Ecumenism, ancient and new

The patristic reading from today’s Office of Readings is beautifully appropriate for this anniversary of Summorum Pontificum.

The Pope Emeritus has added many treasures to the Tradition. Currently I am reading his catecheses on St. Paul, and I feel that if this were his only contribution, it would be of immense importance. However, it was not his only contribution, and thankfully among all the rest, he has left us an example of a new ecumenism–which, when reading St. Augustine, we realize is a retrieval of something venerably old.

Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptize us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. Hence their error of denying that we are their brothers. Why then did the prophet tell us: Say to them: You are our brothers? It is because we acknowledge in them that which we do not repeat. By not recognizing our baptism, they deny that we are their brothers; on the other hand, when we do not repeat their baptism but acknowledge it to be our own, we are saying to them: You are our brothers.

If they say, “Why do you seek us? What do you want of us?” we should reply: You are our brothers. They may say, “Leave us alone. We have nothing to do with you.” But we have everything to do with you, for we are one in our belief in Christ; and so we should be in one body, under one head.

There are those who, though in some sense one with us, are out of communion with us. How do we restore communion? By making paths of restoration.

Those who are attached to older usages, both the Sarum and the preconciliar expressions of the one sacrifice of Christ, have now a path to full communion with the see of Peter. Full justice is given to everyone in this type of ecumenism, which seeks unity according to the Lord’s prayer on the night He was betrayed, and according to His example of solidarity with the human race while remaining true to His divine nature.

These paths of reconciliation are not easy: they do not brush away the real difficulties. But they are righteous and true. And here I am reminded of the words of the Pope Emeritus, when taking on the responsibilities of the shepherd, in his inaugural homily:

Here I want to add something: both the image of the shepherd and that of the fisherman issue an explicit call to unity. “I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16); these are the words of Jesus at the end of his discourse on the Good Shepherd. And the account of the 153 large fish ends with the joyful statement: “although there were so many, the net was not torn” (John 21:11). Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn! But no – we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with him: yes, Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!



Office Hymn in Honor of Saints Peter and Paul

Here is a description of Apostolorum passio, a majestic hymn in honor of the pillar apostles, Ss. Peter and Paul.

Anyone may use my translation of Apostolorum passio freely this year. I translated it with the tune Agincourt/ Deo Gratias in mind.

Blest day by suff’ring sanctified:
Christ’s chosen high apostles died.
Today St. Peter wins renown.
Today St. Paul accepts the crown.

Together, equally, they bled:
Together: the victorious dead.
They followed God and sacrificed
And now their faith is crowned by Christ.

St. Peter holds the highest place,
Yet Paul is not the less by grace.
An equal faith was giv’n to Paul:
The chosen vessel of God’s call.

St. Peter, downward crucified—
To honor God in how he died—
Securely tied, he sees unfold
The death his Shepherd once foretold.

On such foundations Rome may claim
The highest service of God’s name.
His noble blood has dignified
The city where this prophet died.

Let all the world, then, run to Rome.
Let families of nations come!
The head of nations teaches there
Beside the nations’ teacher’s chair.

O Lord, we ask that we may be
In their exalted company,
And with our princes sing Your praise
Forever, to unending days.

Trans. c. 2010 Kathleen Pluth. May be used freely June 28-29, 2020. All other rights reserved.


Punk Christians, Weird Christians–Young Christians

When Catholic leaders consider the options for how to “pivot” into a post-Covid world, perhaps it would be a good idea to take a look at what is already working extremely well.

Consider the Church Music Association of America’s annual Colloquium, which is being held virtually this year. The Colloquium is overwhelmingly young. Young adults flock in annually for a rigorous, glorious week of Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony.


Consider the Chartres Pilgrimage, a 10,000 strong annual 3-day, 60-mile hike from Paris to Chartres, emphasizing the Extraordinary Form.

Colloquial evidence strongly indicates that in cities where parishes are being closed or consolidated due to a lack of parishioners, liturgically formal parishes are thriving. And while religious communities without a strong sense of liturgy are rapidly diminishing, those with a strong custom of common prayer are thriving.

