Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fr. George Rutler on the Resurrection, a "curious absurdity" to the pagans

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column

April 1, 2018

We know directly from Saint Paul that Greek philosophers thought the Resurrection was a curious absurdity. Politicians more pragmatically feared that it would upset the whole social order. One of the earliest Christian “apologists,” or explainers, was Saint Justin Martyr who tried to persuade the emperor Antoninus Pius that Christianity is the fulfillment of the best intuitions of classical philosophers like Socrates and Plato.

Justin was reared in an erudite pagan family in Samaria, in the land of Israel just about one lifetime from the Resurrection. Justin studied hard and accepted Christ as his Savior, probably in Ephesus, and then set up his own philosophical school in Rome to explain the sound logic of the Divine Logos. Refusing to worship the Roman gods, and threatened with torture by the Prefect Rusticus, he said: “You can kill us, but you cannot hurt us.” Then he was beheaded.

Fast forward almost exactly a thousand years, and another philosopher, Bernard of Chartres, also admired the best of the Greek philosophers and coined the phrase “We are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants.” There had been long centuries without much effort to explain the mystery of the Resurrection with luminous intelligence. In the seventeenth century, Isaac Newton would describe himself the same way. Being intellectual dwarfs may sound pessimistic, but there was also optimism in the fact that, lifted on the shoulders of giants, they could see even farther than the giants themselves. In witness to that, less than fifty years after Bernard died, building began on the great cathedral of Chartres. The magnificent rose window in the south transept depicts the evangelists as small men on the shoulders of the tall prophets. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are closer to Christ in the center of the window, than Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel who lift them up, seeing in fact what the prophets had longed for in hope.

The Risen Christ is neither a ghost nor a mere mortal. Ancient philosophies could be vague about things supernatural, and ancient cults could be distant from personal conduct. The Resurrection unites ethics and worship. The famous letter of an anonymous contemporary of Justin Martyr, meant to be read by the emperor Marcus Aurelius, said that the way Christians live “has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines.”

The Resurrection was the greatest event in history, and unlike other events that affect life in subsequent generations in different degrees by sequential cause and effect, the Resurrection is a living force for all time, making Christ present both objectively in the Sacraments, and personally in those who accept him. Thus, indifference to the Resurrection is not an option. The future life of each one of us depends on a willingness to be saved from eternal death.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Mass music: what's appropriate, what's not, and why it matters ...

My translation of H. G. Stoker's magnum opus on conscience to be released March 30th

Yesterday I was privileged to be interviewed about my translation of H. G. Stoker's book, Conscience: Phenomena and Theories, which the University of Notre Dame Press is scheduled to release in the next few days. Stoker's book is the most comprehensive and fascinating analysis of conscience that I have seen in any language and was originally written as a dissertation under Max Scheler.

I want to thank two fine men, Jonathan Frances, Marketing and Communications Manager for Sacred Heart Major Seminary for arranging the interview, and Erik Coules, regional coordinator for the Archdiocese of Detroit, for conducting the interview.

link to the book on Amazon:

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Recipe for a more profitable Holy Week

Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, March 25, 2018):
Directions for a more profitable Holy Week:

Save this page and thoughtfully read over the following quotations every day:
  • "You will all fall away because of Me this night." (Mt 26:31)
  • "Even if I must die with You, I will not deny You." (Mt 26:35)
  • "You will deny Me three times." (Mt 26:34)
  • "What will you give me if I hand Him over to you?" (Mt 26:15)
  • "I have sinned in betraying innocent Blood" (Mt 27:4)
  • "Jesus offered up prayers ... with loud cries and tears." (Heb 7:7)
  • "I thirst." (Jn 19:28)
  • "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Lk 23:34)
  • "My God, my God, why have You abandoned Me?" (Mt 27:46)
  • "When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him." (Mt 27:31)
  • "A Lamb led to the slaughter." (Is 53:7)
  • "When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself." (Jn 12:32)
  • "Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world." (Antiphon, Good Friday)
  • "Let us go to die with Him!" Jn 11:16)
  • "If we die with Christ, we shall live with Him." (2 Tim 2:11)
  • "Let a man deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me." (Mt 16:24)
  • "Where I am, there will My servant be." (Jn 12:26)
  • "God forbid that such a thing should happen to You!" (Mt 16:22)
  • "My soul is sad, even unto death." (Mt 26:38)
  • "Christ became obedient for us, even unto death, dying on a cross." (Phil 2:8)
  • "They spat on Him and struck Him." (Mt 27:30)
  • "Father, let this cup pass Me by." (Mt 26:39)
  • "The cross is foolishness to those headed for ruin." (1 Cor 1:18)
  • "Now judgment has come upon this world." (Jn 12:31)
  • "You will all leave Me." (Jn 16:32)
  • "They pierced My hands and My feet." (Ps 22:16)
  • "My one companion is darkness." (Ps 88:18)
  • "By Your blood You purchased people for God." (Rev 5:9)
  • "By Your holy cross You have redeemed the world." (Stations of the Cross)
  • "Could you not keep watch with Me one hour?" (Mt 26:26, 28)
  • "The Lamb has been sacrificed." (1 Cor 5:7)
  • "I trod the winepress alone." (Is 63:3)
  • "Golgotha -- the place of the skull." (Mt 27:33)
  • "They shouted all the more, 'Crucify Him!'" (Mk 15:13)
  • "His sweat became as great drops of blood." (Lk 22:44)
  • "They jeered at Him." (Mk 5:40)
  • "His face was so marred beyond human likeness." (Is 52:14)
  • "I offered My back to the smiters." (Is 50:61)
  • "A soldier pierced His side." (Jn 19:34)
  • "This Jesus ... whom you crucified." (Acts 3:36)
  • "I have forgotten what peace is." (Lm 3:17)
  • "He was bruised for our offenses." (Is 53:4)

Wee bit of heaven ...

The London Oratory, also called the Brompton Oratory, has a special place in my heart. Cardinal Newman, essentially a patron saint to me on my journey into the Church, figures prominently in the history of the Oratory. Beyond that, it's a magnificent place and easy to find in London. It has three world-class children's choirs, as well as at least one other adult choir; and their music is one of the most beautiful things this side of heaven. (For more on the Oratory choirs, see Alex Begin's column in the post below.)

Tridentine Community News - Veiling of Sacred Images During Passiontide; Vatican Bookstore Once Again On-Line; London Oratory Schola New Web Site and CD; Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (March 25, 2018):
March 25, 2018 – Palm Sunday

Veiling of Sacred Images During Passiontide

A traditional practice not often seen nowadays is the veiling of sacred images in a church during Passiontide, the two weeks before Easter Sunday. Passiontide is so named because the Sunday two weeks before Easter Sunday is called Passion Sunday in the Tridentine calendar, and the name persists even in Ordinary Form settings.

Statues, religious images, and crucifixes are covered with violet cloth in an effort to focus our attention on the Passion of our Lord and heighten our longing for Easter. Note that the sacred objects, even if movable, are not taken away. Even Processional Crosses continue to be used even if veiled. Crosses are uncovered during the Good Friday Service, while other religious images remain covered until the Easter Vigil.

Around metro Detroit several Polish churches [including Sweetest Heart of Mary, pictured] and certain traditional parishes follow this practice. It certainly requires a lot of cloth and either staff or volunteers to perform the veiling and unveiling. If you see a church that has some, but not all, of its images veiled, chances are they didn’t have the material, labor, or time to complete the job.

Unfortunately veiling is not possible at certain settings where it would appear appropriate, such as the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel and St. Alphonsus Church. The Oakland County Latin Mass Association and the St. Benedict Tridentine Community, respectively, are essentially renters and cannot determine standards of décor. This is another case of where rubrics must give way to practicality in our current era.

Vatican Bookstore Once Again On-Line

Several years ago, Libreria Editrice Vaticano, the Vatican bookstore, had a web site,, from which one could order most any official publication. Inexplicably, the web site was taken down. For many years the only way to order books from the Vatican Bookstore was to send in a written order, which of course dissuaded all but the most motivated buyers.

At long last a new web site has debuted to make ordering books from Rome simple once again: Most of the main books are already up there, such as the 2008 Latin Novus Ordo Altar Missal, various Gregorian Chant resources, and Latin editions of many Ordinary Form liturgical books. One glaring omission is the Enchirídion Indulgentiárum, the book of indulgenced prayers in Latin. Hopefully the gaps will be filled in, in due time, and site will be as complete a listing of products as the old used to be.

London Oratory Schola New Web Site and CD

One of the world’s most accomplished Catholic music directors is Charles Cole of the London Oratory. Not only does he lead three world-class children’s choirs at the church, but he has also mastered the art of organization and promotion of his choirs’ efforts.

One of the most visually impressive web sites you are likely to see in the Catholic world is the one Charles created for the London Oratory Schola: This particular choir consists of young men who are studying at the London Oratory School. The choir tours extensively; last October, they performed at several renowned churches in the United States. They sing a wide repertoire of Chant and Polyphony for the 6:00 PM Saturday Vigil Mass at the Oratory; their music schedule is provided on the above web site.

A reader of this column recommends the new CD put out by the schola, Sacred Treasures of England. Information about the CD and an impressive promotional video are here:

One of Charles’ other choirs, the London Oratory Junior Choir, consists of boys and girls who are not students at the parish school. They are known for singing Tuesday evening Benedictions at the Oratory and will be featured in an upcoming episode of Extraordinary Faith. More about that choir is here:

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Tue. 03/27 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Rosary Chapel at Assumption Church, Windsor (Tuesday in Holy Week) – Note special location this week only
  • Thu. 03/29 7:00 PM: High Mass at OCLMA/Academy of the Sacred Heart (Holy Thursday)
  • Fri. 03/30 1:30 PM: Chanted Service at OCLMA/Academy of the Sacred Heart (Good Friday)
  • Fri. 03/30 5:30 PM: Chanted Service at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (Good Friday)
  • Sat. 03/31 8:00 PM: High Mass at OCLMA/Academy of the Sacred Heart (Easter Vigil) – Choir will sing Missa O Quam Gloriósum by Tomás Luis de Victoria
  • Sun. 04/01: No Mass at OCLMA/Academy of the Sacred Heart
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 25, 2018. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week








Easter Sunday

* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A bit of history: Fr. Perrone, Detroit, Music

Fr. Perrone: the precious gift of God's mercy and the serious danger of "mercy abuse"

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, March 18, 2018):
My subject today concerns whether Christ might be suffering from mercy abuse -- surely an eyebrow-raising topic. We have been fortunate to have had in recent years a much trumpeted exposition of the Divine Mercy. Both in the liturgy and in devotional life, in the canonization of two saints (John Paul II and Sister Faustina), in sermons, literature, and film, the theme of Christ's inviting welcome to sinners has assumed a significant place in the Catholic Church. There must be providential reason for this. It's due, I believe, to the fact that Christians have been much adrift in an environment increasingly hostile to their faith. They have needed to know that there is a safe haven whither they can turn, confident of being able to find God securely amidst the maddening clamours of secularism. Also, Christians themselves have too often wandered off like the proverbial erring sheep into sordid byways. Affected by the moral pollution surrounding them, they have themselves succumbed to the powerful downflow of a putrid culture. Guilt resulting from having sinned grievously and committed various serious crimes (think of abortion, sodomy, divorce, cohabitation, contraception, drug addiction -- just for starters) will inevitably lead sinners, should the devil only succeed, to total despair -- sin being a real torture to the Christian when he awakens conscious of his former wickedness. Since such grave sins would spell certain spiritual death (viz. hell) for so many, Christ in His great compassion and love for souls has wished the message of His mercy to be emphatically publicized as an encouragement for them to have hope. Such, anyway, is my analysis for the urgency of the message of Divine Mercy in our time.

... with a firm purpose of amendment!

If the need for divine mercy is truly great, how is it that I question here there be such a thing as mercy "abuse"? A long time back, when attending public high school, I first heart the criticism leveled against Catholics that forgiveness for them is cheap because they have ready access to Confession -- the implication being that for other transgressors forgiveness has to be earned by heart wrenching pleading in a near desperate hope that mercy will be accorded them. At the time, it was a shock to my innocent Catholic ears to hear that Confession was considered by some to be an easy thing. I had always been taught that Confession called for serious preparation, integrity, and determination to make amendment of life.

I fear that some may be using Confession as a catharsis (mental relief), that is as a natural remedy for their guiltiness as opposed to supernatural act which remits sins and confers grace. Do some people use Confession merely to shake off guilt but don't have the firm intent never to commit sin again? The fear of a positive reply to this question is the reason for my writing. Is our Lord perhaps being abused by those appealing to His ready forgiveness while lacking a determined will never again to sin? The question is meant to be probative. Mercy abusers confess the same sins every Confession on account of the guilt feelings they have but they lack the steely intention to refuse the next opportunity temptation makes its round. Fod for thought -- thought for change.

On a different subject. Today is Passion Sunday in the traditional liturgical calendar for it inaugurates a shift in the prayers and chants, focusing them more nearly on the approaching days when our Lord will undergo His sufferings and death for our salvation. Today would be the feast of Saint Joseph but this must be deferred until tomorrow on account of the precedence of the Lenten Sunday. Don't however neglect to honor the good Saint on Monday. There is prepared a fine St. Patrick's Day Lunch after the 9:30 & noon Mass today: $8/adults, $3/children.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday -- already! -- the gateway to Holy Week. Altar boys who wish to serve the principal Palm Sunday Mass at 9:30 with the procession of palms must come to a practice in church this Saturday, March 25 at 1:00 p.m. The rehearsal should last only about an hour. Our altar boys will also have their annual retreat, beginning on Wednesday evening of Holy Week. For this they need to submit the registration forms provided for them today.

Fr. Perrone

Tridentine Community News - Pre-1955 Holy Week resources web site; New Traditional Architecture: Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart in Knoxville; The Sign of the Cross; Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (March 18, 2018):
March 18, 2018 – Passion Sunday

Pre-1955 Holy Week Resources Web Site

It’s rare that a web site combines useful content with exceptional design. In just days since the news broke that the Pontifical Commission Ecclésia Dei has granted permission ad experiméntum for three years to the Fraternity of St. Peter to celebrate the pre-1955 Holy Week, an impressive web site has appeared: This site contains Latin/English Propers handouts, rubrical information, and detailed descriptions of the pre-1955 ceremonies. It’s a one-stop place for parishes to learn how to do the old Holy Week, both informative academically and necessary considering that virtually no pre-55 resources are currently in print.

New Traditional Architecture: Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart in Knoxville

The trend of resurgence of traditional church architecture continues: The new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart was recently dedicated in Knoxville, Tennessee. Designed by McCrery Architects, who have been featured before in this column, it sports an altar under a baldacchino on which Mass can be celebrated ad oriéntem as well as versus pópulum, a Communion Rail, a respectable pulpit, and traditional sacred art adorning its dome. This cathedral clearly can accommodate both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms, and more sacred art can be added as time and budget allows.

One fascinating statistic to ponder: The total cost for the new Knoxville cathedral was $30.8 million. The cost for the ultra-modern and stark Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California was $190 million. Just what did that extra $159 million attain for souls?

The Sign of the Cross

Much has been written about the holy gesture of the Sign of the Cross. One of the simplest ways to gain a Partial Indulgence is to make the Sign of the Cross devoutly while praying “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The graphic below provides some practical suggestions for spiritually charitable opportunities to make a quick Sign of the Cross and corresponding prayer intention.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 03/19: 8:00 AM Low Mass, 12:00 Noon High Mass, 7:00 PM Solemn High Mass at St. Joseph (St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary) – Part of the annual St. Joseph Day of Prayer; detailed schedule here:
  • Tue. 03/20 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (Votive Mass for the Anniversary of the Coronation of the Pope)
  • Sat. 03/24 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Saturday of Passion Week)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 18, 2018. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week


Monday St. Joseph's Feast Day






* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Et Tu, Benedict? (Wrinkles in Time & Theology)"

Prefatory note:

Dionysius the Areopagite was a 1st century convert of St. Paul mentioned in the Book of Acts; but the man who wrote under his name in the late fifth or early sixth century and transposed the whole of pagan Neoplatonism from Plotinus to Proclus into a distinctively new Christian context is more aptly called "Pseudo-Dionysius."

Frank J. Sheed (1897-1982) was an Australian-born lawyer, Catholic writer, publisher and speaker who was married to Maisie Ward, who together with her lent his name to the famous English imprint Sheed & Ward and was a forceful speaker in the Catholic Evidence Guild; but the man who, under the name of "Frank J. Sheed," is the author of the contemporary blog from which the following article is taken should perhaps better be known as "Pseudo-Frank J. Sheed," since, like "Pseudo-Dionysius," he conceals his own identity behind a pseudonym taken from the name of someone he wishes to honor. -- Editor

Pseudo Frank J. Sheed, in "Et Tu, Benedict? (Wrinkles in Time & Theology)," introduces his subject as follows:
When you read Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, it can be a faith-rewarding exercise or a head scratcher. I, for one, am very grateful for his Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism, his book on the Infancy Narratives, his Handmaid of the Lord, and Ignatius Press’ volumes of weekly teachings as pope like A School of Prayer. Not to mention his output at the CDF, which considering the possibilities he prevented seems heroic.

But then there are other scattered books, like Principles of Catholic Theology, Introduction to Christianity, In the Beginning, and Highlights of Vatican II. These often seem ambiguous on key points, and suggest a mind conditioned by the more liberal currents of the 60s and 70s. For the conservative crowd, that’s lamentable. Which all that in mind, I was both irked and intrigued by Hilary White’s column. It follows here, and as you’ll discover, she takes no prisoners.
Indeed, there is much here "irk and intrigue" most anyone.

Yes, by all means: Caveat emptor! But by the same token, know that those who neglect acquaintance with many of the dark details here related do so at their own peril of blissful ignorance. [Disclaimer: Rules ## 7-9]

Monday, March 12, 2018

Faggioli & Longenecker on the radical disconnect between liberal academic theology and nearly everyone else in the Church

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, "Are Liberal Catholic Theologians Past Their Sell By Date?" (Fr. Dwight Longenecker, March 7th, 2018), comments on Massimo Faggioli's latest article at Commonweal. First, Faggioli honestly acknowledges that young Catholics don't care for the older, established liberal theological establishment [with the bold commentary of Guy Noir - Private Eye* in brackets]:
"[T]he estrangement between academic theology and the institutional Church is one reason many younger Catholics are now turning to neo-traditionalist circles for instruction. A new generation is re-examining what’s happened in the church since the 1960s and reacting against the theology that came out of the Second Vatican Council. Some younger Catholics are also questioning the legitimacy of the secular, pluralistic state. This is why the concerns of academic theology are no longer merely academic. [Notice that! Theology is no longer academic because it now touches on… the political! Speaks volumes about his priorities].

Those who have contact with young Catholics… have noticed that this theological anti-liberalism is not just coming from a few marginal intellectuals. Catholic anti-liberalism is part of a broader phenomenon, a new quest for Catholic identity that takes various forms. It may be expressed as an enthusiasm for the Tridentine Mass and a distaste for the Novus ordo. Or it may take the form of an interest in countercultural communities—in some version of the “Benedict Option.” But it can also take the form of a theo-political imagination that rejects liberal democracy in favor of a new Christendom. [Would he think it fair to say Catholic liberals reject ‘Church’?] Mixed in with this ideal is often a suspicion of those who come from parts of the world where Christianity is not the predominant religion. [Guffaw. Cardinal Sarah? And in Latin America Catholicism IS still predominant.]

This rise of Catholic anti-liberalism marks a regression in the ability of Catholics to understand the problem of the state and of politics in our age. [Only if you disagree with their analysis, right?] But it also says something about the state of Catholic theology, especially in America."
Faggioli then goes on to make the claim that theology can only really exist and flourish in a traditional academic setting. [Because only their can it be toyed with without regard for devotional or moral relevance].
"I believe that the fate of Catholic theology in the Western world is inseparable from the fate of academic theology. [In one way, liberal Catholicism cannot maintain any standing unless propped up by the academy and its priest culture.] In order to survive and flourish, theology needs universities, publishers, and journals. [Like America and Communio?] You can just about imagine the church surviving intellectually without academic theology, but I think it …
Longenecker remarks: "I don’t buy it. In my experience it is just as arguable that the very academic establishment the Faggioli wants to prop up is the very kiss of death of any real, creative and dynamic theology."

Guy Noir seems to concur. He comments: "All quite telling. I read once that Evangelicals are really the only ones who any longer talk theology, and that’s simply because they actually believe it. We could extend the comment to trad Catholics. Really, do you ever get the impression any of these liberals passionately believe anything at all outside of a vague moral therapeutic deism? No, because the most feel, and whittle down their doctrine to match those feelings. Liberalism and real theology are antithetical.

If anything new is to come along in theology, concludes Longenecker, it will not come from within the halls of academe, but will most likely "spring up from some home schooler, some start up online academy, a blogger who reads instead of watching TV or some hard working home grown scholar who is teaching at a classical school or slaving away teaching the great books to undergraduates."

You're right: way past sell by date. Let the younger generation discover the neglected treasures of Catholic tradition and discover that Catholic theology, like the Catholic Faith itself, can be the most beautiful adventure in the world.

[Acknowledgement: Guy Noir - Private Eye is our underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard state.]

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fr. Perrone on Virile Catholicism

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [Temporary PDF link] (Assumption Grotto News, March 11, 2018):
Being a Roman Catholic in public as well as private life takes lots of courage. A religious person ought to avoid excusing his weaknesses. Whether at work, at home, or at school, or in public, one's Catholicism ought to be engaged so that others observing would be able to say, "So-and-so is a Catholic, a religious person." Christ needs to be brought unabashedly forward as much in society as in private life because He's the sole remedy for the illnesses that plague humanity. We have been conditioned to say and believe that our religion should be kept to ourselves alone. That's wrong. The Catholic Jesus is none other than the God who created the world, made mankind in His image, and redeemed all humanity by His sacred passion. As a Catholic you believe this. Whence then comes the self-indulgence in private and the sheepish withdrawal in public of our religious convictions? Is it doubted that Christ is true?

"Christ the Lion-Hearted"

Sometimes I think our piousness may get in the way of being bold Christians because it is used as an excuse to retreat and avoid being firm and forthright Christians. The Sacred Heart of Christ, though sometimes depicted in an all too-sentimental way, is truly a suffering, virile Heart. "Christ the Lion-Hearted," I would dub Him. Like Him, we need to be warriors for truth, not belligerent and rude, nor self-imposing, but principled and unwavering in our profession of the faith and in our deeds. It takes great strength of soul to be Christians, loving, but secure expositors of Christ. "Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet" (1 Cor 15:25). We either support Christ's reign or else we inhibit it by silence, or compromise, yet more by capitulation. Our religion ought not to justify bashfulness, diffidence. Christ would be put to shame were we to withhold Him from our public life or ignore His moral law in private. The spirit of the martyrs needs to reenter the souls of men and women of our day, for Christ's sake, and for the sake of others' salvation. Let each one examine his conscience this Lent. In my private thoughts, am I a Christian? In my public life, am I an exemplary Catholic? One ought to hate a self-indulgent softness. I have a prayer I say when I put on my cassock, from Saint Paul, "Be clothed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and have no concern for the flesh in its desires" (Rm 13:14). The "flesh" there is what wants to recoil, to shrink, while Christ's 'clothing' is the courageous witness to His truth.

The notorious philosopher Nietzsche was right -- in a way -- in his claim that Judaism and Christianity make for weaklings. That's a distortion of the truth, but it's a valid indictment against those who make their religion an excuse for not being valiant and confident in faith.

Ah! the Psalms. "All my bones will say, 'Lord, who is the like to You?'" (Ps. 34:10). My "bones!" That's from Hebrew, meaning 'all my strength,' the backbone of our being. We need that kind of conviction as Christians, while hating what the Vulgate calls lubricum (Ibid. 6), that oily, slimy weakness that makes one slip and recoil from professing and doing what's right.

Some have charged that the vernacular Mass (in the so-called Ordinary form) has contributed to making Catholics effeminate, lacking virile strength of soul. (Ladies, kindly note that 'effeminate' means weakness of character and is no affront to your femininity.) The reason for that dour judgment about the "new" Mass is the evidence of the near disappearance of men from the sanctuary and the ubiquity of female lectors, altar servers, Communion distributors, ushers, greeters, parish committee members, as well as the lilting "praise music" songs, the background tinkling music, the swaying of upraised arms, the hand-holding, etc. No guts, little substance, only good feeling. With liturgies such as those an enfeebled expression of the faith and lenient softening of morals is a logical outcome.

Hate falsehood. Love truth. Practice valor and charity: Be a Christian!

Fr. Perrone

"Despondent Converts"

Thomas Howard, "Despondent Converts" (CatholiCity, March 8, 2010):
Reprinted with permission.

I receive, not infrequently, inquiries by mail from recent converts to the Church who, after a year or so as new Catholics, find themselves wondering about this and that. All of these letters are from former Evangelicals who have read themselves joyfully into the Church. With their earnest, muscular, biblically oriented background in the free churches, or in the Episcopal Church to which they had migrated because of its liturgy, at some point they had come upon such books as Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, or Karl Adam's The Spirit of Catholicism, or The Catechism of the Catholic Church, or one of the volumes from the recent flood of testimonials from erstwhile Evangelicals recounting their own itinerary to the Ancient Church.

In most cases, they have, in the course of this reading, been dazzled by the sheer serenity of the Catholic Church, derived from its immense antiquity, its undoubted apostolicity, its liturgy and sacraments, its Magisterium, and its unswerving fidelity to the Deposit of Faith over the last two millennia – often in the face of heresies, war, tyranny, and sin in the camp. The marks of their own piety hitherto have been the great marks of Reformation and Evangelical Christianity: sedulous personal study of Scripture, with its corollary of exhaustive familiarity with the whole Bible; an atmosphere of talkative friendliness and "sharing" of spiritual matters among their fellows; meaty biblical preaching on the part of the clergy; a somber distrust of the pitfalls to be found in 19th-century German historical/critical methods of Scripture scholarship; and a strong sense of "knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior" on the part of every individual. Until their entry into it, these good people understood the Church to be, quite simply, the dispersed aggregate of all individuals scattered across the globe who believe in Christ.

Any lifelong Catholic reading this will anticipate straightaway the questions such a convert finds himself entertaining: Why does no one greet me at Mass? There's not much animated Christian fellowship around here. Nobody sings the hymns – and there seems to be an impoverished fund of hymnody in any case. I'm not sure what to make of the preaching: As often as not, it doesn't sound like the fruit of studious and prayerful preparation. But most puzzling of all, the pastor seems to have identified himself with the dissenters in the Church. He appears to have espoused what Popes Pius IX and X would have called "Modernism." The homilies often seem to reflect popular notions on morals and politics championed by the New York Times, NPR, and the Washington Post.

How shall I respond to my correspondent? What would you say? What would Benedict XVI or John Paul II or Cardinal Newman say?

A start might be made by encouraging our friend to reflect on the question as to what the Catholic Church is. Certainly the ambience in a Catholic parish is different from that found in the Evangelical churches of his background. The observations are understandable; so it may be helpful for him to canvass again the reasons that moved him to make his obedience to this ancient Church in the first place. What is the Catholic Church?

It is what it claims to be. It is the Church of God's New Covenant with man, built by Jesus Christ on the foundation of the prophets and apostles. And – as was the case with Israel, who was the bearer of God's earlier Covenant with her – the Church is God's people. But it is God's people – human beings who turn out to be weak, wayward, and often untrustworthy. The Hebrews, as often as not, made a hash of things. Their very first high priest (Aaron) made them a golden calf to worship. They had wicked priests, wicked kings, unfaithful prophets, and no shortage of bad men in their midst.

But God looked on them as His Spouse, as He does on the Church. In both cases, the very thing that God Himself was bringing into being was shot through with human sinfulness and failure. God's forbearing grace was at work, century after weary century. A faithful Catholic does not throw in the sponge over the phenomenon of bad Renaissance popes, other than to deplore their evil doings: the Church, Christ's Mystical Body, does not stand or fall with the faltering fidelity of us mortals. (It is interesting to note in this connection that no pope, be he never so wicked, ever taught from Peter's chair that his simony, avarice, luxury, nepotism, and lechery were anything other than sin. He never substituted the euphemism "style of life" for the stark category "sin." Dante, a fierce Catholic, had half of his popes in hell.)

Whereas Protestantism, when discord, heresy, or scandal arises, can always split off and start a new parish or denomination, the Ancient Church has no such option. As was the case with the Hebrew Covenant, earnest and faithful men had no warrant to hive off into the wilderness and start things over if there was unfaithfulness in the camp. We recall Elijah and Hezekiah, and Simeon and Anna and Joseph and Mary: faithful Hebrews in the temple, and eventually the synagogue that fell under the power of "scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites." These faithful men and women never thought of starting up a new, pure sect.

Fortunately for us, the Church has been served by godly and faithful pontiffs for a very long time now. It is an article of faith that the Church Herself will never teach falsehood. If a given priest or bishop ever sponsors novel or unscriptural ideas in place of the Deposit of Faith, it is of course to be deprecated, and parishioners in such a parish or diocese have to try to fix their gaze on what the Catholic Church teaches. If Father X, in the name of affability, is distributing Communion to non-Catholics, or tacitly endorsing abortion, or winking at moral disorder in the parish, we know that confusion, infidelity, and disobedience are at work here. But the Catholic Church is a hierarchical Church. Only rarely might it ever fall to a layman to try, on his own authority, to set things right. He may, in a pinch of course, venture inquiries. But the Catholic's ordinary duty is fidelity to the Church and to her teaching – which is to say, of course, to Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Petrine authority in Rome.

But all of this brings us to the question as to why we go to Church in the first place. A Protestant goes for the preaching primarily, and then for the fellowship. Why, on the other hand, does a Catholic go to Church? We go to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass; to join ourselves with the ancient and apostolic Church as she joins herself to her Head and High Priest, Jesus Christ, in his eternal self-offering to the Father, which offering was made present in our history, once and for all, at Calvary, as a perfect oblation of thanksgiving, and as the propitiation for our sins.

