Call Me Catholic

Cardinal Burke Addresses Traditionis Custodes

Yesterday Raymond Cardinal Burke released a statement on Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes.

This is an historical moment in the Church. I would like to encourage all of you to do three things:

  1. Read Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and it’s accompanying letter HERE. (It’s not long.)
  2. Read Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes and his accompanying letter HERE. (Again, these are not long documents.)
  3. Think about the PNC, The Principle of Noncontradiction.
  4. Read Cardinal Burke’s statement.

It’s important as Catholics to be educated about these things.

Have your older children read these documents too; they are not long. Talk about them. If you need a short historical timeline, Dr. Taylor Marshall put together one HERE a few days ago. I had my children watch it.

Look, this drama isn’t going away. There is a crisis in the Church.

Of course there’s no need for hysteria and despair, but rather, prayer, fasting, and faith. For those of you being evicted from Traditional Latin Mass parishes, righteous anger is a real thing too. (See HERE for a recent Crisis Magazine article.)

Finally, if one is feeling despair, perhaps it’s time for a break from all media this weekend. Enjoy your families. Pray a rosary. Play badminton in the backyard with the children, then enjoy a glass of wine with your spouse.

Jesus has this.

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” Benedict XVI HERE.

Update: Bishop Schneider of Kazakstan has responded in an interview with Diane Montagna HERE. It’s excellent.

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The Tyranny of Traditionis Custodes

I have been asked repeatedly, if the Latin Masses in the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, have been shut down, as a result of Pope Francis’s latest Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes?

The short answer is, no, we have not been shut down or restricted in any way.

The reading of the Gospel last Sunday

Our bishop, however, has not yet commented publicly. We are hopeful, however, as all local TLMs continued as normal this last weekend. Also, the nearby bishops of Minneapolis/St. Paul (Hebda) and Madison (Hying), have released statements basically saying, “carry on.”

Time will tell for our diocese. Fortunately for us, we have multiple options, should the diocesan TLMs disappear.

I hope they never disappear, though. Not only is this Mass incredibly beautiful, but the formation for the young men serving at the altar is life changing.

Bishop Kagan Kicks Out Local TLM & Tells Them to Find Their Own Location

But I have heard from some of you, namely in the Bismarck diocese, where you don’t have options, that Bishop Kagan has not only kicked you out of your parish, but has also requested your contact information. And apparently, he did not give you his reason for doing so.

It makes one wonder if he’s intending to adhere to Pope Francis’s decree in article 3.1 wherein the local Bishop, “is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs.” If this is the case, it’s is astonishing and alarming.

If traditional Catholics are to be submitted to Communist-like examinations for orthodoxy and adherence to Vatican II, why not Novus Ordo Catholics? Perhaps they could be interrogated for their adherence to, say Humanae Vitae?

This is an obvious double standard. Sigh.

So it is. If this happens to be your situation, I am so sorry. I can only encourage you to continue in your labor for Tradition. For as Pope Benedict XVI declared in his 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

Think about that a minute…Benedict XVI in 2007 declares that the Traditional Latin Mass was never abrogated and that it is “great for us too,” while in 2021 Francis snatches it all away, desiring that the bishops of the world treat traditional Catholics as lepers and heretics.

Which is it? They both can’t be right. There is something called the Principle of Noncontradiction. Opposites can’t both be true. Rather, one is true and the other is false.

I would encourage you to read both Benedict’s 2007 Motu Proprio and Francis’s. Compare them for yourself.

July 22, 2021

Update For Diocese of Bismarck: Bishop Kagan Finally Issues a Statement

For those of you interested in my former diocese…

As you know, within 48 hours of Pope Francis issuing Traditionis Custodes, Bishop Kagan cast his local TLM to the breeze with nary a statement while also requesting the personal information of those parishioners. He had the local pastor make this eviction announcement and request of personal information. It was terrible.

Now, after a week wherein the faithful were scrambling for information, Bishop Kagan has finally decided to release a statement which was read at the former Traditional Latin Mass, now Novus Ordo, once again by the local pastor. It’s on the diocesan website HERE.

Essentially, Kagan will not be using their personal information for orthodoxy quizzes, and he has given the TLM community an abandoned oratory located even further in the country than their former location, which is in the middle of nowhere on gravel roads.

Book Review

Books in Brief: Summer Reading

Has anyone read anything good this summer? Today I’ll highlight a few I’ve enjoyed.

The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome

by Joseph Pearce

I recently finished Joseph Pearce’s The Quest for Shakespeare from Ignatius Press. In this book, Pearce gives all the evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. I’ve always wanted to read this book, since it was published in 2008, but I never got around to it until last week. As it turns out, I was missing out!

Did you know that Shakespeare’s father was a registered recusant Catholic? Or that Shakespeare was taught by Catholics and married by a Catholic priest? Think about that and remember it was verboten to be a Catholic in England at this time under the Great Persecutor, Queen Elizabeth.

Remember the great martyrs? St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion…among hundreds of others? If one wasn’t downright tortured for being Catholic, one was heavily fined for failing to attend Anglican services in the least. And guess how many Anglican services Shakespeare attended? None that we know of. And we know this because copious records were kept by the government for the express purpose of collecting fines to financially ruin Catholics.

I could go on with more interesting details, but you should just read it.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s Peter Kreeft’s endorsement, “In this book, he [Pearce] proves it [Shakespeare’s Catholicism] historically. I mean proves it.” Or, perhaps you’d like Anthony Esolen’s words? “Pearce shows that Shakespeare himself was such a dutiful servant, ever dutiful to the Queen, but to God first. He does not leap to conclusions, but builds a case that is meticulous, reasonable, and convincing.”

The Quest for Shakespeare would be a great read for your high schoolers too.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

This is another one of those books that I’ve always been meaning to read, but never did, until two weeks ago. I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching Rodger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music and loving it. (Naturally, as little girls, we shut the movie off after the wedding because the Nazi part was too scary.) I’m so glad I finally purchased the book and read about the real Trapp family.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was a sheer delight. There was much that the movie got right, and then, there was much that was left out too. Did you know that Maria and the Captain actually dined at a restaurant in Salzburg, sitting at a table near Hitler? (They were disgusted.) Or that after they fled to the United States, the infamous Heinrich Himmler–the main architect of the Holocaust– confiscated their estate and ruined their chapel?

Above all, I was impressed with the faith of this family. You, too, might find it inspiring. In the very least, the way in which Maria and Georg became engaged was downright sweet and comical. (The movie gets it wrong.)

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

I read this book a few years ago and had memories of laughing so hard, my sides ached. Naturally, I’d want to pick it up again, so I did.

Do you need a laugh? Do you come from a big family? Or have lots of children yourself? Then you’ll love this hilarious book.*

By the way, the book is way better than either the old movie or the new one. Both movies are a disgrace in comparison to the book.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent from Baronius Press

No, I did not read the whole catechism. Rather, my local book club, Rad Reads, read the section on marriage and then compared it to John Paul II’s catechism on marriage. It’s incredibly telling how different they are. We had lovely, heated discussions. We also read Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical, Casti Cannubii, which is also on marriage.

Now, if you want something interesting to read with your husband, pick up the Catechism of the Council of Trent, flip to the fifteen or so pages written specifically on the Sacrament of Marriage, and pour yourself a glass of wine. You won’t be disappointed.

What am I reading now?

I’m currently reading Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, an FSSP priest, for my next Rad Reads discussion. This book details the theological meaning behind different actions and prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass. I’m really enjoying it so far.

I also hope to peruse another Dorothy Sayers detective fiction soon.

How about you?

*Note: I’d only recommend this book to a mature audience, as the older daughters tend to be worldly, etc. Also, unfortunately, there are problems with the Second Commandment.

Book Review

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and SSPX

I just finished reading Bernard Tissier de Mallerais’s The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X.

I’ve always wanted to read this book, as I’ve always been interested in the origins and life of this infamous, traditional society. Call me crazy, but I admire their pluck and nerve. May God bless them all!

Since I wanted to read this MAMMOTH book, I thought, hey, why not invite others too? So, I gathered a group of curious ladies and away we went. (By the way, if you’ve ever been burning to read a book, but need motivation, get others to read it with you. It’s much more fun.)

TWO inches thick.

Did I mention that this book is HUGE and expensive? Due to its extreme FATNESS and excessive expense, some of us are sharing, myself included. This meant I had to read the book double-quick in order to pass it along.

One member of our group had the genius idea to simply call the local SSPX priory (is that what they’re called?) and ask for a cheaper copy. She got hers for $10 less at their bookstore, versus buying it online. Smart woman.

My hardcover copy. I paid an arm and a leg for it. Fortunately it was worth it.

