Rorate Caeli

Bertone: a Secretary "of Church", not "of State"

Second part of our Interview Week.

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone takes his position as Secretary of State on September 15. Andrea Tornielli (one of our favorite Vaticanists) went to visit Bertone in Genoa in his last days in the Ligurian capital, and the result was a great interview, made public yesterday and published in today's edition of Il Giornale.

Some interesting excertps:

[The Choice]

What is the reason for the choice of [your name by] Benedict XVI?

The question should be asked of the Pope. Nonetheless, I hope to be able to contribute to strengthen the spiritual mission of the Church, which transcends politics and diplomacy, even if the Secretary of State should use all the means to aid the mission of the Church in every sphere. Monsignor Bettazzi, Bishop emeritus of Ivrea, my native diocese, recommended that I should be a secretary "of Church" more than "of State". I agree with him.

[The Collegial Pope]

You were the second of Cardinal Ratzinger for seven years. What is his way of working?

I have had the gift of being able to work together closely with two extraordinary men of the Church, John Paul II and the then Cardinal Ratzinger. The latter's way of working is very collegial, with a great capacity of posing questions, of listening, of valuing the talents of all, even of the youngest and of the last arrival...

[The Supreme]

The Pope was Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, you were his number two: now the order recomposes itself. Will the Vatican become a great Holy Office?

I wish the correct name were used: the Holy Office is today a place, a palace, not the dicastery nor the way the dicastery works. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has certainly the function of protection of orthodoxy and, in this, to use the words of then Cardinal Ratzinger, develops a "democratic work", because it protects the faith of the simple [faithful], of those who do not write books, editorials, or go to talk shows. It is necessary to also remember, though, its fundamental role in the promotion of the faith in collaboration with the mission of the Church. Having been at that dicastery helps [me] to announce the Gospel in its entirety, without renouncing the approach which places man, the end of creation and redemption, in any country, culture, and condition, at the center.



You closely followed the publication of the secret of Fatima: are there [further] catastrophic revelations regarding the future or has everything been revealed and accomplished?

I met sister Lucia many times and had in my hands the declaration written by her on the matter. There are no further revelations of Fatima and the so-called Third Secret has been completely revealed. As for the catastrophisms, some said that sister Lucia did not close her eyes at night since she was so terrified of the imminent disasters. She answered me, "But if I did not sleep at night, how would I be able to pray all day long?" Sister Lucia recommended that credit should not be given to these announcements of misfortunes.

Williamson: "...modern minds are very sick ...
and Benedict XVI has a modern mind..."

First part of our Interview Week.

From the October edition of The Angelus, an excerpt of Stephen Heiner's astonishing interview with Richard Williamson, one of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and co-consecrated by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer in 1988 for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX), exactly one year after the visit of the Superior General of the FSSPX (Bishop Bernard Fellay) to the Holy Father at Castelgandolfo.

... Your Excellency, going back to the interview I did with Bishop [Bernard] Tissier [de Mallerais, one of the other three bishops consecrated in 1988] for the Remnant in April, Fr. Anthony Cekada [a Sedevacantist cleric somewhat well-known in America] wrote an article in response that said that for Bishop Tissier, there are no consequences for professing heresy. Is that a fair assessment?

Bishop Tissier would certainly say that what he calls the heresy of Benedict XVI has the very gravest consequences, namely the destruction of the Catholic Church!

Then what do you think Fr. Cekada had in mind?

From today´s destruction of the Church, Fr. Cekada concludes that Benedict XVI cannot possibly be a true Pope. Fr. Cekada surely wishes that Bishop Tissier would draw the same conclusion.

Is Fr. Cekada right or is Bishop Tissier right?

Myself, I believe that Benedict XVI is the true Pope, so I think Bishop Tissier is right.

But what about Benedict XVI´s heresy?

To be such a heretic as to so put oneself out of the Catholic Church that one cannot possibly any longer be its head, i.e. Pope, one must know that one is denying what one knows to be a defined dogma of the Catholic Faith, because such a denial amounts to deliberate apostasy. To become, or to continue being, a Catholic, is a choice. If I know what a Catholic must believe in order to be Catholic, and if I refuse to believe it, then I am choosing to be a heretic instead of a Catholic, and I put myself outside the Church.

So Fr. Cekada would believe that this is the case of Benedict XVI, and you believe it is not?



Because modern minds are very sick, as minds, and Benedict XVI has a modern mind, like millions and millions of modern people, including churchmen, around him.

Firstly, in what does the sickness consist, and secondly, how can Benedict XVI not be aware of it?

The sickness consists in believing that there is no fixed, objective truth which absolutely excludes error. For example, I may believe that 2 and 2 are 4, but I will believe that they can also be 5 or 6 or 600,000 or whatever. The “truth” is what my mind makes it. But the mind is made for objective truth like lungs are made for oxygen, so just as lungs without external oxygen are sick to death, so a mind with no external truth is sick to death.

And how do we see this in someone like Benedict XVI?

Benedict XVI believes that Catholic “truth” can evolve. For instance, very serious statements of Catholic truth that cannot change, like the Syllabus or Pascendi, he calls merely “substantial anchorages” in Church doctrine, meaning that the Church could anchor there, and usefully anchored there for a while, but in modern times the Church needs new “substantial anchorages” in doctrine. He cannot see that this anti-modern Catholic doctrine of his predecessors is of such a nature that it cannot change, and not even as Pope can he change it. His poor mind, however gifted, is sick with that modern – especially German – philosophy which unhooks the mind from its object, like cutting off lungs from oxygen.

But – and that was my follow-up question – how can Benedict XVI not be aware of his condition? He is an educated man, a high churchman, learned in philosophy and theology!

Yes, but like so many high churchmen, even before Vatican II, he is learned in the wrong philosophy! And since in our sick age the wrong philosophy (2 and 2 are 4 but can be, or become, 5) has become “normal”, then he cannot imagine he may be wrong. When John Paul II promoted “conservative” conciliarism, 2000 bishops praised him for being “conservative” and the other 2000 blasted him for being so. Only two bishops dared to protest to his face that he was not truly conservative at all, because he was conciliar. Humanly speaking, repeat, humanly speaking, how could he believe that the two were normal and the four thousand were abnormal? How could he not think he was being “normal”?

Well, how could he?

In the good old days, a Catholic Pope put very intelligent and orthodox theologians in the Holy Office, formerly known as the Inquisition, and these would interrogate a neo-modernist thus: “You have written that Pascendi is only a ´substantial anchorage´. This amounts to heresy. Either you retract, or the Pope has authority to excommunicate you. Kindly choose.” And the neo-modernist would have had to choose, having been made aware, by Church authority, of his heresy.

In other words, a heretic might have blinded himself, but Mother Church used to use her God-given authority to force him to be aware of his heresy.

Correct. But this last resort is unavailable to today´s churchmen, because they are the authority! As Archbishop Lefebvre said in the 70s to the Conciliar Holy Office when they interrogated him on his anti-Conciliarism, “I should be sitting in your place, and you should be sitting in mine”. God bless him, the Archbishop never lost his grip on objective Catholic truth!

Then churchmen such as Benedict XVI are completely innocent of what they are doing?

I did not say that. If they are the authorities of God’s Church, then logically the Lord God is offering them all the graces they need to lead the Church rightly. If then they are misleading the Church, they are refusing those graces, which means that they cannot, inside themselves, be innocent. But we are entering into inner depths upon which God alone can judge.

Stephen Heiner is the editor of and conducted the interview in person in Argentina. The full interview will be available in the October issue of The Angelus.

Readers of Rorate Cæli may receive a 13 month subscription for the 12 month price of $29.95. Just make sure that you mention this when you call (800-966-7337, for readers in North America: offer good until the end of September).

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...infundens oleum et vinum...

But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him, and seeing him, was moved with compassion, and going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke x; from the Gospel for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost)

...every loyal son of that Church, like the good Samaritan, pours oil and wine into the wounds of the sons of Adam, to free the guilty from sin, to strengthen the weak and feeble, to mould the lives of the virtuous nearer to the ideal of holiness. Even granting that some minister of Christ may at times fail in his duty, does it therefore follow that the power was rendered helpless and void of efficacy? Let us listen to the words of the Bishop of Hippo:

"I assert [he writes] and we all assert, that the ministers of so great a Judge should be just men. Let the ministers be just, if they will. If, however, they who sit on the chair of Moses refuse to be just I find my warrant of security in my Master, of whom His Spirit said: "He it is who baptizes." [In Johannis Evang., tract. 5, n. 15]

Would that the words of Augustine had been accepted formerly and were accepted today by all those who, like the Donatists, allege the fall of a priest as a reason for rending the seamless garment of Christ and for unhappily abandoning the way of salvation!

We see how our Saint, for all his exalted genius, humbly submitted his judgment to the authority of the Church teaching. He knew that, as long as he did so, he would not swerve a finger's breadth from Catholic doctrine. More than that, in pondering the sentence: "If you believe not, you will not understand," [Isaias vii, 9] he learned with certainty that a heaven-born light —denied to the proud— serves as a beacon to the minds of those who cling closely to the Faith and meditate the word of God in a mood of prayerful humility.

He knew, besides, that it was the duty of priests —whose lips should keep knowledge [Mal. ii, 7]— since they are bound to explain and defend aright the truths of Revelation and expound their meaning to the Faithful, to penetrate the truths of Faith to the depths —so far as is allowed by Divine permission.
Pius XI, Ad Salutem

"Lefebvrite bishop says no progress on reconciliation"

From the News Service of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- A year after his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, said there had been no substantial progress on reconciliation with the Vatican.

Bishop Fellay said that after the terms of a possible agreement were discussed by cardinals and Roman Curia officials in meetings last spring "there's been no development" on the issue.

"I think probably the pope would like things to go quicker, and he's probably facing a lot of opposition from the cardinals, from within," Bishop Fellay said Aug. 24.

"Right now, there's not much happening in either direction," he said.

Bishop Fellay spoke by phone to Catholic News Service from the society's headquarters in Econe, Switzerland.

Read whole article here.

Comment on yesterday's news: as Theseus in the palace of Minos, you may try to get out of the maze by following a trail -- of flowers...

The Passion of Spain - Never forget

"Naturally, I was not in favour of the Communists. How could I be, when if I had been a Spaniard they would have murdered me and my family and friends?"
Winston S. Churchill, The Gathering Storm

Yes, a Protestant Briton, who really knew what a "Fine hour" was, better understood the murderous forces involved in the Spanish Civil War than many a Catholic in our days!

So that Catholics may never forget the terrible persecutions faced by our brethren in those harsh Spanish days of the last six months of 1936, one is bound to remember the names of the bishops which, by this day 70 years ago, had already been murdered by the Republican forces in barely one month of suffering:

-July 27, 1936: Eustaquio Nieto y Martín, Bishop of Sigüenza. Shot dead by Republican militiamen (who had kidnapped him from the Episcopal Seminary) in the road to Estriénaga.

-August 5, 1936: Salvio Huix Miralpeix, Bishop of Lérida. Taken by the Republican commitee of Lerida, with 21 other men, to the local Cemetery, Don Salvio Huix asked to be the last one to be executed. After blessing the other victims, he was shot and buried.

-August 9, 1936: Cruz Laplana y Laguna, Bishop of Cuenca. Taken hostage by some Cuenca Socialist activists, he was shot after being taken out of the bus in which he was being transported, in the fifth kilometer of the road from Cuenca to Villar de Olalla. His last recorded words were: "I know you will kill me, but if my life is necessary, I offer it for Spain ... Do you believe that there is no Heaven? There is a Heaven, my sons! Do you believe that there is no hell? There is a hell, my sons! ... You may kill me: I leave you my body, but my soul will go to Heaven ... I forgive you and in Heaven I will pray for you." His secretary, Father Fernando Español, was killed with him. The body of the bishop was brutally disfigured after his execution.

-August 9, 1936: Florentino Asensio y Barroso, Bishop of Barbastro. The bishop was executed near the road to Sariñena, on the outside wall of a chapel. A line of other unwanted men was executed by the Republican militia at the same spot.

-August 9, 1936: Miguel Serra y Sucarrats, Bishop of Segorbe. Before being executed by Socilaist forces, close to a road near the hamlet of Vall de Uxó, Don Miguel Serra proclaimed, "¡Viva Cristo Rey!"

-August 12, 1936: Manuel Basulto y Jiménez, Bishop of Jaén. He was executed by Red forces together with his sister, Teresa, his faithful assistant for many years. Before being executed, Don Manuel Basulto fell on his knees and said, "Forgive, o Lord, my sins, and also forgive my murderers". His sister yelled, "This is infamous! I am a poor woman!". "Do not worry", the militia leader told her, "a woman shall kill you".

-August 12, 1936: Manuel Borrás Ferré, Auxiliary Bishop of Tarragona. After many days in jail and after he had been separated from Cardinal Vidal y Barraquer, Archbishop of Tarragona, who managed to escape the country, he was "convicted" by a "People's court". On August 12, Don Manuel Borrás was taken in a truck to the place of his execution, near the town of Coll de Lilla. After killing the holy man, the Reds covered his body with some wood and set it on fire.

-August 22, 1936: Narciso de Esténaga y Echevarría, Bishop (Prelate) of Ciudad Real. Don Narciso de Esténaga was arrested by Republican forces in the morning of August 22, with his faithful secretary, Father Julio Melgar. Details of their execution are unknown, but their bodies were found in the afternoon of the same day, by the river Guadiana, near the town of Peralvillo del Monte.

Before the end of the month, two other bishops would be murdered, as we shall see next week. Through the example of these episcopal martyrs, we pay homage to the thousands of priests and laymen martyred in Spain in the months of July and August of 1936.

The Forces of Enlightenment and Progress (Spain, 1936): Republican supporters and their sacrilege

Source for the information on the Spanish Martyrs: Antonio Montero Moreno, Historia de la persecución religiosa en España - 1936-1939.

Liturgical Renewal at Saint Peter's:
How does an altar disappear?

Saint Pius X says Holy Mass at the Altar of the Chair of Peter, 1906

The center of Christendom, the mighty new Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican (whose 500th anniversary we celebrated so conspicuosly this year) has, in its apse, one of the most famous sculptural groups in the world, the Chair of Saint Peter, by Bernini.

The image is well-known to all Catholics: the Holy Cathedra, embedded in a chair-like bronze sculpture, apparently suspended in the air, surrounded by angels, an alabaster window with the Holy Ghost, and four Doctors of East and West.

When Bernini finished this Counter-Reformation masterpiece, he included a marble altar and marble steps, moving (as it were) upwards towards the Cathedra, as it is plainly seen in this picture, with the traditional Roman altar arrangement (six candlesticks and a Crucifix).

And yet...

What many Catholics do not realize is that, sometime in the second half of the last decade of the past century, a liturgical expert in the Vatican (we would venture guessing a name...) decided to do something about that altar: the old, Traditional, look would not do. The complete removal of the altar was necessary. The Basilica had to be updated!

This is how the same place looks today: the traditional Altar, which had been in that place since the age of Bernini, was removed. Several yards to the east of it, a modern "anvil-like" altar has been added. Three marble steps to the old Altar remain, as a sort of pedestal for the celebrants, and as a phantasmagorical reminder of so many wonderful Masses celebrated versus Deum (westwards, circumstantially)...

Photographic collection tip: Cattolici Romani.

92 years ago today, the Church lost a great Pope

and gained a powerful Intercessor in Heaven.


The greatest Christian miracle: Tradidi...quod et accepi

"Fratres, notum vobis facio Evangelium, quod prædicavi vobis, quod et accepistis ... Tradidi enim vobis, in primis quod et accepi: quoniam Christus mortuus est pro peccatis nostris secundum Scripturas: et quia sepultus est, et quia resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas: et quia visus est Cephæ, et post hoc undecim..."

"Now I make known unto you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received ... For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures and that He was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven..." (I Cor. xv, 1, 3-5, from the Epistle for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost) to the common faith of all people; therefore, he says: which you received, all of you. But Augustine says that this pertains to the evidence of this faith, using this argument: For believing things of faith, miracles are either performed or not.

If miracles are performed, I have my point: that they are most worthy and most certain. If none is performed, this is the greatest of all miracles: that by a certain few an infinite multitude of men were converted to the faith, rich men by poor men preaching poverty; by men of one language preaching things that surpass reason, wise men and philosophers have been converted: "Their voice goes out through all the earth"

If it is objected that even the law of Mohammed has been received by many, the answer is that the cases are not alike, because he subjugated them by oppressing them and by force of arms, while the apostles, by dying and by working signs and prodigies, brought others to the Faith.

For he proposed things which pertain to pleasure and lasciviousness, while Christ and the apostles [proposed] contempt for earthly things...

Saint Thomas Aquinas, On the First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

The "greatest of all miracles": Christ said "Ephphetha" to the whole world through his Apostles... [see Gospel for the Sunday, Mark vii, 31-37; and the Baptismal rite: "Ephphetha, quod est, adaperire. In odorem suavitatis..."]

First Things hits rock-bottom?

"I worry about how blogs touch the reputations of the journals that host them. I worry about First Things."
Bottum does well to worry. The latest addition to the First Things' blog is so incredible that it defies a clear assessment: is it plain malicious or just idiotic?

Let us assume, for charitable reasons, that it is idiotic.

Idiotic line # 1:

"I don't mourn the impending loss to the Church of lacy prelates at 'ritualist churches' (in Vatican City or elsewhere) curling their pinky fingers and going goo-goo over this or that to-die-for arrangement of Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli."
No, that is not what gay priests do, FT. They are not "lacy" nor "ritualist", but self-centered "liturgists", bent on "creating" liturgical "experiments". They enjoy "remodeling" churches, destroying altars, making up sacraments as they go along; they love many children around the altar, altar servers of all ages and of both sexes; they adore clown masses, happy-clappy audiences, laughter and "reflection"; they hate "rubricism" and order -- and that is quite predictable, as the image they have of themselves, the "gay" image, is one based in open rebellion, disorder, and warfare against the Divine order.

They do not care about "Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli"; they enjoy "contemporary" music, bonding with the "sounds" of "Mother Nature"; the only liturgical arrangement they favor is one which involves dance and choreography; they adore facing the people, because an essential part of their disorder is the need to be seen and "loved" by all; they hate authentic beauty and Tradition, because both remind them of an orderly present and of an orderly past, which would never tolerate their liturgical shenanigans. And they love Andrew Sullivan and even call him "uncle"...

Idiotic Line # 2:

And the FT contributor does not stop there. She adds:

"Now, I don't know whether [Saint] Aelred was gay or not—mostly because the concept of defining oneself in terms of sexual orientation was unknown to medieval people—but I've always thought: So what if he was (or would be, by modern standards)?"
Right... There are no "modern standards" of sodomy and effeminacy. Buggery is buggery at any age. How dare one call a saint a "gay man"("by modern standards"..."so what if he was?"). Was it that he felt like acting on his buggering desires, but held them back? This is what one says about a holy man 850 years after his death? He is not here to defend himself from such slander... [Read this short book review by Father James Buckley, FSSP]

Idiotic line # 3:

"Many gays nowadays talk about their sexual identity as a "gift fromGod." Well, if that's so—and it may well be so..."

Perhaps because being a "gay man" is not slanderous... since the FT contributor herself admits that the "gay identity"..."may well be" a"gift from God".

Now the slander was directed against the Almighty... which is called blasphemy.

Yes, Bottum is right to worry about the First Things' blog.

Gravissimo Officii Munere - 100 years later

In August 1906, six months after his first official warning on the incompatibility of the new French Law of Separation with Catholic doctrine (see our previous posts on Vehementer Nos here and here), and after reviewing all legal and canonical possibilities, the Holy Father had no option but to proclaim, in the Encyclical Letter Gravissimo Officii Munere, that the nature of the religious associations (Associations Cultuelles) created by the Law was unacceptable to the Catholic Church. Pope St.Pius X offered a true lesson on the limits of the authority of temporal powers on the liberty of the Church:

Therefore, after having condemned, as was Our duty, this iniquitous law, We have examined with greatest care whether the articles of the said law would leave Us any means of organizing religious life in France in such a way as to safeguard from injury the sacred principles on which Holy Church reposes. ... And now, knowing your views as well as those of several cardinals, and after having maturely reflected and implored by the most fervent prayers the Father of Lights, We see that We ought to confirm fully by Our Apostolic authority the almost unanimous decision of your assembly.

It is for this reason that, with reference to the associations for public worship as the law establishes them, we decree that it is absolutely impossible for them to be formed without a violation of the sacred rights pertaining to the very life of the Church.

... while the law remains what it is, We declare that it is not permissible to try this other kind of association as long as it is not established in a sure and legal manner that the Divine constitution of the Church, the immutable rights of the Roman Pontiff and of the Bishops, as well as their authority over the necessary property of the Church and particularly over the sacred edifices.

With reference to the special charge against the Church of having been more accommodating in a similar case outside France, you should explain that the Church has acted in this way because the situations were quite different, and above all because the Divine attributes of the hierarchy were, in a certain measure, safeguarded. If any State has separated from the Church, while leaving to her the resource of the liberty common to all and the free disposal of her property, that State has without doubt, and on more than one ground, acted unjustly; but nevertheless, it could not be said that it has created for the Church a situation absolutely intolerable. But it is quite otherwise today in France; there the makers of this unjust law wished to make it a law, not of separation, but of oppression.
The legal standing of the Church in France would only be settled with a change in the interpretation of the Law of Separation, which allowed for a common understanding, between the Holy See and the French Republic, of the so-called "Diocesan Associations", accepted by Pius XI in 1924 (Maximam Gravissimamque).

Liturgical must-reads: suggestions

A list of liturgical must-reads, for beginners:

I. Spiritual Introduction:

It is impossible to understand the passion that a Tradition-minded Catholic feels for proper liturgy if one does not realize that such passion goes much beyond aesthetics -- much, much beyond. Why does a silent, simple, private Missa Recitata celebrated by a priest in a side Altar seem to nourish the faithful so thoroughly?

Some books may explain such deep sentiment:

-The Imitation of Christ, Book Four
-The Hidden Treasure, St. Leonard of Port-Maurice
-Hærent Animo, Pope St. Pius X (Letter from a priest to all priests: deep reflection on the Catholic priesthood as source of life for the world through the Most Holy Sacrifice)
-Pastoral Sermons [Sermons on the Eucharist], Ronald A. Knox
-The Spirit of the Liturgy, Romano Guardini

II. Dogmatic Introduction:

Lex orandi, lex credendi... Yet, it is not unimportant to remember the deep dogmatic limitations on abrupt changes in the Church and in her prayer. Particularly important for the liturgical life of the Church are the following texts:

-The Decrees and Canons of Nicaea II
-The Decrees and Canons of Constance, Sessions VIII, XIII (portions, as approved by Martin V in 1418), XV
-The Decrees and Canons of Trent, Sessions XIII, XXI, and XXII
-Auctorem Fidei (Condemnation of the errors of the Synod of Pistoia), Pius VI (Italian).
-Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ (Pastor Æternus)
-The Anti-Liturgical Heresy, Institutions Liturgiques, Book I, Chapter 14 (English summary here), Prosper Guéranger
-Mediator Dei, Pius XII

III. Sacred Music:

It is truly important, in a matter which many wrongly believe to be connected to mere personal taste, to read the great guidelines which the Holy See has always recommended regarding Sacred Music and which are well established in the following historical sequence of papal documents:

-Annus qui hunc, Benedict XIV (in Italian)
-Tra le Sollecitudini, Pope St.Pius X
-Musicæ Sacræ Disciplina, Pius XII
IV. History of the Western Rites:

-Institutions Liturgiques (Liturgical Institutions, Book I), Prosper Guéranger
-The Mass of Western Rites, Fernand Cabrol
-The Mass, Adrian Fortescue (for a fundamental short introduction)
-The Reform of the Roman Rite, Klaus Gamber (for the History and other aspects of the 1965-1969 scission of the Rite - read also this short article on the matter)
The list is a mere suggestion, of course -- though I consider that these provide an indispensable panoramic view of the subject. If you do not yet know the texts of the Traditional Roman Missal, a good option for brief introductions to the propers and to the Ordinary would be Dom Gaspar Lefebvre's Missel Quotidien et Vespéral (Saint Andrew Daily Missal); and, for some deeper analyses and explanations, Dom Prosper Guéranger's L'Année Liturgique ("The Liturgical Year").
Inspired by this list.

Ratzinger in Bamberg - 40 years

Pope Benedict will visit his native Bavaria in early September -- so perhaps it is an appropriate time to remember some of his words to Catholics assembled in Bavaria some 40 years ago.

Since 1848, the Katholikentag has been the main periodical assembly of lay Catholics in Germany, under the guidance of the hierarchy. Its original intent was to establish a sort of "cultural solidarity" among German Catholics. After the last Council, it became a hotbed of dissent, epitomized by the scandalous Katholikentag of Essen, in 1968.

The previous edition of the event had taken place in the city of the great Saint Otto, Bamberg, in July 1966. There, amidst the growing turbulence of the post-Conciliar age, with a Traditional liturgy which remained in the books but which was being destroyed in practice -- with no little help from the unmanageable changes proposed or imposed by the new liturgical bureaucracy in Rome, including the almost limitless experimentation allowed by the instruction Inter Œcumenici -- a man raised his voice to question the liturgical revolution.

Naturally, he was not the only one to question the novelties, but he was the one who would become Pope. Father Ratzinger had some interesting things to say at the dawn of the liturgical disaster, three years before the Mass of Pope Paul VI:

Among theologians, there is a certain archaism with the wish to restore the classical form of the Roman liturgy as it was before the additions of the Carolingian age and of the Middle Ages. One does not ask oneself, "What should the liturgy be like?"; but, rather, "What was it like once?"

While the past gives us an indispensable aid to solve the problems of our age, it is not the criterion on which one should found the reform purely and simply.

Knowing how Gregory the Great proceeded [to do] is good, but it does not force one to do the same. With such archaisms, the road towards legitimacy [in liturgical reform] has often been destroyed.

Must every Mass be truly celebrated turned towards the people? Is it that important to be able to see the face of the priest? Isn't it often good to think of him as a Christian with the others and that, consequently, he has all reasons to turn with them towards God and by this act say Our Father with them?

The tabernacle is detached from the High Altar, and there may be good reasons for that. But one should feel uncomfortable by seeing its place taken by the chair of the celebrant, expressing thus in the liturgy a clericalism which is much worse than that of before.

Assumpta est Maria in cælum!

Gaude, Maria Virgo,
cunctas hæreses sola interemisti in universo mundo!

...all the graces that the Author of all good deigns to bestow upon the poor descendants of Adam are, by favorable design of Divine Providence, dispensed through the hands of the Most Holy Virgin...
Benedict XV
Letter "The 27th of April, 1915" to the Secretary of State
May 1917

With even greater reason after the Assumption and her entrance into glory, Mary is the distributor of all graces. As a beatified mother knows in heaven the spiritual needs of her children whom she left on earth, Mary knows the spiritual needs of all men. Since she is an excellent mother, she prays for them and, since she is all powerful over the heart of her Son, she obtains for them all the graces that they receive, all which those receive who do not persist in evil. She is, it has been said, like an aqueduct of graces and, in the mystical body, like the virginal neck uniting the head to its members.
Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange
The Three Ages of the Interior Life

Secretary Bertone and the Traditionalist Question

Il Giornale reports today that Cardinal Bertone, the new Secretary of State, has some interesting words to say in his interview to the current issue of the magazine 30 Giorni (which is not currently available in their website):

"If, from the Lefebvrist side, there is a sincere will to reenter into full communion with the Holy See, it will not be difficult to find the adequate ways to achieve this result."
The Cardinal remembers his own experience as an aide to Cardinal Ratzinger during the 1988 discussions with Archbishop Lefebvre:

"A very demanding and interesting experience, even if the results were not positive. But the discussion is now reopened, especially after the historic audience granted by Benedict XVI to Bishop Bernard Fellay in the past year."

Thank you, Seattle Catholic

The best Catholic news website in English has ceased its regular activities.

Thank you, Peter Miller, for your wonderful work!

May God bless you and your family abundantly.

The Art of Confession


The following text is a translation of an article by Father Chery, O.P. Father Henri Charles Chery was a French Dominican priest who wrote many books and articles in the 40’s and 50’s. His writings about the “Christian” sects are particularly interesting. His tracts about Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anabaptists, Quakers, Christian Scientists, Rose Cross and so forth give us much information that can help us to deal with the problems of these sects. Another part of his work concerns the Liturgy.
This article was published in the French review of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, Tu es Petrus, in the issue of July 2005. I want to be most faithful to the original French version. May Our Lady, Refuge of sinners, help us to benefit from the reading of this text for the good of our souls.

Father Laurent Demets, FSSP


These lines are neither for the “great sinner” who comes to Christ to relieve his conscience from a heavy burden, nor for the Catholic of the annual Easter confession. But they may offer some usefulness to the person who has the “habit” of weekly, semi-monthly or monthly confession.

“Habit”: an untainted word if it refers to a commendable regularity or a word sadly blackened if it refers to a mindless routine. Unfortunately, every one knows that a commendable regularity can easily degenerate into thoughtless routine. Most of the penitents are upset by the miserable commonality of their confessions and by the little fruits they bear by them and even sometimes by the little interest the confessor shows in giving exhortation when they come to see him. Many take a dislike to this, then confess just by habit or settle for spacing out their recourse to the Sacrament of Penance in a detrimental manner for their spiritual progress.

Does not this dislike and its consequences come because they don’t know how to confess? There is a manner, an “art” that would make this exercise a profitable way of sanctification. By writing these lines, we think especially about the young people, the young Catholic in action, young families, who try to live an authentic Christianity with a generous effort of sincerity. They are not yet formed in the art of confession, and suffer the threat of becoming hardened. They have a horror of routine and they reject formalities. They are right. But they must know that formality comes by the fault of “the customer”, so to speak, and that it depends on them to keep intact their religious vitality or to let it deteriorate for lack of personal effort.

Rites are bearers of life, but only for the living.

The use of confession, if it is well understood, can be a serious support for growth in the spiritual life.

Warning! Confession is not all; contrition and absolution are more important!

But first, because we are speaking about confession, which is our topic, and only about confession, it is to be carefully noted that it is not the whole of the Sacrament of Penance, or even its main element. This Sacrament comprises regret, confession, absolution and reparation. It is essentially constituted by the absolution, which relieves the fault of a repentant heart. So, if a penitent – on his death bed, for example – is unable to express his confession, the Sacrament can work without this confession, but it cannot work without contrition. God, on his part, can dispense with the Sacrament in the absence of any qualified priest being available, but He cannot save a soul in spite of itself and forgive a sin that one refuses obstinately to regret.

People who think their accusation is the main part should remember this. Let the priest exhort them to contrition and to the means to be used for not falling again in their faults, and yet they seem not to pay close attention to him once their confession is made. Rather, they are distracted by their concern to state any sin they have not yet confessed. If it were a grave fault, it would be normal to express it before leaving, but most of the time, their concern is only about venial sins. One worries about being complete; one should rather worry about being contrite.
Consequently, during the few moments we ordinarily take to prepare ourselves for the following confession, we shouldn’t take all this time for the examination of conscience, but rather to implore the grace from God to obtain a sincere regret of our faults and to express our contrition and our intention to not fall again.

Confess to whom?

To whom will I go to confess?
First answer: to a priest! I use these words on purpose to emphasize that we must attach the prime importance, in the use of the Sacrament of Penance, not to the qualities of the man who hears the confession, but to his quality as Christ’s minister. Because we are lacking in faith, we pay excessive attention to the human value of the confessor, which could be a real and objective one or one that our liking and confidence confer to him. We don’t deny that we have to take this into consideration, but on a level standing on the fringe of the Sacrament, so to speak. It will have a role for the advice following the accusation and preceding the absolution, but the Sacrament is not constituted by the advice and can even be absent of it. The matter corresponds to Christ who holds the forgiveness; the living Christ who acts in His Church. Any priest who has received from the Church the power to validly absolve, acts in persona Christi, in the name of Jesus Christ. He opens for your soul the source of forgiveness, which is the blood of Christ the Redeemer, and he cleans it with this blood.

So penitents are wrong because of a lack of faith, when they defer freeing themselves from a grave sin or postpone indefinitely the confession that would free them from a growing uneasiness ( through purifying the sources of infection that spread ) because “their confessor” is away.

If they had the comprehension of what this Sacrament is, especially in its purifying work independently of the quality of the priest who administers it; if they understood that the priest is, first of all “minister of Christ”, that is: the ear of Christ to listen to the confession, wisdom of Christ to judge, mouth of Christ to pronounce the removal; they would give less importance to the human appearances and would not postpone their confession.

Now it is the time to say why I should confess my sins to a priest instead of contenting myself with a confession directly expressed to God in the depths of my heart. It is because I am a member of the Church.
My fault has offended God and injured myself. It is a breach of the love I owe to my Creator and of the virtuous love I should have for the child of God that I am. But my fault also has damaged the Church, the Mystical Body. “Every soul that rises, raises the world.” Every Christian who demeans himself thwarts the Christian community’s perfection. The most obscure sin wounds the tree of which I am a branch. If I totally break away from this tree by a mortal sin, or if only I separate a little bit, the entire tree suffers. I am responsible to the Church in my vitality, because God has entrusted for me his graces to the Church, the body of Christ. So, I must be responsible to Her to overcome my fault. During the first centuries, this responsibility to the Church appeared more manifestly, when the accusation was publicly done in front of the community. Now the discipline has softened, but it is still in front of the Church that I accuse myself, in the person of the priest who hears me, and it is from the Church I receive the reconciliation by the ministry of the priest who absolves me.

So, I confess to a priest because he is a priest. This doesn’t prevent me from choosing a confessor humanly able to understand me and to advise me. We are not speaking now, because it is not our topic, about what we call (maybe a little bit improperly) “spiritual direction”. Even by strictly remaining on the level of the confession, it is surely better for the progress of the soul, that it habitually uses the same confessor. After a while (provided that one follows the advice given about how to confess) the confessor knows who he deals with. He knows your tendencies and your usual weaknesses. Even though you just have a little to say, he knows what point is good to insist on in his exhortation. You have shown little by little the difficulties you struggle with and your own situation and you don’t risk being led astray by an inopportune remark, by a stranger who may misinterpret your situation. At a difficult time of your life, he can stop you on a slippery slope. Anytime, he can suggest to you the right decisions and free you from your spiritual indifference if you fall asleep.

How will you choose him? First, for his straight sense and his reliable judgment. If it is possible, holy – it is clear – but a stable and discerning priest is always preferable to another of a more fervent life but with a less well-balanced judgment. Don’t forget that he is an adviser and as is the wisdom of the adviser such is the advice. But he is a trainer too and you should want him to be demanding. A soft confessor, who would be content with deluding you with lenient words or with sending you away with the absolution and a general exhortation, would take a risk of letting you wallow in your sins or your serious imperfections. And that’s why you must, if necessary, incite the confessor to this beneficial demand and humbly accept his instructions in the effort to change. You will remember that the first condition you must attain before he can be useful is that you trust him.

You may have the best confessor of your town, but if you don’t frankly confide in him, he can’t do anything for you. So, you will choose one with whom you don’t feel paralyzed by his presence and that you can readily consider as an understanding Father, interested in your case and able to deal with it, open to the realities of life, sure in his diagnosis and with a firm goodness in his advice.

If you don’t find him, don’t be distressed; go to any priest: he has the grace of his state and the Holy Ghost will even use him for your good, provided that you will listen to him.
If you find him, don’t change easily. Even though you remain fully free for another choice, don’t be disconcerted by any impressions, any blows to your pride or any demands. Persevere until there is evident proof that you are making no progress with him, in spite of an honest and constant effort on your part.

Which sins to confess?

I am now near the confessional, starting my examination of conscience. Which sins will I confess?

The question comes up, it is clear, for I would not pretend to accuse all my faults. “For a just man shall fall seven times a day” the Scriptures say. What about me, who is not just? How many sins do I commit every day? To be complete and to totally exact all my sins is an unrealistic dream and besides, useless. I must choose. But what shall I choose?

First, you must say all your mortal sins, of course. Refusing deliberately to accuse one mortal sin, even though you confess some others of the same gravity, would make the confession null and sacrilegious. A mortal sin is an act by which you turn away from God, your ultimate end, by willingly telling Him that it is all the same for you to disobey Him in a serious matter, so that you can satisfy your disorderly tendencies. So, how can you obtain the grace of God if you don’t repudiate a mortal sin, and then if you don’t confess it? You cannot be both in friendship and in hostility with God.

The difficulty, in certain cases, is to know when there is a mortal sin. In theory, everybody knows: grave matter, mindful of the serious wrong and full consent. In practice, we often wonder: was the matter grave? And more often: did I really consent? It is easy to ask your confessor about the first question. For the second one, the fact that this question comes to your mind and you honestly wonder in conscience and the fact that you are not absolutely sure bring the answer: there was not full consent. Does that mean you don’t have to confess this “doubtful” sin, or rather this sin “doubtfully committed?” Certainly not! You can legitimately permit yourself on the basis of doubt to come to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Strictly speaking, there is no necessity to confess this sin. But if you want to make progress in the spiritual life, you would be wrong to take refuge behind this non-obligation when the doubt is a question in your conscience. Practically, the rule is very simple. You are not required to accuse yourself for having committed a mortal sin, but for having committed such sin or such act.

You can add, if need be: “I don’t know if I have fully consented” and that will be all right. There still will be a time for answering in conscience if the confessor asks you: “Do you think you committed a mortal sin by doing this?”

What about this phrase constantly used by certain people: “I accuse myself as God recognizes me as guilty[1]?” It can be used with good reason when you hesitate over the nature of your guilt, but it seems to be too easy and a little bit hypocritical when you know well, what it is about.
On the other hand, let us say to certain souls, that you don’t have to consider any sin as mortal. A sin that deserves separation from God for eternity and the pains of hell cannot be committed without a clear conscience of it. If your conscience has to be developed, you will ask your confessor for some explanations and you will firmly keep his advice. The development of the conscience should be made during childhood. Hearing children’s confessions, we are stunned by their aptitude for believing that some slight faults are mortal sins. By the way, is there not here a certain responsibility of the educators who should know how to proportion their scolding to the real value of the child’s fault? Anyway, the problem of the development of a child’s conscience should be well examined by parents and usual confessors, because it is dangerous to let children believe in the gravity of a slight fault as well as to let them consider as unimportant an act that is seriously reprehensible. A scrupulous and anxious conscience during childhood later makes an adult weak, apt to fail and without strength of character; or sometimes, as an aftereffect, a teenager who suddenly frees himself from an unbearable constraint.

Mortal or not, it would be better to confess the sins that lay the most heavily on your conscience, rather than slipping them in the middle of a long list of sins of less importance. Doing this you are sure to be freed from faults that otherwise you could fail to say because of a silly fear.

But I would like now to focus particularly on the examination and the accusation of venial sins. Is it not on this matter that most of the penitents accustomed to a frequent confession are the most deficient?
What kind of complaints do we often hear from these penitents? – “Confession bothers me because I always have the same things to say.” Or this, about the confessor: “He doesn’t tell me anything!” Understand: anything out of the ordinary that pushes you to shake yourself.
Well, the cause of these two defects that make confession psychologically tedious is the same: You don’t know how to confess!

How do most of the penitents confess?

Some penitents (only a few) forget that sin is an act and not a state, so they show (or they believe to show) the color of their souls by saying: “I am a liar; I am impatient; etc…” This way of expressing is improper. Saying it like this you indicate a tendency of your soul. But confession is not a statement of your tendencies: It is the accusation of precise actions, which are certainly the results of your tendencies, but different from them as the fruits differ from the tree. You can have a tendency to lie ( be a liar ) and have not told lies for the last two weeks since your last confession. If you have lied, you must say: “I have lied” and not: “I am a liar.”

Now, most of the penitents confess like this: “I have lied, I have lacked charity, I have been lazy, I have been vain, etc…” This form is more correct, but the accusation is hardly better. I mean, hardly profitable for your soul and hardly susceptible of obtaining useful advice from your confessor. Why? Because your confession is neutral. You didn’t need any particular thought and any efforts of resolution to do it. It doesn’t give to your confessor any particular description that permits him to see how your soul is different than the one he has just judged and advised before you. On ten penitents who follow each other, at least nine could show the same list – as a matter of fact, alas, they do!

So, why do you expect your confessor to give you the precise advice you need, advice for you and not for another? Your particular case is not revealed by your confession which gives him no means to grasp an understanding of you. He would need to be a wonderful and intuitive psychologist in order to guess, through this fast series of standard faults and through the screen of the confessional where he cannot see your face, to know what words he should tell you that could reach and encourage you to make the efforts you personally must make. We cannot expect all confessors to be a Curé d’Ars! Normally, a confessor will give you back what you have brought to him.

In addition, if the penitent begins a long listing, in which he wants to be exhaustive, and if he means to tell almost all the venial sins that one can commit – in fact that he has probably committed – so that the listing is said fast and lasts many minutes, then the confessor is totally bogged down and wonders: “Is there anything characteristic in this confession?” Thus, finding nothing particular, he just gives a general exhortation, which is hardly useful. Who’s to blame?

So, how do I confess well?

Let us first emphasize that venial sins are free matter concerning confession. You are not obliged to confess them. An act of contrition well done, a true act of love of God or the use of a sacramental with faith and humility qualify for obtaining forgiveness of them. Therefore, a confession which comprises only venial sins is not necessary for salvation. It is rather a way of sanctification. It is recourse to a Sacrament, by which we are cured and strengthened through the purifying blood of Jesus. It is also, secondarily, an exercise of humility based on the knowledge of yourself and the accusation of what holds up your spiritual progress. So, you are free to choose the venial sins you want to confess among all those you have committed.

Does that mean you will choose the slightest and push into the background the most embarrassing? No! It would be the opposite. A good examination of conscience should cause to emerge from the multitude of your daily sins, those which are the most dangerous for the vitality of your soul, because of their frequency or of their malice. The personal characteristic features of your own sinful soul are not similar to another soul’s, like your face is not similar to another. We all roughly commit the same sins, as we all have a nose, a mouth and ears. So the importance, for you, of such a fault, and the place it takes in your spiritual life and also its nearness to other faults of the same kind, is what compose your face as a sinner. This is what a skillful examination of conscience brings out. It is useless to accumulate a long list of sins in confession: five or six, well chosen, would be enough to see yourself and to show you as you truly are in front of God.

Now comes maybe the most practical remark. You still have to tell your sins with their own reasons and circumstances. “I have lied!” This signifies nothing. Psalm 115 says: Omnis homo mendax – every man is a liar. In what way did you lie? To whom? In what circumstances? Why?
“I have lied to a sick friend who expected my visit, because it annoyed me to do it.” This is a lie with a particular quality. “ I have lied in a salon by claiming that I have some relations which actually I don’t have; I have lied to my superiors in order to obtain a day off which I was not entitled to; I deceived a customer about the quality of my work in order to be paid more...” The simple confession “I have lied” would not give a precise idea of the quality of your sin.

“I have lacked charity” – the most common sin! Why do you use this neutral expression? Say rather: “I have said to someone I don’t like hurtful words, knowing that it would distress him” or “I have despised a classmate not very intelligent” or “I have refused to help a friend who was in need” or “I have made fun of a disabled person.”
There are so many ways to be vain. What about yours? Do you spend too much time for your grooming and dressing? Do you look at yourself in the mirror at every turn? Do you display your talent every time you are in company and try to attract attention by your brilliant conversation?

What about your laziness? How does it show up? By your obstinacy to stay in your bed when it is time to get up? By neglecting your duties and failing to accomplish what you are supposed to do? By your nonchalance in your behavior or an exaggerated love for comfort?

These few examples – we could find more – help us to understand what we mean when we say that you have to confess precise acts with the circumstances in which you have done them. Find the keywords which are the most capable of expressing your fault as it has really been committed by you and not by just anyone. It is for your own benefit. First, because it compels you to see yourself as you truly are; then because it is a salutary humiliation (it is more humiliating to say: “I have spent half an hour a day to make up my face” rather than: “I have been vain.”); and finally because your confessor can see the state of your soul from what you say and can give you suitable advice.

Having said this, you are not invited to chatter. Confessing with precision is not “telling stories.” Confession is not supposed to be drowned in a flow of accounts, explanations and digressions in which the penitent forgets that he confesses his sins and the confessor doesn’t understand what your sins are. Sometimes priests hear a so called confession as a justification or defense; sometimes as an evaluation about someone else; sometimes as a complaining about the hardness of the present time. It is quite legitimate to need to unburden your heart and to receive consolations, or to ask for explanations for your life. But in this case, separate the two matters: do your confession first by just telling your faults; then tell the priest that you have something else to say.

In what manner should I confess?

As we have already said several times, the priority to be valued in the Sacrament of penance is the purification by the blood of Jesus Christ, not the exhortation of the confessor. This purification is obtained by contrition. This truth involves a consequence regarding the manner in which you bring your faults to the tribunal of penance: you don’t have to enumerate your sins, but to confess them.
Every priest who hears confessions is struck every day by a kind of indifference, at least seemingly apparent, displayed by many penitents who state their faults. They enumerate their sins and draw up a list. If it is well done, it seems that they have accomplished what the Church expects from them. Then they just have to receive the absolution and leave freed. The formality is done.

But it is not the case. Nothing is “formality” in the field of religious acts. You don’t have to fulfill the obligation to attend Mass, but to participate in it. Confession is not about a duty you must do, but is essentially a matter of retraction and disavowal of the evil you have done, so that you can be forgiven. It is a matter of love, a matter of heart (i.e. of will). You come to acknowledge you did evil, you lacked the love due to God by refusing to do one of his wills (the will that we must be honest, just, pure, loving etc…) It has to be manifested by the way you tell your sins. Confiteor! (It is recommended to recite “Confiteor” (I confess) before you start your accusation.) “I confess; I recognize; I admit; It is my fault; I am guilty; I beat my chest.” So your accusation has to be along this line. It is not about noting that you have been evil and bringing this fact to the knowledge of the priest. You have to express the regret for having been evil.

Therefore, it would be good to repeat for each fault: “I accuse myself of…” It would be much easier if you accuse only a few sins.[2] It helps to avoid falling into a kind of indifferent coldness through contenting yourself in just relating your sins instead of confessing them.

Is it appropriate to accuse some sins of your past life already forgiven in previous confessions?

As an exercise of humility, this could be good to recognize yourself once again, as guilty of an old sin already forgiven, if this doesn’t bring any trouble to your conscience. A second good reason is that the Sacrament will bring its purifying grace in a special manner to the source of infection from where this sin formerly came, which may not be totally cleansed.

It can also be good, in certain serious occasions of your life (before marriage, before taking vows, during a retreat etc…), to make a general confession regarding the last past year or a longer period. But there is a condition: it should not be done because of a conventional custom, but because you really need it. You must be pushed by an interior necessity, not by the fact that it is a custom, especially during retreats.

Nevertheless, some people may abstain from looking at their past life. These are the scrupulous. The scrupulous persons are sick and their sickness precisely consists of an anxiety which makes them unable to know if they have done something or not, or if they have done something right or wrong in such an action. They want to be sure, and the more they look for certitude, the less they are sure. In the confessional, they want to be sure that they have completely said all or that they honestly have true contrition, but for never being sure, they indefinitely repeat. Indeed, it is an exhausting search which increases their sickness while pretending to soothe it. There is still one way to be cured: obeying the confessor with no discussion. He will give the order to close one’s eyes on the past in an absolute manner.

The firm intention

There is a kind of concern which is not only peculiar to scrupulous people and that even sincere people know. This concern expresses itself as such: “Why do I have to tell this sin? I probably don’t regret it because I know I will commit it again.”
This matter is about the firm intention.

First, let us clearly distinguish: “foreseeing that I will fall again” and “wanting to fall again”.

For sure, a penitent who wants to fall again and who is decided to repeat his fault at the first occasion is not a penitent. He has no contrition. He misuses the Sacrament and deludes himself about the effectiveness of the absolution which cannot clean a sin if its author doesn’t disown it. Thanks be to God, this is not the usual case.
Most of the penitents have a keen feeling of their weakness which is justified by the unfortunate experience of their relapses. They think that their good intention, severely tested once again, will not be more effective than it was previously. And they conclude: “I don’t have contrition!” This is a mistake. They basically call “evil” the evil they have done; they wish they had never done it and would like to be able to avoid it now. So, this is contrition.

In order to forgive us, God does not require that we are sure to not sin again. This certitude would be very similar to presumption. He simply asks us to have the intention to do what we can with the help of His grace to avoid sinning again. Is this our intention? Then we don’t have to fear hypocrisy and insincerity. Our gloomy forecasts should not change our intention. In reality, a gloomy forecast in itself is a sinful mistrust of the grace available in the Sacrament. The sacrament of Penance is really a means to progress, not mainly because of the psychological effort it imposes on us, but rather it applies to our sick soul the expiatory blood of Jesus Christ which is its remedy. Jesus doesn’t only grant his forgiveness by the merits of His Passion, but He also gives us some purifying graces and strength for the struggles we still have to pursue, especially graces regarding the sins we have confessed. We should have confidence in those graces, not in the problematic capacities of resistance of our good will.

So, don’t worry about “tomorrow”. Tomorrow’s grace will be sufficient for tomorrow as long as you keep confidence and continue to pray. Today, you have the grace of today, which is a grace of contrition. Bearing now in your imagination the temptation of tomorrow is bearing a burden for which you do not have help. It is no wonder if it seems to you too heavy and crushing.
This is not the sense of being unconcerned, because the accusation involves a resolution. You will entrust the execution of this resolution to the help of God and you will have to work to keep it. In order to be effective, a resolution must be precise, about such or such sin to avoid, not about all the sins you have confessed. You can even do better by considering, from the experience of the past, the circumstances that may lead to a fall and the occasions which can push you to sin. Then you can focus your resolutions on occasions which you must avoid.

For example, if you know that certain company pushes you to gossip, particular reading lead you to impurity[3], such opening a drawer in your mind revives bitterness or such conversation rouses your anger, then your resolution will be to shun this company, to give up this reading[4], to leave this memory as a closed drawer or to avoid this subject of conversation. Acting this way is considering yourself as you really are. You can succumb in such an occasion while someone else would remain strong. Acting this way, you are not tempting God by putting yourself in danger. Finally, acting this way is being logical with your contrition.

After your accusation of sin, why not guarantee your resolution by submitting it to your confessor? This would help you to keep it better.


If you follow this advice, your confession will no longer be a tedious repetition of “standard” sins and a chore as it too often is. It would rather be one of the most powerful means of sanctification that the Church offers to you. When you go to the tribunal of penance, you will be aware that you go to Christ on the Cross who holds in His crucified hands the forgiveness He obtained for you with His blood. Aware of your misery, particularly since you will more easily understand your daily weaknesses and be confident in God’s mercy, especially since you will beg Him for obtaining the hatred for your sins, you will step into the confessional with the humble disposition of the prodigal son: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son.”

This is why you can leave with a new strength, based on a liberating assurance: “ Go in peace my son; thy faith has made thee whole.”
* *

[1] In French: Je m’en accuse comme Dieu m’en reconnaît coupable.
[2] Remember this advice is for people who confess regularly.
[3] The same remark applies to television which can be a frequent occasion of sin.
[4] Or this TV programme.

Unabridged Guéranger

This is not a piece of urgent news, but it is one of best additions to the web in recent memory: the unabridged versions of Dom Prosper Guéranger's Institutions Liturgiques and L'Année Liturgique (The Liturgical Year), in French.

Other works of this most admirable man - Homo Ecclesiæ, as Pope Blessed Pius IX called him - are available in this website, of which we had not been aware, hosted by the Abbey of Saint Benoît de Port-Valais, Switzerland.

Tip: Le Forum Catholique