Sunday, March 29, 2015


Pope Francis and the ambivalence of popularity

PLUS: Skirmishing over the Synod of Bishops, and does Cardinal Tagle have a date with history?
If Pope Francis were the President of the United States, he would now be on the other side of his first midterm election, having marked his two-year anniversary on March 13, and all indications are his party would have done exceptionally well.

The pope’s poll numbers remain sky-high, with the most recent Pew Forum study putting his approval rating among American Catholics at 90 percent. While a president would probably take that and run, being pope is a bit more complicated.

For one thing, a pope is expected to be not an electoral dynamo, but a living saint. As “House of Cards” proves definitively, Americans long ago abandoned the conceit that our civic leaders are or should be paragons of virtue.

For another, a pope has the whole world to think about. Of the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics on the planet, only about 70 million are Americans, representing a little less than 6 percent of the global Catholic population.

Nowhere, however, is the complexity of being pope more obvious than the ambivalence over popularity.

For one thing, there’s a swath of the Catholic Church, both in America and elsewhere, that cringes when a pope enjoys strong appeal in the outside world, especially in secular circles of opinion. The logic unfolds like this:
• Premise: Secularism is hostile to the Catholic faith.
• Premise: Anyone who upholds the Catholic faith is bound to be despised by secularists.
• Q.E.D.: Anyone popular with secularists is a danger to the faith.

Last October, a Catholic theologian who writes on apocalyptic themes, meaning descriptions of the end-times in the Bible’s Book of Revelations, published an open letter to Pope Francis questioning his doctrinal orthodoxy. It featured this warning: “No matter what other good you do, no matter what other humanitarian engagement you promote, or popularity contest you win, if you lead the faithful astray, you will be nothing more than a false pope.”

For this kind of believer, one bedrock of the faith is a saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
Such Catholics are never more comfortable than when a pope is under attack, and never more alarmed than when the world applauds. Most will be inclined to suspect that the world has misunderstood the pope if it likes what it sees, not that the pope has erred, but there are enough who cut the other way to create a problem.

At the opposite end of the Catholic spectrum, there are some progressives who always rued what they described as a populist “cult of personality” under Pope St. John Paul II, feeling that it reinforced what they saw as his unwarranted claims to papal power.
In their nastier moments, and usually off the record, some clergy and theologians would compare the adoring crowds John Paul II drew for almost 27 years to party rallies staged by some of history’s great  demagogues, such as Mussolini or Ceaușescu. [not to mention Eva Peron!]
Liberals don’t tend to have the same beef with Francis, because they support more of what they take to be his agenda, but who knows how long that will last?

Papal popularity is a mixed blessing in yet another sense, because it can bog down efforts to put the divided Christian family back together.

Pope Francis has made ecumenism, meaning the press for Christian unity, one of the cornerstones of his agenda, and he’s moved the ball.

He’s made Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the “first among equals” of Orthodox leaders, his partner in diplomacy; he’s signaled a willingness to meet the head of the Russian Orthodox Church any time, any place; and he sat down with a delegation of Evangelical ministers last June, even swapping high-fives with American televangelist James Robinson after speaking of the need for a personal relationship with Jesus.

Part of the reason these leaders beat a path to Francis’ door is precisely his popularity, because they grasp that he has the biggest bully pulpit of any spiritual potentate in the world and there’s no choice but to engage him.

Yet that same popularity can also deepen suspicions. The Russian Orthodox, for instance, have long feared that reunion with Rome would ultimately mean being placed under the thumb of an imperial papacy, no matter what theological or structural assurances the Vatican might offer.

Watching Francis elicit hosannas from the media, and seeing him draw rapturous crowds of 3 million in Brazil and a stunning 6 million to 7 million in the Philippines – in the teeth of a tropical storm, no less – probably doesn’t help abate those concerns.

At some level, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has to know that if he’s in the same room with Francis, he’s never going to be an equal in anything other than a theoretical sense, even in Russia itself.
Trawl the Evangelical blogosphere sometime, and you’ll find that such concerns are hardly restricted to the Orthodox.

Of course, any of the gaggle of presidential hopefuls for 2016 would probably say that managing astronomic popularity is a headache he or she would love to have. Moreover, the genius of Francis is that one element of his appeal is a reputation for humility, so it’s tough to accuse him of gloating.
Still, the mere fact that Francis has to think about a down side to winning hearts and minds clearly illustrates one point: Being pope isn’t anybody’s idea of a walk in the park.

