Richard Chonak: November 2003 Archives

Another way to be bought and sold

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What goes around comes around: the immoral medical techniques vaunted as great breakthroughs create new opportunities for treating people as things.

UK authorities have banned a scheme that would, in effect, pay infertile women who seek in vitro fertilization. Under the proposal, women would undergo extra rounds of treatment to stimulate egg production and give all the eggs from those treatments away.

The payoff of about £2000 -- call it $3400 -- per cycle would come in the form of a price discount on the lady's own IVF procedures.

If we're willing to treat our own offspring -- our human embryos -- as the object of production techniques, including the selection of desired ones, freezing of surplus, and disposal of those rejected -- well, we can't be surprised if people try to treat the woman's body as an object, an egg factory that can be rented.

A side-altar wedding?


A friend of mine sometimes answers questions from non-Catholics over the Internet, and he recently got a puzzling e-mail from a man interested in the Faith. The gentleman and his Catholic wife were apparently married in a Protestant ceremony (presumably without a dispensation). His wife has been under the impression that if he becomes Catholic and they marry in the Church, the ceremony would "have to" be conducted at a side altar.

I'm not familiar with that practice, though according to what I find on the 'net, it apparently used to be customary for mixed marriages to be solemnized away from the main altar of a church. Does anyone know when this practice went away? Was it a matter of law?

In this couple's case, if he becomes Catholic, it won't be a mixed marriage, so even if the rule were still in place, it wouldn't seem to apply. All in all, the lady's concern may be unnecessary.

Thanks be to God!

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A little news from the moderate-trad front: it's finally happened: a celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal in St. Peter's, in connection with a meeting of Una Voce.

A peek at the BDW

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The Book of Divine Worship arrived the other day; it's a large and attractively designed volume for the Anglican-use liturgy, including propers for Sundays and Holy Days, formulas for the Daily Office, the Holy Eucharist, the rites of Holy Baptism, Holy Matrimony, and Burial of the Dead; and two versions of the Psalter. It's distributed by "Our Lady's Dowry" in San Antonio.

The mystery of turkeys

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A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, He has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished.

G.K. Chesterton

Numbers on the hymn-board


Thanksgiving Day has an unusual position in the religious life of America: with its lore linked to the settlement in Massachusetts, it is basically a celebration of the country's founding and Protestant heritage. And it's nearly universally observed: the one high holy day of American Protestant communities. Even anti-liturgical fundamentalists who don't believe in holy days can be expected to have a morning service on the fourth Thursday in November. Americanism vincit omnia.

The hymns of Thanksgiving Day just beg to be sung by a confident congregation. Here are two:

(Note: Some of the pages at the following links have embedded music files.)

We gather together
Come, ye thankful people, come
And now, your suggestions?

Yes, Fatima will remain Catholic


An article circulating among traditionalists charges that the sanctuary at Fatima is "to become an interfaith shrine", according to statements at a recent conference:

Delegates attending the Vatican and United Nations (UN) inspired annual interfaith congress "The Future of God", held during October in Fátima, heard how the Shrine is to be developed into a centre where all the religions of the world will gather to pay homage to their various gods. The Congress was held in the Paul VI Pastoral Centre and presided over by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon José de Cruz Policarpo.
The discerning reader will recognize right away that this is agitprop, a story perhaps with some basis, but spun to the max, in this case by people who have an interest in making the Vatican look as if it were betraying the faith. The Lefebvrites organized a protest at the site; the Grunerite press's representative is appalled that an interfaith conference would be held at Fatima; and the whole thing is sounding through the echo chamber of the rad-trad network.

It looks like the conference was indeed an opportunity for indifferentist talk by some participants, Catholic and otherwise, but fortunately, somebody has thought to ask the Vatican representative Abp. Fitzgerald about the rumors, and he confirms that while Fatima welcomes all people to come, talk of "an interfaith shrine" is 100% bunk.

A retired American guy named Rick Salbato lives in Fatima, putting together his web site about Catholic controversies; he's provided his own take on the affair too.

The Beast is back


Hal Lindsay, call your office. Back in the '70s and '80s, Christians who worried about the use of technology for totalitarian purposes would speculate about nefarious plots with apocalyptic overtones, usually involving Euro-bureaucrats and a Big Scary-Sounding Supercomputer to be nicknamed "the Beast".

I guess it's time for such stories to start the rounds again, 'cause this technological proposal is enough to creep me out.

C.S. Lewis: 11/22/1963

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The world didn't notice his death the first time around either. Joseph Loconte remembers. (NYT, LRR)

'Tis the season to say Humbug

| 5 Comments the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Here's what I wrote about it last year, and some comments from elsewhere on the net.

Thanks to Mark Shea for the reminder.

Women building a culture of life

Denver's Archbishop Chaput gave a wide-ranging talk to a Catholic women's group last month:

The reason the secular world seeks to reinvent or reinterpret Mary is because she's dangerous. She's the model of mature human character -- a human being who co-creates a new world not through power, but through unselfish love, faith in God, and the rejection of power.

That kind of witness goes against the spirit that dominates our world -- the immaturity and selfishness in our personal consumption, our politics and our workplaces, and even within our families....
The struggle for power is what the modern world is all about.

(Thanks for the link, Genevieve.)

Two More Blogs


The Tower: Nathan Nelson has been posting on-target comments around town for a while, and his own site deserves a visit.

In Ecumenical Insanity, "Athanasius" notices the genetics researchers' latest manifestation of hubris: synthetic viruses. (His hardlinks aren't working, so look in the archives for Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003.)

Make that three. An M.I.C. brother posts a link to a cool rap video by Fr. Stan Fortuna.

Jesus lookalike still on the road

I've been wondering where this guy was. He first attracted attention at churches in PA a few years ago, but now he's around Fayetteville.

Good Orthodox smackdown


One thing I like about the Orthodox Eastern Churches: they have bishops who don't fool around with being polite about the weird heresies that come from sexual confusion.

In October, after some Russian priest performed a wedding ceremony for two guys, not only did his bishop defrock him, he had the chapel razed. I'm not saying I approve of doing that, but it does demand respect.

After the Robinson consecration in November the Russian Orthodox Church told PECUSA officially there wasn't any point in talking any more.

the 'consecration' of a gay priest has made any communications with him and with those who consecrated him impossible. We shall not be able to cooperate with these people not only in the theological dialogue, but also in the humanitarian and religious and pubic spheres. We have no right to allow even a particle of agreement with their position, which we consider to be profoundly antiChritian and blasphemous.
[Don't blame me for those two typos, folks: they're verbatim. Besides, we might get some search-engine hits out of 'em.]

The arrogant "progressives" don't hesitate to preach their false gospel even to venerable prelates, and sometimes the prelates give 'em a good smackdown. Hawk-eyed Lee Penn quotes Episcopalian bishop William Swing on his attempt to instruct the Ecumenical Patriarch:

I mentioned that I have ordained more women than any other bishop in the history of the Church and would be glad to talk about my experience. He said, 'I don't want to know your experience.' That was that.
God grant the Ecumenical Patriarch many years.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches (Armenian Apostolic, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox) have told the Episcopalians to go "reflect upon" the consecration of their gay bishop, and when the phone don't ring, you'll know it's us.

Who's left for the PECUSA to collaborate with? Just liberal Protestantism.

Thanks to Dom for posting Lee's article.

The logical end of gay marriage

| 6 Comments the end of legal marriage, argues Stanley Kurtz.

'News' from Massachusetts

ScrappleFace is on the job.

The idea of a "Lord Of The Rings mass" over in Holland made Kathy Shaidle flinch and made Mark Shea's eyes roll back into his head, but fortunately De Telegraaf describes the place as a gereformeerde church -- that's Reformed, y'all. Whew: it's not one of ours.

I guess the combination of being Dutch and Reformed doesn't mean the same thing there as it does here, given that they also held a "Harry Potter service".

It might even lead to dancing


Oh, the spirit of worldly compromise has reached Wheaton College in Illinois, that former bastion of Evangelical wholesomeness: they're not only allowing students to dance off-campus, they're letting them perform those bodily gyrations in the gymnasium of the college itself.

They probably got the idea from the late but still active radio preacher J. Vernon McGee, whose words expose him, I suppose, as a dreadful liberal:

There are lots of other preferences that are often stated as laws …
Some have said that those who dance are catering to lust. Now, I would agree that I've seen some dancing that seemed to be doing just that … but we must not say that all dancing is that way. We must not forget that many people danced for joy before the Lord.
First you let your faculty dance with their spouses at weddings off-campus, and then it's Katie bar the door.

Congratulations to Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Concord, NH, which is going to have the bishop over to bless its new perpetual adoration chapel Sunday:


The St. Pio eucharistic chapel is intended to welcome Catholics throughout the Concord deanery. It's not very big (just the right end of the house), but it's still something beautiful for God.

I was at the parish today for a workshop on identifying one's gifts and callings for lay apostolate, presented by a Dominican-sponsored lay formation outfit called the "Catherine of Siena Institute". I recommend it.

I think I have a charism for insolence, but that wasn't on the list.

It's the real thing


Got a card in the mail today from the Archdiocese:

"Dear Mr. Chonak,

Please accept my appreciation to that already extended to you by Bishop Lennon for your generous contribution to The Annual Catholic Appeal...."

Huh? Did the Development Office lay off its highly-paid proofreaders? Or is this some new technique in fund-raising mail: to keep a few solecisms and typos so that we will know the note was written by a bishop? (Exercise for the perfectionistic reader: identify them.)

[Oh, this is too cynical; I should post something more constructive than this.]

CWN reports (subscription required) that the Pontifical Council for Health Care is conducting a conference on clinical depression today through November 15, and quotes the Council's president:

Cardinal [Javier] Lozano Barragan said that depression may result from an intense fear of death, which finds no relief in a culture that has lost spiritual moorings. The Mexican prelate said that the Vatican seminar would focus particularly on the spiritual dimensions of the problem.
That seems a strange comment to me; I hope the cardinal didn't mean it as a speculation about fear of death as a general cause of depression. I'm not a physician, but my impression is that there is ample evidence that genetic factors play a major role in this disease. Besides, I'd expect intense fear of death to be considered an effect of depression.

Any shrinks out there want to sort this out?

Update: ZENIT reports on the first day of talks.

I suppose it would fair to say that the spiritual truths the Church presents to man -- in particular, the message of hope and God's love in the Gospel -- could be considered as helping a patient's "cognitive therapy" -- correcting the overly negative and self-critical thinking habits often experienced by depressed persons.

Life as a chorus member


Well, we survived our concert Saturday night, but it did provide a new "war story".

A few years ago, when I belonged to a 100-voice choir in Boston, the conductor told the group that we should know the piece we were singing well enough, and have a good enough sense of its rhythm, that if she were to fall off the stage, we should just keep going.

She'd even seem to test us sometimes during dress rehearsals by walking to the far end of the hall to check the sound while we continued the piece; and the group was often enough able to do so without a noticeable loss in the piece's execution.

I'm out in the suburbs now, in a different group with a different choral conductor, but finally it's happened for real. On Saturday, we were standing in the Episcopal parish's sanctuary -- and, by the way, have you noticed? they apparently still have altar rails, even in contemporary churches -- doing the last of four variations on Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, when all of a sudden our maestra tumbled off the two wooden boxes that comprised the podium. (The top one had suffered a partial structural failure.) She made a staggering one-foot landing as her music stand went over, and she bravely continued. Alas, the shock disrupted us too much, and she had to restart the movement.

The recording engineer said after the performance, "That one's going onto my blooper reel."

Oh, yeah, that visitation


I hadn't heard about this for a while, but Rome hasn't forgotten. During Monday's session of the USCCB meeting, Cdl. George mentioned that the Holy See had informed the bishops that it was going to run the upcoming apostolic visitation of the US seminaries. Maybe there had been some question about who was going to direct it.

Speaking of seminaries, Newsday took a look recently at the North American College.

"The Jeweler's Shop" Nov. 20 in DC

For our DC readers: a group of students at the Pope John Paul II Institute will present a staged reading of the Pope's play "The Jeweler's Shop" at the John Paul II Cultural Center on Harewood Road in Washington, November 20 at 6:30 pm. Admission is free.

For those of you discouraged by the lack of orthodox content in so many homilies, here is a sign of hope: at a suburban parish today, the young priest celebrating Mass, ordained in 2000, dared to use this explicit terminology:

As we come in a little while to receive our Blessed Lord, let us remember to thank Him for the deposit of faith He has given us through His Church.
Now if we can just bottle that and put it into the water supply at the seminary...

Cute parodies from James Louviere

Another convert to!

Fr. Sibley's Saintly Salmagundi has moved in to the "fine domain". Check out his cool clerical wear for All Souls' Day.

How to pray for your website

I'm grateful to the conservative Episcopalians at CaNN, who have been ably keeping tabs on news about the Anglican Communion as their D-Day approached over the weekend. Their site was inaccessible for part of Monday, apparently due to a DDoS attack. However, being devout souls, they turned to God in their adversity and prayed as follows:

Almighty God, who lovest mankind,
we ask you to pour down your blessings
upon the heads of our enemies and
and those who persecute us,
that our Saviour Christ may be glorified;
and according to your will, and the work of your faithful servants,
restore our website that we may once again
contend for the faith once delivered to the saints
and minister to your church and people in this time of need.
Very edifying.

And only 30 until St. Nicholas Day, if you like to give presents then!

Here's a cute item: the Nuns Having Fun calendar.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

You write, we post
unless you state otherwise.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Richard Chonak in November 2003.

Richard Chonak: October 2003 is the previous archive.

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