There are a number of very good things to be found in Sacramentum Caritatis, not the least of being its relative freedom from existentialist jargon. Although a bit long, it is phrased in language which most people, even bishops, will be able to understand without a dictionary or recourse to the works of Hegel or John Paul Sartre. “Dialogue” is mentioned only a half dozen times, and “Paschal Mystery” but a few more.
It is refreshingly clear that the Pope understands the need for Catholic worship that is reverent rather than distracting; elevating rather than banal; a tribute to God rather than to one’s fellow men; worship that conforms them to fidelity in Catholic belief and moral practice. There are a few entries which seem to acknowledge the sacrificial nature of the Mass, (9-17) and the function of bishops as those possessing the fullness of the priesthood (23). Pope Benedict underlined the need to ordain only those with “the necessary qualities for the priestly ministry, even in the face of a shortage of vocations (25). He called for an increase in Eucharistic Adoration (66-68) and proper placement of the tabernacle (69), and bemoaned those who would abuse the liturgy (54). Unfortunately he doesn’t think of Communion in the hand, the proliferation of “Eucharistic Ministers” as abuses. Communion is to be given to individual non-Catholics only “under exceptional situations” and “for the sake of their eternal salvation” (56)-this is liberal in theory, but far more conservative than current practice. Politicians are reminded that they must “support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature ... there is an objective connection here with the Eucharist” (83)-but “values grounded in human nature” are not exactly the same as “God’s natural law,” and there is no clear sanction placed on politicians who advocate its most despicable violations.
The Exhortation is directed to the entire Church, including the “clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful”-the vast majority of these being the plain and simple Catholics who make up the membership of the Church-the men and women “in the pew” and that large proportion of the priests and nuns who tried to hold on to the Catholic Faith over the past half century. It is at least mildly annoying, as a member of that group, to be told that we must get back to many of the thing that were forcefully taken away from us by those in charge of the “renewal.” We did not ask for effeminate “presiders” and loud mouthed nuns to teach us and our children the psychobabble of modernism; we did not ask for burlap vestments and felt banners with the letters falling off; we did not ask for priests in neck-ties and nuns in makeup and pants suits; we did not ask for the criminalization of the traditional Mass; nor for the prohibition of the Latin language; we did not ask for the replacement of our musical heritage with guitar players limited to three chords and a variety of conscripted pop tunes (even if they could “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”); we did not ask for the translation of our Saint Joseph, Saint Andrew, and Father Lasance Missals into the banal cant of the ICEL and the New American Bible-Catholic Edition. His Holiness should take Himself, his liberal bishops and religious superiors “to the woodshed” for this one, not the loyal and long suffering Catholics. We have come to expect this sort of stuff from limousine liberal politicians who, on the rare occasions when they share the difficult plight of the average person, think they have been given some sort of privileged insight from the gods-we expect this from them, but not from the Successor of Peter.
Several paragraphs (especially 71-73) wax prosaic about the relationship of Catholics and the Eucharist. They are uplifting until one realizes that they describe a Church which exists today only in small pockets of resistance to the establishment. The modern liturgical books are just not uplifting, the vestments are not beautiful, and the music is rarely inspirational (cf. 40). One suspects that exposition of the Blessed Sacrament has gained in popularity out of defiance of the “liturgical reform” for it is an opportunity to “tune out” the banal readings, pop music, liturgical dancers, and loudmouthed commentators (cf. 66-68).
Conspicuously absent from Sacramentum Caritatis is all discussion of what the authorities must do to insure that Novus Ordo Catholics receive an actual Eucharist. The same associates of Pope Benedict XVI who waxed ecstatic over burlap vestments, had a supremely low tolerance for sacramental theology. It was far more important to “make a statement,” or to appear intellectually(?) “engágè, than it was to insure the valid celebration of Mass and reception of Holy Communion. A litany of concerns are obvious to anyone who has examined the new rites or seen them performed in practice: The heretical mistranslation of the consecration of the wine; the use of invalid matter (ranging from corn bread and cookies to cassava root and beer); the presider narrating instead of the priest consecrating; the truncated rites of priestly ordination and the new rite for consecrating bishops in which the “sacramental” form makes no mention of the fullness of the priesthood; the Assyrian debacle of Mass with no words of Consecration; the significant decline of belief in the Real Presence and the sacrificial nature of the Mass. The faithful have the right to the Sacraments, free from legitimate concerns that the matter, form, intention, and minister are not doubtful or defective-but today that concern, on all four counts, should be the norm rather than the exception.
Make no mistake-Pope Benedict has a Herculean job here. Just recently, in response to Cardinal Arinze’s attempt to repair the mistranslation of the Consecration of the wine, an influential American bishop insisted that doing so “could be easily misinterpreted as denying the faith of the Roman Catholic Church that Christ died for all people.” Discussion of the idea that the actual words of Jesus Christ must be altered to conform to modernist thinking will have to wait for another time. A humble suggestion to Pope Benedict: these evils must be corrected swiftly and forcefully. Cardinal Arinze should not have give the English speaking bishops two years to correct “for all” to “for many”-he should have required each bishop to call every priest in his diocese and order him to take a felt tipped pen and correct every missal in his church before nightfall-“otherwise, pack your bags and get out!” Of course their would have been confusion, anger, and even lawsuits, but that is the price of a sacrilege that should have been corrected forty years ago in 1967-and this writer will bet that the anger, confusion, and legal expenses would be considerably less than those associated with bishops and priests raping altar boys. The Pope needs to be swift, forceful-and above all-orthodox.
It is not possible to say that the Conciliar Church was “just changing with the times” and had to adopt all of these modernisms just to keep from losing “the young people” or “the people of the third world.” For many centuries the Catholic Church was the single anchor of cultural stability in Western Civilization. The Conciliar Church did not change in order to keep up with that Civilization-it changed in order to change or even destroy that Civilization. Men named Montini, Wojtyla, and Ratzinger were an important part of that attempt.
Question: Why are priests sometimes called “Reverend,” and other times called “Father”?
Answer: "Reverend" is an adjective, and it should be preceded by "The." At least in theory it is saying something about the person, rather than naming him. It is more or less equivalent to saying that one is "revered" or held in high esteem. Higher ranking clerics (being held in higher esteem) are styled "The Right Reverend...," "The Very Reverend...," or "The Most Reverend....." Deacons are "The Reverend Mister...," and simple priests are "The Reverend ...." In Catholic circles, "Reverend" is not a title of direct address--one says "good morning Father Smith," and not "good morning Reverend Smith."
A comparable civil title would be "The Honorable...," held by cabinet officers, representatives, ambassadors, and governors. The British recognize degrees among the Honourable, like "The Right Honourable Viscount ...."
Secular authorities on etiquette suggest that the indirect address of a simple priest ought to be “The Reverend Father...”; most likely to distinguish priests from ministers. The brevity of modern communications might reduce that to “Rev. Fr...,” but the full title ought to be used in formal writing.
The following table of indirect address (e.g. the envelope for a letter) and direct address (e.g. the salutation in a letter) is adapted from several sources. For the United States, they are in general agreement, with differences as noted below:
1. RNS account of The Most Reverend Donald Trautman’s 4 January 2007 keynote address to the Catholic Academy of Liturgy meeting in Toronto. RNS later scrubbed the account, but we have the original in caché.
2. Kay Toy Fenner, American Catholic Ettiquette (Westminster: Newman Press, 1961), pages 393-396; Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Ettiquette (Garden City: Doubleday, 1963), pages 464-466; The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Ecclesiastical Addresses” www.newadvent.org/cathen/01137a.htm