Saturday, April 29, 2017


I see from a Crux post by South Carolinian (all South Carolinians are smart) Father Dwight Longenecker, that  the main seminary chapel at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio has once again be renovated, maybe the fourth time in 40 years. The most recent is a restoration and hits the ball out of the park! Here is the restoration and below it is what it originally looked like and what it became in the 1980's:

Yet Father Longenecker writes that this is what one commentator from the National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) says:

Not everyone is happy with the restoration and renovation movement. Writing at National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) Peter Feuerherd quotes Michael deSanctis-a liturgical consultant and theology professor at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. DeSanctis believes the trend for restoration and renovation is a case of “new clericalism imposing old ways on modern architecture.”

DeSanctis opines, “Architecture is how we express our liturgy… the generation of post-Vatican II priests routinely came out of the sanctuary to interact with their parishioners during liturgy. They built churches with a focus on circular design, to bring the congregation closer together, as well as lowered the altar to bring the priest closer to the congregation. But that has changed with the emergence of many younger clergy, schooled in seminary with the thought of Pope Benedict, who re-emphasized clerical distinctions.”
st therese afteri
St. Therese of Lisieux church in Sugarland, Texas, after its renovation. (Credit: Fr. Dwight Longenecker.)
DCF 1.0
St. Therese of Lisieux church in Sugarland, Texas, before its renovation. (Credit: Fr. Dwight Longenecker.)

Feuerherd quotes DeSanctis, “Restoration-minded pastors, most who came of age well after Vatican II, are ordering the changes. Gone are what they sometimes disparage as ‘Pizza Hut’ churches. The goal is to restore tradition. They impose altar rails, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament near the altar, and use expensive marble on the floor to seal off the sanctuary area as a polished and exclusive arena for clerical liturgical action.”

It is surprising that DeSanctis who is a church building consultant does not seem to be aware of the Catholic teaching about this matter. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs that,

“The People of God which is gathered for Mass is coherently and hierarchically ordered…Hence the general arrangement of the sacred building must be such that in some way it conveys the image of the assembled congregation and allows the appropriate ordering of all the participants… the sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, the Word of God is proclaimed, and the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers exercise their functions. It should be appropriately marked off from the body of the church either by its being somewhat elevated or by a particular structure and ornamentation.”

And then think of the horrible controversy the previous Benedictine Archbishop of Milwaukee did to the once magnificent Milwaukee Cathedral in the early 2000's but with a 1970's mentality:

But when a negative comment about the wreckovation of the Milwaukee Cathedral by Father Richard Vosko who influeneced so many wreckovations of traditional churches in an iconoclastic way was posted on Praytell in conjunction with an interview with Fr. Vosko, this was Rita Ferrone's reaction to the renovation  her former Archbishop ordered be done to his cathedral who then after an immoral homosexual affair paid off his disgruntled lover with over $400,000 in diocesan funds, by any measure what would be called a blatant embezzlement:

Frankly, I am not happy to see a broadside on the Milwaukee cathedral on this thread — this is off topic, and there is not even remotely enough information about it in the post on which to conduct an informed discussion about that design. I happen to know a lot about it, but this is not the subject of this thread. The topic here is the interview.

So much for worship, wit and wisdom!

Friday, April 28, 2017


Pope in Egypt: Catholics and Copts recognise shared baptism

Pope Francis signs a common declaration with Coptic Pope Tawadros II affirming a shared baptism between the two Churches - RV
Pope Francis signs a common declaration with Coptic Pope Tawadros II affirming a shared baptism between the two Churches - RV
28/04/2017 18:24

(Vatican Radio) In a common declaration, signed by Pope Francis and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, Catholics and Copts declare for the first time that they will recognise each other’s sacrament of baptism.


My car, which is five years old and with 93,000 miles, had its air conditioning go out. So it is in the shop and they gave me a lovely loaner! loner? You name it.


It is so weird to me to have two popes. When a pope dies he is still referred to as pope. We now have a "dead pope" who speaks from the "grave." How cool and maybe dangerous is that for the "living pope" and his agenda?

This translation is from Rorate Caeli:

Distinguished Mr. President of the Republic of Poland!
Eminences and Excellencies!
Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen!

With great and profound emotion, gratitude and joy, I learned the news that, on the occasion of my 90th birthday, with the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, high representatives of the state and ecclesial authorities of Poland will meet for a scientific conference on the theme: "The concept of the State in the perspective of the teaching of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI".

The chosen theme brings together state and ecclesial authorities to dialogue about an essential question for the future of our Continent. The clash between radically atheistic conceptions of the State and the emergence of a radically religious state in the Islamist movements, leads our time into an explosive situation, the consequences of which we experience every day. These radicalisms urgently demand that we develop a convincing conception of the State that sustains the clash with these challenges and can overcome them.

In the travail of the last half century, with Bishop-Witness Cardinal Wyszyński and with Pope Saint John Paul II, Poland has given humanity two great figures, who not only reflected on this question, but have brought to it their own suffering and lived experience, and thus they continue to point the way to the future.

With my cordial gratitude for the work that their Excellencies propose in this circumstance, I impart to them all my paternal blessing,

Benedict XVI​


Press the title for the complete article and below photo is my take and comments:

It’s undoubtedly true that there really is a problem about the liturgy today. But the problem doesn’t have a lot to do with the translations.
Mass celebrated on Palm Sunday in the chapel of Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston (John Stephen Dwyer/Wikipedia)’s undoubtedly true that there really is a problem about the liturgy today. But the problem doesn’t have a lot to do with the translations. Nor does it lie in liturgical aberrations like clown Masses and balloons, which came and went during the days of craziness half a century ago.

The underlying problem instead is the decline of the sacramental sense—the fragile discernment of transcendence amid the limitations of our immanence—which has been going on in Western culture over the last several centuries (and which, one might add, is unlikely to be halted, much less reversed).

My take and comments: I have to agree that we don't need a radical re-tinkering of our new and more glorious English translation of the Mass apart from some reorienting of sentences and elimination of useless repetition, often not even in the Latin. 

What we need to do, meaning the pope and the Congregation for Divine Worship is to do what Russell Shaw states is the problem with the reformed Mass and that is the decline of the sacramental sense. 

The reformed Mass from the get-go of the 1970 version of it until today has bought into a dumbed down version or complete redefinition of what reverence is in the Catholic Mass and our other liturgies to include behavior in the church building The laity complained about this throughout the 1970's until they drifted away in mass numbers leading to the abysmal Mass attendance we have today with only 12% to 25% actually liking the dumbed down Mass. 

Rather than having Catholic reverence defined as hushed silence in the presence of the Almighty, now it is defined as noise and activity and being pleasant, giddy and talkative with one another even in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament!

What the pope and bishops must do is recover our oldest Tradition of reverence which is codified in the 1962 Missal. This means, Latin with some vernacular allowed for the changing parts of the Mass, a silent canon and a return to the Gradual and Tract and one reading before it and the Gospel following. The Responsorial Psalm with refrain is useless repetition.

The only change I would make to the order of the EF Mass, using its rubrics, only the Roman Canon prayed hushed style is the elimination of the double Communion Rite of the priest and then the laity. The reformed Mass got this right, except for the elimination of the three-fold "Lord I am not worthy..." 

Of course the common sense kneeling at the altar railing, receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and ad orientem are taken for granted in any renewal of the reformed Mass in continuity with our Tradition of Mass. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The liturgies of the sacraments, including the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, are a means to an end and the end is the adoration and worship of God and the strengthening of the soul for eternal salvation and all that is required for that salvation with God accomplishes through His Son and the graces we merit by our faith and good works.

Yet, there are those, especially liturgical geeks, who worship the form of the celebration of the sacraments to include its language.

Take, for example, those who kiss the boundaries of schism, be it the SSPX or those who reject the legitimate Magisterium of the Church. They, in an odd way, are the very caricature of the "spirit" of Vatican II which they so deplore. It is called taking on oneself an authority they simply do not have or a neo-Gnosticism that they know something directly from God that the Magisterium is completely unaware. They deplore the corporality of the Church and that she speaks through men in the hierarchy of the Church, the pope and bishops who are in union with him. Gnosticism pure and simple, but cloaked in the external traditions of the Church and the elitist mentality that they alone are preserving authentic Tradition.

As for me and my household, we will serve the true Body of Christ.                                      

Monday, April 24, 2017


We had our first ever Divine Mercy devotions at St. Anne in Richmond Hill! After the Prayer after Holy Communion, we had Solemn Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament followed by adoration until 3 pm. I immediately began hearing Confessions until 2:45 pm. Then at 3 pm I processed to the altar for the chanting of the Divine Mercy Chaplet followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. I felt like I was on EWTN!

