LENTCAzT 2017 18 – Saturday 2nd Week of Lent: Become good students of history

17_02_28_LENTCAzT_2017These daily 5 minute podcasts for Lent are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season and to thank the benefactors who help me and this blog.

Today is Saturday in the 2nd Week of Lent.  The Roman Station is Sts. Marcellino and Pietro.


Sometimes you hear in these podcasts pieces from Matthew Curtis’ – Motecta Trium Vocum.

UK HEREhttp://www.wdtprs.com/lentcazt16/36_lentcazt16.mp3

Posted in LENTCAzT, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

WDTPRS – 3rd Sunday of Lent (2002MR): “Do you wish your prayer to fly toward God?”

Lenten-DisciplineRoman Station: St. Lawrence outside the walls

An examination of our conscience is a humbling experience.  When we look to see who really are inside, we can have different reactions.  Sometimes we find things which frighten and discourage us.  If we are weak in our habits and our faith, that inveterate enemy of ours souls, the Devil who is “father of lies” will rub us raw with our ugliness tempting us to lose hope about the possibility of living a moral life or, in extreme cases, about our salvation.

On a less dramatic plane, falling down in our Lenten resolve on one day can cause a collapse of our will so that we will “flag” and give up.

This is why the Lenten discipline is so important.   By it we learn to govern our appetites, examine our consciences, do penance, and learn the habits which are virtues.  On the other hand, a recognition of sins and failures will “incline” us to call with humble confidence upon the mercy of God who paid the price for our salvation.

Today’s Collect taken from the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary for Saturday of the 4th week of Lent, has many Lenten elements and only a close look at the words can unlock what it really says.

– LATIN TEXT (2002MR):

Deus, omnium misericordiarum et totius bonitatis auctor,
qui peccatorum remedia
in ieiuniis, orationibus et eleemosynis demonstrasti,
hanc humilitatis nostrae confessionem propitius intuere,
ut, qui inclinamur conscientia nostra,
tua semper misericordia sublevemur.

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
you have taught us to overcome our sins
by prayer, fasting and works of mercy.
When we are discouraged by our weakness,
give us confidence in your love.

Does this properly translate the Latin?   Bets, anyone?

Misericordia means generally “tender-heartedness, pity, compassion, mercy”.  In the plural, as we find it today, it refers to works of mercyWe find both a plural and a singular in today’s prayer and we must make a distinction between them.  Our bulky and bountiful Lewis & Short Dictionary explains that bonitas is the “good quality of a thing” and also various benevolent and virtuous behaviors.  When referring to a parent, bonitas means “parental love, tenderness.”  Demonstro indicates, “to point out” as with the finger, “indicate, designate, show.”  Demonstrasti is a “syncopated” form for demonstravisti, which helps the prayer to flow.  The L&S states that inclino means, “to cause to lean, bend, incline, turn.”  In a more neutral sense it signifies, “to bend, turn, incline, decline, sink.”  By extension it means, “to decline, as in a fever, or sink down in troubles”, but it can also mean, more rarely, “to change, alter from its former condition”.  We are all at sea with this word, so we turn to Souter’s A Glossary of Later Latin and find “to humble”.  This is probably the direction we must go.  Sublevo literally means to lift up from beneath, to raise up, hold up, support.”   Thus it comes to mean also, to sustain, support, assist, encourage, console” and also, “to lighten, qualify, alleviate, mitigate, lessen an evil, to assuage.”

This word is in the beautiful 10th century Mozarabic Lenten hymn Attende, Domine often sung in parishes around the world even today: “Give heed, O Lord, and be merciful, for we have sinned against you. / To you, O high King, Redeemer of all, / we raise up (sublevamur) our eyes weeping:/ hear, O Christ, the prayers of those bent down begging.”

Confessio is from confiteor (con-fateor – the first word in our expression of sorrow for sins at the beginning of Mass).  This is a complicated word.  First, confessio is obviously “a confession or acknowledgment”.  The Latin Vulgate (Heb 3:1) and St. Gregory the Great (+604 – Ep. 7,5) use it for “a creed, avowal of belief” in the sense of an acknowledgment of Christ.  The most famous use of confessio, however, must be that of St. Augustine of Hippo (+430), whose stupendous autobiographical prayer is now known as Confessiones.  The excellent Augustinus Lexicon now being developed says confessio has three major meanings: profession of faith in God, praise of God, and admission to God of sins.  We can say “testify” or “give witness to.”  Augustine uses the word testimonium twice in the second sentence of his Confessions.  This is not “confession” in the sense of admission of criminal guilt, nor is it merely to a Christian confession of sins.  Rather, it is a way of giving witness to the Christian character we put on in baptism, a witness by how we live to what the Lord has done within us.  Sometimes that response requires humble admission of sins, sometimes it requires humbly giving glory to God.  Sometimes it demands patient fidelity and the practice virtue in the tedium of everyday life.  Sometimes it requires more spectacular deeds, even martyrdom.  It always demands humility.  The best confession we make is in our words and deeds, according to our state in life, in the midst of the circumstances we face each day no matter what they are.

Our Collect reminds us of the remedies for sin identified by Jesus Himself: prayer, fasting (cf. Matthew 9:14), and almsgiving or works of mercy (cf. Matthew 6:1; Luke 12:33).  When Jesus cures the epileptic demoniac, He says that that sort of demon is driven out only by both prayer and fasting (Mark 9:27 Vulgate).  In Acts 10 an angel tells the centurion Cornelius that his prayers and alms have been seen favorably by God (literally, they ascended as a memorial before God in the manner of a sacrifice).

St. Augustine said: “Do you wish your prayer to fly toward God? Make for it two wings: fasting and almsgiving” (En. ps. 42, 8).

In a Lenten Angelus address on 16 February 1997, St. John Paul II said:

The Church points out to us a path (of moving from a superficial life to deep interiority, from selfishness to love, of striving to live according to the model of Christ himself, that) … can be summarized in three words: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.  Prayer can have many expressions, personal and communal. But we must above all live its essence, listening to God who speaks to us, conversing with us as children in a “face to face” dialogue filled with trust and love.  In addition to being an external practice, fasting, which consists in the moderation of food and life-style, is a sincere effort to remove from our hearts all that is the result of sin and inclines us to evil.  Almsgiving, far from being reduced to an occasional offering of money, means assuming an attitude of sharing and acceptance. We only need to “open our eyes” to see beside us so many brothers and sisters who are suffering materially and spiritually. Thus Lent is a forceful invitation to solidarity.

This brings us to conscientiaConscientia signifies in the first place, “a knowing of a thing together with another person, joint knowledge, consciousness”.  Note the unity, or solidarity, of knowledge in the prefix con-.  It also means, “conscientiousness” in the sense of knowledge or feelings about a thing.  It also has a moral meaning also as, “a consciousness of right or wrong, the moral sense”.

O God, author of all acts of mercy and all goodness,
who in fasts, prayers, and acts of almsgiving indicated the remedies of sins,
look propitiously on this testimony of our humility,
so that we who are being humbled in our conscience
may always be consoled by your mercy.

Remember, words have different meanings, which I why I provide raw vocabulary.

I must point out something that could change this literal translation.

St. Augustine in one of his sermons speaks of the mercy of God.  Using the example of Jesus’ mercy to the woman caught in adultery (John 8), Augustine says – as if Jesus were talking – “Those others were restrained by conscience (conscientia) from punishing, mercy moves (inclinat misericordia) me to help you (ad subveniendum)” (s. 13.5 – 27 May 418 on the feast of St. Cyprian of Carthage).   Even though in the Collect inclino is paired with conscientia rather than misericordia as it is in the sermon, the vocabulary suggests that this sermon may have been a partial source for this ancient Collect.  This could provide a clue as to how to translate it.   So, we can say “we who are being moved by our conscience” or even “we who are being brought low, bent down, humbled by our conscience” or “we who are flagging (as if under a weight) in our conscience”.

What to do?  When translating we have to make a choice.  This time around I chose “being humbled”.

As a people united before Christ’s altar of sacrifice, humbled and cast down low, we raise our eyes upwards to the Father who tenderly sees our efforts.   But we can become weary in the midst of our Lenten discipline and the enemy is tirelessly working for our defeat.

Do not forget the military imagery of exercises and discipline we had in previous weeks.

In today’s Collect we beg Him to pick us back up, dust us off, and help us stay upright for the rest of the hard Lenten march (sublevemur).

In am reminded of the moment in the film The Passion of the Christ when Christ falls under His horrible burden of the Cross.  His Mother, our Mother, recalling how once He had fallen as a child and she ran to Him to console Him in His unexpected pain, runs to Him to give Him what support she might in His entirely expected suffering.  She ran to Him and then stood with Him.

Mary hurries also to each of us and stays by our side.

We are not in our Lenten discipline alone.  When we are flagging in our efforts, when we are humbled in our failures, our Blessed Mother is our help, together with all the saints and angels of whom she is the glorious Queen.

We too can be help to others, particularly by not causing for them an occasion of temptation to break their resolve.

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

LENTCAzT 2017 17 – Friday 2nd Week of Lent: Focus on your vocation as it truly is

17_02_28_LENTCAzT_2017These daily 5 minute podcasts for Lent are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season and to thank the benefactors who help me and this blog.

Today is Friday in the 2nd Week of Lent.  The Roman Station is San Vitale in Fovea.


Sometimes you hear in these podcasts pieces from Matthew Curtis’ – Motecta Trium Vocum.

UK HEREhttp://www.wdtprs.com/lentcazt16/36_lentcazt16.mp3

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

20 March – MADISON, WI – Pontifical Mass for St. Joseph

st-joseph-patron-of-the-churchOn Monday, 20 March 2017, at 7 PM His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at the Throne (Extraordinary Form) in the Chapel of the Holy Name Heights in Madison (Bishop O’Conner Pastoral Center – 702 S. High Point Road).

Holy Mass is to be celebrated in honor of the Feast of St. Joseph, Foster Father of the Lord, Husband of Mary, Patron of the Church, of the Dying, of Fathers, and of Immigrants.

The music will be Gregorian Chant and polyphonic motets.  We will sing the beautiful Litany of St. Joseph.

The rites are in the Church’s ancient, Traditional Form of the Roman Rite in Latin.

This year St. Joseph is celebrated on 20 March, instead of Sunday 19 March, because the Sunday of Lent “outweighs” the Feast.  Please come to honor in this mighty intercessor and example of fatherhood and fidelity.  Bring to him your petitions for your family, nation and Church. All are welcome.

Also, please mark your calendars for the evening of Wednesday, 31 May, the Queenship of Mary (Extraordinary Form).  Bishop Morlino will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Monona.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

An argument and call for ‘ad orientem’ worship

ad orientem direction drawingFrom the increasingly valuable Crisis Magazine with my emphases and comments:

Re-turning to the Lord: A Call for Ad Orientem Worship
FR. JACOB S. CONNER, V.F. [a priest of the Diocese of Lake Charles]

Lent is a season of conversion. During this time, it’s common to encounter readings, orations, and teachings from the saints in the Mass and the Breviary that direct us to “turn away” from sin and error and “turn to” God. An example is Joel 2:12-14, which happens to be the First Reading of the Mass on Ash Wednesday:

Now, therefore, saith the Lord. Be convertedto Me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments and turnto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but He will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind Him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God?

Another example comes from the (Ordinary Form of the) Mass  [I like how he makes the distinction…] from Wednesday of the First Week of Lent. In the Book of Jonah (3:8), the King of Nineveh, hoping to be spared from God’s impending wrath, makes this decree to all the citizens of his city:

Let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands.

Invariably, texts such as these affirm and respect the relationship of the outward, physical posture of the body and the inward, spiritual disposition of the soul (or heart). The purpose of this physical or bodily turning is to demonstrate the interior conversion (also presumably) happening within the soul. “Be converted to Me with all your heart.” I was pleased to find these same sentiments in the 2017 Lenten Pastoral Letter of the Most Reverend Glen John Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles, read at each Mass in the
Diocese on the First Sunday of Lent.

In a few of the observations from his Pastoral Letter, Bishop Provost teaches his flock about the relationship between this external physical turning of the body and the internal, spiritual turning of the heart to God in prayer. Let me now highlight a few of these:

  1. Ad-Orientem-Cartoon-Meme-640x578“When we worship [God], we turntowards the object of our adoration—God.  This turningtowards God is both a spiritual and physical.
  1. “Sacred Scripture permeates our Catholic worship.  Not long ago (i.e. Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent) the first reading for Mass was taken from Isaiah 45.  The
    passage struck me profoundly.  The verse read, ‘Turn to Me and be safe’ (Isaiah 45:22).  The reading continued, ‘To Me every knee shall bend; by Me everytongue shall swear’ (Isaiah 45:23).  Clearly a physicalorientation was implied.”
  1. “Literally Isaiah meant, ‘Face Me and be safe,’ a fitting admonition for not only Advent but any moment we enter the Lord’s presence.”

The bishop mentioned at the conclusion of his Pastoral Letter that this teaching was not new. When speaking about physically turning to God in prayer, he wasn’t proposing some unheard of novelty. Today, many Catholics know nothing (or very little) of ad orientem [liturgical worship]. Yet, the Catholic Church has consistently taught of its importance through the centuries and likewise practiced it in her prayer (both liturgically and devotionally). The reasons for this are manifold, but one of them is that ad orientem [liturgical worship] respects the integrity of the human person; that is, that man’s nature is both physical and spiritual. Both of these natures, moreover, are involved in conversion.

An example of this teaching is that of St. Augustine. The practice at Mass during his time was for the Deacon to announce to all present just after the homily: Conversi ad Dominum. (“Turn towards the Lord.”) Being the dutiful shepherd of souls that he was, St. Augustine explained the meaning of this admonition and gesture in a homily:

Does not God say, ‘Be converted to Me’? The scriptures are full of it: ‘Be converted to Me, be converted to Me.’ For what does this mean: “Be converted to Me”? It does not just mean that you, who were looking toward the west, should now look toward the east—that is easily done. If only you did it inwardly, because that is not easily done. You turn your body around from one cardinal point to another; turn your heart around from one love to another. (Sermo Dolbeau 19.)

As the body turns from one direction to another, so should the heart turn from sin and error to the true and living God. “Turn to Me and be safe,” says the Lord. Agreed. Conversion and ad orientem are the kinds of “safe spaces” our world and the Church really need.

In my own life, I have tried to put these teachings into practice. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, I expanded ad orientem from the principal Sunday Mass to every Mass at our parish. It is now firmly established here at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. I sincerely thank God for this blessing. Having several uninterrupted months of “turning to the Lord” at holy Mass has been one of the great blessings of my life. Though my own imperfections remain, ad orientem is deepening my union with God and helping me to pray the Mass with more recollection and devotion. In this way, it is also a blessing to the parishioners here and to all Catholics, because the sanctity of the priest and the people are interrelated.  [As I have been saying for years, there is a knock on effect.  When the priest’s ars celebrandi changes, so too does the congregation’s attitude of prayer. ]

Experiencing the positive effects of ad orientem has convinced me more than ever that there is something profoundly good and altogether reasonable about turning both the body and the soul to God when praying. Based on this experience and reflecting on the seasonal texts, I have come to question how anyone could doubt that the ad orientem celebration of Mass possesses an integrity that cannot be found when the priest offers Mass versus populum. [It is precisely for the reasons that Father gives that some priests and bishops will fight ad orientem worship: they insist that they be in control, at the center, the focal point of the enclosed circle.  They are uncomfortable with the truth that priests are for sacrifice and that what they are doing at the altar is renewing the Sacrifice of Calvary, rather than merely presiding at a pleasant collective meal.] Granted, a statement such as this could be taken as incendiary. Such is not my intention, and I would hope to allay any concern with an explanation.

In the early days of the Church there was a heresy known as Gnosticism. While more expansive, at its foundation Gnosticism denied the goodness of the physical order. It posited that all physical realities were either evil or not important. While of ancient origin, this error continues in our day under many a subtle guise. With respect to ad orientem, it is not unusual to hear someone say that the physical direction of the priest is of no relevance. [Wrong.] What matters is his spiritual orientation. While spiritual orientation is indeed important, so too is the physical. But when the latter is diminished and said to be “not important,” can we not see Gnostic tendencies at work?

In writing this, my hope is that our appreciation for the integrity of the body and soul, a relationship ordained by God himself, will be strengthened and better appreciated. I am not in any way accusing priests who offer Mass versus populum as being neo-heretics. At the same time, I unhesitatingly affirm that offering Mass ad orientem is superior to versus populum, given that the former more fully respects the hylomorphic nature of the human person, whereas the latter can easily (perhaps even naturally) give the impression that the physical realm is of no consequence. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Drawing on the divine inspiration of Sacred Scripture; rooting ourselves in the truths enshrined in the Sacred Liturgy; and taking to heart the wisdom of the saints, my hope is that we—all of us—will aspire to observe practices at holy Mass which are consistent with our beliefs. [Lex orandi – Lex credendi!  There is a reciprocal relationship between what we believe and how we pray.  Change one and you change the other.] Such a conversionto the Lordneeds to happen. As Bishop Provost stated in his Lenten Pastoral Letter: “He [God] expects more of us.” While not a direct exhortation to his priests to employ ad orientem, I was happy to see His Excellency speak so favorably about turning to God in prayer. It is a welcome encouragement.


We need to be serious, more serious than we have been in recent years about divine worship. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] We also need to be rationally consistent. As Catholics, we believe in the integrity of the human person. The time has come that we align this truth of the faith with our practice at the altar. Lest we too are to fall into “old” errors, we should stop pretending (by our current practice) that the direction of liturgical prayer has little or no bearing on belief. The bodily postures we employ at Mass matter, and a universal re-turning to the Lord would be a tremendous blessing for the entire Catholic Church. As a priest, I pray that all bishops and priests would turn to the Lord at Mass, not just for Lent, but for life! Such an orientation would be for our own good as priests, [Definitely.] and, in the words of the Suscipiat, “for the good of all His holy Church.”

Fr. Z kudos.  I think this fellow deserves some Z-Swag.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Fr. Z KUDOS, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, Turn Towards The Lord | Tagged , , | 9 Comments


From time to time over the years I have requested that you pray for now Father Philip Johnson, who suffers from a brain tumor.  Fr. Johnson was recently ordained.

However, today I received this:

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Msgr. David Brockman” <>
Subject: Prayers Requested
Date: March 16, 2017 at 7:39:42 AM EDT
To: Priests <>

Dear Brother Priests,

On behalf of Msgr. Michael Shugrue, Diocesan Administrator, your prayers are requested for Father Philip Johnson, a newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Raleigh and who is currently stationed in priestly ministry at Sacred Heart Parish in Pinehurst and its mission, San Juan Diego in Robbins.

Father Johnson has requested I share with you that on Monday of this week, his physicians at Duke University discovered new growth in the Anaplastic Astrocytoma brain tumor, which had been static for an extended period of time. Biopsy surgery to review this status will take place at Duke University Hospital on Monday morning of next week, March 20, 2017.

Kindly include a remembrance of Father Johnson among your intentions, especially asking the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, Saint Bernadette and if it is God’s will to glorify His servant, Father Thomas Frederick Price, that the favor of healing strength also be granted through his prayerful intercession.

Fraternally in Christ,

Rev. Msgr. David D. Brockman
Delegate of the Diocesan Administrator

Posted in ACTION ITEM!, Mail from priests, PRAYER REQUEST, Urgent Prayer Requests | Tagged | 10 Comments

LENTCAzT 2017 16 – Thursday 2nd Week of Lent: Two sorts of Churches

17_02_28_LENTCAzT_2017These daily 5 minute podcasts for Lent are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season and to thank the benefactors who help me and this blog.

Today is Thursday in the 2nd Week of Lent.  The Roman Station is the Major Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.


Today you will hear a piece from Matthew Curtis’ – Motecta Trium Vocum.

UK HEREhttp://www.wdtprs.com/lentcazt16/36_lentcazt16.mp3

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

ASK FATHER: Wedding of Catholics with a non-priest out in Mother Nature

traditional marriage certificateFrom a reader…


My son and fiancee are Catholics and considering having a non-priest perform the ceremony in the Outer Banks, NC. We have two family members saying that as Catholics, they can’t attend the wedding because it is outside of the church. Is there some rule that is keeping them from attending the wedding?

Once again we wade into the harsh waters that flow between the permissible and the prudent.

Catholics are obliged to marry in the presence of a duly delegated official witness of the Church, almost always a priest, deacon, or bishop. When a Catholic marries a non-Catholic, the Catholic’s bishop can (if certain conditions apply) give a dispensation, and permit the marriage to take place without the presence of such a duly delegated cleric. If two Catholics wish to marry without the presence of a duly delegated official witness, the only one who can grant that dispensation is the Holy Father himself. Quite rare, but it does happen. There would have to be some serious conditions for that to take place (the Catholic Duke of Grand Fenwick is marrying the Catholic Archduchess of Unst, and the Lutheran bishop of Grand Fenwick must officiate at the wedding for some obscure constitutional purposes…).

The Pope is not going to grant a dispensation for two Catholics who simply want a pretty backdrop for their wedding pictures.  And that is 99% of the reason for this sort of folderol, these shenanigans, this tomfoolery.

First question that needs to be asked: Why are your son and fiancee not getting married in a Catholic church by a duly delegated priest?

Let’s see what is permissible.

Nothing in the law prevents Catholics from attending invalid marriages. There is no prohibition, there are no penalties, nothing prevents this from happening.

There is also nothing in canon law that prevents Catholics from

  • sticking their heads into the mouths of sharks,
  • running with scissors,
  • eating processed cheese-flavored products, or
  • rooting for the Yankees.

The fact that something is not prohibited by law does not, thereby, make that something a good thing to do.

Prudence, that queen of all virtues comes in to play here.

Does a Catholic, who attends a wedding he knows to be invalid, show support for something that is patently wrong?  Does his presence give the couple and their guests the impression that, “Hey, this apparently is not a big deal!”?

Or would it, as it does in some cases, mean that the couple, who know that what they are doing is wrong, conclude that Aunt Betty still loves them and maybe is even leaving the door open for them to come to their senses and return to the practice of their faith once their marriage situation is resolved?

We must return to the other question: Why is this couple not following the laws of the Church, which their Catholic baptism obliges them to follow? Were they poorly catechized? Do they not care about their faith and hence, about their eternal destiny?

As a parent, you are presumably quite concerned about their well-being.

Have you, or someone else close to them, taken them aside and said, “You need to get yourself married in the Church. It’s not just about window dressing. It’s about the state of your souls. Here’s Fr. Gelasius’ phone number. Please call him.  Talk this over with him. Please.”

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , | 48 Comments

Sr. Simone “the Contemplative” Campbell

Simone CampbellI read a story about Sr. Simone Campbell, of Nuns on the Bus fame.  You will remember how she lobbies constantly and vocally for the platform of the Party of Death (aka Democrats) including abortion-promoting Obamacare (aka Unaffordable Care Act).

Sr. Campbell was at a conference in Rome, talking.  Talking, she said, inter alia:


Sister Campbell, whose religious congregation is rooted in the Benedictine tradition, said that “the biggest problem is mistaking spiritual leadership for rule enforcement; they don’t know the real spiritual high, the journey of the contemplative way of knowing what the Spirit who is alive in our midst is about.”

At the conference, after listening to women refugees from Rwanda, Syria and Burundi, a millennial woman from Australia and two older women from India and England talk about their struggles for justice and what their faith has meant to them, Sister Campbell remarked, “I really believe that the church needs a contemplative renewal, and maybe that’s what women are going to bring to it.

The contemplative way has been an integral part of her own life journey. It was so back in 1978 when, after gaining her doctorate in law, she founded the Community Law Center in Oakland, Calif., and for the next 18 years was its lead attorney, serving the poor. It has been so also since 2004, when she began her work as executive director of Network and a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. “I lobby from a contemplative stance in D.C., and it’s about the deep listening to the Spirit moving among us, to the deep needs of our people, and letting your heart be broken. That’s what we’re called to do,” she said.


Contemplative, eh?  For a contemplative listener she sure talks a lot.

“Contemplative”… her word, repeated, not mine.

If Sister thinks world needs a “contemplative renewal” from women, especially women religious, perhaps she should set the example and… pipe down and contemplate.

Am I getting this wrong?

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in Liberals, Women Religious | Tagged , | 30 Comments

15 March – Wherein Fr Z rants about the #IdesOfMarch

ides of march groupsWe call today the Ides of March, made especially famous in the English speaking world by Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar.

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

If someone were to ask you today “What are Ides?”, could you give an explanation?

Romans had three special days each month which were supposed to relate to the cycles of the moon. The first days of the month were the Kalends. Kalends gives us our word “calendar”, of course. The origin of this strange Latin word, with a K, is fuzzy. K in Latin immediately makes us suspect that there is something very ancient going on or perhaps something Greek. In this case, some think that Kalends comes from an announcement about the New Moon made to Juno on the Capitoline Hill, “kalo Iuno Novella… I call you, New Juno”. Who knows. Going on, the Nones fell either on the 5th in short months or 7th in longer months. The Ides fell either on the 13th or the 15th, depending on the month. Romans thought even numbered days were unlucky, so they jumped over them and didn’t hold religious events on them. Romans counted dates of the month backwards from these three days. Today, 15 March, is the Ides of March, tomorrow will be “ante diem xvii Kalendas Apriles… 17 days before the Kalends of April”. Don’t worry that that doesn’t seem to add up. Romans counted days a little differently than we do.

Here is a mnemonic poem to help remember when the Ides and other days fall in a month. It varies. This is from Gildersleeve’s Latin Grammar reworked by Lodge or what we call “Gildersleeve & Lodge” (my preferred grammar – UK HERE):

“In March, July, October, May,
The Ides are on the fifteenth day,
The Nones the seventh; but all besides
Have two days less for Nones and Ides.”

English “Ides” is from Latin Idus (always plural feminine) comes probably from Etruscan iduo, “to divide”, and thus it indicates that we are roughly at mid-month.  However, there is a Sanskrit root indu which is “moon”, hence, the Idus are when the Roman thought the full moon ought to be (whether it was full or not, apparently).

You students of Latin need to know that in Latin the names of months are actually adjectives.  In Latin we say that today is “the March-ian (month’s) Ides” or Idus Martiae (mensis).  But in Latin we also conceive that the whole date is a single word or term.  Thus, if we were going to put off something until, exempli gratia, 18 March we would say “differimus aliquid in ante diem xv Kal. April.

Interesting, no?  Nisi fallor, Romans paid interest on loans on the Ides.  Caesar sure paid.

Anyway, we Catholics still pay attention to the ancient Roman way of calculating time.  In the Latin edition of the Liturgy of the Hours (not the pre-Conciliar Roman Breviary) in the calendar section we still see indications of the ancient Roman dates.

So, today is famously the day upon which Julius Caesar was assassinated.  Caesar had, apparently, been warned by various people, including his wife Calpurnia who had had a portentous dream, not to go to the Senate meeting that day.  He went.  He was killed with 23 stab wounds in the portico of the Theatre of Pompey.

Caesar was killed during a meeting of the Senate, but not in the Senate building.

Pompey the Great, when he returned to Rome from Spain, still held power of imperium (to lead troops, etc.) and he could not legally cross the City limits (pomerium) without losing that power.  So, in order to attend Senate meetings, he built a meeting hall for the Senate outside the pomerium.  It was part of the complex of the palace and stone theatre he built, Rome’s first permanent stone theatre.

At this point there was no Senate building in the Roman Forum.  The Senate had burned down after the murder of one of Caesar’s thugs Publius Clodius Pulcher by a guy named Milo. Milo was a creature aligned with Cicero and the optimates.  Publius’s supporters brought his body to the Senate House (the Curia Cornelia which Lucius Cornelius Sulla had built to replace to old Curia Hostilia), and burned it there.  They went into the Senate and hauled out the wooden furniture to burn the body.  The Senate caught fire too and burned down. Caesar started the construction of a new Senate House, the Curia Iulia which stands still in the Forum because in the 7th century it was turned into a church,  Sant’Adriano al Foro.

In the meantime, with the destruction of the curia (still today the technical name for a diocesan chancery) the Senate moved around, meeting in temples or often at the aforementioned hall built by Pompey.


The main door of my seminary in Rome opened onto the street which corresponds, according to clever German archeologists, to the place Caesar was slain by Brutus and the other conspirators, the end of the square shaped portico of Pompey’s Theatre complex.

In my first year in my Roman seminary, I could look out my window and see the curving facade of a large building constructed on the curved remains of Pompey’s theatre. Thus the Via del Monte della Farina, along the side of the Church Sant’Andrea della Valle, where the 1st Act of Pucinin’s Tosca takes place and where the fascinating humanist Pope Pius II is interred, runs just where Pompey’s senate meeting hall was. That’s where Caesar was killed.

Also, one of my favorite restaurants in Rome has visible traces of Pompey’s complex… no, not the “famous” restaurant.   The one I mean is far better.

So, the notion that Caesar was killed under a statue of Pompey, whom Caesar had double-crossed and effectively bumped off (he was killed in Egypt and his body sent back to Rome pickled in a butt of wine), isn’t far off the mark.  There is an inscription on a building on the Via del Monte della Farina to mark the spot of Caesar’s demise.

“Publius”, by the way, was the nom de plume used by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in The Federalist Papers.  In the rebuttals written to the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers on the of the writers is… yes… you guessed it… “Brutus”.

For those of you who are interested in coins, there is a super rare ancient Roman coin that is marked with “the Ides of March”. There are only 75 of them known in the world right now.

On the reverse of the coin (the right in the picture) you see EID MAR, “the Ides of March”.  This coin was struck by Brutus and company when they fled with an army to Greece in 42 BC a couple months before they were defeated  at the Philippi.  The obverse of the coin (left) declares that Brutus, whose profile you see, was “IMP(ERATOR)” of his little freedom-fighter army.  The reverse has daggers. You know what those are all about.  The lumpy thing is a pileus, an Eastern-style “Phrygian cap”, which was worn by freed slaves.

One of the things that a master did when he freed or  “manumitted” a slave (“manus mittere” a symbolic placing of one’s hand on a slave as a sign of freeing him) is place this sort of cap on the slave’s shaved head. Therefore, this lumpy cap is a symbol of freedom.

Coins are designed to communicate messages. The ancient Roman coin above says that Brutus, et alii, freed the Roman people from slavery by killing Caesar and that Brutus is a legitimate guy because his army acclaimed him to be their imperator, yadda yadda.

That pileus, the Phrygian cap has through the centuries become a symbol of freedom from tyranny and for revolution.  In the Terror commonly called the French Revolution (“revolution” in Latin in res novae, “new things”, which were always bad in the eyes of Romans… and Leo XIII’s famous encyclical begins, “Rerum novarum semel excitata cupidine…”), the Phygian cap was popular.  The cap appears on coats-of arms and flags of nations.    Once you know what it is, you start seeing it – if not everywhere – all over the place.

The Phrygian cap is on the seal of the US Senate.

And let us not forget, or let us learn for the first, time, that a zucchetto, white for popes, porpora sacra for cardinals, paonazza for bishops and black for priests, is, in Latin, pileus.  It’s the same Latin word but different idea… in most cases.  There are some bishops who are terrorist revolutionaries… but I digress.  The zucchetto is great for keeping one’s shaved tonsure or blad spot, take your pick, warm.

Back to the coin.

There so few of these Brutus EID MAR coins around because Marcus Antonius and Gaius Octavius (later called Augustus – born, by the way, in Velletri, a town I have a connection to and lived in for some time) had them all, with their bad message, melted down.  This was a kind of damnatio memoriae, an attempt to obliterate the even the memory of a person or thing.

Sometimes there was an official damnatio memoriae issued by the Senate.  In Rome today you can see on ancient monuments where one guy’s name was carved out of the marble and another guy’s name was carved in its place.  A great example of this is on the Arch of Septimius Severus near the Curia Iulia in the Roman Forum. When Caracalla had Geta bumped of in 212 he had all references to Geta extirpated from the Arch.

In more modern times, still in Rome, the name of Mussolini was obliterate from nearly every building of his period.  Near the Mausoleum of Augustus, for example, there was a raised inscription of Latin dactylic hexameters about the shades of the emperors flying about the place and the name of Mussolini (who had cleared the area and set up the Ara Pacis nearby) was covered over in concrete.  Over the years the concrete has eroded away and you can see il Duce’s name once again.   We need these reminders!

But one way to deal with a person or a thing you don’t care for is never to mention it by name. I, as a matter of fact, avoid mention of some things – or websites – all the time.

In ancient times, and even in more modern times, mentioning a thing or person’s name was thought to be an almost magical act, onomancy, which could summon.   Names were sometimes considered influential in determining one’s destiny, a kind of nominative determinism: Nomen omen… 

Speaking of the “reverse” of the rarely-preserved Brutus coin, in the Patrick O’Brien book Reverse of the Medal there is this exchange:

‘You may say what you like, Barret Bonden,’ said Plaice, ‘but I’m older than you, and I say this here barky’s got what we call a…’
‘Easy, Joe,’ said Killick. ‘Naming calls, you know.”
‘What?’ asked Joe Plaice, who was rather deaf.
‘Naming calls, Joe,’ said Killick, laying his finger to his lips.

Bonden was Capt. Aubrey’s coxswain (pronounced “coxson”) and Preserved Killick his steward.  Joe Plaice once obtained a depressed fracture of the skull during combat and Dr. Stephen Maturin, having trapanned him, covered the round hole with a hammered out coin.  The scene is depicted in the movie.  US HERE UK HERE

Not a Brutus EID MAR coin, however.

So, can you now explain something about the Ides of March?


Posted in Classic Posts, Lighter fare, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged | 17 Comments

NEW BOOK: The Cardinal Müller Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church

I bring to the attention of the readership a new book from Ignatius Press. It is clearly meant to hearken to the now-classic and still relevant Ratzinger Report (US HERE – UK HERE). Joseph Ratzinger was Prefect of the CDF then, as Card. Müller is Prefect now.

The Cardinal Müller Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church


I have yet to read this.  It’s going on my wish list for now.  While I don’t expect that it will have quite the impact that The Ratzinger Report had, I suspect it will add interesting insights.

Posted in REVIEWS, The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged | 7 Comments

LENTCAzT 2017 15 – Wednesday 2nd Week of Lent: Sins cause disorder

17_02_28_LENTCAzT_2017These daily 5 minute podcasts for Lent are intended to give you a small boost every day, a little encouragement in your own use of this holy season and to thank the benefactors who help me and this blog.

Today is Wednesday in the 2nd Week of Lent.  The Roman Station is the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastevere.


This time around, a cut from the fantastic disc from St. John Cantius.  US HERE – UK HERE


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UPDATE – Book recommendations as things fall apart



Today I saw at First Things a review of three books along a common theme.  Guess which three books they were.

Here is an interesting point (for links to the books, scroll down):

All three of these books make reference to the decline and fall of Rome. Esolen’s Out of the Ashes begins with a quote from Livy lamenting the eclipse of the Roman Republic, followed by lines from St. Jerome after the sack of Rome in 410. Esolen writes that America, like Rome, declined not ultimately “from without,” but instead fell by “sagging into lethargy and indifference from within.” Both Dreher in The Benedict Option and Archbishop Chaput in Strangers in a Strange Land devote pages to the famous closing lines in Alasdair MacIntyre’s sweeping critique of liberal modernity, After Virtue….


Originally Published on: Mar 13

I suspect that many of us are acutely aware that things are not going well in the world and in the Church.   Structures are toppling, literally.  What to do?

I bring to the attention of the readership a couple of books I am presently into.  I alternate for the sake of variety.   My Kindle is getting a work out.  US HERE – UK HERE for an entry level option.

Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World by Archbp. Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia. US HERE – UK HERE

I’ll have more to say about this one in the future. And, no, it isn’t a science fiction book. (Some of you will get that reference.)

Along the same line … which goes to show that great minds think alike…

Anthony Esolen’s Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture  US HERE – UK HERE

What to do?

Do we rebuild?  Do we walk away from the wreckage and withdraw?  Do we engage?  De we retreat?

I’ll be attending soon a talk about this very matters with Rod Dreher, who will spark some conversation about these matters in The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation– US HERE – UK HERE  This is to be released on 14 March (tomorrow, as I write), and so it is available now, today, at a greatly reduced pre-order price.   I’m putting it on my Kindle Wishlist.

BTW… “Benedict” here refers to St. Benedict, the 6th c. abbot.

Meanwhile, let’s have some Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Posted in REVIEWS, The Campus Telephone Pole, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

ASK FATHER: Only the Sorrowful Mysteries during Lent?

Combat Rosary right to bear armsFrom a reader…


Someone told me that during the Lenten season, every day one would pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. True?

