Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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DeSales High School to Close

July 31st, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

While it has not yet been publicly announced (Update: It has been announced now. Cleansing Fire was the first to break this story publicly), those within the DeSales community have learned that, despite the Board of Trustees announcing last month that they voted to keep the school open for the 2012-2013 school year, DeSales will be closing.  A letter is in the process of being sent out to announce this decision. (Attached below)

EDIT: New information suggests that the DeSales Board of Trustees voted in an emergency meeting to reverse their earlier decision, and it may be the Board of Trustees who, after publicly announcing that DeSales would remain open for the upcoming school year, reneged on that statement.  

Behold the fruits of 33 years of leadership from Bishop Matthew Clark:

4 out of 9 High Schools have closed.

50 out of 72 Primary Schools have closed

At least 40 churches have been closed.

Mass attendance has fallen nearly 40 percent since 2001.

An indelible mark, indeed.  Well done, good and faithful servant.

UPDATE: News outlets have picked up this story here, here, here, here and here.

Interview with Peter Cheney, Chairman of the Board of Trustees here

Email sent out to parents below:

Dear Parents/Guardians, Teachers, Staff and Alumni,

It is our sad duty to inform you that, after 100 years, DeSales High School is closing. This decision was made by the DeSales Board of Trustees after a thorough review of current enrollment projections and financial data, and after much prayer and heartfelt consideration.

While the decision to end the school’s long tenure is difficult for a

ll who love DeSales, we felt it was the only responsible course given the many admirable efforts to raise needed funds and boost enrollment, both of which fell short of the minimum needs to sustain the school now and in the future.

Words are not sufficient to express our gratitude to you, the DeSales Family. Our students and their parents showed patience and courage. Our staff showed incredible loyalty. Our alumni provided financial support and helped spread the word of our plight. This speaks much of the lasting legacy that is DeSales.

May God grant us peace and understanding in the weeks ahead and offer solace and comfort to those most affected by this decision. Over the course of these many decades of excellence, DeSales has given many generations lasting memories and changed our lives forever. 

May those memories and all that we learned at DeSales sustain us.


Peter Cheney
DeSales Board of Trustees


Hare-esy reigns supreme

June 1st, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

Or, Reason number 197,286 why July 15 cannot come fast enough.

The French Road Heresy Factory (aka St. Barnyard’s), as you all know, is home to a wide variety of Diocesan-sponsored dissent, from the President on down.  Here’s the latest bit:

Each summer, the Preaching Institute (previously noted by Mike here) hosts a workshop.  While the previous two presenters were priests who were fairly noted for such presentations, this year’s presenter is a bit…different. It’s layman Mark Hare

Yes, that Mark Hare.   The same Mark Hare that has spent years pushing against the Catholic teachings on sexuality in his columns, particularly in promoting homosexual so-called marriage.  The same Mark Hare that has written numerous positive articles about the schismatic Spiritus Christi Church.  The very same Mark Hare who works for Spiritus Christi while being a parishioner at the Cathedral.  Clearly, this is exactly the sort of fellow that ought to be able to explain homiletics.  Nothing like an aging liberal layperson teaching other aging liberal laypeople how to give an illicit homily…talk about the blind leading the blind!

On a more comical note, the summer workshop in 2010 featured “a sumptuous luncheon buffet,”  while in 2011, it simply included “lunch.”  This year, it has been cut to a half-day, with no meal included.

Margot Van Etten believes the Church Disdains Women

February 18th, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

Have you ever noticed how tiresome the arguments put forth by the pseudo-Catholic left become over time?  If not, grab yourself a coffee and read these remarks from one of Bishop Clark’s beloved army of “Lay Ecclesial Ministers,” Margot VanEtten, Campus Minister/Director of the Newman Community at SUNY Brockport.  Isn’t it nice to realize that Bishop Clark’s reign of heterodoxy has but 148 days until he submits his retirement papers?  After that, this craziness will be on borrowed time.  Mrs. VanEtten, commenting on this article in America Magazine, (a notoriously heterodox catholyc weekly loved, adored, and glorified by those who worship the “Spirit of Vatican II,”) says the following, emphasis and (commentary) mine:

Of course young women are not attracted to the Church.  Why would anyone be drawn to an institution that seems to have such little respect for them? Here’s the evidence:
-before you even begin to discuss the priesthood, the Church has not made the steps it would if women were truly valued, such as opening the diaconate to them.(see later in this post, when we cite Margot’s semi-official bio.)
-Women are not being listened to adequately.  Women’s experience too often appears to be ignored or disdained.  Like most women, I am not interested in a form of “feminism” which has been developed by men and imposed on me as “authentic”. (Clear rejection of Theology of the Body, and essentially of a great multitude of Catholic teachings.  I would suggest she, or any other woman blinded by this misconception, read this book.  The Church has repeatedly failed to seek out, value or listen to the experience of women. Rather, leaders still continue to write of us as the “Other”.
-Most of the activities which in an earlier day required women to be members of a religious order if they wished to undertake them can now be engaged with in the secular world.  You don’t have to be a sister to teach, to be a nurse, to be a missionary-or even to get and advanced education. Moreover, the opportunities women have in the secular world are far more determined by their skills rather than their gender. Why should it be surprising that women focus there? (The same can be said of men…so this is not gender-specific in the least…)

If the Church truly values women, it will address their experience of these issues rather than ignore, stifle or spin them. (Read: Let me be a priest)
I say this as a minister who is loyal and loves the faith despite these grave deficiencies, and I continue to encourage young women to see the Church as a spiritual home. Unfortunately, all too often the voice that discourages them comes from the Church’s leaders-(might I note that perhaps the voice that discourages true femininity are the wannabewomymnpreestz who are all too often the “Church’s leaders” in Rochester.  Why would a young woman wish to join a religious order filled to the brim with bitter, embattled old women who despise the very Church they claim to serve? What intelligent, self-respecting young woman would choose to surround herself with post-menopausal women who wish nothing more than to diminish their femininity, in favor of masculinity and call it “feminism” and consider themselves young, hip, social change agents? Note that vocations to orthodox women’s religious orders where femininity is embraced are booming!) not from the secular world.

By Margot VanEtten on February 14, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Now, let us examine Mrs. VanEtten’s bio:

Margot is the Full-time Campus Minister for the Newman Community.  She has been involved in teaching, campus life, and ministry for more than thirty years.

Margot has a Masters’ Degree in Theology and is an ABD (“all but dissertation”) in English. Along with her husband Larry, she completed the Diocese of Rochester’s Permanent Deacon Training Program. (I wanna be a priest! I wanna be a deacon! I have the same training, so why can’t I do it?  You must hate women, Pope Benedict!) She taught English at Finger Lakes Community College and (many years ago) at Penn State.  At St. Bernard’s Institute she taught “Introduction to Spirituality” and developed a course in Sacred Ecology. (Sacred what now?  I will note that Mrs. VanEtten is somewhat obsessed with “animal rights,” so I should not be surprised.  Something tells me that her courses at St. Barnyard’s are…much like most of the courses at the French Road Heresy Factory.) She also developed a course in Self Defense for Women which she has taught at FLCC, Nazareth College and at Harp Karate in Rochester, where she is an instructor. (Margot holds Black Belts in four Martial Arts, which she has been practicing and teaching for more than fifteen years).  

In addition, Margot is a Certified Sign Language Interpreter.  She has been an Interpreter for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology, as well as Coordinator of Interpreters for the RIT Campus Ministry, and was Pastoral Assistant for St. Mary’s Church of the Deaf (now Emmanuel Church of the Deaf).  She has published two articles about religious interpreting and has designed programs for Sexual Harassment Awareness for a local consulting company as well as the Self-defense program offered at Harp Karate and various area colleges.  She has wide experience in interfaith ministries and worship,(Oh joy!) and brings a lot of enthusiasm to her work and ministry on campus.

Well, that doesn’t exactly sound like a Catholic bio, but rather that of an earth-obsessed, liberal feminist.  Well, let’s see what sort of mission statement Mrs. VanEtten’s SUNY Brockport Newman Community espouses:

In recognition of the importance of spiritual growth in the development of the whole person, the mission of the Newman Catholic Community at SUNY Brockport is to:

  • Promote and encourage the spiritual growth of all members of the College through opportunities for prayer, growth and study. (not necessarily, it appears, Catholic growth…)
  • Reach out to all members of the student community and support their growth in body, mind and spirit. (Apparently it’s the YMCA now)
  • Nurture a sense of community that respects and honors diversity. (Read: all religions are equal.)
  • Support the development of a strong interfaith ministry and community on campus. (Why?)
  • Encourage generous service to those in need.
  • Be present and available to listen, console, and challenge with love.

Now, far be it from me to judge an organizational leader by his or her supposed mission, but…well…actually…that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  Does anything in that mission statement even suggest Catholicism specifically? Any mention of the Sacraments, of Holy Mass, of growing in knowledge of the faith?  Note the phrase “spiritual growth through…prayer, growth, and study.” First of all, how can one encourage spiritual growth through opportunities for growth?  That, my friends, is meaningless drivel!  Respect diversity and develop a strong interfaith community?  That sure doesn’t sound like someone who believes that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.”  Perhaps the lack of an authentically Catholic presence on college campuses plays some part in the lack of twenty-somethings who attend Mass regularly, hm?

It’s amazing what rotten fruit has arisen in the thirty years since Bishop Clark published “Fire in the Thornbush,” his infamous pastoral letter on “Women in the Church.” You can find Cleansing Fire’s review of his 2010 book on essentially the same subject, Forward in Hope: Saying Amen to Lay Ecclesial Ministry” here.  Finally, I will note (again) Ecclesiae de mysterio 4, which essentially explains that what happens here in Rochester is quite illicit:

Article 4

The Parish Priest and the Parish
The non-ordained faithful, as happens in many worthy cases, may collaborate effectively in the pastoral ministry of clerics in parishes, health care centers, charitable and educational institutions, prisons, Military Ordinariates etc. Provisions regulating such extraordinary form of collaboration are provided by Canon 517, 2.

1. The right understanding and application of this canon, according to which “If the diocesan bishop should decide that due to a dearth of priests a participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish is to be entrusted to a deacon or to some other person who is not a priest or to a community of persons, he is to appoint some priest endowed with the powers and faculties of a pastor to supervise the pastoral care”, requires that this exceptional provision be used only with strict adherence to conditions contained in it. These are:

a) ob sacerdotum penuriam and not for reasons of convenience or ambiguous “advancement of the laity“, etc.;

b) this is participatio in exercitio curae pastoralis and not directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish; these competencies, according to the canon, are the competencies of a priest alone.

Because these are exceptional cases, before employing them, other possibilities should be availed of, such as using of the services of retired priests still capable of such service, or entrusting several parishes to one priest or to a coetus sacerdotum [group of priests].(75)

In any event, the preference which this canon gives to deacons cannot be overlooked.

The same canon, however, reaffirms that these forms of participation in the pastoral care of parishes cannot, in any way, replace the office of Parish Priest. The same canon decrees that “The diocesan bishop … is to appoint some priest endowed with the powers and faculties of a pastor to supervise the pastoral care”. Indeed, the office of Parish Priest can be assigned validly only to a priest (cf. Canon 521, 1) even in cases where there is a shortage of clergy.(76)

2. In the same regard, it must be noted that the Parish Priest is the Pastor proper to the parish entrusted to him(77) and remains such until his pastoral office shall have ceased.(78)

The presentation of resignation at the age of 75 (Clark mandates retirement at 70.) by a Parish Priest does not of itself (ipso iure) terminate his pastoral office. Such takes effect only when the diocesan Bishop, following prudent consideration of all the circumstances, shall have definitively accepted his resignation in accordance with Canon 538, 3 and communicated such to him in writing.(79) In the light of those situations where scarcity of priests exists, the use of special prudence in this matter would be judicious.

In view of the right of every cleric to exercise the ministry proper to him, and in the absence of any grave health or disciplinary reasons, it should be noted that having reached the age of 75 does not constitute a binding reason or the diocesan Bishop to accept a Parish Priest’s resignation. This also serves to avoid a functional concept of the Sacred Ministry.(80)

Treasures from the Library/Digital Library

February 14th, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

Constantly, my friends tell me, “Abaccio, you should read this here book, you’d love it!” I always tell them, quite honestly, that I’ll add it to my list.  Unfortunately, the list grows faster than I can read!  As I was venturing through my theological library (now over 500 printed volumes, not including booklets), I realized that contained therein were some real treasures.  I’m sure I’ll make a similar post in the not-too-distant future continuing on this thread, but, for the time being, some cool old books I recommend to all of you!

1.) The Holy Bible, Douay-Rheims Version (Challoner revision), 1914, 1400pp. I have a great multitude of Bibles, but this one is my favorite, by far.  I picked it up at an estate sale a few years back for the low, low, price of one dollar, and it has served me quite well.  It may take a wee bit to get used to, as certain books have different names than in modern translations, and the Psalms retain the “Catholic” numbering.

2.) Breviarium Romanum, 1928, 1200pp.  This is such a neat little piece of history, though it is not exactly the easiest breviary to use.  Why, you ask?  The instructions, as well as the text, are in Latin!  Once one figures it out, however, the beauty of the prayer is unsurpassed. I got this for fifty cents in a lot of books online.

3) Liber Usualis, 1934, 1900pp.  The liber contains most versions of the ordinary chants of the Mass (Kyrie/Gloria/Credo/Sanctus/Benedictus/Agnus Dei, and Proper Chants for every commonly-celebrated liturgical feast.  Furthermore, it contains ritual-specific and Divine Office chants.  If you are a liturgical music aficionado, this is a spectacular resource.  I splurged for my liber to the tune of $68.  That’s still 50 dollars cheaper than currently available online, so I’ll consider it a steal!

4) Raccolta, 1929, 550pp.  This is a really neat book that you almost never see anymore.  From 1807 until it was replaced in 1967, it served as a collection of indulgenced prayers and good works, along with their specified indulgence.  Again, this came in the same lot of books as my Breviarium. 50 cents!  

5) The Faith of Our Fathers, 1876, 440pp.  When a friend asked for my favorite book, I cited this one.  This book was essentially directed at the conversion of Protestants, by explaining the basic tenets of the Faith, and why we hold them.  I actually have a few copies of it, but this one is certainly my favorite. Why? The book sold millions of copies (as of 30 years ago, it was in its 111th printing), and printed on the title page of this one, is “the fortieth thousand.”  I found this buried among decades of dust in my grandmother’s attic.  free!

I mention these books specifically because just this evening, I came across the best “app” I have ever seen, entitled iPieta.  For  a mere $2.99, it includes:

1) The Douay-Rheims and Latin Vulgate Bibles: Available side-by-side

2) Liturgical Calendars (and daily readings), both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms; both Latin and English.

3) Hundreds of Prayers, both in Latin and English, including the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Extraordinary Form of Mass, the prayers for Benediction, the rosary (with mysteries), litanies, creeds, novenas, the way of the cross, a whole slew of confession resources and prayers, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and hundreds of other prayers.

4) A veritable library of fantastic theological resources, including the following:

  • Baltimore Catechisms and Catechism of Christian Doctrine
  • Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis De Sales
  • The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas Kempis
  • The works of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and St Teresa of Jesus
  • The works of St. John of the Cross, St John Vianney, and St Josemaria Escriva.
  • The Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas Aquinas
  • The Roman Catechism (also knows as The Catechism of The Council of Trent or The Catechism of Pope St. Pius V)
  • The Summa Theologica, by St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Haydock’s Bibilical Commentary
  • Catena Aurea (St. Thomas Aquinas’ collection of Church Fathers on the Gospels)
  • Spiritual Exercises (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
  • Every Papal Encyclical and Council Document
  • The Lives of the Saints
  • The Raccolta
  • The Rule of St Benedict
  • The works of St. Augustine, St John Chrysostom, and the Nicene and ante-Nicene Fathers
  • The Faith of our Fathers, by Cardinal Gibbons, and much, much more!

Furthermore, for a mere 99 cents, one can acquire the app Breviarium Meum, which has side-by-side Latin-English for all 8 hours, as well as a treasury of prayers.  Very easy to use!

Finally, for those who would love a Liber, but don’t have $100 lying around, the app Liber Pro is $14.99, and very easy to use.

+Clark speaks, but what does he say?

February 5th, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

As promised, if Bishop Clark spoke out on the Contraception Mandate, I would give him credit.  I’m surprised to see that His Excellency has joined over 150 other American Bishops in speaking out against this mandate.  Kudos, Your Excellency!  That said, let us examine precisely  what he said, what the standard form-letter states, and some of the more impressive  responses given by other Bishops.  I will let you be the judge of the quality of his…”speaking out on the issue,” but I, quite frankly, think it is exceedingly weak and, much like most of the fruits of his administration, rather emasculated.

Bishop Olmsted’s letter here is essentially the form-letter used by a great many Bishops.  Here is Bishop Clark’s letter.

The following text is from the form-letter.  The bold parts are those included by +Clark.  The [bracketed parts] were added by +Clark.  That which is neither bracketed nor bold was struck out by +Clark. That in (red) is my commentary

Dear Brothers and Sisters [Sisters and Brothers] in Christ, (always obsessed with women…)

[With a heavy heart,] I write to you [today to call your attention to an important development which] concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at [threatens] the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. (note the difference in opening paragraph.  +Clark refuses to acknowledge the fact that this is a direct attack on the Catholic Church and her people.)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced [on January 20, 2012] last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, (won’t acknowledge the specifically Catholic problem…)will [now] be forced [mandated] to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies. (+Clark does not use the word “forced,” thus making it seem less problematic…mandated sounds less dictator-ish than “forced”)

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule [ruling] is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared [will be required to] either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply. (+Clark refuses to implicate the Obama administration, does not note that there are penalties for dropping health coverage, nor acknowledge their absurd “concession.  Furthermore, his use of “ruling” makes it seem like an impartial judge, rather than an anti-Catholic bigoted President made this decision.)

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

[As we have done in the past, so now we must make our voices heard on this important matter of religious freedom.] (So very inspiring! A true call to action…uh…nope!  He also does not suppose civil disobedience as a course of action, just suggests that we talk about it.  ONCE AGAIN, stripping the letter of any real courage.)

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must  [to] commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may [might] prevail, and [that true] religious liberty may be restored. (He really hates the word “must,” apparently.) Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I [ask you individually to visit] would also recommend visiting, to learn more about this severe assault (severe sounds mean, let’s skip that too!)on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s [administrative] decision. (SEE! +Clark refuses to implicate the Obama administration in a way that might form our voting consciences in 2012!)

[May God Bless our efforts to do what is right.]

Some other Bishops’ responses include

Bishop Tobin of Providence, who stated, “The ruthless decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to impose mandatory coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives upon private insurance programs, including those offered by the Catholic Church, is an unprecedented, outrageous and unacceptable attack on religious freedom and the moral life and ministry of the Church.”

Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn noted, “As a Bishop, this troubles me because it indicates that we have failed to teach the truths of the Catholic Faith clearly and convincingly.”

Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh, when his first impassioned response was met with complaints, responded to them.  His answer to  “The Church doesn’t care about women’s health.” follows:

I think that is when my head nearly exploded. The truth be told, the Catholic Church throughout this country virtually created health care in the United States. In Pittsburgh, the first hospital, Mercy Hospital, was opened under Church auspices within a year of the founding of our diocese and long before the government responded. The Church’s health care ministry was built primarily by Catholic women and has served women of all faiths and no faith from its inception. What we don’t do, can’t do, won’t do is consider pregnancy a disease equivalent to the flu. Or to be “cured” by death.”

Finally, let us hear Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, who exclaims:

“As your bishop, I want to make it clear that I consider this mandate unconstitutional, unjust and evil.

This mandate is unconstitutional because it does not allow us the full and unfettered practice of our faith. The religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is not simply the freedom to worship God on Sunday morning, but also the freedom to worship Him by living moral lives. No Catholic can claim to live a moral life and at the same time support contraception, direct sterilization and abortion. The first amendment guarantees us the freedom not to participate in health care plans that would require us to insure and pay for actions that are gravely sinful.

Because this mandate is unconstitutional, we will refuse to comply with it.

This mandate is evil, because not only does it require that all Catholics cooperate in sin by providing for and paying for coverage for gravely immoral actions which have as their final end the destruction of human life, but also by requiring that Catholics who do not cooperate in this should be punished. Were we to comply with this law, we would offend God and imperil our souls. We will not comply.

This mandate is unjust because it imposes a secular definition of religious freedom that makes it a crime to practice our faith in the public square. It is the Church – not the government – which has the right to determine how and when we practice our faith. In this matter, President Obama’s administration has overstepped its authority. This is what Pope Leo XIII cautioned against when he wrote over a hundred years ago: “if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, then those rulers exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice. Nor can their authority be valid, since authority without justice is null.”

From the founding of our nation, we Catholic have always obeyed the laws. But this law, we cannot obey.”

Therefore, I ask you: What do you think about Bishop Clark’s response to this debacle?

+Clark’s continued silence speaks volumes

January 31st, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

When was the last time you heard contraception denounced from the pulpit?  How many parishes stress the importance of Natural Family Planning in their Pre-Cana classes?  Have you EVER heard your priest give a no-frills defense of the Church’s teachings on contraception?  In all of my years in all of the parishes I’ve attended, I have never once heard a homily that even broaches the subject.  Why not?  That answer, dear readers, is simple.  For the past forty-four years, (and, indeed, before that!) since His Holiness, Pope Paul VI promulgated Humanae Vitae, countless Priests, Bishops, Religious, and Laypersons have either ignored or openly dissented from the teachings contained therein.  This has been especially prevalent right here in the Diocese of Rochester.

For Reference, HV 14 states:

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

HV 17 prophetically continues,

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.  (See: China) It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband 

Dear Bishops, Priests, Religious, and Laypersons:


Fr. Charles Curran’s obstinate post-baptismal denial of the teachings of the Church on this very topic in 1986 caused then-Cardinal Ratzinger to ban him from the teaching of Catholic Theology and cost him his job as a tenured professor at the Catholic University of America in DC.  Curran, as many of you know, remains a priest in good standing of the Diocese of Rochester.  As far as I know, the reason for this is quite simple: Bishop Matthew Clark AGREES with him!  Of course, we all know the long story of His Excellency’s history of dissent on issues of sexual morality: his near-obsession with the promotion of the homosexual agenda, his implicit support of the use of a transgendered crucifix, his appointment of heretical Sr. Pat Schoelles as President of the French Road Heresy Factory, his 33 non-appearances at the March for Life, and the forcible removal of his imprimatur from the 1986 heretical book Parents Talk Love: The Catholic Family Handbook About Sexuality, as it approved of contraception, masturbation, and homosexuality.  The list goes on and on and on.

Thus, with over 116 American Bishops speaking out about this issue, Bishop Clark’s continued silence speaks volumes.  You may recall the last time American Bishops rallied together to defend the Faith: The Notre Shame Scandal.  The final count of those speaking out against the decision was 83.  Now, there is perhaps an argument of “pastoral sensitivity” or some such that could be reasonably defended when ignoring the events at Notre Shame.  THERE IS NO EXCUSE not to speak up and defend the TRUTH in this instance.  There is still time, after 33 years of failed leadership, for His Excellency to turn over a new leaf.  That time, however, is running shorter by the day.  The clock ticks down…170, 169, 168, 167, 166…

I once, when traveling, met a priest of another Diocese.  When he recognized me as a visitor (Pastoral Sensitivity!), he asked where I was from.  When I told him that I was from Rochester, New York, he exclaimed, “Rochester! Beautiful country up there!  It’s a shame they don’t have a CATHOLIC Bishop!” With this in mind, let us look for some guidance from the more courageous and orthodox among the American Episcopate:

Bishop Jenky of Peoria asked that the St Michael Prayer be prayed during the General Intercessions at EVERY MASS.

Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh stated that, “It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, “To Hell with you!” There is no other way to put it.”

Bishop Etienne of Cheyenne guides our voting consciences thus: “When an Administration, after seeking feedback on such a controversial ruling, still decides to act in a manner that violates our freedom of religion, it is quite telling…”

Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, and dozens of other bishops implore us to “commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.”

Bishop Paprocki of Springfield states that, ” the president was being either dishonest or delusional or he is incompetent” due to his claim last November that the concerns of Catholics were unfounded.

Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln noted that “in an act of mockery,” “Kathleen Sebelius, a bitter fallen-away Catholic, now requires that all insurance, even when issued privately, must carry coverage for evil and grave sin.”

Bishop Lori of Bridgeport explains how this mandate will directly harm the poor and vulnerable

Cardinal-Designate Dolan of New York explains that it is absurd to believe  that “we might suddenly be more willing to violate our consciences 12 months from now,” and goes on to explain that “This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.”

The (Arch)Bishops of Washington DC, Kansas City, KS (Sebelius’ home diocese), Wilmington, DE (Biden’s home diocese), as well as our neighboring Bishops in Buffalo and Syracuse have spoken out on this mandate, as have the Bishops of Ogdensburg, Rockville Center, and Brooklyn. For those keeping score at home, every single Diocesan Bishop in New York State EXCEPT  +Clark and his heretical best friend, Bishop Hubbard of Albany, have spoken out on this mandate.  The silence is deafening.


**Disclaimer:  If, in fact, Bishop Clark speaks out about this issue, I will be exceedingly glad to rescind the parts of this post that speak ill of the man.  I am not holding my breath, but that is the outcome for which I am praying.  Note: This does not constitute His Excellency “speaking out” on the issue.**

Septuagenarian Bieber: Bishop Clark and his Backup Dancers

September 27th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Do you ever take time to check out the social media outlets of Diocesan affiliates?  The septuagenarians who run this Diocese have realized that young people are far more likely to notice something on Facebook than elsewhere.  You can find many interesting things on Facebook.  For instance, check out the Facebook Page of St Francis-St Stephen School in Geneva, NY.  You will encounter not one, not two, but TWELVE albums containing non-liturgical events and/or slews of children in the Sanctuary for non-liturgical purposes in one of the two churches.  Graduations, Concerts, para-liturgical events, you name it.  But of course, this is not about the school’s misuse of the Church when they have a parish center, gymnasium with a stage, and a cafeteria with a stage all at their disposal.  No, this is about something we’ve all seen before.  No, really, we’ve seen EXACTLY this before.  Welcome to this year’s reprise of the offertory sign language liturgical…performance?

As you can clearly see,  this is being done DURING the Mass, extending throughout the Offertory (notice the cruets appear partway through the dance), as a PERFORMANCE.  This is not Catholic.  This is not appropriate.  This is, once again, using children to push an agenda, yet another instance of an inappropriate performance in the Sanctuary.  Just like we saw here and here and here and here and here and here and here.  Oh yeah, and here and here and here and here.  Dare I say that I see a pattern?

Without further ado,






































People invent new rituals when they fail to understand the ones they already have.  If the adults who encourage this sort of behavior understood the Mass (at least, as far as we can understand it), this would not happen. EVER.  They are passing down to the children a grossly distorted understanding of the Mass;  “Thanks for coming today, folks, we’ve got a great show for you, and hopefully you are entertained enough to come back occasionally!”  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a talent show.  Full, conscious, active participation in the Mass means PRAYING the Mass.  This is full, conscious, active participation in something else entirely.

With every liturgical innovation, we must ask ourselves: Is this drawing me to Christ? To Calvary? More deeply into the Mass itself?  Am I aiding or taking away from what is about to happen on the Altar of Sacrifice?  Is this edifying?  Without fail, the answer is no.  It is infuriating and it is distracting.   When they are raised to think that Mass is about something other than sacrifice and eternal salvation, they realize they can get it, often times better, somewhere else: fellowship, a meal, ethics, pop music, dance, the list goes on and on.

Almost to a one, these Catholic children fall away from the Church once they reach High School or College. Just look at the history. In 32 years of Bishop Clark, we have closed 50 of our 72 Catholic Grammar Schools.  The average age of mothers at birth is approximately 30.  Grammar school children average about 10 years of age.  This means that their parents are around 40, give or take (and often younger).  This means that the average parent of the average Catholic School student was 8 years old when Bishop Clark took office. There are so many fewer Catholic School students today precisely because the generation that their parents comprise either 1) did not have children, 2) fell away, or 3) do not see value in a DoR education.  Seeing these shenanigans again and again and again, I am not surprised.  If the Church is turned into a performance hall and schools stress academic excellence instead of discipleship, why should we expect anything else?

What’s playing at the Roxy?

August 10th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Thanks to a reader for the tip on this story.

You may recall this post about the egregious misuse of the Sanctuary at St. Ambrose Church each Lent.  Well, congratulations are in order for St Christopher in Chili and their Pastor, Fr. Bob Gaudio, for decidedly topping this abuse!  Apparently, Fr. Gaudio has not only allowed, but advertised in his bulletin, and sold tickets at Masses to a performance of the secular musical “Guys and Dolls,” a show about gangsters.  Now, while this would probably be an inappropriate thing to advertise and sell tickets to in general for a Catholic parish, this is certainly not blog-worthy.  What’s more disconcerting is that this is clearly happening in the Church, with Our Lord present in the Tabernacle.

You can clearly see the sanctuary lamp burning in the picture, and the tabernacle behind the cast.  Can anyone objectively say that this is an appropriate fundraiser to hold in the Church Proper, ESPECIALLY with Jesus in the Tabernacle?!  While there is a disordered, unreasonable, but at least somewhat valid conception of the passion mime as a prayer, I cannot imagine a scenario in which this can be construed as such.  This is not portraying anything Christian.  The score from Guys and Dolls is not sacred in its character, nor is it conducive to meditative prayer.  It fails to bring anyone closer to Christ (except, perhaps, as part of the age-old prayer “Oh my God, make it stop!”), and it fails to uphold the character of a Catholic Church.

Why do these dissenting priests (recall: Fr Gaudio signed the infamous 2004 letter suggesting that the Church change its approach to homosexuality…read: pretend it’s not sinful.) continue to use their Churches for inappropriate performances?  In my humble opinion, it fits clearly with the rest of their agenda: turn the Church into a social club, whose only moral directives focus upon the poor and the environment, and some flim-flam about “being Christian,” while never explaining that “being pleasant” is hardly an indicator of Holiness (after all, St. Jerome was something of a curmudgeon!)

If this is not their motive, why not hold this performance in a parish hall, gymnasium, or basement?  When I attended a talk sponsored by The Station of the Cross by Dr. Ray Guarendi at St Salome, Our Lord was reserved elsewhere so as to not be disrespectful…and that was a Catholic talk by a Catholic speaker, rather than a performance of a well-known secular show.

As long as the Church is treated like some performance hall, Catholics will fail to see it as a place set apart, the domus Dei, and they will keep showing up to Mass immodestly and improperly dressed like ragamuffins and floozies, chewing gum and generally acting as though they are at a high school play.  One needs only to look at Our Lady of Victory downtown to see the difference from their parish churches full of old women bustling through the sanctuary with guitars and tambourines.  If the parishioners fail to see the Church as the House of God, they will fail to act accordingly, fail to believe accordingly, and disappear to some “more exciting pastures.”  After all, services at The Father’s House sure are a more entertaining performance…just ask the hundreds of lapsed Catholics who attend.

More Obfuscation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

August 9th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

We’ve seen this before.  We’ve seen it at St. Monica, St Mary Downtown, and at countless other parishes.  A large poster at Camp Stella Maris shows Fr. Brian Cool doing the same thing, a practice he even uses at the University of Rochester with young adults during some Daily Masses.  Now, it seems, Our Lady of Peace in Geneva has joined in on this racket–inviting children to stand around the Altar during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Now, it is noteworthy that this picture comes from 1st Communion at the Spanish Mass–this illicit practice (and use of children to promote a heterodox liturgical and theological agenda) is not simply contained within the old, white subset of the population.  The hand-colored altar linen and the blurring of the lines between the priest and the first-time communicant both indicate a mindset that goes like this:

1) The Mass is fundamentally a communal meal.
2) The closer you are to the table, and the more involved in the actions involved in “preparing” that meal you are, the more it will mean to you. (This is the next illogical step from the one that states, “active, conscious participation means talking and doing things, rather than kneeling and praying.”)
3) This Mass, the focus is fundamentally on these four girls.
4) If children create something, even if its senseless, tasteless, and inappropriate, we should definitely utilize it at Mass. (Similarly with hand-drawn stoles made of cloth and magic marker)
5) Quiet reverence bores children.  They will be far more engaged if they can get up and do things.

This fifth point is especially incorrect.  Young people by the thousands at the National Catholic Youth Conference were reverently praying during Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, then kneeling in the streets of Kansas City for a Eucharistic Procession–and loved it!

When, from the first time they receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, children are taught that it’s snack time, THEY WILL FALL AWAY.  They can have snack time at home while watching football.  The only way to encourage a holy, Catholic Faith is to teach the TRUTH: That the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  It is GOD.  Not a symbol, not a reenactment play of the Last Supper, not communal snack time.  It is a re-presentation of Calvary, where Our Lord was brutally, painfully murdered, caked in blood and dirt for me, for you, and for each and every one of us wretched sinners.  Until children are taught that you need to be ready to receive Our Lord each and every time you do so both physically (by, for instance, fasting) and spiritually (be in a state of Grace), they will not be transfixed by the incredibly awe-inspiring moment of consecration.  Instead, they will find Mass boring, and fall away from the Church.  Bad Catechesis is the leading cause of atheism, conversion to protestantism, and agnosticism.  When the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is used for improper Catechesis, the effects are clear.  This is precisely why Mass attendance in the Diocese of Rochester is at 23% and falling, whereas Mass attendance in the much more liturgically orthodox Diocese of Lincoln, NE is over 62%.  A blessed Day 340 to all!

Laypeople cannot generally confer blessings

May 31st, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

While Fr. Tomasso sat idly, watching EMHC’s distribute Holy Communion in Geneva, I had the misfortune of attending Mass at St Michael in Penn Yan, wherein, next to Fr. Tunnicliff, a female EMHC proceeded to pretend to bless the children who were too young to receive Holy Communion.

She signed their foreheads with the sign of the cross, muttering some words of blessing.  The problem?  She cannot confer blessings on children who are not her own, and certainly cannot give a blessing in the manner of a priest during the Mass!  This is an absolutely atrocious blurring of the lines of the ministerial priesthood. Because of this action, these parents and/or children incorrectly believe they received some sort of blessing.  Sorry folks, but the same thing happened there as happens whenever Mary Ramerman speaks the words of consecration: absolutely nothing.

If you still receive from EMHC’s, please note that they cannot confer blessings on you or your children who are not receiving the Eucharist.  (In fact, I argue that even priests should not be doing this  at the time of communion.  Instead, people ought to make a Spiritual Communion, as the faithful receive a blessing at the end of Mass, “May almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost Amen.”)  If you see this happening in your parish, please bring it up to your parish priest.  This leads to nothing but confusion, just as the appointment of  lay “Pastoral Administrators” and Communion services does.  (See here for an example of the latter)


Extraordinary? No!

May 31st, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

We’ve all seen or heard about the antics commonly present at Masses in the Diocese of Rochester centering around the distribution of communion (such as attempting to forbid reception kneeling or on the tongue, or the incredible overuse of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, failure to perform the ablutions, a layperson taking responsibility for the reservation of the Eucharist in the Tabernacle instead of the priest….and so on)

A friend alerted me to an occurrence at Our Lady of Peace in Geneva this Sunday, which I had previously noticed a few months back.  After distributing Holy Communion to the EMHCs this Sunday, Fr. Paul Tomasso proceeded to…sit down in his chair, rather than distribute Communion to the faithful, instead choosing to allow the six EMHC’s to do the job themselves.  In addition to being utterly despicable in its laziness, and wholly unpastoral, it violates the GIRM and Redemptionis Sacramentum!

Redemptionis Sacramentum states:

[156.] This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist”, by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened. (Our Lady of Peace calls them, on their website, “Communion Minister”)

[157.] If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons.[258] (REPROBATED!)

[158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged.[259] This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.

Meanwhile, the GIRM notes:

GIRM 162. The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, e.g., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.

Note here that the office of acolyte is reserved to men alone.  How many parishes have even tried to use instituted acolytes, the “ordinary” extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion?  It is only due to a distinctly feminist agenda that we see so many female EMHC’s.  It is certainly not the will of Holy Mother Church.

In any case, it seems clear that Fr. Tomasso’s occasional practice is egregiously wrong.

Alleluia, He is Risen!

April 23rd, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Ressurexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia!

A Joyous and Blessed Easter to all!

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia:

Quia quem meruisti portare. alleluia,

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Van Lieshout to Our Lady of Peace

April 19th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

After Our Lady of Peace in Geneva was blessed with a stellar seminarian this year in Peter Mottola, Fr. Tomasso has announced that Peter Van Lieshout will be doing his pastoral year at Our Lady of Peace next year as well.

St. Stephen Church, one of the ‘worship sites’ within the Our Lady of Peace parish, features one of the only perpetual adoration chapels in the Diocese of Rochester.  It seems that the prayers of this long suffering parish are being answered.  (For a snapshot, in the late 1990’s, St. Stephen featured a two-dozen member ‘liturgical dance’ troupe and regular homilies by a laywoman.)

This promises to be a great blessing to the people of Geneva, a town which in 1979 boasted 767 students in its Catholic Schools, while Waterloo and Seneca Falls (both of whom faced school closures recently) boasted 499.   Today, the total number of Catholic School students between Geneva, Waterloo, and Seneca Falls is a mere 224.  For those of you keeping score at home, the Catholic School attendees have dropped by over 1000 in the past 30 years in these three small towns alone.

Please, this Holy Week, pray for both Peter Mottola and Peter Van Lieshout, as well as all seminarians and discerners.

The Cross Stands while the NCR Whines

April 11th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Remember this post last week about the wonderful pastoral letter by Bishop Sheehan on Cohabitation?  Suppose I told you that the NCR (Non-Catholic Reporter) would whine and moan about it, would you believe me?  Notice how she attacks the Church, misrepresents Our Lord, ignores important aspects of the Faith, and of course, tries to use half-truths and feelings to convince others that she is right and that the Church is wrong.  Below is an article from the NCR today that complains about Bishop Sheehan’s letter, with my emphasis and [commentary] .  Of course, the NCR is most proudly displayed at Beckett Hall, home of our Diocesan discerners.  This scandal-inducing rag is what the Diocese likes to use for its news and views.  Surprise, Surprise.  Please, if you see fit, write Fr. Coffas at Beckett Hall and ask that this trash be removed from the discernment house.  Without further ado,

Archbishop Sheehan: How to lose Catholics and alienate people

by Jamie L Manson on Apr. 11, 2011

One of my earliest memories of church is watching my mother being forced to abstain from the Eucharist during my First Holy Communion. The scene is still vivid for me.  [Do you see what’s coming?  She’s going to appeal to feelings instead of the Truth.]

I sat in the third pew, squirming in the frilly, miniature bridal gown and veil that we were required [the priest is a dictator!] to wear. When I returned from my first taste of the host and sacramental wine, I turned around to watch my family receive communion. [Rather than praying or giving thanks…]

I saw my mother kneeling alone in a pew, looking at turns sad and embarrassed. [Fr. Mean Jerk hurt her feelings…] The pews around her had been vacated by Catholics worthy of receiving communion. My mother kneeled in that empty pew. She was the only parent of a new communicant who didn’t receive Eucharist that day. [“She wasn’t part of the Community! She was excluded! Jesus didn’t exclude!  Anyhow, mom is a good person!” Watch as she gives these same, tired, nonsensical half-truths]

I wasn’t surprised [So, she did this every week for years? And every week she was sad and embarassed, and did not get to receive the Blessed Sacrament…and didn’t do anything about it?  Watch what happens next.] to see my mother there. Five years earlier, she divorced my father. Two years after that she remarried. Not having the several thousand dollars [Read: Fr. Mean Jerk doesn’t care about the poor.] she was told the annulment process would cost, her second marriage took place with a justice of the peace.  [She was willing to ignore the counsel given her before her invalid marriage, and despite being told she was doing something gravely wrong, did it anyway.  Non Serviam!] When I was in sacramental preparation, my mother met with the pastor of our Long Island parish to ask if she could receive communion at my ceremony.

“Absolutely not,” he immediately replied, “you are excommunicated.” [She has options: 1) seek an annulment and valid marriage now, years later, after saving up some money or asking for monetary help.  2) Go to confession and live as brother and sister with her pseudo-husband until this is resolved  She does not want to accept the possibility that she may be wrong, nor does she want to actually accept the consequences for her actions.]

My formal introduction to Holy Communion was defined by this image of my mother’s excommunication. Sometimes I wonder whether this moment didn’t give birth to my vocation as an outspoken, progressive Catholic. [Sorry, nobody is called to dissent from the doctrines of the Church.]

Reading Archbishop Michael Sheehan’s recent letter of admonishment [Not “pastoral teaching”]to divorcees and cohabitating couples immediately brought me back to that pew. Sheehan, who is the archbishop of Santa Fe, offers a lamentation on “three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel teaching on marriage: those who cohabit; those who have a merely civil union with no previous marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before.”

If you belong to any of these groups, Sheehan would like to remind you that you are in “great spiritual danger.” [The Church teaches that they are.] And, as a result, you “are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion.” You should also abstain from being a Eucharistic minister and from taking on the role of godparent. When it comes to your participating in other parish activities or organizations, the pastor should be consulted for a final judgment.

But, Sheehan counsels, “Prudence is needed, avoiding all occasions of scandal.” [Watch while she twists His Excellency’s meaning]

Throughout Sheehan’s letter, the archbishop appeals to the “teachings of the gospels” to support his enforcement of the church’s teachings on marriage and divorce. In fact, there is only one passage in one of the gospels on marriage, in Matthew 19: 1-12. [This is a blatant lie. Mark 10: 2-12, Matthew 5: 31-32, and Luke 16:18 all speak of divorce/marriage.  So does the story of the Woman at the Well in John.  Lies, lies, and more lies.] Sadly, the rest of Jesus’ teachings in the four gospels seem lost on Sheehan. [Note how she is essentially lamenting that +Sheehan is not ignoring the DIRECT WORDS OF CHRIST]

If Jesus believed that anyone he met was in “great spiritual danger,” the first thing he would do would be to invite that person to his table. Jesus would want to learn the individual’s story. Jesus would invite that person into community and remind her that she is God’s beloved. Jesus also might have called the religious authorities hypocrites, as he does in Matthew 23:13, 28, for “locking people out of the kingdom of heaven” and for being like “white washed tombs . . . full of hypocrisy and lawlessness inside.” [Matthew 23:28 says, “So you also outwardly indeed appear to men just; but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”  Just saying.]

For five years after my communion, my mother continued to abstain from the Eucharist. Around the time that I was preparing for Confirmation, a group of Franciscans came to our parish to offer a mission week. By this time, she had divorced her second husband (on grounds that would have quickly earned her an annulment, if she had applied for one). [She’s not too good at this marriage thing]

Something about the Franciscans’ message resonated with my mother, so she made her confession to one of their priests. She explained to the priest the reasons why she didn’t take communion, but expressed her desire to be able to receive at my confirmation Mass. The priest listened to her story. And he strongly encouraged her to start receiving the Eucharist again. [Now that she was not objectively in a state of mortal sin and had made a good confession.  She could have done this 5 years before]

This priest understood that the table of the Eucharist was established by Jesus and, ultimately, belongs to God alone, not to any human being or institution. [Or, alternatively, she was RECONCILED WITH THE CHURCH!]

Years later my mother and I moved to a new parish. They put out a call for Eucharistic ministers. My mother was eager to serve, but feared that the pastor would ban once he learned of her divorces. To my mother’s joy, the pastor welcomed her. [Again, there is nothing inherently sinful about a failed marriage, it is the invalid 2nd “marriages”, and adulterous relationships that are a problem!  Her circumstance, post-confession, is very very different.  She is no longer publicly guilty of scandalous behavior!]

The years that she has served as a Eucharistic minister have been the most meaningful time that she ever spent in church. She is honored to be able to offer Jesus to others, and always tears up whenever she looks into the eyes of those who came to her to receive communion. [Point?  Watch while she explains her mother’s qualifications to be an EMHC next.  This is rich in silliness, and bereft of use.]

There are few people more able to offer the broken body of Jesus to a hungry people than those who themselves who have been broken by loss, abusive relationships, or shattered love. [Yes, she is called to use her experiences and circumstances to spread the Gospel, and to promote the Church.  Yes, she can preach Christ crucified, and the healing power of the Resurrection.  Yes, she should probably speak to couples in pre-cana about what NOT to do.  That does not mean she’s uniquely qualified to be an EMHC.  That’s just stupid.] It’s hard to imagine a better image of the resurrected Jesus than a wounded human being offering the bread of life to another vulnerable human being. [A priest, apparently, does not qualify as “another vulnerable human being.”]

Sheehan’s letter leaves no place for God’s grace to work in this way within the institutional church. [As opposed to the non-institutional, SBNR Church.] The sacraments are meant to work in people’s lives to deepen our communion with God and others, to heal wounds, and to offer meaning and consolation. They are not a prize awarded only to those who follow doctrine and church law to the letter. [Right.  Because nobody is sinless.  In fact, the Sacraments of Confession, Baptism, and Extreme Unction remit sin.  One can, with venial sins on his soul, receive the other Sacraments.  That does not dismiss the sin of sacrilege, however, which is committed when one receives the Blessed Sacrament in a state of mortal sin.  I’m sorry to inform you that HELL EXISTS, and SIN EXISTS, and that’s the ENTIRE REASON that Our Lord was made incarnate and eventually was nailed to a tree.  If there is no Hell from which to save us, what need have we for a savior?]

Few cohabitating Catholics will endure processes like annulment or change their living arrangements in order to be welcomed back into church and its sacraments. [Which is a problem!] The institutional Church simply does not hold this kind of power over the lives of Catholics anymore. [Why not? Because they don’t believe in sin, and don’t believe that they could go to Hell, and don’t believe the power of the Sacraments, AND, in many cases, do not believe in God Himself.  See why this is BAD?]

Words like Sheehan’s only create feelings of judgment and shame and, therefore, only further sever a Catholic’s ties to the institution. [Their sins do not cut them off from God, but only the big, evil institution?] Once again, the hierarchy fails to understand that it has a far better chance of communicating the teachings of Jesus and the meaning and power of the sacraments [“The actions of the Church are against the will of God Himself.”]by welcoming Catholics into the church as ministers or godparents, regardless of their married state and living situation. [Read: Pretend that there is no consequence for sin, and people will be much happier]

There is little doubt that Sheehan’s reassertion of the church’s doctrine of marriage is one small prelude to the Catholic institution’s forthcoming symphony of anti-gay marriage movements, [It’s all political to these people.  Jesus would have supported people living sinfully, see.  He’d have told them to keep on keepin’ on, and not to change their behavior.  Except, you know, He didn’t.  He called sinners to repent.] composed, no doubt, to coincide with the 2012 elections. The hierarchy’s deepening involvement in politics is symptomatic of religious leadership scrambling for power in reaction to a loss of influence and moral authority over its flock. [Would it not be easier to have power and popularity if one ignored the Truth, and just taught Moralistic Therapeutic Deism that changed with the culture?  Notice: those teachings with which she agrees, she supports as truly Christian.  Those with which she disagrees are power plays by big meanies. Instead of conforming her life to the Gospel, she is conforming the Gospel to her life.]

How tragic that the church is willing to cut off so many of its faithful [Uh, They cut themselves off by being UNFAITHFUL] from the sacraments in order achieve the conformity it needs to achieve its political goals. How many more eight-year-olds [“You’re hurting kids!] will not have their parents join them the first time they approach Jesus’ table?

Though Sheehan delivered this letter in the middle of Lent, he signs it, “Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord.” For reasons far deeper than the liturgical calendar, it might have been more apt to have signed it “yours in the crucified Lord.” [She thinks she’s clever…but fails to see the actual truth in her statement.  John 12:24-25 states, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.”  Christ must first die to rise again.  She seems to think that one can be taken in a vacuum without the other.]

For in his words and actions, he has only further fractured the body of Christ. [No.  Sin fractures the Body of Christ.  Pride fractures the Body of Christ.  The Obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth of the faith (“heresy”) fractures the Body of Christ.  Jesus Christ is the Truth.  The Truth does not fracture itself.]


Just Clowning Around

April 8th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Such that everyone is aware, I call your attention to something that is again happening at Peace of Christ parish, the first performance of which is one week from today.

Passion Mime

The Passion Mime is a prayerful dramatization of the Passion of Jesus Christ performed by eighth graders and alumnus (sic) of Siena Catholic Academy. This moving portrayal of the events leading up to, and including, the crucifixion of Christ is done through Mime and Music via Narration. The Passion Mime Presentations will be Fri., April 15 at noon, Tuesday, April 19 and Good Friday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m. We truly hope that you will make the Passion Mime apart of your Lenten Journey.

Rich posted about this the past three years, here, here, and here.

Jesus Christ, Superman?

This occurs, once again, despite heavy criticism in years past.  Of course, this has been vehemently defended by Fr. Brian Carpenter, and obviously allowed by Fr. Bob Schrader, pastor of the parish.

Some issues:

1) The sanctuary is used as a performance stage.  Fr. Carpenter insists that it is not fundamentally a performance, but a prayer.  Clearly, miming in a Superman t-shirt and suspenders does not fit into the tradition of Catholic prayer.

2) The music used comes from Godspell and Jesus Christ, Superstar.  This is not sacred music, nor is it appropriate music to ever be played within the church proper, let alone as accompaniment to a mime performance in the sanctuary.

3) The use of mime in general is an unacceptable means by which to present the passion.  Mime is, by definition, “an ancient dramatic entertainment representing scenes from life usually in a ridiculous manner” Instead, why not do something whose origin is not farce, such as living stations of the cross.  This is something that could at least be considered “prayer.”

4) The use of children, who do not know better, is disheartening.  I personally know some previous passion mimers, and can tell you that their understanding of the faith is astonishingly limited.  Telling them that this sort of cockamamie absurdity will help them grow in the Catholic faith is hogwash.

Now, to head off the complaints that will surely come in:

1) No, I am not blaming the children.  This, much like previous posts about children hanging around the sanctuary, is really about the adults.  They’re using kids to push their agenda.

2) This is not a prayer.  Don’t even bother claiming that it is.

3) I don’t care if sixty-six children are involved in this.  Might does not make right.

4) Don’t bother telling me I just haven’t experienced it, so I shouldn’t comment until I have.  I also haven’t experienced jumping over Niagara Falls in a barrel, nor do I intend to do so, but I will still tell you that it ought not be done.

Who came up with this?

5) Don’t bother explaining that Fr. Shrader has competent authority here.  Just because it is not explicitly stated that a passion mime in the sanctuary of a Catholic Church is unacceptable does not make it acceptable.  As head of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger got the nickname “Cardinal No,” since so many people wrote into him, asking “Cardinal Ratzinger, can we do this?” And, almost invariably, when presented with something goofy, he responded, “No.”  I can picture his facial expression upon seeing something like this in the sanctuary.  It’s probably much like his facial expression  upon being presented with shirtless acrobats.

As always, if we had bothered with Catechesis these past 4 decades, and had a sense of sacred space (non-wreckovated), and taught children actual prayers, we would not be resorting to this silliness.

Pastoral Letter on Cohabitation

April 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan, has issued a surprisingly excellent Pastoral Letter on Cohabitation. +Sheehan firmly believes that teaching, rather than sanctions, are the best possible approach to converting dissident Catholics.  Thus, he has argued vehemently against denying Communion to pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians.  Furthermore, in 2009, he noted, “I think we don’t want to isolate ourselves from the rest of America by our strong views on abortion and the other things. We need to be building bridges, not burning them.”  While he may have a point, it certainly has not gotten across to former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who remains pro-abortion. In fact, as one of the Bernadin-style Bishops, he’s a member of an informal club that has no record of ever defending unborn human life.  Thus, I am somewhat surprised to see such an excellent pastoral letter on cohabitation.

The letter follows, emphasis and [commentary] mine.

April 3, 2011

Pastoral Care of Couples Who are Cohabitating

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are all painfully aware that there are many Catholics today who are living in cohabitation.  The Church must make it clear to the faithful that these unions are not in accord with the Gospel,and to help Catholics who find themselves in these situations to do whatever they must do to make their lives pleasing to God.

First of all, we ourselves must be firmly rooted in the Gospel teaching that, when it comes to sexual union, there are only two lifestyles acceptable to Jesus Christ for His disciples: a single life of chastity, or the union of man and woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony. There is no “third way” possible for a Christian.  The Bible and the Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and opposes same sex unions. [If all Bishops spoke this courageously, would a large percentage of Catholics support homosexual so-called marriage? I doubt it.]

We have three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel [!!!!] teaching on marriage: those who cohabit; those who have a merely civil union with no previous marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before. These people are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. [I hate to be the voice of reason here, but…aren’t you “isolating {yourself} from the rest of America” by saying this?  Would that His Excellency would speak about all objectively mortally sinful behavior in such a fashion.] They are in great spiritual danger. At the best – and this is, sadly, often the case – they are ignorant of God’s plan for man and woman. At the worst, they are contemptuous of God’s commandments and His sacraments.

Of these three groups, the first two have no real excuse. They should marry in the Church or separate. Often their plea is that they “cannot afford a church wedding” i.e. the external trappings, or that “what difference does a piece of paper make?” – as if a sacramental covenant is nothing more than a piece of paper! [AMEN!] Such statements show religious ignorance, or a lack of faith and awareness of the evil of sin.
The third group, those who were married before and married again outside the Church, can seek a marriage annulment and have their marriage blest in the Church.  Please remember that divorce still is no reason to refrain from Holy Communion as long as they have not entered into another marriage or sinful relationship.  Many Catholics are confused on this point.

Christ our Lord loves all these people and wishes to save them – not by ignoring their sin, or calling evil good, but by repentance and helping them to change their lives in accordance with His teaching. We, as His Church, must do the same. In accord with this, I would remind you of the following:
1. People in the above three situations cannot receive the Sacraments, with the important exception of those who agree to live chastely (“as brother and sister”) until their situation is regularized. Of course, those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant.

2. These people may not be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, [How many EMHC’s around here would be decomissioned for this reason? I know of a large number in my home parish.] not only because of scandal, but even more because one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a Sacrament in the state of mortal sin.

3. Nor are such people to be admitted to the role of sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation, as is clearly stated on the Archdiocesan Affidavit for a Sponsor. It is critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic – and can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not able to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?

4. When it comes to other parish ministries and organizations, I feel it best to leave these situations to the judgment of the pastor.  Prudence is needed, avoiding all occasions of scandal. We must see their involvement in the parish as an opportunity to work urgently to bring such people to repentance and the regularization of their lifestyle.

5. Many of these sins are committed out of ignorance. I ask that our pastors preach on thegravity of sin and its evil consequences, the 6th and 9th Commandments  of God, and the sacramental nature and meaning of Christian marriage. Our catechetical programs in our parishes – children, youth, and adult – must clearly and repeatedly teach these truths. A Church wedding does not require some lavish spectacle and entertainment costing vast sums of money (Indeed, how often we have seen the most costly weddings end in divorce in but a few months or years!). While beauty and joy should surround a Christian
wedding, we must remind everyone that it is a sacrament, not a show.

6. Those who are married outside the Church because of a previous union are urged to seek an annulment through our Marriage Tribunal.  If it can be found that the first marriage lacked some essential quality for a valid marriage, the Tribunal can grant an annulment. Your pastor can help someone start a marriage case for this purpose. It is important for such couples to continue to pray and get to Mass even though they may not receive Communion, until their marriage can be blest in the Church.

Our popular American culture is often in conflict with the teachings of Jesus and His Church.  I urge especially young people to not cohabitate which is sinful, but to marry in the Church and prepare well for it. I congratulate and thank those thousands of Catholic married couples who role model the Sacrament of Marriage according to the teachings of Jesus and his Church.

Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,
Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan
Archbishop of Santa Fe
Would that Bishop Hubbard would man up and speak so clearly to scandalously cohabitating Governor Andrew Cuomo, to whom he gladly gave Communion.

Spiritus gets “whisper”ed, article in Cleveland Newspaper

April 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Here I sat, ready to commence Part IV of a continuing series on the New Translation, briefly checking a few of my daily blog reads when I saw that Rocco Palmo, author of Whispers in the Loggia, a Vatican rumors blog, tweeted

Albeit in schism, “independent” Rochester parish said to be “flourishing”:  “

First off, I question the choice to encourage this sort of thing without a disclaimer.  The wording of the tweet conveys a certain view…that it’s no less a parish, simply because it’s in schism, or perhaps that, if they’re flourishing, there’s something to emulate.  Rocco could have construed this in a vastly different manner.  Instead, he seems to be encouraging it.  Perhaps I’m reading too far into a tweet, but you can make your own judgement. The article referenced follows, with my commentary and emphasis

Breakaway Catholic flock flourishing in New York

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — At Spiritus Christi Church, the choir at Saturday night Mass sings the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun” — a song about a brothel. [Fitting, no?  After all, the concept of sexual morality is nonexistent at Spiritus.]
Surely, such a tune for a sacred service would never meet the approval of the Rochester Roman Catholic Diocese. [Don’t give them any ideas.]  In any case, it has nothing to do with the Diocese.  In 1903, Pope St Pius X wrote: “Still, since modern music has risen mainly to serve profane uses, care must be taken that musical compositions in this style admitted to the Church may contain nothing profane, be free from reminiscences of theatrical motives, and be not fashioned, even in their external forms, after the manner of profane pieces.” ]
Then again, nothing about Spiritus Christi meets the diocese’s approval. [Here we go again.  Let’s recall how Bishop Clark did NOTHING to stop the abuses when they started, and it took a Vatican intervention for something to be done.]
Spiritus Christi, like the Community of St. Peter in Cleveland, is a breakaway Catholic parish at odds with its bishop. [No, it is not Catholic in any way, and they are at odds with more than just the local Bishop.  They are at odds with the one Church Christ founded, and at odds with Him.]
The Rev. James Callan, 63, now assistant pastor of Spiritus Christi, has been fired from the Rochester diocese and excommunicated from the Roman rite. [Fired!  He excommunicated himself, and was told to stop before he was “FIRED”]
The Rev. Robert Marrone, 63, of St. Peter’s is awaiting “canonical action” after refusing Bishop Richard Lennon’s order in January to resign from his breakaway flock. [Incidentally, this arose due to inaction by another of Jadot’s Boys, Bishop Pilla]
Marrone and his parishioners began worshipping in a leased commercial building last August, four months after Lennon closed their church in downtown Cleveland as part of the diocese’s downsizing. [And, folks, this is why Corpus Christi/Our Lady of the Americas has remained open.  Imagine the PR nightmare if Fr. Callan was allowed to “win.”]
Callan and his followers rented space in a Protestant church 12 years ago after locking horns with the diocese over church teachings.
Some might say Spiritus Christi is not a real Catholic church [ding ding ding] because its pastor is a woman, it blesses gay unions and serves communion to anyone, regardless of their faith — three big sins in the eyes of the Holy See. [And, more importantly, God]
But don’t tell this rebel congregation it’s not real. [See what he did here?  ‘Not Catholic’ got turned into ‘Not Real’] According to Callan, it is the largest [not] Catholic church within Rochester’s city limits, with 1,500 members, 33 full- and part-time employees and an annual operating budget of $1.7 million.
“This is history in the making,” said parishioner Cindy McClurg, 53, attending a recent Sunday Mass in a packed, 880-seat concert hall downtown. “We’re still a Catholic-faith-based church. [A what, exactly?] People say, ‘You’re not going to make it.’ But we are making it. And we’ve been making it for 12 years.” [I’m sorry, but twelve years isn’t even the blink of an eye in the course of salvation history]
McClurg and hundreds of people filling the concert hall had been members of Rochester’s Corpus Christi Catholic Church, where Callan had been the pastor for more than 20 years.
In 1998, the year Callan was fired[!!!] by his bishop, Corpus Christi had nearly 3,000 parishioners, eight social service ministries, 70 employees and a $2.5 million annual budget. [Is this what really matters? A parish is not a business.]
But Callan had been raising eyebrows in the diocese for years. Beginning in 1988, he allowed a woman lay leader of the church — who today serves as its pastor — to stand with him at the altar and recite prayers only a priest is allowed to say. [It took over a DECADE for Bishop Clark to take action. ELEVEN YEARS!]
In 1993[a full 5 years before Clark was forced to take action…], he started performing marriage services for gays. Even before that, he had strayed from church teachings by inviting everyone in the pews to take communion, even non-Catholics.
“Everyone is welcome at God’s table,” he said. [This attitude removes the need for holiness.  The story of the rich young ruler shows that there are preconditions…]
But the diocese disagreed [notice how this is cast as a battle between the big bad diocese and the poor, well-meaning priest?] and ordered Callan to stop his “liturgical abuses” or face dismissal from Corpus Christi.
“I told them, ‘I’m not going to betray all those people I’ve stood with for years,’ ” said Callan. He was fired in August 1998. Callan says the diocese, which declined to discuss Callan and Spiritus Christi, took away his salary and health care but promised him he would get his pension when he retires. [These things normally happen when someone loses his job for insubordination after repeated warnings…]
Six months later — after Callan and 1,100 Corpus Christi members had broken away from the diocese, renamed their community Spiritus Christi and leased worship space in a historical Presbyterian church — he was excommunicated.
A front-page story in the city’s newspaper, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, quoted the diocese chancellor, the Rev. Kevin McKenna, saying, “By starting this new church, Father Callan is in schism . . . he has excommunicated himself from the Roman Catholic Church.”
The diocese said all his followers had excommunicated themselves as well.
But Callan said neither the diocese nor the Vatican presented the defectors with official excommunication documents. [Canon 1364 states, …an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication” latae sententiae penalty follows automatically, by force of the law itself, when the law is contravened.]
“The church says a person excommunicates himself,” said Callan. “That’s nonsense. That’s like driving through a stop sign and giving myself a ticket.”[Excommunication is a spiritual exclusion; the person excommunicated is not longer a Catholic and no longer receives any spiritual benefits from the prayers of the Church, especially the Mass.  You cut yourself off from God.  Nobody else can cut you off from Him.]
In an e-mail message responding to a request for an interview, a spokesman for the diocese said, “We are not in communion with Spiritus Christi Church and do not wish to comment.” [seems to have gotten it backwards…]
But interviews with Spiritus Christi members show the congregation is generally undaunted about its mass excommunication. Most shrug. Others call it a badge of honor. [Let us pray for them, shall we?]
“If we have the power to excommunicate ourselves, we certainly have the power to un-excommunicate ourselves,” said Sister Margie Henninger, 70, a St. Joseph nun who was ousted from her order for following the rebels. [Yes, this is true.  You can certainly come back to God by way of a good confession.]
Parishioner Margaret Wittman, 82, said, “God doesn’t excommunicate. The church excommunicates. The pope excommunicates. But God draws a bigger circle and keeps us in.” [Except when He punishes sin.  Adam and Eve disobeyed, and God’s ‘bigger circle’ involved kicking them out of paradise, allowing them to suffer and die, and the souls of their progeny were stained by their sin.  Bigger circle, indeed.]

The circle at Spiritus Christi includes Mary Ramerman, the woman who had joined Callan at the altar when she worked for the diocese as a lay minister at Corpus Christi. She had been a pastoral associate for 15 years until she was fired two months after Callan was let go. [Note here that Ramerman is the model for our female lay administrators, playing dress-up and pretending to serve a liturgical role.  We here at CF do not attack this unlawful role without just cause.]

“They said I could stay if I don’t go near the altar and I stop preaching,” said Ramerman. “They also told me I was a pastoral assistant, not a pastoral associate.

“By the time they fired me, I had already decided who I was, and I wasn’t going to let them shape me.” [Non Serviam! I will NOT serve! You can practically hear the prideful manner in which she emulates Lucifer, rather than Christ or his Blessed Mother.]

In November 2001, Ramerman, 55, who is married with three kids and holds a degree in theology, was [pretend] ordained by a bishop from California [a member of the 140 years schismatic “old catholics”]who administers outside the Roman rite. [And, more importantly, outside the Church.  The Maronite Patriach administers outside the Roman rite, but within the Church.  Catholicism is not just the Roman Rite of the Latin Church.] The [pretend] ordination ceremony was held in Rochester’s Eastman Theatre before 3,000 people.

The Rev. Ramerman, who committed a major “liturgical abuse” [actually, I’d call that an act of formal schism…] by being ordained in the Catholic faith, which forbids [is incapable of ordaining…]women priests, is now pastor of Spiritus Christi.

“They make a big deal out of liturgical abuses,” she said in a recent interview. “But not so much out of child abuses.” [zzzzzzing! Shall we have Red Herring for dinner?]

Callan, as assistant pastor, and Ramerman usually work together, saying Masses and performing baptisms, weddings and funerals. Callan still follows the traditions of the Catholic priesthood.

“I feel called to the celibate life,” he said.

But when he tried to buy a grave plot for himself in Holy Sepulcher [sic] Cemetery owned by the diocese, he was denied.

“I said, ‘What? I’m more dangerous dead than alive?’ ” he laughed.

Though Callan is not welcome into the gates of Holy Sepulcher [sic], his parishioners are.

“The diocese is making money on us,” said Callan, who buries about 40 people a year. “And they said that Mary and I led the people astray, so it’s not their fault.”

Callan said he bought a plot for himself at a city cemetery where Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer in women’s rights, and Frederick Douglass, an ex-slave and abolitionist, are buried. “I’ll be in good company there,” he said.

The funerals of Anthony (March 17, 1906) and Douglass (February 26, 1895) were held at Central Presbyterian Church, which is now Hochstein Memorial Music School, where Spiritus Christi holds one of its two Sunday Masses.

For other Masses — one every day — it uses nearby Downtown United Presbyterian Church and Immanuel Baptist Church.

“We’re roaming Catholics,” joked Callan, who, with Ramerman, drives every Sunday to a Spiritus Christi satellite church in Elmira, N.Y., 120 miles away, to celebrate Mass.

Callan holds no bitterness toward Rochester Bishop Mathew Clark. He said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict VI, wrote a letter to Clark in July 1998, demanding that the bishop remove Callan from Corpus Christi. [And, finally, the truth comes out….watch what happens]

“It was very hard on him when all this happened,” said Callan, who still sends Christmas cards to Clark. “He’s a good bishop. He knew what was going on. He didn’t support us verbally, but he kept a protective umbrella over us.” [Yes, Bishop Clark willfully ignored heresy and dissent, which led to schism.  Let’s make sure everybody knows that.]

That umbrella is no longer needed, now that Spiritus Christi stands on its own. The breakaway church owns and operates three houses in the city for social-service programs — sheltering and counseling recovering substance abusers and people getting out of prison.

It is also preparing to build a 39-unit apartment building with a mix of market-rate and low-income units. [Again, the Church is not supposed to be a business conglomerate…]

The project is scheduled for construction on an empty lot that was once the site of a polling place. Susan B. Anthony was arrested there for voting in the presidential election of 1872, 48 years before women won the right to vote. [See how they connected this? This is an issue of women’s rights, of gay rights, of civil rights…They’re modern day prophets! Pride, pride, pride.]

The building will include a street-level caf with a Susan B. Anthony theme.

“Our church is centered on the poor and the marginalized,” said Callan, noting that his congregation gives 15 percent of its collections to charities and social justice programs. “Jesus made the poor his priority.”

Spiritus Christi is 85 percent white, two-thirds [schismatic] Catholic and one-third other denominations and faiths. About half of the congregation lives in the city.

On a recent Sunday, the stage in the historical music hall was accented with flowers, candles and crucifixes around a portable altar.

Upstage, a 25-member choir, accompanied by piano, guitars, saxophone and drums, filled the house with rafter-ringing harmonies.

Callan addressed the multitude: “Take a deep breath. Breathe in the Holy Spirit. As you breathe out, drop your shoulders and your worries.”

During Communion, sax player Bill Tiberio wailed a solo, while singer Myra Brown wrapped up the Mass with a gooseflesh-raising gospel tune, hitting some Aretha Franklin-style crescendos.

The sanctuary had the feel of an African-American church [filled with 85 percent white people…] as the faithful swayed and clapped their hands, pushing aside traditional Catholic ritual.

When I leave here, I feel I’ve got something,” parishioner Clarence Cibella, 51, said after the service. “I feel good.” [If you don’t feel God’s presence, He’s not there?  That seems to be his point]

Parishioner Richard Kaza, 60, said, “There’s no guilt here. Everybody’s smiling. In the old church, I was taught about the fear of God. This is about the love of God.” [It is those who do not feat God that ought to fear Him the most…]

When Callan was excommunicated 12 years ago, he was quoted in The New York Times as saying he believed that within 10 to 12 years the church establishment will catch up with the ideas of Spiritus Christi and embrace them. [And in 10 more years, 100 more years, 1000 more years, he will still be wrong.]

Today, he laughs at that notion. “I guess I should have tacked on another 20 years when I said that.”

Thriving. Eighty-five percent white, smaller than 15 years ago, and not a single member mentioned in this article was under 50 years of age.  The youth are all FLOCKING to Spiritus, alright!  If you know someone who attends Spiritus Christi, PRAY FOR THEM.  God knows they need it!

And With Thy Spirit: The New Translation of the Roman Missal Part III

April 2nd, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Parts I and II.

For those who are unaware, when one looks at the missal, it contains two kinds of text: rubrics (stuff the priest does), which are red, and the actual words of the Mass (stuff the priest reads), which are in black.  (Hence Fr. Z’s famed “Say the Black-Do the Red”)  One reason so many liturgical abuses have cropped up over the years is the wording used in the rubrics of the 1973 translation of the Missal.  Often times, it improperly allows a bit of leeway around the wording, by saying something like “He may use these or similar words.”  What is similar? Where can a line be drawn? Can you say “friends” instead of “brethren”? Why not just say “everybody” or “y’all”?   You can see how quickly this turns into a circus.  The new translation’s rubrics do not do this.  They are very specific.  That same rubric in the new translation says, “Then follows the Penitential Act, to which the Priest invites the faithful, saying:”  No ambiguity there!

You will recall some of the complaints about this new translation: it’s not “good English,” or “it’s too confusing,” or “it doesn’t flow, it sounds like a translation!”  Allow me to say, I think it’s quite alright if a translation sounds like a translation. It is one!  We must always remember that we are the Latin Church, and we are praying the Roman Missal, not the English Missal.  Fundamentally, we are praying in a translation that must be unified with those other translations of the same text.  Priests, if you don’t like it, just use Latin!  Laity, if you don’t like it, ask your priest to use Latin!

One wonderful aspect of this new translation is the re-emphasis on chant.  Right along with each line in the missal will be the chant intonation.  An example of what this will look like appears here. I would expect that, as our priests become more familiar with this new, corrected translation, we will start to see a general shift in liturgical music.  Instead of Marty Haugen, David Haas, and other such composers of liturgical showtunes, ICEL and the USCCB have re-emphasized the importance of chant in the Church.  Just as we are not called the pray at Mass, but rather to pray the Mass, I believe that we will shift from singing at Mass, but rather singing the Mass.

Often times, people think they understand things they do not truly understand.  Since they understand each individual word used, they assume that they grasp the concept expressed by those words.  When big, scary words are used, many people become somewhat agitated.  (I will point this out as we go through the translation in a number of places.) Rather than using them as an opportunity to learn, some run away screaming with their fingers firmly placed in their ears.  Did I know what ineffable meant the first time I heard it? No, of course not!  Once I looked it up, I understood.  Approachable does not need to mean “dumbed down to a 4th grade level.”

Fr. Bausch griped about the new translation last year, saying:

“From my experience of 61 years of speaking the English language these phrases and words are not familiar to my ear in my daily conversation with people.  I assure you, I am not opposed to learning, but our Church’s liturgy is often accused of being out of touch or boring. Now we may further complicate the liturgy by using words and phrases that are not part of our common language.”

I would argue, rather, that one of the reasons people find Mass to be boring is that it IS boring to the uncatechized.  “Mass is boring, it needs to be more approachable” is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When the Holy Mass is just seen as another prayer service with boring music and uncomfortable seats, it’s BORING.  When the Holy Mass is treated as if it’s one big family meal, it seems like the food and dinner table conversation are both lacking. That’s BORING.  When we hear some warbly old alb-wearing nun singing Kumbayah, it IS boring.  I assure you, however, that when one understands the sacrificial and sacramental nature of the Mass, it is anything but boring.  When one hears turns of phrase that bring Bible stories to mind, he recalls those stories and puts himself in them.

Even my most liberal friends do not find chant boring, but rather calming and peaceful.  No one who has ever heard a Mozart Mass has ever found it “boring and out of touch.”  When a teen hears the “contemporary choir” (made up of sexagenarians) singing “contemporary worship music” that is 2 generations removed from being “contemporary,” he is very easily bored.  So, I am not surprised that people find the current translation and music of the Novus Ordo at most parishes to be boring and out of touch.  It is.  It’s bland and uninspiring, it challenges neither the intellect nor the heart.

In the end, we should look back to one of the greatest axioms of the early church: Lex Orandi, Lex Vivendi.  The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief.  That is to say, in essence that what we hear, and say, and pray DIRECTLY IMPACTS what we believe.  If one hears only of God’s mercy, and of heaven, and sunshine and butterflies, he often is blind to God’s justice.  Suddenly, after never hearing mention of sin or evil or the devil, people no longer believe in hell, no longer believe the father of lies exists, no longer believe in purgatory…and eventually, they no longer see a need for a redeemer.  If there is no hell from which to be saved, there is no need for a savior.  Just like that, Our Lord is relegated to the outskirts of our lives…perhaps simply as a model of being a “good person,” or a “nice guy.”  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

There’s a third aspect of that ancient axiom, though, perhaps the most important logical conclusion…in total, it is Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. The law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of life.  What we pray impacts what we believe, and what we believe impacts how we live.  Informal, limited prayer leads to a very limited faith, and we’ve seen the results–lapsed Catholics, closed parishes and schools, decreased confessions, and an incredibly profane society.  My sincerest prayer is that this new, corrected translation will be the first step to reversing this half-century long trend towards atheism.  Lofty goal? perhaps.  Unattainable? Absolutely not!  As Fr. Z. says, Save the Liturgy, Save the World!

So-Called Ecumenism at the Expense of Evangelization

March 31st, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

You’ve heard this story before…some arm of the Diocese of Rochester supporting other religions ahead of our own.

You heard it when Bishop Clark hosted an ecumenical prayer service in our cathedral in which the name of Christ was never mentioned.  You heard it when the diocese posted a video on youtube that seems to promote the idea that Judaism, Islam, and all forms of Christianity are essentially the same basic thing. You heard it when Fr. Callan over at Corpus Christi brought his congregation to a protestant service in lieu of Mass one Sunday.  You heard it when the youth at the 2008 Diocesan Youth Convention were sent to the Rochester Islamic Center to learn about and witness Muslim prayer.  You heard about it when Sr. Joan unearthed these “ecumenical” lenten plans.  You heard it when Fr Tanck had a Catholic-Sikh dialogue in which men wore their headdresses in a Catholic Church.  Yes, you’ve heard this story before.

Does it surprise you then, to see this article linked on Facebook by the Catholic Courier?  All the Courier page shows is the title: “Finding Faith.”  This would be a lovely thing to post, were it discussing a conversion story of an RIT student, or spoke of how to maintain a Catholic faith under the attack of a secular university.  It doesn’t do that.  It barely mentions Catholicism at all–the only reference to the Catholic Newman Community on campus is to note their fund-raising for the Special Olympics.  Instead, this article speaks of a “seven-year research study [which] showed that although students’ religious involvement declines during college, their spirituality grows. Students become more caring, more tolerant and more connected with others.” Now, I hate to be the voice of reason here, but REALLY?  The Diocesan newspaper is supporting the idea of SBNR?  I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble, dear reader, but “tolerance” is not one of the ten commandments.  Neither is a superficial connectedness.

It speaks of Muslim Ablutions, of the Jewish Hillel services (in which “many of the students are looking for a cultural experience more than a religious experience.”  Yes, they are indeed “Finding Faith.”)  It speaks of the booming Lutheran community (now ten members strong!) and other protestant “interdenominational” groups.  But never once does it speak of Catholicism in a meaningful way.  Not a single picture shows a Catholic Mass, nor anything remotely Catholic.  But, you know what?  Perhaps it’s better this way.  They might have shown RIT Newman Chaplain Fr. Hunt, who once “processed into mass behind the cross wearing the Mickey Mouse hat and a gold masquerade mask. Once the singing stopped, the first thing he did was blow a kazoo and say, ‘Happy Mardi Gras.'”  You can see his tie-dyed chasuble and the super-soaker he used for the Asperges.

You’ve heard this story before, folks.  As always, the Diocese does a better job promoting other religions than it does promoting the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.   Instead of preaching the truth (things like the “outside the Church, there is no salvation”), the Diocese and its employees find ways to promote syncretism and false ecumenism.  True ecumenism, rather, must be firmly rooted in the truth.  The point of ecumenism is not to produce wishy-washy theology that says “each religion is as good as the next,” but rather conversion.  Thanks, Catholic Courier.  This has been edifying.

And With Thy Spirit: The New Translation of the Roman Missal Part II

March 24th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Part I here

The Translation Process

After the releases of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal and Liturgiam Authenticam, a number of steps were taken to bring us a new, authentic, corrected translation of the Mass.  Blessed Pope John Paul II established the Vox Clara Committee (Clear Voice) to work with the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) in providing English translations of liturgical texts.  This, coupled with a new set of statutes for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) set forth the oversight for the translation project, which, in itself was long and arduous.

ICEL worked to translate, section by section, the Missale Romanum, which were then sent to each individual Conference of English-speaking Bishops, called “green books.”  The Bishops then would study the green books, ask for input from whomever they desired, add their suggestions and commentary, and then return the green books to ICEL.  There were a total of sixteen green books issued between 2004 and 2009.

After the green books, with their comments and suggestions, had been reviewed, a “gray book” was issued for each part and sent to the Bishops’ Conferences for an approval vote.   By the November 2009 USCCB plenary meeting, each part had been approved and sent back to the Vatican for final approval.  The final edition, called a “white book,” would then be issued by the Vatican.

It is clear to anyone who realizes the painstaking lengths taken in this translation process that there was ample time for anyone with an opinion to voice it, and for input to be sought.  This has not stopped rabble-rousers in certain circles from noisily complaining about every aspect of the new translation.

What if we just said, “Wait!”

Not least among these rabble-rousers is Fr. Michael Ryan, rector of the Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Seattle, who created the What if We Just Said Wait petition, and penned this article of the same title in the notoriously heterodox America Magazine.  Our own Dr K kept tabs on the signees of this petition from here in Rochester.  They included eighteen priests, over 20 religious sisters, and nearly 30 lay “ministers.”

The authors have this to say:

We are convinced that this approach will address the concerns of those many bishops who feel that they have lost their voice in this matter.

Fr. Ryan clearly fails to understand a basic point: being outvoted is not the same as “los[ing] their voice.  Every Bishop in every English-speaking country had time to review these texts, contribute to them, raise concerns, etc.  The fact of the matter remains, however, that the Church is Catholic, that is, universal.  We are not congregationalist protestants, and thus, any priest or bishop who feels the need to break with the universal Church clearly has his head where it does not belong.

Many a priest (and layperson) has complained that, even though the Bishops had a chance to say their piece, that opportunity was not granted to the rest of us.  To them, I ask: “Why should you be consulted?”  It is nothing if not prideful to claim that Fr. Vernacular or Pewsitter John has anything meaningful to contribute to a complex translational process.  How many of these complainers have a working knowledge of the original Latin?  At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I answer, “very few!”

This has not stopped dissenters like Fr. Bill Spilly, Fr. Joe Marcoux, Fr. Ed Palumbos, Msgr. William Shannon,  Barb Swieki, Fr. Robert Kennedy, Charlotte Bruney, and SSJ President Mary Louise Mitchell from loudly voicing their complaints.  Fr. Bausch and Fr. Spilly even spent bulletin articles complaining about it.

Bishop Trautman

Another major complainer in this ordeal is Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, PA.  Bishop Trautman led the charge against approval at the November 2009 plenary meetings, and in subsequent months.  I watched the November 2009 plenaries in their entirety, and can assure you that Bishop Trautman’s complaints reminded me of those often made by petulant children.  Even Club Jadot Archbishops Pilarczyk and Mahony essentially told Bishop Trautman to stop whining.  Trautman went on to pen an article in the notoriously heterodox US Catholic Magazine, entitled Lost in Translation. In this article, His Excellency complains that people will fail to understand such difficult concepts as “dewfall” or “incarnate.”  Apparently, Bishop Trautman thinks we are all idiots.

I can only speak for myself, but I contend that people ought to be able to master a new word here or there.  Perhaps in praying the Mass and finding their own knowledge lacking, ignorant pewfolk might perchance open up old Mr. Webster, and understand “incarnate: adjective; made manifest or comprehensible, embodied.”

Bishop Trautman, and those of his ilk, also like to argue that this will “roll back the reforms” of the Second Vatican Council.  As has often been stressed on these pages, Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, states:

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

54. (…) Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things

And…correctly translating the Latin is…against…the reforms of Vatican II?  I beg to differ!

Part III will be the last introductory chapter in this series.  It will explain a bit of the “meat and potatoes” of the new Missal translation.  Part IV will begin to look at the Missal itself.