Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point or two in the sermon you heard for your Mass of Sunday obligation?

Let us know.

For my part, I spoke about different kinds of suffering and about the fact that everything we might endure here in this vale of tears is but a blink of an eye and nothing compared to the bliss of heaven.   I spoke then also for bit about what heaven might be like, though it is mysterious.  We know by Catholic Faith that the bliss of heaven will be complete and eternal.  I think that the happiness of heaven, and the sight of God in whose image we are made, will be so overwhelming that God will continue to give us the graces we need to bear the sheer overwhelming joy.  God will forever show us more about ourselves, since we are in His image, and we will eternally journey toward Him in fascination and ecstasy for He will always remain Mystery.

Therefore we must persevere in enduring our temporal sufferings, which come from without and which we endure within especially when we suffer because we are resisting temptations.  We should strive to relieve the suffering of others as best we can even as we endeavor to bear our own.  Staying close to the sacraments and persevering in this way – will we come to the happiness of heaven.

When I say that we should preach about the Four Last Things, I mean it.  That means also preaching about the joy of heaven.

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Death can strike at any moment of any day. Wherein Fr. Z begs bishops and priests to preach unvarnished truths.

Just the other day I was catching up on episodes of the series Blue Bloods (Catholic family, cops in NYC, etc.).  In one episode a rep from the police force in London pressed the NYC police commissioner about what he truly feared.  He responded: Paris.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the terror attack on the homosexual night club in Orlando. We know that the perp, from Port St. Lucie, was Muslim and of Afghani origin and, born in NY, is an American citizen. He was a registered Democrat and he had class G, statewide firearms license.  He married a woman from Uzbekistan in 2009.  They met online.  He was a wife-beater. They divorced.  More information will eventually come out.  READERS NEAR ORLANDO: Consider giving blood!  Especially if you are type O (but all types will be helpful).

That said, the point I want to make is that you do not know the day, hour, minute when you will find yourself before the Just Judge for the accounting of and disposition of your immortal soul for eternity.

Death can strike at any moment of any day.

Dear readers, examine your consciences.

Make amends with people.

Perform works of mercy.




Fathers, bishops, preach about the Four Last Things.

Preach about confession.

Preach with urgency!

I thrust upon you the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 4:

I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober.

I beg you, dear bishops and priests, tell people the unvarnished truth about Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. I implore you. Your eternal fate also hangs in the balance.  Right?

All you readers out there, in most of the places where you are around the world, things are getting sporty. I urge you to exercise prudence in where you go and when.

When you are out and about – and I think we ought to be – practice great situational awareness. Look around at your surroundings. Watch for things or people or their mannerisms and what they carry that is out of place. If it catches your eye, keep an eye on it. If you are able to take some kind of training that might involve also learning about situational awareness, you will not have wasted your time and we could all be just a little safer if you do.

One thing I can ask you to do right now and that you don’t need a class for: when you are out and about, put your damn phones away! Don’t walk about with your eyes glued to little screens, walking though a digital tunnel of situational oblivion. Please?

Remember: We are all going to face our maker and be judged.  My prayer for you is that that meeting be a happy one – and not any sooner or more violently that it has to be, submitting all things to God’s will, of course.

From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us, O Lord.

Posted in ACTION ITEM!, GO TO CONFESSION, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged | 26 Comments

WDTPRS: 11th Ordinary Sunday – ‘firmness’ and ‘infirmity, ‘intention’ and ‘action’

12_08_04_Augustine_devilThis week’s Collect is effectively the same as one in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary and the prayer in the 1962 Missale Romanum used during the week after Trinity Sunday.

Deus, in te sperantium fortitudo, invocantibus nostris adesto propitius, et, quia sine te nihil potest mortalis infirmitas, gratiae tuae praesta semper auxilium, ut, in exsequendis mandatis tuis, et voluntate tibi et actione placeamus.

Because of the word pairings fortitudo and infirmitas, voluntas and actio, a possible source for this Collect could be the anti-Pelagian writings of St. Augustine of Hippo (+430).

In classical Latin fortitudo rarely means just physical strength.  Instead, it is “firmness, manliness shown in enduring or undertaking hardship; fortitude, resolution, bravery, courage, intrepidity”.  In the Latin Vulgate of the Old Testment the Lord is often described as “my strength… fortitudo mea”.  Latin and Greek Old Testament versions translate Hebrew maw’oz and ‘oz which indicate a place or means of safety, a refuge or stronghold.  You probably know the great “battle hymn” of the 16th Protestant revolt in Germany, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott … A Mighty Fortress is our God”, the translation of a psalm by Martin Luther (+1546).

