Please forgive me...

For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. (Matthew 6:14).

For many Catholics, Lent has is already underway. Eastern Catholics refer to today as "Clean Monday". Liturgically, Clean Monday and thus Lent itself, begins on the preceding night with Forgiveness Vespers, which culminates with the Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness, at which all present ask one another for forgiveness. The emphasis on forgiveness helps the faithful to go deeper than change of diet and application of ecclesiastical regulation. (The idea is not to avoid these practices, but to avoid hypocrisy.)

Forgiveness, being central to our Faith prepares us to go before our Lord.

With the beginning of Lent upon us, I ask God and you for the forgiveness of all my offenses conscious and unconscious, voluntary and involuntary. I am sorry for all that I did, and all that I did not do, in failing to fulfill my responsibility to holiness and Christ-like behavior in my conversations, friendships, and duties toward God and you.

Please forgive me, I am a sinner.


Angels and Snakes: How they fit in with Divine Providence

It seems that I have earned myself a new label. Not only am I your run of the mill anti-semitic-prudish-rad-trad-chauvinistic-sinning-meat-eating(except on Fridays)-Catholic ... I am also a Providentialist! (I have no idea where to put that in my ever growing hyphenated list of qualifications.)

Why is this label fitting for me? No, I do not I sit around all day expecting God to fill the fridge, and buy my kids their clothing. It is not because I expect my bank account to have enough money in it to pay the bills while I waste away on the social networks. I do not fail to set an alarm expecting God to send His angels to wake me up when He wants me to get up. I do not let snakes bite me and expect... well... that might be some other thing people do.

I am a "Providentialsist" because my wife and I are not in any serious (by our own estimation, or as defined by the Church) situation where we need to postpone the potential for having children, and we thank God for this blessing. This situation is not our doing, but God's.

As far as name-calling is concerned, this one is odd. (I suppose many of them are.) At the root, It suggests one who depends on Divine Providence. (who doesn't?) However. It is used in a way that hints that we are tempting God with our actions. Acting without "prudence" and due care for the future well being of my family.

My wife and I love each other dearly. We love our children. We are not perfect, and don't have it all figured out, but there is nothing wrong or sinful with trusting God and working with Him towards the welfare of our souls, and those of the Children he has given us. The Catholic Church bolsters us in these choices, and I am thankful for that too.


Future Sellout Elected to Lead SSPX "Strict Observance"

Fr. Joe Pfeiffer, leader of the SSPX-SO
Pfeiffer (above) denies he's unpopular
with the priests of the SSPX-SO.
Pfeifferville, KY (TradNewsNetwork) -- According to an SSPX-SO press release, Father Joseph Pfeiffer has been elected as the first leader of the so-called "Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance" (SSPX-SO) by his fellow priests, and has announced a Pacific Tour to bring former SSPX priests and laypeople into the organization.  This recruiting tour, however, is already being met with suspicion by fellow SSPX-SO priests.  "We don't trust him -- we are self-sufficient the way we are, we don't need to grow the organization" said one priest who asked we not use his name. "How can we be sure these new recruits aren't spies trying to infiltrate us? This sounds like a complete sell-out of the principles on which we were founded!"   Another priest questioned Pfeiffer's leadership agenda of "growing the SSPX-SO organization" as a failing of the group's core mission to criticize Bernard Fellay and the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). Paraphrasing Saint Bernard of Clairvoux, the priest rhetorically asked "What good is the leader of the SSPX-SO if he's not barking at the SSPX?"

Pfeiffer dismisses reports of dissension and is asking for complete transparency at each of his organization's venues. "Communications are to be open, unambiguously antagonistic of [Bishop] Fellay, and our Mass locations are to be made publicly known."  Pfeiffer asserts that Fellay has used "Communist tactics" in attempting to scare the priests and supporters of the SSPX with threats of reprisals should they consider supporting the SSPX-SO.  This message will be at the heart of his Asian tour, which will begin at the end of April 2013 and include appearances in Australia, India, and Singapore. Pfeiffer indicated that other venues will be added as traditional Catholics in other countries request a visit (Catholics interested in a visit from Fr. Pfeiffer are advised to visit the SSPX-SO's MySpace page and leave a comment).

