Sunday 30 December 2012

Bishop Williamson Speaks: SSPX and the future

Bishop Richard Williamson recently gave a conference. Included were his thoughts on the SSPX and its relations with Rome. The talk parallels his recent lectures in London, and his opposition to the current SSPX leadership. To hear the talk, please click here

Wednesday 26 December 2012

St. Stephen's Day : The Holy Father's Message

Pope Benedict's Wednesday Angelus focused on St. Stephen. The following is part of the Holy Father's text: 

On St. Stephen’s Day, we are called to fix our gaze on the Son of God, who in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas we contemplate in the mystery of His Incarnation. In Baptism and Confirmation, with the precious gift of faith nourished by the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist, Jesus Christ has bound us to Him and wants to continue in us, through the action of the Holy Spirit, his work of salvation that redeems, enhances, elevates and leads all to fulfilment. Allowing ourselves be drawn by Christ, like St. Stephen, means opening our lives to the light that calls, directs and makes us walk the path of good, the path of humanity according to God’s loving plan.

Finally, St. Stephen is a model for all those who want to serve the new evangelization. He shows that the novelty of proclamation does not primarily consist in the use of original methods or techniques, which certainly have their uses, but in being filled with the Holy Spirit and allowing ourselves to be guided by Him. The novelty of proclamation lies in emerging ourselves deeply in the mystery of Christ, the assimilation of His Word and of His presence in the Eucharist, so that He Himself, the living Jesus, can act and speak through His envoy. In essence, the evangelizer becomes able to bring Christ to others effectively when he lives for Christ, when the newness of the Gospel manifests itself in his own life.


Note: "Boxing Day" (or "Box Singh" Day for the multi-culturalists) is generally no longer celebrated. It was an Anglo-Saxon protestant custom, during the Victorian Era,  to show some Christian charity to those who had worked hard throughout the year. Thus, one would give a small gift to the milkman, the postman and so on.  Today, the exploited poor are those who work in retail. It is these poor souls who, at minimum wages, will be slaving away in box stores for the "savings" sought by the greedy, the thoughtless, the cruel. Rather than take them a gift, the exploiters will cause these poor to be at work from the the early hours of dawn, to late into the evening. Show some true Christmas spirit and charity: stay home; better yet - go to Mass, visit the shut-ins...

Monday 24 December 2012

A Blessed Christmas

Dear readers of "Witness", 

We extend to you and your loved ones prayerful best wishes for this Christmas. May the Christ Child bring you His Peace. 

From all of us at "Witness"

Hodie Christus natus est

hodie Salvator apparuit:
hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
laetantur Archangeli:
hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluja.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Toronto Traditional Mass Society - Una Voce Toronto: A Success Story That Has Gained International Recognition

Something wonderful is happening in Canada. Slowly, surely the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (known as well as the "Tridentine Rite") is growing here in southern Ontario. The Toronto Traditional Mass Society - Una Voce Toronto (TTMS- UVT) has grown from humble beginnings (with evening meetings at the home of the late, great Eileen Anderson; with Clare Meechan as her immediate successor) to recent achievements that are now drawing close to 500 souls to the "Mass of all times". 

The unique and exquisitely
beautiful logo of the TTMS-UVT
The work of the TTMS-UVT; their dedication and devotion - AND - success has reached well beyond Canadian borders, and now the well- known international blog site, Rorate Caeli is carrying today an article by Mr. David Domet, President of the Society on its growth and success. Mr. Domet is to be congratulated for his unflinching devotion to the Mass and tireless work in this regard. This also includes logging well over 1000 kms per month in his duties as choirmaster at St. Patrick's in Kinkora, Ontario. 

This Christmas, please make an effort to attend the liturgy in the traditional Latin rites of the Church. There are, for those in the greater Toronto region, thankfully, many liturgies diffused about the city.

Recommended links: 

Latin Mass -Una Voce Toronto

Thursday 20 December 2012

Christmas is for Atheists too...

I was originally going to title this post, "Christmas is for Christians". While this is true, it is not the whole truth. The whole truth is encapsulated in St. John 12:32: "and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto myself".  Christmas is an irrevocable calling to all of humanity to accept the coming of the Messiah. 

Now some comments on the contemporary "scene", as viewed from my perspective in the city of Toronto; and I shall strive to be authentic, and not nice in this post. 

Nothing annoys me more at this time of year seeing all the contrived, grotesque and repugnant materialism and fraudulent "holiday spirit" and other such nonsense. With all the activity going on, one would think (for about five seconds) that a miracle has happened: we are in the midst of a sudden and huge return to Christianity. Alas, to the contrary, we are in the midst of a yearly orgy of materialism undertaken by a huge mob of lapsed Christians who are in the business of delusionary "feel good" time, accompanied and goaded on by an assortment of atheists, and perhaps a few hedging agnostics (tapping happily with their hammers on the most recent archeological finds.... but I digress oh you Belloc readers).  In this regard, I doff my Yorkshire cap to Jews, Muslims and others who at least take their religion seriously and do not pretend to celebrate Christmas. At least these people understand that it is about Jesus, and not the abomination of Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman or some other hideous creation of a sick mind. With these authentic people, we Christians can undertake dialogue; for as St. Thomas More once wrote (I paraphrase): "dialogue exists when two friends of the truth swear to each other to yield to the light and only the light". 

The sickening scene under the contrived title of "Happy Holidays" constitutes innumerable fallen-away Christians, with a small, but strident side-show of atheists and others who for some unknown reason piggy-back on a Christian holy day that celebrates the birth of the Redeemer. Throwing the Messiah out, these perverters have tried to trot in the ubiquitous and vile figure of Santa Claus (a depraved monster of iniquity that is a libel against the lovable and historically real figure of St. Nicholas) - an idol to materialism, along with snowmen and other pathetic and stomach churning ogres. 

Of course, the media and powerful financial interest are pushing this insane drive to spend money on "presents" and having a "happy holiday".  Equally, they continue their evil thrust to ensure that the guest of honour at the Birthday will be forgotten, not mentioned, thrown out of the "party". Millions will proceed to violate the Sabbath - and, by extension Jesus himself - by doing last minute "holiday shopping" on a Sunday in preparation (ostensibly) to celebrate this same Jesus' birthday. So, blaspheme one day, celebrate him the next??  Truly a world gone mad. Again the words of Pope Leo XIII come to mind: to have known and then rejected Jesus Christ is madness. It boggles the mind that someone who hates our Blessed Saviour (or, they may just claim to hate his teachings - e.g. no adultery etc.), the Catholic Church, the Popes et al - would not flee from the 25th? 

I don't celebrate Yom Kippur, not being Jewish. I don't celebrate Ramadan as I am not a Muslim, nor Krishna, not being Hindu.  I don't celebrate any of the birthdays of famous atheistic murderers such as Lenin, Stalin and the like; not being a communist. Nor do I celebrate Naziism, not being a religionist of 19th century racial supremacy with a dash of Norse paganism thrown in. I have a suggestion: why not spread the "holiday cheer" around in a more diverse and "multi-cultural" manner? Perhaps the lapsed Christians and atheists could divide up their "merry making" in a more culturally sensitive way, and celebrate "Diversity" - rather than indulge themselves on the 25th of December (which, as enemies of the Popes, they should not, as at the minimum, they should adhere to the Julian calendar; but, being the buffoons they are, they are blind to the fact that they are actually conceding the authority of the Popes... well, beginning to...)?  

Simply, I don't try to celebrate anything that I don't believe, that has no meaning to me. So the best thing that could happen at this time of year is if anti-Christians could leave us Christians alone to celebrate quietly and respectfully the birth of Jesus.  

There will be those who, when reading this post, will feel that I have been too eisegetical rather than exegetical, but that is my right - my "holiday" indulgence.  So in closing I wish all a blessed Christmas. 

Monday 17 December 2012

The Rorate Mass in Ontario : they came to Our Lady through the night

Last Saturday, in a tiny hamlet in south-western Ontario, over 70 people gathered to attend a Rorate Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  From a radius of over 150 miles, people came to the exquisitely beautiful church of St. Patrick's in Kinkora, Ontario; driving through the dark night to get to the church where Mass would commence at 5:30 a.m.  

The photos that are available of this event evoke an atmosphere of striking beauty. The Toronto Traditional Mass Society - Una Voce Toronto is to be congratulated for organizing this wonderful event. 

The High Altar and Sanctuary - Rorate Mass at St. Patrick's

Further photos, a full report and a youtube video may be read and viewed here

Sunday 16 December 2012

Tyranny of Niceness

I had a conversation with a friend this week about homilies at our parish. I said that I had only felt it necessary to criticize our pastor's homily once in the past three years so I didn't think he was doing that badly. My friend said that when he didn't like the homily he remained silent but that when he did like it he always said so. The message was quite clear... encouraging someone was acceptable but disagreeing with them was not. Silence is preferable to disagreement. This is reinforced in many ways in our society. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" we are told from an early age. Our society places a great value on the ability to hide one's feelings and convictions. Disagreeing with someone is almost the worst social faux pas there is.

Niceness is a form of cultural silencing, cultural because we learn it at our mother's knee, silencing because it makes us conceal our true feelings in favor of a mask of niceness. It grows out of a fear of rejection and judgement. When a child grows up with a steady diet of these things there are two reactions. One is to be nice, the good child, the obedient one in hopes of avoiding this rejection and judgement. The other is to be the black sheep, the outsider, the rebel who scorns rejection and judgement. Both of these children are disadvantaged as adults though perhaps the rebel has suffered less psychic damage.

Niceness is at odds with authenticity and honesty. Young children are not nice... often they will blurt out things that would cause adults to blush. They have not yet learned to edit themselves and they say exactly what they are thinking and feeling. There is no malice intended and most adults know this. However, were an adult to behave in the same way the reaction would be quite different. Perhaps that is why Jesus said that we must become like little children if we wish to enter the kingdom. Perhaps he is telling us that we should learn to be more authentic and honest with ourselves and those around us.

We do not seem to do well dealing with differences and disagreements. Polarization, cultural isolation and political correctness all contribute to this problem. Polarization demonizes people we disagree with. Cultural isolation avoids people we disagree with. Political correctness glosses over the differences. All are a way to avoid the problem. We have raised a generation who have no idea how to respectfully and charitably disagree. 

My friend did have a point, however.While niceness is one alternative to authenticity and honesty, there is another. The good child makes a virtue of pleasing those around him but the black sheep often makes a virtue of being as offensive as possible. Instead of avoiding rejection and judgement, he wears them as a badge of honor. In both cases. the innocence of the child is gone, replaced by anger and resentment. One internalizes it, suffering anxiety and depression, while the other spews it forth indiscriminately. Neither is being authentic and honest.

So, is it acceptable to criticize your pastor when he says something that you disagree with? I think my answer would have to be yes but this is an incomplete honesty at best. If this is all we have to offer then we run the risk of turning cynical, bad tempered and self righteous. Real honesty and authenticity needs to be tempered with charity and should seek to build up, not tear down.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Canon Taylor and the Carfin Grotto

I would like to introduce you to a great priest I knew personally when I was a small child growing up in Wishaw, Lanarkshire Scotland and the Grotto that he built. The priest was Canon Thomas Nimmo Taylor, Parish Priest of St. Francis Xavier church in Carfin. The Grotto built and promoted by the Canon is now known internationally as "The Carfin Grotto".  Canon Taylor was born in Greenock, Scotland on Tuesday 16th December, 1873. By the turn of the century the recently ordained Father Thomas N. Taylor was already well known in the older parishes existing on the lower stretches of the river Clyde. By 1912 his name was more than familiar, throughout the English speaking world, to the Devotees of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. For he was the tireless promoter of the cause of the wonder worker French Carmelite Nun, who died in 1897, the year of Father Taylor's ordination to the priesthood.

The Grotto at Carfin, founded by him in 1922, in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes, roused the fervor of the Catholics of the West of Scotland - this in turn gave rise to the unsought publicity of the press, which made the name of Father Taylor a household word throughout the British Isles.

In July 1920, a group from Carfin took part in the Scottish National Pilgrimage to Lourdes. The Pilgrimage over, it was decided to erect a small grotto, together with a Parochial Hall on an acre of ground across from the Church. On September 19th, the Sunday of the Dolores of Mary, the first sod was turned and the site duly blessed. On Sunday 1st October, 1922 the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Carfin Grotto was dedicated to Mary Immaculate. This day coincided with the Silver Jubilee of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who five and twenty years before had gone home to keep her promise that she would spend her heaven doing good upon the earth.

Let me end here by quoting Canon Taylor. "Perfection," he wrote, "could be achieved only by prayer and the constant sublimation of self, with its personal aims and ambitions, to the omnipotent wisdom of the divine plan." In this lay the path towards perfection. I will write more about Canon Taylor and the Carfin Grotto in future posts.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Our Bishops are failing the Church (I am not a Gallican)

A remarkable post by William Oddie at the Catholic Herald reviews a post by Fr. Blake (a well-know blogging priest). The main thrust of the argument is that the bishops' conferences are - nearly en masse - entities that have and are continuing to fail the Church in Her hour of need. Though the article specifies particularly the American and the English/Welsh bishops' conferences, we can take "heart" too, that - sadly, alas - the Canadian bishops have been bitter failures as well. 

We are all - or should be - aware of the disaster of the Winnipeg Statement. But even in our own time we have the problem of Bill C-13 (the so-called anti-bullying legislation that is incompatible with Christianity).  Though Cardinal Collins is my bishop, and I pray for him, and our blog honours him as our bishop; the fact is, he is now silent on the issue of further de-Christianization of our schools. It may be tough - but say something, do something... He rightly spoke out (and I blogged on the gentile confrontation with the hard-left, radical dissident teachers union, OECTA) but since then, he has gone silent when we need strong leadership to ensure that the State will not be encroaching on the rights of the Church. Since May of 2012, we have not had any leadership from our bishops even though, OECTA (in truth the noisy, strident leadership of the union) is proceeding aggressively with an agenda that is in contradiction with Catholic moral teaching. Perhaps the Cardinal is listening to the wrong people...

I also just watched A Man for All Seasons - quite a beautiful film. The confrontation between More and Wolsey was so contemporary... the scene of the cowardly bishops (only St. John Fisher stood alone and he had his heads chopped off) surrendering to the demands of the State chilling. 

Monday 10 December 2012

Rorate Latin Mass in Ontario this coming Saturday, December 15

 The Solemn Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Rite at St. Joseph's in Mississauga this past Saturday for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was an overwhelming success. Nearly 500 people attended this Mass. Thanks be to God.

Once again, the Toronto Traditional Mass Society-Una Voce Toronto is sponsoring a Rorate Mass in honour of Our Bless Lady in Kinkora, Ontario.  Please see this link for further details. 

Sunday 9 December 2012

SSPX: the new Mass "is Bad"

There will be no return to unity. The potential positive occasions over the past year seem to have been lost. Bishop Fellay of the SSPX on the 11th of November gave a detailed sermon, which is not only disheartening, but develops a line of a hardening of opposition. Attacking the new Mass, the novus ordo - without even differentiating between a Mass said according to the rubrics (granted, a very rare occurrence) and a Mass said contrary to the norms, displays a schismatic attitude: 

Finally one other condition,, which concerns the Mass this time.  We must accept the validity of the new Mass, but not only its validity.  We would have to accept also its liceity.  We speak about validity when we ask, “does the thing exist?”  A Mass that is celebrated validly means that Our Lord is there.  We are not looking then at the circumstances in which this Mass is said.  Thus a black Mass could be valid.  It is horrible, it is a terrible sacrilege, but, alas, there are priests who celebrate what is called a black Mass.  This Mass is valid.  In citing this shocking example, you understand of course that that is not permitted, that is not licit because it is bad.  “Licit” means permitted because it is good.  We, however, we have observed the ravages caused by this new Mass, we have noted how it was made, for what purpose it was made, for the sake of ecumenism.  And we see the results, the loss of the faith, the empty churches, and we say:  it is bad.  This is how I replied to Rome.  Usually we do not even speak about liceity, we simply say about this Mass that it is bad.  That is enough.

The full sermon may be read here

Throwing Prophets Down a Well

The gospel this morning tells of the coming of John the Baptist with his strident message of repentance. He is a very uncomfortable figure for most of us because no one likes to be reminded that they are a sinner. The homily this morning seemed to soft peddle this harsh prophetic figure calling him a perfectionist. I found myself getting angry and I will tell you why.

Last night I watched a movie called The Rape of Nanking. It tells the story of the capture of the city of Nanking by the Japanese in 1937. The Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek had just evacuated to a safer location and most of the army went with them. In the weeks following the fall of Nanking, the populace was subjected to a horrendous time of rape, pillage and murder. The story is told through the investigations and interviews of Iris Chang, a young Chinese-American author. Having been deeply moved by a photographic exhibition showing many images of the slaughter, she decided to write a book because there were no books in English on the subject. Indeed, she called it the forgotten holocaust. The movie is told from her perspective as she interviews surviving victims and Japanese soldiers. Her investigations led her to the diaries and papers of several western observers caught in the city at the time of the massacre.

To this day, there are those who categorically deny that these events even happened. Many Japanese politicians have spoken out, saying that these events were grossly exaggerated or had not happened at all. According to some sources all that occurred was a search for Chinese soldiers who had shed their uniforms and were hiding in the city. Iris Chang came away from this experience with a profound conviction that any of us are quite capable of perpetrating these sorts of horrors.

People do not like to be reminded that they are sinners. Evil, after all, is something that happens out there perpetrated by psychopathic monsters. It can't happen here, to us? We're better than that, aren't we? There are people around us who remind us that we really are capable of some pretty nasty things. Last night I found watching The Rape of Nanking  a profoundly uncomfortable experience but I forced myself to watch anyway. Iris Chang deserves to be listened to, as does John the Baptist from this morning's gospel. They do not deserve to be thrust down a well like Jeremiah, whose only crime was that he upset people.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Archbishop of London Declared Schismatic

Talk about misleading headlines...

When the Catholic Church reconstituted the English hierarchy it was very careful not to name bishops to sees claimed by the Anglicans. Hence, there is no Catholic Archbishop of London, there is an Archbishop of Westminster instead. However there is no Anglican Archbishop of London either, but only a Bishop of London. Just who is this character that the Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil has seen fit to declare schismatic?

David Bell managed to finagle episcopal consecration through Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa. He represents the Roman Catholic Society of  Leo XIII and styles himself Archbishop of London. Usually the Church does not pay much attention to such episcopal pretenders but this one not only calls himself Roman Catholic but a photograph exists of him shaking hands with John Paul II. You begin to see the need to clarify the situation.

Valid but Illicit?

The phrase "valid but illicit" has been used to describe many of these episcopal vagi but I hesitate to attribute it to anyone in the curia. Usually the phrase refers to an act performed by a Catholic priest or bishop which goes against canon law and authority in the church. Thus the ordinations of the four SSPX bishops can be described as valid but illicit. The question is why would someone completely outside the Catholic Church, like David Bell, seek to have their ordinations declared valid? What possible reason could the Catholic Church have to declare such ordinations valid? Aside from reconciliation with the Catholic Church, none whatsoever.

The most famous instance in which the Catholic Church pronounced upon the validity of orders of clerics outside of its own flock was Pope Leo XIII's bull, Apostolicae Curae in which he pronounced upon the validity of Anglican orders. Even this statement was partially based upon the fact that the Church has always felt it necessary to unconditionally ordain Anglican clerics who convert. There was some feeling that a definite pronouncement on the subject would somehow either further ecumenical efforts or spur a mass conversion. It is hard to tell which. The only time the Catholic Church does not ordain clerics who convert is when dealing with members of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

This does not prevent people like David Bell from seeking this cherished "valid but illicit" status as a way to somehow validate their own activities. It betrays an almost magical conception of the faith which denies the need for orthodoxy or communion. It is a way to somehow gain the fruits of the Church without acknowledging her authority. It is a delusion. 

An Orthodox View

Apostolic succession, according to the Orthodox consists of three principles. First, to be considered part of the apostolic succession, ordination  must be by a bishop who can trace his lineage to the apostles. Apparently David Bell can trace his lineage to Bishop Duarte Costa, who was Catholic at one time. However, the other two principles might prove to be a little more difficult for Mr. Bell. One must be both orthodox and in full communion with the episcopacy. You cannot be a heretic and claim apostolic succession. Neither can you be alone, separated from the rest of the successors to the apostles. 

It is worthwhile to note that in most Eastern Orthodox churches, Roman Catholic priests who convert are not ordained but merely vested.

What to Do?

In my own humble opinion, divorcing apostolic succession from orthodoxy of faith and the unity of communion is not wise. Practically speaking, the question of validity should not be broached unless it is in the context of reunion. Offering it as an ecumenical carrot to somehow entice people in seems to say that orthodoxy is not quite so important. Speculating upon validity when there is no intention of reunion is unwise and injurious to souls. When they knock at the door, invite them in to the feast set out for the prodigal son. Don't set the table out in the alley...

Catholic Church Refuses to Recognize David Bell as Bishop

Friday 7 December 2012

Celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at a Solemn Latin Mass

Just a reminder: tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. A Solemn Latin Mass to celebrate the Feast according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will be at  held at 11:00 a.m. at  St. Joseph's Catholic Church (5440 Durie Road) Mississauga, Ontario. 

Please tell your family and friends. 

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Rob Ford and the New Family Compact

I am fascinated by the controversy surrounding Rob Ford. Let me be quite clear... I did not vote for the guy. Since I regarded both Ford and Smitherman as men who have difficulty getting along with others, I voted for Pantalone. Nevertheless, the controversy surrounding Ford is interesting.

Rob Ford is essentially a poke in the eye of Toronto's elites on the part of middle class suburbanites who feel disenfranchised and taken advantage of. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a greater insult to the powers that be than to foist an overweight, football loving, beer swilling mayor on them. Someone recently pointed out to me that he is an embarrassment to the city when he represents us to other cities. This rather begs the question of just who these governing elites are who are so easily embarrassed.

When I first arrived in this city the trappings of Toronto the good were all around me. The place virtually shut down on Sundays and beer and liquor consumption was strictly controlled. Arcane licensing laws required some places to serve alcohol only with meals leading to a bizarre menu item called simply "the minimum" consisting of a few slices of bread, cheese and cold cuts pulled straight from the refrigerator already prepared on a plate. The food was bad but no one was really expected to actually eat "the minimum", it was merely there to provide legal access to alcohol.

Prejudice and bigotry were not immediately apparent but people in the old Eaton's print shop could still tell stories of when an Italian would not be hired by the store. Delving into Toronto's past reveals a long history of Irish immigration and an equally long history of  discrimination against them. This is referenced in a current television series set in 1890's Toronto, Murdoch Mysteries, where the main character is denied a promotion because of his Catholicism.

By the time I arrived, things were beginning to change, and not for the better. Yonge Street was riddled with body rub parlors, strip joints and other x-rated "entertainment" venues. Paradoxically, while the elite saw no harm in x-rated "entertainment" so long as it was not in their backyard, they supported the government monopoly of the LCBO. The rape and murder of a 13 year old boy, Emmanuel Jaques, prompted a cleanup in late 1977. Two decades later saw Toronto's last dry neighborhood, the Junction, repeal its alcohol ban. Just yesterday a CBC news report mentioned the possibility of selling the LCBO and allowing the sale of alcohol in other stores. 

What has not changed is Toronto's habit of being governed by elites. After the War of 1812, the governing elite was known as the Family Compact. While Canada has never had a hereditary nobility, the upper classes and governing elite filled the void. The Family Compact was characterized by its conservative nature, Tory affiliation and loyalty to the established church and class. Like any elite, it dictated the social mores, customs and values of Toronto society.

The character of today's New Family Compact has changed markedly from that of years past. It has moved from a conservative elite to a liberal elite. Often they are far more propertied than the lower classes they champion. In Toronto's Beaches neighborhood it is a running joke that all you need to do to start a flurry of community activism is mention the words "group home" in a conversation. The fact is that social services of various kinds decline markedly once you get east of Broadview. Check out the Toronto 211 website and see for yourself. The NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome is alive and well. Low income housing may well be a problem but don't you dare build one of those high rise complexes here. In my neighborhood the dog grooming parlors outnumber grocery stores four to one.

Like its 19th century counterpart, the New Family Compact is the arbiter of social mores and morals. However rather than traditional family values it espouses a sort of genteel liberality and a secular orthodoxy. The one thing that is not permitted is to espouse a morality that is at odds with this secular orthodoxy.  I have caused raised eyebrows by letting it be known that I am Catholic at a party. The real shocker was my claim that the four years I spent being taught by Dominican nuns were my best school years. Appearances are important as is political correctness. A well dressed, politically correct George Smitherman is to be preferred to an overweight, unattractive and crude Rob Ford in spite of the fact that both men are notorious for an inability to foster consensus. 

Let's be honest here... in large part what we are dealing with is stereotypes and amalgamation induced political tension. As American syndicated columnist Dave Barry puts it:

"Do we truly believe that ALL red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying roadkill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that ALL blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?"

I wish I could come up with a Canadian who could put it just as well.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

All Nuns Are Miko

This phrase is no doubt completely meaningless to you unless you watch an inordinate amount of Japanese anime, as I do. Let me explain. Miko are shrine maidens who perform various functions in a Shinto shrine. They may perform ceremonial dances, tell fortunes or even sell souvenirs. It is not necessarily a full time occupation and it may be filled by a university student working her way through school. It has little of the sort of religious commitment we would associate with nuns. When anime writers and producers need to portray a Catholic nun, they will dress her in some semblance of a religious habit and she may wear a cross but there the similarity ends. In the absence of any cultural context there is nothing for them to draw upon to flesh out the character. Naturally they draw upon the only thing they are familiar with. Hence in anime, all nuns are miko. This is not meant in a disparaging way... it is simply the way things are.

Christianity arrived in Japan in the 16th century with Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries, the most famous of whom was St. Francis Xavier. By the 1630's Christianity was outlawed in Japan but the churches planted by these early missionaries went underground. These became the Kakure Krisitan or hidden Christians. These Japanese Catholics continued to practice their faith in secret, meeting in homes and secret rooms. When religious freedom was restored in the mid 19th century, some 30,000 of these secret Christians came out of hiding and rejoined the Catholic Church. 

Between 1603 and 1639 many of these Japanese Catholics were martyred. In 2008 Pope Benedict beatified 188 of these martyrs. During WW2, a group of Jesuits survived the bombing of Hiroshima and a group of Franciscans survived the bombing of Nagasaki.

Today the Catholic Church has about 500,000 members in Japan.

Venerable English College celebrates Anniversary with the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI on December 3rd, visited the Venerable English College in Rome, on the occasion of its 650th Anniversary. Present was retired Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. 

Through God’s grace, the Catholic community of England and Wales is blessed with a long tradition of zeal for the faith and loyalty to the Apostolic See. At much the same time as your Saxon forebears were building the Schola Saxonum, establishing a presence in Rome close to the tomb of Peter, Saint Boniface was at work evangelizing the peoples of Germany. So as a former priest and Archbishop of the See of Munich and Freising, which owes its foundation to that great English missionary, I am conscious that my spiritual ancestry is linked with yours. Earlier still, of course, my predecessor Pope Gregory the Great was moved to send Augustine of Canterbury to your shores, to plant the seeds of Christian faith on Anglo-Saxon soil. The fruits of that missionary endeavour are only too evident in the six-hundred-and-fifty-year history of faith and martyrdom that distinguishes the English Hospice of Saint Thomas à Becket and the Venerable English College that grew out of it.
The full address may be read here

Monday 3 December 2012

Chesterton on Christian virtues gone mad

I came across this remarkable reflection the other day by Chesterton. As is (or should be) well known, Chesterton was not a man for a loss of words. Unlike most men, however, his words usually made an effective point.  The following is timeless: whether it applies to the fickle Jews of the Old Testament, or the modern day Catholic - true religion also is about common sense. A good thing isolated from another good thing becomes a bad thing. The virtues are a "package deal"; detach one from the rest and it becomes a distortion, a caricature. Justice without mercy becomes cold, malignant, ruthless and so on. 

This total lack of common sense in our society was also recently reflected in the "gotcha on a technicality" mentality vis-a-vis Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. This is not a political blog, but the story of the removal of an elected official by what amounts to a judicial coup is reflective of a society that lacks common sense. And a senseless society sooner or later will run after sensation: usually of some fascistic nature. 

"When a religious scheme is shattered it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful."

"Orthodoxy", by G.K Chesterton 

Saturday 1 December 2012

Solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Toronto Traditional Mass Society (Toronto Latin Mass) is pleased to announce that there will be a Solemn Latin Mass to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  Mass will be at 11:00 a.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church (5440 Durie Road) Mississauga, Ontario.