Saturday, April 30, 2016

What was Cardinal Schönborn thinking?

Edward Pentin, "VIDEO — Schönborn: 'Amoris Laetitia' Needs Serious Theological Discussion" (National Catholic Register, April 12, 2016).

Sometimes the implications of an event don't quite come into focus until you encounter the raw visceral reaction of someone who tells you what he, at least, thinks of it. This was the case when a reader emailed me something responding to Cardinal Schönborn's statement (quoted in the above-linked article) that, in response to the Pope's new document, "There will be a 'big theological discussion.'" The emailer asked: "Is that a promise or a threat?" and then continued:
More 'Theology on Tap!'

The takeaway, again, is that little is certain and nothing black and white.

"With this approach, the sacraments “come into another light...”

Beautiful. Move along, no change of doctrine to be seen here.

It's Vatican II all over again. These men can't get enough of these sorts of things.

For all the veneration of the papacy, you have to stop in disturbed amazement to consider its late 20th century legacy:
  • PAUL VI let go of the liturgy
  • JPII redefined the exclusivity of salvation
  • BXVI redefined original sin
    and now
  • FRANCIS lets go of Indissolubility of Marriage
Seriously, is it just me? You don't have to be a sedevacantist -- I'm not -- to say the Chair of Peter is not empty but increasingly think it might as well be. I guess I should shut up and be grateful we don't have female priests or any unions.
Well, the Apostolic Exhortation has certainly received its share of theological discussion in the seminary community of which I am a part, with no sign of abating. I'm not sure whether this is good or bad, but it certainly does strike me as anomalous that so much energy and time should be expended on trying to figure out what the Holy Father said or meant to say.

For the record: Fr. Schmidberger Letter urging SSPX acceptance of regularization

Richard Chonak, "The moment has come to normalize the situation of the Society" (New Liturgical Movement, April 28, 2016) via Rorate:
In February of this year Fr. Franz Schmidberger, rector of the SSPX seminary in Zaitzkofen, Germany, wrote a short essay expressing his reasons, from a personal point of view, for members of the Society to accept a normalization of relations with Church authorities. Here we present an English translation of the document “Thoughts about the Church and the Place of the Society of Saint Pius X in it”.

Under normal circumstances this is a document we would not have published, because NLM has learned that Fr. Schmidberger wrote it as a private communication. He sent it to the SSPX Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, and to a small circle of colleagues, including fellow professors at the seminary. He did not authorize anyone to release it on the internet, let alone to claim incorrectly that he had sent it to all members of the Society; but in recent days both of these have taken place without his consent.

Now that erroneous translations of the text and untrue stories about the document are doing a disservice to innocent readers, Fr. Schmidberger has approved the publication of this authorized translation in English, in order to clear away the errors.

Council of Trent Dominican: blind defense of papacy will undermine its authority

Melchior Cano, the great Dominican theologian from the Council of Trent, said: "Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations." [Source]

As Canonist Edward Peters recently noted, Canon 212.3 is relevant here: "According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, [the Christian faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [Code for bishops] their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons."

Remember: "... with reverence toward their pastors." If they say something you think is stupid, suggest that it's "confusing," "infelicitous" or "unfortunate," and suggest a clearer alternative.

Madrid archbishop bans Cardinal Müller from university because new book is "against the Pope"

From the Eponymous Flower (April 28, 2016):
(Madrid) Pope's confidant as a censor? Madrid Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra forbade Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the faith of the Catholic Church, to present his latest book "Informe sobre la esperanza" (State of Hope) at the Catholic University of San Dámaso present in Madrid. The reasoning? Because it was "a book against the pope."


In Madrid, the Spanish capital, the presentation was to take place at the Archdiocesan University San Dámaso, which doubles as a seminary of the Archdiocese of Madrid. But Archbishop Osoro banned the book launch. He wanted "nothing to do with a book against the pope" said Infovaticana.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Just what the German hierarchy has been waiting for

Sandro Magister, "The German Option of the Argentine Pope" (www.chiesa, April 28, 2016): "Cardinal Kasper and the progressive wing of the Church of Germany have gotten what they wanted. On communion for the divorced and remarried, Francis is on their side. He made up his mind a while ago, and has acted accordingly."

Seminary student: the Tridentine Mass "changed my life"

Sacred Heart Major Seminary theology student, Evan Pham, says of the Tridentine Mass that it "changed my life." Here he shares some of his reasons why as he offers tips for newbies. He told me over lunch recently at Ottavia Via in Detroit that he often invites people to the traditional Latin Mass, and when I asked him how he prepares them for the often disorienting first-time experience, he shared with me some of the points in this video. You can find this video at his website, along with some excellent movie reviews, an archive of holy cards he designed, a 'meme museum', as well as his intriguing novel entitled Little Miss Lucifer, which have just begun reading (interestingly, it has its own 'sound track'). He also has a blog. Enjoy.


Fr. Z's calculation of the world's creation off by approx. 123 million years

In a recent post, entitled "Happy Birthday Universe!" (Fr. Z's Blog, April 27, 2016), Fr. Z writes:
On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe [was] created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler ....
He goes on to relate a great many fascinating details about the life and times of Kepler, including the fact that he is sometimes considered the founder of modern science. In his concluding sentence, however, Fr. Z writes:
As for Kepler’s calculation about the universe’s birthday, scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that his calculations were off by about 13.7 billion years.
Now please forgive me, but I take a fiendish delight in responding to such statistics by pointing out glaring errors when I find them. In his case, as any astro-physicist worth his salt knows, the figure cited above is off by a little over 100 million years. The exact figure can be inferred from the epiriometrics of the brilliant research scientist, A.D. Sokal, in his landmark essay, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" (1995), from which we can conclusively show that Fr. Z's figure is off by 123,857,487 years. The critical calculation is:

In light of which we are compelled to conclude that the Big Bang (and, omnia sint paribus, the creation of the world) occurred approximately 13.8 billion years ago, not 13.7 billion -- or, to be exact, 13,823,857,487 years ago at precisely 3:26 in the afternoon, Eastern Standard Time (anachronistically assuming Greenwich Mean Time existed then). I believe it was raining that afternoon.

In the interests of fair disclosure, my 'fiendish delight' in pointing out such errors stems from my studied skepticism regarding the philosophical conclusions inferred by scientists from their empiriometric and empirioschematic calculations, which are often presumptively taken for reality itself, as amply demonstrated by the physicist Anthony Rizzi in his book, The Science Before Science: A Guide to Thinking in the 21st Century, and by the Gifford Lecturer and Templeton Prize winning physicist, Stanley Jaki, in Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth. My skepticism also extends to the metaphysical claims either stated or implied in "The Grand Evolutionary Story" reiterated ad nauseam by contemporary textbooks of biology, parts of which Alvin Plantinga famously called "pure arrogant bluster."

So thank you, Fr. Z, for allowing me at your expense to skewer a bit of contemporary 'scientific bluster' with a bit of playful bluster of my own. I suppose you could claim that you covered yourself by the insertion of the cautionary term 'about' since 13.8 billion is 'about' 13.7 billion; and that might be true. Then again, would we really have any conclusive way of knowing whether we weren't off by 6-11 billion years, give or take a few hundred million? Or we could just take Stephen Hawking's word for it that it all happened "about 15 billion years ago."

Monday, April 25, 2016

The pagan maiden and the apostate adultress

I thought of titling this post: "Why apostates are so much more worse off than unevangelized pagans." But then I thought of the words above, whose meaning should soon become apparent.

This is a familiar theme among Chesterton readers who know, for example, his quote wherein he declares: "Paganism was the biggest thing in the world, and Christianity was bigger and everything since has been comparatively small." It was a big theme in his book, The Everlasting Man.

It's not surprising that C.S. Lewis also addresses the issue, as one of my students recently pointed out in a term paper. Quoting from C.S. Lewis and Don Giovanni Calibria, The Latin Letters of C.S. Lewis (South Bend, IN: St. Augustin's Press, 2009), p. 90, he writes (first in the Latin, then the English translation):
Hinc status pejor quam illum statum quem habuimus ante fidem receptam. Nemo enim ex Christianismo redit in statum quem habuit ante Christianismum, sed in pejorem: tantum distat inter paganum et apostatam quantum innuptam ed adulteram. Nam fides perficit naturam sed fides amissa corrumpit naturam.

This [present] state is worse than that state which we had before the faith [was] received. For no one from Christianity returns into the state which he had before Christianity, but into a worse one: pagans and apostates differ as much as an unmarried [woman] and an adultress. For faith perfects nature, but faith lost corrupts nature.
Related: Peter Kreeft, "Comparing Christianity & The New Paganism" (

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The satanic underworld of the entertainment industry and politics

Someone was talking about how diabolical influences have infiltrated the music industry, mentioning a few singers' names. I checked out some of their music videos and, whether the symbolism was subtle or overt, I would have to concur. The same is apparently true of large swaths of the movie and entertainment industry. This 'Black Child Production' video [see blow] starts off with some creative use of film clips to enact some of the points made by the narrator. The narrator switches from male to female about a quarter of the way through. But the real kicker comes when she begins referring to specific individuals, groups, and events in the last half of the video [advisory: some explicit sexual language]:

On the one hand, I'm not inclined to believe that the influence of the diabolical is so overt or prevalent as to involve satanic blood sacrifice rituals throughout the mainstream of the entertainment industry. On the other hand, I rather suspect that there are some quarters where well-known individuals are involved in some pretty nasty and evil business.

Just as a test, I picked one of the news articles referenced (at 12:38 on the video), namely "George Clooney’s ‘Astonishing’ Evening in Berlusconi’s Bedroom" (ABC News, October 10, 2011), which begins with this juicy paragraph:
Actor George Clooney is talking about the night he went to Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi’s home - infamous for lavish sex parties – and was invited to the leader’s bedroom. Berlusconi’s bashes have come to be known as “bunga bunga” parties, and Clooney says he got an invite.
I don't make a practice of spending much time in this iniquitous netherworld and its steaming cauldrons of infernal vices and luciferian plots. But I have read enough to know that it has probably infiltrated the circles in which many of our political leaders move. You have surely read about the first President Bush's induction into the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale University. Perhaps you have also read about the Clintons and their trail of dead bodies and unaccountable disappearances in the course of their political rise to power from dubious beginnings in Arkansas.

You may or may not have heard Larry Sinclair's statement before the National Press Club about his cocaine and sex trysts with Barack Obama when he was senator in Chicago, Rev. James Manning's testimony to the same, or the Washington, DC-based investigative journalist Wayne Madsen's report on Obama's involvement in a Chicago gay club called "Man's World," and the convenient deaths of three Chicago gay friends of Obama, one of whom (Donald Young, who was the openly gay choir director at Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ) is claimed by his mother, Norma Jean Young (who worked for Chicago's Police Dept.), to have been murdered to protect secrets of his bisexual lover who became president.

How anyone could be puzzled over Obama's policies while in office is beyond me -- his 'Iran deal', which opens the door to nuclear weapons in the hands of the most notorious promotors of anti-western terrorism in the mideast; his 'evolution' on the issue of gay rights and abandonment of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) in favor of same-sex 'marriage'; his plunging our nation into debt to the point of nearly doubling the debt on the national credit card, now rocketing upwards of $20 trillion; his refusal to acknowledge Islamic terrorism while easily referring to the threat of Christian funamentalist 'terrorism'; ... the list goes on. Whatever one thinks of Dinesh D'Souza, I, for one, consider some of his claims in this short video about Obama pretty compelling, even if he doesn't plumb the spiritual dimension adequately. Americans who re-elected this man to yet a second term are fools, or ignorant, or evil.

So when I listen to NPR and hear polished pundits playing sound bites from Obama and solemnly treating them as 'politics as usual', I get the surreal feeling that I have just stepped into a scene from Last Year at Marienbad. From my point of view, what NPR considers serious reality, I consider facile fiction; and what NPR considers the fetid fever swamps of medieval fantasies about an unseen world of angels and demons, I consider seriously to be the underlying reality of our world. Even on a bad day, J.R.R. Tolkien could tell us more about what's happening in our world than NPR ever could on its best day. He, at least, understood that there are such things as the preternatural diabolical forces represented by Mordor, the corruption of Sarumen, the temptations and delusions of Boromir, and the possibility that rides on them of winning or losing everything.

"Hypocrites!" says Jesus: "You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?" (Luke 12:56)

Tridentine Community News - Benjamin McKinley in St. Vincent de Paul Magazine; historic church moved and rebuilt in new location; TLM Mass times

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (April 24, 2016):
April 24, 2016 – Fourth Sunday After Easter

Benjamin McKinley in St. Vincent de Paul Magazine

Congratulations to St. Benedict Tridentine Community altar server Benjamin McKinley, whose essay, “The Youngest Vincentian”, was published in the St. Vincent de Paul magazine. Benjamin regularly volunteers to help Windsor’s needy by distributing food to the poor. Benjamin follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, Tim McKinley, who coordinates St. Vincent de Paul activities at Holy Name of Mary Church.

Historic Church Moved and Rebuilt in a New Location

In 1997, Detroit’s Gem Theatre set a Guinness World Record for being the farthest building relocation of significant size. Originally located across from the Fox Theatre, the Gem was moved several blocks east when the land had to be cleared for the construction of Comerica Park. The building was put up on dollies and rolled to its new site.

Along similar lines, a few years ago there was talk in the Catholic media that the closed St. Gerard Church in Buffalo, New York was going to be disassembled and moved to Peachtree Corners, Georgia, where it would become the new home of Mary Our Queen Parish. Unfortunately, funds have not yet been raised to purchase and move the church, and the building officially remains listed for sale.

Another lower-profile church relocation project, however, has come to fruition: St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Old Mill Creek, Illinois, near the Wisconsin border, has purchased and relocated the front façade of Chicago’s closed St. John of God Church. The nave of St. John of God was not in good condition and therefore had to be replicated rather than moved. Construction of the new St. Raphael Church is nearing completion, and the result is a traditionally-appointed building inside and out.

The interior furnishings came from a different Chicago church: The High Altar, Side Altars, statues, wood carvings, and pews were taken from the closed St. Peter Canisius.

Why go to all this trouble? The project cost around $10 million, as opposed to an estimated $25 million to build new. Of course, saving components of two historically significant buildings has its own merit. Would we not also give serious consideration were the opportunity presented to relocate one of Detroit’s beautiful but struggling historic churches to one of the suburbs? It’s certainly a better option than tearing them down or watching them decay as abandoned structures. These buildings deserve a brighter future.

With architecture such as this, it may not surprise you to learn that the parish holds periodic Latin Masses, albeit in the Ordinary Form. [Photos by Mark Ukena/Lake County News-Sun]

For more information and photos, visit St. Raphael’s appropriately-named web site,

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 04/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Mark, Evangelist)
  • Tue. 04/26 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Ss. Cletus & Marcellinus, Popes & Martys)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for April 24, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Morality and Taxes

A historical overview of taxation, why past empires were crippled and brought to their knees by overspending and excessive taxation, how our current national debt will impact you very soon. Incredible.

Michael Voris on a Mic'd Up episode discusses the effects of overtaxation on families. Guests include author and radio host William J. Federer, Dr. Walter E. Williams, professor at George Mason University, and Msgr. Owen F. Campion of Our Sunday Visitor. Here: "Morality and Taxes" (Church Militant, April 15, 2016).

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins." These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites. Also please note that St. Joseph's SSPX Chapel in Richmond has moved to Ray Township, at 57575 Romeo Plank Rd., Ray Twp., MI 48096.

**NB: [Update: All St. Joseph's Church Masses have been re-located to St. Josaphat, Detroit, until further notice, due to structural renovations.]

Friday, April 22, 2016

NYC lavender mafia attempts to smear Michael Voris with sins of his gay past to discredit his Church Militant apostolate

Michael Voris has often said that he was saved from a horrible life of sin through the intercession and sacrifices of his mother. Now, having on good authority that the New York archdiocese is collecting and preparing to quietly filter out details of his past 'gay' life with the aim of publicly discrediting him, his apostolate and work in Detroit, he has decided to 'beat the Devil to the punch' and reveal the details. Good for him! May St. Michael defend him.

All this came to my attention through a FB post entitled "Michael Voris: Beating the Devil to the Punch" (AKA Catholic, April 22, 2016). Scroll to the very bottom for Michael Voris' video statement; or see below:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

For the record: a thermonuclear response to Amoris Laetitia

Christopher A. Ferrara, "Amoris Laetitia: Anatomy of a Pontifical Debacle" (Remnant, April 18, 2016), collates reactions on all sides, from Cardinal Burke to Eduardo Echeverria; offers reflection on having to "sift the good from the bad -- again"; then a detailed analysis of Amoris Laetitia, chs. 1-7("Intimations of Subversion"); a penetrating and exhaustive critique of ch. 8 ("An Essay in Subversion"); and, finally, a Conclusion ("Damage Assessment"). Read it and weep.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pope Francis' exhortation to attend to those in irregular relationships, like Trump

A really very clever article by Maggie Gallagher, "Trump's Family Values" (National Review, April 16, 2016):
In his highly anticipated new exhortation The Joy of Love, Pope Francis urges us Catholics to journey with those in irregular relationships and appreciate the good things they can represent.

“I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” he writes. “But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.”

So let me start by attending to Donald J. Trump.

As my regular readers know, I am no fan of Trump’s — indeed, I fall somewhere between #probablyNeverTrump and #NeverTrump on the Republican spectrum. But let me nevertheless say a good word for Trump-family values.

It is true that Trump has discarded two wives, cheated on at least one of them, and (as I have) made a child out of wedlock. But he then married the woman who bore that child, however briefly. He has always supported all of his children financially, unlike many unmarried or irregularly married fathers. And he has managed to create and maintain close relationships with those children despite the barriers to fatherhood imposed by divorce.

They, in turn, are the best part of Donald J. Trump: educated, hardworking, productive, and (in the case of Ivana’s kids, at least) all married with children themselves.

Then something a bit more biting, by Maureen Mullarkey, "Trump: Beau Ideal of Consumer Culture" (Mullarkey: Studio Matters, April 14, 20016).

[Hat tip to JM]

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Book: Catholicity and the Homosexual Heresy

Rollin G. Grams and S. Donald Fortson, III, "Catholicity and the Homosexual Heresy" (B&H Academic Blog, February 4, 2016):
Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere in the history of Christianity. An overview of texts [examined in the book] reveals unequivocally that the Fathers, Reformers, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox churches are unanimous in their condemnation of homoerotic behavior among those who profess Christ as Lord.

Rainbow_flag_breezeIn contrast, in the West a handful of denominations in recent decades have capitulated to the gay Christian movement, and they are currently losing members en masse. They are losing members because the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of gay marriages are wholesale departures from what Scripture and Christian tradition have always taught. The homosexual crisis in the church has become a dividing line between orthodox Christianity and those who no longer confess the faith of the church across the centuries.

The historic witness of the church on the topic of homosexual practice could not be more transparent. The church’s constant verdict on homosexuality is completely reasonable given the unambiguous testimony of Scripture. The historic texts explored in this volume are filled with biblical references because the Bible has always been the final authority behind Christian condemnation of homosexual practice. The historical evidence for a consistently negative assessment of homosexual practice is indisputable. In fact, as evidenced in the texts cited, there are no dissenting voices at all. In light of the unanimous historic witness, it is not surprising that 90 percent of the Christian churches in America find the gay Christian arguments unconvincing. In order to jettison traditional Christian teaching about homosexuality, one would need to identify overwhelming exegetical evidence in Scripture. The lack of dissenting voices in church history confirms that there is no such exegetical evidence.

[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]

Fr. Perrone: psychological & spiritual effects of lack of love for our Savior

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, April 17, 2016):
Once I heard it said, by a Catholic psychiatrist, I believe, that the root cause of all mental illness is the lack of love. It's an idea I'm well-disposed to accept. I observe the suffering of many people of the world at large, and at much closer range of people I know and care a great deal about -- you are among these -- and I'm much troubled over the spiritual want that causes such suffering and agonizing distress. God made the world for love -- for love of Him. When we have the love of God in us, poured into us, as St. Paul would say, by the Holy Spirit, we are then 'right' and consequently are fulfilled. The beauty of love, the poetry of life, the harmony of nature, the ecstasy and serenity of contemplative prayer, the silence and the intoxicating power of music which enraptures the heart, moving it to want to repose in God -- all these spiritually human and properly-speaking divine things are being cut off from our experience in this unloving, ugly, pragmatic, techno world. What can result other than suffering from a stifling of the soul? La tristesse du monde (the French language seems best to convey this: "the sadness of the world"). God's holy word had warned us that all the desires of the world are vanity, a "chasing after the wind." Yet we seem not to be able to escape the entrapment of modern life created by our concupiscences. "Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and teh pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world (1 Jn 2:15-16). St. James remarks similarly: "whosever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (4.4).

The one place of refuge in this unhappy world for us Catholics ought to be in church, at Mass and before the most Blessed Sacrament. As we know so well, even this has often been taken from us, where the Mass is secularized and the tranquility which ought to attend the Blessed Sacrament in our churches and chapels is often ruffled by active busyness and discourteous impudent talking.

I write and speak about these problems of the 'difficulty of being' Catholic in the modern world because I too have to fight off the allurements of the world and of the flesh, and the blandishments of the devil and must run for asylum in the solitary quiet of the Lord's presence where I discover all that my aching heart desires. Those few stabilizing moments of daily prayer are surrounded by the worries, duties, noises and problems of banal existence. I want to fly away like a bird to the mountain (Ps. 10:2) to be at peace with God. This is, I would say, a veiled expression of the desire for heaven itself, a yearning for the plentitude of eternal life for which cause we were created. "Our hearts are restless until they repose in Thee," wrote St. Augustine.

Often when newcomers visit our parish church, or come for Mass here, they note a difference from other churches in finding a certain restfulness (for lack of a better word). I would not say that I am satisfied in having attained to the perfection of this, but I have tried mightily to avoid the most rudely invasive agitators that cause the disquiet in many churches and its liturgies. You yourselves, upon coming into our church, bring in with you, unwittingly, much of the commotion and disturbances you acquired from the world during the past week. It takes time for the sanctifying, calming power of the Lord's words and Presence to do their work to restore the spiritual equilibrium you need to face yet another week of temptation, trial, burden of mundane deportment, and harsh realities of everyday life.

We need so much less of much that we have in order to possess much more of God, of love, of beauty, of serenity -- even of sanity itself. Are we willing to sever those attachments to things we can do without in order to have the greater things and the greatest of all things? It's a question to be pondered and to be acted upon in light of the graces received. God wants us to be at peace, in His holy grace, with our minds and our loves riveted upon Him and upon our eternal goal.

We injure ourselves and cause much unhappiness for ourselves and for others by evading the eternal truths.

Fr. Perrone

Tridentine Community News - Books: How to Avoid Purgatory; All About the Angels; 1st Communions at OCLMA; TLM Masses this week,

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (April 17, 2016):
April 17, 2016 – Third Sunday After Easter

Book Review: How to Avoid Purgatory

Altar server about town James Murphy brought to our attention two books written by the same author, Fr. Paul Sullivan, OP, and republished by TAN Books.

The first, How to Avoid Purgatory, is a small and brief book (39 pages), which first explains the reasons why souls are sent to Purgatory, then provides several means to escape being sent there. In addition to the usual methods one hears, namely regular Confession, Holy Communion, seeking to gain Indulgences, and offering up penances and suffering, Fr. Sullivan recommends explicitly asking God for the grace to avoid Purgatory. Being a Dominican, he also suggests joining the Third Order of St. Dominic, today commonly called the Lay Dominicans, because of the order’s history of devotion to the Holy Souls. He also argues that those who have a devotion to helping the Souls in Purgatory during their lifetime are likely to be shown mercy by God with regards to their own obligations after death.

This reviewer struggles with one aspect of the book: How many of us can honestly say that we don’t deserve at least some time in Purgatory? It’s fine to say that we want to avoid it, but are our souls truly pure enough to merit immediate admission to heaven? The Church gives us the means to do so, even via some exceptional privileges, such as the Apostolic Pardon which can be given by a priest to a person near death, so perhaps it’s not so presumptuous a grace to desire after all.

Book Review: All About the Angels

The second book, All About the Angels, is a lengthier work at 131 pages. It is a fascinating introduction to the work of the Angels among mankind. Fr. Sullivan’s stated objective in writing the book was to foster Catholics’ love for and devotion to their “best friends”, the Angels who defend and support us. Though the book was originally published in 1945, even then the author felt the Church was not doing a satisfactory job of informing the faithful about the presence and actions of the Angels.

He expounds upon the ubiquity and supreme intelligence of the Angels:
Millions and millions of angels fill the Heavens, ministering unto God, but millions and millions of angels are also here on earth, ministering unto us. They are in our midst, around us, about us, everywhere….Were it not for their ever-vigilant protection, the history of the world would be far different, far more calamitous than it has been.
Much of the book is taken up with documenting apparitions of Angels to Saints, kings, and others, in the Bible and throughout history. The author makes the point that Angels are enormously grateful for any appreciation we show them in return, presumably because they are accustomed to being ignored. They welcome prayers and petitions for help, especially our Guardian Angels. Fr. Sullivan proposes the following brief prayer as a sign of gratitude:
Dearest Angels here present, I honor and love you and give thanks to God for all the glory He has given you.
The author recommends that we periodically offer Masses, Rosaries, and Communions to thank and console the Angels. God permitted St. Gertrude to see how grateful the Angels were after she once offered her Holy Communion in honor of the nine choirs of Angels. Fr. Sullivan cautions the reader, however, that Angels cannot help people who are in a state of mortal sin.

Fr. Sullivan maintains that Angels are the ones responsible for the seemingly miraculously saves we occasionally experience from disasters large and small. Angels are also the ones who help Martyrs suffer torture with acceptance, even joy. The Angels provide the supernatural strength the Martyrs require to resist the extreme pain they might otherwise experience.

The fascinating anecdotes and logically deduced advice given in this book make it a highly recommended read. One wonders why the Angels, who are such key intercessors for us, are not mentioned more frequently in homilies, articles, and other educational materials.

First Communions at OCLMA

First Holy Communions will be held for the Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the 9:45 AM Mass on Sunday, May 1 at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The faithful may gain a Plenary Indulgence by being present for a First Communion ceremony, under the usual conditions of Confession within 20 days, reception of Holy Communion, prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions, and freedom from attachment to sin. A reception will follow the Mass.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 04/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria)
  • Tue. 04/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Votive Mass for the Unity of the Church)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for April 17, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins." These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

**NB: [Update: All St. Joseph's Church Masses have been re-located to St. Josaphat, Detroit, until further notice, due to structural renovations.]

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lucifer: Dare we hope that none be saved?

Hmmmm ...

Skojec: Pope's projected persona doesn't reflect his autocratic style of governance

[Advisory: Rules 7-9]

Steve Skojec, "The Dictator of the Vatican" (FP, April 8, 2016):
There is hardly anyone in the world by now who is unfamiliar with the affable, down-to-earth, conspicuously humble persona projected by Pope Francis. His style of governance, however, is a far cry from this carefully cultivated public image. Influenced by the Peronist ideology of his native Argentina, he rules the Roman Catholic Church with the idiosyncratic passions, and disciplined commitment to an agenda, of a true ideologue. And Amoris Laetitia, Francis’s 260-page, nearly 60,000-word, post-synodal apostolic exhortation on marriage and family, which was at long last released on Friday, is the clearest example yet.

[Hat tip to Greg Beckwith]

Friday, April 15, 2016

Amoris Laetitia: Evelyn Waugh would have to re-write Brideshead

Considering the perpetual motion spin machine that Catholic media has now become, Guy Noir imagines an open letter to Fr. Barron beginning like this:
Dear Fr. Barron:

Inquiring Protestants want to know ...

"Evelyn Waugh Would Have to Re-Write Brideshead" (Old Life, April 13, 2016):
Phil Lawler wonders about the pastoral implications of Pope Francis’ pastoral advice in Amoris Laetitia....

... Now notice what happens to priests in these parishes when they meet a couple that has been re-married ... Now imagine the real life (fictional couple) of Rex Mottram and Julia Marchmain ...

... Evelyn Waugh knew that the Church of England had changed (even when dogma hadn’t). Do Roman Catholic apologists think Waugh wouldn’t notice this?

Entertainment Tonight: "It's a new time" ...

Coming to you courtesy of Guy Noir - Private Eye ...

Jackson McHenry, "The Rolling Stones Perform in Cuba for the First Time" (Vulture, March 26, 2016):

The Strolling Bones, who recently performed in Cuba

"This is a new time," Mick Jagger told the crowd...

Indeed. In other recent news:
  • White House appoints first gay Army secretary
  • Lands End honors Gloria Steinem
  • Pope Emeritus' confirms official abandonment of basic Catholic missionary impulse
  • Beyonce performs anti-police number at NFL Superbowl
  • Republican debaters join Democrats in focusing on best ways to increase federal spending
  • Vatican floods bones of St. Peter burial site with environmental light show
  • US Post Office unveils postages stamps featuring Marge Simpson and Harry Potter

Head of USCCB media arm shows his true colors

Christine Niles, "Head of Bishops' New Outfit Resigns Amid Controversy" (Church Militant, April 14, 2016). No kidding ... He was finally asked to step down from CNS after it became public knowledge that he was promoting an LGBT agenda on social media. Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute first broke the story.

[Hat tip to JM]

Welcoming converts and reverts to a hijacked church

How is it possible? It's certainly tough. Anne Roth Muggeridge, in Desolate City, even admits to times when she and others felt inclined to discourage inquirers from seeking church membership, simply because of all the confusion. When you're read enough to see that many of the practices and beliefs encountered in typical suburban parishes are simply not Catholic, the task is even more daunting. What to do ...

In this one-and-a-half minute free video clip, Michael Voris brings an uncomfortably clear focus to the issue.

Converts or reverts undergo a life-changing experience and seize upon the nearest suburban 'Church of Nice' parish as a God-sent answer, completely oblivious to the fact that the parish is riddled with abuses. Then someone comes along and points out that this isn't the way things are supposed to be. You're asking people to make, first, a psychological jump from a way of viewing the world that was completely un-Christian to a new Christian worldview; and then you're asking them to make another jump because this new Christian life in the local AmChurch parish is also filled with errors. This is asking a lot of a person psychologically; and as Michael Voris suggests, it is fraught with dangers.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Monica M. Miller examines the fallout from 'Zikagate'

Monica Migliorino Miller, "A Virus, a Crisis" (New Oxford Review, April 2016)

Monica Migliorino Miller, a Professor of Theology, earned a Doctorate in Theology from Marquette University. She is the Director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and the author of Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars (St. Benedict Press, 2012) and, more recently, The Authority of Women in the Catholic Church (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2015).  

The headline in The New York Times said it all: “[Pope] Francis Says Contraception Can Be Used to Slow Zika” (Feb. 19). Who in the history of Christianity would have thought that we would ever see a headline claiming that a sitting Pope has contradicted Church teaching? So, what exactly did the Pope say? Here is an English transcript of Francis’s exchange with a Spanish reporter, in its entirety, provided by the Catholic News Agency (Feb. 18), that took place during the Pope’s hour-long press conference on his return flight from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to Rome:
Paloma García Ovejero: Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women [who are potentially at risk of delivering children with a defect of the brain called microcephaly]. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils”?
Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the “lesser evil,” avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.
Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem; it is a human problem; it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best-case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no? It’s against the Hippocratic Oath doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning. No, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.
On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Bl. Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.
Francis’s comments on abortion are arguably the strongest of any pontiff. He compared the killing of the unborn to, of all things, Mafia tactics (“to throw someone out in order to save another”), and he called abortion a “crime” and an “absolute evil.” His stance is clear and unequivocal.

Unfortunately, the Pope’s strong condemnation of abortion has been almost completely overlooked due to his confused and equivocal statements regarding contraception. It is clear that Francis has the ability to speak plainly in defense of Church teachings, at least when his convictions regarding those teachings are heartfelt. Yet on the subject of contraceptive use in crisis situations, Francis made statements that lead one to conclude that he believes such use is morally licit, contrary to Catholic moral doctrine. Let us examine his exchange with the Spanish reporter.

Fr. Eduard Perrone: past and present

I have heard some suggest that if this were today, he could pass for one of our Chaldean seminarians!

Fr. Eduard P. Perrone, ordained for the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1978

Rev. Eduard Perrone in 2011, and as he is today, the pastor of Assumption Grotto Church

Bishops who simply watch from the sidelines

So suggests Phil Lawler in his article, "In Georgia's religious-freedom debate, Catholic bishops sit on the sidelines" (, April 7, 2016).

"And how did the Catholic bishops of Georgia respond to this disgraceful claim that the Christian faith is a form of bigotry? Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta and Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah announced blandly: 'Gov. Nathan Deal has announced his intention to veto H.B. 757 and the debate will, thus, continue.'”

Ugh. How lame. He won't even take sides in a fight where the other guy is trying to kill him?

Then there's this from a fellow college professor in another part of the country:
At the ... socially conservative college where I teach, after years of stonewalling, the administration has finally approved the charter of an LGBT student group. The school also sponsors the National Black Ministers Conference, one at which Obama spoke when he was campaigning. Sense the strange cultural cross currents? Anyway, kids are thrilled, and last night I walked across campus behind a couple of young ladies holding hands. In an advertising class I supervise, Target asked to sponsor a competition for ad design in which the students conceptualize and develop a campaign celebrating the chain's pro-LGBT stance. New world. But why should I or anyone blink or twitch, when "everyone knows the Church's teaching." (And no one believes in mortal sin any more than they understand String Theory).

Where are we now in terms of 'Building a Civilization of Love'?
Here's the kind of bishop we need:

And here's the kind of bishops we don't need:

"Bad papal eggs"

Joseph Martin, "Bad Papal Eggs" (Imprimatur, April 13, 20106):
The ever irenic Fr. Geo. Rutler breaks an egg or two... [referring to George Rutler's "The Curate’s Egg: A Reflection on Amoris Laetitia" (Crisis, April 13, 2016), which follows]:
There was a Victorian member of the Royal Academy who boasted that his paintings were the best because they were the biggest. More perceptively, Cicero and Pascal and Madame Recamier and Mark Twain made opposite apologies: each had written a long letter because they did not have the time to write a short one. Not only is verbosity indicative of muddled thinking, it is the rhetorical indulgence of the modern age. The documents of the Second Vatican Council are wordier than the extant records of all the other ecumenical councils combined. The recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, is nearly two-thirds the length of all the Vatican II promulgations.

The literary quality of Amoris Laetitia does not challenge the claim that the Authorized Version, or King James’s Bible, is the only successful work of art composed by a committee.In his encyclical celebrating Pope Gregory I, Iacunda Sane, Pope Pius X makes a point of the way that great pope’s clarity of thought issued in the beauty of his Latinity. That thought also posed no contradiction between truth and mercy: “It will certainly be the part of prudence to proceed gradually in laying down the truth, when one has to do with men completely strangers to us and completely separated from God. ‘Before using the steel, let the wounds be felt with a light hand,’ as Gregory said (Registr. v. 44 [18] ad Joannem episcop.).

Bishop: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr. Jones.” Curate: “Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent.” (From the November 9, 1895 issue of Punch, illustrated by George du Maurier.)

But even this carefulness would sink to mere prudence of the flesh, were it proposed as the rule of constant and everyday action…” (n. 26).Much, perhaps too much, has already been said about this apostolic exhortation, often revealing as much about the commentators as their commentaries. It is true that there are parts of it that are eloquent, but most of them are quotations of God and Saint Paul. The Word does have a way with words, and the charity of the Apostle gave him the tongue of an angel. In contrast, there are a lot of gongs clanging and cymbals clashing in the contradictions and redundancies of much of the exhortation’s diction.

Parts like the affirmation of Humanae Vitae settle the text in the sacred tradition, but there is also the muddled treatment of moral culpability that almost nods to the neuralgic interpretation of the “fundamental option” theory rejected by St. John Paul II (Veritatis Splendor, nn.65, 67). This had been addressed earlier by a formal declaration of the Holy See: A person’s moral disposition “can be completely changed by particular acts, especially when, as often happens, these have been prepared for by previous more superficial acts. Whatever the case, it is wrong to say that particular acts are not enough to constitute a mortal sin” (Persona Humana, December 29, 1975, No. 10).

A lack of clarity in the text might endorse the conceit already expounded in some media interviews, which says contrition is not a necessary element in petitioning for mercy. Any parish priest should wonder at the description of the confessional as a torture chamber. While it is only human when conflicted by guilt and uncertainty to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with trepidation, the radiance of that sacrament is inestimable in the life of the typical priest and penitent alike, and the agony of many souls and of the Church in our day can be traced in great measure to neglect of the gracious confessional. Speaking only of my own parish, in my confessional is a picture of the Prodigal Son and not the Grand Inquisitor. Dramaturgic references like that to torture are straw horses, and a straw horse is the rhetorical device of a weak argument. It was characteristic of the aforementioned Pope Gregory the Great, a systematic thinker, that he abstained from mocking his opponents, and did not advertise humility. By grace, God can help all of us emulate that to some modest extent so long as we submit to the realities of revealed and natural law.

In describing natural law, it is fascinating that the Catechism cites Cicero of pagan Rome, the same Cicero who did not have time to write a short letter (and the Robert Harris novel Dictator about him is worth reading): “For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense… To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely” (n. 1956). Cicero’s own domestic life was not unblemished, but neither was the marital fidelity of that other orator Martin Luther King, Jr., who is quoted in the exhortation, but the principle, if not the practice, obtains.

As usual, Douthat is outstanding: 'Defense of Catholic Marriage'

Ross Douthat, "A Defense of Catholic Marriage" (New York Times, April 11, 2016).

[Hat tip to JM]

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Although this should go without saying ...

As Canonist Ed Peters points out, "The law before 'Amoris' is the law after" (In the Light of the Law, April 10, 2016):
Holy Communion is to be withheld from divorced-and-remarried Catholics in virtue of Canon 915 which, as has been explained countless times, does not require Catholic ministers to read the souls of would-be communicants, but rather, directs ministers to withhold holy Communion from those who, as an external and observable matter, “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2384 describes civil remarriage after divorce as “public and permanent adultery” (something obviously gravely sinful), so, if Francis had wanted to authorize the administration of holy Communion to divorced-and-remarried Catholics (and he did not want to repudiate CCC 2384, 1650, etc.) he would have had to have wrought a change in the law contained in Canon 915.

Tridentine Community News - Retired Bishop celebrates TLM exclusively; Jackson Tridentine choir YouTube channel; bowing head as sign of reverence; EWTN Live with Extraordinary Faith rescheduled; TLM schedule this week

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (April 10, 2016):
April 10, 2016 – Second Sunday After Easter

Retired Bishop Celebrates Tridentine Mass Exclusively

Exclusively In the April 6, 2016 edition of The Vortex on, retired Bishop René Gracida of Corpus Christi, Texas makes the surprising statement at 3:35 in the video that he now celebrates the Extraordinary Form exclusively, because of deficiencies he has come to perceive in the Ordinary Form. While several bishops in North America are regular celebrants of the Extraordinary Form, this is the first known instance of one eschewing the Ordinary Form entirely. Of course His Excellency’s being retired frees him from the duties that would otherwise make taking such a stance impossible.

Bishop Gracida has led a fascinating life, having been among other things a Benedictine monk, an architect, a cattle rancher, and a pilot. He published an autobiography which explains all of these ventures: An Ordinary’s Not So Ordinary Life, available on

Jackson Tridentine Choir YouTube Channel Yet another impressive development from the Tridentine Mass community at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Jackson, Michigan: Their choir has begun to post recordings on YouTube, under the channel name, St. Mary Star of the Sea Schola. This choir consists of approximately 10 voices, many of whom are professional choir directors from the Jackson area. It has quickly developed into one of the most proficient Latin Mass choirs in Michigan. Listen to their recordings here:

Bowing the Head as a Sign of Reverence

This past Tuesday, April 5, Arturo Ortiz of the Walking in the Desert blog published an interesting article about the tradition of bowing one’s head at the mention of certain holy names. Before we get in to the specifics, it is worth mentioning the difference between rubric and custom: What is defined by rubric is mandatory. What is a matter of local or regional custom falls into the category of pious but optional action. The article points out that not only in the Extraordinary Form, but also in the Ordinary Form of Holy Mass, it is the rubric that the celebrant bow his head at: 1) Each instance when all three members of the Holy Trinity are mentioned together, such as during the Glória Patri; 2) When our Lord’s Name, Jesus, is said [bow toward the altar crucifix in the EF]; 3) When our Lady’s name is said [bow toward the altar missal in the EF]; and 4) When the name of the Saint of the day is said [bow toward the altar missal in the EF]. It is the custom for altar servers and those in the congregation to do the same.

It is also a laudable custom that the faithful make a bow of the head when our Lord’s Name is heard or said is daily life. Such a habit fosters a devotion to the Most Holy Name. The article asserts that the Second Council of Lyons, in 1274 A.D., actually elevated this practice to a law of the Church, though today it would be hard to argue that it is more than a custom.

A touching story from another article is included in this blog post, in which a writer explains his father’s habit of bowing when holy names were mentioned. That writer also revealed a simple, but most pious practice: When his father heard the Lord’s Name said in vain in daily conversation, he would quietly make the Sign of the Cross over his heart and whisper, “Have mercy on us.” This simple action changed the incident from one of potential blasphemy to one of supplication. Would that we all had such heartfelt devotion ourselves.

The full article may be read here:

EWTN Live with Extraordinary Faith Rescheduled

EWTN has rescheduled the episode of EWTN Live which will feature Extraordinary Faith host and Tridentine Community News editor Alex Begin for Wednesday, May 4 at 8:00 PM. It will also be re-run on Thursday, May 5 at 1:00 AM and 9:00 AM, and Sunday, May 8 at 4:00 AM. It will also be viewable on-demand for several weeks thereafter on the EWTN Live web page, on Roku, and on the EWTN Android and iOS apps.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 04/11 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Leo the Great, Pope, Confessor, & Doctor)
  • Tue. 04/12 7:00 PM: High Requiem Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Daily Mass for the Dead)
  • Sat. 04/16 11:00 AM: High Mass at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Seminary Shrine Chapel, Orchard Lake (Saturday of Our Lady)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for April 10, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Pope's encyclical in the age of sound bites

Steve Skojec, from the website 1Peter5, squared off with Monsignor Kieran Harrington, Vicar for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn with Sandra Smith of Fox & Friends. Now think: this is what the Church's Magisterium comes down to for most of the Catholic and secular public. Not even time for one to finish a thought.

In fact, on the second run through this video, Msgr. Harrington's comment elevating a relationship with Jesus Christ as primary and the law as "what comes afterwards" sounds positively Lutheran. Gospel vs. Law; love vs. justice; Simul iustus et peccator. Luther couldn't have put it more clearly himself. Thing is, in the Catholic view, law and justice are themselves expressions of God's love and mercy. Very un-Lutheran. But how's anyone to fathom that these days? It might take more than a sound bite.

Pope Invites Bernie Sanders to Speak at Vatican???

Guy Noir told me he thought this was satire at first, but then decided it was not. Living under the aegis of the 'God of surprises,' I suppose almost anything can happen these days: Larry Mcshane, "Bernie Sanders insists he didn't lobby for Vatican invite" (New York Daily News, April 8, 2016):
The Bernie Sanders camp swears on a stack of Bibles: The senator’s invite to the Vatican next week came from a higher power — not political pressure.

A beaming Sanders, declaring he was a “big, big fan” of kindred spirit Pope Francis, announced Friday morning that he was asked to attend the April 15 papal conference on social, economic and environmental issues.
And then, there's this: "Papal official denies report Sanders invited himself to Vatican" (Reuters, April8, 2016):
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was invited to speak at an April 15 Vatican event by the Vatican, a senior papal official said on Friday, denying a report that Sanders had invited himself.

"I deny that. It was not that way," Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo told Reuters in a telephone interview while he was traveling in New York. Sorondo, a close aide to Pope Francis, is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which is hosting the event.
Go figure.

Fr. Perrone: recollections of Mother Angelica

In the two most recent issues of "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, April 3 & 10, 2016), Fr. Eduard Perrone  discusses Mother Angelica and her visits to Detroit, her participation in the 1996 Call to Holiness Conference, her invitation for the Assumption Grotto parish choir to performe Mozart's Coronation Mass at the dedication of her monastery church in Alabama, and her last visit to Detroit and to Assumption Grotto.

From the April 3rd issue:
God often accomplishes His finest works with humblest means. This is a theme running throughout Sacred Scripture. The prodigious accomplishments of Mother Angelica in propagating, defending and preserving the Catholic faith have changed the course of the Church in our time, in the USA, and over the whole globe. That’s saying an awful lot, I know, but I can’t refrain from asserting it. One would have had to live through those dark, uncertain, and even frightening days after Vatican Council II to appreciate fully the recovery of theological sanity, doctrinal stability, reverence and piety that began to emerge from the rubble of those distressing times. While Mother Angelica and her works were not the only factors enabling the revival of real Catholicism -- a work, we might add, yet in progress -- yet she was indeed a mighty force that helped cut through the thick, multi-layered controls which had prohibited the reforms intended by Vatican II. Dissidents were in charge of nearly everything–seminaries and religious education, liturgical movements and publications, chancery bureaucracies and priests’ councils, social media, Catholic schools and universities, local parish staffs. The clergy had made a general turn towards a destructive modernism which manifested itself in every aspect of Catholic life. The sufferers of all this, constrained to keep a respectful silence, were Catholic laity who struggled to keep faith, confidently trusting–in a laudable, if misplaced, loyalty–that they were being led aright. They had been told that this strange, new kind of Catholicism had been officially mandated by Christ’s Church. Thus the tension arose: fidelity and obedience to a Church which was manifestly odd and erroneous. Strong voices were raised in protest. I remember Catholics United for the Faith which valiantly tried to hold back dissent and teach truth. Father John Hardon’s great Catholic Catechism cleared much of the theological air that had infected doctrinal studies. It was, however, the emergence of the great pontificate of (Saint) John Paul II over the whole Church along with the apostolate of Mother Angelica in the communications media that turned things around towards a recovery of authentic Catholic faith and practice.

My association with Mother came about this way. As the newly installed pastor of Assumption Grotto Church, I had been invited to appear on Mother Angelica Live because our outdoors Lourdes Grotto somehow came to her attention. This was back in 1994. Although I had heard much about this bold and influential nun, I had never seen her TV program. After a brief introduction and prayer in the studio, we were to go onto the set and speak about heaven-knows-what. Mother and I got along fabulously, as they say. Immediately I felt comfortable in her presence because of the one thing we held most dear: love for the Catholic faith. An unexpected upshot of this TV appearance was a big boost in the prominence of our parish nationally and locally.

Our next great meeting was in regard to the formation of the first Call To Holiness Conference in 1996. For those who do not know, the story runs that the major dissident national ‘Catholic’ organization at the time was Call To Action, a wealthy, pestiferous monster born in our own Archdiocese in the later 1960s. It had graciously moved out of Detroit and into Chicago but had now planned to make a comeback to its native Detroit for a homecoming. Wondering over what to do about this troubling prospect, and rather confident that nothing would be done to stop it from our diocesan bureaucrats, I decided to hold a day of reparation in our church before the exposed Blessed Sacrament. I mentioned my idea to Fr. Hardon who was delighted with the proposal. Contact was then made with Fr. Joseph Fessio of Ignatius Press who said that this local countermove was far too little but that I should “go big” with the whole thing. I asked Fr. Hardon if he would invite Mother Angelica to come to the event and speak (Father had been her spiritual advisor). After prayer, Mother agreed to come. She made the day. Our Conference was a major anti-dote to the toxic offerings of Call To Action. It was, I would say, a great hit. Mother was to return to Detroit twice more for CTH Conferences, making a great impact on the people of the Archdiocese and of the whole country as well.

My last involvement with Mother came upon the dedication of her ‘temple,’ the new monastery church she had built for her Order in Alabama. When the dedication date for opening the new chapel had to be delayed due to construction set-backs, Mother found that the musical program she wanted for the dedication Mass couldn’t go ahead. Alabama’s local choirs and orchestral musicians had made other commitments for the new opening date. Mother appealed to her TV audience for help. Was there a choir out there that could sing Mozart’s Coronation Mass for the dedication? Briefly put, we were able to fill the bill. Mother flew our parish choir down to Alabama, put us up in a motel, fed us and carted us about on a chartered bus. Our part was to have a single rehearsal with local orchestral musicians and to sing the opening Mass. It was a memorable event, of course, and Mother, with all that must have been on her mind those days, gave us a generous amount of personal attention. My favorite moment was during the singing of the Agnus Dei when I saw Mother’s head peeking out behind us to see what she was hearing. Evidently she was pleased. After Mass she met with us to thank us personally. Needless to say, we were overcome with gratitude ourselves.

Following the days of her increasing debilitation I had often thought of inviting her back to Detroit, if only to be seen once again (she could no longer speak) and receive a warm and generous public thanks for all she had done for the Church in her ever-so-fruitful religious life. I realized that this would not have been possible. She was perhaps doing more than ever by her silent prayer and personal suffering than she had done in active apostolate. News of her death brought me the happiness of thinking that she had finally finished the work God had asked of her and was moving towards reaping the harvest of her tireless labors.

You must pardon me for mentioning only these select things about this remarkable woman of faith. I’m aware that she did a great deal more in her writings (her inspiring pamphlets were loaded with sound doctrine), in her radio and TV network (which today, as EWTN, did so much to  brighten the face of a depressed Catholicism worldwide), and in the founding of her religious communities which continue to steady, purify and strengthen the Church through the sacrificial lives of her many spiritual children. 
Mother Angelica, may your warm and lovely smile glow with the heavenly radiance of the One you served so well on earth. We thank Him for your inspiring and inspired religious life. Rest, Mother, but do not neglect to pray for us.
From the April 10th issue:
Last week, in writing my recollections of Mother Angelica, I forgot to mention that she visited our parish and our Lourdes Grotto.  It was at a time in her life when she still had difficulty walking with a walker, and so I had to drive Mother (with Deacon Bill) in my car up to the Grotto.  Mother got out and prayed for a while.  Photos were taken of which we can't find a good clear copy to print here for you.  The significance of this visit?  It was our cherished moment of the meeting of Our Lady with one of Her devoted clients.  This is what prayer is always, if only we were conscious of it.  I thought you would have wanted to know about this little, forgotten incident which had escaped my memory when I wrote to you last Sunday.

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week









* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins." These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

**NB: [Update: All St. Joseph's Church Masses have been re-located to St. Josaphat, Detroit, until further notice, due to structural renovations.]