Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taking the Eucharist to the Streets

Corpus Christi Procession Through the Streets of Rome
On June 15, 2014, Pope Francis invited Romans and visitors to join the upcoming Corpus Christi Mass and procession on Thursday June 19, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi[1] . The observance of the Feast begins with a Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the Cathedral where the pope officiates as Bishop of Rome. A procession then follows the Mass with the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a gold and jewel-studded monstrance that is carried under a canopy. The procession wends its way a mile and a half to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where it ends with a final Benediction.  The Mass in honor of the feast and the procession through the streets of Rome between these two very impressive major basilicas take place in the evening, and those who have been fortunate enough to participate say the Mass is beautiful, and the candlelight procession is stunning.

Timing Is Almost Everything

In most countries, the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated on the traditional date of the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, which is the first Sunday after Pentecost. In the United States, Canada, and parts of Spain, the bishops have transferred the Solemnity of the Feast of Corpus Christi to the following Sunday.

The official title of this feast is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Sollemnitas Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Christi), but the feast is commonly referred to as Corpus Christi. Where it is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi is a holyday of obligation and it is also a public holiday in many predominantly Catholic countries, including “Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, East Timor, parts of Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Panama, Peru, Poland, San Marino, parts of Spain and Switzerland, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago”[2].

At individual churches and oratories where the pre-Vatican II (pre-Councilar) rites are observed the Solemnity is often celebrated on the traditional date on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but it also may be celebrated on the following Sunday by these groups, because of pastoral considerations. At a growing number of locations, Corpus Christi processions are being made after the Mass of the feast, whether the Mass is in the Ordinary or the Extraordinary Form, and whether the feast is observed on the traditional Thursday or transferred to the following Sunday.

Just in the San Francisco Bay Area alone, the following randomly selected examples illustrate some of the very different ways that the feast may be observed.
•    The Mass for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is being celebrated as a sung High Mass in the Extraordinary Form without a procession at St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland on Thursday the 19th. On following Sunday, the 22nd, the Solemnity will be celebrated with two Masses  at the same church, one in the Ordinary Form and one in the Extraordinary Form and both will be followed by Eucharistic processions.
•    Across the Bay, Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco had advertised a Solemn High Mass to be offered on Thursday the 19th, followed by a Eucharistic Procession on the “Streets of San Francisco.”
•    In Palo Alto on the San Francisco peninsula, the St. Ann choir will sing Josquin Des Prez’s polyphonic Mass setting, Missa Pange lingua, at an Ordinary Form Mass in Latin on Sunday, June 22, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament.

Why Does the Church take the Eucharist to the Streets?

Corpus Christi processions bring the Blessed Sacrament out from the church buildings into the world, because the Church wants to share this immense gift of God with everyone.  St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis’ namesake, had this to say about the Eucharist, “For one in such a lofty position to stoop so low is a marvel that is staggering. What sublime humility and humble sublimity, that the Lord of the Universe, the Divine Son of God, should so humble Himself as to hide under the appearance of bread for our Salvation!”

"The feast of Corpus Christi is one time when our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is exposed not just to faithful Catholics but to all the world. This is a time when Catholics can show their love for Christ in the Real Presence by honoring Him in a very public way. It is also a wonderful way in which we can show our love for our neighbors by bringing Our Lord and Savior closer to them. So many conversions are a result of Eucharistic Adoration experienced from inside the Church. How many more there would be if we could reach those who only drive by the church in worldly pursuits."--Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association

When in Rome Do As the Polish Do

In many countries elaborate Corpus Christi processions have been held for centuries and still being held today in cities and in towns. But for about a hundred years, in Rome, Italy, the center of Roman Catholicism, these processions were only held within the confines of St. Peter’s Square, which is within the boundaries of the autonomous Vatican state, not technically part of Italy at all.

In 1982, Pope St. John Paul II, remembering the elaborate processions through the streets of his native Poland, brought the Corpus Christi procession out of St. Peter’s Square and back to the streets and the people of Rome. His successors, Benedict XVI and now Francis continue the Roman Corpus Christi processions to this day. “Pope John Paul wanted the Blessed Sacrament carried into the city, where the people lived, as they did in Poland.”
Remembering Corpus Christi with Pope John Paul II--Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, "Today's Catholic News," posted May 28, 2013.

Polish Corpus Christi Procession with Infant of Prague Statue
Vatican II Did Not Downplay Eucharistic Adoration, Said Pope Benedict XVI

In a 2012 CNS article titled, "Vatican II did not downplay eucharistic adoration, pope says," Pope Benedict XVI clarified a mistaken impression held by many that "eucharistic adoration and Corpus Christi processions are pietistic practices that pale in importance to the celebration of Mass."

Celebration and adoration are not in competition, the pope said. "Worshipping the Blessed Sacrament constitutes something like the spiritual environment in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth. ...

"It is true that Christ inaugurated a new form of worship, one tied less to a place and a ritual and more to his person, but people still need 'signs and rites,' the pope said. In fact, without its annual Corpus Christi procession, "the spiritual profile of Rome" would change.

St. Thomas Aquinas and the Liturgies of Corpus Christi

When Pope Urban IV added the feast of Corpus Christi to the Church's liturgical calendar in 1264, he asked St. Thomas Aquinas to write the liturgy. St. Thomas wrote the famous Sequence (a poem that precedes the Gospel) for the Mass of day, the Lauda Sion Salvatorem (Sion, Lift Up thy Voice and Sing).  St. Thomas is widely fcknown for his brilliance, but he is perhaps less known for his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He was even seen levitating before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer.

Lauda Sion Salvatorum

Sion, lift thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King;
Praise with hymns thy Shepherd true:
Dare thy most to praise Him well;
For He doth all praise excel;
None can ever reach His due.

Special theme of praise is Thine,
That true living Bread divine,
That life-giving flesh adored,
Which the brethren twelve received,
As most faithfully believed,
At the Supper of the Lord.

Let the chant be loud and high;
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt to-day in every breast;
On this festival divine
Which recounts the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

As described in Corpus Christi: Our Debt to St. Thomas Aquinas by Stephanie A. Mann, which was posted at Catholic Exchange on June 7, 2012: "St. Thomas also wrote a hymn for Vespers: Pange Lingua (Sing, tongue, the mystery of the glorious Body), from which we have the Tantum Ergo (Down in Adoration Falling) verses sung at Benediction. … His hymn for Matins, Sacris Solemniis (Sacred Solemnity), includes the great Panis Angelicus (Bread of Angels) meditation … From the third hymn, for Lauds, Verbum Supernum Prodiens (Word Descending from Above), we take the other Benediction hymn, O Salutaris Hostia (O Saving Victim).

"Finally, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a hymn of Eucharistic thanksgiving, Adore Te Devote (Devoutly I Adore Thee)."

Adoro Te Devote

Godhead here in hiding
Whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows,
Shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service
Low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder
At the God Thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting
Are in Thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing?
That shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me,
Take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly
Or there’s nothing true.

On the cross Thy Godhead
Made no sign to men;
Here Thy very manhood
Steals from human ken:
Both are my confession,
Both are my belief;
And I pray the prayer
Of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas,
Wounds I cannot see,
But I plainly call Thee
Lord and God as he;
This faith each day deeper
Be my holding of,
Daily make me harder
Hope and dearer love.

In his 2003 encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope St. John Paul II praised St. Thomas Aquinas as "an impassioned poet of Christ in the Eucharist," and rightly so.

[1] EWTN has currently scheduled broadcasts of the three hour Holy Mass at St. John Lateran and the Eucharistic Procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major for Thursday 06/19/2014, 1:00 PM ET and Friday 06/20/2014, 12:00 AM ET. Click here for local times.
[2] Corpus Christi (feast), from Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Propers Not Hymns! Response to Does This Cartoon Sound Rude? By Jeff Ostrowski

The following quote and poster were copied from published 14 January 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski at Corpus Christi Watershed blog, with a suggested revision by me and an essay on the issues raised by the poster (with comments by Prof. William Mahrt, President of the Church Music Association of America) that follow.

"DOES THIS CARTOON come across as rude? What do you think?
If our tone is rude, we won’t win anybody to our cause … It was supposed to be a “lighthearted” way to point out that volunteer musicians shouldn’t have to be Theologians, but somehow the “humor” sounds snarky to my ear."
6229 Graduale Romanum 
I don't think the cartoon is rude, but I don't think it makes the point. Here is my first suggested revision of the wording. Also see the final revision below:
Hi, I'm Mike, and I'm the volunteer Music Director at my parish.
I choose the music that is played at Mass from the hymns in the back of the worship aid. Parishioners  seem to like the fact that the same hymns are played most of the time, except for Christmas and Easter, when we use seasonal hymns. I'm doing what the pastor expects, and it's the same thing that's done at all Catholic churches I've even been to. Are you saying there's another way to pick the music for Mass?
Hi, I'm Jeff, and I work a Corpus Christi Watershed, where we provide worship aids that promote reverent celebrations of the Mass, as they were actually envisioned by Vatican II in documents on the liturgy.
You don't have to pick the music any more!
After the new Mass was introduced in 1969, it took a long time for guidance to come from the Vatican about what music should be used, so most parishes got in the habit of using hymns during Mass.
Most people who pick music for Mass are not aware that the Church actually recommends that the Propers, which in the Ordinary Form Mass are the Entrance (formerly the Introit), the Offertory, and the Communion for each day, should be sung at their proper place in the Mass, and that hymns are extras. The Propers are Biblical texts, and they are an intrinsic part of the liturgy.  You can find the Propers in the Roman Gradual, the Simple English Propers, and in the recently released St. Issac Jogues Missal and Hymnal. Check them out.

My Comeuppance

I posted this at Facebook, and I was happy that Jeffrey Morse, former music director at St. Stephens, Sacramento, wrote a comment. He wrote that it's not a case of either hymns or propers. I can't say the propers should always be sung at Mass, since they are only sung by the choir.

In reply to his comment, I asked him the following questions: What should be the norm in Ordinary Form Masses? What if they only have a cantor? Where is a hymn appropriate to use in a low Mass when there is no choir? I'm assuming that the congregation should sing the Ordinary at any Mass, right? At a Mass without a choir, what should be done? I am bewildered. No answer yet.

Answers from Chant Scholar William Mahrt

Professor William Mahrt was kind enough to reply to an email I sent him with the above questions. I still need to digest what he wrote a bit more.

To summarize, I believe he is  saying that at a High Mass the Propers should be sung by a choir and the Ordinary (Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Kyrie) should be sung by the congregation (and the choir).  For various reasons spelled out in detail in the quote from his email below, hymns are "not a good fit" for the Mass. Their places is in the Divine Office. He's also suggesting  that at a Low Mass, the congregation should sing the Ordinary of the Mass but not the Propers.

Recap of my questions:

What should be the norm  for the use of hymns in Ordinary Form Masses? What if they only have a cantor? Where is a hymn appropriate to use in a low Mass when there is no choir? How about in a high Mass? I'm assuming that the congregation should sing the Ordinary at any Mass, right? At a Mass without a choir, what should be done?

Answers from Prof. Mahrt:
For a high Mass, the propers should be sung, preferably by a choir, which then can sing the authentic Gregorian melodies. This leaves the Ordinary to be sung by the congregation, if it is in Gregorian chant. Sometimes at such Masses, a recessional hymn is sung, but I think this is gilding the lily; moreover, congregations often don’t want to sing after the Mass; the celebrant leave, they want to also. Simpler settings of the propers may allow the congregation to sing them, but that poses difficulties, since the whole point of the propers is to have texts that change from Sunday to Sunday.
I believe that the Ordinary is in principle the domain of the congregation. If they can sing Gregorian ordinaries well, this is a lot of singing; there is little need for hymns, particularly if the choir sings the proper. This should not, however, rule out the singing of a polyphonic Mass. In my experience, our congregation sings the ordinary in Gregorian chants the Sundays of the year. For Solemnities, we sing a polyphonic  ordinary. Members of the congregation relate that when they have been singing the ordinary regularly, they are well prepared to hear the polyphonic setting, and they do not perceive it as having usurped the congregation’s role. One person in the last fifty years has objected to the polyphonic ordinary.
A cantor can sing the propers, especially if it is clear that they accompany another action, which should be the focus of the congregation’s attention. 
Hymns can be used at a low Mass in the ordinary form, but it still would be better if the ordinary were sung. The common observance is to use hymns to replace the introit, offertory, and communion, sometimes adding a “recessional.” 
There are a number of objections to the singing of hymns; briefly:
1) The texts of the hymns vary greatly in quality, the poetry is often quite trite and somewhat subjective. This is a striking contrast with the texts of the psalms, which are generally the basis of the propers. 
2) The number of hymns generally used is limited, and so they are repeated frequently; this does not fulfill the role of the propers in which the propers vary every Sunday in the year, giving each Sunday a unique character. 
3) The genre of hymn belongs to the Divine Office, where it has a place of being sung for its own sake, rather than being a substitute for a proper, which has the function of accompanying another rite. 
4) Hymns usually have a number of verses, which form a coherent whole; when they are used as proper substitutes, they take quite a bit longer than the ceremony they are supposed to accompany. This almost always means that only the first two or three verses are sung. 
5) The music of hymns is “four-square,” with regular meter and strong beat, features which make it time-bound, in contrast with the Gregorian chants, whose free rhythm is evocative of eternity.
In short, the hymn is not a very good fit with the Catholic liturgy.
Professor Mahrt explains it all to you

After reading Prof. Mahrt's remarks above and adding his insights to what I know about the requirements of Catholic liturgical music, I would change part of what I wrote above to the following (although I admit it is much too wordy for a poster):

You don't have to pick the music any more!  The Church has done it for you. After the new Mass was introduced in 1969, guidance from the Vatican about what music should be used during Ordinary Form Masses was a long time in coming, so most parishes got in the habit of singing hymns.
The fact is that Mass music should almost always consist of  Gregorian chant settings of Biblical texts, which are usually portions of the Psalms. The texts themselves are sacred because they are part of Holy Scripture, inspired by the Holy Ghost. The sacred texts set to sacred music have developed as part of the Mass over the millennia.  And the music is sacred because it is used only for worship.
To know what needs to be sung, you need to know a Proper from an Ordinary and a High (sung) Mass from a Low Mass. The Propers are the texts that change every day in the liturgical year. In the Ordinary Form Mass, the Propers are the Entrance (formerly the Introit), the Offertory, and the Communion.  The Propers are recited by the priest and should also sung by a choir or cantor at high Masses. The Proper texts are an intrinsic part of each day's liturgy, and logically singing of the Propers should not be replaced with hymns.
The Ordinary of the Mass consists of the texts that do not change, the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Credo, and Agnus Dei.  The Ordinary is recited by the priest and should be sung at High Masses by the congregation (and the choir).
Sacred polyphony, which is based on chant,  is also allowed at certain parts of the Mass, such as after the Offertory. Hymns may perhaps be allowed at the recessional, but preferably not at all.

You can find the Propers in the Roman Gradual, the Simple English Propers, and you can find the Propers and settings for the Ordinary along with liturgically sound hymns in the recently released St. Issac Jogues Missal and Hymnal.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

SF Couple's Prayers Answered After 50 Years

Traditional Latin Mass Returns to Their Childhood Parishes

Photos by Roseanne T. Sullivan unless otherwise noted

Here's a little story about how the traditional Latin Mass has recently become more widely available in San Francisco and how that gladdened the hearts of one long-time San Francisco family. This story also explains some of the back-story and the reasons this change is being made.

A few months ago, while I was preparing for an interview with Archbishop Cordileone and for an accompanying article that I finally submitted to The Latin Mass magazine this past Thursday, I spoke to Mary Richard, a homeschooling mother of seven, who was born and raised in the city of San Francisco, after we got out of Mass in San Jose one day.*

I told Mary some of the encouraging things I have been learning about initiatives the archbishop has been taking during the year and a half he has been in office to make the traditional Latin Mass more available in the San Francisco archdiocese and to promote more-reverent celebration of all liturgies.

One big piece of the news I told Mary is that Archbishop Cordileone had asked Star of the Sea pastor, Fr. Mark Mazza, to learn and celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. The result is that the traditional Latin Mass is no longer being relegated to being celebrated by only at out of the way locations on odd days of the week at odd hours, but instead it is now being celebrated once again in a centrally-located regular parish in San Francisco by a regular parish priest during regular Sunday Mass hours** (before noon). Fr. Mazza also celebrates the traditional Latin Low Mass at 7:30 a.m. Monday to Friday and on First Fridays at 6:30 p.m.

Fr. Mark Mazza celebrating an Extraordinary Form Low Mass on First Friday, January 2014

Archbishop Cordileone often participates in traditional liturgies, as shown in this photo of him in chorus*** at the Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by Fr. Mark Mazza in honor of his 33rd Anniversary as a Priest--Photo by Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco

I also told Mary that I had recently interviewed Fr. William Young, who also celebrates a traditional Latin Mass every Monday to Saturday at 12 noon**** at St. Monica parish not too far away from Star of the Sea parish. Mary already knew about him. Fr. Young has a unique history in what Archbishop Cordileone jokingly referred to as "the liturgy wars," since Fr. Young couldn't make himself celebrate the new Mass as a young priest and got himself in trouble by preaching against it from the pulpit at his first parish.
Fr. Young in his residence at St. Monica's Rector
The archdiocese's human resources director arranged for Fr. Young to get an out-of-the way assignment where he could continue saying the pre-Councilar Mass for a captive audience without causing any more trouble. In recent years, he has been allowed to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass in more-public chapels and churches, because restrictions on this form of the Mass have been loosened. (I plan to write more soon about Fr. Young and other Bay Area priests who managed to continue saying the traditional Latin Mass, sometimes under the diocesan radar.) His status as more of a floater is in contrast to Fr. Mazza's status as a pastor, so the unique thing about what's going on at Star of the Sea is that the traditional Latin Mass is being said regularly (but not exclusively) in that parish by its pastor.

