Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A response to Chris Stefanick on the Latin Mass

I'm only posting this here because Twitter doesn't allow for nuance, and I want to use nuance.

Here was Chris's tweet yesterday

As a priest who says the TLM occasionally (as Chris goes occasionally) a few things:

1) I agree wholeheartedly that, in one sense of the phrase, "the Latin Mass isn't the answer to the crisis".  I've spoken elsewhere about the book that I read on my retreat called Sacrilege, and how the author I think expertly points to and unpacks about THIRTY FIVE problems that lead to 2002 and 2018.  And even moving beyond the abuse crisis to what I think is the larger crisis of Faith that Chris is referencing, I agree that in both cases NO ONE THING is THE answer.

2) I also would add here that I don't know many Latin Mass people that think that if we just went back to the Latin Mass, we wouldn't be in a crisis of Faith.  There are certainly some, but most TLM'ers that I know recognize there are TONS of things that we need to keep emphasizing in order to restore the Church (insert a more theologically correct word for "restore" if that word doesn't work for you...most people know what we mean by that).

3)  My only "critique" of the tweet would be that I think we can say that the Mass IS PART OF the Kerygma - the Mass does PREACH Christ, and I think we can also say, fairly comfortably, that the preaching that the Mass does can be more or less effective, depending on how it is celebrated, and I know Chris would agree with that. 

So in one sense of the tweet, I'm on board.  There are 50-100 categories (or more) of things that need tweeked/addressed/worked on in the Church.  One of those is the way Mass is celebrated.  And most TLM people that I know of prefer the TLM because they know there is almost a zero percent chance of being forced to encounter banal (and worse) celebrations of the Mass in our current day if they attend a Traditional Latin Mass.  And those same people see lots of other things that need addressed in the Church.

"Lex orandi, legem credendi" - the law of how we worship governs what we believe

Sisters of Life Magazine on Eastern "meditation"

Very thankful for this graphic on how Eastern forms of "meditation" are not the same thing as Catholic prayer, and why the difference REALLY matters! 

Monday, December 30, 2019

My Friends

Thankful for this group of friends I've known since high school (some since 4th grade!).  We got together for Christmas (a few wives couldn't make it with sick children), and I laughed for 5 straight hours.

I pray that every priest has a great group of lay friends like this who knew him "way back when"

Possible Nativity Scene

I'm thinking of setting up my Nativity scene at one of my parishes this way next year.  Thoughts?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Families need REAL forgiveness to survive, not false forgiveness

A couple of things to follow up with - St. Paul to the Ephesians 4:26 says "be angry, but do not sin". The Catechism talks in 1767-1770 about how anger is a PASSION, and how the passions are neither good outright nor evil outright, it depends on how they are directed and what they are directed at. So justice and charity REQUIRE that I be angry about a priest committing a crime against a child, and, hopefully even more obvious, if I knew about, my anger should direct me to intervene in accordance with the law. Both Saint Paul and the Catechism make it CRYSTAL clear that anger towards evil and injustice is necessary and virtuous and required. Every Catholic word, including "anger" has lots of nuance. 

Also, I found a helpful article from Jimmy Akin, and he points toward an encyclical from St. John Paul II called Dives Misericordia, where we read: "the requirement of forgiveness does not cancel out the objective requirements of justice...in no passage of the Gospel message does forgiveness mean indulgence toward evil, toward scandals, toward injury or insult. In any case, reparation for evil and scandal, compensation for injury, and satisfaction for insult are conditions for forgiveness"

Friday, December 27, 2019

My Favorite Books and Movies of 2019

I don't normally do this, but this year I actually feel like I read enough this year to offer some suggestions for others.  I came across some books, films and TV shows this year.  Here's the best I encountered.

1) "Sacrilege" by Leon Podles.  This is a 500+ page deep dive on the sex and rape crisis in the Catholic Church.  Podles wrote this book in 2008, and almost all of his observations are still relevant amidst the latest round of revelations of awful crimes.  Podles pulls no punches, and it does not curry favor with "trads" nor "liberals" which is perhaps why I had not heard of it; no one who has picked a side will like this book, but only those wanting to address the issues in the Church. 

2) "Primal Screams" by Mary Eberstadt.  A quick and engrossing but thoroughly researched book on the identity crisis that is front and center in our society.  Eberstadt powerfully and convincingly traces this 2019 moment of gender and identity confusion to the sexual revolution.  Charitable towards all caught up in these issues, it provides key insights, and her writing style, as always, does not waste one word.

3) "The Priests We Need to Save the Church" by Kevin Wells.  A former sportswriter, Kevin, for reasons that become apparent in the first VERY POWERFUL chapter, decided to try to interview as many priests and laity to look at how the Church could possibly move forward into the 2020's, and his prescriptions seem to be spot on.  We said, in 2018, that the laity in some ways will have to lead the Church through this moment - and this is a VERY solid offering of precisely that.

4) "The Priest in Union with Christ" by Father Garrigou-LaGrange O.P. - written in 1952 by one of the great English scholars of St. Thomas Aquinas, I wanted to take some time to reflect and pray over advice on how to be a priest of Jesus Christ from sources not tainted by our current moment.  Fr. LaGrange is such a treasure of the Church.  It has very theological reflections followed up by super practical chapters like "how to give a parish mission"

5) "The Night is Far Spent" by my favorite author, Thomas Howard.  This is a collection of essays from a wonderfully charitable and insightful convert to the Catholic Faith.  Each essay is fairly short, and covers all sorts of topics.  I found each essay to be very helpful to me while also being an engaging read that I did not want to put down. 

6) "Catholic Republic" by Timothy Gordon.  The premise is a unique and important contribution to the debate over America's founding and our country's relationship with Christianity.  Gordon makes the convincing case that the country was founded using Catholic ideas, but the fathers were mostly protestant, so the Catholic roots of our country are not acknowledged, even up through our own day. 

7) "Island of the World" by Michael O'Brien.  I also read Father Elijah, which was good, but I really enjoyed Island of the World more.  O'Brien tells a story based on the real life experience of a young man who spends most of his life torn by war and violence in the Balkans and, in the latter stages of his life, makes his way to the United States. 

8) "The Silver Chalice" by Thomas Costain.  I searched some lists for "best Catholic novels" about two years ago, and this was at the top of some lists, although I had never heard of it.  I purchased it, but just got around to reading it this year.  It was written in 1952, and is a wonderful novel based on the Holy Grail and the early Church, and Her enemies.

9) "Windswept House" - I know all the criticisms of Malachi Martin, former priest...exorcist who kept doing exorcisms after he left the priesthood...opportunist...etc...but "Windswept House" is a novel written in 1996, but so much of what is in that novel has actually come to pass in various ways.  I had originally tried to read it several years ago, but there is a violent crime perpetrated on a child by church men that I put it down.  I picked it back up again, though, when the summer of shame broke in 2018.  I finished the novel in 2019 and, although the writing is not as engrossing as the great works of literature, it is worth reading just to try to grapple with how Martin could have seen all of this coming in such exact detail. 

10) "The Master of Hestviken" - by Sigrid Undset.  A set of 4 short books that make up 1 novel by one of the more fascinating literary Catholics of the 20th century.  A convert from atheism, Undset's novel "Kristin Lavransdatter" (also at the top of many "best Catholic novels" lists) was a book I read in 2018, and one that I also HUGELY recommend.  "Kristin" follows the life of a 1500's Norwegian Catholic girl all the way through her elderly years and is a beautiful insight into motherhood and Faith.  "Master of Hestviken" takes the same approach by following a young Catholic man all the way through his elder years.  Just as "Kristin Lavransdatter" makes you feel like you can begin to know motherhood, so "Master of Hestviken" sheds much light on the mysteriousness of what it means to try (and both fail and succeed) to be a father.

11) "The End of the Present World" by Father Charles Arminjon.  Sophia Press got me to buy this book simply by sharing a quote from St. Therese: "Reading this book was one of the greatest graces of my life."


1) "Richard Jewell" - a powerful portrayal of the ability of today's media and civil authorities to absolutely crush and destroy people, much like Alduous Huxley saw coming in is fictional "Brave New World" decades ago. 

2) "I, Tonya" - this movie based on the true story of Tonya Harding, is a real window into life in rural America.  This film puts real-life context to Hillary Clinton's "bunch of deplorables" comment and the much-discussed "Hillbilly Elegy".  The movie is riddled with profanity, but that's life in rural America.  Ministering as a priest in some areas that are more economically depressed and still awaiting the benefits of globalism to trickle down to us, "I, Tonya" is a true portrayal of what life is like for countless Americans, and could help soften people's criticism and help those who aren't familiar with life in rural America to perhaps be more sympathetic and proactive in working to help those who live in EVERY part of America.

3) "Unplanned" the real-life story of Abby Johnson.  One of Planned Parenthood's leaders defects after seeing an actual abortion in the room. 

4) I also saw several TV series that were really well done: "The People vs. OJ Simpson", and "Manhunt: The Unabomber".  I don't think either were made in 2019, but I saw both of them then.  A product of being a dinosaur who still sees most of my movies and TV shows by renting them from "Family Video"!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Suffering during the Christmas Season

A sermon I gave this Christmas Eve morning - "Mourning Has Broken: suffering during the Christmas Season."

You might know someone this would help. 

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Angels and Demons and Christmas

Angels and Christmas –
Annunciation: Mary, you’re pregnant
Joseph take Mary
Angels singing Glory to God in the highest
Joseph flee
Wisemen don’t go back to Herod

About 80% of Americans believe in Angels – which surprises me

Our Catholic Faith on angels

Watch out for Popular devotion to the Holy Angels, which is legitimate and good, can, however, also give rise to possible deviations:  when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral commitment,  humility and prayer;

Catechism 330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.

All angelic beings have a purpose and perform different functions. there are nine choirs of angels organized in a heavenly hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Virtues Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones mediate upon the Person, Wisdom, and Judgment of God. The Dominions, Powers, and Virtues govern the forces of nature and the Universe as a whole. Finally, Principalities are guardians of nations and cities, Archangels are guardians of special people, and Angels are guardians and messengers to us all.

Guardian angels?  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 336:  “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

What does Jesus mean when he says these angels “always behold” the face of the Father?  It may mean that they are constantly standing in his presence in heaven and able to communicate the needs of their charges to him.

CDF: Devotion to the Holy Angels gives rise to a certain form of the Christian life which is characterized by:

1) devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of great sanctity and dignity at the service of man;

2) an attitude of devotion deriving from the knowledge of living constantly in the presence of the Holy Angels of God;

3) serenity and confidence in facing difficult situations, since the Lord guides and protects the faithful in the way of justice through the ministry of His Holy Angels.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The wolf will be a guest of the lamb


Dear friends, this week it was discovered that I have had a pretty serious stroke.  Serious in that the part of my brain that has been affected was fairly large.  Through the Grace of God, however, I have had zero noticeable effects of this stroke.

I spent 4 days in the wonderful care of doctors and nurses at St. Francis Hospital as they tried to figure out why the stroke happened.  Despite their diligent work, they could not locate the source of the stroke. 

They have referred me on to the Mayo Clinic, where I will visit in a few weeks.  The Mayo Clinic specializes in cases like mine that defy the normal battery of tests and procedures.

I know that before, during, and after (and always) that there are lots of people praying for me and for their priests.  I appreciate that, and ask for your continued prayers.

I am very much at peace, and have been given medication to ensure that until I can get further diagnosed, I will not have another stroke.

I have been given the green light to carry on with my priestly ministry as normal with the encouragement from the doctor to take it easy. 

Thanks again for your ongoing prayers.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Strengths and Weaknesses of NCYC 2019


1 – There were zero talks on what I would consider the top 5 threats to the Catholic Faith of teenagers.  Nothing on:
a. How science and Catholicism are compatible
b. Catholicism and homosexuality
c. Catholicism and transgender issues
d. How to respond to the new atheists (nor was there anything on how to respond to the old atheists)
e. Catholicism and same-sex marriage

I have no idea why the top 5 threats our Catholic teens were not addressed head on.  They may have been mentioned at some point in some break out session, but you would have no way of knowing.  Those 5 topics need to be the TITLES of talks.

2 – Intentionality.  Every conference needs to welcome in people at the beginning and recognize where they are, but then there needs to be an intentional plan to help them MOVE to a new place, closer to the Lord.  I did not feel like NCYC did that.  At some point there needs to be an intentional ….”we’ve talked about the ways in which we are hurting and broken…and so now we are all moving towards confession…this is what confession is…we now have an opportunity to do that…and then this is Jesus in the Eucharist and adoration…this is the fulfillment”

It just seems like all weekend there are confessions available without intentionality and then there’s adoration but it isn’t a moving the group, together, through those stages nor through catechesis.  I’m not blaming Mark Hart’s talk on adoration because it was PHENOMENAL…I just mean I’d like to see an intentional and catechetical movement that everyone knows about and is working on.

3 – Our young people need to see liturgies (Mass, liturgy of the hours, and adoration) that are the liturgical rites of the Church, and not amended.  There is a humility in submitting to the liturgical texts and rites of the Church. 

4 – a lack of silence in adoration.  The group adoration in Lucas Oil stadium had really loud music playing almost completely throughout adoration, and I think there was literally about 90 seconds of silence.  Imagine how powerful it would be for our young people to be in a place where 18,000 people were all together in silence.

And you don’t need noise to cover over confessions.  Priests know how to do confessions quietly, or you could also move confessions out into the concourse.

I’m sure some will accuse me of bemoaning all of his lack of silence to my young people, but I literally made a commitment to not say a word or make weird faces or in any way express my discomfort with the lack of silence, but as my kids walked out of adoration, they expressed to me an exasperation with how adoration went. 

Also with regard to silence, I went to the adoration chapel set up in the convention center.  The following things interrupted it.  I was never able to have more than 10 minutes of silence in the chapel despite trying numerous times.
1 – adoration ended so that there could be a teaching Mass
2 – a religious order giving a talk while Christ was exposed, and then proceeding to invite everyone forward to be blessed by an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.
3 – A priest giving his vocation story while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed
4 – my young people wanted to go to the chapel so we did, and there was a reflection/homily being given
5 – after that, my young people were hoping for silence, but an organist started in with music and asked everyone to join him in the songs

Young people want and can handle silence, and those who haven’t experienced it will be moved by it when they experience it.  We don’t have to keep the young people moving/talking/singing…let them spend time in silence with the Lord, particularly as our world gets louder, more frantic, and more under the iron grip of the dictatorship of noise. 

Have an adoration chapel where only adoration takes place.  Do all the other prayer/music/Masses/blessings/witness talks somewhere else.

5 - You have tons of seminarians at the conference.  Let them serve the liturgies.  They are contemplating giving their lives to the Church...why not hold them up and let them do what they have received tons more training for?


1 – I bring my young people to NCYC mainly to see thousands of other young Catholics who are willing to give Jesus Christ and His Church a try, and many who are living it vibrantly.  My young adults go to 7 different public high schools, and most of them have only 1 or 2 other Catholics in their entire school.  NCYC is a 45 minute drive to show them thousands of other Catholic teens.

2 – Every single speaker that we heard was absolutely amazing.  The keynote speakers of Immaculee Ilibagiza, Mark Hart and Sister Bethany Madonna were mind-blowingly great.  Our breakout presentations that we attended were also very much loved by our group.

3 – There was a nice emphasis on chant and beautiful liturgical music.  I know my group appreciated that very much.

4 – I loved the lectio divina modeling that took place.  That was a great idea!

Monday, December 2, 2019

same-sex marriage and Catholicism

Same-sex marriage is THE issue that finishes off whatever vestiges of Catholicism were still lingering in lukewarm Catholics.

“I’ll do the “no meat on Lenten Fridays” thing, but if you’re saying my sister/friend/cousin can’t receive Communion if they marry whomever they want, I’m out!”

Sunday, December 1, 2019

We worship a God who "waits"...

so we should be people who "wait" as well

The point: we worship a God who waits, so we should be people who wait.  

1)     God waits and does not come as Jesus Christ.  He waits for thousands of years of the Old Testament, through awful leaders, horrible sins, giant failures of His people, horrible persecutions and famines, God waited.  Of course it is not an inactive waiting, God was very much at work in both holding everything in existence allowing everything to exist, active through an infinite number of interventions, most that we won’t know about until the end of time…but God did not yet come as Jesus Christ until, as the Bible puts it, the world arrived at the fullness of time.

2)     God also waits in that He has not come back to wrap the world up yet.  Through horrible persecutions, great sufferings, awful wars, horrible sins etc. the curtain still remains up on the world…the world continues and God waits for the fullness of time.  Of course God doesn’t sit on the sidelines, it is not an inactive waiting, God was very much at work in both holding everything in existence allowing everything to exist, active through an infinite number of interventions, most that we won’t know about until the end of time, but God has not returned.

We worship a God who waits, so we should be people who wait

Waiting seems terrible.  No one else makes us wait – everyone responds instantly – Kroger usually opens a new checkout line if the person in front of you has too many groceries, Amazon will deliver your package today…But God waits, and in this season of Advent in a special way, the Church asks you and I to wait.

A couple of things about this waiting:

1)     Is it an inactive waiting?  No!!!  Jesus says in the Gospel today “Stay awake”…the readings urge us to vigilance…and that is the type of waiting we are called to…the type of waiting that God does – a vigilance and an alertness to every single thing that is happening, action and intervention when needed, and so the same for you and I.  We wait, but we are alert, and we are still acting. 

2)     This “waiting” to me is best lived in prayer.   When we pray, it is the waiting of God
a.      It is not the waiting to get in to see a doctor
b.      Our contemplative prayer in Advent (and always) is a sitting WITH the doctor…the waiting with Him in prayer is what heals us and refines us

We worship a God who actively, alertly, lovingly and vigilantly waits.  This Advent, let us be people who also actively, alertly, lovingly and vigilantly wait as well!

Sunday shopping, sports, restaurants, etc.

I will never shop on Sunday, and have tried to cut out Sunday restaurants (once or twice in the past 5 years) - I am hoping to never do it again.

I'm not sure where these exceptions came in paragraph 2187 of the Catechism of things allowed to happen on Sundays.

I am also in favor of getting rid of CYO sports on Sunday.

So I'm not sure how either "sports or restaurants" DON'T make unnecessary demands on others.

"I don't want to make any unnecessary demands on you, but I need someone to ref my kids soccer game, and someone has to make me a sandwich"?????

I'm not debating the Catechism, I just share all this as the fruit of some research and thinking over the years on this subject, along with sharing this quote from the Catechism as well.  What are your thoughts?  Why do you think the Catechism includes sports and restaurants as things that are necessary?  Is it the inclusion of something unique to a particular culture?

Perpetual Adoration and the fallen away Catholics

Fixing the public school system

How to fix the public school system: teach philosophy. Philosophy can be taught in a completely "secular" way according to even the strictest understanding of that term.

It would also greatly help our Catholic schools as well.

Start in about 4th or 5th grade. One class a year on the history of thought and thinking. Most kids sit around asking the serious questions of life around 3rd-4th-5th grade anyways, and most of them don't know that their questions are the same questions that many great thinkers have been writing about and working on (and even "asnwering") for millennia.

When I was in the seminary learning philosophy, I regularly thought:
1) This is AMAZING!
2) These were the same questions I was thinking through and wrestling with since 3rd grade.

"Rethinking" Catholicism

‪“If the Church was not directly instituted by Christ, then it has to be rethought ceaselessly, reorganized according to rational schemes answering the needs of the moment”‬

‪Cardinal Robert Sarah‬
‪“The Day is Now Far Spent”‬

Christ as coach and teacher


The candles are lit.  The linens are fresh.  The chalice is prepared.  Everything is ready for Thanksgiving ad orientem!

A statement from my Dad on Roncalli

Given the recent situation that has made the rounds concerning Roncalli High School, I wanted to share this message from my Dad.  Prayers for all involved!

Read the message by clicking here: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1101402553986&ca=85d34caa-71f4-4782-8d43-85100d14ce77&fbclid=IwAR275hvNVknOD7pYGBl7SmIt712dWFMysawKHlBZv2Oqnr3QSN5OZ_Kh2oY