Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Just like Fr. Z! Part II of the Review of the St. Joseph's Sunday Missal Complete CANADIAN Edition

The Overview of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
This is the part of the book which can make it a `do or die` missal. Here, the author can do a dis-service to the Catholic lay faithful with a "Spirit of Vatican II" outlook and misinterpret the reading of the Catechism and the Council Documents in the summary, or might actually summarize it well.

The overall introductory paragraphs give a good, brief summary of the history behind the composition of the Catechism and names some of the documents behind it. After it proceeds to go through a summary of each of the four sections, going a little more in depth with certain central teachings or concepts.

The Summary is divided exactly into the four parts of the Catechism with the same titles.
Part 1, the Profession of Faith, covers Revelation, Fatih, The Triune God; Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Redeemer; and the Spirit of the Church.
Part 2, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery covers: Full, Conscious, and Active Participation, The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Annointing of the Sick, Holy Orders,Matrimony, with one brief paragraph on "sacramentals and funerals."
Part 3: Life in Christ covers: The beatitudes and virtues, Sin, The Law of Love, and the Ten Commandments, covering each commandment's content in the CCC briefly.
Part 4, Christian Prayer, covers: Types of Prayer, The Petitions of the Lord's Prayer. Sample pictures are below:

My first question in this section, is does a given section correctly summarize what is present in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, regardless of section?  
To answer this question, let's pick a section from the summary and compare what is in the CCC vs. the summary in the Missal.

Let`s just use part 1's coverage of the first section, "Revelation." The Missal says the following on page 1509 about Christ and revelation of God's truth through Him:

"Jesus Christ as the Son of God is then shown to be the major source of the truths of divine revelation, which were transmitted by him to his apostles, and then by them and their successors through the teaching authority of the Church. Such revelation is contained in the Tradition of the Church, which the apostles received from the teaching of Jesus and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and also in Sacred Scripture, comprising both the Old and the New Testaments, of which God himself is considered to be the actual author inasmuch as he inspired its human authors. All forty-six books of the Old Testament and all twenty-seven books of the New Testament are accepted by the Church as inspired teaching."

Each part must be broken down and correlated with its corresponding (or likely corresponding) paragraphs of the CCC. The first sentence, "Jesus ... Church," corresponds to paragraphs 75 and 76. under Part I, Chapter II, Article 2 "The Transmission of Divine Revelation." - Paragraph 75 says:

"Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline."(http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PK.HTM)

Paragraph 76 describes that the Gospel was handed down to the disciples orally, and in writing, by the Apostles at either the prompting (oral) or inspiration (written) of the Holy Spirit. What is correctly conveyed is that Christ is our source of truth and the Gospel. However, the word choice is poor. The CCC says Christ is the source of the entirety of Revelation, whereas the summary says he is a major source. This leaves room for error catechesis-wise, and implies that other sources can contribute to truth. To me the NSJ missal`s wording  says that Christ is respected as one of the greatest prophets, but not THE source of divine revelation and truth, despite being the Son of God. But will most people do the kind of analysis and thought on the matter as I have? Rather they will take it for what it is on the page and not give anymore forethought.
The next two sentences in this section is `Such revelation ...authors ....`` and ``.... All forty-six books ... teaching.`` correspond to paragraphs 77-83, but also to Article 3, ``Sacred Scripture,`` where the Old Testament. The CCC discusses the apostles receiving the Revealation of truth in the teachings of Christ, which compromises the Tradition of the Church, with a capital ```T``. On that note in paragraph 77-78:

``In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority."35 Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time."3678 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."37 "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.

It is highly unfortunate that Fr. Kersten did not capitalize on this moment to educate the laity  on the Tradition of the Catholic Church. This is important, as both sides of the ``political`` spectrum of the Church, liberal or ``C&E/Cafeteria" Catholics, and radical traditionalists, often have no idea what the true "T" Tradition of the Church really is. It is simply one word in this summary paragraph. The reader is forced to look at the Catechism to discover what is truly meant by Tradition, though will most readers be curious and go further in that manner? (rhetorical question with an obvious answer.) He is correct though, on the part about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit guiding the writings of the Apostles and other holy men associated with them.

Is God the actual author of Sacred Scripture? Are all the books of the Catholic Bible truly inspired teaching of Christ, the Word of God Made Flesh? Yes is the answer to both questions. Paragraph 105 in Article 3 of Sacred Scriputre, says:

"God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself ...."(http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PP.HTM)

So, as for the 2nd and 3rd sentences of the section, these are almost verbatim, using the exact same words as the Catechism. In short, while, yes I have only looked at this one of many sections to do more thorough analysis, I can say that with this example, the summaries, though not completely, do `summarize` the basic text and ideas of the Catechism sections, but certain other important and necessary concepts in our CCC are left untouched, or must be looked up themselves. So the summaries are not completely summarizing all the content and concepts of the CCC.

My Second Question: Does the Catechism summary, when encountering major teachings, or doctrines of the Catholic Church, approach it haphazardly in an erroneous "Spirit of Vatican II" attitude and possibly heretically? Or is it properly conveying the actual teachings as outlines in the CCC put in the Summary?

Clearly if the answer is no, then this Missal is to be immediately tossed in the garbage and the Catholic Book Publishing Company should not call itself Catholic. But is the answer then, Yes?

Well, Let's look at a couple of sections with MAJOR teachings in the Church shall we, or concepts that are highly misunderstood by laity and clergy alike.

This is under Part Two in the Missal, on pages 1512-1513. I will start with what the Missal Says:
"... the celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who are consecrated to be a spiritual house and holy priesthood that they may offer spiritual sacrifices. This "common priesthood" is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism. In liturgical celebrations each person, minister, or lay-man, who has an office to perform, should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of the liturgy."

Right from the start, this paragraph has it literally incorrect, though partially incorrect in meaning, who the celebrating assembly is. I think the author was focusing in context on the level of Joe Catholic attending weekly Mass. He was not thinking past that, or about the greater realities of what the Mass is about and what goes on, and deemed prior paragraphs in the Catechism not worth including in the summary. A narrow, poor, scope indeed. The Catechism says this in Part Two, Section I, Chapter II, Article I, paragraph 1137-1138, with some paraphrasing in square brackets for context:

"1137 ... the Church's liturgy, first reveals to us [in St. John's Book of Revelation/Apocalypse], "A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne": "the Lord God."1 It then shows the Lamb, "standing, as though it had been slain": Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one "who offers and is offered, who gives and is given."2 Finally it presents "the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb," one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.3 
1138 "Recapitulated in Christ," these are the ones who take part in the service of the praise of God and the fulfillment of his plan: the heavenly powers, all creation (the four living beings), the servants of the Old and New Covenants (the twenty-four elders), the new People of God (the one hundred and forty-four thousand),4 especially the martyrs "slain for the word of God," and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman), the Bride of the Lamb,5 and finally "a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues."

The greater gravity of what the Mass is, and who participates outside of Joe Catholic, is ignored to the uneducated or non-curious reader of the Missal. However, I can see where Fr. got his readings from in the Catechism, that is paragraphs 1140-1141:

1140 It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates "Liturgical services ... touch individual members of the Church in different ways, depending on their orders, their role in the liturgical services, and their actual participation in them."7 For this reason, "rites which are meant to be celebrated in common, with the faithful present and actively participating, should as far as possible be celebrated in that way rather than by an individual and quasi-privately."8 1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, "by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that . . . they may offer spiritual sacrifices."9 This "common priesthood" is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:10 Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people," have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.11

So the last part of paragraph 1141 is almost a verbatim repeat in the Missal. That part of 1141 has a footnote of being taken from Sarcosanctum Concilium Paragraph 14, one of the key documents and the 4 Constitutions of Vatican II. And likewise, SC also says the same thing almost verbatim itself.

What concerns me is that this Missal, in this particular section where it matters, does not define what exactly the meaning of active participation in the Mass means. Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes and views that priests and other laypeople of the post-Vatican II Catholic Church think is, "Make the liturgy something that I like, that I'll dance and jump and sing too, like a concert with popular music", or "Let's have a bucket load of laity in the pews doing things and a ton of volunteers in the liturgy, the more the better!". It did dispel this concept in the introduction, so why couldn't that be moved to this Catechism summary?

Regardless, the sentiment above is NOT the meaning of active participation in the Liturgy. What isn't mentioned by the missal in the Catechism summary, but IS the meaning of active participation in the liturgy, is reflected in Sarcosanctum Concilium paragraphs 10-11:

10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; ... the font from which all her power flows ... all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.... 11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain [28] . Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.  

In other words, not just mere observation and blank stares, nor just attending and spending time in a corner praying your rosary, not cognoscente of the highest form of prayer in the world and the Re-presentation of HIS passion, death, and resurrection, while ``the priest does all the work for you.`` Both extremes of over-activity and complete passivity, were NOT part of what active participation meant according to SC which the CCC and our section in New. St. Joseph Missal refers to.

One good point? Well, the last sentence in that section of the missal,  is a verbatim quote of CCC 1144. Clearly it is telling the layperson, as would the CCC tell him/her, that only those people who have assigned roles in the liturgy should be carrying them out in the sanctuary. That means only the clergy, the altar servers, the lectors, and Eucharistic ministers (if that's how your church it set up or the space allows). This paragraph in the CCC, and the NSJ Missal likewise, correctly convey to the layperson, that no other busybodies, or other people who shouldn't be up there, should be present. This, is sadly ignored in liturgies around the world (e.g. people dressed up as mascots or puppets, liturgical dancers, children in First Communions ...) and YouTube provides ample evidence of that in this Modern Era. Really, it's like watching horror films on there.

EG 2: SIN (See the second picture far above in the post)
The NSJ Missal lists in the section on Sin, under Part Three: Life in Christ:

"In opposition to these [The beatitudes and virtues] are sins, whether mortal or venial. The catechism carefully distinguishes between the two and restates the ancient formula in regard to mortal sin that requires grave matter, and is committed with deliberate consent and full knowledge that the act is seriously wrong.

What? You mean this author does not commit the heresy of Lonergan theologists and other "Spirit of Vatican II" laypeople and clergy everywhere that there are no gradations of sin? Or another heresy, of no sin to begin with? And wait! Fr. chooses to even cover this section in the Missal? WHOA!!!!!

Honestly, he could have just skipped this over or twisted the content in someway in the Missal, but he did not. He clearly states there are Mortal and Venial sins, which are contradictory to the Beatitudes and Virtues (in fact, each of the 7 Deadly Sins has an opposing Virtue and beatitude(s) so Father is not incorrect in that statement). That's right, MORTAL, AND Venial Sin. And he lists exactly the three conditions that make a sin Mortal. That's what the CCC says folks. No joke.

These commandments of course, are: "You shall not commit adultery" and "You shall not covet your neighbour's wife." Here, the author could have taken great liberty, and could have taken the easy stance by leaning on the Pope`s famous words ``Who am I to judge?" in this section, but this section shows that this Missal has some staying power. Here's the bulk of the content of this section on page 1519:

"[Both commandments] ... are treated separately in the Catechism, but both are concerned with immorality, which in secular society seems to have become the rule rather than the exception. All human beings of their very nature are required to be chaste in their own thoughts and actions and to respect the bodily integrity of others. explicitly condemned are acts of lust, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, and rape. Those who are homosexual in nature are forbidden to engage in any kind of homosexual activity, although it is stressed that compassion must be shown to those so afflicted. Adultery, polygamy, divorce, and incest are also condemned."

Wow .... I am floored that despite weak points here and there overall in the whole Catechism summary, Father took no shortcuts and gave a summary in this section that clearly would anger and upset most of the mis-educated lay faithful, clergy, political activists, etc. reading this section of the NSJ missal. However, should one read the actual sections of the Catechism, they will correctly conclude that what is written here, is most indeed an accurate assessment of the content of those sections of the CCC: 1) He correctly states that it's the ACTIVITY that is the main concern with those persons affected by same-sex attraction, 2) Further, he stresses compassion for those affected. This summary rightly devotes a separate two sentences to that issue, so prominent in our modern world and unfortunately, as part of the Catholic Church. He correctly states in summary what is in the Catechism's specific sections, 2357-2359, with regards to homosexuality and chastity.

So with regards to the Catechism Summary, It's again, a mixed bag. Yes, actual content is taken from the CCC and put in the NSJ missal, though some summaries are not at a depth that would constitute a complete and through summary that gives the best "meat and potatoes" to the average lay person. It seems though, that the biggest detriment Fr. gives to the readers of this hand missal, are significant skip-overs and a poor selection of content/summarization.

However, most of the time, when major stuff that can be controversial appears, it is NOT ignored and actually covered in full. This NSJ missal is definitely better in theological and doctrinal content than the ones made by Novalis, but there is still a need of improvement in such content and more sections of summarization of the catechism could have given a better ``Coles Notes`` version of our CCC.

The Rest of the Back and any other "Leftovers" in the Missal.
After the summary there is a ``Treasury of Prayers`` in the Back. I am mixed about what is presented to the layperson in this missal.

Some of the prayers are childish and feel like the prior translation of the Roman Missal. One should not feel like the only way to praise Jesus is like a child, despite that saying about coming to him like children (He meant that they listen and believe without doubt in their innocence). For example, this kind of prayer would be OK in grade school, but not as an adult formally, as on page 1522:

``Thanks for a beautiful day: On a beautiful day we may thank God and praise him for his many gifts:
Father of Jesus, we praise you and give you glory for the wonderful things you do for us: for life and health, for friends and family, for this splendid day. For these reasons, we pray as Jesus taught us: Our father ...`

This comes as part of a prayer called ``Praise and Thanks`` which even with the content I haven`t posted, does not sound a lot better than the usual prayers said by school teachers and common clergy. Even with the rest of the prayer, I certainly wouldn`t feel moved by the prayer, nor feel it is an outpouring of my heart in praise and thanksgiving to Christ. It feels contrived or machine-made so to speak.

However, after this prayer comes a shorter version of Morning Prayer (Matins) and Evening Prayer (Lauds) which I have seen as part of a book called ``Shorter Christian Prayer,`` used to help laity pray the Novus Ordo Morning Offices with clergy.

More other prayers from this ``Treasury`` are meal prayers, ``a prayer for our family``, ``Parent`s prayer, etc``. To me, I think that the authors have a misunderstanding of the idea of a ``Treasury`` of prayers. They must have thought about prayers with personal sentimentality for a particular family. What they should have been thinking about was traditional prayers in what is the beautiful history of the Church and all its Saints. Where are the traditional prayers, like those of the Angelus, or ones promulgated by popes like the St. Michael`s prayer by Leo XIII? The idea of a treasury, is that one contains real treasures of significant value and worth (in this case, spiritually,) stored over time, not modern things of lesser quality and value, despite personal sentiments. A ``time capsule`` or a ``memory chest`` would be a better title to fit this section vs a ``Treasury of Prayers.`` Come to think of it, I think there was a popular one before Vatican II called ``The Raccolta`` that it still is being reprinted today.

There are some good prayers in this ``Treasury`` though. Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, and Contrition on page 1534 are for before Mass, as well as Acts of Faith, Adoration, Love, and Thanksgiving on page 1535-1536. 1537 comes with the heavy-hitters, that is:1) the Prayer to Jesus on a Crucifix including an animated corpus, PLUS the correct conditions when a plenary indulgence is granted with the prayer and when only a partial is granted. 2) Stations of the Cross with a 1 sentence reflection, and pictures for the 20 mysteries of the Holy Rosary (15 traditional + John Paul II`s Luminous Mysteries, of which a small side note on that IS included with the Luminous mysteries saying the late pope added them via the 2002 decree.)

Rounding out the last pages of the missal are other various prayers and prayers corresponding to the season in the liturgy. 

I will try to summarize overall, with a grade scale of 1-10, what I say of this Missal:

Physical Characteristics: 8 out of 10. Overall, of hardcover or higher quality keepsake missals, this is comparable in size and make like those of other companies. The design might have been a little more grander and hardcover with leather, but for the most part I am content. It is also nice that it comes with two ribbons so I can go between prefaces and the Mass of the liturgy at hand.

General Visual Content (Overall Order, Readability, Artwork): 7.8 out of 10. Definitely easier to navigate through than Most missals, and responses and things are more clearly denoted. The artwork is great at times, especially the colour inserts, though I am not fond of the artwork at times for the individual Sundays. I`d say it`s ``Teen``: Not childish and immature, but just a step shy of being mature and adult-like spiritually speaking.

Theological and Spiritual Content: 7 out of 10. There is a better job done here than with the Canadian competitor, Novalis and its ``Living with Christ`` missals, in delivering such content. The content is written by a priest, an alter Christus, rather than random laypeople who vary in what education they would have obtained. In composing the reflections, as well as the Catechism overview, there are times that Fr. really hits you off your seat and makes you take a hard look at things with that week`s liturgy. The reflections can tackle hard issues in your world and help you relate that liturgy and the Gospel to your modern world of 2013.

However, like many post-Vatican II clergy, he suffers to an extent from the malady of ``social justice`` overemphasis at times and it does reflect in a portion of the reflections for the Scriputres and liturgies. With the Catechism overview, Father`s biggest crime is skipping over important parts of the Catechism that needed to be summarized and empahsizing parts without complete content, or more complete summarization. When Fr. did have to tackle the important parts of the CCC, he does his duty, giving an accurate summary where he could have easily gone ``Spirit of Vatican II`` and taken more liberal summarizations of the content or used lax words. However, this NSJ missal is not 100% ``solid`` as it were in places, and I`d rather at times tell you to go the daily homilies, speeches, and audiences of the Holy Father, with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for you to get the TRUE CATHOLIC TEACHING on things.

Additional Content: 4.5 out of 10: Not befitting of what a keepsake missal should contain. The ``treasury`` of prayers is more like personal ones of sentimentality of a particular family, rather than ones that would be fitting of the literal and theological and spiritual history of the Church. Further, There should be a lot more content, exactly like the CTS Novus Ordo 1500+ Hand Missal for laity (NAB translation) that really drives hard the teachings of the Church and adds real deep spiritual reflection and prayers for the laity. 

OVERALL GRADE: 7.3 out of 10.

The short answer is ...... YES ..... for Now.

Basically, this is a decent quality missal in terms of physical content, and to an extent, theological and spiritual content. IT IS DEFINITELY A BETTER INVESTMENT THAN THE LIVING WITH CHRIST MISSALS. Plus, save losing the thing, you get to save the environment by not wasting more trees for those disposable missals!

The bottom line is this: If you HAVE to use a hand missal right now for the Novus Ordo in the Catholic Church in Canada with the NRSV translation, this is the best you have got right now between Living with Christ and the New St. Joseph's Missals. There isn`t any third choice currently unlike the NAB translation missals, for a decent quality, content-solid hand missal in Canada. St. Joe`s and Living With Christ is all you get for the pews or your hands. Maybe you could pester Corpus Christ Watershed or the Catholic Truth Society to do that perhaps.

Also, this is a 3-Year book. This IS the only one currently available if you want to be environmentally conscious and stop buying one every year, or want a keepsake for the Sundays and Holy Days Only. There are NO other missals with the NRSV translation for the laity that are all 3 years in the Novus Ordo liturgical cycle.

NOTE: There currently is no 2-year weekday cycle one just yet, but perhaps St. Joseph's might reconsider this in future ..... if you purchase a lot of these missals AND request a weekday one to be made too ....

So if you are a dual-form of the Roman Rite person like myself, or spend the majority of your time in the Novus Ordo, I say purchase this Missal directly from Catholic Book Publishing Company. It is product 720/10 in their catalogues (ISBN 978-1-937913-62-5), and was sent to me for $49 after shipping and handling and HST (Ontario's combined federal and provincial tax). This is now my mainstay missal for the Novus Ordo Masses on Sundays. 

Hope you enjoyed this review. Spread the word Canada! Pax Tibi Christi, Julian Barkin.

1 comment:

  1. The latin is participation actuosa which means actual participation not active.

    Like actually listening, praying etc etc, it doesn't mean being "active" or acting anything.