Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mass Videos/DVDs

Apologies to readers of York Forum, who already know this, but there are a number of new Mass DVDs available:

1. is offering a DVD of Bishop Rifan celebrating the ancient Ambrosian Rite Mass. They are accepting pre-orders now and will issue the DVDs when they reach critical mass.
2. The Rosary Confraternity has announced it is selling a video of the Solemn High Mass, Dominican rite.
3. Ecclesia Dei has video copies of the FSSP's Tradition: The Latin Mass with Gregorian Chant and The Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven.
4. Latin Mass Magazine has copies of the young Father Fulton J. Sheen's The Immemorial Tridentene Mass on DVD or video.
5. St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary (the SSPX seminary) has produced numerous videos of traditionalist Masses, including those of Holy Week, Vespers, and Ordinations. Also available: the Divine Office of the Roman Breviary on cassette tape or CD. (Listen to audio samples here.)
6. Additional Latin Mass DVDs here.
7. A two-volume set on the life of Pope John Paul II. Apparently, the second video is a celebration of the Latin Mass by a priest in California.
8. The sedevacantist organization known as MAETA offers a videotape of Fr. Patrick Perez celebrating the traditional Mass.
9. Finally, Our Lady of the Atonement RCC is selling a DVD of the Anglican Use Mass, such as it is (Rite 1 only).

If anyone has seen these, comments are welcome, particulary #5. (I've seen 3-4.)

For the record, I am in no way connected with these, nor do I receive any of the proceeds. (But I'd change that in a heartbeat, if they're offering.)

So, when will the WRV have its own DVD of the Liturgy of St. Gregory and the Liturgy of St. Tikhon?

Lutherans Confront the Church Triumphant

Fr. John Fenton, a catholic-minded Lutheran pastor, shared some thoughts on "Lutheran Hymns and Prayers to the Dead" instructive to his fellow Lutherans and all Protestants. The post concerns the hymns "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones" and "Oh, How Blest Are Ye Whose Toils Are Ended":

What's intriguing is found when I ask this question: "To whom are we speaking when we sing the words in these hymns?" For "Ye Watchers," the answer is that we are not addressing God at all. Rather, we are speaking to the angels (stanza 1); the Blessed Virgin Mary (stanza 2); the Old & New Testament saints (stanza 3); and then either the "friends" standing next to us or the "friends" who have preceded us in death (stanza 4). In either case, we're not speaking to any member of the Holy Trinity. Rather, in at least three if not four of the stanzas, we're speaking to "dead folks"--those who are alive in the Lord even though their years on earth have ended. And throughout the hymn, we are entreating or praying for them to reamain faithful in their prayers to the Holy Blessed Trinity. In "Oh, How Blest," we are likewise speaking to "dead folks"--in this case, those dear to us who have preceded us in death (i.e., the Faithful Departed) -- until we reach the final stanza.

"Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones" is one of my favorite "Protestant" hymns; verse two is a close paraphrase of a refrain from the Orthodox Church's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. (One of the comments also mentions "O Come All Ye Faithful," with its exhortation to "Sing all ye citizens in Heaven above.")

Fr. John has since posted a sermon on the topic. Meanwhile, Cheryl (another Lutheran) has two posts on the topic on her blog. In addition to Fr. John having thoughts worth pondering, I post these two to note how many liturgical Westerners are finding the building blocks of Western Orthodoxy.

Ancient Chinese Christianity: Further Vindication of Church Tradition

I wrote this in honor of the Epiphany season but didn't post it then. This is ancient relief archeologists recently discovered on Chinese tombs in the Jiangsu Province dating from the first-second century (25-220) A.D. The manger is central, with the Three Wise Men bearing gifts on the left, shepherds following them in adoration. The men kneeling on the right-hand side are would-be assassins dispatched by King Herod.

The discovery has reinvigorated academic investigation about ancient Christian contact with China. I love it when archeology and history catch up with Church tradition.

The Synaxarion of Orthodox Chinese Martyrs:

According to an oral tradition, Christianity reached China through the Apostle Thomas.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The introduction of Christianity into China has been ascribed not only to the
Apostle of India, St. Thomas, but also to St. Bartholomew. In the third century,
Arnobius, in "Adversus Gentes", speaks of the Seres, with the Persians and the
Medes, as among the nations reached by "that new power which has arisen from the
works done by the Lord and his Apostles."

A quotation from Greek writer George Alexandrou, author of He Raised the Cross on the Ice (about St. Andrew):

[W]e have many written traditions from the second and third centuries A.D. that the apostles went to Middle Asia, to sub-Saharan Africa, to India, even to old Burma. They went to the land of Sogdiana, which is modern Uzbekistan/modern China...
When asked if this was the same region as the discovery linked above, he replied:

No, those tombs are at the other end of China, but there was possibly a Chinese disciple of St. Thaddeus of the Seventy, whose name is St. Aggai in the Syriac tradition...His name in the Chinese sources may have been Wang-Hai -- the important thing here is that according to the sources he was a silk producer, and we know that no one could be a silk producer at that time unless he was Chinese. So, perhaps St. Aggai was the first Chinese disciple of an apostle of Christ...There are also traditions from the Yellow Sea, near Shanghai, of St. Thomas having been in China. This is not physically impossible.
For more on the modern church in China, here's a link to the Hong Kong Metropolitanate and the Orthodox Church of Taiwan.

Friday, February 10, 2006

New Blog Link

I'm proud to offer a link to the new blog Conversi ad Dominum. It's the journal of Fr. John Fenton, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Detroit. His insightful blog represents the spirit of what the early Lutherans were trying to do: reform Roman Catholicism into the church of its forefathers. Enjoy his thoughts (some of which I will rip-off, err, share in this blog).

(Hat tip: Weedon's blog.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Canadian Anglicanism, RIP

The stats are in, and the Anglican Church of Canada -- a communion to the Left of ECUSA -- is in precipitous decline:
Between 1961 and 2001 the Anglican Church of Canada, the Canadian branch of the worldwide Anglican community, lost 53 percent of its members, from 1.36 million to 642,000. However, the report also ominously stated that the decline is accelerating. While membership dropped 13 percent between 1981 and 1991, it fell 20 percent between 1991 and 2001.
But their dear archbishop says he gets it: "Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchison told The Church of England Newspaper that although the report was a 'wake-up call,' he hoped a new emphasis on social justice and ecumenical cooperation would stem the decline."

When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail....

Anglicans in Canada may find this link of interest.

Lessons on Persistence, from the Canaanite Woman

Fr. George Morelli, a member of the Western Rite Commission, has an inspiring sermon on a little-understood Gospel story: The story of the Canaanite (Syro-Phoenician) Woman (St. Matt. 15). In this Gospel, Jesus calls a Canaanite woman pleading for her daughter a dog, then tells her He is "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." The Fathers all agree Christ always intended to heal the woman's daughter -- and call the woman to faith in Him -- but He knew her humility, and He wanted all generations to revere and imitate her. Fr. George writes:

The Canaanite woman had to have been aware that Jesus was telling her that Jews considered her to be contemptible. But this did not stop her. She acknowledged Him as "Son of David." She was persistent and did not let obstacles [and] the insults of others stop her...Both Zacchaeus and the Canaanite woman share something in common: they are tough and resilient, and take responsibility to overcome barriers. Resilience is a psychological process of adaptation in the face of obstacles, trauma, tragedy and stress that is related to good emotional and physical health.
This message is particularly important to those in the Western Rite, who face misunderstandings and occasional hostility from misguided Byzantines. "Ugly Orthodox" tell us: "East-good; West-bad." Knowing the Orthodox Church is the Ark of Salvation, we must continue knocking until the Church rediscovers the forgotten "west wing" long dormant in Her mansion. Like this Canaanite woman, Western Christians cannot get discouraged and cannot take no for an answer.
(Hat tip: OrthodoxyToday.)


Fr. Alexander Turner - "A Note on Vocations"

Fr. Alexander Turner, SSB.

Here's another message I posted a few days ago but got erased:

Fr. Matthew Thurman has posted a Fr. Alexander Turner's essay "A Note on Vocations": Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Fr. Turner published this essay in the Summer 1959 issue of his journal, Orthodoxy, while he was part of the Society of St. Basil. The SSB was soon accepted into the Antiochian Orthodox Church and became its Western Rite, with Fr. Turner its first Vicar-General.

I found this quotation from Part 2 particularly worthwhile:

The Church is not an activity or an interest. It is a new life in Christ of which the priest is the elect vessel. And unworthy as he inevitably will be, he may not relax his effort or indulge his personal fancies or seek glory from it...

No throngs of eager converts await the magic of his words. No successful parishes have openings for him. No souls will be transformed automatically by the fact of his ordination...Tribulations of a different kind beset the American Orthodox missionary. They are subtler, prosaic, protracted. Often he must work in solitude for years with undeviating loyalty to his calling. Those who wire a building may not live to see the lights turned on. And in the new building which is America, those who feel called...can expect no glory, reward or fun. For they build for a future which they may not see.

The WRV priest must truly have the discipline of an athlete to resist the misunderstandings of misguided Byzantines, who tell him he's not "really" Orthodox, and the enticements of heterodox clerics, who preside over well-established parishes with endowments. We have unfortuantely experienced those who have sworn to trod the path of the Western Rite Vicariate, only to decide the trail to Byzantium was easier with a larger pot of gold at the end. Rather than follow their calling to a Byzantine parish, they have tried to force their change of heart on their WRV parishoners. In the process, they have scandalized the faithful and discredited the Orthodox faith, dissuading an unknown number of potential converts and causing some in the Church's bosom to apostasize. The priest does not represent himself but the Orthodox Church and, in his ordained capacity in persona Christi, the divine Lord Himself. If his words are untrustworthy, he casts doubt upon all of these. The blame for the damage done to the souls in his care, though, will not be distributed amongst them; it is his eternal burden to have offended one of these little ones. (And all Christians have "become as one of these little ones.")

I believe Western Rite Orthodoxy presents the Church's most promising missionary outreach to the West. "The New Faithful" have become fascinated with the Church. Many have discovered the works of Bp. Kallistos Ware and the beauty of iconography. However, they listen to Gregorian chant, pray Western hours, and appreciate Celtic spirituality (real or imagined). Currently, would-be converts must choose between the Orthodoxy they read about in books and the Western spirituality they can experience. In practice, this often comes down to an unwelcoming Byzantine parish and a barely theistic Episcopalianism. The Church has approved a rite where these would-be converts can truly be themselves. Many are longing for it, whether they know it or not. Infidelity to rite will deprive many of them a home in the Church -- and the priest a goodly number of devout souls.

However, the WRV priest, likely as not, may continue all his life tilling a small plot in the Lord's vineyard. That is his extraordinary privilege. Better to have a few who bring forth an hundred-fold than many barren roots. The results will not be apparent to him until the next world, where they will adorn him forever. However, he must remain true to his calling of stability to realize any of them.*

On another topic, for logophiles such as myself, Fr. Turner coined a term in Part 2:
ecclesiastitis, a sentimental attachment to the externals of the Church, a love of costumes, ceremonies and priestcraft which subconsciously amalgamate with a greeting-card spirituality to simulate a vocation.

There is no dearth of these today anymore than in Fr. Turner's day. Today's set are also particularly given to an interest in fanciful liturgical rites and dubious histories of the West. Thankfully, the Church has typically protected Herself against such and will continue to do so.

* - I wrote this spontaneously last week, and I can't remember a single sentence I wrote at the time. I merely remember the ghost of an impression that the older version was much better than this one. The one that got away...That would have raised the number of good posts on this blog to, one.

New Link

I've added a new link under "Orthodox Blogs" to Huw Raphael. In the past, I've linked a number of fascinating discussions on his blog. (I posted that link on Saturday, but technical difficulties erased the link and the post annoucing it.)

BTW, for those concerned: Huw takes a balanced view to Orthodoxy, which I find compatible with my own. However, he also expresses his political views on his blog, some of which I agree with, some not. If you cannot possibly handle reading anything that might conceivably offend you, you might look elsewhere.

Incidentally, why is every pro-Western Rite who attends a Byzantine parish also a pro-Confederate paleocon? :)

Technical Difficulties

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you; due to technical difficulties, some of my posts have shown up momentarily, only to be erased through the wonders of the internet. Since I haven't heard from any of the techies about this yet, I guess I'll just repost them as I am able. My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience.