Shut up, they explained

 Don't be a conspiracy theorist, they said. Follow the experts, they said.




OSHA and vaccine injury reporting

President Biden is seeking to enforce his Covid mandates via OSHA, the bureaucracy that manages occupational health and safety standards for workers. It's a huge agency with an endless labyrinth of rules, a sort of Circumlocution Office for Regulations producing a never-ending cascade of laws-that-aren't-laws in the "enacted by Congress" meaning of laws (the only real meaning, of course, speaking Constitutionally). 

It should be of interest, given the undeniable fact that Covid deaths are not counted according to previous metrics (and thus are not comparable to them) and vaccine harm is not counted except in a passive manner, that OSHA's bureaucrats have determined that for the sake of vaccine compliance, they will not be enforcing the Code of Federal Regulations' requirements to record workers' side effects from Covid vaccinations "at least through May 2022." 

From the OSHA Coronavirus FAQs (go to "vaccines"):


 Why? 

"OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and does not wish to disincentivize employers' vaccination efforts."

So when reports of everything going fine in the workplace as more and more employees get vaccinated come out, keep all this in mind. We won't actually know, will we, what the effects from vaccines mandated via OSHA are. The outcome is self-fulfilling.


Resist the Covid Pass

"What's the big deal? Yes, there's Covid panic -- don't respond with vaccine panic!"

This is what I have seen some say. But is it panic to see the Covid vaccines as different and representing a qualitative change in how the state uses its power over citizens?

Please read this article: Covid Pass in Lithuania and throughout Europe: How recent vaccine mandate laws have upended my family's life

We live in the small European country of Lithuania. In the last few months, strict Covid Pass restrictions have been introduced which represent a fundamental transformation in society.

... But as I'll explain, it's not just Lithuania. Covid Pass restrictions are being imposed throughout Europe. By my count, at least 14 European countries now have different types of domestic restrictions based on the Covid Pass. And every country has travel restrictions within Europe based on the Covid Pass.

Please click and read -- there are many pictures of life there. Everyone masked. Police at the entrances to malls. People needing to scan their pass in for the least activity. Just a dystopian, ugly, anomic world for no reason. Don't believe me? Search your own state's health dashboard and see for yourself: what the ICU numbers are, how many beds are available (keeping in mind that hospitals aim to make money and want to be at near-capacity at all times, and lack the flexibility to add more beds when needed, due to government regulations), what the "cases" (by which they mean positive tests) are. News media don't even mention Covid death numbers anymore, except the random one for the sake of ratcheting up the fear. However, hospitalizations and deaths from the vaccines themselves are kept quiet.

Why doesn't the author just get the vaccine already? 

My wife and I are not opposed to Covid vaccinations. Vaccination can be beneficial for many people. It's a personal medical decision which should be made by each individual in consultation with their doctor.

What we strongly oppose are vaccine mandates. The government should not force us to undergo a medical treatment against our will. Our rights as citizens should not be restricted because we do not undergo this medical treatment.

Medical exemptions: only allergies

We oppose the Opportunity Pass out of principle. We believe that Covid-vaccine mandates are wrong in all circumstances.

But in our own case, we have a further issue.

My wife has a long-term progressive disease. Based on data from both the vaccine trials and countries which publish real-world side-effect statistics, we are worried that the vaccine could trigger serious side effects in the short-term, or worsen her condition in the long-term.

No one should be required to be injected with a substance to participate in society. People can evaluate relative risk for themselves. Never in the history of the world have healthy people been restricted this way, indefinitely.

The author of the article, Gluboco Lietuva, tweeted

Government approval to exist in society. Banishment based on arbitrary rules. Recording of all people's movements. 

That’s not health; it’s control and power.

This new authoritarian control will only grow to ban ever more behavior as bureaucrats push to expand their power. It's not panic to want to resist our country becoming Lithuania. It's not panic to resist the US becoming Australia -- to acquiesce to the bureaucratic state irrationally insisting that there never be another Covid case again, or else we lose our freedom. 

The mandates are wrong and must be opposed.  

Lame (yet effective) Paganism

I was remarking to my husband (who is Phil Lawler -- you should follow him) that what struck me about the undeniable paganism of the Pachamama cult is how very, very banal it is. 

"It's so lame. It's people in t-shirts bowing down, sort of, before a plywood 2ft. high goddess. It doesn't rise to the level of paganism. Give me some scary paganism so I can grapple with it. I can't even, with this Boomer polyester thing they have going here."

He just unleashed it -- the perfect description: 

"It's Novus Ordo paganism."

Yes. It's valid, no question about it -- we are suffering its effects even as we speak, two years to this day.

 It's just not very inspiring, as idols and idolatry go, and maybe that is our downfall, because we couldn't quite grapple with it -- we are too used to ambiguity and too used to glossing over unfitting things. But I have a feeling the reckoning will come upon us, regardless.






Janet Smith on the fake theology of vaccine promoters in the Church

If you're attacked (and yes, it's an attack) by someone in the Church to accept the Covid vaccines against your will, I urge you to read Janet Smith's article: The Fake Theology behind Vaccine Mandates. Janet recently retired from the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Her impressive academic credentials don't prevent her from writing a spirited and readable essay!

She rightly observes that most arguments rely on authority, not good reasoning. But what authority? The most important point she makes is that the decision to accept or reject a medical procedure is a prudential one. 

Therefore, such prudential decisions cannot be made under authority -- no authority can do more than simply offer principles. The principles in the case of the Covid vaccines tend more towards rejecting them than accepting them -- but that is my determination and opinion. Yours might be different. In the matter of a particular treatment, one must decide for oneself (or for one's children or other legal dependents).

Prof. Smith considers it deceptive that those urging vaccination, (and even, incredibly, approving of or enabling mandates), though they rest their argument on authority, fail to cite the most authoritative statement to this effect: "At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary." (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-Covid-19 Vaccines)  

However, as she points out: "None of these documents, however, have the degree of magisterial authority to require assent; they are all low-level documents or non-magisterial statements that cannot impose obligations on Catholics."

"Lumen Gentium 25 [cited as authority for getting the vaccines] cannot possibly apply: so far as I know, no respectable theologian has ever claimed that the authority of the papal magisterium extends to whether or not an individual should get a vaccine, any vaccine, let alone an experimental vaccine. The Holy Father is not an expert on the health risks of a virus or the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and even if he were, again, papal authority does not extend to such matters."

Her whole argument should be read by everyone and shared widely with pastors and others pushing vaccines and mandates on the faithful.

I would like to add a few notes of my own:

1. Among other prudential considerations, the implications are obviously dire if we acquiesce to the power of the state to force a medical procedure on the populace, particularly one that infringes on bodily integrity, including even a passive acceptance of other institutions (corporations, schools, medical facilities, and so on) making the procedure a condition of participation. 

In this case the procedure is touted as life-saving (something questionable even by the authorities' own metrics and definitions, which change daily) Even the vaccines' manufacturers claim no more than that they will alleviate symptoms -- not that they will prevent death or even transmission), and they do carry significant risks. 

In another case the procedure could be overtly life-threatening. It's already established, and scandalously not opposed by our moral leaders, that children can be taken for an abortion or to be implanted with a contraception without parental consent or knowledge. 

We simply must be aware of where this power has already led and could lead and not be naive about the larger context. 

2. Janet points out:

Yes, the “Note” does speak of the “duty to pursue the common good” but implicitly acknowledges that there may be other ways to protect the common good and also, extremely importantly, that those who have a conscientious objection to vaccines produced from cell lines from aborted fetuses, if they work to protect the vulnerable, need not get a COVID-19 vaccine. [my emphasis]

I must add that the CDF's "Note" overreaches here in imposing an extra responsibility on those refusing the vaccine, as if we don't have positive reasons. Again, these theologians are not medical experts. They are accepting government authority's claims. The burden of protecting the vulnerable falls on all, not only those who do not take the vaccine. 

Everyone must take reasonable precautions such as normal (not obsessive) washing of hands, staying home when sick, and not coughing and sneezing on others. Some have pointed out the considerable evidence that it's the vaccinated who put the vulnerable at risk. This is certainly the case for other (actual) vaccines. It's known (though not widely so) that those receiving certain vaccines are responsible for outbreaks of the very diseases their shots protect against. 

At the same time, no one has the right not to die of natural causes. Life is about assessing risks and making decisions. We would be paralyzed -- and actually end up endangering others -- if we considered ourselves ultimately responsible for risks to others that we can't actually control.

3. Janet points out that those insisting on the vaccines give "no consideration to the fact that people have no obligation to use experimental medicines or procedures. The Declaration on Euthanasia (section 4) makes it clear that patients may use experimental means but that they need not do so if they judge the risk to be too great."

She is right. 

But additionally, it simply has to be stated that one has the right to bodily integrity, and therefore one is not under an obligation to undergo any medical treatment one wishes to avoid. Society may have the right to quarantine a contagious person (but would have to demonstrate the need and be subject to recourse in law). But as far as requiring that someone undergo a procedure such as an injection that violates bodily integrity, no. 

4. Pope Pius XI stated in the encyclical Casti Connubii paragraph 70 the position of the Church in her teaching role: "Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason." 

Anyone claiming to argue from authority in the Catholic Church must grapple with this statement and the larger support of practical wisdom and conscience that the Church has always maintained.





Attention to hygiene

Anent my previous post about Holy Communion on the tongue, and how strange it is that our hierarchy seems to have successfully indoctrinated the majority of the faithful in the hygienic myth that on the hand is safer, and in honor of the new collection of some writings of Fr. Paul Mankowski, SJ (more to come -- one edited by my husband and another by another friend of Father's), I reproduce here in full an email conversation of note*:

From Fr. Mankowski to three friends, circa August 2020:

"Receive this mask as a sign of craven submission, and future docility, before the moral faddisms of profane elitist authority.  May CNN, Disney, and Under Armour, who have begun this work in you, bring it to fulfillment ..."



From me to three friends:

That is a nice effort at parody, but in future I suggest that you try something not so close to reality -- the effect is better. I realize that things in the parody business are getting more difficult, but try harder.

I can't help remembering that some years ago (I've lost track), the sanitizer bottle made its way onto the credence table. Now at our parish (which truly is one of the better ones), there is a bottle on a pedestal -- yes, a small pedestal -- in a few places in front of the sanctuary and at the entries.

We call this "organic development of liturgy" and "authentic inculturation."

The sanitizing of the celebrants' hands is a nice addition, as is the paten with the hosts to be distributed placed some inches away from the main one, and the positioning of the concelebrant 6 feet away from the altar (specifics are on file at the diocesan offices). **

I heard last night from a friend that in his diocese (Joliet?), Communion was distributed through a slot in the plexiglass -- it made it difficult but not impossible! for him to receive on the tongue...

Future historians and archeologists will have a fine time documenting all of this when the remains of our faith are dug up...

 

From Fr. Mankowski to three friends: 

I can't help remembering that some years ago (I've lost track), the sanitizer bottle made its way onto the credence table.

When you think of how many hundreds of millions of hosts were placed on hundreds of millions of tongues in Catholic churches, the practice itself should have long served as an epidemiological benchmark -- from the very beginning of epidemiology, in fact -- if transmission of disease thereby ever reached the faintest statistically measurable level.  Given the attention to hygiene of the average priest over the past centuries, the insignificance of the morbidity stats points, if anything, to the miraculous properties of the consecrated host. 


*Sorry for the shock value that readers might find herein, but Fr. M was not a tame servant of the Lion. 

**For Fr. M's parody of this careful, Covid-aware placement of the paten, go here.


Wigner's Friend, Schroedinger's Cat, and Relativism

Stacy Transancos makes an important argument about limited knowledge, and how we shouldn't mistake it for a failure to know, pure and simple. She examines a re-upping of a tangled ontological problem, called Wigner's Friend, a riff on Schroedinger's Cat, and clarifies it admirably. (She also describes both logical problems, so be sure to read the article!)

I recommend reading it with your high school kids too. Relativism is all around us. The unsuspecting can be taken in by it, but it's a fallacy. 

How so? 

Well, it's quite simple. Is the statement "all truth is relative" a true statement? If so, then it contradicts itself. If not, then the opposite is true, that all truth is objective.

Stacy supplies this quote from the article she is refuting: 

“So the next time your friends think something is or isn’t the case, consider interjecting with an argument from quantum physics: they’re both wrong, and so are you, because even the simple fact of the disagreement itself is just another illusion.”

So the author makes an assertion: what you are thinking is an illusion. Including thinking that "all thinking is an illusion"? If so, then that thought -- that all thinking is an illusion -- is an illusion, and thus, meaningless. Therefore, we can't really conclude anything, including whether it's true, by it; it's meaningless and defeats itself. If it's not an illusion, if it's true, then it asserts except this thought. If even one thought -- that one -- is objectively true, that is, true apart from the person saying it, then the statement is incorrect. So truth is objective after all!

It can never be the case that all truth is relative. 


Why so committed to Holy Communion in the hand?

I have a simple theory about why the Church today is so committed to the laity taking Holy Communion in the hand -- so committed that although HC on the tongue is, as a norm, the proper way, and in the hand, the dispensation, it is quite difficult to find accommodation in your normal Novus Ordo parish -- especially now in the Covid age. 

Why?

Why so rigid an adherence to an alien practice? 

What is so important to our contemporaries about this way of receiving, when up until recently, relatively speaking, on the tongue was the only way (very primitive practice notwithstanding)

Well, I was observing priests concelebrating and noticing that they held the Host until the main celebrant communicated, at which time the others too consumed theirs. Of course, I have seen this thousands of times. But suddenly it struck me that the versus populum (towards the people) posture of the priest makes his consumption of the Host visible to the congregation, and concelebration (also a Novus Ordo innovation) prolongs and emphasizes the gesture.

In a flash I saw -- and perhaps others have written about this, but it's a real revelation to me -- that in the Vatican II ecclesiology, the priest is not meant to be as separate and set apart as in the old. He is dislodged from his hierarchic role. As the years from the Council rolled on, the lines became blurred, intentionally. Many observers have commented on this trend. James Hitchcock put it well here:

Lay and clerical roles have been redefined in a way which almost seems like a simple reversal: lay people press forward eagerly to discharge formal liturgical tasks previously reserved to clerics, while priests and religious aggressively crowd into what were previously considered lay professions, even (as in the case of certain nuns in politics) renouncing their religious status in order to do so. Devout lay people seem to say that they cannot fully live their faith unless they perform recognizably priestly tasks, even as priests complain of being confined in the sanctuary. It may occur to the disinterested observer that such reversals betoken not so much deeper understanding or creative redefinition as simple confusion and formless discontent.

Well, after years of watching priests self-communicate (and maybe it didn't take too long; these things often don't), the laity, or perhaps I should say certain opportunistic innovators, felt a need to do things just the way the priest does them; in short, to self-communicate rather than to receive the Host on the tongue, kneeling. In fact, one serious sacrilege that I used to observe is Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (that is, laypeople) going around the altar and taking the Host directly from the paten -- the way a concelebrating priest does. For a long time now I have taken care to stay away from such churches if possible, so I don't know if this abuse is still occurring.

The more I think about it, the more I see a straight line from the priest turning to face the people to the concelebrated Mass to the people (or unwittingly, their agents) insisting on Holy Communion in the hand. Counterfactually, this mode is the preferred and normal one. And yet, it's the result of a distortion of the roles of priest and laity. 

I really urge any reader who does not already receive Holy Communion on the tongue to pray and read about it. I believe that our Holy Communions need to be as reverent as possible. 




Asking the right question

 ... is much more than half the battle!

Or to put it another way, he who demands that a certain question be answered controls the conversation.

Ever had this feeling? That you are going around and around... that you have answered the question, in this case, "Do you believe the Novus Ordo Mass is valid," over and over, and yet you are still in the same wrangle, getting nowhere?

Well, this essay -- and I won't deceive you, it's long --  offers that blessed sense of release only found when the right question is finally asked.

In Cancelling Pope Benedict: Reflections on a recent article and the “hermeneutic of rupture, a priest responds to a defense of Pope Francis' Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, making this important point at the end (I have highlighted it for you):

Here we have yet another rearguard attempt to achieve the permanent institutionalization of the “hermeneutic of rupture” which Benedict XVI had dedicated his pontificate to combatting. We are told in this article that with his motu proprio, “Francis defended both the liturgical reform of Vatican II and the council’s ecclesiology,” but that “to be more thorough...Francis should correct a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) from 2007, which asserts that Vatican II did not change the doctrine on the church.” In the rest of the article we can easily see the point: the author seems to bang his fist on the table and insist, But, yes! Vatican II really did change everything! Nothing can be the same anymore! You can’t believe like they did before the Council and you can’t worship like they did the before the Council! Although the author slams those he calls “Lefebvrists,” it seems not to occur to him that he shares their basic thesis that “Vatican II changed everything,” disagreeing only on whether the change was good or bad.


The importance of this article -- the decisive importance that I hope everyone will internalize -- is the author's question, which is bolded in the original, and which addresses the main thrust of the Motu Proprio:

The pressing problem in the Church today, then, is not: Do traditionalists accept Vatican II, but rather: Do the anti-traditionalists accept everything that came before Vatican II? The common lot of people attending Latin Masses today do “accept Vatican II,” inasmuch as it was legitimately convened and concluded by legitimate popes; yet they are not willing to let “accepting Vatican II” be a pretext or an occasion for rejecting or neglecting what came before Vatican II. And this is the real reason for the rage of the anti-traditionalists.

This point is what those who love tradition have trouble articulating, simply because we are always on the defensive, answering that other question of whether we consider the Novus Ordo valid. We are never allowed to get to the point, which is that we need more than mere validity to flourish, and that a bare adherence to not being invalid is ultimately corrupting of matters beyond liturgy, like doctrine and morality.

By the way, I include in "those who love tradition" people like myself, who up until recently considered ourselves "Reform of the Reform," Ratzingerian Novus Ordo faithful -- that is, not Traditionalists with a capital T. I understand that many will have in mind those who had always insisted on cleaving to the old form, but it's important to recognize Catholics like me who thought a "mutual enrichment" could be achieved and to understand why we we are puzzled that we didn't win out on something that to us seemed rather self-evident. 

We had thought and trusted, really, that reverence and true worship was actively being sought in at least some parts of the hierarchy who were faithful to Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. With this Pontiff, have realized that our hope is in vain. Better late than never!

The liturgical situation, made so (uncharacteristically) clear by Pope Francis, leaves us then with no choice. We simply cannot accept a liturgy that has within itself the mechanism to become ever more banal and worldly, and the custodians of which demonstrate that they consider it to be in rupture with the past. 

That realization can feel like it puts us in the wrong, until we see that it's our defensive posture that creates that impression. We must stop accepting the premise that validity equals sufficiency. Yes, we think the NO is valid, but we also don't think that the barest legalism, affirmed by that response, can provide a fruitful path for what is, after all, the whole reason for our existence -- to worship God. 

Only when we ask the correct question -- does the anti-traditionalist accept everything that came before Vatican II -- that is, is our interlocutor in fact a Catholic -- do we recover the proper orientation. 

I urge you to read the whole thing. It's very freeing.






Round up part 2: Afghanistan

Some observers compared how we left Vietnam to how we left Afghanistan -- not everyone agreed that the episodes have anything to do with each other, but the same thought came to me. I have read a lot about the Hmong people and how the US used them to accomplish certain goals in an area where it was difficult to get the nationals to fight effectively. Later, we nearly abandoned them. Similarities with the plight of the translators in Afghanistan came to mind. Here is one account of the heart-pounding story of the Fall of Saigon: Enemy at the gate: The history-making, chaotic evacuation of Saigon, (although it does not mention the Hmong and how this rescue effort was in part motivated by the need to get them out, and accomplished with their help. I will try to find some other story that goes into that) -- and parallels with the crisis in Afghanistan.

Our reigning ideology of decadent progressivism (and its insistence that we remain "safe" no matter what the cost) is making us vulnerable to actual danger, and we don't even realize it. The fall of Afghanistan and the resurgence of radical Islam

Indeed, many of our miscalculations in Afghanistan seem to be based directly on the same kind of magical thinking that now plagues our schools, our city councils and even our military. In times of crisis, we rely on our military to keep a level head when dealing with an enemy like the Taliban. But it now appears that our military was one of the first institutions to succumb to “woke” doctrine—that is, to wishful thinking. Like the radical activists who called for defunding the police. radical generals enthusiastically supported programs which led to a moral disarmament of the troops.


"The Afghanistan Commandos are the only force in the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) that actually fight and win. They have done so since we began building them, first with the CIA, then with our own Special Forces. They were known as the only force that had no tribal affiliation and were the only force in the country that would fight for the state of Afghanistan regardless of the human terrain. And they were really good. At one point, toward the end, they were conducting upwards of 90 percent of all combat actions inside the country — strained to the breaking point but succeeding with the support of the United States.

"And then we pulled the support."

 

 


 

Bringing priests into balance

Clericalism, the disorder of clergy who arrogate authority to their own persons, is rampant -- we are really suffering from it. This age, the post-conciliar one, was supposed to usher in a new ascendence of the People of God, the laity; instead, we have priests thinking they are owed abject obedience for the merest prudential considerations (where in the past they would not have thought to venture) and laypeople unable to assert their God-given ability to judge circumstances. 

I concur with Peter Kwasniewski's analysis of the root of the problem of clericalism, which centers on The Priest Praying for Himself at Mass

What might have been “self-evident truths” once upon a time are no longer evident to many clergy, to their superiors, and to their flocks. One of these truths is staggeringly obvious, yet its implications seem to be not only ignored, but suppressed: the priest, too, has a soul to sanctify and save.

He demonstrates what has been lost in today's worship: the prayers at the Mass that the priest says for himself, for his sanctification, for his worthiness. Certainly, clericalism would be much mitigated if the priest could be reminded, daily, that he ought to be humble, that God is ready to humble him, and that humility is a condition much to be sought after.

Nearly all of these prayers [from the Traditional Latin Mass, reproduced in the article] were simply struck from Paul VI’s Order of Mass, which is denuded and exiguous by comparison, and which, practically speaking, is almost totally extroverted and procedural in nature. It barely addresses the subjective disposition of the one offering or his need for preparation. It hardly touches on his unworthiness and need for purification and mercy. It includes remarkably few signs by which an observer unfamiliar with the Catholic Faith could detect that something wondrous, astonishing, and awesome is taking place, before which angels veil their faces and men beat their breasts.

What were the reformers thinking? For them, the prayers of the priest for himself must have looked like exaggerated medieval piety and devotionalism, too introspective and clericocentric; the liturgy is “for the people,” after all. But this is manifestly a false view both of what liturgy is and of what these specific prayers are meant to accomplish.

With the Novus Ordo, priests do not, as a matter of ritual, pray these prayers (such prayers as "Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man…. Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have conducted me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles…. To Thee, O God, my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul, and why dost thou disquiet me?... deliver me by this Thy most Sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities, and from every evil; make me always cleave to Thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from Thee... Let not the partaking of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, all unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgement and condemnation; but through Thy loving kindness may it be to me a safeguard and remedy for soul and body... " -- and more!). 

Because they are deprived of this ritual of penitential prayer in the midst of the transcendent task they undertake in celebrating the mysteries, I wonder if the effect is to deprive them of the conviction that they must pray, full stop. Personal, intimate prayer is in short supply these days, I think. Seldom are we in the pew reminded that prayer will save our souls. As St. Alphonsus Liguori said, "The man who prays is saved; the man who does not pray is lost." 

I read that great spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate as a new convert; it transformed my spiritual life. In re-reading it many years later, I was surprised that I hadn't quite understood that it's meant for priests (but I still recommend it to you!). Jean-Baptiste Chautard is not shy about warning priests of the danger to their souls if they do not have an interior life, fed by the Masses they are saying and of course by the indispensable time of meditation -- prayer -- where one is present to God on a daily basis. This prayer is what he calls the soul of the apostolate. His message is that no one can hope to bring Christ to others if he has exhausted the interior well of his own soul by neglecting prayer, and the need for prayer begins with a sense of unworthiness.

I watched the first installment of the Mass of the Ages film. The most compelling part was hearing from the priests that saying the Traditional Latin Mass changed now they experienced their priesthood, bringing them into closer personal contact with God by means of the prayers of the Mass. The film does a service by presenting priests who can express the difference between the two forms/rites, the one nourishing a proper humility, the other, sad to say, building up a sense of entitlement. I would love to hear more from them.

The very first time a little chink of light came into my (reform of the reform-oriented) liturgical consciousness was when a dear priest friend related to me his experience of almost losing his vocation; he was rescued by learning and saying the Traditional Latin Mass. That testimony was quite unexpected. Before our conversation, I only thought of my perspective from the pew (even though I admit, I always found something in the priest's demeanor, even when he was trying to be reverent, that gave me pause, and I did at least subconsciously relate it to the way the Mass is celebrated). 

I thought, "Well, that makes sense to me. The prayers of the old Mass do seem deeper for the priest; but it's better for the people to know what's going on and not be so distant." Only gradually did I realize that if the priest's soul isn't being fed in his very vocation, the people will be left hungry, no matter how physically close to the altar they come or how much they understand about their participation. 

To circle back to Peter's article, the old Mass demonstrably invests the priest with a greater sense of the importance of his actions; simultaneously, it divests him of any thought that he is in a position to offer worship because of his personal importance

Clericalism is identifying the priest with Christ (or with authority in general) in an inappropriate way. It is the error that posits the priesthood is an identity; it views the faithful as assuming a role: the role of audience, of "participators," of would-be priests if only given jobs to do in the sanctuary. This attitude that the priesthood conveys status (rather than servitude) on the man spills over into life, where priests seem to expect honor for who they are, rather than what they do. Only the traditional rites, of which there are many, emphasize this distinction between man and action -- even more than the Latin rite, the Eastern ones give more of a role to the deacon and place the priest behind the iconostasis where he can hardly be seen. Only the Novus Ordo creates a situation where this distinction can be performatively denied. 

The priesthood is an indelible mark on the man, but the priest acts in persona Christi when he accomplishes what the Church asks of him. He takes on a role. This is the significance of the prayers highlighted in the article, as well as of other matters, such as the vestments that cover him. These things not only radiate a beauty of their own, they cover the man in order to remind him of his, in a sense, imposture; they nearly obliterate him, so that he can perform the rites as they must be performed, that is to say, by the High Priest, Christ Himself. It's also why he speaks in the name of Christ and not in his own name when he absolves sin in the sacrament of Confession.

The Novus Ordo strips those reminders away and creates an identity (and I am using this word separately from the indelible mark) between the man and the person doing the opus Dei of the rites. It allows the priest to impose his personality, using that word with precision, rather than Christ's PERSON-ality. The modern priest is taught that he doesn't need heavy vestments, he doesn't need a prayer of unworthiness. By being a priest he is encouraged to see himself as, well, worthy. 

James Hitchcock wrote about this paradox:

The celebrant of the Mass is now often called the “presider”, in order to minimize his hierarchical role and the idea that he represents Christ in some special way. But ironically, this has led to a new and exaggerated clericalism. In the traditional liturgy the identity of the celebrant was largely irrelevant. But, as Max Weber pointed out, in times of confusion and destruction, authority shifts to the personality of the “charismatic leader”, who appears to understand the movement of history and offers the guidance that established structures no longer provide. As many commentators have noted, a possibly unintended effect of the celebrant’s facing the people at Mass is to emphasize his personality and his “style” of celebration. [My note, after many years have gone by: I'm not sure now that this effect was unintended]

The laity on the other hand are... the laity. We appear at Mass in our own personae. We don't have any particular things we must do outwardly (as a matter of ritual, though perhaps as a matter of good behavior) because we don't have to demonstrate that we are taking on any role. There are lay people who appropriate clericalism! They assume authority because they are lectors or EMHCs or Help Father Out With Everything. They are a nuisance!

Even more, although men and women both are receptive in relation to God, women are more receptive than men by nature. So women are better at being laity than men, and men are better at showing that they are taking on a role. Thus, it's not offensive for a layman to serve a Mass, although he is not ordained, but a woman in the sanctuary can't help looking out of her natural place and somehow betraying her identity. Our Lady is the highest creature, you know. The honor of our race.  Her femininity suits her rank, and no man could usurp it. 

We need the old prayers, because it's not good for us and it's not good for him that the priest believes the deception that he is pretty good, all things considered. We start to think the same about ourselves. And that is how we are in this wretched state.

As Peter Kwasniewski says in his article:

May more and more priests discover this truth and embrace it wholeheartedly, for their benefit, as well as for the benefit of the faithful, living and dead. A holy and zealous priest, plunged into the mysteries of Christ, united with the Savior’s own prayer before the throne of grace, will always benefit the people of God far more than the people-centered or outward-oriented priest that the postconciliar era sought and still seeks to produce.