ASK FATHER: Is attending a Rock Mass sacrilege? A mortal sin?

From a reader…


I am writing you because of what I believe concerning a ‘teen mass.’ A few weeks ago, I was not able to make it to Mass in the morning. Someone had told me that a particular church had a Mass that was not a rock music mass. I went there early to go to confession, and after confession, the practice “music” began, and so I left, and prayed with my missal at home.

It seems to me that attending a a sacrilegious mass, such as a teen rock mass, is a mortal sin, objectively. It is also scandalous for someone to see me there, as they may think that I am ok with such an evil abuse.

The next day, I went to confession to my priest (in case I was wrong about it being sinful to go to a rock mass). When I asked him, he simply told me that he understood my dilemma, and did not weigh in on it being worse to go or to miss.

Anyway, I posted about it in a forum that I sometimes go to, and everyone is going off about how I am putting my thoughts above the Churches teachings and so forth. Does the Church not have definitive teachings on reverence? I know that it was, at one point, only ok for instruments that mimicked the human voice. Anyway, your insights would be quite helpful to me personally, and also to my conversation ongoing right now… Thanks, and God bless!

Reason #9 for Summorum Pontificum, Authentic Tool of the New Evangelization.

For a sin to be mortal there are both objective and subjective factors that must be evaluated.

The objective factors are relatively simple and they are the same for everyone. Sacrilege is grave matter and would ordinarily be an objective factor for mortal sin. The Church has not made a definitive ruling on what sort of music would render Holy Mass sacrilegious. (I have my views.)  Wise and holy priests and bishops have given us guidelines. The Church herself has said taught that our treasured Gregorian chant and polyphony are to be preferred to all other forms.  That puts an official stamp on those forms.  It seems to me that the farther musical forms depart from those two the more… dubious they are, in the very least.  Rock music is a distant departure from Gregorian chant, as is jazz.  Ergo….

And yet, mirabile dictu, the Church has not definitively said that it is forbidden for sacred liturgy.  The Church also hasn’t definitely condemned stupidity or bad taste.

I would avoid a Rock Mass, as I would open petrie dishes of Ebola virus.   I would avoid a Polka Mass, a Hip-Hop Mass, a Country Western Mass, and a Siberian Throat-Singing Mass as if they were cultures of Naegleria fowleri, the Brain Eating Amoeba. 

That said, if I found myself – unwittingly and unwillingly and yet unavoidably – having to attend one, I don’t think I would confess that I had committed sacrilege.

Sure, I suppose one could just walk out, but … were one to stay, and then to offer prayers and sufferings in reparation for the insult to Our Lord and to the Holy Angels present, and to Good Taste, one could also resolve then to do everything in one’s power to eradicate such horrific things in the future and guide confused souls into better paths.

I remember many years ago we use to say that the true reform of sacred liturgical music would begin when the last guitar was busted over the head of the last pop-combo member.  It’s hard to imagine that this has continued for so long.  I guess this sort of thing is like having rude neighbors with an especially obnoxious mynah bird by their open window: the pets you hate seem to live forever.

Pray for the people who perpetrated that awful experience, asking God to help them to an encounter with true beauty and transcendence.  Ask God to raise up in them a sense of religious horror at the travesties they have in the past perpetrated and inflicted.

Meanwhile, so that others can do some penance in solidarity with you… straight from 1966!

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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, Self-absorbed Promethean Neopelagians, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM | Tagged | Leave a comment

ASK FATHER: Can I go to an invalid Mormon wedding?

From a reader…


My wife’s brother is getting married in Salt Lake City this January in a civil ceremony. He is a non-practicing Mormon and his fiancee is also (as far as I know) a non-practicing Mormon. The fiancee was, however, previously married. My wife and I would like to be able to say yes to the invitation, but we have had qualms of conscience about whether we should attend a wedding in which one of the parties is a divorcee. I realize that neither of them is a baptized Christian, but nevertheless, my understanding of the teaching of the Church (from Pius XI’s Casti connubii) is that even so-called natural law marriages are indissoluble, by divine institution. So, we’re puzzled about what we can do in good conscience — especially since we would have our children (15 and 12) with us.

A couple points.

Mormons are not Christians.  They do not have valid baptism.  They do not understand the word or concept “Trinity” in a Christian sense.  Frankly, we are not overly concerned about how Mormons marry… apart from the whole polygamy thing.

That said, from what you wrote the planned civil marriage would probably be invalid because of the prior natural, not sacramental, bond. However, there is nothing in Canon Law that prohibits you from attending an invalid wedding. No sacramental issue is at stake here. This is not a situation of a clear violation by Catholics of Christian, Catholic doctrine or discipline that might cause scandal.  Family presence might keep the door open for future conversion. You can go.

Explain clearly to your children that your presence is more about showing support for a family member.

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Pope: To attract people more easily tone down teachings, relax severity… NOT.

xiii_leoRecently I read this quote from Pope Leo XIII’s 1899 Letter (sometimes called Encyclical, sometimes Apostolic) on the heresy of Americanism Testem benevolentiae:

The underlying principle of these new opinions [Americanism] is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, [discipline] but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.

It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. The Vatican Council [Vatican I] says concerning this point: “For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.” – Constitutio de Fide Catholica, Chapter iv. [Which I couldn’t find on the Vatican website.]

Oddly, Testem benevolentiae is NOT listed on the Vatican website among the encyclicals or apostolic letters of this great, undervalued Pope.  HERE

One must wonder…. why?

But you can find it HERE and HERE.

Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

ASK FATHER: Mass in Classical Latin

-veni-vidi-vici--2From a reader…


Could the Mass and the Office be said in the classical pronunciation?

Yes.  It would be a little strange, but, yes.

The way we speak Latin in the Church right now is based on how Italian is pronounced, or, how Romans pronounce Latin.  That’s reasonable, given that we are talking about the language of the Roman Church.  Who better than they?

Latin is pronounced in different ways, according to one’s background and nation.  The English school system had a truly weird system.  Germans do odd things with vowels.  The French… well….

What we call now the Classical Pronunciation is more or less the fruit of research into how Latin might have been pronounced in the late Republic and early Empire, in the Gold and Silver Age of Latin literature.  We extrapolate how things were pronounced by examining misspellings in inscriptions and other writings, along with morphology, etc.

That said, pronunciation was not uniform.  North Africa was different from Italian peninsula. Just as is the case today, pronunciation surely varied within cities.

Also, consider that between the Gold and Silver Ages of literature and, say, the time of Augustine of Hippo, there is not only a gulf of distance but a gulf of centuries.  Early Modern English in, say, the plays of Shakespeare, sounds a bit foreign to our ears until we adjust. Of course, reconstructed pronunciation helps us to hear rhymes and puns in Shakespeare.  Reconstructed Classical Latin pronunciation also helps in the learning of Latin.  Think about the principle parts of ago and how they are pronounced in Ecclesiastical and Classical systems.

People who are interested in solid scholarship on reconstructed pronunciation of classical Latin, and Greek for that matter, can look into the standard work of W. Sydney Allen, Vox Latina.  Also see E.H. Sturtevant. They both also wrote on Greek.

I did a lot of this sort of thing in grad school, but it has been while.  I am sure there are now some new resources.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , | 17 Comments

ADVENTCAzT 18: Another step forward in our Christmas preparation

Here is a 5-minute, daily podcast – today for Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Advent – to help you prepare for the upcoming feast as well as for your personal meeting with the Lord.  We are in that final stretch of Advent when we use the O Antiphons.

These podcasts are a token of gratitude to my benefactors who donate and send items from my wishlist.  Thank you!

Have some Mystic Monk Coffee and have a listen! PS: The wavy flag is how I’m trying to get to Rome for the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy meeting in January.  This one’s on me.

I often have music from the wonderful Advent disc by the Benedictines. You will remember that Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.  They have chart topping discs. HERE

Chime in if you listened.

PS: These podcasts should also available through my iTunes feed, though in years past I have had problems with it. Let me know how you are listening.  Through the plug in on this post? Through iTunes? Downloading?

PPS: Once again, with annual precision, the stats feature is screwed up.  I’m getting skewed numbers.

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The ‘libido delendi’ that seized the Church, the desire to obliterate… everything

From something that you should read:

The elimination of altars and communion rails is the obliteration of sacred art. The obliteration of sacred art is the flattening of liturgical language. The flattening of liturgical language is the abandonment of ageless chants and hymns. The abandonment of those chants and hymns is the forgetting of immemorial devotions and prayers. The forgetting of those prayers is the secularization of time. The secularization of time is the laicization of clergy and religious. Their laicization is the rage to deny the mysteriousness of the faith. The denial of that mystery implies the building of churches as neutral spaces. The building of such churches is the destruction of churches like Saint Anne’s, and, as an ultimate but never to be realized aim, the destruction of Christ’s Church on earth.

Where’s that from? I’ll get to it in a moment.

I sometimes write that, today, we have lots of newish churches that look like municipal airports. No document, nothing, required that statues and altars and rails and windows be torn out of our churches, insulting the memories of our forebears who built them with the the sweat of their brows. There are no documents that says, “let paintings and decorations by removed or whitewashed”. But that’s what has been done time and time again. Not a single document said that our music should be ugly and our translations banal and our vestments impoverished.  Nope.  On the other hand, it is still possible to build beautiful, theologically rich churches. It just isn’t done too often. More often now that 10 years ago, perhaps. Just today I mentioned in a post the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe built by Card Burke near LaCrosse, WI.  We can still have worthy sacred music, beautiful art, and decorum which point to the transcendent.

Here is a sample of a piece by Anthony Esolen at Crisis. Yes, that’s what I quoted, above.

What I’m trying to get at here is hard to put into words. When I entered Saint Anne’s in Woonsocket, a church that had narrowly escaped destruction by the diocese, it was as if I had entered the ruins of a lost way of life. Then I began to see that the libido delendi that seized my Church applied to everything in our worship and education. They were not separate but coincidental movements for destruction. They were and are parts of one movement, and not a new movement in the history of the Church, either.

Only academics can think themselves into pretending to like verse without music, music without harmony, painting without skies or flowers or animals or people. Intellectuals are the original smashers of images. It was not quarry workers who demanded that their communion rails be knocked out with sledge hammers. It was not little children who pleaded with their pastors to cover paintings with whitewash. It was not housewives who demanded that the high altars with all their draperies and candelabra be replaced with tables so bare and spare that they would not do for an ordinary kitchen.

Read the rest there.  He tells about a great church in Rhode Island that escaped destruction and what that church teaches us.

Libido delendi … the lust to obliterate… is back.

Over the last few months, self-absorbed promethean neopelagians [SAPNs] are crawling out of the woodwork and from under rocks.  They are getting up on their hind legs and braying against “triumphalism” and how liturgy requires “poverty” and none of that old “hoopla”.  And we are going to see a lot more of this for a while, I’m afraid.  We have some dark days ahead, I think, as this cycle plays out.  If you don’t think you aren’t in their crosshairs… think again.  It’s payback time for the 33 years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The SAPNs are pushing their agenda.   Here’s what I think you ought to push.

Push for as many celebrations of the older form of the Roman Rite as possible in as many places as possible as soon as possible.

It will be hard to get going.  SO WHAT?  Make it work.  Work with sweat and money to make it happen.

Get involved with all the works of charity that your parishes or groups sponsor. Make a strong showing. Make your presence known. When work needs to be done, step up and ask, “What do you need?”

Pray and fast and give alms. Think you have been doing that? Do more.

Get organized.  Find like-minded people and get that request for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum together.  Raise the money. Buy the stuff the parish will need.  DO IT.  ¡HAGAN LÍO!”