At Immaculate Conception Chapel, also within city limits, Fr. Young also celebrates the traditional Latin Mass every Sunday at 5 p.m., after he celebrates another Mass in San Rafael, across the Golden Gate bridge in Marin county at 12:15 p.m.

Extraordinary Form Mass Locations in San Francisco City Limits

Archbishop Cordileone's Benedictine Approach

While researching several articles I've been writing on this topic, I also learned that Archbishop Cordileone's initiatives are intended to implement the liturgical directives of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict is the author of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum that was released on July 7, 2007, almost seven years ago, to the relief of many lovers of the traditional Latin Mass. After 27 years of ostracism, Summorum Pontificum defended the traditional Latin Mass as never having been abrogated, named it the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite,” affirmed it was just as validly a part of the Roman Rite as the Ordinary Form, and gave permission for the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated more freely with fewer restrictions.

Less well-known, but equally influential, is his book Spirit of the Liturgy, which was published by Ignatius Press while he was still Cardinal Ratzinger in 2000.

Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 2000, Ignatius Press. A great read!

I think it's a fair summary to say that Archbishop Cordileone is encouraging seminarians and priests to learn how to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass**** and is making it more available in parishes because he agrees with Pope Benedict XVI that the beauty and majesty of the traditional Mass is an tool in the new evangelization. Here is his answer to one related question in the interview that I recently submitted to The Latin Mass magazine:
Q: What place do you see the Extraordinary Form Mass having in the archdiocese now and in the future?

A: I am trying to promote Pope Benedict’s vision: To make this form of the Mass more easily available for the faithful. Educate them about it.

I think it’s one useful tool of evangelization among others that we have. Some people are just naturally drawn to it and appreciate the beauty and majesty of it. Maybe not everyone will be, but there are those who will be. So let’s make it available to people and see how it goes.

So I would see it as more of being an organic growth. It needs to directed by the leadership, but it should happen in a more kind of organic sense. If it’s easily available to people, and they understand and are educated in it, we’ll see what effect it will have on the renewal of the Church.

When I told Mary Richard  what I had learned, she reminded me that her family had lived in San Francisco for many years and said that this was indeed great news. Her parents, John and Jane Schaeffer,  had been appalled by the changes made to the Mass in 1970. The family obediently but reluctantly attended the approved new Mass while they worked and prayed from within the Church for the restoration of the traditional form of the Mass for almost 50 years. Her father used to sputter after Mass, "That's a Protestant service!" and her mother used to try to hush him, "Don't say that!"

Super Mass Man

The name of another mutual friend, Doug Zeitz, came up during my interview with the archbishop. I told Archbishop Cordileone that I and many others are very happy that he is open to the traditional Latin Mass. "That reminds me," I said, "Do you know Doug Zeitz?"

"I know Doug."

It would be hard for him to miss Doug. Doug is a zealous Catholic, husband, and father of three daughters and two sons, who spends most of his spare time helping facilitate the traditional Latin Mass wherever it is being said in the Bay Area. At least it seems to me that's what he's doing, because almost everywhere I go to Mass around the Bay, there he is, and he usually has his sons in tow. For example, while Cordileone was still bishop of Oakland, he told Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, to start offering the Extraordinary Form Mass at his parish, St. Edward the Confessor in Newark, CA, near where the Zeitz family lives in Fremont, and Doug and his sons went to St. Edward's weekly to serve and help train the other serves. Doug and his two boys served at Fr. Keyes' first public celebration and many others since then.  Doug did the same for a fledging clerical association, the Contemplatives of St. Joseph, after Bishop Cordileone left Oakland to become Archbishop of San Francisco and told the contemplatives to learn and start celebrating the traditional Mass at Mater Dolorosa in South San Francisco.

I said to the archbishop, "When I told Doug that I was going to interview you, he said to say 'Thank you for all the Latin Masses in San Francisco.'"

The archbishop seemed pleased. I went on, "You know, I think of Doug Zeitz kind of as Super Latin Mass Man. Whenever there's a traditional Latin Mass being started in the Bay Area, you're going to see him and his sons there helping make it happen." He chuckled at that, and then we moved on ….


Many fervent Catholics, like Mary Richard's parents, who might have otherwise accepted the new Mass were turned off because many priests apparently thought the new Missal gave them permission--or even required them--to improvise*****. The impressive Catholic liturgy whose prayers and music had developed over the millennia into an advanced state of artistic and reverent worship had been changed into what I eventually began to think of as a weekly Catholic-lite version of Ted Mack Amateur hour. On a related note, I often think of how Mother Angelica once quipped that the Catholic Church is now the Electric Church, because, as she said, every time you go you get a shock.

In his letter to the bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum in 2007, Pope Benedict frankly stated his own observation that many fervent Catholics wanted to hold onto the old form of the liturgy, not because they are sentimentally attached, but because many uncalled for innovations were introduced into celebrations of the new form of the liturgy, innovations that deformed the new Mass and hid its merits.

The desire of at least some of those who wanted to recover the old form of liturgy "occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorising or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear ... caus(ing) deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.” 

Pope Benedict recommended more faithful observance of the Missal of Paul VI as the only way to prove that the new Mass could be as spiritually rich and theologically deep as the form of the Mass it had replaced: "The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."


It is not only shocking but also baffling for me to look back at the past almost-fifty years and realize that those who loved the beauty and reverence of the pre-Councilar Mass were totally denied access to it and and were belittled for their preference for it. Priests were punished who wanted to keep on celebrating it. Father Young told me in an interview last month that even though he was happily assigned to an out of the way hospital ministry in which he was allowed to continue to say the pre-1969 Mass, other diocesan priests who continued to say it were removed by their bishops from their ministries.

I wasn't around for the change-over from the 1962 Mass according to the Missal of Pope St. John XXII to the 1970 Mass of Pope Paul VI, because I had left the Church in 1963 as a college freshman in an adolescent cloud of intellectual pridefulness. When I came back a humbled believer in the mid-1970s, after trying out just about every other competing set of beliefs along a spectrum from existentialist rejection of bourgeois mores to hippy LSD experimentation to Protestant fundamentalism, to my surprise I found that the Church I thought I was coming back to was practically unrecognizable. Even though I accepted the changed Mass in English with the priest facing the people along with more participation by lay people, I grew over the years to be uncomfortable with what Pope Benedict called deformations of the liturgy that I saw week after week. I began singing in the St. Ann choir that sang Gregorian chant and polyphony in Latin at Ordinary Form Masses, and then was drawn to the traditional Latin Mass when I started to help out with a new choir being formed at a diocesan-approved Oratory where only Extraordinary Form Masses were celebrated.

Even though I don't have space to go into much more detail, I want to mention that Archbishop Cordileone has started several other initiatives that not only make the Extraordinary Form Mass more available but also will help to remove the deformations in how the Ordinary Form of the Mass is sometimes celebrated. To that end, for example, he created the aptly named Benedict XVI Institute of Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy at the St. Patrick's Archdiocesan Seminary to educate interested seminarians in the Extraordinary Form and to form both future priests and any laity who perform ministries during Ordinary Form Masses so they can celebrate and worship at the Mass reverently in a manner consistent with actual Church liturgical directives and authentic doctrine*****.


It must have been heartbreaking for those who lived through the changes while they were made at one blow with no exceptions allowed. It makes me sad to hear about what happened to lovers of the traditional Mass, especially about the disdain that came their way. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the following about how people who loved the traditional form of the Mass were treated as lepers and how intolerant his otherwise tolerant "episcopal brethren" were being.

"For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her present if things are that way? I must say, quite openly, that I don’t understand why so any of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reason is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliations within the Church. … I must say, quite openly, that I don't understand why so many of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance… ."
J. Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald</em>, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002, 416.


To provide an alternative to the trend Mary's parents and their peers also perceived in Catholic education after the Second Vatican Council--away from the traditional doctrines of the Catholic Church--they supported the founders of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA in 1971 every way they could. Mary was a freshman during the first year the college was on the Santa Paula campus, she and her three sisters graduated from there, her oldest son graduated last year and is preparing to marry a lovely young home-schooled woman from Iowa who he met there as a fellow student, and Mary's two daughters are currently also students there. The following quote is from an article, John E. Schaeffer,  at the Thomas Aquinas website, which is a quite interesting account of the major contribution the Schaeffers made to the college, once they found out  it was going to be "genuinely Catholic."

One afternoon in 1968, Mrs. Schaeffer went in search of the offices of the small Catholic college she and her husband had read about in National Review. It was due to open in a year or two within Dominican College, and the Schaeffers hoped it would be the answer to their prayers. She learned firsthand about the proposed school from founding President Ronald P. McArthur , who asked if she thought her husband might be willing to help them with the project. Having been convinced of the genuinely Catholic and academic nature of the proposed college, her response was immediate: “Of course he will!”

Mary's favorite part of the news she heard from me is that the traditional Latin Mass is now available again at both Star of the Sea and St. Monica's churches in San Francisco. She is delighted because they are her parents' old parishes where they attended Mass and received the sacraments as children. Mary told me that her parents will be very happy their prayers were answered and their hard work bore spiritual fruit after such a long time. Her father is deceased, so "He knows," she said, with an gentle, ironic smile. Mary has since then tried to communicate the good news to her mother, who is in her nineties and failing a bit mentally, and Mary is pretty sure that her mother understands too and is glad.

* * After Mary Richard married, she later moved with her family to San Jose. When we spoke, we had just attended a weekday traditional Latin Mass, which is celebrated at beautiful Five Wounds Portuguese National Church five minutes from my home in the San Jose diocese, at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory that was established by San Jose's Bishop Patrick McGrath this year.

**For how Fr. Mazza learned and began to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, see my Regina Magazine article: After 50 Years, There’s a TLM in San Fran. Note: I tried to get the editor to change the headline she put on my article, since, as I told her, nobody around here calls the city “San Fran” (or “Frisco,” for that matter), and the traditional Mass had actually had almost continually been celebrated in said "San Fran" with archdiocesan permission by Fr. William Young ever since the new Mass was mandated, but I couldn't get her to change it.

*** in chorus. In traditional liturgies when a priest, bishop, or archbishop is present at a Mass celebrated by another priest, bishop, or archbishop, he usually assists in chorus (in choro) , except when he is a priest and is needed to fulfill the role of the deacon or subdeacon. The “choir” in this case is not the singers but the clergy who attend Mass seated in the sanctuary.

****Both Star of the Sea and St. Monica's are on Geary Boulevard, which explains the title of this related article from Catholic San Francisco "Geary Boulevard is new Latin Mass row".
***** For an example of improvisation liturgies of the kind that many find objectionable, see this
--> "video "Urban Fusion Mass" that ended the 2014 L.A. Religious Education Conference:
Above: Photo from the opening rite (not a Mass, but still)
Below, photos from the linked video of the Urban Fusion Mass.

***** Articles about some of the archbishop’s other related intiatives:
• “New Liturgical Institute in San Francisco” Regina Magazine. December 11, 2013.
• “The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music,” New Liturgical Movement website, January 30, 2014.

• “New California Men’s Order Will Teach Roman Liturgy,” Regina Magazine, January 23, 2014.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sure and His Was a Wonderful Life: Part III

St. Patrick’s Vision of the Dimming of Ireland’s Faith

Since St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, there is only time for me to write one more post about him and his doings. (See Sure and His Was a Wonderful Life: Part I -- Magonus Succetus: The Boy Who Would Be St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland and Sure and His Was a Wonderful Life: Part II -- Did St. Patrick Drive the Snakes Out of Ireland? for two other related posts.) One simple rule I learned while teaching others how to write in the past has helped me make the difficult decision on what final topic I would choose to write about out of my copious notes about many compelling stories and interesting controversies about St. Patrick’s life and work in Ireland.

I learned this simple rule (abbreviated as WIRMI) at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis while doing graduate work on an MA in English with an emphasis in writing. (Students in that program would take courses in English along with courses in various genres of writing, and their master’s theses would be collections of their own writing; in my case my master’s thesis consisted of my own fiction, poetry, memoir pieces, and feature articles.) The head of the U of MINN MPLS composition department hired me and other graduate students, most of whom had never taught before, as instructors and put on workshops to coach them and give them support.

I had learned to write well by assimilating the authors I had devoured while reading constantly ever since I first learned to read. But I found out that for most students writing didn’t come naturally and that some skills could be taught. One of the things they taught us in the workshops was for instructors to tell students to ask themselves certain helpful questions before and while they wrote -- such as: “Who cares?” (It’s kind of funny, but "Who cares?" actually is useful to make a new writer think about what audience is intended for a piece of writing under construction and also give a thought to whether the intended audience would find the topic interesting.)

I also learned to teach students not to try to write a piece all in one sitting, but instead to write drafts with their inner critics turned off, to get their ideas flowing. Then I would tell them they should do the following after they wrote one or more drafts, “After you look at all the words you’ve gotten down, pretend you are starting your next draft with ‘What I really mean is . . .” I would write ‘WIRMI’ on the whiteboard.

WIRMI has often been helpful for me in my writing life. It has caused me to delete many a first paragraph or larger chunk at the start of a piece of writing that on second reading proved to be obviously a wind-up to what I really wanted to say. After I applied the WIRMI test to my wealth of the topics about the life of St. Patrick, the answer to what I really wanted to say with the time I have left came out as follows.

All the current speculation aside about whether St. Patrick really drove out snakes from Ireland, whether Ireland ever had any snakes, whether the snakes in the stories were really metaphorical Druids, or whether while escaping from slavery the saint was asked by sailors to perform a perverse bonding ritual, about which I wrote some things in my first two posts, not to mention the fascinating question of whether he ever used a shamrock to teach about the Trinity, which I never got around to, what I really want to make sure to write about are the alarming indications that the Irish are losing the faith that Patrick labored so mightily to enlighten them with. And then I want to tell you one of the stories from the life of St. Patrick that gives hope for a brighter future even though the light of the faith seems to be flickering these days in the Emerald Isle.

By the time he died, St. Patrick had baptized tens of thousands. As an old man, Patrick looked back on his life and wrote, “Those who never had a knowledge of God but worshipped idols and things impure, have now become a people of the Lord, sons of God." Within a century after his death, Ireland was predominantly Catholic, and the faith of the Irish was so strong that Ireland established monasteries and schools and sent out missionaries around the world. This preeminence of the Irish in Catholicism lasted over a thousand years. When I was a child, most of the priests here in the U.S. still were Irish, some born in America, some born and trained in Ireland.

When in 1898, Archbishop Patrick Reardon of the Archdiocese of San Francisco (where I now live) dedicated a seminary that he had built to train priests locally, to reduce the dependence on Irish priests, he said this at the seminary's dedication, "I have placed this work under the patronage of a great Apostle, St. Patrick, not indeed for personal reasons, but because he is the patron saint of a great Catholic race which has suffered more than any other for religion's sake, the most devoted, the most generous, and most priest-loving race within the fold of the Church of Christ."

Above: Two images from St. Patrick's Seminary of the Archdiocese of San Francisco

The Way It Was in the Early 60s

Until 1970, you couldn’t get a drink in Ireland for the life of you on St. Patrick’s Day. All the pubs were closed by law. It was a religious holiday, a solemnity, and holyday of obligation, which meant mandatory Mass attendance.

For example of what it was like before 1970, here’s this one account from a 2012 article of what it was like fifty-odd years ago for an Irish immigrant priest, Father John Lynes, when he was a boy: “Mobile area Irish faith leaders recall spirituality of St. Patrick's Day."

“When the Rev. John Lynes, pastor of Little Flower Church in Mobile, was a boy in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was a time of prayer and reflection.

"’It was a 100-percent religious holiday,’ said Lynes, 55, who grew up in Tipperary. In addition to going to Mass with his family, Lynes learned the story of St. Patrick — who converted the pagans of Ireland to Christianity in the 5th century. Places having to do with the life of St. Patrick, he said, were ‘sites of pilgrimage, all very penitential.’

“He described a high school excursion climbing Croagh Patrick — the hill of St. Patrick — going barefoot up 'the rugged, rough mountain. At the top there was an altar and cross, and prayers were said.’

“The American notion of St. Patrick’s Day as a party with green beer, leprechauns and ‘Kiss Me, I’m Irish,’ was in contrast to the day of holy obligation in the Irish Catholic Church.

“‘I never saw anything green on St. Patrick’s Day,’ Lynes said, ‘until I came to America.’"

Some say that blue is the true color of St. Patrick, but that's another story.

The Way It Was In 1979

This second clue about the state of Ireland’s religious beliefs from the more recent past is from Pope John Paul II. For years I would pray while driving around in my car listening to tape recordings of Pope John Paul saying the Rosary in Latin, until the tapes started to wear out. The tape on the Glorious Mysteries also included excerpts from a sermon that the pope gave at the shrine of Knock in Ireland in 1979. Here are some excerpts of his prayer to Our Lady on that occasion: “Help this land to stay true to you and your Son always. May prosperity never cause Irish men and women to forget God or abandon their faith. Keep them faithful in prosperity to the faith they would not surrender in poverty and persecution. Save them from greed, from envy, from seeking selfish or sectional interest. … Queen of Ireland, Mary Mother of the heavenly and earthly Church, a Mháthair Dé, keep Ireland true to her spiritual tradition and her Christian heritage. Help her to respond to her historic mission of bringing the light of Christ to the nations, and so making the glory of God be the honour of Ireland.”

Soon after the pope’s visit there in 1979, the Celtic Tiger phenomena of steeply rising incomes got loose to wreak damage across the land. From 1990s to the 2000s, Ireland experienced all the temptations of prosperity, followed by greed and envy. People went from trying to cash in on the technology boom to trying to strike it rich by selling houses to one another for higher and higher prices. The Celtic Tiger rise in prosperity in Ireland was short lived like other bubbles. The bubble broke in 2008. Many lost their jobs, many were left bankrupt because of job loss or speculations, and many lost their homes.

Prosperity may have lured many of the Irish people away from the old ways. But then the scandals about sexual abuse by priests rocked people’s faith some more.

The Way It Was in 2009

Attendance at Mass, the percentage of Catholic weddings and funerals, and Catholic piety began to decline.

By March 17, 2009, Cardinal Sean Brady, archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland, was asking the Irish people to rediscover the faith. In a St. Patrick's Day message, the cardinal wrote, "St. Patrick’s Day unites Irish people all over the world" due to the saint's image as a "symbol of Irish history and of Irish heritage." But he went on, St. Patrick’s Day is "not just to celebrate Irish culture and identity, but also to remember the man who described himself as an ambassador for God and who prayed that it might never happen that he should lose the people which God had won for himself at the end of the earth."

The Way It Was in 441

When reading the account of St. Patrick’s life from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911, I realize there is great hope for the Old Sod yet. St. Patrick extracted a promise from God that although the faith in Ireland would dim for a while, it would shine bright once again and then never go out.

It all happened after St. Patrick undertook his famous Lenten fast on Croagh Patrick, where pilgrims are still climbing in his memory and visiting the place where he stayed. The Book of Armagh, a manuscript written in the 8th century, states that, like Christ and Moses, Saint Patrick fasted on the summit of a "Holy Hill" for forty days and forty nights and also built a church there. Also like Moses, St. Patrick bargained with God.

“His only shelter from the fury of the elements, the wind and rain, the hail and snow, was a cave, or recess, in the solid rock; and the flagstone on which he rested his weary limbs at night is still pointed out. The whole purpose of his prayer was to obtain special blessings and mercy for the Irish race, whom he evangelized.”
St. Patrick's Bed on Croagh Armagh.

He may or may not have driven out any snakes but he drove out a flock of demons. “The demons that made Ireland their battlefield mustered all their strength to tempt the saint and disturb him in his solitude, and turn him away, if possible, from his pious purpose. They gathered around the hill in the form of vast flocks of hideous birds of prey. So dense were their ranks that they seemed to cover the whole mountain, like a cloud, and they so filled the air that Patrick could see neither sky nor earth nor ocean. St. Patrick besought God to scatter the demons, but for a time it would seem as if his prayers and tears were in vain. At length he rang his sweet-sounding bell, symbol of his preaching of the Divine truths. Its sound was heard all over the valleys and hills of Erin, everywhere bringing peace and joy. The flocks of demons began to scatter, He flung his bell among them; they took to precipitate flight, and cast themselves into the ocean.

“So complete was the saint's victory over them that, as the ancient narrative adds, "for seven years no evil thing was to be found in Ireland."

St. Patrick felt that after the penitential purifications of his fast, he had the right to demand a lot of promises from God for the people he loved. “He had vanquished the demons, but he would now wrestle with God Himself, like Jacob of old, to secure the spiritual interests of his people. The angel had announced to him that, to reward his fidelity in prayer and penance, as many of his people would be gathered into heaven as would cover the land and sea as far as his vision could reach.” But St. Patrick demanded more, much more from God. “[H]e resolved to persevere in fasting and prayer until the fullest measure of his petition was granted. Again and again the angel came to comfort him, announcing new concessions; but all these would not suffice. He would not relinquish his post on the mountain, or relax his penance, until all were granted.

“At length the message came that his prayers were heard:
• Many souls would be free from the pains of purgatory through his intercession;
• Whoever in the spirit of penance would recite his hymn before death would attain the heavenly reward;
• Barbarian hordes would never obtain sway in his Church;
• Seven years before the Judgment Day, the sea would spread over Ireland to save its people from the temptations and terrors of the Antichrist; and
• Greatest blessing of all, Patrick himself should be deputed to judge the whole Irish race on the last day….

“He tells us in his ‘Confessio’ that no fewer than twelve times he and his companions were seized and carried off as captives, and on one occasion in particular he was loaded with chains, and his death was decreed. But from all these trials and sufferings he was liberated by a benign Providence…. The reward of his sufferings was an extraordinary vision that was granted him before he died.

“He saw the whole of Ireland lit up with the brightest rays of Divine Faith. This continued for centuries, and then clouds gathered around the devoted island, and, little by little, the religious glory faded away, until, in the course of centuries, it was only in the remotest valleys that some glimmer of its light remained.”

St. Patrick was not about to give up, after all that had come before.

“St. Patrick prayed that the light would never be extinguished, and, as he prayed, the angel came to him and said: ‘Fear not: your apostolate shall never cease.’ As he thus prayed, the glimmering light grew in brightness, and ceased not until once more all the hills and valleys of Ireland were lit up in their pristine splendour, and then the angel announced to St. Patrick: ‘Such shall be the abiding splendour of Divine truth in Ireland.’

Cardinal Brady expressed the hope that "more and more Irish people, who have lost their connection with faith, will rediscover it and rediscover what St. Patrick called 'the joy and love of faith.'" May it be so.

St. Patrick’s Prayer for the Faithful

May the Strength of God pilot us.

May the Power of God preserve us.

May the Wisdom of God instruct us. 

May the Hand of God protect us.

May the Way of God direct us.

May the Shield of God defend us.

May the Host of God guard us. 

Against the snares of the evil ones. 

Against temptations of the world
May Christ be with us!

May Christ be before us!

May Christ be in us, 
Christ be over all! 

May Thy Salvation, Lord, 
Always be ours, 

This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How Can We Live Septuagesima in an Ordinary Time World? Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB, Explains It All to Us

Roseanne T. Sullivan

The title of this blog was suggested by a question that Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Parish of Newark, CA, posted today on Facebook, “How can you live Septuagesima in an Ordinary Time world?” I had gone to sleep last night and had woken up again this morning pondering a similar question (although not in those exact words).

I began thinking about Septuagesima yesterday because I was a little surprised that this pre-Lenten season is upon us already. Blogger Veronica Brandt drew my attention to this imminent change of seasons by posting a little video yesterday on "Farewell to Alleluia" in the "Views from the Choir Loft" blog that showed some of her five children using puppets to sing Alleluias as a way to say “goodbye to the Alleluia.” She wrote, “In the Extraordinary Form tomorrow is Septuagesima, or (roughly) the 70th day before Easter, where all alleluias are suddenly taken away.” You may be wondering, “What does that mean, that all Alleluias are suddenly taken away? And what’s this about singing goodbye to the Alleluia?”

Father Keyes mentioned an Ordinary time world because the new calendar of 1969 removed the Septuagesima season, absorbing the three Sundays and two days that make up the season of Septuagesima into Ordinary time. Even though I was raised a Catholic and attended Mass for years before the liturgical calendar was changed, I only heard about Septuagesima maybe six years ago, and I’m still finding out what it means. For me, as I’m sure is true for others, writing about a subject is the best way to learn about it. It’s a rich subject, and I can just barely scratch the surface, but here goes with a little introduction to Septuagesima, for those who live in an ordinary time world or those who, like me, worship according to the traditional calendar, but just haven’t been paying attention.

For help with understanding what this season means, perhaps the greatest resource is the great 19th century abbot of Solesmes Benedictine monastery, Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB. “Dom Guéranger, abbot of Solesmes from 1837-1875, was one of the leading monastics and liturgists of his generation, and his writings were highly influential both in France and abroad. He is perhaps best known today through the pages of his L'Année Liturgique - The Liturgical Year - which he began in 1841 in order to make the riches of the liturgy more widely known by the faithful.” (From the "Introduction" to The Liturgical Year).

Dom Guéranger devoted a whole volume of The Liturgical Year to “Septuagesima,” which you can find at Amazon or online. In his “Preface,” Dom Guéranger refers to Septuagesima as a season of “transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important Seasons, - Christmas and Lent.”

In the Gospel of Septuagesima Sunday, the master invites workers into his vineyard, and he pays the ones who came last the same as the ones who worked all day in the heat of the sun. "The last shall be first, and the first shall be last."

In the chapter titled “The History of Septuagesima,” Dom Guéranger adds, “The Church, therefore, has instituted a preparation for the holy time of Lent. She gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, during which she withdraws us, as much as may be, from the noisy distractions of the world, in order that our hearts may be the more readily impressed by the solemn warning she is to give us, at the commencement of Lent, by marking our foreheads with ashes.”

Septuagesima Sunday is the ninth Sunday before Lent, and it is the day on which the Septuagesima season of preparation for Lent has begun for more than 1,000 years in the traditional calendar. The Septuagesima season is made up of three Sundays: Septuagesima (which means seventieth), Sexagesima (which means sixtieth), and Quinquagesima (which means fiftieth), and it extends until Ash Wednesday.

