Friday, August 29, 2008

Just one question

This post represents Melancholicus’ sole foray into the current international contretemps involving Russia, Georgia, the United States, the EU, NATO, and sundry other players great and small.

Now that Russia has officially recognised the ‘independence’ of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he wishes to ask those who are so horrified by this violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia why they were not equally appalled by the violation of the territorial integrity of Serbia back in February.

For the same persons who in February were falling over themselves in their haste to recognise the ‘independence’ of the breakaway province of Kosovo are those who today are shrillest in their defence of the territorial integrity of Georgia.

Is there not a double standard here, with principles upheld in the one instance but sacrificed to grubby political expediency in the other?

Whereafter Melancholicus shall say no more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Photoshopped or not?

In any case, the irony is delicious.

You’re making our point exactly, Abdul.

H/T to Andrew.

Joee Blogs

Melancholicus has just found another link to Infelix Ego. That’s two in the space of a week, so he’s feeling fairly chuffed. And as usual, he wishes to repay the favour.

So go on over and pay Joee a visit, y’all.

Some more lexical fun

If we can describe the feminine of a contraceptor as a contraceptrix, on the analogy of mediator/mediatrix (as in Our Lady’s title Mediatrix of all graces), let’s see what else we can come up with in this fashion.

As it turns out, novus ordo religion provides us with plenty of scope to make new feminine forms of existing ecclesiastical offices and liturgical roles. For instance:

The one who reads the lessons: m. lector, f. lectrix

The personage who leads the singing: m. cantor, f. cantrix

The unconsecrated hands that distribute holy communion: m. extraordinary minister, f. extraordinary ministrix

The ‘presider’: m. presbyter, f. presbytrix (in the case of the stealth priestesses now alarmingly common in some dioceses, or of so-called “Pastoral Associates”, the majority of whom are women).

Although this liturgical role does not exist in Ireland, Melancholicus’ recent foray into the God-forsaken wilderness that is the archdiocese of Seattle has introduced him to the phenomenon of the usher. Now what would the feminine version of this be? As it does not end in -tor it could hardly have a -trix ending. I suppose something as pedestrian as usheress or usherette would have to serve instead. I’m sure at least one of those must be a real word.

The feminine version of an altar server is of course a serviette or, as Melancholicus was once amused to learn, a girl altar boy.

Any more suggestions?

Monday, August 25, 2008

A new entry for the dictionary

An interesting piece of trivia.

con·tra·cep·trix /ˌkɒntrəˈsɛptrɪks/ [kon-truh-sep-triks]

–noun, f.
1. a female person who approves of the use of devices or methods serving to inhibit conception or impregnation.
2. one who uses such devices or methods herself for the purpose of inhibiting conception or impregnation.
3. a female opponent of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on contraception, esp. such teaching contained in the 1968 encyclical letter Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI.

[Origin: the blogger Melancholicus at Infelix Ego, 2008; from contracept + fem. Lat. ending -trix]

In a recent post related to Humanae Vitae, Melancholicus referred to Mrs. Cherie Blair, wife of the former British prime minister, as a ‘contraceptrix’ owing to her opposition to the teaching of the Church despite the fact that she claims to be a Catholic.

For unrelated reasons Melancholicus subsequently googled the term and found to his immense surprise—and satisfaction—that Infelix Ego is the only page on the entire internet on which this term occurs.

Therefore he must have coined it himself!

At the time of this writing he is still the only known user of the word ‘contraceptrix’, but he graciously extends full permission to all of his readers and referrers to use the term themselves in their discourse, both in speech and in writing, and especially on their blogs. Let’s see if we can get it into the dictionary!

If anyone wishes to suggest additions or amendments to the definitions proposed above, I’m all ears.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cardinal Newman slandered by the BBC

Slander is always an evil thing, but how much more so to slander one who is dead and hence unable either to defend himself or to exact redress for the harm done to his reputation.

Melancholicus usually has his alarm set for 7am on Sunday mornings, a habit which has survived from the time when he used to attend the earliest (8am) Novus Ordo Mass offered in the local parish. This entailed waking up every Sunday morning to the BBC’s Sunday programme—most assuredly not the best way to begin obervance of Dies Dominica since hearing the first few minutes of this programme (extremely woolly at best and misleadingly tendentious at worst) would always send him off to Mass in rather ill humour and desiring to hit someone. Hard.

Melancholicus no longer goes to the local Novus Ordo (for reasons explained below) but still wakes on Sunday morning at 7am, whereat he lies abed exposed to the entire length of the Sunday programme unless sleep should mercifully reclaim him into blissful unconsciousness.

But this weekend Melancholicus failed to set his alarm, so he missed the Sunday programme completely. He was happy enough about that until, later in the day, he read the evil news—O horrible to relate!—over at Mulier Fortis.

Since he has a devotion to Cardinal Newman, and will be marrying his bride next year in Cardinal Newman’s Dublin church, Melancholicus was—to say the very least—wroth.

So Melancholicus went to the Radio 4 website to listen in on the offending article which, after promising an interview with the ridiculous former bishop of Edinburgh, coverage of the marital union between a Hindoo and an Anglican vicar (whether of the same or opposite sexes Melancholicus cannot tell), then a Mahometan who refused to sign a contract saying he would not take a further wife (or two, or three!), introduced the matter of Cardinal Newman with the words

“Is the Roman Catholic Church trying to cover up the homosexuality of Cardinal John Henry Newman, now on the fast track to sainthood?”

“The homosexuality of Cardinal John Henry Newman”?? Notice this slur on Newman’s character—for which there exists not a tittle of evidence—is taken for granted by the BBC, as though it were a matter of hard fact. And what about the flippant “fast track to sainthood”? Newman has been dead since 1890. His cause has been in preparation for a long time; “fast track” it most certainly is not.

That’s about the level of this programme. Ill-researched, sensationalist, tabloid pap, whose editors (Roger Bolton, Jane Little and the egregious Edward Stourton) seem unable (or unwilling?) to report accurately on the facts in a manner which sifts fact from fiction and to reassure the listener that the BBC is an unbiased and impartial news service after all.

Melancholicus is most exasperated, not with the screaming Peter Tatchell, who is so fixated with his vice that he sees it everywhere and cannot be expected to know any better, but with the editor who chose this hysterical freak as a credible guest on the programme.

But for an organisation which is devoted to proselytism on behalf of buggery and sodomitical weddings, and which regards the likes of Hans Küng and Lavinia Byrne as respected ‘Catholic’ theologians, these kind of propaganda slurs are not surprising, are they?

What's wrong with this picture?

proper nuns doing proper nunly thingsWith each fresh outrage, one always thinks one has seen the very worst that the conciliar church can throw at our holy Catholic faith. But, as inevitably as day follows night, there is always some new pathology capable of plumbing still deeper depths just waiting around the corner.

This story may not be either as wacky or as sacrilegious as the Dutch Dominicans with their priestless “Masses” celebrated by non-ordained practicing homosexuals of either sex, but it is nonetheless equally conciliar in its inspiration, and hence offensive to the piety of the faithful.

From Yahoo! News:

Poster nuns to vie for 'Miss Sister Italy' title

ROME (AFP) - The first beauty pageant for nuns debuts next month with the advent of "Miss Sister Italy," aimed at erasing a stereotype of nuns as being old and sad, a newspaper reported Sunday.

"Nuns are above all women and beauty is a gift from God," priest Antonio Rungi of the southern Italian diocese of Modragone told the daily Corriere della Sera [Melancholicus wonders what Fr. Rungi's bishop thinks of this nonsense].

"This contest will be a way to show there isn't just the beauty we see on television but also a more discrete charm," he added [perhaps Fr. Rungi is here referring to interior beauty, i.e. beauty of the soul, or such beauty as would be pleasing to God who looks at the heart and not at the outward seeming. But such beauty is not readily apparent to the gaze of the human viewer, nor is it revealed by glamour photography either. So what is the point?].

Nuns wishing to participate in the contest should send their picture to Rungi, who will publish it on his blog [Melancholicus fears for the state of the vocation of any female religious thoughtless or reckless enough to participate in this mockery]. Internet surfers can then vote for their favorite nun online [based, of course, on her physical attractiveness. Regardless of what Rungi may say or believe about "discrete charm" (what is that, anyway?) he will find that most internet users actually prepared to cast a vote in this sacrilegious charade are conditioned to rate his nuns by the same criteria whereby they would rate their favourite FHM babes].

"You really think all nuns are old, stunted and sad? [what an outrageous insult to older religious women who have spent a life consecrated in service to God and who have faithfully observed their vows even amidst the devastation and the wreckage of the conciliar church. Does this man have even the slightest idea what he is saying?] This isn't the case any more, thanks to the arrival in our country of young and vital nuns," notably from Africa and Latin America, Father Rungi added [Here the foolish priest equates youth and vitality, as though they were synonymous. This is all of a piece with western secular culture, in which youth and beauty are exalted and age is disparaged. The man has no Catholic sense at all].

The idea of organising a beauty pageant had been pushed by the nuns themselves, he said, adding he expected roughly 1,000 candidates [Melancholicus wonders what kind of inverted, lop-sided view such women must have of their religious vocation, and what kind of rubbish they have been reading in their convents, if they are prepared to degrade themselves and their vows to this extent.].

"I hope the next (pageant) won't just take place online but that we can organise a real show that can take place during the Miss Italy contest," Rungi said [Holy God forfend. The spectacle of consecrated religious participating in this kind of thing would be to say the least embarrassing for the Church, even if it were not a sacrilege. If events such as "Miss Italy" and the like are, as is so often alleged, degrading to the dignity of women, how much more degrading must they be to the dignity of religious women?].

Talk about dragging the vocations of religious women through the mud, exhibiting these nuns to the public as though they were glamour models.

To put the most charitable possible interpretation on Rungi’s antics, we might surmise that what he is attempting to do here is to show that there are in fact young nuns, that the religious life is far from dead and that there are young, thriving orders with a plentiful supply of vocations.

But if such be the case, could he not have chosen some means of broadcasting the fact without stooping to such a tawdry and tacky stunt as this?

Melancholicus has been unable to locate this priest’s blog, but as he hardly expects it to be an upstanding model of Catholic orthodoxy, perhaps that is just as well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Famous last words

John Charles McQuaid CSSp, sometime archbishop of Dublin (1940-72) and iconic personification of pre-conciliar Irish Catholicism that the mavens of the New IrelandTM love to hate, was a father of the Second Vatican Council, having attended the council sessions which punctuated the latter years of his long archiepiscopate.

In more recent years, McQuaid became the subject of a tendentious biography (1999) written by our friend the egregious John Cooney, a biography which is by no means devoid of merit but is nonetheless marred by its author’s ultra-liberal partisan views.

McQuaid was one of those many orthodox prelates whose last years were troubled by the tension between their adherence to the Catholic faith and the obligation they believed they had to impose the nouveau regime of Vatican II upon their dioceses. McQuaid was clearly troubled by some of the more problematic new orientations inherent in the acts of the council, orientations which could be susceptible of an heterodox interpretation, and apparently felt the need to clarify the council’s continuity with sacred tradition. McQuaid would never have even contemplated engaging in any public criticism of the council—he could never have become an Irish version of fellow Holy Ghost Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, for instance. Nor would he have permitted criticism of the council to be published by his diocesan clergy. But the fact that he felt it incumbent upon himself to reassure the faithful that the Catholic Church was still the Catholic Church is truly remarkable in itself. Having returned to his archdiocese from the last session of the council in 1965, he declared to his flock in Dublin’s pro-cathedral that nothing had changed, adding that “nothing in this council will disturb the tranquility of your Christian lives”.

He couldn’t have been more wrong, could he?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Islamist plot against the Queen

Suspected Islamist Aabid Hussain KhanFrom The Telegraph:

Islamic terror cell 'may have been plotting to attack Queen'

A terror cell caught with details of bomb-making and suicide vests may have been plotting to attack the Queen and members of the Royal family, it can be disclosed.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:55PM BST 19 Aug 2008

The cell, which included Britain's youngest ever terrorist, arrested on his way home from his GCSE chemistry exam, was found with information about the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh along with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex and the Princess Royal.

Also on the list were Princess Michael of Kent, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and The Duke and Duchess of Kent.

Aabid Hussain Khan, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, had compiled pictures, maps and details of the opening hours of official residences from information available on the internet.

There were also details of London landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and the underground as well as the New York and Washington metros and a home-made video of the Washington Memorial and World Bank in the US.

A counter-terrorism source said: "They had details of explosives and poisons along with information about London landmarks and a computer folder on Royal residences. We would be foolish to rule out the fact that they may have been planning an attack."

Detective Chief Superintendent John Parkinson, Head of the Counter Terrorism Unit in Leeds, said the men posed a "very real threat".

He added: "Let there be no doubt, these are dangerous individuals. These men were not simply in possession of material which expressed extremist views. They were also in possession of material that was operationally useful to anyone wishing to carry out an act of violence or terrorism."

Khan, 23, was yesterday convicted of three counts of possessing articles for terrorism but the jury was not told he was part of a network of international terrorists in Europe and North America.

It can now be revealed that Khan was closely connected to the alleged leader of a group of men currently awaiting trial for plotting an attack.

Khan, using the name Ocean Blue, was also in regular contact with an aspiring suicide bomber in Edinburgh, Mohammed Atif Siddique.

He had also communicated regularly with three terrorists who ran websites for Al-Qaeda in Iraq from London and Kent.

Khan groomed Hammaad Munshi, then 15, the grandson of the head of a sharia court in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Munshi, who lived with his parents and four brothers, was carrying two small bags of ball bearings, a key component of a suicide vest, when he was arrested on his way home from Westborough High School in Dewsbury on the afternoon of June 2006.

He had been running his own website selling knives and Islamic flags and using the online identity Fidadee – meaning "to die for" - on the auction website ebay.

He also had hand-written notes on martyrdom and had created and circulated technical documents via email and secure web forums on how to make Napalm, how to make a detonator and the production of home made explosives.

Operation Praline, run by the Counter-Terrorism Unit in Leeds, was sparked when police, acting on intelligence, stopped Khan at Manchester airport as he returned from Pakistan.

Officers found two computer hard drives, DVDs, forged currency, false identification papers, handwritten notes and correspondence.

Mr Denison said the collection amounted to a "terrorist encyclopaedia or library that would have enabled him or others to carry out terrorist attacks here or abroad in a variety of ways, and thereby to further the cause that appeared to be his mission in life - the war on western values and anyone who was a non-believer in the Muslim faith."

Khan, an unemployed burger-bar worker, who used the email name Delboy and FoolsandHorses claimed he was selling Islamic streetware.

It took detectives some time to unravel all Khan's aliases and some of the conversations he held in internet chat rooms, which were found on the hard drives, were discovered too late for the trial.

Khan wrote to one recipient: "If you can find a big target and take it out, like a military base in the UK, then praise be to Allah.

"Our group is growing. We need to plan better and to adapt now a few more people are showing interest. We need to confirm and to encourage...I want to have a group of at least 12 if possible."

He reassured another correspondent who had told him: "I am not too sure about strapping a bomb to myself anymore."

He also talked of explosives, warning: "You need to take care to store them in low temperatures otherwise they can kill. They must not come into contact with fire, oil or detergent."

Another associate, Sultan Muhammed, 23, a postman from Bradford, fled to London with £1,265 in cash following Khan's arrest.

When police raided his house they found maps of the London Underground, Jerusalem and Manhattan and a book entitled Suicide Bombings.

"Perhaps one of the most chilling videos was one that provided a step-by-step guide as to how to make a suicide bomber's vest, using ball bearings as shrapnel and demonstrating the effects of such a bomb," Mr Denison said.

Muhammed was found guilty of three charges of possessing articles useful for terrorism and another charge of making a record of useful for terrorism.

Munshi, now 18, was convicted of making a record useful for terrorism. A fourth defendant, Ahmed Sulieman, 30, from south London, was cleared of all charges.

H/T to Exposing Islam.

It is clear that, since this cell possessed information on the monarch and other members of the royal family, they were at the very least considering the possibility of an attack on the Queen, or on a member of her family.

Ought not such intentions—however notional they may have been—to kill or harm the reigning monarch be considered evidence of high treason? Or has British law changed in the interim to such a degree that it is no longer treasonable to plot against the head of state?

Although Melancholicus is not one of Her Majesty’s subjects, he believes that such plots should be treated by the British authorities with the utmost gravity, for an attack against the monarch is more than an assault on a police station, or the congregation of a church, or the passengers on an aircraft. In a certain very real sense, the Queen IS England. An attack on the Queen is more than an attack on a single individual; it is the symbolic overthrow of the British state. The Islamists in Britain can reach no more significant a target than Her Majesty. Were they to succeed in such a venture, they could never top that success for its political significance however many planes they could bring down or however many people they succeeded in killing in events like the 7/7 bombings three years ago.

In the reign of the first Elizabeth, plotters against the monarch were subjected to public evisceration and dismemberment as a warning to other potential malefactors, or—if they were of noble blood or had been royal favourites—to decollation. Either way, death was the end result. In the reign of the second Elizabeth, plotters against the monarch will appear before a court, with their human rights enshrined in law and—if convicted—will spend a few years in prison. Thereafter they will be released back onto the street, to resume their plotting from the point whereat it was interrupted, should they be so minded.

Now while Melancholicus does not advocate a return to the savage butchery of the sixteenth century, he must nonetheless ask: where is the punishment that treason deserves?

Architecture and reverence

There are those for whom a church is just a church; not a few Catholics couldn’t care less whether they assembled for Mass in a soaring Pugin masterpiece, in a sumptuous baroque temple, in Cistercian austerity, or in a shrine to ultra-modernity, all glass and girders and fluorescent lights which, if they took out the seating, could double as an aircraft maintenance hangar and which, in the words of Michael S. Rose, is as Ugly as Sin. To such souls, any church will do.

Melancholicus, however, is not of that company. He likes to know that the building in which he is praying is sacred to the LORD his God, and one of the means whereby this sacredness is manifest is in the design and furnishings of the structure, provided these rise above the level of the ordinary and mundane.

UCD Belfield campus churchHere at the university, there is a chapel on campus, and Melancholicus occasionally pays a visit to the Blessed Sacrament en route to the sandwich counter in his lunch hour.

This chapel, dedicated to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, is ostensibly a Catholic church but, in the ecumenical spirit of the times, is shared with the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. As the latter is almost entirely composed of low-church protestants of the kind that would be horrified by any notion of eucharistic reservation, Melancholicus is relieved to report that the tabernacle is used only by the Catholics; otherwise there would be no way of knowing if one were actually receiving Christ or only bread at holy communion—a gauntlet run all the time by those foolish enough to share tabernacles with our separated brethren.

The Dublin archdiocese experienced phenomenal growth during the ’fifties and ’sixties, necessitating the constitution of a raft of new parishes, and the building of new churches for each. As a result, Dublin is full of these odd barn-like structures, which have as much resemblance to traditional churches as do post offices, or credit unions or airport waiting lounges. dedication plaqueThis edifice on campus was consecrated in 1969 by John Charles McQuaid, archbishop of Dublin, and one wonders what his grace must have thought of the architecture of the building he was blessing as a church. It is an octagonally-shaped church in the round, of a style belonging to the era of Vatican II and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

That said, the Michael Devlin memorial church is not the worst of them. Melancholicus finds that he can at least pray with facility in the building, which he supposes is the true test of any church. Nevertheless, he does not approach it without criticism, and probably the worst thing he can say about it is that the sanctuary is conspicuously lacking in merit. Seat of Wisdom sanctuaryThe reader may glean from the picture what sort of “sacred space” we are dealing with here: the altar obviously in the form of a table (to serve for men to eat upon, as Ridley said), without even ‘a fair linen cloth’ upon it; the prominence given to the presidential chair (which has built-in controls so that the celebrant can play piped music during the service); and not least, the shunting of the tabernacle off to a stand on the side, with the Blessed Sacrament reserved behind gaudy multi-coloured doors. Nevertheless, there is at least a sanctuary lamp behind the tabernacle (although not visible in the picture), and although there are no altar rails, the sanctuary is separated from the nave by being against what should be the east wall and is raised on a dais, so at least it is elevated above the level of the worshippers.

When Melancholicus entered this edifice for the first time in 1997, there were traditional church-style wooden pews in the nave for the congregation to sit on, and there was a small but aesthetically decent traditional crucifix on the wall behind the table altar. Both of these appurtenances have since disappeared, the latter replaced by a ghastly so-called “Taizé crucifix” which looks like it was painted by a five-year-old. Melancholicus remembers asking one of the college chaplains what had happened to the original fixture, but the fellow rolled his eyes as though deep in thought and could provide no satisfactory answer. To this day the location of the crucifix remains a mystery. In August 1997, Melancholicus received a scholarship from the Norwegian government for a year’s study at the University of Oslo, and when he returned to Ireland in 1998 the traditional pews had been replaced by padded chairs with fold-up kneelers, a renovatio which must have cost untold thousands of pounds. This refurbishment has considerably increased the seating capacity of the church, but as the average size of the congregation continues to decline, most of these seats remain unoccupied, except for special occasions such as concerts and recitals and the like which are held from time to time.

Melancholicus has no objection to the new chairs in themselves, but he has noticed a definite change in the comportment of the faithful in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, and this change he attributes (at least in part) to the changing of the furniture.

Although they lack the convenience of armrests and adjustable backs, the new chairs are comfy. Quite considerably so. The old pews were of course hard wood, the only padded appurtenance thereof being the kneeler. In making their private prayers, some of the faithful kneel, while others prefer to sit. In the days when the hard-benched pews obtained, the balance was altogether in favour of those who knelt. Today, amidst the comfy chairs, the balance is altogether in favour of those who sit.

Nobody kneels any more!

And hardly anyone ever genuflects. Entering the church, they proceed sans genuflection to the nearest chair, upon the seat of which descends their well-fed behinds.

Nor does anybody ever do the stations of the cross. At least Melancholicus has never seen anyone so engaged, even during Lent, and he has spent many hours in prayer in this church during his years at the university. But if one were to see what passes as the stations in Seat of Wisdom, one would hardly wonder. Melancholicus neglected to take a photograph, but even if he had, there would be nothing to show, except a few lines of stencil etching on a small off-white plastic background, in which it is impossible to tell one station apart from the next. He must admit in fairness that he has himself never done the stations in this church—but as what stations there are are hardly conducive to the devotion, the reader will not be overly surprised.

Lest he seem overly critical of a church building of which he actually is quite fond in spite of its obvious bauhaus novus ordoism, Melancholicus does have something more to add in its favour. There is a shrine to Our Lady, complete with statue—a plain wooden sculpture but aesthetically pleasing and without profane misrepresentation or other unworthy features. There is also a ‘reconciliation room’, but on the down side this seems never to be used for its intended purpose. For confession, one must approach one of the chaplains directly; and they never preach about confession during Mass, which Melancholicus considers a most unfortunate omission.

The building is not now in good repair. Melancholicus is not qualified to speak with authority on this matter, since he is not involved with the buildings and maintenance department, but from the increasing number of dark stains appearing on both seats and carpet, it would seem that the roof of the building has begun to leak—a serious problem in an Irish climate which is becoming wetter and wetter by the year.

Melancholicus has heard it said (anecdotally, he must admit) that these new church buildings erected in such prodigious numbers owing to the expansion of the Dublin diocese around the time of the council, are not only inferior in terms of the sacred, but inferior in their construction also. That said, their building probably cost the diocese a lot of money at that time, and their replacement will cost the diocese more money still. The good news, however, is that if these buildings really are falling down now and must be replaced in increasing numbers over the next twenty years, we might be able to replace them with something better, with new churches that more clearly identify themselves as such in their design and furnishings.

But the problem, of course, is that the decline of the Church in Ireland has reached such unprecedented levels that unsound churches are more likely to be closed than replaced—and to remain so indefinitely.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Valle Adurni

Melancholicus has chanced upon yet another link to this his humble blog. Having discovered, he now wishes to repay the favour. Accordingly he recommends to his readers a visit to Valle Adurni, especially if they have not been there already.

This marks a bit of a milestone, for as far as Melancholicus has been able to determine, Pastor in Valle is the only priest blogger who links to Infelix Ego.

To err is human

... but to totally muck things up requires a computer.

Among those things that most easily induce an apoplectic rage in Melancholicus’ soul there is at least one that competes with the sacrilegious antics of the conciliar church, and that is the lousy performance of PCs and their even lousier (Microsoft) software.

Hence Melancholicus really appreciated this little gem, which is more redolent of an urban myth than of an authentic exchange between the companies concerned—google some of the phrases listed and the reader will find that although Microsoft is always the computer villain, the same joke crops up with General Motors replaced by Toyota or Fiat or some other auto manufacturer. But it is amusing nonetheless:

At a computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: “If GM had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”

In response to these comments, General Motors issued a press release stating:

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

  1. For no reason at all, your car would crash twice a day.

  2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car.

  3. Occasionally, executing a manoeuver such as a left-turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, and you would have to reinstall the engine.

  4. When your car died on the freeway for no reason, you would just accept this, restart and drive on.

  5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought “Car XP’ or ‘Car Vista’, and then added more seats.

  6. Apple would make a car powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would run on only five per cent of the roads.

  7. Oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single ‘This car has performed an illegal operation and will shut down’ warning light.

  8. The airbag would say ‘Are you sure?’ before deploying.

  9. Occasionally and for no reason, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed the radio antenna.

  10. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of road maps from Rand-McNally (a subsidiary of GM), even though they neither need them nor want them. Trying to delete this option would immediately cause the car’s performance to diminish by 50 percent or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.

  11. Every time GM introduced a new model, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

  12. You would press the ‘start’ button to shut off the engine.

  13. If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How many liturgists does it take... ?

Never before in ecclesiastical history has there been so much verbal diarrhoea on the subject of liturgy than in the forty-five years since 1963. Never have so many documents on the liturgy been released by the Holy See. Never has there been such a proliferation of liturgical workshops, courses, organisations, agencies, committees, resources, journals, summer schools, conferences, meetings, discussions, position papers, seminars, et cetera.

And practically all of it concerning the Novus Ordo, or as the liturgy freaks like to call it, “the revisions mandated by Vatican II”.

But despite this ongoing and frenetic activity, and the endless stream of verbiage thereon, the liturgy to which we are unfortunate enough to be subjected in our churches come Sunday is still shite and becoming more so.

Just gimme that old time religion. You can keep your “renewal”.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

They've improved it worse

The Catholic World News website was down the other day while the good people thereat made ready their “liturgical changes” for unveiling this week.

Today the site is back up again. But Melancholicus is shocked and dismayed. It is not the same site at all. They have even changed its name. It is now Catholic Culture, and although the news features and headlines are listed on this page, there seems to be no sign of the news archive—though this, possibly, may be due to the fact that they haven’t moved the archive to their new site yet... we shall wait and see.

But, being a Traditionalist, Melancholicus does not like change, and he especially disapproves of the same when websites he frequently visits are re-arranged by their owners in an attempt to make the site more user-friendly and accessible. For these changes, however well intended they may be, confront the visitor with something new and foreign when he is expecting the old and familiar. It is an unsettling experience, whereat the visitor quickly becomes lost, finds he cannot navigate the site or find what he’s looking for, becomes disheartened, finally leaves and then doesn’t come back but goes elsewhere to find what he sought at his once-familiar port of call but can find no longer.

Sounds rather like the conciliar church, doesn’t it?

Indeed. The good people over at the now defunct have done something really, really bad. They have taken down their traditional website and replaced it with a novus ordo version of the same. Perhaps visitors will become accustomed to the novelty in time—if they persevere; perhaps, disheartened by the abruptness and extent of the reforms, they will go elsewhere for their Catholic world news. Since about thirty to forty percent of the posts on Infelix Ego are based on CWN stories, Melancholicus finds himself vexed not a little by the change, and also finds himself facing the task of having to adjust his links accordingly.

There are some comforts, though. Diogenes is still online—if you can find him. Although he disparages the new website as novus, Melancholicus at least stayed long enough on it to see what other kind of fare it offered. While doing so he stumbled upon this obnoxious feature, namely a catalogue of site reviews wherein a private person (or persons) has taken it upon himself/themselves to judge the Catholicity or otherwise of external websites. There is a link through which the visitor can view the (in the compiler’s private opinion) “Top-rated sites”. More interestingly, there is also a “Danger list” which, as we shall see, contains some strange bedfellows. The websites on the “Danger list” are those which the compiler—in his private opinion—has judged in some undefined way not entirely consonant with Catholicism, or at least with Catholicism as he understands it.

Websites are reviewed by our self-appointed inquisitor according to the criterea of “Fidelity”, “Resources” and “Useability”. Assessment of the two latter is somewhat a matter of subjective opinion, and Melancholicus shall say no more about that, for it is the reviewer’s approach to “Fidelity” that he finds most interesting, and not a little irritating. “Fidelity” is nowhere defined, and in practical terms seems to mean no more than the degree to which a given website conforms to the reviewer’s own position on ecclesiastical politics. So let us now take a gander through his “Danger list” to see what may be afoot.

To be fair to our reviewer, the greater share of the websites on his “Danger list” deserve to be there, and would be on the blacklist of any orthodox Catholic, were he minded to compile such. Our reviewer tells us that “these sites receive the lowest grade in the Fidelity category”. Some of the sites he lists are those of obvious dissenting groups such as Call To Action and We Are Church, flaky religious orders, dodgy educational institutes, pro-homosexual ministry and the supporters of the wymynprysts movement. So far so good. On the other side of the divide he lists the websites of sedevacantist groups, as well as the well-known and notorious sites Traditio and Novus Ordo Watch. Melancholicus cannot quarrel with any of that. A lot of these sites are nothing if not absolutely barmy. But the reviewer also includes some websites on this “Danger list” whose ‘dissent’—if such it be—is not anywhere near as clear-cut and which has not been satisfactorily established according to properly-defined criterea, in effect tarring them with the same brush as the modernists and the sedes.

For instance, Melancholicus was interested to see what our reviewer would make of Fisheaters, since he links to Fisheaters himself from Infelix Ego. Although conceding that Fisheaters contains “many good resources”, the reviewer complains that these are “seriously marred by the webmaster’s ultra-traditionalist views”. Furthermore, “the language consistently implicitly and explicitly rejects the New Mass as well as the authority of [the] Second Vatican Council”.

Melancholicus has grown tired of hearing this vague, undefined charge—which is little more than a bromide—levelled at those who have the temerity to consider the new liturgy inferior to the old, or who believe that The Greatest Council Of All TimeTM was not in fact the greatest council of all time. This is a standard charge that recurs again and again in our inquisitor’s reviews of traditionalist websites. Nowhere does he explain what precisely “rejecting” either the New Mass or “the authority of Vatican II” means, or why, indeed, such should be considered a crime. On the basis of an ambiguous charge left unexplained, websites such as Fisheaters are found to be in violation of “Fidelity”, and are consigned to the trash heap alongside the likes of America magazine, Maryknoll, Voice of the Faithful, and Catholics For A Free Choice.

Fisheaters commits another crime against “Fidelity” insofar as “all of the material and resources offered are pre-Vatican II”. If our reviewer could explain to Melancholicus how this could be considered in itself a crime, he would be interested in hearing it.

Then there is Fisheaters’ Dictionary of Dissent, which really exercises our pious reviewer. He complains that the Dictionary contains sarcastic remarks about the new liturgy and the post-conciliar church. But so what? Depending on one’s personal taste, some may find the Dictionary of Dissent darkly amusing, others may find it obnoxious. But where on this page does there occur the denial of some doctrine of faith or morals one might expect if the webmaster is to be found in violation of “Fidelity”?

Another “weakness” of the Fisheaters website identified by our reviewer is its “unorthodox Catholic links”. Among these allegedly “unorthodox” links are Christian Order, Una Voce (!) and the (now unfortunately defunct) Diocese Report. By what criterion does our reviewer take it upon himself to judge these sites “unorthodox”? In any case, they are all—together with Seattle Catholic—guilty of a most serious breach of “Fidelity”. Fidelity to what, precisely? Ah, but there’s the rub. The sense in which this term is used by our reviewer can hardly be as restrictive as adherence merely to the teachings of the Church, for the aforementioned Traditionalist websites he has consigned to his “Danger list” contain no heresy. No, for our reviewer, the meaning of “Fidelity” has been expanded to include adherence not only to the teachings of the Church but to the policies and decisions of churchmen, as well as an exaggerated sense of the respect owed to those in sacred orders. All Traditionalist websites promote the old religion at the expense of the new; that is the distinguishing feature of Traditionalism, for they wouldn’t be Traditionalists if they didn’t. Why, in the opinion of our reviewer, should criticism of the liturgical dross that has been imposed upon the Church for the last forty years be considered grounds for such extreme censure? We find Christian Order roundly upbraided for the egregious crime of being sharply critical of the bishops of England and Wales. But it is a matter of the historical record that these bishops comprise one of the most corrupt and modernist hierarchies in the world. If our reviewer considers such men above criticism, he cannot know very much about them. Although Diocese Report is no longer functioning, Melancholicus used to read it regularly before he entered seminary in 2002, and he remembers it as a news source that never held back from reporting on the perfidy and malfeasance of corrupt bishops. There have been many examples of bad bishops in the history of holy Church, and bad bishops abound in every age. Why is it apparently so hard for our reviewer to believe that there are bad bishops installed in Sees today, all across the world? For what is most disturbing about our reviewer’s criterea in evaluating the ‘orthodoxy’ of websites is that he seems to be more scandalised by Traditionalist criticism of ecclesiastical turpitude than by the turpitude itself. If such be the case, he’d want to get his priorities right.

Perhaps when he says “Fidelity”, what he really means is “Party loyalty”, which is a different matter entirely.

Melancholicus is amazed and disgusted at the extent to which some will take it upon themselves to write their fellow Catholics out of the Church, even though the victims of these arrogant judgements have incurred no ecclesiastical censure.

And that is the end of today’s rant.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Burn hollywood, burn!

You lied, you faked
You cheated, you changed the stakes
Magnet toss that pie in the sky
Unrehearsed, let the bubbles burst
All in all, a three-ring circus
Of unity with parody
Tragedy or comedy
Probably publicity

Lose myself inside your schemes
Go for the money, honey
Not the screen
Be a movie star, blah blah blah
Go the whole hog
Be bigger than God

Remember this when it first came out? Although Mr. Lydon may not have had the blasphemous, grasping, tyrannical, elitist, left-leaning, revolutionary institution that is the conciliar church in mind, the song nevertheless applies perfectly thereto. For what else is the conciliar church but a hollywood church, or the ecclesiastical version of a most sinister Disneyworld?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

They still don't get it

This year being the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, there has over the past few weeks been a glut of coverage by the secular media of Catholic teaching on contraception, some of it hostile, some of it seemingly impartial, all of it facile.

Woman’s Hour yesterday morning on BBC Radio 4 was presented by Jenni Murray, and included a feature on contraception and the teaching of the Church. Reference was made to a recent survey (conducted by that well-known organ of dissent The Tablet) which revealed that the majority of Mass-going Catholics in England and Wales are using, or have used, some form of contraceptive device or practice.

This is no surprise to any of us; such statistics have been around at least since the ’sixties. We might also reasonably conclude that the ‘Catholics’ quizzed in this survey were doubtless from the Novus Ordo-attending Tablet-reading demographic, and so no doctrine of faith or morals would be likely to inhibit their pursuit of the thoroughly secularised life.

In any case, the results of the survey prompted Jenni Murray to ask this question: “If the majority of Roman Catholics are simply defying papal orders, should they be changed?” [emphasis mine].

They still don’t get it, do they? Truth is not formed by public opinion. An error is still an error, however sincerely and fervently one may believe in it. Likewise a proposition is not made true simply by the fact that it pleases the majority to give it their assent, nor made false by their rejection of it. Melancholicus could not say it better than St. Augustine: “Wrong is still wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is still right, even if no-one is doing it.”

Melancholicus snorted with contempt at Ms. Murray’s dismissal of the Church’s teaching as papal orders, as though it were no more than the diktat of a tyrant, a mere policy that could, and ought to, be changed when a more congenial and enlightened fellow occupies the See of Peter, rather than an objective truth the Pope is bound to uphold for all time.

Reference was also made to Mrs. Cherie Blair, wife of the former prime minister and known contraceptrix, in which Mrs. Blair was described—somewhat ironically—as a “good Catholic girl”. Melancholicus thinks that Mrs. Blair is now a bit long in the tooth to be reasonably described as a “girl”, and as far as “good Catholic” goes... why does the BBC feel the need to use this adjective in reference to Catholics? There are not a few bad Catholics knocking about these days, among which may be numbered Mrs. Blair herself. Is there not a hint of derision here, with this trite phrase revealing Jenni Murray as mocking and sarcastic? We must not be surprised. To adopt such an attitude to Christianity and the Church is de rigueur among the media mavens of today, in marked contrast to the craven deference they accord other religions, particularly Islam—witness the cloyingly obsequious approach by this same Jenni Murray to the Islamic religion on Woman’s Hour on Tuesday 1 April.

Let the reader compare. Is there not a contemptible double standard in evidence here?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Judas priest

Ah, blessed Jesus, how Thou art traduced by Thy ministers, even of those who by virtue of their sacred orders ought to belong entirely to Thee!

Melancholicus is both bitter and angry as he writes this.

It happened before, and now it has happened again, like the re-run of a bad movie.

Except we are not talking about anything as trivial as televisual entertainment; we are talking about the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

On the 17th Sunday of what newchurch calls ‘Ordinary Time’ (year B) the lectionary prescribes the reading of John 6:1-15 as the gospel of the day. This last occurred in August 2006.

The gospel passage in question recounts our Lord’s miracle of the loaves and fishes. On that Sunday, two years ago, Melancholicus was attending Mass (Novus Ordo, alas!) celebrated in the parish church of the town where his mother now lives. The Mass was celebrated by an occasional celebrant who makes only a few, infrequent, sporadic appearances, but whose approach to the liturgy is typically clean and reverent enough, so Melancholicus was happy to see him.

Happy to see him, that is, until he began preaching.

If, gentle reader, you are a Catholic, you will doubtless at some time in your life have experienced the exasperating phenomenon of Father celebrant ‘explaining’ away the Lord’s miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes as merely the crowd, moved by Jesus to generosity and neighbourly love, sharing their packed lunches with one another.

This is what the faithful in the pews received from this man on that Sunday in August 2006. But he didn’t stop there; he slowly and with great emphasis undermined the historical credibility of the evangelists and of the New Testament as a whole.

After this Mass, Melancholicus was so incensed that he published in The Brandsma Review an article denouncing the modernism of corrupt clergy, and so lanced the spiritual boil. The following week he was in a different parish, where he was witness to the most appalling liturgical abuses. He then proceeded to boycott all Masses in the Novus Ordo for the rest of that liturgical year.

On the 18th Sunday of ‘Ordinary Time’ (year A), which happened to be yesterday, the lectionary prescribes the reading of Matthew 14:13-21. This is quoted below, in the translation in use in the Irish Church:

When Jesus received the news of John’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.
When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining; twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

The celebrant, as ill luck would have it, was the same priest whom we see on only a few occasions each year, and who delivered that scandalous homily two years ago. Melancholicus dreaded hearing the homily, since it was hardly likely that this priest had reformed himself in the intervening time.

So, gentle reader, can you guess what the homily was about?

You are most correct.

Except this time it was worse than before. The passage is from the gospel of St. Matthew but, in perfect conformity with the modernist insistence that the gospels are anonymous, Father celebrant never named the evangelist, referring to him simply as “the gospel writer”. He also accused St. Matthew—the anonymous “gospel writer”—of “getting carried away” in his account of the feeding of the five thousand. He then went on to deny that a miracle had taken place and, thanks to his modernist exegesis, the congregation were left in no doubt that the anonymous “gospel writer” was not at all a reliable witness to the historical Jesus.

If one can so blithely diss the miracle of the loaves and fishes, what of other miracles recorded in the New Testament—the virgin birth of Jesus, for instance, or His Resurrection? If we don’t have to believe the evangelist’s testimony in this episode, why should we trust any of it?

Da Vinci Code, anyone?

Melancholicus did not hear the end of the homily, for he rose noisily from his pew, strode purposefully down the central aisle, and walked out of the church. He was the only person in attendance who did so.

Once outside, he sat in his car, trembling with rage against that Judas priest and against the entire revolting edifice of the conciliar church.

Why do we tolerate the conciliar church, with its blasphemies, its heresies and its mania for fashionable secular causes? Do Catholics not realise how much the apparatchiks of the conciliar church despise them and their faith? As Hilary puts it so succinctly, Novusordoism isn’t Catholicism. Never was there a truer word spoken! The “church” inhabited by men like Father celebrant is not Catholic—it is a hideous changeling, an excrement-smeared counterfeit, a diabolical usurper, a blasphemous parody of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is founded upon Jesus Christ and His apostles; the conciliar church is founded upon the raving fantasies of insane men. The Catholic Church is the mystical body of Jesus Christ, the extension throughout time of the Incarnation; but the conciliar church is surely the very abomination of desolation in the holy place, the mystical body of satan.

Why do we in the pews tolerate the heresies of this man, and countless others like him? Why do we sit there in acquiescent silence while he feeds us with poison and destroys our faith? Why do we let him get away with it? Why do we not bestir ourselves with righteous anger? The fellow deserves no more than to be dragged from the sanctuary and pummelled with kicks and blows. Before he began preaching, he announced the first collection. I wonder how many persons in attendance still gave their money to this fellow once he had finished preaching and announced the second collection?

Melancholicus would put an offering in the collection basket even at Novus Ordo Masses in obedience to the precept of the Church requiring us to contribute to the support of our pastors, but in future he will give no more offerings to the conciliar church.

Since we have no other recourse, dear friends, let us hit these faithless traditores where it hurts them most: in their pocket, seeing as money is all they care about. Let us make a holy resolution to withhold all contributions to anything in the Church even remotely connected with the Novus Ordo.

So now Melancholicus refuses communion with this faithless and heretical priest. He shall not attend Masses celebrated by that man. He shall not participate in any liturgical or other religious function in which that man is involved in any priestly capacity. He shall not confess his sins to that man, nor shall he ever request of him absolution. He shall not receive holy communion from the hands of that man, nor shall he receive any sacrament or spiritual help of whatsoever kind unless, being in articulo mortis, he should be compelled by necessity. But except in such necessity, that man shall be to Melancholicus as the heathen and the publican.

And now Melancholicus is wondering what to do in the future. He knows that, come Sunday, he shall not be able to bring himself to attend the Novus Ordo. Due to circumstances he will be unable to make the long drive into Dublin to attend the Traditional Mass. That means a Massless Sunday, but better no Mass at all than to be stoked into fury by the blasphemies of a heretic. In fact, Melancholicus is considering a long-term boycott of the conciliar church with all its pomps and works, just as he boycotted the same for many months in 2006, and again in 2007. The first precept of the Church mandates attendance at Mass on all Sundays and holy days under pain of sin, but the obligation surely does not extend to the kind of degenerate fruit-and-nut fest that passes for Mass in so many parishes of this God-forsaken diocese, in which our beloved Saviour is denied and, so to speak, spat upon by the celebrant. Holy Mother Church is more kind and forebearing to her children than to insist on feeding them with such poisoned fare. As far as Mass and holy communion are concerned, Melancholicus shall go to Newtownmountkennedy, where the Old Mass is celebrated every Saturday by the parish priest. That shall have to satisfy for Sunday, for as yet there is no old rite Sunday Mass in the diocese within easy driving distance. There at least Melancholicus will be able to pray in an atmosphere of peace and sanity, and he will be able to receive holy communion.

But Sunday being the Lord’s day, he feels it apposite to sanctify that day with at least some communitarian worship, and this will involve stopping off at St. Bartholomew’s for choral evensong on his way back to Dublin in the evening. This beautiful service—which is unfortunately suspended for the summer break but should resume in September—is the outstanding contribution of the Anglican church to Christian liturgy. St. Bartholomew’s is a beautiful Anglo-Catholic church, and praying there at evensong in the latter months of 2007 brought much solace to Melancholicus’ tired and care-worn soul. He also acquired a new devotion—to St. Bartholomew!—for the church has an icon of its patron before which Melancholicus lit many candles and knelt in prayer, and he can declare without exaggeration that taking refuge in St. Bartholomew’s from the degradation of the Novus Ordo was spiritually very beneficial.

He wouldn’t be inclined to attend their communion service, though—Apostolicae Curae, and all that.

But whatever he ends up doing, Melancholicus shall give the wretched Novus Ordo a very wide berth indeed, and possibly will not return to it for the rest of this liturgical year.

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing—2 Cor. 6:17

As the 1st Sunday of Advent approaches, however, he always feels tempted to recommence regular Mass-going—he did so in 2006 and 2007—so he shall probably do so again in 2008, whereat the whole cycle of recovery, then return, then disillusionment, then disgust, then a months-long boycott, will begin over again.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Request for prayers

Of your charity, gentle reader, please pray for the repose of the soul of Jim Bohl, sometime clerical student for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, Denton, Nebraska.

Jim died today, 1st August 2008, after a long battle with cancer.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday 4th August at 10am in St. Therese church in Southgate, Kentucky. The Mass will be celebrated by Fr. Scott Haynes SJC, and Fr. Valentine Young OFM will preach.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.