When the priest confessor doesn’t use the proper Form of Absolution. Wherein Fr. Z advises.

Everyone should go to confession regularly.

That said, sometimes it can happen that you will have a less than edifying experience of the priest confessor.  Do not fret!

This even happened to me, recently.  While out on the road, I stopped at a parish where I knew confessions were scheduled.  The priest in the confessional was a missionary from India.  As you know, in these USA during the summer we have many visiting priests going about making mission appeals.

This priest did not say the proper form of absolution.  Instead, he gave me a blessing.  Three times I asked for absolution.  I even said the words for him.  He eventually came through.

Will that discourage me from going to confession?  Not a whit.   Of course, as a priest, I can bring a bit more ammo to the moment, if you get my drift.  I am not easily shaken.

Still, I informed the pastor of the parish (standing in the church’s entry way) about my experience and left the situation in his hands.  The priest in the confessional, of course, cannot in any way speak about what happened behind that closed door, but I had – nevertheless – to inform the pastor of the parish about what happened in his confessional.

The matter and form of sacraments is no small matter.  Invalid matter or form is serious.  That is what prompts this post.

What happened to me on Saturday is not an isolated experience.  I know that priests can back me up on this.  As a matter of fact, some time back a priest reader wrote in once with this experience, in response to one of my ASK FATHER posts:

I have gone to Confession in [different Western languages] to Indian priests and I have experienced on many – the majority – of occasions that they do not say the words of absolution.  Instead there is often a sort of flowery prayer ending with the words “and so Jesus forgives you” or “God forgives you.”  [I didn't even get that.  I got a blessing.]

I think the problem is often that they do not know the formula.  If corrected, it becomes clear that they do not know the form.  [Yep.] I’ve tried telling it to them, but that doesn’t go over to well.

A fair number of the Indian priests serving in the U.S. are not even of the Latin rite, they’re Syro-Malabar – some have not celebrated a Roman Mass before coming here, thus they import from what they know, or they make it up as they go along.

It has come to the point that I avoid going to Indian priests for confession.  Also, some priests may not know the form in English or Latin – perhaps a nice gift for parishes/priests would be a nicely framed card for the confessional with the necessary prayers.

Yes, dear readers, this can happen.  We live in a fallen world and not every priest out there, over the last few decades, has been perfectly trained up.  Thus, we learn not to freak out.

Fathers, if you are pastors of parishes, parish priests, and you have a missionary priest visiting, and you put him to work hearing confessions, I suggest that you mention that in your parish, all priests use exactly the form of absolution which the Church has approved. You should have a printed card in the confessional with the approved formula in Latin and in English (and perhaps in Spanish, etc.).  Perhaps diocesan bishops might think about directing that parish priests remind visiting priests from outside the diocese that, ’round these parts we say the black words and do the red stuff.

“But Father! But Father!”, you might be thinking, “isn’t this sort of… insulting?  Assuming that priests don’t know the form of absolution?  Telling them something so fundamental?”

We can’t assume that all visiting priests are going to get it right.  You just can’t.  Better safe than sorry.

Lay people, if this happens to you, ask the priest – politely – to say the words of absolution.  Keep in mind that older priests will be saying the form of absolution while you are reciting your Act of Contrition.  In most cases, they will wait with the actual form, “I absolve you…” when you have finished.  But, sometimes, they don’t.  In that case, if you don’t hear the priest say “I absolve you…” you can – politely – ask if the priest gave you absolution.  You might add that you didn’t hear it.  If you get the sense that the priest simply did not just at any time the correct form, do not lose your cool.  Sometimes a priest will send signals that he is a bit dodgy or unsure.  For example, if he tells you something that is clearly a mortal sin is not a sin, or if he subtly (or not) runs you down for a reciting “laundry list”, or even if he doesn’t give a penance or the penance is something like “think nice thoughts about someone”, you may be in the presence of a guy who has either made the choice that he knows better than the Church or he has not been well-trained.  Again, don’t lose your cool.  Inform the pastor – politely.  If the priest is the pastor, you may have to inform the diocesan bishop.  Did I mention don’t lose your cool? Be polite?  It is nearly unimaginable that the priest is straying from what ought to be done out of malice or ill intent.

