Holy Monday

The start of Holy Week provides another opportunity for faithful Catholics to pause, set aside all earthly cares, and express with absolute frankness and complete sincerity their disgust with the rite introduced by Pope Pius XII nearly 60 years ago. Their displeasure is understandable even if it is out of place during this particular time of the year. There are, after all, 51 other weeks in which these liturgically minded Catholics can toss out disparaging remarks about, say, the gutting of Palm Sunday or the absurd placement of Tenebrae (darkness!) in the morning light. A number of those dissatisfied with the normative “traditional” Holy Week rite of the Church enjoy extending their ire toward the so-called “1962 books” which, admittedly, also have problems. But as I have argued elsewhere, for the average Catholic in the pew who likely doesn’t have access to the Tridentine Mass outside of Sundays and a handful of feast days, the differences between Mass said out of a 1954 Missal as opposed to one printed in 1962 are minor, even unnoticeable. That doesn’t mean the 1962 books, specifically the Missal and Breviary, shouldn’t be reexamined in the light of what immediately preceded them; it’s just not a matter worth spilling blood over, particularly at this point in the liturgical year.

Toward Holy Week

If Jesus Christ had come to save anything less than our immortal souls, His Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection would be absurd. “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” No one who has read seriously the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori, or listened to sermons and conferences given in the authentic Redemptorist tradition, can deny that these two verses and all the words of our Lord which point to the perilousness of salvation should be on the minds of all Catholics daily, even hourly. God, in His infinite love, holds that every human soul is a precious treasure, and yet we do not. We are flippant in the face of sin and the contempt we show God by breaking His commandments, from the least to the greatest, with a smile. There is scarcely a nation left on earth that does not legally protect every sin which cries to Heaven for vengeance. Had God not covenanted with Noah, He might have flooded the earth several times over already. Here, however, we remain, with gadgets, diet plans, fashion accessories, and enough craft beer to make alcoholics of us all. It’s difficult to imagine how any of this would be possible if the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, established through the Apostles, and promised perpetuity until the Second Coming had not lost its way sometime during the course of the last century. May she find her way back soon.

Germanwings and International Law

For those interested, my take on the international liability issues surrounding the recent airline crash in France, “Germanwings Tragedy: Untangling the Legal Web,” is available at The National Interest. Here’s an excerpt:

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps on Tuesday opens another chapter in the macabre story of international aviation that began a year ago with the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and seemed to reach its tragic peak in July with the downing of that same airliner’s Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. The loss of AirAsia Flight 8501 in December was no less tragic, though it failed to capture sustained public attention. Breaking reports that Flight 9525 was brought down intentionally by the aircraft’s copilot, 28-year old German citizen Andreas Lubitz, has sparked an international outcry and a full criminal investigation by French officials. In the end, who will pay and why are questions that are already addressed under international law.

Sancti Gabrielis Archangeli


Tomorrow, March 24, should be the decorated feast of my namesake St. Gabriel the Archangel. After having his feast extended to the universal Church by Pope Benedict XV in 1921, it lasted for a mere four decades; then the liturgical reformers, in their “wisdom,” knocked St. Gabriel’s Day down to a mere commemoration. By the time the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated by Paul VI, he was practically pushed off the calendar altogether, forced to share space with his fellow archangels on the day once known as Michaelmas. Apparently declaring the coming of our Lord and, later, authoring Axion Estin doesn’t cut the mustard anymore in our modern, enlightened, and thoroughly de-mythologized Roman Church. The Christian East, in its actual wisdom, not only retains the Feast of St. Gabriel on November 28, but gives him two additional commemorations on March 26 (for his role in the Annunciation) and July 13 (in honor of his many miracles).

If you get the chance, you might recite this hymn to St. Gabriel from the old Dominican breviary tomorrow. Given the many graces St. Gabriel has bestowed upon the Christians of the East throughout the centuries, perhaps a good intention would be for this Holy Archangel, and all his compatriots in Heaven, to bestow protection on our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been left to suffer unspeakable persecution at the hands of men driven mad by a false religion.

Gabriel, Angel of light, and strength of God! whom our Emmanuel
selected from the rest of the heavenly princes,
that thou shouldst expound
unto Daniel the mystery of the savage goat.
Thou didst joyfully hasten to the prophet as he prayed,
and didst tell him of the sacred weeks,
which were to give us the birth of the King of Heaven,
and enrich us with plenteous joy.
‘Tis thou didst bring to
the parents of the Baptist the wondrous and gladsome
tidings that Elizabeth, though barren, and Zachary,
though old, should have a son.
What the prophets had foretold from the beginning of the world,
this thou didst announce in all the fullness of the
mystery to the holy virgin,
telling her that she was to be the true Mother of God.
Thou, fair spirit, didst fill the Bethlehem shepherds with joy,
when thou didst tell them the heavenly tidings;
and with thee a host of Angels sang the praises of the newborn God.

As Jesus was in prayer on that last night, when a bloody sweat bathed His limbs,
thou didst leave Heaven to be near Him, and offer Him the chalice
that His Father willed Him to drink.

O blessed Trinity! strengthen Catholic hearts with the heavenly gift of faith. Give us grace, as we to thee give glory for ever. Amen.

Sunday Remarks on “Ukrainian Fascism,” Catholicism, and Russian Orthodoxy

Put “Ukraine” and “fascist” into Google (or Bing) and prepare for a torrent of hyperbolic hits, and a few sane ones as well. There is no shortage of “well-sourced stories” from mainstream news sites, Leftist rags, and, of course, Eastern Orthodox web-logs claiming that Ukraine, or at least all of Ukraine except the “Holy Russian” eastern portion of the country, is in the hands of fascists. Take for instance Alex Gordon’s latest contribution to the socialist news source The Morning Star. Although the headline indicates that the article concerns NATO’s role in fostering Ukrainian fascism, the actual product amounts to little more than smear journalism that fails to make elemental distinctions between far-right, fascist, and Neo-Nazi political movements and positions. Granted, in the murky world of Eastern European politics the lines sometimes blur easily, but not so easily that movements which are consciously nationalistic are automatically racist or genocidal. Gordon’s article also contains manifest untruths, such as claiming that Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist hero and Greek Catholic, “murdered thousands of Ukrainian Jews and Poles during World War II.” He did nothing of the sort and was, in fact, interned in a Nazi concentration camp when Ukrainian-backed atrocities took place in the country.