For Your Ultimate Cool File

This is beyond “Too Cool”.

From CNS:

Medieval crucifix in St. Peter’s Basilica ‘resurrected’ from obscurity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — His toes curl in pain, his veins bulge from exertion, his bony chest heaves in the last throes of death.

The newly restored 14th-century wooden crucified Christ “has been resurrected” from obscurity — once caked over with dark paint and left forgotten behind an elevator shaft, said Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“We have discovered a hidden treasure under the dust of many centuries,” he told reporters at a Vatican news conference Oct. 28.

The oldest crucifix in the basilica’s possession, [!!] it was made by an unknown sculptor of “exceptional artistic talent” and technical skill sometime in the early 1300s, and hung in the original fourth-century basilica of St. Peter, built by the Emperor Constantine, said Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, secretary of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office responsible for physical care and maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The 7-foot-long torso and legs were made in one piece from a solid trunk of seasoned walnut, he said. The arms — spanning nearly 6 and a half feet — and head were carved separately but came from the same already centuries’ old tree.

Antique prints and a rich trail of archival material track the crucifix’s condition and its various locations inside the old basilica and its transfer to the new basilica when it was completed in 1620. The documents show that no matter where it was positioned, it was a popular and much-venerated piece of work, the bishop said.

It even managed to survive the Sack of Rome in 1527 and desecration when the basilica was turned into a “horse stable” and the Christ figure was dressed in the uniform of the invading mercenaries, he said.

Though made of strong solid wood, he said, termites feasting on it for 700 years caused considerable damage, leaving bore holes peppering the face and body and excavating large areas by the armpits.

Early restorers filled the gaping holes with wads of cloth, reinforced weakened areas with canvas wrappings and stucco, and hid dirt, discoloration and black termite burrows with dark “bronze-colored” paint, the bishop said.

Moved in 1749 to make way for Michelangelo’s marble masterpiece, the Pieta, the progressively darkening statue was gradually moved further and further away from the main area of the basilica, eventually ending up in closed chapel.

Even worse, Bishop Lanzani said, Pope Pius XI had an elevator put in the closed chapel to connect the basilica with the papal residence above in the apostolic palace.

“Darkened and confined in a neglected spot and nearly unreachable, it was forgotten by many and was in some way taken away from the devotion of the faithful,” he said.


No more!

Read the rest there.

Now if someone wanted to write a “thriller” about things behind closed doors in the Vatican…

Another shot.

Imagine the lost treasure still to be found… and still to be made for future generations.

Posted in Just Too Cool | 1 Comment

Rome 2 Day 4&5: My View For Awhile

The Roman ceremonies of the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage have begun.  We are jammed into a tiny church on the V. S. Giovanni Decollato (a favorite feast).

Card. Castrillon arrived a bit ago.  I’m not sure why the choir sang Tota Pulchra Est. 

I’ll have more to say about the day later but mass is about to start.

Card Burke and Archbp Sample are in choro.

Meanwhile, on of the …rare things one could spot while here in these days.

Behold a rarissima avis.  The illusi e and abolished cotta griccia.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 3 Comments

Thanks, Mass for Benefactors and Upcoming Events

I will say Mass for the intention of benefactors (those who donate monthly, occasionally, send items from wish lists, etc.) here in Rome on Sunday, 30 October, the Feast of Christ the King.   I am very grateful to everyone who sends, be it grand or be it humble.  It is my duty and pleasure to pray for you regularly, during devotions and Masses.  Therefore, I also like to say Masses specifically for your intention.

Also, over the last few days I started receiving birthday greetings.  Thanks!  Some knew that they were precocious, others… not so sure.  Anyway, today’s the day, the Feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude (patron of lost causes).

Other things are going on.

First, tomorrow, 29 October, there will be a Pontifical Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica following the beautiful procession from San Lorenzo in Damaso, for the annual Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage.  His Excellency Most Rev. Alexander Sample of Portland will be the celebrant.  I have the honor to be the deacon for the Mass.  If I am not mistaken, Card. Burke will be in the procession.  Americans have a good representation this year in what has usually been a pretty eurocentric event.  More on the annual pilgrimage HERE.

Many people send me event items to post.  I can do this occasionally, but not all the time.  Otherwise, the blog would look like a college campus telephone poll or kiosk.

However, lately I received word of …

  • A talk to be given by Peter Kwasniewski on 12 November, sponsored by the Vancouver Traditional Mass Society, also known as Una Voce Canada. HERE
  • In Manhattan, NYC at the Church of the Holy Innocents, Forty Hours Devotion begins today, Friday, 28 October 28, and ends on Sunday, 30 October 30 with all-night adoration on Friday and Saturday.  They are following the Clementine Instruction, so they will have the Votive Mass of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the procession, the traditional Votive Mass Pro Pace, and the closing on the Feast of Christ The King with Mass coram Sanctissimo (which can only be done for Forty Hours) and the final procession.
  • The Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui sent a note and a newsletter explaining that he has to move.  Therefore, if people want artwork done for Christmas, they should contact him right away.  And you should all go look at his art.  It makes for wonderful gifts.  HERE  And take a look at his coloring book for ADULTS!  HERE

Speaking of Christmas, I like to get Christmas shopping done as early as I can, so I can focus on Advent and the Nativity.

Please use my Amazon search box every time you shop via Amazon.

As always, please order LOTS of coffee and tea from the great Wyoming Carmelites.  Every time you need coffee (which is all the time) remember my link on the sidebar of this blog.  You help them build their monastery and you help me.  Again, their small (or large) packs will make good stocking stuffers and gifts.  Get some coffee for your office and for friends.

Remember, too, the “Soap Sisters”, the Summit Dominicans have great stuff for gifts… probably more for women than for men, but they do have shaving things as well as the foofy things.   They, too, are trying to build a new place because they are crammed into a small building with many new aspirants and novices.

