Monday, December 25, 2017

A Christmas Reflection

It's time to reconsider the reason for the season and the challenges offered by the drive-by "experts" of the day who intend to cast the entire Biblical narrative concerning the Blessed Nativity into doubt. Consider again the Biblical narrative:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pas, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter Two, Verses 13-20)

Here we are again, on the first day of the Christmas season. It has become something of a Christmas tradition for me to engage the following text by C.S. Lewis in connection with the above quoted Scriptures. The reason will be obvious.

Nearly every Christmas, it seems, NEWSWEEK or TIME or some television special will feature the "latest scholarship" questioning the "authenticity" of the Christmas story. I am not concerned with the question about whether the Nativity of our Lord occurred on December 25th. That's a matter of Church tradition and incidental to my concerns here. What concerns me is how the Biblical narrative itself is invariably called into question or even dismissed as mere "myth" -- the account of the shepherds, the Angelic host, the Christ Child in a manger, the Star and the Magi from the East, Herod's slaughter of the innocents, the flight of Mary and Joseph and the Christ Child into Egypt, etc.

The scholarly authorities typically interviewed, whether Catholic or Protestant, are consistently and incorrigibly one-sided, quite thoroughly corrupted by the Humean and Kantian philosophical presuppositions undergirding the historical-critical reading of the Biblical narrative. Typical is the website, where Internet browsers frequent to learn "the facts" about this or that -- a site where one finds this sort of thinking gone to seed in an article by Austin Cline, "Nativity vs Gospels: Are the Gospels Reliable About Jesus' Birth?" (, where the partisan skepticism of such historical critical assumptions is abundantly evident in his suggestions that all the key ingredients of the Nativity story in the Gospels were concocted fictions of various kinds.

The lack of critical circumspection, if not patent fantasy, in all of this would be amusing if it were not so destructive. The upshot is always the same: that the Gospel writers are unreliable and not to be trusted, and certainly not to be taken at face value. Just how ludicrous this all is, however, can be seen easily by anyone with a modicum of familiarity with literature, mythology, and history. One of the best examples of a powerful antedote to this kind of foolishness -- and one I keep using because it is simple -- is a little essay by C.S. Lewis entitled "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism," which is available in a collection of essays by Lewis entitled Christian Reflections (1967; reprinted by Eerdmans, 1994). The following are some excerpts from Lewis' essay, which begins on p. 152 and contains four objections (or what he calls "bleats") about modern New Testament scholarship:
1. [If a scholar] tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour...

I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one [of the stories in the Gospel of John, for example] is like this... Either this is reportage - though it may no doubt contain errors - pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative...

2. All theology of the liberal type involves at some point - and often involves throughout - the claim that the real behaviour and purpose and teaching of Christ came very rapidly to be misunderstood and misrepresented by his followers, and has been recovered or exhumed only by modern scholars... The idea that any... writer should be opaque to those who lived in the same culture, spoke the same language, shared the same habitual imagery and unconscious assumptions, and yet be transparent to those who have none of these advantages, is in my opinion preposterous. There is an a priori improbability in it which almost no argument and no evidence could counterbalance.

3. Thirdly, I find in these theologians a constant use of the principle that the miraculous does not occur... This is a purely philosophical question. Scholars, as scholars, speak on it with no more authority than anyone else. The canon 'if miraculous, unhistorical' is one they bring to their study of the texts, not one they have learned from it. If one is speaking of authority, the united authority of all the Biblical critics in the world counts here for nothing.

4. My fourth bleat is my loudest and longest. Reviewers [of my own books, and of books by friends whose real history I knew] both friendly and hostile... will tell you what public events had directed the author's mind to this or that, what other authors influenced him, what his over-all intention was, what sort of audience he principally addressed, why - and when - he did everything... My impression is that in the whole of my experience not one of these guesses has on any one point been right; the method shows a record of 100 per cent failure.

The 'assured results of modern scholarship', as to the way in which an old book was written, are 'assured', we may conclude, only because those who knew the facts are dead and can't blow the gaff... The Biblical critics, whatever reconstructions they devise, can never be crudely proved wrong. St. Mark is dead. When they meet St. Peter there will be more pressing matters to discuss.

However... we are not fundamentalists... Of course we agree that passages almost verbally identical cannot be independent. It is as we glide away from this into reconstructions of a subtler and more ambitious kind that our faith in the method wavers... The sort of statement that arouses our deepest scepticism is the statement that something in a Gospel cannot be historical because it shows a theology or an ecclesiology too developed for so early a date...

Such are the reactions of one bleating layman... Once the layman was anxious to hide the fact that he believed so much less than the Vicar; he now tends to hide the fact that he believes so much more...
Lewis, of course, was hardly a naive ignoramus. He knew all the critical objections to Christianity because for the first part of his life he was himself a confirmed agnostic. He was anything but "soft-minded," to use the Jamesian idiom. He taught philosophy at Oxford briefly before going on to teach Medieval and Renaissance literature at Magdalen College, Oxford, and conclude his prolific academic career teaching at Cambridge. An account of his conversion can be found in his Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life,in which we find the following quotation:
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation. (emphasis added)
Lewis, an Anglican, was a man of deep Catholic habit of mind, probably because of his immersion in medieval literature; and many have wondered why he never himself crossed the Tiber. Walker Percy even compared him to Moses, who led many others to the Promised Land, though never himself crossing over. A number of books have been written about this, like Joseph Pearce's C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church,and Christopher Derrick's C.S.Lewis and the Church of Rome.The most probable reason is cultural: his father was an Ulsterman. Whatever the reason, his common sense criticisms of those Biblical "experts" who attempt to dismantle the entire Biblical narrative under the influence of Enlightenment prejudices, can be accepted with gratitude.

For further reading: Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Tridentine Community News - New Year's Day Mass Schedule; Blessing of Epiphany Water & Salt; Blessing of Candles; Regina Magazine Publishes First Print Edition; Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (December 24, 2017):
December 24, 2017 – Vigil of Christmas

New Year’s Day Mass Schedule

The Octave of Christmas, also known as the Feast of the Circumcision, January 1, is usually a Holy Day of Obligation in both the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced that it will not be of obligation this year, however the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has made no such announcement. Nevertheless local Latin Mass sites will be holding special Masses on January 1 as follows:
  • St. Joseph: 9:00 AM [Low Mass], 11:00 AM
  • St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport: 12:00 Midnight [yes, midnight]
  • Assumption Grotto: 9:30 AM
  • Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel: 9:45 AM
  • St. Benedict Tridentine Community at Holy Name of Mary Church, Windsor: 2:00 PM
Blessing of Epiphany Water & Salt

Epiphany Water will be blessed before Mass and distributed after Mass on Sunday, January 7. The blessing will start at 9:10 AM at the Oakland County Latin Mass Association/Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Bloomfield Hills, and at 1:20 PM at St. Benedict/Holy Name of Mary Church in Windsor. This is a lengthy exorcism and blessing, taking approximately 30 minutes. Bring bottles if you would like to take some Epiphany Water home. A limited number of small bottles will be available for those without their own.

Blessing of Candles

The Christmas season is a good time to remind everyone that it is a laudatory custom to use candles at home that have been blessed according to the Traditional Roman Ritual, which our celebrants are happy to do after Mass. There is a special prayer of blessing of candles for the Feast of the Purification (February 2), but the normal blessing, below, may be used on any other day of the year. Rich in meaning, this blessing must be performed in Latin; an English translation is provided here for reference.
℣. Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini.
℟. Qui fecit cælum et terram.
℣. Dóminus vobíscum.
℟. Et cum spíritu tuo.
Dómine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, béne+dic candélas istas supplicatiónibus nostris: infúnde eis, Dómine, per virtútem sanctæ Cru+cis, benedictiónem cæléstem, qui eas ad repelléndas ténebras humáno géneri tribuísti; talémque benedictiónem signáculo sanctæ Cru+cis accípiant, ut, quibuscúmque locis accénsæ, sive pósitæ fúerint, discédant príncipes tenebrárum, et contremíscant, et fúgiant pávidi cum ómnibus minístris suis ab habitatiónibus illis, nec præsúmant ámplius inquietáre, aut molestáre serviéntes tibi omnipoténti Deo: Qui vivis et regnas in saécula sæculórum.
℟. Amen.

[The candles are sprinkled with Holy Water.]

℣. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
℟. Who made heaven and earth.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, bless + these candles at our request. By the power of the holy Cross, + bestow a heavenly blessing on them, O Lord, Who didst give them to mankind to dispel the gloom. Empowered with the seal of Thy holy Cross, + let the spirits of darkness depart trembling and fly in fear from all places where their light shines, and never more disturb nor molest those who serve Thee, the almighty God, Who livest and reignest forevermore.
℟. Amen.
Regina Magazine Publishes First Print Edition

For several years, Regina Magazine has been an on-line only publication. With much the same mission as Extraordinary Faith, Regina seeks to expose the beauty of Catholic Tradition through its reporting and high-quality photography. It has been and still is free to receive and read on-line. For the first time, however, Regina has published a glossy print edition, which can be ordered at the below address for $9.99 + $3.00 shipping:

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 12/25 – Christmas Day:
    • St. Joseph: 12:00 Midnight [Choir will sing Solemn Mass in A by César Franck], 9:00 AM [Low Mass], 11:00 AM
    • St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport: 12:00 Midnight
    • Assumption Grotto: 12:00 Midnight [Choir will sing Paukenmesse by Haydn and Magnificat by Schubert], 9:30 AM
    • Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel: 9:45 AM [Choir will sing Missa Sancti Nicolai by Haydn]
    • St. Benedict Tridentine Community at Holy Name of Mary Church, Windsor: 2:00 PM [Choir will sing Missa Sancti Nicolai by Haydn]
  • Tue. 12/26 7:00 PM: High Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (St. Stephen, Deacon & Protomartyr)
  • Sat. 12/30 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas)
[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 December 24, 2017. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming Christmas week to metro Detroit and eastern Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Sunday (Fourth Sunday in Advent, Christmas Eve)

Monday (Christmas Day)






* 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," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fr. Perrone on the ground of our hope and certitude

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, December 18, 2017)
No matter what some people might think of our parish, there is no regnant idea here of being the sole surviving remnant of true Catholicism, the last of the hardliners on Church doctrine -- theological and moral -- or on the liturgy. The truth is that we try merely to be faithful, as our Lord demands His disciples to be, of all He has given us. I like to think of this kind of conservatism as 'preservatism,' an appreciation and custody of what is most to be valued, rather than a stiff, desperate inflexibility. In fact, those who fit the ideal I believe directed by our faith are often (not always) the most reasonable, understanding, gracious, tolerant, and -- within limits -- accommodating people there are, liberal-minded people of a kind fast fading from the scene. There are, on the other hand, sternly rigid and harshly restrictive, dogmatically closed-minded folk of political correctness for whom there must be unbending conformity to the prevailing opinions of those who set the standard for culturally accepted norms. Those norms -- decidedly leftist -- will not admit disavowal by those upholding the perennial validity of an inherited body of intellectual truths and moral precepts.

There need not be an apology for wholeheartedly embracing the tradition of religious, philosophic, and moral truth. It is a precious inheritance which has been entrusted to our care, to be preserved for successive generations -- to Christians in particular. This legacy obliges those who recognize its worth to safeguard it from any who may dilute or abolish it. With regard to our parish, this means that we continue to teach doctrinal truths, that we covetously preserve our liturgical tradition, and that we insist on enduring moral truths (especially with regard to marriage and sexuality) which are of divine origin and which, for that reason, are irreformable.

What is it that is hapening in our beloved Catholic Church where many of our brethren seem eager to bow to the spirit of a rebellious age, dismissing past beliefs and ways as no longer tenable? More distressing perhaps is their silence in the face of creeping doctrinal novelties and liturgical caprice. Should there not be in a time of great confusion and moral obscurity, manifest clarity about what's true and right and decisive means put forth to preserve it? The mind and heart crave surety and stability rather than vagueness and diffidence, especially from our pope, bishops, and priests, those official guardians and expositors of the deposit of faith and heralds of Christ's Gospel.

There ought not to be doubt about the truths of faith, moral conduct, liturgical propriety and the worth of the apostolic tradition that has been bequeathed to us. It is a cause of wonderment that these certainties can be so readily discarded or adjusted to the spirit of the time -- a restless, ever shifting spirit which must soon forsake its devoted adherents for faddish novelties it has yet to propose.

In the meantime, while temporizing is condoned, those who insist on perennial truth and on tradition are dismissed, ridiculed, or hatefully regarded as enemies of progress. They ought not, however, to entertain doubts about what is right, good, true and beautiful. Confidence comes not from an egotistical estimation of being the measure of truth, but from Christ's indefectible Church which has weathered centuries of stormy controversy over what is true. It is the abiding presence in her of the divinely promised Spirit of Truth that is the foundation of certitude.

"God is our refuge and strength. Therefore we shall not fear even should the mountains tremble. The Lord of Hosts is with us" (Psalm 46). Being sure of God and of His promised fidelity is an anchoring, stabilizing, and healthy way of being a Catholic Christian. Saint Paul sounded a word of admonition to the Ephesians that would well be heeded in our day: "Be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ" (4:14). I wish our parishioners to persevere in this age of anxiety and uncertainty as people who steadfastly 'speak the truth in love.' May you ive tranquilly in this often disconcerting, sometimes exasperating, manifestly troubled age.

Fr. Perrone

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cardinal Sarah scheduled to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass for anticipated 15,000 at the Chartre Pilgrimage in 2018

Notre-Dame de Chretiente (NDC)—the organization responsible for the Chartres Pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres, France—has announced that Robert Cardinal Sarah will offer the Pontifical High Mass in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres at the next pilgrimage to Chartres, May 21, 2018.

Below is a resume of the same pilgrimage last summer (2017) at which Cardinal Burke was celebrant:

Looking back: William F. Buckley's "Firing Line" on Vatican II

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Effective evangelism through ancient liturgy

Does this seem counter-intuitive? Many today think that the ancient Faith should be 'translated' into a more contemporary, post-modern medium to make it more 'palitable' today. But there are those who think otherwise.

Did you read about the Turkish Catholic convert from Ismir, Turkey, who was so inspired by the ancient Catholic liturgy that he prayed for three years until he got one in the church of Notre-Dame de Lourdes in the Archdiocese of Izmir?

Recently, the Una Voce Federation also published a Position Paper on "Islam and the Extraordinary Form," which argues that Catholics must preserve their ancient traditions if they are to effectively evangelize Muslims. For example, it argues that a Christianity too closely identified with secular liberal attitudes is singularly unhelpful. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J. writes:
Muslims know that modernity is coming from the West; this is a fact. Now they see the West as having lost its ethics, especially on sexual questions. They’re very shocked by what they see or hear.

...Then the Muslims say, “Okay, the West is Christian, Christianity allows this, and so Christianity is not the true religion; it’s a false religion. And we want to be true, to stick to the Qur’an and to the tradition.”
Another issue is the turn-off Muslim men experience when confronted with the effeminate forms of Catholic worship so prevalent since Vatican II. Here an antidote is provided ancient Catholic liturgy with its stress on the transcendent, reverence, dignity and ritual in worship, as opposed to a stress on spontaneity and emotionalism.

Conversion stories of Muslims often include great sacrifice and suffering. After being tortured, imprisoned, and exiled, the Iraqi Muslim convert Joseph Fadelle wrote of his first experience of Latin Chant:
I was gripped by the sonorities, which were much subtler and more musical than Arabic. Although I did not understand it, I immediately felt an attraction for that language.

As I listened to that slow, profound music, I also found again the prayerful atmosphere that I had experienced in churches in the Near East. This chant touched me deeply; it immersed me in a peace that I could not have imagined a few days before.
There is an immense appeal of traditional liturgy and eastern and western traditional chant to those fed up with the superficial. I have found this to be the case personally with Muslim friends as well. For example, I remember playing for some modern Catholic music for a Muslim couple from India with their college-age daughter, whom we had invited as guests for dinner in our home. None of them liked the samples I played for them. On the other hand, when I played a CD of some ancient Armenian Catholic chant music (like this), they immediately found it enchanting. Live and learn.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

After Vatican II [1975-2050]

Just discovered (from a reader) this website with an abundance of research and writing on it about the Church. I still haven't "vetted" it for content (though I already see some things with which I disagree), and I don't know much about the author, Fr. Tom Richstatter, O.F.M., beyond what is published in this short bio (though it looks like he teaches classes on this material), In any case, it looks interesting. There's doubtless a lot here worth reading and knowing.

The "Index Page" for the website alone shows the extent of research and writing the site offers. Below are a couple of charts and commentary displayed under a tab somewhere on his website entitled "Chapter d30 After Vatican II [1975-2050 CE]":

Cultural and Theological Context

James D. Davidson (in an article "Alienation in the Catholic Church Today" p 22 in Robert J. Kennedy'sReconciling Embrace [Liturgy Training Publications, 1998]) states that Catholics who experienced their formative years during the 1950's and 1960's witnessed the following changes:

ItemPre-Vatican IIPost-Vatican II
Liturgical LanguageLatinEnglish
Liturgical MusicGregorian chantFolk
Liturgical InstrumentsOrganGuitar
MoralityEmphasis on Sexual PurityEmphasis on Peace and justice
EthicsNatural Law Ethics Consequentialism (An emphasis on the context and consequences of behavior)
FaithFaith is obligationFaith is personal choice
The WorldOther-worldlinessThis-worldliness
Catholic IdentityParticularism (the superiority of Catholicism)Ecumenism (an emphasis on how much Catholicism has in common with Protestant denominations)

Return to the top of this page -- Return to General and Introductory Materials Index -- Return to Fr. Tom's Home Page

Moving the Furniture

At a gathering of parish leaders on January 19, 2002 from St. Mary's Parish, Evansville (one of the parishes mentioned in Excellent Catholic Parishes by Paul Wilkes) we discussed the metaphor of "moving the furniture."  The theological concepts we hold are something like furniture in a room.  Sometimes when we introduce a new piece of furniture, the old ones need to be rearranged.  Applying this to the arrangement of our "theological furniture" before and after the Second Vatican Council we found several key items have been "moved."  These changes are summarized in the the following table:

ItemPre-Vatican IIPost-Vatican II
JesusDivineDivine and Human
GodTranscendentTranscendent and Immanent
GraceThing / QuantitativePersonal Relationship, Process
Gives Grace
Act of Worship
Reveals who God is
Builds Church
BaptismTakes away original sinMakes one "Another Christ"
Makes Church
Makes Disciples/Ministers
Pope, Bishops, etc.
Body of Christ
People of God
BibleProtestant BookOur story
Faith witness
Good Friday
Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday
Meal : Sacrifice :: Sacrament : Union with God
SinBreaking the law
Not loving God & neighbor
Failure to grow
ConfessionTelling sins to the priestReconciliation
Public act
Worship and Praise
Celebration of God's Mercy
Aid in human forgiveness and reconciliation
PriestOne set apart fromOne in the midst of
Boot camp
Incarnational Theology - The place of our salvation - God's dream for a harmonious, reconciled garden

Return to the top of this page -- Return to General and Introductory Materials Index -- Return to Fr. Tom's Home Page

Sacraments Yesterday and Today

How is our thinking about sacrament and sacraments different than it was 50 years ago (pre Vatican II)?  What are the principal changes in sacramental theology during the past 50 years?  Once again I refer to the "tip of the pistol" metaphor.  What are those often unseen changes that have big implications.  Often the really important changes are not the most noticeable, not the things that the people in the pew would name as the "big changes."   I list what I have come to consider the 10 most important.  The following list is not in any particular "order of importance." 

1.  Anabatic / Katabatic   Before the Constitution on the Liturgy the anabatic dimension of the sacraments was not emphasized; the sacraments were primarily to "give grace" (the Katabatic movement) rather than considered primarily as acts of worship by the community.  The primary thing is not what we get, but what we give:  worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God.

2. Private to corporate and personal.  When the emphasis is on "what I get" from the sacraments, it's easy to think of sacraments as something administered to an individual. When we think of sacraments primarily as acts of corporate worship, liturgical worship is the act of the entire Body of Christ. This is why sacraments are always (ideally) celebrated by the worshiping community (at Sunday Eucharist).

Eucharist, at least the celebration of the Eucharist (1) when not separated from merely "receiving Holy Communion" is usually seen as a public act. The (2) Sacrament of Holy Orders and the(3) Sacrament of Confirmation are, with increasing frequency, celebrated in the midst of the Sunday worshiping community. The initiation of adults takes place at the Easter (Vigil) with the worshiping community. More and more, infant (4) Baptism and the (5) Anointing of the Sick are celebrated at Sunday Mass.  (6) Marriage is celebrated during the Eucharist, but is often not with the worshiping community but with the circle of friends who often are there not to worship God but only as friends, honoring the couple.   (7) Reconciliation seems to be the last sacrament to find its a public context.

3. Anamnesis   Anamnesis is another fundamental tip of the pistol change. Eucharist no longer "repeats"  or "re-presents" or "reminds" us of the passion death and resurrection of the Lord, but through anamnesis -- Liturgical Remembering we become mystically present to these events. This mystery of presence is one of the fundamental changes that is not been preached or taught sufficiently during the past 50 years.

4. Mysterion    The metaphor of the seven Shoeboxes. Another "invisible" but very important change has come in seeing sacraments not so much as seven distinct actions, but as the manifestation of God's loving plan for creation, beginning with Christ himself, the body of Christ, the Church, gathered to celebrate Eucharist, the other sacraments, the liturgical year and liturgy of the hours, indeed all of creation is sacrament of -- revelation of -- God's Trinitarian love. Key to this understanding is the Primacy of Christ.

5. Grace   I believe another major change comes in the understanding of grace: the movement from grace as a thing which can be quantified and classified, to the understanding of grace as God's love, God's Holy Spirit. This change is multiple implications which are important for our spiritual life and for our theological understanding.

6. The role of the community   Another fundamental tip of the pistol change is our understanding of who administers, or better, who celebrates the sacraments. Formerly the priest administered, performed, the sacramental act. Today, we understand that the worshiping community is the primary celebrant of the sacraments. The community is led, coached, by the presiding minister, who therefore always praise in the first person plural, "we", to which we give our consent, our Amen. I often think of this basic change as: Formerly I said Mass for the people, now I say Mass with the people. A tiny change, a preposition grammatically, but this tiny change represents an entirely new orientation on my part when I am leading the congregation. Until this change is more widely understood (which today it is not) people will still wonder why we are baptizing an infant during the Sunday Eucharist. "I don't even know that baby. What does the baptism have to do with me?" It has everything to do with you. The sacrament is not merely "for" the baby; it is for the entire community.

7. Mind/Body/Spirit   A new understanding of the human person. My former sacramental theology viewed the human person in more static, Aristotelian categories. The human being was composed of body and soul. The body came and went; the soul was immortal and consequently the soul was the important part. Ministry was about saving souls. And the soul was viewed in more static categories. You were either Catholic or you weren't. You were in the state of grace, or out of it. You were either married or you weren't. Today I view the person as an integral composite of mind body and spirit. Faith is a journey. Conversion is a process. These are very important tip of the pistol changes.

8. Minister of the Sacraments   Sacramental roles formerly sacraments were administered usually by the priest and received, by an individual. Now we see that the sacraments are celebrations of the community, the minister-celebrant is the parish, coached by the priest. In the recipient is also the parish.  I'm reminded of the description of sacrament by Soren Kierkegaard:  "Many Christians tend to view the minister/priest as the actor, God as the prompter, and the congregation as the audience. But actually, the congregation is the actor, the minister/priest merely the prompter, and God the audience." (Soren Kierkegaard. Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing, New York: Harper & Row, 1956, pp 180-181. Quoted in Erickson, "Liturgical Participation" Worship 59 (1985) p 232.)

9. Sacred Scripture Another element which I believe is very important is the realization of the role played by sacred Scripture in our understanding of sacrament. Formerly Scripture and sacrament seemed unrelated. Sacrosanctum Concilium stress the importance that sacred Scripture plays in the liturgy. 

SC #24. Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.

SC 51 (Cp 2 Eucharist). The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that a richer share in God's word may be provided for the faithful.  [Flannery's translation:  "... so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's word."]  In this way a more representative portion of holy Scripture will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years. 

Our current Lectionary for Mass contains 14% of the Old Testament and 71% of the New Testament (85% of the Bible); whereas the Missal of 1963 (the Missal in use before our current Lectionary) contained only 01% of the Old Testament and 17% of the New Testament (18% of the Bible).   Often when people speak of the Ordinary Form of Mass and the Extraordinary Form of Mass they say "The difference is that the one is Mass in English and the other is Mass in Latin" without realizing that there are deeper, but less noticeable, changes also.

10. Viewpoint   A very far reaching change has occurred "under the iceberg" regarding what the very word "sacrament" implies. Formerly it referred to "something we receive" now it refers to "something we are" (to use a phrase I learned from Prof. Ken Himes).  I am reminded of the article by the President-Rector in The Raven last week. Speaking of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament he remarked that we are each a monstrance.  "We are monstrances too. We share the task, like the vessel, of bringing the face of Christ to bear upon a world so in need of his visage."  We are visible signs of invisible grace, signs of God, Doors to the Sacred.

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To Think About

Do you think the spirit of the Second Vatican Council is being implemented today? Why or why not?   [A participant in this class once wrote:   "Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the Second Vatican Council.  But where is the next step, Spirit? Your gentle breeze isn't moving on to gale force winds. This freshness is rapidly becoming stagnant air.  Soon the smog will cover us all and we won't remember why we got into this boat to begin with. Some will hide in the bottom of the boat and construct a plan to build a more seaworthy vessel. Some will look to the sky and begin to cry. Some will curse you for meddling in a situation where you don't belong. Some will become paralyzed and do nothing. But the remainder will leap overboard, put their foot into the water and start walking toward the shore.  Please be ready with breakfast."  [R. Cavanaugh, summer 1993]

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 11/11/10 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at

Tridentine Community News - Franciscan Priest Celebrates First Tridentine Mass; Chicago Bus Tour Tridentine Mass Schedule; Christmas Mass Schedule; First Friday and First Saturday Tracker Holy Cards; Tridentine Massses This Coming Week

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (December 17, 2017):

Franciscan Priest Celebrates First Tridentine Mass

Franciscan Priest Celebrates First Tridentine Mass

The first priest to be ordained for the new, Phoenix-based Franciscan Friars of Holy Spirit just this past June, Fr. Athanasius Fornwalt, FHS, celebrated his first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Old St. Mary’s Church on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Athanasius is studying at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary and took advantage of Extraordinary Faith’s celebrant training program. He serves as Post-Novitiate Director for his order, overseeing men receiving their formation at Sacred Heart Seminary. Widely traveled, Fr. Athanasius has formerly served as one of the Masters of Ceremony at Washington, DC’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We hope to see him celebrating Tridentine Masses for us around the region in upcoming months.

Chicago Bus Tour Tridentine Mass Schedule

The times of the Traditional Latin Masses on this year’s Chicago Church Bus Tour have been finalized. Everyone is invited to attend these Masses if you will be in the Chicago area, whether or not you are registered on the tour:
  • Thursday, December 28: 3:00 PM High Mass at St. Mary of the Angels Church
  • Friday, December 29: 11:30 AM High Mass at St. John Cantius Church
  • Saturday, December 30: 5:00 PM Solemn High Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. The parish has asked us to hold this Mass at the time of their Saturday Vigil Mass, to expose their parishioners to the Extraordinary Form.
There are still a few seats left on the bus for those interested in the full tour. Contact Prayer Pilgrimages for more information at (248) 250-6005.

Christmas Mass Schedule

Many Tridentine Mass sites in our area will be holding Christmas Day Masses. Those that have been announced thus far are:
  • St. Joseph: 12:00 Midnight, 9:00 AM [Low Mass], 11:00 AM
  • St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport: 12:00 Midnight
  • Assumption Grotto: 12:00 Midnight, and 9:30 AM [verified]
  • Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel: 9:45 AM
  • St. Benedict Tridentine Community at Holy Name of Mary Church, Windsor: 2:00 PM
First Friday and First Saturday Tracker Holy Cards

Every once in a while a simple concept comes to fruition that makes you wonder, “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” In the December Fraternity of St. Peter Meménto newsletter mailing, two cards were included that allow one to track one’s progress in making the nine First Friday and five First Saturday devotions. Graces are attached to those who persist in attending Holy Mass and performing the prescribed works on successive First Fridays and First Saturdays; this is the first instance of a convenient means of recordkeeping being made widely available. It is possible that additional copies of these cards may be obtained by contacting the FSSP. Their Meménto newsletter is available free of charge by signing up at:

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 12/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria)
  • Tue. 12/19 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Our Lady of the Scapular (Feria) – Candlelit Mass
  • Tue. 12/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (Feria)
  • Thu. 12/21 4:30 PM: High Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle, Ann Arbor (St. Thomas, Apostle) – Baptism of Lucy Rose Schultz in the Extraordinary Form follows Mass
  • Sat. 12/23 7:00 AM: Low Mass at St. Matthew, Flint (Ember Saturday) – Candlelit Mass
  • Sat. 12/23 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Our Lady of the Scapular (Feria) – Candlelit Mass
  • Sat. 12/23 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Ember Saturday)
[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 December 17, 2017. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro-Detroit and eastern Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week






  • Thu. 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit
  • Thu. 8:00 AM: Low Mass St. Joseph Oratory, Detroit
  • Thu. 8:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions Thursdays: 7:00 - 7:30 PM during Benediction) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]*
  • Thu. 12/21 4:30 PM: High Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle, Ann Arbor (St. Thomas, Apostle) – Baptism of Lucy Rose Schultz in the Extraordinary Form follows Mass



* 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," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Martin Mosebach on being named 'Martin' for Martin Luther by his Lutheran father and for St. Martin of Tours by his Catholic mother

For the record, I was first introduced to Martin Mosebach, whose writings I've come to admire very much, by reading his book, The Heresy of Formlessness, published by Ignatius Press in 2006. I just read the present account of how he came to be named "Martin" in a book commemorating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther and his 'Reformation.' To their credit, the Lutheran editors of the massive tome included this contribution by a Catholic author, Mosebach, who had some things to say by way of criticism of Luther's career and work, and yet in a way that was not unappreciative of the impact Luther left on the world. Hence, I was glad to find online the present piece by Martin Mosebach, "On Luther, in Trepidation" at a website called Salubriousity, which should probably be spelled "Salubriosity" (without the 'u'), posted December 10, 2017. Here's the opening paragraph:
My Christian name was chosen for me in the spirit of ecumenical compromise. My mother, who was not a fervent Catholic, but who could never have imagined abandoning the Catholic Church, voted for Martin, after Saint Martin of Tours, who was especially venerated in her native city of Cologne, above all in the splendid Romanesque Great Saint Martin Church (Gross Sankt Martin) -- with the accent on the second syllable of Martin! My Protestant father was contemplating paying homage to Martin Luther, but my mother ensured that I was baptised in the hospital immediately upon my arrival, despite the fact that (or because) my father was not there -- she clearly preferred not to risk becoming embroiled in any denominational debates. According to family legend I screamed dreadfully throughout the proceedings. 'No wonder, if he's called Martin,' remarked my father, who only met me once I was already a baptised Catholic. But it was the Roman legionnaire born in Pannonia, the hermit monk in Italy, the bishop in Roman Gaul and the visitor to the imperial court in Trier who would colour my life, not the German Doctor Martinus. It was through the figure of St Martin of Tours, one of the founding fathers of the Western world, that the universal Roman church of the first millennium won my heart. As I steadily increased my knowledge of church history, one thing above all -- puzzled me about the other Martin, the great reformer: how could one profess Christianity without Rome and Constantinople, without the liturgy and the music of the first thousand years, without the monastic traditions from Egypt, without St Benedict, St Francis or St Dominic, without Romanesque basilicas and the Gothic cathedrals of France? How could one call oneself a Christian without the legacy of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Athens? Wasn't that an ahistorical Christianity, dreamt up in the provinces in order to keep a tight rein on any links to the opulence of the past and the no less opulent present-day cultures of lands beyond Germany? In Luther's day the Popes were integrating new continents into the Church, even as he was setting about cutting off a large part of Germany from the main currents of civilisation. Read more >>

A day in the life of a parish pastor

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, December 10, 2017):
What's on a pastor's mind?

As I suppose it to be for everyone, I would rather do the things I most like doing. I would rather not be exceptional in this> For me, the desirable things to do would be what are called the works of leisure, that is to say, things that are not of practical necessity. Yet I, like most of you, am restricted in my desire to pursue those more delightsome things by the duties that demand my attention.

These necessary things for me are primarily pastoral and administrative. Preparing each week to teach my three or four classes sometimes takes a good chunk of prep time. Following through, I must teach the classes for for which I have prepared. There's also a Sunday sermon to write which has a whole week's period of gestation in my daily prayers where -- presumptuous or foolish to admit it -- God gives me the substance, if not the very words, of what I should deliver to the people. And then there's the writing of the weekly pastor's column, the Descant, which is a duty to which I am resigned. Some pastors don't write a weekly column for their parish papers but I, following the lead of my predecessor, have remained faithful to this weekly chore, sometimes even less ungrudgingly. Thus far my "literary" duties of the week.

Administration of the parish is another mental pressure. So many areas of parish life require decisions of all kinds which depend on the pastor's judgments. Finances, utilities, meetings, the physical plant with its innumerable necessities never escape the mind during the day, during the night, in conversations, and into prayer.

Pastoral work is the thing for which I was ordained and the active form of work I most relish. Here are saying Mass, reciting my daily Divine Office, directing my people in the spiritual life, caring for their sacramental needs, hearing confessions, visiting the sick. The precious time alloted for this must be shared with my literary and administrative activities and so is sometimes cut short and only the minimal gets done in a given week Alas!

At the end of the day I sometimes wonder where all the time has gone. Eating and sleeping, driving, occasionally cooking a meal, and such inevitable gobblers of anyone's time leave me without much of that desired free time, the leisure time to do the things most enjoyed. Now it may sound pious or self-righteous to you for me to say it, but my personal prayer time is my very favorite thing to do. I manage to do this in the early morning hours most days, long before the work of the day begins. Here I can speak to my God to my heart's content about all that's on my mind. In some unexplainable ways I know that He hears and answers me in those quiet hours, often spent before the Blessed Sacrament. Finally there's reading books, playing the piano, and spending social time with relatives and friends. But, like the dessert after the big meal, the sweetest part takes the shortest time. Such is life for me and no doubt for you.

This reflection on the parcelling out of time in my week is not meant merely to let you know what's on my mind and what I do all week long. It's to indicate that for most people life's time consists of things that must get done as opposed to the pleasurable things one would rather do. This imbalance will be redressed, I believe, in the next life when there will be no more 'things that have to get done' but only things that are most delectable: enjoying God and His largely unknown gifts which must certainly be innumerable and delectable beyond what words can say.

In this valley of tears the all-important thing is to do what God expects us to do. Much of that is what we might rather not be doing if we had the choice. Yet He, in His goodness, gives us just enough of the good things of life, even the most simple of them, as a consolation for carrying out our daily tasks.

Perhaps you feel as I do that there are many, many more advantageous things to be grateful for in life than things to complain about. I wholeheartedly love the holy priesthood and the work proper to it. For the rest, I do what I must, sometimes even cheerfully, while I await those fewer moments when I can go about doing what's most pleasing. I hope you find your vocation in life to be equally satisfying in the larger sense, even though its demands may at times seem burdensome. In the end I am compelled to admit that life's not only worth living but, except for sin, good and fulfilling.

Carry on, Christian soul, in your daily life's work. As Saint Paul said of the athlete, he keeps his mind on the end of the game so as to win. This is hope and its season is Advent.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tridentine Community News - St. Mary Church in St. Clair, Michigan Debuts Weekly Saturday Tridentine Mass; Chicago's St. Stanislaus Kostka Church to Host Bus Tour Tridentine Mass; Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass; Local TLM schedule

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (December 10, 2017):
December 10, 2017 - Second Sunday of Advent

St. Mary Church in St. Clair, Michigan Debuts Weekly Saturday Tridentine Mass

Some readers may recall Fr. Michael Zuelch as the previous celebrant of the Tridentine Masses at Immaculate Conception Parish in Lapeer. Fr. Zuelch is now Administrator of St. Mary Parish in St. Clair, Michigan. Following the strong attendance at a special Tridentine Mass at a recent Marian conference held at his parish, Fr. Zuelch has decided to begin holding weekly 9:00 AM Saturday Masses in the Extraordinary Form, beginning on December 16. When the calendar does not specify a higher class Feast, these Masses will be Saturday Masses of Our Lady. The intention is for these Masses to be Simple Missa Cantatas, which are High Masses without incense or additional ceremony.

Chicago’s St. Stanislaus Kostka Church to Host Bus Tour Tridentine Mass

Over the past few years, Chicago’s St. Stanislaus Kostka Church has been gradually “traditionalizing” its parish environment. The historic church underwent a restoration. A Communion Rail was (re)installed. For Advent and Christmas this year, the parish will be celebrating all of its (Ordinary Form) Masses ad oriéntem. Chicago young adult group VBP Chicago held the first Tridentine Mass there since Vatican II. And now the parish has invited our annual Prayer Pilgrimages Bus Tour to hold a Tridentine Mass there at the time of their Saturday Vigil Mass, on December 30 at 5:00 PM. In turn our traveling server team from Windsor’s St. Benedict Tridentine Community is inviting St. Stanislaus’ altar servers to join us for their first experience in serving the Traditional Mass. Chicago area residents are invited to join the bus tour, which will be visiting historic churches Thursday-Saturday, December 28-30. Additional special Tridentine Masses will be held on Thursday at St. Mary of the Angels Church and on Friday at a location to be determined. Please visit or call (248) 250-6005 for more information.

Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass

There are plenty of books introducing the Traditional Mass to children, but one subject area that has been lacking has been a similar “Tridentine Mass 101” book for adults. Such a volume has finally been published: Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass by Lisa Bergman is a relatively brief (94 page) coffee table book filled with charts, diagrams, explanatory pictures, and of course text explaining the structure and ceremonies of the Traditional Mass. Available from a wide variety of vendors, this book will interest newcomers to the Latin Mass as well as adults desiring a more thorough understanding of the symbolism contained within it.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 12/11 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Damasus I, Pope & Confessor)
  • Tue. 12/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Rosary Chapel at Assumption Church, Windsor (Feria) – Special location this week only
  • Sat. 12/16 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (St. Eusebius, Bishop & Martyr)
  • Sun. 12/17 12:00 Noon: High Mass at Our Lady of the Scapular (Third Sunday of Advent)
[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 December 10, 2017. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tridentine Massed 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," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.