Did Pope Francis appoint a commission to overturn ‘Humanae vitae’?

Humanae-VitaeI’ve been receiving angry, anxious, frustrated and even panicky emails about a “commission” which was allegedly appointed by Pope Francis to “reinterpret” Paul VI’s important and prophetic (as well as hated by libs and feared) encyclical Humanae vitae.

My sources tell me that there is a “work group” but that it is not a commission and it was not appointed by Pope Francis or any other dicastery of the Holy See.

Marco Tosatti has written about a “secret commission” appointed by Francis.  Roberto de Mattei also has written about a “commission” appointed by Francis.  On the other hand,   while DeMattei identifies the correct list of people, my spies tell me that this is a unofficial, even perhaps a self-formed group.

I’m certainly open to evidence to the contrary.  If someone has a link to an official announcement that this group was appointed by Pope Francis, please send it to me.

Mind you: I’m not saying that this group is not dangerous.  No group with a goal of overturning the infallible teaching of Humanae vitae can be looked upon with joy.  Alas, this seems to be a sign of the times: let’s do crazy fan dances to convince people that 2+2=5.  I found de Mattei’s phrase about one the experts of the work group, Gildredo Marengo (who teaches at the John Paul II Institute – what irony…) to be apt: “appartiene … alla categoria di prelati che sono convinti di poter conciliare l’inconciliabile… he belongs to that class of prelates who are sure that they can reconcile the irreconcilable.”  After all, 2+2=5 on their planet, and square pegs don’t have problems with round holes.  That Italian, by the way, with the heavy “conciliare”, suggests the notion of compromise, finding a balance between opposites, a middle path.  However, we know how libs work, don’t we: it’ll be their truth as the only truth in which we are free to believe.

Like I said, just because the group isn’t official, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous.

At this point, however, it doesn’t seem to have an official mandate.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, The Coming Storm, The Drill | Tagged | 16 Comments

Card. Sarah and a new book about true compassion for the same-sex attracted

The other day I posted about some new books which publishers had sent to me.  While I have been able to open a few, one of them I hadn’t explored at all.  I now read a bit more about it at LifeSite.

One thing in particular: The foreword is by the great Robert Card. Sarah.  Anything that he offers I’m eager to read.


As I mentioned, I haven’t even opened the book yet.  However, the LifeSite piece gives some details about Card. Sarah’s forward.

He first delivers a strong rebuke calling attention to the fact that the Church teaches “ … things in the Catechism about homosexuality that some members of the clergy choose not to quote, including the clear warning: ‘under no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved’ (CCC 2357). The respect and sensitivity to which the Catechism rightly calls us does not give us permission to deprive men and women who experience SSA (same-sex attraction) of the fullness of the Gospel. To omit the ‘hard sayings’ of Christ and his Church is not charity.”

His warning about withholding the Gospel from those who deal with SSA comes at a critical moment in the life of the Church with the publication of Fr. James Martin’s new pro-LGBT book, Building a Bridge.


Those prelates and clerics who justify homosexuality challenge the Church’s genuine understanding of the human person and of human sexuality, sweeping aside authentic Church teaching and endangering, rather than helping, those who are same-sex attracted. In a phrase abounding with as much love as it is truth, Cardinal Sarah warns, “We cannot be more compassionate or merciful than Jesus.”


Cardinal Sarah’s foreward closes with a strong plea to his fellow clergy: “I especially encourage my brother bishops and priests to read this book, which I trust will deepen their conviction that the wisdom of the Church in this difficult and sensitive area expresses genuine love and compassion.” He is asking them not deprive the same-sex attracted from the hard parts of the Gospel but to lavish the same-sex attracted with its life-giving truth that we might live in freedom as sons and daughter of God.

He then recounts four important truths:

  1. Only Christ can heal the wounds of sin and division.
  2. Only the Church has the answers to man’s deepest questions and his deepest needs for love and friendship.
  3. Only the fullness of the Gospel fulfills the human heart.
  4. Only the commandments mark the path to friendship with Christ, and with one another, for God’s “commandments are not burdensome” (I Jn 5:3).

While Cardinal Sarah is often described by detractors as being an enemy of LGBT rights, the contrary is true: Those who experience same-sex attraction have no greater advocate, no greater pastor, no greater friend than a man who is uncompromising with the truth.

