Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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.

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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.


Sheltering in Place: Part I: Commitment

February 7th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

ScreenShot445This posting begins a multi-part new series.  I pray to have the energy, time and guidance to bring it to fruition, and that others will participate, and especially that it will be for the good of souls. We are all treading on some unfamiliar ground.

There are already related posts, comments and links on Cleansing Fire regarding the evolving Vatican situation, and its reverberation through the ranks of the faithful. The division in the Church, the silent lack of direction, the apparent deviations among the  hierarchy from God’s own Teaching, the unanswered dubia of Four Cardinals, and the challenges to us, “the little ones” in the pew, all testify to the problems. There is no need to reiterate what has already been made obvious.  Whether or not we are entering “end times” is even a question some of us may have, especially as we deeply consider Christ’s own words:  


“… when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  (Luke 18:8)


Sheltering in Place – Part I: Commitment

As a child, when the school siren sounded, I hid under my classroom desk and pulled my green-and-every-conceivable-color plaid woolen coat over my head in anticipation of a Russian nuclear attack.  A few years later, when we no longer fit under the desks, we’d gather in the hallway, face to the wall, waiting for the Russian bombs.  The memorable scenes include the mild disappointment that nothing – NOTHING — ever happened.  Eventually a bell rang, and we quietly filed back into Sister Mary Liguori’s math class.

What we did, in those days, is described today as “Sheltering in Place.” It’s the same advice for dealing with several modern threats, especially terrorism of various kinds, whether in schools, malls, churches or theaters.  Don’t try to make a run for it; stay together; go into lock-down mode until the threat has passed.

Recently, regarding issues of concern in the Church today, I suggested we share some thoughts about personally navigating such a difficult period, waiting and hoping for the Lord Himself to intervene. Musing about the history of the people of God, whether they were trying to make bricks without straw, hiding out in catacombs, or being subverted by heresies seemingly held by many who should know better, we can see that persecution is always just around the next corner. Today’s persecution in the U. S. may not be as dramatic as the bloody martyrdom being horrifically suffered elsewhere, especially in Syria, but the stakes are the same. The objective of evil is consistent; what is being stalked is the soul. Knowing that, many other decisions are somewhat easier to make, and of paramount importance.

Where would we go?

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 6, dozens of disciples are scandalized about Christ’s words, repeated several times, in essence: “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”  (John 6:55-56). Christ did not back off His Teaching; rather, He made it even more emphatic. In Chapter 6, verse 66 (note the 666 combination), are the heartbreaking, life-destroying words:  “After this many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him.”  Jesus does not try to stop them; He did not soften His words then, and He does not soften His Teaching now. Instead, He honors man’s free-will and asks the Apostles:  “Do you also wish to go away?”  Then we read: “Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6: 67-69).

About the current situation in the Catholic Church, we ask what Peter asked: “To whom shall we go?”  For we realize, with crystal clarity, there is NO ONE else to whom we can go, no other Church or faith group has what Christ gave to His Church; i.e. the words of eternal life. And not just the Words, for He, Himself, is the Word, and nowhere is that Word more fully present than in the Catholic Church.  Until we fully realize that Peter’s reality is our reality, anything else we do to “Shelter in Place” will be built on sandy soil, eventually reaching a point of erosion. Without the Sacrament of Reconciliation, without the Holy Eucharist, there is no foundation of support (whatever else may lurk under the shade of “ecumenism.”)

How do we prepare to “Shelter in Place?”

Before identifying in subsequent posts in this series such practical steps as stockpiling a few Catechisms and Bibles before they get revised, or protecting against “fake ‘church’ news” from suspect media, the most important thing we can do is to discern prayerfully where we are personally in our individual commitment to what Christ taught.  To do that effectively, the first step is realizing that there really is nowhere else to go.  It is an essential realization, to deepen our resolve.

Having ‘nowhere else to go’ is a strategic resolve; it is the reason some fighting forces through history have burned bridges behind themselves, making escape or running away impossible.  God brings us to a Red Sea that we can’t cross, so that we know when we do cross it, the help came from Him and not from our own strength. That same resolve also echoed in Churchill’s words to his countrymen, mobilizing the commitment of the English people: Never give in.  Never give in.  Never, never, never, never …. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Even more to the point, we can remember Christ’s setting His Face to go to Jerusalem, and how, therefore, the Samaritans would not receive Him: Luke 9:51-53. Without such commitment, it is tempting to reject the fabric of belief, a piece at a time. But “setting our face” to faithfulness to the Lord is almost guaranteed to be met with hostility from others.  Such hostility can even be a sign of opposition to righteousness. But faithfulness requires that we set hand to the plow and not turn back. No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62.)

For a final inspiration regarding commitment we have the words of the second successor of St. Peter in Antioch, St. Ignatius, in his writings when he was on his way, in chains, via ship to Rome, to be thrown to the lions  The Office of Readings for Oct. 17th, the Memoria of the Bishop St. Ignatius of Antioch, contains the following resolve from his writings:

“… I am writing to all the churches and assuring them that I am truly in earnest about dying for God – if only you yourselves put no obstacles in the way. I must implore you to do me no such untimely kindness; pray leave me to be a meal for the beasts, for it is they who can provide my way to God.  I am His wheat, ground fine by the lions’ teeth to be made purest bread for Christ. So intercede with Him for me, that by their instrumentality I may be made sacrifice to God.”

Most of us don’t have the strength to echo St. Ignatius’ words. That is probably a good thing; reasonable fear keeps us preserving life, and doing the work we’ve been called to do. The resolve of an Ignatius is a gift from God, as is His timing.  What we are called to do, especially if it requires the ability to endure and persevere, needs God to open the Way.  And, if it is His Will, then He gives the grace when needed. Our role is prayerful discernment and commitment. For us, we must be “all in” or we are not “in at all.” This is a crucial basis of all that comes next.

Discernment, Sharing, Wondering

The situation today, and likely what lies ahead, needs deep discernment. I don’t claim to have it, only to need it.  Christ’s words are clear that we need to discern and prepare, and to count the cost: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’”  Luke 14:28-30.  Commitment has a very big cost.

The thrust of the planned posts will be to share how we are preparing ourselves for what already is one of the worst threats to Faith since the Arian Heresy, not to take sides or to teach, but to share possible answers to the question of how we prepare ourselves for what might become even more difficult times, a threat to souls, and how we embrace our own personal responsibility.

We may wonder why this broad weakening in commitment to Church Teaching is happening in our time? On our ‘watch,’ so to speak. “Why” is always a difficult question about the Holy Spirit’s timing, but we might consider two possibilities.  The first is a gift – the opportunity to pick up our crosses and follow Christ as He commanded, and with all that entails.  The second is Uncle Mordecai’s explanation to Esther: “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 14c). And perhaps those two possibilities are actually the same one?


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – February 2017

February 1st, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your February 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 February:

Comfort for the Afflicted.

That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.


I kid you not ….

February 1st, 2017, Promulgated by Hopefull



March for Life: time-lapse

January 27th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris
1 minute 28 seconds; click on lower picture in the link.

What prayer being answered looks like:

January 24th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Headline from LifeSiteNews 




Now is not the time to stop praying…. at least to say “Thank you, Lord.”  But much more is still at stake.  So let’s continue to pray for our nation to be crowned, not by man, but by the righteousness of God.



Bergoglian Persecution Begins?

January 22nd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

One of the links  we have carried on Cleansing Fire for quite some time is Rorate Caeli, and its top two stories tonight are shocking. Both reflect the great crisis and division in the Church today, worsening by the day.  For the sake of souls, may the Good Lord be swift in His Intervention, and give all of us the stamina to endure what Rorate Caeli dubs a “Bergoglian Persecution.”  And let us pray for any emerging martyrs in such a persecution, especially Father Luis of Colombia. Both stories are short. Please read.


Note: a comment has been deleted that made unsubstantiated allegations (without any references from respected sources) against prior popes who are in no position to defend themselves.

Below are further references on how the Malta situation is being “handled”:




High-lights and Low-lights regarding “Amoris Laetitia”

January 18th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

At the top of stories to read, to catch up on the disastrous fall-out from Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia,” is one particular shining statement of truth and commitment: A pastoral letter from Bishop Steven J. Lopes of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter: “No Communion for unchaste divorced and remarried couples; no ‘at peace with God’ exceptions!”

What’s that business about “at peace with God”?  Well the Maltese bishops have abdicated their responsibility, as described in the link, which includes the Fritos comment.  One other point about this article and the picture of Pope Francis. It will probably be taken down soon, as it includes what is seen as an obscene gesture in some parts of the world.

One of the Dubia Cardinals (+ Caffarra) is quoted as saying that it would be ‘suicidal’ if the Pope taught that conscience trumps Revelation. That story can be found here. 

And that is just from tonight’s stories.  Yesterday there was more detail on the Maltese bishops’ “disastrous” position.  Another story from yesterday involved the firing of a Dutch  Catholic Editor who wrote about “Catholic Truth” in the light of serious questions about “Amoris Laetitia”.

Here are other articles rounding out less than a week just on “Amoris Laetitiae” and it’s fall-out:

Random thoughts on difficult times for us all

These are extremely difficult times in the Church. Laity and priests alike don’t want it to be true that we are really in a situation hovering on the edge of heresy, or the possibility that it has already happened.  There is a lot of  ‘acting’ as if nothing is really amiss, when we are in times that require deep prayer, probably more than any other time in our lives, even for those who remember the shadow of the bomb in the late 40’s and early 50’s. That was about bodies; this is about souls. In the Church, I really believe we are akin to the time of the Arian heresy, when half the Christian world had gone Arian.

The laity has an important role to play, but we seem to be learning it one person at a time.  For each, there is a moment when we see what is happening, and what we haven’t done. And there is a moment when we hear the call or find the courage to do what needs to be done. Personally, I put Cardinal Burke and the other three Cardinals submitting the Dubia in that category.  This is especially a time to draw close to those who teach doctrine faithfully, who celebrate the liturgy appropriately, whose words can stir up encouragement and ardor for Christ rather than for themselves or a local project, and who have peace instead of fear.

Many doctrinally faithful priests will still reiterate Church Teaching, but few put themselves at risk to prepare the laity for what might lie ahead, to inform as to what really are the obligations of laity in these situations.  And there are many who waive away concerns, valid concerns which would lead to prayer and repentance.  Some wait to see ‘how it goes’, as if prayer had nothing to do with it.  Some dismiss it all as a media event. In response to concern expressed, I’ve even been told “That’s above my pay grade.”  When there is fear of discussion, how can there be any teaching?

Yes, the Holy Spirit is in charge, but we aren’t to be lukewarm while He does all the work, are we?  This is a time of crisis, my friends, not of finding excuses to be uninvolved.  Let us also have some very special concern for priests who have given their lives into the service of a Church now in turmoil. Let us also have some very special concern for converts, especially recent converts. While they have the benefit of perhaps more recently deeply examining their spiritual decisions than many of us who might take what we had for so long for granted, nevertheless we can appreciate their vulnerability (often in families who haven’t converted) and also that this climate is not what they (or we) expected. Lastly, let us encourage each other, not by silence, not by wishful thinking, but by love of each other’s souls. I find the verse from the Book of Esther to be helpful to consider, as her uncle, Mordecai, tells her in a moment of crisis, when she either will take the risk of standing up or not, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b).

Biblical Comment and thoughts about Amoris Laetitia

Recently in reading the Gospel of Luke, something was opened to me that I hadn’t seen before, and I feel compelled to share it. In Chapter 16, verse 17, Luke writes these words of Christ “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void.” Heaven and earth passing away clearly puts the words in an “end-times” context. And, then, to make His point, perhaps regarding what in the Law will be most threatened in the end-times, the Lord points out to us the issue on which the very threat will come, in very next verse: “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”  This is the very issue on which Amoris Laetitia revolves. Invalid marriage cannot become valid marriage, and valid marriage is the issue on which John the Baptist was martyred.  It is the very issue on which the Catholic Church was willing to lose all of England rather than accommodate a king’s sin. Is it perhaps a sign of the very issue that will test how the Law will not and can not change?

ScreenShot424But Amoris Laetitiac, or perhaps I should say the wa0961rey it has been received by many in Church hierarchy, appears to go one step further than just trying to create a pathway to illegitimately permit setting aside a marriage.

The devastating step it next takes is condoning adulterers’ receiving the Eucharist.  We know that the evil one despises the Eucharist, so denigrating the Sacred Species through receiving in mortal sin adds to adultery the sin of sacrilege.  We have been warned. We have been warned.


Paul to the Galatians 1: 6-12

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel–not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”



Another Anniversary

January 15th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The story continues to intrigue me. Previously I’ve written about “failed leadership”  but today’s anniversary prompts more. It was 8 years ago today that Captain Sullenberger set his US Air Flight down on the Hudson River.  I was particularly stunned by the transcript of 3 minutes and 33 seconds, from the call “Birds!” to a wet fuselage in the Hudson, on the focus and concentration, the irreversible decisions, the Hands of God.


















Here is more worth looking at:



Here’s what I am sharing, which I wrote soon after:

“Hello Friends,
I have been very moved this week by the “Miracle on the Hudson” and I feel compelled to share a few thoughts.  Actually, I was especially attentive to what was written in the newspaper because I took one look at the pilot’s picture and I know I have flown with him before.  His face is quite familiar; I believe I’ve flown with him several times, given all the miles I’ve logged with US Air.  And I have often taken off from LaGuardia, over the Bronx, and sometimes toward Rochester, sometimes down river to other points.  All feels very familiar.  Yet, I didn’t particularly “notice” him at the time as more than the pilot, or even particularly reflect on each trip that this was the human being who would have my life in his hands.  But I do have a memory of him standing near the cockpit saying hello and goodbye to passengers.  I wonder if it goes through his mind each time, the responsibility he is carrying?
The article opened with the words:  “Chesley Sullenberger spent practically his whole life preparing for the five-minute crucible that was US Airways Flight 1549.”  And the other startling words in that article were the pilot’s words recounted by the passengers: “Brace for impact.”  It was reported that the pilot delivered those words in a “calm, cool, controlled voice.”  One passenger said “It was a testament to leadership.”  He was doing what needed to be done; he was doing ‘his duty.’
What has most struck me is the metaphor in those words for our spiritual life.  We go about our days doing what we are called to do, parents caring for children, workers delivering a fair day’s work, friends being friends, and so much more.  We pray, we go to Mass, we go to bible study.  And day after day seems not so much different from the prior days, just as flight after flight was perhaps not so much different for Captain “Sully.”  But he apparently went about that work with a consciousness, with an introspection, with a receptivity for learning.  He didn’t know when or even if  all that preparation would be on the line, but he was prepared.  And he was called upon to bring all to bear when the engines sputtered and died, when he had to make a split moment decision and choose what would be life or death for himself, his co-pilot and 153 (a very biblical number, taken from the water, with nets almost breaking) other people [155 including the pilots.].  It strikes me that everything we do spiritually, as well as that which doesn’t seem particularly spiritual but can be done with a spiritual consciousness and attention, prepares us for those few minutes of our own crucible, sometime and somewhere. 
We don’t know when, but we can learn from others’  crucibles, can’t we?  When Christ stepped forward in Gethsemane to say he was the One the soldiers were seeking, when various saints and martyrs faced their moment of call for the Lord (Edmund Campion re-entering hostile England, Thomas More refusing to sign an Oath that would put King before God, Isaac Jogues returning to the Iroquois who had tortured him, and my personal favorite: Eleazar in Maccabees who declined even giving the perception of having abandoned his faith)….all were moments of decision and action.  It is perhaps a blessing for most of us that we don’t know when the few minutes of crucible are coming, and for some it may come as the loss of a loved one, an ominous diagnosis, a deathbed torment.  Yet Capt. Sully shows us in the temporal realm what being well-prepared means; it seems that spiritually we wouldn’t want to do any less.  Each soul depends upon such preparation, and sometimes the souls of others as well.
We know who prowls the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Holy Mother Church, and Holy Scripture continually tell us “Brace for Impact.”  Is every such encounter with temptation a reason to “Brace for Impact,” to prepare for the crucible, to do spiritual aerobics for our souls?  Sometimes we fail as Peter did when he denied the Lord.  Often we are given another chance.  But some moment, some crucible, may be the final one, the one for which we’ve prepared all our lives, the one for which we have been prepared for the benefit of others.  Reflecting on Capt. Sully’s experience, the need is more obvious than ever to “Brace for impact” with the secular world.  It is often a brutal impact, but one we can use to prepare for the next impact, for the next crucible.  No matter how many kudos Capt. Sully gets (and he deserves them all), none will compare with “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Praise our Good and Generous God who still does miracles, and allows us to learn from them.   Amen?”

CAR and SJBS Open House

January 9th, 2017, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From the CAR/SJBS Facebook page:


Open House at St. John Bosco Schools
and Chesterton Academy of Rochester
Wednesday, January 18
6:30-8:30 p.m.
501 Garfield Street
East Rochester, NY 14445

There will be an Expo in the gym, school tours, and panel discussions.

Come meet our teachers, students, and parents!

These are the only schools for Catholic, classical education in the Rochester area.

Downloadable pdf here.