Levity, Severity, the Confessional and YOU!

At First Things there is a good piece about toughness when it comes to preaching and discipline and gentleness in mercy, especially with penitents in the confessional. It is hard for priests to find that balance out en plein air of the world. For the priest who is awake to his own standing before God, it is easier in the confessional.

The First Things piece starts with an anecdote about the great Chateaubriand:

Chateaubriand’s autobiography, Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb (US HERE – UK HERE), evokes a series of times and places as various as the author’s life. But there is one episode which, while conjuring up something of Brittany around 1780, also expresses a perennial reality.

The schoolboy Chateaubriand is being prepared for his first confession by a severe-looking priest, “a man of fifty with a stern appearance” (in Robert Baldick’s translation). Having read a frightening book about the eternal fate of those who hide their sins in the confessional, the young lad grows unbearably anxious. When the day comes, he is shaking with fear and scarcely able to stammer out his sins. Then the priest prepares to say the words of absolution.

If Heaven had shot a thunderbolt at me, it would have caused me less dread. I cried:
“I have not confessed everything!”
This awe-inspiring judge, this delegate of the Supreme Arbiter, whose face filled me with such fear, became the tenderest of shepherds. He clasped me in his arms and burst into tears.
“Come now, dear child,” he said, “Courage!”

It was, Chateaubriand recalled, an instant of supreme happiness, like a mountain lifting from him: “I shall never experience a like moment in the whole of my life.”

Of course, what Chateaubriand didn’t know is that later in the day, Inspectors Javert and Clouseau arrived and placed the priest under arrest for hugging a minor in the context of the internal forum, subsequently to be suspended without delay by Bishop Bouboule Culottesdebeurre and then prosecuted until his reputation was completely destroyed.

Seriously… as if those images weren’t serious enough… my point is, as we head into Holy Week…

… do NOT be afraid to confess everything, all mortal sins.   Go ahead and be a little nervous, but do NOT be afraid!  Father will treat you well.

Review my Tips For Making A Good Confession, which are always available in this blog.

Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession

We should…

1) …examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) …wait our turn in line patiently;
3) …come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) …speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) …state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) …confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) …listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) …confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) …carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) …use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) …never be afraid to say something “embarrassing”… just say it;
12) …never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) …never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) …never confess “tendencies” or “struggles”… just sins;
15) …never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) …memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) …answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) …ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) …keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) …remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

Also, for PRIESTS….

Fr. Z’s prayers for before and after hearing confessions

Fr. Z’s prayers for before and after making confessions


I hope you will be able to say each time you go…

“I shall never experience a like moment in the whole of my life.”

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Tucker Carlson’s series on plight of men in America, disastrous consequences for society

Last night Tucker Carlson had another segment on in his series about what’s going on with the situation of men in these USA. This is sobering stuff. We need a wide national dialogue about this. We need to talk about it in the Church as well, especially since there are horrid movements of world-conformed homosexualism going on.

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Posted in The Coming Storm, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 2 Comments

ASK FATHER: Effect of Sacrament of Anointing in someone in mortal sin

From a reader…


If a hospital patient that is able to confess still gets the sacrament of the sick does it just forgive venial sins or mortal ones too?

First, let’s be clear about something.   The sacrament of anointing is not to be given to just anyone.  There are conditions for reception of this sacrament.  I’m afraid it is poorly understood and sometimes abused.

The Sacrament of Anointing, is one the sacraments “of the living”, that is, they are to be received by one who is in the state of grace.

If a person is compos sui and can make his own decisions and understand what is going on, he must be given a chance to make his confession before being anointed.   Even if his communication is impeded, he should indicate by signs and respond to the priest’s questions.

If a person is not sui compos, cannot respond, and isn’t aware of what is going on, such a person can be anointed and, in that case, the sacrament can also impart forgiveness of mortal sins.

If a person in the state of mortal sin – who is able to confess and receive absolution – receives the sacrament of anointing, the sacrament will not be effective in them in the way Christ and the Church intend.   If a person is NOT able to confess, then the sacrament also forgives mortal sins so that the sacrament can be effective.

Also, it is good to review the law for the administration of this great sacrament:

Can.  1004 §1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.

This doesn’t say execution or about to engage in battle or some other activity like driving in a NASCAR race.

And there is the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1514 “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.”

Common points?  Danger of death… sick and old age.

One can be in danger of death for many reasons.  For example, someone who is about to undergo surgery requiring a general anesthesia could be in danger of death.  People about to be executed or go into battle are in danger of death. Those are not really occasions for the sacrament because they are external to the person.  Once damage is inflicted through a wound and danger of death is obvious, that’s another matter.  Of course some people who are in need of surgery are in danger of death from the condition that requires the surgery.  However, if I need to have surgery to set a bone from breaking my wrist, I’m am not in danger of death.


Danger of death… sick and old age.



You don’t know when it is going to be your turn.

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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, GO TO CONFESSION | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Really Bad Idea: sand in holy water fonts during Lent

I was made aware of this by a reader.   I happily endorse one idea one priest had while I entirely repudiate a bad old cliché from another.

Castleton symbol of Lent: sand in holy water fonts

Alas, the silly season drags on.

However, before getting into that, the same article had a good idea that a different priest promoted at a different parish:

In another unusual Lenten practice, Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Watervliet has been giving out its annual Lenten coins, a token to be carried by parishioners to remind them of Lent. [like challenge coins!] (Read a previous story at www.evangelist.org.) This year’s coins are embossed with John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.” The coins were purchased by the faith formation program. IHM also has a Lenten prayer banner on which parishioners can post the name of a person or intention they’re praying for this Lent.

Now back to the really bad idea at the other parish.  In that article:

Sacred Heart parish in Castleton [Diocese of Albany] is trying an unusual [dopey] method to help Catholics prepare for Easter Sunday: filling the church’s holy water fonts with sand.

“Christ spent 40 days in the desert tempted by the devil, and we spend 40 days [during Lent] on our own desert journey,” said Rev. Thomas Krupa, pastor. “The sand reminds us of the desert.”

The idea for placing sand in the fonts was borrowed from other local priests, Father Krupa explained. Around five years ago, at a Lenten reflection he was attending, priests from the Albany Diocese spoke about how they were trying the practice.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea,” Father Krupa recalled. “But then I forgot about it.” [Alas.]


It goes on to mention the flu outbreak. Yeah… right.

No Holy Water.  Sand.  This is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

I’ve written about this quite a few times over the years, for example HERE. It’s amazing that it still crops up. Here’s the deal:

I’ll rant for a bit later, but in the meantime someone put this question to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.  They responded.  Enjoy.

The emphases are mine:

Prot. N. 569/00/L

March 14, 2000

Dear Father:

This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.

[NB] This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.

2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The “fast” and “abstinence” which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).

Hoping that this resolves the question and with every good wish and kind regard, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Mons. Mario Marini [Later, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Deinow with God.]

Did you get the part where the Congregation said: “is not permitted”?

Holy water is a sacramental.

We get the powerful theology of its use in the older Roman Ritual in the prayers for exorcism of the water and salt used and then the blessing itself.  The rite of blessing holy water, in the older ritual, is powerful stuff.  It sounds odd, nearly foreign to our modern ears, especially after decades of being force fed Novus Ordo pabulum.

Holy Water is a power weapon of the spiritual life against the attacks of the devil.

I would ask these priests:

  • You do believe in the existence of the Enemy, … right?
  • You know you are a soldier and pilgrim in a dangerous world, … right?
  • So why… why… why would these liturgists and priests REMOVE a tool of spiritual warfare precisely during the season of LENT when we need it the most?

Holy water is a sacramental.

It is for our benefit.

It is not a toy, or something to be abstained from, like chocolate or television.

So, don’t stand for this nonsense.  If the Holy Water has been removed… clamor for its return!


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Posted in Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Author of The Dictator Pope suspended from the Order of Malta

According to the Catholic Herald the author of The Dictator Pope (pre-order 23 April – US HERE – UK HERE – more HERE) has been suspended from the Order of Malta and has disassociated itself from the book, describing it as a “vile attack” on Pope Francis.

“Following the press articles reporting the name of the author of the book “The Dictator Pope” the Grand Magistry of the Order of Malta has taken the decision to suspend Henry Sire, author of the book and member of the Order of Malta. The provisional suspension from membership has immediate effect and an investigation is being launched.”


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Posted in The Drill | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

LENTCAzT 2018 37 – Thursday – 5th Week of Lent, Passiontide: “The Easter problem is not….”

Today is Thursday in the 5th Week of Lent, Passiontide.  The Roman Station San Apollinare.

In gratitude especially to benefactors who help me and this blog, during Lent I’m once again offering 5 minute daily podcasts to encourage you in your own use of this holy season.

Fulton Sheen talks about understanding the mystery of the empty tomb.



If these podcasts are useful to you and yours, perhaps you might consider making a donation.

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Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

How bad was the Three Days of Darkness this year?

How bad was the Three Days of Darkness (3DD) this year?

It seems that the LA Religious Ed Conference hits new nadirs every year, and there is no end in sight.

Couple the heterodoxy, the teachings offensives to pious ears, the sentimentalist goop oozing with every bass-guitar throb together with what Card. Sarah rightly calls “demonic” gender ideology and you have a complete disaster.

Joseph Sciambra has posted a graphic that was used during the 3DD.  And he has the horrid details.

LA REC: Very young children should be allowed to transition from one gender to another

On March 16, 2018, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, during their annual Religious Education Congress, offered a workshop entitled “Transgender in Our Schools: One Bread, One Body.” The moderator was Arthur Fitzmaurice and the presenters included Shen Heckel, a female-to-male transsexual, Peggy Ehling, a Catholic mother whose daughter was born a biological female but identifies as male, and Bryan Massingale, a professor of Theology at Fordham University. Fitzmaurice is openly gay and currently (since 2010) serves as Resource Director for the dissident Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries (CALGM.)


What a nightmare.

Here’s the graphic.

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Posted in Pò sì jiù, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, You must be joking! | Tagged , , | 50 Comments

UPDATE – JUST TOO COOL! Battle Flag of LEPANTO reproduction available!

UPDATE 21 March:

The flag arrived!

Here is the solemn unboxing.

Some literature about the organization is included.

As you can see it is large and vibrant!

A close up, so you can see the fabrics.  It is synthetic, of course, and printed, but it is also tough!

The end is sown such that a poll can be inserted and it can be hung or carried.  To be flown, you would have to add grommets.

I am very pleased.   I want at least a dozen more so that they can be displayed down the nave of the chapel here, alternating with Vatican flags and Old Glory.

UPDATE 15 March:

From the people making the flags:

We have as of today, 73 orders, need another 27 to make it a reality. Thank you one and all. Thank you Father!

Okay, readers.  Get in touch with your inner crusader and get to it!


Originally Published on: Mar 1, 2018

I received this:

A group dedicated for the defense of persecuted Catholics around the globe (Ordo Militaris) has designed a faithful reproduction of the famous flag of Lepanto to
raise funds for their organization.


They have a vendor printing it in Europe currently, and have just found a new vendor to print it in the US for the first time.

*IF* they can secure 100 pre-orders, it will be available to anyone in the US in a doublesided, gold trimmed version for just $135 each.

Depicted on the Flag at the Foot of the Cross are the Heraldic Shields of King Philip II of Spain, Saint Pius V, the Republic of Venice, and Don Juan of Austria.

The actual flag will NOT have the white border.

I want one!

