Visit of the Incorrupt Heart of St. John Vianney

We will soon be blessed here in Birmingham to host the relic of the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. The Knights of Columbus are having the relic tour the country from November to May, in reparation for the recent new wave of clergy scandals involving sexual abuse and predation. Click the following image to download a PDF with complete information about when the relic will be in Birmingham, Alabama. Unfortunately, I do not have much information about the rest of the tour: the Knights’ site says that they would be announcing the tour dates/locations soon, but as of this posting there is only an incomplete schedule online.

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Praying for the Dead – And A Cautionary Tale

A requiem Mass celebrated on the outdoor altar in my parish, located near the bishops’ graves in the courtyard. This altar faces due East!

Two of the three past/deceased bishops of the Diocese of Birmingham are buried in our courtyard beside the Cathedral of St. Paul. The most recent to be buried there was Bishop David E. Foley, bishop of the diocese from 1994 to 2005, but remaining here afterwards and continuing to serve tirelessly until just before the Lord called him home in Spring 2018. He was very beloved, and he had a pious death.

As Rector of the Cathedral, it has been touching for me to see so many people stopping to say a prayer at Bishop Foley’s grave – often at unsuspected times. As I said during his funeral rites, Bishop Foley’s greatest fear was that people would not pray for him in death. By publicizing that fear so effectively, he now has many people praying for him.

Recently (a little over a week ago), our Cathedral Fraternus chapter sponsored a Mass in remembrance of Bishop Foley, celebrated by one of our diocesan priests on the outdoor altar that flanks the bishops’ graves (pictured above). It was a traditional Latin requiem with absolution over the grave. The outdoor altar depicts the Death of St. Joseph in marble relief:

In that way we fulfilled Bishop Foley’s request to pray for him in a particularly effective way: by offering the holy sacrifice of the Mass for his intention. The sung Mass (Missa Cantata) – the first Mass to be celebrated on that outdoor altar, in fact – was exceedingly beautiful.

This morning, after our regular Saturday morning Mass of Our Lady, I led a group of parishioners and friends to visit the large old cemetery in town where many of our priests are buried, including Father Coyle. We prayed a rosary in order to gain the plenary indulgence for the faithful departed:

The celtic cross monument marks the spot where Fr. Coyle is buried.

During the Mass this morning I had recounted in the homily a bit of a cautionary tale I recently read on an Italian blog that I follow. A favorite genre, for sure. This tale fits in well with Bishop Foley’s wishes and our work of mercy of today, of going to pray for the dead. Here is my translation, preserving the unique/charming punctuation and style:

From the writings of Fr. Giuseppe Tomaselli (1902-1989)

In this time of moral miseries, in order to justify one’s moral weakness one says: The passions are too strong and I can’t always resist!… Besides, after sinning I go to Confession! –

Others say: I don’t commit grave sins! I always err in some little trifles, that are inevitable!… But there are some who sin more than I, and with greater gravity! –

When someone dies, it is commonly said: What a holy person! How much good they did! He has certainly gone to Heaven! –

On tombs the most untruthful and flattering inscriptions present the departed as models of illustrious virtue.

Our true self is what we are in the sight of God. Man judges humanly and often falls in error. But God’s judgments are most exact, and it is necessary to meditate on their strictness in order to live the most holy life possible; also to be of assistance to those who, having departed from this valley of tears, now make atonement in Purgatory for the sins they committed on earth.


How I suffer!…

On February 3, 1944, an old lady died at almost 80 years of age. She was my mother. I had the opportunity to see her dead body in the cemetery chapel, before the burial. As a priest I thought: You, O woman, from what I can tell, have never gravely violated a single commandment of God! – And I reminisced about her life.

As a matter of fact, my mother always set a great example, and I owe my priestly vocation to her in great part. She went to Mass every day, even in old age, with the crown of children. She went to communion daily. She never missed the rosary. She was charitable to the point of even losing an eye while completing an act of profound charity towards a poor woman. She was always in uniformity with God’s will, even to the point of asking me while my deceased father was lying in state in the house: What can I say to Jesus in these moments to please him? – She repeated: Lord, may your will be done!

On her death bed she received the last sacraments with living faith. A few hours before dying, suffering so greatly, she was repeating: O Jesus, I wish you would decrease my sufferings. But I do not want to go against your will: your will be done!… – Thus that woman, who brought me into the world, died.

Basing myself on the concept of Divine Justice, and worrying little about the eulogies that acquaintances and even priests might have given about her, I intensified my prayer for her soul. I offered a great number of Holy Masses, many acts of charity, and wherever I preached, I exhorted the faithful to offer communions, prayers, and good works in suffrage for her.

God permitted my mother to appear to me. I studied the matter and I had brilliant theologians look closely at it also, and it was decided: It was a true apparition! –

My mother had been dead for two and a half years. And suddenly she appeared in my room under human appearances. She was very sad.

– You left me in Purgatory!…

– You have been in Purgatory until now?

– Yes and I am still here!… My soul is surrounded by darkness and I cannot see the Light, who is God!… I am at the threshold of Paradise, close to eternal bliss, and I long to enter there; but I cannot! I have said so many times: If my children knew of my terrible torments, ah!, how they would come to my aid!…

– Why didn’t you come earlier to tell me?

– It was not within my power to do so.

– You have not yet seen the Lord?

– As soon as I died I saw God, but not in all his splendor.

– What can we do to free you right away?

– I need one single Mass. God has permitted me to come and ask this of you.

– As soon as you enter Paradise, return to share the news!

– If the Lord will permit it!… What Light… what splendor!… – Speaking thus, the vision vanished.

Two Masses were celebrated and after one day she reappeared, saying: I have entered into Heaven! –

After all that I have set forth, I say to myself: An exemplary Christian life, a great quantity of prayers… and two and a half years of Purgatory!… Totally different than the judgments of men!

[Passage taken from “I nostri morti – La casa di tutti”, by Fr. Giuseppe Tomaselli]

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A Meditation on One of the Requiem Chants

Our mid-day Mass for All Souls here at the Cathedral of St. Paul will have a simple musical accompaniment: a chant schola singing the Church’s beautiful requiem propers. In my homily, which I copy below, I reflect on a surprising and delightful connection between the requiem and nuptial Masses.

* * *

Commem. of the Faithful Departed – November 2, 2018 – Rev. Bryan W. Jerabek, J.C.L.
Cathedral of Saint Paul, Birmingham, Alabama – 12:10pm Mass – 650 words

As on every All Souls Day, we offer a requiem Mass for all the faithful departed. I would like to comment on one element of the requiem we offer today. I am grateful to our Music Director, Bruce Ludwick, for having arranged a schola to sing the traditional requiem propers at this Holy Mass. The propers are the scriptural and poetic texts given to us by the Church for the opening, the offertory, communion, the gradual (which takes the place of the responsorial psalm), and alleluia chants. Today’s gradual, in particular, merits special attention.

The melody of the requiem gradual starts out the same as the one used in a nuptial Mass, and so calls it to mind, though the texts sung are different. For the requiem gradual, which we just heard, the text used is essentially the “Eternal Rest” prayer that we all know and hopefully pray often. Whereas for the nuptial Mass, it is verses from Psalm 128(127): “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children like shoots of an olive”. Why these two texts? And why should these two very different Masses be related by the same chant melody?

(Some cynical types would joke about how this is fitting: a wedding is a sort of funeral, they would say! But we may set cynicism aside and consider the deep, beautiful spiritual reasons behind this connection made by the Church’s sacred liturgy.)

We do well to recall that a nuptial Mass, like a requiem, is first and foremost an act of divine worship, entering in to Christ’s worship of his Father. The “wife” spoken of in that nuptial gradual is a reference to the Church, whom Christ unites to himself and offers to the Father. The Church is like a fruitful vine and her children are numerous, like the shoots of an olive tree. The bride and groom are thus invited to contemplate how their marriage is meant to be like Christ’s love for his Church: profoundly intimate and bearing abundant fruit unto God.

Now a requiem Mass is also about marriage: hence the melody chosen for its gradual chant. At the requiem what we contemplate is not the marriage of two people on earth and how that reflects Christ’s love for his Church; no, we contemplate, rather, the wedding feast of the Lamb – the heavenly wedding banquet – to which the soul of the deceased person is now called. At the end of our life on earth we commend our souls to God, which means we give ourselves entirely to him in a final way: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”.

But while the chant of the requiem calls to mind the nuptial melody and imagery, the text it uses is one of supplication: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.” We beg God to draw the souls of the departed into his rest. Many must pass through a final, cleansing fire of his love. We already know of that fire on earth, for every state of life – including holy matrimony – is a sort of crucible in which we are tested. But whatever impurity yet remains at death is purified by God’s love in Purgatory, so that the soul can enter in to the feast, clothed in the wedding garment.

Today, then, as we pray for the souls, we ponder the marriage feast of heaven. Yesterday, we celebrated and begged the intercession of those who are already there. Today we ask God that their number may grow, with many holy souls being received into the wedding feast thanks to our prayers. How beautiful are the Church’s chants and canticles,[1] when we come to understand them on a deeper level! How beautiful the singing will be at the wedding feast in heaven: may our Lord admit many to it this day – and help us to reach it someday as well. Amen.


[1] A favorite quotation from St. Augustine’s Confessions comes to mind: “How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church! Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.”

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Working on Holy Days of Obligation

A “Closed for Mourning” sign on a business in Italy — more on why I chose this photo, below.

There are five [or six] Holy Days of Obligation each year in the United States: Immaculate Conception (December 8), Christmas (December 25), Mary, Mother of God (January 1), Assumption (August 15), and All Saints (November 1). [In a few regions the Ascension is observed on Thursday instead of being transferred to Sunday and is also a day of obligation, but that does not apply here in Alabama. Your mileage may vary depending on where you are from.]

The rules about Holy Days of Obligation are confusing and frustrating, and I won’t get into that here. They should be changed. We can handle going to Mass five (or six) extra days besides Sunday. I always encourage people to form the habits of always going on these five [or six] days, because they are both important and often we are obliged to do so anyhow. That said, even if the rules are confusing, it is clear that the obligation is removed from some Holy Days from time to time: I am not suggesting that because the rules are confusing, we are obliged to go on all the days anyhow. But I think we should go on all the days.

So hopefully we make it to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligations. (Failing to do so could be a mortal sin.) But how do we spend the rest of the day?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes canon 1248 of the Code of Canon Law on this one. We should treat it like a Christian sabbath — we should rest:

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

This brings me to another thing I encourage: taking time off on Holy Days of Obligation. Yes, not everyone has a job that gives much vacation time or flexibility in its use. Yes, some people’s jobs require them to work at odd times, including Sundays. Yes, there are always those who have legitimate excuses. I know…..

But many people have do have generous amounts of vacation time or PTO. I strongly encourage them to plan out their use of it each year so that they have a day off on the holy days of obligation also. So that they can relax on those days, take themselves and their families to church, engage in other family activities, and so forth.

And that brings me to a final point: I also encourage Catholic business owners to close on those few days each year. You’re already closed on Christmas and New Year’s (Mary, Mother of God), in many cases! So it’s a question of adding three [or four] more days to your schedule of closing days each year. If you honor God and your Catholic faith in this way, is there really such a great concern about lost business? Will not God bless your business even more?

Look at businesses that are famous for closing on Sundays: Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A, and others. Every time I go to Chick-fil-A – doesn’t matter what time – there is a huge line of cars and inside is booming as well. Hobby Lobby seems to be doing just fine. And that, in spite of the fact that many people go shopping on Sunday nowadays (in violation of the Third Commandment) or go out to eat on Sundays (not necessarily in violation of the Third Commandment). Folks still patronize them because they value their products; they adjust and go on the days they are open.

Another common objection goes something like, “Look, I get it intellectually, but non-Catholics won’t understand why our business is suddenly closed on a certain day and will take their business elsewhere”. Again: you’re probably already closed on two of those days. We’re talking just three [or four] extra days a year on top of that. And what’s to say you couldn’t be open on a couple of the Federal Holidays on which you might otherwise close, in order to make up for the days lost to Holy Days?

Moreover, this is 2018. We have social media. We can put up signs weeks in advance advising customers about a closure. We can print it on receipts. And so forth. In Italy (picture at top of post), it’s not uncommon to be going about your shopping and being unable to complete it because a business is “closed for mourning”. You adjust, you go back another day. Life happens.

“Closed to allow for worship.”

What a great opportunity for evangelization it would be, for a Catholic business owner to close on a day like today and hang a sign on the door: “Closed to allow our families to celebrate the Feast of All Saints”.

Our Church offices are closed today and on every Holy Day of Obligation that falls on a business day. Other Catholics organizations and businesses should do likewise. We should rest on this day. And we should get to Mass.

All Saints, pray for us!

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Seven Sisters: A Great Gift

Click image to visit the Seven Sisters Apostolate web site

An extremely generous and kind parishioner notified me a little while back that she was intending to set up a Seven Sisters Apostolate group to pray for me.

Today she sent me the names of those who are praying, the days that they are praying, and told me that they start tomorrow – the Feast of All Saints.

I am profoundly grateful and humbled by this great gift! What a wonderful endeavor this is. I encourage all ladies to see if they can do this for their priest, wherever they are.

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Smartphone in Confession?

A couple of years back, I started to notice an uncanny occurrence: often things that I had spoken about (out loud) during the day would suddenly appear in online ads (e.g., on my Facebook). It didn’t take long for me to make the connection that the phone is always listening (even if, at that time, I did not use the phone’s voice features), and that that had implications for the line of work I’m in.

Even if there is not a human being physically listening to my conversations, much data is being captured and somehow being stored “someplace” and being used in various ways. Ways over which I have little to no control.

[Did you know that in 1988 — long before smartphones — the Vatican issued an excommunication for anyone who records a confession? The Seal of Confession is serious business!]

At some point, therefore, I realized that I must physically turn off my phone when I go to hear confessions. The Seal of Confession is inviolable: but the way the phone is “listening” in some way seems to put that in danger, even if we can’t be exactly sure how. So I formed the habit of always turning my phone off both when I hear confessions and when I go to the sacrament myself.

I can’t seem to find a link now, but sometime in the past couple of years there was an article I think from Polish bishops who warned about this: priests should turn off their phone when they go in the box, or leave it someplace else.

The question arises: What about the various apps that help a penitent prepare for the sacrament? I think it’s fine to use them beforehand, but I would only use it to jog my memory; I wouldn’t “register” in some way my sins in it. If I needed a list to help me remember everything, I’d do the old fashioned thing and write it down on paper, taking care to destroy it afterwards.

I am unaware of any ruling either from the Vatican or the Bishops’ Conference on this matter. But I do think it’s serious and merits consideration. Our phones are incredible inventions that bring the whole world to our fingertips and give us so many conveniences. But they bring real concerns about privacy also.

I don’t want anyone other than the priest and God to hear my confession. So I turn my phone off whenever I go in “the box”!

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I recently purchased a reprint of an old book, Vocations, by Fr. William Doyle, S.J. I believe it was Dr. Peter Kwasniewksi who helped bring it back into print, and I tend to trust his reading recommendations. He was surely correct in promoting this small book!

With only 48 pages, this book yet has something for just about any Catholic in it — all presented with clarity and brevity. (It does employ some older idioms and the thee/thy/hath/findeth register of the English language when quoting Scripture and a few other works, and this may prove more difficult for some younger folks today. But I think most will be able to work through it.)

FOR PARENTSThis book will convict you of the importance of your child’s vocational choice and help you to guide him or her in it, avoiding some of the pitfalls – even well-meaning, but ultimately disastrous ones – that seemingly so many parents fall into.

FOR PRIESTS: This book will help you in the crucial pastoral work of recognizing, encouraging, promoting, and otherwise fostering vocations. The clarity and brevity which I mentioned will especially be helpful for remembering key points to share in spiritual direction and confession.

FOR PRIESTS WHO HAVE HAD OR ARE HAVING DOUBTS: Many priests experience a vocational crisis at some point – a moment of testing that can shake a man to his core. Some end up leaving the priestly state. The few pages that deal with this will bring abundant consolation. (See also the book In Sinu Iesu that I mention in this post.)

FOR RELIGIOUS: The trials of religious life are also numerous and there is much in this book to reassure you that the choice you have made, responding to the Lord’s invitation, is the surest way of saving your soul and leading others to heaven besides.

FOR YOUNG MEN WHO PERCEIVE A POSSIBLE CALL: Many struggle today to take the “leap” of leaving the world behind and going to seminary — especially those who hear a vocation after starting a career (as was the case with me). Some continue to wait for more signs: I have often joked that they wait for “the Archangel Gabriel” to come and tell them about their calling — but even then, they might doubt. This book handily deals with these sorts of matters.

FOR YOUNG WOMENA few key anecdotes and quotations from the saints will help you to overcome much of the worldly so-called wisdom that would take you off the path that our Lord has laid out for you — either for a time or for the rest of your life.

FOR SEMINARIANS: You often have the chance to influence other young people in answering God’s call: this book will not only affirm you in the path you have started on but also help you to know better how to help your peers and other youth in responding likewise.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE LEFT SEMINARY OR RELIGIOUS LIFE, BUT STILL WONDER IF THEY ARE CALLEDThis book will also help — with many helpful anecdotes about those saints in the past who had to “give several goes” at pursuing the seminary or religious life, that experience having been part of their own testing by God.

As you can see — and there is more that I could summarize — this little book, in just 48 pages, contains much wisdom. For some, it could be the best $7 you ever spent. If you’re in my parish, I’m happy to give you a copy for free.


[I did note a number of typographical errors in reading it, and have notified the editor accordingly, so that hopefully those can be adjusted in time for the new orders that come in. In any case, none of them will truly impede the ability of most readers to understand.]

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Vesting Prayers in Three Languages

It used to be that a priest was required to say a prayer with each garment that he put on as he prepared for Mass – ordinarily, seven prayers total, including the initial washing of the hands (there is not a prayer for hand sanitizer……).

These prayers are quite lovely: on the one hand, they help the priest to form sentiments of humility and docility before God and his sacred mysteries, which he will soon celebrate; on the other hand, they aid the priest spiritually, to be properly recollected for Mass and not to go about it routinely, which is always one of the pitfalls in parish life.

These prayers are no longer required to be said, and I’m not sure we’re better off for that. In any case, they certainly may still be said, and indeed, are encouraged. For more on that, read this article by the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marino.

I like to say the vesting prayers as they were written: in Latin. Latin doesn’t bother me; not only do I understand it fairly well, but I find it consoling to pray in the Church’s language. In any case, there is nothing that says that these prayers must be done in Latin. Various vernacular translations exist, but I found many of them insufficient in some way. Therefore, I have prepared a new translation: into both English and Spanish.

Indeed, it seems to me that many parishes now have both English and Spanish liturgies, with a variety of priests helping in some cases. Some may wish to pray the prayers in English, Spanish, or Latin. The document that I have prepared – which may be printed and framed for hanging in a sacristy – provides all three languages.


Please feel free to share this with your priest; you might even print it nicely and get a decent document frame to put it in and give it to him as a gift.

An illustration of a maniple — it is worn on the priest’s left arm.

The prayer for the maniple is included, since some priests (indeed, more and more) are using the maniple again, even though it is not specifically mentioned in the Novus Ordo rubrics (in any case, it has been clarified at various times that it may still be used). The prayer for that garment, in particular, is quite meaningful for the priest, since it references the “weeping and sorrow” that he encounters in his work, looking to God for peace and consolation. In fact, this Sunday’s responsorial psalm is directly related to the maniple in our Latin tradition: it concludes with “Although they go forth weeping…they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.” In the Latin Vulgate, that text is rendered as, “carrying their maniples” — the maniple being a type of handkerchief used to sop up sweat and tears amidst hard work.

As we experience the clergy shortage more acutely at this time, but also see signs of great hope with young men responding to God’s call, we priests can relate to the toil of going forth to our work weeping but coming back rejoicing… and we can do so, “carrying our maniples”, if we choose to wear that optional garment. It is, of course, no longer used as a handkerchief (in fact, it would be a minor crime to use some of them for that purpose, so richly are they now made in some cases), but its symbolism still remains – and symbols are important.

I share these prayers here, also – rather than just emailing them to the priests I know – because I think that most lay people will find them edifying. The garments that the priest wears for Mass “clothe him in Christ”, in the Christ whom he represents and in whose Person he acts while celebrating the sacraments; they help to mask the priest’s personal identity, covering over his street clothes and so forth. This reduction of the priest’s ego is a good thing, since “it’s not about him — it’s about Jesus”. The priestly garments are now far-removed from even most of the other ceremonial dress that still exists in the world; they come to us from a different time, yet they continue to be quite meaningful. Understanding better their meaning and symbolism — and the prayers that go with them — can help us get more out of our time at Holy Mass.

My intention is to get better at praying these prayers each time I vest for Holy Mass — even to memorize them. I hope that other priests may wish to do likewise.

Dómine, diléxi decórem domus tuæ… O Lord, I have loved the beauty of your house! (Psalm 26)

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Old Typography

Small details, such as ligatures connecting letters, made typography in past times more aesthetically pleasing – easier on the eyes. It was also an art form: look at that italicized ‘Q’!

Most of our computerized fonts today are not in the same ballpark as the old typefaces. If anyone knows of a good open-source font that does ligatures and has other lovely details, feel free to share a link in the comments.

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Latin-Spanish Baptism Booklet

Following upon my recent post, in which I provided a Latin-English participation booklet for Baptism in the Extraordinary Form, I am now pleased to provide a similar resource with Latin and Spanish.

It is difficult to find the correct 1962 books that include approved Spanish translations. It is a bit of a mystery to me why more of these old books have not yet been returned to print; it probably reflects how, in general, the Extraordinary Form is not yet as well-known in the “Spanish-speaking world”.

(To be clear: I DID use the correct and approved liturgical books for this booklet.)

That said, some recent experiences I have had suggest that more and more of our Hispanic immigrants and other Spanish-speakers are starting to discover and appreciate this form of the liturgy as well.

A priest who knows how to do baptism in the Extraordinary Form (i.e., knows the full rubrics) could easily use this booklet himself to conduct such a baptism for a Spanish-speaking child, in the absence of a ritual book.

I again provide the guide in two formats, to suit different types of duplex printers/folders:

ONE-UP FORMAT (individual 5.5×8.5″ pages)

BOOKLET FORMAT (print two-sided and fold/staple)

Please share this with any priests you know who celebrate the sacraments in Spanish and may be interested in providing baptism in this form to the Hispanic families he serves. Read my original post for more information.

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Baptism Booklet for the Extraordinary Form

The initial rites “outside the church”, as shown in a recent baptism I celebrated in my parish.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI clarified that the older liturgical books (those approved and in use as of 1962) were never abrogated and thus could still be used. Therefore, since then, without there any longer being doubt or other hoops to jump through (such as requesting an indult), it has been possible for any priest to celebrate the sacraments using those ritual books.

Learning and celebrating what is now called the “Extraordinary Form” of the Mass — also known as the usus antiquior (the “older use”) — has been a great grace for me and an enrichment to my priestly spirituality and understanding. And in the past couple of years, more and more families have requested that I celebrate their child’s baptism in the Extraordinary Form as well. This has also been wonderful.

Since baptism in the EF is a fair bit different than the newer form that most of us are accustomed to, I set out to find some sort of participation guide for the parents, godparents, and guests to follow along with. There are, of course, some available for purchase. I only found a couple for free, one of which I initially used. But I found it less than ideal for various reasons.

One of the peculiarities of the EF baptism rite is that while all the prayers are given in Latin, the priest is actually permitted to do quite a lot of them in English (using, of course, an approved translation). There seems to be some disagreement over exactly which prayers must be in Latin, but a safe rule to follow is that any prayer that involves an exorcism — as well as the sacramental formula itself (I baptize you…) and the anointings — should be in Latin, while the rest may be in English.

Therefore, I set out to make a participation guide that contains only the essential: the prayers only in English when the priest himself will be praying in English, and then side-by-side Latin and English when the priest will be praying in Latin. I’m happy to share this guide here, so that any priest may print and provide it to his parishioners whenever he celebrates baptism in the EF.

It may, of course, be helpful also for those families who are considering whether they should have their newest child baptized in this wonderful form — or whether they shouldn’t just stick with the newer form (perhaps, in which the older children had been baptized). Alas, I’ve had many families say, “I wish my other children were baptized in this form! — I wish I had been baptized in this form!”, once they see it. The prayers are powerful. I wish I could go back and be baptized this way also!

I have made PDFs in two formats, to accommodate different types of printers. Either way, it is meant to be printed on two 8.5×11″ sheets of paper and folded and stapled.

Here is the booklet in a “one-up” format (5.5×8.5″ pages) — usually what is needed for fancy copy machines that also fold and staple. This file format is also good for personal study/reading, as the pages are sequential.


And here is the booklet formatted for booklet printing. Most duplex printers that do NOT fold and staple require this format. Some printers that are also capable of folding and stapling can work with this format. I suspect those who know how to use those settings will know pretty quickly which format they need.


As far as ritual books go, there is of course the three-volume Weller Ritual, sold by Preserving Christian Publications, one volume of which has baptism and other sacraments (the other volumes deal with blessings, exorcisms, processions, etc.). I use this set often, although the English translations of things like blessings I find to be less than ideal.

A very fine book to have, which includes baptism as well as many blessings, is the New Sanctuary Manual. It helpfully includes baptism in a few different forms (one child, multiple children, etc.) so that the celebrant doesn’t have to figure out how to adjust the Latin from singular to plural. It seems to be out of print at present, but I would bookmark it and keep checking back; it could be that they just haven’t gotten a new printing completed but will have it again soon.

Many priests have acquired an old Collectio Rituum or similar for these purposes as well. I do hope that some publisher will reprint a Collectio, as they are useful and now a rare bird.

In any case, I hope that this participation resource that I have made will help. If anyone finds any errors or has any questions, you can contact me through the form on the “About” page of the blog.

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Build A Bigger Church

The current — and no longer sufficient — Good Shepherd Catholic Church in tiny Russellville, Alabama! Read on for more info:

The Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen made a great deal of money through his work on television and the talks and special media appearances he did besides. But one of the (surprising?) things we discover upon studying his life is that not only did he donate most of his earnings to the missions, but he also used some of his funds to build churches in poor areas — including in the South. There are churches in Alabama that were built by Archbishop Sheen! In spite of the celebrity he enjoyed, he lived rather frugally and was quite generous where it mattered the most.

I am not aware of a Fulton Sheen-like person who might help with this current project and great need, but it is similar in scope.  In the small town of Russellville, Alabama (pop. approx. 10,000), there is the parish of the Good Shepherd. Or as many of its parishioners know it — “Buen Pastor”. The town has a large population of Hispanic immigrants, many of whom work in the area chicken processing plants (maybe in the past you’ve eaten some chicken that met its fate in Russellville!). In the past, the church was built with great support from Filipino immigrants. With some exceptions, the Catholic population in Russellville has long had a large immigrant component.

The current church seats 200. Each Sunday, Fr. Vincent Bresowar, its pastor, has to put out chairs wherever he can find the space. Under his good leadership the parish has grown. But he is only one priest: he could add more Masses to accommodate the growing community, but priests are only supposed to say so many Masses per day (basically, two Monday-Saturday and three on Sunday, max). Fr. Bresowar routinely has to go over the “legal limit” to accommodate his community. He generously does so — but celebrating so many Masses wears down a priest. I know this from experience.

What they need in Russellville is a new and larger church. Fr. Bresowar has purchased an adjacent property to ensure sufficient space for the new church and a real parking lot that begins to accommodate the crowds. He has had a local architect design a building that actually looks like a church and he has employed a great consultant to help with the interior decoration. Cutting every possible corner while also recognizing that a church building is built first of all for the glory of God, Fr. Bresowar has come up with a plan that will cost in the ballpark of $2.5 million.

Good Shepherd’s Master Plan

Bishop Robert J. Baker, in consultation with the College of Consultors of the Diocese of Birmingham, has approved a Capital Campaign so that Fr. Bresowar and parishioners may begin in earnest to raise the needed funds. Remember: this is a primarily immigrant community. They are very resourceful people and will do their part. But they are not pulling in large salaries. They are open to life and have numerous families. They are often helping their families in their home countries, who live in destitution. Some of them will be able to give “in-kind”, helping with the construction and finishing. They will host many fundraisers. But in the end, we need to go outside this community to raise the money needed.

WILL YOU HELP? We are all asked to help with many things, and we can only do so much. Perhaps we cannot give a large amount to everyone but we can at least give something. I remember hearing how the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC — one of the most glorious churches in our land — was built thanks to Catholic schoolchildren around the country who collected pocket change and sent it in. Even small donations make a difference!

Fr. Bresowar has made a very nice video that explains what is happening. It includes images of his current church and testimony of some of its very enthusiastic and supportive members:

The new church that Fr. Bresowar proposes more than doubles the present seating capacity. It looks like a proper Catholic church. It is designed in two phases — so that transepts may eventually be added that make it cruciform in shape and also afford the possibility of a day chapel for daily Mass (saving energy on heating/cooling). If we can raise enough money up front, we can go directly through phase two!

WILL YOU HELP? Any donation you make is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Fr. Bresowar has established a GoFundMe campaign for those who desire the convenience of online giving:


For those who may wish to mail a check, you may send it to:

Good Shepherd Church
Attn: Father Bresowar
1700 N. Jackson Ave.
Russellville, AL 35653

I made a sacrificial gift from my priest salary, and hope that you will do so also according to your means and state in life. Please be generous.

Please, also, say a prayer for Fr. Bresowar and his parishioners. As I said, he is doing good work. I have seen this firsthand. We need to support our priests who are doing the Lord’s work in more challenging environments. I have done (continue to do, really) Hispanic ministry, and as a “gringo”, I can say that it is not easy. But it is very fulfilling. And it is a very big part of our reality as the Catholic Church in the United States.

If there are any Fulton Sheens reading this, please send a big check to Fr. Bresowar. But assuming there are not, let’s all chip in and help according to our means and according to what the Lord puts on our hearts to do. The church building is the privileged place where, day-in and day-out, heaven unites with earth and Christ comes into our midst. It is a place of solace and refuge. It is a place of conversion and hope. It is a place where all are welcome and all are the royal children of God. We need more beautiful churches and we need to rise to the challenges of our generation. I hope you will help!

Thank you!

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