Friday, March 28, 2014

What do you have to say about Bishop Olson? part 2

Continued from last week

There is a great deal of talk about the Tridentine Mass and the ordinary form, but the Mass envisioned by the Council is not what is being offered in most churches today. The Mass of the liturgical movement, or perhaps we should call it the Mass of Rembert Weakland, is said everywhere and people think it is the Mass of the Council.

Liturgical dancers wearing little more than loin cloths and feathers were never envisioned by the Council Fathers. The theatrical presentation that passes for the Holy Sacrifice more resembles something envisioned by Calvin and Luther. It tends to be a show, not a sacrifice. It is directed at the people, it is improvised not according to local custom, but according to the whim of the celebrant, or of the parish liturgy committee whom he dare not contradict.

Herein lies the heart of the problem. When the liturgists presented their new Mass to Paul VI, he refused to approve it because they had removed the word “sacrifice” from the Mass. Paul insisted that the Mass was, is and always will be a sacrifice. It is not an entertainment or even a classroom presentation. It is not an improvisation. It is a sacrifice in which we are joined to the one sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.  It is a liturgical abuse to use the Mass to express an opinion, to make a political or theological point, or to express the aesthetic tastes of the celebrant or the congregation. If I am correct in this, then the Church is rife with liturgical abuse — this includes everything from the most punctilious version of the extraordinary form to the gyrations of the most diaphanously festooned liturgical dancers. When Mass is a show, it is wrong, no matter the nature of the show. Mass is meant to be a sacrifice.

My suspicion, and it is only that, is that Bishop Olson limited the use of the Mass of St. Pius V, the so-called Tridentine Mass, because it was being used to make a point, the point being the old Mass is somehow superior to the Mass offered elsewhere. It is my contention that the Mass of Paul VI and the Mass of St. Pius V are equally pleasing to God. Even the Mass of Rembert Weakland, if offered sincerely, is pleasing to God. (I must admit that the Weakland Mass seems designed to be an entertainment. Its designer was quite a performer. If you visit the cathedral he redesigned, the altar has been replaced with a huge organ. Rembert was, after all, an organist.) Still, even a Mass like the Mass of Rembert Weakland, designed to display the talents of performers, can be pleasing to God if one has a sincere desire to give his life to Christ.

All this to explain why I offer the Mass of St. Pius V only once a month? I offer it not because I like it, nor because it is better, but because I believe every priest should be required to say the Mass of St. Pius occasionally to remind himself that the liturgy is not his property. The Mass of Pius V allows no improvisation because improvisation is the enemy of liturgy. Adaptation to local custom is fine, but individualistic improvisation is the exact opposite of liturgy. Liturgy is a Greek word (of course) that means “the work of the people.” When I was a lad in seminary that definition was the pretext for using coffee and bagels at the Mass instead of bread and wine. After all, Americans had coffee and bagels for breakfast, so if the Mass was the work of the people, why not coffee and bagels?

The liturgy is most definitely the work of the people. The question is, “What people?” The liturgy is the work of the people of God in every county and every age. The liturgy ties us to all those who ever loved the Lord, not just to the people around us with whom we happen to agree. The Mass should be identifiable to all those who belong to the Lord. 

A first century Christian, or a 12th century Christian, or a 19th century Christian, or a Christian from Kathmandu should be able to walk into a church in the twenty-first century and be able to say “Oh, this is Mass!” That’s why we use Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew and even some Latin in the Mass. These words taken from foreign languages tie us to our history and recognize the communion of saints in all places and all times. Amen, Kyrie, Hosanna, Alleluia, Sanctus are all borrowed from our history and the history of the Temple in Jerusalem and even from the wandering of Israel in the desert. The Mass of Rembert Weakland is such a radical departure from the tradition that even twentieth century people don’t recognize its variations.

When I was pastor of a parish that did not allow me to say the main Mass because I was too traditional(and they had their own priest anyway) a fellow who wanted to return to the Lord, started attending. He stumbled into one of the other Masses by accident, one that I was saying, and was shocked to realize that he was in a Catholic church. He had been coming to the “progressive” Mass for over a month and had no idea that he was in a Catholic church.  Could a Christian from another time enter a service where fat men in tight white pants and giant paper maché puppet heads were dancing around and say, “Oh, this is Mass?”  The celebration of the Old Mass, so-called, is a reminder to us, the clergy, that Mass is not about the celebrant. This is a message that all deacons, priests and bishops need to hear regularly, especially the writer of this article. I offer the old Mass once a month to remind me and my congregation the beauty and dignity of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

I do not offer it more than once a month because I don’t want to create a second parish of “real Catholics.” Allow me to be frank. I have met a few aficionados of the Old Mass who are mean as junk yard dogs. I recall a Tridentine Mass during which a parishioner who had never been to the Old Mass wanted to see what it was like. She was following along on her smart phone. Across the main aisle from her was a true believer who started to yell at her during my sermon. You don’t sneeze loudly at the Old Mass. No one talks except the priest and the servers and then only in Latin. No one! This true believer was yelling across the aisle in a roar that she believed was a whisper. I actually had to come down from the altar to quiet her. This is NEVER done at the Old Mass. You never leave the altar except for a prescribed gesture. By communion time the true believer was roaring again. After Mass I apologized to the victim of the tirade and tried to explain to the true believer that the object of her sanctified rage was only following the Missal on her smart phone. The true believer started yelling again, “I don’t care! It’s a sin! It’s electronic!” So much for pleasing God.

I usually avoid Masses that are associated with big events. I detest the way that Mass is abused by liturgists, charismatics and some musicians. And remember, I am one of the founders of the Charismatic Renewal. They all start with good intentions but generally end up with a bout of narcissism. I remember a grand liturgy at which there were not one, but two, yes two choirs, one in the choir loft and one on the ground floor! A veritable battle of the bands! After the show — I mean the Mass — the breathless choir director ran up to me and asked, “How did you like the music?” I said, “It was really great. I hope God enjoyed it as much as I did.” 

Now to skewer the other end of the spectrum. I love Mozart. Few things lift the soul to God like the Ave Verum, but I’ve seen Mozart used as the tool of liturgical abuse. I remember a grand Tridentine Mass with a full orchestra that performed, and I do mean performed, Mozart’s Requiem on All Souls Day at a church not far from my own. All the Mozart aficionados left after the Sanctus, because apparently Mozart never completed the Mass and they will not stoop to listen to the parts not written by him. They were there for the show. Another big Mozart Tridentine Mass ended with a presentation of a big novelty check to the pastor by the organization that had footed the bill. There he stood in the sanctuary dressed like the Infant of Prague, biretta et al., smiling for the cameras.

So we have three variations of the Mass in the Latin rite currently. My contention is that they are all three quite valid and quite licit, provided the Mass of the liturgical movement doesn’t depart from things permitted in the Missal of Paul VI. Prayer is the lifting of the heart and mind to God. If Gregorian chant lifts your heart and mind to God, good. If Gospel music does it, fine. If Latin is a better way for you to pray, excellent. Myself, despite having taught Latin for 25 years, after having studied it for twelve, I still prefer to pray in English which is my first language.

Tolerance and empathy are very rare things in our time. Most people who would call themselves liberal are as rigid as the traditionalists to whom they would deny the Old Mass. The Traditionalists are centered on their own opinion and their own liturgical tastes as the liberals whom they detest. Some of us prefer roses to daisies. If daisies are my favorite flower and I offer them to my beloved, they’re the gift of my heart, and my beloved knows that. If you however prefer roses, then offer roses to your believed, but don’t disdain my daisies. Roses are not better nor are they worse than daisies; nor are daisies better than roses, if they are an offering of the heart. Just remember that the flowers are to be given for the enjoyment of the Beloved, not kept for our own selfish pleasures.

And Bishop Olson, if these thoughts come to your attention, hang in there. You are in my prayers. Don’t let them keep you from laughing. The devil hates good honest laughter. Isn’t it curious how little the very progressive and the very traditional laugh?

