As Che and Fidel gaze on the scene….

So, the Holy See, indeed Pope Francis himself, gets involved with the freeing of an American citizen held in Cuba for several years. The citizen, Alan Gross, is released.  He returns to these USA.  He goes to his attorney’s office.  They prepare remarks.  Photos are taken and issued by, inter aliiWaPo.



Note the framed photo of the Argentinian-born, Leftist-darling, murdering-thug Che Guevara on the wall.

Another picture, just above the photo of Argentinian-born, Leftist-darling, murdering-thug Guevara, which can be seen in a photo from a different angle in the same office during the same occasion.


Che and brutal dictator, Church-persecutor Fidel playing golf.  Isn’t that sweet?

Who has pictures of men like those in such a prominent place in one’s office?


According to American Thinker,  newly-freed Gross thanked some people for involvement in his release:

Among them were Jill Zuckman of leftist PR firm SKDKnickerbocker, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).  SKDKnickerbocker also employs former resident Maoist in the Obama White House Anita Dunn and Democrat operative Hilary Rosen.

In his remarks, Gross also said:

I also feel compelled to share with you my utmost respect for and fondness of the people of Cuba.  In no way are they responsible for the ordeal to which my family and I have been subjected.  To me cubanos, or at least most of them, are incredibly kind, generous and talented.  It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments’ mutually belligerent policies.  Five and a half decades of history show us such belligerence inhibits better judgment.  Two wrongs never make a right.  I truly hope that we can now get beyond these mutually belligerent policies and I was very happy to hear what the president had to say today.  It was particularly cool to be sitting next to the secretary of state as he was hearing about his job description for the next couple of months.  In all seriousness, this is a game-changer, which I fully support.

So, instead of saying, “I’m so happy to be back in the freest country in the world!”, he called these USA “belligerent”… three times.

Part of the deal?

Certain people worked really hard to get Alan Gross out into the open and in front of microphones and cameras.

I’ll allow comments, but the moderation queue is ON.

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Posted in Liberals, The Drill | 15 Comments

ASK FATHER: Received into Church after strange Presbyterian baptism

From a reader…


I was Baptized in the Presbyterian Church and converted to the Catholic faith 9 years ago at the age of 9. Becoming very interested in my own baptism I watched a video of a Presbyterian ministerconferring baptism. He traced the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead whilst using the Trinitarian formula, [I suspect that that isn’t typical.] also I believe that it is common for Presbyterians to touch water to the head of the child without pouring it. Is this type of Baptism Valid? Also would it be prudent to try to contact the minister of my baptism and ask about the manner by which he administers the sacrament, to be sure of my Baptisms validity?

When I requested to be received into the Church my Parish Priest organized for me to prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist with my class at Catholic School with no ceremony of reception into the Church. Is this all that is necessary for reception in the Church?

It would be prudent to inquire of your church of baptism, ideally the very minister, about the method of your baptism.

Once upon a time, it could be assumed that major, mainstream denominations followed the Christian tradition and baptized validly, by pouring water with the Trinitarian formula. Now? Not so much. The Church still presumes the validity of baptisms conferred in most mainline Protestant ecclesial communities, but… many don’t even seem to follow their own rules.

When you were received into the Church, you should have been asked to make a formal profession of faith, been confirmed, and received Holy Eucharist.

Many of our own priests don’t follow our rules, either.

As I have written before, for baptism to be valid, water must be used along with the Trinitarian formula.  In baptism, conferred in the rites of the Latin Church, water must touch some part of the the head, even it it runs only on the hair.  Water touching the head for baptism is part of the most ancient of all Christian rites.  Some authors says that if, say in some emergency situation, water is poured on some other part of the body, the baptism is doubtful and, if possible, should be repeated conditionally as soon as possible.

Here is a message for priests:

If you are too thick to do immersion properly, just don’t do it.  Next time, throw yourself into the immersion pool, preferably wearing a millstone.

Here is a message for bishops:

You would do well either to quiz priests about how to baptize and to confer other sacraments or to send out occasional reminders.  Some might find this insulting, but I have heard some pretty crazy things.  It may be that men trained – this includes permanent deacons, by the way – in certain places in certain years cannot be assumed to know how to baptize properly.  Most dioceses have a letter that goes out from the chancery to priests every week, or at least regularly.  Perhaps that letter could include a brief “refresher” paragraph about important things like the matter and form of baptism, the obligation to use the proper formula of absolution and the like.  I have heard some strange things in confessionals and I have had to insist on the correct form (which is easier when you are a priest).

I’ll allow comments, but the moderation queue is ON.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

“lingua latina bene calleant”

Many are the times that I have lamented the nearly complete disobedience to the Code of Canon Law and the expressed will of modern Roman Pontiffs about the Latin language.  For example, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 249, requires – it doesn’t suggest or recommend or propose – that seminarians be very well trained in Latin:  “lingua latina bene calleant“. Not just calleant, says can. 249, but bene calleantCalleo is “to be practised, to be wise by experience, to be skilful, versed in” or “to know by experience or practice, to know, have the knowledge of, understand”. We get the word “callused” from this verb. We develop calluses when we do something repeatedly. So, bene calleant is “let them be very well versed”.  Review also Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 and Optatam totius 13, just to point to documents of Vatican II.

Latin is necessary.  Its benefits are so numerous that they shouldn’t have to be enumerated.  And yet we are faced today with a clergy – and educated class – who are nearly totally ignorant of Latin.

The great Fr. John Hunwicke has a good entry at his blog about Latin and the ignorance of clergy and clerisy.

Here is a taste with my usual treatment (NB: he has black and red in his original):

Roman Pontiffs do not commonly sign their Magisterial documents on the High Altar of S Peter’s in the presence of the body of Cardinals. But S John XXIII thus promulgated his Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia, 1962, in which he insisted that the Latin language must remain central to the culture of Western Christianity. What more could the good old gentleman have done?

That Letter was praised by B Paul VI (Studia Latinitatis, 1964, ” … principem obtinere locum dicenda sane est”), who was anxious that seminarians “magna cum cura et diligentia ad antiquas et humanas litteras informentur”; and S John Paul II (Sapientia Christiana) emphasised the requirement for knowlege of Latin “for the faculties of the Sacred Sciences, so that students can understand and use the sources and documents of the Church”. More recently Benedict XVI (Latina lingua, 2012), praised Veterum sapientia as having been issued iure meritoque: it is to be taken seriously both because of its legal force and because of the intrinsic merit of its arguments; and in his Encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis wrote specifically about the need for seminarians to be taught Latin. We have, in other words, a coherent expectation in the teaching of popes S John XXIII, B Paul VI, S John Paul II, and Benedict XVI that all seminarians should become proficient in Latin, the language of the Church. And the attitude of the popes to the promotion of Latin studies in even broader contexts than that of the formation of the clergy is demonstrated in the establishment by B Paul VI of a Latin Academy; a foundation re-established and strengthened by Benedict XVI.

This papal teaching by no means relates solely to the language of worship; it desires Latin to remain a living vernacular for the clergy and not least for their formation; and it is explicitly based upon the belief that, by being latinate, a clerisy will have access to a continuity of culture. My post would have to be very long indeed if it quoted fully all the words of all four popes to this effect. Coming as I do from the Anglican Patrimony, I will instead share the witness of C S Lewis’s Devil Screwtape, who confessed, “Since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another”. And in his Pilgrim’s Regress, Lewis suggests that the growing disuse of Classical languages is a Diabolical trick to isolate the educated classes from the wisdom of the Past. Both in secular culture and within the Church, there is a risk that the educated class will be cut off and imprisoned in the narrow confines of a particular culture – victims of its particular Zeitgeist. [This is clearly what has already happened, and we are suffering the consequences ] A literate clerisy is one that reads what other ages wrote, which means that it will at least be able to read Latin; and the sign of such a clerisy, in practical terms, will be that it can with ease read its Divine Office in Latin.

It is in this context that we must see the requirement of Vatican II (Sacrosanctum Concilium 101): “In accordance with the centuries-old tradition (saecularis traditio) of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in reciting the Divine Office“. And it is highly significant that it goes on to make any use of the vernacular an (apparently very rare) exception which bishops can grant “only on an individual basis“.


The loss of Latin in our sacred worship has been devastating for our identity as Catholics and, therefore, our influence in the world.  The loss of Latin amongst our clergy has been devastating for our Catholic identity, for our clergy promotes knock on effects through the entire people of God.

At the end of his entry, Fr. H also raises a question that I have also raised.  When men are ordained, someone involved in formation stands up to testify that the men are properly formed and trained, that they are idonei for Orders.  However, most of them now have no Latin and cannot even begin to say half of their Rite, the Extraordinary Form.  Are they properly formed?

We can’t afford to say, “It’s too haaard!” or “There’s no tiiiiime!”   Perhaps other things ought to be sacrificed for the sake of Latin.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Cri de Coeur, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Mail from priests, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, Si vis pacem para bellum!, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, The future and our choices, Universae Ecclesiae, Vatican II | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

ADVENTCAzT 19: Ember Days

Here is a 5-minute, daily podcast – today for Thursday 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.

Posted in ADVENTCAzT, ADVENTCAzT, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

ASK FATHER: Participate in Nativity play during Mass?

From a reader…


My pastor has asked my wife, newborn, and me to portray the Holy Family during Christmas Eve Mass. We would process in and then the baby would be placed in the creche. I just found out that this will be a “children’s Mass” with kids gathered around the altar, and that the creche will be in the sanctuary. People who have witnessed this before say it is highly distracting. What should I do?

A living Nativity scene play is one thing. Having it during Mass, in the sanctuary, is a horse of a different color.

No. I would politely decline.

“Oh Father, thanks for asking, but I’m going to have to decline. I just don’t we’re up for it.”

That should be sufficient. When pressed, if pressed, simply repeat, “I don’t think we’re up for it.”  If pressed further,

“I would rather pray during the Holy Mass than pretend I’m in some sort of a play on stage.”

As an interesting aside, during and after the Patristic period, Late Antiquity, theater was pretty much repressed. In the Medieval period, however, it began to creep back in the form of Mystery Plays and Morality Plays. They were at first offered outside churches, in the squares before the main doors. Then they crept into the churches themselves and could even be a prelude to Mass, such as on Christmas Day. As a matter of fact, the Mystery Play of the Wise and Foolish Virgins was often connected with the Vigil of Christmas. Picture in your mind’s eye the play taking place, the people watching as the Bridegroom finally arrives. He excludes the foolish virgins without sufficient oil to weep and gnash their teeth outside the closed door of heaven. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

In those days sentimentality was tempered with reason, sobriety and Faith.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | 19 Comments

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!

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 | 54 Comments

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.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman | Tagged , | 13 Comments

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 , , , | 19 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 , | 28 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.

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