Recent Posts

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
Here's an even more detailed review from a well-known conservative Catholic writer who marks the book down a couple stars for the author's support of the SSPX and even (gasp!) the SSPV.

A Fraternal (if Limited) Dissent from the Acclamations for Phoenix
By James H. Toneron
February 24, 2016

Set aside at least a dozen-or-so hours to give Sire’s book the time and attention it needs, and then read it with marker in hand, for there will be innumerable passages to be underscored for future rumination. This is not a book to be read and then committed to a shelf in one’s personal library. It fairly demands, instead, a long and very thoughtful reading, followed by lengthy reflection. It will take me considerable time, for example, just to compile the notes I have taken on this erudite and encyclopedic, perspicacious and provocative, cri de coeur about what has happened to the Catholic faith after Vatican II.

The reader of Sire’s jeremiad will at once grasp the problem of the preposition after in the sentence immediately above. The collapse of the faith: is it the cause, the consequence, or the companion of Vatican Council II? If Sire’s analysis is trenchant, his literary temperament is acerbic; he may occasionally be wrong, but he is never in doubt. The result is a fascinating, if deeply flawed, book.

Sire argues that Vatican II was a “betrayal of the Church’s faith” (205), and the pontificate of Pope Paul VI was “the most disastrous pontificate in history” (363); it was he, Sire tells us, who is chiefly responsible for the “vandalism” of Vatican II (205, 273) . The Council, he says, issued “deplorable” documents (such as Gaudium et Spes [203] and Dignitatis Humanae [Ch. 13]), generally capitulated to the ignes fatui of the modern world, and effectively destroyed both the holy Mass and the priesthood. To Sire, much, if not in fact all, of the religious insanity plaguing the Church over the last fifty years is not “after” the Council but directly because of it.

Still, one need only consult the daily newspaper to confirm a key tenet of Sire’s: In today’s desacralized world, “progress is whatever conduces to the destruction of the Christian order” (158). Where do we find the Catholic champions in politics, education, the arts, and science to combat the ethical ills and the intellectual errors of our time? In the mindless moral stupor they confuse with knowledge, so many contemporary “Catholic” leaders rise with cosmic insolence to the defense of the fads, fashions, and fantasies of the day--along with monstrous evils disguised as “compassion”--and remain intransigently unrepentant about Him whom they deny (cf. Rev 21:8).

Time and again, Sire adroitly lays the ax to the horrors and heresies of Modernism, characterized by a relativism, subjectivism, and hedonism which have not just influenced but have, in fact, infected the Church and, tragically, many of its clergy. Sire is at his best—one regrets having to put it that way—in exposing what he calls the “Bugninified liturgy” (256) which came to us, he explains, from the intellectual and moral degradation of the Council. The spiritual and aesthetic vulgarities of the world (341, 345, 353) wormed their way into traditional Catholic teaching and liturgy, much to the delight of many false shepherds (especially Ch. 13; cf. 1 Tm 6:20-21).

Some of these shepherds were ignorant; some were malevolent, he writes; in any case, before Vatican II, all had taken an oath against the evil of Modernism. Two thousand bishops who had taken that oath “were unable to recognize Modernism when it jumped up and bit them” at Vatican II (140). Abandoning and traducing the teaching of Pius IX, Pius X, Leo XIII, and Pius XI, the Council surrendered, contends Sire, to a spiritually and philosophically incoherent secular ideology which has led to the triumph of barbarians (158, 154)—a position explained four decades ago by Alasdair MacIntyre (whose work, by the way, is missing from Sire’s truncated bibliography).

Sire’s ululations are, of course, generally correct. Read (better: skim), for instance, the liturgical applesauce (tip of the hat to the late Justice Scalia) found in, say, Rebuilt, which only confirms Sire’s analyses and admonitions about a Church lost in the miasma of Modernist lunacy. Masses facing the people; the abrogation of Latin, the universal and timeless language of the Church; holy Communion in the hand; beach music (and on and on)--all testify to the profanation of the holy Mass (cf. 157). “The first illusion of a decadent age,” he writes, “is blindness to its own disgrace” (149). Call it “defining deviancy down” or a twisted kind of religious Overton Window, but those thoughts and things which would have had Catholics in the 1950s looking for an exorcist have now become practically de rigueur.

The problem with Sire’s very important book lies not in an error in his thesis about the Church’s having largely surrendered to the way of the world (and the flesh and the devil), but in his merciless prosecution of men who often, if not always, deserve better. One’s reaction to Paul VI, I think, ought not to be unrelieved anger at, but, in fact, pity for, a man sadly often out of his depth. Sire makes no mention, by the way, of Paul’s courage in upholding the teaching of the faith in Humanae Vitae (1968). He stridently and superciliously opposes the “pitchforking of John Paul II into Heaven” (437), and he fails to quote so much as a passage from Evangelium Vitae, or Veritatis Splendor, or Fides et Ratio (and so many more encyclicals filled with light against the darkness), which, to Sire, seem not to exist. (Neither does he include, say, Weigel’s Witness to Hope nor its sequel The End and the Beginning in the truncated bibliography previously mentioned.) Sire questions the validity of many ordinations under the new rite (323), thinks that “the modern Catholic clergy are at best playing at being priests from a script written by Hollywood” (330), and then summarizes by suggesting (with, of course, no corroborative footnote) that since the 1960s, “no one with the semblance of a brain has entered the Catholic priesthood” (403), retreating then only very slightly from that defamation by contending that if someone, ostensibly gifted with a brain, has become a priest, he must “disguise [his] acumen.”

Read the last sentence again. Is such a comment the mark of the dispassionate scholar or an indication of a kind of churlish cognitive dissonance? The Church is full of fools and knaves; it is ever so. Yet the Church, too, by the grace of God, is filled with saints and martyrs; it is ever so. Calumniating all is not only literarily wrong; it violates the higher Commandment of Exodus 20:16. Sire chose a metaphysical shotgun to fire at an area target; he ought to have chosen a rifle to aim at point targets, of which, one must sorrowfully admit, there are too many in Christ’s Church (cf. Phil 3:18-19). Sire does us—and himself—no favors in investing his otherwise sterling book with this kind of invective, which should be beneath him.
In many ways (Ch. 15), the book becomes a celebration principally of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which has no canonical status in the Church, or even of the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV [in Oyster Bay Cove, NY])—and readers ought to be aware of this proclivity, or prejudice, in Sire’s effort.

Sire is right, though, in implicitly arguing that--in the secular world--the only good Catholic today is a bad Catholic. “What secular opinion wants to see,” Sire writes, “is a toothless Church, a brainless Church, a voiceless Church, in short a decrepit Church we have been given by the conciliar renewal; and when it sees the Church recover its strength its rage will be terrible” (458). When we turn from the present barbarism and the desperate desire on the part of some very well-known Catholic authorities to be popular (453; cf. John 12:43)--and when we return to the Church’s Tradition (460) and its timeless liturgy--we have, please God, the prospect of building “a nation united in worship of the true God” (46).

Despite a corrupt zeitgeist and a culture largely given over to depravity, we know, with Sire, that “Christian spiritual and moral truth is more powerful than the illusions of rationalism” (461), by which he means a superstitious and pervasive moral and mental illness (110-111, 62, 114, 307).

One may rue the marring polemical excesses and irruptions of Sire’s book, but this is a volume to be read, studied, debated, and then studied again by Catholics who fervently pray and work (“Ora et Labora”) for the coming of what Sire points to in the last five words of his book’s title: “the Restoration of Catholic Tradition.” Although Sire is, finally, right that in God’s time, the Phoenix will rise from the Ashes, he might have made a wiser ornithological choice: the indefectible Church will rise, not because it is Phoenix, but because it is Pelican, the ancient symbol of Our Lord, who feeds us (as pelicans, in times of starvation, feed their young with their own blood) with the holy Eucharist. Deo gratias!
In the interview he mentions this book which he published in 2015:

Phoenix from the Ashes:
The Making, Unmaking, and Restoration of Catholic Tradition
July 14, 2015
by H.J.A. Sire

With some pretty interesting reviews:

A Genuine Masterpiece: Perhaps the Greatest Ever Written on the Contemporary Crisis of the Church
By Roger Buck, author of THE GENTLE TRADITIONALISTon May 20, 2016
Format: Paperback

This prodigious volume from H.J.A. Sire feels like an occasion of serendipity, even providence, in my life. I felt immediately drawn to the book when it was published last year, but, amidst constraints of time, budget and whatnot, delayed purchasing it. Then, very kindly, a copy was given to me.

Now, I have been given numerous books over the course of my life, but few will ever mean as much to me as the gift of this book has. Honestly, I think it has changed my life.

Let me explain. The book covers well-worn territory for me. It concerns the deep malaise – in truth, grave sickness – that has openly afflicted the Church since the 1960s. Rather, to be exact, that is the theme of Part II, which constitutes the main, longer part of two in the book. And this main part details not only the malady of the contemporary Church, but also a nuanced discussion of the hopes for healing it. (The earlier, shorter Part I provides a rich, historical survey of former maladies in the Church, which sets the stage for what follows.)

But my point is that much of what is here is long-familiar territory for me. I have been suffering the crisis of the Church now for many years. I have also long surveyed the literature from numerous Catholic traditionalists – people like Romano Amerio, Michael Davies or Charles A. Coulombe – for years now. How much could Sire tell me that was new? At least, that would matter much?

Well, my testimony above to a small, but nonetheless significant, life-change should answer that question. But perhaps it is a matter here less of _what_ Sire says, than of _how well_ he says it.

For there are certain Catholic traditionalists, who – in the midst of their very real suffering – can become almost hysterical in their outrage at what happened in the 60s and 70s and what appears to be happening again today … There is nothing hysterical about Sire. His book bears all the hallmarks of a man in his mature years, who has steadily, soberly contemplated the sickness of the modern Church. He appears, moreover, as a man who has avoided not only the Scylla of hysteria but also the Charybdis of happy denial that anything is seriously wrong.

No, Sire appears to me like a doctor: grimly, calmly staring down a very serious malady – without evasion, without false hope – and praying, pondering, researching for the whole of his adult life as to what needs to be done. Amidst this, he has also long considered the work of other figures attempting to address the crisis. Thus, the book features his nuanced reflection on people as diverse as Benedict XVI, Marcel Lefebvre and St. Josemaría Escrivá. More – the book considers both their successes and failures and lays out tightly-reasoned arguments as to what is necessary to restore health to the Church.

No book, of course, is without its faults. Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – I found the author’s tone too scathing. I also think he misses something of the great personal holiness of St. John Paul II whose greatest contributions to Church and world history (e.g. the battle against Communism) lie outside this book’s main concerns. (And I might mention further things, except that I am still chewing them over, as Sire, to his credit, has provoked me to do.)

But these defects – if defects they are – are minor indeed, compared to the sheer amount on offer here. This work reveals colossal erudition, combined with an unrelenting hunt for the truth.The result is an existential diagnosis of the contemporary ecclesiastical sickness that is profoundly convincing. And speaking for myself, I emerge from it encouraged to the same seriousness of purpose that Sire has.

In other words, the book provides a bracing dose of both grim reality and genuine wisdom. As such, it calls me to be more real and less frivolous: Time to roll up my sleeves and work.

For I have been to countless zany masses in my life. I have long read of the grotesque antics of Küng, Schillebeckx, Rahner, Bugnini and all the rest – covered in these pages in merciless detail. And I have witnessed the way the Catholic Church ever more resembles the false, happy New Age-ism of my misspent youth.

But Sire challenges me to be serious. Above, I described the book as a providential gift, whilst I hesitated buying. If you care about the Church, I urge you, reader, not to delay like I did, but to really study Sire.

Not only will I be doing that for many years to come, I will venture further than that. I think I will be joined by many more in the generations to come. Indeed, I suspect this book will still be cherished a century or more from now by people wishing to understand what went wrong with the Church.

Perhaps it will even be carefully studied by future pontiffs wishing to understand how to heal Her. (Yes, there are things in Sire’s book that are that good!)

In short: I cannot recommend this book highly enough. What Sire is saying – with tremendous scholarship, reason and gravitas – calls out not simply to be read but profoundly contemplated.
The History Subforum / Re: WW2 propaganda posters
« Last post by Maximilian on Today at 08:54:37 PM »
This one is interesting. The main point is not to go overboard being paranoid that your neighbor is a spy. Then this part is added at the end:

"Let it be said that American history never has or never will be blotted with crimes against humanity."

Just before we started fire-bombing civilians.

It has to do with the sign of Jonah.

Without the Resurrection, our Faith is in vain (1Cor 15:17).

Re-read the account of Jonah.

Hint: he was not living those 3 days, but was dead in the belly of the fish.

But because He was raised, all else He said is true.
The History Subforum / Re: WW2 propaganda posters
« Last post by Maximilian on Today at 08:42:39 PM »
This one could have been recycled for use in the Eighties.

Bishops are infallible...
Certainly when repeating infallible truths

Even I’m infallible when repeating infallible truths, and I’m a moron. :D

You are far from a moron Gardener.  I am edified by you sir.
If we watch the clip, it is as if Bishop Selway, an intelligent and otherwise perceptive man, thoroughly studied the epistemological question of how we can know Catholicism is certainly true (and it is clear that he sees the necessity of having certainty for faith).  It is as if he considered the claims of miracles,  testimonies, and even Jesus' sanctity!!! ... and found them all wanting in terms of furnishing conclusive evidence of his divinity.  It is as if he found incontrovertible proof of the divinity of Jesus, and hence the veracity of the Catholic faith, in the resurrection event alone....why?

Now I suppose I should just ask him....but a lot of you, gifted SD posters, might be able to see the essence of the proof, and relate how it gives certainty....because I think there is something here, I just cannot see it clearly.
The Coffee Pot / Re: Favourite Novus Ordo Episodes
« Last post by Stu Cool on Today at 08:16:39 PM »
Went to a wedding. The priest asked us to raise our hands to help bless the couple. My wife and I stared at each other with a look of "what's going on?"

Actually one of my first posts.  Here is the link
The History Subforum / Re: WW2 propaganda posters
« Last post by Stu Cool on Today at 08:10:42 PM »

For Laus and Jayne.   :canada:
Ask a Traditionalist / Re: Does God give us more than we can bear
« Last post by mikemac on Today at 07:53:12 PM »
Does God give us more than we can bear
No, not at all!
Also, 2 Cor. 12:9:
…My grace is sufficient for thee…

It sounds like you need to acquire some of His Graces Chess, i.e. Confession and the Holy Eucharist.

Edit; Actually the whole verse needs to be quoted.

2 Cor. 12:9 "And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me."
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10