CATHOLIC CHESS CHAOS! Oh, the humanity.

chess gameFrom the often amusing Eye Of The Tiber:

Society of St. Pius X chess grandmaster Larcel Mafebvre has turned four of his pieces into bishops without approval from the World Chess Federation, officials have confirmed.

“Mr. Mafebvre has, without approval from the Federation, created bishops out of pawn pieces,” said World Chess Federation head Antonio Salamanca. “After speaking with Mr. Mafebvre regarding abiding by the new chess rules, wherein players are given the freedom to concelebrate the match, and to say the words of ‘checkmate’ in the vernacular, he has sadly decided to ignore our requests.”

Salamanca went on to tell reporters that Mafebvre had automatically incurred excheckommunication because of his disobedience.

“I must do what is in my conscience to preserve the dignity of the game,”  Mafebvre told EOTT in an exclusive interview. “Therefore, I have decided to consecrate four of my pieces into bishops to help my depleted side, for, from some Fischer, the smoke of Satan has entered the chessboard of God.”

At press time, one time follower of Larcel Mafebvre’s, Bavid Dawden, told EOTT that he has decided to become head of the World Chess Federation, though he only has three pawns to play with.


Posted in Lighter fare, SSPX | Tagged , | 13 Comments

ASK FATHER: The priest said: “I give you the absolution …”

penance_confession_stepsFrom a reader…


Reverend Father, If a priest in the confessional says “I give you the absolution in the name of the Father and the Song and the Holy Spirit”

Is the absolution valid since he did not say “I absolve you”? This happened to me, and the priest did not seem to be a native english speaker, I did not say anything at the time but afterward thought more about it ?

This is another example of why priests should SAY THE BLACK and DO THE RED.

People should never have to doubt that they were validly absolved, even for a moment.


First, you went to confession and, I assume, made a complete, sincere, confession of your mortal sins in kind and number.  You, I am sure, expressed a sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment.   You did your part.   God surely will smile on you.  That is a great deal.

Second, what that priest said was doubtfully a valid form of absolution.  I don’t have a clear idea of what he, apparently not a native speaker of English, was working with, or what language he might have been working from.  I think that some Eastern Catholics might have a slightly different form…. Still… as I jockey the words around, I don’t get clarity.  I am left doubting and that should never happen.

If I were you, the next time you go to confession, tell the confessor what happened, mention those mortal sins again, and be absolved properly.

If this priest was a visitor, let this go.  If this priest is stationed there and he regularly says this doubtful formula, it must be addressed, first with the priest himself and then, if that doesn’t register, with the pastor of the parish and then the bishop.  This is serious business.

Some years ago, I used to carry a card with the proper form of absolution on it to give to confused or idiot priests and I would insist that they use the proper form.  That occasionally caused a few tense moments, especially if I had to add a few other observations, but I got absolved and the priest had something to think about.  But priests can do as penitents what lay people can’t.  Be careful.

Fathers, if you are pastors of parishes, parish priests, and you have a missionary priest visiting, and you put him to work hearing confessions, I suggest that you mention that in your parish, all priests use exactly the form of absolution which the Church has approved. You should have a printed card in the confessional with the approved formula in Latin and in English (and perhaps in Spanish, etc.).

Perhaps diocesan bishops might think about directing that parish priests remind visiting priests from outside the diocese that, ’round these parts we say the black words and do the red stuff.

“But Father! But Father!”, you libs who haven’t darkened the door of a confessional are mewling, “This is paternalistic and insulting!  Who needs these strictures of matter and form!  The whole Aristotle thing is so yesterday.  We’ve grown beyond that, with the help of the Spirit of Vatican II.   But you are a throwback fundamentalist repressing the Spirit and she isn’t happy with you because YOU HATE VATICAN II!”

I, for one, want to be absolved validly.  You… do what you want and good luck with that.

Lay people, if this happens to you, ask the priest – politely – to say the words of absolution.  Keep in mind that older priests might say the form of absolution while you are reciting your Act of Contrition.  In most cases, they will wait with the actual form, “I absolve you…” when you have finished.  But, sometimes, they don’t.  In that case, if you don’t hear the priest say “I absolve you…” you can – politely – ask if the priest gave you absolution.  You might add that you didn’t hear it.  If you get the sense that the priest simply did not at any time use the correct form, do not lose your cool.  Sometimes a priest will send signals that he is a bit dodgy or unsure.  For example, if he tells you something that is clearly a mortal sin is not a sin, or if he subtly (or not) runs you down for a reciting “laundry list”, or even if he doesn’t give a penance or the penance is something like “think nice thoughts about someone”, you may be in the presence of a guy who has either made the choice that he knows better than the Church or he has not been well-trained.  Again, don’t lose your cool.  Inform the pastor – politely.  If the priest is the pastor, you may have to inform the diocesan bishop.  Did I mention don’t lose your cool? Be polite?  It is nearly unimaginable that the priest is straying from what ought to be done out of malice or ill intent.

If you are pretty sure that you were not absolved, freak not thou thyself out.  If there is another priest available, tell him what happened, make your confession, get absolved, and go on your way whistling a happy tune (after leaving the church, of course).  Otherwise, at your next opportunity, make your confession.

Moderation queue is ON.

Posted in "But Father! But Father!", "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Diocese of Arlington has a new bishop

Over the years I have written quite a few times about His Excellency Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidgeolim Bishop of Raleigh in North Carolina.  He was just translated to the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia.

Bp. Burbidge has been open to traditional expressions of our faith and sacred worship.  I am sure that the people of Arlington are happy.  Let us pray for a solid replacement in Raleigh.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

St. Francis of Assisi on treatment of the Eucharist, Communion, ornaments of the altar

francis kittyIf any of you have some notion that St. Francis of Assisi was in life like the kitty-hugging, pastel-toned image you see on a holy card or garden statuette, with little birdies sitting on his arms… think again. Some think that had Francis seen gold vessels and elaborate vestments and rich ornamentation for liturgy, he’d have a cow, right?

“NO!”, the saint would gasp. “Sell all this and give to the poor.  Let us use clay as Christ did, wear burlap as He did, and protect the environment from ACTON INSTITUTE!  Wealth is bad!”

Francis had, of course, his tender side, but mostly he was as hard as nails, and not pastel at all.   This is, after all, the guy who faced down a Sultan (Islamic ruler for those of you in Falcon Heights) when things between Christianity and Islam weren’t exactly cordial.

Francis was also into rich liturgy with the most beautiful accouterments possible.

At the Catholic Online Forum, which I ran for years with the help of super staff such as The Great Roman Fabrizio™there was a fascinating entry about what St. Francis was really is about.  Fabrizio pulled quotes directly from the texts of Francis, most not translated into English elsewhere, and presented them for our edification.  I’ll share one here.  These are St. Francis words as found in the original Franciscan Sources and quoted in Latin (or Italian) original when available online.  Otherwise, Fabrizio transcribed them from the print edition. Online source for St. Francis’ own writings: OPUSCULA OMNIA SANCTI FRANCISCI ASSISIENSIS

What Fabrizio does is explode myths about Francis.  Here is an example of a myth of poverty in liturgy which produced all that nonsense about clay pots and gunny sack vestments.  With my emphases and comments.

MYTH: Francis hated the “triumphalism” of the Roman Liturgy. He wanted Mass celebrated in barns, the Sacred Species held in shoe boxes or recycled bottles. And he couldn’t stand the “ritualism” of liturgical norms and devotional practices (and shall we mention his murky understanding of the doctrine on the Eucharist?):

Epistola ad custodes 

To all the custodians of the Friars Minor to whom this letter shall come, Brother Francis, your servant and little one in the Lord God, greetings with new signs of heaven and earth which are great and most excellent before God and are considered least of all by many religious and by other men.

I beg you more than if it were a question of myself that, when it is becoming and you will deem it convenient, you humbly beseech the clerics to venerate above all the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Name and written words which sanctify the body. They ought to hold the chalices, corporals, ornaments of the altar, and all that pertain to the Sacrifice as precious. And if the most holy Body of the Lord is left very poorly in any place, let It be moved by them to a precious place, according to the command of the Church and let It be carried with great veneration and administered to others with discretion. The Names also and written words of the Lord, In whatever unclean place they may be found, let them be collected, and then they must be put in a proper place. And in every time you preach, admonish the people about penance [okay!] and that no one can be saved except he that receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord. And whenever It is being sacrificed by the priest on the altar and It is being carried to any place, let all the people give praise, honor, and glory to the Lord God Living and True on their bended knees. And let His praise be announced and preached to all peoples so that at every hour and when the bells are rung praise and thanks shall always be given to the Almighty God by all the people through the whole earth. [It doesn’t sound to me like he would be against “triumphalism”.]

And whoever of my brothers custodians shall receive this writing, let them copy it and keep it with them and cause it to be copied for the brothers who have the office of preaching and the care of brothers, and let them preach all those things that are contained in this writing to the end: let them know they have the blessing of the Lord God and mine. And let these be for them true and holy obedience.

Universis custodibus fratrum minorum, ad quos litterae istae pervenerint, frater Franciscus in Domino Deo vester servus et parvulus, salutem cum novis signis caeli et terrae, quae magna et excellentissima sunt apud Deum et a multis religiosis et aliis hominibus minima reputantur. Rogo vos plus quam de me ipso, quatenus, cum decet et videritis expedire, clericis humiliter supplicetis, quod sanctissimum corpus et sanguinem Domini nostri Jesu Christi et sancta nomina et verba eius scripta, quae sanctificant corpus, super omnia debeant venerari. Calices, corporalia, ornamenta altaris et omnia, quae pertinent ad sacrificium, pretiosa habere debeant. Et si in aliquo loco sanctissimum corpus Domini fuerit pauperrime collocatum, iuxta mandatum Ecclesiae in loco pretioso ab eis ponatur et consignetur et cum magna veneratione portetur et cum discretione aliis ministretur. Nomina etiam et verba Domini scripta, ubicumque inveniantur in locis immundis, colligantur et in loco honesto debeant collocari. Et in omni praedicatione, quam facitis, de poenitentia populum moneatis, et quod nemo potest salvari, nisi qui recipit sanctissimum corpus et sanguinem Domini (cfr. Joa 6,54). Et, quando a sacerdote sacrificatur super altare et in aliqua parte portatur, omnes gentes flexis genibus reddant laudes, gloriam et honorem Domino Deo vivo et vero. Et de laude eius ita omnibus gentibus annuntietis et praedicetis, ut omni hora et quando pulsantur campanae semper ab universo populo omnipotenti Deo laudes et gratiae referantur per totam terram. Et, ad quoscumque fratres meos custodes pervenerit hoc scriptum et exemplaverint et apud se habuerint et pro fratribus, qui habent officium praedicationis et custodiam fratrum, fecerint exemplari et omnia, quae continentur in hoc scripto, praedicaverint usque in finem, sciant se habere benedictionem Domini Dei et meam. Et ista sint eis per veram et sanctam obedientiam. Amen.

And then there’s this.  Some people think that Francis had a rather sketchy grasp of the Eucharist, that perhaps (like we heard in seminary – I’m not making this up) the “sacrament” happens when the Communion minister looks into the eyes of the communicant.  Let’s hear from St. Francis says:

Epistola ad clericos

Let us all consider, O clerics, the great sin and ignorance of which some are guilty regarding the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy Name and the written words of consecration. [He’s talking about the ignorace of clerics not just general ignorance.] For we know that the Body cannot exist until after these words of consecration. For we have nothing and we see nothing of the Most High Himself in this world except [His] Body and Blood, names and words by which we have been created and redeemed from death to life.

