Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Archive for January, 2011

Counterfeit Diversity

January 31st, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

In the Church today there exists a wide range of opinions amongst those in the hierarchy over how the mass should be celebrated.  On one end of the spectrum is Bishop Clark’s understanding:

page 65 of Fr. James Callan’s “The Studentbaker Corporation”

Bishop Clark called the Corpus Christi rectory and announced that he was going to celebrate the Thursday Night Mass with us – that night!  People were immediately atrtacted to him.  They appreciated how comfortable he seemed to be sitting on the sanctruary rug with the children and enjoying the flow of the informal liturgy with all the people crowded around him at the Lord’s table.  He especially liked a 7-year-old girl name Laura, who played a flute solo next to him for the Communion meditation.  He commented on the way she spontaneously and confidently shared her gift with the congregation.

Towards the other end of the spectrum is our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI (and pretty much every other pope):

We might say that in 1918, the year that Guardini published his book (cf. The Spirit of the Liturgy), the liturgy was rather like a fresco.

It had been preserved from damage, but it had been almost completely overlaid by whitewash from later generations. In the Missal from which the priest celebrated, the form of the liturgy that had grown from its earliest beginnings, was still present, but, as far as the faithful were concerned, it was largely concealed beneath instructions for and forms of private prayer.

The fresco was laid bare by the Liturgical Movement, and, in a definitive way, by the Second Vatican Council. For a moment its colors and figures fascinated us. But since then, the fresco has been endangered by climatic conditions as well as by various restorations and reconstructions.

In fact, it is threatened with destruction, if the necessary steps are not taken to stop these damaging influences. Of course, there must be no question of its being covered with whitewash again, but what is imperative is a new reverence in the way we treat it, a new understanding of its message and its reality, so that rediscovery does not become the first stage of irreparable loss.

If this book were to encourage, in a new way, something like a liturgical movement, a movement toward a liturgy and the right way of celebrating the liturgy, inwardly and outwardly, then the intention that inspired its writing would be richly fulfilled.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, (from the Preface) 1999

Regardless of how you interpret Ratzinger’s statement here on the old rite, he makes it clear that he is not fond of some of the experimentation going on in the mass.  To keep his remarks above in the proper context, we must remember that BXVI has a great respect for what he’s dubbed the Extraordinary Form (EF) of the mass.  Otherwise he wouldn’t have issued his motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” in which he allowed easier access to the EF.  There is some debate over which mass (NO-novus ordo/OF-ordinary form vs EF-extraordinary form/TLM traditional latin mass) is more appropriate (see our forums).  However the divide between a properly celebrated NO mass and the EF is much smaller than between a properly celebrated NO mass and an FFA (free-for-all), MIUAYG (make-it-up-as-you-go) mass which is so prevalent in the DOR.  Put another way, if you are someone friendly to the EF, then you will almost certainly bring a greater sense of reverence with you to the OF (ordinary form).  If you are someone who favors a FFA, TTBOTW (throw-the-book-out-the-window) mass, then you will almost certainly despise the traditional latin mass.

Everyone knows that the mass was significantly reformed after the second Vatican council.  Lesser known is that the official reform of the mass and the masses that have actually resulted are worlds apart.  Still lesser known is that the TLM was made more widely available not only in 2008, but also by JP2 in 1984 (with permission of the local bishop) and more so in 1988 with his Apostolic Letter, Ecclesia Dei:

To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the Church.

by virtue of my Apostolic Authority I decree…respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.

Given all this, a local bishop who favors the FFA mass (such as Bishop Clark) has the following options:

  1. submit to the Holy Father and not allow your personal preferences for FFA masses to supersede what Holy Mother Church requires
  2. allow for a diversity of masses
  3. allow only FFA masses and disregard Holy Mother Church

Asking someone like Bishop Clark to go with option #1 is probably a bit much, but seeing as this diocese is all about diversity one would think #2 would be the logical choice.  After all, this is from the diocese’s mission statement:

As pilgrims nourished by the Eucharist for our journey of faith, we work with other churches and with all who seek harmony within the human family to advance the reign of God.

To the chagrin of many traditionalist Catholics, what Bishop Clark chose is actually #3.  This is an excerpt from the Latin Liturgy Association’s Newsletter (No. 42)

A fine article “A desire for Latin” appeared in the April 27, 1991 issue of “The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle” [The online D&C archives only go back to ’02]. The piece was sent to the Chairman by our member Mr. Dominic A. Aquila [instructor of history and political science at Empire State College and teacher at the Rochester Institute of Technology] to whom the local Bishop, Matthew Clark, had addressed the letter with the five reasons for not allowing the 1962 Missal printed in the last issue of the Newsletter on page 3. Rochester is the only diocese in NY where the Papal Indult of 1984 has not been implemented. Aquila has collected 450 signatures on a petition for the old rite; a petition submitted in the late 1989 had 64 signatures. At present, the old rite of Mass is celebrated illicitly in the diocese; one such location is mentioned, and the newspaper says, “Attending this Mass in the Rochester diocese would not satisfy a Catholic’s Sunday obligation.” The newspaper notes that hundreds of Catholics attend the Latin Masses according to the revised Roman Missal celebrated at the two Rochester churches once a month. A long quotation from a letter of bishop Clark to a priest who had asked to be allowed to celebrate the Old Mass is given:

The Mass as we have it today is Christ’s sacrifice celebrated with and for the community of faith. Its form and development have invited a new sense of dignity for all baptized persons who gather together. The Mass of the 1962 Roman Missal does not reflect this dignity nor this theology [ah – the hermeneutic of rupture]; it reflects a theology where the people were pious and quiet as the priest prayed for them … I cannot see any positive purpose that such a celebration would serve, except the nostalgia of past days [pretty strong words for the pre-V2 Church]..

A local priest, Robert J. Kennedy of St. Bernard’s Institute, is quoted as saying:

Who’s in charge? Is it the Pope or the bishop? The bishop or the local pastor? The pastor or the people?  People insisting on the traditional Mass are challenging the authority of the Church in some way [on odd statement considering JP2’s apostolic letter quoted above].

The Chairman concludes this notice with the comment that the word nostalgia comes from the Greek nostos (return home) and algos (pain); nostalgia is a form of melancholy caused by prolonged absence from one’s home or country. It is a sever home-sickness. It is a perfectly natural emotion, and those insensitive people who are not affected by it would do well not to boast that their hearts are like stones.

I guess diversity and “working together” includes everyone except those Catholics who prefer the traditional latin mass.  Thankfully, Bishop Clark did eventually change his tune (with a little arm-twisting perhaps) and allow the TLM to be celebrated.  Each and every Catholic should at some point or another experience it and it is available every Sun. at 1:30 at St. Stan’s.  If you’re going for the first time, don’t be caught in a state of having to evaluate the whole mass as if you need to give a report on whether you liked it or not.  Just experience it.  And go back again (at least intermittently) until you become comfortable with it (should we ever be completely comfortable encountering our Risen Lord?).  After all, even if you don’t like it, it was the mass celebrated for centuries, if not millenia.  From a purely historical perspective, it is worth experiencing as a Catholic.

The Heart of an Immense Darkness…

January 31st, 2011, Promulgated by Ink

I, too, was present at this “Mass,” and I’m going to be giving my commentary on it.  Hurrah for Catholic Schools Week?

Today was the beginning of Catholic Schools Week, therefore Aquinas deemed it necessary to have a “mass” with the entire school, as well as all of Nazareth Elementary. As it can be imagined, this went about as well as the last one, if a bit worse.

Father Bob Werth said the mass. I didn’t realize how much this would change the entire mass until he opened his mouth. In the opening prayer it was mentioned somewhere about that we shall be solemn “for the next hour or hour and a half.” I thought they were joking, but the mass started at 9:30 and ended at eleven. Long masses are wonderful when they’re, say, Latin mass, but the Father Werth Long Mass is painful.

Father started the FWLM by encouraging us to do the “big sign of the cross,” whereupon he scooped his hands in various ways that vaguely resembled the sign of the cross but seemed more like he was warding off an impending attacker who stood five feet away from him, and somehow his feet were glued to the floor.

I thought it looked like he was slowly and dramatically swatting flies.  It looked really dumb.

The Opening Hymn was, “Shine, Jesus, Shine.” during this hymn, the Nazareth dancers (the same ones from last time, only there were more of them and their dresses contained less fabric.*)paraded around the congregation in the center of the gym, waving their arms in some sort of weird ritualistic dance. This time, they looked less like zombies and more like they were offering up the corn harvest.

*I don’t know why it’s so hard for the little Nazareth dancers to wear sleeves. I understand that ladies no longer wish to wear hats to church, and, as painful as it is, I think it’s not something that can really be controlled anymore. But please, ladies, cover your shoulders when you go to mass. If I could have, i would have given all those girls the Paper Sheets of Shame, like they do in Italian churches.

Nah, the dresses definitely had more fabric.  Lots of fluffy organza-esque stuff, and they were longer this time.  The colours were still awful, though, and they still didn’t fit the liturgical season (light ballerina pink, anyone?), and the dresses were still not appropriate for Mass.  Dance recital, yes.  Mass, not at ALL.  I am agreed on the Paper Sheets of Shame point though.  Those were funny. ^_^

Dear Nazareth teachers: Mass is not a performance.  I love your little children dearly and find them irresistably adorable, of course!  But the Sacrifice of the Mass–the LITURGY! is not a place for them to parade through the area which sould be designated as a “sanctuary” and do their little arm-waving gestures.  And the drum is just unnecessary.  If you have any problems with this, take it up with me.

Father then opened the mass and commented on the situation in Egypt, and somehow the phrase, “it’s not all about the money” sneaked into his speech about three times. It was hard for me to see how it was related because it was hard for me to listen to him at all.

The reading(first and only) and the responsorial psalm went passably, in that they weren’t mentally scarring. The Gospel was from Mark, and it was a good reading. The mass really sterted to go awry at the beginning of the homily.

Fr. Werth seems to be one of those types who likes to give bits of his homily at ALL times of the Mass, not just after the Gospel!  Isn’t this great.  By the way, today’s reading was the Gadarene demoniac, who was possessed by a legion of demons, but then Jesus chased the demons out of the man and into the pigs and then chased the pigs into the sea.  It was awesome. Talk about badass Bible!

Father began by discussing the importance of Catholic schools, which is a good thing, since it seems like our diocese doesn’t really seem to get that. He didn’t talk about the fact that they needed to stay open, though. He spent quite a lot of time praising Aquinas and nazareth for being such good schools and then began discussing his opinions on money. The phrase, “It’s not all about the money” was most of the next part as he said it, then muttered some point about how parents work hard to keep kids in school (which is true), uttered the phrase again, said something else that didn’t really seem related, then shouted the phrase a few more times.

Yeah, I have to say–telling us it’s not all about the money is like saying, “Don’t think of purple elephants.”  We’re students!  The better majority of us listen idly to our parents tell us just how expensive our school is and then move on with life.  (Sorry, Mom.)  The Gospel was about a guy who was POSSESSED.  He had a legion of demons inside him!  And then Jesus kicked all their butts!  How much cooler do you get??  That was the perfect opportunity to sell a totally amazing “Church Militant” homily which glorifies Jesus as a sort of superhero! (I mean, there were tons of little kids there and I think they’d find that story just really, really awesome.)

Somewhere in the homiliy Father Werth stopped talking about schools and started talking about weather. He was annoyed, he said, that people care so much about weather when it doesn’t really matter. At this point I was on the verge of hysterical laughter and had to struggle to maintain silence.

The rest of the homily was him again screaming, “It’s not all about the money” a few hundred times more for good measure and then saying some other stuff. One of these other things was him talking about how Jesus is such a crucial part of our life that he should be the answer to everything. He then began asking everyday questions and encouraging the congregation to respond with, ‘Jesus!’. It went as follows (With FW ans the priest and C as the congregation):

FW: What’s up?
C: Jesus!
FW: How’s it going?
C: Jesus!
FW: What’s the weather like?
C: Jesus!
FW: How are you?
C: Jesus!

…I’m not going to comment a lot on this.  I was trying to stay patient by this point in time.  Any sense of reverence had totally disappeared, and the homily turned the Sacrifice into a talk show. >.<

There were more casual questions that made no sense with the answer as Jesus, but I think the point is there.
He then went on to give five questions that people should be asking themselves daily. I don’t remember exactly what they were, but I can assure you that they were cheesy things such as, ‘How do I see the world differently?” and “Who is in heaven that I should be looking to?” [Both the answers were, of course, Jesus.]

Eventually, the homily ended and after some other, less significantly painful parts of mass, we arrived at the Eucharistic Prayer. During this prayer, the Father would change the words at will, both to change the meaning and to remind everyone of his homily. There were, in the end, maybe two or three sentences of the prayer that were completely unchanged, if that.

Which makes me wonder, was it a legitimate Mass?  He prolonged the words of the Consecration and did two elevations of each the Host and of the chalice–first at the Secret (and waved each the Host and the chalice all the way around the gym) and then at the words of consecration, where they are supposed to be.  The only difference was that at the first elevation, he held the host flat, and at the second, he held it up at the words of “this is my Body.”  If you make it up as you go along, you have destroyed the point of the Sacrifice!  I really, really don’t know if this Mass was legitimate.

The Communion song was, “Lean on Me, ” and I still have no idea how that is a church song. After that song was the song, “Seasons of Love,” which was apparently from the musical Rent. It made me ashamed of the Aquinas choir, because usually they’re pretty okay with at least singing fairly religious songs. Their voices were amazing, but, again, I failed to see how it was related to anything else.

After the usual dull “Post communion reflection” and prayers was the graduation of one of the Chinese exchange students, Joyce, and it went acceptably. Once that was over, however, the mass again became awful as the little dancers gathered again, dancing to the song, “I Send You Out,” which is one of those songs upon which dissertations could be written about how awful it is.

In short, the mass was terrible. None of the elements tied together, the homily made absolutely no sense, and the words were changed for all of it. I don’t feel “churched,” and I don’t think anyone else does either,

Oh yes.  Rent. Let’s do, as a song in MASS, a musical song from a musical about sleeping around.  Lovely. I have nothing against the song itself!  “Seasons of Love” is a fine song, for a Broadway show, and the choir sounds downright flat-out amazing.  But this isn’t a concert, it’s a solemn sacrifice.  Would anyone have known this?  Not at all.

Thank you for reading this, if you made it all the way to the bottom.  If you have any issues with me personally, email me:  Otherwise, comment.  And pray for Aquinas, and for Nazareth.  Pray for deliverance from the insanity, and pray that God gets the respect He is due.  Just once… please.

Ad Orientem Worship

January 31st, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

I found this amusing. I think you will, too.

News From a Reader

January 30th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

I have no official confirmation on this, but I’ll pass it along anyway:

According to a reader, Fr. Kevin Murphy, pastor of St. Louis church in Pittsford, will be retiring prior to his 70th birthday for health reasons. The reader tells us that this announcement was made at the 11:00 AM Mass this morning, and that the bishop has permitted his retirement.

We will let you know if we hear any more details on this story. Please send us an e-mail if you know anything about this.

A Cathedral Rector Endorses Communion on the Tongue

January 30th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

From Rorate Caeli comes this bulletin article from the Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in the Diocese of Phoenix wherein the rector promotes Communion on the tongue:

Click above to enlarge

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see this promoted at our own Sacred Heart Cathedral?

A Ultra-Liberal Feminist On Abortion

January 30th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

In today’s Democrat & Chronicle editorial section, there is a letter to the editor from the president of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women. This group is part of the ultra-liberal wing of the feminist movement (the difference between conservative and ultra-liberal feminists is often that conservatives want equality for women, while ultra-liberals want superiority). Here is an excerpt from her commentary on abortion “rights”:

“As has been widely reported, about one-third of all women in the United States will choose to terminate a pregnancy in their lifetime. So my question to the letter-writer is this: Would you have the legal system punish these women as murderers?

It’s unlikely the answer is yes. Even the most rabidly anti-abortion advocates turn evasive and equivocate when confronted with that question.

Women end unwanted pregnancies. Some are able to do it safely, and some not. That is a fact of life — always has been, always will be, and no amount of hyperbolic rhetoric is going to change that.”

In response to her question whether we should prosecute those who commit infanticide, this “rabid anti-abortion advocate” will provide an answer: YES.  Intentional murder is intentional murder, regardless of how many people are committing the crime. Were 1/3 of people committing rape, would that mean we should not punish those who rape? Absolutely not! The number of people committing a crime has no bearing on whether or not something is illegal.

I really hope the letter writer made a mistake in her statistic that one-third of women in this country will have an abortion. Otherwise, may God have mercy on our souls.

Groundhog Day in Churchville

January 29th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Ms. Charlotte Bruney has been Pastoral Administrator of St. Vincent De Paul in Churchville since May of 1998. That is more than twelve years. During her tenure as administrator, the people of St. Vincent have grown apathetic toward the local priest shortage, and have become confused into thinking that a Communion Service is a worthy alternative to the Holy Mass. Thankfully, Ms. Bruney’s tenure as leader of this parish is coming to an end this June… Or is it?

Several years ago, following the Corpus Christi schism, the Diocese of Rochester adopted a policy to prevent a priest or lay administrator from getting too comfortable in any one assignment and attaining a godlike worship by their congregation (not at all suggesting this is the case here). This policy limits the maximum number of years a person can serve as pastoral leader to twelve. Priests may serve two six-year terms, while lay administrators can serve three four-year terms. Ms. Bruney has served the maximum 12 years. However, now that her parish is clustering with two neighboring parishes, she is able to apply as leader of this new cluster and possibly continue at St. Vincent De Paul indefinitely. Talk about a convenient loophole in the bishop’s policy! Here are her comments from the latest St. Vincent bulletin:

“For the past several years I have been told that I would not be eligible to apply for the leadership of the cluster and I have resigned myself to that. Just since my return from sabbatical, I have learned that this is no longer the case; I am eligible to apply. That, you might appreciate, raises even more questions for me personally.

“That said, I will apply for leadership of the new cluster. I realize, however, the fact that I have been so firmly rooted in Churchville these past twelve and a half years (ten and a half with Fr. Ted as weekend sacramental minister) will be part of the discernment by the personnel board when making a recommendation to the bishop with regard to this appointment.”

If the Bishop’s policy is real, and not just an excuse to remove orthodox priests from assignments while the progressive leaders get to continue on forever (think Our Lady Queen of Peace/St. Thomas More cluster), then Ms. Bruney’s tenure in Churchville should be finished this summer. We’ll see what the diocese will do when they see her application sitting in the inbox. It is not right that someone can continue as Pastoral Administrator of a parish for as long as they want while others are forced to pack their bags after four, six or twelve years because of Bishop Clark’s policy. As the opening paragraph of this post demonstrates, the people of St. Vincent De Paul need a new leader. May they get one this June.

A real keypad

January 29th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

When Verizon first released its version of the Blackberry Storm in December 2008 I had to have one.

Bad decision.

The touch screen keypad required overly precise finger taps to produce the intended letter.  If, for instance, I tapped the ‘r’ ever so slightly left of center the thing would think I wanted an ‘e’ and give me that instead.  This was a gizmo definitely not ready for prime time.  To be fair, subsequent software upgrades have improved the keypad’s accuracy but it will still occasionally produce the wrong character.  My next phone will definitely have a keypad with real keys.

Now, thanks to a tip from His Hermeneuticalness relayed by Fr. Z., I think I may have found that phone:

Webinar: Pastoral Planning As a Way of Being Church

January 28th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

Dr. Bill Pickett, DOR’s Director of Pastoral Planning from the inception of the program in 1997 through his retirement in 2006, will be presenting a free webinar at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, February 8.

The webinar, which is entitled Pastoral Planning As a Way of Being Church, is being hosted by Ave Maria Press …

In partnership with the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership and the National Association for Lay Ministry, Ave Maria Press is pleased to present this free, live webinar with William Pickett, PhD!

Pastoral planning is more than a way of dealing with a set of practical problems faced by dioceses and parishes: imbalances between human, financial, and facility resources and the membership of faith communities. While these issues of growth or decline are important to the health of dioceses, pastoral planning must focus on ways to create and sustain vital faith communities, no matter the circumstances in which they exist. This webinar will focus on pastoral planning as a way of being Church rather than a set of tools and techniques for planning.

Ave Maria Press also has this to say about its presenter …

William L. Pickett served as the Director of Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of Rochester for nine years from 1997 to 2006. That role strengthened his spiritual life and led him to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a church. He has thirty years of experience in higher education administration and served as the president of St. John Fisher College in Rochester for ten years.

Pickett, who holds a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Denver, is currently pursuing an M.A. in theological studies from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. He remains an active presenter and consultant in the field of organizational planning with particular expertise in pastoral planning. Pickett lives in Rochester with his wife Marilyn. [A Concise Guide to Pastoral Planning] is his first book.

Those wishing to attend the webinar will need to sign up here.

On a personal note, I was intimately involved with DOR’s Pastoral Planning For the New Millennium (PPNM) program for several years and served as Steering Committee Chairman of the Eastern Greece/Charlotte (EG/C) Planning Group from 2000 through 2007.  While I witnessed many new and worthwhile areas of cooperation among parishes during that time – both in EG/C and other planning groups – I cannot say that I ever once saw PPNM “create and sustain” a “vital faith community.”  Yes, I saw parishes merged and church buildings closed at the end of long, arduous processes but, in my experience, to term what arose from those ashes “vital faith communities” is to raise happy talk to a whole new level.  Just take a look at the recent fiasco in Irondequoit if you need an example.

When it comes time to close parishes Pastoral Planning has frequently led to unnecessarily hurt feelings, charges of backroom dealing and substantial numbers of Catholics leaving the faith.  That’s a way of “being Church” that only Satan could appreciate.

Just a Bit of Housekeeping

January 28th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

Some of the staff here has become slightly concerned at the amount of nit-picking and nay-saying on the part of some of our readers. I feel it would be best for everyone if we simply laid out the following items:

  1. If you disagree with our methodology, that’s fine. Don’t feel obligated to email us and illustrate our supposed flaws and failures in word in deed. (This being said, if you’re a priest, and you’re on the other side of a non-electronic screen inside a wooden box-like structure, that’s another matter altogether.)
  2. We will ban you from commenting (permanently or temporarily) if you treat any staffer disrespectfully. I could care less if you call us Nazis or Fascists. I don’t even care if you call us intolerant. Why? Because we are intolerant – that is, we’re intolerant of those who take it upon themselves to make moral pronouncements against our fallible efforts at orthodoxy.
  3. If you are compelled to write to us with a concern or criticism, remember that just because some of us are anonymous, it doesn’t mean we lack feeling or emotions. Name-calling and immature argumentativeness are not endearing qualities. (Note that there’s a difference between name-calling and seeing someone for who he/she is. For example, name-calling: “You’re an idiot.” Right observation: “Fr. _____ is a heretic because he denies Christ’s divinity.”)
  4. If you leave a comment which is rude, inflammatory, or jubilantly rebellious in its dissension from Church teaching, do not expect it to remain posted.

If you struggle with these simple precepts, all I can say is this:

Learn it. Live it. Love it.

A Reading From Hell’s Bible to the Progressives

January 27th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Various excerpts from a New York Times editorial written by Nicholas  D. Kristof about the Catholic hospital and nun who recommended a woman get an abortion, with commentary:

“Yet the person giving Jesus the heave-ho in this case was not a Bethlehem innkeeper. Nor was it an overzealous mayor angering conservatives by pulling down Christmas decorations. Rather, it was a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, stripping St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.

The hospital’s offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise.”

In this passage, the writer is trivializing the seriousness of abortion. Regardless of the reasons for engaging in this evil action, a willful act of infanticide is always infanticide. The Church’s teaching on this matter is clear, and has been reaffirmed throughout the centuries, from the Lord’s commandment not to kill, to the writings of the early Church Fathers, to the words of the modern Holy Fathers and bishops of today.  Obviously this was a very delicate and difficult situation for anyone to be faced with. However, it is not for us to play God and take it upon ourselves to decide whether the life of the mother or the child is more important. Every effort should be made to save both, but we must ultimately put our faith in God when all options have been exhausted, and not take the place of God by killing one life because we think one or both may be in danger. When there are no other options, we must rely upon the divine mercy of God as to what will transpire. A difficult situation like this does not give one free reign to murder.

“Now the bishop, in effect, is excommunicating the entire hospital — all because it saved a woman’s life.”

This is not correct. The bishop has stripped the hospital of its Catholic title and no longer permits Mass to be celebrated on its premises not because it “saved a woman’s life,” but because the hospital was an accomplice to murder. I don’t believe the “entire hospital” was excommunicated, as this writer suggests, but only those who had a significant hand in the abortion. Additionally, the excommunication was incurred latae sententiae, which means that it happened automatically when the event took place. This is detailed in Canon 1398. It was not by the bishop’s hand that the excommunication took place, but by the hands of the parties involved with the abortion.

“The main consequence is that Mass can no longer be said in the hospital chapel. Thomas C. Fox, the editor of National Catholic Reporter, noted regretfully that a hospital with deep Catholic roots like St. Joseph’s now cannot celebrate Mass, while airport chapels can.”

I am not aware of airports procuring abortions.

“To me, this battle illuminates two rival religious approaches, within the Catholic church and any spiritual tradition. One approach focuses upon dogma, sanctity, rules and the punishment of sinners. The other exalts compassion for the needy and mercy for sinners — and, perhaps, above all, inclusiveness.”

I hardly consider it compassionate for a person to put anther’s immortal soul in danger by encouraging them to commit murder. Where is the compassion in that? We too often think about making others feel good in this life that we neglect what affect this desire to placate may have on our neighbor’s eternal life. If we have a friend who is engaging in sodomy and wishes to enter into a homosexual “marriage”, do we remain silent or even support these actions in the spirit of inclusion and wanting the other person to be happy? Rather, shouldn’t we demonstrate true compassion, and inform the person that they are putting their soul in peril by engaging in sinful behavior?

“The thought that keeps nagging at me is this: If you look at Bishop Olmsted and Sister Margaret as the protagonists in this battle, one of them truly seems to me to have emulated the life of Jesus. And it’s not the bishop, who has spent much of his adult life as a Vatican bureaucrat climbing the career ladder. It’s Sister Margaret, who like so many nuns has toiled for decades on behalf of the neediest and sickest among us.

Then along comes Bishop Olmsted to excommunicate the Christ-like figure in our story. If Jesus were around today, he might sue the bishop for defamation.”

If Jesus were around today, he might sue this New York Times writer for defamation! The progressives (Catholic or otherwise) are constantly manipulating the true Jesus Christ so as to make Him into who they want Him to be; an amalgamation of Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King. The fact of the matter is that this is/was not Christ! A careful reading of the Bible will reveal that our Lord was a fiery preacher who admonished sinners, called all peoples to repentance regardless of how much they had sinned and to what nation they belonged, and reproved hypocrites who manipulated the law and failed to follow their own manipulations. Jesus was warm, fuzzy, and loving, make no mistake, but He was also firm, truthful, and faithful.

Sr. Margaret deserves no comparison to Christ because Christ did not, and would not condone murder. I am also struck by how the author seems to suggest that the Sister has done good for others while the bishop has done nothing but enforce Church laws. Does this writer know every detail of the bishop’s life which would enable him to prove that Bishop Olmstead never cared for the “neediest and sickest among us”? Let us not be so quick to exalt those who flaunt their good works (think Callan) while condemning those who chose to help others quietly (think Pope Pius XII).

Feel free to read the entire article. There is plenty of nonsense to be found.

You don’t HAVE a menu.

January 26th, 2011, Promulgated by Ink

I am utterly sick and tired of the complete and blatant lack of respect for marriage or for the family in today’s society.  How many times have I heard, from people I respect, the phrase, “Well, just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu.”  You don’t HAVE a menu.  You’re married–be it to your husband or wife or to God or the Church.  Even if you’re not married but just dating someone, think about it first.  Wouldn’t you want to be respected and loved, just as you are?  As my art teacher told me, “Criticism is the result of comparison.”  If your spouse or significant other begins to compare you to someone–maybe someone who is thinner, or who has blonde hair instead of brown, or is taller, or is shorter, or has a smaller nose, or maybe bigger eyes, or different-coloured eyes… do you see where I’m going with this?  Because someone else is different, and probably more attractive because of that, it makes you lesser.  Not as good.  Not good enough.

Now go back and look at that sentence. “Just because I’m on a diet doesn’t mean I can’t look at the menu.”  So you’re telling me, in short, that you are dissatisfied with what you have.  As a result of that, you’re “shopping around” and just ogling everything else, everything which seems “better.”

If you, dear reader, are guilty of doing this, I’m afraid I have to tell you that this is not a very good mentality.  It’s actually a sin.  “…He designates as an adulterer not only the man who violates the marriage of another by intercourse, but that man, also, who contaminates it by a lustful look.  Accordingly, it is quite dangerous for the mind to represent to itself something which is prohibited, just as it is rash, through an act of the will, to effect it in deed” (Tertullian, On Penitence).

To ogle someone else while you are committed in a relationship is what is commonly referred to as “cheating,” just not as blatantly obvious as actual physical “cheating.”  It objectifies the opposite sex, turning them into simple toys, of sorts, for the one doing the ogling.  Ogling someone outside of your relationship, like kissing someone else’s girlfriend or boyfriend while you’re both drunk out of your minds, is unfaithful and irresponsible.

I’d like to conclude by saying that you’re not just on a diet, you don’t even have an a menu.  Besides, what more do you need?  Married men and women are married forever (one would hope, but we’ve covered that in other posts), and priests and religious are promised to the Church and to God.  So who could ask for anything more?

Are Gluten-Free Hosts Valid Matter?

January 26th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

It has become the rage recently in the quest of many priests to be inclusive to make available low-gluten hosts at Communion for people who suffer from Celiac disease (never mind the fact that these people can partake of the chalice and still receive the whole body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ). The Church in recent years has granted permission for hosts, which while lower in their gluten content, still contain some gluten so that the host is bread.

My reason for posting on this topic is the following I noticed in the St. Charles Borromeo bulletin. Like many parishes, this community is trying to accommodate those with Celiac disease. However, unlike most parishes, the way St. Charles is describing their hosts is not “low gluten” but rather “gluten free.” Here is the article:

Perhaps they meant low gluten instead of gluten-free. I don’t know. The fact that they used the term “gluten free” four times in the article does cause me concern since gluten-free hosts are not valid matter for Communion. What this means is that if a priest attempts to consecrate a gluten free host, it will not become the Body of Christ, and will remain a piece of food.

Here is Fr. Edward McNamara’s analysis of gluten-free hosts. Fr. McNamara is a professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontificial University.

“The Holy See has declared that some gluten is necessary for the substance to be considered as true bread. And thus a gluten-free wafer, in spite of its external resemblance, is no longer bread and thus is incapable of becoming the Body of Christ.

The sacraments are far too important to risk performing them invalidly.

At the same time the Church has too much respect for the faithful with this condition to allow them to fall into error regarding whether they receive a genuinely consecrated host or not.

It would be a manifest act of negligence on the Church’s part to look the other way while some members of the faithful were being innocently induced into an act of idolatry by attributing adoration to what is in fact a lump of matter.”

As indicated above, the Holy See has ruled on the matter of gluten-free hosts. Here is what the Vatican says in a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith response, signed by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, Prot. 89/78-174 98:

“1. Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter
for the celebration of the Eucharist.

2. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.”

As one can see from these two passages, the presence of gluten in hosts is a very serious matter. If the host lacks gluten, then it is not valid matter for Communion, and will not become the body of Christ. As Fr McNamara says, were a person to adore an unconsecrated piece of food, they would be engaging in idolatry. The person also would not receive the spiritual benefits of Holy Communion.

Again, it is possible that this parish made an error and meant “low gluten.” However, I do not think we can afford to take that chance. If you have time, please send the parish a short, respectful note to inform them that it is necessary to have even a little gluten in the host to ensure that it is valid matter which can be consecrated. The parish can be reached here:

Presentation on St. Francis at the UofR this Thursday (1/27)

January 25th, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

Let’s hope I didn’t screw up the date this time like I usually do. I don’t know anything about this professor or the event, but it could prove to be interesting:

Medieval Society Presentation–Prof. William R. Cook

Francis Assisi
Robbins Library, Rush Rhees Library
January 27, 2011 5:00pm – 6:00pm

The Medieval Society will be hosting a presentation by Professor William R. Cook of SUNY Geneseo on Thursday, January 27 at 5pm in the Robbins Library, 4th floor, Rush Rhees Library. Professor Cook is a distinguished scholar of ancient and medieval studies. His lecture will be entitled, “Francis of Assisi: A Man of the 13th Century and a Man for the 21st Century.” We hope to see you there.

Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) came from a small city in central Italy. It is easy to dismiss him as a historical curiosity because he is from such a different place and remote time. However, there are striking parallels between his era and ours. I will suggest what some of those parallels are, how Francis creatively addressed the issues of his day, and how a knowledge of Francis can help us creatively to address the issues of our time.

Revised Monroe-Clinton Pastoral Plan

January 25th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

An updated pastoral plan has been posted to the Diocese of Rochester website for the Monroe-Clinton planning group (comprising St. Mary downtown, St. Boniface, and Blessed Sacrament). It was previously believed that all three of these churches would be clustering in June under a single pastoral leader, most likely being a lay administrator. However according to this revised plan, the configuration of the planning group may be a little different than anticipated.

Here is what the pastoral plan is calling for:

“When this pastoral plan is implemented, Blessed Sacrament and Saint Boniface will become a two parish cluster and Saint Mary will remain a single parish. All three worship and ministry sites will remain open and functioning. The three parishes will share the services of two priests.”

This is the first time I have heard about St. Mary not being included in the cluster. One can only speculate as to the reasons, though it could be at least somewhat about St. Mary being the major progressive haven in the diocese.

Here are some more interesting details from the pastoral plan:

“There will be two pastoral leaders (one for Blessed Sacrament/Saint Boniface and one for Saint Mary’s). Anne-Marie Brogan is already serving as pastoral administrator of Saint Mary’s. It is the strong desire of Saint Boniface and Blessed Sacrament that both priests as well as pastoral administrators be considered for the leadership of Blessed Sacrament/Saint Boniface [Methinks this is more the desire of Blessed Sacrament than St. Boniface given that St. Bonficace is home to a number of St. Anne exiles who have fled because of the lay administrator assigned to that parish]. We ask diocesan leadership to reach out to the most qualified candidates who could serve our unique communities at this important time in our history. We look forward to a leader who will bring our parishes together and will work with St. Mary’s to create a strong Catholic community in the southeast part of the City of Rochester. St. Mary’s supports the desire of Blessed Sacrament and Saint Boniface that the most qualified candidate be appointed by Bishop Clark. They also affirm that, once the two priests are appointed, Saint Mary’s needs to receive a sufficient portion of the priests’ services to meet the liturgical and sacramental needs of the people of Saint Mary’s, estimated to be approximately two thirds of the time of a full-time equivalent priest.”

Finally, here is the proposed Mass schedule. Keep in mind that the bishop has created his own rule that priests may offer no more than three Sunday obligation Masses per weekend.

4:00 Saint Mary’s
5:00 Saint Boniface

9:00 Saint Boniface
10:00 Blessed Sacrament
10:30 Saint Mary’s
12:15 Blessed Sacrament

Though the weekend Mass schedule appears even for each parish, the special treatment that the bishop’s favorite parish could soon receive  is something to keep a close eye on.

New York City – 41% of Pregnancies End in Abortion

January 25th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

A masterful piece by Fr. Barron:

Church Closing Yields Schism in Cleveland

January 25th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Bishop Clark is lucky that the following hasn’t happened in Rochester [yet] as a result of the numerous church closings.


“CLEVELAND, Ohio — Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese has threatened the Rev. Robert Marrone with punishment through church law for celebrating unauthorized Masses in a breakaway church.

Marrone and his congregation set up worship space in a commercial building in August, four months after Lennon closed their parish, St. Peter’s near downtown Cleveland.

Today, 48 hours past the deadline, Marrone read to his congregation a letter he had sent to the bishop in response to the threat: “It is my decision to remain in my present position with the Community of St. Peter.”

The congregation of about 300 people jumped to its feet in applause and shouts of “Bravo!”

The closing of the 151-year-old St. Peter on Superior Avenue and East 17th Street was part of a diocese-wide downsizing that saw the elimination of 50 parishes.”

I think what the sad story above teaches us is that we need to be extremely cautious when dealing with church closings, and only shut down those churches which are truly nonviable going into the future. Closings churches in order to create more “vibrant” worship in fuller and fewer church buildings, or because of a temporary decrease in clergy, do not constitute good reasons for closing churches in my book.

Bishop Vasa Named Coadjutor of Santa Rosa

January 24th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Whispers in the Loggia reports today that Bishop Robert Vasa, a strong defender of life and marriage who is currently serving as bishop of the Diocese of Baker, has been named the coadjutor bishop (notice the growing trend toward coadjutor transitions) of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. Bishop Daniel Walsh, the current head of the Santa Rosa diocese, is 73 years old, and three months younger than our own bishop, Matthew Clark.

Here are excerpts from the article:

“In an ecclesiastical province that’s long been regarded as one of the nation’s most progressive, Vasa’s appointment marks the second straight importing of a figure with well-established conservative [orthodox] cred, following early 2009’s naming of Bishop Salvatore Cordileone to Oakland. The church’s standout voice of advocacy for the passage of Proposition 8 — California’s successful referendum on protecting traditional marriage (currently under challenge in Federal court) — the East Bay prelate was recently named the US bishops’ new lead spokesman for the national church’s significant efforts on the defense of marriage.

Vasa’s Mass of Welcome in the 150,000-member diocese will be held on 6 March.”

This is good news for the people of Santa Rosa. The Holy Father continues to hit on most of his episcopal appointments.

537 days.

Update 9:42 PM – An interview with Bishop Vasa conducted by Catholic World Report can be read by clicking here.

Really Effective Apologia

January 24th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

The Frari Triptych, Giovanni Bellini, 1488, in the sacristy of the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, Italy. Madonna and Child with Sts. Nicholas and Paul (left) and Benedict and Peter (right)

(Click on picture for larger image)

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1985)

“The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb. Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in communities of believers… If the Church is to continue to transform and humanize the world, how can she dispense with beauty in her liturgies, that beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection? No. Christians must not be too easily satisfied. They must make their Church into a place where beauty -and hence truth- is at home.”


As quoted in The Beauty of Faith: Using Christian Art to Spread the Good News, Jem Sullivan, (Huntington, Our Sunday Visitor Pbulishing Division 2009) 95, 96

“Preach the Gospel at all times…

January 23rd, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

“Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary smash skulls and sign the cross in the eastern way.” – Troy Polamalu.

No, I don’t have a source for that quote, but I’ve also never seen a source for the St. Francis quote.  Some players give lip service to their Christian faith, but Troy Polamalu is the real deal. From his website:

Polamalu is also well read in the history and theology of early Christianity, which ultimately led him and his wife Theodora to convert [I’m not sure what from – pray it’s not Catholic] to Greek Orthodox Christianity in 2007. He makes the Sign of the Cross after every play (from right to left, in the Eastern Orthodox manner, as opposed to the Roman Catholic manner of left to right). Among his spiritual activities is a pilgrimage to Orthodox Christian sites in Greece and Turkey, taken in 2007. He seldom gives interviews, but when he does, he often speaks of the role his spirituality plays in his life. Polamalu has said that he tries to separate himself from his profession as much as possible, including not watching football games at home. He prays after each play and on the sidelines. His children, Paisios and Ephraim, are both named after well-known Greek Orthodox Christian saints.

So he’s not Catholic, but close enough to share this enjoyable video (including music which nicely complements some another video I recently posted)

note: Cleansing Fire does not endorse any organizations (Steelers, RNC, etc) other than the Catholic Church.

UPDATE: To even this out, I’ve included Hungry Hippo’s video from the forums of Jets’ coach Mike Westoff: