WDTPRS 11th Sunday after Pentecost: what Christ does for us

With a minor variation this week’s Collect was in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.  It survived the cut to live on in the Novus Ordo Missale Romanum as the Collect on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuae et merita supplicum excedis et vota: effunde super nos misericordiam tuam; ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit, et adicias quod oratio non praesumit.

Our information oozing Lewis & Short Dictionary, says votum means “a solemn promise made to some deity; a vow.”  It is therefore also the thing promised or vowed.  In a more general sense it is a “wish, desire, longing, prayer.”

Supplex is an adjective, used also as a substantive, meaning “humbly begging or entreating; humble, submissive, beseeching, suppliant, supplicant.”  This and other derivative forms are commonly used in our Latin prayers; for example, now and again we see the adverbial form suppliciter.  I never get tired of this word.  As we have seen the L&S says supplex is from sup-plico, “bending the knees, kneeling down”.  The article on supplex in the French etymological dictionary of Latin by Alfred Ernout and Antoine Meillet offers that supplex comes not from plico but from plecto, “to plait, braid, interweave”.  E&M offers also the possibility that it is from placo, “to reconcile; to quiet, soothe, calm, assuage, appease, pacify”.   The former describes the physical attitude of the suppliant.  The latter describes his moral attitude.  The more probable plecto gives us much the same impact as plicoL&S also says plico and plecto are synonyms.  Thus, the imagery I have invoked in the past of the supplicant being bent over or folded in respect to his knees (i.e., kneeling or bent low toward the floor) works well.  Also, in the ancient world it was usual for the supplicant to wrap his arms around (plecto) the knees of the one from whom he was begging his petition.

Let’s keep drilling into supplex for a moment.   In many places during Holy Mass instead of abasing ourselves humbly before the Real Presence of Almighty God, we celebrate ourselves in remembrance of Jesus our non-judgmental buddy.  The concept of humility, inherent in supplex, was systematically expunged from translations of prayers, contemporary music in parishes, and (in churches now lacking kneelers) architecture.

One of the most “Catholic” of prayers, nearly eliminated after Vatican II, underscores an important dimension of healthy spirituality.  In the once familiar Dies irae, the haunting sequence of the Requiem Mass by the Franciscan friar Thomas of Celano (+ c.1270).  Sung amidst the inky vestments symbolizing our death to sin and the things of this world, in the Dies irae we contemplate our inevitable judgment by the Rex tremendae maiestatis… the King of fearful majesty, who is iustus Iudex, our just Judge.  In two of the verses we pray:

“Once the accursed have been confounded,
once they have been delivered to the stinging flames,
call me with the blessed.
(Knees) bent and leaning over (supplex et acclinis),
My heart worn down like ash, I pray:
Have a care for my end.”

The use of supplex in our Catholic prayers conveys an attitude of contrition for our sins which then shapes other more joyful and confident prayers.  This lowly attitude keeps in close view the reality of our sins, God’s promises of forgiveness, the ordinary means of their cleansing (confession) and thus the joyful comfort we have when we surrender to this merciful plan.

God takes our sins away, but only when we beg Him to.

We retain the memory of actual sins, but not their stain.  When we reduce ourselves to the ashes of humility and confess our sins we know those sins are not merely covered over; they are washed away clean.  Before modern times, soaps were made partly from ashes.  The Dies irae is not forbidden in Masses with the Novus Ordo, it simply is no longer obligatory.  The Church’s documentation on the use of sacred music establishes that suitable (i.e., truly sacred and truly artistic) pieces can be substituted into the Mass for the proper purpose and occasion.   Nothing is more suitable for Catholic piety than the use of the Dies irae.


Almighty and everlasting God, who in the abundance of Your goodness surpass both the merits and the prayerful vows of suppliants, pour forth Your mercy upon us, so that You set aside those things which our conscience fears, and apply what our prayer dares not.

That last line of the Collect is very consoling: adicias quod oratio non praesumit…add that which prayer does not dare… or rather … anticipate.  Praesumo also means “foresee” or do something “in advance”.  With our limited powers of discernment we cannot see or pray about every contingency we must face in life, but God knows them all.  He can mitigate our fears, both about the sins we remember as well as the things we worry over and can only guess at.

