Card. Dolan: “Where’s the Catholic Sandy Koufax?”

Because it is Spring (or close enough) and because in Spring all right-thinking souls turn their thoughts and hopes once again to that summa of sports, baseball, and because the Old English origin of the word “Lent”, lencten, means “Spring”, and because we are in Passiontide and rapidly approaching the end of Lent, a weekly column of His Eminence Timothy Card. Dolan caught my eye.  My emphases.

Have We Lost It?

One of my favorite memories of baseball is about the pitching legend Sandy Koufax. This cherished recollection about one of the game’s greatest pitchers did not occur on the mound, however, it came in 1965, when Sandy informed the manager of the Dodgers that he would not be able to pitch on the Jewish high holyday, Yom Kippur. For Sandy, his faith was more important than even baseball.

Last week I was taking a walk in Central Park and stopped at a cart for a bottle of water. But, the attendant was not to be seen. I walked around the cart hoping to find him, and there he was, a faithful Moslem, on his knees for his duty of prayer.

If you haven’t seen it…

How about the movie Chariots of Fire, the true story about the committed Christian Olympic runner, Eric Liddell, who would not compete on Sunday, the Sabbath? Remember?And now I understand the Jewish members of the senior class at Baruch University have asked that their late Friday afternoon graduation ceremony be rescheduled earlier so as not to interfere with Sabbath. God bless them!

What about us Catholics?

From what I can detect, instead of fidelity to communal acts of penance, we write in for “dispensations” for the measly eight days of fasting left – – Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.

We continue to schedule celebrations, parties, and fundraisers during what should be forty somber days of penance.

As for observing the Sabbath, only 25% of us attend Mass, instead of loyalty to Sunday, when we seem to prefer Starbucks and sporting events – – even sponsored by the CYO!

Our Catholic colleges will compete in “March Madness” even on Good Friday, and coaches in our parishes will complain that CYO games cannot be scheduled on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

The Bible tells us we need fasting, penance, holy days and the Sabbath.

Sociologists tell us that a religion needs what they call “markers” to flourish, external signs (like Sabbath observances and fasting) to flow from internal conviction. [Like reverent sacred worship.]

Am I exaggerating when I ask if we Catholics have lost it?

Where’s the Catholic Sandy Koufax?

The Cardinal asks a good question.

Have we lost it?  It, I think, being our Catholic identity?  An identity strong enough to help us take the narrow and hard path rather than comform?

To start the discussion, I remind the readers of my long-running POLLS, which are implicit requests to the US Bishops…

Should the US Bishops have us return to obligatory "meatless Fridays" during the whole year and not just during Lent?

View Results

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And what about …

Under normal circumstances, should the Latin Church Eucharistic fast (for people who are obliged) before Communion be lengthened?

View Results

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I agree entirely with Card. Dolan in what he asks.  I respond, “Yes, we have lost it.  Our identity has been shattered through reckless liturgy and the dumbing-down or our markers.”

Please, may we have them back?

We might see a change, slowly, in the attitude of Catholics to Mass attendance, Lent, Good Friday, etc., etc., etc. We might also find that we are more respected in the public square.

The moderation queue is ON.  Think before posting.


That admonishment to “think before posting” isn’t being followed by some of you, who think that this is simply an opportunity to vent or to trash the Cardinal.  Look, I didn’t like what he did at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade last year either.

However, if you want to give him a piece of your mind, don’t give it to me.  Go over to his blog, which has a combox of its own, and blast away to his face.  Don’t sneak around.

If he doesn’t personally handle his own blog, but lets handlers do it for him, that’s his choice.  As they say: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Cri de Coeur, Our Catholic Identity, POLLS and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. iPadre says:

    Well said by both Cardinal Dolan and Fr. Z.

    We have given up so much, it is time to reclaim what is rightfully ours, before we loose it all to a world so eager to take what remains.

  2. Andrew D says:

    I usually have to brace myself before listening to commentary from Cardinal Dolan but he’s spot on. Bravo Cardinal: please preach this far and wide in your Archdiocese.

  3. mpolo says:

    We had the cancellation of the Carneval parades here in Germany because of inclement weather. Then those were “made up” on the fourth Sunday of Lent. I suppose there are worse days they could have chosen, but I don’t see why they couldn’t wait an extra week or two and do it on Easter Monday, which is a holiday for all, so wouldn’t inconvenience anyone, really.

