Traditional Mass

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saints Simon & Jude: Transferred from October 28th

[Transferred from Oct. 28th]

Simon is called in the Gospels "the zealous one." Jude was the brother of St. James the Less and therefore related to Christ. He is the author of one of the seven Catholic (i.e., addressed to all the faithful) Epistles in the New Testament. It is not known for certain where Simon and Jude preached the Gospel after Pentecost; but according to tradition they finally went to evangelize Persia and were martyred together there.

INTROIT (Ps. 138:17)
Your friends are greatly honored by me, O God; their pre-eminence is definitely established.
Ps. O Lord, you have proved me and You know me; You know when I sit and when I stand.
V. Glory be . . .

O God, Your blessed apostles Simon and Jude brought us the knowledge of Your Holy Name. May our progress in virtue add honor to their eternal glory, and may the honor we pay them make us even more holy. Through Christ Our Lord . . .

EPISTLE (Eph. 4: 7-13)
Brethren: But to every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the giving of Christ.Wherefore he saith: "Ascending on high, he led captivity captive: he gave gifts to men." Now that he ascended, what is it, but because he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens: that he might fill all things. And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors: For the perfecting of the saints, for the word of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Until we all meet into the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ.

GRADUAL (Ps. 44:17-18)
You shall make them princes through all the land; they shall remember Your Name, O Lord. V. To take the place of your fathers, sons shall be born to you; therefore peoples shall praise you.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. (Ps. 138:17)
Your friends are greatly honored by me, O God; their pre-eminence is definitely established. Alleluia!

GOSPEL (St. John 15:17-25)
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name's sake: because they know not him that sent me.
"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin: but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father. But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: 'They hated me without cause.' "

Their voice has gone forth through all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

O Lord, we pay homage to the everlasting glory of Your holy apostles Simon and Jude. May these sacred mysteries atone for our sins so that we may be more worthy to honor them. Through Christ Our Lord . . .

You who have followed Me shall sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

We who received Your Sacraments, O Lord, humbly pray that this sacred rite which we offer in honor of the sufferings of Your blessed apostles Simon and Jude may heal our own infirmities through their intercession. Through Christ Our Lord . . .

Sterling Silver Antiqued St Jude Medal Charm (Google Affiliate Ad)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

OCTOBER 27 Ferial Day, Our Lady's Mass on Saturday, Vigil of Sts. Simon & Jude

St Jude
St Jude (Photo credit: Fergal of Claddagh)
(Mass of preceding Sunday)
[Requiem or Votive Mass allowed]

St Simon
St Simon (Photo credit: Fergal of Claddagh)
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saint Raphael the Archangel


Archangel Raphael is known through the Book of Tobias in the Old Testament. He there appeared in human form as a gracious young man called Azarias, to protect the younger Tobias on his journey from Ninive to a city of the Medes. In the process he found a wife for Tobias, and later delivered her from an evil spirit; he also healed the elder Tobias of blindness. Raphael is "one of the seven who stand before the Lord" (Tob. 12:15). Today's Prayer speaks of him as a companion in journeys. The Reading shows him as presenting our prayers to God. The Gospel is a reminder of Raphael's healing powers, for his name means "God has healed."

INTROIT Ps. 102:20
Bless the Lord all you His angels, you mighty in strength who do His bidding, obeying the voice of His commands. 
. 102:1. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all my being bless His holy Name. 
. Glory be . . .

O God, who sent the blessed Archangel Raphael to accompany Your servant Tobias on his journey, grant that we, Your servants, may also be guarded by him always and strengthened by his assistance. Through our Lord.

LESSON Tob. 12:7-15
English: The Angel Raphael and the Family of T...
English: The Angel Raphael and the Family of Tobit (Tob. 12:1-12) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In those days, the angel Raphael said to Tobias: "For it is good to hide the secret of a king: to reveal and confess the works of God. Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than to lay up treasures of gold. For alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting. But they that commit sin and iniquity, are enemies to their own soul. I discover then the truth unto you, and I will not hide the secret from you." When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord. And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee. And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son's wife from the devil. For I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord."

GRADUAL Tob. 8:3; pS. 146:5
Raphael, the angel of the Lord, took the devil and bound him. 
. Great is our Lord, and great His power!

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 137:1-2 
I will sing Your praise in the sight of the angels; I will worship in Your holy temple and give glory to Your Name, O Lord. Alleluia!

GOSPEL John 5:1-4
After these things was a festival day of the Jews: and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered: waiting for the moving of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.

An Angel stood before the altar of the temple, having in his hand a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, and the smoke of the incense went up before God.

O Lord, graciously accept the sacrifice of praise we offer You. May it bring us closer to our salvation through the angel's prayers of intercession. Through Christ, our Lord . . .

All you Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord; sing a hymn of praise and exalt Him above all forever.

O Lord God, send the holy Archangel Raphael to help us, so that he, who we believe stands always before Your Throne, may present our humble prayers for Your blessing. Through our Lord . . .

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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Return to Rome, Five Years Later: Catholic World Report

Former sedevacantist nuns reflect on their joyful return to the Church and on their lives in a thriving new religious community.

Five years ago, a major change came to the lives of Sister Mary Eucharista, a member of the Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI), and 14 of her fellow sisters living at Mount St. Michael (“the Mount”) in Spokane, Washington. Bishop Mark Pivarunas, the Superior General of the CMRI organization, told the sisters they had to leave the community if they did not stop promoting “heterodox” views among the other 35 sisters.
But their “heresy” was not the kind American Catholics have seen in some communities
English: Pope Benedict XVI
English: Pope Benedict XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
of nuns in recent generations. Sister Mary Eucharista and her sisters were asked to leave because they had come to believe that Pope Benedict XVI was indeed the legitimate head of the Roman Catholic Church.  

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Laudamus Te – Magazine for the Extraordinary Form


For Catholics that attend the Mass in the usus antiquior or Extraordinary Form.
Laudamus Te – The Magazine of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite will begin publication during Advent this year. Subscriptions run $32 for the year, which is a quite reasonable cost.
Here is their explanation of their mission,
"Laudamus Te is a seasonal publication providing the daily Mass readings for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Catholic Mass as well as explanatory essays, commentaries by saints and the Church Fathers throughout the 2,000 year history of the Church, and devotional essays by priests, religious, and laity. The publication is intended to draw the faithful into a better understanding of the Mass, inspire deeper meditation and devotion, and educate and inform those who are new to the Extraordinary Form."
Here is the link to their web site:

Hat-tip to 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Moynihan Report: Letter #29: Will the bishop be expelled?

October 17, 2012, Wednesday -- Will the bishop be expelled?

A report is circulating that the controversial traditional Catholic bishop, Richard Williamson, may soon be expelled from the Society of St. Pius X


Williamson out?

Perhaps the most important bit of "news" in the long and interesting, and important, interview below, is at the very end. I'll copy that final paragraph and put it right here up top:

"[In other news from the Society of Saint Pius X: Mr. Stephen Heiner, a layman who has long been close to Bishop Richard Williamson (photo, from 1991, 20 years ago), one of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, confirms his imminent removal from the Society of Saint Pius X.]"

This paragraph was published yesterday on the web site Rorate Coeli, which concentrates on traditional Catholic issues and events and is a useful website for these issues. (Link: "Rorate coeli" is the Latin of Isaiah 45:8, meaning "Drop down dew, heavens," expressing the longing of those in a desert land for moisture, and by analogy, the longings of Israel, and of the Church, for spiritual water, for the truly just man -- the Messiah. Here is the complete passage from Isaiah:

V. Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum
(Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just)

R. Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem.
(Let the earth be opened and send forth a Savior).

Whether Williamson is expelled from the Society, or not, there is clearly some tension within the Society of St. Pius X.

The Society has, since 1988, been led by four bishops, of whom Williamson is one, ordained by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in June of that year.
Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel Lefebvre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Williamson, 72, a convert from Anglicanism, joined the movement of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in the 1970s at the time of his conversion to Catholicism. Always outspoken, he became especially controversial in January 2009, when Pope Benedict lifted his 1988 excommunication.

A Swedish television station, at the very time as the excommunication was being lifted aired a November 2008 interview with Williamson in which he said, citing the "Leuchter report," that he doubted the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and doubted that 6 million Jews had lost their lives under the National Socialist persecution of European Jewry during World War II, expressing his opinion that the number of Jews killed was far less. (So the interview was held for more than two months before being aired, and was aired only after the Pope's decision to lift Williamson's excommunication; this led some to suggest that the Swedish station had in some way "orchestrated" the interview and its airing in order to cast a shadow not simply on Williamson, but on Pope Benedict himself.)

Williamson's exact words were: "I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against, six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler" and "I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them in gas chambers."

The Vatican then declared that "in order to be admitted to episcopal functions within the Church, (Williamson) will have to take his distance, in an absolutely unequivocal and public fashion, from his position on the Shoah, which the Holy Father was not aware of when the excommunication was lifted."

In 2010, Williamson was convicted of incitement by a German court and fined €10,000, but this conviction was overruled by the German appeals court on February 22 this year, after it was found that the initial charges had failed to specify how and why Williamson had broken the law.

But it is not only Williamson's views on the Holocaust that are controversial. He has called Jews the "enemies of Christ," claimed that Jews and Freemasons have contributed to the "changes and corruption" in the Catholic Church and stated that Jews aim at world dominion.

Despite these views, it is Williams actions within the society that seem to have caused the tensions which may lead to his ouster.

He made an unauthorized visit at the end of August this year, two months ago, to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to about 100 lay people at the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. 

The Society of St. Pius X's South American district superior, Father Christian Bouchacourt, posted an official letter of complaint on the Society's website, and then a German Catholic website,, stated that because of this and Bishop Williamson's refusal to stop publishing his weekly e-mail, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Society's Superior, would expel him. 

Bouchacourt said the Williamson's Brazil visit was "a serious act against the virtue of obedience" that did not respect the Society’s procedures. The September 6 letter said the visit was "also an attack upon the most elementary demands of courtesy."

However, the Rorate coeli note about Williamson's possible imminent expulsion from the Society is only a small note at the end of a very long, interesting interview with a leader of the Society in Germany.

And this interview is worth reading for all who would like to get a sense of the mind of the Society following the apparent collapse this spring and summer of talks between the Society and Rome to end the Society's curent state of irregularity.

Therefore, after the note below on pilgrimages and subscribing to the magazine, we post the entire text of this interview.


Pilgrimages to Italy

Note: We invite all readers of this newsflash to consider joining us on one of our upcoming pilgrimages to Rome and Italy. For information, click on the link below:

Another Note: We invite all readers of this newsflash to subscribe to Inside the Vatican magazine, or give a gift subscription to a friend. If you appreciate these newsflashes, this is the best way you can show your appeciation and support.


Society of St. Pius X-Rome: "We are back to square one"

An interview with Father Niklaus Pfluger (photo below), First Assistant General of the Society of St. Pius X, on the present situation of the Society and the Church. (Kirchliche Umschau is a German Catholic monthly magazine.)

The original source for the English translation of this interview, posted on October 16, is:

In the interview below, Father Pfluger expresses his opinion that the Church is in a profound crisis, and will only overcome the crisis by returning to traditional Catholic faith and practice. 

The essence of the interview is in the following lines:

"We are witnessing a march to destruction unseen in history, a rising tide which not even the bishops can stem, using, as they do, tactics devoid of the spirit of Faith. Joseph Ratzinger, as a Council father 50 years ago, spoke of a Church, 'imbued with the spirit of paganism,' which the Council did its part to usher in.

"I am convinced that this turn of events, on the one hand, will bring the bishops to a more sober frame of mind, and, on the other hand, will leave only the conservatives holding fast, meaning those who quite simply wish to believe as the Church has always believed, and to persevere in their Catholic Faith."

Here is the entire interview.

Kirchliche Umschau: Just a few months ago, the Vatican seemed to be on the verge of granting canonical recognition to the Society. It seems now that all efforts were in vain. Bishop Müller, the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, suggested as much in several recent interviews.

Father Niklaus Pfluger: All efforts were not in vain, but an agreement in the near future is improbable. In both our estimation and that of the Curia, any agreement would be pointless unless we are on the same page about what the Faith really means. This common understanding was to be expressed in a “doctrinal declaration”, which we took ample time in drawing up, and in April 2012, Bishop Fellay, our Superior General, presented a preliminary, informal draft. But, to our great surprise, this text was rejected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. So we are back to square one.

Kirchliche Umschau: How do you account for Rome’s change of direction?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: In Rome there is a group strongly opposed to a canonical regularization for the Society. Such an official recognition would in effect be a sign that the post-Vatican II era is outdated and that a new chapter has begun. Of course, this would not suit the agenda of the Council’s supporters. For them, official recognition of the Society of St. Pius X would be not merely an insult, but also a questioning of the Council’s status, therefore a collapse. It appears that the Council’s adherents prevailed.

Kirchliche Umschau: Do you think that there could be a new development?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Not just think–I know! The facts are what they are. The Church everywhere in the world, with some rare exceptions, is undergoing a process of self-destruction, and not just in Europe. In Latin America, for example, things don’t seem to be any better. Where the economy is relatively strong, as in Germany, Swizterland, and the United States, the external structures remain. But the loss of the Faith can be seen everywhere. Now, without the Faith, there is no Church. In Germany, the bishops recently sent a clear message: the right to collect taxes from Church members is more important than 120,000 Catholics leaving the Church every year. We are witnessing a march to destruction unseen in history, a rising tide which not even the bishops can stem, using, as they do, tactics devoid of the spirit of Faith. Joseph Ratzinger, as a Council father 50 years ago, spoke of a Church, “imbued with the spirit of paganism,” which the Council did its part to usher in. I am convinced that this turn of events, on the one hand, will bring the bishops to a more sober frame of mind, and, on the other hand, will leave only the conservatives holding fast, meaning those who quite simply wish to believe as the Church has always believed, and to persevere in their Catholic Faith. With those holding fast, we will no longer need to argue. Agreement in the Faith will soon follow.

Kirchliche Umschau: You are insinuating that the tide of self-destruction will engulf liberal Catholics. But the liberals see things differently. They want even more reforms to assure the survival of the living Church.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: I am inventing nothing. I see events and where they lead. Which religious order or diocese has younger members to ensure its future growth, and which ones are dying out? We can observe that decline and dissolution are most apparent in those places where the so-called conciliar reforms are most eagerly followed. I don’t deny that, in the arena of public opinion–and on the parish level–the liberal approach is more acceptable. But the Church does not live by social acceptance or by human applause. She derives her energy from men and women who believe and practice their Faith, who are prepared to renounce worldly pleasures to become priests, monks, or nuns. These latter are conspicuously absent among the liberals, and that is why they now want to receive priestly ordination, but of course without celibacy, without any self-denial. And they naively expect to increase their vocations by lowering the standards!

Kirchliche Umschau: Do you foresee a new excommunication of the Society’s bishops, or even of the whole Society?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: There are many who might welcome a new excommunication, but during this pope’s reign, it seems highly improbable. How would they justify it? There is no “traditional heresy.” We do not belong to the sedevacantists. We fully accept that the assistance of the Holy Ghost is granted to the pope and the bishops. But from Rome’s standpoint, the Society was pronounced guilty of “disobedience” even when the excommunications from 1988 were later withdrawn. How would they justify new ecclesiastical penalties? For refusing the Council? In the Credo none of the articles state: “I believe in the Second Vatican Council…!” The imposing reality of the facts just mentioned should be more important than the discussions. We find today a new generation of young priests, who slowly but surely discover the Old Mass, and through it, the Catholic Faith in its entirety, and the authentic priesthood. But in many cases we find young Catholics interested in the Faith, who nearly always discover it outside of their parishes. These honest souls are very impressed by traditional doctrine and worship, even if they still attend the New Mass. They observe the Society, follow it with interest, seek to contact us, ask for our publications, and stay in communication with us. The same holds for the Ecclesia Deicommunities, and among diocesan priests, who, thanks to the Motu Proprio of 2007, have begun to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. We are more than just a Society with almost 600 priests; our influence is deeply felt in the Church, and particularly in those circles which have a future. If the Romans want to save face, they will wisely avoid an excommunication which they will soon have to revoke.

Kirchliche Umschau: So there is still a chance to regularize the Society, but it seems that the bottom line is to “recognize the Council.”
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Of course we recognize that there was a Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Lefebvre himself was a Council father. Nonetheless, we must admit that not only the post-conciliar reforms, but also certain texts of the Council itself are in contradiction with important doctrines already defined by the Church. Certain ambiguities and novelties are at the heart of the present dissolution taking place within the Church. For Rome, it is unacceptable that we speak of “the errors of the Council.” You see, we criticized the Council while it was everywhere being celebrated and when the Church enjoyed a deeper faith and vitality than it does today. Why would we suddenly make an about-face, when our warnings and criticisms have been vindicated over time? The sad reality is that, 50 years after the Council, Archbishop Lefebvre’s predictions were far from exaggerated. In the 1970s, due to the enthusiasm and naive optimism of the moment, nobody could have imagined that the Catholic bishops would rally in favor of homosexuality, the propagation of Islam, and the dissolution of marriage, which unfortunately is now the order of the day! The Vatican is faced with the ruins of the Church, which was at one time so beautiful and strong. But now there is no true renewal, no relief in sight. A realistic evaluation of new charismatic communities, which were extolled in the last decades as signs of vitality, should serve instead as warning signs. I don’t understand why there hasn’t been an honest and thorough investigation of the causes of the present situation in the Church. The Church is destroying herself, and silencing all discussion of the problem will not make the problem go away. Pretending that the Council is not to blame for the post-conciliar crisis is burying one’s head in the sand.

Kirchliche Umschau: Since you seem so little disposed to compromise, why do you still hold discussions with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Because the pope and Rome are realities inseparable from the Faith. The loss of faith in the Church’s structures—a loss of faith from which we have been spared, thanks be to God–is only one aspect of the crisis in the Church. For our part, we suffer also from a defect: the fact of our canonical irregularity. The status of the post-conciliar Church is imperfect, nor is our status the ideal.

Kirchliche Umschau: Are you referring to members of your community who refuse the discussions with Rome?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Yes, but they are few, very few. The prolonged period of separation has led certain members to confusion in theology. Deep down, these persons set faith in opposition to law, as if union with the pope, the primacy of the pope, were just a minor question of law.
Separating the legitimacy of the pope from the Faith, and reducing his legitimacy to a merely juridical question, is a sign of great danger. Finally, it comes from a Protestant view of the Church. But the Church is visible. The papacy belongs to the domain of Faith.
We ourselves, Catholics faithful to Tradition, suffer from the crisis in two ways. We participate in this crisis, albeit on a different and higher level, as I see it. There is no denying the obligation to take an active part in overcoming the crisis. And this combat begins with us, by desiring to overcome our abnormal canonical status.

Kirchliche Umschau: So we are back to square one. Why not just go along with Rome?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Because we cannot exchange an imperfect status for one that is even less perfect. Union with Rome is supposed to be an improvement, not a mutilation. Having to omit certain truths of the Faith, as well as being forbidden to criticize various doubtful and liberal positions: all this would be tantamount to a mutilation. We will not go along with that.

Kirchliche Umschau: The General Chapter was held in July. What position was taken by members of the Chapter?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: We laid down six guidelines to be met before any reunion with Rome. These were so many touchstones which restated the points to which we have always held fast. Our position was reinforced once more.

Kirchliche Umschau: On the Internet, there is a debate over this issue. Thundering condemnations are hurled at the Society’s leaders, who are accused of treason.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: You are quoting Bishop Williamson, who was excluded from the General Chapter by the great majority of superiors. That shows how strongly united we are.

Kirchliche Umschau: But you have a problem of communication. Judging by certain forums over the Internet, the situation couldn’t be worse.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: It is true that the Internet calls for, even requires, a new form of communication. We are obliged–just as the Vatican is–to go beyond the printed publications in use until now. But surely there are simple souls who are easily misled by sowers of discord, who themselves are widely misinformed by what they read on the Internet. Our priests appealed to the faithful not to go on these discussion sites which are often very rude, and not to let themselves be troubled and upset by the rumors and maneuverings found on the Internet. We will use the available means of communication from now on, including the Internet.

Kirchliche Umschau: Certain groups have targeted Bishop Fellay himself.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Bishop Fellay has certainly done more for the cause of Catholics faithful to Tradition than all those who doubt him, criticize him, and even accuse him of treason. For several years, he has conducted relations with Rome prudently and skillfully; never did he act impulsively, nor did he let himself be provoked or lose patience. Today we have the Tridentine Mass available to any priest; we have seen the lifting of the “excommunications” which were inveighed against us in 1988; we have had the discussions on the problems of the Council. And, as an Austrian bishop admits, we have brought the Council back on the table for debate. Thus, as a result, the Council is no longer sacrosanct and its glory turns to dust. And all this remains true notwithstanding the litany of praises heaped on the Second Vatican Council by the 50 year jubilee.
Our Superior General has accomplished a great deal, because he persevered in the negotiations and faithfully presented our theological positions. On that score, I observe that he has only one aim in view in this crisis of the Church, namely to preserve the Faith and to serve the Church with our whole heart.

Kirchliche Umschau: One question remains. Why is it that Bishop Fellay seems to have done nothing against the smear campaign mounted against him these last few months over the Internet?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Patience, kindness, and generosity appear to many as weaknesses, but this is not so. Faced with repeated attacks and harassment over the Internet, we do not abandon our values and our principles. We deal with plotting and intrigues according to the laws of the Church. This may seem like procrastination which can be annoying to some, but it can’t be done any other way if we don’t want to betray our own ideals. I would like to make this clear: let no one imagine that he can criticize authority with impunity.

Kirchliche Umschau: What does this mean specifically?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Bishop Williamson has been given fair warning. This is a sad moment in the history of our Society. If he continues his Internet campaign against the Society and its Superior General, then his expulsion from the Society cannot be avoided. Besides his false ideas, he has plotted under cover. The veritable tragedy is the fact that for years he has not accepted the authority of the Superior General, but has assigned to himself a God-given mission. Before the General Chapter, he rallied priests and faithful to rebellion. For a Catholic bishop, this is very serious.

Kirchliche Umschau: The Society’s purpose is not limited to negotiations with Rome. What other fields of apostolate do you envision?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: The West has lost the Faith. One reason for this loss is the fact that the Church is no longer presenting the Faith, no longer brings it to the world. Modern churchmen almost seem to be ashamed of their faith, which is why they campaign for the defense of the environment, the redistribution of wealth, and aid to development. We cannot just wait for them to come to their senses. We must be more active in society, have a greater influence in public, and rebuild Christendom with prudence, humility, and charity. As Our Lord appealed to those of His time: do not fear!

Kirchliche Umschau: Where do you see the important challenges to face?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: We witness presently a world-wide persecution of Christians in the East. Our task is to draw our attention to our persecuted brethren and to come to their aid. The General Chapter’s Declaration made this clear. In the Western countries, parents are having fewer and fewer children because family values are declining. The laws of the State pose greater threats to the family, the building block of society. One major task is aid to families. We must give our support to large families, lest they be marginalized by society at large. But our primary duty remains–as re-emphasized by the General Chapter’s Declaration in July–the defense and preservation of the Faith, and specifically the formation of truly Catholic priests. That is the best way we can be of service to the Church.
On the personal level, sanctification is called for. Prayer, religious instruction, and the distribution of the sacraments are one aspect; an exemplary life and fraternal charity are the other aspect. They go together. By accomplishing this task, we help to save our own souls and those of our neighbor. Yes, indeed, we have known such moments where we have a real foretaste of the harmony and happiness of heaven. Materialism, atheism, coupled with false religions: all these are standing more and more in the way of a healthy Catholic life. We are speaking here of a decisive mission for the Society: to help believers of good will to keep the Faith in times of difficulty, and to live that faith. This is our task at the present time, and a magnificent and sublime one at that, if we use our God-given talents to spread the fire of divine love to the ends of the earth. This is only possible through a deep and vibrant faith.

Kirchliche Umschau: Thank you for the interview, Father.

[In other news from the Society of Saint Pius X: Mr. Stephen Heiner, a layman who has long been close to Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, confirms his imminent removal from the Society of Saint Pius X.]

(end, text from Rorate Coeli)

Here is a link to an interview of Bishop Williamson done by Stephen Heiner:


Another Note: We also have several items for sale, including a Christmas Oratorio DVD and CD, and one of the Passion According to St. Matthew, both in Russian, but exceptionally moving despite the language barrier. These, and some of our other products -- like a gift subscription to the magazine! -- would make great Christmas gifts...

We also have the following CD, a talke given by Dr. Moynihan in 2007, right after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. Since then, more than 10,000 have been ordered. Dr. Moynihan gives a 2,000-year history of the Mass in 60 minutes which is clear and easy to understand. Dr. Moynihan's talk covers many questions, like:
  • How does the motu proprio overcome some of the confusion since Vatican II?
  • Is this the start of the "Benedictine Reform"?
  • What is Pope Benedict's vision for how can the Church restore the presence of the sacred in the liturgy?
To order, click on the CD below....

Note to readers: Please consider joining our small pilgrimage to Rome and Vatican City in November, and another at Christmas time. We will have time to meet with Vatican officials, and to reflect on the challenges facing the Church today. The pilgrimage will run from November 5-13, 2012. We have two places open. Click here for more information.

Our 2013 Pilgrimages all have openings, although some are filling up with past pilgrims. For the 2013 schedule click here. 

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Friday, October 12, 2012

The Moynihan Report: Letter #28: The Old Mass Returns to St. Peter's

October 12, 2012, Friday -- The Old Mass Returns to St. Peter's

The Solemn Pontifical High Mass is scheduled for November 3, a Saturday, at 3 p.m.


"The celebration and worship of the Eucharist enable us to draw near to God's love and to persevere in that love." -- Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis ("The Sacrament of Charity")

"Introibo ad altare Dei..."

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, 66, the Spanish-born Prefect of the Holy See's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (and a man considered very close to Pope Benedict XVI, so much so that his nickname in Rome is "the little Ratzinger," in part because he is of short stature, shorter than the Pope, but also in part because his theological and liturgical views are so closely aligned with those of the Pope) is scheduled to celebrate a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday, November 3, 2012, in three weeks, to conclude a 3-day Roman conference on the Catholic tradition.

Given the position and outlook of Canizares, one could argue that, symbolically speaking, the decision to allow this Mass in the Vatican basilica at this time at the outset of the "Year of Faith," and to have the celebrant be the man in charge of the Vatican's liturgical office, and the man whose nickname is "the little Ratzinger," is as close as Rome could come to having the traditional Mass celebrated by the Pope himself without having it celebrated by the Pope.

But what Benedict himself really thinks of this Mass, other than that he is allowing it to be celebrated, is not clear.

Here is a poster one can now see on display in Rome giving the details of the Mass. The picture on the poster is slightly misleading. Though it shows a picture of Pope Benedict XVI kneeling at the altar, Benedict will not be the celebrant of the Mass, but rather Canizares Llovera.

The title means "At One With Our Pope" or "United With Our Pope," as if to emphasize the loyalty of these traditional Catholics to the Roman pontiff, even as negotiations with the traditional Society of St. Pius X seem to have reached an impasse.

What is the Pope's true opinion about the old Mass?

The celebration of this Mass raises the question, once again, of what is Pope Benedict's true position on the old Mass.

And the first thing that one must reply on this important, valid question is... we do not have a clear answer.

In past years, during meeting with the Pope -- when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger -- I often asked him what his position was, and I felt he never gave a full, unambiguous answer.

I did attend many Masses which Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated at 7 a.m. each Thursday morning in the Teutonic College church inside the Vatican walls, and those Masses were always of the new rite, celebrated in a very simple, solemn way.

And I can say that, in our conversations, Cardinal Ratzinger repeatedly expressed a certain sorrow, even indignation, over the way the conciliar liturgical "reform" took place, saying that the liturgy was developed in a "non-organic way" by "professors sitting around a table" and that, as the new liturgy was introduced, without sufficient explanation, the ordinary faithful were often confused, and sometimes scandalized, and this is the position he took quite explicitly in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy.

But when, for example, I expressed my belief (this was in 1993, so, almost 20 years ago) that the annual cycle of readings should not have been replaced by a three-year cycle of readings (I argued that the annual cycle was in a certain way more "organic," more in harmony with the natural cycle of the seasons, and so more deeply penetrating, psychologically and spiritually, into the hearts and souls of ordinary faithful, who would here the same words on the same Sunday each year, but in the changed circumstances brought by the passage of time and life). He then was quite emphatic that the three-year cycle was an improvement, saying it allowed the faithful to hear more passages of the Word of God, and did not limit them to hearing the same passages each year. This argument made clear to me that Pope Benedict personally does in some ways favor at least certain aspects of the conciliar liturgical reform as an improvement over the traditional liturgy.

The German writer Martin Mosebach, has written a brilliant book on the old Mass, in praise of the old liturgy, arguing that its words and gestures favor an attitude of solemnity, of humble piety, and facilitate a contemplative "waiting" for "theophany" -- for the appearance, here and now, in space and time, of the divine, of the Lord, of God. Mosebach once stated that Pope John Paul II celebrated the Old Rite on several occasions privately. And Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X (the traditionalist group founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre) has said that "someone in the Roman Curia" told him that Pope Benedict, too, has celebrated the old Mass on several occasions privately. But this is hearsay; we do not know if it is true.

A great problem: the exploitation of the old Mass as a "standard"

One great problem is that the old Mass is very often seen as something at once more and less than it is. And that makes it a very emotional matter, little adapted to rational discussion. This is a profound problem.

By this I mean that the old Mass is seen as a type of sign for an entire culture, an entire worldview, and entire civilization, which we may call, for the sake of brevity, "Christendom."

The old Mass is seen by many -- both by some who defend it and by some who denounce it -- as the "standard" of a type of belief and culture which has been in crisis for some 200 years and more, exemplied in that (in many ways corrupt) "ancien regime" which was overthrown with such brutality by the French Revolution in the 1790s.

But the old Mass was never this. It never was the standard of a limited human culture. Never.

And that it was and is so often seen to be so -- by both sides -- in the first half of the 20th century (in the time of the Liturgical Movement), and in the second half of the 20th century (in the post-Conciliar, post-1968 fever of breaking with a so-called hidebound past), and in the first years of the 21st century (in a time of generalized disorientation and even, seemingly, spiritual exhaustion) -- is a fundamental, indeed, a fatal error, for the worship of the Church, and for the life of the Church.

A fundamental error because this diminishment of the Mass, which is an act of worship, the supreme act of ecclesial life, this simplistic reduction of an act of worship to an act which is only the external form of a type of human social system, and so of a type, often of human social oppression, and then further, the acceptance of the argument for this diminishment, is the deep reason why the life of grace has been so often, so widely, so commonly, impeded, even halted, seemingly ceasing to flow, in the Church of our time.

And I mean by this the decision of hundreds, of thousands, of millions, of tens of millions, to cease attending Mass, to cease making a confession, to cease marrying in the Church, to cease celebrating a funeral Mass for deceased parents, to cease receiving the Eucharist.

The channels of grace, the simple ways of connecting this world to the next, the human to the divine, the fallen to the redeemed, have been covered up, hidden, taken away...

The old Mass was, and is, the organic expression of the faith of Christians in the Risen Lord, from the first generation to the present time. It was never intended to be the Mass of any political or cultural regime. And that it came to be seen as the expression of a certain political or social culture is one of the profound reasons that the Council Fathers felt they had to approve a "reform" of the liturgy.

But the "reform" of the old Mass that was produced was not the reform that, in the letter of the Council documents -- which Pope Benedict in recent days has urged us to return to -- was the reform the Council Fathers called for.

And so we have passed through almost two generations of liturgical confusion, and the consequent crisis of belief which ineviatble follows liturgical confusion, for it is true that lex credendi lex orandi -- the law of prayer is the law of belief," that is, as we pray, so we believe. 

And in saying all this, I am not saying there were no aspects of the "way of praying" in the old liturgy which may have been dangerous, in some way, to true Christian maturity. It may be true that, in some ways, as some refromers have argued, the old liturgy tended to foster a type of piety which was simplistic, a "pie in the sky" faith detached from the "here and now" of Christ's call to act on urgent matters of charity and social justice. In this view, some aspects of the celebration of the old Mass, the incense, the robes, the mystery, casued people so much to focus on "heaven" that they forgot "earth." I acknowledge that this may have been, and may be, true, and a concern for liturgical reformers who are truly committed to building the Kingdom, here and in time to come.

But in the process of attempting to change the law of prayer in order to come to a more profound, more active, most justice-oriented law of belief, we took some detours, stripped our churches of statues, broke stained-glass windows, turned against our heritage, and lost our way. 

Benedict XVI (2005-present, Episcopal form of ...
Benedict XVI (2005-present, Episcopal form of Papal arms) An alternate version with Papal Tiara: here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Benedict and the old Mass

In 2006, a year before Benedict XVI promulgated Summorum Pontificum (the document in which Benedict taught that the old Mass was not wrong or heretical, but worthy, holy, even great, and could be celebrated by any priest in the Church), Alice von Hildebrand had a private audience with the Holy Father. (I met with Dr. Hildebrand in Rome during those days when she had her meeting.) There, face to face, she urged Benedict to "free" the Traditional Mass, and pressed him as to when he would do it. He answered that he would do it in the "not-too-distant future" (it took him another year and two months to overcome the resistance of many high-ranking Churchmen). The exchange leaked out.

Now what many Catholics who hold traditional views regarding the Church's prayer and worship wonder is this: will Pope Benedict himself, in a completely un-emotional, un-dramatic way, someday soon, announce, "I myself will celebrate the old Mass in St. Peter's Basilica."

I think he may do this during this Year of Faith, precisely because the law of prayer is the law of faith.

And also, because it is the one, single gesture he could make which would have the greatest impact on our Orthodox brothers, who fear the impact of secularizing elements had a negative impact on our reformed liturgy, and would be inclined to enter more fully into ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church were the old liturgy to be more "rehabilitated" than it has yet been.

Several years ago, writing in the apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis ("Mystery of Charity"), Pope Benedict encouraged wider knowledge and use of the Mass prayers in Latin and of Gregorian chant, with repeating a 2005 bishops' synod's affirmation of the "beneficial influence" of the liturgical changes which followed the Second Vatican Council on the life of the Church.
However, he also endorsed the synod's suggestion that at Masses with a large, international congregation, the liturgy be celebrated in Latin "with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful." (Of course, he was referring here to celebrating the new Mass in Latin, not the old Mass.)
What would it mean if Benedict chose to celebrate the old liturgy in St. Peter's?

If Benedict were to do this, he would not be saying he supports the ancien regime. He would not be saying he is a reactionary.

To the contrary, he would be saying that the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, the old Latin Mass, is not a standard, a cover, for reaction, but something different and far greater: a set of very simple, very ancient, very Jewish-rooted prayers, petitions, actions, and gestures which recall and represent and re-enact the suffering of the carpenter of Nazareth on Calvary in Jerusalem, which are valid and effective and extraordinarily beautiful prayers, petitions, actions and gestures, and which are fitting for Catholics now, and in future, as they always were in times past.

In three months, Benedict XVI will be the fourth-oldest Pope ever, behind Leo XIII, Clement XII, and Clement X.


Dr. Robert Moynihan recorded the following CD in 2007. Since then, over 10,000 have been ordered. Dr. Moynihan gives a 2000-year history of the Mass in 60 minutes, which is clear and easy to understand. Dr. Moynihan's explanation covers many questions, like:
  • How does the motu proprio overcome some of the confusion since Vatican II?
  • Is this the start of the Benedictine Reform?
  • The mind of Pope Benedict: How can the Church restore the presence of God in the Liturgy?
To order, click on the CD below....

Note to readers: Please consider joining our small pilgrimage to Rome and Vatican City in November, and another at Christmas time. We will have time to meet with Vatican officials, and to reflect on the challenges facing the Church today. The pilgrimage will run from November 5-13, 2012. We have three places open. Click here for more information.

Our 2013 Pilgrimages all have openings, although some are filling up with past pilgrims.  For the 2013 schedule click here. 

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