My View For Awhile: Homeward

I’ve had enough heat for the time being.  Time to go.

At the airport TSA gave my bag their special attention (as I looked on) with all manner of care for restoring some decent order… not.   Thanks for that.

The airport here doesn’t have a club for my usual airline so I’m enjoying the sights and sounds of the concourse.   Always fun, right?

Now I get to watch my bag tracker and wonder where it’ll go this time.

Will Delta get it right today?



My bag was loaded on the same flight I’m on!

So we begin the 3 hour flight…


I am happy to report that my bag is on the same flight that I am on.  That’s a good start to the last leg.

I don’t know about the “service dog” thing in the cabin.  I see this pretty frequently now and, so far, there haven’t been any complications.  I only hope that the crew washes their hands after petting them and before starting beverage service.

The jury is out.

And do people really need to treat airplanes as if they were their bathrooms?   

Please people – if you don’t have socks keep your shoes on.   Is that too much for you to grasp?


It’ll be over soon.


I guess I should change this from draft to publish.

Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | 3 Comments

Possible “formal correction” of Pope Francis?

If you read the LifeSite account, you have the impression that Card. Burke may be going for the “formal correction” option.  HERE

They seemed to have based their piece on Part 2 of an interview with His Eminence which The Wanderer posted.  HERE

What does The Wanderer really say?

Q. [NB]Setting aside the question of timing, please explain how the process for the execution of a “formal correction” would proceed should a response to the five dubia not be forthcoming? How is a formal correction officially submitted, how is it addressed within the Church’s hierarchal structure, etc.?

BURKE: The process has not been frequently invoked in the Church, and not now for several centuries. There has been the correction of past Holy Fathers on significant points, but not in a doctrinal way. It seems to me that the essence of the correction is quite simple. On the one hand, one sets forth the clear teaching of the Church; on the other hand, what is actually being taught by the Roman Pontiff is stated. If there is a contradiction, the Roman Pontiff is called to conform his own teaching in obedience to Christ and the Magisterium of the Church. [He hasn’t said that something is going to be done.]

The question is asked, “How would this be done?” It is done very simply by a formal declaration to which the Holy Father would be obliged to respond. Cardinals Brandmüller, Caffarra, Meisner, and I used an ancient institution in the Church of proposing dubia to the Pope.

This was done in a very respectful way and not in any way to be aggressive, in order to give him the occasion to set forth the Church’s unchanging teaching. Pope Francis has chosen not to respond to the five dubia, so it is now necessary simply to state what the Church teaches about marriage, the family, acts that are intrinsically evil, and so forth. [He still hasn’t said anything that indicates that he will undertake a special process.] These are the points that are not clear in the current teachings of the Roman Pontiff; therefore, this situation must be corrected. The correction would then direct itself principally to those doctrinal points. [“would” not “will”]

There have been cases, as I mentioned, of the correction of past Roman Pontiffs on non-doctrinal points where cardinals have gone to the Holy Father on one thing or the other such as, for example, matters dealing with administration of the Church.

Another question can also be raised. The Pope is the principle of unity of the bishops and all the faithful. However, the Church is being torn asunder right now by confusion and division. The Holy Father must be called on to exercise his office to put an end to this.

So then, the next step would be a formal declaration stating the clear teachings of the Church as set forth in the dubia. Furthermore, it would be stated that these truths of the Faith are not being clearly set forth by the Roman Pontiff. In other words, instead of asking the questions as was done in the dubia, the formal correction would be stating the answers as clearly taught by the Church.

So, the Cardinal describes what we pretty much know already.  He speaks in vague terms about what “would be” done.

It seems to me that we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions about this.  I don’t have the sense that something is about to take place any day now.

Meanwhile, do you know what you could do to help the overall situation?


We can resist cloudy, hazy, vague claims by those who want to undermine the Church’s perennial teachings.  Ask questions… well-informed questions.

Form small groups – little “base communities” – and start reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church together, and perhaps other documents such as Familiaris consortio and Veritatis splendor.

The moderation queue is ON.


Posted in The Drill | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Speaking of the Prayer For Vocations…



From a priest in the UK…

We have printed the Vocations Prayer you recommended for our parish in three designs and we say it at Mass every Sunday, and I also use it at Benediction during the week. I believe it has already begun to bear some fruit. Thank you!

This is great news.


Nice designs.

Folks, this isn’t hard.

However, may I recommend NOT changing the “thee”s and “thou”s?   In my opinion, it rings better with the original language.

