LENTCAzT 03: Friday after Ash Wednesday


It is Friday after Ash Wednesday.

Remember your Friday Lenten obligations.

We are creeping into Lent through the “narthex” of these first few days.

With this audio offering, I am beginning a series of daily 5 minute podcasts for Lent.  They are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season.


I am providing these again this year especially in gratitude to benefactors who help me and this blog.

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Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

GRAVITY EXISTS! (Just too cool… waaaaay cool.)

That is… gravitational waves exist.

Last night during my sermon for Ash Wednesday, I used an image from Augustine’s Confessions.  Augustine, who authored the unforgettable “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”, described us and our love as working like gravity, which in the thought of the ancients was a force within a thing that sought to go to its proper place of balance in relation to all other things.  “Amor meus pondus meum” (conf 13, 9, 10) said Augustine, “My love is my weight” drawing the restless soul to God, the only source of lasting peace. We are all made in God’s image and likeness, made to act as God acts.  He reveals something of His will to us.  When we obey Him we act in accordance with the way He made us and what He intended for us.  All things that live and move and have their being must come to rest in God or forever be in conflict with themselves and the cosmos.

But I digress…

From New Scientist:

Revolution in physics as gravitational waves seen for first time

We just turned the volume up on the sky. Gravitational waves, the booming echoes of massive objects moving all over the universe, have been detected for the first time by LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, which was recently upgraded.

Gravitational waves are predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which says that massive objects warp space-time around them. When these objects accelerate, they make gravitational waves: ripples in the fabric of space-time that spread outward, like the wake left behind a boat. [Much as, I think, massive Mass properly celebrated and participated sends “waves” through the cosmos.  Save The Liturgy, Save The World.]

We have been pretty sure they exist for a while – their presence was inferred indirectly as far back as 1974 – but none had been observed directly.

In a press conference today at the National Press Club in Washington DC, which was simultaneously broadcast to the media and other members of the team that made the discovery, the LIGO collaboration announced that they had finally caught a wave.


This historic signal was produced by a pair of black holes roughly 1.3 billion light years away, one 29 times the mass of the sun and the other 36 times, orbiting each other and then merging into a single black hole.

LIGO’s dual detectors, based in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, felt the tremors on 14 September 2015 at almost the same instant. Their sensors registered space-time expanding and contracting by as much as a thousandth of the size of a proton – a tiny distance, but 10 times larger than the smallest unit LIGO can measure. [Amazing.]

This was a doubly lucky find: officially, the experiment wasn’t scheduled to begin taking data until four days later, on 18 September, in a run that continued until 12 January 2016. The signal arrived while the detectors were in “engineering mode”, making sure the instruments were running smoothly.

A second stroke of luck was the nature of the signal: it seems that black hole mergers happen more often than we expected.

All objects emit gravitational waves when they orbit each other, including Earth orbiting the sun. But as these two black holes circled each other, the energy they lost to gravitational waves was enough to bring them much closer together – causing them to distort space-time further and emit even more gravitational waves.

That set them on track to collide and merge into one bigger black hole. “It’s a runaway process,” says Frans Pretorius, of Princeton University in New Jersey. “The closer they get, the faster they spin.” Near the end, they were whirling so fast that each orbit lasted just a few milliseconds. [WHOA!  One of these stars is 29 times the mass of your Earth’s yellow Sun and the other 36 times?  And the orbit was in milliseconds?  It is nearly impossible to grasp the force of this… and yet to the least of the angels in the angelic hierarchy such a thing is less consequential to him than a plastic yoyo to us.]

When they eventually merged, the single black hole that remained was 62 times the mass of the sun – three solar masses lighter than the two original black holes combined. That missing mass all went into creating gravitational waves that fluttered space-time like a sheet.

The total power output of gravitational waves during the brief collision was 50 times greater than all of the power put out by all the of the stars in the universe put together,” said Kip Thorne of Caltech, one of LIGO’s founders. “It’s unbelievable.”  [“Praise ye Him, O sun and moon: praise Him, all ye stars and light.”]

At first, the resulting bigger black hole was lumpy instead of round, and getting rid of the lumps caused it to emit more gravitational waves. It then settled into a sphere and grew quiet. [Each one of us has an influence on the Body of Christ.  Lent should help us to get rid of our lumps so that we can help the Body run more smoothly.  This is not always a gentle process.]

By translating the frequency of the gravitational waves into sound waves, you can actually hear the signal. Physicists call it a “chirp“: a rise in pitch and volume as the black holes circle each other faster and faster.

The chirp from this new signal was very short – “just a thump”, said LIGO spokesperson Gabriela Gonzalez at the press conference.

Listen to the pair of black holes colliding – as detected by LIGO:

Posted in Just Too Cool, Look! Up in the sky! | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

The Lenten “Prayer over the People” during Holy Mass: a beautiful custom revived

A wonder Lenten tradition is upon us, to remind us of how important Lent is.  Entering Lent, we enter a mystery, a sacramentum.  We need special graces to carry out our Lenten discipline.

The Latin 2002 Missale Romanum restored the ancient custom of the Oratio super populum at the end of Mass.  It had been heinously stripped out of the Novus Ordo by the liturgical engineers through the implementation of BugniniCare.  In the Novus Ordor now, or Ordinary Form, you hear these prayers each day during Lent.  In the older form of the Roman Rite they occur every day of the week but Sunday.

What’s up with this prayer?

The priest says this prayer after the Post communio.  It is introduced by the phrase, “Humiliate capita vestra Deo…  Humbly bow your heads to God.”

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The origin of the Oratio super populum is complex and hard to pin down.  Turning to Fr. Joseph A. Jungmann’s monumental two volume The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development we find a history of this prayer at the beginning of the section concerning the close of the Mass (II, pp. 427 ff).  Jungmann emphasizes that, at Mass ends, we are at a “frontier” moment, the threshold of the sacred precinct of the church and the world.  When properly formed we want the influence of our intimate contact with the divine to carry over into the outside world.

By the time of Pope Gregory the Great (+604) the Oratio super populum was only used in the Lenten season, probably because Lent is a time of greater spiritual combat requiring more blessings.

It was extremely important for those who were not receiving Holy Communion, as was the case of those doing public penance before the Church, the ordo poenitentium.

How important was this prayer to the Romans? 

In 545, when Pope Vigilius (+555) was conducting the station Mass at St. Cecilia in Trastevere, troops of the pro-Monophysite Byzantine Emperor Justinian arrived after Communion to take the Pope into custody and conduct him to exile in Constantinople.  The people followed them to the ship and demanded “ut orationem ab eo acciperent…that they should receive the blessing prayer from him”.  The Pope recited it, the people said “Amen” and off went Vigilius who returned to Rome only after his death.

Let’s see the Oratio super populum for Thursday after Ash Wednesday in the Ordinary Form, the 2003 Missale Romanum.

Oratio super populum (2002MR):

Qui populo tuo, omnipotens Deus,
notas fecisti vias vitae aeternae,
per eas ad te, lumen indeficiens,
nos facias, quaesumus, pervenire

The phrase lumen indeficiens is what catches your eye and ear right way.  Light unfailing!  This is from Scripture, Ecclesiasticus 24:6: ego in caelis feci ut oriretur lumen indeficiens et sicut nebula texi omnem terram.  Latin Fathers such as Cyprian of Carthage, Maximus of Turin, and Augustine of Hippo worked with this phrase. It also winds up in old prayers, for example in the Liber sacramentorum Augustodunensis and Gellonensis.  In the later it is part of a blessing for a lamp, candle or lantern, right after a fascinating blessing for soap!  But I digress…


Almighty God, who made the paths
of eternal life known to Your people,
grant us, we implore, to come by them
to You, the unfailing light


Almighty God,
who have made known to your people
the ways of eternal life,
lead them by that path, we pray,
to you, the unfading light

The image we get from this prayer is that God is the light which illuminates our way through the obstacle strewn paths of this world.  He lights our way lest we lose our footing and fall into the abyss where there is no light at all.

Through out the history of salvation, God has shown man the way to come to him.  We knew many things by interior lights before the fall.  After the Fall, God gave us commandments and symbolic actions which foreshadowed the clearer realities that would come in their due times.  In the fullness of time the One who is Light from Light came into the this world to dispel the darkness we made.

He is not only Light from Light, eternally, but, in time, He is the Way.

At the end of Mass you are sent back out into the daylight to continue to carry out your vocation.

You need the light that God offers you in the teachings of the Church to guide your footsteps.

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Juventutem Hungary … Introibo Foundation

Apart from the fact that they use a “J”, I am all for the Juventutem movement for young people who want the Traditional Roman Rite.

I received this from the head of the Hungarian tribe of the same:

Dear Father Z.,
I am happy to announce that the members of Juventutem Hungary have launched a foundation called Introibo Foundation. We are still working on the english version of our website, nevertheless all information will be available shortly here:
In your charity, could you please help us in finding donors for our cause?
Same as in your practise, a mass for benefactors will be said every month.
Thank you very much for your help!
In Christ,
Bertalan Kiss
Juventutem Hungary

So… that’s the news.  I wish them well.  I ran into them last October during the Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage.

On another note, folks, if you have something going on, it helps to have it completed before I post about it!  Otherwise, I mention it and it scrolls off the main page.  If you get my drift.

Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 1 Comment

11 February 2013: Benedict XVI announced abdication

benedict xvi resignation abdicationOn this dark day in 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was to resign his office at Bishop of Rome.  He would step down on 28 February.

He announced to a hastily assembled consistory of Cardinals and others:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


On this same day, 11 February, lightning struck St. Peter’s Basilica.

The photo from Agence France-Presse:

I’ll bet you remember where you were when you heard about this astonishing announcement.

I remember my reaction: “You gave up WHAT for Lent?”  Then I had Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

Seriously, I was pretty much floored.



Click HERE.

In the meantime, remember…

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Your Ash Wednesday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point made in the sermon you heard at Holy Mass for Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday was not a Holy Day of Obligation, as all Sundays are.

For my part, I spoke briefly about the need for purification and cleansing during this sacred season, which the ancients referred to as a sacramentum. We enter into mystery during Lent. We prepare to go into the tomb with the Lord. We have to be ready to suffer and embrace the Cross when we say “No!” to our appetites and our passions, whether disordered or not. In the self-denial we suffer. We have to be aware of this fact and be disciplined about it. First we fast, then we feast. The mystery of Lent brings us to experience, in a season, the pattern of our lives. Passion… resurrection.

As a side note, last night we had a Sung Mass in the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite. This was at a church in a parish of three merged churches. It was the only evening Ash Wednesday Mass for the parish. Thus, some of the people from – let’s just say the rather more modernist nearby town – had a taste of “something old and something new”. Furthermore, the CCD class from the rather more modernist parish was there. It’ll be interesting to have some feedback about their experience.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged | 10 Comments

LENTCAzT 02: Thursday after Ash Wednesday


It is Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

We are creeping into Lent through the “narthex” of these first few days.

With this audio offering, I am beginning a series of daily 5 minute podcasts for Lent.  They are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season.


I am providing these again this year especially in gratitude to benefactors who help me and this blog.

Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

LENTCAzT 01: Ash Wednesday


It is Ash Wednesday.  For those bound by the law, it is a day of fasting and abstinence.

With this audio offering, I am beginning a series of daily 5 minute podcasts for Lent.  They are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season.


I am providing these again this year especially in gratitude to benefactors who help me and this blog.

REMINDER: This evening at 6:30 PM CST, Ash Wednesday, I will say Mass for the intention of my benefactors, that is, people who have donated through the button on the sidebar or who have subscribed each month, and those who have sent items through my wishlists.

Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

ASK FATHER: Young children receiving ashes on #AshWednesday

This comes up each year in my ASK FATHER email, so I will repost an oldie.

ashesFrom a reader:

I have a three year old girl. She loves the material aspects of Catholicism (holy cards, holy water, lighting candles, relics etc) and has a pretty good understanding of them for her age.

Can she receive ashes on Ash Wednesday? She obviously hasn’t any sin to repent of in the literal sense of the word, but we do encourage her to say sorry to Jesus every night for the littlw ways she might have been bold that day. Receiving ashes could be a useful part of the learning process for her.

Are there any official rules around the age when one can have ashes imposed on Ash Wednesday?

There aren’t any age rules for this.  As your child’s parent you get to make your own call about that.  If the priest is amenable, you can do this.

I would advise, however, that if the ashes are put on a bit thick on the forehead that you take care that she not get any in her eyes.

If she is old enough to say “sorry” to Jesus before bed, she is old enough to start learning with steps about penance and self-denial too, perhaps.  Of course, at that age she isn’t bound to fast or abstain, etc.

Perhaps parents can chime in with their comments about this, for they have been through these decisions.

Speaking for myself, I have some very early memories.  I wonder what the long-term effect of the reception of ashes might be deep down in her Catholic identity as she grows up amid the deepening challenges of this world.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , | 20 Comments

POLL: #AshWednesday Ashes and You

Some people are under the impression that Ash Wednesday is a Holy Day of Obligation.

It is not.

Lent is an important season in the yearly cycle of a Catholic Christian’s life.  The inclination toward a feeling of obligation is laudable. The desire to begin the spiritual war of Lent by marking it with ashes is good.

Nevertheless, people are not obliged to go to Mass on Ash Wednesday nor to receive ashes.

You are not a “bad Catholic” if you don’t go to Mass on Ash Wednesday.

As a matter of fact, were someone to go and receive ashes because they want to be seen, not in the sense of bearing witness, but in the sense of “See how pious I am”… well…

His dictis, let’s move to our poll question.

Give us your best answer and your comments.

On Ash Wednesday 2016...

View Results

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Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, POLLS | Tagged , , | 52 Comments