Book Review

Books in Brief: Willa Cather, Miguel Pro, & Agatha Christie

I’ve read a few books recently.  If you’re interested, my thoughts are below.

IMG_2746

Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors.  The way she writes about the land–the prairie in particular–is deeply moving.  I suppose it’s because I grew up on a farm, and I have vivid memories of climbing grain bins only to watch the sun set on acres and acres of corn.

But it’s not just the way in which Cather writes about land, though, that is admirable.  No, it’s the way in which she writes about people, especially those early settlers.  Her stories remind me of my ancestors and their stories.

Cather knew these farmers and immigrants–for she was one of them–and she was able to give them an unforgettable voice–a dolorous voice, for their lives were full of suffering, which brings me around to Song of the Lark.  In this novel, my favorite characters were just those who couldn’t seem to pull it together–Professor Wunsch especially, but also Fritz Kohler and perhaps Mrs. Tellamantez.

This novel, though, was my least favorite Willa Cather novel.  I didn’t like Thea Kronborg, and I didn’t like Fred Ottenburg.  In the end, Thea puts her career, wealth, and fame over her mother’s dying wish to see her one last time, and Fred wants to justify lying to Thea in order to further Thea’s career.  (Do you know, Fred reminded me of Mr. Rochester from that excellent novel Jane Eyre?  You’ll recall both men had secret wives and both thought that the means could justify the end, which is stupid and wrong.)

In short, however, I was disappointed in Song of the Lark.  While I enjoyed her descriptions of Moonstone and the surrounding Colorado territory, I just couldn’t muster up enough sympathy or compassion for Thea.

But for those of you unfamiliar with Cather, take heart!  Read her other works, especially Death Comes For the Archbishop.  Now that’s an exceptional book.

Father Miguel Pro by Gerald Muller

IMG_2748

Our family’s Saint of the Year is Miguel Pro.  Naturally I thought it a good idea to read up on him, and so I bought this Ignatius Press book at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has a side altar dedicated to him.

I really enjoyed reading this book and so did the rest of my family.  In fact, we had to make a rule: No One Takes That Book Out of the Living Room Until Mom is Done Reading It!

Well, I finished it, and I have a much deeper appreciation for this priest who survived a few years of the terrible Mexican Revolution in the 1920s wherein churches were desecrated, nuns were raped, and priests were murdered.  Fr. Miguel Pro was eventually hunted down too and shot.

I highly recommend this short book for your whole family.

IMG_2749
It has great pictures too.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

IMG_2747

My daughter is taking a British Literature class this summer wherein all the novels are murder mysteries.  Yikes.  She’ll be reading the likes of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and G. K. Chesterton.

Now I’ve never read an Agatha Christie novel.  Up until this week, the only thing I knew about Christie was the fact that she signed the infamous 1971 “Agatha Christie Indult,” wherein Pope Paul VI granted England and Wales permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.

Apparently Christie, who was not even a Catholic, objected to the promulgation of the Novus Ordo due to cultural and aesthetic reasons.  She signed with the likes of Graham Greene.  Supposedly Paul VI saw her name and exclaimed, “Ah, Agatha Christie!”

So as I was saying, I was motivated to snatch up The Murder of Roger Ackroyd before The Eldest got to it.  Just what is all this fuss about Agatha Christie in the twentieth-century anyway? Apparently she’s the most widely published author of all time, excluding the Bible and Shakespeare.

And how was it?  Reading a murder-mystery novel?

I can’t say it’s my cup of tea, as the British saying goes.  Even though The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was entertaining, I felt like I was supposed to use my brain and try to solve the thing while reading it.  Now I’m feeling old, and there were just too many parlourmaids and butlers to keep track of and too many open windows and missing objects and murder motives and such too.  Goodness.

I can handle playing the board-game Clue, but that’s the extent of my ability to solve a murder.  So, I’ll have to leave it to sharper blades in the drawer to tackle these books.

Call Me Catholic

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

Passion Sunday and Veiling Images

This Sunday is Passion Sunday.  Get your purple cloth ready!

Since many of us are on Mandatory House Arrest–how very penitential–veiling may be difficult to do, if you don’t already have your supplies ready to go.  But, there’s no need to fret after all.  I’m sure Jesus will understand if your images are veiled with some bathroom towels or an old sheet!

In any case I’ll leave you with 3 things:

  1. Here’s our mantel, which I prepared a few days early:

    IMG_2376.jpg
    In our home, I only veil the images where we gather as a family to pray, which happens to be the living room.
  2. Earlier today, when I was minding my own business and scrambling eggs, I suddenly heard my husband laughing from our bedroom, where his makeshift office is located.  Something was obviously so hilarious that he had to call me up.  “Kim, you’ve got to see this.”  He was “on break” and watching THIS 1987 video of Rick Astley dancing.  It’s ridiculous, but made me smile.  I remember that song after all.
  3. Lastly, here’s my post from last year, for those of you unfamiliar with the beautiful tradition of veiling.

My Old Post From Last Year: Passion Sunday

There’s some crazy stuff in the Old Calendar that is just interesting to learn about.  My husband is forever telling me this.  (By Old Calendar I mean those things connected to the Traditional Latin Mass.)

For example, this coming Sunday is called Passion Sunday.  It always falls on the Sunday immediately before Palm Sunday and serves to move our thoughts toward the Passion and death of Christ.  (In the New Calendar, this Sunday is called the Fifth Sunday of Lent.)

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

Now I know that the prayers of the Mass are supposed to reflect the liturgical season the Church is observing, but there’s some real beauty and depth to be found in the prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) that I’ve never noticed before.  I’ll give you one example.

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday it’s omitted and will be until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria.  Both are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

Sometimes this Sunday is also called “Judica Sunday.”  Judica being Latin for the opening word of Psalm 42, “Judge.”

It’s amazing how it all comes together.  I’ve got a lot to learn.

Veiling of Images

In any case, my children always look forward to Passion Sunday, for my family likes to observe a unique tradition that all churches used to do, and many still do.  We veil our images with purple cloth.

IMG_1254.jpg
Here’s our fireplace mantel.  Even though we still have two days to go, I went ahead with the purple anyway.

This tradition began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

So if you’ve never done it before, try veiling a couple of images in your home.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

Call Me Catholic

His Mother is Weeping

Dear Readers,

This makes my heart weep.  I have no doubt Our Lady is weeping.  I wish I had the words to describe my feelings.  I don’t.  May God bless and protect that priest.

May more priests, and especially bishops, be inspired by his example.

And what about the children?  They so want to help too.  Here are a few of my children this morning:

IMG_2365.jpg

They drew a gigantic rosary on our driveway for all and sundry to see.  They also drew St. Michael killing Coronavirus.

IMG_2366.jpg

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

St. Charles Borromeo, pray for us.

St. Gregory the Great, pray for us.

St. Miguel Pro, pray for us.

Lastly, I found THIS article by canon lawyer Cathy Caridi interesting.  I’m glad people are beginning to talk about these things.

 

Call Me Catholic

Septuagesima Sunday is Coming

This Sunday is Septuagesima Sunday–in the Old Calendar.  Kind of a funny name, no?  It means that we’re on the threshold of Lent.  Are you ready?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent, and they have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  This next Sunday, we’ll be at Septuagesima.

Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  Let’s start preparing.

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

During these fore-lenten Sundays, my husband and I like to begin preparing for Lent.  We take a look at the classic 3 pillars of lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Below I’ll offer a few thoughts for you all to consider.

Prayer:

  1. Do you set aside a time to pray, every single day?  If not, what’s stopping you?
  2. For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?
  3. Or how about praying Compline in the evenings?
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a family rosary?
  6. Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?
  7. And finally, go to confession!  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every other week or so.
800px-Artgate_Fondazione_Cariplo_-_Molteni_Giuseppe,_La_confessione.jpg
Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting:

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small.  Give up one meal a week.  If you’re accustomed to weekly fasting, try two days a week.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.  If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%.  For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop.  This would be a true 10% tithe.  (The word tithe means one tenth.)

If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.  And tithe that bonus too.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you!  Just take the first step.

And Lastly, a Lenten Challenge

Have you ever wondered what it was like for most Catholics throughout the history of our Church to pray the Mass?  I mean, what was it like for St. Catherine of Siena to receive the Eucharist?    Or which Mass inspired the great writings of St. Thomas Aquinas?  Or the great missionaries?

For nearly 2000 years Catholics have been worshipping the same way at the Latin Mass, and if you’ve got one near you, check it out.  Don’t worry about not understanding everything.  Most places have hand missals, if you’d like to follow along.  (But you don’t have to.)

If you live around here, we’ve a few options.  Try the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe at 9:30am.  Or St. James the Less parish at 11am.  We’ll be there.

Most Popular Posts

Top 2 Books of 2019: Marshall & Schneider

Over the next few days, I’m going to offer some of my most popular posts from 2019.  Today I’m featuring Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Infiltration and Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Christus Vincit.

Have you read them yet?  If not, I promise it’s worth it.

Without further ado…

Infiltration by Dr. Taylor Marshall

I’ve been wondering, just how in the world did we get such a character as Ex-Cardinal McCarrick serving in the Church anyway?

Furthermore, why do we have a pope that refuses to speak clearly and won’t defend traditional orthodoxy?

For that matter, why do most Catholics not even believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?

About a year ago, my husband and I stumbled upon Dr. Taylor Marshall’s YouTube videos, wherein he and Timothy Gordon began exploring these questions.  It was refreshing.  They were asking all the same questions that my husband and I were asking.  The only difference was, they actually did some research.  In fact, Dr. Taylor Marshall did a lot of research and has recently released a book titled Infiltration.

Infiltration*

I just finished reading this book, and I think you should all buy a copy and get at it.  Click HERE for it on Amazon.

I will warn you, however.  Marshall doesn’t spare the likes of Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict the XVI.  This might upset those of you inclined to think that neither of these men made any mistakes.

Nevertheless…

Top Ten Reasons to Read Infiltration:

  1. This book is essentially a history book.  Now I went to public school, and I didn’t learn a thing in my history classes, so I really appreciated Dr. Marshall outlining the last 150 years of popes, freemasons, the Second Vatican Council, and the Church.
  2. Ever heard of Bella Dodd?  She was a former communist agent who worked tirelessly to to infiltrate the Catholic Church in the 1930s, and boy did she succeed.  She testified before the U.S. House Committee in 1953 that in the U.S. alone, they put   1100 of their men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.  Four of those men eventually became cardinals.
  3. Incidentally, she later renounced her Communism and was received back into the Church by none other than Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  That whole chapter is unbelievable.
  4. Anyone ever wonder about those individuals responsible for creating the Novus Ordo?  Marshall does great work showing us what these guys were up to.  Annibale Bugnini…not a great man.
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien will always be dear to my heart.  Now I’ve heard of his response to the Novus Ordo before, but any book that highlights it, is a must-read.  For those of you unfamiliar with what Tolkien thought of the New Mass, be sure to read Chapter 23.
  6. Tolkien wasn’t the only famous person not enthusiastic about the changes after the Second Vatican Council.  Novelist Agatha Christie, who wasn’t even a Catholic, lamented the destruction of the liturgy for cultural and literary reasons.  And Pope Paul VI granted an indult to the Cardinal of Westminster because of her.
  7. Most people ignorantly brush off Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X as a bunch of crazy whackos.  In reality, the real situation is much more complicated.  Marshall does a great job of detailing this movement.
  8. Have you ever wondered about Our Lady of La Salette?  Or the third secret of Fatima?  Mary seems to play an important role in these last 100 years of history.
  9. And how about Communion in the hand?  Where did that come from?  Did you know that the Protestant reformers–Luther, Calvin, Cranmer–all insisted that people receive in the hand because it signified that the Eucharist was just ordinary bread?  Which is why, as Catholics, we say Lex orandi, lex credendi.  Our actions and postures matter.
  10. Finally, you need to buy your husband a Father’s Day gift anyway.  So click HERE for it on Amazon.
*Notice who wrote the forward??  Yep, none other than Bishop Athanasius Schneider.  Now there’s a man!

Best Book of 2019:

Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Christus Vinvit

Angelico Press recently released Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age this last September.  Click HERE for it on Amazon.

IMG_1830.jpg

I am so thankful to God and to Bishop Schneider for this clear and moving account of the affairs in the Church.  Seriously, this is the best book I’ve read in a long while.

I came across this book in an interesting manner.  Of course I had heard about it’s coming release this last summer, but what with Paul’s medical problems, I couldn’t pay much attention.  Then a friend, who knew how our family suffered by lack of a regular Traditional Latin Mass in our diocese, read this book and found much hope in it.  She mailed me a copy by way of a gift.

The book, however, sat on my shelf for about a month, for the simple reason that I was trying to force feed myself Cardinal Sarah’s book.  (Not worth it, by the way.)

Then one night I couldn’t sleep.  As this happens to me a lot, I’ve tried to just accept it and be grateful for it.

I have a plan, though, for when it does strike:

  1. If I’ve been lying there for about 15 minutes or so, I force myself to get up.  (I hate getting out of bed.)
  2. Then I walk to the living room and kneel before our icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in complete darkness and cold.
  3. I tell Jesus what’s on my mind, and He looks at me.
  4. Then I pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for all my intentions.

Normally I can then walk back to bed and fall fast asleep.  But not this night.  No, I was wide awake.  So I sat on the couch in complete darkness and watched the stars out of the window.  It was quiet and beautiful.

Then I remembered Schneider’s book, sitting on my bookshelf.  I picked it up, out of curiosity, and couldn’t believe the story I was soon reading.  The story of a family surviving cruel and inhumane gulag camps in the Ural Mountains.  The story of persecution and faith in communist Russia.  The story of a young man experiencing the liberal craziness of 1970s Germany.  The story of a bishop shepherding his flock in the midst of raving wolves.

I’m telling you, it’s gripping.  It’s clear.  It’s prophetic.

It’s the best book I’ve read all year.

Call Me Catholic

Cardinal Burke Holds Nothing Back

Last weekend my husband and I flew out to La Crosse to buy a house.  His Eminence the Most Reverend Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke just happened to be there too.  He was celebrating a Pontifical Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  As neither of us had ever attended a Solemn Pontifical Mass, we hiked up that hill with glee and anticipation.

We were not disappointed.

Thankfully we were about an hour and half early, as it was a packed house.  There were men in suits, women in veils, babies in slings, and young people everywhere.  The Choir from St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau was practicing Anton Bruckner’s Ave Maria, and I was overcome with emotion.  By the time the men sang the third Jesu, I had goosebumps from my head to my foot.  After being starved for liturgical beauty nearly all my life, I could no longer check my tears.  Here, here was the way one ought to experience the Mass!

Dear Readers, if you ever have an opportunity to attend such a Mass, jump at it!

IMG_1983.jpg
Here is Cardinal Burke as he processed in, giving blessings.  (Sorry about the bad photo.)

In any case, Cardinal Burke didn’t hold anything back in his homily either.  He used such terms as “Brood of Vipers” and “Accursed” to describe those in the Church who are allowing such evils to happen as pachamama worship and widespread doctrinal confusion.  He was quiet, solemn, and clear.  And I wanted to stand up and cheer.