That said, I am eager to know what happens in the places where this prayer is implemented and used for a solid period of time.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Mail from priests, The future and our choices | Tagged | 6 Comments

ASK FATHER: Penance given in confession was too vague

italian confessional pilgrimsFrom a reader…


In line with your recent ASK FATHER postings on Confession, I have a question about vague penance given in Confession. We attend the local TLM and it is difficult to make it to Confession because the lines are always so long. My wife really wanted to make sure she made it to Confession, so she went to the nearest Novus Ordo parish where there is hardly anyone in line. She came back and told me the penance she was given was “to follow her heart” in a certain matter. Neither of us could figure out how to determine the fulfillment of such a penance. Is the absolution she received valid even though she could not be sure she completed her penance? She was so frustrated by this situation that she was nearly in tears.

I get this a lot and I have written about it before.  No wonder there is a difference in the length of lines.  Too bad.

FIRST: The absolution was valid.

Remember, every penance is arbitrary and cannot possibly be commensurate with offending God.

Contrary to some of the evidence, not all priests who give these sloppy, syrupy vague “penances” are nitwits.  They mean well.  They simply haven’t a) learned much about the confessional, or b) thought much about what they are doing.  They think they are being “nice”, or “pastoral” or… whatever.

I would ask them: Why risk leaving penitents confused and anxious about their confession and their penance?  Is that being “nice”?  Is that “pastoral”?

Wanna know what’s pastoral?  CLARITY.

To review, priests must give penances to penitents and penitents are obliged to fulfill penances themselves (can. 981 – they can’t pay someone else to do the penance for them, for example).  The penance should be clear, reasonable and doable in a reasonable period of time.  Common sense, right?

It should be clear: “Think a nice though about someone,” isn’t clear.  How do you know when you have done it?

It should be reasonable: “Rebuild with your own hands old St. Ugthred’s Church, which has been abandoned since 1923.”  Most people can’t do that.

It should be doable in a reasonable time frame: “Say the rosary for 100 days… Travel to the Shrine of Our Lady at La Vang, Vietnam… Next Easter Sunday (months away) do X… Obtain and watch this movie which I like and watch it….”

All of those theoretical penances are problematic.

Fathers… especially you NEW priests… assign/suggest something the penitent can complete before leaving the church.  Thus, short prayers are good penances.

And remember, validity of absolution is not contingent on the penance that is assigned.  Yes, we penitents must do our best to do some penance and we have a strong motivation to take the penance that the priest assigns seriously.  But sometimes these well-meaning nitwits suggest something incomprehensible or undoable.  So, we get out of the box, scratch our heads, and do something else that’s meaningful.  Or, if there is time and opportunity, go to a different confessor, explain the situation, and get guidance about what to do.  Not everyone has that option.

But, if you get one of these dopey penances, like “be nice to someone” or “think a happy thought”, go ahead and think a happy thought (“I’m happy when I go to confession somewhere else!”, or choose to be nice (“I’ll be nice, and not ‘penny’ the door to the confessional!”).

Then go be serious and pleased that you received absolution.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, GO TO CONFESSION | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

URGENT: VIDEO Live stream of annual Assumption Mass!

As I write, there is a LIVE stream of the wonderful annual Solemn Mass for the Assumption sponsored by Mater Ecclesiae and my good friend Fr. Pasley.  HERE

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 1 Comment

What a contrast to the tensions over Confederate statues!


I picked this up from a tweet by a friend:

In a nutshell:

A WWII Marine vet travelled to Japan to give a flag to the family of the fallen soldier from whom he had taken it during the Battle of Saipan.

A taste…


World War II veteran Marvin Strombo traveled 10,000 miles from his quiet home in Montana to the land of the rising sun to personally return a Japanese flag he had taken from Sadao Yasue during the Battle of Saipan in June 1944.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran carried the flag with him decades after his time serving as a scout sniper with 6th Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division. He cared for the flag meticulously and never once forgot the promise he made to Yasue as he took the flag from him in the midst of war.

As a young corporal, Strombo looked up from his position on the battlefield, he noticed he became separated from his squad behind enemy lines. As he started heading in the direction of the squad’s rally point, he came across a Japanese soldier that lay motionless on the ground.

“I remember walking up to him,” said Strombo. “He was laying on his back, slightly more turned to one side. There were no visible wounds and it made it look almost as if he was just asleep. I could see the corner of the flag folded up against his heart. As I reached for it, my body didn’t let me grab it at first. I knew it meant a lot to him but I knew if I left it there someone else might come by and take it. The flag could be lost forever. I made myself promise him, that one day, I would give back the flag after the war was over.”

