Of weasles, egg salad, broken teeth, blessed salt, and YOU

A weasel can chew through a cable and knock out a particle accelerator, but I can’t chew through an egg salad sandwich.

I had what might be called a “dental emergency”.  I knocked off the distal cusp of a mandibular molar.  Thus, pulling the priest card, I contacted a dentist friendly to clergy, who promptly opened his office, called a staffer, numbed a bunch of nerves (pretty obviously branching of the trigeminal, one of the cranial nerves), and repaired me.  They were super helpful and I’m grateful.

I was then told to rinse in the evening with salty water and asked to bless the dental office… which I did… both.  I might have also rinsed with a little rye… medicinally, of course, and to balance the humors, wry and other.

Which brings me to the next point.   Our relationship with salt.

Saline solutions are used to replenish our bloodstream.  We wash our eyes out with saline, our sinuses, our mouths.  Salt flavors our food and helps our bodies to work properly.

Saline solution, blessed, Holy Water, shoos away the Devil when we make the Sign of the Cross with it.  We splash it around before Mass in the Asperges and, during Paschaltide, the Vidi aquam.  We add it in the blessing of Epiphany Water.  We bless objects and sprinkle it.  The Lord used salt as a metaphor for our zeal and love in the Faith.

Bringing body and soul together in a single beautiful instant, in the traditional rite of Baptism, we put a little salt into the mouths of baptizandi before they are led into the church.  “Accipe sal sapientiae: propitiatio sit tibi in vitam aeternam…. Receive the salt of wisdom: may it be for you a token that foreshadows life everlasting.”

Symptoms of corporal salty deficiency (hyponatremia) include nausea and vomiting, headache, short-term memory loss, confusion, lethargy, fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps, seizures, and decreased consciousness or coma.  Hmmm… sort of like what sin does to us.  No?  Translated into spiritual terms, if we lack what the Lord describes in being ourselves salty in the Spirit, we might say that sin makes us stupid and spiritually sick… until we die from the lack of habitual saving grace and wind up in Hell.

When a priest blesses Holy Water he exorcises the salt, addressing it personally, as if it were a living thing.

Blessed salt can be used for spiritual purposes alone or also for consumption!  The prayer in the traditional manner says:

O you creature of salt, I purge you of all evil by the living + God, by the true + God, by the holy + God, who commanded by the Prophet Elisha that you be put into water in order that the sterility of the water would be healed: so that you might be rendered a purified salt for the salvation of believers, and so that you might be a healthiness of soul and body to all who consume you, and so that you may put to flight and drive out from a place in which you will have been scattered every phantom and wickedness, and cunning trap of diabolical deceit, and every unclean spirit be solemnly banished by command through Him Who shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.  R. Amen.

Consume!  Health of soul and of body!

As you can see, blessed salt is for the blessing of holy water, for sprinkling in places, and for consumption.  And the Devil hates it.

We really need salt, for our bodies and for our souls.

In nearly 25 years as a priest (anniversary coming in May) I have only… only…. used the older Rituale Romanum to bless salt and Holy Water.  I will not change in the next 25 years, if I am granted them.

Blessed salt and Holy Water.

Obtain them.  Use them.

Hell’s minions and the catch-farts who help them do not like blessed salt!


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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ACTION ITEM!, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , | 15 Comments

“Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him” – St. Catherine of Siena

Today is the – in the post-Conciliar, modern, non-traditional – Ordinary Form – Novus Ordo Calendar – Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Patroness of Europe and named by Paul VI as Doctor of the Church. Thus, her life and works reflect something of the Church’s own role as Teacher.  Her head may be venerated in Siena and the rest of her in Rome in the Church Santa Maria sopra Minerva (near the ecclesiastical tailor Gammarelli where we are having vestments made – PLEASE CONTRIBUTE!)

I warmly recommend this volume containing Benedict XVI’s General Audience series on the Doctors of the Church.

Benedict XVI gave a wonderful general audience address about here.  HERE

During my recent exile/sojourn in New York City, and during one of my visits to the Met, I spotted three little paintings depicting moments in the life of this great saint.  These panels, tempera and gold leaf on wood, were part of an altarpiece commissioned after Catherine was canonized in 1460.  They are based on her biography by Bl. Raymond of Capua (+1399), who was Catherine’s spiritual director.  Think about that, Fathers!  There are two more of these panels in another part of the Met, but it was closed off the day I was there.


This panel shows a common theme for Catherine, her “mystical marriage” with the Lord, as he places a ring on her finger.


According to Bl. Raymond, Christ appeared to Catherine holding a human heart in his hand. He opened her side and put the heart into her saying, “Dearest daughter, as I took your heart away from you the other day, now, you see, I am giving you mine, so that you can go on living with it for ever”.  Thus, Catherine experience what St. Paul wrote, “And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me. And that I live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered himself for me.” (Gal 2:20).  She has the mystical-cloud, floating-above-the-rooftops thing going on and, from His gestures, you can tell that the Lord is talking to her.  For her part, she gestures to herself, as if to say, “Unworthy me?”


Again according to Bl. Raymond:

“For the seven year period prior to her death, Saint Catherine of Siena took no food into her body other than the Eucharist. Her fasting did not affect her energy, however. She maintained a very active life during those seven years. As a matter of fact, most of her great accomplishments occurred during that period. Not only did her fasting not cause her to lose energy, but became a source of extraordinary strength, she becoming stronger in the afternoon, after having received our Lord in His Eucharist.

In Rome there is a chapel where Catherine received Communion in this manner and priests can say Mass there.

NB: Talk about “turning your back to the people!”  I always enjoy these old depictions of Mass.  You can see interesting details, such as vestments, etc.


So, there is a little touch of Catherine for you today.

I will also call to your minds something she wrote about Popes.

Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him, but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom. He who rebels against our Father is condemned to death, for that which we do to him we do to Christ: we honor Christ if we honor the Pope; we dishonor Christ if we dishonor the Pope. I know very well that many defend themselves by boasting: “They are so corrupt, and work all manner of evil!” But God has commanded that, even if the priests, the pastors, and Christ-on-earth were incarnate devils, we be obedient and subject to them, not for their sakes, but for the sake of God, and out of obedience to Him.
— Saint Catherine of Siena in St. Catherine of Siena, SCS, p. 201-202, p. 222.

And, to Florentines, who were rebelling against Pope Gregory XI:

“He who rebels against our Father, Christ on earth, is condemned to death, for that which we do to him, we do to Christ in heaven – we honor Christ if we honor the pope, we dishonor Christ if we dishonor the pope… I tell you that God will and has so commanded that even if the priests and the pastors of the Church and Christ on earth were incarnate devils, it is seemly that we are obedient and subject to them, not for their sake, but for the sake of God, out of obedience to Him, for He wills that we should act thus.
“Know that the son is never in the right against the father, even if the father is ever so evil and unjust, for so great is the good which he has received from the father, that is, life itself, that he can never repay him for it. And we have received the life of grace from the Church, which is so great a benefit, that we can never, by any kind of homage or gratitude, pay the debt we owe.”
From Anne Baldwin’s Catherine of Siena: A Biography. Huntington, IN: OSV Publishing, 1987, pp.95-6

Posted in Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged , | 21 Comments

German theologian Robert Spaemann on #AmorisLaetitia: Chaos and schism, God forbid!

UPDATE: Spaemann’s interview is now in English.  HERE

We are all suffering from Amoris defatigatio, I know.  But as the days and weeks pile up in the wake of Pope Francis Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and many and varying accounts and interpretations of the Exhortation emerge, it is evident that we simply have to stay on the topic.

The Exhortation seems to be creating deeper divisions out of already existing divisions.

Keep in mind my take away from the document insofar as it concerns people in “irregular” situations: The Pope has issued an “Exhortation”, an “urging, prompting encouragement”.   When the Pope exhorts, we must, at least, listen to what he has to say.  Putting aside for a moment the debate about whether or not Amoris laetitia contains a rupture with the Church’s teaching,  the Pope is, at least, urging those who are faithful to the Church’s teaching and law to even deeper compassion than they exercised before when dealing folks in “irregular situations”.  On the other hand, I hope that we can find in the Exhortation also an exhortation to those who are not particularly faithful to the Church’s doctrine and law – perhaps motivated by a false compassion – to change their ways and to be faithful to the Church’s doctrine and law and to exercise true compassion.

Now, to the harder question.  Does Amoris laetitia contain a rupture with Catholic teaching and discipline? Changes in sacramental discipline can only result in inevitable change to doctrine, for discipline hedges around and protects the doctrine it reflects.

