NYC EXILE – DAY 1: Of Pyrrhic Victories and Choirs from Nebraska

Yesterday was as beautiful a day as I would have hoped for. Sunny, not to hot, and with a breeze. Delightful.

Though the roof as I Ubered in.

Having settled it, the first item on the list, on the way to the Met, was lunch, soup and sandwich.  Barley mushroom…

Pastrami on rye.

Flowers and flowering trees are in blossom.  A view on Park.   The fragrance is wonderful.

The Met was lively with student, most of whom (happily) weren’t heading to the exhibit I wanted to see.

My favorite hot dog carts in the city.  They are run to support two Marine vets.  I always get a dog, either going in or coming out of the museum.


These guys got game.

The exhibit I wanted to see.

We know a lot about ancient Pergamon (now in Turkey).  There were extensive digs there.

The exhibit was just a little underwhelming.  A museum in Berlin is closed for renovation.  They lent out a large portion of their stuff to the Met.   The Met, in turn, fleshed the exhibit out with some other objects from their own collection and various museums.  I think that, because Pergamon by itself isn’t so alluring, they decided to give an overview of the Hellenic world including Roman influence.  Many of the pieces they front loaded were Roman copies of things from the Hellenic era after Alexander the Great.

Here, for example, is a late-Republican (not GOP) 50-35 BC, bust of Pyrrhus of Epeiros, copy of a work from c. 390 BC found in Herculaneum.   This was the general who defeated a Roman army but with such huge losses to his own, that his victory was a paradoxically a defeat, thus giving us the phrase “Pyrrhic victory”… much as the what might turn out to be the case in the wake of a certain document I won’t name.   Note the oak leaves on the helm, associating him with Zeus, and the cheek plates. His features are highly stylized.

The exhibit uses the following as one of their adverts.  It is a fragment of a over life size bust of a youth, or perhaps Alexander, that was meant to be in a rondel.  It is a very early example of this arrangement, that would have been some four feet wide, intended for a large space, such as a gymnasium.   Even as a fragment, or even because it is, it is ethereally beautiful.

This, friends, is the earliest written record of a work of Homer, from Odyssey XX.  It is papyrus, c. 285-250 found in Egypt.

Greeks like symposia, which were drinking and discussion parties. They would often wear wreaths of woven leaves and so forth.  After Alexander took the wealth of conquered lands as spoils, there was a lot of gold to work.  Here is a symposium wreath.   It also has blue enamels, much faded.

A close up so you can see the detail.  These artisans were amazing.

For you clerics, here is a seminarian in a saturno.

Actually, this 3rd c. bronze dude, found in the sea of the coast of Kalumnos in 1997, is wearing a kausia.  His eyes, which are cut glass, are preserved, which you don’t see much of from the ancient world.  He’s probably Macedonian, which is suggested by the hat, which is… ehem… Macedonian.  Alexander’s successors are depicted on coins with such a hat in addition to a diadem.  This head perhaps belonged to an equestrian statue.

To the park!

Which of these does not belong?

At Holy Innocents (37th between Broadway and 7th) I took a gander at the bulletin.  The mighty pastor, Fr. Villa, included Card. Brandmüller’s comments about… a certain document I will not name.  Kudos to him.

At Holy Mass, which was a Solemn Mass, mind you, there were over 100 choristers from a fantastic choir from St. Pius X High School in Lincoln, NE.   The sang a little during Mass itself, including some of the Gregorian chant that they knew.  After Mass they stayed and sang a few pieces for everyone.  They were amazing.

I was especially edified by the reverence with which they received Holy Communion.  With no problem at all they all knelt and received on the tongue (as is proper in the older form of the Roman Rite).  Some of them did not choose to receive and made it clear through a discreet sign.  They were reserved and reverent.

I thought to myself, what must the many people who wander into and out of this church in the course of a hour or so think as they heard that sound, the choir singing, during the celebration of a Solemn Mass, with deacon and subdeacon, with the incense going and light playing?

So… the visit is off to a good start.

