Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Whatever happened to full vesting?

October 19th, 2017, Promulgated by Hopefull

The above link to the Vatican site describes what is expected of a priest celebrating Mass — any Mass, whether on Sunday or weekday — regarding vestments. There are prayers to be said during vesting too. And there is symbolism for each vestment. What does it mean when they are omitted?

In recent times, and in the last few years in particular, it seems that weekday Masses have become even more casual. Frequently I see priests wearing un-cinctured albs and sometimes even designer stoles in which one sometimes can’t distinguish what is supposed to be the predominant color (especially with rainbow stoles which seem to send a different and inappropriate message.)

The USCCB site references wearing of the chasuble in paragraph #337: “The vestment proper to the Priest Celebrant at Mass and during other sacred actions directly connected with Mass is the chasuble worn, unless otherwise indicated, over the alb and stole.”

The Vatican site states in paragraph #7: “Finally, the chasuble is put on, the vestment proper to him who celebrates the Holy Mass. … The prayer for the donning of the chasuble references the exhortation in the Letter to the Colossians (3:14) — “Above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfection” — and the Lord’s words in Matthew, 11:30: … “O Lord, who has said, “My yoke is sweet and My burden light,” grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace.

Locally, it seems to be a practice each priest (or parish?) adopts for itself. In some churches, priests always wear the chasuble; in others, it seems, they only wear a chasuble on Sunday, wearing just an un-cintured alb and stole for weekday Mass.

Here is an excerpt from the Vatican link regarding cinctures (which seem to be treated as a bit more optional in the US). It reads in paragraph #4: “Over the alb and around the waist is placed the girdle or cincture, a cord made of wool or other suitable material that is used as a belt. All those who wear albs must also wear the cincture  ….  In the symbolism of the liturgical vestments the cincture represents the virtue of self-mastery, which St. Paul also counts among the fruits of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22). The corresponding prayer, taking its cue from the first Letter of Peter (1:13), says: “…. Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me.”

If a celebrant so visibly wears an alb without cincture (and without the required chasuble which would otherwise hide the fact of the missing cincture) what about the prayers? What is he really saying to his flock about his commitment to the virtues reflected in each vestment? Or about just plain obedience? Just wondering.

I also wonder how a celebrant can repeatedly come breezing in one minute before Mass, get “minimally” vested, and then celebrate such an awesome Sacrament.   The people attending Mass might be forgiven for thinking that don’t need to prepare for Mass either. But let’s leave that for another day.


Share this article

Capital Punishment from Genesis to Pope Francis

October 12th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Genesis 9:6:  God said to Noah: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His own image.”

Matthew 26:62-66:  Jesus cooperates with the high priest’s demand to incriminate Himself, leading to His death by capital punishment:  “And the high priest stood up and said, ‘Have You no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You?’ But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God, tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, ‘He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard His blasphemy. What is your judgment?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.'”

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  2267: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. 

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

LifeSiteNews quotes Pope Francis Oct. 12, 2017

Quotations from Pope Francis, if accurate, once again raise major concerns of apparently contradicting prior Church Teaching, even seeming to imply that what is unchangeable is now changeable:

“Pope Francis indicated in his speech that the teaching of the Catechism would change according to a “new understanding of Christian truth.” ….“Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision can think of ‘the deposit of faith’ as something static,” he said. ….“The Word of God cannot be conserved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to be preserved from parasites. No. The Word of God is a dynamic reality, always alive, that progresses and grows because it tends towards a fulfillment that men cannot stop.”….This “law of progress,” the Pope said, “appertains to the peculiar condition of the truth revealed in its being transmitted by the church, and does not at all signify a change of doctrine. One cannot conserve the doctrine without making it progress, nor can one bind it to a rigid and immutable reading without humiliating the Holy Spirit.”  

Again, I am asking: “Huh?”

The premise seems to rest on a fail-safe prison system, which very recently has been disproven.

Q:  Has prison security really advanced to a point where those convicted of murder can be kept imprisoned with absolutely no chance of escape?

A:  No. Just peruse some of the articles on the 2015 breakout in Northern NY.

What is particularly ironic is that somehow the death penalty for taking human life, even in quite horrific ways, seems to be opposed far more than euthanasia of those guiltlessly suffering from mental impairment, dementia or Alzheimers!

Turned Upside Down

October 7th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

So — good is bad and bad is good? Right is wrong and wrong is right? Holy is hate, and hate is righteous? It seems that way so often in the world these days. It seems at times like the world some of us have known for so long is being turned upside down, challenging even our own faith and perspective. But, after all, did not Christ say to His apostles: “And will not God vindicate His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? What do you think? When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” Yes He did say that, in Luke 18:7-8. We may not know all the reasons, but He did say so!

This is not being written to influence anyone to do any specific thing; we each have free will.  In my free will I choose to openly reject something which is being put forward in some dioceses throughout the world, and also at high Vatican levels. And I believe that ‘something’ is scandalous to souls, dangerous to faith, and deserves to be resisted. That ‘something’ is reinterpreting what used to be called the Protestant Rebellion, which then became the Protestant Reformation, and now seems to be the exaltation of the disobedient Protestant so-called ‘reformers’ to a platform of honor and prestige.

Turn that World back around again! 

ScreenShot760And a good place for that reform to begin is in the gallery at the ScreenShot761Vatican where Pope Francis had installed a large statue of Martin Luther. The reddish brandishment certainly makes one wonder where he has been for the last 500 years. In the best [most unsavory] medieval tradition of burying people face down who were expected to have gone to hell, perhaps the better image for these times is to turn that abominable statue on its head, visibly rejecting the Lutheran influence around the Catholic Church? Meanwhile, see how he is positioned with his back to us, on the receiving line at the Vatican?  Perhaps there has been some Divine Revelation that Luther finished his stint in purgatory and is now in heaven? Oh, but did he believe in purgatory? And, if so, how did he get out in only 500 years without Masses, Communions and Indulgences?

A bigger question is why didn’t Pope Paul V celebrate in 1617 the centennial of Luther’s posting his 95 theses (“Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”) on October 31, 1517 to the door of Wittenberg Castle church? Or why didn’t Pope Clement XI celebrate the 2nd centenary in 1717? Or Pius VII celebrate 300 years in 1817? Or Benedict XV celebrate the fourth centenary in 1917? (also the month of the last apparition at Fatima!) Why did prior popes seemingly not recognize those centenaries? Why now? And what is the real agenda?

This is not an attack of Lutherans!

Let’s make it clear. This is not an attack on Lutherans or any other Protestant sect. My mother was Lutheran, then Dutch Reformed and then Lutheran again before she received her 4th baptism as a Catholic (honest!) I have some very good friends who are Lutheran and I believe we have great personal respect for each other without having to agree with each other on matters of faith or any other matters. I have many friends who are in other Protestant sects, some have converted to Catholicism, and I also have close Jewish friends. This is not a disrespect to their faiths or teachings, nor have I ever felt the need to ‘phony-up’ our beliefs.

What I am saying — to be as clear as I can be — is that, based on history, past papal practice, and the overwhelming damage done by Luther, he has no place in Catholic Church Teaching, respect or recognition, without putting other Catholics in danger in their faith. It is one more thing that undermines what we have always believed, AND what we have good reason to believe. When the Vatican or any diocese elevates Luther for praise, recognizes the 500 year gap with celebration and commemoration rather than sincere bereavement and prayer for the souls of those adversely affected, it seems to me to be just plain wrong, and nothing to which I can give assent. To do so, I’d have to ask: “What has changed? and I see nothing, nor have I been taught any ‘new’ well-founded discovery or revelation. And as we are already in times in which we have to examine carefully the leadership at all levels in our own Church, and learn how to protect ourselves from bad teaching, it is notorious to be welcoming dissenting leadership to any pulpit in the Catholic Church. My hope is that no real Catholics will show up to witness or participate in such events.

Meanwhile, I don’t ask anyone to stay home or boycott — that is up to individual consciences. But I do ask that we pray together for Oneness of our Church, to withstand “celebrating” 500 years of Christian ignominy, and to exhort each other that we do better “to cry to the Lord all day and night“, than to try to compromise with the world. It is an ignominy because it cheapens what it means to be in communion with each other, insults Christ’s high priestly prayer for unity (John Chapter 17), and risks cheapening the Eucharist to a mere gratuity, a false metaphor. (Similar to the heart of the current problems with Amoris Laetitia).

For those who don’t know, this is an ENTIRELY different situation from Pope Benedict’s establishing the Anglican Ordinariate — totally Catholic, not a negotiated truce but a humble, clear, welcome and cherished return. And it is important to say so.

Can anything good come from the myth of celebrating heresy?

Personally, I think the negative far outweighs the positive, that the seriousness of mis-communicating our own faith risks even wider scandal. But if there is anything to be gained from pseudo respect for so-called Protestant reformers, there might be two points.  1) Since Protestants have also pursued much good, solid biblical study and translation, back to the original languages, it might possibly make it all the more difficult for less faithful components of the Catholic Church (or decentralized national councils) to alter biblical text. 2) Perhaps attention on such protesters and dissenters will give more credence to those who protest and dissent today while remaining inside the Church, traditional and faithful.  A number of things, which have been said by Pope Francis have been highly critical of faithful and traditional Catholics (read ‘rigid’ in the Pope’s words). Perhaps the complaints will be heard eventually, but hopefully not by waiting 500 years.


Ambiguity or Discernment?

October 2nd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Recently I sent a “reflection” to my own mailing list and the feedback was that it might be useful to share on CF as well. So with apologies to those receiving duplicates, here is the text:

Recently I was in an active discussion with a close friend about how ambiguity undermines truth, and how important it is for us to say what we mean and to mean what we say. We might think of it this way:

ScreenShot755Suppose in driving we come to an intersection with two traffic lights, alternating with each other, with one on and the other off.  And suppose whichever one is “on” is blinking every color of the rainbow. Then the one that is “off” begins blinking all the colors and the other one goes off.  What is the proper way to proceed through the intersection? Some would say “very carefully,” especially if our vision of the road ahead and to either side is impeded. We don’t know what we are being told to do, and we don’t know if others around us will see things the same way.

When ambiguity occurs in spiritual teaching, the most important of all teaching, one answer also might be “proceed very, very carefully.” While the teachings of the Church may not always be popular, they have usually been clear. Then it is our free-will choice to obey or not to obey. But suppose we were each to interpret a teaching differently? If we act on those differences, the Body of Christ loses ‘Oneness.’

What does the Bible say about ambiguity? In Matthew 5:37 Christ says: “Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything more than this comes from evil.”

In the Epistle of James 5:12 we read: “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation.”

Seems clear enough? But what biblical references do we have for ambiguity? The counterpoint to Christ’s and James’ statements would seem to apply (as you probably won’t find the word “ambiguous” or “ambiguity” in the usual biblical places.) St. Paul uses not “yes OR no” but “yes AND no” to convey ambiguity. Thus we read in 2 Corinthians 1:17-19 three mentions of “yes AND no” — “Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva’nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in Him it is always Yes.” 

How can something be both “yes” and “no”?  It can’t.  Ambiguity in moral matters is a danger to souls. Many in the Church today recognize the Latin word “dubia” which means “doubts.” Four Cardinals of the Church have made inquiry of Pope Francis to seek clarification of what seem to be ambiguous passages in the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.” (It isn’t the intent here to dive into the details, but only to point out that a writer can’t decide what is ambiguous or not, only the hearers / readers, each one for himself. But the writer can certainly explain the intention of his writing if he chooses. Or approve or disagree with someone else’s interpretation.)

But what are souls to do when confronted by the confusion and temptations of ambiguity? Many years ago I knew a couple who was struggling during their engagement about all the situations they had not anticipated that they would incur during their marriage, trying to figure out in advance what they would do.  Finally, their mutual decision was to approach each crucial decision (and none is more crucial than those affecting their souls) with the aphorism “High card wins.”  While true in gaming, they saw their way to decide in advance that whichever of their positions was the “most moral” (even if both were “moral”) would be the way the couple would decide. I cannot comment on whether or not they successfully implemented that decision, but how much better to have considered their strategy for deciding in advance.

Perhaps the Faithful from Argentina to Malta, and from Germany to San Diego, might  take that young couple’s decision into account. As long as there is unresolved ambiguity, hold onto the most moral position, even if it requires suffering unnecessary sacrifice. And proceed very, very slowly to make changes while the traffic light is blinking signals we don’t understand.

Now, to reflect, what is it that I can be clearer and more truthful about among my own friends and family?



Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – October 2017

October 1st, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your October 2017 calendar. Thanks to the good folks at for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

Also, here are the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for October:

Workers and the Unemployed.

That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.


Correctio Filialis (with English heresies translation added)

September 23rd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

For full information:


“And So It Begins:

For the Propagation of Heresies”

RORATE Note: There will [be] many Catholics, even traditionalists, whose first defeatist reaction will be to belittle this effort. But the wise, the learned in history, will understand that this is just the first part, the first piece of the puzzle, with next steps still to come in a long and extended process.
This first step is an initiative of a theological nature that will likely lead, God willing, to an initiative of a canonical nature from those who have the mandate to act. And so it begins:

Documents ….

* (1) Filial Correction on Account of the Propagation of Heresies – Delivered to the Roman Pontiff Pope Francis at his Residence in Domus Sanctae Marthae, at the Vatican, on August 11th, 2017

* (2) Summary explaining content of the Filial Correction

* (3) Press Release and Historical Precedent (Pope John XXII, A.D. 1333)

* (4) List of first signatories”


(CF Note: 40 days elapsed between delivery of the documents and their publication.)

Translation into English (Latin governs) of 7 heresy accusations:

The text of the correction gives these heretical propositions only in Latin, in order to assure the greatest possible clarity and avoid confusion regarding translations. An English translation, provided by the signatories, is as follows:

1). ‘A justified person has not the strength with God’s grace to carry out the objective demands of the divine law, as though any of the commandments of God are impossible for the justified; or as meaning that God’s grace, when it produces justification in an individual, does not invariably and of its nature produce conversion from all serious sin, or is not sufficient for conversion from all serious sin.’

2). ‘Christians who have obtained a civil divorce from the spouse to whom they are validly married and have contracted a civil marriage with some other person during the lifetime of their spouse, who live more uxorio with their civil partner, and who choose to remain in this state with full knowledge of the nature of their act and full consent of the will to that act, are not necessarily in a state of mortal sin, and can receive sanctifying grace and grow in charity.’

3). ‘A Christian believer can have full knowledge of a divine law and voluntarily choose to break it in a serious matter, but not be in a state of mortal sin as a result of this action.’

4). ‘A person is able, while he obeys a divine prohibition, to sin against God by that very act of obedience.’

5). ‘Conscience can truly and rightly judge that sexual acts between persons who have contracted a civil marriage with each other, although one or both of them is sacramentally married to another person, can sometimes be morally right or requested or even commanded by God.’

6). ‘Moral principles and moral truths contained in divine revelation and in the natural law do not include negative prohibitions that absolutely forbid particular kinds of action, inasmuch as these are always gravely unlawful on account of their object.’

7). ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ wills that the Church abandon her perennial discipline of refusing the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried and of refusing absolution to the divorced and remarried who do not express contrition for their state of life and a firm purpose of amendment with regard to it.’


Defending Pres. Trump against Pope Francis

September 12th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris


2017 Fall Bible Studies

September 11th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The following is the bible study information we’ve received to date. 


A new bible study begins at St. Marianne Cope Parish, Wednesday evenings Sept. 13th, 7 – 8:30 PM at Guardian Angels (Room 4), repeated again on Thursday mornings Sept. 14th  at 9 – 10:30 AM at St. Joseph’s in Rush.  Ends in November. What were St Paul’s thoughts on the effect of encroaching worldly philosophies, the role of women, and what to do about the “end times”? You might be surprised and learn more if you join the study of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, Timothy, and Titus.   Contact Rick Halsted at or the parish office at 585-334-3518.


A new Catholic bible study is beginning Thursday morning, Sept. 14th, at 10:00 AM at 58 North Main Street in Canandaigua (parking in the lower lot behind the building).  We will be studying the Letter to the Hebrews, often attributed to St. Paul. Our goal is one chapter per week (not on Thanksgiving!) It is intended to be a group participation in the Holy Spirit, with an occasional guest speaker on particular topics.  Contact Barbara at 585-244-0395.


New Bible Study on the “Parables of the Kingdom” Part 2 will study the Parable teachings of Jesus with a study guide, a commentary booklet and inspirational and educational video. Meets weekly on Thursday mornings at 10:30 AM starting on September 14 to October 19 for six sessions in Our Lady of Peace Parish Center (at St. Francis Church). Call the Rectory to sign up at 315-789-0930.


Bible Study and Church History: “EPIC: A journey through Church History” begins the weekend of October 1, on Sundays at 10:30 AM, and on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM, at St. James Church. Contact Tom Ambury at 607-302-0917 or for more information.


Year-round Bible Study on Thursdays begins October 5 at 7:00 PM in the Parish Conference Room. Fr. Jorge Ramirez’s Bible Study Group has the goal to know more about Holy Scriptures and how God reveals His love and mercy to all of us. The first semester will be an introduction to the Holy Scriptures: What is the Bible; division of the Bible; how to read it…. The second semester will focus on the Gospel of Mark and its relationship with the other synoptic gospels. For more information contact Fr. Jorge Ramirez at 585-663-2244.


A new bible study begins September 18 through November 6, 2017, with Doug Taylor-Weiss, a convert to Catholicism and former Protestant Minister and adjunct professor at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, and a parishioner at St. Mary’s Auburn where he is involved in Faith Formation and Bible Studies.  He will lead a study on the Letter to the Hebrews. Mondays at 7 PM for eight weeks at the Holy Family School Room #2. Contact the Parish Office at 315-252-9576.


ScreenShot721   ScreenShot722    ScreenShot720

(Stieglitz Collection)


Coming Soon! Bible Study Listings

September 3rd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Bible studies in the Catholic tradition are not well-publicized. By the time we learn of one in which we might be interested, we’ve usually missed at least a few sessions. For the most part, such notices get buried as a page 3 insertion from time to time in Church bulletins.

ScreenShot702Under Canon Law and under the exhortations of Dei Verbum (Vatican II), the Faithful do have certain rights of access to the bible and for proper learning of the message of God to His people. We’ll be covering excerpts of that teaching in a later posting. For now, we are just asking readers to send (or provide as comments to this post) information on any scripture study of which you may be aware and which you believe will be consistent with Catholic Teaching. We’d like to compile a wide area list  especially in this Year of the Eucharist in the Rochester Diocese. We believe it will help conserve pastoral resources, and build networking among the laity.

Cleansing Fire plans to publish a list of bible studies intended to be in the Catholic Tradition, wherever they may be held in the Diocese of Rochester, including in people’s homes. Please mention which book(s) of the bible will be studied, dates, time and place of meetings, contact information and cost, if any. If there is a leader, please identify, and mention background if applicable. If it is a community study group without a leader, or using a DVD + discussion, it would be helpful to know that as well.

We can’t all be missionaries, but we can help to spread the Word of God.

Peace to all!


When a parish is needlessly divided …

September 3rd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Most responsible leaders in the Church do recognize that unity must be around doctrinal issues, not around political or opinion issues. Most responsible leaders do not deliberately precipitate division in a parish, especially around matters of prudential judgment. And most responsible leaders, when quoting opinions of others, honor disputes with relevant quotes from both sides, acknowledge their own prejudices, use credible experts, and try to avoid sources with besmirched reputation. But Cris Wensel, pastoral associate of St. Matthew and St. Mary in Honeoye, isn’t like such responsible leaders.

In less than two months in her new position of responsibility, during the medical absence of the pastor, in my opinion she has already betrayed the trust that was put in her, making a bulletin first page extensive quote from the very controversial Vatican newbie, Fr. James Martin, S.J., who is a prime example of why a real Re-Suppression of the Jesuits is needed asap. It appears that the Jesuit Fr. Martin has been in the hot seat for two months since his controversial book and subsequent remarks on homosexuality. Here are the links to the most recent LifeSiteNews articles on Fr. Martin’s proclivities and opinions:


Who’s really responsible for Fr. James Martin’s revolution? (June 27)

Church leaders rip Fr. Martin’s new book on homosexuality (July 12)

Vatican adviser dismisses Catholic teaching, says God made gays ‘who they are’ (Aug. 22)

Pro-gay Vatican advisor: Some of my critics just fear their own ‘complicated sexuality’ (Aug. 24)

Vatican advisor urges gay priests to ‘come out,’ won’t say what his own ‘sexuality’ is (Aug 29)

Cardinal rebukes Vatican adviser’s critique of Church principles on LGBT issues (Sept. 1)

The self-proclaimed expert on homosexuality is apparently also a self-proclaimed expert on climate change as well. Cris Wensel quotes the very controversial Father Martin’s opinions to the parishioners of St. Matthew and St. Mary, without even adequately identifying the original source of his alleged comments:






















ScreenShot705In the spirit of full disclosure, I will make three points lest I also have a conflict of interest.

  1. I spent six months writing a response to Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si.”  Not only do I believe that climate change is a hoax, but  I believe, more dangerously, it is an attempt to establish a one-world-religion based on pantheistic and socialistic principles. I have sent a copy of my book to the head of every diocese in the US, also offered also it free to Canadian bishops and sent copies to selected Vatican leaders, including both Pope Emeritus Benedict  XVI and Pope Francis.  I was generally quite pleased by the responses I received. Information is at  I am not going to use this space to refute all of Fr. Martin’s allegations in defense of Laudato Si, which amount mostly to parroting the encyclical, as I’ve already spent over 200 pages arguing the opposite position. Father Martin does take on the “authority” however to determine what is and what is not a “moral” issue. That is important power grab; if it were a moral issue then it would imply Laudato Si might be binding, which I believe most Canon Law experts do not assert.
  2. Cris Wensel and I have a history of disagreement, some of which is on this Cleansing Fire blog site. “Search” for Wensel for pretty full disclosure. The first significant controversy occurred when she was using the feminine gender for the Holy Spirit. Her patron-pastor supported her, alleging that Bp. Bruskewitz supported the feminine use. I had the opportunity to speak with  Bishop Bruskewitz on a Catholic Radio call-in show, and the good bishop absolutely condemned such behavior, as God has revealed Himself to us under the male gender. If you would like to hear the brief recording of my call with Bishop Bruskewitz, please click here:   Cris and I have also had disagreement on ordination of women, and I have published in defense of the male priesthood and against feminists coveting ordination.
  3. It makes me particularly concerned, and I admit also angry, when people in the pew, especially the young and less catechized, are subjected to material such as was just published in the St. Mary / St. Matthew Church bulletin, particularly for those who have little ability to discern truth from pastoral ego. Their natural trust of their parish’s communications make them targets for what is not true. I would feel guilty were I not to challenge the assertions of someone arguing climate change is a moral issue, but that what is condemned clearly in Romans Chapter 1 is not!

P.S. All the above begs the question: “What should parishioners do when confronted with such an inappropriate article in their Church bulletin?” In my opinion, it is not enough to just go to the person who promulgates misunderstanding of our Faith, especially where they have a track record of rampant error, and there is no reason to believe a single personal complaint to the individual writer will prevent further abuse. Rather, I believe the article should be sent to Bishop Matano’s attention with charitable complaint. It is not only about stopping future error to protect our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also about trying to correct what has been already done. And His Excellency is the only one with the power to do both.  Peace!

Following the thread emerging on Fr. Martin and Petition to have him removed as a Vatican Advisor (Sept. 12)


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – September 2017

September 2nd, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your September 2017 calendar. Thanks to the good folks at for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

Also, here are the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for September:


That our parishes, animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen.


Was Jesus illiterate? Part II of II

August 26th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In Part I of this two part post, we looked at the scriptural references to Christ’s reading and writing to defend against the accusation that He was illiterate. In this Part II we look at the broader picture of literacy in the culture at the time of Christ, especially as reflected through Sacred Scripture, and ask if it is even ‘logical’ that the Son of God would be unable to read and write. How might Jesus have achieved that learning?

Is it ‘logical’ that the Son of God was unable to read and write?

While the scriptural references cited in Part I may well quell allegations that Christ could not read or write, there is also a certain logic to be examined. Do the most prominent writings of the time (Sacred Scripture in particular) imply that illiteracy was widespread, or not? Even given exceptions for government and religious elite, are there implications (or not) of a wider ability to read and write? While oral teaching was the most common, and people seemed to be better able to memorize in those times, should a wide population be painted with a brush of illiteracy, and Christ placed in that context? And, even if the population were illiterate, why might Christ have been an exception to any such prevailing cultural limitation? Is it logical that the Son of God, able to raise the dead, would be unable to read and write?

We will limit the discussion to three points:  1) What else might we learn from Scripture about the milieu of the times regarding literacy? 2) What unique opportunity might Christ have had to learn to read and write, and 3) Is there evidence that Jesus might have been “home-schooled?”

Was the ability to “read” at the time of Christ so rare as to suggest it was very unlikely that Christ would have been able to read?

Historically, we can look at just a few recorded fragments, such as Moses’ writing the Pentateuch many centuries earlier. The time-frame for the philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle is also centuries before Christ. Part of the famed Library at Alexandria was burned by the Romans in 48 BC. (One doesn’t have a library without something to ‘house’ in it!) What about the preservation and study of the scriptural scrolls by the Essenes?

Heinrich Hofmann, 1881

Heinrich Hofmann, 1881

Studying the Hebrew Scriptures was common among Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, and study of the Talmud in preparation for becoming ‘adult’ in the faith (today – Bar Mitzvah) was usually required of the young men. Christ, Himself, who astounded the scholars when He remained behind in the Temple at the age of 12, probably read Hebrew in order to demonstrate His knowledge of the Scriptures, not for a moment or two but apparently over three days, as described in Luke Chapter 2: 46-47: “After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.”  The surprise of the teachers of the law indicates a much higher level than expected of learning shown by Christ, compared to other boys His age.

There are also seven New Testament quotations by Christ, asking: “Have you not read….?”  While such comment is often addressed to the religious leaders, who should be expected to have read, would Christ have made such accusations were He only ‘acting’ as if He could read? Would the religious leaders have missed an opportunity to embarrass Christ by revealing an inability to read on His part?

In the Gospel of John we learn that Pilate had a sign written and placed on the Cross, in three languages. The text (John 19:19-20) points out that it was read by many of the Jews: “Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.”  Thus, one may argue, that for “many” of the Jews to have read this, implies that “many” could read, unless we were to make the illogical argument that only well-educated people attended crucifixions!

Even the Ethiopian eunuch could read (Acts 8: 27-28) although he did not fully understand the sacred text. And still within the century of Christ, reading and writing was essential to communications in the early Church, typified by the letter from the Council of Jerusalem regarding circumcision, and the many letters to which we owe the teaching in the epistles. Those evangelized to Christianity came from all sectors of society. I would conclude that reading was not so rare that it suggests illiteracy on the part of all, including Jesus Christ. The better question would be “Why would Christ NOT have been literate?”

Did Christ have a unique opportunity to learn to read and write?

Perhaps the question revolves more about access to learning, than about not being a norm of the times. How does a poor foster son of a carpenter from Nazareth get educated? Luke leaves completely out of his infancy narrative the story which Matthew includes; i.e. the visit by the pagan kings (or perhaps of some Hebrew descent, given their interest in the birth of a king of the Hebrews.) That Mary and Joseph are poor is evidenced in Luke by the offering of a pair of turtledoves when Christ is presented at the Temple. But apparently they did “come into some money” soon thereafter, a development which seems not to often attract further focus.

"...and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh."

“…and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Art: Eastern Orthodox)

Given the appearance of the star at the time of Jesus’ birth, and the time it would take for a caravan to progress (Babylon to Jerusalem, and then to Bethlehem) we should remember that, in spite of crèche scenes, when the Magi arrived the Holy Family is no longer in a stable, but in a house (oikia)Christ is no longer an infant (brephos), but a toddler (paidion). And after the departure of the Magi, the Holy Family likely was no longer poor, having received gold, frankincense and myrrh. Thus, when the Holy Family arrives in Egypt, they have the means (in addition to Joseph’s carpentry) that God has provided to care for them. Egypt might also have yielded a place for some early education, and gold the means to provide for it.

We don’t know explicitly how long the Holy Family was in Egypt, but why should we ignore the 1260 days mentioned in Revelation 12:5-6: “… she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to His throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”  If, indeed, this may be applied to the Flight to Egypt, it would appear that the 1260 days (3 ½ years) added to about 1 ½ years in Bethlehem, would make Jesus at least 5 years old when the Holy Family returns to Nazareth, even older if significant travel time or delay is accounted. Therefore, it seems at least some education was possible in Egypt, reading and writing being most basic, perhaps even languages. It is interesting to muse how Moses also received education as a child in the House of Pharaoh, and the parallelism to God’s calling His Son(s) out of Egypt.

Was Jesus “Home-schooled?

ScreenShot699There is one other point, outside of the Canon of Scripture, which may still point to an education for the young Jesus. In the Protoevangelium of James (not part of the approved Canon, perhaps being unnecessary or perhaps containing some unidentified error), Mary is reported to have received education living in the Temple at Jerusalem, from age 3 to age 12, when (following the priestly directives) she was betrothed to Joseph, a widower with children of undisclosed age, and she left the Temple.

Keeping in mind that this book is not part of the Canon of Scripture, nevertheless, one notices references to what we already know in details surrounding the birth of Christ, such as the prominent role of Zachariah, but adding details, especially of Mary’s parentage, Anna and Joachim, figures named in a long tradition.

If, then, Mary received education during nine years living in the Temple (and why would she not?), it is hard to imagine that she would not have provided at least a basic education to Jesus, as well as spiritual training. Let the case rest here. Much that is hidden will someday be revealed.

Click to read further the excerpts from the Protoevangelium of James.
Read the rest of this entry »


Was Jesus illiterate? Part I of II

August 22nd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

First of a two-part post on whether or not Christ could read and write.

Recently, at a local garden party, I met a somewhat well-known Rochestarian who, within five minutes of introduction, had strongly asserted to me that Jesus had been “illiterate.” I have no idea why I was singled out to receive that missive, other than I’ve been facilitating a neighborhood bible study since 2014. The comment first provoked my surprise, and then my opposition to the premise. While I didn’t get the opportunity to list all my objections, it still seems worthwhile to archive the objections, and to give others the opportunity to respond. The Bible is a good place to start, where we have incidents of Jesus’ reading and writing.

Refutation from Sacred Scripture: Reading

According to Luke 4, 16-19, at the beginning of His public ministry, Christ went to Nazareth and read from the scroll in the synagogue. The New American Bible (NAB) uses the term “scroll” and the Revised Standard Version (RSV) uses “book” in the translation. In the Greek, the word is “Biblion”.

He came to Nazareth, where He had grown up, and went according to His custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’ Rolling up the scroll, He handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at Him.” (NAB) 

ScreenShot689The person premising the illiteracy to me argued that Christ had either memorized the passage, or was given the text phonetically (which would still require some kind of reading!) I am of the opinion that neither of these explanations refutes the argument that Christ could indeed read, and did read from the scroll, just as the text is presented to us, without deception. The pains Luke took in writing his Gospel to have Christ unroll the Biblion, to find the passage, to read it, to roll it up again, and to hand it back to the attendant all argue in favor of actual reading and not merely delivering a memorized excerpt. To fake reading would require deception not attributable to Him, Who is “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.”


Further, Luke identifies his own task (Chapter 1, 1-4) “to compile a narrative … just as …  delivered to us by … eyewitnesses … to write an orderly account … that you may know the truth.” There would seem to be no reason for Luke, having committed to such a challenge, to be unfaithful to his mission three chapters later.

Refutation from Sacred Scripture: Writing

Jesus wrote when He was presented with the woman caught in the act of adultery. In John, Chapter 8: 3-9, we read:

“The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do You say about her?” This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once more He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again’.” (RSV)

ScreenShot690What possible reason could there be to “contrive” Christ’s writing if He did not do so? Could not He have verbalized whatever He supposedly wrote, rather than writing it? Why would He choose to write?  There is some ‘understanding’ beyond the Scripture that He was writing sins, and by reminding them of their sins, the leaders who advocated stoning the woman left “one by one, beginning with the eldest (presumably with more lifetime sins.)”  Perhaps what we are seeing here is a gentleness of Christ, in not calling sins aloud, and embarrassing each person who left, but giving each the opportunity to leave quietly. Such an explanation (a kind of ‘seal of confession’) contributes even more to the opinions of those who believe He was writing down sins. Thus, the writing of sins might have been to protect even the accusers from individual identification of their sinfulness. The larger meaning, of course, brought home by the fear of being judged oneself, is that we are all sinners, and none of us should judge the other.

A Hidden Meaning?

Yet there is more to discover in Christ’s writing, than whatever it was He wrote, something which generally seems to be missed in preaching on the text. Was not Jesus also pointing to His own divinity and right to judge under the Law? Was He more than pointing? Was He actually manifesting His Sonship of His Father, the Almighty Lawgiver?  Doing what He sees His Father do (John 5:19)? There is an argument to be made in this regard; a possible potential hidden meaning.

Christ was “in the temple area teaching” when the Pharisees brought the woman to Him. Christ bends down to write. The text leads one to think that Christ is writing into sand, yet the ground in Israel is very hard. The Greek word for sand is ’ammos, and it does not appear in this text. Sand in the public areas also would inevitably be dragged from the more public places into the holier places, in a sense defiling the Temple by bringing what the Gentiles walked through into the inner courts. Rather, it seems likely that the ground within the temple area was hard, like stone or coral. The translation of the passages regarding Christ’s writing say He was writing ‘on’ the ground. The “ground” onto which Christ is said to write is ge in Greek, carrying the meaning most often of earth, and then of land. But how did Christ write “on” the ground? (Not with a magic marker!)

The Greek Scripture says He wrote:  “eis ton ge”  or “into the ground”. The first word, “eis”, appears 1774x in the New Testament, and in its most frequent use (573x) means “into.” It only means “on” 58x. Moreover, in the Gospel of John, it almost always means “into,” so why not in the verses about Christ’s writing “on” the ground? What seems to be missing may well be that Christ was actually writing “into” the ground, into the very hard ground that no solely human finger could penetrate. However, caught in their own concerns, to trap Jesus, to deliver the woman to stoning, and then for their own sins, the Pharisees once again missed the most obvious.

The first set of tablets of the 10 Commandments, given on Mt. Sinai, was carved in words by the finger of God. So it makes some sense to think that Christ’s writing was either specific sins or the commandment ScreenShot691transgressed, even though we do not know exactly what Christ wrote. Whatever the words, the finger of God cutting into stone is a hard image to ignore, a striking manifestation to miss of God’s own law-giving:

John 8:6a: “…Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger [into?] the ground.”

John 8:8:  “And once more He bent down and wrote with His finger [into?] the ground.”

Exodus 31:18: “And He gave to Moses, when He had made an end of speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”

Deut 9:10: And the LORD gave me the two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.”

In Part II, we will look at whether or not it is even “logical” that the Son of God was unable to read and write.


Is it time to re-instate the Index for the good of souls?

August 18th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Liberalism is a Sin begs the question of whether or not some type of Index is needed. With the distorted secular education being force-fed, the loss of faith-based schooling, and the accelerating increase in information (true or fake) and associated technology, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the reliable from that which is not. A publication from 1899 provides some fodder for the discussion.



Consider, for example, Chapter 29 of Liberalism is a Sin entitled “Liberalism and Journalism,” vis à vis  Real and Fake News. Just a point for further discussion. Burning at the stake (author or book) not necessarily required or implied.

(While the Index of Prohibited Books was the exact list of books forbidden for Catholics to read, a more modern version might simply be the availability of such a list and the reasons for something to be included. Sort of a “not recommended” list and why.)


St. Bernard’s On the Road – YOTE

August 5th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From St. Bernard’s facebook page (p5 of the album)

When describing the Eucharist, the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1328 indicates that the “the inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it.” We’ve taken these names and each of the following presenters has prepared a 45-minute lecture/discussion that explores both the academic and spiritual insights into the Eucharist. Designed for adult faith enrichment, interested parishes should contact…

If you haven’t yet read Bishop Matano’s pastoral letter announcing the YOTE, you can do so here.


What about Spiritual Medals of Honor?

August 1st, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

President Trump just made his first Medal of Honor award — to a true hero.

ScreenShot660To try to capture even a small part of what Vietnam War medic, Specialist V, James McCloughan of the US Army, did to deserve such recognition would inevitably understate his heroism. It is well worth the 21 minutes to view:

After the entrance strains of “Hail to the Chief,” the words from the podium came from John 15:13:  Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Christ said it; we believe it. And it is not difficult to see that martyrdom fits this description, if one is “friend” of God.

But what has a higher “value” than one’s own life? The answer is clear: one’s own soul!

But it seems that God does not accept that gift of sacrificing one’s own soul. Two instances arise in Sacred Scripture which are worth considering:

  • In Exodus Chapter 32, verses 31-33 provide some perspective.  After Aaron and the people had sinned in creating and worshiping the golden calf, Moses goes to God to try to obtain His forgiveness.  “So Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin–and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which Thou hast written.’  But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.’”  So Moses offered to give up his own eternal life and God refused the gift.
  • In Romans, Chapter 9, verse 3, Paul states: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race.” Paul, having the advantage of knowing what Moses said, and how God had responded, is more selective in the way he speaks, not to offend the God and giver of soul, yet still to write deeply of his love and care for the Jewish people. He “could” wish, though he seems not to so wish.

And, in these words, we confirm that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend; it is not acceptable to lay down one’s soul, though the soul is greater than the earthly life. Yet, life is often lived inconsistently with this truth. Parents would jump into the ocean to save a child (even if the parent can’t swim) but will not risk potential alienation by correcting that same child’s adult moral lifestyle decisions. Friends, who might risk their own lives to save a friend from a terrorist attack, are too afraid of losing the friendship to speak clearly against a friend’s planned abortion.  A preacher hesitates to condemn a sin from the pulpit, lest the capital campaign falter. The examples are numerous. Esau traded his spiritual heritage for a bowl of porridge; the absurdity continues into today’s values, and lack of values, in effect offering their own souls, and others’ souls for the porridge of having ‘nice’ relationships.

A medal of honor is indeed a time to ponder where the virtue of courage works in our own lives, where we place priorities, and how we value not only our souls, but the souls of those who need to hear truth. Awesome!


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – August 2017

July 31st, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your August 2017 calendar. Thanks to the good folks at for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

Also, here are the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for August:


That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.


Fellowship of St. Alban Welcomes New Pastor

July 29th, 2017, Promulgated by Administrator

ScreenShot656Finally! The St. Alban’s Fellowship (Catholics belonging to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter) has a priest assigned – the recently ordained Father Evan Simington. The Fellowship is devoted to the liturgical practice of the Ordinariate form of the Roman rite, “Anglican Use”, worshiping in traditional English liturgical and musical expressions of the Catholic faith. Anyone who has not yet been to Catholic worship in the Anglican Tradition (fully approved by the Vatican), will especially note the solemnity and sacrality of this Divine Worship. By attending, all Catholics also fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation. The Fellowship is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and part of the Latin rite.  The U.S. Ordinariate was established following the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus by Pope Benedict XVI and is under the protection of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Father Simington offers regular Sunday worship for their members and for all Catholics, at the historic Church of the Good Shepherd at 3318 East Henrietta Rd. on Sundays at 11:30 AM. This Sunday’s Mass will be for Craig Rideout and family. Confession is also available from 10:45-11:15 AM.

All are invited! Parish fellowship follows, with coffee and donuts. If you would like to make a request for Mass Intentions or you would like to add individuals to the Prayers of the People, please send your request to Please make sure that you send your email before each Friday 9:00 pm to ensure that your request will be received in time for the following Sunday.

Holy Day of Obligation:

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary   Tuesday August 15th at 6:30 pm.

Group Study of Dei Verbum:

Beginning on Wednesday August 2nd, Father Simington will be leading a group study of the Second Vatican Council document Dei Verbum: Regarding the Church’s teaching on Divine RevelationHeld at 1702 Empire Blvd., Apt. 7.

For more information, visit:


Please keep Father Simington and St. Alban’s in your prayers as they embark together on this next step of their mission.

Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Most Holy Eucharist (from the Ordinariate Divine Office)

LORD, most glorious Lamb of God, most tender Priest of man, we praise and glorify thee for the blessed Sacrament of thy Body and Blood, wherein thy servants celebrate the mystery of thy redeeming love and partake of thy spotless and immortal life; and we beseech thee that by this most holy Eucharist we may be made holy, and have our portion and inheritance among the Saints who have pleased thee from the beginning of the world; to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory and dominion world without end. Amen.


FOCUS (Catholic campus outreach) coming to the University of Rochester

July 28th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

FOCUS Expands to 15 New Campuses

This month, FOCUS is delighted to announce that the apostolate will be serving on 15 new campuses for the next academic year. In 2017 – 2018, more than 660 FOCUS missionaries will serve college students on 137 campuses.

Along with Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, teams of FOCUS missionaries will also go to Iowa State University, Indiana University, the University of Rochester — and even the alma mater of FOCUS Founder Curtis Martin: Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

What FOCUS does:

We’re a campus outreach that pursues college students with intentionality and love. We invite them into a growing relationship with Jesus and the Catholic faith, inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship and friendships in which they lead others to do the same.

NOTE: This FOCUS is not the same as the local pregnancy care center – they just happen to share the same name.


THEOLOGY ON TAP Summer Series 2017

July 26th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From St. Jerome’s bulletin:

THEOLOGY ON TAP Summer Series 2017

Summer Nights Four Pack for Catholics and friends in their twenties and thirties!

Monday Nights at 7:00 p.m. at The Otter Lodge, 1776 Monroe Avenue , Rochester, NY 14618.

August 7, 2017 – Beyond Left and Right: The Appalling Strangeness of Catholic Moral Teaching With Dr. Matthew Kuhner.

August 14, 2017: Love and Lies: Theology of the Body. With Michelle Kuhner, M.T.S. August 21, 2017 The Real Presence: I Believe…Do You? With Fr. Peter VanLieshout.

August 28, 2017: Discernment for Your Life: How to Recognize When God is Speaking to You With Sister Laurie Orman.

Theology on Tap is an opportunity for young adults to gather to discuss and reflect on issues of faith. Sponsored by the Diocese of Rochester Department of Evangelization & Catechesis.