Quadragesima is the name given in most languages to the season of Lent that starts on Ash Wednesday. For a few examples, in Spanish the name is cuaresma, in Portuguese quaresma, in French carême, and in Italian quaresima. In English, in contrast, the word for spring, lent, was used, which derives from the German word for long, because at this time of year the days get longer.

Also in “The History of Septuagesima,” Dom Guéranger explains that the names are of the Sundays in Septuagesima are in reference to Quadragesima, “The first Sunday of Lent being called Quadragesima (Forty), each of the three previous Sundays has a name expressive of an additional ten: the nearest to Lent being called Quinquagesima (Fifty); the middle one, Sexagesima (Sixty); the third, Septuagesima (Seventy). In “The History of Septuagesima” chapter in the Septuagesima volume, he writes: “The words Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima, tell us of the same great Solemnity as looming in the distance, and as being the great object towards which the Church would have us now begin to turn all our thoughts, and desires, and devotion.”

So it is obvious that in this season as in all aspects of the Catholic faith, numbers are always highly weighted with symbolism but they often are not used literally. For more examples, although Quinquagesima means fiftieth, it is actually forty-nine days before Easter. It is fifty days before Easter only if you include the day of Easter itself. (Similarly, Pentecost is supposed to be fifty days after Easter, but that is true only if you count Easter and Pentecost in the numbers of days.) The numbering of the Sundays in Septuagesima gets more approximate the further back each Sunday is from Quinquagesima. Sexagesima, which means sixtieth, is actually fifty-six days before Easter, and Septuagesima (seventieth) is actually sixty-three days.

And as Dom Guéranger explains, the mysteries of the Septuagesima "season of holy mourning" are based on the number seven, which is one of the most significant of all the numbers associated with the doctrine of the Catholic faith. In one way, the season of Septuagesima can also be seen as embracing the whole time between now and Easter. “The season upon which we are now entering is expressive of several profound mysteries. But these mysteries belong not only to the three weeks which are preparatory to Lent: they continue throughout the whole period of time which separates us from the great feast of Easter. … The people of Israel, whose whole history is but one great type of the human race, was banished from Jerusalem and kept in bondage in Babylon. 

Now, this captivity, which kept the Israelites exiles from Sion, lasted seventy years; and it is to express this mystery, as Alcuin, Amalarius, Ivo of Chartres, and all the great liturgists tell us, that the Church fixed the number of seventy for the days of expiation. It is true, there are but sixty-three days between Septuagesima and Easter; but the Church, according to the style so continually used in the sacred Scriptures, uses the round number instead of the literal and precise one.”

How the Church Keeps Septuagesima

Beginning with Compline (Night Prayer) on the Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday, the Alleluia, Gloria, and Te Deum are not said any more until Easter. Two extra Alleluias are said or sung at Vespers on that Saturday. In some places charming ceremonies have been practiced in which an Alleluia is put into a little coffin and buried, to be resurrected again only on Easter Sunday. Throughout Septuagesima, violet vestments are worn, except on feasts observed during weekdays.

Following is Dom Guéranger’s much more thorough and lyrical way of explaining these differences from his chapter “The Mystery of Septuagesima.”

“The leading feature, then, of Septuagesima is the total suspension of the Alleluia, which is not to be again heard upon the earth, until the arrival of that happy day, when, having suffered death with our Jesus, and having been buried together with him, we shall rise again with him to a new life [Coloss. ii. 12].

“The sweet Hymn of the Angels, Gloria in excelsis Deo, which we have sung every Sunday since the Birth of our Saviour in Bethlehem, is also taken from us; it is only on the Feasts of the Saints, which may be kept during the week, that we shall be allowed to repeat it. The night Office of the Sunday is to lose, also, from now till Easter, its magnificent Ambrosian Hymn, the Te Deum . . ..

“After the Gradual of the Mass, instead of the thrice repeated Alleluia, which prepared our hearts to listen to the voice of God in the Holy Gospel, we shall hear but a mournful and protracted chant, called, on that account, the Tract.

“That the eye, too, may teach us, that the Season we are entering on, is one of mourning, the Church will vest her Ministers, (both on Sundays and the days during the week, which are not Feasts of Saints,) in the sombre Purple."

The Proper prayers of the Mass and the other prayers and readings in the Mass and in the Divine Office are all in the mournful vein of the season too.

Here is a link to "Circumdederunt Me," which is the Introit for Septuagesima Sunday and is a fitting introduction to this season of mourning. It was ‪recorded being sung in Bologna by the Schola Gregoriana Benedetto XVI. “The sorrows of death surrounded me, the sorrows of hell encompassed me; and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and He heard my voice from His holy temple. -- (Ps.17. 2, 3). I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength: the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.“

How Are We to Keep Septuagesima?

Dom Guéranger also tells us how we are supposed to keep Septuagesima:
• By entering into the spirit of the Church in sober, mournful, preparation for the penitence of Lent
• By growing in holy fear of God
• By considering what original sin and our own sins have done to deserve God’s judgments
• By rising up from indifference
• By realizing our need for the saving sacrifice of Christ that we will remember in great detail during Lent
"After having spent the three weeks of Septuagesima in meditating upon our spiritual infirmities, and upon the wounds caused in us by sin, - we should be ready to enter upon the penitential season, which the Church has now begun. We have now a clearer knowledge of the justice and holiness of God, and of the dangers that await an impenitent soul; and, that our repentance might be earnest and lasting, we have bade farewell to the vain joys and baubles of the world. Our pride has been humbled by the prophecy, that these bodies would soon be like the ashes that wrote the memento of death upon our foreheads.” – Dom Guéranger in “The Practice of Lent" in The Liturgical Year.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Noteworthy Candlemas Masses on the East and West Coasts of the US on February 2, 2014

These two posters from Baltimore, MD, and Palo Alto, CA announce noteworthy sung Candlemas Masses in the Extraordinary Form—which will take place on opposite coasts of the United States this coming Sunday February 2, 2014. Also see the larger versions at the end of this blog.

In Palo Alto, the St. Ann choir, directed by Stanford Musicology Professor, William Peter Mahrt, who is President of the Church Music Association of America and Editor of the journal Sacred Music, will sing Missa Quarti Toni by Tomás Luis de Victoria along with several motets, including Anima mea liquefacta est (Rivafrecha), Christe, Fili Dei (Josquin), and Ave Verum Corpus (Byrd). The Palo Alto Mass will be sung at St. Albert the Great Church, the choir's temporary home while St Thomas Aquinas Church, where the choir usually sings at Sunday Masses, is being renovated. This is a good opportunity to hear a Mass by Victoria, who is the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation.
St. Albert the Great Church
1095 Channing Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 494-2496
The Candlemas Mass in Baltimore will be sung by the professional choir of Mount Calvary Church. Mount Calvary is a Roman Catholic parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The choir sings under the direction of Daniel Bennett Page, a music historian specializing in liturgical music in sixteenth-century England (including Byrd) and undergraduate dean at the University of Baltimore. The Ordinary of the Mass will be William Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices. This event offers a rare opportunity to hear both Byrd's Mass for Five Voices and his Propers for the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple (from the Gradualia of 1605) sung at a Catholic Mass, where this music is meant to be sung, instead of in a concert hall or academic setting. According to the website, “This annual feast day rarely falls on a Sunday, and so 2014 provides a particularly apt opportunity to undertake this special project.”

Mount Calvary Church
816 N. Eutaw Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-4624

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Repost from 2008: Visiting the Squalor of the Real Stable of Bethlehem

My pre-Christmas meditations were mostly about the stable. The one that Christ was born into. The one that He lives in, in my heart.

These meditations were partly fueled by a story that was sent to me before Christmas by Hilary Rojo. (Hilary and her husband Mac organized the pilgrimage I took to Israel in 2005.)

Hilary's story was about the couple's experiences as they went to Bethlehem to attend Midnight Mass one unspecified Christmas Eve. They had gotten tickets months in advance, and they looked forward to the chance to celebrate one of the holiest nights of the year in one of the holiest spots in the world.

As I had found out when I was there, Bethlehem is Palestinian controlled. Our Israeli-driven bus had to park in a garage on one side of the border. Then we had to walk down a street and through a security checkpoint in a building where rifle-armed guards strolled on open catwalks over our heads. When we exited the building, we were in Bethlehem. We had to get into a Palestinian-driven bus and continue our journey to the Church of the Nativity.

When the Rojos got to Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity that Christmas Eve, the din was hellish. As more and more people poured into the square, the press of bodies was so intense, it sometimes was hard to breathe. The way Hilary told it, the Palestinian soldiers who provided security stood by and laughed among themselves at the tourists as they pushed and shoved each other trying to get to the head of the line. A flying wedge of Germans elbowed by them. Young Palestinian children pushed into the crowd to pick pockets.

The Rojos were dismayed even further when then they saw the soldiers only allowed dignitaries and their entourages to enter the church doors. The Rojos stuck it out, mostly because there was no escape, and no place else to go. Their tour bus was locked in a garage. After a long wait, it seemed their persistence had been rewarded when they got as far as the church door. They were briefly relieved, until the guards suddenly announced, “The church is full, go away!” and BANG, the big wooden doors slammed shut.

