Tuesday, December 29, 2009
St. Thomas of Canterbury

Image: The martyrdom of St Thomas from the St Thomas Altarpiece commissioned in 1424, from Meister Francke by the Guild of English Merchants in Hamburg

Double (1955 Calendar): December 29
Commemoration (1962 Calendar): December 29 (First Class in England and Wales)
Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): December 29

St. Thomas of Canterbury (1118 - 1170) - also known as St. Thomas Becket - was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to December 29, 1170, the date of his assassination.

St. Thomas Becket grew into a dispute with King Henry II of England when Henry II wished for St. Thomas Becket to sanction customers contrary to the liberties of the Church - an action that would undoubtedly make the Church subservient to the secular rule of the King.  In his defiance, St. Thomas Becket refused to consent to this request.  As a result, St. Thomas Becket - ever faithful to the Lord - was slain in the Cathedral in Canterbury on December 29, 1170.

As sings the Introit for today's Mass Propers: "Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festal day in honor of blessed Thomas the Martyr: at whose martyrdom the Angels rejoice, and praise the Son of God.  Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright."

Account of the Assassination according to Edward Grim:
The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, 'For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.' But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, 'Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.
 Source: This Sceptred Isle: 55 BC - 1901: The Roman Invasion to the Death of Queen Victoria p.73 Christopher Lee
In 1173 — barely three years after his death — he was canonized by Pope Alexander III as a saint.  On July 12, 1174, Henry II visited the tomb of St. Thomas Becket in a display of public penance.

The Forgotten Importance of St. Thomas Becket's Day:

In the 1962 Missal, his feastday was reduced to a mere commemoration since the feria days in the Octave of Christmas were raised to the II class in 1960. However, in England and Wales, St. Thomas's feast is of the First Class and kept with a Commemoration of the Octave of Christmas. In Medieval England, the Feast of St. Thomas Becket (Dec 29) and the Feast of his translation (July 7) were Holy Days of Obligation as affirmed in Archbishop Islip’s list of days of obligation for England.


O God, for the sake of Whose Church the glorious Bishop Thomas fell by the sword of ungodly men: grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid, may obtain the good fruit of their petition.  Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Monday, December 28, 2009
The Importance of Music in the Life of a Parish and How a Parish Can Start a Sacred Music Program

The Importance of Music in the Life of a Parish and How a Parish Can Start a Sacred Music Program

Guest Author of this article: Daniel

If you wish to contact the author, please leave comments in the comments box or email acatholiclife[at]gmail[dot]com.


In the Catholic Book of Character, Edward Garesche S.J. indicates that whatever enters the imagination remains there until death, even if not always present to consciousness. We are therefore obliged to nourish the imagination with good and beautiful things that lead us to God. This summarizes the beneficence of having good music in our liturgies on a human level. Everything employed in the worship of God seeks firstly to glorify Him. Secondarily, though probably just as important, is its salutary effect on us.

The Gregorian Mass is saturated with symbols expressed through gestures, sounds, and smells for a reason which is at the very heart of religion: To bring mankind into an encounter with the Divine. Like our incomparable Savior, the Mass is composed of divine and human elements. Its divinity consists in the offering of the Son to the Father in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. However, in order that we may more fully benefit from its effects, the Church draws our attention to this mystery by stimulating our imaginations with beautiful ritual, for the more beautiful something is, the closer it is to God, Who is Beauty Itself.

Until the reforms of the 1960s, it was generally accepted that only the most beautiful and holy music, especially Gregorian chant, was suitable for the solemnity of the Mass. With the introduction of the "folk Mass," however, music in the liturgy became intimately tied with the world, losing its holiness to secular influences and beauty to shallow popular forms. The imagination no longer had the opportunity to soar into the transcendent, but was dragged into the immanent.

Such a description of these reforms might sound ridiculous. Why is music so important that I should view recent history with this perspective? The Second Vatican Council responds in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy that music is the most esteemed of the Church's liturgical arts, as it most directly speaks to the soul. That is, music, more than any other element of the liturgy, affects the imagination, having the power to raise our thoughts to heavenly things or lower them to worldly distractions. When we raise our minds to God, we are praying; music therefore has a direct correlation to our life of prayer. Therefore man has a greater potential for holiness when he is nourished with the bread of beauty in the worship of God.

This is why the return to beautiful liturgical music in recent years is such a good thing and so important. One could almost say our salvation depends on it. If we do not conceive heaven as being someplace beautiful, then we will not want to go there. We are drawn toward things that please us; only God, Who is infinitely pleasing, can satisfy our infinite longings, but we cannot know this if He is shrouded and blocked out by ugliness. It is imperative, then, that all parishes begin the process of restoring beauty - dare I say, God Himself - to their liturgies. Through music, the liturgy can become more God-like, greatly sanctifying its participants and, consequently, the world.

Such a noble task rests with church musicians in cooperation with their pastors. Establishing or reorganizing a parochial music program can appear a daunting task. In considering the challenges, though, musicians should always keep in mind that there is no obstacle too great for God's grace to overcome. Be sure to complement all your efforts with prayer.

Having a supportive pastor is essential in enacting meaningful and enduring changes. It is through his preaching and teaching of orthodoxy that a congregation will be able to appreciate the gradual changes that you will implement. Depending on your situation, this might be the most difficult part of the process and will require more prayer.

Once you have the support of your pastor, your primary concern will be to address the twofold challenge of teaching your choir good vocal technique and acclimating the congregation to proper liturgy. Concerning the former, if you do not know where to start, it is good to keep in mind that the two most important components of good singing are breath control and unity of vowels. Regarding the latter, I offer my own experience.

For the purpose of training both choir and congregation, it is best to begin with hymns, avoiding a complete switch from one style of worship to another. This also permits your choir some time to begin learning the art of singing chant. Some good sources of hymnody include the Traditional Roman Hymnal - one of the best in my opinion, the St. Gregory Hymnal, the Westminster Hymnal - text and music are separate here, and the Adoremus Hymnal. Hymns are the best way for your choir to practice good singing and for the congregation to become accustomed to orthodox text and beautifully crafted melodies.

You should use chant hymns that have been harmonized - such as Creator of the Stars of Night or Of the Father's Love Begotten, for example - whenever possible in order to prepare the way for the propers. When you believe your choir is ready, you may start adding simple propers. One of the best sources of free online chants and chant resources is www.musicasacra.com. I have found the Anglican Use Gradual - approved for use in the Mass - wonderfully suited to novice singers and congregations. They use psalm tones and high English, making them accessible yet exalted.

If you have attained these heights in your liturgies, then your parish is well on its way to fostering great holiness among its parishioners. From here, the paths are as varied as the branches of a Christmas tree. You may choose to employ polyphonic music of the renaissance, modern compositions (www.canticanova.com is a good place to find some of these), or simple hymns. The sky is your limit and the rubrics your foundation.

St. Cecelia, pray for us!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Extra Copy of "This is the Faith" for Sale

Long-time readers of the blog will know that I have been a strong supporter of the book, This Is the Faith by Canon Francis Ripley.

I have mentioned the text in several posts before:

Wedding Feast of Cana
Sacrament of Baptism
Non-Catholics, I want to hear from you
Organized Religion

For this reason, I wanted my readers to know that I have an extra copy of "This is the Faith" which is still in plastic wrap. It is in perfect mint condition and has never been opened.
For $18.00 USD, I am willing to ship the text to any location within the 48 continental states.

If you are interested, please comment below and/or send me an email message.
Christmas 2009 Urbi et Orbi

The same comments regarding last year also apply to this year, namely that the Holy Father will not wear cope and mitre for the Urbi et Orbi blessing

To forestall any rash comments, this is not without precedent, as may be seen from the accompanying picture of Pius XII imparing the Urbi et Orbi blessing on Easter 1952. The choice would seem to be connected to the fact that the Pope does not publicly celebrate the Missa in die, and is therefore not vested prior to the blessing. Msgr. Marini explains that it is "a solemn benediction which is not connected to a particular liturgical rite."

Source: NLM

"Lux fulgebit hodie super nos, quia natus est nobis Dominus.

A light will shine on us this day, the Lord is born for us"
(Roman Missal, Christmas, Entrance Antiphon for the Mass at Dawn)

The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us.

The Bible and the Liturgy do not, however, speak to us about a natural light, but a different, special light, which is somehow directed to and focused upon "us", the same "us" for whom the Child of Bethlehem "is born". This "us" is the Church, the great universal family of those who believe in Christ, who have awaited in hope the new birth of the Saviour, and who today celebrate in mystery the perennial significance of this event.

At first, beside the manger in Bethlehem, that "us" was almost imperceptible to human eyes. As the Gospel of Saint Luke recounts, it included, in addition to Mary and Joseph, a few lowly shepherds who came to the cave after hearing the message of the Angels. The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light "that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9). And yet all this took place in simplicity and hiddenness, in the way that God works in all of salvation history. God loves to light little lights, so as then to illuminate vast spaces. Truth, and Love, which are its content, are kindled wherever the light is welcomed; they then radiate in concentric circles, as if by contact, in the hearts and minds of all those who, by opening themselves freely to its splendour, themselves become sources of light. Such is the history of the Church: she began her journey in the lowly cave of Bethlehem, and down the centuries she has become a People and a source of light for humanity. Today too, in those who encounter that Child, God still kindles fires in the night of the world, calling men and women everywhere to acknowledge in Jesus the "sign" of his saving and liberating presence and to extend the "us" of those who believe in Christ to the whole of mankind.

Continue Reading

Image Source: Unknown
Friday, December 25, 2009
Midnight Mass Celebrated by Fr. Daniel Couture

Midnight Mass, celebrated by Fr. Daniel Couture, SSPX.  Photos are from True Restoration Photos and True Restoration via Facebook.
Mass of Christmas Day Celebrated at St. Jude Roman Catholic Church

A child is born to us, and a Son is given to us: Whose government is upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called, the Angel of Great Counsel. -- (Ps.97. 1). Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . A child is born to us . . .

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free, who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God . . . 

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the world: Who being the brightness of His glory and the figure of His substance, and upholding all things by the word of His power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the Majesty on high: being made so much better than the angels as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels hath He said at any time: Thou art my Son, today have I begotten Thee? And again: I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith: He that maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of Thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but Thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment: and as a vesture shalt Thou change them and they shall be changed: but Thou art the selfsame, and Thy years shall not fail.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God: sing joyfully to God, all the earth. V.: The Lord hath made known His salvation: He hath revealed His justice in the sight of the Gentiles.

Alleluia, alleluia. V.: A sanctified day has shone upon us: come ye Gentiles and adore the Lord: for this day a great light hath descended upon the earth. Alleluia

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was in God's presence, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made: in Him was life, and the life was the Light of men; and the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to testify concerning the Light, that all might believe through Him. He was not the Light, but he was to testify concerning the Light. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him to them He gave power to become sons of God, to them that believe in His Name, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.[Here all kneel.] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Images of the Mass of Christmas Day Celebrated at St. Jude Roman Catholic Church (SSPX).  Photos are the property of Jim, the Photographer via Flickr.

Text: Parts of the Propers from the 3rd Mass of Christmas
Pope Pius XII Midnight Mass of 1944

A solis ortus cardine ad usque terrae limitem, Christum canamus Principem, natum Maria Virgine. Beatus auctor saeculi servile corpus induit: ut carne carnem liberans, ne perderet quos condidit.

Christmas Message of His Holiness Venerable Pope Pius XII, 1942.

My Dear Children of the Whole World:

As the Holy Christmas Season comes round each year, the message of Jesus, Who is light in the midst of darkness, echoes once more from the Crib of Bethlehem in the ears of Christians and re-echoes in their hearts with an ever new freshness of joy and piety. It is a message which lights up with heavenly truth a world that is plunged in darkness by fatal errors. It infuses exuberant and trustful joy into mankind, torn by the anxiety of deep, bitter sorrow. It proclaims liberty to the sons of Adam, shackled with the chains of sin and guilt. It promises mercy, love, peace to the countless hosts of those in suffering and tribulation who see their happiness Shattered and their efforts broken in the tempestuous strife and hate of our stormy days.

The church bells, which announce this message in every continent, not only recall the gift which God made to mankind at the dawn of the Christian Era; they also announce and proclaim a consoling reality of the present, a reality which is eternally young, living and life-giving; it is the reality of the "True Light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this World," and which knows no setting. The Eternal Word, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, began His mission of saving and redeeming the human race by being born in the squalor of a stable and by thus ennobling and hallowing poverty.

He thus proclaimed and consecrated a message which is still, today, the Word of Eternal Life. That message can solve the most tortuous questions, unsolved and insoluble for those who bring to their investigations a mentality and an apparatus which are ephemeral and merely human; and those questions stand up, bleeding, imperiously demanding an answer, before the thought and the feeling of embittered and exasperated mankind.

The watchword "I have compassion on the multitude" is for Us a sacred trust which may not be abused; it remains strong, and impelling in all times and in all human situations, as it was the distinguishing mark of Jesus.

The Church would be untrue to herself, ceasing to be a mother, if she turned a deaf ear to her children's anguished cries, which reach her from every class of the human family. She does not intend to take sides for any of the particular forms in which the several peoples and States strive to solve the gigantic problems of domestic order or international collaboration, as long as these forms conform to the law of God. But on the other hand, as the "Pillar and Ground of Truth" and guardian, by the will of God and the mandate of Christ, of the natural and supernatural order, the Church cannot renounce her right to proclaim to her sons and to the whole world the unchanging basic laws, saving them from every perversion, frustration, corruption, false interpretation and error.

This is all the more necessary for the fact that from the exact maintenance of these laws, and not merely by the effort of noble and courageous wills, depends in the last analysis the solidity of any national and international order, so fervently desired by all peoples. We know the qualities of courage and sacrifice of those peoples, and We also know their straitened conditions and their sorrow; and in this hour of unspeakable trial and strife We feel Ourselves bound to each and every one of them without exception, by a deep, all-embracing, unmovable affection, and by an immense desire to bring them every solace and help which is in any way at Our command.

Image Source: Worshippers standing on top of confessional booth to view unprecedented Christmas midnight mass conducted by Pope Pius XII fr. the high altar; the first time since Charlemagne's coronation that a Pope has said Midnight Mass at St. Peter's Cathedral. December 1944, Taken by Margaret Bourke-White
Christmas Day Chants

These are some of the prayers said at the Tridentine Masses for the Mass of Christmas day. Please pray along to these beautiful chants:

Christmas (Day Mass) - Introit: Puer
Christmas (Day Mass) - Gradual: Viderunt omnes
Christmas (Day Mass) - Alleluia
Christmas (Day Mass) - Offertory: Tui sunt
Christmas (Day Mass) - Communion: Viderunt omnes
Christmas - Vespers Hymn: Christe redemptor omnium 

Image Source: Annunciation by Domenico Beccafumi, 1545-1546
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Jesus Christ is the Second Adam - St. Leo the Great

“Dearly beloved brethren, if we study attentively the history of the creation of our
race, we shall find that man was made in the image of God, that his ways also might be an imitation of the ways of his Maker. This is the natural, real, and highest dignity which we are capable of attaining, that the goodness of the Divine nature should have a reflection in us, as in a mirror. As a means of reaching this dignity, we are daily offered the grace of our Saviour, for as in the first Adam all men are fallen, so in the Second Adam can all men be raised up again… And we know from the Apostle John how God fulfilled His promise,. We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him That is True, and be in Him That is True, even in
His Son.”

St. Leo the Great
Image Source: Nativity by François Boucher, 18th Century
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Moral Theology By Rev. Heribert Jone

I recently received an email that from a reader of the blog that included two scanned copies from the book Moral Theology by Rev. Heribert Jone on the topic of fasting.

(click for a larger, clear preview of this text)

The copy is a reprint of Reverend Jone's classic 18th English edition. A handbook for the busy priest that will boggle the mind with its organization, thoroughness and detail. Hand pocket size. Every priest [ and I might add seminarian] should have a copy of this text at his fingertips. There is no other book like it! Also of note, this 610 page book comes with an imprimatur.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
4th Sunday of Advent

Isaias 45: 8
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. -- (Ps. 18. 2). The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. V.: Glory to the Father . . . -- Drop down dew, ye heavens . . .

COLLECT - O Lord, we beseech Thee, stir up Thy power, and come, and with great might succor us: that by the help of Thy grace that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost .

See all of this Sunday's Propers Prayers

Image Source: Photo from the 4th Sunday in Advent. Photo taken by Christopher M. of Lost Lambs.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Pope Pius XII, John Paul II Declared Venerable

The following is an excerpt. My comments are in brackets. Emphasis is in bold.

Image Source: A/P
In a dramatic move, after long hesitation, Pope Benedict XVI has signed a decree declaring Pope Pius XII -- the Pope who led the Church during the Second World War and has been repeatedly accused by many Jewish and progressive Catholic groups of not doing enough to help the Jews during the Nazi persecution -- as "venerable," the first major step on the road toward canonization as a Catholic saint.

In the same decree, Benedict has declared Pope John Paul II, known for his friendship with the Jewish people and his dramatic visits to the synagogue of Rome in 1986 and to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2000, as also worthy to be called "venerable" in the Church.

Benedict's decree, published today in connection with the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, recognizes the "heroic virtues" of the two Popes, paving the way for their beatification and canonization, which can come with the approval of first one, then a second miracle attributed to their intercession.

Also approved were the martyrdom of the Polish priest Fr Popielusko and a miracle attributed to Mary McKillop (Australia).

Pius XII, the Pope who led the Church during the Second World War (he was Pope from 1939 to 1958), and John Paul II (Pope from 1978 to 2005) are now officially to be called "Venerable" (meaning able to be venerated), because Benedict XVI has confirmed that their lives displayed "heroic virtues," that they were heroes because of their remarkable virtue.

This is particularly dramatic with regard to Pius, because he has been accused, not only of not being a hero, but even of being evil, of being "Hitler's Pope." (A book under that title was published several years ago by British author John Cornwell, who later retracted much of what he had written.) The attacks on Pius seem to have given Benedict pause. Not because he believed their truth, but because he knew that many did believe they were true, and would be scandalized if Pius was declared "Venerable" without clarifying that the charges against him were false. This explains why the documentation to sign the Pius XII decree was given to Pope almost two years ago, and not signed until now.

Many Vatican observers had noted that Benedict was taking his time before signing the decree. Senior Vatican officials told me that he was waiting until Jewish and progressive Catholic groups themselves recognized that the charges of anti-Semitism raised against Pius XII were without foundation. And this is what has occurred.

Over the past several years, due in large measure to the work of committed Catholic and Jewish scholars and activists ranging from Sr. Margherita Marchione, an American Catholic nun, to Gary Krupp, an American Jewish businessman, clear evidence that Pius XII worked heroically "behind the scenes" to save nearly 1 million Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps has now been discovered and published. (We have printed much of this in the pages on Inside the Vatican magazine.) In fact, this evidence even suggests that Pius XII did more to help victims of the persecution than virtually any other single person in Europe during the war years, making his denigration all the more unjust. And because an increasing number of scholars have come to conclude that the charges raised against Pius XII were a calmny, the opinion about Pius in the world's Jewish community has slowly been transformed from an absolutely negative one to a far more positive one.

"I received a call from Rome just now to inform me that the Holy Father proclaimed Pius XII as venerable," Krupp emailed to me this morning. "Congratulations to all of you for the hard work over the years to right a terrible wrong perpetrated by the historical revisionists."

Similar Posts / Relevant Reading:

  1. War and remembrance: Vatican highlights Pope Pius XII's peace efforts
  2. Encyclicals of Pope Pius XII 
  3. Strong defense of Pius XII by Cardinal Bertone 
  4. 50th Anniversary of Pius XII's Death 
  5. Pope Pius XII Condemned Nazism & the Holocaust
  6. Funeral of Pope Pius XII
  7. The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis
Society of Jesus Christ the Priest

June 1, 2012 Update: The Society of St. Pius X website features good news regarding this order bringing Tradition back to a Madison-based parish.

Original Article: The following is excerpted from the Wisconsin State Journal. My comments are in brackets. Emphasis is in bold.

As mentioned in both Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities and The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns, traditional religious orders and not liberal ones are seeing growth.

Please also remember to consult a copy of St. Stephen's Handbook for Altar Servers while reading this article. This article relates appropriately to my article on the History and Graces Received from Altar Serving.

Image Source: Andy Manis via Wisconsin State Journal
SAUK CITY -- At a recent Mass at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, the Rev. John Blewett urged parishioners to emulate their savior and stand firm on matters of church doctrine.

"Jesus does not back down," he said.

The same could be said for Blewett and his fellow members of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a religious group based in Spain. Beginning in 2006, Bishop Robert Morlino invited priests from the society to serve in the Madison Catholic Diocese, and in the ensuing years, they have thrilled some and dismayed others with their staunch Catholicism and tough-love approach.

Five of them now lead a five-parish cluster in the Sauk City area, with three more priests from the society expected this fall. They have brought considerable change in the way the parishes approach worship services.

The priests no longer let girls be altar servers, and they have dispensed with the common Catholic practice of using trained lay people to assist with Communion [this practice is inherently sinful and should be universally abolished]. They have greatly increased opportunities for confession - some complain they nose around too much - and added many Masses celebrated only in Latin, which some parishioners find divine and others alienating.

Supporters say the priests have brought richness to the faith and much-needed discipline to followers who too often water down church teachings.

"They tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear," said Kay Ringelstetter, a St. Aloysius member who calls the changes beautiful. "We see their love for Jesus Christ and the joy in everything they do, and we desire it."

Others are upset over what they consider a hard-line approach that leaves little room for shades of difference. [Catholicism is a HARD religion.  It is not an easy-approach to religion and people must stop watering-down the Faith]

"You get the impression they only want to be a shepherd for the people who agree with them," said Troy Jacobson, who left St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie last year over his disappointment with the priests. "It's almost like they've restricted access to God."

Critics contend that scores of parishioners have left, but others disagree and say new members have filled any voids. The Rev. Jared Hood, a society priest and the administrator of the five-parish cluster, said membership numbers were not available.

Morlino said any time parishes change priests, some upheaval is inevitable. He said the priests follow a different course from many in the diocese, but that diversity is good and everything the priests do falls within the accepted practices of the church.

"They are not in any sense renegades," he said.

Special designation

Societies are a special designation within the Catholic Church. They are groups of lay people, consecrated women and priests who live in common and come together around a specific mission, such as aiding the sick. The mission of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest is to increase the number of boys entering the priesthood [and having male-only altar servers has proven to do so!].

"If we can manage to get the young people to fall in love with Jesus Christ, then they will not but want to be like him and to share his life and mission," wrote the society's founder, the Rev. Alfonso Galvez, in a 1994 book on the society's formation.

The Catholic Church officially recognized the society in 1980. It is based in Murcia, Spain, but has members from other countries, including the U.S.

Hood, a New Jersey native, said the society has 25 priests, 13 consecrated women, two laymen and 12 seminarians studying for the priesthood. This puts it on the small side as far as societies go, he said.

In his book, Galvez, now 77, criticizes the quality of priest training, saying seminaries often fail to instill obedience and genuine Catholic values. This is indicative of a post-Vatican II church in the 1960s that "found herself invaded by liberal Protestant theology and by various currents of Marxist ideology," he wrote.

Many good candidates for priesthood have been turned off by the lack of demanding training, exacerbating the priest shortage and forcing bishops to either go without priests or accept anybody who walks through the door, according to Galvez. "That explains why young men of weak spirit, incapable, effeminate and - why not say so? - even homosexuals have been admitted to seminaries," he wrote.

In 1991, Galvez founded a middle and high school, currently in Murcia, to provide young people with "a total formation based in Catholic values and tradition," according to the school's Web site. Plans are in the works to move the school next year from Murcia to Sauk City, where it would reopen as a middle school.

'Very hard-working'

The relationship between the society and the Madison diocese dates to the spring of 2006 when representatives from the society visited several U.S. dioceses to gauge interest in their priests serving here.

"Very simply, Bishop Morlino was the most inviting," Hood said. The only other place in the U.S. where priests from the society serve is the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey, where there are four.

Morlino, who has sought to increase the number of young men from the Madison area going into the seminary, said he "could see from the very first moment they were holy, happy and very hard-working. I was very receptive to them."

Because societies are not connected to any one Catholic diocese, their seminarians can be ordained into the priesthood by any willing bishop. That's how Morlino came to ordain three society priests July 31 in Madison.

The Society of Jesus Christ the Priest seems to hew to a theologically traditionalist line that is in favor today and indirectly encouraged by the Vatican through a renewed emphasis on Latin Masses, said the Rev. Steven Avella, a history professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee and a Catholic priest.

"Priestly formation in general today seems to be harkening back to older models of clerical identity," Avella said. At some seminaries, for instance, the educational environment is exclusively male and seminarians and lay women don't mix, he said. Still, removing girls as altar servers is "unusual" in the U.S., he said.

Hiring foreign priests, however, is not uncommon - many U.S. dioceses are recruiting from "priest-rich" areas such as the Philippines and Nigeria to address a shortage, Avella said. Even if there were no priest shortage, Morlino said he would want the society priests here.

"There is no watering down, no ambiguity, just straight," he said of their Catholicism.

Making changes

Removing girls as altar servers was one of the initial changes the priests made. (The Vatican began allowing female servers in 1994.) Hood said that if the society is to succeed in encouraging more young men to enter the seminary, it must give boys as much time around priests as possible. Girls can distract and intimidate boys, he said.
Monday, December 14, 2009
"No Shades Between Valid and Invalid" - Bishop Williamson

I wanted to share these words from the recent issue of Dinoscopus - an email newsletter with the thoughts/writings of Bishop Richard Williamson. Emphasized items are underlined:
Now it is true that any one sacrament administered in real life will have been either valid or invalid. There are no more shades between valid and invalid than there are between pregnant and not pregnant. But if we consider the Conciliar sacraments being all the time administered throughout the Newchurch as a whole, we can only say some are valid, some are invalid, but they have all been placed on a slide towards invalidity by the Conciliar Rites' total thrust to replace the religion of God with the religion of man. That is why the Newchurch is on its way to disappearing altogether, and why the Society of St. Pius X can in no way allow itself to be absorbed into it.


Meanwhile, as to just how far down the slide is this or that priest, or even the Newchurch as a whole, I will apply the great principle of St. Augustine: "In things certain, unity; in things doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity". And within the framework of certainties such as, within the Newchurch neither already nothing, nor everything still, is Catholic, I mean to extend to my fellow-Catholics the same liberty to judge of things uncertain as I hope they will extend to me. Mother of God, obtain the rescue of the Church !
Saturday, December 12, 2009
December 2009 Christvs Regnat Issue

St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association would like to announce the publication of the December 2009 CHRISTVS REGNAT, which includes articles on the following topics:

  • Introduction to the Report to the Holy Father on the Second Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum
  • The Irish Liturgical Calendar
  • Report on Masses for the Year For Priests
  • and more....
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Blog Technology Updated

Hello, faithful readers of A Catholic Life. We have just updated the image system on the blog, so many posts use "lightbox" now, which allows you to view high-res versions of the images on the blog without redirecting to another page.

Here is an example, simply click on the image to bring up the high-resolution version. Hit escape, click on the border, or click on the "X" to close the floating image.

If you ever need help redesigning your blog or website, feel free to contact me, MJTA, at mjtanton+fromACL@gmail.com.

Image source: aiwaz.net/panopticon
Friday, December 4, 2009
Internet Explorer Viewers: Please Switch to Internet Explorer 8

Blog Readers:

A Catholic Life is undergoing a slight modification in its functionality, which will allow the incorporation of light box technology to photos. With this updated technology, you will have the ability to view the full-sized images of the blog on the page by simply clicking on the photo. The elegant transition and increased usability is made possible by a simple, unobtrusive script used to overlay images on the current page.

However, this technology has shown an incompatibility with prior versions of Internet Explorer. If you are a viewer of this blog and use Internet Explorer as your web browser, please switch to the new and improved Internet Explorer 8. You can download this FREE Upgrade from Microsoft.
O Antiphons: Sung by Edinburgh Gregorian Chant Schola

Host: Edinburgh Gregorian Chant Schola
Date: Thursday, December 17, 2009
Time: 5:00pm - 5:45pm
Location: St Mary's RC Cathedral
Street: Broughton Street
City/Town: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The Schola's principal Vespers for December sees the singing of Vespers during the "Great" Ferias leading up to Christmas. The keynote of each of these seven days is the "O Antiphon", sung at the Magnificat, which addresses Our Lord under various titles. They evoke the yearning of Isaiah, for the saviour to come.

The 17th of December invoked God as "Wisdom" (Sapientia): "O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence."

The hymn "O come, O come, Emmanuel" (in Latin, Veni Emmanuel) is a lyrical paraphrase of these Antiphons. The Vespers are sung in Gregorian Chant, with Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament following immediately thereafter after. Vespers will also be sung on Sundays the 13th and 17th in Broxburn and Glasgow. For further information, see the blog of the Edinburgh Schola

For more information on and to listen to the O Antiphons, please view my article on the O Antiphons.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
First Thursday of the Month: Plenary Indulgence Available

For the faithful, a plenary indulgence can be obtained on the opening and closing days of the Year for Priests, on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month, or on any other day established by the ordinaries of particular places for the good of the faithful.

To obtain the indulgence the faithful must attend Mass in an oratory or Church and offer prayers to "Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to his heart."
The conditions for the faithful for earning a plenary indulgence are to have gone to confession and prayed for the intentions of the Pope.

Source: Zenit
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Another Russian Orthodox Cathedral Built in Thailand

Moscow, November 24, Interfax - The building of Russian Orthodox Cathedral of All Saints in the city of Pattaya (Thailand) is finished.

The church has been built in eight months for donations of believers. The consecration of the church will take place under the celebrating of decade of Orthodoxy in Thailand on December 20 this year.

As it was told, the another church in Thailand of the Ascension of Our Lord will be build on Samuy island. The local arrival has already made a decision to buy the ground area which is located on the mountain slope near the sea.

There is also a wish to open the Russian cultural centre and a school at an Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on the Pkhuket island in Thailand.

Recently Russian Church has received the state registration in the country.

Image Source: Enthronement of Patriarch Krill in February 2009
Christ the King Parish, Sarasota, Florida

This past April 2009, the New Liturgical Movement commented on the Dedication of Christ the King Church in Sarasota, Florida (FSSP). The above image is from the New Liturgical Movement.

The following are the Mass times for this apostolate, and worthy of mention, during Mass times, you can watch the Mass using the Streaming Video Link from the website of the Christ the King Church in Sarasota.

Have any of you been there in person?

Mass Times:

Sunday: 8:30 am and 10:30 am
Mon - Sat: 9:00 am
Tues & Fri: also 6:30 pm


Sunday: 30 min before Mass
Mon - Fri: 8:15
Sat: after the 9:00 am Mass
Monday, November 23, 2009
Tridentine Latin Mass in Vilnius, Lithuania

On August 10, 2009, the priest Robert A. Skeris celebrated Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Gates of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Chants were performed by Schola Cantorum Vilnensis from Vilnius.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Last Sunday After Pentecost: Excerpt from Fr. Leonard Goffine's "The Liturgical Year"

COLLECT Quicken, we beseech Thee, 0 Lord, the wills of Thy faithful: that they, more earnestly seeking after the fruit of divine grace, may more abundantly receive the healing gifts of Thy mercy. Thro'.

EPISTLE (Col. I. 9—14.) Brethren, We cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: strengthened with all might according to the; power of his glory, in all patience and long-suffering with joy, giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins.

EXPLANATION In this epistle St. Paul teaches us to pray for our neighbor, and to thank God especially for the light of the true, only saving faith. Let us endeavor to imitate St. Paul in his love and zeal for the salvation of souls, then we shall also one day partake of his glorious reward in heaven.

Nineth Sunday After PentecostGOSPEL (Matt. XXIV. 15—35.) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth, let him understand: then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house: and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child, and that give suck, in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the Sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be: and unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then, if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there: do not believe him: for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you before hand: if therefore they shall say to you: Behold, he is in the desert, go ye not out; Behold, he is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming- of the Son of man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be moved: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty: and he shall send his an­gels with a trumpet and a great voice, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. And from the fig-tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors. Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.

EXPLANATION When you shall see the abomination of desolation. The abomination of desolation of which Daniel (IX. 27.) and Christ here speak, is the desecration of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by the rebellious Jews by perpetrating the most abominable vices, injustices and robberies, &c., but principally by the pagan Romans by putting up their idols. This destruction which was accomplished in the most fearful manner about forty years after the death of Christ, was foretold by Him according to the testimony of St. Luke. (XXI. 20.) At the same time He speaks of the end of the world and of His coming to judgment, of which the desolation of Jerusalem was a figure.

Pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the Sabbath. Because, as St. Jerome says, the severe cold which reigns in the deserts and mountains would pre­vent the people from going thither to seek security, and because it was forbidden by the law for the Jews to travel on the Sabbath.

There shall rise false Christs and false prophets. According to the testimony of the Jewish historian Josephus, who was an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem, Eleazar, John, Simon, &c., were such false prophets who under the pretence of helping the Jews, brought them into still greater misfortunes; before the end of the world it will be Antichrist with his followers, whom St. Paul calls the man of sin and the son of perdition, (II Thess. II. 3.) on account of his diabolical malice and cruelty. He will rise up, sit in the temple, proclaim himself God, and kill all who will not recognize him as such. His splendor, his promises and his false miracles will be such that even the holy and just will be in danger of being seduced, but for their sake God will shorten these days of persecution.

Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. That is, where the wicked are, who have aimed at spiritual corruption, there punishment will overtake and destroy them.

This generation shall not pass till all these things be done. By these words Christ defines the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and says that many of His hearers would live to see it, which also happened. But when the end of the world will come, He says, not even the angels in heaven know. (Matt. XXIV. 36.) Let us endeavor to be always ready by leading a holy life, for the coming of the divine Judge, and meditate often on the words of our di­vine Lord: Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.

(See the account of the Destruction of Jerusalem on the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.)

PRAYER Remove from us, O Lord, all that is calculated to rob us of Thy love. Break the bonds with which we are tied to the world, that we may not be lost with it. Give us the wings of eagles that we may soar above all worldly things by the contemplation of Thy sufferings, life and death, that we may hasten towards Thee now, and gather about Thee, that we may not become a prey to the rapacious enemy on the day of judgment. Amen.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
An Explanation and Tutorial on the Celebration of Holy Mass

This video beautifully illustrates the celebration of the Tridentine Latin Mass. For those wishing to learn all of the details of the Celebration of the Mass, please see this text of singular importance: The Celebration of Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal
The Anniversary of the Death of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria

In honor of the death of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, who ruled for 68 years, the third longest reign of recorded history in Europe. November 21, 1916, was the day on which he died. Let us pray for his soul today and for the people of Austria.

May the angels lead you into paradise; May the martyrs receive you at your arrival, And lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May the choirs of angels receive you,And with Lazarus, once poor, May you have eternal rest.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; In tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, Et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,Et cum Lazaro quondam paupere, Aeternam habeas requiem.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Aa-1025: The Memoirs of a Communist's Infiltration into the Church.

Thank you to the reader who sent me Aa-1025: The Memoirs of a Communist's infiltration in to the Church from my Wishlist on Amazon.com. I have really been looking forward to reading this book for some time! Thank you!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Release of Hymns of Mount Athos & The Glory of Byzantium: Christmas Hymns

On November 17, Jade Music/Milan Entertainment, Inc. is releasing the album "Hymns of Mount Athos" by the Choir of Monks from the Monastery of Simonos Petra. Legendary Mount Athos is home to twenty Orthodox monasteries with more than two thousand monks living, praying, singing and meditating. For centuries they have dedicated several hours of the day to liturgical chant, reflecting on their faith and the depth of Byzantine culture. Simonos Petra is a beautiful symbol of monastic life. Built in the 13th century, it is home today to sixty monks. This recording, Hymns of Mount Athos, is a testimony to the pure beauty of Orthodox chant.

Two weeks later, on December 1, we will release the album "The Glory of Byzantium: Christmas Hymns".

Following the success of The Glory Of Byzantium, Jade Music is releasing The Glory of Byzantium: Christmas Hymns. The album features the Byzantine Choir Of Greece under the direction of Lycourgos Angelopoulos. Compositions on this recording were mostly written by composers of the 17th and 18th centuries; Petros Bereketis, Hourmouzios Hartofylax, Petros Lampadarios, and Petros Peloponnisios among others. These centuries belong to the most important when it comes to post-Byzantine art.

While I have not listened to either of these CDs yet, I am interested in them since Jade Music has consistently provided high quality products in the past. For a list of other Music CDs by them, please click on "Music Reviews."

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