And the Benedictine Monks in Norcia, stupendous community, REALLY NEED help now that they have been struck with earthquakes.   Please give them a hand and remember that they have superb beer.

Posted in Events, The Campus Telephone Pole | Leave a comment

All Hallows Eve: Doing it right!

A few years back a reader sent:

Given that Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Eve, and given that “hallows” are “saints”, and given that All Hallows Eve means, therefore, the Eve of the Feast of All Saints, it seems right that children (and others) might dress as saints for their Halloween rather than, you know, awful things.  That doesn’t mean that only saints are allowed, but… it’s All Saints Eve, for crying out loud.

This image stirred spirited comments the last time.

Posted in Be The Maquis, Our Catholic Identity, Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged , | 13 Comments

The Lord’s burial place opened for restoration and study

This is for your Just Too Cool file and for your November viewing calendar.

In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Aedicule, or structure around the niche carved into the rock that served as Christ’s resting place in the tomb is being overhauled.  Part of the process was to remove marble slabs that for centuries have covered the actual rock shelf.  National Geographic was there to document the work.  There will be a show on it in November.

More from National Geographic, including a video HERE.

Posted in Just Too Cool | Tagged , | 8 Comments

ACTION ITEM: Benedictine Monks of Norcia – affected again, badly, by new earthquakes


A reader sent email:

Wednesday Oct 26, according to my Theosis devotional (from Eastern Christian Publications in Virginia) is the Commemoration of the Great and Fearful Earthquake, Constantinople, 740.
For what it’s worth.


Last night, 26 Oct, I felt in Rome, the new series of earthquake.

From the Monks of Norcia.

Take care to read down to the part about Archbishop Sample of Portland saying Holy Mass there in Norcia when the quakes hit.

Dear friends,

I am hesitant to implore you all again for prayers and support. In the midst of so much suffering, one cannot help but feel a kind of embarrassment to invite your attention to our situation so soon after the first series of earthquakes in August. Since then, we monks have been trying to determine God’s will for our lives and community. Perhaps, at least for us, this second quake is God yelling even louder His will for our lives. We pray for understanding.

Over the past 24 hours, a powerful series of earthquakes passed through Norcia, once again graciously sparing the lives of the monks and inhabitants to Norcia. Unfortunately, however, it has brought many of the townspeople to the brink of despair and more damage than any of us can yet assess. As before, we are busy at work trying to respond to the crisis on multiple levels. Therefore, my time is short to update all of you, even though you each have found so much time to support us through your prayers and donations.??The Basilica fared the worst. Entire walls of decorative plaster crashed to the floor and the dome has begun to cave in. The roof collapsed in two places, leaving the ancient Basilica exposed to all the elements. Most dramatically, perhaps, the Celtic Cross which adorned the 13th century facade came crashing down.

“Most dramatically, perhaps, the Celtic Cross which adorned the 13th century facade came crashing down.”

Earlier this week, engineers were examining the falling Celtic Cross, which finally collapsed after the Oct. 26 earthquakes.
The 50% of the monastery which had been considered “habitable” after the August quakes has now been damaged far beyond what one might call safe livable conditions. At 10:30 PM last night, 5 of the town monks escaped to San Benedetto in Monte to join the 8 of us already here, where, after a common sip of Birra Nursia Extra, we camped out for a night of turbulence. After a few scant moments of sleep, we rose at 3:30 AM for Matins and started to accept once more that our life is not our own and God had altered our path once again, solidifying it here on the mountain top. Sadly, for the foreseeable future, this means it will no longer be possible for us to offer Mass in the crypt of the Basilica for the public. But, if God wills it, we will soon offer Mass here on the mountain.

“God will bring good to you out of this suffering and this earthquake will become the cornerstone on which generations of monks will build their monastic life.”
— Archbishop Alexander K. Sample

In closing, and on a note of hope, I want to tell you about a special visitor we had this morning. In an act of both ecclesiastical solidarity and paternal support, and as the ground beneath us continued to tremble, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, became the first Bishop to offer Mass in the private chapel of our modest dwellings. The Bishop was in Norcia to participate in the fifth annual Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage. Following the earthquake, the pilgrimage’s Norcia events were cancelled, and so the Bishop spent time with our community. He was able to join us for coffee and offered soothing words of support, which we in turn repeat and offer to all of those in the region affected by natural disaster:

“God will bring good to you out of this suffering and this earthquake will become the cornerstone on which generations of monks will build their monastic life.”

Photo: Populus Summorum Pontificum

Relying, as ever, on your prayers and support,
Fr. Benedict

Note: If you want to help the rebuilding process, you can give to the monks by clicking here.
Posted in ACTION ITEM!, SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Camille Paglia on Hillary: “The woman is a disaster!”

As some of you long-time readers will recall, I have a grudging respect for Camille Paglia. She’s wrong about a lot of things, but she’s the rarest of the rare: an honest feminist.  She’s a realist. And, like her hate her, she’s a gas to read.

I saw this interview with Paglia at The Spectator:

‘The woman is a disaster!’: Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton
A wide-ranging interview with the iconoclastic professor


Talking to Camille Paglia is like approaching a machine gun: madness to stick your head up and ask a question, unless you want your brain blown apart by the answer, but a visceral delight to watch as she obliterates every subject in sight. Most of the time she does this for kicks. It’s only on turning to Hillary Clinton that she perpetrates an actual murder: of Clinton II’s most cherished claim, that her becoming 45th president of the United States would represent a feminist triumph.

‘In order to run for president of the United States, you have to spend two or three years of your life out on the road constantly asking for money and most women find that life too harsh, too draining,’ Paglia argues. ‘That is why we haven’t had a woman president in the United States — not because we haven’t been ready for one, for heaven’s sakes, for a very long time…’

Hillary hasn’t suffered — Paglia continues — because she is a woman. She has shamelessly exploited the fact: ‘It’s an outrage how she’s played the gender card. She is a woman without accomplishment. “I sponsored or co-sponsored 400 bills.” Oh really? These were bills to rename bridges and so forth. And the things she has accomplished have been like the destabilisation of North Africa, causing refugees to flood into Italy… The woman is a disaster!


Which brings us back to Hillary and the so-called victory her re-entering the White House would represent: ‘If Hillary wins, nothing will change. She knows the bureaucracy, all the offices of government and that’s what she likes to do, sit behind the scenes and manipulate the levers of power.’

Paglia says she has absolutely no idea how the election will go: ‘But people want change and they’re sick of the establishment — so you get this great popular surge, like you  had one as well… [Brexit] This idea that Trump represents such a threat to western civilisation — it’s often predicted about presidents and nothing ever happens — yet if Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media. It would be an incredible release of energy… at a moment of international tension and crisis.’

All of a sudden, the professor seems excited. Perhaps, like all radicals in pursuit of the truth, Paglia is still hoping the revolution will come.

Paglia for Trump?  She doesn’t say so.  But…

If I would vote for the corpse of Millard Fillmore to block Hillary’s disaster, she might opt for the very living Trump.

Posted in The future and our choices | Tagged | 33 Comments

ACTION ITEM! Birettas for Seminarians Project! UPDATES


From my email…

I just received a biretta from John! [Hastreiter of Leaflet Missal] I am very happy with the biretta, and even more grateful for the work you and Mr. Hastreiter have put into this project.

If you happen to know any of the donors, please assure them that I will pray for them — especially when using the biretta.

Thank you!

(and of course, please keep my name and diocese anonymous in any public posting.)


I’m glad you were able to benefit from the Biretta Project!

First off… I am informed that, through this project, YOU, dear readers, have supplied about 100 birettas to seminarians.  Kudos.

Next, I have had a few thank you notes from seminarians, who are receiving their new covers.  Here is one:

I want to thank you for your “Birettas for Seminarians Project.” Today I received my biretta, and I am very grateful!

I have a question though, what is the proper etiquette (birettaquette) for a seminarian? When sitting in choir is it the same as a priest? Also, when can one, seminarian or priest, wear a biretta? Is it only for liturgical use?

Carry it when walking in and out.  Cover after having sat down.  Uncover before standing up.  When holding it, hold it with both hands in front of your chest.  Use ONE hand to put it on.  Do NOT sit on it after the tabernacle is closed, if you put it on your chair during Communion time.

That said, I note that you are in a … place ((arch)diocese) where the local ordinary could be quite antagonistic about seminarians and birettas.  Thus, I urge you to be discreet.

And, yes, the biretta is mostly liturgical, although some priests wore it out and about.


I received a note from the Incredible John at Leaflet Missal in St. Paul, aka the Biretta Broker for our Project.  To wit:

Hello Father,

Your eyes can stop welling with tears as you write! (At least, temporarily)

Thanks so much for your recent efforts, and thank you to all who contributed over the past year.

We now have enough donors to literally “cover” all of the remaining seminarians on the list…and then some.

As you know, Italy is pretty much shut down in August. But come September…many, many, birettas will be shipped in!

I think the manufacturers are wondering what’s going on in the Americas!

Brick by Brick!


UPDATE 16 Aug:

I received the following via email from a seminarian:

I want you to know that I received a Biretta from your action item posts. Thank you and the benefactor who came forward to purchase this for me. Every time I use it I pray for the benefactor who purchased it for me.

Not bad!

UPDATE 7 July 2016:

In honor of the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum I’m moving this to the top of the stack.


In the past we have had here a project to get birettas for seminarians.  It was a success (for example HERE) but, alas, it has fallen off the radar.  Let’s get back at it.

I am still getting notes from seminarians hither and yon who need birettas.

That is where YOU come in.

John Hastrieter at Leaflet Missal in St. Paul wrote that he has about 2o seminarians on a “biretta wanted list” but… and my eyes well with tears as I write this… no donors.


Contact John in church goods at Leaflet Missal in St. Paul – 651-209-1951 Ext-331. 

If he is away, leave a voicemail with your phone number and he will call you back ASAP.

John is keeping track of the names of the seminarians and their hat sizes. My involvement would only get in the way of the process. Don’t write to me.

Let’s encourage these men.

Call John and buy a biretta for a seminarian.  It’s as easy as that.

Posted in ACTION ITEM!, Seminarians and Seminaries | Tagged , | 12 Comments

ASK FATHER: Bless or exorcize new home?

From a reader…


I’m a long time reader of your blog and thank you for your ministry.

My wife and I are in the final stages of purchasing our first house. When we went to see the house the first time we noticed that the current residents were Indian and of the Hindu religion. We know this because not only of the smell of curry throughout the house but also because of the small shrines and altars throughout the house. While I can appreciate ones conviction towards one’s faith, my wife said we should make sure the house is blessed before we move in. My question is, should we just simply bless the house or should more drastic means of blessing and/or exorcism take place since the house was inhabited by those of another faith? If so, what would be the proper thing to do? Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.

First, it is never wrong to have your house blessed!  Let’s put that another way.  It is always right to have your house blessed.  In Italy, for example, parish priests go about in the Easter season to bless dwellings, even putting up posters in neighborhoods saying when he will “strike” on that block, etc.

I doubt that you would need an exorcism of a place for your house.   You should start with the blessing.  Should you have any other concerns after that, then talk to the priest about the exorcism of a place.

Dear readers, talk to your priests about blessings, blessings of objects, places and yourselves.   There are different sorts of blessings (in spite of what the Praenotanda of the dreadful “Book of ‘Blessings'” says).  There are constitutive and invocative blessings.   Some blessings call God’s favor down and others constitute something or some place (and sometimes a person) as sacred or consecrated.

We need to use all the tools in our wonderful Catholic toolbox, including sacramentals, so established by constitutive blessings, and the right use of the Sacraments.

And don’t forget to examine your consciences and…


Congratulations on your new home.  May you thrive in it.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, GO TO CONFESSION, Hard-Identity Catholicism | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Rome 2- Day 2 & 3: Cooking up vestments and victuals

Today I stopped in at Gammarelli to talk about the upcoming pontifical set of vestments in white and I saw a relatively inexpensive rose pianera.

They will make a matching cope and have it to us by Gaudete Sunday. Hopefully in the next year pontifical sets will follow in rose and in a far better black than we presently have.  I’ll start fundraising for that, don’t worry!

And here is a shot of a new fabric they made, based on some that a priest found.

And another.  I wish they’d have had this green before.  It’s great.  It reminds me of fabrics I saw in Venice.  It has griffons in it.

They are doing some good things and they are expanding. They remain very helpful and available.

Meanwhile, the fabric I chose for the white pontifical set and the trim to go with it.

On the other hand, this was in a window of a nearby shop.  No.  Just… no.

At least they have a scruple spoon.  I like the spoons from Leaflet better.

I dropped into Santa Maria sopra Minerva on the way back to the apartment.

The tomb of Leo X who decreed some good excommunications.

Tomorrow i’ll pick up this reliquary designed for a relic of the True Cross.  it will be wonderful for public veneration of the relic.

I’m so grateful to a donor who made this possible.

Later, past my old seminary and a view of my window from over a quarter of a century ago.

I did some shopping around the Campo at shops I know.  Here was something interesting!

My green grocer lady is still going strong!

In my short let apartment I have for cooking only a pot for water and a frying pan and a micro stove with those horrid heating elements under glass.  It’s so small that you can’t have both the pot and pan on at the same time.  But my various odd living circumstances over the years prepared me for these challenges.

Here is a pan of my own amatriciana.

Tonight I made a blazing arrabiatia followed by a roulade of chicken, prosciutto, rosemary and taleggio.  It’s nice not to have the option to prepare a meal at will without going out.

As I ate I suddenly felt dizzy.  I lasted for some time.  A bit late got texts from a friend here that there was an earthquake sort of between Assisi and Loreto.  That’s what I felt.

May God protect those people affected in that region.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 23.50.15


A priest wrote:

There is this one I saw in a local supply shop in Vancouver. Yikes!


Posted in On the road, SESSIUNCULA, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Flash back with Stravinsky’s Mass

Over at the increasingly-valuable Crisis there is a great piece about the composer Igor Stravinsky and his sacred music.  Yes, Stravinsky wrote truly sacred music, and I find it quite compelling.  Stravinsky was a deeply religious soul and at times he considered conversion to the Catholic Church.  He wrote a Mass, by the way.  From the piece:

Around the same time as Babel, Stravinsky had begun work on his one and only Mass. Completed in 1948, the Mass for choir and wind instruments was written “from spiritual necessity” (as Stravinsky’s assistant Robert Craft claimed) rather than from a commission. Stravinsky intended the Mass for actual liturgical performance—the score contains intonations for “the priest”—but the premiere performance was at an opera house and it has, regrettably, seldom been performed as part of an actual Mass. [AH HAH!] In this work, Stravinsky created a haunting amalgam of the ancient and the modern. At times the vocal incantations suggest Orthodox chant or medieval polyphony. The wind instruments form a glowing background to the choir, like the gold of a Byzantine icon. Stravinsky explained that the Credo is the longest movement because “there is much to believe.”

I am happy to report that I have been celebrant for Holy Mass in the Traditional Roman Rite with the very Mass mentioned above.  It was almost exactly 6 years ago, this time of year. I was in Detroit at the wonderful Assumption Grotto parish, where the esteemed church-musician Fr. Ed Perrone is pastor.  I had mentioned to him once that I would like to be able to have the Stravinsky Mass and he put it together.  They had it in their repertoire.   It isn’t the favorite, I think, of some of the choir members, but it is a moving experience.  The contrast of the music with the ancient lines and movements, the chants (and some Bach!) and language of the Roman Mass, East meets West, is striking and evocative.  My post on that Mass HERE.

Here is a sample of Stravinsky’s Mass.

Posted in Both Lungs, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Peter Kwasniewski: Why tradition is important and reverence alone isn’t enough

Over a Rorate there is something so good that it compels me to overcome even their animosity toward me, extend an olive branch again, and direct you there to read patiently and completely.  Peter Kwasniewski of Wyoming Catholic College (where students can’t have cellphones but they can have guns) did a presentation for the new translation into Czech of his fine book Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church.  US HERE UK HERE

Peter makes an argument, reflected in the talk’s title: “Reverence Is Not Enough: On the Importance of Tradition”

Here are a couple samples with my emphases and comments:


But after this extended metaphor, an objection might be raised. “Why is tradition so important? Isn’t it enough just to have a reverent liturgy?  As long as we are sincere in our intentions and serious about our prayer, all these other things—the language of our worship, the type of music, the direction of the priest at the altar, the way people receive communion, whether or not we keep the same readings and prayers that Catholics used for centuries, and so forth—are just incidental or accidental features. They are ‘externals,’ and Jesus taught us that externals aren’t the main thing in religion.” [All of us who have promoted the traditional Roman Rite have heard this countless times.  Right?  “The Novus Ordo where I go is reverent!  Don’t tell me that that isn’t enough!”  I say, it might be enough, but why not have more.  To use one of my old analogies, a grown man can survive on jarred baby food, but he won’t thrive.  He needs a steak and cabernet.  At the same time, many people today have to be brought carefully, prudently, to the steak and cabernet so that they, unready, are not overwhelmed.]

There is, of course, some truth to this objection. Our intentions are indeed fundamental. If a non-believer pretended to get baptized as part of a play on stage, he would not really become a Christian. No externals by themselves will ever guarantee that we are worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth (cf. Jn 4:23–24), and an attitude of reverence and seriousness is the most crucial requirement of the ars celebrandi. Nevertheless, I believe that the objection as stated is erroneous, and dangerously so, because it presumes (and thereby fosters) a radical transformation of the very nature of the Catholic religion under the influence of Enlightenment philosophy.

Prior to all arguments about which practice is better or worse is the overarching principle of the primacy of tradition, meaning the inherent claim that our religious inheritance, handed down from our forefathers, makes on us. We do not “own” this gift, much less “produce” it. Tradition comes to us from above, from God who providentially designed us as social animals who inherit our language, our culture, and our religion; it comes to us from our ancestors, who are called antecessores in Latin—literally, the ones who have gone before.[3] They are ahead of us, not behind us; they have finished running the race, and we stand to benefit from their collective wisdom. [That’s a good insight.  Our forebears are ahead of us!] St. Paul states the principle in 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.”

[NB] The rejection of tradition and the cult of change embodies a peculiarly modern attitude of “mastery over tradition,” which is the social equivalent of Baconian and Cartesian “mastery over nature.” The combination of capitalism and technology has allowed us to abuse the natural world, treating it as raw material for exploitation, in pursuit of the satisfaction of our selfish desires. In a similar way, the influence of rationalism and individualism has tempted us to treat Catholic tradition as if it were a collection of isolated facts from which we, who are autonomous and superior, can make whatever selection pleases us. In adopting this arrogant stance, we fail to recognize, with creaturely humility, that our rationality is socially constituted and tradition-dependent. By failing to honor our antecessores, we fail to live according to our political nature and our Christian dignity as recipients of a concrete historical revelation that endures and develops organically over time and space. [Superb.]


Kwasniewski later in his talk does something quite useful: He shows the contrast between Joseph Ratzinger’s view of liturgy and Walter Kasper’s! There’s quite a bit to it, but here are a couple tastes…


[On the topic of how the Novus Ordo is often implemented…] Every celebration is, in a sense, a new project, a new compilation, a new construct of the human agents involved. Even if the same “traditional” options were to be chosen as a rule, the very fact that they are chosen and could be otherwise makes the liturgy not so much an opus Dei as an opus hominis.[10] [A “work of human hands”?]

This voluntaristic malleability of the liturgy, joined with an emphasis on local adaptation and continual evolution, is precisely the liturgical equivalent of the decades-long dispute between Walter Kasper and Joseph Ratzinger in the sphere of ecclesiology. For Ratzinger, the universal Church and its sole Lord and Savior take precedence[11]—and therefore the liturgy, which is the act par excellence of Christ and His Mystical Body, should embody, express, and inculcate exactly this universality, the faith of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”


In contrast, we see Cardinal Kasper’s group-based “ecclesiology from below” reflected in the localist Novus Ordo Missae—not in its abuses, but in its essence as a matrix of possibilities destined to receive its “inculturated” form from priests and people at each celebration. It is a liturgy in a constant state of fermentation, re-visioning, re-invention, which is antithetical to orthodoxy in its original meaning of “right-worship-and-right-doctrine.” It is worth pointing out that proponents of Kasperian ecclesiology and liturgy also tend to repudiate Constantinian Christianity and its universalizing aspiration to “re-establish all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10). This is because they hold, with Karl Rahner, [yep… there he is… lurking…] than every man is already Christian at some level, and that the world as such, the secular world, is already holy. [Well done.  Rahner thought – and this really bad idea has had serious and deep consequences for those upon whom it was thrust in seminaries and universities and therefore congregations after them, that sacraments mark pre-exiting realities.  Think about how that starting point would affect every single liturgical choice, right down to architecture!] Thus there is no clear distinction between ad intra and ad extra, between sanctuary and nave, between minister and congregation, between tradition and innovation, or even between sacred and profane. All things collapse into immanence, into the choice of the moment, the quest for instant inculturation, the transient emotional connection, the self-proclamation of the group. It is a liturgy of the Enlightenment, ahistorical, sociable, accessible, efficient, unthreatening. It is supposed to be pleasant, convenient, thoroughly free of magic, myth, or menace. There must not be any of that primitive or medieval mysterium tremendens et fascinans, [A phrase from Rudolf Otto which I use all the time when talking about the ends of sacred liturgical worship.] none of that groveling of slaves to their masters: we are grown-ups who can treat with God as equals.  [Sound familiar?] As a matter of fact, we will edit out “difficult” passages from Sacred Scripture and rewrite “difficult” prayers so that offenses or challenges to our modern way of life will be, if not eliminated, then at least kept to a polite minimum. [And there is the connection to reinterpretation of Scripture, such as Christ’s teaching about indissolubility of marriage.  Add to that the Church’s teaching about scandal and about reception of Communion in the state of grace.  Everything is up for grabs!]


This is excellent stuff. Peter also underscored Kasper’s approach to interpretation of Scripture. Scripture is constantly to be reinterpreted according to the times. What it once meant doesn’t confine us now. We interpret Scripture differently than our ancestors did. Thus, Christ’s strong and clear injunction about matrimony does mean what it meant. You get this also in his latest offering in Stimmen der Zeit about Communion for the divorced and remarried in Amoris laetitia.  Robert Stark, in CWR, some time ago described Kasper has replacing philosophy with politics: majority rule can change interpretation of Scripture, doctrine, whatever.

In any event, you might head over there and read the whole thing. It is worth the time and trouble.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Olive Branches | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

TORONTO: Upcoming Solemn Mass and Conference

Anyone who is in the neighborhood of Toronto, please take note.

First, there will be a Solemn Mass celebrated for the Feast of Christ the King (the last Sunday of October), 30 October.  His Eminence Thomas Card. Collins will preach.  It is significant that this will take place at the St. Michael’s Cathedral of Toronto.  More on that HERE or HERE.

Also, Serviam Ministries is sponsoring a day conference in Toronto on Saturday, 5 November called “Revival: Restoring the Sacred in Our Lives and Church.  More on that HERE.  Tickets are still available.

Good things in Toronto!


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Wherein Fr. Z rants: Our worship, therefore our identity, needs orthotics.

I receive this from a reader…

 I thought you might be interested in this; it at least is new to me. In Waterbury, Connecticut this morning, I came across this version of “Now Thank We All Our God” in WLP’s “We Celebrate” hymnal. I circled the two notable changes. The first is what caught my ear and made me pay closer attention even though it was very subtle. The way I always heard this hymn, it was “In whom his world rejoices, not “this world.” The reasons are obvious. It’s one of those things that had it been written that way in the first place 400 years ago, no one would care, but obviously someone with a 2016 agenda was at work here.

The second is actually more troublesome. The way I’ve always heard it, it was, “and free us from all sin, till heaven we possess,” not “free us from all ills, in this world and the next.” The very end of the verse doesn’t bug me too much, but I wonder why that needed to be changed. Expunging the reference to sin, however, does raise my ire— as you well know, that is not what we need these days. It makes me wish that the hymn had a Latin original so that we could appeal to that.

I am with Cardinal Sarah– the Novus Ordo needs to be fixed, not made even worse with stuff such as this.

The other day I wrote about a blurb Benedict XVI penned for a book in honor of the 25th anniversary of election of Patriarch Bartholomew.  Benedict took that opportunity to emphasize the importance of ad orientem worship.  I am confident that he did this knowing full well that Card. Sarah called for ad orientem worship from priests beginning in Advent, if possible, and I am also confident that he knows about the blow back and defiance Card. Sarah’s invitation provoked.  My friend Jan Bentz also wrote this up for LifeSite the other day.  HERE

We need ad orientem worship as an effective orthotic for many levels of the Church’s life.  I say the same about expanding the use of the older, traditional form of Holy Mass. Benedict gave us great tools: a good explanation of what ad orientem worship is about and also the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Not too long ago, His Excellency Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison and The Extraordinary Ordinary, spoke to seminarians and staff at the North American College about ad orientem worship.  He made a great connection between “turning towards the Lord” and morals, the bridge between them being a recovery of a sound eschatological view.  He also published a version of that talk in the diocesan newspaper.  HERE  You will see how he deals with pro-life issues along with matters of matrimony.  It is quite the presentation.  And he is right.

Ad orientem worship directs us all together to the liturgical “East”, whence from the very beginning Christians have believed the King of Fearful Majesty will return in glory to judge the living and the dead and unmake the world in fire.

Judge the living and the dead and unmake the world in fire.  That bears repeating.

Ad orientem worship can help us recover together a deeper sense of the Four Last Things.

I am pretty sure that people who regularly meditate on the Four Last Things are less inclined to commit mortals sins habitually.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why there are bishops and priests who so strongly resist and even fear ad orientem worship.  Perhaps they are purposefully avoiding, for one reason or another, regular reflection on their own judgment, the Four Last Things.  I have often wondered if that is the reason why many priests neglect their duties in regard to the Sacrament of Penance for their flocks.

I suspect that priests who on principle refuse ad orientem worship have a problem of some kind that they are not dealing with.  I’m not talking about priests who don’t want to say Mass “turned towards the Lord” because they are unfamiliar with it, or they are not sure their flocks would go for it, or they just don’t get it.  I’m talking about priests who get it, but they refuse on principle ever to say Mass ad orientem.  I can’t shake the idea that they might be dealing with some undealt with issue.

But I digress.

As I read more and more of Card. Sarah’s new book about the power of silence to combat the dictatorship of noise (right now only in French – US HERE – UK HERE), on the foundation of having read also his fantastic God Or Nothing (think about that title for a moment – UK HERE), as I consider also how he speaks in public and having spoken with him personally, I am convinced that his appeal to priests to “turn towards the Lord” is rooted in profound marrow.  It is a sound course of treatment, a corrective orthotic.  When I compare what Sarah has to say with what his critics respond… and how they respond… pffft.

There comes to mind the image of braces on legs, teeth, or back, which slowly and painfully correct rigid structures when they are twisted and dislocated.  Ad orientem worship in the Novus Ordo and also the side-by-side celebration of Holy Mass in the traditional form of the Roman Rite are orthotics.  They are spine straighteners and strengtheners.  They realign.

We are dislocated right now.  Our corporate Catholic identity is twisted and misaligned, alternately enervated and neuralgic, which makes it harder and harder to run to our daily tasks as Catholics, in private and in the public square.  If our spines are out of line, we can’t do the heavy lifting of living Catholic lives according to our God bequeathed vocations.  If we cripple ourselves, we betray the gift God has given us.

We all always need conversion.  But we also, as individuals and as a body, need straightening.

Retracing my steps to the reader’s letter at the top, note how the redactors edited out the uncomfortable reference to sin.   This doesn’t surprise me, of course.  In the prayers, the orations, for the the Novus Ordo, when they were based on or pasted together from bits of earlier and ancient prayers, nearly completely redact out clear references to our sins, our guilt for sin, expiation, propitiation, etc.  The bowdlerized hymn reflects the bowderlized orations.  Don’t get me wrong.  The orations in the Novus Ordo are, generally, pretty good prayers, taken individually!  But, as a body of prayers, they aren’t enough. They studiously avoid clear references to some really important things.  They leave us without the constant spur to reflect on our souls and think about our judgment.

Ad orientem worship in the Novus Ordo and side by side use of the Traditional Roman Rite will bring to our flocks a powerful corrective for the twisting enervation of our Catholic identity.  The correction of the twist will be slow and painful, I’m afraid.  Those braces on limbs and on teeth don’t feel good.  But without the corrective counter-forces on our twists we soon won’t be able to walk or chew.  I don’t know much about sciatica – caused by pinching and irritation of nerves when things get out of line – other than the fact that it is really painful and that, unless it is treated, it can get so bad that you can’t get around.

The treatment is painful but the lack of treatment is worse.

Fathers… there is time before Advent to start catechizing your flocks, to ready them to turn toward the East.   There is time, but you have to begin now.   Many will fight you.  They will grumble and make complaints.  Your bishops might – probably will – bully you.    Your fellow priests will run you down.  I think it is the right thing to do.  You will be made to suffer.  I, too, will be made to suffer for urging this.  If you can’t do it right now, Fathers, start thinking about how you can get it done down the line.  Make a plan.  Read and study.

Get Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy  US HERE UK HERE

Get Klaus Gamber’s The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background US HERE UK HERE

Get Fr. Lang’s Turning Towards the Lord US HERE UK HERE

Dear readers… make sure that your priests have these books.  Get them.  Give them.

This is going to be hard and fraught with pain.

As Augustine wrote, with only his knowledge of ancient medicine, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.



I received this amusing note from Fr. George Rutler about the hymn and comments at the top of this post.   He corrects an errant assumption about the text change.  However, his correction in no way touches on the fundamental point I made about what was intentionally done to weaken the Novus Ordo texts  Nor does it touch on my larger goal in the post.  Still, this is interesting.  Take it away, Fr. R:


“Now Thank We All Our God”:

Sophia Institute Press is republishing my history of hymns, “Brightest and Best” in January. It was first published by Ignatius Press 19 years ago and has been out of print.

Having been an Anglican choirboy, I know many hymns by heart and I can say that, curiously, the WLP version of “Now Thank We All Our God” is the original. (“sin” for “ills” is the bowdlerized version. )The text is by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) an English social worker and Germanophile. She went through a couple of slight revisions (“this world” in the original and “his world” in later ones), and basically what we have first appeared in her “Lyra Germanica” in 1858. Of course the archaic indicative “haths” were in the mint Winkworth text..
The German original was written by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649), Lutheran archdeacon of Ellenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War. “Der un von Mutterleich/Und Kindesbeinen an/ Uhzahlig viel ze gut/ Bis hieher hat getan” (I don’t do umlauts). [And you are the poorer for it!] Part of it is a paraphrase of Jesus ben Sirach.

As Winkworth was a Germanophile, Mendlessohn who harmonized the tune of Johann Cruger, was an Anglophile. The Nazis banned all his works, along with the works of Mahler, because of racism.

This is the classical English version:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Be The Maquis, Cri de Coeur, Four Last Things, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Turn Towards The Lord, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

Card. Kasper: It’s a scandal to deny Communion to adulterers

john_stoneIn the Augustinian Order today is the Feast of St John Stone, one of the 40 English Martyrs canonized by the author of Humanae Vitae. He died under Henry VIII opposing the original version of the Kasper Proposal.

Speaking of Kasper, this is, frankly, scandalous.

Via LifeSite:

BREAKING: Cardinal Kasper: Can the ‘remarried’ now receive communion? ‘Yes. Period.’

October 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a recent publication of the German journal Stimmen der Zeit (Journal for Christian Culture), Cardinal Walter Kasper published an article calling Amoris Laetitia a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s teaching. [It was a paradigm shift for more than one reason, perhaps.  One reason is that it teaches through implication and ambiguity rather than through unmistakable clarity.  The fact that we keep having to come back to certain questions and that theologians are divided underscores this approach.  Kasper, however, who was an architect of what has become a seriously confusion situation, is raring to go.]

“Amoris Laetitia: Break or Beginning” is the title of a recent scientific article by Kasper in which he analyzes the post-synodal exhortation and provides his opinion on the right hermeneutic in reading it.  [Guess which side he comes down on.]

In the first part called “Discussion regarding the binding character,” Kasper critiques Cardinal Raymond Burke [there’s a surprise] for his statement that post-synodal documents by the Pope are not necessarily binding. Instead, Kasper states, “This position is refuted by the formal character of an Apostolic Exhortation as well as its content.”

According to Kasper – and indeed he is right, as evidenced by the post-synodal discussions concerning the document – critiques of Amoris Laetitia boil down to the question of “remarried” divorced Catholics receiving Communion.  [Indeed, it is more fundamental even than that. The question also must be, can people who are manifestly living in a state of sin receive Communion.  And behind that, does it matter if you are in the state of mortal sin?  And behind that: What is “Communion” anyway?]

As Kasper points out, the question is addressed by two different camps: One opinion is held by “conservatives,” some of whom (including German philosopher Robert Spaemann) see Amoris Laetitia as a break from the tradition of the Church, whereas others (including Cardinal Gerhard Müller) say the publication does not change the position of the Church.

Another (held by Italian theologian Rocco Buttiglione) says the doctrine of the Church is developed further but not on the line of Pope John Paul II. Yet others acknowledge a “careful development” that is paired with a lack of “concrete guidelines.” The last position among the “conservatives” is Norbert Lüdecke (Canon Law, Bonn, Germany) who says it is up to the individual conscience of the remarried divorced person to decide if he or she may receive Communion or not.

Kasper goes on to cite Buttiglione that Cardinal Christoph Schönborn presents the “decisive interpretation.” This citation refers back to a publication in L’Osservatore Romano. The same position is taken by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ in La Civiltà Cattolica, among whom Kasper wants to count himself.

Kasper critiques the “alleged confusion” [“alleged”?  Look at what Kasper detailed as the state of the question!] as having been caused by a “third party” who has “alienated themselves from the sense of faith and life of the people of God.” He continues to say that “behind the pastoral tone of the document lies a well thought-out theological position.”  [One must, then, ask, why wasn’t that well thought-out theological position spelled out clearly in AL?  Kasper claims there is a “well thought-out position”.  Gratis asseritur.]

The Cardinal praises the “realistic, open, and relaxed way of dealing with sexuality and eroticism” in Amoris Laetitia that does not seek to “indoctrinate or moralize.” [So, is that what this is all about?]With a grain of salt, [What’s that kind of phrase doing in an explanation of a “well thought-out position”?] one can say that Amoris Laetitia distances itself from a primarily negative Augustinian view of sexuality and turns toward an affirming Thomistic view on creation.”  [We really need some Thomists to drill into Kasper.  Also, picture yourself trying to explain this situation to St. Thomas Aquinas, and finishing with the phrase: “Therefore, the divorced and remarried can receive Communion.”  But wait… it get’s worse…] Kasper repeats his opinion that the moral ideal is an “optimum,” yet is unreachable by many. “Oftentimes, we have to choose the lesser evil,” he states, “in the living life there is no black and white but only different nuances and shadings.”  [There it is.  Morals are only ideals, I guess.]

Amoris Laetitia does not change an iota of the teaching of the Church, yet it changes everything.” [What does that mean?] The text provides ground for believing – so says Kasper – that the Pope, and with him the Church, moves away from a “legal morality” and toward the “virtue morality” of Thomas Aquinas.  [Ummm… the “legal morality” v. “virtue morality”.]

Afterward, the Cardinal presents his own complex interpretation of Thomistic teachings concerning virtue and moral law in concrete situations. [I haven’t seen the Stimmen der Zeit text, but I’m fully prepared to believe that it is complex.] He bases his opinion on prudence as the “application of a norm in a concrete situation.” “Prudence does not give foundation to the norm, it presupposes it,” Kasper writes. He draws the conclusion that the “norm” is not applicative mechanically in every situation, but prudence is needed as fits the case.


St John Stone in his prison cell awaiting execution. From an engraving printed in 1612 at Liege in a volume by Georges Maigret Buillonoy OSA (+1633)

With reference to Familiaris Consortio (No. 84), Kasper states that “remarried” divorcees are not anymore punished with excommunication but instead are “invited to participate as living members of Church life.”

Instead of choosing the path of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (“who had adhered to John Paul II’s decision”) to not allow “remarried” divorced Catholics to receive Communion and instead to insist that they practice abstinence in their sexual relations, Pope Francis “goes a step further, by putting the problem in a process of an embracing pastoral [approach] of gradual integration.” [Which means that just about anyone can receive Communion, regardless of their objective state.]

“Amoris Laetitia envisages which forms of exclusion from ecclesiastical, liturgical, pastoral, educational, and institutional services can be overcome,” Kasper explains. He posits that when John Paul II gave permission for remarried divorced to receive Communion – if they lived as brother and sister – this was “in fact a concession.” [There is still the matter of public propriety, etc.] The Cardinal reasons this by saying, “Abstinence belongs to the most intimate sphere and does not abolish the objective contradiction of the ongoing bond of marriage of the first sacramental marriage and the second civil marriage.” [He got something right, there.]

Kasper further denies the magisterial content of the provision: “This provision obviously does not have the same weight than the general norm; anyhow it is not a final binding magisterial statement.” In Kasper’s eyes, John Paul II’s request opens up a “playground” between the “dogmatic principle” and the “pastoral consequence,” which Amoris Laetitia tries to widen.  [It’s a “playground”, but perhaps with a “grain of salt”.]

Another argument Kasper tries to use to justify allowing “remarried” divorcees to receive Communion is the distinction between “objective mortal sin” and “subjective culpability.” He insists that Pope Francis “emphasizes the subjective aspects without ignoring the objective elements.” Kasper also alludes to the fact that sometimes people are not able to be convinced of an “objective norm” because it seems to them to be “as insurmountably estranged from world and reality.” [I would ask, if people cannot understand, cannot grasp, cannot accept the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage, should they be receiving Communion at all?  Perhaps. If that is the only point they are shaky on.  But is it likely that that’s the only weak spot?]

“The conscience of many people is oftentimes blind and deaf to that which is presented to them as Divine Law. That is not a justification of their error, yet an understanding and mercifulness with the erroneous person.”

Therefore, Kasper states that “Amoris Laetitia lays the groundwork for a changed pastoral praxis in a reasoned individual case.” Yet he also says the “Papal document does not draw clear practical conclusions from these premises.[But… let’s see if the Cardinal draws clear practical conclusions from it.] According to Kasper, the Pope leaves the question open, and the very fact of leaving it open is “in itself a magisterial decision of great consequence.”

Kasper explains that the direction of Pope Francis is clear: “One does not need to focus on footnotes. [Ummm… first, the footnotes are the cause of much confusion.  Next, if they are not important, why were they included?] Much more important is that the gradual integration, which is the key topic in question, is directed essentially towards admittance to the Eucharist as full-form of the participation of the life of the Church.”

Kasper quotes Francis’ statement from an in-flight press conference on April 16 wherein he responded to the question if in some cases remarried divorced can receive Communion with the poignant words: “Yes. Period.” This answer is not found in Amoris Laetitia but ‘corresponds to the general ductus.’”  [And so he draws a clear practical conclusion from the document that he says doesn’t draw clear practical conclusions.  Or did I get that wrong?]

According to Kasper, this statement is in full accordance with Canon Law (915 CIC/1983) because it does not negate that “obstinacy to remain in mortal sin” can supposedly be judged in individual cases, and in some cases be excluded. It is even up for discussion whether an objective mortal sin is present in the given case.   [Look how far this has now drifted.]

He adds that the cause of scandal is not necessarily having a person who lives in a second civil marriage receive Communion. Rather, in such a situation, “not the admission but the denial of the sacraments is creating scandal.” [If I am not mistaken, I think he said that it is a scandal to deny Communion to adulterers.  Which turns two thousand years of teaching, starting with Christ Himself, on its head.]

Wow.  Nobody spins like Kasper spins.  He could look you in the eye and without blinking argue that sea urchins are really giraffes.

A Cardinal of the Church says it is a scandal to deny Communion to people who are in an objective state of adultery and the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series.

Is the end of the world and the Lord’s return upon us?

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in Liberals, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, The Drill, What are they REALLY saying?, You must be joking! | Tagged , , , , | 56 Comments