Your Trinity Sunday 2019 Sermon Notes and the “Trinitini” martini

Was there a good point made in the sermon you heard for your Trinity Sunday Mass of obligation?

Let us know.

Also, apart from good points – which is what we want here – let us know if any of the preachers fell into the following heresies:

The Trinity is like…

Arianism – the sun, which produces light and warmth
Tritheism – the same wine in three bottles
Partialism – the egg which has shell, white and yolk or a shamrock with three leaves
Modalism – water, which is ice, fluid or steam

Last year I received a question by email about my sermon.  Here are the question and the response with a slight adjustment:


We are planning to have a special drink for the potluck to commemorate today’s Feast of the Trinity. We were planning to do a “Trinitini”, a martini with three olives to represent the three Persons in the One Triune God. However, just want to check that we wouldn’t be falling into any heresy by doing so, as you listed several heresies in your homily today. What would you suggest? One olive? Three?

This is just as important as the still-burning “plural of Gin and Tonic” question.

My response must be, first, never put that much fruit in a single martini.  Blech.

That said, if you make three martinis simultaneously and together from the same gin, and then pour them simultaneously, but distinctly, into one large glass such that you have the three distinct martinis in one glass. The three whatevers on their skewer (possibly olive and onion and lemon twist, etc.) in the one glass containing the three martinis would be the distinction of the three-in-one nature of each martini, each sharing in the same nature but distinct, and all working together in everything.

I believe that would avoid most of the heresies listed above.

There is a problem with making the martinis in the first place.  They would have to be eternally existing martinis.

Moreover, one might object that the three simultaneously poured martinis would blend and become indistinct in relation to each other other than the skewered additions. I think the skewer with different elements takes care of that.  But what if each gin poured, still being the same gin, could have a slight different specific gravity? At least with the specific gravity element, they would be together but separate in layers of one and same martini.  But… if they have a slightly different specific gravity, are they the same gin?   I think not.  Hence, the skewer to differentiate the relationships, distinct roles but in unity.

This Trinity dogma is not easy.  In fact, it’s a mystery.


Posted in Lighter fare, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Thoughts about the change to CCC 2267 on the death penalty

When the change was made to the Latin text of CCC 2267 – concerning the death penalty (claiming that it is now always “inadmissible”) – I both said in sermons and wrote here that the change was troubling and for more than one reason.

First, when changes are made to doctrinal statements, they should make the teaching of the Church clearer, not less clear.  The change to CCC 2267 created confusion.

Second, it struck me that perhaps this was a trial-balloon, floated before attempting to change CCC 2358 on objectively disordered homosexual inclinations.

Also, I explained that something doesn’t become true by the fact of it being put into the CCC. It is put into the CCC because it can be demonstrated to be true. Look at pages in your CCC and you will find lots of footnotes with pertinent references to Scripture and the Fathers and Councils, etc. Look at CCC 2267 and you find one note, referring to a statement that Francis’ himself made in a speech a short while before.   That’s it.   It’s a bit self-referential. Of course it would be challenging to find references in Scripture or the Fathers or Councils etc. to uphold the position asserted in 2267, for, using all those, the Church has always upheld that capital punishment is admissible in some cases.

Hence, I refer you back to my first point.

Look.  You can be, personally, sincerely against any application of the death penalty in any circumstance, but you should still be really concerned about this change.   It’s puzzling… and that’s not what catechisms are for.  Catechisms might make you stop and think and scratch your head as you work it out, but they are not supposed to leave you puzzled.

People are confused by CCC 2267. It appears to be a radical change to the Church’s teaching. You have to read a lot of things into the vague word “inadmissible” to get to a place where 2267 doesn’t look like a reversal.

The other day, the US Bishops voted with only 8 NO votes – who are those guys, I wonder – to approve a change to the US edition of the Catechism to bring it into line with the Latin of CCC 2267.

Also, I see that Peter Kwasniewski gave a talk in Chicago about the change t0 CCC 2267. HERE

Ed Feser and Joseph Bessette co-authored a useful book about capital punishment.


Finally, does this mean that the CCC is not, any longer, a sure reference work, as John Paul II, called it, for the Faith?   No.  It is still useful, to the extent that it was intended to be used.   The CCC – any catechism – is not and must not be thought of as the final word on every issue of faith and morals.   It’s a catechism.   As such, it is intended to be a summary for the introduction of teachings to the young and converts, catechumens, and to refresh the knowledge of those who haven’t been maintaining what they had once learned.   We could include reverts and the lapsed.   Catechisms are imperfect… but useful.

I’ll turn on the moderation queue for this one.

