Welcome Aboard New Registrants!

To participate in the combox here, you must be registered and approved (by me).

Since the blog is under constant attack by spammers and nefarious ne’er-do-wells, I use the “about you” field in particular to screen registrations.

Welcome aboard recent registrants! (I think I got everyone.)

james huffaker
steve reed
Mary of Carmel
FatherGordonMacRae [!]
Br. Ambrose OSB


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Nuns On The Bus III: Another tired sequel of the Magisterium of Nuns

From super-liberal RNS:

New ‘Nuns on the Bus’ tour to highlight Pope Francis’ US visit and agenda


“Obviously, Pope Francis’ message is exactly what we’ve been doing for 43 years,” Campbell said. “Having that affirmation is hugely supportive.”

But, she added, “what’s important is that we continue to do the mission regardless of how it goes,” and whatever the hierarchy says.

Does this pass the smell test?

The nuns’ mission seems to be, in fact, to piss off the hierarchy.

The Pope has said some strong things about abortion and about “gender theory”. The nuns reveal no solidarity with Pope Francis on those issues.

Will we hear a peep from them in defense of marriage and the unborn or will their silence demonstrate their fear to stand with the Church on homosexuality, fidelity to matrimony, and defense of the unborn?

I think we all know the answers.

No, they operate in terms of what is political and what promotes the Magisterium of Nuns, over and against the US Catholic Bishops.

Speaking of “the nuns”, let’s not forget the classic…


Posted in Liberals, Magisterium of Nuns, Women Religious | Tagged , | 19 Comments

My View For While: Domum

Again… back to home and hearth.


Well… home and hot plate.


Well that was pretty dreadful.

Now for Round 2.


Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 8 Comments

WDTPRS – 22nd Ordinary Sunday: images of armies

The Collect for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.  See also the 6th Sunday after Pentecost.

COLLECT – (2002MR):
Deus virtutum, cuius est totum quod est optimum,
insere pectoribus nostris tui nominis amorem, et praesta,
ut in nobis, religionis augmento, quae sunt bona nutrias,
ac, vigilanti studio, quae nutrita custodias.

With small differences this Collect is based on a prayer in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary, subsequently in the 1962 Roman Missal on the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.  In the Anglican Church’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity (The Alternative Service Book of 1980 for Pentecost 17) we find: “Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of thy name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same.”

17th century English schismatics got it right.  Can’t we?  But what did we hear on Sunday for those grueling years?

Almighty God,
every good thing comes from you.
Fill our hearts with love for you,
increase our faith,
and by your constant care
protect the good you have given us.

What does the prayer really say?  Your indomitable Lewis & Short Dictionary explains that insero means “to sow, plant in, engraft, implant.”  I really like that “graft”, chosen also by the Anglicans of yore.  Going on, optimum does not mean “perfect”, but rather “best.”  I think we can get away with “perfect”, given that we are applying “best” to what God has.

In the document that governed the production of the new, current translation, Liturgiam authenticam 51 you will find:

“deficiency in translating the varying forms of addressing God, such as Domine, Deus, Omnipotens aeterne Deus, Pater, and so forth, as well as the various words expressing supplication, may render the translation monotonous and obscure the rich and beautiful way in which the relationship between the faithful and God is expressed in the Latin text.”

Today the priest invokes God as Deus virtutum, an expression in St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Psalter (Ps 58:6; 79:5 ff; 83:9; 88;9) often translated as “God of hosts.”  Don’t confuse “host” as “army, multitude” with the wheat wafer used at Mass.  Virtutum is genitive plural of virtus,“manliness;  strength, vigor; bravery, courage; aptness, capacity; power” etc.  Jerome chose virtutum to render the Hebrew tsaba’, “that which goes forth, an army, war, a host.”  Tsaba’ describes variously hosts of soldiers, of celestial bodies, and of angels.   In the Sanctus of Mass and in the great Te Deum we echo the myriads of angels bowed low in the liturgy of heaven before God’s throne: Holy, Holy, Holy LORD GOD SABAOTH …. God of “heavenly hosts” or, as ICEL put it in 1973, God “of power and might”.  I think “O mighty God of hosts” conveys what LA 51 is saying we should have.

O mighty God of hosts, of whom is the entirety of what is perfect,
graft into our hearts the love of your name, and grant,
that by means of an increase of the virtue of religion,
you may nourish in us the things which are good,
and, by means of vigilant zeal, guard the things which have been nourished. 

Notice that we pray to God for an increase in “religion.”  I take this to refer to the virtue of religion.

Last week we saw the difference between “values” and “virtues”.  Let’s make more distinctions.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “religion” in the glossary toward the back of the newer English edition: a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion (cf. also CCC 2084 and 2135).   The Angelic Doctor says in his mighty Summa (II-II, 81, 1) that religion is the virtue by which men exhibit due worship and reverence to God as the creator and supreme ruler of all things.  We must acknowledge dependence on God by rendering Him a due and fitting worship both interiorly (e.g., by acts of devotion, reverence, thanksgiving, etc.) and exteriorly (e.g., external reverence, liturgical acts, etc.).  The virtue of religion can be sinned against by idolatry, superstitions, sacrilege, and blasphemy.  We creatures must recognize who God is and act accordingly both inwardly and outwardly.  When this at last becomes habitual for us, then we have the virtue of religion.  A virtue is a habit.  One good act does not make us virtuous.  If being prudent or temperate or just, etc., is hard for us, then we don’t yet have the virtue.

This petition in the Collect follows immediately from our desire that God “graft” (insere) love of His Holy Name into our hearts.  We move from the title of God the angels and saints never tire of repeating in their everlasting liturgy in heaven: HOLY, they say, HOLY, again and again forever, HOLY.  Then we beg for all good things to be nourished in us by God as He increases in us the virtue of religion leading to the proper interior and exterior actions that necessarily flow from recognizing who God truly is and who we are.

This Sunday’s Collect has images of armies.  I think it not a stretch to imagine also orchard or vine tending.  On the one hand, the God of hosts guards the good things we have.  On the other, this same mighty God is grafting love into us and then nourishing it so it can grow.

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

ACTION ITEM! Getting TLM things for a priest

From a priest…

I am a priest in good standing in the Archdiocese of ___. I have been trained in the offering of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, but unfortunately I do not have the means to get all the items I need. I would like to offer the EF Mass more frequently and figured you might know some donors or might be able to help. I am looking for the 1962 Travel Size Missal and about 50 of the Red Booklet Missals for the faithful.

I would like to remain anonymous, except to the donor, who I would like to thank (unless they would like to remain unknown). Thank you for your help in this matter. I am grateful to you, especially for your priestly ministry.

Okay… how do we do this?

Perhaps someone interested could commit to obtaining the items requested and I can put the two of you in touch.

Would that work?  Drop me an email.  First come, first served, as it were.


A reader wrote, saying:

I read with interest the item about the priest who can’t afford all that he needs to offer the Venerable Form more frequently.  It gave me an idea:  perhaps the priest should contact the local Knights of Columbus council.  Given the state of the Knights these days, it may be a long shot, but asking them to live up to their duty of supporting priests and promoting vocations is only asking them to be who they are supposed to be anyway.

Right!  What are they doing, anyway?

Posted in ACTION ITEM!, Mail from priests, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM | Leave a comment

WDTPRS – 14th Sunday after Pentecost: healths, hands and the finger

This Sunday’s Collect for the Extraordinary Form survived the snipping and pasting of the Consilium and the late Rev. Annibale Bugnini’s liturgical experts to be used in the Ordinary Form on Tuesday of the 2nd week of Lent.  Figure that one out.

Custodi, Domine, quaesumus, Ecclesiam tuam propitiatione perpetua: et quia sine te labitur humana mortalitas; tuis semper auxiliis et abstrahatur a noxiis, et ad salutaria dirigatur.

Propitiatio, in its fundamental meaning, is “an appeasing, atonement, propitiation”. The dictionary of liturgical Latin Blaise/Dumas also gives us a view of the word as “favor”. This makes sense. God has been appeased and rendered favorable again towards us sinners by the propitiatory actions Christ fulfilled on the Cross. We have renewed these through the centuries in Holy Mass.

Mortalitas refers, as you might guess, to the fact that we die, our mortality. Inherent in the word is the concept that we die in our flesh. So, you ought also to hear “flesh” when you hear mortalitas.

Labitur is from labor. This is not the substantive labor but the verb, labor, lapsus. It means, “to glide, fall, to move gently along a smooth surface, to fall, slide”.

Auxilium, in the plural, has a military overtone. There is also a medical undertone too, “an antidote, remedy, in the most extended sense of the word”. Pair this up with noxius, a, um, which points at things which are injurious or harmful. There is a moral element as well or “a fault, offence, trespass”.

Salutaria is the plural of neuter salutare which looks like an infinitive but isn’t. Our constant companion the Lewis & Short Dictionary says the neuter substantive salutare is “salvation, deliverance, health” in later Latin. The adjectival form, salutaris, is “of or belonging to well-being, healthful, wholesome”. Think of English “salutary” and O salutaris hostia in the Eucharistic hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274).

When this word is in the neuter plural (salutaria) there is a phrase in Latin bibere salutaria alicui … to drink one’s health” or literally “to drink healths to someone”. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet during the famous “Queen Mab” speech Mercutio declares that a soldier dreams, inter alia, of “healths five fathom deep,” (I, iv) and in Henry VIII the King says to Cardinal Wolsey, “I have half a dozen healths to drink to these” (I, iv).

Wine and health are closely related in the ancient world. In the parable of the Good Samaritan the good passerby pours oil and wine into the wounds of the man who was assaulted (Luke 10:25-37). St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy:

“No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Tim 5:23).

Apart from its resemblance to blood, it is no surprise that Christ should choose this healthful daily staple as the matter of our saving Sacrament.

Wine was often safer to drink than water in the ancient world, though it was nearly always mixed with water to some extent. To drink uncut wine, merum in Latin (from the adjective merus “unadulterated”, giving us the English word “mere”) was considered barbaric. Cicero (+43 BC) and others hurled that accusation at Marcus Antonius (+31 BC) who was a renowned merum swiller.

Catholics sing the word merum in the hymn of the Holy Thursday liturgy, Pange lingua gloriosi, by St. Thomas Aquinas: “fitque sanguis Christi merum… and the (uncut) wine becomes the Blood of Christ”. In sacramental terms, there is a link between wine and health in the sense of salvation. During Holy Mass, we offer gifts of wine with water to become our spiritual “healths” once it is changed into the Blood of Christ. These archaic and literary references help us drill into the language of our prayers.

Let’s drill some more. Did you know that the index finger was called digitus salutaris, and that the ancient Romans held it up when greeting people? We don’t do that very often these days. I believe modern usage, at least on roadways, more commonly employs a different finger. The special designations of fingers in Latin are pollex (thumb); index or salutaris (forefinger); medius, infamis or impudicus (middle finger); minimo proximus or medicinalis (ring finger); minimus (little finger, “pinky”). The priest, during Mass, always held the consecrated Host only between his thumb and the digitus salutaris. One way to harm a priest, our mediator at the altar and in the confessional, was to chop off his index fingers. Priests without those fingers were forbidden to say Mass without special permission from the Holy See.  Those fingers were clearly understood by those who hate the Church, priesthood, and the Eucharist as being especially important.  North American martyr missionaries were mutilated like this.

Let’s push this a little more.

The adjective medicinalis, “medicinal, healing”, comes from the verb medeor or medico, the original meaning of which has to do with “to heal” by magic. The verb traces back to the stem med– or “middle”. So, medicus, “doctor” is associated with “mediator”. We can think of this in terms of the English word “medium”, who is a mediator with the spirit world. The Latin poet Silius Italicus (Tiberius Catius Asconius Silius Italicus +101) called a magician “medicus vulgus” (Punica, III, 300). The ancients saw what we call the “ring finger” as having magical powers. This is reflected in the name digitus medicinalis, the “medicinal/magic” finger.

One of the most important Patristic Christological images in the ancient Church is Christus Medicus, the “Physician”. St. Augustine does amazing things with this image, and Christus Mediator. He is the doctor of the ailing soul. He is the only mediator between God and man.


Guard your Church, we beseech You, O Lord, with perpetual favor, and since without You our mortal flesh slides toward ruin by means of your helping remedies let it be pulled back from injuries and be guided unto saving healths.

Watch how the old incarnation of ICEL ruined the imagery.


Lord, watch over your Church,
and guide it with your unfailing love.
Protect us from what could harm us
and lead us to what will save us.
Help us always, for without you we are bound to fail.

We won’t ever have to hear that one again!


