Friday, January 2, 2015

"Et Verbum caro factum est": Considerations on the Treatment of the Eucharist

Fr. Paul Nicholson, the wonderful missionary preacher from the Diocese of London, Ontario, recently posted a video homily in which he addresses the reception of Holy Communion in the hand. Father tackles it very well, I think. He makes clear that like it or not, the legislative authority of the church, specifically the Roman Pontiff, has allowed the practice, and so not even a parish priest can do much to actually eradicate the practice. If someone wishes to receive in the hand, then so be it. Of course this does not address the Extraordinary Form, where it is not allowed (Perhaps this is undiplomatic, but at my parish, the server simply places the paten under the chin, and the communicant figures out the need to stick out his or her tongue.

The increase of Eucharistic devotion as a whole in the life of the church is an important part of the permission to receive Communion in the hand. It cannot in any way diminish, according to the original indult issued by Blessed Pope Paul VI. Father Nicholson argues that it has not really increased either, and while he doesn't exactly say it decreased, I think at best one can say it grew stagnant.

In the mid-1960s, as I think most of the readers here know, changes were made to the liturgy and to the environment of worship in the church, and the reformers, at least in part claimed these were a return to the sources. Worship facing the people became the usual practice, based on an interpretation of the evidence from Roman churches such as St. Peter's Basilica. Since Eucharistic adoration was seen as a distraction from worship of Christ in the Mass, tabernacles were moved so as not to be a distraction from the altar of sacrifice and the Eucharist consecrated at that particular celebration. (Adoration developed during the Middle Ages.) Also, genuflections when crossing the altar in the presence of the tabernacle were eventually replaced by bows except at the beginning and end of Mass.

Now to the principle topic of discussion. Dutch and Belgian bishops re-introduced Communion in the hand to the church, a practice which had been extinct since the 800s in both the East and West.  It would seem to me that reformers knew this, but they claimed it was a return to a more ancient practice of receiving the Eucharistic Lord. The best book on this subject is still Dominus Est-It is the Lord!: Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion by Bishop Athanasius Schenider. He obviously loves the Lord, and this love flowed into this book. It is the kind of book where his love for the Lord will flow into your heart and mind as well. He covers both the history of the reception of Communion as well as the spiritual and even doctrinal, to the extent that our practice influences our belief, reasons to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, and in the Latin church, while kneeling.

One can separate these changes from one another, but I argue they are all connected. First, if the reform is meant to be a restoration of the liturgy from the time of the fathers, then it must be done wholesale. I believe in intense honesty, especially when dealing with things that are as important as the Mass. If the liturgical reforms are truly to go to the sources, there must be no Agnus Dei, no Sequences, no genuflections, no name of St. Joseph in the Roman Canon, no additional Eucharistic Prayers. The re-introduction of Communion in the hand contrasts to the developed text and ceremony.

 Secondly, the reliance on historical evidence in order to argue for certain liturgical practices is subject to change with the publication of the next major scholarly work. The liturgy must be received, not modified in order to keep it up to date with what we think it was like at the time of Gregory the Great. Of course that assumes we even have that in mind. The traditional Roman liturgy is what was received. I can think of a few changes that ought to be made here and there, to propers for the last 4 Sundays after Pentecost and to the lectionary perhaps. But the ritual, one that lasted almost without change for well over a thousand years, need not be picked apart. For instance, the form of the Pax was basically settled by the late 700s. The priest fractioned the host, sang Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum as he made three signs of the Cross over the chalice, with the reply being Et cum spiritu tuo [The peace of the Lord be with you always/And with thy spirit]. He then prayed the Haec commixtio as the host was conmingled with the chalice. Now, this is where it gets a bit complicated. The Agnus Dei was a late addition, so it was at different times not prayed, prayed after the Kiss, or prayed before Domine Iesu Christi, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis [O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst say to thine Apostles, "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,"] and finishing, he kissed the altar with the deacon. The priest then gave the Kiss of Peace to the deacon, who gave it to the subdeacon and so forth. There was no reason to change this practice, even if it could be justified by the order of the council to simplify the rites, on account of its ancient form.

On those notes of scholarship, even though I ironically tend to reject that particular hermeneutic of liturgical development, as well as the practice as received from the fathers, the best way to celebrate the Mass is facing the East. The arguments are too many to enter into here, but let's address the obvious elephant in the room. We tend to focus on Father "Call me Billy Bob" of St. Wipiddy Do-Da in Blackberry Square (in the same Diocese of Black Duck as Fr. Z's St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle) and not as the priest who received his priesthood from Christ the true priest, as the one celebrating the Mass, as the one leading the congregation towards the Lord who will come at the end of time, and the one interceding for us before the Father.

The reformers' arguments are also argued without regard to the dangers to belief in the Eucharist resulting from over-correction of beliefs and practices dating to before the council, as beliefs that seem to be contradicted by new practices tend to be discarded in favor of the practices. The Eucharist is the same Eucharist, whether it is in the tabernacle or not, whether It was consecrated at that Mass or not. I think it is important to make a reasonable effort to consecrate hosts to be widely distributed at Mass in order to connect that Mass and that act of consecration to the personal reception of Communion at that same Mass , but that shouldn't preclude distribution of reserved hosts for practical reasons. Further, the reserved Eucharist brought from the papal Mass was mingled with the Eucharist of the Mass celebrated in the stational churches in Rome, so distributing the Eucharist previously consecrated is a sign of communion between all the other Masses celebrated throughout the world. On the other hand, one will not actually believe the Eucharist is the same if It is not treated as such when the priest does not genuflect when passing the tabernacle. By the way, this practice of stational Masses might be the origin of the subdeacon's wearing of the humeral veil and holding the paten. That is another example of treating holy things as we ought to treat them. We veil them: the paten (with the humeral veil or the corporal), the bishop's miter and crozier, the chalice, the tabernacle. But I digress.

Granted, a few historical accidents had to occur for this problem to arise. First, the theology of Adoration had to develop in the high Middle Ages. Second, this had to be reinforced in light of the Protestant denigration of the sacrament, and in order to connect Adoration to the Mass, the tabernacle was placed behind the altar on the central axis of the church. However, this has never been the case in the cathedral churches, at least in Europe. At the very least the Eucharist is removed-in the older form- from the tabernacle and placed in another suitable and accessible place of reservation when a bishop celebrates. Finally, the Low Mass had to become the paradigm for the Roman liturgy in place of the Pontifical High Mass. If one examines a ceremonial, one finds that the norm for the priest celebrant is to bow to the altar when leaving, returning, and crossing, except if the Blessed Sacrament be reserved there, in which case he genuflects. Then, and only then, could the reserved Eucharist then be seen a distraction from that Mass.

But I never have understood this nor the distraction posed by the second altar. Adoration of our God stems from and points toward divine worship, at the heart of which is the Eucharist. In Eucharistic adoration we specifically recognize that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, is in the flesh, his divinity veiled not only in that flesh but also under the form of bread and wine. And it should always drive us towards reception of Communion, which ought to take place during the celebration of Mass. Therefore, we always ought to recognize the Lord's presence, and in the Roman Rite, we genuflect to indicate that He is present. St. Paul said that every knee should bend at the Holy Name of Jesus. St. Gregory the Great, in a model case of Roman noble simplicity and the spirit of the liturgy, explained that this can be accomplished by a bow of the head or even one of the heart. It is impractical to kneel at every mention of Our Lord's name at Mass, so firstly it is used at regular points or at least ones that one can prepare for such as the readings. Moreover, genuflections are kept to this same pattern, and only the ones at the exiting of the sanctuary (to retrieve torches and such) are unpredictable. They should be kept to the minimum necessary to conduct the ceremonies.

The second altar meanwhile is a contrived problem. If the tabernacle is at the church's main altar, then one genuflects. If it is not, then one bows before Mass anyways (and the priest does during Mass). But the current discipline of the church, requiring the tabernacle be on the central axis or at least in a prominent place in the sanctuary, is in tension with the general practice of worship versus populum and the rubrics of the revised Missale Romanum. To put it bluntly, bowing to an altar in front of the tabernacle raises one's butt to Our Lord in the tabernacle. Also, to make to notice of the tabernacle signals that the Eucharist reserved there is not as important, and eventually people stop believing in the presence of Christ in the Sacrament, to say nothing of their understanding of the doctrine of transubstantiation. There are also far fewer kisses to the altar, only those at the beginning and end of Mass, which does two things. It makes worship versus populum more convenient, and it takes away from the altar and its own relationship to Christ. The altar in the usus antiquior is kissed every time the priest turns around, and it is to be kissed as if to say good-bye to the Lord, if only for a moment. This balances the recognition of Christ in the tabernacle by genuflection.

As regards Holy Communion as received in the hand, Fr. Nicholson delicately navigated its treatment. One can receive it without profaning it. But we make it easy to steal and profane, and I think that should be a cause of concern. I am not sure there is any argument against it from those who argue in favor of keeping this discipline of the church as it stands. There are people who are on a better and holier path than me who receive in the hand, and there's no way to answer why that is the case. This returns firstly to the integrity of the reforms. The bishops of the Low Countries did not return to the ancient practice. They heavily simplified and modified it. The rubrics still mandated the paten and houseling cloth to be used at all times in order to keep the Sacred Species from crumbling everywhere, yet this fell out of practice. (The GIRM still mandates it for Communion via intinction, and one would do well to use it all the time.) There was no ablution of the fingers, as Fr. Nicholson wisely suggests, nor was there an ablution of the mouth with water and wine. This was in late medieval ordos as a practice for the faithful, and since the use of wine to purify is still required in the Extraordinary Form, the practice on the priest's part is still a part of the Roman liturgy.

One may attribute the problem to a lack of catechesis on the nature of the Eucharist or at least how to receive it. If the former, then it seems a lackadaisical reception seems understandable, since no one actually believes they are receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. If the primarily the latter, then belief in the sacrament will erode more likely than not, since one will naturally think, "That can't possibly be the way to treat the most precious gift ever given to humankind." It would be hard for belief to be maintained and a better practice adopted, unless one has reference to the older practice still used in the Extraordinary Form, that of receiving on the tongue kneeling.

Let's consider that one is taught that the Eucharist is indeed Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the form of bread and wine. He or she is taught to receive Him properly according to the norms of receiving in the hand. A reverence is made, and the hands are cupped, with one over the other like a throne. Only two fingers are used to pick up the Host, and the person consumes the Host in place, before moving towards the chalice to receive the Precious Blood. This situation is hard to argue against, since it's not exactly irreverent, but it does not inspire a lively faith in the Eucharist. Also, any spiritual benefits ought to be outweighed by the combination of the received tradition, which is the reception of Communion on the tongue, and for Latin Catholics while kneeling, along with the possibility of profanation and loss of belief.

By the way, a station with ablution bowls as Father Nicholson suggests and patens as I also suggest would only be possible at a parish such as my own. We had twenty-three altar boys one Sunday. Please do not scream "Fortescue hated extraneous servers!" at me. There's nothing I can do about it, nor will I stop such a practice. Better that than having too few!  I do like his idea though. If it is not the established practice, wherein one would loathe to be the sole person receiving in the hand or standing, it is good to prod people towards receiving on the tongue kneeling. I'm happy for them to give up because they don't like washing their hands so that over time they might come to love that practice of kneeling and for them to grow in the love of God. It is even better to do it the first time with a radical fire burning in one's soul, but the Christian life is one of small steps along the way of the Cross.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Let everything that hath breath, praise the Lord."

This post is not meant as a reminder, considering most anticipated Masses for the holy day on 1 January have now been celebrated, but rather more as an incomplete reflection (One realizes that much time and research is needed to fill the gaps, and my transitions to one idea to the next as of late have been, well, to use a technical term, wonky... Oh well. It's a blog, not an academic paper.)

The Te Deum may be sung in thanksgiving on the last day of each calendar year, so on 31 December, in a church or oratory for the faithful to receive a plenary indulgence. At my parish, we sang an lovely English setting that was easy and familiar (I am sure I had heard the melody used elsewhere, though I couldn't place it), with the text coming from the Book of Common Prayer, as opposed to the Latin plainchant. I do love when one can sing the plainchant melodies while singing an accurate yet elegant rendering of the Latin text, but the Prayer Book's translation is beautiful in its own right, as is much of the Anglican liturgy. 
We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord/All the earth doth worship thee: the Father everlasting./To thee all Angels cry aloud : 
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
A favorite recording of the chant (the only version my friends put on Facebook!) is the chant sung in alternatim with the organ at Notre-Dame-de-Paris, with the organ being played by Pierre Cochereau. See below for the music. This practice could be found, and still is, across Europe, but it was especially popular in France, one of the leading Catholic centers of organ music. The cantor would intone the chant, and the choir would follow, then the organ, followed again by the choir.

Today that seems like an intolerable practice, and indeed, it does not seem to have been universally accepted. The French carried on, almost indifferent to protests, though they did place Psalm 150:6 on organs as an acknowledgement of the criticism and as their defense: Let everything that hath breath, praise the Lord.

However, the Te Deum was sung much more frequently in the Divine Office following Lauds, just as the Gloria was prayed on all third-class feasts, save those in violet. Thus it was more easily memorized, not just its melody but its texts. It, the Gospel canticles, and other frequently sung chants (there are verses for chants such as the Tantum ergo, the hymn for Vespers of Corpus Christi and of course at Benediction) were recited while the organ was played, so it was not as if the verses were left unprayed...

A commenter on the Youtube video gave this beautiful reflection on the practice of singing chant alternatim with the organ:
The Te Deum is supposed to unite the two choirs of Heaven and Earth in praising God. So the choir here is only singing half the verses while they leave the choirs of angels and saints in Heaven to sing the alternate verses (while the organ roars out its accompaniment to them).
This also responds to the critics of the practice, since the organ is accompanying the angels who are singing this. Further, it points towards a fundamental part of Christian worship, that of creation's response to God our creator, which is to acknowledge him as creator and give him what he is owed, n what St. Thomas Aquinas explains is the virtue of religion, a sub-virtue of justice.

God made this clear in the Ten Commandments, since he explicitly declared  himself to be the Lord God and that we must keep the Sabbath day. Through his creation in the image and likeness of God (at the moment, I cannot recall the Fathers' arguments and whether it is image or likeness that reason is a part of... I think the former) man is capable of recognizing God as creator. St. Thomas's five ways, no matter what one might think of them otherwise, come to mind as a strong proof of this view in theology. Additionally, goods can be good in their own right and used for legitimate pleasures without man needing fear his salvation. Of course, ultimately goodness comes from participation in the divine goodness. The good creation cannot stand apart from the creator that saw that it was good, and so goods are ordered, from the lesser goods to the highest goods, namely God, to whom all the lower goods point. But our nature is weakened, so we turn to other desires and things in place of God, leading us away from the fulfillment of ourselves in God, leading us away from goodness and towards nothingness.

Yet we turn our hearts and minds towards the Lord, lifting them up to him in worship, which is fundamentally an act of thanksgiving. It is simplistic to remember Athanasius' On the Incarnation simply for his theology of theosis, where God became man so that men could become gods, since the work and even that statement are more complex, but it is true. We must keep this in mind during Christmastide and Epiphanytide especially, when we liturgically commemorate the Nativity of Our Lord.

In further parts I hope to reflect upon the nature of liturgical hymns of thanksgiving and their connection to each other, namely the Gloria and the Te Deum, and how we ought to perceive thanksgiving. I have some reading and thinking to do tomorrow, it looks like. Blessed new year. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe on Love

This is from a sermon by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, bishop of Ruspe in North Africa in the fifth century,  and it's found in the Office of Readings in the revised form of the Divine Office. St. Stephen the First Martyr was among the first deacons chosen by the Apostles for the service of the church in Jerusalem as recorded by St. Luke in Acts of the Apostles. Considering all that I have been through and the long hiatus I took from this blog, I think is reflective of the way I have approached life recently and hope to grow and act in the future. I think Stephen's office as deacon is important, since the deacon is the minister particularly dedicated to the service of the church and of the poor. 

I missed out on writing on the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops after having given it some coverage in the months leading up to it. There is better coverage elsewhere that says what I think ought to have been said, and that pretty much goes for every event in the life of the church and the world as well. That being said, I think that this blog is still worth it. It's a place to express myself and grow, occasionally commenting on events. I mean, maybe Cardinal Burke's secretary reads it and shares it with His Eminence. Or not. 
"Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier. Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.
Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvelous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.
And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition.
Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven.
Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defense, and the way that leads to heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey’s end.
My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together."

On the Situation in Iraq

I began this post in the summertime, not sure how to finish it at the time. Hence, some things will seem out of date, and there have been have several executions, a POW capturing from the Jordanian Air Force, and the ISIS-inspired attacks in France and Australia. 

Also, keep in mind that I don't have an answer for the behavior of individual Muslims who vigorously oppose ISIS and who I care about as human persons worthy of love. I can only comment on what I see as general patterns. 

I am sure you have heard by now that President Obama became the first Western leader to authorize humanitarian relief and airstrikes in Iraq in order to aid those suffering from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or as they like to be known, simply the Islamic State. It is a full-on genocide. The Christian minority in Iraq is being threatened with death if they remain and practice their faith, so they have fled to the Kurdish held regions of Iraq. The Yazidis, a people who practice a so-called "heretical" form of Islam, are also being killed. Towns controlled by these peoples are specifically being attacked for that reason.

It's good that Barack Obama finally made a decision about this. We must defend the innocent and the helpless, even if our country is not directly threatened by this (and of course, Obama thought American interests were threatened...). As Christians, who make up the majority of people in this country, at least nominally, we must especially seek to protect Christians who are under threat. But go figure, Obama has not really done anything to arm the Kurds, and he does not desire for the United States to serve as the Iraqi Air Force, even though the Iraqi Air Force is utterly incompetent at this point and the Kurds don't have their own air force.

The former Australian Chief of Army, Peter Leahy, was interviewed in an Australian paper (which is behind a paywall, so I send you, regrettably, to the Daily Mail). He said that we will be involved in a century-long war against Islam. The retired general specifically focuses on Australia's past experience with terror groups in Indonesia as well as individuals who leave and return in order to launch attacks at home. I would add that ISIS wants to first restore the caliphate as it existed in the Middle Ages. At a minimum, it would include these territories.

I say at a minimum because what ISIS apparently wants is to conquer all of north and central Africa, Iberia, the Balkans and southeastern Europe, Asia Minor, central Asia, the Levant, Arabia, Mesopotamia. That means the former Ottoman Empire would be covered as well as the medieval caliphate. It would also seem they want the Muslim countries of southeast Asia and the western Pacific under their thumbs...and that's before they get to the rest of the world, especially Rome and Moscow, the only two patriarchal sees (we'll leave that discussion for another day...) not to have been successfully held by Muslim invaders. Yes, invaders. My medieval history professor taught about the barbarian movements at the end of the Western Roman Empire as well as the beginnings of Islam. The first was truly migration. The second was truly invasion.

No, I'm not convinced that it was a terribly good situation for Christians in Cordoba. Scholarship is also not in support of the thesis that Arabs preserved ancient Greek and Latin learning so that it could be picked up by medieval Christians after the Crusades and then reinvigorated by the Renaissance. It's quite the opposite, actually. Irish monks could use perfect Greek and Latin, even though Greek had been dead in the West for centuries. Christians studied the texts independently and then reacted to Islamic interpretations. But I digress.

So why does Barack Obama believe that a few airstrikes will be enough to stop ISIS? In fact, I'm not even sure the style of limited engagement in vogue since the Vietnam War would be enough. Once American troops leave, everyone goes back to fighting each other. Vietnam is now a Communist state, Iraq is in shambles. Central Americans flee to our southern border in droves. We haven't even completely left Afghanistan, and American troops still die on a regular basis. The exception would be the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent enforcement of the no-fly zone, but that's, in my admittedly limited assessment, because the American government so successfully controlled the narrative and decided to fight the Iraqi military on its own terms. We used the tools to finish the job, i.e. since Iraq launched a full invasion, then we fought back equally. It's much easier to fight a war against a true state actor that has tangible goals, unlike those set in the conflicts of the last decade. And it was not an ideological war. One must root out the evil ideology, and a limited engagement does not allow for that.

I read the other day that ISIS is now "al-Qaeda with a state." Rather like the Nazi Party, it has taken over the administration of its territories in Syria and Iraq and replaced the non-existent or corrupt administration which preceded it. It's much cheaper than before, since bribes are not being taken, and it's somewhat efficient. They have kept the professionals in place, and somehow they make it work with ISIS fighters from all over the world supervising them. Not to say that I condone this, rather like American Democratic Party members do when they see the standard of living in socialist Cuba under the Castro brothers and compare it to our own. It's horrifying that al-Qaeda, or something that split from it anyways, has now become a state or something that resembles one. Imagine ISIS voting in place of Iraq and Syria in the United Nations, attempting to dictate to the world the benefits of an international Islamic caliphate. It rather smacks of the Soviet Union's role in the UN, no? To any American over the age of sixty, that should get the alarm bells ringing.

Why that year? Someone born in 1954 would have been around eight in October 1962, when the world stood on edge as the United States and the Soviet Union attempted to resolve the placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba. The world came oh so close to being destroyed. That means they remember the civil defense drills, where they got underneath the desks in case of a nuclear first strike, and they remember the films shown in class.  They remember the reality that yes, it might be the end.

Now, ISIS is nowhere near the military capabilities of the Soviet Union as far as destroying the world thirty times over goes. But they are quite capable of genocide as we see (just as the Communists were!). They are just as hellbent on conquering like the Communists did. Europe is finally under a direct threat. It is no longer something that can be pushed around. We can no longer simply give more money to the Security Service (MI5) and Scotland Yard and their French equivalents (and in the meantime control the private lives of ordinary citizens...). We can no longer simply pass laws that attempt to integrate Muslims into European societies, like those that ban the face coverings and the Swiss ban on minarets. We can no longer simply ignore the fact that there is widespread support for ISIS and Hamas (that's one fight where the middle is the decidedly best route!) in European capitals among communities with Muslim majorities. A nun had to tear down the black flag of jihad flown by protesters (my only consolation is that they don't realize Hamas will be wiped out by ISIS if they conquer the Levant). We have seen protests in recent weeks that have turned anti-Semitic, not merely anti-Israel. In fact, those protesters threatened the reporter who investigated the black flag, and they shouted profanities against Jews and said they didn't want any around the neighborhood (he wasn't even Jewish).

By logical extension, that is anti-Christian, for our faith comes from the Jews, and we must love all, no matter their religion. "If ye love me, keep my commandments," saith the Lord to his disciples.

Indeed, two churches in Thonon-les-Bains, a small town of 30,000 in France, were desecrated this summer. One of them is the church where St. Francis de Sales served as provost of the Oratory. The young Muslim man responsible even made sure to desecrated the holy Eucharist.

There is a fundamental tension between the Christian world with its Greco-Roman antecedents and the Islamic world, and I believe it is based on a bizarre misunderstanding of Christianity by the first Muslims that has shaped Islamic thought, culture, and politics since the early 600s. Christ cannot be the Incarnate Son because God cannot have physical children. That leads to a quasi-Docetist belief where Jesus was swapped at the Crucifixion. (Also, for the Christian, God does not deceive...we might not understand every word of Scripture, but He does not lie!) Of course since the Crucifixion was not redemptive, it fits in with the Islamic view of God's relationship to man, which is decidedly not that of adoptive sonship, which happens to be the theme of the collect of the 19th Sunday per annum in the revised Roman liturgy. It is much more akin to the master-slave relationship, hence it revolves around what God's will is. Hence the concern in the late medieval period when certain theologians emphasized the divine will and seemed to take an Islamic view of God rather than a Christian one (and when the belief was expunged, the Greek philosophy used to illuminate it was reinterpreted...). The Trinity is reduced to mathematics, and since 1+1+1 is not equal to one, there is no Triune God. Of course, we Christians have dogmatic statements which clarify our faith in the Trinity, in the Incarnation, etc. and it's irrational to think the Scriptures became corrupted or that the Church became corrupted (the same argument goes against most beliefs held by Protestants). One also needs to consider Christ's gift of the keys to the Kingdom and the power to bind and loose given to St. Peter and the college of the apostles and their successors, as well as the promise that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church.

I am not sure yet that I agree entirely with Hilaire Belloc's thesis presented in multiple books that Islam is a Christian heresy, or of the details which accompany it. The later Fathers said so, for what it is worth. But it is worth reading what he had to say in Survivals and New Arrivals, keeping in mind that his language was not the tempered sort in vogue today:

"On this account our generation came to think of Islam as something naturally subject to ourselves. We no longer regarded it as a rival to our own culture, we thought of its religion as a sort of fossilized thing about which we need not trouble."  
"That was almost certainly a mistake. We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future. Perhaps if we lose our faith it will rise."  
"Remember that our Christian civilization is in peril of complete breakdown. An enemy would say that it is living upon its past; and certainly those who steadfastly hold its ancient Catholic doctrine stand on guard as it were in a state of siege; they are a minority both in power and in numbers. Upon such a state of affairs a steadfast, permanent, convinced, simple philosophy and rule of life, intensely adhered to, and close at hand, may now that the various sections of the world are so much interpenetrating one and the other, be of effect."  
"We must remember that the subjection of the Mohammedan -a purely political subjection -was accomplished by nothing more subtle or enduring than a superiority in weapons and mechanical invention. We must further remember that this superiority dates from a very short time ago."
"A little more and there will cease that which our time has taken for granted, the physical domination of Islam by the disintegrated Christendom we know."
More excerpts are available HERE.

Indeed, Belloc says as much as I do, that ideology must be rooted out. We cannot overwhelm them with force and expect everything to change overnight. It's fascinating that he believed Europe was living on its past. ISIS for whatever reason paints two pictures of Europe: the reality of the decadence and rampant secularism, and also Christendom. It's the latter they seem to focus on the most. As I noted the other day (4 months ago), Pope Benedict XV called World War One the suicide of Europe. I wonder today if European politicians have the desire to defend their countries, because there really isn't much left in actuality to defend in Europe. What is left is either a remnant or is otherwise waiting to be restored... and it is no coincidence that as the Nazis rose and Russia spread her errors and Europe was left to deal with the consequences of modern man's actions that Islam rose in that wake.

 As the Dutch contracept and abort at high levels, the population of the Netherlands will be evenly divided between native Dutch and those who come from Islamic countries. It would be one thing if Europe was being replaced merely genetically. But it's not. For the last several years, governance has become dysfunctional from Greece to Italy to Spain to Belgium and so on. It has been argued to me that Muslim women will not put up with the radicalism imported from the Middle East because they come to appreciate the European ideals of governance and society. But if Europe disintegrates in its institutions, and let us not forget that its religion has been divided for nearly five centuries and it is basically secular, what influence will European life have on these women in the future?

If we are to fight ISIS so that it is completely dismantled, we must keep in mind the words of  St. Louis IX, the Crusading king and champion of the poor, who said to the Sultan in Jerusalem, :I left my sweet France and came all the way here just to save your soul."

However, I am not living under a rock. I know that Barack Obama and the American-spurred coalition will not be followed up by Jesuits and mendicant friars, ready to serve the residents of Iraq and Syria so that they might preach to them the Holy Gospel. But we must do what we can, I suppose. If nothing else, we should pray for their conversion and desisting from violence. Perhaps priests using the traditional Roman liturgy can add extra collects for peace and conversion, and we can offer our own prayers.