Your Old Latin Teacher,
The Rev. Know-it-all

P.S. A careful reading of Article 5 §1 of Summorum Pontificum says that the Tridentine mass should be offered, “In parishes where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition... (and the practice) of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole Church.” The Old Mass should be offered. It also says that any priest may say this Mass without special permission.  Fisher-Moore College is not a parish, and one suspects that they aren’t much worried about harmony.

P.P.S. If the Traditionalist crowd, of whom I am pretty much a card carrying member, wants the old Mass to make a comeback, they should request permission to use more English in the Extraordinary form so that anyone can follow it. A lot of young people are looking for dignity and beauty in the age of Miley Cyrus. They will never fall in love with a liturgy that needs a graduate degree to understand. “Latin is a language as dead as it can be. First it killed the Romans and now it’s killing me.” And this from an aging classicist!

P.P.P.S. Let’s dump this Ordinary/Extraordinary nonsense. The Mass said for five hundred years is not un-ordinary and a Mass with people in giant paper mache heads or loin clothes, feathers and clown costumes is ordinary only in a mental asylum

Friday, March 21, 2014

What do you have to say about Bishop Olson?

Dear Reverend Know-it-all,

I was wondering what you thought about the smack-down administered to Fisher-More College in Dallas by the new Bishop Olson who has forbidden them to have the Latin Mass? Hasn’t He read Summorum Pontificum which gave us the right to have the Latin mass?

Ivanna K. Vetch

Dear Ivanna,

Odd you should ask me about Bishop Olson and the Latin Mass. I was his Latin teacher.  I know Bishop Olson fairly well and love him very much. He is a very smart and a very strong man. When I think of Bishop Olson, I hear laughter, full-throated, joyful laughter. I can’t remember a time that we saw each other and did not start laughing immediately. When I think of Bishop Olson, I think first of joy, but there is another word that better describes Bishop Olson. He is pious.

Piety is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The pious man has a profound respect for God and His Church. It is Bishop Olson’s signal gift, beyond even his joy, his wisdom and his fortitude. In our times, piety is a much neglected virtue. These days, to say someone is pious can be an insult. It implies a dour and reclusive character in the modern mind. The modern mind is crazy, so who cares what it thinks? Bishop Olson was brave enough to be pious when progressive and tolerant sorts wanted to throw him out of the seminary because he prayed too much. Those were terrible times in the seminary when a young man who went to Mass every day or, heaven forefend, said the Rosary was suspected of excessive and morbid piety. Mike Olson was brave enough to keep saying the Rosary and going to daily Mass. Now he is a bishop. He loves the Lord, the Church, the Blessed Mother, and by the way it was Michael Olson who taught me to love St. Theresa, the Little Flower. Boy, did his devotion to her get him grief! That’s what I have to say about Bishop Michael Olson.

Now a little about me, I taught Latin and classical Greek for 25 years. I say the Latin Mass, not every Sunday, but monthly. It is beautiful. We have a men’s schola, no organ music, just Gregorian chant. I love the Old Mass. I grew up with it. The dignity, the ceremony and the mysticism of it touch me deeply. Why don’t I say it every Sunday? That is complicated.

First of all let’s look at the current state of the liturgy. You can learn my opinions from my other fulminations. Just look up my diatribe “A Brief History of the Hootenanny Massand Other Absurdities.” Here I prefer to take a more sober look at the modern liturgy.

In the Catholic Church, there are currently 13 rites: the Coptic, Ethiopic, Maronite, Syrian, Syro-Malankara, Armenian, Chaldean, Syro-Malabar, Byzantine, Latin, Ambrosian (Milan), Braga (Portugal), Mozarabic, (Spain) and the Anglican Use for former Anglican priests. It is not a rite, but may eventually become one. Within these rites of the Church there are different ways to say Mass. For instance the Chaldean and Byzantine rites have three anaphoras or Eucharistic prayers. In the Syrian rite there are 12 different Eucharistic prayers! They have such colorful names as the Liturgy (Mass) of St. John Chrysostom or the Mass of Theodore of Mopsuestia.

