The White Lily Blog

Holy Mass and the Stock Market

The stock market, at least as it is constituted today, is immoral. It is immoral not because it represents capitalism but because it betrays capitalism; or betrays something even older than capitalism, betrays the bedrock of society:  the prudent exercise of private property, whether stone-age club or stock option.

There are Catholic teachings that could guide us to a surer road than this torturous alternation of Bull with Bear markets, the wild swings that manage to maintain wage slavery among the world’s peoples great and small.  But there is little discussion among Church leaders of these teachings, and much confusion over the franchise. Some calling themselves Catholic demonstrate the protestant errors of the neocons, with their orthodox moral values (on abortion, divorce, and related issues) but their persistent worship of false gods, the golden calf that passes now for a free market.

Others with a completely opposite agenda also call themselves Catholic, but fail to avoid the socialist error, with their state-driven income-redistribution or welfare programs (as opposed to actual ownership of real property capable of being passed on, productive of value, appreciable) and further betray the faith in another way with their support for gay lifestyle and their compromise on abortion, among many other value issues.

Neither side is correct, and it is arguable that they truly represent Catholic teaching, but they have managed to make fighting words of the venerable Catholic term ‘social justice.’  They influence other Catholics to make common cause with protestant economists whose philosophical foundations support capitalism unrestrained in any way, even when the developments contribute to an un-free market. They cause Catholics to desert Christ’s poor, who will still need housing long after the sub-prime meltdown is doused.

It was therefore refreshing, to say the least, to find one group that seems to offer working people a ray of hope both economically and morally. They have a political party called the American Revolutionary Party, or ARP, another associated website called the Center for Economic and Social Justice, and a magazine called  The Social Justice Review: A Pioneer Journal of Catholic Social Action.  Their economic program is not a bailout of the big banks, but instead a way to encourage the widest distribution of ownership of new capital in such a way that future bailouts will be unnecessary.  The plan just adopted by the US does nothing to address the drastically concentrated ownership in key industries that made failure unthinkable and necessitated state-intervention.

The political name, by the way, for this situation, the one we have just faced where we watched our government conclude that they had no choice but to impoverish taxpayers at the expense of Wall Street, is fascism.

No,  no not the little-mustache fascism with its Jewish fetish, the new fascism rather that goes with the twenty-first century, a  fascism of the Fifth Element:  all the porn and drugs and toys you can afford, but never have love, never have safety, never dignity, AND NEVER OWNERSHIP. The State stands ever-ready to protect the homefires  of the Rich, and the poor are racked and stacked and fed in like cordwood as needed. You know, that fascism. Timeless and so chic.

This group’s analysis indicts the current system and its bailout, maintaining that such a collapse is the inevitable outcome of the stock market’s dependence on ever-increasing valuation of stocks, with the possibilities of fraud (as in the deliberate unfair manipulation of share prices, fueled by the practice of tying executive compensation to stock option packages rather than fixed salaries) and the fact that ‘secondary issuances’ are pieces of paper only, linked to no real assets, not backed by value, empty and therefore always dangerously close to disappearing.  It is all backed by debt, this so-called free market, and its so-called democratic government, too. And the group convincingly links our broken system, with its ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor, to world-wide resentment against the US, and the guarantee thus of war, and future war, and finally, Eternal War.

The group has an economic program which they call ‘capital homesteading,’ a smart contemporary application of traditional Catholic economic principles like distributism to the virtual frontier, and they’re not talking forty acres and a mule, but another kind of capital.  It does not serve to condense the plan’s sensible essentials to a postage-stamp blog; readers may study their proposals on the sites above, and buy the book, Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen.  You won’t be able to put it down (you can’t afford to pay the cable, that’s why!).

There are two areas of immediate concern with the group’s beliefs. Either could be a deal breaker for the committed Catholic. One relates to abortion, and the other relates to liturgy. Regarding abortion, this is the position taken by the ARP on their website:

 We will recognize the sanctity of every human life, born and unborn.  However, we will avoid both government coercion, on the one hand, and taxpayer subsidies, on the other, to influence decisions on controversial issues where citizens are sharply divided on moral or religious grounds, such as abortion on demand. Such divisive issues should instead be settled in the marketplace of moral ideas through the powers of persuasion and reason, rather than through the force of government.