Daniel Mattson, author of Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay, told LifeSiteNews, “I feel that Cardinal Sarah is standing with, and supporting all of us who’ve turned away from the world’s vision of sexuality and found freedom and truth in the Church. With the gift of Cardinal Sarah’s support, I feel that I have a firm foundation of support to share the good news the Church provides for a man like me. As Cardinal Sarah says, it is only the Church has the answers to the deepest questions of the human heart. The Church has shown me the Way, the Truth, and the Life in following the love of Jesus who says both that I am in no way condemned, but that in order to live the truly abundant life, I must do what all men must do when they encounter the love and mercy of Jesus: by the grace of God, go, and sin no more.”

Posted in Sin That Cries To Heaven | 10 Comments

More on Fr. James Martin’s wickedly stupid remark

Over at Catholic Culture, the perspicacious Phil Lawler has pointed words for Fr. James Martin, the Jesuit obsessed with homosexual advocacy.

No, not every lifestyle is sinful

Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful,” Father James Martin told the New York Times.

That statement is outrageous. In a sane world, Father Martin’s Jesuit superiors would order him to apologize. [That’ll be the day.]

We are all sinners; we are all sinful. But we are not all engaged in sinful ways of life.  [Precisely.]

The awkward word “lifestyle” complicates things here. In his conversation with the New York Times, Father Martin was speaking—as he so frequently does—about the homosexual “lifestyle.” [I think we know what he means by it.] But how can one generalize about the “style” of the lives of homosexuals, except by reference to homosexual activities, which are sinful?  [Exactly.]

By contrast, a single person living a chaste life is not engaged in a sinful lifestyle. A cloistered nun, her daily activities structured by the rhythms of prayer, is not engaged in a sinful lifestyle. Nor are married people, devoted faithfully to their spouses and their children.

Are all these people sinners? Certainly. But it is not their way of life—their “lifestyle,” if we must use that term—that is sinful. Not every “lifestyle” is equal in the eyes of God. Marriage, the priesthood, and religious life are not neutral “lifestyle” choices. They are inherently good, blessed, even sacramental. That a Catholic priest would suggest otherwise is, again, outrageous.

It’s possible, I suppose, that the chaste single person could be selling illegal drugs, or the faithful spouse could be embezzling corporate funds. Then it would be fair and accurate to say that they were engaged in sinful lifestyles. And then it would be fair and just for pastors to confront them, to demand that they change their ways. [By Martin’s logic, the unjust employer, the serial rapist and the mafia hitman shouldn’t be told that they have to change their “lifestyle”.]

In the event described in the New York Times story, Cardinal Joseph Tobin welcomed homosexuals to the cathedral in Newark. The cardinal rejected as “backhanded” the notion that perhaps he should challenge the homosexual visitors to live in accordance with the teachings of Christ. “It was appropriate to welcome people to come and pray and call them who they were,” he said. “And later on, we can talk.”

[QUAERITUR:] But when will “later on” finally arrive, and what will be said if and when that talk finally takes place?

Posted in Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Drill | 13 Comments

Grizzly vs. Toyota Sequoia

Car jacking is a real threat.  You don’t want to walk away from your vehicle, unlocked, keys within.   It is best to lock the door and take your keys lest you have an unwanted visitor.

That said, here is a piece going around the interwebs about an attempted, foiled car jacking.

Grizzly vs. Toyota Sequoia

Grizzly Gets Locked In Toyota Sequoia SUV Near Waterton.
There are no scratches on the outside, but the vehicle is totaled.

Last Monday morning he came out to find the inside of his 18 month old Toyota Sequoia trashed. A grizzly bear had somehow got a door open (easy considering the way the handles are) and once inside got trapped when the door shut behind him. Probably the wind. The Toyota was a platinum edition, all the door panels were ripped off, the headliner torn to pieces, all headrests, the leather seats, the dash shredded. The steering column was twisted sideways. Two of the six airbags went off, the other four the bear ripped to pieces. You can imagine a trapped grizzly being hit with an airbag in an enclosed space must have figured he was in for the fight of his life. When the bear ripped off the door panels he clawed all the wiring harnesses out. Toyota figures every wire he pulled or clawed at resulted in bells, voices or sparks. The head mechanic at Calgary Toyota doubted if they had the expertise to put it back together. To add insult to injury the bear took a big dump in the back of the SUV and then broke out the rear window.

Fish and wildlife officers have inspected the damage and figure it was a 3 year old grizzly.
From blood left behind they are doing DNA. The vehicle has been written off, cost new over $70,000 they stopped counting repair costs at $60,000.





Posted in Lighter fare | 20 Comments

More of Fr James Martin’s whining


The question in this tweet from CUA’s Prof. Chad Pecknold pretty much sums it up about this Jesuit.

First, the screenshot of Martin’s loopy comment.  Then Pecknold:

No. I don’t think that Martin believes that the state of grace is important.  I am not entirely sure that he believes in grace in the same way that the Church believes.   At least I would like for him to clarify that he does with an explicit statement.