Since ancient times the battle of orthodox Catholicism with various heresies and schismatic movements has involved the use of hymns and songs.  They help people learn and remember things.  Augustine composed a song with sound theological points to combat the Donatists who had set up their schismatic altars against those of Catholics.  This is true in more modern times as well.  If the Lutherans had “A Mighty Fortress is our God” we Catholics had “Grosser Gott, Wir Loben Dich … Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” composed in 1774 as a paraphrase of the Te Deum going back to the late 4th or early 5th century, perhaps having a connection to St. Ambrose (+397).

Auxilium is “help, aid, assistance, support, succor”.  The obsolete ICEL versions constantly had us asking for some “help” from God (who is, after all, really nice).  In those now outdated prayers “help” was nearly always inadequate because the concept of “grace” was obliterated along with the word “grace” itself.  Voluntas is mainly “will, freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination”.  This is the power of our free will which together with our intellect distinguishes us from brute beasts.   It can also be more simply an “intention” or something we interiorly “will”.


O God, strength of those hoping in You, graciously be present to us as we are invoking You, and, because without You mortal weakness can do nothing, grant always the help of Your grace, so that, in the performance of Your commands, we may please You both in will and in action.


Almighty God, our hope and our strength, without you we falter. Help us to follow Christ and to live according to your will.

That was a good example of why we needed a new translation.


O God, strength of those who hope in you, graciously hear our pleas, and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing, grant us always the help of your grace, that in following your commands we may please you by our resolve and our deeds.

In the fall of our First Parents, we were wounded and weakened in our intellect and will.  It is hard for us to reason to what is good and true.  After we figure them out with our reason or we learn about them from authority, because of our passions and appetites it can be hard for us to will to choose them.  Our intellects and wills must be disciplined through the repetition of choices and actions in the right times, moments, and measures so that we develop good habits, virtues.

New link, as the Monks overhaul. Click and bookmark!

In our prayer voluntas is set in juxtaposition with actio “action”.   We have “inclinations” to this or that thing. In actions our inclinations become concrete.  Some actions are entirely mental or spiritual, in that they are actions of the mind.  We have an initial idea or inclination and then we use our free will to grasp or refuse that idea.  We can bring an inclination to a deeper thought, contemplate it.  There are intellectual acts (for good or ill).  There are also physical acts.  We get an idea and then, with our intellects and wills, we figure out how to do it and choose to act (for good or ill).  Because of the weakness in us from Original Sin, in order to will and act properly we must have the help of grace.

God begins and completes in us all the meritorious things we do.  He gives us the strength to carry through with all good acts.

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¡Viva Cristo Rey! Sistine Chapel replicated in Mexico over the tomb of Plutarco Elias Calles

Via CRUX 2.0 we find something that is just too cool from AP.

Sistine Chapel replica unveiled in Mexico City

A private art project has created a temporary replica of the chapel in Mexico’s art deco Monument to the Revolution, using more than 2.7 million photographs printed on cloth and hung from a metal framework. It’s free and open to the public through June 30.

MEXICO CITY – During June, Renaissance art lovers in Mexico won’t need to travel to Vatican City to see the glories of the Sistine Chapel.
A private art project has created a temporary replica of the chapel in Mexico’s art deco Monument to the Revolution.  [How’s that for dissonance?]
People were lined up on Thursday to see the replica, which is open free to the public through June 30.
“I got the idea two years ago with my brother, inside the Sistine Chapel,” said Gabriel Berumen, creative director and producer of the replica. “When we walked inside and saw its beauty we said ‘Can we replicate this? Of course we can, in Mexico’, that’s when the dream began.”


It once would have been considered a political miracle as well.
Among the Mexican heroes entombed beneath the simulated chapel is Plutarco Elias Calles, the president who led a ferocious crackdown on the church in the 1920s that resulted in open warfare. Tight restrictions on the Catholic church remained in place for more than half a century.

Tonight perhaps I’ll watch For Greater Glory.


Posted in Just Too Cool | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Latvian Lutherans ban female ‘priests’

Here’s a step in the right direction for our upcoming ecumenical celebrations of the Reformation!

From IOL:

Women priests voiced dismay on Wednesday after Latvia’s Lutheran church ruled it would no longer allow women to be ordained, putting it at odds with its counterparts in other countries.

Lutheran churches in the United States, Canada, Germany, Norway and Sweden for example not only allow female priests but have also appointed female leaders.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) synod, which gathers every four years, voted on June 3 to amend its constitution so that only men could become priests.

“The decision of the synod is very sad,” said 38-year-old Zanda Ohff, who trained for the priesthood in Latvia but moved to Germany to become ordained.

Ordination was theoretically open to women before, although Archbishop Janis Vanags has refused to ordain any new women priests since becoming head of the church in 1993.

According to latest official figures, about a third of Latvians identify themselves as Lutherans, followed by Catholics and Orthodox.

“I started my studies when archbishop Vanags had already been elected but I hoped that some day I might become a pastor,” said Ohff, one of many women priests driven abroad.