A Catholic lives there. This is the lodestar, the anchor point of everything, the Still Point of the Turning World. All other aspects of Catholic life – private prayer, the rosary, the divine office, the sacraments, retreats, pilgrimages, and works of mercy – find their wellspring here. This has been going on for 2,000 years. Other factors – war, plague, one's own weaknesses and sins, domestic tragedy, clerical infidelity – can never dry up this fountainhead of Catholic life.

These remarks, of course, do not bring easy consolation to a confused or distressed new Catholic who finds things different from what he may have expected. But he will find that fidelity in his own prayer life, habitual participation at Mass, and an attitude of self-effacing expectation will draw him gradually into the ancient company of Simeon and Anna, and Bede, and Brother Lawrence, and Francis de Sales, and all men and women who have made up the body of the faithful from the beginning.

Thomas Howard is retired from 40 years of teaching English in private schools, college, and seminary in England and America.

© 1996-2018 The Mary Foundation · 501(c)3
Thomas Howard, Evangelical Is Not Enough (1988)
_______________, Lead, Lindly Light: My Journey to Rome (2004)
_______________, On Being Catholic (1997)
_______________, Chance or the Dance? A Critique of Modern Secularism (1969, 2018)
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Tridentine Community News - First Permission Granted for Pre-1955 Holy Week; Bloomfield Chant Tools App Arguably Obsoletes the Rossini Propers; Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (March 11, 2018):
March 11, 2018 – Fourth Sunday of Lent – Lætáre Sunday

First Permission Granted for Pre-1955 Holy Week

One of the most hotly debated subjects among traditional liturgy fans is use of the pre-1955 Holy Week. Fans of the old Holy Week prefer its more cohesive liturgies, despite the unusualness (to modern sensibilities) of the Easter Vigil typically being held on Saturday morning.

For many years, several churches globally, including some diocesan parishes and churches administered by the Institute of Christ the King, have offered some or all of the Holy Week liturgies according to the pre-1955 form, without having obtained any permission from the Vatican. This is ill-advised; traditional Catholics cannot flaunt the rubrics of the Church, lest it put them in the same basket as liturgical abusers encountered at certain Ordinary Form Masses.

Fortunately a solution is at hand: The February 18, 2018 bulletin of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Littleton, Colorado announced that the Pontifical Commission Ecclésia Dei has granted several parishes of the FSSP permission to use the pre-1955 Holy Week, provided that each parish also secures permission from the FSSP Superior. This is the first time that the PCED has ever allowed the old Holy Week to be used. The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales learned that the permission has been granted ad experiméntum, for three years, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Now those parishes that wish to offer the old Holy Week can follow the precedent established by the FSSP and request permission of the Holy See to do so.

It was only within the last few years that this writer recalls the Ecclésia Dei Commission stating that it did not have the authority to permit use of the old Holy Week, since its charter was to oversee the 1962 liturgy, not any earlier version. This new ruling clearly reverses the earlier determination.

A thorough comparison of the pre- and post-1955 Holy Week may be read here:

Bloomfield Chant Tools App Arguably Obsoletes the Rossini Propers

Previous columns have described Rossini’s Proper of the Mass book, which sets the Gregorian Propers of the Mass to simpler Psalm Tones; and the Android and iOS “Chant Tools” app written by Benjamin Bloomfield, son of Deacon Richard and Debbie Bloomfield. Readers may recall that a pilgrim showed the Chant Tools app to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Recently our local choir director extraordinaire (in both senses of the word), Wassim Sarweh, noticed that Benjamin’s upgrades to Chant Tools have provided a resource that has made the Rossini Propers effectively obsolete.

No longer just a mobile app, Chant Tools now runs from a web site, too: It now provides the incredible functionality of printing the entire Chant Propers and Ordinary [from the Aspérges to the Kyrie on down], menu-driven, on a single, comprehensive set of pages. Everything a choir would need for a Gregorian Chant Mass can be printed quickly and conveniently on one print run.

If you like Rossini’s Psalm Tone Propers, just specify the Feast Day you want [yes, most if not all of the liturgical year is selectable], with the “Psalm Toned” option for the Introit, Gradual, Offertory, et al. You will be provided with the text of the Propers and accompanying Chant notation. How is this better than Rossini? Rossini has the text of the Propers for many weeks’ Feast Days on one page, sometimes far beneath the notes, making it difficult to match the words with the notes at the top of the page.

This is a clear example of modern technology working for the benefit of the Church. Well done, Benjamin!

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Tue. 03/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent)
  • Sat. 03/17 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 11, 2018. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Fr. Z's amusing rant about the "choo-choo kiddie Mass"

It's about much more than the title suggests: "Communion in the hand. Wherein Fr. Z rants and provokes" (Fr. Z's Blog, March 10, 2018). Amusing, as almost always.

"The Corporate War on Free Speech"

G. K. Chesterton once said "The problem with capitalism is too few capitalists," thereby pointing out that not only socialism but capitalism could be oppressive if unconstrained by the moral respect for the individual, the family, and what Pius IX called the Principle of Subsidiarity. In his book, The Church and the Libertarian, Christopher A. Ferrara also points out that it is not only big government, but a triumvirate of big government, big business, and big finance that serves to create a "market-driven" political economy where the the Church has no business intruding with its moral imperatives. The other side of that equation is that the "free marketplace" of business and finance isn't a value-free "naked public square," to borrow the phrase of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, but a place now straightjacketed with the "politically correct" values of the left. Ryszard Legutko argues this in his masterful book, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies (2016). And now Jim Goad argues, in "The Corporate War on Free Speech" (Taki's Magazine, March 5, 2018), that it is not only government-sponsored PC censorship that threatens the free marketplace of ideas, but, even more, the private sector's corporations that have taken up the left's ideological war on the traditional ideals of freedom of thought and free speech in the public forum. And when "Political Correctness Goes to the Vatican" (The Philosophical Salon and the Los Angeles Review of Books, December 25, 2017), one wonders what traditional institutions remain to oppose the totalitarian grip of leftist ideology and its dream of jackboot repression of all opposition.

Friday, March 09, 2018

"A Letter to a Seminarian thinking of leaving the Seminary -- from his Parish Priest"

[Disclaimer: See Rules ##7-9]

Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, "A Letter to a Seminarian thinking of leaving the Seminary -- from his Parish Priest" (Rorate Caeli, March 5, 2018)

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week








* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Tridentine Community News - Evangelizing with a Catholic vocabulary; Tridentine Masses this coming week

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (March 4, 2018):
March 4, 2018 – Third Sunday of Lent

Evangelizing with a Catholic Vocabulary

Catholic social media over the past few weeks has been awash with heretical and pushing-the-boundaries statements of progressive theologians, journalists, priests, and bishops. At face value, it can seem as though the Church were turning in an official new direction. Indeed, certain individuals have become famous for spouting what would have been roundly condemned by Church authorities just a few years ago. Many in the upper echelons of the Church are now silent in the face of this relatively small handful of outspoken, high-profile individuals. It’s enough to get one depressed, except ...

The scenario is all too reminiscent of something that happened to this writer in the secular world. Allow a personal note: For decades, I used to be in the business of selling small computer mainframe systems and software. These were reliable, proven systems, but with text-based, admittedly boring-looking screens. A significant portion of my competition was flashy, Windows-based systems with visually appealing screens. The salespeople for those systems had embraced a term designed to denigrate my offerings: they called them “legacy systems,” a backhanded way to maintain that they were outdated, old-looking, obsolete technology.

What my competitors failed to tell the potential customers was that their systems were pretty, all right, but their feature list was a small fraction of my offerings. Yes, my legacy systems in fact did a whole lot more than their relative quickly cobbled-together systems did, because mine had had many more years to have much more functionality and reliability built into them, thanks to the feedback of our customers [an analogy to Ordinary vs. Extraordinary Form is tempting]. So how to communicate this succinctly to the prospects? We needed our own vocabulary to counter the competition’s, and so we came up with our own term: The others were pushing “bimbo systems”: pretty, but they didn’t do a whole lot! And beware, what is considered attractive today may itself be considered “legacy” in a few years when standards change.

And so it is when traditionally-inclined Catholics are called rigid, clinging-to-the-past, out-of-touch, and whatever belittling term du jour is cast our way. We might benefit from developing our own term akin to the overused “hater”, which is often applied to anyone with sincerely held convictions. It would be useful to have a term which pejoratively refers to those too eager to embrace modern causes often juxtaposed to immemorial Church teachings. Something like, “she’s an amour”, meaning a person all too willing to swoon over the latest theological guru or fad.

Of course, we have a higher calling than battling with words. Evangelizing, or more specifically reaching out to those seeking a spiritual home, is more successfully done with love, with enthusiasm, with the carrot rather than the stick. We traditional Catholics really do have the advantage here: We can evangelize with beauty. Traditional sacred art, architecture, liturgy, and music can speak to the soul in ways that bland modern theology and liturgy cannot. Modernists appeal to the emotion and the desire to be free of restrictions. Little of what they are pushing will save the soul, and to their credit, rarely if ever do they maintain it will.

Their day-to-day vocabulary can make one shudder. Even if some of these terms did not originally have a modern connotation, when used in the context of progressive Catholic talk, there is no mistaking the orientation of the person or institution using them:
Narthex or vestibule vs. Gathering Space
Altar vs. Table of the Lord
Holy Communion vs. Eucharist
Congregation vs. Assembly
Pulpit vs. Ambo
Mass vs. Liturgy
Confession vs. Reconciliation
Extreme Unction vs. Sacrament of the Sick
“Legacy Catholics”, too, should make use of expressions that convey our mindset. Consider working traditional Catholic terminology into your own conversations. Use terms such as:
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Ghost
Sacred Body
Precious Blood
Deo grátias

We’ll be better off taking the energy we put into reading and commenting about or to the high-profile heretics of the day into gently and steadily promoting all that we love, the full and undiluted Roman Catholic faith. For each dissenting Catholic that chooses to follow those celebrities of the moment, we should be able to attract at least as many sincere souls to the Truth.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Tue. 03/05 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent)
  • Sat. 03/10 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Saturday in the Third Week of Lent)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 4, 2018. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week








* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.