ASK FATHER: Latin Instituted Acolytes in Eastern liturgies

From a reader…


I have two Questions concerning the liturgical role of instituted acolytes in the Eastern Rites:

1) May a man who has been instituted as an acolyte according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite vest and act as a subdeacon in an Eastern Rite Liturgy?

2) Would an instituted acolyte be considered as already having been ordained as a subdeacon in the Eastern Rite Churches or would he have to be ordained a subdeacon in the Eastern Rite before he could function as a subdeacon in the Divine Liturgy?

I asked a priest friend about this, who in turn did some consultation.  Team work!

This is what I received:

I consulted a knowledgeable Eastern friend of mine, Adam DeVille. Adam says, “Usually, yes, though there is nothing formal about this and it would likely depend almost entirely on the discretion of the pastor/main celebrant. Likely, however, he would not in fact vest as a subdeacon (with an orarion or “stole”) but as a simple acolyte (sticharion/dalmatic and no orarion), but even here there would be some variation – Greeks regularly dress up 6-year-old altar boys in the same two vestments as ordained adult subdeacons!
Since 1972, in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, acolytes are no longer ordained, but rather “instituted.” Therefore, a Latin man, who has been instituted as an acolyte, who then transfers to an Eastern ritual Church and seeks holy orders, would have to be ordained in that ritual Church to the minor orders.

If a Latin man had received ordination to the minor orders, in one of the religious communities entrusted to the Ecclesia Dei commission, for example, he would not have to be re-ordained in those orders in the Eastern Church.

All these, and many more questions are answered in a forthcoming book, The Oxford Handbook of Sacramental Theology, particularly the chapter on the Sacrament of Orders by Adam DeVille.

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Registered or not, will you in your charity please take a moment look at the requests and to pray for the people about whom you read?

Continued from THESE.

I get many requests by email asking for prayers. Many requests are heart-achingly grave and urgent.

As long as my blog reaches so many readers in so many places, let’s give each other a hand. We should support each other in works of mercy.

If you have some prayer requests, feel free to post them below.

You have to be registered here to be able to post.

I still have a pressing personal petition.

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COMING SOON! The Eleven Cardinals Book and The Ten Africans Book!

The other day I wrote about two upcoming books.  The “sequel” to the Five Cardinals Book™ is coming.  HERE

The Eleven Cardinals Book™ is on its way.

Eleven Cardinals Speak On Marriage and the Family

Eleven Cardinals Book

Edited by Winfried Aymans the Eleven Cardinals Book is slated for release on 25 September (in advance of the Synod on the Family).  For more on the Cardinals, HERE.  The publisher is – who else? – Ignatius Press!

This book has as its focus merciful pastoral ministry to those who are in challenging marriage situations.  It will address marriage preparation, evangelization and conversion, the situation of the divorced and civilly remarried.

Next… slated for release on 28 September (in advance of the Synod on the Family), also from Ignatius Press (who else?)…

Christ’s New Homeland – Africa: A contribution to the Synod on the Family

This is the Ten Africans Book™!

Christs New Homeland Africa

Ten African cardinals and bishops wrote essays about the attitudes of Africans about marriage and the family.   The indomitable Francis Card. Arinze wrote the preface.

Among the cardinals and bishops are

Card. Sarah
Card. Arinze
Card. Tumi
Card. Sarr
Arcbp. Kleda

There will be Kindle versions of both.

Get a Kindle now, if you don’t have one already.  USA HERE – UK HERE

Watch for links on this blog!

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Synod, The Campus Telephone Pole, The Coming Storm | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

ASK FATHER: Novus Ordo formula for Communion during TLM?

From a reader…


I was told by a reverent, well-formed priest who celebrates the old Mass well and often that the formula for distribution for communion is not specified in the missal.  [Ooops!]

He showed me that in the altar missal itself, there IS no ritual for distribution of communion to the faithful and said that when it became common practice for people to receive communion during Mass the rite from the Ritual was adapted, some using the same formula the priest uses himself, and some using the response “Corpus Christi” which appears in the old Rituale as well as the new rite.  [Ooops!  No.]

It is therefore “perfectly correct”, he says, to say “Corpus Christi” when distributing communion in the old Mass. [No. Sorry.]

Is he correct? Or is there some sort of rubric or governing legislation specifying what the priest should say to communicants?

Father is to be commended for celebrating the Extraordinary Form often!  I hope that often is public and growing in frequency.

That said…

No and Yes.

Father, God bless him, is not correct on this point.  There are rubrics that govern this in the 1962 Missale Romanum.

The manner of distribution of Holy Communion in the Extraordinary Form is described in the 1962 Missale Romanum.  Look in the front sections (the rubrics and calendar and so forth), in the section called “The Rite to be observed in the celebration of Mass”, the Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, X, 6.  The formula Corpus Domini nostri… etc. is to be spoken for each (unicuique) communicant. Here is the text with my emphases.

6 Si qui sunt communicandi in Missa, …. […. Skipping up to the point where Communion is distributed….] Quibus verbis tertio repetitis, accedit ad eorum dexteram, hoc est, ad latus Epistolae, [NB] et unicuique porrigit Sacramentum faciens cum eo signum crucis super Pyxidem vel Patenam, et simul dicens: Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen. Omnibus communicatis, revertitur ad Altare, nihil dicens: et non dat eis benedictionem, quia illam daturus est in fine Missae. Si particulae positae erant super Corporale, extergit illud cum Patena, et si qua in eo fuerint fragmenta, in Calicem immittit. Deinde dicit secreto: Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, etc., et se purificat, dicens: Corpus tuum, Domine, quod sumpsi, etc., et alia facit ut supra. Minister autem dextera manu tenens vas cum vino et aqua, sinistra vero mappulam, aliquanto post Sacerdotem eis porrigit purificationem, et mappulam ad os abstergendum.

Take note of uniquique.  This is dative of unusquisque (unus + quisque – both elements are declined), meaning “to each one/communicant”.

“… and to each one he presents the Sacrament making with It the sign of the Cross over the ciborium or paten, also saying at the same time: Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam.”

Here is a shot from my hand 1962 Missale Romanum.  Note that we have a reversal of red and black for rubrics and texts to be spoken!  In this case, Father, Say The Red – Do The Black!



Father is correct that in the Ordinary of the Mass in the Missale Romanum the manner of Communion for the faithful isn’t described.  But it is in the Ritus servandus!

It is also correct that the method of distribution of Communion to the faithful, perceived as a separate rite, in its own right as it were, was incorporated in the rites of Holy Mass.  There is a separate rite for distribution of Communion outside of Mass, found in the Rituale Romanum.  This is useful for when, for example, the choir could not come down for Communion during Communion time in the Mass, but they would like to receive.  After Mass they come to the rail and Father (or a deacon) can give them Communion using the rite in the Rituale.

Therefore, Father should correct his practice right away.  The whole form is to be spoken for each communicant.

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The importance – and legitimacy – of ‘ ad orientem ‘ worship

I bring to the readership’s attention a letter that was issued by His Eminence Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.  A priest friend reminded me of this letter in an email.

It has a couple great points which all of you should know.

Adoremus Bulletin has a translation HERE
Catholic World Report has a translation HERE
Corpus Christi Watershed has a translations side-by-side with the Italian HERE

One of the most important things in the letter is His Eminence’s support of ad orientem worship for Holy Mass.

The Prefect wrote:

Contrary to what has sometimes been maintained, it is in full conformity with the conciliar Constitution—indeed, it is entirely fitting—for everyone, priest and congregation, to turn together to the East during the penitential rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations, and the Eucharistic prayer, in order to express the desire to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ. This practice could well be established in cathedrals, where liturgical life must be exemplary (cf. §41).

There are no documents which require that the main ad orientem altar of a church be destroyed or that a table be set up in front of it.  As a matter of fact, if the main altar is of note and is clearly the focus of the church and sanctuary, it is absurd and theologically confused to set up a separate altar.

We should all be ready with reasons why ad orientem worship should be reintroduced.

To get up to speed on catechesis you might start by listening to some PODCAzTs (esp. #37, #43, #48, I made about the altar and ad orientem worship.

Every priest needs to have at least these three resources.  Fathers, if you don’t have these books, buy them now with these links.  Readers, get these books.  Start reading groups to study them.  Be the maquis!

Klaus Gamber’s The Reform of the Roman Liturgy.

Michael Lang’s Turning Towards the Lord.

Joseph Ratzinger The Spirit of the Liturgy.


Klaus Gamber thought that the single most damaging change to our Catholic worship and identity after the Council was the switching around of altars.  Surely he was right.

You will also need some clarity about the infamously mistranslated GIRM 299 on the orientation of the altar.  HERE

Good, serious priests, concerned about their flocks and how they are shaped by our all-important sacred worship are making the choice to celebrate Holy Mass ad orientem.   (For example HERE.) Some of them take a lot of heat for it.  Some of them even endure persecution from other priests and even – horribile scriptu – their bishops!  Bishops should be the first to celebrate ad orientem and teach their priests about the value of ad orientem worship.  Of course that means that they will have to, in many cases, learn it themselves and then be willing to feel the heat from liberals who prefer liturgy to be horizontal and closed in on themselves.

These priests need support.  Others need careful, respectful and prudent urging to come around themselves.

Ad orientem!  It just makes sense!


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Be The Maquis, Decorum, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Instructional Video: How To Argue Like A Liberal

From the amusing folks at Lutheran Satire:

Posted in Liberals, Lighter fare | Tagged , | 4 Comments

ASK FATHER: Can I send my kids to an SSPX school?

sspx-busFrom a reader…

We live near a private school run by the SSPX. I have no doubt the school eschews educational fads and gives a solid, faith-based education, and because of that it, along with the oddly sectarian-like community around it, seem to be thriving. I’m wondering about the canonical allowability (and general wisdom) of sending our children to this school. One of them already attends an evangelical Protestant school and two others are in the public system; I hardly think the SSPX folks would be any more dangerous as teachers than the Protestants and pagans already teaching my children, although I realise that these other teachers don’t necessarily have as much of an axe to grind about Rome. I’m also wondering about the canonical status of attending their Mass – is it permissible even to attend? Would it be necessary to refrain from Communion?

All things being equal, it is wise to give a wide berth to those groups which are not in unimpaired communion with the Bishop of Rome.

However, as you know, all things are not equal these days. Alas, we live in a time when having “Catholic” on the school or the parish’s sign is no guarantee of sound doctrine.

If one had the option of a solid school, staffed and operated by the Priestly Society of St. Pius X and a solid school, staffed and operated by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, there would be no question of an obligation to support and send one’s children to the FSSP school.

Parents now have to make some very difficult choices.

The fact that the local parish has a school is no longer a guarantee that it’s a school where little Barney and Beatrix will get a solid education and good formation in the Faith. Parents have a serious obligation to educate their children in the Faith.  This is even spelled out in canon law. Canon 226 states, in part,

“parents have the most serious obligation and right to educate their children. It is therefore primarily the responsibility of Christian parents to ensure the Christian education of their children in accordance with the teaching of the Church.”

If solid, Catholic schools in full communion with the Bishop of Rome are not available, then parents must do their utmost to supplement their children’s education in the Faith.

But remember… parents are the FIRST educators of their children!  They must know the Faith so they can hand it on regardless of how solid their parish or school.  Parishes and schools are NOT SUBSTITUTES for the instruction that parents must give.

That said…

It may be that sending one’s children to a Protestant school, which provides good moral training, decent scripture study, and quality overall education, might be an option for some parents, [Since I posted this, I must revised.  Canonist Ed Peters added in the combox the sobering can. 1366: “Parents or those who take the place of parents who hand over their children to be baptized or educated in a non-Catholic religion are to be punished with a censure or other just penalty.”  I suspect that this canon is hardly ever applied.  I had forgotten about it, frankly.] who will then have to take the extra time to teach their children the Catholic dimension they will miss.  They would need to correct Protestant heresies and errors.  They would probably have the difficult task of teaching their children to respect their teachers, but not believe everything those same teachers tell them.  Not a good scenario.

Other parents could choose a public school. They must then shoulder the entire responsibility of teaching the Faith to their kids.

Others may choose a school operated by the Society of St. Pius X.  These parents will also have to supplement their children’s education in the Faith to stress the importance of fidelity to the Bishop of Rome and obedience to proper ecclesiastical authority.  They will have to teach their children to respect all priests and bishops.  It could be, in some cases, a reasonable option to choose.

I would monitor very closely what your children are being taught.  But that rule applies no matter which school they attend!

That said…

I caution against regular participation in Masses offered by the priests of the Society, especially if there are options available in parishes that are in full communion with the local bishop.

I strongly caution against reception of Holy Communion at these Masses, especially in places where the local bishop has made his magisterial opinion known.

Yes, the Masses are valid.  Yes, the Eucharist is validly confected.  Yes, it really is Jesus Christ.  Yes, one can fulfill one’s Mass obligation there.  However, their priest’s do not have faculties validly to receive confessions.  What happens when it is time for little Beatrice’s 1st confession?

Strive always in your actions and prayers to cleave closer and closer in unity with Holy Church’s visible head, the Bishop of Rome.

I look forward to their canonical reconciliation… and soon!

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, SSPX | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Two book recommendations: on women in the Church and on homosexuals

Kids heading back to school? HERE  Heading back to college? HERE

Need a Kindle? Yes, is the correct answer. HERE (UK HERE – try the new Paperwhite!)

I have a couple book suggestions for you. The titles should let you know plenty about the topics.


I am just getting into them.

First, on the heals of the annual meeting of the LCWR with the Great Swirly, check out Monica Migliorino Miller’s The Authority of Women in the Catholic Church.  UK link HERE  She offers a view of the role of women that doesn’t fall into the trap that virtually all feminists fall into: the trap of seeing authority and roles as power.

Also, a treatment of a burning issue in our time, Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same Sex Attraction by Janet Smith and Fr. Paul Check of Courage.  UK link HERE.

Get books! Read books. As the that great philosopher Groucho Marx said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Unless you have a Kindle Paperwhite, I suppose.

Posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, REVIEWS, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Campus Telephone Pole | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

ASK FATHER: A single Mass for 3 or 4 intentions – and stipends

First, a note.  Never … and I mean never send me or any other priest a Mass intention and stipend without asking first whether we are free to take the intention and stipend.  It must be worked out beforehand.  That said…

From a reader…


In my parish each Mass is said for 3 or 4 intentions, with a stipend for each intention. I recently gave a stipend of $20 for a Mass to be said for my wife alone, but another person’s intention was also added.

Is this allowed?

The laws on Mass stipends are clear, though the application of these laws has become convoluted in places because of different salary schemes for priests.

Historically, the stipend for a Mass was intended to be equivalent to a priest’s daily needs.  Yes, priests – secular priests especially – have to pay bills too.

Since a priest could only say Mass once a day, the stipend was intended to cover his food, lodging, upkeep for that day. Provisions were made in the law so that on those special occasions where a priest was permitted to say more than one Mass, he would only be able to keep the stipend for one of those Masses. The extra stipend would go into a separate account, usually for some charitable purpose or the support of seminarians.  (NB: There is a provision in law that a priest can keep more than one stipend on Christmas.)

In addition, some priests obtained benefices, that is, pastoral assignments which provided them with an income, in addition to the Mass stipend. In Europe, for example, many parishes had been endowed over the years with farms, or fields, or even office buildings, the rent or income from which was given to the pastor.

Human nature being what it is, there were problems with that approach.   In Italy I once spoke with a woman who said that her father told he that the pastor used to ride out on his horse to collect rents… with a shotgun.   While I see no problem with Father riding around with a rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, a M134D chain gun, collecting rent a gun point may not be Father’s very best pastoral approach.

In the past 50 or so years, most dioceses have come up with alternative ways by which the priests receive income. In many dioceses in these USA, the priest is paid a salary from the parish to which he is assigned (if he’s assigned to a parish). Any Mass stipends he receives at that parish, then, go to the parish.

Once a stipend has been accepted, there is an obligation to offer Mass for the intention specified by the donor.

If the priest himself is unable to fulfill this obligation, he is to make provision for the Mass to be offered by another priest. The stipend then goes to the priest who says the Mass. Missionary orders often rely on these Mass stipends to pay for the support of their priests.

In these USA $10 Mass stipend might buy a priest’s lunch, but in Gabon $10 could cover a whole day’s costs of living.

On 22 February 1991, the Congregation for the Clergy (which has competence over the issue of Mass stipends in the external forum) issued a decree (HERE), permitting Mass to be offered for multiple intentions in some specific situations.

First of all, this is not to be done more than twice a week in any parish. All parties who offer a stipend for this collective intention are to be informed that their intention is to be merged with other intentions.  Any amount above the ordinary amount received for a Mass stipend is to be sent to the local Ordinary (usually the diocesan bishop) for application to some purpose that the Ordinary has determined (usually some charitable venture). The decree urges another solution to the “problem” of too many stipends: forward the surplus of stipends and intentions on to other priests, or their Ordinary, so that other priests (many of whom need the stipends for sustenance can offer those Masses).

In my early years of priesthood in Italy, I was desperate for stipends just to make ends meet… barely.  When I had a windfall, I tried to share stipends with some priests from the third world.  One African priest, as a matter of fact, use to come to me asking for stipends and I usually found something for him.  He is now a bishop in a very dangerous place.  Would that I had this blog back then, to help people connect with priests who need stipends… but I digress.

As the decree clearly states, these pluri-intentional Masses are not to be the norm. They are exceptional situations.

When would something like this be appropriate?  Take, for example, the situation that arises from the deaths of Ottmar Mergenthaler on 1 October 1999 and Myrna Opdyke on 1 October 2012.  Both families would like a Mass to be offered on the anniversary of their loved one’s death at their same local parish church, St. Christine the Astonishing, where there is only one Mass per day.

Again, these situations are exceptions, not the norm.

Therefore, unless the priest informed you beforehand that your intention was going to be merged with another intention, no, this is not allowed.

I would approach the priest and ask what happened.

If his answer is not satisfactory, contact the local Ordinary.


I’ve already started getting email both from priests who don’t have stipends and from lay people who – for one reason or another – can’t get their intentions celebrated.

I have often though about how to connect the two.  I had once put together a proposal about a site that would do this – be a matchmaker – and I ran it by a famous canonist.  We determined that it would be very hard to make this work.

We have to be very cautious, scrupulously so, to avoid even the semblance of “trafficking” in Mass stipends (1983 CIC can. 947).  This is serious business.  Can. 1385 says that “a person who illegitimately makes a profit from a Mass offering is to be punished with a censure or another just penalty”.

I don’t think it is impossible, but it would be hard.


Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged , , , , | 33 Comments

Blessings for important things and things for everyday use

The traditional Roman Ritual has wonderful blessings for all sorts of things we use in our daily life, things and places not designated specifically for sacred purposes.  For example, you can get your grapes blessed, along with your airplanes, mountain climbing equipment, seismographs, sick beds and linens for the sick, and your molten metal (intended for bells).

My friend the mighty PP of Margate, His Hermeneuticalness Fr. Tim Finigan, has a post about blessing a car.

I should interject here that when I bless cars they are often thereafter involved in an accident.  I always warn people about that.  One time, however, a lady came back to me and said: “Imagine how bad it would have been if you hadn’t blessed it!”

The blessings in the Ritual will often be quite poetic, drawing on images and events from Scripture.  The blessing of a car mentions how the Ethiopian Eunuch was tooling along in his chariot when he ran into the Philip the Deacon (cf Acts 8).

The blessing for a fire engine mentions that the youths were unscathed in the fiery furnace (cf Daniel 3).  The blessing for a generator uses Ps 91: His lightnings illumine the world; the earth sees and trembles.

I once used the blessing for mountain climbing equipment for the hardware that went into a knee replacement.

Check out Fr. Finigan’s post.  He even mentions my old friend and teacher, the Latinist Fr. Reginald Foster.

In Italy a few times I stood along the street and blessed cars on the Feast of St. Rita.  I wonder if there was a sharp spike in accidents that day.


Posted in Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments