Feb 7, 2008

What if? The Good Friday Prayer for the Jews

My post is inspired by a long email received from two handsome young traditional Catholics who are members of SSPX communities. They are quite upset with Pope Benedict's announcement that the Good Friday prayer for the Jews will be modified in the Missale Romanum of 1962 which is used for the offering of the old Latin Mass. Rorate Coeli has received at least 178 comments on the Papal announcement, including "this is part of Benedict's way of proclaiming the traditional Faith in somewhat more positive terms (i.e. 'enlightening their hearts' vs. 'removing the veil').

My young friends state that while "the new prayer is decent," the change is a "capitulation and a continuation of the destruction of the Roman Rite." I beg them to consider what would have happened if conservatives had been able to control Vatican Council II. What if the schemas prepared by the Central Preparatory Commission (CC) had not been abandoned? I think this would be a interesting exercise in historical speculation and would make a fine story.

To briefly recap events, Pope John XXII stunned the world on January 25, 1959 with his announcement of Vatican Council II. He then appointed an Antepreparatory Commission to begin preparation of the Council. On June 7, 1960, the Pope appointed 25 members to a larger Central Preparatory Commission, to be led by Secretary General, Archbishop Pericle Felici, who also had led the Antepreparatory Commission. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), was a member of the 25-member CC.

The CC prepared significant material for consideration and debate by Vatican Council II, but these schemas were considerably thinned out by late 1962. A new agenda was developed by liberal bishops that resulted in different and more liberal documents, and a longer council. The remaining conservative material prepared in advance of the Council by the CC came under continued attack in 1963. Consequently Vatican Council II abandoned most of the conservative material prepared by the CC under the command of Pope John XXIII.

The abandoned preparatory work of the CC is discussed only briefly in Ralph Wiltgen's The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, and in the new 5-volume History of Vatican II edited by Giuseppe Alberigo. The earlier volume is preferred, but the latter books contain more data. The latter volumes exhibit a preference for the positions of the "progressives" who ultimately were able to take control of Vatican Council II and to substitute their own liberal schemas for the ones prepared earlier by the conservative CC.

I've not found any book or documents (maybe I haven't looked far enough) that give samples of the preparatory work of the CC. What would the documents of Vatican II have looked like if Council had actually used the schemas developed by the CC?

What could the Church have looked like in the 21st century had the 1960-1962 preliminary schemas have survived for Council deliberation? My own view is that it is likely that organic changes to practices in the Church would have taken place--but not radical assaults on traditional Catholic beliefs. [Remember that the Holy Spirit remains the protector of the Church--regardless of the Pope and the Councils.]

I believe Pope Benedict XVI is trying to do the kind of thing the CC intended--make small organic changes. By modifying the old Good Friday prayer for the Jews, the Pope continues to reflect the same intention as before, but now roots the new prayer in the New Testament and with a more obvious charity.

Feb 5, 2008

Going Steady

When I was young, I would have greatly resisted the idea of my parents telling me who to date or who should be my husband. They only told me not to date until I was 16 years old and not to date steadily until I was serious about marriage. I followed their rules and am very glad I did.

This post deals with "going steady" and the grave sins it frequently causes, perhaps including murder. My other posts on courtship and marriage have included:
The murder of the young mother and her baby girl in Kansas City, Kansas is a tragic ending to a failed marriage that began with the meeting of young Andrew Guerrero and Nicolette Lyons while attending a local Catholic high school. A newspaper reported that the "2002 yearbook described the two as 'star-crossed lovers.'" I take the report to mean that the teenagers dated steadily while in high school.

The couple married in 2003 after the young man had joined the Army Reserve, and the young wife filed for divorce three years later. Now the young husband and father has been accused of murdering his wife and a child she had by another military man. What a sad story and what could have been done about it?

I suspect that young people today are never counseled about the dangers of going steady. Yet the Church's combat against steady dating in high school continued at least until 1963 when TIME magazine reported that Fr. James A. Carey mandated that any student "dating one person to the exclusion of all others shall be expelled." By 1964, it was reported in the social literature that "going steady is becoming increasingly common....There seems to be a growing tendency of daters to 'pair off' very early and for extended periods."

My generation was taught that going steady was reserved for persons who were able and ready for marriage. We were told that if we weren't mature, couldn't provide for a spouse, or had no intention of marrying in the near future, then we shouldn't go steady.

So what did I do? In high school and college, I dated guys for only two or three times, at max! At the time it was called "playing the field!" That extended the number of guys I dated before settling on my husband, and reduced the opportunities for intimacy that would have developed had I steadily dated a single guy. In other words, spiritual and physical problems were avoided.

Dating twenty, thirty, and even up to 100+ guys (a sister!) for short durations from age 16 to the time when marriage is possible can be quite helpful in choosing a spouse. You learn about the different characteristics (good and bad) of potential spouses. You learn what you like and what you don't. Most importantly, you don't make commitments or promises because you are not ready to make them. [Although there may be the problem of someone waiting forever for the "perfect spouse!"]

Catholic schools must again discourage "going steady" while students are in grade and high school. Social research proves that having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend as a young teenager significantly increases the odds of having sex. [Fr. Carey already knew this back in 1963--a good priest always hears a lot of sorrowful confessions.]

Right now, the Bishops are mostly concerned about those "living together outside the bond of marriage." Frankly, that sin--fornication-- is a primary effect of "going steady" when one is not ready or able to contract a good marriage.

Catholics must explain the disadvantages of steady dating and explain why the alternative of short-duration dates with different persons (group dating, too) is much more interesting and has better results.

Here are reasons not to have an exclusive relationship with the opposite sex while in pre-teen and even teenage years:
  1. You are much more likely to commit the sin of fornication (and possibly become pregnant with a baby)
  2. Steady dating is a proven high-risk behavior for catching sexually-transmitted diseases
  3. You will commit yourself to always explaining who you are with, why you didn't answer the phone, where you are going, how much money you have, etc.
  4. You will not improve your social abilities in new situations with others
  5. You will be obligated to spend most of your free time with the other party
  6. The two of you will likely withdraw to your own world and you will miss out on important times with friends
  7. Steady dating restricts you from responding to new social opportunities and developing an improved self-esteem
  8. Steady dating, without the ability to commit to marry within a short time period, leaves the girlfriend or the boyfriend fearful that the other will eventually leave them for another
  9. There are lots of repercussions when a romance is over that are similar to those of a marital break-up.

Feb 3, 2008

Music, War, Culture, and Religion

World War II was being fought when I was quite young. My Father was away in the Army and my Mother, siblings, and I saw military airplanes fly overhead after being manufactured at the local "Bomber Plant." I remember the radio and movies were always full of War--stories, news--AND MUSIC. My young world heard lots of martial sounds that made me want to march energetically in rhythm--even by myself!

Once while sitting on a grassy bank in Kansas City, I watched a high-stepping military parade march down the street. When the parade of soldiers and their band ended, I was very disappointed and begged Mother to let me to see more military parades and hear more martial music. It was the first time I experienced how powerfully attractive music could be.

In the 1950's at the beginning of rock music era, an invited lecturer at the University where I was a student gave a talk I have never forgotten. This Ph.D. physicist (biologist?) claimed that musical tones, volume, and beats initiated sympathetic vibrations in several different parts of the body. He claimed that specific beats could make the heart beat faster or slower, with less energy or more. Music was described as akin to other sounds that affected the body and emotions--like laughter and crying, or fingernail scratches on a blackboard.

Later in the 1970's, I read a book distributed by the Conservative Book Club of America that described the manipulation of societies through music to cause anger, fear, militaristic pride, and other adverse emotions. Alternately, music inspires hope, faith, cheerfulness, happiness, sympathy, love, and altruism.

Does music have a power over us? How we feel? How we think? How we act? Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes! Music is the art form that inspires, excites, calms, deceives, heals, or disturbs us. Music transmits ideas and images with emotional environments: relaxation, action, inspiration, imagination--even holiness in Church. Alternatively, much of modern music corrupts civilization.

A Wagnerian march produces different physical effects than does a Mother's lullaby. Ferde Grofé's Grand Canyon Suite (a favorite composition of mine) that evokes a desert sunrise, donkeys clomping down a rock trail, and a powerful thunderstorm. In contrast, rock, rap, hip-hop, and punk music jar the senses, create rebellion, and disturb natural emotions, and their cultural effects are noted in many academic papers.

I've just listened to a recent 6-part talk on "Music and Culture" given by Michael Matt, editor of the Remnant Newspaper. About 40 years ago, I met Michael's father, Walter Matt, but have never seen or heard the younger Matt. Yet I've read his many articles in the Remnant on the effects of rock music on young people.

Michael Matt, a former member of a rock band, calls modern music a "meat hammer" that makes the current revolution against family and morality possible. Take a look at Matt's YouTube sequence (e.g., Part 3 of 6) to understand why and how modern popular and "sacred" music destroys our culture and Church.