VIDEO FOLLOW UP: 13 Oct 2017 Pontifical Mass at the Throne @BishopMorlino @MadisonDiocese

We now have some video of the Pontifical Mass at the Throne celebrated by Bishop Robert C. Morlino, the Extraordinary Ordinary of Madison, on 13 October 2017 at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, WI for the 100th anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun”.

Wanna watch?   HERE

Two things.

First, the equipment is new and there are still gremlins.  There have been audio problems.   In this video there is no audio until about 15:30. Suddenly, it just came on.  I don’t yet know why.   Also, the audio that there is is poorly balanced.  We haven’t figured out yet what to do with microphones.  We’ll get there.

Second, the sanctuary in this little country church is really small.  As a result we had to adapt a bit.  I chose a Roman solution and parked the sacred ministers on the steps of the altar, which worked well in a pinch.  I only spotted a couple little ritual errors, but nothing of importance.  And His Excellency had us sing a Creed, which usually isn’t part of a 2nd Class Votive Mass, but… HEY!  We believe in God around here.



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16 October 1978: Election of John Paul II

Where were you when you heard the news that a man from Poland had been elected to the See of Peter?

It was on this date in 1978.   Wow.  39 years.

Apropos recent debates that have strongly emerged in the Church, I note a couple passages from his encyclicals.

First, from his 1993 Encyclical Veritatis splendor 103-4:

Only in the mystery of Christ’s Redemption do we discover the “concrete” possibilities of man. “It would be a very serious error to conclude… that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an ‘ideal’ which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a “balancing of the goods in question.” But what are the “concrete possibilities of man”? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

In this context, appropriate allowance is made both for God’s mercy towards the sinner who converts and for the understanding of human weakness. Such understanding never means compromising and falsifying the standard of good and evil in order to adapt it to particular circumstances. It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without even the need to have recourse to God and his mercy. An attitude of this sort corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values.

Next, from his 1995 Evangelium vitae 57 [note how he uses the word “innocent”]:

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. “Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action”.

As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others. This equality is the basis of all authentic social relationships which, to be truly such, can only be founded on truth and justice, recognizing and protecting every man and woman as a person and not as an object to be used. Before the moral norm which prohibits the direct taking of the life of an innocent human being “there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the ‘poorest of the poor’ on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality we are all absolutely equal”.

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PODCAzT 158: Catholicism and Capital Punishment

noosePope Francis recently made statements about capital punishment which are the cause of much discussion.  While invoking “development of doctrine” he seems to contradict established Church teaching about the death penalty.

It is as if His Holiness would harmonize these two statements:

  • Capital punishment is intrinsically evil.
  • Capital punishment is not intrinsically evil.

The principle of non-contradiction suggests to me that these statements cannot be reconciled.  But I’m a simple guy.

In my effort to understand the parameters of the issue, I have turned to a 2001 essay by Avery Card. Dulles in First Things called “Catholicism and Capital Punishment.

Take note especially of his point about the virtually unanimous consensus of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church on capital punishment.  Also, Dulles makes the observation that opposition to the death penalty has risen in direct relation to the decline in belief in an afterlife.   There are many other informative points in his clear piece.

Card. Dulles comes down strongly against application of the death penalty, but in a way that is consistent with the Church’s perennial teaching and in accord with reason.  I find him convincing.

This paragraph merits great consideration:

Arguments from the progress of ethical consciousness have been used to promote a number of alleged human rights that the Catholic Church consistently rejects in the name of Scripture and tradition. The magisterium appeals to these authorities as grounds for repudiating divorce, abortion, homosexual relations, and the ordination of women to the priesthood. If the Church feels herself bound by Scripture and tradition in these other areas, it seems inconsistent for Catholics to proclaim a “moral revolution” on the issue of capital punishment.

Along the way you will hear a snip of music from a fascinating modern piece by Garret Fisher called The Passion of Saint Thomas More.  It seemed appropriate to use it.


Also, I include at the end a snip of a lovely and soothing Chinese pentatonic rendering of the Ave Maria.  It is on an amazing disc.