    Germany retains having stores closed (for the most part) on Sundays, but there’s quite a fight against it, and I don’t imagine it will survive much longer… And dancing is illegal on Good Friday, which last year brought us protesters dancing in front of the Cathedral on Good Friday.

    I guess Germany has gone so far down the “Work with the Government” for everything, including collection of tithes, that the moral authority to ask from the side of the Church that we refrain from some act or otherwise make a sacrifice is lacking.

  4. juergensen says:

    Cardinal Dolan could lead the way by reinstituting year round meatless Fridays in his Diocese, if he has that authority, and if not, reinstituting it for himself and leading by example.

  5. DonL says:

    Of course Dolan is right, and he might well start with his own archdiocese where only 12% of Catholics attend mass regularly.

  6. ray from mn says:

    Having a three hour fast before Mass, assuming it is kept, and that is a big assumption, will perhaps keep communicants in their pews rather than having them automatically going up for Holy Communion when they need to go to Confession first. The one hour fast is too easy. But by having the three hour fast will keep idle minds from wondering whether or not they are sitting next to an ax murderer.

    What might be harder to break will be “going up by rows.” Ushers should be forbidden from forcing people to go up by rows. Let there be chaos, for a time. That’s the way it used to be in the olden days.

  7. Imrahil says:

    Well… it is no secret that the Catholic attitude to these acts of Penance is a different one from that of others. And that was no different in the better times he may allude to. The Catholic principle was always “fasting only as much that it does not interfere with daily duties” (whereas the Ramadan comes, I hear, at the prince of a collective month of slow-down activities). The Catholic principle was, also, that a feast is something distinct from a fast and that visiting the Sunday Mass, though it is of obligation unless you can claim an excuse, should not actually be the burdensome part of religious practice.

    The morality of Catholics may be worthy of a lot of criticism, but as for our Lord’s directives about putting on a happy face when fasting (that is, a face that is not recognizably unhappier than when not fasting) and about being shy about one’s own religious activities and particularly about not letting them recognize you fasting, we seem to be applying them rather meticulously.

    Indeed it is one of the refreshing things about the Sunday obligation that you can proudly witness to all the world that you are going to Church, because you can claim the excuse “I’m obliged to after all”. How many of us who gladly do that and are, at least in principle, ready to bear hard words against their faith would be distinctly more shy, on the contrary, about their once-in-a-while weekday mass, because they know they wouldn’t have to and would be sorely embarrassed about both mockery and appraisal when it concerns their religious overfulfillment? Me certainly.

    One may accuse us of over-emphasis, but an accusation of over-emphasis of something our Lord actually did say is, no doubt, a difficult and problematic thing.

    I might think that the solution is not “let’s do away with the dispensations” – these developed organically in a Catholic society striving to make the fast compatible with life. (Muslims might say that this is not the point of fasting, and Evangelicals might say that this is not the point of the Sabbath, but Catholics disagree.) It might rather be “let’s bring the number of times when you need these dispensations to a more traditional level”. E. g., the (for a fast day) rather lenient two-collation rule with exception for hard workers and brain workers, on fast days, developped when these fast days where not 2, but 40, plus some Vigils.

    And people might have chosen on their own not to take the dispensations on Good Friday.

  8. anilwang says:

    I voted in favour of “meatless Fridays”, but I don’t think it’s enough.

    I occasionally eat chicken but the only other meat I tend to eat is fish because I like fish so “meatless Fridays” is something I observe without trying. With the number of vegetarians and seafood eaters out there and with so many tasty non-meat alternatives out there “meatless Fridays” is business as usual for many Catholics and would not distinguish Catholics from vegetarians or Hindus or even college students (e.g. meatless pizza and noodles qualify for the fast). So even if Vatican II didn’t happen “meatless Fridays” would lose it’s Catholic Identity marker.

    I say we need a stricter Friday fast, say both without meat or oil. That would definitely be a good Catholic identity marker that would put us more in line with our Eastern brethren.

  9. Imrahil says:

    By the way, 25% of Mass attendance among Catholics is actually a rather fine number. Around here, it’s usually the biblical “one among ten Samaritans”.

  10. robtbrown says:

    “Catholic Sandy Koufax”?

    I have no doubt that there have been people who would fit that description. I also have no doubt that certain bishops, priests, and religious have jumped at the opportunity to ostracize them, with descriptions like “divisive” and “nostalgic for the past”.

  11. Adaquano says:

    I had a question from a friend the other day (a Presbyterian) about if I observe Lenten practices and I told him about not just about Fridays but what and how I choose to sacrifice. I would hope that many would be respectful of those who abstain from meat on Fridays at the office or school cafeteria. I many times see Moslems with prayer mats in parks, and no one questions. Why shouldn’t we be afraid to bless our food when dining out, or stopping to say the Angelus? I’m glad to see Cardinal Dolan speak out about this, because much of his statement sometimes seem lacking in speaking Catholic truth.

  12. bsjy says:

    Every time a pastor or bishop chooses the “pastoral” response over the response demanded by adherence to the laws and customs of the Church, he misses a chance to lead everyone involved back towards their universal call to holiness. That, however, takes a great deal of time, energy, perseverence, and confidence he will not be undermined by the competent authority above him. What he often misses, perhaps due to fatigue, is that the people are yearning to be told the right thing to do by somebody who believes in them enough to tell them. The sheep will hear their shepherd’s voice, if he will speak. The sheep want a shepherd. If the shepherd will summon the courage to say ‘No’ and then the energy to share the good news behind that ‘No’ the sheep will leap with joy and follow the shepherd to the heights of worship and adoration of the God who saves.

    Pastors, love your children enough to lead them towards the salvation of their souls. These “limitations” are really gifts. Give them to your flock.

  13. rtjl says:

    I have recently taken courage from one of my muslim coworkers who disappears several times a day to perform his Salat. He also fasts conscientiously through Ramadan and seeks certain accommodations in view of the weakness that the strict Ramadan fast results in. These accommodations include adjusting work schedules so that more difficult and taxing work occurs in the morning when he is at full strength for instance. He is not a lazy man. He is a hard, consciences worker but he knows that this religious disciplines require that his time and work be managed wisely and effectively. And he is respected for it.

    Note that my colleague is not “in your face” about his practices. He simply does them unabashedly.

    As a result of his example, I have decided that I will use my breaks to pray mid-day prayer and office of readings. I work at a college which has a “quiet room” that Islamic members of our community use for their Salat. It is not provided exclusively for Muslims but they are the main users. I have decided that I will use that room for my daily offices. I have not been in your face about this and although I have been discreet, I have not been secretive.

    It remains to be seen if I will receive the same respect as my Muslim colleague. I suspect not. Where he is seen as exotic, I will probably just be seen as weird.

  14. HeatherPA says:

    I agree with the Cardinal wholeheartedly.
    As many of the new seminarians are appearing to be more orthodox, I am hopeful that the majority of seminaries are beginning to stress the importance of these matters.
    Keep praying! This is a great thing to read today and coming from Cardinal Dolan, too.
    I also just learned that they made and are having a new season of Samurai Jack air on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim this year (all old seasons on Hulu). So today is a pleasant and happy surprise day!

  15. Matthew Gaul says:

    If I read him right, Ray makes a good point about how going up for Communion by rows probably encourages impious communing through social pressure on those who otherwise would sit the Eucharist out.

    One more reason to yank out those Protestant accretions,the pews.

  16. Gabriel Syme says:

    Of course we have “lost it”, but I think we are slowly getting it back!

    Its obvious we have lost it even through the language Cardinal Dolan uses – a Cardinal making a point that someone held their faith “more important than even baseball”. Wow! Really? More important than baseball?! Gosh!

    That shows the state we are in, that such a point may raise eyebrows.

    (There was a guy in recent years who played International level Rugby for Scotland, but who wouldnt play on a Sunday. He was a protestant. The secular world was baffled by him, but you could tell it had a certain respect for him).

    Since I started going to the traditonal mass, I have made an effort to be traditional in my daily affairs too. Dont get me wrong, I’m not praising myself, (I am often very poor at my efforts), just saying what I have done to give others ideas:

    – I started abstaining from meat every Friday, not just lent.

    – in lent I try to give up something I will really miss

    – I started saying a morning prayer, and a better evening prayer, instead of just a rushed evening prayer. I find my morning prayer is always much better and I never forget to do it, like I sometimes do when tired in the evening. I want us to start saying a grace before meals too, but havent started it just yet.

    – I started trying to say the Rosary every day (encouraged by our traditional priests). I am not very good at it – some weeks, I dont manage it even once. A typical good week is maybe 3 or 4 times. But sometimes I manage all 7 times, (Glory!), and I am getting better all the time.

    – I now try to go to confession at least once a month, more often if needed (again encouraged by the traditional priests).

    – I now try to dress smartly to attend Sunday mass. So no jeans, t-shirts etc. I dont look smart enough to stand guard outside Buckingham Palace, but smart enough that its obvious to people I am going somewhere important and which I take very seriously.

    – I now sometimes abstain from taking communion if I know I should not go forward that day (if I need confession). I found this very difficult at first, as before taking communion was de-rigeur because I didnt know one needed to be in a state of grace to approach the altar rail. I didnt like not taking communion at first. But now (if this happens) I am used to it and this abstinence makes it more special when I do approach the rail.

    – I now try to remember to offer up my “crosses” in daily life to God, instead of being angry or despondent. I had no idea about this before, but what a great idea and consolation it is.

    – I try to have something in our home which shows that its a Catholic home (even if just a church calendar or similar).

    And, you know, I have found I really like trying to do all of these things. They are not the burden or inconvenience you might think. Yes I found it difficult to start and maintain some of these practices, but its just about getting into the right frame of mind and asking God and Our Lady for help with them.

    These things are useful as they return our thoughts to God and they help make our faith the central point in our lives. They offer us goals and a sense of reward. And as I have a child now, these practices will form the framework for her upbringing and help underline her catechesis.

    And yes, someone could do these things purely to “look good” for superficial reasons – but I find if you are sincere about them (even if not good at doing them) then they provide a very conducive environment for deepening and strengthening the faith.

  17. Giuseppe says:

    I was friendly with a Baptist chaplain for a number of years. She (yes, she), impressed by how Muslims fast (no food no water) during daytime during Ramadan, started doing it for Lent. She didn’t cite Islam if she was asked – she said she fasted so she could better join with Christ in His suffering.

  18. Liam says:

    I voted in favour of lengthening the fast before communion to 3 hours.

    However, were Mass once again restricted to begin prior to noon each day, I would favour then a return to fasting from midnight onwards.

  19. JamesM says:

    Just a quick point on the Eucharistic fast poll. I voted in favour of a return to fasting from Midnight.

    This would of course require that people are able to attend a morning Mass on Sundays. Unfortunately, in the rare places where one can attend Mass in the EF, it is normally added on at the end of the day. The Mass I attend is at 6:30pm.

  20. johnnys says:

    @Gabriel Syme…..two thumbs up! Wow…..I have been on the same path complete with the failures lol. And the rewards and benefits that you explained very well I have also experienced praise God!

  21. yatzer says:

    If we are to have Catholic identity, how is it that Cardinal Dolan was all for including pro-homosexualist groups in the St. Patrick’s day parade and gave approval to those practicing such? I’m not being snarky here; I agree completely with the article. But there is the St. Patrick parade thing and the way Fr. Rutler’s former parish has been treated, for instance. Which way are we going here?

  22. Imrahil says:

    Dear anilwang,

    I think we might observe that if we choose not to eat meat on Fridays, as a sacrifice, it will come to be felt as a sacrifice. That’s how men are. To quote Michael Ende (Night of Wishes, cpt. “9:30 o’clock”), men don’t usually think about kangaroos, but if I order you not to think about kangaroos for the next fifteen minutes, won’t that be a hard thing?

    As for the polls, yes to the first (though I’d guess one could make “fast but not abstain” an alternative to “abstain but not fast”), and the Eucharistic fast… if I could make suggestions, they’d be much to complicated to be remembered easily… The “normal state of affairs” is, I think, to go to a Sunday Mass (preferredly a solemn mass) during mid-morning, at about 9 or 10 o’clock. So it boils down to, should people have their breakfast before? if so, how much? If we’d choose “three hours food, one hour liquids”, could we perhaps classify coffee as a liquid? Well… I don’t have to have an answer for everything.

  23. cda_sister says:

    I voted yes for the return of meatless Fridays and for the return of the 3 hour fast. These sacrifices are bare minimums compared to Christ’s sacrifice for us. The 3 hr fast only as a result of the varied times for attending Mass. I remember well the fasting from Midnight and it was never an issue, unless perhaps one was ill and then the fast was not required.

    I agree with Cardinal Dolan. I have family members who have children in sports and when the seasons start, especially baseball and softball, these events become their “gods”. Mass? Holy Day?? The response… “Sorry, we have a game/tournament…just can’t make it. God is everywhere…He’s not going to send us to hell for this.”
    Unless you are playing in Podunk City, there are numerous options for attending Mass before or after playing ball. And if timing between games is tight, well tough…be a Sandy Koufax and tell the coaches your kid will miss a game or be late because Mass comes first. This is a big sore spot with me as I worry for their souls

  24. Gerard Plourde says:

    I would suggest that as a start we could attempt to avoid shopping and doing unnecessary servile work on Sundays. There’s a lot that can be done by individuals to honor the Lord’s day. I live near an area that has a large Jewish population (Conservative and Orthodox). The change in character of their neighborhood on Saturdays is noticeable. Why aren’t we Catholics giving similar example?

  25. Maltese says:

    Us crybaby Catholics should look at our Orthodox brethren, and their fasting requirements, for guidance. The Orthodox faith is a manly faith, as the Catholic church used to be before Vatican II. Real men like fasting, because it separates us from the poof nail-biting elements of our faith.

  26. Thomas Sweeney says:

    Midnight fasting was appropriate when we had many 7:00am masses, but now most masses are closer to noon. I think three hours is good.
    In regards to Cardinal Dolan, his liberalism in regards to the St. Patrick’s Day parade contradicts Catholic teaching. Sandy Koufax’s strong stand for his religion should have been a lesson for the Cardinal.

  27. Volanges says:

    I’m in Canada, where abstaining from meat is only required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On any other Friday it can be replaced by another sacrifice although that “either/or” part of the CCCB decree was never promulgated in any parish of which I’ve been part.

    Two years ago, Archbishop Prendergast of the Archdiocese of Ottawa decreed that all Fridays in Lent were days of abstinence for his flock. I’m not part of the flock but I thought I’d follow his decree anyway. When Lent ended I opted to keep up the practice. It’s not been difficult and it makes me feel more connected to the day. Abstaining from other things for Lent is much more difficult because it becomes obvious when you constantly refuse things you would have jumped at before. “Are you on Lent??” was one of the questions I encountered at work from a fellow Catholic. “No, I’m on loan.”

  28. David Zampino says:

    I favor a return to a three-hour fast — with the understanding that some people have health limitations. I do realize that there would be people who have abused (and may continue to do so) said limitations — but I also realize that many people are on medication which must be taken with food.

    Three-hours — for those who can do so; with a little understanding for pregnant women and diabetics!

  29. lmgilbert says:

    Just generally, we are not challenged enough to rise above our natural inclinations. Catholicism is made easy, which is to say, not-Catholicism. The old militant discipline of the Church militant is softened and so are its soldiers.

    The old Divine Office in which the whole Psalter was said in a week is diluted to be a, languid, two week affair. Personally, I had to give the new one away to a young friend and revert to the old in the hope of once again rising to the spirit of prayer the old breviary routinely used to engender.

    This coming Palm Sunday we will be bade to sit during the reading of the Passion. At seventy-three rectitude impends, but I would hope to struggle to my feet and stand for the Passion were I one hundred and five.

    Soft and softer, but I think Emerson said, “Your goodness must have an edge to it.” That hard edge honed by routine discipline is lost, and the spirit of self-denial required “to cry out full throated and unsparingly” against the sins of the of our time is gone as well, and we—especially our young people—are carried away by the age.

  30. Semper Gumby says:

    In light of several recent goings-on in the Archdiocese, as several other commenters have rightly noted, this article is most welcome. Prayers that Cardinal Dolan continues on this path.

    Opening Day on April 3, looks like a rematch between the Royals and Mets to start things off.

  31. lmgilbert says:

    rectitude would be senectitude had I not been outwitted by my spell-checker.

  32. Jackie L says:

    I would suggest that Holy Days not be moved either, I attend the TLM so it’s not at all confusing as it can be while attending the NO.

  33. djc says:

    My hat is off to Cardinal Dolan. He gets it, he really gets it as does Fr. Z.

    The sense of solidarity I feel when I see co-workers with a tuna sandwich or taking the pepperoni off of a piece of pizza on a Friday in Lent is powerful. I’m not alone now in the secular world and the members of my tribe are closer than I thought. In a predominately Protestant world its nice to know you aren’t isolated.

    Kudo’s Fr. Z.

  34. Irene says:

    I favor fast from midnight with water allowed. An exception should be allowed for anyone going directly to work after Mass. Of course this usually would apply at daily Mass, but for some on Sunday too. Perhaps at least one hour, longer if possible, for those going to work.

  35. That Guy says:

    I believe that we should extend the abstinence from meat to all Fridays, and that it should be obligatory. The catechesis on this matter has been nonexistent. When I tell fellow Catholic co-workers why I won’t partake of the pulled pork and ribs at the Company BBQ every year, I see it as an opportunity to teach that Fridays are penitential days. When I explain that it is optional, though must be supplanted by an alternative mortification, and that abstinence from meat remains the preferred mortification of the Church, they say, “Just give up something else”. Seems we are always seeking some way to not take up the Cross.

    Regarding fasting more than an hour, I think I am very lucky to have daily Mass available to me (geographic proximity and flexible work schedule), so I would not wish to impose any additional obstacles on those not as fortunate as I. I agree with the point that we ought not all, ALWAYS go to Communion, and I acknowledge that we can surely console Our Lord at Mass even if we don’t “get in line” (perhaps even ESPECIALLY if we don’t get in line) but I do believe that for those properly disposed, getting in line ought to be normative. We ought not be Jansenist about this.

  36. doozer125 says:

    Its not that “we lost it” its just that its hard to be serious about our faith when EVERYTHING we see coming out of our Church is washed down, ambiguous, immoral, not-so-solid, modernist garbage….sad to say.

  37. Benedict Joseph says:

    Mea culpa. Sorry, Cheeta got out of the house before I could think…

  38. Geoffrey says:

    I voted in the affirmative that the U.S. Bishops should return to the obligatory “meatless Fridays” during the whole year and not just during Lent. If the Bishops of England and Wales can do it, why not here?

    I also voted that the 3 hour fast before Holy Communion should be restored as the norm. I feel most people ignore the 1 hour fast as it is. Fasting from midnight would not work if you were to go to Mass at noon or in the evening.

  39. acricketchirps says:

    People that know the word “senectitude” need to disable their spell checkers.

  40. iamlucky13 says:

    “be a Sandy Koufax and tell the coaches your kid will miss a game or be late because Mass comes first. “

    Unfortunately, you won’t receive reasonable religious accommodation for this. In most large schools, anything less than the team being the absolute highest priority effectively blacklists your child from being considered for varsity.

    Which is hardly an unbearable lost opportunity, but many children will resent being force to choose between two good things. Even though they are capable of understanding that one of them is a far greater good than the other, few to none of their friends care about religion or are asked by their parents to compromise their desire to excel at sports. Instead, their priorities will be attacked by both their peers and their mentors – basically, everyone that matters to them except their parents.

  41. billy15 says:

    As for the topic title, I think I’ve found someone who could be considered the “Catholic Sandy Koufax”. Miami Marlins pitcher David Phelps is a great witness to the faith and has said some really awesome things about how important the Church is in his life. He’s definitely a baseball player I want my son to look up to. Here’s a little bit of what he’s said in the past, and there’s more from that interview below the excerpt in a blog post I made several months ago:

    “I came to realize what I was missing out on. There are so many great things in the Catholic Church, but the most desirable one is the Eucharist. It had been so long since I had received Jesus sacramentally, and I knew it was time to start doing so again. [A priest and I] discussed my concerns, and he heard my confession. All the obstacles that had kept me back from being totally united to Jesus were removed, and I was able to receive him in the Eucharist again. It was a great relief to be back in the Church.

    “Another thing I’ve gained from the Church is an understanding of the theology of the body, a topic I’ve found to be life-changing. To know not just the biological significance, but the theological significance of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman is incredibly helpful. It puts individual actions in the greater context of an all-encompassing divine Providence.”

  42. This is one of those cases where, regardless of what else he may or may not have done, Cardinal Dolan got this one right. Now I just wish he’d put a bit of muscle behind the speech from the bully pulpit. Encouraging our leaders when they say the right things is just as important as calling them on doing the wrong things.

  43. jflare says:

    Given His Eminence’s stated attitudes and his actions these past few years, I do find his concern to be quite relevant, but not a perspective that I expect him to act upon with any particular vigor. I found myself groaning inwardly when I read about the examples of Sandy Koufax or a Muslim who owns a hot-dog stand. For all that I find I’m awed by such intentions, I consider that Catholics do not currently have the political or social clout to require that such religious observances be honored. In our efforts to be “accommodating”, we’ve all but surrendered most opportunities to live out a distinct Catholic identity. I find this quite odd: I have heard plenty about identity politics in the last few decades, but I have heard almost nothing of substance from the one “identity” that everyone should be pursuing.
    I would think we would want to emphasize getting to heaven above all else; instead, we’re required to behave as though heaven or hell may not exist.
    I think we definitely need to return to meatless Fridays. We need to have the incentive to even have the argument over why such a practice has any imporantant character.

  44. Nan says:

    My parents never changed their fast when I was small and we went to church. I just knew that we couldn’t eat until after Mass; that was years before I had received my First Communion. As an adult returning to the Church, I was surprised to find that the fast was an hour before receiving rather than beginning at Midnight the night before.

    Our previous Abp. fasted from meat on Fridays to foster vocations and invited everyone to join him. I learned that at some point after being confirmed, which happened 7 yrs ago; it gave me a much better response when people accused me of being early for Lent. We still have our loaner Abp. but hope to receive our own this summer.

    The bottom line here is that although it would be great if the bishops collectively decided that fasting from meat on Fridays all year round is a good thing, there’s nothing to stop us from making that decision ourselves, finding out if our local ordinary fasts from meat on Fridays and if he doesn’t, asking him to join us in our fast and to extend that invitation to all, nor is anything stopping us from extending our personal Eucharistic Fast.

    In my diocese, joining together and fasting from meat on Fridays with the intent of healing would be a good idea. We’ve had a lot of turmoil these last few years.

  45. Filipino Catholic says:

    Many Catholics in my own country don’t observe the law of fast and abstinence, usually those in the urban areas where contact with modern culture is more prevalent. However in the countryside it is upheld quite regularly and those who don’t abide by it are called “erehe”, a bastardized version of the Spanish word for heretic.

    The older norms of fasting and abstinence are no longer in force though, and due to the inroads the Born-Agains (our word for Evangelicals) have made as of late, there’s already a percentage of Catholics here who are embarrassed about their traditions for a plethora of reasons (unbiblical, “traditions of men”, too ceremonial, “mercy over sacrifice”, etc.), yet another reason for the slackoff on Lenten disciplines. It doesn’t help that for certain Filipinos, traditions represent the tyranny of colonial Spain and of corrupt friars. Guilt by association is hard to absolve in such cases.

    On the other hand some traditions remains very much alive and well here: the entire Triduum is even enshrined as a national holiday of no work.

  46. tealady24 says:

    I live in a county in NJ, that to my knowledge offers NO LATIN MASSES at all. Yet, in the “backwoods” of northeast PA there is one, and in other parts of the state you may find one if you’re lucky. I can’t understand why in parishes where you have thousands of people there are no alternatives.
    There is little in daily life to remind us that we are Catholics first, and Americans second. My mother always said she had to fast from midnight on if she wanted to received the Eucharist. All the little, important devotions are not emphasized any longer; the mass has become an Evangelistic “celebration” that is nothing I remember! Our pastor doesn’t so much as kneel or bow when passing the tabernacle. If the Church wants to be just like the secular culture, why bother?
    Fasting, sacrifice, penance, who hears these words anymore?

  47. robtbrown says:

    1. FYI, Koufax was not an observant Jew. He didn’t play as an example to other Jews who were.

    2. He is my favorite player of all time and, IMHO, the best pitcher ever. Bill James says that, except for Babe Ruth, no player had such effect on a game. He was so good that he was all but superhuman.

    3. Although I have no objection to increasing the Eucharist fast, isolated acts of stricter discipline don’t make much sense to me when juxtaposed with a trivialized, clappy liturgy.

  48. KateD says:

    There is no Catholic Sandy Kouvax because we Catholics are spiritually starving…we have been neglected and mal nourished since 1964 and haven’t the strength, therefore, to fight the good fight.

    We sheep bleat: FEED US! Feed our souls with food that is substantial and will remain with us, sticking to our ribs, so to speak. Bring back proper Catechesis and quit watering down our portions.

    And the parade is relevant….because it is a perfect example of precisely the thing the good Cardinal Dolan is lamenting.

    By Jove….I think he’s on the verge of a major break through!

    Isn’t this what we’ve all hoped for? Pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to enlighten our Cardinals and bring them to His way of thinking.

  49. Rosary Rose says:

    Gabriel Syme – You are inspirational. Thank you. Praying for you!

    Perhaps our leaders need encouragement. We can be more Catholic in our daily lives and when our Leaders see we support them, they will be bolder too. Of course, that is in combination with praying for our Leaders.

    Another small, but significant act I learned from my parents was to cross myself whenever passing a Catholic church. It reminds us that Christ is on the altar. It makes a difference.

    Matthew Kelly has a good recording about minimalism and avoiding it as Catholics.

  50. KateD says:

    Those of us who HAVE found the greener and more nourishing pastures in the Tridentine Mass and the Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgies have become robust in our faith. We have the strength to fast through Lent and do not work on Sunday’s and we attend Mass and heed the voice of our shepherds and we raise up our children in the way they should go. It is among these communities where you will find not just one Sandy Kouvax, but an army. Your weaker sheep will be made strong if you will lead them to these pastures, Your Eminence, and feed His sheep. (Posting here in the event they won’t let me post there :)

  51. Elizabeth D says:

    I fast (genuinely fast) and abstain from animal foods every day except Sunday during Lent and have done for quite a few years. I do have some coffee, which I find I need to get things done. To those who are inclined to keep a traditional fast and whose health and state in life can permit, I just want to say it can be done, and although it is not comfortable in my opinion it is easy compared to giving up various habitual sins and attachments. When you fast for a longer period of time the evening meal you take should be large enough for the day. The minimal precept requirements are not a limitation of fasting but a minimum.

  52. Ferde Rombola says:

    Perhaps if Cardinal Dolan and his brother bishops did more teaching of Catholic doctrine and started refusing the Blessed Sacrament to politicians who support abortion and homosexual agenda, they might convince people who call themselves Catholics but don’t go to Mass on Sunday that they take the Faith seriously. Right now many of them are just coasting along and getting along. That’s one reason the marginally faithful so the same.

  53. Imrahil says:

    Indeed it can be done. To my genuine surprise (I had actually settled for abstinence from meat, because easy, and only wanted to fast the old Ember days) I did fast year… just came to me that I could do it Thursday after Ash Wednesday, and so on. With some exceptions, and with a rather strong midday meal, and a rather wide interpretation of the two collations, and lots of coffee. So, yes, it can be done. That is, if you live alone or if those you live with fast also, or are your children.

    I second what the dear iamlucky13 said, by the way. There’s one thing parents shouldn’t do and that is make religion more burdensome to their children than it is… and while it is of obligation (I guess in general – maybe there’s a difference for a limited number of very singular occasions, you’d have to ask a moral theologian) not to go to the match if that’s your only opportunity for a Sunday mass, in most cases there’s Sunday masses on Saturday and Sunday evening too.

    As Eugen Roth said in his poem “Wrong challenge”,

    A man, who is right in the middle,
    beloved well: on the second fiddle,
    rather than bear his fate in volition
    forces friend and woman to decision.
    And they, who’d have preferred to lie,
    declare: “of course we like you. Why?
    But you’d have clear words, ‘las, and so
    with deep regret: the answer’s no.”
    The man, hitherto put up with well,
    as his own fault has this to tell:
    For there are many things worthwhile,
    which you’d not better put to trial:
    Like much, from birth onto life’s ending,
    they are not bearable but in pending.

  54. discipulus says:

    I chose “1 hour is just right”.

    Maybe if/when there comes a time when the Extraordinary Form of Mass becomes the norm again, I might be more supportive of extending the Eucharistic Fast. However, our local EF Mass attracts people from nearly 50 miles away, and some of them must drive dangerous mountain roads to get there. As such, I feel, at this time, that an hour is just right.

    BTW, I usually fast another hour before Mass in order to do more than bare minimum.

    [To all reader: The Eucharistic fast is, now, one hour before Communion, not one hour before Mass. Just in case anyone was not clear about that.]

  55. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    I heard, in the 1970’s, about a dubium sent in to Rome in the 1950’s, concerning Communion row-by-row. The response was a ringing condemnation of the practice.

    Catholics should do their part to break this practice down. If you are in the back of the Church, don’t wait for the usher to get to your pew.

  56. Giuseppe says:

    Both Notre Dame and Gonzaga play on Good Friday. Separate games. Will either team forfeit? Will either team decline to play? How well will they play while fasting? How much Gatorade (TM) is allowed? What will the Holy Cross and Jesuit fathers be doing during the game?

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