Two recent articles have appeared to discuss this phenomenon among the young, both using the expression “Weird Christianity.” Both are worth a good read.

More and more young Christians, disillusioned by the political binaries, economic uncertainties and spiritual emptiness that have come to define modern America, are finding solace in a decidedly anti-modern vision of faith. As the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns throw the failures of the current social order into stark relief, old forms of religiosity offer a glimpse of the transcendent beyond the present.

Many of us call ourselves “Weird Christians,” albeit partly in jest. What we have in common is that we see a return to old-school forms of worship as a way of escaping from the crisis of modernity and the liberal-capitalist faith in individualism.

Weird Christians reject as overly accommodationist those churches, primarily mainline Protestant denominations like Episcopalianism and Lutheranism, that have watered down the stranger and more supernatural elements of the faith (like miracles, say, or the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ). But they reject, too, the fusion of ethnonationalism, unfettered capitalism and Republican Party politics that has come to define the modern white evangelical movement.

They are finding that ancient theology can better answer contemporary problems than any of the modern secular world’s solutions.

More here.
In print, the piece was titled “The Future Of Christianity Is Punk.”


Younger people are flocking to late-night Latin Mass — at least they were pre-COVID — and embracing Christian orthodoxy in online spaces.

So says Tara Isabella Burton, America-based author of the forthcoming book Strange Rites and a member of the self-proclaimed “Weird Christian” movement.

“The term is often applied to young, online Christians who embrace the elements of their faith that might be considered weird by the modern world,” Burton explains.

Elements, she says, like the death and resurrection of Jesus.

“We don’t have to explain away miracles or fit them into a modern scientific system, but actually embrace the strangeness of those ideas.”

The allure of Weird Christianity goes beyond an espousal of the Bible. Burton says the otherworldly nature of religious rituals are also appealing to the young and disillusioned.

“There’s a sense of enchantment that often comes with the pageantry,” says Burton, who attends St Ignatius of Antioch in New York City, part of the Episcopalian or Anglo-Catholic tradition.

More here.


Meanwhile, the greatest story ever told is now an app. The Chosen, a telling of the vocation stories in the Gospels in a way that is authentic, reverent, and decidedly hip, is universally available for viewing or free download on a pay-it-forward system.

The fields are white for the harvest! Will Church programming post-COVID be willing to minister to the widely expressed testimony of the longing of young souls for truth, beauty, and goodness?


Adoro Te devote

In honor of Corpus Christi, I thought I would offer this basic explainer video on some of the doctrinal content of the Adoro Te devote.

1. With devotion I adore You, O God concealed;
Hidden under figures here, yet by faith revealed.
Even prayer is silent now. All my heart bows low.
Deepest truth is present here, more than minds can know.

2. Seeing, touching, tasting You–senses can deceive.
Hearing is the path of faith. This shall I believe.
Jesus said it; I believe. True His words must be:
God the Son, the Word of truth, must speak truthfully.

3. On the cross You only hid Your divinity.
Here You also have concealed Your humanity.
Yet I still believe in both, and this faith I say,
And the prayer the good thief prayed, this I also pray.

4. Thomas saw Your wounded hands and your wounded side.
Even though I do not see, I am satisfied.
Jesus Christ, my Lord, my God, gladly I adore.
Make me trust you, hope in you, love you more and more.

5. O memorial of the death of my living Lord,
Living Bread whose saving health human life restored.
Let me find my life in You, ever-living food.
Let me ever taste of You, knowing You are good.

6. Pelican, so full of love, Jesus, gracious Lord,
Wash me, cleanse me of my sins in Your blood outpoured.
All the sins in all the world that have ever been–
Just one drop is blood enough: all may be made clean.

7. Jesus, hidden from my eyes, bring me to that place
Where your saints in endless joy see you face to face.
How I long to gaze on you through eternity.
Blest are they who trust in you, and your glory see. Amen.

Translation c. Kathleen Pluth