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Posted in ACTION ITEM!, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Just Too Cool, Our Catholic Identity, Si vis pacem para bellum! | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Fishwrap’s Wile E. Coyote v. @DouthatNYT and his new book for Pope Francis’ 5th anniversary

  • shocking, absolutely shocking
  • unhinged
  • lunatic fringe
  • unhelpful admixture of bias and ignorance
  • binary simplicity of his theological analysis
  • a 7-year-old’s paint-by-numbers drawing with the collection of the Louvre (followed by, incredibly, “I do not exaggerate”.)
  • Coarse and hoary!
  • myopic
  • unsourced
  • tendentious
  • grotesque
  • unbalanced
  • disgrace

This is a sample of terms used by Michael Sean Winters’ – the Wile E. Coyote of the catholic Left and junior member of the New catholic Red Guards – in his hysterical 3200+ word review of Ross Douthat and his new book, thus confirming it as sound and a good buy.


I say Douthat and his book, since Winters piece is mostly ad hominem invective.

In essence, Winters’ problem is that Douthat spoke with people whom Winters doesn’t like, never bothers to contact and talk to (whom he labels as “cranks”) and then – imagine! come to conclusions that don’t coincide with the Received Message Approved by the New catholic Red Guards.

Wile. E! Defender of Popes!

I almost laughed aloud when Winters accused former Fishwrap pillar John Allen as having anti-Francis bias. I guess Allen hasn’t applauded vigorously enough in the Great Hall of the Pueblo.

In any event, in his attack on Douthat’s sources – unfootnoted, named, etc. – Winters does the same thing of which he accuses Douthat.  “One synod father commented… Another synod father told me… I asked one of the synod fathers…”.  Slick, huh?

Winter even situates himself as the defender of Popes John Paul and Benedict against Douthat’s “slurs”. Yes, he used that word.

Just make popcorn and chuckle.  You can’t take any of this too seriously. It was as inevitable as birds flying south for the Winters.

There is, perhaps, a key to understanding why Wile E.’s ACME-fueled spittle is today flecking with such venom. He wrote:

Could it be that there is a kind of American Catholic, be it a political operative or a CEO, for whom it is important to keep conservative sexual norms as the touchstone of Catholic identity rather than, say, commitment to the poor?

Could it be that there is a kind of catholic Left operative who is angry because some defend “conservative sexual norms”?


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Posted in Liberals, Lighter fare | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

The Extraordinary Form “raises the bar”

At the National Catholic Register there is an interview with the head of Juventutem, Bertalan Kiss, about young people, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and how progressive they and it are.   He spoke with Ed Pentin in Rome during the pre-Synodal meetup with young people.

Among other things, Kiss said that for young people, the traditional Roman Rite “raises the bar”.  I was struck by that, because in essence it is what I argued HERE.

KISS: It raises the bar. I’ve asked myself what’s happening when I hear that a lot of young people are attracted to the extraordinary form. I usually get asked: “Yes, but young people are also attracted by the charismatics.” I say, well, thank God we have something that attracts young people. My experience is that it’s not just about the form, though that is important, but that it raises the bar, because when you’re not part of the mainstream, you don’t have the required infrastructure, and you have to work and have to really want it. If you really want the community to work and be alive, then you really have to work day by day to do it, so it raises the bar and this attracts young people.

PENTIN: It challenges them.

KISS: Yes, it’s a challenge, and you have to give challenges to young people. This concept of dumbing down or sugar coating everything in the hope that it will be more accessible to young people — I don’t see the fruits of that. If you raise the bar, there are only about 2 out of 10 people who will accept the challenge, but they really accept it and start working towards it. No matter what kind of community or liturgy they prefer, they really accept the challenge, then others will come. But you have to be patient. We are only planting the seeds but the growth is coming from God, so we have to patient. You shouldn’t push for anything. If it becomes a self-centered thing, it doesn’t leave space for the Holy Spirit to work.

Have a look at the whole piece over there.

¡Hagan lío!

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Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 7 Comments