If you are pretty sure that you were not absolved, freak thou thyself not out.  If there is another priest available, tell him what happened, make your confession, get absolved, and go on your way whistling a happy tune (after leaving the church, of course).  Otherwise, at your next opportunity, make your confession.

Sacraments have matter and form.  The matter of the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) is the telling of the sins.  The form is the absolution spoken by the validly ordained priest who has faculties.  If the priest does not say a valid form of absolution, then the Sacrament of Penance has not been celebrated.  Some other sort of grace-filled moment might have taken place, but it won’t have been the Sacrament of Penance.

Finally, in the document Redemptionis Sacramentum we read at the end:

Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist [all sacraments, actually] will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

I would add to this that, in a parish, start with the pastor – if feasible – and work your way up.

And always always always say a prayer for any priest who might be doing something a little dodgy.

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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments

“the very essence of our republic and our reason are being overturned in the public order”

It is interesting that Ameriʞa Magazine would feature something by or about Fr. James Schall, SJ.   Perhaps this is Jesuit solidarity?  Fr. Schall, a political philosopher, is retiring from his long and distinguished teaching career at Georgetown. Fr. Z kudos to him.

Ameriʞa interviewed Fr. Schall in advance of the release of his new book, a collection of essays entitled The Classical Moment: Selected Essays on Knowledge and Its Pleasures.  (Alas!  No Kindle version yet!)

The final paragraph of the interview caught my eye.

We live in a time in which the very essence of our republic and our reason are being overturned in the public order. They are replaced by the voluntarism of which Pope Benedict spoke so clearly. All turmoil in the public order begins in the hearts and minds of the dons, clerical and academic. My last thoughts are those of Chesterton concluding Heretics in 1905, that in the end, the only ones left to uphold reason in the modern world will be the believers. We are seeing this happen before our very eyes, but few notice because few want to know.

Posted in Fr. Z KUDOS, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Bp. Matano (D. Rochester) ends decades illicit practice of “lay preaching”

For your Brick by Brick file.

From the Democrat and Chronicle:

Catholic diocese upends custom on homilies

For the better part of 40 years in churches across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, clergy ceded the floor to laypeople for the delivery of the homily — the sermon that follows the reading of the Gospel at Mass.

The practice, which dated to the mid-1970s and was simultaneously derided by the faithful for running afoul of church law and praised for its inclusiveness, has come to an end.

In an extensive interview, Bishop Salvatore Matano said he has been confronting the issue on a case-by-case basis since his installation in January and is now drafting guidelines to clarify that homilies are reserved for ordained priests and deacons, as prescribed by canon law.

“It is not a policy shift as regards to the universal law of the church,” Matano said. “I am trying to help the faithful understand what is the universal law of the church and how important it is that in the celebration of Mass, we do what the church asks of us.”

The reversal is perhaps the starkest example yet of the contrasting stewardship of Matano with his predecessor, Bishop Matthew Clark, under whom the diocese earned a reputation as among the most liberal in the country.

Although laypeople were giving the homily before Clark’s time as bishop, it was during his tenure from 1979 to 2012 that such preaching blossomed into a regular occurrence in multiple churches.

Matano called the ubiquity of the practice “a bit perplexing” and attributed it to a misinterpretation of canon law.

“In the life of the church today, there are many interpretations that people might give to a particular ruling with no malintent present, but that do need clarification,” Matano said.

Many in the church have welcomed the shift as a long-awaited return to doctrine. Indeed, Matano said he began addressing the matter in response to complaints from parishioners.

But it also has been received with disappointment, particularly among women, who made up the majority of lay homilists and viewed the practice as a way to play a more active role in their faith.