It seems to me that a consensus is building that, yes, a break with Catholic teaching and discipline can be detected in the ambiguous language in Chapter 8. But, as many choose to read Amoris, we need to correct that ambiguity by reading that chapter in conjunction with other documents, such as Familiaris consortio.  That seems to be the approach of quite a few clerics (including bishops).  No right-minded Catholic one wants to find doctrine-splitting ambiguities in any Church document, whether of a Pope or other.  It may be that a game of mental Twister is undeway , especially by faithful clerics, so as to avoid the problems of discipline-shifting ambiguity while seeking to plant hands and feet only on the desired spots.  I confess that I am in that mode as I read Amoris laetitia: I sincerely want to embrace what is good in it.

Is that enough?

Maybe not.  After all, scripta manent.  It is a document, signed and released into the world.

Robert Spaemann, a theologian close to Ratzinger about whom I have written before (he wrote for Catholic World Report a rather hard but incisive explanation of Card. Kasper’s theological method), has given an interview about Amoris Laetitia to the German section of CNA.  When Spaemann speaks, we should listen.  If you don’t read German, you might read Italian.  HERE  I am sure that the whole interview with Spaemann will soon appear in English.

The most arresting statements Spaemann made.  First:

CNA: Handelt es sich hier also tatsächlich aus Ihrer Sicht um einen Bruch mit der kirchlichen Lehrtradition?

Spaemann: Dass es sich um einen Bruch handelt ergibt sich zweifellos für jeden denkenden Menschen, der die entsprechenden Texte kennt.

CNA: So, in your opinion, are we dealing with a break in the Church’s teaching tradition?

Spaemann: That we are dealing with a break results without a doubt for every thinking person who knows the relevant texts.

More Spaemann (my translation – my German is a little rusty, and perhaps some German-speaking readers can lend a hand):

CNA: What consequences do you see for the Church?

The consequences are already appearing: uncertainty and confusion from the Bishops Conferences all the way to the little priest in the jungle.  A few days ago, a priest from Congo impressed on me his perplexity in the face of this Exhortation and the lack of clear guidelines.  According to the relevant texts of Amoris laetitia, without further definition of “extenuating circumstances”, not only the divorced and remarried but all who are living in “irregular situations”, without efforts to put their sexual behavior behind them, that is, without confession and conversion, could be admitted to confession for other sins and be admitted to Communion.  Every priest who sticks to the heretofore valid sacramental discipline, can be hounded by the faithful and pressured by his bishop.  Rome can make the requirement that only “merciful” bishops be named, who are ready to undermine the existing order.  With the stroke of a pen chaos was  raised to a tenet (Das Chaos wurde mit einem Federstrich zum Prinzip erhoben.)  The Pope should have known that with such a writing, he would split the Church and lead the way to a schism.  A schism that would be not planted in the periphery but in the heart of the Church.  God forbid!

If I have not been precise in every detail, I have certainty gotten the essence of what he said into English.

Spaemann is, of course, only one voice.  He has his view.  However, note well that he is in the same theological, ecclesiological boat with (German theologian) Benedict XVI.  Spaemann watched how things have gone in Germany after the essential over-throwing of sacramental discipline.  He knows the minds of the German proponents of the changes to sacramental discipline.  Spaemann is really smart. Spaemann is not young: he personally experienced the tectonic shifts in discipline that have taken place over the last five decades.

Spaemann ends his interview with an exhortation to all priests, bishops and cardinals to defend the Church’s sacramental discipline and to profess it publicly… even if Rome does not issue clarifications.  In this he is in the same camp as Bp. Schneider (who is German, though he is a bishop in Kazakhstan).

The moderation queue is ON.


CNA’s English translation of what I quoted, above:

What consequences do you see for the Church?

The consequences are already foreseeable: uncertainty and confusion, from the bishops’ conferences to the small parishes in the middle of nowhere. A few days ago, a priest from the Congo expressed to me his perplexity in light of this new papal document and the lack of clear precedents. According to the respective passages from Amoris laetitia, not only remarried divorcés but also everyone living in some certain “irregular situation” could, by further nondescript “mitigating circumstances”, be allowed to confess other sins and receive Communion even without trying to abandon their sexual conduct – that means without confession and conversion. Each priest who adheres to the until-now valid discipline of the sacraments, could be mobbed by the faithful and be put under pressure from his bishop. Rome can now make the stipulation that only “merciful” bishops will be named, who are ready to soften the existing discipline. Chaos was raised to a principle by the stroke of a pen. The Pope must have known that he would split the Church with such a step and lead toward a schism – a schism that would not be settled on the peripheries, but rather in the heart of the Church. May God forbid that from happening.

Posted in Cri de Coeur, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, Synod, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

NYC EXILE – DAY 6 (FINAL): Misc. and a horrifying church visit

I am back at The Cupboard Under The Stairs again after my exile for reasons of the total power down of the building for a few days.  The electricity is flowing, but it is still dark in here.  But that’s another story.

As a wrap up, here are some items from my last couple days which didn’t make it into earlier posts.

You might recall that I had been searching out fabrics for sets of Pontifical vestments in white (to take some pressure off of the gold set) and in rose (because every diocese needs a Pontifical set in rose).  Hence, I stopped at the ecclesiastical fabric company in Manhattan’s Garment District (on the block opposite to where Holy Innocents is), La Lame.  I was looking for trim.






At the Met, I saw this.  This is “Laughing Fool”, Netherlandish, c. 1500.


What is interesting is the inclusion of the eye-glasses in juxtaposition to the way he peeks through his fingers, thusly implying that he knows more than he says.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, this is a 13th c. French ivory in a style that harks to the era of St. Louis IX (+1270).  Note the Child reaching to touch the face of the Virgin, often found in Byzantine icons.


Another… in oak, also Parisian.



On a larger scale, a statue Meune Valley, 14th c., from a chapel of the Beguines of St. Catherine.


And in limestone, Lorraine, early 14th c.



What’s up with this?   Behind this is probably a verse from the Song of Songs (2:6 with some context):

I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow, whom I desired: and his fruit was sweet to my palate. He brought me into the cellar of wine, he set in order charity in me. Stay me up with flowers, compass me about with apples: because I languish with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.  I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and the harts of the, fields, that you stir not up, nor make the beloved to awake, till she please. The voice of my beloved, behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart. Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices.  Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come.

One then needs time at The Strand – a great bookstore – before meeting friends for lunch.


I especially enjoyed a couple racks of old pulp fiction.   I must get that vampire novel done.


A visit to St. Francis Xavier Church horrified me.

Look what these barbarian Jesuits did to the altar of this otherwise beautiful church.


So, arrogant.  So… effete.


And let’s make sure the jazz band is in the sanctuary.



What they did to a confessional by the door.   No.. no… don’t put a priest in it during the day for the people who just pop in.  They might see an opportunity to GO TO CONFESSION and… and… take it!


So tasteful.  So… dainty.

So as not to leave you with a bad taste, here are some lovely water lilies by Monet.


And my aforementioned lunch choice.




Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | 38 Comments

Donations, PayPal, alternatives, and you

Some of you of late have asked via email about alternatives to giving via PayPal.

1)  To set up a recurring, monthly donation via PAYPAL (even a small one) go to the bottom of this blog and look for the drop down menu.  PayPal has worked well so far.  There is also a button on the side bar near the top of the blog’s page.  Feel free to use it!

2) I set up a CONTINUE TO GIVE account, which functions rather like PayPal (or so I understand).  I just set this up, so it is new to me.  I am not sure yet how well this works.

I have information and links about Continue To Give on the right side bar (scroll down).  There is a QCode you can use with your smart phones.  Try it!
Also, to receive a link to donate via Continue To Give using your smart phone.

TO: 715-803-4772 (USA)

3) Some donations also come through CHASE.  That works well.  I don’t think they take any percentage as fees.

4) I recently revived a personal UPS snail mail box that people used for Christmas cards and the like.   I was going to drop this, but my 25th Anniversary of ordination is coming up on 26 May (less than one month!), and some people who noticed asked me where they might send a card.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
6666 Odana Road #455
Madison, WI 53719-1012

They are authorized to sign for things.  They are also able to contact law enforcement, if you get me drift.  NB: I will probably shut down this mailbox in a couple months.

I remember benefactors in my prayers and periodically say Mass for your intention.  I have slated the next Mass for benefactors (donors and those who send items via my Amazon wish lists), on Saturday, 29 April.

Thank you to everyone for the support and your prayers.

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28 April – St. Gianna Molla’s 2nd miracle: Prepared to be amazed! With Fr. Z’s 10 Points.

Today is the Dies Natalis of St. Gianna Beretta Molla (+28 April 1962 at 39 years of age).  That is to say that St. Gianna died and was born into heaven today (thus, “birthday… dies natalis”).

I have posted this before, but it seemed appropriate to repost it today.

St. Gianna is one of the saints of our time whom I would very much like to see included in an updated version of the traditional Roman calendar.

What follows is about the 2nd miracle through the intercession of St. Gianna, which lead to her canonization.

A person who cause for canonization has been officially advanced is called a “Servant of God”.  If they are determined to have died while living a life of “heroic virtue” they are declared “Venerable”.  After that, if a miracle is authenticated by their intercession, they are beatified and called “Blessed”.  After another miracle they are canonized and called “Saint”.

The account of the 2nd miracle for the canonization of St. Gianna gives me shivers.  Sometimes we don’t get many details about what these miracles are all about.  We know quite a bit about this miracle.

This is adapted from my original post a few years back when I was speaking and thinking mostly in Italian, and the sources were in Italian, so it might sound odd here and there. My post from many years ago continues, thusly:

Since I have just recently finished over 100 hours of training at the Congregation for Causes of Saints concerning the history, theology and juridical dimensions of causes of beatification and canonization (investigating the life, heroic virtues, martyrdom, reputation of holiness, reputation of martyrdom, miracles, etc.), I figured I should put some of that training to use and occasionally produce some of it here with some comments that might be of use to others. After all, what training I get isn’t just for me: it has to be for the whole Church or it is worth only the cost of the parchment.

We had the chance to learn from and question the officials of the Congregation, the experts who collaborate with it, and the physicians and historians who are experts consultants. We had lectures from the Prefect, Secretary and Under-Secretary, the Promotor of the Faith (so-called “Devil’s Advocate” is a misnomer, really) and the Relator General. We had tours of the archives and attended the proceedings of the opening of a cause in the Roman phase. Abundant materials were provided and we were, naturally, allowed then to be thoroughly tested on them.

Going into the course I was not sure what to expect, but I brought a certain measure of skepticism about some things I had heard (mostly due to faulty and insufficient information, I see now). I heard stories of lives and of miracles which left me nearly with my jaw on the table as I listened and saw the documentation.

This was a privilege which for the rest of my priesthood will affect how I can help other people understand things about the life of grace in a way I could not before.

Ad ramos

Concerning the second of the two miracles worked by God through St. Gianna:

In mid November 1999 a Brazilian woman named Elisabete Comparini Arcolino discovered she was pregnant for the fourth time. An echogram on 30 Nov. showed that the developing child was within a small sac only .8 cm in length and 2.3 cm in diameter. The doctor said that it was doubtful that with such a beginning for the gestation that child would come to term. On 9 December a echo showed the embryo a 1.0 cm in length but also a huge increase in coagulation of blood (blood loss), measuring 5.2 x 3.5 cm. On 19 December they found the beating heart of the child, but also a deterioration of the placenta in the lower region of the uterus. A pessimistic prognosis was given. The doctor following the case, Dr. Nadia Bicego Vieitez de Almeida, who had handled Elisabete’s previous pregnancies, said that with the great loss of blood Elisebete would probably spontaneously abort or they would have to do the procedure sooner or later.

Contrary to expectations, the child’s heart kept beating and the pregnancy continued.

On 11 February 2000 Elisabete realized there was a serious problem and went to the hospital. The echo showed that the gestational sack’s membrane had broken at 16 weeks of gestation and, while the fetus was alive, there was now a total absence of amniotic fluid. The radiologist testified that there was no amniotic liquid to protect the child from exposure to the outside world and from the external pressure of the uterus itself. This meant that both the child and mother were in serious danger of infection, etc. Dr. Bicego recommended termination of the pregnancy. Elisabete was put on a regime of super hydration, 4 l. of phleboclysis (intravenous injection of an isotonic solution of dextrose or other substances) per day. On 15 Feb a new echo showed that there was no significant increase in the volume of amniotic fluid and the volume was insufficient to bring the pregnancy to term.

At this point, 15 Feb, the prognosis for the child was precisely zero. Two studies, one in Sao Paolo and one in San Francisco had looked at viability of pregnancies with a ruptured membrane at between 22-26 weeks, many more weeks after the case of Elisabete and her child. In the studies in every case examined every fetus was spontaneously aborted within 60 days of the rupture. In virtually all cases, a fetus of 16 weeks would abort with a few days.

Dr. Bicega and other doctors told Elisabete that they had to do an abortion to save her life, and gave her some time to make the decision. But Elisabete, as she testified, knew in her heart that she could not do that and that she must try to bring the child to term. When the doctor came for the decision, Elisabete’s husband Carlos Cesar requested that a priest come. He called the parish priest of San Sebastiano, Fr. Ovidio Jose Alves di Andrade. Dr. Bicega said she would return again in 15 minutes with the documents for their signature approving the abortion.

Present at the time Dr. Bicega came was a friend of Elisabete, named Isabel, who heard the exchange about the abortion. Isabel went to the hospital chapel to pray to Mary to help bring some clarity to the situation. There Isabel spent some time in prayer. When she was finished and got up to leave, she saw pass by the door the diocesan Bishop Diogenes Silva Matthes who had come to the hospital to visit another person. Bp. Silva had been celebrant of the wedding of Elisabete and Carlos Cesar at San Sebastiano where they worked as catechists. Isabel told the bishop what was going on and he went to Elisabete’s room and there learned the whole story. The bishop said, “Betinha, we will pray and God will help us” and he asked Dr. Bicega to wait a while longer. Then the bishop left.

Shortly after the bishop left Fr. Ovidio arrived. He began to give Elisabete the sacrament of anointing. At that point the bishop returned. He had brought with him a biography of Bl. Gianna Beretta Molla. He said to Elisabete: “Do what Blessed Gianna did, and, if necessary, give your life for the child. I was praying at home and I said to the Blessed in prayer, ‘Now has arrived the opportunity for you to be canonized. Intercede before the Lord for the grace of a miracle and save the life of this little child.”

The painting of St. Gianna over a side altar in the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, WI. There is a 1st Class relic there.

Elisabete had known about Bl. Gianna and how she died and how the first miracle for her cause was for a woman who had terrible complications from a caesarian section. After knowing about Bl. Gianna, Elisabete herself, in her third pregnancy and after two previous caesarian sections, had decided to give birth normally despite the problems that entailed. At that time the same Bishop Silva had given her a holy card of Bl. Gianna. Elisabete was terribly afraid but she asked Bl. Gianna for help and gave birth to a child weighing over 5kg.

Therefore, this time, reinforced by past experience and the help of Bl. Gianna and the same bishop, Elisabete told Dr. Bicega she would try to carry the child to term, so long at the child’s heart continued to beat. Various doctors at the hospital expressed their opinion that this was madness. However, Dr. Bicega later testified about that time: “But I, I don’t know if it was by intuition, through my own lack of courage, or if I was drawn by Elisabete’s faith which seemed to have no limit, decided to wait and see what happened.” Elisabete would later testify that for her: “Jesus’ greatest miracle was to change the doctor’s heart. She had been unmovable in her determination to perform abortions, but one day she said to me, ‘Your faith had made me think a great deal. Even I have faith now and so let’s wait for the death of the fetus”.

Elisabete left the hospital and went to the home of Carlos Cesar’s aunt, Janete Arcolino, who was a nurse. Dr. Bicego lent them the sonar machine so that they could monitor the heart beat of the child and told them to check her temperature and blood pressure every six hours. They continued the super hydration treatments and eventually began a cortisone treatment to prevent problems with the child’s lungs.

In the meantime, Fr. Ovidio testified later, the whole community was continuing to invoke Bl. Gianna, continuously asking for a miracle. The parish had been very pro-life and every month there was special blessing for women who were with child. Also involved in the prayers to Bl. Gianna was a community of Carmelite sisters who in turn had communicated the request to other convents in Brazil. For her part, Elisabete had a very hard time of things. Despite her faith in God and her past experience, there were times when she was terribly afraid she was going to die with her child. She felt herself sometimes quite abandoned by God and alone. She was worried about what would happen with her other three children if she died.

Dr. Bicega followed the pregnancy closely and noted that during the whole time there was no accumulation of amniotic fluid. If Elisabete gained any, as soon as she would move to get up to go to the bathroom, she would again lose it all.

When they had reached the 32nd week and when the baby weighed 1.80k, they decided for a caesarian section delivery, effected on 31 May 2000. The newborn daughter, Gianna, was in good shape with the exception of the left foot which was twisted, probably because of compression with the uterus.

The problems did not cease there. They found that Elisabete had a wound within a uterine muscle to which the placenta had adhered, thus remaining in place. She had a serious hemorrhage and her lungs collapsed and wound up in intensive care for three days. As part of her treatment Dr. Bicega wanted to interdict her cycle with a kind of false menopause, which would result also in Elisabete not being able to lactate, but Elisabete said she did want to do that.

The newborn was sent home on 17 June weighing 1.960kg. Later a surgical operation and therapy corrected the twisted foot. In July 2001 a pediatrician Dr. Maria Engracia Ribeiro examined the child completely and found her to be perfectly normal and healthy, intelligent and lively, with the strong personality. Another check on 17 January 2002 found no problems in any of the child’s development, with no immune or respiratory problems and was, for her age, in perfect health.

The case of the asserted miracle was studied by the “Consulta Medica” of the Congregation for Causes of Saints on 10 April 2003 who determined that despite the severe prognosis for the fetus and the mother as the result of the total loss of amniotic fluid at the 16th week, and despite medical treatment inadequate for such a grave situation, the positive outcome of the pregnancy and health of mother and child were inexplicable in medical terms. The decree super miraculo was promulgated by the Congregation in the presence of Pope John Paul II on 20 December 2003. Since Gianna Beretta Molla had been beatified on 24 April 1994, her canonization was celebrated on 16 May 2004.

I hereby put to you several points to consider, any of which might serve as a starting point for comments below:

  1. Saints are presented to us by Holy Mother Church for “the two I’s”: imitation and intercession.
  2. As all Christians are called to imitate Christ, we also must experience self-emptying and the Cross, abandonment to providence and self-donation. We must be willing to lose everything.
  3. We are not alone: the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant are closely knit, interwoven in charity. We on earth must intercede for each other and believe and ask for the intercession of the saints.
  4. God makes use of the weak to demonstrate His might and love.
  5. If we do not believe in miracles, we do not ask for them. If we do not ask for them, they will not be granted.
  6. Our life of faith is noticed by non-believers and they are not unaffected.
  7. What a difference a bishop can make!
  8. How often do you invoke the help of the saints and holy angels?
  9. God’s ways are not our ways.
  10. No one is too small to be an occasion of grace for others.
Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Pray For A Miracle, Saints: Stories & Symbols, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Latin figures in property dispute between nuns and Katy Perry

I’m not sure who Katy Perry is, though I have heard the name. I think she may be a pop tart. In any event, here is a strange story about her and some nuns in a property dispute. And it involves Latin translation!

From Fox 411:

Nuns roar back at Katy Perry, claiming mistranslation of Vatican decree allowing purchase of convent

Katy Perry will hear an order of LA-area nuns “Roar” after the sisters this week accused local church officials of misquoting the Vatican to smooth the singer’s $14.5 million purchase of a contested convent.

Perry had seemingly won the right to purchase the 22,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion that once housed the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary order after a judge ruled for Perry and the LA archdiocese and against the nuns. But on Monday, lawyers for Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman asked the state Superior Court judge to consider new evidence – a translation they say shows a Vatican decree regarding the case was misrepresented.

“In fact, and completely contrary to what [LA archdiocese] represented to the Court, the Decree, when properly translated from its original Latin into English, stated in no uncertain terms that the dispute” was still being decided in Rome, the motion states.


Time out. You might not know this. When it comes to alienation (sale) of Church property, if the value is over a certain amount, permission from the Holy See is required. Civil courts generally respect the Church’s internal law in these matters… generally, not always. I was at a Canon Law conference (now annual, sponsored by Card. Burke at the Guadalupe Shrine in LaCrosse, WI) which had presentations on civil law and property. At that time it was reported that the trend in civil law seems to be more and more not to respect the Church’s internal law. This swings back and forth, apparently, over the decades. But I digress.


Court documents obtained by FoxNews.com allege that the “false translation” implying that the Vatican had not approved the Sisters’ sale and it was no longer under consideration was provided by the representatives for the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

None of the five nuns remaining from the order, which once numbered 52, live on the property, which has belonged to the order since it was bequeathed to it some 40 years ago. They claim the right to sell it, and had already struck a $15.5 million deal with local developer and restaurateur Dana Hollister.

After striking a deal with the nuns nearly a year ago, Hollister registered the deed and moved into the property. But the archdiocese moved to nullify that sale and, two weeks ago, Los Angeles Superior Court judge Stephanie Bowick ruled that church officials, not the nuns, had the right to sell the eight-acre convent on Waverly Place in the Los Feliz section.

Bowick’s ruling, according to the motion, rested heavily on a translation of the decree from the Vatican, which was provided by the archdiocese’s legal team.

“The Court’s ruling was substantially based on its belief that all proceedings in the Vatican had been terminated,” the motion states.

In her ruling, Bowick declared that the resolution “involves matters of church doctrine” and to avoid interfering with religious governance, state courts “generally defer to the decisions of ecclesiastical courts or tribunals that touch and concern matters or religious doctrine.” [As I was saying.] In this case, she determined that there was no evidence the sale to Perry was still under consideration in Rome.

Given that all sales of church property require Vatican approval, Sister Callanan last June submitted a petition to the Roman Rota Tribunal – the highest appellate tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church – to approve the Hollister transaction. The Tribunal responded in December, and that response – in Latin – is the subject of the dueling translations, with the archdiocese saying the issue had been decided and the nuns saying it was passed to a different division of the Vatican – the Dicastery – and is pending. The motion also claims that the LA archdiocese knew that the petition had been moved to the Dicastery, but “failed to inform the Court of that crucial fact.  [The Archdiocese of LA failed to report a “crucial fact”?  Say it ain’t so!]



Okay… read the rest there. Meanwhile, there is a photo of Katy Perry in that article. I must admit that I couldn’t have picked her out of a line up.  I’m probably not in her target audience.

I, for none, would like to see that Latin. H==

Posted in Women Religious | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Happy Birthday Universe!

universe creationFrom History

On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe is created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, considered a founder of modern science. Kepler is best known for his theories explaining the motion of planets.

Kepler was born on December 27, 1571, in Weil der Stadt, Germany. As a university student, he studied the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ theories of planetary ordering. Copernicus (1473-1543) believed that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system, a theory that contradicted the prevailing view of the era that the sun revolved around the earth.

Johannes_KeplerIn 1600, Kepler went to Prague to work for Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, the imperial mathematician to Rudolf II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Kepler’s main project was to investigate the orbit of Mars. When Brahe died the following year, Kepler took over his job and inherited Brahe’s extensive collection of astronomy data, which had been painstakingly observed by the naked eye. Over the next decade, Kepler learned about the work of Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who had invented a telescope with which he discovered lunar mountains and craters, the largest four satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Venus, among other things. Kepler corresponded with Galileo and eventually obtained a telescope of his own and improved upon the design. In 1609, Kepler published the first two of his three laws of planetary motion, which held that planets move around the sun in ellipses, not circles (as had been widely believed up to that time), and that planets speed up as they approach the sun and slow down as they move away. In 1619, he produced his third law, which used mathematic principles to relate the time a planet takes to orbit the sun to the average distance of the planet from the sun.

Kepler’s research was slow to gain widespread traction during his lifetime, but it later served as a key influence on the English mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and his law of gravitational force. Additionally, Kepler did important work in the fields of optics, including demonstrating how the human eye works, and math. He died on November 15, 1630, in Regensberg, Germany. As for Kepler’s calculation about the universe’s birthday, scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that his calculations were off by about 13.7 billion years.

Posted in Lighter fare, Look! Up in the sky! | Tagged | 16 Comments

PODCAzT 145: Athanasius Schneider on ‘Amoria laetitia’

In this PODCAzT I read for you the open letter by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan.

It seems that it was originally released in Italian, but it was subsequently translated into English. The English appeared on the blog of the Voice of the Family. However, everyone involved, including His Excellency Bishop Schneider, would like it to be widely diffused.

Here’s my contribution. It maybe that you won’t sit and read it – it’s longish, some 6500 words in English – but maybe you can listen to it while doing other things. That’s where I come in.

Bp. Schneider tackles some of the difficult and confusing, seemingly contrary to the Church’s teachings, in the infamous Chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia and points out the possible bad effects. Therefore, he – and I guess we – would like greater clarity about them.

Along the way you hear a cut from Robert Shaw’s O Magnum Mysterium, “If ye love me” by Thomas Tallis.

And… “Love” by Paul Simon.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

NEW MUSIC CD from the Benedictines of Mary! – UPDATE – AUDIO SAMPLES

I hope that you have all obtained and enjoyed the music CDs from the wonderful Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.  These nuns can sing!  They have music discs for Lent and Advent, Easter, for Mary, etc.  Now..

Let’s have a listen to a few samples…

USA HERE  and UK (not yet)

Posted in The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 2 Comments