Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Member of the Grotto choir? Toddler sings, "Tantum Ergo"

We'd like to claim him, but he is not at Grotto.

Go ahead and say it: Aaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!

And some think Latin is too hhhaaaaaarrrddd.

Written by Thomas Aquinas, the last two verses of the Pange Lingua are all to familiar to Grotto-goers. But, in case you need a cheat sheet while the video is playing, here you go.

Tantum ergo

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

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The Pope's Letter to the Chinese

This has been another important piece of news in the Church today - a letter Pope Benedict has written to the Chinese.

I'm really glad Fr. Z has been focusing on this issue for the last few months because it has had me thinking often of Catholics and Christians in China, where ordinary Catholic things we take for granted can bring on much hardship for them. Those who don't die a physical martydrom, endure a living martyrdom where "dying to self" goes to a level most of us in the west cannot fathom. Our hearts and prayers go out our Chinese brothers and sisters, and all suffering Christians in the world.

Archbishop Chaput had this to say in an outstanding article published this May entitled, Religious Tolerance and the Common Good. Mid-article he points out:

When I visited China two years ago for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, two things struck me. The first was the incredible growth of the Christian faith in that country. And the second was the remarkably skillful and subtle persecution of religion carried out by the authorities. The world can be a very difficult place for people who truly seek the face of God. A country like North Korea has nearly wiped religious believers out of the population. It’s a gangster state without even a pretense of freedom and the rule of law. In Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, Christians have faced discrimination and persecution for centuries, and it hasn’t stopped. It’s happening right now, today, while I’m speaking.

We have it easy here. We can go to Mass when and if we feel like it - at any parish at all. Sometimes we are inclined to hide our Catholicism for secular reasons while people in other parts of the world are dying for their faith, or suffering in ways we don't fully realize.

Here is the letter (choose your language at the bottom)

Here are Fr. Z's initial thoughts, with more to come, I'm sure. Perhaps I'll just edit this post with further commentaries from Fr. Z and others that are relevant.

Some background may be found among the posts by Sandro Magister over at The Chiesa

Edit: The American Papist has his bases covered with several links and he is going to read it over the weekend. Hmmmmm ...... it must be a slow weekend for Tom!!! We'll look for his reaction, as well.

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Helpers Prayer Vigil Today.......I had planned on going, but....

Well, I was up early enough, dressed and ready to go to the prayer vigil held by Helpers of God's Precious Infants today being led by Bishop Danny Flores, but I have been struggling with my asthma of late. I thought for sure that with the cooler, dry air, it would ease up. I've been leaving my windows open trying to "toughen up" and to cut down on cost. I'm not going to give up on this because my asthma has gotten worse over the years, something I feel is related to spending too much time in climate controlled environments. But, I suppose it would be smarter to do this gradually.

My thoughts and heart went out today to the many with asthma - especially children - who cannot afford air-conditioning which keeps irritants out. I have to be on guard when my asthma begins to flare after having spent 4 months on medical with something called a paroxysmal cough (I've suspected for some time it was actually whooping cough but this can only be proven before the violent cough begins. Among other unmentionables, I did break a rib and was "down" - unable to work for 4 months). Regardless, it has me taking my asthma very seriously. And, it was that medical which re-awakened me to my Catholic faith. Hence, God has a purpose for everything - sometimes visible to us and sometimes not.

I want to use this opportunity to point out that you can help the Helpers even when you cannot be at a prayer vigil, or out on a regular basis. They are always looking for Prayer Warriors. I need to add this kind of material to the HGPI-Michigan blog.

I am going to a morning daily Mass today, and will offer my Rosary for the Helpers, as well. Please join me, even if only in prayer to save the lives of babies, and to save the mothers and families from the grief associated with abortion.

If someone has photos of today's event, please email me a few so I may post them on the Helper's site. I'm going to miss the Mass by Bishop Flores. He is moving speaker, and a very fine bishop who had Mass at the 2007 Call to Holiness conference in Wyanodotte.

Our Lady of Guadalupe - Pray for us!

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Teresa Tomeo Interview on Chant Workshop now Online

If you were unable to hear the interview of Wassim Sarweh - the Music Director at St. Josephat - by Teresa Tomeo of Catholic Connection, you can do so online for a limited time. I'm told it will be available for one week. The main topic was the Chant Workshop being held by Wassim today.

Go to the home page of St. Josaphat and scroll down.

I'll have to listen to it a little later and look forward to it. Teresa also interviews one of the altar servers.

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Patrick O'Hannigan on The Praise Bands

An outstanding blogpost by Patrick O'Hannigan which talks about "praise bands". He nails this one in his blog, The Paragraph Farmer. I'm going to jump to the last half, but do read the entire blogpost here. [Emphases are mine]

Christian Rock has other critics, too, many of them pious and churchgoing. Some insist that the genre is a tool of Satan, and I do not agree with that, either. Mine is a faith in a triune God, and both acoustic and electric chords can echo the three-in-one unity by which Christian baptism initiates people into the church, with (if you'll pardon the elasticity of the metaphor) Father, Son, and Spirit being the original "power trio." I've said that before.

The problem with Christian Rock is it can now be found not just on the radio, but also in the "worship space." That, I do not get. Even the best of the Christian Rock songs (like the Juno-award winning "A Better Way," which is expertly covered by the LIFETEEN band at my own parish) can only be called power ballads. They are not hymns. And that is precisely my quarrel with singing them during a liturgy, even -- perhaps especially-- a liturgy targeted at teenagers.

To put the dilemma a little differently: many Christian churches have traded in choirs for "praise bands," and where praise bands go, power ballads are sure to follow-- even if you you don't join the estimable Lawrence Henry in disparaging praise bands as "whitebread" and "trite."

Catholic parishes were mercifully late to this development by comparison with Reform-minded Christian denominations. Some Protestants first embraced what my kids call "Jesus music" as an outreach tool untainted by the vaguely papist deference to hierarchy implied in the lyrics to such classic hymns as "Holy God We Praise Thy Name." Music directors who'd grown up listening to the Manhattan Transfer ask a telephone operator to "Get Me Jesus on the Line" may not have even been conscious of their own theological assumptions. They simply wanted to "reach people where they're at," and figured that grand old hymns had to go, if for no other reason than that they harkened back to the days of what singer/songwriter John Prine called "stained glass in every window, [and] hearing aids in every pew." Unfortunately, many Catholic parishes that were late to embrace the praise band phenomenon have been making up for lost time in this area.

The chain of events went something like this: First, the folk revival of the Sixties brought "Kumbaya" out from the campfire circle and into church service repertoire, leaving "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" to fend for itself among the Boy Scouts. Andrew Lloyd Weber and some other savvy secularists took a look at that phenomenon and replied via Broadway and the movies through "Jesus Christ, Superstar" and "Godspell," both of which were hits. Nobody managed to turn Jesus into a hippie icon, but that wasn't necessary for positive and negative reasons. On the positive side, Brother Sun, Sister Moon had done a heartwarming job of turning Saints Francis and Claire into flower children. On the negative side, the early Seventies already had a dugout full of icons, with everyone from Che Guevara to Sun Myung Moon stepping up to the plate.

When arena rock arrived to push folk musicians back to Berkeley and Greenwich Village or coffee houses dialed into those mother ships, the praise band subculture saw an opening and sprinted for it with instruments in tow. Musicians who had previously played sweltering summer concerts under revival tents near Igloo-brand coolers filled with sweet tea decided that enclosed sanctuary space was a better place to gig, not least because it had air conditioning.

Most churches had by then lost narrow naves as architects experimented with forms borrowed from theater-in-the-round, flattening Gothic, Baroque, Neo-classical and even Shaker-inspired prairie architecture into Sydney Opera House knockoffs or boxy-looking warehouse megachurches. One thing led to another, and with churches built more wide than high, it was fairly easy to fit a drum kit and maybe a Hammond organ up front near the pulpit. Choirs that had led the congregation in singing from the back of various churches moved forward too, but by then the instrumentalists had claimed all the good spots.

The praise band people meant well. They always do. But they envied the perennial esteem in which a capella gospel groups were held, and they'd drive to rehearsals listening to their commercially successful peers sanctify airwaves in subtle ways with catchy tunes like Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" and The Youngbloods' "Get Together," not to mention the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Those tunes were great, but they were commercial, and the praise band people humming along in their cars would bless God for having giving them an opportunity to be less circumspect in their praise.

Most of the unknowns couldn't compete with the level of craftsmanship on FM radio, or were loath to persuade their pastors of the merits of things like the reverb pedal and fuzz bass, but that didn't keep them from trying to Rock for Jesus: it was easier than trying to master the old Gospel tunes still sung in predominantly black churches. If you questioned the praise band bias toward performance (as opposed to, say, reverence), the more scripturally literate band directors were quick to point out that in 2 Samuel, King David and all the Israelites danced before the Lord.

In Catholic circles, praise band relocation off the grass and onto the carpet was aided and abetted by liturgists hell-bent on democratizing and de-clericalizing everything about the Mass "in the spirit of Vatican II," and never mind what the actual architects of Vatican II (such as a Polish prelate named Karol Wojtyla who later became Pope John Paul II) had to say. Some of those liturgists worked hand-in-glove with politically correct composers --sons of Salieri, every one of them -- like the irksome Marty Haugen.

Now that praise bands are indoors, they have no intention of returning to the garages, basements, parking lots, and auditoriums from which they came.

As a result of the developments I've sketched above, and the fact that hymnody has fallen victim to the language wars, we now have a sorry situation indeed. But Anthony Esolen understands this phenomenon better than I do. Go read his comments at the link, and the classically literate followup to those comments. In brief, Esolen says that sentimentality, although valuable in its place, is neverthless destructive of genuine feeling. And there you have the problem put in yet another way: when power ballads intrude on the liturgy of heaven (which is what the Mass is), then what Esolen calls "the necessary hypocrisy of small talk" is wrongly raised to the status of a liturgical act.

Power ballad and praise band mediocrity is sometimes justified on the grounds that people need to be met "where they are" with lyrics to which they can relate. This attitude is arrogant on two counts, in that praise band directors have abrogated to themselves an outreach task that properly belongs to the Holy Spirit, while also assuming that straightforward hymnody of the kind exemplified in, for example, "We walk by faith / and not by sight / No gracious words we hear / Of Him who spoke as none e'er spoke / Yet we believe Him near" is somehow less intelligible than what you hear in pop music. Mr. Tom Petty, if you please: "All the vampires / Walking through the Valley / Move west down / Ventura Boulevard / And the bad boys / Are standing in the shadows / While the good girls / Are home with broken hearts. "

Show of hands as to how many people outside California know that Petty is singing about the San Fernando Valley? And how about those vampires, hmmm....? (Bueller? Anyone?)

Like C.S. Lewis wrote in a related context, we need meat, not just milk. Lewis wasn't writing specifically to Catholics at the time, but that he should have to remind Christians whose faith lives are ordered around the eucharist of this fact is testimony to our own failures and the failures of some of our pastors.

H/T to Fr. Z who has interjected his comments into this article, as well. See the comment section too

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Motu Proprio News at Lightening Speed

It's impossible for me to keep up on motu proprio news especially given that I was gone most of Friday, will be gone most of today, and all day Sunday. And, as reader Lynne pointed out, if you are truly interested in motu proprio news, you may want to be checking Fr. Z's site hourly, not daily - no joke. Father is a prolific writer, with great analysis skills and a wealth of knowledge, which is what makes him the best resource. We are grateful for his participation. The Sabine Farm is abuzzing.

I'll try to update that news post once daily with various things I come across, but most of it will come from Fr. Z because of the analysis he provides with it.

Also, next week I am on vacation - a working vacation to de-junk and organize my house. I have promised the Blessed Mother, after asking for her assistance, that I would not be on the computer all day. At most, I'll be posting once daily - by the grace of God.

A quick note to those who don't know - Assumption Grotto's 7:30am morning Mass is held at the outdoor grotto, weather permitting. If you are on vacation - get out of bed and come to Mass. You won't regret it. With our pastor on a month-long vacation for the month of July, I am assuming this will continue. There are fewer priests overall right now with the Priests of Opus Angelorum out doing retreats, so this may affect the Mass schedules.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Helpers of God's Precious Infants: Vigil this Saturday!

Please come to the Helpers of God's Precious Infants prayer vigil on Detroit's west side this Saturday. It begins at 7:30am with Mass at St. Scholastica in Detroit by Bishop Daniel Flores who will lead the vigil, as well.

See details at the HGPI-Michigan blog.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Motu Proprio News Post

Just a reminder that if you are interested in news about the motu proprio to be released any day now, please see this post which is updated daily (scroll and most recent dates will be on top) . It makes sense to me to keep these things together. Also, as far as commentary goes on the old Mass, I respectfully refer you to those who know far more than I. All I can do is give you the convenient link groupings to things I find in my internet travels on the subject.

Also, the last thing I want to do is to saturate everyone with post exclusively around the motu proprio, as historical as this is.

If you are really interested in the motu proprio, I suggest doing what I do, which is to visit Fr. Z's blog daily.

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Fr. Vincent Serpa, OP on Fear of Confession

by artist Tommy Canning
Visit Art of Divine Mercy Online to purchase stunning Catholic artwork by this great artist I met at the 2005 Call to Holiness Conference here in metro Detroit.

Over at, where he is a staff apologist, Fr. Vincent Serpa, OP has given a most thought-provoking and powerful response to someone who experiences tremendous fear of using the Sacrament of Confession.

Fr. Serpa words give us all something to meditate on the next time we find ourselves less than enthusiastic to go, or don't want to take time out of our day:

You say that you hate this sacrament. What you hate is the way you feel when you receive it. You need to acknowledge that your fear is subjective. There is nothing objectively dangerous in having one’s sins forgiven.

It seems that the stating of those sins and the hearing of oneself state them to another person and the anticipation of a response could be what scares you. It would seem that somewhere in your past some experience has made you fearful of such vulnerability. You really do need to find out what it is that is really going on here.As for approaching the sacrament, you need to make a list of your sins and simply read them to the priest. But even more importantly than this, you need to focus on what the Lord was willing to endure that your sins might be forgiven.

As the result of the loss of so much blood from the scourging at the pillar, he endured a pounding headache that accompanied Him to His death. Receiving the nails into the carpal tunnels of His hands brought pain to His whole upper body. When the cross was lifted and put in place, the nails in His hands held His body up. His up-stretched arms then began to squeeze His lings and He began to gasp. So He had to push down on His crucified feet to raise His body so that He could fill His lungs with air. This caused additional pain to His feet. Such strain required additional energy and His energy was steadily decreasing from the loss of blood. Nevertheless, He maintained this agonizing routine while hanging on the cross for three hours. As He became weaker, His struggle became greater. After three hours He came to the point where He just could not raise His body one more time. Finally in that eternal moment He gave up His spirit and died, giving us life. That moment was the reason He became man. It’s eternal because it transcends time and touches every human being who has ever lived or will ever live. It’s the moment that gives us a window into what it means to be loved with a love that is infinite.

The more we reflect on this eternal moment, the more we begin to realize what it means to be loved by Him. When the priest raises his hand as he absolves us, it is really the nail-scarred hand of Jesus who is absolving us. We must never forget this. This is how to cope with your fear. As St. John says, love banishes fear.

I will remember you at 2 a.m. during my hour before the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Source post at

If you have questions about the Catholic faith, you can always use Ask an Apologist at after registering.

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Media Watch on the Motu Proprio expected July 7th

With news of the motu proprio being in the hands of 30 bishops from around the world, and a general public release date of July 7th (just like a jackpot 7/7/7), we can now sit back and watch how the media treat this.

I can't refer you to a better analysis of news articles than Fr. Z. He enters the article, then enters his own comments and emphases throughout.

I'm going to be editing this post - perhaps up until the day the motu proprio is released, then start another. So, follow the links accordingly. I'll keep the most recent on top.

I'm going to include general motu proprio news here too so keep checking this post.

June 30, 2007

Fr. Z: Motu proprio to offer ALL sacraments (21 points summarize an Italian article in Il Giornale)

This next one I could take you directly to the blog of Cardinal Sean O'Malley, but Fr. Z's comments interwoven into that are well worth reading. You can pick up a link there to the Cardinal's post. Remember, he was there for that meeting, which he says included 25 bishops.

Fr. Z: Cardinal O'Malley blogs the motu proprio

Rorate Coeli: On Cardinal O'Malley's words

Rorate Caeli: Who was at the meeting and from which country?

Minnesota Star-Tribune: Go Vote on Whether you want the old Latin Mass derestricted.

Jun 29, 2007

Curt Jester at it again: A cookie cutter template for news media to use for building their articles on the motu proprio.

Fr. Z: ANSA with Cardinal Bertone on the MP (and a correction - it was around 15 bishops not 30).

Fr. Z: The Motu Proprio considered ad intra & ad extra

Holy See: Communique in Italian stating the motu proprio will be released in a few days. Note that July 7th is not confirmed in this communique.

June 28, 2007

Fr. Z: NY Times on the motu proprio

June 27, 2007

NLM: Rough translation of motu proprio article in La Croix

June 26, 2007

Fr. Z: The Tablet - another dreadful editorial

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Motu Proprio: Now in the hands of 30 bishops - Release date July 7th

Incredible history in the Church is about to be made as the Classical Roman Rite is given back to those who want it. The day is July 7th, 2007 - or, as Fr. Z points out - 07/07/07.

Here is what Fr. Z writes:

On Wednesday afternoon the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Card. Bertone gave the Motu Proprio to 30 bishops from around the world on Wednesday afternoon in the Apostolic Palace. The bishops were explicitly chosen and invited for this. (I am guessing that they were heads of Bishops Conferences.) Pope Benedict XVI later came to the meeting. The document is three pages long, though what the format is in not revealed. The Pope’s accompanying letter is four pages.

It is clear from the way this was done that the Holy Father wanted to make sure that bishops got this document in this way, rather than having to read about it in the paper. I assume that what will happen now is that these bishops, if they are heads of conferences, will return home and distribute the document to the bishop members of the conference.

[UPDATE: They are not only heads of conferences: H.E. Archbp. Raymond Burke of St. Louis and H.E. Sean Card. O’Malley of Boston was there, whether because of this meeting or a coincidental meeting is not clear.]

The general publication is July 7th, 2007

Source post

CWNews reports on the July 7th release

CNA quotes German newspaper on release date

Fr. Z talks about longer article in French Newspaper La Croix

The French paper Le Croix confirms with a longer article what and Die Welt reported.

Highlights of new items:

1) It says that the bishops were representatives of bishops conferences.

2) After the plenary meeting ofthe Pont. Comm. Ecclesia Dei security on the MP was tightened.

3) Not only some French bishops but also some American bishops had complained to the Holy See about this.

4) Bishops were concerned about losing some of their authority to oversee the liturgy.

5) The MP should have some way to protect the bishop’s rights in disputes.The rest rehashes some old issues, such as whether some Jews may be upset by "anti-semitic" prayers, etc. Old stories.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has also provided 5 rules for all to ponder when the motu proprio is fully released:

1) Rejoice because our liturgical life has been enriched, not because "we win". Everyone wins when the Church’s life is enriched. This is not a "zero sum game".

2) Do not strut. Let us be gracious to those who have in the past not been gracious in regard to our "legitimate aspirations".

3) Show genuine Christian joy. If you want to attract people to what gives you so much consolation and happiness, be inviting and be joyful. Avoid the sourness some of the more traditional stamp have sadly worn for so long.

4) Be engaged in the whole life of your parishes, especially in works of mercy organized by the same. If you want the whole Church to benefit from the use of the older liturgy, then you who are shaped by the older form of Mass should be of benefit to the whole Church in concrete terms.

5) If the document doesn’t say everything we might hope for, don’t bitch about it like a whiner. Speak less of our rights and what we deserve, or what it ought to have been, as if we were our own little popes, and more about our gratitude, gratitude, gratitude for what God gives us.
See original "5 rules" post here, with over 100 comments to read through.

Now we wait to see the major news networks and magazines paint "the earth is falling" version. No one will be forced to assist at a Classical Roman Rite Mass. However, if this motu proprio is all that we can hope for, the burden will be on the bishops to explain to the Vatican why they want to deny it's celebration to a particular priest. Currently, priests must request permission of his bishop and be granted the indult to celebrate the Tridentine. Pope John Paul II asked that bishops be generous in granting the indult and permission has been far from generous.

EDIT: H/T to Thomas the American Papist for including a link to the release of an article by Dr. Robert Moynihan entitled, Benedict and the Mass, to be published in the June/July issue of Inside the Vatican.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Veritatis Splendor and Medjugorje

I've been pondering something for some time now with regards toMedjugorje and Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth) - the encyclical written by Pope John Paul II to clarify the Church's position on certain matters in moral theology (and in this case - philosophy).

Beginning in paragraph 75, the late Pope talks about consequentialism and proportionalism. He defines towards the end of that first paragraph this way:

The former claims to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice. The latter, by weighing the various values and goods being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the "greater good" or "lesser evil" actually possible in a particular situation.

Veritatis Splendor was aimed at theologians. One must have a background in basic philosophy and theology to fully grasp this encyclical. For the rest of us, the late, saintly Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, explains Veritatis Splendor in his simple Q & A fashion in the book, Catechism on The Splendor of Truth.

141. What is proportionalism?
This is the erroneous moral theory which claims that the value of a human act depends on the proportion of good and evil effects which this action produces. In the last analysis this is moral subjectivism. Each person then decides for himself whether something is good or bad, depending on the balance of good or evil effects which his action is expected to produce (VS75)

142. What is consequentialism?
This is the erroneous moral theory which claims that the goodness or badness of our actions basically depends on the results or consequences forseen as following on our actions. As with proportionalism, consequentialism is essentially a subjective morality. Each person, on his or her own, evaluates what they foresee as the result of their conduct. Then, guided by this norm, they are supposed to pass judgmnet on their moral behavior.

Behind both theories proportionalism and consequentialism, are a proud refusal to accept God's word, as taught by the Church, on the morality of our human behavior (VS75).

Now that we have some idea of what these are, and why the Catholic Church sees them as erroneous, I want to raise a question. This is not addressed to those who truly believe interiorly that the Blessed Mother is appearing to alleged seers in Medjugorje. Rather, the question is addressed to those who personally disbelieve in authenticity of the apparitions, but remain interiorly supportive of it all. Or, for those who personally know such people.

There is a common argument among this latter group of people who say, "I don't personally believe, but.....there are vocations, conversions, large volumes of people seeking confession and going to holy Mass.....good things are happening, let them be."

Lets think about this for a minute......

First, there are indeed vocations, people converting to God and to Catholicism, people building virtue and leading holy lives. Heavy sacramental life alone can do this. This is explored more thoroughly in a document entitled, Medjugorje and the Flow of Grace. We also know from the 1978 document on discernment of apparitions, which came out prior to Medjguorje, that discernment isn't based on good fruits alone, nor is it the first thing to be judged.

If I disbelieve in authenticity of apparitions at Medjugorje, but support it - even if only interiorly - on the basis of the good that it yields, am I not giving in to consequentialism or proportionalism?

Furthermore, if there is even one person - from an alleged seer to associate - using any kind of deception to keep it all going (for power, for money, or even because of "good fruits"), is this not sinful activity regardless? And, are those people enabled by silence or support, in that sinful activity? What about their salvation? Is even one soul worth losing (if they are involved in a willful act of deceit) to keep a good thing going?

In essence, is supporting such a thing, when an individual believes it to be false, based on thinking which is morally flawed?

This is not a question of whether Medjugorje is authentic or not. I will gladly post any comments pertaining to the question but will not post those comments which head into the typical cyclic arguments about Medjugorje.

PLEASE READ this post on commenting BEFORE SUBMITTING any comments.

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I continue to get duplicate comments from people unaware of how Comment Moderation works. After you hit the "send" button, be sure to look at the top to see if it says, "comment awaiting moderation" or something to that effect.

I have received some biteback on this from people who think I am involved in a conspiracy to filter out any comment different from my own. Let me explain....

Comment moderation remains on to filter out comments leading people to things I have had to delete. For example, someone recently tried promoting their "alien" website in one of my comboxes. I have deleted highly lewd advertisements, detraction (revealing the moral fault of another to those who do not know), and links to websites which I prefer not to promote via my blog.

I typically like links which are green in the site reviews of Catholic Culture. I have to use my conscience in making these determinations for those not rated. If you don't like comment moderation, which many Catholic blogs now use, you are free to create your own blog where you can post whatever you want.

I personally like Fr. Tim Finigan's explanation of this subject. For those who would like to understand it better, he'll be glad to clear it up for you.

Fr. Tim Finigan on Comments on Blogs in General

Fr. Tim Finigan on Posting Comments (good comprehensive list of why comments are accepted or rejected)

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St. Josaphat Music Director to be interviewed on WDEO - Wed, June 27

More sacred music news.....

As I mentioned not long ago, St. Josaphat - a local Indult parish where the Classical Roman Rite is celebrated, is having a chant workshop (scroll down).

Music Director, Wassim Sarweh - whose chant I enjoyed on Ascension Thursday when I visited, will be interviewed by Teresa Tomeo during the local segmnet of Catholic Connection, which airs from 8:00am - 9:00am EST tomorrow morning - Wednesday, June 27, 2007. Teresa then goes on to do a national show from 9:00-10:00 via EWTN radio.

Wassim is to be interviewed around 8:30 about this chant workshop.

The station is a little weak in terms of signal. But, you can listen to this interview on internet radio from anywhere in the world. Just click the link below and then click "listen live" at the top center of the page.

Teresa has a blog entitled, Noise and it focuses on media related problems. Click through Teresa's blog and bookmark it.

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Helpers of God's Precious Infants: Vigil this Saturday!

I have several new posts up bewteen last night and this morning. Be sure to scroll!

I will be posting details of the prayer vigil that Helpers of God's Precious Infants will be having on the west side this Saturday. Please keep that morning open for the good of the unborn who will benefit from your prayers that day.

This time, Detroit's new auxiliary bishop, Daniel Flores, will be leading the prayer vigil

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A Priest speaks on.....the Problem of Silly Priests

In his weekly commentary, Fr. Paul Ward discusses the "Problem of Silly Priests"

If I hadn't known priests on both sides of the spectrum he describes, I would probably think he is off base. As you read this, remember that we should be praying for priests. The Angel of Darkness has the mark of the priesthood set right in his cross hairs. One very holy priest, who leads a holy life, can influence many to holiness just by his example. Likewise, worldly priest will enable others to worldliness.

The way Fr. Paul's website is set up, the work discussed on his front page today will eventually move to an archive. That will change the URL of the document. Therefore, I will post it in full here and provide links to his homepage where you can browse his archives, as well.

The Problem of Silly Priests

by Fr. Paul Ward

In ancient Rome, there was an esteem for a quality of character which the Romans called, in their language, gravitas. The word literally meant “weight,” which any inert thing could have. Yet it was applied to a person’s character, if he was serious, reflexive, dignified or earnest. Such persons were not given to levity, and were impressive and majestic in their speech or in their actions. Cicero, Suetonius, Tacitus, and even the never-serious Ovid all use this word in this way.

It is significant that in English today we don’t have an exactly corresponding word. We are a superficial society, a flippant civilization, and we have enslaved ourselves to entertainment. We call knowledge of rock stars and television programs “culture.” We spend gobs of money and time on being spectators of sports. And anyone who thinks about things is, well, a bit of a rare bird.

This has all affected the model of the priesthood of the 21st century. The quality to end all qualities, sought for in a seminarian and deserving highest praise in a priest, is neither faith nor hope nor charity nor any virtue nor science nor good example. It is the sense of humor. A sense of humor is a good quality, but it varies in individuals according to one’s temperament and background. It does not make one holy or wise, for endless numbers of comedians in our day perpetrate many verbal sins of impurity and slander to make crowds bend over with laughter. Yet used well it can alleviate some of the burden of life, personal or social difficulties, and even put things in perspective.

Gravitas, which for this article I will translate as seriousness, is therefore regularly perceived as a vice. It can be an impediment for a seminarian who wants to be a priest; no faculty member of a seminary would ever admit that, but sadly true it is. Flippant priests slander and hate serious priests, because the flippant ones are shamed by the example of the serious priests’ lives. Flippant priests work every day to be liked, even to the point of sacrificing their principles. They find excuses to omit prayer, to omit the daily Mass, to omit the rosary. They are imprudent in their dealings with women. They neither know nor understand nor observe the norms of the Church in anything, much less the liturgy. Silliness is a shield protecting them from those conversations about the things that matter; after all, they see it better to be silly than “divisive.” They cannot live in silence, and surround themselves with televisions, worldly music, digital toys, alcohol and leisure. In a word, they are superficial.

It is easier to be superficial than to be serious. A serious priest examines his life, disciplines his time, rises early, studies regularly, prays much, offers spiritual direction, hears confessions, obeys the liturgy, recites the breviary, works with method, enjoys silence, fasts, does penance, and engages in spiritual conversation. A superficial priest does not know himself, is a slave to countless vices and passions, sleeps too much, hates prayer, disobeys liturgical norms, never studies, omits his breviary and Mass, surrounds himself with noise and music and television, devotes his time to pleasing himself, and converses about worldly and often scandalous things. But yet Bishops and seminary formators label the serious seminarian “rigid,” following the ever pathetic psychological philosophy of Carl Rogers, and dismiss him from the ranks; and defend and promote the superficial man. (It’s easier for a vicious man to control a superficial man, after all.)

Both in English and in Latin, and we should also say in contemporary America and ancient Rome, gravitas had a pejorative use. In today’s America, someone who is “serious,” as a defect, takes the wrong things too seriously. He has his hierarchy of values either in chaos or completely upside down. To call someone serious is to say he cannot enjoy a good laugh. But in yesterday’s Rome, Gravitas was applied to persons negatively if they were formidable, oppressive or obnoxious. Someone who was flippant, even whose sense of humor got him laughing about things that should be taken seriously, would be called grave. Yes, an excessive sense of humor was something to be ashamed of in ancient Rome. The Romans loved humor and celebrations of all sorts, as literature and history testify. A serious, a gravis Roman enjoyed such things. He just wasn’t obnoxious with his superficiality. Most priests I have ever met, and plenty a bishop, I have found to be obnoxious for their incapacity to converse seriously or spiritually.

A virtuous person has depth. Gravitas is a combination of several virtues. Prudence keeps the serious person reflexive; justice refrains them from disordered speech or action with others; fortitude serves as a solid foundation against all floundering; and temperance moderates the things the serious man enjoys.

If a priest wants to be virtuous, therefore, he has to put an end to the “good mornings” at Mass, the homilies about his latest golf game, the five televisions on all at the same time in his rectory, the layman’s clothing, the endless parties, the stockpiles of alcohol, the lewd language and the endless hugging. If a priest wants to be virtuous, let him rise early, keep his rectory in silence from sunrise to sunset, both pray and study an hour every day, pray the office and Mass daily, converse with the faithful about the virtues and the saints or about the important questions of modern times and society. Let his Mass be austere and divine, and let his advice at the confessions he hears be deep and efficacious. Let him not spend so much energy and concern with pleasing the crowd, and being a slave to certain minorities’ loud opinions.

With greater depth, the Church will be more interested, in these very troubled times for the world and for the Church, in teaching the Ten Commandments given to Moses, rather than the Ten Commandments about driving a car.

Homepage of Fr. Paul Ward

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Sacred Music News....

I have so little time, the only thing I can do is to point you to some really good posts over at the New Liturgical Movement on the recent Colloquium in Washington DC. There are some audios out of this first post, as well:

Jeffrey Tucker: Who says 140 voices can't sing polyphony and chant?

Photos from the Colloquium

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Motu Proprio - It's at the Vatican Printer!

No sooner had Fr. Z mentioned he had a tip from a "well-placed source" - that the motu proprio is at the Vatican printer - and voila! Similar news shows up in the Italian news magazine, Il Tempo.

The Holy Father goes on vacation in early July and perhaps he is wanting it released before he leaves.

I think I heard a box of bubbly being wheeled into a few rectories around the world as anticipation grows. The smell of unlit cigars is also beginning to permeate the air. In fact, if you see a white puff of smoke going up, it won't be the election of a new pope, but a bunch of stogies being lit with the liberation of the Mass as it was experienced by many of the saints we know and love.

Whether you are interested or not in the Classical Roman Rite, casually referred to as the old Mass, or the Tridentine, this is a very historical moment. We also need to keep in mind that in some corners of the world, including here in the US, people of all ages have been yearning for a Mass that is solemn and reverent, not casual and folksy. This will provide an alternative.


Fr. Zuhlsdorf emphases prayer...

Fr. Z: Dumb article on old Mass in Boston Ledger...

Fr. Z: L’Occidentale: Why Pope Benedict would want to derestrict the “Tridentine” Mass


Fr. Dwight Longenecker, recently ordained after converting, raises some honest questions about Latin in the Liturgy - questions many people may have. Shawn Tribe at the New Liturgical Movement responds with an excellent dialogue and in a tone respectful of those who are not quite comfortable with Latin yet.

I agree with Shawn as he explains how he will approach the questions and what kind of attitude we should have toward's such questions. I'll start you out here and then you can follow the link below to read the full article.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a few Latin Questions. We should recall that Fr. Longenecker has come from a tradition of beautiful English language liturgical prose. That must be remembered for context. He had the following questions about Latin in liturgical worship, which he obviously has some struggles with, and really about certain traditional liturgical ethos generally. I will respond to them in turn in bold.

He notes that he asks these questions in earnest, and I think everyone should take them in that light. We must keep in mind that such answers, particularly in our current liturgical atmosphere are most certainly not evident. In fact, it requires a considerable amount of 'counter-ecclesial-cultural' thought and research. I say "ecclesial" but of course, I do not mean officially, but rather practically on the parish to parish level.

Unfortunately, because of people's frustrations in the face of the 'liturgical establishment' they can be tempted to react flippantly or emotionally to such questions, as though all who question such things do so ideologically. What must be remembered is that such is not the case. Many have been formed to think in such a way, and they have known nothing else. Others come from different traditions and so they look for explanations so they might at least understand

...Continue reading Latin in the Liturgy at The New Liturgical Movement...

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Friday, June 22, 2007

"Schools in" in Omaha Where Archbishop Takes the Moral High Ground

Very interesting news story floating around. It starts out with an article you may want to read, in of all places - a Catholic online magazine, US Catholic. Before I lead you into the beginning of their article, here is a brief bio from the bottom of the webpage.

Michael J. Lawler and Gail S. Risch are researchers at the Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University, Nebraska, where they also teach theology. Lawler is director of the center. Both have written extensively about marriage and family.

Now, the article...

Are cohabiting Catholics always “living in sin”? Two respected family ministry researchers argue “no” and suggest the recovery of an ancient ritual for those moving toward marriage.

by Michael G. Lawler and Gail S. Risch

Consider two unmarried couples who are living together. The first couple, 25-year-old Tom and 23-year-old Sharon, have no plans to marry. He lived with two previous girlfriends, while she lived with her ex-husband before they married, which was just before their first child was born. The second couple, 28-year-old Frank and 24-year-old Molly, are engaged to be married. They are living together for six months while engaged. [...continue reading at US Catholic]

OK, now comes along comes Archbishop Elden Curtiss directing the young couple to the woodshed where he does not spare the rod......

June 5, 2007

Letters to the Editor

205 W. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60606

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the article in your June edition entitled "A Betrothal Proposal" by Michael G. Lawler and Gail S. Risch.

The teaching of the Catholic Church about fornication is clear and unambiguous: it is always objectively a serious sin (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #1755, #1852, #2353). Couples who live together without marriage do in fact live in sin objectively.

Because the position of the authors is contrary to Church teaching about the intrinsic evil of fornication, I have disassociated the Omaha Archdiocese from the Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University.

Neither Lawler nor Risch are reliable teachers of Catholic moral theology, and certainly are not spokespeople for the Church regarding human sexuality and sacramental marriage.

I remain sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Elden Francis Curtiss

Archbishop of Omaha

Ouch! I wonder if they can sit yet.

I don't know about anyone else, but it is so refreshing to see a bishop speaking out where catechesis is needed. Let me clarify - it is good to see a bishop stand up where morality is concerned. We need more of this. Thank God Bishop Curtiss is more concerned with the souls of the young couple and their readers than with their self-esteem.

Hmmmmm........I wonder how many souls have landed in hell over unrepented mortal sin with their self-esteem intact?

Archbishop Chaput in Denver had something to say about it as well (June 20th column):

...I believe in the intelligence and good will of the authors. I also believe that their argument is bafflingly naïve. If the Church, in her reflection on the Gospel, has always taught that sex outside marriage is morally wrong, then for the Church to now bless “nuptial cohabiters” amounts to colluding in sin. Ritualizing a sinful behavior, or calling it a nicer name, does not change its substance. The very last thing we need in a society already awash in confused sexuality is a strategy for accommodating it.

The greatest irony of the U.S. Catholic article comes in a comment by the authors that many young adults “cite confusion about Church teaching because Church leaders send mixed messages about sex, contraception, and divorce/annulment.” I very much agree. And one of the sources of that confusion might be Catholic publications, theologians and researchers who help feed it.

We need more support for marriage in society and the Church, not alternative arrangements. Cohabiting couples deserve the understanding and patience of the Catholic community, but above all they need to hear the Christian truth, persuasively offered, about the nature of marriage, the meaning of their sexuality and the importance of the family. We waste words and time when we focus on anything else

H/T to Curt Jester and Rich Leonardi

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Ordinary priest blogs live at the Colloquim

Fr. Martin Fox is at the Church Music Association of America colloquium and gives us his perspective. For those of you who don't know Father, he is an urban pastor with several parishes. I have been reading his posts for some time now and it is quite interesting to watch a young priest - an ordinary young priest - spread his wings and explore the more traditional side of the Liturgy.

Father seems to be enjoying himself, but rightly expresses that he doesn't expect to go back to his parish and begin celebrating as he experienced the Liturgy there in Washington at the colloquium. Those of you who have been at Assumption Grotto for some time know all too well that Fr. Perrone took a gradual approach to getting the Liturgy where we enjoy it today. He catechized the parish with each change he was making.

Do read the delightful post by Fr. Martin Fox and use it also as an example to understand that changes require patience and time. Priests just like him all over the world are becoming interested looking at the Liturgy from a different angle. We must give them the room to grow and explore, while not expecting too much too fast lest they distance themselves from it all.

The Beauty of the Roman Liturgy

G.K. Chesterton has a line often quoted: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been wanted and not tried." It would well apply to the Roman Rite, insofar as what many, many Catholics experience is really a minimal shadow of the liturgy as it is intended, as clearly spelled out in the teachings and directives of the Church.

This must come as a terrible shock to many Catholics, and I have been trying to find a way to soften the blow, but I haven't found a way to do it, without concealing the truth.

What prompts this reflection is my participation in study and celebration of the sacred liturgy here at the Church Music Association of America colloquium. What are we doing? We are learning Gregorian chant and polyphony, and reflecting on the nature of the liturgy in various lectures and conversations, and of course, celebrating the liturgy itself. No minimalism here!

Each Mass is celebrated with full use of the music that is integral to the liturgy, from the opening processional chants, with the prayers of the Mass sung, either by the celebrant, the choir or the faithful, as well as in some cases, even the readings. And we have no scruples about using incense and proper ceremony (such as the priests exchanging the sign of peace in the traditional Roman fashion -- a kind of embrace, rather than a handshake), and no one fusses about time.

....continue reading at the blog of Fr. Martin Fox

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Vatican Reverses Kennedy Annulment

Rather rare news of an annulment being reversed by the Vatican.

I'll turn you over to Ed Peters, JD, JCD, for an explanation.

Annulment? What annulment? Really, what annulment?

Canon 1682 requires that every "sentence which first declare[s] the nullity of marriage to be transmitted ex officio to the appellate tribunal" and Canon 1684 states that only "after the sentence which first declared the nullity of the marriage has been confirmed at the appellate level. . .[can] the persons whose marriage has been declared null contract a new marriage . . ."

In other words, "an annulment" (which sounds as if it's a single thing) actually requires two distinct, affirmative decisions. It's not like in American law, where winning at trial is sufficient to establish one's rights. In canonical matrimonial cases, a petitioner who proves his case for nullity at trial ("first instance") does not yet "have" an annulment: a petitioner must to receive two concurring affirmative sentences in order to have an annulment. Persons involved in the annulment process are repeatedly cautioned about this point of canon law.

......continue reading "What Annulment", at In the Light of the Law

Ed had another post just recently on this subject and sheds more light on the Roman Rota at his Canon Law website with a look at one particular case from yesteryear.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Medjugorje: Papal Preacher Cantalamessa Will Not be Directing Priest Retreat

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap., Preacher of the Papal Household, [right] had been scheduled to preach in Medjugorje in the beginning of July at a Spiritual Retreat for Priests. The Diocese of Mostar-Duvno released a letter on June 18th, 2007 asking that it be published far and wide so that word would get out to people: Fr. Cantalamessa will not be directing a priest's retreat in Medjugorje. After some communications between the diocese and Fr. Cantalamessa, the Papal Household Preacher stated:

“My principle is not to preach, especially not to the clergy, without the permission of the local bishop”.

Contained here is the full press release from the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno in English.

Mostarsko-Duvanjska i Trebinjsko-Mrkanska biskupija
Ulica nadbiskupa Čule bb., pp. 54 - 88000 Mostar
(tel. ++387/36/331-469; fax: 331-472; e-mail:

Mostar, 18 June 2007
Prot.: 1106/2007


In order to avoid repeating abuses that have occurred in the past, for almost six years now a decision of the Diocesan Chancery of Mostar in the form of a circular letter dated 23 August 2001, has been in force and sent to all the parish rectories and communities of Religious men and women which declares: “3. - All Parish rectories and Religious institutions are obliged to forward to this Diocesan Chancery in due time, the names of all foreign priests and bishops coming from beyond the areas where the Croatian language is spoken, who have been invited to hold spiritual retreats, seminars and similar spiritual encounters, in which the Word of God is preached and explained. Along with the name(s) and the request, a copy of the celebret of the priest or bishop must be included, who after having received written permission from this Diocesan Chancery, will be allowed to hold such spiritual exercises” (NEWS. Catholic Press Agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 5 September 2001, pp. 30-31; Glas Koncila, 9 September 2001, p.2).

Even the bishops of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference during the assembly held in Split in October 2005 decided and this decision was then also adopted by the Bishops of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo the same month, that the
bishops of the two Bishops’ Conferences shall not accept the invitations of individual pastors to celebrate the sacraments and hold lectures in the territory of another diocese unless they have received a Nihil obstat from the local Diocesan Chancery.

Despite the above mentioned decision, the news of a spiritual retreat for priests directed by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap., Preacher of the Papal Household, to be held in Medjugorje at the beginning of July 2007 appeared on the internet many months ago, yet the organizers of this retreat did not inform the Diocesan Chancery in Mostar according to the norm, prior to the event. In this regard, celebrations of the sacrament of reconciliation are being publicized billing, alongside Fr Cantalamessa, Fr. Jozo Zovko [left]; yet the latter since 2004 has been relieved of all priestly faculties in the territory of the dioceses of Herzegovina (Vrhbosna, 3/2004, pp.293-298).

The Pastoral decision of 23 August 2001 regarding leaders of spiritual retreats and conferences was reaffirmed and expressly emphasized by the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, Msgr. Ratko Perić [right]in his discourse and invitation given during the Chapter elections on 16 April this year at Humac, where he was officially invited to preside at Holy Mass. On that occasion the Diocesan bishop mentioned the following regarding Medjugorje:

  1. “- The pastoral obstinacy of the pastors and other associates of Medjugorje is quite evident on the ‘Medjugorje’ internet site which bears the title ‘Marian Shrine’. ‘Medjugorje’ is neither a diocesan nor national or international shrine. This status must be acknowledged while the events remain as they stand.

  2. - The obstinacy of the pastors and other associates of Medjugorje is also evident in the their disregard for the circular letter of the Chancery of 2001, which states that priests coming from beyond the areas where the Croatian language is spoken are not to be invited without the express and written
    permission of the Diocesan Chancery.

  3. - The obstinacy of the pastors and other associates of Medjugorje is evident in that a member of your Province, Fr. Jozo Zovko, who has no priestly faculties and who is forbidden from celebrating any priestly functions in this diocese, has been invited this year to preside at the Way of the Cross in Medjugorje and has been in this regard presented as available for confessions”.

The discourse was published in its entirety at the beginning of May this year in the diocesan pastoral monthly (Crkva na kamenu, 5/2007, pp. 33-35).

After exchanging various letters between the Diocesan Chancery and the Parish Rectory of Medjugorje, the pastor of Medjugorje Fr. Ivan Sesar notified the bishop in his letter dated 13 June 2007 that: “Upon my insistence due to the shortness of time, I asked P. Cantalamessa to send his acknowledgment of receipt of my letter by fax, which he did in the meantime. He accepts my apology and regrets that due to the newly arisen circumstances he cannot come, since in principle he never does public appearances without the permission of the local Ordinary”.

Bishop Perić and Fr. Cantalamessa exchanged letters on 13 June. Fr. Cantalamessa informed the bishop that he wrote a letter to Fr. Sesar on 8 June. Fr. Cantalamessa wrote in his letter to the bishop on 13 June: “My principle is not to preach, especially not to the clergy, without the permission of the local bishop”.

This Diocesan Chancery never received any written request for permission as is the norm, from either of the parties involved with regard to the spiritual retreat and its moderator.

With this Press Release the Diocesan Chancery wishes to emphasize that the norms of the Code of Canon Law have not been respected in this case, which state that express permission for priests and deacons is required for preaching if this is demanded by local law, as well as observance of the norms issued by the Diocesan bishop. The Diocesan Chancery also particularly deems necessary to release this to the Catholic public in order to avoid misinterpretations and deceptions which can been seen in the comments on the web sites that regard Medjugorje as a place of supposed apparitions for which the position of the Church remains: “that it cannot be affirmed that these events concern supernatural apparitions and revelations”.

Msgr. Srećko Majić
Vicar General

That was pretty strong language used in the bullet points repeated from a 2001 document. "Obstinancy of the pastors and other associates....". Keep in mind that no definitive judgment has been handed down, but these kinds of things are used in discernment. For pastors and associates to disobey the bishop, and to be obstinate about it yet, is something to be weighed in the 1978 document on discernment of apparitions. We can look to St. Faustina's case to understand this. While there was a ban on her material, God perhaps had a purpose for the delay in getting the Divine Mercy into full swing. Part of St. Faustina's suffering was resulted from the rejection she endured. This shows extraordinary virtue and made her saintly status visible. Hence, obedience on the part of alleged visionaries and their associates is a positive fruit.

Also, it was rather surprising that the Papal Household Preacher was going to direct a retreat at the location of an alleged apparition which has not been approved. For such a distinguished member of the Vatican to appear there, could create scandal, especially since Fr. Jozo Zovko was to be involved. I personally knew Fr. Jozo Zovko when I lived in that region (1980-83) and he remains in my prayers.

I am going to assume that Fr. Cantalamessa was not aware of the issues surrounding Fr. Zovko and I won't get into the kind of details that are best left between that priest, his bishop and his confessor. Any comments that appear in the combox discussing those details will be deleted as it may be a form of detraction. All that is needed to know is whether his faculties are good or not. To establish that (since several well-traveled Medjugorje sites are disputing this issue)....

From the online book by Michael Davies, "Medjugorje - After Twenty One Years", is the following background:

A report in The Catholic Herald of 29 November 2002 reported that Father Zovko had been forbidden to celebrate Mass in the national shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington after the Rector, Monsignor Michael J. Bransfield had written to Monsignor Peric asking him to clarify the Franciscan's juridical status. In his reply, dated 18 November the bishop explained that Father Zovko is a disobedient Franciscan whose faculties and canonical mission in the dioceses of Mostar-Duvno and Trebinje-Mrkan were revoked by Monsignor Pavao Zanic on 23 August 1989. Monsignor Peric upholds the decision of his predecessor, and adds that, as Father Zovko has heard confessions without the necessary faculties, he has incurred the penalties prescribed in canon 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, i.e. an automatic (latae sententiae) suspension. In 1990 the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples required him to leave Medjugorje and take up residence in a distant convent (convento lontano), but he has refused to do so and is still actively involved in Medjugorje.

The website, Send your Spirit Medjugorje has a full dialogue in letters captured on this matter. This is a good, objective string. Near the bottom one will see that while the Bishop says Fr. Zovko's faculties are suspended, Fr. Slavko Soldo - then Provincial of the Order contradicted the bishop stating Father is in good standing. Keep in mind a provincial, such as Fr. Soldo, does nto have the ability to ordain a priest - that is reserved to the bishop. The bishop in this case trumps the provincial. The people of Send your Spirit Medjugorje faxed over the following back to Fr. Soldo:

November 25, 2002

Fr. Slavko Soldo, OFM,
Provincial of the
Franciscan Province of the Assumption
Mostar - Fax:

Although Fr. Jozo is in good standing with you, he is, however, in disobedience to the local bishop, and therefore, the church, as indicated in the letter (Dated November 18, 2002, Prot. 1942/2002) from Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar to Msgr. Michael J. Bransfield, Rector Basilica National Shrine Of Immaculate Conception, Washington, D,C. Fax 001 202 526 8313.

Why did your Franciscan province permit him to be in such disobedience and without priestly faculties for 13 years?

Please reply. Thank you

No reply to these questions were ever received according to the website.

19-June-07: has an article up on this today (German language)
20-June-07: Catholic News Service Article based on the press release
22-June-07: Bosnia & Hercegovina Bishops Conference (English)
22-June-07: Bosnia & Hercegovina Bishops Conference (Italian)
22-June-07: Bosnia & Hercegovina Bishops Conference (Croatian)
Home Page of the Bosnia & Hercegovina Bishops Conference (Croatian)


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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Altar Boy Program - Post 3: Headed by the Pastor

Practice session for Easter Season headed by Fr. Perrone
Photo by Jeff Williams - 2007.

I'm continuing with my discussion of why I believe the altar boy program at Assumption Grotto enjoys such good participation. I posted it yesterday, and have modified the date to 6/17/2007 to bump it back to the top of the blog again. Do note that comment moderation is turned on.

Here is our list again with links to the first and second posts.

  1. All Male Program.

  2. Masculinity of Discipline and Precision Required

  3. Headed by the Pastor

  4. Liturgically traditional parish with orthodoxy in doctrine

  5. Strong Catholic identity within the family

  6. Large homeschooling population

I've already established how and why Assumption Grotto can have an all male program in my first post. I spoke about the masculinity of it all in my second post. Now, in this third segment of the series, I want to bring to light that in this program, men are leading men.

3. Program Headed by Pastor

At the very top of this program is Grotto's pastor, Fr. Eduard Perrone. While lay men who are seasoned veteran servers of the altar assist the pastor in directing the boys, we all know who heads the program. It is not a lay led program, and it involves more than what is seen.

The seasoned veterans make sure it runs smoothly and handle all those details that may not be so well known to the less experienced, such as on special feast days.

In the photo above along with Fr. Perrone and some of the newer altar boys, is one of those adults who ordinarily works as a master of ceremonies at Saturday evening liturgies, at Masses during Holy Week, and at the 7:00 pm outdoor mass on August 15. He dresses in altar server attire - cassock and surplice, and can sometimes be seen giving the young men subtle cues. He also directs traffic in a subtle, but dignified manner during big processions where several hundred people are involved. A good MC can make it all run smooth and not draw any more attention to himself than is needed by those to whom he gives cues.

Practice session for Easter Season headed by Fr. Perrone
Photo by Jeff Williams - 2007.


I've witnessed several things about the development of altar boys at Grotto since May 2005 when I first came to Grotto.

  1. Tools and Actions

  2. Behavioral

  3. Spiritual

Photos of the bells used during Elevation and Benediction.
Taken during Christmas season 2006

A. Tools and Actions

Long before any Mass begins, altar boys are there at church preparing everything that is needed, from layout out of vestments to setting out all that will be needed during the liturgy. All of this "know-how" takes training in what to put out, and when. They learn terms like "thurible" or "censor" and "corporal"

This task is done with utmost care for the fact that they do so in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle directly in the center of the wall altar in the sanctuary. Which leads us into the next point.

Torchbearers processing in at the beginning of the 7:00pm outdoor Mass on August 15, 2006.
Photo by Jeff Williams.

B. Behavioral Development

This is somewhat redundant to my last post, but bears a revisit.

Behavior among altar boys during holy Mass is striking when one first encounters it because of what it lacks: A casual, lax attitude. It goes to the self-discipline I talked about in my previous post. Their work is also done in complete silence with visible reverence. Granted, this is also the kind of behavior in most parishioners at Grotto. The culture itself embraces total silence in Church and full attention on God, not each other. But, boy do we ever socialize outside of the Mass the way I've never experienced in any parish before. That's another subject.

The strut of the boys is one that is not proud, but humble. Their hands are clasped in prayer even when they walk - palm on palm, finger-tip on finger-tip, held at about a 30 degree angle. As I've mentioned before when they walk, they walk slowly. Their heads are not bobbing about, looking up at the ceiling or at friends in the pews. Each time they pass the Tabernacle, They pause, then they genuflect unless they are carrying something. Instead, they make a profound bow facing Our Lord. When they have something in hand, the free hand is always covering their heart - yet another sign of reverence and respect for that which they do and for Whom it is done.

When we look at an eight-year old boy outside of Mass - a pure bundle of unreserved energy, it is truly amazing to see him control that energy by himself through self-discipline serving on the altar. The boys mature more quickly in my humble opinion through all that they learn in serving. The youngest boys are the torchbearers and watching them first learn all of the behaviors needed as such, is one to make anyone proud of their efforts and accomplishments. I've seen a desire to do it right and do it good, with full focus on what they are doing. It is, after all, a rite of passage. This is what the young, new boys do.

There is a natural progression for the young men. They learn simple things and simple motions first, then as they mature, they get more responsibility and move from the simple to the more complex, like knowing what to do on special feast days or when a bishop or cardinal comes. Some will go on to train others. Their behavior exhibits the fullness of teamwork.

Altar boys bowing during the Credo at " incarnatus est..." -
Photo by Jeff Williams, August 15, 2006 at the 7:00pm outdoor Mass.

C. Spiritual Development

Behavior goes to more than how they appear on the altar. It's an interior thing, as well. While no boy is perfect, priests take the time to teach them to lead virtuous and God-pleasing lives. These things will take them far down the road in being good husbands and fathers, as well as good priests and religious, for those that are called.

There is a spiritual side to being an altar boy at Grotto. It's not simply about the precision, the mechanics and discipline of the job. These things they can get on a ball field.

Altar boys have regular retreats through the parish. Sometimes it will be onsite, other times offsite with other activities. Many of these retreats are silent retreats, or at least have periods of silence built in, which once again goes to building self-discipline. However, it involves something far deeper.

Holy silence is where we not only talk to God, it is where we can finally listen to Him. If our minds are always cluttered with talk, then how can we hear the Lord's gentle admonishments and lessons? How can he order charity in our hearts if we cannot learn to be silent for a time so that we may hear His voice above all others, including our own? This is what the priests help to teach the boys.

Our priests also teach the boys to live according to the Gospel through solid understanding of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and they encourage frequent confession. It is good that priests of our parish encourage everyone, not only altar boys, to go frequently, even in the absence of serious sin, to build virtue.

Eucharistic adoration is encouraged, as is Marian devotion - things that when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's were discouraged if only by their lack of emphasis.

The spiritual dimension of the altar boy program is what can enable a young man to hear if God is calling him to the priesthood. Should he sense that call, Father is not some distant figure on the altar, but a priest in the sacristy with whom he can confide and talk with on such matters. As an altar boy, he witnesses first-hand, the seriousness and reverence with which Father vests for Mass. He witnesses the stoic manner in which Father deals with tremendous heat in an unairconditioned church wearing full vestments, including amice fully covering any sign of street clothes at the neck, all the while building stamina himself as he too dons the cassock and surplice. The lesson is simple and one unheard of in many of today's Catholic parishes: Offer it up! He witnesses the work of the priest in ways that are unseen to the average faithful. He sees Father's devoutness. He sees Father's humanity. Being close to a holy priest is what can lead a young man to aspire, if he is called, to the priesthood.
All of this, is perhaps why we see in parishes like Assumption Grotto, vocation rates that are higher than the average diocesan parish. Vocations are flourishing in parishes where there are all-male programs and where orthodoxy in docrine, prayerlife, and family life are the rule. It is mind-boggling why any diocese would not encourage more of the same in other parishes if they want more vocations.

Altar boys in the background raising candles as they sing, "Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!" before the big Marian procession on August 15, 2006

One thing that struck me profoundly happened following the 9:30am Mass one Sunday. I happened to be in the sacristy when the boys returned following Mass and all lined up as so silently you could hear a pin drop and with an appearance of anticipation for something still unknown to me at the moment. I wondered what was going on when the priest, taking up the rear, came in and all of the boys dropped down to one knee and the priest gave them a blessing. Then, all worked relatively silently putting away the tools and vestments. It's a simple thing, but how many priests do this today? In how many sacristies are there altar servers working silently with hardly a peep after Mass, putting everything back in its place?

Behavior Outside of Mass: Boys Becoming Men

From a spiritual standpoint, the altar boys do much outside of the Mass, as well. They are often doing work behind the scenes, helping out when there are various things going on from clothing drives to various other social events, and ordinary labor around the parish. While these things may not all be arranged as part of the altar boy program, it goes to what they learn in not turning a blind eye to those things that need to be done. Many of them run to the work when they see it, as opposed to running the other way. My experience with many of them is that they want to be helpful. I've been on the receiving end of "ad hoc" help many times when one or more of them saw the need. I've witnessed the same as they help others. One could argue that it is more a function of good home life and parenting. I won't argue with that at all because I believe that is the case. But I also believe it has something to do with their development as altar boys too. I see boys developing into men - mature men, much sooner in my parish than I ever experienced before coming to Assumption Grotto Parish in Detroit.

Deo Gratias!