Wednesday, May 27, 2020
A History of Holy Days of Obligation & Fasting for American Catholics: Part 1

Note: I would like to thank Tyler Gonzalez for helping considerably with the research for this article. This two-part article was rearranged and published in two pieces by Latin Mass Magazine and is also maintained here by their permission. For those pieces in LMM, see "The Forgotten History of Fasting for American Catholics" (Christmas 2020) and "Oases in Modern Life: The History of American Holy Days of Obligation" (Fall 2021).

The American Catholic Quarterly (ACQ) Review, Volume 11 offers an insightful series of reflections on Holy Days with a call for us to observe these as our forefathers in the life gladly did:
"The Church by one of her positive commandments requires the faithful to sanctify certain holydays in the year by taking part in the offering of the great sacrifice of the Mass and by abstaining from servile works. To many, it has doubtless seemed strange that the holydays thus prescribed were not the same throughout the world fixed irrevocably and known by all in every country on the face of the earth. Still more strange has it seemed that in a republic like our own where the Church though the oldest of all the institutions existing can boast of little more than three centuries and a half of history there have been diversities before the recently held Third Plenary Council of Baltimore [in 1884] made a step towards absolute uniformity.
"In the days of faith and fervor not only were the great festivals prescribed by the Church, those associated with the life of our Lord and His Blessed Mother, those intimately connected with the work of redemption, and the feasts of the holy apostles by whose ministry the Church was established and the channels of grace led through the world - not only were these kept reverently but the patronal feast of each country, diocese, and church, the days of the most famous local saints were similarly honored. The devotion was general, and whoso refused to lay aside his implements of trade or traffic on their days was so condemned by public opinion that custom made the law."
Interestingly, because the Church enjoined on the Faithful both the obligation to hear Mass as well as to refrain from servile work, the number of holy days, which included Sundays, was significant. Some people began to revolt against the Church claiming that these practices only increased poverty. But as the Journal notes, an interesting phenomenon occurred:
"Protestantism therefore at once swept away all the holydays and Christmas remained almost alone to represent the Church calendar, and the Puritans even punished those who kept Christmas.With men working all the year round except on Sunday, wealth was to be general, the poor would thrive and prosper and be happy and contented, no longer lured from great and ennobling labor by being called away every week to idle some days in church and prayer. It was again unfortunate that this excellent theory did not work well. The poor seemed to grow actually poorer with all these days of labor than they had been before."
The first catalog of Holy Days comes from the Decretals of Gregory IX in 1234, which listed 45 Holy Days. In 1642, His Holiness Pope Urban VIII issued the papal bull "Universa Per Orbem" which altered the required Holy Days of Obligation for the Universal Church to consist of 35 such days as well as the principal patrons of one's locality.
  1. Nativity of Our Lord
  2. Circumcision of Our Lord
  3. Epiphany of Our Lord
  4. Monday within the Octave of the Resurrection
  5. Tuesday within the Octave of the Resurrection
  6. Ascension
  7. Monday within the Octave of Pentecost
  8. Tuesday within the Octave of Pentecost
  9. Most Holy Trinity
  10. Corpus Christi
  11. Finding of the Holy Cross (May 3)
  12. Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  13. Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  14. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  15. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  16. Dedication of St. Michael
  17. Nativity of St. John the Baptist
  18. SS. Peter and Paul
  19. St. Andrew
  20. St. James
  21. St. John (the December feast day)
  22. St. Thomas
  23. SS. Philip and James
  24. St. Bartholomew
  25. St. Matthew
  26. SS. Simon and Jude
  27. St. Matthias
  28. St. Stephen the First Martyr (the December feast day)
  29. The Holy Innocents
  30. St. Lawrence
  31. St. Sylvester
  32. St. Joseph
  33. St. Anne
  34. All Saints
  35. Principle Patrons of One’s Country, City, etc.
Some of the Holy Days of Obligation removed between 1234 and 1642 included Holy Monday through Holy Saturday in addition to Easter Wednesday through Easter Saturday.

In 1708, Pope Clement XI added the Conception of the Blessed Virgin to the list in his papal bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus. Before the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, the feast was often referred to as the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary without the word "Immaculate."

Holy Days of Obligation in the Colonies:

Not long after the proclamation of this bull do we see changes occurring for those living in the colonies in the New World as American Catholic Review illustrates:
"The Diocesan Synod held in 1688 by Bishop Palacios of Santiago de Cuba fixed as holydays for that diocese in which Florida was then embraced and from 1776 to 1793 Louisiana also the following: All the Sundays of the year, Circumcision, Epiphany, Purification, St Mathias, St Joseph, the Annunciation, Sts Philip and James, the Finding of the Holy Cross, St John Baptist, Sts Peter and Paul, St James, St Anne, St Lawrence, the Assumption, St Bartholomew, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, St Matthew, St Michael, St Simon and St Jude, All Saints, St Andrew, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, St Thomas, Christmas, St Stephen, St John, Holy Innocents, and St Sylvester, Easter Sunday and the two following days, Ascension, Whit Sunday and two following days, Corpus Christi. A bull of Pope Clement X added St Ferdinand, St Rose 'National Patroness of the Indies', and a bull of Innocent XI added St Augustine, August 28th."
Fasting & Abstinence Days in the South East Colonies:

The Church's Liturgical Year is a harmonious interplay of feasts and fasts interwoven in both the temporal and sanctoral cycles that define the rhythm and rhyme of Catholic life. Our ancestors in the New World in Florida and Louisiana would have known the following days of fast:
"The fasting days were all days in Lent; the Ember days; the of eves of Christmas, Candlemas, Annunciation, Assumption, All Saints, the feasts of the Apostles except St Philip and St James and St John, nativity of St John the Baptist; all Fridays except within twelve days of Christmas and between Easter and Ascension, and the eve of Ascension" (ACQ).
For abstinence from meat, they would have observed:
"All Sundays in Lent, all Saturdays throughout the year, Monday and Tuesday before Ascension, and St Mark's day were of abstinence from flesh meat" (ACQ).
It should be noted that in 1089 Pope Urban II granted a dispensation to Spain from abstinence on Fridays, in virtue of the Spanish efforts in the Crusades. After the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Pope St. Pius V expanded that privilege to all Spanish colonies. That dispensation remained in place in some places as late as 1951 when the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the last territory to invoke it, rescinded the privilege.

Fasting & Abstinence Days in the Western Colonies:

In Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California which were included in the ecclesiastical province of Mexico, the feasts and were regulated by the Third Council of Mexico in 1585, as American Catholic Quarterly Review states:
"In these parts besides those already [mentioned above for Florida], the faithful observed as holy days of obligation St Fabian and St Sebastian (January 20th), St Thomas Aquinas (March 7th), St Mark (April 25th), St Barnabas (June 1), the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin (July 2), St Mary Magdalene (July 22), St Dominic (Aug 4), the Transfiguration (Aug 6), St Francis (Oct 4), St Luke (Oct 18), St Catharine (Nov 25), the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin (Dec 18). 
"The fast days were all days in Lent except Sunday; eves of Christmas, Whit Sunday, St Mathias, St John the Baptist, St Peter and St Paul, St James, St Lawrence, Assumption, St Bartholomew, St Matthew, St Simon and St Jude, All Saints, St Andrew, and St Thomas."
Holy Days & Fasting Days for Native Americans:

The papal bull "Altitudo Divini Concilii" of Pope Paul III in 1537 reduced the days of penance and those of hearing Mass for the Indians out of pastoral concern due to the physically demanding lifestyle that they lived and also largely due to the fact that they fasted so much already. As a result, the natives were required to only hear Mass on a much smaller number of days: Sundays, Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, Annunciation, Sts Peter and Paul, Ascension, Corpus Christi, the Assumption, and the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. And the only fasting days were the Fridays in Lent, Holy Saturday, and Christmas Eve. Pope Paul III also dispensed them from the precept of abstaining from dairy, egg, and flesh meat on certain days as well.

Holy Days in Canada & the Midwest:

Bishop François de Laval, the first Bishop of Quebec, on December 3, 1667, set the required Holy Days for Canada in accord with the bull of Pope Urban VIII. To those he added St. Francis Xavier, and in 1687, he likewise added St. Louis IX. Bishop François de Laval was declared a saint by equipollent canonization in April 2014 and is known to us now as Saint Francis-Xavier de Montmorency-Laval.

Quoting from the archives of Quebec, the American Catholic Quarterly Review lists the Holy Days in place as 1694:
"The holy days of obligation as recognized officially in 1694 were Christmas, St Stephen, St John, the Evangelist, Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, St Matthew, St Joseph "patron of the country," Annunciation, St Philip and St James, St John the Baptist, St Peter and St Paul, St James, St Anne, St Lawrence, Assumption, St Bartholomew, St Louis "titular of the Cathedral of Quebec," Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, St Matthew, St Michael, St Simon and St Jude, All Saints, St Andrew, St Francis Xavier, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin "titular the Cathedral," St Thomas, Easter Monday and Tuesday, Ascension, Whitsun Monday and Tuesday, Corpus Christi, and the patronal feast of each parish."
These holy days were likewise in force in many current American states under Quebec's jurisdiction as the journal elaborates:
"These were the holydays observed in the French settlements in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as in Louisiana, Mobile, and the country west of the Mississippi till that district passing under the Spanish rule was reclaimed about 1776 as part of the diocese of Santiago de Cuba. East of the Mississippi they continued to be in force certainly till the Holy See detached those parts of its territory from the diocese of Quebec and annexed them to the newly erected diocese of Baltimore. 
Thus, we see that little more than 100 years after Universa Per Orbem the observance of various holy days and fast days in the life of Catholics in the New World was already significantly reduced from those observed in Rome.

Significant Changes Occur in the 1700s for the Universal Church:

In 1741, Pope Benedict XIV, who lamented the decline in the Lenten observance, issued Non Ambigimus on May 31, 1741, granting permission to eat meat on fasting days while explicitly forbidden the consumption of both fish and flesh meat at the same meal on all fasting days during the year in addition to the Sundays during Lent. The concept of partial abstinence was born even though the term would not appear until the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

Changes likewise occurred for Holy Days. In 1750, little more than one hundred years after "Universa Per Orbem," Pope Benedict XIV extended to the Spanish American colonies the indult previously granted to Catholic Spain reducing the days of obligation to all Sundays of the year, Christmas, St. Stephen, the Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, Easter Monday, Annunciation, Monday after Pentecost Sunday, Corpus Christi, Ascension, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, the Assumption, St. James, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, All Saints, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the patron of each locality.

In 1771, Pope Clement XIV abolished both Pentecost Tuesday and Easter Tuesday as days of rest, according to Weiser's Christian Feasts and Customs. In 1778, the obligation to attend Mass on these two days was abrogated by Pope Pius VI, although they were not observed as Holy Days in most places, including in America.

Holy Days in Ireland

Table is taken from the Irish Ecclesiastical Record

It must be stated that the gradual removal of Holy Days was not limited to the New World only. The Irish Ecclesiastical Record from 1882 describes a similar trend in Ireland:
"The full list of holidays of obligation as laid down in the Canon Law. This is the list drawn up by Urban VIII (Universa, September 13, 1642), with the addition of the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, instituted by Clement XI in 1708. The holidays thus enumerated are 35 in number. I have of course included in the list the feast of St. Patrick, as holding in Ireland the place of the [patron] mentioned by Urban VIII in the constitution of 1642." 
There was a distinction between days of single or double precept. Days of double precept required hearing Mass and restraining from servile works, while days of half precept only required hearing Mass. Pope Benedict XIV in 1755 removed 18 feasts from double precept and reduced them to single precept. Shortly thereafter in 1778, Pope Pius VI reduced the number of holy days to 13. And as the Record states, "On this occasion, the obligation of hearing Mass was removed, as well as the obligation of abstaining from servile works."

Regarding fasting, we likewise see a reduction: "The number of those Vigils to which the obligation of fasting had been attached [as of 1778] was in fact but eight - these being the Vigils of the feast of St. Laurence the Martyr (August 9th), and of seven of the nine suppressed feasts of the Apostles." No fasting was observed beforehand on the Vigil of St. John on December 26 or the Vigil of Ss. Philip and James on account of them always falling in Christmas and Pascaltide respectively.

This reduction was likewise occurring in the British Colonies.

Holy Days & Fasting Days in England and Her Colonies:
"The Catholics of the British Isles, after the reform of Pope Urban VIII kept as obligatory: Christmas, the feasts of St Stephen, St John, Holy Innocents, and St Sylvester, Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, the feasts of St Mathias and St Joseph, Annunciation, Sts Philip and James, Finding of the Holy Cross, St John the Baptist, Sts Peter and Paul, St James, St Anne, St Lawrence, the Assumption, St Bartholomew, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, St Matthew, St Michael, Sts Simon and Jude, All Saints, St Andrew and St Thomas, and one of the principal patrons of the city, province, or kingdom. These were the holydays of obligation observed by the Catholics in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania."
Unfortunately, the practice of the Catholic Religion was illegal in England. Catholicism was made illegal in 1559 under Queen Elizabeth I, and for 232 years, except during the reign of the Catholic James II (1685-1688), the Catholic Mass was illegal until 1791. Yet most Catholics could not hold any public office and had few civil rights even after 1791. It took the Emancipation Act of 1829 to restore most civil rights to Catholics in England. To these souls, most were unable to observe the Holy Days. The penalty of observing the Catholic Faith was death as the English Martyrs bear witness to. Likewise, due to persecution from the protestants, concessions were made for Catholics under the yoke of Protestantism in the British Isles.

On March 9, 1777, Pope Pius VI "dispensed all Catholics in the kingdom of Great Britain from the precept of hearing Mass and abstaining from servile works on all holydays except the Sundays of the year, the feasts of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Annunciation, Easter Monday, Ascension, Whitsun Monday, Corpus Christi, St Peter and St Paul, Assumption, and All Saints." The feast of the patron was likewise kept. These were the holy days in place at the time of the American Revolution though not all areas observed them, as was seen in the special dispensation for Catholics in Maryland from 1722.

The fasting days were also reduced at the same time to consist of the Ember Days; the forty days Lent; Wednesdays and Fridays in Advent; and the vigils of Christmas, Whitsun Sunday (i.e. Pentecost), Sts Peter and Paul, and All Saints. As the Catholic Dictionary of 1861 states in regards to the changes made in 1777: "The Vigils of the Feasts thus abrogated his Holiness transferred to the Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent, on which he ordered that fast should be kept as in Lent or Embertide, 'although it is an English custom to keep fasts and vigils on Friday.' The pope adds a power to the Vicars Apostolic to dispense from the precept of abstaining from servile works on SS. Peter and Paul falling in the hay-harvest, and the Assumption in the wheat-harvest, provided Mass has been previously heard, if possible."

Part II will cover the history of holy days and fasting from America's foundation to the present. Click here to read Part 2.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Why is the Ascension Mentioned in the Canon of the Mass?

Dom Gueranger reflects in his unparalleled Liturgical Year as to why the Ascension is always mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. Here he expresses similar noteworthy sentiments:
The feast of the Ascension shows us the work of God in its completion. Hence it is that the Church, in her daily offering of the holy sacrifice, thus addresses the eternal Father: the words occur immediately after the consecration, and contain the motives of her confidence in the divine mercy: ‘Wherefore, O Lord, we Thy servants, as also Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed Passion of Christ Thy Son our Lord, His Resurrection from the dead, and His admirable Ascension into heaven, offer unto Thy most excellent Majesty a pure, holy, and unspotted Host.’ 
It is not enough for man to hope in the merits of his Redeemer’s Passion, which cleansed him from his sins; it is not enough for him to add to the commemoration of the Passion that of the Resurrection, whereby our Redeemer conquered death; man is not saved, he is not reinstated, except by uniting these two mysteries with a third: the Ascension of the same Jesus who was crucified and rose again.
Feast of the Translation of the Relics of St. Dominic

May 24th is in the Dominican Order the "Translation of our Holy Father St. Dominic." This feast is in some places of the Order greater in solemnity than St. Dominic's feast day on August 4th. Today recalls the translation of St. Dominic's relics 12 years after his death.

Breviarium SOP summarizes:
Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of the Translation of the Relics of Our Holy Father St. Dominic.  Since today is the Vigil of the Ascension, only a commemoration of the feast is at Lauds.  This is one of the three (3) traditional feast days in the Dominican calendar that were dedicated to our holy Father St. Dominic.  The other two being his feast day (August 4) and the miraculous appearance of a painting attributed to him at the Convent of San Domenico in Soriano Calabria in 1530 (feast day September 15 in the 1909 calendar, and September 25 in later calendars).
From the Martyrology:
At Bologna, the transferal of the body of our Father St. Dominic. At the time of Pope Gregory IX his sacred body was transferred to a worthier place. In addition to the other miracles which occurred, his body gave forth an aroma of such great fragrance that all who were present were filled with a wonderful joy. Thus did God beautifully indicate how pleasing to Him was the excelling sanctity of His apostle.
The account of St. Dominic's translation from the Dominican Nuns at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus in Lufkin, TX:
St. Dominic died on August 6, 1221. For some reason (his successor as Master of the Order of Preachers, Blessed Jordan of Saxony, refers gently to the "brothers whose simplicity outweighed their prudence") he was simply buried in the church of St. Nicholas of the Vineyards in Bologna, Italy and more or less forgotten by the brethren, who were apparently too busy carrying on Dominic's work to think of Dominic himself! Some, as Blessed Jordan points out, disagreed with this policy, but they "offered no opposition because they were fainthearted." It doesn't speak well for the first followers of St. Dominic! Finally, twelve years after Dominic's death, Pope Gregory IX encouraged the brethren to move his body to a more suitable tomb. The brethren had misgivings about this, fearing that Dominic's body--which "had lain in a mean tomb exposed to the elements"--would be found decomposed. However, their fears were foolish. When the tomb was opened "a wonderful odor poured out from the opening and its fragrance caused astonishment among those present. Everyone shed tears and feelings of joy, of fear and of hope rose in all hearts." The body was taken to its new  tomb (or "translated", hence the name of today's memorial). Blessed Jordan writes, "This marvelous aroma, which the holy body breathed forth, was evidence to everyone how much the saint had truly been the aroma of Christ." This day, May 24, 1233, was the beginning of the canonization process of Dominic and it was completed on July 3, 1234, when he officially became St. Dominic. Since 1267 St. Dominic's remains have resided in this tomb in Bologna.

O God, you were pleased to enlighten your church with the merits and teaching of the blessed Dominic, your confessor and our father; grant, at his intercession, that she may not be wanting in temporal help, and may always increase in spiritual growth. Through our Lord...
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Minor Rogation Days

Image Source: FSSP

This year the Minor Rogation, the days leading up to Ascension Thursday, are May 18 - 20 inclusive. Dom Alcuin Reid recently gave a monastic conference on the Minor Rogation Days where he said in part:
Their observance is now similar in format to the Greater Litanies of April 25th, but these three days have a different origin, having been instituted in Gaul in the fifth century as days of fasting, abstinence and abstention from servile work in which all took part in an extensive penitential procession, often barefoot. The procession and litanies only found a place in the Roman liturgy much later (around the beginning of the ninth century) and even then purely as days of rogation – of intercession – rather than as ones of fasting and penance; the latter being deemed incompatible with the nature of Eastertide.
He continued:
Indeed, this ancient tradition itself is now widely lost in the West. How many Catholics understand what is meant by the greater or lesser litanies, or by the expression “the Rogations” – clergy included? 
Dom Guéranger himself lamented the lack of appreciation of the Rogations in his own day: “If we compare the indifference shown by the Catholics of the present age for the Rogation days, with the devotion wherewith our ancestors kept them, we cannot but acknowledge that there has been a great falling off in faith and piety. Knowing, as we do, the great importance attached to these processions by the Church, we cannot help wondering how it is that there are so few among the faithful who assist at them. Our surprise increases when we find persons preferring their own private devotions to these public prayers of the Church, which, to say nothing of the result of good example, merit far greater graces than any exercises of our own choosing.” (Ibid.)
The Minor Rogation Days go back to 470 AD when Bishop Mamertus of Vienne in Gaul instituted an annual observance of penance on the three days immediately before the Feast of the Ascension. He prescribed litanies (processions) for all three days. Thereafter they spread to the Frankish part of France in 511, to Spain in the 6th century, and to the German part of the Frankish empire in 813.  In 816, Pope Leo III incorporated the lesser litanies into the Roman Liturgy, and during the subsequent centuries, the custom of holding these litanies was customary for each year.

While the Lesser Litanies (i.e., Minor Rogation Days) are kept on the three days leading up to Ascension Day, Father Francis Weiser notes an important exception: "Pope Pius XII granted to some Catholic missions in the Pacific Islands the permission to celebrate both the major and minor litanies in October or November" (Christian Feasts and Customs, p. 42).

Observe the Minor Rogation Days:

I greatly encourage people to observe these days and spend time praying the Litany of Saints not only for a bountiful harvest but also for mercy and repentance. Today is also a day we could fast or at least abstain from meat as penance to implore the mercy of God during our present chastisement. Rome enjoined abstinence from meat on everyone these days. Other places, like the Churches in Gaul where Rogation Days originated, required fasting. Fasting was championed as well by St. Charles Borromeo in Milan although Rome has never obligated fasting during the Pascal Season.

Prayer from the Rogation Mass of the ancient Gallican rite:

It is from thee, O Lord, we receive the food, wherewith we are daily supported; to thee also do we offer these fasts, whereby, according to thy command, we put upon our flesh the restraint from dangerous indulgence. Thou hast so ordered the changes of seasons, as to afford us consolation: thus the time for eating gives nourishment to the body, by sober repasts; and the time for fasting inflicts on them a chastisement pleasing to thy justice. Vouchsafe to bless and receive this our offering of a three days' penitential fast; and mercifully grant, that whilst our bodies abstain from gratification, our souls also may rest from sin. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect of the Rogation Mass:

Mercifully grant us our requests, O Lord, that the consolation we receive in our grievous troubles may increase our love for You.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.
Friday, May 15, 2020
COVID19's Positive Impact for Catholic Tradition

Beyond live streaming the typical Sunday Mass that most Catholics would be accustomed to attending (the Novus Ordo Mass), live streaming during COVID19 specifically allowed lesser-known Catholic traditions to have a significantly larger audience.

For instance, most Catholic parishes that celebrate the Traditional (Tridentine) Latin Mass have live-streamed all of their Masses, including daily masses. The Tridentine Mass is the manner that all Masses were said before the changes in the late 1960s. This changed in 1969. While Mass is still sometimes said in Latin, it is much more uncommon. And in addition to the language changing, the very format of the Mass — its prayers, rituals, gestures, and practices — was arguably altered in the most significant way in history. Most of these priests, aside from a few specific cases, did not live stream or record their Masses beforehand.

A subset of these priests during Holy Week celebrated the Mass using the rubrics that existed before the changes to the Church’s Liturgy (i.e., Her public prayers and rituals) by Pope Pius XII in 1955. In 1955, Pope Pius XII significantly changed the prayers, readings, and rituals for Holy Week. Those changes were embodied in the 1962 Catholic Missal, which most Tridentine Masses follow. In the past few decades, there has been a call for a return to the pre-1955 Holy Week ceremonies.

In response to these calls, the Vatican permitted the pre-1955 ceremonies on a three-year trial period starting in 2018. In 2018 and 2019, they were attended by self-proclaimed liturgy nerds and some of the most traditional Catholics. The number of Catholics who witnessed these pre-1955 liturgies in either 2018 or 2019 numbered likely 5,000 or less.

By contrast, the YouTube channel Sensus Fidelium, which as of May 13, 2020, has 144,000 subscribers, live-streamed these older pre-1955 liturgies from just three different chapels in the United States. Across those three locations only, the channel’s organizer, Steve Cunningham, said that these older liturgies generated over 100,000 page views: “Many non-Catholics saw it and love it.” Over a dozen other pre-1955 Masses were live-streamedfrom chapels that had beforehand not live streamed their services. It is realistic that live streaming has at least quadrupled the number of Catholics who saw the pre-1955 Liturgy this year. Steve added in referring to Tridentine Masses offered on other Sundays outside of Holy Week, “Many [average Catholics] saw a [Tridentine Latin] High Mass for the first time.”

Continue Reading on
9 Days of Prayer for Muslims

In another clear departure from authentic Catholic teaching, Pope Francis asked that on May 14th, believers of all religions unite together on a day of prayer and fasting, imploring God for the end of this coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we know that Catholics may not pray with any other religion as all other religions are false. There is no salvation outside of the Church.

The Church has in her saints uncompromisingly condemned Islam as false teaching brought about by a false, deceived prophet. See what the saints have written about Islam. And if you would like more information, I recommend The Life and Religion of Mohammed the Prophet of Arabia by Rev. J. L. Menezes. A PDF summary of the book is also available for sale.

We pray for the conversion of all of these men and women that they will see and understand that the Blessed Trinity is the one, true and only God and that Jesus Christ, the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity, is the last and greatest of all of the prophets. Christ is the chief priest, prophet, and king of all times, peoples, and nations.

Interreligious Gatherings Are Explicitly Prohibited

One manifestation of error in our world today is the pernicious error that interreligious gatherings are acceptable. Further compounding this grave error are the errors of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis who attended such gatherings. Rather than striving to convert souls and win them over for Christ in the only True Church, outside of which no one is saved, they have caused scandal at the very rock of the Church’s foundation. St. Pius X in Notre Charge Apostolique (1910 AD) unequivocally condemned such interdenominational gatherings.

The Church’s position condemning such gatherings is manifestly clear. The Council of Laodicea in 365 AD stated, “No one shall pray in common with heretics and schismatics.” St. Cyril of Alexandria echoed these same sentiments when he said, “It is therefore unlawful, and a profanation, and an act the punishment of which is death, to love to associate with unholy heretics, and to unite yourself to their communion.” Likewise, the Council of Carthage in the fifth century decreed, “One must neither pray nor sing psalms with heretics, and whoever shall communicate with those who are cut off from the communion of the Church, whether clergy or layman: let him be excommunicated.”

Continue reading "He Who Prays with a Heretic is a Heretic"

9 Days of Prayers for Muslims

From May 16th to May 24th I am joining other Catholics who are calling for 9 days of prayers for the conversion of Muslims to the Catholic Faith. This year the main Muslim holiday of Eid falls at the end of this time. Can you join us in praying daily the Chapel of the Holy Wounds for this intention?

Let us Pray:

O Jesus, true God and true Man, Redeemer of the whole world, we beseech Thee through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to turn Thine eyes of mercy on those peoples who for so many centuries have been enslaved beneath the cruel yoke of Islam. Grant that they may no more scorn Thy most holy Name nor insolently persecute and enslave the Christian nations. With one ray of Thy light disperse the darkness in which they dwell, that renouncing the evil teachings of Mohammed, they may be brought to the baptism of regeneration, that in the confession of the One True Faith they may adore and glorify Thee, the eternal Word, made man for our salvation, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Let us Pray. Prayer to Mary, Help of Christians

Virgin most powerful, loving helper of the Christian people, how great thanks do we not owe thee for the assistance thou didst give our fathers, who, when they were threatened by the Turkish infidels, invoked thy maternal help by the devout recitation of Thy Rosary! From Heaven thou didst see their deadly peril; thou didst hear their voices imploring Thy compassion; and their humble prayers, enjoined by the great Pope, Saint Pius V, were acceptable unto thee, and thou camest quickly to deliver them.
Thursday, May 14, 2020
God Himself Established The Sacrament of Confession

I have written before on the necessity of Sacramental Confession to receive forgiveness for sins (exceptions aside). Today I came across the following reflection of the great liturgist Dom Gueranger who writes an insightful commentary on Confession while commenting on some of the heresies that have sought to attack it as well as how ultimately God has a right to establish the means to achieve His forgiveness. And He did so by instituting the Sacrament of Confession in the Catholic Church.

If you or your family have been away from the Sacraments, it is time to return to them. God wills it.

Dom Gueranger writes:
In return for the humble confession of our sins and the sincere sorrow for having committed them, we receive pardon, and this not once or twice only, but as often as we approach the sacred tribunal; not for this or that kind of sin only, but for every sin whatsoever. It is not to be wondered at that Satan should envy man this gift, and strive to throw such doubts and difficulties in the way as to prevent his profiting by it.  
What has not heresy said against this sacrament? It began by teaching that it takes from the glory of holy baptism; whereas on the contrary, it honours that first sacrament, by repairing the injuries done to it by sin. Later on, it exacted, as absolutely necessary for the sacraments, such perfect dispositions, that absolution would find the soul already reconciled with God. It was by this dangerous snare of Jansenism that so many were ruined, either by pride or by discouragement. And lastly, it has set up that Protestant dictum:’I confess my sins to God just as though God had not the right to lay down the conditions for pardon. 
The sacraments being, as they are, such divine institutions, demand our faith; without faith they are simply impossibilities. Though this be true of all the seven, yet the sacrament of penance is especially welcome to a man of faith, because it so thoroughly humbles human pride. It sends man to ask of his fellow-man what God could have given directly himself. Jesus said to the lepers, whom he wished to cure: Go, show yourselves to the priests! Surely he has a right to act in the same manner when there is a question of spiritual leprosy.
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Traditional Mass Propers for Our Lady of Fatima

May 13th, the anniversary of Our Lady appearing for the first time in Fatima, Portugal is the traditional feastday of St. Robert Bellarmine. In the Tridentine Mass, it is ordinarily St. Robert Bellarmine's feastday that is celebrated.

In a letter published and dated April 5, 2017, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei granted to all priests of the Latin Rite (secular or religious) the possibility of celebrating on the centenary of the first main apparition (May 13, 2017) the Mass of Our Lady of Fatima as a Votive Mass of the II Class, using the exact same texts and prayers of the Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Such a privilege was intended though only for the 100 year anniversary in 2017.

However, even before Vatican II, Masses in honor of Our Lady of Fatima were likely celebrated in the Diocese of Leiria–Fátima where Fatima is located. The Traditional Propers for Our Lady of Fatima are the same as the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from August 22nd except the following specific Collect, Secret, and Post Communion prayers:


While the multitude of our sins prevaileth, O Lord, we run to the special assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we who are nurtured by the mercy of her Heart, may by the anticipation of Thy mercy obtain indulgence for our crimes. Through our Lord.

Peccatórum nostrórum, Dómine, multitúdine praevalénte, ad Beátae Mariae Virginis recúrrimos singuláre suffragium: ut, qui eiúsdem Cordis pietáte fovémur, tua misericórdia praeveniente, indulgéntiam delictórum consequámur. Per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum, Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sáecula saeculórum. Amen. [Latin Prayer Source]


Convert, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our rebellious wills, and grant that through the aid of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, we may celebrate the Divine Mysteries with chaste favours. Through our Lord.

Post Communion:

Stretch out, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy right hand to Thy prayerful people, and grant aid, through the intercession the Virgin Mary, to them whom Thou benignly vouchsafest the affection of begging Thee, that they may turn away from all evil, and take possession of all good. Through our Lord.

The remaining propers are from the Immaculate Heart of Mary (August 22):


Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need. My heart overflows with good tidings; I sing my song to the king. Glory be...

Epistle: Eccli. 24:23-31

As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. My memory is unto everlasting generations. They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting.

Gospel: John 19:25-27

At that time, there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus, therefore, had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: "Woman, behold thy son." After that, he saith to the disciple: "Behold thy mother." And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.


My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.


Jesus said to His Mother, "Woman, behold, thy son." Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, thy mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Monday, May 11, 2020
Blessings Before and After Meals Throughout the Liturgical Year

Blessings Before and After Meals (in Latin Benedictio Mensae) are basic Catholic prayers that all Catholics should know. The standard short-form prayers are as follows. The longer form is used in many monasteries, convents, and seminaries still.

Blessing Before Meals Short Form Prayer

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Benedic, Domine, nos et haec tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Blessing After Meals Short Form Prayer

We give Thee thanks, almighty God, for all Thy benefits, who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen. And may the souls of the Faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Agimus tibi gratias, omnipotens Deus, pro universis beneficiis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

However, there are some seasonal variations for the Liturgical Year that have fallen out of standard usage but are still part of Catholic Tradition. Fr. John Hardon's website mentions them. These verses and responses are said before the main prayer mentioned above.

Blessing of Meals from Christmas until the Vigil of the Epiphany:


The Word was made flesh, Alleluia
And dwelt among us, Alleluia

Verbum caro factum est, Alleluia 
Et habitavit in nobis, Alleluia


The Lord has made known, Alleluia
His salvation, Alleluia

Notum fecit Dominus, Alleluia
Salutare suum, Alleluia

Blessing of Meals for the Octave of the Epiphany:


The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents, Alleluia
The kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts, Alleluia

Reges Tharsis et insulae munera offerent, Alleluia
Reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent, Alleluia


They shall all come from Saba, Alleluia

Bringing gold and frankincense, Alleluia

Omnes de Saba venient, Alleluia
Aurum et thus deferentes, Alleluia

Blessing of Meals for Holy Thursday:

Christ was made obedient for us unto death.

Christus factus est pro nobis oboediens usque ad mortem.

Blessing of Meals for Good Friday:

Christ was made obedient for us unto death, even the death of the Cross

Christus factus est pro nobis oboediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.

Blessing of Meals (Before and After) During the Octave of Easter:

This is the day the Lord has made, Alleluia
Let us rejoice and be glad in it, Alleluia

Haec dies quam fecit Dominus, Alleluia
Exsultemus et laetemur in ea, Alleluia

Blessing of Meals During the Octave of the Ascension:


God is ascended with rejoicing, Alleluia
And the Lord with the sound of the trumpet, Alleluia

Ascendit Deus in jubilatione, Alleluia
Et Dominus in voce tubae, Alleluia


Christ ascending on high, Alleluia

Has led captivity captive, Alleluia

Ascendens Christus in altum, Alleluia
Captivam duxit captivitatem, Alleluia

Blessing of Meals During the Octave of Pentecost:


The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole earth, Alleluia
And that, which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the meaning of the voice, Alleuia

Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, Alleluia
Et hoc quod continet omnia, scientiam habet vocis, alleluia


They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, Alleluia.
And began to speak, Alleluia.

Repleti sunt omnes Spiritu Sancto, Alleluia
Et coeperunt loqui, Alleluia
Sunday, May 10, 2020
Commemoration of Ss. Gordon & Epimachus

Commemoration (1954 Calendar): May 10

Besides the feast day of St. Antonius, May 10th is the Commemoration of Saints Gordon and Epimachus. Both suffered under Julian the Apostate in 362.

The Catholic Encyclopedia edited by Charles George Herbermann states:

"Gordanius was a judge but was so moved by the sanctity and sufferings of the saintly priest, Januarius, that he embraced Christianity with many of his household. Being accused before his successor, or some say before the prefect of the city, Apronaianus, he was cruelly tortured and finally beheaded. His body was carried off by the Christians and laid in a crypt on the Latin Way beside the body of St. Epimachus, who had been recently interred there. The two saints gave their name to the cemetery, and have ever since been joined together in the veneration of the Church. There is another Gordanius who suffered martyrdom with two companions (place uncertain) and is commemorated on September 17, and a third, commemorated on September 13, who with several companions was martyred in Pontus or Galatia."


O Almighty God, may the intercessory power of Your blessed martyrs Gordian and Epimachus aid us who celebrate their feast today. Through Our Lord . . .

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