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London Oratory School Schola – USA TOUR – 22-29 October 2017

Here is a great opportunity, not only to experience a great Catholic boys choir, but also to SUPPORT a great Catholic boys choir!

There are both Masses and concerts.  Take note.

The Schola Cantorum of The London Oratory School

Posted in Events, The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 4 Comments

VIDEO: London Rosary Crusade 2017

This is a marvelous video sent by a friend in London, who wrote:

Here’s how Fr Tim Finigan described it a couple of years ago.

This occasion must rank as one of the most splendid manifestations of Catholic faith in our country in recent years. The numbers have been swelled by the immigrant Catholics who have come to form part of the Catholic Church in London. At the same time, the clipped tones of the English middle and upper classes demonstrated that the Church is truly Catholic. There was no snobbery here – and no inverted snobbery. All were as one, witnessing to the faith they love, taking Our Lady onto the streets of London, and filling a Church that represents the high-point of English Catholic restoration – and not only in the 19th century.
I would encourage anyone who is dismayed by the falling numbers of clergy, or mass goers, or marriages, to come next year. This event neither seeks nor receives any official encouragement or support. If any ecclesial activity could be said to be of the people of God, it is this. You want to see the Church alive and kicking? Here is where the action is.


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PHOTOS: Pontifical Mass at the Throne – 13 Oct 2017 – @MadisonDiocese

On Friday 13 October, we had a Pontifical Mass at the Throne with the Extraordinary Ordinary of Madison, His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino at the little church of St. Mary in Pine Bluff where Fr. Richard Heilman is pastor.

Here are some images from the Mass.  NB: Some of you readers helped to buy the vestments!   HERE


Out Lady of Fatima has been in the church during the anniversary months.



The size of the sanctuary required us to find a Roman solution for the sacred ministers.  We seated them on the steps of the altar, which worked well.  We’ve done this before.


We are getting good enough at these Masses that we were able to proceed with about 20 minutes of practice of a few rough spots.  The priests, who rotate through roles when we have these Masses, are pretty familiar now with the sacred action.

IMG_2931 IMG_2933 IMG_2939 IMG_2953 IMG_2954 IMG_2957  IMG_2958

There were people standing along the sides and in the back, and we put more chairs in the narthex.


Turning the housling cloths.  At this parish, even for the Novus Ordo Masses, everyone uses the rail and I don’t believe anyone receives in the hand anymore.

IMG_2982 IMG_2991 (2)


Fr. Heilman was one of the Deacons at the Throne.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

WDTPRS 19th Sunday after Pentecost: SECRET – saving and healing

NADAL_19_post_pent_smToday’s Secret for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost was in ancient versions of the Gelasian Sacramentary, such as the 8th c. Gellonensis.  I don’t think it survived the scissors of the Consilium, wielded by Fr. Bugnini’s liturgical experts.

SECRET (1962MR):

Haec munera quaesumus, Domine, quæ oculis tuae maiestatis offerimus, salutaria nobis esse concede.

In prayers which stress propitiation we will often have looking words or imagery.  For example, we get orations with the gentle imperative respice, from respicio (“look upon, have regard”).  We also put things and ourselves in God’s sight, “in conspectus tuo” and, as today, we offer things to the “eyes of your majesty”.   I think this is both a “courtly” form of address, but it also resonates of the Biblical, as in Ps 32 (33):18: “Behold the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him: and on them that hope in his mercy.”  We know from many other WDTPRS articles that maiestas can be a form of address for God, as in “Your Majesty”, but it also refers to a divine characteristic, His glory, in this case tied to His mercy.


We beseech You, O Lord, grant that these gifts which we are offering in the sight of Your majesty, are for us saving things.


Grant, we beseech You, O Lord, that these gifts which we offer,  under Your merciful gaze, may be for our salvation.

St. Andrew Bible Missal (1962):

O Lord, we ask that these gifts which we offer in the presence of your majesty may be availing unto our salvation.

In the Introit, we begin with Salus, (“salvation, health”).  In the Collect we beg to be freed not only in mind, but also in body.  The Epistle, from Ephesians, we hear the Apostle pray for the renewal of the mind and the new man.  The Church sings in the Offertory “salvum me faciet… Thy right hand will save me.”

The Secret also has salutaria, “saving/healthful things” and in the Postcommunion the priest intones, “medicinalis operatio… the working of healing grace”.

Another common theme in the Mass formulary is that of observance of the commandments.

In the Introit the Psalmist sings “Attend, O my people, to my law.”  In the Collect we pray to seek what is of God (“quae tuae sunt”).  The Communion explicitly speaks about God’s mandata, His commandments “to be kept most diligently”.  The Postcommunion links the medicinalis operatio with keeping God’s laws (“inhaerere mandatis”).

The “medicinal” imagery today may stem from the ancient Roman church where this Sunday’s Mass was celebrated: The Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, whose feast day since the earliest day has been celebrated in the autumn – in ancient times as today on the fifth day before the Kalends of October (27 Sept).  Remember, this Sunday can “slide around” in the calendar depending on when Easter fell.  St. Cosmas and Damian, you will recall, were brothers and physicians who were martyred during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian in 283.  They were venerated in Rome, having not only a Basilica at the Roman Forum dedicated to their memory, but their names are in the Roman Canon.

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WDTPRS – 28th Ordinary Sunday: “God crowns His merits in us”

The elegant Collect for the 28th Ordinary Sunday has been used for centuries on the 16th Sunday after Pentecost according to the traditional Roman calendar.  This is a lovely prayer to sing.

Tua nos, quaesumus, Domine, gratia semper et praeveniat et sequatur, ac bonis operibus iugiter praestet esse intentos.

The separation of tua and gratia in the first line is an example of the figure of speech called hyperbaton: unusual word order to produce a dramatic effect.  That et… et construction is snappy.

st-alphonsus-liguoriThe pair of verbs praeveniat…sequatur reminds me of a prayer I heard at my home parish every Tuesday night after the communal recitation of the Novena of Our Mother of Perpetual Help by St. Alphonsus Liguori (+1787).

In the Rituale Romanum for blessings of people who are sick:

“May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you that He may defend you, within you that He may sustain you, before you that He may lead you, behind you that He may protect you, above you that He may bless you. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Intentus, -a, -um is from intendo, “to stretch out, extend” as well as “to turn one’s attention to, exert one’s self for”.  Our Collect has both semper (“always”) and iugiter (the adverbial form of iugis) meaning “always” in the sense of “continuously.”  A iugum is a “yoke”, like that which yokes animals together.  Iugum, or in English “juger”, was a Roman measure of land, probably because it was plowed by yoked oxen, and it is also the name of the constellation Libra, Latin for a “scale, balance”, which has a beam, a kind of yoke. The Roman measure of weight called the “pound” still today has abbreviation “lbs”.  The iugum was an infamous ancient symbol of defeat.  The Romans would force the vanquished to pass under a yoke to symbolize that they had been sub-jug-ated.  Our adverb iugiter means “always” in a continuous sense probably because of the concept of yoking things together, bridging them, one after another in an unending chain.  We hear this iugiter also in the famous prayer written by St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) which is the Collect for Corpus Christi and is also used at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament: “O God, who bequeathed to us a memorial of Thy Passion under a wondrous sacrament, grant, we implore, that we may venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, in such a way as to sense within us constantly (iugiter) the fruit of Thy redemption.”


We beg, O Lord, that Your grace may always both go before and follow after us, and hence continuously keep us intent upon good works.


Lord, our help and guide, make your love the foundation of our lives. May our love for you express itself in our eagerness to do good for others.


May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works.

Let’s be super picky for a moment about the conjunctions.

That et…et is a classic “both…and” construction, joining praeveniat and sequatur. Here we see et…et…ac…   That ac sometimes informs us that what follows is of greater importance than what precedes it. If that is the case here, then our Collect presents a logical climax of ideas.  This is why I added a “hence” to my literal version.

Tua gratia, “your grace”, is the subject of all these verbs.  We want God, by means of grace we do not merit, always to be both before and behind us.  We want His help so that we, fallen and weak, may be always attentive to the good works which, informed by faith and God’s grace, will help us to heaven and benefit our neighbor.

AugustineAll our good initiatives come from God.  If we choose to embrace them and cooperate with Him, He guides them to completion. Grace goes before.  Grace follows after.  Our good works have merit for heaven because God inspires them, informs them, and completes them through us, His knowing, willing, and loving servants.  The deeds and their merits are ultimately God’s but, because we cooperate and because He loves us, they are also truly ours.  As St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) wrote, God crowns His own merits in us (ep. 194.19 to Sixtus, later Pope Sixtus III).

Sunday’s Collect reminds us how important our good works are for our salvation. They are all manifestations of God’s grace.

Just as we hope God will lavish His graces on us, so too we should be generous with our good works for others.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, WDTPRS | 1 Comment

New Book about Galileo!

I’m pretty excited about this book and I haven’t even gotten into it yet!

I’ve read a lot about Galileo over the years.  This looks good.  I like that “in context” part.  The book doesn’t just deal with issues, but about the personalities and competing interests of the day.

Galileo Revisited: The Galileo Affair in Context by Paschal Scotti


Inevitably people who attack the Church will bring up Galileo.  When the issue of Faith and Science comes up, Galileo’s name is soon to follow. However, they usually have no idea what really happened with him.

Posted in The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 23 Comments

Urgent Prayer Request

May I ask a prayer from the readership?  I am ailing and I must MC a Pontifical Mass this evening.  First, something is wrong with my neck on the right side.  When I move, it hurts like crazy.  Second, I’ve come down with a cold, which makes the neck thing really fun.  I have no energy and a lot of pain.

Please ask, on this most portentous anniversary, the Mother of God and Queen of Priests to intervene for me and lift both of these problems.

Thanks in advance.


Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 20 Comments

D. Madison 13 OCT – Pontifical Mass for 100th anniv of Miracle of the Sun – AND YOUR MASSES

Fatima_miracle_of_the_sunOn 13 October, special Masses will be celebrated on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun during the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima.

Use the combox to post about YOUR Masses! 

In Madison, His Excellency Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, the Extraordinary Ordinary, will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at the Throne at 6 PM at St. Mary’s, Pine Bluff.

Fr. Richard Heilman is pastor of St. Mary’s and the Mass is celebrated there at his request with the assistance of the Tridentine Mass Society of the Diocese of Madison.

We hope to be able also to LIVE STREAM this Mass over the interwebs!  The equipment is in and working.

The Mass will be a 2nd Class Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in accord with Rubricae Generales of the 1962 Missale Romanum 342 & 370-372.

I am sure that in many places special Masses are being organized.


Posted in ACTION ITEM!, Events, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Solitary Boast | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments

Card. Sarah: Holy See has last word on liturgical translations

New Say The Red - Do The Black / New Translation coffee mugPeople ran around with their hair on fire a while back when Pope Francis changed the process by which translations of the liturgical texts are prepared.  He gave a greater role to bishops conferences.

I read today at the National Catholic Register that Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, confirms that the Holy See retains the last word on the translations.

Of course.  It can’t be any other way.

Ed Pentin, the best English-language Vaticanista now, reports:

Cardinal Robert Sarah has weighed in on Magnum Principium, Pope Francis’ motu proprio on liturgical translations, reassuring the faithful that the Vatican will continue to safeguard any changes or new liturgical translations to ensure they remain faithful to the original Latin.

In an article in the French Catholic journal L’Homme Nouveauthe prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) confirmed that the motu proprio’s change to Canon 838 — which shifts some responsibility for translating liturgical texts away from the Vatican to local bishops — will still require the Vatican to give approval to any such changes or translations.

The article, officially dated Oct. 1 — the day on which Magnum Principium (The Great Principle) came into effect — bolsters the guidance issued with the motu proprio by Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the CDW. Archbishop Roche stressed that the Vatican’s role in confirming texts remains an “authoritative act” presupposing “fidelity” to the original Latin.

Cardinal Sarah’s statements on the matter contradict those who see the motu proprio as a gateway to more liberal vernacular interpretations of liturgical texts, inconsistent with their Latin original.

The Holy Father, who signed Magnum Principium Sept. 3, authorized changes to Canon 838 that decentralized the translation process, giving local bishops responsibility for translating liturgical texts, while retaining the Vatican’s authority to approve or reject a proposed translation.

The CDW will no longer instruct bishops to make proposed amendments, but retains authority to confirm or veto the results at the end of the process. [I effect, however, I’ll bet that there will be unofficial instruction to make changes.]

Among other consequences, this means that the Vatican commission Vox Clara, which was established by Pope John Paul II in 2002 to help the CDW vet English translations, will no longer be needed.  [I don’t see why it couldn’t still be useful as a liaison, especially now.]


[…]Liturgiam Authenticam

In his article, Cardinal Sarah begins by reasserting that the “authoritative text” concerning liturgical translations remains Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2001 instruction issued by the CDW, that aimed to ensure “insofar as possible” that texts must be translated from the original Latin “integrally and in the most exact manner.”

For this reason, he continues, the faithful translations carried out and approved by bishops’ conferences “must conform in every way to the norms of this instruction.”



Read the rest there.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Translation, WDTPRS | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

A Dominican Thomist examines the claim that “Amoris laetitia” is “Thomistic”

Aquinas_AmorisThis is really important.

I’ve been waiting for a Dominican well-versed in Thomas to examine the claim that Amoris laetitia is a “Thomistic” document and/or that it makes good use of the Angelic Doctor’s words.

At LifeSite find an examination by Father Thomas Crean, O.P., who has serious credentials.

I think what he wrote settles the issue.

I suggest that you print it out.


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25th Anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  St. John Paul II approved the provisional text in June 1992 and it was promulgated on 11 October 1992, which is also the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  Hence, today is also the feast of Pope St. John XXIII who opened that Council with a speech known today as Gaudet Mater Ecclesia.

In that speech, the most important thing Pope John said was:

The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.

Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries. […]
… But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith [NB] or the truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing, the manner in which these truths are set forth – in the same meaning and understanding – is another. [NB… that last bit is often left out of translations!] And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.

Does that sound like what is going on today?

“adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness”

“a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine”

I have a PODCAzT about John XXIII’s speech.  HERE

This anniversary prompts me, once again, to urge that you dear readers begin to form small study groups.   Let’s call them “base communities”.

In self-enrichment and in self-defense, begin to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church together.

Read, review, study the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

US HERE – UK HERE (There are many editions.  Look around.)

I am a huge fan of Kindles (US HERE – UK HERE), but you should also have the BOOK, the material volume which you can hold in your hand and write in.  Get the book, which you can flip around in and hold spots in with a couple fingers as you cross check.

Read it.  Pick it up. Read portions every day.

St. John Paul II called the CCC, “a sure reference point”.

Finally, I have a personal anecdote about the CCC.

First, some strong Latin students were asked to contribute to the first Latin version of the CCC.  I was one of them (Matrimony).  It was a strange process.  The provisional text of the Catechism was composed mainly in French. The Italian text was prepared from the French, but Italian became the bases of the Latin version.  Imagine the difficulties that could arise when translating quotations, etc.   Keep in mind that the 1992 text was provisional.  It was eventually revised.  There were quite a few errors of citations, etc.  The text was given to my school, the Patristic Institute Augustinianum, for double-checking and verification and correction.  When that process was completed, the president of the Institute, who knew I worked in the Palazzo Sant’Uffizio across the road from the Augustininianum, asked me to deliver the finished text to the Cardinal Prefect.  And so, I carried the final version of the corrected, official LATIN text wrapped up in brown paper, up to Card. Ratzinger’s office and put it into his hands.  St. Pope John Paul II would promulgate that official Latin text in 1997 on the Feast of the Assumption.

Posted in Linking Back, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

ASK FATHER: Confirmation at an SSPX chapel?

009_TmsmConfirmation2016From a reader…


Thanks for all that you do on this blog. It’s been a real blessing for me and my family over the years. My question concerns confirmation. I live in a diocese where the bishop has established a “policy” of not confirming children until they are 15. The pastor of my FSSP parish has been very reluctant to fight this. My impression is that we are barely tolerated in the diocese so I understand his position, but I nevertheless need to get my children confirmed. I have a 13 year old and an 11 year old that very much want to be confirmed this year. They know their catechism. If the diocese won’t confirm them because of their “policy” (which seems to contravene the canon law right of the faithful to receive the sacraments), would I sin by having recourse to the local SSPX chapel for confirmation? I’m not sure what else to do. Recourse to Rome seems unlikely to bear fruit these days, and waiting until 15 is unacceptable.

Pope St. Pius X, of blessed and hallowed memory (Lord, raise up holy clergy and hierarchy like unto him!) did many good things for the Church. However, his decision to move the age of First Holy Communion back to the age of reason, while arguably laudable, displaced the Sacrament of Confirmation. Valiant attempts have been made to put the Sacraments of Initiation back into their traditional order (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion), but in many places these attempts have been met with fierce resistance from various quarters But, perhaps that is tangential to this immediate and pressing question.

Parents are the primary educators of their children. We are constantly reminded of this by Holy Mother Church. Pastors of souls have the obligation of ensuring that their flock are well-prepared, properly disposed, and ready to receive the sacraments. The Latin Rite Bishops in these USA mandated by decree on 21 August 2001, that the proper age for confirmation is “between the age of discretion and about sixteen years of age, within the limits determined by the diocesan bishop and with regard for the legitimate exceptions given in canon 891.”

So, the Bishops punted.

Rather than opting for a younger age, or an older age, the Bishops mandated somewhere between 7 and 16. Quite a wide berth. However, local bishops have the right to make additional specifications.

If one disagrees with one’s Bishop, who makes a decision about something which is within his purview to decide, what can one do?

St. Ignatius of Antioch has some advice:

“Your submission to your bishop, who is in the place of Jesus Christ, shows me that you are not living as men usually do but in the manner of Jesus himself, who died for us that you might escape death by belief in his death. Thus one thing is necessary, and you already observe it, that you do nothing without your bishop; indeed, be subject to the clergy as well, seeing in them the apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, for if we live in him we shall be found in him.”

In your case, I would write a letter to the bishop and plead for an exception to his decision. Offer to meet with him, not in a hostile way, but as a devoted child to a pastoral father.

If the bishop rejects the letter, rejects the offer to meet with him, stands firm on his decision (which, again, is his decision to make), one may still disagree with him.  However, in this antinomian age, obedience to our legitimately appointed shepherds in those things legitimately deputed to them, as difficult as it may often be, can be  a way of loving submission to Our God.

Mind you, obedience in those arenas where a bishop does not have legitimate authority is an entirely different kettle of fish.

I would not go to a chapel of the SSPX until they are fully reintegrated in a manifest way.

That said, I have on occasion also answered questions about going outside of one’s diocese for confirmation.  Can. 886 of the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church states,

“A bishop in his own diocese may lawfully administer the sacrament of confirmation even to the faithful who are not his subjects, unless there is an express prohibition by their own Ordinary.”

For example, last November here in Madison, the Bishop conferred the sacrament on many young people, some of whom were brought by their parents from many states away.  We will have confirmations again in December, I believe, and I expect the same will happen to a greater or lesser degree.  Of course, there was in the case of each confirmand a written verification with the pastor of his or her parish.  These things are not done in the dark, sneaking around.

Some people who find that their local bishop is not cooperative, could discover that the bishop of the neighboring diocese may be friendly and helpful.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ACTION ITEM!, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, SSPX | Tagged , , | 22 Comments