Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

March for Life – With Our Bishop!

January 26th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris


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Open House at St. John Bosco Schools / Chesterton Academy – Thurs, 1/29 @7PM

January 25th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson


Dear Families and Friends of SJBS-CAR,

Open House will be held Thursday, January 29
Program begins at 7 PM in the gym

All current families and interested families are welcome!

View the flyer by clicking here.

I recently read the newsletter of my local public school in which the superintendent denounced the government mandated direction of public eduction with more testing, more teaching to tests, more regulations, and more government intrusion into the schools. He didn’t say it, but I induce that all of this “more” means less time for goodness, beauty, and truth. We are very fortunate to have an alternative here in the Rochester area with SJBS-CA. Obviously homeschooling is another good alternative for many families, but I believe having a school is the ideal. How many people know about this treasure? Help spread the news.


In Search of a Lenten Journey

January 24th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

So, here I am – a Catholic, looking forward (almost) to yet another Lenten journey, wondering how to best enrich my deepening in faith, intensify repentance.  It seemed rather logical to look first at the potential of local offerings.   I started with “Centers” and the programs they are offering,  and the Mercy Spirituality Center is as far as I got.

I hope others might respond in a comment about meaningful experiences that are going to be available locally during Lent, maybe in some parishes?  Meanwhile, I can clarify what doesn’t interest me, because I can’t see how most of the offerings below will increase my “spirituality,” let alone lead me to better know and practice the Catholic Faith, or learn to evangelize others a little bit.

An Altar in the World

This 5-session ($25/session plus book) uses the writing of former Episcopalian preacher, Barbara Brown Taylor.  Her book begins: “Welcome to your own priesthood, practiced at the altar of your own life.”  Oh.  That doesn’t leave much to the imagination!  Nor does it sound like it will help me decrease, so Christ can increase in my life.  A reviewer of her book says “One of her goals is to abolish the distinctions we make between church and world, sacred and secular, spirit and flesh, body and soul.”  Oh. Oh.  In a world religions class which she teaches, apparently the word “God” is interspersed with a “semantic range of synonyms”  like “the Real, the Really Real, the Sacred, the Holy, and the divine More,” from the Buddhist 8-fold path to the Muslim notion of pilgrimage, to the Sufi mystic poet Rumi.  More ‘Oh’.  I pass.

Centering Prayer

There are some offerings in “Centering Prayer,” with a lot of silence, “contemplative sittings” and optional massage.  I’m having a hard time seeing that strategy and the $40 (plus more for the massage) as fitting the “Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving” of Lent.  I’ll pass.

Into the Desert:  A Lenten Journey

Aaah!  Here’s one that sounded like it fit a Lenten Journey,” and for just a free will offering.  Oh, it’s a “liturgy.”  A one-hour liturgy, promising to deliver participation in “prayer and song, fostering an experience of the love of God with an awareness of brokenness, sinfulness, and the need for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and healing.”  WOW!  That’s a lot for an hour.  That’s a lot for a liturgy that is not Mass or Confession.  Guess not.  Nice title though.  Even without the massage.

Psycho-Spiritual Dynamics

In this 6-hour workshop (bring your own lunch and $35) “Participants will be invited to look inwardly and reflect on what they discover as a basis for deep awareness for spiritual and psychological growth, …  comparing and distinguishing between “Depression, Desolation, Dark Night.” Ouch.  The wrap up states: “The workshop will provide useful information to … people who guide others on their spiritual journey; e.g. Prayer Guides, Spiritual Directors, Parish Staff.” Oh, well I’m not in any of those categories, not meant for me.

Let’s Get Down to Earth

A description of this $10, two hour session reads: “Mother Earth is our home, our friend, our food.  We are totally dependent on her.”  Whoops right there – I’m totally dependent on God!  Not on an earth-mother.  This will be a presentation and discussion on “what is being done to heal and to help the planet and what is being done that wounds and wastes.”  And guess who is the new authority to be cited on the environment, but I think not infallibly?  Pope Francis, regarding the relationship of “environmental concerns to the quest for greater wealth.”  I am thinking global warming, recycling, serving the created.  Nope.  I’m looking for something more about the Creator!

All Great Spirituality is about Letting Go

“Participants will place drops of colored inks on photographic paper and watch as beautiful, vibrant images and patterns emerge.”   For 3 hours.  For $30.  For real?  Yes.

Exploring the Enneagram Triads

The enneagram stuff has been hanging around in the DoR for a long time; pops up in various parishes from time to time.  How sad to see it is still alive and kicking.  Most of us don’t categorize people into nine types, figuring out how to manipulate others and avoid being manipulated ourselves.  (Google ‘enneagram’.)  This is a 4-week series “on the Triads, exploring issues related to the Instinctive, Feeling, and Thinking Centers, the Harmonic Groups (coping strategies when we don’t get what we want) and the Hornevian Groups (strategies for getting needs met.)”  Oh, my.  What a fascinating approach to personal surrender and self-sacrifice as a Lenten motif.  I’m afraid I’d have to confess spending my Lent this way, and $100.  No way.

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown

This is yet another book discussion organized around the writings of a woman pastor (this one in Western Michigan), co-pastoring with her husband, and a fan of labyrinths and a few other new-age practices.  Her book is fiction; but the facilitators state they are “both experienced prayer guides and spiritual directors [who] will facilitate weekly discussion, give you daily readings, reflections and activities and teach you some of the tools….”  for $100 over 4 sessions,  plus $16 for the book.  Another non-starter for me, for my objectives and for my wallet.


But the real cost of doing any of this, IMO, is the more serious soul work of Lent which wouldn’t get done if I took this direction.  I’ll look for some real spiritual reading from among 20 centuries of saints, some real liturgy in the Mass, some Sacred Words from Scripture, some diminishing of my self-importance by seeking absolution and doing penance.   I don’t think I  need this kind of non-Catholic, or fictional, or new age stuff to find God.  I just know He is looking for me.


Guest Post: Dr. Michael Aiello re: Euthanasia

January 23rd, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

On January 19, 2015, LifeSiteNews reported a story from the that a woman had been euthanized by lethal injection due to the ringing in her ears (“severe tinnitus.”)  Staff at invited Dr. Michael Aiello, Past President of the Rochester, NY Catholic Physician’s Guild and Past President of the Catholic Medical Association, to write a Guest Post on the occasion of this horrific euthanasia.  With 42 years of abortion gone by, euthanasia is one issue in which Catholics should be out front today, teaching the value of life.   

Dr. Aiello wrote:

“A special clinic in The Netherlands, established to help people to kill themselves, when their own physicians oppose “assisted suicide, was recently “reprimanded” for euthanizing a 47 year old woman because of her chronic tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  An independent commission, monitoring how Dutch euthanasia rules are applied, said the patient should have undergone “further psychiatric evaluation.”  But past cases of inappropriate conduct concerning euthanasia have had few consequences; e.g. a physician who killed a disabled baby received a 3 week suspended sentence.

Those who are sick rightfully deserve respect and should be provided with appropriate care.  Chronic tinnitus can be debilitating.  It can disrupt concentration, sleep patterns and participation in social activities, leading to depression and anxiety.  Tinnitus tends to be more persistent and disturbing if the patient obsesses about it.  Fortunately there are treatments that can remove or diminish the symptoms.  Counseling can be used to alter negative behaviors and thought patterns, when emotional distress becomes as troublesome as the symptoms themselves.

Every human life is a special and unique gift, created in the image and likeness of God.  We are called to respect and protect human life because of its inherent dignity and sacredness. Although we have been entrusted with life, we do not have absolute power over it — we only have stewardship.  To respect the dignity of the individual we must provide the sick with adequate pain relief, symptom management, compassion, acceptance, love, and physical, emotional and spiritual care.

The Catholic Church teaches that suffering, illness and dying is an opportunity to become close to Christ, who suffered immensely on the cross.  We may never deliberately and directly cause the death of an innocent person.  Such an action contradicts Natural Law, and violates the Fifth Commandment: ’Thou Shall Not Kill.’  A temptation exists to value life only by its usefulness and quality.  Regardless, human life is always to be valued and protected.  The case in the Netherlands exposes the true intentions of advocates of the “right to die” movement.  Originally touted as a means only to end the life of the terrninally ill, its use has been expanded to kill people with chronic illnesses and even children not in danger of death.

Depression is a powerful symptom clouding the reason and confusing the patient.  Individuals suffering from chronic illness and those approaching death are often overcome by it but depression can be treated, allowing peace and tranquility.  But when dealing with the culture of death, it is much easier and less expensive to simply kill a patient, rather than taking the time and effort to discover and treat the underlying symptoms.  The failure to adequately prosecute offending physicians indicates the weak and vulnerable have few advocates in the legal and medical professions and on the slippery slope of assisted suicide.

As America loses its moral backbone and its Judeo-Christian heritage, be prepared for similar occurrences.  Medical care is becoming more expensive and, as the population ages, there will be fewer able bodied individuals to pay for it.  The elderly and those with chronic illnesses will be denied appropriate care and will be encouraged to end their lives for the “benefit of society.”  Catholics must be prepared to oppose the culture of death and become informed patient advocates when end of life issues and chronic debilitation illnesses affect family and loved ones.

Thank you and God bless.

Guest Poster:  

Michael Aiello, MD”


Pictures from March for Life?

January 23rd, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

If you have your own pictures from the 2015 March for Life which you’d like to see uploaded to this space, with a credit, please let us know at


Building Real Churches Again

January 21st, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

We may have left the period of building churches that look like “non-churches”. The craziness may be over. Le’s hope so.

Here is a link to a post about the dedication of a new Catholic Church in South Carolina. Those who have been following my series on Church Architecture Styles will recognize the Early Christian basilica style of the interior and the atrium outside. The facade is Italian Renaissance. The advancing three dimensional nature of the facade and concave scroll buttresses joining the top level of the facade to the wider lower level suggest the Baroque style (which I have not yet covered in the series on styles).

There are several photos and artist renderings you can see by following the link.

From the New Liturgical Movement website:

01 Aerial Perspective - Final smallest

See more photos here.


Another Side Chapel in France

January 21st, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie



Update re Cleansing Fire

January 18th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

You may have noticed in your browser that there is a redirect from to a new URL,

This change reflects two things:

1. The Diocese of Rochester has benefited exceedingly from having Bishop Matano as our shepherd for this past year.  In celebrating the anniversary of his installation, the many changes he has implemented truly are reason for an “attitude of gratitude.”  As we reviewed the many prior issues about which Cleansing Fire participants had repeatedly complained, ranging from liturgical dancing, to lay preaching at Mass, to the closure of St. Thomas the Apostle Church and even sloppy Eucharistic practices, to just mention a few, it is incredible to experience not only the changes Bishop Matano has wrought, but the model of his obedience to the Church’s magisterial teaching, to the catechism, to Sacred Scripture and Canon Law.  We have also had a good taste of his vision and his confidence in the Holy Spirit in his reopening  St. Thomas and nurturing of the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass.  Why mention all this?  Because continuing to emphasize DoR in the title of our site is no longer needed, nor would it be fair and just to imply continuity with the prior problems.

2. The threats  today and in the future, will likely be less from errant local leadership (especially under a strong and loving bishop) and more from abuses in the wider world, both outside and within the Church.  In other words, attacks on our Faith from civil government, and the uncertainties and confusion emanating from leadership such as deviant synodal participants, will more likely affect many dioceses, of which Rochester is only one. Besides the confusion abounding from the Synod, we see bishops in some dioceses distributing Holy Communion to notorious sinners who advocate same-sex ‘marriage’ and abortion, and we see their lack of courage in standing up for Church Teaching.  It makes us realize that we should also lend our voices to the concerns of the wider Church, for the sake of souls.  Removing DoR from the URL is symbolic of our willingness to speak out on issues which oppress our brothers and sisters in the Faith not only in, but also beyond, our own 12 counties, and to oppose threats to our own religious freedom.  That does not mean we have less interest in local issues, but rather a commitment to also speak out sincerely and articulately in service to Christian principles.  It seems right and appropriate that the experience which contributors to and followers of this site have gained in long term suffering through very difficult and prolonged situations have strengthened us to contribute on such a wider basis, in a world that is greatly wounded and needs more voice from faithful laity.  May we all be so, and willing to do so.

In addition, we reissue the invitation to those interested in posting on relevant topics, either as an occasional contributor or as Cleansing Fire staff.  If you are interested, please email us at

This notice will stay at the top post for the next week, to try to reach as many of our readers as possible.


Rochester Catholic Women’s Conference

January 18th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

ScreenShot023 The Second Annual Rochester Catholic Women’s Conference will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at Aquinas Institute.  If you remember, last year the event was sold out and there were many women who wanted to attend but could not.  If this is of interest to you, now would be the time to register, without waiting for the announcement detail to get around to your parish.

The entire program, registration information, costs etc. can be found here:

You can also see a video from last year’s conference.




Mass For Life – Sunday, January 18th, 2pm

January 15th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson


Mass For Life – PDF Flyer

Bishop Matano will be celebrating Mass on Sunday, January 18, at 2pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral in support of all human life, especially the unborn.

This Mass for Life is a local celebration to give thanks to God for the gift of human life and to pray for the legal protection of unborn children, coinciding with the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe vs Wade decision.

Reception to follow, hosted by the Knights of Columbus.

For more information, contact Suzanne Stack, Life Issues Coordinator at 585.328.3210 x 1304 or


French Side Chapels

January 15th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie


(Click on pictures to enlarge.)

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Maximize the Beauty of the Liturgy

January 8th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

Epiphany 2015

Post by Gregory Dipippo

From the New Liturgical Movement

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, chapter 1

Very short but spot on:

Jesus was born in a humble stable and placed in a manger, true. But the Wise Men did not bring Him straw, dirt, and dung; they brought Him costly royal gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The way in which Our Lord was born revealed His humility, which disdains earthly pomp; the way in which the three kings adored him revealed…

Read More


Lifesite News: Cardinal Burke on “too feminized” Church; liturgy

January 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Cardinal Burke: Catholic Church has ‘become too influenced by radical feminism

“In a wide-ranging interview Cardinal Raymond Burke used frank language to express his grave concerns about the way in which the Catholic Church has been damaged by radical feminism. He also addressed, with a candor rarely heard from pastors, sexual immorality and liturgical abuse.”   See article here.


“The radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized,” the cardinal told Matthew James Christoff, founder of ‘The New Emangelization’, an evangelizing mission focused on men.”

“’Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society,’ said Cardinal Burke. ‘So much of this tradition of heralding the heroic nature of manhood has been lost in the Church today.’”

“‘The Church has become so ‘feminized,’ he said, that ‘men are often reluctant to become active in the Church.’ He explained: ‘The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out.’”

“The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service,’ he added. While emphasizing that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church, Cardinal Burke said the introduction of altar girls ‘has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.’”

“The problems men face that have been largely ignored by the Church are especially related to sexuality.  The cardinal decried the ‘very fluffy, superficial kind of catechetical approach to the question of human sexuality and the nature of the marital relationship.’ The problem was compounded by ‘an explosion of pornography’ in society, he said, ‘which is particularly corrosive for men because it terribly distorts the whole reality of human sexuality.’”

“Turning to liturgy, Cardinal Burke said, ‘There has been, and continues to be, serious liturgical abuses that turn men off.’  He suggested that the Traditional Latin Mass holds for men, especially young men, a great appeal.  ’The Ordinary Form, if it’s celebrated very reverently with good music, can have the same strong positive effect on men,’ he added. ‘Men don’t go in for this kind of corny approach to the Mass when it becomes some kind of feel-good session, or where there is irreverence.’”

For the full interview see


Lessons and Carols at St. Alban this Sunday

January 6th, 2015, Promulgated by Ludwig

The Fellowship of St. Alban will be holding their annual Lessons and Carols this Sunday, January 11 at Good Shepherd in Henrietta.

Details are in the flyer below.



The Silent Canon: Is Worship Supposed to be Awful?

January 5th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

A post from the New Liturgical Movement website.


Harris (Charles Harris) brings forward an abundance of quotations from the earliest liturgical sources to support his contention that the silent recitation of part or all of the Anaphora or Canon of the Eucharistic liturgy became the norm very early on in both East and West. This evidence—and more importantly, the underlying theology and spirituality to which it points—is a clarion call for Catholics of the Roman Rite to continue to work zealously for either the preservation and spread (in the usus antiquior) or the reappraisal and restoration (in the Novus Ordo) of the silent Canon. This ancient and longstanding custom, like the ad orientem stance and the exercise of liturgical roles by ordained ministers, expresses the great reverence due to our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament.

Harris first talks about the psychology of silence…

Read the entire post here.


Fire damage at St. Pius X

January 2nd, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Mary, Mother of God, Mosaic in the Chancel of St. Mary Major

January 1st, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

In today’s section of Dom Guéranger’s “The Liturgical Year” discussing the feast of Mary, Mother of God, he mentions:

The holy Pope Xystus 3rd ordered an immense Mosaic to be worked into the Chancel-Arch of the Church of St. Mary Major, in Rome, as a monument to the holy Mother of God.

I was hoping to find a picture, but the Vatican has done even better than that in creating one of those panoramas where you can look around the church. Here is a link to it (it worked on my Chrome browser, but not my Firefox browser). Here is a screenshot of it:

If you’re interested in Guéranger’s Liturgical Year, you can download it for free as pdfs. I got my originals from here. The best way I’ve found to read it on a somewhat regular basis is by using the Kindle App on a phone or tablet (Kindle e-ink readers don’t do a good job with pdfs). To better manage them in the Kindle app, I edited some of the metadata and have it shared in a public google drive folder here. Here are some screenshots from my iOS device showing 2 of the volumes in my bookshelf, how easy it is to quickly flip through hundreds of pages, and that it’s actually readable on a phone.





Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – January 2015

December 31st, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your January 2015 calendar. Thanks to the good folks at for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

And the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for January:

Universal: PEACE
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.

Evangelization: CONSECRATED LIFE
That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.


Global Warming Lessons from Pope Urban VIII to Pope Francis?

December 31st, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Have you noticed that sometimes Vatican announcements are not leading the information procession but sweeping up after the secular media has its parade?  I find that troubling, as perhaps some secular hype and misdirection might be avoided with detailed written releases in advance, and Truth better served.  But that might also sell fewer newspapers,  shorten broadcasts, stem the celebrity tide and reduce the need for career Vatican spin-meisters.  The Synod in October was a prime example — hand out a release to the media that was not seen or voted on by the participants, then react to the media’s reaction, and spend weeks defending ill-advised wording, even excising words from the English release, and complain, complain about the secular media, which was being led by the nose to the fodder. Now it can be done all over again on the subject of so-called “global warming.”

Hence, there is still somewhat a dearth of information in true Catholic media (as opposed to spin correction media) on Pope Francis’ take on global warming, and his plans or aspirations to influence world opinion on the subject. Lack of clarity leaves plenty of void for speculative media to fill. (The days of true investigative reporting being lost, with freedom of the press in the U.S. now having little need for protection of the vacuous.)   By the time Vatican press releases and Zenit catch up on framing the issue, the rumors will still be rampant, out of control.  This has happened often enough that one might wonder if it is the actual publicity strategy of the ‘handlers’ in the Vatican Press Office.  So, what about ‘global warming’ in this morass of media blight?

This latest news churning was covered quickly by The New Republic, out front days ago on an anticipated March 2015 encyclical embracing global warming as real, and as such a threat that it requires the head of 1.2 billion Catholics to use the premier teaching vehicle of an encyclical and take the world stage on quite a controversial issue.  It is time for those under-catechized Catholics to be refreshed on the limits of papal authority on matters of faith and morals.  It is clear from Sacred Scripture that the human race is to be a good steward of creation.  But isn’t it disingenuous to argue that since God created man, every issue about life on earth impinges somehow on matters of faith or morals, and that therefore His vicar on earth can demand obedience of any issue at all?  What then would be the role of reason? of free will? Our attention to any papal pronouncements must be with due consideration and respect, but not all ruminating or postulating implies the obligation of obedience. Here is another link that might be of interest:

This is where Pope Urban VIII comes in, and where hopefully Pope Francis will reflect on the lessons to be learned.  Pope Urban VIII chose to align himself against the then emerging theory of helio-centricity (that the sun is the center of the universe) and instead to embrace, advocate and pursue through the ecclesiastical courts the theory of geo-centricity (that the earth is the center of the universe).  Galileo was a leading scapegoat of that — some would say — persecution, forced to renounce helio-centricity as untrue, i.e. abandoning his life’s work.  And it would appear that Pope Urban VIII had some better arguments for geo-centricity from Scripture than Pope Francis has for embracing, teaching and pursuing global warming.

Scientific conclusions must, above all, be based on Truth.   Science cares not for consensus, impression, opinion, politics or editorials.  Science only cares for Truth, and without Truth it isn’t science.  An encyclical can argue for caring for the environment, but if it is to claim global warming is a threat, it ought to be able to scientifically defend that global warming is real, and also extrapolate the threat. Otherwise, future generations will find a pope’s defense of global warming as ill-advised as a pope’s arguing for geo-centricity.  As Pope Urban VIII now knows, not everything bound on earth gets bound in heaven, when it flies in the face of Truth. And in the basic logic of Truth, inability to disprove a lie does not therefore make that lie truth.  (Current inability to disprove global warming — due to insufficient data — does not make global warming true.)

When I wrote a guest commentary last May for the Canandaigua Messenger, I was wondering why I was even spending time on it, seemingly so unrelated to many issues which interest me more.  But the bad science of all that I’d read on global warming claims was a thorn in the side that I couldn’t ignore.  Now, less than a year later I can see that work as preparation for what I could never have suspected at the time — a pope about to write an encyclical in support of global warming, and calling on those in his care to devote attention and energy to it (attention and energy being necessarily drawn away from other things).  In the very area of priorities, beginning with the greatest commandment and going to the Great Commission, where will alleged global warming fit on the priority of souls? Heretofore, I never dreamed of posting the “Cooling on Global Warming” essay on Cleansing Fire of all places; but, here it is:

Cooling on Global Warming Messenger Essay 5-8-14


A Beauty in New York City

December 30th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie
web OurLadyGoodCounselInt1

Our Lady of Good Counsel, NYC

(Click on picture to enlarge)

More pictures at Our Lady of Good Counsel (click on pictures to enlarge). The website looks to be mostly about the church’s organ so if you are interested in pipe organs then you get the pleasure of reading about that as well.