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Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 65 Comments

ASK FATHER: None of your….

From a reader…


I was just wondering if there are any documents that specifically require the composition of liturgical candles to be made of beeswax.
Quite often I see paraffin candles being used for the sacred liturgy, whether traditional or contemporary and this just makes me feel a bit uneasy, since the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches and Orthodox only use 100% pure beesewax. What kinds of candles do you you use – and again, which documents support the practice?

Candles are interesting things.  They do more than simply shed light or, in this age of electricity, create an ambiance.  They, like we do, breathe in air.  They move.  They eat.  They die.  We use them as a sacrificial offering, for once they are used, they are gone for good.  They stand in our place when we have intentions to pray for.  We light them to avert storms.  They remind us that, in this dark fallen world, the light of Christ will be victorious.

At one point the Sacred Congregation for Rites said that there had to be at least 51% wax in candles.  You know, beeswax is pretty tough to keep standing up nice and straight in warm weather.  A bit of stearine ensures that your candles are made of stearner stuff.

Currently, the legislation simply speaks of “candles” and does not go into detail about the composition of said candles. The USCCB website notes that, when a question was proposed to the Congregation for Divine Worship (now the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments), in 1974, the response was that no materials are spoken of in the universal law (Notitiae 10:80 (1974), no. 4), and bishops’ conferences have the competence to determine or specify material. The US Bishops’ Conference has made no specification, therefore, it is quite licit to use candles of various sorts. HERE

Oil lamps, which may be used as sanctuary lamps, are not candles, and may not substitute for altar candles. Neither are flashlights, pictures of candles, little electric flickering lights shaped like candles.

So, there is quite a bit of flexibility about the material of the candles, but the vector of the Church’s thought is pretty clear.  Candles should be of a material that is for the most part natural.  A high percentage real bee’s wax is preferred, keeping in mind that that 100% bees wax candles can get droopy in hot weather.  They should produce a good flame without guttering.  Tallow or animal fat is too smokey and smells bad.  I suspect you won’t find many tallow candles.  Wait until the EMP blasts us back to the 18th century.  Heh heh… we’ll use tallow then, legislation or not!  Also, I would like there to be a bit of flexibility from the Congregation in Rome on the use of Roman candles.  ¡Hagan lío!

Nothing makes a church smell “Catholic” more than the lingering scent of incense, some wood polish, and bee’s wax candles burning.  That combination alone is just about enough to get you thinking about converting or going to confession.  Also, when I smell beeswax, I think of kistas… but I digress.

Some years ago, when I was in Norfolk, VA, I was given some homemade beeswax candles made boy who attended the TLM in the area. I used them in my chapel for Mass and there were simply splendid.


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Just when I was on a high from getting the Japanese version of the famed “Internet Prayer”Qapla’! – my spies came through with an audio recording in


Maybe they finally got that old sub-space communication array fixed. They mentioned something about reversing the polarity. Whatever. It worked.

Ladies and gentleman, Klingon.

KLINGON (aka Klingonese)

TlhobtaHghach qaSpa’ poSmoH’tah Internet’li

HoSghaj je reH joH’a, ‘lv chenmoHta’ ma’Daq lij voqtaHghach je maH ja’ta nej Hoch QaQ, teH, je ‘lH, Daq lij neH puqloD, ma’joH, J’H’esus K’risti, ms tlhob SoH, vegh le’ghot J’Isador’e, lalDan vumwI’neS je O’ghojmoH’neS, qaStaHvIS ma’ylt vegh Internet’li, ma’tI yotlh ma’ghopDu’ je minDu’ Daq vetlh nuq Chen Quch SoH je pop tlhej muSHa’ tlq SlQ Hoch chaH qa’neS ma’ghom. Sum K’risti ma’joH.

Internet Prayer in Klingon

Posted in Just Too Cool, PODCAzT, PRAYERCAzT: What Does The (Latin) Prayer Really Sound L | Tagged , | 3 Comments


The other day I reported that I finally had an Tagalog audio recording of the now well-known “Internet Prayer”. HERE At that time I said that I was still waiting for a Japanese version. One of you came through! Thanks!

From a reader:

I have created two versions of a Japanese translation, one in classical Japanese and the other in modern Japanese.

[Classical Japanese version (文語)]


[Modern Japanese version (現代語)]


For the classical one, I tried to imitate prayers that can be found in older (pre-WWII) Catholic prayer books, some of which are still in use today, and are familiar to and cherished by many. For the modern one, I did those found in more recent prayer books or those used in Mass in Japanese. I personally prefer the classical one, as it sounds stronger and also is rhythmically and linguistically beautiful. However what could obtain an approval might likely be the other one.

Fantastic! I sure would like audio renderings, too. If you can offer a translation into a language I don’t yet have, please send it.  To email me, click HERE.

By the way, the same reader added:

I find your blog extremely helpful, edifying, and interesting in numerous ways. It is after starting reading it (maybe for about two years) that I have come to go to Mass daily and go to Confession regularly – it makes a real difference. As I am living in Michigan now, I was very fortunate that I was able to hear Masses that you celebrated at Assumption Grotto in Detroit a couple of times. Not to mention Mystic Monk Coffee which I enjoy myself and occasionally give to friends. I can hardly describe how I am grateful to you for all that you have done and you will do. I think this might be a good occasion to offer you a small donation. I would be glad if you could use it according to your need. I will surely keep you in my prayers.

Bless you.

I would also like a video of the prayer in ASL, American Sign Language.

Klingon is still on the way!

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Ebola Virus – No worries! Right?

I hear that victims of the highly infectious and contagious Ebola Virus are being brought to these United States.   Pray for these poor people.  It’ll be the first time this deadly and highly infectious and contagious virus will be on these shores.

Hey!  Don’t fret, today Pres. Obama said there is nothing to worry about.  This, the day after we learned that the ObamaCare website cost tax payers $840 million.

With the Obama Administration on the watch, what could go wrong?

I mean, look at the competence with which the invasion at the southern border is being handled.

Surely they would tell us if there were some kind of problem, right?  I mean, look at the transparency they have displayed with Benghazi and the IRS investigations.

BTW… have any of you read Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders?

NUTSHELL: Iranians manage to weaponize Ebola and seek to release it in these USA.

A ripping good yarn and surely pure fiction.  Pure fiction.  I mean, no problems with Islamic fanatics these days.

All in all, I’d rather have a Pres. Ryan, if you get me.

But… what could go wrong?

I think I’ll put it on my Kindle wish list.  I haven’t read it for years. [Yes. I knew it. Someone already came through. But there are other books in the list!]

And… pray for these poor people, those coming here and those in Africa.  Ask the Archangel Michael to avert this horrible plague.

I hope Catholic leaders there will have processions.

Posted in Global Killer Asteroid Questions, Lighter fare, Semper Paratus | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

ASK FATHER: Should I attend or avoid a civil marriage of a Catholic?

From a reader…


Is it wrong for a Catholic to attend a wedding that is a civil ceremony only….even if she is my sister? I know you are very busy…answer if you can…I apologize for asking a question that I should already know the answer to…I am so very confused lately..Thank you and God bless You.

It is likely that this now common scenario will become even more common in the future. As relatives and close friends fall away from active practice of their faith, and as poorly catechized young people come to be over marriageable age, we will face situations of loved ones, who had been baptized Catholic, marrying outside the Church. Our response to these situations will need to be serious, and will need to take into consideration our own faith and practice of the Faith.

First, Canon Law.  The Church’s law does not prohibit Catholics from attending invalid weddings. There is no penalty attached to attending such a wedding.  A Catholic in good standing, who does so, remains in good standing after the wedding.

Moral law is more subtle.  It calls calls heavily upon the virtues of prudence and fortitude. There is no clear universal answer.  Every situation will call upon our reserves of prayer, discernment, and evaluation. A good confession before making any decision is always a good idea.

As we decide we need to ask questions.  Why is the Catholic party marrying outside of the Church? Is it ignorance, apathy, antipathy, or some other motivation? Is this person marrying outside the Church as an act of defiance against the Church (“I’m a ‘recovering Catholic’ and won’t let those old white men in dresses tell me how to live my life!”)?  If so, a faithful Catholic should not attend. Similarly, any situation which makes a mockery of the Church’s teaching on marriage, such as “same sex marriage” or “plural marriage” or marriage before a “woman priest”, must be avoided like the sham and embarrassment and sacrilege that they are.  Offer prayers for the deluded souls participating in them.

Most situations are much more subtle, much more difficult to deal with. Catholics might marry outside the Church out of pure ignorance.  Again, questions must be asked.  Did they go to Catholic school?  Were they ever taught that Catholics must marry before a pastor or duly delegated priest or deacon? Do they understand the significance of marriage? Have they lapsed in their faith out of laziness? Might a kind word from a trusted friend or relative open them up to the error of their ways?

We must ask: If the ultimate goal is to draw the erring person back to a regular practice of the Faith, what response from a faithful Catholic is most likely to accomplish that goal?

If I attend the wedding, will my lapsed Catholic loved one think that I (and therefore the Church) approves of the union? Will my presence then harden the person’s will against repentance?

If I don’t attend the wedding, and let my Catholic loved one know that I’m not attending because the wedding is not a Catholic one, will that stir his conscience to repentance and reform? Or will it drive him further away from the Church?

If I attend the reception, but not the wedding, and make a gift of a Catholic Bible, with a holy card inside directing the couple to the nearest Catholic Church, will that be seen as kind and gracious, or overbearing and meddling?

How will my actions be seen by other relatives, especially younger relatives?  More importantly, how will children view the choices of their parents? Parents are responsible for the moral rearing of children.  They must set good examples.

Considering all the variable parts in these situations, it is no wonder that people become confused.

Some priests – even very good priests – often fail to acknowledge the subtleties and either recommend, “Do not go, under any circumstance! Stand strong in your faith!” or “Go! Keep peace in your family and keep the door open to repentance and reconciliation!”

The reality is that each situation needs to be carefully, and honestly approached.

Notice that I am not telling you what to do, other than to weigh all these elements.  If you have a wise and trustworthy priest in your area, you might make an appointment to talk about what to do.

In the meantime, pray in a special way to your Guardian Angel and their Angels to move hearts and minds to do the right thing according to God’s will.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

First of the month “thanks” to donors and senders

Here’s a quick note of thanks to those of you who have regularly contributed donations especially through the monthly “subscription” feature. You are a real boost to me. Thanks.

Since it is the first of the month, if this blog is useful to you (or even if it really irritates you) why not consider signing up for a regular monthly donation?

It my duty and pleasure to pray for my benefactors.

Also, thanks to those of you who have sent “ad hoc” donations, even pretty regularly but without subscribing, and also to you who have sent items from my wish lists, the Kindle book list and the other stuff list. It is fun to get a package now and then and I am reading more books than ever these days. My Kindle and I are a reading machine!  I just finished American Sniper and I am moving on to

I will say Mass for the intention of my benefactors again on Monday, 3 August.

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WDTPRS 18th Ordinary Sunday: clear, cold reality

When the priest, alter Christus, says our prayers during Holy Mass, Christ, Head of the Body, speaks.  His words have power to form us.  As Catholics, formed according to the mind of the Church, we then go out from Mass to shape our world around us.  It is the work of Christ’s Body to bring the content of these prayers (Christ Himself!) to every corner and nook we influence.  Holy Church shapes us and we shape the world around us. We then bring gifts – the very best we can conceive – back to Holy Church who makes them her own.  This is dynamic exchange is called inculturation.  However, in this simultaneous two-way exchange, what God offers to the world through Holy Church must always have logical priority over what the world offers back.  This is authentic inculturation!

The Collect for the 18th Ordinary Sunday was not in any previous edition of the Missale Romanum.  The ancient Veronese Sacramentary has a close cousin used by our ancestorsOur modern version simplified the grammar.  I found similar vocabulary in the works of Cicero (d BC 43 – Ep. ad fam. 2.6.4), in the writings of St Ambrose of Milan (d 397 – Hexameron, Day 1.2.7), and in the sermons of St Augustine (d 430 – s. 293d, 5).   The Church and culture have been deeply interwoven through the centuries.

Adesto, Domine, famulis tuis, et perpetuam benignitatem largire poscentibus, ut his, qui te auctorem et gubernatorem gloriantur habere, et grata restaures, et restaurata conserves.

Adesto is the “future” imperative of the verb adsum, “to be present”, in both the physical and the moral sense.  By logical extension, adsum means, “to be present with one’s aid.”  It can also mean, “to be present in mind, with attention” and “to be fearless.”  “Adsum!” is the famous word in the rite of ordination to Holy Orders.  Men are officially “called” by name to Holy Orders (vocatio).  One by one they respond, “Adsum! …  I am present!”  Men may have inklings or personal convictions that they are called by God to the priesthood, but this “calling” during ordination is the Church’s affirmation of the vocation.

