Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Well Woman

March 9th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This coming weekend’s Gospel (3rd Sunday of Lent) is from the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 4, in which Jesus meets a woman of Samaria at the village well in the noon-day heat. He asks her for water, and their conversation leads to what He can give to her, i.e. “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The Woman at the Well
Irish Dominicans

John’s Gospel was most likely written after those of the three synoptic authors. He adds stories not found in the other Gospels, such as the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the one we consider here, the Woman at the Well. The evangelist also brings out points for the sake of clarity we might otherwise miss, like the implication in the Passion of the temple soldiers falling down in the Garden before the Great “I AM.”

In the prayerful practice of Lectio Divina, we are encouraged to experience sacred writings, especially from the Gospels, as if we had been there, inserting ourselves as bystanders, or even as persons involved in the story. We know we have been given what the Holy Spirit considers necessary in the Scripture for our spiritual growth but, sometimes, in our own meditation / reflection on a scripture passage, we can imagine, based on Who we know Jesus to be, how He speaks to us, how He loves us, what else might have transpired.

The woman herself rouses our curiosity when she says to her neighbors: “Come, see a Man Who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29)  Verse 39 states: “Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.'” After the townspeople meet Christ, we read in verse 42: “They said to the woman: ‘It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.'”

Many stories from the Gospels can leave us wondering “What else did Jesus say?” But there is a unique invitation to us to step into the words of this woman because of the three-fold reference to her witnessing that “He told me all that I ever did.” As we read this Chapter 4, we find some words implying Christ knows of her past, but it would be quite a stretch to say “all that I ever did.” We can prayerfully ponder just what might be consistent with the Gospel, even what those words might mean for us today.

Here, then, is just one such reflection on what it means to be “A Well Woman.”

“Jesus said to her, ‘Go call your husband and come back.’   The woman answered and said to Him, ‘I do not have a husband.’  Jesus answered her, ‘You are right in saying, “I do not have a husband.”  For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.  What you have said is true.”’ These are indeed the words of the Gospel; to reflect further, we try to understand what the woman might have ‘heard’ in Christ’s speaking Truth to her. Maybe He said …?

“Your first husband wanted you for your beauty, and you wanted to be wanted for your beauty.  Then a more beautiful woman came along and he followed her.  My child, you are beautiful to your Heavenly Father.  He designed your beauty and is the only one Who sees the depth of your beauty, the only one Who can truly appreciate your beauty, all the way into your soul.  Even when you are aged, you will be beautiful to your Father in Heaven.”

“You called your relationship with your second husband love, but it was lust.  He wanted to possess you, as a trophy, until a greater trophy was found.  You will never be truly possessed until possessed by Love, by the Father Who is Love, and loves you more than you can ever love yourself.”

“Your third husband wanted service, and used you.  Your heart tried to give itself to an earthly master, but felt divided between two masters.  You can never give enough to win an earthly heart, nor ever withhold so much as to lose the Divine Heart.  You will never find one truly worthy of your service until you serve your God, Himself, with your whole being.”

“You married your fourth husband for his wealth, and he left you nothing when he died.  You had less than when you began.  And if he had provided for you, you would still not have been satisfied.  Only the riches that your Heavenly Father has stored up for you will satisfy you, true treasure of the Spirit.”

“Your fifth husband you sought for protection, and well you needed protection.  But he abused you instead, and you’ve fled from him.  Woman, the only true protection comes from the Father.  Even in your distress, you didn’t go hungry, you were clothed and sheltered.  Whom do you think has always been providing for you?  There is no protection for the lamb except under the Shepherd’s cloak.”

“From the man with whom you now live, you expect very little, and shall receive very little.  Even the companionship of a face in the early morning will bore you.  You yearn for so much more, and have sought it in your husbands, but only your Father, from whom you keep running away, can be a true companion to you, every hour of the day and night.  You will not be satisfied until you worship the Father, and then you will need no other.  The Father has sent Me to you, to quench your thirst….”

“Daughter, He Whom you have most wanted is waiting for you to turn to Him, to see the beauty of your soul in Him, to experience love beyond compare, to accept your service to His Holy Name, to share with you the riches of  His Kingdom, to protect you from the ravagers of your spirit, and to offer you the companionship that never withers, closer to you than you are to yourself.  Daughter, look to the true Lover of your soul to quench your thirst.”


Tragic Destruction of Religious Life continues

March 2nd, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Church Militant details the story of the Vatican’s abolishing a religious fraternity of traditionalist priests in Italy (summary excerpts shown below):


“The archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio announced that the Society of Apostolic Life Familia Christi (Family of Christ) has been suppressed by the Holy See following the conclusion of a canonical procedure that lasted for two years.” The decree was issued Dec. 13, 2019 and published Feb. 28, 2020.

“The priestly fraternity was assigned pastoral care of the parish of Santa Maria in Vado and the rectorate of the Basilica of the Prodigious Blood, the site of an extraordinary Eucharistic miracle which took place on March 28, 1171. When Fr. Pietro da Verona broke the host while celebrating Mass, a stream of blood gushed from it, so vigorous that it hit the vault above the altar. The traces of blood are visible to this day on the right side of the transept of the basilica.”

“Sources said that the suppression of Familia Christi was intended to stamp out the legacy of the previous archbishop, Luigi Negri, one of the last appointments of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.”

It was Negri, who had authorized and installed the Priestly Fraternity of the Familia Christi (FSFC) in the archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio….Negri publicly denounced Freemasonry, confronted the LGBT lobby, challenged Satanic sects in his archdiocese, … and condemned excessive solicitude for migrants when Italians in poverty were being neglected.”

See much more, here:  and beautiful site pictures as well. Support Church Militant also by signing up as a Premium User. Pray for priests.


See also background information on the subject diocese:


Ash Wednesday Reflection

February 26th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Some years ago, on Ash Wednesday, I was at a board meeting in Santa Barbara, and I managed to find a 5:30 PM Mass at the University and just make it back to the hotel, a little bit late, for a very nice dinner with about 50 people.  Of course, I took a lot of ribbing about a “dirty forehead” and I just smiled.  No explanation necessary.  About midway through dinner, the waiter who was clearing one of the courses kept staring at my forehead.  I didn’t think much more about it, until I got up to go to the ladies room.  He said to me, in the hallway, in very broken English, with a strong Hispanic accent, “You have ashes today.”  I nodded.  He said, sadly, “First time I miss.  Have to work. Two shifts today.  I miss ashes.  First time.”  And I could see that he was very sad.  I told him that I was very sorry for him.  After returning to my table, his sadness was all I could think about.

Then I remembered I had seen laity dispense the ashes.  I said a prayer that I wouldn’t be violating any Church rules, and sought him out as I was leaving after dinner.  He was just returning from the kitchen for another load of dirty dishes.  Stopping him in the privacy of a side hallway, while everyone else went to the elevators, I took my thumb, rubbed some ashes off my forehead, and made a cross of them onto his forehead, whispering: “Remember, man,  thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”  Tears welled up in his eyes.  He said “I have ashes?  I really have ashes?  Can you see them?”  I assured him that I could see them; he kept saying thank you, we both smiled.