Guard your Church, we pray, O Lord, in your unceasing mercy,
and, since without you mortal humanity is sure to fall,
may we be kept by your constant helps from all harm
and directed to all that brings salvation

We all know the image of the slippery slope. Once you are on this slope, scrabble and scratch with your weak hands as you can, and you can’t get a purchase.

You slide and slide, faster and faster.  Down.

Our fallen nature and our habitual sins drag us onto the slope from which we cannot save ourselves. In the sacraments and teachings of Holy Church, Christ extends the fingers of His saving hand.

He draws us back from a deadly slide with His Almighty hand.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, WDTPRS | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Confused about Pope Francis? You have company!

William Oddie has an interesting piece at the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald (represented recently by Crisis which is growing in my estimation) about Pope Francis’ modus operandi.

If you are confused sometimes about what Pope Francis does or what he says… or, importantly, doesn’t say… you are not alone.

Let’s have a taste:

This Pope Does Not “Do” Doctrine

If you are puzzled, even disoriented by the Holy Father’s conduct of his pontificate (and I stress at the outset that what follows is not intended as an attack on it) you may be reassured by an article in this month’s National Geographic magazine, which contains some possibly indiscreet remarks by the Pope’s spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, which indicate that you are not alone. I say “possibly” indiscreet, since as he is the Pope’s director of communications, maybe what he says is something the Holy Father doesn’t mind us knowing.

This is from an account of a conversation between the Pope’s spokesman when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Federico Wals, and Fr Lombardi. “So, Father,” the Argentine asked, “how do you feel about my former boss?” Managing a smile, Fr Lombardi replied: “Confused.” He described the contrast between the way Pope Benedict would give an account of a conversation with some world leader and the way Pope Francis does it.

After meeting with a world leader, the former pope would emerge and rattle off an incisive summation, Lombardi tells me, with palpable wistfulness: “It was incredible. Benedict was so clear. He would say, ‘We have spoken about these things, I agree with these points, I would argue against these other points, the objective of our next meeting will be this’—two minutes and I’m totally clear about what the contents were. With Francis—‘This is a wise man; he has had these interesting experiences.’ Chuckling somewhat helplessly, Lombardi adds, “Diplomacy for Francis is not so much about strategy but instead, ‘I have met this person, we now have a personal relation, let us now do good for the people and for the Church.’”

No one knows all of what he’s doing, according to Fr Lombardi. “His personal secretary doesn’t even know. I have to call around: One person knows one part of his schedule, someone else knows another part.” The previous day, the Pope had hosted a gathering in Casa Santa Marta of 40 Jewish leaders—and the Vatican press office learned about it only after the fact. Fr Lombardi shrugged his shoulders and simply said: “This is the life.”


Maybe his unpredictability is more calculated than we have supposed? Maybe it is part of his campaign to reform the Roman Curia, which had clearly become corrupt and over-powerful. Everyone still remembers his 2014 Christmas rant to the Church’s highest-ranking officials, including a list of 15 “ailments” that he said plagued the Vatican’s bureaucracy. He portrayed a Church hierarchy that had lost its humanity at times, a body consumed by narcissism, where men who are meant to serve God with optimism instead presented a hardened, sterile face to the world. He denounced the “pathology of power,” and the “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that has made leaders of the Catholic church forget they are supposed to be joyful.

Well, they didn’t like it much: the question is, was he right? The “confusion” still felt within the Vatican, and reported by Fr Lombardi, may well be part of a tactic to get on top of the Roman Curia: who knows?

But what about the rest of us? I’m confused too: after the publication of Laudato Si (my views on which, if you’re interested, may be read here) I was angry, as well, at least at first.


Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

He’s back! Fr. Byers returns from silence

It is good to see that – after a hiatus – Fr. George David Byers is back and up and running on these interwebs. His new blog is Arise! Let us be going!

To set the mood, at this time his wallpaper includes the image of the raven and seagull opening up a can of whoopass on the poor little peace dove during a papal Angelus. HERE No sign of Sylvia, the Papal Dove Protector.

Posted in Mail from priests, SESSIUNCULA, The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 10 Comments

Diminishing Returns: Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist

Today is the feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist.

I consider this (also) my name day, and in so many ways it is more appropriate for me than the Nativity of John in June.

Here is the Roman Martyrology entry for ” the greatest man born of woman”, as the Lord called him:

Memoria passionis sancti Ioannis Baptistae, quem Herodes Antipas rex in arce Macherontis in carcere tenuit et in anniversario suo, filia Herodiadis rogante, decollari praecepit; ideo, Praecursor Domini, sicut lucerna ardens et lucens, tam in morte quam in vita testimonium perhibuit veritati.

The memorial of the suffering and death of St. John the Baptist, whom King Herod Antipas held in the prison in the citadel of Macheron and, on his birthday, since the daughter of Herodias was making the request, ordered to be beheaded; thus, the Precursor of the Lord, like a bright shining lantern, gave witness to the truth in death as much as he did in life.

There is a tradition that John was forgiven the guilt of Original Sin before He was born, at the sound of Mary’s voice when she came to visit Elizabeth and John lept in her womb.

St. Augustine spoke often of St. John the Baptist, “the voice” of Christ’s “Word”.

Here is a piece of s. 380, preached in a year we can’t quite figure out. As a matter of fact, it might not be an actual sermon, but something assembled from other pieces. Still, it is Augustinian:

8. So let us recognize these two things in the very differences of [Christ’s and John’s] deaths. We read that John suffered martyrdom for the truth; was it for Christ? It wasn’t for Christ if Christ isn’t Truth. It certainly wasn’t for His Name, and yet it was for Truth itself. I mean the reason John was beheaded, after all, was not that he had confessed Christ. But he was urging self-control, he was urging justice; he was saying, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mk 6:18). The law, you see, which had commanded this, had also commanded about those who died without children, that brothers should take the wives of their brothers, and raise up seed for their brothers. Where this reason was lacking, the only motive was lust. It was this lust that John was rebuking, a chaste man rebuking an incestuous one; because this too is what he represented: “It is necessary for him to grow, but for me to diminish” (Jn 3:30).

The commandment had already been given that if anyone died without seed, his closet relation should take his wife and raise up seed for his brother. After all, why had God commanded this if not to signify in this way that the brother’s seed was to be raised up to the brother’s name? The commandment, you see, was that the child to be born would have the name of the deceased. Christ was deceased, the apostles took His spouse, the Church. Those whom they begot of her they did not name Paulians or Petrians, but Christians.

So let both their deaths also speak of these two things: “It is necessary for him to grow, but for me to diminish.” The one grew on the Cross, the other was diminished by the sword. Their deaths have spoken of this mystery, let the days do so too. Christ is born, and the days start increasing; John is born, and the days start diminishing. So let man’s honor diminish, God’s honor increase, so that the honor of man may be found in the honor of God.

Augustine makes the connection between the change of seasons and the births of John the Precursor and Christ the Messiah.

In nature, in the northern hemisphere, the days are now quite obviously getting shorter, a cycle reflected in our feasts.


Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Another good pre-Synod resource in defense of the family

I know that it seems like a torrent of things pertaining to the theme of the Synod of Bishops is coming at you. It feels like that for me, too.

That said, here is another title for your consideration.

Bishop Jean Laffitte, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has a new book to be released on 1 September. I knew him a little, way back when. He is dependable.

The Choice of the Family: A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness

Choice of the Family Lafitte

There is an introduction by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and a Preface by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia.

And don’t forget…

The “sequel” to the Five Cardinals Book™ is coming.  HERE

The Eleven Cardinals Book™ is on its way.

Eleven Cardinals Speak On Marriage and the Family  UK link HERE

Eleven Cardinals Book

Edited by Winfried Aymans the Eleven Cardinals Book is slated for release on 25 September (in advance of the Synod on the Family).  For more on the Cardinals, HERE.  The publisher is – who else? – Ignatius Press!

This book has as its focus merciful pastoral ministry to those who are in challenging marriage situations.  It will address marriage preparation, evangelization and conversion, the situation of the divorced and civilly remarried.

Next… slated for release on 28 September (in advance of the Synod on the Family), also from Ignatius Press (who else?)…

Christ’s New Homeland – Africa: A contribution to the Synod on the Family

This is the Ten Africans Book™!  UK link HERE

Christs New Homeland Africa

Ten African cardinals and bishops wrote essays about the attitudes of Africans about marriage and the family.   The indomitable Francis Card. Arinze wrote the preface.

Among the cardinals and bishops are

Card. Sarah
Card. Arinze
Card. Tumi
Card. Sarr
Arcbp. Kleda

There will be Kindle versions of both.

Get a Kindle now, if you don’t have one already.


Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Synod, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments