Sunday, April 26, 2015


Today the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis ordained 19 men for his diocese. When you watch this Mass, one realizes that it is the template for the improved celebration of the Mass in rank in file parishes throughout the world.

The processional hymn is a rather typical sounding Italian hymn (they all sound alike to me!). But as soon as the pope arrives at the foot of the altar the proper Introit is chanted in Latin as the Holy Father ascends the steps to incense the altar. The parts of the Mass are in Latin chant too, although the Mass is in Italian for the most part. In fact chanting the Kyrie (Greek) Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei plus the propers in Latin seems to me to be a perfect way to preserve the Latin patrimony of the Church and this appears to be the primary way Pope Francis is in continuity with Pope Benedict at the Vatican papal Masses.

The bells at the Epiclesis and elevations continue to be prominent. I wonder how many parishes today still are stuck in the 1970's and refuse bells at these points?

The other thing that I love about the pope is that his homilies are easy to follow and imitate. I will list some of the things he told the newly ordained priests below, but highlight two things now:

1. He told the priests not to act like peacock priests. How many priests today use the Liturgy as a platform to act like peacocks, entertainers and to show off their personality? This is contrary to the traditional model of the Mass where the priest's personality is to take a background to the liturgy.

2. He told the newly ordain not to say no to anyone who asks for baptism. I know that when I was first ordained we had all kinds of requirements for people to have their children baptized and it was sometimes a cat and mouse game as some wanted to have their children baptized simply to have their children get into our Catholic schools at a Catholic rate!

I don't think we should refuse anyone baptism either. The Church grew in its mass baptisms in South America. People were baptized and then the Church let the Holy Spirit do with this as He wills.

Here are some of the other things the pope had to say to the newly ordained:

 Pope Francis said that priests should never bar anyone from receiving the sacrament of baptism if they ask for it:
In Baptism, join new faithful to the People of God. Do not ever refuse Baptism to anyone who asks!
His advice on the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass was even more direct:
When you celebrate the Mass, therefore, acknowledge what you do. Do not do it in a hurry! Imitate that which you celebrate – not an artificial rite, an artificial ritual – in order that, participating in the mystery of death and resurrection of the Lord, you bring the death of Christ in your members and so that you walk with Him in the newness of life.
In giving advice about how to conduct themselves in the confessional, Pope Francis told the ordinands to always go into the confessional ready to forgive, and never to condemn:
I, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, and his Bride, the Holy Church, I ask you not to grow weary of being merciful. In the confessional, you are to going to forgive, not to condemn! Imitate the Father who never gets tired of forgiving.
Pope Francis also gave them some advice on preaching. He noted that in order for the words of a homily to reach the hearts of the people, the words must first flow from the heart of the preacher:
This is the nourishment of the People of God; that your sermons are not boring; that your own homilies reach people’s hearts because they come from your heart, because what you are saying is truly what you have in your heart. So give the Word of God, and thus your doctrine will be joy and support for the faithful of Christ; the scent of your life will be the testimony, because the example builds, but the words without example are empty words, and will never arrive at the heart and even do harm: They do no good!
Pope Francis also reminded the ordinands that their service must be for the Church and not themselves:
Aware of being chosen from among men and being favored among them to attend to the things of God, exercise in joy and sincere charity the priestly work of Christ, intent only on pleasing God and not yourselves. It is a bad priest who lives to please himself, who does “the Peacock!”
Finally, Pope Francis called those being ordained to strive to model the life of the Good Shepherd:

Be ministers of unity in the Church, in family – leading them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. And always keep in mind the example of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served but to serve; not to stay in his comfort, but to go out and seek and save what was lost.


Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

A few Thanksgivings back, we went to Mass and the priest gave a 20-30 minute, genuinely dull homily which I'm unable to recall any of. Worse yet, he stepped out in front of the altar, which, though not something that usually bothers me, somehow made the homily seem all the more interminable! I think he would do well to read the Pope's comments here.

Anonymous said...

Francis keeps bringing up the straw man about baptismal refusal. Father McD you seem to confirm that there were some incidents of this occurring, but I think this is such an unusual event that his crusade to end this is another example of his inability to identify the real problems in the Church. The synod on the family that should have identified the 800 lb gay gorilla in the room as an assault on the beauty of the family turns into an endorsement of the problem rather than promoting ways to combat it.
And of course the perpetrators
of denying baptism has to be those right wing rascals. I think his obsession with this fantasy is identical to the devious political tactics used by the communists that he so much admires.


Anonymous said...

A dull homily can be excruciating, especially if it drags on, but a recent "homily" at my local cathedral is beyond the pale. It was given by one of the permanent deacons, who by day is a judge in one of the courts.

He started off with some photos of his grand-daughter projected on to the overhead. Apparently the baby had been quite ill for a few months after birth. I felt sorry for the child but didn't expect to hear the whole story.

The deacon then flashed up onto the overhead a poem written by a young Protestant evangelical who had recently died of cancer. The point of that went over my head - I may have lost concentration at that stage.

