WDTPRS: 4th Sunday after Easter (1962MR) – “values”, and the smoke of Satan

This is the 4th Sunday after Easter according to the older, traditional Roman calendar.

Today’s Collect survived the slash and hack editors of the Novus Ordo.  Find it for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time as well as Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter.  That is… of Easter.  In the post-Conciliar calendar Sundays are reckoned “of Easter”. In the pre-Conciliar calendar they are “after Easter”.  In the newer calendar Easter Sunday itself is included in the reckoning of Sundays of the Easter season.  In the older calendar Sundays are counted from the first Sunday after Easter.  So, in the new calendar today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter and in the older it is the Fourth Sunday after Easter.

However, today’s Collect is in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary for the Third Sunday after the close of Easter!  Our more distant ancestors counted Easter Sunday, the days of the Octave, and “Low” Sunday in albis as being one single liturgical idea, one day, as if the clock stopped for that whole Octave.  Thus, what is the Fifth Sunday of  Easter (2002MR) and the Fourth Sunday after Easter (1962MR) is also the Third Sunday after the close of Easter (GelSacr). Is it clear now?

– (1962MR):
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.

The Novus Ordo version adds commas “ …ut, inter mundanas varietates,…”  All those long eeee sounds produced by the Latin letter “i” are marvelous to hear and sing. Note the nice parallels in the construction: id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis as well as ibi…sint corda with ubi…sunt gaudia.  In the first line the genitives unius…voluntatis are elegantly split by the verb efficis.  A genius wrote this prayer.  Let’s find out what it really says.

The densely packed leaves of your own copy of the thick Lewis & Short Dictionary show that varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”  It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy”; “vicissitude” hits it square and sounds wonderful to boot.  The adjective mundanus, a, um, “of or belonging to the world”, must be teased out in a paraphrase.  Efficio (formed from facio) means, “to make out, work out; hence, to bring to pass, to effect, execute, complete, accomplish, make, form”.   Voluntas means basically “will” but it can also mean things like “freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination” and even “disposition towards a thing or person”.

O God, You 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.

Let us revisit that id…quod construction. We could simply say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but to me that seems vague and generic.  Of course, we must love everything God commands, but the feeling I get from that id…quod is very concrete.  We love and desire God’s will in the concrete situation, this concrete task.  A challenge of living as a good Christian in “the world” is to love God in the details of life, especially when those details are little to our liking.  We must love him in this beggar, this annoying creep, not in beggars or creeps in general.  We must love him in this act of fasting, not in fasting in general.  This basket of laundry, this paperwork, this obsolete ICEL translation…. Didn’t I say it was a challenge?  God’s will must not be reduced to something abstract, as if it is merely a “heavenly” or “ideal” reality. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

What did the Anglican Church do with this back in the day?

1662 Book of Common Prayer (Fifth Sunday in Lent):
O almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men:
Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest,
and desire that which thou dost promise,
that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found.

You have to love that!  I often wonder why the original incarnation of ICEL didn’t use the Book of Common Prayer as a model.  But… right… first the redactors of the Novus Ordo cut certain unpleasantries, such as guilt and sin, out of the Latin original and then the people working for ICEL cut out all the rest of the meaningful concepts.

When you slaughter a critter, first you bang it on the head, then you tear its guts out, and afterwards hang upside down to drain out all its blood.  So what did the pre-reformed ICEL do to this prayer?  What will people hear at Holy Mass with the Novus Ordo on Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter?

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.

This version makes me want to scream.

Note the theological catch-all word “help”, a technical term in obsolete ICELese and rather Pelagian.  Does “help us” underscore our total reliance on God?  He does a bit more than “help”.  What did ICEL did to God’s “commands”?  Presto-chango they are now “values”.  And did no one in ICEL or in Rome, where blame for this translation disaster must also be ascribed, see a theological problem with “lasting joy in this changing world”?  The Latin says the world is “fickle” (mundanas varietates).  We cannot have “lasting” joy in this world.  It can be attained only in the life to come.

More about the slippery word “values”.  We should make a distinction between values and virtues.  To my mind, values have an ever shifting subjective starting point while virtues are rooted in something objective.  In 1995 Gertude Himmelfarb wrote in The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values: “it was not until the present century that morality became so thoroughly relativized that virtues ceased to be ‘virtues’ and became ‘values.’”  Rem acu tetigit!   In this post-Christian, post-modern world the term “values” seems to indicate little more than our own self-projection.  I suspect this is at work in the obsolete ICEL prayer with its “help us” and the excision of God’s commands and promises.

We should be on guard about that word “values”, in this time of growing conflict between what the Church embraces and worldly relativism.  Can “values” be rescued, used properly? Perhaps. John Paul II used it in Evangelium vitae, but in a concrete way.

Benedict XVI constantly presented us with the threats we face from both religious and secular relativism, the reduction of the supernatural to the natural, caving in to “the world”, that which shifts constantly, is subjective.

Holy Scripture also warns us about “the world” which has its Prince.

The Enemy still dominates this world until Christ the King will come again.   St. Paul wrote to the Romans: “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” (12:2 – RSV).  Christ put His Apostles on guard about “the world”: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).

When what “the world” has to give is given preeminence over what God has to give through His Church, we wind up in the crisis Pope Paul VI described on the ninth anniversary of his coronation (29 June 1972):

“…da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio… through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God”.

Today’s Collect, in both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, is a spiritual safeguard in the vicissitudes of this world.

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (91% score)
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Krauthammer on “Wolf Hall”

I have seen the whole series Wolf Hall via BBC.

I entirely agree with Charles Krauthammer at WaPo:

“Wolf Hall,” the Man Booker Prize-winning historical novel about the court of Henry VIII — and most dramatically, the conflict between Thomas Cromwell and Sir Thomas More — is now a TV series (presented on PBS). It is maddeningly good.

Maddening because its history is tendentiously distorted, yet the drama is so brilliantly conceived and executed that you almost don’t care. Faced with an imaginative creation of such brooding, gripping, mordant intensity, you find yourself ready to pay for it in historical inaccuracy.

And “Wolf Hall’s” revisionism is breathtaking. It inverts the conventional view of the saintly More being undone by the corrupt, amoral, serpentine Cromwell, the king’s chief minister. This is fiction as polemic. Author Hilary Mantel, an ex- and anti-Catholic (“the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people”), has set out to rehabilitate Cromwell and defenestrate More, most especially the More of Robert Bolt’s beautiful and hagiographic “A Man for All Seasons.”

Who’s right? Neither fully, though “Wolf Hall’s” depiction of More as little more than a cruel heretic-burning hypocrite is particularly provocative, if not perverse. To be sure, More worship is somewhat overdrawn, as even the late Cardinal Francis George warned at a 2012 convocation of bishops.More had his flaws. He may have been a man for all seasons, but he was also a man of his times. And in those times of merciless contention between Rome and the Reformation, the pursuit and savage persecution of heresy were the norm.

Indeed, when Cromwell achieved power, he persecuted Catholics with a zeal and thoroughness that surpassed even More’s persecution of Protestants. “Wolf Hall’s” depiction of Cromwell as a man of great sensitivity and deep feeling is, therefore, even harder to credit. He was cruel and cunning, quite monstrous both in pursuit of personal power and wealth, and in serving the whims and wishes of his royal master.


Read the rest there.

And, let it be said, Henry VIII was a monster.


17 votes, 4.24 avg. rating (84% score)
Posted in Biased Media Coverage, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

ASK FATHER: Commentator during Mass

Howard CosellFrom a reader…


Our local Ordinary Form parish has started having “teaching” Masses on Sunday. They have a lector explain everything as it is happening during the Mass. As a catechist I know people need to learn about the Mass; however…It is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! Is there any Church document or canon law permitting, directing or forbidding such things? I am concerned for this parish has a long history of liturgical abuses, among other unorthodox activities. Thank you in advance for your help Father Zuhlsdorf.
God bless you.

It is a laudable goal to teach people about what happens during the Holy Mass.

Yet, … one has to wonder if doing the teaching during the Mass is the best way to do so.

By way of an analogy, what would be the benefit to having a lecturer on stage during a performance of Macbeth (errrr, “the Scottish Play”) explaining, “Here’s where Malcolm’s men cut down Birnam forest to use as cover as they marched up Dunsinane hill against Macbeth, fulfilling the prophecy of the third apparition in Act 4, Scene 1.”

Having a bit of an explanation before Mass, and being available after Mass if folks have questions would be a more didactically appropriate way of teaching about Holy Mass than mucking up the liturgy itself with sidebars and running commentary.  I believe that is what Romano Guardini did for his flock and those little pre-Mass lessons became a book.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal does make provision for a commentator, stating (in art. 105),

“The commentator, who, if appropriate, provides the faithful briefly with explanations and exhortations so as to direct their attention to the celebration and ensure that they are better disposed for understanding it. The commentator’s remarks should be thoroughly prepared and notable for their restraint. In performing this function the commentator stands in a suitable place within sight of the faithful, but not at the ambo.”

So, the commentator, if needed, is to make brief clarifying statements.  I think they should mostly be of an informational nature, e.g. “Today’s second collection is being taken up for the heating fund.” or “Please silence your cell phones before Holy Mass begins.” or “This being the Solemnity of the Annunciation, all are asked to kneel when the choir sings the ‘Et Incarnatus‘ during the Creed.”

I sincerely doubt the Legislator envisioned the commentator being a sort of Howard Cosell/Pat Summerall dyad (“Father’s wearing a green chasuble today, looks like we’ve entered Ordinary Time again.” “Interesting point, Howard, ‘ordinary’ time isn’t meant to mean common time or normal time, but rather the weeks that are counted, or ordered…” I did that once for the TV broadcast of a magnificent Pontifical Mass at the Shrine in Washington DC, but we were not in the sanctuary or audible in the Basilica!

I might make an exception for Vin Scully.

Nor would Shinichiro Ohta and Kenji Fukui of Iron Chef be a good model for the commentator, as entertaining as the thought might be.  Get your imaginations around that!

If this parish has a history of liturgical abuse and unorthodox activity, the best course of action may be to take one’s worship (and checkbook) elsewhere.

19 votes, 3.53 avg. rating (71% score)
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ASK FATHER: Eastern Catholic Priest or Deacon as Deacon for Traditional Latin Mass?

From an Eastern Deacon…


Can an Eastern Catholic Priest or Deacon serve as Deacon for the Latin Mass?

Why… YES!

As a matter of fact, I have dealt with this before, concerning the Eastern Subdeacon, but the law applies to priests and deacons.

Perhaps some of you will remember the…

An Eastern Subdeacon for a Roman Solemn Mass? A Clerical Bedtime Story.

From a reader:

I have a friend who is a Eastern Catholic subdeacon, officially installed in his own rite. [installed?] Would it be possible for him to serve a subdeacon during a Latin Extraordinary Form Solemn high Mass? And if so, which vestments would he wear, his own eastern vestments or the Tunicle?

The Latin Church has its Code of Canon Law and the Eastern Churches have their Code.  For this, we have to consult also the Eastern Code.

Can. 701 of the Eastern Code says:

“For a just cause and with the permission of the eparchial bishop, [like the diocesan bishop in the Latin Church] bishops and presbyters of different Churches sui iuris can concelebrate, especially to foster love and to manifest the unity of the Churches. All follow the prescripts of the liturgical books of the principal celebrant, avoiding any liturgical syncretism whatever, and preferably with all wearing the liturgical vestments and insignia of their own Church sui iuris.

This canon does not mention deacons or subdeacons. However, can. 1501 of the Eastern Code (parallel to can. 19 of the Latin Code) says:

“If an express prescript of law is lacking in a certain matter, a case, unless it is penal, must be resolved according to the canons of the synods and the holy fathers, legitimate custom, the general principles of canon law applied with equity, ecclesiastical jurisprudence and the common and constant canonical doctrine,”…

… and can. 1499 (parallel to can. 17) says, in part,

“If the meaning remains doubtful and obscure, they [laws] must be understood according to parallel passages, if there are such, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator.”