At this time of year some of our Collects use similar vocabulary, including slightly unusual words which spark our attention.  Last week we saw dux (“leader, guide, commander”) and rector (“ruler, leader, governor; helmsman”).  This week we have the similar term gubernator, “a steersman, pilot” or “a ruler, governor”.   During Ordinary Time there are groupings of Collects linked by vocabulary, theme, or images, (e.g., military, agricultural, judicial).  The Collects in the Novus Ordo are usually either derived from prayers in ancient sacramentaries or directly from orations in previous editions of the Missale Romanum.   Though they were taken from different times of the year in those sources, they are now grouped together.  This must have been a conscious choice.


Father of everlasting goodness, our origin and guide, be close to us and hear the prayers of all who praise you. Forgive our sins and restore us to life. Keep us safe in your love.

What’s this I see?  Uncharacteristically, the old ICEL allowed the word “sins” into their version!   The old incarnation of ICEL consistently expunged references to sin, guilt, our humility, the possibility of hell for the unrepentant, propitiation, etc.


Be present to Your servants, O Lord, and grant Your unending kindness to those seeking it, so that You may restore favors to those who glory in having You as author and guide, and You may preserve them once restored.


Draw near to your servants, O Lord, and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness, that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide, you may restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored.

Take note of the unequal statuses of those to whom the Latin prayer refers.

On the one hand, God is our creator.  He directs our paths.  He is eternal and kind.  He gives gifts.  He can be present to us.  On the other hand, we are servants and needy seekers.  We need God’s favors. We must be grateful, for they are unattainable apart from His kindness.  We do not deserve anything apart from Him. Some of us, moreover, have lost God’s favors.  We are incomplete until He restores them to us. He will not restore them unless we beg Him in His kindness to do so. Because we are weak, God must preserve His gifts in us once He has given them back.

Our status as lowly servants is the key to everything we receive or regain.

The clear, cold reality of our neediness is today masterfully juxtaposed with the warming, reassuring confidence we find in God’s presence.

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VIDEO 1950 – Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral

A reader sent me a link to some 1950 Pathé film of a Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral, London.

Check out the TWO cappa recessional at about 5:15.

It skips around a lot and there are patches with no audio, but you get a sense of the event.  Also, you see what we don’t do in these USA, because there are no chapters of canons here.  Too bad.

Posted in Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Cong. for Worship considers (’bout time) more dignified “Sign of Peace”. POLL

I have posted polls about your feelings about the “Sign of Peace” during the Novus Ordo.

I saw this today at CNA:

Vatican announces desire for more restrained sign of peace at Mass

Vatican City, Jul 31, 2014 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for Divine Worship, in a recent circular letter, announced that the placement of the sign of peace within Mass will not change, though it suggested several ways the rite could be performed with greater dignity.  [NO!  Really?]

“The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments … pronounced in favor of maintaining the ‘rite’ and ‘sign’ of peace in the place it has now in the Ordinary of the Mass,” Fr. Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, secretary general of the Spanish bishops’ conference, related in a July 28 memo. [And it is up to the discretion of the celebrant.]

He noted that this was done out of consideration of the placement of the rite of peace as “a characteristic of the Roman rite,” and “not believing it to be suitable for the faithful to introduce structural changes in the Eucharistic Celebration, at this time.”

The sign of peace is made after the consecration and just prior to the reception of Communion; it had been suggested that it be moved so that it would precede the presentation of the gifts.

Fr. Gil’s memo was sent to the Spanish bishops, and prefaced the Congregation for Divine Worship’s circular letter, which was signed June 8 by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, its prefect, and its secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche. The circular had been approved and confirmed the previous day by Pope Francis. [The plot thickens!]

The letter made four concrete suggestions about how the dignity of the sign of peace could be maintained against abuses.

Fr. Gil explained that the circular letter is a fruit of the 2005 synod of bishops on the Eucharist, in which the possibility of moving the rite was discussed.

“During the Synod of Bishops there was discussion about the appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly just before the reception of Communion,” Benedict XVI wrote in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation ‘Sacramentum caritatis’.

He added that “I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar … taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers.”

An inspiration for the suggested change was Christ’s exhortation, at Mt. 5:23, that “if you remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your offering before the altar, and go be reconciled first.” It would also have brought the Roman rite into conformity, in that respect, with the Ambrosian rite, celebrated in Milan.

The Neo-Catechumenal Way, a lay movement in the Church, has already displaced the sign of peace, in its celebration of the Roman rite, to before the presentation of the gifts.

The Vatican congregation’s decision to maintain the placement of the sign of peace was the fruit of dialogue with the world’s bishops, which began in 2008, and in consultation with both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

The Congregation for Divine Worship said it would “offer some practical measures to better express the meaning of the sign of peace and to moderate excesses, which create confusion in the liturgical assembly just prior to Communion.” [The traditional liturgical method works well.]

“If the faithful do not understand and do not show, in their ritual gestures, the true significance of the right of peace, they are weakened in the Christian concept of peace, and their fruitful participation in the Eucharist is negatively affected.”

On this basis, the congregation offered four suggestions which are to form the “nucleus” of catechesis on the sign of peace.

First, while confirming the importance of the rite, it emphasized that “it is completely legitimate to affirm that it is not necessary to invite ‘mechanistically’ to exchange (the sign of) peace.[YES!] The rite is optional, the congregation reminded, and there certainly are times and places where it is not fitting.  [BOOYA!]

Its second recommendation was that as translations are made of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, bishops’ conference should consider “changing the way in which the exchange of peace is made.” It suggested in particular that “familiar and worldly gestures of greeting” should be substituted with “other, more appropriate gestures.”

The congregation for worship also noted that there are several abuses of the rite which are to be stopped: the introduction of a “song of peace,” which does not exist in the Roman rite; [I don't recall seeing that.]the faithful moving from their place to exchange the sign; the priest leaving the altar to exchange the sign with the faithful; and when, at occasions such as weddings or funerals, it becomes an occasion for congratulations or condolences.

The Congregation for Divine Worship’s final exhortation was that episcopal conferences prepare liturgical catechesis on the significance of the rite of peace, and its correct observation.

“The intimate relation between ‘lex orandi’ and ‘lex credendi’ should obviously be extended to ‘lex vivendi’,” the congregation’s letter concluded.

“That Catholics are today faced with the grave commitment to build a more just and peaceful world, implies a more profound understanding of the Christian meaning of peace and of its expression in liturgical celebration.”

It’s only been… how many decades?

Let’s rejoin the last POLL I posted, in progress.

Pick your best answer.

3rd ROUND: The congregation's "sign of peace" during (Novus Ordo) Mass

View Results

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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, POLLS | Tagged | 50 Comments

2 August until midnight: “Portiuncula” Plenary (or Partial) Indulgence

From midnight tonight to midnight 2 August, you can gain the “Portinuncula” Indulgence.

Catholic Encyclopedia

St. Francis, as you know, repaired three chapels. The third was popularly called the Portiuncula or the Little Portion, dedicated to St. Mary of the Angels. It is now enclosed in a sanctuary at Assisi.

The friars came to live at the Little Portion in early 1211. It became the “motherhouse” of the Franciscans. This is where St. Clare came to the friars to make her vows during the night following Palm Sunday in 1212 and where Sister Death came to Francis on 3 October 1226.

Because of the favors from God obtained at the Portiuncula, St. Francis requested the Pope to grant remission of sins to all who came there. The privilege extends beyond the Portiuncula to others churches, especially held by Franciscans, throughout the world.

A plenary indulgence is a mighty tool for works of mercy and weapon in our ongoing spiritual warfare. A plenary indulgence is the remission, through the merits of Christ and the saints, through the Church, of all temporal punishment due to sin already forgiven.

To obtain the Portiuncula plenary indulgence, a person must visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels at Assisi, or a Franciscan sanctuary, or one’s parish church, with the intention of honoring Our Lady of the Angels. Then perform the work of reciting the Creed and Our Father and pray for the Pope’s designated intentions. You should be free, at least intentionally, of attachment to venial and mortal sin, and truly repentant. Make your sacramental confession 8 days before or after. Participate at assist at Mass and receive Holy Communion 8 days before or after.

BTW… the faithful can gain a plenary indulgence on a day of the year he designates (cf. Ench. Indul. 33 1.2.d). You might choose the anniversary of your baptism or of another sacrament or name day.


My friend Fr. Finigan, His Hermeueticalness, has some excellent points and suggestions in his post about the Porticumcula indulgence.  HERE

He talks about a way to understand indulgences better, and provides links to his posts which explain how it is possible to obtain plenary indulgences, and also which days have special indulgences.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , | 4 Comments