What did your parish do?

And since this is a relatively new devotion for Americans, I would like to know if SSPX parishes observe it?

Of course I had no photographer to take photos of St. Anne's fist ever Divine Mercy devotion, but many years ago Dr. Buck Melton took these at St. Joseph in Macon:


An answer to my prayers happened during Holy Week. For the first time since I used incense at a funeral, my first funeral in our new church, which at Holy Communion triggered our elaborate system of smoke detectors causing strobe lights, ear piercing sirens and a mechanical voice declaring in an ominous tone, "a fire has been detected, evacuate now" over, and over again, all of which caused the deceased to rise, I used incense at our Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper to include the transfer of the Most Holy Eucharist as well again at the Easter Vigil and without incident.

While I did not use incense on Easter Sunday, I did on Divine Mercy Sunday at our 11 AM Mass which I see as our "principle" Mass and will continue to do so each Sunday. As well we will use incense at our Confirmatioin Mass next Sunday and our First Holy Communion the following Sunday.

You may be wondering, how in the name of God and all that is holy, are you able to use incense without your post-traumatic stress syndrome completely overwhelming you?

We shut the system down altogether, which takes a kind of act of congress to do so. We designate fire monsters, usually our ushers, call our fire monitoring system and indicate to them we are going to turn off the system. They give us permission after we tell them how long a period it will be. Then we go to our mechanical room and enter elaborate codes and push secret buttons and use two separate key pads until the system is disabled.

It is so convenient and so simple, no?????

Sunday, April 23, 2017


It does not surprise me that this is happening in Wichita.  This diocese is one of the most remarkable in the USA. Every parish must adopt the stewardship model of spirituality and charity, that of time, talent and treasure. Every Catholic school in the diocese is supported through tithing and thus there is no tuition! And what the bishop collects to run the pastoral center, which also has a marvelous retreat center is funding though parishioner's tithing on the parish level, no additional Bishop's Annual Appeal or chancery taxes.

The Catholics in Wichita are bread and butter, salt of the earth kinds of people and Catholics!

Wichita men pray before Eucharist overnight for 33 years

Wichita — It’s peaceful in the chapel at 3 in the morning, with only the sound of a softly ticking clock or the occasional rustling from the two men kneeling, one clasping a rosary. Two candles flicker at the sides of the Eucharist; the consecrated bread that the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches has become the actual body, blood and soul of Jesus. The Eucharist is contained in a monstrance, a container that looks like a circle of gold flame. Steve Freach, one of the two men, remembers the story of a peasant who spent hours in front of the Eucharist. When asked why he did so, the peasant said, “I look at him and he looks at me.” For 33 years, Freach and Bob Knoff believe they have looked ...


Read the entire article HERE.

After Four Cardinals, Six Laymen Speak. Who Knows If the Pope May At Least Listen To Them

The four cardinals have never been alone with their “dubia.” Proof of this comes from what happened in Rome on April 22 in an auditorium of the Hotel Columbus, a short walk from Saint Peter’s Square, where six renowned lay scholars came together from as many countries of the world to give voice to an appeal that is being raised from a large part of the “people of God” so that clarity may be brought to the confusion raised by “Amoris Laetitia.”
Anna M. Silvas came from Australia, Claudio Pierantoni from Chile, Jürgen Liminski from Germany, Douglas Farrow from Canada, Jean Paul Messina from Cameroon, Thibaud Collin from France. And one after the other, over the span of one day took stock of the crisis that the document of Pope Francis has produced in the Church, one year after its publication.
Settimo Cielo offers its readers the complete texts of the six presentations, in the languages in which they were delivered. But it calls special attention to the one by Claudio Pierantoni, a scholar of patristics and professor of medieval philosophy at the Universidad de Chile, in Santiago, an abridgment of which is provided below.
Pierantoni brings up again the cases of two popes who fell into error during the first Christian centuries, the one condemned “post mortem” by an ecumenical council and the other induced to correct himself during his lifetime.
But also today - he argues - there is a pope who is “victim,” although “hardly aware of it,” of a widespread tendency to error that undermines the foundations of the Church’s faith. And he too is in need of a charitable correction that may bring splendor back to the truth.
Pierantoni is not the only one among the six to have recalled the lessons of the past, ancient and recent.
Thibaud Collin, a professor of moral philosophy and politics at the Collège Stanislas in Paris, recalled for example the opposition of numerous theologians and entire episcopates to the encyclical of Paul VI “Humanae Vitae,” which was downgraded to purely “ideal” and thereby made inoperative. And he showed how this deleterious “pastoral” logic has come back into vogue with “Amoris Laetitia,” concerning indissoluble marriage and soon also concerning homosexual amours.
Anna M. Silvas, an Australian of the Eastern rite, a scholar of the Fathers of the Church, and a professor at the University of New England, instead emphasized the danger that the Catholic Church might also go down the road already traveled centuries ago by the Protestants and Orthodox toward divorce and remarriage: just when - she surprisingly added - the Coptic Church is returning to the indissolubility of Christian marriage, without exception.
On a response from Pope Francis to the “dubia,” as also on the possibility of a “correction” from him, Anna M. Silvas expressed skepticism. She instead proposes a “Benedict option” for the current post-Christian era, inspired by the monasticism at the collapse of the ancient era, a humble and communal “dwelling” with Jesus and the Father “Jn 14:23) in the faithful expectation, made up of prayer and work, that the tempest shaking the world and the Church today may cease.
Six voices, six different interpretations. All profound and nourished by “caritas in veritate.” Who knows if Pope Francis may at least listen to them.


It must be 1978 all over again, like the movie Groundhog Day. When I listen to certain Jesuits, like Fr. Reese teach about Jesus' words in the Bible being only culturally conditioned by H/his times and thus must be reinterpreted to accommodate our far superior cultural times, this elitism makes me feel like I am back in a 1976 seminary Scripture class. And you know what? I am!

Fr. Reese and other Jesuits of his age and kind, some in high places at that, want to take us back to the 70's whereas prelates like Cardinal Sarah and Bishop Morlino are the prophetic voices wanting to take us "Back To the Future!" I want to get into their car!

Friday, April 21, 2017


Boston has been closing ethnic city parishes right and left, but now is opening a newly built one downtown which will so be consecrated. Nice, no?
An interior view of the church Our Lady of Good Voyage in Boston.

An interior view of the church Our Lady of Good Voyage in Boston.
Sister Caterina and Sister Veritas were letting people know the Our Lady of Good Voyage exists.
Sister Caterina and Sister Veritas were letting people know the Our Lady of Good Voyage exists.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Consecration of Paschal Baptismal Water:
Beginning of baptisms:
Another baptism (13 in all)
Clothing with white garment:
Giving the sponsor the neophyte's lighted candle:
Preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation:



My previous post on Paul Inwood's concern about an Easter Vigil in America run amuck was startling to me because Praytell usually supports liturgical irregularities while deploring the EF Mass and those who attend it and wholeheartedly call for its expansion.

So I was relieved that Praytell has not abandoned its true reputation and posted a backhanded slap down of Inwood but in a nuanced sort of way, by Rita Ferrone who exerted Praytell's true Liturgical ideology:

Here's her comment on Inwood's post:

  • #7 by Rita Ferrone on April 19, 2017 - 6:54 pm 
    Is it a black parish? I notice all the songs substituted for the psalms are spirituals, and another song later in the liturgy sung by the choir is too. The ad hoc choir is drawn from the Eritrean community… they may be trying to accommodate the elderly who have sung spirituals all their lives? Such songs are actually a very important anchor in the black church, and while it doesn’t conform to liturgical norms for psalms, it’s the stuff people sing even when memory fails — and it’s lived theology. I wouldn’t judge it too harshly without knowing some more about how this came to be. I also note the author says there was an “altar call” which is a borrowed term from the Protestant (often Baptist) background that many black Catholic churches include because their families span the ecumenical gamut too.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


In my questions to those who attend either SSPX or FSSP parishes, I asked the following:

My impression too, was that actual participation in the Mass saw many praying the rosary or simply zoning out, but not all of course. Is actual participation in its two expressions combined, that of the interior/contemplative and that of the verbal/exterior better today that in pre-Vatican II times in these parishes?
So, today in these types of parishes, what does the "time (prayer/and religious formation dedicated to God), talent (what the laity do for the institutional church with  the gifts they have) and treasure (tithing) look like?

What does Father's convert class look like and how does your parish compare in size with the "modern" Catholic parishes, liturgies and actual participation nearby?