“I hoped it would be in Latvia but the last 23 years have shown that it’s not possible,” she told AFP, adding that the church has become more authoritarian under Vanags.

The ruling does not affect the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (LELCA), which is a separate organisation formed during the years of Soviet Occupation to keep the church alive among emigre Latvians.


Read the rest there.

I am reminded just now of the old book by Fr. Miceli, Women Priests And Other Fantasies.

Posted in Vocations | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

SPAIN: Some food – 1

Some really good food was consumed in Spain. I was pretty busy and not posting a great deal during the trip so here are some highlights.

Little marinated shrimps.


Iberico ham with the usual tomato smeared bread.






Sopa castellana.


Chicken and morels.


Figuera.  Yes, there was paella too!


How many types of olives are there in Spain, anyway?  They are all great.





Fried peppers.



Peppers and eggplant… again.  Lots of eggplant.



No eggplant on this one.


Razor clams… yum.  Grilled… double yum.


I don’t know what the dressing was on this (that’s tuna) but it was fantastic.



Calamari and squid ink dipping sauce.  That’s a very large gin and tonic… the plural of which is…?


Okay, I might need to make another post.


In Avila.




What is the plural of the adult beverage made from gin mixed with tonic water?

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Okay… that did it.

Refreshing on a hot, humid day.

Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged | 24 Comments

New book by one of our readers here

One of our frequent commentatrices here has a new book.

The Jeweler’s Polish.


So… there’s this Jeweler… and he’s Polish, right?

Or is it… a… fine powder used by jewelers called rouge?  At first blush, it seems like an ethnic thing.  I dunno, pick one and spin the wheel.

It’s available on Kindle.

You have a Kindle, right?

You DON’T?!?

US… click HERE
UK… click HERE

Posted in SESSIUNCULA, The Campus Telephone Pole | 9 Comments

19 Yezidi girls burned to death in iron cages

News from the Religion of Peace comes to us via AhlulBayt News Agency:

ISIS burns 19 Yezidi girls to death in Mosul

AhlulBayt News Agency – Extremist terrorists of the ISIS on Thursday executed 19 Yezidi girls by burning them to death, activists and eyewitnesses reported.

The victims, who had been taken by ISIS terrorists as sex slaves, were placed in iron cages in central Mosul and burned to death in front of hundreds of people.

“They were punished for refusing to have sex with ISIS militants,” local media activist Abdullah al-Malla said.

“The 19 girls were burned to death, while hundreds of people were watching. Nobody could do anything to save them from the brutal punishment,” an eyewitness said in Mosul.


According to officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria continue to hold about 1,800 abducted Yezidi women and girls.

The United Nations has cited allegations, based on Yezidi officials’ estimates, that as many as 3,500 people remained in ISIS captivity as of October 2015.

“Many of the abuses, including torture, sexual slavery, and arbitrary detention, would be war crimes if committed in the context of the armed conflict, or crimes against humanity if they were part of ISIS policy during a systematic or widespread attack on the civilian population,” the HRW said. “The abuses against Yezidi women and girls documented by Human Rights Watch, including the practice of abducting women and girls and forcibly converting them to Islam and/or forcibly marrying them to ISIS members, may be part of a genocide against Yezidis.”

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us.

St. Pius V, pray for us.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.

Posted in The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

About Latin and how hard Mass ought to be.

12_09_11_Joos_CommunionAt Crisis there is an entry by Anne Maloney, a Philosophy prof at – or all places – the College of St. Catherine in St Paul, Minnesota.  Let’s just say that Saint Kate’s has been really weird for a really long time, so I am a bit gobsmacked that I find that she teaches there: she clearly has her head screwed on in the right direction.

She writes about her experience of having being in Italy for a time and how exposure to Mass Italian (rather than the English she was used to) changed her view of Mass in Latin.


Pondering all this in my pew while the priest prayed in rapid Italian to the “Signore,” I wondered if I was going to change my mind and join the Catholics who militate for the re-instatement of Latin in the Mass, either the Extraordinary Form or the Novus Ordo. My first reaction to that possibility was “Well, no, of course not. Were we to return to the complete and permanent use of Latin, what comforted me in Italy would challenge me back home. The Mass in Latin would be less foreign to me in Italy, but far more foreign to me in the States. The Latin Mass was one big reason that Catholics who lived in the 1950s were seen by the larger culture, including the non-Catholic Christian culture, as odd, strange, a bit creepy. Certainly I did not want to go back to that, did I?”

Maybe I should. Maybe we all should. Pope Francis urges us not to think of Mass as something odd. [Fail.] Yet the Catholic Mass is, in fact, quite odd. [Pass.] It is about something weird, strange, even (for some) a bit creepy. We eat God. We eat him because he asked us to do so. We believe that an event that occurred over two thousand years ago is being re-enacted—not symbolically, REALLY re-enacted, right in front of our noses. It might not be such a bad idea to be reminded by the strangeness of the language that something strange—wonderfully, salvifically strange, but strange nonetheless—is happening.


As I often point out in sermons, it is wrong-headed to try to make Mass simpler, immediately understandable.  There is nothing easy about Mass.  During Mass the divine and the human are mysteriously brought together.  How is that easy?

Going on… she writes about teaching on Descartes, modern philosophy.


What has this to do with the Latin Mass? Plenty. Descartes is telling people, in their native language, that they can “do” philosophy as well as anyone in the Academy. No one need be alienated from the world of ideas. Nothing strange, or difficult, or humbling going on here. No need for humility. No need to feel “less than” anyone else. Everyone can play. In the same way, the vernacular Mass encourages the faithful to think of transubstantiation as no big deal. We are all just getting together and celebrating our warm and fuzzy—our accessible to everyone—faith.

Language is powerful, and it can be used to include or to exclude. Mass in the vernacular is inclusive. Philosophy in the vernacular is inclusive. But both end up making people feel “included” who share no salient characteristic other than their own smugness regarding their grasp of the reality at hand. College students believe themselves, with no training in logic or philosophy, to be as capable as anyone else intellectually. Contemporary Catholics pat themselves on their backs for being the “most educated Catholics” in history, and are astonished to be told that they often don’t actually know what they are talking about.

Am I advocating for the complete reintroduction of Latin in the Mass? I don’t think so. Am I advocating a return to Latin in the universities and thus limiting certain ideas to Latin readers? I don’t think so. What, then?

If we are to maintain the humility that is the necessary condition of worship and of learning, we have to find a way to remind ourselves that the liturgy is an act of sacrifice and worship, not a get-together to feel good about our faith. It may well be that a return to Latin would remind us all that what is going on at Mass is something not of this world, something much more profound than anything else happening in our lives. If we do not (and I do not think we will) witness a complete return to Latin in the liturgy, then we have to find another way to communicate this truth in as many parishes as possible. It is not going to be easy.


We need widespread use of Latin in our worship.  This will have the benefit of reopening the great treasury of sacred music which was slammed shut in the name of Vatican II.

We need widespread use of the older, traditional form of Holy Mass.

We need the reintroduction of ad orientem worship.

We need to foster again reception of Communion on the tongue while kneeling.

We need silence and beauty in our churches.

We need, in short, the hard elements – and the spaces between them – which prepare us for an encounter with Mystery and which help us to deal with our “daily winter”, timor mortis, fear of death.  We go to Mass to help us to die well.  If Mass doesn’t prepare us for death, something is wrong.


Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill | Tagged , | 41 Comments

A woman writes about her First Confession

12_03_31_confessionIt has been a while since I’ve said it, so I’ll say it now:


There, I said it.  And I mean it.

I was sent a link to a piece at a blog called The Motherlands.  The blogger writes of her First Confession experience as convert through RCIA.  A principle point she makes is that confession shouldn’t be too comfortable.  She says (with my usual and now legendary treatment):

The light at the top of the door turned green, and there I was—walking through the door of a confessional for the first time in my life. Scenes from movies and books were all I had to go on, but I had clear expectations of what the confessional would look like. [Movies never show those awful rooms.  They always show the classic dark booth with a kneeler and a grate.] Instead, I saw a kneeler beneath a frosted glass partition (think shower door) under bright fluorescent lights, and a narrow walkway to the left. “Come on back,” said the confessor, [grrrr] and I thought, “Excuse me?”

On the other side of the partition there were two chairs around a wooden table with fake flowers and a box of Kleenex on it. It looked exactly like a therapist’s office. My nerves settled immediately. I had to remind myself this was supposed to be confession. Instead, I felt like I should be asking if they would bill my insurance.

Here’s why I don’t like it. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

I’m there to confess my sins, and the priest is there, standing in for God. Sitting down to chat with a priest like we’re talking over coffee doesn’t provide the proper gravitas. [Do I hear another “Amen!”?] It feels more like I’m betraying my husband to tell another man about my failures, while he holds out a box of tissue so I can dry my tears.

Confession should be different—the only place where I am kneeling, head bowed, giving voice to my public and private sins. Speaking to a priest in the same manner that I would to my husband, my brother, or my landlord makes him seem more like “just a man.” Yet the priest is not a mere confidant but miraculously connected to Christ himself, who over 2,000 years ago “breathed on them; and said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (Jn 20:22-23).

The mystical nature of confession is lost under those fluorescent lights, with the Office Max chairs and fake roses. And so is our anonymity, which is a privilege in our culture.


She gets it.

Read the rest there.  Then examine your consciences and…


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, GO TO CONFESSION | 36 Comments