ASK FATHER: An old priest gets confused, hard to understand

old_priest_by_vidagr-d5laqk6From a reader…

Our parish has a mass that is served by an increasingly elderly and frail priest. His physical limitations are what they are. The concern that he needs prompting through the entire mass, not just the daily changes, but including prayers and the consecration. Also despite prompting from his loyal assistant sections are often mumbled, and the congregation can’t understand what is being said. At what point do we have to worry about whether the mass is valid? Or confessions?

Isn’t it a wonderful consolation that Christ took our human infirmity into mind before founding His Church and priesthood?  He knew that we – his priests – would grow old, get sick, suffer from the effects of the Original Sin which He came to resolve.

There were a couple summers when, back from Rome at my home parish, the pastor would send me (bottom of the pecking order by far) over to the chapel each day to help the octogenarian priest he allowed to come every day for the afternoon Mass.  I often questioned this choice by the pastor.  This priest, by the way, was in the 3rd wave at Normandy and was at the Battle of the Bulge.  He was an ornery little cuss.  Many were the times when I would have to have him back up and do something over for validity, though I learned to let some things slide.  He was hard to work with.  However, over time, this former Lutheran of Prussian descent learned a lot from having a church in Italy and helping this old priest.

Would there have been times when I wasn’t there and Mass wasn’t valid because he did not get the words of consecration right?  Probably.  Would there have been times that he didn’t get the form of absolution right? Probably.

And yet Jesus chose us poor men, who get old.  I’m sorry that we can’t be 33 years perfect for you all the time.  Talk to the Lord about that when you see Him.  I, for one, want to have a serious discussion with Him about why He made our breathing tubes and eating tubes cross.  Perhaps that’s so that He could kill off some of us when we were done.  Perhaps.

There is a huge difference between the work of the elderly and the work of the able bodied.  Were I a bishop, I would bring the wrath of God down on a man who, completely sui compos, changed or omitted sacramental forms.  Believe me: The Ride of the Valkyries and Robert Duval would be nothing compared to what that priest would experience at my hands were I to get involved.

But when it comes to old priests… who’ve serve for 5, 6, 7 decades… I’d try to give them them lots of support to keep working if they wanted to.

Thousands of Masses.  Many thousands of confessions.  Hundreds of baptisms and marriages.  Countless acts of counseling and kindness. Tens of thousands of hours of praying the breviary and rosary.  Many hours of suffering.  Old priests and old soldiers….

Thank the Lord, folks, when you get an old curmudgeon in a confessional once in a while who cuts through all your oblique patter.

Lots of lib priests retired as soon as they can.  Lots of faithful priest want to die with their boots on.

I know old priests who want to die saying Mass.  I’ve actually watched a couple priests die while saying Mass.

None of this, of course, diminishes the problems of invalid Masses or confessions.  Yes, that’s a problem.  The faithful shouldn’t ever have to wonder or doubt.  There are also the issues of stipends.

Yet… Jesus didn’t change our human nature when He chose us.  We are still weak and infirm, sinners and sinned against.

Maybe this can teach lay people about how very alone an older priest can be.  You might not think about that.  You really should think about that.  Some of them soldier on without a lot of support.  I, for one, in my present circumstances might not be missed for some time, were something to happen.

As priests get older, and their condition of life changes, they look back on what they gave up.  It is sometimes harder for the older priests than for the younger men, whose zeal can carry them forward more easily.  I’m starting to get this more and more as my hair rapidly goes gray or simply takes a break.

Let’s always keep our eyes on these old guys and get them extra help when questions come up.  Be good to them.  Thank them.  They just want to be of service. Their whole identity for their entire lives, for which they sacrificed so much, is tied to the activity of being a priest!

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Your Sunday Sermon Notes

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

Let us know.

I, for one, did not preach!

However, I did meditate during Mass on how silly differences tend to keep conservatives and traditional Catholics apart and, thus divided, weaker than they could be, while libs, dissenters and heretics work together to tear everything down.  Petty problems shouldn’t part us.  Paul was wise to admonish people never to let the sun go down on their anger.

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The war is here.

I would like to be able to write like Anthony Esolen every day.  His latest, at the increasingly useful Crisis, is not to be missed.

Most of us who are paying attention to the signs of the times, know that something is heading straight towards us that, while it will be done unto us according to God’s permissive will, we aren’t going to enjoy.   Esolen says it in his piece as bluntly as I’ve been saying it for a while too: We are at war.

In this War, there will be the usual suspects.  History repeats and we tend to divide up rather like stock characters in commedia dell’arte.

Esolen identifies four groups which will emerge when the persecution of the Church really gets going.  I’ll give you a taste, by means of excerpts, but you really must go there to read it yourselves.

What Will You Do When the Persecution Comes?

I know there are plenty of Catholics who are, in one way or another, looking forward to the relentless institutional persecution that is coming our way unless we surrender the One Thing Needful to the secular left, and that is the family-destroying and state-feeding beast called the Sexual Revolution, with its seven heads and ten horns and the harlot squatting atop it. As I see it, these Catholics belong to four groups.

The Persecutor
First are the Persecutors. These people hate the Church, and that is why they remain ostensible members of it. They desire from within to punish the Church for what they perceive to be her sins, which these days have nothing to do with her teachings on the Trinity or the nature of Christ, but with sex—so tawdry are our heresies. O Arius, Arius, would that we had such as you for our enemy! The Persecutor has unbridled contempt for Pope John Paul II, the too-lenient father whom the Persecutor, like a spoiled brat, portrays as a tyrant, and for Benedict XVI, whose broad-ranging and penetrating intellect makes the Persecutor feel puny by comparison.


The Quisling
Second, the Quislings. The Quisling does not hate the Church, but he does not love her, either. He is a worldling and craves the approval of the world. He believes in “the future,” and that means he is easy prey for the peddlers of ideological fads: a field mouse against the Great Horned Owl. He is embarrassed by tradition. He is seldom brave enough to express formal heresy, just as he is seldom brave enough to defend the Church with any clarity or confidence. He seems pleasant enough, is perfectly lamb-like when it comes to wining and dining with the powerful, but will turn with a pent-up frustration against the ordinary churchgoer who dares to question his prudence. If he is a bishop, he is secretly happy to close churches and sell off their property, comforting himself with the thought that he is doing what is only necessary in hard times, and blaming the parishioners themselves for failing to bring up their children in the faith—when in point of fact he and the chancery have given them no help at all in doing so, and have usually checked them at every pass.


The Avenger
Then comes the Avenger. He has tried to live in accord with the Church, and has received mainly contempt from her, or neglect, or persecution. That has curdled him within, and he now hates the Church such as she is more than he loves her as the bride of Christ. He sees that the Church has compromised herself by taking Caesar’s coin, even when Caesar offered it at first with the most innocent of intentions, and so he looks forward to the time when Holy Mother will have to do without that money. It occurs to him that that will kill an untold number of Catholic schools and colleges, but he says that they deserve to die; and he does not clearly consider how many souls will be lost. To him, it is better that there should be no Catholic school at all, than that there should be a school struggling to remain Catholic in a bad time—struggling, and often failing, but struggling for all that.


The Soldier
Last we have the Soldier. The Soldier complains about his superiors not because they give him bad orders, but because they give him no orders at all. He wants to do battle, and is willing to be led. He knows that war is hell, but that he and the Church have not sought the war. The war and the demons who lead it have sought the Church, to adulterate her or to kill her. The Soldier would prefer peace: he would prefer that his country might return to at least a worldly sanity, and grant the Church the liberty that she is owed and that redounds to the great benefit of the state itself.


Each one of those lacunae represents great reading.

Lately I’ve cited the message attributed to Leon Trotsky: You might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

I can’t shake the premonition that, shortly, we are really going to be in it up to our necks.   We should all start getting our heads into a mental place where we will be better able to handle the stresses to come.  Prepare for darker times.

Fathers: May I make a suggestion?  Can you say a Mass, a Mass with a particular formulary, by heart? No book?  All the antiphons? The readings, too?  This could be useful in the future.  Remember, too, that wine valid for Mass can be made from raisins.    It should resemble regular wine as much as possible.  Some Easterners makes wine for their Eucharist from raisins, by letting the desiccated grapes set in water for sometime so that fermentation will take place.  File that away in your memory and start memorizing stuff.


Posted in Be The Maquis, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, The Olympian Middle | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Archbp. Chaput: a smaller Church of fewer believers rather than compromise orthodoxy

16_08_14_Madonna_del_Soccorso_01Every once in a while people opine about whether or not it would be good (and not just inevitable) to have a smaller, leaner, more faithful Church rather than one filled (mainly?) by mere cultural Catholics or CINOs. Benedict XVI spoke about a “creative minority” in larger society. This speaks to our Catholic identity, which has been so devastated since the 60’s by enervated and even faithless preaching of pabulum or downright error, feckless leadership in the public square, and flaccid, aimless, evacuated liturgy.

John Allen at Crux 2.0 has a report about comments made by Philly’s Archbp. Chaput at Notre Shame, for the 2016 Bishops’ Symposium, “Reclaiming the Church for the Catholic Imagination.” It was sponsored by the USCCB and an ND think tank.  My emphases and comments.

Philly’s Chaput welcomes idea of smaller, holier Church

In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, [To use an image from the ancient world, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.] a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter Church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of orthodoxy.  [I think not all of his fellow bishops agree with that.]
In a speech delivered Oct. 19 at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought to leave the Church. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]
Chaput singled out Democrats such as Vice President Joe [the Theologian] Biden and vice presidential nominee Tim [Quisling] Kaine for special criticism, linking them to the concept of a “silent apostasy” coined by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and saying Catholics who do not champion the truth of Church teaching are “cowards.” [YES!]
“Obviously we need to do everything we can to bring tepid Catholics back to active life in the Church,” Chaput told a symposium for bishops and their staff members at the South Bend, Ind. campus. [And that project, Your Excellency, must be accomplished especially through a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship.]
But we should never be afraid of a smaller, lighter Church if her members are also more faithful, more zealous, more missionary and more committed to holiness.  [They will be more articulate and exemplary in the public square.]
Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss,” he continued. “It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay. We should be focused on commitment, not numbers or institutional throw-weight.”  [Right.  What would we be losing by losing them?  The occasional presence and contribution at Christmas and Easter?]
Chaput’s ideas channeled a lively and long-standing debate in Church circles – intensified by Pope Francis’s open-arms approach to ministry – about whether Catholicism should be a smaller and more tradition-minded community, or a larger and more inclusive Church of imperfect believers at various stages in their spiritual pilgrimages. [Get! Out!]
In the context of the coming presidential vote, Chaput’s speech was also the latest in a series of pronouncements by conservative bishops and Catholic activists who have blasted Democrats [The Party of Death] as Election Day draws closer.


You can read more of Allen’s report on this speech over there.

The full transcript of Chaput’s talk is HERE.

I like the way he started out:

As I sat down to write my talk last week, a friend emailed me a copy of a manuscript illustration from the 13th century.  It’s a picture of Mary punching the devil in the nose.  She doesn’t rebuke him.  She doesn’t enter into a dialogue with him.  She punches the devil in the nose.  So I think that’s the perfect place to start our discussion.

This all brings up the contended point:

Should they just get out?

Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

Spiritual Super Powers: Monks of Norcia and Card. Sarah

I am reading Card. Sarah’s new book “The Power of Silence: against the dictatorship of noise”.  It is profound.  What a tonic for the confused pabulum we are getting from… elsewhere.

I got a note from the Benedictine monks of Norcia – who make great beer – about the visit of Card. Sarah to their earthquake stricken digs.

“It reminds me of Bethlehem.”

With these words, Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican, brought consolation and inspiration to the ears of his listeners — the 10 monks of San Benedetto in Monte. In the early hours of October 22, we gathered together for the Cardinal’s blessing of our temporary living quarters.

After sprinkling the kitchen, scriptorium, beds and chapel, he declared gently but powerfully: “I am certain that the future of the Church is in the monasteries… because where prayer is, there is the future.”

Planned long before the earthquake, His Eminence’s visit for a speech to the local lay chapter of the Association of St. Benedict, Patron of Europe, became the occasion for a visit to the damaged buildings and personal time with the monks. After assisting at Conventual Mass in choir, the Cardinal brought his gentle tone and gracious words to an informal gathering of the entire monastic community and answered our questions with candor and depth, reminding us that, just as Pope Benedict XVI has given us an example of the importance of prayers, we are called to be men of prayer for the entire Church, to help bring up to heaven all who encounter us in one broad sursum corda.

This delightful visit was no doubt the highlight of the week, but as we prepared for it we also cleaned the property and enjoyed an intense mountain hike to explore the 17th century stone walls surrounding the property. We were searching for the best places to pray — and for a spot to picnic!
Other discoveries this week have included the surprise donation of a gas stove top from a local restaurant. Monks in town made a fraternal visit to the Benedictine monastery of S. Pietro in Perugia which has often hosted our monks while they study Italian. The leaves are now changing color and the mountainside of Norcia reminds of autumn in New England. We know many there and throughout the world are praying for us and as winter comes closer, know that your prayers are appreciated as we now have roofs over our heads and a warm fire. Deo Volente, we might just have our church of San Benedetto in Monte open by Christmas. A new Bethlehem indeed.

We produce below a transcript of the Cardinal’s words to the monks at San Benedetto in Monte following the blessing:

Thank you for this welcome, for the prayer this morning, and for asking me to bless this house, which reminds me of Bethlehem, where it all began. Salvation began in Bethlehem, in absolute poverty, and I think that we should follow Christ in this, in His poverty, which is also the humility of God. God is humble, God is poor, but He is rich in love. To live here means that your heart is full of the love of God, for you cannot live with God without loving him. Love is at the center of all of our work. This is why the revelation that Jesus gives us says that the Lord, our Father, is love, and that everything we do comes from love, above all.

I ask that this be a place of love for the Lord. I am certain that the future of the Church is in the monasteries, because where prayer is, there is the future. Where there is no prayer, there is disaster, division, war. Perhaps I am not an optimist, but I see that a church that doesn’t pray is a disastrous church. Since you are a church that prays, the whole of the Church is here.

So I thank you for your commitment, for this manifestation of your love, for the expression of your love in continuous prayer. Pray for the Church, pray for the Holy Father, for his collaborators and for me. I promise you now that I am familiar with your home, that I will always pray for you and ask the Lord to continue to send you more young men to join your life that serves the Lord in prayer, in silence and, above all, in solitude.

Thank you, pray for me. I promise to pray for you. And if the Lord gives me life, perhaps I will return to see your new home. But never forget poverty, never forget humility, and if your house is beautiful, remain always humble and poor. Thank you.

– Robert Cardinal Sarah –
October 22, 2016

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WDTPRS – 23rd Sunday after Pentecost: SNIP!

In the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum this Sunday’s Collect prayer in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite was in the ancient Veronese Sacramentary in the month of September, a fast time. It was a bit different: Absolue, domine, quaesumus, tuorum delicta populorum, et quod mortalitatis contrahit fragilitate purifica; ut cuncta pericula mentis et corporis te propellente declinans, tua consolatione subsistat, tua graita promissae redemptionis perficiatur hereditas.  It also was used on a weekday of Lent.  It also survived to live on in the Novus Ordo book, as well.

Absolve, quaesumus, Domine, tuorum delicta populorum, ut a peccatorum nexibus, quae pro nostra fragilitate contraximus, tua benignitate liberemur.

A nexus, from necto (“to bind, tie, fasten; to join, bind, or fasten together, connect”), is “a tying or binding together, a fastening, joining, an interlacing, entwining, clasping” and thence, “a personal obligation, an addiction or voluntary assignment of the person for debt, slavery for debt”.  Nexus is used to indicate also “a legal obligation of any kind”.  It is not uncommon to find somehwere near nexus the word absolvo, which is “to loosen from, to make loose, set free, detach, untie”.  In juridical language it means “to absolve from a charge, to acquit, declare innocent”.

Here is a truly fascinating piece from the mighty Lewis & Short Dictionary: “to bring a work to a close, to complete, finish (without denoting intrinsic excellence, like perficere; the fig. is prob. derived from detaching a finished web from the loom”.

Contraho in this context is “to bring about, carry into effect, accomplish, execute, get, contract, occasion, cause, produce, make”.  Blaise/Dumas indicates that contraho means “to commit sin”.


Unloose, O Lord, we implore, the transgressions of Your peoples, so that in Your kindness we may be freed from the bonds of the sins which we committed on account of our weakness.

ICEL version:

grant us your forgiveness
and set us free from our enslavement to sin.

When you see an English version that is shorter than the Latin original, your alarms bells should ring.  18 words in Latin, 14 English words in the obsolete ICELese.

Think of sin as a web which we both weave and then get caught in.  As Hamlet says the engineer is “hoist with his own petard”.

When our First Parents comitted the Original Sin, they contracted (contraho) the guilt and effects for the whole human race.  At that point our race was bound by justice.   To be “justified” again, and to be unbound from our guilt and set to right with God, reparation had to be made.  Thus, the New Adam allowed Himself to be bound by His tormentors, and be bound to the Cross, and then unbind His soul from His Body and die.

The Sacrifice of the Lord was aimed not just at a few chosen or privileged people.  It was for all peoples.  The Sacrifice was “for all”, though “all” will not accept its effects.  Some will refuse what Christ did to free us from our sins and the punishments of eternal hell they deserve.  “Many” will be saved as a result of Christ’s Passion and Death.  Which side of the reckoning will you be on.

Returning to the image of the loom, which is woven into today’s vocabulary, I have in mind the incredible phrase from the Book of Job:

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to their end without hope.  Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.”

Our days are indeed like a shuttle.

Zip Zap Zip Zap Zip Zap…

Some years ago I met a women who wove cloth with a large loom.  She showed me how it worked.  In her practiced hands, the shuttle lashed swiftly back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, while the loom packed the threads together.  The cloth “grew” as it was woven, slowly, but surely.  The shuttle snapped back and forth with increasing speed as she found her rhythm and settled into it.  At the end… SNIP… the thread was cut.  Absolutely.

Absolved?  Unabsolved?


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ASK FATHER: Is a priest allowed to do the readings, or must a lay person do them?

From a reader…


On occassion the Lector or Reader is a no-show for Mass and Father will say “We’ll just wait for someone to come do the readings.” At the Sat. evening vigil Mass many of us are older and I, for one, am petrified of getting up in front of people. Sometimes we’ve waited a good long time before someone, in anger by that point, stomps up there to read. Is it absolutely necessary to stop Mass for this or can the accolyte or priest just do the readings on these occassions?

Ridiculous.   The priest should do the readings.  That is, after all, his job.

Have we gotten to the point of such sclerotic clericalism? Priests won’t budge out of their chairs because they want someone to feel like she is participating by being allowed to do the priest’s work in the sanctuary?  Lay people are not dignified enough on their own?  No no.  They have to be actualized by the priest, who condescends to let them do something he can do.

Sound harsh?  That’s what happens when we turn the sock inside out on this craze to have all sorts of people doing stuff in the name of “active participation” of the laity.  It’s a subtle form of clericalism.  And sometimes it’s not so subtle.

I suppose most priests nowadays are deeply conditioned to give up their roles in the priestly precinct of the sanctuary, the presbyterium.

We have even gotten to the point where someone wonder if the priest is allowed to read the readings himself!

I’ll be there are priests out there who barely remember that they could do the readings themselves. It is as if they are under a foul spell, some fell enchantment.

There popped into my mind’s eye the image of King Theoden being freed from the clutches of the modernist liturgist Saruman. In this scenario I am Gandalf   Priests across the land are Theoden, oppressed by modernist liturgists who, through their whispered poisons, twist the clerics into a false confirmation of lay people.

There is even a cameo appearance by Tim Kaine as Wormtongue.

“You would remember your priestly strength better, if you grasped your priestly role!”

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Wimple by Wimple in New Jersey

A few days ago I was in Florence and I saw things and places associated with Savonarola.  This, of course, reminded me of the smoke-scented glycerin soap made by the wonderful Summit Dominicans, the great “soap sisters”, called “Savonarola”… get it?  Lemme help… any French speakers out there who know something of the history of Florence?

They’re not on a bus.  They’re not in pants suits.  They’re in habits.

Not only. These marvelous Dominicans have now returned to the use of the wimple.

Here is a recent photo…


Help them build their new monastic building.  They are in desperate need of more space.

PS to women religious out there reading this:
They have vocations.  

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Christmas isn’t too far away

I just received an email from my baker who made stunning homemade panettone for me, for the bishops, and for my Supper For The Promotion of Clericalism.  This got me to thinking about Christmas shopping preparations.  It is good to get some of these things out of the way now, so that Advent can be more about what it is supposed to be about.  Why wait?   Right?

So, I’ll remind you that when you Christmas shop online, pretty please use my Amazon search box?  I’ll get a small percentage, the price remains the same for you, and you get stuff delivered to your doorstep.  Easy peasy.

Also, remember to frequent the wonderful Wyoming Carmelites and their coffee, tea and religious products.  HERE

The Summit Dominicans make soaps and the foofy things.  HERE  Women seem to like this stuff, and I believe they appreciate it when men use soap.

There is Z-Swag.  HERE  Irritate libs.

Another great option would be to get beautiful art work from Daniel Mitsui and have it framed.   That’s what I have done.  It is edifying and much appreciated.  The latest I did was a housewarming gift to a priest friend when he moved. Mitsui has a great variety of works.  Also, I am pretty sure that, right now especially, you’ll do him a great service by frequenting his site in a timely manner and getting his art.  HERE

I just noticed his coloring pages for children.  Very spiffy.  Please go look.

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Contentions between liturgists and musicians: What to do?

guido mariniIt is too bad that, thanks to our fallen nature and the prodding of the Enemy of the soul, we have conflicts in the Church.  You will, however, note right back at me that we have had arguments since before Day One.  Consider, for example, the argument between the Apostles over who might be higher or the avaricious whine of Judas over the use of money.

Sometimes we have to have fights, however.  When the stakes are high, we mustn’t shy from conflicts just because they upset us.

I saw a story at CNS about a talk given by Msgr. Guido Marini (aka Good Marini), who is the Holy Father’s Master of Ceremonies.  He was brought in by Benedict XVI from Genoa and the umbral influence of the late, great Card. Siri, and remains in place even now.   He answered a question about conflicts over liturgy and music.

One of the things that I learned of early on in my time in the Church, first in theory and then in practice, was about the perennial tension that exists between liturgists and musicians. Msgr. Schuler, the long-time pastor of St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, who had been involved in the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae before and after the Council, who had edited Sacred Music for decades, who had served in the infamous advisory board to the US Bishops… he tried to fend off the predations of the likes of Weakling… described many instances of his battles over music and liturgy.   Then in seminary and after, I found out on my own how difficult it can be to work as a musician with a “liturgist”, or on the liturgical side with a musician.   This is something repeated in parishes across the world, I’m sure.

Let’s look at what Msgr. Marini said, with my emphases and comments.

Fighting over liturgy distorts purpose of Mass, papal liturgist says

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When a choir director and parish priest differ over liturgical music, the choir should follow in good faith the wishes of the priest for the sake of unity, said the papal liturgist. [There really isn’t another way, is there?  Even when the priest is an ignorant boob, as so many of them are, he’s da man.]

When it comes to celebrating the liturgy, “we should never fight,” Msgr. Guido Marini told choir members, directors and priests. “Otherwise, we distort the very nature” of what the people of God should be doing during the Mass, which is seeking to be “one body before the Lord.” [There’s fighting and there’s fighting, respond I.  Some things are just plain wrong, and they should be resisted.]

The papal master of liturgical ceremonies spoke Oct. 21 at a conference opening a three-day jubilee for choirs. Hundreds of people involved in providing music for the liturgical celebrations in Italian dioceses and parishes — such as singers, organists and musicians — attended, as did directors of diocesan liturgy offices and schools of sacred music.

During a brief question-and-answer period after his talk [often the part of the talk that people enjoy the most] on the role of the choir, a participant asked Msgr. Marini what she termed “an uncomfortable, practical question.”

“Many times, in our parishes, the priest wants the choir to perform songs that are inappropriate, both because of the text” and because of the moment the song is to be performed during the service, she said.

“In these situations, must the choir master follow the wishes of the priest even with the knowledge that by doing so, the choir is no longer serving the liturgy, but the priest?” she said to applause.

Asked for his advice, Msgr. Marini smiled, cast his eyes upward and rubbed his chin signaling his awareness that it was a hot-button topic. He said he felt “sandwiched” “between two fires, between priests and choirs.” [Yep.  Been there.  Bought that shirt.]

Acknowledging the difficulty of such a situation, he said he sided with the priest. [Short of quitting, that’s it, isn’t it.]

There are situations where priests may not be giving completely correct guidance, he said, and there are directors that could be doing better. But in either case, conflict and division should be avoided and “humility and communion be truly safeguarded,” he said.

This, like with all disagreements, he said, requires that all sides be very patient with each other, sit down and talk, and explain the reasons behind their positions.  [Something else is needed, too.  More on that below.]

But if no conclusion or final point is reached, then “perhaps it is better also to come out of it momentarily defeated and wait for a better time rather than generate divisions and conflict that do no good,” he said to applause.

Live the path of communion and unity in the parish “with lots of goodness, cordiality and sometimes the ability to sacrifice something of oneself, too,” Msgr. Marini advised.

Just like the grain of wheat, he said, “sometimes all of us must die in something” knowing that it will bear future fruit.

Msgr. Marini responded to the question after delivering a 50-minute speech, in which he received a standing ovation.

Titled, “The Role of the Choir in Liturgical Celebrations,” the monsignor outlined five fundamental elements of the liturgy and how choirs should help serve each of those aspects.

The liturgy is the work of Christ and it should express the Savior’s living presence, he said. Choir members, therefore, must be people who have Christ present in their hearts.

While much care must be given to the artistic and technical aspects of liturgical music’s performance, the hearts of those who perform must be cared for as well so that they are men and women of faith who feel “a burning love for Christ” and find their life’s meaning in him, he said.

The liturgy also must evoke the church’s universality, where there is a harmonious union of diversity and continuity between tradition and newness, he said. This means that the choir must never be “front and center” or seem separate from the faithful because they are part of the assembly.

Pope Francis has insisted that liturgical music for papal liturgies “never go beyond the rite” and force celebrants and the assembly to wait for the singing to finish before proceeding on to the next moment of the Mass, he said. “Song integrates itself into the rite,” serving the ceremony and not itself. [Hmmmm… I’m going to disagree slightly at this point.  Msgr. Marini is surely looking at the question from the point of view of the liturgist.  Truly good, artistic sacred music which is appropriate for the rite at hand is not an add on.  It is prayer.  You can’t be distracted from prayer, by prayer.  Of course we also acknowledge the old adage, “Quidquid recipitur…“, etc.  Much depends on the capacity of the congregation, which ought to be, over time, brought to a greater and greater degree of “actual participation”, which involves as a sine qua non, the ability to listen, with active receptivity.]

He also asked that choirs help the liturgy in its purpose of gathering everyone together to conform themselves more closely to God and his will.

The Mass is about overcoming individual distinctions so that “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me,” he said. That means the choir should help everyone in the assembly be an active participant during the moments of song including by stirring people’s emotional or spiritual feelings. [Not to mention thoughts.]

Choirs must help the liturgy by inviting all of creation to lift its gaze toward God on high, he said. People should feel elevated and pulled out of the mundanity of the ordinary and everyday — not to escape from it, but so as to return renewed to one’s everyday life after Mass.

If song is not “a bridge over eternity” then it is not doing its job, he said. Song must not be worldly and unworthy, but must in some way be the “song of angels.” [And if it is that, then there shouldn’t be a problem with lingering in it, even waiting for it during the rite.  Of course there are moments when waiting is just what we are doing. I have a great memory of celebrating a solemn Mass with the music of Franz Josef Haydn.  We were halted, waiting for the Benedictus to conclude.  As it went on and on, “Qui venit… qui venit… qui venit venit veeeeeeenit…. qui venit venit veeeeeeeeeenit….”, my deacon, a distinguish Englishman, quiet said, “I wish he’d hurry up and get here.”]

Lastly, he said, choirs must be missionary like the church and the liturgy by way of attraction, which it does by revealing God’s beauty, wonder and infinite mercy. [That sounds, GASP, like proselytizing through music!  Of course that’s what first snagged my attention as a Lutheran/pagan and lead me into the Church.]

So many men come to the priesthood without the slightest idea about sacred music, or art or history or … lots of other things too.  We need to provide them with some basic tools.  They should have classes and workshops on sacred music, to learn about the development of chant and about different styles of sacred music through the centuries.  They need classes on art, etc.   There is, indeed, bad music and bad art.  I don’t accept without caveats that beauty is only in the eye of the beholder.  There are standards for beauty.

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Fr. Murray on Hillary’s anti-Catholic distortions at Al Smith Dinner

Clarity and common sense from my friend Fr. Murray on the Al Smith Dinner…

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , | 29 Comments

More Wikileaks emails about lib machinations tied to the Clinton campaign

This is a fascinating look into liberal catholic machinations.

As you know the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta, has been involved in creating institutions within the Church to create instability and revolution.  Wikileaks has the goods from his emails.

Here’s more from Wikileaks.  A friend in Washington DC has kept his eye on them.  He sent me a link to an email which names lots of names.  The web of names shows who is networked to whom.  NB: National catholic Reporter, Card. Rodriquez Maradiaga, Black Lives Matter, SIEU, Card. Turkson….

It’s an interesting read between the lines.

Just because you are mentioned in an email doesn’t mean that you have anything to do with anything.  Right?


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WDTPRS – 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time: “E ‘n la sua volontade…”

Let’s look at upcoming Sunday’s Collect, for the 30th Ordinary Sunday according to the Novus Ordo.  This is a prayer having a precedent in the 1962MR as the Collect for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. It was also in the Veronese and Gelasian, ancient sacramentaries both.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, da nobis fidei spei et caritatis augmentum, et ut mereamur assequi quod promittis, fac nos amare quod praecipis.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):

Almighty and ever-living God,
strengthen our faith, hope, and love.
May we do with loving hearts
what you ask of us
and come to share the life you promise


Almighty eternal God, grant us an increase of faith, hope and charity, and cause us to love what You command so that we may merit to obtain what You promise.


Almighty ever-living God,
increase our faith, hope and charity,
and make us love what you command,
so that we may merit what you promise

Today we pray to God the Father for an increase of the theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.

By baptism we were endowed with a supernatural life. As the German writer Josef Pieper (+1997) describes, a supernatural life can be described as having three main currents.

First, we have some knowledge of God surpassing what we can know about Him naturally because He reveals it to us (faith). Second, we live by the patient expectation that what we learn and believe God promises will indeed be fulfilled (hope). Third is an affirmative response of love of God, whom we have come to know by faith, and also love of our neighbor (charity).

While natural human virtues are acquired through education and discipline, the three theological virtues faith, hope and charity are given to us by God. They are fused into us with grace at baptism.

Looking at the positive development of the theological virtues, we can say that faith logically precedes hope and charity, and hope precedes charity. From the negative point of view, considering their unraveling and loss, we lose charity first of all, and then hope and, last of all, our faith. Charity is the greatest of the three, followed by hope and then faith.

As an aside… there are many believers out there who have fallen away.  They need your help to return.  Faith is the last thing to go. Many who lead quite dissolute lives still believe.  A tiny coal preserved in the ash of a dead fire can be fanned to life with exposure and a little TLC, a few puffs of reviving air.  But I digress…

The theological virtues perfect and elevate everything virtuous thing man can do naturally. They can be considered logically, one at a time, but are all three intimately woven together. St. Augustine (+430) says, “There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither love nor hope without faith” (enchir 8). The goal of the virtuous life, as we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1803), is to become like God. Living the theological virtues concretely reveals God’s image in us as well as the grace He gives to His adopted children. Today we pray for their increase.

Faith is the starting point for all salvation and meritorious actions. “The righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). Living faith works through charity. Furthermore, ““faith apart from works is dead” (cf. James 2:14-26). “When faith is deprived of hope and love, it does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body (CCC 1814).” “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity (CCC 1818).” “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony’” (CCC 1827).

This Sunday we also pray to love what God commands.

Doing what another commands is not always pleasant. Our wills and passions rebel and we prefer to command rather than be commanded.

It is easy, from the worldly point of view, to think that by being the commander, rather than the commanded, we can find peace. Surely each one of us desires peace and happiness and we seek after the means to attain them. If we attach our hopes to the created, passing things of this world to find peace and happiness we are inevitably disappointed.

All created things, including people, can be lost. They cannot be the foundation of lasting peace. Even the fear of their loss lessens our peace in this world. God alone gives the peace and happiness we seek. He alone is eternal, unchanging, forever trustworthy. We cannot lose God unless we ourselves reject Him. And, in the end, God, the source of peace, remains in command.

In Canto III of the Paradiso of the Divine Comedy the poet Dante is in the Heaven of the Moon. He encounters the soul of Piccarda. Dante queries her about the happiness of the blessed in heaven wondering if somehow, even in heaven, souls might be disappointed that they do not have a higher place in celestial realm.

In response Piccarda utters one of the greatest phrases ever penned and or recited (l. 85):

In His will is our peace.
It is that sea to which all things move,
both what it creates and what nature makes…

We are all made in God’s image and likeness, made to act as God acts. He reveals something of His will to us. When we obey Him we act in accordance with the way He made us and what He intended for us. In obedience we find happiness and peace, even amidst the vicissitudes of this troubling and passing world.

Our Collect prays that we “love what you command”. This is a prayer for happiness. The theological virtues provide the key.

E ‘n la sua volontade è nostra pace. In His will is our peace.

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UPDATE on Reginald Foster’s ‘Ossa Latinitatis Sola’ – Request for old Ludi Domestici

Ossa Latinitatis Sola


UPDATE 21 Oct:

A priest friend sent me a photo of his very own copy of Ossa, duly delivered.  Yes, folks, the books are shipping.



Some people are asking me for updates on the publication of the 1st volume of the Ossa Latinitatis Sola.

First, there is a website which has news about the volumes. HERE

Fr. Foster was quite ill for a while and the project stalled a bit. However, I believe is is going forward even though it is much delayed.  Not too long ago, I visited Fr. Foster and I actually saw galley sheets of the book.

Second, I’ve sent an email asking for an update.

Finally, there will eventually be volumes of Foster’s famous (infamous?) homework sheets or Ludi Domestici.  I still have lots of them squirreled away somewhere.  Having them bound in volumes will be invaluable.  As a matter of fact, on that web cited (above) there is a request to any and all for sheets from certain years and levels.  

Nota bene, all you former Reggie students.

For my original post about this go HERE.

Now available for pre-order in the UK HERE.  It has become more expensive over the last few months.


I heard back from the co-editor, Dom Daniel McCarthy, OSB.  He wrote:

The OSSA book may be available perhaps by August, but the publisher is not giving another publication date until he is sure.

Reggie and I saw the full text of the draft book completely formatted only last December, and we spent a month revising it together at his place. I was not able to stay longer, so I had to complete the job myself after returning to Rome in February to begin teaching. Thus, before holy week I submitted the draft with 6,100 + notations. They are currently working on our comments. There were so many notations that I requested they send the draft back to me for a second review, which I’ll do myself in Rome. Thereafter they will make the final changes and print the book. It may be available by August, but again the publisher is not giving any firm date.

Please let your readers know, so they can plan their curriculum.

So, the release is not imminent, but there is forward movement.

Consider yourselves updated.

And… if any of you alumni if The Experiences have your old ludi, you might check to see if you can fill in some blanks.  HERE

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.40.06

Posted in The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Pius XI is back on the job after a nice vacation

12_11_13_PopePiusXIA few days ago I got a note from a reader that, on the Vatican website, it was no longer possible to access the documents of Pope Ratti, Pius XI (1922-39).   Immediately, I thought, “AH HAH!”  “Ah hah! …”, what? … wasn’t exactly clear, but I thought, “AH HAH!”

Pius XI wrote hard hitting stuff that didn’t mince words.  I’ve done a couple of podcasts about his documents, including about Mortalium animos, which concerns ecumenism.  Was that why he was removed?  Hmmmmm…. conspiracy.

Since discovering this mysterious lacuna, I occasionally checked the Vatican website to see if Pius XI’s would be reinstated, if perchance their disappearance was just another tech mess up.  It’s, by the way, ironic that he wasn’t any longer in the archive, considering that this is Pope Ratti we are talking about.  He was a librarian and was often found hanging out in the archive.  Get it?  And then he was not to be found in the archive.  Get it?  It was even more ironic that, during Ratti’s hiatus you defaulted to John XXIII!

Well, he’s back!

My view as I write…

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 18.02.33

Here’s an explanation of what happened to Pius XI over the last few days.

As future Pope Pius XIII, We assure you that, whether you are a dead Pope, an alive Pope, or even now a retired Pope, being a Pope is not easy. Sometimes you just need a vacation. In view of my future difficult pontificate, while I… while We have the chance We are now hanging out at Lago di Garda. We hope Our future predecessor was able to get a little rest in a nice spot like this. Now that the present guy has decided that Popes won’t stay at Castel Gandolfo – that’s a mistake, by the way, and We teach that with future infallibly with retro force – Popes will need to be creative about where they hang out for R&R.

Heck, if there are enough retired Popes at once, perhaps We could get a time share somewhere!

Anyway, welcome back Pius XI!  It’s great to have you back “on the job” again.

Everyone should listen to your wonderful Mortalium animos, especially as we close in on 2017.

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