Saturday, January 31, 2015


And by the way, we will bless throats after all Masses Sunday, including the EF, in honor of Saint Blase and in anticipation of his feast day on the 3rd. Candles will be blessed for the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Monday, also known as the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and also known as Candlemas!
Sunday February 1st is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Ordinary Calendar of the Roman Church in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Blah!

However, Sunday, February 1st begins the Holy Season of Septuagesima and is Septuagesima Sunday in the Extraordinary Time of the Roman Calendar in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Yeah!

What a pity and I mean a pity that the Holy Season of Septuagesima was cruelly and unnecessarily erased from the Ordinary Form of the Calendar. My poor parishioners who only go to the Ordinary Form Mass will be caught off guard when Lent arrives and they have not spiritually prepared for it.

Now with the Extraordinary Form back in full swing, we have a split personality Church when it comes to the calendar, liturgy and Church. It doesn't have to be that way. Restore the holy season Septuagesima Holy Father. It wouldn't take but your word for it to be done. 

As fate would have it, our first of the month Sunday 2 PM Extraordinary Form High Mass begins the wonderful holy season of Septuagesima. The color of the vestment is violet.

This is a brief description of Setuagesima and the Mass for Septuagesima on Sunday:

No one is quite sure why Septuagesima Sunday bears that name. Literally, Septuagesima means "seventieth" in Latin, but contrary to common error, it is not 70 days before Easter, but only 63. The most likely explanation is that Septuagesima Sunday and Sexagesima Sunday simply derived their names from Quinqagesima Sunday, which is 49 days before Easter, or 50 if you include Easter. (Quinqagesima means "fiftieth.")

In any case, it was common for early Christians to begin the Lenten fast immediately after Septuagesima Sunday. Just as Lent today begins 46 days before Easter, since Sundays are never a day of fasting (see "How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?"), so, in the early Church, Saturdays and Thursdays were considered fast-free days. In order to fit in 40 days of fasting before Easter, therefore, the fast had to start two weeks earlier than today.    (


Our campus minister who studied in Rome told me that he had heard Fr. Paul Scalia speak to some of the students at the North American College about Courage and the appropriate way the Church can act as a field hospital for those injured in the war of life and to minister to them appropriately.

So I asked our campus minister to think about how we could offer Courage here in the Macon deanery and if it would be a worthwhile pursuit given the hyper-paganism that so many experience in the area of sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular.

This is what Father Paul Scalia writes. I have to say the more I heard and read about Fr. Scalia, the more I admire this priest. He has the heart of Christ in the sense of the Church Militant rather than the Church Belligerent and how as Catholics we have to have a heart and love for people and not use doctrine as a monstrance to hit people over the head until they submit to a cold doctrine! At the bottom are links to other subjects by Fr. Scalia on sexuality.  What do you think about Courage in a parish/deanery setting?

Same-sex attractions: Part III - The Courage apostolate


For the past two weeks this column has set forth the Church's teaching (which is simply the natural law) on homosexuality. We must know the doctrine and first principles in order to address this issue accurately, always keeping in mind that doctrinal and moral truth is necessary for love.

We must know the doctrine and first principles in order to address this issue accurately, always keeping in mind that doctrinal and moral truth is necessary for love. We must speak the truth in love, as St. Paul the Apostle says (cf. Eph 4:15). Nevertheless, to conclude this series I would like to give a more personal reflection on the basis of my almost six years of serving as chaplain for Courage in the Arlington Diocese.

First, a little background. Courage is a support group for men and women with same-sex attractions. The members meet weekly in strict confidence to share their thoughts, experiences and struggles, and by so doing to give and receive needed support. Members of Courage dedicate themselves to the goals of chastity, spiritual growth, fellowship, support and good example.

Courage is aptly named. The world offers two extremes in response to the issue of homosexuality. One extreme is love without truth. That is, to "love" the person by approving whatever lifestyle he may choose. Thus, homosexual activities are approved in the name of love. The other extreme is truth without love – that is, to run roughshod over persons in the articulation and pursuit of the truth. Thus true doctrine is proclaimed, but the person is left without help. Men and women with same-sex attractions therefore find themselves caught between the extremes of a false love and a loveless truth. One side condemns them to a life of immoral behavior, the other to cold doctrine. It takes courage to resist both the depravity of the first and the discouragement of the second.

Courage follows the words of Pope Paul VI: "To diminish in no way the saving teaching of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls" (Humanae Vitae). Love for the truth and love for the person are not in competition or conflict. The human heart is made for the truth, and the Church possesses the fullness of truth about the person. So it is not enough for the Church to teach against homosexual activity. She must also provide assistance to those who have same-sex attractions – so that they can live the truth and beauty of the Church's teaching. Courage strives to affirm both the dignity of the person and the full truth of human sexuality.

Unfortunately, some see Catholic truth in conflict with the human person. So they try to help without speaking the truth – and thus out of misguided compassion they only enable destructive behavior.

There have been and, unfortunately, still are other groups that claim to be Catholic and claim to "help" people with same-sex attractions. But such groups either dilute the Church's teaching or remain silent about it. They practice what then-Cardinal Ratzinger called a "studied ambiguity" about the Church's teaching. Dignity and New Ways were two such groups and some years ago were officially condemned by the Church. They in no way represent the Church.

So, Courage has really a very simple purpose: to help men and women with same-sex attractions live the truth of human sexuality. We call that chastity. Courage has full confidence both in the Church's teaching and that it can be lived joyfully. Anyone with same-sex attractions who desires to live chastity and strive for holiness is welcome.

Courage has chapters in many cities (not enough, in my opinion) throughout the nation and the world. Each chapter typically has a priest chaplain and follows the same general format at its meetings: prayers (usually the rosary), the reading of the goals of Courage, a reflection, and time for discussion and sharing. Our chapter meets weekly and up until two years ago I was the priest present almost every week. Now, although I still serve as the official chaplain, several other priests from the diocese also assist. Allow me to share some of the blessings I have received in this work.
There would be nothing easier for them than to surrender to society's siren song and live the homosexual lifestyle. But they have the spiritual honesty to acknowledge that that would provide only a false and ephemeral peace.

First, to witness the freeing power of the truth. Now, we know in principle that the truth sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32). But to see this in action is something entirely different. Many Courage members have experienced the freedom of knowing, first of all, that their struggles are not without reason. When they encounter the Church's teaching on homosexual attractions as a disorder they have responded, "Yes, that is true. That is what I have felt." As one member said to me, "I have felt this disorder for years. It was just great to hear someone speak honestly about it." Indeed, it is freeing to hear someone else confirm that your struggle is genuine and real.

Another member wrote the following:
"I came to Courage at a time in my life when my struggles had led me to the breaking point. I found myself praying for death ... and wishing that I had never been born. I begged God with all of my being to lift this burden from me. I felt such immense shame. In time, through prayer and support, I have come to realize that this very unique struggle has made me dependent on God's unconditional love. I am learning to truly accept myself and others who share this immense cross, which is slowly and steadily freeing me from the shackles of self-hatred and judgment. The comfort which I have derived from being not only accepted but truly understood is a gift beyond any imaginable. My prayer now is not to have this cup pass from me, but to love the way God intends, instead of the way that I wanted. I ask for the grace to unite my will with His, and to let my light shine forth in reflection of His love. I have hope again that I may indeed one day be fit for eternal glory in God."
Members also find the freedom of knowing that their struggles are not without purpose: that there is hope. Many members thought for years that there could be no relief, no way out. Once they believed they must either live in secret shame or come out of the closet – neither of which brings peace. Now they find the freeing truth that chastity is possible. This truth brings hope: that they are able to live chastity even with the same-sex attractions. And although Courage does not require its members to pursue reparative therapy (i.e., the reduction of homosexual attractions and cultivation of heterosexual attractions through psychological or psychiatric counseling or treatment), it is certainly supportive of those who seek it.

Second, I have discovered that so little of this issue actually has to do with sex. The homosexual community would have us believe that the only difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality is sexual practice. But that is not true. Sexuality always engages more than just the body; it engages the soul as well. So, more often than not the discussions at a Courage meeting center on the deeper issues that give rise to or accompany same-sex attractions: for example, lack of masculine/feminine identity, family wounds, isolation, anger, addictions and shame. (In this context it is worth noting that the homosexual lifestyle is characterized by higher rates of alcohol and drug addiction, suicide and depression – even as our surrounding culture has grown more approving of it.)
Third, the importance of friendship and fellowship. More than once I have seen relief and peace on a newcomer's face as he learns that he does not struggle alone, that he finally has people he can speak with about his troubles. The sharing and fellowship at a meeting produces such relief.

Finally, I have gained a great admiration for the men and women in Courage. There would be nothing easier for them than to surrender to society's siren song and live the homosexual lifestyle. But they have the spiritual honesty to acknowledge that that would provide only a false and ephemeral peace. They have the spiritual courage to look at their sins, wounds and struggles. They also appreciate more than most the importance of the Church's doctrines and sacraments.

Find out more

Go to
Same-sex attractions
by Father Paul Scalia

Part 1: Sexuality and Homosexuality
Part 2: The Church's pastoral response
Part 3: The Courage apostolate
Part 4: Fidelity to both love and truth



Father Paul Scalia "Same-sex attractions part III: The Courage apostolate." Arlington Catholic Herald (October 20, 2010).

The Author

Fr. Paul Scalia is Pastor at Saint John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia. He received a Master of Arts degree from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome in 1996 and was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Arlington the same year. Fr. Scalia has published articles in various periodicals including This Rock, First Things, Religion and Liberty, Adoremus Bulletin, and Human Life Review, and is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Fenwick Review.
Copyright © 2010 Arlington Catholic Herald


This is just too good and too hilarious!

Friday, January 30, 2015


Fr. Paul Scalia, the priest son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has some very wonderful words for those who defend the truth but neglect the heart (some who comment on my blog by the way).  Read it all, but here’s a snip, from Catholic Answers:
Evangelization and apologetics try to unite two things: God’s truth and the human heart. Let us keep in mind these two things are meant for each other. To effect this union we must possess a love for both the truth and the person. The goal is not just to prove our point or, worse, to prove ourselves correct. Rather, the purpose is to bring people to Christ and to establish his truth in their hearts. To do that we must possess the truth. But we must also keep hearts intact. We depart from the right path when we prize a certain principle or truth and run roughshod over the person in our delivery.

In short, the Church Belligerent [as opposed to the Church Militant] succumbs to the temptation to win arguments instead of hearts—to break the bruised reed and quench the smoldering wick.

A friend, once having acted less than charitably when arguing with someone about Eucharistic adoration, confessed, "It was as though I had taken the monstrance and smashed it over his head." A shocking image, perhaps. But it describes the danger well. The human heart desires the truth. We ought not wield the truth as a weapon, a club for beating people into love for Christ and his Church. If we do, the truth may remain intact, but the heart will be crushed or—worse—hardened.

Read more. 


From the National Catholic Register:

Joe Lombardi’s Super Bowl and Super Faith Stories 

The grandson of the legendary Green Bay Packers coach speaks of past, present and future NFL championships in light of the Catholic faith.

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions
Joe Lombardi, grandson of famed NFL coach Vince Lombardi, is the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions.
– Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions
Not many people can say their last name is on the sterling silver trophy presented each year to the best team in the NFL. However, while Joe Lombardi is one of the few who can lay claim to that honor, he is not taken in by it. The Super Bowl trophy is named after his grandfather, Vince Lombardi, who, as head coach of the Green Bay Packers, won five NFL championships.

As quarterbacks coach of the New Orleans Saints in 2010, Joe Lombardi helped his team win the trophy named after his grandfather. Now, as offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, he hopes to win the Super Bowl again one day, but he also knows that there are more important things in life. Faith and family come before football in the Lombardi household, which prays the Angelus, the Rosary and the Diviner Mercy Chaplet on a daily basis.

Joe Lombardi, a 43-year-old father of six, spoke with Register correspondent Trent Beattie about football and Catholic traditions in anticipation of Super Bowl XLIX, set to take place on Feb. 1 between the New England Patriots and the defending-champion Seattle Seahawks.

You won a Super Bowl as the quarterbacks coach with the Saints in 2010. Was there special importance for you in winning a trophy with your grandfather’s name on it?

Winning the Super Bowl was special, but not just for me. I think everyone else on the team liked it as much as I did. People on the outside looking in might see things in a different light, but, from a coach’s perspective, you get too focused on all the work involved to notice a family name on a trophy.

I guess you could say I was carrying on a family football tradition, but the specifically Catholic traditions, which were passed on through my family as well, are the ones most important to me. I wasn’t able to meet my grandfather, since he died nine months before I was born. However, his Catholicism lives on through me, so that’s what really means the most.

Have you always been thankful for your Catholic faith?
I have not. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people in my generation to have gotten lost in the catechetical haze of the 1970s and ’80s. Parents sent their children to Catholic schools under the assumption that they would receive a Catholic education, but that’s not what usually took place. Maybe part of it was my fault, by not being interested in hearing the truth, but there wasn’t great faith formation in the classroom.

I first started becoming truly interested in the greatness of the Catholic faith around the time I got married 15 years ago. My wife, Molly, and I were concerned about all the health dangers of contraceptive pills, so we looked into natural family planning [which the Church approves]. A priest we met with wanted us to listen to a talk on CD from Dr. Janet Smith called “Contraception: Why Not”; but we said we were already sold on the topic. He insisted that we listen to it anyway, and we were blown away by what Dr. Smith said. Even though we were on the path it recommended, our beliefs and motives were reinforced or augmented in many ways.

That was the first step toward becoming more fully Catholic?

Yes, we started looking into what the Church teaches, and our search has produced so many great results. Now, we love being immersed in Catholic traditions, including the extraordinary form of the Mass. We attend a parish that has this one Sunday a month, and the other Sundays they have the ordinary form in English, but with the priest facing ad orientem [“toward the east,” or in the same direction as the congregation] and with suitable music.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, so we should do everything we can to make it look and sound like that, rather than downplaying the fact. That’s why I find it worth the effort to search for a Mass that’s done well. It helps me to get a sharper sense of heavenly things and to pray better.

One thing that has helped me get a better sense of the Mass is a book called Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. In it, Dr. Brant Pitre gives a historical context for the sacrifice of the Calvary, which is the same as the sacrifice of the Mass. He shows what the Passover was like at the time of Jesus, why Jesus started the Eucharist during Passover, what the Jews were looking for in the Messiah and the meaning of the manna in the desert. Overall, you’re able to see that Jesus is the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies and practices.

Do you think that if people would look into the history and theology of the Mass they would get more out of it and attend it more frequently?

No question about it. It’s mind-boggling to learn what really takes place in each Mass. It’s not a random collection of man-made rituals; it’s something that originated with Jesus (and, in a sense, came before him, since it has its roots in the Old Testament), and it has been passed down to us. Each of its parts has deep meaning because they are reflections of Jesus.

One of the things I like to do is not only going to Sunday Mass, but making a day of it with the family. Instead of going our separate ways after church, we meet up with another family or two and enjoy a meal together, play with the kids, etc. I get to do this all-day thing now that the season is over, and it’s a great blessing.

Are there other Catholic family activities you enjoy? 

Our family tries to pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet every day. Marian intercession and the mercy of God are so closely related, so we’ve even started the Angelus at 6am, noon and 6pm. The first one, that early in the morning, is a challenge, but even if we pray the Angelus at 8, it’s 6 somewhere, right? Plus, no matter what time of the day it’s done, prayer is always a good thing.

It’s a privilege to be the father of a Catholic family, where you not only pass along natural life to your sons and daughters, but supernatural life, too. That’s what matters most, what’s way more important than any Super Bowl victories, however fun those may be. I try to get this across to men’s groups I talk to through Catholic Athletes for Christ’s Speakers Bureau. The Super Bowl is the attention-grabber, but the more relevant thing is to live your life according to the teachings of Jesus, which are found in their entirety in the Catholic Church.
Register correspondent Trent Beattie writes from Seattle.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I am so sick of news sensationalism and I am glad there are those to skewer the media over it. But they will never learn and will continue to provoke hysteria for ratings and acting and the Emmy. O my!


I know that if I were to stop having altar girls here at St. Joseph (which I have no plans to do, by the way) that the girl servers who are very dedicated and feel close to Christ in their altar serving would have broken hearts.

But let's say that from on high, like one's bishop, there was a plan put in place to promote vocations to the priesthood and that an all male corps of altar servers, rightly called altar boys, was at the foundation of this plan, then could we sacrifice altar girls and direct them toward reading and ushering and the altar guild?

I report you decide!


As some of you may know, the Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska gave the okay for priests and parishes in his diocese to celebrate the Mass toward the liturgical east or apse during the Advent Season. He's my kind of bishop!

Fr. David Friel in his blog, "Views from the Choir Loft" writes about it and confirms what most of us priests who celebrate both the EF and OF Mass ad orientem already know! Kudos to Fr. Friel!

Bishop Conley & Advent “Ad Orientem”
published 25 January 2015 by Fr. David Friel 
T THE END of November, I reported on Bishop Conley of Lincoln, NE and his directive that all Advent Masses in his Cathedral of the Risen Christ should be celebrated ad orientem. So, what happened? How did this initiative go, and what was the response?
I was curious to know, myself, inasmuch as I wholeheartedly supported the experiment. So I did a bit of investigative research. The information that follows was obtained from several priests working within the Diocese of Lincoln, and (with their permission) I am pleased now to offer you the results.

First, the photo above was taken at a parish Mass on Christmas Eve. The parish is St. Wenceslaus in Milligan, NE, and you can see here the celebrant facing East. Thus, we see that the initiative extended beyond just the Cathedral parish.
A number of other parishes in the Diocese—probably on the order of 15 to 20—adopted the same practice of facing East during Advent. This was accompanied by explanation & catechesis, and the practice was met with considerable welcome. Multiple priests confirmed that the response was largely positive. Numerous parishioners apparently requested that the practice be continued beyond Advent.
One pastor enumerated some of the reasons his parishioners gave for their appreciation:

1. The posture seems “logical”
2. It makes sense to face the Person to Whom you are speaking
3. Facing East gives the high altar a purpose beyond simple wall decoration
4. It feels very sacred

These are interesting observations on the part of the actively participating faithful.
Another priest told me that his parish seriously considered adopting the initiative in their Advent Masses. Because Bishop Conley’s letter came out only two weeks before Advent, though, they felt there was not sufficient time to offer proper catechesis. Thus, they ultimately chose not to adopt the ad orientem posture. Nevertheless, there was a great openness among the priests.

These results are certainly not exhaustive, but they are directly from priests engaged in ministry within the Diocese. Thus, they are not made up or merely theoretical. They are the practical reflections and unfiltered sentiments of real Catholics.

The bishop’s column introducing the initiative is well done and worth another look. Perhaps this experiment was just a means of testing the waters, with the potential to blossom into fuller use of the ad orientem posture. This would demonstrate remarkable continuity with our liturgical heritage.

Here is Bishop Conley's article in his diocesan newspaper on ad orientem, whic is linked in the last paragraph above:

Bishop's Column

Looking to the east

Jesus Christ will return in glory to the earth.

We do not know when he will return. But Christ promised us that he would return in glory, “as light comes from the east” to bring God’s plan of redemption to its fulfillment.

In 2009, Bishop Edward Slattery, of Tulsa, Okla., wrote that “the dawn of redemption has already broken, but the sun —Christ Himself—has not yet risen in the sky.”

In the early Church, Christians expected that Christ would come soon—any day.  There was hopeful expectation. They were watchful—they looked to the sky in the east to wait for Christ. And because they did not know when he would return, they proclaimed the Gospel with urgency and enthusiasm, hoping to bring the world to salvation before Christ returned.

It has been nearly two thousand years now since Christ ascended into heaven. It has become easier to forget that he will come again to earth. It has become easier to forget that we must be waiting, we must be watching, and we must be ready.

In the season of Advent, as we recall Christ’s Incarnation at Christmas, we are reminded to be prepared for Christ’s coming. In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent this year, Nov. 30, Christ tells us his disciples “to be on the watch.”

“You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,” Jesus says. “May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.”

We remember that Christ is coming whenever we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the Holy Mass we are made present to the sacrifice at Calvary, and to the joy of Christ’s glory in heaven. But we also remember that Christ will return, and we remember to watch, to be vigilant, to wait for him, and to be prepared.

The Mass is rich with symbolism. The vestments of the priest remind us of the dignity of Christ the King. We strike our breasts, and bow our heads, and bend our knees to remember our sinfulness, God’s mercy, and his glory. In the Mass, the ways we stand, and sit, and kneel, remind us of God’s eternal plan for us.  

Since ancient times, Christians have faced the east during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to remember to keep watch for Christ. Together, the priest and the people faced the east, waiting and watching for Christ. Even in Churches that did not face the east, the priest and people stood together in the Mass, gazing at Christ on the crucifix, on the altar, and in the tabernacle, to recall the importance of watching for his return. The symbolism of the priest and people facing ad orientem—to the east—is an ancient reminder of the coming of Christ.

More recently, it has become common for the priest and the people to face one another during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The priest stands behind the altar as he consecrates the Eucharist, facing the people.  The people see the face of the priest as he prays, and he sees their faces. These positions can have important symbolism too.  They can remind us that we are a community—one body in Christ. And they can remind us that the Eucharist, at the center of the assembly, should also be at the center of our families, and our lives.

But the symbolism of facing together, and awaiting Christ, is rich, time-honored and important. Especially during Advent, as we await the coming of the Lord, facing the east together—even symbolically facing Christ together at the altar and on the crucifix—is a powerful witness to Christ’s imminent return. Today, at a time when it is easy to forget that Christ is coming—and easy to be complacent in our spiritual lives and in the work of evangelization—we need reminders that Christ will come.

During the Sundays of Advent, the priests in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ will celebrate the Mass ad orientem. With the People of God, the priest will stand facing the altar, and facing the crucifix.  When I celebrate midnight Mass on Christmas, I will celebrate ad orientem as well.  This may take place in other parishes across the Diocese of Lincoln as well.

In the ad orientem posture at Mass, the priest will not be facing away from the people.  He will be with them—among them, and leading them—facing Christ, and waiting for his return.

“Be watchful!” says Jesus. “Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.”  We do not know when the time will come for Christ’s to return.  But we know that we must watch for him. May we “face the east,” together, watching for Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in our lives.


All the scandalous details are in this tell-all documentary!

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Below is a vintage Mass from Christmas Day, 1962. What I notice is how comfortable the priest and deacons are with this Mass. They are not robotic in any way. They flow comfortably in their Liturgical prayer. Please note too the lovely Gothic vestments. I remember this style from youth in Georgia concerning this Mass, not the Roman ones. I prefer the Gothic style.

Please note too, that there is a Latin hymn prior to the Introit for the procession.

What I have not particularly appreciated about the EF High and Solemn High Masses is that there are virtually two Masses going on at one time, one is a concert Mass, the choir's parts and these are independent of the priest's parts which even though sung by the choir, the priest still must recite in a low voice. However, when you watch this video, you note that the choir accompaniment even if not in sync with the priest's prayers adds a sense of mystery and overlay to the actions of the altar.

Please note the reverence shown to the priest by the deacons, the care they take with him. Is this directed to the person of the priest or is it directed to the Eternal High Priest which the human priest represents liturgically and sacramentally? This sense of showing reverence for the priest during the Mass is tied into the reverence due Christ. This is lost in the stripping of this Mass to formulate the Mass that devolved from this.

Now that I celebrate the 1962 Missal it is amazing to me that the prayers and ways of chanting are exactly what I do--a sense of connection to our history! I can chant better though, than this priest celebrant!

Please note too how the congregation is incensed. Looks like a liberty or creativity to me.

The Mass begins at about minute 5:20 and the commentary is excellent:

Another High Mass, the commentator says why only the priest receives Holy Communion at this Mass. Perhaps this is a bit too clerical?:


This major Basilica is the only one where the altar (with the bishop facing the nave) actually faces geographically westward toward St. Peter's Basilica with its altar and all the other major basilicas facing the geographical east. Thus in Roma, Saints Peter and Paul face each other!


This Kiss of Peace at Mass?
Or this Kiss of Peace at Mass?
Over at the Praytell blog there is a discussion about something Pope Francis did in the Philippines, which one of my commenters picked up in a thread I had earlier.  It was the Mass with priests and religious in Manila's beautiful cathedral, that has a fence, I mean, an altar railing and has not undergone a wreckovation at all.

The Mass with the Holy Father was stunningly beautiful. But then, as is His Holiness' obsessive compulsive disorder-like style, he broke away from the altar and his MCs after the introduction of the Sign of Peace and went into the front of the congregation to greet individually a number of religious sisters in wheel chairs.

It was of course one of his spontaneous gestures that caught the MCs off guard and certainly gives validation to us 1970's types to continue to make the Sign of Peace into a horizontal love fest of sorts with the priest leading the way. In fact in some places the Sign of Peace is accompanied by a song, such as "Peace is Flowing Like a River" or "Let There be Peace on Earth and of Course let it begin with me." In effect it becomes the "Liturgy of the Sign of Peace."

Of course Praytell loves this papal novelty and throw back to the 1970's. But they forget and sometimes we do too, that Pope Francis in other less than OCD-like ways does some tradtional things too at Mass which take forethought to do, such as Intinction for the Deacons at Mass who receive Holy Communion and at those rare times when Pope Francis distributes Holy Communion to some in the congregation. Praytell would never use that to extol this pope's liturgical progressiveness or the forethought that it takes to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord liturgy in the Sistine Chapel at the historic altar ad orientem.

I had two comments at Praytell on this subject one of which was similar to the paragraph above but deleted, which is any bloggers right, since when we comment, we enter the living room of the host who can kick us out if he wishes. But another comment seems to have remained and it is this:

While I embrace a sober sign of peace and that the words that the priest says to the congregation prior to it, “The peace of the Lord be with you always” should suffice as his sign of the peace to all present, I can see the priest exchanging the sign of peace with those nearby and for special occasions to others in the congregation like the pope did in this video. But it does seem novel at a papal Mass. 

But when a priest does go to the congregation, he has to be selective and could be showing preference for some people over others, whereas the greeting “The peace of the Lord be with you always” is to all. But I have seen priests (have a good friend who does it) go throughout the congregation trying to share with everyone. It seems a bit clerical to me though and really extends a symbolic gesture into a literal act.

What I don’t particular care for is for popes to model a liturgical gesture that is not necessarily codified and not explain it. For example Pope Benedict modeled in what some saw as a retro way, the traditional altar set-up, kneeling for Holy Communion and a retrieval of papal regalia from another era and never really explained why or codified it although he knew people were following his example.

I think Pope Francis does the same thing but in a 1970′s sort of way, which of course is retro too, what he did at the Sign of Peace and the washing of the feet of women on Holy Thursday and with no real explanation or codifying of it.

But then I read a subsequent comment by Jordan Zarembo who is a faithful commenter there but prefers the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and explains his reasons for it in a very cogent way when he comments.

This is what he wrote about the topic which is excellent:

S. pax domini sit semper vobiscum / P. et cum spiritu tuo (or vernacular analogue), with an immediately following recitation of the Agnus Dei, is all that is needed at the vast majority of Masses. 

The five minute handshake, hug, and chatter that is the Sign of Peace at Sunday Mass at many parishes is not the pax that the celebrant in persona Christi is offering to the congregation. The liturgical pax is of Christ’s outpouring of infinite agape to humanity in and through the sacrificial banquet. This point in the Mass is not the time for an extended two-hundred-person lovebomb. Demonstrative behavior can wait for coffee hour.

A therapeutic approach to Mass has destroyed the intellectual focus and ritual sobriety of the summit of Catholic life. Pseudo-psychotherapeutics have absolutely no place at Mass. The priest is not there to roll a couch out for you. If a person comes to hear Mass with the mindset that he or she will receive emotional validation not from the abiding presence of Christ in his body, blood, and divinity, but rather a feeble emotional affirmation from other persons, he or she has lost an understanding of the very sacramental reality of the Mass.

KUDOS TO  Jordan Zarembo!

Friday, January 23, 2015


My comments first: I really don't believe that there will be any form of institutionalized allowance for Catholics in a second marital type union while their first and valid sacramental marriage still is presumed to exist.

So I believe the Synod on the Family will deal more with annulments and making sure these are fair and equitable.

I do anticipate some guidance for bishops and priests on what is called the "internal forum" which can only be used in confession and when there is truly a doubt that the first marriage was a sacramental marriage but there is no evidence to back it up save the testimony of one of the spouses.

In that situation a pastoral solution may be offered but the onus is on the penitent and if he or she returns to communion if no scandal is given, it is between them and God and they will be held accountable before God on judgement day if they were trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes in the Church, espeically the priest who offered this internal forum solution.

But please note, the priest cannot bless this second marriage in any way.

But here are the Pope's words to the Roman Rota today which I think bodes well for the upcoming Synod on the Family and will not compromise Catholic dogma concerning the Sacrament of Marriage:

To the Tribunal of the Roman Rota: do not ensnare salvation in the constraints of legalism

Vatican City, 23 January 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis today received in audience the dean, prelate auditors, officials and collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, in order to inaugurate the legal year. In his address, the Holy Father focused on the human and cultural context in which matrimonial intent is formed. He emphasised that the crisis of values in society is not a recent phenomenon, and recalled that forty years ago Pope Paul VI had already denounced the ailments of modern man, “at times wounded by a systematic relativism, that bends to the easiest choices of circumstance, of demagogy, of fashion, of passion, of hedonism, of selfishness, so that externally he attempts to dispute the mastery of the law, and internally, almost without realising, substitutes the empire of moral conscience with the whim of psychological consciousness”.

The Pope highlighted the role of the judge, who is require to perform his judicial analysis where there is doubt regarding the validity of marriage, to ascertain whether there was an original shortcoming in consent, either directly in terms of a defect in the validity of intention or a grave deficit in the understanding of marriage itself to the extent of determining will. The crisis in marriage, indeed, not infrequently has at its root the crisis in knowledge enlightened by faith, or rather by adhesion to God and His plan of love realised in Jesus Christ”.

“Pastoral experience teaches us that today there is a great number of faithful in irregular situations, whose histories have been strongly influenced by the widespread worldly mentality”, he continued. “There exists, indeed, a sort of spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, and which leads to the pursuit not of the glory of God, but rather of personal well-being. One of the consequences of this attitude is a faith hemmed in by subjectivism, interested solely in a given experience or a series of arguments and areas of knowledge believed to console or enlighten, but in which the subject in reality remains imprisoned by the immanence of his or her own reason or emotions. … Therefore, the judge, in evaluating the validity of the consent given, must take into account the context of values and faith”.

Pope Francis urged greater commitment and passion in the ministry of the judge, whose role is “to protect the unity of the jurisprudence of the Church”, and “pastoral work for the good of many couples, and many children, who are often the victims of these situations. 

Here too there is a need for pastoral conversion on the part of ecclesiastical structures to be able to offer the opus iustitiae to all those who turn to the Church to shed light on their matrimonial situation. This is your difficult mission: … do not ensnare salvation in the constrictions of legalism. The function of law is guided towards the salus animarum on the condition that, avoiding sophisms distant from the living flesh of people in difficulty, it may help to establish the truth of the moment of consent”.
The Pope stressed the importance of the presence at every ecclesiastical Tribunal of persons competent to offer sound advice on the possibility of initiating a suit for the annulment of marriage. “In the hope that in every Tribunal these figures may be present to encourage real access to the justice of the Church for all the faithful, I would like to underline that a significant number of cases dealt with before the Roman Rota are enabled by legal aid granted to those whose economic situation would not otherwise allow them to engage the services of lawyer”.