Posted in My View, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, SESSIUNCULA, The Drill | Tagged , | 19 Comments

Chilean priest’s episcopal consecration axed because of some comments

I suspect there’s more to this story than this story suggests.  Nevertheless, it is a sign of the dopiness of the times we are enduring, that a priest, soon-to-be bishop can be dismissed for something as insignificant as this.

From The Guardian:  (my emphases and comments)

Chile bishop resigns after suggesting there is a reason the Last Supper had no women

Carlos Eugenio Irarrazaval stands down, weeks after appointment by pope to clean up church’s public image

A Chilean auxiliary bishop appointed by Pope Francis less than a month ago has resigned, just weeks after he made controversial comments about the lack of women in attendance at the Last Supper.  [Hang on.  What’s the timing of this?  He was named to be  bishop, but, before he was consecrated he made comments about women.  But, were the comments made before or after his public nomination to be a bishop?]

Carlos Eugenio Irarrazaval was appointed by the pope in an effort to rebuild the church’s credibility following a pervasive sex abuse scandal that exposed hundreds of allegations now being investigated by Chilean criminal prosecutors.

The archdiocese of Santiago did not specify the reasons for Irarrazaval’s departure in its statement, but said the pope had accepted the bishop’s resignation “in favour of unity and for the good of the church”.

The bishop’s [NOT!] short tenure began with a television interview in May, in which he said there were no women seated at the table at the Last Supper and that “we have to respect that”.

“Jesus Christ made decisions and they were not ideological … and we want to be faithful to Jesus Christ,” he said in reference to the lack of women in attendance. [So far so good.]

He also said that perhaps women “like to be in the back room”.  [Is that really that terrible?  In Italy, I was often at gatherings where the men were over here and the women were over there.]

According to the Bible, the Last Supper was Jesus’ last meal with his disciples before his crucifixion, depicted in many famous works of art. [The Last Supper!  It’s FAMOUS!]

The comments sparked a backlash among women’s groups and critics of the church in Chile at a time when confidence in church leadership in the once staunchly Catholic nation has plummeted.

Pope Francis earlier this year accepted the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati as archbishop of Santiago, the highest-ranking member of the Catholic church in Chile, after he was caught up in the country’s sex abuse scandal.

The church’s credibility has been harmed in much of the world by abuse scandals in countries including Ireland, Chile, Australia, France, the United States and Poland.

In Chile, prosecutors say they are investigating more than 150 cases of sexual abuse or cover-up involving more than 200 victims.

Irarrazaval will continue to serve the church as a pastor in Santiago, according to the Archdiocese of Santiago.

Irarrazaval could not be immediately reached for comment.

CNA has other information:


The decision for Irarrázaval to resign “was the fruit of dialogue and joint discernment, in which Pope Francis valued the spirit of faith and humility of the priest, in favor of the unity and good of the Church that is a pilgrim in Chile,” according to the statement.

Irarrázaval apologized to the Jewish community at the end of May after he made some controversial statements in an interview with CNN Chile May 23.

In the interview, the priest was asked about the role of women in the Church, to which he said: “we all have to ensure that they can do what they may want to do. Obviously, Jesus Christ marked out for us certain guidelines, and if we want to be the Church of Jesus Christ, we have to be faithful to Jesus Christ.”

“Jewish culture is a male dominated culture to this day,” he continued. “If you see a Jew walking down the street, the woman goes ten steps behind. But Jesus Christ breaks with that pattern. Jesus Christ converses with women, converses with the adulteress, with the Samaritan woman. Jesus Christ let women care for him.”

“It is true that at the Last Supper there was no woman seated at the table, and we also have to respect that. Jesus Christ made choices and he didn’t do it ideologically,” he said.

May 28 Irarrázaval expressed his apologies to the Jewish community during a meeting held at the archdiocesan offices with Jewish representatives.


So, women and Jews went after him, both.

Crux has more HERE.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that, n the present situation, Church leaders must say nothing that might be in the slightest way interesting enough to draw attention of special interest groups who are represented by the professionally offended.

Otherwise…. hey!  There’s another angle.   For you priests out there who might be tapped to be a bishop… and you want to say “No!” … but they won’t let you.    Accept with smiles and then say something you really mean in public!   They’ll be tearing your resignation letter out of your fingers so fast it’ll make smoking trail marks.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes | Tagged | 5 Comments

Canonist Ed Peters eviscerates bishops – one in particular – who won’t apply law

Right away go over to canonist Ed Peters’ place and read his vivisection of Card. Cupich.

It’s not just Cupich whom he has eviscerated.  It’s all the bishops who refuse to implement the Church’s Canon Law.   I believe bishops take oaths when they are consecrated and when they take an office.   Am I wrong?