Connected for a moment, I know I will never see him again in this lifetime.  He felt blessed, but I was truly blessed, by such opportunity from God to share what I had. Sometimes we don’t know what we have, until we don’t have it.  Every Ash Wednesday I remember his tears, and his joy, and my being blessed too.  And I understand, just a little bit more, about the Communion of Saints.


Pence & Prayer — Coronavirus taskforce PICTURE on Ash Wed

February 26th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Is the Corona Virus an end-times Plague?

February 17th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

One of our recent lectionary readings was from First Chronicles, about how King David had seriously sinned by carrying out a census of the people of Israel and Judah. David sought the Lord in anguish for his sin and was given a choice of one of three penalties [penances]. From 1 Chronicles 21:9-14 we read:

“And the LORD spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, ‘Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you; choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’ So Gad came to David and said to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Take which you will: either three years of famine; or three months of devastation by your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you; or else three days of the sword of the LORD, pestilence upon the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now decide what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.’ Then David said to Gad, ‘I am in great distress; let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercy is very great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.’ So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel; and there fell seventy thousand men of Israel.”

The Pestilence of the Census is but one example in the Old Testament of God’s willingness to use plague and pestilence and other punishments upon a people as a discipline for not honoring their commitment (Covenant) to Him, even visiting the sin of the leader upon the subjects not directly responsible for the king’s errancy. Similarly, God visits a rapid plague-like destruction upon the Assyrian troops encamped in siege outside Jerusalem’s gates readying their attack for the next morning. Second Kings 19:35 recounts the result of the Lord’s protection of His People:

“And that night the angel of the LORD went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”  The rapidity of such a result implies a raging plague of some sort, as no mention is made of battle wounds, not unlike the First Passover in Egypt, when the Lord destroyed the first born sons of Egypt.

Is there a connection to the Corona ‘virus’?

In the two biblical stories mentioned above, God did not keep it a secret “why” He smote the object of His rage. David quickly confessed to a sinful taking of the Census, and those in Judah knew slaying the Assyrians, cruelest of peoples, was for protection by their God Who had acted in their defense.

So, too, if there were a reason for Almighty God to send the Corona virus into China (and/or allow it to propagate rapidly), might not God  give such a hint of what had offended Him? What mocked Him?  Perhaps He did. How did the virus get its name? What does “corona” mean? [Certainly not a beer.]  Corona is Latin (yes, Latin!) for “crown.” And, quite simply, and appallingly, the leadership of China has removed the Crown from God’s head and placed it on the head of the national leadership.  Such a sin would scream to heaven for retribution, even being visited upon their own people, and beyond. How quickly the virus, or plague, or pestilence has spread, and how ‘other worldly’ it seems in its rapid morphing into other forms and mutations. [There has been a report that the Corona entity does not mutate, but it is probably too soon to know for sure, as various biological entities mutate over different periods of time. The implication of non-mutation is that the corona is a chemical rather than biological entity, something like a deadly poison, perhaps even a war strategy gone awry.]

It is worth also pointing out that such a sin by a civil government in taking God’s image or prerogatives unto itself is still that old-fashioned, ever-present sin of idolatry, the one most mocking of God, and the one He punishes most severely.

More ‘light’ can be shed on the meaning of corona, a noun, being also the name of a crown or circlet suspended from the roof or vaulting of churches, to hold tapers lighted on solemn occasions, shining light and glory to the area of worship. It is sometimes formed of double or triple circlets, arranged pyramidically, and also called a corona lucis.  But the leadership of China has been destroying Catholic Churches, taking out far  more than a stand of lights, but eliminating even places of worship!

The Latin word seems to have derived from its prior Greek use, particularly meaning a laurel given for a military victory. It is also a name applied to a garland or wreath in sports (like the Olympics). However, the use of “crown” in the Greek New Testament uses a different word: stephanos, less a military victory or power, and more aligned to the image of a “Crown of Thorns.”

It appears that China won its laurels by taking advantage of bad representation by the Vatican against the underground heroic Chinese, who outlasted all but being sold out and into slavery by their own brothers. 

China delayed in reacting quickly enough to contain the virus; so, technically, it has ‘gone out to the whole world.’ It remains to be seen if the Vatican, co-conspirator against the underground Catholic Church of China, will receive their fair share of the burden of guilt, or if this is just a warning which can be mollified by prayer and repentance. The entire world is at risk. The entire world is waiting to see if the Vatican hierarchy will redeem themselves and their Chinese flock, or if God will intervene (or is intervening already.)

What can be done? If it is from God, how can anyone expect to slow or stop the spread of corona without first acknowledging the grievous sin against the Chinese underground church, seeking forgiveness, trying to atone and repair as much as possible, and accepting the concomitant suffering? Oh, yes, and by humbly restoring God’s Crown where it belongs. If growth of corona continues apace, and if the fatality rate begins to approach one-third, it will be increasingly difficult to argue this is not the Hand of God, directly or permissively.

Is Plague part of God’s Plan?

In a word, yes. The Book of Revelation warns of apocalyptic plagues. The Greek content of Revelation, vividly describing the endtimes phenomena, uses the word ple-ge (pronounced ‘play-gay’) for plagues. Here are the mentions from Revelation of plague and plagues:

Rev 9:18  By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulphur issuing from their mouths.”

Rev 9:20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot either see or hear or walk;

 Rev 11:6 “They have power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”

 Rev 15:1  Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and wonderful, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.”

 Rev 15:6 “ … and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, and their breasts girded with golden girdles.”

Rev 15:8 “… and the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended.”

 Rev 16:9  “… men were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.”

Rev 16:21  “… and great hailstones, heavy as a hundred-weight, dropped on men from heaven, till men cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague.”

Rev 18:4  Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;….”

Rev 18:8  “… so shall her plagues come in a single day, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she shall be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”

Rev 21:9  Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”



These mentions of plagues are excerpts only, pointing to the entirety of Revelation, and not intended to reduce or skew any of the Holy Teaching of Jesus Christ, but rather to whet our appetites to study further.

Rev 22:18 I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,

Rev 22:19 and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”



Consecration to St. Joseph begins Sunday, Feb. 16th

February 15th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Consecration to         St. Joseph


One piece of Lenten Reading is flying off Amazon’s shelves:  “Consecration to St. Joseph.”  Wouldn’t it be wonderful, albeit on a simple level, if this helped the souls who run Amazon to at least treat Christians as a bonafide market segment, and not as an enemy?

Consecration to St. Joseph in Leap Year begins on Sunday, Feb. 16th, and ends on March 19th, the Feast of St. Joseph, 33 days later.

If this is indeed ‘The Time of St. Joseph’ beckoning souls, Father Donald Calloway’s new book will help readers to find the way.


Remnant: “Stay together; protect the Church”

February 12th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Even though Donald Trump is the most pro-life President the U.S. has ever had, and his actions far outstrip that of the US Bishops as a body, (they are not even making the preeminence of life the key election point), Trump is resented deeply by the Vatican because he won’t let America be diminished under international coalitions like the Parish Climate Accord or in paying blackmail to Iran, or protecting US borders. At the beginning of his presidency he went respectfully to Rome, but Pope Francis was already opposed to Trump and it only has gotten worse. Americans’ constitutional rights are at risk; socialists support Pope Francis as if he were their mentor in turning the Catholic Church into masonic turf.

Michael Matt, 27 minutes from The Remnant

Clear words are needed to speak on these matter to the Body of Christ in terms of our love for our Holy Mother Church and our obligations to her. Michael Matt is in the right place at the right time to make such points clearly. His latest 27 minute exhortation is well worth listening to, and then re-listening. The point is not to let ourselves become fragmented and then ineffectual.

Listen to  especially when Jeffrey Sachs, population suppressor and multilateral darling, proclaims the United States (and Donald Trump) to be the greatest problems in the world. Begin at 14:30 minutes on the video if you only have a few minutes to view the degree to which America and Trump are villainized by our own Church.  Hatred would not be too strong a word. Matt also gives advice on a question which surfaced a few years ago, and has been raging for several months, about certain technical arguments related to the election of Pope Francis and the status of the Pope Emeritus. In that matter, all we can do is pray, and beg God for His Intervention.



Synod Report, Exhortation, and a Holy Pope’s Pain

February 12th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris


No Openings for Married Priests Nor Women Deacons in Pope’s Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Amazon ‘Querida Amazonia’ (*Full Text*)

No Openings for Married Priests Nor Women Deacons in Pope’s Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Amazon ‘Querida Amazonia’ (*Full Text*)


ON THE OTHER HAND, the first comment on this post of the Pope’s Post-Synodal Exhortation is by Mary-Kathleen, whose comment is now added to “Post” status, so we don’t miss it. She states:

Mary-Kathleen says:

Hold on and read this:

“Many early reactions to the document are celebrating the lack of such an innovation as a win. Some give credit to the book by Cardinal Sarah and Pope Benedict. Others are even attributing it to a victory of the Holy Spirit.

“But not so fast!

“Everything we were concerned about in the final synod document is still there; it’s just been cleverly concealed. This is because the exhortation is, itself, a presentation of a Magisterialized™ version of that final document.”


For further understanding, please see the detail here:



Governing through ambiguity (and that, too, is deliberately ambiguous):

Vatican Presser:…final-document-is-not


A day after the confusion, Vatican Voice affirms Pope Francis’ exhortation is magisterial, not the “final report.”…final-document-is-not?



What do the Wildfires Mean? – Part TWO

February 9th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Since Wildfires Part I appeared here, much has occurred in the ensuing weeks,  events which challenged returning to that subject in a timely way.  Meanwhile, the Church has been tending to wildfires of her own, such as the threat against the vow and charism of priestly celibacy, the schismatic threat of German Synodality, the intrusion once again of the endless whine for women’s ordination, and the prideful exposure of deeper and higher levels of homosexual activism among disordered clerics.

Amidst such trauma to the Body of Christ, the Pope gets ready to release his words on the Amazon Synod, and (maybe) a long-awaited report on the McCarrick scandal, and — oh yes – changes, to the Our Father, beginning in Italy, i.e. changes to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 6:13, which have stood for two millennia: “And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.”

Without losing any more time, we move on to Wildfires Part II, and try to understand what is happening, and maybe even ‘why.’ In Part I we looked at the extraordinary fire damage decimating Australia. But Australia isn’t the only continent playing brinksmanship with conflagration. As in Australia, many of the Amazon fires are man-made, some started deliberately by ‘fire-stick” agriculture which burns off the vegetative cover to make way for a new crop. Other incidents of wildfire seem likely to have been started by saboteurs bent on creating control and publicity for huge political actions in the ‘cause’ of climate change. Both represent out-of-control situations.

Another commonality between Australia and the Amazon is the incidence of wildfire occurrence being high among the indigenous peoples of both continents. It is principally their lands which are being severely damaged, even irreparably, and which well may lead to their being driven off the land and into city ghettos which can deliver services into a compact area. While the farming practices of these indigenous people has caused so much damage, it isn’t beyond the range of serious questioning whether or not such destruction is or is not part of the plan to make “climate change” more relevant to those who pay the bill!

Are wildfires accelerating or receding? It is an odd situation to look at with a scientific eye. Googling for 2020 fire maps yielded a variety of maps, but without dates. A few touted “24 hours ago!” but without a date it means nothing. One site dated a map with extensive fire shown as “August 22nd.” But doesn’t mention the year! Unlike the Australian data, the Amazon fire maps and projections seem far more focused on creating fear and panic. Of course, from a different angle, it might also be true that the Australian dialogue is perhaps a bit unwilling to admit how bad it is and may become. The Brazil map above shows data from 2019.

Oslo Report gives hints

An interesting report came out of Oslo, and it raises the question implicitly just how much is natural disaster in Brazil and how much is contrived. The Victoria Klesty article (Reuters) is entitled “Amazon deforestation could speed up in 2020.” The article was apparently published on January 15, 2020 and makes the political linkage to deforestation. For a mind-blowing exhibit of where the money is flowing on such climate related projects, see: which is “monitoring deforestation.”

Here are excerpts from the Klesty article:

OSLO (Reuters) – “Deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest threatens to accelerate and draw increased global concern since no new fire prevention measures have been taken in the crucial run-up to this year’s dry season….” [which starts in May.]

“The number of fires in the Amazon rainforest increased 30.5% in 2019 from the previous year, while deforestation rose 85% ….”

“The Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, is a bulwark against global warming because of the vast amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide it soaks up from the atmosphere. It also provides Brazil with hydropower, and its abundant rain provides irrigation-free agriculture.”

“[Jair] Bolsonaro [in his first year in office] has said his government is protecting the rainforest adequately, but it plans to push ahead with economic development in the Amazon to raise the standard of living of its 30 million inhabitants, including indigenous tribes. It is currently drawing up legislation that will open protected indigenous reservations to commercial mining and agriculture, a move that environmentalists say can only speed up deforestation.”

“In August [2019?], Norway suspended donations to the Amazon fund, which supports projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after the Brazilian government sought to change the governance rules of the fund to decide which projects it supports.”

“Norway has worked closely with Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest for more than a decade and has paid some $1.2 billion into the fund.”

“(The government) messed up something that was working,” … [regarding] the cut in Norwegian financing. [One opinion stated was:] ‘… they were trying to … stop the money going into civil society and want to use the money for themselves, to control the fund.’”

There are many ways in which a government can manipulate the situation. One possibility would seem to be to let the Amazon forests burn to the ground, relocate the people, and then reconstitute the forests as all government resource. Why? At a conference held in Aparecida, Brazil in 2007, chaired by Abp. Jorge Bergoglio, one of the recommendations was regarding the oxygen produced by trees in the Amazon, and the suggestion that a worldwide tax be paid by other countries for using up the Amazon’s oxygen. Really.

I have come away from these readings with the thought that handling the indigenous people is important to executing such a significant financial strategy for the Amazon. With so much money ‘on the table,’ even Norway’s contributions to date may seem minuscule and can be disdained, and the US departure from the Parish climate accord to be insightful and inciteful, all at the same time . To induce such a large change in the way the people live, a religious support system would likely be required, a cultural network, for a conversion of sorts in an ‘appropriate’ context. And the people would want to feel comfortable that their local idols would be acceptable to whichever religion takes the leadership role. We don’t know, yet. The connections are too tenuous.

Still quite unknown is the connection of the wildfires to the Amazon Synod. Now, one path forward for that Synod with its pachamama abomination may become more apparent, if the priests of an indigenous network would be people already in place, provided they can marry, and weaken both the priesthood and the marriage covenant.  And then it becomes not unlikely that women’s involvement would receive some sort of nod; maybe a diaconate ? If that were the  macro strategy,  micro-strategies might even support the German Bishops’ innovations which weaken the discipline of an entire Church,with  a sexually disordered hierarchy being given ‘permission’ for their sins? Then the matter rises way above environmental disaster to full blown Faith crisis. Or maybe not? But if there is a link between climate change, the wildfires, the Amazon indigenous population and the Vatican Synod, we might expect an attack on the celibacy of the clergy from Satan and his minions who need that door to be broken down in order to make further inroads?  No wonder two holy men, Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah have been inspired to write what they did! No wonder it provoked furious response. Just as the Chinese faithful have been turned over to paganistic forces, so too would be priestly celibacy, so needed, in a time of such grave sexual sin.

Meanwhile, it is almost as if the earth were turning into the Gehenna of the unsaved, ready to fully spring to flame after the saved are gathered up to the Lord, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17: “For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

What about the wildfires in California and in Africa? What about Revelation’s warnings? What about the Corona virus? Are these related too? Are there other end-times signs? Maybe there will be a Wildfires Part III?


Choosing the Ordinary or the Extraordinary?

February 4th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

For the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday there are significant differences between Masses in the Ordinary Form (OF) and those in the Extraordinary Form (EF). In 2020the readings will be for the 5th, 6th and 7th Sundays in the Season of Ordinary Time. For example, the Gospels will be Matthew 5:13-16 (Salt of the Earth); Matthew 5:17-37 (You have heard, but I say ….) and Matthew 5:38-48 (Love your Enemies.) These three readings in Ordinary Time follow in the Bible the giving of the Beatitudes, as Christ contrasts the New and Old Testaments. (These readings will change when the liturgy moves to Mark and to Luke in the three year cycle of Ordinary time.)

Septuagesima Mass (picture site unknown.) In the Rochester Diocese, only two churches offer the ‘gesima Masses, both are in Irondequoit: St. Thomas the Apostle Latin Mass at 11:15 AM and St. Cecilia Church where St. Alban parish, in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, celebrates at 11:00 AM. Both sites will have ‘gesima Masses on Sundays Feb  9, 16 and 23, 2020.      All are welcome.


In contrast, the readings in the Extraordinary Form (EF) of the Traditional Latin Mass are the same each year on these three Sundays: Matthew 20:1-16 (Householder Hiring Workers); Luke 8: 4-15 (Sowing of the Seed); and Luke 18:31-43 (Christ prepares the Twelve for His Crucifixion and Cures a Blind Man.)

But there are more differences between the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Masses than just the readings. In the OF, the priest will continue to wear the green vestments of that season, before putting on hold for a few months the Season of Ordinary time. In the EF the priest wears purple, beginning a short penitential season of three weeks before Ash Wednesday. In the EF, the Season (which does not exist in the OF) is called the “Season of Septuagesima.”

Here is how my St. Joseph Missal describes this mysterious season of the ‘gesimas, in which comparatively few people have had the chance to participate (unless they are old enough to have attended the historic Latin Mass before the changes post-Vatican II or have access to a stable Latin Mass Community):

“With Septuagesima begins the Pre-Lenten season, which comprises Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays. These three weeks form a transition from the joy of Christmastide to the austerity of the Penitential Season of Lent. This is the Season when the Church most earnestly invites her children to prepare properly for the Feast of Christ’s Glorious Resurrection. She urges them to rise from and to expiate their sins; to practice prayer and charity with greater zeal; to become indeed new men through God’s grace. From Septuagesima to Holy Saturday the ‘Alleluia’ as well as the ‘Gloria in excelsis’ are omitted in ‘Masses of the Season.’ Purple vestments are used to signify penance.”

So, what about that strange word “Septuagesima?” It is from the same root as Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture by SEVENTY scholars, whose work remarkably agreed one with the other. And Septuagesima is SEVENTY days before Easter. Another way to understand Septuagesima, in the context of Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, is the number of weeks until the next liturgical season. Septuagesima is SEVEN weeks before Passion Time, beginning on Passion Sunday. Sexagesima is SIX weeks and Quinquagesima FIVE weeks before Passion Time.

But what are we supposed to do with those nearly three weeks of the Season of Septuagesima? After all, the Church in general seems to almost totally ignore the opportunity to use the ‘gesimas to make Lent more fruitful. Try a search for Septuagesima on the USCCB site. There are two mentions in one document on Sequences in 2012. Here are some ideas about possible use of Septuagesima and Lent:

  • It somehow does not seem appropriate, in these difficult times in the Church and in the world in which we live, to simply ignore better preparation for Lent, to waste the chance to get a head start on a meaningful Lent, to make a difference in the lives of those for whom we pray. If we think of it merely as “3 more weeks of Lent” it can seem like merely a prolongation of sacrifice, maybe even exhausting.
  • A typical response to Lent, without planning, can tempt us to do whatever we usually do, but more often or for a longer time; i.e. using the extra three weeks preparation to multiply our usual devotions, increase attendance at daily Mass, confess more frequently, say more rosaries, do some extra fasting.  For some people it works well and is a natural fit for a penitential season; for others it may make Lent seem like a loooong time!
  • I have spoken to some priests about the matter and one approach seems to be that in those three weeks is the opportunity to ‘try out’ some plans for Lent, to see if the effort can be sustained with all the other demands on their time, or perhaps their taking on something needing more than the 40 days of Lent, perhaps in spiritual reading or scripture study. Or to try out possibilities like extra fasting and adoration or to concentrate and expand on a difficult work.
  • A longer pre-Lent and Lenten season may also enjoy the benefit of more time to make small local pilgrimages. Some ideas are the Fatima Shrine, the Shrine of the North American Martyrs or a visit to the Trappist Monastery at Piffard, or to Mt. Saviour Monastery near Elmira.
  • It also seems that Ash Wednesday should not be diminished in any way by three weeks of preparation; rather, the ashes should encourage us to step up whatever effort we are undertaking. Having this checkpoint does indeed invite a renewal of effort, or a change in direction if necessary.

It is worth spending a few moments on the idea of a special or focused project of prayer during Lent; i.e. having a beginning (Septuagesima), a checkpoint or objective on Ash Wednesday, and a prolongation of effort into and through Passion Sunday and Holy Week. One of the following could be just the ‘right’ spiritual project for an individual, a family or a small focused group: Read the rest of this entry »


St. Agatha, Pray for U.S.

January 31st, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The presumed final day of the Senate trial, delivering the so-called “impeachment verdict,” is now scheduled for next Wednesday, February 5th. The spiritual warfare, which is constantly underway, cannot help but reveal itself at various times, and perhaps this February 5th will be just one such time. Those who choose such dates may be unaware of their significance, but that doesn’t mean they lack significance. Just look at some of the dates involved in disrespectfully hammering through the Obamacare legislation, like Christmas Eve and Good Friday, to see detraction against the Holy Seasons; i.e. a ‘taking away’ from God’s domain, in legislation which provided for ever broader abortion access.

St. Agatha by Raphael Vergos (c.1500)

And, so too, may be the choice of February 5th, for a momentous reason, the Feast of St. Agatha in the current table of memorials, as well as in the traditional Roman Martyrology. Read, in the story of St. Agatha, of the bitterness and hatred toward her by the Roman official whose advances she rejected. Hell hath no fury like those who are scorned.  Agatha was born of a noble family, and is accounted as beautiful, and as having dedicated herself to God from an early age. She rejected all suitors. A Roman magistrate, Quintian, was furious that his advances were rejected, and found his revenge in forcing Agatha first to work in a brothel, and then rolling her in live coals, during which an earthquake occurred!  Finally, her torturer had her breasts cut off, and they appear in art as resting as an offering on a silver tray (sound familiar?)  St. Agatha died in 251 AD.

St. Agatha is especially venerated in the Canon of the Traditional Latin Mass, and in Eucharistic Prayer #1 in the Novus Ordo. (Idea: ask you parish priest to recite the First Eucharistic Prayer at Mass next Wednesday. In many churches that prayer is not often recited at weekday Mass, and that is unfortunate as it is such a beautiful and long-standing prayer. Agatha is one of seven women (plus the Blessed Mother) mentioned in that canon:  “… Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia….”

In reading a bit more about St. Agatha, it was surprising to learn she is patron saint of people who suffer from fires (to which subject we’ll hopefully return in due course). Most likely, her affiliation in this regard relates to being tortured on the hot coals. But she is also an intercessor for those suffering from breast cancer, of nursing mothers, and of rape victims. It is hard not to notice Agatha’s Feastday being chosen for the final impeachment decision, when rage analogous to that of the Roman magistrate has been on full display in the Senate Chamber. And the symbology of the breast, representing life itself, is intrinsic to President Trump’s pro-life stance, which has so tipped the scales in opposition to him.

One could go on, but it is better to leave much to be discovered in humble meditation.


Prayer to St. Agatha


Saint Agatha, you were a virgin espoused to Christ himself, a bride of the Lord who preserved herself for Him alone. Your vow to love God above all else hardened you to endure temptation, torture, and degradation. May we be as resolute as you when any type of persecution, however mild, seeks us out.


More Evidence: Fighting for God’s Church can hurt

January 26th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Your prayers PLEASE for the Matt family, especially for Michael and his continued faithfulness to the Remnant’s role in protecting Christ’s Church, and for Michael’s son, Walter, so seriously injured.

If you are so inclined, a possible combination of decades for meditation might be:

  1. John the Baptist’s acknowledgement that he is not worthy even to do the slave’s duty of untying the Master’s sandals.
  2. The penitent woman’s tears washing Christ’s feet, and drying them with her hair.
  3. Christ’s humility in washing the feet of His Apostles.
  4. The piercing of Christ’s feet with nails in the Crucifixion.
  5. Christ showing His hands and His feet to His Apostles after His Resurrection.

Pray…. God is offering each soul a ‘choice’: sheep or goat?

January 24th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris





See time lapse video here:


Day of USCCB’s Reckoning Grows Closer

January 22nd, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Call it a hate crime!

January 18th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

It was shocking, for a variety of reasons, to hear about the ‘impeachment souvenir pens,’ with Pelosi’s signature, handed out to signatories of the impeachment papers against the American President. That the Democrats’ waiting for souvenirs held up delivery of legal papers, and that it wasn’t disclosed as the reason for delay, shows a deep lack of respect for even the impeachment process itself. The alleged price tag of $15,000 per pen, paid by the taxpayers,  was another shocking figure — more than a year’s salary for the President (who donates his salary anyway.)   [Other sources indicate $15,000 total worth of all 30 pens. When the final amount is clear, that figure will be adjusted here.]

What is even more shocking is the symbolism of using the image of a bullet as a key element of the pen design. What does it mean? It seems difficult to attribute any meaning to it, other than the message: “If an impeachment isn’t successful, the next step is assassination.” It is a frightening gesture of violence in a country where these very perpetrators claim to be against guns, but use the imagery of ammunition for their own political purposes and intimidation! And should we miss the analogy between delivering the bullet pens on a silver platter, and the biblical story of Herod’s ordering up John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter, at the behest of Herodias, another woman scorned?

Consider for a moment if the teenage Nicholas Sandmann, from Covington KY, had been wearing to the pro-life rally a tee-shirt with that bullet pen image, how that would have been played up by the media! He would have been seen as threatening; he’d have been accused of provoking fear; he’d have been denounced. As an instigator, he never would have been able to favorably settle his personal lawsuit for defamation against CNN and others.

This gesture against the President isn’t a cute publicity stunt. It is the graphic avowal of rejecting all that should underpin our country’s values. What seems appropriate to happen next is the bringing of hate crime charges at least against those who participated in such action. When bakers get convicted of hate crimes for refusing to bake a wedding cake (and they have), it is not right to let elected Congressional Representatives off the hook for poor judgment and sinister intent. It’s a hate crime; let’s call it what it is.

Cleansing Fire has generally not gone after strictly political issues. But political issues have gone after what most of the people on this site hold to be dear — the life of an unborn baby, the sanctity of marriage, and protection for the vulnerable at end of life. And some of the facts of this case are yet to be clarified. But we would be remiss now not to notice the situation, and call out a hate crime for what it seems to be.


What do the Wildfires mean? Part I

January 16th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

God’s Promise

In Genesis, after the flood, God told Noah that never again would He destroy the world with water. In Chapter 9:11 (yes, think 9-1-1) the text begins:

“I establish My covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will look upon it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.’”

Sometimes these words are misunderstood to mean ‘no more floods’ but that is not what God said. He promised not to destroy the entire earth with a flood, but there certainly continue to be floods, as well as other natural disasters. And the symbol of God’s promise, the rainbow, the covenant made on His own initiative, has certainly been profaned by its use to promote what God’s Word calls sin. The early days of rainbow politics had the ‘bow’ upside down to the way it naturally occurs, i.e. red is always on top of a natural rainbow. Red on the bottom is ‘unnatural.’ As a further distortion, the rainbow is universally recognized even in high school physics class as having seven visible colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The political rainbow only has six, mirroring the six days of creation, without God’s Seventh Day role or recognition. What color is missing? Probably the violet, which leads into ultraviolet, i.e. beyond man’s ability to perceive. In movements directed by the evil one, he cannot help but reveal his presence through lies and distortions.

How will the earth be destroyed?

So we know that the destruction of the world will not be through water. How will the world be destroyed? There are a multiplicity of possibilities, and fire indeed has its place in the scenario, and even previews the Fires of Ghenna, perhaps to encourage repentance before the end. However, this in no way relates to the alleged “climate change.” God’s own statement against climate change comes when He says to Noah (Genesis 8:22): “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night , shall not cease.” 

Revelation 8:7 gives a hint about the role of fire in the destruction of the earth:

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire,  mixed with blood, which fell on the earth; and a third of the earth was burnt up, and a third of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”

These words from Revelation show the beginning of the final days, and the potential of fire to be part of the tribulation and judgment. Let’s acknowledge that the reporting about the wildfires may be exaggerated, but even half accurate it is still an awesome and terrifying natural disaster, affecting not only mankind but, as Genesis says, “every living creature” as well. On January 3, 2020, Prof. Chris Dickinson, said to be an expert on Australian biodiversity at the University of Sydney, estimated 480 million animals had been killed by the bush fires.  Recently he raised that estimate to one billion. Now we examine a map of Australia, where a significant part of the earth and grasslands are affected. 

Map published of Australian Fires

















Although there are accusations of deliberate effort to set the fires, one still wonders why so many, and why now? There are some who attribute the fires as punishment for Australia’s recent decriminalization of abortion.            See:   As of October 2019, all states and territories except South Australia have fully decriminalized abortion, starting with Western Australia in 1998. There can be no doubt that such legal maneuvers will put many souls at risk.

See also how “Green Folly” made things much worse:    


Disclaimer Regarding Visionaries:

Below are a few excerpts from “visionaries” regarding matters in Australia. I neither endorse nor reject the possibility that truly some souls are favored by God with disclosures of His Will and Intent beyond what most of us receive. But that opinion doesn’t matter. Every single thing we need for our salvation has already been provided to us through Christ’s Redeeming Sacrifice, through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, through the Deposit of Faith including Sacred Scripture and Tradition, and through the Sacraments and priestly guidance, regardless of the sinfulness of hierarchy, other humans, and ourselves.

So, I conclude, that there is no need to condemn claims of visionaries’ insights, unless they conflict with what God has already given us as His Truth, and no reason to pursue guidance beyond what has been already provided to us. If we needed more, He would have given us more. So, in that spirit, I will isolate a few statements of several different visionaries, without identifying the individual, who usually has a pseudonym anyway, not to add or subtract from their credibility but to illustrate what may well influence the perceptions of other.

Usually the words are not meant to be the visionaries’ own words, but reported as if they come from God:

  • “As you see in your country, dear son, Australia is being chastised through heat and sorrows. When will the people open their hearts to truth? With the suffering that has been given to the Australian people, how many have thanked God for their protection and Blessing? Very few, dear children and this is only the beginning – for the fires will continue and the dryness will continue, until our children raise their voices to My Throne. Pray, dear children.”  
  • “Pray, sweet children, because Australia will be chastised, because of the murderous act that has fallen on the ‘Innocent Ones’ in Abortions.”
  • “More fires are coming to warn people of Australia to change the Law that destroys children that are and will be aborted.”
  • “The fires, dear children, are only the beginning of a great chastisement that will come to Australia and to the rest of the world. I tell you most solemnly, that this is only the beginning of the trials of this country, for soon the enemy will let loose of souls that will harm this country in many ways. Terrorism will strike very soon in the cities.”
  • “Pray, dear children of Australia! The fires are only the beginning, because the enemy will use this matter to attack the people. Watch the bridge and major buildings and watch your water, because there is a plan to sabotage the water supply. Make yourselves ready and pray.”

What about Cardinal Pell?

Not only do the abortion law changes show a weakening in the ability of the Church to influence through her Teaching, but the Cardinal Pell prosecution and persecution, and the Vatican’s stepping away from direct involvement, also are worth considering as influencers. Where was the Church’s involvement in making the word of God clear during such a time of strife? A Prince of the Church has been convicted on the word of one secret person (sound familiar?) who did not testify. The evidence of defense, proving the allegations impossible, was suppressed. Cardinal Pell is being prevented from saying Mass even alone in his solitary cell; it is part of the torture he endures. Although he is being given ‘one more chance’ to defend himself, unless he is fully and openly permitted to do so, it is hard to envision acquittal because Australia now has a vested interest in proving they are “right.” His imprisonment has led inevitably to more evil overtaking the Church and the country, through his voice missing from the 2019 Abortion Law debate. The decision to allow the appeal (not credible as a real opportunity) came out Nov 11 -13 when a plethora of apparently spontaneous new fires was reported.  

Let’s consider the words of Isaiah relating to the sign of fires in the grasslands, and do pause for a moment on the poetry of his prophecy, for is not “their blossom” going up “like dust” the very destruction of their own offspring?

“Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 5:24


Coming in Part II:  the indigenous peoples of Brazil and Australia, and their “fire-stick farming,” and the idolatry in the Vatican Amazon Synod as offense to the Almighty God.



Clarification on celibacy book (archived)

January 14th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris


The following archives the key links for this story. Links from the Ticker are included. See Mary Kathleen’s link to the “back-story” — very credible. So too is Abp. Ganswein’s involvement as peacemaker.

Ignatius Press has refused to remove the authorship by Pope Benedict. The French original is now in print.

The English translation should be available from Ignatius Press by Feb. 20th. Order here:  for discounted price of $16.96.


The following are links from the Ticker. See also the comments section attached to this post.

FIRST REMARKS about the new book by Card. Sarah and Benedict XVI


Do ‘gun-rights’ apply in Church?

January 2nd, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Update: full mp4 on the church shooting event here:   Warning: graphic!      


Nearly 7 years ago, while studying the Gospel of Luke, I noticed for the first time how applicable were certain words of Christ in Chapter 22 against the modern day call for “gun control.” Those words seemed to me (and still do) to be fairly ignored in preaching and teaching.  I sought to ‘publish’ a brief commentary and hopefully precipitate discussion. What I found was the two most likely places to publish were actually the least likely. The NRA responded that it didn’t want to get into matters of religion (and risk alienating its own members) and Christian media feared precipitating a similar response from the soul in the pew!  I put the matter aside for the time being. But now, given the church shootings and Father Z’s weighing in (called to our attention by Mary-Kathleen), I think the time may be right to publish on CF. Note in the following that I’ve now also added  the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in the blue text. For those who are not Catholic, or who may want only to concentrate on the bible arguments, the blue text is easily skipped in reading.

New Testament Basis for Gun Rights

Although much political muscle and media opinion favors “gun control,” that does not mean the loudest voices are on the side of morality or responsibility.  Rather, the dialogue should be broader, at least as much in moral terms as in consideration of constitutional rights.   On May 6, 2013, the VP of the United States (Joe Biden) asked clerics to preach gun control from the pulpit, taking for granted that religious leaders would be aligned with the Obama administration’s concept of gun control, and without seeming to understand that there is, indeed, a biblical basis for gun rights.  Even a cursory exegesis of New Testament Scripture leads to a deeper understanding of these issues. Luke, the only non-Jewish (Gentile) New Testament author, was a Greek physician, a man with close attention to detail and access to eyewitnesses.  His Gospel also helps to form conscience on the Second Amendment Rights.

Christ’s true teaching has often been watered down, even from the pulpit, to a “nice” modern, non-controversial, secularly popular interpretation. Issues of self-defense are barely mentioned.  Yet, Christ did not avoid controversy.  He drove buyers and sellers from the Temple with a whip of cords (#1).  He spoke clearly, and often at personal risk, accusing Scribes and Pharisees of being “whitewashed tombs … full of dead men’s bones… (#2), calling Herod the Tetrarch a “fox (#3), and laying out Truth for the Roman governor of Judea, Pilate, who didn’t know or care what Truth meant (#4).  There is no reason to believe, facing imminent death, that Christ would have spoken with diminished candor.

Elsewhere in Scripture, when Christ was misunderstood, He persisted and did not allow His apostles to abide in error.  For example, after He deliberately delayed responding to Lazarus’ impending death, He used the softer word that Lazarus had fallen “asleep.  The disciples misunderstood, but He set them straight:  “Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead….’” (#5)  Similarly, when a large group of disciples walked away from Jesus in John, Chapter 6, because they could not accept His Words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, He let them go.  They did not misunderstand; so He didn’t soften the Truth for them, but reiterated it even more strongly.  So, it makes sense, just hours before His arrest and death, that Jesus would not say something He did not mean.  He did call for swords to be carried to Gethsemane.  But why?

Arming the Apostles:  All four Gospels mention Christ’s apostles carrying swords to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was arrested.  Only Luke explains that Christ was the One Who directed His followers to carry those weapons!  Luke writes:  “[Christ] said to them … let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one.  For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was reckoned with transgressors;’ for what is written about Me has its fulfillment.”  “And they said, ‘Look, Lord, here are two swords.’  And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’” (#6)

Enough!  One comment should be made on Christ’s words: “It is enough,” lest misunderstanding be carried into the following discussion. The Greek word for “enough” is hikanos and has been inappropriately characterized in the Sacra Pagina regarding the Gospel of Luke to mean “exasperated termination of this discussion,” but that is not what the Greek implies.  “It is enough” seems best translated as “sufficient.”  Luke uses the word hikanos nine times in his Gospel, translated also into English as “worthy,” “many,” and “long,” and never with an almost snide modern meaning of “Enough already!”  The word has been used regarding John the Baptist’s not being worthy to untie Christ’s sandals, and about the centurion not being worthy that Christ should come under his roof. It is used for “many people,” “many swine,” and for a “long time.” Such eisegesis, reinterpreting hikanos 2000 years later with a gun control bias, does a great disservice to the Bible and to those who hold it sacred.

Protection: Christ’s words focus on protection, asserting that henceforth a sword would be needed even more than the mantle’s protection from cold and chill.  The mantle (or cloak) was so important that the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy (24:13) required, when it was given as a pledge, that it be returned by day’s end so that the wearer would not suffer in the nighttime chill.  One might also hear in Christ words His Own sense of obligation to protect those whose care had been entrusted to Him by the Father and even, since Peter had one of the swords, the continuation of such protection of the apostles through Peter.

CCC 2265: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others.  The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.  For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.”

The Machaira:  The sword carried by Peter was likely a “machaira,” variously described as a large knife, a small sword, or a straight one-edged sword for thrusting.  Given the size of the machaira, it would be used in close quarters, against a near threat.  The word machaira occurs in fifteen Gospel verses.  Of these, eight are references to the apostles’ taking and using the weapon at Gethsemane, plus five refer to the crowds, to whom Christ said:  “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs….” (#7)


CCC 2264: “Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life.”

Why did Christ Call for WeaponsAs He faced His Crucifixion, Christ was concerned about the safety of His apostles.  He prayed for them, but He also called them to protect themselves.  Carrying weapons, they would have some protection, might make enemies hesitate to attack (i.e. deterrence), and perhaps even offer some self-confidence to control their fear.  Christ, about to die, would no longer be protecting them in an earthly sense.  His Priestly Prayer to the Father, just before His arrest, was: “While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name, which Thou hast given Me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (#8)  He said that He, their Shepherd, would be struck, and “the sheep will be scattered (#9).  He even told the apostles the reason they would be in danger; i.e., because He would be “reckoned with transgressors….”  It is logical to think His closest companions might be subject to harassment or attack for having been so long in the company of someone about to be crucified between two thieves, convicted of a capital crime.  Even the accusers presented Christ to Pilate as a transgressor:  “If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have handed Him over.” (#10)  The apostles’ risk further increased because they soon would preach Christ’s Own mission and work.

CCC 2269: “The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason….”

Why was Peter Told to Put Away the Sword?  The machaira which Peter carried was not intended to protect Christ from fulfilling His own mission, but for the apostles’ self-defense. His response to the crowd which came to arrest Him was: I told you that I am He; so, if you seek Me, let these men go.” (#11) Clearly, Peter did not understand his own role and reacted in a most human way, attacking:  Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his right ear.  The slave’s name was Malchus.  Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?’” (#12)  These words illustrate that their swords were not to protect Jesus, Who had already prayed to the Father: “… not My Will, but Thine, be done.” (#13)

CCC 2262: “He [Christ] did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.”  Matthew 26:52.

There is no evidence Christ wanted His apostles to do anything illegal either.  Apparently just carrying a sword for self-defense was not illegal, or Peter would not have been told to put it back into its sheath, but rather it would have been confiscated by the armed guard.  One should not suppose that arming the apostles meant that they were to initiate an attack.  Peter was told to put away the sword, not to throw away the sword; i.e. not to “disarm.”

In Matthew’s Gospel, Christ adds:  “… for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (#14), criticizing drawing a weapon against someone who is not attacking, or perhaps not even armed.  Although the crowd had swords, we are given no evidence that anyone had used a weapon against Christ or the apostles.  A few translations of Luke 22:51 (#15) have Christ say (when Peter draws his sword) “No!” or “Stop!” but the Greek does not support using either word.  The better translation of the Greek would seem to be in the King James Version: “Allow even this,” an expression of Christ’s willingness to go to the Cross.  Then Christ healed the servant’s ear, protecting Peter once again, this time from potential criminal charges of assault.

The Gospels say little about whether the apostles were again threatened that night or soon after by armed authorities, but there must have been fear, for one young man, who was about to be seized, ran away naked.  The only apostle to show up at the Cross was John.  Peter’s fear was manifested in his three denials around the charcoal fire in the High Priest’s Courtyard during Christ’s trial:  “One of the servants of the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him?’” (#16)  This accusation was immediately followed by Peter’s third denial of Christ.

The Choice to Defend Oneself:  Misunderstanding or misreading these texts causes them to be overlooked as approving righteously carrying a self-defense weapon.  The Bill of Rights enshrines our God-given rights, rights not originating from the state, which is charged to protect those rights.  The Gospels affirm the “right” of self-protection and, at times, the obligation to protect the vulnerable (as a father protecting his family) and, by extension, for the protection of self for the service of God, for the work of His Church, for the service of others, and for the good order of society.

CCC 2263: The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing.

Later, after being strengthened by the Resurrection and Pentecost, a disciple could freely choose not to protect himself further, when his own martyrdom, not a senseless death, became a higher calling. In other words, exercise of the right to bear arms was not mandated as an obligation for self-protection. Hence, even the willingness to give up one’s life in martyrdom, to drink of the cup one is given for the sake of soul over body, would not seem to violate the obligation to oneself:

CCC 2264 “Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality.… Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow….”

But there is nothing about guns in the Bible.  Of course not, nor about the Internet, space travel, chemotherapy, fission, cloning or fracking, e.g.  Yet the Gospel never becomes outdated.  Christ clearly authorized the right to self-defense.  The weapon in the biblical pre-gun society was the machaira, requiring close proximity for use.  But today, in a society with firearms, where an attacker has a clear tactical advantage, swords have no role.  The Bible does not fix the actual means of self-defense, but rather the right to self-defense, to use a weapon for protection.  If we are to hear about weapons from the pulpit, may it be God’s word, not politicians’ manipulations.

So, do gun-rights apply in Church? Well, Christ Himself called for weapons for the protection of His Own Apostles in the Holy Garden of Gethsemane. Doesn’t the answer seem clear?


References:  All Bible citations are from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition unless otherwise noted:  (#1)  John 2:15, (#2)  Matthew 23:27, (#3)  Luke 13:32, (#4)  John 18: 37-38, (#5)  John 11:10-14, (#6)  Luke 22:36-38, (#7)  Matthew 26:55, Mark 14:48, Luke 22:52, (#8)  John 17:12, (#9)  Mark 14:27, (#10)  John  18:30,  (#11) John 18:8,  (#12) John 18:10-11, (#13) Luke 22:42, (#14)  Matthew 26:52, (#15)  Luke 22:51, (#16)  John 18:26


Diane C. Harris

June 2013


Another Church; Another Shooting

December 29th, 2019, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Approximately two years ago I contacted a person from the USCCB regarding a relatively inexpensive method of providing a security alert for churches (and other sites) concerned about violence from an intruder. My letter was precipitated by the violence in Sutherland, Texas, in which 26 died, and 20 more were injured. Outrageous and unusual as was the event, it has turned out to be one among many. Today’s shooting in Fort Worth is one more, but with deaths fewer than might have been expected, due to competently armed parishioners stopping the gunman.

House of Worship Shootings Excerpted

Here is a selection of the most prominent “House of Worship” shootings from the AP since 2012 until Oct. 27, 2018. Some manipulative language is removed; only geographical abbreviations have been added.

  • Oct. 27, 2018: A gunman entered Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and opened fire, killing 11 and wounding six, including four police officers.
  • Nov. 5, 2017: 26-year-old Devin Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others.
  • Sept 24, 2017: Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, was charged with killing a woman and wounding six other people with gunshots at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville, TN.
  • Aug. 13, 2016:  Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and his Thara Uddin were fatally shot as they left a NYC  mosque. Oscar Morel, 35, was charged with second-degree murder.
  • June 17, 2015:  Nine black worshippers including a pastor were killed by Dylann Roof at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, SC.

This morning’s shooting (Dec. 29, 2019) was at West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth, TX.  The Star Telegram reported that Church members acted quickly to take down a gunman who opened fire  and fatally shot two people. He was killed by two members of the congregation’s security team who returned fire. The shooting appeared to happen during communion, according to a livestream video of the service obtained by the Star-Telegram.

See also:

While I am not against properly licensed citizens using firearms to protect lives, churches should not simply wait for something violent to happen before increasing protections. One gets the feeling that nothing is being done, except holding one’s breath to not be involved personally in the next violent event.

The following is streamlined content of the letter I intended for the USCCB to take action, to add deterrence and facilitate rapid response at a relatively low cost in a variety of locations. It seems that after the initial acknowledgement letter, that some actions might have been taken by now, two years and counting.


Today’s crime scene:




Excerpted and annotated letter sent to USCCB  contact in 2017:

“… as a consultant, sometimes I can’t help but think analytically about other people’s problems.  In that spirit I even imagine there might have been sidebar conversations at the recent convocation of the USCCB in which prelates might have expressed to each other their concerns about safety in their churches in this violent age. That question goes way beyond the usual meaning of “safe environment,” and beyond the liability policies for accidental falls or property damage claims. [And, so I assume, the USCCB should be interested in this matter.]

The issue in point is that the recent slaughter in Sutherland Springs, TX shows that it isn’t necessarily the most prominent church which draws such attacks, but any location is at risk which differs from the core values of the perpetrator.  With that understanding, even the smallest or most remote of parishes … has some measure of ‘terrorist’ risk, as do worship centers in any denomination.

My purpose in writing is not to promote or ‘sell’ anything, not even to convince you on a particular point.  Rather, I am just sharing ideas for what could be done that is already technologically feasible and at modest cost.

I will first set aside the gun question, not that I have any problem with lawful use of the Second Amendment.  I remember one pastor who celebrated noon Mass each weekday during Lent, and the police officer who attended in uniform. Before each Mass, he went to the sacristy and ‘checked’ his gun with that pastor under lock and key.  But one-of-a-kind solutions won’t work for all communities; something more useful is needed, beyond “being in the right place at the right time.”

What I am [suggesting] is the following proposal, which I am merely “sharing” with you at this time.  It would involve three aspects: 1) installation of a significant number of, say, flashing blue [or red/blue] lights on the exterior of a church, which would be turned on by a wireless command from within, both to signal police to the location for more rapid response, and even to call police or security if the church [also] uses a monitoring service, 2) a piercing alarm which would create a tumult within the church,  causing some perpetrators to instinctively run away, allowing people individually to decide whether to stay or run, and interfering with on-site communications between perpetrators and their methodical executions, 3) several people (some, but not all, in the sanctuary) with the training and ability to press the wireless command for #1 and #2. [The person pressing a button should be able to do so completely undetected.]

I am confident that ALL the technology is in place today to assemble such a system from off-the-shelf (or nearly off-the-shelf) components and parts. I also believe that such a system would be far less intrusive to those coming to church than many other proposals, including “security guards,” and such a system should be very inexpensive to maintain. Even the blue lights should rarely burn out as they’d hardly ever be used except for an occasional test. The main cost after installation would be a monthly monitoring fee if desired (but not absolutely needed.)

The most likely sources to assemble such a system are providers of private security systems today, with their economy of scale. Such a system would seem to have potential not only for all houses of worship, large and small, but also for other buildings at risk, like schools, theaters, public buildings. A wireless system has the advantage of an intruder’s not knowing who is carrying the wireless device, unlike pulling a fire alarm and hoping to be undetected. Even the thought that a particular target ‘may’ have a device, makes all targets a bit safer, and helps to answer the concern that it is ‘dangerous to go to church these days.’ [My intention here is to provoke discussion and planning, not to ‘lock-in’ any particular system. I would be pleased to brainstorm further with you or your representative, if you believe it would be helpful.]”

For the love of God’s people, let’s give some attention to this matter and not just to salting sidewalks, keeping flammable Christmas trees out of the sanctuary, and peanuts out of the chocolate chip cookies.


Isn’t this the Christmas Sermon we really needed to hear?

December 27th, 2019, Promulgated by Diane Harris

It’s a good thing that there are the 12 Days of Christmas. It gives us time to catch up with being a people of “Christmas Thinking.”  Check out Michael Matt and the Remnant here:

Listen to the joy, determination, understanding, courage and perception of just one member of the laity. Imagine what more we could be doing together! Where do we find outstanding lay leadership in “such a time as this?”

Do not misunderstand the posting of this Remnant segment as being political; it’s all about recovering the world for Jesus Christ. One need not agree with Matt on all his points or on his style. But the core truth of what is really happening should not be ignored. It is not the end of discussion; rather, it is the beginning.


“From The Editor’s Desk, Michael J. Matt offers a stirring Christmastime reflection on how resistance is NOT futile, how Francis’s revolution can be stopped, and how the situation inside the Vatican should make us all better Catholics and more committed soldiers of Jesus Christ.”

Quoting Abp. Vigano: