Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Joan’

A Smack of the Crosier Goes to . . .

February 15th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen


In their new series “The Chicago Code,” FOX producers and directors (henceforth “meddlers”) took it upon themselves to alter a classic television and film scenario. Picture this: a policeman, finding himself confronted with a moral dilemma, wanders into a Catholic church and kneels down in prayer. You can practically smell the beeswax candles, maybe even see a faint pall of incense hanging in the air. The policeman silently fingers his rosary, while fighting an inner battle between what is right and what is easy. Then you hear footsteps coming down the aisle, and a kindly priest in his clerical garb stops, bends low, and whispers words of wisdom and comfort to the afflicted lawman.

But what’s this? Not on FOX?

Alas, no. In the particular episode in question, one of the main characters of the series, Wysocki, stops by a Catholic church and finds himself being offered spiritual counsel, not from a priest, but from a nun in street-clothes.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see a priest fulfilling that sort of role on television. After all, the real thing is terrifying enough without having to see it reenacted in the sanctuaries of our living rooms.

(On that note: Sr. Joan Sobala will be taking the place of District Attorney Jack McCoy in Law and Order’s next season. After all, if she can pretend to be a priest, she can pretend to be anything.)

"I am what I am, and it is what it is." Former DA Jack McCoy expresses his desire to become a male nun at a February 12th press conference. "If Sr. Sobala can fight for a female priesthood, I'll fight for a male nunhood."

(Photo credit for Sr. Joan: Emily McKean Photography)

Joan for the Holidays

January 8th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Christmas is one of two times each year (the other being Easter) that our churches witness a significant boom in attendance as visiting families and twice-a-year Catholics make their way home to celebrate the most important feasts of the Church year. Most every parish in the Diocese of Rochester experienced a sizable boost in attendance for the Christmas Masses, often in the 1,000s range. Sadly this significant boost did not take place at St. Anne.

Before women’s ordination heroine, Sr. Joan Sobala SSJ, was assigned to be the pastoral administrator back in June of 2008, St. Anne was a healthy and orthodox parish in the city southeast. Attendance averaged in the 600s each Sunday, and Christmas attendance was well north of that. Enter Sr. Joan. Attendance at the start of her tenure was in the 600s, but then plummeted down to the lower 500s by the end of 2008. As of 2010, attendance at St. Anne has been in the lower 400s and shows no sign of stopping its downward spiral. Perhaps the Christmas season would produce the 1,000 visitors that other area parishes enjoyed?

Not quite.

Here are the attendance figures for the past two Sundays, as well as Christmas:

On Christmas Day, all the Sr. Joan-led St. Anne church was able to muster was 633 worshipers. 633 is basically what St. Anne was averaging on a normal weekend before her arrival. Check out the December 26th numbers. 282? I realize the 26th was the day after Christmas, but come on. Our Lady of Victory downtown, an orthodox parish which many St. Anne exiles have made their home because of Sr. Joan’s in-Mass antics, was beyond capacity for their two December 26th Masses (so roughly 600+ people).

I wonder if this was the last Christmas Mass to be celebrated at St. Anne. If the attendance situation gets any worse there, it just may have been.

By the way, St. Anne had a measly 598 attendees for Easter this year.

The Bearer of Rotten Fruit

November 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

To follow up on Gen’s post, I have compiled the October Mass attendance totals (what the Diocese of Rochester uses to determine each parish’s annual attendance average) for the first three years of Sr. Joan Sobala’s tenure at St. Anne church. Some data is missing, but you should get a pretty good picture of the fruit of Sr. Joan Sobala’s tenure as priestess administrator of St. Anne parish.

Pre-Joan: Unknown for certain, but reportedly in the mid-600s to mid 700s range according to persons who counted the attendance.

First month of Sr. Sobala’s tenure (June/July 2008)- 628
Oct. 2008 – 517
Oct. 2009 – 474
Oct. 2010 – 437

Change from June/July 2008 to Oct. 2010: -191 per weekend or -30%

By their fruit you shall know them…

A Vision of a Stagnant Liturgical Dystopia

November 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Brought to our attention by a reader:

Cluster Pastoral Council article from OLoL and Saint Anne Bulletin- 11-21-10

At this month’s meeting of the Cluster Pastoral Council,
Karen Rinefierd, our Diocesan Liaison from the Office ofPastoral
Planning, provided us with both a picture of the Diocese as
a whole and a picture of our cluster parishes.
Karen explained Diocesan strategies to deal with the stagnant
population growth within the Diocese and the decline in available
priests. The Diocese has sharpened its focus and put more
resources into increasing vocations. (There are now 10 major
seminarians within the Diocese.) As in our parishes, the Diocese
has been using either retired priests or foreign priests to help deal
with this decline. Karen did say that the closing of churches has
been driven by financial issues and not by the declining number
of priests. The process of clustering has been happening
throughout the Diocese as has the use of pastoral administrators
who are not priests. (There are now 16 such persons in the Diocese
including three deacons, five women religious, six laywomen
and two laymen. )

The picture of our cluster parishes shows a significant decline
in Mass attendance over the past 10 years. Reflecting the mix of
people in our parishes, it is not surprising that there have been
more funerals (44) than Baptisms (25) in the cluster in 2010. We
were also given other demographic information about our parishes
and the areas in which we are located. The Cluster Council
plans to use this information to help frame its priorities.

Please let us have your thoughts about these or other issues of
interest to you. You may email
or Sr. Joan at

Many points to address here:

1. They reference “stagnant population growth”. Maybe if our priests and lay preachers actually e-nun-ci-a-ted Church teaching regarding contraceptives and abortion, we wouldn’t be in this cycle. When you start neglecting to preach morals from the pulpit, you lose the future of your parish. Good preaching, rooted in doctrine, is the key to reversing the “demographic shifts” the DoR has seen and will continue to see.

2.  “Karen did say that the closing of churches has been driven by financial issues and not by the declining number of priests.” Tell that to the people of St. Thomas and St. Salome. The Diocese contradicts itself time and time again. “Oh what a tangled web we weave . .  .”

3. “The process of clustering has been happening throughout the Diocese as has the use of pastoral administrators who are not priests. (There are now 16 such persons in the Diocese including three deacons, five women religious, six laywomen and two laymen. )” If the processes we see at work in the DoR are driven, “not by the declining number of priests”, but by financial issues, why is this necessary? If we had ample amounts of priests, we wouldn’t need lay administrators. I won’t even bring up the canonical dubiousness of that whole arrangement, i.e. priests serving under lay parish leaders. The Diocese is really clueless.

4. “The picture of our cluster parishes shows a significant decline in Mass attendance over the past 10 years.” Gee, ya think? You take away a solid, liturgically-oriented priest like Fr. Lioi, replace him with another solid priest, Fr. Leone, who is called off to Kosovo, and then have Fr. Abas in charge, only to experience the pernicious backstabbing of other parish administration, and then when Fr. Leone gets back you replace him with Sr. Joan? Does it comes as a surprise that there’s a decline? When you destabilize a parish, that’s bad enough, but when you try to correct the destabilization with a poster-girl (sorry, not inclusive enough) poster-person as Sr. Sobala, that’s even worse. Sr. Joan is a dissident at best and a heretic at worst. This isn’t a judgment on her – it’s fact. Her liturgical practices are wholly illicit, founded only in the hollow norms from Buffalo Road. She chases away the faithful and then plays the “poor me” card by asking her remaining serfs what’s going on. Now that’s the definition of pathetic. She doesn’t need to look into the hearts of the faithful to get the answer to her question. She need only search the folds of her lilly-white alb.

Those churches which are still buying into the antiquated notion of “experimental liturgy” need to wake up and smell the incense. People don’t want Mass that cradles their pre-conceived notions of God and humanity. They want to be challenged, whether they know this on a conscious level or not. Why do you think places like Our Lady of Victory are bursting at the seams with solid young families? Is it because they experiment with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? No. It’s because they do what is asked of them by the Church Herself, not Her wayward, self-deifying servants.

And before anyone even thinks of saying, “You always talk about Our Lady of Victory. You’re biased,” show me another parish in the DoR that’s actually growing by leaps and bounds and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a valid argument. Liberal parishes are not experiencing tremendous growth. Most are lucky if they are breaking even from year to year in terms of attendance. St. Anne and Lourdes have lost hundreds of parishioners since Sr. Joan Sobala took over. Our Lady of Victory has gained hundreds of parishioners. If only we had some kind of genius who could decipher these baffling clues . . .


November 24th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

In what I can only imagine to be some kind of appeal to the younger crowd, the folks at St. Anne Church have wished everyone a blessed Thanksgiving in their language of instant messaging abbreviations. BFF is “best friends forever” unless I’m overlooking some obvious meaning more relevant to a parish’s Thanksgiving message . . .

So to all my BFF’s, you the readers, I wish a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving!

“Eight Reasons Why Men Only Should Serve at Mass”

October 24th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

I’m sure this is bound to ruffle a few feathers, but everything contained in this post is not a matter of opinion. This comes directly from the Vatican, the guardian of Sacred Tradition. This is not supposed to be a “knock” of female altar servers, but rather an analysis of the essence of ministering at the altar.

To raise the possibility of an all-male liturgical ministry is to invite tribulation. Those who prefer the traditional arrangement of male altar servers, lectors, and so on are nervous about vocalizing their convictions, let alone acting upon them. This in itself is significant: Regardless of where one stands on the issue, it should give us pause that many Catholics, from the pious in the pews to prelates in the Vatican, stand in fear of being stigmatized as supporters of a 4,000-year-old tradition, faithfully kept by God’s chosen people from the days of Abraham until the Catholic Church began changing its practices in the 1970s.

But let us have courage and look again with fresh eyes. Such an investigation is necessary, especially if we wish to continue admitting women into the service of the sanctuary. G. K. Chesterton once complained of would-be reformers that they “do not know what they are doing because they do not know what they are undoing” (well said, sir, well said). His grievance was that reformers either do not sufficiently study the original rationale for the thing they are dismantling, or they assume “all their fathers were fools.” Yet advocates for female liturgical ministers might go further and say that our fathers were not fools but worse: oppressors, sexists, misogynists (Now this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). This forces us to ask: Are sins of bias the real reason behind an all-male liturgical ministry? What precisely are we undoing?

To address these questions, we turn to eight distinctions.

1. Allowed vs. Encouraged

The Holy See allows female lectors, extraordinary ministers of Communion, and altar servers, but it does not necessarily encourage them. Despite the fact that papal Masses have female readers, permission for this has an officially optional, provisional, and exceptional nature (see Canon 230.2). Strictures surrounding altar girls are particularly tight. According to the Congregation for Divine Worship’s 2001 letter “Concerning the Use of Female Altar Servers,” the general law prohibiting them remains in effect except in those places where the bishop uses the indult allowing them. A bishop cannot compel his priests to use female altar servers; and every bishop, even when using this indult, is obligated not to undermine the “noble tradition” of altar boys. (Undermining the “noble tradition” of altar boys can be seen in the treatment of the parish traditions of St. Thomas. You can bet those boys won’t have an easy time blending into the less-than-orthodox liturgical style of Christ the King.)

2. Liturgical vs. Non-liturgical

Saying that women shouldn’t serve in the sanctuary says nothing about women’s leadership elsewhere in the Church or other ministries open to them. Liturgy is a unique animal: It has its own rules, logic, and, as we shall see, symbolic demands. (Much like child-bearing is a unique thing. Sure, a man can have procedures done to make him become pregnant (and I don’t mean with Freudian overtones) but he’s still a man and, by his nature not able to bear a child.)

3. Holy vs. Sacred

“Holy” and “sacred” are not synonymous. To be holy is to be filled with and transformed by the Holy Spirit, whereas to be sacred is to be consecrated for special use. The opposite of “holy” is “wicked,” but the opposite of “sacred” is “profane,” a word that literally means “outside the temple” and has no necessarily negative connotations.

Both sexes are equally called to holiness, while they are called to different roles regarding the sacred. These roles do not prejudice the ability of one sex to become holy: As all the bad popes writhing in Dante’s Inferno amply attest, having a particular access to the sacred and becoming holy are two different matters.

Per Alice von Hildebrand’s The Privilege of Being a Woman, one way of describing the difference is that men are called to be protectors or keepers of the sacred, whereas women are called to be a particular embodiment of the sacred. Von Hildebrand, for instance, writes eloquently on how the female body is sacred in a way that a man’s isn’t. (Readers should note that Alice is a woman. She’s not a man defending a male institution. She’s a woman defending God’s institution.)

The distinction between holiness and sacredness also explains how the same St. Paul who declares that there is “neither male nor female” in Christ (Gal 3:28) can also prescribe very different kinds of comportment for men and women in liturgical worship regarding headdress, lectoring, etc. (1 Cor 11:3-12, 14:34-35). Contrary to popular historicist readings, Paul’s writings are not contradictory “products of their age” but a practical instantiation of the perennial distinction between holy and sacred.

4. Function vs. Symbol

The sexes’ differing relations to the sacred is connected to the innate typology of the Mass. For if men are the custodians of the sacred and women the embodiment, we should find this in the Church’s supreme act of worship.

And we do. Since every Mass is a mini-Incarnation, a re-actualization of the great event that took place when the “yes” of the Blessed Virgin Mary ratified the divine initiative and made God really present in her womb, the sanctuary in which the Mass takes place is effectively a womb. This is why the traditional configuration of a church sanctuary is uterine (there’s a beautiful meditation for your Sunday morning!). With its demarcating border of altar rail or iconostasis, it is an “enclosed garden” (Sg 4:15), a traditional image of maidenhood. (Note that the sanctuary is, at its core, a feminine thing.) And whereas the sanctuary is feminine, her ministers, as representatives of the sanctuary’s divine Husband, are masculine. (For more on this crucial point, see Jacob Michael’s outstanding “Women at the Altar.”)

This is obvious in the case of the priest, the indispensable stand-in for the Groom (unless you’re in Rochester where albed-nuns will suffice) who fructifies the sanctuary-womb by consecrating the Eucharistic elements (whereas a female priest is as impossible as the conjugal union of two women). But is it true for the other liturgical ministers? No and yes: No, it is no more essential for a priest to be attended by males in the sanctuary than it is for a groom to be accompanied by groomsmen in order to validly marry. On the other hand, yes, it is highly appropriate for a priest to be assisted by males in the sanctuary, just as it is highly appropriate for groomsmen to accompany a groom.

And thus our fourth distinction, between function and symbol. From the very first Mass in the Upper Room, which deliberately took place during the ceremonially rich Passover, the liturgy has never been a matter of pure utility. Everything in liturgical tradition has deep significance: In this case, the maleness of its ministers is an icon of the nuptial embrace between Christ and His Church, a dramatization of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

5. Mars vs. Venus

Male custodianship of the sacred is also linked to sacrifice. Although offering oneself as a sacrifice is equally incumbent on both sexes (Rom 12:1), men are the only ones in the Bible who offer physical immolations. Scripture doesn’t say why, but we may hazard a guess. Men after the Fall are the violent sex, more likely to have recourse to bloodshed as a means of obtaining what it wants. While this does not deny that women can also be violent, it does explain the causes of war, the population of our prisons, and the consumer demographic of video-game players.

God’s strategy appears to have been to channel the postlapsarian male’s propensity for violence away from murder toward animal sacrifice as a way of helping him recognize his devious impulses and repent. “God in his seeming bloodthirstiness,” Patrick Downey writes in his superb Desperately Wicked, “is actually more concerned with curing us of our own.” This strategy culminates in the New Covenant, when its High Priest, rather than committing violence, allows Himself to be victimized by it. God’s final solution to the problem of man’s deicidal heart is to give him exactly what he wants. (Let that sink in. Re-read that.)

But the cross is a true sacrifice, as is the sacrifice of the altar which re-presents it. Thus, it remains linked not only to the darkness of the human heart but to the specific problem of male violence. Serving on the altar is actually a healthy form of humiliation for men and boys, for it constitutes a confession of their wicked hearts; God’s restriction of sacrifice to males in the Tabernacle, Temple, and beyond is a back-handed compliment.

6. Good for the Gander, Not the Goose

Altar service is also good for males because it encourages religious vocations and teaches all men to serve chivalrously and to respect the feminine, which is sacred, with reverence and awe. (I know not of a single priest who cannot look back at his altar-serving days and recall an epiphany reached while kneeling in humble service before his God and King.) It is not so for girls. Let us be honest: When we allow a girl to serve at the altar, we are lying to her. We place her in the courtly role of page and tell her she can never be a lord. And we are not encouraging vocations to the convent: For a nun, as Rev. Vincent Miceli persuasively argues in “Sisters as Symbols of the Sacred,” is called to be sacred, not a knightly protector of the sacred.

7. Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up

But wouldn’t the Vatican’s prohibition of female liturgical ministers invite howls of protests from those keen on tarring the Church with the dread label of sexism and the terrifying metaphor of “turning back the clock”? Undoubtedly, but change needn’t happen by centralized proscription. There could be a grassroots movement in which parishes or dioceses restore the nuptial signs of the Eucharistic sacrifice for themselves (St. Thomas, Our Lady of Victory, Latin Mass, Abbey of the Genesee, Carmelite Monastery, etc.). Such a movement could grow organically until it transformed the way the faithful approached liturgical worship.

8. Thermometer vs. Thermostat

Some think we should downplay our hoary traditions in order to fit into our democratic, egalitarian society, as this would render us better citizens. But the opposite is true. The more we differ from society, the more we have something to contribute to it. The last thing our culture needs is more Yes Men bowing before the gender idols of the age (Pray for our bishops); it needs Dutch uncles informed by a loftier view of things. Borrowing a distinction from Martin Luther King Jr., Catholics need to be a thermostat setting the temperature rather than a thermometer reflecting it. An all-male liturgical ministry would be an effective way of preaching the Good News about the higher meaning, so tragically overlooked now, of the noninterchangeable dignity of our sexual natures.

The Apostolic Visitation Is Coming to Rochester!

October 15th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

I know this is something many of us have long been waiting for. The Sisters of St. Joseph in the Diocese of Rochester will be visited this week by the Vatican investigation into the life (and doctrinal fidelity) of women religious.

From Bishop Clark’s article on the Courier website:

“A final note about religious life: Our Sisters of St. Joseph will be hosting a team of visitors this week, participating in the Holy See’s program of visitation of women religious in our country. I know that the visitation team will be as impressed by our sisters as we are. Please take the occasion of the visitation to pray in gratitude not only for the Sisters of St. Joseph but for all of the women and men religious who have poured out their lives in service of the people of our diocese since our diocese was established 142 years ago.
Peace to all.”

Let us hope that the Vatican investigation will take a very close inspection into the liturgical and pastoral activities of Sr. Joan Sobala (see laundry list here), Sr. Karen Dietz (see here), and other local personalities who live in priest rectories instead of convents. I don’t expect any miracles to happen immediately, but this investigation should hopefully yield fruit in the restoration of orthodoxy to women religious groups over the next ten years. Provided these groups are still around by then.

Don’t be alarmed if you hear after the visitation the visitors saying good things about the SSJs in Rochester. We should expect positive spin no matter what their report actually contains.

Diocese of Rochester Situation Receives National Attention

October 13th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Jeff Ziegler, a writer for the Catholic news magazine The Catholic World Report, has finished an article concerning the poor state of vocations to the priesthood in the Northeastern United States. In his article, “The Barren Fig Tree,” Mr. Ziegler spends a good amount of time outlining the situation in the Diocese of Rochester, and exploring in depth why our diocese has the second worst seminarian-to-Catholic ratio in the country (behind only Las Vegas). A number of area Catholics were interviewed in preparation for writing the article, including diocesan employees, priests and administrators, and several lay faithful. Cleansing Fire also contributed information and documentation pertaining to Bishop Clark’s devotion to lay ecclesial ministry at the expense of promoting solid vocations to the priesthood. I encourage each and every one of our readers to purchase a copy of this magazine. You will find yourself nodding in agreement with the various details of the woes we experience in this diocese. Maybe this article will serve as a wake-up call for the diocese that they should get with the program, and abandon their efforts to create a parallel lay hierarchy while the priesthood in Rochester approaches extinction.

I will not print the entire article, so as to entice you to actually purchase the magazine and support this good writer (buy it now!), but I will quote some  interesting passages:

“No other northeastern diocese has faced greater challenges in recent years in attracting diocesan seminarians than has the Diocese of Rochester. According to statistics published in the Official Catholic Directory, the ratio of diocesan seminarians to Catholics in Rochester ranked the diocese 167th in 2003, with a steady decline to 175th in 2008.”

“The Diocese of Rochester is known throughout the nation as one of the most liberal and modernist dioceses, where there has been a collapse of authentic Catholic catechesis and a policy of deliberately devaluing the priesthood in favor of the feminization of the liturgy and promotion of lay ecclesial ministries,” says James Likoudis, who served as president of Catholics United for the Faith from 1988 to 1994.”

“Likoudis’ website ( includes doctrinal critiques of presentations by diocesan officials. The group of Catholics who write for Cleansing Fire (, a blog devoted to the diocese, also documents their concerns about catechesis and the liturgy, posting parish bulletin excerpts and audio clips.[Thanks for the plug!]

“A pastoral administrator who governs two parishes—Sister Joan Sobola—is lauded on the Women’s Ordination Conference website as a pioneer proponent of women’s ordination. (Sister Sobola did not respond to a request to comment for this article.)”

“When a priest becomes only a ‘sacramental minister’ and deacons or lay people do everything else, it makes the calling to the priesthood [appear to be] of little importance in the life of the Church,” adds another parishioner of a parish threatened with closure. “The priest isn’t a leader anymore. He’s only another cog in the wheel.”

“the administrator of the Cleansing Fire blog, is hopeful that priestly vocations will blossom again in Rochester. “We have faith, and we know that all things will be turned to the greater good, given enough time and prayer.”

As you can see, Mr. Ziegler has hit the nail on the head in describing the problems facing the Diocese of Rochester. I hope these passages above will tantalize your taste buds into purchasing the magazine and reading the entire article. Two of the four pages are devoted to the situation in Rochester. This is a must read for all Rochester Catholics, so get a copy today. But one for yourself, one for a friend, and one for your priest.

Subscriptions to CWR can be obtained here:

Ray Grosswirth – Man, He’s Got Some Good Moves!

October 4th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

It’s been a while since I’ve made a light-hearted video for you all, so here’s something I think you’ll all like. It’s our favorite “married priest from Rochester, NY” in a dance remix video. Oh yes. Brace yourselves.

That Precious Mark of Success: the Three Voice Choir

October 4th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

No, not so much.

The poster-girl for women’s ordination, lay ministry, lay preaching, and lay administration of parishes, Sr. Joan Sobala, makes yet another strike against the hearts of her remaining parishioners. As of this past Sunday, there are a total of three voices in their once-mighty choir. The same parish that was once known as a “bastion of beautiful liturgy” is now experiencing the death of its last redeeming quality: sacred music.

I have always been of the opinion that a thing such as sacred music, as edifying and spiritually-wholesome as it is, can never constitute the sole reason for staying at a parish where heresy is boldly and warmly professed and embraced. The people who are keeping St. Anne Church alive are those who cling, out of a profound love for God, to the St. Anne of Fr.’s Lioi, Leone, and Abas, a parish of liturgical splendor and Gregorian excellence. However, that parish died the moment Sr. Sobala stood in front of the altar and, holding out her hands, said “I am your Good Shepherd now, and you are my sheep.”

From what we have been shown and told via email, the parish lost the vast majority of its choir when Sr. Sobala appointed a new music director, one who does not follow in the venerable traditions of her predecessors. One of the former music directors is now an organist at St. Patrick’s. Another is a former member of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. Another is now bringing Gregorian Chant to the people of Auburn at St. Mary’s Church, under the direction of Fr. Lioi. While I don’t know precise details of this woman’s musical aptitude or interest, and while I don’t wish to speculate, I would feel comfortable saying that she is more willing to embrace Sr. Joan’s ideas of liturgy than any other music director in that parish’s history.

It seems that, of all the parishes experiencing slow, painful, drawn-out deaths in the Diocese of Rochester, St. Anne is one of the most tragic. It went from being one of the “safe zones” for liturgy to being one of the “front-line cities,” over-run by the barbarian horde of heretics and dissidents. Perhaps Sr. Sobala genuinely thinks she is doing the right thing, and that those who have left in this latest wave of refugees are simply overreacting to the Church’s organic development. We’re not in any position to judge her soul, her motives, or her heart. However, we can look at this impartially: is it normal and healthy for a parish known for sacred music to lose the vast majority of its choir? Without letting “partisan bickering” enter into this, we can all agree that something is seriously wrong, not just at St. Anne, but in the Diocese as a whole. Why? Because any organization that is seeing such poor results and does nothing to rectify them is woefully out of touch with those it serves.

So, let us commend the Diocese and its glorious throngs of lay ministers on continuing to drive the nails into the hands and feet of Christ, and congratulate them on seeing Holy Church bleed copiously from Her pierced side. Bravo.

Thanks go to M.R. and J.G. for providing insight via their emails.

The Church Bishop Clark Wants

September 27th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Excerpts from Bishop Clark’s latest Along the Way column entitled, Being with dedicated ministers is a blessing(commentary added)

During the weekend of Sept. 18-19 I presided over eucharistic liturgies [I assume he means “Masses”, but you never know in Rochester] at which we [I assume he means “I”] formally installed pastoral administrators [Priests are installed; lay “pastoral administrators” are not. There is no Rite of Installation for a layperson, despite what Bishop Clark and Sr. Dietz, SSJ want to make us believe] in two of our parish clusters [The significance of this is that lay administrators tend to be placed in charge of as many churches as possible so that Bishop Clark can assert his vision for the Church over as many communities and people as possible. One notable exception is William Rabjohn, but his parish has over 1,500 people, so the result is the same].

On Saturday evening at St. Rose, Lima, we [“we” being who?] installed Sister Karen Dietz, SSJ, as pastoral administrator of St. Rose; St. Agnes, Avon; and St. Paul of the Cross, Honeoye Falls [Yes, she is de facto priestess of three churches].

On Sunday morning at St. Gabriel in Hammondsport, Deacon David LaFortune was installed as pastoral administrator of St. Gabriel and St. Mary in Bath.

The communities gathered at both events were warm and welcoming to their new leaders [Of course the people that show up at these sham liturgies are the ones who are least opposed to these sham leaders]. Both communities seemed to me lively [“vibrant”] and ready to move into the future supportive of their new leaders. Following both liturgies there were receptions at which people had the opportunity to offer their good wishes to Karen and David and to socialize with one another. I noted with some interest how many people stayed for both events and how enthusiastic was the spirit of both groups [Because the Spirit is only alive when we embrace heterodoxy and worship is only vibrant when we embrace liturgical irregularity].

