My View For Awhile: Left Coast Edition

Off I go again. Conference. And I don’t have to speak. Which I can just take it in, as Killick would put it.

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Paco de Lucia is being played. Nice not to have shapeless Muzak.

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Happily, I have a layover which will neither force me to rush nor get bored. I’ve started to avoid really short layovers. Given the on-time/late records of airlines, it’s not worth the minutes saved on the while trip to have the worry of making a connection.

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Posted in What Fr. Z is up to | 2 Comments

22 July: St. Mary Magdalene (and homonymous cookies!)

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

The 3rd c. writer Hippolytus in his Commentary on Song of Songs identifies Mary Magdalene with both Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42; John 1:10) and also the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet (Luke 7:36-50)

Mary Magdalene and/or Mary of Bethany are often identified as sinners. Pope Gregory I “the Great” called her a peccatrix, “sinner”. Eventually she came to be called meretrix, “prostitute”.

There is no way to arrive definitively at the identity of the figure of Mary Magdelene. It is possible that Mary Magdalene was none of these women. The Catholic Church has no position about this. Commonly, however, Catholics sometimes identify all three women as the same Mary.

There is also another version, namely that Mary Magdalene was the woman Jesus saved from stoning after being caught in adultery. This is the tradition referenced in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ. Scholars however believe that Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, the woman Jesus rescued, and the woman who anointed His feet are all different women.

We know from Scripture that Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the mother of James came to Jesus’ tomb to anoint the body (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2). Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the empty tomb, went to tell Apostles (John 20:1-2). So, she is called “the apostle to the apostles”. At first Mary did not recognize Jesus, but when He said her name, she saw who He was and tried to cling to him. Christ forbade her to touch Him (Noli me tangere John 20:17) saying “I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

What became of Mary Magdelene? We don’t know for sure. Here is what the old Catholic Encyclopedia says, for what it is worth:

The Greek Church maintains that the saint retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin and there died, that her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are there preserved. Gregory of Tours (De miraculis, I, xxx) supports the statement that she went to Ephesus. However, according to a French tradition (see SAINT LAZARUS OF BETHANY), Mary, Lazarus, and some companions came to Marseilles and converted the whole of Provence. Magdalen is said to have retired to a hill, La Sainte-Baume, near by, where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. When the time of her death arrived she was carried by angels to Aix and into the oratory of St. Maximinus, where she received the viaticum; her body was then laid in an oratory constructed by St. Maximinus at Villa Lata, afterwards called St. Maximin. History is silent about these relics till 745, when according to the chronicler Sigebert, they were removed to Vézelay through fear of the Saracens. No record is preserved of their return, but in 1279, when Charles II, King of Naples, erected a convent at La Sainte-Baume for the Dominicans, the shrine was found intact, with an inscription stating why they were hidden. In 1600 the relics were placed in a sarcophagus sent by Clement VIII, the head being placed in a separate vessel. In 1814 the church of La Sainte-Baume, wrecked during the Revolution, was restored, and in 1822 the grotto was consecrated afresh. The head of the saint now lies there, where it has lain so long, and where it has been the centre of so many pilgrimages.

 

And let us not forget the cookies called Madeleines of which Marcel Proust wrote so elegantly.

In Patricia Bunning Stevens’ work Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes we read:

“In culinary lore, Madeleines are always associated with Marcel Proust, whose autobiographical novel, Remembrance of Things Past, begins as his mother serves him tea and “those short, plump little cakes called petits Madeleines, which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell.” The narrator dips a corner of a little cake into the tea and then is overwhelmed by memories; he realizes that the Madeleines bore “in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.” …But Madeleines had existed long before Proust’s boyhood. Numerous stories, none very convincing, attribute their invention to a host of different pastry cooks, each of whom supposedly named them for some particular young woman. Only three things are known for sure. One is that Madeleine is a French form of Magdalen (Mary Magdalen, a disciple of Jesus, is mentioned in all four gospels). Another is that Madeleines are always associated with the little French town of Commercy, whose bakers were said to have once, long ago, paid a “very large sum” for the recipe and sold the little cakes packed in oval boxes as a specialty in the area. Finally, it is alow known that nuns in eighteenth-century France frequently supported themselves and their schools by making and selling a particular sweet… Commercy once had a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdelen, and the nuns, probably when all the convents and monastaries of France were abolished during the French Revolution, sold their recipe to the bakers for an amount that grew larger with each telling.”

Here are links for recipes: NB: This requires a special mold:

1 stick (1/4 lb.) unsalted butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 lemon
2/3 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
butter (at room temperature) for the madeleine pan molds

CLICK

Butter 2 madeleine molds (molds of 12) and put into the refrigerator. Butter them again in 15 minutes, making sure the butter coats the indentations on the top. Chill molds until ready to use.

Grate the zest from 1/2 of the lemon and reserve. Squeeze the lemon and reserve the juice. Whisk the flour and baking powder together. Melt the butter and set aside. Whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice together for about 30 seconds. Don’t overmix.

Thin the mixture with 1/2 cup of the milk. Add the flour all at once and, using a whisk, blend just long enough to eliminate lumps. Gently stir in the rest of the milk and the melted butter.

Refrigerate the batter for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°. Spoon the batter into the shell-shaped molds and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the pans halfway through the cooking time so they bake evenly. Immediately remove the cookies from the molds and allow to cool on racks. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving (not when hot!).

It would be remise not to include something tasty for the mouth of the soul as well, which is always ready to bite into something chewy and substantive from the Fathers. Here, patristibloggers, is a piece from St. Augustine’s Tractate on the Gospel on John 131. There are nice bits here as, for example, recounting that Mary mistook the Risen Lord for a gardener and Augustine makes Him into the Gardener of her soul!

3. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God.” There are points in these words which we must examine with brevity indeed, but with somewhat more than ordinary attention. for Jesus was giving a lesson in faith to the woman, who had recognized Him as her Master, and called Him so in her reply; and this gardener was sowing in her heart, as in His own garden, the grain of mustard seed.

What then is meant by “Touch me not”? and just as if the reason of such a prohibition would be sought, He added, “for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” What does this mean? if, while standing on earth, He is not to be touched, how could He be touched by men when sitting in heaven? for certainly, before He ascended, He presented Himself to the touch of the disciples, when He said, as testified by the evangelist Luke, “Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have;” or when He said to Thomas the disciple, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and put forth thy hand, and thrust it into my side.” and who could be so absurd as to affirm that He was willing indeed to be touched by the disciples before He ascended to the Father, but refused it in the case of women till after His ascension?

But no one, even had any the will, was to be allowed to run into such folly, for we read that women also, after His resurrection and before His ascension to the Father, touched Jesus, among whom was Mary Magdalene herself; for it is related by Matthew that Jesus met them, and said, “All hail. And they approached, and held Him by the feet, and worshiped Him.” This was passed over by John, but declared as the truth by Matthew.

It remains, therefore, that some sacred mystery must lie concealed in these words; and whether we discover it or utterly fail to do so, yet we ought to be in no doubt as to its actual existence. Accordingly, either the words, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father,” had this meaning, that by this woman the Church of the Gentiles was symbolized, which did not believe on Christ till He had actually ascended to the Father, or that in this way Christ wished Himself to be believed on; in other words, to be touched spiritually, that He and the Father are one. for He has in a manner ascended to the Father, to the inward perception of him who has made such progress in the knowledge of Christ that he acknowledges Him as equal with the Father: in any other way He is not rightly touched, that is to say, in any other way He is not rightly believed on. But Mary might have still so believed as to account Him unequal with the Father, and this certainly is forbidden her by the words, “Touch me not;” that is, Believe not thus on me according to thy present notions; let not your thoughts stretch outwards to what I have been made in thy behalf, without passing beyond to that whereby thou hast thyself been made. for how could it be otherwise than carnally that she still believed on Him whom she was weeping over as a man? “For I am not yet ascended,” He says, “to my Father:” there shalt thou touch me, when thou believest me to be God, in no wise unequal with the Father. “But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.” He saith not, Our Father: in one sense, therefore, is He mine, in another sense, yours; by nature mine, by grace yours. “and my God, and your God.” Nor did He say here, Our God: here, therefore, also is He in one sense mine, in another sense yours: my God; under whom I also am as man; your God, between whom and you I am mediator.

You can buy a madaleine cookie mould HERE.

Posted in Patristiblogging, Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Many illegal aliens flooding across border have criminal records

In Texas, Gov. Perry is about about to activate elements of the National Guard as a force multiplier on the southern “border”.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst made comments in the media, including…

I saw this at Breitbart:

[...]

Dewhurst asserted that the media’s portrayal that the majority of the migrants entering the country are children is dishonest. “The media would have you believe that the whole crisis on the border is exclusively about unaccompanied children,” he said. “It is not just about unaccompanied children — unaccompanied children represent but a tiny fraction of the illegals who cross our border every day, according to the Border Patrol.”
There is a huge “criminal element” at the border that includes significant gang activity, according to Dewhurst.
“We’ve seen estimates that at least a quarter of those apprehended have criminal records,” he added.

[...]

There are many mixed reports floating around. I have read that there aren’t as many children as claimed. I have read the opposite. I have read that many are fleeing their own countries because of violence. I have read the opposite.

One this is obvious: Mexican authorities are trying to make sure that they get to the US border and then get across into las provincias pérdidas.

I would like to have the facts.

I think we all agree that when people are in distress for food, water, clothing, shelter, they need some immediate attention.  That doesn’t mean that we have to be entirely blind to who they are after they have received immediate attention.

Who is coming across?  Why?  Are there others, slinking in along with the central Americans?  Yemenis, perhaps?

Posted in Semper Paratus, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Fed Court rules Obamacare subsidies ILLEGAL in 36 states!

From Catholic Vote:

FEDERAL COURT GUTS OBAMACARE

Remember when Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass Obamacare to know what’s in it?

She wasn’t joking.

Four years ago partisan Democrats rammed through the passage of Obamacare in the middle of the night. Now their recklessness has cost them.

A federal court ruled today that Obamacare federal subsidies in 36 states are illegal. [The court found this to be "unambiguous".]

Here is the quick summary: Obamacare was established to provide subsidies (taxpayer dollars) to qualified applicants who enrolled in health care via a state exchange. Backers of Obamacare never imagined that any state (let alone 36) would refuse to set up a state exchange. After all, when has any government said no to free federal money? [Has your insurance been cancelled yet?  How's that "Affordable" Care Act working for you?]

But many states recognized that they would be on the hook when the federal subsidies disappeared. And so they refused to go along. [Do you live in a state with exchanges or which fended them off?]

When the states began saying no, the lawless Obama administration simply flouted the law. The IRS ignored the plain text of the law [I'm shocked!] and unilaterally decided that subsidies would also go to persons who signed up on exchanges established by the federal government — even though Congress never approved this option!

The federal court today rejected this lawless option, stating that the Obamacare law “unambiguously” stipulated that subsidies were to go to individuals obtaining insurance through an “exchange established by the state.”

The Court was clear: Congress makes the laws. Barack Obama does not.  [Tell that to Barack Obama.]

If upheld on appeal, millions of Obamacare recipients would lose their taxpayer subsidy. [Get that?] The entire program would become unsustainable and unworkable.  [Grok?]

While today’s verdict will likely be appealed, the future unraveling of Obamacare seems inevitable. The American people remain strongly opposed to the premium spikes, [I wonder if yours are like mine.  I get a nosebleed reading my bills.] restrictions on doctors and care, and assaults on religious liberty and conscience.

But America still wants and needs real healthcare reform.

Obamacare has failed. And is now illegal.

It must be replaced with a reform solution that is both constitutional, and that provides true affordable and accessible care – especially for the most vulnerable.

Today’s court decision opens the door to a new path forward.

Catholics must help lead the way. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

¡Vaya lío!

 

Posted in Just Too Cool, The Drill, ¡Vaya lío! | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pope Francis prays for success of initiative to convert Anglicans

In the wake of the decision of the State tethered Church of England to have wyshyps (female bishops), the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham set up a “Exploration Day”.

You know that the Ordinariate was created according to the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, for Anglicans who want to be Catholic and want to retain their customs, liturgy, etc.

Benedict XVI is, of course, the Pope of Christian Unity.

Anglicans have a true home in the Catholic Church.

I just read this press release from the Ordinariate:

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE PERSONAL ORDINARIATE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27.07.2014

Pope Francis Prays For Success of Ordinariate’s Exploration Day

Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham’s forthcoming “Called To Be One” exploration day, which it has planned with the aim of increasing understanding of the Ordinariate’s purpose and reaching out to those who may feel called to join it.

The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate.

The full text of Archbishop Mennini’s letter reads as follows:

“At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that  the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled “Called to be One”, organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain”.

The Nuncio ends with his own prayerful good wishes for a very successful day.

Pope Francis’ blessing on the exploration day and Archbishop Mennini’s words of support for it follow a statement of welcome for the initiative from Cardinal Vincent Nichols. In his capacity as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Cardinal said: “the Ordinariate both enriches the Catholic Church with Catholic aspects of the beautiful heritage and culture of Anglican patrimony and advances the cause of unity which must be the ultimate aim of all ecumenical activity… I wish you every success with this initiative. I hope it will attract many interested enquirers”.

Last week Mgr Newton warmly invited all those who are interested in the Ordinariate to attend the exploration day “whether because they are considering their future or just because they would like to see more of what we are and what we do” . Mgr Newton’s invitation came in his response to the Church of England General Synod’s decision to allow women to be ordained as bishops. In the same statement Mgr Newton said that, though that decision was a very happy one for many within the Church of England, it made the position undeniably harder for those within the Anglican Church who still longed for unity with Rome.

The Ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict in 2011 to make it possible for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church to do so, bringing with them much of the heritage and traditions of Anglicanism. Pope Benedict described these as “treasures to be shared”. On the exploration day, each of the 40 or so Ordinariate groups across the country will host a different event, with the common theme of the vision for Christian unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate.

I am glad to hear of Pope Francis’ prayers for the success of this initiative to help Anglicans come into the Catholic Church.

As Benedict, so Francis.

Posted in New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pope Francis, Pope of Christian Unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

World War I – 100 years out

28 July is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

CNS has a brief video you might like to view.  Interesting footage of Pope Benedict XV.

Posted in The future and our choices | Tagged | 4 Comments

ISIS targeting Christians: “The West must step in now… or we will be wiped out.”

How grim is you life?  We watch in horror as Christians in Iraq are being persecuted, driven, hunted by Islamic terrorists.  The Religion of Peace… right?

‘Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil [in Kurdistan]. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians’

Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako

From the Daily Mail:

Thousands of Iraqi Christians pour out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis give them deadline to convert, pay or face death

Thousands of Iraqi Christians today poured out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis gave them an ultimatum – convert, pay or face death.
The Islamic State terror group declared that Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or leave the city, around 250 miles north-west of Baghdad.
If they did not do so by noon (9am GMT) today, there would be ‘nothing for them but the sword’, it said.

[...]

From Catholic World Report:

ISIS tags Christian homes in Mosul for confiscation as Christians flee
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch: “Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe”

Warning that “Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe,” Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako has written a letter “to the people of conscience and good will in Iraq and the world” in which he describes the dire situation in which Iraqi Christians find themselves.

“The control exercised by the Islamist Jihadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs,” the patriarch reported in his July 17 letter. “The only alternative is to abandon the city and their houses with only the clothes they are wearing, taking nothing else. Moreover, by Islamic law, upon their departure, their houses are no longer their properties but are instantly confiscated as property of the Islamic state.”

He also stated that ISIS forces had started marking the homes of Christians in Mosul with the Arabic letter “N,” for “Nazara” (Christian). “We do not know what will happen in future days because in an Islamic state the Al-sharia or Islamic code of law is powerful and has been interpreted to require the issuance of new I.Ds for the population based on religious or sectarian affiliation,” Patriarch Sako wrote.

[...]

From Breitbart:

Iraq’s Christian leaders have just made a desperate cry for help. Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, head of Iraq’s Catholic church, has issued an appeal “to all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world.”
The situation for Iraq’s Christians has been steadily deteriorating ever since the 2003 invasion, in part because the U.S. never acknowledged that Christians were being targeted by Islamists and did not prioritize protection of Christians or other minorities.
But with the recent sweep through Mosul and other Iraqi cities by the jihadi group ISIS, Iraq’s Christians look to be on the verge of genocide.
On June 16th it was reported that ISIS had marked the doors of Christians in red. Patriarch Sako’s letter confirms that rumor. While no one yet knows what this ominous sign foretells, Sako and other Christian leaders are pleading with the world to intervene before the meaning of the sign is made clear.
Earlier this week, Iraqi human rights activist Pascale Warda came to Washington from Baghdad to raise the alarm with the State Department and members of Congress. She was accompanied by Bishop Yousif Habash, who now resides in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but who is originally from Qaraqosh, a city 15 miles from Mosul which was also recently overrun by ISIS, where the Christians still speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.
Bishop Habash said, “Christians throughout the Middle East have been targeted, and we are on the verge of being exterminated. The West stepped in to stop the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar Muslims, so we know it can be done. The West must step in now and save the Middle East’s Christians, or we will be wiped out.”

[...]

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia! Pray for us!

St. Lawrence of Brindisi!  Pray for us!

 

Posted in Modern Martyrs, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

Ex ore infantium… perfecisti laudem!

An alert reader sent this tweet:

Posted in Just Too Cool, Lighter fare, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

“Forward!” he cried, showing them the crucifix, “Victory is ours.” – St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Today on both sides of the Roman Rite we celebrate a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, St. Lawrence of Brindisi.

Know much about him?

I like this story about him from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

It was on the occasion of the foundation of the convent of Prague (1601) that St. Lorenzo was named chaplain of the Imperial army, then about to march against the Turks. The victory of Lepanto (1571) had only temporarily checked the Moslem invasion, and several battles were still necessary to secure the final triumph of the Christian armies. Mohammed III had, since his accession (1595), conquered a large part of Hungary. The emperor, determined to prevent a further advance, sent Lorenzo of Brindisi as deputy to the German princes to obtain their cooperation. They responded to his appeal, and moreover the Duke of Mercœur, Governor of Brittany, joined the imperial army, of which he received the effective command. The attack on Albe-Royal (now Stulweissenburg) was then contemplated. To pit 18,000 men against 80,000 Turks was a daring undertaking and the generals, hesitating to attempt it, appealed to Lorenzo for advice. Holding himself responsible for victory, he communicated to the entire army in a glowing speech the ardour and confidence with which he was himself animated. As his feebleness prevented him from marching, he mounted on horseback and, crucifix in hand, took the lead of the army, which he drew irresistibly after him. Three other Capuchins were also in the ranks of the army. Although the most exposed to danger, Lorenzo was not wounded, which was universally regarded as due to a miraculous protection. The city was finally taken, and the Turks lost 30,000 men. As however they still exceeded in numbers the Christian army, they formed their lines anew, and a few days later another battle was fought. It always the chaplain who was at the head of the army. “Forward!” he cried, showing them the crucifix, “Victory is ours.” The Turks were again defeated, and the honour of this double victory was attributed by the general and the entire army to Lorenzo.

Let Pope Benedict tell you something more

Here is what the Martyrologium Romanum has:

Sancti Laurentii de Brundusio, presbyteri et Ecclesiae doctoris, inter Fratres Minores Capuccinos adscriptus, praedicandi munere in Europae regionibus indefesse functus est, tum pro Ecclesia defensione adversus infideles, tum in reconciliandis principibus, tum in Ordinis sui moderatione, omnia munera explens simplicitate et humilitate.  Die vero vigesimo secundo iulii Ulyssipone in Lusitania obiit.

How about your own, smooth but accurate rendering into English (or Klingon… whatever)?

Posted in Saints: Stories & Symbols, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , | 5 Comments

When the priest confessor doesn’t use the proper Form of Absolution. Wherein Fr. Z advises.

Everyone should go to confession regularly.

That said, sometimes it can happen that you will have a less than edifying experience of the priest confessor.  Do not fret!

This even happened to me, recently.  While out on the road, I stopped at a parish where I knew confessions were scheduled.  The priest in the confessional was a missionary from India.  As you know, in these USA during the summer we have many visiting priests going about making mission appeals.

This priest did not say the proper form of absolution.  Instead, he gave me a blessing.  Three times I asked for absolution.  I even said the words for him.  He eventually came through.

Will that discourage me from going to confession?  Not a whit.   Of course, as a priest, I can bring a bit more ammo to the moment, if you get my drift.  I am not easily shaken.

Still, I informed the pastor of the parish (standing in the church’s entry way) about my experience and left the situation in his hands.  The priest in the confessional, of course, cannot in any way speak about what happened behind that closed door, but I had – nevertheless – to inform the pastor of the parish about what happened in his confessional.

The matter and form of sacraments is no small matter.  Invalid matter or form is serious.  That is what prompts this post.

What happened to me on Saturday is not an isolated experience.  I know that priests can back me up on this.  As a matter of fact, some time back a priest reader wrote in once with this experience, in response to one of my ASK FATHER posts:

I have gone to Confession in [different Western languages] to Indian priests and I have experienced on many – the majority – of occasions that they do not say the words of absolution.  Instead there is often a sort of flowery prayer ending with the words “and so Jesus forgives you” or “God forgives you.”  [I didn't even get that.  I got a blessing.]

I think the problem is often that they do not know the formula.  If corrected, it becomes clear that they do not know the form.  [Yep.] I’ve tried telling it to them, but that doesn’t go over to well.

A fair number of the Indian priests serving in the U.S. are not even of the Latin rite, they’re Syro-Malabar – some have not celebrated a Roman Mass before coming here, thus they import from what they know, or they make it up as they go along.

It has come to the point that I avoid going to Indian priests for confession.  Also, some priests may not know the form in English or Latin – perhaps a nice gift for parishes/priests would be a nicely framed card for the confessional with the necessary prayers.

Yes, dear readers, this can happen.  We live in a fallen world and not every priest out there, over the last few decades, has been perfectly trained up.  Thus, we learn not to freak out.

Fathers, if you are pastors of parishes, parish priests, and you have a missionary priest visiting, and you put him to work hearing confessions, I suggest that you mention that in your parish, all priests use exactly the form of absolution which the Church has approved. You should have a printed card in the confessional with the approved formula in Latin and in English (and perhaps in Spanish, etc.).  Perhaps diocesan bishops might think about directing that parish priests remind visiting priests from outside the diocese that, ’round these parts we say the black words and do the red stuff.

“But Father! But Father!”, you might be thinking, “isn’t this sort of… insulting?  Assuming that priests don’t know the form of absolution?  Telling them something so fundamental?”

We can’t assume that all visiting priests are going to get it right.  You just can’t.  Better safe than sorry.

Lay people, if this happens to you, ask the priest – politely – to say the words of absolution.  Keep in mind that older priests will be saying the form of absolution while you are reciting your Act of Contrition.  In most cases, they will wait with the actual form, “I absolve you…” when you have finished.  But, sometimes, they don’t.  In that case, if you don’t hear the priest say “I absolve you…” you can – politely – ask if the priest gave you absolution.  You might add that you didn’t hear it.  If you get the sense that the priest simply did not just at any time the correct form, do not lose your cool.  Sometimes a priest will send signals that he is a bit dodgy or unsure.  For example, if he tells you something that is clearly a mortal sin is not a sin, or if he subtly (or not) runs you down for a reciting “laundry list”, or even if he doesn’t give a penance or the penance is something like “think nice thoughts about someone”, you may be in the presence of a guy who has either made the choice that he knows better than the Church or he has not been well-trained.  Again, don’t lose your cool.  Inform the pastor – politely.  If the priest is the pastor, you may have to inform the diocesan bishop.  Did I mention don’t lose your cool? Be polite?  It is nearly unimaginable that the priest is straying from what ought to be done out of malice or ill intent.

If you are pretty sure that you were not absolved, freak thou thyself not out.  If there is another priest available, tell him what happened, make your confession, get absolved, and go on your way whistling a happy tune (after leaving the church, of course).  Otherwise, at your next opportunity, make your confession.

Sacraments have matter and form.  The matter of the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) is the telling of the sins.  The form is the absolution spoken by the validly ordained priest who has faculties.  If the priest does not say a valid form of absolution, then the Sacrament of Penance has not been celebrated.  Some other sort of grace-filled moment might have taken place, but it won’t have been the Sacrament of Penance.

Finally, in the document Redemptionis Sacramentum we read at the end:

Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist [all sacraments, actually] will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

I would add to this that, in a parish, start with the pastor – if feasible – and work your way up.

And always always always say a prayer for any priest who might be doing something a little dodgy.

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