Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Please don’t touch my tongue — comments?

July 4th, 2017, Promulgated by Hopefull

I think it is time to post on something relevant to the Year of the Eucharist, and to encourage comments on a subject for which almost every communicant seems to have an opinion, and nobody is saying anything. First, let’s say what this is not — it is not about changing any church policy.  It’s not about any particular church or priest. It’s more about awareness and care, and ultimately even more reverent reception of the Eucharist.

To recap current practice, and risk oversimplifying:

1) the Novus Ordo (OF) permits receiving the sacred host in the hand or on the tongue, and allows the celebrant to offer the Precious Blood to the congregation, or not.  Most (but not all) parishes long ago ripped out their altar rails, making kneeling or rising again from the floor of the church, unaided, difficult for some of us. Therefore, Novus Ordo communicants principally receive communion by standing in line.

2) the Latin Mass (EF), while not widely available in most dioceses, in my limited experience, only makes the sacred host available on the tongue, kneeling, at an altar rail or kneeler where available.

What I want to dialogue about here is tongue-touching. It’s bad enough from a priest, but from the lay Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion in the Novus Ordo, positively yucky — IMO. It must be yucky to them too! (It was for me, when I was a “Eucharistic Minister” as the title was in those days.) Of course it does not change WHO we are receiving, nor the awesome gift of the Eucharist, but it is a distraction at a moment when we most want to be recollected, thankful, intimate with the Lord. (And even thinking “Please, don’t touch my tongue” is, itself, a distraction.) For the most part, I think tongue-touching is unnecessary, could be avoided with a bit more awareness.

Pope Benedict’s Preference:

During Pope Benedict’s last visit to the US he gave Communion on the tongue and only to recipients kneeling. See excerpt below and picture from the Vatican Website:

That fact alone makes receiving on the tongue worth considering, even for diehard “in the hand” communicants.

Three observations:

  1. When the smaller hosts began to be used, I wondered if it were a plot to force us all to receive in the hand. The incidence of tongue-touching increased, it seemed, with use of the smaller host, understandably so. I don’t really see any good reason for the smaller hosts, except perhaps for First Communicants?
  2. It appears to me that the OF moving Communion line introduced more risk of dropping the Eucharist, even when someone is receiving in the hand. And bowing, saying “Amen” before the host is received, then quickly getting out of the way for the next person is, in itself, a distraction. I actually think the priest walking down the line at the altar rail is quicker, without rushing the communicant, but I’m not sure there is less tongue-touching, as the priest may have a more obscured view, a greater distance from his eye to the communicant’s tongue, than in the communion line. (BTW — I was instructed in growing up with the Latin Mass NOT to rise until the person beside me had already received for two reasons: 1) to avoid stumbling, falling into the priest or onto the Eucharist, but 2) also to avoid distracting the person receiving. Sometimes, with kneelers, it isn’t possible to delay.)
  3. In the last few years, I’ve noticed (again, in my limited experience) that there are two ways of placing the host on the tongue. The most common way is that the priest’s index finger is below the tongue, and his thumb above. Virtually all the tongue touching experiences I’ve had were in this configuration, underneath and out of the priest’s view. But the other configuration is with the thumb (just the tip of the thumb) on the bottom and the index finger on top. Although I’ve had no tongue-touching in this configuration, perhaps it isn’t common enough for any valid statistics? I’ve also noticed this configuration allows the priest to press gently on the host if there seems to be a danger of its falling.

So what do you think? And does it vary by whether we are in flu season or not? Or if your health is already compromised? Do you ever choose from whom to receive Communion based on your past track record with a particular priest or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion? Is it a distraction at Communion waiting for a wet finger jolt? Why does this seem to be too sensitive to talk about?


“Oh where have they laid my Lord?”

         On July 22, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene,         

the following clipping was added here:


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Sniff, sniff…. Smoke of Satan?

June 30th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This means fewer Masses will be celebrated, doesn’t it?

That’s not a good thing, is it?

Pray for priests.




June 27th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Somebody help me out here. I’m having a lot of trouble understanding this:




















Oh, Dear Lord, a friend just sent me the link.

This was done at St. John Lateran on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 18, 2017.

Christ have mercy.











Supplement posted June 30th: Thanks to “G.S.” for sending the following link, which explains a lot:

Originally, my concern was removing the Corpus of Christ from the Cross on — of all days — Corpus Christi! Now the link explains this is a commercial “thank you!” Double yikes! Doesn’t this open the door for all kinds of “thank you” gestures which are only thinly veiled commercials? Like the environmental color dance on the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica, where are the limits between God and mammon to be? “Chapel of St. Stephen brought to you by Saul’s Rock Quarry?” or “This confessional sponsored by “Piece of Peace Eternal Enterprises”? or how about “Sanctuary sponsored this month by Wholly Natural Foods, Inc.?”  STOP!

Mat 6:2-4: “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

And leave the naming rights and image promotion to the baseball and football stadia, puleeze!



DoR co-patron St. Thomas More

June 22nd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Today is the Memorial of the two patron saints of the Diocese of Rochester: St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. Often the former, the only Catholic prelate in England under Henry VIII to refuse to recognize Henry as head of the Church of England and thus be martyred, gets more attention than the family man who was martyred for the same reasons as Fisher. It was Sir Thomas More, knighted, who was also martyred and shares today’s remembrance.

From the Tower of London, where St. Thomas More was imprisoned, he wrote with charcoal his famous words of finding forgiveness for even the most heinous crimes. Here are his memorable words, reprinted in his book “The Sadness of Christ”:





Finally — Dubia moves forward!

June 20th, 2017, Promulgated by Hopefull

Dubia moves sadly, but relentlessly forward.


Domine Non Sum Dignus

June 17th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The Year of the Eucharist in the Diocese of Rochester begins on Sunday, June 18th, the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi. One element of “change” which will be seen by attendees at the Novus Ordo (Ordinary Form) Mass in English, from now on, will be the congregation’s kneeling right after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), and just preceding the “Lord, I am not worthy…”), aka the “Domine non sum dignus.” But is this really a “change?” Yes and no. It is a “change” back to former practice in the DoR and a change to the current widespread practice in the Catholic Church; but it actually is a RESTORATION of a practice that reflects the humility with which we should approach the sacred Body and Blood.

When I researched this issue a few years ago, I remember that there were only five dioceses in the country which did NOT kneel after the Lamb of God. And Rochester was one of those five. I was delighted to find at least one place in the DoR during all those years in which the practice was not absent at this holy moment — the Carmelite Monastery!

ScreenShot600It is annoying and distressing to read in bulletins or to hear that “Bishop Matano is asking us to now kneel after the Lamb of God.” Rather, he is restoring a former practice, not willy-nilly instituting his own personal wishes. What an especially wonderful time to restore — at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist! It is a blessing for this diocese and its people to ELIMINATE a sad practice of not bending our knees to the Lord at such a solemn moment.


But do listen carefully to the words from the pulpit, ScreenShot601and in reading of bulletins.

It is not a capricious change.

It is a restoration of a sign of honor and glory to God.

How is it being implemented in your parish? Drop us a comment!



Prayers needed!

June 12th, 2017, Promulgated by Hopefull

I was shocked by this article. All my experience with African Priests has been so positive; this article boggles my mind. When in doubt — PRAY!



Vatican Anathema Hurled at Trump …

June 7th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

… for Heresy against the Environmentalist Religion

by Christopher A. Ferrara
June 2, 2017

Thanks to PG for sending this link to Cleansing Fire


This will also pave the way for euthanasia ….

