Call Me Catholic

8 Things I’m NOT Doing This Advent

Advent begins this Sunday. Have you thought about it yet? I have, and I’ve come up with a few things I won’t be doing. Next week, I hope to put together a list of things I will be doing for those of you who might be curious.

But for today…

8 Things I’m NOT Doing This Advent

  1. I’m not doing a Jesse Tree.  Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I had a Jesse Tree, and the children colored paper ornaments and cut them out and decorated a dead tree branch. They had a lot of fun. This year? Nope. The Bible will have to do for making those lovely Old Testament stories come alive.
  2. I also will not have an Advent Calendar filled with chocolates marking out the liturgical season.  This is because I’d rather spend that $3.99 on a cappuccino. I guess, our 2020 “Drinking With the Monks” wall calendar from Tan Publishing will have to do.
Here is November’s picture. See the quotation in the corner? It says, “Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.” Cheeky!

3. I’m not going to make a single cookie during Advent.  I restrained myself last year, too, and it was freeing. We will, however, make cookies during the Christmas octave and eat as many as we choose, while we lick the bowl and fight for the spatula. I do sympathize with those individuals, however, who make their cookies during Advent and freeze them for Christmas. This is laudable–and penitential too, if one doesn’t eat the cookie dough or the cookies until December 25. Oy.

4. I don’t have my box of Advent books out yet; it’s still tucked away in the storage room.  I’ve just been too lazy tired to actually walk down the stairs, turn a corner, open a door, and get it.  I’m really hoping that I’ll find the motivation to do so, at least by December 24th.  We do have some good ones. So this one probably shouldn’t be on my list of “Things I’m Not Doing This Advent.” Rather this one should be on my list of “Things I Should Get Going On By Sunday.”

5. There is no Elf on my shelf.  Nor has there ever been.  I understand this is a fun thing for some children, but mine will have to be satisfied with Mary and Joseph traveling around the house, making their way to our nativity set, which I hope to get out soon with that box of Advent books…

Kids’ bookshelf. No elf here. But there are books all over the floor…

6. I’m not going to listen to Christmas music this Advent.  Maybe.  Goodness, this is such a hard one for me.  I love Christmas music so much that it isn’t uncommon for me to blast it any time of the year.  Just ask my children.  Who doesn’t love a little “Sleigh Ride” in July? This year, however, it’ll be “Advent at Ephesus” with the Benedictines of Mary.

7. I’m not going to buy a ton of Christmas gifts, which you already know about. (See HERE for my Christmas Shopping post.)  We’ve been scaling back over the years, as we’ve found that less is more, and it teaches the children gratitude.

8. I’m not decorating for Christmas during Advent.  This one is easy to not do for the obvious reason that I don’t have to do anything.  We stopped decorating for Christmas during Advent a long time ago.  Instead it’s become a family tradition to buy our Christmas tree the last possible minute and decorate it and the rest of our house on Christmas Eve, and I can’t tell you how much fun we have!  So I’m not really worried about this one.

May God bless you this Advent!

Call Me Catholic

Photo Post: All Souls’ Day TLM

This evening we attended a beautiful Missa Cantata for All Souls’ Day. It was a Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr. Altman.

If you’ve never attended a traditional Requiem Mass, I promise it’s worth whatever sacrifice one needs to make to get there–time, travel, enduring tired children, etc. The prayers alone are striking and heartrending. I’m thinking in particular of the Sequence, or the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). Tonight, I was struck by verse 14, “Worthless are my prayers and sighing, Yet, good Lord, in grace complying, Rescue me from fires undying.”

For those of you who are interested, I will post a few photos and captions below.

St. James the Less Catholic Church, prior to the set-up for Requiem Mass.
The Catafalque, or empty coffin is prepared and candles are lit.
Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Praying prior to Mass, lights are still on.
Almost all lighting extinguished. Mass begins with, “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.” Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.

Praying the Dies Irae.
Father’s homily wherein he reminds us that the forces of Mordor are now moving. And we know who wins that war. (Tolkien, Lord of the Rings reference.)

The torchbearers enter and kneel for the Sanctus.

The Mass has ended. Father is putting on his cope for the Absolution, which are the final prayers at the bier or catafalque.

The Absolution.

Incensing the catafalque.

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Is Your Home Blessed?

Last January we moved 600 miles to a new home in a new state. Within a day or two, literally, I called the Church’s office and scheduled a home blessing with our priest, Father Altman. He came out within a few days and prayed the traditional blessing for homes and doused the place with Holy Water. And I mean doused every nook, cranny, and closet. Then he celebrated a TLM in the living room.

The place had been thoroughly sanctified.

This Fall, however, I noticed a few “Black Lives Matter” signs showing up in the neighborhood, along with those “We Believe” signs, wherein such slogans as “Science is Real” and “Love is Love” ramble on in rainbow colors. I thought about our 1 acre yard that hadn’t been blessed. It made me uncomfortable.

So, a few weeks ago, I called the Church office again. Would Father mind coming out to bless the yard, our two Mary statues, and a Jesus statue?

He came out on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and blessed an entire canister of salt and a container of Holy Water in Latin, according to the Old Rite with all the sweet exorcisms. Then he prayed from the Rituale Romanum, and we processed around the perimeter of the whole yard and sanctified the property. He ended with celebrating another TLM in our living room.

Blessing the yard.
Prayers after Mass. (The boys served.)

Dear Readers, if you haven’t had your house blessed, you should really get it done while you can. Don’t delay on something so important. And if your priest will do it, ask for the Old Rite. It’s richer. Do the homework and compare the prayers; you’ll be astonished at what was left out in the later Book of Blessings.

If you’d like more information about the use of Latin or English, click HERE for Fr. Z’s explanation. Or, if you’d like to hear Fr. Altman explain the difference in blessing Holy Water according the Old Rite and the New in an interview with Patrick Coffin, click HERE and skip to 1 hour 28 minutes.

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Question: How Does One Begin Praying the Breviary?

I received a question the other day, which I’ll post below with a few of my thoughts.

Question:

Kim, I am inspired by your daily recitation of the liturgy of the hours. What prayers of the Divine Office do you pray everyday? I had bought compline books and wanted our family to pray that every evening but that has not happened yet. Any suggestions for getting started?

First of all, thank you, dear Reader, for the question, which I’ll break into two.

Question #1: What prayers of the Divine Office do you pray every day?

Our family uses the Roman Breviary from Baronius Press. These books are excellent because they have Latin and English side-by-side.

But we didn’t begin our marriage praying this breviary. In the beginning we prayed the red Christian Prayer book, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. A few years ago, however, we made the switch to the Roman Breviary for various reasons. (Mostly, we wanted to pray what the Church had been praying since time immemorial, not just since 1976, and we wanted its fullness.)

The Roman Breviary has all the traditional hours in it, which is why it’s a three volume set. Now, if I actually prayed all those hours, I wouldn’t get my work done. Therefore, I only pray two: Lauds and Compline.

As you frequent readers of the blog will know, the older children join my husband and me in praying Lauds every morning, but just my husband and I pray Compline in the evening, after the family rosary. My husband, however, prays more. If he’s up early, he’ll do Matins, and then, in the late afternoon he prays Vespers on his work break. The other minor hours, like Terce or Sext, might get prayed during Adoration some time during the week, but sometimes not. It’s just nice that they’re there as an option.

Here’s where Wednesday Lauds begins…

Question #2: Where should one start?

So, let’s say you own a breviary or some Liturgy of the Hours book and are wondering, where to start? I’d suggest beginning with whichever hour makes the most sense for you and your schedule. Of course I think it’s best to begin and end each day with prayer, so perhaps Lauds and Compline might be good options, but anywhere is better than nowhere.

Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of making it a priority.

Lastly, Satan hates families that pray together. Therefore, you’ll be sorely tempted to not do it. Therefore, do it! This is especially important for those of you with children, for whether you know it or not, you’re modeling how a life of prayer is done. You’re children see you, and your actions matter. If they see Dad every morning, day in and day out, praying Lauds, chances are, they’ll pray Lauds, especially if you provide them with books and invite them in. On the contrary, if they see Dad hurriedly rushing out the door every morning, neglecting his prayers, they will understand that this is not important.

And finally, don’t be overwhelmed by the whole thing. The breviary can be a complicated book to navigate. If you feel drawn to it, just dive in and don’t worry about missing a feast day or some special commemoration. God sees your heart and will be pleased with your efforts.

If, however, you’re looking for more information on the Roman Breviary, I strongly recommend reading Pius Parsch’s book The Breviary Explained. My husband couldn’t put it down.

And Just For Fun…

The Eldest is learning how to play the organ.

Every Friday, during practice, her younger brother throws himself at her feet (literally) and watches those pedals move. Of course he begs to play too, and she willingly obliges from time-to-time.

Lovely view, no?

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Rosary Rally for Fr. Altman

We attended, as usual, Fr. Altman’s 11:30 TLM this morning.  As we pulled up, a half an hour early because the boys were serving, we noticed the crowds milling about outside–men in suits, ladies in dresses, veils blowing in the wind, and little children running everywhere.

Of course we expected a larger crowd, as the Rosary Rally was later in the afternoon, but this was something!  Since moving to the area, today’s Mass was the fullest I’ve ever seen it.

Prior to Mass, I had to take the 2-year-old to the bathroom and was met with a fifteen minute line, which was interesting.  A woman from Colorado had driven all night with her family and was apologizing for her red eyes.  Moms from Montana were straightening out their dresses.  An old lady from northern Wisconsin was chatting with some Minnesotans about stumbling upon Fr. Altman and thanking the Lord for his courage and witness.

Well, anyway, we eventually made it back to our pew for Mass–it was a beautiful High Mass with all the bells and smells and eight altar boys.  I thought the Collect was especially striking:

Let Thy continual pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend Thy Church: and because it cannot continue in safety without Thee, may it ever be governed by Thy goodness.

And how was Fr. Altman’s homily, which was not live, due to restrictions put forth by Bishop Callahan?

It was short and surprisingly, nonpolitical.  He seemed tired, and my heart went out to him, as I have some idea of how this week went for him.  The office was bombarded with phone calls, emails, and letters–most of which, I understand, were positive and encouraging, but the few that weren’t, were vile and disgusting.  New measures of safety were taken this last week, and anybody who was paying attention at Mass will have noticed a few gentlemen monitoring the activity of all present.

In any case, after Mass I found myself visiting with a young lady from Chicago.  She and her father drove here to support Fr. Altman and were presently on their way to the Rosary Rally, where Fr. Heilman would be leading the community in prayer.  We, too, were loading up the van and driving straight to the Cathedral, for what kind of crowd would we find there?

We weren’t disappointed.  We parked a few blocks away and followed the dads and moms and teenagers and babies and grandmas and grandpas and you-name-it.  The crowd wrapped around the Cathedral block.  When Fr. Heilman showed up, cheers and clapping erupted on both sides of the street and everyone attempted to move closer.  The local TV/News station filmed it all.  I think they were about the only ones wearing masks.  And there certainly wasn’t any social distancing.  (We’re all family, right?)

Fr. Heilman spoke movingly about watching Fr. Altman’s videos and feeling, sensing in his gut that here was something.  This was truth–finally!  He knew he had to back Fr. Altman.  He compared our whole insane situation in the Catholic Church, with its very few courageous leaders, to those brave men who sacrificed their lives on the beaches of Normandy.

Indeed, he told the story of his sister-in-law’s father, who fought on those beaches and survived.  That man found himself in the chapel of a bombed-out palace.  As he was crawling to safety, he came across a large crucifix, which was lying on its face.  He reached out, turned Jesus over, and something fell out of the skullcap.  He thought it might be something important, so he put it in his pocket.  Later, back in the States, he found that he had saved a relic of the True Cross.

At that moment, Fr. Heilman unveiled that very relic.  We fell to our knees, and then Fr. Heilman began reciting the rosary.

I’d like to say it was a deeply prayerful moment for me, but alas, I have seven children.  One was digging in the gutter and another was piling leaves on someone’s car.  A drone was humming overhead videoing the whole thing.  Others with video equipment were strolling about, filming the crowds.  And my knees ached from kneeling on concrete.  (I’m such a wimp.)

Nevertheless, I was happy to be there–happy to support Fr. Altman.  May more priests find the same courage to speak out.

Here we are, meeting up with friends, in front of the Cathedral.
Entering the crowds.
Fr. Heilman reveals the relic of the True Cross, saved from WWII.

Lastly, if you haven’t had a chance to watch Dr. Taylor Marshall’s recent interview with Fr. Altman, click HERE. It’s excellent and worth your time.

Call Me Catholic

What to do with Confirmation $$ ??

Many of you readers know that our five oldest children were recently confirmed by Raymond Cardinal Burke.  O glorious day!

I’ll post a few pictures below for a brief recap…

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The Eldest, just confirmed, making her way back to the pew at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Hard to see anything here, I know.

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Cardinal Burke giving The Youngest a blessing afterwards.

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Our whole family after receiving a blessing from His Eminence.

As the dust settles from last week and indelible marks remain on the children’s souls for all of eternity, there was only one item yet to be taken care of…

What to do with all that cash their relatives so graciously bestowed upon them?

Hmmm…what would you do, if you were given some cash as a child?

Without parental intervention, our children would likely have done one of two things:

  1. Shoved the cash into their piggy banks.  (Not a bad idea.)
  2. Biked over to the local grocery store and purchased ridiculous amounts of Mike and Ikes, Cherry Nibs, and Peanut Butter M&Ms.  (Fun.  But a bit of a waste.)

Fortunately, we had a plan, should any cash find their way into those Confirmation cards.  All the children–except The Eldest as she already owned one–purchased Latin Mass Missals, and they’ve arrived in the mail!

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Here they all are.

Their names are written on the front of them, and we keep them on this bookshelf in the living room for easy access.

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We’re very thankful that the older children can have their own missals, as we feel it’s important to begin familiarity with it as soon as possible.  There are wonderful things to learn about the Mass in these books too.  (For those of you who may be unfamiliar, the books have Latin on one side and English on the other with explanatory notes.)

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Here’s a shot of the pages directly preceding the prayers of the Mass.

But what about The Eldest, you might ask?  What did she purchase with her extra cash, since she already owned a missal?

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The Eldest’s 3 volume purchase, which sits on her bookshelf in her room.

She purchased the Roman Breviary, which was certainly more expensive.  Fortunately for her, she had saved up her piano money from the spring and summer.  Now she will be able to pray the responses during Lauds, which begins around 6:25am in our household.

Hopefully in a year or two the boys will be able to purchase their own breviaries too.  These books are very beautiful.  We find it edifying and inspiring to pray the ancient psalms of the Church day in and day out, and we look forward to the boys praying them aloud.  As it is now, they sit quietly with us and are either silently praying in their hearts or dozing in the candle light…

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Thank you to all the grandmas, grandpas, aunts, and uncle who contributed to the children’s Holy Book Fund!

And most especially, thank you to everyone who prayed for the children on that most memorable day!

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A Question From Scotland: First Communion Dilemma

From time-to-time I receive heart-rending emails from you, dear Readers.  Most often, I respond privately, if I’m able, but in this case, I offer both her email and my response to the public because this woman’s story is the story of families all over the globe.

Naturally, I’ve removed some private information, and I’ve put a few sentences in bold, which seem to sum up her plight.  Following the email, I’ve attempted to offer advice, for those of you who are interested.

Email From Scotland

Firstly thank you so much for your blog. I stumbled upon it while searching to contact Darci from youtube. I have a few questions and I’d love some advice. BUT I know you are a busy mom and totally expect you must get so many messages-so no stressing about a response!

Prior to the churches being closed I brought up reception of Communion on the tongue to my Priest. He was very dismissive of me-and gave me a response that I wasn’t very happy with (to summarize-Because Jesus chose bread, of course then the worldly consequence would be that particles are expected to be lost during communion). He also mentioned that I was getting close to arguments that were bordering on traditional practices that turn away from the NO (Novus Ordo) mass. For this reason – we went to our first TLM to receive Holy Communion on the tongue in ***, 2.5 hrs away. That was to be our last Mass until now.

During this time in the desert, God was calling us. My husband and I could feel his gentle leading. We had been hearing brave Priests on the internet, listening to many people discovering the beauty of the Latin Mass. Masses began to open two weeks ago and we called the TLM parish in ***. The parish secretary (being very careful not to ‘give away’ her priest because of the restrictions made by the Bishop ) said that no one was being denied Communion wink wink. We took this as a sign and drove 2.5 hrs on Sunday. Thanks be to God we were able to receive.

So you must be wondering what my question is. Our 9 year old was meant to receive First Holy Communion in June, and there has been no talk about when it will be celebrated. And even if it is, we are unsure if our priest will even allow her to receive on the tongue, based on what I’ve already encountered. My husband has suggested we ask the priest at the TLM (who by the way got his secretary to call us yesterday to say that he was so happy to see us there on Sunday) if we could have her receive there. I imagine there will be an issue with the certificate, and not celebrating with her class (she goes to a Catholic school). To be honest I’m not worried about offending anyone at this point, only what would be best and most reverent for our daughter, but can you foresee anything I’m not thinking of that could go wrong? What do you think you would do? Is it more important to be strong in our desires with our own priest and possibly make a bigger situation, or disregard the protocol for our parish/school?

This whole time we have been praying, researching and learning. I do feel like God is truly speaking to us and opening us up to His plan. I can’t believe He’s led me to your blog for instance, as I’ve just read that Cardinal Burke (He came to Scotland in 2017 to consecrate Scotland to Mary!) celebrated your children’s Confirmation-and also that Fr. Altman is your priest! We have also been praying for Paul-and your whole family. Thank you for listening to my message and thank you in advance for any insight you may offer me.

A Response

I am terribly sorry for your difficult situation, but I am glad for two things:

  1. You and your husband seem to be united in your desire for the Sacraments–they are worth fighting for!– and in your desire to seek more information about the TLM.  The Mass is important.  Our Rites are formative.  Poor liturgy equals poor formation.  You know this.  Sitting in banal Masses, Sunday after Sunday, where all kinds of liturgical abuses are present, eventually numbs the soul.  It’s uninspiring in the least.  Beautiful Masses, however, lift the soul heavenwards and aid us in adoration, praise, and thanksgiving, etc.
  2. You found a priest willing to do his ordained job, albeit it 2.5 hours away; this is a good thing.  Not everyone is so blessed.

You ask what I would do?  Without hesitation, and with the full support and leadership of my husband, I’d have my child receive the Sacraments at the TLM parish NOW.  In fact, I’d become a member there.  Now, I don’t know your personal situation very well, and I don’t know if you can a.) afford to drive that distance every Sunday or b.) if your children could handle it, but chances are once a month might be doable.  Perhaps more?

And why wait on the Sacraments?  Either they mean something and give one’s soul sanctifying grace, or they don’t.  Which is it?

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Our 7-year-old received First Holy Communion during the Corona-Madness.

But I want to stress a couple of other things too:

  1. Be sure that you are praying together as a family every day.  Oh, boy, are you going to need this, especially if you decide to switch parishes and keep your children in that diocesan school.  But are you praying a rosary every single day?  Are you praying with your husband?
  2. How about fasting?  Mothers are not always capable of doing this, but in the very least, one can do a little.  Perhaps it’s plain bread for breakfast every Friday?  Even children are capable of that one.  The point is, do something!
  3. I want to encourage you to keep learning.  Read, read, read.  And involve your children in this.  Go through THIS book together.  We’ve also found Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s books very helpful.  I’d recommend any of his.  Or watch Dr. Taylor Marshall on YouTube.  He’s got great videos.  Indeed, is there anything more important in one’s life than Faith in God?
  4. Consider moving to that city where the TLM is being offered.  Marshall calls it the Great Catholic Migration.  That’s what we did.  (Certainly our circumstances are different, however.  I’ve written about it HERE.)
  5. Lastly, know how much Jesus loves you and your family.  He cares deeply about you.  No matter what you decide, He will always be there for you.

May His holy angels guide and protect you!

 

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Confirmation with Raymond Cardinal Burke

Yesterday five of our seven children had the great privilege of receiving the Rite of the Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form by Raymond Cardinal Burke.

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Here we are afterwards, meeting His Eminence.  Just about to kneel for his blessing.

The whole day was one marked by great beauty.  We were surrounded by our family and friends.  The weather, albeit a bit hot and sticky, was clear of thunderstorms.  And we were able to pray in the magnificent Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI.

The Traditional Rite of Confirmation began with the priests and Cardinal Burke chanting the Veni Creator Spiritus and then moved on to an Exhortation.

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Cardinal Burke, seated on the faldstool, about to give his Exhortation.  Fr. Altman is seated to the right.

At one point, during his Exhortation, Cardinal Burke said, “Do not give way to cowardly fear, for you will face opposition and persecution.”  This being one of the reasons why one needs the Sacrament of Confirmation, as it increases sanctifying grace and gives us the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.  (It also leaves an indelible mark upon one’s soul.)

He also repeatedly encouraged all the confirmandi to, “Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your particular vocation, as your vocation is the way to happiness in this life and in the life to come.”  And again, with strength, “Pray to know your vocation and respond to it with your whole heart.”

Following his brief words, Cardinal Burke outstretched his hands in prayer over the confirmandi, invoking the Holy Spirit.  Then the Cardinal confirmed them individually as he or she knelt before him with the sponsor standing behind.  This was the Second Laying on of Hands and the Anointing.  The confirmandi then received the acclaimed “Slap.”

The Slap, intended to be a reminder that one must be ready at all times to suffer for the faith, was our children’s favorite part.  It’s more like a “tap” and was given with the words, “Pax tecum.”  Or, “Peace be with you.”  One of my son’s remarked with a twinkle in his eye, “I was hoping for good whack.  He didn’t smack me hard enough!”

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Here we are again.

In the end, we feel very blessed and are so very thankful for Cardinal Burke’s willingness to administer this most holy Sacrament, for it was just that–holy.

As an aside…one my my girls remarked, “Mom, he’s got a pretty hat.”  Yes, he does!*

 

*It’s called a mitre.
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What If the Darkness Comes From Within the Church?

Ah, a difficult topic.  I’ve heard from a few of you who want to know, what if the darkness is coming from within the Church herself?  What if it’s faithless priests and bishops who are causing your frustration and feelings of isolation, desperation, and despair?

If this strikes a chord, then read on.  I hope to have some words of advice or encouragement.  If this topic doesn’t interest you, or isn’t helpful, I hope to see you next time!

Church Crisis Causing Turmoil and Interior Darkness

I received the following email from one of you dear readers the other day.  I’ll post parts of it below, for one can feel the agony in this woman’s heart as she wonders what to do?  In her diocese, unprecedented and unlawful liberties are being taken by the bishop and priests.  For example, the faithful are not allowed to receive the Eucharist on the tongue, contrary to the Church’s Universal law Redemptionis Sacramentum, statements put out by the USCCB, and Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

But it’s not just the Communion in the Hand Debacle.  It’s everything.  It’s so disheartening to be told that one’s faith is “nonessential,” and then to have seemingly no bishops or priests publicly fight against this discriminatory term.  (Well, almost no one.  There is this priest.  And Archbishop Vigano.)

In any case, here’s a part of this woman’s heartrending email:

Kim, I appreciate your post on darkness.  Thank you for sharing it.
I have been experiencing a total disconnect in some ways when it comes to the Church.  I know, I believe, and I trust in Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church.  However, I still feel so bitterly disappointed in how we are being led.  I can’t even think of the right word to describe how I feel about our bishops seeming to make our Faith nonessential.  Whether or not they intended it, that is what seems to have happened.  Is abandoned the right word?
I try not to dwell on it, and I try to instantly offer it up, but I feel the darkness, the loneliness, and the disappointment that the institution I look to in order to help make sense of this life was pretty much silent throughout all of this.  I go to a Holy Hour and I try to pray, but not much comes, but I keep going because it’s about Jesus (not me) and it’s about being there with Him even if I feel disconnected, unworthy, and an utter failure.  The leaders in His Church on earth might fall short, but He does not.
Forgive me, but I find it ironic that bishops are marching in protests (racism is an issue that needs to be dealt with, of course) with no social distancing but we can’t more fully open our churches.  I can’t speak personally to whether or not the bishop or any clergy attended these protests, but it’s ironic to me that social distancing doesn’t seem to matter anymore and we still aren’t able to live the full life of the Church with its many devotions and Communion.
I feel all of these things so deeply, and I also try to offer them up and to live in the joy that is the Lord’s, but I confess it is very, very difficult at times.  I wish I could be more saintly and welcome the suffering.  I find myself often praying, “I do believe, help me with my unbelief!”
Thanks for listening.  I always appreciate your insights and any thoughts you might have.

Ask For the Grace of Longanimity

Oh, how I wish I had greater insights into what one should do in these dark times.  Truly, this email is heartrending, especially because it’s not the only one I’ve received from you readers.  I have spoken to too many people who feel abandoned and hurt and lost.  O, the agony in the world!  In the breasts of faithful men and women!  How long, O Lord?

There is no logical reason why the bishops and priests won’t stand up and be real mean of God.  I don’t get it.  It would seem that if you, dear readers, find yourself in a similar situation as to the woman above, that I can only think of one sensible thing to do:  ask Jesus for the Grace of Longanimity or long-suffering.  If you are meant to stay in your particular diocese, peace will come, even in the midst of great suffering.

If, however, you cannot accept the local situation or stand it or stomach it, then pray about leaving.  Say, Jesus, give me longanimity and peace or open a door for us to leave this forsaken place.  And then patiently wait.  Accept whatever His will is.  Rest in His peace.  It’s out of your hands.

Ah, easier said than done!

But I’m serious about the leaving part too.  Some of you readers may know which path our family chose–we left a diocese that continually suppressed tradition.  We worked for 10 years there, trying to establish a TLM.  Eventually, it became evident that it was no longer God’s will for us to struggle under such a heavy, oppressive yoke.  We had no peace, only an everlastingly nagging feeling that we needed to leave, to seek refuge in another place where we might raise our family with the aid of faithful, courageous priests.  And oh, happy misfortune that finally gave us the courage to leave–Paul’s medical problems.  And then, my husband could have worked anywhere, but that a job miraculously opened up in the one place with an abundance of Latin Masses and a beautiful, traditional school.

Indeed, we know of others moving too.  Just two days ago, I spoke with two different men after Mass.  One was nearly crying because he couldn’t believe the courageous things coming out of our priest’s mouth during his homily.  This man drove hours and hours with his family to hear him.  This man is now in the process of moving his family here because of the unlawful things happening in his home diocese.

The other man I spoke to was telling us about his brother, who is also hoping to move his family here to escape the madness in California.

Dr. Taylor Marshall speaks about all this HERE.  He calls it the “Great Catholic Migration.”

But of course that path isn’t for everybody, which is why I mention asking Jesus for peace–for the grace to accept your situation too.  And longanimity–the grace of long-suffering.  He will give it; only beg for it!  Jesus may have His reasons for keeping you in your particular diocese, for who else would carry out His plans?  He needs faithful men and women everywhere after all.

I wish I had greater insights to give, for I’m afraid I’m falling short.  I can only end by saying stay close to Jesus.  He loves you.  He cares deeply about you.  You are never alone!

Call Me Catholic

Kneeling in the Rain

A few weeks ago I was present at a Mass that I’ll never forget.  I don’t think the children will either.

It was during Lent, when our country quickly began shutting down all around us, and our bishops began closing churches and denying the sacraments.  It was surreal to be abandoned like that.  I mean, to have bishops willingly label the Church as “nonessential” overnight, for a virus.

The Mass, however, the Mass we attended that morning was beautiful.  We hiked up a hill in the rain with our umbrellas, knowing that we would only have to remain in the rain, as the government had deemed the church “unsafe” and “nonessential.”  And so we stood with about 15 other people in the pouring rain.

The old friar celebrating the TLM had set up a screen in the piazza, under an overhang, so that we could pray along with him.  We all knelt on hard concrete in sopping puddles.  At communion time, a different friar came outside and distributed Holy Communion to a wet, cold flock.

It is difficult to tell you how I felt.  I was thinking of Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah.  Oh, Lord, here are about 25 faithful people!  Relent!  But I was thankful too–so very, very thankful–that those friars understood what was important.  They were doing everything they could to administer to our souls.  Indeed, another friar was hearing confessions during the Mass.  Deep emotions of gratitude welled up within me.  I felt so blessed; I knew the love of God in that moment–I felt it through those holy friars.

Furthermore, I wanted to embrace those other 15 people, who were willing to suffer for Jesus and endure that dismal, penitential rain.  And I loved my husband, for he held the baby and took the brunt of the weather, sheltering us as best as he could.

Who would ever have thought that we’d be in a situation like that?  And how, O Lord, will it end?

Ah, but life will never be the same.  A line has been drawn.

And our children are watching.  What will we do?

Call Me Catholic

Why I Receive Our Lord on the Tongue

A dear reader recently asked me if I might share a few reasons why I choose to receive our Lord on the tongue?  Yes, I will share.

But this is a love story.  It is not a heady, theological exposition, nor is it meant to “convert” anyone to receiving Him on the tongue.  No, this is a love story, wherein a soul abandoned our Lord, only to passionately seek Him again years later.

You must remember that I did not grow up in a prayerful family–a family that perhaps knelt together and prayed an Ave or closed the day with an Our Father.  No, prayer was absent, and we were not catechized.

Deep down, though, deep deep down, I knew our Lord.  I saw his goodness all around me–in the verdant trees surrounding our farm, in the muddy creek winding through the pasture, in the mourning of the doves, and yes, in the love of my family, for our parents loved us dearly.

Ah, but I shelved Him in time.  I came to college and thought why not?  Why should I not do these things I once thought harmful?  And so, I pushed Him out of sight and embraced The World.

This was a miserable and confusing time.  Once one ever steps into a dark path, it only leads to more and more darkness.  It can be no surprise that I jettisoned whatever faith I had left.  I no longer attended the Mass.

Many of you are familiar with my conversion story, and so I will not go into it here.  It is enough to say that even though I abandoned our Lord, He did not abandon me.  When I cried out to him from the bathroom floor of a hotel in Italy, He was already there, holding me.  When my friends whispered into my ear that I could not be Catholic, He held my face and said yes.

When I came back into the Church in 2004, it cost me everything–my friends, my family*, my fiancé, and my pride.  But I had Love itself.

But What About Receiving Our Lord?

It was at this time that I read a book about a mystic.  I don’t even remember who the mystic was, but I do remember her having a stark vision of bishops’ hands burning black in hell for encouraging the faithful to receive our Lord in the hand.  It was striking then; it is striking now.  That was when I began receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I figured, why chance it?  It was something like Pascal’s Wager for me.

Over time, however, I began to think of other things.  I thought of all the saints who for hundreds and hundreds of years knelt and received our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of St. Thomas Aquinas writing about the Eucharist–he never knowing anything but receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of the Fatima children kneeling before the Angel of Peace and receiving our Lord on the tongue.  Why wouldn’t I want to imitate these great saints?

And then, I married and a different thought entered my mind as my husband served for the TLM.  During Communion, he would hold the communion plate, which follows the Host as it travels from Father’s consecrated hands to the recipient’s mouth, and nearly every single Mass there were particles on this plate at the completion of Holy Communion.  Of course we know that Jesus is present in these particles, however small they may be, but I wondered, where were the communion plates at the Novus Ordo?  Surely nobody wants to neglect or trample on our Blessed Lord.

Oh, but what am I trying to say?  In the end, it has to be about love.  I can only say that my interior disposition is different when I receive Him kneeling and on the tongue.  It’s deeply humbling to lower oneself to the ground and be fed like a baby.  If an altar rail is present, one need not rush away chewing, but may take the time to receive Him and make a Sign of the Cross.  I don’t kneel for anybody or anything else after all–only for my King.  It is Holy; it is beautiful.  It is Love.

I’m afraid that my explanation may not be very coherent or comprehensive.  In other words, I realize I’ve fallen short.

Be sure to ask if you have any further questions.

If you’d like a few more thoughts on posture and the Eucharist, click HERE for an old post of mine.

*My family has since then been very supportive of my decisions.  How I love them!
Call Me Catholic

Communion in the Hand Debacle: Cardinal Sarah Weighs In

As Bishops finally begin to allow for public Masses, many of the Catholic faithful find themselves in a difficult situation, for now some bishops are demanding that reception of the Holy Eucharist be in the hand only.  This is a tragedy and a crisis of faith.

It should come as no surprise, however.  Remember this?Seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics believe bread, wine used in Communion are symbolic

According to this Pew Research Poll from last year, 69% of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Therefore, most bishops will have no problem forcing Catholics to abandon it’s age-old tradition of receiving our Lord on the tongue all in the name of Sanitation.

But for the rest of us, those who have come to believe in the Church’s teaching and have come to understand her reasons for receiving on the tongue, this will be a heart-rending moment.  What to do?

For those who wish to be assured of their right to receive on the tongue–and you do have that right, regardless of what some bullying bishops may say–I will only direct you HERE where Fr. Z hashes it out once again.  Let me repeat, you have a right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue, regardless of what your bishops or priests may be saying.

505px-Cardinal_Robert_Sarah_(cropped).JPG
Enter Cardinal Sarah.  (Picture from Wikimedia Commons.)

And if Fr. Z isn’t enough for you, read Cardinal Sarah’s latest statement HERE.  As many of you know, Sarah is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  Let me put a few of his pointed remarks below:

“Nobody can prevent a priest from confessing and giving communion, nobody has the right to stop him. The sacrament must be respected. So even if it is not possible to attend Masses, the faithful can ask to be confessed and to receive Communion.”

“In Mass the priest has to look at God, instead he is getting used to looking at the camera, as if it were a show. We cannot go on like this.”

“There is already a rule in the Church and this must be respected: the faithful are free to receive Communion in the mouth or hand.”

“…the heart of the problem is the crisis of faith in the priesthood.”

In short, should you find yourself in this difficult situation wherein your bishops or priests are not allowing you to receive on the tongue, remember to be calm.  Likely these bishops and priests were not formed well in seminary after all, and heavy-handed bishops can make priests’ lives miserable for not obeying their worldly whims and fancies.

In any case, after asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, consider pointing your priest or bishop to Cardinal Sarah’s latest statement.  If he is still obstinate and refuses to give you Holy Communion on the tongue, remain steadfast and pray in your pew.  Don’t capitulate.  You will be vindicated at a later time, maybe in the next world.