Tuesday, October 15, 2019


We've been so blessed at my parishes with wonderful sacred music through the years.  Our wonderful director of sacred music for the past 7 years, Mr. Edward Atkinson, put this Christmas album together that I hope you'll consider downloading and sharing with others.  

Thanks for helping our little parish be a light to the poorest community in Indiana!

You can access the site by clicking here: https://www.stambroseschola.com/restoration/

Monday, October 14, 2019

Former Parishioner on the Ground in Syria

Prayers and anything else appreciated.

A former parishioner is working on the ground in Syria as a researcher collecting info for global news sources. This person is in the direct line of fire, knows what is happening and what help is needed.

correct info: https://rojavainformationcenter.com/

donations: http://hskurd.org/en/

Sunday, October 13, 2019

"I am a better scientist than you"

Saint Pope Pius X once said that there is a great heresy, a false teaching, blowing through the world in our day – and he called it the collection of all the world’s heresies into one – and he said it is basically the denial of the supernatural.

The longer I’ve been a priest, the more I see what he’s saying.  If you think the world is a machine, and everything is determined by chemistry and biology and that everything that happens in the universe can be calculated, then the problem is this – there is no gratitude.

Not thankfulness, because there’s nothing to be thankful for.  It is all science, and math and physics and genetics and neurons, it all has an explanation, even though no one has the explanation, many people tell themselves “surely smart people have the explanation for everything” or at least “surely someday smart people will FIND an explanation for everything”

As a person who wants to see everyone happy and at peace, who wants to see everyone know and follow Christ, what breaks my heart in this denial of the supernatural is that so many people tell themselves a monstrously awful thing: so many today say that if they saw a miracle, they would certainly recognize it. 

Let me say that again, people tell themselves the lie that if they saw or experienced a miracle, they would know it.

Since people tell themselves that they don’t experience any miracles, since they don’t see anything miraculous happening, there is nothing to be thankful for, nothing to have gratitude in our hearts for, so we become a hard and cynical people who rip each other apart on line, are lonely, and addicted and depressed because nothing miraculous ever happens.

We’ve said before that the current generation is walking away from the Faith at an epic level, and it is happening today around the age of 13, and the studies suggest it is largely over this supposed clash vs. science and Faith.

I want to say something here: I’ve talked before about the fact that I studied math, but I realized I need to say something if it might help a teen who sees “what can be proved by science” and Catholicism proposes as being at odds.

I was the Calculus student of the year in high school, and I was the math student of the year my junior and senior year in college, and I was really close to going and working on at least a masters in mathematics before deciding to go to the seminary.  I know it is absolutely gross to talk about yourself, but I would say I’m probably better at math and science than 98% of 13 year olds – I know – a really high bar.  But St. Paul does this also to make a point – he says no one was a more devout Jew than I. 

I say this about my science background in order to say “I’ve never seen anything in math or science that contradicts anything in my Catholic Faith.  AND, on the other side of that, I’ve had tons of things that I’ve seen in math and science that have confirmed and strengthened by Catholic Faith.

But if me making a fool of myself talking about college math doesn’t help, I also reached out to a medical doctor, two people I know who are in med school, and the best chemistry brain I’ve ever seen, and I’ve asked lots of Catholic scientists and mathematics people the same questions.  None of them report ever having their Catholic Faith challenged by anything in science, and they also report, though, what they have seen, as strengthening their Faith a great deal.

Gratitude comes from realizing we’ve been given something, that there is such a thing as kindness and love, and gifts, and that we’ve been given a gift.

And what is the gift?  What are the miracles we’re missing?

One of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a while was a video clip of about 90 seconds.  CNN host Anderson Cooper was interviewing Steven Colbert who is the rare Hollywood person that doesn’t brandish about his Catholicism but also never seems to be ashamed of it.

And the video gets right to the heart of what we’re discussing – miracles – gratitude and whether we have anything to be thankful for at all.  Whether anything special ever happens or we’re all just chemicals bumping into each other in a machine.

Anderson Cooper, in the midst of a larger interview where I’m told they dive into politics, set that all aside and go watch the 90 second clip.

Colbert lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash when Colbert was only 10.  Cooper starts to ask Colbert a question, and as Anderson Cooper asks the question – he gets choked up.  The question he gets out through tears is this:

“you once told an interviewer to love the things you most wish had not happened.  You went on to say “what punishments of God are not gifts”  Do you really believe that?

Colbert says “Yes, it is a gift to exist, it is a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering, there’s no escaping that…if you are grateful for your life, you have to be grateful for all of it”

They went on to talk more about suffering and Christ and Catholicism, and it was, in my estimation, the Church’s teaching on the gift of existence even in the face of suffering, all condensed into 8 minutes.  I hope you’ll go seek it out.

Colbert said, in that interview, the key Catholic rebuttal to those who want to strip out mystery – it is a gift to exist

We are grateful when we are given gifts.

And gratitude is what fuels religion, it is what fuels our Catholic Faith and our world view.

I’m here tonight/today because God has given me many gifts – some I see, but MOST  I don’t see

9 run off after being healed from leprosy and don’t think to say thanks. 

They don’t see the miracles of their own healing, so they run off without a word of thanks, on to the next thing.

Many of us do the same

Don’t tell yourself that if a miracle happened you would know it

Let us be the Samaritan who sees the miracle of his healing, and return to Christ.  Let us also say to Christ tonight and always the two words that will totally change our relationship with Christ: “Thank you”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Faulty Interpretations for This Coming Weekend's Readings

Ambiguous and/or non-Catholic sermon topics for this weekend’s readings:

1) “In the first reading, we see the curing of Naaman the Syrian.  Jesus later mentions in Luke 4:27 “And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian”, and that sends the Jews into a FRENZY of anger and they try to kill Jesus right then and there.  In our own day, lots of pharisaical Catholics don’t want to hear that God is working outside the walls of the Catholic Church.  They want to keep Christ in and want to keep others out.  They want to exclude and judge.  “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13).

RESPONSE: In the Old Testament, God’s Covenant was with a particular people (nation).  The people who were upset with Jesus were upset that He was saying that God can also work outside the Jewish nation.   Now the New Covenant is open to EVERYone.  Any halfway decently catechized Catholic knows that God works outside the walls of the Church as well, but that He desires to draw everyone to the Church even when He works outside it.  So those who “lock people out” would only be those who tell other people “you need not worry about becoming Catholic…there’s nothing here for you that you don’t already have outside the Church.”  They are the ones locking people out and not entering in themselves.

2) Jesus went to the lepers in the Gospel today, a place where some don’t want him to go.  Today there are places where some mean Catholics do not want the Church to be present.

RESPONSE:  This is false.  Every true Catholic wants the Church to be as present as possible to every person on the planet.   That is why men and women, through the centuries, have chosen celibacy and even the missionary life…in order to bring the Gospel to ends of the Earth.  That missionary option needs to be encouraged and celebrated.

Also, St. Augustine says about this weekend's Gospel: “The lepers may be taken mystically for those who, having no knowledge of the true faith, profess various erroneous doctrines. .. leprosy is a blemish in color, when true things appear clumsily mixed up with false in a single discourse or narration…It is plainly implied that leprosy is false doctrine which the good teacher may wash away.”  Augustine is saying that it is clear that Christ desires to purify and wash away from people false doctrines.  Speaking about such false doctrines as if they were something that the Catholic Church should celebrate would be dangerously wrong, in the same way that people would not suggest that a healthy person would benefit from contracting leprosy.

The Church has historically, through missionaries, teachers, etc. never been afraid to go to a place where non-Catholic ideas reside, but always with the goal of bringing people TO the Church, “curing of the leprosy of false teaching” as Augustine suggests.  

All of us, in bringing the Gospel to places where it isn't celebrated (workplace, school, larger community, etc.) should show up and say "you all follow false teachings!  CONVERT!"  But working for the conversion to the Church of all we meet is a call we've been given by God.  We ignore and/or demean that call at our peril.

3) “Our second reading says that the “the Word of God is not chained”.  Unfortunately, in our own day, many bad Catholics want to chain up the Word of God and keep people from receiving the Good News of the Gospel.  Many bad Catholics today want to keep people from the Eucharist because they want priests to be celibate men.”

RESPONSE: A priest is not just a sacramental dispenser, a functionary whose role is only significant because of the sacraments he “produces”.  A priest is to be conformed to Christ, and is called to be a type of “alter Christus” to the people.  So the priest has value apart from his ability to administer the Sacraments.   We don’t go to Mass to see the priest, but the priest’s presence among the people, in his celibacy, continence and chastity, is an important aspect of Catholicism, and celibacy has a long history (when lived)of being a dramatic and effective sign that impresses non-Catholics that the Church is always seeking to invite to a conversion to the Church.  People in every age recognize the fact that a person being willing to give up marriage (and sexual expression within marriage) means a person believes, in a more radical way, the things he or she is seeking to offer (in this case, the Truths of Catholicism).

The Catholic priesthood has also been historically understood to be connected to the Old Testament temple priesthood, where God required that the men who would offer sacrifice practice a period of abstaining from sex for several days in preparation to serve at the altar. 

Canon 277 also says: “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity.” 

I also submit Chesterton: ““It is true that the historic Church has at once emphasized celibacy and emphasized the family; has at once (if one may put it so) been fiercely for having children and fiercely for not having children. It has kept them side by side like two strong colors, red and white, like the red and white upon the shield of St. George. It has always had a healthy hatred of pink. It hates that combination of two colors which is the feeble expedient of the philosophers. It hates that evolution of black into white which is tantamount to a dirty gray. In fact, the whole theory of the Church on virginity might be symbolized in the statement that white is a color: not merely the absence of a color. All that I am urging here can be expressed by saying that Christianity sought in most of these cases to keep two colors coexistent but pure.”   
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 6

In the past, what has led to an explosion of the Catholic Faith around the world was a consistent call for heroic missionaries.  Are we issuing that call anymore?

4) “In the lepers that Jesus visits in today’s Gospel, we see that Faith is present prior to full incorporation into the Church.  So we see that non-Catholics and even non-Christian peoples are capable of possessing Faith even prior to evangelization.  So we can leave them where they are and not work with urgency to bring them to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith.”

RESPONSE:  First of all, it is important to note that the 10 lepers in the Gospel this weekend cry out for Jesus!  By name.   And that matters.  They do not cry out for some other deity.  They cry out for Jesus.   Theopholus notes: “They do not merely supplicate or entreat Him as if he were a man, but they call Him Master or Lord.”

And secondarily, yes, Catholicism acknowledges that Faith in God can be present even prior to baptism and prior to a participation in the sacraments of the Church.  St. Thomas  Aquinas says it this way: man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly; and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a fuller remission, as to the remission of the entire punishment. So also before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit: but afterwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fullness of grace and virtues III q. 69 a. 4. 

There are specific gifts that Aquinas notes for those who are baptized:  1) incorporation in Christ, 2) enlightenment and 3) fruitfulness.  So we should want all to come to the Church and join in the sacramental life of the Church so that they receive these amazing gifts.  Again, it is why countless missionaries gave up everything – they went to help incorporate people into the life of the Church; to INVITE (never force.  Always invite.  Where anything other than invitation to the Church has been used, the Church condemns that OUTRIGHT)  them to a new reality altogether, a life as a Son or Daughter of God through baptism, not through continuing to do what they have been doing, nor to live as they had been living.  I can’t believe we have to say this, but it is important that a person become Catholic.  If we understand Catholicism, we should desire that everyone join us in the Church.

Aquinas also teaches that those who are not baptized will at best enter into purgatory.   Suppose, therefore, catechumen to have the desire for Baptism (else he could not be said to die in his good works, which cannot be without "faith that worketh by charity"), such a one, were he to die, would not forthwith come to eternal life, but would suffer punishment for his past sins, "but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" as is stated 1 Corinthians 3:15 (III 68 a. 2 ad. 2). 

We cannot be content to let people outside the Church continue to live outside the Church.  Again, without force, our hearts should desire completely that all know the Life of Christ in His Church.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Review of Infiltration

I will say up front that I’ve known Dr. Taylor Marshall for many years informally.  We both hopped on “Catholic Twitter” about the same time, and, as time goes by, you see a person’s stuff pop up and you find yourself saying, over time, “I agree with that person a lot.”  No one agrees 100% of the time, but over the years you start to informally befriend those you keep coming across and those you share ideas with.

I was blessed to be able to be a chaplain this summer for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land that Dr. Marshall led.  It was asked that we do the Latin Mass each day, so I was a little intimidated by that prospect as I only celebrate that form of the Mass once a week.   I didn’t know how intense Dr. Marshall and the other 90 people coming on the trip would be.  Let me tell you something, I’ve never been with 90 nicer people than the 90 people I went on pilgrimage with this summer.  Dr. Marshall and his wife Joy brought their 8 children and there were lots of other young adults there, and the pilgrims were just super normal and super down to Earth. 

