Oct 7, 2006

Protect Us from All Anxiety?

Yesterday, my husband and I attended a Novus Ordo Mass on First Friday. The little side chapel was full, but with virtually all old people except for a couple of Oriental women and another woman with a chapel veil.

One of the Novus Ordo prayers recited after the Our Father made me quite uncomfortable because I remember what the prayer said before the 1960s.
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. For the Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.--Novus Ordo
Now look at the 'same' Mass prayer before Vatican II and try to find the word anxiety:
Deliver us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come; and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and of Andrew, and of all the Saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that through the assistance of Thy mercy we may always be free from sin, and secure from all disturbance.--Old Mass
Anxiety refers to "a state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties." Are Catholics who are worried about the future of the local church praying to be protected from feelings of uneasiness about the future? But these feelings of alarm make us work to change the future for the better!

If You Hear His Name taken in Vain....

I heard a young man take the Holy Name of Jesus in vain today. He was angry with himself and was drinking too. It's difficult to reason with someone like this.

I was taught to strike my breast and quietly exclaim, "Jesus, Mercy!" when I heard the Holy Name of God used as an expletive. But it never seemed enough or very effective. Now I quickly fall to one knee before asking Jesus for mercy. So far, it has stopped further insults to God.

Oct 4, 2006

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

At an early time in my life I read a couple of books that used "statistically improbable terms" [results of Amazon's computer search] such as cosmic involution, tangential energy, zoological group, organised matter, radial energy, and omega point. The astute reader will know the books are The Phenomenon of Man and The Divine Milieu written by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955).

De Chardin was a wildly fictional theologian, arrogant and quirky philosopher, and costumely confused paleontologist who collaborated in the finding of the Piltdown Man and the mysterious Peking Man. The former is a notorious scientific hoax of the early 20th century, and the second is questionable because the original bones seem to have disappeared over 60 years ago as they were being transported to the U.S. for further study and safekeeping.

Teilhard's books had grandiose and sweeping ideas--French culinary masterpieces that looked sooo goooood! I was spellbound by de Chardin and his view of "A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain!"

Fortunately my adopted Godmother, Lucy, introduced me to the book Trojan Horse in the City of God that had just been published in 1967. I was so lucky to read that book and its appendix--they undoubtedly changed my life. The book is acknowledged to be a very important impetus to the traditional Catholic movement that began to grow following Vatican II.

Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand was the author of Trojan Horse in the City of God. This great Catholic philosopher of the 20th century had a tremendous reputation in the Catholic Church and explained in the introduction to his book:
... if we then turn to a number of articles by Catholic priest and laymen published in recent years, we cannot escape the impression that these writers not only have lost their Catholic faith, but also no longer understand the very nature of religion based on divine revelation.
Von Hildebrand continued:
We are convinced that the great majority of Catholics have not yet been confused by slogans, that they are not yet swimming in the typical pride that rests on the immature illusion that man has come of age.
The chapters of von Hildebrand's book are split into five sections:
  • True and False Renewal
  • Dangers of Our Time
  • The Secularization of Christianity
  • Sacred and Secular
  • Appendix: Teilhard de Chardin: A False Prophet
The Appendix (pp. 227-253, plus 2 pages of references) enlightened me on the nature and implications of de Chardin's ideas. Von Hildebrand describes a private conversation he had with de Chardin in 1951 when de Chardin "exclaimed violently: 'Don't mention that unfortunate man; he spoiled everything by introducing the supernatural'." Who was de Chardin describing? None other than St. Augustine--the greatest of the Fathers of the Church!

Von Hildebrand noted that de Chardin's ideas represented or included:
  • Utter philosophical confusion, especially in his conception of the human person
  • Ignorance of the decisive difference between nature and supernature
  • Incompatibility with Christian revelation and the doctrine of the Church
  • Artfully jumping from one position to another contradictory one without even noticing it
  • Failing to recognize the abyss separating a person from the entire impersonal world around him
  • Focusing on human consciousness as merely an awareness of self, as distinct from the I-Thou relationship of being
  • Ambiguity underlying objective truth and spiritual reality
  • Etc., etc., etc.,
Von Hildebrand quotes favorably from Jacques Maritain's remarks in Le paysan de la Garonne on Teilhard's attempts to preserve Christ.
But, adds Maritain, "What a Christ!" Here indeed we find the most radical difference between the doctrine of the Church and Teilhard de Chardin's theology fiction. Teilhard's Christ is no longer Jesus, the God-man, the epiphany of God, the Redeemer; instead he is the initiator of a purely nature evolutionary process and, simultaneously, its end -- the Christ-Omega. An unprejudiced mind cannot but ask: Why should this "cosmic force be call Christ? .... Teilhard ... wrap[s] this pantheism in traditional Catholic terms.

In his basic conception of the world, which does not provide for original sin in the sense the Church gives to this term, there is no place for the Jesus Christ of the Gospels; for if there is no original sin, then the redemption of man through Christ loses its inner meaning.
An old book. A very good book. Save $6 to buy a used copy of von Hildebrand's book because it is no longer in print!

Will You be a Pollworker on November 7?

The only paying job that my Mother ever had was pollworking in an election back in the '30s. She is very proud of that, too! Citizens who love their country volunteer to be pollworkers once every two years and make sure their elections are well-run with no cheating. I've even done it a couple of times.

To register as a pollworker in Missouri, click on http://www.sos.mo.gov/pollworker/ or call (800)-669-8683. The pay is as much as $100 per day.

In Kansas, contact your local election office to volunteer. Students as young as 16 can become pollworkers in Kansas and are paid $110 per day in Johnson County. Find out more here.

Some counties in Kansas have a good system for voting. Marked paper ballots are slipped through the computer counting machine at each voting place. In case of challenges, there are always paper records to verify vote totals at each precinct recorded by the machine. DON'T EVER LET A COUNTY INSTALL A COMPUTERIZED SYSTEM THAT AVOIDS KEEPING A PAPER RECORD OF YOUR VOTE!

BTW, did you know that Kansas City, KS allows voter registration in Spanish? I worry that non-citizens will register and vote because all that one has to do is submit a photo id and something official (bill) with a name and address on it. It isn't even necessary to write the last four digits of your SSN or produce a driver's license ID. Just write 'none' in those two boxes! Talk about the potential for voter fraud !!#@!

People born in the U.S. learn English by the age of 18. Naturalized citizens must know English to be U.S. citizens. So why is voter registration in Spanish needed? Just another time when bad politicians did the wrong thing.

Oct 3, 2006

Levittown Psychology and Vatican II

When did I first know that things were not going to be good for the future of the Roman Catholic Church? It happened one evening in the mid 1960's when a visiting scholar from Rome came to Kansas City to discuss Vatican II, which I think was still in progress.

The priest's talk was presented at the Augustinian Monastery (now closed and sold to Protestants), and I remember the large crowd who were interested in learning about the anticipated changes in the Church because of Vatican II. The priest presented a glowing image of the vital Church of the future and the new simpler liturgy that would attract many new persons to the Catholic faith. He emphasized that the new Church would appeal to modern people who were living with many new things in their lives.

Why didn't I believe him? The reasons were identified in an old psychology book used as a text in the late 1950's that discussed Levittown, Long Island, NY, about 25 miles east of Manhattan.

One of my college roommates was a psychology major (I never touched the stuff!), yet one evening in the dorm I picked up one of her textbooks and began to read about a psychological evaluation of the people of Levittown, NY. This first of four Levittowns is the most famous and is a planned residential community of 17,500 houses that was built in 1947-1951. Building contractor William Levitt's objective was to provide inexpensive housing for returning World War II veterans and their families.

The author of the psychology textbook emphasized the young families who had settled Levittown. Residents of different cultures and religions were now living as strangers next door to one another--as contrasted with their prior lives living with their parents in neighborhoods of their own kind and where people all knew each other.

The author commented that religions which exemplified a solid and unchangeable nature could expect to gain adherents if they advertised that fact. The text said that people whose lives were so changeable in work and place of residence would be looking for something firm in their lives--something to hold onto--something that would not change. The author specifically commented that traditional churches such as the Catholic Church could expect many conversions from the rootless people of Levittown.

I remember telling the Roman priest in the Question & Answer session at the Augustinian Monastery why the Church always should appear to be constant, firm, and unchangeable, especially to modern Americans who were changing jobs more frequently, and moving from older stable communities to new suburban communities where their neighbors were strangers. I explained why apparent 'changes' in the Catholic religion would cause the Church to appear unstable and make Vatican II unsuccessful.

A psychology text instructed us in the 1950s that people living a modern life of continual change will ultimately desire to establish roots--and unchangeable Catholicism was in a perfect situation to capitalize on that psychological need. In contrast, the priest scholar from Rome was telling us in the mid-1960s that Catholicism must undergo radical changes to keep pace with modern life! That's the time when I knew Vatican II was going to lead to terrible consequences.

Guess Who Said This?

Nevertheless, the pope has taken a principled stand stressing that he is not going to apologize to anybody and has actually made it clear that the times of John Paul II, whose repentances turned the history of the Roman Catholic Church into a sheer black spot, are over.
The interesting answer is in the comments section.