Let’s pull this all together.

An Eastern subdeacon (who is ordained, not just installed – the Eastern Churches continue to ordain men to the subdiaconate – just WE LATINS SHOULD BE DOING!!) can serve as a subdeacon at Latin Rite Mass, as long as his bishop/eparch permits.

Said subdeacon would follow the rubrics of the Roman Missal, but he would ideally wear the vestments proper to his own Church.

So, to illustrate, ….

nce upon a time …

…in the Diocese of Black Duck at St. Fidelia in Tall Tree Circle, Father the Parish Priest, Guido Schmitz, was blessed with a visit by his 2nd cousin Subdeacon Grigori of the Eparchy of St. Theophan the Recluse.  Father 1st Assistant, upon meeting the Subdeacon, quoth, “We have a real subdeacon! Let’s have a Solemn Mass on Sunday!  Sven can be Deacon.”  Reverend Mister Sven Martínez was a not-quite-elderly Permanent Deacon around the place, rare in his permanent diaconal ministry as an expert in all matters liturgic.

Everyone deemed this a winning plan.

And so they gathered around the black bakelite telephone in the pastor’s office and called Subdeacon Gigori’s’s Eparch.

The Eparch, who answered his own phone, was delighted at this opportunity to foster unity between both lungs of the Church.  He, though not a Latin himself, sought every opportunity to underscore that he understood the mens of the Lawgiver in Summorum Pontificum, that the Roman Rite had its great liturgical tradition that rivalled his own.  He knew that Pope Francis had clearly affirmed Benedict’s provisions in TBI™, and that the Supreme Pontiff also had been involved with Eastern Churches in S. America.  Consequently, the Eparch concluded swiftly that it was both pleasing and opportune to deign to grant to the Reverend Subdeacon his Permission.

He added, with not-quite-mock menance, the stern admonishment to “Say The Roman Black and Do The Roman Red!”

Even as they were sharing their goodbyes and protestations of good will, the fax machine spit out the Eparch’s perfectly legible chirograph.  (The Eparch followed up with letters to both the Subdeacon and the parish priest.)

Subdeacon Grigori happened to have all his proper vestments with him.  They had a couple walk-throughs and – badda bing badda boom – ecce Sunday Solemn Mass.

And so it was that that happy Sunday with the Solelmn Mass and the real Eastern Subdeacon, became a matter of fond recollection and anecdotes.

Later in the year, Subdeacon Grigori returned for another visit!  The first stay at St. Fidelia had been so very agreeable both for its liturgical excellence in the Roman Rite – a new experience for the Subdeacon, if you get my drift – and because of the priestly fraternity that he knew was sure to follow the Sacred Synaxis.

This time, however, Subdeacon Grigori was without his own proper Eastern vestments!  They were were in the bag lost by the airline.  “Haudquaquam mihi molestum’st“, quoth he, in his best effort to fit in with his Latin hosts, “Let us be flexible.”

When it came time for the Solemn Mass, our Subdeacon vested contentedly as a Roman subdeacon, this being the only commonsensical course to pursue.  The music for the Ordinary was the Mass by Stravinsky, in honor of their Western/Eastern, modern/traditional liturgical nexus.

Subdeacon Grigori, as before, flawlessly carried out his subdiaconal ministry according to the Roman Red and Black, not a syllable lacking or gesture out of place.  He even used the thurible in the Roman manner, though afterwards he showed the altar boys how they used it in his Church.

Having decorously mactated the Victim, the clerics went to the Church hall for coffee and doughnuts with the folks. Subdeacon Grigori gave the parishioners a presentation about the differences between Roman and Byzantine liturgy.

Once the pastoral duties were complete, including a baptism and a Churching, the clerics went off together, parish priest, Fathers assistant, and Subdeacon, to St. Ipsidipsy over in the next county.  St. Ipsidipsy was, of course, the infamous parish entrusted to their mutual friend, Msgr. Zuhlsdorf (hey… fiction is the only way I’ll make Monsignor…).  In Monsignor’s rectory they had a light lunch.  Since they were way out in the wilderness, they then repaired, as was their wont, to Monsignor’s private outdoor firing range near the satellite dish arrays, backup generators, CPU cooling tower, bocce ball courts, and various antennae.

Having prayed to St. Gabriel Possenti and their Guardian Angels for steady hands and safety, they proceeded to put thousands of rounds through a variety of handguns. AR-15s with high-capacity magazines were not lacking. A Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle was fired with great effect.

They all agreed with Grigori’s observation that the glint of sunlight off the shower of casings falling to the ground about their feet was not unlike the sparkle of sun in the Holy Water during that morning’s Asperges.

The only dark note in the afternoon came when Father 2nd Assistant’s Sig Sauer P220 jammed from an errant round of .40 cal that had mysteriously made its way into the .45 ACP ammo can. They consulted, set the Sig apart for closer inspection, and Father continued with his Beretta (… what else?).

Every story has its low point, and they had had theirs. It was a grave moment of concern, but their natural, hard-wired conservative, nay rather, even traditional Catholic cheerfulness overcame even that hitch in their afternoon.

Once all the paper was conclusively dead and all the metal targets had been sufficiently rung and spun, they invoked St. Joseph, Defender of the Church and Mary, Queen of the Clergy and sought out the humble church of St. Ipsidipsy where they sanctified their Sunday through Exposition, Vespers (sung antiphonally), and Benediction.

The scent of spent gunpowder mingled with the incense as together they wafted through the waning sunlight from the windows, their ears ringing merrily from both the .50 cal. and the Sanctus bells.

The conclusive clank of the tabernacle’s door sent them back to the rectory to clean their weapons over Campari sodas and then to enjoy homemade Buccatini all’amatriciana, steaks, salad, bottles of Barolo, which Monsignor had prudently opened before even the first round of .45 ACP had been fired.  They tucked in, reviewing news from the blogs, sharing the usual informations priests are privy to – amusing and dire – about diocesan and parish matters, chuckling for a while over a story in the Fishwrap and by turns glowering over the liberals’ continued misinformation campaigns, reviving anecdotes from seminary and past assignments all while not forgetting to proffer current tips on the best places to buy ammo.

The designated driver had been chosen by lot back at St. Fidelia’s (it fell to Father 2nd Assistant, who was therefore to be exempted for the next couple weeks), and so they brought out the cigars, the Warres ’77, the Hennesey XO and the Lagavulin 16.  Unicuique suum, after all, which happened also to be the motto on the coat of arms of Father 3rd Assistant.

His actis sumptisque omnibus, waving goodbye to Monsignor Z, they hitched up their cassocks, piled into the Father Pastor’s spacious new Volkswagen Phaeton, and sped down the road.

And so they came back to St. Fidelia’s, tired but happy.


*I think I got that right.   It’s been a while since I’ve used ancient Greek actively.

8 votes, 4.25 avg. rating (84% score)
Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Classic Posts, Linking Back, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

CQ CQ CQ – Ham Radio Saturday – Annuntio vobis gaudium!

This morning I took my General Class license examination.

I passed with a perfect score (as I did for my Tech exam).

Now it is on to the Extra Class exam!

The study books, by the way, were sent by you readers from my wishlist. Thank you, again! You helped me and I am grateful.

The VEs running the exam session were as nice as can be. One had brought some sweet rolls in honor of his 250th exam session. He also invited me to join their square dancing club.

So, I can operate on the General bands if I wish, but I will have to add “AG” as a suffix to me call until my status changes in the FCC database.

I had received by email a note from an American prelate that he, too, is working on the General.  Go team, go!

To Fr. B – I put that Baofung on the wishlist, as you instructed last week. HERE

So… now for some Echolink stuff (which I’ve mentioned before  HERE). I’ll turn on my Echolink program on my desktop here in the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue.



I remembered that our own WB0YLE had set up an Echolink node for us, so I found it. Hey! It’s a step, right?




I had my first RF contact this afternoon via Echolink.  Thanks to WB0YLE for the help with the Echolink stuff.   Very cool.   He has made his node available to all of us.  There is space for 20 hams!  Node: 554286 WB0YLE-R



9 votes, 3.78 avg. rating (76% score)
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Sign up for ‘Summorum Pontificum’ Pilgrimage to Rome with Fr. Z (19-29 October)


I want to bring to your attention the upcoming annual Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome 19-29 October.   It is handled by Orbis Catholicus and my friend John Sonnen.  I will be going.


The signup deadline is, I think, 1 July.

I was with the pilgrimage last year and things went pretty well.  I am pretty sure they will be even better this year.

This pilgrimage will coincide with the 4th Annual “Populus Summorum Pontificum” events. (See graphic below.)

This year, instead of going to Orvieto for a day trip we are going to go to Norcia!  (Hint: Benedictines, sausage and the best BEER I’ve ever had – and they have a new chant CD HERE)

BTW.. it was in the context of last year’s trip that, during the visit to the Swiss Guards’ barracks, I started planning the Breastplate Project.  I suspect that we will be very warmly received by them this year.

Also, we attended a Pontifical Mass with Card. Burke in St. Peter’s Basilica after the procession through the streets of Rome.  I believe he will be the celebrant again this year.


23 votes, 3.35 avg. rating (67% score)
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ASK FATHER: Can non-Catholics go to confession?

From a reader…


My mother is a non-Catholic who sometimes attends mass with me (a convert). She has considered entering the Church (her mother–as a side note–became a Catholic in her late 80’s, with me as her sponsor.) A good friend of mine, who regularly interviews priests for television spots, told me that she can go to Confession, as a baptized Christian, as long as she believes in the efficacy of it. Is this true?

We are touching on the sacraments, something we take very seriously and treat with the utmost of respect.

Also, let’s be clear about something.  Any non-Catholic can make their confession to a Catholic priest, that is, unburden herself, talk about her sins, etc.  Father would treat her well and with compassion.  However, it would not be a sacramental confession, in that Father wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t give sacramental absolution to her, a non-Catholic, except under a quite narrow range set of circumstances.

We must refer to canon 844 of the Code of Canon Law.   Everyone… please reach for your handy dog-eared reference copy of the Code….

Can. 844 covers exceptional circumstances when Catholics can receive the sacraments of Penance, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick from non-Catholic (but validly ordained) priests, as well as those exceptional circumstances when non-Catholics can receive those three sacraments in the Catholic Church.

Note well the important word “exceptional”.

Can. 844, states in paragraph 4:

“If there is a danger of death or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or of the Bishops’ Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, Catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the Catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

First situation: danger of death. Here the priest makes the determination. If a priest approaches a car accident where a man is dying and the priest asks if he can be of any assistance, and the man says, “Father, I’m a Lutheran, but I know I’m dying and I want to meet my Lord with a clear conscience. Could you hear my confession?” The priest could determine that, yes, the conditions warrant him hearing the confession of this Lutheran.

Next: outside the danger of death. Notice who makes the determination: not the priest, but either the diocesan bishop, or the whole Bishops’ Conference. If there were a general persecution of Norwegian Lutherans in my native Minnesota, and all their ministers were being rounded up and sent to the state pen in Stillwater or St. Cloud, the diocesan bishops could determine that this exceptional situation warrants exceptional action. He could permit his priests to absolve, communicate, and anoint Norwegian Lutherans who come to them, provided these Lutherans “demonstrate the Catholic faith in respect of these sacraments.”

Granted, who knows if this theoretical situation is even possible. Were a Lutheran to demonstrates Catholic faith regarding the the Eucharist, for example, it follows that that Lutheran should become a Catholic.  I did.  Also, Lutherans believe in only two “sacraments”, Baptism and their eucharist.  (Their Baptism is valid, their eucharist is not.) Even though they have penance rites, one of which can involve individual confession of sins, they don’t believe that what takes places is a sacrament.  So… this former Lutheran, now Catholic priest, observes that it would be special Lutheran who wanted sacramental confession from a Catholic priest.

I suppose however, that lots of Lutherans today are as confused about what Lutherans believe as Catholics are about what Catholics believe.

