For Many Catholics in the United States, today, not this past Thursday, is the day their respective dioceses have designated to celebrate Corpus Christi. (For those following the “Ordinary Form” the feast has been relabeled the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.) Though rarer today than they were in yesteryear, many Catholics still have the opportunity to participate in modest, but spiritually beneficial, Corpus Christi processions. In some areas, including the Diocese of Grand Rapids, processions more befitting our Eucharistic King will be held. Later this afternoon two separate processions, each starting at parishes on the opposite side of the downtown area, will make a three mile journey to a third parish, aptly dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, as part of both the celebration of Corpus Christi and in remembrance of the ongoing Fortnight for Freedom (FFF), which began yesterday.
Earlier this week I offered some thoughts on the Fortnight for Freedom (FFF) in relation to the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus Errorum. The point of that post was to suggest in all sincerity that this time of prayer which begins today ought to be used for reflection on the Kingship of Christ—a doctrine of the universal Church which has been obscured, but not repealed, by certain interpretations of the ambiguous magisterium that has become the unfortunate hallmark of Rome for the past half-century. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which established the FFF, see the matter somewhat differently. For the USCCB and the majority of Catholics who follow that body’s marching orders, the FFF is a time to pray for religious liberty, a conceptual byproduct of the Enlightenment that is, at best, agnostic on the truth of every religion, including the Catholic Faith.
On the old Opus Publicum I staged several defenses of the liturgical books approved for use with the vetus ordo (“1962 books”) against those critics, some more good-natured and well-intentioned than others, who find them wanting. Some in fact argue that the 1962 books represent a transition from the classic Roman Rite to the New Rite of Pope Paul VI, though as a genealogical matter that is a hard argument to maintain. While the modern liturgical reformers had been busy at their dark craft since the first-half of the 20th Century, the revolutionary changes to the Holy Week Rite in the 1950s coupled with a reduction of the Breviarium Romanum and the Roman Calendar did not inevitably point to the Novus Ordo Missae and the Liturgia Horarum. Besides, it is anachronistic to assess the value of the 1962 books based on what happened later in the decade, as if the slight and subtle simplifications introduced into the Missale Romanum of John XXIII eviscerated the Offertory in the New Mass and gave us Eucharistic Prayer II. The integrity of the 1962 books must be judged, if not exclusively then substantially, in the light of what preceded them.
Note: By request I am going to begin restoring some posts from the old Opus Publicum over the next week or so. This one, which originally appeared on 4/27/2014, is not of my own composition. Rather, it is a translation of Dom Gerard Calvet’s sermon given at Chartes Cathedral on Pentecost 1985. You can read the translation at its original host, the defunct Lidless Eye web-log, here. In the hopes of keeping the text available in case Lidless Eye should ever disappear, I have copied the text below. The friend who directed me to it referred to it as “the illiberal Catholic manifesto.” I think he’s right.
Acton University, a week-long series of lectures dedicated to, inter alia, spreading the illusion that authentic Christianity, which is the Catholic Faith, is compatible with social, political, and economic liberalism literally began under a dark cloud yesterday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In order to spread the message of liberty (libertarianism) beyond the walls of the DeVos Place Convention Center, Acton University established its own Twitter feed and hashtag, #ActonU, which is displayed on its website. While a bulk of #ActonU tweets are from enthralled attendees gushing about the latest bromide they heard from the mouths of Judge Andrew Napolitano or Michael Novak, a few Catholics, concerned with the message of markets, markets, markets and liberty, liberty, liberty being trumpeted at Acton offered some quotes of our own from the likes of Ss. John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Thomas Aquinas. Some of us, including yours truly, questioned Acton’s privileging of freedom as an end in itself, which spilled over into a discussion of art and blasphemy with Acton Institute Senior Editor Joe Carter. Here are the relevant parts of the exchange:
It didn’t receive as much play in the blogosphere as I expected, but George Weigel’s “An Open Letter to the Patriarch of Moscow,” housed over at First Things, is still worth reading. It is worth reading not because Weigel’s neoconservative political posture isn’t nauseating, but because it should remind certain Catholics who have doe eyes for “neo-Holy Russia,” i.e., the apparent resurgence of symphonia between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the government of Vladimir Putin, that, at this juncture at least, support for Russia and her church is a betrayal of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC).
Note: This post is from the previous Opus Publicum; I am putting it up here by request.
The problem of Catholic libertarianism is not an easy one to address. Terminologically speaking, it is often not clear what is meant by “Catholic libertarians.” Are they simply Catholics who happen to subscribe to the tenets of libertarianism or is their brand of libertarianism in some sense uniquely Catholic, i.e., informed and shaped by Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and other relevant doctrines of the Faith? Before addressing that question in greater detail, it is important to be clear that libertarianism itself is not monolithic. On what one might call the “libertarian spectrum” there exists on one end those typically referred to as “classical liberals” who, inter alia, support free (unregulated and untaxed/limitedly taxed) markets, robust social liberties, and government power limited to addressing a limited number of collective action problems such as national security while supplying a discrete number of public goods such as roads. On the other end of the spectrum are so-called anarcho-capitalists who believe, perhaps more on faith than reason, that a completely unfettered market can keep society going without any recourse to government (public) intervention into the lives and free choices of the population.
With the Fortnight for Freedom (FFF) just over the horizon and many conservative Catholic eyes fixed anxiously on the Supreme Court as the country awaits the outcome of Sabelius v. Hobby Lobby (the “HHS Mandate case”), perhaps now would be a good time for the Church in America to follow the lead of Fr. John Hunwicke by reminding the faithful that 2014 is the sesquicentenary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s 1864 encyclical Quanta Cura and its annex, the Syllabus Errorum. Although the Syllabus condemned some 80 propositions, the following sampling of errors could serve as a fruitful basis for meditation before our Eucharistic King during the forthcoming 14 days of prayer prescribed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):
If you have found this web-log then there is a good chance that you are familiar with its predecessor that occupied the now-defunct address modestinus.wordpress.com. When I launched Opus Publicum in January 2012 I did so to continue, in part, a critical engagement with the Eastern Orthodox Church from a Catholic perspective. As most of my early readers knew, I had been a member of the Orthodox communion for seven years and had only returned to Catholicism—the confession of my youth—during Lent 2011. Despite certain suggestions to the contrary, I did not part ways with Orthodoxy on bad terms even though some Orthodox Christians, including certain individuals I called friends, were less than thrilled with my decision. I should have realized, however, that every critical remark I made about the Orthodox Church and, more specifically, Orthodox polemics against Catholicism was bound to be read by the Orthodox (and some non-Orthodox) as manifestations of a deep, even pathological, animus toward Orthodoxy. As my blog continued to draw more and more traffic from Orthodox and Catholics alike, it became host to numerous inter-ecclesiological knife fights which were unedifying to say the least. Although I know a good deal of the chaos that ensued was, barring heavy comment moderation, beyond my control, I certainly see how the tone of certain posts and comments which I authored did nothing to relax the situation. At some point I had to ask, “Is this really the message I want to send? Are these words, even if true, the sort of words I would use in other public forums? Are posts riddled with sarcasm and inside jabs the sort I want associated with me years from now?” Finally, after discovering that I could only answer “No” to all three questions, I knew that it was time to sweep the contents of the first Opus Publicum into the digital dustbin.
The Orthodox Church was not the only topic that elicited ire over the past two years. As I transitioned away from my former libertarian commitments in order to submit my thought and talents to the social magisterium of the Catholic Church, I frequently found myself going nose-to-nose with certain—in my estimation—wrongheaded attempts to marry Catholic Social Teaching (CST) with the tenets of economic liberalism. Some of those engagements also resulted in me asking those three aforementioned questions in return for the same answer: “No.” In fact, there were few topics covered on Opus Publicum—law, politics, economics, liturgy, professional wrestling, etc.—that didn’t create a fair share of acrimony while leaving me wondering whether I would confront those issues with the same style over at Ethika Politika or in the pages of The Remnant. At that point I knew it was time to make a change, to “raise the game” so-to-speak with respect to how I approach blogging or simply exit the medium altogether. While I cannot lie and say I wasn’t tempted by the latter option, some much-needed encouragement has brought me to choose the former.
I know that there are certain risks attending Opus Publicum’s re-launch, not the least of which being the immediate loss in readership this blog is likely to experience. However, affixed with a clearer conscience about what I am doing here coupled with a renewed dedication to offer entries that consistently meet the standards set by the best posts I could muster during Opus Publicum’s first incarnation, I am confident that this blog can regain and even supersede its predecessor’s traffic. To that end, dear readers, I am humbly asking you to use whatever means are at your disposal—Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, the town square, and so forth—to advertise this version of the blog. In exchange I promise to keep plugging away on the multitude of subjects I normally address from a traditional Catholic perspective that is informed by the Church’s Eastern and Western patrimonies.
For those curious, I have retained an entire archive of Opus Publicum’s old content. If there is a particular post or comment(s) that you would like a copy of, feel free to contact me. Also, don’t be surprised if you see (potentially reworked) posts from the previous blog make their way back onto this one. For the sake of clarity and continuity, I will “flag” when earlier content is being recycled. Moreover, please be patient with me over the next several weeks as I add more content, including links and other things of interest.
Finally, for those of you who participated in some way, shape, or form on old Opus Publicum, thank you for two years of encouraging, insightful, and sometimes sharply critical comments. Thank you for the links and other information shared and, most of all, thank you for your prayers. Please keep me in them.