Friday, August 30, 2019
The 4 Type of Penance

Our Lady, when she appeared in 1917 in Fatima, repeatedly called for penance - penance for our own sins and for the sins of others. But what is penance? Our Lord called explicitly for us to do penance: "Unless you do penance, you will perish" (Luke 13:3).

So many people assume penance is only fasting or praying an extra Rosary. There are actually four major types of penance that we can perform to satisfy sin (our own sins and those of others) and to help prevent current or future sins.

Definition of Penance from the Father Hardon Modern Catholic Dictionary:

The virtue or disposition of heart by which one repents of one's own sins and is converted to God. Also the punishment by which one atones for sins committed, either by oneself or by others. And finally the sacrament of penance, where confessed sins committed after baptism are absolved by a priest in the name of God.

Hence penance is sometimes used to refer to the means we can make restitution to God for the sins we have committed and from which we have already been forgiven. The four types of penance to do so are listed below. This is different from the "Sacrament of Penance," which is another term for the Sacrament of Confession.

The Four Type of Penance:
  1. Willing Acceptance of Crosses. In this life, we are prone to receive daily crosses which Divine Providence chooses to send to us. Whether it be headaches, car troubles, family issues, financial problems, terminations on the job, or others, if we willingly accept these in patience and with the intention of making reparation, these are very meritorious. In fact, such crosses are called "tokens of God's love" by the Council of Trent. In fact, willingly accepting hardships, rather than choosing our penance, is more meritorious.
  2. Faithful Discharge of our Duties of State. If we perform our duties of state with the proper intention, and of course, in the state of grace, we can make fitting penance in reparation for sins. Rather than doing them in the spirit of rancor, if we accept our long days, difficulties in raising the children, our difficulties in living out our vows or promises, etc., we can make reparation. Like the first category, it is more meritorious to faithfully fulfill our state in life than to choose to fast if, in so doing, we are neglecting the responsibilities God has placed in our lives.
  3. Fasting and Almsgiving. Fasting is the denial of pleasure which therefore helps put an order in our souls and makes satisfaction for sin. Fasting also helps us to combat the vices of impurity and to grow in the virtue of temperance. Some sins, our Lord taught, can only be conquered through prayer and fasting (cf. Matthew 17:21). Almsgiving refers to giving to the poor. By giving to the poor, we make reparation for sins as we see in the poor the person of Christ Himself. Though, while not strictly almsgiving, the giving of our time to visit the sick, the elderly, or those in prison also makes reparation for sin.
  4. Privations and Mortifications. Saying an extra Rosary, stopping at the cemetery to pray, saying the Stations of the Cross every Friday, and other such practices are ways we can add privations to our own lives. Mortifications are helpful as well. Through mortification, which unlike privations is more focused on preventing future and current sins rather than satisfying for past ones, can involve four types. We can observe the mortifications of the exterior senses, the interior senses, the passions, or the higher faculties (i.e., the will and the intellect).
There is a proliferation of sin in the world. The unborn who are slaughtered in abortion demand justice. The sins of the entire world demand satisfaction. If we, Traditional Catholics, are not making reparation for them, who is? Our Lady at Fatima, Lourdes, La Salette, and elsewhere has always focused on reparation. Let us make fitting reparation each and every day. Let a day not pass when we are not making reparations.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Friday, August 16, 2019
Assumptiontide: Within the Octave of the Assumption

While the Novus Ordo calendar unfortunately only has 2 octaves, traditional Catholics will be familiar with the idea of multiple overlapping Octaves.  The practice of celebrating an Octave, while not only traced to the time spent by the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary awaiting the Paraclete, also has its origins in the Old Testament eight-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36) and the Dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 7:9). Very truly, Christ did not come to abolish the Old Law but to fulfill it.

By the 8th century, Rome had developed liturgical octaves not only for Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas but also for the Epiphany and the feast of the dedication of a church.

After 1568, when Pope Pius V reduced the number of octaves (since by then they had grown considerably), the number of Octaves was still plentiful.  Octaves were classified into several types. Easter and Pentecost had "specially privileged" octaves, during which no other feast whatsoever could be celebrated. Christmas, Epiphany, and Corpus Christi had "privileged" octaves, during which certain highly ranked feasts might be celebrated. The octaves of other feasts allowed even more feasts to be celebrated.

To reduce the repetition of the same liturgy for several days, Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X made further distinctions, classifying octaves into three primary types: privileged octaves, common octaves, and simple octaves. Privileged octaves were arranged in a hierarchy of first, second, and third orders. For the first half of the 20th century, octaves were ranked in the following manner, which affected holding other celebrations within their timeframes:
  • Privileged Octaves
    • Privileged Octaves of the First Order
      • Octave of Easter
      • Octave of Pentecost
    • Privileged Octaves of the Second Order
      • Octave of Epiphany
      • Octave of Corpus Christi
    • Privileged Octaves of the Third Order
      • Octave of Christmas
      • Octave of the Ascension
      • Octave of the Sacred Heart
  • Common Octaves
    • Octave of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM
    • Octave of the Solemnity of St. Joseph
    • Octave of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
    • Octave of Saints Peter and Paul
    • Octave of All Saints
    • Octave of the Assumption of the BVM
  • Simple Octaves
    • Octave of St. Stephen
    • Octave of St. John the Apostle
    • Octave of the Holy Innocents 
Traditional Catholics still attached to the pre-1962 Missal will be familiar with the above list of Octaves. And while Assumptiontide is not a liturgical season per se, this period of time between the Feast of the Assumption and that of the Immaculate Heart (on August 22nd which is on the Octave Day not by mere coincidence) can be a time for us to continue to pray to our Lady who was truly bodily and soul assumed into Heaven.

We can live out this forgotten Octave by adding to our daily prayers the Collect from the Assumption:

O Lord, we beseech Thee, forgive the transgressions of thy servants, and, forasmuch as by our own deeds we cannot please thee, may we find safety through the prayers of the Mother of Thy Son and our Lord.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Vigil of the Assumption

On August 14th, the day before the Assumption of Mary, the Church celebrates a penitential, violet Mass on this day of preparation. For Eastern Catholics, the weeks preceding the Assumption are kept in fasting and in penance. For those Catholics in the Latin Rite, the average Roman Catholic does not know of or participate in this period of preparation. However, any Catholic certainly may foster this spirit of penance in preparation for the Assumption.

The Roman Rite of the Church in the 1962 Missal preserves a Vigil for today. It was also previously held as a day of penance. We can observe such penance by fasting and abstaining from meat today.

Catholicism is not merely an intellectual activity. While we are correct to study, the Faith requires the consent of our wills. We must conform our lives to Christ’s and His Church. We can do this by actually praying and performing actual penance. As a result, the greatest takeaway today is the need to do preparation in the form of prayer and mortification.

And finally, since tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation, we should make every effort to do any errands, cleaning, shopping, or work today. We should refrain from working tomorrow and keep the entire day as a Sunday in rest, prayer, relaxation, and attendance at Holy Mass.

Read today's Mass propers including the commemoration of today's saint, St. Eusebius.


O God, You willed to choose the womb of Blessed Mary as Your dwelling place. Grant that we may joyfully celebrate her feast under the shield of her protection; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .
Friday, August 9, 2019
Vigil of St. Lawrence

August 9th is a liturgical oddity in many respects in the 1962 Calendar and Divine Office. Whereas in the pre-1955 Office today is the Feastday of St. John Vianney with a Commemoration of the Vigil of St. Lawrence and a Commemoration of St. Romanus, in the 1962 Office it is the Vigil of St. Lawrence with a Commemoration of St. Romanus. 

While nearly all Vigils were removed between 1954 and 1962 from the Calendar (e.g. Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, Vigils for the Apostles feastdays, Vigil of All Saints, etc), the Vigil of St. Lawrence alone remained. And what is really unique is that in the 1962 Office today's Vespers is of the Vigil of St. Lawrence and not 1st Vespers for St. Lawrence. This is a true oddity.

Let us keep in mind today that as a Vigil we should perform penance in anticipation for tomorrow's feastday of one of the greatest Deacons in the Church - St. Lawrence. May he, the glorious martyr St. Lawrence, intercede for all clerics and all the Faithful in the Church. Today was kept as a fast day for instance in some Western Colonies of the United States longer than in some other areas.

In keeping with the ancient custom for this Vigil, let us observe it as a day of fasting and abstinence. In years when the Vigil falls on a Sunday, the fasting and abstinence were anticipated on Saturday prior to the changes under Pope St. Pius X.

Today is also the Commemoration of St. Romanus, the neophyte who died just days before St. Lawrence. May his prayers help preserve us from sin and help us win the grace of final perserverance.


Attend, O Lord, to Our supplications, and by the intercession of Thy blessed martyr, Lawrence, whose feast we anticipate, graciously bestow upon us Thy everlasting mercy.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that by the intercession of blessed Romanus, Thy martyr, we may both be delivered from all adversities in body and be purified from all evil thoughts in mind. Through our Lord, etc.
Friday, August 2, 2019
Commemoration of Pope St. Stephen I

While August 2nd is liturgically dedicated to St. Alphonsus Liguori, the traditional Catholic calendar also includes a commemoration to St. Stephen I today.

Pope Saint Stephen I, was a Roman by birth. He was chosen as the Pope on May 3, 253, and governed the Church for three years. He decided on the question of the validity of Baptism when administered by heretics, ordering that the tradition should be preserved according to which it was sufficient that they receive confirmation.

Pope Stephen I reigned during the vicious persecutions of Valerian and Gallienus, and was forced even to conduct his Church councils in the martyrs' crypts. On August 2, 257, as he was finishing his Mass, his persecutors seized him and put him to death while seated in his episcopal chair in the catacombs.

As a reminder, today is also the day to gain the Portuncula Indulgence.


O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Stephen I shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this Martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . . .

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