Monday, December 16, 2013
Mark Your Calendars: Advent Ember Day Fasting

Although Ember Days are no longer considered required in mainstream Roman Catholicism following Vatican II, they can - and should - still be observed by the Faithful. In fact, many Traditional priests encourage the Faithful to observe the days. Ember Days are set aside to pray and/or offer thanksgiving for a good harvest and God's blessings. If you are in good health, please at least fast during these three days and pray the additional prayers. Remember the words from the Gospel: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).  Ember Days are days of fasting and partial abstinence.

Ember Days this December: 18, 20 and 21

From New Advent:

Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class.

At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding; hence their feriae sementivae, feriae messis, and feri vindimiales. The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering: the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four. This pope also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of ember week--these were formerly given only at Easter.

Before Gelasius the ember days were known only in Rome, but after his time their observance spread. They were brought into England by St. Augustine; into Gaul and Germany by the Carlovingians. Spain adopted them with the Roman Liturgy in the eleventh century. They were introduced by St. Charles Borromeo into Milan. The Eastern Church does not know them. The present Roman Missal, in the formulary for the Ember days, retains in part the old practice of lessons from Scripture in addition to the ordinary two: for the Wednesdays three, for the Saturdays six, and seven for the Saturday in December. Some of these lessons contain promises of a bountiful harvest for those that serve God.

From Catholic Culture:
Since man is both a spiritual and physical being, the Church provides for the needs of man in his everyday life. The Church's liturgy and feasts in many areas reflect the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall and winter). The months of August, September, October and November are part of the harvest season, and as Christians we recall God's constant protection over his people and give thanksgiving for the year's harvest.

The September Ember Days were particularly focused on the end of the harvest season and thanksgiving to God for the season. Ember Days were three days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) set aside by the Church for prayer, fasting and almsgiving at the beginning of each of the four seasons of the year. The ember days fell after December 13, the feast of St. Lucy (winter), after the First Sunday of Lent (spring), after Pentecost Sunday (summer), and after September 14 , the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (fall). These weeks are known as the quattor tempora, the "four seasons."

Since the late 5th century, the Ember Days were also the preferred dates for ordination of priests. So during these times the Church had a threefold focus: (1) sanctifying each new season by turning to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving; (2) giving thanks to God for the various harvests of each season; and (3) praying for the newly ordained and for future vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
St Padre Pio as the Aged Simeon: An Advent Meditation

Isn’t this picture of the Holy Capuchin Priest striking as realistic and beautiful as he presents the Divine Infant for our veneration? What strength on the one hand and what gentleness on the other! What a contrast between the manly face which is a little rough of the courageous son of Saint Francis and that of the little King of hearts! What a difference between these two right hands that we see: this tiny one which is tendered graciously towards us, and that adult and imposing one which hides its wound and its terrible sufferings under the black mitten and the lace of his alb! On the one hand the strength of a male athlete whose life is but a perpetual and dolorous immolation for God and souls, a fierce combat against sins and the demon (Bluebeard, as he calls him) and the on the other hand, the sweetness and abandon of a peaceful Baby.

But if one penetrates even further in the contemplation of this picture and thinks of Christmas Night, one perceives how goodness and sweetness is also found in the celebrated stigmatist. Loaded with such a noble burden, how lightly he walks, how his heart must be entirely enflamed at the touch of Jesus, so precious and amiable. And faith makes us see in this little Infant of Christmas the Strong God, The Lord of Hosts, Who begins His gigantic course to become one day at His turn cruelly stigmatized and immolated. He who is carried gives to him who carries Him all the strength he has need of to advance in his career of Priest and victim. “The old man carried the Infant, says the liturgy of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, but the Infant governed the old man.” (The Alleluia verse from the Mass, taken from a profound remark of Saint Augustine).

Meditation on this picture of our Capuchin “Simeon” and of his Heavenly burden will aid us to understand that in the Heart of God and of His Saints, there is as much strength as there is gentleness, as much unction as there is courage. In God and in those who resemble Him, the rigor, the intransigence, in respect to evil and error, doesn’t take away suppleness, goodness and condescension. This is a harmony and equilibrium that often escapes us. Our frailty makes us pass from stiffness to laxity, from hardness to liberality, from willfulness to passiveness, or vice versa.

The Great Antiphon that the Church has us sing before the Magnificat of Vespers on December 17th (the first of the “O” Antiphons) is perfectly adapted to our needs as children of our Seraphic Father and of Padre Pio. Before the image of the Divine Infant, let us repeat it several times with confidence: “O Wisdom, that proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, mightily and sweetly disposing all things, come to teach us the way of prudence.”

Source: Written by Fr. Jacques Emily, TOSF chaplain.  If you are interested in joining the Traditional Third Order Franciscans, please contact:

Fr. Jacques Emily, TOSF chaplain
St. Aloysius Gonzaga Retreat House
PO Box 1379 Los Gatos, CA 95031
408-354-7703 tel | 408-354-7369 fax
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Bishop Fellay Launches 4th Rosary Crusade!

 Bishop Fellay's newest letter to friends and benefactors (#81) has just been published!

In his letter, the SSPX's Superior General briefly outlines the state of affairs in the Church, some issues being faced with Pope Francis, as well as the apostolic work that the Society of St. Pius X faithfully continues.

Most importantly, Bishop Fellay has announced a fourth Rosary Crusade with the goal of offering 5 million rosaries to Our Lady for the intentions of:
  1. To implore from the Immaculate Heart of Mary a special protection for the traditional apostolate;
  2. For the return to Tradition within the Church;
  3. For the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the consecration of Russia.

2014 Rosary Crusade

January 1 until June 8, 2014


1) Prayer and penance as asked for at Fatima;
2) Sanctification through the duty of state;
3) Spirit of sacrifice in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Video: Mass within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception

A low Traditional Latin Mass, celebrated according to the St. Pius X rubrics (pre 1955 changes) by Fr. Julian Larrabee at St. Gertrude the Great Catholic Church, West Chester, Ohio. The school choir sings all the unchanging parts of the Mass. The Mass was celebrated within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Blessing of Roses on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

As this is a devotion unknown to most Catholics, I wish to share part of a post written last year by the blog Kankakee TLM.  For those interested in participating in this tradition who are in the Chicago area, there will be a 7 PM High Mass on December 12th (The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) followed by the Traditional Blessing of Roses at the Shrine of Christ the King on Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago.  The Sermon will be in both English and Spanish.

The excerpt:
In 1554 a plague broke out, which quickly claimed the lives of more than 12,000 persons.  A public procession to Our Lady’s shrine was organized, and by the very next day, the death rate began to ebb off, and the plague soon ended.

Other outbreaks of rampant disease occurred in 1633 and 1695, when again, with a procession, and with a novena to our Lady, she put an end to the death-dealing calamities. Many, many other such historical accounts have been recorded, when our Lady, as compassionate Mother has hastened to assist those who with faith and love invoke her aid. She still loves her children and will speedily hasten to come when invoked.  So many can attest to her signal graces!

Last year, the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago had their first TLM in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Afterwards, Canon Talarico blessed roses for the faithful to take home; we were encouraged to take them to the sick.  These roses were given a traditional blessing:

“…by the sign of the Holy Cross let these roses be endowed with such blessing that the sick to whom they are brought and whose homes they adorn may be healed of their infirmities; and let them drive away in fear and trembling the devil with all his followers, nevermore to molest the people who are Thy servants.”
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Tota Pulchra Es Recording

Tota pulchra es is an old Catholic prayer, written in the fourth century. It is one of the five antiphons for the psalms of Second Vespers for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The title means "You are completely beautiful" (referring to the Virgin Mary). It speaks of her immaculate conception. It takes some text from the book of Judith, and other text from Song of Songs, specifically 4:7

Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te. Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol. Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te. Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri. Tota pulchra es, Maria.

You are all beautiful, Mary, and the original stain [of sin] is not in you. Your clothing is white as snow, and your face is like the sun. You are all beautiful, Mary, and the original stain [of sin] is not in you. You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you give honour to our people. You are all beautiful, Mary.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Evangelii Gaudium Observances from the SSPX

Note: The following is taken from the website of the SSPX.

On November 26, 2013, Pope Francis published the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (the joy of the Gospel), which was to be a synthesis of the Synod on the new evangelization that Benedict XVI had called together in October 2012. In fact, the new pope hardly takes this synod into account, and leaves to the local episcopates the care of drawing for themselves the conclusions that they find useful. He prefers, in this document, to develop the themes that seem important to him and that he has already exposed here and there in the first eight months of his pontificate.

Thus do we find in the 288 points of this long exhortation his favorite expressions: the Church must “go out to others to reach the fringes of humanity”; “a poor Church for the poor”; rather a Church that is “bruised and hurting” because she went out to meet others, than a Church that is unhealthy because she is closed to others…

Throughout this document, that has no very strictly logical plan, the pope speaks of “the Church’s missionary transformation” (Ch. 1); “the crisis of communal commitment” (Ch. 2), in which he treats the “temptations faced by pastoral workers”; preaching (Ch. 3); “the social dimension of evangelization” (Ch. 4), in which he mentions, among other things, attention to the poor and social peace.

In the beginning, Francis recognizes the “programmatic” nature of this exhortation for his pontificate: “I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences.” (#25) Which brings some Vatican specialists to say that this is in reality an encyclical.

Speaking of the reform announced in the Church, as Jean-Marie Guenois wrote in Le Figaro on November 27, the Sovereign Pontiff:
calls for one of the applications of Vatican II that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, under the pontificate of John Paul II, had always fought, by burying the project of “a status for the Bishops’ conferences” that would give them “a certain authentic doctrinal authority.” This does indeed imply weakening the center, the papacy, the Vatican, to leave more room for the local bishops. (…) This will to reform the profound culture of the Church — to go from a centralizing and dogmatic vision to the vision of a Church “with her doors thrown open” the better to welcome — implies a series of small reforms, that are not just friendly suggestions, but whose application Francis is very clearly demanding.
And observers did not fail to notice that this apostolic exhortation contains as many references to texts from bishoprics in different regions of the world as to texts from the Roman magisterium.
While waiting upon a more thorough analysis, three remarks can already be made:
1. Behind the pope’s desire to inspire a new missionary impulse, we cannot help seeing an implicit denunciation of the present evils in the Church, a denunciation that does not dare to trace back to the cause of these evils. When he invites Catholics to be more involved in social life, he shows — without saying as much – how great a disaster was caused by the “burial” encouraged by the Council, on the pretext of being more open to the world — a “burial” that was none other than a secularization, an adopting of the spirit of the world, made visible to all the faithful by the adopting of the secular habit by most clerics. And this secular habit gave birth to secular habits…

2. When Pope Francis rightly denounces the myth of the “invisiDIUCble hand” that harmoniously but mysteriously rules the movements of the “divinized market”, he is denouncing liberalism, but he fails to quote the great anti-liberal encyclicals of his pre-conciliar predecessors, such as Leo XIII. Perhaps because these criticisms of economic liberalism come with a criticism of doctrinal liberalism, to whose values the Council wished to open the Church, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger admitted?
3. The apostolic exhortation denounces the privatization of religion in post-modern society, which rejects the political and social dimension of Catholicism, but at the same time wishes to maintain the conciliar requirements of religious liberty and inter-religious dialogue, claiming that evangelization is contradicted by neither one. The exhortation merely states this non-contradiction, but the facts take care of proving it wrong. Thus does the pope “humbly pray and implore the countries (of Islamic tradition) to grant the Christians the freedom to celebrate their cult and to live their faith, taking into account the liberty that the believers of Islam enjoy in the Western countries!”(#253) There we see the Council put to the test of reality.
Day of Fasting: Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (December 7)

 The Immaculate Conception by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Besides being the feastday of St. Ambrose, today is the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception.  And, consequently, today is traditionally a day of fasting and partial abstinence from meat.

Day of Fast and Abstinence

For today, we as traditional Catholics are called upon to fast and to refrain from eating any flesh meat, except with the one principal meal allowed on a day of fasting.  Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.  On this day one, normal-sized meal and two smaller meals that do not equal the normal meal are allowed. Eating between meals, however, is prohibited although fruit juices and milk are allowed. The two smaller meals can not contain flesh meat.

History of the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception:

On November 30, 1879, Pope Leo XIII added the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception to the Universal Church's calendar, increasing the number of liturgical vigils from 16 to 17, which not including Holy Saturday, consisted of "the eves of Christmas, the Epiphany, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the eight feasts of the Apostles, St. John the Baptist, St. Laurence, and All Saints." At this time, the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception was not yet a fast day. These 17 vigils mentioned were still in place at the time of the writing of the Catholic Encyclopedia in 1909.

On July 25, 1957, Pope Pius XII transferred the fast in the Universal Church from the Vigil of the Assumption to the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception on December 7, even though he had previously abrogated the Mass for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception. Thus, this day starting in 1957 was a day of mandatory fasting and abstinence. This is preserved in the laws in force in 1962 for instance.

By 1962, the laws of fasting and abstinence were as follows as described in "Moral Theology" by Rev. Heribert Jone and adapted by Rev. Urban Adelman for the "laws and customs of the United States of America" copyright 1961: "Complete abstinence is to be observed on all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday, the Vigils of Immaculate Conception and Christmas. Partial abstinence is to be observed on Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays and on the Vigil of Pentecost. Days of fast are all the weekdays of Lent, Ember Days, and the Vigil of Pentecost." If a vigil falls on a Sunday, the law of abstinence and fasting is dispensed that year and is not transferred to the preceding day. Father Jone adds additional guidance for the Vigil of the Nativity fast: "General custom allows one who is fasting to take a double portion of food at the collation on Christmas Eve (jejunium gaudiosum)."

The Importance of the Immaculate Conception:

The Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the faith stating that Mary was conceived sinless in the womb of her mother Anne, and Mary remained without sin throughout her entire life. Remember, Mary is not just an average woman but the Mother of God; she is extraordinary (Luke 1:42). She is, by no means, divine in anyway, but she certainly is the greatest of all saints. She is the perfect model of charity. Let us try and imitate Mary by wearing her Brown Scapular and praying the Rosary. To imitate Mary, is to grow closer to Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum:
An interval of a few months will again bring round that most happy day on which, fifty years ago, Our Predecessor Pius IX., Pontiff of holy memory, surrounded by a noble crown of Cardinals and Bishops, pronounced and promulgated with the authority of the infallible magisterium as a truth revealed by God that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was free from all stain of original sin. All the world knows the feelings with which the faithful of all the nations of the earth received this proclamation and the manifestations of public satisfaction and joy which greeted it, for truly there has not been in the memory of man any more universal or more harmonious expression of sentiment shown towards the august Mother of God or the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
Mary, Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, pray for us who have recourse to thee!


O God, who didst wondrously preserve the mother of Thine only-begotten Son from original sin in her own conception, grant, we beseech Thee, that Thou mayest make us, strengthened by her intercession, to keep her festival with clean hearts. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Book Review: St. Edmund Campion Missal

I use Grammarly - the best plagiarism checker out there - because a true work of art is truly one-of-a-kind.

Each and everyday countless books are sold in the world and new books are being published for the first time.  With the advent of and other self-publishing platforms, there are thousands of books introduced into the world each year.  For a Catholic trying to navigate the narrow road, he will find many books that are neither beautiful nor spiritually enriching.  And once in a while he will find a book that is either very beautifully designed or one that is truly spiritually enriching and enduring.  It is a gem to find a book that has both characteristics.  I’m glad that I have found such a one in the St. Edmund Campion Missal.

The St. Edmund Campion Missal is more than a standard Missal.  There are plenty of great Missals for the Traditional Latin Mass in the marketplace.  What separates this Missal from other is its sheer beauty. 

The proponents of the Traditional Latin Mass often call it "The Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven."  It's fitting that there is now a Missal that seeks to showcase the beauty of the Mass in the Missal.
Contained in the Missal is over 75 traditional line art illustrations collected from a special Benedictine archive and carefully digitally-enhanced. The pictures were carefully placed according to the liturgical year and feast within the Missal.  [Sample]

Yet most is most striking is the stunningly beautiful step-by-step photos of the Mass.  Where most missals fall short is clearly showing the steps of the Mass.  And if they are shown, they are usually tailored either to the Low Mass or to the Solemn  High Mass.  The St. Edmund Campion Missal does most. Some of these photos are included in the Course on the Mass.

As the publisher states: "A distinguishing feature of our book is the inclusion of the complete Ordo Missae for both Solemn and Low Mass, along with 100+ color photographs, made possible by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, to help the congregation follow the prayers and ceremonies. All vestments used were 200+ years old."

For those concerned with the music included in the Missal, this is a gem indeed.  Again from the publisher: "For the first time since the 1950s, all eighteen Gregorian chant Masses from the Kyriale (Vatican Edition with Solesmes rythmic signs) and all six versions of the Credo have been carefully typeset and printed in a book for the congregation. The scores are presented in a large size, to facilitate congregational singing, and they are printed with amazing precision and clarity."  In addition, the Missal contains 150 elegant, enduring, traditional, Catholic hymns in English for the congregation.

For those who know me, I do not assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the same location each week.  I am known to alternate between a few locations: two served by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, one by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, one by the Society of St. Pius X, and a Byzantine Divine Liturgy Parish. 

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter recently moved into St. Joseph's Church in the area and it was there that I came in contact with the St. Edmund Campion Missal.  In this case, the parish was given by the Diocese to the Fraternity and the congregation was undergoing a great change.  The Missal undoubtedly has helped the remaining members of the parish to familiarize themselves with the Traditional Mass, understand it, and love it. 

Simply put, this Missal is a must-have.  It is a work of art and deserving to be used for decades by its owner. This is a book that will proudly sit on my shelf next to the Sacred Scriptures.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
On the Care of the Dead

The Society of St. Pius X has put together the following article well worth reading and meditating upon:

"The care with which we bury the dead expresses our faith in the victory over everlasting death which Our Lord Jesus Christ has won in our human nature by His own Death and Resurrection.  We bury the dead in the sure hope of the resurrection of the body, when their mortal bodies will share fully in the glory of the Risen Christ" (St Augustine, On the Care of the Dead circa 422 AD).
In the middle of the 11th century, St. Odilo, the abbot of Cluny (France), said that all Cluniac monasteries were to offer special prayers and sing the Office for the Dead on November 2, the day after the feast of All Saints. The custom spread from Cluny and was was adopted throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church. Now the entire Church celebrates November 2nd as All Soul's Day.
Yet it this does not mean that the bodies of the departed are to be despised and flung aside, and above all those of just and faithful men, whose bodies have been used by their spirits as instruments and tools for doing all their good works. For just as the greater the affection one has for his parents, the more treasured are the father’s clothing and ring and all such things to those who survive him, in the same way the bodies themselves should not be neglected, since we wear them and are joined to them more closely than anything which we ourselves put on. For our bodies are not some ornament or aid which is added from outside, but belongs to the very nature of man.

Funerals with dutiful piety

So also in ancient times the funerals of just men were arranged with dutiful piety, and their funerals were celebrated, and burials provided for, and while they were still alive they gave instructions to their sons about their burial or even about moving their bodies to another place.
Tobias also was commended by the testimony of an angel for burying the dead, thus obtaining favor with God (Tobit 2:9). The Lord Himself also, when He was about to rise on the third day, both proclaimed, and commended for preaching the good work of the pious woman who poured a precious perfume over His limbs and did it for his burial.  And the Gospel commemorated with praise those who took Christ’s body from the cross and carefully and with reverent honor saw it wrapped and laid in the tomb.
However these authorities in no way suggest that dead bodies can experience any feeling; but rather, they signify that the providence of God (Who is pleased with such acts of piety) is concerned also with the bodies of the dead, in order that our faith in the resurrection might be strengthened. From these we can also profitably learn that the reward for giving alms to those who are alive and have their senses must be great, if God does not overlook even those things which with duty and diligence we do for the lifeless bodies of men...

Mark of good and human disposition

If this be true, then also providing a burial place for bodies at the memorials of saints is a mark of a good and human disposition towards the remains of one’s friends. For if there is a sanctity in providing burial, there must also be sanctity in paying attention to where the burial occurs. But while it is desirable that there be such solace for the survivors, by which means they can show their pious attitudes towards their beloved, I do not see what assistance this can be to the dead except in this way: that when remembering the place in which the bodies of those whom they love have been laid, they might with their prayers commend the departed to those same saints as if they were patrons undertaking to aid them before the Lord. Indeed they would still be able to do so, even if they were not able to be interred in such places...

Supplications for all the departed

But even if, due to the lack of opportunity, some necessity does not permit bodies to be interred, or to be interred in such places, one should still not neglect prayers for the souls of the dead. For in its general prayer the Church undertakes to make such supplications for all the departed in our Christian and catholic fellowship, even without mentioning their names. Thus those who do not have parents or sons or any relatives or friends still have the one pious mother common to all Christians to perform these acts for them. But no matter how holy the places where lifeless bodies are laid, I think their souls will not profit in the least without such prayers for the dead and if they are not made with the right faith and piety.


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