Most ‘social justice’ organizations will not make the statement that they recognize the sanctity of life, but how does the ARP think they can make that statement concrete if they do not protect the life of the baby in the womb through the power of law? Only by removing subsidies of abortion. Taxpayers presently do not directly subsidize abortion through the health insurance provided by welfare programs, but the US government heavily subsidizes Planned Parenthood through a variety of payments-for-service (just as it subsidizes Catholic Charities for many of its services), although it is possible that these government funds make the ‘reduced price’ possible that PP offers to low-income women, and may lower the price of abortion over all. In general, though, the poor are already paying for their abortions, which are cheap, relatively speaking. ‘Sidewalk counselors’ who keep vigil at abortuaries say that many, and some say most, women enter there under coercion from the boyfriend or family, and that only a roll-back of Roe vs. Wade would empower them to resist. It is debatable whether ARP’s position is truly pro-life, but it is not substantially different from John McCain’s.

ARP is also uncomfortable with those who take issue with the new mass. A Catholic journal site publishes Micheal Greaney, an ARP spokesperson and also an article lambasting a book (Priest, Where is Thy Mass published by Angelus Press, that praises the traditional mass and criticizes the new. In the article the author of the book is given as ‘John Vennaro’ , but actually is John Vennari, editor of ‘Catholic Family News,’ a blog with Lefevrist connections). The book is a collection of essays by sixteen priests castigating the new mass.  The Journal lambaster, Father John H. Miller, Congregation of the Holy Cross, now deceased, defends the new mass’ practice of celebrating mass turned toward the people instead of toward God with old flower-power archeological arguments refuted by none lower than Benedict XVI himself, in his numerous statements on the praise-worthy practice of celebrating ad orientem

Of all the vexing abuses to be found in the new mass, abuses long recognized by the Church, abuses that have been consistently tied to empty pews and pastoral nightmares, Miller acknowledges only one and gives an easy solution: “If one seeks reverence in the celebration of Mass in the new rite, let him ask priests to pray it and while they pray it not look at the congregation, except when they greet or exhort the congregation.” Father Miller could know from experience (since the older generation of CSC priests were mildly infamous for abuses, although it is said the new crop is looking more traditional)  that the typical Novus Ordo priest is hooked up to a wireless mic amped with enough bass to rock the church–so not looking at the congregation while his every sigh and murmur fills the church would amount to simple coquetry, nothing more.

Perhaps it is easier for the reader to understand abortion as a deal-breaker in evaluating the credentials of a third-party contender than the attitudes of its fellow-travelers toward liturgy. But not if one considers that liturgy is a reflection of the nature of one’s belief in God. The authenticity of that belief. The likelihood that belief in God will guide them in the tight spots, will constrain authority’s tendency to excess over the rights of the individual, especially the poorest, weakest, most vulnerable individuals. The new mass is a sponge for political manipulation in a thousand ways, from the extemporized prayers to the selection of the lay “ministers” to the enforced peace handshake; the old mass is simple and humble and open to no manipulation at all beyond the sermon. That a political party should easily tolerate and share space with those who mock and disdain the old mass is not a good sign for their liklihood to honor the equally old respect for life and property.

One of the functionaries for the Journal site in question has since told the writer that the author of the offensive post, the past editor of the Journal, was deceased, that the Journal staff had long since disagreed with the sentiments expressed in the post, that their chaplain celebrates the old, Tridentine, mass, and that the piece would undoubtedly be taken down by a new editor shortly. This response, however, was elicited by the actions of this writer, not any protest by the ARP.

And yet an otherwise articulate spokesperson for this group, Michael Greaney, on the Journal site, makes an assertion regarding the deliberate suppression by the post Vatican II church of authentic Social Justice teachings, especially those of Pius XI, that is identical to those made by the promoters of the traditional mass. They too believe real Catholicism has been suppressed. Yet Greaney apparently fails to make the connection between his cause and theirs.

Greaney writes:

“The goal [of modernist forces within the Church] is to make the Church not only  in the world, but of it. This must be done, and done completely, in order that the   temporal order can force whatever current vision it has of reality on to the Church. Thus the Church will change from a censuring guide and go along with,  or, more likely, offer enthusiastic approbation of every change in temporal  society, no matter how greatly it may be at odds with reality, that is, with God’s Nature.”

But this is exactly what Marcel Lefevbre believed, only he applied it to the liturgy, not the deliberate suppression of the teachings around social justice, as Greaney does. (But of course it would have occurred in both arenas! What, is Satan stupid?)

Greanley writes, as the core of the failure to pursue the teaching of the whole faith, as the core of the sickness of relativism, that

“Having the Church as guide for civil society and interpreter of the universal moral values that must underpin the social order means that there must be  a single authoritative source for such interpretation and guidance.”

So, for modernism to win, the strong center must be abolished. And what, at that hour, wounded our universality and discipline worse than the splintering of the mass into a  thousand masses in a thousand, warring, vernaculars, than the enculturation into the liturgy of ideas and beliefs foreign to Catholicism, than the easy disobedience of the shadow national churches that arose behind the liturgical changes?

It is all part of the same trick! And it is not just the liturgy–there are doctrinal areas of ‘confusion’ loosely or directly tied to Vatican II that Greaney notes as instrumental in the hamstringing of social justice doctrine which are noted as instrumental also by supporters of the traditional mass; the most casual reading discovers them at once.

It is ironic that the traditionalists mocked on this website, then, are among the few Catholics left celebrating the feast of Christ the King with the ferver and unabashed love with which Greaney himself writes about it, utilizing the same definition. It is ironic and sad, and it simply does not speak well for either the intelligence of the ARP, or for their moral courage.

For to ignore the impact of sick liturgy on the general sickness of our Church seems worse than simple failure to identify a potential ally (serious enough in a political player).  It feels like a willingness to kick someone when they’re down, to join the gangbang.  It’s like satirizing Palin’s accent, when you don’t agree with her economics but know your listeners are only hating on her for having five kids. It’s cheap, and in the end it will turn on you.

The proposals of this group merit serious attention, but it is to be hoped that they recognize that the suppression of the truth which they recognize and rightly detest has happened in a number of areas across the board, not just regarding the Church’s teachings on social justice. They must put their money where their mouth is, regarding abortion, by calling for the rollback of Roe V. Wade. And their Catholic members ought to support very publically all demands for the restoration of the Tridentine mass. This should be done for justice’s sake alone, as giving God what He is due, but not only that; it’s for the practical reason that there is magical power at work in the liturgy. Yes! The mass is not something we do, it’s the thing we do, and it saves the world, every day. Literally. Without the sacrificial mass, the world would end. You’re not Catholic if you don’t sincerely believe that.

Some believe that economics trumps worship, but Catholic tradition teaches lex orandi, lex credendi:  as we worship, so do we believe.  Liturgy trumps all. That is the secret. The holy traditional mass prayed by a fervent community in its ancient language, worth a king’s ransom!  Of course it was suppressed, just as were the teachings of Pius XI.

It is sad to find this group of otherwise astute and charitable thinkers undercutting their own arguments in this single but important matter.

Visit them. Leave a comment.

8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for your kind words.
Sorry to write to this post since it is not relevant, feel free to not post this “comment.”
I have a “Subscribe to this blog” function on “Atheism Dissected” and I thought that it was an RCC feed so either I was mistaken about what “Subscribe” meant or you just did not see it.
Check again and see if it is what you were looking for, it is on the right hand side menu under the quote, under the search engine and under the two drop down menus.