I would venture that we now have a few liturgies in the Latin (Roman) Rite of the Catholic Church. We have the Mass of St. Pius V (Tridentine), the Mass of the Venerable Paul VI, and the Mass of the liturgical movement. After the Council of Trent, Pope St. Pius V authorized the Missal that codified the earlier and sometimes variant practices of the western Church. After the end of the second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI authorized the current Missal. The Mass of the liturgical movement is always thought to be the Mass of Paul VI, but it is really the product of the liturgical movement that got its start in the enlightenment. In Austria, around 1750, there was a political and religious movement called “Josephine” from the name of Emperor Joseph II. The Austrian government tried to take control of the Church to “demystify” the Mass in the spirit of the enlightenment. Contemplative orders were dissolved and their assets taken by the state. Priests became civil servants. This drive to demystify the Church resurfaced around 1850. Even before the Second Vatican Council, the earlier “Josephine” spirit in Austria influenced the new liturgical movement. There was a great scholarly effort to “restore” the Mass to its assumed earlier simplicity. I remember the excitement in the air before the Second Vatican Council.

One of my earliest memories is of attending the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday morning. It was thought of more as the blessing of the Easter Water than the first Mass of Easter. It had been gradually moved forward on Holy Saturday beginning around 700AD so that it eventually became a Holy Saturday morning Mass. It was restored to the ancient use only in 1956. During the whole nineteenth and twentieth century there were reforms and changes that tried to return the liturgy to a more ancient use, among these was the renewal of Gregorian chant. We like to think that Gregorian chant is an unbroken heritage from the earliest Church. It isn’t. Go to you tube and listen to some Old Roman Chant. Gregorian chant was itself a reform of what had gone before. Liturgical adaptation, reform and renewal are continuous in the history of the Church. The change and development of liturgy has been gradual and organic. The Mass of Paul VI was the fruit of this desire for liturgical renewal and simplification.

What happened in the twentieth century turned out to be anything but simple, gradual and organic. It was abrupt. The incorporation of secular popular music into the liturgy had no precedent except for the orchestral, operatic Masses of the enlightenment such as those of Mozart and Haydn. There is a true saying that things aren’t like they used to be, but then again they never were. The unchanging Mass of the Latin Rite has never stopped changing. The Mass of Paul VI, Mass of the Council, was a simplification of the old Roman rite. As it was planned, it was major change but still not an abrupt departure from the Mass that had developed slowly over 2,000 years. When said by the book, it still resembles the Mass of St. Pius V. It still expects that Latin will be used at Mass along with chanted Mass parts, psalms and prayers. Almost no one realizes that the missal of Paul VI expects that the priest face AWAY the congregation for some parts of the Mass. The prayers at the foot of the Altar and the offertory prayers are the biggest changes in the Mass of Paul VI. The Mass said in most churches now little resemble the Mass as said for two thousand years, or even what Paul VI intended. The Mass of Paul VI is said almost nowhere outside St. Peter’s Basilica, and of course my church here in Frostbite Falls, but we do only one Paul VI Mass here, the 8AM. The rest of our Masses are the usual liturgical movement Mass with its hymns, facing the congregation and offered in English.

To be continued

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We have lost our minds..

Letter to Mary K. Lastima, the grand finale.
It must seem a little far fetched to you, that somehow the banality with which the liturgy is celebrated by many officiants, the prevalence of abortion and the worship of demonic spirits are somehow all tied together. Perhaps I should throw in space aliens and Bigfoot while I am at it.
I say the Mass of St. Pius V (more commonly called the Tridentine Mass) regularly.  I more often say the Mass of the Venerable Paul VI (commonly called the Ordinary form of the Novus Ordo. I am not opposed to the Mass of Paul VI. I actually love it. It is the Mass that I have mostly said all of my priesthood. My problems are not with the Novus Ordo, so called, but with the outrageous manipulation of the liturgy for personal or political motives. I think of liturgies with giant paper mache heads, old women dancing in flowing skirts and fat men dancing about in tight white pants, or I think of para-liturgies that feature angels roller skating to circus music. I’m not making this up. You can look this stuff up at the following sites.
And in the next one, the men are not as fat, but they are still wearing white. Why do large liturgical men favor white when black is so slimming?
I love the Mass of Paul VI. I remember once reading that the liturgy of the Latin rite is characterized by its simplicity and dignity. One is reminded of that old song, “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma.”  Paper Mache dancing heads and fat guys in white pants? Dignity? Simplicity?
Still, I maintain that the simplified Mass of Paul VI offered the way intended is very beautiful. The way we priests have mangled it has lowered our standard of the sacred, with horrifying consequences. The Mass as said in many parishes is a venue for rebellion, not for worship. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry.” (1Sam. 15:23) I am regularly asked why a priest changes the Mass, or uses his own words or leaves part out while he puts in things that aren’t supposed to be there. It is simple. He is a rebel and “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry.”  Three thousand years ago the prophet Samuel saw a connection between the abuse of liturgy and the demonic. Look it up: First Book of Samuel the 15th chapter. Saul offered sacrifice which was forbidden to him and for this he lost the crown and his life, as well as the life of his son, Jonathan.
Have you ever read the Book of Wisdom, also called the Wisdom of Solomon? It’s one of those extra Catholic books. You would have read, “…through the envy of the devil came death into the world.” For what, you may ask, is the devil envious of us? He is immortal; he is immeasurably smarter and more powerful than we. This, too, is simple: Angels don’t reproduce, and the devils, who are fallen angels, can only steal our children. God shared something with us that He didn’t share with the angels. We can create something immortal.
God creates the soul, but a man and a woman in their coming together create the body, which is immortal, if Christ’s promise of resurrection is true. Humanity in its art and in its children shares the creativity of God in a way that angels cannot. Therefore, the devil hates art and beauty, for which the Catholic Mass and Catholic churches were the principle venue for a thousand years. The devil has convinced us to swap the amazing music and architecture of Catholicism for ugly buildings and banal music. The simplicity dignity and beauty of the Latin rite, both in the new mass and the old, gives way to the spectacle of the circus. But more than art, the devil hates children. They remind him that “God so loved the world.” In his diabolical envy, he has contrived to create sterile art and sterile marriages. Abortion, artificial birth control, rampant divorce, same sex marriage, on-line and off line pornography. They are the utensils with which the devil devours children and we feed them to him as surely as our forbears threw their children into the fires of the demon-god Moloch, all for the sake of our well being and prosperity.
Why do I lump divorce in with all those other more clearly anti-reproductive activities? Simple: Children need stable homes in which to flourish. Even faithful marriages between men and women who cannot themselves have children strengthen the dignity and reverence in which marriage and the home are held. If the sacredness of the bond between a man and a woman can be cheapened, then children may be born, but in their hearts they usually can’t flourish.
The Latin word sacrament means an oath to the death. We have reduced it to a show, a kind of entertainment, and shamefully this is not just done at the new Mass, but I have seen Tridentine Masses where it is all about the show. The degradation of one sacrament, the breaking of one solemn oath hardens our hearts. We receive the Body and Blood or the Lord without reverence, without “discerning the body” as St. Paul says, and we likewise have no trouble breaking the oath that gives life in the flesh after we have cheapened the oath which gives us life in the spirit.  I cannot fathom how a person can think that the pleasures of what is most certainly an aberrant, use of our bodies, even if it is pleasurable to some, can be compared to the sacred, life-giving secret shared by a husband and wife.
I said earlier, the devil hates good art and the devil hates children, He has tried to teach us that sexual desirability is the ultimate beauty. We go to the gym, the diet clinic and the plastic surgeon to keep ourselves physically desirable. All the while we remain morally and spiritually weak and deformed. We are cheap paintings in expensive frames. We are fifty dollar haircuts on seventy five cent heads. When we mistake the paint, the hair dye and the varnish for beauty, we are fools. True beauty lifts us to God. False beauty fixes our eyes only on our desires. True beauty makes us better. False beauty makes us less. False beauty ties us up in our own needs and fantasies. It fixes our gaze on the filth beneath our feet, not on the stars over our heads.
How can what the modern world calls love ever be compared with that love that brings new life? The disordered desires of the modern marriage movement bring nothing but passing pleasures that are soon devoured by boredom and regret. I know three things that are beautiful: a simple Mass, an old couple and a newborn baby.
A simple Mass simply said, lifts the heart and mind to God. A simple Mass doesn’t entertain. It brings heaven down to earth and earth to heaven in the flesh and blood of the Savior made present on the altar.
The charm of a young couple in love cannot be compared to the beauty of an old man and woman, who after a life of faithfulness walk hand in hand with each other and call each other by names like “sweetheart,” or “Mama” and “Papa”. 
And more beautiful still is that ultimate work of art, fashioned by the Maker of all things in a woman’s sacred womb: a child. Is there anything more wonderful than that little bundle of hope that reminds us of God’s great love? We have trashed the churches and murdered the children, all in the name of progress, freedom and tolerance.
We have lost our minds.
The Rev. Know-it-all

