Christmas Cards to the Pope and Pope Emeritus

Many people are working on their Christmas cards now that Thanksgiving has passed – I know I’m trying to get my address list finalized!

If you’d like to send Christmas greetings to Pope Francis and/or Pope Emeritus Benedict, these are the addresses that you may use:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Domus Sanctae Marthae
00120 Vatican City-State

His Holiness, Pope Emeritus
Benedict XVI
Mater Ecclesiae Monastery
00120 Vatican City-State

Traditionally, the Vatican Secretariat of State (which handles a lot of the incoming mail) will send a Christmas holy card in gratitude for the greetings sent to the Holy Father. I can’t guarantee that you will get one, but this is what happened in the past. And of course, it’s not known for certain if the Pope will ever get to see your card, but it is the thought that counts and there is the chance that he will!

It’s nice also to send a Christmas card to your local bishop and your parish priest (and to anyone else whose “family” is the Church – so, local convents/monasteries as well)!

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Shocking Desecration

In Spain, a deeply troubled “artist” designed a blasphemous “work of art” using 242 consecrated hosts that he pilfered by attending Masses over a period of time and receiving Holy Communion in the hand. (One news source here.)

With those consecrated hosts, he spelled the word “pederastia” (English: pederasty).

What is also shocking is that the Bishop of the place, though issuing a strongly-worded condemnation (in Spanish), has only indicated one solitary Mass of reparation in the face of such a grave scandal! No word in his public statement about the issue of communion in the hand, either!

I’m genuinely surprised that he didn’t order a series of Masses of reparation in every parish in the diocese – or that there even be Eucharistic processions in reparation for such a grave offense. He might also have instructed all the parishes to have ushers to keep an eye on those receiving in the hand, to ensure they consumed the host (so that things like this could not happen again). He might have issued a catechesis on why it is better to receive on the tongue in the first place and why communion in the hand is generally ill-advised practice, even setting grave abuses like this aside.

Now I know that I’m not there in Spain and that more might be happening on the local level. But in today’s day and age, news of such scandals travel the globe at break-neck speed. There needs to be a vigorous public response. This is not just an offense against the Faith; it’s a grave assault against our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is really and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament!

Let us pray! Join me in making some acts of reparation?

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A Thank You

Thank you to MAB for the book!

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Pray for Paris

Our Lady of Victories, pray for Paris! Pray for the dead! Pray for us all!

The famous and important statue of Our Lady of Victories in the Basilica of the same name in central Paris, a place that I love, and a place in which I hope to pray again.

The famous and important statue of Our Lady of Victories in the Basilica of the same name in central Paris, a place that I love, and a place in which I hope to pray again.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my mother!
To thee do I come, before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

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Preparing the Chalice: A Detail

Have you ever noticed the priest wiping the inside of the chalice with the purificator after pouring in the wine and water, and wondered why? I first noticed this being done in the televised Mass on EWTN many years ago. I now do this myself.

Screen shot from an instructional video.

Screen shot from an instructional video.

In the older form of the Mass (the Extraordinary Form), the priest was to wipe around the inside of the chalice with the purificator while preparing it, for a very practical reason: because when you pour in the wine and water, it inevitably splashes a little onto the interior sides. If those drops were left on the sides they would be consecrated. Then, to purify the chalice after communion, the priest would have had to tilt it and “twirl” it to pick up those drops with the purifying liquid. By wiping the interior sides after pouring in the water and wine, it makes purification of the chalice after communion easier and faster: he can pour in the purifying liquid* and, instead of having to “tilt and twirl”, just drink it from the same spot where he drank the Precious Blood, and all of it is picked up with the purifying liquid.  This is why there is traditionally also a cross on the base of the chalice: it shows the priest which side he should drink from so that he could be consistent about it, and so make purification easier. (ATTN sacristans and servers: the cross should always be facing the priest!)

A cross on the base of a chalice.

A cross on the base of a chalice.