I share this so that you know 1) my bias and 2) I hope this gives a bit of insight into the Dr. Taylor Marshall I’ve had the limited chance to get to know. 

Dr. Marshall’s notoriety has also exploded over the last 18 months in the wake of the (formerly Cardinal now Mister) McCarrick story that broke in the summer of 2018.  Dr. Marshall had a podcast that had started prior to the scandal breaking, but it was his episodes, particularly the ones where he joined with Timothy Gordon, that put him in the Catholic spotlight.

Dr. Marshall and Tim Gordon, from the moment the McCarrick story first broke, started talking frankly and clearly about the story in a way that the average Catholic could understand (also in a way the average priest could not say things!).   This awful and (still very much ongoing) scandal needed (and still needs) the sort of frankness and directness that Dr. Marshall and Tim Gordon have been bringing to this topic for the last 18 months, and their viewership has grown exponentially.

In covering the twists and turns of any major story, any good reporter that is able to explain to people what is happening in clear English will naturally unearth lots of interesting and noteworthy information from interviews, from their own research, and from information sent to them as people see the platform that the reporter has. 

So we now come to the book “Infiltration” by Dr. Marshall which was published by Crisis Publications in early 2019.  The book strikes me as essentially a combining together into one book the written record of the research and information gleaned from his podcast over these past 18 months.  I found the book to be concise and full of good information that I had never seen before.  I would say that the material laid out in the book is stuff that the average Catholic can understand, and is also important information that every Catholic needs to know about.

So let’s get to the critics of the book.  The criticisms I’ve had the chance to come across generally fall into three categories:

1) “Infiltration” is not academic enough.  It contains good research in places, and then it blends in the author’s own hypotheses in a way that serious research does not.  It is not as polished as the Oxford Dictionary, and there are accusations dropped in that are messy and not always explained.

2) In a related criticism, “Infiltration” is too “conspiracy theory-ish” in nature.

3) More research should have been done before publishing.

My response to criticism 1: the book is written in a style similar to Dr. Marshall’s podcasts, and that, in my mind, explains the book’s success so far.  A lot of the people lamenting that “Infiltration” is too informal are some of the same people that can’t get anyone to read their books.  It is fairly obvious why people are drawn to Dr. Marshall’s podcast; he speaks in plain English.  People, it seems to me, are fed up with “Church talk” and want to hear, in plain English, what’s going on and what should be done.  There will always be jealousy by those who want more people to listen to their version of what is happening, but can’t say it as clearly and concisely as the people that are garnering praise and attention for their clarity.

“Infiltration” isn’t written in theologian-speak.  I don’t believe I saw any instances of the words “ecclesiology” or “Christology” or any other of the myriad of theological jargon that, while at times important, puts the average Catholic to sleep really quickly.

My response to criticism 2: yes, Dr. Marshall puts in some of his own hypotheses, but I would say to the critics “You mean you really can’t tell where he’s inserting a hypothesis?”  To me it is quite obvious where he is speculating and where he is sharing a fact.

As to the book being to “conspiracy theorist”, I would say, first of all, the whole premise is that there is some kind of conspiracy, so that would imply that the book is “conspiracy theory-ish”.  Secondly, consider the fact that the following things all are matters of historical record, and are not “theories”:

1) Bishop Athanasius Schneider endorsed the book. 

2) Paul VI in a HOMILY in 1972 REALLY said: “no its’s not mysterious; through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God”

3) Pope Pius IX really did approve the apparition of “Our Lady of La Salette”

4) Leo XIII in 1890 published the Saint Michael Prayer.

5) Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich really wrote in the early 1800’s that Satan would be unleashed on the world in the second half of the 1900’s. 

6) Fatima happened, and even if nothing has been hidden (John XXIII’s secretary has said the second half of the third secret was hidden) there is much to pay attention to.  That some in the  Church have covered up and never revealed parts of what the children were told to share with the world is a “conspiracy theory” in the sense that there is strong evidence that people conspired to do something, but regardless, Fatima itself really happened is not a conspiracy theory and has much to pay attention to.

7) VENERABLE Bishop Fulton Sheen actually said, in a book, “He will set up a counter church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God.  It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.  It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.”  That is an actual quote, not a conspiracy theory.

8) A former Communist agent Manning Johnson testified before the United States House in 1953: “Once the tactic of infiltration of religious organization was set by the Kremlin…the Communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through infiltration of the Catholic Church by Communists operating within the Church itself…This policy of infiltrating the seminaries was successful beyond even Communist expectations.” (public record…not a conspiracy theory on the internet)

9) In 1958, 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass, and today it is only 22%.  That’s not a conspiracy theory.

10) In 1965 there really were 49,000 seminarians and in 2002 there really are 4,700. Not a conspiracy theory.

11) Cardinal Danneels is the one who first let everyone know there was, as he himself termed it, a “Sankt Gallen Mafia” of Church leaders.  That’s not a conspiracy theory.  He said it.

12)  Alice Von Hildebrand reports that Bella Dodd confessed to her and Dietrich that Russian Communists were working with 4 cardinals high in the Vatican.  If you don’t trust Alice Von Hildebrand, and put her in the conspiracy theorist category, I don’t know what to tell you.

As to the final criticism that there needs to be more research: I agree, as I’m sure Dr. Marshall agrees and lots of other people agree.  Dr. Marshall is a father of 8 children working hard to raise a family and teach online and so forth, does anyone actually think one person would EVER be able to unearth the depth of this situation?

The Spotlight story that broke open the abuse crisis of 2002 in Boston had a team of 5 full time reporters working on the story for years.  How many reporters covered Watergate?  But Dr. Marshall, through first interviewing victim James Grein, uncovered an eerie connection with McCarrick and Sankt Gallen (I’ve noticed some professional Catholic outlets criticize “Infiltration” and then turn around and reference the information Dr. Marshall unearthed in his interview with Grein, all while not crediting Dr. Marshall with discovering the info.  That’s plagiarism where I come from.  The same has been done to some of the stuff that Church Militant and George Neumayr have discovered.  They’ve been described as non-professional, and then, by the same groups, have their work non-professionally plagiarized).

I am confident in saying that Dr. Marshall would love nothing more than to see lots of other people continue to do a deep dive and investigate all the strands of this story.  That no one else seems willing to look any deeper into this story, given what Dr. Marshall has already been able to unearth and pull together, will certainly only add fuel to the fire of those who are tempted to see conspiracies.

I’m thankful for the work being done by Dr. Marshall, the book “Infiltration” very much included!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

"Those who do not pray are certainly damned"

Catechism 2744: "Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned."

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Prayers After Mass

Some have asked for the optional prayers that I will be leading at the end of our weekend Masses that do not end with adoration. here is a photo of the back page of our new Mass booklet:

Homosexuality, "objectively disordered", "differently ordered", Father James Martin, etc.

10 years ago classes I taught on Catholicism and homosexuality went viral on the gay blogosphere, putting me in the middle of an issue I had never imagined.

I said then (and still say) that if I could change one phrase in the English translation of the Catechism it would be the phrase in paragraph 2358 (see image below)

The proper English phrase should be, philosophically speaking, “not properly ordered”.

BUT Fr James Martin’s proposal is disastrously wrong. He wants “differently ordered”, which of course, as he knows, takes the discussion away from what attractions SHOULD be ordered to.

Monday, September 30, 2019

On a Civil War

I am no Trump apologist but we ARE heading for a civil war IF we keep acting the way we're acting.

It seems VERY important to point that out so we can reverse course!

One year ago I gave this homily: "I am scared for our country"

Let's talk.  For real.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A former parishioner's funeral and the Mass

Lieutenant Colonel Gary Gretter Service from Bill McKnight on Vimeo.

This is video highlights from the burial for Gary Gretter, a parishioner who moved back to Virginia about two years ago because of health reasons.  Gary died several months ago.  Gary was one of the more humble men I've ever met, so much so that I didn't even know he was a Lt. Colonel.  This footage is absolutely stunning.

Most people that watch this will not be able to help being deeply moved.

What makes it stunning?

1) Precision of movement.  Everything has been prearranged, there is absolutely nothing that is impromptu

2) Uniforms.  People are dressed up, and, whether it is the family or the military folks assisting in the service, all who might walk by or see this service would know, by their dress "Something important is happening here."

3) The music.  It fits the occasion, and it is not something the people in attendance say "play something that we can sing along with so we can join in"

4) Latin.  Others who have watched it, particularly former marines, have responded "Semper Fi".  That is the Marine motto, but it is interesting even here that having something in a language that isn't the vernacular seems to carry more weight.

5) The reverence.  The way the body is treated and the way the flag is treated shows to ANYONE watching, even if they've never seen a casket before and even if they've never seen an American Flag before, they would know, by watching this ceremony that the body and the flag are both HIGHLY valued by those who are in attendance.

1-5 can also be said about the Catholic Mass when it is celebrated well.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Catholicism and Yoga

Number one question I’m asked as a priest: “Father, can I do Yoga?”

Me: “No. but as a follow up, why would you want to?”

Person: “it’s like normal stretching”

Me: “Then just do normal stretching, since it is NOT attached to Eastern non-Catholic spiritualism”

“But Yoga is just body movements!”

Me: “So is genuflecting, giving someone the middle finger, making the sign of the cross...most of the best and worst things in the world are “body movements”. We must recapture the Catholic understanding that the body and soul are connected”

Person advocating for Catholic-Yoga: “But praying and stretching are so peaceful!”

Me: “It’s important to work out and take care of ourselves. But do you know what is more peaceful than stretching while praying...JUST praying. (Rosary/Scripture/adoration/holy hour/etc.)

Some have said Fr. James Martin is prompting some kind of “Catholic Yoga”. Well, I typically believe the exact opposite of Fr James Martin. That he likes “Catholic Yoga” does not surprise me in the least, sadly.

Some were saying St Ignatius asked for “Catholic Yoga” to be created. If so, I would confront St Ignatius on that, as Paul confronted Peter.

There’s no “Catholic Ouija Board”
There’s no “Catholic Tarot Cards”
There’s no “Catholic Chakra Wheels”

There’s no “Catholic horoscope”
There’s no “Catholic seance”
There’s no “Catholic Yoga”

Lead a life of tranquility

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Some Important Vatican Notes on Celibacy

Some quotes on celibacy from “The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests” (59-60)

"The example is Christ, who in going against what could be considered the dominant culture of His time, freely chose to live celibacy.  In following him the disciples left “everything” to fulfill the mission entrusted to them."

"For this reason the Church, from apostolic times, has wished to conserve the gift of perpetual continence [no sex] of the clergy and choose the candidates for Holy Orders from among the celibate faithful."

"In today’s cultural climate, often conditioned by a vision of man lacking in values and incapable of giving a complete, positive and liberating sense to human sexuality, the question of the value and meaning of priestly celibacy is often presented, or at least the question of its strict rapport with ministerial priesthood."

"Difficulties and objections have always accompanied, throughout history, the decision by the Latin Church to confer ministerial priesthood only on those men who have received from God the gift of chastity in celibacy." 

"The difficulties which some present even today are often founded on pretentious arguments."

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Coming Home to Catholicism

This was a great episode of The Journey Home.  I hope you can watch it all.  Very charitable with TONS of great quotes and takeaways.

Here were a few of my favorite quotes:

“Any answer to the question: “Which Church should I attend?” that doesn’t have as its singular conclusion “Whichever Church Jesus established” results in consumerism.  [if that’s not what I’m asking] I’m therefore going to some place that [just] makes me comfortable or that I THINK is right”

“And actually we don’t know what we ought to think about certain contested issues in the Scriptures; we wrestle with exegetical questions all the time, and you can’t always sort that out with more exegesis.  Wonderful exegetes disagree with each other so frequently.  And so is there a divinely protected organism in the world that is able to discern for us or settle those matters for us?”

Catholicism and Slavery

The Battle of Prayer!

My goddaughter (middle) at prayer at my sister's rehearsal

My favorite picture of all time goes well with my favorite part of the Catechism (by an order of at least 10) on "The Battle of Prayer"

I hope you can read every word:

2725 Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.


2726 In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures. Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they "don't have the time." Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone.

2727 We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of "this present world" can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer is a mystery that overflows both our conscious and unconscious lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, being unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life.

2728 Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have "great possessions,"15 we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.


Facing difficulties in prayer

2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.16

2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: "'Come,' my heart says, 'seek his face!'"17

2731 Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit."18 If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.19

Facing temptations in prayer

2732 The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Recognizing the Church

“But one thing eventually became clear: my happy evangelical view of the Church’s “unity” as being nothing more than the worldwide clutter that we had under our general umbrella, was, for good or ill, not what the ancient Church had understood by the word unity. As an evangelical, I could pick which source of things appealed most to me:… And in one sense, variety is doubtless a sign of vigorous life in the Church. But in another sense, of course, it is a disaster.

The Montanists [heresy] were certainly zealous and earnest and had much to commend them: the difficulty, finally, was that they were not the Church. Likewise with the Donatists [heresy]. God bless them for their fidelity and ardor and purity, but they were not the Church...[heresies raised throughout history] did not remain open questions forever. 

There was one Church, and the Church was one. And this was a discernible, visible, embodied unity, not a loose aggregate of vaguely like-minded believers with their various task forces all across the globe.  

The Bishop of Antioch was not analogous to the general secretary of the World Evangelical Fellowship or the head of the National Association of Evangelicals. He could speak with the full authority of the Church behind him; these latter gentlemen can only speak for their own organization.”

Thomas Howard
“Recognizing the Church”

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

26 Things Pastors Can Do to Emphasize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist According to Church Law Governing the Novus Ordo

26 Things Pastors Can Do to Emphasize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
According to Church Law Governing the Novus Ordo

By Fr. Jonathan Meyer and Fr. John Hollowell

“The pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful”
- Canon Law paragraph 528 -

This list is in response to the August 5, 2019 Pew Research Study: Just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree with their church that Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.  Pope Paul VI said, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers.”  What witness are we as pastors giving to our world about our belief in the true presence of our Lord?  The Church clearly offers us several ways to give witness to this reality. 

If any of the following are to be implemented at your parish, do so with ample catechesis inspiring a deeper understanding to the “why” behind each sacred tradition, thus leading the faithful deeper into the mystery of Christ’s real and abiding presence.  For pastoral reasons, never abruptly make changes, but do make adjustments with teaching and explanation.   

1) Reverently genuflect to Jesus in the tabernacle when you enter the Church building and sanctuary and teach your sacristans, liturgical ministers and lay faithful to do the same.  Do this outside of Mass and as you enter and leave the sanctuary during Mass.  The improper custom of bowing to tabernacle is not the proper reverence (GIRM 247).

2) Use a tabernacle veil and catechize about the use of veils in the Old Testament and the tabernacle being the fulfillment of the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant.  This veil is mentioned in ID 25.

3) Be sure that you have better security surrounding the tabernacle key than you do for the parish safe (CCL 938 p3,5). “The tabernacle in which the blessed Eucharist is habitually reserved …(is) so locked as to give the greatest security against any danger of profanation.”

4) Use a chalice veil, which the GIRM states as “praiseworthy,” and catechize on how we are invited to go behind the veil and enter into the mystery of God’s love poured out for us (GIRM 118).

5) Have server or deacon incense the Blessed Sacrament at the consecration during Mass; this will require having well trained servers which will give you the opportunity to directly catechizes the youth about our Lord’s true presence (GIRM 150).  It detracts from the Real Presence if incense is used at some point in Mass, but not at the consecration.

6) Have the servers ring bells at the epiclesis and consecration (optional: also have ushers ring Church bell(s) in the bell tower, if you have them) (GIRM 150).

7) Only use sacred vessels that are lined in precious metal.  Just to clarify, glass is not a precious metal, pewter is not a precious metal, wood is not a precious metal, nor is pottery.  If it is not a precious metal, it should not touch our Lord (GIRM 328, 290, 291, 294, 295).

8) Be sure to have a corporal unfolded and folded at each Mass.  Do not get into the habit of either not using a corporal, or leaving the corporal on the altar all the time.  If the point of the corporal is to catch fragments, it should be set out and put away at each Mass and laundered properly.  At the start of each Mass the Corporal should be on the credence table (GIRM 118).

9) Use a pall out of reverence for our Lord, desiring nothing to contaminate our Lord’s Blood (GIRM 118).

10) Use Communion patens; they are mentioned on the list of things to be placed on the credence table in the GIRM and then were recommended again in RS  (GIRM 118 and RS 93).

11) “The norm established for the dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling.”   Church law thus allows people to receive kneeling. Never deny a person nor belittle a person who chooses to exercise their right to receive kneeling.  (GIRM 160, 2011 edition).

12) Take the option of purifying every sacred vessel used at Mass, at the altar, during Mass (GIRM 163).  Yes, it adds a few minutes to Mass, but it gives people more time to pray, which is a second benefit.  Don’t take the option of purifying the sacred vessels after Mass.  Help show the people that every drop of Blood and fragment of Christ is priceless and is to be treated with care.  If the laity assist with the purification of the sacred vessels, never allow sayings such as, “I’ll do the dishes;” politely instruct them to use other words.  Be sure to only allow a priest, deacon or an instituted acolyte to purify (GIRM 279).

13) Purify sacred linens according to Church law. All purificators and corporals should be rinsed in water in a sacrarium (or rinsed in a container and then have that water poured directly into the ground if a Church does not have a sacrarium).  Only after the purificators and corporals have been rinsed in a sacrarium should they be laundered.  (“Care and Cleansing of Altar Linens” Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, 19 March 2001)

14) Never personally refer to the Eucharist as “bread” or “wine”. i.e. don’t have extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion that have assignments with titles like “bread 4” or “wine 7;” nor should you allow the lay faithful to say such things in the sacristy; politely correct them if this has been the custom in the past.

15) Canon Law requires pastors to do processions (CCL 530). Start at least with a Corpus Christi procession each year.  As a reminder, you can do Eucharistic processions throughout the year, not just on Corpus Christi weekend, but it is also worth remembering that the Roman Missal itself specifically does encourage a procession as an extension of Corpus Christi Mass (CCL 944).

16) After good catechesis, begin to celebrate Mass "Ad Orintem", where the priest and people are all facing the same direction. 

17) Occasionally expose the Blessed Sacrament at the end of weekend Masses so everyone in the parish, even those who don’t go to adoration, see the Blessed Sacrament incensed in a monstrance. (Order for Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist, 31-33)

18) Begin Perpetual Adoration or at least extended adoration on a more regular basis.  Promote this as the most powerful and important ministry in your parish community.  Committing to a period of adoration   is of utmost importance.  Recall that, “the use of drapes or doors to shield the monstrance, even for a short period of time, is not the required reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.”    (31 Questions on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament- USCCB).

19) Have your church unlocked and promote people to make visits throughout the day to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. (CCL 937).

20) At every wedding rehearsal, deliver a quick “ferverino” about genuflecting when coming in to a Catholic Church, and tell them, in a kind but clear way, that we believe that Christ is truly present in the tabernacle, and so, just as there are things that might seem strange or foreign to you if you would go to a wedding ceremony at a synagogue or mosque, at a Catholic Church, when you get to the front of the aisle, the wedding party, as they arrive, will genuflect to Christ truly present in the tabernacle.  Priests should stand off to the side so no one thinks that people are genuflecting toward the priest.  They should also be taught to genuflect when they process out.

21) At every wedding, funeral, Easter and Christmas Mass be sure to verbally remind the faithful about the reception of Communion; this should also be printed in the program for each Mass.

22) Review the policies at your parish on how communion is brought to the sick or shut-in.  Be sure our Lord is being treated with reverence.

23) When praying the Eucharistic Prayer, or other parts of the Mass that are clearly addressing God, do not look at the congregation, but only at the missal, the altar cross, at Christ Himself in the Eucharist or have your eyes elevated.

24) Personally make a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass, do not be afraid to let the people see you do it, and encourage them to do the same.  Inaestimabile Donum 17 states, "The faithful are to be recommended not to omit to make a proper thanksgiving after Communion and if possible by staying behind to pray for a suitable time."

25) Ensure that First Communion is focused on the solemn reception of the Eucharist, and nothing else (not songs, skits, or any other performance or addition to the Mass not prescribed in the rubrics of the Mass).  May we not underestimate their ability to be reverent; let the children enter into the solemn occasion.

26) To promote the universal nature of the Eucharist, the mystery of His presence and to fulfill the teachings of Vatican II care should be taken to foster the role of Latin in the Liturgy, particularly in liturgical song. “Pastors should ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (Musicam Sacram 36, 54).

GIRM = General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Rules in the front of the book for Mass)
SC = Sacrocanctum Concilium (Vatican II document on the Mass)
RS = Redemptionis Sacramentum (Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship- 2004)
ID= Inaestimabile Donum (Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship- 1980)
CCL= Code of Canon Law