Then one of my commenters had a common sense, no nonsense, response that takes the cake.  And her answer betrays the wrong road we have been traveling since Vatican II where the focus is on human activity, right or wrong, during the liturgy and getting everyone to do it the "right" way rather than the "wrong" way as perceived by the intellectual elite in liturgical academia. What has gotten lost, is the true purpose of the Catholic parish and the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass--TO GET PEOPLE INTO HEAVEN SO THEY WON'T GO TO HELL. 

In fact, the Fatima Prayer of the Holy Rosary is a brief summary of what Catholic parishes should be praying for and doing:

"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy."

 Here's Bee's common sense, no nonsense answer to my post:

Bee here:

While these are good questions Fr. McD, my question would be, what percentage of pre-Vatican II Catholics went to heaven as opposed to the percentage of those Catholics baptized post-Vatican II?

I know we can't know with any certainty, but my guess is even the people praying the rosary during Mass in the pre-Vatican II days stand a better chance of reaching heaven than post-Vatican II Catholics.

Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am. I guess I'll just keep praying.


There was a colossal controversy in my parish for the Easter Vigil, my first one here. I told the choir director and deacon that all the lights of the darkened church should be illuminated at the third "Lumen Christi".

But the custom here has been for these to remain off until the Gloria, necessitating a flash light for the deacon to chant the Exsultet not to mention the readers needed one too.

The other colossal controversy was when to the light the laity's candles after the Easter Candle had been lighted. I recommended that it be done outside as the people processed into the church, but others stated, no, they should be in the church and their candles lighted from the Easter Candle (which would have taken all night if each one did it individually).

I noticed at the London Oratory where John Nolan frequents that the lights were not turned on at the third Lumen Christi, but remained off for the Exsultet and the readings as documented in the photos above.

But our American Roman Missal's rubrics clearly state that the lights are to come on after the third "Lumen Christi" and no mention of them being turned off again "to symbolize as one deacon taught, that we are thrown into darkness again).  The rubrics state only that the altar candles are lighted at the Gloria with the ringing of bells throughout the Gloria.

The rubrics also state that the laity's candles are lighted after they enter the Church, but this is logistically a nightmare, quite literally. 

What did you experience at your Easter Vigil, the correct way or the London Oratory's wrong way?
I ask; you answer.


Believe it or not, Paul Inwood writing for Praytell decries what happened in a "spirit" of Vatican 🇻🇦 II parish at the Easter Vigil this past Holy Saturday.

Given my post on "Deliver Me O Lord From the Easter Vigil" you know that I must disagree with Paul and Praytell for mocking this lovely, timely and oh so necessary reform of the refoermed Easter Vigil! 👅 In cheek folks! 👎👍🙏😇😎🤡

This is from Praytell and not from incredible but true:

Here isa verbatim report of a rather different Vigil that an American friend sent me:
No Service of Light, no blessing of fire or candle, nor Exsultet. The service started in the church with the Liturgy of the Word. The paschal candle was already lit and in place when I arrived.
After the Genesis creation reading, the “responsorial psalm” from the choir: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
2nd reading is Exodus. “Responsorial psalm”: When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land (Let My People Go) (soloist accompanied by choir)
3rd reading is Ezekiel, new heart and new spirit. “Responsorial psalm”: I’ve Got That Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart….
After the epistle the choir sang the song  We Fall Down But We Get Up, a gospel song by contemporary Black Gospel artist Donnie McClurkin. No sung Alleluia.
Then came a “sprinkling rite”. Using the “stainless steel baptismal stock pot with spigot at the bottom”, folks were encouraged to come up and get some holy water from the tap and make the sign of the cross. Those unable to walk forward had a small glass finger bowl of water brought to them. With a towel. A deacon and a nun stood by the spigot to distribute the water. Sister held a little bowl to catch the drips. During this altar call to “come and get you some holy water” we sang This little light of mine.
There had been no blessing of water. Father said “Let us pray” and maybe the prayer was about the water but his accent was sufficiently thick so that I could not discern. He did everything from his chair and didn’t move from it. Gospel followed the water rite.
No baptisms or confirmations, no sung Gloria or Holy, etc., but still a two-hour liturgy.
I should mention that this is a very senior congregation. About 75 in attendance because no one wants to drive in the dark (start time was 8 pm when it was still daylight). Average age over 75: probably only two people in the church under 60. Choir numbered about eight — is also primarily older and included a few singers from the Eritrean Mass community that worships there. They all used their cell phones as lights because the church lights (hanging fluorescent ballasts) were really dim.
Very low ceiling (about 10 foot) and pot of incense being swung about unintentionally by a very “senior” altar server who held the thurible in one hand and his cane in the other. Carpeted, with padded chairs, only about 30 feet from the back of the church to the altar, about six pews deep, in a fan shape. So much incense that I had a coughing fit. The nun came across to me with a handful of cough drops….
Sad, because it used to be a very vibrant, multi-generational parish with a thriving school. Like many parishes, it is a clustered parish — made of three similarly ageing assemblies in nearby churches, now shuttered. So no candle tapers, possibly because they would have incinerated themselves, but lots of shaking (Parkinson’s, arthritis, etc.).
It was definitely a spectacle! But something made me think that maybe it’s the effort of the people, not the words or rites, that matter. Those older folks made an effort to be there. They sang, they greeted each other, and they weebled and wobbled but they did sit and stand.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


If rejecting Vatican II's poorly implemented legacy is the way to go for the Church, I would like to ask those who attend SSPX parishes or FSSP parishes to tell me what their parish life is like and how large their parishes are in the number of households.

My impression of the pre-Vatican II Church is that priests and nuns and just a tiny fraction of the laity did everything in the institutionalized aspect of a parish. The pastor consulted no one but only a handful of cronies or good friends. Apart from the school there weren't too many other ministries and the laity's role usually involved major fundraising extravaganzas. Apart from altar boys and the women who kept the church clean and well ordered, there were no visible liturgical ministries apart from the choir and ushers.

My impression too, was that actual participation in the Mass saw many praying the rosary or simply zoning out, but not all of course. Is actual participation in its two expressions combined, that of the interior/contemplative and that of the verbal/exterior better today that in pre-Vatican II times in these parishes?

So, today in these types of parishes, what does the "time (prayer/and religious formation dedicated to God), talent (what the laity do for the instituional church with  the gifts they have) and treasure (tithing) look like?

What does Father's convert class look like and how does your parish compare in size with the "modern" Catholic parishes, liturgies and actual participation nearby?

I ask; you answer.


I am convinced that Pope Benedict's liturgical legacy will bear fruit in the future. Although Pope Francis does not focus so much on Liturgical renewal in continuity, for his part he does encourages renewal in popular devotions and frequent confessions. This is an important recovery as well because modern anarchist  liturgists of the 1960/70's tried to destroy both, the liturgies of the Church and her popular devotions to include the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary, not to mention the Sacrament of Confession! Of course this iconoclasm destroyed Catholic identity in order to align Catholicism with Protestantism and form a sort of Tower of Babel kind of church of human construction.

Benedict XVI
[Corriere della Sera, April 15, 2017]

Nihil Operi Dei praeponatur - "Let nothing be set before the Divine Worship." With these words, Saint Benedict, in his Rule (43,3), established the absolute priority of Divine Worship in relation with any other task of monastic life. This, even in monastic life, was not necessarily obvious, because for monks the work in agriculture and in knowledge was also an essential task.

In agriculture, as also in crafts, and in the work of formation, there could be temporal emergencies that might appear more important than the liturgy. Faced with all this, Benedict, with the priority given to the liturgy, puts in unequivocal relief the priority of God himself in our life. "At the hour for the Divine Office, as soon as the signal is heard, let them abandon whatever they may have in hand and hasten with the greatest speed." (43, 1)

In the conscience of the men of today, the things of God, and with this the liturgy, do not appear urgent in fact. There is urgency for every possible thing. The things of God do not ever seem urgent. Well, it could be affirmed that monastic life is,  in any event, something different from the lives of men of the world, and that is undoubtedly fair. Nevertheless, the priority of God which we have forgotten is valid for all. If God is no longer important, the criteria to establish what is important are changed. Man, by setting God aside, submits his own self to constraints that render him a slave to material forces and that are therefore opposed to his dignity.

In the years that followed Vatican II, I became once again aware of the priority of God and of the divine liturgy. The misunderstanding of the liturgical reform that has spread widely in the Catholic Church led to putting ever more in first place the aspect of instruction and that of one's own activity and creativity. The action of men led almost to forgetting of the presence of God. In such a situation, it becomes ever clearer that the existence of the Church lives on the just celebration of the liturgy, and that the Church is in danger when the primacy of God does not appear anymore in the liturgy, and therefore in life. The deepest cause of the crisis that has subverted the Church is located in the effacing of the priority of God in the liturgy. All this led me to dedicate myself to the theme of the liturgy more widely than in the past because I knew that the true renewal of the liturgy is a fundamental condition for the renewal of the Church. 

The studies collected in this volume 11 of the Opera Omnia are based on this conviction. But in the end, despite all the differences, the essence of the liturgy in East and West is one and the same. And therefore I hope that this book may aid also the Christians of Russia to understand in a new and better way the great gift that is given to us in the Sacred Liturgy.

Vatican City, on the feast of Saint Benedict
July 11, 2015 - See more at:

Monday, April 17, 2017


Maybe it is a sign that I am on my way to being 64 years old and have almost 37 years of priesthood under my alb, but I am beginning to think that the Easter Vigil needs a make over! Of the three liturgies of the Easter Triduum, my favorite is Holy Thursday; I simply love it.

Good Friday is a bit stark and disjointed to me in terms of its abrupt entrance with prostration, collect without greeting or Let us pray, the long passion, the long intercession and the the unveiling and veneration of the cross, then Holy Communion and simple exit.

But the Easter Vigil takes the cake. Its full celebration is best done in a monastery or intentional community. I have celebrated the vigil with all the readings, but no more, no matter how much my younger parochial vicars will protest.

We had three Old Testament readings and the Epistle and Gospel of course.

But do we have to have all of that???? Can't we have a more family, less liturgical geeks 🤓 oriented Easter Vigil?


1. Allow it to be at the normal Vigil Mass time no matter how bright and sunny!

2. Light a torch in the church near the entrance and have the congregation comfortably turn towards the entrance of the church (as they do, btw, at funeral Masses for the blessing of the body) then bless the fire, the candle and begin a quick procession with the Lumen Christi chant. No candles for the congregation as these are a fire hazard and get wax on your new padded pews!!!!!! These candles should be anathema! Maybe little electric ones would suffice!

3. Use the short version of the Exultet.

4. Have one Old Testament reading with a short Gradual, not a long Psalm with refrain and an infinite number of verses but keep the prayer, followed by the Gloria, Collect and then the Epistle. But by all means maintain the three-fold Alleluia and Gospel!

5. Keep the homily brief or omit it altogether!

6. Only do baptisms, no receptions into the Church, those could be on Easter Sunday.

7. Do away with the double renunciation of Satan and profession of faith, one for those to be baptized and the other for the congregation.

8. Use the 2nd Eucharist prayer but have something in it for the newly baptized and the Roman Canon's acknowledgment of the Easter night/day.

All of this could be accomplished in a hour and a half rather than 2 and half to three hours.

I was psychologically exhausted a 8 PM when we began the Vigil outside and I could not get the taper to light from the fire so that I could light the candle and then get the congregation's candles lighted.



(Photograph from the dedication of the church in February of 2016. Unlike Macon, and with Dr. Buck Melton, a wonderful photographer who took so many photos gratis for me and sent them to me digitally in order for me to post on my blog, I have no Dr. Buck Melton in Richmond Hill, sad 😭 to say!)

I was a bit nervous about the fact that St. Anne's in Richmond Hill only as two Sunday morning Masses at 8:30 AM and 11 AM (a very nice schedule for one priest, by the way.  I knew we would have a ton of visitors and others who come to Mass on at Easter and Christmas.

I wondered if I needed to add a Mass but decided against it since the new parish church can seat 1,200 comfortably. My first experience of it completely full, but no one standing was on Christmas Eve.

Both our 8:30 am and 11 am Masses were filled to capacity with the 8:30 AM having more small children than the 11 am and thus it won the competition for having the most. (Our Easter Vigil at 8 pm Holy Saturday was a little less than 3/4th full, with 13 baptisms and about 15 receptions into the Full Communion of the Church. It took 2 and a half hours!

What impressed me the most about my new parish is how fertile it is. We have so many young families (many are army families) and many have many children. It is wonderful.

While I am disappointed that these families don't come every Sunday, I am glad that they at least respond to God's grace to come at Christmas and Easter. I tried to be very welcoming of them and pray that some will become more engaged in their Catholic faith.

At the announcement time, in my best southern accent I said, "Ya'll come back now, you hear!"