What People Are Commenting
False Right Mattei & a Christmas Story
Conservative De Mattei vs. Guimaraes
TIA, (from Facebook)
I met Prof. De Mattei when I was at the Italian TFP office in Rome; but more than knowing him personally is to know
. He is not a critic of Vatican Council II. He defends Ratzinger’s
hermeneutic of continuity
. What Prof. Plínio Correa de Oliveira teaches is the opposite of what De Mattei says. Vatican II was the greatest catastrophe of the church. There is nothing of the Council that can be saved.
The book by Prof. de Mattei (a story never written) may serve as a data source, but I do not see it as a work against VCII. The one who actually wrote against VCII and personally interviewed its theologians was Atila Guimarães, who was dismissed from the TFP by the current directors when he published his first work,
In the Murky Waters of Vatican II
. Some Americans welcomed him and continued publishing his works against VCII, and it was this group that
formed Tradition in Action
After the death of Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, a fight broke out between the faction of the Directors of the TFP and another group that founded the Heralds of the Gospel. The former created IPCO because the courts did not let them use the acronym TFP. This is in Brazil.
The current TFP / IPCO hold up De Mattei - who is a Ratzinger maniac - above the R-CR of Prof. Plinio. Further, Mr. Atila, who made the best study available against Vatican II, was
put out of the TFP
precisely for complying with an order from the founder to write that Collection...
The problem is that the
11 volumes are in English
. Only the first book was published in Portuguese and it is sold out. The first two books are still available in Spanish (
Regarding the article
Removing Statues of Columbus.
I'm so sick of these Godless left wing Communists and their neurotic desire to remove every vestige of white-Euro-Christian heritage from the United States. In order to transform our nation into a multicultural ghetto!
A Christmas Story
Dear Dr. Horvat et al,
I always go to your site in the morning – or whenever else I want to immerse myself in the beauty of lost treasures of our faith.
What joy today to hear
my favorite Christmas song!
We used to sing it at Holy Family Church in Detroit, a Sicilian parish that kept the Old Mass as long as they could. They preserved many Italian traditions and an uninterrupted Latin
(said with reverence at the high altar) for years. And now...well...we left when they brought the table in.
But how I loved to hear our choir sing
Tu Scendi dalle Stelle
Last year I wove a story around it that was published in
I wanted to share it with you-in return for all you've given me.
God bless you all.
Susan Claire Potts
Glory of the Olive
The Iron Gate
Tu Scendi dalle Stelle
The sky was gray as concrete, heavy with snow. Dr. Barbara D’Angelo, adjunct professor of Italian Studies, closed her laptop, took off her reading glasses, and rubbed her temples. It was quiet in the building; there were no footsteps in the hall, no conversations in the stairwell. Everyone was gone. She glanced out the window. The sun seemed to be setting earlier than usual, she thought. It would be dark as night before she even got out of the building.
It was December 13, the Feast of St. Lucy but Barbara hadn’t mentioned that to her class. If she had, it wouldn’t have mattered; her students would have thought Santa Lucia della Sicilia was just another myth of the Middle Ages. Much more important to the students at the small Dearborn college was that it was the last day of classes before finals. She’d had a very hard day. All she wanted to do was put her feet up and have a cup of tea. But she had papers to grade.
Dante describes Hell, Purgatory and Heaven
Sighing, Barbara straightened the stack of papers on the corner of her desk, each neatly written on a computer—all spellchecked and grammar corrected. Twenty-three final papers on Dante’s
, typed by students who had no interest in medieval literature.
They were taking the class as a prerequisite to a summer semester in Italy. She doubted any of them had read the
, not even in translation. They probably relied on
, hoping the teacher was too old to know the difference or too tired to care.
A few strands of gray hair escaped the twist at the back of her neck, and she pushed them back in place, thinking she really was too old. She had retired three years ago and should have stayed retired. She could have travelled a little and read a lot, maybe she could have taken an art class. But no, her former colleague, Patrice Girard, had called her in July, begging her to take the class.
She remembered the call as she looked at the stack of papers.
“It’ll do you good,” Patrice had said. “Keep your mind sharp.”
“The guy that was supposed to teach it quit,” Patrice answered, clearly irritated. “We couldn’t find anybody else. Nobody reads Dante anymore. But the department thought it’d be good to give the students a taste of Italian literature before their summer abroad. It’s only one class. You’ll do it, won’t you?” Patrice implored. “We need you. It shouldn’t be too tough. You’re a native speaker. Besides, you taught
The Divine Comedy
for thirty years.”
“Twenty-two. They discontinued it for lack of interest.”
“Oh, right. I forgot,” Patrice murmured. “So what do you think?
Barbara hesitated. She was nearly 70 and more tired than she wanted to admit. Could she still do it? She wasn’t sure.
Patrice interrupted her thoughts. “Barb?”
“Let me think about it. I’ll call you back in a little while.”
They hung up the phone, and Barbara went into the kitchen to cook and think. To teach again! And Dante! She had revered the great Italian poet, loved the rhythm and soft rhyme of his masterpiece. No translation did it justice.
When she was in graduate school, working on her dissertation, she used to sit at her desk and read the poem aloud, transported by the language and cadence, touched by words of mystic realities. Heaven and Hell and Purgatory, fresh and compelling, Catholic truths lost to modern ears.
And nearly lost now, too, to hers, she thought ruefully as she cut up vegetables and dropped them in the simmering stock. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d heard a sermon on the Four Last Things. Did anyone still believe in the Judgment? Did she? She shivered. Maybe she didn’t. Nothing was clear anymore. What if Purgatory wasn’t real? What if Heaven wasn’t a place? What if the nihilists and pantheists and Teilhardians were right?
She picked up a wooden spoon and hit the edge of the pan with it.
she nearly shouted as she thrust the spoon into the soup. They couldn’t be.
Standing by the stove, stirring the broth, her mind travelled back in time, to a line in the catechism she had memorized as a child. She repeated it now, with wobbling faith:
I believe all the truths the Catholic Church teaches because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.
,” she breathed in the language of the Church, the words of Sacred Scripture.
I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief.
She wiped off the spoon, set it on the counter, and sat down at the kitchen table, her head in her hands. She had never married, had always loved the Church, even considered the convent. But the Changes came when she was still young, and her vocation faded away. She devoted herself to study and teaching.
Life went on. Little by little, imperceptibly, her faith grew scratchy and dry as dust. Everything was so different, so torn and broken. She missed the Old Mass. The last time she’d hear it sung was the year they yanked St. Barbara off the Calendar. It was Christmas, she remembered. She closed her eyes as long forgotten memories, images of holy worship floated like gossamer veils across her mind. It had all been so beautiful.
But the Sacred Mysteries were shrouded now in banal English, jarring and pedestrian. It was hard to endure. Somehow, somewhere, she had to find what she had lost. Her eyes lifted in wordless supplication.
Maybe teaching would take her mind off it. An hour later, she called Patrice. “All right,” she agreed. “I’ll do it.”
Five months had passed since that phone call. Now, sitting at her desk, looking out at the empty classroom, she couldn’t wait until the semester was over. It was much harder than she expected. Today was the worst. She shuddered to think about it.
The class began as usual. She was standing at the podium looking out at her students, trying to ignore their surreptitious glances at their smart phones. Holding her copy of the
, she began to review the text, preparing them for their final exam. She told of Dante’s quest for Paradise, through Purgatory, beginning at the Gates of Hell. Guided by the shade of Virgil, author of the
, the poet reached the misty shores of Acheron, the River of Woe.
She taught with passion, born not from her weakened faith, but from love of language. She told of the anguished screams of damned souls, chased and stung by wasps and hornets, tormented by worms and maggots. And then, looking out the window, she quoted from memory the words on the sign at the entrance to Hell:
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.
She was jolted by a snort from the back of the classroom. “What’s that supposed to mean?” someone blurted. “Give it to us in English!”
Barbara turned and glared at him.
The student shrugged and looked at the girl next to him. “Do you know what it means?” he asked.
"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” the woman-child said listlessly, running her fingers through her long blond hair.
“Hope of what?”
The students laughed. Barbara’s throat went dry.
“Really dumb.” A thin student in a gray hoodie stretched his long legs into the aisle, cracked his knuckles, and yawned. “Did people actually believe that stuff?”
“Apparently they did.”
“What a joke.”
The girl adjusted her glasses. “Actually, not,” she said. “Hell is mythological, obviously, but the poem is a rather good exposition of the human condition, an allegory of irrational fears and loathing. And then, of course, the antithesis, the archetypal fantasy of a rewarding god-figure.”
The boy pulled his hoodie over his forehead. “Brother.” He had no idea what she was talking about. “Pretty stupid.”
The girl sniffed. “Primitive time. Primitive people.”
Barbara had had enough. She interrupted them. “People in the Age of Faith feared Hell,” she said, “as the place of eternal punishment of evil.”
“You gotta be kidding.” The boy clutched his chest. “Oooh, I’m so scared. Look out for those demons! Watch out! You’re gonna get burned!”
Barbara closed her book, then raised her hand to dismiss them. “That will do for today. Prepare well for your finals. I’ll see you next week.”
The students rushed out, laughing and pushing. A girl squealed. “Stop that!” she said, giggling, and then they were gone.
After spending three hours grading papers, Barbara rubbed her temples wearily. It was finally time to go home. She was slipping her laptop into her bag when she heard singing in the hallway. As she listened, the voice came closer, a young tenor, she thought.
She caught her breath when she recognized the song. It was the old Italian carol her grandmother, Nonna Lucia, used to sing in choir on Christmas Eve when the priest laid the Infant Jesus in the manger before Mass. She would never forget it. The words still pierced her heart:
Tu Scendi dalle Stelle O Re del Cielo
. Thou comest down from stars, O King of Heaven.
To a grotto. In the cold. In the frost.
The singing stopped. Barbara got up and walked to the classroom door. She looked down the hall, but she didn’t see anyone. Shaking her head, she went back to her desk, a little frightened.
Had she imagined it? Was she hearing things? At her age, she couldn’t be sure.
She ran her hand wearily across her forehead.
I’m too old for this
, she thought.
And I’m so tired
. She folded her arms on the desk and was laying her head down when someone knocked at the door.
She looked up. A young man was standing there. He looked vaguely familiar, but she didn’t think he was a student. He was wearing an Army uniform with one stripe on his sleeve and a single row of medals across his chest.
He called her name. “Dr. D’Angelo?” he said.
“Yes,” she answered. “What can I do for you?”
“May I come in?”
He walked over to the front row, sat down, and laid a book on the writing arm of his chair.
Barbara stared at it. The cover was silver and lavishly decorated. A golden cross was inlaid in the center, surrounded by jeweled leaves and flowers. It looked like a medieval codex, Where could he have gotten it?
“Was that you singing?” she asked.
“Beautiful,” she said.
“Thank you.” He smiled at her. “Do you remember me?”
“I’m sorry,” she answered, embarrassed. “You look familiar…”
“I’m Alphonse Donato,” he said.
Alphonse. It wasn’t a common name. She had known an Alphonse, once, a student. But that was years ago.
He ran his finger along the cross on his book. “I was named after St. Alphonsus. That was his song I was singing.”
“I know that song.”
“Of course you do.”
She looked at him questioningly, but he didn’t explain.
“Your grandmother wanted you to hear it again. Nonna Lucia, right? It’s her name day, you know.”
Was he crazy?
She twisted her fingers in her lap.
Shepherds come to praise the
He started to sing again “
O Bambino, Mio Divino…
” then stopped. “Sorry…I couldn’t help myself. We sing it often where I come from.”
She supposed he meant Naples, Marienella, perhaps, birthplace of St. Alphonsus.
Maybe she should call security. He seemed harmless, but one never knew
. “Where is that?” she asked.
“Purgatory,” he said.
Her hand flew to her heart.
“It’s real, you know. Not exactly like Dante described, but he captured the essence of it.”
She couldn’t speak. “Anyway, I’ve come to thank you,” he said.
“Thank me?” she stammered. “For what?”
“I was your student once, long ago, when you were young. I was taking Italian to satisfy my foreign language requirement. I was pretty much like your students today, just not so loud and obnoxious. My soul was a mess. Really dark.” He ran his finger along the edges of his book. “I’d been baptized and made my First Communion, but that was about it. I never went to confession. Didn’t think there was anything to it.
“But when we studied
you told me things I had never heard. I thought religion was fiction. I never knew Heaven was real. Hell, either, for that matter. But then, when you described Paradise, I knew I had to find out, I had to know more.” He paused. “That was the beginning. Because of you, I studied. I learned. And, then, by the Grace of God and the Hand of the Blessed Mother, I saved my soul. Do you want to know what happened?”
“A year after I graduated, I was drafted and sent to Vietnam. I got shot. I was just laying there in the dirt, scared out of my mind. I knew I was dying. That’s when the chaplain, Capt. Rodriguez came running over, right through the crossfire. He knelt there, like he wasn’t in the middle of a war, and asked if I was Catholic.
and he smiled, then told me to confess my sins. It was tough, but I did it. I could hardly breathe, much less talk, but I got through it. He absolved me, and then I died.”
Alphonse pointed to his uniform. “They buried me in this. ‘Course I sure couldn’t go straight to Heaven, no way. I was sent to Purgatory. That’s where I’ve been all this time—getting the old stains purged. I had plenty, that’s for sure. I’m almost done.”
He smiled at her, and his face glowed with a mysterious light. “I may be home for Christmas,” he said with a gentle laugh. “But first, I had a work to do and a debt to pay.” He paused. “Listen. This is very important. I was sent to tell you--Everything you once believed is true.”
She looked down at her hands.
he said, and then he was gone.
Shaken, Barbara glanced around the room.
I must have fallen asleep
, she thought.
But it had all seemed so real.
She pulled herself together and was slipping her students’ papers into her bag when Patrice Girard stuck her head in the door. “Are you still here?”
“I was hoping I could catch you. Mark and I having some people over Christmas Eve. We’re doing dinner French style with fish, bread, a little wine. Croquembouche. Not quite a full Reveillon, but a nod to tradition.
. Cool, don’t you think? Will you come?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Another thing. We’re going downtown to St. Mary’s for Midnight Mass. Want to join us?”
“It’s Latin. The Old Mass.”
“Yes. It’s allowed now. Where’ve you been?”
“Out of touch, I guess.”
“Looks like it. Anyway, what do you say?”
“I’d like that. I really would.”
“Great,” Patrice said as she left.
Barbara was getting up to get her coat when she glanced at the chair where Alphonse had been sitting—or at least the chair where she dreamed he had been—and she did a double-take. There on the writing arm was his silver clad book.
I have a debt to pay,
She went over, picked it up, and opened it. It was a missal, hand scribed on vellum, in Latin. She turned the pages carefully, transfixed, until she found the Canon; the consecration was penned in shimmering gold. Her heart raced as she read the words of miracle and power:
The Mystery of Faith.
And then she knew. Her heart beat wildly. She had found what she was looking for. It was all there, in the promise of the new and everlasting Covenant.
Her mind cleared. All doubt faded. She made a vow. She would go to the ancient Latin Mass on Christmas and every day after so long as she should live. It was there she would find Him whom her heart loved. God in the flesh who had given Himself for her.
A gentle breeze touched her cheek like a kiss. She raised her face. As tears of joy streamed from her eyes, music filled her heart and burst from her lips. Alone in the classroom, holding the priceless Missal, she sang the precious song of the birth of her Savior:
O Bambino, Mio Divino,
O my divine Baby,
O, Dio beato,
O blessed God.
And then she heard in the depths of her soul, a whisper,
Welcome home, beloved
Posted December 18, 2018
The opinions expressed in this section - What People Are Commenting - do not necessarily express those of TIA
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