Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Just Say ‘No!’ to Catholic Relief Services …

March 23rd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This weekend, March 25-26th has been designated for collection in churches for support of Catholic Relief Services (CRS).  It is ironic to occur on the Feast of the Annunciation, a most pro-life day, when CRS has such a murky background supporting contraception and abortion. Let’s think twice about how our own contributions can involve us in support of sin.  If you read only one article, read the one on Zombie Charities.

From LifeSiteNews 2015-16:


The USCCB website seems not to even acknowledge that there are legitimate complaints and concerns about CRS. Rather, there are six organizations identified which receive CRS funds.  Here are some direct excerpts, including a 4-year old statement of support and a seemingly close linkage to immigration issues:

ScreenShot502      ScreenShot501











Sometimes I wonder: Do we all share the same sense of reality?  

If so, then who is putting money in the CRS collection basket?  It surely is not me!



And don’t forget who sponsors RiceBowl!


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Fantastic News for our Friends

March 22nd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The article linked above provides a short but solid primer on the relationship of Catholic Diocesan structure to the just-as-Catholic (Anglican Tradition) worship in the prelature structure established by Pope Benedict XVI.  Pope Francis has just intervened to protect Our Lady of the Atonement parish in San Antonio, Texas, from decisions made by the San Antonio Diocese.  Our friends in the St. Joseph Foundation had taken the case to the Vatican for just such intervention.

The St. Joseph Foundation’s successes in many related situations show how important it is for Catholics to have the means to enforce their Canon Law rights; it does no good to have those rights in a book on the shelf if we are unable to bring suit to enforce those rights. The St. Joseph Foundation depends completely upon the goodwill contributions of those who share the view of SJF’s importance to protecting the rights of the Faithful.  The foundation relocated a few years ago from San Antonio to Ohio; contributions may be made to:

The Saint Joseph Foundation

85882 Waterworks Road

Hopedale, Ohio 43976

Their most recent newsletter, Christifidelis (not available on line yet), also describes the good news of the recent affiliation between the St. Joseph Foundation and CUF (Catholics United for the Faith.)   Website is 




SSPX Prelature getting closer?

March 21st, 2017, Promulgated by Hopefull



The return of the mighty Barckhoff to Auburn’s St. Mary’s Church

March 19th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

The Rev. Frank Lioi writes in Auburn’s The Citizen: The return of the mighty Barckhoff to Auburn’s St. Mary’s Church

Since this past summer, the historic 1890 Carl Barckhoff pipe organ in the gallery of the 1874 St. Mary’s Church building in Auburn has been undergoing a complete restoration. This pipe organ is thought to be the builder’s largest extant organ, and unlike most of the organs of its period, survives in a relatively unaltered condition.


After 77 years, St. Mary Church’s (Downtown) cross comes down

March 18th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Two articles from our friend at the D&C, David Andreatta:

Iconic cross atop St. Mary’s Church succumbs to wind

After 77 years, St. Mary Church’s cross comes down


Convert’s Surprise: Part II: Schism

March 14th, 2017, Promulgated by Administrator

This is the continuing story of the disturbing post-conversion surprises of Rhonda Jones, convert from Judaism to Catholicism. For the sake of hospitality, comments have been shut off, but emails to will be forward to Rhonda as appropriate.

Convert’s Surprise: Part II: Schism

I entered the Roman Catholic Church in April 1998 at Corpus Christi Church, Diocese of Rochester (DOR), with a class of over 20 RCIA candidates. Four months later, on a Sunday morning before Mass, Larry’s mother brought to our attention the headlines in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. I was stunned. The priest was in Schism with the Diocese and Church. Whatever that meant, it was serious. His staff (another priest and several women hoping to become priests someday and others) sided with him. In fact, almost all of the parishioners in this large city church, drawing people from the inner city and far away, were siding with him as he suddenly prepared to leave the Roman Catholic Church to form another church he labeled, “Catholic.”

It suddenly came to me that the priest might have been looking for an opportunity to “seize the day” and make Catholic history – and Catholic “reform”. Had he been considering this when he baptized and confirmed me a few months earlier? The thought made me shudder as the timing between April and August was so brief.

Larry and I were eager to get to church to find out what was happening. Though the wave of support for the priest throughout the pews was palpable, I remember that what struck me most strongly that day was not this atmosphere of support nor was it the homily. I observed the priest bend down on one knee late in the Mass.  I was seeing something new, but obviously important. So I asked either my husband or mother-in-law what the action meant and they explained “genuflecting” to me. Why was the priest suddenly doing this now? Was this sign of piety a show? Was a star born? Was the priest trying to manipulate the parishioners to see him as holier than before to coalesce his followers’ support?

Looking back I perceive that Mass as demonstrating more to me about “opportunity” than about Christ. I remember thinking distinctly that I would have respected the priest’s manner if he had gone to the Bishop and explained “cordially” that he had leave the Catholic priesthood to found a new church fitting his intentions. This would have commenced an honorable process of withdrawing from the Roman Catholic Church priesthood. However, his was not the initiation of a calm, measured process.

A Community Torn Apart

Quickly, things became almost militant. An enormous sign hung by wire blocked much of our view of the sanctuary. The sign read, “Can’t Hold Back The Spring.” This was August. But it was a “pseudo springtime renewal” in this parish and it was the priest and staff bringing it about rather than Christmaking all things new” with Truth and out of love.  It was more like a “new Protestant reformation,” spiked with antipathy.

The atmosphere filled with tension as the throngs became excited. Soon it was unquestionable that the great majority sided with the defiant priest. For Larry and me, who were not happy about this, it was awkward at best, but often painful and, at times, even intimidating or frightening.  Larry (with a background in international diplomacy studies) attempted to be a peace-maker. He offered a special proposal to bring some unity between the two sides.  His idea was quashed as fast as it was proposed, including by several religious sisters who sympathized with the priest.

Tough memories from this time! One enduring symbol for me of this painful splitting was a song, sung on Sundays as RCIA participants left Mass to study together: “I Have Loved You with an Everlasting Love,” by Michael Joncas.  For years afterward I had a sickening feeling inside whenever I heard it. I’m a singer but I wouldn’t sing it. Why? When it was sung to us by the Congregation, I felt as though the parishioners were expressing their filial love for us. After the schism, I felt that their having sung it was a sick joke – that we hadn’t mattered to them and that this hymn was merely very well-positioned or staged in the Mass. Where had the love gone when we hadn’t sided with them?

Most parishioners left the Church to follow the priest, though some went to other parishes. Among those moving on to the “Springtime” church were most of my RCIA peers and many of their sponsors. (There had been religious Sisters of St. Joseph at the parish. My own sponsor was one. I do not know which of them went to the new church or which sought another Roman Catholic parish.) What I do know is that we lost many friends in a flash!

Christ and Faithfulness were not on the Ballot

Almost immediately the priest and staff presented everyone with a long mission statement upon which they called for a vote at the weekend Masses – vote to be by show of hands and, thus viewable. This biased format probably intimidated some as it made me very uncomfortable.

Sitting “Center Stage” in three chairs in front of the Altar, presiding over the vote, were the priest plus the other priest and the first woman to be “ordained a priest” from this group. The statement was read and put to a vote: For, Against or Abstention.  Along with a few others, I chose to abstain. However, I am really proud of Larry because his was an unmistakable “NO!” vote, with his own “exclamation point:”  Larry walked up to the center-front  and, standing just below the three in chairs, cast his fully raised arm to vote, “NO!” Years later we encountered a friend from Corpus Christi at a Notre Dame Retreat House Day of Reflection. She told us that this had been a defining moment for her – that Larry’s action taught her to always speak truth even when it required great courage. What a consolation that was for both of us!

What were the defining schismatic issues? They were calls for: 1) Communion for everyone, 2) Gay and Lesbian Church weddings, and 3) the ordination of women to the priesthood. These were no longer wishes — they had become causes and even demands! When Larry and I looked back to consider earlier hints of this unfolding and of other related forms of disobedience, we noted serious omissions during the Mass (e.g. the Creed, the name of the Pope during the Prayers of the Faithful). Likewise, I became acutely aware of the lack of Catholic fundamentals in my RCIA “formation.” (Where were Blessed Mary and the Saints? What did “Magisterium,” “Adoration,” and “Catechism” mean? What does Dogma suggest? What is an “Early Church Father?”)  Larry and I had already perceived a definite silence there about saving pre-borns.

There was a morning that fall when a group of the schismatic folk formed a protest circle in front of Bishop Clark’s office. (The Bishop had actually just been taken to the hospital with chest pain that morning.) Larry drove out to the Diocesan Center. All he had in his car were several paper plates upon which he wrote: “For the Bishop!” “For the Pope!” He marched alone in his own “supporting” circle.

Priestly Betrayals?

We began to realize that a substantial number of DOR priests supported the schismatic priest, sympathizing with his causes. And during travels we learned of the widespread reputation of the Diocese as unusually liberal, with indications of clergy disobedience against Rome. We concluded that if many DOR priests were in sympathy with the one from Corpus Christi, the Bishop probably was aware and might have even allowed this to happen and to continue over many years. My guess is that those sympathizing priests likely felt they were acting of good intentions. However, good intentions do not always lead to good results. And these good intentions were not in sync with Christ’s Sacramental teachings.

Perhaps these priests wanted the DOR to become more welcoming to more people. Some may have wanted the Church to become more “relevant,”  in other words, to change with the times. But the changes about which they spoke out, were not about minor details, such as needed with new technologies. They pertained to dogma! They had new new human ideas to try to improve upon Jesus’ ways. (Whether pride or vanity were at play for some of them, I wouldn’t know.) As a Catholic Convert, I have often heard, “God doesn’t think as we think,” or “His ways are not our ways.”  Additionally, Satan attempts to trick each one of us into thinking that new ways are improvements over God or Tradition (the latter striking some as very negative!) Satan loves human pride and vanity! And that’s what he pounced on in the Garden of Eden?

With many leaving, the two of us were part of a tiny percentage that remained. There were only about 20 – 30 of us. After trying to help stabilize the parish, it was time to move on. The following June we left for another Roman Catholic Church. By that time, we’d “had it” with reporters and their cameras interrupting our attempts to worship.

The Fruit of Schism

What were some of the “fruits” of this break-up? As the schism struck, the climate at Corpus Christi turned from appearing welcoming and “loving” to tense, noisy, and disrespectful. Good fruit? No. At one point, the schismatic priest arrived to revisit the church, many stood on the pews wildly cheering for him. It wasn’t his homecoming – he was visiting Christ’s home. At times we felt we were experiencing the fruits of “Cult of Personality.” Christ had been made a supporting character.

Other fruit? Eventually the Diocese sent two women to be interim administrators. This drew a “protest boycott from service for the Mass” against the Diocese (including by religious sisters!).  This was a boycott from any ministerial service or administrative assistance for the Mass.  Larry and I were horrified, especially when we found out that a family had brought their baby for Baptism and no one was prepared to receive them. We had to hunt for their name, for the sacramentals, etc.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Mass got worse from there. Communion was interrupted by insults toward and intimidation of those of us filling in for boycotting ministers. Another example of rather nasty fruit occurred many Sundays during mass. Week after week a woman dressed very informally just stood through the Mass by the Altar, with her arms crossed defiantly. Not an uplifting sight. I

The next example affected us specifically. A new priest finally was assigned and the small group of remaining parishioners agreed to a clean-up day to assist him. It may be hard to believe this, but the banner was still up! No one had dared to remove it. Larry asked the new priest if he wanted it down, correctly perceiving that the new priest felt anxious about removing it himself. Receiving an affirmative answer, Larry climbed a ladder and cut the wires. Down it came, much to the relief of all of us there. Next thing we knew, the priest had fled the scene and we couldn’t find or reach him. Later that day Larry was informed that he could be arrested for taking “wire” that belonged to someone and was claimed to be valuable to them! Furthermore, it us took numerous calls to find a Diocesan priest to take the banner.

Are these good fruit? I don’t think so. Did this scandal bring many closer to Christ? Hard to know – but certainly not to the Sacraments. What about growth in virtue or holiness? Didn’t see that either. There was, however, some good fruit. Larry and I became easily aware of attempts to vary immutable Church practice, to focus upon individual leaders over Christ, and to disobedience and oppositional behavior.  And we were strengthened through a very tough time by God’s Grace, to better appreciate the importance of Courage in Truth.

Why had we first gone to Corpus Christi Church and why had we stayed for a few years? Couldn’t we have seen some of the signs earlier on? My first visit to this church was prior to my inner conversion when I attended a special mass for people of any faith with a spontaneous pregnancy loss, such as miscarriage or stillbirth. I had experienced that loss  years earlier and worked extensively with other such people in my psychology practice.

Following my sudden conversion Larry and I agreed that I would follow Catholicism so we could worship together. I knew little about the Faith but I had witnessed the love of Catholicism and faithfulness to it through my husband, his mother, and the relatives of Larry’s deceased wife Lucy, from Cuba. Larry always attended weekly mass. The others were daily communicants.

Over the years, Larry had introduced me to some wonderful priests as well as some great religious sisters. I asked him if we could attend Corpus Christi where I had really “liked” the mass, felt welcomed, and was attentive. Larry was glad to accommodate my wishes, though I have to admit that he occasionally expressed some concerns about being there. As I was so new to the faith, even I had experiences that raised my eyebrows — such as when I excitedly told the priest about a program I had viewed on EWTN and was surprised when he quizzically asked why I would want to watch THAT channel!

Those concerns were quickly brushed away as we acquired a broad, new set of welcoming friends and as we saw what the parish was doing for the dying, the poor, those not able to afford medical care, those released from prison. So, we settled in, but that “settling” was short-lived as the schism caught us off-guard.

Next Entry: Convert’s Surprise: Part III: Scandal


Something is very wrong at the USCCB

March 13th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

What’s ‘wrong’? Is it not a matter of priorities? In these first writings to Secretary of State Tillerson, the USCCB uses the power of its office (notice: I do not say to represent Catholics, as it clearly doesn’t as the subjects are for our prudential judgment) to support a UN Climate Fund, and to craft policy for the Israel – Palestinian situation, putting forth Pope Francis’ call for a 2-state solution in the mid-east.  Might not one legitimately see these first three letters to the Secretary as representing what is “most important?” Where does abortion, protection of marriage, not forcing immoral policies on the rest of the world, and the looming threat of euthanasia occur in the priorities?  Red text underlined is highlighted from the bishops’ letter; red text in [brackets] is my commentary.  Here is the “climate change” letter to Tillerson from the USCCB.  (Note: my own response, prompted by Pope Francis’ release of the Encyclical Laudato Si’, was first compiled in a 15 post series here on Cleansing Fire (search on Laudato), and resulted in being expanded into the book “Half a Dialogue.”  Info is available at


February 17, 2017

The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson,

It is our prayer that you may be blessed with wisdom as you begin your term of office as Secretary of State.

Today, we write about our shared obligation to care for the environment. The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood “the environment” to be a gift from God. From time immemorial, the people of our nation have recognized this gift in our abundant and beautiful lands, pristine waters and clear skies. Rooted in this tradition, Pope Francis called on the world’s leaders to come together to protect the gift of our common home. Sadly, environmental issues can be politicized for partisan agendas and used in public discourse to serve different economic, social, political and ideological interests. By presenting the care for creation from an ethical and moral standpoint, the Pope has invited all to rise above these unhelpful divisions. We have one common home, and we must protect it.

There is no environmental issue that has been as ideologically contested as climate change. In his encyclical letter, Laudato si’, Pope Francis rejected a narrow understanding of climate change that excludes natural causes and other factors.  At the same time, he recognized that “a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity” (LS 23). This nuanced understanding of climate change, which you appear to share, creates space for reasonable people to recognize, without controversy, that the climate is changing and highlights the importance of adaptation in response. [Should it not also create “space for reasonable people to recognize” the feeble basis for attempting to create scientific ‘truth’ through consensus rather than through adequate science?] 

Adaptation policy is fundamentally concerned with helping God’s creatures and all human beings, especially those who are poor, to adapt to the effects of climate change, regardless of the causes.  From the perspective of Catholic social teaching, adaptation ranks among the most important actions we can take. The poor and vulnerable disproportionately suffer from hurricanes, floods, droughts, famines and water scarcities. Climate change is one more good reason for Christians to live up to what we should be doing in the first place: “For I was hungry you gave me food, I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25, 35). Globally, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) furthers the cause of adaptation by supporting developing nations in building resilience and recovering from the impacts of climate change around the world. Such resilience improves lives and promotes stability and security.  We urge you to support the GCF through your role as Secretary of State. [Why are Catholic Bishops pushing a secular “Fund” under the aegis of the United Nations, and its abhorrent “sustainability” objectives?]

Uncompromising support for adaptation policies in no way excludes efforts to mitigate the anthropogenic contributors to climate change. The future of mitigation is intimately connected to global energy use, where progress will necessarily require an energy revolution. As you know, the global community currently faces a tremendous challenge in delivering not only sustainable, efficient and clean energy, but also energy that is secure, affordable, accessible and equitable. This will require ingenuity, investment and enterprise, all virtues of the American people. Our leading scientists and engineers, research institutions and energy companies have already made great strides towards developing affordable clean energy. Through investments in infrastructure and technology the U.S. government has the unique opportunity to reach energy security and assert its global leadership in growing a sustainable energy sector.

We want to reaffirm the importance of U.S. leadership and commitment to the Paris agreement. In 2015, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops affirmed that funding for climate change related adaptation and mitigation programs as part of the Paris agreement – especially through the GCF – is urgently needed if we are to meet our common and differentiated responsibilities for the effects of climate change. We also underscored the importance to act within our own country to curtail carbon emissions that contribute to the problem and assist vulnerable populations. The Paris agreement is a key step towards both these goals. [The Paris “agreement” is a step toward implementing UN objectives such as abortion, same-sex unions, and controlling funding to poorer countries who resist based on their faith.]

This is a time of both uncertainty and significant opportunity for our nation and world. Filled with hope in God, we pray that your work may contribute to America’s material, social and spiritual wealth and further solidarity across the world.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice
Chair, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sean L. Callahan
President and CEO
Catholic Relief Services [the scandal plagued Catholic Relief Services! ]


Previous communications from the USCCB to Secretary of State Tillerson, since his confirmation, include the following: 

On Israel and Palestine  2/1/17

On Nuclear Disarmament  2/14/17

Other commentary:


Holy Hour, Adoration, Benediction with Bishop Matano

March 13th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

On SuMonastery photo 7nday, March 19th,  there will be a Holy Hour, Adoration and Benediction.

Bishop Matano will preside, at the Carmelite Monastery.

The intention is for more vocations.

The time is 4:00 – 5:00 PM.

Monastery is located at 1931 West Jefferson Rd., Pittsford.

Everyone is welcome.


Monastery photo 8


Friday Link Roundup

March 10th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

As someone who promoted the “What is Marriage?” paper w/out knowing the distinction between the old natural lawyers and the classical natural lawyers, I must now redirect you to Ed Feser’s “In Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument”, a chapter he’s made freely available from his book “Neo-Scholastic Essays” (linked from this post).

Along these lines, but from a completely different angle, Austin Ruse points out the danger of not fully exposing the homosexual agenda and instead simply falling back on, “hey man, I just want my religious freedom” in Homo Homophobia.

My conclusion from reading Feser and Ruse is that sexually deviant behavior needs to be argued against and decried instead of merely talking about the beauty of marriage and religious freedom. Obviously this takes a good amount of courage to do.

Parents would do well to boycott Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast. Please do your best to stop fueling the beast that is the Disney empire.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ will introduce world to first gay Disney character

“Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

There are many great resources to be found at (linked from NLM).

“CANTATE DOMINO CANTICUM NOVUM” A Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music you’ll want to read this and bookmark it for future reference.

“Mass recalls heroic efforts of late priest, nun”, By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier


Some Weekend Masses Cancelled (due to wind storm)

March 10th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The Diocesan Courier today announced that two churches have cancelled Masses this weekend (March 11th and 12th) due to storm damage:

“Some parishes in Monroe County sustained property damage and have been without power for an extended period of time in the wake of a windstorm on March 8. In light of this, two local parishes have canceled their weekend Masses.

St. Paul Church, 783 Hard Road, Webster, and Our Mother of Sorrows Church, 5000 Mt. Read Blvd., Greece, have canceled all weekend Masses March 11 and 12.”

The Courier also provides a list of Masses nearby. If we find out that more Masses are cancelled, we will added them here.


KofC, St. Mark’s, and Focus Pregnancy Center on the TV News

March 9th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Kudos to WHEC News 10 for this story:
Friday fish fry tradition feeds faithful… and area charities

Also, the Sisters of Life (pictured) recently visited the Focus Pregnancy Center among other stops in our area. Thank you, sisters, for stopping by.


Finally, here is some info regarding an upcoming event. (JPG Flier) (PDF Flier)

Focus Pregnancy Center

An evening with
Dr. Karen Dalton

Thursday, April 27

Dr. Dalton will be speaking about her experiences helping women choose life.

St. Anne Parish Center
1600 Mount Hope Avenue
Rochester, NY

Complimentary catered meal of deli sandwiches and salads will be served

We hope you will take this opportunity to support Focus and its ministries with a kind donation.

Or call Rick Paoletti (585) 489-9555


Convert’s Surprise: Part I: Overview

March 9th, 2017, Promulgated by Administrator

I am delighted to introduce my very close friend, Rhonda Jones, and her testimony to the Cleansing Fire readers.  Rhonda is a convert to Catholicism from Judaism.  In a five-part series she will describe three significant events post-conversion which would surely have shaken the foundations of many people’s faith, convert or not.

Converts can have an even more painful experience than “Cradle Catholics” when events seem to strike at the very core of their trust, because in so many cases they have distanced themselves from the support network of prior friends (and even family) by making the choice to embrace Christ and Catholicism. 

In posting Rhonda’s testimony, I am shutting off the comments out of hospitality to a guest writer, but if you have a message you would like to get to Rhonda, please send it to me, at (or you can click on the staff link) and I will forward it as appropriate. 

Meeting Jesus

It was in the late 1990s when Jesus spoke to me through the Gospel story about Zacchaeus. I listened to the speaker and I listened to Christ. For this Jewish woman, nothing was the same again. I was in my late-40s and a decade into my new marriage, to which my Catholic husband Larry and I each had brought a son and a daughter. Our youngest child was still in high school. I had never given any previous thought to becoming Catholic. Then I heard Zacchaeus’ story and I was changed.  

Was it easy to suddenly become Christian? Yes and No! The truth about Jesus became absolutely clear to me in a moment’s time. That was the easy part. But with my two children being raised Jewish (Larry and his children were Catholic) and with my being the first in our extended family to convert, it was also painful. My Jewish-Jewish first marriage was annulled. Larry’s first wife was Catholic and died leaving two young children.

In a flash, I KNEW Jesus was the Messiah. There were no ifs, ands, or buts. No confusion. Just clarity. My life as a Jew had been transformed forever! Yet, Jesus teaches that following Him isn’t easy. In one sense, that was certainly true. On the other hand, having opened my heart to Him, I would never choose any other path!  What had been suddenly revealed to me about Him ( i.e. Truth) has never left me for a moment. I was shown the Truth, and the Truth has never changed. Moreover, He has never betrayed me. I have learned that my life should remain Christ-centered. No other shepherd is Christ!  So Larry and I have lived a process of trying to attach ourselves to Christ and put our trust only in Him.  


I hadn’t expected  to encounter schism, scandal, cult of personality, and confusion about established dogma. These have been tough challenges! What I had sought was Jesus: His Word and His Teachings. Unexpectedly and painfully, I found some other things among some leaders in the Church.

These experiences have sensitized us to certain traits in some shepherds. Our antennae go up when we encounter one whose sinfulness causes great harm to souls.  We are wary about priests who tend to draw more attention to their ways than to Christ’s Way. Disobedience and lying shows up in neon lights.  And we are especially sensitive to priests who ignore, change or water down Christ’s teachings. In a way it was like having our roof fixed. We have been “trained” like patrol dogs to notice certain scents to which others seem oblivious.

My disappointment in some priests has reminded me of a lesson I learned upon starting graduate work for clinical psychology. I quickly realized that not all psychologists (i.e. the faculty members) were warm, compassionate human beings. So it is no surprise that not all priests and prelates are what I expected or had hoped for. But God works good out of all suffering and pain, and He provided special blessings to us from these unpleasant experiences. Thankfully, Larry and I have never despaired over the True Church. My very holy, recently-deceased, Redemptorist Spiritual Director, Father Paul Miller, always taught me “to be aware but never to worry!”

I will present in chronological order three situations since my conversion that have caused not only great scandal in the Church but pain to us personally as well.  It is our own story and not a declaration of others’ experiences or views. But we feel that ours is worth telling, as it offers real examples of how situations and decisions of religious authorities affect real people.


Before that, however, I wish to turn to the help the Holy Spirit offers us at difficult or confusing moments. I have learned to turn to Him for understanding and guidance, such as in reading Scripture and in wanting to grow in holiness. Likewise, the Holy Spirit brings clarity and direction at times of confusion and hurt. Here is one of the best-known prayers to the Holy Spirit:

“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”

I present this because I have prayed it for years and only now, in preparing this presentation, have the words come alive to me! We are asking the Holy Spirit to instruct us in Truth (i.e. Christ Himself). And since Truth is not always easy to accept or naturally intuitive, I have come to understand from the prayer that the Holy Spirit provides us the gift of consolation for accepting and living by Truth. Through this process we help the Holy Spirit (and thus God) to “Renew the Face of the Earth,” in love!  This a living example of the contemporary term, “New Evangelization!”

Not only is this prayer powerful, but it is clear. Clarity is vital. Recall when Jesus met Nathaniel (aka Bartholomew). Jesus said, “There is no duplicity in him.” Clear. Similarly clear is the “Prayer to the Holy Spirit.” There is no confusion. There are no exceptions.  And this writer will never again call upon the Holy Spirit without remembering that Truth is being sought. Then Truth is given by the Holy Spirit along with any needed consolation. Through this dynamic relationship we not only assist in building the Kingdom of Christ and saving souls, but we also grow in holiness.

Three Painful Challenges During My Walk With Christ

In the next three segments I will share the story of how we personally experienced the schism at the church we attended in Rochester, NY; the public fall of the founder of a movement in the Catholic Church; and the unresolved confusion over Pope Francis’ position on a key aspect of dogma. I will describe how these have affected us and other members of the laity (and, in some cases, priests) we know. I will look for commonalities and offer perspectives and conclusions.

Next Entry: Convert’s Surprise: Part II: Schism


Sheltering in Place: Part II: Truth and Resources

March 4th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Some have interpreted “Sheltering in Place” as referring to protection under a government trying to decimate religion in the public square. Others have interpreted this series as referring to the current papacy and divisive issues which have arisen. Actually it can be either or both, and even more. If we are deprived of a bible because the government confiscates all bibles, or because it were to be edited to remove certain sins such as adultery in case of marriage, divorce and remarriage without annulment, the result is the same. Perhaps distortion of dogma and doctrine is the worse, but some principles apply to both cases. 

Sheltering in Place: Part II: Truth and Resources

“What is truth?” asked Pilate, as he looked Truth in the Face. And then he sent Jesus to the Cross.

Whatever actions we may take by “sheltering in place,” it is important to base those plans on the secure foundation of truth, for Christ Himself is  “…the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6.) The word ‘truth’ is used 21x in the Gospel of John.  In John 17:17, we are given Christ’s High Priestly Prayer to the Father regarding the apostles and, by extension, regarding us and His Church: “Sanctify them in the truth. Thy Word is truth.” Continuing in John 17:19, Christ prays: “And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be consecrated in Truth.”

Under the Wings of the Holy Spirit

I think one of the key elements of sheltering in place is at least having a sense of being consecrated to Truth, i.e. under the protection of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s prayer to the Father says it clearly: “Thy Word is truth.’ Yes, Christ is Truth. So too is the sacred word of the bible, and of 2000 years of the Deposit of Faith and Sacred Tradition, which even a Pope cannot change; a pope’s work is to protect, not change.  Fortunately, we are not casting about to find that Truth; it is readily accessible. It is a valid question to consider if we were under persecution in this country, or in a situation of ‘rupture’ in the Church, as the laity experienced during the Arian period, what resources would we wish we’d had in place?

The basic take-away regarding using and relying on trustworthy information depends directly on the teaching authority of the Church.  Modern controversies have no power over us, if they contradict what Christ has always taught through His Church.  We are not orphans, casting around for crumbs of spiritual food or deeper understanding; rather we are descendants of 2000 years of well-documented Church Teaching.  It is best in times of confusion and discord to rely on what has always been reliable, truth through the ages, and not be dissuaded or troubled by rumors not confirmed, or by abuses of power, miscommunication, or subtleties of translated, modern speeches positioned through unreliable media.

Treasury of Resources

If we were putting together a trove of materials to sustain us during a drought of teaching, we’d certainly begin with Sacred Scripture, Old and New Testaments, a solid commentary on the books of Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (a gift through Pope St. John Paul II), even Canon Law and its commentary.  And we might want to have duplicate copies, or resources available for others, if or when such resources are no longer available. For bibles, there is value in having different but acceptable translations, like the Douay, the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSV-CE), and the New American Bible (NAB).  The RSV-CE is the foundation translation for the English Language Catechism, and the NAB for liturgy in the U. S.  In addition, Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), a missal to “read the Mass” and a Catholic hymnal could be valuable additions. We should not assume in difficult times that we can just “Google” the  resources we might wish we had available.

Personal Resources

While the wide range of resources which unite us in faith is important, so too are personal resources which are deeply in our own practice, memory or family tradition. Like a grandparent’s rosary, a pyx to carry the Holy Eucharist, a crucifix, holy water, holy cards, scapulars, relics and other sacramentals. What else would you put on the list?

I have an old Last Rites set used at bedside for the anointing of the dying. Were one to “Shelter in Place” for a prolonged period, would we not prefer to be in a house that has been blessed? Or even had an Enthronement of the Sacred Heart?    That might just be good planning ahead.

One of my treasures is a little book my father carried every day, entitled “Catholics Pocket Manual,” with an imprimatur Dec. 4, 1905. That little book (and it1905 Catholic Handbooks 224 thin pages) covers an incredible amount of information, from morning and evening prayers to confession, from litanies to instructions to a “Clerk” on how to serve Mass.  I am particularly surprised at the contrast between preparing for confession today, and the significantly more extensive practice recommended 112 years ago. It is shown in the picture as approximate size.


While there certainly is enough for reading and re-reading many times in the resources mentioned above, if our ability to get untainted materials were to be limited, there may be a selection of other resources we’d like to have available. Besides, why wouldn’t we want to have some of these resources anyway? Ideas might include Lives of the Saints for inspiration, and books by solidly faithful authors, like Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI (especially the Jesus of Nazareth books) and Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, all in more modern times, but also classics like the following (in no particular order):

  • The Sadness of Christ by St. Thomas More,
  • Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Blessed Raymond of Capua,
  • Holy Man Fr. Damien of Molokai by Gavan Daws,
  • Sacred Then and Sacred Now by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.,
  • Story of a Soul by St.Therese of Lisieux,
  • The Sacrament of the Present Moment by de Caussade,
  • Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales,
  • Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis,
  • The Cure of Ars and the Holy Eucharist,
  • Interior Castles by Therese of Avila.

I’m sure there are better lists, more famous or more frequently cited, but I am thinking of which 10 I might limit myself to if I only had these to read and re-read, and these were the first that came to mind.  So if you have other ideas, please comment! One might add to the list of resources a number of DVD’s and CD’s, including inspiring religious music.  That will be excellent, as long as the grid doesn’t go down.

Times of turmoil

In times of great turmoil, such as the Church seems to be experiencing right now, it is natural for those most affected to wonder what to do. What is right? What is wrong? What information is reliable, what is not? What is true? To shelter in place effectively we want to know that the resources we have are true, and well-aligned to the Church’s teaching over two millennia.  So, we have started with those that are most necessary and reliable.

But the next questions would be about trying to read and interpret what is really happening, who can be trusted or not, especially among various media, among priests and their preaching, and among bishops and the magisterial office. We are in a time when bishops are openly disagreeing with each other, positions which can’t all be right. Which news is reliable and which isn’t? What agenda is really being played out? And where does this all fit with the galloping horse-hooves of the end times and of eternity, drawing ever nearer on the road behind us?


One, Holy — 4 years later

March 2nd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

For our friends who haven’t quite figured out all that is going on in and from the Vatican, the latest article from LifeSiteNews provides the cliff-notes:

Why should we be surprised at the seeming departures from traditional Church teaching when the enthroned tabernacle has been, for decades, moved off-center in so many churches, even to a remote location?

Maranatha! The Lord has come!  Marana tha!  Come Lord, Jesus!


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – March 2017

March 1st, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your March 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 March:

Support for Persecuted Christians.

That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.


Last Testament Excerpts

February 27th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

While I am a sincere fan of Pope Benedict’s writings, sometimes they do have a reputation for being complex, and dense with meaning to be unpacked. Sometimes I have to read the same sentence a few times.  But the “Last Testament” interview of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI with Peter Seewald (the interviewer in “Light of the World,” Ignatius Press 2010) was a real treat, a very personal sensing of the humanity of a gentle, humble, self-effacing yet candid papal figure. The book just “moved along.”  And, as expected, the Pope Emeritus did not say much at all regarding the person of Jorge Bergoglio.

On page 201, I read a statement by the interviewer: “The reauthorization of the Tridentine Mass is often interpreted primarily as a concession to the Society of St. Pius X.” It is not  phrased as a question (although the interviewer’s comment could of course have been edited). However, on turning the page, I was very surprised, perhaps shocked is a better word, by the Pope Emeritus’ reply, which is straightforward regarding the matter at hand, but then changes, quite frankly, to a barely related closing five lines of significant import:

CF LT p 202 Benedict 2B



Those last five lines are worth reading a few times. To me, it seems the closest that the Pope Emeritus has come to a criticism, gentle but well-founded.  To me, also, “those people” is interesting usage, for the people most lead astray, who need to be led back into unity (“if possible!!!) are Cardinals and bishops and priests. Would that they would hear in these words the admonition of Christ Himself!

There are several other interesting or charming or spiritually revealing comments in Last Testament, worth sharing as long as we have the book ‘open.’

+ When asked if he has ever had a crisis of Faith, the Pope Emeritus says no, adding that he “has always been held firm ” i.e. not that he has always held firm. He witnesses to being in God’s Hand, adding “Thanks be to God.” p 207

Diminishing his own insight, intense study and depth of understanding, he states “… when I thought I had the fundamental insights, new things were given to me again.”  Thus, the brilliant scholar acknowledges it all comes to him from God. p 207

+ The Pope Emeritus makes an interesting case for volunteerism being healthier in a church community than paid employees.  Much of that problem, I believe, exists in the U.S. where insurance considerations, e.g., have led to rejecting or over-regulating volunteers.  The example he uses is the excess of money in Germany to pay these employees (p 217), due to the tax deductions paid out to the various churches, enriching them beyond need.  It was particularly interesting to read of the Pope Emeritus’ criticism of excommunication of people in Germany if they fail to pay into the fund for the Church.

February 28, 2013 —  Pope Benedict’s helicopter lifts off to take him to Castel Gandolfo, and the next stage of his life.




Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn following the lead of Cardinal Coccopalmerio

February 22nd, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

We’re getting closer to home… Putting ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Into Practice by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

Recently, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, published a book entitled “The Eighth Chapter of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.” The short book outlines the canonical and moral procedures necessary in order to effectuate the internal solution. I am anxiously waiting to read this book

Ed Pentin covered this here:
Vatican Cardinal: Some in Irregular Unions Can Receive the Sacraments
subtitle: Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio pens short booklet on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ arguing the pastoral practice could be acceptable if such persons “desire to change” their sinful situation.

Catholics living in “irregular unions” including some civilly remarried divorcees can receive the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist if they desire to change their sinful situation but cannot amend it because it would lead to further sin, the head of the Vatican’s department for interpreting Church law has said.

As a reminder, there are many (including Cardinal Muller, the prefect of the CDF) who see this as a clear break from Catholic tradition and even the words of Our Lord.

The Pope Is Silent, But Cardinal Müller Speaks. Who Responds To the “Dubia” This Way

Q: The exhortation of Saint John Paul II, “Familiaris Consortio,” stipulates that divorced and remarried couples that cannot separate, in order to receive the sacraments must commit to live in continence. Is this requirement still valid?

A: Of course, it is not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments. The confusion on this point also concerns the failure to accept the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” with the clear doctrine of the “intrinsece malum.” […] For us marriage is the expression of participation in the unity between Christ the bridegroom and the Church his bride. This is not, as some said during the Synod, a simple vague analogy. No! This is the substance of the sacrament, and no power in heaven or on earth, neither an angel, nor the pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it.


Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: “Martyrs belong to our own times and in most unexpected moments.”

February 17th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

h/t Interstate Catholic.

Rev George J Weinmann (1890 – 1967) – Find A Grave Memorial

Sr Lilian Marie McLaughlin (1941 – 1967) – Find A Grave Memorial


Some Cardinal Questions

February 14th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Is Cardinal Sarah being forced out?

Lifesite News is doing a masterful job of following the roller-coaster of Vatican politics.  Jan Bentz writes: “While Cardinal Sarah (Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) seems to have perfectly continued the Benedictine idea of the ‘reform of the reform’ of the liturgy, it does not seem that Pope Francis sees much value in putting these kinds of questions into a public discussion. That is why he has asked Cardinal Sarah not to follow up on this thought [of the ‘reform of the reform’] in his function as prefect for the Congregation for Liturgy and also not to use the term ‘reform of the reform’ anymore.”  This came in the wake of Pope Francis’ changing all of the people who served in the dicastery headed by Cardinal Sarah to a more liberal breed.   More of the apparent recent silencing can be read here:

Is Cardinal Coccopalmerio a Vatican chess piece? 

Is Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio’s new booklet an attempt to answer the dubia? An attempt to destroy 2000 year old teaching?  A move to suppress dissent? “The Eighth Chapter of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia” seems to argue for violating the fundamental principle that adulterers should refrain from receiving the Holy Eucharist, a principle of millennial standing. and  and

Is Cardinal Burke being harassed?  

Is he a ‘victim soul’ for love of the Church?   Is the Malta situation being used as a straw man to defame Cardinal Burke?

Are all the Cardinals still Catholic?

Well that is harder to assess. Pope Francis set up a little cabinet for himself of geographically diverse Cardinals, called the “Council of Cardinals.”  IMO this shows the serious stress created in any institution when some are given more power and influence than colleagues previously seen as “equals.”  The endower of such distinction usually expects a certain level of personal loyalty for having differentiated such members of the inner circle, and eventually the chit is called.  Apparently that has just happened with the little cabinet. It is hard to serve two masters.  Read it carefully. What is “his” magisterium? And how is it different from the Church’s magisterium?  And a follow-up to the Vatican intrigue:

Cult of Obedience — a Danger to Souls?

There seems to be a poison running through the veins of the Vatican and in my opinion it stems from the mindless obedience of the Jesuit order historically.  To read more on the problem of dehumanizing control, read the second part of an excellent article on Rotate Coeli here:  Scroll down to II. “True and False Obedience.”  If ‘ordered’ to support and agree with Pope Francis, those who subscribe to this as a required obedience simply see any guilt they may have as transferred to the person doing the ordering.

I have personally experienced this attitude even in the Diocese of Rochester.  Twice I heard a priest preach:  “If the Pope said something was black and I could clearly see it was white, I would say it is black.”  I asked “Father, how could you say that?  You would be lying!” Nevertheless, he maintained that is what he would do.  For me, it was simply a warning to stay far away from such Jesuitical and Clericalist influence, as I believe it is a threat to souls. How can anything built on falsehood not be an affront to God?

Even Peter and John had the experience with the Sanhedrin of being ordered by high level religious authority: “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered:  We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27 – 29). How much is this ‘blind obedience’ factor influencing what is occurring in Rome? How much does it deform souls and their ability to discern rationally?



A Crisis of Relevance or a Crisis of Faith?

February 10th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It is useless to propose solutions if one hasn’t clearly defined the root of a problem. We all know there are major problems in the Catholic Church today; around the world as well as in our backyard. One major problem is that young people are leaving the Church. Of the few who stay, even fewer have given the slightest consideration to the priesthood or a religious vocation. These are serious problems that will impact all of us. The existing institution cannot be maintained as it is. We are supporting an unsustainable system. Catholic-Lite is a dying institution. As serious as these problems are the fundamental/root issue goes even deeper. Here is where the progressives and the orthodox diverge in their opinions. The progressive claims that the church isn’t relevant enough. If she would just change a few things here and there, then we could get it all back on the rails (for those progressives who even care – many don’t care that the Church is dying). The orthodox claims that the problem is one of faith. If there is a problem of faith, there is absolutely nothing we can do that will bear fruit. Faith in what the Church teaches is the bare minimum. It’s the starting point. If you don’t have it, you will fall right out of the gate. To reject just one article of the faith is to reject the whole thing. Most young people can’t even be blamed with rejecting the faith because they truly have no idea what the faith is. Many young people are lost well before they would even be interested in reading the Catholic Courier (even the hipster version). This orthodox position is the only valid position. History confirms it. Recent statistics confirm it. God confirms it. There is no denying it.

This is long winded introduction to mention a depressing article I saw in the Catholic Courier a little while back.
Courier, parishes seek young adults

SIDE NOTE: Mark Hare is the D&C journalist who rallied for same sex marriage in NYS (among other unorthodox positions). To my knowledge he has not publicly repented of this position. Mark, your efforts are futile until you embrace God’s teaching in its entirety. To the Catholic Courier, why is Mark Hare on your board?

The reason I find this article so depressing is because of how little attention is given to the root of the problem and the real solution to it all. The article clearly leans toward the “crisis of relevance” opinion. It reads very much like proposed solutions to the failing city school districts… we just need more money, more technology, more … school… and we can turn it around. I’ll let you judge and comment for yourselves, but in response I would simply say that bolstering faith in God and His Church is not all that much of a mystery. It doesn’t require spending countless hours working on mission statements and forming committees. We already have our mission statement (Scripture, Magisterial documents, the writings of the Saints) and our committee (the Saints). Finding spiritual success really is very easy. God does all the hard work for us. If we simply provide good, reverent, and prayerful liturgy (not just the Mass, but Vespers, Adoration/Benediction, etc), provide more than 30 min of confession times each week, teach the people all of the truths (not just liberal politics) and challenge them that you expect them to accept them and live by them, encourage spiritual reading, mental prayer, etc. Teach about the Saints. They are amazingly inspiring. Teach the Scriptures, not just your favorite 2 parts from the Sermon on the Mount. It really isn’t rocket science.

Besides my ramblings, I’ll present our Bishop who understands the root of the problem:

Youths excel with encouragement, prayer, example

Throughout the history of our church, young people have been recognized for their heroic virtue and declared blessed or saints by the church. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati… St. Stanislaus Kostka … St. Elizabeth of Hungary … St. Thérèse of Lisieux … These are only some of the young people who have been declared blessed or saints at a youthful age. Our youths are capable of extraordinary accomplishments. What they need is our encouragement and, above all, our prayers and good example: the practice of our faith and the example of our lives lived in union with Jesus Christ.

and this:
Mass on Feb. 26 will recall heroic priest, nun

A priest and nun who died heroically in a church fire will be commemorated with a 50th-anniversary Mass Sunday, Feb. 26. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will celebrate the liturgy at 10:30 a.m. at Church of the Annunciation, 1754 Norton St., Rochester.

many have regarded Father Weinmann and Sister McLaughlin as martyrs for their deeds. The tabernacle from that 1967 tragedy is now housed in the eucharistic chapel at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

I would encourage the Catholic Courier not to spend too much time on a wild goose chase and instead realize that tradition is for the young.