Cleansing Fire

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For those of you who are asking, “A Personal Prela-What?”

September 16th, 2011, Promulgated by JBCatholic

(This is a summary from several sources and was the product of the enlightenment of my own ignorance on the subject.  So please feel free to comment and or correct!  Quotes taken from several sources that will be listed at the bottom of the post)

Found in the document “Presbyterorum ordinis“, a product of the Second Vatican Council, we find the origins of a Personal Prelature (PP).  The PP is comprised of a hierarchy (a prelate, priests, deacons and sometimes lay faithful) and is established to carry out a specific pastoral function for the Church.  The “Personal” refers to the jurisdiction of the SSPX would have.   Unlike a diocese, their jurisdiction is linked to persons as opposed to any particular territory.

The personal prelature is similar to a religious order, in that  “the prelate governs the prelature with ordinary power (that power given to those who hold a valid office and may execute Church law) and is selected according to the statutes of the prelature (can. 295), which could mean election by the members of the prelature or some other method.  Also, the clergy of the prelature are incardinated into the prelature itself as opposed to the local particular church (dioceses).”  For those of us unfamiliar with the term incardinated, it refers to the fact that no priest functions without a head, be that a bishop, superior or in this case a prelate.

Where the PP differs from a religious order is that they don’t take religious vows, they may have a different relationship to the local ordinary (i.e. they may be exempt from the laws and the governance of the particular church where they live and work, which might be good in the DoR), the prelature defines its own relationship with the laity dedicated to its mission and finally the prelate may be a bishop which generally doesn’t happen in religious order.

The personal prelature is also different from an ordinariate that, is technically a diocese of persons rather than being defined by a  geographical location.

An example of a personal prelatures in the Church is Opus Dei

The good news, in my view, is that we may soon be able to apply the above to the SSPX.

Sentire Cum Ecclesia,


Source 1, Source 2, Source 3 (For those academics among us, don’t judge me for using Wikipedia.)


(Edit: Pope Benedict XVI’s provision for the Anglicans is actually a personal ordinariate.)

Counter Courier

September 10th, 2011, Promulgated by JBCatholic

As many of you are well aware we await the coming of the new translation of the Roman Missal this coming Advent season.  This has prompted the Diocese of Rochester (DOR), which is to be expected, to issue several statements concerning the roll-out of the changes which are at hand.

While this  article from the Catholic Courier is a month old, I would like to begin a series of articles loosely titled “Counter Courier.”  In them, as you can well gather, I will examine a given article pointing out errors, and filling in data that might prove enriching to you the reader.

In the article listed at the bottom of this text, Mike Latona, the author, speaks about the efforts of Father Robert Kennedy (chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission) in preparing the priest of our diocese to implement the new translation. He begins, (all italics are my own)

“It might not seem that speaking from prepared text could be a daunting task. Yet when the words have been crafted to lead people toward deeper relationships with God, it’s crucial they be uttered with clarity and conviction rather than monotones and hesitations.”

Father Kennedy further questions the priests,

How can I (we) pray this with some kind of meaning?”

And goes on saying,

“(The) priests’ responsibilities will go beyond simply reciting words while leading their congregations in prayer.” And, “My concern when we do this all new is (that) we’re going to sort of be glued to the page. But what we do at liturgy is more than just reading liturgy.”

What then are we to gather the priests’ role or responsibilities are within the context of the Mass?  Is their chief purpose to inspire the laity who has gathered for Mass?  Or perhaps to sell the prayers with conviction?  Or maybe his job is to convince God that they really mean the prayers they pray?  With all candor, the sentiments conveyed in the above quote are not done (more than likely) out of malice or ill will, but rather, from a desire to instill in the faithful belief in the prayers and to convey in the hearts and mind of the gathered community a deep love for God.

However, we must ask, is this really the point of the prayers, or for that matter of the Mass? The answer is simple, “No.”  Priests fill both an awesome yet simple role, to be an alter Christus, another Christ. It is within this role that the personality of the individual must be absorbed into the person-hood of Christ.  It should not matter where you go to Mass, or who the priest is, the Mass and the prayers are the same.

The message from Fr. Kennedy seems quite different.  The personality of the priest and the personal touches he will add to the prayers is what, “give(s) it some kind of meaning.”

I have posted two different pictures just to make a visual of a point I’d like to make.

In the first we see a priest offering an Extra Ordinary form Mass in a fiddleback style chasuble.  In the traditional rite, each priest while receiving their training in seminary was taught very precise gestures and how to perform them.  For the most part the lay faithful present at the Mass, except those who view the priest at an angle, were unable to see the gestures and movements of the priest which are by–in-large out of view.  The priests’ words and movements , while hidden from the ears and eyes of the faithful, are directed toward their intended “audience” or object of the Mass, namely Almighty God.

In contrast, the above picture shows a Catholic priest offering an Ordinary Form Mass where his arms are extended in an exaggerated orans position.  Every movement, gesture and word being watched and heard by his intended “audience.”

In the first picture, the notion of the priest praying the words of the prayers with an audible or outward conviction seems almost absurd.  God desires His priests to come before Him inwardly disposed with hearts, minds and souls which have been shaped through living the Liturgy in the Mass and the Divine Office.  In the second picture the priest has become a conductor, leading the faithful in praying the prayers “with clarity and conviction.”  Without this role being filled the prayers would apparently have no  meaning according to Father Kennedy.

The issue, really, is not how the prayers are said, but to whom they are said.  For whose benefit are they being spoken? In the article Fr. Mull says,

Despite the many adjustments in store, Father Mull said he feels his challenge isn’t as steep as the one priests confronted immediately following the Second Vatican Council: “Those changes were much more difficult,” he remarked, noting that it was much harder to adapt “if you faced the wall for 25 years and now you were facing the congregation, if you said the Mass in Latin and now it was in English.”

This is an interesting statement, and by the word interesting I really mean appalling.  For, I would not call the Eucharistic presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Tabernacle, “the wall”!  As crazy as this statement may be, it is reflective of where this diocese currently is, and the long road ahead of us.  This road will be marked by small transitions like the one we will receive this Advent.  The gift by the way will not come via a flawless and impassioned recitation of the prayers, but rather, because the words of the mass are fitting for that which they convey and the Sacrament it confects.

Sentire Cum Ecclesia



Link to article: Catholic Courier

In case you’re interested: To aid in the adjustment process, Father Kennedy said he’s referring priests to a special area of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at, which includes the updated Eucharistic prayers as well as prayers for the Advent and Christmas seasons.