The popular pontificate of Pope Francis: two views

Auctores scinduntur… authors are divided on the pontificate of Pope Francis.

He is, undeniably, popular.  However, we read in The Week, based on Pew, that despite Francis’ marvelous showing in the polls, as high as 83% favorable, the view many people have of him isn’t changing how they live… yet, at least.

While a quarter of Catholics are more excited about their faith and 40 percent have been praying more often, the same 40 percent said they are going to mass each week (and some 42 percent at least once a year [That often?]) as before Francis was elected.

Here is a story from the German news agency, which presents comments from His Eminence Walter Card. Brandmüller on the aspect of papal popularity.

Kardinal Brandmüller: Begeisterung um Papst ist oberflächlich

Hamburg ( Emeritus German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller (85) does not think much of the enthusiasm for Pope Francis: “It is superficial. Were this a religious movement, the churches would be full, “the former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences said in an interview with the Hamburg magazine« History ».


Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the trend, if it can be called such.

Back to the Pew findings:

Pope Francis also seems to inspire hope that the Catholic Church will change on some major issues, Pew found, despite the pope’s suggestions otherwise. American Catholics, it turns out, are a fairly liberal bunch: 77 percent want the church to allow contraception, 73 percent support priests getting married, 68 percent support the ordination of women priests, and 50 percent want Rome to recognize same-sex marriages. Those numbers all drop slightly when Pew screened for weekly church attendance. Not that you’d want to take those numbers to the bank: Pew talked to a grand total of 351 Catholics for the survey — the size of a small parish.


I wonder what you readers are experiencing in your parishes.

Is Mass attendance up?  Are there things you could within reason attribute to a Francis bump?

Of course Mass attendance and other activities in a parish are one thing.  Deeper fidelity and conversion is another.  Those are harder to measure and this pontificate hasn’t been going on very long.

One thought: Do you have a sense that Catholics (where you are, at least) are more aware of themselves as Catholics and are, perhaps, therefore more united or more divided?  I ask this in light what seems to be a fact in the secular sphere, namely, that during the Obama Presidency in these USA racial relations seems to be even more tense than in decades.  Obama is figure of deep and increasing division, as it turns out.  Is Pope Francis?

Do remember Pope Francis in your daily prayers.

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Posted in Our Catholic Identity, Pope Francis, The Drill | Tagged , , , | 33 Comments

St. Monica: “put my body anywhere”

Here is an oldie post, appropriate for the day:

Today in newer, Ordinary Form calendar of the Holy Roman Church is the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo.  In the traditional calendar her feast was back in May.

This is the chapel in the church of St. Augustine in Rome where the mortal remains of St. Monica (+387), the mother of Augustine of Hippo now rest.

To the right is a shot of the chapel on the day some years ago when the bones of her son, St. Augustine, were brought from their resting place in Pavia (near Milan) to Rome.

How did St. Monica’s tomb wind up here? 

Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Inside the Vatican (December 2004) on the above mentioned event.  I used the alternate (and more accurate Punic) spelling of the saint’s name – “Monnica” (emphasis not in the original):

Most visitors to the Eternal City find it puzzling and wondrous that Monnica’s remains would be in Rome and even more so that Augustine’s should be in northern Italy, or that we have them at all.  How did this come to pass?  Monnica died at age 56 of a malarial fever at Ostia, Rome’s port city, not far from where modern Rome’s port, DaVinci airport, is situated.

After Augustine’s baptism in 386 by Milan’s bishop St. Ambrose (+ AD 397), Monnica and Augustine together with his brother Navigius, Adeodatus the future bishop’s son by his concubine of many years whom Monnica had forced Augustine to put aside, and friends Nebridius, Alypius and the former Imperial secret service agent (agens in rebus) Evodius were all waiting at Ostia to return home to Africa by ship.  They were stuck there for some time because the port was blockaded during a period of civil strife.

As she lay dying near Rome, Monnica told Augustine (conf. 9): “Lay this body anywhere, let not the care for it trouble you at all. This only I ask, that you will remember me at the Lord’s altar, wherever you be.”  She was buried there in Ostia.  In the 6th century she was moved to a little church named for St. Aurea, an early martyr of the city, and there she remained until 1430 when her remains were translated by Pope Martin V to the Roman Basilica of St. Augustine built in 1420 by the famous Guillaume Card. D’Estouteville of Rouen, then Camerlengo under Pope Sixtus IV.  As fate or God’s directing have would have it, in December 1945, some children were digging a hole in the courtyard of the little church of St. Aurea next to the ruins of ancient Ostia.  They wanted to put up a basketball hoop, probably having been taught the exciting new game – so different from soccer – by American GIs.  While digging they discovered the broken marble epitaph which had marked Monnica’s ancient grave.  Scholars were able to authenticate the inscription, the text of which had been preserved in a medieval manuscript.  The epitaph had been composed during Augustine’s lifetime by no less then a former Consul of AD 408 and resident at Ostia, Anicius Auchenius Bassus, perhaps Augustine’s host during their sojourn.

It is possible that Anicius Bassus placed the epitaph there after 410 which saw the ravages of Alaric the Visigoth and the sacking of Rome and its environs.  One can almost feel behind these traces of ancient evidence Augustine’s plea to his old friend sent by letter from the port of Hippo Regius over the waves to Ostia.

Hearing of the devastation to the area, far more shocking to the ancients than the events of 11 September were for us, did Augustine, now a renowned bishop, ask his old friend to tend the grave of the mother whom he had so loved and who in her time had wept for her son’s sins and rejoiced in his conversion?

Looking for a great book on Augustine?  Try this!

Meanwhile, in here is my relic of St. Monica.

May she pray for us, for widows and for parents of children who have drifted from the Church.

Be sure to pray for the departed.  Pray for them!  Don’t just remember them.  Don’t just think well of them.  Don’t just, as the case may be, resent or be angry at them.  Pray for them!  Prayer for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy.

Finally, I want to remind you of a newish book on Augustine

REVIEW: The book on Augustine which Pope Benedict would have wanted to write.

I had a note that when I posted this, the publishers at Oxford had to have a meeting to figure out what to do: your purchases outstripped their supplies.

Posted in Linking Back, Patristiblogging, Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

ASK FATHER: The priest’s Eucharistic fast in the Extraordinary Form

From a priest…


I mostly do the Extraordinary Form.

I saw in the De defectibus of 1962, it tells priest to fast 3 hours before communion, does that still hold with extra ordinary form Mass or does the hour fast work without offending God. (I know current norms say one hour but didn’t Pope Benedict use the logic of no altar girls for extraordinary form since we have to “use” the 1962 norms…?)

Given Universae Ecclesiae, I say no.  One hour before Communion suffices to fulfill the norm of the Eucharistic fast in the Extraordinary Form, as in the Ordinary Form.  It is commendable to do more, but the law says one hour before Communion (not before the beginning of Mass).

This is not really a matter that pertains to the rubrics for Mass, even though the moment of the priest’s Communion is described in the rubrics.  This pertains to reception of Holy Communion. That law has been changed for all the faithful, priest included.

Similarly, if a Latin Catholic were to receive Holy Communion at an Eastern Rite Liturgy, he would not be bound by that Eastern Church’s laws on fasting, but rather by the Latin law. This would even apply if he were a Latin priest attending or assisting at an Eastern Mass.

In my opinion, the Holy See and bishops of the world should have us return to a longer Eucharistic fast.  I say it should be at least three hours.  That would help, I think, the problem of many sacrilegious Communions.  It would also help to instill greater respect for all that is sacred and would strengthen our Catholic identity.  We need a strong… stronger… Catholic identity in the face of what is surely to come.

I had a POLL on this issue.  Keep in mind that the poll isn’t really about YOU.  It is about what would be good for the whole Body, the Church:

Under normal circumstances, should the Latin Church Eucharistic fast (for people who are obliged) before Communion be lengthened?

View Results

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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, POLLS, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, Universae Ecclesiae | Tagged , | 30 Comments

ACTION ITEM! Book from 5 Cardinals in defense of marriage and tradition – UPDATE

Click to PRE-ORDER

Since it has been released elsewhere also, I can at least reveal the names of the 5 Cardinals and other authors involved in the book:


Walter Brandmüller
Raymond Leo Burke
Carlo Caffarra
Velasio De Paolis, C.S.,
Gerhard Ludwig Müller


Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA
Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J.
Prof. John M. Rist
Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J.


ORIGINAL POST Jul 29, 2014

There is a book of great importance about to emerge.  It is available for PRE-ORDER at a substantial discount.  It will come out in October 2014, timed for the upcoming Synod of Bishops, which will tackle – inter alia – Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.


(Don’t hesitate, just click.  The UK link is coming soon, as is Kindle, I’m sure.)

I know quite a bit about this book, as it turns out.  The “five Cardinals” mentioned in the blurb, below, are going to please you when their names are revealed.  The other scholars involved are also top-notch.

The book will eventually be out in several languages.  It won’t be an easy read for some people, since a couple of the essays really drill into primary sources.  Do NOT let that discourage.  Punch above your weight, as they say.  You can do it.

YOUR TASK, however, is to pre-order this book NOW.  Make sure that Ignatius has a good response so they can have a big printing and wide distribution.

Here is the blurb:

In this volume five Cardinals of the Church, and four other scholars, respond to the call issued by Cardinal Walter Kasper for the Church to harmonize “fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people”.

Beginning with a concise introduction, the first part of the book is dedicated to the primary biblical texts pertaining to divorce and remarriage, and the second part is an examination of the teaching and practice prevalent in the early Church. In neither of these cases, biblical or patristic, do these scholars find support for the kind of “toleration” of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper. This book also examines the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as “mercy” implying “toleration”) in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the context of the vexed question of Eucharistic communion. It traces the centuries long history of Catholic resistance to this convention, revealing serious theological and canonical difficulties inherent in past and current Orthodox Church practice.

Thus, in the second part of the book, the authors argue in favor of retaining the theological and canonical rationale for the intrinsic connection between traditional Catholic doctrine and sacramental discipline concerning marriage and communion.

The various studies in this book lead to the conclusion that the Church’s longstanding fidelity to the truth of marriage constitutes the irrevocable foundation of its merciful and loving response to the individual who is civilly divorced and remarried. The book therefore challenges the premise that traditional Catholic doctrine and contemporary pastoral practice are in contradiction.  [Remember: Liberals will say to us who defend tradition that we are conducting a war on mercy.]

“Because it is the task of the apostolic ministry to ensure that the Church remains in the truth of Christ and to lead her ever more deeply into that truth, pastors must promote the sense of faith in all the faithful, examine and authoritatively judge the genuineness of its expressions and educate the faithful in an ever more mature evangelical discernment.”
- St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio

Start ordering.  Order and then order some more.  When this book comes out, we want a torrent of copies absolutely everywhere.  You can bet that those who want to overturn our teaching and practice will be as active as little termites, chewing away at our foundations.  Don’t let them.  Get good information into as many hands as possible.

Trust me.

Buy in UK HERE (coming soon)

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ACTION ITEM!, Be The Maquis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, New Evangelization, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, The Drill, ¡Vaya lío! | Tagged , , | 37 Comments

ASK FATHER: Meat when a feast falls on a Friday

From a reader:


I am a newly registered member of a parish [...] for whom the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is that of the principle patron. Hence, that should be 1st class (solemnity) for the archdiocese. In the traditional calendar, that feast falls on Friday, 22 August, but not, of course, in the new calendar.

My question, then, is this: do I observe this coming Friday [Sorry, this is a few days late!] as a patronal solemnity owing to my membership in a traditional personal parish in this specific diocese, or do I merely observe the feast liturgically, but orient the rest of my day towards the sense of penance that characterizes a Friday?

According the principle favorabilia amplianda – that favors are to be amplified (Regulae Iuris 15), I say that the Feast should have been celebrated on Friday 22 August, with ribs, steaks, and porkchops aplenty.  Or, given that you are in the south, I suppose also hog jowls, possum, etc.   I haven’t been to Atlanta.  Do you have your own style of BBQ there?  I digress.

Furthermore, we are permitted, under the present Code for the Latin Church, to substitute penances for abstinence on a Friday.

Keep in mind that in these USA Catholics are not obliged under the norms outlines by the conference of bishops to abstain from eating meat on Fridays.  Catholics in England and Wales are, however, and I am sure that they are much the happier for it.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

ASK FATHER: Hogging the confessional

From a reader:

I know you frequently encourage your readers to attend to making use of the confessional and I support you in your efforts! However, I have a question as to how you handle penitents who hog the confessional?

We are fortunate in our parish to have priests available to hear confession during mass and as we have a far flung parish, this is often to only opportunity some of our parishioners have to go to confession.

There are certain members of our parish, and to be honest most of them are women, who will routinely take 20 to 30 minutes in the confessional. It seems to me a sin against the virtue of charity for these folks to take so long in the box when there is a big line of people behind them who also need the use of the Sacrament. And if I happen to be one of them I find myself having to add an extra item to my list if you get my meaning.

So I’d like to know, if you can share, how do you handle these situations and is there anything I should say to our pastor about it?

I’d be careful about accusing others of sinning against charity in the confessional line.  You the risk of adding sin to your own sins and ending up like the Pharisee in the parable who thanks God he is not like other men.

That said, yes, it’s a problem when fellow penitents spend an inordinate amount of time in the confessional  (or the bathroom, or chatting with the checkout clerk at the grocery store) while folks behind are waiting with varying degrees of patience.

Father confessor, in the confessional, should do what he can to move things along.  I don’t say that Father should use cool or severe detachment – St. Alphonsus Liguori has already done that for me – but neither should he let penitents simply ramble aimlessly from one irrelevant point or repetition to another.  Even when he tries to keep things moving, sometimes the grace of the sacrament opens up an avenue of interior exploration and it is opportune to probe a bit further.

What is full solution to this problem? Who can say? An express line confessional (15 sins or less!)? A sign asking penitents with whoppers to call and set up an appointment? “Scrupulosity Saturday” once a month where those who feel the need to reconfess all their sins from childhood on can take up all the time they need, leaving the other three or four Saturdays for those who just need a sacramental touch-up?

Back in the day, or in places where more than one priest can be hearing confessions, people figure out which priests tend to be quicker.  Remember: it isn’t always the penitent who is slowing things down.

I recall one priest, in my native place, whom we nicknamed “Machine Gun Kelly”, because he was so fast.  You could confess fraud on a monumental scale, running prostitutes, acts of genocide and, BAM!, he would have you counseled, assigned a penance, shriven and out practically before you could draw your next breath.  Old Fr. Kelly, God rest him, is perhaps at one end of the spectrum, but everyone who really had things to get off their chests without lectures and rhapsodic mumblings that make your eyeballs roll back into your head could seek him out and make a fresh start.

Friends, examine your consciences BEFORE you get into the confessional.  Confess your SINS in kind and number.  Leave out all the vague expositions about how you feel that you are good person.  Just confess your sins.  It isn’t complicated, even though it can be hard.

Priests, would you please, for the love of all that holy, save your homilies for the pulpit? Be kind but brief and direct.  Don’t lose yourself, and the penitents, in an endless anabasis of syrupy musings about God’s love. Give a brief counsel, make sure there is nothing else that needs to be confessed, suggest a penance, invite the Act of Contrition and get on with absolution.  It isn’t complicated.

The confessional is a tribunal, not a coffee house.

Also, keep in mind that usually Father has no idea how many people are in line.  It can be of help at times to say, “Father, I was the last person in line when I got in…. Father, there are 7 people behind me.”  I, for one, am always glad to know.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests | Tagged , , | 74 Comments

My View For Awhile: Road Trip

I begin a too short road trip today.

First, stop – St. Paul, because I need a hair cut.  Actually, there is a meeting of my literary group.  We are, this time, reading Richard Wilbur.

Then, ….

I like driving trips.  I listen to audio books, or have my Kindle read books to me.  There is also sat radio and iHeartRadio via my phone.


Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | 5 Comments

Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point in the sermon you heard for this Sunday?

Let us know!

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 29 Comments

It’s always someone else…

… until it’s you.

We don’t know what problems will crop up.  We don’t know when “the big one” will happen.


Today an earthquake shook the Napa region north of San Francisco.  Yes, wine country.

I checked a seismological map to see where the epicenter was and compared it to where I was a few weeks ago for the Napa Institute conference.  The newsies say that it occurred in American Canyon, CA, which is about 6 miles south of Napa.

I figure the epicenter was about 3 miles to the southwest of where we had the conference.  I marked the spot with the red star.

I am sure that some of you will suggest that the earthquake happened because I was there. Disaster follow me, after all.  Cities burn in my wake like candles on my birthday cake.  Okay.  I’ll take the hit on this one, provided that you all


Posted in Global Killer Asteroid Questions, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments


A couple months ago, the mouth-breathing Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram had our attention by kidnapping school girls.

Then ISIS struck and stole the limelight.

Then Hamas stole even more market share by rocketing Israel.

But wait! Then ISIS got back in the game with crucifixions and the YouTubing of a beheading. And they proclaimed that they are now a Caliphate!

Now I read that the mouth-breathing Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram have proclaimed their own Caliphate.  In Borno, Nigeria.

I’m no shrink, but it looks to me like Boko Haram is suffering from ISIS-envy.

Posted in Blatteroons, Semper Paratus, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments