ASK FATHER: Pipe organs, being expensive, how about manually pumped reed organs?

From a reader…


Pipe organs being too expensive for most parishes, and many electronic organs being used instead sound terrible and turn people off from the organ, what are your thoughts on bringing back reed (pump) organs to church?

I never really appreciated just what one was capable until I heard it played by competent people who knew how to get the most out of it.

Take, for example, Widor’s Toccata played on this rather large pump organ that even has a peddle board:
Or Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor:
Or for hymns, Hyfrydol:

This was the standard instrument in many churches prior to Vatican II, and many of our beloved female saints who were musically competent played it during Mass.

You never know what sort of question will come up. Let’s sample…

My first impulse is to say, hey!, it’s hard enough to find organists to play any organ, much less a manually pumped reed organ. Have at!    And I’d be concerned about keeping it tuned in widely shifting seasons.  Even worse than a badly tuned instrument is an almost tuned instrument.

My second impulse is to say, hey!, that’s going to be handy after the massive CME creates a grid killing sequel to the Carrington Event. Hang on to that organ along with your horse tack and plow, ammo, and the transceivers stored in your Faraday cages.  The EMP will wipe out the other organs for sure.

My third impulse is to say, hey!, that’s pretty darn cool and, in lieu of a greater instrument, it sounds pretty darn good. I think it would sound even better used for music scaled a bit more for its capacity. Widor? Wow. He was the organist of Saint-Sulpice in Paris with its mighty Cavaillé-Coll. Gutsy!

By way of contrast.

Look. In the right space with a good fist at the manuals and an healthy helper at the bellows, it could be just the right thing.  Why not?  In a smaller church, why not?

That was fun. Thanks.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Semper Paratus, TEOTWAWKI | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

ASK FATHER: Alb for a boy’s pretend “Mass” set?

From a reader…


I am making a set of vestments for my 9 year old son to use for pretend Mass over the summer. (I’ve been inspired by your posts regarding the travel vestments being made for your priest friend and plan to make my son’s double sided as well.)

My question is, can I buy a used altar server alb online and let him use it as his priestly alb? My main concern is that perhaps it was blessed and it would be wrong to use it at home for this purpose. I’ve found one that would be very cost effective and allow me to spend my time at the sewing machine concentrating on the more beautiful pieces. But I want to do the right thing.

I’m sure that Fr. Johnson will be pleased to know that his loss of vestments, and our project to have new one’s made has led to your project for your son.  Perhaps he, too, will be inspired to consider a vocation to the priesthood.

Can you use a server’s alb.


Don’t worry about it having been blessed.  If you get something online, it is being sold and bought, which would in any case result in the loss of the blessing.  They aren’t going to be selling blessed things, anyway.   That comes after they are purchased.

However, since we are on the topic of blessing vestments for Mass, here is the text of a beautiful blessing for priestly vestments.  You can sense, in the texts, the grave and serious attitude that the Church had – and in places where traditional is fostered today still has – when it came to things intended for sacred purposes.

Almighty everlasting God, who decreed through Moses, your servant, that the vesture of high-priest, priest, and levite, used in fulfilling their ministry in your sight, should be worn to dignify and beautify the worship rendered to your holy name; mercifully heed our prayers, and be pleased, through our lowly ministry, to bless + these priestly vestments (this priestly vestment), bedewing them (it) with your grace, so that they (it) become hallowed and suitable for divine worship and the sacred mysteries. Let every bishop, priest, or deacon clothed in these sacred vestments (this sacred vestment) be strengthened and defended from all assault or temptation of wicked spirits; let them perform and celebrate your mysteries reverently and well; and let them always carry out their ministry in a devout and pleasing manner; through Christ our Lord.

This tells us something of the proper mindset of the one who approaches the sacred mysteries at the altar of the Lord.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Priests and Priesthood | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

ASK FATHER: Marital relations after a tubal ligation 22 years ago out of fear of pregnancy

From a reader…


I am very uneasy in my conscience. Twenty-two years ago, after the birth of our fourth child (last 3 were high risk pregnancies that ended in C-sections), my wife felt she was too old (38) to risk another pregnancy. She went to our parish priest to ask about tubal ligation. He told her that he had no advice, that she should do whatever she felt in conscience would be best. She went ahead and had it.

Just last week it occurred to me that for the last 22 years all of our marital acts have been objectively sinful. I confessed this, but the priest said nothing about it. Am I right in my thinking? I am now in my seventies and my wife is in her sixties. If we continue to have relations, are we committing mortal sins?

Firstly, that priest, 22 years ago, did you a disservice.  In order to have committed a mortal sin, you have to had known that it was wrong and you have to have intended with full will to do it anyway.  The fact that you asked a priest suggests you suspected it was wrong.  But… the priest left you in midair.  Given the unhelpful response of the priest, the circumstances of your ages, the reality of the C-sections, and the emotional turmoil you were surely experiencing, I suspect that you didn’t incur the guilt of the act of the ligation, even though it was intended precisely to avoid pregnancy.

That’s in the past.  Moving on, because that’s what we now must do, you are not morally obliged to seek a reversal of the ligation.  Given that this is now the condition you are living in, you may in good conscience have relations.

Again, I note that the second priest you mentioned, when you confessed this, “said nothing about it”.   Again, that priest also left you hanging in midair.

Friend, be at ease about this.   Life is messy and the situation of the Church in the last few decades has been crazy.  It is greatly to your credit that you wondered and worried about these questions enough to consult.  I’m just sorry that you had to be in a conflict of conscience for any length of time because you didn’t get a straight answer from the priests you asked.  You might say a prayer for them asking God, if they are alive, to give them some backbone and clarity of thought. And if they are dead, mercy.

I wouldn’t mind a prayer for myself.

The moderation queue is ON and I probably won’t let comments go unless they are from priests or at least highly useful.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman | Tagged , | 2 Comments

On a painfully hopeful day, consolation arrives – new icon of Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy

It has been a painful and hopeful day.  Hopefully painful, or painfully hopeful, I can’t decide.  The needle drifted a to the later as I opened my mail.

First, it is REALLY supposed to be MONDAY in the OCTAVE of PENTECOST.  However, can one object strongly to acknowledging Mary as Mother of the Church?  The Church had it’s birthday on that first Pentecost, so a feast to honor her as the Church’s Mother is a good thing.

Next, a document and a book made me grind my teeth – because they are necessary – but happily that we now have additional resources.

There were some other binomials as well, but today – on this appropriate day – I received something I’ve looked forward to for a while.

Veronica Royal, better half of the guy who shows up on EWTN all the time, painted for me – nay, rather, drew – an icon of Mary, Queen of the Clergy.  Her site is HERE.

I have a strong affinity for this title of Our Lady.  Years ago, I happened upon a lovely old French holy card of her and the image stuck in my heart.

A couple years back, knowing that I have this affinity, some nuns who share this affinity sent me a statue.  I’d very much like to have this statue redone.

Coincidentally, on the day that the statue arrived, I also received a beautiful Missal stand from  from St. Joseph’s Apprentice who is becoming justly famous for his beautiful portable altars… the ultimate gift for a priest.  I’m sensing a pattern.

I’ve also made it a point when I am in Paris to visit frequently the chapel dedicated to Our Lady under this title at one of my favorite churches, Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in the 5th, which is cared for by the priests of the SSPX. It is simply the best kept and most active – and friendly – I’ve found in the City of Lights. And that is where there was seated a Confraternity of Notre-Dame du Clergé.

And now I have also this.

And, to continue a pattern of getting things on the same day and of priestly protection, or protection of priestly things, today I also received a hard case that will be useful in transporting my chalice back to Rome if I choose to have it refurbished there (where it was made).  I want finally to finish it by adding gems for the roses in the node, which I chose because of the way St. Therese de Lisieux saved my vocation.

But that’s another story.

Thanks to Veronica Royal for the beautiful work.

You can find her site HERE.  And, right now, she is also on the right side bar of the blog.

Posted in Just Too Cool, Our Solitary Boast | Tagged | 5 Comments

Wherein Fr. Z reads, rants and prays

There is an article today at National Review which has a reaction to Pope Francis’ strange words about the Eucharist.  HERE.   Francis said that, since “there is already unity” among Christians, then we shouldn’t have to “wait for theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist.”

Is that so?  If that is the case, then a fundamental principle we Catholics have embraced since the beginning of the Eucharist is being overthrown.  The idea is this: The reception of the Eucharist in Communion together both reflects unity and creates unity.  However, one of those has logical priority and chronological priority.  Common belief in what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist is a sine qua non for its reception in common with other Catholics.  Once unity in belief is established, then reception continues to deepen the unity.  But the one must precede the other, logically and chronologically for “communion”, in its proper sense, to be authentic.   Admission of those who do not believe and who do not publicly profess what Church teaches about the Eucharist, is to cause a false appearance of communion and an abuse of the sacrament of unity.  In other words, reception of the Eucharist cannot, by itself, create communion.  Grace builds on nature, it doesn’t replace it.  Hence, what Francis said is troubling at best and disturbing at non-best.  I don’t know how to square what he is suggesting.

I’m a convert.  I was Lutheran.  No Communion for me before I converted.  Lutherans don’t believe what Catholics believe about the Eucharist. Period.  No Communion for them, or any other person who doesn’t believe what the Church teaches.  This is not rocket science and every Catholic who has even the slightest clue knows this is true.  I’m not making this up.

In these confused and confusing times, there are some days when we are able to collect a few more threads than usual in our weaving of lifelines upon the thrashing deck of the Barque of Peter.   Today seems to be one of those days.

First, there is issued a “Declaration of Truths”, which I wrote of HERE.

Then, there is a new book translated into English of essays, etc., by Roberto De Mattei.

Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church


In the forward by Cardinal Burke, I read a key phrase:

Only by fidelity to Sacred Tradition can the Bride of Christ, amid the many challenges she faces, chart her course, in accord with the will of Christ, her Bridegroom, her Head and Shepherd at every time and in every place.

Succinct and just plain right.

These are troubled and troubling times.  However, help is showing up for the troubled in the form of sound reflection and the thoughtful, faithful writings that flow from reflection.

De Mattei, right off the bat in his book, attempts to remind the reader that the Church has had some pretty rocky times in the past, and that many of those challenges – which at times seemed existential – were caused by Popes and were handled by the faithful who resisted them with humble fidelity to what the Church has handed down in her Sacred Tradition.   He even has a startling offering entitled “The Sack of Rome (1527): A Merciful Chastisement.”   A key to the events that lead to the truly hideous rampage through Rome of Protestant led troops was the refusal of Clement VII to head his predecessor Adrian VI’s appeal for radical reform.   The shock to the Roman Church’s identity seems to have awakened her so that she initiated a counter-reformation that produced a Council of Trent and defeat of the Turks in 1571 at Lepanto.

Someone like Jordan Peterson points out that we can make huge changes in our lives through small, incremental and compounding changes.  Otherwise we can deal with change through disaster management.   The same goes for the Church.

The situation we are in right now didn’t happen overnight.  The situation we are in right now isn’t going to be fixed overnight.  We shall eventually wake up to the need to make necessary changes.  We can do so incrementally and let compound like interest to our benefit or we can wait for the chastisement which our loving Savior will permit for our correction.   It is Christ’s Church, remember.   And as De Mattei wrote his preface,

Only Jesus Christ can save the Church – no one else – because He alone is her Founder and Head.  Human beings, from the Vicar of Christ down to the last member of the faithful, can either cooperate with or resist the divine grace that comes to them through the influence of the Holy Spirit and impels them to radical fidelity to Christ and His Law.

Remember, grace builds on nature.   In our lives we get through with grace, but grace needs our elbow grease.

I write this on Monday in the Octave of Easter, which in the modern calendar is now also the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.  Mary, at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry said, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Oh, Lord!  Tell us what to do now! Mary, at the end of Christ’s public ministry, stood in perfectly unified resistance to evil by her silent vigil at the Cross.   Oh Lord!  Make us steadfast by your Cross.  Upon Mary the Holy Spirit poured even as it poured out on the Apostles to strengthen them at the birth of the Church on that first Pentecost.   Oh Lord! Strengthen us all in your fire-breath of grace!

Yesterday, on Pentecost, I reminded the flock of one of the effects of the outpouring of the Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation.   Confirmation also strengthens us to make the hard call and then stand firm when we are challenged in our Christian living.  We can call upon the power of this sacrament, which has imparted an indelible character, like the potter’s mark of ownership, into our souls.  Confirmation is an ongoing reality in our lives just as the Pentecost event is an ongoing reality in the Church.

The RUACH hasn’t stopped, though our ears are now deafened to Its roaring course.

As we move forward in these troubled and troubling times, make a conscious choice to call upon that mighty sacrament you received.  Activate it. 

Mind you, the sacrament will be mighty in you when you are in the state of grace.  I repeat, therefore, my perennial admonition.


Then get up off the ground, stand up, stick your chin out and say,

“Almighty God my heavenly Father, You knew me before the creation of the cosmos and You wanted me to come into existence to bring You glory.  Of all the possible universes You could have created, You created this one and You called me into it at exactly the time and place You chose for me so that I could fulfill my part in Your unfathomable plan.  You willed that I have the honor to be baptized into the Church You designed and You maintain for our well-being.  You willed that I receive the Body and Blood of Your Son and the indwelling of Your Spirit.   You willed that I should also be confirmed so that our relationship be even deeper and that I might be an even better instrument of Your will.  I now call upon that mighty Sacrament of Confirmation.  Through it make me strong to bear whatever burdens I must endure in Your service.  Make me wise to recognize accurately and then strong to resist, resolute, whatever is out of harmony with Your will as manifested especially in the beautiful Tradition You have guided in the authoritative, infallible and indefectible Church. Even if that disharmony should come from those whom you have endowed with the grace of Orders and seated even in the highest places of teaching, governing and sanctifying, make me steadfast.  With confidence in Your plan for me I ask this for myself and for the brethren through the Holy Spirit’s Gifts and in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.”


Posted in GO TO CONFESSION, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Chief of the Vichy Knights of Malta forbids the Extraordinary Form

UPDATE 11 June:

___Originally Published on: Jun 10, 2019

In the wake of the hostile takeover some two years ago, the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta has dealt yet another self-inflicted wound to its identity and purpose.

We should now refer to Vichy Malta…. Vichy SMOM.

Today I received a copy of a letter of 10 June 2019 from the Vichy Grand Master of SMOM to all members. Channeling his inner Pétain, he forbids the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at any of their Vichy SMOM events.

Note in the letter, below, that the half-informed scribe who wrote it got the name of Benedict XVI’s document wrong.

Frankly, it would be reasonable were present members to resign, given the antics of the Holy See and SMOM over the last couple of years.

For young people in Columbia Heights, “Vichy” is explained HERE.

Think about the amazing tradition of the Knights of Malta.  I recently read the book by Ernle Bradford: The Great Siege, Malta 1565: Clash of Cultures: Christian Knights Defend Western Civilization Against the Moslem Tide.


I warmly recommend this book.   The present SMOM has turned its proverbial back on their own history and identity.



Posted in Pò sì jiù | Tagged , , , , | 29 Comments

Your Good News

It has been some time since I’ve asked you what’s going on.  Do you have good news?

I can start out with a couple items of lighter fare.

I just learned of a Ham Radio net that operates on weekends in honor of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who was also an operator, SP3RN.  HERE  A priest here in Madison has a 1st class relic of St. Maximilian. Exceedingly rare.  I should borrow it and have it present perhaps for a special event.  That could be interesting.

Next, a priest friend sent this the other day.  It made me audibly laugh.

It’s that precise balance of grim and absurd.  Now… just try to resist it…

As far as good news is concerned, I received word that Gammarelli is shipping stuff on 12 June.  Alas, I’ll be on the road when it arrives.  The shipment should include the chasubles for the new “Morlino Set” (thanks especially to GG for the substantial donation) personalized with the coat-of-arms of yours truly and also Fr. Richard Heilman (who happens to be the priest with the relic of St. Maximilian).

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 12 Comments

Cardinals and Bishops issue a “Declaration of Truths” intended to “aid” the Supreme Pontiff

A small group including Card. Burke and Bp. Schneider have issued a Declaration of Truths comprising some 40 paragraphs over 8-pages under various subheadings, and have also issued an Explanatory note comprising some 1300 words and 2 single spaced pages.

Declaration of Truths

Declaration of Truths Explanatory Note

From the Explanatory Note:

A common voice of the Shepherds and the faithful through a precise declaration of the truths will be without any doubt an efficient means of a fraternal and filial aid for the Supreme Pontiff in the current extraordinary situation of a general doctrinal confusion and disorientation in the life of the Church.

From the Declaration:

By way of contrast… or perhaps underscoring… you might also have a look at Denziger-Bergoglio.

Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Mail from priests, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Octave of Pentecost PODCAzTs

Some 11 years ago, I made a series of PODCAzTs for the Octave of Pentecost.   My technical  abilities have improved a little since then, and I seem to have had a little more energy, but they aren’t bad.

So, these are from 2008… Benedict XVI was Pope.

1. Pentecost Monday: PODCAzT 56: Octaves – Fr. Z rants & Augustine on Pentecost
2. Pentecost Tuesday: PODCAzT 57: John Paul II on the unforgivable sin; Our Lady of Fatima and the vision of Hell
3. Pentecost Wednesday:PODCAzT 58: Ember Days; Chrysostom on St. Matthias; Prayer to the Holy Spirit
4. Pentecost Thursday: PODCAzT 59: Leo the Great on Pentecost fasting; Benedict XVI’s sermon for Pentecost Sunday
5. Pentecost Friday: PODCAzT 60: Pentecost customs; St. Ambrose on the dew of the Holy Spirit
6. Pentecost Saturday: PODCAzT 61: Pope Leo I on a post-Pentecost weekday; Fr. Z rambles not quite aimlessly for a while





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Great concelebration photos during Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage

During my last Rome visit I posted a photo of real concelebration: three priests at the same time saying their Masses at three altars in the nave of a Roman church.

Today I found a great series of pics at Messa in latino, a site in Italian.  There are photos of priests lined up saying Masses at various altars on the Chartres Pilgrimage.

This is for your Just Too Cool file.

Posted in Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Your Pentecost Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point made in the Holy Mass you heard to fulfill your Pentecost Sunday obligation?

Let us know.

I spoke about the ongoing role of the sacrament of confirmation in Christian life.

There were a couple things which thoroughly delighted me today and underscored the daft claims of adults that Latin is to hard, that reverent liturgy is too difficult.

First, at end of Mass and before we sang the Veni Sancte Spiritus (for the indulgence), at the intonation of the Regina Caeli, you could hear a bunch of little, and I mean little, kids piping up.

The next delightful thing was my meeting young “Fulton” again.  Fulton is – nearing maybe 3?… perhaps that’s a little generous, but he’s pushing 28.  Today, Fulton wanted to demonstrate his liturgical skills.  Solemnly swinging his bright blue toy binoculars by their neck strap, he put his hand quite properly on his breast, made a correct genuflection – better than most adults – and then, with a nod of his head, incensed me… in the sense of incense, of course.  I was quite impressed while I was incensed.  He’s got it, this one.  And it seems that he will be named after a holy man raised to the altar’s after all, in the wake of the last court battle.

Alas, I didn’t have my phone with its video.  Rats.

So, Fr. Z kudos to Fulton, who get’s it.

Posted in Fr. Z KUDOS, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged | 12 Comments

CQ CQ CQ Ham Radio Saturday: DXing and Vatican call sighting, and Vatican Radio LATIN news program

I have had some success making DX contacts recently.  Here’s a shot of my log from yesterday.

Sometimes when it is hard to copy the callsign letters, some hams will veer away from the standard NATO alphabet and use other words, even forming a catchy phrase.  I’ve been thinking about what I might use for W9FRZ.. the FRZ being the focus.

“Fast Running Zebra”
“Fiercely Religious Zealot”
“Foul Rotting Zombie”

all come to mind.

Maybe not so much that last one.

And yesterday, using a spotter, I spotted the Vatican callsign.  Someone activated the station, it seems, at the NAC.   HV4NAC the frequency was in the CW range.

I have been desirous of firing that station up myself for a special event when in Rome.  I’ll be in Rome, I think, for most of October.

Also, concerning the Vatican and radio, Vatican Radio will have a program in Latin each week: HERE  This starts TODAY, 8 June.   It will be broadcast and will be available via podcast.

It is, so far, on Channel 5 at 1030 UTC (0530 CDT)

Lastly, my usual information…

  • I’m calling CQ for a good graphic artist who might design an appropriate logo for ZedNet.  Maybe something with… lightning bolts against ones and zeros. I dunno.  I’m not creative that way.
  • Regarding ZedNet and DMR operation, I refer to you THIS.
  • I created a page for the List of YOUR callsigns.  HERE  Chime in or drop me a note if your call doesn’t appear in the list.

It would be great for more of you blog reading Catholic hams to get involved with ZedNet.


I searched on Vatican Radio and found the first installments in Latin.

And in Italian what they are doing…

Posted in Ham Radio, Latin | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

WDTPRS – Vigil of Pentecost (1962MR): from gerbils to lions

Can you believe that today is already the Vigil of Pentecost?


Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut claritatis tuae super nos splendor effulgeat; et lux tuae lucis corda eorum, qui per gratiam tuam renati sunt, Sancti Spiritus illustratione confirmet.

Splendor and claritas are related to the concept of glory and of light. Illustratio is a technical term from ancient rhetoric.  It is a “vivid representation” which, as it were, sheds light on the matter being discussed.  It is an accurate rendering that echoes the reality of the original meant to make an impression, meant to make you see with your mind’s eye what is being described.  How, this word has as its root yet another word for “light”.

Splendor… claritas… lux 2x… illustratio…

Confirmo is “to strengthen, establish”, or “to confirm” in the sense of give assurance, “to assert as true”.  Again, there is a rhetorical or forensic overtone.


Grant, we beseech You, Almighty God, that the brightness of Your glory may shine upon us, and that the light of Your light may, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, strengthen the minds of those who are reborn through Your grace.


Grant, we implore, Almighty God, that the splendor of your glory shine forth upon us; and by the vivid light-shedding of the Holy Spirit may the light of Your light confirm the hearts of those who were reborn by Your grace.

Light-hearted and ponderous.

A couple points to consider.

When Moses emerged from the cloud of the presence of God his face was so bright that it had to be covered with a veil.  It was too bright to look at directly.  God’s presence imparted to Moses something of its glory and Moses was transformed.

How much more will be be transformed when glorious risen in heaven and in the presence of God?

The rhetorical overtones of the vocabulary are probably not a coincidence.  Rhetoric is used to move and to persuade and to edify.  We use the words, the representations of a message we desire to impart to our listeners so that their minds and wills are conformed to the message.

Rhetoric is carried out mainly in the public square, the forum.  It is “forensic“.

The Apostles, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, are changed from men hiding in their upper room to powerful preachers in the public square.

Like gerbils one day.  Like lions the next.

They were “confirmed”.  Their words and lives became an illustratio which pointed to the splendor of the truth.

Have you been confirmed?  Do you consider your confirmed character when you are faced with challenges and hard decisions or temptations?  You have been given a sacrament with effects.  Call upon the graces that the sacrament extends.

Also… GO TO CONFESSION if you are not in the state of grace.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, WDTPRS | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

WDTPRS – Pentecost Sunday: Holy Church’s warp and weft hold true

The Fiftieth Day Feast, Hebrew Shavuot or Greek Pentekosté, for the Jews commemorated the descent of God’s Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, wreathed in fire, fifty days after the Exodus.  Fifty days after Our Lord’s Resurrection, the tenth (perfection) from His Ascension, the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and first disciples to breathe grace-filled life into Christ’s Body, the Church.

The Spirit descended as “tongues of fire”, on the day they memorialized the descent of God like fire on Mount Sinai.  They would also have thought of the vision of the temple in the Book of Enoch, made of tongues of fire.  So, this Pentecost event would have really got the the attention of the multitudes, perhaps a million people, thronging Jerusalem for the feast.

This magnificent Sunday (which in the Roman Rite’s Extraordinary Form retains its Octave along with the special Communicantes and Hanc igitur) has in the Ordinary Form a Collect rooted in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.

Deus, qui sacramento festivitatis hodiernae universam Ecclesiam tuam in omni gente et natione sanctificas, in totam mundi latitudinem Spiritus Sancti dona defunde, et, quod inter ipsa evangelicae praedicationis exordia operata est divina dignatio, nunc quoque per credentium corda perfunde.

I like that defunde and perfunde.  Spiffy.

Cor is “heart” and corda “hearts”.  Sacramentum translates Greek mysterion.  Sacramentum and Latin mysterium are often interchangeable in liturgical texts.  Defundo means “to pour down, pour out”. Perfundo, is “to pour over, moisten, bedew”, and “to imbue, inspire” as well as “to dye”.

Exordium means “the beginning, the warp of a web”. Exordium invokes cloth weaving and selvage, the cloth’s edge, tightly woven so that the web will not fray, fall apart. Exordium, also a technical term in ancient rhetoric, is the beginning of a prepared speech whereby the orator lays out what he is going to do and induces the listeners to attend.  From Pentecost onward Christ the Incarnate Word, although remote by His Ascension, is the present and perfect Orator delivering His saving message to the world through Holy Church. “He that heareth you, heareth me”, Christ told His Apostles with the Seventy (Luke 10:16).  Much hangs on exordia.


O God, who by the sacramental mystery of today’s feast do sanctify Your universal Church in every people and nation, pour down upon the whole breadth of the earth the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and make that which divine favor wrought amidst the very beginnings of the preaching of the Good News to flow now also through believers’ hearts.


God our Father, let the Spirit you sent on your Church to begin the teaching of the gospel continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe.

Really?   REALLY?

Moving on…


O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation, pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and, with the divine grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed, fill now once more the hearts of believers.

Unity and continuity are keys to this Collect.

The Holy Spirit pours spiritual life into the Body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit wove the early Church together through the preaching of the Apostles and their successors and, in the Church today, extends their preaching to our own time.

The Holy Spirit guarantees our unity and continuity across every border and century.

The Holy Spirit imbues and infuses, tints and dyes the fabric of the Church as He flows through it.

When the Holy Spirit’ fire poured over the Apostles, they poured out preaching in public speeches to people from every nation.  I think they were not in the “upper room” but in the Temple, as the Law required Jewish men.  In Greek, oikos can mean “temple” or “house of God”, not just “house”.  That makes greater sense of the immediate reaction they received.

The Holy Spirit, in the preaching of the Apostles, began on Pentecost’s exordium to weave together the Church’s selvage, that strong stable edge of the fabric, through the centuries and down to our own day.

Also, for Shavuot, Pentecost, the Jews at harvest were commanded by God to leave the edges of the fields unharvested for the sake of the poor.

The bonds of man and God symbolically unraveled in the Tower of Babel event, when languages were divided (Gen 11:5-8).

Ever since the Pentecost exordium’s “reweaving”, though here and there and now and then there may be rips and tatters, Holy Church’s warp and weft hold true.

Let our hearts and prayers be raised for unity. Sursum corda!

In our Collect we pray that our corda may be imbued with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Sacrum septenarium!

Let them be closely woven into, knit into Holy Church and even over-sewn with her patterns, not ours.

Let our hearts be bounded about by her saving selvage, dyed in the Spirit’s boundless love.

Let us also pray for the unwitting agents of the Enemy of the soul, hanging onto Holy Church’s edge but in such a way that they tear at and fray the Church’s fabric.

Pardon my homographs, but though they be on the fringe, they endanger necessary threads, precious souls of our brothers and sisters who through their work of unraveling can be lost in the fray.

When we mesh with the Successor of Peter and remain true in the Faith and charity, our holy selvage and our salvation will not be undone.

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“Why should I send somebody in my place to be killed?”

At the site of the Knights of Columbus (bad choice about the uniforms, men, very) magazine, Columbus, there is a seriously moving account of D-Day and the storming of the beaches of Normandy. HERE

A sample…


Then the coxswain said, “DeVita, drop the ramp.” I didn’t hear him because of the roar of the guns and the two big diesel engines in the back of the boat.

Then he yelled louder, “DeVita, drop the ramp!” For a few seconds I froze, because I knew when I dropped that ramp, the machine gun bullets will come into the boat.

And then for the third time he yelled, “G— d— it, DeVita! Drop the f— ramp!” I dropped the ramp and the bullets that were hitting the ramp came into the boat. About 15 or 16 GIs died immediately; many were wounded, some very seriously.

Everybody thinks when you go to die, you pray to God. But when you’re about to die, the only word that comes out of your mouth is, “Mama! Mama!” That’s what they were saying.

I’m in the back of the boat, where the handle was to lower and raise the ramp, so I actually had some protection. The troops who died in front of me were absorbing the bullets that probably would have hit me.

Near me were two stragglers, two young boys. One took a round in the belly, but somehow he survived that day. He was very lucky. The second kid had red hair and was maybe a foot away from me. The machine gun took his helmet and part of his head off. He was not so lucky.

He was screaming, “Help me! Help me!” But I couldn’t help him. He fell at my feet, and I didn’t know what to do. I had no morphine. The only thing I had in my possession was the Lord’s Prayer. I started praying over him, and when he heard the words, it seemed to calm him. Then I reached down and squeezed his hand because I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone. And then he squeezed my hand a little bit, and he died. He was just a little boy. Just a little boy.




When we got to our ship, I had a big decision to make. Do I go back? And I said to myself, “Why should I send somebody in my place to be killed?” So I went back with the second wave.

Altogether, I made 15 trips to the beach.


Posted in Just Too Cool, Our Catholic Identity, Si vis pacem para bellum! | Tagged , | 4 Comments