December 2001

December 31, 2001 - St. Sylvester, Pope & Confessor (Double)

December 30, 2001 - Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity (Semidouble)

December 29, 2001 - St. Thomas of Canterbury, Bishop & Martyr (Double)


From: David

The Baltimore Catechism states that the Church cannot err in matters of faith or morals, and the canonization of a Saint is a matter of faith and morals. Yet St. Thomas Aquinas says that the pope can err in canonizations. How can these positions be reconciled?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The Baltimore Catechism is a summary of basic teaching of laypeople, and like any such book, the principles are greatly simplified. Behind each answer there is a wealth of theology and specific exceptions that are too detailed for a lay audience in a vernacular rendition.

The point here is whether canonization is a matter of faith and morals. In part it is; in part it is not. As the Angelic Doctor astutely points out, it is in part based on fact, and the decision on fact may be erroneous. The Novus Ordo apparatus as admitted as much when it "decanonized" St. Philomena, St. Christopher, St. Valentine, and so many others that had been accepted by popes and saints since the early days of the Church.

Moreover, the way the New Order apparatus has rushed through canonizations, often for political purposes, and made highly imprudent, not to say scandalous, changes in the whole canonization process has done away with the historic safeguards of accuracy. At some point in the future, the post-conciliar canonizations will have to be reviewed again, when the bureaucratic organs of the Church have returned to full Catholic orthodoxy. Until then, we have thousands and thousands of undisputed saints to aid us by their intercession, including St. Philomena, St. Christopher, and St. Valentine.

December 28, 2001 - Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Double of the Second Class)

December 27, 2001 - St. John, Apostle & Evangelist (Double of the Second Class)

Praying in Latin

From: Nick

People I know choose to say grace before meals and the Rosary in Latin. These are ordinary laymen. I don't understand their rationale for this. Is it because Latin is the language of the Church?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Yes, but much more than that. It is an excellent practice to keep such prayers in Latin. The vulgar tongues are not well suited to formal prayers, whereas the Latin is ideal. Not only does one join himself with his brethren of 2000 years in the Faith, but also invigorates his own prayer life. I know many for whom the Rosary has become rote and meaningless in the vulgar tongue, but when done in Latin forces a deeper concentration and understanding of the prayers and mysteries.

December 26, 2001 - St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr (Double of the Second Class)

The Way We Are Going

From: William

A current issue of US News and World Report gave the following numbers. So much for the "Spirit" of Vatican II!

Increasing in believers

Wiccins (White Witchdraft)  1576%
Fundamentalists               24%
No religion                   20%+
Traditional Catholics         ~9%
Buddhists:                     9%

Decreasing in believers

Non-fundamental Protestants   14%
New Order Catholics            9%

Fr. Moderator Replies.

It is hard to get figures on traditional Catholicism, but my sense from reports around the country and the world is that it is increasing at about the same rate that New Order Catholicism is decreasing, and I have put that figure among the numbers above.

December 25, 2001 - Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Double of the First Class)

A Reflection on Christmas 2001

From: Fr. Moderator

As dusk sets upon the Eternal City, the chant of the first antiphon of First Vespers of the Nativity rises over the city of the Caesars and Popes: Rex pacificus magnificatus est, cuius vultum desiderat universa terra. And the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ begins. Some hours earlier the same chant rose from the domed Basilica of St. Catherine in Bethlehem, as it has for many centuries past.

This antiphon seems particularly appropriate this year, which has seen the beginning of a war, really a New Crusade, of light against darkness, of truth against error, of Christianity against Islamism. As the politicians try to convince us otherwise, the truth of this fact is becoming clearer than ever. Some may doubt that the faith of Christians is strong enough in our post-modern age to prevail, as it did in the time of the Roman martyrs, who prevailed against the great Roman empire, or in the time of Pope St. Pius V, when the Christian forces miraculously overcame the Infidel and preserved Europe for four hundred more years.

This antiphon contains within it the truth that we Catholics have been led to forget in recent decades -- that Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messias, is the one "whose countenance the whole earth desires," whether the world knows it or not. It is our Catholic vocation to bring this truth to the world, one soul at a time, by magnifying the Lord in our souls and magnifying Him the souls of others. Eleven million of us died under the Roman persecutions to bring the True Faith to Rome and finally to the world.

When we look at the sad state of the world today, and even of the Church, we may be tempted to lose hope. Yet today, of all days, we should be elevated to a greater sense of hope and gratitude. Gratitude to the God Who has given us so much -- Himself. What other religion ever possessed God in the way that we Catholics do -- His very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity -- resident before us in the tabernacle, given to us in the form of supersubstantial bread? The darkness of Islamism cannot overcome it. The error of the New Order cannot overcome it.

Catholics are celebrating once again, as they have for twenty centuries, the mystery of the Incarnation of God. Other Christians celebrate Christ's birth. Other religions worship one God, but the Catholic Church is the only one that claims to have her God really, substantially present with her on earth, living among us in fact, not merely in thought or memory or pious language. Our God came to visit us and stayed. He is Emmanuel, God With Us, flesh and blood, soul and divinity.

The thing that makes Catholicism unique among religions is that our God is physically present. Why did He choose to become man and remain among us? A very human explanation was given once by the British Catholic writer Anne Roche Muggeridge. God, she wrote, having given us free will, found Himself, like a human parent, unable to prevent His beloved children from making a dreadful mess of their lives.

No amount of admonishment or chastisement worked. He could not dissuade them from bring upon themselves the bitter consequences of original sin. He had to watch them suffer sickness, betrayal, death, all the ills that flesh is heir to.

As with those of you who are parents, the only thing He could think to do was to suffer along with His children. Therefore, "He came as man with man to dwell." He suffered all that we can suffer, only infinitely more so, since He was all-foreseeing.

When we suffer terribly, in particular when the wounds are inflicted by those we love, we cannot now say to Him reproachfully, "It's all very well for You to tell us to be patient and forgiving. You don't now what it is to suffer as I do."

Some of the people we love suffer a great deal. We pray and grieve and help as much as we can, but it amounts to very little. Yet on this most special day of the year, on which almighty God Himself came to us as a human child, we experience anew the comfort and peace that God With Us brings to us all in the midst of our troubles.

To end on a personal note, tonight as I sing the Matins and Midnight High Mass of Christmas, I will remember particularly the Communion of Saints -- the Church Militant here on earth, the Church Suffering in Purgatory, and the Church Triumpant in heaven. I will remember the many thousands of traditional Catholics who have been united here under the aegis of TRADITIO since 1994 to hold fast to the True Faith.

I am well aware that in many places around this world it will not be possible for you to attend traditional Christmas Matins or Midnight High Mass, whether because of the limitations of geography or the myopia of ecclesiastical bureaucrats. Know well that your prayers, works, and sufferings will be particularly offered at the altar of God and that you are not alone: Levate capita vestra: ecce appropinquat redemptio vestra.

December 24, 2001 - Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord (Fast & Total Abstinence)

Fast for Midnight Mass

From: Tom

What is the Traditional Eucharistic Fast for Midnight Mass, as it would seem to be the one exception to the traditional rule of fasting from the midnight before Mass.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The traditional Eucharistic fast for Midnight Mass is a complete fast from food and water of four hours. If one follows the mitigated fast of 1956, it is three hours from solid food, one hour from liquids (except water).

Make No Mistake -- It Is a Crusade

From: Warren

I continue to hear Catholic leaders including the pope and, most recently, today Cardinal M. on Tim Russert's Meet The Press, state that Muslims and Catholics both worship the same God. I am puzzled by this announcement and would appreciate clarification. Islam recognizes Christ to have been a prophet and therefore, not divine. It does not even mention the Trinity in the Koran. Father, in what sense do Muslims and Catholics worship the same God?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

There is only one God, of course, so if one worships God, it has to be the same God by definition. The issue is whether the understanding of God is correct, and whether is He is being properly worshipped. The Islmaic understanding of God is erroneous, heretical, and even blasphemous. Cardinal M. is simply pandering to "politically incorrect" false oecumenism and failing to stand up for the true faith. If anyone doesn't think that this is a crusade of Christianity (what is left of it) against Islamism, whether they use the word crusade or not, he is deluding himself.

December 23, 2001 - Fourth Sunday of Advent (Semidouble of the Second Class)

A Look at the Future: Christmas Abolished

From: Fr. Moderator: ... [The] Kensington [Maryland] council voted to purge Santa from its 30-year-old tradition of lighting a pine tree in front of town hall. Why did the Kensington Taliban expel St. Nick? Says the mayor: "Because two families felt that they would be uncomfortable with Santa Claus being a part of the event." Ebeneezer Scrooge felt the same way. Now this may not be in the Christmas spirit, but it needs to be said as writer Tom Piatak says it so well in Chronicles. The spirit that seeks to purge Santa, and has already purged Christ from Christmas, is not a spirit of tolerance, but a spirit of "hatred, resentment and envy."

And why should a tiny few who resent Christmas prevail in America over the great joyous majority who love it? Multiculturalists say Christmas celebrations cause "non-Christians to feel "left out." I am skeptical, but even if the multiculturalists are right," says Piatak, "how much should we worry about those who feel left out? ... We cannot forever shield non-Christians from the reality that they are a minority in America, and suppressing the observances of the majority seems a high price to pay to allow overly sensitive souls to live in comfortable delusion." Moreover, he adds, "Christmas in America was never marked by pogroms or expressions of hatred, but by countless acts of charity and kindness.

... The public celebration of Christmas was capable of being enjoyed by non-Christians as well as Christians, and almost everyone did enjoy at least some of it. I know of non-Christians who enjoy Christmas specials, Christmas movies, Christmas music." Under true tolerance, schoolchildren whose parents do not wish for them to take part in Christmas carols, pageants or plays would be exempt, but all non-Christians would be invited to join in. But, as multiculturalists know, the result of free choice would be the almost-universal celebration of Christmas in public. And this they cannot abide, for their agenda is to purge from public life the Christian faith that gave birth to Western civilization. For they believe Western civilization was a blight upon mankind. As that great multiculturalist Jesse Jackson put it, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!"

"Europe is the faith, the faith is Europe," asserted the Catholic writer Hillaire Belloc. Piatak echoes Belloc. Christmas "has been the principal holiday of the world's most creative civilization for over a millennium. It has inspired a profusion of art, architecture, literature and music; a love of Christmas can lead to a deeper love of our whole civilization. Giotto never painted a Kwanzaa scene, Bach did not write a Hannukah oratorio, and Dickens did not pen "A Ramadan Carol." And no one comparable to them did, either." Indeed, the birth of Christ has inspired more great paintings, music and sculpture than any event in history. "Ultimately," writes Piatak, "we should be free to celebrate Christmas publicly and joyously, because it is a great holiday, and because it is our holiday and one of the crowning glories of Western culture that gave birth to America and sustains us still."

But why, then, are we not free to do so? Why may we not celebrate, as we did for 200 years, the birth of our Savior, the day God became man to open up for us the gates of heaven and bring mankind the hope of eternal salvation? Answer: Because our Constitution has been hijacked by bigots in black robes, who perverted it to de-Christianize America. And we let them get away with it. Second, because Christians have become an intimidated lot, who will permit themselves to be pushed around and even permit their Savior to go uncelebrated for fear of being called insensitive. But if we do not proclaim the Son of God, will He proclaim us before the Father in heaven? If Jesus was truly God, and the first Christmas was the day he was born of the Virgin Mary, and He came into the world for our salvation, what does it say about us that we would permit a handful of unhappy people to deny us the right to celebrate His birth in our public squares? But, nevertheless, "God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing ye dismay," not even the ACLU on this coming Christmas Day.

December 22, 2001 - Ember Friday

The Masses of Christmas

From: James

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I know there are three Christmas Day Masses for traditional Catholics. Does Midnight Mass fulfill the obligation? Could you explain why different countries have different holydays of obligation. I notice that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, for example, is not an obligation day in many European countries.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

It is true that there are three Mass formularies -- one for night, one for dawn, and one for the day, so significant is the feast was so significant. Assisting at any of these Masses fulfils the holyday obligation, but the Midnight Mass is the one that is most traditionally associated with the feast.

There are ten holydays of obligation in the calendar of the Universal Church. From these, countries usually have elected to observe six and have received a dispensation from the others. The six differ from country to country. That is why, for example, Epiphany is a holyday of obligation in may European countries and not in the U.S. However, because the United States recognizes Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception as its patroness, that is one of the holydays of obligation in the U.S.

The Origins of Christmas

From: Fr. Moderator

The internal evidence in Scripture seems to indicate a date around spring, when the shepherds would be tending their flocks at night. The date of December 25 is a conventional date for the liturgical celebration of the event. No official reason has been handed down in ecclesiastical documents for the choice of this date. There are basically three theories on the origin of the date.

  1. Some early Church Fathers and writers claimed that December 25 was the actual date of Christ's birth. St. John Chrysostom held this opinion and used it to argue for the introduction of the date, used at Rome, into the Eastern Church. However, it was expressly stated at Rome that the actual date of the Savior's birth was unknown and that different traditions prevailed in different parts of the world.
  2. Since Scripture calls the Messias the "Sun of Justice" (Malachias 4:2), it was argued that His birth had to coincide with the beginning of a new solar cycle, that is, He had to be born at the time of the winter solstice. A confirmation of this opinion was sought in the Scriptures, by way of reckoning six months from the annunciation of St. John the Baptist (which was assumed to have happened on September 24) and thus arriving at March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation) as the date of the Incarnation. Nine months later, on December 25, would then be the birthday of the Lord.
  3. Also, according to a very old tradition, the calendar date of Christ's passion was taken to be March 25. This day was also taken to be the date of His Incarnation, i.e., the Annunciation. The oldest surviving Roman prayer-book labels the day "The Annunciation and Passion of our Lord." It seems, then, that the date of Christmas, December 25, was computed from the traditional date of the Annunciation, and was computed from the traditional date of the Annunciation and was not dependent upon the pagan festival of Sol Invictus (see below).

  4. The choice of December 25 was influenced by the fact that the Romans, from the time of the emperor Aurelian (275), had celebrated the feast of the sun god (Sol Invictus: the Unconquered Sun) on that day. December 25 was called the "Birthday of the Sun," and great pagan religious celebrations of the Mithras cult were held throughout the empire. What was more natural than that the Christians celebrate the birth of Him Who was the "Light of the World" and the true "Sun of Justice" on this very day? The popes seem to have chosen December 25 precisely for the purpose of inspiring the people to turn from the worship of a material sun to the adoration of Christ the Lord. Another common explanation is that Christmas was set during the Roman winter festival of the Saturnalia, in honor of the ancient god Saturn.

There is good evidence that Christmas was being celebrated by Christians before the conversion of Constantine and that the date of Christmas was based not on the date of the festival of Mithras, but on a very old Christian tradition about the date of Christ's Passion and the Annunciation.

The oldest surviving calendar of the Roman Church, dating from 354, organizes the whole church year around Christmas -- unusual if the feast had been newly introduced only forty years before. Furthermore, St. Augustine, writing at the beginning of the 5th century, mentions that the Donatists refused to celebrate Epiphany along with the other Christian Churches -- but not that they refused to celebrate Christmas.

Now, the Donatists thought that the rest of the Christian churches were entirely too liberal and lax, and that (after Constantine) the Church's friendly relations with the Emperor were a pact with the devil. It is extremely unlikely that they would have adopted a pagan feast (if Christmas is such) just because Constantine said so and the bishop of Rome was doing it. Hence, it is very probable that Christmas was being observed in North Africa before the Donatist schism in 303 and probably well back into the third century.

That festival, in fact, had been instituted by the emperor Aurelian only in 274. It is probable that, rather than Christmas having been instituted by the Christians in imitation of the pagan festival, Aurelian instituted his festival to counteract the appeal of Christianity, as sun-worship generally was an attempt to provide a pagan "monotheism" to compete with Christianity.

So, although it has sometimes been said that the Nativity is only a "Christianized pagan festival," the Christians of the early centuries were keenly aware of the difference between the two festivals -- one pagan and one Christian -- on the same day. The coincidence in the date, even if intended, does not make the two celebrations identical. Some newly converted Christians who thoughtlessly retained external symbols of the sun worship on Christmas day were "immediately and sternly reproved by their religious superiors, and those abuses were suppressed." Proof of this fact are the many examples of warnings in the writings of Tertullian (third century) and the Christian authors of the fourth and fifth centuries, especially the sermons of St. Augustine (430) and Pope Leo (461).

December 20, 2001 - Ferial Day / Vigil of St. Thomas, Apostle

Current State of the Church

From: Pat

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I have been reading statements that the current state of the Church is not so good; that attendance at Mass continues to be down ever since the Vatican II changes came into effect; that the Church is having a hard time attracting young men to the priesthood; etc. Other ("modernist"?) sites imply, if not say directly, that the Church is doing just great, that more people than ever are converting and going to Mass, and so on.

So my question is, basically, which is true? What sort of state is the Church in now, all these years after Vatican II? Is there really a large desire for the return of the Traditional Latin Mass, on the part of many Catholics? Or is the traditional movement just a last gasp of people over 40 who just don't want to come into the 21st century?

Some sites claim that the movement is gaining adherents and that new traditional Latin Masses are cropping up in parishes all over the world. Meanwhile, Catholics with whom I work are saying that, no, nobody wants to go back to Latin and having the priests face the altar, etc. I know that finding a traditional Latin Mass is very difficult, and the implication is that no one wants it, or they'd ask for it, and then there would be Traditional Latin Masses in virtually every city or parish.

Could you tell me, please, what is the truth in this regard? How much support does exist for the traditional Latin Mass? Is the movement gaining strength? Or are we pretty much stuck with the new Mass, and the innovations that accompanied it?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Basically, the conclusions stated in your first paragraph are what I have observed to be true. The bureaucracy of the Church has again fallen into the hands of those who would destroy Catholic doctrine and liturgy as it has been handed down for 2000 years. This group, called "Modernists" and condemned by Pope St. Pius X when they tried the same thing at the turn of the 19th/20th century, has come back with even greater virulence at Vatican II and afterward.

It is true that this "New Order," as they call it, engages in constant propaganda to modernize (by which they mean change) the Catholic Church from its catholic and apostolic form. This propaganda attempts to put over the false perception that Catholics love the "New Order" and that it is Catholic. The facts show otherwise.

By any objective measure of the health of the Church: number of vocations, number of priests, number of religious, understanding of the Faith, and particularly Mass attendance, the New Order has clearly failed after thirty years. To take Mass attendance, for example, in 1999 19% of Catholics attended Mass weekly; in 1958 that number was 75%. In 1981, about ten years after the "New Mass" was introduced, by the U.S. Bishops' own study, one-third of Catholics dropped out entirely because of the New Order (a statistic that the bishops keep very secret). A Gallup poll in 1992 showed that 70% of "Catholics" now hold the Protestant theology on the Holy Eucharist, showing that the New Order has suborned a basic ignorance about the Catholic Faith. For further information, see the Library of Files for POLLS: Polls & Statistics.

It is true that even against all the hostility of the dioceses toward the Traditional Latin Mass (which is virulent because it stands in the way of their changing the Church to fit their social politics), more and more Traditional Latin Mass sites are being established (those in parishes are only about 40% of the total -- a statistic that the dioceses don't want you to know). These sites report that the majority of attendance is not by the elderly (as the New Order propaganda would have people believe), but by the youth and middle-aged (which has become a real thorn in the side of the New Order).

Basically, many Catholics have turned their back on the corruption in the dioceses to stand with the Catholic Faith of two millennia. There is an Official Catholic Directory of Traditional Latin Masses, which has now been published for seven years to provide the information that the dioceses refuse to give out. Attendance at these Masses grows, as attendance at the "New Mass" declines.

A 1990 Gallup poll indicated that even with all the diocesan propaganda for the "New Mass," only 23% of Catholics preferred it exclusively (not that the issue is a matter of preference; it is one of doctrine). In short, the facts imply that if the Traditional Latin Mass were restored to the parishes of the world, a spiritual renaissance would occur, and Catholics would once again rediscover their Faith of two millennia, just as previously occurred in the Catholic Counter-Reformation, which arose from the depths of the Protestant Reformation.

In the Spirit of Chartres

From: Fr. Moderator

We don't often publicize events, for one reason because they are often focused upon a subgroup of the Traditional Movement, e.g., the indultarians, or the SSPXers. However, there is one event that we have been mentioning for some years now because it is welcoming of all, but has taken "hits" from various subgroups for this reason.

TRADITIO likes the spirit of these people, who fight for the Faith rather than getting involved in the "politics" of the movement. Their dedication produced the best statement of the Traditional Catholic Movement, a videotape entitled "What We Have Lost .. and the Road to Restoration: A Critical Look at the Changes in the Catholic Church." Because it spoke for the movement as a whole, certain subgroups, like the leadership of the SSPX, censored it. If you don't have a copy yet, I urge you to order one and see a balanced, but hard-hitting comparison between the true Mass, Sacraments, and Faith and the "New Order." For further information, see the Library of Files for FAQ5: What Traditional Books Do You Recommend?.

"Spirit of Chartres" Fifth Annual Phoenix Pilgrimage

Saturday, February 9, 2002, 9:00 A.M.
Sponsored by the "In the Spirit of Chartres" Committee, Inc.
P.O. Box 17984, Fountain Hills, AZ 85269, (480) 471-9009, www.the-pope.isocmail.html

On Saturday, February 9th (the Saturday before Lent begins), we will continue what we began in 1997 -- a Catholic procession in the heart of downtown Phoenix. We will walk the streets of Phoenix and climax our walk with a Traditional Latin Mass -- dedicating ourselves to the restoration of the traditional Catholic faith and the traditional Mass.

Walk with us, sing hymns, pray the Rosary, and meditate in silence along the streets of Phoenix as we give glory and honor to Christ the King, and ask reparation for sins committed against His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of His Blessed Mother, Mary. At the end of the pilgrimage, assist at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Mass of all AGes, the most beautiful thing this side of heaven. And pray with us for the restoration of Eucharistic and Marian devotions in all our Catholic Churches throughout the world.

December 21, 2001 - St. Thomas, Apostle (Double of the Second Class)

December 20, 2001 - Ferial Day, Vigil of St. Thomas, Apostle

December 19, 2001 - Ember Wednesday

Santa Claus Is Real

From: Ronald

Dear Fr. Moderator:

As we are not supposed to lie, how is it that we can engage in the fantasy of Santa Claus with our children?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

One cannot take the word lie in such a literal sense in this context. Another example would be for someone to say on the phone, "He is not at home." In the context, the words must be taken to mean, "He is not available to come to the telephone," not that he is not physically at home. Words must be taken in their context, which is part of their meaning.

Santa Claus is not a lie: he is very real as a kind of cultural allegory with children, just like the tooth fairy or George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. Catholics are not Philistines. The world of the figurative, the allegorical, the poetic is just as real in its own sense as the most literal view of things. Sometimes there is more truth in poetry than in prose. Which more accurately describes the Blessed Sacrament -- the prose of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica or his verse in the Adoro Te Devote?

Literalness is more a Protestant perspective. Protestants often read the Scriptures very literally. Catholics, following the tradition of the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church, read it on many levels -- not only literal, but metaphorical, moral, and allegorical.

December 18, 2001 - Ferial Day

December 17, 2001 - Ferial Day

The Great O Antiphons of Advent

From: Fr. Moderator

The Great O Antiphons of Advent are a series of seven antiphons chanted or recited before and after the Magnificat of Vespers of the Divine Office on the last seven days before the Vigil of Christmas (December 17-December 23). Their name comes from the interjection O with which they all begin. Nothing similar precedes any other feast.

These antiphons, embodying all that the prophets said about the Messias, originated in the sixth and seventh centuries. They follow the format of the Roman Collects: (a) an invocation to the coming Messias expressed by the opening phrase, (b) a brief augmentation of the invocation, (c) a petition introduced by veni [come] and followed by a plea for redemption.

Longing for the coming of the Messias, which is the characteristic mood of Advent, is seen most poetically in these "O" Antiphons. The melody to which they are chanted is marvelously expressive of the intense desire with which the patriarchs, the prophets, the Jewish people, and now all creation wait for God's presence in Jesus Christ.

The antiphons are all addressed to the Messias, using the Latin words: Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel. Mediaeval monks devised a two-word Latin mnemonic for these antiphons (in reverse order): ERO CRAS (I will be, tomorrow).

December 17
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudientiae. (O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly: come to teach us the way of prudence.)

December 18
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in bracchio extento. (O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm.)

December 19
O radix Iesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare. (O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek: come to deliver us, do not tarry.)

December 20
O clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis. (O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth: come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.)

December 21
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol iustitiae: veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis. (O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice: come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.)

December 22
O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti. (O King of the Gentiles, and desire thereof, Corner-stone that makest of two one: come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth.)

December 23
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster. (O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, and salvation thereof: come to save us, O Lord our God!)

December 16, 2001 - Third Sunday of Advent (Semidouble of the Second Class)

Ember Days of Advent

From: Fr. Moderator:

The Ember Days of Advent fall this year on Wednesday, December 19; Friday, December 21; and Saturday, December 22.

The ember days are days of fast and abstinence prescribed at the beginning of the seasons. Ember comes from the Latin word tempora, meaning seasons. These days were prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the weeks after the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13), of Ash Wednesday, of Pentecost, and of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14).

The Ember Days retain the ancient tradition from the very beginnings of the Church of Wednesday and Friday as days of penitential fasting. Tertullian and other early writers speak of the ordinary fasts of rule practiced by the first Christians on all Wednesdays and Fridays of the year outside of Paschal time. These weekly fasts were probably established in apostolic times in imitation of a similar Jewish custom -- recall the words of the Pharisee in the Gospel, "I fast twice in the week."

However, whereas the Jews fasted on the Monday and Thursday, the Christians, probably to mark their dissent from Jewish practices, chose for this purpose the Wednesday and the Friday. In the early document of the Apostolic Fathers known as the Didache, this distinction is insisted upon with special emphasis.

Their origins are far more ancient, however, as they are mentioned at Rome at least as early as Pope Callistus (217-222). Around 450 Pope St. Leo the Great wrote of the Ember Days in a series of sermons:

By voluntary mortifications the flesh dies to its concupiscences, and the spirit is renewed in virtue. But since fasting alone is not sufficient whereby to secure the soul's salvation, let us add to it works of mercy to the poor.

The purpose of introducing the Ember Days was to thank God for the gifts of nature and to teach us to make use of them in moderation. We also offer our fast and abstinence for the sanctification of the clergy, as traditionally ordinations are held on Ember Saturdays.

For those aged 21 to 59, Ember Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are traditional days of fast (one full meal, two smaller meals, liquids only between meals) and, for all aged 7 or over, partial abstinence (meat, meat gravy, or meat soup at the main meal only) on Ember Wednesday and Saturday, total abstinence on Ember Friday.

Many claim to pray for many and holy priests. They hope for the Traditional Latin Mass to be celebrated in their localities. However, they ought to ask themselves whether or not prayer without some preparation and sacrifice can have much efficacy. In accordance with ancient tradition, we ought to make the Ember Days meaningful by depriving ourselves of a little luxury and engaging in prayer for the Catholic priesthood, which is in great need of fasting and prayers.

December 15, 2001 - Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception (Major Double)

Compromising Ecclesiastical Politicians

From: Paul

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I read Monsignor Gamber's book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, and I don't agree with some of the passages. For example, this passage:

We are fortunate to still have priests who continue to be resourceful and pious, toiling for the Kingdom of God. They have accepted the new liturgical texts in the churches strictly out of a sense of obedience to the Holy Father, and as many others have done, they too have set up an altar facing the people, fearing that if they did not do so, their people would say that they were behind the times.

Isn't this the attitude that caused the widespread acceptance of the New Order worship service? Aren't these priests fooling themselves? Sooner or later, they will be infected with its non-Catholic spirit.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Without a lot of honesty and courage, one cannot bite the hand that feeds one. Gamber (now deceased), Ratzinger, Stickler, and the like all have their traditional-sounding outbursts, but when push comes to shove it is the God of Obedience to which they adhere, certainly for practical reasons. What would these people do if the Church didn't give them their positions and bread?

The history of our Faith, when it was attacked doctrinally, is normally to fight back hard, not to compromise. So many great Saints exemplify that principle: Augustine, Athanasius, Jerome, Basil, Martin, Bernard, Catherine -- the list goes on. Let's face it: Church of the Novus Ordo is the Church of the Wimp, perfectly appropriate for the wimpy second half of the 20th century, which produced none of the great Saints that we have seen in the past fighting tooth and nail for the Faith -- even against the pope when they had to.

Joseph Campbell

From: Rita

Dear Fr. Moderator:

They had a special program on PBS the other day about a man name Joseph Campbell. Are you familiar with him and what kind of person he is? He seemed interesting, but I wasn't sure whether he is a Catholic.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Joseph Campbell is an academic who has studied and written many works on world mythology. He is a former Catholic who seems to maintain a great respect for the Faith. On one program he talked about what a sublime experience it was to have been an altar boy in the traditional rite and see the Elevation. On another program he openly ridiculed the turned-around Novus Ordo as looking like "Julia Child conducting a cooking class"! He also commented how trivial the Novus Ordo made the Faith.

December 14, 2001 - 7th Day within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception (Semidouble)

And You Thought It Was Bad in the U.S.!

From: Fr. Moderator

EDINBURGH, December 4, 2001 (Catholic World News) - Church and family groups have condemned a Scottish Christmas attraction which replaces Santa Claus with Satan as "blasphemous" and "dangerous." The Christmas display at the Edinburgh Dungeon opens to the public on December 15 and features "elves impaled on spikes and robins roasting on an open fire while Santa gently boils in a witch's cauldron." A coffin pulled by skeletons will be erected in place of Santa's usual sleigh and reindeers. And actors playing Satan will ask children who enter the grotto if they have been bad and offer "nasty presents" instead of sweets.

Edinburgh Dungeon manager, Scott Williamson, 24, said the event was just harmless fun. "From a holier-than-thou perspective, I can see why the churches are upset," he said. "We have turned the nice idea of Santa's Grotto into something bad but we are not out to offend anyone. It is aimed at adults and children. We leave it to parents' discretion to allow young children." He added, "There is a slight occult idea behind it, but we are not trying to promote Devil worship."

However, Christian groups are calling for the display to be banned. Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said that Christmas should be about celebrating the birth of Christ, and Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, described the display as "bizarre and blasphemous." He told the BBC, "Glorifying and promoting the occult as a Christmas attraction is not only very tasteless but sad and very dangerous."

Glasgow University psychologist Dr. Geoff Scobie said there were "dangers" in letting children see it. "It is very dangerous to reward children for being bad. It could encourage them to be violent, aggressive, and intimidating to others," he said. "Operating this grotto runs completely contrary to the virtues that Christmas is about, such as sharing and goodwill. It extols the virtues of being bad."

Yes, Virginia, It Is a Crusade

From: Fr. Moderator
World Muslims.........................1,155,109,000
World Catholics.......................1,044,236,000
World Jews............................   14,313,000
Total World population................6,080,000,000
% of Muslims..........................           19.0
% of Catholics........................           17.2
% of Jews.............................            0.0

Islam annual growth rate (1994-95)....            6.40% (from U.N.) 
Christian growth rate (1994-95).......            1.46% (from U.N.) 

Growth of Islamism: 
North America (1989-1998)...................  25% 
Africa......................................   2.15% 
Asia........................................  12.57% 
Europe...................................... 142.35% 
Latin America...............................   4.73% 
Australia................................... 257.01% 

Among every four humans in the world, one of them is a Muslim. Muslims have increased by over 235% in the last 50 years up to nearly 1.6 billion. By comparison, Christians have increased by only 47%. Hinduism, 117% and Buddhism 63%. Islam is the second largest religious group in France, Great Britain and the U.S.

December 13, 2001 - St. Lucy, Virgin & Martyr (Double)

Novus Ordo, Bogus Ordo

From: Jeffrey

Dear Fr. Moderator:

You stated that the Novus Ordo worship service was "written in the 1960s by a Freemason and six Protestant ministers." What were their names, what Protestant denomination(s) did they represent, and is the Novus Ordo worship service currently in use actually their final product? I remember hearing that Pope Paul VI rejected their original effort, but that certain parts of it were indeed retained. What is the source of your information?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The source of my information is the Vatican Press Office and other European sources. The Press Office was only too happy to extol this "event." In 1970 a photograph was published showing Paul VI posing with the Protestant ministers that had worked with Anibale Bugnini, head of the Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia [Council to Carry out the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy], to draft the Novus Ordo worship service.

Not only were these six individuals heretics personally, but they were there acting in their official capacity as such. The six were Dr. George, Canon Jasper, Dr. Shepherd, Dr. Kunneth, Dr. Smith, and Brother Max Thurian, representing respectively the World Council of Churches, the Anglican and Lutheran communions, and the French Protestant Taize community.

After the Consilium had met and finished its work of suppressing the Traditional Latin Mass and replacing it with the New Order worship service, Dr. Smith, the Lutheran representative, publicly boasted, "We have finished the work that Martin Luther began."

Brother Thurian had been the subprior at Taize from its foundation in the late 1940s. In 1969 he expressed his satisfaction with the Novus Ordo Missae by stating that Protestants could now celebrate the "Lord's Supper" with the same prayers as Catholics. On May 12, 1988, the French daily Le Monde announced that Max Thurian had not only become a Catholic, but had been ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Cardinal Ursi of Naples, without being received into the Church, without the Profession of Faith, etc., a known scandal in Rome at the time.

On July 24, 1996, Fr. Thurian, now a member of the International Theological Commission, published in L'Osservatore Romano an article highly critical of the Novus Ordo, including the statement that "the great problem of contemporary liturgical life (apathy towards worship, boredom, lack of vitality and participation) stems from the fact that the celebration has sometimes lost its character as mystery, which fosters the spirit of adoration."

Anibale Bugnini, the architect of the Novus Ordo, was Secretary of the Consilium (1964-1970). Bugnini stated publicly that his aim in designing the "New Mass" was "to create a worship service that any Hindu, Buddhist, or Protestant could attend and feel perfectly at home with."

Fr. Malachi B. Martin worked inside the Vatican near Bugnini and publicly stated that Bugnini was definitely a Mason. Rome's Grand Mason wrote a public letter praising Bugnini's work. At a meeting on June 19, 1975, Cardinal Seper and eighteen other cardinals called for Bugnini's dismissal, which occurred on July 9, 1975, on the grounds that he had been responsible for the proliferation of messes sauvages [wild masses], that is, of unauthorized Eucharistic Prayers. By 1971, only one year after the Novus Ordo became mandatory, there were two hundred of these published and in use.

Because of the scandal Bugnini was banished from Rome by Paul VI in January 1976 to be pro-Nuncio in Iran, where in 1980 he betrayed American hostage secrets to the Iranian ayatollahs. Bugnini died at the age of 70 in 1982.

What Freemason Bugnini and the six Protestants wrote is the Novus Ordo that is still in force. Paul VI made no change in it, except a small change in the introduction, when Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani pointed to the heretical nature of the new definition of the Mass.

Fast & Abstinence

From: Tom

Dear Fr. Moderator:

With Advent underway and Christmas fast approaching, I would like to review the traditional precepts for fast and abstinence during these times -- for the Ember Days and for the Vigil of Christmas.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Wednesday, December 19; Friday, December 21; and Saturday, December 22, are the Ember Days of Advent this year in preparation for the great feast of the Nativity. All are days of fast. The 19th and 22nd are days of partial abstinence from fleshmeat; the 21st is a day of complete abstinence from fleshmeat.

The Vigil of Christmas, that is, December 24th, is a great vigil and is a day of fast and complete abstinence from fleshmeat in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity. An indult had been granted for the faithful to observe the vigil fast and abstinence on either December 23 or 24. However, since this year the 23rd falls on a Sunday, which cannot be a day of fast, the indult does not apply this year.

Details of fast and abstinence are included in the latest edition of the Official Catholic Directory of Traditional Latin Masses in the section "Traditional Fast and Abstinence." For further information, see the Library of Files for REGISTRY: Description of the National Registry of Traditional Latin Masses.

Vandals Damage Church of St. Joan of Arc

From: Francois (France)

Dear Fr. Moderator:

About ten days ago, burglars entered the church of Saint Remy in Domremy, France, where Saint Joan of Arc was baptized six centuries ago. They came through a beautiful stained-glass window and ruined it in the process, forced the tabernacle open, and stole the ciboria, which were inside. Even worse, they took away the consecrated hosts, most probably in order to organize black masses, a more and more frequent evil in those days, not only in my God-forlorn country.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

One can only hope that the hosts were not really Hosts, because of the New Order "consecration," so that sacrilege at least was avoided. The historical vandalism is inexcusable.

Cat's out of the Bag with Ratzinger

From: Ward

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I have heard that Card. Ratzinger has exposed his plans to do away with the "Indult" Missal, that is, the one of 1962, which the "indult" societies (like the Fraternity of St. Peter) use. Now that the Vatican has practically suppressed these as traditional societies, forcing them to compromise with the New Order, the Cardinal now plans to do away with the 1962 Missal itself by incorporating changes worthy of the Novus Ordo.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

That is correct. In a letter of October 29, 2001, following one of those sneaky "conferences on the Old Mass," as they are called, the Cardinal offered a proposal to suppress the 1962 Missal and to substitute an "updated" version to include Novus Ordo additions.

There is no question that Card. Ratzinger, far from being anything like a traditional Catholic, would sabotage the Traditional Latin Mass, even that of 1962, and impose false oecumenism upon the Church. This man is a crack ecclesiastical politican who talks out of both sides of his mouth. His earlier talk that seemed to support the Traditional Latin Mass was exposed by an Italian reporter as tantamount to a scheme to sell more of his autobiography.

For the traditional Roman Catholic, the only fully safe option now is to stay with Roman Missal before the "simplification" of 1956, which dared to touch even the most sacred rites of Holy Week. The 1962 Missal introduced further dubious rubrical changes. The same Bugnini that brought us the Novus Ordo worship service was -- surprise! -- on the liturgical commission that changed the Missal in 1956 and 1962.

Rite-Switching: A No-No

From: M.

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I'm just trying to make sure that I understand the Eastern rites as they are seen through the eyes of the Catholic Church. To abandon my Roman Catholic Faith for Eastern Catholicism, is it not true that I would then be in schism?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The Eastern rites are practiced in both the Eastern Orthodox (who are schismatic) and the Eastern Uniates (who are not). The following are the basic principles of assignment of rite.

December 12, 2001 - Within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception (Semidouble)

December 11, 2001 - St. Damasus, Pope & Confessor (Semidouble)

More False Oecumenism

From: Cecilia

Dear Fr. Moderator:

What do you think about the fasting requested by the Pope on December 14, which coincides with the end of the Islamic Ramadan? What do you think about the religion of Islam?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The pope's message appears to be a particularly abominable form of false oecumenism. He is apparently not asking that we pray for the Mohammedans, that is, for their conversion to the true Faith, but rather that we pray with them. To do the latter would be a grievous sin against the First Commandment. Pope Pius XI spoke of those held in the "darkness of Islamism." Islam is a false religion that has been extremely hostile to Christianity. At least three times it has tried to invade Europe to make it Islamic. Three times the Christian forces were able to beat it back.

Moreover, this is Advent. The pope's message appears to concern temporal matters rather than spiritual matters. I would suggest staying away from any taint of false oecumenism and rather focus on the spiritual message of preparing ourselves individually in a spiritual way for the coming of Our Redeemer, celebrated on Christmas. For this purpose, the Church has, since the earliest centuries, established the Ember Days coming up after the Third Sunday of Advent, December 19, 21, and 22. That is the traditional Catholic practice. For further information on Ember Days, see the article "Ember Days" in the Library of Files for FAQ11: How Do You Explain These Traditional Catholic Practices?

December 10, 2001 - Within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception (Semidouble)

What about the Advent Wreath?

From: Tom

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Is the Advent Wreath legitimate for Catholics, or is it a Protestant introduction?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The Advent wreath is a simple evergreen wreath hung with three violet candles and one rose candle to represent each Sunday of Advent, the rose candle representing the Third Sunday of Advent, called "Gaudete" Sunday from the first word of its Introit and being celebrated a little more joyously in rose vestments.

The question of Advent Candles always stirs some controversy at this time of year. Some see it as hailing from the Protestant tradition:

The Advent Wreath came from Germany during the time of Martin Luther. The practice of the wreath and lighting candles was spread by the German Mennonites, so this did come from Protestants. The Book of Blessings, part of the Novus Ordo Roman Ritual even has a ritual for the blessing of an Advent wreath.

On the other hand, even some Catholic areas of Germany seem to have had the practice:

Our family used the advent wreath in the mid-1950's. Each evening, prior to dinner, one to four candles was lit (depending on the week of Advent), and the Antiphon for that Sunday was recited (e.g., Rorate Caeli), followed by one Pater, Ave, and Gloria. It seemed a fitting prayer to remind us of the Advent season. This was done, of course, well before the Novus Ordo.

It may be inspired by the Swedish Crown of Lights worn by young Swedish girls on St. Lucia's Day, with the evergreen symbolizing the blessing of eternal life. In ancient Rome the people used to decorate wreaths as a sign of victory and celebrating, the strength of life overcoming the forces of winter. There is also controversy about when this practice came generally into churches in the United States. Some remember it from the 1950s; others remember it coming after the Novus Ordo.

Whatever the conclusion one reaches about the history of this practice, it would be fair to say that it has become markedly more prominent since the Novus Ordo. There is a specific blessing in the Novus Ordo Ritual, but not in the Traditional Rituale Romanum. It would also be fair to say that the practice was most prevalent in communities of German or Austrian extraction.

December 9, 2001 - Second Sunday of Advent (Semidouble of the Second Class)

December 8, 2001 - Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Double of the First Class)

What Is the Immaculate Conception?

From: John

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Could you explain what the Immaculate Conception is and what its significance is for our spiritual lives?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Fifteen years before the First Vatican Council, on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX defined in a solemn papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus, the infallible teaching of the Church that it is:

a doctrine revealed by God, and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful, that the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, was, by a unique grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race, preserved exempt from all stain of original sin

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, that Mary was preserved free from Original Sin, is to be carefully distinguished from the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, that Our Lord was conceived of a virgin, in accordance with the Scriptures.

Our Lady was declared under this title as the patroness of the United States of America by the First Baltimore Council, already eight years before the pope's formal definition in 1854. How much more should we expect of our country and ourselves, who have for our heavenly patron not an angel, but the queen of angels; not an apostle, but the queen of apostles; not a martyr, but the queen of martyrs?

Today our country needs Mary Immaculate as its protectress more than ever. We need her as our special mediatrix, to draw us closer to her divine Son. To a country, and to a world, that is sinking deeper into greed, self-interest, and immorality, our Immaculate Lady stands for the opposite -- generosity, charity, and chastity. More than ever, her holiness is needed as a shining light for an unholy world.

O Maria sine labe concepta, ora pro nobis qui ad te confugimus.
[O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.].

December 7, 2001 - St. Ambrose, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor (Double)

Vigil or St. Ambrose?

From: Fr. T.

Dear Fr. Moderator:

December 7 is the Feast of St. Ambrose, a Double. If we are going to fast and abstain on Friday, it seems strange we should celebrate the Mass of St. Ambrose. I have nothing against St. Ambrose, but could you clarify for me?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

I should hope not! St. Ambrose is one of the four Great Doctors of the West, the one who converted St. Augustine of Hippo and so many others. He was a marvelous orator in the classical style and is said to have composed, or helped to compose, the Church's great hymn of thanksgiving, the Te Deum, which is known as the Hymnus Ambrosianus after him. It is chanted or recited at Divine Office at the end of the Hour of Matins, when the rank of the feast and the season permit it. As I had been ordained on the Feast of St. Ambrose and sang my first High Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, these two days have ever since had a special meaning for me.

On December 7, one may say the Mass of the Vigil or of St. Ambrose. In the first case, the first oration is of the Vigil, the second of St. Ambrose, the third of the feria of Advent, in violet vestments. In the second case, the first oration is of St. Ambrose, the second of the feria of Advent, the third of the Vigil, in white vestments. The day is still the Vigil of the feast, however, and we therefore prepare ourselves with fasting and abstinence from fleshmeat, as we do for the most high-ranking feasts.

No Participation in Sacrilege

From: Paul

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I talked to my mother concerning the Novus Ordo worship service, trying to convince her that it is a mortal sin to attend such a mockery of the True Mass. She said that the Novus Ordo worship service that she attends is very devout (no rite of peace, no women lectors, etc.). In fact, the priest saying this "mass" also says the "indult" Mass on Sundays. What should I tell her?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

That sacrilege by its essence cannot be devout, and one cannot participate with evil, even if it appears to be "benign." After all, Satan was quite benign and friendly when he address Eve.

There may be no "rite of peace" or "lectoresses," but what about the fact that the Catholic and Apostolic rite of Mass has been abandoned in the Novus Ordo in favor of a manufactured "worship service" written in the 1960s by a Freemason and six Protestant ministers? A service that doesn't even use the words of Consecration that the Church has used from the Apostles, so it can hardly be called a "Mass," new or otherwise.

260 popes reject such a manufactured, Protestantized worship service, if in fact the service is even valid. One may as well worship the Golden Calf!

December 6, 2001 - St. Nicholas, Bishop & Confessor (Double)

December 5, 2001 - Ferial Day

December 4, 2001 - St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor (Double)

False Apparitions

From: Paul

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Can the devil in a false apparition promote the Rosary? I remember at Bayside that rosary vigils were held on major traditional feastdays of the Church. My mother argues that the devil is so stupid to make the people say the rosary; she also said it may not be the devil, but a delusional mind. I argued that the devil can tolerate a little good, just as long as they aren't in traditional Catholicism, but still in the New Order.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

One of the characteristics of the diabolical is perversion, that is, the turning of the use of a good thing to an evil. Adultery and homosexuality would be two moral examples of this principle, as the reproductive faculty, within its God-given bounds, is good, but is perverted to evil in the two cases mentioned.

One could see how the Rosary, which in itself is good, could be perverted to an evil. For example, if the Rosary, a private devotion, were promoted over the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that would be a perversion worthy of diabolical forces. And I have known people who have chosen to say the Rosary rather than to assist at Holy Mass, even though the true Mass was available to them. Such a choice is a perversion and would be an abomination to the Blessed Mother, though quite believable of Satan.

When to Double

From: Douglas

Dear Fr. Moderator:

In the traditional rubrics for the Divine Office, the antiphon is said only to the asterisk before the psalms and in full at end of psalms. Is this done also in the antiphons at the Magnificat at Vespers and the Benedictus at Lauds? Also in the Responsories and Short Responsory, is the Gloria Patri ended before the Sicut erat?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

The antiphons (including the antiphons at the Benedictus and Magnificat) are "doubled," that is, chanted or recited in full before the psalm or canticle only if the day is of the liturgical rank of double (duplex) or higher. Otherwise, it is only "announced," that is, chanted or recited up to the asterisk. At the Responsories, the Sicut Erat is never chanted or recited.

December 3, 2001 - St. Francis Xavier (Major Double)

The Darkness of Islamism

From: Paul

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Do you know the Latin original of these sentences in the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? The edition that I have has John XXIII's expurgation of these sentences from the Latin.

Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy toward the children of that race, once Thy chosen people. Of old they called down upon themselves the blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

What a wonderful prayer for the present times! As promulgated by Pope Pius XI with the Feast of Christ the King on December 11, 1925, the form is:

Rex esto eorum omnium, qui in tenebris idololatriae aut islamismi adhuc versantur, eosque in lumen regnumque tuum vindicare ne renuas. Respice denique misericordiae oculis illius gentis filios, quae tamdiu populus electus fuit: et Sanguis, qui olim super eos invocatus est, nunc in illos quoque redemptionis vitaeque lavacrum descendat.

December 2, 2001 - First Sunday of Advent (Semidouble of the First Class)

Celebrate Ephiphany!

From: Richard

Dear Fr. Moderator:

Would you agree that with every Christmas that passes by, the true religious meaning, the birth of Our Savior, is sidelined and ignored in an orgy of Christmas shopping, excessive drinking of alcohol (rather than moderate drinking), and gluttony and acquisitiveness on a massive scale? People seem to be becoming crazy, as they are slaves to the latest fashions peddled to them by advertizements on their televisions. They get into debt buying things they probably don't need and cannot afford.

If people spent the same time they spend on shopping for presents instead on praying with their families and learning more about the true meaning of Christmas, their spiritual rewards would be so much greater than the transient pleasure from a gift of a bottle of after-shave or a computer game. Is this commercialization of Christmas intended to have precisely this effect of distracting people away from the true Gift to us all, by those who detest Jesus Christ, namely the traditional enemies of the Catholic Church?

To show the relevance of this, there is a growing trend to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Happy Christmas". These trends do not emanate from nowhere, but unless one is vigilant, it is so easy to find oneself swept along in this sidelining and eventual elimination of Jesus Christ and the Holy Family from Christmas.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

All of what you say is true, of course. Lately, I have been recommending that Catholics, particularly those having children, consider moving their (hopefully modest!) gift exchange to Epiphany, where it historically should be, as Epiphany is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, commemorating the arrival of the Magi to Bethlehem. Epiphany has not been corrupted in the way the Christmas has, and I am told that this practice is already followed in Hispanic countries.

Remember, Christmas starts with Vespers of the Nativity, the evening of December 24; it does not end on December 25, but continues through January 6. The period before Vespers of December 24 is Advent and should be reserved as a penitential season, with its unique blend of anticipation of the Incarnation.

Flown the Coop!

From: Kate

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I was told that the Novus Ordo bishops hate the Holy Ghost. This does not make sense to me since all of Vatican II was allegedly the work of the "Holy Ghost." Is there some explanation?

Fr. Moderator Replies.

Pope John invoked the "Holy Ghost" at Vatican II, but that didn't mean He ever came! In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. For further information, For further information, see the Library of Files for FAQ8: What Is the Authority of Vatican II?

December 1, 2001 - Our Lady's Saturday

What Does "Pray" Mean?

From: Catherine

Dear Fr. Moderator:

I have always prayed novenas and special prayers that I come across, such as to St. Joseph. My mother, however, says that she never does these special prayers because she follows the will of God.

Fr. Moderator Replies.

How does your mother know that the "given and unchanged" will of God is not the result of prayer? Hers is a fatalistic, not a Catholic, position, if your description is correct.

We are told by Our Lord in Scripture over and over to pray unceasingly. However, prayer should not be always, or perhaps principally, prayer of request. The highest form of prayer is adoration of God, Our Creator and the Supreme Being, to whom adoration is due from us, His creatures. Such formal prayers as the Gloria in Excelsis and the Gloria Patri express this.

Secondly, we should pray in gratitude Almighty God for all that we have been given -- life, soul, a Redeemer, goodness, truth, and beauty, etc. Such formal prayers as the Agimus tibi gratias express this.

Thirdly, we should pray in reparation for all our sins and the sins of the world. Such formal prayers as the Miserere mei (Psalm 50) express this.

So, your mother needs to be sure that she is maintaining her prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, and reparation, which have nothing to do with petition.

Moreover, formal prayer is not the only kind of prayer, and perhaps not even the best kind of prayer. We must be careful not to fall into the habit of simply mouthing words without meaning them. That is why more and more Catholics are returning to the tradition of praying formal prayers in Latin, so that they are forced to consider the meaning of the prayers. When such prayers are prayed in the vulgar tongues, they may easily fall into the meaningless repetition, which is condemned in Scripture.

One should be sure to spend proper time in prayer of meditation, or even just sitting quietly and listening to what Our Lord speaks to the heart and soul. Oftentimes we do far too much talking and far too little listening.

So, as you see, prayer should be balanced. Your mother is right about one thing. You should not consider prayer as exclusively equivalent to petition, the "Gimme" type of prayer. One Pater Noster will be sufficient to request "our daily bread."

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