Since he doesn’t have a combox, and he doesn’t mind reposting of text with attribution…

Cupich’s rationales for not taking canonical action against prominent pro-abortion Catholic politicos are as unconvincing as ever

No one thought that Chicago’s Blase Cdl. Cupich would follow Springfield’s Bp. Thomas Paprocki’s example in calling upon Catholic state legislators, who had supported Illinois’ express attack on the basic rights of pre-born babies, to refrain from holy Communion until they repented of their evil deed (Canon 916), further directing that his ministers withhold holy Communion from two specific legislators based on their protracted and public support of such measures (Canon 915), so no one was surprised when Cupich didn’t. But, if only ‘for the record’, some replies to Cupich’s rationales for not following Paprocki’s example are in order.

1. Cupich claims that “it would be counterproductive to impose sanctions”. This misrepresents a crucial point: withholding holy Communion under Canon 915 is not the application of canonicalsanction but rather the observance of a sacramental disciplinarynorm. Casting the operation of Canon 915 as a sanction (implying thereby proof of canonical crimes upon the observance of special penal procedures) is a straw-man frequently posed by prelates skirting the plain provisions of Eucharistic discipline.

2. Cupich claims that “sanctions [sic] … don’t change anybody’s minds”. This misrepresents the two-fold purpose of withholding holy Communion, namely to prevent the scandal to the faith community that arises from the administration of holy Communion to Catholics who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin (say, by their formally depriving innocent human beings of any protection under civil law) and to prevent sacrilege from being committed against the august Sacrament. ‘Changing people’s minds’ has nothing to do with either goal.

3. Cupich claims that, when confronted with prominent Catholics who formally and actively cooperate in depriving innocent human beings of their right to life, his “primary responsibility is to teach”. This misrepresents the fact that bishops have not one but three primary responsibilities, namely, to teach, to sanctify, and to govern the People of God (Canon 375, emphasis added). Preserving sacramental discipline in the Church entrusted to him is a crucial part of a bishop’s governing duty (Canon 392). A bishop cannot therefore point to his admittedly sound teaching in regard to the right to life as if that satisfies his duty of governing his Church in support of that teaching, any more than a father can excuse sitting by while members of his household act against the common good, by saying, “Well, I told them what was right and wrong.”

4. Cupich might (it is not clear from the CNA article) claim that Paprocki’s action was taken in response to legislators “who championed the law”, referring only to the awful bill passed in Illinois a couple weeks ago. But if this is Cupich’s claim it would be factually wrong, for Paprocki, in invoking Canon 915 against two named politicos, expressly underscored their repeated and prominent role in advancing pro-abortion state legislation over a period of time and in multiple ways. Paprocki did not act upon news of a single bad act (although he might have been justified in doing so on these facts).

5. Finally Cupich claims that “an elected official has to deal with the judgment seat of God” adding that God’s judgment will be “much more powerful” than any here on earth. In that regard Cupich is certainly correct. Elected officials will be answerable to God for their acts and omissions. As will bishops. And cardinals.

Posted in 1983 CIC can. 915, Canon Law, Emanations from Penumbras, Liberals, The Drill | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments


Prayers, please.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 34 Comments

USCCB meets. They talk about the “nones”. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

How many times have I written it here?

Nothing we undertake as a Church, this plan or that project or this resolution to form a committee or action item, will succeed unless it flows from and returns to our sacred liturgical worship.

I watched the USCCB stream when they were talking about what to do to keep young people in the Church.

Guess what they didn’t talk about.

There’s a story at LifeSite which has reaction of young people about what has kept them in the Church: the TLM.

If we get our liturgical worship of God wrong, then everything else we do will fail.   We build on sand.  Put another way, familiar to long-time readers here, everything we undertake in the Church must begin with liturgical worship and must be brought back to liturgical worship.

If the virtue of justice governs what is due to human persons, since God is a qualitatively different Person a different virtue governs what we owe to God: religion.  The primary way in which we individually and collectively fulfill the virtue of religion is through our sacred liturgical worship.  If we screw up on the virtue of religion and our sacred worship, then all our other relationships will be out of harmony.  We have to get our worship right.  This is so intimate to who we are as Catholics that I constantly say: We Are Our Rites.

And because we have an individual and collective vocation not just within the Church (ad intra) but to the world around us (ad extra), we might say even “Save The Liturgy – Save The World”.

If we don’t know who we are, what we believe, how to act on it and have thin to no strong supports and sources in our sacred worship of God, then we will be ineffective across the board.

Why should the world pay any attention to us if we don’t know who we are?

Why should young people stay?

Not many reasons I can think of, given the state of worship and of preaching in the average suburban parish under the aging aegis of the 80’s formed clergy.  80’s and others.

We must MUST revitalize our worship of God and the way to do that is through the gift – the foresighted and farsighted gift that Benedict XVI gave us in when he implemented Summorum Pontificum.  And this is why that gift is so feared by those who think that we can do it on our own, who reduce the supernatural to the natural.

This is a huge issue, friends.  We need the TLM more and more and more in our parishes.

Again, we are our rites.  Change them and you change our identity and, hence, our impact in the world around us (as in “Save The Liturgy, Save The World“)… not to mention our path to salvation.

We Are Our Rites.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

New “Chernobyl” TV show and the End Times

I understand that there is a new series on HBO about the Chernobyl disaster.  I haven’t seen any of it yet.

During the summer after the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster I was in Rome for Fr. Reginald Foster’s intense Summer Latin Bootcamp (again).   I lived mostly in Trastevere during these summers, but I also spent time with Ukrainians on the Aventine.

The older men there, although they appreciated my bass voice at Divine Liturgy, were suspicious of outsiders (reasonably so… this was before the fall of the Soviet Bloc) and they were entirely freaked out in 1986 and worried about the end of the world.

One day I got one of them to tell why they were so nervous about the End Times.

“Chernobyl”, he responded.

“And…?”, quoth I.

“Chernobyl… in English mean ‘vooormvooood'”.


“Voormvood!  Like Bible.  “Voooormvoooood.”

I got it.

Ukrainian “chernobyl” stands for Artemisia vulgaris … wormwood, as in the Bible.

Wormword is a Hebrew metaphor for a curse, because of its bitterness.

But there’s also Revelation 8:10-11:

And the third angel sounded the trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters:
And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

A great star… something hot… fell on the waters and people died.

Have a nice day!

Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Semper Paratus, TEOTWAWKI, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 11 Comments

A “Catholic Signal Corps” – Thinking about a Catholic digital future and this blog

Semper paratus.

Here is an idea I have brought up in the past.

Since this blog is facing huge changes, of existential ramifications, I have pondered how much easier life could be for me and for others if there were a

Catholic Signal Corps“.

What do I mean?

Firstly, consider that big social media outlets are filtering, censoring, shadow banning content and users whose opinions are not “acceptable” to them.

Consider also that this is going to get worse as we continue to polarize.

Next, people who want to or who do use the interwebs for good, Catholic works usually don’t have the tech background to, say, be a server administrator or to unwedge problems as they arise… and they always arise.

Building up a free standing site and keeping it updated and running is not easy. Not just anyone can do it.  Believe me.  I have practical knowledge of the problem, not theoretical.

It it hard to find good tech help that is both capable and reliable.

I can’t say how many times I’ve reached out to find some help and, after deciding that this or that person might be okay, he turns out to be incapable of maintaining even basic communication.

In any event, a friend of mine who is solidly Catholic has in the past been seriously involved in tech development.  Some time ago, we discussed forming a reliable and capable group of tech savvy Catholics who could form a “corps” to help keep Catholic sites up and running.

Our conversation also ran to future needs, such as the creation of “distributed architecture technology” and a decentralized web, in the case that the powers-that-be decide that we shouldn’t have a voice in the public square.  As it stands, the people in control of the registry, DNS, can disappear anyone.

I have been wanting a tech person to maintain the back-end of this site for a long time. I haven’t found anyone reliable and capable in the same person. I think others might have the same issue.

Recently I gathered some names – or tried to – of people who understood WordPress… who really grasp it, not just who have tinkered with it.  I got some responses and I forwarded them to my aforementioned development savvy friend.  The idea is to form a small team who could be of help.

What if that were expanded and there could also be pay for belonging to the team: a Catholic Signal Corp?


¡Hagan lío!

Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Be The Maquis, Semper Paratus, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged | 9 Comments

ASK FATHER: Traditional aspergillum or “whisk”?

From a reader…


For years now our parish has used the equivalent of a small whisk broom instead of a more traditional aspergillum during the Easter season. The “whisk broom” seems to throw much more water and the priests and deacons seem to prefer this method of “sprinkling”.

It is hard to say what is more “traditional”, one of them there metal balls with holes on the end of a stick or a “whisk” which imitates a mass of hyssop branches.  After all, the chant of the Asperges, which the Vidi Aquam replaces in Easter, refers to the hyssop.

It all depends on how much Holy Water the priest intends to send downrange.

Some priests are snipers with an M40.  Others like SEALs with their Mk 14 Mod 0 Enhanced Battle Rifle. Others are like door gunners with their 7.63, six-barrelled M134 Minigun.

It’s a matter of preference and, of course, how well-equipped the armory… the sacristy is.

The late-great Bp. Morlino, the Extraordinary Ordinary, used a whisk-like contraption that probably delivered a pint per pitch.

Speaking of which, when the new Space Force is inaugurated, I’ll be ready both with aspergillum and with whatever else they set me up with. These certificates should go into my CV right away.

It was a trick getting these, I can tell you, given that the Space Shuttle doesn’t fly anymore.

Yes, another day, another weapon mastered.

In any event, when I figure it out, for my Asperges or Vidi Aquam it’ll be…




Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Priests and Priesthood | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

BOOKS RECEIVED: Antonio Socci on why Benedict is still Pope and Sam Gregg on the Struggle for Western Civilization

Books are coming in like hail.  Many on a similar theme.

Here’s what I’ve been up to today, resulting in the melting of my brain.

Today I read through

The Secret of Benedict XVI: Is He Still the Pope? by Antonio Socci.

The Italian subtitle is a little different: “He is still the Pope.”  A couple people, who ought to have known better, wrote to me as if I were an idiot, to explain that sometimes publishers change the titles when they are translated into new languages.  YES… I know.  I read books in 5 languages and I’ve been reading them for a while now.


First, Socci describes the conditions in the world leading up to the resignation.  He goes into a lot of geopolitics, which may or may not interest a lot of you.  Effectively, there has always been a conflict between secular and sacred authority.  In recent years the conflict of these USA with Russia manifests a certain dimension that made Benedict’s reign less and less tenable after the Cold War and the death of JP2.  He comes back to that, briefly, at the end when he brings in the Third Secret of Fatima.   Socci also underscores the important turning point of the amazing Regensburg Address, so misunderstood by so many outside and inside the Church.  Anyway, there would be reasons to doubt the validity of the conclave that elected Francis because of the clear machinations of certain Cardinals pushing for a more secularized Church.  However, the main point Socci argues is essentially the case Archbp. Gänswein famously made in a speech during a book presentation.  Namely, Benedict didn’t really intend to resign the papacy in its totality: just the administration of the munus, not the munus itself.  Hence, there is a way in which he remains the legitimate Pope while not governing the Church.  He makes also an interesting spiritual argument also, based on the way that Christ was stripped of His clothing before being crucified.   Finally, Socci gets into the Third Secret and what that might mean based on his argument about Benedict still being Pope while Francis is out there poping.  He has some new, or at least relatively unknown, words of Jacinta about seeing the Pope in visions.

The book is heavily laden dense footnotes often having more text than the principle text.  I suppose Socci did that so that one could read the book rather continuously and to keep the volume relative slim.  You decide.

Next, I’ve delved into Samuel Gregg’s new work

Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization

US HERE – UK HERE I see that it is also available via Audible and Blackstone Audio.

This is a history of ideas kind of book.  Gregg explores what happens when faith and reason drift apart.  This is issue of existential importance for “the West”, especially in light of the fact that the West itself has been the source of ideas that have caused the separation of faith from reason.

Hence, Gregg’s first chapter is entitled “The Speech That Shook The World”.  It is about Pope Benedict’s famous – and aforementioned – Regensburg Address.

Read the Address HERE.    Audio in German HERE.

You also want to read about Benedict XVI’s amazing Regensburg Address with the help of James Schall.



Finally, for today, I also received a copy of

The Word Became Flesh: An Introduction to Christology (Formed in Christ Series)


This is part of a series intended as High School texts.   However, given the state of things, I think this could easily be adapted also for parishes, or parish study groups.

Indeed, an “introduction to Christology” might be exactly what your parish priest needs.

I paged through this book.  It is well organized and the style is pitched low but not in a condescending way.  Anyone would be able to use this.  Each section has some assigned reading from Scripture and the CCC.  Each section has questions for both review and for discussion.  This is why it could form a good resource for a parish study group, even of adults.   I didn’t see anything that made me raise my eyebrow, even though some points are necessarily made a little thin, due to constraints of space and audience.  A good guide of a study group could expand.  For example, the reality of Hell is not downplayed in the least.  The issue of mortal sin and separation from God at death and judgement is underscored.  However, the why of and how sin separates us from God forever could be filled out by a good leader.

And so I circle back to the book at the top, Socci’s book about Benedict.   His first chapter dealt with Arianism, the major Christological question of the early Church which caused so many problems of unity and identity.  Those times can teach us about our times.  One could also say that most of our problems today flow from bad Christology.  Thus, a new book for younger people on Christology is welcome.

Posted in Benedict XVI, REVIEWS | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

ASK FATHER: Pipe organs, being expensive, how about manually pumped reed organs?

From a reader…


Pipe organs being too expensive for most parishes, and many electronic organs being used instead sound terrible and turn people off from the organ, what are your thoughts on bringing back reed (pump) organs to church?

I never really appreciated just what one was capable until I heard it played by competent people who knew how to get the most out of it.

Take, for example, Widor’s Toccata played on this rather large pump organ that even has a peddle board:
Or Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor:
Or for hymns, Hyfrydol:

This was the standard instrument in many churches prior to Vatican II, and many of our beloved female saints who were musically competent played it during Mass.

You never know what sort of question will come up. Let’s sample…

My first impulse is to say, hey!, it’s hard enough to find organists to play any organ, much less a manually pumped reed organ. Have at!    And I’d be concerned about keeping it tuned in widely shifting seasons.  Even worse than a badly tuned instrument is an almost tuned instrument.

My second impulse is to say, hey!, that’s going to be handy after the massive CME creates a grid killing sequel to the Carrington Event. Hang on to that organ along with your horse tack and plow, ammo, and the transceivers stored in your Faraday cages.  The EMP will wipe out the other organs for sure.

My third impulse is to say, hey!, that’s pretty darn cool and, in lieu of a greater instrument, it sounds pretty darn good. I think it would sound even better used for music scaled a bit more for its capacity. Widor? Wow. He was the organist of Saint-Sulpice in Paris with its mighty Cavaillé-Coll. Gutsy!

By way of contrast.

Look. In the right space with a good fist at the manuals and an healthy helper at the bellows, it could be just the right thing.  Why not?  In a smaller church, why not?

That was fun. Thanks.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Semper Paratus, TEOTWAWKI | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

ASK FATHER: Alb for a boy’s pretend “Mass” set?

From a reader…


I am making a set of vestments for my 9 year old son to use for pretend Mass over the summer. (I’ve been inspired by your posts regarding the travel vestments being made for your priest friend and plan to make my son’s double sided as well.)

My question is, can I buy a used altar server alb online and let him use it as his priestly alb? My main concern is that perhaps it was blessed and it would be wrong to use it at home for this purpose. I’ve found one that would be very cost effective and allow me to spend my time at the sewing machine concentrating on the more beautiful pieces. But I want to do the right thing.

I’m sure that Fr. Johnson will be pleased to know that his loss of vestments, and our project to have new one’s made has led to your project for your son.  Perhaps he, too, will be inspired to consider a vocation to the priesthood.

Can you use a server’s alb.


Don’t worry about it having been blessed.  If you get something online, it is being sold and bought, which would in any case result in the loss of the blessing.  They aren’t going to be selling blessed things, anyway.   That comes after they are purchased.

However, since we are on the topic of blessing vestments for Mass, here is the text of a beautiful blessing for priestly vestments.  You can sense, in the texts, the grave and serious attitude that the Church had – and in places where traditional is fostered today still has – when it came to things intended for sacred purposes.

Almighty everlasting God, who decreed through Moses, your servant, that the vesture of high-priest, priest, and levite, used in fulfilling their ministry in your sight, should be worn to dignify and beautify the worship rendered to your holy name; mercifully heed our prayers, and be pleased, through our lowly ministry, to bless + these priestly vestments (this priestly vestment), bedewing them (it) with your grace, so that they (it) become hallowed and suitable for divine worship and the sacred mysteries. Let every bishop, priest, or deacon clothed in these sacred vestments (this sacred vestment) be strengthened and defended from all assault or temptation of wicked spirits; let them perform and celebrate your mysteries reverently and well; and let them always carry out their ministry in a devout and pleasing manner; through Christ our Lord.

This tells us something of the proper mindset of the one who approaches the sacred mysteries at the altar of the Lord.

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ASK FATHER: Marital relations after a tubal ligation 22 years ago out of fear of pregnancy

From a reader…


I am very uneasy in my conscience. Twenty-two years ago, after the birth of our fourth child (last 3 were high risk pregnancies that ended in C-sections), my wife felt she was too old (38) to risk another pregnancy. She went to our parish priest to ask about tubal ligation. He told her that he had no advice, that she should do whatever she felt in conscience would be best. She went ahead and had it.

Just last week it occurred to me that for the last 22 years all of our marital acts have been objectively sinful. I confessed this, but the priest said nothing about it. Am I right in my thinking? I am now in my seventies and my wife is in her sixties. If we continue to have relations, are we committing mortal sins?

Firstly, that priest, 22 years ago, did you a disservice.  In order to have committed a mortal sin, you have to had known that it was wrong and you have to have intended with full will to do it anyway.  The fact that you asked a priest suggests you suspected it was wrong.  But… the priest left you in midair.  Given the unhelpful response of the priest, the circumstances of your ages, the reality of the C-sections, and the emotional turmoil you were surely experiencing, I suspect that you didn’t incur the guilt of the act of the ligation, even though it was intended precisely to avoid pregnancy.

That’s in the past.  Moving on, because that’s what we now must do, you are not morally obliged to seek a reversal of the ligation.  Given that this is now the condition you are living in, you may in good conscience have relations.

Again, I note that the second priest you mentioned, when you confessed this, “said nothing about it”.   Again, that priest also left you hanging in midair.

Friend, be at ease about this.   Life is messy and the situation of the Church in the last few decades has been crazy.  It is greatly to your credit that you wondered and worried about these questions enough to consult.  I’m just sorry that you had to be in a conflict of conscience for any length of time because you didn’t get a straight answer from the priests you asked.  You might say a prayer for them asking God, if they are alive, to give them some backbone and clarity of thought. And if they are dead, mercy.

I wouldn’t mind a prayer for myself.

The moderation queue is ON and I probably won’t let comments go unless they are from priests or at least highly useful.

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On a painfully hopeful day, consolation arrives – new icon of Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy

It has been a painful and hopeful day.  Hopefully painful, or painfully hopeful, I can’t decide.  The needle drifted a to the later as I opened my mail.

First, it is REALLY supposed to be MONDAY in the OCTAVE of PENTECOST.  However, can one object strongly to acknowledging Mary as Mother of the Church?  The Church had it’s birthday on that first Pentecost, so a feast to honor her as the Church’s Mother is a good thing.

Next, a document and a book made me grind my teeth – because they are necessary – but happily that we now have additional resources.

There were some other binomials as well, but today – on this appropriate day – I received something I’ve looked forward to for a while.

Veronica Royal, better half of the guy who shows up on EWTN all the time, painted for me – nay, rather, drew – an icon of Mary, Queen of the Clergy.  Her site is HERE.

I have a strong affinity for this title of Our Lady.  Years ago, I happened upon a lovely old French holy card of her and the image stuck in my heart.

A couple years back, knowing that I have this affinity, some nuns who share this affinity sent me a statue.  I’d very much like to have this statue redone.

Coincidentally, on the day that the statue arrived, I also received a beautiful Missal stand from  from St. Joseph’s Apprentice who is becoming justly famous for his beautiful portable altars… the ultimate gift for a priest.  I’m sensing a pattern.

I’ve also made it a point when I am in Paris to visit frequently the chapel dedicated to Our Lady under this title at one of my favorite churches, Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in the 5th, which is cared for by the priests of the SSPX. It is simply the best kept and most active – and friendly – I’ve found in the City of Lights. And that is where there was seated a Confraternity of Notre-Dame du Clergé.

And now I have also this.

And, to continue a pattern of getting things on the same day and of priestly protection, or protection of priestly things, today I also received a hard case that will be useful in transporting my chalice back to Rome if I choose to have it refurbished there (where it was made).  I want finally to finish it by adding gems for the roses in the node, which I chose because of the way St. Therese de Lisieux saved my vocation.

But that’s another story.

Thanks to Veronica Royal for the beautiful work.

You can find her site HERE.  And, right now, she is also on the right side bar of the blog.

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Wherein Fr. Z reads, rants and prays

There is an article today at National Review which has a reaction to Pope Francis’ strange words about the Eucharist.  HERE.   Francis said that, since “there is already unity” among Christians, then we shouldn’t have to “wait for theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist.”

Is that so?  If that is the case, then a fundamental principle we Catholics have embraced since the beginning of the Eucharist is being overthrown.  The idea is this: The reception of the Eucharist in Communion together both reflects unity and creates unity.  However, one of those has logical priority and chronological priority.  Common belief in what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist is a sine qua non for its reception in common with other Catholics.  Once unity in belief is established, then reception continues to deepen the unity.  But the one must precede the other, logically and chronologically for “communion”, in its proper sense, to be authentic.   Admission of those who do not believe and who do not publicly profess what Church teaches about the Eucharist, is to cause a false appearance of communion and an abuse of the sacrament of unity.  In other words, reception of the Eucharist cannot, by itself, create communion.  Grace builds on nature, it doesn’t replace it.  Hence, what Francis said is troubling at best and disturbing at non-best.  I don’t know how to square what he is suggesting.

I’m a convert.  I was Lutheran.  No Communion for me before I converted.  Lutherans don’t believe what Catholics believe about the Eucharist. Period.  No Communion for them, or any other person who doesn’t believe what the Church teaches.  This is not rocket science and every Catholic who has even the slightest clue knows this is true.  I’m not making this up.

In these confused and confusing times, there are some days when we are able to collect a few more threads than usual in our weaving of lifelines upon the thrashing deck of the Barque of Peter.   Today seems to be one of those days.

First, there is issued a “Declaration of Truths”, which I wrote of HERE.

Then, there is a new book translated into English of essays, etc., by Roberto De Mattei.

Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church


In the forward by Cardinal Burke, I read a key phrase:

Only by fidelity to Sacred Tradition can the Bride of Christ, amid the many challenges she faces, chart her course, in accord with the will of Christ, her Bridegroom, her Head and Shepherd at every time and in every place.

Succinct and just plain right.

These are troubled and troubling times.  However, help is showing up for the troubled in the form of sound reflection and the thoughtful, faithful writings that flow from reflection.

De Mattei, right off the bat in his book, attempts to remind the reader that the Church has had some pretty rocky times in the past, and that many of those challenges – which at times seemed existential – were caused by Popes and were handled by the faithful who resisted them with humble fidelity to what the Church has handed down in her Sacred Tradition.   He even has a startling offering entitled “The Sack of Rome (1527): A Merciful Chastisement.”   A key to the events that lead to the truly hideous rampage through Rome of Protestant led troops was the refusal of Clement VII to head his predecessor Adrian VI’s appeal for radical reform.   The shock to the Roman Church’s identity seems to have awakened her so that she initiated a counter-reformation that produced a Council of Trent and defeat of the Turks in 1571 at Lepanto.

Someone like Jordan Peterson points out that we can make huge changes in our lives through small, incremental and compounding changes.  Otherwise we can deal with change through disaster management.   The same goes for the Church.

The situation we are in right now didn’t happen overnight.  The situation we are in right now isn’t going to be fixed overnight.  We shall eventually wake up to the need to make necessary changes.  We can do so incrementally and let compound like interest to our benefit or we can wait for the chastisement which our loving Savior will permit for our correction.   It is Christ’s Church, remember.   And as De Mattei wrote his preface,

Only Jesus Christ can save the Church – no one else – because He alone is her Founder and Head.  Human beings, from the Vicar of Christ down to the last member of the faithful, can either cooperate with or resist the divine grace that comes to them through the influence of the Holy Spirit and impels them to radical fidelity to Christ and His Law.

Remember, grace builds on nature.   In our lives we get through with grace, but grace needs our elbow grease.

I write this on Monday in the Octave of Easter, which in the modern calendar is now also the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.  Mary, at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry said, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Oh, Lord!  Tell us what to do now! Mary, at the end of Christ’s public ministry, stood in perfectly unified resistance to evil by her silent vigil at the Cross.   Oh Lord!  Make us steadfast by your Cross.  Upon Mary the Holy Spirit poured even as it poured out on the Apostles to strengthen them at the birth of the Church on that first Pentecost.   Oh Lord! Strengthen us all in your fire-breath of grace!

Yesterday, on Pentecost, I reminded the flock of one of the effects of the outpouring of the Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation.   Confirmation also strengthens us to make the hard call and then stand firm when we are challenged in our Christian living.  We can call upon the power of this sacrament, which has imparted an indelible character, like the potter’s mark of ownership, into our souls.  Confirmation is an ongoing reality in our lives just as the Pentecost event is an ongoing reality in the Church.

The RUACH hasn’t stopped, though our ears are now deafened to Its roaring course.

As we move forward in these troubled and troubling times, make a conscious choice to call upon that mighty sacrament you received.  Activate it. 

Mind you, the sacrament will be mighty in you when you are in the state of grace.  I repeat, therefore, my perennial admonition.


Then get up off the ground, stand up, stick your chin out and say,

“Almighty God my heavenly Father, You knew me before the creation of the cosmos and You wanted me to come into existence to bring You glory.  Of all the possible universes You could have created, You created this one and You called me into it at exactly the time and place You chose for me so that I could fulfill my part in Your unfathomable plan.  You willed that I have the honor to be baptized into the Church You designed and You maintain for our well-being.  You willed that I receive the Body and Blood of Your Son and the indwelling of Your Spirit.   You willed that I should also be confirmed so that our relationship be even deeper and that I might be an even better instrument of Your will.  I now call upon that mighty Sacrament of Confirmation.  Through it make me strong to bear whatever burdens I must endure in Your service.  Make me wise to recognize accurately and then strong to resist, resolute, whatever is out of harmony with Your will as manifested especially in the beautiful Tradition You have guided in the authoritative, infallible and indefectible Church. Even if that disharmony should come from those whom you have endowed with the grace of Orders and seated even in the highest places of teaching, governing and sanctifying, make me steadfast.  With confidence in Your plan for me I ask this for myself and for the brethren through the Holy Spirit’s Gifts and in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.”


Posted in GO TO CONFESSION, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , | 14 Comments