Read the rest there.

This is excellent. Fr. Z Kudos to Bp. Matano.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Fr. Z KUDOS, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , , , | 42 Comments

Divide et impera: KGB influence on Middle East violence


As I watch the nasty business with the Gaza Strip, I continue my reading of Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism.  It was written by the former head of Romanian intelligence together with a law professor who is an expert on evidence (and on the smearing of the reputation of Pius XII). (UK link HERE)

Here is an excerpt, which pertains to what is happening in the Middle East right now:

By 1972, Andropov’s disinformation machinery was working around the clock to persuade the Islamic world that Israel and the United States intended to transform the rest of the world into a Zionist fiefdom. According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a petri dish in which the KGB community could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep. The message was simple: The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism, and victimology. Andropov pontificated that “we” should make them feel sick to their stomachs just thinking about that “Council of the Elders of Zion” (meaning the US Congress), the aim of which was to have the Jews take over the world. We should whip up their illiterate, oppressed mobs to a fever pitch. Terrorism and violence against Israel and America would flow naturally from the Muslims’ anti-Semitic fervor, Andropov explained. The Kremlin has always been a strong advocate of divide et impera. The split between the Judeo and the Christian worlds generated by the framing of Pius XII proved that this archaic strategy of divide and conquer worked in modern times as well. In 1972, Andropov launched Operation “SIG” (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, Zionist Governments). This was the code name for a “socialist division of labor” aimed at turning the Islamic world into an “explosive” enemy of the United States. The Romanian DIE’s [Romanian intelligence agency] sphere of influence for the operation embraced Libya, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, where Romania was involved in building hospitals, schools, and roads and maintained large colonies of builders, doctors, and teachers. The DIE’s task was to scour Romania for trusted Communist Party activists belonging to Islamic ethnic groups, train them in dezinformatsiya and terrorist operations , and infiltrate them into its target countries. They would be charged with the task of implanting a rabid , demented hatred for American Zionism by manipulating the ancestral abhorrence for Jews felt by many people in that part of the world. Before I left Romania for good, in 1978, the DIE had sent about five hundred undercover agents to its Islamic target countries— and, as I later learned, it continued to send such agents until the Soviet bloc collapsed, in 1989. Most of them were engineers, medical doctors, teachers, and art instructors. According to a rough estimate received from Moscow, by 1978 the Soviet bloc intelligence community had sent some four thousand such agents of influence into the Islamic world. The assumption was that about 70– 75 percent of those assets would end up being really useful. In 1972 , the DIE received from the KGB an Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion along with “documentary” material, also in Arabic, “proving” that the United States was a Zionist country whose aim was to transform the Islamic world into a Jewish fiefdom. The DIE was ordered to “discreetly” disseminate both “documents” within its targeted Islamic countries. During my later years in Romania, every month the DIE disseminated thousands of copies throughout its Islamic sphere of influence. In the meetings I had with my counterparts in the Hungarian and Bulgarian services, with whom I enjoyed particularly close relations at that time, I learned that they were also sending such influence agents into their own Islamic spheres of influence. (Kindle pp 256-257)

And then there is this:

On December 31, 2000 , President Putin, celebrating his first anniversary as president, announced that Russia had a new national anthem. In fact, the law signed by Putin restored the melody of Stalin’s national anthem, which had been prohibited after the collapse of the Soviet Union . Those original lyrics, written by the poet Sergey Mikhalkov, praised Stalin, Lenin, the Communist Party, and the “unbreakable” Soviet Union. At Khrushchev’s request, Mikhalkov wrote a second version of the lyrics, removing Stalin’s name, after his memory had become politically unpalatable. Mikhalkov has now again rewritten his lyrics, this time to satisfy Putin. Yelena Bonner, the widow of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrey Sakharov, denounced Putin’s actions in this matter as a “profanation of history.” Putin disagreed , explaining: “We have overcome the differences between the past and the present.” (p 267)

Posted in The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

What Did the Imam Really Say? Revisited

I read at Il Giornale today that the prayer read by the Imam in the Vatican Gardens was indeed from the Sura 2, wherein Allah is asked to crush infidels (that’s us) and let Islam triumph over the whole world (that’s us, too). Vatican Radio, at the time, tried to give this an allegorical spin. It didn’t work very well.  At a certain point it seems they also tried to edit out the troubling passage.

Suffice to say that an Imam sang: “grant us victory over the heathen/disbelieving/infidel” (Sura 2: 286) in the Vatican Gardens, in front of the Pope, during an “ecumenical” gathering for peace.

I wrote about this, when it happened, in my entry What Did the Imam Really Say? I posted video there and the comments are interesting (especially HERE).

My fast translation:

He wasn’t in a mosque, but in the Vatican Gardens and, a few meters away from him, there was also Pope Francis. It’s 8 June, Pentecost Sunday. In the Vatican, at prayer for peace in the Midde East, there are, with the Pontiff, Abu Mazen and Shimon Peres. But the Sure II read by the Imam wasn’t agreed on ahead of time. This is about a breach in protcol that many have taken as an offense.

The incident, reported by Andrea Morigi in Libero, was for a long time swept under the carpet. The text read by the Palestinian Sunni Imam was not agreed upon ahead of time and the harsh tones about infidels (miscredenti) were not in line with the spirit of the day which had been proposed by Bergoglio during his visit in the Holy Land. “At that moment,” Morigi recounts, “the dignitaries of the three monotheistic religions didn’t bat an eye. Those who knew Arabic pretended not to notice anything, even if the videos of the event show them decidedly embarrassed.” Pope Francis, however, wasn’t in a position to take in the importance of what happened. On an official level, the breach in protocol was immediately minimized: Fr Bernd Hagenkord, the Jesuit head of the German section of Vatican Radio, tried to give another reading of Sura II from the Koran. It’s a pity that the passage read by the Imam was immediately excised by Vatican Radio itself.


Posted in Linking Back, Pope Francis, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

Fishwrap: less than enthusiastic about new ITC document on “sensus fidei”.

Over at Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter), knickers are in twists over the recently issued document from the International Theological Commission, “‘Sensus Fidei’ in the Life of the Church“.

As you will recall, at Fishwrap, “sensus fidei“, closely related to “sentire cum Ecclesia“, means majority sentiment, deduced through an intricate algorithm involving feelings, polls, and the interpreters own liberal notions, which then can trump any divinely revealed teaching, all dogma (aka “church policy”), and, especially, “rules”, which are bad – unless liberals are making them, of course.

The Fishwrap writer, Robert McClory, (whose brief Fishwrap bio says: professor emeritus of journalism at Northwestern University, and has contributed to NCR since 1974. He is the author of Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice and As It Was in the Beginning: The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church), offers his insights into the deficiencies of the new ITC doc.  Here is a sample (my emphases and comments:

At one point, the writers consider the most important dispositions a Catholic needs for authentic participations [sic] in the sensus fidei (sense of the faith). “No single one can be discussed in an isolated manner; its relationship to each and all of the others has to be taken into account,” they write.

“The first and most fundamental is … active participation in the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, regular reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, discernment and exercise of gifts and charisms received from the Holy Spirit … There are countless ways in which such participation may occur, but what is common in all cases is an active solidarity with the Church.”

Now, this sounds pretty rigid. [Oh dear oh dear!  Can you imagine?  For someone to have a true "sense of the faith" they should be able to receive Communion, having gone to ... CONFESSION?!?  What's the world coming to?  But I like this next bit...] If taken literally, [HA! What the ITC really meant to say, was....] it could eliminate from authentic participation in the sense of the faith that overwhelming mass of Catholics who receive reconciliation irregularly. [Ummm... yep.] But I hope that is not the intent of the writers, and I do not think the writers intend to cut off those who attend Mass on a less-than-weekly basis. [No, that's right.  Why would we call into question the perspective of those who get up on Sunday, yawn, stretch, and then go about their business without even having remembered Mass?  Or who remember and then choose not to go?  Or who have lived outside the state of grace for years?] Might Catholics who belong to intentional eucharistic communities [? More in this seriously messed up notion: HERE] or small faith groups [?] qualify as actively participating in the Eucharist? [No.] I think so, [Imagine my shock.] especially if they cannot tolerate abysmal liturgy, awful preaching or closed attitudes at the Catholic parish or parishes available to them. ["closed attitudes"... code for "No, you can't do whatever the hell you want with your genitals."] As the document notes, what is most needed is “an active solidarity with the Church” — that is, with the whole church. [Which includes, by the way, the HIERARCHY.]

And there is this:

The fourth disposition a faithful Catholic needs is “attentiveness to the magisterium of the Church, and a willingness to listen to the teaching of the pastors of the Church, as an act of freedom.” [Because there is no true "freedom" in the Church, properly understood, without willingness to "listen" (as a first step) to the Magisterium.  The next step would be.... ?] The document does not say immediate obedience is required, though the “magisterium is rooted in the mission of Jesus.” [Even the writer figured out that the next step is obedience.  But... hey!... why not defer it for a while?] Earlier in the document, the writers state that the sense of faith “enables individual believers to perceive any disharmony, incoherence, or contradiction between a teaching or practice and the authentic Christian faith … Alerted by their sensus fidei, individual believers may deny assent even to the teaching of legitimate pastors if they do not recognise in that teaching the voice of Christ.” [The point is that the faithful need, first, to know what the Church teaches.  Then they need to submit to what the Church teaches.  Then, if the hear something that is out of synch with the Church's authentic teaching, then they can play their proper role.] The term “legitimate pastors” obviously includes priests, bishops and popes. [It is probably good that the writer included that last bit, since it wouldn't be apparent to most readers of NSR.]

Finally, there’s this:

[T]he writers declare: “The magisterium also judges with authority whether opinions which are present among the people of God and which may seem to be the sensus fidelium, actually correspond to the truth of the Tradition received from the Apostles. … Thus, judgement regarding the authenticity of the sensus fidelium belongs ultimately not to the faithful themselves nor to theology but to the magisterium.”

You can imagine how well that part went down.

You can read the ITC document yourselves.  It is good to have a bit more clarity about sensus fidei and sentire cum Ecclesia.  It could have been better, but it is a start.  But, if the Fishwrappers are unsettled by it, it is probably a sound piece of work.

Finally, may I remind you all of Lumen gentium (that’s from the -cue celestial music – Second Vatican Council) 12?

The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name. The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (Augustine, De Praed. Sanct. 14.27: PL 44.980) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.

In other words, you can’t make it up.  You can’t, in the name of “being prophetic”, pick this and refuse that.  You can’t, and be Catholic, think apart from or over and against the bishops and Holy Father.  An appeal to “sensus fidei” apart from them is a sham.

Posted in Liberals, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Ecumenical consequences of C of E decision on women bishops (aka “wyshyps”)

On 5 June 2006, Walter Card. Kasper, then-President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke to the Church of England members gathered for the Lambeth Conference.  They were discussing, and were going to vote on, women bishops [aka wyshyps].  HERE

What did Kasper say?

“What follows from these conclusions and questions? What follows for the future of our ecumenical dialogue? One thing is certain: The Catholic Church will not break off the dialogue even in the case of such a decision. It will above all not break off the personal relationships and friendships which have developed over the past years and decades. But there is a difference between types of dialogue. The quality of the dialogue would be altered by such a decision. [We can still play skittles together and then go for a pint afterwards.]

Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office.  [Sure, we can talk!  Communion? That train has left the gate. Another pint?]

Following that action we could still come together for the sake of information and consultation; we could continue to discuss and attempt to clarify theological issues, to cooperate in many practical spheres and to give shared witness.

Above all we could unite in joint prayer and pray for one another. All of that is, God knows, not negligible. But the loss of the common goal would necessarily have an effect on such encounters and rob them of most of their élan and their internal dynamic. Above all — and this is the most painful aspect — the shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance. Instead of moving towards one another we would co-exist alongside one another.”

Surely this reflected the thought of the Pope of Christian Unity, Benedict XVI.

What Card. Kasper read at Lambeth is surely true.  Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and the Church of England can still pursue some common causes, such as… ecology!

And then there was Card Diaz, the-Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He also spoke at Lambeth back when.  He told them then:

“Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s.”

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and the Church of England can still pursue some common causes, such as… ecology!

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù | Tagged , , , , | 40 Comments

WDTPRS 16th Ordinary Sunday: The Enemy is seeking you!

The Collect for the 16th Ordinary Sunday, not in any pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum, has its antecedent in a 9th century manuscript.  Enjoy the fine clausula (rhythmic ending).

We have been cheated of the beauty of our Catholic worship in Latin, which is our common patrimony. After such a gap of time, it will be difficult to grasp these tightly woven ancient Latin Collects with their lovely rhythms, their clarity of thought, their force.  After many centuries they still communicate the profound intellectual formation and the faith of their composers, our Christian family ancestors.

Propitiare, Domine, famulis tuis, et clementer gratiae tuae super eos dona multiplica, ut, spe, fide et caritate ferventes, semper in mandatis tuis vigili custodia perseverent.

Famulus and feminine famula appear frequently in our prayers.  Famulus is probably from Latin’s ancient cousin, the Oscan faama, “house.”   A Latin famulus or famula was a household servant or hand-maid, slave or free. They were considered members of the larger family.

Custodia is “a watching, guard, care, protection” and has the military overtone of “guard, sentinel”.  Vigil is “wakeful, watchful”, and, like custodia, can also be “a watchman, sentinel”.  Liturgically, a “vigil” is the evening and night before a great feast day.  In ancient times vigils were times of fasting and penance.  Men who were to be knighted kept a night’s vigil. They were watchful against the attacks of the world, the flesh and the Devil.  They fasted, prayed, and examined their consciences in order to be pure for the rites to follow.


Look propitiously on Your servants, O Lord, and indulgently multiply upon them the gifts of Your grace so that, burning with faith, hope and charity, they may persevere always in your commands with vigilant watchfulness.


Lord, be merciful to your people. Fill us with your gifts and make us always eager to serve you in faith, hope, and love.


Show favor, O Lord, to your servants and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace, that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity, they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.

Scripture often gives us images of watches during the night.  At the birth of the Lord shepherds “were keeping watch over their flock by night (vigilantes et custodientes vigilias noctis)” (Luke 2:8).  Jesus said, “Watch (vigilate) therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched (vigilaret) and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:42-44).   Our Lord explains that servants should keep watch in order to open the door for the master of the house even if he returns in the dead of the night (cf Luke 12:37-39).  St Paul constantly urges Christians to be “watchful”.  In 1 Peter 5:8 we read sobering, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”.

The Enemy is seeking you!  (1 Peter 5:8)

In the ancient Roman countryside there were great estates (cf. latifundium) having many buildings for family, household servants, the various workers, storage, etc.  These dwellings were often self-sufficient, and were surrounded with walls against attacks by brigands.  Even into Renaissance times, a great house in a city (domus) might be fortified with watch towers.  The householder or the lord of the estate was the head or father of the larger “family”.  Kind or cruel, the paterfamilias was judge, protector and provider to everyone under his care.

Simple ancient famuli had to work to produce good fruits in order to survive with a good quality of life and a safe place to belong.  Sophisticated modern famuli, marked with the family name “Christian”, marked permanently with the family seal through baptism and confirmation, must produce fruits according to our vocations.

When life’s reckoning comes, will we be like the foolish virgins? They watched all night for the arrival of the Bridegroom, but they didn’t have enough oil for their lamps.  They were locked out of the house in the dangerous night with no place to go, no work to do, no purpose to fulfill. They no longer belonged.

Vigilate… Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

When you hear the priest pronounce this Collect, beg our Lord – so gracious and patient with us even when we are lazy and sinful – to continue giving us gifts of faith, hope and charity we need for the very survival of our souls.

If people prepare for bad times and disasters that can occur in respect to worldly things, how much more important is it to prepare for hardship or attacks or even that final moment of reckoning in the spiritual plane?

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, WDTPRS | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


The other day I suggested that, if you have BACK TO SCHOOL, shopping to do, and you intend to use Amazon, that you might use my search box.

I can tell that some of you have.  I can see the sorts of things that are ordered, but I have NO, ZERO, WAY of telling who ordered them.  Thus, I could tell that university students are getting ready.  Here is a sampling:

  • A History of US: From Colonies to Country: 1735-1791 A History of US Book Three
  • The Glass Menagerie
  • Student Workbook and Selected Solutions for Introductory Chemistry: Atoms First
  • Chef Boyardee Macaroni and Cheese, 7.5-Ounce Microwavable Bowls (Pack of 12)
  • Dr. Seuss’s Horton Collection Boxed set (Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg)

Okay… maybe that last one was for some place like Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.  Hard to tell.

Anyway, thanks to all of you using the search box!

And, for your study sessions, you will need lots of coffee, if you get my drift.

For your convenience.

A search box for Amazon UK is at the bottom of the blog.

Posted in The Campus Telephone Pole | Leave a comment

REVIEW: Movie “Persecuted”

This is a public service announcement.

I prefer to be kind about Christian movies.  That said, save yourself some irritation.  The newly released “Persecuted” isn’t good.

“Persecution” addresses a theme which I think is real: there is/will be persecution of true Christians who don’t water down the Faith and compromise with the world.

This movie, however, is weird.  It is as weird as its writing was bad.

I actually groaned a couple times, it was so bad.

I liked the fact that the flick is solidly against the “COEXIST” types… you know the bumper-stickers.  The true baddies are the promoters of “indifferentism”, that all religions are equal, and all distinctions between religious need to be eliminated so that we can all just get along.  Apparently, this is a government plot in order to eliminate religious terrorism.

Don’t get in the way of these baaaad government coexisters!  They’ll open up a can of whupass on ya!

No!  Really!

The plot is incoherent.  There are numerous editing problems (I especially liked the moment when the main character presses the down button for an elevator and in the next shot we see him going up).  Elements stretch credulity waaaay past the snapping point (the main character running about with a bullet in the center of his back for a looong time, even out-running various bad-guy government agents).

No no no.  Just Don’t Go.

That said, the makers, clearly non-Catholic Christians, tried to get some Catholic stuff into the movie.  For the most part, the Catholic stuff was treated with respect. I thank them for that. However, I suspect that nobody bothered to ask any Catholics anything about the Catholic stuff they put into the film.  Actor (former Senator) Fred Thompson, who plays a priest, should have stuck with the re-mortaging commercials.  Anyway, it is great that the makers treated the Catholic elements with some respect, as poorly executed as they were.

Another positive comment:

The movie made me ponder how easy it is/will be to entirely destroy the reputations of priests and bishops.  Be careful, Fathers.  When the real persecution comes, there is little that we will be able to do. They’ll get us, no matter how careful we are.  But, in the meantime, stay frosty.  Keep your heads on swivel.  Watch your six.  Develop situational awareness.

Meanwhile, here’s some COEXIST for ya!

Nah… that’s not provocative.


NB: NOT my design!


One of you readers sent this!


Another option HERE:

Posted in REVIEWS, Semper Paratus, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments