Brief explanation of “heroic virtue” v. “ordinary virtue” in light of the new path to beatification.

Pope Francis, yesterday, issued a document by which he established a third iter or path for a process of beatification.

Hitherto, in processes for beatification, unless one is determined to have been a martyr, it has been necessary for a “Servant of God” (someone for whom a cause has been opened) to be shown through proofs (“documents, writings, interviews, etc.”) that he lived a life of “heroic virtue”.  So, there were two main paths to beatification: martyrdom or the life of virtue, (which is almost a distinction without a difference, since the Church holds that in the moment of martyrdom, the martyr witnesses also to the virtues of the Christian Faith).

Now, there will be three main paths, the two aforementioned and also the path of “offer of life… oblatio vitae“.

(There are actually a couple more paths, which are uncommon.  There are the rare historic cases which fall into a narrow band of years between legislated processes – St. Juan Diego, for example.  There are also “equivalent” canonizations, which sort of ratify what the people of God have held over time, as in the case of St. Hildegard of Bingen, formally declared by Benedict XVI.  These are not common.)

The criteria for oblatio vitae include: a) the free and willing offering of life and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of certain death and in a brief time limit; b) the exercise, at least in an ordinary degree, of the Christian virtues before the offering of life and, thereafter, until death.  Again, this path describes a person who has during life been living a virtuous life, but in an ordinary rather than extraordinary and heroic way, who for true charity (properly understood as sacrificial love of God and neighbor exemplifying Christ’s own sacrificial love) performs some act which results in death in a short period of time and because of the act performed.

Of great important in this new path is the necessity that it be shown that the person lived a virtuous life before the act of charity that lead to death, and that the act that resulted in death was performed from true charity properly understood.

After that, just as in the cases of martyrdom and of the life of heroic virtue, there must also be a reputation of sanctity and a miracle for beatification, etc., as in the other two paths.

This new document establishing the third path of oblatio vitae has resulted in some confusion, some of which I believe may stem from a lack of understanding of what the life of heroic virtue is.  Clarifying that might help people understand what a life of ordinary virtue is.

Back in 2012 when Paul VI was declared “Venerable”, I wrote an explanation of “heroic virtue”.

Here is what I wrote (touched up and expanded):


Recently [2012], the Congregation for Causes of Saints issued the decree concerning the “heroic virtues” of then-Servant of God Paul VI.  The decree has now been promulgated by the Roman Pontiff.  Thus, we may now call Paul VI “Venerable”. [Since then he was beatified in 2014.]

What was at issue in the cause for beatification of Paul VI.  Since Pope Paul was not martyred, the formal process was undertaken to determine if Paul VI lived a life of “heroic virtue”.

Some people in discussion under another entry are saying things such as “Paul issued Humanae vitae!  That sure was heroic! I’d canonize him for that!”

“Heroic virtue” and doing heroic things are not the same.

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are about to say.  “Heroic virtue?  Really?  How can any of us aspire to such a thing!  That’s sounds terribly difficult!”

It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

We are all called to be saints.  God wouldn’t ask something of us that isn’t possible.  And when He asks things that are hard, He also provides the means and the occasions.

Even in your suffering, for example, or your obscurity, you can serve Him in a holy way.  God knew you before the creation of the material universe.  He called you into being now, in this world.  Of all the possible worlds God could have created, He created this world, into which you would be born. He has a plan and purpose your you, if you will embrace it.

Back to a virtuous life lived in a “heroic” way.

Perhaps we should spend just a moment on what “heroic” virtue is all about.   It sounds dramatic and, frankly, unattainable by most people.

The term “heroic” comes from Greek (heros).  It points to valor, courage.  The term “heroic virtue” came into the west with a translation of Aristotle’s Nicomacheam Ethics by Robert Grossatesta (+1253).  From there it was brought into the the writings of scholastic philosophers, such as St. Thomas Aquinas.    It was more fully elaborated by the amazing Prospero Lambertini, who was elected Pope and took the name Benedict XIV.  [SWAG HERE!] After that, it became a common term when dealing with saints and causes of saints.

The supreme “heroic” Christian is the martyr, who especially in the moment of martyrdom exemplifies the charity that the Lord taught from the Cross.   So, that is a precise act of a Christian.  In the moment of true martyrdom, the martyr is said to manifest Christian virtues in a heroic way.

But “heroic” can also be applied to a large arc of a Christian’s life.

Every person is called to live in union with the Trinity, in charity.  In this life, we can only strive to live this way.  Only in the next life will we truly attain what we were called to.  Nevertheless, this life is what we have now.  By baptism we became members of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit, the adopted children of the Father.  We can begin to live the life of charity and other virtues now, to the best degree we can, with the help of God’s grace.

Effort and grace, both.

It takes both, our elbow grease (we are not Quietists) and God’s grace (we are not Pelagians).

We live in this fallen world, in this vale of tears, with wounds to our intellects and will, constantly dealing with the world, the flesh and the devil. We are called to holiness.  We are actually called to holiness in a heroic degree.  Let’s understand “heroic” properly.

The “heroism” to which we are called does not consist mainly in great or famous or dramatic acts or accomplishments.  It might include those, but it does not mainly consist of those.  Every person has the possibility of this sort of heroism, even if he does nothing spectacular.  Don’t confuse “spectacular” with “hard” or “hard” with “spectacular” or “heroic” with “public”.  Some situations in which we are called to exercise virtues can be very hard indeed, although they are not very “spectacular”, in the sense that they are highly visible or they require some amazing feat of daring do.

When it comes to the causes of saints, very often people with more dramatic or famous lives come to the attention of others, and therefore they are more likely to be the subjects of causes.

Living a virtuous life even in the tedium of routine or the obscurity of everyday living can be heroic, although it is more likely to be virtuous in a more ordinary way.  That doesn’t mean that a life of ordinary virtue isn’t difficult!  And depending on the circumstances it can also be heroic! Virtues are habits: they are “easy” for the person to perform even when the going get’s tough because they have become part and parcel of a person’s life.

Accepting God’s will, living in conformity with God’s will is the true test of a Christian.  When the circumstances are especially challenging, that is the essence of “heroic” virtue, not what appears outwardly to be heroic, although that may also be heroic, as in the dramatic case of the martyr.

Furthermore, people don’t, except by a rare gift from God, instantly or easily attain the state of living a life of virtue heroically.

Virtues are habits.  Some virtues, the theological virtues, are infused into us by God with baptism and sacraments.  They “dwell” in us “habitually” (“dwell” and “habit” are etymologically related… think of a “habitat” where critters “dwell”).  Virtues are habits, good practices and attitudes which are in us to a degree that it is easy for us to do them rather than hard.  This usually takes time and maturity.  We don’t suddenly, except by a special grace, become virtuous.  It can take a whole lifetime and many stumbles along the way.

With God’s help we must strive in the concrete details of our lives to avoid faults and even small imperfections, even if we don’t always succeed.  We have to want to succeed and try to succeed and make progress, not giving in to discouragement or, worse, despair, accepting God’s will and going forward with humility.


All the circumstances of our lives play a role in our living as Christians.  Each one of us is born into a particular time and place.   God gives different gifts to different people.  There is no one way to live as a Christian, except for the common calling to holiness.  We cannot be, however, content with mere mediocrity.

So, “ordinary virtue” consists mainly in living habitually in the state of grace, hating sin and imperfections and striving to overcome them while carrying out one’s vocation, always accepting God’s will with faith, hope and charity as we go forward during these short years on earth toward the goal of heaven, trusting that God’s providence guides all things.  A person does this well and promptly in the ordinary circumstances of life, even when hard, because they have the habits of doing these things. They are so ingrained, that they are done with a certain ease, even when it is challenging.

The virtuous Christian life may have moments which are dramatic and famous.  It will probably be rather plain and obscure.

But it is not mediocre.


So, “heroic virtue” describes unusual control of passions, as well as readiness and ease of living well, beyond what is considered common.  Benedict XIV (whose legislation and theology for causes remains at the heart of the modern processes for beatification and martyrdom) held that in the matter of heroic virtue the matter must also be difficult enough to bring out uncommon spiritual energy and the practice of the virtues and works must be unusually prompt, joyful, unhesitating and habitual.

Those are some thoughts about “heroic virtue”, so that when you hear the term, you don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the person in question was working miracles while alive, or was going without food in a cave for thirty years, or levitating off the ground at the mention of the Holy Name.  Also, you don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that the life of virtue, if not heroic, is “ordinary” in the sense of not very hard, humdrum, no big deal.



So that’s a touch up of what I wrote some years ago.  I cut out some bits that would most certainly lead to rabbit holes of dimensions so great that they might suck in entire galaxies.

The moderation queue is ON.

FINALLY: Don’t forget to pray for miracles!  If you don’t ask for them, they won’t be given.

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VIDEO: Beautiful restoration of a church in Milwaukee – St. Stanislaus

My friend Canon Benoit Jayr, stationed in Milwaukee, sent me the link to a video of the restoration of St. Stanislaus Oratory.  Kudos to everyone who brought that work of charity about.  It is a great contribution to the cause.

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A priest writes with gratitude to you readers

From a priest reader comes some feedback for you readers…

I am the recently ordained priest who offered the ordinary form in Latin for a community within in parish that is accustomed to the extraordinary rite.

Thank you so much for your encouraging post, and please, if it is possible, extend my most heart filled gratitude to all who posted the encouraging and helpful comments.

I was able to use your recording of the canon to practice my Latin (thank you once again), and it was thrilling, as well as nerve-racking, to pray the canon in a language so hallowed by our tradition. But most of all, I was extremely impressed and greatly moved by celebrating “ad orientem”. I am still trying to describe peace I experimented praying in that orientation.

Thank you, and thank all of your wonderful readers,…

Thanks to you, Father!

Thrilling and nerve-racking… that sounds like another way to describe that encounter with mystery which is tremendum et facinans… awesome and alluring.


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IMPORTANT – READ THIS: What is the appeal to “build a bridge” really about?

brass-ringI’ve argued here that the homosexualist agenda has been patiently engaged for a long time and is still reaching for that brass ring.

The homosexualists have slowly been shifting the language about deviant same-sex acts and those who regularly commit them.  Through the MSM and entertainment industry the image of homosexuality as something hidden and unclean was broken by replacing it with victim status during the flaming up of the AIDS epidemic in certain populations.  Then the victim image had to be broken and replaced, which was accomplished through cool and with it characters in TV shows and other culture movers.  Think of the absurdly high percentage of homosexuals in TV shows, increasing every year.  I’ll bet you can’t turn on a TV series now and not find it filled with deviants.  BUT!  They are the cool and emotionally sensitive ones, who have answers for the dysfunctional and often less attractive “hetero” characters.

Fuse this culture shift with the rise of no-fault divorce and nearly universal contraception and we have the perfect deadly storm that can rip the sexual act conceptually away from marriage (what’s that?) and procreation (what’s that?).

Now that subcultures are multiplying like viruses, we are just about ready, I think, for the next stage of the assault on the human person and God’s plan.  Not content for legalization of same-sex “marriage”, the next phase of the homosexualist agenda will soon be implemented: lowering of the age of consent (aka the aforementioned the brass ring).

With that horrific thought – and I’m right and you know it – I direct your gaze now to Catholic World Report where there is an important piece about the “bridge” building that Jesuit homosexualist activist James Martin wants to build instead of the bridge that the Church has and can build.

Remember, the agenda has its agents within the Church.

If you were the Devil, isn’t that where you would want your agents?  Above all?  When ever I write about any of this, they come out of the woodwork and send obscene emails as if after all these years that would in some way disturb me. For the record, you poor wretches, I grew up surrounded by cops. I spent my youth (when this sort of thing was still possible) in police stations looking at crime and homicide scene photos and hearing about the cases my folks and their colleagues investigated, raids they conducted.  Some of it was really really bad, the stuff of nightmares, which I occasionally did have.  And now I’ve been a priest with over a quarter of a century of hearing confessions under my belt.  Priests hear it all.  We hear it and hear it and don’t even blink, except to feel compassion and admiration for the courage of those making their confessions.  I’ve heard it all.  We see it all too, including things like bodies broken on train tracks and poor souls in burn units and mental health wards.  And yet you wretched dopes think that sending hate mail with perversion is somehow going to be effective?  You poor sick dupes.  I pray for you.  But… if you send a threat… I’ll pray for you too, but you’ll also have a whole new experience.  But I digress.

Let’s have a good chunk of the CWR piece so you can get the sense before going over there and getting the rest.  I’ll provide some signposts

Re-Building a Bridge: The connection between contraception and the “LGBT community”
by Jim Russell [a deacon in the Archdiocese of St. Louis]

We’ve arrived at the end of the road—and we stare into a massive, rippled fun-house mirror that shows us in its own twisted reflection the extent of the monumental destruction our journey really caused.

Let’s build a bridge. No—not that bridge. Not a warm, fuzzy, attention-getting bridge between the Church and the ‘LGBT Community,’ whose architects are misguided masters of error, ambiguity, confusion, and dissent.  Don’t waste your time. Across the globe, we already have built more than a hundred bridges that actually lead to a Catholic sanctuary for those with same-sex attraction. It’s called the Courage apostolate, along with its companion apostolate for families of those with SSA, called EnCourage.

No, the bridge we really need to build right now is replacement for the bridge that was burned and destroyed over the last century or more.  [Did you get that?  Over a quarter of a century or more.  And this is what Fr. Murray wrote about the other day when he clearly described the pernicious agenda in the Jesuit writer’s book… which did not have an imprimi potest or imprimatur but which did have a nihil obstat from the Jesuit’s superior.] We need to come to terms with how we’ve wandered so far away from the truth of who we really are as human persons. We need to look back on the road we’ve traveled and find a way back to the smoldering ash and timber of the bridge we first crossed and then set ablaze long ago.

We need to rebuild that bridge so that we can get back home where we belong.

Here’s the problem: it’s been about 150 years since we were really “home,” [that’s more than a quarter of a century… right?  What’s up with that?] and most folks alive today have no idea what that home looks like. Before we can go back, we need to rediscover what “home” really is and how we moved so far away from it.

From the beginning (two centuries ago) it was not so…

Many Catholics today already possess the intuition that there is a crucial link, so to speak, between Humanae Vitae and homosexuality. They can see how the severing of the unitive and procreative meanings of marital relations—and the reduction of marital relations to mere “sex”—paved the way for the ideologies of “orientation” and “gender” that generate so-called “sexual minorities” and “sexual identities.” [Yep.  That’s what I’ve been saying.]

Yet, the genie was let out of the bottle so long ago that most of us can no longer see just how glaringly obvious this connection really is. To get a glimpse, one needs to go back to the beginning of the ideological roots that gave us “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” and spawned the chaos we have now.

[NB] A show of hands, please: How many of you know that the term “heterosexual” was originally used to describe a condition that was considered, in clinical terms, like the term “homosexual,” to be “morbid” or “pathological”?

That’s right. These terms were first brought into use in the last decades of the 19th-century by psychologists seeking to classify sexual attractions, emotions, and acts—not persons, not “identities”—associated with sexual abnormality. Of course, this begs the question—if even “heterosexual” was pathological, [QUAERITUR…] what was considered “normal” sexual attraction, emotion, and act?

Normal sexual desires and behaviors all had procreative sex as their focus. Acts and desires that directed a person toward procreative sexual activity (acts that properly could lead to procreation) were considered “normal.” Acts and desires reflecting a “morbid passion” for non-procreative sex acts with someone of the other sex were classified as “heterosexual.” Similarly, acts and desires reflecting a “morbid passion” for obviously non-procreative sex acts with someone of the same sex were classified as “homosexual.” How many people are aware of this?

The original thinking of those who popularized the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” was aligned with the natural-law truths upheld by the Catholic Church regarding God’s plan that the only normal and natural expression of sexual behavior is marital relations that are always open to procreation. Frustrating the procreative potential of sexual activity was always wrong. It is what so many psychologists of that late 19th century saw as “pathological.”

The seismic shift away from this thinking occurred mainly in the early 20th century—because of the birth control movement. The more socially acceptable birth control became, the greater the need to eliminate the procreative framework associated with categorizing non-procreative heterosexual behavior as “abnormal.” The “Roaring” 1920s reflect that transition, with some medical dictionaries by 1923 still referring to “heterosexuality” as “morbid passion,” while by the end of the decade, the first mainline Christian denomination (the now infamous Anglican Lambeth Conference of 1930) allowed the use of contraception by its members.

And so the new “normal” emerged [Isn’t there a TV show by that name?] —the term “heterosexual” was untethered from its “morbid” status and “procreative sex” fell by the wayside as a norm. A new norm began to emerge: the bright line between normal and abnormal was no longer whether your acts were procreative or non-procreative, but was instead about “who” your sex partner was. [See what’s happening?]

The ironic twist here is that normalizing heterosexuality [If you are just joining us here, go back a few paragraphs and read what went before!] by accepting contraception effectively escalated the stigma associated with having homosexual tendencies. The “we-they” divide, so to speak, focused mostly, and more overtly, on whether your partner was same-sex or not.

Society had stepped firmly upon this bridge that led away from home, and promptly struck the first spark that would ultimately set the whole structure ablaze.

From acts to “identity”

Meanwhile, another evolution in thinking was underway. While the psychological distinction that saw homosexuality as a mental disorder held sway, more radical thinkers were thinking that, if this is the “kind” of person who commits these pathological sex acts, then maybe the prevalent view that “heterosexuality” was the mark of sexual maturity wasn’t quite right. Non-heterosexuality in all its forms was viewed basically as some form of sexual “immaturity” that could be overcome with treatments intended to direct a person to heterosexual maturity. But maybe people who committed homosexual acts were a different “kind” of person altogether, some theorized.  [This is the “made that way” idea that the Jesuit writer is pushing along with the twisted notion “by God”.  If homosexuals and same-sex attraction is also made by God, then what can be wrong with normalizing their behaviors and even calling them “good”?  Remember: the next phase, or brass ring, is the lowering of the age of consent.]

If homosexual attraction were somehow innate and fixed, then no amount of intervention would likely alter the homosexual inclination. Further, then homosexual activity could be said to constitute acts “proper” to this kind of person. It could be said that the homosexual inclination represented this person’s identity—they didn’t merely “have” these attractions or “do” homosexual acts. These people actually “were” homosexuals.


This is an important essay to read, and keep close by for reference.  He has brought an interesting new dimension to this discussion, at a good moment in time.

From the wikipedia entry for the TV show The New Normal with some edits and notes:

Bryan and David are a happy gay couple[they’re so gay together!] living in Los Angeles, [where else] with successful careers. [they’re gay and successful!] The only thing missing in their relationship is a baby. [Right? That’s what’s missing!] They meet Goldie Clemmons, a single mother and waitress from Ohio. [Uh ohhhh… not so successful, are you Goldie?] Goldie left her adulterous husband[sounds kinda dysfunctional] and moved to L.A. with her 9-year-old daughter Shania to escape their former life and start over.  [Yep, a gal with a few problems.  If only there were someone cool and successful to help her?] Jane, Goldie’s conservative grandmother, [OH NO! She’s CONSERVATIVE?]follows them to the city against Goldie’s wishes, [More dysfunction, right?] thus causing havoc for her granddaughter and the couple.  [Remember them?  They happy gays with successful careers who only want a baby?] Goldie decides to become Bryan and David’s gestational surrogate, [what the hell is THAT?] and naturally, [“naturally”… my God how twisted are the minds that write this] her family gets involved.  [And quirky hijinx ensues in which the conservative grandmother – I’ll bet – I haven’t seen it – gets in the occasion good point, but is generally thwarted by the happy successful gays who generally have the sensitive solutions and help everyone just get along.  Is that about right?]

And then there’s Modern Family:

Modern Family revolves around three different types of families (nuclear, step- and same-sex) living in the Los Angeles area [again] who are interrelated through Jay Pritchett and his children, Claire Dunphy (née Pritchett) and Mitchell Pritchett. Patriarch Jay is remarried to a much younger woman, Gloria Delgado Pritchett (née Ramirez), a passionate Colombian [are there any other kind?] with whom he has an infant son, Fulgencio (Joe) Pritchett, and a son from Gloria’s previous marriage, Manny Delgado. Jay’s daughter Claire was a homemaker, but has returned to the business world; she is married to Phil Dunphy, a realtor and self-professed “cool Dad”. They have three children: Haley Dunphy, a stereotypical ditzy teenage girl; Alex Dunphy, a nerdy, smart middle child; and Luke Dunphy, the off-beat only son. Jay’s lawyer son Mitchell and his husband Cameron Tucker have an adopted Vietnamese daughter, Lily Tucker-Pritchett.  As the name suggests, this family represents a modern-day family and episodes are comically based on situations which many families encounter in real life.  [REAL life.  Even if people in this earthly vale have complicated situations like that, is that real?  I am reminded of Plato’s analogy of reality and the cave.]

And then there’s Transparent:

The story revolves around a Los Angeles [what a surprise] family and their lives following the discovery that the person they knew as their father Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) is transgender.

The moderation queue is ON.  Of course.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , , | 34 Comments

ASK FATHER: What is “properly disposed” for Holy Communion?

Judas_Kiss_smFrom a reader…

One of the requirements for receiving communion, besides being in the state of grace, is being “properly disposed” to receive. This is something that never gets talked about. How exactly should we discern whether we are “properly disposed,” and what kind of things make one not properly disposed?

We are persons who have both body and soul.

Our proper disposition for reception of Holy Communion should be both spiritual and physical.

In the spiritual category, we should be reasonably sure that we are in the state of grace.  We should not be aware of any mortal sins, unconfessed and unrepented and unshriven.  It may be possible for a person to make a “perfect act of contrition” and then go to Communion, with the intent of making one’s confession as soon as possible.  This is laid out in can. 916:

A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass [that’s obvious for priests] or to receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible.

This canon allows for Communion in a truly exceptional situation.  Note that there must be a “grave reason” for receiving Communion and there is no opportunity to make a confession.

Is there today perhaps so much emphasis on every person always receiving Communion at every Mass that we have lost sight of the fact that it is okay not to receive even if you could?

In any event, a “perfect act of contrition” is not to be bandied about lightly, as if it were as easy as pie.

In the physical category, we have to attend to the Church’s law about the Eucharistic fast.  Unless one is ill, etc., the law says that we should fast from food and liquids (other than water) for one hour before reception of Holy Communion.  Since most Masses last long enough that the moment of Communion can arrive some 30-60 minutes after the beginning of Mass, the one hour Eucharistic fast is hardly serious.  If you are at some grander Mass for a feast or occasion, you could stuff your pie-hole with Krispy Kremes on the way up the stairs into church and still go to Communion.  That’s obeying the letter of the law and we have to say that it is sufficient for disposition.  If someone wants to fast more, that’s great!  But the law says one hour.

That’s for the interior physical person.  How about the exterior physical person?

The CCC also speaks to our outward appearance and demeanor.

1387 To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. [That’s the inward.] Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest. [That’s the outward.]

So, it does matter how people dress for church.  We don’t all have to dress in perfect formal wear.  But we have to do our best.  You can tell when people are trying and when they aren’t.  There is also the matter of bearing.  Slouching in the pew like partially filled sack of lentils is not the proper dis-position for preparation for Communion.  Shuffling forward in a distracted way and sticking your hand out as if reaching for a movie ticket or your change at the grocery store is not proper dis-position.

Let each person make a careful examination of conscience about disposition, inward and spiritual, outward in dress and gesture.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 – RSV)

BTW… I once made a mug with the text of can. 915, which concerns the the distribution of of Communion to people who are publicly in a situation wherein scandal is given by Communion being given to them.  However, can. 916 concerns the state of soul of the person when the details of sin or behavior are not necessarily known.  This canon concerns the recipient’s responsibility, whereas can. 915 regards the minister’s responsibility.   So, I determined that I needed to make another mug for can. 916.

For example:



Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, 1983 CIC can. 915, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Tosatti about Burke about Müller and Peters about Humanae vitae

17_02_01_Muller_Timone“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

The case of the former Prefect of the CDF, Gerhard Ludwig Card. Müller has prompted a lot of stories and speculation.  What is clear is that Card. Müller was appointed to a five-year term by Pope Benedict.  When Benedict abdicated, all offices (except a couple) were also vacated.  Francis reconfirmed Müller for the rest of his term.  Müller’s term was up on 2 July.  On 1 July Francis informed Müller that he would not be reconfirmed as Prefect.

On top of those facts, it seems that Müller also declined to accept a post as Patron of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher. Hence, Müller remains in Rome, as a Cardinal, with membership on other Congregations, but without a specific mandate in a dicastery.  It seems he will not be going back to Germany as a diocesan bishop.

Tales have started to multiply.  Some of them are based on what Müller himself said in an interview with a German newspaper.  For example, that he spoke by telephone with Card. Meisner (of the Four Cardinals of the Five Dubia) on the night Meisner died.

However, other tales include spectacular accounts of more of the conversation that Card. Müller had with the Pope when the Pope, effectively, fired him.

Today I read at the site of Marco Tosatti, perhaps the best Italian language vaticanista working right now – surely better than that capricious weather vane Tornielli – that he obtained a brief statement from my old friend Greg Burke, who is now the papal spokesman.  HERE

Tosatti presents (in Italian) a status quaestionis and then offers Burke’s response about the tales told at the site, for example, 1Peter:

C’è stato uno sviluppo. Abbiamo ricevuto dal portavoce vaticano, Greg Burke, una mail, che ovviamente riportiamo, avendo dato conto di quanto aveva scritto One Peter Five. Eccola:

Caro Marco,
Ho letto il tuo pezzo di oggi sul Card. Muller.
Ho solo una cosa da dirti:
La ricostruzione è totalmente falsa.
Ti prego di pubblicare quanto ti scrivo.

My translation

Dear Marco,
I read your piece today about Card. Muller.
I have only one thing to say to you:
The recreation is completely false.
I ask you to publish what I am writing to you.

I’ll just add that, when I read those tales, I was pretty skeptical.  Also, Greg Burke doesn’t just make statements without consultation.

On another note, please read Ed Peters on the tales about conspiracies to undermine or overturn Humanae vitae.

I entirely believe that there are many enemies of Humanae vitae who labor to destroy its teaching and authority.

Does Pope Francis have a secret – or not so secret – team which he has tasked with this objective?   I wrote about that here before.

Dr. Peters wrote at his place – HERE – that the teaching on contraception can’t be overturned.

About that ‘Humanae vitae’ rumor

Too many Roman rumors, it seems of late, have turned out to be true (or close enough to true) to rule out recent rumors that a “papal commission” has been set up “to reconsider” (perhaps as a step toward repudiating?) Bl. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae(1968). In any event, a few observations.

1. Humanae vitae itself, as brilliant as it was and as prophetic as it turned out to be, was not an infallible exercise of the (papal) magisterium. But rather than defend that view against the few serious-thinking Catholics who might disagree let me move directly to my second point.

2. In my opinion the central teaching in Humanae vitae—thatcontraception between married couples (both terms being correctly understood) is intrinsically evil— [NB]is a proposition infallibly taught by the (ordinary universal) magisterium of the Church. I say this in light of my third point.

3. That the substance of Humanae vitae is infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium is masterfully argued in: John Ford & Germain Grisez, “Contraception and the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium”, Theological Studies 39 (1978) 258-312. This article expands on ideas considered in John Ford & Gerald Kelly, “Can the Catholic Teaching Change?”, in theirContemporary Moral Theology  (Newman Press, 1963) II: 256-278, but the 1963 article, while very good, need not be read in order to follow the 1978 discussion. If Ford and Grisez are correct (as I think they are, even in the face of some important challenges over the years) then no substantive modification of Humanae vitae can be wrought by any commission, papal, dicasterial, or otherwise.

4. What one could imagine being discussed hereabouts is whether the rejection of contraception set forth (I would say, infallibly) in regard to conjugal relations is applicable to non-conjugal relations. Some theologians, solidly committed to defending Church teaching against conjugal contraception, have flagged the fact that the anti-contraception tradition, witnessed to in Humanae vitae, has been clearly articulated, so far at least, only in regard to conjugal sex. See, e.g., Ramón García de Haro (Spanish priest, 1931-1996), Marriage in the Documents of the Magisterium: a course in the theology of marriage (Ignatius, 1993) 297-298. To be sure, others (including the esteemed William E. May, translator of García de Haro) argue that the Church’s rejection of contraception between married couples, already part of the infallible magisterium, also applies to non-conjugal sex (sex that is, of course, by definition, objectively immoral); but it is also possible that the Church’s rejection of conjugal contraception does not apply outside of that context. I grant, of course, that explaining that difference, not to mention keeping it from morphing into a license for all sorts of morally illicit acts, would not be easy in age ill-equipped to follow subtle discussions and ill-disposed toward even trying, but for those respectful of the Church’s tradition of precision in complex matters, drawing the distinction seems a possibility.

In any case, my main point is this: before any commission or study group could move against the substance of the Church’s teaching reflected in Humanae vitae, the arguments for its infallible certainty, arguments set forth and steadily defended by Ford and Grisez, would need to be addressed and soundly rejected.

Something I don’t see happening. At all.

Be careful out there in the interwebs.  Be very careful.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Pope Francis, The Drill | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Pope establishes a new “path” to beatification with new criteria: Offering of Life

two-roads-heaven-hellUPDATE 12 July 2017:

I will not allow this post to be an occasion to bash Pope Francis or to call into question in the combox the processes of the Congregation.

___ Originally Published on: Jul 11, 2017 @ 09:33

The Pope issued a Motu Proprio Apostolic Letter today by which he established a new path (iter) by which a person might eventually be beatified.

Hitherto, we have had the main paths “super heroicitatem virtutum …. living the life of heroic virtues” and “super martyrio … martyrdom”.   Now there is to be a path also of vitae oblatio… the offer of own one’s own life having lived a life of virtue at least in the ordinary way.  

There is an oddity about the document.  But what isn’t odd today about documents of the Holy See?   The oddity is this, at least in the way that it is found in the Bolletino (only the Italian Bolletino and not the English… ’cause … well…).   The Bolletino gives the TEXT in Italian and, beneath that, the Latin TRANSLATION.  And yet the document has a Latin TITLE, which is screwed up in the title of the item in the Bolletino, but which nevertheless ought to be Maiorem hac dilectionem.

Here is a fast but still coffee-deprived translation of the first, important bits of the document  HERE:

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)”

There are worthy of special consideration and honor those Christians who, following very closely the footsteps and the teachings of the Lord Jesus, freely and willingly offered their lives for others and persevered on till death in this intention.

It is certain that the heroic offering of life, prompted and sustained by charity, expresses are true, full, and exemplary imitation of Christ and, therefore, is worthy of that admiration which the community of the faithful is accustomed to reserve to those who voluntarily accepted martyrdom of blood or have exercised in a heroic level. The Christian virtues.

