Tuesday, October 26, 2021
What Does A "Privileged Altar" Mean?
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On a recent trip to Old St. Mary's in Cincinnati, Ohio I noticed the high altar had the word "Altare Privilegiatum" or "Privileged Altar" on the front. 

The Catholic Encyclopedia written in 1907 describes what a privileged altar means:

An altar is said to be privileged when, in addition to the ordinary fruits of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, a plenary indulgence is also granted whenever Mass is celebrated thereon, the indulgence must be applied to the individual soul for whom Mass is offered. The privileged altar must be a fixed, or immovable, altar, but in a wider sense that is, it must be stationary or permanent, whether built on a solid foundation or attached to a wall or column, even though it be not consecrated, but have merely a consecrated stone (portable altar) inserted in its table. The privilege is annexed not to the altar-stone, but to the structure itself, by reason of the title which it bears, that is, of the mystery or saint to whom it is dedicated. Hence if the material of the altar be changed, if the altar be transferred to another place, if another altar be substituted for it in the same church, provided it retains the same title, and even if the altar is desecrated or profaned, the privilege is preserved. To gain the indulgence, the Mass must be a Mass of Requiem, whenever the rubrics permit it. If, on account of the superior rite of the feast of the day, or on account of the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, or for other reasons, a Requiem Mass cannot be celebrated, the indulgence may be gained by celebrating another Mass (S. C. Indulg., 11 April 1864). This privilege is of two kinds, local or real and personal. It is local or real when it is annexed to the altar as described above. Hence whoever the priest may be who celebrates Mass at such an altar, the indulgence is gained. It is personal when it is inherent in the priest, so that it does not depend on the altar, but on the priest who celebrates. Hence on whatever altar he may celebrate, whether it be a fixed or a portable one, and in whatever church he celebrates, the altar he uses is for the time being a privileged altar. On 2 November every altar is privileged. The bishops of the United States have the faculty (Facultates Extraordinariae C., fac. viii) of declaring privileged one altar in every church and public chapel or oratory, whether it be consecrated or not, of their dioceses, provided this privilege had not been previously granted to any other altar in such church under the same conditions.

This benefit of a privileged altar was also granted to certain priests where they celebrated Mass at and at least one of those instances was for priests who made the heroic act of charity. As the Purgatorian Manual states: "The Indult of a Privileged Altar, personally, every day in the year to all priests who shall have made this offering."

To summarize: A privileged altar is an altar where a plenary indulgence could be applied in favor of a particular soul in purgatory by the priest celebrating Holy Mass whenever Mass was celebrated there. This was an indulgence, over and above the graces and benefits normally flowing from the celebration of Mass. The “privilege” was attached to the place, not to the physical altar, and the privilege could also be given to a certain priest so that no matter where he celebrated a plenary could be gained! 

Sadly, Paul VI removed these privileges and countless other indulgences in 1967 in Indulgentiarum Doctrina. However, the validity of his actions remains questionable by some and, despite this, we should never stop having Masses offered for the dead and gaining indulgences for the faithful departed, especially during the month of November.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021
7 Traditional Catholic Podcasts Worth Listening To
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As a follow-up to 4 Traditional Catholic Radio Stations, I wanted to assemble a list of 7 Traditional Catholic-themed podcasts. Podcasts have been increasingly popular as a way to consume content. Spotify, one of the largest music platforms, has a significant number of podcast listeners as Statista writes, "At the end of Q1 2021, Spotify had 2.6 million (!) podcasts on its platform as roughly 25 percent of its 356 million monthly active engaged with podcast content."

With the rise of the popularity of podcasts, it is natural that the Faith should be made available through new mediums. All too often traditionalists have a tendency to shun new technology with some priests and faithful still scorning the Internet and email despite their ubiquitousness and usefulness in spreading the Faith. Thankfully, there are Traditional Catholics engaging with souls today via podcasts. 

In no particular order, here are 7 Traditional Catholic Podcasts to listen to:

The Fatima Center Podcast

This regularly updated channel features excellent commentary on the crisis in the Church, the praying of the Rosary, Faith formation talks by priests, and all-around great content.

SSPX Podcast

The SSPX Podcast features interviews, conferences, and sermons delivered by SSPX  priests, and gathered from various English-speaking sources. Many talks center around the crisis in the Church and clarity on the Church's official and timeless teachings.

What Catholics Believe

The long-running YouTube program "What Catholics Believe" is now in podcast format. Listen to the priests of the Society of St. Pius V teach and discuss the disasters of Vatican Council II, the crisis in the modern Church, and the traditional teachings of the Catholic faith.

The Meaning of Catholic

The Meaning of Catholic is a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of the Holy Catholic Church. The founder is the now current editor of One Peter Five

Dr. Taylor Marshall

A former Episcopalian "priest" turned traditional FSSP going Catholic who regularly engages in writing and talks to spread and defend the Faith, his clarity and concern for the Faith are palpable. 

St. Gertrude the Great Sermons

Sermons from the independent chapel in West Chester, OH led by Bishop Dolan, whose sermons are daily tweets are profoundly insightful and connected to the traditional liturgical year.

Return to Tradition

Covering the crisis in the Catholic Church and its connection to the ongoing degradation of society, Return to Tradition dives into the news and history of the Church.

There are even more quality traditional Catholic podcasts out there. For more podcasts beyond the 7 already mentioned, please share your recommendations in the comments box below.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Votive Mass of a Feast Formerly Celebrated on A Sunday
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First, the general rubrics concerning when a Votive Mass may be offered in the Tridentine Mass are generally fairly well known. There are some changes that occurred in the 20th century up until 1962 so strictly speaking the 1962 rubrics will differ in some respects. The 1962 Rubrics may be viewed by clicking here. The Pre-1962 Rubrics may be viewed by clicking here.

In addition to these general rubrics, there is an interesting exception for certain feasts which were kept on Sundays up until the changes instituted under St. Pius X in 1911/1914. These Feasts were as follows:

In many places, the Feast of Corpus Christi, The Feast of the Sacred Heart, and The Feast of St. Peter and Paul were celebrated as an External Solemnity on the following Sunday. In fact, there was an obligation to do so in some places such as in the United States for the Sunday following Ss. Peter and Paul. Permissions to solemnize the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul on the Sunday following June 29th were given to the United States on December 19, 1840, and that of Corpus Christi on November 25, 1885.

The Local calendars and those for religious orders give even more examples. After the reforms, the feasts formerly fixed on a Sunday were transferred to a date or to a number of days after the Sunday. But for the good of the faithful, the Mass could be celebrated on its former day.

Other Local Feasts would also be celebrated as External Solemnities and would include:

  • Dedication of the Cathedral Church.
  • Titular of the Cathedral.
  • Patron of the Diocese.
  • Dedication of the Chapel / Church.
  • Titular of the Chapel / Church.
  • Patronal feast of the place.
  • A first or second Class Feast in your Diocese or Country.

While it is unusual for External Solemnities to be celebrated on a day other than a Sunday the Rubrics allow this. External Solemnities can also be celebrated for altars/shrines in a Church dedicated to particular Saints. So in short if the Celebrant accepts that this celebration is for the good of the faithful, have an External Solemnity.

Source: Musica Sacra

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Monday, September 20, 2021
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the Conversion of the Americas and the Whole World
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O Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who as Our Lady of Guadalupe didst aid in the conversion of Mexico from paganism in a most miraculous way, we now beseech thee to bring about in these our times the early conversion of our modern world from its present neo-paganism to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of thy divine Son, Jesus Christ, starting in the Americas and extending throughout the entire world, so that soon there may be truly “one fold and one shepherd”, with all governments recognizing the reign of they Son, Jesus Christ the King. This we ask of the Eternal Father, through Jesus Christ His Son Our Lord and by thy powerful intercession – all for the salvation of souls, the triumph of the Church and peace in the world. Amen.

Source: Angelus Press 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal, page 1794

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021
100th Anniversary of the Legion of Mary
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The Legion of Mary was the vision of Irishman Frank Duff who on this day, the Nativity of our Blessed Mother, in 1921 founded it to serve the needy and grow in personal and global sanctification. Duff said that all people are “called to be saints.” The Legion he started grew to become the largest apostolic lay organization in the world. 

“The Legion aims to bring Mary to the world as the infallible means of winning the world to Jesus and legionary service is based on the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ so that in their fellow members and in those they serve, legionaries seek to have the Person of our Lord once again seen and served by Mary, his Mother.” 

Legionaries meet weekly and offer service to the local Church in the form of spiritual works of mercy. Today let us spare a prayer for their work, especially that they be faithful to the message of our Lady of Fatima and work for the preservation of Traditional Roman Catholicism and the death of the errors of the past sixty years ranging from liberalism and modernism to Communion and Communion in the hand. And may today's Legionaries be especially taught about the errors of religious indifferentism so that they work at all times for the conversion of all non-Catholics to the Catholic Faith.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Commemoration of St. Agapitus
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August 18th, a day during the Traditional Octave of the Assumption, is also when the Church commemorates the lesser-known martyr - St. Agaptius of Palestrina. The following is taken from The Order of St. Benedict Bethlehem Priory Servants of Jesus:

Triumph of the Faith by Eugene Thirion

Saint Agapitus (Agapetus) suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Praeneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome.  St. Agapitus was but 15 years old, when he was apprehended by the tyrant Aurelian, on account of being a Christian. As he unflinchingly proclaimed his belief in Christ, he was whipped with scourges and then cast into a dungeon, without any food, that he might thus be forced to forsake Christianity. When Antiochus, the prefect, found him, at the end of five days, more determined than before, he ordered a live coal to be put upon his head. The brave youth stood immovably under this torture, and praising God, said: “A head, which would wear an eternal crown in Heaven, must not hesitate to wear suffering and pain upon earth. Wounds and burns make my head the more worthy to be crowned with eternal glory.”

Antiochus, greatly provoked, ordered them to whip the holy youth till his body became one great wound, after which they hung him by the feet over a fire, hoping to suffocate him. But they failed; for, after a long silence, he addressed the prefect saying: “Behold, Antiochus, the people will say that all thy ingenuity, all thy wit, ends in smoke.” Enraged at this remark, the tyrant had him again cruelly whipped and ordered boiling water to be poured into the open wounds. After this, they knocked all his teeth out and broke his jaws with blows. God punished the tyrant for his cruelty; He caused him to fall from his seat and break his neck. Aurelian, hearing of this, ordered the martyr to be thrown to the wild beasts, but as they refused to touch him, he was finally beheaded. Thus ended the glorious martyrdom of the holy youth, Agapitus, in the year 275.  

Two churches in Palestrina and others in various places are dedicated to God under his name. 

Note: This is a different St. Agapitus than the one comemmorated with St. Xystus II on August 7th.

Collect

Grant, O Lord, that thy Church may with all gladness trust in the advocacy of thy blessed Martyr Agapitus, and that by his glorious intercession, it may be enabled to continue steadfastly in all godly devotion and established in security against all adversity.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
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The traditional Octave of the Assumption culminates on August 22 with the Feast of the Immaculate Heart, a time when Catholics reflect on the immense love Our Lady holds for the entire human race. With this love in mind, I encourage you to look to Mary in August with renewed fervency.

There are many needful things for which we can offer our prayers, in the Church, in the world, and in our families. Let us approach Jesus through Mary and ask her special favor and intercession.  A beautiful way we can join our prayers together is through the Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We begin on the Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aug. 14) and continue to the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Aug. 22). Recite the daily prayer during the nine day novena and offer the Solemn Consecration to the Immaculate Heart on the final day.

DAILY NOVENA PRAYER TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially... (special intention). 

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever. Amen. 

Say Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory be

A SOLEMN ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY BY POPE PIUS XII

Most Holy Virgin Mary, tender Mother of men, to fulfill the desires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the request of the Vicar of Your Son on earth, we consecrate ourselves and our families to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, O Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and we recommend to You, all the people of our country and all the world. 

Please accept our consecration, dearest Mother, and use us as You wish to accomplish Your designs in the world. 

O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and Queen of the World, rule over us, together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, Our King. Save us from the spreading flood of modern paganism; kindle in our hearts and homes the love of purity, the practice of a virtuous life, an ardent zeal for souls, and a desire to pray the Rosary more faithfully. 

We come with confidence to You, O Throne of Grace and Mother of Fair Love. Inflame us with the same Divine Fire which has inflamed Your own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Make our hearts and homes Your shrine, and through us, make the Heart of Jesus, together with your rule, triumph in every heart and home. 

Amen.

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Friday, July 30, 2021
Support Traditional Catholic Priests in Brazil
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Brazil is home to a unique traditional Catholic diocese, under the care of the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, in communion with Rome. 

The diocese has its own seminary, 33 active priests, thirteen parishes, six rectories, fifteen private Catholic schools, four homes for the aged, and eight associations of women religious. It serves over 30,000 active parishioners! 

Friends of Campos, Inc. was founded in 2019 to help support the seminary, where 30 young men are currently in formation. The region is spiritually rich but materially very poor.

This year Friends of Campos is funding food and medicine for the seminary, improvements to the library and dormitories, and food and medicine for the largest convent. Click here for 2021 project details.

Now more than ever we could use your help! Your contributions of any size are gratefully appreciated, as are your prayers! Click here to donate

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Monday, July 26, 2021
Pontifical High Mass by Bishop Vitus Huonder at the SSPX Seminary
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Images were recently shared online of Bishop Huounder offering a Pontifical Mass at the SSPX Seminary. The video is available on YouTube.

In 2019, Pope Francis relieved Bishop Vitus Huonder of his duties as Bishop of the Diocese of Chur (Switzerland) for him to live at the house of the Society of St. Pius X. In a joint statement in 2019, Bishop Huounder and the Superior General of the SSPX, Father Pagliarani, stated:

On Monday, May 20, 2019, Pope Francis relieved Bishop Vitus Huonder of his duties as Bishop of the Diocese of Chur (Switzerland), while appointing an administrator with a view to the election of his successor. According to an intention that he stated long ago, Bishop Huonder is retiring to a house of the Society of Saint Pius X. The one sole purpose of this step is to dedicate himself to prayer and silence, to celebrate the traditional Mass exclusively, and to work for Tradition, the only way of renewing the Church. The Society of Saint Pius X appreciates Bishop Huonder’s courageous decision and rejoices to be able to provide him with the spiritual and priestly surroundings that he desires so deeply. May this example be followed by others, so as to “restore everything in Christ”.

May Bishop Huonder help to restore Tradition in his work, and may his presence at the SSPX help quash the slanders against the Society of St. Pius X.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Go Ahead and Eat With Sinners – But Never Compromise on the Faith
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Prayer before Meal, c.1663 - 1665 - Jan Steen

Reprinted from a 2019 Catholic Family News Article. Subscribe to CFN for more such articles.

St. Mark early in his Gospel recounts how Our Lord ate with sinners.  "And it came to pass, that as he sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat down together with Jesus and his disciples. For they were many, who also followed him. And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing that he ate with publicans and sinners, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat and drink with publicans and sinners? Jesus hearing this, saith to them: They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners" (Mark 2:15-17).

Just this past Easter Sunday I invited over to Easter dinner a few people.  All of whom were not Catholic.  One man, a friend of my mother, grew up Lutheran but has largely fallen away from any religious practice aside from occasional Bible reading while he hunts deer.  The other man was a friend of my sister who grew up in a household that loved carnal desires, rock-n-roll, and what we might just call downright debauchery. And when I related to a friend of mine, let’s call him Jim, of their presence at dinner, he was outwardly scandalized.  “Why would you invite them over to Easter dinner?  Don’t you know they aren’t Catholic?”

“Yes, I certainly do,” I replied.  I continued, “In fact, that’s why I invited them to begin with!”  He was confused.  So I took a few moments to explain.  

We are often quick to condemn the sins of others – and rightfully so!  But while we should admonish sinners, our battle in this world is not to chase away souls.  Our Lord prayed, “Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing” (John 6:39), and we who are called to help preserve and diffuse the Catholic Faith should pray that our actions likewise should lose not a single soul.  

As a Third Order Dominican and as a catechist, I often say that we can never study the truths of the Faith enough.  We cannot read the catechism or re-study Christian doctrine too much.  So I reminded Jim that we first and foremost are in a battle.  He certainly agreed.  But, this battle is not one that will be won with an outward assault on our enemies.  It will be won in the deepest reaches of our soul (cf. Matthew 11:12) and through our persistent, subtle actions that target souls held in slavery by the camp of Satan.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a battle, and this battle is one which we did not create.  In fact, this battle has existed far before the errors of Vatican II even seeped into the Church.  Our battle is namely the same that St. Paul referenced when he said, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  And we fight this battle by virtue of our Confirmation.

In the traditional Confirmation Rite, the bishop lightly slaps the cheek of the one who has been confirmed as an outward expression of the inward reality, namely that those confirmed must be ready to suffer all things, even death, for the sake of Jesus Christ.

And like a good and noble soldier, this war is not our cause.  It has existed long before our time.  In fact, we have been thrown into the very middle of the warfare as a paratrooper would land deep into the heat of the battle.  And just as the noble soldier who undertakes such a perilous mission behind enemy lines knows, his battle ends only at death.  We too, as confirmed Catholics, must continue to remind ourselves that our battle is one that will end with the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, but it is a battle in which we must die.  We must die to ourselves while persisting in the state of sanctifying grace until death. For the battle is fought first within ourselves through penance and prayer (1 Corinthians 9:27) before we can battle against the principalities of this world of darkness.

So imagine yourself in the heat of battle.  Immorality and carnal lust swirls around us.  Debauchery, idolatry, greed, and envy reign in the highest places.  Darkness is around.  You paratroop in and hit the ground.  Everything goes black.  Suddenly you awaken to the sound of battle.  So what do you do?  

What soldier in the midst of battle does not arise and double back in order to pick up a sufficient weapon lest he stand no chance?  The same is true for the spiritual conduct we find ourselves in.  It doesn’t matter if we were baptized and confirmed long ago before the battled raged as it does today.  It doesn’t matter if we are timid by nature or not.  On the contrary, we are in the battle!  Our focus is not to understand why we got here – the immediate focus is on what we can do to fight the good fight and press on.

And our weapons in this battle are plentiful.  In fact, Heaven has showered our battlefield with a myriad of weapons.  My focus as a catechist is on the Doctrine of Christ which is sweet and awe-inspiring to souls.  There are in fact other weapons though – the Rosary, the various Scapulars given by our Lady, the St. Benedict Medal, the Miraculous Medal, the Cord of St. Philomena, and countless others.

My “weapon of choice” though besides these Sacramentals which I wholeheartedly encourage nonetheless, is the sweetness of the Doctrine of Christ.  For those wishing to ground yourself in authentic Catholic teaching, I recommend a few essential books that must be in your library.

Firstly, the Baltimore Catechism and the Roman Catechism are foundational.  Use the Baltimore Catechism with your children and read it yourself too.  Keep these simple but true axioms of the Faith in mind.  Whereas modern churchman are accustomed to lengthy and complicated theological studies, the Catechisms provide in clear and easy to understand language the truths of the Faith that are timeless and unchanging.  

Next, pick up a copy of the Douay Rheims Bible and pair with it a copy of Fr. George Leo Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary.  Fr. Haydock's Douay Bible with his extended commentary was originally published in 1811 and became the bestselling English Catholic Bible in the 19th century in the world.  The text is available freely online - and the same is true for the Baltimore Catechism and the Roman Catechism.

And as any good soldier would do as he surveys the battlefield and fills his satchel, you need some stronger weapons for the stronger enemies on the battlefield.  In our spiritual conquest, we too will find those enemies.  Whether they be in the form of the unrepentant sinner of 50 years, the Jehovah’s Witness at our door, or the Protestant street preacher, we need to be prepared.  

For those tougher battles, find a copy of the Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas.  The text is one of the best summaries of the Catholic Faith with various arguments and their refutation by chapter.  While the Summa is a truly massive text, fear not.  Two years before he died, St. Thomas Aquinas asked by his assistant, Brother Reginald, to write a simple summary of the Faith for those who lacked the time or the ability to tackle his massive Summa Theologica.  That text is known as the “Shorter Summa” and is available for purchase online.  

And last of all, for those hardlined modernists who assail Catholic Tradition, let us take as our weapon the “Liturgical Year” by the Abbot Dom Prosper Gueranger.  Written in 15 volumes, no work today better expresses the beauty, majesty, and symbolism of the entirety of the Traditional Catholic Liturgical Year.  

As “soldiers of Christ,” we often are prone to envision these battles as glorious opportunities to defend Christ.  On the contrary, every battle is a grind.  We will slip in mud.  We will fall and scrap our legs.  We will lose our hearing as the bombs explode and we will lose our sight at times from the glow of the bombs.  We are the in trenches.  We fight.  We get up through the Sacrament of Confession and refresh our souls through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, worthily received.  

Our time for rest and glory is only after our fight in the battle ends – not during it.  And our battle ends only at death.

So then I stopped and Jim understood why I invited the lapsed Lutheran over and the agnostic, worldly man.  Far from keeping the day to only celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection with family, I wanted to spend it using persistent but subtle conversations to plant the seed of Faith in other souls.  I may never reap those fruits or see them reaped.  But that’s fine!  May the souls that I plant seeds of the Faith in, one day ripen nonetheless.  And through them, may God be glorified.

So gone on, eat with sinners!  Don’t be afraid to befriend Muslims or Pagans or Protestants.  Go to their homes.  Be friends with their children.  Care about them.  Pray for them.  Carry the Cross and make reparation for them.  

But with any battle, do so only with the weapons of catechesis properly in your mind and lived out in your heart.  Fight until the Good Lord calls us to the end of our battle.  And on that day may we hear the blessed words, “Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23)

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Friday, July 16, 2021
Must Catholics Obey Traditionis Custodes?
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Jorge Mario Bergoglio (centre) in Argentina c 1976. Photograph: Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Today, in the sharpest reversal and attack on a predecessor, Pope Francis has issued Traditionis Custodes, which seeks to make the celebration of the Tridentine Mass harder. It is in effect a reversal and repudiation of both Pope Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum.

For those seeking to understand the issue and its implications, I encourage the following articles: Rorate Caeli: Canon Lawyer's Analysis of the Anti Summorum Pontificum Motu Proprio & Latin Mass Society: Some Comments on the Apostolic Letter 'Traditionis Custodes'.

In good news, reports already are surfacing of diocesan bishops affirming the continued celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in places ranging from San Francisco to Albany to Arlington. Pittsburgh has affirmed such as well. And the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago affirmed that they will continue doing so as well. Of course, this could change at a moment's notice in any of these places or elsewhere. The Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas has just ended all Diocesan TLM's in the state except for two FSSP locations.

But all of this forces the question: Do Catholics have to obey Traditionis Custodes or any motu proprio? Yes but with two very important exceptions but of which are based on Church law and common sense legal arguments:

1. If the person issuing the statement lacks authority, no law is created.

A law must come from a valid lawgiver. It requires the government to pass laws according to the rules of the Constitution and laws already in place. The one issuing the law must do so in the lawful manner and have the power to do so by the office he holds. Not just anyone can do this. 

In the Church, this requires the Pope generally to issue a law. A man who is truly elected Pope ceases to be the pope and thus a valid lawgiver when he died, abdicates, or loses his office due to heresy. For instance, if Pope Francis was a heretic, he would not possess the authority to rule. And if he lacks the authority, this motu proprio can - and must - be rejected. This is based on developed and established Church teaching as shown, among others, in the following two sources:

X. Wernz, P. Vidal (1943) 

"Through notorious and openly divulged heresy, the Roman Pontiff, should he fall into heresy, by that very fact [ipso facto] is deemed to be deprived of the power of jurisdiction even before any declaratory judgement by the Church.. A pope who falls into public heresy would cease ipso facto to be a member of the Church; therefore, he would also cease to be head of the Church." Ius Canonicum. Rome: Gregorian 1943. 2:453. 

Udalricus Beste (1946) 

"Not a few canonists teach that, outside of death and abdication, the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity, which is legally equivalent to death, as well as through manifest and notorious heresy. In the latter case, a pope would automatically fall from his power, and this indeed without the issuance of any sentence, for the first See [i.e., the See of Peter] is judged by no one. 

"The reason is that, by falling into heresy, the pope ceases to be a member of the Church. He who is not a member of a society, obviously, cannot be its head. We can find no example of this in history." Introductio in Codicem. 3rd ed. Collegeville: St. John's Abbey Press 1946. Canon 221.

Thus, a papal document like a motu proprio must come from a valid Pope who has not lost his office. Otherwise, the document is worthless. 

2. If the law is harmful to souls, it must be rejected.

Assuming that the person has authority a law must still be rejected if it is harmful to souls or encourages, promotes, or orders what is sinful. The adage "salus animarum, suprema lex" (the salvation of souls is the supreme law) which is this blog's motto underpins all of this. For this reason, while obedience is to be highly valued, if a superior orders what is sinful, we must disobey his command.

Is the Latin Mass harmful to souls? No. It was and is the Mass of the saints. Are the fruits of the Latin Mass overwhelmingly positive? Yes. And is the fruit of the Novus Ordo evil? Sadly yes. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre famously said, "The Novus Ordo Missae, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism...it bears within it a poison harmful to the Faith." He was right and the rotten fruits of fifty years show us this.

One point which Pope Francis seems to make - that there may not be two forms of the Roman Rite- is a position that I have come to believe as well. These "forms" are not the same Rite and not the same religion. Their spirituality and entire orientation are diametrically opposed - one is centered on man and one is centered on God.

Pope Francis stated in this document that the Novus Ordo Mass is the "lex orandi" of the his Church. Well said. If the "lex orandi" of Francis' church is the Novus Ordo, we know that is not the "lex orandi" of the Catholic Church. The Novus Ordo which is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism is not the "lex orandi" of the Catholic Church. 

As I mentioned some years ago in Should Traditional Catholics Attend the Novus Ordo, the very nature of the Novus Ordo Sacraments, while not necessarily invalid (but questionable in many instances), bear in them the theology of the New Rite and the Post Vatican II Church.  To frequent these Sacraments is to mix the good, true, and beautiful with that which is present in the New Sacraments: novelty.  By receiving the Novus Ordo Sacraments, you profess your Communion in and with the beliefs of the Novus Ordo Church, even those beliefs that are flawed.

Even those who generally follow the current Pope will admit that serious ambiguities exist in this document, raising questions on their legal effects, ramifications, and implementations.

Conclusion:

All Catholics should affirm either statement 1 or 2 above. As such, Catholics are not required to obey this document and must actually resist it openly. Traditionis Custodes is to be rejected totally and entirely without reservation. Salus animarum, suprema lex. Long live Tradition. Long live the True Catholic Church. Down with the counterfeit Church of the Modernists.

Reject Traditionis Custodes and direct your money to traditionalist orders and priests who do likewise.

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Monday, June 7, 2021
Errors in the Angelus Press 1962 Missal
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It's important to keep in mind that publishing errors do occur, even with modern-day technology, and hand missals are no exception. I have a copy of the Angelus Press Missal from the second printing in November 2005. In that Missal (and possibly subsequent printings) are a few errors to be aware of. I have contacted Angelus Press and these errors are part of the proposed errata for the next printing.

  • Page 1334. It lists the Preface of the Apostles for St. Alphonsus' Feastday. That is not correct. He would use the Common Preface.
  • Page 935. It lists the Preface of the Apostles for the Common of One of Several Popes. That is not correct. When the Common was created in 1942 by Pope Pius XII, this Preface was assigned but it was very soon after reversed and changed to the Common Preface. The Common Preface is the correct one used when this Mass is offered.
Keep these in mind for any handouts you create for Mass or articles you write online. And make priests aware who use this Missal as a reliable source of the rubrics in place as of 1962.

If you are aware of any other errors, share them in the comments below.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021
God Desires All Men to Be Saved
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God does not leave the souls of virtuous pagans who obey the natural law to eternal death. In one example, in the 1600’s Franciscan missionaries arrived in the New World in modern day Mexico and came upon a group of natives. They were intent on teaching them the Faith and to their amazement, they already knew it without having yet met any European. How could this be? The natives revealed that a woman would appear to them every Friday to teach them and that she had done so for the past five years. After describing her, the Franciscans recognized it as Sister Maria of Agreda. 

After returning home and notifying the bishop regarding this astonishing event, Venerable Maria of Agreda was questioned and asked to swear under oath if this was true. It was. God had sent her to instruct these pagans by means of bilocation on account of their obedience to the natural law. As related in the Life of Venerable Mary of Jesus of Agreda:

“This holy virgin burned with a most ardent love for God and for the salvation of souls. One day, she beheld in a vision all the nations of the world. She saw the greater part of men were deprived of God's grace and running headlong to everlasting perdition. She saw how the Indians of Mexico put fewer obstacles to the grace of conversion than any other nation who were out of the Catholic Church, and how God, on this account, was ready to show mercy to them. Hence, she redoubled her prayers and penances to obtain for them the grace of conversion. God heard her prayers. He commanded her to teach the Catholic religion to those Mexican Indians. From that time, she appeared, by way of bilocation, to the savages, not less than five hundred times, instructing them in all the truths of our holy religion, and performing miracles in confirmation of these truths. When all were converted to the faith, she told them that religious priests would be sent by God to receive them into the Church by baptism. As she had told, so it happened. God, in his mercy, sent to these good Indians several Franciscan fathers, who were greatly astonished when they found those savages fully instructed in the Catholic doctrine. When they asked the Indians who had instructed them, they were told that a holy virgin appeared among them many times and taught them the Catholic religion and confirmed it by miracles.”

Pray for Pagan Souls

God desires that all men be saved. He desires for us to pray for the souls of all pagans – those still alive in faraway lands and those who have died. We can pray for all the pagans who still die in far-off places who have never heard of Christianity and who died separated from the visible Church. We pray that their souls are not lost but are united in a mystical way with the Church before their death.

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Saturday, May 1, 2021
Help Me Run the 2021 Chicago Marathon And Support Catholic Outreach
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I’m happy to announce that for the first time in my life!

I am planning to train for and run a marathon! God willing, this October 10th, I will be running the 2021 Chicago Marathon for Mission Our Lady of the Angels, a Catholic Mission serving the poor on Chicago’s Westside. The Mission has been serving over 3,000 families a month with food and other basic material needs during the pandemic- this is three times the normal number of families they serve! They have been processing and distributing 175,000 to 200,000 lbs. of food a month.

The Mission also assists at-risk kids in after-school programs, serves bi-weekly community meals, and, most importantly, brings the hope of Christ to a neighborhood plagued by gangs, violence, and poverty. 

I am committed to train (running over 400 miles) over the long, hot summer and run 26.2 miles on Marathon Sunday (October 10) . . . and I am counting on your support as my blog reader! I need your prayers to persevere through training and finish the race. Your prayers are needed so I can successfully spread the good news about the Mission through my running. 

Finally, I need your financial support. The Mission is able to provide all of its services to its neighbors for free because of many generous donations from people like yourself. In order to run the Chicago marathon, I need to raise $1,750 for the mission. 

Can you please chip in and make a donation? Donations of any amount will help me toward crossing this finish line as well. Your contributions are to a 501(c)3 registered charity that will directly receive the funds.

The financial need is particularly great this year as the Mission continues their expanded COVID time outreach and finishes the renovations of their new outreach center. The Mission is in process of renovating its new outreach center that will dramatically improve its ability to distribute material resources, host neighborhood groups for meetings, and house the volunteers they rely upon for their work. 

Thank you in advance!

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Friday, April 30, 2021
How St. Paul of the Cross Celebrated Holy Mass
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A wonderful reflection on the care for the Most Blessed Eucharist and how St. Paul of the Cross celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass. His feastday was a few days ago and his devotion can surely inspire us all even nowadays.

He often perceived from a great distance whether the Blessed Eucharist was in any particular place, and these celestial favours excited him to still more ardent affections of devotion. This fervour never showed itself in a more lively manner than when he was celebrating mass. At those times the venerable Father appeared all tenderness and ardour, transformed into a seraphim of love. After a long and fervent preparation he ascended the altar, and then his face was often seen to change colour and become inflamed, while his eyes overflowed with tears of interior sweetness. 

For many years he could never say mass without weeping. Afterwards, being placed by our Lord in the crucible of aridities and desolations, his tears were not so continual, but he was often observed to shed them from the consecration to the communion. When he sang high mass, he generally fell into so deep a contemplation, that he was obliged to do violence to himself before he could proceed ; in chanting the Preface and Pater-Noster, he was constantly interrupted by his sobs, which gave edification to all who heard him. 

He was particularly exact in the observance of the rubrics, and of the prescribed holy ceremonies. After mass he retired to some quiet spot, where he could give vent to the burning affections of his heart, and enjoy the possession of his only love. He was most careful that everything belonging to the altar should be suitable for so high a service, and he was not content with bare decency, but he desired to see the most extreme cleanliness and purity. He sometimes sent away one corporal after another, until he got one that was perfectly clean. The smallest thing he said that is employed in the holy sacrifice, ought to be spotless. Our Lord was pleased to show by prodigies, how grateful in His sight was the faith and devotion of His servant in that sacred function.

Upon one occasion, when he was celebrating in the monastery of St. Lucia, at Corneto, the assistant, who was Signor Domenico Costantini, observed, to his great surprise, that when the venerable Father drew near to the consecration, there arose from the steps of the altar a kind of smoke like that of incense, which after the elevation gave forth a marvellous fragrance, quite indescribable and unlike any common odour. A still greater wonder was seen at the same time, which was that the servant of God was raised in the air, two palms above the altar steps, both before and after the consecration. 

Each time that he offered up the holy sacrifice, Father Paul imagined it to be the last mass that he should say, and he told one of his religious, "Whenever I celebrate I receive the holy communion as a viaticum.'' He recommended others to perform not only this sacred function, but every action of the day, as if it were the last of their lives.

As it is natural to one who loves, enjoys, and possesses an immense good, to desire to communicate his happiness to those especially who are capable of appreciating it, so Father Paul's ardent wish was that all priests, and particularly that the fathers of our congregation, should know how to enrich themselves with the priceless treasures of the adorable sacrifice, and that for this end they should prepare their hearts with the utmost care for the presence of Jesus Christ. " Endeavour," he said, “to be always ready to celebrate with the deepest devotion, watch day and night before the interior tabernacle, which is in the hearts of all priests. Guard with anxious care this living temple, keep always burning there the lamps of faith and charity, and let it be decorated as for a perpetual festival, with all Christian virtues. Jesus celebrated the divine mysteries in a furnished room, “ Cenaculum stratum.'" He inculcated to his religious that they should not only prepare themselves for mass by serious meditations upon the mysteries of faith, but that even while celebrating they should follow Jesus in spirit through the different stages of His passion, performing His obsequies with the mournful tenderness of Mary, St. John, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and then depositing Him in the sepulchre of their hearts, " in quo nondum quisquam positus fuerat." 

He said that the mass was the most appropriate time for negotiating with the Eternal Father, while we offer to Him His only Son Incarnate for our salvation. "Before you celebrate,'' he wrote to a priest, "clothe yourself with the sufferings of Christ, by a sacred colloquy, placidly made in the midst of aridities. Carry to the altar the necessities of the whole world." With the same earnestness he sought to impress upon all the priests of the congregation, the utmost exactness in the observance of the rubrics. He particularly insisted that those who were newly ordained, should be well instructed and exercised in the ceremonies, and he often took upon himself the charitable duty of assisting them. He could not bear to see the least disorder or mistake in the sacred functions, and if he noticed any who failed in the correct performance of them, he took an opportunity of reproving them, saying, " The rubrics ought to have been studied beforehand." 

He could not tolerate the idea of a priest abandoning Jesus almost immediately after mass, without making the proper thanksgiving. He declaimed eagerly , and upon every opportunity, against this abuse, and he employed all the power of his ministry in engaging priests to render thanks to their loving Lord for so inexpressible a benefit. As far as he could, he endeavoured to prevent from approaching the altar, all those who testified little reverence for the tremendous mysteries, or who were not attired in the clerical garb.

An ecclesiastic of distinction came to say mass at one of our retreats, dressed in a coloured coat, and without the dignity required by the sacer- dotal character ; the good Father immediately reproved him, and would not permit him to celebrate, saying, “This is not the dress for a priest to wear at the altar." Full of these zealous sentiments, he wrote thus to a devout soul, •' You must fly in spirit to the heart of Jesus, in the adorable sacrament, and there weep with grief for the insults He receives from worldlings, from wicked priests, and from tepid religious, who return ingratitude and sacrileges for His infinite love. In reparation for all these outrages, let your soul offer herself upas a holocaust, all burning with love and praise, and thank Him in place of those who ill-treat Him. Above all, go to visit Him at those times when He is most neglected and forgotten," The love which consumed Father Paul while he offered the holy sacrifice, manifested itself in no less striking a manner when he administered holy communion. " When he uttered the words, "Ecce Agnus Dei," he spoke with so much energy, fervour, and reverence, that it might well have been imagined that he beheld his Divine Redeemer with his own eyes. And so also it was observed in carrying the Blessed Sacrament on the feast of Corpus Domini, his face was bathed in a torrent of tears. This festival was to him a day of peculiar solemnity, and he kept it with a marvelous spirit of faith. If he was at one of the retreats, he himself sang high mass, and carried the Sacred Host in procession round the enclosure; but if some urgent business separated him from his brethren, as was the case one year when he was at Ronciglione, he disposed himself with equal devotion to do homage to the Blessed Sacrament. Beholding the procession, he melted into tears, exclaiming, “0, what wondrous love! O, what a day this is O Charity, O love !" Alluding to this feast, he spoke thus in a letter to a devout person, "As the moth flies round and round a light until it is burnt in the flame, so does the soul turn about and within Divine Love, until it is utterly consumed in this great and blessed octave of the adorable sacrament.  “ O my daughter, eat, drink, and inebriate yourself, fly, sing, exult, and feast with the Divine Spouse."

Taken from The Life of the B. Paul of the Cross by Venerable Monsignor Strambi

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Thursday, April 8, 2021
How St. Pius X & the 1917 Code of Canon Law Liberalized Fasting, Abstinence, and Holy Days of Obligation
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Pope St. Pius X is regarded as a champion by traditionalists for good reasons. There is no doubting his personal sanctity and the motivations that inspired some of his actions (e.g., lowering the age for First Holy Communion and recommending frequent - even daily - reception of our Lord in Holy Communion). His crusade against modernism and his actions for the liberty of the Church and for the spread of Christ's reign are certainly praiseworthy.

But we who have the luxury of seeing how history unfolded can observe how this holy pope's actions in regards to holy days of obligation, fasting, and abstinence sadly led to a collapose of Catholic practice. We would do well to keep the practices before St. Pius X, which had already been eroded by dispensations and changes for several centuries. St. Pius X merely helped accelerate this erosion.

What exactly did he change in regards to these disciplines? There are three main changes as they concern the Church's discipline: reducing the number of Holy Days of Obligation for the Universal Church, altering the days of fasting, and altering both when and how to observe days of abstinence.

There are more actions done by St. Pius X that some also rightfully criticize such as the change in the Breviary (e.g. abandoning the use of 12 psalms at Matins, abolishing the "Laudate Psalms" at Lauds) and effectively abolishing in practice the five simple octaves but those are outside the scope of this article.

St. Pius X Drastically Reduced the Number of Holy Days of Obligation

The first catalog of Holy Days comes from the Decretals of Pope 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 one locality. 

However, due to dispensations, differences ranged drastically as to which days were kept as holy days throughout the world. As of the founding of the United States, the Holy Days of Obligation, in addition to every Sunday, were as follows: the feasts of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Annunciation, Easter Monday, Ascension, Whitsun Monday, Corpus Christi, Ss. Peter and Paul, Assumption, and All Saints. In 1837, Pope Gregory XVI dispensed all Americans from the obligation as to Easter Monday and Whitsun Monday and in 1840 from that of the feast of St Peter and St Paul. The Feasts of Epiphany, Annunciation, and Sts. Peter and Paul were abolished as Holy Day of Obligation in the United States in 1885.

But, in the largest change to Holy Days in centuries, Pope St. Pius X in Supremi disciplinæ in 1911 drastically reduced the number of Holy Days of Obligation in the Universal Church to merely eight!
  1. Christmas
  2. Circumcision
  3. Epiphany 
  4. Ascension
  5. Immaculate Conception
  6. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
  7. Sts. Peter and Paul 
  8. All Saints 

This reduction, rather than just tweaking one country's disciplines, reset the Universal Church to a minimal number of Holy Days - the lowest ever. While some localities kept other feastdays of importance (e.g. St. Patrick's Day as a Holy Day of Obligation in Ireland), most did not. Shortly thereafter in 1917, however, Corpus Christi and St. Joseph were added back by his successor, bringing the total to 10. The 10 currently observed on the Universal Calendar are the same as from 1917.

The 1917 Code Liberalized Fasting

Called the Pio-Benedictine Code, the 1917 Code of Canon Law was started by St. Pius X in 1904 and completed under his successor, Pope Benedict XV, in 1914. The Code had a number of effects on fasting and abstinence, beyond codifying the changes to Holy Days of Obligation.

Fasting and abstinence were no longer observed should a vigil fall on a Sunday as stated in the code: "If a vigil that is a fast day falls on a Sunday the fast is not to be anticipated on Saturday, but is dropped altogether that year." Before 1917, the fast of a Vigil that fell on a Sunday was observed instead on the preceding Saturday, which helped prepare the faithful not only for the feast that was transferred to Monday but also for Sunday.

Likewise, effective per the 1917 Code of Canon law, the Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent were no longer fast days for the Universal Church. The last remnant of St. Martin's Lent and the Advent Fast was gone. Wednesdays of Advent had previously been abrogated as fast days in America in 1837. Now Fridays in Advent likewise ceased being required days of fast not only in America but universally. The Vigil of St. Peter and Paul also ceased as a fast day on the Universal Calendar, although it had already been abrogated in the United States. 

The 1917 Code Liberalized Abstinence

The 1917 Code also universally removed Saturday abstinence. Unknown to most Catholics, abstinence from meat was previously required on both Fridays and Saturdays! In the United States, Saturday abstinence ceased around 1837 because the Baltimore fathers requested from Pope Gregory XVI a dispensation from Saturday abstinence. It was a 20-year dispensation that was renewed up until the 1917 Code dispensed the venerable practice of Saturday abstinence universally. 

But one of the more drastic changes was that eggs and dairy products (i.e. lacticinia) became universally permitted on fasting days - continuing the weakening of discipline introduced by Pope Leo XIII in 1887. The 1917 Code explicitly and universally stated: "The law of abstinence prohibits meat and soups made of meat but not of eggs, milks, and other condiments, even if taken from animals" (1917 Code, Canon 1252 § 4). [Translation taken from THE 1917 OR PIO-BENEDICTINE CODE OF CANON LAW in English Translation by Dr. Edward Peters]. Gone was the significance of Easter eggs, celebrating the end of a long Lent. 

Dispensations From Abstinence Were Previously Required Even for Holy Days of Obligation Outside of Lent

The 1917 Code also introduced the radical notion that a Holy Day of Obligation would eo ipso overrule the requirement of Friday abstinence for any Holy Days of Obligation outside of Lent. Previously the only day that would automatically abrogate the requirement of Friday abstinence was Christmas Day. On this singular exception, Dom Gueranger writes in the Liturgical Year published in 1886:

"To encourage her children in their Christmas joy, the Church has dispensed with the law of abstinence, if this Feast fall on a Friday. This dispensation was granted by Pope Honorius III, who ascended the Papal Throne in 1216. It is true that we find it mentioned by Pope St Nicholas I, in the ninth century; but the dispensation was not universal; for the Pontiff is replying to the consultations of the Bulgarians, to whom he concedes this indulgence, in order to encourage them to celebrate these Feasts with solemnity and joy: Christmas Day, St Stephen, St John the Evangelist, the Epiphany, the Assumption of our Lady, St John the Baptist, and SS Peter and Paul. When the dispensation for Christmas Day was extended to the whole Church, these other Feasts were not mentioned."

Before the time of St. Pius X, a dispensation was required by the Holy Father to dispense from Friday abstinence on any other Holy Day of Obligation. Two examples indicating this are Pope Leo XIII's 1890 dispensation for Assumption Day and a 1907 dispensation issued for Canada for All Saints Day. All Saints Day was at that time a Holy Day of Obligation in Canada.

The Catholic Encyclopedia on St. Pius X's Supremi disciplinæ indicates that fasting was abolished eo ipso only starting in 1911 for all Holy Days of Obligation (which were at the same time reduced to only 8): "The present Motu Proprio institutes another important change in legislation. As feasting and fasting are incompatible Pius X has abolished the obligation of fasting as well as that of abstinence for the Universal Church, should such obligation coincide with any of the eight feasts, as above." In practice, we know that the exception was Lent - Lenten abstinence and fast always remained unless explicitly dispensed from even after the weakening changes in 1911, as the 1917 Law explicitly stated: "On [Sundays] or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence or of abstinence and fast or of fast only ceases, except during Lent, nor is the vigil anticipated; likewise it ceases on Holy [Saturday] afternoon" (1917 Code, Canon 1252 § 4). [Translation taken from THE 1917 OR PIO-BENEDICTINE CODE OF CANON LAW in English Translation by Dr. Edward Peters]

Interestingly, the notion that penance was incompatible with Sundays stands in sharp contrast to centuries of Catholic Tradition which required strict abstinence on all the Sundays of Lent.

Conclusion

Saints are not perfect. While we can certainly praise many of St. Pius X's actions, it would be imprudent to endorse all of them - and conversely to always dismiss any modern churchmen by the fact that they are not from before Vatican II. Discernment and critical thinking is necessary with anything. As it concerns Holy Days of Obligation, fasting, and abstinence, St. Pius X introduced liberal practices that only accelerated the collapse of Catholic practices. The practices in place under St. Pius X are shadows of former times, and those practices were weakened quickly so that by 1962 they were even weaker

To reclaim Catholic Tradition requires a radical return to the Faith of our ancestors and their observances. May our forefathers and ancestors who are in Heaven and who see the face of God pray for us and for the entire Church Militant to return to the happy days of eras past when Catholics widely and joyfully practiced the Faith. And may St. Pius X intercede for us on this request.
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Sunday, March 28, 2021
Plenary Indulgences for Holy Week
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Monday, March 15, 2021
Is Fasting or Abstinence Required on Holy Days of Obligation in Lent?
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Saint Joseph and the Christ Child by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

St. Joseph's Day as a Holy Day of Obligation

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 one locality. St. Joseph's Day is on that list.

However, due to dispensations, differences ranged drastically as to which days were kept as holy days throughout the world. In some parts of the world, St. Joseph's Day on March 19th was a Holy Day of Obligation whereas in others it was not. For instance, St. Joseph's Day was a Holy Day of Obligation in Quebec in the late 1600s and also in the British Colonies in what is now the United States of America. It was also a holy day of Obligation in what is now Florida, among other places. But changes abounded as the number of holy days gradually weakened over the centuries. 

At America's birth, the Holy Days of Obligation, in addition to every Sunday, were as follows: the feasts of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Annunciation, Easter Monday, Ascension, Whitsun Monday, Corpus Christi, Ss. Peter and Paul, Assumption, and All Saints. St. Joseph's Day had ceased being a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States. However, it remained a holy day in some other parts of the world.

In 1911, Pope St. Pius X issued Supremi disciplinæ which drastically reduced the number of Holy Days of Obligation in the Universal Church to only 8. St. Joseph's Day did not make the list. Shortly thereafter in 1917, however, Corpus Christi and St. Joseph were added back by his successor, bringing the total to 10. The 10 currently observed on the Universal Calendar are the same as from 1917.

As for the Holy Days observed in the United States, the Catholic Encyclopedia in referencing Supremi disciplinæ noted, "Where, however, any of the above feasts has been abolished or transferred, the new legislation is not effective. In the United States consequently the Epiphany and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul are not days of precept." The same is true of St. Joseph's Day in the changes in 1917. While the 1917 change did not add St. Joseph's Day back to the list of Holy Days of Obligation in the United States, it did elsewhere.

Presently, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malta, Spain, and the Diocese of Lugano in Switzerland keep St. Joseph's Day as a Holy Day.

St. Joseph's Day as a Day of Fast / Abstinence on Fridays in Lent

Per the 1917 Code of Canon Law is Friday abstinence still required? And would the fast of Lent still be observed? The answer is unequivocally yes.

The question of whether Holy Days of Obligation abrogate the requirement of Friday abstinence outside of Lent is mentioned in the 1917 Code:

"On [Sundays] or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence or of abstinence and fast or of fast only ceases, except during Lent, nor is the vigil anticipated; likewise it ceases on Holy [Saturday] afternoon" (1917 Code, Canon 1252 § 4). [Translation taken from THE 1917 OR PIO-BENEDICTINE CODE OF CANON LAW in English Translation by Dr. Edward Peters]

The 1917 Code is explicit - feasts of precepts do not remove the requirement to fast or abstain during Lent. The only way that the obligation would be removed during the season of Lent would be if a dispensation would be specifically offered by the lawful Church authorities for a particular day.

In 1954, Pope Pius XII issued such a decree granting bishops the permission to dispense from Friday abstinence for the Feast of St. Joseph which that year fell on a Friday. A March 26, 1954 article of the Guardian elaborates: "Bishops throughout the world have been granted the faculty to dispense their faithful from the law of abstinence on the Feast of St. Joseph, Friday, March 19. The power was granted in a decree issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Council, which said it acted at the special mandate of His Holiness Pope Pius XII. The decree was published in L'Osservatore Romano made no mention of a dispensation from the Lenten fast." 

As such, St. Joseph's Day did not permit the faithful to eat meat on Fridays in Lent unless such a specific dispensation were offered, and which was very rarely done. Likewise, to those who maintain the 1917 Code's requirement to also fast all forty weekdays of Lent - which was observed since the Early Church - St. Joseph's Day remains a day of fast. Surely St. Joseph would want us to produce worthy fruits of penance during this holiest season as we prepare for the Pascal mystery.

Unfortunately, the 1983 Code of Canon Law which aligns with the many modernist changes in the Church weakly states:

"The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent. Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday" (1983 Code, Canons 1251 - 1252). 

Dispensations From Abstinence Were Previously Required Even for Holy Days of Obligation Outside of Lent

The notion that a solemnity that is not even a Holy Day of Obligation would trump Friday abstinence in Lent is absurd and a radical departure from all of our traditions. For instance, even Christmas would in and of itself not dispense Friday abstinence in the Medieval Church as Dom Gueranger writes in the Liturgical Year published in 1886:

"To encourage her children in their Christmas joy, the Church has dispensed with the law of abstinence, if this Feast fall on a Friday. This dispensation was granted by Pope Honorius III, who ascended the Papal Throne in 1216. It is true that we find it mentioned by Pope St Nicholas I, in the ninth century; but the dispensation was not universal; for the Pontiff is replying to the consultations of the Bulgarians, to whom he concedes this indulgence, in order to encourage them to celebrate these Feasts with solemnity and joy: Christmas Day, St Stephen, St John the Evangelist, the Epiphany, the Assumption of our Lady, St John the Baptist, and SS Peter and Paul. When the dispensation for Christmas Day was extended to the whole Church, these other Feasts were not mentioned."

Previously, a dispensation was required by the Holy Father even on Holy Days of Obligation that fell outside of Lent. Two examples indicating this are Pope Leo XIII's 1890 dispensation for Assumption Day and a 1907 dispensation issued for Canada for All Saints Day. All Saints Day was at that time a Holy Day of Obligation in Canada.

The Catholic Encyclopedia on St. Pius X's Supremi disciplinæ indicates that fasting was abolished eo ipso only starting in 1911 for all Holy Days of Obligation (which were at the same time reduced to only 8): "The present Motu Proprio institutes another important change in legislation. As feasting and fasting are incompatible Pius X has abolished the obligation of fasting as well as that of abstinence for the Universal Church, should such obligation coincide with any of the eight feasts, as above." In practice, we know that the exception was Lent - Lenten abstinence and fast always remained unless explicitly dispensed from even after the weakening changes in 1911.

Must we be reminded of the warning of Pope Benedict XIV who in 1741 warned: "The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe."

Let us fast and abstain this year on March 19th when so many may fail to do so, and let us offer our acts of penance for the conversion of sinners to the Traditional Catholic Faith.
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Thursday, March 11, 2021
Prayer to St. Joseph for the Observance of Sundays and Feastdays
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Taken from the 1910 Raccolta

Please join in praying this as we prepare for next week's St. Joseph Day on March 19th. May more souls, especially Catholic ones, understand the importance of keeping Sunday as a holy day (i.e. a day of rest from all servile work and a day of Mass attendance and extra prayer).

Prayer to St. Joseph for the Observance of Sundays and Feastdays:

Most Glorious Patriarch, St. Joseph, obtain, we beseech thee, from our Lord Jesus Christ a most abundant blessing on all who keep festival days holy; obtain for us that those who profane them may know, in time, the great evil they commit, and the chastisements which they draw down upon themselves in this life and in the next, and may be converted without delay.

O Most blessed St. Joseph, thou who on the Lord's day didst cease from every labour of thy craft, and with Jesus and Mary didst fulfill the duties of religion with most lively devotion, bless the pious work of the sanctification of feast-days, erected under thy most powerful patronage; cause it to spread to every home, office, and workshop, so that the day may soon come when all the Christian populace may on feast-days abstain from forbidden work, seriously attend to the salvation of their souls, and give glory to God, who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.

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Saturday, February 27, 2021
Abstinence from Meat & Animal Products on Sundays in Lent
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It is a long-standing practice that fasting is never practiced on Sundays. However, is the same true for abstinence and how has this changed over the Church's history? And specifically, what is meant by abstinence as it concerns Sundays in Lent.

Fasting & Abstinence Defined

Before addressing these questions, a recap is in order of fasting as compared with abstinence. 

Fasting refers to how much food we eat. It means taking only one meal during a calendar day. The meal should be an average-sized meal as overeating at the one meal is against the spirit of the fast. Fasting generally means that the meal is to be taken later in the day. Along with the one meal, up to two snacks (technically called either collations or frustulum) are permitted. The collation became permitted around the 8th century and became widespread since the 14th century. The practice of an additional morning snack (called the frustulum) was introduced only in the 17th century as part of the gradual relaxation of discipline.

Abstinence in this context refers to not eating meat. Meat refers to the fleshmeat of mammals or fowl. Beef, poultry, lamb, etc are all forbidden on days of abstinence. Fish is permitted along with shellfish and other cold-blooded animals like alligators. In times past, days of fast were always days of abstinence as well; however, not all days of abstinence were days of mandatory fasting. Abstinence also during Lent prohibited lacticinia (i.e., animal byproducts like cheese, butter, milk or eggs) until only the 19th century (exceptions aside).

Lenten Fasting & Abstinence

The observance of Lent stretches back as far as Apostolic times. Lent was for centuries observed as forty days of fasting in the Roman Church with Sundays excluded. That is, from Ash Wednesday (since its institution) through Holy Saturday were days of fasting. And until the relatively modern era, days of fasting were by definition days of abstinence from meat. What is meant by abstinence here? Father Weiser in "Feasts and Customs":

"In a letter to Saint Augustine of Canterbury (604), Pope Saint Gregory the Great announced the final form of abstinence which soon became the law: 'We abstain from flesh meat and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese, eggs' (and butter of course). For almost a thousand years this remained the norm of abstinence for all except those who were excused for reasons of ill health."

Thus, Lent was kept as forty days of fasting and forty-six days of abstinence (Durandus). However, we know that Sundays do not count towards the forty days of Lent and deserve special consideration.

Sunday Abstinence from Meat

Fasting on Sundays was never obliged and never encouraged in the Roman Church at any point in history. The Decretum Gratiani from the 12th century, which was a collection of canon law compiled at the time stated that “the fast is not to be lifted in Lent except on Sundays.” It also adds that Pope St. Gregory the Great in the 6th century specifically exempted Sundays in Lent and says the faithful distinguish themselves from some heretics who did fast on Sundays. It would not be appropriate to fast during Lent on a Sunday. 

However, abstinence is not the same as fasting and while fasting was neither obligatory nor encouraged on Sundays, abstinence was actually mandatory for centuries.

There is no question that during the holy season of Lent the faithful were obliged to abstain from meat. The first major weakening of discipline and rupture with the immemorial prohibition of meat during Lent came in 1741 when Pope Benedict XIV granted permission to eat meat on fasting days. This is where partial abstinence comes from - meat was allowed at the one meal but not during the collation. He also explicitly forbade 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. 

Beforehand, the forty days of Lent were held as days of complete abstinence from meat. Sundays in Lent, for centuries, were unequivocally days of abstinence from meat. On this point, historical evidence is unwavering. Now, for the first time, meat was permitted on Sundays in Lent.  

Sunday Abstinence from Animal Products

Besides meat though, abstinence even on the Sundays of Lent included animal products, for centuries. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Lent states in part:

"From what has been said it will be clear that in the early Middle Ages Lent throughout the greater part of the Western Church consisted of forty weekdays, which were all fast days, and six Sundays. From the beginning to the end of that time all flesh meat, and also, for the most part, "lacticinia", were forbidden even on Sundays, while on all the fasting days only one meal was taken, which single meal was not permitted before evening."

The Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon SJ, p. 306 explicitly states that lacticinia was avoided on the Sundays of Lent in the early middle ages: "Milk (Latin, lac) and milk products, e.g., butter and cheese, and eggs or animal products formerly prohibited during Lent, along with flesh meat. In the early Middle Ages, lacticinia was forbidden even on Sundays during the Lenten season."

However, the prohibition of animal products during Lent extended further than just the Middle Ages. Until the time of Pope Leo XIII, abstinence by definition included not only abstinence from meat but also generally from eggs and dairy products, though exceptions were granted in various localities. Father Anthony Ruff relates, in his article “Fasting and Abstinence: The Story,” the changes made by Pope Leo XIII in the document entitled Indultum quadragesimale:

“In 1886 Leo XIII allowed meat, eggs, and milk products on Sundays of Lent and at the main meal on every weekday [of Lent] except Wednesday and Friday in the [United States]. Holy Saturday was not included in the dispensation. A small piece of bread was permitted in the morning with coffee, tea, chocolate, or a similar beverage.”

Writing regarding the then-new 1917 Code of Canon Law, Rev. Charles Augustine, OSB in "A Commentary on the New Code of the Canon Law, Volume 6" stated the following regarding a subsequent change in discipline also under Leo XIII:

"The indult of Aug 3, 1887, granted by the Holy See reads: (a) The use of flesh meat, eggs, and lacticinia is allowed on every Sunday of Lent, at every meal, and on every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of Lent at the principal meal, expect on the Saturdays of Ember week and Holy Week. There is added a clause forbbding the promiscuous use of meat and fish; this clause is now abolished by can. 1251§ 2 (b) Lacticinia and eggs are permitted on every day of Lent on which no flesh meat is allowed at the mail meal and lunch (supper)... (e) Lard or fat may be used for cooking. No indult required. (f) Those exempt from the law of fasting may eat flesh meat, eggs, and lacticinia several times a day on all days on which their use is permitted to all the faithful (as on the Sundays of Lent)." 

The Catechism of Father Patrick Powers, published in Ireland in 1905, mentions that abstinence includes refraining from flesh meat and “anything produced from animals, as milk, butter, cheese, eggs.” However, Father Patrick notes, “In some countries, however, milk is allowed at collation.” The United States was one of those nations, whereas Ireland and others were not granted such dispensations. Fr. Francis Weiser in "Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs" from 1952 some clarification on those regional exceptions:

"Abstinence from lacticinia (milk foods), which included milk, butter, cheese, and eggs, was never strictly enforced in Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia because of the lack of oil and other substitute foods in those countries. The Church using common sense granted many dispensations in this matter in all countries of Europe. People who did eat the milk foods would often, when they could afford it, give alms for the building of churches or other pious endeavors."

The Irish Ecclesiastical Record from 1881 further confirms the prohibition against animal products up until the time of Pope Leo XIII:

"The Fast of Lent includes the obligation of abstinence in its strictest form; so that where its rigour has not been tempered by usage or by dispensation, the use even of lactincinia, as well as of eggs or meat, is absolutely prohibited, even at the principal meal, on every day in Lent."

The Record further elaborates specifically and clearly on Sundays in Lent:

"But although the Sundays in Lent are not fasting days, there can be no question that, by the common law of the Church, they are days of most rigorous abstinence. By referring to any theological treatise on the subject, it will be seen that the ecclesiastical law prohibits the use, not only of meat, but even of eggs and lactincinia, not merely on the forty fasting days of Lent, but on every day during the Lenten time, that is to say, on Sundays, as well as weekdays, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday." 

As indicated above, it was not until the late 1880s that this changed. And in only a few more decades, the whole of Lent and all other days of obligatory fastings permitted animal products:

"The law of abstinence prohibits meat and soups made of meat but not of eggs, milks, and other condiments, even if taken from animals" (1917 Code, Canon 1252 § 4). [Translation taken from THE 1917 OR PIO-BENEDICTINE CODE OF CANON LAW in English Translation by Dr. Edward Peters]

Conclusion

While many more Catholics are becoming aware of what we have lost in regard to fasting and abstinence due to the weakening faith of the modern era, only recently have more Catholics become aware of just how far we have fallen. While I am happy to know of several Catholics who are this year observing Lent as forty days of fasting and abstinence, few were initially aware of just how much has changed with even Sunday penance during Lent.

Indeed, for centuries, Catholics marked the end of merriment with Mardi Gras and bade farewell to meat - the derivation of the word 'carnival' - and with meat, all that came from animals. In England, pancakes became a popular meal for using up all the eggs and milk which were forbidden throughout Lent. For this reason, Easter Eggs became popular as eggs would have only returned to diets on Easter Sunday. And remnants of this remain even to the present day since the Church prescribes specific blessings for eggs or meat on Holy Saturday in anticipation of their use on Easter Sunday.

To truly observe Lent as our forefathers observed it with great devotion, zeal, and discipline, we would do well to know that only the Lord's Resurrection on Easter brings the end to our discipline. While Sundays are a small reprieve on that journey, our penance remains until we hear the bells at Holy Mass sound once again during the Gloria and we celebrate the most important moment in the history of the world - when the soul of our Lord was reunited with His Body in the Resurrection. 

Please join me in observing this Lent as forty days of fasting and forty-six days (Sundays included) of abstaining from meat and lacticinia. 

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