Bottom line: in situations where there is not danger of death, it is not up to us – even to the priest – to determine if the conditions are met for these exceptional cases.  The bishop decides!  If there is time to consult the bishop, consult the bishop!

Keep praying for your mother-in-law.  Tell her that if she really wants to go to confession, good for her!  Help her start the process of being received into the Catholic Church.  Then she can go to confession all the time!

Except in the middle of the night, please? Let Father get some sleep.

22 votes, 4.14 avg. rating (82% score)
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ASK FATHER: Sanation of Protestant marriage without dispensation

From a reader…


Thank you Father for your great blog! Are there situations where it would be appropriate to get a marriage regularised as a natural marriage even though there is a possibility it could be sacramental? I ask this as I have returned to the Catholic faith after a long absence. During that absence I married without proper dispensation in a protestant church (I had no idea nor would have cared at the time).

My wife has been less than enthusiastic about my return, but tolerates it and is open to the idea of a radical sanation. Trouble is that it is proving very difficult to source evidence for her baptism overseas and neither she nor her family have much interest in uncovering it.

This has been the situation for over a year now.

Congratulations on your return to the Faith, and your desire to get your situation squared away.

It sounds as though you have been speaking with your parish priest, which is a good thing.

Whether a marriage is sacramental or natural is not an option for us to choose between.  It is sacramental if it is a valid marriage between two baptized persons. It is natural if it is either between two unbaptized persons or a baptized person and an unbaptized person.

A sanation of your marriage could be done regardless of your wife’s baptismal status. If there is no way of obtaining proof of her baptism then the sanation would include a dispensation “ad cautelam“, basically a conditional dispensation. The sanation would regularize your marital status.

If her baptismal status remains doubtful, don’t worry. Your marriage would still be made valid. Whether that sanated marriage is sacramental or merely natural would remain an unanswered question, but that’s okay.  It would not impact your ability to return to the sacraments and regular practice of your Catholic Faith.

Perhaps, at some point in the future, your wife will be inspired by how much more kind, caring, and devoted you are now that you are practicing your Catholic Faith, and she will be inspired to join you at Holy Mass.

18 votes, 3.72 avg. rating (74% score)
Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

New SF Blog: One Mad Mom

I direct the readership’s attention to a blog post by a newcomer…

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She reacted to the attacks on the Star of the Sea parish and Frs. Ill and Driscoll by the liberal priests in San Francisco.

She’s not happy.

Go see!  Spike her stats.


What are these liberal priests so afraid of that they would do this?  This is ONE parish, with very poor attendance for its size, surrounded by all of them – some less than a mile away.  Why do they think their parishioners would be concerned about somebody else’s parish?   Might it have something to do with the disparaging remarks some pastors are making from their own pulpits about Star of the Sea and the Archbishop?  (Oh, yeah, we’ve heard all about that, St. Ignatius).  Again, they are not being told they must do what Fr. Illo and Fr. Driscoll are doing at Star of the Sea, so where’s the beef?  (Yes, I’m a child of the ‘80s) Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! (…and the ‘70s) I know the answer!  Pick me!  Pick me!  The liberals are TERRIFIED that this conservative Catholicism thing might actually catch on.  The writing has been on the wall for a while and they know it. There are tons of young, up and coming, conservative, faithful priests who are spiritually attractive to the faithful, and they are sucking people into their world just by being faithful.  They’re not disparaging the parish down the street, nor will they.   They are sowing seeds of love and Truth.  The worst part about this for the Liberals?  They’ve seen it working.  Attendance is on the rise.  People are showing overwhelming support for this parish.   Star of the Sea has some new life!

46 votes, 4.48 avg. rating (89% score)
Posted in The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 14 Comments

ASK FATHER: Three questions from a sinner who wants to come home.

From a reader…


I have been gone from the Church for about 10 years, and I am just starting the journey of coming home; I am a disgusting sinful mess…
I have 3 questions [I usually take one at a time, but this time I’ll make an exception.] and will try to keep them brief.
1) I know my boyfriend and I are not allowed to have any sort of sexual relations together anymore, but does that also mean we can’t sleep in the same bed fully clothed and not doing anything sexual? (Unless we were to get married of course)
2) I had an abortion, so I understand that I am unofficially
excommunicated. How do I remedy this? Must I make a confession to my local bishop for this kind of sin? Also for apostasy or heresy as well? since I had basically declared myself an agnostic atheist.
3) I had started going to Mass the last few days (of course not going up for Holy Communion since I have not made my Confession yet) but am I sinning in even going to Mass in my state?
Thank you so much for your help on any of the questions! This has really been bothering me and I’m not sure what is right.

First of all, all you readers, stop say a Hail Mary for this woman. God is calling her, as He calls each of us, to turn away from our sins and turn more and more towards Him, who alone is capable of giving us the peace and happiness for which we long.

God loves you and has never stopped loving you no matter how far you feel you’ve run from His love.

Next, welcome home.  And you are home, even if the journey is still taking some time and there is more to do. You will soon find, if you haven’t already, that you are coming back to a Church which is made up of a lot of sinners just like you. We all struggle to root sin out of our lives, sometimes with greater success than other times. God gives us the strength and the grace we need, if we cooperate with Him. I hope you can find a good and holy priest to help you in your return, along with a solid and healthy parish where you can start living out your rediscovered Catholic faith.

To your specific questions.

1) Remaining chaste is a challenge even in the best of circumstances, but this is what God calls us to. As Christians, we are called not only to avoid sin, but also to avoid near occasions of sin. God doesn’t ask this of us just to be mean or to prevent us from doing what we want. He really does know what is best for us.  If I were trying to diet, but prepared a large bowl of spaghetti alla carbonara every night and set it on the table while I munched on celery sticks, I would torture myself needlessly. This is a major step, but you should consider the steps needed to move out on your own, maybe in with a family member or a girl friend for a bit, and then to pray and discern whether or not to proceed towards marriage with this boyfriend. At first, ask your boyfriend to start sleeping on the couch. If he respects you, and is a gentleman (the kind of guy you really should consider marrying), he will do so graciously, even if he has not yet joined you on your return to the Church.

2) In most dioceses in these United States, priests are given the faculty to lift the penalties that apply to sins such as abortion and apostasy. If you are not certain, a quick anonymous call to the diocesan chancery office (ask for the Chancellor’s office, or the Tribunal) should clear it up. When you go to make your confession, it would probably be a good idea to make an appointment because you may need a little extra time not afforded when others are in line behind you.  An appointment does not necessarily mean you must confess face-to-face. You can ask Father if he would be willing to meet you in the confessional in the church at a fixed time.  Abortion is a serious sin, as is apostasy, but they are not unforgivable sins.  There is not unforgivable sin if you are prepared to ask forgiveness of God and His loving mercy.  Before or after your confession, you might want get in touch with Rachel’s Vineyard.  They provide invaluable service in helping to heal the wounds caused by abortion.

3) You do not sin by attending Mass even though you haven’t been fully reconciled yet. Attending Mass is a marvelous way to cooperate with the grace that God is giving you at right now. Hopefully, it’s fueling the hunger for the Blessed Sacrament and the state of grace that is your goal, and deepening your love for Christ and His Church.

One of Satan’s biggest tricks – lies – is to convince us, before we sin, that the sin we are tempted with at that moment is minor (“It’s no big deal, just go ahead and do it, it’s really not all that bad”). Then, once we have committed sin, the Enemy changes his tune and tries to convince us that our sins are so horrible that God couldn’t possibly love us, that we should just stay away from the Church, stay away from Mass, stay away from prayer and sacramentals because we are so filthy and disgusting and sinful. Don’t let the Enemy trick you. Yes, your sins may be serious, but God’s grace and mercy are vastly bigger. If you haven’t already, get a small bottle for some holy water from the Church, get a blessed Rosary and pray it. Keep it in your pocket or your purse. Get a blessed Crucifix and keep it in your home. These steps will help you move more and more close to God.

You are not alone and, with the help of God and the prayers of many, you can do this!

75 votes, 4.80 avg. rating (95% score)
Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Our Catholic Identity | 61 Comments