Monday, June 30, 2014

Distinction: Points of View vs. Worldview

There is a difference between specific points of view on various matters and a worldview that frames those points of view. Specific points of view are formed by premises and conclusions about some matter and use a discourse provided by the worldview behind them. The worldview itself is the narrative that makes all points of view for an individual coherent, or at least attempts to do so. Clearly, many individuals hold within their own worldviews conflicting points of view, of which conflict they may not be cognizant; and this for several possible reasons: 1) ignorance; 2) lack of self reflection; 3) lack of understanding the implications of other points of view or a worldview (related to ignorance); 4) a psychological factor that presses them to accept the conflict, such as guilt, resentment, or desire, etc.

Therefore, when a person, for example, says that they are Christian, or spiritual, or an atheist, or a supporter of something, and when two people attempt to discuss an issue, although they may happen to use similar words in their conversation, these words may be nuanced by radically different worldviews and narratives and hence carry different meanings. These different meanings, however, may contain enough similarity between the two people that their differences go unnoticed. This phenomenon is most clearly seen when people "talk past each other" in a debate. The reason is not simply that a word must be defined, but the context of the word must also be defined. When both the words used and the context in which those words are placed have been defined and displayed clearly, a conversation may begin.

The process of listening to another involves differing degrees of self-reflection, in which the discourse of another person is compared with one's own in order to spot differences and similarities and hence make progress in conversation. Listening requires the realization that there must be a synchronizing of some kind in order to advance in the conversation.

Sometimes for this synchronizing to occur, either or both of the participants must undergo a process of growth—in knowledge, in reflexivity, in maturity, etc.

Thus many younger Christians who don't understand what Protestantism is in contrast with Catholicism because they don't even know the basic history of their own religion, such Christians will never understand the stresses that Catholicism places on certain aspects of Catholic faith, such as justification, salvation, the Sacraments, the Pope, apostolic succession, the communion of Saints, etc.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Conversion for the Modern Man

Few Catholics get most of their information or influence from God, the Scriptures, or Church teaching. Most are far more aware of and inclined to listen to secular leaders, pop musicians, entertainers, sports figures, and the general cultural din. And this is where they develop even their most critical insights about God, family, sexuality, and many significant moral questions.
Source: Msgr. Charles Pope, "The Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the Evangelization of the Culture," Archdiocese of Washington blog, June 8, 2014, accessed June 26, 2014,

The process of conversion for the modern man, where conversion is always a twofold movement of changing the orientation of the heart away from sin and towards God (metanoia), inevitably will mean moving away from worldly and demonic sources and towards heavenly ones for the inspiration and formation of our worldview, sentiments, and actions. Our progress can be measured by what habitual forms of thinking, speaking, and acting we refer to in day-to-day life. In other words, as the Spirit of God works through us and His inspirations become "connatural" to our way of being, we will know whether we are moving away from or towards God.

The pinnacle of our modernity is the comfort of civilization advanced in its technology, resting on a foundation of modern science and modern philosophical-political ideology after the Enlightenment. How we arrived at this point is irrelevant for understanding conversion, but the point is that at the root of modern life is the seeking of comfort through technological products. This seeking of comfort is so deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness that evil is now primarily defined as that which goes against personal comfort; in other words, evil has been reduced from what properly refers to moral depravity to a scale of feelings deemed negative. Abortion is legitimate in this view because the child would be inconvenient; gay marriage is legitimate because it is the only way for a homosexual couple to be happy and live in the comfort of their mutual affection; religion in the public square is evil because it dictates against the individual's way of life; rape is evil because it violates a person's bodily, psychological, and personal integrity as well as the right to consensual relations. Etc.

Therefore, the process of conversion for the modern man will include a progressive realization of this tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain, even to the point of mortal sin and justifying that sin. The Christian Faith reveals to us the antithesis of the modern lifestyle: it sees physical evil as a true deprivation but ultimately nothing compared to the evil of sin. Its goal is not comfort but conformity to God, transformation in Christ, connaturality with the movements of the Holy Ghost. It desires that God's name be glorified through the establishment of His kingdom first in the individual soul and then collectively among the nations. This establishment occurs only where God's will is done in all joyful obedience, sustained by the spiritual nourishment that God provides us, above all in the Holy Eucharist. The channel of grace remains open to those who psychologically and spiritually prepare themselves by letting go of resentment and bitterness through the forgiveness of others' sins against us. Finally, it demands that we begin to reconstruct our environment such that it becomes the most conducive towards recollection and true Christian spirituality, that it becomes a place fostering holiness and holy desires. It requires that we remove ourselves from occasions of sin, temptation, and the deliberate participation in both explicitly evil and implicitly spiritually harmful activities and ways of life. This process is summarized in the Our Father in reverse order of its petitions, where the end (the glory of God) is always first in intention but last in execution for the beginner:

Deliver us from evil: we beg for the grace to begin the process of conversion while cooperating with that grace to remove ourselves from the explicit evil in our lives as far as possible.

Lead us not into temptation: we beg for grace to overcome temptation while cooperating with that grace to remove occasions of sin and setting up an environment conducive to holiness.

As we forgive others their trespasses: we are taught humility and forgiveness, the two necessary conditions for receiving God's grace, which begins with God's forgiveness of our sins.

Forgive us our trespasses: This is the moment of justification and the continual strengthening against our vices through receiving the grace of Confession.

Give us this day our daily bread: We beg for the reception of daily strength to grow in our spiritual lives, to persevere, especially through sacramental and spiritual Communion. It is only through the strength that comes from grace that we can do any of these things but above all God's will.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: Strengthened and nourished by the Eucharist and the graces of Confession, we resolve to do God's will. We beg for the grace to know and do God's will in all things.

Thy kingdom come: The consistent doing of God's will is the establishment of God's kingdom in the soul. Where God's will is done, there God reigns. When this commitment to God's will becomes collective, God's kingdom is shared among many individuals.

Hallowed be Thy name: This is the goal of all our striving: the glory of God. This is what we work towards in our service of God. We beg for the grace that this end become a reality in us individually and collectively. This petition demands right worship of God, full assent to His self-revelation, and the joyful accomplishment of His commandments and counsels (to those called to religious life) or even the spirit of the counsels (to the rest), the keeping of which is necessary for spiritual perfection.

Concretely, the beginning of this process involves removing ourselves from all sources of comfort that distract us from God. In this point lies the difficulty of the modern man's conversion: his technological advancements, rather than providing time and space for leisure, serve as an unending means of distraction and agitation from leisure for God. The evil of modern comfort lies not in the comfort itself but in that it is used to distract us from conversion to God and from the facing and repenting of our sins. Here are many things that keep us from God:

Movies, TV, YouTube and other online media entertainment, Facebook and other social websites, video games, including those on cell phones, texting, email, reading useless material, such as newspapers, magazines, books not necessary for professional or spiritual purposes, sports, gambling, radio, secular music (even sacred music removed from its properly sacred context, such as listening to Gregorian chant outside of the liturgy or personal devotional use, where it doesn't belong);

Recreational drug use and alcohol and tobacco;

Sexual activity outside of its procreative function in Holy Matrimony, pornography, eroticism, dating, flirtation, immodesty, tattoos, piercings, vain focus on the body through make-up or dying the hair;

Junk foods and fast foods, sodas, many "juices," coffee or tea that isn't part of a legitimate meal (outside of which becomes a sign of a harmful addiction).

Here are some behaviors that keep us from God:

Swearing and cussing, thoughts and words of hostility, gossip, competitive behavior, threatening, jokes at the expense of others.

Here are some ways we can make prayer constant throughout the day:

Weekly and/or daily Mass, arriving with time to prepare and giving time afterwards for thanksgiving, dressing modestly and reverently, wearing the Miraculous Medal or Brown Scapular or other medals of the Saints, praying the Jesus Prayer, praying Lauds, Vespers, or Compline, praying the Angelus, the Rosary, praying for souls in Purgatory and those in danger of hell.

For more, see:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

St. Teresa of Avila and Humility in Prayer

A patient and trusting humility must accompany perseverance:
What, then, will he do here who finds that for many days he experiences nothing but aridity, dislike, distaste and so little desire to go and draw water that he would give it up entirely if he did not remember that he is pleasing and serving the Lord of the garden; if he were not anxious that all his service should not be lost, so say nothing of the gain which he hopes for from the great labour [sic] of lowering the bucket so often into the well and drawing it up without water? ... What, then, as I say, will the gardener do here? He will be bold and take heart and consider it the greatest of favours [sic] to work in the garden of so great an Emperor; and, as he knows that he is pleasing Him by so working (and his purpose must be to please, not himself, but Him), let him render Him great praise for having placed such confidence in him; ... let him help Him to bear the Cross and consider how He lived with it all His life long; let him not wish to have his kingdom on earth or cease from prayer; and so let him resolve, even if this aridity should persist his whole life long, never to let Christ fall beneath the Cross. The time will come when he shall receive his whole reward at once. (Life, xi; Peers, I, 66-7)
Such dispositions of loving and patient humility are already one of the fruits of spiritual dryness. Because they bring the soul to share in the providential design that permits and uses aridities for the sanctification of the elect, they very soon obtain high favors from God:
These trials bring their own reward.... It has become clear to me that, even in this life, God does not fail to recompense them highly; for it is quite certain that a single one of those hours in which the Lord has granted me to taste of Himself has seemed to me later a recompense for all the afflictions which I endured over a long period while keeping up the practice of prayer. (Ibid.; 67)
Jesus conquered by a humble and loving patience. And this same disposition will assure the soul a triumph over the interior and exterior obstacles that hinder it from union with God.

In the Interior Castle, Saint Teresa sums up this doctrine:
As it has been such a troublesome thing for me, it may perhaps be so for you as well, so I am just going to describe it, first in one way and then in another, hoping that I may succeed in making you realize how necessary it is, so that you may not grow restless and distressed. The clacking old mill must keep on going round and we must grind our own flour: neither the will nor the understanding must cease working. 
This trouble will sometimes be worse, and sometimes better, according to our health and according to the times and seasons. The poor soul may not be to blame for this, but it must suffer none the less.... And as we are so ignorant that what we read and are advised—namely, that we should take no account of these thoughts—is not sufficient to teach us, it does not seem to me a waste of time if I go into it farther and offer you some consolation about it; though this will be of little help to you until the Lord is pleased to give us light. But it is necessary (and His Majesty's will) that we should take proper measures and learn to understand ourselves, and not blame our souls for what is the work of our weak imagination and our nature and the devil. (IV Mansions, i; Peers, II, 235 f.)

Source: Fr. Marie-Eugéne, I Want to See God, trans. by M. Verda Clare (Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 1953), 248–249.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

St. Teresa of Avila and Perseverance in Prayer

"[Perseverance] is the most necessary thing here" (II Mansions, i; Peers, II, 214) proclaims Saint Teresa; and she never tires of repeating it. [...] It was through perseverance that she herself obtained her supernatural riches: "Not many days would pass without my spending long periods in prayer, unless I was very ill or very busy."

The greatest temptation of her life was to remain a year or more without praying, because to refrain from prayer seemed to her more humble (Life, vii; Peers, I, 42).

Perseverance will have for its object not only the exercise of prayer itself, but also the asceticism of recollection that must accompany it. We must keep a guard over the senses during the day, abstain from dissipating frivolities, and turn our minds and hearts to the Master as frequently as possible by ejaculatory prayers or acts of the theological virtues.

Distractions and dryness in prayer enlighten the soul. They show it its deep-seated weaknesses and the precise causes of its distractions. There may be some recurring attachment or antipathy; an impression that is troubling still; such or such an image that clamors for attention; or a memory that is hindering recollection. Better than by detailed examens, the soul thus discovers the exact point to which it must apply the efforts of its asceticism to acquire recollection.

Let the soul persevere, Saint Teresa assures us, and even though one be a sinner, God will be merciful:
I cannot conceive, my Creator, why the whole world does not strive to draw near to Thee in this intimate friendship. Those of us who are wicked, and whose nature is not like Thine, ought to draw near to Thee so that Thou mayest make them good. They should allow Thee to be with them for at least two hours each day, even though they may not be with Thee, but are perplexed, as I was, with a thousand worldly cares and thoughts. In exchange for the effort which it costs them to desire to be in such good company (for Thou knowest, Lord, that at first this is as much as they can do and sometimes they can do no more at all) Thou dost prevent the devils from assaulting them ... and Thou givest them strength to conquer. (Life, viii; Peers, I, 50-1)
In short, only perseverance can make sure of success in prayer.


Source: Fr. Marie-Eugéne, I Want to See God, trans. by M. Verda Clare (Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 1953), 247–248.

Dating Confusion

A recent survey shows how confused our society is on "dating" and "hanging out," along with its accompanying social expectations and norms. Text-based forms of communication, such as texting and email, have further alienated individuals and their ability to understand the intentions of those around them. Check out the statistics and story:

Distinction: Resolve and Achievement

A trap in the spiritual life that I've been learning through experience is neglecting the difference between making a resolution and achieving the goal of that resolution. Making the resolution is the first step towards reaching the goal, not the goal itself. If I resolve to avoid a particular kind of sin, it doesn't mean that I will from that point on be able to avoid the sin as though I had complete control over myself. The resolve is made precisely because I know that I have a hard time avoiding that sin, so when I make the resolution, I should make it with the realization that I will now undergo a spiritual war in which I will probably lose many battles, but with the Lord's help, achieve ultimate victory.

Because the resolution is the first step towards reaching the goal but not the goal itself, it would be silly for me to be discouraged at failure. The only real failure would be to give up the resolution all together. Only through persevering in renewing the resolution and putting it into practice will I ever hope to achieve the goal of the resolution.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Repost: 17th Cent. German Catholic and Protestant Organ Music

The appearance of discernible trends in German keyboard music marks the beginning of the seventeenth century. In addition to the traditional separation between sacred and secular forms there was another: Catholic or Protestant. Each religion had its characteristic liturgy and musical forms, although some were common to both, and indigenous to geographic boundaries. While the North embraced the Protestant faith, the South remained steadfastly Catholic.

The Catholic liturgy, which had almost entirely abandoned congregational singing, limited organists to versets, preludes and interludes that were based on a Gregorian cantus firmus, though some characteristic musical forms did come into existence through the inspiration of the new currents of national schools, particularly Italian and French types. The Italian form of the keyboard score, using the standard forms of mensural notation, made its appearance in Austria and Bavaria where the Italian influence was strongest. Here, organists who were also court musicians and harpsichordists, enthusiastically embraced the music of Frescobaldi and Lully. But the organ was used mainly in connection with the Mass, the Magnificat, and a few devotional hymns usually associated with Vespers. These were cantus firmus compositions based on the plainsong propers and preserved, presumably, the alternatim practice of juxtaposing organ versets against vocal plainchant. We also find universal forms such as the toccata used in the Mass, since compositions intended expressly for Catholic use were not prevalent at the time. This paucity of Catholic organ music is quite surprising, given the importance of composers such as Georg Muffat, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Franz Xaver Murschhauser who were active in Catholic cities such as Munich and Vienna. Instead, imitative contrapuntal forms and secular genres constitute the more impressive portion of their output for the keyboard. Paradoxically, a significant amount of Catholic organ repertory was not written by Catholic composers at all but by their Protestant colleagues, since many Lutheran cathedrals still used Masses, Magnificats, and certain office hymns with their Latin texts. Noteworthy, are no less than ninety-four fugues on the Magnificat by Johann Pachelbel!

By comparison, there is an extraordinary amount of music based on Lutheran chorale melodies by Protestant organist-composers. This was an outgrowth of Martin Luther's third reform (Luther's Werke, L,368-74) which thoroughly endorsed congregational singing. Indeed, it encouraged "sensitivity to the beauty of artistically refined music." Luther, himself, loved the contrapuntal compositions of Josquin, Isaac, and Senfl. He wrote a most eloquent and romantic eulogy to polyphonic art, though he abhorred the deliriously wandering melismata in which words evaporated like incense. He wanted to restore the intelligibility of the text.

The chorale themes form the musical basis of the Reformation liturgy, initially consisted of plainchant melodies, popular tunes, and songs of German, Italian, French, and Dutch origin. The early reformers themselves enriched the Protestant hymnal; Luther contributed over forty original, adapted, and borrowed themes. As in Roman practice, where plainsong is proper to particular seasons and festivals, the Protestant chorale is of integral importance to the Protestant liturgy, with a distinctive character and function for each occasion. Furthermore, certain chorales correspond to components of the Mass (Wir glauben all' an einen Gott, for example, is the Lutheran Credo). The assimilation of this huge body of material, not only into organ music but vocal and instrumental works as well, was undertaken with great enterprise by the Protestant composers.


Reposted: "Instrumental Music in Church"

The Organ

Of all instruments of music, the human voice is the most perfect, because it is most admirably adapted to give expression to the most varied emotions which in turn sway the heart of man. One of the oldest and most persistent instincts of mankind is to imitate, reproduce, or amplify the human voice. Musical instruments of every description, from the primitive reed pierced by a few holes and emitting a few monotonous sounds to the Strad or the modern grand organ, all serve but that one purpose. Musical instruments are as old as the world; in their use man has sought comfort in grief and increase of his happiness; their harmony has enhanced the beauty and solemnity of both public and private functions among civilized peoples, and there probably never was a time when not only vocal, but likewise instrumental music, formed part of the public observances of religion.

This is not the place to study the history and evolution of instrumental music; however, it will be useful briefly to examine the place of this kind of music in the sacred ceremonies of the Old Law, and the manner in which it came to form an almost integral part of Catholic worship.

The Bible ascribes the fabrication of the first musical instrument to Jubal, the son of Lamech: we are told that, "he was the father of them that play upon the harp and the organs" (Gen., iv. 21). Obviously, there is no question here of organs in the modern sense of the word: Jubal's "organs" are only a generic name for wind instruments of every description, for it is hardly probable that those primitive musical instruments were very much more than rustic reeds or flutes and similar instruments. However, the rapid progress of all the arts and crafts led to a wonderful improvement of musical instruments. Trumpets appear to have been the only instruments used by the Israelites for religious purposes. Some of these were made of brass, others were only the horns of rams — these last were ceremonially blown to mark the beginning of the New Year. Two silver trumpets, made by the command of the Lord, were used not only for the purpose of giving various signals, but for exclusively religious objects: "If at any time you shall have a banquet, and on your festival days, and on the first days of your months, you shall sound the trumpets over the holocausts, and the sacrifices of peace offerings..." (Num. x. 10). Sacred History tells us what role the trumpets of the priests played at the taking of Jericho. When the temple came to be built, and already in the reign of David, there was a vast number of musicians, playing on divers instruments, who accompanied the singing, thus adding luster to the liturgical functions of the tabernacle and the temple.

Nor was the use of musical instruments confined to the Jews. We gather from the Book of Daniel that music was an integral part of the religious ceremonies of the Assyrians. The Liturgy of Holy Saturday has familiarized us long ago with the names of the manifold instruments composing the orchestra which played at the dedication of the golden statue set up by Nabuchodonosor the king.

The early Christians rigidly banned musical instruments from their religious assemblies. At any rate, there is no mention of their use, and several texts positively show that, at least in the period preceding the Peace of the Church, the singing of the clergy and people was unsupported by any instrument whatever. There are writers who think that the hymns and psalms were accompanied on the harp or lyre. This may have been the case in private singing, but there is no document to prove the use of these instruments in the public services of the Church. A text of Clement of Alexandria can hardly be said to prove more than the above-made statement: "Though we no longer worship God with the clamor of military instruments, such as the trumpet, drum and fife, but with peaceful words, this is our most delightful festivity; and if you are able to accompany your voices with the lyre or kithara, you shall incur no censure" (cfr. Burney, "Hist. of Music," II, 26). It seems to be a matter beyond doubt that, when writers of the first three or four centuries speak of the lyre or harp as accompanying the sacred chant, there is never question of ecclesiastical or liturgical chant. We know how strictly the Eastern Churches have clung to the primitive observance: no other sound is heard at their liturgical services, save that of the human voice. A like exclusiveness is observed in the Papal Chapels at Rome, where the sound of the organ is never heard, but only the human voice. But all the world knows the wonderful music composed for the Papal choir and the brilliant maestria with which it is executed. The severity of the primitive Church will be readily understood when we bear in mind the uses which instrumental music was then put to. The organ is a familiar, and all but indispensable article in the furniture and decoration of a modern church, and church and organ are so closely linked together in our minds that we look upon the organ as a purely ecclesiastical object, or as serving a religious purpose, even when we find it placed in some of our public halls. This association is, of course, mainly due to the fact that the improvements, which the primitive organ received in the course of the centuries especially in the eighteenth is almost exclusively owing to its concurrence in the solemn services of the Catholic Church.

However, the organ is not a Christian discovery, but was already known in the third century before our era. Its inventor was a barber of Alexandria, one Ctesibius, who had likewise a taste for mechanics. He observed that the counterweight of a movable mirror, used for the purpose of his trade, produced a musical sound by the force with which it drove the air out of the tube in which it moved. Basing his experiments on this principle he succeeded in constructing a machine consisting of a hollow vessel inverted, with an opening on the top, to which was attached a trumpet. On water being pumped into the vessel, the air was forcibly driven into the trumpet, thus producing a very powerful sound. This was the first step on a road, which has led to the building of our modern organ. The idea of Ctesibius was developed by another engineer, a certain Hero. He constructed a musical instrument in which the air was conveyed from the vessel not only to one, but to several pipes, placed in a row and arranged in the order of a musical scale, any one of which could be made to sound at will. Water being the chief motive power, the instrument was called hydraulus. Vitruvius gives an elaborate description of an hydraulus, which shows that by the first century there was already a great advance upon the invention of Ctesibius and Hero. The hydraulus — or organ, as we may now call it — obtained an immediate and immense popularity, even emperors becoming not only patrons of the new instrument, but performers as well. Suetonius relates that, when Nero was reduced to flee from the pursuit of those who sought his death, he vowed that, if he escaped with his life, he would enter the public contests as a performer on the organ and other instruments. Claudian, a pagan poet of the fourth century, writes with enthusiasm of the organist who, with a light touch, sends forth powerful, rolling sounds, and by his wandering fingers causes the innumerable voices which spring from the multitude of bronze pipes to sound, and who, with a beam-like lever, can rouse the struggling waters to song. We have here a description of an instrument of considerable size and perfection, for the poet was much struck by the number of pipes and the powerful bellows, which were worked with handles of such size as to suggest beams. In point of fact, the pictures and engravings that have come down to us from early and medieval times, and which enable us to follow up the origin and evolution of the organ, make it quite plain that not only was the blower's task a laborious one, but even the performer on the instrument must have worked at the sweat of his brow. The keys had a breadth of several inches and the mechanism was so cumbersome that to strike a note on the keyboard had nothing metaphorical about it, but meant a blow with the clenched fist, or even with the elbow. There is a remarkable relief on an obelisk at Constantinople, dating from the time of Theodosius, which shows a stage, at the two ends of which there is an organ, the bellows being worked by two men. On the stage are seen flute players and dancers. This scene helps us to understand the reluctance of ecclesiastical authorities to sanction the use of the instrument in church. It had hitherto been so exclusively associated with the noisy, and too frequently lascivious entertainments of the theatre. No wonder St. Jerome (Ep. cvii ad Laet.) wishes the Christian maiden to be deaf when the alluring melodies of the organ were to be heard (surda sit ad organa).

From what has been said it follows that, even if the word organ be frequently used in a general manner to designate any kind of concerted instrumental music, the word has yet a very clear and definite meaning. There has been in existence for more than two thousand years an instrument, which was not essentially different from our modern organ, so much so that at least one historian of the instrument has not hesitated to say that there has been no substantial improvement upon the organ as described by Vitruvius, and the instruments built in the eighteenth century.

St. Augustine makes repeated allusions to the organ. Commenting upon the words of Psalm cl, "Praise him on the strings and organs," he says:

"Both psaltery and harp, which have been mentioned above, have strings. But organ is a general name for all instruments of music, although usage has now obtained that those are specially called organ which are inflated with bellows ... he added the organ, to signify that they (the Saints) sound not each separately, but sound together in most harmonious diversity, just as they are arranged in a musical instrument (ideo addidit organum, non ut singulae sonent, sed ut diversitate concordissima consonent, sicut ordinantur in organo). For even then the Saints of God will have their differences, accordant, not discordant, that is, agreeing, not disagreeing, just as sweetest harmony arises from sounds differing indeed, but not opposed to one another."

At what period was the organ admitted into our churches? It is impossible to answer the question with absolute certainty, but it would appear that Pope Vitalian first gave it right of citizenship in the Christian assembly. This would be prior to Charlemagne. There are writers who suggest that the Pope merely sanctioned a custom already established. After the Byzantine emperors had presented both Pepin and Charlemagne with organs of considerable size and excellent workmanship, a real industry of organ building sprang into existence in the West. Gaul and Germany appear to have possessed the most highly skilled organ builders and players, for in 873 Pope John VIII asked Bishop Anno of Freising (cfr. Mansi, xvii, 245) to send him not only the very best instrument that could be procured, but likewise an organ builder who would be able to explain to the Romans the working of the organ and teach them how to perform upon it" (ut optimum organum cum artifice, qui hoc moderari et facere ad omnem modulationis efficaciam possit, ad instructionem musicae disciplinae nobis deferas aut mittas).

The organ became a source of endless joy to the simpler people of those days, so that a monastic writer of the Merovingian period, when enumerating the joys of heaven, asserts that one of them is that the Blessed shall hear everlasting organ music (Reg. incert. auct. in "Patrol. Lat," LXXXVIII, vol. 958).

One of the most famous organs of the Middle Ages was that which was erected by St. Elphege at Winchester about 950. From the poetic description of the Monk Wolstan, we gather that this huge organ had four hundred pipes and twenty-six bellows, of which twelve were above and twelve below, blown by seventy strong men (folles agitant validi septuaginta viri). Such an instrument, however, could scarcely be used to accompany the singing, for, stops not having been invented yet, the "full organ" had to be employed. Hence, "like thunder the iron tones batter the ear, so that it may receive no sound but that alone. To such an amount does it reverberate, that everyone stops with his hand his gaping ears, being in nowise able to draw near and hear the sound, which so many combinations produce. The music is heard throughout the town, and the fame thereof is gone over the whole country" (Cf. Abdy Williams, "The Story of the Organ," p. 30).

That in some quarters, especially monastic ones, there was persistent opposition to the use of the organ in churches seems evident from a letter of Archbishop Baldric of Dole (Ep. ad Fiscannenses in "Patrol Lat," CLXVI, col. 1177). After describing the organ, which he saw at Fecamp, he says that there are many who having no organs in their own churches criticize those who possess them. He calls those men detractors who refuse to take to heart the lesson taught by the organ (quod organa nobis innuant, nesciunt exponere). The prelate concludes by saying that, if we possess organs, we allow their use (eis uti ecclesiastica consuetudine permittimus); but, if a church have no organ, this lack is no sacrilege (sine sacrilegio eis carere possumus). And this is the lesson we should take to heart as we listen to the harmonies of the organ: audientes organa, interiori uniamur harmonia, et bituminemur dilectione bifaria.

Besides the large, or grand organ, a smaller instrument came into use towards the end of the Middle Ages. It was called ninfale in Italian, and portative in English. It was frequently hung round the performer's neck, who worked the bellows with one hand and played with the other. These small organs appear frequently on pictures and statues, but no sample has come down to us. They were much used in processions and in small churches or chapels. The following item of the will of Richard Fitz-James, Bishop of London, who died in 1522, is of interest:

"I will that my payre of Portatives being in my chapel in the Palace of London, mine organs, also being and standing in my chapels within my three manors of Fulham, Hadham and Wykeham, shall there stand still and remain to my successor, next bishop of London, that they may be used there to the honour and glory of God."

If there was strong and persistent opposition to the use of the organ down to the twelfth century, the motive may have been, at least in some quarters, a certain amount of puritanism. But in all probability the chief reason in the mind of the objectors was the imperfection and consequent unsuitableness of the instrument, for, at least to the cultured ear, the loud and crude sounds of a clumsy machine may well have seemed to be unbecoming in a place of worship. However, notwithstanding all opposition, the organ gradually became the supreme musical instrument in the Western Church. According to the present legislation of the Church, the organ may be played on all joyful and festive occasions, both to accompany the singing and likewise by way of voluntaries and so forth. The organ should be silent at Requiem Masses, and during Lent and Advent (except on the Sundays Gaudete and Laectare). Moreover, if a choir needs the support of the organ, it is permissible to play it even in Lent and Advent, but only whilst the choir is actually singing. But this indulgence does not extend to the last three days of Holy Week (S. R. C., March 20, 1903, n. 4009).

The organ receives a special blessing from the Church. The organist should, therefore, ever be mindful that he handles an instrument, which has been dedicated and set apart for the service of God. This thought will prevent him from playing upon a consecrated instrument airs, which may be permissible in the concert hall and similar places, but are a profanation of the sanctuary. At the blessing of an organ Psalm cl is first sung, after which follow two responses and a prayer, which admirably describes the fruit we should derive from the use of the organ:

"O God, who didst command Thy servant Moses to make trumpets, to sound over the sacrifices which were to be offered to Thy name, and who didst will that the sons of Israel should sing the praises of Thy name to the sound of trumpets and cymbals, bless this organ which we dedicate to Thy service, and grant that Thy faithful children, rejoicing in spiritual canticles upon earth, may attain unto everlasting joy in heaven. Amen."


Source: Benedictine Monks of Buckfast Abbey, "Instrumental Music in Church," Homiletic and Pastoral Review, June 1927: 965–971; republished:

Joined Hands in Prayer

It is impossible to determine at what period the habit of praying with hands joined together became general. No doubt the practice became part of the devotional life of the faithful when they ceased to pray with outstretched arms; it certainly was so already in the ninth century, because Nicholas V defends the practice against the objections of the Greeks, who pretended that it was unlawful to pray in any other way except with the hands crossed over the breast (cancellatis minibus). The Pope explains that this joining of the hands is an expression of humble submission to the will of God and of our readiness to accept at His hands whatever chastisement it may please Him to lay upon us. The joining of the hands is a beautiful and most eloquent gesture of supplication. The Rubrics are very definite and clear when they describe the manner in which it has to be done: "Junctis manibus ante pectus, extensis et junctis pariter digitis, et pollice dextro super sinistrum posito in modum crucis" (Ritus cel., III.).

We have in this gesture all the essentials of the old-time prayer with outstretched arms, or uplifted hands, the crossing of the thumbs in particular being a reminder of the blessed Passion of our Saviour. The priest should be most careful lest long familiarity with the sacred rites should lead him into slovenly habits. It is a most impressive and edifying spectacle to see a priest, or a number of priests, standing at the altar, or serving in the sanctuary, with hands folded in prayer as prescribed and described in the above Rubric. We should exhort our people to fold their hands in like manner at Mass and particularly when walking up to, or away from, the communion rail. The mere fact of thus folding one's hands is in itself a help and incentive to earnest prayer, for by common consent folded hands are the symbol of a mind united to God.


Source: Benedictine Monks of Buckfast Abbey, "Attitudes During Liturgical Prayer," Homiletic and Pastoral Review, January 26, 1926: 373–380; republished:

Memo: "Catholic Organ Music"

This is a memo to begin looking into what constitutes "Catholic organ music" or even "Catholic music" although I think "Catholic organ music" is less well defined prima facie. 

Part of me suspects that most of this will require historical and scholarly study of a vast amount, examining both Church "published" discipline and Church "practiced" discipline over the different European countries.

First place to look will be papal documents for the "published discipline."

Perhaps becoming familiar with what different authors were writing in treatises on organ playing and chant accompaniment may shed light on what was both being practiced and theorized.

Prompted by this article that I had read a long time ago and, upon rereading, remembered that it wasn't satire or a joke but actually quite serious:

If I had to comment at all about it, I would simply say that most of my peers find organ music to be the distinguishing mark of the Catholic liturgy (this being among people who are not much versed in liturgy, even among seminarians). Even atheist friends, musicians and not, in college would be found in a Catholic church only to hear the organ, say at a concert. Of course, this matter cannot be argued by means of anecdotes.

It's actually a very simple matter: Graham as most Christians do today views the supernatural through a naturalistic lens (distinguishing here between naturalistic and natural; natural pertains to nature as is whereas naturalistic pertains to the secular materialism that is part of the collective consciousness of present Western culture) and thus applies the standards of materialists not only to the ways of grace but also to the ways of the Church. Unfortunately, and I suspect this has almost always been the case throughout time and space, most Christians don't really understand much or anything about liturgy or God or their own religion, even ostensibly devout ones. The result of this ignorance has been very unfortunate. In the present age, otherwise completely unqualified people are now able to opine about matters which they can bring only their own experiences and reflections to—not to say that these are completely irrelevant, but the tendency of our day is to think that individual and collective experience and sentiment have a say in matters that actually they do not or in a way that they do not or cannot. E.g. no matter what people feel or say or think, only one man and one woman may be married to each other in a natural marriage or in the Sacrament of Matrimony; women cannot become priests; God is a Trinity of Persons, unity of nature; etc.

The response to people like Graham (I say that not in any derogatory way) is twofold: 1) educational and 2) evangelical. The educational component requires a study of: the faith itself and gaining the perspective of faith; Church teaching on liturgy and music. The evangelical aspect is a witnessing of the faith that is the only authentic and guaranteed method of bringing people into a living faith, informed by the mind of the Church. The music played at Church is incidental and only symptomatic of the deeper spiritual emptiness experienced throughout most of the present Church, even the organ music. Graham's post, far from being incorrect, rather reveals the unconscious truth of the present Church's state: a state of desolation and emptiness and a profound ignorance and lack of self identity.

This matter of self identity is also to be found in related matters, such as the meaning of clerical vestments and garb, the authority and symbolism of the papacy, the relation between clergy and laity, etc.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Repost: Influence of Pop Culture vs. the Church

It is hard to contend that we are in a period in which the Church has a key influence on culture. It is rather more the case that popular culture has far too greatly influenced us. Few Catholics get most of their information or influence from God, the Scriptures, or Church teaching. Most are far more aware of and inclined to listen to secular leaders, pop musicians, entertainers, sports figures, and the general cultural din. And this is where they develop even their most critical insights about God, family, sexuality, and many significant moral questions.

Liturgically, too, there are many problems associated with the triumph and primacy of modern and popular culture. Most of our modern trends in liturgy reflect the preferences of our culture, rather than the ability to challenge and influence people. And thus liturgy must be convenient, fast, entertaining, youthful, “relevant,” accessible, completely understandable even by the smallest child, warm, comfortable, respecting of diversity, friendly, etc. To be sure, most of these are not bad qualities. But the emphasis on them to the exclusion of balancing principles (such as mystery and tradition), and the often shallow understanding of those balancing principles, shows that popular culture rather than the Church is really in the driver’s seat.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know where exactly to draw the line. When exactly is a song too secular or in bad taste? When does something go from being understandable to being “dumbed down”? When does emphasizing a warm and welcoming environment become too anthropocentric and unprayerful? When does respecting diversity become a Balkanization and “stove-piping” of communities? When does “youthful, vibrant, and relevant” do harm to what is ancient, enduring, and time-tested?


Source: Msgr. Charles Pope, "The Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the Evangelization of the Culture," Archdiocese of Washington blog, June 8, 2014, accessed June 14, 2014,

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Distinction: Beginning of Life vs. Beginning of Human Life vs. Beginning of Human Person

This interviewer confuses three distinct notions: 1) when does "life" start (whatever that means); 2) when does the life of a distinct biological organism start (in this case, a human); 3) when does a human being become a human person.

The first two questions posed as they are in this context makes them biological/scientific questions rather than philosophical ones as the interviewer intended because both questions can be answered very easily by science:

1) to ask when life starts without any further qualification is similar to asking whether the chicken or the egg came first; the sperm and ovum must both be alive for there to be any conception; when conception occurs, a distinct biological organism forms that is alive (this is the beginning of the life of this distinct human);

2) to ask when this biological organism becomes human is simple: by referring to the genetic makeup of the organism, we can tell what species it is; in this case, human.

The third question might be philosophical depending on whether or how a person distinguishes the notion of human being from human person. A lot of the philosophical aspect of the abortion debate circles around these concepts. The political aspects focus more on the utilitarian and concrete consequences of either supporting or preventing abortion.

Of course, for Catholics and many realists, the human being is always a human person because although the notions may be logically distinguishable, they are not so and cannot be so in the concrete. We exercise such "distinguish-ables" all the time: e.g. "tree" doesn't simply exist on its own but exists in concrete manifestations of trees: elm tree, birch tree, apple trees, etc.; there isn't just a "car" but specific models and makes: Honda Civic 2013, Ford Fiesta 2012, Volkswagen Passat 2014, etc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How the Devil Augments Temptations

Temptation properly so-called is rarely the exclusive work of the devil. Ordinarily he uses his knowledge of the dominant tendencies of a soul and his power over the senses in order to make an image more enticing, to stir up an impression, to intensify a pleasure, to quicken thus a desire, or make a solicitation more attractive and more actual, so that it will invade the field of conscience and win the consent of the will.


Source: Fr. Marie-Eugène, I Want to See God, trans. by M. Verda Clare (Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 1953), 106.

Distinction: Divisions of Hatred

Hatred is increasingly becoming the new conversation stopper, similar to using words like "bigot" and "dogmatic." But just because someone uses this word doesn't mean they are using it intelligently or even coherently. It seems therefore convenient and useful to draw up several distinctions and definitions of hatred for Christians. The following is far from adequate but is an attempt to work towards clarity. It is a work in progress.


Last updated: June 7, 2014.

Hatred (synonymous in this case with anger) generically is a movement of extreme dislike, antipathy, or opposition in the face of some perceived evil typically exceeding what is reasonable. By itself the movement is morally neutral. Its object and motivation determine its sinfulness. This movement may occur in the passions (emotions), the intellect, the will, or any combination of the three. This movement may be conscious or unconscious. This movement may be sanctified or not. This movement may be individual or collective.

1.1 Hatred as a passion is a feeling of deep aversion and dislike for some object perceived as evil. Usually it is vigorous and energetic.

1.2 Hatred as an intellectual act is a negative judgment towards an object deeming the object worthy of opposition because it is evil in some way/degree.

  • Problems: this definition is clearly inadequate because it doesn't seem to be able to distinguish between hatred and simple opposition.

1.3 Hatred as an act of the will is a decision to work against an object's proper good due to it, especially through the expression of dislike.

  • Problems: this definition is inadequate for the same reason as above.

2. Hatred may be under the conscious awareness of an individual or group of individuals. In such a case, the individual(s) recognizes the movement of opposition towards a specific object. Nevertheless, the degree of recognition may extend over several levels:

2.1.1 recognition of the movement itself;
2.1.2 recognition of the object of the hatred;
2.1.3 recognition of the reasons for the hatred;
2.1.4 recognition of the unconscious associations motivating the reasons for the hatred.

2.2 Of 2.1.1–2.1.4 above, whichever degree that an individual does not attain to in his conscious awareness remains unconscious. That is unconscious hatred.

3.1 Sanctified or holy hatred can mean either an emotional detachment from some object (as when Christ said, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14:26)) that would otherwise impede the individual's taking responsibility for his own life with moral integrity; or holy hatred may mean an antipathy towards some object fully in accord with God's will primarily by means of connaturality through the activation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and/or secondarily by means of knowledge of the theological sciences. Only insofar as this movement cooperates with the will of God is it a holy hatred. Nevertheless only the movement of the Holy Ghost may fully and in the concrete circumstances protect the movement from exceeding its proper bounds. Although knowledge of the theological sciences may help protect and direct this hatred to a certain extent, knowledge alone is no guarantee of moral excellence and hence self-control.

3.2 Unholy hatred is any hatred that falls outside of the will of God, known primarily connaturally and secondarily through science. This hatred descends by degrees insofar as it moves away from God's expressed will. Furthermore, insofar as this hatred falls outside the will of God, it may apply both to the motivation for the hatred as well as the object of hate. This hatred is therefore by definition sinful to varying degrees.

4.1 Finally, this movement may exist simply in one individual.

4.2 The movement exists collectively when the the same generic movement is focused at the same object. The coherence of this movement increases insofar as its conscious awareness (of varying degrees as indicated above) coordinates and exists identically among individuals. For example, the Saints of heaven possess a collective, holy hatred of sin and all the forces working against God's will, directed principally through the illumination of the Holy Ghost and freely consented to with perfect moral liberty.


To accuse someone of hatred may itself be a veiled act of hatred and may not necessarily mean that the accused actually is acting out of hate.

Furthermore, because hatred may be an act of the will and not concomitantly a movement of the passions, hatred may not be "felt." Hence even apparently apathetic, cold, or even joyful people may be hateful; e.g. a person laughing out of schadenfreude or out of sadistic tendencies.

Indifference is commonly said to be worse than hatred and the "true" opposite of love because at least hatred is some sort of reaction towards an object. In fact, indifference is not the true opposite of love, and often indifference is a form of unconscious hatred precisely because it resists the good by rendering the good meaningless or irrelevant. Indifference may be hatred without its concomitant passion. Strictly speaking, the opposite of an attraction to the good is an aversion from it, but because indifference may also indicate a more subtle form of aversion (by not embracing the proper good), indifference itself may be hatred.

Distinction: Right to Live vs. Right to Conceive

Apropos this chilling article on the growth of gestational surrogacy in recent years (, I would simply comment that there is a difference between the right to live and the "right" to conceive a child by any means possible. Does such a right exist? I don't think so. Although sexual reproduction and the rearing of children may be inherent to our animal nature, such activity is both unnecessary for each individual's happiness even as human and regulated by natural law. No one would argue that because a person has a "right" to conceive a child therefore another person may be raped in order to satisfy that right.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Prayer Is Always Efficacious

That God loves us is certain; that we have contact with Him by faith is a certain truth; but supernatural penetration in God can be effected without leaving us any light, any feeling, any experience whatever of the riches that we have drawn from it.

Nevertheless, the commerce of friendship with God by faith enriches us surely. God is Love, communicating Himself eternally. Just as one cannot plunge his bare hands into water without getting them wet, or into a fire without burning them, likewise one cannot have contact with God by faith without receiving from His infinite riches. The poor sick woman who tried to reach Jesus through the dense crowd, in the streets of Capharnaum, said within herself, "If I can touch but the hem of His garment, I shall be cured." She finally succeeds and, with a touch that thrills her Master, she draws from Him the healing cure (Mark 5:25-34). Every contact with God by faith is likewise efficacious. Independently of the particular graces that it might ask and obtain, it takes from God an increase of supernatural life, a deepening of charity. Love seeks in mental prayer a sustenance, a development, and the perfect union that will satisfy all its desires.


Source: Fr. Marie-Eugène, I Want to See God, trans. by M. Verda Clare (Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 1953), 59-60.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Repost: C. Tournemire's Fantaisie-Choral for Pentecost

A must listen:

Distinction: One Confusion in Gender Norm Analyses

There's a confusion that I've seen in various places whenever an analysis on gender norms is done (and perhaps this tendency exists only among "amateur" analyses). I don't put much interest into such analyses, so I don't keep record of them and can't give any specific examples of where I've seen it happen, but whenever I do read a gender norm analysis, I usually also spot this confusion:

There is a difference between the presentation of the male dominating stereotype with its corresponding female submissiveness and the presence of weakness in a female character at all.

The presence of weakness in a woman is not per se an indication of a gender norm unless one wants to hold that depicting weakness in anyone is a sign of gender/sexual stratification, which seems absurd to me. As humans, we have weaknesses and strengths, each adapted to the individual and circumstances. I've never seen a gender analysis note the unfairness of depicting weakness in any male character. It only rages against that weakness present in female characters.

These analyses, however, do not make their context clear enough: weakness present in female characters becomes gender typing only when the contrast to the presence of strength in male characters is predominant. Sometimes this distinction is made only in a passing paragraph or in the conclusion.

Sometimes I've seen gender norm analysis imply some very bizarre things: for example, if the presence of weakness in female characters is lamented, then the implication (whether the analyzer means it or not) is that female characters ought to be predominantly if not completely strong characters. Yes, it is bizarre and absurd when spelled out so explicitly, but this implication occurs when people tend to write without sufficient clarity and distinction of terms and context. Perhaps one could do a gender norm analysis of these analyses...

Typically (and must this really be stated?), people are interested in characters that possess both strengths and weaknesses. An impenetrable character as well as an infantile character are uninteresting because there is no way to relate to them. If there is a character shrouded by mystery, the assumption is that there is an underlying motive behind that mystery; otherwise the mystery loses its allure. If that motive is not gradually revealed in some way, that mystery loses its appeal. The difficulty for fiction writers is striking the balance between revealing too much and not enough. (E.g. Thomas Harris, who introduced the character Hannibal Lecter to the world, perhaps ended up by revealing too much of the origins of the character's disorder.)

Distinction: Equality of What? Validation of What?

TIME's latest issue spotlights the transgender equality movement in an article titled "America's Transition" by Katy Steinmetz. While reading through it, my attention was drawn immediately to how ambiguous "equality" is. I've commented on this discourse of these sorts of movements before ( There seems to be a blending of several different equalities:

1) Practical equality—equality in pursuing stable and comfortable living circumstances, such as health care, education, employment opportunity and wages, in travel, military, etc.

2) Abstract equality—non-concrete/physical things, such as dignity, ontological status, psychological and spiritual validation, conscience formation and moral responsibility, etc.

Equality is always a difficult concept because its application depends on what is being called equal. Equality is always equality with respect to ... There is a qualifier for equality. When we say that 2=2, we mean equality of quantity. It would be meaningless to say that the number two has equality with respect to its redness. Numbers are intellectual concepts, not things that can possess redness. Likewise, to say that one tree is equal to another as a tree is not to say that any two trees are necessarily the same in height, species, or oxygen production capacity. I can hear it now: "How dare you suggest that elms are in any way inferior to redwoods!"

Therefore, we have to define what is being equated. But to state what is being equated (aequandum), we must have a shared notion of the aequans (the equalizing notion), or in other words, we need a definition. But how do we have a discourse when we meet such statements like: "Perhaps the biggest obstacle is that trans people live in a world largely built on a fixed and binary definition of gender. [...] For the majority of people who are accustomed to understanding gender in fixed terms, the concept of a spectrum can be overwhelming" (pp. 40, 42). Okay, perhaps we could grant that gender is not binary (whatever gender means), but even within a spectrum of possible genders, each gender is a finitude, a specific, concrete, psychological modality. These genders may transition among different genders and gradually be replaced or eclipsed by others, but even in such processes, the transition is from one concrete to the next and back. There cannot be a complete disintegration of gender's manifestations without a total annihilation of any meaningfulness to gender itself. If spectrum makes any particular gender meaningless, then the spectrum itself is a meaningless glob upon which any meaning may be projected and upheld. Under such circumstances, we must return to the question: equality of what? Equality of meaninglessness?

For rational discourse to occur, there must be some subject. Perhaps the transgender movement implies (whether consciously or not) that the entire notion of gender ought to be revamped or even discarded. That may be for another discussion.

The TIME article repeatedly emphasizes that the choices of trans people are based on a fundamental desire to validate their inner psychological experience, which is/has been incongruous to their external experience and how others perceive them. The implication is that gender is a moral application of psychological states and feelings:

  • "Green describes gender dysphoria as discomfort with the gender a person is living in" (40).
  • "It felt like being locked in a dark room with my eyes and ears cut off and my tongue cut out and not being able to connect my own inner experience with an outer world" (ibid).
  • "Wearing dresses didn't feel right" (ibid).
  • "I wish [my father] could see me as what I want him to see me" (42).
  • "No matter their anatomy, transgender people want to live—and be identified—according to how they feel" (42).
It's clear that trans people struggled very deeply with a lack of validation throughout their formative years, both from parents and peers (such as in bullying). This experience continued under various forms of discrimination into their adult years. 

It seems clear that the moral choices a person makes should not deprive them of equality with respect to practical living as well as the possibility to pursue genuine moral excellence. Everyone ought to be emotionally and spiritually validated and guided by competent and loving parents into an integrated, responsible adulthood. The difficulty as Catholics, however, is that the pursuit of equality in these aforementioned matters is then extended by activists to the very ontology of the Mystical Body, the Church. Then women demand ordination, homosexuals demand marriage, etc. 

Trans people as well as homosexuals see the language of the Church as simply another manifestation of what they received from their own severely deficient parents and peers growing up: "disordered." This word "disordered" brings back all of the lack of validation and love that the person sought but never received. 

The problem, of course, is that such people, being so caught up in the unarticulated and equivocal language of equality, are unable to differentiate between the validation owed a person in their very being and development towards a morally-responsible individual and the validation of any preponderant desire and intuition in their psyche.

Here the question must be asked: does every overwhelming and consistently-present desire deserve validation? Do the constant and thoroughly-embedded impulses of a serial killer or rapist deserve validation? Did the stalking tendencies of Father David Ajemian (notorious for stalking the TV host Conan O'Brien; deserve validation? Do the illusions of many of the contestants who go on talent TV shows yet possess very little talent deserve validation? Examples may be multiplied.

In every case, the answer is no; nevertheless, the person, in their intrinsic dignity as a person, ought to be validated. Validation, like equality, requires a qualifier. The validation of what? We cannot indiscriminately validate everything. It would have the effect of reducing validation itself to a meaningless term and action.

The language of the Church is ontological and psychological but always with respect to a standard, always in the context of an aequans. Trans people, not subscribing to that standard or perhaps being totally unaware of it, suddenly think that being called "disordered" is a rejection of their very selves.