This will require that people put aside their petty little personal interpretations and preferences of how Father ought to wiggle his pinky at the third word.  It is team-work time.  If we don’t sacrifice individually, we will be sacrificed individually.

Remember that the legislation is in place.  Young priests and seminarians are dying to get into this stuff.  Give them something to do.

As I have written before take off the training wheels and RIDE THE DAMN BIKE!

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Cri de Coeur, Fr. Z KUDOS, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Self-absorbed Promethean Neopelagians | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Card. Burke’s kindness

Do you recall that, last year, Card. Burke consoled a little boy who was crying because he couldn’t yet receive Communion?  HERE

This is somewhat beyond the ken of most catholics, I believe.  They might console a Questioning-status minor not yet able to vote more than once in the same pro-same-sex “marriage” referendum.   But, I digress.  This shouldn’t be polemic and… there I went and did it.  Sorry!  I am under the weather.

So, last year Card. Burke consoled a boy who couldn’t receive Communion.  At that time His Eminence said that his time would come soon enough.

The day came!

Here is a piece from the site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wisconsin, which Card. Burke built in honor of Our Lady when he was Bishop of LaCrosse.   If you haven’t visited, it’s worth a trip.

Go read the whole story.  There’s a lot more to it than the simple fact of a First Holy Communion.  The boy, Louis Martin, has had a lot of things to overcome in his short life.



There are lots of catholics out there who suffer from Burke Derangement Syndrome™.  Oddly, you don’t see stories like this about their models.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Fr. Z KUDOS, Linking Back | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

ADVENTCAzT 17: “the yearning for something purer and greater”

Here is a 5-minute, daily podcast – today for Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Advent – to help you prepare for the upcoming feast as well as for your personal meeting with the Lord.

These podcasts are a token of gratitude to my benefactors who donate and send items from my wishlist.  Thank you!

Have some Mystic Monk Coffee and have a listen! PS: The wavy flag is how I’m trying to get to Rome for the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy meeting in January.  This one’s on me.

I often have music from the wonderful Advent disc by the Benedictines. You will remember that Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.  They have chart topping discs. HERE

Chime in if you listened.

PS: These podcasts should also available through my iTunes feed, though in years past I have had problems with it. Let me know how you are listening.  Through the plug in on this post? Through iTunes? Downloading?

PPS: Once again, with annual precision, the stats feature is screwed up.  I’m getting skewed numbers.

Posted in ADVENTCAzT, ADVENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

ASK FATHER: TLM for 25th Wedding Anniversary

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 10.55.52From a reader…


My wife and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this coming year.  We are regular attendees of an Extraordinary Form Mass at a local oratory dedicated to the same.  We are planning some sort of celebration for the occasion, but would like to start of with an appropriate Mass.  Are you familiar with any options for an Extraordinary Form Mass, preferably a High Mass, for the celebration of a wedding anniversary?

If the calendar permits, for your 25th and your 50th there can be a Votive Mass of the Trinity or the Blessed Virgin Mary with additional prayers “Pro gratiarum actione“.

It can be Low Mass, Sung Mass, or Solemn Mass.

After Mass there can be a blessing, found in the Rituale Romanum.

There are rubrics for this in the Roman Missal in the section on Votive Masses. Ask your local priest about this.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | 3 Comments

“One of the great papist characters in modern fiction”

At the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald, there is a fun piece about books I often mention here, the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian, who would be 100 years old this year.

Which I would that he had lived to 100, so that we could have more tales of the nautical duo!

The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Vol. 5 volumes) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)  UK link  HERE

Here is the piece, which is not available online. You can, however, subscribe to the digital version of the weekly.

The ‘reptilian’ Catholic who misses nothing

By Mark Benbow

The quick-witted Stephen Maturin is one of the great papist characters in modern fiction. His faith is so vivid you’d be forgiven for thinking that his creator was himself a Catholic

Dr Stephen Maturin is an unlikely Catholic hero. He is a ship’s doctor during the Napoleonic Wars. Half Catalan, half Irish, he is “reptilian” in appearance, casting a suspicious eye on everyone he meets. He is short, ugly and a spy – for the British government, fortunately, since nothing escapes him.
Maturin is the junior partner in one of
the great double acts in British fiction: the Aubrey-Maturin seafaring novels by Patrick O’Brian, who was born 100 years ago. Maturin’s surreptitious Catholicism is a theme in many of the 20 novels, beginning with Master and Commander, which was published in 1969 but acquired cult status only in the 1990s. O’Brian himself, though extremely reticent about his past, hinted that, despite his refined English voice and old-fashioned snobbery, he was an Irish Catholic from Dublin.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Aubrey-Maturin series is much loved by many Catholics, who relish the dynamic between Captain Jack Aubrey, brave, impulsive and naïve, and the dry wit of his papist confidant. O’Brian plunges his readers into the life of the sea, with few concessions to their ignorance of nautical jargon (except when Aubrey is explaining things to the land-lubber Maturin). Some of the writing is beautiful, as in this excerpt from The Surgeon’s Mate, which takes Aubrey and Maturin from the fogs of Novia Scotia to a French jail:

“There,” cried Stephen when Jack appeared in the frail topgallant-shrouds, “are you not amazed?” He pointed cautiously with one finger and Jack looked out to the south-west. At this height they were above the low blanket of fog that covered the sea: clear sky above, no water below; no deck even, but a smooth layer of white mist, sharply cut off from the clean air; and ahead, on the starboard bow and on the starboard beam the surface of the soft, opaque whiteness was pierced by an infinity of masts, all striking up from this unearthly ground into a sky without a cloud, a sky that might have belonged to an entirely different world.
“Are you not amazed?” he said again.

If you do not know what “topgallant-shrouds” are, then buy a nautical handbook (as some devotees do). O’Brian takes pleasure in meticulous accuracy, and not just in his accounts of naval warfare. The early 19th century was a time of religious change in England. Catholics fell under suspicion as Britain went to war with France again – and, indeed, the Benedictine-educated Maturin was a supporter of the French Revolution until the Terror and the subsequent tyranny of Bonaparte. Yet we were also on the verge of Catholic Emancipation: papists moved in elevated social circles and O’Brian expertly captures the half-surreptitious, half-proud spirit of Maturin’s Catholicism.

In Fortune of War, set in 1812, Maturin is apprehended by the Americans in Boston and attends Mass during his captivity:

The priest was already at the altar by the time they reached the obscure chapel in a side-alley, and crept into the enormously evocative smell of old incense. There followed an interval on a completely different plane of being: with the familiar ancient words around him, always the same, in whatever country he had ever been (though now uttered in a broad Munster Latin), he lived free of time or geography, and he might have walked out, a boy, into the streets of Barcelona white in the sun, or
into those of Dublin under the soft rain.

The reference to the old Mass will have appealed to one of O’Brian’s biggest fans, the traditionalist priest-blogger Fr John Zuhlsdorf, who in one post seems to take mischievous delight in the unflattering portrayal of the Jesuits as “[making] a sad nuisance of themselves again, turning out atheists from the schools by the score”.

Catholic readers should be warned, however, that these bracing, colourful and cluttered novels were written by a very strange and dishonest man. Patrick O’Brian was not Irish, not Catholic and not called Patrick O’Brian. Shortly before his death in 2000, the BBC revealed that he was born Richard Russ, the son of a doctor from Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire. He had changed his name after an unhappy first marriage and probably deceived people into thinking that he was a spy during the war (he was actually an ambulance driver). His faith was as fictional as Maturin’s. But don’t let that put you off. The books, if you like that sort of thing, are terrific.

Which terrific ain’t in it, as Preserved Killick would say.

Posted in O'Brian Tags, Preserved Killick | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments