Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Pope Francis is of course an enigma, perplexing the polarized members of the Church on the left and right.

Pope Francis' Angelus on Sunday is an Angelus Pope Pius XII could have given in the 1950's:

Angelus: The Kingdom of heaven is the love and humility of God

Pope Francis during the Sunday Angelus - ANSA
Pope Francis during the Sunday Angelus - ANSA
04/12/2016 12:43
(Vatican Radio) “The Kingdom of God is at hand and is indeed in the middle of us, this is the central message of all Christian mission.” Those were the words of Pope Francis during his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on the Second Sunday of Advent.
Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report
He was referring to the Gospel reading of the day in which John the Baptist issues the invitation to "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand".
The Holy Father explained that with these same words Jesus will start his mission in Galilee and it is an announcement that will “bring the disciples on their first missionary experience.”
The kingdom of heaven, said the Pope, is not just a place in the afterlife, but it is the good news that Jesus brings us.
God, Pope Francis continued, “comes to establish his dominion in our history, in our everyday life;” and where it is accepted with faith and humility and love.
But the “condition to become part of this kingdom”, the Holy Father stressed, “ is to make a change in our life, that is to repent.”
The Pope said, “it is to leave the streets, convenient but misleading, the idols of this world: the success at all costs, the power at the expense of the weak, the thirst for wealth, pleasure at any price and instead to open the way for the Lord who comes”.
He does not take away our freedom, Pope Francis underlined, “but gives us true happiness. With the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, it is God himself who has come to dwell among us, to free us from selfishness, from sin and corruption.”
During his address the Holy Father invited the faithful to prepare spiritually for Christmas by examining their consciences and confessing their sins in the sacrament of Penance.
Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis said, “see you Thursday for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. We pray together, asking her maternal intercession for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace."

Monday, December 5, 2016


MY COMMENTS FIRST:  The good bishop is conflicted when it comes to "ad orientem" for the Ordinary Form of the Mass. But as primary liturgist for his diocese he rightfully requests that a priest who wishes to celebrate the OF Mass ad orientem have a discussion with him prior to implementing it and to make sure the parish is properly catechized prior to implementing it. This makes sense to me as I properly catechized my former parish on ad orientem years before I implemented it at one of our 5 Sunday Masses, our 12:10 PM Mass. But prior to that many in the parish had already experienced for years the EF Mass which is ad orientem of course.

I applaud the bishop on his comments on the common chalice and eliminating it during the flu season in his entire diocese. He acknowledges, as I have sounded the alarm for years and years, that there is a very real possibility of contracting a disease from the common chalice and that if we as a Church were under the health department, we would be shut down for this unsanitary procedure which liturgy ideologues continue to promote and in the most fundamentalist and Protestant way as it concerns the laity have a right to the chalice. 

I now know of two people with compromised immune issues who believe and for good reason, that they contracted a serious intestinal bacterial infection from the common chalice. One is a GI doctor who almost died from it and the other is a priest who became seriously ill with a bacterial intestinal infection while on a continuing education pilgrimage to Italy and the Holy Land. That priest is me!

At St. Joseph Church I seldom purified the common chalices as these were cleansed after Mass in the sacristy. At daily Mass I would do the first cleansing by diluting any remnant of the Precious Blood with water so that the Precious Blood was no longer present as the wine was no longer, just water. This was then poured into the sacraium which drains to a secure ground area.

Since arriving at St. Anne, at daily Mass I cleanse my chalice and the two common chalices at Mass after Holy Communion at the traditional time. I do so by pouring almost a chalice full of water in one of the common chalice and then pouring that into the other common chalice and that into my chalice which I then consume.

BINGO! My already compromised immune deficiency disorder which manifests itself in ulcerative colitus which I have been diagnosed for the past 20 years (and for the past four years in almost total remission with medication) came out of remission over night with a "stomach or indigestion issue" I had the Friday before I departed for Rome on the next Monday which caused my ulcerative colitus to come out of hibernation.  At first is was mild by difficult for me on the flight over but gradually beamed unmanageable by the last week of the program. 

In addition, I had fever with it (which I have never had with my disease) and I felt like a Mack Truck had run over me. I had severe pains in the my stomach. The day before our departure for home, I felt that I might not be able to go because the issues surrounding my disease were so severe that I needed to stay close to a restroom. But with the help of God and shear determination, I got back to Richmond Hill with my motto, "Come Hell or High Water!"

The next morning I was in a panic because my symptoms had increased! I called by GI doctor who sent me to a "immediate care" clinic and was told what antibiotic to get along with a strong steroid. He said my symptoms pointed to a serious bacterial infection that could lead to C-diff!

While there were signs of C-diff from some of the lab tests, it turned out that it wasn't and thanks be to God. I am on new medication for my ulcerative colitus which the intestainl infection reopened and on a month long steroid which usually treats only the colon.

I blame the manner in which I have to consume contaminated ablutions at our daily Mass for this infection that could have changed my life forever if it had led to C-diff!


The Ordinary Form of the Mass Celebrated “ad orientem

On July 5, 2016 Cardinal Robert Sarah, in speaking with priests during a retreat conference,
spoke of the Holy Season of Advent being an opportune time for those priests in attendance to begin celebrating Mass “ad orientem”. On July 11, 2016 the Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi, S.J. issued a statement declaring that there were no new liturgical directives being issued from the Vatican in this regard.

As some of you know, I have on a few occasions publically celebrated the Ordinary Form of the Mass “ad orientem”. Celebrating Mass “ad orientem” in the Ordinary Form means that the priest stands at the altar facing the same direction together with the people from the Preparation of the Gifts until the Communion Rite turning to the people when indicated by the rubrics. 

After some discussion I did support the proposal of one priest to celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass “ad orientem” in one of our local churches with the understanding that it would be done with proper catechesis. Even though the Ordinary Form of the Mass may be celebrated “ad orientem” the norm since the Second Vatican Council has been to celebrate this form of the Mass “versus populum” (facing the people).

My expectation is that our priests will continue to celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass “versus populum”. I would not expect or encourage a priest in our Diocese to begin celebrating Mass “ad orientem” at parish Masses without having a personal, in-depth conversation with me.

Even though there are many options in the Roman Missal some options do need and continue to be properly explained and implemented in order for the faithful to enter more deeply and participate more fully in the Church’s Liturgy. Which leads me to another option which is Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds.

Holy Communion Under Both Kinds

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states with regards to “Holy Communion under Both Kinds”, that “whenever the opportunity for instruction is present, the faithful should be properly catechized...”(25). We all know that the flu and cold season raises all sorts of questions with regards to the transmission of germs when the faithful receive the Precious Blood from a chalice. I feel that it is most timely to address these concerns now.

There are two issues, as I approach this:
  1. Health (the possible spread of contagion vis-à-vis the approach to the Sacred with an
    attitude of heroic faith. “Because it is Precious Blood, in Faith, I won’t get sick or
    transmit sickness to another.”)
  2. The doctrine of concomitance (one never is denied reception of the Precious Blood when
    one receives Holy Communion under the appearance of Bread since the Body and Blood of Christ are both fully present as one under either Form) vis-à-vis the admonition that receiving Holy Communion under BOTH forms is a “fuller sign”.
These two discussions rest on both Faith and Reason and, as in most theological discussions, opinions can be strongly held on several levels.

It is my contention that our belief in the concomitant Presence of Body and Blood must be reiterated in these days. Our people need to know what we believe and hold as truth and, in this matter, the truth is greater than the “fuller sign”. Therefore to receive under ONE Form is a true reflection of our true doctrine. 

Traditionally the one form to be received is the form of Consecrated Bread, not the Precious Blood under the appearance of wine, though for one whose manner of obtaining nutrition is by liquid administered through a feeding tube, this stands to perfect reason and is acceptable.

For the seasons beginning with the First Sunday of Advent and, in fact, until Holy Thursday, Holy Communion is to be distributed only under the form of the Consecrated Host (except as noted for the special feeding need).

Prior to Holy Thursday a renewed catechesis on the practice of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds will be made available under my direction from the Office for Worship.

Liturgical Music and Environment

Music Directors, Musicians and Liturgical Art and Environment individuals and committees really need to work, as always, with their pastor’s input and pastors ought to be attentive to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and diocesan guidelines. Particularly when decorating the church, please take special note of the altar itself, the free standing altar is freestanding so that the priest can walk around it. Displays of flowers or the Nativity or other decorations are not in keeping with the directive of the Second Vatican Council which intended the altar to be beautifully decorated but not obscured.

With regards to music, again, I leave it to the pastors to work with your liturgical music ministry to plan according to the Liturgical Seasons.

In the end we believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is of the utmost importance for us as Catholics. And so, we should be vigilant in ensuring that the dignity of our celebrations be enhanced. In promoting such dignity, the beauty of the sacred place, of the music, and of art should contribute as greatly as possible. 


i think this interview shows angst in high places, all self-inflicted.

From Crux:

Jesuit close to pope says attacks on ‘Amoris’ are ‘part of the process’

  • December 4, 2016
Jesuit close to pope says attacks on ‘Amoris’ are ‘part of the process’
Father Antonio Spadaro with Pope Francis (photo: Osservatore Romano)
In an exclusive interview with Crux, Jesuit papal confidant and director of the journal La Civiltà Cattolica, Father Antonio Spadaro SJ, takes issue with the tone and tactics of social media critiques of the pope and directly responds to the four cardinals who have publicly criticized Amoris Laetitia. 
[Note by Austen Ivereigh: Father Antonio Spadaro SJ, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica and one of the Jesuits closest to Pope Francis, recently got in touch with me to ask if he could clear up misunderstandings over a tweet of his which had caused offense in some quarters. The tweet was in response to a barrage of ill-tempered criticism he had received for defending Pope Francis’s exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia
I suggested that, as well as clarifying the tweet, he could use the opportunity to respond more fully to the so-called ‘dubia’ letter recently made public by four cardinals who wrote it. He kindly agreed, on the understanding that we make clear that he was not responding on behalf of anybody but himself. The interview was conducted by email.]
You recently asked for, and got, an apology and correction from a newspaper columnist after he claimed you had insulted the four cardinals who wrote to the pope asking for clarification of Amoris Laetitia. Others have repeated the allegation, which has taken wing on social media. Do you want to first of all clear this up?
The whole thing is ridiculous. And deeply offensive, that anyone should believe that I could ever refer to a cardinal as a ‘worm’. I might not agree, or make a light-hearted joke, but offense is something else together.
Father Spadaro's ironic tweet
What happened was the exact opposite of what is claimed. I tweeted that Amoris Laetitia was an act of the magisterium. Someone quoted my tweet and compared both Pope Francis and myself to Tolkein’s characters Grima the Wormtongue and Saruman. In a light-hearted, ironic riposte, I simply posted a screenshot from the Lord of the Rings movie without any comment, in which Saruman says, ‘to bandy crooked words with a witless worm’. The reference was to myself, not to anyone else.
So what was the source of the misunderstanding?
I have no idea. Someone decided I was insulting the four cardinals who wrote the ‘dubia’ letter, and this idea took off and went viral. How anyone decided I was referring to the cardinals is a mystery - ask those who tweeted it!
When I realized what was happening I deleted the tweet, which was being used in ways that were unseemly by people who present themselves as defenders of Catholic orthodoxy. Then the fact that I deleted it was used as proof that I now regretted insulting the cardinals. Sadly, the manipulation continues.
How does that make you feel?
Douthat apology to SpadaroI dislike the fact that some groups resort to such tactics simply in order to be heard. Ross Douthat, the New York Times columnistrepeated the claim but when I pointed out the mistake he apologized and corrected his article, which was very honest of him. Sadly, that’s not true of First Things, which doesn’t come out of this looking so good. Every newspaper or magazine is responsible for its own quality standards.  
There’s also the issue of a Twitter account which some of your critics claim you are ‘hiding’ behind. 
What do they mean, “hide”?! The account was simply an under-used one of three or four I operate, including that of the journal. I often re-tweet from one to the other.
If I had really wanted to throw stones from an anonymous account I would never, obviously, have re-tweeted it. And why should I feel any need to hide? I was merely quoting the view of an American friend who was commenting not on the behavior of the cardinals but the way the expression “the four cardinals” was being used on so many blogs in ways that reminded her of 196os rock bands.
The funny thing was that when I sent that tweet, Raymond Arroyo of EWTN tweeted the photo of a cardinal [Timothy Dolan of New York] dancing the can-can with his legs in the air along with the Rockettes. His tweet was cheered by my detractors, from which I deduce that this attack on me is organized and deliberate.
What’s behind it, do you think?
I think that some people are exploiting the cardinals’ letter in order to ramp up the tension and create division within the Church. These groups feel sidelined, so they’re yelling, and attacking anyone perceived as being close to the pope. I’m not here referring to the case of the tweet, but more generally.
It’s painful that this is taking place within the Church, among Catholics. In some cases it’s enough to be positive about the Petrine magisterium to be attacked. It’s a deeply unpleasant opposition, incapable of articulating a thought without at the same time turning it into an attack.
But why are the attacks so unpleasant - what’s going on?
I think there are three things happening here. The first is that Francis’s actions have been highly effective; they’ve hit the nail on the head.
And that means, secondly, that, “the spirits are expressing themselves,” as Bergoglio would say. The hatred and viciousness directed against him are always signs of the bad spirit which has nothing to do with the Gospel.
That’s easy to discern. And by the way, that disturbance of spirits is a reaction to the good spirit: if there were no reaction, it would be worse.
The third point is that those who are hostile to Francis are in the main self-enclosed groups who cannot handle an open, serene debate, and who simply repeat each other, like in an echo chamber. Some of those sites, and Twitter accounts, are simply copies of others.
What is the proper response?
Patience. We need patiently to bear the insults and attacks, and just trust in the process that’s underway. The attacks are an inescapable part of the process.
Some might hear you as saying that all criticisms of Francis are motivated by the bad spirit. 
St. John Paul II often endured vicious attacks from those who accused him of a heretical openness. I’ve seen one site which claims he said 100 heretical things. So there’s nothing new under the sun.
But no, of course, not all criticisms of Francis are like that. Some are criticisms which he is the first to accept; in other cases they are criticisms intended not to provoke but to open a dialogue that is calm and authentic.
How does the pope himself react to the attacks? There have been reports that he’s enraged by the letter.
Oh please! Such comments make me laugh. To get Bergoglio angry it has to be something very different. His real concerns are pastoral. What disturbs him is poverty, injustice, the martyrdom of Christians, violence, and so on, not these kinds of criticisms.
I can assure you, because I have direct knowledge of this, that Francis simply doesn’t get annoyed about this kind of thing. I think he sees the anger in some quarters as evidence that some people feel challenged by the hermeneutic of mercy, by the Gospel sine glossa [‘unglossed’ - i.e. presented directly].
Cardinal George Pell recently said in London that the four cardinals’ letter was “significant.” Do you agree?
It depends what you mean by “significant.” Certainly it has given encouragement to certain environments where there is resistance to the teaching of Amoris Laetitia.
Why hasn’t the pope responded to the cardinals?
The pope doesn’t give binary answers to abstract questions. But that does’t mean he hasn’t responded. His response is to approve and to encourage positive pastoral practices. A clear and obvious example was his response to the Buenos Aires area bishops, when he encouraged them and confirmed that their reading of Amoris Laetitia was correct.
In other words, the pope responds by encouraging, and indeed loves to respond to the sincere questions put to him by pastors. The ones who really understand Catholic doctrine are the pastors, because doctrine does not exist for the purpose of debate but for the salus animarum [‘the health of souls’] - for salvation rather than intellectual discussion.
Certain Catholic newspapers and journals in the UK and the U.S. who support the cardinals’ dissenting letter claim that ‘AL’ is essentially “ambiguous” over the question of communion for the divorced and remarried, and that the pope has not settled these questions adequately.
Francis loves dialogue when it is in loyal and sincere and motivated by the good of the Church. The four cardinals’ questions had in truth already been posed during the Synod, where the dialogue was broad, deep and above all frank.
The approval of all the points in the synod final report by a qualified majority is testimony to the high degree of convergence that was achieved. Amoris Laetitia is the mature fruit of the synod.
And in the synod all the necessary responses were given, and more than once. Afterwards many other pastors, among whom were many bishops and cardinals, carried on and deepened the discussion. Amoris Laetitia is very clear.
I think a questioning conscience can easily find all the responses it is seeking, if it is seeking sincerely.
The four cardinals claim to be motivated by a pastoral concern for the good of souls, in order to resolve “doubts which are the cause of disorientation and confusion.” Do you agree? 
All the cardinals can ask the Holy Father whatever they want  and if they have doubts they can speak to him and open their hearts to him. A well-founded and discreet dialogue, without media exposure and without seeking to make waves, is always useful. Always.
It’s rather different when a dialogue is used in a calculated way, or when people pose questions in order to place another in difficulty, provoking divisions.
As in this case, however, anything which touches on people’s lives should not be resolved by hitting people over the head with abstractions, but should be dealt with - as the four cardinals have themselves stated - through “calm and respectful reflection and discussion.”
The cardinals want to know whether Amoris Laetitia ever makes possible absolution and Holy Communion for people who are still validly married but having sexual relations with another. They claim that hasn’t been made clear. 
I think that the answer to that has been given, and clearly. When the concrete circumstances of a divorced and remarried couple make feasible a pathway of faith, they can be asked to take on the challenge of living in continence. Amoris Laetitia does not ignore the difficulty of this option, and leaves open the possibility of admission to the Sacrament of Reconciliation when this option is lacking.
In other, more complex circumstances, and when it has not been possible to obtain a declaration of nullity, this option may not be practicable. But it still may be possible to undertake a path of discernment under the guidance of a pastor, which results in a recognition that, in a particular case, there are limitations which attenuate responsibility and guilt - particularly where a person believes they would fall into a worse error, and harm the children of the new union.
In such cases Amoris Laetitia opens the possibility of access to Reconciliation and to the Eucharist, which in turn dispose a person to continuing to mature and grow, fortified by grace.
Their other area of concern is the compatibility of AL with St. John Paul II’s teaching on objective truth and conscience in Veritatis Splendor. They want to know if after AL, church teaching continues to exclude “a creative interpretation of the role of conscience.” 
Amoris Laetitia is underpinned by a clear objectivity of the good and of truth. The proof of it is in the development of understanding and the commitment to carry out what is for the good of man in via [‘along the way’]. We find ourselves here at the very opposite pole from a situational morality in which the norm is perceived as somehow extrinsic to the act that is carried out.
In situational morality the subject is freed from the objective norm, which is conceived in an abstract fashion, in favor of a pragmatism linked to circumstances. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is right to say that “the truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the prudent judgment of conscience” (#1780).
The moral justice of a particular concrete act includes, inseparably, the search for the objective norm which I must apply to the complexity of my case, as well as the virtue of prudence, which disposes us to discern in every circumstance our true good.
It is in function of who I am and the context in which I find myself that prudential judgement seeks, judges, chooses that which seems just and right in a concrete case. “When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking,” as the Catechism (#1777) also says.
St. John Paul II already opened the door to an understanding of the position of the divorced and remarried through the discernment of the different situations which are not objectively identical, thanks to the internal forum.
Francis has taken an important step in obliging us to clarify what had remained implicit in Familiaris consortio, namely the link between an objective situation of sin and the life of grace faced with God and His Church and, as a logical consequence, of the concrete imputability of the sin.
As Cardinal Christoph Schönborn reminded us, Cardinal Ratzinger [the future Pope Benedict XVI] had already explained this in the 1990s: we can no longer automatically speak of a situation of mortal sin in the case of a new union. There cannot exist a general norm which is capable of covering all the particular cases. Just as the general norm remains clear, so it also remains clear that such a norm cannot cover all cases in an objective way.
Which means, I guess, that it’s possible to be objectively culpable without being so subjectively?
In certain cases, when we are in an objective situation of sin without being so subjectively, or at least only partly, it is possible to grow in the life of grace and charity, receiving for this purpose the help of the Church, through the sacraments,  including the Eucharist, which is “not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (Evangelii Gaudium, 47).
Moving from the general rule to individual cases cannot be made only through considerations of formal situations. It is therefore possible that, in certain cases, a person who is in an objective situation of sin can receive the help of the sacraments, yes.
When the pope speaks of “objectively sinful situations” he is not only referring to cases of different kinds as in Familiaris consortio #84, but in a broader way to include those “who do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage” and whose “individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis” (AL #303).
Francis notes at the start of AL (#3) that “each country or region…can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs.” But do you believe that this also allows for latitude in interpretation of AL? Is one bishop’s view of AL as good as another’s? 
No. One thing is to implement AL according to local circumstance, another thing to interpret it differently. Every bishop can find his own way of formulating his pastoral strategy for the family, and indeed, that of the divorced and remarried. The bishop is both doctor and judge and knows how to implement AL, giving concrete expression to the correct interpretation of it.
The pope’s letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires leaves no doubt both that bishops must implement AL according to local needs, and that AL must be correctly interpreted.
The cardinals behind the ‘dubia’ letter are all retired or, in Burke’s case, do not lead a diocese. It’s also striking how many of AL’s critics are lay intellectuals, rather than pastors. Do you sense there is a basic division in the reactions to AL between, as it were, the pastors and legalists?
The best reactions to AL have come from priests with long pastoral experience. They have immediately understood why AL speaks from experience rather than from abstract theory. AL speaks of a pastoral response that is attentive to concrete lives. And the Gospel always takes shape within a concrete life. So those who have been exposed to pastoral ministry get it straight away.
The pope leaves no room for doubt about the teaching of the Church, and in case there should be any, he says that “in no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur” (#307).
But earlier, using very strong language, he asserts that “it is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual’s actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being” (#304). We must not be reductive.
Pastoral ministry always demands the discernment of situations. The Church’s doctrine is that of the Good Shepherd. Pastoral ministry is not a second-rate, or even pragmatic, application of doctrine. Doctrine without the pastoral element is a ‘clashing cymbal’. We have to continually return to the kerygma, to that which is essential and which gives meaning to our whole body of doctrine, in particular to our moral teaching.
What is your sense, overall, of how AL is being accepted by bishops’ conferences across the world? Are most behind it, or must we wait and see?
It’s early days, and it’s difficult to generalize. But from what I see and sense around me, and from the number of invitations I get to present AL to dioceses - most of which sadly I can’t take up - I can say with total certainty there is a great commitment to following the Petrine ministry, to following Francis.
My sense is that the vast majority of the cardinals and bishops are with him, and very few are resisting Amoris Laetitia.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


This vocation recruitment film for the Paulist Fathers in California is very good. It shows how human a Paulist priest is but without betraying the majesty or dignity of his priesthood. It shows a priest who is connected with the people he serves yet celebrates the pre-Vatican II  Mass and gives Holy Communion to devout young Catholics who receive as every Catholic of this period did, with deep piety and reverence. They receive our Lord on the Tongue as they kneel and unrushed. They don't receive on the run!

This should put to bed the so-called rigidity of the Church prior to her loss of Catholic identity, priestly identity and religious (meaning nuns/sisters) identity to rest!

The second film is a group of 3rd Order Franciscan Nuns out of Pittsburgh. In complete habit, the film shows how engaged they are in their specific apostolates and engaged in the lives of those they serve. Yet there is a majesty and dignity to their way of live that attracts novices and vocations rather than repels as happens today with so many bachelor nuns or nuns who are invisible because they do not wear any kind of religious habit. I suspect in the late 70's this particular order abandoned all that made for their success and are on life support now with most of their amazing apostolates gone.

And this shows us precisely what Vatican II so-called "renewal" brought about. Yet the very religious who foisted this onto their orders continue to call it renewal. Vatican II had no such intention of remaking the priesthood or religious life into something that was the antithesis of what it had been but rather to make it more of what it was. This video captures what has happened and why so many long for the religious life as it was. This should not be an insult to religious but rather a wake-up call to how appreciated they were in the so-called "bad old outdated days."

Saturday, December 3, 2016


As everyone knows, I am somewhat eclectic when it comes to the Liturgy. All I ask is that there is reverence and all who have a part in the Mass, to include the faithful in the pews participate well and in a dignified manner. I take the role of the laity at Mass very seriously.

I am flexible when it comes to music that is actually filler. In my previous and new parish I ask(ed) that the propers be chanted even if there is an additional processional chant, offertory and communion songs.

The Official Propers are chanted in a traditional way but in English.

At St. Anne, my new parish, the music is a blend of traditional with some contemporary and by contemporary, stuff that I heard in the 1980's which is not bad theologically although I know the purists who read my blog will be aghast.

Twice a month we have a 5 PM Mass for our high school youth program, although many others attend. The music is what is called "Praise and Worship" but extremely well done and I listen closely to the lyrics and what is chosen is theologically/doctrinally sound. The music director at this Mass will implement the chanting of the propers too.

We have a very fine electronic organ and grand piano. While piano is not my preference for Mass, it is not obnoxious and our music director is quite accomplished.

The Mass itself is reverent and all carry out their function at Mass with dignity to include the lay faithful.

We are changing the KKK looking albs with hoods for servers to cassock and surplice. The boys will wear black cassock with square necked surplice and the girls will wear red cassocks with rounded surplices.

My new congregation is a younger congregation than my previous one with a large number of non southerners mostly connected with the army which makes the parish more transient. Being an army brat myself, I love being in a parish with so many military families.

It is a fun parish, less stressful than my previous one, in part due to the fact we have no school but a very good CCD program. Unlike Macon which is dwindling in size and lacking any growth or desire to promote outsiders coming in, Richmond Hill, while a bedroom community of Savannah, is growing and attracting all kinds of people. It is a wonderful up and coming town but still a bit like Mayberry.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Pope Francis said the following recently about those rigid kinds of people,which His Holiness would like to marginalize and send to the obscurity of the peripheries:

Before I comment on what the Holy Father said, let me make it abundantly clear that my sucess as a vocation director does not hinge on those I recruited or screened who eventually were ordained, but on those I kept out of our diocesan priesthood. In other words, it isn't who we got, but who we didn't get that I will take credit (and the Holy Spirit).

Let me also say that the liberal/progressiveness of the 1960's and 70's and still affecting some bishops and religious orders today is that they are willing to take men who are "broken" supposedly on the basis of the "wounded healer" mentality prominent in that period and the belief that the seminary is a therapeutic community to fix what is wrong with a person. We see the fatal logic of this in what bishops did to try to fix priests who abused teenage boys and the very minuscule number of priests who abused small children. The mentality was to fix them through therapy and get them back into ministry no matter how many times they became repeat offenders. In other words, these priests were like FORDS! FIX OR REPAIR DAILY. WHAT A DISASTER ALL OF THIS HAS BEEN FOR THE CHURCH AND BLAME THE PROGRESSIVES/LIBERALS FOR IT!

My seminary of the 1970's had major problems with many of the seminarians there. The problems were not rigidity but licentiousness, overly flexible with the moral law and especially enamored with the new morality that Pope Francis has recovered from this period and now promotes. It is a "new" morality that allows the person to decide from himself what is moral or not given their particular situation! What crap!

But here is what Pope Francis diagnoses as the main problem with rigid seminarians who become little monsters (my comments in red, texts copied from Praytell):

(His Holiness, Pope) Francis has said that the training of priests must be a
work of art, not a police action…We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps. (I agree, seminarians should be mature but they must receive their primary formation as humans in the home. The seminary can't do it! We have to really take a long hard look at the home, family formation!!!)
He told clergy that they must think twice when a young man
is too confident, rigid and fundamentalist. (I would say that these are masculine qualities, not feminine and that the Holy Father may be making gross generalization here. We want to form men in the seminary to be men not women! But with that said, I would be more concerned with protestant fundamentalism that is very "me oriented, such as the new morality Pope Francis' embraces, rather than a Catholic fundamentalism that follows the magisterium of the Church in an historic way. Confidence and commitment to belief, rather than the pejorative term rigid, are to be admired not denigrated!)
They should beware when admitting candidates to the seminary:
There are mentally ill boys who seek strong structures that can protect them,” (yes, there are individuals who have serious pathologies and mental illnesses and a good vocation director with the help of professionals, as well as the seminary, should be able to screen them out and not try to repair them and the liberals are wont to do!)
such as
the police, the army and the clergy. (This generalized comment is unbecoming a pope! Pope Francis constantly does this and in doing so insults so many people. I can write this as a half Italian born in Naples and thus inoculated from the accusation of being prejudiced against Italians or xenophobic: Pope Francis is what we more sophisticated Italians call a "vulgar Italian!" Vulgar Italians speak a certain way and often in a crude way and make these gross generalizations! Pope Francis should apologize to the fine men in  the seminary, the priesthood, the police and the army and not promote vulgar stereotypes. He's the pope for God's sake!)
At World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, speaking to Polish Jesuits, Francis complained,
Some priestly formation programs run the risk of educating in the light of overly clear and distinct ideas, and therefore to act within limits and criteria that are rigidly defined a priori, and that set aside concrete situations. (This is liberal/progressive new morality of the1960's which has been an absolute disaster for the Church! It is situation ethics and has no place in being enunciated by the Vicar of Christ! One begins with the truth in dealing with the messiness of life but one does not set aside revealed moral law to accommodate immorality!)
To counteract this, the Pope exhorted his Jesuit confreres to work with priests and seminarians, specifically to teach them discernment and the art of accompanying people:
I repeat, you must teach this above all to priests, helping them in the light of the exercises in the dynamic of pastoral discernment, which respects the law but knows how to go beyond. (I don't understand this, how can a seminarian understand it--this is inductive reasoning (feminine) rather than deductive reasoning (masculine).)
We need to truly understand this: in life not all is black on white or white on black.The shades of grey prevail in life. We must them teach to discern in this gray area. (No kidding but it is in the gray area that the devil delights, seduces and corrupts the Church and God's explicit morality!)
In a recent conversation with Jesuits, Francis said this:
I note the absence of discernment in the formation of priests. We run the risk of getting used to seeing things in “black or white” when it comes to what is legal. We are rather closed, in general, to discernment. One thing is clear: today, in a certain number of seminaries, a rigidity that is far from a discernment of situations has been introduced. And that is dangerous, because it can lead us to a conception of morality that has a casuistic sense. (This is 1970's ideology and long ago should have been discredited as we move to the future. But the Holy Father is in arrested development when it comes to the decade His Holiness truly desires and longs for!)
 Fr. Richard Gula, SS, (Society of Saint Sulpice or Sulpician and I was trained in their seminary in Baltimore) on fitness for ministry. In Just Ministry: Professional Ethics for Pastoral Ministers, Gula writes this:
[W]e are not fit for ministry if we cannot relate – that is, if we show no signs of having sustained friendships, are careless about boundaries, are arrogant or quarrelsome, or if our style of relating is to control, intimidate, exploit, manipulate, demean, or shame. Nor should anyone be a candidate for ministry who is ideologically or emotionally rigid, aloof, passive, defensive, argumentative, authoritarian, selfish, dismissive, or resistant to learning.
Rather, we ought to manifest a fundamental openness to people and ideas, be hospitable and affable, nondefensive, flexible, capable of collaborating, compassionate, desiring justice, and able to move beyond our own interests in order to be ready to serve others. From my years of experience in seminary formation, I have concluded that seminarians come to the seminary with their relational habits well in place. The seminary cannot do much to get seminarians to acquire the habits needed to have life-giving, satisfying, supportive relationships. Consequently, the diocese should not accept candidates who have not already manifested a history of healthy relationships. (pp. 13-14) (I agree with what the good Sulpician says and that vocation directors need to investigate the faith formation and human formation of the home, the domestic Church, to discern if a candidate for the priesthood has the qualities necessary to be a good priest!)