ASK FATHER: Should I say “Amen” if the priest is making up prayers?

From a reader…


When I attend Mass in the Ordinary Form, the priest sometimes illicitly modifies the texts or even makes up his own prayers. Is it sinful for me to silently pray along with the priest or to answer “amen”? Does this count as forbidden cooperation with the priest’s sin? Does it depend on whether the made-up prayers are heretical or otherwise intrinsically bad?

Allow me to preface this with a story about a faithful priest.

On March 3, 1796, Father Pierre-Rene Rogue was led from the prison where he had been held aintsince the previous Christmas Eve, having been arrested for the crime of bringing Holy Viaticum to a sick man in Vannes, France.  The Revolutionaries had tried at length to get him to go along with the spirit of the times, and adhere to the rites of worship that had been adopted by the revolutionary authorities, but kindly Father Rogue (he was only four foot ten and known as “le petit prete” by the locals) held fast to his faith. Before he was executed, his Roman collar was cut, his head shaved so he had no sign of tonsure, and his arms were tied behind his back. On the way to the scaffold, he sang a song of praise he had written in prison, and managed to give his watch to the man who had betrayed him. His mother was present at his trial, where she was horribly abused by the Revolutionaries who screamed at her, “You reared a monster!” She was likewise present at his execution, performed by one of his former pupils. He was beatified by Pius XI on May 10, 1934.

Fathers, it’s not that difficult to read the black and do the red. Your liturgical “creativity,” rather than making people holier, is causing confusion and crises.

Stop it. Stop it now.

I realize that I’m preaching mostly to the choir, but I get so fed up with the brethren who decide, upon their own initiative, to change things around. A word here or there, or a slip because of old habits… that’s one thing, but wholesale making stuff up because you know better is entirely another.

Perhaps it’s not entirely their fault.  First, they might simply be a little dumb, but not malicious or vain.  Otherwise, they may have had poor formation in the seminary.  Combined with poor leadership in their diocese or order… results vary.

At the same time, they are adults, privileged by the grace of God to stand at the altar and offer the most august sacrifice, so they presumably have enough sense in their heads to know what they are doing.

When attending a Mass at which liturgical abuse is taking place, one should certainly pray for the priest (or whomever is inflicting the abuse upon the faithful). If the priest, say, is making up his own Collect, one would probably not sin by saying “Amen” at the end of it, but neither would one sin by reading the appropriate Collect out of one’s hand missal quietly.  Don’t, by doing that, attempt to usurp the priest’s role. Intend, rather, to pray together with the entire Church, even though Father is rowing against the tide.

Depending on how well you know the priest, and having considered what sort of a man he is, it might be worthwhile to take him out to lunch some day. Explain to him how conflicted you are by his choice to mess with the Mass.

In an ideal world, speaking to the bishop about him might have some effect, but I fear we live in less than an ideal world.

Pray for him, and all those like him.

Bl. Pierre-Rene, intercede for all priests, and give to them a portion of your courage to remain faithful to the faith, their priesthood, and the liturgy.

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ROME – Day 0.5: Et In Arcadia Ego

Once back in the City, a switch is thrown in my head and it is as if I never left.

I made a run to Gammarelli to do some vestment business, but my guy wasn’t there.  I’ll have to go back.  Meanwhile, some stuff in the window.


If I am not mistaken, the buckles were still prescribed in 1962.  I suspect that was honored more in the breach than in the observance.

In addition to making diminutive birettas, now too miters.

I had to go to the Vodafone store for something… that was waste of time… but it is never a waste of time to visit San Lorenzo in Lucina.

The Crucifixion is by Guido Reni.

Here you find also the tomb of the painter Poussin.  Chateaubriand caused his monument to be made and carved with an image of one of Poussin’s better known works.

You can try your hand at the Latin.

On the image are carved the words “Et In Arcadia Ego”.

Some of you might be familiar with this phrase from your readings of Brideshead Revisited.   It is a kind of “memento mori” trope.  The idea is this.  “Arcadia” is an iconic place of beauty and pleasure.  You the reader, standing there reading the inscription, hear the inscription (and the person in the tomb) saying, “I, too, was in Arcadia”.  That is to say, “I, too, was once in the land of the living… but before long you, pal, are going to be here with me.”

Every priest needs a pulpit like this.


A quick stop in Sant’Andrea della Valle to visit Pius II.


And St. Giuseppe Maria Tomassi di Lampedusa.   An interesting guy, ahead of his time.  In a way, I am glad that he failed in his endeavors.

Look at this risible set up.  Good grief.

Stopping for an aperitif before supper.

Which drink is mine?

Rigatoni all Norcina.



On the way to some rack time.

The Roman sojourn has begun.

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Your Good News

Do you have some good news to share with the readership?

For my part… I’m in Rome.

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My View For Awhile: Silver Edition

I’m off! It is nice to have visual verification that your bag is going with you.

I was in a bit of a hurry at the end of packing.  I had carefully put out everything that had to go, except my laptop charger… which as you can imagine was a bad thing to leave behind.

Happily, in the airport on my layover, there was a shop with what I needed.  I am charged it.   (See what I did there?)

My view for a while from the lounge.


A nice old fella next to me is traveling with his daughters to cross some thing off of his bucket list. Bless him, his wife just passed away before they could go together.

Meanwhile, lots of planes going to lots of places.

And they are now replacing a generator in an engine.   Sigh.

At least my duty-free bag made the flight!


They pushed back our departure 30 min – grrr – maybe they’ll make up some time.

DELTA … Comfort Redefined™

Since we are entombed, they started the inflight screen, which has been upgraded to a better touch screen.

But I ask – in the audio section – which of these doesn’t belong?

And then there’s this…

No thanks.


This was scheduled to auto-post, but for some reason it didn’t.  Oh well… here it is now.

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Beware of scams and fraud

This morning I had several calls from someone (clearly from India) purporting to be from “technical support”, who started asked stupidly invasive questions.

Friends, legitimate tech support for your products does NOT call you out of the blue and tell you to do things.

NEVER NEVER NEVER do what these people ask or offer.



See my

Also, please know that this blog is under constant attack.   I will need some real help real soon to correct some things.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box | 23 Comments

ASK FATHER: Is divorce never an option?

From a reader…


I hope you are doing well! First, I want to thank you for your blog. Your writings have been very educational and inspirational. I’m hoping you might share your thoughts on an example that came up during a discussion with fellow Catholics on irregular marriages.

(Please forgive my errors in grammar. I have a disability and my errors were “excused” and never corrected in school. I’m working through some textbooks trying to improve.)

Several Catholics insisted divorce was not a “real” option for a
couple, with children, in an invalid marriage. If both adults do not agree to live as brother and sister, it would be preferable for them to continue to have relations and stay together rather than raise their children in divorced homes.

They insisted it was better to not partake in Confession and
Communion. They insisted the Church would never be in the business of breaking up families. They really weren’t open to discussion on this.

I was taught trying to keep sin at bay without the sacraments is a fool’s errand. While divorce is less than ideal, it is not necessarily sinful. Once sin takes root, it grows. Alcoholism, drug addiction, anger issues, and abusive attitudes do not spring up out of nothing. Children are vulnerable targets.

This idea seems terrifying to me. It seems somewhat arrogant. The idea that “good” Catholics cannot fall. That we can limit and conquer sin without obeying God’s law. I will confess it angers me this idea is promoted for the sake of the children who will be the ones who pay the price if this all goes south.

It is possible my opinion is being colored far too much by my own experiences, but would the Church really insist it is better to stay in sin and away from the sacraments rather than put children through a divorce?

Discussing situations like these in the abstract is fraught with difficulties, because people want to go from the particular situation to the general principles, and then back to another particular, which may be entirely dissimilar to the original situation discussed.

Divorce is bad.

The effects of divorce upon society are bad. The effects of divorce upon the couple are bad. The effects of divorce upon children, other family members, neighbors, friends and coworkers are bad.

Worse than divorces are invalid marriages.

A couple who remain in a marriage which they know to be invalid, and continue to live as husband and wife, to engage in all that activity that should be exclusively shared by a husband and wife, are act perilously.

By the way… “knowing” that one is in an invalid marriage is a delicate proposition. The people involved are not the judges of these things. The Church reserves to Herself, to Her tribunal system, the right to determine whether a marriage has been proven to be invalid. The opinions of the parties are not wholly probative (can. 1536, 2).

If one has doubts about the validity of one’s marriage, that person should immediately seek the counsel of a trusted priest.

There are situations and circumstances where I could envision advising someone to remain in the conjugal home, particularly if there are children involved who would be unduly harmed by their parents’ separation and divorce. I would not advise someone in such a situation to stay away from the sacraments. Hence, that means not engage in intimacies with his or her purported spouse.

The Church is definitely not in favor of breaking up families. But neither is the Church in favor of the pretense of marriage when it is clearly false.

In some cases, I could see myself advising the couple to separate, preferably by utilizing the Church’s process for separation while the bond remains (canon. 1151-1155 & 1692-1696, which allows the party to separate from bed and board on his or her own volition, can. 1153). Cases of abuse, situations where the children’s safety or well-being are in doubt, situations where the common life has deteriorated to such a degree that no one, least of all the children (who tend to be very perceptive) is fooled by the pretense of normalcy, … all these situations could warrant a legitimate separation and even permit the parties to turn to the civil courts and pursue a divorce.

Since this is delicate, comment moderation is ON and I may be slow to review the queue.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Canon Law, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

ASK FATHER: Q&A instead of homily

From a reader…


Father, Is it permissible for a priest to instead of giving a homily at a Sunday Mass, “Open up that time to the congregation for a Q&A on any topics they would like to discuss?” I am pretty sure this is not ok but wanted to double check that this is in fact not permitted, as our priest informed us. he will be doing this next Sunday. Thank you!


It’s not okay, and frankly, it’s rather silly. 

I would recommend going.  Ask the question:

“Father, when did the Church give you the authority to mess around with our Liturgy and turn the homily into a Town Hall Meeting?”

If he pulls out a ukelele… well… that’s, as they say, another whole ball of wax.

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Your Trinity Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point or two in the sermon you heard for your Sunday Mass of obligation?

I’ll bet some of you heard some odd things about the Trinity.

Here is a little Trinity Sunday question for you.

In your Sunday sermons today, did you hear the preacher make an analogy for the Trinity?

Did he says something like…

The Trinity is like water, which can be steam, ice or water. (Modalism)

The Trinity is like an egg, which can be shell, yolk and white. (Tritheism)

The three Persons are like three wine bottles of the same wine.

The Father is like the Sun, the Son like Light, the Spirit like warmth.

What did you hear?

Good? Not so good?

We can understand that people resort to analogies when speaking of the Trinity.  Do they get it right?


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Benedict XVI says he never told anyone the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima was incomplete

There has been a bit of a dust up in the last days about the Third Secret of Fatima.  Was the whole of the Third Secret truly released?  Some say that it wasn’t.

One blog recently posted some claims about what Joseph Ratzinger told a German professor about the Third Secret.

Now it seems that Benedict XVI has said he never told anyone that the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima in the year 2000 was incomplete, and he confirmed the document was published in its totality.

A Communiqué was published Saturday by the Holy See Press Office on various articles regarding the Third Secret of Fatima:

“Several articles have appeared recently, including declarations attributed to Professor Ingo Dollinger according to which Cardinal Ratzinger, after the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima (which took place in June 2000), had confided to him that the publication was not complete,” – the Communiqué reads – “In this regard, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI declares ‘never to have spoken with Professor Dollinger about Fatima’, clearly affirming that the remarks attributed to Professor Dollinger on the matter ‘are pure inventions, absolutely untrue’, and he confirms decisively that ‘the publication of the  Third Secret of Fatima is complete’.”

Take that for what it’s worth.

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Explain the Trinity? No problem! WDTPRS Trinity Sunday

This is the Postcommunio of the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity in the 1962MR.

There is a pleasant rhyme herein of susceptio and confessio, three syllable words preceded by words of four syllables and both deserving a little closer inspectio.


Proficiat nobis ad salutem corporis et animae, Domine Deus noster, huius sacramenti susceptio, et sempiternae sanctae Trinitatis eiusdemque individuae Unitatis confessio.

The indomitable Lewis & Short Dictionary indicates that a susceptio is “a taking in hand, undertaking” and “an acceptance”. This is a substantive derived from the verb suscipio. The deponent verb confiteor gives us the noun confessio, which means in its basic meaning “a confession, acknowledgment” and thus also “a creed, avowal of belief” and more specifically in the Latin Vulgate “an acknowledgment of Christ” (Rom 10:10, Heb 3:1) and therefore in the early Church “an acknowledgment of Christ under torture; and hence, “torture, suffering for religion’s sake” (Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum 1).

A review of vocabulary is always important and can provide some new insights into the deeper meaning of a prayer, but often the structure or word order can give clues as well.

Today we have one main verb proficiat, coming from proficio (“to profit, derive advantage” and “to be useful, serviceable, advantageous, etc.,”) an old friend of WDTPRS vets. This noun has two subjects, susceptio and confessio. Susceptio is further specified by huius sacramenti (“reception of this sacrament”) and confessio is delineated in two ways, Trinitatis (“of the Trinity”) and Unitatis (“of the Unity”).

Often in Latin we will have a sentence structure of noun and then, frequently at the very end, main verb, with many other clauses and material in between which can be pealed open like layers of an onion. Here, the verb is out front as the very first word and the final subject noun is the last word.

For me, this structure emphasizes the nouns susceptio and especially confessio and the intimate relationship between them as well as the concepts that are attached to them, that is, the intimate bond at the moment of Communion between our reception of Christ’s Body and Blood with our “confession” of a God who is Triune – Three distinct divine Persons having one indivisible divine nature.

Furthermore, the theme of distinct elements in indivisible unity is even carried into the effect we hope for from the act of Communion in Mass: “health” of both “body and soul”. Latin salus is “a being safe and sound; a sound or whole condition, health, welfare, prosperity, preservation, safety, deliverance” and also in Christian contexts such as the Vulgate “salvation, deliverance from sin and its penalties. It can be rendered as both “health” and “salvation”.


Lord, God,
we worship you, a Trinity of Persons, one eternal God.
May our faith and the sacrament we receive
bring us health of mind and body


May the reception of this sacrament, O Lord our God,
and also the confession of our faith in the holy everlasting Trinity
and of the undivided Unity of the same,
profit us for the salvation of body and soul


May receiving this Sacrament, O Lord our God,
bring us health of body and soul,
as we confess your eternal holy Trinity and undivided Unity

Hmmmm…. you decide.

We have pairs of terms in this Latin prayer which underscore relationships: corpus and anima, susceptio and confessio, Trinitas and Unitas. Each element is necessary for and balances the other.

Humans are by God’s design persons comprised of both body and soul (corpus et anima). By contrast, angels are persons having only a soul but no body. The temporary separation of our body and our soul results in death. Their reunion at the end of time produces the resurrection of the flesh.

God loves us so much that he provides sustenance for both constituent elements.

In Holy Communion we have a food which our body transforms into what it is (flesh and blood) and which transforms our souls in to what It is (more perfect images of the Triune God after the Person of the Risen Christ).

For us to participate in this mysterious exchange of transformations we must both inwardly and outwardly conform to the transcendent reality we seek to embrace and be embraced by.

Thus, before we can receive the transformed and transforming Host in Communion, we must be in an authentic communion of faith both with a larger group of believers and partakers called the Church and we must be interiorly disposed to receive the invisible benefits that the outward signs and actions portend. We must make a true confession and profession of faith consistent with our interior landscape. We must also be physically disposed, which is why we are asked to fast before receiving the Eucharist.

In the mystery of the Unity and Trinity of God we believe that, from all eternity and before material creation and even outside of time itself, the One God who desired a perfect communion of love expressed Himself in a perfect Word, containing all that He is. The Word God uttered was and is a perfect self-expression, also perfectly possessing what the Speaker possess: being, omniscience, omnipotence, truth, beauty, and even personhood. So, from all eternity there were always two divine Persons, the God who spoke and the Word who was spoken, the God who Generates and the God who is Generated, true God with and from true God, Begetter and Begotten, Father and Son. There was never a time when this was not so. These two Persons eternally regard and contemplate each other. From all eternity they knew and loved each other, each embracing the other in a perfect gift of self-giving. And since the self-gift of these perfect and divine Persons, distinct but sharing one divine nature, is a perfect self-gift, perfectly given and perfectly received, the very Gift between them also contains all that each of the Persons have: being, omniscience, omnipotence, truth, beauty, and even personhood. Therefore, from all eternity there exist three distinct divine Persons having one indivisible divine nature, Father, Son and the perfect self-gift of love between them, the Holy Spirit.

This is a foundational and saving doctrine we believe in as Christians. At the core of everything else we believe in and hope for, we will find this mysterious doctrine of divine relationship, the Triune God.

By baptism we images of God are brought into a new relationship with this Triune God.

We become the adoptive children of the heavenly Father, members of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ in the Mystical Person of the Holy Church which He founded. The Holy Spirit makes of us His dwelling so that all the divine Persons are present to us and in us, informing all that we are, do and say. Our membership in the Church opens the way to an eternal relationship of glory and praise with the Trinity.

The promise and token of this eternal reward is how we, as members of a Church of believers professing a common Faith, can take into our bodies, and thus into our souls, the already transformed Body and Blood of the Second Person, the one who unites in His divine Person both the eternity divinity of God and the finite two-fold nature of man.

For this to have taken place and to make it possible for us to “return back” to the Father, the Second Person “went forth” from the Father in a new way, this time in the context of time and space. In taking us up in our human nature, He made an act of self-empyting. In filling us with divine gifts in Holy Communion, Christ renews (not re-sacrifices) His Sacrifice, His giving forth and His taking back up again.

In Holy Mass we are asked to “take up and give forth” (susceptio et confessio). In our confessio we make an exterior expression, giving forth outwardly what we are within. “I confess (confiteor) to almighty God…” is just a scratching of the surface, though an important one.

BotticelliFor St. Augustine in his great prayer and autobiographical “giving forth” (The Confessions) the word confessio carried layers upon layers of meaning. As we learn in the magisterial Augustinus Lexicon, for Augustine confessio simultaneously and in a fluid way bore three main concepts: confession of sin, praise of God, and profession of faith.

For Augustine all created things in the universe, even inanimate things, both give witness to God and give Him glory:

“Respondent tibi omnia: Ecce vide, pulchra sumus. Pulchritudo eorum confessio eorum… All things respond to you, O God: ‘Behold! See! We are beautiful!’ Their beauty is their hymn of praise/demonstration that you are God/admission that they are not God” (s. 241, 2 – PL 38: 1133).

Are we beautiful at Mass?

What we do outwardly in our bodies and what we do interiorly in our souls must conform to the Trinity in whose image we are made.

Receiving Holy Communion is a profound statement of who we are and what we hope to be. The act of reception must be consistent with who we are and what we are about in life. That act of reception must inform and transform all other acts which, in their turn, are a living “confession”, bearing witness, giving praise, and recognizing our true status before God which can often involve confession of sins.

Similarly every act of praise and testimony of the Church in her liturgy should reflect beautifully and accurately all that the Church professes and longs for.

Every liturgical gesture, church building, vestment, musical prayer, text and translation must be like a gift simultaneously coming forth from the Sacred Heart of the Son and given to us for our benefit as well as a response we make to the glory of the Triune God who gives them.

“Their beauty is their praise.”

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