Friday, May 27, 2011

RKIA's Guide to Reading the Bible... part 1

Dear Rev. Know it all,

Who did the sons of Adam and Eve marry?

Patiently yours,
Eve Anne Gellikal

Dear Eve,

They married their wives.

the Rev. Know it all

PS I imagine you would like a more detailed answer than that. This will take some time, and so I have to decide to answer your question with a long harangue of which this is the first installment.


Let me begin by quoting my favorite theologian, the Rev. Billy Bob. “God hates method. He loves principle.” Do not misread the preceding. God hates method, not Methodists. God loves Methodists very much. No one can put on a church supper like Methodists.

What is the Rev. Billy Bob trying to say? An example: You go to the Thursday prayer meeting and that Thursday you are in charge of the prayer ministry. You are wearing your favorite bowling shirt, your red feedlot cap and your St. Christopher medal. Before you sit, an afflicted soul who has come for healing prayer with the worst case of athlete’s foot in medical history enters the room. You anoint him with holy water, praying in tongues all the while with the laying on of hands and conclude with three Hail Mary’s. And much to your shock he is instantly healed!

You now know how to heal the sick. You wear your favorite bowling shirt, your red feedlot cap and your St. Christopher medal. You anoint with holy water, praying in tongues with the laying on of hands and conclude with three Hail Mary’s. So you do the same thing next week, now that you have the gift of healing, and nothing happens. The minute you think you’ve got God down to a method He does things a different way. God hates method. He loves principle.

This is the point that St. Paul is trying to make when he talks about works of the law. “...a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ...” Galatians 2:16. There is only one place other than the New Testament in all of ancient literature where the phrase “works of the law” appears. It is in the Dead Sea Scroll 4QMMT: “Miqtsat Ma’asei ha Torah” (“Precepts of the Works of the Law”). It seems to be written by Essenes to Pharisees about ritual purity. In the scroll 4QMMT we read in ruling 16 “Concerning streams of liquid; we have determined that they are not intrinsically pure. Indeed, streams of liquid do not form a barrier between the pure and the impure for the liquid that is in the stream and that in its receptacle become as one liquid.” So there! Take that, you loose and liberal Pharisees!

(What the heck is this guy talking about????)Simply this: If a clay bowl is unclean and you pour water from a clay pitcher into the bowl, the uncleanness leaps up the stream of water and pollutes the pitcher and both must broken! Surely you remember this from you reading of Leviticus? The scroll ends with “Now we have written you some of the works of the law which we determined would be beneficial to you.”

When Paul talks about works of the law, he is saying that we are not saved by this ritual nonsense, but by conversion of heart and mind. 500 years ago Luther decided that Paul was saying that we don’t have to do anything to go to heaven. Paul would have been a bit surprised at that conclusion (Romans 2:24), as would Jesus (Matt7:23) In fact, St. James says that it is clear we are not saved by faith alone, but by works also (James 2:24)

If Luther had understood that the phrase “works of the law” was about ritual purity and not about kindness and mercy, and that Paul simply wanted to explain that these external rituals of kosher law don’t save, he would have spared the world a lot of trouble. It is always intriguing to me that people who talk loudly about dead works and salvation by faith alone constantly try to get people who were baptized as infants by the pouring of water to be re-baptized by a very specific formula as adults and only by immersion. They believe in method, not in principle. Whether they admit it or not they are professing salvation by a work of law.

We want to reduce the Bible to a set of rules. It is a book of principles, the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is not to say that rules are unimportant. On the Contrary! For children, good rules are essential and we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless we are like little children. These rules however, depend on love and trust and a desire to obey the Father who loves us. They are rules that teach the principles of the Kingdom. They are not rules that we can get around, rules that enable us to do as little as possible. They are instructions in the very character of God.

The prayer of the pagan is “God, give me what I want.” the prayer of the Christian is “Lord, teach me your ways.” (Psalm 25:4, 86:11,27,11 and the whole rest of the Bible.) The Bible is not a science text, it is not a history text, it is not a rule book. It has all these things in it, but it is primarily a collection of books that deal with the way God has loved us since the beginning of time.


Next week: the Bible is not a book

Friday, May 20, 2011

Atlas Shrugged... I just shake my head

Dear Rev. Know it all,

Who is John Galt?

Al Truhyzm

Dear Al,

John Galt is Alisa Rosenblum’s imaginary boyfriend.

the Rev. Know it all.

P.S. You may have heard of Alisa Rosenblum by a name she made up for herself, Ayn Rand. A lot of people are talking about her these days. Her book, Atlas Shrugged of which John Galt is the fictional hero, is finally being made into a movie.

John Galt doesn’t show up in the book until the story is almost finished, but everyone in the book keeps asking, “Who is John Galt?” He is a revolutionary capitalist who convinces all the other big capitalists to hide out in the mountain until the world collapses and they are finally recognized as the best people in the world, proving that selfishness is the highest of virtues.

Why should we care about Alisa Rosenblum/Ayn Rand and her boyfriend John Galt at all? Because Ayn Rand is one of the most influential authors in American culture. Such luminaries as Glenn Beck a former Roman Catholic, current Mormon, and Representative Paul Ryan, current Roman Catholic of Wisconsin are great fans of hers. In fact Paul Ryan requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged. Perhaps her most famous disciple is Alan Greenspan, whose “laissez les bons temps rouler” (that’s French for “Whoopee!!!”) economic policies have recently crashed and burned. Greenspan was one of Rand’s inner circle and his opposition to financial regulation is pure Atlas Shrugged.

This is an important book. With the movie coming out soon, Ayn/Alisa is about to raise a new generation of followers because she appeals to the selfish acquisitive streak that occasionally appears in the otherwise generous American spirit. So let me tell you about little Alisa and how she clawed her way to fame.

Alisa Rosenblum was born in Russia in 1905 in St. Petersburg in a prosperous non-observant Jewish family. She didn’t quite fit in with her Russian schoolmates who were devoutly Russian Orthodox and devoutly anti-Semitic. She seems to have suffered from “I’ll show you all someday when I’m rich and famous” syndrome. She was a remarkably smart child who loved to read romantic heroic novels, imagining handsome heroes who would recognize her inherent superiority and sweep her off her feet. No such luck.

The Russian revolution interrupted her life when she was twelve and thus she added intense hatred of Socialism to her intense hatred of Russian Orthodox Christianity. She really came close to starving in the revolution. She perceived a connection between Russian Christianity and Socialism: collectivism. At the age of thirteen she decided she was an atheist and began to develop her philosophy of rational egoism, which became objective realism, or simply objectivism. Her literary work was always at the service of her philosophy in which selfishness was a positive virtue and altruism the greatest vice.

She survived the worst of the revolution and studied in the state schools where she became interested in film and writing and there she adopted her pen name, Ayn Rand. In 1926 the family managed to scrape enough money together to get her out of Russia. She went to live with relatives in Chicago who owned a movie theater where she spent the days watching free movies. Though she had fallen in love with New York upon seeing all those big tall buildings, she knew that a true realist could only flourish in that Mecca of truth, Hollywood.

The Chicago relatives scraped together enough money to send her to California, and to fame. Needless to say they never saw a dime of their investment returned and they were happy to tell you about their disappointment. She struggled in Hollywood, but was clever enough to stalk director Cecil B. De Mille who gave work as an extra in The King of Kings, and then as a junior screenwriter. There she met Frank O’Connor, another extra who, in toga and sandals, looked just like the handsome hero of whom she had always dreamed. They got married in 1929. Rand became an American citizen in 1931. Taking various jobs during the 1930’s, her lucky break came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn to Universal Studios in 1932.

People were looking for stuff on the Russian Revolution written by someone who had actually been there. Long story short, Alisa had arrived. Her book The Fountainhead (1943) made her famous. It’s hero is a maverick architect, Howard Roark who is supposedly modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright, but with rippling muscles and a penchant for rape and long speeches. (Rand thought that, under the right circumstances, rape was a moral, indeed obligatory act. If it happened at the hands of a superior man. Rand seems to have thought the superior woman revolved around the superior man. She seems to have had some very interesting personal issues. She was delighted to have once been called the most courageous man in America. You figure it out. I can’t.)

Next she moved on to Atlas Shrugged in 1957, whose dashing superior male lead is John Galt who gets all the movers and shakers in America to go on strike and then the world comes to a crashing halt because the takers would no longer have the producers to kick around. After the publication of Atlas Shrugged, Rand became depressed and would mutter "John Galt wouldn’t feel this!” So much for the realist.

In 1950, at age 45, Alisa/Ayn met a special friend, 19-year-old Nathan Blumenthal. He and his girl friend, later wife, met Frank and Ayn and soon all were fast friends. Blumenthal changed his name to Branden, a Hebrew acronym for Ben Rand, son of Rand, and he called her his true father.(!?!) Soon father and son were in the sack together. Ayn/Alisa and Nathan/Nathaniel explained to their respective spouses that since they were both superior people, their liaison was really the only moral thing to do and Barbara and Frank would just have to put up with it. Which they did.

For years. Ayn/Alisa decided that Blumenthal/Branden was her intellectual heir, the only one capable of receiving her insights fully, the Messiah and the best thing since sliced bread. Frank went on to become a painter, a gardener, an alcoholic and a chain smoker. Barbara just put up with it.

Finally, Branden/Blumenthal was let off the hook when Rand/Rosenblum went into a heavy depression. He promptly became interested in a young Hollywood starlet, and then Ayn/Alisa snapped out of it. Branden was otherwise involved and tried the “It’s not you; It’s me” routine but finally he leveled with her. She had a meltdown. Branden, the standard bearer of the Objectivist Movement was thrown out of the Objectivist Movement. Ayn frequently held counseling and group sessions in which she critiqued people and occasionally her followers gathered to excommunicate heretics. Branden was now a heretic. He, his wife, and his girlfriend were sent packing and he went on to make a tidy living as the founder of the self esteem movement.

Ayn Rand/Alisa Rosenblum was a nasty, ill-tempered tyrant and sexual predator. She lived much of her life high on amphetamines. Her personal hygiene was deplorable and she destroyed the lives of those who came into close contact with her, from her one aborted child on to the disciples who didn’t agree with her totally.

The most telling illustration of who Ayn Rand was came toward the end of her life. One of her disciples came to visit her in the hospital and Ayn commented on how odd that she could see a tree in her window on such a high floor of the hospital. The disciple said that it only the reflection of the IV pole in the window. Rand/Rosenblum flew into a rage. It was a TREE!!! To say that she had perceived external reality incorrectly was to strike at the heart of who she was.

This is the woman who so many believe distills the true American spirit. God help us! Ayn Rand believed that she could perceive reality objectively. Christians were dreamers with imaginary friends like God and Christ and the saints. She was a realist, a realist who lived her life strung out on amphetamines, dominating a much younger person in a sexual relationship, believing in her imaginary, heroic lover, forcing poor, drunk, handsome Frank O’Connor to play the bit part of her consort. This is realism? Give me Jesus. You can have John Galt and his delusional girlfriend.

the Rev. Know it all

P.P.S. Why, you may ask do I insist on using Alisa Rosenblum instead of Ayn Rand? I do so because the woman was so delusional that she wouldn’t even use her own name or acknowledge her own heritage. If this is what you call realism then you are as delusional as she was.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A short history of the Hootenanny Mass & other absurdities (part 27 and last)

Letter to Harold “Hoot” and Annie Gibson cont. part 27


So what do we do now? First a word to the Catholicism-lite crowd -- be who you claim to be. Tolerate diversity. If there’s a group who wants to have Mass by the book, do a Mass for them without eight mini-sermons, liturgical dancers, incense in bean pots and lay concelebrants holding hands while singing Kumbaya. Have a Mass that allows the old fogies and the young fogies (to borrow Fr. Andrew Greeley’s phrase) to kneel for communion if they want, or to say the Our Father without holding the sweaty hand of some stranger. Have a Mass that’s guaranteed to be “by the book.”

The incomparable Fr. Zuhlsdorf quotes a liturgy director as saying “Say the Black, and Do the Red.” In the Roman Missal there are things called “Rubrics.” They are printed in red (ruber, Latin for red, red=ruby. Get it?) They are the directions for how to say Mass. There are words in black. They are what we are supposed to say.

For instance, one hears the phrase, “Pray, sisters and brothers.” After all, we want to be inclusive and affirmative so we must insert “sisters” and affirmatively put them first. The semi-literate drones that our institutions of higher learning now produce have no idea that “brethren” in English is the inclusive term, like “Geschwister” in German, which sounds like the word for sisters. When I am addressed at a German language Mass as Geschwistern I am not insulted. I don’t imagine anyone is favoring women over men.

However, some that now seem to run things are afraid of insulting someone so they have to add “sister” and say it first to be on the safe side. They don’t speak English very well and unaware that “Brethren” is an in inclusive term in modern English. (It is the archaic plural of “brother”) Well, the text says “Pray, Brethren”, not “Pray, sisters and brothers.”

My suggestion is that you have one Mass at your parishes in which you allow people to go to a Mass at which the Black is said and the Red is done ─ just one, Father. You can do your liturgical dancing and affirm your artistic side at the 11AM Mass. Just say the 9AM by the book, so that if a person wants to go to a Catholic Mass, she (or he) will have the opportunity to do so. I have always maintained that the faithful have a right to go to a Catholic Mass if they want to. It is your duty, Father, to provide at least one a Sunday. You can say a Mass later of which you are the star and during which you can let your inner poet out.

Now a word to my own brethren ─ the stick in the mud, curmudgeonly, reactionary, traditional types. Lighten up on the New Mass. If you are one of those folks that think that the new Mass is somehow less, somehow not quite as holy, and worst of all, one of those who think it is not valid, it is here that we part company. Have you no trust in God? Do you think the Holy Spirit is incapable of guiding the Church? The New Mass, as I have described it and as the Council Fathers (sorry, there were no Council Mothers as far as I can tell) envisioned it, is a very beautiful thing.

They envisioned a reverent Mass with much Latin, traditional postures and gestures, with the celebrant facing the Lord, when appropriate, facing the people when appropriate. The new Mass was supposed to involve kneeling, genuflection and so on. They envisioned a Mass in which the treasury of sacred music continued and Gregorian chant had pride of place, though allowance was made for a limited use of local music for pastoral reasons provided that music was of an appropriate nature.

Well if all that’s true, how have we ended up with the triumphalist, narcissistic, battle-of-the- bands lunacy that passes for liturgy? I have spent half a year explaining that and I am not going to repeat myself. I would however like to explain, at least in my own limited understanding, why we have the new Mass in the first place: Three simple words THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Holy Spirit anticipated the wild ride. Blessed Pope John and the Council Fathers invoked the Holy Spirit and convened the council, giving a mandate to streamline the liturgy; they could not have seen what the world would become in forty years. They could have known nothing of handheld computer phones so common that eight-year-olds would have them. Who could have imagined the world wide web, the fall of Marxism, a roaring Chinese economy and an heroic, growing Chinese Christianity, as well as a resurgent Islam, (though Hilaire Belloc had warned us.)

They couldn’t have imagined, artificial birth control claimed as a civil right and enforced abortions as a civil duty. Would they have believed anyone who told them that filth would be available 24 hours a day on handheld televisions and that computer access to pornography would be defended by leftist librarians as a right even for children? They couldn’t have imagined gay parades led by Irish Catholic mayors. They couldn’t have imagined television commercials in prime time with nearly naked models hawking things to enhance etc. (family column). They would have wept to imagine the depravity of modern society and, infinitely worse, that some of the clergy would plunge themselves and the good name of Holy Mother Church into that sea of filth.

Certainly, they could not have imagined the collapse of education that was to afflict the generations raised by television sets and day care providers. Could they have possibly known that, in a wave of pseudo-tolerance, academic excellence would take a back seat to political correctness? Who knew that the great universities, secular and Catholic alike, would produce generations of culturally and sometimes functionally illiterate graduates who thought themselves brilliant?

Had the Council Fathers a clue, that forty years of politically correct, ideologically anti-Catholic religious education, largely taught and controlled by people who had turned their backs on religious life itself, would produce two whole generations of Catholics who learned nothing more about the faith than that Jesus loves me and this is how you hold your hands for first Communion? Who could have imagined that the heritage of two thousand years of art and wisdom, of saints, martyrs and scholars would be threatened with extinction in the blink of an eye?

I’ll tell you who ¬ THE HOLY SPIRIT! We live in a world that cannot chew gum and walk at the same time. We think we are brilliant, but we are among the stupidest generations in history. We think we are wise and knowing because we can do swell things with computer graphics and the latest software, but we moderns are the least personally productive and the least individually competent group of people since the fall of the Roman empire. When I was a lad, people still knew how to play musical instruments. Now they know how to play a radio. We listen to whatever music we please on handheld devices, but pull the plug and we are bored with the wind in the trees and the chirping of birds.

In the same vein, we can’t spell, but we can access spell check. We can’t add or subtract, but we can work a calculator. Have you ever been in a fast food restaurant when the computer is down? The pierced and painted sophisticates who work there can’t make change for a five dollar bill! We don’t talk to one another; we text short shallow messages. We can communicate by key board but there are precious few who can actually read or write handwritten messages. We don’t know how to grow a potato or raise a chicken or build a chair. When the power goes out, and at some point it will, if human history is any indicator, millions and millions of suave urbanites will wander around indignant that the government is not doing anything and then they will starve to death.

I am not urging you to run to a commune in the mountains. Jesus said, “But when these things begin to take place, stand straight and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:28) Don’t run for the mountains this time. Stay. Live among those who don’t know the Lord, because they are going to need Him. If you abandon them, who will help them? The world has collapsed before and will collapse again.

For two thousand years, the Church has been the source and guardian of the civilization. Don’t you think the Holy Spirit is still in charge? The great difference between the New Mass and the Old Mass is that the Holy Spirit designed the New Mass to be LINEAR. That’s the whole difference. We live in a generation of intellectually-challenged electrified zombies who, as I mentioned earlier, can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

The old Mass was complex. The choir would do one thing, the celebrant another. There was time for quiet. There were things that happened that were unseen, unheard and unexplained. Earlier generations could perceive the sanctity and beauty of the ritual. When confronted by mystery, this generation says “Huh? I don’t get it.” So the Holy Spirit gave us a linear Mass. It is easy to understand, even if you are chewing gum.

Inspired by the same Holy Spirit, the Blessed John Paul and his successor, Benedict, have preserved the older more complex expression of the one sacrifice of Calvary for those to whom it is meaningful. At some times, for some people and in some places, the Latin Liturgy of John XXXIII is helpful. At some time, for some people and in some places the vernacular, linear Liturgy of Paul VI is helpful.

It is time for three things to happen.
1) Let us finally implement the council’s directives by “Saying the Black, and Doing the Red.”
2) It is time for liberals to finally be liberal and respect those for whom the traditional liturgy is meaningful.
3) And finally, it is time for people like me to stop harshing on people who are not capable of entering the mysticism of the old Mass.

As in the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors, the Holy Spirit has done something wonderful, despite the questionable motives of some of those He used. He has given the Latin Rite of the Church two liturgies, as in some of the Eastern Rites. We in the West now have the Liturgy of the Blessed John, which some call the Tridentine Mass, and the Liturgy of Paul VI which some people call the “Mass of Vatican Two” or “the New Mass” There are two widely available expressions of the Latin Rite, the Johannine Mass and the Pauline Mass. There is, however, no Hootenanny Mass, at least not in the vision of the Council.

I’m done now. I’ve gotten it all out and I feel better.


The Rev. Know-it-all

PS Don’t panic. The Rev. Know it all is not about to stop pontificating or fulminating. I think I will move on to the Rev. Know-it-all’s “Guide to Reading the Bible, the Big Book on the Coffee Table” and perhaps a diatribe against Ayn Rand.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A short history of the Hootenanny Mass & other absurdities... part 26

Letter to Harold “Hoot” and Annie Gibson cont. part 26

As I told you the last time you were foolish enough to read up this column, the solution to the current liturgical mess is to implement the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The reforms mentioned nothing, as far as I can tell about moving the tabernacles, whitewashing the churches, breaking the images and stained glass, ending novenas, rosary devotions and benedictions of the Blessed Sacrament.

And amazingly enough, the second Vatican Council did not mandate the turning of the altars. There is no requirement in the general liturgical norms of the Church that the congregation be forced to stare at their pastor’s ugly mug for the entire liturgy, nor he at theirs. My dear friend, the Rev. Colonel O’Leary, deacon and research monkey extraordinaire, has been spending a little time studying the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal which is to be implemented in the coming Advent. He has been comparing the new Missal to the current Missal particularly those rubrics which address the orientation of the priest to the people.

Amazingly, both documents assume that the priest is facing in the same direction as the people for much of the Mass! The current Missal seems to allow for the priest to face the altar for the sign of the cross and then turn toward the people for the greeting, while the revised Missal seems to envision that both the sign of the cross and the greeting be done facing the people. The Penitential Rite, Opening Prayer and Profession of Faith give no indication as to orientation. Specific instructions to face the people are given at the offertory for the prayer “Pray Brethren” (Orate Fratres) in both Missals. The Eucharistic prayer indicates the consecrated body and blood of Christ are to be “shown” to the people but does not seem to require facing the people while doing so. The elevation at the doxology omits any reference to the “showing” of the host or chalice. No indication of orientation is given for the Pater Noster, however the revised Missal instructs the priest to face the people for the greeting of peace. Specific instructions to face the people are given for both the Lamb of God, the prayer “Lord, I am not worthy” and the closing prayer.

If the Missal tells Father to turn around and face the people it is clearly assuming that he is not facing the people at other times. Such instructions would be unnecessary were the priest already facing the people. The basic assumption seems to be that when the priest is addressing the Lord, he faces in the same direction as the congregation, in solidarity with them, praying together.

However, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal indicates in paragraph 299 that
“The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”
There is ambiguity in this instruction as to whether it is the free standing nature of the altar or the facing of the people that is “desirable.” Let us look at the original Latin Text of paragraph 299 of the General Instruction. That should muddy the waters nicely.
Altare exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum paragi possit quod EXPEDIT ubicumque possibile sit.(Pay attention! There may be a brief quiz.)

As anyone who has taken beginning Latin knows, translating Latin into modern English is really just a sort of educated guess. Latin has no “the” or “a”, there is really no word for “yes” and so on. Word order is different than in English and the sentences go on and on like this brief history. One ends up sounding like the Star Wars nebbish, Yoda (played by Fozzy Bear of the Muppets). Here is my literal translation, “May altar be built from wall apart, so that it may be easy to be gone around and in it celebration facing (the) people to be done which helps (or makes available) wherever it may be possible.”

You figure it out. It sure doesn’t say you gotta do it this way. The word desirable doesn’t seem to appear. At least I wouldn’t translate “expedit” as “desirable.” Its usual meaning is “untangle”, “prepare”, “make free” or “available. ” All those “maybes” leave a lot of room for flexibility. “Expedit” would more commonly be translated "useful" or “available” rather than "desirable", in translation. In either case, it is plainly evident that a posture versus populum, or facing the people, is not mandated.

The text seems be saying that the possibility of Mass facing the people should be available. But if that’s not possible, that’s okay too. To be possible, is not the same as to be required. The council did an amazing thing. It mandated flexibility, that rarest of virtues. I am reminded of the old joke: “What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist? You can’t negotiate with a liturgist.” (For the humor impaired: insert laughter here.)

It is a great wonder that the inflexibility of times past is now a mark of the progressive movement in the church. When someone wants to kneel for communion, or doesn’t want to hold hands at the Our Father, or, heaven forfend, wants to receive Holy Communion on the tongue rather than in the hand, that person is reprimanded and there is much pious talk about unity of gesture and division in the congregation and yadda, yadda, yadda.

It takes an old curmudgeon like me to remind the young church crafters that uniformity is not necessarily unity. Let people do different things if they are legal and moral. The “my way or the highway” approach to worship that is common among so many self-styled progressives is one more reminder that no one is so conservative as a liberal. Father may improvise as much as he pleases. God have mercy on you however if you want to kneel at the wrong time. Let us take the sage advice of Chairman Mao and “Llet a thousand flowers bloom.”

So, it seems that the liturgists have been pulling your leg. Most of what passes for Vatican Two is really off-off-off Broadway planned by frustrated actors. I have said Mass the way the Council Fathers envisioned, except that I used mostly English. It was very beautiful and very reverent and I have the feeling that had we obeyed the Council, we would not have emptied the churches. By the way, the Council Fathers insisted that Mass be mostly be in Latin. That canoe has been over the waterfall for some time now. I have seen people storm out of church if they hear so much as a “Dominus vobiscum.”

For some reason not even known to heaven, these same people gush with inclusive joy when the prayers of the faithful are offered in eight different languages. Recently I was at a Mass during which one of the prayers of the faithful was offered in Hebrew. I’m sure all the orthodox Jews at the service were pleased. Kurt Vonnegut in his book “Cat’s Cradle” invents the word “duffle.” A duffle is the situation in which the lives of thousands are in the hands of a few fog bound children. What we have here is a duffle, even though most of the children in control are pretty old by now.