Just as suddenly they spotted another opening, the famous Door of Humility, which some say was bricked over at the top and one side to keep the Crusaders from riding their horses into the church. In any case, the door keeps you humble because you must bow your head to enter.

Below: Door of humility

The Rojos rushed over to the door, and suddenly Hilary recognized Mahmoud Abass, the former president of the Fatah movement. She looked him in the eye, and then she and Mac got in line and drafted through the door on his figurative coattails.

Abass and his entourage were escorted to a reserved seating area in the adjacent church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, while the Rojos melted into the crowd somewhere behind him in a press of bodies that was as packed as the square outside had been. They couldn’t even see the altar. People began to faint and throw up all around them. Chunks were actually flying through the air. In the heat and unpleasantness, the stench and the fear, Hilary complained to God, “Is this what Christmas is all about in Bethlehem? Is this what I get for coming half way around the world to honor your Son?””

She went on to write that as soon as she had finished her lamentations, “the room became mysteriously quiet for me. I suddenly felt at peace and then felt a warmth encircle me. A thought/voice questioned me in a soft and loving tone, `What do you think it was like 2,000 years ago? Didn’t you want to experience the birth?’”

During my visit with my spiritual director, Carmelite Fr. Donald Kinney, in December, I had been telling him about my struggles. As we attempt to grow closer to God, the areas in which we fall short of His perfection become disgustingly vivid to us in the illumination of His Light. Fr. Kinney said in consolation that Christ is with us even then. After all, "Christ was born in a stable," I told him Hilary's story. He nodded, yes that's it.

"It's not a pretty sight, Father!" True, but He is with us any way.

When we create our little manger scenes, we leave out the manure and the flies. But these were surely part of that first Christmas night. City folks may not have experienced a stable first hand, so they don't know. Where you have asses and oxen--and humans--you have excrement.

The spot where Christ was born is covered by marble and a silver star now. You get to it now by going down a narrow stairway under the basilica. Two stone mangers were excavated there in the past few years that were dated scientifically as 2,000 years old, so there really was a stable in that cave.
Below: Star over the spot where Christ was born

Speaking about animals and smells, I remember the shock of my first visit as an adult to my Uncle Ralph and Aunt Irene's dairy farm in Wisconsin. The reek of cow urine permeated even the farmhouses. And as I gradually came to realize, much of the dairy farmers' energy is devoted to shoveling out the manure. Beside most barns in the country in winter is a manure pile sometimes as high as the roof, which will be spread on the fields in the upcoming spring as fertilizer.

While we were still sinners, Christ was born for us, lived with us and died for us. And He resides with us still, in the stables of our hearts, even if the best we can give him for a welcome is a bed in a manger full of hay and a modicum of warmth from a mix of animal breath and steaming manure.

It helps to be reminded of this from time to time, He is with us no matter how high and deep the pile is. Dare I hope that a composting is happening and that spring will bring the time when all that rich composted stuff will be plowed under to prepare the soil for the seed time and the harvest to come?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Another Letter to Roger Magnuson 02/23/2006

Sad to say, Roger Magnuson was buried yesterday. His obituary is here.

Roger Magnuson wrote me back after I sent him the letter in my last post, and below was my reply.

February 23, 2006
Hello Roger,
A bit belated thanks to you for writing. I know you are one busy man, and I feel blessed by your taking the time to respond to me.

So you think the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon? Whew! All I could think when I read that was it’s good to know where you stand. Don’t pull any punches!

Who says God is a Federalist? It seems like a kind of glib thing to say. 

I don’t have your problem with Canon Law or the significance given to it by Raphael’s portrayal of the handing off of the Decretals by St. Raymond of Pennafort to Gregory XI.  (I remember the Raphael stanzas from my quick run through the Vatican museum.)

As you of all people must know, societies have to be built on law. Canon law exists to help ensure uniformity of doctrine and practice. It serves as a curb to help keep people from promoting unorthodox interpretations of the Scripture or doing odd things in the liturgy.

(Claiming that the word translated as “wine” in the Scriptures really means “raisin paste” and replacing wine with grape juice, as I heard and saw done at First Free come to mind.)

You and I both know that God in the person of Jesus Christ said, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Our Lord also gave Peter the keys to the kingdom, saying what he bound on earth would be bound in heaven and what he loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven Matthew 16:17-19.

 Jesus also prayed before He died that we all would be one. When Jesus spoke with Peter on the beach on the Sea of Galilee, He led Peter to affirm his love for Him three times while gently allowing him to repudiate his triple denial during Christ’s passion, Christ then told Peter  to feed his sheep John 21:15-17.

And after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter is the one who preached and converted 3,000. (For the Catholic Encyclopedia’s discussion of the role of the pope and these passages, you might look at: How do you explain those events?

You didn’t reply to the point I raised in my last letter about Peter being given a share in the awesome role of the Rock in the New Covenant. God was our Rock throughout all the Psalms and the rest of the Old Testament. Christ  bestowed Rock-ness on Peter!  Isn’t that awesome?  Christ took that foolish fisherman (who I can relate to in many ways), who sinned greatly, and gave him the responsibility for being the Rock for His people. Christ proved His Mercy, His forgiveness, and His ability to achieve His work through weak vessels by building His Church on Peter.

Am I being overly skeptical by suspecting that you avoided addressing what I said and threw an emotionally explosive distraction my way with your Whore of Babylon statement?  I’ve studied rhetoric, and I see politicians practice those kinds of techniques all the time. Don’t like where the line of questioning is going? Distract and deflect! Forgive me if I am off base with this thought.

And now for some thoughts on the topic of Mary.  When I came back to the Catholic Church, I brought with me the Protestant distrust for the seemingly excessive way that Catholics honor Mary. So I prayed, “Lord, please help me understand what all this is about Your mother.” And He did.  Our God is an awesome God who answers prayers. Now because of what He showed me over time, I love her greatly.

The image that resonates with me mostly strongly about Mary is from one of the many titles in the litany of Our Lady: “Ark of the Covenant.” I think I remember you speaking about the Ark of the Covenant and the passage in 2 Samuel 6 where when Oza simply touched the Ark he died.  It is disturbing that merely touching the ark would kill a man who had no intent to desecrate it, but the fact remains that the Ark was sacred and powerful, and it had to be held in awe for what it contained.

The Ark held the Tablets of the Law, the rod of Aaron that had blossomed, and manna, and it was the Holy of Holies. The Lord God spoke to His people from between the hovering cherubim.
Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, held the Most High God in her body for nine months.  Even if she hadn’t been conceived without sin, which the Church has claimed for millenia (and even Luther believed and kept on believing until his death) nine months of being a tabernacle for the body of Most High would have made anyone holier than the Holy of Holies, in my humble opinion.

And the thing is that this is only one of the attributes of Mary that cause us to venerate her.
I met a Jewish convert on my pilgrimage to Israel (former Harvard faculty member, Ray Schoeman, author of Salvation is From the Jews) who was converted to Catholicism by miraculaous encounters first with God and then a year later with Mary. When he met Mary, he didn’t know who she was. He was so overwhelmed with her purity and her presence, he was tempted to worship her, but she told him, “None of this is from me. It is all from my Son.” (Roy’s conversion story is at]

Why not honor Mary? We show our regard for our King by honoring His mother.  The Magnificat includes her prophecy “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Gabriel hailed her as full of Grace. So we say Hail Mary, full of grace, and call her blessed among women and Mother of God. None of these honorifics are disputable. We believe that a lover of Christ must love His mother.
I’ve read this before about Luther, but I copied this  today from the Internet about what Luther believed:
The infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin . . . From the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin.  (Sermon: "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527)The eminent Lutheran theologian Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73), of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, after years of study, confirmed Luther's unswerving acceptance of the Immaculate Conception until his death.
The Church has written about Mary as free from sin from earliest patristic days. It seems fitting that God would conceive His Son in a pure woman. It’s fruitful to ponder the fact that Mary was the first human created without sin after Adam and Eve. Like our first parents, she could have sinned, but she didn’t.  She became the new Eve. Her Son Jesus was the new Adam.

I just found this passage too at another website examining Mary’s role in the church, which to me illustrates that some of the animosity to Catholic teaching about Mary may be based on misinterpretations:
Calvin and Zwingli objected, however, to the Catholic tendency to ascribe qualities to Mary which apply only to God ("our life, our sweetness, and our hope").
Coincidentally, I was pondering this very phrase last night, when it occurred to me that the full phrase is “Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.”  Or as the ancient antiphon “Salve Regina” goes, “Mater misericordia, vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve.” She is the mother of Christ who is Mercy, who is our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
I’m praying that in both of our hearts, the Truth wins out.
Love from your sister in Christ,
The following is my response to the horrible priest scandals in the Catholic Church, which I have posted at my website: I wrote it as a response to a fellow Catholic tech writer, and I hope you might read it because it frankly looks at the root causes. Nobody ever looks at the root causes . . ..

Answering Scandal with Personal Holiness
From: "Mary N."
To: "Roseanne Sullivan"
Subject: I added my name to votf today
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002


I had to tell you this. I hope you don't mind.
I don't know what you think about the Catholic church's scandal of the year erupting on the east coast, but it's something I think about more than I want to admit. What is coming out in the news strikes me as horrible in every sense of the word, and I am saddened by a church that really has done a lot of good in the world making a mockery of itself by all the denials and weasel-wording that seems to be taking place. I just don't get it.

At the same time, I can't walk away from the church, either. At least not yet. It's hard enough trying to be a Catholic these days without all the scandal heaped on top of the day to day living.
I added my email address to Voice of the Faithful's website today. I don't know if you've heard about them, but I think that this new group captures the essence of the possible good that could come out of this. If you're interested in hearing more about them, go to At times, I've thought about joining Call to Action, but a lot of what they stand for seems too radical even for me. The VOTF people have a chance, though.

Date: Wed, 22 May 2002
From: Roseanne Sullivan
Subject: Answering Scandal with Personal Holiness
To: Mary N.
 "You don't judge something by those who don't live it, but by those who do."
 --Rev. Roger Landry in a sermon dated 2/12/2002: Answering Scandal with Personal Holiness

Hi Mary,
Thank you very much for letting me know what you are going through about the abuse scandals and the coverups.

I never heard of votf until I looked at the web site. I will think about whether I should participate. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it, except that it might give more ammunition to the people who are trying to condemn the Church itself, rather than the sinful individuals who are to blame in this scandal. I certainly couldn't support call to action.

The way I think about the scandals is that evil permeates everything in this world, including some people in the Church.

For how to respond to this evil, I look to St. Francis' example. During his time when abuses were rampant in the Church and some bishops lived like secular princes, St. Francis lived his life simply according to the teachings of Christ. [Like all the great saints, he went to the Bible to find out how to live.] And He would even kiss the feet of priests whether they were living good moral lives or not because they had the exalted privilege of consecrating the body of Christ.

In other words, Francis did not condemn or point fingers or try to bring down the current Church hierarchy or start a new religion. He set himself to love God with his whole heart. He also set himself to live completely the authentic teachings of the Church. And his example inspired millions to clean up their own acts.

Luther when faced with the same set of abuses started a new church.

When priests are immoral and false to their calling, it is a great evil and a great shame. And Christ I am certain is grieved that little ones have been molested by priests who are supposed to be acting in His name. There is something much worse than a millstone around the neck waiting for priests like that.
Here are some of the root causes I see. After Vatican II, a lot of people thought that because some precepts changed (such as not requiring people to abstain from meat on Friday), that the whole doctrine and moral teachings passed down from the apostles were up for grabs. What I see in the modern Catholic Church are lots of people who think that Vatican II meant that the Church should conform to the world's ideas of what is right and wrong. The flaw behind that idea is, as it says somewhere in the Bible, the devil is the prince of this world.

As one part of the post-Vatican II attitude, I have noticed that priests seem to have a naive faith in the power of psychologists. If you go to them for spiritual counseling they often tell you to get secular counseling. I believe the Church has the answers, and I don't want to go for advice to someone who is probably an atheist and a moral relativist, like most psychologists I've met.

What I'm trying to say is that the problems we are seeing now are partly from the fact that this generation has put too much credibility in the pronouncements of psychiatrists and psychologists. For one example of how wrong they can be, about 20 years ago, I was acquainted with an older woman getting a PhD in psychology at the U of MN. She was reading in psych journals solemn affirmations of Kinsey's position: that sex between adults and children can be good. She didn't practice it herself but she acquiesced because she had a respect for experts. At that time a lot of counselors were having sex with their clients because they believed it was beneficial--for the client. She was one of the clients of a psychologist who thought that way and she was going along with it.

Did you know that Kinsey did most of his research on pederasty by interviewing one subject who had abused hundreds and hundreds of children? You can search for Kinsey at google and prove it. That is how he was able to document how early in a child's development a child is capable of orgasms and how many. The pederast took notes! Just think, the fact that Kinsey didn't turn the guy in has never been seen as a coverup. After all, as a psychologist and a scientist, he had to protect the man's privacy, and couldn't reveal his sources.

Kinsey and others have also promoted the idea that a child who has been molested will not be traumatized unless his parents make a fuss.

I bet you many priests and bishops even those who were pure themselves might have swallowed those lines of baloney.

And I have found homosexuals I have known to believe that sexual repression of any sort is wrong and that children should be taught to explore sexuality without any limits. For example, at one point in my lift I hung out with Alan Ginsbery and his lover Peter Orlovsky, and they talked fondly about how Peter walked around naked in one family's house and how cute it was that a small child came up and touched Peter's .... I found out before he died that Ginsberg was a member of the Man Boy Love Association. MBLA, and he practiced it himself.

A man I was once involved with, who since has decided he is a homosexual at one point years after I had last seen him and had two children mused about how he would like to get a chance to free my children from the sexually-repressive teaching he was sure I was foisting on them.

I don't have any proof, but I am convinced that the almost all the priests who are abusers of boys were practicing homosexuals before and probably after they joined the priesthood. It is going to be hard to be a good priest, I believe, if you have been practicing unloving uncommitted sex for its own sake, hetero or homo, outside of marriage. Just saying some vows won't automatically make you able to resist the impulses you cultivated before you made the vows. And when you secretly or not so secretly believe there is no harm in it, then you definitely won't put up too big of a fight.

At the same time period I knew the PhD student quoting the experts about the beneficial nature of children having sex with adults, my daughter Sunshine was a student at the Children's Theatre Company. When the scandal about John Donohue molesting students came out, many parents rallied to John's defense. I remember I was interviewed by TV news and I told them "Parents have been paying him a lot of money to teach their children, not to molest them." They then interviewed a very modern little girl next to me who confidently spoke to the microphone: "It takes two, you know." Can't you just hear through her what was being said around her house? I've heard the same thought expressed in my own family.

It just crossed my mind that we don't say that the theater industry is evil because of people like Donohue, do we? Donohue was a member of MBLA too. And we don't brand all psychologists as evil because some of them sexually abuse their clients or because some of them promoted rot such as the stuff I quoted earlier.

The Church is Christ's body on earth, a mystical body whose breath is the Holy Spirit. Even though some Catholics close themselves off from the Spirit, the Spirit is alive. God will not abandon His Church, because the Church is His Body on this earth.

I cry about what is happening. There is more to cry about than the sexual abuse of young people, horrible as that is. I pray to God to purge the Church of unworthy shepherds who are not caring for the sheep that God has entrusted to them. And for those who are teaching their own opinions formed by the most cynical of wordly philosophers instead of what God has taught.

Here is what I think of the coverups. Those of the bishops who haven't capitulated to modern mores probably put too much stock in the notion that you can trust a repentant priest to be able to stay away from sin.

I'll call them the "good bishops." The good bishops, being maybe more virtuous than many of us, probably did not understand how hard it is to break the hold of habitual sin. So they might not realize that turning away from sin is not just a matter of deciding to not do something wrong again. They don't know that sin is addictive, and even if a priest is truly repentent, he might not be able to turn away from the behavior just by wanting to. They saw it as their duty to forgive.

And I know the priests that were only outwardly repentant got a lot of mileage out of their superiors' beliefs that they had to forgive and rehabilitate sinning priests.

I know that the notion of turning the sinning priests over to the authorities probably never occurred to the bishops.

I am personally affronted by the fact that some bishops really didn't seem to realize that these activities weren't just (oh well) a result of our sinful fallen human nature. And that they didn't seem to be concerned appropriately with how terrible it was that children were being used for sex. And I'm affronted that the priests who were abusers could allow themselves to do those terrible things. I definitely think there was too much tolerance.

I also think that the good bishops and the others also were bound to try to avoid scandal that might damage the reputation of the Church (as is happening right now). I don't think it was a coverup to save their own skins (like the attempted Watergate or Monica Lewinsky coverups). The motive was to avoid bringing shame on the Church. If they made it public that nice Father Shanley was doing unspeakable things with the altar boys, they would cause a lot of people to lose heart and maybe to lose faith. As is the case right now.

How they could have reassigned these wolves to other parishes and not forced them to leave ministry, even I cannot come up with an explanation for that. How they could promise parents to deal with an offender, and then allow him to keep offending, I don't know about that either. Maybe they were like us all, too busy, finding it hard to put things in the proper priority. Maybe they just let proper action slide out of avoidance for distasteful tasks.

I am glad that the Pope has affirmed (to the dismay of some of the American false-compassionate bishops) that no man who practices such things can be allowed in the priesthood.

Don't bail out Mary.

Here is the title of a sermon written by a very articulate priest after the scandals broke: Answering Scandal with Personal Holiness. He said that even one of Christ's closest friends betrayed him. Don't let these betrayals separate you from the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.
Affectionately from your Catholic friend,

This site discusses the Whore of Babylon argument.