Skirmishing over the Synod of Bishops

This week nearly 500 Catholic priests in England and Wales signed a public letter asking the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the family in October to reject calls to allow Catholics who divorce and remarry outside the Church to receive Communion, urging the synod to issue a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage.

The letter was published in the Catholic Herald, with 461 priests affixing their names, including some of the country’s highest-profile clerics. It reflects the fact that debate over the divorced and remarried was a flashpoint at the last synod, driven by a proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to relax the traditional ban.

The priests’ initiative brought an indirect rebuke from Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who’s generally seen as favorable to a more permissive line. In an interview last October, Nichols faulted the concluding document from the first summit on the family for not going far enough towards “respect”, “welcome” and “value” for gays and lesbians.

“The pastoral experience and concern of all priests in these matters are of great importance and are welcomed by the bishops,” Nichols said in response to the open letter. “It is my understanding that this has been taken up in every diocese, and that channels of communication have been established.”
In effect, Nichols then asked his priests to keep their thoughts out of the newspapers.

“This dialogue, between priests and their bishop, is not best conducted through the press,” his statement said.

That exchange builds on recent swipes from fellow German cardinals directed at Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, president of the German bishops’ conference, who recently hinted that Germany may forge ahead on welcoming the divorced and remarried back to Communion regardless of what the Synod of Bishops decides.

“Each conference of bishops is responsible for pastoral care in its cultural context, and must preach the Gospel in its own original way,” Marx said in February/ He was among the champions of the progressive line on divorce and remarriage last October.

“We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here,” said Marx, who will be one of Germany’s three representatives at the looming synod.

In an interview this week with a French publication, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican’s doctrinal czar, fired back.

“The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to this title,” he said.

The claim that a bishops’ conference could make its own decisions on matters concerning the family and marriage, Müller said, is “an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the Catholicity of the Church.”

In a similar vein, retired German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, a former high-ranking Vatican official close to the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, said in an open letter said that Marx’s comments were more suited “to the counter of a bar” than serious theological conversation.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, another champion of traditional Catholic doctrine, gave an interview in late January that appeared this week in LifeSite News, a go-to source for the most ardent defenders of traditional Catholic positions in the wars of culture, warning that “confusion is spreading in an alarming way” about where the Church stands.

In a recent analysis, Italian Vatican writer Sandro Magister noted that Pope Francis has introduced some fresh blood into the synod process this time around, including the vice president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, a body known for an articulate and forceful defense of traditional positions.

Yet for every seeming “no” vote on Communion for the divorced and remarried, there’s also someone out there leaning “yes.”

In mid-March, Cardinal Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle of the Philippines was in the United Kingdom to speak at a Catholic gathering, and he publicly rejected a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Every situation for those who are divorced and remarried is quite unique,” Tagle said. “My position at the moment is to ask, ‘Can we take every case seriously and are there, in the tradition of the Church, paths towards addressing each case individually?’ This is one issue that I hope people will appreciate is not easy to say ‘no’ or to say ‘yes’ to. We cannot give one formula for all.”

Tagle, it should be noted, isn’t just any prelate. He’s the Catholic rock star of Asia, and his stock is even higher today after having organized a wildly successful papal outing to his country in January.

It remains unclear what all this bodes in terms of how Pope Francis will eventually resolve the debate over Communion for the divorced and remarried. Logically speaking, he would seem to have three options:
• Say “yes”
• Say “no”
• Call for more study

Facing a divided Church, conventional wisdom would tag option three as the smart bet. Given Francis’ penchant for surprise, however, any prediction seems premature.

One thing that does seem certain is that the year-long interval between the last Synod of Bishops and Round Two has not yet served to produce consensus. If anything it’s given partisans time to organize, suggesting that the clashes that erupted last time may have been just an appetizer for the main course this October.


My comment first: Just a liturgical side note, but why is it that no other blogs or any liturgists ever comment on the fact that at these outdoor Masses at St. Peters with both Pope Benedict and Francis (I attended three of them while on sabbatical and a couple of blockbusters at that) there is the use of two ambos for the proclamation of the Scriptures. The ambo on the Epistle side of the square is for the First two readings and responsorial psalm and on the Gospel side for the Gospel. Isn't that a reform of the reform too?

The other thing I notice this morning is that the priests who assist with the distribution of Holy Communion to the far flung areas of the square come out during the time the pope receives the offerings. They are in cassock and surplice and are holding ciborium with hosts to be consecrated by the pope. When I did this at the Mass where Pope Francis consecrated the world to Mary, at the presentation of the gifts, we entered the basilica and were given ciborium of already consecrated Hosts. We stood in two lines in the basilica facing the entrance door which was closed while the Holy Father prayed the Eucharistic Prayer. We could barely hear what was happening and saw nothing.

Then at the Pater Noster, we exited the Basilica and went to the far flung areas of the square to distribute our pre-consecrated Hosts.

It appears  that at this Mass pre-consecrated Hosts are not used but everyone is receiving Holy Communion from Hosts consecrated at this Mass and by the Pope. 

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday - Palm Sunday - the beginning of Holy Week, 2015. Please find, below, the official English translation of the Holy Father's prepared remarks.
At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the “rock” among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God.

This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.

Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the “form of a slave” (cf. Phil 2:7). In the end, humility means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, “emptying oneself”, as Scripture says (v. 7). This is the greatest humiliation of all.

There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, we too can overcome this temptation, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.

In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person…

We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. We can speak of a “cloud of witnesses” (cf. Heb 12:1). 

Let us set about with determination along this same path, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26). Amen.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


 The way the liberal media, i.e. New York Times which owned the Boston Globe went after the Catholic Church and reported on the crimes of priests and bishops would make one think that sex abuse is something isolated to the Catholic Church and only the Catholic Church was the one hiding it.

While I do not disagree with reporting this huge story in the Catholic Church, I think it is safe to assume that much of the reporting was done in order to undermine the Church because of the hot button issues that liberals fear the Church has too much influence, namely on artificial contraception and abortion, same sex marriage and sexual ethics in general, euthanasia and other issues concerning the manipulation of life. But make no mistake, the Church's stance on birth control and same sex marriage is something that liberal progressives want to change or snuff out.

Thus the liberal press gives a pass to the sex abuse scandals in Hollywood. Note how they treated Michael Jackson and other celebrities accused of such crimes. Note how there is no investigative reporting of other churches, synagogues, temples, places of religion and the biggest news story in this ugly chapter on public schools, their administrators and teachers.

Thus with this in mind, here is a very good article from that exposes the truth!

 Catholic Sex Scandals: Media Double Standards vs. Statistics

By Dave Armstrong

Friday, March 27, 2015


In the heady days of the so-called post-Vatican II renewal, especially that of religious life, most religious orders actually thought that what they were doing would secure their survival and that they were actually renewing themselves as Vatican II wanted. It was done in good faith.

Much of it was also done in bad faith and a reverse misogyny, women religious who hate men who are in authority.  This was the greatest error of the renewal, allowing men-haters in religious life to rise to power and cut themselves off from the Magisterium.

The clericalism of these progressive sisters is found in their touting of their academic credentials and how much smarter they are than anyone else especially the bad old men in Rome. 

But even in the late 1960's and early 70's there were those who had serious misgivings. We can't undo history, but we can learn from it especially with 20/20 hindsight!

Today, though, there is hope. These come from congregations of religious women who want to turn the tide. The ones that don't want to turn the tide are dying out. It is only a matter of time when religious life will return to what it once once and what Rome desires as well as the people of God!


Is there such a thing as an immortal human soul, immortal independent of God?

In a supposed interview, Pope Francis has supposedly said the following concerning hell:

Scalfari: What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And how? 

The response of Francis is distinct and clear (netta e chiara): there is no punishment, but the destruction/annihilation of that soul. [The Italian word is annullamento, literally, "turned into nothing", meaning here the same as the more usual Italian word for annihilation, annientamento]

 All the others will participate in the beatitude of living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are destroyed/annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is finished. And this is the motivation of the Church’s missionary activity: to save the lost. And it is also the reason why Francis is a Jesuit to the end.”

Is what Pope Francis supposedly said heretical or not? Keep in mind that an interview with an atheist who then reports the interview from his memory is not a magisterial teaching. It is an opinion of  Jorge Bergoglio as Jorge Bergoglio. Keep in mind that when Pope Benedict wrote his trilogy on Jesus he stated that theologians were free to critique and disagree with some aspects of his writings, but of course in an academic way. So popes can have opinions to which we may agree or disagree but we should be able to back up our negative critique with academic prudence.

I was taught, maybe heretically, I am not sure, that if God ceased even to think about us we would cease to exist. It is only through the power of God that we are. This seems to imply to me that we can be annihilated in body and soul!

But I was also taught that we are created with an immortal soul. Is that true? Or can God annihilate the immortal soul of a mortal being? Certainly this is true if God is all powerful, which of course He is!

Thus what wiggle room does Pope Francis and any Catholic have in describing what hell actually is? It seems to me that there are no dogmatic descriptions of hell that are considered infallibly defined. Correct me if I am wrong.

For example, I believe that the Church teaches about the existence of hell, but the Church has never taught infallibly that any human soul actually exists there, although this is true in the realm of the theoretical. The Church does teach that Satan and the other fallen angels dwell in hell. But they are angels not humans.

A Catholic certainly can embrace the theological construct that an immortal soul condemned by God to hell suffers punishment and it is tortuous and could involve flames. But a Catholic could also believe in the torture and flames in figurative way that the immortal soul in hell experiences an absence of God by choice just as the soul did in life. The torture and flames symbolize the eternal knowledge that one has freely chosen to cut oneself off from God and reaps the fruit of their misdeeds and mortal sins. The immortal soul actually exists in hell and has knowledge.

But if what Pope Francis believes as is reported by an atheist, that the immortal soul isn't immortal after all that God can annihilate the immortal soul and cause it to cease to exist, wouldn't this be hell too? The hell is that one is gone, completely, body and soul and has absolutely no existence of immortality even in hell, now for the soul and at the Final Judgement in the here after with their body raised from the clay of the earth.

Is it heretical to believe the soul can be annihilated by God and thus in the Final Judgement and the resurrection of the dead, only the dead bodies that have souls in heaven will be raised from the clay of the earth and fashioned after the Glorified Body of our Savior and joined to their immortal soul in heaven?


Recently a commentary in the Macon Telegraph questioned priests/ministers who preach hell and and scare small children to death. Its premise is that there really isn't any hell. I suspect the person who wrote the commentary is a practicing agnostic. He is an ex-priest and non-practicing Catholic but loves pontificating on all things Catholic about that which he likes (from the 1960's) or dislikes from almost every other period including our own time. But that is besides the point. His commentary provoked this letter to the editor:

[A] recent column entitled “The little ledge in hell” in which he chastised ministers who preach eternal fire and brimstone for nonbelievers. I well remember as a young boy many long-winded sermons in the Baptist Church, especially during revival when each message got hotter and hotter as the week progressed. By closing night the church pews were sizzling like a hot cooking stove for those “lost in sin,” and many waded into the baptismal pool to escape the heat of a misguided Elmer Gantry.

Indeed such preaching scars young children and that should be grounds for child abuse charges. Anyone subscribing to the belief that our God of the universe is so narcissistic he would condemn one of his own to an eternal pit of fire for any reason whatsoever should use his tithing dollars to buy psychiatric help.

Is there a hell? The upper-middle class person who wrote the letter to the editor doesn't seem to think so. It is said too, that Pope Francis told an atheist that hell is annihilation, the complete death of the soul. In my way of thinking this thought is nicer than burning in hell for eternity, knowing what you are missing because of your full consent of the will choices throughout life to live as though God does not exist or it doesn't matter how one lives one's life because nothing matters after death.There is either nothingness or bliss.  Some see Pope Francis' point of view, if it is what he actually said to the atheist, as heretical. I see it as merciful but maybe not the full truth. 

But let's talk about the hell of this life. God doesn't prevent it either. Think of the 150 souls on the passenger jet from Germany who were murdered by their co-pilot and the horror they knew for a couple of minutes as the jet inched toward the alps in plain view!

Think about the hell of drug addicts and others doomed to a life on the streets.

Think about those who are murdered in the most heinous ways.

Think about the life long sufferings of people with chronic diseases and poverty.

Think about those sentenced to life in prison or living on death row.

God doesn't prevent any of these types of earthly hells.

We have three options. Atheism in the face of suffering and hell on earth that is completely hopeless about this life and the next.

Agnosticism that admits one really doesn't know and doesn't have any answers nor any hope either especially about the afterlife.

Or the Christian who hopes for a better world through God's grace and believes that the God created us with free will and the grace to choose God over Satan, to chose life over death and to find hope and meaning through suffering and death.

God  allows us the choice but assures us the grace to go the heaven if only we receive and use His gifts of faith, hope and love!  I prefer the Christian way of life and belief over the cynical agnostics' or atheists' way of life and belief! Give me Jesus!

Read more here:

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Cardinal Muller tells it like it is and with such clarity. There is no ambiguity that leads to being disoriented, bewildered, perplexed unclear, confused, unsure or lost! Oh, that this would be the case once again in the Church from the top down.  I copy the following from Rorate Caeli:

On Marriage and Bishops' Conferences, Cardinal Müller teaches Cardinal Marx the true Catholic lesson

Excerpt of interview granted by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, to French weekly Famille Chrétienne.

[FC:] In a book of conversations on the family [The Hope of the Family, Ignatius Press; La speranza della famiglia, Edizioni Ares], recently published in Italy and in the United States, you encourage Christians to, "choose the prophetic boldness of martyrdom." Why?

[Müller:] The Church is not a philanthopic organization. To say that we respect the opinions of all, that we wish for the good of all, is not enough. To present the Gospel as a simple therapeutic message is not very hard, but it does not respond to the demands of Jesus. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me," Jesus says. The first aposltes, the Fathers of the Church, the great bishops in the History of the Church very often sailed against opposing winds. How could it be any different for us?

[FC:] Could certain doctrinal or disciplinary decisions on marriage and family be delegated to the episcopal conferences?

[Müller]It is an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the Catholicity of the Church. Episcopal conferences have authority on certain matters, but they are not a magisterium beside the Magisterium, without the Pope and without communion with all bishops.
[FC:] Recently, a German bishop [Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Chairman of the German Bishops' Conference] said that the episcopal conference that he chairs is not a "branch of Rome." What do you think of this?

[Müller:] An episcopal conference is not a particular council, even less so an ecumenical council. The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to this title. Hearing that an episcopal conference is not a "branch of Rome" gives me the occasion to recall that dioceses are not the branches of the secretariat of a bishops' conference either, nor of the diocese whose bishop presides over the episcopal conference. This kind of attitude risks in fact the reawakening of a certain polarization between the local Churches and the Church universal, out of date since the Vatican I and Vatican II councils. The Church is not a sum of national churches, whose presidents would vote to elect their chief on the universal level.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THE NUNS' STORY, 1962 AND 2015

This is a nice piece from 1962 and one for the archives!

 And then we have this in 1965! UGH!

And this was this past Saturday, 2015!


Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine. I don't like the different standards for kneeling, standing and sitting for the EF Mass, with the Low Mass having one set of standards and the High Mass another. I think this is an American invention as we like to tell the laity what to do in the pews.

Also, I think there is entirely too much kneeling for the EF Low Mass. You even kneel for the readings! I remember this as a child and not fondly. I remember how tired people got and how they did a butt-kneel. Has anyone seen this today in an EF Mass, a butt-kneel? It was very, very common in the bad old days prior to Vatican II. I did too, you just leaned back and you were kneeling an let your butt rest on the edge of pew. Nice no? NOT!

Because the EF Mass is the red-headed step daughter of the Church, most bishops' conferences don't pay any attention to it. Maybe this is good. I don't think so. Why can't they decree that the standing, sitting and kneeling of the EF Mass be more like that which is a part of the OF Mass. Just wondering.

Here are my suggestions for the EF Mass no matter if high, low or anywhere in between:

Stand for the entrance.

Kneel for the PATFOTHA

Stand for the Kyrie, Gloria, Collect

Sit for the First reading and Gradual/tract

Stand for the Gospel

Sit for the homily

Stand for the Credo

Sit for the Offertory Antiphon and Offertory

Stand for the Orate Fratres

Stand for the Secret, Preface

Kneel for the Sanctus and Canon

Stand for the Pater Noster

Remain standing through the Agnus Dei

Kneel after the Agnus Dei

Sit during the abultions and Communion antiphon

Stand for the Prayer after Communion

Stand for the Ite Missa Est

Kneel for the Placeat and Blessing

Stand for the Last Gospel


More bishops and priests need to emphasize these universal norms concerning Holy Communion. Thanks to the southern priest in Alabama who placed this on his blog,
  • Father B. Jerabek, J.C.L.

    Birmingham, Alabama — formerly Rome, Italy

Inspiring Episcopal Leadership on the Eucharist

I was recently pleased to come across a decree issued by the Archbishop of Ferrara, Italy, Most Rev. Luigi Negri, who is an impressive leader in the Italian church. This bishop takes seriously his duty to safeguard the Holy Eucharist in his local church, and so, in this decree, summarizes the relevant norms from the various sources of Church law and also issues some norms of his own. This document impressed me so much that I translated the entire thing and share it with you here. (My source for the original Italian doc.)
Archbishop Luigi Negri
Archbishop Luigi Negri
Just take a look at this. The archbishop directs that in all the churches of his archdiocese, the following statement should be read before the distribution of Holy Communion:
The decree also covers things like the use of the communion plate (paten) and altar bells – and more. There’s at least one thing that might not make sense to American readers (the thing about additional tables for First Communion – this may be more of an “Italian problem”), but overall I think that much of this decree will be inspiring and edifying. Click the following icon to download it:
Click icon to download.
Click icon to download.

While it has no binding force outside the Archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio, in any case it may instruct some, edify others, and perhaps even inspire some priests and/or bishops to exercise similar leadership on a parish or diocesan level.

The Most Holy Eucharist is the Church’s greatest treasure, and in times like these when belief in the Real Presence seems to be quite weak in some areas, and where shocking abuses of the Blessed Sacrament seem to be occurring with a startling regularity, such episcopal leadership is most opportune and, indeed, very inspiring.

Thank you, Archbishop Negri!
English translation of the decree by Rev. Bryan W. Jerabek, J.C.L.


Don't forget to genuflect (not a bow) at today's Mass during the Credo and "the Word became Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary...and also during the recitation of the Angelus!

I have never figured out why the Solemnity of the Annunciation isn't a Holy Day of Obligation throughout the world and without exception. Without our Blessed Mother's "fiat" to conceive in her sacred womb the Savior of the World, The Word Made Flesh, there would be no Christmas, no Easter and no eternal life in heaven.

Why oh why is this feast so obscure in the Church and world? Really, I want to know!

Did you receive your Hallmark Annunciation Greeting card from family and friends yet? Here are a few of my favorite which I think capture the attitude of our Blessed Mother upon the angel's arrival and his peculiar proclamation to which she gives her fiat!

A Blessed Annunciation to all and to all a good night!  Goodnight! that this feast isn't better known and celebrated!


It does not take a clairvoyant like myself to predict that the upcoming synod on the family will be a day for the vultures in the liberal press, be it Catholic or secular, to promote division and discord in the Church. It happened with the synod process last year and it is accelerating this year.

I think Pope Francis may be quite aware of the polarization occurring in the Church under his watch. We know that Pope Francis has a disdain for Cardinal Burke having demoted him. Could Pope Francis be referring to yet another interview Cardinal Burke has given (both His Holiness and His Eminence are tied with the number of interviews they give)?

LifeSiteNews: Since the extraordinary synod on the family, we have entered a period of uncertainty and confusion over several “hot-button” issues: communion for divorced and “remarried” couples, a change of attitude towards homosexual unions and an apparent relaxing of attitudes towards non-married couples. Does your Eminence think that this confusion is already producing adverse effects among Catholics?

Cardinal Burke: Most certainly, it is. I hear it myself: I hear it from Catholics, I hear it from bishops. People are claiming now, for instance, that the Church has changed her teaching with regard to sexual relations outside of marriage, with regard to the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts. Or people who are within irregular matrimonial unions are demanding to receive Holy Communion, claiming that this is the will of the Holy Father. And we have astounding situations, like the declarations of the bishop of Antwerp with regard to homosexual acts, which go undisciplined, and so we can see that this confusion is spreading, really, in an alarming way.

Thus at this morning's General Audience in a rain soaked Saint Peter's Square, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, asked for prayers for the upcoming synod on the family in October. He is asking popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, relgious and lay faithful to pray and His Holiness has a written prayer for us to recite.

But this is what the Holy Father said this morning:

  I would like for this prayer, and the whole Synod journey, to be animated by the compassion of the Good Shepherd for His flock, especially for persons and families that, for different reasons, are “troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36). So, sustained and animated by the grace of God, the Church can be ever more committed, and ever more united, in the witness of the truth of the love of God and of His mercy for the families of the world, excluding none, whether within or outside the flock. 

I ask you, please, to not neglect your prayer. All of us – the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, priests, religious, lay faithful – we are all called to pray for the Synod. There is need of this, not of chatter! (chiacchierare) I also invite those who feel far away, or who are not accustomed to do so, to pray. This prayer for the Synod on the Family is for the good of everyone.

Here is the prayer:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
In you we contemplate
The splendour of true love,
We turn to you with confidence.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
Make our families, also,
Places of communion and cenacles of prayer,
Authentic schools of the Gospel,
And little domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth
May our families never more experience
Violence, isolation, and division:
May anyone who was wounded or scandalized
Rapidly experience consolation and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
May the upcoming Synod of Bishops
Re-awaken in all an awareness
Of the sacred character and inviolability of the family,
Its beauty in the project of God.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Hear and answer our prayer. Amen.

(Unofficial translation)