Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Failed Leadership

September 25th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

I wrote  the following in 2009 soon after US Air Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River.  And I wrote it about what was happening in the parish I was in at that time. Given the current threats to the Church, I have been urged by friends to offer it again. Here it is, only minimally emended:

“Everyone involved in the Flight 1549 situation has been lauded, and justifiably so, and we rightfully give praise to such a Good and Gracious and Generous God who still does miracles, and allows us to learn from them. But there was one failure of leadership ‘in the air’ that has not generally been noticed; do you know what it was?  Well, the failed leadership was in the stubbornness of sticking to a flight plan when disaster loomed.  It was in the refusal to change course, to revisit assumptions, to ask for advice from others.  And it was in the failure of those who might have taken action instead of blindly ‘following the leader’.  Yes, the failed leadership was that of the lead goose, who took the flock to its destruction, sucked into the turbines and losing their own lives and putting many others at risk.  Did no member of the flock see what was ahead?  Had they no authority to depart from the plan, to act on their own initiative?  Did they squawk advice that was unheeded, or were they just silent?” Just what can or should a member of the flock do when he or she sees what is coming?”

Just what should we each be doing today, as a member of the flock, as we see the turbines up ahead?  Your thoughts and comments are most welcome!


What Really happened

                       What Really Happened ….

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“A bizarre papal move” by Robert Royal

September 16th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A friend called my attention to a column a few days ago in “The Catholic Thing,” to a recent article by Robert Royal.  Under a new policy, there will not be reply comments on that site (but such do remain on Facebook).  I appreciate the difficulty of tracking, editing, approving or not the reply comments given the large readership of “The Catholic Thing,” and the necessity to make that change.

It has been a dilemma for Cleansing Fire, too, to promote truth and discussion of what is most important in our lives, yet remain within the boundaries Christ expects of us. Different people will draw the line in different places.  Serious discussion is always welcome; uncharitable and ad hominem attacks are not.  One might argue for a little more laxness on enforcement when the matter is weighty and new ground is being broken, and perhaps less so when the reply is merely sniping. Again, we may each draw those lines differently.

The right to be able to discuss with each other those issues of most concern is provided to us under Canon Law. There becomes a point at which failure to exercise those rights, i.e. to ignore matters of great concern, becomes a greater failing that discussing, learning and deciding matters of conscience and perhaps risking offense to someone in the process.  It is all about motive and intent. But in the Body of Christ we do not have to stand alone.

For some matters, it reached that point for me, where to discuss is less offensive than silence, and I’ve hinted at that a bit recently.  Moreover, the book I wrote last December, debating matters with respect to the Pope’s Encyclical Laudato Si, was driven by a similar concern in the environmental arena.

Now Robert Royal boldly raises issues which I cannot help but bring to the attention of the Cleansing Fire audience if we are to have balanced views, share our thinking, and exhort each other to Truth and to what the Church has always taught. We must remain faithful, always. We are under crisis in the political environment, but also in the Church. Holy Mother Church has weathered many of these storms in the past. The Holy Spirit’s protection will prevail, but there is nothing in trusting in that protection which requires us to keep silence. Or not to pray.

The referenced article is entitled “A bizarre papal move.”  I think we can safely say that over the last three years concerns have been growing.  I am not saying I agree with everything he says, but I hope Cleansing Fire commenters will also reference articles they recommend — on both sides of the issue, and not simply hide out during the turmoil, or be fearful.  Christ clearly told us not to fear.  He also said “Be not anxious.”  Christ says this in 8 places in the New Testament … these exact words. And I think that is the spirit in which to seek information, discuss with brothers and sisters in the faith, and in which to pray. Eight references sounds more to me like a command than just a helpful suggestion.

My testimony and comment in reply to Royal’s article would be the following:  “We the Faithful (laity and clergy) have not been stupid for 2000 years, and we are not stupid today. Those who gave up so much for their faith, including their lives were not stupid either. We honor them too when we live the Gospel life.”  What do you think?


I intend to continue to embrace the words of St. Paul to the Galatians (Chapter 1; verses 6-12).  There is a reason that St. Paul, under the wings of the Holy Spirit, gave us these important words:


Gal 1:6     I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you

in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel–

Gal 1:7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you

and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

Gal 1:8    But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you

a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you

a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed..


Gal 1:11

Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?Or am I trying to please men?

If  I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.


For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached

by me is not man’s gospel.

Gal 1:12 For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through

a revelation of Jesus Christ.


The Annual CCHD Collection vs Conscience

September 11th, 2016, Promulgated by Administrator

Time to start thinking about the collection next weekend — the Annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)  in many of our Parishes. Personally, it gives me conscience problems to contribute to the notorious CCHD in any form. Would my donation  be part of the solution or part of the problem?  There seems to be little evidence that CCHD has cleaned up its act from what has been previously reported on Cleansing Fire and in a variety of other media.  So, I may just print out one or more of the following articles and drop it in the collection envelope.

If you want even more up-to-date information, try  It has the following text suitable for printing and dropping in the collection:

CCHD: 2016 It’s That Time of Year Again

ProLifeCorner-1-13-2016 – by Frank Munda

There is no denying that the Catholic Church in America is very generous with its financial support for the needy all throughout the world… and all across this country parishes will have their annual financial campaign for charity. Depending on the diocese, the names of these campaigns will vary. Sadly the one common denominator is many of these campaigns will include money for the Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Often The CCHD supports some organizations that are less than Christian and many of its tenets are to the point of being anti-Christian i.e. pro-abortion etc.  Unfortunately, to my knowledge many of the parishes continue to support CCHD and other radical groups.

Good people tell me “well everything that these campaigns support are not bad”, for example in one campaign they have a pension fund for retired priests. The problem is there is no way of separating the money that you donate. It goes into a general fund and then is distributed according to the amounts that have been previously awarded to each participant in the campaign.

We are not suggesting that you support or not support such a campaign.  However, we are suggesting that you study the issue, get all of the facts and then pray.  Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you to a proper decision. St. John Paul II said “you cannot do good with one hand and evil with the other.“ Whether you are a Cardinal, Bishop, priest, deacon, religious or a layman, know this: You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.

Meanwhile, here are a few articles from the Cleansing Fire archives, with associated comments:


USCCB pushes CCHD this weekend

Thursday, September 17th, 2015


More Deceit and Coverup from CCHD

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

 No Comments

CCHD – It’s worse than we thought

Friday, November 20th, 2009


A “Put Up or Shut Up Moment” CCHD Boycott

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009


Catholic Relief Services

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013


Following the Money

Sunday, July 7th, 2013


News re: Ad Orientem practice

September 9th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Don’t miss LifeSiteNews today:  Second USA bishop to adopt ‘ad orientem’ ….

Here are some excerpts to whet the appetite!

MADISON, Wis., September 7, 2016 … “Bishop Robert Morlino told parishioners at St. Patrick Church during his homily on Sunday that he would begin in October to offer Novus Ordo Masses facing the altar when he is town….”

Bishop Morlino

Bishop Morlino

“The local ordinary is one of the first bishops in the Church to respond after a call by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect for the Congregation for the Divine Worship in Rome, for Masses celebrated in the ancient tradition of facing toward God …. That form of worship had been the “common orientation” in Catholic liturgy for more than 1,500 years until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, when many priests took it upon themselves to turn around to face the people.”

“The bishop’s announcement at the Cathedral Parish was well received by the congregation there (his intended audience),” diocesan spokesman Brent King told LifeSiteNews …. we have received numerous notes of encouragement both from within and outside the diocese.”

“Bishop Morlino interjected humor into his homily … saying he knew the parishioners in attendance would be supportive, but ‘I say this a few other places I’ll  have to take both my hats off and duck’ referring to other churches in his own diocese…. But that will not stop him from encouraging the priests of his diocese to consider an ad orientem posture….”

“Bishop Morlino already requires seminarians in formation in his diocese to learn to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  In January, he ordered all of the diocese’s parishes to put the tabernacle back in the center of the Church, affecting nearly half of the parishes that had moved it to a side altar or separate room.”

“Please lead your priests and people towards the Lord in this way,” Cardinal Sarah asked. “Please form your seminarians in the reality that we are not called to the priesthood to be at the center of liturgical worship ourselves but to lead Christ’s faithful to him as fellow worshippers.  Please facilitate this simple but profound reform in your dioceses, your cathedrals, your parishes and your seminaries.”

“Cardinal Sarah and Cardinal (Raymond) Burke for years, and Pope Benedict XVI have made the point over and over again that according to God’s mind that His plan is that at the end of history He will come from the East like the rising sun, as we see in the Magnificat, as we see in the Psalms, as we see in the scriptures,” Bishop Morlino said in his homily. “… when the priest stands together with the congregation, not with his back toward them, that’s not the point. The point is that the priest stands together with the congregation and he faces symbolically at least the East. We become a mighty army marching toward the place of the rising sun to meet the Lord lead by the priest.  That’s who we really are.”

A Personal Reflection

Only in the last few months have I had the opportunity to attend an ‘ad orientem’ Novus Ordo Mass. I went more because I was curious than an advocate.  I already attend the EF Mass every Sunday (the Latin Mass Community at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit NY), which I greatly love, especially the awareness of immersing in what has been so many centuries of practice in Catholicism.  I expected the Novus Ordo ad Orientem to be like a halfway point between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, but was very surprised by what I experienced.

There is nothing “halfway” about the ad orientem Novus Ordo Mass. Rather, there is a sense of the priest standing before God on our behalf, like a highly respected military officer leading the troops forward, ready to take the first blow if lightning should strike.  He leads the way and we follow — in contrition, praise, sacrifice, thanksgiving.  There is a sense of being ever more respectful of the degrees of God’s privacy in the Mass (think about that one!) And there is an unexpected sense of community, all together, not as individuals watching, listening, reacting. I know — it can’t be explained; it has to be experienced.  I hope we’ll have many more opportunities for such experience.

Finally, I was surprised at first that Pope Francis seemed to step away from Cardinal Sarah’s worldwide invitation to the ad orientem Novus Ordo, and even a disclaimer of changes expected in Advent.  But I am seeing a heroism in Cardinal Sarah’s exhortation which will free those priests and bishops who just needed a little extra nudge.  The Holy Spirit continues to do His Work!!!

And for the naysayers who try to pit Pope Francis against Cardinal Sarah (and against Pope Benedict by implication) I offer the following picture of Pope Francis celebrating Mass ad orientem earlier this year:



Pro-Life Event

September 7th, 2016, Promulgated by Hopefull



This is one thing that keeps me Catholic.

September 4th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

web LMC FinalOne of the things that keeps me Catholic is the Church’s understanding and living out of the doctrine of the Incarnation: that God condescended to become man so that man might become God. This refers to the transforming effect of divine grace, the indwelling spirit of God, and the transforming affect of the atonement of Christ. It literally means that God becoming flesh transformed flesh to become more divine, more like God, or to take on a divine nature. At the moment of the Incarnation all flesh –indeed, the entire physical universe– was objectively made holy and capable of transmitting God’s grace and life.

By the Incarnation, humankind was really changed and not left as a pile of sin, as Luther, in his extreme teaching, taught.

People and their actions –as well as things like bread and wine, water, oil and other material things– became capable of communicating God’s graces, became capable of completing in one aspect what was “lacking” in the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ.

Catholic art expresses well the doctrine of the Incarnation. It often depicts transcendence by rich colors and details and patterns, serene expressions, or, the opposite– explosive exuberance. In worship, Catholicism employs smells like incense, sounds like the ringing of bells, heavenly chanting, kissing, bowing, processing, standing, kneeling –all aspects of being physically alive. It’s the material universe celebrating its redeemed status.

This is considerably different from some core Protestant teachings and practices which are suspicious of anything human or physical that could be seen as even having the potential for competing with God. In such teaching humankind is not changed by the Incarnation in any objective way. Some Protestant Churches that hold the “extrinsic justification” teaching dearly are often devoid of visual art and ritual, smells and bells. (Music and preaching, however, are sometimes exalted in such Churches.) Most mainstream Protestant Churches can be found somewhere in between the Catholic and more puritan versions of Christianity. The Orthodox, of course, are more with the Catholics concerning the impact of the Incarnation and we can see that in their emphasis on art and sensual liturgies.

In the end it is the Catholic understanding of the impact of the doctrine of the Incarnation that keeps me Catholic. Indeed, as local Catholic parishes divorce themselves from sacred art, chanting, incense and ritual, the more they push me into Orthodoxy.


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – September 2016

September 4th, 2016, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Apologies for posting this 4 days in…
It’s time to print out your September 2016 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:

Universal: Centrality of the Human Person

That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.

Evangelization: Mission to Evangelize

That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.


From Catholic University — New Wars of Religion

August 24th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Dr. Garvey

      Dr. Garvey

Please note the presentation by John Garvey, Esq.

President of The Catholic University of America,

on Thursday, September 15th

at 6:30 PM at Sacred Heart Cathedral.






Given Dr. Garvey’s stellar reputation,ScreenShot305 Program

it will surely be

an insightful and riveting evening.


As an alum, I especially look forward

to hearing his views on

“The New Wars of Religion”,

and hopefully to continue

 the discussion on this site,

with those who are interested.


Vatican Sex Ed–World Youth Day–child abuse?

August 9th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Two separate incidents have been brought to light by LifeSiteNews regarding what is difficult not to call “child abuse.” And one might go so far as to clarify the occurrences more specifically as “Sexual Abuse of Children.”  Here are the two incidents:

I’m not going to dissect the articles and make the obvious argument. I think with straightforward reading anyone should be able to see the intended seduction of young consciences, and interference in parents’ rights. Beyond these souls, these actions are, IMO, a direct attack on parenting, church teaching and the tradition of World Youth Day.  Once parents can no longer trust a WYD agenda or ‘safe environment’ the whole WYD structure will fall apart.

If this were to continue, Zika virus may be the least of the risks in Panama.


The Clarity of Cardinal Sarah’s Words — Part V

August 4th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This post is the final and fifth installment in the series from Cardinal Sarah’s book: “God or Nothing.”  Many of his points could be expanded, and would make excellent homilies / sermons.  

Priestly Pedophilia

“Pedophilia is one of the most abominable moral deviations.”

“I am quite aware of the fact that respect for the office of the priest may also have played a role in establishing a culture of silence…. The bishops who transferred pedophile priests from parish to parish to conceal their attacks behaved despicably.”

“A pedophile priest who says Mass commits a sacrilege … the priestly bond that attaches him to Christ is gone… Christ gave him all the means to carry out his priesthood, but he preferred to make a pact with the forces of darkness.”

After Vatican II

“…it was thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would dawn for the history of the Church.  What dawned instead was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties…. There has been an intervention of an adverse power.”

“Faith gives us certitude, assurance , when it is based on the Word of God … and … in conformity without reason and our human soul.”

“… yesterday’s sins have become virtues. The devil is finally celebrating because he is making substantial gains.  We must not have any doubt, however, because the definitive victory will be for God alone.”

“Unfortunately, the number of those who do not know Christ and do not belong to the Church is growing continually. It has almost doubled since the end of the Council.”

Does hell exist? (interviewer question). Purgatory?

“… hell exists through an unshakable will to cut oneself off from God.”

“… in the West, we have insolently dismissed the question of hell. But in Africa, we believe in the harmfulness of the forces of evil.”

Quoting Leon Bloy: “Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.”

Quoting Catherine of Siena: “If miserable men had any idea of what purgatory and hell are, they would prefer to die ten times than to endure such tortures for a single day.”

“Augustine … emphasizes that this trial that necessarily leads to paradise must not be imagined as an easy salvation, because it is very formidable.”

Evangelization, Christian Joy

“…whenever the joy of evangelization is not the heart of Christian life, we can only deplore a worrisome symptom of spiritual dryness.”

“Christian doubt is not a moment of despair but another declaration of love.”

“The only authentic Christian flourishing lies in the offering and gift of self for the cause of the Gospel.”

“If we do not clearly establish the basis for the missionary mandate in the Trinity, there is a risk of reducing the missions to multiple activities of  social nature … one fatal error would be to emphasize social, economic, or, worse, political work to the detriment of evangelization.”

“Evangelization takes place in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus….”

“Man is not born to manage his bank account; he is born to find God and to love his neighbor.”

“Acedia [sloth, apathy] is a sickness of the soul that is expressed in boredom, distaste for prayer, slackening or abandoning one’s penitential practices, neglecting the heart, and indifference toward the sacraments…. Acedia can also lead to genuine spiritual torpor. In moral theology, acedia is one of the seven capital sins.”

“A priest who is stingy with the time he spends on his flock is going through a real spiritual storm…. Fear, feverish activity, and vanity remain the fierce enemies of men who have given their lives to God.”

“When the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly.”

“The witness of the people is beautiful because it … expresses outwardly an intense interior life. Popular piety publicly manifests what Christ accomplishes in the secret depths of their hearts…. Popular piety is central to an authentic process of evangelization.”

“The first thing to do when laborers are lacking is not to apply our intelligence to restructuring a diocese, to reorganize the parishes by consolidating them…. Instead, it is necessary to pray that God will raise up many holy vocations to the priestly ministry and the consecrated life.”

“The suffering that can sometimes accompany missionary work is transformed into victory by intercessory prayer.”


“God is truth; through his Son, he intends to draw us toward this truth. Attachment to and love of the truth are the most authentic, the most righteous, and the noblest attitude that a man could ever want on this earth. Conversely , the absence of truth is man’s real poverty, for the rejection of the truth paralyzes and falsifies his activity.  Thus the man who is not in the truth of God finds himself a prisoner of his own ego….”

“Reverence for the truth is the true spiritual worship that we must render to God…. By building his life on the truth,… becomes a rock, because God is love and truth. He never disappoints.”

“… no one, not even the pope, can destroy or change Christ’s teaching. No one, not even the pope , can set pastoral ministry in opposition to doctrine. That would be to rebel against Jesus Christ and his teaching.”

“…people are increasingly becoming immersed in a virtual dimension because of the audio-visual messages that accompany their life from morning to night. [They] seem to want to fill every empty moment with music and images, out of fear of feeling its very emptiness…. it has reached a level such as to give rise to talk about anthropological mutation. Some people are no longer ale to remain for long periods in silence and solitude.”

The Synod Issue

Cardinal Sarah sets forth his refutation of the 2014-15 Synod discussion regarding the effort by some bishops to change Church teaching in order to allow the divorce/remarried (without annulment) to receive Communion, and he makes clear:

“It is not possible to recognize a new union as valid if the first marriage was [valid]”

“It is … an action that deliberately draws others into sin.”

“The grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of the Cross of Christ.”

“We observe more and more that man seeks to take the place of God…. If Eucharistic celebrations turn into human celebrations of ourselves and places where we apply our pastoral ideologies and partisan political preferences, which have nothing to do with spiritual worship that is to be celebrated as God wills, the danger is immense. For then God disappears.”

“…the question of “Catholics who are divorced or divorced and civilly remarried is not an urgent challenge for the Church of Africa or Asia. On the contrary, this is an obsession of some Western Churches that want to impose so-called “theologically responsible and pastorally appropriate [ref: Reinhard Cardinal Marx, president of the German Bishops’ Conference] solutions that radically contradict the teaching of Jesus and of the Church’s Magisterium…. Christ’s disciples must assert the demands of faith in Christ without reticence and without compromise, in theory and in practice, because they are the demands and precepts of God.”

“…it is not possible to imagine any conflict or tension whatsoever between magisterial teaching and pastoral practice. The idea of putting magisterial teaching in a beautiful display case while separating it from pastoral practice, which then could evolve along with circumstances, fashions, and passions, is a sort of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.”

“I therefore solemnly state that the Church in Africa is staunchly opposed to any rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and of the Magisterium.”

“The martyrs are the sign that God is alive and always present among us.”…”While Christians are dying for their faith and their fidelity to Jesus, in the West, men of the Church are trying to reduce the requirements of the Gospel to a minimum.”… “While hundreds of thousands of Christians are living each day filled with fear, some are trying to keep the divorced and remarried from suffering: they would feel discriminated against if they were excluded from sacramental communion.”

“Despite their ongoing state of adultery, despite their state of life that testifies to a refusal to abide by the Word that raises up those who are sacramentally married to be the revelatory sign of Christ’s Paschal Mystery, some theologians want to grant admission to Eucharistic Communion to the divorced and remarried [who] took it upon themselves to transgress Christ’s command….”

“For a baptized person to say that a de facto union, concubinage, or merely civil marriage can objectively be positive elements leading toward sacramental fullness is to try to rewrite the history of salvation backward!”(quoting Aline Lizotte, theologian, director of Karol Wojtyla Institute).

“How is it comprehensible that Catholic pastors should put doctrine to a vote: the law of God and the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, on divorce and remarriage, as though from now on the Word of God and the Magisterium had to be sanctioned and approved by majority vote?”  Men who devise and elaborate strategies to kill God, to destroy the centuries-old doctrine and teaching of the Church, will themselves be swallowed up, carried off by their own earthly victory into the eternal fires of Gehenna.”

“…the real scandal is … the confusion between good and evil caused by Catholic shepherds. If men who are consecrated to God are no longer capable of understanding the radical nature of the Gospel message and seek to anesthetize it, we will be going the wrong way. For that is the real failure of mercy.”

“I think that we should stop discussing this question like disrespectful intellectuals, giving the impression of disputing the teaching of Jesus and the Church.  Some Western governments, with great disdain for God and nature, are passing insane laws about marriage, family, and human life. For her part, the Church cannot behave frivolously in God’s sight.”

Africa Part II

“The soul of Africa always opens toward God … this continent has a fundamentally theocentric vision. Material concerns are always secondary… the African knows that he is only a sojourner.”

“If my land continues to suffer, it is because its springtime is continuing according to the divine plan.”

“…God often sends beautiful messages to those who truly love him.”

“The West urgently needs to set its sights on God and the Crucified Lord, to look on Him whom they have pierced”, to rediscover their trust in and their fidelity to the Gospel, to overcome its weariness, and to stop refusing to hear “what the Spirit says t the Churches”, even if they are African….”

In conclusion, let us end with a beautiful observation/prayer from Cardinal Sarah:

“In observing the poor, I too have learned to say, in poverty: ‘My God, I am glad about all the trials I have experienced, and I thank you in advance for all the ones yet to come. I hope they will help to bandage the wounds of the world.'”


“Holiness consists of living exactly as God wants us to live….”


Mark 13:14a ?

August 4th, 2016, Promulgated by Administrator

A friend of Cleansing Fire sent us the following link …. what do you think?



Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – August 2016

July 31st, 2016, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your August 2016 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:

Universal: Sports

That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.

Evangelization: Living the Gospel

That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.


The Clarity of Cardinal Sarah’s Words — Part IV

July 29th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris


“God’s Law, promulgated by Moses, contains the major principles, the absolutely necessary conditions for the spiritual survival of men.  All the prohibitions that it contains are a safeguard to prevent man from falling over the brink of evil into the abyss of sin and death.”

“This relentless campaign against life is a new, definitive stage in the relentless campaign against God’s plan. Nevertheless, in all my travels, I notice a reawakening of consciences.”

“The atheistic orientation of a life is almost always a decision by the will.  Man no longer wishes to reflect on his relationship to God because he himself intends to become God ….  strategy of appropriating God instead of adoring him.”

“The individualist universe comes to be centered solely on the person, who no longer tolerates any constraint…. Atheism is thus a decision to ignore reason…. Material well-being and immediate satisfaction become the only reason for living.”

“…atheism always leads to the same consequences. Man is treated as an object, cut off from his spiritual roots and blinded by the artificial lights of material goods or achievements….all atheism seeks to change the very nature of man….”

“Reversing the movement of insidious atheism that has carried off practically all of Western Europe, Orthodoxy has allowed the Russian nation to avoid the traps, so that now it is a country that makes significant room for God and Faith.”

“…Christians allow themselves to be influenced by this pervasive individualism…. Many expect, as something normal, that God should pour out his mercy on them while they remain in sin….”

“…the very fact of not believing is already the declaration of a repressed faith.”

Humanism and Philosophy

“…the moment God is no longer creator, man is debased…. Humanism that tries to ignore Christ empties out its own substance and becomes merely materialism…. Without a true humanism founded on Christ, man no longer understands himself.”

“The encounter between Greek philosophy and Christianity was a unique moment in the history of mankind…. Greek philosophy receives Christian baptism and is purified so as to become within the Church the servant of theology.”

“Greek wisdom cannot explain evil or suffering or redemption or hope.  Nevertheless, this thirst for divine friendship is still a marvelous attempt and a preparation for revelation, for the Logos.”

Is democracy an invention of Christianity?

“Indisputably…. But if democracy excludes religion, explicitly or not, it is no longer a good for the people, hence the constitutional State no longer is, either…. As always, the eclipse of what is divine means the debasement of what is human.”

“We are building a dictatorship of  relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

“Truth and love coincide in Christ…. Today relativism appears to be the philosophical basis for Western democracies that refuse to consider that Christian truth might be superior to any other.”

“…relativism drives man to create his own religion, populated by multiple more or less pathetic deities, which are born and die in response to impulses, in a world that is somewhat reminiscent of the ancient pagan religions. In this totalitarian yoke, the Church loses her absolute character, her dogmas, her teaching, and her sacraments are practically prohibited or else diminished in their rigor and their demands. The Bride of the Son of God is marginalized, in a disdain that engenders hatred of Christianity, because it is a permanent obstacle.”

“Relativism is a widespread evil … it arbitrarily serves as a sort of charter for a way of communal life. Relativism attempts to complete the process of the social disappearance of God.  It guides mankind with an attractive logic that proves to be a perverse totalitarian system. The Church continues today the battle of Benedict XVI against the liquidation of God.  And this is a battle on behalf of mankind.”

Living in a secularized world

“Liberty without truth is deceitful; the absence of a moral connection between liberty and truth can only produce a form of anarchy.”

“Baptized persons have the duty to believe not only with their heart but also with their intellect.”

“A Godless society, which considers any spiritual questions a dead letter, masks the emptiness of its materialism by killing time so as better to forget eternity…. the more man forgets God, the more he observes himself…. Then, to delude himself, he puts on his make-up…. Without God, man builds his hell on earth.”

“According to the philosopher, since men could not remedy death, misery, and ignorance, they decided that it would make them happy not to think about them at all…. the search for different pleasures is connected to the abandonment of God…. Today we are confronted with one of the last stages of the civilization of diversion.”

“The search for power without God generates a greater susceptibility to the thirst for liberating illusions…. Christians will never succeed in overcoming the challenges of the world by appealing to political tools, human rights or respect for religious liberty….The violence against Christians is not just physical; it is also political, ideological, and cultural….”

“Now the refinements of evil are becoming ever more insidious.  A man who falls asleep for a moment must take care not to fall into a trap that is so pleasant that it is all the more formidable.”

Faith, Hope, Love, Prayer

“Hope is nothing other than Christian optimism…. Faith is the foundation of hope…. A distinguishing mark of Christians [is] …   they have a future … their life will not end in emptiness.”

“Without prayer there is no true joy…. Prayer is the source of our joy and serenity because it unites us to God, who is our strength…. Someone who relies on his own strength is always saddened when it declines…. a believer cannot be in sorrow because his joy comes from God alone. But spiritual joy depends on the Cross.”

“If God truly possesses us, if Christ abides in us, joy always returns.”

“…mercy demands truth, justice, and repentance. In God, mercy will become ‘forgiveness.'”

“God… casts his Heart upon our misery…. God rejoices to forgive us.”

“True prayer leads to a sort of disappearance of our personal clutter.”

“…for a long time I have thought that prayer can take shape only in the night.  In  darkness, we are illumined only by God…. it is important to learn to pray in the middle of the night, while all creation is seeking sleep. Prayer at night plunges us back into the darkness of the death of Jesus Christ…. Through prayer we resemble Christ, who loved to be recollected all night.”

“… contemplation is actually an intimate conversation with God in silence and solitude…. Christ’s sacred humanity is always the way by which to arrive at God: to allow him to speak in the silence, before the Blessed Sacrament, looking at a crucifix ….”

“The man who contemplates and encounters his Creator will never be the same again … part of his soul has already arrived in heaven.”




July 27th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

If I do not speak out, my silence will be a lie.

(A message to someone special who just doesn’t understand.)



July 15th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris



Sometimes an argument is so totally off-base that one must wonder if indeed it is a joke.

Sometimes blindness descends under such heavy veils that one wonders if Light can ever penetrate.

Sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start.  At those moments, Aaarrrgghh! has to suffice.


If you have any stomach at all for the rightly shunned Huff-Post (I don’t) one article will cure the fatal attraction, and at the same time clarify what is really wrong in the world.

And, here it is:


On Second Thought….

July 8th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Stated as simply as possible, I am disappointed in today’s Church Militant which I received shortly before noon.  Fortunately, the transcript is very helpful to make sure the words are exact, eliminating the need for a lot of replaying and transcribing.  But I am disappointed in the approach which Michael Voris takes in: “Rome Be Damned.”

I have been a St. Michael Media donor and a Michael Voris supporter for years, cutting them both a lot of slack because of the new and difficult ground they have broken, for timely news stories and for generally pursuing the truth.  For example, I thought their Synod coverage was excellent; it is always most difficult to be first in risky ventures, and I respect their effort.  I have sometimes defended a questionable tone as being needed in order to make a strong and clear point. Has Church Militant been charitable enough?  I can’t judge, but I haven’t heard Michael call any groups “a brood of vipers” or “whitened sepulchers.”  And I have even written to Michael a few times to thank him for being an inspiration.  In that spirit, I find the following difficult to say, but necessary.

Today’s show concludes: Attacking the Pope is the easy way out. The carpet bombing of Rome deflects form [sic] the real issue. It’s the disobedient bishops.”  Well, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, a bishop not so long ago, was elected Bishop of Rome by other bishops (Cardinals), most of whom still hold office. One cannot isolate the Pope from the collective work of his bishops, especially after three years, and it is unclear why Church Militant seems to be making an effort to do so.

There is no reason why disobedient or faithless or heretic bishops should surprise us.  From Paul’s words in ACTS 20:29 (” I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; ….”) to the oft-repeated allegation of Pope Paul VI that the smoke of Satan has entered the Church, the attack on the Body of Christ continues. Further, we had a reality show demonstration during both sessions of the Synod, with many bishops and cardinals openly advocating violation of Catholic Doctrine to brother bishops and to the Pope himself.  They were given the podium from which to speak; they had no need to seize it, or nail theses to the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica.  It is no news that such division will continue to the end times. Yet, the Holy Spirit has not abandoned the Church and will turn evil to good.   (More about that on another day.)

The Right of the Laity to speak up for their Faith

Voris admits that Pope Francis has made “ill advised comments” but calls the Catholic response “bellyaching.”  No, Michael, they are exercising their rights and duties in Canon Law. They are doing what you yourself did not that long ago.  Michael may be right that [some of] the bishops are the main problem, but Pope Francis was and is a bishop too, but he is the only one who has authority to bind and loose.  Admittedly, having authority and knowing how to use it effectively are two different things.  But even lack of effectiveness is no excuse for abandoning duty, on the part of the lay person or on the part of a Pope.  For the laity to say nothing and to do nothing in defense of the Faith, in support of brave prelates like Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Athanasius Schneider and, this past week, Archbishop Chaput, among a number of others, is to cower at the task to which we are called. I personally do not see anything inappropriate in 1) opposition by Catholic moms’ being analogized to ‘rabbits,’ 2) concern about the abandonment of discernment in the words “Who am I to judge?” 3) push-back against “apologizing” to any sinners, including those pursuing a ‘gay’ lifestyle (the Faithful are the ones owed an apology) or 4) resistance to any proposed tolerance for reception of the Eucharist by persons in a state of adultery, and much more.  The laity absolutely has the right to defend their Faith, and it should NOT be demeaned as “bellyaching.”

Michael states as argument: “… this is just one danger: The notion forms in people’s minds that everything in the Church that is wrong can be solved by the Pope, any Pope just ordering it to be fixed.”  That is quite a strawman.  A non-sequitur at best. The argument then quickly devolves to the laity’s saying nothing because a Pope can’t achieve anything. Personally I don’t think that is what Christ had in mind when he named Peter “Rocky.”

Voris states: “There is a rebellion in the ranks of the bishops against the traditional faith.”  That hardly becomes a reason to do nothing.   Instead it becomes a solid reason for prayer, exhortation and papal action. Not the opposite. Voris says: “A Pope cannot simply sack thousands of bishops around the globe. This problem has become institutionalized, metastasized into a horrible illness over the past hundred-plus years.”    But the Pope is not without power; he can change Canon Law ‘for St. Pete’s Sake’: he is the Executive, Legislative and Judicial head of all three Vatican powers. He can subdivide dioceses to provide better leadership, he can change retirement ages, he can change judicial process to bring cases to a conclusion he wants.  Just ask the Bishop of Bling.  But if Pope Francis really wanted to implement change by reforming bishops, would he have Cardinal Wuerl and now Archbishop Cupich controlling nominations for new bishops in the U.S.?

But it isn’t about Pope Francis

This post isn’t about Pope Francis, but rather about Church Militant’s seeming to step back from the front lines, and criticizing those who remain in the skirmish.  I’m not going to reiterate the accusations one-by-one in today’s Vortex, and there are many. I’ll just choose one, close to home. Michael states: “…for the so-called traditional blogs out there that fancy themselves the saviors of the Church, get real. All your incessant bile creates is worse conditions for any future cleaning of the Church because you have now created and inculcated a culture of suspicion surrounding whoever the next Pope will be.”  Unfortunately, Michael does not extend the generosity toward motive that has been so often extended to him, even by some writers whom he inspired and others with whom he had disagreed.  He continues: But writing articles on some obscure bishop in some B- or C-level diocese who punishes his priests who want to say the Novus Ordo Mass facing East won’t get you nearly the clicks that a headline like “Anti-Christ Pope Still a Heretic.”  Out of curiosity, I Googled that very headline to see who had said it.  The only reference I got was to Church Militant.

Michael also presents a theoretical ‘action plan’ and asks if it were ordered by the Pope Do you really think your local bishop in your local diocese, …  would give it the slightest attention?” My answer, if it is completely faithful to Church Teaching, is that in Rochester, with a faithful bishop in Bishop Matano, yes I really do believe he would give it attention. I note all the reforms His Excellency has already, quietly but persistently, made.  I would be far more skeptical of the USCCB.  I remember reading the criticism of national conferences for their lack of courage in the Ratzinger Report. Individuals have courage, not organizations.

Unfortunately, taken in its entirety, the Church Militant presentation “Rome Be Damned” seems to me to cause far more discouragement in the laity, limiting their role in the Church to silence in the status quo, rather than much of what Michael Voris has offered for years.  Pushed to its logical conclusion, such suppression of interest and involvement through lay commitment, and the belief in ‘making a difference,’ will virtually eliminate the role of the laity in evangelization, even though I don’t believe this result is intended. Yet, it seems an inevitable excuse.  I can’t know what is behind this shift in Church Militant, but only that we need to remind ourselves and our brothers and sisters in the Faith, that we are not called to be successful, but to be Faithful. Courage is a virtue, not fear. Perseverance is a virtue, not sloth. Many bloggers sincerely care about the Church, and offer their time and efforts for free, to do work in which they believe. It is difficult to imagine any benefit that could be achieved by being in competition with each other, rather than all just acting out of love for Holy Mother Church.

(minor revisions made: July 9, 2016)


Celebrate Ad Orientem; Kneel for Communion

July 5th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Read LifeSiteNews on Cardinal Sarah’s address at a conference on liturgy:


“One such abuse he mentioned was when priests “step aside to allow extraordinary ministers distribute Holy Communion” which for many priests was thought to be a way of allowing lay people to participate in the Mass in a substantial way.  Rather, said Cardinal Sarah, “This is wrong, it is a denial of the priestly ministry as well as a clericalisation of the laity.”

“And so, dear Fathers, I ask you to implement this practice wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people.  Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year… may be a very good time to do this. Dear Fathers, we should listen again to the lament of God proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “they have turned their back to me” (2:27). Let us turn again towards the Lord!”


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – July 2016

June 30th, 2016, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your July 2016 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 July:

Universal: Indigenous Peoples

That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.

Evangelization: Latin America and the Caribbean

That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.


Well said! May it also be well done!

June 26th, 2016, Promulgated by Hopefull

Today’s NCRegister on line had an article which I have not come to expect in the Register, but I was delighted to see it:

The article is a book review entitled: “US Churches Revive Respect for Rituals” by Joseph Pronechen:

Here are a few highlight sentences to whet the appetite:  

“In his recent book Signs of the Holy One: Liturgy, Ritual and expression of the Sacred (Ignatius), Father Uwe Michael Lang says that the post-Vatican II tendency is primarily to focus on the revision of the texts with “insufficient regard for the complexity of the ritual.”

“…Father Lang points out that changes, especially abrupt ones, can signal that observing them “was not so important after all.” As evidence, he points to how many churches moved their tabernacles from a “central position at the high altar of the church to a peripheral place in the sanctuary or even to a side chapel” — or even out of sight. “The message was conveyed that it had become less important for the worship and life of the people.”

“Unfortunately, often in the post-conciliar period, beautiful churches — magnificent edifices built with nickels and dimes of the poor and enhanced with beautiful colors — were “done over in white, and sometimes there was more design in a McDonald’s restaurant than in these after renovation,” Father Philipps said.”

Read more:



Saint Pius Tenth Rebuild Design is Catholic

June 25th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie


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Plans and drawings for a new church have been created and presented to Saint Pius Tenth parishioners (see the official “Rebuild” page HERE).

In Summary:

  1. The exterior looks like a church.
    1. It looks like a Catholic church.
      1. It employs a traditional hall-basilica plan with clerestory windows.
      2. It makes use of a figurative “rose window” in the front facade, reminiscent of Gothic churches from our Catholic tradition.
      3. A covered walkway across the exterior of the front suggests a medieval Romanesque cloister, an aspect of our Catholic monastic heritage.
  2. It is clearly orthodox in its arrangement.
    1. The altar is the focus of the entire interior space. It does not share equally with a pulpit and it is in the center of the chancel, not off center as some Rochester churches have located it.
  3. It is orthodox in its imagery. The meaning and understanding of the Mass as the sacrifice of Calvary made present is clearly communicated by appropriate imagery.
    1. A large prominent crucifix is suspended above the altar.
    2. The altar looks like an altar of sacrifice and not just another table (it is solid with appropriate imagery)
    3. The mural-like Last Supper scene reminds us of the institution of the Eucharist (the Last Supper as “making present” beforehand the sacrifice that was to follow on Good Friday).
    4. The “sky” above the Last Supper scene is filled with angels suggesting the simultaneous celebration of the heavenly hosts.
  4. It is Catholic.
    1. The tabernacle is situated in a central and prominent location.
    2. There is an abundance of prominent orthodox imagery that predisposes worshipers to receive the graces of the sacraments.
    3. the altar looks like an altar and not just a table.
    4. There is at least some sense of hierarchy: the chancel is raised higher than the nave by the traditional 3 steps. The celebrant’s chair and tabernacle are further raised another step higher.
    5. It would appear from the drawings that the figures and scenes will be rendered in a natural manner: not grossly distorted/abstracted or overly realistic. A sense of redeemed or “divinized” nature will be communicated by way of the rendering of the figures. If the “mural” will be on etched glass the impression of transcendence will be further enhanced.

I wish there was a ciborium or baldacchino over the altar.

It is interesting, I think to compare the Saint Pius Tenth plans with the ones for the proposed chapel at Saint John Fisher College that I reviewed, HERE.