Meanwhile, I am now cut off from the Mother Ship (my network back at the Cupboard Under The Stairs).  The Powers That Be have severed the power that was.  The power that will be won’t be for several days.  So, I am on my own, wandering… in exile.   Dante, also an exile, uses various images for exile in his Divine Comedy.  He mentions how the bread is salty, which means that he is not in his native Florence where bread is unsalted… an vile, in my opinion.  I detest the bread in Florence.  He also mentions that the steps are hard to climb.   Once you have trod familiar steps a thousand times, you do so without thinking, even when they are uneven.   Here, however, its just lots of stairs in an out of subway stations.   Exile… I struggle along.  Don’t worry about me.  I’ll be okay.

Now, it’s off to meet a friend for lunch.  The bread will have salt.

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Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

WDTPRS – 5th Sunday of Easter (2002MR): Eternity and Sempiternity – not the same

Sunday’s Collect for the Ordinary Form was not in a previous edition of the Roman Missal. A precedent is found in the Sacramentarium Bergomense.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
semper in nobis paschale perfice sacramentum
ut, quos sacro baptismate dignatus es renovare,
sub tuae protectionis auxilio multos fructus afferant,
et ad aeternae vitae gaudia pervenire concedas.

Almighty eternal God,
perfect in us always the paschal mystery,
so that those whom You deigned to renew by means of sacred baptism,
may under the aid of Your protection bear many fruits,
and that You will grant them to attain unto the joys of eternal life.

may we whom you renew in baptism
bear witness to our faith by the way we live.
By the suffering, death, and resurrection of your Son
may we come to eternal joy

Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal

BoethiusPerfice as the imperative “perfect” has the force of “bring to completion”. It could be perceived as “perfect” in an instant of time, by a sudden and all embracing act, or it could be construed as being an ongoing process of perfection, of bringing to completion. In a way the Paschale Mystery itself (remember that mysterium and sacramentum are pretty much interchangeable in these contexts) reflects this same problem of our perception of time and God’s work in time, or outside of time, or beyond time. The Paschal Mystery is both completed and not completed. Our redemption is “already” completed, but “not yet” completed. As Christians we live in this pilgrim life, this earthly continuum, in a constant state of “already but not yet”.

We have some time to look at the word sempiterne.

This is a vocative form of sempiternus, a, um. In philosophy and theology (mostly indistinguishable in ancient times through late antiquity) there has been constant effort to figure out time and God’s relationship to time. In this prayer sempiternus is simply the equivalent of aeternus, “eternal”. Scripture has innumerable references to God being aeternus and it is associated with God’s unchanging nature. There are some 50 or so prayers in the Ordinary Form missal which begin with today’s formula and many that start with aeterne Deus.

Even though the words are pretty much interchangeable in our prayers, eternity and sempiternity are really different concepts.

Eternity can be thought of different ways.

First, eternity can be completely independent of time. Something eternal in this sense is entirely outside of time. St. Augustine, who was a Neoplatonist in this sense, thought of God this way.

Another eternity is everlastingness. It has no beginning or end. This is what we call sempiternity. That is to say, it exists at “all points in time”.

This is a great simplification of a millennial discussion, but it can give you a quick glimpse into this language of prayer.

The Greeks, from Parmeides to Plato to Plotinus all wrote about eternity. Christian ideas of eternity were explored by authors like St. Augustine (+430), Boethius (+c.526), Eriugena (+c.877), St. Anselm (+1109), St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274).

When we say in these prayers that God is sempiternus we do not thereby believe as Catholics that God is “everlasting” in the sense of being in time, that is all points of time, but without beginning or end. God is eternal in the sense of being beyond time, entirely transcending time.

Finally, there is in this prayer a reference to John 15:16:

Non vos me elegistis sed ego elegi vos et posui vos ut eatis et fructum adferatis et fructus vester maneat ut quodcumque petieritis Patrem in nomine meo det vobis… You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

By the way, in the 1970 editio typica of the Missale Romanum the Collect is:

Deus, per quem nobis et redemptio venit et praestatur adoptio,
filios dilectionis tuae benignus intende,
ut in Christo credentibus
et vera tribuatur libertas et hereditas aeterna.

In other words, the Collect was changed for the 2002 edition.

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My View For Awhile: EXILE!

I’m at the airport because I have to leave The Cupboard Under The Stairs.

The Powers That Be are switching off the power that is.   No electricity.

No, it’s not because I didn’t pay my power bill.

It’s about building inspection or … something.  A likely story.

So, I’m taking it on the road during the days the power is off.

Early flight.

It had a harrowing start.

I was on my way and realized I had forgotten my phone (aka The Precious).   I contemplated leaving anyway, but the blog has been under DoS attack recently which requires that I do server things to get it working.  Also, I make plans on the fly.   Given that Delta is so often late, we went home and we fetched it, Precious, yes we did. That meant a somewhat swifter trip to the airport than usual.   I managed to get to the gate a couple minutes before boarding because, as usual, Delta was – surprise – late.

This process guaranteed that I need less coffee this morning.

The experience demonstrates how attached – nay, rather – hooked we at these days on our gizmos.   There are times when I purposely leave my phone at home as I run errands or go for a social engagement.  But I confess to a certain uneasiness when I go out the door and The Precious isn’t in sight.

Imagine the disfunction that will result when the whole Grid collapses and people are suddenly without electricity.  

On that note, I will now fire up my Kindle and plug in my noise reducing earbuds.



Meanwhile, happily landed (softly), my bag having been the first on the conveyor even as I walked up, Uber having been summoned and met, I opened my email on the nearly forgotten Precious, to find photos from Gammarelli in Rome.  (Try that in Latin!)

They are cutting fabric for the GREEN set!

Remember the chasuble and cope?

Here come the rest.

These will be spectacular.

On the way into LGA we were on the approach that took us up the Hudson.  I usually get a starboard window when coming here, just in case. 

Not in order… obviously.

The Met!  Where I’ll be later, hopefully.



And since the traffic is horrid we, driving through Queens, passed a sign with some Latin.

I like the Latin and the sentiment, though I doubt I’ll ever go there.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 30 Comments

“I am the very model of a modern ultramontanist” – ZUHLIO RETURNS!

We like Parody Songs around here.  Faithful Catholics have a sense of humor, after all.  Libs, not so much.

Over a First Things I spotted one worthy of passing along.

by Clare Coffey

I am the very model of a modern ultramontanist
I’ve been congratulated as an excellent dialogist
I have degrees from all the best colleges of theology
I do not know quite what it means but I reject ontology
I understand the finer points both nuanced and theoretical
and when I go on twitter Ross Douthat calls me heretical
I’ve many sage remarks to make on what I call the Christ event
and just how many tragic deaths forbidden condoms could prevent

I much prefer to shun the works of any scholar scholastic
I find the very concept of forgiveness rather elastic
in short, as such an erudite and excellent dialogist
I am the very model of a modern ultramontanist

I’ve listed all the ways the church might deepen its humility
I send my kids to Jesuit factories of gentility
I’ve quoted bits of Newman and I’ve memorized my Bernardin
and when it comes right down to it I couldn’t name a mortal sin
I keep my Rahner library in an embossed ciborium
I purchase all my pinafores at a fair trade emporium
I sing a new church into life with quite a catchy guitar hook
And whistle all the airs from that infernal Haugen hymnal book

Then I can write decrials of a medieval mentality
and open letters calling for civil collegiality
In short as such an erudite and excellent dialogist
I am the very model of a modern ultramontanist

In fact, when l learn what’s meant by “abbot” and “episcopal”
When I have clearly understood why Mass precludes a disco ball
When I distinguish easily dissent from sensus fidei
And when I know the diff’rence twixt a rose window and rosary
When I can sing the Salve like a dutiful Gregorian
When I know all my heresies, Arian and Nestorian
In short when I have exercised my understanding to the full
A better ultramontanist never bestrode a papal bull

For though my theologic bent is bounded by this century
I’m of a temperament so fearless, plucky and adventur-y
You must admit that as an erudite elite dialogist
I am the very model of a modern ultramontanist

Brava!  Fr. Z kudos.

As you can tell, this was directed at the self-absorbed Promethean Neo-pelagians.  I don’t think they will appreciate the gift in full, however.  They sure didn’t appreciate the line of drink ware and bumper-stickers I made for them.  But liberals don’t have a sense of humor, do they.   They seek merely to suppress, as they did with Ross Douthat (mentioned above – HERE).  They don’t laugh because they consider themselves morally superior.  Poor waifs.



It seems that the reclusive ZUHLIO has once again broken silence, once again expanding the different styles he has mastered….

The cover art has finally arrive, thanks to the great Vincenzo!


Posted in Fr. Z KUDOS, HONORED GUESTS, Parody Songs | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

“Bless our families, bless our children. Choose from our homes those who are needed for Thy work.”

I have lately mused about vocations.  Last Sunday was the Day of Prayer for Vocations.  What I mean by vocations, by the way, is vocations to the priesthood.  Yes, yes… I think about religious life as well.  When I think of vocations, it isn’t generic, including ever sort of possible vocation.  For me: it means priesthood.

Every knows that the plural of anecdote is “data”.   Thus, I am gathering “data” that applications to seminaries are down.   I would appreciate notes from Vocation Directors which I would keep entirely under wraps!

They will up, a few years ago.  They seem to be going down now.

I saw a thought provoking post at the blog of my friend Fr. Ray Blake, the great PP of Brighton.

Secular clergy are unattractive to the young

I am told by a priest of the diocese that in Westminster diocese there are no ordinations to the diocesan priesthood this year but apparently -according to the com-box there are seven however in Buenos Aires, this year has only three, my own diocese has only two seminarians spread over the whole six year course, some diocese have no seminarians, some diocese have far more bishops (active and retired) than seminarians..
But my own rather odd little parish, ‘least of the cities of Judah’, prays regularly for three men who came here to Mass and were very much part of our parish. One is at one of our English Oratories, another has joined one of the Traditional priestly societies and yet another has joined the most ascetic monasteries in Britain.

One of the things that attracted these young men here is Old Mass, all three came to it, all three had a great love for it. It does seem to be a source of vocations. As one teen age lad said, “I don’t understand a word of it but at least it gives you a chance to pray”. Prayer, communion with Christ is the source of vocation.

Personally I found it easier to speak to young men about priesthood when Pope Benedict so often spoke about the great value and the significance of the priesthood and the Sacred Liturgy. Now, there seems to so many warnings to young priests, so much criticism of young priests, even suggestion they might be mentally ill, it makes it far less attractive, perhaps there is sense that maybe young men considering the priesthood might be better off being tender hearted social workers, rather than servants of the altar.

One of the things that is at the back of mind is that young men are certainly not choosing the secular or diocesan priesthood though some religious orders aren’t doing too badly, especially those with something of traditional about them.


In France, for most people it will be easier in ten years time to get to the Traditional Mass than the Novus Ordo.


For all the rather sad holding on to the 1970s of some of the most senior clergy this is not where the Church will be in ten years time.

Read the whole thing over there.

Good observations from Fr. Blake, to whom I send kudos.

It’s not rocket science.  Again and again we see that traditional and reverent sacred worship, hard-identity priesthood, an open door, joy and a sense of humor, and lots of prayer draw men to the priesthood.

In my home parish we prayed for vocations to the priesthood and religious life at every Sunday Mass using this…

On this note… the Extraordinary Ordinary, Bp. Morlino of Madison, has been able to foster a large number of vocations for a mostly rural diocese.  How does he do it?  First, he asks men to think about the priesthood.    Duh, right?  He is supportive of his priests and seminarians.  And he says Mass, including the Extraordinary Form, happily and often.  Consider this:

Your Excellencies… THIS is how you do it.

Posted in Fr. Z KUDOS, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.”

12_09_11_Joos_CommunionLet’s review 1 Cor 11:27-30:

Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.  Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.

Tough, right?

Does “discern body of the Lord” mean, “notice and attend to the needs of the poor around you?”  This is what libs suggest.  It’s also what writers in the ancient Church, such as St. John Chrysostom would suggest, and vigorously so!   Also, there is a section in Amoris laetitia that has this interpretation.  There is nothing in the least new about this.  It’s been around for centuries.

Does “discern the body of the Lord” mean merely attend to the needs of the poor?  No.

It can and does mean that, but that is not the only thing it means.

It also means being properly disposed to receive the Eucharist, that is, not receiving Communion in the state of mortal sin.

1 Cor 11 refers to our entire moral selves.  Hence, 1 Cor 11 involves both concern for mortal sin and concern for the poor. These are, as a matter of fact, flip sides of the same coin: if you are not (according to your ability and circumstances) taking care of the poor, you sin.


But there are other ways of sinning other than guilty negligence of the poor.


At this point, review what St. John Paul II wrote about 1 Cor 11 in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia 36:

“Along these same lines, the Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly stipulates that “anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion”.74 I therefore desire to reaffirm that in the Church there remains in force, now and in the future, the rule by which the Council of Trent gave concrete expression to the Apostle Paul’s stern warning when it affirmed that, in order to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner, “one must first confess one’s sins, when one is aware of mortal sin”.75

74 No. 1385; cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 916; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Canon 711.
75 Address to the Members of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary and the Penitentiaries of the Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome (30 January 1981): AAS 73 (1981), 203. Cf. Ecumenical Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, Decretum de ss. Eucharistia, Chapter 7 and Canon 11: DS 1647, 1661.

That was refreshingly clear.

Amoris laetitia didn’t change what John Paul wrote (and which millennial tradition of commentaries and teachings have maintained).

The Church’s doctrine is the same today as it was before 8 April 2016.

The Church’s law is the same today as it was before 8 April 2016.

It remains that a priest cannot be required not to follow the Church’s law and he cannot be prevented from preaching Catholic doctrine, nor can he be compelled to preach something against the Church’s doctrine.

Really useful!

On another note, since I firmly hold that no real renewal of the Church is possible without a renewal of our sacred worship, Peter Kwasniewski pointed out that 1 Cor 11:27-29 was purposely excluded from the Novus Ordo Lectionary.  It is, however, in the older, traditional form of Holy Mass, for Corpus Christi and for Votive Masses of the Most Holy Eucharist.  A quick consultation of the new book Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite shows you that it is missing from the Novus Ordo and is present in the TLM.  My post on the book HERE.  US HERE – UK HERE – ITALY HERE

Thus, Summorum Pontificum, that great gift of Benedict XVI to the Church, that profound aid in his “Marshall Plan” to rebuild after the devastation against the encroaching dictatorship of relativism, provides a necessary corrective for a serious gap in our worship and, therefore, identity.  Once again we hear in our churches, in the context of Mass, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord”, knowing full well that it means that we mustn’t approach the Eucharistic Lord for Communion in the state of mortal sin.

Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, The Drill | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

ASK FATHER: Eucharist carried into space for astronaut on the ISS. Self-communication?

From a reader…


I’d be interested to know your thoughts from the liturgical side. Does this amount to self communicating?  I’ve never heard of this before and assume perhaps a first(Jesus first time in space since you know, creating it??)  HERE

With the help of his pastor, Fr. James H. Kaczynski of the St. Mary Church in Texas, he got special permission from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to carry 6 consecrated hosts (which can be split into 4 pieces each) in a pyx into space to consume once a week while on the International Space Station.

Well, I’ll be.

The best solution is to bring me into the space program and I will say Mass for them and conduct zero-g spiritual exercises.

This is clearly beyond the stratospheric musings of canonists and liturgists, but it could be reasonable to give permission for it.  Yes, of course, it is self-communication, unless there was an Extraterrestrial Minister of Communion about the place to distribute.  I imagine that the archdiocese laid out protocols for this, including how to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in as dignified a place as possible.  I’ll bet they dispensed from having a candle burning in the place of reservation.

It is unclear from the news articles about this whether the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston was able, himself, to grant all the necessary dispensations, or if any additional permissions were required from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  I suspect there was communication between Houston and Rome about this matter, considering the novelty of it.

I can just see the letter from the Congregation asking for clarifications: “Houston, we have a problem…”.

On the other hand, it used to be the case that men set out to voyages at sea for months at a time and then went to ports where there were no Catholic Churches.  They didn’t bring the Sacrament with them, to self-communicate.  So, was this a good idea to do?  I don’t know. It brings up the issue of what Communion is.  These days, some people have it in mind that they have to receive all the time.  I’m not judging them, but we are not obliged to receive bu once a year. Is what was done licit?  I suppose it could be, under today’s laws, etc.  That said, clearly the Catholic astronauts are not obliged to fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation given that they are travelling and that access to a church is difficult.  Their pastors can commute their obligation, as per law.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Look! Up in the sky! | Tagged , | 42 Comments

ASK FATHER: Dying man hasn’t asked for sacraments. Can he be anointed?

Extreme UnctionFrom a reader…


We have a question and prayer need for a man dying of cancer. He is a remarried Catholic without an annulment who doesn’t receive Communion.

Not sure if he attends Mass. His daughter-in-law’s pastor said he could receive the Anointing of the Sick and Communion because there was an exception in the case of the dying. The patient has not requested the sacraments or has agreed to a visit from the priest.

However Father said that Canon Law allowed for an exception in these cases. So assuming that this ill man would not be living in sinful actions on his death bed, if he desired to go to confession would that be sufficient to receive Communion? Second question, could he receive Communion if he did not express a desire to confess?

The pastor offering the sacraments to this man is a canon lawyer as well.

A Mass has been offered for this man.

Thank you for having Mass said for this man.  Why wait until a person dies to have Masses said?

While it is true that in case of danger of death there is a great deal of flexibility given in the administration of sacraments, the sacraments – and the persons own will – are to be respected.

The Sacrament of Anointing, is one the sacraments “of the living”, that is, they are to be received by one who is in the state of grace.  If a person is compos sui and make his own decision and understand what is going on, he must be given a chance to make his confession before being anointed.   Otherwise, if his communication is impeded, he should indicate by signs and respond to the priest’s questions.  If a person is not sui compos, cannot respond, and isn’t aware of what is going on, such a person can be anointed and, in that case, the sacrament can also act for the forgiveness of sins.

He he says he doesn’t want to be anointed, doesn’t want the priest, etc., … well… there it is.

The same is said, of course, for Communion, as Viaticum or not.  If this person is not in the state of grace, if he is able he should make his confession before receiving any sacrament.

Of course danger of death can accelerate things greatly, but, if a person is able by signs or speech to indicate at least sorrow for sins and love of God, that should first be ascertained.

Everyone: GO TO CONFESSION!  You don’t know when it will be your turn.  Today?  Tomorrow?  It will happen.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Four Last Things, GO TO CONFESSION | Tagged , | 5 Comments

ASK FATHER: Date for 2nd marriage set at parish before Tribunal decision

From a reader…


My in laws divorced one year ago. My father in law is remarrying one month from now. He filed the annulment paperwork late last year and was told by the deacon handling it that it would “come through” last month. Nothing yet. My husband and I are disturbed by the fact that his parish (not in our diocese) allowed him to set the wedding date and complete marriage preparation courses even though he is already married in the eyes of the church. Now we’re concerned about what may occur if the annulment is not granted in time. We are considering writing to the bishop of that diocese to express our concern about this situation. It really doesn’t make sense in light of the church’s teaching on marriage and annulment. Do you agree that a letter to the bishop is warranted? Or are we being too nitpicky since no sacraments have been given falsely?

First, allow me to nitpick.  Some people, even informed people working in the Church who ought to know better,  use phrases like “granting an annulment” (or not “granting one”, as the case may be).  This is imprecise terminology which leads to confusion. The Church does not “grant” an annulment as though an annulment were some sort of a prize, or honor, or distinction… or a divorce.  Rather, the Church, through Her tribunal system of educated professionals, examines the facts presented in an orderly way and then makes a declaration based on those facts. It’s similar to a doctor making a diagnosis. We don’t say, “Doctor Bombay granted me a diagnosis of rickets.”

If we stop using unhelpful terminology, we might stem the tide of looking at a declaration of nullity as some sort of reward that the Church either kindly bestows or stingily withholds, or indulgently squanders or righteously refuses to grant. Rather, if we use more precise terminology, such as “The Tribunal determined the marriage was null,” or even better “The Tribunal was able to find sufficient proof of nullity,” or “The Tribunal was not convinced the marriage was null”, then we demonstrate a better grasp of reality.

Anyway, it is a Really Bad Idea™ for a parish (priest or staff) to set a date for a marriage until it is certain that both parties are free to marry.

In this case, no date should have been set until and unless the Tribunal issued a declaration of freedom to marry, stating not only that the previous marriage had been declared null, but also that no restrictions were placed on the party.  In some cases, even if the marriage is proven null, the Tribunal has the ability to place a restriction on one or both parties, stating certain conditions which need to be met (e.g., psychological counseling) before a subsequent marriage can take place.

Ideally, Catholics should not consider moving towards a prospective marriage until their freedom to marry has been established. That said, we do not live in an ideal world.  “Kind” pastors who ignore these norms in order to give people what they think they want end up creating more problems than they solve.

The question you ask is whether a letter to the bishop is warranted in this case.

Perhaps, but there are a lot of variables that come into play.

On the one hand, the bishop should know what is going on in his parishes.  Was this, for example, a one time stupid mistake? Or is this part of a larger pattern of imprudence or disobedience?  Some bishops might act swiftly and mete out the appropriate discipline. Some bishops, themselves of the mistakenly “pastoral” school of thought, might react by putting a fire under the tribunal to grind out a decision more quickly, thinking that will eliminate the scandal. Yet other bishops might just shrug and ignore the matter.

I think a more helpful course of action would, first, to have a conversation with your father-in-law. Ask what his plans are should the declaration of nullity either not be issued, or be issued after the date of the proposed wedding, or be issued with a restriction.  Perhaps a phone call to the pastor asking why a date was set without the freedom of both parties to marry being established is warranted. The response you receive from your father-in-law and from the pastor in question might help answer your question of whether a letter to the bishop is appropriate.

Whatever course of action you take, do it prayerfully, with patience, and without acrimony or an accusatory tone.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Canon Law, One Man & One Woman | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

PODCAzT 144: Pope Francis’ ‘Amoris laetitia’, Ch. 4: “Love in marriage”

UPDATE: I fixed the glitch at 24:02-24-22. Sorry about that. It was a lot of reading – with interruptions – and editing together.  If you had an “overlap” in that time range, you can download again or listen again and it should now be okay.

There has been a lot of controversy about the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, the Joy of Love, as it is being called in English. Most of the controversy surrounds the 8th Chapter. And yet many have pointed out that the Exhortation has some great strengths, among them Chapter 4, entitled “Love in marriage”.

So that you do not know only the controversies, and so that you have really heard what the Holy Father says in Chapter 4 … here it is.

The text I read, as carefully as I can, is as it appears on the Vatican’s website. They may alter or amend it in the future, but here is the text as it stands now.

For the purpose of a smooth reading, a first experience of the chapter, I don’t read footnotes. That would be too ponderous. Also, I won’t quote the inline chapter and verse references to Scripture. You can see both of those when you read the text, which, at the time of this writing, you can download as a PDF from the Vatican’s website HERE.

I hope this will be helpful to you, in whole or in part. I can tell you that it was extremely useful to me. I had read it when it came out – before it came out, but silently, Reading it aloud, and trying to give sense to the black on the white, turned out to be, among other things, an examination of conscience for me.

Therefore, I urge you, not only to listen to this, but to go back and read the document – especially so you can get the notes and references which I left out – but also to use it as a mirror in which you see yourself.

Remember: Amoris laetitia is an exhortation – an urging -an encouraging – from Peter.

We must allow ourselves to grasp what he is saying and then work with it with honesty.


Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT, Pope Francis, Synod | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments