March 2001

March 27, 2001 -- St. John Damascene

Mass by the Clock

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Is there a proper (i.e., prudent) length for a Low Mass? a High Mass? A priest once said, regarding the length of a sermon, that the first 15 minutes are for the glory of God; the second 15 minutes are for the glory of the priest; the third 15 minutes are for the devil. Is there a prudent length for the normal sermon? Since Sunday Mass (and sermon) is not a private devotion, shouldn't the time taken not unduly burden the elderly, the sick, large families, and those from afar?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Holy Mass is not an automatic car wash, to be timed to the minute! That having been said, there is a certain proper uniformity, within bounds. One should not rush, nor should one drag Mass out unduly. A hour for a Low Mass without a sermon seems excessive. At the chapel where I celebrate Mass, it usually runs to about 50 minutes, with Asperges and sermon. I certainly don't rush, but I don't dawdle either. When I chant High Mass, again with Asperges and sermon, it can run to an hour or so.

As to sermons, given the reduced attention span of modern people, 15 minutes seems about right for most situations. I think that is about what I use when giving a sermon, including announcements and comments on the Saint of the liturgical day.

I'm not sympathetic with the idea that Holy Mass is a "burden." I don't doubt that those same people would think nothing of sitting in front of a TV set and watching a 2-1/2 hour football game or going to the theater and watching a 2 hour movie without a complaint in the world! Moreover, if these good people have made an effort to get to Holy Mass, isn't it short-changing them to rush through? That hour is about the only hour some people spend with God the whole week!

Peter's Denial Retracted

From: Alfred

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Could you please answer me what the reading of the Gospel according to St. John, 21:15 through 21:23 mean?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Verses 15-17 invert St. Peter's triple denial of Our Lord after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsamane. Our Lord draws out of Peter a triple confirmation of his role as leader of the Church. Verses 18-19 predict St. Peter's martyrdom after his arrest and imprisonment. Verses 20-23 refer to St. John the Apostle. St. John himself here tells us that some people at the time misunderstood a saying of Our Lord with respect to St. John, who was the youngest of the Apostles and lived longer than any of them, dying about the year 100. Moreover, although he suffered for the Faith, he did not suffer actual martyrdom.

March 26, 2001 -- Annunciation of the B.V.M.

Walk with Me a Little Way

From: Paul

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Despite my arguments, my mother still insists that the one-hour Eucharistic fast of the Novus Ordo, since most people are busy and don't have time to eat; thus, they must eat before Mass. What do you think, Father?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Sorry, I can't buy that argument. Remember what Our Lord said about those who claimed that they were "too busy" for Him? He said that they should be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Can your mother possibly be so "busy" on a Sunday morning that she can't follow even the severely mitigated indult of 1956 and abstain from solid food for three hours before Holy Communion, instead of coming to the altar rail belching ham and eggs eaten up to 15 minutes before going to Holy Mass (the Novus Ordo M.O. is an hour before Communion, which is maybe 15 minutes before Mass)?

I think that your mother needs to re-examine what her Faith means to her. She is too "busy" to prepare herself properly for the great Sacrament that Our Lord died to give her. But --

It would be appropriate for your mother to examine her conscience this Lent and discover whether she would have joined the Blessed Virgin, St. John, and St. Mary Magdalene at the foot of the Cross. Or whether she would have been "too busy" to bother and then, on the day of her passing from this life, hear her Lord say to her: "I never knew you. Depart from me" (Matthew 7:23).

What Is Hell?

From: Sam

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What does and "He decended into Hell" mean exactly in the Creed?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

"Hell" is not a particularly good translation here. The Latin creed gives ad inferos, literally, "to the lower regions." After Christ completed the sacrifice of Calvary, He descended to open the gates of Heaven to the just of Old Testament times who were waiting for salvation. This, in Catholic theology, is known as the Limbus Patrum, the Limbo of the Fathers. We think of such men as Job, Lazarus, and so forth. Clearly, this is not the Hell of the Damned, which is an entirely different concept and would have nothing to do with Christ.

Too Much of a Good Thing

From: Anna

Is it permitted to receive Holy Communion more than once in a day? Example: a organist serving two Masses on Sunday and receiving Holy Communion at each Mass.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

No, it is not permitted. The only exception is the reception of Holy Viaticum by the dying, if they have received Holy Communion earlier in the day.

March 25, 2001 -- Fourth Sunday of Lent "Laetare"

A Lenten Preparation

From: Fr. Moderator

I would like to commend to you a most fruitful spiritual practice for this time of year: the reading of the accounts of the Passion of Our Lord in the Gospels of Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. By the time Holy Week arrives, and the Passion is read or chanted as part of the Sacred Liturgy of that most Holy Week of the year, there are so many subjects to meditate upon that these marvelous spiritual texts of the Passion are passed over much too quickly.

Moreover, although many traditional Catholics will have the opportunity to hear the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Matthew (26:1-75, 27:1-66) on Palm Sunday, many will not have the opportunity to hear the Passion according to St. Mark (14:1-72, 15:1-16), which is read or chanted on Tuesday of Holy Week; the Passion according to St. Luke (22:1-71, 23:1-53), which is read or chanted on Spy Wednesday; or the Passion according to St. John (18:1-40, 19:1- 42), which is read or chanted on Good Friday. It is most important, therefore, that you take the opportunity before Holy Week to read and meditate upon these central texts of Sacred Scripture.

Also at the center of your devotions at this time of Lent approaching Passiontide should be the recitation of the Seven Penitential Psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142). Those who pray out of the Breviarium Romanum will find these in the end matter, together with prayers and litanies. Others will find them in the more complete handmissals, or directly out of Scripture.

In addition, you should practice the Via Crucis, or Way (Stations) of the Cross. There are a number of texts for this devotion. There are longer ones by St. Francis and St. Alphonsus Liguori, and there are shorter ones as well. These will be found in the more complete handmissals or in separate publications from the appropriate suppliers listed in the Traditional Directory. It is not necessary that you have access to the actual Stations of the Cross in a Church. The indulgences apply equally to the practice of the devotion before a crucifix.

What of the SSPX? - Update VII

From: Tom

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Regarding personal prelatures and whether the SSPX would ever be granted that status, it is rather interesting to note that the "prelate" of a personal prelature must be appointed by the pope, as happened in the case of Opus Dei. Is this just the Vatican's way of trying to take control of the SSPX?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Good question, but it is more important to look at the realities rather than the "paper trail." Opus Dei has been demonized (some say rightly, some say wrongly) after its "personal prelature."

The much touted "indult" of 1988 has had thirteen years to operate. It was backed by an Apostolic Letter from the pope and a Vatican commission set up specifically for it. With all this "official" support, what have been the results after 13 years? Only half the 300 U.S. dioceses have even one "Latin Mass," and many of those are not the traditional Latin Mass, but Novus Ordo hybrids.

Why has so little been happened, even given the papal approval? The local bishops, that's why. Since Vatican II the Church has been run not by the Vatican, but by the local bishops. Even if SSPX became a personal prelature (do pigs fly?), I have no doubt that the SSPX would be quickly demonized and marginalized by the Novus Ordo just as Opus Dei has been. Moreover, the local bishops, who have been fighting the SSPX, and all other traditional Catholics, for twenty years now are not going to become willing lambs for the traditional slaughter just because the pope or C. Hoyos say so.

Traditional Catholics need to look around and smell the coffee. The Traditional Movement will not win out because of papal documents, or cardinals, or bishops, but because the faithful refuse to accept one iota less than the fully traditional Latin Mass, Sacraments, and Roman Catholic Faith that have been given to them by Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles.

And let us not forget that the SSPX, while more visible, represents less than one-fifth of the Traditional Movement. One-third is represented by non-indult, non-SSPX priests, who have the courage to stand against the New Order without compromise.

March 23, 2001 -- Ferial Day

Church Needs Much More than Exorcism!

From: William

Dear Fr. Moderator:

We have a dilemma which regards a Roman Catholic Church that has held a women's ecumenical prayer group in its sanctuary. This is a church that has the Novus Ordo Mass exclusively. Can we ever go back to this church, or does it need an exorcism?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

It's not the building that's at fault, but what's going on within it! That church isn't "Roman Catholic," no matter what the sign on the door says. If you go into the grocery store and see a lemon in the bin marked "bananas," do you assume that because the sign seems to say so, the lemon is a banana? Of course not! The Novus Ordo Worship Service, which is in no way part of authentic Catholic Tradition, one might just as well consider a Lutheran church and treat it accordingly.

Traditional Blessing of Religious Items

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

In the church bulletin this week I read that religious items will be blessed after Mass next week. Being a recent convert to the traditional Faith, I do not know where to find the prayers and appropriate responses (if any) that will be used. I have a St. Michael medal that I would like to have blessed. I'm wondering whether there is there anything that I need to do besides bring it to church with me next week? What kind of things do you recommend that traditional Catholics have blessed?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Almost all blessings begin with Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini [Our help is in the name of the Lord], to which the response is Qui fecit caelum et terram [Who made heaven and earth]. Then Dominus vobiscum, to which the response is Et cum spiritu tuo. The most common articles blessed are holy images, medals, rosaries, and crucifixes.

What of the SSPX? -- Update VI

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

According to a message received from Canadian sources, the SSPX-Vatican pact is slated to be signed on March 27 and will not include the assertion of the Vatican that priests have the right to the Traditional Latin Mass. Is it true? Your kind response will be much appreciated.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

I hadn't heard that one (and note that this is just another report, which may or may not be true), but nothing the current SSPX leadership does should surprise anyone. If they fall into the Vatican's clever trap, they will be merely as self-serving as they have appeared before in their dealings, even toward the traditional Catholic community. The only one who seems to have keep some sanity is Bp. Williamson, and he does not appear to be an active member of the leadership, but rather to play the role of contrarian to the SSPX. The successors of Alexander became focused on self-aggrandizement and thereby lost the unity of the Hellenistic world. Is history repeating itself in the successors of Marcellus?

March 19, 2001 -- St. Joseph, Spouse of the B.V.M.

Does Mahoney Want a Priestless Church?

