Thursday, April 28, 2016

Nobis Post Hoc Exsilium

"And after this, our exile ..."

Such is a phrase from the Marian antiphon Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen). Our life on earth is but a moment compared to the reality of eternity. But even in that short time, one passes through transitions, such that one begins to wander in the desert, in search of whatever is next.

Most readers know (if any are leftover after following the pack from Patheos jump ship for Aleteia as if we couldn't see that coming) that I left my position as a Master of Ceremonies at a parish in northern Virginia last January, after more than eight years, and that I began training altar servers for the Traditional Mass at a parish in northeast Washington DC. The latter a couple of weeks ago, when the pastor decided that I had given him whatever guidance he needed to continue training the servers himself.

That deal was little more than two months. We'll see how it works out in about six months. Yes, I'm that good.

He might have done me a favor. I realized I needed a break from the commitment. The esteemed Catholic writer, lecturer, and unapologetic monarchist Charles Coloumbe once did a regular feature for the Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission entitled “Roamin' Catholic,” where he went from one parish to another to describe the experience of Sunday Mass. I'm not sure I can do justice to his astute coverage, but starting this past Sunday, and for the next several weeks, I'm never going to the same place twice in a row. Maybe I'll have something to say, and maybe I won't. Not all experiences will be Traditional Latin Masses, and not all will be Roman. They will run the gamut.

I may end up running and screaming from at least one of them. Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I Walk Alone

Every now and then, The Good Men Project falls into the trap that is progressivism. Most of the time they manage to avoid it.

It’s in the quietness of solitude that a man can really see and hear himself; see where he is at in his life at that time and listen to what’s going on with himself emotionally. It’s here that you are able to extend your presence to the different parts of yourself; where you can give your deepest gift to yourself.

It is one of my regrets, that I was never able to afford a larger townhouse. Arlington Village has about twenty three-bedroom units out of several hundred, amounting to about 1200 square feet, which is about as much house as I believe I could handle (not counting the finished basement, of which there are none in this development). In addition to the master bedroom (with separate half-bath), there would be a guest room. The third and (probably) smallest upstairs room would be the study -- the "man cave," if you will -- so that one could contemplate the universe in solitude. After all, even Our Blessed Lord Himself fled into the desert, if only to be alone.

Our featured video is a 2007 student project by Michelle McPhearson, Lidia Benavides, Jewel Gonzalez, Gerald Craig, and Chris Hite, of Allan Hancock College.

Three lonely souls think they are the only ones out there that feel the way they do, and pass without knowing each other. They all have hopes and dreams that they do not fulfill.

Maybe if I win the lottery, or fall into an inheritance, I can move on up to a slightly larger footprint. Until then, somewhere in the world is a quiet place.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Where Have You Gone, Quasimodo?

Today is known on the Christian calendar by at least six names.

In the traditional Missale Romanum, it is referred to as “Dominica in albis octava Paschae” -- Sunday in White Within the Paschal Octave, when the robes of the neophytes are removed eight days after their initiation into the Sacraments during the Paschal Vigil. In the traditional Roman calendar, it is officially known as “The Octave Day of Easter” or more colloquially as “Low Sunday.” It has also been popularly known as “Quasimodo Sunday” (my personal favorite, hence the title), after the first words of the Entrance Antiphon, or Introit: “Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia ...” (“Like newborn infants, alleluia ...”) In the Eastern churches, it is known as “Thomas Sunday” as the same gospel is read, that of our Lord showing himself to the doubting apostle Thomas.

Since 2000, by decree of the late Pope Saint John Paul II, it is also known in the universal Roman calendar as Divine Mercy Sunday, "the culmination of the novena to the Divine Mercy of Jesus, a devotion given to St Faustina (Mary Faustina Kowalska) and is based upon an entry in her diary stating that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of their sins." (from Wikipedia)

(I already thought Confession did that anyway. This is what I get for using Wikipedia for the short version.)

This brings up an issue which has concerned traditional Catholics in recent years, one that is presented in a 2010 issue of New Oxford Review by Robert Allard: "Is Divine Mercy Sunday Liturgically Correct?"

It is interesting to note that in the Tridentine Latin Mass, the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the epistle reading, 1 John 5:4-10, includes the mention of the blood and water as portrayed in the Divine Mercy image, not just once but three times each. This is important to note because the Feast of Mercy was established for the entire Church universal, not just for the ordinary form of the Mass.

There's also that part about Our Lord breathing on the apostles, giving them the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. There's a bit of mercy for the rest of us right there.

Such remembrances need to be harmonized with the liturgical season if they are to serve the faithful. This requires sufficient deference to the history of salvation as played out during the year, beginning with the incarnation, and on into the life, passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, followed by his ascension into Glory, and the establishment of His Church on Earth through the work of the Holy Spirit. That said, there is an aspect of this devotion that may appear problematic, one that has less to do with the Feast itself, than with the novena which precedes it, one that begins on Holy Thursday, and extends throughout the Week of Easter.

Q. My pastor will allow us to pray the Divine Mercy Novena, but not on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. He says it interferes with the Holy Triduum, which are the holiest days of the year.

A. The Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) ushers in Easter Sunday and constitutes the most holy period of the Church year. The Divine Mercy Novena does not supersede the Triduum, but extends the Solemn General Intercessions of the Good Friday observance of Our Lord's Passion and Death throughout the whole octave of Easter, building up to the day of thanksgiving for Our Lord's Divine Mercy.

This response contradicts itself. It doesn't "supersede" the Triduum, but goes on to ignore its culmination. That makes no sense. Superseding is exactly what it does.

For nearly two millennia, the Easter season, including the Octave, has been devoted to the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The traditional requirement to abstain from meat does not apply on the Friday of this octave, such is the extension of the occasion. The Fathers of the Church have told us, we have commemorated the fast, therefore let us celebrate the feast. Yet the novena is devoted to chanting thus: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Granted, at every Mass offered on any given day, we remember the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ -- the whole nine yards. But that comparison ends in the context of the liturgical seasons, the purpose of which are to shed a spotlight on a particular aspect of salvation history at the liturgical year progresses. There is sufficient reason to doubt that the emphasis made by this novena, given its timing, sheds that spotlight appropriately, even if we reduce it to a mere devotion (as opposed to the official prayer of the Church through her liturgical life).

If we read the history of the development of this Feast that is the Sunday within the Octave of Easter, if we understand what the readings and the orations are trying to tell us, we might consider the possibility that Our Lord was telling Sister Faustina something of Himself, which He has been trying to say to His Bride, our Mother the Church, all along. At the same time, She has long admonished us to be prudent with respect to the messages of private revelations. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 65-67).

While accepting the judgment of the Apostolic See in this matter of the Sunday commemoration itself, we may long for a further study of this devotion in relation to the whole of the liturgical year. Even if the novena is not "liturgy" in the official sense, its use in parishes during the octave of the Resurrection misses the big picture.

“We have commemorated the fast, therefore let us celebrate the feast.”

... for eight days, if not forty, and if you don't mind.

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To learn more about the devotion to the Divine Mercy, visit the website of the Apostles of Divine Mercy at, or that of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception at For a guide to praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, go to the appropriate page at

Friday, April 01, 2016

Dancing Around the Issues

(The following was intended for publication on the 15th of March, but was intentionally delayed so as not to interfere with Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum.)

It is not surprising to suggest to faithful Catholics that the time has passed for being silent. What if the time has also passed for being polite? Social media has become the public arena of choice, an arena where the playing field is level, and all bets are off. If you commit a public sacrilege with no apologies, be prepared to get called out on it, and have no one to blame but yourself. If you're a bishop who can't be bothered with the legitimate concerns of faithful Catholics, be prepared to look inadequate to the task, and (you guessed it) have no one to blame but yourself. Say all you want about playing nice, but it hasn't worked, and the Powers That Be are left with the fruits of their indifference. If this level of outrage is to be contained, it must begin at the source. That would be the problem itself, not the reaction.”

Let the games begin.