This 642 page book was fascinating, even if it read a bit like a history book. It’s even got maps, charts, pictures, and footnotes along with important letters and documents in the back with a timeline, bibliography, and index. All very organized and thorough, just as one would expect from SSPXers.

Just What Is This Book About?

We began our book club discussion of Marcel Lefebvre with first reading a bit from a completely different book, Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s, Christus Vincit. Schneider has a whole chapter dedicated to the Society of St. Pius X, and we wanted a perspective from somebody we trusted in the Church.

Now, this is important, and read it slowly…the Society for St. Pius X is NOT in schism. I know this will shock some of you, but it’s true. Schneider says, “They are already in communion with the Church, since they recognize the current pope, mention him in the Canon, pray for him publicly, and pray for the local diocesan bishop. The SSPX has received faculties for absolution from the pope, and the priests of the SSPX may now obtain faculties from the diocesan bishop or from the parish priest canonically to assist at marriages…the members of the SSPX are not excommunicated.” (See page 149.)

This was important for us ladies to understand before diving into this fascinating history, which begins with Marcel’s parents in northern France and details his deeply Catholic upbringing, all the way through seminary, priesthood, missionary life in Africa, the second Vatican Council, the chaos which resulted from it, the birth of his priestly society, and then his death in a Swiss hospital.

Really, after reading it, I have more respect for those priests and religious who fought for tradition. Incidentally, and perhaps in spite of the text itself, I couldn’t help admiring Cardinal Ratzinger’s role in negotiating between Pope John Paul II and Lefebvre. What an undertaking!

Lefebvre met everybody, including Padre Pio. See upper left picture wherein Padre Pio kisses Lefebvre’s ring.

I don’t have time to summarize and analyze this immense book, however. I can only say, that if you’re curious about the second Vatican Council or those controversial ordinations in 1988 or anything else related to traditional things, take out a loan and buy the book.

Timely Mention

Lastly, I was reading our latest issue of The Remnant and lo and behold! On page 8, there’s an entire article on the importance of recognizing the role of SSPX in paving the way for other traditional groups like the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King (ICKSP). The author, Robert Morrison, even quoted de Mallerais’s biography of Lefebvre. That was just fun to read.

Awfully small, I know. Can you see it?

What am I reading next?

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for our local Well-Read Mom book club.

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Palm Sunday Penitential Procession

As we officially enter Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, I’m offering a quick photo post of our Penitential Procession. It was a bit breezy outside, but beautiful nonetheless.

As the procession turned a corner, I quickly snapped these shots. You can see Fr. Altman near the stop sign. The choir, which you cannot see, is near the turn, followed by the rest of the flock–all holding palm branches.

Check out that smoke from the thurible. During the Mass, which followed, the incense was so thick, I felt veiled in mystery, literally. Father likes to lay it on thick.

The procession ends at the church doors with the choir chanting Gloria Laus et Honor. Then, father strikes the doors with the end of the processional cross, which is a pre-55* liturgical action, and represents Christ breaking open the doors of heaven by the power of the cross.

Truly, if you’ve never attended a Traditional Latin Mass Holy Week, give it a shot. It’s glorious.

May God bless you this coming week!

*Pre-55 refers to the Holy Week that the Church celebrated for hundreds of years until Annibale Bugnini began his liturgical tinkering, ultimately ending with the 1970 Novus Ordo Missae.

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Septuagesima Sunday is Tomorrow

Tomorrow 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 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.  Tomorrow, we’ll be at Septuagesima.

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 the 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 learning to pray the breviary? Lauds? Compline?
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a daily 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.

But NOT if you’re pregnant or nursing. Goodness, mothers, be careful with this one. I’ve written about it before. Here.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.

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% and so on.

A true tithe would be a full 10% of your income, however.  (The word tithe means one tenth.) If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then give 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? Or St. Therese the Little Flower? Or Padre Pio?

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. Who cares, you know? Everyone has to start somewhere.

Some of you, however, may not have access to any Mass or Sacraments at all, and my heart breaks for you. Truly. Just the other day I received an email from a gentleman in South Africa. They are starving for Truth there. For that matter, people are starving for Truth everywhere. In Canada, too. For example, there’s this piece written by one of my favorite writers at OnePeterFive, Dan Millette. My heart breaks for his family. What a difficult situation.

In any event, God does know of your particular situations, and He cares.

May God bless you all this Lent.

*Want more about Septuagesima Sunday? Click HERE for a piece at New Liturgical Movement

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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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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.

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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!

 

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.

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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

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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.

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It has great pictures too.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

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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 men 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!