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.

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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.


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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.


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Your Sunday Sermon Notes

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

Let us know!

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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


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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

WDTPRS 11th Sunday after Pentecost: what Christ does for us

With a minor variation this week’s Collect was in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.  It survived the cut to live on in the Novus Ordo Missale Romanum as the Collect on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuae et merita supplicum excedis et vota: effunde super nos misericordiam tuam; ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit, et adicias quod oratio non praesumit.

Our information oozing Lewis & Short Dictionary, says votum means “a solemn promise made to some deity; a vow.”  It is therefore also the thing promised or vowed.  In a more general sense it is a “wish, desire, longing, prayer.”

Supplex is an adjective, used also as a substantive, meaning “humbly begging or entreating; humble, submissive, beseeching, suppliant, supplicant.”  This and other derivative forms are commonly used in our Latin prayers; for example, now and again we see the adverbial form suppliciter.  I never get tired of this word.  As we have seen the L&S says supplex is from sup-plico, “bending the knees, kneeling down”.  The article on supplex in the French etymological dictionary of Latin by Alfred Ernout and Antoine Meillet offers that supplex comes not from plico but from plecto, “to plait, braid, interweave”.  E&M offers also the possibility that it is from placo, “to reconcile; to quiet, soothe, calm, assuage, appease, pacify”.   The former describes the physical attitude of the suppliant.  The latter describes his moral attitude.  The more probable plecto gives us much the same impact as plicoL&S also says plico and plecto are synonyms.  Thus, the imagery I have invoked in the past of the supplicant being bent over or folded in respect to his knees (i.e., kneeling or bent low toward the floor) works well.  Also, in the ancient world it was usual for the supplicant to wrap his arms around (plecto) the knees of the one from whom he was begging his petition.

Let’s keep drilling into supplex for a moment.   In many places during Holy Mass instead of abasing ourselves humbly before the Real Presence of Almighty God, we celebrate ourselves in remembrance of Jesus our non-judgmental buddy.  The concept of humility, inherent in supplex, was systematically expunged from translations of prayers, contemporary music in parishes, and (in churches now lacking kneelers) architecture.

One of the most “Catholic” of prayers, nearly eliminated after Vatican II, underscores an important dimension of healthy spirituality.  In the once familiar Dies irae, the haunting sequence of the Requiem Mass by the Franciscan friar Thomas of Celano (+ c.1270).  Sung amidst the inky vestments symbolizing our death to sin and the things of this world, in the Dies irae we contemplate our inevitable judgment by the Rex tremendae maiestatis… the King of fearful majesty, who is iustus Iudex, our just Judge.  In two of the verses we pray:

“Once the accursed have been confounded,
once they have been delivered to the stinging flames,
call me with the blessed.
(Knees) bent and leaning over (supplex et acclinis),
My heart worn down like ash, I pray:
Have a care for my end.”

The use of supplex in our Catholic prayers conveys an attitude of contrition for our sins which then shapes other more joyful and confident prayers.  This lowly attitude keeps in close view the reality of our sins, God’s promises of forgiveness, the ordinary means of their cleansing (confession) and thus the joyful comfort we have when we surrender to this merciful plan.

God takes our sins away, but only when we beg Him to.

We retain the memory of actual sins, but not their stain.  When we reduce ourselves to the ashes of humility and confess our sins we know those sins are not merely covered over; they are washed away clean.  Before modern times, soaps were made partly from ashes.  The Dies irae is not forbidden in Masses with the Novus Ordo, it simply is no longer obligatory.  The Church’s documentation on the use of sacred music establishes that suitable (i.e., truly sacred and truly artistic) pieces can be substituted into the Mass for the proper purpose and occasion.   Nothing is more suitable for Catholic piety than the use of the Dies irae.


Almighty and everlasting God, who in the abundance of Your goodness surpass both the merits and the prayerful vows of suppliants, pour forth Your mercy upon us, so that You set aside those things which our conscience fears, and apply what our prayer dares not.

That last line of the Collect is very consoling: adicias quod oratio non praesumit…add that which prayer does not dare… or rather … anticipate.  Praesumo also means “foresee” or do something “in advance”.  With our limited powers of discernment we cannot see or pray about every contingency we must face in life, but God knows them all.  He can mitigate our fears, both about the sins we remember as well as the things we worry over and can only guess at.

We should glance at what must be used on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Novus Ordo.  First, the bad old days.

your love for us
surpasses all our hopes and desires.
Forgive our failings,
keep us in your peace
and lead us in the way of salvation

I actually had to double-check to make sure I matched the correct Sunday in the respective editions of the Missal.


Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.

Try reading these versions, my literal version and the old ICEL’s, bit by bit, alternately: “Almighty and everlasting God” becomes “Father”; “abundance of Your goodness” is reduced to the nebulous ICEL catch-all “love”;  “the merits and the prayerful vows of suppliants” is banalized into “our hopes and desires”; “pour forth Your mercy upon us” becomes “Forgive our failings” (not even sins! … they’re just boo boos); “those things which our conscience fears” (our sins, the everlasting punishment of hell and having offended God) is render down to the amorphous “keep us in your peace”; and “what our prayer dares not” veers away from the misery of our true state into “lead us in the way of salvation”.

Some Collects we have encountered seem to refer to the Lord’s Prayer.  Perhaps this one does as well.  First, we have the word oratio.  In Latin the Lord’s Prayer is oratio dominica where dominica is an adjective, “lordly; of or pertaining to the Lord.”  In our Collect the “prayer”, oratio, is grammatically the subject of that last verb adicio.  After the Eucharistic Prayer the priest introduces the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer saying “audemus dicere…. we dare to say….” On our own we could never presume or dare to raise any petitions to the Father if the Son had not already enjoined them on us, given us permission, nay command, and made us members of His own mystical Person as coheirs.   A noble and even courtly style of speech our prayer helps us avoid being presumptuous.  The banal, humility-stripped style of the obsolete ICEL versions? Not so much.

In today’s Collect we must make a tricky translation choice.  In dimitto (used also in the Lord’s Prayer) we have “to send away; separate” and thus logically “to forgive”.  The verb ad(j)icio is “place a thing near; add as an increase, apply”.  It is hard to get the impact of this “spatial imagery” into English without circumlocutions.  We want to have sins and their lethal effects separated far away from us, but we want God’s favors and promises to stick to us.

Our Latin Collect gives us a model for an attitude of prayer.  We see the figure of one who is bowed down, folded, knees bent (supplex, – plico).  This suppliant is frightened by what the just Judge will apply to him because of the sins which bother his conscience.  This lowly beggar prays and prays, entwining (- plecto) his arms about the knees of his Lord.  He petitions the Almighty Father, merciful and good, to allay his fears by totally removing his damning sins and then supply him with whatever he dares not ask or does not even know he ought to beg for (non praesumit).  He simultaneously has the humility of the kneeling suppliant but also the boldness of sonship.  He can dare what is beyond his own ability because God the Father Himself made him His son through a mysterious adoption.  He is emboldened to ask many things of the Father with faith and confidence (cf. Mark 11:24 and 9:23).

The Gospel of Luke recounts (cf. ch. 11 and 18) three parables of Jesus about persistent, even audacious, prayer of petition.  When we pray with the right attitude, particularly during Holy Mass before the altar of sacrifice, turned in hope to the liturgical East with our mediator the priest, Christ makes up for what we are cannot do.  He takes our hearts, minds, voices, gestures and makes them his own so they may be raised to the merciful Father.

St. Augustine (+430) says that Jesus

“prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God.  Therefore, let us acknowledge our voice in Him and His in us” (en Ps 85, 1).

Holy Mass is all about what Christ does for us.

Mass is a sacred action in which God is the principal actor.  By our baptism we participate actively in His sacred action.  Christ is the Head, we the Body.  He takes our voices and makes them His own.  Our actions become His.  We must therefore never usurp the liturgy, change it around to suit our tastes.  With Christ’s own authority Holy Church gives us the Mass. She alone provides the proper prayers and rubrics.

When we pray as Holy Church directs, bending our will to hers, our earthly voices ring authentically with the celestial, and ecclesial, voice of the Risen Christ.

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How Churches (actually “ecclesial communities”) commit suicide

My friend Fr. Martin Fox of the blog Bonfire of the Vanities has a great post.

‘Gay marriage’ is church suicide

Give into the Zeitgeist? Not a plan of success:

Episcopal Church: -18% (2002-2012) [that "-" means "minus", as in "smaller by]“
United Church of Christ: -20% (2005-2012)
Presbyterian (USA): -22% (2006-2012)
Evangelical Lutheran -12% (2009-2012)

Of course, the declines are likely explained by many other factors; many, if not all, these denominations were already on a downward trajectory, as their liberalizing trends didn’t begin with endorsing a redefinition of marriage.

What’s more, Catholics and others committed to an orthodox understanding of morality and marriage in particular should not take comfort too easily. When our Lord walked the earth, people walked away from him because of things he taught, and in the end, the crowd chanted “crucify him” instead of “my Lord and my God.” So we should not expect to be popular when we offer the Lord’s message.

But embracing an “evolution” of marriage didn’t help, and almost certainly accelerated the decline.


There is a little bit more over there, references you will find helpful. So… go look already!

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

WDTPRS 21st Ordinary Sunday: the smoke of Satan v. invisible love

Let’s look at the Collect for the upcoming 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time:

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis, da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis, ut, inter mundanas varietates, ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.

A master crafted this prayer.  In the 1962 Missale Romanum we use it on the 4th Sunday after Easter. It is also in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.  Listen to those “eee”s produced by the Latin “i”. Savor those parallels.

Varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”  It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy.”  I like “vicissitude”.  The adjective mundanus is “of or belonging to the world”.


O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command, to desire that which You promise, so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.


O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.

Let us revisit that id…quod. We can accurately say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but that strikes me as vague.  Can we be more concrete and say “love the thing you command… desire the thing you promise”?

We are called to love and desire God’s will in concrete situations, in the details of life, especially when those details are little to our liking.  We must love God in this beggar, this annoying creep, not in beggars and creeps in general.  We must love Him in this act of fasting, this basket of laundry, this ICEL translation. I said it was a challenge!  We must not reduce God’s will to an abstraction or an ideal. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven”… or so it has been said.

Lest we forget why we needed new translation….


Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart.

Good riddance!  “Values”.  Very slippery.  Typical of the obsolete translation.

To my ear, “values” has a shifting, subjective starting point. In 1995 Gertude Himmelfarb wrote in The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values that “it was not until the present century that morality became so thoroughly relativized that virtues ceased to be ‘virtues’ and became ‘values.’”

In this post-Christian, post-modern world, “values” seems to indicate little more than our own self-projection.

John Paul II taught about “values”, but in contradiction to the way “values” are commonly understood today.  For example, we read in Evangelium vitae 71 (emphasis added):

“It is urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority, and no state can ever create, modify, or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect, and promote.”

In his 1985 letter to young people Dilecti amici 4, John Paul II taught:

“Only God is the ultimate basis of all values…. in Him and Him alone all values have their first source and final completion… Without Him – without the reference to God – the whole world of created values remains as it were suspended in an absolute vacuum.”

Benedict XVI has spoken about the threats we face from the “dictatorship of relativism”, from the reduction of the supernatural to the natural, from caving in to “the world”.

Christ warned His Apostles about “the world”, saying said: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).  He spoke about this world’s “prince” (John 12:31; 14:30 16:11).  St Paul wrote: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

If what “the world” offers gets priority over what God offers the world through His Holy Church, we produce the situation Paul VI described on 29 June 1972, the ninth anniversary of his coronation:

“Through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God.”

Our Collect today asks God to grant that His will be the basis of our “values” in concrete terms, not in mere good intentions or this world’s snares.

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NYC – What’s up at Our Saviour Church where Fr. Rutler used to be pastor?

I have received word that some demolition is going on at the church where Fr. George Rutler used to be pastor, Our Saviour.

As you may know, Fr. Rutler was – in a move that surprised many – transferred not too long ago from Our Saviour on Park Avenue to St. Michael’s in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and was also made administrator of Holy Innocents in the Garment District.

In any event, I am told that the new pastor at Our Saviour, Fr. Robbins, removing iconic artwork from the sanctuary.

I was told at one point that the altar rail was slated for demolition.  However, as one person clarified for me, the workman only cleaned it.  When people had seen workmen concerning themselves with the rail they protested to the Archdiocese. Fr. Robbins thereafter said that it was not ever his intention for it to be removed.  Or so it goes.

This is what Our Savior looked like before:

And this is what it looks like today… I really do mean today, literally:

Look.  I understand that each pastor of a parish wants to be able to make adjustments, even improvements.  But I don’t get this.

Is it that he wants to restore the church to what it looked like before the Eastern style art was introduced?  I suppose there is some sense in that sort of project, returning a building to the original intent.  The artwork, added by Fr. Rutler, can only have been in place for about a dozen years, max, since that was the length of his term.  I doubt that that is what is going on here.

I suspect this is ideological, and not restoration at all.

It looks like a modern example of iconoclasm.

If the iconic work that frames the sanctuary has been effaced, how long can the work around the triumphal arch and in the tympanum of the apse survive?

What’s going on there?  Is this “Get Rutler!” time in NYC?  Deface Rutler’s work at Our Saviour? Slate St. Michael’s and Holy Innocents for closure a year after he arrives?  By next year he’ll be pastor of a cardboard box over a grate near the Hudson.


More about the artist who painted the icons, Ken Woo.  HERE He seems to be pretty well known.

It would be nice to see some photos of the place from the 1950′s when it was built, and then into the 60′s, 70′s etc. to see the changes.

Posted in Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, The Drill, You must be joking! | Tagged , , , | 64 Comments