective standard of modesty in women’s clothing to avoid that distraction from occurring during Holy Mass is quite important, especially in our culture today.  I think that this can be taught in a way that promotes it as purely an act of charity that women can exhibit toward the concupiscence that men naturally have. 

Promoting self-denial, especially in matters of modesty and sexual ethics, so as to promote greater charity toward the opposite sex, is not talked about nearly enough in the Church today (especially given our over-sexualized culture). 

Letting everyone “fend for themself” in practicing and dealing with issues of modesty has not been a good nor effective pastoral strategy since Vatican II, IMHO….

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

Katie van Schaijik • Mar 27, 2010 - 3:53 pm

Steve, I agree with you entirely about the problem.  I would love to see much more modesty and decorum at Mass, and more instruction about what those virtues are all about. 

But the question of who when and how is tricky.  The laity are not simply children vis a vis the priest.  My father set standards for my dress when I was a child.  He has no right to do it now.  Nor would I take it kindly if he tried.

There comes a time when a father has to be silent and let the child choose for herself.  If the father has had habits of being too controlling—if the child’s resentment against him is already enflamed—he may have to be extra lenient for a time to compensate, or he risks permanently alienating his son or daughter.

I think that’s partly what’s going on now in the Church.

frangelo • Mar 27, 2010 - 5:57 pm

Steve and Katie,

It seems to me we are more or less in the same place, though our primary concerns may be different.  Very clearly, I hold that modesty is objective, but that not all men of good will are going to agree in every application, and they should be free to disagree. 

As both JPII and DvH make clear, modesty is not only exterior on the part of the woman (usually) but also interior on the part of the man (usually).  The burden is not entirely on the woman.

I am of two minds concerning objective norms.  On the one hand prudence can be aided by means of the use of rules of thumb, but they need to be understood as such, otherwise they easily become wooden and get imposed as moral law.  The real key is the ability to govern, and the particular kind of prudence that is necessary for that job is even more rare than the generic kind. I have found that dealing with matters of modesty can indeed by tricky business, and have never experienced any good effects from high-handed manners, unless you consider the thrill of some of those in the pews who have been waiting for the hammer to come down a good effect, which I do not.

Much can be said on this topic, but I will limit myself at this point to say that when those who govern are kind and not afraid or insecure of their authority, and of course are prayerful and humble, and where in general the state of catechesis and spiritual formation is good, that moral standards, including modesty, go up.  In addition, if the pastor is encouraging souls who are trying to live a spiritual life, to focus on their own conversion and be of good will and hospitable toward others, that more good is done than by means of coercive tactics in matters of modesty.

I have found that a gentle written reminder in a vestibule, combined with a general atmosphere of reverence and consistent catechetical preaching goes a long way.

Steve B • Mar 27, 2010 - 7:19 pm

Katie & Fr. Angelo,

Excellent comments all around!

I would like to comment on a couple of points that you each made….

Katie, when you said:

The laity are not simply children vis a vis the priest.  My father set standards for my dress when I was a child.  He has no right to do it now.  Nor would I take it kindly if he tried.

I mildly disagree.

After all, we ARE the spiritual children of our Priests, since that is why we give them the title “Father”!  So, it IS imperative that we act as their spiritual children, and that we truly treat them with respect as our spiritual Fathers.  Sadly, that is an endemic problem in the Church today….

I do agree with you, Katie, that parents do need to mature to the point that they treat their grown children like adults, i.e. relate to them more as peers.  But, our faith compels us to humbly accept criticism which is given to us out of charity.  To respond merely out of pride to a parent in such a case is not at all proper.

Father Angelo, when you said:

As both JPII and DvH make clear, modesty is not only exterior on the part of the woman (usually) but also interior on the part of the man (usually).  The burden is not entirely on the woman.

You are absolutely right that the burden of modesty is not all placed upon the woman.  In the CW discussions last Fall on the Linde, I believe Katie made that very point - something along the lines of no matter how modest a woman dresses, a man can look at her with an immodest heart. 

Many men, like me, will almost always need to turn away from looking at an immodestly dressed woman, since that is often our best course of action to exercise what Christ instructed us in Matt. 5:30.

In general, our Priests NEED to bring up modesty for discussion periodically, and to teach from the faith on the topic.  I REALLY like the idea of having modesty “reminders” in the narthex/vestibule of the Church, so that the discussion is infrequent and doesn’t come across as nagging or “paternalism.”

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

Katie van Schaijik • Mar 27, 2010 - 9:32 pm

I like rules of thumb.  I like, too, the idea of “reminders” in the bulletin.  And I agree with Fr.‘s point that a kindly, gracious (as opposed to high-handed) priest can do wonders in terms of instruction.  There was a dear Franciscan friar at FUS in charge of liturgies during our time there.  His whole personality radiated love and humility.  We would take anything from him.  I remember his making a friendly announcement in a sweet tone before Mass one Sunday that we should all maybe refrain from clapping and chatting after the recessional hymn (as was our normal practice at the time) “out of respect for those who might like to stay and say a silent prayer of thanksgiving before the Blessed Sacrament.”  Instantly and uncontroversially, the communal habit changed.  We were glad and grateful for the help in understanding the Mass better.  Not only did we cease clapping and chatting, we all adopted the practice of kneeling in silence to make a prayer of thanksgiving after the Recessional—conscientiously reserving our chatter for later, outside.

On the other hand, to the point about “good governance” I have a caveat. 

I fear the situation is not so simple (as if good governance is simple!) as that, since one of the fundamental questions at hand here is, precisely, where the governing boundaries lie.  Paternalism practically consists in governing beyond right boundaries.

It’s true that priests are our spiritual fathers.  But the relationship between father and children is differs dramatically depending on the maturity level of the child.

Just a week or two ago I found Sunday Mass a torment.  The pastor preached as if the entire congregation was composed of fourth graders. Inane jokesy anecdote followed by painfully simplistic and reductive homily.  It was unbearable.  I could practically feel the contempt temptation afflicting my highly intelligent 15-year-old son.  I wanted to tear my hair out in frustration, and yell, “Hello, Monsiegneur, we are not CHILDREN!  Speak to us as adults, if you please! Rely a little on our practical good sense and intelligence.  And on our competence in our own zones.”

One of the challenges facing the Church today is the challenge of finding the right limits of our authority, and respecting it.  Learning not to cross lines; not to condescend; not to intrude where we’re not warranted to go….It’s not so easy.

Steve B • Mar 27, 2010 - 10:51 pm

Hi Katie,

On your finding “Sunday Mass a torment”....

For all the reasons you listed, and more, a couple of years ago we initially started driving more than 45 miles EACH way to attend Mass at a parish where the liturgy was exceptionally reverent, with a Pastor who truly made an effort to teach the faith and shepherd his flock, respectfully, yet firmly.

It ended up being a spiritual oasis on our journey to eventually becoming “traditional” Catholics at the FSSP parish here in the Dallas diocese.  Sermons (not homilies) are never dumbed down, yet there is usually a message that the faithful of all ages can take home with them.

Honestly, I think what Fr. Angelo said earlier today about the abdication of fatherhood happened in a considerable way specifically with our Priesthood after Vatican II - too often, they became facilitators, rather than leaders - an abdication of their spiritual fatherhood. 

Thankfully, our young Priests today are coming out of the seminaries properly formed again to be strong spiritual leaders.  I think this is the main reason why the “traditional” seminaries are growing so rapidly (i.e. men naturally WANT to be strong leaders), why they typically have LONG waiting lists for new seminarians, and that they even have to turn away a lot of possible candidates simply because of logistical and economic limitations….

When you said “finding the right limits of our authority, and respecting it”, I automatically think - we just need to take the best of what the Church has had, both from before the Council, and after - in other words, Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity”.  “Both/and” is almost always a better solution than “either/or”....

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

frangelo • Mar 28, 2010 - 11:18 am


My remark about “good government” contains the very same caveat.  Hence, my insistence on prudence; such boundaries in practice are influenced by conditions in which our counsels are not certain.  No pat answers will work.  No imposition of rigid norms as though every person, place and situation were the same.  You’re argument is precisely an argument for the necessity of prudence, to which there is absolutely no substitute.  This is precisely what I mean by “good government.”

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