Friday, April 02, 2004

"Tales From the Mailbag" Dept.



You don't know me, but I've read some of your articles.

Out of curiosity, which ones did you read???

Just thought I'd share with you that I have recently by the Grace of God stepped back from the precipice of Extreme Traditionalism.

That is wonderful news.

I'm a convert to the Faith, and was scandalized by the state of affairs in the church and started reading Traditionalist articles on the internet.

I have long opined that converts are especially susceptible to so-called "traditionalism." The psychological reasons for this I believe are many and varied but at the core is the old Protestant principle of illegitimate private judgment applied to Tradition (and the texts of the Magisterium) much as Protestants apply them to Scripture. Some of my friends do not like me saying that this indicates an incomplete conversion but I remain unconvinced thus far that this assessment is false. If anything I see additional evidences confirming this theory from time to time.

They had me 99.9% convinced that "Integrism" was the way to go, and that the Popes since Pius XII were probably not popes.

I also have long opined that so-called "traditionalism" leads inexorably towards sedevacantism. However, this trajectory is not often realized. My question to you is this:

---Were you being taken in by actual sedevacantism in toto or was it more of the kind of functional sedevacantism that groups such as the SSPX promote???

Still, I was torn by this opinion, so a couple of weeks ago I prayed and prayed very earnestly that if the Conciliar Church was apostate, that God would "confirm" that to me in my heart, mind, and spirit. Just the opposite happened!

Again, this is wonderful news.

I've been reading articles on Extreme Traditionalism and I finally see that I have nothing to worry about: John Paul II is our true pope, Vatican II did not teach any heresy, and that our Novus Ordo Missae is indeed valid, although often abused.

All of which is true -the last one sadly so alas.

Now I have to share my change of heart with my trad friends, and this is going to be hard to do...

With regards to your "trad friends", I would recommend pastoral approaches over Unam Sanctum like pronouncements if that is at all feasible to do. (And it usually is.) As a reference point, I would recommend my treatise A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' because it covers so many subjects.{1} Not knowing which of my writings you have read, that is always my first recommendation to people on the subjects pertaining to so-called "traditionalism."

Just thought I'd share that.

It is always emails like yours (and I get a fair amount of them actually) that remind me about the efforts in this area -the labours undertaken on those works were not in vain. It can seem that way admittedly at times but I suppose that is normal with works where the payoff is not in gold and silver. Thankyou for the news and if you have questions or troubling issues, let me know and I will direct you either to where I have already addressed it or the matter can be gone over in various ways at my weblog.


{1} Here is the project url and most of the notes about it as advertised on the list of writings linked to my weblog:

This project is a systematic multitopical refutation of the theory of so-called 'traditionalism'. The topics covered in this project include Church History, Vatican II (its authority and misinterpretation), the Mass, Schism, Sedevacantism, Ecumenism, Religious Liberty, and other themes. This treatise is heavily documented, almost all of its sources can be verified as to their context, and the work demonstrates well beyond any reasonable doubt that these groups are not authentically Catholic in any way, shape, matter, or form. Furthermore, while aimed primarily at those who to some extent are autonomous of the Pope; nonetheless portions of this are applicable to every kind of false 'traditionalist' out there.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Meditations on The Dark Night of the Soul:
(Aka "the Rerum Novarum 2004 Lenten Spiritual Instruction")

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE. To start from the beginning of this series, please go HERE.


Of the signs by which it will be known that the spiritual person is walking along the way of this night and purgation of sense.

BUT since these aridities might frequently proceed, not from the night and purgation of the sensual desires aforementioned, but from sins and imperfections, or from weakness and lukewarmness, or from some bad humour or indisposition of the body, I shall here set down certain signs by which it may be known if such aridity proceeds from the aforementioned purgation, or if it arises from any of the aforementioned sins. For the making of this distinction I find that there are three principal signs.

The first is whether, when a soul finds no pleasure or consolation in the things of God, it also fails to find it in any thing created; for, as God sets the soul in this dark night to the end that He may quench and purge its sensual desire, He allows it not to find attraction or sweetness in anything whatsoever.

In such a case it may be considered very probable that this aridity and insipidity proceed not from recently committed sins or imperfections.

For, if this were so, the soul would feel in its nature some inclination or desire to taste other things than those of God; since, whenever the desire is allowed indulgence in any imperfection, it immediately feels inclined thereto, whether little or much, in proportion to the pleasure and the love that it has put into it.

Since, however, this lack of enjoyment in things above or below might proceed from some indisposition or melancholy humour, which oftentimes makes it impossible for the soul to take pleasure in anything, it becomes necessary to apply the second sign and condition.

The second sign whereby a man may believe himself to be experiencing the said purgation is that the memory is ordinarily centred upon God, with painful care and solicitude, thinking that it is not serving God, but is backsliding, because it finds itself without sweetness in the things of God.

And in such a case it is evident that this lack of sweetness and this aridity come not from weakness and lukewarmness; for it is the nature of lukewarmness not to care greatly or to have any inward solicitude for the things of God.

There is thus a great difference between aridity and lukewarmness, for lukewarmness consists in great weakness and remissness in the will and in the spirit, without solicitude as to serving God; whereas purgative aridity is ordinarily accompanied by solicitude, with care and grief as I say, because the soul is not serving God.

And, although this may sometimes be increased by melancholy or some other humour (as it frequently is), it fails not for that reason to produce a purgative effect upon the desire, since the desire is deprived of all pleasure and has its care centred upon God alone.

For, when mere humour is the cause, it spends itself in displeasure and ruin of the physical nature, and there are none of those desires to sense God which belong to purgative aridity. When the cause is aridity, it is true that the sensual part of the soul has fallen low, and is weak and feeble in its actions, by reason of the little pleasure which it finds in them; but the spirit, on the other hand, is ready and strong.

For the cause of this aridity is that God transfers to the spirit the good things and the strength of the senses, which, since the soul's natural strength and senses are incapable of using them, remain barren, dry and empty. For the sensual part of a man has no capacity for that which is pure spirit, and thus, when it is the spirit that receives the pleasure, the flesh is left without savour and is too weak to perform any action.

But the spirit, which all the time is being fed, goes forward in strength, and with more alertness and solicitude than before, in its anxiety not to fail God; and if it is not immediately conscious of spiritual sweetness and delight, but only of aridity and lack of sweetness, the reason for this is the strangeness of the exchange; for its palate has been accustomed to those other sensual pleasures upon which its eyes are still fixed, and, since the spiritual palate is not made ready or purged for such subtle pleasure, until it finds itself becoming prepared for it by means of this arid and dark night, it cannot experience spiritual pleasure and good, but only aridity and lack of sweetness, since it misses the pleasure which aforetime it enjoyed so readily.

These souls whom God is beginning to lead through these solitary places of the wilderness are like to the children of Israel, to whom in the wilderness God began to give food from Heaven, containing within itself all sweetness, and, as is there said, it turned to the savour which each one of them desired.

But withal the children of Israel felt the lack of the pleasures and delights of the flesh and the onions which they had eaten aforetime in Egypt, the more so because their palate was accustomed to these and took delight in them, rather than in the delicate sweetness of the angelic manna; and they wept and sighed for the fleshpots even in the midst of the food of Heaven.[Numbers xi, 5-6.]

To such depths does the vileness of our desires descend that it makes us to long for our own wretched food and to be nauseated by the indescribable blessings of Heaven.

But, as I say, when these aridities proceed from the way of the purgation of sensual desire, although at first the spirit feels no sweetness, for the reasons that we have just given, it feels that it is deriving strength and energy to act from the substance which this inward food gives it, the which food is the beginning of a contemplation that is dark and arid to the senses; which contemplation is secret and hidden from the very person that experiences it; and ordinarily, together with the aridity and emptiness which it causes in the senses, it gives the soul an inclination and desire to be alone and in quietness, without being able to think of any particular thing or having the desire to do so.

If those souls to whom this comes to pass knew how to be quiet at this time, and troubled not about performing any kind of action, whether inward or outward, neither had any anxiety about doing anything, then they would delicately experience this inward refreshment in that ease and freedom from care.

So delicate is this refreshment that ordinarily, if a man have desire or care to experience it, he experiences it not; for, as I say, it does its work when the soul is most at ease and freest from care; it is like the air which, if one would close one's hand upon it, escapes.

In this sense we may understand that which the Spouse said to the Bride in the Songs, namely: 'Withdraw thine eyes from me, for they make me to soar aloft.' [Canticles vi, 4 (v. 5 in the KJV)] For in such a way does God bring the soul into this state, and by so different a path does He lead it that, if it desires to work with its faculties, it hinders the work which God is doing in it rather than aids it; whereas aforetime it was quite the contrary.

The reason is that, in this state of contemplation, which the soul enters when it forsakes meditation for the state of the proficient, it is God Who is now working in the soul; He binds its interior faculties, and allows it not to cling to the understanding, nor to have delight in the will, nor to reason with the memory.

For anything that the soul can do of its own accord at this time serves only, as we have said, to hinder inward peace and the work which God is accomplishing in the spirit by means of that aridity of sense.

And this peace, being spiritual and delicate, performs a work which is quiet and delicate, solitary, productive of peace and satisfaction and far removed from all those earlier pleasures, which were very palpable and sensual. This is the peace which, says David, God speaks in the soul to the end that He may make it spiritual.[Psalm lxxxiv, 9 (v. 8 in the KJV)] And this leads us to the third point.

The third sign whereby this purgation of sense may be recognized is that the soul can no longer meditate or reflect in the imaginative sphere of sense as it was wont, however much it may of itself endeavour to do so.

For God now begins to communicate Himself to it, no longer through sense, as He did aforetime, by means of reflections which joined and sundered its knowledge, but by pure spirit, into which consecutive reflections enter not; but He communicates Himself to it by an act of simple contemplation, to which neither the exterior nor the interior senses of the lower part of the soul can attain. From this time forward, therefore, imagination and fancy can find no support in any meditation, and can gain no foothold by means thereof.

With regard to this third sign, it is to be understood that this embarrassment and dissatisfaction of the faculties proceed not from indisposition, for, when this is the case, and the indisposition, which never lasts for long, comes to an end, the soul is able once again, by taking some trouble about the matter, to do what it did before, and the faculties find their wonted support.

But in the purgation of the desire this is not so: when once the soul begins to enter therein, its inability to reflect with the faculties grows ever greater.

For, although it is true that at first, and with some persons, the process is not as continuous as this, so that occasionally they fail to abandon their pleasures and reflections of sense (for perchance by reason of their weakness it was not fitting to wean them from these immediately), yet this inability grows within them more and more and brings the workings of sense to an end, if indeed they are to make progress, for those who walk not in the way of contemplation act very differently.

For this night of aridities is not usually continuous in their senses. At times they have these aridities; at others they have them not. At times they cannot meditate; at others they can. For God sets them in this night only to prove them and to humble them, and to reform their desires, so that they go not nurturing in themselves a sinful gluttony in spiritual things.

He sets them not there in order to lead them in the way of the spirit, which is this contemplation; for not all those who walk of set purpose in the way of the spirit are brought by God to contemplation, nor even the half of them--why, He best knows. And this is why He never completely weans the senses of such persons from the breasts of meditations and reflections, but only for short periods and at certain seasons, as we have said.

To be Continued...


On Workable Remedies For Society's Problems, Etc.:
(Dialogue with Kevin Tierney)

This is a response to Kevin's response to my weblog entry blogged HERE. (It is also to some extent a continuation of our discussions on church and state the last installment of which can be read HERE.) His words will be in shale coloured font. Any sources I reference will be in darkgreen.


I appreciate your nice words about Rerum Novarum. As far as my other weblogs go, the Miscellaneous BLOG is basically an extension of Rerum Novarum and is usually a place where foundational principles which outline my approach to divers subjects are sketched out in brief. (Or definitions of key terms utilized in dialogue.) Of a different purpose of course is The Lidless Eye Inquisition.

I am sure that it would not surprise you if I noted that I view The Lidless Eye Inquisition weblog much differently than you do. Not only is this because numerous are the people who have expressed to varying degrees an appreciation for what we do there.{1} There are also many more Catholics who were taken in (or nearly taken in) by the propaganda from so-called "traditionalists" have expressed appreciation for the role of that apostolate -in conjunction with a number of my web writings- has had in helping them see the light.

And among those who -despite having the scales removed from their eyes- remain attached to some forms of Tridentine discipline and worship are directed accordingly to apostolates which are not antagonistic to the faith or to authentic spiritual progress. In short, we will have to agree to disagree there since the number of those I respect who are favourable to the enterprise by far outweigh those I respect who are not.

While the issues of abortion, contraception, and gay marriage are all very important issues, I believe they are but symptoms of a far larger issue, that of a flagrant disrespect for rule of law that comes from judicial activism.

It is highly probable that I have discussed the perversion of the Law -and remedies against said perversions- more in cyberspace than almost anyone who has sought to deal with this subject. Virtually all commentators are critics and I see that as something that anyone can do. By contrast, it takes genuine effort to be both critical and also proactive. I believe you have sought to do this but are nonetheless mistaken in your approach to the subject of marriage in civilization.

The redefinition of the institution of marriage is not a mere symptom of a larger issue as I see it; instead it is the root and matrix of every culture if you will. For the institution of marriage is the cornerstone of all civilization. Furthermore, marriage embodies explicitly within itself all fundamental rights of man. And history unambiguously bears witness to the fact that the existence of the civilization that succeeds in undermining that central societal structure will be extinguished. Without a shadow of doubt.

As we know, one of the primary (if not the primary) purposes of law is to safeguard the sanctity of life.

Life is but *one* of the fundamental God-given rights of man. In a nutshell the three are life, faculties, and production. These three rights precede all legislation and all properly formed legislation must safeguard these three rights. Furthermore, these rights cannot stand independent of one another. Indeed when one is trampled upon, the others are as well -like breaking one leg off of a three-legged stool. The subject of marriage directly involves not one of these fundamental rights but definitely two of them and arguably all three. It is also the bedrock of all civilizations and history shows us that as it goes, so goes civilization.

No civilization can continue to exist without a stable rule of law.

No civilization can continue to exist without (i) preservation and promotion of the institution of marriage which is the bedrock foundation of all civilization and (ii) a proper understanding of the role of law in society in its protection of the three fundamental rights of man.

The idea of imposing ideas down people's throats that the majority are opposed to, through high priests in black robes in the courts, sets a very dangerous precedent, and allows no rule of law.

This is a perversion of law certainly.

Those who oppose these programs could just as easily in the future use the courts for their own ends, the same way the liberals use them nowadays.


I took a lot of heat on this issue from friends before when I called Justice Roy Moore a "Conservative judicial activist" who flagrantly violated the rule of law to suit his own purposes. Those who censured Moore, the majority agreed with his premise about the 10 commandments.


The only problem was Moore refused to play by the rule of law, purposely delayed submitting his briefs, forcing a showdown in the public eye, that I honestly believe did no good for us. Many don't realize before prosecuting Moore, Attorney General Pryor had offered to argue Moore's case in the court system. We must beware of such actions on all sides of the fence.

I believe we can extend some leeway to Justice Moore if he is a non-Catholic (as I believe he is) since the principle of "the end does not justify the means" is usually not common to the religious traditions of non-Catholics. He violated that maxim as much as the mayors of these cities who are violating the rule of law in issuing pseudo "marriages" are doing. Those mayors should at the very least be treated as Justice Moore has been but of course that will not happen. (Due to an obvious double-standard employed by the media elites.)

Back to the issue at hand. Most conservatives are rightly opposing these social issues, yet ignoring the cause behind them. Abortion was forced on a nation where the majority opposed it. They were fed lies, and the courts were used by the liberals to achieve what they could not achieve elsewhere. The role of the Supreme Court was never to make laws, but to interpret them. Yet even prominent liberal Constitutional scholars such as Dershowitz admit this wasn't the case with Roe vs. Wade.

True. However, as I noted in a weblog post last year on the subject of language control{2}:

[A]ll forms of engineering - be it social, philosophical, theological, political, medical, scientific, legal, or otherwise is preceded by verbal engineering.

Among the verbal engineering which preceded Roe v. Wade was the attempts to redefine the meaning of terms such as "rights", "life" and "free speech." These were spun against the backdrop of a largely fictionalized accounting of civil rights as part of the agenda being promoted. But this is not only something which played out in the political/social arena.

For you see, the same situation happened in the Church with regards to subjects such as usury and slavery amongst many so-called "progressivists" much as subjects such as "ecumenism" and "religious liberty" have been treated by many so-called "traditionalists."

For of these extremes, they each use certain issues as "talking points" to attempt to justify disobedience to the Church's teaching or current disciplines based on the false notions that (i) teaching was in "error" in the past (or present) on said points and (ii) teaching having presumably changed on said points in the past means that it is defacto changeable in the future. (And as a result there is no reason to give proper obedience to what they do not like in the present.)

These are the same tactics used by the liberal political dissidents. And the idea that an authority cannot command obedience even when said authority is (possibly) in error underlies this approach to issues.

Likewise, in the gay marriage issue, the courts have been the one to force this upon the will of the people, violating again the rule of law. Conservatives are losing the battle by failing to demonstrate that the activists are looking to change the definition, not apply the definition.

Conservatives are losing the battle because they are not viewing the three fundamental rights of man as the seamless garment issues that they are -if they even recognize them explicitly at all. Nor for that matter do they place enough of an emphasis on the notions of public order and common good which must accompany any legitimate approach to issues. (And must trump any individuals opinions in the event of a contradiction.)

So while I agree with you that the "abortion or bust approach" doesn't really work, I think I'm taking it a step further than you are Shawn, at least in this regard. (I'm guessing me and you will be in general agreement on this.)

I think we are in general agreement but not in particulars. As I see it, your premise is that it all rests on respect for authority viz. the rule of law. I see this as only part of the equation.{3} I take the subject beyond this to the most fundamental of human rights given to us by God: rights which precede all man made laws and to which all laws were originally framed to protect.

Indeed if anything I have not blogged on these themes enough{4} but my reasons for refraining to the extent I have (time constraints excepted of course) is to avoid appearing to try and ram an agenda down people's throats. I get annoyed when others do that to me so I have to be careful and strive to persuade without being too overbearing. It is not an easy balancing act by any stretch I assure you.

We must also realize that no government survives in socialism, something the Democrats are rapidly promoting.

Socialism inexorably dissolves into Communism over time.

The fact that properly defined, there are striking similarities between the political ideologies of Hitler and that of many prominent Democrats many don't realize. Hitler was a socialist, and the best thing the left did was cover this fact up, and make people think Hitler represented the "far right."

Correct. Fascism is a slightly less totalitarian philosophy than Communism. It is heavily rooted in socialism -indeed Nazi was an amalgam for the National Socialist German Worker's Party. The extreme of communism on the "right" is anarchy: and the US Constitution was framed slightly to the "left" of anarchy. (To utilize the common faulty "left" and "right" terminology.)

Since the majority of liberals are showing utter contempt for the rule of law, they must figure out something to be in place of that rule of law, and their choice is socialism. (A side note, the main reason conservatives are losing the culture war is because we have no alternative to it. Though perhaps this is the case because sadly, the individualism of Protestantism limits it's cultural and social aspects.)

I and others have enunciated workable alternatives to the socialist juggernaut for years. The problem is, people accept as true a lot of "facts" which are in reality not true. When paradigms are built on shifty foundations and the prism to which things are viewed is altered, it alters all things.

I could write a book of thousands of pages on many such examples that are accepted as true which are not. But it is beyond the scope of this response to delve into that. As far as Protestantism goes, it has a definite weakness in the area of an overemphasis on individualism over and against the collective or common good. By contrast, Catholic social theory improperly utilized can have a weakness of overemphasis on the common good or the collective majority to the detriment of legitimate individualist or smaller group aspirations.

A properly balanced outlook should respect both individualism and collective elements: individualism insofar as it does not do injustice to the public order of a society (or its common good). And of course the common good insofar as individuals should not be forced in areas which are not necessary for the maintenance of public order and society's common good to have to conform their outlooks to the views of others.

This is not an easy balancing act to do -indeed mankind is to some extent destined to fail at it. Therefore, concessions to weakness or vice are necessary to be made. However, these cannot undermine the public order or the common good of society.{5}

While many are attacking the symptoms of the problem, I prefer to attack the source of the problem, a degrading of the rule of law, and a slow advancement towards socialism by the leaders of the Democrats today.

It is not just the Democrats who are guilty of perverting the concept of law in a just society Kevin. For the Republicans are also guilty though not to the same extent. Nonetheless, we cannot let them have a "get out of jail" card since they give credence to a lot of the foundational premises from which the Democrats illogically posit their rhetorical trajectories from: foundational premises which are themselves grounded in a perverse understanding of the proper role of law in a just society.

With regards to your prescription for society's ills, I see it as attacking one of the heads of the hydra headed monster much as I see Pete's approach doing. If you recall, in Greek Mythology the hydra was only killed when stabbed through the heart. Likewise, the problems of society will not be corrected with lopping off the heads of "abortion", "contraception", "improper usage of the death penalty", "respect for the rule of law", "secularism", etc. off the body of the beast. All of these while important are not at the heart of the beast: they are symptoms or "heads" which draw their nourishment from the heart or from certain foundational paradigmatic principles.

I have reiterated for years -either through implication or explication- that an integrated approach is needed that seeks to uphold the three fundamental rights of man as well as recognizing (i) the importance of the concept of public order of society (ii) the concept of the common good of society, and also (iii) the importance of obedience to one's superiors -be they ecclesiastical or temporal- will truly get to the heart of the problems of our society. I suppose that (iv) proper definitions of terms such as "right" and "free speech" are also of assistance.{6} Indeed, We at Rerum Novarum have gone over all of these aspects in sundry times and in divers manners.

It could also be noted that religious morality has a role here too but more obliquely than is commonly recognized.{7} In a nutshell: that is how I see approaching these issues. I do not believe that the end that I have differs from what you and Pete have, only the means. And I believe that my means for achieving that end are more integral and stand on firmer foundations than those advanced by you, Pete, Professor Miller, and several others -with all due respect to you all.

I will note in closing that it is not a mere coincidence that my approach to ecclesiastical matters parallel very closely with how I approach political and social issues. By contrast, I am not sure the same is the case for most others who strive to commentate on both of these spheres of subject matter. Nonetheless, I am hardly above being persuaded otherwise if someone feels inclined to want to do this.


{1} Including many prominent Catholic evangelists but I will not note them here out of a desire to avoid namedropping.

{2} On the Underlying Weltanschauung of "Language Control"

{3} Though the lack of a proper notion of obedience is no minor bagatelle by any means.

{4} A large number of the threads on these themes up to late October 2003 are connected to this post. Since that time other threads have of course been added but the above is a good summary thread of the first fourteen months of Rerum Novarum on subjects pertaining to that subject line. (A series of threads which include about twenty pertaining to Claude Frederic Bastiat's magnum opus The Law: the definitive treatment on the subject of the proper role for law in a just society. The expositions of this writer draw heavily on that source.)

{5} An example of a concession that undermines the public order and the common good of a society would be homosexual so-called "marriages." By contrast, an example of a "concession to weakness or vice" would be something along the lines of prostitution in a culture that did not hold prostitution up as some noble aspiration or in anyway as legitimate as the institution of marriage.

{6} But not as much as the first three since they set the ground rules for how the latter terms would be properly defined.

{7} This weblog writer's goal has been to formulate principles that those of faith and who are not of faith could grasp and utilize if they are of good will. This has a dual benefit since it does not ask those of faith to set aside their faith and does not demand of those without faith to obtain faith.

Essentially, with this methodology, those who already adhere to religious moral principles can supplement their positions with these arguments. Likewise, those that do not have faith or religious convictions have a common foundation of reason and logic from which they can approach these issues with those who are of faith.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

On Theological and Liturgical Ressourcement, 'Traditionalist' Schools of Thought, Abortion, and Other Subjects With Kevin Tierney and Pete Vere:
(Plus musings from your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The words of the other two persons in this discussion (Kevin Tierney and Pete Vere) will be in black font and in blue font respectively. This is essentially a response to Pete's response to Kevin though this response does include some material from Kevin's well-thought-out email to Pete and this writer that Pete did not respond to. Any sources cited by this writer will be in darkgreen font.

Mr. Vere,

I hope this letter finds you in good spirits. I'd like to commend you for your one article on CIEL and Adoremus. While I myself do not subscribe to the "Reform of the Reform"...

Hello Kevin and Pete:

Though this writer appreciates greatly the work of Adoremus -and even links to them at this humble weblog, at the same time that is not to imply support of a "reform of the reform" concept. Essentially the view of this humble weblog is much more ressourcement oriented and seeking of a renewal through two means:

---Purifying the streams of what is not sanctioned by the Holy See by distinguishing what is and is not permissible.

---As a result of the first point, proceeding to recommend implementable solutions to problems that take into account present realities.

As a result, such proposals as are made at this weblog generally speaking are (i) pastorally expedient (ii) take into account situations as they are rather than as We wish they were and (iii) are as much as possible drawn from the wellstream of the whole of the Great Tradition rather than one small inlet of that wellstream.{1}

This does not necessarily mean that what We recommend is the *only* solution to the problems noted of course. However, this writer has at all times the view of doing what can be done to aid in the restoration of Christian Unity not as an abstract idea but as a reality to be achieved.{2} This is the prism to which this writer has long viewed the Indult or other attempts to call those who refer to themselves as "traditionalists" to involvement in this venture.

The long and short of it is the following principle: to the extent that the Indult has the Holy Father's concurrence it also has the concurrence of this writer. Being caught as he is between the west and the east -as his ancestry is both Latin Catholicism and also Ukrainian Catholic/Ukrainian Orthodox- this writer's view of the streams from which to draw is much broader than most Catholics. This is also why Rerum Novarum has not and never will give voice to the prevarication that "catholicity means uniformity" because it is not true not and it never has been -Counter-reformational pretentions on the matter notwithstanding.

Of course in such proposals as are advanced here are also ideas for correcting intra-church difficulties as well. This is why for example We have recommended as of late replacing the current manner of administrating communion in the Latin rite with intincture and have further mused on how this proposal jells with the common good of all the Churches.

There is a lot of majoring in minors by far too many people. The interest in this weblog is ressourcement not apologetical propaganda. That can mean at times saying things that will appear to be contrary to "the cause" -something that in those of a more propagandistic mindset view as anathema. But then again, We make no pretentions at promoting polemical propaganda here so if that is what the reader is looking for, they are advised to look elsewhere.

[While I myself do not subscribe to the "Reform of the Reform"] I think you[r] article poses some interesting questions Traditionalists need to think about.

What you mean to say is that these are questions AMERICAN traditionalists need to think about.

Precisely Pete. There is a lot more to the multifaceted movement called "Traditionalism" than simply the American aspects.

Shawn Tribe (a Canuck), myself (a Quebequois), Luc Gagnon (a Quebequois), Loic Merian (French and founder of CIEL), Fr. Paul Aulagnier (French and co-founder of the SSPX with the Archbishop), Fr. Arnaud Devillers (French and FSSP Superior General), Dom Basile Valuet (French and Le Barroux's head theologian) as well as Abbe Gerard de Servigny (FSSP France's head theologian) are all traditionalists who have pondered these questions for years. I could make a similar list for American conservatives.

Indeed though of course this writer would hesitate to be categorized as a "conservative" for reasons already noted before and reiterated not long ago. And most of the above are examples of the very sorts of people which The Lidless Eye Inquisition in no way takes issue with because it is beyond the scope of that weblog's purpose.{3}

In a nutshell, here's the problem. While we French moderate trads are very open to discussion and academic dialogue, French conservatives tend to have a ghetto mentality in which they prefer division and polemic. In America, the situation is reversed -- most American conservatives are pretty open to discussion and academic dialogue with their traditionalist counterparts, however, it is the trads in America who wish to maintain the polemic and a ghetto mentality.

Most of the time yes, the latter is certainly as a rule true. But of course all rules admit of exceptions. Pete, you surely know a number of trads who are not interested in the polemic. They might know a few of the "talking points" at best -if they know any of them at all- but they do not push them if they know them. Indeed they are instead simply doing what they do for their own reasons which can be varied. One cannot be in traditionalist circles and not run into these kinds of people -indeed even possibly have them in their families sometimes.

Ergo, I've long advocated that we do a switch. Namely, we set up French conservatives with American traditionalists, and allow them to battle for supreme obstiancy. I could care less who wins, I'm simply happy that this would mean them going off into a corner and leaving the rest of us alone.


We moderate French trads and our American conservative counterparts could then continue our dialog, which has born much good fruit in the past, uninterupted by the obstinacy of French conservatives and American traditionalists.

It has borne very good fruit. Indeed, though Kevin may find this difficult to believe, the primary purpose of The Lidless Eye Inquisition is and always has been to serve as one facet of promoting authentic dialogue. Likewise, this writer's recent commentary on the intricacies of dialogue{4} serves the same purpose but on a more universal scope.

While many traditionalists oppose the Novus Ordo while believing it valid, Traditionalists need to realize that Catholics who attend the Novus Ordo are Catholics nonetheless.

A concept that is difficult to inculcate amongst them as long as terms such as "neo-catholic" and "traditionalist" are used: two very misleading terms for reasons too numerous to go over here.

They are faced with a liturgy where there are certain problems, and reform is needed.

This is true. However, the same situation presents itself with the liturgy celebrated by those who call themselves "traditionalists." The difference though is that the problems are not as easily preceived due to (i) the language barrier issue and (ii) the fact that most who utilize the older liturgy tend to now not take it for granted and thus generally celebrate it with proper reverence. Nonetheless, this liturgy as well has its problems as this writer has outlined in not a few articles over the years.{5}

If that reform helps them in worshipping God, and bringing them to a stronger representation of the Catholic faith, then this matter should by all means be applauded.

Agreed. This writer has proposed some areas of reform for the older liturgy to serve the same purpose.{6}

It's something I lament amongst Traditionalism, that while our ultimate goal for anything we do is for the salvation of souls...

Of course the implied position oftentimes is that those who do not align themselves with those who call themselves "traditionalists" do not have the same modus opperandi in mind. (Though to Kevin's credit he does not appear to endorse this position at all.)

...we don't realize the big picture, and that there are numerous issues that one must look at, to help those who are looking for true reform in the obedience to the Holy Father.

There are a lot of details to the big picture this is true.

While I didn't agree with all of what you wrote in that article, the fact you are willing to raise these questions, and put this issue on the table so to speak for "liturgy buffs" is very commendable.


Next onto your commentary of "Aside from Abortion." While abortion is certainly the most important issue, the Democrats (such as Dean and John Kerry), and the liberals in Canada your colleague John Pacheco battles with, fail in numerous areas of Catholic doctrine apart from the issue of abortion.

This is true certainly.

This piece must be read in the context of an on-going political debate taking place in blogosphere. It was simply a rhetorical device to show that abortion trumps all other life issues. However, in the on-going debate, it was quickly followed up by another blog entry entitled "Not Just Abortion", which you can read here.

In the view of this present writer, the only life issue that trumps abortion is the one that preserves the cornerstone of civilization. Essentially the preservation of civilization trumps abortion but the latter -as the killing of life that it is- contributes to a decline in the preservation of civilization. Likewise abortion trumps artificial contraception but the latter contributes to a decline in the respect for life and thus could arguably be said to pave the way for abortion.

And of course artificial contraception trumps the death penalty improperly utilized. However, the latter as it also cheapens life paves the way for the cheapening of life in other ways -such as rampant artificial contraceptive practices, abortion, etc. But as this writer has noted a worse problem than abortion and done so obliquely, he will clarify it explicitly: same sex so-called "marriage" is worse than abortion.

The reason this is said is that marriage is the cornerstone of any and all civilization. And while abortion and artificial contraception demean marriage, redefining marriage would be the stake through the heart of civilization. History bears this out everytime that unique institution is undermined or brought down to the level of others as a kind of "one option among many of presumably equal worth."

For society must have high moral standards which must remain as goals to be reached. We may fall short of them -indeed many of us often do. However, the solution is not to lower the standard to justify our failings. Instead, we are to work to improve ourselves to better attain to the high moral standards that any civilization interested in its own authentic betterment must promote.

Anyway, this writer is not sure that Pete and he agree on the rankings of these problems but what cinched it for this writer in voting for Bush was the stance of the latter on marriage. Indeed prior to that point, We at Rerum Novarum had planned to write a confutation of the arguments set forth by Professor Miller on the "abortion trumps all life issues" principle. (One which Pete appears to endorse.) But that idea for reasons that were noted on this weblog{7} has been indefinitely suspended.

Contraception in its varying artificial forms is evil; nonetheless societies have survived it throughout history. (Albeit not without varying degrees of damage.) Likewise, abortion is evil but again: societies have throughout history survived it -though again not without varying degrees of damage. But redefining or undermining marriage as the cornerstone of civilization has always (and will always) result in that civilization not only undergoing damage but also dying out. And it is for that reason that this writer disagrees with Pete and Professor Miller on the argument that abortion trumps all life issues.

In the view of this humble weblog, the defense of marriage trumps all *existence* issues. Period. And it is the thread around which both the issues of abortion and artificial contraception -and even improper uses of the death penalty- are all wound.


{1} This is the largest problem with the approach taken by many of those who call themselves "traditionalists": their view of the Church is heavily coloured by post-Trent polemic and anachronisms and the view that certain policies of that period are viewed incorrectly as "what the Church always did." This is the case in many subjects that could be noted - two of which are the liturgy and ecumenism.

{2} Christian Unity and the Role of Authority

{3} A possible exception to this rule among those Pete named would be Fr. Paul Aulagnier. However, due to current circumstances (Fr. Aulagnier's expulsion from the SSPX and his current contacts with the Vatican), this writer is predisposed as a rule to simply defer to Pete's public musings on this subject -which the latter does in an authentically ecumenical manner it must be noted.

{4} On the Intricacies of Dialogue - A Commentary

{5} The following three urls from this writer's treatise contra false "traditionalism" are three of the half-dozen or so treatments on the mass written in the pre-Rerum Novarum days:

A Macro Look at the Two Rites of Mass

A Micro Look at the Pauline Mass (Part I)

A Micro Look at the Pauline Mass (Part II)

Another piece originally written for the above project (but later cut out when the work was abridged) was eventually made into a short essay of its own which can be read here:

A Short Primer on the Mass

While other writings could be listed, there is more than enough documented above to keep any readers interested in liturgical intricacies busy for a while.

{6} Though many areas could be mentioned here, the following represents a few recommendations from this writer which were blogged over a year ago:

Reform of the Tridentine Missal (Part I)

Reform of the Tridentine Missal (Part II)

{7} On the 2004 Election

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Sunday, March 28, 2004

To compensate for three weeks of a non-updated archives, I added to the archives so they run through to May 16th at the moment on the main page. At the moment I am contemplating a recasting of the subject headings of the main page and where certain posts are categorized. The Controverted Subjects heading became a convenient category to throw in anything that did not have a precise fit in the various categorizations I have utilized since founding this weblog. Having given it a look over I counted 48 links in it and have determined that the update I planned to do today will need to be postponed until probably into April. Tending to the weblog categorizations has to take precedence now so that is what I will be doing in what little spare time the next few days I will have viz. work on this weblog goes.


Meditations on The Dark Night of the Soul:
(Aka "the Rerum Novarum 2004 Lenten Spiritual Instruction")

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE. To start from the beginning of this series, please go HERE. As things have been rather hectic around here, I apologize for being late in running the installment that was scheduled for Friday today.


Wherein is expounded the first line of the first stanza, and a beginning is made of the explanation of this dark night.

THIS night, which, as we say, is contemplation, produces in spiritual persons two kinds of darkness or purgation, corresponding to the two parts of man's nature--namely, the sensual and the spiritual. And thus the one night or purgation will be sensual, wherein the soul is purged according to sense, which is subdued to the spirit; and the other is a night or purgation which is spiritual, wherein the soul is purged and stripped according to the spirit, and subdued and made ready for the union of love with God.

The night of sense is common and comes to many: these are the beginners; and of this night we shall speak first. The night of the spirit is the portion of very few, and these are they that are already practised and proficient, of whom we shall treat hereafter.

The first purgation or night is bitter and terrible to sense, as we shall now show. The second bears no comparison with it, for it is horrible and awful to the spirit, as we shall show presently. Since the night of sense is first in order and comes first, we shall first of all say something about it briefly, since more is written of it, as of a thing that is more common; and we shall pass on to treat more fully of the spiritual night, since very little has been said of this, either in speech or in writing, and very little is known of it, even by experience.

Since, then, the conduct of these beginners upon the way of God is ignoble, and has much to do with their love of self and their own inclinations, as has been explained above, God desires to lead them farther. He seeks to bring them out of that ignoble kind of love to a higher degree of love for Him, to free them from the ignoble exercises of sense and meditation (wherewith, as we have said, they go seeking God so unworthily and in so many ways that are unbefitting), and to lead them to a kind of spiritual exercise wherein they can commune with Him more abundantly and are freed more completely from imperfections.

For they have now had practice for some time in the way of virtue and have persevered in meditation and prayer, whereby, through the sweetness and pleasure that they have found therein, they have lost their love of the things of the world and have gained some degree of spiritual strength in God; this has enabled them to some extent to refrain from creature desires, so that for God's sake they are now able to suffer a light burden and a little aridity without turning back to a time which they found more pleasant.

When they are going about these spiritual exercises with the greatest delight and pleasure, and when they believe that the sun of Divine favour is shining most brightly upon them, God turns all this light of theirs into darkness, and shuts against them the door and the source of the sweet spiritual water which they were tasting in God whensoever and for as long as they desired. (For, as they were weak and tender, there was no door closed to them, as Saint John says in the Apocalypse, iii, 8).

And thus He leaves them so completely in the dark that they know not whither to go with their sensible imagination and meditation; for they cannot advance a step in meditation, as they were wont to do afore time, their inward senses being submerged in this night, and left with such dryness that not only do they experience no pleasure and consolation in the spiritual things and good exercises wherein they were wont to find their delights and pleasures, but instead, on the contrary, they find insipidity and bitterness in the said things.

For, as I have said, God now sees that they have grown a little, and are becoming strong enough to lay aside their swaddling clothes and be taken from the gentle breast; so He sets them down from His arms and teaches them to walk on their own feet; which they feel to be very strange, for everything seems to be going wrong with them.

To recollected persons this commonly happens sooner after their beginnings than to others, inasmuch as they are freer from occasions of backsliding, and their desires turn more quickly from the things of the world, which is necessary if they are to begin to enter this blessed night of sense. Ordinarily no great time passes after their beginnings before they begin to enter this night of sense; and the great majority of them do in fact enter it, for they will generally be seen to fall into these aridities.

With regard to this way of purgation of the senses, since it is so common, we might here adduce a great number of quotations from Divine Scripture, where many passages relating to it are continually found, particularly in the Psalms and the Prophets. However, I do not wish to spend time upon these, for he who knows not how to look for them there will find the common experience of this purgation to be sufficient.

To be Continued...