But to close off his "homily" he said he would play a modernised verson of one of he psalms. That turned out to be himself singing on a CD. At that point a few of us got up out and left the church.

I believe he repeated the same scenario at the 10 am Mass a week or so later.

I wonder, should Catholics be held captives to such self promotion and feel good stories and whether anyone has experienced anythign similar.


Rood Screen said...


I, too, have never heard of a priest refusing baptism to anyone, nor have I ever heard of a priest refusing absolution to a repentant sinner in the confessional. The more outlandish claims that I do hear against priests I know usually come from fallen-away Catholics who one day decide they want some particular thing the Church has to offer, but are then stunned when the priest explains that Catholicism is not a commodity, but a way of life.

Rood Screen said...

The trouble with sermons is that every priest thinks he is good at preaching, and someone will inevitably compliment even the worst sermon.

The common approach is for the preacher to think of an incident in his life analogous to the text, and then recount this incident to the congregation, awing them in the end with the surprise connection. I think this approach is silly.

Anonymous said...

Father JBS
I had an opportunity to speak to a priest from Miles Christi, the orthodox group founded in Argentina and he told me that he knows of no such circumstances that the pope has referred to. That group is one of those black robe types that the pope likes to point his finger at and say they are troublemakers and lack compassion. The priest in fact told me of an occasion when an unmarried couple wanted their illegitimate child baptized and he counseled them to get married in the Church and have a baptism at the same time. They agreed and they had a wonderful ceremony. He did not make the marriage a condition for the baptism of the child.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I have refused, outright, baptism only once - to a couple who said they were opposed to marriage and intended never to have their union recognized by either state or church.

Paul said...

The Baptism isn't about the parents -- it's about the baptized. Perhaps a baptized child can eventually enlighten the stubborn parents.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh,

Could it be that the couple did not have a vocation to marriage, but did intend to raise their child in the Church?

Anonymous said...

Any priest who believes in the dogma of original sin would baptise the child.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jan - You seem to think that the Doctrine of Original Sin means that any unbaptized child will not have the opportunity to enter heaven.

This is not correct.

CCC 1261 "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism."

CCC 1283 "With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Fr. Former PI, the quotes from the CCC are hopeful but far from definitive about unbaptized persons be they an infant, child, teenager or adult actually being in heaven.

There is no definitive, dogmatic solution to this from the Church, simply the pious hope that the CCC offers.

A future infallible clarification could one day come, who knows. But currently, like limbo, what the CCC offers is simply a pious non dogmatic hope. Limbo is better than hell, but it ain't heaven.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I should have added, hope is nice but it isn't certitude.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Good Father - Limbo doesn't exist.

The CCC offers far, far more than a merely "pious" hope.

Belief in the mercy of God is far, far more than pious hope - it is a doctrinal belief. God is merciful.

Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Salvation is not dependent on any human action. This is why, when asked, "Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?" we can reply, "Far more important, Jesus has accepted me!" "Have you accepted Jesus" predicates salvation on a human act - the act of "accepting" Jesus.

Salvation is also not dependent on one being Baptized.

Certitude in this regard does not concern me. Even if it did, there is no "certitude" that a Baptized person is going to end up in heaven.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Good Father former PI, you are not the pope or a bishop and Limbo has not be disqualified as dogmatically as you have and in fact there is a limbo (was?) in terms of Jesus' descending to hell to the limbo of Abraham, Moses, the prophets and others waiting for the Sacrifice of the Cross from the true Messiah.

What you point out in terms of our hope that the CCC describes is just another way of describing limbo which isn't described in any true doctrine. It is a theological justification for the biblical teaching that if one is to be saved, one must be baptized.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Good Father - Limbo was never more than a pious legend. The legend became popular, but popularity doesn't confirm its existence. I am not "dogmatically" suggesting anything since Limbo was never dogma.

The "Limbo of the Fathers" presumes that in the life to come there is time (seconds, minutes, days, years). We know, however, that at death the soul enters eternity where "time" does not exist, where it has no meaning.

As we rightly grown beyond 1) Augustine's vision of a place of "the mildest condemnation" and 2) from the belief that God's mercy was insufficient to ensure an unbaptized infant's entry into heaven, and 3) the idea that there is "time" in eternity, and 4) that salvation is dependent on what we do (baptizing a person), it is time for you to move along as well.

The CCC passages I cite do not refer to limbo, a place of merely natural happiness. Limbo is not salvation. Only in heaven can a being created "to know, love, and serve God in this world and to be happy with Him IN HEAVEN" be truly happy.

Anonymous said...

Why chance it that the child could die without the grace of Baptism?

Lefebvrian said...

The limbo of the the infants is a doctrine of the faith.

How long, Lord, will you chastise us with faithless priests? Do not give us the priests we deserve, but give us the priests we need!

Anonymous said...

The limbo of the infants is not a doctrine of the Faith.

How long, O Lord, will you inflict us with ignorant know-it-alls?

Lefebvrian said...

"Ignorant know-it-all."

Thank you for this insult.