As years went on, Strombo kept true to his promise to one day deliver the heirloom. It was not until the fateful day he acquainted himself with the Obon Society of Astoria, Oregon, that he found a way to Yasue’s family.


Posted in I'm just askin'..., Just Too Cool, Pò sì jiù, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Assumption: The 4th Glorious Mystery

NB: Today, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we can begin a 54 Day Novena!

Here is something I posted back in 2006 for my “Patristic Rosary Project”.  I drill into into the Mysteries we reflect on during recitation of the Rosary using the lens of texts from the Fathers of the Church. I will have to return to that PRP one day and do some editing and expanding. In the meantime, … here is the post relevant to today’s beautiful feast.


4th Glorious Mystery: The Assumption

Although Ven. Pius XII refers to Mary’s death in the document whereby he declared infallibly the dogma of the Assumption, and Bl. John Paul II adverts to Mary’s death in a General Audience in 1997 – as do other saintly writers – we do not have from the Church a definitive or infallible teaching beyond a shadow of a doubt whether Mary died and then was assumed body and soul into heaven at that moment or if she was assumed without dying.  That said, it was certainly fitting that, if her Divine Son tasted death, then she would as well.

Even in the Eastern tradition, which speaks of the Dormition, the Sleeping, of Mary we have a sub-current of death.  Greek ???????? gives us ??????????? or Latin coemeterium, whence English “cemetery”, which is a “sleeping place”. Traditions are divided about her last earthly breaths. Some authors hold that she did not die before her Assumption. There is also a strong tradition that she was buried.

Perhaps a good explanation is that Our Blessed Mother, desiring to be like her Son, who did die, chose herself to die though Satan had no hold on her.  It was fitting that she, the daughter of her Son and disciple of Her Lord, should be as He was.  So, after a brief interval during which no corruption touched her, her soul and body were reunited in heaven in the presence of God.

In any event, we know with our Catholic faith, and by infallible authority, that at the end of her earthly life, the Mother of God was assumed into heaven and no stain of the corruption of the grave touched her.

Our humanity is seated at the right hand of the Father in the divine Person of our Lord, but now also in the human person of our Lady.

Christ is consubtantial with the Father. Christ is consubstantial with His Mother.

Mary is Mother of a divine Person with two natures. She is not Mother of part of Christ, but Mother of all of Christ in His integrity. And so, we can call her Mother of God and Mother of the Church. Her heavenly Assumption was fitting.

There are not elaborate reflections in the writings of the Fathers on the Assumption, because it was not a main point of theological interest for them. Still, we can find their thoughts on some passages of Scripture which help us to understand Mary’s role in the plan of our salvation.

As a perfect model for our own Christian discipleship, we can consider, among many texts, Proverbs 8:

And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death.

While this concerns Wisdom, in a sense it harks to Mary, Wisdom’s seat. Here is the reflection of Athenagoras on this section of Proverbs:

[The Son] is the first offspring of the Father, I do not mean that He was created, for, since God is eternal mind, He had His Word within Himself from the beginning, being eternally wise. Rather did the Son come forth from God to give form and actuality to all material things, which essentially have a sort of formless nature and inert quality, the heavier particles being mixed up with the lighter. The prophetic Spirit agrees with this opinion when He says, “The Lord created me as the first of His ways, for His works.” Indeed we say that the Holy Spirit Himself, who inspires those who utter prophecies, is an effluence from God, flowing from Him, and returning like ray of the sun. Who, then, would not be astonished to hear those called atheists who admit God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and who teach their unity of power and their distinction in rank? … We affirm, too, a crowd of angels and ministers, whom God, the maker and creator of the world, appointed to their several tasks through His Word, He gave them charge over the good order of the universe, over the elements, the heavens, the world, and all it contains. [A plea regarding Christians 10]

This fellow sounds a bit like a subordinationist, but he is fascinating. This passage is interesting also for its hints at the cosmology and physics of late antiquity. Also, it aims at the spiritual hierarchy in which our wondrous Lady has a privileged place.

Consider that the reward of assumption into the beatific vision stems as well from her perfect act of free will when she gave her “Fiat” to God’s will as expressed by the angel. Here is St. Augustine speaking of the impact of free will:

Man in paradise was capable of self-destruction by abandoning justice by an act of will; yet if the life of justice was to be maintained, his will alone would not have sufficed, unless He who made Him glad had given him aid. But, after the fall, God’s mercy was even more abundant, for then the will itself had to be freed from the bondage in which sin and death are the masters. There is no way at all by which it can be freed by itself, but only though God’s grace, which is made effectual in the faith of Christ. Thus, as it is written, even the will by which “the will itself is prepared by the Lord” so that we may receive the other gifts of God through which we come to the Gift eternal – this too comes from God. [Enchiridion 28.106]

God’s grace and Mary’s “Fiat” which was by grace. Mary was drawn with love into God’s plan and, later, into God’s presence. The Fathers made frequent use of the Song of Songs. St. Gregory the Great writes about the exchanges of heaven and earth which marked the plan of salvation:

The Church speaks through Solomon: “See how he comes leaping on the mountains, bounding over the hill!” … By coming for our redemption the Lord leaped! My friends, do you want to become acquainted with these leaps of His? From heaven He came to the womb, from the womb to the manger, from the manger to the Cross, from the Cross to the sepulcher, and from the sepulcher He returned to heaven. You see how Truth, having made Himself known in the flesh, leaped for us to make us run after Him. [Forty Gospel Homilies 29]

Our Lady, who would feel Christ leap beneath her heart, herself leapt after Christ in her heart by her “Fiat”. She leapt to begin His public ministry when she said at Cana “Do whatever He tell you.” She leapt up Calvary with Him when the Blood and water flowed down. Her motherly and Christian heart leapt in joy in seeing Him gloriously risen. She leapt to Him in heaven when her earthly life was concluded.

In heaven Mary shines with the glory God shares with her. In the book of Revelation we have a description chapter 12 of the woman clothed with the sun. The Fathers speak about this image. They will mostly consider the woman as an image of the Church. We cannot reduce the Church to Mary. Nor in talking of the Church as Christ’s Body reduce Christ to the Church. But the three, Christ, Mary and Church are intimately associated. Hippolytus (+245) writes:

By the “woman clothed with the sun”, he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father’s Word, whose brightness is above the sun. And by “the moon under her feet,” he referred to [the Church] being adorned, like the moon, with heavenly glory. And the words “upon her head a crowd of twelve stars” refer to the twelve apostles by whom the Church was founded.

Of course Christ founded the Church on the Apostles, and chiefly upon the Rock who is Peter. The description of the woman, however, fits Mary the Mother of the Church as well as the Church herself. Here is an extended piece by someone not too many in the West may read, Oecumenius (6th c.) called the “Rhetor” who wrote the earliest Greek commentary on Revelation:

The vision intends to describe more completely to us the circumstances concerning the antichrist…. However, since the incarnation of the Lord, which made the world his possession and subjected it, provided a pretext for Satan to raise this one up and to choose him [as his instrument] – for the antichrist will be raised to cause the world again to fall from Christ and to persuade it to desert to Satan – and since moreover His fleshly conception and birth was the beginning of the incarnation of the Lord, the vision gives a certain order and sequence to the material that it is going to discuss and begins the discussion from the fleshly conception of the Lord by portraying for us the mother of God. What does he say? “And a sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sum and the moon was under her feet.” As we said, it is peaking about the mother of our Savior. The vision appropriately depicts her as in heaven and not on the earth, for she is pure in soul and body, equal to an angel and a citizen of heaven. She possesses God who rests in heaven – “for heaven is my throne” – it says yet she is flesh, although she has nothing in common with the earth nor is there any evil in her. Rather, she is exalted, wholly worthy of heaven, even though she possesses our human nature and substance. For the Virgin is consubstantial with us. Let the impious teaching of Eutyches, which make the fanciful claim that the Virgin is of another substance than we, be excluded from the belief of the holy courts together with his other opinions. And what does it mean that she was clothed with the sun and the moon was under her feet? The holy prophet Habakkuk, prophesied concerning the Lord, saying, “The sun was lifted up, and the moon stood still in its place for light.” calling Christ our Savior, or at least the proclamation of the gospel, the “sun of righteousness”. When He was exalted and increased, the moon – that is, the law of Moses – “stood still” and no longer received any addition. For after the appearance of Christ, it no longer received proselytes from the nations as before but endured diminution and cessation. You will, therefore, observe this with me, that also the holy Virgin is covered by the spiritual sun. For this is what the prophet calls the Lord when concerning Israel he says, “Fire fell upon them, and they did not see the sun.” But the moon, that is, the worship and citizenship according to the law, being subdued and become much less than itself, is under her feet, for it has been conquered by the brightness of the gospel. And rightly does he call the things of the law by the word “moon”, for they have been given light by the sun, that is, Christ just as the physical moon is given its light by the physical sun. The point would have been better made had it said not that the woman was clothed with the sun but that the woman enclothed the sun, which was enclosed in her womb. However, that the vision might show that the Lord, who was being carried in the womb, was the shelter of His own mother and the whole creation, it says that He was enclothing the woman. Indeed, the holy angel said something similar to the holy Virgin: “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” For to overshadow is to protect, and to enclothe is the same according to power. [Commentary on the Apocalypse 12.1-2]

Take careful note of the image drawn on by the interesting Oecumenius, which also speaks to the cosmology of late antiquity. First, Oecumenius either knew that the sun gave light to the moon, as it does, or he extrapolates this from the glory that Christ gives to Mary.

All our Marian feasts, all our reflection, to keep the sunlight and moon theme going, always must draw us back to the Person of the Lord. We reflect on the face of the Lord who is reflected in the face of His Mother.

Our recitation of the Rosary brings us to know the Lord more and more and, in turn, know ourselves better.

We reflect His image and likeness and He came into the word to reveal us more fully to ourselves.

Posted in Linking Back, Our Solitary Boast, Patristiblogging, Patristic Rosary Project | Tagged , | 4 Comments

VIDEO: Pius XII declaring the Dogma of the Assumption

The fabled pastor of my home parish, the late Msgr. Richard Schuler told stories about being in Rome when Ven. Pius XII infallibly declared the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin to be a dogma of the Faith.  He was present for the procession with the icon of Salus Populi Romani and for the proclamation.

Here is a video about the event in 1950.

And there is this… just after 26:00 you hear Pius reading the actual Proclamation of the Dogma.

Posted in Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Solitary Boast | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

IN THE WILD: “Prayer For Vocations” spotted

I had a great text cross-country SMS from a colleague in the TMSM this morning at a little church in Shell Lake, WI.  Here is a poster at the parish…


First, I am delighted that they found – note the date of copyright – 2011 – and used the prayer I have been pushing.  My only complaint is dumbing it down a bit, “ask” in place of “beseech”, for example.  That said, Fr. Z kudos to them.  I suspect that someone there found it either at St. Agnes Church in St. Paul (my home parish, where it was/is prayed during all Sunday Masses), or from one of my articles in The Wanderer years ago, or from an old post on this blog.   Alternately, perhaps the former Bishop there, originally from St. Paul, knew of it somehow.

I don’t care where they got it.  Heck… maybe from the original prayer card!

For those of you who don’t know the back story, here is something from one of my posts here, not long ago:


We have to get down on our knees constantly and pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  Let’s not pray for generic “vocations”, lumping them all together.  No.  We need a public, manifest, constant call for vocations to the priesthood from our own homes and families, not someone else’s.

At the parish where I serve, the pastor and I had cards printed with an old prayer for vocations used at my home parish, where there was on average a First Mass every year.   From now on, at every Sunday and Holy Day Mass, after the Gospel and before the announcements and sermon, everyone will kneel and say this prayer:

LEADER: Please kneel for our prayer for vocations.  Let us as God to give worthy priests, brothers and sisters to His Holy Church.

ALL: O God, we earnestly beseech Thee to bless this (arch)diocese with many priests, brothers and sisters, who will gladly spend their entire lives to serve Thy Church and to make Thee known and loved.

LEADER: Bless our families. Bless our children.

ALL: Choose from our homes those who are needed for Thy work.

LEADER: Mary, Queen of the Clergy!

ALL: Pray for us. Pray for our priests and religious. Obtain for us many more.

A friend back home – whom I miss rather a lot – sent me one of the original holy cards, which I prize.



Note that key line:

Choose from our homes those who are needed for Thy work.

We had cards made with beautiful artwork on the front and this very prayer on the back.  Soon it will be so much a part of the regular Sunday and Holy Day practice that everyone will know it by heart.  It will ring in the ears of young people and keep the idea of a religious vocations constantly present and active.  I don’t doubt the outcome.

This is an ACTION ITEM.   Fathers, consider implementing this in your parishes.  And don’t junk the prayer up with additions about “married life” or “single life” or “permanent deacons”.  Just leave it as it is.  We’ve done the heavy lifting by already printing the cards if you want to drop a line.

Lay people!  Especially you who are in sound parishes!  Go to your priests with this post and ask them to implement a prayer for vocations to the priesthood.  Keep at them.


Posted in Just Too Cool, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries | Tagged , | 6 Comments

ASK FATHER: Show tune priest sings Eucharistic Prayer

From a reader…


My pastor (who likes to sing) sings from the beginning of the Canon to the end of the Consecration. It’s not a Gregorian sound, more like something from Les Miserables Broadway play. Is this a legitimate thing to do when celebrating Mass? He has a way of being the focus of the Liturgy. I could usually tune him out but this was too much for me. I avoid his masses, but pray for his conversation. Thank you. You and all Our Lady’s Warriors are in my prayers.