In the Ordinary Form of the liturgy this gesture is not stipulated, but you will nonetheless see some priests wiping the chalice in this way while preparing it (for example, when I first saw it on EWTN). There is not always, however, the same practical benefit. For example, in concelebrated Masses, where multiple priests (and possibly deacons) will be receiving from the same chalice, if they do not all drink from the exact same spot, the “tilt and twirl” method of purification will be necessary in order to pick up all the bits of the Precious Blood that are on the sides and even on the rim from the chalice’s having been handled by multiple ministers. The same is true for chalices that are used for the distribution of the Precious Blood to the faithful: since the ministers usually rotate them in-between communicants the entire interior will have to be purified. In Masses, however, where a single priest only receives from the chalice, this method of preparation can be used to good effect, making it easier and quicker to purify afterwards.

Well, what does any of this matter? I know, first of all, that many people have seen this practice and wondered why it was done. Now you know. Also, I think many priests do it out of a sense of decorum and tradition, without always knowing exactly why it is done. Many older practices like this serve us well even now – even when they are not required (but not forbidden either) – and it is good to know of them and understand them.

* In the Extraordinary Form the purification is done with both water and wine. In the Ordinary Form this method is permitted also, although you will hardly (if ever) see it done – nearly everyone purifies with water only.

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Some Fan Mail

A courageous local individual sent me an unsigned note today – it was written on a piece of scrap paper with some unintelligible excerpt of an article printed on it, and came in an envelope from a large corporation headquartered here locally. Odd.

I’m not sure how to interpret this!

do need help, and at times it feels like seriously so –
• With fundraising for parish projects, which I’ve posted about here before
• With developing a better layout and look for the blog (this current one is getting old)
• With coming up with more interesting things to blog about
• With blogging more frequently
…and, in that regard…
• With having more staff in the parishes to alleviate my workload so that I can dedicate more time to blogging!

I’m not sure if the need is always serious, but it does seem so at times. In any case, I hope I have interpreted this note correctly!

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Reminder: Priests May Offer Three Masses on All Souls Day

I wanted to remind everyone – especially brother priests – that it is permitted to offer three Masses on All Souls Day. Normally, its being a weekday this year, we would only be permitted to offer up to two (one being the standard and then a second for a pastoral need).

Here is a post I wrote two years ago: THREE MASSES ON ALL SOULS DAY
Take a look at it, especially to know more about the regulations for which Mass intentions and stipends may be accepted on All Souls Day.

I will probably offer all three this Monday. Time to work out a schedule!

I wonder if some priests will use black vestments for the first time this year?

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“All” vs. “Many” – Something We Must Urgently Consider

Here is the homily I preached this weekend at St. Barnabas and Holy Rosary Parishes.

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Sacred Scripture tells us in various places that Christ died “for all”. His saving Passion and Death was more than sufficient to save every human being of every time and place. We call this the “objective redemption” – objectively, Jesus is capable of saving all because he suffered the penalty for all. However, the Lord himself in Sacred Scripture also warns us about entering “through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life…” – he himself tells us that not everyone will be saved. We call this the “subjective redemption”: for subjectively, not everyone accepts Christ’s gift of salvation. Or, having once accepted it, they forfeit it through sin from which they do not finally repent.

Therefore, Sacred Scripture also tells us – as we heard in today’s readings – that Christ died for “many”. Isaiah the prophet spoke of how God’s faithful servant, the coming Messiah, would, “through his suffering…justify many”. And Jesus says in the gospel passage from Mark that he, the “Son of Man”, would “give his life as a ransom for many”. These are salutary reminders for us: heaven is not automatic; not everyone is saved. For this reason, St. Paul once wrote that we are to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling”. He also spoke of himself as having fought a fight and run a race, gaining the prize of life. Our life on earth is a battle – a battle to get ourselves into God’s light and stay there; it’s also a race – we need to hurry, for we truly do not know how much time we will ultimately have.

I’m afraid that many people today think that basically everyone goes to heaven – except, perhaps, awful people like Hitler and child molesters. Is it flippant for me to put it in those terms? Maybe – but I have heard such ideas expressed on many occasions, and even by people who should know better. As long as we are “basically good” – so the thinking goes – then God will somehow work things out for us in the end. But nowhere does our faith teach a doctrine like this! Hear again what Jesus himself says: “The Son of Man [came] to give his life as a ransom for many”. Will you and I be among the “many” who are saved? Or will we, God forbid, be among the “many” who are not saved? It is crucial that we understand this distinction between Christ’s salvation on the objective and subjective levels. He certainly can save you and me. But his gift must be applied to us individually, subjectively; and the gift is not automatic.

The second reading, then, tells us about Christ’s sympathy for us, as one who shared in our condition and so understands us intimately. “Let us confidently approach the throne of grace”, it says, “to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help”. Where is this throne of grace? It is the Cross of Christ, and we are first united with it at Baptism, when we are renewed and set right in God’s sight for the first time. But then we fall into sin throughout our lives. We cannot be re-baptized, but the Lord allows us to approach his throne of grace again through another means – through Confession. There, humbling ourselves before his representative, the priest (who himself must go to Confession also!), Christ reaches down to us from the Cross yet again and renews us inwardly, setting us back on the right path. Thus the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says to us, “let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy”!

I wonder how many of those who follow the wide and easy path to destruction appear before God at their particular judgment and have to admit to him, “You know, Lord, I decided to do it my way. I didn’t want to confess my sins. I was too embarrassed. I was too nervous…”, and so forth – there are so many excuses! May we not be among their number – a number which, according to Scripture, is not small! May we, rather, confidently approach the throne of grace and receive mercy from God on a regular basis, so that we can have his gift of salvation applied to us and so live and die in his grace; so that we can be among the “many” who are saved and spend eternal life in unspeakable happiness. Heaven is not automatic; we truly must work out our salvation with “fear and trembling”. It is, at times, a daunting task. But our psalm response today gives us the words that we need: “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you”.

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When was the last time you went to Confession?

Confessional window at St. Barnabas of the Return of the Prodigal Son.

Confessional window at St. Barnabas of the Return of the Prodigal Son.

(Don’t post an answer: I just want you to think about it!)

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Concluding our 125th at Holy Rosary

Photo taken tonight by BAM. Looking into our beautiful church after Mass.

Photo taken tonight by BAM. Looking into our beautiful church after Mass.

This evening we had a special Mass for the parish feast day at Holy Rosary, concluding our 125th Anniversary Year. Those who may not have been following all of this may read this post to learn more about the special indulgence that we received.

(Fathers, it is a good idea to request a special indulgence from the Apostolic Penitentiary to enhance your parish’s celebration of a significant milestone. I’m happy to answer questions on how it’s done if you’re interested.)

I offered the Mass for all of our parishioners, benefactors, and other supporters. About 30 people were in attendance, which I consider very good considering that it was dark out and it’s not in the safest of neighborhoods after nightfall. At the conclusion of Mass we prayed for the intentions of Pope Francis in order to gain the plenary indulgence.

Our special anniversary celebration may have concluded, but our mission continues!

If I had had my wits about me when getting ready for everything, I would have brought a copy of the Supplica prayer for us to pray at the end. This is the special prayer that is said before the image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii – an image that we have on display in the church. I have posted about it before, and reproduce it here now:

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The celebrated image of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii.

The celebrated image of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O august Queen of victories, Virgin who reigns in Paradise, whose mighty name causes heaven to rejoice and hell to tremble; O glorious Queen of the most holy rosary: we, your favored children, chosen by your goodness in this century to build you a temple at Pompeii, kneeling at your feet on this most solemn day to commemorate your latest triumphs over the domain of idols and demons, do pour out with tears the feelings of our hearts, and with a childlike confidence lay before you our miseries.

From that throne of mercy where you sit as Queen, O Mary, turn your merciful eyes upon us, our families, on Italy, on Europe, and upon the whole Church; look with compassion upon the afflictions that overwhelm us and the cares that embitter our lives. See, O Mother, how many dangers of soul and body surround us; how many calamities and afflictions press upon us! O Mother, hold back your indignant Son’s arm of justice, and conquer by your mercy the hearts of sinners: for they are our brethren and your children, bought with the blood of our sweet Jesus and the wounds of your most tender heart, pierced with the sword. Today, show yourself to all as you are: Queen of peace and of pardon.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy…

V/. Grant that I may praise you, O sacred Virgin.
R/. Give me strength against your enemies.
V/. Pray for us, Queen of the most holy rosary.
R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

It is true – it is true! – that we first of all, though your children, crucify Jesus again in our hearts, and wound anew your heart by our sins. Yes, we confess: we deserve the severest of chastisements! Yet remember how you, atop Golgotha, did receive the last drops of that divine blood and the testament of our dying Redeemer. And this testament of a God, sealed with the blood of a Man-God, appointed you as our Mother, the Mother of sinners. Thus, as our Mother, you are our Advocate and our Hope. To you, amidst sighs, do we lift up our hands, crying for mercy!

Have pity, good Mother, have pity on us: on our souls, on our families, on our relations, on our friends, on our departed brethren, and above all, on our enemies; and on so many who claim the name of Christian, yet wound the loving heart of your Son. Pity, O Mother! We implore you today for pity on erring nations, on all Europe, on the whole world: may it turn in repentance to your heart. Be merciful to all, O Mother of mercy!

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy…

V/. Grant that I may praise you, O sacred Virgin.
R/. Give me strength against your enemies.
V/. Pray for us, Queen of the most holy rosary.
R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

What does it cost you, O Mary, to hear us? What does it cost you to save us? Did not Jesus entrust to your hands all of the treasures of His graces and mercies? You sit as Queen at the right hand of your Son, crowned with immortal glory, above all the choirs of angels. You extend your dominion as far as the heavens expand; and to you the earth and all the creatures that inhabit it are subject. Your power reaches even to hell; and you alone, O Mary, can rescue us from Satan’s hands.

You are almighty by grace, and therefore you can save us. Even if you tell us that you will not help us because we are ungrateful children and unworthy of your protection, at least tell us to whom we can go to be released from so many evils!

But no! Your maternal heart will never bear to see the ruin of your children. Both the divine Child whom we behold on your knees and the mystical rosary that we admire in your hand inspire in us the hope that we will be heard. And full of confidence in you, we throw ourselves at your feet, we abandon ourselves as feeble children into the arms of the tenderest of mothers and today – this very day – we expect from you the graces for which we long.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy…

V/. Grant that I may praise you, O sacred Virgin.
R/. Give me strength against your enemies.
V/. Pray for us, Queen of the most holy rosary.
R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us ask Mary for her blessing.

We now ask of you, O Queen, a final favor, which you cannot refuse on this solemn day. Grant to all of us your constant love, and in a special manner, your maternal blessing. No, we will not leave your feet today nor cease clasping your knees until you have blessed us. Bless now, O Mary, the sovereign Pontiff; to the ancient honors of your crown and to the immortal triumphs of the rosary, in which you are called Queen of Victories, add also this one, O Mother: grant triumph to religion and peace to human society. Bless our bishop, the priests, and particularly those who zealously work for the honor of your Shrine.

Bless, finally, all those who are associated with your new Temple at Pompeii, and who practice and spread devotion to your most holy rosary .

O blessed rosary of Mary – sweet chain that unites us to God, bond of love that joins us to the angels, tower of safety against the assaults of hell, safe harbor amidst the common shipwreck – never more shall we leave you. You will be our comfort in the hour of agony; to you, the last kiss of our life. And the last sound from our lifeless lips shall be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of the Valley of Pompeii! O Mother dear! O only refuge of sinners! O supreme comforter of the afflicted! May you everywhere be blessed, now and for ever, on earth and in heaven. Amen.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy…

V/. Grant that I may praise you, O sacred Virgin.
R/. Give me strength against your enemies.
V/. Pray for us, Queen of the most holy rosary.
R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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Today’s Collect

This Sunday’s collect (opening prayer) is one of the most beautiful of the liturgical year:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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Homily on Annulments


This weekend I preached on annulments. The homily was meant to be a general overview; there is much more that could be said. Just by way of example, I didn’t spend any time trying to explain why the term “annulment” is a misnomer.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE HOMILY HERE. (And maybe forward it to your acquaintances to whom it could be of interest.)

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