From: San Diego News

Dear Fr. Moderator:

By Robert Kumpel
"What some refer to as a 'vocations crisis' is, rather, one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, a sign of God's deep love for the Church, and an invitation to a more creative and effective ordering of gifts and energy in the Body of Christ." So wrote Roger Cardinal Mahony in "As I Have Done for You, A Pastoral Letter on The Ministry," issued last year. According to some, though, the vocations crisis in the archdiocese of Los Angeles is the fruit of a concerted effort to weed out orthodox applicants to the local seminary.
Younger priests and dismissed seminarians have complained that St. John's routinely questions applicants about their approval of women's ordination, dismissing those who express their opposition to it. One former archdiocesan seminarian said that seminarians must face a "litmus test" before they can hope to get through the door at the seminary.
[Vocations Director] Sister Kathy had an agenda about what kind of priest they'd be sending out into the field and what kind of seminarian they wanted at St. John's -- you know, "collaborative ministry," "empowered laity" and all that stuff. [Seminarians] were asked, "Do you receive Communion on the tongue or in the hand?" "Do you genuflect?" "Do you say the Rosary?" "What do you think about the pope?" "How do you feel about women priests?" "What would you change if you were pope for a day?"
[Seminarian] Kurt said that "some of the seminarians just learned to play the game. It's a liberal regime that demands absolute conformity to their likes, preferences, whatever it might be. This wonderful self-proclaimed era of liberalism and renewal has actually become a very oppressive regime in the seminary. They don't just want your bodies; they want your souls.
Kurt said that spirituality at the seminary "has been completely replaced by the secular science of psychology. (Now you have the encroachment of eastern religions and eastern mysticism because people are hungry for an authentic, classical spirituality. Psychology just doesn't nourish the soul.
Father Y, an archdiocesan priest, who spoke on condition of anonymity, insists that the practice of screening out orthodox seminarians is subtle. "They try to weed them out before they even get to the seminary -- at the vocations office level. They'll never specifically ask, "Do you agree with women priests?' or anything like that. What they'll ask is, "How do you feel about women in ministry or collaboration with women in ministry?" If a guy gives an orthodox answer, he gets a definite "No." ... Kathy Bryant and she's been the vocations co-director for 10 or 15 years now. The cardinal put her in about a year or so after he took over and she's been there ever since. Her role has been to weed out as many people as possible -- anybody who's orthodox of course.
"I'm fully convinced that these people are absolutely committed to a priestless church. The whole new pastoral associates program that they are implementing in Los Angeles is basically lay people taking on the role of priests in everything except the Sacraments. We were actually told that they are envisioning one priest per parish, assisted by several pastoral associates. You cannot promote vocations to the priesthood and prepare for a priestless church at the same time, and that's what they are doing."
Who is behind this drive for a priestless church? "I hate to say it," said Father Y, "but who else could it possibly be but the cardinal himself?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

It has been clear for a long time that the so-called vocation crisis is something that is being engineered by the Novus Ordo, particularly in the United States. Traditional Catholic aren't having any vocation problems. The engineered "crisis" is being used as an excuse for introducing married priests, priestesses, and all the other non-Catholic innovations that the Novus Ordo ilk would attempt to impose on the faithful under dint of "authority."

This is just another reason why the Novus Ordo must be rejected, most especially its rotten core, which is the New Order Worship Service. We have had 35 years of being subjected to the most unCatholic rubbish even from those who purport to be Catholic cardinals. One cannot compromise with error; it just becomes worse and will lead to more and more heresy. The Church Fathers were never loath to cut off heresy at the root. We must stand with Sts. Peter and Paul and cling to the traditional Mass, Sacraments, and Faith -- no matter what purported hierarchs might try to put over on us. Depositum custodi.

There They Go Again!

From: Michael

Dear Fr. Moderator:

The Bishops in the provinces of both Kansas and Missouri have determined that henceforth the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord will be celebrated, not on Ascension Thursday forty days after the Resurrection, but rather the following Sunday. Declining observance of the Holy Day was purported to be the reason for this. Can Holy Days of Obligation be that simply taken off the calendar? Apparently they can, but it seems a shame that the laxity of the people is dictating Church Law.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

You are speaking of New Order bishops of course. No truly Catholic bishop would take it upon Himself to change Sacred Scripture. Wasn't it Vatican II that was supposed to have made the Church more "biblical" (as if it weren't already)? Well, according to the Bible, the Ascension of Our Lord occurred on a Thursday, not on a Sunday, forty days after the Resurrection (that number forty sounds familiar, doesn't it?).

So first those New Order bishops start to nibble away at Ascension Thursday. What's next? Ash Saturday? Palm Tuesday? Easter Wednesday? What if Our Lord felt too tired to die on Good Friday and decided to postpone it to the nearest Sunday!

Of course, no traditional Catholic pays any attention to this New Order nonsense. Ascension Thursday is Ascension Thursday. The people aren't dictating this; the New Wave bishops are. It's just another plank in their platform to destroy any connection with the Catholic Faith, all the better to make it easier (they think) for people to accept the Newchurch that they are constructing out of whole cloth. Pity the Novus Ordinarians who are again and again pummeled with this "unCatholicism."

How to Be "Born Again"

From: Susan

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I am confused about the answer to this question. What must I do to be saved? In John 3:3 I read that it is so simple. Just put my faith in Christ, live for Him, ask Him to forgive me of my sins and I will go to heaven. He even told the High Priest he had to be born again. Why don't I hear much of this need to be born again in church? I believe what Our Lord says in this chapter, and I feel that if I would have died before I read this chapter I would have been cheated out of Heaven by those who taught me otherwise.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Particularly in this season of Lent, you should be hearing a lot about being "born again." Perhaps you are just hearing it discussed in other words: "repentence," "confession," etc. Obviously, verse 3 is a figure of speech, as Our Lord makes clear in verse 5. The more common expression is put in the mouth of St. John the Baptist, and Our Lord, who call us to repentence, to a metanoia, literally a "change of mind."

One must be careful not to take one verse of Sacred Scripture out of context. Verse 5 makes it clear what Our Lord means by the "born again" metaphor: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Thus, Our Lord is speaking of the Sacraments that He gave to His Church, in this case particularly the Sacrament of Baptism. When you were baptized into the Catholic Faith, you were "born again." And don't forget chapter 6 of St. John's Gospel, which talks of the importance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Then, as now, many abandoned Our Lord rather than accept His full teaching.

This Lent is a particularly good time to examine your conscience daily. Are you staying close to the Lord in prayer and almswork? Are you observing the Lenten fast each weekday? Are you assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass worthily, attentively, and devoutly, on Sundays and more often if possible? Are you approaching the Sacrament of Penance regularly?

Yes, the Faith is simple; the difficulty is in following it. That is why Christ gave us His seven Sacraments, to assist us.

March 18, 2001 -- Third Sunday of Lent

Can Godparents Be Replaced?

From: Ronald

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Is it possible for parents of baptized children to "replace" a godparent, in other words, give the role of godparent to someone other than the person originally designated as such at the time of baptism?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

No. That sacramental, spiritual relationship is assumed at the time of Baptism and remains for the life of the baptized. This spiritual relationship is even a diriment impediment to contracting marriage, so serious is it.

How to Confess

From: Heidi

Dear Fr. Moderator:

When I go to Confession, is there anything else I should know? When I go in, I say "Bless me Father...," and then I say my Confession and at the end I say "O God I am heartily sorry...." Am I missing anything?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

There is a good summary in the Baltimore Catechism, which you should have to review. If you don't have a copy, see the Library of Files for FAQ05: What Traditional Books Do You Recommend?. Before your Confession, you should indicate the time since your last Confession and, at the end of your Confession, you should indicate that you have concluded with something like: "For these and all the sins of my past life, I ask pardon of God, penance and absolution from you, Father."

March 15, 2001 -- Ferial Day (Ides of March)

Moral Turpitude and the Papacy

From: Christine

Dear Fr. Moderator:

In many organizations and businesses, moral turpitude in their leader causes a demand for resignation and for removal from office. It is tragic that this is no longer the case with the US Presidency. Nevertheless, there have been popes who had illegitimate children while in office and they were not removed from office. Why?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Our Lord did not promise the Church that the pope would be a moral man. All will fail, as all are human. In the end, is a cleric fathering a child worse than a pope who, through lack of moral fortitude, allows the Church's Sacred Liturgy to be destroyed? I'd rather take Alexander VI as pope over Paul VI any day!

What Is the Antidote?

From: James

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I would like to ask you what your opinion is on the large number of lost people in my generation who spend their time immersed in sensation and not in search of meaning. They spend hours and days on drugs, participating in many questionable acts, holding truth at a distance with bitter scepticism. I see a whole generation of my brothers celebrating when they should be giving thanks, receiving instant gratification for rebelling against the mean, and drowning in a pool of sensation that they do not see. Please give me your opinion on what might be done in this sort of situation.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

First of all, don't fall into the error of thinking that this generation or this century, or you yourself, are the first to experience this. I guess you haven't ever read the Epistles of St. Paul. What you are describing could be taken directly out of his description of the society around him in the first century! And he gives us all the answers. The best thing that I can do is to commend his epistles in the New Testament to you (and to the other TRADITIO participants). Frankly, I can't think of a better Lenten practice than to read and meditate upon the advice of the Apostle to the Gentiles. The little snippets that you get at Mass are not nearly enough.

March 13, 2001 -- Ferial Day

A Logical Fallacy

From: Fr. Moderator

After more than thirty years of this Novus Ordo nonsense, nothing should surprise us about how the Novus Ordinarians attempt to explain away the "abomination of desolation." The latest comes from a "conservative" periodical entitled Inside the Vatican. This periodical expounds:

We are living through a period of apostasy in the West. There is no getting around it. And that period coincides with the period following the [Second Vatican] Council.

Sounds straightforward, doesn't it? But then the periodical goes on to say:

But it is a logical fallacy to say "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" ("after this, therefore becuase of this"). The seeds of apostasy were sown centuries ago.... The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) was part of God's providential preparation of the Church to face and withstand the full flowering of an apostasy which has noot yet reached its zenith....

To paraphrase the Irish, what a blunch of blather! Even Paul VI didn't buy this red herring. Just three years after the Novus Ordo Worship Service was rolled out, he saw the error of his ways, but was unfortunately too cowed to take the action a pope should have taken in throwing out the Novus Ordo conflagration entirely. On the occasion of the ninth anniversary of his coronation (June 29, 1972), in a moment of supreme lucidity, Paul VI proclaimed:

We have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation.... We thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned, instead, was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties.

So now the conservatives want to explain the Vatican II debacle by placing the blame on the Rennaisance?! The Council of Trent certainly didn't have any problem dealing with the Renaissance; it was held during the latter years of the Renaissance. Saints of all kinds burst forth after that Holy Council in a way not seen since the years of the early Roman martyrdoms.

Let's face it: Vatican II was the proximate cause of the current apostasy (although certainly there were other remote causes). The sooner these Novus Ordinarians admit that, the Church can publicly rescind it as the Satanic smoke that Pope Paul called it, and we can all get back to real Catholicism.

The Shocker Is at the End

From: Fr. Moderator

The Los Angeles Times reports that "how to destroy the Roman Catholic Church is the subject of a Chinese Communist pamphlet.... It reveals in great detail the Communish blueprint for the destruction of any Christian faith.... It is, in brief, the blueprint for the worldwide struggle of communism against Christianity. Some excerpts:

The Catholic Church with its seat in Rome is a reactionary organization which gives birth to counter-revolutionary activities in people's democracies. It is necessary first of all to be rid of the influence of this Church.... But to make a frontal attack on the Catholic Church ... will result in giving the Church greater authority in the masses....
The line of action is to instruct, educate, persuade, convince, and little by little by little to arouse and fully develop the political awareness of Catholics, and to get them to take part in study circles and in political activities. Making use of the activities, we must undertake a dialectical struggle within religion itself.... Gradually, we shall transform a false conscience into a true conscience, in such a way that the Catholics will eventually destroy on their own volition the divine images which they themselves have created.
One cannot allow the Church to preserve its supra-national character, which would place it above the will of the masses [the elimination of the supra- national sacred Latin language of the Church?].... The first changes are related to the Sacraments and prayers [introducction of the New Order Worship Service and traditional Sacraments?]. Then one will protect the masses against restraint or repression used to make them go to church, to organize sectarian groups of any kind. When the practice of religion has been transformed into individual responsibililty, we know that religion will soon be forgotten [eliminate fast and abstinence; leave it up to each person to follow his own "preference"?]. New generations will replace the old, and religion will be simply an episode of the past, which will not be mentioned except by writers of history....

The pamphlet describes the action to be taken in three stages:

  1. submission of the Church to civil authorities
  2. formation of a schismatic Church [the Novus Ordo?]
  3. finally, moving through a period of private, individualistic religion [again, the Novus Ordo?] to the disappearance of all religion

Right on the mark, isn't it? And now, the shocker. This pamphlet was written not in 2000, not in 1988, not even in 1972 -- but in 1968. And it appears that every point of the plan of the Red Chinese to overturn the Roman Catholic religion has succeed over the ensuing 30+ years. The only thing that has stood in its way is the resistance of traditional Catholics to the New Order and any tampering with the true Faith of Christ.

Roman Catholic Tapes

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I thought I recalled that you recorded a series of tapes on the Sacred Liturgy, the traditional Sacraments, the pronunciation of Latin and Latin prayers, a collection of your wonderful sermons (for those who have had the opportunity to hear you in person), and a number of other useful subjects for traditional Catholics. Are these still available?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Yes, they are. MAETA has kindly made all of the tapes available again at practically only the cost of duplicating them. For further information, see the Library of Files for TAPELIST.TXT: Audiocassette Tapes.

March 11, 2001 -- Second Sunday of Lent

A Media Bigot

From: Reuters/Variety

Wednesday March 7 11:50 PM ET
Catholic League Boss Gives Turner a Sermon
By Paula Bernstein
New York

The Mouth from the South strikes again. At a meeting with CNN staffers in the network's Washington bureau on Ash Wednesday, CNN founder Ted Turner noticed a number of employees had ashes on their foreheads. "What are you," Turner reportedly asked, "a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox." After Fox News recounted the incident Tuesday night on "Special Report With Brit Hume," Catholic League president William Donohue issued a diatribe about Turner: "He may be just as dumb as John Rocker [one might strongly disagree with Donohue on this characterization], but unlike the Atlanta pitcher, he occupies a position of significant influence in our culture," Donohue said. "That is why we look to his superiors at (CNN parent) AOL Time Warner to denounce Turner for his relentless attacks on Christians. Indeed, they might want to take a page from professional baseball and ship Turner off for some sensitivity training."

Fr. Moderator Comments.

If Turner still has an employer relationship in CNN, wouldn't this violate federal workplace laws, just as if he had made an offensive sexual remark to some woman employee? Rocker's statement was a first-amendment expression (outside of an employer-employee relationship); nevertheless, his right of expression was abridged for "political correctness" by overzealous sports moguls. I guess Turner can say anything offensive against Catholics, but if he whispered one word to a woman, we know he'd be out on his ear!

A Sacred Music Black List?

From: Marek

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I have heard of a "black list" for sacred music that shouldn't be sung during Mass. This list includes much traditional music that is found to be unacceptable because of various reasons such as being too "shmaltzy." Does such a list really exist?

Fr. Moderator Comments.

From time to time such conclusions were made, but given the fact that "schmaltzy" Church music was regularly composed and played at the Vatican itself, certainly in the 19th century and onward, one simply has to use good judgment about these things. (I am thinking, for example, of the music of Lorenzo Perosi, a director of the Sistine Choir, which is drippingly "schamtzy.")

One must keep in mind that Holy Mass is not a concert and that sacred music is to serve the Mass, not the other way around. That is why a-capella Gregorian chant is always the most suitable music for Holy Mass. It does not draw attention to itself apart from the text of the Propers that it is setting.

Large works such as Bach's B-Minor Mass, Verdi's Requiem, and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, while exquisite in themselves, would be very hard to place in the context of the Mass, nor were they intended to be so placed. On the other hand, Mozart's and Haydn's Masses were specifically written to be used at Mass and can appropriately be so used. Mozart's Requiem was quite appropriately integrated with Gregorian chant and sung at the Solemn Pontifical Mass commemorating the first anniversary of President Kennedy's death.

A more common practical problem is music for Catholic weddings. In an ideal sense, the usual Mendelssohn and Wagner marches can be objected to as non- religious. On the other hand, they are not sung, but used only as organ processional and recessionals, and the music of these masters is far superior to the usual sentimental popular tripe that some request, usually sung. A possible compromise is to use classical pieces only as organ meditations, for example, Bach's "Du bist bei mir," which works well as an organ motet.

Bread Is Bread

From: Ashley

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I am currently writing a paper on why a girl was denied the opportunity to take the Holy Eucharist because she suffers from a disease that doesn't allow her to consume wheats or grains. I know that the Catholic church uses wheat wafers; is that always true? I know that the Bible says only "unleavened" bread, and I'm wondering whether that means wheat? I guess I just don't understand why a rice wafer couldn't be blessed along with the wheat wafers that are blessed during Mass for the rest of the parishioners?

Fr. Moderator Comments.

The bread of Scripture is made of wheaten flour. The Jews adhere to this precept to this day. From Apostolic times the Church has always understood the bread to become the Body and Blood of Christ to be the wheaten bread that was used by Him. (Leaven refers to yeast added to make the bread rise, which is prohibited in the Roman Rite, as it is among the Jews, in commemoration of the Passover.)

Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and high Protestants have always maintained the precept. The use of any other substance renders the Sacrament invalid. Why not use wine for Baptism and water for the Holy Eucharist? Why not use cookies or hamburger buns? Why not use rice? Simply because these were not the Sacramental signs that Our Lord instituted. Who are we to question His purposes?

You seem to have this situation turned backwards in your mind. Our Lord is giving this young girl an extrordinary opportunity by Spiritual Communion to be united with him beyond what is commonly offered. By accepting this penance willingly, as God created her, just as Our Lord Himself accepted the suffering of Calvary, which He certainly did not merit, she may the more easily merit salvation. And perhaps by her penance offered for the Church (Colossians 1:24) take some of us along with her!

We ought to remember particularly during this season of Lent that the sufferings we endure are not just pointless inconveniences to be connived against, but rather special opportunities by which, if we accept them after the example of Our Lord, we may show the more readily our love for God and merit the Beatific Vision of God for eternity.

March 8, 2001 -- St. John of the Cross

There He Goes Again!

From: The BBC

John Paul II is to become the first leader of the Catholic Church to set foot in a mosque when he visits Syria in May, a church official said on Monday. The Pope is hoping that by entering the Umayyed mosque in Damascus - the site of the tomb of John the Baptist - he will underline his attempts to bring Christianity and Islam closer together.

Officials organising the Pope's itinerary, said it would be the first time that Christians and Muslims would pray together in an organised way. The Pope, 80, would lead the Christian side of the prayer and Syria's mufti, Sheikh Ahmed Kataro, the Muslim side.

Priestless Cardinals

From: Karen

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I enjoy your "Commentaries from the Mailbox" and learn a lot from it. I have a question concerning cardinals. I was told recently by a priest that a cardinal does not have to be a priest in order to be made a cardinal. I was totally floored. Is this true?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

That is true. Until the pontificate of Leo XIII in the late 19th century, simple men were sometimes called to the College of Cardinals, receiving neither ordination or consecration. There is nothing too surprising about this, since the cardinalate could be considered a curial, not a sacerdotal, office.

Since that time, however, priestly ordination after such calling has been required, and, since John XXIII, episcopal consecration. You may be unaware that the situation is the same for any single man without canonical impediments, who can be elected pope. He would have to be ordained and consecrated before coronation (installation).

March 6, 2001 -- Sts. Perpetua & Felicitas

What of the SSPX? -- Update V

From: Fr. Moderator

The following information was submitted to TRADITIO from a source close to the SSPX headquarters. It seems to be consonant with other information that the SSPX itself has put out, so it is being relayed here in timely fashion at the request of many TRADITIO readers. However, TRADITIO cannot confirm the information absolutely at this time. It is to be hoped that the SSPX itself will be more forthcoming on the matter. --Fr. Moderator

The negotiations you speak of are currently suspended. The Society was offered both establishment as an Apostolic Vicariate (which would not make them subject to local bishops) and that the "excommunication" would be declared null and never ever having force. However, Rome conceded the third point only in principle, which the Society is fighting for. That is, the Society asked for it to be declared that the Tridentine Mass is not now, nor ever has been abrogated, that it is a legal rite and that any priest of the Roman Rite may celebrate it at any time without any blemish of conscience. This point Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, head of Ecclesia Dei [Commission], conceded in principle privately, but he said that it cannot be announced publicly because of the consternation it would cause. At this point the Society replied that until this point is conceded publicly, negotiations cannot continue.

As It Was in 1969

From: Fr. Moderator

For those who weren't around in 1969, when an attempt was made to impose the Novus Ordo Worship Service, but was thwarted for two years by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, who had been the Church's chief theologian, here are some salient excerpts from an article of December 31, 1969, by Walter Matt entitled "Save the Tridentine Mass" (The Remnant). It is representative of the condemnation of the "New Mass" that was taken up almost immediately by loyal Catholics, even as early as 1969.

The Cardinal's critique of the new Ordo was in the form of a letter, dated Sept. 25, 1969, which he sent to Pope Paul together with a pertinent theological study of the new rite by a group of Roman theologians. Both the letter as well as the comprehensive study of the new Ordo have been, to our knowledge, virtually ignored or ineptly treated by the press and communications media, including most segments even of the self-styled conservative press both at home and elsewhere....
... As Cardinal Ottaviani feels about it, namely, that the new Ordo, at least until such time as an explicit ex cathedra papal judgment has been rendered concerning the matter in its entirety, is still open to question in that it seems to represent a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was so concisely formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.
Cardinal Ottaviani calls attention in this connection to the fact that whenever a new law intended for the good of the people can be proved, instead, to be harmful, the people have a right, even a duty, to ask for the abrogation of such a law. More specifically, the Cardinal asks of the Holy Father that, "at a time of such painful divisions and ever-increasing perils for the purity of the Faith and the unity of the Church," that the faithful be not deprived of "the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity of that Missale Romanum of St. Pius V (the now discarded Mass Missal) which Pope Paul himself has so highly lauded and which is "so deeply loved and venerated by the whole Catholic world."
... Considering the fact that the Holy Father only recently ordered a two-year delay or postponement before the new Ordo is to be officially and universally approved and definitively ratified by the Church, we strongly urge our readers not only to ... get behind the move to "save the Tridentine Mass," i.e., the traditional Catholic Mass, before the two-year postponement mentioned above has run its course.
After all, Pope Paul himself ... has stated publicly that "we have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment, now that we are faced with, in his words, "giving up something of priceless worth," i.e., the old Tridentine Mass. In the circumstances, it seems to us not only our right but even our duty to try to save the old Mass from those who, for whatever reasons, are in fact desacralizing and despoiling it and thereby risking the integrity of the Catholic Faith as such!
As the Roman theologians state the case at the conclusion of their scholarly study of the new Ordo: "Today, division and schism are officially acknowledged to exist not only outside of but within the Church. Her unity is not only threatened but already tragically compromised.... To abandon (at such time) a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign and the pledge of unity of worship (and to replace it with another which cannot but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless liberties implicitly authorized, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic religion) is, we feel in conscience bound to proclaim, an incalculable error."
Indeed, and if it be true, as Msgr. Francesco Spadafora, professor at the Lateran University is alleged to have written, that this new Ordo Missae has been "perpetrated we do not know exactly by whom and why, and against even the wishes of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and against an absolute majority of the Bishops, then surely the time is at hand for questions to be asked and for specific answers to be given to these and to other charges that have been made against the new Ordo.
The fact is that there are many today ourselves included who are literally sick at heart, spiritually, over the new Ordo Missae, and who simply cannot understand most of the arguments that have been advanced in its behalf. Our own correspondence, especially with priests, reflects this mood of spiritual dejection and heartache. One friend of ours, a well known priest-theologian, writes of the "new Mass" as "a most painful thing," which "fills me with agony at the mere thought that I shall have to say it, worse still, that it is 'in obedience to the Council' that we may have to say it! The fact is, as I see it, that the Council is being openly disobeyed not only with regard to the Latin and Gregorian Chant, but also insofar as that self-same Council insisted, after all, that it was proceeding in complete consonance with the Council of Trent, presumably also with Trent's decrees on the Holy Sacrifice!
"In any case, I am learning more and more that there are quite a few other priests who are just as much in agony over the new Mass as I am, and some are even contemplating getting permission from Rome to say Mass in one of the Oriental Rites if possible. As for me, this is turning out to be one of the gravest crises in my life. 'Crisis of conscience,' as Cardinal Ottaviani used it, is the right expression indeed! Hence, if you dare, don't hesitate to speak up about the agony of soul which many of us priests are going through at present. And please, do pray for us pray for me!"

March 5, 2001 -- Ferial Day

Vagrant Monks

From: Tom

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I was rather intrigued by the musical composition and storyline behind Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. The movements, as you probably are aware, include "In the Tavern," the somewhat gaudy "In the course of Love," and the famous "O Fortuna." This last is the crescendoed movement that is part of the soundtrack of several dramatic movies and television shows.

What I was completely unaware of was that Orff based this scenic cantata on the lives of some 16th-century Catholic monks who seemed to have lost their way spiritually and assumed the lives of renegade gypsies. Their days seem to be made up of two-fisted drinking, general cavorting, and violating their vows concerning chastity and poverty.

My question to you, Father, is: Was the main influence on Orff Martin Luther? Or were the religious orders of those times pretty much synonymous with the disarray we experience in our own postmodern period?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Orff was a German, a Catholic as far as I am aware, who wrote virtually all of his choral music, of which there is much, in Latin. The Carmina Burana were somewhat baudy songs (Latin: carmina) found in Berne (Latin: Burana), Switzerland, from what one might call "troubadour" monks of the Middle Ages. (You might remember Friar Tuck of the Robin Hood saga as being somewhat like this.) Their songs are delightfully playful and satirical. Monastic life was not as rigid then as it later came to be, and many monks were not attached to a monastery, but wandered the countryside, as many Franciscans did (like Friar Tuck). Thus, they were known as monachi vagantes, wandering monks.

I have edited Orff's selection for Latin students. You will find information about the Transparent Language program for Latin in the TRADITIO Library of Files in the Library of Files for SOURCES.TXT: Greek and Latin Information Sources. For further information on Carl Orff's cantata, see the Library of Files for LATREAD.TXT: Latin Readings.

Why Do They Stay?

From: Flaubert

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Many "conservative" Novus Ordo presbyters defend their silence regarding the Traditional Latin Mass. They claim to conduct a "reverent" Mass and cling to some old traditions. They say that they are "obedient" to their bishop and the Church. Do you think that this "obedience" would continue if they were given more silly changes that caused another 70% of weekly Mass-goers to leave the Church (as happened after Vatican II)? What do you think of this "obedience" argument?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Yes, I think that it would continue because these people, for whatever reason, believe that they cannot leave the structure, even if that structure floats on quicksand, into which it is gradually being sucked down to oblivion.

The argument from "obedience" is specious. Catholic morality does not permit anyone to be "obedient" to evil. This is the same argument for which many Nazis were hung. These Nazis dared to justify their inhuman deeds by claiming that they were simply obeying orders. For further information, see the Library of Files for FAQ03.TXT: Should I Attend the New Mass?

The Origin of Lent

From: Laura

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What is the origin and meaning of the word Lent?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The word "Lent" that we use in English-speaking countries to mark the penitential season of forty days before Easter is from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning spring. However, the official term used by the Church is Quadragesima, from the Latin word for forty.

The question often arises why the number of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter is not exactly forty. One simple explanation is that if one does not count the Sundays, which are not days of fast, the number of days does equal forty.

Many of the early Fathers of the Church -- St. Jerome, Pope St. Leo the Great, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Isidore of Seville -- tell us that the season of Lent was instituted by the Apostles themselves from the very commencement of the Church. At the first they legislated a universal fast to serve to purify our souls of sin and to subdue our passions and inclination to sin.

The Apostles took the period of forty days from the penances in Sacred Scripture -- the Great Flood of forty days and forty nights, the wandering of the Jews in the desert for forty years to prepare for their entry into the Promised Land, the fast of our Lord for forty days and forty nights in the desert to give us an example of penance.

March 2, 2001 -- Ferial Day

Hoisted by Their Own Petard! -- A Response

From: Fred

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Your comments hit the mark as usual. What the Novus Ordo advocates are actually doing is making a new religion and calling it "Catholic." There is a Masonic document called the Alta Vendita, and one of the Masons said in it that this was their goal:

In a hundred years time..., bishop and priest will think they are marching behind the banner of the keys of Peter when in fact they will be following our flag.... The reforms will have to be brought about in the name of obedience.

Further, from Ecumenism, written by a Freemason in 1908:

The goal is no longer the destruction of the [Roman Catholic] Church, but rather to make use of it by infiltrating it.

Pope St. Pius X was on to these guys. He wrote, in a Letter of August 25, 1910, Notre charge apostolique:

A great movement of apostacy [is] being organized in every country for the establishment of a one world Church ... which will have neither dogmata nor hierarchy ... under the pretext of freedom and human dignity.

The whole thing reminds me of that old kit you could buy to dress up your VW as a Rolls-Royce. Don't be fooled by what you see on the outside!

Hoisted by Their Own Petard! -- Another Response

From: Ian

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I think you have it exactly right here with your Ash Wednesday comments. I've always told fellow traditional Catholics and other friends that the "right-wing liberals," which are the Novus Ordo "conservatives," are not as they purport themselves to be, orthodox and mainstream, but rather they are the exceptions to the rules of the New Order.

This is why it puzzles me so when the conservatives Novus Ordinarians say they want to "return to the rubrics of the Novus Ordo," as if the rubrics and spirit didn't encourage the abuses and the things that they fight against. The rubrics were expressly designed to encourage the "Sugar Cookie Mass" and the like, not to encourage orthodoxy.

The Novus Ordinarians want to reconcile a new Faith with a old tradition, which cannot happen. The only way to have orthodoxy and the true Faith is with the True Faith and True Mass. The Novus Ordo and Sacred Tradition are completely irreconcilable, just as irreconcilable as conservative and Novus Ordo (New Order). Any simpleton should be able to tell that "new" and "conservative" cannot go together.

As Our Lord said, "He who is not with me is against me," and the Novus Ordo certainly isn't working with Him at all, especially the "conservatives" who are always quick to point out problems, but never solve them.

But What of the SSPX Troops?

From: Julia

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I must admit that I am somewhat mystified at all of the second-guessing taking place regarding the talks between the Vatican and the SSPX. All of us here must realize that we are engaged in a war. We have chosen to remain faithful to our King and have joined the army defending Him and His Kingdom. As does any army, ours has its generals and command staff. Would anyone expect a general, or any officer, to discuss strategy or tactics with the troops? Would any general openly discuss with the troops negotiations that he might be conducting with other armies, the outcome of which might reveal new allies or confirm old or new foes? Would any general solicit the opinion of the troops because they happen to continue paying their just taxes to the King? I trust that the answers are obvious. No enlisted soldier should follow immoral orders. In this King's volunteer army we can even leave at our will. But, as long as we are part of the King's army, we should conduct ourselves as the seasoned, loyal troops that our generals and King can rely on.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The foregoing metaphor widely misses the mark. First of all, we have no King but Christ, surely not a few SSPX leaders posing as monarchs. Nor are the SSPX leaders representatives of anyone but themselves. Complaints are frequent from SSPXers that their leaders take their money and then fly off on their own personal agendas. It's one thing when a representative is duly selected; it's another when one person sets himself up to Lord it over others, a practice that was seriously condemned by Our Lord, as reported in St. Matthew's Gospel (20:25- 27):

But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave."

Let me give a metaphor of my own. Abp. Lefebvre is like Alexander the Great, who united the East under the banner of Hellenistic culture. When he died, his successors turned toward personal aggrandizement, and eventually the area fell completely to the strength of Rome. A cautionary parable for our own times?

Back to the Catacombs for Russian Catholics

From: NewsMax

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2001. Russia's Eastern Rite Catholics are being driven underground, thanks to a law that all but bans the Roman Catholic Church. According to Bishop Yulian Gbur of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lvov, Eastern Catholic parishes have gone underground as a result of the enforcement of a 1997 law that restricted the rights of what was termed "non-indigenous" faiths. That law stipulated that faiths other than the Russian Orthodox Church had to be re-registered with the government no later than Dec. 31, 2000. The government, however, refused to re-register any of the so-called non-indigenous faiths, including Eastern Catholicism. According to Catholic World News service, Russian Orthodox Church opposition to Roman Catholics has played a part in the plight of Russia's Catholics.

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