IMG_1984.jpg
Here he is, formally vesting for Mass.  Look to the left for the red hat.

May God bless Cardinal Burke!

And just for fun…

Here are the children, busy at work two days ago.  They built the biggest snow fort I’ve ever been in.  Gotta love Christmas break.

IMG_1996.jpg

Book Review, Most Popular Posts

Book of the Year: Schneider’s Christus Vincit

Angelico Press recently released Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age this last September.  Click HERE for it on Amazon.

IMG_1830.jpg

I am so thankful to God and to Bishop Schneider for this clear and moving account of the affairs in the Church.  Seriously, this is the best book I’ve read in a long while.

I came across this book in an interesting manner.  Of course I had heard about it’s coming release this last summer, but what with Paul’s medical problems, I couldn’t pay much attention.  Then a friend, who knew how our family suffered by lack of a regular Traditional Latin Mass in our diocese, read this book and found much hope in it.  She mailed me a copy by way of a gift.

The book, however, sat on my shelf for about a month, for the simple reason that I was trying to force feed myself Cardinal Sarah’s book.  (Not worth it, by the way.)

Then one night I couldn’t sleep.  As this happens to me a lot, I’ve tried to just accept it and be grateful for it.

I have a plan, though, for when it does strike:

  1. If I’ve been lying there for about 15 minutes or so, I force myself to get up.  (I hate getting out of bed.)
  2. Then I walk to the living room and kneel before our icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in complete darkness and cold.
  3. I tell Jesus what’s on my mind, and He looks at me.
  4. Then I pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for all my intentions.

Normally I can then walk back to bed and fall fast asleep.  But not this night.  No, I was wide awake.  So I sat on the couch in complete darkness and watched the stars out of the window.  It was quiet and beautiful.

Then I remembered Schneider’s book, sitting on my bookshelf.  I picked it up, out of curiosity, and couldn’t believe the story I was soon reading.  The story of a family surviving cruel and inhumane gulag camps in the Ural Mountains.  The story of persecution and faith in communist Russia.  The story of a young man experiencing the liberal craziness of 1970s Germany.  The story of a bishop shepherding his flock in the midst of raving wolves.

I’m telling you, it’s gripping.  It’s clear.  It’s prophetic.

It’s the best book I’ve read all year.

Parting Note

I’ll be on silent retreat for 4 days, starting Thursday.  I am looking forward to it, as it’s been 2 years, I think, since I’ve had the opportunity of attending one.

Have you ever been on silent retreat?  If not, I recommend it.  I know of no one who has ever regretted giving time to God in this way.

Call Me Catholic

Passion Sunday and Veiling Images

There’s some crazy stuff in the Old Calendar that is just interesting to learn about.  My husband is forever telling me this.  (By Old Calendar I mean those things connected to the Traditional Latin Mass.)

For example, this coming Sunday is called Passion Sunday.  It always falls on the Sunday immediately before Palm Sunday and serves to move our thoughts toward the Passion and death of Christ.  (In the New Calendar, this Sunday is called the Fifth Sunday of Lent.)

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

Now I know that the prayers of the Mass are supposed to reflect the liturgical season the Church is observing, but there’s some real beauty and depth to be found in the prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) that I’ve never noticed before.  I’ll give you one example.

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday it’s omitted and will be until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria.  Both are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

Sometimes this Sunday is also called “Judica Sunday.”  Judica being Latin for the opening word of Psalm 42, “Judge.”

It’s amazing how it all comes together.  I’ve got a lot to learn.

Veiling of Images

In any case, my children always look forward to Passion Sunday, for my family likes to observe a unique tradition that all churches used to do, and many still do.  We veil our images with purple cloth.

IMG_1254.jpg
Here’s our fireplace mantel.  Even though we still have two days to go, I went ahead with the purple anyway.

This tradition began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

So if you’ve never done it before, try veiling a couple of images in your home.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

Call Me Catholic

It’s Sexagesima Sunday

Yep, this Sunday is Sexagesima Sunday, in the Old Calendar.  Kind of a funny name, no?  It means that we’re on the threshold of Lent.  Are you ready?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent, and they have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  This next Sunday, we’ll be at Sexagesima.  Clear as mud?

Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  Let’s start preparing.

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

During these fore-lenten Sundays, my husband and I like to begin preparing for Lent.  We take a look at the classic 3 pillars of lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Below I’ll offer a few thoughts for you all to consider.

Prayer:

  1. Do you set aside a time to pray, every single day?  If not, what’s stopping you?
  2. For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?
  3. Or how about praying Compline in the evenings?  (There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber.)
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a family rosary?
  6. Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?
  7. And finally, go to confession!  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every week or so.
800px-Artgate_Fondazione_Cariplo_-_Molteni_Giuseppe,_La_confessione.jpg
Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting:

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small  Give up one meal a week.

If you’re accustomed to weekly fasting, try two days a week.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.  If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%.  For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop.  This would be a true 10% tithe.  (The word tithe means one tenth.)

If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.  And tithe that bonus too.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you!  Just take the first step.

And Lastly, a Lenten Challenge

Have you ever wondered what it was like for most Catholics throughout the history of our Church to pray the Mass?  I mean, what was it like for St. Catherine of Siena to receive the Eucharist?    Or which Mass inspired the great writings of St. Thomas Aquinas?  Or the great missionaries?

For nearly 2000 years Catholics have been worshipping the same way at the Latin Mass, and if you’ve got one near you, check it out.  Don’t worry about not understanding everything.  Most places have hand missals, if you’d like to follow along.  (But you don’t have to.)

If you live around here, we’ve got one this Sunday at Christ the King Church in Mandan at 11:30.  I’d love to see you there.

Call Me Catholic

TLM Question and Response

[Note:  For whatever evil reason, my computer will not let me format the paragraphs correctly on this post.  My sincere apologies to all of you!]

Occasionally I get emails and questions from you Readers.  Recently the following was sent to me:

“If you don’t mind my asking:  other than prayer and fasting (!),  what have you found most helpful in working toward the goal of a Latin Mass?  Whom do you work with, make contacts with, and how do you present the idea to the parish or the diocese?  I’m struggling to find inroads to accomplish this here where I’m at.  Thanks for whatever you can share.”

First of all, thank you, dear Reader, for the question!  I do have a few thoughts and ideas. For those of you who are interested, read on.  For those of you who are not, I’ll see you next post.

Missa_tridentina_002.jpg
Have you ever been to a TLM?  It’s awesome.  This picture comes from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

Traditional Latin Mass Question and Response

In our diocese, we’ve been working for about ten years to get a Traditional Latin Mass here every Sunday, and we’re still not there!  (We currently have a priest willing to celebrate every fourth Sunday at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan.)  So I can fully understand your plight, and here’s what I have to offer.
Yes, of course prayer and fasting should be your top priority in promoting the Latin Mass.  While I am not always able to fast because I’m  A. wimpy,  B. usually pregnant, or  C.  forever nursing a baby, my husband in particular is always fasting for this very thing.  In particular, he fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays for this intention (and others).
I point this out not to embarrass him, which I know I just did, but because many of us simply need to hear that there are real men out there actually sacrificing for their families in a tangible way.  They are fasting.  My husband thinks that the Latin Mass is worth fighting for on a spiritual level.  So he really abstains from food two days a week, and it’s hard some days, especially when the office brings in donuts and pizza.
In any case, the single most important thing, after prayer and fasting, is to have a priest who either wants to celebrate the Extraordinary Form, or who is willing to learn.  And this is likely out of your hands.  Fortunately here, about ten years ago, a good friend of mine was ordained, and he wanted to learn.  So we made it happen.  We paid for him to go to Chicago, to St. John Cantius, to learn.  When he returned, he was able to offer weekly Friday masses.  After a few years, he was transferred, but another priest here offered to celebrate the monthly Sunday mass.
Along the way, we’ve had to pay for other things – vestments, books, other liturgical items.  I point this out because if you want it to happen, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible.  Pay for everything.  Willingly.  Find others who will help, if possible.
Not only should you be willing to pay for everything, but you also should be willing to help out in every way possible too.  Fortunately we’ve got some great families around here who help out at every Mass.  For example, a couple of dads are permanent ushers.  My husband trains all the altar boys and is permanent sacristan.  You want it; you gotta do it.
And it’s not always easy.  Do I like the fact that my husband is busy for a full half hour before every Mass and at least that after Mass?  Nope.  Because it means that I’ve got to herd and corral 7 children by myself while we wait for him.  But if it means worshipping at a TLM, bring it on.
Also, what about music?  The beautiful thing about the TLM is that one need not suffer through horrible, Marty Haugen jingles complete with guitars and tambourines.  Thank God.  But it isn’t always easy to find musicians.  When you do, pay them well, if possible, and send them yearly to the Sacred Music Colloquium put on by the Church Music Association of America.  In fact, go yourself.  You won’t regret it.
Finally, there are two more things you can do.  Write a brief letter to your bishop kindly requesting a TLM.  Do it annually until it happens.  And don’t expect results over night.  (For anyone interested, I’d be happy to show you an example of a letter.  Drop me a line.) And secondly, keep educating yourself on the TLM.  The resources are inexhaustible.  I’d particularly recommend anything by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski.
Speaking of Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, have you read this yet?
IMG_0942 2.jpg
It’s next on my list.  HERE’s a good review of it.

Lastly, take heart, dear Reader!  So many more people are looking for a deeper, richer experience at Mass.  All over the world there has been an upsurge in both TLM Mass attendance and those desiring to attend a TLM.  Hang in there.  We’re a young crowd with lots of babies.  It’s not going away.

P.S.  I realize there’s a formatting issue with my paragraphs on this post.  I’ll see if I can’t get my Web Master to take a look at it.  My apologies for any difficulties in reading.

 

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday on Saturday

In spite of all the Church Scandal, life goes on.  How was your week?  Here are a few highlights from mine.

  1. I was spoiled rotten on Thanksgiving Day.  I barely had to make anything – just frog-eye salad.  And we feasted like kings and drank good wine.  God is very good to us.  And I have the best in-laws ever.
  2. The other day The Eldest was dancing around with Little Sister when, SMACK!  Little Sister’s eye met a chair.  Grandma added purple eye shadow to the other eye to balance things out.  And then we took a picture of her because she’s still so cute.  Can you guess which eye is injured and which is fake?
IMG_0821.jpg
Ah!  They’re putting make-up on me!

3.  The 2019 Calendars from Tan Publishing are out.  Last year they had a calendar featuring monks brewing beer and drinking wine.  For example, here’s this month’s picture from 2018:

IMG_0846.jpg

 

Can you read the quotation in the bottom righthand corner?  It’s a Medieval German saying.  “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.”  Hilarious.

Anyway, this year I’ve noticed that Tan has a 2019 calendar titled, Defending Christendom.  You bet I’m going to order it.  Click HERE to see it at Tan.

4.  As yesterday was Black Friday, I will offer a gift idea for lego-loving children.  A friend of mine sent me a link to this.  It’s the Last Supper built with legos.  We don’t own it, but we do own this one, which is Fr. Leopold’s Mass, and it’s great.

If any of you do own the Last Supper lego kit, drop a line below in the comments.  I’d like to hear if it’s a good set.

5.  And finally, do you live anywhere near the Bismarck/Mandan metropolitan area?  If so, come experience the Mass of the Ages, otherwise known at the Traditional Latin Mass, this Sunday at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan, ND, at 11:30am.  I’d love to meet you!