We should glance at what must be used on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Novus Ordo.  First, the bad old days.

your love for us
surpasses all our hopes and desires.
Forgive our failings,
keep us in your peace
and lead us in the way of salvation

I actually had to double-check to make sure I matched the correct Sunday in the respective editions of the Missal.


Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.

Try reading these versions, my literal version and the old ICEL’s, bit by bit, alternately: “Almighty and everlasting God” becomes “Father”; “abundance of Your goodness” is reduced to the nebulous ICEL catch-all “love”;  “the merits and the prayerful vows of suppliants” is banalized into “our hopes and desires”; “pour forth Your mercy upon us” becomes “Forgive our failings” (not even sins! … they’re just boo boos); “those things which our conscience fears” (our sins, the everlasting punishment of hell and having offended God) is render down to the amorphous “keep us in your peace”; and “what our prayer dares not” veers away from the misery of our true state into “lead us in the way of salvation”.

Some Collects we have encountered seem to refer to the Lord’s Prayer.  Perhaps this one does as well.  First, we have the word oratio.  In Latin the Lord’s Prayer is oratio dominica where dominica is an adjective, “lordly; of or pertaining to the Lord.”  In our Collect the “prayer”, oratio, is grammatically the subject of that last verb adicio.  After the Eucharistic Prayer the priest introduces the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer saying “audemus dicere…. we dare to say….” On our own we could never presume or dare to raise any petitions to the Father if the Son had not already enjoined them on us, given us permission, nay command, and made us members of His own mystical Person as coheirs.   A noble and even courtly style of speech our prayer helps us avoid being presumptuous.  The banal, humility-stripped style of the obsolete ICEL versions? Not so much.

In today’s Collect we must make a tricky translation choice.  In dimitto (used also in the Lord’s Prayer) we have “to send away; separate” and thus logically “to forgive”.  The verb ad(j)icio is “place a thing near; add as an increase, apply”.  It is hard to get the impact of this “spatial imagery” into English without circumlocutions.  We want to have sins and their lethal effects separated far away from us, but we want God’s favors and promises to stick to us.

Our Latin Collect gives us a model for an attitude of prayer.  We see the figure of one who is bowed down, folded, knees bent (supplex, – plico).  This suppliant is frightened by what the just Judge will apply to him because of the sins which bother his conscience.  This lowly beggar prays and prays, entwining (- plecto) his arms about the knees of his Lord.  He petitions the Almighty Father, merciful and good, to allay his fears by totally removing his damning sins and then supply him with whatever he dares not ask or does not even know he ought to beg for (non praesumit).  He simultaneously has the humility of the kneeling suppliant but also the boldness of sonship.  He can dare what is beyond his own ability because God the Father Himself made him His son through a mysterious adoption.  He is emboldened to ask many things of the Father with faith and confidence (cf. Mark 11:24 and 9:23).

The Gospel of Luke recounts (cf. ch. 11 and 18) three parables of Jesus about persistent, even audacious, prayer of petition.  When we pray with the right attitude, particularly during Holy Mass before the altar of sacrifice, turned in hope to the liturgical East with our mediator the priest, Christ makes up for what we are cannot do.  He takes our hearts, minds, voices, gestures and makes them his own so they may be raised to the merciful Father.

St. Augustine (+430) says that Jesus

“prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God.  Therefore, let us acknowledge our voice in Him and His in us” (en Ps 85, 1).

Holy Mass is all about what Christ does for us.

Mass is a sacred action in which God is the principal actor.  By our baptism we participate actively in His sacred action.  Christ is the Head, we the Body.  He takes our voices and makes them His own.  Our actions become His.  We must therefore never usurp the liturgy, change it around to suit our tastes.  With Christ’s own authority Holy Church gives us the Mass. She alone provides the proper prayers and rubrics.

When we pray as Holy Church directs, bending our will to hers, our earthly voices ring authentically with the celestial, and ecclesial, voice of the Risen Christ.

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How Churches (actually “ecclesial communities”) commit suicide

My friend Fr. Martin Fox of the blog Bonfire of the Vanities has a great post.

‘Gay marriage’ is church suicide

Give into the Zeitgeist? Not a plan of success:

Episcopal Church: -18% (2002-2012) [that "-" means "minus", as in "smaller by]“
United Church of Christ: -20% (2005-2012)
Presbyterian (USA): -22% (2006-2012)
Evangelical Lutheran -12% (2009-2012)

Of course, the declines are likely explained by many other factors; many, if not all, these denominations were already on a downward trajectory, as their liberalizing trends didn’t begin with endorsing a redefinition of marriage.

What’s more, Catholics and others committed to an orthodox understanding of morality and marriage in particular should not take comfort too easily. When our Lord walked the earth, people walked away from him because of things he taught, and in the end, the crowd chanted “crucify him” instead of “my Lord and my God.” So we should not expect to be popular when we offer the Lord’s message.

But embracing an “evolution” of marriage didn’t help, and almost certainly accelerated the decline.


There is a little bit more over there, references you will find helpful. So… go look already!

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WDTPRS 21st Ordinary Sunday: the smoke of Satan v. invisible love

Let’s look at the Collect for the upcoming 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time:

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis, da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis, ut, inter mundanas varietates, ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.

A master crafted this prayer.  In the 1962 Missale Romanum we use it on the 4th Sunday after Easter. It is also in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.  Listen to those “eee”s produced by the Latin “i”. Savor those parallels.

Varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”  It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy.”  I like “vicissitude”.  The adjective mundanus is “of or belonging to the world”.


O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command, to desire that which You promise, so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.


O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.

Let us revisit that id…quod. We can accurately say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but that strikes me as vague.  Can we be more concrete and say “love the thing you command… desire the thing you promise”?

We are called to love and desire God’s will in concrete situations, in the details of life, especially when those details are little to our liking.  We must love God in this beggar, this annoying creep, not in beggars and creeps in general.  We must love Him in this act of fasting, this basket of laundry, this ICEL translation. I said it was a challenge!  We must not reduce God’s will to an abstraction or an ideal. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven”… or so it has been said.

Lest we forget why we needed new translation….


Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart.

Good riddance!  “Values”.  Very slippery.  Typical of the obsolete translation.

To my ear, “values” has a shifting, subjective starting point. In 1995 Gertude Himmelfarb wrote in The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values that “it was not until the present century that morality became so thoroughly relativized that virtues ceased to be ‘virtues’ and became ‘values.’”

In this post-Christian, post-modern world, “values” seems to indicate little more than our own self-projection.

John Paul II taught about “values”, but in contradiction to the way “values” are commonly understood today.  For example, we read in Evangelium vitae 71 (emphasis added):

“It is urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority, and no state can ever create, modify, or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect, and promote.”

In his 1985 letter to young people Dilecti amici 4, John Paul II taught:

“Only God is the ultimate basis of all values…. in Him and Him alone all values have their first source and final completion… Without Him – without the reference to God – the whole world of created values remains as it were suspended in an absolute vacuum.”

Benedict XVI has spoken about the threats we face from the “dictatorship of relativism”, from the reduction of the supernatural to the natural, from caving in to “the world”.

Christ warned His Apostles about “the world”, saying said: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).  He spoke about this world’s “prince” (John 12:31; 14:30 16:11).  St Paul wrote: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

If what “the world” offers gets priority over what God offers the world through His Holy Church, we produce the situation Paul VI described on 29 June 1972, the ninth anniversary of his coronation:

“Through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God.”

Our Collect today asks God to grant that His will be the basis of our “values” in concrete terms, not in mere good intentions or this world’s snares.

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NYC – What’s up at Our Saviour Church where Fr. Rutler used to be pastor?

I have received word that some demolition is going on at the church where Fr. George Rutler used to be pastor, Our Saviour.

As you may know, Fr. Rutler was – in a move that surprised many – transferred not too long ago from Our Saviour on Park Avenue to St. Michael’s in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and was also made administrator of Holy Innocents in the Garment District.

In any event, I am told that the new pastor at Our Saviour, Fr. Robbins, removing iconic artwork from the sanctuary.

I was told at one point that the altar rail was slated for demolition.  However, as one person clarified for me, the workman only cleaned it.  When people had seen workmen concerning themselves with the rail they protested to the Archdiocese. Fr. Robbins thereafter said that it was not ever his intention for it to be removed.  Or so it goes.

This is what Our Savior looked like before:

And this is what it looks like today… I really do mean today, literally:

Look.  I understand that each pastor of a parish wants to be able to make adjustments, even improvements.  But I don’t get this.

Is it that he wants to restore the church to what it looked like before the Eastern style art was introduced?  I suppose there is some sense in that sort of project, returning a building to the original intent.  The artwork, added by Fr. Rutler, can only have been in place for about a dozen years, max, since that was the length of his term.  I doubt that that is what is going on here.

I suspect this is ideological, and not restoration at all.

It looks like a modern example of iconoclasm.

If the iconic work that frames the sanctuary has been effaced, how long can the work around the triumphal arch and in the tympanum of the apse survive?

What’s going on there?  Is this “Get Rutler!” time in NYC?  Deface Rutler’s work at Our Saviour? Slate St. Michael’s and Holy Innocents for closure a year after he arrives?  By next year he’ll be pastor of a cardboard box over a grate near the Hudson.


More about the artist who painted the icons, Ken Woo.  HERE He seems to be pretty well known.

It would be nice to see some photos of the place from the 1950′s when it was built, and then into the 60′s, 70′s etc. to see the changes.

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Just Too Cool: The Glory

For your “Just Too Cool” file, I direct your attention to Astronomy Pic of the Day and a viewing of …

… The Spectre of Veszprem. 

This truly is just too cool!

Want an explanation?  Of course you do.

This is a phenomenon called The Glory or Heiligenschein or the Specter of the Brocken!

Want more? Go HERE

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Question for readers: TLM and NO readings

Do any of you know of a site where someone has compared, side by side, the readings or “pericopes” for both the Extraordinary and the Ordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, for the whole liturgical year?

That is to say, I am wondering if there is a chart somewhere where you can see the correspondence of the readings.  As in, the pericope Matthew 16:13-20 appears on the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A as well as (more or less the same) appears in the 1962 Missale Romanum on Sts. Peter and Paul.

I found the Scripture Index of Gospel Readings, 1962 Missale Romanum as well as the Scriptural Index of Chants and Readings in the Missale Romanum(1962), but that seems to require, to download, a subscription that I don’t have.  (Anyone?)

CLARIFICATION:  It would be good at least to have this side by side chart of correspondence for SUNDAYS at least.  That would be the most useful.

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VIDEO: The Chapel Veil

A nice young lady sent me a note and link to a video.

Dear Fr. Z,

I am entering my sophomore year at Christendom College, and I recently made an 8 minute video on the chapel veil to explain why women wear it and to encourage women to wear it. I think you would appreciate the content and the quality. If you like it, perhaps you can share it with the women who read your blog.

If you can, I would appreciate any feedback.

I can pretty much guarantee some feedback.


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First, help each other out with your prayers:



STUDENTS, PARENTS: Text Books, Back To School, and You


I am grateful to those of you who have been using my amazon search box and links that I post, whether in these USA or in the UK.  As a matter of fact, on the UK side of the pond, the revenue from those links is handled a little differently.  The credit my account with “gift card” amounts, which expire.  Thus, recently, I was able to send my friend Fr. Tim Finigan a couple items from his own wish list, and this on the eve of his having to leave his home and parish of some 17 years.  So, I thank you for helping me to brighten a fellow priests day.

Also, recently, I had a book drive project for seminarians of the Diocese of Madison.  HERE  During the annual gathering of the all the seminarians with Bp. Morlino (aka The Extraordinary Ordinary) I gave them a couple talks about the Extraordinary Form and, during discussion, found that some were lacking Joseph Ratzingers Spirit of the Liturgy.  I posted a request for a number of that book, through my own wish list, and BAMMO! the books were purchased for the guys within an hour.  So, I posted for a few more books and KABLAM! you did it again.  So, we were able to distribute some great books to these guys. THANKS TO YOU!

I hope you are all using the Mystic Monk Coffee link on the side bar.  You neeeeeeed coffeeeeee!  Buy coffee and help the Carmelites in Wyoming build their new digs.  They now have – I am not making this up - CHOCOLATE MINT coffee.  They also have, right now, their SUMMER BLEND.  I haven’t tried it, but I’ll bet that “It’s swell!”

Also, because I am concerned about your online security and identity theft, you might consider looking into LifeLock.  I have an affiliate program with them now.  I use it.  It is a good line of defense.  Be alert and be smart.

At last, some of you have sent items from my wish list, both the stuff list and the Kindle book list.  Thanks!  I have tried to include your initials on the sidebar along with those of people whose regular monthly donations (by subscription) and ad hoc donations come in.  It is my duty and pleasure to pray for my benefactors, which is what I consider all of you to be whether the donation is large or small, whether the item is a bigger purchase or less so.  Each and everything that arrives is a boost and encouragement and a real concrete help.  Thus, many and sincere thanks.  Also thanks to those who have, for one reason dropped out of the subscription donations and those new people who have signed up!

Lastly, I also appreciate email notes.  Here is one that came recently from a reader:

I’m an upcoming senior at Rutgers University and I would like to thank you for being my first exposure to the Extraordinary Form. I stumbled upon your blog last year while trying to find ways to be an effective CCD teacher and ever since then, my eyes have been opened! I’m an active member of my parish (lector, cantor, CCD teacher) but at the same time, I bring my friends and classmates to an EF at least once a month and they all love the reverence in it and we always learn something new and amazing each time. Basically, I just would like to thank you for being an awesome source of knowledge regarding the faith.

This is how it is done.  We each influence the sphere we have been placed in.  Thanks for passing along what you have found!

I am convinced, with Benedict XVI, that the crisis of identity in the Church is a crisis, first and foremost, of our sacred worship, our liturgy.  We have to revitalize our worship, in order to straighten out and revitalize every other aspect of our Catholic lives and also to present a coherent identity to the world.  The use of the Extraordinary Form will help us to do this.

Thank you to everyone who reads and engages.

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Friday Fun Moment: One Hit Wonders (and a digression)

I saw something in a TV segment while doing some chores in the Steam Pipe Distribution Center about the show hosts’ favorite “One Hit Wonders”.

You know what those are, right?  Some artist has one big hit and is virtually never heard from again.

So… what are yours?

Off the top of my head, I can think of…

And as a runner up, just because I heard it recently when I watched Kung Fu Panda:

Digression on Kung Fu Fighting.  I was once asked me via email what comic book character I most identified with.

Well… since my favorite as a kid was Superman, I’d have to say Superman.  After all, your Earth’s Yellow Sun has been pretty good to me.  But I can also absolve and consecrate. Take THAT, Superman!

That said, even though I didn’t grow up on the Marvel side of things – for the world is divided into Marvel people and DC people – I’d have to go with a combination of Wolverine and Po the Panda.

Wolverine, because someone quipped about me that I am the best at what I do, but what I do sometimes isn’t very nice.  Po, because I need to lose weight, I did Karate for years, I wear black and white, I have a thing for good Chinese food, I screw up massively all the time, the people I beat up aren’t really hurt, and, in the end, things seem to work out okay.

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UPDATED: Of “rubber bullets”

ORIGINAL: Aug 19, 2014 @ 12:02

Something both funny and serious at the same time.

A HuffPo reporter at Ferguson, MO spotted some foam earplugs on the ground and thought they might be rubber bullets.  I think he was probably eager to report how the violent police officers using excessive force on the crowds were making matters worse.  That’s my guess, at least.  This was a HuffPo guy, after all.  To be fair, he did ask for a confirmation.   But, yes, I think his eagerness lead him astray.

Anyway, the Twittersphere went after this poor guy with some benign mocking.  You can find tweets HERE   Some of them are pretty funny, if you want a chuckle.

At the same time, in a more serious vein, I am amazed at how anti-gun folks (yes, I am making an assumption that the HuffPo guy is probably not on board with the 2nd Amendment… I hope I am wrong) are so ignorant about gun-issues.  That’s a problem, especially when they are reporters.

Moreover, you don’t have to be into guns to know what earplugs are. Right?

A sample of the Twitter reaction.  More HERE

UPDATE 22 August:

As a follow up, the legendary Jerry Miculek explores whether or not ear plugs can be fired as “rubber bullets”.  He even shows a real rubber bullet.  There is some good slow motion video.


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