ACTION ITEM UPDATE: Christmas Cards and gloves

We are on the very threshold of Advent. This afternoon I switch volumes of the Roman Breviary… already. I have also located and and ready to sling up my tactical stocking.

Yesterday I received the first Christmas cards from you readers.  More about this HERE

They were from

  • Santa Clarita, CA
  • Indianapolis, IN

Thanks!  I suspect more will start pouring in soon, if last year is an indicator.

Meanwhile, since it has turned cold, I have needed to dig out my gloves.  What did I find?  I found in my glove place… 5 left hand gloves.

How does this even happen?!?

It is as if someone for a practical joke crept in and, instead of sowing weeds, removed half the wheat.

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WDTPRS: 1st Sunday of Advent (Novus Ordo) – “they are His while they are ours”

AdventWe’ve come around again to the 1st Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year.

In the newer, post-Conciliar calendar this Sunday is back to back with the Solemnity of Christ the King, honoring the future Second Coming at the end of the world, even while Advent prepares us for celebrating His First Coming at Christmas.

Advent is about how the Lord comes… not just in His Nativity and at the Second Coming, but in every way. He comes in actual graces. He comes when the priest says, “Hoc est enim corpus meum….This is my Body.” He comes in Holy Communion and in the person of the needy.

“Make straight the paths!”, the liturgy of Advent cries out with the words of Isaiah and John the Baptist.

As we begin Advent, perhaps you would do well to remember that when the Lord comes, He is going to come by a straight path whether you have done your best to straighten it ahead of time or not. He will do the straightening for you, one way or another. Better to start doing now, don’t you think?

Let us drill into the very first oration of our liturgical year, according to the Novus Ordo or Ordinary Form

This is a new prayer for the Novus Ordo but based on ancient prayer from the so-called “Gelasian Sacramentary”.


Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus,
hanc tuis fidelibus voluntatem,
ut, Christo tuo venienti iustis operibus occurrentes,
eius dextrae sociati, regnum mereantur possidere caeleste.

This is how we begin our year, suffused with the language of deep humility: “Grant, we beseech You….”

There may be a current of Matthew 25 flowing into this prayer, with its parables of the wise and foolish virgins, waiting for the Bridegroom to come, and image of the Lord’s right hand, where we hope to be gathered after the separation of the goats from the sheep.  Both parables have to do with the coming of the Lord, as Bridegroom and as Judge.

The prestigious Lewis & Short Dictionary says that voluntas is basically, “will, freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination”, but in our collect I think it has also the nuance of a “disposition” toward a thing or person. Occurro is, “to run up to, run to meet” and the deponent verb mereor, “to deserve, merit, to be entitled to, be worthy of a thing”. The usually active socio, “to join or unite together, to associate; to do or hold in common, to share a thing with another”, has a “middle” impact in this passive construction with the dative.


Almighty God, we beseech You, grant
to Your faithful this (disposition of) will,
that those rushing with just works to meet Your Christ, now coming,
united at His right hand may merit to possess the heavenly kingdom.


All-powerful God,
increase our strength of will for doing good
that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.


Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom

It can be hard to get certain constructions from Latin into English. The “Christo tuo venienti” with its present active participle is one of them. The present or, better here, contemporary participle has the time of the verb of the main clause. It describes “Your Christ” in the very act of “coming”. We can do that as “Your Christ who is coming” rather than “Your Christ-right-now-in-the-process-of-coming” or the awkward “Your coming Christ”. We are rushing forward (occurrentes) and smoothing the path for the feet of our King. This requires work, just works, just by their origin, Christ Himself. When even in this life we are united to the right hand of Christ (dextrae sociati) our works are truly ours but also truly His and we merit heaven. The image of the “right hand”, the Biblical place of honor, points to the eternal glory of God and the inauguration of the Messianic kingdom… regnum…celeste to which we look forward even as we look back to His First Coming (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 663-4).

A Protestant or fundamentalist Christian would not say this prayer with its “just works”, its “meriting”, its “disposition”. What does “disposition of will” (voluntas) mean for us fallen humans? Protestants think our nature is wholly corrupt and so our disposition must be entirely evil. But we know man is wounded by the Fall, not wholly corrupted. Protestants believe anything good in us must be imposed from outside through the “alien merits” of Christ. Is the voluntas we are begging in the prayer going to be our will or someone else’s will covering us over? The prayer doesn’t say if the voluntas is God’s or ours.

Once we are baptized and live in the state of grace, we are New Creations and God the Holy Trinity is at work in us. Our cooperation with God’s gift of faith through good works saves us, not “faith alone” or a mere “covering over”. A proper interior “disposition of will” is made possible and given by God but after that it is really ours. Our works do not by themselves merit anything, but once we are transformed and renewed by sanctifying grace, “united at His right hand” already in this life, our work on earth merits the increase of grace and the reward of heaven because they are His while they are ours.

Thomas de Vio Card. Caietanus (Cajetan +1534) explained to Martin Luther (+1546) that, when we say that we “merit”, we are saying that Christ merits in us (cf. De fide et operibus, 12).

St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) preached that, “When God crowns our merits (merita), He crowns nothing other than His own gifts (munera)” (ep. 194, 5, 19). We merit salvation on the foundation of habitual, sanctifying grace, through the virtuous works which we perform. His will becomes our sole desire.


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“Admonish the sinner” reappears

A while back I posted something about a curious lacuna in Misericordiae vultus which listed some of the spiritual works of mercy but which omitted “admonish the sinner”. HERE

However, it now does in the online version in English HERE.

15. […] It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples. Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners [peccatores monere], comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.

We cannot escape the Lord’s words to us, and they will serve as the criteria upon which we will be judged….

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Giving thanks, with Mass, for benefactors and donors

This morning we had a Norman Rockwell like Mass at St. Mary’s. It would have been nice to have a couple photos. We used the texts for the day, of course.

On civil holidays I also like to add Archbishop Carroll’s Prayer for Civil Authorities… which we need to pray often right now.

Since I was able to take my own intention, I said Mass for all my benefactors and donors here. I am grateful for all your support and I remember you in daily prayers and occasional Mass intentions.

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Of scapulars, devotions and Russian jet fighters

Some people are quite disciplined in the matter of wearing a scapular. This comes from Latin scapulae, shoulder blades. Scapulars are garments, usually associated with religious habits, which fall down from the shoulders, mostly over the rest of the habit. Another kind of scapular is small, on strings, which symbolically substitutes for the larger scapular. There are different kinds of scapulars which are spiritual aids in various ways. They generally are a symbol of a relationship through which we derive spiritual protection and aid. Probably the most commonly used scapular is the brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

BTW… once you are “enrolled” and given the brown scapular, if and when your scapular wears out, simply replace it. You don’t have to have the new one blessed.

I am not sure if Eastern Catholics and Orthodox have such things, but a reader alerted me to something which she thought was rather like a Western scapular.

At The Daily Mail there are many photos concerning the destruction of a Russian jet fighter by the Turks. The pilots were killed as they parachuted. Among the photos are the pilots’ effects, including this, which I flipped and cropped:


Lots of people wear religious items without necessarily being devout in any way.

I hope that this young man was indeed devout and that Our Lady helped him to his end.

That said, reflect now for a moment on your own end, your death, which could come at any moment, whether you regularly are in “harm’s way” or not.

Use well the sacramentals that Holy Church provides for your spiritual benefit.  Devout use of the brown scapular is a common devotion because it is an effective devotion.

Use well the sacraments that Holy Church provides.  Examine your consciences and GO TO CONFESSION.  Make good Holy Communions.  Call upon the graces of the your Confirmation and Matrimony and Holy Orders.

Use well other devotional practices which can be of spiritual benefit to you and others.  Perform indulgenced works, such as making the Way of the Cross, reading Scripture, praying the Rosary.


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Of wheels and mystical marriages

Mystical Marriage of Catherine of Alexandria and Catherine of Siena by Ambrogio Bergognone (1524) – National Gallery, London

Today in the calendars of both sides of the Roman Rite is the Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, virgin, martyr.  As a matter of fact, she is celebrated by just about all Christians (who have any doctrine and history).

In the 2005 Martyrologium Romanum we find this entry:

Sanctae Catharinae, quam virginem fuisse Alexandrinam et martyrem nrratur, ingenii acumine et sapientia non minus quam animi robore refertam.  Eius corpus in celebri coenobio monte Sina pia colitur veneratione.

It is said that angels bore her body to Mt. Sinai, where Moses received the Law.

In an interesting coincidence, it is also today the feast of St. Moses, a priest and martyr in Rome in 251.  It is also the feast of Peter of Alexandria, a bishop and martyr in 311.  I’m just sayin’.


Catherine of Alexandria is depicted usually with a palm, since she is a martyr, and a spiky but broken wheel, the instrument of her agony.  She is also often depicted from medieval time onward as the subject of a “mystical marriage” with the Christ Child who is in the act of placing a ring on her finger.  Another Catherine who is depicted this way is Catherine of Siena, recognizable in her Domincan habit.  There are zillions of painting across several centuries of this popular theme for both saints.  The painting I embedded, above, show both saints at the same time, which is rare.

Catherine of Alexandria is also one of the Fourteen Helpers, saints to whom people have over the centuries turn most often for intercession.  Recourse to the Vierzehnheiligen was an especially popular tradition in German speaking lands.

Here is Catherine’s rather poetic Collect in the older, traditional Roman Rite:

Deus, qui dedísti legem Móysi in summitáte montis Sínai, et in eódem loco per sanctos Angelos tuos corpus beátæ Catharínæ Vírginis et Mártyris tuæ mirabíliter collocásti: præsta, quaesumus; ut, ejus méritis et intercessióne, ad montem, qui Christus est, perveníre valeámus:…

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ASK FATHER: No Catholic Mass on Sunday. Are we obliged to attend Orthodox Divine Liturgy?

divine liturgyFrom a reader…


My question comes from what my professor said in class and it doesn’t seem correct.

In class, we were told that if a Catholic was in Russia [and there being no Catholic Church; either Latin or Eastern] that the Catholic is bound [under pain of mortal sin] to fulfill his Sunday obligation in the Orthodox Church. The instructor points to C. 844 §2. saying that because the Orthodox have valid sacraments, including the Eucharist, it is this which necessitates the obligation of C. 1247.

Could you please help clarify as to whether the Code can actually bind a person to fulfill their Sunday obligation outside of the Catholic Church?

There has been some confusion on this issue, owing, in part, to an earlier permission. In 1967, the Directory on Ecumenism permitted Catholics to fulfill their Sunday obligation “occasionally” by attending an Eastern non-Catholic Divine Liturgy.

When the 1983 Code was promulgated, Catholics were obliged by can. 1248 to fulfill their obligation “in a Catholic rite.” This law abrogated the practice since 1967 permitting the fulfillment of the obligation in a non-Catholic, but certainly valid, rite.

Any doubt was further removed by the publication of the 1993 Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, which states that “even when Catholics participate in ecumenical services, or in services of other Churches and ecclesial communities, the obligation of participating at Mass on these days remains.”

It is true that the Orthodox have valid sacraments. It is true that, in the very special circumstances laid out in can. 844, Catholics can approach the Orthodox for the sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist, and Anointing. If one finds oneself in a location where there are no Catholic Masses on a Sunday, one’s obligation is lifted. If there is an Orthodox Divine Liturgy nearby, it would be salubrious to attend and worship the Lord. One is not obliged, however, to do so.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Both Lungs, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

High praise for Card. Sarah from Archbp. Gänswein

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A great gift for a priest!


Ed Pentin has a good note at the National Catholic Register:

Archbishop Gänswein Praises Cardinal Sarah for His Prophetic Witness

Cardinal Robert Sarah’s boldness in proclaiming the Gospel and resisting the Zeitgeist is a prophetic witness reminiscent of a 5th century North African Pope who laid the foundations for healthy church-state relations, Archbishop George Gänswein has said.

In a well-received speech in Rome Nov. 20 at the launch of the German edition of the book ‘God or Nothing’ — an interview with Cardinal Sarah by Nicolas Diat — the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI compared the cardinal favorably to Pope Gelasius I whom the Church, by coincidence, commemorated on Nov. 20.


Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Gänswein said in closing, “is someone who loves”, a man who shows us “how and which masterpiece God wants to shape us into if we do not oppose His artist’s hands.”

During the recent Synod on the Family, Cardinal Sarah gave one of the strongest interventions of the three week meeting, comparing gender ideology and the Islamic State to “apocalyptic beasts“.

Read the rest there.

The text of Archbp. Gänswein’s speech is included.

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UPDATE: Bishops of England, Wales v. SSPX? Request for review of Good Friday Prayer for Jews

UPDATE 24 Nov:

Fr. H has updated his post about the attack on Pope Benedict’s prayer for the Jews on Good Friday waged by the bishops in England and Wales.  Fr. H asked me to update you.

The BC [bishops conference] has now published a Note (see the thread) which does considerable discredit to whoever drafted it. He or she, indeed, appears to be unaware that the Prayer concerned was written by the Sovereign Pontiff himself … or else wishes the fact not to be known. The Note gives no information about what it is in the text composed by Pope Benedict that contradicts Nostra aetate. It claims that “the Prayer produced in 2008 [written by Benedict XVI!] reverted to being a prayer for the conversion of Jews to Christianity”, but fails to indicate which phrases in the text of the Prayer it deems objectionable. Whoever drafted it is clearly someone who believes, at all costs, in avoiding honest, or precise, dialogue.

At one point only does it come clean. “The Bishops of England and Wales have now added their voice to that of the German Bishops who have asked for the Prayer in the Extraordinary Form to be changed”. [So the Germans are attacking Benedict’s prayer, too.]

So now we know what is going on. Kasper’s belated revenge on Ratzinger, now that he can’t answer back.

____ Original Post Published on: Nov 23, 2015 @ 10:15 CT

Fr. John Hunwicke has at his excellent blog Mutual Enrichment an interesting bit of news.  Perpend:

“The Bishops’ Conference [of England and Wales] … ”

” … requests that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei review the prayer Pro Conversione Iudaeorum in the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in the light of the understanding in Nostra Aetate of the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism”.

There appears to be no indication whether this resolution, passed last week by the English and Welsh Bishops, was unanimous.
Assuming that the bishops did not all wake up one morning with one identical thought in every head, it would be interesting to know where this concern originated; particularly, whether with one of the bishops or in some Liturgy Committee. Such information is always available with regard to the deliberations of the American Episcopal Conference. [But not with the bishops of England and Wales?]

I find it extraordinary that whoever originated this move is unaware that the current form of that Prayer comes directly from the pen of Benedict XVI himself, who was at the Council as a peritus and, it has always seemed to me, gives the impression of knowing some of the Conciliar documents really quite well. And, while aware that a lot of people viscerally loathe Joseph Ratzinger, I have always found his writings, both as a theologian, and as Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, and as Successor of S Peter, cogent, convincing, and illuminating. I would like to be helped to understand where it is that I have gone wrong in this judgement.

A Conspiracy Theorist would probably wonder if this is part of an attempt to get rolling a movement for dismantling the Magisterium of Benedict XVI and for derailing the current rather promising rapprochement under the direction of Pope Francis between the Vatican and the SSPX. I, fortunately, am not a Conspiracy Theorist. What I would like to have, as a concerned Catholic Priest who tries to understand the Church’s Magisterium, is a lucid and unwoffly statement of what exactly it is in the Prayer which contradicts which precise affirmations of Nostra Aetate, [Good question.] a document to which, of course, I subscribe. Since the Prayer as composed by Benedict XVI carefully follows, even verbally, the teaching in the Epistle to the Romans of S Paul (an author whom I spent three decades teaching), I would also be very interested to know what it is in S Paul’s teaching which is deemed to fall under the condemnation of Nostra Aetate. 

I have written about Pope Benedict’s change to the Good Friday Prayer HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

In previous posts I give some context, a comparison of texts and my own analysis.


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Earth Might Have Hairy Dark Matter!

Some news about your planet.

From the Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

Earth Might Have Hairy Dark Matter

The solar system might be a lot hairier than we thought.

A new study publishing this week in the Astrophysical Journal by Gary Prézeau of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, proposes the existence of long filaments of dark matter, or “hairs.”

Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up about 27 percent of all matter and energy in the universe. The regular matter, which makes up everything we can see around us, is only 5 percent of the universe. The rest is dark energy, a strange phenomenon associated with the acceleration of our expanding universe.

Neither dark matter nor dark energy has ever been directly detected, although many experiments are trying to unlock the mysteries of dark matter, whether from deep underground or in space.

Based on many observations of its gravitational pull in action, scientists are certain that dark matter exists, and have measured how much of it there is in the universe to an accuracy of better than one percent. The leading theory is that dark matter is “cold,” meaning it doesn’t move around much, and it is “dark” insofar as it doesn’t produce or interact with light.

Galaxies, which contain stars made of ordinary matter, form because of fluctuations in the density of dark matter. Gravity acts as the glue that holds both the ordinary and dark matter together in galaxies.

According to calculations done in the 1990s and simulations performed in the last decade, dark matter forms “fine-grained streams” of particles that move at the same velocity and orbit galaxies such as ours.

“A stream can be much larger than the solar system itself, and there are many different streams crisscrossing our galactic neighborhood,” Prézeau said.

Prézeau likens the formation of fine-grained streams of dark matter to mixing chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Swirl a scoop of each together a few times and you get a mixed pattern, but you can still see the individual colors. [There are people who think this stuff up.]

“When gravity interacts with the cold dark matter gas during galaxy formation, all particles within a stream continue traveling at the same velocity,” Prézeau said.

But what happens when one of these streams approaches a planet such as Earth? Prézeau used computer simulations to find out.

His analysis finds that when a dark matter stream goes through a planet, the stream particles focus into an ultra-dense filament, or “hair,” of dark matter. In fact, there should be many such hairs sprouting from Earth.

A stream of ordinary matter would not go through Earth and out the other side. But from the point of view of dark matter, Earth is no obstacle. According to Prézeau’s simulations, Earth’s gravity would focus and bend the stream of dark matter particles into a narrow, dense hair.



Read the rest there.  They break it down Barney-style for us.

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