June 5th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Thanks to JL for the heads up on this grievous situation squashing Catholics in the Public Square:
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today (6/4/17) is criticizing the Bay State’s four Catholic bishops for imposing an immediate ban on signature gathering on church property. The likely target of this decision, and the one to suffer the most deleterious impact, is an initiative petition campaign sponsored by two pro-life organizations, the Massachusetts Alliance To Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortion and the Renew MA Coalition.
The effort, led by Attorney Thomas M. Harvey, is aimed the passage of an initiative amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution which would overturn the 1981 Moe v. Hanley decision by the Commonwealth’s Supreme Judicial Court, which created an even more expansive right to abortion, and the public funding of abortion, than that guaranteed by Roe v. Wade.
To get on the ballot, the campaign needs the certified signatures of nearly 65,000 registered voters in the Commonwealth. The most favorable venue for signature gathering for this effort is the front of Catholic parishes. Both the Archdiocese of Boston and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference sought to hamper this campaign during its first attempt in 2015.
In their directive, which removes all discretion from individual pastors, the bishops assert that they received “overwhelming feedback from parishioners” opposed to signature drives on church property. They also said that “Church functions are a place to experience the fullness of community and parish life. In particular, Holy Mass is a place to encounter God through the reception of the Eucharist. The celebration of Holy Mass is a place for prayer, reflection, Reconciliation and hope.”
The directive was signed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and the Bishops of Worcester, Springfield and Fall River, the Most Reverends Robert J. McManus, Mitchell T. Rozanski and Edgar M. da Cunha.
The Catholic Action League is characterizing the directive as “a calculated act of obstruction, intended to sabotage an initiative which the archdiocese had previously opposed.”
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “The consequences of this improvident decision will not be content neutral. NARAL and MassEquality do not gather signatures in front of Catholic churches. The only persons disadvantaged by this will be faithful Catholics struggling to defend religious freedom, traditional morality and the right to life.”
“There was no attempt to ‘dialog’ with the groups adversely affected by this, nor was there any ‘transparency’ in the decision making process. This is, at least, the third time since 2008 that the hierarchy has sought to impede a referendum or initiative amendment by pro-life or pro-family organizations. What we are witnessing is another troubling example of the longstanding hostility which the hierarchy and elite Catholic institutions display towards grass-roots Catholic activists who would disturb the comfortable accommodation between the Church and the state’s liberal political culture.”
“Catholic institutions, with the approval and participation of the hierarchy, routinely confer honors and awards upon, and provide platforms to public figures opposed to Catholic moral teachings. Just last month, Cardinal O’Malley attended the Boston College commencement which featured U. S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a proponent of the public funding of Planned Parenthood.”
“The leader of the Campaign for Catholic Schools, and a major donor and advisor to the archdiocese is Obama fundraiser Jack Connors. The last Chairman of the former Catholic hospital system, Caritas Christi, was James Karam, a prominent supporter of Congressman Barney Frank. The longtime public relations firm for the archdiocese was Rasky Baerlein, founded by Larry Rasky, a close political ally of former Vice-President Joe Biden. The Cardinal’s Communications Director is Terence Donilon, brother of President Obama’s National Security Advisor, and a former aide to Rhode Island Governor Bruce Sundlun, a supporter of legal abortion.”
“The episcopate of Sean O’Malley has been characterized by an unprecedented public deference towards elected officials who reject Catholic moral principles. The late U. S. Senator Edward Kennedy and the late Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, were extolled as faithful Catholics by the Cardinal.”
“Current Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a NARAL award recipient and Planned Parenthood defender who said he wants to make Boston a sanctuary city for abortions should Roe be overturned, was given the Cardinal Cushing Humanitarian Award by the Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle, whose president is Cardinal O’Malley. This was done while O’Malley was serving as Pro-Life Chairman for the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
“Pro-life Catholics in Massachusetts have, for decades, faced a hostile media culture and political environment. Now, with this decision by the state’s Catholic bishops, their isolation has just increased, and their struggle has become lonelier. Shame on the bishops!”

Sword of St. Michael

June 4th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

SeScreenShot588            7 Sanctuaries linked by the Legendary Sword of St. Michael (Aleteia June 4, 2017)



The Power of Silence by Cardinal Sarah — Part II

May 27th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris


From Cardinal Sarah’s new book “The Power of Silence.” His words are especially relevant as he is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Paragraph 205:

“Today, some priests treat the Eucharist with the utmost contempt. They see the Mass as a talkative banquet where Christians faithful to the teaching of Jesus, divorced-and-remarried persons, men and women in an adulterous situation, unbaptized tourists who participate   in the Eucharistic celebrations of the large anonymous crowds can indiscriminately have access to the Body and Blood of Christ. The Church must examine with urgency the ecclesial and pastoral appropriateness of these immense Eucharistic celebrations made up of thousands and thousands of participants. There is a great danger of transforming the Eucharist, “the great mystery of faith”, into a vulgar county fair and of desecrating the Body and Precious Blood of Christ. The priests who distribute the sacred species while not knowing anyone and give the Body of Jesus to all, without distinguishing between Christians and non-Christians, participate in the desecration of the Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice. Those who exercise authority in the Church become culpable, by a form of voluntary complicity, in allowing the sacrilege and desecration of the Body of Christ to take place in these gigantic and ridiculous self-celebrations, where so few perceive that “you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor 11:26).


“Some priests unfaithful to the ‘memory’ of Jesus insist more on the festive aspect and the fraternal dimension of the Mass than on the bloody sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The importance of interior dispositions and the necessity of reconciling ourselves with God by agreeing to let ourselves be purified by the sacrament of confession are no longer in fashion today.  More and more, we conceal the warning of St. Paul to the Corinthians….”

“We live at the surface of ourselves too often to understand what we are celebrating. The lack of faith in the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ, can lead to sacrilege. Jesus is isolated by the growing hatred of the Pharisees, who form against him an increasingly stronger coalition, forcing his listeners to separate themselves from him. Some Christians are forming a coalition to separate Jesus and his doctrine from those who honestly seek the truth. He is more and more alone among men who hate him or do not know how to love him because they are incapable of knowing him as he is. But there will always be a little flock who will want to know him and love him.”

“It is imperative … to rediscover the Easter we celebrate in each of our Eucharists. The grace of Easter is a profound silence, an immense peace, and a pure taste in the soul. It is the taste of heaven, away from all disordered excitement. The Paschal vision does not consist in a rapture of the spirit; it is the silent discovery of God. If only the Mass could be, each morning, what it was on Golgotha and on Easter morning! If only the prayers could be as lucid, if the risen Christ could always shine in me in his Paschal simplicity …

(Robert Cardinal Sarah in The Power of Silence)


IMO: Of course there was interference in the election….

May 25th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

I have been saying to friends: “We should stop denying the allegations of interference in the elections. Of course there was interference, in the very best sense, God’s guiding care.” Why are we so reluctant to witness to His Presence in the whole event, but rather deny it, or worry about Russia or some other 3rd party who might be used by the Lord? What is amazing, and even amusing, is that so many of those who prayed and believe in God  deny that there was interference, (or don’t see it  as intercession or intervention);  but even the atheists sense a Hand was at work in the process. Their biases keep them from admitting it is God! But their “sense” is right on! I think we should acknowledge the allegation, for the sake of evangelizing witness.

If the differences between candidates were just personal opinions or strategy differences, I doubt there would be this feeling of interference.  But the issues are so polarized between sin on the one hand, and striving for obedience to God’s commands on the other, a charge of “interference” is understandable — as it was at Lepanto, when the winds shifted., and at Tarshish when the invading fleet was destroyed.

Let’s remember the words of  the Psalms:

Psalm 97:10 “The LORD loves those who hate evil; He preserves the lives of His saints; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”

Psalm 125:3 “For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous put forth their hands to do wrong.”


Primum Non Nocere: “First do no harm”

May 17th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Genesis 9:6

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His own image.”


Ponder this:

If government can’t carry out validly adjudicated death penalties because the chemicals which have usually been used are believed to cause excessive pain and inhumane suffering –

THEN why don’t those executioners use the chemicals being administered to the people who choose euthanasia (or have it chosen for them out of so-called ‘mercy’)? Or is the pain and suffering of those being euthanized one of the very dirty little secrets kept from them until it is too late?


Ponder that!

Could it be that even the chemicals used for euthanasia cause just such reputed excessive pain and inhumaneScreenShot570 suffering, and can’t hold up to the formality of ‘witnessesing’ required for execution? The witnessing in euthanasia is not as public as for an execution; rather it is private, administered in dark secrecy behind a hospital screen, or under the guise of insurance limitations, or as the fruit of a compromised Hippocratic oath, or under pressure from ‘merciful’ heirs, nursing the conflict of interest of their own inheritance?

  • How can there ever be an appropriate informed consent regarding the pain and suffering connected to the risk of using such chemicals on the very people who fearfully seek to escape pain and suffering?
  • Where is articulation of a moral high ground and its accountability and obligation to support life?  Those complicit in such ‘mercy’ killing (including those who enact laws or promote having a choice of euthanasia) would seem also to be the very people referred to in Genesis 9:6 as deserving of death themselves.
  • Why is information withheld that the true end of life from natural death can be pain-controlled without desperate, unrighteous, hideous, guilt-ridden measures?
  • Where is the understanding that freely chosen euthanasia may well be the only sin from which one cannot repent?  (Unless agony from the chemicals is a purgatory for some who may not have complete consent?)

From the Hippocratic Oath:

  “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.”   

What you may not know is that the current Hippocratic Oath has been severely modified to accommodate all of today’s secular values, even abortion and euthanasia.

What is “right” seems no longer to be the public argument, given the widespread moral blindness of the secular culture to so many offenses. But the ‘god’ of reason, practicality and effectiveness still commands attention. How do the fans of euthanasia explain the odd juxtaposition in our society of squeamishness about capital punishment (authorized after the flood for the crime of murder) to encouraging the sick to choose what seems to amount to just such capital punishment for themselves! Ponder that!  And then bring this argument to the attention of anyone who can make a difference, particularly state legislators!


Meanwhile, here are some links for background information:



Marker in St. Peter’s Square

May 13th, 2017, Promulgated by Administrator



The Power of Silence by Cardinal Sarah

May 6th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The Power of Silence by Robert Cardinal Sarah

ScreenShot568Just put “Sarah” into the search bar on Cleansing Fire and you will find, among other postings, a 5-part review of Cardinal Sarah’s book God or Nothing as well as one of the early references he made to writing The Power of Silence.

Finally! Cardinal Sarah’s latest book “The Power of Silence (against the dictatorship of noise)” is available in English, translated from the French, just in time to digest as fruitful summer reading! Anyone else who is reading the book and wants to add to the discussion is especially invited to do so. In the absence of interest, I probably won’t reprise the effort regarding the “God or Nothing” series, just add these few tantalizing tidbits.


Before detailing the verses which most spoke to me (just in part of Chapter 1), verses which highlight an understanding or provoke a reform, I do want to give a context for my own particular interest in and concern about the subject, at what I suppose is a rather mundane level compared to the soaring testimony of Cardinal Sarah. And that is the “disconnect” which I experience daily, between the Reality of the Mass and Communion and the behavior which follows around me, and which I don’t effectively resist by not being distracted, and sometimes even yielding and creating the distraction myself.

The coming of Jesus each time in the consecrated hands of the priest, the great gift bestowed daily by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, entrusting Himself in Communion wholly into the unholy, to call what is so imperfect to perfection, as the Heavenly Father is perfect — how does one even begin to make thanksgiving for so great a gift? How does one then presume to receive again tomorrow, and tomorrow’s tomorrow? How does one rise from the knees minutes later and begin to greet, banter and engage in such trivial conversation, distracting commentary, and interruption to the prayers of others? How dare I ever yield to the temptation, but I do – too often. I realize this is all a testimony to my own weakness, but that doesn’t mitigate the problem.  How can silence and respect for prayer and thanksgiving transition from the exception to the norm? How can we love each other enough to not be the source of interrupting each others’ Thanksgivings?

Nicolas Diat’s Role

To at least whet an appetite or two, I will give some excerpts from the very beginning of Cardinal Sarah’s new book. Well, almost the “beginning.” The Preface isn’t by the Cardinal at all, but by his colleague Nicolas Diat, who accompanied His Eminence to visit a dying monk in a Carthusian monastery (The Grande Chartreuse), where communication with a dying monk occurred in a strictly spiritual manner.  The flowering of such silent exchange manifests a level perhaps only suspected in modern day interpersonal relationships.  What is hidden in the exquisite silence is known fully to God Himself!  But what a Preface by Diat!  His outstanding perception of Cardinal Sarah’s intimate exchange prepares us for a deep exploration of silence in the spiritual life. Diat again accompanies Cardinal Sarah through the new book, framing questions and highlighting points, facilitating and emphasizing, as a worthy compadre on a transcendent journey.

Silence and Prayer

“The Power of Silence” is organized through numbered paragraphs of thoughts (like an encyclical)Power of Silence which makes reference and retrieval that much easier.  Diat writes in his preface what he considers the most important aim of Cardinal Sarah’s book, quoting from paragraph #68:  “Silence is difficult, but it makes man able to allow himself to be led by God. Silence is born of silence. Through God the silent one, we can gain access to silence. And man is unceasingly surprised by the light that bursts forth then. Silence is more important than any other human work. For it expresses God. The true revolution comes from silence; it leads us toward God and others so as to place ourselves humbly and generously at their service.” He adds, “The Father waits for his children in their own hearts.” (#5)

Cardinal Sarah writes: “Alas, the worldly powers that seek to shape modern man must systematically do away with silence. I am not afraid to assert that the false priests of modernity, who declare a sort of war on silence, have lost the battle.” (#6)  His Eminence picks up again in paragraph #12: “Silence is not an absence. On the contrary it is the manifestation of a presence, the most intense of all presences. In modern society, silence has come into disrepute; this is the symptom of a serious, worrisome illness. The real questions of life are posed in silence.”

Quoting Fr. Marie-Eugène de l’Enfant Jésus about the most silent depths of a person’s soul, Cardinal Sarah writes: “When he has reached there, he preserves with jealous care the silence that gives him God. He defends it against any agitation, even that of his own powers.” (#1) Cardinal Sarah reinforces the necessity of studying Sacred Scripture, saying: “…when it is listened to and meditated upon in silence, divine graces are poured out…. Actually, it is through long hours of poring over Sacred Scripture, after resisting all the attacks of the Prince of this world,  that we will reach God.” Moreover, I was interested to find a comment about those who study scripture but (IMO) throw stumbling blocks in their own way by not understanding, in a quote from St. John Chrysostom:  “Do not thou then inquire; but receive what is revealed, and be not curious about what is kept secret”, adding: “Let us accept it in silence and faith.” (#7)

In paragraph #14, there is support for the need for exterior as well as interior silence: “All activity must be preceded by an intense life of prayer, contemplation, seeking and listening to God’s will. … We must resist this temptation by trying ‘to be’ before trying ‘to do.’ This is the innermost, unchangeable desire of a monk. But it happens also to be the deepest aspiration of every person who seeks the Eternal One. For man can encounter God in truth only in silence and solitude, both interior and exterior.” Further, in paragraph 18, the author quotes Thomas Merton (The Sign of Jonas): “Exterior Silence – its special necessity in our world in which there is so much noise and inane speech. As protest and reparation against the ‘sin’ of noise.… Catholics who associate themselves with that kind of noise, who enter into the Babel of tongues, become to some extent exiles from the city of God. (Mass becomes racket and confusion…All prayer becomes exterior and interior noise – soulless and hasty repetition…) Though it is true that we must know how to bear with noise, to have interior life, by exception here and there in midst of confusion…, yet to resign oneself to a situation in which a community is constantly overwhelmed by activity … is an abuse. What to do? Those who love God should attempt to preserve or create an atmosphere in which He can be found.” (Makes me feel less guilty for having actually asked a few folks to be quiet!)

Cardinal Sarah writes further in paragraph #19: “…it is absurd to speak about interior silence without exterior silence…. The life of silence must be able to precede the active life.” Continuing in paragraph #20: “The silence of everyday life is an indispensible condition for living with others…. Silence is a condition for otherness and a necessity if one is to understand himself…. Silence and peace have one and the same heartbeat…. How is even one moment of prayer life imaginable apart from silence?”

The author compares noise to a drug on which one has become dependent.  In paragraph #21 he writes: “…noise is a dangerous, deceptive medicine, a diabolic lie that helps man avoid confronting himself in his interior emptiness. The awakening will necessarily be brutal.”

Regarding Certain Current Concerns?

“Some theologians in their presumptuousness and arrogance go so far as to assert personal opinions that are difficult to reconcile with revelation, tradition, the centuries-old Magisterium of the Church, and the teaching of Christ. Thus, highly amplified by the blaring media, they go so far as to dispute God’s design.” (#31)

Concerning the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI (quoted from Jean Guitton), Cardinal Sarah writes: “There is great turmoil at this time in the world and in the Church and what is in dispute is the faith…and it may happen tomorrow that this non-Catholic thought will become the strongest within Catholicism. But it will never represent the mind of the Church. A tiny little flock has to continue in existence, however small it may be.” (#31)

His Eminence also quotes St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:2: “…We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”  Cardinal Sarah continues: “It is a serious responsibility for every bishop to be and to represent the mind of Christ. Bishops who scatter the sheep that Jesus has entrusted to them will be judged mercilessly and severely by God.” (#31)

Continuing the thought into paragraph #32, Cardinal Sarah quotes the “Epistle to the Ephesians” by the martyr, St. Ignatius of Antioch: “Do not be deceived, my brethren. Those who ruin homes will not inherit the kingdom of God. Now, if those who do this to gratify the flesh are liable to death, how much more a man who by evil doctrine ruins the faith in God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified! Such a filthy creature will go into the unquenchable fire, as will anyone that listens to him.”


That is enough for now, to whet the appetite and to encourage others to read and share what touches them the most in Robert Cardinal Sarah’s writings. As Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Sarah fans the spark of the smoldering wicks, those who are precariously perched on the edge of losing faith, and gives us the encouragement that God does indeed dwell in the silence within, and urges us to find Him.

Belatedly, but ‘hot off the press’ from LifeSiteNews:



Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – May 2017

May 1st, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your May 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 May:

Christians in Africa.

That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.


Hypocrisy of Busing to Climate Change March

April 24th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Hypocrisy of Climate Change Advocates’ being Bused to a March (and more!)

There is something incongruous about being bused to a March in Washington D.C., with Catholic endorsement, to promote action on climate change, weather manipulation, and/or the emerging religion of global warming. For what reason do so-called environmental advocates choose to invest about 200 gallons of diesel fuel per bus to be driven (chauffeured, actually) from Rochester to Washington round-trip? The more buses, the bigger grows the carbon footprint. Obviously marchers traveling greater distances also use more fuel. So, perhaps 1000 buses averaging, say, 300 gallons of diesel fuel per bus, might equate to about 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel to protest for the environment! Surely that does not sound like the “ride your bike to work” crowd, does it? Or the “5 cents per plastic bag” crowd either?

Why would the Catholic Church support this march?

         Why would the Catholic Church support                                      this anti-Trump march?

This hints that the environmental issue itself is expendable when it suits the objective, and the objective of the Washington march on Saturday, April 29th seems not to be about protecting the environment at all, but about getting attention on a very big financial windfall.

Any teacher who has managed kindergartners knows what ‘getting attention’ looks like, whether they are wearing little pink hats, carrying signs or not. Yet “Catholic” advocates,  apparently captivated by the current exhibitionist mentality around leftist issues, will spend thirty  hours on a bus just to be there to support or condemn positions about which they are largely unable to speak on the issues knowledgeably, or to proffer arguments on either side.  Individuals who have signed up to send their bodies to the ‘front,’ i.e. in front of the cameras, know exactly what they are hoping for: attention.

Hypocrisy beyond the carbon footprint

But an accusation of hypocrisy (or at least disordered judgment) extends well beyond the political correctness of clean air and getting attention, to an emerging environmental idolatry. What we must be warning about is that the secularist agenda for environmental and climate / weather issues risks evolving into a substitute for religion. Actually, it already has morphed into elevating the created above the Creator.

When I wrote the book “Half a Dialogue,” as a reply to Pope Francis’ invitation to discuss, dialogue and debate his Encyclical, Laudato Sí, I had three purposes in mind, although they further clarified during the writing:

  1. Give testimony to God’s being in charge of the weather and that, of all the things He put into man’s hands, weather and climate were not included. The arrogant but not necessarily erroneous Elihu, in Chapter 37 of Job, says about God’s holding weather in His Hands (verses 7, 13): “He seals up the hand of every man, that all men may know His Work … Whether for correction, or for His land, or for love, He causes it to happen.” God is in control, and He has varied purposes for using weather, and no one can doubt it came from Him because man does not have control, only the ability to respond, repair or complain.

ScreenShot566The bible is full of God’s using nature for His purposes; can we cite three witness verses in which power and responsibility for weather and climate are given into man’s hands? Two verses? How about just one? Yes, man is given an obligation to be a good steward of the environment. Not polluting or mistreating animals would be evidence of good stewardship, but not evidence of controlling the weather. At perhaps a subliminal level is just that desire to control that which is not ours to control, as the end-time threats abound with disasters such as earthquakes, and man seeks the power he has always sought, to control God. How, then, has man gone so wrong as to think he does have (or can get) the power over weather and climate? The Book of Wisdom (verse 13:9) asks the question and shows the internal contradiction about the very elite climatists who presume to preach their own gospel, based on computer projections: “…for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?”  This is a very basic question which Catholics should be asking before taking up the climate/weather flag.

  1. Point out to those who hadn’t noticed that the wanton desire to substitute aspects of environment for the True God, didn’t die out with annihilation of the pagan Canaanite tribes.  The right-ordered desire to worship a Supreme Being is readily seduced into patronizing fake gods who have resumés attached: a god of fertility, god of agriculture, god of rain and floods etc. At least one false god covers every need, even a “household god,” except for the bona fide need to worship the True God in righteousness and obedience.

What is particularly attractive about home-made gods is that they are what the individual wants them to be, so the concept of sin becomes distant or non-existent.  When a tribe, a community or even a city state can agree on “their” gods, it binds a community together, and either everything is tolerated, or what is disagreeable in another’s belief eventually gets dropped by the wayside for the sake of political correctness.

Christians weren’t persecuted by Rome because they offered “another” god, it was because they offered the ONLY true God, making all the others into worthless idols. (Notice how a community rose up against Paul when his preaching threatened the  finances of the fans of the goddess Artemis in Acts 19: 23– 41.  Verse 26 sums up the charge: “And you see and hear that not only at Ephesus but almost throughout all Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable company of people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.”)  What has not changed in the world is that those who profit from false gods still resist the Word of the True God. The True God does not “COEXIST” in that same bumper sticker verse, nor does He tolerate false gods diluting His Glory. And that is exactly the agenda of the purveyors of false gods, i.e. to drive away the True God as people unite in beliefs about the importance of recycling, but not of the Eucharist.

There are great amounts of money to be made in this ‘new industry’ – funding the undoable, a self-renewing project that never reaches its objective, because it has no proofs, objectives or measurable goals for results; a plan for an ‘endless project.” There is, and will be, just a continual flow of cash to the undoable projects. There is also the irony of knowing that God punishes by using the very things which offended Him. In Wisdom 11:16 we read: “…that they might learn that one is punished by the very things by which he sins.” At least in part this would seem to be a valid answer to the implicit question: “If there is no global warming, why have there been so many weather-related disasters in recent times?”

To turn the true religion to the false gods of climate and weather, a change in vocabulary is precedent. This is one of the problems I discussed in “Half a Dialogue, i.e. Pope Francis’ imbuing secular words with religiosity. To me, Chapter V on Syncretism is the scariest one in the book. (Religious Syncretism is the fusing of diverse religious beliefs and practices.)  Laudato Sí uses terms such “sins against creation,” “ecological conversion,” “accept the world as a sacrament of communion,” “covenant between humanity and the environment,” “sacredness of the world”, “Trinitarian dynamism,” “crucified poor.” I doubt I could ever be convinced that this Encyclical, accidentally or deliberately I can’t judge, isn’t laying the groundwork for Catholics melding environmentalism into the Faith beginning with our language, and diluting the adoration due to God. Among the most outrageous writing is paragraph #160 of the Encyclical, which includes in part: “Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations …  dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.”   No. That is NOT the “ultimate meaning” of my “earthly sojourn.” Not at all!

                     3.    The reality is that false gods do not satisfy, but do foster growth of evil.  There is something additionally insidious about the make-believe gods, which are the creation of man’s hands and minds, whether a god of the environment, climate or weather or something else, driving the hearts of the people away from the True God. Mere creed or joyful song becomes insufficient for such a ‘religion,’ because false gods are (in the final analysis) agents of the evil one. He may open the door to a brotherhood which despises coal plants or styrofoam, but falls quickly into much more that is untrue, sinful, degraded. The father of lies needs people to choose the false gods first, and to dilute, then abandon the True God, in order to engineer the twisting of words like mercy into euthanasia, healthcare into contraception and abortion, love into same-sex relationships and God’s creation of the human body and concomitant call to modesty (even Adam and Eve knew enough to grab the fig leaves) into an agenda of transgenderism, an ultimate rejection of the Creator.  Evil is working on multiple fronts, and bus rides are not the defense. They are the distraction.

Again, we can turn to the Book of Wisdom to reinforce these perceptions of what happens when trying to control weather and climate are manifestations of false gods.  Wisdom Chapter 14, verses 12 and 27 states: “… for the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication…. For the worship of idols not to be named is the beginning and cause and end of every evil.”
Thus, the program to be implemented in the name of global warming and climate control, is to be funded by huge populations of people who do not appreciate that its very objective is to eliminate billions of people (as preached by the very speakers invited to speak at the recent Vatican Conference). Such programs inevitably coalesce into a “People’s Voice,” pressuring those who would espouse freedom of conscience, free will and religion. And that pressure to conform, my friends, flies under the cover of socialism and the related -isms.   For that reason, people hold marches for public display and to pressure others to succumb to the group mindset. The less one knows about the real issues, the easier a person is to manipulate. Even the name choice of “People’s Climate March” is reminiscent of Tiananmen Square, and marxist manipulation.

Is the Hierarchy fulfilling its obligation to souls?

My answer would be ‘no,’ – not by preaching climate change when so much more vital teaching is needed. Aside from an embarrassing but non-binding papal encyclical on the environment, how can the Catholic Church, a bishops’ conference, or even a local parish, all of which should be steeped in the Church’s traditional teaching for 2000 years, be seduced into advertising and supporting a march for climate and weather, with a prominent “Catholic” endorsement, with clergy or diocesan employees even taking a leading role?  And what is Catholic Charities doing in the mix, an organization which is broadly funded by contributions from Catholics, not all of whom agree on the climate and weather issues?
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Convert’s Surprise: Part V: Confusion

April 20th, 2017, Promulgated by Administrator

Part V:  Convert’s Surprise – Confusion

Having converted to Catholicism in my late 40s (Part I), then finding my husband Larry and myself in the middle of a schism at our parish (Part II), subsequently receiving blessings and feeling joy from a Movement in the Church (Part III) which transformed into pain and sadness because of the Founder’s Scandal (Part IV), things were calmer until the current crisis: “Confusion.” So I have been initiated again into the Sufferings of our Lord!

A Very Grave Crisis

The crisis, of which you are likely aware, concerns criteria for proper disposition / preparation for receipt of the Holy Eucharist and is directly related to the Papacy of Pope Francis. More specifically, should those who are divorced and remarried without annulment now be permitted to “receive Communion”? What seemed initially as an impossibility in the practical sense (according to Doctrine and Dogma) was publicly raised as a possibility by prelates during and since recent Synods. I was so relieved when this unbelievable change was put down very quickly by respected Catholics as being truly impossible. Catholic Teaching is rock-solid. My Spiritual Director explained that the Sacraments were taught directly to the Church by Christ and, as such, are NOT amendable!

New Possibilities Were NOT Completely DIsmissed

Oh, but wait — the initial dismissal of new possibilities wasn’t the end of the story. More prelates joined the “change” bandwagon and Pope Francis introduced his Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia,” which left everyone hanging because he neither declared clear support for the changes nor took a clear stand against them.

The downside of this situation is big as it has bearing on the whole Church.  It has caused turmoil among prelates, priests, and spiritual directors and has allowed for new, incorrect expectations through the Church. And it pertains to proposed CHANGES to UNCHANGEABLE Dogma. These modifications were allegedly proposed for the Church to become more responsive to the “times.” Does someone think that  Christ Himself neglected to take this into account?

Already, changes in practice (criteria to “Receive Communion”) have been instituted and expectations of change are growing. A lot of Catholics are confused, many assuming from headlines that the Church is going through a wonderful reform. There are those who insist that nothing has changed (i.e. that nothing CAN change). But as various prelates instituted changes in practice for receiving Communion, there is no denying that CHANGE HAS OCCURRED! And many prelates claim that their direction is FROM THE POPE.

My respect for the judgment of Pope Francis has diminished because of this stream of events and his resistance to clarify. I don’t like having less respect for my Pope. But I clearly understand that his behavior is separate from his soul — that I can love him while not liking certain behaviors of his. So, yes, I love the Pope, know he is a child of God, and want his salvation! However, I see these behaviors as risky to souls, such as in Argentina.

Leaked Letter

The Pope sent a letter to the Bishops in Argentina about this issue. When it was subsequently leaked, the Pope acknowledged that he had truly sent it and that it had indicated that “Amoris Laetitia” offered the possibility of relaxed standards for receiving Holy Communion. The Pope gave an admission of sorts, but not an official, public clarification.

It seems to me that his restraint has allowed confusion to fester and now division is growing among prelates, between bishop and priest, between the ordained and the laity, and also among the laity. There are divisions within families and between parishioners or friends.

Hearsay or Heresy? Enter the “Dubia”

Four Cardinals, including Cardinal Burke, privately presented to the Pope five relevant, written questions requiring simple yes / no answers. I believe that it was done out of charity and gave him an opportunity to resolve the crisis. When sufficient time had passed, without a response from the Pope, they brought public what they had done privately. Months have passed since then, with no answers to the Dubia.

Some have said that the Pope CANNOT answer these questions. But to me this comment suggests that the Pope MAY NOT WANT to answer them, as he could be officially in heresy or, contrariwise, be seen as betraying his supporters who want the changes.

Truth and its Eternal Nature

Shouldn’t we be searching for Truth? Truth is unchangeable — Truth IS Christ. It cannot be the case that BOTH the Immutability of the Sacraments AND changeability of the Sacraments are correct. God is not divided against Himself.  Furthermore, aren’t Christ’s teachings eternal? Or is He blind, deaf, short-sighted or dead to some persons? If Christ wanted His teachings to be updated with societal changes, He would have told us. To Larry and me, there’s a familiar ring of disobedience. I’m no theologian but my own take is that “bucking authority” (the authority being Church Dogma and Doctrine) was allowed to happen. Even without the Pope officially ADVOCATING these revisions, his resistance to “nipping them in the bud” allows disobedience to persist. Jesus is being ignored!

Some prelates and priests are leading the flock astray – in their own way. But Jesus proclaimed, “Woe” to those who mislead the flock. (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2)  Christ warned us against conforming to the world — we are to bring the Light (Him) TO the world! (John 17:15)  In my view, this tendency has crept into the Church – to please the world, rather than Christ!

I have found that people tend to be very hesitant to talk about this crisis. I have seen it in myself and in others. What’s happened to us? Have our virtues been declining so greatly that we lack courage to speak honestly about Christ’s teachings?  Have many “declared Catholics” become pagans? In 1958, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about this as “the new pagans!”

Even “Katherine the Shrew” Chooses Obedience in the End

This reminds me of Shakespeare’s play, “The Taming of the Shrew.” As a teenager I was cast into the role of Katherine.  She underwent a conversion to “my Lord, my King, My Governor …” (her husband, but analogously: Christ!) and proclaims brilliantly, and clearly her obedience to her husband in her final, dramatic, virtuous speech: “Fie, Fie, unknit that threatening unkind brow….” She tells women how to respect, love, and stand up for their husbands. Well, Christ is Our Lord, Our King, and our Savior! Why aren’t we standing up for Him? Indifference, poor formation, or hearts of disobedience have inhibited dialogue. So have the following familiar statements (related to this crisis):

  • The Pope stated, “Who am I to judge?”, setting the stage for our keeping quiet.
  • “The Pope needs to refrain from spontaneous and unprepared comments.”
  • “The press distorts his intentions.
  • “That reporter doesn’t record interviews”
  • “Translations are poor” / “The translations don’t agree”
  • “He is from “Argentina” – the culture there is different”
  • “He is a pastoral Pope rather than a theologian”

Let’s Remember Who is King

If we are not Christ-centered, what are we? If our Ordained are not Christ-centered, what are they? If the Pope is not centered on Christ’s teachings, where is he leading us? Consider our Blessed Mother; who is more Christ-centered than she? Therefore, we can go to her as well!

Prayer is an indescribable Gift from God. Relevant is this statement from the “Novena to Divine Mercy – Day 2”: “For the love of the Heart of Your Son, in which they (souls of priests and religious) are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.” EWTN Devotionals

New or “Same Old?

A timely article by Deacon Jim Russell of the Archdiocese of St. Louis appeared online in “Crisis Magazine” on April 18, 2017. In “Does History Repeat With Amoris Laetitia Confusion?”, he writes that attempts at Doctrinal and Dogmatic change are not new. But what’s new is that “this time our Holy Father did not publish an official magisterial decision to resolve the issue at hand.”  Similarly, the Pope thus far has not answered the Dubia. Yet he is the only one who can put a conclusive halt to the corrupt changes in expectations and practice. We pray to God for the Pope to reform these errors and restore the Church as God intended it to be.


This confusion is really the workings of the father of lies. He is trying to confuse us and thereby run (or ruin) our Church.  The evil one’s seeds are being sown at all levels of the Church. We’ve been allowing ourselves to be confused.  But should we really be confused?  No. Our Bible gives us the definitive answers. No amount of articles written by others (including me) can answer for the Pope.

  • Christ gives His clear declaration about marriage and its indissolubility. Luke 16:18
  • We are warned gravely about taking the Body and Blood of our Lord when not properly disposed. 1Corinthians 11:27. (Moreover, it is our responsibility as Catholics to know what the Church teaches.  Anyone of authority who leads others incorrectly incurs guilt on their shoulders)
  • To whom should we listen  – God or Man? To whom should we turn for the Way to Salvation?  Whom should we obey? Over 2000 years ago God made it clear that He is the answer!  Acts 4:19

Your Holiness Pope Francis, how can and why would you entertain any way other than what Christ has taught us? Why would you allow confusion about this to continue? It is God we have to obey and, therefore, there should be no confusion — no debate. And yet there is URGENCY for the Pope to definitively proclaim his complete support for Church Teaching, because of risk to souls!

In Closing:

This has been one person’s voyage through Faith, accompanied by my husband. God called me. I chose and I choose to follow Him — my Alpha and Omega.

This is the last in a 5-part series by guest writer, Rhonda Jones, convert from Judaism to Catholicism and retired Clinical Psychologist, recounting her experiences. We hope you have found this guest series to be of interest, helpful and relevant to current concerns in the Church.



Sheltering in Place: Part III: Indispensable Priest

April 11th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The Indispensable Priest

Our mindset of commitment is crucial (Part I) and having Truth in Hand through the many textual resources the Church provides is important (Part II), but having access to the priestly resource is vital. Only the priest can confect the Eucharist; only the priest can forgive our sins. (John 20:21-23): “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”

Choices which we make today prepare us for the decisions we may have to make tomorrow, whether tomorrow is a day of secular or spiritual blackout, or not.  Is the confessor we choose today the one whom we would want if we were under persecution or under schismatic torpor? Is he likely to be one who would take the risk of hearing confessions if not civilly legal? Is he likely to be the one who will speak the truth of Jesus Christ rather than protecting his clerical career path?  While these questions may relate to difficult times, they are not inappropriate questions for choosing a confessor today.  It is not as if we hadn’t already seen red hats choose to pervert the Word of God, even publicly at a Synod. (If you don’t know what this is about, then unfortunately you’ve encountered a serious disconnect between what is happening in the Church, and being aware of the forces unleashed against God’s forgiveness.)

Choosing a Confessor

In today’s post, I want to concentrate on the need for access to a confessor while ‘Sheltering in Place.’ More than 10 years ago, I had occasion to write (now slightly tweaked) some thoughts about choosing a confessor (not that we need to be limited to having only one, as the intensity of widespread sinfulness ramps up in the world, and the holy suffer persecution.)

I wrote the original reflection because I was surprised that so many Catholics seemed not to choose their confessor with even a fraction of the care with which they choose a doctor, a lawyer, or a school for their children, and maybe even their grocery store.  It seems that, over a period of time, just as we wouldn’t jump around from one doctor to another without their knowing about our medical history, it is good to rely on someone who can begin to know us and our spiritual needs.  That decidedly does NOT mean a mandatory spiritual advisor! More on that another time!

Most people seem to make a decision about a confessor (and even which parish they join) based on convenience – convenient geography and convenient times for the Sacrament of Penance, or by seeking out a stranger whom they might never see again for a quick hosing off.  But there is a difference between an emergency (just like going to the emergency room after an accident) or having a relationship with a GP (general practitioner) physician.

ScreenShot528With that in mind, I also don’t think that a confessor relationship must always be with a priest from one’s own parish, especially if it makes us inhibited in fully confessing or in accepting guidance.  One size definitely does not fit all!  Some members of a family might benefit from going to reconciliation with one priest, another family member with a different priest.  Even for ourselves, a different priest may be more helpful at various stages in our lives (like a specialist in the medical situation), and that relationship also need not stay the same over time, depending on the challenges we face in our lives. Like any relationship, we can usually allow it to evolve over time, if done prayerfully.  But with some of the heavier aspects of “end times” looming over life today, it seems not unreasonable to include “confessor planning” as part of the strategy for Sheltering in Place. When we don’t make a choice, we are making a choice.

When I first published these thoughts on line, on a parish blogsite, I was particularly surprised at positive reactions from several priests who commented that they’d had some new insight. The main point, as I remember, was that they were struck by the view that when a priest dismisses any sin as ‘not that serious’ or as ‘many people do that’ or –worse—‘why I’ve done that myself’ as if it then couldn’t possibly be a sin, what they are really doing is demeaning God’s prerogative of forgiveness, and diminishing the penitent’s ‘sense of sin’.

Criteria for Choosing

So, how do we choose a priest to whom to begin to confess on a regular basis? I think by first doing a sincere daily examination of conscience to increase our awareness of our needs, in conjunction with prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Many examen lists emphasize commission of sin which must be confessed, and even develop applications which might not be recognized as implicit in the commandment transgressed, but what is sometimes missing from such lists are omissions, especially failure to respond to the initiative of the Lord in our lives, to follow God’s promptings of our hearts. When we ask God to provide the confessor, He really does respond. And, when He steers us away from a confessor, even a seemingly, wonderful priest, we must be sensitive enough to listen and obey. Still, we do need to consider the characteristics of a confessor in making our choices.

There are also at least a dozen characteristics which need careful scrutiny regarding the prospective confessor in order for us to choose wisely:

  1. Listen to his homilies, his tone, attitude and content.  Do they bring us closer to God and His Will, or do they simply entertain me or make me look at my watch?  Is he a one-theme homilist or far-ranging over the needs of the parishioners? If I am being touched by his homilies I should remember the key message even a day or two later.  His demeanor in confession and his impact on me will probably be similar to the effect his homilies have on me.
  2. How obedient does he seem to Church Teaching? How respectful of the Eucharistic celebration in gestures, cleansing the vessels, bowing at the name of Jesus? How careful is he to “do the red and read the black” from the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, rather than improvising his own words? Does he genuflect before the Tabernacle when passing through the Church or does he have an “exempt” mindset? What about if he goes through multiple times?
  3. In his homilies and sermons, does he confront head-on, with clarity and care, those difficult issues that can send souls to hell? Or does he tip-toe around the matters of intrinsic evil, preferring to preach on what no one can disagree with, or on matters of prudential judgment without acknowledging the other side for consideration? Is money a pervasive theme from the pulpit, but not morals?
  4. Outside the confessional, ask him a small question, like about a scripture just read (sincere, not contrived) and see if he takes the question seriously, responsively, with care and compassion.  See if he takes you seriously. See if he gives the time needed, or answers while walking away.  Notice if he is willing to correct something for the sake of truth and accuracy, or lets misunderstanding remain rather than apologize.
  5. Does he stretch the rules and even seem somewhat tolerant of sin?  Make a joke about it? Correction of our faults is one of our needs in confession and it seems a waste to confess to a priest who minimizes our sins, because then he also, in a sense, minimizes God’s forgiveness. Does he give necessary correction with love and caring? Does he encourage the penitent, or discourage?
  6. Listen to how he speaks about others to get a sense of his ability to keep things confidential and respectful.  Confidentiality is important, whether or not we think so at the time; it is a sloppy habit to try to engage in discussion further on confessed sins outside the confessional, for both the priest and the penitent.  I was in a parish once where a priest gave a homily about confession and the difficulty of forgiving and, having been in a prior parish, how a woman’s sister had “run away” with her husband. Although no names were given, it made me very uncomfortable and I knew instantly that I would never go to him to confession, ever.  I would rather have a confessor who even seems ‘secretive,’ rather than wandering too close to discussing “thinly veiled” situations that might involve what is personal to other people in the parish.  While I should expect him to obey the church’s teachings on the seal of confession, the way he respects confidentiality outside the confessional gives me an idea of whether or not he will narrow his obligation down to the sin content only or also to the general discussion I might have in seeking direction or advice.  (Ergo– if we need to call a parish problem to a priest’s attention, don’t do it in confession (unless it involves your sin!) He won’t be able to act on what you said under the seal! And he shouldn’t be entertaining casual discussion in the confessional either.)
  7. Look for a real willingness to respond to the need to confess on a timely basis  — not for just being fit into the calendar, say, like “next Tuesday at 1:15 PM”
  8. It is one thing to know the basic rules, but it is another thing to understand an individual confessor’s attitude toward those rules.  But outside the confessional. we can ASK him about his attitude toward the seal of confession, and how broad or narrow he accepts that obligation, including how to have a follow-up discussion if needed. At least we will have let him know what is important to us, and have gained a better sense of what to expect from him. There are priests who are very uncomfortable with face-to-face confession; it isn’t inappropriate to ask his preference, if he has one.
  9. Pay attention to how we feel after going to reconciliation with a particular priest.  Refreshed? Clean? Energized?  Or depressed and anxious?  Is it a “feeling” that will help me to go back to reconciliation sooner rather than postponing in dread in the future?
  10. Always PRAY about the choice of a confessor, because he has the potential to have more effect on us than any other advisor.  See to whom God wants us to confess.  It doesn’t have to be the world’s best confessor; he only has to be someone who can help us to move closer to God.
  11. If we are not carefully choosing AND using a confessor, we are only receiving part of  the richness the Catholic Church offers, especially the graces of the Sacrament. It makes sense to avoid confessors who challenge whether one really had ‘enough’ to confess.
  12. Revisit from time to time if the choice of confessor is still the right one, if we are moving closer to God, committing fewer sins, having clarity about sin and the occasions of sin, vs. personality quirks, or falling short of our own (sometimes prideful) expectations of ourselves. There are confessors, of somewhat lax consciences themselves, who may mix-up “scrupulosity” with a tenderness of soul.  Scrupulosity is easily recognized by a compulsive re-confessing due to not believing or “feeling” that God really has forgiven us. A tenderness of soul may result in re-confessing not because we disbelieve God’s forgiveness but because, as we grow more mature spiritually, more grateful for having been forgiven,  we come to realize damages from our sins beyond what we understood when we first confessed.  This distinction is not insignificant.

Staying free from sin

The very consideration of the end-times context, or loss of religious liberties, or of trauma within the Body of Christ will help to bring focus to the question of choosing a confessor for such times. That in itself is preparing to Shelter in Place, if indeed we have provided for such care of our souls. But two other thoughts are perhaps worth mentioning:

  • The best way to prepare to confess sins is to have no sins. Easier said than done! In difficult times, with the potential of months or even years between confessions, avoiding sin will be easier if we are not already carrying the burden of unconfessed sin. In such difficult times it means taking every opportunity possible to be reconciled. If we are “Sheltering in Place” we don’t know how long it will be; but, we may have a clue in the words of Jesus in Mark 13:20:  “And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.”
  • It is important to cultivate deeply the “sense of sin.” A confessor ought to be able to help. It seems to me that there is a reason for what David wrote in Psalm 51:4: “Against Thee and Thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified in Thy sentence and blameless in Thy judgment.”  We hurt other people, abuse them, cheat them, and injure them. But we do not ‘sin’ against them even though we must confess what we’ve done and make atonement. The SIN is against God. The chasm which SIN creates between God and myself is infinitely deep, which only Christ’s Sacrifice can bridge. Using the idea of “sin” too casually can seem to diminish the reality of SIN, and even obscure our sense of conscience, and of our own responsibility for Christ’s suffering. One meditation to deepen contrition is to reflect on Peter’s thoughts and emotions on Saturday morning, the day after the Crucifixion, when he heard the cock crow. And he knew he would hear that sound every morning for the rest of his life.  Sculpted statues of St. Peter may show grooves beneath his eyes, deepened by his tears.

As you think about and plan for “Sheltering in Place,” what would you add or change on the above list?


Convert’s Surprise: Part IV: Scandal!

April 6th, 2017, Promulgated by Administrator

Wolf in Shepherd’s Clothing

The Founder of the Regnum Christi Movement (RC) and the Legionaries of Christ (LCs), Priest Marcial Maciel, died at age 87 on January 30, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida, a few years after his exile. Grieving over his death was interrupted about a year later by story after story unfolding in headline news; i.e. that he had been living with a woman (in his free time) and supporting her in an expensive apartment in Spain. They had a daughter! But then there was more news, this time from Mexico where he apparently lived with another woman who thought of herself as his wife. Reportedly, he led her to believe he was a widower. (It is my understanding that he didn’t marry these women.) He had two children with her and he supported her and the children along with a third child who was hers before they met. Maciel allegedly adopted him and provided all of them with a very nice residence in Mexico. Two women, a daughter, sons, and aliases! But to make matters tremendously worse, he was accused of sexually abusing one or more of his children. Lawsuits emerged which represented children seeking portions of his estate and of anything in his own name!

So “Papa” Maciel apparently wasn’t known to his “families” by his real name or priestly vocation, was unfaithful to the Church, to the Movement, to the Congregation of LCs, and to at least 2 women with whom he had been in long-standing sexually-scandalous relationships. He allegedly preyed sexually on his own offspring. But there was more: Maciel reportedly took large sums of money when he traveled (and not just to support the families!) He schmoozed in high circles at the Vatican. It apparently wasn’t questioned what he was taking the money for, because he was also building seminaries and programs for the Church.

The Produce Section: The Fruit of Maciel’s Behavior

It is hard to write this in a way that gives a true picture of the impact. I can’t and won’t even begin to speculate the personal damage to his “wives” and children. We pray for their healing. Maciel’s choices certainly impacted the Church, the Legion and the Movement. We understand that when any part of the Body of Christ is damaged, the whole Body of Christ is damaged. For the Church, this added to the sexual abuse wounds which had already been uncovered.

To learn that Maciel was not who he had led so many to believe was of utmost pain to the Legionaries, Consecrated Women, and many long-term members of the Movement. One can begin to grasp their pain with a little more understanding when one realizes that he had been referred to, ironically, as “Nuestro Padre” (our father). To those, the betrayal and the wounds have been indescribably deep!

The Consecrated and LCs depended on donations for everything. So you can imagine how they felt when they learned that “Papa” took money earmarked for the Movement and the Congregation of priests. Donations took a dive. Seminaries and the Rhode Island College were closed. Properties were sold. Some Apostolates had to be let go because of their expense.  An example is the National Catholic Register, now part of EWTN.

This multifaceted scandal rocked the Catholic hierarchy at the highest levels. The Legion, Movement, and Consecrated bled from loss of precious vocations and necessary donations. Everyone was changed. Momentum fell. All were downhearted. I had loved the evangelical aspect of the Movement – spreading the Faith not only to non-Catholics but also to many who claimed to be of the faith, but could use greater Catechesis. But how do you attract someone to jump onto a ship that is sinking?  How do you invite people to the Apostolic activities at a time like this? How do you ask Diocesan approval to bring in LCs or Consecrated for spiritual direction or retreats? Confidence dropped like a broken elevator.

I struggled periodically with second thoughts and embarrassment. But each time I then recalled the people we knew and respected so much. I remembered that Larry and I had felt a true calling. The questioning always passed quickly. Whatever we experienced, however, was a tiny fraction of what the LCs, Consecrated, and long-term members were going through.

One week, a small group of Consecrated women was with us a lot on their vacation when a new aspect of the scandal broke. As they had no access to the news, we reluctantly were the ones to break it to them. We saw firsthand how a new punch affected them. Everyone went through this in his or her own way and timing. But we were all united by the tough, eternal lesson in “Abandonment to God Alone.”

Larry and I were on the periphery. We NEVER grieved the Founder. Our concern was for the Consecrated, LCs and long-standing members — those who had been seriously betrayed. To understand this fallout better, one merely needs to know that a number of priests had worked very closely with Maciel and had no prior hunch about this scandalous behavior.  Others had known him for decades and decades. And there were those who had publicly and sincerely “gone to bat” for him over the earlier accusations, only to be hit with the truth. Imagine being one of those priests!

Moreover we understood that there was a disagreement about whether all details should be shared (and how quickly they would be shared) or whether overviews of the established crimes and betrayals would be sufficient, and whether a gradual presentation of such an overview was the best way to bring forth any official acknowledgement. All of that was a source of great suffering as it was divisive among those who, in offering their whole life to Christ, chose as their vehicle the Movement or Congregation Maciel had initiated.

There was more difficult fallout. All wondered about whether the priestly LC Congregation and the RC Movement would be disbanded. Some considered that it should be disbanded. And, too, I’d like to ask you to take just a moment to imagine how you’d feel if you were a parent of one of the Consecrated or Legionaries! Hearts were broken; dreams were shattered. We saw plenty of this.

Less Fruit: The Yield Was Dropping

It wasn’t merely what Maciel had done that affected people. News of the scandal had further implications.  Legionaries, Consecrated and members began leaving. These decisions produced more grief. Some left gracefully, some angrily and vociferously. It was especially sad for many when key and highly-respected LCs or Consecrated departed, such as Bioethicist and Author Father Thomas Berg (Hurting In The Church: A Way Forward For Wounded Catholics), Father Thomas Berg, 2016, (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division; Huntington, Indiana), Vice-Rector of the Rome Seminary/Author Father Jonathan Morris, and Spiritual Director with Mental Health Expertise Father Richard Gil. A group of experienced Consecrated left to start a whole new organization. We kept wondering who was leaving next. Then one day it was an LC priest who was one of the closest to Larry and me who left.  We hadn’t known he considered leaving. We experienced this again with several Consecrated Women with whom we had been especially close. For all who have left, we pray for them in the new paths upon which they have embarked.

Good Fruit Emerged Too

God works all things (good or bad) for the good. Good fruit has come from this disastrous situation.  Penitential acts were taken. One was the recommended frequent praying of the “Litany of Humility.”  Most of those acts are known unto God alone.(

As we were relatively removed, never having known Maciel, we invited LC Seminarians and Consecrated to contact us if they wished, as we could remind them of how much the Movement had done for us. We hoped to provide true appreciation and inspiration. That, plus our prayers, was all we could offer.

Healing Started When Pope Benedict XVI Reached Out

Pope Benedict XVI was compassionate and wise. Aware of the goodness in the people and the apostolates, he reached out his hand to the Legion and Movement. Thanks be to God and to Pope Benedict XVI, healing began. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith assigned five Bishops (Including Archbishop Chaput) as “Visitators.” By means of a very extensive interview process and examination, the visitators assisted the Movement and Legion in their renewals. Statutes were amended. There were changes in LC leadership positions. Maciel’s writings and pictures were discarded. The Legionaries, Consecrated, and the Movement have worked very hard and prayerfully to institute major organizational revisions following tremendous discernment and the expert guidance they had received.

As the renewal process has continued on, Priestly vocations have been very strong and plentiful. Many men are ordained to the priesthood each year. And there is a new group of Consecrated Men!  Wonderful new Programs, Schools, and Apostolates have blossomed around the world and many additional people have been trained as excellent, faithful Catholic leaders.  The depth and dedication we perceive and read about among the LCs, Consecrated, Members, and affiliated teens is tremendous.

Wise Insight

My long-term Spiritual Director, recently deceased Redemptorist Father Paul Miller at the Notre Dame Retreat House, had great insight. He was a very wise and learned Religious priest. He had met Consecrated and LCs and liked them very much. One day while discussing the scandal, he said that he never knew of a great Ecclesial Movement, Congregation, or Order which did not have to go through its “Dark Night” along the way to becoming very fruitful to God. His insight has helped us and others as well.

Final Comment

We remembered how we felt as we were getting to know the Regnum Christi Movement when we were told that we now had 70 more daughters (see Part III). And now, with the Scandal, some of our “spiritual daughters” were leaving. The joy we had been experiencing was turned upside down. Many good sentiments had been stripped away. This was an additional challenge to me, a convert, as I was just beginning to learn about how “Dark Nights of the Soul” could prepare us for depending on God alone. This was the next big lesson on abandonment to God alone.

We do, however, continue to be grateful for the blessings we have received as members of the Movement, and we know we are to thank and praise God in all things – even those that challenge in the extreme. Nothing happens without God’s allowing it, so there is much to ponder. We understand that everyone hurt by Maciel was given a taste of the cruelty Jesus endured for us, and the opportunity to personally experience His Passion. Thanks especially to Mother Angelica of EWTN, I have learned that it is truly a blessing to share in His suffering and to offer our pain to Him.


Additional reading related to the above scandal:  (2009)   To learn about the renewals and the current activities of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, visit: or contact their spokesman, Jim Fair.


Next Part: Convert’s Surprise – Part V: Confusion