Monday, March 10, 2014

The fruits of Liturgical Chaos

Letter to Mary K. Lastima continued
When last I wrote, I tried to make the farfetched argument that “…liturgical chaos spawned moral chaos which in turn spawned abortion, infanticide and abortive artificial birth control, and you see, the devil hates babies.”
At face value this seems both simplistic and absurd. Allow me to invent my own wacky conspiracy theory. The madness that engulfed the Catholic Mass in the mid-1960s had consequences that went much farther than people realized. The wholesale de-formalization of the Mass changed the way Catholics looked at themselves and the world. When one fifth — give or take — of the world’s population changes its way of thinking, living and praying, that’s huge, and that’s exactly what happened in the 1960s. We Catholics lived in a hierarchical Church until the Mass changed. Hierarchy is of course a bad thing in the eyes of modern people. I recently heard about an interview in which the products of modern American education were astonished that the earth moved around the sun and that President Roosevelt had died. The product of modern education and culture are for the most part as well educated as gravel. Where was I? Oh, yes moderns dislike hierarchy, but they don’t have a clue as to what it means.
It is assumed that hierarchy means chain of command. It doesn’t originally. Hierarchy is a Greek word that means sacred leadership. I know of only two forms of sacred leadership: the bishops of the Catholic Church and the original hierarchy: Mom and Dad. The old Mass embodied hierarchy. The priest went into the holy of holies, the sanctuary and spoke to God. Nothing was given him except through the hands of those ordained. The deacon gave him bread and he offered it to the Lord. The deacon gave him wine and he offered it to the Lord. The people didn’t do much. They responded and prayed along quietly. The priest assisted by deacon and sub-deacon went into the sanctuary to intercede for the community. There were moments when the priest could not be heard. There was no microphone at the altar. It was as if parts of the liturgy said “I’m talking to God, not to you. Mind your own business!” How insultingly un-democratic.
There were times when we could not see or hear what was going on. All we could do was look at the play book i.e. the missal. There was a clarity of roles and everyone knew the drill. It sounds awful to modern ears, but if you’ve ever seen it done it is a fascinating thing to watch, almost like a ballet. The new Mass was designed to be less mysterious, but mystery was not thrown out all together. That came later. I remember the day it happened in my life. I was about 15 or 16 years old. We lived down the street from the church and we were about to have our first home Mass. Until that time a Mass could only be offered in a public place of prayer, for instance a church. Masses were meant to gather the faithful together, and were never thought of as private celebrations. Somehow we thought that private Masses would democratize things. Go figure.
The young cool priest in our parish was coming to our house to celebrate Mass on the dining room table. People kept asking, “Can I come?” We managed to cram 50 plus people in our house and a choir of nuns with guitars. It was well-intentioned chaos. We thought it must have been like the early Church, so informal, so homey. Why we thought that I have no idea. There is no evidence for the assumption that the first Christians celebrated Mass on dining room tables, but it just had to be true.
Needless to say the celebration had all the dignity of a coffee klatch as we slouched around sitting on radiators and folding chairs etc. trying to get a good look at what was going on. I kept thinking maybe we should move it down the street to the church where there was more room. It was great. It was NEW, and in the 1960's NEW was wonderful. We had new and improved shampoo, new and improved cars, new and improved dog food, new and improved antacids and now we had new and improved Masses. It was not long before vestments and rubrics went the way of the dodo. Words were changed and we were consecrating bagels and Ripple. If hierarchy, sacred leadership, was important in old, the new seemed to be neither sacred nor led by anyone. We were desensitized to the need for leadership, sacred or otherwise. This is the same era in which 18 year-olds believing that this indeed was the Age of Aquarius, took to the streets to attack the evils of society. It was the time of the sexual revolution and the drug culture. Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll!  Well, we certainly tore down the walls, but we had nothing with which to replace them. The sexual revolution gave way to epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases and the culture of divorce. The drugs gave way to burnout and worst of all rock n’ roll gave way to disco and polyester pants suits. Talk about societal decline.
This was also the era in which TV sit-coms like “Father Knows Best” gave way to shows that could have been titled “Father Is An Idiot”. The correlation between the demise of the Mass and the demise of fatherhood is not too farfetched. Don’t forget that Catholic Priests were called Father. Priests everywhere stared to shy away from their titles. You might say, “Hello, Father,” only to be met with “Oh, I’m not your Father, just call me Pete.” That was how you showed you were a cool priest — that and wearing blue jeans instead of dreary black. It didn’t mean you were cool. It just meant you weren’t sure what you were doing with your life.
You were no longer a man who was called and ordained to intercede for the people of God in imitation of Christ, so what were you — sort of a life-coach or a Saul Alinsky community organizer?  We were anti-clerical clerics and were supposed to be close to the people. Some of us got close to people in a very unfortunate way and I needn’t go into that. I will just quote an old Lithuanian priest who shook his head when they removed the confession screens. “They’re going to find out pretty quickly why they put in the confessional screens in the first place.”
The world threw out sacred leadership and in the “spirit of Vatican II”, we joined in the party. The TV shows went from “I Remember Mama” and “Father Knows Best” to “Maude,” a show that celebrated divorce and geriatric promiscuity. It was an overnight transition. The Catholic prohibitions against promiscuity, artificial birth control and divorce became laughable. The Catholic prohibitions against abortion and same-sex relationships became crimes against tolerance and are fast becoming crimes against humanity.
What has this to do with human sacrifice?  In Deuteronomy 12:31 we read, “You must not worship the Lord your God in their (the Canaanites’) way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”
In our county we worship the twin deities, Freedom and Prosperity. Why do you think babies are snatched from the womb? Either for the sake Freedom or Prosperity.  And what do you think they do with those babies? They are thrown out and from there either go into landfills or into incinerators, just like Jews in the Holocaust.
Burn ‘em or bury ‘em. Just get rid of them. There was a shrine in the Valley of Gehenna called Tophet or the Roasting Place. There was set up an idol of the god Molech. According to the medieval Jewish sage Rashi, “Moloch was an idol made of brass. They heated him from his lower parts and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.” 
The drums beat, the doctor recommends, the paper work is filled out, the insurance pays, so that our hearts might not be moved. The Early Christians as well as the Jews believed that Moloch was no god, but a demon — the very personification of evil. So we seem still to be throwing our children into the fire, or into the landfill. It really makes no difference. It is all for the worship of the gods Prosperity and Freedom.
There is no father to weep for his children, no father to protect his wife, no Father in the pulpit to speak for God, no father in the home to teach his children. We may do as we please because nothing from the liturgy to human life is sacred.

Next week: I’m far from done.