Who says that only “gay” (I hate that word now) Catholics are the only people expected to live according to a “sinless lifestyle”?  We are all called to holiness equally.  This is the flipside of the wooden nickle that some others, such as Card. Kasper and Card. Coccopalmerio, want us to accept: the Commandments are mere “ideals” which some people can’t live up to, hence, they shouldn’t be expected to.  Martin flips that around, but the result is the same: he undermines the Church’s teaching.

This Jesuit’s goal is the same as those who push a homosexualist agenda: to mainstream same-sex … everything.  That means that the Church’s teachings about sin, guilt, penance, absolution and amendment of life must be undermined and jettisoned.

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in Liberals, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Drill | Tagged | 34 Comments

My View For Awhile: UP Edition

I am in Northern Michigan.  

I’ve seen exotic things.

Here is a special hat, apparently having deep cultural significance.

A priest friend says this is really important in the UP.

I found LATIN on a traffic sign.

And this place prompted an amusing comment…

I’m minded of the proper response we must make to censorious anti-Catholic protestants who accuse us of worshiping Mary.

“We don’t worship Mary.  That’s absurd.  We worship statues of Mary.  Even our statues worship statues of Mary!”

Having departed my clerical friends domain I hastened slowly to my next destination.  

I am meeting friends before heading “down state” to Acton U.

They’ll meet me shortly, but in the meantime which drink is mine?

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 16 Comments

Your Good News

Do you have some good news to share with the readership?  Let us know.

For my part, I have begun a bit of a road trip.


Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 39 Comments

On the Pope’s clothes.

Popes_JP2_FrancisI firmly believe that occasions require decorum: the effect or result that we desire conditions the choices we make in outward expression.  We adapt and are “apt” for the situation.  Language and gestures can and should be adjusted according to the circumstances.  So should outward appearance, which generally involves clothing.  We dress for the occasion.

For example, as an invited wedding guest (the Lord has a parable about this), you dress your best… unless you want to offend.  If someone important, honored and beloved is coming to your home, you tidy up and put out the best according to your means.  If you are invited to, say, an Ascot Garden Party, you probably wouldn’t choose to wear mustard yellow corduroys.

Moreover, there is a connected between “habit” (clothing) and “habit” (interior disposition, inclination).  Clothes make the man and vice versa, but so do occasions.  Alas, decorum is a little regarded category.  There seems to be little concern today for the apt, the good, the beautiful.

Today at the dicey and slippery CRUX there is a piece about the differences of style and dress of the last few popes.  You might want to check it out.

One of the premises in this piece we cannot accept.   For example, when talking about Pope Francis’ “simpler” style, to use a word, the tailor remarks:

Mancinelli [A tailor in the Borgo Pio… I’ve never really liked his stuff] admits that having grown up in a different time, he has a preference for things that are well-fitted and precise, but he also recognizes that “if the pope decided to take this position, it means that there is a reason.

“Maybe now we can concentrate more on the will of God instead of men,” he added. [I imagine that he is not trying to be sophisticated here, because that’s simply ridiculous.  There is no reason why a person cannot dress well and appropriately, even elegantly, and not also “concentrate on the will of God”.  He admits that SAINT John Paul II had a more sophisticated style than Francis.  So, was JPII focused more on the will of men?]

The two main things to keep in mind when working for the pope, he said, are discretion and adaptability.

“The first day can be a bit shocking,” Mancinelli said, [Indeed.] since you have to get used to a different taste and aesthetic, but after a few days he says, “you learn the differences.”

Mancinelli had a good relationship with Pope Benedict XVI. He “used vestments that were a bit more beautiful, let’s say, in the sense that they were more beautiful to look at,” he said. [More beautiful to look at … well.. yes… that would be the way in which they were more beautiful, I suppose.]

Now, clergy from around the world ask Mancinelli for Pope Francis-inspired cassocks, ready for the daily wear and tear. [Silly.  There have always been cassocks ready for daily wear and tear.] But this new style has its advantages when it comes to time consumption.

“Once we only used silk, today the fabrics are simpler. [HUH? No.  Clearly not “only used silk”.] I am making clothes for some cardinals,” Mancinelli added pointing to the scarlet scraps that littered the floor. “The fabric is very simple, made of wool and light [material].”  [And that’s how it has been for decades now.]

Silk takes much more time to sow, and the simpler fabrics mean less time to make the clothes, he said.

Pope Francis “is more focused on being a good father, a good shepherd, rather than having a beautiful cassock or pants, or even shoes,” Mancinelli said. “I wish I could live many more years, so I can see what happens next!”  [Again, the suggestion that, for example, wearing a beautiful chasuble for Mass or putting on all the papal gear for a meeting with a head of state somehow is in contrast to being “a good father, a good shepherd” is absurd.  As a matter of fact, one might say that not using those things marginalizes a large portion of one’s spiritual charges.]

This same line of argument, if it can be called such, is used also be liberals and iconoclasts who are trying to break down Catholic identity.    This is notable especially in our liturgical worship.   “Noble” simplicity, is rarely so and, indeed, even when it is, it runs contrary to the occasion.  When we are in the realm of worship, less isn’t always more.  And isn’t it true that libs criticize grand liturgy along the lines of Judas criticism of the woman with the alabaster jar?  Moreover, because they think themselves morally superior, they launch their dopey barbs at beautiful vestments.  Again, because they are so superior, they demand that language of worship be dumbed down, music be reduced to the lowest common denominator… because they, in effect, think people are stupid.  I could go on.

No, don’t accept these bad premises when you encounter them.



Posted in Decorum, Turn Towards The Lord | Tagged , | 29 Comments

Sobering memory of a murdered priest and advice renewed

About three years ago, Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, was murdered in Phoenix and another priest badly injured by assault.  Pray for Fr. Walker.  RIP.

At that time I posted the following, which seems no less urgent today than it did then.  Indeed, it could be more urgent still, given the trajectory of current events.


Reverend gentlemen, the murder of one priest and the assault on another in Phoenix compels me to remind you to…


Our schedules are busy.  Sometimes we have to drive even farther than lay people.  But go to confession.  Take the time to do this for yourself.  Much has been given to us.  Our accounting before God will be more severe than that of lay people.

Let us not forget the petition in the Litany of Saints:

“A subitanea et improvisa morte… From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us O Lord.”

Moreover, consider well your living conditions and security.

If you haven’t done so yet, begin to develop a situational awareness. Seek advice from professionals.

This is not just a matter of personal concern. It is also a concern for those who depend on you for the sacraments. A priest in the ground or in the hospital is one priest fewer to see to the spiritual needs of people in these darkening times.

You, Fathers, are a precious resource, only slowly “renewable”.

If you are not concerned for the sake of your own person, be concerned for the sake of those who need you.


I might now add to seek, along with advice, perhaps also training.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, GO TO CONFESSION, Linking Back, Mail from priests, Priests and Priesthood | Tagged | 9 Comments

ISIS burns 19 girls to death in iron cages because they refused sex to jihadi captors

More from the Religion of Peace.

We learn this via the site of Pamela Geller.

Islamic State (ISIS) burns 19 Yazidi girls to death in iron cages after they refuse sex to jihadis


According to the local activists, the incident has taken place during the recent days in the city of Mosul in Iraq.

Abdullah Al-Malla, a local media activist, has told the Kurdish news agency ARA News, that the girls were burnt alive after they refused to have sex with the fighters of the group.

“They were punished for refusing to have sex with Isis militants,” Al-Malla said.

Another eyewitness has also said that the brutal execution of the girls was carried out in an open area and in front of the hundreds of people.

The eyewitness said the girls were locked inside the cage and were set on fire in front of the public as no one could do anything for the victims.

The terror group has been attempting to eliminate the Yazidi people as part of its ethnic cleansing efforts.

According to the reports, the terror group has taken thousands of Yazidi women and girls in their custody, mainly using them as sex slaves.


Sex slavery and rape is in accordance with Quran chapter and verse. Sex slaves are war booty. Following a victory, Muhammad would usually distribute the captives, both male and female, as slaves to his soldiers. And Muhammad is the “perfect example for Muslims.” According to Islamic law, Muslim men can take “captives of the right hand” (Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 33:50). The Qur’an says: “O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war” (33:50). 4:3 and 4:24 extend this privilege to Muslim men in general. The Qur’an says that a man may have sex with his wives and with these slave girls: “The believers must (eventually) win through, those who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame.” (Qur’an 23:1-6)

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.
St. Pius V, pray for us.
Martyrs of Otranto, pray for us.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Posted in The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

ASK FATHER: Missa Sicca – “Dry Mass”

CarthusianFrom a reader…


Father, what are your thoughts about Dry Masses or Missa Sicca? I found a Carthusian Breviary that there is an appendix for it, as well as Michael Lofton of Church Militant derived from it as well for the use of lay Catholics.

This is a devotion that mimics Mass but without a consecration or even elements of bread and wine.   The rest texts of the Mass are read through even with gestures – some things omitted that are proper to the priest.  The “dry Mass” seems to have developed in the Middle Ages as a devotional practice, especially among Carthusians.  The monks would say a “dry Mass” after the conventual Mass.   There would be some substitutions, such as at the Postcommunion (since there wasn’t Communion).  The references to and elements of sacrifice were omitted.

This may still be a practice among the Carthusians, but I’m not sure.

Gernetzke practice MassAlso, in seminaries sometimes the term “dry Mass” is used to describe the practice “Masses” of men in formation.  This was and is more important for men learning to say the Extraordinary Form, of course.  It takes 5-10 minutes to learn to say the Novus Ordo, especially in the vernacular, and perhaps 8-11 minutes with use of the language to learn to say it in Latin.  The older, traditional form takes more effort, coaching, practice even for those who served it for a time.  Mind you, it’s not rocket science.  Lot’s of less than genius priests said Mass well, after all.  Every priest can and should learn it, lest they remain ignorant of their Rite.

What do I think of the Missa sicca?   I strikes me as a little odd and probably not a very good thing for most lay people to attempt, lest they over time run the risk of adding elements that would simulate the celebration of Mass to the point that they committed a sin and incurred a censure.   It would also be harmful were such an activity result in lessening desire to attend true Mass.

That said, review of and meditation on the texts of Holy Mass, Ordinary and Proper, is a very good idea.  I especially like the idea of lay people reviewing the texts of Sunday Mass until midweek and then switching to the texts of the next Sunday’s Mass… adapting for greater Feasts which may intervene.

As I have often written:

We are our rites!

Hence, if we spend time in our rites we – hopefully – are more who we are.   Spending time with, resting in as it were, the texts of Mass can’t be wrong.  I can imagine people mentally going through the whole of the Mass in their heads, visualizing it, trying to hear it.   That would take some discipline.   I do this occasionally as an exercise in preparation for – quod Deus avertat – a time I can imagine in which priests would be hunted, incarcchildren playing at Masserated, impeded.  Perhaps priests would do well to memorize the Ordinary along with at least one Proper and then review from time to time.

In sum, such a devotion could be a fruitful exercise for those who are prevented from attending Holy Mass… or attending a Mass that isn’t riddled with abuses and idiocies from the pulpit.

A related activity might be that of boys “playing Mass”.  It is not a sin for children to “play Mass”.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s great… for boys.

The only problem I can think of is if, as they got older, they would be less than respectful of what they were imitating.  I have written about playing Mass before, by the way. HERE and HERE and HERE.

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Your Trinity Sunday Sermon Notes

trinityWas there a good point (at least not a heretical point) made in the (sometimes dreaded) sermon for your Trinity Sunday Mass of Obligation?

The dogma of the Most Holy Trinity is not only a mystery, it is a really difficult mystery (…is there any other kind?).

In their zeal to help people understand, some priests go to the zoo when talking about the Trinity.   You will sometimes hear priests slip into the heresy of Modalism by suggesting that the Trinity is like water, which can be found in the forms or modes of steam, ice or water.  Others blithely channel their heresy of Partialism and assert that the Trinity is like an egg, which is composed of shell, yolk and white, three distinct parts that make a whole.  Yet others lapse into Tritheism when they compare the Trinity to three wine bottles which, though separate, contain the same wine.  Then there are the creative, but certainly heretical, proponents of Arianism who proclaim that, in the Trinity, the Father is like your planet’s yellow Sun, the Son like light the Sun produces, and the Spirit like its warmth.   There are other heresies out there too, but these are common.

A solid review of the Athanasian Creed can help you sniff out heresies (and, if you are a priest, avoid preaching them).  Here is the part of the Athanasian Creed which concerns the Trinity:

The Catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence.

For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite.

So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords.

The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal.

So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.


Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism | Tagged , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Benedictines of Norcia: Concussi surgunt! Super nifty BEER news!

News from Norcia!

I warmly urge you to visit their site, check out their donation page, and consider joining their beer club.

Speaking of beer, be sure to look at what they have going … below.

Dear friends,

In moments of tragedy when all seems lost, God calls us to trust that somewhere, somehow, good can come from it.

Over the last 9 months, we monks of Norcia have set out to follow that path. Our home, the monastery and basilica of St. Benedict, the birthplace of our patron, was destroyed. We have lived in tents, then cabins, all the while wrestling with nature’s coldest and snowiest winter of recent memory. And we have dirtied our hands and habits in mud, working together to begin the work of constructing new buildings, and with them, a future.

17_06_10_norcia_01With that recent history in mind, we thanked God deeply and joyfully this past Sunday, the feast of Pentecost, which celebrates the Holy Spirit’s descent on the Apostles. We believe that same Spirit was there in our new wooden chapel, built to accommodate as many as 150 faithful and 24 monks. Finally, those ancient chants swelled through the new wooden rafters and once again we were able to open our doors to those eager to immerse themselves in the mysteries of God alongside the monks. While the formal inauguration of the building, which is the first phase of our future abbey, will take place September 17, we chose to celebrate Mass even with an unfinished roof. In this way, we remember: Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eum. Unless God builds the house in vein do the laborers build it.

17_06_10_norcia_02The entire first phase has been possible with the help of hundreds of individuals and groups from around the world. For their generosity, we are deeply grateful. But on the heels of the opening of our new chapel, one sponsor deserves special recognition: Leffe beer. Leffe took on the construction of our chapel as a special way of contributing to the efforts to rebuild Norcia and give hope to the whole earthquake-affected region.

17_06_10_norcia_04Leffe beer, one of the most highly prized beers of Belgium and brewed in the monastic tradition, launched a special limited-edition brew with Birra Nursia, our own beer, as a joint label with Leffe Blonde. While the two beers, Leffe and Birra Nursia, remain distinct, the Nursia name on the Leffe Blonde bottle signifies the shared commitment of the two breweries: to rebuild Norcia and bring hope to the tragedy-stricken region.

The beer is available in Italian markets starting this week. 100,000 bottles will be sold, and all the profits will go to sponsor the chapel, which is not just for the monks, but is open to all those thirsting after God. Read more about the Leffe project at leffepernorcia.it. Every purchase directly benefits the monastery.

17_06_10_norcia_06The announcement of the Leffe sponsorship of the chapel also provides a fitting occasion to remind our friends that we hope to break ground on our own new brewery this August. To meet that goal, we need 250,000 in funds. We hope that you might help us by making a gift to this project.   [HERE – tell them Fr. Z sent you]

As Summer heats up, the monks are hard at work building, planning, but most of all, praying that out of the darkness of this recent period in this mountainous region’s history, God might bring graces upon the people of Norcia and all those in Italy who have suffered from the earthquakes. The monks also look forward to the more formal inauguration of the new structure, which is planned for September 17. We hope to share that moment with our friends, so please consider making a visit.

May God Bless all of you as well for your prayers and your material support of the monastery.

In Christ,

Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.


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WDTPRS – Trinity Sunday: Explain the Trinity? No problem!

At some point we wind up taking a stab at explaining the Trinity to someone.  Results vary.

Today, to get at the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, let’s use the final prayer at Holy Mass in the venerable, traditional form of the Roman Rite as a crowbar.

Here is the Postcommunio of the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity in the 1962MR.

POST COMMUNION (1962 & 2002MR):

Proficiat nobis ad salutem corporis et animae, Domine Deus noster, huius sacramenti susceptio, et sempiternae sanctae Trinitatis eiusdemque individuae Unitatis confessio.

There is a pleasant rhyme herein of susceptio and confessio, three syllable words preceded by words of four syllables and both deserving a little closer inspectio.

The indomitable Lewis & Short Dictionary indicates that a susceptio is “a taking in hand, undertaking” and “an acceptance”. This is a substantive derived from the verb suscipio. The deponent verb confiteor gives us the noun confessio, which means in its basic meaning “a confession, acknowledgment” and thus also “a creed, avowal of belief” and more specifically in the Latin Vulgate “an acknowledgment of Christ” (Rom 10:10, Heb 3:1) and therefore in the early Church “an acknowledgment of Christ under torture; and hence, “torture, suffering for religion’s sake” (Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum 1).

A review of vocabulary is important, and can provide new insights into the deeper meaning of a prayer.  The structure or word order can give clues as well.

Today we have one main verb proficiat, coming from proficio (“to profit, derive advantage” and “to be useful, serviceable, advantageous, etc.,”) an old friend of WDTPRS vets. This verb has two subjects, susceptio and confessio. Susceptio is further specified by huius sacramenti (“reception of this sacrament”) and confessio is delineated in two ways, Trinitatis (“of the Trinity”) and Unitatis (“of the Unity”).

Often in Latin we will have a sentence structure of noun and then, frequently at the very end, main verb, with many other clauses and material in between which can be pealed open like layers of an onion. Here, the verb is out front as the very first word and the final subject noun is the last word.

For me, this structure emphasizes the nouns susceptio and especially confessio and the intimate relationship between them as well as the concepts that are attached to them, that is, the intimate bond at the moment of Communion between our reception of Christ’s Body and Blood with our confession of a God who is Triune – Three distinct divine Persons having one indivisible divine nature.

Furthermore, the theme of distinct elements in indivisible unity is even carried into the effect we hope for from the act of Communion in Mass: “health” of both “body and soul”. Latin salus is “a being safe and sound; a sound or whole condition, health, welfare, prosperity, preservation, safety, deliverance” and also in Christian contexts such as the Vulgate “salvation, deliverance from sin and its penalties. It can be rendered as both “health” and “salvation”.


Lord, God,
we worship you, a Trinity of Persons, one eternal God.
May our faith and the sacrament we receive
bring us health of mind and body


May the reception of this sacrament, O Lord our God, and also the confession of our faith in the holy everlasting Trinity and of the undivided Unity of the same, profit us for the salvation of body and soul.


May receiving this Sacrament, O Lord our God,
bring us health of body and soul,
as we confess your eternal holy Trinity and undivided Unity

Hmmmm…. you decide.

We have pairs of terms in this Latin prayer which underscore relationships: corpus and anima, susceptio and confessio, Trinitas and Unitas. Each element is necessary for and balances the other.

Humans are by God’s design persons comprised of both body and soul (corpus et anima). By contrast, angels are persons having only a soul but no body. The temporary separation of our body and our soul results in death. Their reunion at the end of time produces the resurrection of the flesh.

God loves us so much that he provides sustenance for both constituent elements.

In Holy Communion we have a food which our body transforms into what it is (flesh and blood) and which transforms our souls in to what It is (more perfect images of the Triune God after the Person of the Risen Christ).

For us to participate in this mysterious exchange of transformations we must both inwardly and outwardly conform to the transcendent reality we seek to embrace and be embraced by.

HENCE, before we can receive the transformed and transforming Host in Communion, we must be in an authentic communion of faith both with a larger group of believers and partakers (called the Church) and we must be interiorly disposed to receive the invisible benefits that the outward signs and actions portend. We must make a true confession and profession of faith consistent with our interior landscape. We must also be physically disposed, which is why we are asked to fast before receiving the Eucharist.

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for….

In the mystery of the Unity and Trinity of God we believe that, from all eternity and before material creation and even outside of time itself, the One God who desired a perfect communion of love expressed Himself in a perfect Word, containing all that He is. The Word God uttered was and is a perfect self-expression, also perfectly possessing what the Speaker possesses: being, omniscience, omnipotence, truth, beauty, and even personhood. So, from all eternity there were always two divine Persons, the God who spoke and the Word who was spoken, the God who Generates and the God who is Generated, true God with and from true God, Begetter and Begotten, Father and Son. There was never a time when this was not so. These two Persons eternally regard and contemplate each other. From all eternity they knew and loved each other, each offering the other a perfect gift of self-giving. Since the self-gift of these perfect and divine Persons, distinct but sharing one divine nature, can be nothing other than a perfect self-gift, perfectly given and perfectly received, the very Gift between them also contains all that each of the Persons have: being, omniscience, omnipotence, truth, beauty, and even personhood. Therefore, from all eternity there exist three distinct divine Persons having one indivisible divine nature, Father, Son and the perfect self-gift of love between them, the Holy Spirit.

This is a foundational, saving doctrine we believe in as Christians. At the core of everything else we believe in and hope for, we will find this mysterious doctrine of divine relationship, the Triune God.

By baptism we images of God are brought into a new relationship with this Triune God.

We become the adoptive children of the heavenly Father, members of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ in the Mystical Person of the Holy Church which He founded. The Holy Spirit makes of us His dwelling so that all the divine Persons are present to us and in us, informing all that we are, do and say. Our membership in the Church opens the way to an eternal relationship of glory and praise with the Trinity.

The promise and token of this eternal reward is how we, as members of a Church of believers professing a common Faith, can take into our bodies, and thus into our souls, the already transformed Body and Blood of the Second Person, the one who unites in His divine Person both the eternity divinity of God and the finite two-fold nature of man.

For this to have taken place, and to make it possible for us to “return back” to the Father, the Second Person “went forth” from the Father in a new way, this time in the context of time and space.

In taking us up in our human nature, He made an act of self-empyting. In filling us with divine gifts in Holy Communion, Christ renews (not re-sacrifices) His Sacrifice, His giving forth and His taking back up again.

In Holy Mass we are asked to “take up and give forth” (susceptio et confessio). In our confessio we make an exterior expression, giving forth outwardly what we are within.

“I confess (confiteor) to almighty God…” is just a scratching of the surface, though an important one.

BotticelliFor St. Augustine, in his great prayer and autobiographical “giving forth” (The Confessions), the word confessio carried layers upon layers of meaning. As we learn from the magisterial Augustinus Lexicon, for Augustine confessio simultaneously, and in a fluid way, bore three main concepts: confession of sin, praise of God, and profession of faith.

For Augustine all created things in the universe, even inanimate things, both give witness to God and give Him glory:

Respondent tibi omnia: Ecce vide, pulchra sumus. Pulchritudo eorum confessio eorum… All things respond to you, O God: ‘Behold! See! We are beautiful!’ Their beauty is their hymn of praise/demonstration that you are God/admission that they are not God” (s. 241, 2 – PL 38: 1133).


Are we beautiful at Mass?

What we do outwardly in our bodies, and what we do interiorly in our souls, must conform to the Trinity in whose image we are made.

Receiving Holy Communion is a profound statement of who we are and what we hope to be. The act of reception must be consistent with who we are and what we are about in life. That act of reception must inform and transform all other acts which, in their turn, are a living “confession”, bearing witness, giving praise, and recognizing our true status before God which can often involve confession of sins.

Similarly every act of praise and testimony of the Church in her liturgy should reflect beautifully and accurately all that the Church professes and longs for.

Every liturgical gesture, church building, vestment, and musical prayer, must be like a gift simultaneously coming forth from the Sacred Heart of the Son and given to us for our benefit as well as a response we make to the glory of the Triune God who gives them.

“Their beauty is their praise.”

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WDTPRS – Trinity Sunday: Majesty’s Gift

The Trinity is the hardest, most mysterious of all dogmas.

There is a logic to the timing of this feast.

We focus on the Son’s Ascension to the Father, then the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and then the Triune God the Sunday after.od the Father created us through the Son who redeemed us and revealed us more fully to ourselves (GS 22). God the Holy Ghost sanctifies us in Christ’s Holy Church so we can enjoy communion in the Trinity in the life to come.

Here is Sunday’s Collect for the Ordinary Form:

Deus Pater, qui, Verbum veritatis et Spiritum sanctificationis mittens in mundum, admirabile mysterium tuum hominibus declarasti, da nobis, in confessione verae fidei, aeternae gloriam Trinitatis agnoscere, et Unitatem adorare in potentia maiestatis.

This is glued together from new material and part of the 1962 Collect.  The phrase admirabile mysterium is used to describe the Trinity in the minutes of the summit of June 411 in Carthage between Catholic and Donatist bishops. St Augustine of Hippo (d 430), whose work On the Trinity was the first great work of systematic theology in Latin, was a major player at that meeting.


O God the Father, who, sending the Word of Truth and the Spirit of sanctification into the world, declared Your astonishing mystery to men, grant us, in the confession of true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and to adore the Unity in the might of majesty.


God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.

Someone may have been on autopilot in adding that “we pray”.  Our Latin prayers often have some phrase like “tribue, quaesumus“.  This prayer doesn’t.

In this prayer I hear echoes of manifestations (epiphanies) of the Trinity in Scripture: at Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan when the Holy Spirit was seen as a dove and the voice of the Father was heard (cf Luke 3) and when Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of Peter, John and James (cf Matthew 17). God “made known, manifested, showed, proclaimed publicly” (declarasti, a shortening of declaravisti, from declaro) the wondrous mystery (admirabile mysterium) that He is Three in One, a Trinity of divine Persons, God the Father, God the Word of Truth, God the Spirit of sanctification, One God.  It is necessary for true Christian Faith (vera fides) that we recognize (agnoscere – “announce, allow, or admit a thing to be one’s own, to acknowledge, own”) that God is Triune, One God having one divine nature in a perfect unity of three distinct Divine Persons. Man can reason toward this truth on his own, as ancient Greek Neoplatonic philosophers did.  They almost got there, too.  Only by the gift of Faith can we profess (confiteor) this mystery in an authentically Christian way.  What reason and intellect straive after, revelation and the grace of faith must complete.

In our Collect we adore the gloria Trinitatis, the maiestas Unitatis. They have “power” (potentia). “Glory” and “majesty” in our liturgical prayers boom with the Last Things.

Maiestas is conceptually related in the writings of the Latin Fathers to gloria, Greek doxa and Hebrew kabod. Maiestas and gloria are more than simple splendor. They express our recognition of God as God.  They also indicate the mighty divine characteristic which God will share with us and by which we will be transformed. The transforming glory we will receive in heaven was foreshadowed in Moses’ meetings with God, when He descended like a cloud upon the tent.  After these meetings Moses’ face shone so brightly that he had to wear a veil.

Declare God’s glory in all you say and do.

Marvel, friends, at the gift that awaits us, when we die in God’s friendship.  We will no longer have to grope for a glimpse God as if through some dark glass, as if through a cleft in the rock.

Face to face we shall meet MYSTERY.

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