Comment by Mariano

I’m not a Christian, so I have no basis for commenting on Catholic liturgy. But I’m delighted that there is a meeting of the minds between you and all of us at CESJ on the universality of Catholic Social Teachings. I’d be interested in receiving your comments on our “Core Values” ( and our “Code of Ethics” (
I will forward you criticisms of the late Fr. Millers’s and Michael Greany’s positions on the liturgy to Michael for his respone. I appreciate your positive comments on our views on economic and social justice. Norm Kurland,

Comment by Norm Kurland

It is to be regretted that the author writes as if Social Justice Review (not “the Journal”)were an organ of the American Revolutionary Party or the Centre for Economic and Social Justice. Mr Greaney has been a frequent contributor in recent years, but so have many other writers whose economic orientation is not that of the C.E.S.J. Social Justice Review has been continuously published since 1908, long before Louis Kelso promulgated the economic theories now espoused by the C.E.S.J. Historically, S.J.R. has been most open to the “solidarist” economics of Heinrich Pesch, rather than to any of the competing schemes to “fix” the economy.

Comment by Thomas Wayne Hoover

It would seem to be most prudent in terms of educating the public not to print people with whom one does not agree, without some explanatory framework.

But that wasn’t the point of the liturgy section of the post, was it? That section was blaming Michael Greaney for being published at the site, not the site for publishing him. Whatever the preferred name for the publication in question, it tolerated on its site for many, many years a vicious attack on tradition, until that attack was protested by me (in fact, the article may still be ‘up,’ I haven’t checked, although I was promised that it would be removed). No matter what one’s economics, its brilliant origins, its fine pedigree, and the length years on it, it’s worthless without the liturgy, worthless and dangerous without a firm foundation in God as worshipped in the traditional Church. The novus ordo church put Obama in office, and that group learns both its politics and its theology at that turned-around altar. You still don’t seem to get it, dismissing Greaney. For the post, he was the subject, but your clarification might better have been around why your site–it doesn’t matter how many people post there, it’s your site–attacked the traditional liturgy so, and probably still fails to attack the novus ordo as it properly should. (Tell me I’m wrong, you’ve come to your senses!)

But the information you provided was interesting, and I wish you might come back and explain how the theoretical differences among these groups inform the present economic crisis and the options we have before us.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

When the Pope attacks the Novus Ordo,you can bet Social Justice Review will do the same. Until then, we prefer not to attack a rite in which His Holiness sees fit to celebrate. Obama was put in office, not by Catholics attached to the Novus Ordo or the Vetus Ordo, but by nominal Catholics who seldom darken the door of churches of either rite. (By the way, we have a church in Saint Louis called St. Mary of Victories, where the Novus Ordo is celebrated weekly in Latin and ad orientem.)

Comment by Thomas Wayne Hoover

Dear Mr. Hoover,
You are waiting too long for the Holy Father to attack the Novus Ordo. He already did, and he’s not going to send out engraved personal invitations. In Spirit of the Liturgy he enunciated the important principles, which you evidently recognize in practice, since you mentioned that in your area you have the novus ordo celebrated weekly ad orientem in Latin, two of the essentials he lists. But perhaps you aren’t really giving due weight to the ‘principal principle’ (sorry!) there: that the entire liturgy is an accelerated teaching machine, a lesson amplified by the Holy Spirit and incredibly powerful. That’s what the old saying means, ‘as we worship, so do we believe.’ And as we believe, so do we act, unless our brains are somehow short circuited. It’s the nature of humanity. And thus the liturgy is the place to look for both the source and the solution to every single peril facing us today, including doctrinal.

You aren’t ignoring that the problems we face aren’t caused by something deeper at SJR. In fact, you have many articles searching for the same connections: that the wolves have been teaching the sheep, for example, regarding sexual predation among the clergy, or ‘Revisiting the Feeding Frenzy of 2002,’ in which you clearly and rightly identify the toleration of homosexuality in the Church as a deeper cause of the abuse. But you want to skip the liturgy as a source. There is nothing on your site about it now (thanks heavens you did remove the post by Father Miller, may he rest in peace). And you want to think that because St. Louis has a Latin celebration of the novus ordo ad orientem, all is well, or at least as well as necessary until the Holy Father asks for more.

Well, he can’t ask for more! He’s waiting for us to build the necessary base! For heaven’s sake, man, nobody ‘leads’ without due preparation! Isn’t he calling on us to help? For a whole year he has been giving communion only to persons on their knees, on the tongue, something Redemptionis Sacramentum didn’t even dream of (you remember Redemptionis Sacramentum–I can guarantee it’s being ignored in 99% of the rest of St. Louis parishes, just as it is in Chicago). Are you waiting for him to make it the law? He’s waiting for you to request it in your parish–every day!–and to raise some stinks, to put it in familiar political terms. He’s in the most tenuous of positions.

And has he not given every signal that the problem is now broader than the liturgy (fed by the new liturgy, in fact)? Would he entertain doctrinal ‘talks’ with the Society of Pius X otherwise? He needs those talks! He needs that dialogue (about ecumenism, to just put it simply, in a nutshell)

He’s doing everything but draw us a map. I am not a theologian but I have spent a lifetime in political work. And this is how it works. There are no leaders who do not count on updrafts from the ground to launch their reforms. That means brave men must step out. You have all the clues you need, Mr. Hoover. Something else is lacking.

The question of who elected Obama is related. You said that it wasn’t the novus ordo Catholics who elected him, but those who don’t set foot inside the church door. But no. It was fine novus ordo Catholics who empowered them, provided and provide the cover. Consider the nun in a post of mine–Arlene Welding as I recall. She is not only novus ordo Catholic–as a nun, of course, she is most certainly speaking from the soul of it; but additionally she was ‘decorated’ by her order for advocating for Obama and for abortion of the poor as a kinder alternative to their poverty. That order is the School Sisters of St. Francis, based in Milwaukee, not a fringe group.

Perhaps as you suggest, novus ordo Catholics like this are few. Yet wouldn’t you dispute that yourself, seeing who sat in the seats at graduation when Obama conquered Notre Dame? Do you think they do not set foot in church? Did you look at them? They are the Eucharistic Ministers and the parish concilieri, and the clergy who attended that graduation are the poster boys for the novus ordo. Were you there? The clergy who attended the alternative ceremony in the grotto, the bishops who signed the protest petitions, are not poster boys for the novus ordo. Not a one.

This is quite a long reply already. Besides, you’ve taken down the offensive and contradictory article attacking the traditional mass and the SSPX book by Father Miller and that makes me happy enough. But Mr. Hoover, I want you to see the whole picture, and help the Holy Father. You’d be better than me. You’re a very kind gentleman (I just re-read your gracious reply to me back in October, in my email). I wish you would back SSPX’s rosary crusade–you can google it, right? to get the particulars?–and just put your shoulder to the work of getting ad orientem and Latin and communion kneeling, on the tongue, and the new translation at least, in every parish, at every mass. The key to ending abuse, to increasing vocations, to quickening energy among the faithful, lies not in identifying ever deeper wolves among the sheep, but in prayer first. Liturgical prayer. The Holy Father already told us. If you equivocate on it, you could end up like, say, the Chinese government, which now realizes, or is beginning to realize, it made a mistake with its One Child policy but is so reluctant to back-track ideologically, even though the demographic crisis they are facing is becoming alarmingly clear, that it is actually turning down requests from the general population to be allowed their second child even as the government tries to dial up reproduction in other quarters (only-children may apply for a second child; not otherwise). Because they do not see the central problem, they are adding back a few babies, while China’s hope for a better future disappears. (I don’t have that link with me where I am volunteering, but I’d send it if you ask, when I get home.) The Church can’t lose, but souls can be lost. That could be on us. You may have that same habitual thinking track regarding the liturgy, and consequent
dislike for SSPX, that allowed you to keep that article on your site all those years. If you would join the rosary crusade, I’d be so happy I’d offer mass ’til Christmas for you. Traditional mass. You know, the good stuff.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

Oh, Mr. Hoover. Here’s a link that breaks my heart, a Jesuit saying, in America magazine, that Barack Obama captures the good, wonderful spirit of Vatican II:

Now would be a good time to rest my case, unless you say that America magazine and the Jesuit order are not Catholic, do not attend mass, and have nothing to do with the all the other errors circulating in our time.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

This is a very old post, and thank God I have learned a few things. There is no political movement worthy of Catholics or capable of success that does not put Christ the King at the center of society. There is no political movement viable in the universe that does not recognize His Church. Secularism is dead, and all compromises with it will end in defeat.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

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