"I'm excited about this tour and hope to greatly expand our organization" Pfeiffer said. He will need to act fast. According to unnamed sources there are already plans afoot to launch a new organization dubbed the "SSPX-SO-SO" whose goal would be the "conservative, non-evangelical preservation of sacred tradition" though all SSPX-SO priests contacted for comment claimed not to know anything about such plans.


Washing the feet, of the gentler sex, on Thursday

Dietrich von Hildebrand asks the question: "Does Catholic orthodoxy and filial submission to the Vicar of Christ require one to hail every practical decision of the Holy Father?" There are Catholics who answer this question with a strong resolved: "Yes, and those who do not hail or praise every practical decision of the Holy Father are acting against orthodoxy." I believe this unfortunate conclusion is founded on a common misunderstanding of papal infallibility and on some well-intentioned but misguided respect of the one who holds this Holy Office.

It is ridiculous to 'hail' or 'praise' some action of the Holy Father only because it is an action of the Holy Father. It is also ridiculous to condemn some action of the Holy Father because it is an action of the Holy Father. It just does not make any sense. It is unreasonable. While I know that examples do exist, I do not believe the later scenario happens nearly as frequent as the former. (That is only my observation, and not something I would argue very strongly on if challenged.)

If the pope were to modify or adapt some legal requirement for this or that, you should not say, that modification is good because the pope did it. Knowing this modification has come from the Holy Father, you might first choose to seek a good reasonable explanation. You might resolve to state that you do not have enough information to understand the decision made. In the end if there is a judgment to be made, you would state that it is good or unfortunate because of something having to do specifically with the change itself. You would not base the judgment simply on the fact that the pope made the modification. (I hope it is clear what I took three paragraphs to say.)

So to the topic. I should confess that while I knew of the foot washing -- of the gentler sex -- by the Holy Father... I have ignored the topic completely -- until today. For whatever reason I choose to read G+ as my first activity after consecrating my day. Much of this post comes from my participation in a discussion on the Holy Thursday washing of feet.

Some facts (by which I mean that I do not think they are debatable):
1) There currently (at least before Thursday) exists a law that directs the washing of feet to take place with men only.
2) This law is an example of such a law that the Holy Father has authority to change.
3) The Holy Father washed women's feet without formally changing the law.

Now, I honestly do not know if this law in this specific circumstance can be changed simply by the action of the Holy Father. I suspect that good canon lawyers might even have some disagreement on the subject. I had an opinion... but I am not a canon lawyer, and I am fairly sure that my opinion was wrong.

What I will say is that I find it unwise that the Holy Father, who as supreme legislator could have formally changed this law -- didn't -- before performing an action (licitly or illicitly) that was contrary to the law as written. I say it is unwise because even if the Holy Father's action is within the law, the fact remains that the contrary is still "on the books" and confusion has resulted. Those who disobediently went against the law, acting as their own pontiffs for years, point to the Holy Father's action to support their disobedience. Many who have defended the law are now set in confusion. The defense of "caritas ante lex" with references to our Lord and the Pharisees only serves to cloud the subject further. All the while... the importance of Holy Thursday seems left the dust.

Please note that I did not say it was "unwise because Pope Francis did it." (I also have not offered judgment on the washing of 'non-viri' feet!) I hope that if one were to explain why they believe it was a good idea to forgo a formal change before the action, that they also provide more than "it is good because Pope Francis did it." For those of you who do not think I can love our Holy Father and find this practical action unwise -- please read Dietrich von Hildebrand's response to the question above: Belief and Obedience: The Critical Difference

If the pope intended to change the law, it seems that it would have been better for him to change law prior to performing the action. He could have done this but from what I know, he did not. To date Fr. Lombardi has given comment, but I think more (read better) explanation could be given. Hopefully more explanation comes long before next Holy Thursday. 

Edit: Fr. Byers provides some thoughts and addresses some commentary that I should have read before writing this post.


Unfinishable Poetic Attempt at Honor: Feast of St. Joseph

This past weekend I started a poem intended to be published today for the Feast of St. Joseph. My aim was to flash moments of Joseph's life and virtue, their relation to our Holy Queen, and Her Son our Lord. I wanted to start with the choosing of Joseph, and move through to the flight into Egypt. Ridiculously, I procrastinated despite the fact I was excited to work on it. The rushed effort started as well as it could have until I got to the Circumcision of our Lord. I could not push past it. One mangled stanza was not enough. (Three where not enough.) My thoughts on previous moments were juvenilely dull, and the evidence matched.

As Christ wished to fulfill the law and to show His descent according to the flesh from Abraham. He, though not bound by the law, was circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21), and received the sublime name expressive of His office, Jesus, i.e. Saviour.

A significant amount of art and imagery depicts the sacred event being performed by a priest in the temple, or in synagogue. However there are some paintings, and some Catholic authors who in fact have the event being performed by St. Joseph. It is my opinion, along with some of the Doctors of our Faith, that the later is the accurate. As my dribblings on St. Joseph are inadequate, I instead quote from Edward Healy Thompson's book titled: "The Life and Glories of St. Joseph". Emphasis mine:

But who was the minister of the rite? The Evangelist is silent on this point. Imagination has accordingly allowed itself full scope, and painters have been pleased to introduce into their representations a priest in his sacerdotal vestments; but we have no authority for supposing that any priest came to the stable of Bethlehem to circumcise Jesus. The opinion of those doctors who believe that the minister of the circumcision of Jesus was Joseph appears the most probable. St. Ephrem the Syrian, a most ancient writer and contemporary of St. Basil, one who was well acquainted with the traditions of his native land, and highly esteemed both for his science and his piety, says expressly that it was Joseph who circumcised Jesus. Writing in confutation of those heretics who ascribed to our Lord a phantastic body, he says: "If Jesus Christ had not true flesh, whom did Joseph circumcise?" Thus he refers to it as to an unquestioned fact. St. Bernard, Suarez, and many others also believe that Joseph circumcised Jesus, because he who circumcised an infant was the same also who imposed the name; and it was Joseph who gave Jesus His name. This opinion, then, has been generally adopted. The precept of circumcision was addressed to the heads of families; it was the office of the father, unless a priest took his place.

There is nothing written there that is overly remarkable. It contains evidence and facts or support for something much deeper. (Please pray to the Blessed Virgin before reading this next quote.)

Joseph, then, as Isolano says, circumcised Jesus as his son. On him we may believe devolved this solemn and painful duty. Jesus was circumcised by Joseph on Mary's knees, no other eyes beholding the first drops of the Precious Blood flow except those of the holy angels, and no other ears save theirs hearing the wail of the Divine Infant. In this act Joseph accomplished three sacrifices in one: the sacrifice of Jesus, who began the great work of our redemption by suffering in His innocent members; the sacrifice of Mary, who with indescribable sorrow, but with perfect resignation, offered her Son to the Eternal Father, and held, as it were, the victim bound; and the sacrifice of himself, who had to nerve his hand to perform an act so painful and repugnant to his tender heart. It was an act of heroic obedience and fortitude on his part, greater, St. Bernard says, than was that of Abraham in sacrificing his son Isaac; for Joseph loved Jesus incomparably more than Abraham did his son Isaac, and well knew the difference between the son of any mortal man and the Son of the Eternal God. Thus the knife which cut the flesh of Jesus wounded the heart and pierced the soul of Joseph. Here there was no angel to stay his hand. The act must be accomplished, and in performing it Joseph was, indeed, more than a martyr.

Then, too, was that name pronounced over the Divine Infant at which "every knee," as the Apostle tells us, should bow of those who are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; and it was by the lips of Joseph that it was pronounced. St. Luke only says that His name was called Jesus, without specifying by whom; but from St. Matthew it would appear that it was Joseph; for the angel had said to him: "Thou shalt call His name Jesus". It was, indeed, no little glory to Joseph to receive an embassage from Heaven commissioning him to confer this name. Jesus is the Son of the Eternal Father; to the Eternal Father, therefore, it belonged to impose the name; and yet He commissioned St. Joseph to exercise that right in His place. Joseph, says Isidoro Isolano, is the Enos of the New Testament, who first began to invoke the Name of the Lord. That profound theologian, Salmeron, who was present at the Council of Trent, did not scruple to say that in this sole act of giving to Jesus His name was declared the whole paternal office of Joseph, as by the sole act of feeding the sheep of Christ was signified the full power and jurisdiction of Peter over the Church. Whence Isidoro Isolano draws the conclusion that Joseph in God's sight is superior to all the other saints, because no other was exalted to so high a dignity.

St. Joseph, circumcisor of God, Pray for us.
St. Joseph, name conferrer of God, Pray for us.


Which St. Francis is it?

From which saints did our Holy Father name himself? St. Francis of Assisi? St. Francis Xavier? There are many other Saints by that name. This is a shortened list.
  1. St. Francis Ch’oe Kyong-Hwan
  2. St. Francis Trung Van Tran
  3. St. Francis Xavier Bianchi
  4. St. Francis of Assisi
  5. St. Francis Borgia
  6. St. Francis Caracciolo
  7. St. Francis Chieu Van Do
  8. St. Francis de Morales
  9. St. Francis de Sales
  10. St. Francis Fasani
  11. St. Francis Ferdinand de Capillas
  12. St. Francis Galvez
  13. St. Francis Gil de Frederich
  14. St. Francis Isidore Gagelin
  15. St. Francis Jaccard
  16. St. Francis Jerome
  17. St. Francis Nagasaki
  18. St. Francis of Paola a good friend!
  19. St. Francis of Pesaro
  20. St. Francis of St. Bonaventure
  21. St. Francis of St. Mary
  22. St. Francis of St. Michael
  23. St. Francis Pacheco
  24. St. Francis Page
  25. St. Francis Rod
  26. St. Francis Solano
  27. St. Francis Tchang-Iun
  28. St. Francis Trung
  29. St. Francis Xavier
  30. St. Francis Xavier Can
  31. St. Francis Xavier Mau
All of the above?

Pope Francis: First Sermon

The text that follows is quote from the Holy Father Pope Francis' first sermon. Can you say "New Evangelization"? The rest of his sermon with my emphasis and links are after the break.

...we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ - I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy"Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil." When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.

My 'trad' Thoughts on Pope Francis

I have started, and then trashed this post multiple times now. Every time I have started this post, I do so in response to emails, chats, G+ comments and conversations where it has been pointed out that some 'trads' online are posting opinions and speculation about Pope Francis. I get almost all the way through writing the post, and then sense that the storm has passed... so I delete the draft. This afternoon I received too many comments in too close a time period to believe that this is stopping.

Yes, I saw some of the bitter hateful comments posted by various Catholics yesterday and today. I saw the same people making the same comments under multiple venues. Shame on them, but is this a surprise? I bet you can't guess what the perpetual sedevacantists are saying? (I honestly have a hard time understanding, why they even care?) Thank goodness we are not like them -- right?

There are a number of blogs that, with Charity, have called out the bitter minded fellow Catholics on their actions. However, there are also those who have taken the opportunity to act just as bitter in their rants on traditionally minded Catholics.

I emphasize that there is no universal 'trad' creed other than the Creeds of our Catholic Faith. There are some obvious similarities between traditional minded Catholics, but stop presuming that you have them all figured out because you attend a parish that was in the same city of an 'Indult' Mass back in the 1980's; or because you once got in an argument with someone over chapel veils. (Will chapel-veil-Nazis ever learn?)

Show some reserve before you pick off the low hanging fruit that some bitter Catholics leave dangling. Many of these bitter individuals can be likened to the way a child acts when they have been abused or neglected by a parent, such as their father. Some of these people have been neglected and abused by their spiritual fathers. (No, I am not talking specifically of sexual abuse.)

Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that 'bad' actions are 'good', or that misguided 'intentions' somehow magically make their actions 'sweet'. I agree that people need to accept crosses that have been given to them instead of letting it crush them in sadness and despair.

Do you really care what I think about Pope Francis? To answer the question-- in spite of my latent stoicism, I am overwhelmed with joy that we have a pope. I was welled up with it during the papal blessing. What do I think about our Holy Father who used to be a cardinal? Before yesterday I knew hardly a thing about him. What about the Jesuit background? It gives me pause, but I actually know of some good Jesuits. What do I think about him now that he is Pope Francis? I hardly know him, he has only been our pope since yesterday. I am excited to see what Pope Francis does to live up to the name he chose. I am excited to pray and fast for him -- and as it is still the Holy Season of Lent, I plan on doing quite a bit of that.