With the comfort of the favorable opinion expressed by the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, which in the Plenary Session of 27 September 2016, studied closely whether these Christians merit beatification, I establish that the following norms be observed:

Art. 1

The offering of life is our new particular case of the “iter” of beatification and canonization, distinct from the case of martyrdom or of heroic virtues.

Art. 2

The offering of life, in order that it be valid and efficacious for the beatification of a servant of God, must correspond to the following criterion:
a) the free and willing offering of life and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of a certain death and in a brief time limit;
b) the exercise, at least in an ordinary degree, of the Christian virtues before the offering of life and, thereafter, until death;
c) the existence of reputation of holiness (fama sanctitatis) and signs, at least after death;
d) the necessity of a miracle for beatification, taking place after the death of the servant of God and through his intercession.

Art. 3 […]

Art. 4

The Positio on the offering of life must correspond to the dubium: An constet de heroica oblatione vitae usque ad mortem propter caritatem necnon de virtutibus christianis, saltem in gradu ordinario, in casu et ad effectum de quo agitur.


The bulk of the document deals with the details of the procedure, etc.

In the Church we have had the ancient teaching and tradition of “red” or bloody martyrdom for the sake of charity whereby the martyr dies giving witness in the face of hatred for Christ, the Church, the Faith or some aspect of the Christian life that is inseparable from our Christian identity.  There is also a long tradition of identifying “white” martyrdom, coined by St. Jerome, whereby a person gives witness through an ascetic life, withdrawal from the world, pilgrimages involving great sacrifice, or who suffer greatly for the Faith but who do not die in bearing witness.  Coming from another tradition there is a kind of “blue” (or “green”) martyrdom, involving great penance and mortifications without necessarily the sort of withdrawal from life that a hermit or a cenobite might live.  Gregory the Great in his Dialogues, writes of different kinds of martyrdom, bloody, public martyrdom in time of persecution and secret martyrdom, not in time of persecution.  He wrote that secret martyrs are no less worthy of honor, because they also endured sufferings and the attacks of hidden enemies, but they persevered in charity.

In principle I think that this is a good move… if we are going to stay on the course of so many causes for beatification, that is.   Once upon a time, it was an extremely difficult process to investigate a life, gather proofs and organize all the documentation properly, and then study it thoroughly, etc.  Now, with the modern means of travel and communication, that process is easier.  Many more causes have resulted and, because they in fact corresponded to the criteria established, more causes have been successful.  Also, it was the clear desire of John Paul II that there be more examples of Christians “raised to the altar” for our edification and imitation, so as to say, “Yes, it IS possible to be a saint!”  I think that results have varied in that project.  In a way, it is good to encourage people to aspire to sainthood.  However, once the number of beatifications and canonizations multiplied, they seems less “special”.  Also, if this can be imagined, the “truly amazing” saints perhaps get lost in the sea of “merely amazing” saints, if you get my drift.  Again, the Pope made that call.  Popes get to make the call about which beatifications and canonizations are good for the Church here and now.  They can speed or slow the timing of the causes.

This new category of “offering of life” fills a gap.  For example, the undoubtedly great St. Maximilian Kolbe beatified as a Confessor by Paul VI in 1971, but canonized as a saint by John Paul II in 1982 as a martyr, not a confessor.  His is a case of bridging categories.  The dedicated Nazi death camp murderers probably hated the Church, the Faith and priests and had no problem killing them.  However, St. Maximilian offered his own life in place of another prisoner.  It could be argued that he wasn’t killed because of the Faith, but because of his offer.   His interesting, and heroic, case could be addressed by this new category of iter, the vitae oblatio.  

I can imagine also cases of a pregnant woman refusing to have an abortion even though bringing a child to term kills her.  The great St. Gianna Beretta Molla Molla refused to have an abortion and hysterectomy while pregnant with her fourth child knowing full well that she could die… which she did.  During her life she was deeply involved with works of charity for the poor.  She would probably be a candidate for beatification by this iter.  

I can imagine any number of circumstances whereby people make a sacrifice for others and die as a result, though the death they died was not necessarily that of bloody martyrdom from hatred for the Faith.  For example, Fr. Vincent Capodanno was a NAvy Chaplain serving Marines in the Vietnam War.  He was killed trying to give last rites to the wounded after refusing medical aid for his own severe wounds.  His cause is now already open, so I suppose that it would have to be retooled in order to take this new iter.

I can imagine a case of a person perhaps – setting aside issues of the acceptability of organ transplants, which are becoming more “ordinary” now – donating an organ to save someone’s life and, in so doing, weakening herself to the point of eventual death in a fairly short time.  If it could be demonstrated in the Positio that she had lived a virtuous and holy life, even not necessarily, the life of heroic virtue, this new iter could be followed in her cause.

I can imagine a person who, diagnosed with a horrible disease, sure to bring death if not treated, might possible refuse treatment and then undertake to offer all his sufferings for the sake of a specific person’s needs.   That might be on the edge of this iter.  I am trying to think of examples.

In any event, I suspect that this new iter will result in many more causes being opened.  Results will vary and the quality of some of the processes… well… we’ll see.  Also, I suspect that some cases that may have lingered for a while might get an injection of new energy.

Is this is “lowering of the bar”?   On the one hand, there are cases of “heroic virtue” (which must be properly understood.  I’ve written about what that means elsewhere. (I did the official Studium with the Congregation for Causes of Saints.)  On the other hand, this new iter does not require “heroic” virtues, but “ordinary”, although at the end of the act of offering of life there is end of life – and it will have to be proven with proofs in the Positio that there was an act of offering of life and that that act lead to death.


Posted in Modern Martyrs, Saints: Stories & Symbols, The Drill | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

DANGER! COYOTE ACTIVITY! Winters v. Summorum Pontificum

coyote detonatorRecently, Fishwrap‘s Michael Sean Winters, the Wile E. Coyote of the catholic Left, wrote an angry piece about the 10th anniversary of Benedict XVI’s great Motu Proprio, which was a kind of Emancipation Proclamation for all the priests of the Latin Church and the faithful who want to fulfill their “legitimate” aspirations as St. John Paul II called them.

Wile. E. is all about how divisive and angry those who want traditional Catholicism are.  If only they were inspired by the spirit of Vatican II!  How placid and cordial they would be!  Like MSW!  Review HERE for just how kind and uniting MSW is.

Some bits from his recent Summorum screed:

Noooo… I don’t think so.

Here’s another way to put it.  As you watch the following, you have the sense of the ACME fueled arguments and the intent of Wile E.’s piece at Fishwrap.

[For those of you who are young, the coyote wants to kill the cheerful little roadrunner, and he devises cunning schemes to accomplish his goal usually with the help of products from ACME.]

The coyote got a great new batman suit back in 1956.

Here’s an updated version.

Meanwhile, I spotted this pic the other day.  With a few changes it could be posted as a pop up window at Fishwrap.


The moderation queue is ON.  We are NOT going to have here a combox as vicious as uncharitable – and hypocritical – as what MSW allows on his posts.

Posted in Liberals, Lighter fare, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

10th anniv. of Summorum Pontificum : Solemn Mass in Notre-Dame de Paris

I was sent a link to some beautiful photos of a Solemn Mass celebrated in the great Cathedral of Paris, Notre-Dame.  HERE  A couple of examples:




Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

REVIEW: Fr. Gerald Murray v. Jesuit homosexualist activist Fr. James Martin

Clement_XVI_Mug_02I have some homework for you.

First, read at the National Catholic Register the outstanding, comprehensive analysis of what homsexualist activist Jesuit Fr James Martin is attempting.  It is written by Judy Roberts. HERE

Then read my friend Fr. Gerry Murray’s obliteration of Jesuit James Martin’s recent book, which is a manifesto of homosexualist activism and worse.  This is also at the National Catholic Register.  HERE

Father James Martin Proposes an Alternate Catechism
BOOK REVIEW: The popular Jesuit priest puts forth the notion that the Church has misunderstood God’s plan for human sexuality for her entire history.
Father Gerald E. Murray

In his new book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity (HarperCollins), Jesuit Father James Martin has written a critique of the Catholic Church’s dealings with what he calls the “the LGBT community.”

What is the “LGBT community”? This acronym describes three groups of people: those who engage in, or feel drawn to engage in, homosexual activity (lesbians and gays); those who engage in, or feel drawn to engage in, both heterosexual and homosexual activity (bisexuals); and those persons who reject their sexual identity and think that they are in fact a member of the opposite sex (transsexuals/transgendered persons).

Is this, in fact, a community? Not really.

This is a lumping together of those who reject the natural order of human sexuality in different ways, and who thus share a common interest in seeing that laws and societal norms and customs that support that natural order be proscribed. [There is a movement in the Church to detach human sexuality from the purpose for which God intended it.  Once it is detached from procreation and marriage, anything goes.  That’s the brass ring.]

Father Martin’s book has practically nothing to say about bisexuals and transsexuals/transgendered persons. His book is about homosexual persons, and more specifically about Catholic homosexuals. Yet even this category of persons is not fully treated. Father Martin writes about Catholic homosexuals who embrace the “gay identity.” He ignores completely those Catholics who experience same-sex attraction and do not positively embrace this as their identity.  [What a surprise.]

He never once mentions Courage, a Catholic apostolate founded in 1980 by Cardinal Terence Cooke and entrusted to the direction of the late Father John Harvey.

In a book that alleges to analyze and critique the Catholic Church’s outreach to homosexual Catholics, this omission cannot be accidental.

The point of this book is not to suggest ways in which the Church, in fidelity to the teaching of Christ, can improve her outreach to those persons who feel attracted to commit the sin of sodomy in the hope that they will reject this wrongful tendency and embrace chastity. If that were the case, then the very successful experience of Courage, which has spread throughout the United States and internationally, would have been at least mentioned, if not highlighted.

[NB] The real purpose of this book is to advocate for a relaxation of the Church’s teaching that sodomy is gravely immoral and that any attraction to commit acts of sodomy is an objective disorder in one’s personality.

Father Martin rejects the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that the “inclination” to “homosexual tendencies” is “objectively disordered” (2358). He writes:

“The phrase relates to the orientation, not the person, but it is still needlessly hurtful. Saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is ‘disordered’ in itself is needlessly cruel” (pp. 46-47).

In a recent interview, he called for the use of the replacement phrase “differently ordered.” That would be a change in the Church’s teaching. [NB] It would mean that God created two different orders of sexual behavior that are both good and right according to his will: Some people are homosexual by God’s express design and some are heterosexual by God’s express design.  [Which we reject.]

If that were the case, then homosexual acts themselves could no longer be described, as they are in the Catechism in Paragraph 2357, as “intrinsically disordered.” If the inclination is simply different, and not disordered, then acting upon that inclination is simply different, and not disordered. Homosexual activity would simply be natural behavior for “differently ordered” people.  [This is the goal for these activists.  Fr. Murray identified it clearly.] […]


[… The vivisection continues as Fr. Murray provides quotes from the Jesuit’s book …]
Here we have the danger posed by this book: Father Martin puts forth the notion that the Church has misunderstood God’s plan for human sexuality for her entire history and that she must now switch to a new teaching, namely that the union of man and woman in marital love is not the only path for the true and good expression of human sexuality.

The thesis of this book is that lesbians, gays, bisexual persons and transsexual/transgendered persons have been made to be such by God, [wrong] and thus they should gladly live and express their God-given, differently ordered sexuality in a differently ordered way.

The truth is very different.

God in his goodness helps all of us to deal with our problems and temptations, no matter what they might be. One of his first mercies is to reveal to us the truth about our common human nature, including the truth about human sexuality, which is differentiated between male and female and is only rightly expressed by a husband and wife in the martial embrace that is in itself procreative and unitive.

Inclinations or tendencies toward sexual acts that are neither procreative or unitive, and thus inherently immoral, do not represent who we are or how we were made by God. They are deficits, ultimately traceable to original sin, which need to be dealt with by God’s grace and our willingness to believe firmly that God’s law is good and will produce the greatest happiness in our lives.

Fr. Murray did an excellent job of exposing this Jesuit’s false positions.  Be sure to read the whole thing over there.

Posted in Sin That Cries To Heaven | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Your Good News

17_05_05_ordination_card_01Do you have some good news to report?  We could use some.

Here is some good news… well… it’s also bad news.  I guess it depends on your perspective.

One Quarter of Ordinations in France Belong to the Tridentine Rite

In 2017 all French dioceses ordained only 84 priests. [That’s bad news… but it’s good news, if we consider the liberals that could have been ordained.] Nearly half of the active diocesan priests in France are over 75 years old. [Ditto.] In 2015 there were 5410 active priests over and 6217 priests under 75 years old.

A quarter of all French priests ordained in 2017 belong to communities of the Old Rite. [That’s a big deal.] Le Figaro comments that the “traditionalist movement is no longer marginal”.  [That’s a fact.]

The net is good news.  Right?  The Traditional Rite is on the rise, the priestly demographics are shifting.  As the demographic changes the influence of more traditionally inclined priests will increase, drawing forth more faithful men who will have good models.

Posted in Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Wherein another priest rants: Liberal hypocrite priests and bishops

IMG_1363For the record, I endorse the following in its entirety.

From Fr. Dwight Longenecker (alas, still at Patheos) from some time ago, 2015, but recently spotted on Facebook – with my usual treatment:

Blowing the Whistle on Liberal Hypocrites

On various websites and papers “Catholic” writers discuss “spirituality” in reverent tones and say how much they love the church while they support abortion, same sex marriage, women’s ordination and the whole progressive agenda. They’re hypocrites. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] As Pope Francis has pointed out, a Cafeteria Catholic is not a Catholic. They say they believe one thing–the Catholic faith–but they publicly and formally renounce the Catholic Church’s teachings and they think they’re just fine in doing so. [Remember the last part of the classic Act of Faith? “I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”  God cannot be deceived.  These people are in serious peril.]
It gets worse. The real snakes in the grass are the liberal hypocritical priests and bishops. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] You know there’s a sort of media darling priest who smiles and writes clever books and goes on TV to give seemingly sage spiritual advice who then turns around and supports the LGBT agenda. [I have one or two in mind, yes.]
Only these priests are cagey. [That’s one word.] They know how the church works. They pose their points as “compassionate questions” and “observations” They are very smart and know how to walk the tightrope–never going too far, but all the time undermining true Catholic teaching with their talk about “listening” and “dialogue” and “acceptance” and “accompanying”.
They’re hypocrites, and the worst kind of hypocrites because they assume the outward form of being good, faithful and true Catholics better than anybody else.
They’re not true and they’re not faithful. They’re wolves in shepherd’s clothing and Our Lord spoke clearly about the rustler who comes in to the sheepfold to rob and kill.
It’s time to blow the whistle on these hypocrites and call them what they are.
But do you know what will happen if you do[Ohhhh yes.  I surely do.  I’ve been stabbed in the back by these types more than once.]
They’ll play the passive aggressive game. [Which is not how real men deal with conflict.] If you blow the whistle and declare that the emperor is naked they’ll come over all offended and hurt.
They’ll put out their bottom lip and assume the spanked puppy dog look and say, “How could you be sooo judgmental and harsh? How could you be so unaccepting?”
They’ll sneak back in with their serpentine smiles and say, “Come, let’s be friends! Let’s forgive one another! Let’s talk. We need to listen to one another more!” Which means “You listen to me. I’m going to filibuster this debate until you give in. I’m going to talk and talk and use false logic and human reasoning and emotional blackmail and spiritual bullying until I wear you down and you change your mind.”
Don’t be taken in by them. They’re hypocrites and usually they are not only hypocrites but heretics. They divide and destroy Christ’s church and imperil souls.
Here endeth the rant.

I’m Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, and I endorse this message.

Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Mail from priests, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , | 19 Comments

Remembrance of things past

Today is the 146 birthday of the Marcel Proust.  Big deal, right?  It’s just that the OED’s WOTD today is “madeleine”.   “Madeleine” makes me think immediately – and in an appropriately nostalgic way – of a certain feast, of a certain priest, and of a certain cookie.

The feast of St. Mary Magdalene is coming up soon, on 22 July.  As of last year she has a feast, again, in the Ordinary Form calendar, and she was given her own preface (which has a Latin error in it, btw… HERE).

The priest I have in mind I met in Rome.  He was very kind to me.  He was once rector of St. Cecilia in Trastevere and also ran a residence for college age men who lived in community, ate and prayed together.  Some went on to pursue vocations to the priesthood.  I stayed there for a summer when I was studying Latin with Fr. Reginald Foster in one of his early (famous) summer boot camps.  Foster, as a matter of fact, introduced me to this group.  After I left the hell-hole that was my US seminary, I stayed there again for a summer before enlisting in a new seminary in Rome and diocese.  I phoned him the day I was “deselected” (yes, that was really the word the rector used, the coward), and he told me to kick the dust off and come to Rome, there would be a place for me and he’d help me find a new path.  Thus began my long Roman era, serving Masses in the cloister of St. Cecila, doing office work at the Sant’Uffizio, and sorting Italian from the less … acceptable Romanaccio I was quickly picking up in the streets of Trastevere.  I recall sitting under orange and lemon trees in the courtyard with this priest on a still blazing warm evening, and listening to him reminisce about his mother, Maddalena, who had also died on her name day, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.  It was 22 July 1989.  I had never seen a priest roll up the sleeves of his cassock before and that image and the moment has stuck in my head ever since.  Anyway, say a prayer for don Antonio, who died a few years ago, and for his mother.  Try to remember also the mothers of priests.

The cookies I have in mind are called “madeleines”.  These are beautiful little scallop-shaped affairs, instantly recognizable.  They aren’t really named after Mary Magdalene, but, who cares?  You might try making some.  If you don’t have a mold – US HERE – UK HERE.

Rightly or wrongly, Mary Magdalene has long been associated in art and literature with ongoing penitence for past sins.  Hallow her upcoming feast with a thorough examination of conscience, which can be bitter.  Then, after GOING TO CONFESSION, have some madeleines… perhaps with Mystic Monk Coffee.    They will sweeten your remembrance of things past.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged | 11 Comments

From now on you shall be fish fishers of… fish

From a reader…


Posted in Lighter fare | Tagged | 20 Comments

Brick by Brick in San Francisco

The newly ordained are celebrating their First Masses.

I had a note about the First Mass of a new young priest in San Francisco.

Congratulations to Fr. Alvin Yu.  Here he is at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where he grew up.  More HERE

Preparation for the Mass was a  joint effort of Saints Peter and Paul and St. Margaret Mary in Oakland, with assistance from St. Patrick’s Seminary, and San Francisco’s Star of the Sea and St. Monica’s Churches. The Mass was videotaped and photographed by Jay Balza, of the Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco. More of the photos may be seen on his Facebook page.

Nice vestments!


Posted in Brick by Brick, Fr. Z KUDOS, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , | 8 Comments