The Prefect of the Papal Household, His Excellency Archbishop Georg Gänswein, was here in Heiligenkreuz today. He ordained three of my confrères and one Augustinian Canon Regular. Archbishop Gänswein brought us greetings from Pope Francis. He said that when he told Pope Francis where he was going, the Holy Father remarked “Ah, Heiligenkreuz. I have heard of it.”
His Excellency Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., Bishop of Aberdeen, was here as well. He used to be the Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, where my confrère Pater Ælred, ordained today, was one of his novices many years ago.
Artur Rosman invited me to write something on integralism for Church Life Journal, and so it went up today under the title “What Is Integralism Today?“— a reference to Balthasar’s “Integralismus heute“. Here is a snip:
All political agents, whether they admit it or not, imply some definite conception of the good for man in their action. As Leo Strauss used to tell his students, all political action is concerned with change or preservation. When it is concerned with change it is concerned with change for the better. When it is concerned with preservation it is concerned with preventing change for the worse. But the concepts of better and worse imply a concept of the good. Therefore, all political action is concerned with the good. The Weberian account of separate spheres of social activity, each acting according to its own inherent rationality, conceals more than it reveals of modern social life. There is not and cannot be a neutral “political rationality” that reduces politics to a technique of achieving certain penultimate objectives. For, such penultimate objectives can only become objectives pursued by human beings when they are ordered to an (implicit) ultimate objective. And if the ultimate objective is not the true end of man, the City of God, then it will be a false end, the diabolical city.
Read the rest at Church Life Journal.
The parish of Heiligenkreuz includes not only Heiligenkreuz itself, but also the villages of Grub and Siegenfeld. Both Grub and Siegenfeld have little churches, called Filialkirchen, or chapels-of-ease, where Mass is said on Sundays. I’ve just been named rector of the one in Siegenfeld— in addition to my duties as vice-rector of the Leopoldinum. The church of St. Ulrich in Siegenfeld is a lovely little church with a Baroque altar at which mass is— of course— clebrated ad orientem.
Maria Bustillos, an editor at Popula.com, whom I know through our common interest in David Foster Wallace, asked me to write something on what it is like to celebrate Mass. I did so, and of course writing about what it’s like to celebrate Mass led me to write a bit about what the Mass is, and therefore what the Gospel is, and then (given that it has been on my mind), to some reflections on the latest chapter of the abuse scandal in the Church. Here’s how my article begins:
I come from a very devout Catholic family, and when I was growing up we went to Mass every day—not just on Sundays. When I was very small Mass was just boring. I fidgeted, day-dreamed, tied the ribbons of the hymnals together, teased my sister, and generally made a nuisance of myself. But then, when I was about 13, I started to serve as an altar boy. The priest whom I served was named Don Reto. He was chaplain at the theological college where my parents taught (both of my parents are Catholic theology professors). Don Reto is one of the best people I have ever met. He changed my life. When he celebrated Mass, it was clear that he believed in it with every fiber of his being. He was full of awe and reverence, a holy fear. Watching him I began to see why we call the Mass “the Sacred Mysteries” and “the Holy Sacrifice.” Not that I could have explained what those words meant at the time. But it was clear to me that Don Reto had found something in the Mass to which it was worth devoting his whole life. Continue reading at Popula…
Today is the Feast of the Crown of Thorns in Heiligenkreuz. The Feast commemorates the solemn translation of the Crown of Thorns to Paris under St. Louis IX. St. Louis gave one thorn to the Babenberg Duke Frederick the Quarrelsome of Austria, who gave it to Heiligenkreuz. Today it is exposed on the altar. There’s a medieval painting of the Sacred Head, crowned with thorns, in a niche our Church that was probably where the reliquary used to be kept. (Now it is kept in the neo-Gothic Sacrament altar).
Over at Church Life Journal I have a post up on prayer.
Seven years ago today I was ordained to the priesthood. Today I celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for 2,721st time. I looked through my ordination photos today, and have posted some of them below. Please say a prayer for me, reader.