The wonderful, indulgence-laden prayer of the Most Holy Rosary is prayed in different ways in different places. There are variations from country to country, ethnic group … community… etc. The most important element that they have in common is that they all PRAY the Rosary, however it is done. We don’t have to force unity in the matter of these devotions.

Keep in mind also that the sets of mysteries themselves – while not exactly arbitrary – are, well, a bit arbitrary.  We have the sets of Mysteries which have developed over the centuries.  Their number developed to parallel the number of the Pslams (150).  The Rosary was for a time seen as a substitution for the Psalms.  Our Lady of Fatima asked the recitation of “one third” of the Rosary (150/3=50 “Aves”).  The introduction by John Paul II of another set of Mysteries (the Luminous) goofed that up a little.  (When the Luminous were issued, some people freaked out because one third became 66.6 “Aves”.. get it?  666?  Get it?)  You are not obliged to use the Luminous Mysteries.  You aren’t obliged to use the other sets of the Mysteries either, strictly speaking.  The requirements to fulfill the work of an indulgence, however, ask for the recitation of the prayer along with pia mysteriorum meditatio… pious meditation of the mysteries.  The Enchiridion doesn’t specify the mysteries, or the day they are pondered.   Local devotion takes care of that.   So, were you on a Friday of Lent to meditate, while saying your beads, instead of the standard Sorrowful Mysteries, upon l. The Lord’s Betrayal by Judas 2. The Mocking by the Soldiers 3. The Help of the Cyrenian 4. The Last Breath 5. The Piercing of His Side… would you have said the Rosary. Sure.  Would you get the indulgence?  Probably.   For my part, I don’t see many good reasons to change anything.  But, hey, someone might slip and use one of the Stations of the Cross in place of a Mystery.

So… if you really wanted to meditate for the entire year on just the Joyful Mysteries… go for it.

You can pray which ever of the sets of Mysteries that it occurs to you to pray. Yes, there is an order which seems to have become standard, to the point of being called the “traditional” order. That order makes sense. It is time tested. It works. Hence, it makes sense to pray the sorrowful Mysteries on Friday, because the Lord’s Passion occurred on Friday. Since every Sunday is a “little Easter”, it makes sense to pray the Glorious Mysteries. Given a couple fixed points, and having the desire to play all the mysteries regularly, the order developed. It might make sense to someone to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on a Sunday of Lent. Fine. Even every day during Lent. Fine.

That said, I find it consoling to think that so many other people are praying using the same Mysteries that I am, and that this is relatively predictable.

The paramount thing is that you pray the Rosary with attention and devotion.

And please reserve a couple of the beads for me.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Our Solitary Boast | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

ASK FATHER: “Disposing” of the Eucharist and the Sacrarium

Typical sacrarium in an American sacristy with a sign warning never to pour away the Precious Blood.

Typical sacrarium in an American sacristy with a sign warning never to pour away the Precious Blood.

From a reader…

It is my understanding that if a Communion host or the precious blood has to be disposed, it is to be poured into water to dissolve/mix with the water, then poured into a sacrarium or into the earth. My question is, what if there is an underground perforated pipe (such as for water drainage) that leads to a sewer? The contents poured into the ground could get into a perforated pipe and drain to an unwanted area. I’m not sure of any cases were this occurs, but i suppose it is a possibility. Thanks.

For those of you in Columbia Heights, the sacrarium is a special sink in a sacristy whose pipe drain goes down into the earth rather than into a septic or sewage system.   Anything that has to do with the Eucharist or other blessed objects shouldn’t be put into the sewage system.  Rather, it should be put onto or into the ground.  Hence, priests would themselves rinse sacred linens for Mass (because their hands are consecrated).  After they are rinsed then others can take care of them.  The water for the first rinsing would go down the sacrarium or, sacrarium lacking, onto the ground.

There are a couple things to consider.

First and foremost, the Eucharist must never never never be “thrown away”, simply disposed of.  That crime incurs an automatic excommunication, the lifting of which is reserved to the Holy See or those confessors to whom the Holy See grants the faculty.

In the Latin Code of Canon Law we find:

can. 1367: Qui species consecratas abicit aut in sacrilegum finem abducit vel retinet in excommunicationem latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatam incurrit; clericus praeterea alia poena, non exclusa dimissione e statu clericali, puniri potest … A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state..

The word abicit, abicere, means here “throw away”, and this was clarified by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, at their plenary session on 4 June 1999, as not … not… being restricted to “throw away” in a spirit of contempt, or intent to do dishonor.  It really does mean “throw away”, which is what happens when you put a consecrated Host or the Precious Blood down a sacrarium without first making sure that the substance of the same is first broken down (by dissolving).  Precious Blood, of course, should be consumed.

That said, in the case of any objectively sinful act which incurs an excommunication (e.g. throwing away the Eucharist), there are always the circumstances to be considered (e.g., the person’s will and knowledge, external compulsion, fear, etc.).

Redemptionis Sacramentum distinguished different levels of liturgical abuses.  The worst are in the category graviora delicata (graver crimes).  Among the graviora delicta is throwing away the Eucharist (cf. RS 172).   This grave crime is reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

To the question.

You have to trust that the sacrarium was made properly and that it is functioning in the intended way.

We are not obliged to tear the church building apart and excavate to verify that the sacrarium pipe is doing its job.  Nor do we have to send optics down the pipe.  If there is a sacrarium, we can be morally certain that it is doing its work.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Canon Law, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments