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When Will The Dinosaurs Finally Become Extinct?

The Most Rev. Emil A. Wcela, recently retired auxiliary Bishop of my home Diocese of Rockville Centre, has an article in this weeks America Magazine. The somewhat ironic piece is entitled "A Dinosaur Ponders The Latin Mass".

In this piece, Bishop Wcela chronicles his personal journey from the Traditional Latin Mass to the new Mass along with some very telling observations. Take a look at this paragraph and tell me how many tired and used up cliches you can spot.

During the first years of my priesthood (I was ordained in 1956), I knew and celebrated only the Latin Mass. Since the congregational singing was not especially notable and since the priest had his back to the people [can't miss that one!], the only way to gauge how deeply they were involved was to listen for the rustle of missal pages being turned.[This is just one variant of the typical silly definition of active participation] One accepted the self-contradictory ritual of proclaiming the Epistle and Gospel in Latin toward the back wall and then going to the pulpit to read the Gospel again, this time in English. The same readings were repeated each year, instead of following today’s three-year cycle that presents so much more of the Bible. [I am a fan of the three year cycle. However there are things to be said about hearing the same readings each year. My problem is with the tone here. It smacks of "Can you believe how backward we were then?"]The quality of music, some Gregorian chant, some English hymns with different degrees of theological and aesthetic value, varied from parish to parish. In some, the experience was inspiring, in others, just plain awful.[Yeah, we are much better off with mostly awful now.] A good test for music directors was the Dies Irae, the long lament at funeral Masses. Too often, the standard that really counted was how quickly it could be sung, especially if another funeral was to follow.
That was tiring. My cliche-o-meter was working overtime. Bishop Wcela goes on to admit that maybe there were some abuses after the reform, but he never really saw them. Diogenes treats this argument with the proper disdain, so I will not address it here. He goes on to admit that:
It must be acknowledged that there are still priests who look upon the Mass as a showplace for their dubious creative talents rather than as the shared worship of the community of which they are a part. I find such do-it-yourself liturgies very off-putting. There are still music directors who believe that their own compositions are exactly and only what is needed for good worship. Trying to participate in those parishes calls for special dedication, because one encounters music known only to the local parishioners and to God. It has never been and never will be the case that all music used in churches makes the theological and musical grade.
He finishes by citing two articles of young people expressing their attraction to the Latin Mass mostly due to dissatisfaction with watered down sermons and those famous "arbitrary deformations." This is not a good enough reason to have an attraction to the "extraordinary form." but it is a good enough reason to be condescending:
But I can only shake my head in puzzlement when I hear people talk of how good it is to celebrate Mass in a language they do not understand, while I continue my struggle to learn Spanish so that members of a different congregation can celebrate Mass in a language they do understand.
Now I know why God made the dinosaurs extinct. He couldn't stand the condescension.

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kat said...

I would rather have the 1 year cycle with the readings offered in full so you get the correct context than a 3 year cycle where half the readings are chopped up so the meaning is obscured. It seems the optional parts that mention sin and repentance are always dropped off due to a "time crunch", but there always seems to be enought time for 10 minutes worth of announcements, especially bothersome when the toddlers are about to bite your leg off they are so tired and cranky.

Why is there the assumption that Catholics never read the Bible outside of Mass, and therefore must have the entire thing read TO THEM on Sunday?

ignorant redneck said...


I have agree with you about dropping anything challeging from the readings for the sake of "time".

As to why we have to have the bible read to us at Mass, that's a fasinating storey.

Accoring to the book "Books and Readers in the Early Church", literacy in the roman empire varied with geography, and in the most literate spots hit about 10%. Thus we had the institution of the office of Lector, and the practice of reading the scripture aloud publically. In mission countries, the level of literacy is still quite low, so the practice retains it's utility.

And, we have the unfortunate fact that many Catholics don't read scripture--not because they can't, or that they feel that the reading sin the Liturgy are good enough, but because they see no need, just as they see no need to pay attention to Humane Vitae, etc.

Anonymous said...

Being a parishoner of the diocese of RVC where this Archbishop along with his superior Bishop "mansion" Murphy hold court, I could not help but watch a discussion the two of them had some months back on their liberal and I would categorize heretical station Telecare (which deletes most of the reverent shows on EWTN to bring you their Jewish, ecumenical, African, Hispanic, rock music, etc fests)

Well, the 2 Bishops of the diocese going over the "fruits" of Vatican II, and the best they could come up with is how wonderful it is that the laity get to read and participate, and how when they first became priests they recall how they had to set up chairs and now that can be delegated to the laity who do such a "wonderful" job

Hmmm...what about your church's scandals, the uncatechised children, the Catholic schools in a ever increasing suburb that continue to falter as parents are basically realizing that by paying these high taxes we are for public school that sending our children to "Catholic" school is really no different because now with ecumenism they are being taught that all faiths are equal and everybody, even those who deny Christ can be saved which we all know from basic scrupture and the Council of Florence is a falacy, and so on

So parents like myself continue to search for alternatives until these "dinosaurs" go by the wayside

Pray for our church

Fausto Intilla (fisico teorico) said...

A dinosaur mystery that puzzled paleontologists for nearly a century has been solved by a pound of beef tendons from a butcher, a collection of dead hawks and a brace of frozen quail, two investigative scientists in Berkeley and Idaho say.
The puzzle: Why were fossils of those ancient creatures so often discovered buried with their heads, necks and feet arched bizarrely backward into a distorted posture unlike anything seen alive?
The answer: Kevin Padian, a noted dinosaur expert and curator of the Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley, and Cynthia Marshall Faux, a veterinarian and paleontologist at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., say the beasts were suffering in violent death throes as they perished -- asphyxiated by volcanic gases or ash falls, poisoned by unknown toxins or drowned in swamps or deepwater lakes.
It was knowledge of animals in veterinary clinics plus a few "kitchen science" experiments that led to this conclusion, say the researchers, and it should provide a new understanding of the dinosaurs' environments millions of years ago. It also adds support for the once-controversial claim that the ancient dinosaurs were all warm-blooded just as modern birds are, and unlike the ancestral crocodiles and lizards whose blood still runs cold today.
When paleontologists years ago were struck by the peculiar posture of most fossil dinosaur skeletons, they offered many explanations in their reports: The skeletons always developed that way after death, they said -- strong currents must have bent the bodies that way before sediments could bury them; or their necks were broken backward as a result of diving or falling into mud; or salts in evaporated water stiffened them into position after death; or dry air shriveled the tendons in their dead bodies until the skeletons bent; or it was all an example of rigor mortis -- the stiffening of any body that follows quickly after death.
It was Faux (pronounced Fox) who devised the experiments that solved the problem, Padian said. She is a vet turned paleontologist who also affiliated with Yale University's famed Peabody Museum of Natural History.
Based on her experience in animal clinics, she reasoned that the deformed posture of the dinosaurs seemed clearly due to damage to their central nervous systems before death, and she set about to test whether the idea held up for dinosaurs as well as modern animals.
Faux is a large-animal specialist who lives near Lewiston, Idaho, and at a nearby butcher's shop she bought a few pounds of beef tendons, dried some, salted some, soaked some, and showed that none shrank in any way that could possibly have distorted an animal skeleton.
For two months she dried the bodies of two red-tailed hawks euthanized at the Raptor Conservation Center in Bozeman and found no post-mortem movement at all. She immobilized the bodies of badly injured barn owls and falcons from the raptor center, and their muscles and tendons didn't move.
Finally, she bought two frozen quail from a commercial quail farm, thawed them, soaked them in a heavy salt solution, and observed their decomposing bodies for as long as two weeks. Their bones never took on that bizarre distorted posture like the fossil dinosaurs -- known in medicine as opisthotonus.
Opisthotonus during death occurs only in warm-blooded animals like birds and mammals today, but not in cold-blooded creatures, Padian said -- so this work offers new support for the idea that dinosaurs must have been warm-blooded too, he said.
Faux's detailed experimentation was truly persistent research, Padian said. It was, he said, "powerful kitchen science."
"The prevalent idea has been that these animals distorted posture occurred only after death with no scavenging of their bones, and then were somehow buried by currents of water and mud," Padian said. "Our study suggests that many of these animals died instead in places that were already inundated, and that they maintained their death postures as they were quickly buried."
And because many paleontologists have based inferences about dinosaur environments on the state of their skeletons in the rock layers where they are found, Padian said, some traditional views of "paleoenvironments" will now need some new thinking.
The work by Faux and Padian was published in the current issue of the journal Paleobiology.
E-mail David Perlman at dperlman@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page A - 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Fausto Intilla

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