Vandalism of statues expands. What next?

Nitwits in California vandalized a statue of Bl. Junipero Serra. HERE

Nitwits in New Orleans vandalized a statue of – get this – St. Joan of Arc! It was spray painted with “Tear it down!”  HERE  The idiots thought it was a Confederate statue.

The problem.

First, Confederate memorials, next… who knows?   Churches and their statues.

Posted in The Coming Storm | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Fr Aidan Nichols: ‘Amoris Laetitia’ has led to an “extremely grave” situation

17_06_27_AAS_AmorisWhen Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, has an opinion, it’s a good idea to pay attention.

Fr. Nichols is concerned about what is happening because of Amoris laetitia.

From the Catholic Herald:

Leading theologian: change canon law to correct papal errors

Fr Aidan Nichols, a prolific author who has lectured at Oxford and Cambridge as well as the Angelicum in Rome, said that Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia had led to an “extremely grave” situation.

Fr Nichols proposed that, given the Pope’s statements on issues including marriage and the moral law, the Church may need “a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error”.

The Dominican theologian said that this procedure might be less “conflictual” if it took place during a future pontificate, rather as Pope Honorius was only condemned for error after he had ceased to occupy the chair of Peter. [Honoris (+638), desiring to avoid the notion that Christ had two wills in conflict with each other, strayed towards the heresy of Monothelitism, the error that Christ has but one will. Constantinople III condemned him in 680. That said, later it has been concluded that the Pope didn’t formally teach error.]

Fr Nichols was speaking at the annual conference in Cuddesdon of an ecumenical society, the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, to a largely non-Catholic audience.  [Oh dear.]

He said the judicial process would “dissuade popes from any tendency to doctrinal waywardness or simple negligence”, and would answer some “ecumenical anxieties” of Anglicans, Orthodox and others who fear that the pope has carte blanche to impose any teaching. “Indeed, it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of primacy in this regard.”


He has not publicly commented on Amoris Laetitia until now, but was a signatory to a leaked letter from 45 priests and theologians to the College of Cardinals. The letter asked the cardinals to request a clarification from the Pope to rule out heretical and erroneous interpretations of the exhortation.

In his paper Fr Nichols mentioned some of the same concerns as the letter: he noted, for instance, that Amoris Laetitia could seem to imply that the monastic life was not a higher state than marriage – a view condemned as heretical by the Council of Trent.

The exhortation has also been interpreted as arguing that the divorced and remarried can receive Communion without endeavouring to live “as brother and sister”. This contradicts the perennial teaching of the Church, reaffirmed by Popes St John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  [Yes, it does.  AL is objectively ambiguous on this point, open to bad interpretation.]

Fr Nichols said that this interpretation, which Pope Francis has reportedly approved, would introduce into the Church “a previously unheard-of state of life. Put bluntly, this state of life is one of tolerated concubinage.” [Did you get that?  “TOLERATED CONCUBINAGE”.   Card. Kasper referred to “tolerated, but not accepted”.]

But Fr Nichols said the way in which Amoris Laetitia argued for “tolerated concubinage” (without using the phrase) was potentially even more harmful. He quoted the exhortation’s description of a conscience which “recognizes that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the demands of the Gospel” but sees “with a certain moral security…what for now is the most generous response.” Fr Nichols said this seemed to say “that actions condemned by the law of Christ can sometimes be morally right or even, indeed, requested by God.”  [Which undermines everything we believe about Christ.]

This would contradict the Church’s teaching that some acts are always morally wrong, Fr Nichols said.

He also drew attention to the statement – presumably referring to attempts to live continently – that someone “may know full well the rule yet…be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin”. Fr Nichols noted that the Council of Trent had solemnly condemned the idea that “the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace.” Amoris Laetitia seemed to say that it is not always possible or even advisable to follow the moral law.  [AL is open to bad interpretations.  And those who wanted their heterodoxy and heteropraxis confirmed have indeed chosen the bad interpretation.]

If such general statements about moral acts were correct, Fr Nichols said, “then no area of Christian morality can remain unscathed.”

He said that it would be preferable to think that the Pope had been merely “negligent” in his language, rather than actively teaching error. But this seemed doubtful, given the reports that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had suggested corrections to Amoris Laetitia, and was ignored.  [Nichols seems to have built a case.]

Cardinal Raymond Burke has publicly discussed making a formal correction of the Pope. However, Fr Nichols said that neither the Western nor Eastern Codes of Canon Law contain a procedure “for enquiry into the case of a pope believed to have taught doctrinal error, much less is there provision for a trial.”

Fr Nichols observed that the tradition of canon law is that “the first see is judged by no-one.” But he said that the First Vatican Council had restricted the doctrine of papal infallibility, so that “it is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor.  [Yes, Pope’s can teach error.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t guarantee the veracity of everything they teach.]

“He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom…but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly given the piety that has surrounded the figures of the popes since the pontificate of Pius IX, this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better.” [Like certain gnostic papalatrous writers at CRUX, whom I shall not name.] Given the limits on papal infallibility, canon law might be able to accommodate a formal procedure for inquiring into whether a pope had taught error.

Fr Nichols said that bishops’ conferences had been slow to support Pope Francis, probably because they were divided among themselves; but he said that the Pope’s “programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, generally of the closet variety, have in the fairly recent past been appointed to high positions both in the world episcopate and in the ranks of the Roman Curia.[To our horror.]

Fr Nichols said that there was “a danger of possible schism”, but that it was unlikely and not as immediate a danger as “the spread of a moral heresy”. The view which Amoris Laetitia apparently contains would, if it passed without correction, “increasingly be regarded as at the very least an acceptable theological opinion. And that will do more damage than can easily be repaired.

He concluded that the law of the Church will live on, because of those who “give the law life by faithfulness in love”.

Yes, friends, there is now a danger of the spread of moral heresy.  You hear it and read it more and more often now.

We need saints to rise up in our day.  We also need lay people, the rank and file, to put their noses collectively into books like the Catechism of the Catholic Church and get informed.

Friends, get together with your friends and form “Base Communities of Resistance” against the “danger of moral heresy”.

There are many editions.  Here is but one.


Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Be The Maquis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Pò sì jiù, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

To those shushing Convert Muzzlers…

Take THIS!

Marcus Grodi, of the Coming Home Network, has a new book just for YOU.

From Atheism to Catholicism


I wonder if there is anyone out there who knows converts as Marcus Grodi does.

No, but wait… converts should just hold their tongues and go to the back of the bus.  At least that’s what guys like THIS want.

Posted in Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , | 1 Comment

NEW MUSIC DISC from St Paul’s Boys Choir in Harvard Square

I have posted in the past about wonderful music CDs by the St. Paul’s Boys Choir in Harvard Square.  If you don’t have their Christmas disc, you are in for a treat.  The choir has a new recording!

Here is a tiny sample, little clips, so you can have an idea.

It is available for PRE-ORDER now and it will be released on 8 September (Nativity of Mary).


The choir was founded by, Theodore Marier, an old friend of my pastor, who was a legendary defender of Church music.  It is directed now John Robinson, from the UK, a fine director who really understands boys choirs.

What’s on the disc?  Quite a variety.

1. Ave Maria By: Josef Gabriel Rheinberger
2. Virga Jesse floruit By: Anton Bruckner
3. Stabat mater dolorosa By: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
4. Bist du bei mir By: Johann Sebastian Bach
5. Gaude, Virgo mater By: Josquin des Prez
6. Reges Tharsis – Gregorian chant
7. Da nobis pacem By: Felix Mendelssohn
8. Kyrie (from Missa Papae Marcelli) By: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
9. Dignus est Agnus – Gregorian chant
10. Angels Ever Bright and Fair By: George Frideric Handel
11. Tu Trinitatis unitas By: Antonín Dvo?ák
12. Sub tuum praesidium By: Marc-Antoine Charpentier
13. Bogoroditse Dyevo By: Sergei Rachmaninoff
14. O salutaris hostia (from Messe brève) By: Léo Delibes
15. In paradisum By: Gabriel Fauré
16. O mysterium ineffabile By: Jean-François Lalouette
17. Nulla in mundo By: Antonio Vivaldi
18. A Song of Wisdom By: Charles Villiers Stanford

Posted in Just Too Cool, The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 3 Comments

How about this? “Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.”

Michael Sean Winters, the Wile e. Coyote of the liberal catholic Left at the Fishwrap, and hyper-liberal Massimo “Beans” Faggiolo at Villanova, and the papalatrous gnostic Austen Ivereigh at Crux have incited a little war on converts recently.

According to them, converts are tiresome, they should shut up, they shouldn’t express opinions, etc.  Sure, they also say, “We like converts too! Aren’t they great?”  And we believe that, right?

Ivereigh sort of apologized at Crux. Sort of. Ivereigh’s contribution was so worrisome that Crux editor – and recipient of lots of money from the Knights of Columbus – John Allen issued a new “Prime Directive” of niceness. HERE  Spin, by any other name.

Now, however – again at Crux – I see yet another convert piece by David Mills.  Mills has not been associated with the catholic Left.  On the contrary.  However,  lately he wrote for Pathe…os, Aletheia.

David Mills is a convert.

What’s the title of Mill’s piece at Crux

Newcomers to the Church should speak less, listen more

It astonishes me that people keep going to back to this third rail and jumping up and down on it.

I think all these people grumbling about converts are concerned because of the more conservative positions held by many visible converts who are well-known for speaking and writing on Catholic issues.

Let’s turn the sock inside out.  How about this:

  • Cradle Catholics should learn something about their Faith.
  • Cradle Catholics should go to Confession before Communion.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop shacking up and get married.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop contracepting at same rate as non-Catholics.
  • Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.

I don’t have stats at my finger tips, but I’ll wager that the converts the libs want to silence are more faithful in these matters than most cradle Catholics.

Let me be clear:

I have sympathy for the position that converts need to be patient and to learn and.. yes… to listen.  And I agree that listening and learning are closely bound.  As a convert myself, I know that it can take a while… in the cases of some converts quite a while… to get acclimated, to get to the point where the Catholic “thing” is deep in the marrow.  I wrote recently on that.  HERE  I also used the image of “Catholic thing”.

A couple bits from Mills:

Theologian Massimo Faggioli and journalist Austen Ivereigh having taken some flack recently for their articles on Catholic converts; in effect, both seemed to be saying, “Converts, please stop talking.”
(Ivereigh later apologized for his use of the metaphor “neurotic” to describe his subjects in his Crux article.)
They meant the vocal, public converts, who are usually culturally as well as theologically conservative.

That’s probably the real problem.  Converts are often culturally as well as theologically conservative?

He also says:

In both cases [Marian elements], I had to live the Catholic life for a long time before I could really feel the truth of these things and understand them from the inside.

That is – ought to be – the experience of every Catholic.  It takes a whole life.

He concludes:

So as a convert, I would say: Converts, please stop talking so much; when you do speak, speak on the narrower subjects on which you can speak with authority; and trust those who have been inside the Thing longer and look to them as teachers and models, or at least challengers – even if their names are Faggioli and Ivereigh. Even Paul went into the desert for three years after his conversion, and he was a religious genius and a saint.

Sorry, but St. Paul is Saint Paul.  Also, Paul was not silent in the years between his conversion in 32 and when he would eventually confront Peter to his face, because Peter was wrong (Galatians 2:11).  Let’s review in Acts 9:18-22:

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and rising up, he was baptized. [Paul’s a convert.] And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days. And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. And all that heard him, were astonished, and said: Is not this he who persecuted in Jerusalem those that called upon this name: and came hither for that intent, that he might carry them bound to the chief priests? But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the Christ.

And the next verse, that might not be in your Bibles…

And the disciples who were with Paul at Damascus began to grumble among themselves saying, “Who does Saul think he is? Should he not remain silent and listen? After all, he was just baptized a some days ago while we were baptized even more days ago.”  And they told Paul to shut up and listen, for they were tired of hearing Paul explain things.

After Damascus, Paul went to Arabia.  I’ll bet he didn’t say anything there.  Surely, he was just silent and listened.  No wait… it seems that he often had to flee here and there, probably because he was such a good listener.

QUAERITUR: How long, in their opinion, should converts to shut up?  Is there a set time?  Perhaps they will decide based on a quiz or an interview!  Are they the arbiters?  Once you pass my test, then you can pipe up.

Mr. Mills is a convert of some 15 years.  What about this?  “Sorry, Mr. Mills, that’s not long enough.  15 whole years? You should listen more.”

Who gets to decide?  I won’t pretend that I know, and I don’t think that David Mills should silence his pen just because he has only been in the Church for 15 years.  He has a lot to contribute.

Look, I don’t mean to pick on David Mills here.  He’s okay.

However, when we see that converts should shut up and sit in the back of the bus… no… just know.

Go to the back of the bus!  How DARE you sit up front!




Posted in CRUX WATCH, Liberals | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

MADISON: 22 Aug – Pontifical Mass at the Throne – Immaculate Heart of Mary

17_05_31_PontMass_Queenship_07On Tuesday, 22 August, at 6 p.m., at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Monona, His Excellency Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at the Throne for the traditional Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Mass will be in the Roman Rite’s older, traditional form, sometimes called the “Extraordinary Form.” The music will be in Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony, with motets and hymns, including:

  • Bishop’s Entrance: Ecce sacerdos magnus, Rev. Ludwig Bonvin, SJ (1850–1939)
  • Mass Ordinary: Missa secunda a 3, Giammateo Asola (c.1532–1609); Credo III
  • Motet at the Offertory: Ave Maria, Jacques Arcadelt (c. 1507–1568), arr. Pierre-Louis Dietsch (1808–1865)
  • Motet at the Communion: Ave maris stella (alternatim), Johann Stadlmayr (1575?–1648)
  • Marian Antiphon after the Last Gospel: Salve Regina, tonus simplex
  • Recessional hymn: “Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above”

All are welcome.

In 1944, Pope Pius XII established the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on August 22, eight days or an “octave” after the Feast of the Assumption.

With the changes to the liturgical calendar after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI moved the Feast of the Immaculate Heart to the Saturday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Paul also moved the celebration of the Queenship of Mary from May 31 to August 22.

However, using the traditional calendar, we still observe the Immaculate Heart on August 22. As result, with both the newer and the traditional calendars, August 22 is a day to celebrate and honor the Mother of God.

The next Pontifical Masses in Madison will be:

  • 14 September – Exaltation of the Cross (with Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulcher)
  • 13 October – 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun
  • 2 November – All Souls

The Mass is sponsored by the Tridentine Mass Society of the Diocese of Madison (  The TMSM is a  501(c)(3) and you can help our work with a generous donation!  HERE


Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Feedback that gets to me

Occasionally I get feedback that really helps. Today I received this:



This, friends, gets to me.

The token she mentions is something from my wish list, a recording of The Passion of Saint Thomas More by composer Garrett Fisher. US HERE – UK HERE

Folks, I really appreciate the support you send in all its forms.

What is she talking about?

The Apostolic Pardon, or Benediction, forgives temporal punishment due to our sins, not the sins themselves.

If anything remains from our lives, provided we die in the state of grace, for which we have not done adequate penance, the temporal punishment due to those sins, if we have not done adequate penance in life, is forgiven us through the Apostolic Pardon.  This is why the Apostolic Pardon is often given after the Last Rites of sacraments of penance, anointing, and Viaticum.



Posted in Just Too Cool, Reader Feedback | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Total Eclipse on Monday, 21 August – What are your plans?

The Total Eclipse will occur over these USA on Monday.

The Eclipse will take place 54 days before the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima… the length of a 54 Day Novena.

Also, because a total eclipse can only take place during a New Moon, 21 August will also be the 3rd New Moon of the season, which only occurs every 33 years.  The last time an total eclipse occurred on the 3rd New Moon was 99 years ago in 1918, which was also the last time the path of a total eclipse crossed the continent from coast to coast.

The next total will be in 2024.  HERE  It’s path will intersect with this year’s eclipse’s path near the legendary New Madrid fault… which probably means nothing.  Unless it does.  After all, in 1812 when that fault decided to do something, the Mississippi ran backwards for a bit and temporary waterfalls formed.

Be sure to check out Space Weather. Apparently, NASA has developed a model to predict the shape of your planet’s yellow star’s corona.

I, for one, plan to be in the Show Me State, where the cosmos will… wait for it… show me the eclipse.  Did you see what I did there?

For your location… HERE – really cool …

What are your plans?

Posted in Look! Up in the sky! | Tagged | 30 Comments

Twitter Liturgy: Luther would be so proud…

Luther would be so proud.

From NPR:

In Germany, Churchgoers Are Encouraged To Tweet From The Pews

In Germany this year, the Protestant church is celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther brought about the Reformation. Today, as the number of churchgoers dwindles, the clergy is turning to new media to appeal to those with little time to attend worship in person.

In the eastern city of Magdeburg, the monotone peal of a single church bell calls a modest flock of parishioners to evening prayers at the Walloon Reformed Church of St. Augustine.

As the faithful file into a High Gothic church where Martin Luther once delivered a sermon, most fumble around in handbags and pockets, looking for their cellphones.

But instead of dutifully switching off their phones and putting them away on this Friday evening, these 40 or so churchgoers take a pew and bow their heads over their lit-up devices as if they were prayer books.

This is a Twitter service, where the congregation is encouraged to tweet about the liturgy and share their prayers online.


I have occasionally answer questions about use of handheld devices in church.  I even wrote something about the use of an iPad by the priest for Mass (you would probably need 4 iPads for the TLM):

There is nothing wrong with them in principle.  They are just ways to convey texts, like a book.  However, there are a lot of people in the pews next to you who could be distracted by them and who may not associate them with “texts”.  They may think of these things as games or distractions or whatever.   Just as it took a while to shift from the scroll to the codex, the connotation of the handheld will need some time to shift.  It could be that when you are looking at the text of the antiphon being sung in Gregorian chant, someone thinks you are “playing with your phone”.

There is another aspect.  If it wouldn’t be disruptive, I don’t see a problem with sending weekly donations for the parish via a handheld at the time of the collection.  Moreover, I know a parish or two with card swiping pads at the doors or in the narthex for those who stop in, etc.

I don’t see anything sacrilegious about these uses of technology.  However, we have to be sensitive about other people around us.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged | 22 Comments

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 | 16 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 , , , | 15 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 | 9 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 , , , | 29 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