As always, it is a blessing to be in the company of dedicated pastoral ministers [What about your priests?] who are in touch with both their faith and their own humanity and who desire deeply to keep growing in the Lord.”

The problem in Rochester is very serious and it continues to worsen. Bishop Clark has made it abundantly clear that his vision for the Church is lay-led communities where priests serve as multi-site sacramental dispensers. We see time and time again that Bishop Clark raves on about his lay administrators.  He rarely shows the same enthusiasm for his priests, whom he presses into early retirement against their will (Fr. Joseph Trovato CSB), coerces into unreasonable multi-site service among three or more churches (Fr. Peter Abas), and forces to serve under the oppressive thumb of lay administrators who desire to be priests themselves (Fr. John Lynch under Sr. Joan Sobala, SSJ). This bishop doesn’t want priests. He treats his priests like dirt while at the same time he exalts his lay ministers. And we wonder why we have a priest shortage in Rochester. This shortage, which I contend does not yet exist as of 2010, is a self-inflicted wound being used by Bishop Clark to open the door for a lay-led Church. The proof is the Diocese of Rochester.

You’re Doing It Wrong

September 17th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Anyone who reads with some regularity will notice that one of the “worst” parishes/clusters in the Diocese of Rochester is the Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne cluster, which is being led by Sr. Joan “I am what I am” Sobala, SSJ. It seems that this community is the perfect example of how not to do things. Even leaving the politicking (read “heresy”) aside for the moment, does it seem normal that two healthy parishes in decent areas suddenly, under a new administration, lose several hundred parishioners who miarculously show up at other parishes such as St. Boniface, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Victory, the Latin Mass, and St. Cecilia? I should think not.

I present for your consideration this excerpt from the most recent OLoL/SA bulletin. Click to enlarge it.

“This Sunday at Lourdes (10:30 am) we begin a monthly Youth Mass, with music for children, homily directed at their young lives. Generally, this will be the 3rd Sunday of the month, but not always.”

What exactly is this “music for children” that Sr. Joan mentions? The music at Lourdes is already childish to begin with, what with hymns frequently focusing on diversity and community, not God, the Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Mother, or any other overtly-Catholic theme. Are children really so mentally-stunted in Sr. Sobala’s eyes that they can’t pick up a hymnal and sing “Go Make of All Disciples”? And what, pray-tell, will the musical accompaniment be for their “young lives”? I have a feeling that the use of the organ will be minimal, at best. Children don’t like being talked down to. They may seem to enjoy the pandering at the moment, but there’s nothing that makes them latch onto the Church and cherish it. There’s no depth to the dumbed-down Catholicism that Sr. Joan and her ilk spoon-feed these young folks. I shudder to think what kind of “teachings” will find their way into these Youth Masses. “Jesus loves everyone, no matter what you do, so don’t worry if you fall into sin – it doesn’t matter.”

The Directory for Masses With Children (1973) says the following regarding what is suitable, musically, for a Youth Mass:

4. Singing and Music

30. Singing must be given great importance in all celebrations, but it is to be especially encouraged in every way for Masses celebrated with children, in view of their special affinity for music. [26] The culture of various peoples and the capabilities of the children present should be taken into account.

If possible, the acclamations should be sung by the children rather than recited, especially the acclamations that form part of the Eucharistic prayer.

31. To facilitate the children’s participation in singing the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, it is permissible to use with the melodies appropriate vernacular texts, accepted by competent authority, even if these do not correspond exactly to the liturgical texts. [27]

32. The use of “musical instruments can add a great deal” in Masses with children, especially if they are played by the children themselves. [28] The playing of instruments will help sustain the singing or to encourage the reflection of the children; sometimes in their own fashion instruments express festive joy and the praise of God.

Care should always be taken, however, that the musical accompaniment does not overpower the singing or become a distraction rather than a help to the children. Music should correspond to the purpose intended for the different periods at which it is played during the Mass.

With these precautions and with due and special discretion, recorded music may also be used in Masses with children, in accord with norms established by the conferences of bishops.

The thing which I find very unsettling about these norms are that they aren’t specific. When you read them in light of the Church’s liturgical Tradition, it’s clear what the bishops want in a Youth Mass. However, read through the foggy lens of dissent, this document can be absolutely destroyed, while making it look like everything is in perfect accordance with liturgical correctness. Sr. Joan and her supporters (Nancy DeRycke and hers, too) fail to grasp that they may be able to interpret the letter of these documents how they wish, but they cannot alter the spirit of these documents. Bishops would not enable lay preachers to present their actions as normal to young kids just being formed in the faith. They need to learn the role of priest, deacon, server, lector, all valid liturgical roles. They must not think that being a lay-preacher is a licit liturgical role. It’s not.

In my conluding point, I’d like to ask a question. Does the following quote sound like something a lay woman should say, or does it sound like something an ordained man should say?

“Someone in our travel group wondered if I was gathering homily material. Yes, I said.”

And these people claim they’re not trying to diminish the role of priest? These people claim they’re not hostile? Sr. Joan Sobala is the poster-girl poster-person for dissent in the Church. I sincerely pray that her influence will not infect future generations. Then again, how can it, when half the young families of the cluster left, and there are no priestly prospects for the two parishes? Dissent self-destructs. Just sit back and watch them wither away to insignificance while Truth and Tradition are restored to prominence.

Flectamus Genua – Let Us Kneel

August 23rd, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

A short while ago, I posted a piece on the progressives’ disdain for the purification of sacred vessels used at Mass. Today I’d like to take a look at their general disdain for kneeling. In my opinion, the urge not to kneel at Mass is one which stems from any one of three things: Ignorance, Arrogance, and Hesitance. There are those who grow up, go through Rochester’s Catholic School system, volunteer to serve Mass, and never even witness the faithful kneeling. It’s not the young folks’ fault if they’ve never seen such a liturgical action. However, this ignorance doesn’t pardon all of those who refuse to bend the knee to Our God and King. It is these two categories I would like to focus on.

I would like to look, first, at what the Holy Scriptures say about kneeling. First we look at the Psalms.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 For in his hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are his. 5 For the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us. 7 For he is the Lord our God: and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. 8 Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (Psalm 95: 2-8)

As Catholics, we come “before his presence” every time we step foot inside our parishes, for God reigns from the tabernacle, whether it is prominently enthroned on the altar or irreverently buried in the utility closet. Regardless of location, God reigns. And yet how often do we fail to “adore and fall down, and weep before the Lord that made us”? I recently made a holy hour at a local parish (that will remain nameless). As I was sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, a woman came in, walked right past the tabernacle, but fell to her knees before a statue of the Blessed Virgin. Her intentions, though headed in the right direction, failed to realize the preeminence of the Blessed Sacrament over a mere statue. One is plaster, one is Creator. Which one would you kneel to? But, of course, this would fall under the category of being “ignorant” of the significance of the Blessed Sacrament. Many times I hear people say, “you mean, we can pray in front of the Mass left-overs?” That’s a disgusting mentality, but the penalty doesn’t rest with them. No, it rests with the arrogant priests, nuns, lay people, and “liturgists” who devalue the Blessed Sacrament. It’s God, and to treat Him like anything less than divine is sinful.

Now let’s look at the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:

20 Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, adoring and asking something of him. 21 Who said to her: What will you? She said to him: say that these my two sons may sit, the one on your right hand, and the other on your left, in your kingdom. 22 And Jesus answering, said: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink? They say to him: We can. 23 He says to them: My chalice indeed you shall drink; but to sit on my right or left hand is not mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by my Father. 24 And the ten, hearing it, were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and that they that are the greater, exercise power upon them. 26 It shall not be so among you: but whosoever is the greater among you, let him be your minister. 27 And he that will be first among you shall be your servant. 28 Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life as redemption for many.

Many translations use the word “kneeling” instead of “adoring,” but the meaning is still clear. The mother of the sons of Zebedee was humbly beseeching the Lord for an intention. She didn’t approach him with a casual demeanor or a demand, but rather, a request. She begs Our Lord to give her the grace of having her sons on His right and left in the Kingdom of Heaven. And notice that Jesus gives answer. Just as we kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, be it in a chapel, a church, or at the communion rail, we are praying to be found worthy to receive Him. Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea. Lord, I am not worthy to receive Thee under my roof, but say the word and my soul shall be healed. Those who have faith in Our Lord approach him with humility – without presumption, without haughtiness. When was the last time you saw one of our high-risk litrurgical offenders humble himself or herself before the Lord? I’m not judging their souls, just their actions, and by their actions we can see that there is no respect for the Blessed Sacrament, no respect for God reigning from the priest’s fingers at the moment of consecration. No – they stand, they gawk, they extend their hands as if they have the right to do so. Guess what – they don’t. No one has the right to do such a thing. Even the priest says multiple prayers, bowing, which focus on his unworthiness to perform the sacred mysteries.

The arrogant are the worst offenders of Our Lord’s dignity. But there are those who refuse to kneel because “only the really intense people kneel.” That’s just foolish. If you really believe that that “piece of bread” is Jesus, the Son of the Living God, why aren’t you on your stomachs prostrate before Him? There is a popular annecdote of a Muslim saying that he could be a Catholic, but it was obvious to him that Catholics generally don’t understand what they profess to believe. Why? “Because if I believed that piece of Eucharistic bread was wholly God, I would be on my hands and knees in tears, begging for mercy.” Sounds kind of like Psalm 95, doesn’t it? Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us. If you fall into the category of “Hesitance” I would pray that you find the courage to worship God in the form of a suppliant, not an equal. For even Our Lord “did not find equality with God something to be grasped at.”

Liberals are unable to bend their knees to anyone but themselves. When they come face to face with God in Heaven, I hope that then they realize that they were doing the improper thing on Earth, worshiping community over Our Lord. I am certain that God’s infinite mercy would be shown to them, as I pray it will be for all of us, for what are these liberals but mere wayward children having liturgical temper-tantrums? In most cases, I would be comfortable saying that the things we see aren’t the products of a malicious spirit alone, but also a loss of touch with sacramental reality. A Catholic believes in the Real Presence. Let us pray, on our knees before God, that this faith in the Real Presence be nurtured by our priests in their example, our bishops by their teaching authority, and by our religious in their tireless devotion, not to self, but to the God whom they vowed to serve over all else. We all have failings, friends, but when we have the satisfaction of being grounded in the Faith, overcoming our sins is that much easier. Thank God that many Catholics still have a sense of the Sacred, that they genuflect when passing before the tabernacle, that they receive Communion with humble and contrite hearts.

The “uncharitable” Khludov Psalter

July 30th, 2010, Promulgated by Bernie

"Khludov Psalter" (folio 67r), 9th century, Moscow Museum

Detail from "Khludov Psalter" folio 67r

Cleansing Fire gets criticism for being uncharitable because it’s, well, critical. I’d like to call your attention to a page from the Khludov Psalter that pulled no punches when it came to criticizing the heretical polices of Church officials in the 9th century. 

This illuminated psalter is one of only three Byzantine ones to have survived from the 9th century and is said to have been created “clandestinely” (read anonymously) by those opposed to the official iconoclastic polices -the destruction and banning of images in churches- of the imperial and Church authorities in Constantinople. It includes some illuminations in the margins that are critical of the iconoclasts. On some pages little arrows connect certain verses with parts of the illustrations in order to specify analogies. On this particular page the illuminator illustrated the line “They gave me gall to eat; and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink” with a picture of a soldier offering Christ vinegar on a sponge attached to a pole. But, in the bottom margin of the page he has depicted the last iconoclast Patriarch of Constantinople, John the Grammarian, whitewashing over an icon of Christ with a similar sponge on a pole as the one used by the soldier. The analogy is clear between iconoclasts who whitewashed paintings and mosaics, and the soldiers who tormented Christ. The hair style the artist has given the patriarch on this page and the others in the psalter consists of straight hair sticking out in all directions. Such a hairdo was considered rediculous by sophisticated Byzantines.
I suppose this psalter was something like the Cleansing Fire of its day created by the self-appointed guardians of orthodoxy.


Dismissal or Deposition

July 16th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

One of the  new “grave delicits” named by the Holy See may be of extreme interest to you. It reaffirms the teaching of the Church regarding the sanctity of the Sacraments, in particular The Holy Mass and Holy Orders. I quote:

Art. 5

The more grave delict of the attempted sacred ordination of a woman is also reserved to the

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

1° With due regard for can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

2° If the one attempting to confer sacred ordination, or the woman who attempts to receive sacred ordination, is a member of the Christian faithful subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, with due regard for can. 1443 of that Code, he or she is to be punished by major excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

3° If the guilty party is a cleric he may be punished by dismissal or deposition.

How much clearer could it be, folks? Women’s ordination is absolutely and unequivocally banned, and will be for ages unending. Amen.

For the Canon of the Mass, methinks this gal would be inclined to say, "Te igitur, clementissima Mater . . . "

Pastoral “Leader”

July 15th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

A while back, we discussed Nancy DeRycke’s self-given title of “pastoral leader.” We also discussed how a lay person cannot legitimately be a “pastoral leader,” i.e. “pastor” in common parlance, because only an ordained man may be the “pastoral leader.” Well, yet another woman has crowned herself as liturgical queen and empress, and three guesses as to who it is.

Sr. Joan Sobala is now, in the words of the Diocese of Rochester, the “Pastoral Leader of the Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Anne Cluster.”

I guess Canon Law has no place in the liberal “Church” that they’ve created for themselves, and which they continue to foist on the unsuspecting parishioners in the pews.

Oh, wait, they’ve left? There’s almost no one in the pews? Sorry – disregard what I was saying. It’s clear the message already got out.

Dying One Thousand Deaths

July 8th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Each passing week, many parishes in the Diocese of Rochester continue to see moral, theological, financial, liturgical, and spiritual declines. None more so than the once-proud and majestic St. Anne Church on Mt. Hope venue. Without fail, we receive a constant stream of Joan Sobala-related items from our readers and staffers, most of which we just omit because they’re the pathetic dying breaths of a dying breed of heretics. However, this is one we just had to convey to you, the readers, so that you can grasp the depths to which Sr. Sobala has dragged the people of the parish.

Every year, since the parish’s inception, the parishioners have held a beautiful and well-attended “Novena to St. Anne” which attracts, not only the parishioners themselves, but devotion-loving Catholics from the entire Diocese. Each year, a noted preacher from out of town has delivered the nightly sermons – all prestigious for their theological prowess. This pattern came to an abrupt end in 2008, when Sr. Sobala & Co. took over St. Anne. That year, Fr. Michael Marigliano, a Franciscan, was the preacher. I attended some of the nightly services, and I was moved by his zeal for the Faith and the Church. However, he did not care for Sr. Sobala’s seditious actions at the parish, and he made his sentiments known. Indeed, he inserted into the petitions at the closing Mass certain words to the effect of “We pray also for those faithful who suffer under corrupt leaders in the parish setting. May they suffer spiritual martyrdom for the glory of God and His Church.”

And so, Sr. Sobala has stopped the three-quarter century tradition of preaching excellence in favor of a more affordable (fine), simpler (fine), more local and controllable approach (not fine). The parish went from having priests like Fr. Marigliano preaching firey sermons to – now get this – Fr.’s Kennedy and Palumbos. Of course, this is an improvement over last year’s Sobala-Tyman-Lawlor rotation, but still . . . consider their orthodoxy. They have both been long-associated with being (I put this tactfully) associated with the “plight” of gays and lesbians in the Church. I know we need to reach out to these people, but not by signing our names to a letter of open dissent. They also contribute proudly to organizations of dubious moral focus.

So what are the people of the parish to expect this year, in terms of sermons? They used to be solid, theologically beautiful, and proud of their Catholicity. But now, it seems that cost and politicking are dancing hand-in-hand down the aisle at St. Anne. I fear for the people who still attend this novena, for many are unaware of the immense damage that the staff of the parish has caused.

Let us pray that Fr.'s Kennedy and Palumbos do not slip their political quest into the prayerful tone of the annual St. Anne Novena.

Now, I wholly understand needing to trim the budget. That’s a good thing to do, and if you can find preachers of the same caliber for no cost, that’s the way to go. But you cannot whore out a devotion for the cause of politicking (politickling?) gay rights. We can hope this doesn’t come up, but when you think of a list of DoR priests who are openly fighting for gays in ways they ought not to, what two names are at the top of the list? Kennedy and Palumbos. Of course, I’m sure they’re both charming gentlemen, but they (and many like them) need to realize that the pulpit is no place for dissenting political views.

What strikes me as the most telling fact in all this is the perpetual decline in attendance at St. Anne. If people liked what they were hearing at Mass (and things like the novena) attendance wouldn’t have dropped by around 50%. In a similar way, if people are engaged and challenged by what they hear on Sunday, they will become even more active in the parish. St. Anne is no longer attracting the vast number of volunteers it once had – you can see that in their bulletins, where the same names are repeated week after week. Indeed, they don’t even have children serving their 4:00 Mass anymore – when young people are replaced by the elderly, there is something seriously wrong there. If a child of 12 or 13 knows there’s something bad going on at Mass, so too should well-informed people in our situation.The novena used to be something which everyone at the parish looked forward to, and was advertised all around the diocese. I myself found out about it from Catholic Radio around 10 years ago. But now, the novena is just one more thing they (and we) have to worry about. “Will there be sound preaching?” “Will they be vested in a proper and dignified way?” “Will there be overt politicking/politickling?” The faithful ought not to worry whether or not church will be uplifting, and that’s why we’re seeing a massive decline in attendance, not just at St. Anne, but at every parish whose curriculum vitae leans away from Church doctrine and towards the glorification of error.

If anyone is planning on attending the novena, I would encourage you to record and document it to the best of your ability. Fr. Tyman himself has disparagingly referred to us as the “self-appointed bulldogs of orthodoxy,” so let’s not disappoint.

“Our Tormentors Demanded of Us Songs of Joy”

June 18th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Many of you have been following the coverage we supply of the monthly decay of orthodoxy at St. Anne Church. Without fail, Sr. Joan Sobala always manages to drive her speared agenda deeper into the side of Christ, destroying what was once a lively and joyful bubble of Tradition. What is the latest scourge of hers against the Body of Christ?

First, a little background: the 11:00AM Sunday Mass has often been referred to as the “Latin Mass” at St. Anne, with Gregorian Chant and sacred polyphony used for the ordinaries. Fr. Frank Lioi started this venerable tradition at the parish, and hoped that it be continued as a beacon of what a reverent Novus Ordo Mass is.  The St. Anne choir became famous locally for its precision and its love of the sacred, and ultimately displaying this love through their flawless participation in the liturgy there.

But, alas, this is coming under the scrutiny of Sr. Sobala. I can barely contain my surprise. The people at the “Latin Mass” at St. Anne are among the last major contributors to the parish in terms of finances – the 4:00 and 9:00 Masses pale in comparison to the generally more “well-to-do” population at the 11:00AM Mass. But now, they are being forced to bend their knees to a “music survey.” The blurb from the recent bulletin can be found below.

The gateway for more liturgical malversation - a "music survey"

You may be thinking “this seems innocuous enough.” Well, in most parishes, I would say you’re right. However, consider these things:

  • Sr. Sobala has said she would much rather have “people music” at Mass than the current “high-Church music.”
  • Sr. Sobala fired the group leaders in the choir – these are the individuals who would be the strong voices upon which the others relied for singing on key and in unison.
  • Sr. Sobala drastically cut back on the amount of sacred polyphony at Mass – there is still some, but nowhere near as much as there used to be.
  • Many choir members have left the parish for Our Lady of Victory, St. Stanislaus, etc. because “our musical talents were being abused.”

Sr. Joan is, to put it mildly, not open to genuinely sacred music. She sees no true need for the venerable antiquity of chant – “we’ve moved beyond that” were her words at one Music Committee meeting, as reported by a certain man wishing to remain anonymous. Why does he wish to remain anonymous? Perhaps it’s because he and his family are clandestinely attending Mass and contributing financially to Our Lady of Victory. The family (and several others like it in the parish) is still registered at St. Anne but, surprise of surprises, they don’t feel nourished with the “adulterated Masses” at St. Anne.

This “music survey” is just another way of making a dictatorship of liberalism appear like a democracy of the laity. It is guaranteed to reduce the role of chant and polyphony, mark my words. The vehemence with which we would replace trash folk tunes if we were in charge of a parish is the same vehemence with which Sr. Sobala intends to deconstruct Fr. Lioi’s “Chant Mass.”

So what will happen if the music program is changed at the 11:00AM “Latin Mass”? I direct your attention to the photo below, showing the recent attendance statistics. Bear in mind that under Fr. Lioi and Fr. Leone, average attendance was anywhere between 900 and 700, with each Mass having no liturgical improprieties. Now, having more than 400 faithful in the pews is akin to a miracle. Liberalism drives away the faithful. They may not know why they don’t like Mass any more, but their souls certainly do.

"For there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!'"

We go to Mass, not to sit there and be talked at, but to be challenged to become better people. That’s what the allure of the Tridentine Latin Mass is – there is a challenge from the Church to be attentive and figure out what exactly is going on. Mass isn’t supposed to be something commonplace enough to grasp readily. It is a celebration of the Sacred Mysteries. Tell me, what music better supports the mysteries of Calvary and the Mass – feel-good folk tunes or Gregorian Chant? We would be vastly more likely to chant the “Dies Irae” on Calvary than “Lord of the Dance.”

And, of course, the average parishioner in the pews will not realize what a slight difference in music will make, or even the ramifications of saying “I like the normal hymns” on the survey. Their ignorance will be used by Sr. Sobala for personal gratification. That is shameful. If the people were properly instructed in the ways of orthodoxy (as they were under Fr.’s Lioi and Leone), this wouldn’t be a problem. The Second Vatican Council NEVER said that folk music or trite hymns and Mass settings be used – it declared that Gregorian Chant had “principum locum” in the Holy Mass. That means “principal place” – not “pride of place” as the liberals tell you. It is to be used above all other worship compositions, and that includes Mozart and Schubert. The Church directs us, from its earliest days even until now, that Gregorian Chant (and before it, Ambrosian and Gallican Chant) and Renaissance Polyphony are absolutely and uniquely suited for our liturgy. We have a treasure in these pieces, and yet our own leaders are spitting on Tradition in order to soothe their own wounded souls, still bleeding from their spiritual assaults in the 60’s and 70’s. Their souls were ravaged by heresy, and we are the ones paying the price, and paying dearly might I add.

Sr. Joan’s liturgy is one of absolute banality. There is no substance, no spiritual nourishment. Yes, Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament, but to discern that easily is to be able to clear away the muck of her irreverence. That’s something few of the remaining parishioners can do.

How apt the words of the psalmist are for those still languishing under Sr. Sobala’s ineptitude at Lourdes and St. Anne:

“Upon the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept: when we remembered Sion: 2 On the willows in the midst thereof we hung up our instruments. 3 For there they that led us into captivity required of us the words of songs. And they that carried us away, said: Sing to us a hymn of the songs of Sion. 4 How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. 6 Let my tongue cleave to my jaws, if I do not remember you: If I make not Jerusalem the beginning of my joy. 7 Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom, in the day of Jerusalem: Who say: Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. 8 O daughter of Babylon, miserable: blessed shall he be who shall repay you your payment which you have paid us. 9 Blessed be he that shall take and dash your little ones against the rock.”

St. George Lithuanian to Move Soon

June 11th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

St. George Lithuanian has been planning to relocate from their present church building on Hudson Avenue for some time. We reported that this move would be to Our Lady of Lourdes church in Brighton. The latest St. Anne/OLoL bulletin states that St. George will offer their first Mass at Lourdes on June 27th at 12 PM. The final liturgy at St. George will be held the week before, on June 20th. There is no mention of what time this closing liturgy will be offered.

Lay Administrators and Church Attendance

June 11th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Just for fun, let’s take a look at the attendance totals this past week at area parishes led by some of our most prominent progressive lay administrators. In parenthesis are the 2003 attendance figures, which are the most recent available numbers published by the Diocese of Rochester. It is worth noting that each of these parishes had a resident priest pastor in 2003.

From the weekend of June 5th/6th, 2010-

Anne-Marie Brogan

  • St. Mary Downtown: 455  (2003: 740, difference: 285)

Nancy DeRycke

  • Church of the Good Shepherd: 611 (2003: 1,183, difference: 573)

Margaret Ostromecki

  • Our Lady Queen of Peace- 447 (2003: 563, difference: 116)
  • St. Thomas More- 476 (2003: 881, difference: 405)

Sr. Joan Sobala

  • Our Lady of Lourdes- 437 (2003: 713, difference 276)
  • St. Anne- 365  (2003: 796, difference 431) … 365 is NOT a typo.

A number of thoughts come into my mind when I look at these figures.

First, assigning a lay administrator to run a parish appears to be a very good way to kill a parish. This is especially true when the lay administrator is an intrusive women’s ordination advocate who likes to give the homily and wear an alb. All of these lay-run parishes have experienced sizable losses. These losses appear to be much worse than most other diocesan parishes have suffered.

Second, Sr. Joan Sobala should be ashamed of herself. She inherited two parishes that were drawing in the mid 600s (at least St Anne was) and she has turned both of them into piles of progressive rubble within a span of two years (three for Lourdes). 375 people at St. Anne? 375?! Attendance at both of these parishes has been averaging in the 430s, so don’t think I’m just picking on them on an off-weekend. This low attendance in Sr. Joan’s cluster has been going on for well over a year.  For the record, the attendance during Sr. Joan’s first week on the job at St. Anne in June of 2008 was 675. That’s a difference of 300 in just two years. Go fertilize other parishes, eh Sister? How is that going for you?

Third, if Bishop Matthew Clark truly wants to show that women can be good priests, then his effort to create a pesudo-priesthood of lay women has failed miserably. The people in the pews are not responding positively to his attempts to put women in charge of priests and parishes. People are fleeing these dens of liberalism in droves. The proof is in the numbers.

Fourth, the Diocese of Rochester has major problems that are not being resolved by this administration. Although these examples above are from some of our more prominent declines, the diocese as a whole is witnessing a significant dip. Is Bishop Clark going to do anything to save this sinking ship, or is he just going to stand there and wave goodbye as the Church in Rochester sinks to the bottom of the murky ocean? The bishop has tried a few things (clustering, lay admins, closures), but each of these solutions have been like firing a gun at the bottom of our metaphorical boat; the sinking is happening much faster.

How about we plug these holes and begin making repairs? How about we try orthodoxy and tradition to keep this ship afloat? How about we stop closing churches unnecessarily, and look for smaller, more manageable clustering of parishes (instead of these ridiculous 3-5 parish clusters). How about we appoint teams of retired priests to lead some parishes? If the bishop has no intention to try to save the Rochester diocese, then he should look at himself in the mirror, and submit his resignation to the Holy Father tomorrow. Bishop Clark can’t be proud of what is happening to the Church in Rochester. Pretty soon there will be no Diocese of Rochester if we don’t act now to save our local Church.