But let all those who administer such most holy mysteries, especially those who do so indifferently, consider among themselves how poor the chalices, corporals, and linens may be where the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is sacrificed. And by many It is left in wretched places and carried by the way disrespectfully, received unworthily and administered to others indiscriminately. [Does any of this sound familiar?] Again His Names and written words are sometimes trampled under foot, for the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of God.  Shall we not by all these things be moved with a sense of duty when the good Lord Himself places Himself in our hands and we handle Him and receive Him daily? Are we unmindful that we must needs fall into His hands?  [Remember… he wrote this to clerics, who handled the Eucharist.  Lay people would not have touched it.  He would have been horrified at the suggestion of Communion in the hand. And judgement awaits us, Fathers!]

Let us then at once and resolutely correct these faults and others; and wheresoever the most holy Body of our Lord Jesus Christ may be improperly reserved and abandoned, let It be removed thence and let It be put and enclosed in a precious place. In like manner wheresoever the Names and written words of the Lord may be found in unclean places they ought to be collected and put away in a decent place. And we know that we are bound above all to observe all these things by the commandments of the Lord and the constitutions of holy Mother Church. And let him who does not act thus know that he shall have to render an account therefore before our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of judgment. And let him who may cause copies of this writing to be made, to the end that it may be the better observed, know that he is blessed by the Lord.

Attendamus, omnes clerici, magnum peccatum et ignorantiam, quam quidam habent super sanctissimum corpus et sanguinem Domini nostri Jesu Christi et sacratissima nomina et verba eius scripta, quae sanctificant corpus. Scimus, quia non potest esse corpus, nisi prius sanctificetur a verbo. Nihil enim habemus et videmus corporaliter in hoc saeculo de ipso Altissimo, nisi corpus et sanguinem, nomina et verba, per quae facti sumus et redempti de morte ad vitam (1 Joa 3,14). Omnes autem illi qui ministrant tam sanctissima ministeria, considerent intra se, maxime hi qui indiscrete ministrant, quam viles sint calices, corporalia et linteamina, ubi sacrificatur corpus et sanguis Domini nostri. Et a multis in locis vilibus relinquitur, miserabiliter portatur et indigne sumitur et indiscrete aliis ministratur. Nomina etiam et verba eius scripta aliquando pedibus conculcantur; quia animalis homo non percipit ea quae Dei sunt (1 Cor 2,14). Non movemur de his omnibus pietate, cum ipse pius Dominus in manibus nostris se praebeat et eum tractemus et sumamus quotidie per os nostrum? An ignoramus, quia debemus venire in manus eius? Igitur de his omnibus et aliis cito et firmiter emendemus; et ubicumque fuerit sanctissimum corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi illicite collocatum et relictum, removeatur de loco illo et in loco pretioso ponatur et consignetur. Similiter nomina et verba Domini scripta, ubicumque inveniantur in locis immundis, colligantur et in loco honesto debeant collocari. Et scimus, quia haec omnia tenemur super omnia observare secundum praecepta Domimi et constitutiones sanctae matris Ecclesiae. Et qui hoc non fecerit, sciat, se coram Domino nostro Jesu Christo in die iudicii reddere rationem (cfr. Mt 12,36). Hoc scriptum, ut melius debeat observari, sciant se benedictos a Domino Deo, qui ipsum fecerint exemplari.

So much for your gunny sacks and clay.  Don’t ever think that Francis would be pleased if you could obtain better.

And he would also tell you to …


If you want to know more about St. Francis check out the book by a frequent commentator here, Fr. Augustine Thompson.   Francis of Assisi: A New Biography  UK- HERE


Posted in Classic Posts, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Saints: Stories & Symbols | Tagged | 14 Comments

ASK FATHER: Do I have to confess everything if people might overhear?

confessional print adjustedFrom a reader…

Hi Fr. X: [I’m sorry.  Fr. X is not available right now.  May I be of help?]

I have a question for an Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist. [You’ve come to the right place.]

I think I read someone where once that it was permitted for a penitent to omit confessing mortal sins during confession if his/her confession could be heard by other people. Is that true? I ask because the church where I confess my sins has one of those open style Italian confessionals and the church being old and small, and formally Anglican, thus not being built with one, anything, even a whisper can be heard from the confessional by anyone else in the church.

First, that situation in that church where confessions, even very quiet confessions, can be heard really ought to be addressed right away.   I don’t believe that “anyone else in the church” can hear even a whisper from across the church, unless the place is a “whisper gallery” which would be silly.

Also, this reminds me of times when I have told penitents to lower their voice and whisper so that no one outside can hear what they say.  Some times kids, others too, come in and it’s,


Do me a favor,” quoth I, whispering.  “Speak very quietly so no one outside can hear you.  I’m right next to you and I can hear you just fine if you whisper.  Can you do that?  Okay?


Alright, go ahead with your confession.”


If there is a situation in which everyone can hear everything, such as in a hospital ward, etc., and there isn’t a way to have even a moment of privacy, a priest can give absolution to a penitent whom he is convinced is truly sorry for her sins and intends to amend her life.  This is a kind of “General Absolution”.  This is particularly done in the case of danger of death.  However, at the earliest opportunity that person should make a regular auricular confession of all mortal sins.

However, in this case where there is no danger of death, but rather just danger of being overheard, I would either go to another place for confession or make arrangements for confession at another time, when there is nobody in church.

You might bring your concerns to the pastor.  Perhaps he can designate a place for the waiting line to halt that is far enough away to preserve privacy.  No one will object to that.

And, to all you sinners out there, if you overhear something in another person’s confession you are BOUND not to reveal it.  DO YOU UNDERSTAND? (Note well that I did not whisper that.)  Also, if you realize that you can hear the content of the confession, then move away or block your ears or something.  OKAY? CAN YOU DO THAT?


GO TO CONFESSION, even if it has to be in some other place for a while.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, GO TO CONFESSION | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Pope Francis speeds cause for Fr. Hamel, murdered by terrorists

A couple weeks ago I wrote that I suspected that Fr. Jacques Hamel was martyred, murdered in Northern France by Islamic terrorists, and that it wouldn’t surprise me were the Pope to speed up the process.

During the presser on the airplane returning to Rome from Azerbaijan Pope Francis said he waived the usual waiting period before opening the cause for martyrdom for Fr. Hamel.   HERE

“It is very important not to lose the testimonies,” the Pope said. “With time, someone may die, another forgets something.”

That’s an important point!   Ne pereant!

Posted in Modern Martyrs, Saints: Stories & Symbols, Semper Paratus, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

NEW! Card. Sarah on silence, liturgy, and “turning toward the Lord” again. Amazing.

card sarah silence book frenchHis Eminence Robert Card. Sarah was interviewed by a French newspaper at the time of the release of his latest book on the power of silence.  The book is, as I write, available in French.   The National Catholic Register has made a translation of the interview available in English.

Shall we have a look at excerpts which deal with liturgical worship? My emphases and comments:

Cardinal Robert Sarah on “The Strength of Silence” and the Dictatorship of Noise


Q: What role to you assign to silence in our Latin liturgy? Where do you see it, and how do you reconcile silence and participation? [The usual sobriety of worship in Latin usually includes much more silence than the Novus Ordo generally affords.  Silence is more natural in the older, traditional form.]

Cdl. Sarah: Before God’s majesty, we lose our words. Who would dare to speak up before the Almighty? Saint John Paul II saw in silence the essence of any attitude of prayer, because this silence, laden with the adored presence, manifests “the humble acceptance of the creature’s limits vis-à-vis the infinite transcendence of a God who unceasingly reveals Himself as a God of love.” To refuse this silence filled with confident awe and adoration is to refuse God the freedom to capture us by His love and His presence. [There is an apophatic dimension to our worship that is fostered with silence.] Sacred silence is therefore the place where we can encounter God, because we come to Him with the proper attitude of a human being who trembles and stands at a distance while hoping confidently. [This is almost exactly what I have been talking about for years. Our worship must create for us an encounter with MYSTERY which is tremendum et fascinans, frightening and alluring.] We priests must relearn the filial fear of God and the sacral character of our relations with Him. We must relearn to tremble with astonishment before the Holiness of God and the unprecedented grace of our priesthood. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Silence teaches us a major rule of the spiritual life: familiarity does not foster intimacy; on the contrary, a proper distance is a condition for communion. It is by way of adoration that humanity walks toward love. Sacred silence opens the way to mystical silence, full of loving intimacy. Under the yoke of secular reason, we have forgotten that the sacred and worship are the only entrances to the spiritual life. Therefore I do not hesitate to declare that sacred silence is a cardinal law of all liturgical celebration.

[I must step out of this for a moment.  How many times have I written in these electronic pages that revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship of God is the sine qua non for any initiative we undertake in the Church?  Everything comes from worship and flows back to worship.  Anything that isn’t rooted in worship and directed back to it, no matter how clever, fancy or well-planned and financed, is going to fail if it is not rooted in worship.  Also, take careful note of that bit about “familiarity does not foster intimacy”.  Now turn your mind to consider Holy Mass “facing the people” and Mass ad orientem.]

Indeed, it allows us to enter into participation in the mystery being celebrated. Vatican Council II stresses that silence is a privileged means of promoting the participation of the people of God in the liturgy. The Council Fathers intended to show what true liturgical participation is: entrance into the divine mystery. Under the pretext of making access to God easy, some wanted everything in the liturgy to be immediately intelligible, rational, horizontal and human. But in acting that way, we run the risk of reducing the sacred mystery to good feelings. Under the pretext of pedagogy, some priests indulge in endless commentaries that are flat-footed and mundane. [The way I put that is: Mass is not a didactic moment.] Are these pastors afraid that silence in the presence of the Most High might disconcert the faithful? [YES.  They themselves cannot handle silence!  And they are, furthermore, now conditioned to see themselves as the ones who entertain.] Do they think that the Holy Spirit is incapable of opening hearts to the divine Mysteries by pouring out on them the light of spiritual grace?

Saint John Paul II warns us: a human being enters into participation in the divine presence “above all by letting himself be educated in an adoring silence, because at the summit of the knowledge and experience of God there is His absolute transcendence.”

Sacred silence is the good of the faithful, and the clerics must not deprive them of it!

Silence is the cloth from which our liturgies ought to be cut out. Nothing in them should interrupt the silent atmosphere that is their natural climate.

Q: Isn’t there a kind of paradox in stating the need for silence in the liturgy while acknowledging that the Eastern liturgies have no moments of silence (no. 259), while they are particularly beautiful, sacred and prayerful? 

Cdl. Sarah: Your comment is wise and shows that it is not enough to prescribe “moments of silence” in order for the liturgy to be permeated with sacred silence.

Silence is an attitude of the soul. It is not a pause between two rituals; it is itself fully a ritual.

Certainly, the Eastern rites do not foresee times of silence during the Divine Liturgy. Nevertheless, they are intensely acquainted with the apophatic[WINNER!] dimension of prayer before a God who is “ineffable, incomprehensible, imperceptible”. The Divine Liturgy is plunged, as it were, into the Mystery. It is celebrated behind the iconostas, which for Eastern Christians is the veil that protects the mystery. [NB] Among us Latins, silence is a sonic iconostas. Silence is a form of mystagogy; it enables us to enter into the mystery without deflowering it. In the liturgy, the language of the mysteries is silent. Silence does not conceal; it reveals in depth.

Saint John Paul II teaches us that “mystery continually veils itself, covers itself with silence, in order to avoid constructing an idol in place of God.” I want to declare today that the risk of Christians becoming idolaters is great. Prisoners of the noise of endless human talk, we are not far from constructing a cult according to our own dimensions, a god in our own image. As Cardinal Godfried Danneels remarked, “the chief fault of the Western liturgy, as it is celebrated in practice, is being too talkative.” Father Faustin Nyombayré, a Rwandan priest, says that in Africa “superficiality does not spare the liturgy or supposedly religious sessions, from which people return out of breath and perspiring, rather than rested and full of what has been celebrated in order to live and to witness better.” Celebrations sometimes become noisy and exhausting. The liturgy is sick. The most striking symbol of this sickness is the omnipresence of the microphone. It has become so indispensable that people wonder how anyone could have celebrated before it was invented!  [Joseph Ratzinger used the image of Catholics like the Jews who worshipped the golden calf.  The problem is that the Jews KNEW their golden calf wasn’t a “god”. They KNEW it was less than the Most High. They made it because they didn’t want the challenge of what the TRUE God asked. That is what happens when we stray from our true liturgical worship or distort it into something easy, comfortable, familiar. Liturgy should also involve the extremely difficult, the – yes -apophatic, something frightening which remains nevertheless alluring.]

The noise from outside and our own interior noises make us strangers to ourselves. In the midst of noise, a human being cannot help falling into banality: we are superficial in what we say, we utter empty talk, in which we talk and talk again… until we find something to say, a sort of irresponsible “muddle” made up of jokes and words that kill. We are superficial also in what we do: we live in a banal state that is supposedly logical and moral, without finding anything abnormal about it.

Often we leave our noisy, superficial liturgies without having encountered in them God and the interior peace that He wants to offer us.

Q: After your conference in London last July, you are returning to the topic of the orientation of the liturgy and wish to see it applied in our churches. Why is this so important to you, and how would you see this change implemented? 


Cdl. Sarah: Silence poses the problem of the essence of the liturgy. Now the liturgy is mystical. As long as we approach the liturgy with a noisy heart, it will have a superficial, human appearance. Liturgical silence is a radical and essential disposition; it is a conversion of heart. Now, to be converted, etymologically, is to turn back, to turn toward God. There is no true silence in the liturgy if we are not—with all our heart—turned toward the Lord. We must be converted, turn back to the Lord, in order to look at Him, contemplate His face, and fall at His feet to adore Him. We have an example: Mary Magdalene was able to recognize Jesus on Easter morning because she turned back toward Him: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” “Haec cum dixisset, conversa est retrorsum et videt Jesus stantem. – Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there” (Jn 20:13-14).

[NB!] How can we enter into this interior disposition except by turning physically, all together, priest and faithful, toward the Lord who comes, toward the East symbolized by the apse where the cross is enthroned?

The outward orientation leads us to the interior orientation that it symbolizes. Since apostolic times, Christians have been familiar with this way of praying. It is not a matter of celebrating with one’s back to the people or facing them, but toward the East, ad Dominum, toward the Lord.

This way of doing things promotes silence. Indeed, there is less of a temptation for the celebrant to monopolize the conversation. Facing the Lord, he is less tempted to become a professor who gives a lecture during the whole Mass, reducing the altar to a podium centered no longer on the cross but on the microphone! The priest must remember that he is only an instrument in Christ’s hands, that he must be quiet in order to make room for the Word, and that our human words are ridiculous compared to the one Eternal Word.

I am convinced that priests do not use the same tone of voice when they celebrate facing East. We are so much less tempted to take ourselves for actors, as Pope Francis says!   [Wow.  Yes.  The same goes for saying or singing Holy Mass in English or in Latin, whether in the Novus Ordo or the TLM!  I know that I adjust.  I catch myself.]

Of course, this way of doing things, while legitimate and desirable, must not be imposed as a revolution. I know that in many places preparatory catechesis has enabled the faithful to accept and appreciate the orientation. I wish that this question would not become the occasion for an ideological clash of factions! We are talking about our relationship with God.   [Alas, Your Eminence, it is a clash of factions.  Would that it were not.  But there are people in power out there who truly fear Mass ad orientem.  They will stop at nothing to prevent it from returning.]

As I had the opportunity to say recently, during a private interview with the Holy Father, here I am just making the heartfelt suggestions of a pastor who is concerned about the good of the faithful. I do not intend to set one practice against another. If it is physically not possible to celebrate ad orientem, it is absolutely necessary to put a cross on the altar in plain view, as a point of reference for everyone. Christ on the cross is the Christian East.


Friends, there is a lot more from this amazing man.  Please read the rest there.

Card. Sarah is a deeply prayerful man, which you can tell both from reading his works and if you have a chance to meet him.

I’ll take his arguments for ad orientem worship compared to the flailing around and bullying of the opponents of “turning toward the Lord”.

God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith  by Robert Card. Sarah – UK HERE

Sarah God Or Nothing 200

Buy it.  Get one for your parish priests.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Fr. Z KUDOS, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, The future and our choices, Turn Towards The Lord | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

The “Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal catholicism” rides again!

wile-e-coyote helpEvery once in a while the Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal catholicism over at Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) goes on a venom bender.

Michael Sean Winters can last a few weeks without bashing Acton Institute and then he falls off the wagon.   This week he’s been on Acton Institute’s case twice… twice already, that is.  HERE and HERE

MSW can’t stand Acton Institute.   He once wrote, “I confess that the mere mention of the words ‘Acton Institute’ get my teeth on edge.”

Nay rather, MSW can’t stand the people involved with Acton Institute.   For MSW, anyone who supports expansive and dynamic free markets is labelled as a Randian who hates the poor and, *GASP*, a… I can hardly bring myself to write it… libertarian!

In today’s assault on Acton, MSW goes giddy over an article at Commonweal by David Bentley Hart, an Orthodox theologian.   He all but swoons over Hart’s prose, especially when Hart allegedly sticks it to Acton Institute’s Sam Gregg.

Here is some chronology, as far as I can make it out.

  1. David Bentley Hart has an article praising Pope Francis in the December 2015 First Things.  HERE
  2. Sam Gregg of Acton responds to Hart, also in December 2015, at Public Discourse. HERE
  3. Hart writes another piece at First Things in June 2016. HERE
  4. Gregg responds again at Public Discourse. HERE
  5.  On 27 September 2016 Hart writes something for that bastion of fidelity Commonweal in which he refers to Gregg’s writings for “Public Interest” (getting the name wrong, but that’s no nevermind I guess).  HERE
  6. MSW swoons over Hart at Fishwrap, today, 3 October 2016.  HERE

But wait!  There’s more.


An AUTHENTIC “Acton Institute” pen given to me PERSONALLY by Fr. Robert Sirico of, yes, ACTON INSTITUTE!

You will want to read Edward Feser’s demolition of Hart’s 2015 piece at Public Discourse in April 2015.  HERE


Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has some kind of hang-up about Thomism. It leads him to do strange things. Two years ago, in First Things, Hart put forward a poorly reasoned critique of the Thomistic natural law approach to ethics. As his critics pointed out at the time, among the foibles of the piece was Hart’s conflation of the “new natural law” theory of thinkers such as John Finnis and Robert P. George with the “old natural law” approach of writers such as Ralph McInerny and Russell Hittinger. When the difference between these views is understood, Hart’s critique collapses.

Rather than trying to answer this objection and extricate himself from the hole he’d gotten himself into, Hart kept digging, relentlessly reiterating his fallacious conflation in a series of sometimes dyspeptic replies to his critics.


And be sure to catch Dylan Pahman’s razing of the Hart piece so lauded today from the swooning couch, also at Public Discourse today, 3 October 2016.  HERE


Yet another AUTHENTIC Acton Institute pen, perhaps similar to the one with which Sam Gregg penned his most recent book For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good – UK HERE


In a recent article in Commonweal, “Christ’s Rabble: The First Christians Were Not Like Us,” Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has doubled down on his controversial claims about the Christian view of wealth and poverty. He claims, like a caricature of the Protestants he unfairly dismisses, that the New Testament is on his side because he can read it in Greek. Well, so can I, and so can basically every theologian who has ever disagreed with Hart’s position. Fluency in Greek does not make one an authority on the New Testament or early Christianity.

The poverty of Hart’s hermeneutic can be seen by examining the sparsely substantiated claims he makes about the earliest Christians. Hart believes that “the New Testament … condemns great personal wealth not merely as a moral danger, but as an intrinsic evil.” Hart dismisses every New Testament qualification of this claim as being countered by a more absolute reading of other passages that has apparently escaped all other Christian readers for the last 2,000 years. In reality, Hart’s view cannot be found among early Christians.


Dylan Pahman is also Orthodox, as is Hart.

Poor MSW.  He seems to have taken to someone whom one of my correspondents describes as a gnostic with his own secret knowledge that trumps 2000 years of reflection on Scripture.

I got a “trump” in there.  I just want one more…


Posted in Green Inkers, Liberals, Lighter fare, The Drill, Throwing a Nutty | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

ASK FATHER: Publications to help Lutherans come into the Church in 2017?

From a reader…


I was raised Lutheran and most of my family (4 siblings) still are (one sibling has gone Evangelical). I pray daily for the conversion of all my siblings and their families to the Holy Catholic Church but I am wondering if in the year 2017 I can’t do more. Are there any publications in the works that you know of geared toward these “separated brethren” that might give them some nudge back toward the Church? My older brother and his wife are planning a trip to Wittenberg to “celebrate” the “Reformation”–ugh. I would like to give all my siblings something provoking, but not off-putting, this next year that might just get them to stop and reflect a moment.

I think I’ll open this one up to the well-informed and often deeply helpful readership.

Meanwhile, I wonder how the Pope of Christian Unity would have handled the 2017 anniversary observances of the destruction of Christian Unity and the shredding of the fabric of Christendom.

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Pope of Christian Unity | Tagged , | 14 Comments

ASK FATHER: Of brewing beer, beery prayers, and blessings

Bridgeman; (c) Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

From a reader…

I recently took up homebrewing as a hobby. Are there any traditional prayers, say from monastic brewers, that I can pray while I enjoy my new hobby?

I’m reminded of the old chestnut about whether it is okay to smoke a cigar while praying the Breviary.  Maybe not, is the answer usually given.  But it is okay to pray the Breviary while smoking a cigar!

I think there is a prayer that runs something like, “Our lager, which is in barrels, hallow be thy foam….”, or words to that effect.

It seemed proper to consult an expert, so I wrote to the Benedictine monks at Norcia, who are making splendid beer.  The brewery managing monk himself wrote back:

Dear Fr. Z,

Thanks for your email. We don’t do anything fancy. We simply use the blessing in the Roman Ritual. Sometimes too, while one of us is brewing, we may be praying the Divine Office in the brewery.

I hope you enjoy the beer! [I do, and so do my priest friends.]

So, in answer, I don’t think there are any specific prayers for the brewing of beer.   If you don’t say the office, you might say the Rosary and other prayers as you work.

There is, however, the blessing of beer in the old Rituale Romanum which a priest can impart.

When your brew is true invite the priest over to pray over it.

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.


Benedic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi, et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti; ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corpus et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R. Amen.

Or else…

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

And it is sprinkled with holy water.

And may I remind all of you that the Benedictine Monks in Norcia, Italy, are recovering from a terrible series of earthquakes? They could use your support and you could use their beer! Everybody wins (except Satan).

Finally, may I note that International Buy A Priest A Beer Day went unobserved by all of you readers?  Tisk tisk.

It isn’t too late to make amends.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

“Bring back the good old days of diocesan laws that have the form of law.”


Pope Francis reading Mass “ad orientem”.

Last July Robert Card. Sarah made a personal (not official) bid to priests to begin celebration of Holy Mass ad orientem, and that a good time to do that would be this coming Advent.

I hope many priests will do this, carefully, prudently, and with lots of catechesis.

Card. Sarah did not suggest anything against the law or tradition.  He did not say to do this abruptly.  He did not say that they had to.  He did not suggest anything particularly unusual.

Some people went bananas.

“How DARE he say that!  He can’t do that!  This isn’t official!  You have to ignore him because it isn’t official.  You had BETTER ignore him if you know what’s good for you!”

In an ironic twist, I am now getting copies of letters from bishops (or someone in their chanceries) to priests which tell them that they must not say Mass ad orientem.

However, the letters are not truly framed according to the law.

They “lay down the law” but they don’t make law.

Can you imagine what the reaction would be were a bishop to say to priests that they shouldn’t’ say Mass “facing the people”? That they must say Mass ad orientem?

Sometimes bishops order things that can’t be ordered. The “order” might have a sketchy argument as support, such as “I’m the moderator of the liturgy in this diocese!”  Then the bishop – or, more frequently, his stand in – will strongly suggest something to be done or not to be done according to his will or wishes or desires or hankering or preference or daily haruspicy.

sic semperOne of my canonist friends wrote to me, “Bring back the good old days of diocesan laws that have the form of law.”

On reception of such a suggestive letter, however, the well-attuned priest will understand exactly what the bishop wants him to understand:

“Father, I write to you today in paternal solicitude and after deep, prayerful reflection.  I don’t have authority to order this, but if you defy me I will lovingly crucify you. I will, pastorally, crack your bones and, fraternally, drink your much appreciated blood from the new mug made from your skull, which I highly value as a coworker in the vineyard. In fondness and in unity in Our Lord, and grateful for the your spirit of always willing collaboration in our shared ministry, I remain yours in Christ.

+Fatty McButterpants
Bishop of Libville

As I mentioned, above, I received copies – from more than one source – of a letter in which it is strongly suggested that priests may not make any change whatsoever toward ad orientem worship.  I also received a copy of a letter from another bishop which strongly suggests that priests shouldn’t do anything too traditional.  No, really.  There is no actual directive according to the law, because they know they can’t legitimately order something that contravenes universal law.  But the message is crystal clear.  Even though X,Y, Z are legitimate options that enjoy also the strength of centuries of tradition… don’t you dare do them.

If you do, I’ll hurt you.

Screen-Shot-2016-09-28-at-19.57.37-300x176We have a rule of law in the Church.  Sometimes implication and bullying supplant the rule of law.  That’s abuse of power.

Let’s turn the sock inside out.  Let’s suppose that Fatty McButterpants’ classmate and fellow bishop writes to his clergy a soothing, pastoral letter in gentle language that, beginning Advent, they are all to start saying Mass orientem.  A priest reads the letter carefully and then translates it into real language…

“I’m the moderator of the liturgy around here, and you, Fathers, will not say Mass any more facing the people.  You must now say Mass ad orientem.  Don’t give me that old song and dance about versus populum being a legitimate option.  Around here I SAY WHAT GOES!  Here are my thin reasons, which will make it look like I have this authority, but you know what will happen if you defy me…  Non sacciu si mi speiu….

+ Antuninu Ruspa
Bishop of Pie Town

PS: And if you send this letter to Fr. Z….

The Sicilian phrase there might help get the point across.

Were a bishop to make such a requirement, people would go bananas.  They’d shout, “He might be the ‘moderator of the liturgy’ in his diocese, but he can’t do that!  Mass versus populum is a legitimate option!”

So is Mass ad orientem.

As a matter of fact, the rubrics themselves indicate that that is what the Roman Church does.  Mass “facing the people” is a still relatively newfangled fad compared to ad orientem worship.  Our Catholic identity favors worship ad orientem for Mass more than versus populum.

Remember: Somethings truly are within a diocesan bishop’s authority to regulate.  Others are not.  In the first case, they can issue a proper directive.  In the second case, they can’t, and so they use other means.  Sometimes they even make their preference (because that’s all it is at the end of the day) look official, by dressing it up with fancy language and references, and so forth.

The problem with trying to circumvent the law and legitimate options, the problem with getting your way by force, is that we wind up with no Church at all.  Ignore the rule of law and we have chaos and violation of rights and of charity.

Far better is to make an argument, present your reasons, and attempt to persuade.  “Here are my reasons for this.  If you object or have concerns, let’s talk about them.”

Many who hold power today (for the time being – tick… tick… tick…) are quite simply terrified of ad orientem worship.

Many priests want to move in that direction, at a prudent pace and with lots of catechesis.  When they do, they will be made to suffer by those who should have their back.  Priests can, in fact, fight back with recourse to higher authority.  That takes time, know how, help, and lots of pain.  Meanwhile, bishops can hurt their priests in a thousand creative ways.

This is how battles go, dear readers.  There is always tension and ineluctable suffering.

Let us together, as the clock ticks, now meditate upon the verse: “In the mean time there arose a new king over Egypt, that knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8).

The moderation queue is ON.

Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Drill, The future and our choices, Turn Towards The Lord | 10 Comments

WISCONSIN: Bishops to perform Act of Entrustment of the Faithful of Wisconsin to Mary, Mother of Mercy

The Year of Mercy is drawing to a close.  In the Litany of Loreto, we invoke Mary under the title of Mother of Mercy… Mater misericordiae.

On the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, the bishops of Wisconsin will entrust the faithful of Wisconsin to Mary, Mother of Mercy in the presence of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, traveling worldwide since 1947 during its two-year journey across these United States.

More information is HERE.

The Mass is to be celebrated by Archbp. Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee. It will start at 7 PM.

At the same time, I’ll start Mass for the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, WI.

Recitation of the Rosary in many places is often followed immediately by the recitation of the Litany of Loreto.

Posted in Events, Our Solitary Boast, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace, Year of Mercy | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The greatest 20th century Catholic novels

The great Anthony Esolen has posted his suggestion for the 10 greatest Catholic novels in English of the 20th century.

How’s his list?

1. Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter – UK HERE
2. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings – UK HERE (If you’ve only seen the movies, you know nothing of joy.)
3. Francois Mauriac, Vipers’ Tangle – UK HERE
4. Riccardo Bacchelli, The Mill on the Po – UK HERE
5. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited – UK HERE
6. Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory – UK HERE
7. Georges Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest – UK HERE
8. Sigrid Undset, The Master of Hestviken – UK HERE
9. Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear It Away – UK HERE
10. Heinrich Boll, The Clown – UK HERE

I have read most of them.  I have NOT read The Mill on the Po… a riff on a another famous book.

I might also suggest Eugenio Corti, The Red Horse – UK HERE
Some might suggest Shusaku Endo, Silence – UK HERE I read it recently and found it deeply depressing, in an uplifting way.  There will soon be a film released by Martin Scorsese.  Off the top of my head I can also think of Rumor Godden, In This House Of Brede – UK HERE.  Perhaps novels by Michael O’Brien, Father Elijah (or maybe better the trilogy that flows around it) – UK HERE.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , | 69 Comments

A cunning plan? Thousands of fraudulent ballots found! Guess for which party?

Here is an interesting chess game being waged over the future of the nation.

From Pamela Geller:

“Tens of thousands” of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse UPDATE: Investigation launched

How bad and rampant is it? The Cascade mall jihad gunman voted illegally in no less than three election cycles.

“It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.”

“Tens of thousands” of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse,” Christian Times, September 30 2016:

Election officials in Franklin County, Ohio are reportedly stumped over what one maintenance worker found in a dilapidated downtown Columbus warehouse earlier this week.

According to sources, Randall Prince, a Columbus-area electrical worker, was doing a routine check of his companies wiring and electrical systems when he stumbled across approximately one dozen black, sealed ballot boxes filled with thousands of Franklin County votes for Hillary Clinton and other Democrat candidates.


But wait! There’s more.

UPDATE: Franklin County launches an investigation. The story may have been planted. If so, this is now a pattern and I believe a deliberate attempt by Democrats to muddy the waters, [NB:] so that when real stories of voter fraud and malfeasance (of which there are many) break, they too will be waved off as hoaxes.

Oh my!   Who would ever imagine that Dems would cheat!  Who could imagine finding ballots?  What was it that happened again in the Coleman v. Franken election and recount and recount and recount?  They recounted until the Republican lost with the help of some ballots that were “discovered” that tipped the scale.

No.  We all know what is going on.


Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Seven and Seven Sunday

No, not the 7 & 7 you are probably thinking about.

Movie remakes.

Remakes of movies are a tradition of sorts. Some work. Some don’t.

For example, a while back I watched the 1959 Ben Hur with Charlton Heston, in preparation for going to see the 2016 remake.  Save yourselves some frustration and stick to the 1959 version.

Today I will watch Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Seven Samurai and the 1960 The Magnificent Seven in preparation for the 2016 remake which (Deo volente) I’ll see on Tuesday, my movie day ($5 all films all day and free popcorn – about the right amount to spend).

Those of you who know these things, know that The Magnificent Seven is essentially a remake of Seven Samurai.  They are the same and entirely different.  At least in the opening credits homage is given to Kurosawa’s film.  The Spaghetti Western Fist Full Of Dollars (first of the “No Name Trilogy”) with Clint Eastwood was a wanton ripoff of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo with Toshiro Mifune, scene by scene.  Kurosawa sued and won.  Watch them back to back sometime.  It’s shameless.

Meanwhile, here is probably the best theme ever written for a Western.  At least I can’t think of a better one.

Fr. Z kudos to Elmer Bernstein.

How about The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly theme, by Enio Morricone with that groovy electric guitar and the weird backup singers (inspiration, perhaps, for riffs in The Lord Of The Rings)?  Then there’s Blazing Saddles, which is completely fun.  It’s the whip that does it.  I watched that recently after Gene Wilder died.  It would be impossible to make today.

The music from Seven Samurai is not as immediately satisfying as the Western version. Rather, it sets you on edge and builds suspense before the looming conflict.

Meanwhile… in the “Which Is Cooler” contest, here’s Charles Bronson from Magnificent Seven and Toshiro Mifune from Seven Samurai.

Speaking of movies with “7” in the title, there is the ultimate creepy movie Seven which I might not be able to watch again.  Brrrrr.   There’s also Seven Brides For Seven Brothers which gets 7 in twice.  That has has a song by the immortal Johnny Mercer about the Sobbin’ Women which is one of the best puns in any movie – eh-vur.  Once upon a time most of the better educated members of Western Civilization would have gotten it.. but today… dunno.  Then there’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarves, which also has it’s creepy overtone.  Speaking of creepy, and it seems that we are, there’s The Seventh Seal which features a chess match with the Grim Reaper himself.  Marilyn Monroe and her uncreepy subway-blown skirt did The Seven Year Itch in 1954, the same year as Seven Samurai, which has no subways.   A forgettable movie which I barely remember would be Seven Years In Tibet with … nope… don’t recall.  A Sherlock Holmes offering manifested itself in The Seven Percent Solution, a reference to the cocaine with which the sleuth injected himself, which is seriously creepy.   Anyway, there are probably foreign films with Sette or Sieben or good ol’ 七, but that’s what I can think of now without either more coffee or cocaine.  That’s more coffee, not more cocaine.

Posted in Lighter fare | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments