Cherish Your Innocence

Pro-life work is the protection of innocents, and the work of examination of conscience. To be pro-life is to examine one's conscience, asking: do I cherish innocence? Do I love the innocent above all things?

What gets my respect: cynical worldly-wise cosmopolitanism, or sincere innocence?

Even 'beauty' is an inadequate articulation for innocence. Innocence has the preciousness, the vulnerability, and small fragility of eidelweiss, but like eidelweiss is enthroned on mountains. Suited to the heights.

Crowned with its own power and, in the end, its vindication over artifice, insincerity, and plotting manipulation, over sloth and mediocrity.

One of the many pro-life works, I submit to you, is singing. 

Singing together, particularly folk music, protects innocence, and cultivates it. Grown men singing together? Moreover, singing a song the refrain of which is:

"Ah dee doo, ah dee doo dah day. Ah dee doo, ah dee day dee. He whistled and he sang, 'til the green woods rang! And he won the heart of a lady."


"God bless America! Land that I love! Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with the light from above."

Simplicity and abandonment of artifice are good for men. Moderating our damnable self-awareness and self-importance.

Singing together protects what innocence you have, and can even restore you to innocence. Especially when you sing with friends, who know you and have forgiven you, innocence is undeservedly restored. It is difficult to be forgiven, and to have the humility to accept innocence again from Our Lord, because we don't deserve to have it returned. Our friends know we are not innocent in ourself, and that our innocence is entirely their gift and the gift of Christ. To return to singing together, indebted so to their compassion and solidarity, is humiliating in the creative sense. Man, when he has built himself up falsely, must be made low in the sense that he is made to see the interior reality. His indigence of soul. Then his friends can help Christ raise him along with Him.

It is hard to sing with those who know your faults, but this is the best singing because it can never again become the farce that pop music is. You can never again be puffed up. You can only enter into what your friends offer, and work your way into innocence again, in fear and trembling. It takes humility to allow yourself to feel innocent again, when you are forgiven, remembering this innocence is always Christs, and to an extent the innocence of your friends who forgive you.

Those who know me know well that I am not the catalyst for innocence in our band. I have had to be converted over many years to really see what innocence requires. The singing always had the possibility, though, for Christ to use it. It was waiting to be a means by which He would give me His innocence, if I knelt and whispered, 'depart from me, Jesus, for I am a sinful man.' Watching the words that my friends were speaking, singing so that each one of us would be heard, listening so as to harmonize, relying on the greater skill of others to support my effort.

In thinking about our singing, I began to realize how little I cherish my own innocence, or respect the innocence of others. I began to realize, even that I unconsciously esteem people based less on their innocence than on their cleverness or attractiveness, or their charisma, or the pleasure of their company.

I must cherish innocence. It must have my respect, not in the conceptual way, and especially not in a patronizing way. I must esteem it as my sinful nature would esteem one with clever worldly competence, ability, and power.

I must root out all in me that is cynical and does not protect the innocence of others. All words, all the ideas I suggest, all my conversation, all my songs, all my arguments, all my ideas must bow before the innocence of the other person. Their innocence is the property of God, and I must never trespass there again.
I shouldn't use curse words where others can hear them. I shouldn't laugh at T.V. shows that lampoon innocence, or snicker too worldly-wise at weakness. There is a big difference between sighing with affectionate patience at our foibles, and being entertained by mediocrity and even sin.

Most of all, I shouldn't scandalize others, not even in 'educating' them on the 'real world'. I have in the past been a source of too much reality, if by that you mean mediocrity and sin, and that shames me. Everyone knows about it but forgives. Accepting innocence given, and making that innocence your own leaves you always indebted and the worldly-wise and proud can never do it. It means you can never be cynical towards others again.

And when we are innocent or have had innocence given back to us, we must protect it.


The Importance of Our Custom of Altar Boys: "Husbands Love Your Wives, As Christ Loves His Church"

    Our parish families find themselves in the frustrating situation of being without pastors. Too often today parish churches are being closed. This is a call to come together, as the Apostles did after Pentecost, in prayer with our Blessed Mother.  We will rise to the challenges that this loss brings—and it is a loss, for the ordinary life of Christians is to have a home parish in which to worship with their spiritual father, the pastor.  The Holy Spirit will enable us to rise to the challenges if we ask Him.

     We must ask The Holy Spirit to open our hearts to His answers. This frustrating situation calls for our conversion. It asks us to examine the road we have taken for decades as a parish and as a Church that led us to have such few spiritual fathers, so few priests. And not just sacramental priests, but so few fathers in the home, such challenges to motherhood, such neglect of children and their souls.

    There is not enough time here to examine all of the cultural mistakes we have made that led us to have fewer and fewer priests, and ultimately fewer and fewer Christians.

    But we can look at one part of the bad culture, the bad way of life, we have been living, that has led to our vocational breakdown. 

    We men have rejected the way of life for which we were created by Our Father, to which we are called by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

     When fathers step forward and suffer for their families, when men have the courage to be keep faith, when men live their God-given vocation to be fathers and husbands, servants of their brides and children, the culture is strong. The Church is strong.
When bishops, priests step forward and are strong leaders, who fast, suffer, do penance for their children, who protect their bride, and teach their children to love their Mother, the culture is strong, and the Mother, the Church is strong. Spiritual Fathers, Spiritual Husbands do this by fasting, penance, prayer, and by the love-poetry that is reverent, loving liturgy.

    A zealous team of altar boys, with a strong esprit de corps is one of the fundamental ways to rebuild our parish, and return our Church from its current vocational breakdown.

    It teaches our boys and young men the discipline of Spiritual Fatherhood. It is the natural capstone of such work as the boy-scouts or sportsmanship. These cultivate the good natural husbandry in young men. In serving Holy Mass, our young men take these natural virtues and grow them through the discipline of God’s service into spiritual husbandry, into Christ-like manhood.

    In serving Holy Mass, our boys learn humility, teamwork, and discipline, as in any good work. But in proximity to the sacred mysteries, and hopefully in proximity to a devout priest, they learn that Christ must be at the heart of their manhood. That He is the Lord, their God. They learn that they must love God with their whole heart, their whole mind, their entire soul, and all their strength. They learn that the greatest enemy they must convert is their own pride. In the liturgy, they learn the love-poetry of their Mother, the Church, and their greatest hopes become united with her. God willing, they become priests, to fast, and pray for their family the Church. Or, God willing, they bring the women with whom they fall in love to their Mother, the Church, to ask her to bless their new wives and mothers and children with the love and power of Her sacraments and worship.
 To plant the seeds for a time when all Christian vocations are strong again we must maintain such traditions as men serving at the altar. We must bring our men into proximity to the service of the altar so they can learnto suffer and to lead like Christ. We cannot abandon this time-tested way. It will bear fruit not only in vocations, so that, God willing, we will one day never lack for pastors; it will bear fruit in the vocations of all families, as our boys are raised up to become spiritual heads of domestic churches. Glory Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto

Our Custom of Praying Mass 'Ad Orientem': The Theology of The Body and Liturgical Conversion

Our Custom of Praying Mass ‘Ad Orientem’: The Theology of The Body and Liturgical Conversion

     “ When we rise to pray, we turn East, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there, as if He had moved away from the other directions on earth, but rather to help us remember to turn our mind towards a higher order; that is, to God.”  

-- St. Augustine

     Our custom of praying Holy Mass ad orientem, that is, to the liturgical east, is of very great importance to us. Just as the Latin suggests, this custom orients our prayer in a way that so many of us have found deeply consoling.  This orientation in prayer has had a fundamental impact on our spirituality. It is a praying according to a theology of the body.

     The importance of this custom could be looked at from a historical point of view: the Mass was always prayed this way from the days of the Apostles until very recently. St. Augustine always referred to this turning together to the East in prayer at the end of his homilies, praying aloud to the people, “Conversi ad Dominum (turn to face the Lord).”

    It should make us think, if we find ourselves in a place where what was the universal custom for Catholics for the entire history of our worship, now strikes us as bizarre, irritating, and even unhealthy and unfitting. Worshipping in the same direction as the priest is not an eccentricity of a particular locale for a few hundred years, but the way Christians worshipped God always and everywhere for our entire existence.

     But the strongest sign of its importance is not in history, but here today. It is in the spiritual formation it has given us.  Facing God together with our priest during the Eucharistic prayer creates a solidarity between all of us, as we turn to God together. With a united face, we converse, through the words of our priest, to God Himself.

     This has been so consoling and uplifting to us because it has brought out and shown light upon our conversation with God. It has revealed that our conversion to Him, our conversation with Him, in the Mass is so real.

     We begin the Eucharistic prayer with our priest, turning towards our unseen God together. Suddenly this God so distant now appears as the priest raises the Blessed Sacrament. God the Father, before distant in our minds, is made present by our offering the Sacrifice of His Son to Him.

    Praying the Mass with our priest, as we face together to God, gives room for God in the Church. As St. Augustine says, not because He “has moved away from other places,” but because knowing that God is there before us all, priest and people together, “turns our mind to a higher order, that is, to God.”

    This custom is a great way in which we have lived the theology of the body, in which spiritual truths are made incarnate. We converse with God, we convert to God, in our souls and hearts, as we convert physically to God with our bodies. We need these incarnate ways of praying, and this custom has been so fruitful for our spiritual lives.

     And we do this not just as individuals, in a private spiritual life alone, but as a Church, together. And together with our priest, who is one of us, and our representative as well, presenting what is in our hearts (Sursum corda!) in words spoken towards, not “the wall”, but towards God.

    We are made by God with bodies, and we learn to convert to Him and converse with Him in our souls by first converting our bodies to Him.

Oh! Praise God!