The Church has long put an emphasis on music in our Sacred Liturgy. Even before the renaissance, the most skilled and gifted musicians have found employ in the Church, and the result is a long and broad tradition of some of the most transcendent music the world has known. Da Celano, Palestrina, Ockeghem, des Prez, Clemens non Papa, through Byrd, Tallis, Gabrieli, to Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Durufle, Gounod, Franck, Faure, Monteverdi… and now? Who are the heirs picking up the musical threads of these giants? Who are the contemporary musicians whose names will be voiced in hushed reverence hundreds of years from now as collegiate choirs struggle to bring out the subtle nuances of… Sing a New Song? Eagles’ Wings? I am the Bread of Life?

Lamentation, wailing, and woe…

But back to the question at hand. For centuries, in the Roman Rite, the Canon was said sotto voce. Recited, quietly, often under the rapturous sound of a choir and orchestra, or even just a schola of men filling the hearts and souls of the congregation with sounds that echo from the heavens themselves. And then, for the consecration itself, profound and stunning silence. At the moment when the veil between heaven and earth is lifted, the church would be nearly silent, as the priest whispers those blessed words of Our Savior that make His Presence Real and Sacramental.

In many of the other liturgical Rites of the Church, the consecration was sung – the holy doors to the sanctuary being shut, the priest would offer this anaphora to the Father vocally, though the laity would not see what was happening. Which led to the old saw that in the West, the consecration was seen but not heard, and in the East, it was heard but not seen.

But we’re in the here and now.

Musicam Sacram was promulgated in 1967 by the Sacred Congregation for Rites, and encouraged, in the Latin Rite, that the liturgy be chanted – even in its entirety. When Paul VI promulgated his Missal in 1969, provisions were made for the chanting of the Eucharistic Prayer, even the Words of Institution. In the current edition of the Missale Romanum, there is chant notation available for chanting the Eucharistic Prayer. Though other melodies would need the approval of the Bishops’ Conference (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #393), in practice, it would be difficult to stop Fr. George M. Cohan or Fr. Andrew Llyod Webber from attempting to sing a new church into being and imposing his musical sensibilities (or not) on a helpless congregation.

Were it not such a sacred moment, one might be inclined to pass out large posters among the parishioners in the front row and, when he’s done, flash a score back at him – 5.4, 8.6, 6.4, and from the Romanian judge, 1.3. One might even be inclined to throw roses, or, as the case may warrant, tomatoes.

Were it not such a sacred moment, that is.

In short, chanting the Eucharistic Prayer is now permitted, including the consecration. One must remember, that not all things which are permitted are therefore good.


Many years ago I learned from a great Church musician, the late Msgr Richard Schuler, that there is no one exclusively right way to sing the prayers.  Besides, singing the Canon is a novelty in the Roman Rite, one of those innovations that the Council Fathers warned about.  That said, there are tones which, over the years, have proven themselves and have become virtually codified.  It’s really a good idea to stick to them, because they help to keep us from makingfools out of ourselves.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

ASK FATHER: During confession can a priest require a criminal to turn herself in?

seal of confessionFrom a reader…


EWTN is reporting that the Australian government is trying to make priests mandatory reporters for child abuse, by requiring them to report what they hear in confession. While this is, obviously, a direct assault on the sacrament, it’s the next part of the report that puzzles me…

In the statement, Francis Sullivan, CEO council, said that while the Catholic Church and the council itself “have consistently argued that these reporting provisions should not apply to the confessional, the Royal Commission has now made a different determination based on information and evidence it has heard over the past four years.”

“The whole concept of confession in the Catholic Church is built on repentance, forgiveness and penance,” Sullivan said, adding that “if a child sex-abuser is genuinely seeking forgiveness through the sacrament of confession they will need to be prepared to do what it takes to demonstrate their repentance.”

Part of this, he said, especially in cases of sexual abuse, “would normally require they turn themselves in to the police. In fact the priest can insist that this is done before dispensing absolution.”  [?!?]

Is this part true?

Well… NO! it isn’t.

And, sort of, yes it is.  We have to make distinctions.

First, NO! The priest cannot make absolution conditional upon a criminal turning herself in.  To wit: “I won’t give you absolution unless you turn yourself in.”

However, a priest can withhold absolution if he does not believe, on a firm grounding, that the penitent is truly sorry.

Hence, a priest can strongly urge, firmly counsel, warmly encourage a penitent to “do the right thing”, that is, conform her amended life to the dictates of justice.  However, if he has a moral certainty that the penitent is penitent and intends to amend her life, he should not withhold absolution.

When we commit a sin, we violate others, God and neighbor. Justice is the virtue which governs how we give to others that which is due to them.  If we hurt another person, we have to make some kind of restitution.  Often perfect or full restitution is incomplete and arbitrary.  In the case of God, we limited mortals cannot do anything proportioned to God’s infinite goodness.  All the penances we get in the confessional are arbitrary in that sense.  Also, how do we truly make things up to people, or society, whom we have harmed? We have to do something, of course, in justice.  Things will get sorted out in our Particular and, especially, General Judgment at the end of things.

So, upon hearing about some serious crime or other, one that means a lot more than speeding or unpaid parking tickets, the priest has to advise the penitent to do the right thing.  He can urge the person to turn herself in, but he can’t impose that as a condition of being absolved.

Part of the reason for that is found implictly also in the canons in the Code of Canon Law covering the Seal.

Can.  983 §1: The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.

Can.  984 §1. A confessor is prohibited completely from using knowledge acquired from confession to the detriment of the penitent even when any danger of revelation is excluded.

Can. 983 doesn’t explicitly deal with the issue at hand, that is, requiring a penitent to turn herself in in order to receive absolution.  However, the Seal would be implicitly violated, because the direction of the priest to go to authorities would indirectly result in his causing the contents of the confession to be revealed to third parties.  Priests cannot act on the information they receive “in any manner”, which includes constraining a criminal to (as his proxy instrument of the revelation of information) reveal herself as such even if the crime was a really serious one.

Moreover, can. 984 clearly states that a confessor may not use what he hears during a confession “to the detriment of a penitent”.  One possible detriment would be that, by so directing, the priest could undermine the penitent’s trust and attachment and future use of the Sacrament of Penance, not to mention other detriments.

Furthermore, the validity of the absolution imparted by the priest does not depend on the completion of a penance assigned.

So, NO, priests cannot “force” penitents to turn themselves in as a condition for absolution.

It is possible, however, that the priest, having heard several times the confession of the same criminal who hasn’t done anything yet to “do the right thing”, might begin to wonder whether or not the penitent has the intention to amend her life.  That, of course, is another tale.

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, GO TO CONFESSION | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

ASK FATHER: Priest took ill at homily, another priest took over

15_10_06_De_defectibus_03First, I must remind readers that, to ask a question – ASK FATHER Question Box – please use the ASK FATHER contact form in the top menu.  Don’t just send questions, even if you have some prior email contact with me.  I can’t do things that way.  Use the contact form.  I generally just delete what I don’t recognize.  And short is good.

That said, this is one I didn’t delete.

From a reader…


Unfortunately, the Monsignor saying mass yesterday fell ill during the homily. […]

The homilist had been in the confessional during the Mass of the Catechumens before coming out to give the homily. He quickly vested and was able to take over and complete the mass, starting with the Credo.

A question was posed later by a curious parishioner as to whether the priest should have started over from the beginning or if it was ok for him to start at the point Monsignor had gotten to… […]

This situation is foreseen in the document De defectibus … Concerning Defects… that might be encountered during Mass.  It is found in the front part of the traditional Missale Romanum.  It was elminated – to our tragedy, disgrace, and woe – for the “reformed” rites after Vatican II.   I suppose they thought that it was too rigid.  In any event, De defectibus describes all sorts of situations that come up in the course of time and says how they ought to be handled.

I suppose one justification for ejecting De defectibus, apart from the antinomian spirit stemming from an overly optimistic view of man in an era of revolution that was sweeping away order in our worship of God, was that rubrics were long considered the stuff of moral theology.  De defectibus also states that if the priest himself does something wrong, he would sin either venially or mortally.  Indeed, the explicit statement of mortal sin for abuses, kept priests in check.  Granted that, in the hands of some of the Jansenistic tendency that could also lead to scrupulousness and a rigidity that many wanted to throw off when the 60s struck, but there was greater order and reverence in our liturgical worship of God and you didn’t have to wonder what strange variation you would encounter from church to church.

In the case wherein the celebrating priest for some reason or another is impeded from continuing Mass before the consecration, De defectibus instructs that Mass should be broken off… not continued at all.

Here is the text:

33. If before the Consecration the priest becomes seriously ill, or faints, or dies, the Mass is discontinued. [That was the situation described.]  If this happens after the consecration of the Body only and before the consecration of the Blood, or after both have been consecrated, the Mass is to be completed by another priest from the place where the first priest stopped, and in case of necessity even by a priest who is not fasting. If the first priest has not died but has become ill and is still able to receive Communion, and there is no other consecrated host at hand, the priest who is completing the Mass should divide the host, give one part to the sick priest and consume the other part himself. [Do you see the intimate unity of priest and Host?] If the priest has died after half-saying the formula for the consecration of the Body, then there is no Consecration and no need for another priest to complete the Mass. If, on the other hand, the priest has died after half- saying the formula for the consecration of the Blood, then another priest is to complete the Mass, repeating the whole formula over the same chalice from the words Simili modo, postquam cenatum est; or he may say the whole formula over another chalice which has been prepared, and consume the first priest’s host and the Blood consecrated by himself, and then the chalice which was left half-consecrated.
34. If anyone fails to consume the whole Sacrament aside from cases of necessity of this kind, he is guilty of very grave sin.

It goes on to describe the infamous “Spider Dilemma”, about which I have written in a jocular fashion before. HERE

But do you see how logical this is?

And, do you see how important it is all considered?

Can you contrast the spirit in these instructions with the attitude often encountered in many modern priests regarding care of the Eucharist?

So, Father should not have continued the Mass.  Mass is a whole.   Alas, in these days of lax and incomplete instruction – no fault of the priests’ in general – and in these days of rampant concelebration, which give the impression that herds of priests are all doing the same time so what’s the difference who says what, we encounter odd solutions to all too human situations.

Holy Church has been at this Mass thing for a looooong time, and she is the greatest expert in humanity that the world has ever known.  These situations do come up.  If you can think of one, it has probably happened… though I am not sure about whether or not we have had the instance of a priest being abducted by aliens after consecrating the Host but before the chalice… etc.   But De defectibus would probably sort it quickly.

De defectibus is really useful!

Reading De defectibus especially through the lens of Pope Benedict’s Post-Synodal Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis (which presents us with a reflection on the priest’s ars celebrandi) could be of enormous practical use to seminarians and younger priests today.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Your Good News

Do you have some good news for the readership?   It’s Monday, and we all need some.

For my part, Delta finely managed to produce my luggage… at 1:30 AM.  It only took them 5 hours to get it here from the airport, which is 20 minutes away.  But, it came intact and unmolested, or relatively so.   I think Delta should give me the miles that my bag racked up.  Maybe you could suggest the same to @Delta.

Also, this morning I went with friends to a coffee shop for breakfast and, as we were ordering, a young feller entered in a plain black cassock and fascia.  “Hmmm”, quoth I.  After we completed our orders, I marched over to him, introduced myself, and invited him to sit with us, which invitation he accepted.  As it turns out he is a priest of the SSPX, visiting family (hence, not stationed here).  He explained that he had come to the excellent coffee shop with his folks, and didn’t come there alone, but today – fortuitously – he did.  We had a great conversation.   I really like the SSPX priests whom I’ve met.  I look forward to the day we are together and without canonical conundrums.


Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged , | 22 Comments

A reader has fun with a seminarian, a great book, and an “ordination tambourine”

A seminarian sent this…

Hello Father,

I wanted to let you know that one of your readers, upon reading this post, sent me a copy of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s new book on the priesthood. I received it a few days ago – along with a tongue-in-cheek ordination tambourine. Thank you for the recommendation and suggestion! I look forward to reading the book.


You readers are the best.

Some of you who are new around here may not know of the huge hit song by former rapper Zuhlio inspired by the wymynpryst wannabe with her – I’m not making this up – “ordination tambourine”.   HERE (includes the lyrics – after Bob Dylan!)  And the backstory HERE.

The tune:

The book is…

Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today


Posted in Lighter fare, Parody Songs, Seminarians and Seminaries | Tagged | Leave a comment

LCWR UPDATE: Fidget Spinner, Mickey Mouse, and interesting gestures

Update from the annual meeting of the LCWR:

Not photoshopped:


What do you want to bet that some of these same gals back in March 2016, during the political campaign, accused Trump supporters of being Nazis when they raised their hands and promised to vote for him.


And there’s this:

Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word Teresa Maya took out a flashing fidget spinner as she closed the annual assembly for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

As the conference’s president, she promised the almost 800 sisters gathered before her on Aug. 11 that the presidential triumvirate will be a team that mirrors the trendy gadget: working in unison, producing color.

The ol’ Fidget Spinner approach.  I am reminded of their Great Swirly conflab a couple years ago.  HERE

Another annual gathering concluded on a high note.

Posted in Women Religious | Tagged , | 21 Comments