Rorate Caeli

Catholic Thanksgiving Day

The last day of the calendar year is when we give thanks for the past 365 days.  Even though Anno Domini MMXIII was a roller coaster of a year in the Church, we still have plenty to be thankful for in our lives.

The traditional sacraments, good priests and religious, family, friends and health are hopefully some of things for which we can give thanks today.  For loved ones lost this year, perhaps we can give thanks that they were given Last Rites and, God-willing, died in the state of grace.

To that end, the Church grants a plenary indulgence today (31 December) under the usual conditions for publicly saying or singing the Te Deum "for the favors received in the course of the entire year."

Sermon for the Sunday in the octave of Christmas 2013

From the gospel of St. Luke:  “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother:  Behold this child is set for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel: and for a sign which shall be contradicted.”

The Sunday before Christmas I was in Manhattan for an afternoon concert at Carnegie Hall.  After the concert we decided to stop at Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and look at the skaters gliding on that rink that is a most unlikely surface amidst the Art Deco splendor of that peculiar place in New York.  The crowds were dense. It was hard to walk at all.  
That particular evening was abnormally warm for December. The air was oppressively humid.  We finally got to the opening where one walks into the plaza itself.  There were those angels with their trumpets, angels made out of some abstract plastic stuff, not ugly but not angelic, if you know what I mean.  And in the center of the plaza there stood the giant tree, this year from Shelton, Connecticut.

Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society: Seventy-eighth posting of Souls

Below, please find the seventy-eighth posting of enrolled Souls of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society.

Priests: The Souls still need more of you saying Mass for them! Please email me to offer your services. There's nothing special involved -- all you need to do is offer a weekly or monthly TLM with the intention: "For the Souls enrolled in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society."

How to enroll souls: please email me at and submit as follows: "Name, State, Country." If you want to enroll entire families, simply write in the email: "The Jones family, Ohio, USA". Individual names are preferred. Be greedy -- send in as many as you wish and forward this posting to friends as well. And please follow this formatting strictly. 

Please consider forwarding this Society to your family and friends, announcing from the pulpit during Holy Mass or listing in your church bulletin. We need to spread the word and relieve more suffering souls.

Please pray for the enrolled Souls and the 36 holy priests saying Traditional Masses for the Society:

You Report: Rorate Solemn High Mass in the Dominican Rite
You Suggest: Epiphany Vespers with Archbishop Cordileone

From the Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco:

Last Wednesday, the Rorate Solemn High Mass in the Dominican Rite was celebrated at Star of the Sea Church for the very first time. The celebrant was Fr. Anselm Ramelow, O.P., assisted once again by the friars from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (Berkeley, CA) and St. Dominic’s Church (Benicia, CA). Star of the Sea was the 2nd church in the entire state of California (the other one was St. Stephen the Martyr in Sacramento) to have offered this kind of Mass! Many thanks to the Dominican Friars for their assistance in making this possible.
Photos and full-length video of the Rorate Mass can be viewed here. 
Also ...
Epiphany Vespers with Archbishop Cordileone
January 5, 2014 (4PM)

St Sebastian’s Catholic Church
373 Bon Air Rd, San Rafael, CA 94904-17
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will introduce the new Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship. Fr. Samuel F. Weber, OSB will give a talk on the spirituality of chant. Afterwards, we will celebrate vespers with the Archbishop. Refreshments will be provided. For the latest updates, visit here

In the Gesù in Rome, in "the church of Francis": the triumph of "transgender" identity

Some news outlets (Huffington Post, for instance, and NCR) have reported on the December 27 funeral in the Church of Il Gesù, the central church of the Society of Jesus in Rome, for Andrea Quintero, a homeless "transgender" man who left his family in Colombia a few years back. He then drifted to Rome, where he lived on the streets, struggled with addiction and became something of a fixture around the Termini train station. He died in July, the victim of a beating. His family made no move to claim his body. As NCR reports:

Eventually the Jesuit-run Centro Astalli, dedicated to aiding refugees, in combination with the local branch of Caritas and civic officials, stepped in to organize a funeral service.

Among other dignitaries expected to be on hand is Cécile Kyenge, a Congo-born politician and ophthalmologist who serves as Italy’s Minister for Integration, making her the first person of color to serve in an Italian cabinet.

Jesuit Fr. Giovanni La Manna, director of the Centro Astalli, said the funeral is intended not only to mourn Quintero’s death, but to offer “a signal for the entire Roman community that’s distracted in the face so many people who face discrimination, and who live their difficulties to the indifference of our city.”

In a Tweet about the funeral, the Vatican writer for Corriere della Sera, Gian Guido Vecchi, referred to it taking place in “the church of Francis,” presumably a reference to the fact that it’s happening at the mother church of his Jesuit order.

Certainly we have no objections to burying the dead, which is one of the corporal works of mercy -- but it is one thing to have buried Mr. Quintero respectfully but quietly, and another to give him a prominent Church funeral in the full glare of publicity, in the presence of civil dignitaries and in the main church of the Order to which the reigning Pope belongs, with the intention of doing so to make a point against "discrimination."

And it is still another thing yet that, as ANSA reports, during the funeral, the main celebrant (Msgr. Enrico Feroci, the Director of Caritas for the Diocese of Rome) referred to Mr. Quintero as "she" throughout the religious service. 

You Report - Mexico: Traditional Mass & Confirmations celebrated for first time after Summorum by residential bishop in his own Cathedral

Our friends at Una Voce México send us this detailed report of a historic event:

Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia celebrated a Solemn High Traditional mass on Christmas Eve at his cathedral in the city of Morelia (state of Michoacán, Mexico). This marks the first Traditional Mass a Mexican residential bishop celebrates in his cathedral since the motu propio Summorum Pontificum was promulgated in 2007.

Before the mass, Archbishop Suarez Inda also conferred the sacrament of Confirmation to two young women of the Latin Mass community of Morelia.

The TLM apostolate started in september of 2011 with a Sunday mass at the "Señor de la Columna" chapel and is currently served by diocesan priests with the help of the archbishop under the provisions of the motu propio.

Also important to mention is that when the TLM apostolate in Morelia started, Archbishop Suarez Inda made sure to express his support for it by celebrating the first mass and that this constituted the first TLM celebrated by a Mexican bishop since in at least the last 40 years.

On behalf of Una Voce Mexico we wish to express our public gratitude to Archbishop Suarez Inda, the group of chaplains of the TLM community and the canons of the Morelia Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord for making possible the return of the Traditional Latin Mass to one of the most important and beautiful cathedrals in our country and hope this will be the first of many more celebrations in the future.

You Report: Traditional Rite of Confirmation in Kentucky

On Dec. 14th, His Excellency Bp. Roger Foys of the Covington, KY Diocese (across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio), offered the traditional rite of confirmation at the Covington Cathedral. It was a beautiful ceremony with fine music and eight confirmandi. We at Una Voce want to offer public thanks to this good Bishop for offering the traditional confirmation, which is the first one in the local area since the 1960s.

Sermon for the Third Mass of Christmas

(Photo via the University of Notre Dame)

Christmas morning always clears the air, so to speak.   The specialness, the mystery, the night, the strangeness of the time itself, all this of the Midnight Mass is one of the real joys of the Christmas Season. And last night’s Midnight Mass was made even more special, more singular, being celebrated within the beauty of the renewed church of St Mary.  But now the sun is out. It is clear and cold.  This is the Third Mass of Christmas, and the gospel is the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John.  

 This is the Last Gospel said by the priest at the end of every Traditional Mass, and it is done so to remind the priest and the people what this is all about:  "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us full of grace and truth."  Without these words, there is no Christian message, there is no Mass, there is no Gospel.  This is theology, this is talking about God not in some general way but in the most specific way possible: that the infinite God took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary—infinity contained in a little space—and was born into our time and space, into our history, and at that moment changed human history from “God up there and us down here and muddle through somehow”: to Emmanuel, God with us. 

And John says:  “and the world knew him not.”  The light came into the darkness, but the world went about its worldly business and did not notice over 2000 years ago that God became flesh in the baby Jesus.  The world never notices such things.  How can it, when the world prefers the darkness to the light?  And when the child Jesus grew up to be the man Jesus, his preaching and teaching touched a number of people, a small number in fact. His miracles were worked on a few people: healings, exorcisms, raising the dead.  And the few people who noticed either were thoughtfully impressed or went on their way looking for another traveling miracle show. Others  got angry at what this man was saying and doing and teaching: the Jew preaching against Judaism as mere religion, merely keeping the ins and outs of the Law.  

They got angry at his insistence on repentance and turning one’s heart around, they got angry at his concept of love as something that is not merely good feeling, not merely noblesse oblige, but something that has sacrifice at its heart, and not in general, but one’s own sacrifice of oneself.  And the darkness of the religious and the worldly powers knew he had to go, that they had to get rid of him, and so they nailed him to a tree, they killed him.  But we know that is not the end of the story, for the Word of God cannot die and yet he died. The flesh that Mary bore died, and this man Jesus knew that he was dying for the sins of the world: not to make the world a better place, not only to be—although in a real sense he was—the model to be followed, but rather that the only way to conquer the darkness whose heart is death is to die, and not merely to die, but to die FOR, and this FOR was not for a cause. This FOR was for the whole world of darkness. This FOR was for you and me.  “Good Christian men rejoice, with heart and soul and voice. Christ was born to save!”

All through Western history—and Western history for the past two thousand years cannot be separated from Christianity and the Catholic Church—all through Western history there has been this temptation to forget all this we hear about in today’s gospel and to tame Jesus Christ, to make him something else, something more manageable, something less threatening, something we can put into a box and file it piously away.  There has always been the temptation to put Jesus back into the box of the “God up there”, to forget about the reality of his birth and life and death and see it all as God passing through this world and going back up where he belongs without leaving a trace of Himself here on earth.  The modern temptation for several centuries now has been to tame Jesus by forgetting entirely the Word made flesh and to bring him down to our size, to make him the man for others, to make him the model citizen, to list him with other great religious teachers like Buddha, to say that he is the one to whom we look when we want to know what love means, without taking seriously his demand for repentance and faith.  

This present age seems to be going back to the future of a Social Gospel Jesus, the one who shows us how to live with each other and what our obligations are to others.  That reduction has been tried before, and liberal Protestantism is its result, and it is dying, if not already dead.  We seem to be entering a new phase of this deliberate forgetting about the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in all of its manifestations and are embarking on what we can call the Disneyfication of the person of Jesus, a combination of Simba and Bambi.   So Catholicism becomes atheme park where one can choose what rides one wants to take depending on what picture du jour of Jesus strikes one’s fancy on that particular day.   

This theme park is run by religious men, whose role in life is to run the Church and make sure it remains as religious as the Scribes and Pharisees were of old but with a softer image.  In this theme park one can go on the Good Samaritan ride and get a good feeling by acting out as a caring person without getting out of the seat.  Or one can go on the Prodigal Son ride and feel satisfied by being accepted by God no matter what I do and subdue my vague feeling of needing to go to Confession.   One can go into the Hall of Churches and gaze at churches through centuries as one gazes at objects in a museum, looking at funny things like monstrances and relics and thuribles and beautiful vestments, all things of another time, another world.  Or one can go on the Field Hospital ride and attend to computer generated wounded and sick people and leave satisfied that one has fulfilled one’s obligation for that Sunday. The price of admission to the theme park includes Free Holy Communion with no questions asked.

But do you know who is excluded from this theme park?  There is no John the Baptist.  He was excluded on the grounds that he was negative and frightening.  His cry for repentance, his use of phrases like “you brood of vipers”, his crazy appearance in animal skins, his long bony finger pointing to the “Lamb of God”—a phrase that would have to be forbidden in the theme park. This is not part of the current theme park administration’s agenda.  And do you know who else is excluded? The real Jesus.  Ah, but you say, there are plenty of Jesus rides in this park, and there is that wonderful hologram show of him smiling and hugging and affirming and not judging and joking around with his friends at the meal later called  the Last Supper.  And there is the Nativity ride where you can even smell the animals in the stable. But the real Jesus is banned in this park:  the Crucifix is nowhere to be seen.  This does not fit into the Disneyfied depiction of Jesus, for the Crucifix with its blood and shame and death would shatter the illusions of those who paid admission to the theme park, for this image would demand serious thought about repentance, faith, judgment, sacrifice, salvation. Confrontation with oneself is not part of the park experience. Confrontation with God and his terrible love is not part of the park experience.

The joy of Christmas was understood for many centuries to be grounded in the Word made flesh who dwelt among us and who became man to die for us and to save us from our sins so that by faith in Him we might have eternal life.  Medieval man understood this so simply and beautifully.  So often we read in late medieval poetry the idea expressed that the Crib and the Rood are made of the same wood, the wood of the Tree in the Garden that condemned us to death. That the Crib and the Rood are part of the history of God and therefore our own history that is accessible only through faith is something we are in danger of losing.  And we must find it again, you and I, and we must never yield to the temptation of romantically separating the Crib and the Rood and never yield to the temptation to reduce Christianity to living a Good Life and “live and let live.”  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.  To hear those words today and to believe them, and to accept the infinite love of God that spoke those words into the void of our lives:  that is a source of deep and unending joy on this Christmas Day.

Mild he lays his glory by, 
Born that man no more may die. 
Born to raise the sons of earth, 
Born to give them second birth, 
Hark!  The herald angels sing 
“Glory to the new-born King”!

Note: What does the new Spanish abortion bill mean?

Spanish pro-lifers have protested for decades against liberal abortion laws,
especially the 2010 law. They seem to have achieved a tiny victory.

The Spanish central government has introduced a bill to restrict some abortion liberalities established by the previous Socialist government. Worlwide headlines include strident words such as, "Spain pushes for harsh law on abortions, sparking outrage". What does the bill actually mean?

First, it is a bill, that is, it is still subject to modifications in parliamentary procedure, or even rejection - party majorities are often wobbly in such "controversial" matters...

Second, far from wide restrictions, it is mostly a return from the 2010 regime (that instituted abortion on demand as a right for most practical purposes) to the first Spanish abortion liberalization law of 1985, that considered the procedure merely non-criminal in some specific cases - good enough, but far from a truly pro-life measure.

Third, it is, though surely a very timid measure, a healthy sign that the worldwide trend for abortion does not have to be always in the direction of more death and destruction, but can at times be reverted and even reduced. Measures to restrict abortion have been introduced or at least proposed in the past few years in nations as different as Russia and Turkey, and the Spanish example will hopefully show that a Western representative regime (not only a formerly proud Catholic nation, but a great Motherland of Catholic peoples if ever there was one) can enact pro-life measures, or at least halt the pro-death advances made in recent decades.

This symbolic side of the measure was also shown on Christmas Eve by the harsh response of the Spanish Minister of Justice Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, to the French Minister for Women's Rights (sic) and spokeswoman of the French Socialist Government, Najat Belkacem, who committed the effrontery of criticizing a foreign bill. Just days earlier, reminded Gallardón, the European Parliament had rejected the radical report proposed by the Portuguese Socialist MEP Edite Estrela (the "Estrela Report") that, among other things, tried to institute abortion as a European-wide "human right". In view of the European Parliament's decision, Gallardón told Belkacem that "the Socialist theses on abortion are a thing of the past".

Let us hope that he is right.

Christus natus est nobis

A very joyful Christmas and a blessed Christmastide to all!


Breviarium Romanum - In Nativitate Domini, ad matutinum
Antiphona ad invitatorium
Gaspar Fernandes (Évora, Portugal, 1566 - Puebla, New Spain, 1629)


Franciscans of the Immaculate part 2, from our very well-informed source
Friars who signed petition told by Volpi they were "outside the Church"
Threatened to deny them Sacraments if they didn't sign retractions

Rorate has, from the beginning, done everything we can to shed light on the unjust and problematic Vatican intervention in the Franciscans of the Immaculate (FI). Last week, Catholic World Report ran a completely erroneous story on the FI, and Rorate's very well-informed source wrote a thorough rebuttal. Then, yet another piece was written by the website owned by Ignatius Press, which must be corrected for the record. 

This is the second piece written by our very well-informed source (we cannot underline this enough). While we urge anyone who wishes to reprint this to do so, we must request you cite Rorate Caeli as the source, and either reprint it in full or link to the full story. To read all of Rorate’s coverage of this sad situation, click the label “FFI under intervention” at the bottom of this post.

From our very well-informed source:
Commissioner Fr. Volpi, who has brought the interdiction upon the FI, at the order of Pope Francis.

I see that Michael J. Miller has done me the courtesy of replying. Some further comments and clarifications seem appropriate.

CDF Prefect Müller: "Lefebvrians are de facto schismatic", Liberation Theology founder "has always been orthodox"

From the interview granted by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and President of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei', Abp. Gerhard Müller, to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, published this Sunday:

With the failure of discussions, what is the position of the Lefebvrians?

"The canonical excommunication due to the illicit [episcopal] ordination was lifted from the bishops, but the sacramental one remains, de facto, for the schism; because they have removed themselves away from communion with the Church. That being said, we do not close the door, ever, and we invite them to reconcile. But they also must change their approach and accept the conditions of the Catholic Church, and the Supreme Pontiff as the ultimate criterion of membership."

What can you say about the meeting between Francis and [Fr. Gustavo] Gutiérrez on September 11?

"Theological currents go through difficult moments, things are debated and clarified. But Gutiérrez has always been orthodox. We Europeans must get over the notion of being the center, without, on the other hand, underestimating ourselves. To broaden the horizons, to find a balance: I have learned this from him. Opening up to a concrete experience: seeing povery and also the joy of the people. A Latin American Pope has been a heavenly sign. Gustavo was overwhelmed. I was as well. And also Francis."

(Source, in Italian; tip: Il Blog di Raffaella)

Thank you for your readership

Today is Rorate Sunday, the Fourth Sunday in Advent, and our 8th anniversary. This has been a trying year, but never had our audience reached such high levels: we end 2013 with an average daily audience that is four to five times larger than it was just one year ago.

Thank you for your trust and readership. And a very happy and holy season of Christmas in the upcoming days!

IMPORTANT: Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate fight back
Call Fr. Volpi's accusations "totally unfounded"
Volpi's comments "offend our entire Institute, and consequently, we refute them completely"

We have done our best to keep our readers abreast of the truth behind the unjust and unnecessary interdiction of the Franciscans of the Immaculate by the Vatican via Commissioner Fr. Volpi at the order of Pope Francis. 

Now, we bring you a letter from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, punching back hard at accusations made of them by Fr. Volpi, translated by Rorate’s Francesca Romana. While we urge anyone who wishes to reprint this to do so, we must request you cite Rorate Caeli as the source, and either reprint it in full or link to the full story.

To read all of Rorate’s coverage of this sad situation, click the label “FFI under intervention” at the bottom of this post:


It is with deep sadness and consternation we learn that in the circular letter of the 8th December, addressed to all the Friars of the Immaculate, the most Reverend Father Volpi, accuses some of the most prominent exponents of the Sisters of the Immaculate, “of having contributed to the creation of a ‘distorted mentality’ in the Friars, strongly influencing their lifestyle.”

We retain that such accusations are totally unfounded, and because of the generalizations, they offend our entire Institute, and consequently, we refute them completely, at the same time recalling the words of our Pope Francis “Whoever speaks badly about his brother, kills him." (2.9.2013) while “mercy changes the world.” (17.3.2013).

On our part, we endeavor to follow the invitation from the Vicar of Christ “to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord; to edify the Church with the blood of the Lord, shed upon the Cross; and to confess the only glory: Christ crucified. And like this the Church goes forth.” (14.3.2013).

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate

For the Record: First Christmas Address to the Roman Curia of new Pontificate

I am very grateful to the Cardinal Dean for his words. Thank you!

The Lord has enabled us to journey through Advent, and all too quickly we have come to these final days before Christmas. They are days marked by a unique spiritual climate made up of emotions, memories and signs, both liturgical and otherwise, such as the creche… It is in this climate that this traditional meeting takes place with you, the Superiors and Officials of the Roman Curia, who cooperate daily in the service of the Church. I greet all of you with affection. Allow me to extend a special greeting to Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who recently began his service as Secretary of State, and who needs our prayers!

While our hearts are full of gratitude to God, who so loved us that he gave us his only-begotten Son, it is also good to make room for gratitude to one another. In this, my first Christmas as the Bishop of Rome, I also feel the need to offer sincere thanks to all of you as a community of service, and to each of you individually. I thank you for the work which you do each day: for the care, diligence and creativity which you display; and for your effort – I know it is not always easy – to work together in the office, both to listen to and challenge one another, and to bring out the best in all your different personalities and gifts, in a spirit of mutual respect.

In a particular way, I want to express my gratitude to those now concluding their service and approaching retirement. As priests and bishops, we know full well that we never really retire, but we do leave the office, and rightly so, not least to devote ourselves a little more fully to prayer and the care of souls, starting with our own! So a very special and heartfelt "thank you" goes to those of you who have worked here for so many years with immense dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world. This is something truly admirable. I have such high regard for these "Monsignori" who are cut from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons… We need them today, too! People who work with competence, precision and self-sacrifice in the fulfilment of their daily duties. Here I would like to mention some of them by name, as a way of expressing my esteem and my gratitude, but we know that, in any list, the first names people notice are the ones that are missing! Besides, I would also risk overlooking someone and thus committing an injustice and a lack of charity. But I want to say to these brothers of ours that they offer a very important witness in the Church’s journey through history.

They are also an example, and their example and their witness make me think of two hallmarks of the curial official, and even more of curial superiors, which I would like to emphasize: professionalism and service.

Professionalism, by which I mean competence, study, keeping abreast of things… This is a basic requisite for working in the Curia. Naturally, professionalism is something which develops, and is in part acquired; but I think that, precisely for it to develop and to be acquired, there has to be a good foundation from the outset.

The second hallmark is service: service to the Pope and to the bishops, to the universal Church and to the particular Churches. In the Roman Curia, one learns – in a special way, "one breathes in" – this twofold aspect of the Church, this interplay of the universal and the particular. I think that this is one of the finest experiences of those who live and work in Rome: "to sense" the Church in this way. When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow drift downwards towards mediocrity. Dossiers become full of trite and lifeless information, and incapable of opening up lofty perspectives. Then too, when the attitude is no longer one of service to the particular Churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customshouse, constantly inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.

To these two qualities of professionalism and service, I would also like to add a third, which is holiness of life. We know very well that, in the hierarchy of values, this is the most important. Indeed, it is basic for the quality of our work, our service. Here I would like to say that in the Roman Curia there have been, and still are, saints. I have said this publicly on more than one occasion, as a way of thanking the Lord. Holiness means a life immersed in the Spirit, a heart open to God, constant prayer, deep humility and fraternal charity in our relationships with our fellow workers. It also means apostleship, discreet and faithful pastoral service, zealously carried out in direct contact with God’s people. For priests, this is indispensable.

Holiness, in the Curia, also means conscientious objection. Yes, conscientious objection to gossip! We rightfully insist on the importance of conscientious objection, but perhaps we too need to exercise it as a means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of our surroundings, which unfortunately is that of gossip. So let us all be conscientious objectors; and mind you, I am not simply preaching! For gossip is harmful to people, harmful to our work and our surroundings.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us feel close to one another on this final stretch of the road to Bethlehem. We would do well to meditate on Saint Joseph, who was so silent yet so necessary at the side of Our Lady. Let us think about him and his loving concern for his Spouse and for the Baby Jesus. This can tell us a lot about our own service to the Church! So let us experience this Christmas in spiritual closeness to Saint Joseph. This will benefit all of us!

I thank you most heartily for your work and especially for your prayers. Truly I feel "borne aloft" by your prayers and I ask you to continue to support me in this way. I too remember you before the Lord, and I impart my blessing as I offer my best wishes for a Christmas filled with light and peace for each of you and for all your dear ones. Happy Christmas!
December 21, 2013
[Translation: Holy See Press Office]

Natus ad hoc: The Messiah

Ecce servus meus, suscipiam eum; electus meus, complacuit sibi in illo anima mea: dedi spiritum meum super eum: iudicium gentibus proferet. (Matins, First Reading, Tuesday in the Fourth Week in Advent. "Behold my servant, I will uphold him: my elect, my soul delighteth in him: I have given my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." Is., xlii, 1)


At the approach of decadence and captivity — seven hundred years, however, before Jesus Christ — the Messianic idea assumed in Isaiah a clearness and an abundance of expression which it is impossible to render to you, since I should weary you by the number and length of the passages I should have to cite. It is he who sees the Messiah springing from the race of Jesse, the father of David, and who at the same time describes, as if from Calvary or the Vatican, the glory of the sufferings and triumphs of Jesus Christ. "Arise, arise, put on thy strength, O Sion; put on the garments of thy glory, O Jerusalem, the city of the holy One: for henceforth the uncircumcised and unclean shall no more pass through thee." " How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace: of him that showeth forth good, that preacheth salvation, that saith to Sion: Thy God shall reign!'" "The Lord hath prepared his holy arm in the sight of all the Gentiles, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." "Behold my servant shall understand, he shall be exalted and extolled, and he shall be exceeding high. As many have been astonished at thee so shall his visage be inglorious among men, and his form among the sons of men. He shall sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouth at him: for they to whom it was not told of him have seen, and they that heard not have beheld." 

And, immediately afterwards, Isaiah begins the description of the sufferings and ignominies of Calvary, which he completes in twelve consecutive verses. Then he continues resuming his hymns of triumph: "He that hath made thee shall rule over thee, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, shall be called the God of all the earth."

Speaking of strange altars, part 2

We recently wrote about some very strange altars (see here). Then, a former student of Calvert Hall College High School in Maryland, sent us the photo below of the school's "Thanksgiving Liturgy." We weren't sure at the time if this was the unbloody Sacrifice on Calvary or aisle 8 at Whole Foods. 

Then, after a barrage of criticism on the school's Facebook page, which in the thread had the priest in the photo defending this Mass with Vatican II arguments, the school took the photo and the thread down. 

But wait! There's more ...

Today, in a live stream of the school's "liturgy," it's clearly Advent! The report below is from a former student of the school:

Advent Embertide 2013

Michael Foley wrote a wonderful piece on the Ember Days for Rorate Caeli  a few years ago.  His words resonate in my mind and heart as we celebrate the Advent Ember Days, with the readings full of longing for the coming of the Savior, these truly ancient seasonal affirmations that combine the natural and the spiritual, that find their roots in that symbiotic relationship between nature and liturgy that once was known and felt by every Catholic.  Each Ember season has its own color. 

The Lenten Ember Days are the shade of hole-filled unpolished travertine that is streaked with that purplely blue that is redolent of the crocus that pops up out of the ground and heralds Spring and that points to the brilliant heavenly blue of Easter.  The post-Easter Ember Days are that Spirited red that contains a hint of the eternity blue of the Ascension,  that color that looks forward to the heaven-puncturing event of the Ascension and yet encompasses and looks back to the blood of the Lamb who now ascends with glory into glory, and to the future in the Spirit. The September Ember Days are that reddish gold green that points to brown, the changing of the leaves, the harvest that marks the end of the growing season, that chorus of thanksgiving for the marvel of man as planter and tiller and keeper and cook and enjoyer of the fruits of the earth.

Last week I was looking at the old stone wall in my back yard covered with snow.  That stone, grey, flecked with the diamonds of mica, so stolid, so just there, and yet with the new snow as a garland, spoke to me of the stony faith of Israel, solid and yet fractured, full of that sparkling longing for more than grey and solid, and festooned with the brilliant white of snow, the snow of Isaiah’s “though your sins be as scarlet”, the snow of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the snow of the lights in the darkness of St. Nicholas and St. Lucy, the sharp and piercing break-through white of the affirmation of faith of St. Thomas, all leading to that whiteness of the Light that was born at Christmas.

The Ember Days—part of the ancient liturgical rhythm of the Church—were abolished in the post-Vatican II reforms.   

This contributed to the denaturalization of the liturgy, the sundering of the bond between the natural and the supernatural.  How could the Ember Days survive in that determined and mistaken drive to individualize and contemporize the liturgy? The Ember Days are an affront to an individualistic and denatured understanding of the liturgy and the Catholic faith.

A Methodist minister was de-frocked (sic) the other day for officiating at the marriage of his son to a man.  What he did was against the current canons of the Methodist church that presumably, with respect to marriage, are based on Scripture and Tradition.  One can easily imagine the media’s interest in this situation, and it does not take too much imagination to picture the media’s reaction.

This is all part of the “inevitable” dissolution of sexuality to gender and to the then logical affirmation of gay marriage.  The minister defended his act in the name of love for his son.  He wanted him to be happy, and he asked how, as a father, could he possibly stand in the way of his son’s happiness.  This is an obvious and familiar of the playing out of an individualistic understanding of happiness that is amoral.  But that this minister did not consider what Christian love means as seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son, shows how far Christians have come on the road towards a Christianity that is really sentimental religiosity.  There is no greater love of a father for his son than in the parable of the Prodigal Son.   But the mercy that the father shows his son comes from the joy that the son has returned home, that he has realized his sinfulness, that he repents of what he has done:  Father, I have sinned against you.   But the father embraces the son even before those words are spoken.  That is what the love of God means: not that there is no justice or punishment, but that in the face of contrition, mercy veils and embraces justice.  Justice is not negated but is embraced in the arms of the Father.

Ember Wednesday in Advent begins with the Introit, “Rorate Caeli." The verb, “rorate” is practically impossible to translate, echoed in the medieval carol “as dew in April falleth on the grass," the coming of the Son of God into this world with the gentleness and hiddenness of dew. 

The gospel for the Mass is the Annunciation, that announcing to the world that Grace is real. Ember Friday in Advent continues to speak of the longing of the Jews for redemption. The Visitation gospel continues the story of Mary that is the story of salvation history that will culminate on Ember Saturday with the figure of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord.  All this as the days grow shorter, and there is more darkness. But then—by Christmas Day-- the days grow longer, ah, yes, by seconds and then minutes, but nevertheless the Light that shines in the darkness grows longer and once again comes that Spring that is not merely temporal and seasonal—although it is this—but rather points to and partakes and makes real in the liturgy that renovation, that renewal, that reconstruction, that pours forth from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May we use these Ember Days to prepare ourselves for Christmas by fasting, abstinence and prayer.  And may we become part of that sacred rhythm that is the song of God so that we may greet with great joy on Christmas Day Him who is Love Incarnate.

IMPORTANT: Deep dive into Vatican crackdown of Franciscans of the Immaculate
EXCLUSIVE: Informed source picks apart erroneous Catholic World Report propaganda piece

Rorate has, from the beginning, done everything we can to shed light on the unjust and problematic Vatican intervention in the Franciscans of the Immaculate (FI). This week, Catholic World Report ran a completely and thoroughly erroneous story on the FI that they could have easily avoided with nothing more than Google searches. But readers of this blog already know the problems with that venue as we have discussed in the past (see here and here)

We now bring you not only a rebuttal of the story but one of the most thorough accounts of this sad and unnecessary situation by a very well-informed source (we cannot underline this enough). While we urge anyone who wishes to reprint this to do so, we must request you cite Rorate Caeli as the source, and either reprint it in full or link to the full story.

From our very well-informed source:

Michael J. Miller, writing for Catholic World Report, wishes English-speaking readers to hear the “other side” of the Franciscans of the Immaculate controversy, namely, the Commissioner’s side. Unfortunately, he has done so by uncritically repeating arguments, some of which were answered months ago, and others more recently.
Perhaps the first point he makes that is worthy of comment is the matter of the survey or questionnaire that was apparently the principal means by which the Apostolic Visit was conducted. It is surprising that anyone would trot this out again three months after it was debunked, but there it is.
For those who missed this the first time, we summarize: the percentage of friars who chose each of the four possible responses was not presented in a straightforward way like A, B, C, D. Instead, the public was given A, B/(100%-A), (C+D)/(100%-A). The fairly obvious intent was to boost the apparent percentages of those who thought that there was some problem, and especially to associate as high a percentage as possible with option D (a Commissioner is needed). Despite requests by the public to have separate figures for C and D, and to know how many friars responded (since it was certainly not all the friars), no further information was forthcoming. Since it was not, we are unable to determine the total who responded A, B, or C, that is, those who thought that if there were problems, they could be resolved by the Institute itself in a General Chapter.
Releasing manipulated data was a PR disaster, as Fr. Alfonso M. Bruno implicitly recognized by distancing himself in a letter to La nuova Bussola Quotidiana published 28 September. He wrote: “It is of no importance, for the purpose of this evaluation [as to whether or not a Commissioner was necessary] what the proportion among the various responses was.” So why were the percentages published in the first place? 

We might ask: if one were today to send a questionnaire to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate regarding the style of government of Fr. Volpi and his decisions in liturgical matters, how many do you suppose would say that there are serious problems, and that an extraordinary intervention of higher authorities is necessary? The fact that over 200 would sign a petition -- which did leak out to the public -- for the foundation of a new Institute is suggestive.
If there is a “campaign of disinformation” being conducted by members of the Institute, or if there are “calumnies” against Fr. Bruno, it behooves the Commissioner and his General Secretary to indicate precisely what false information is being spread or what false accusations are being made. As has been made clear repeatedly on Libertà e persona, which Mr. Miller cites, the accusations against Fr. Bruno are quite clear, and the evidence is solid. First, Fr. Bruno distributed manipulated data regarding the visitation. Second, in front of a large number of members of the lay movement of the Franciscans of the Immaculate (MIM), he seriously defamed Fr. Stefano M. Manelli.
As for the matter of Fr. Manelli’s confinement to the diocese of Cassino, Luisa Scrosati has made herself clear. Her assumption that canon 1337 was relevant was based on the fact that Fr. Manelli was subjected to restrictions not applied to other religious. She charitably assumed that this would only be done after it had been proven that Fr. Manelli had done something wrong. The Commissioner tells us that this is, instead, part of his ordinary way of administering the Institute, and has to do with the fact that religious are required by canon law to ordinarily reside in the house to which they are assigned.
This makes his action look rather arbitrary, since this canon applies to all of the religious. Eventually, he produced another explanation: the restrictions on Fr. Manelli’s movements are necessary in order to make it clear that he is not the General Superior (one might paraphrase: to show who’s in charge). But since all the other friars can leave the diocese in which they reside without having to ask Fr. Volpi’s permission, and without anyone thinking that they are the General Superior, this new explanation is not much more convincing than the first one.
Mr. Miller has somehow gotten the impression that Fr. Manelli’s poor health was just an excuse for not answering Fr. Volpi’s questions. We call to his attention a letter of Fr. Volpi that shows that the Commissioner was promptly and duly informed of the actual problems by Fr. Manelli’s physician and expressed his understanding of the latter’s condition. So Fr. Volpi did not think it was just an excuse.
As regards the non-profit associations that own goods used by the Institute, if there is wrong-doing here, Fr. Volpi must prove it in court, not with a “traditional Advent letter” or in the media. Dr. Circelli, the president of one of these associations, has provided an explanation of the situation.
The Franciscans of the Immaculate (friars and sisters in two separate Institutes) practice not only personal poverty, but also the poverty in common that has historically distinguished Franciscans, but is no longer the rule for the three major branches of the Franciscan Order. This means that not only do the friars not own property, but neither does the Institute. Following the suggestion that the Holy See made when the Institute was founded, the temporal goods it uses are owned by non-profit associations. 
Initially, these associations were managed by laymen; later, friars and sisters managed them, and not long before the Commissioner was assigned, it was decided to return to the original system of having the laity manage the associations. This is more in keeping with what the Franciscan rule says about having “spiritual friends” concern themselves with the temporal needs of the friars. Likewise in keeping with this principle is the idea that the General Superior of the Institute does not directly dispose of the goods.
There is nothing remarkable in that fact that one officer of one of the organizations is related by marriage to Fr. Manelli. That laymen make the decisions does not mean that they are free to line their own pockets. The statues of the associations ensure that the goods are used in keeping with the intentions of the donors. The friars continue to use the property held in trust for them by the associations, with one exception. By decision of Fr. Volpi, they are no longer permitted to collaborate with the magazines of their Italian publishing house or distribute its books. So, in the end, if anyone has deprived the friars of temporal goods they need for their life and apostolate, it is the Commissioner.

As to Fr. Manelli’s failure to respond to the question of “whether he realized the consequences of his action—his failure to protect the ecclesial character of the material goods of a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right”: we know from the Commissioner’s statements that he sent Fr. Manelli a letter containing questions, that he received a reply, and that he was not satisfied with that reply, because it did not respond to some direct questions, presumably including that under discussion. Now, why might the reply not contain an answer to this question? Perhaps because the question presumes guilt. If he says, either “yes, I realize that this was a consequence” or “no, I did not realize that this was a consequence,” he accepts the Commissioner’s premise that he has, indeed, failed to protect the ecclesial character of said goods.
Now we come to the four summary points. As to the first, anyone who has followed this story from the beginning knows perfectly well why there was no legal recourse against the decree assigning a Commissioner: because the decision that a Commissioner was needed, having been directly approved by the Pope, did not admit of appeal. Perhaps Mr. Miller was ignorant of this, but it is not credible that the Commissioner would be. Why, therefore, would he try to convince the public that the fact that there was no recourse against the decree meant that there was nothing illegitimate about it?
The second point regards the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, and it is interesting because it demonstrates that Mr. Miller did not actually base his article solely on the documentation posted at, but also has some other source, evidently close to the Commissioner. The accusation is also curious because it is rather gratuitous: since the sisters are a separate Institute, the accusation, if true, would not in any way justify what has been done to the friars. As for the truth of the accusation, we will have to await someone who knows more about what happened, since the matter has not publicly been discussed. However, given the inaccuracy of other accusations, this one should be suspect.
The third point claims that “Manelli imposed Mass in Latin as the only form of celebration permitted in the seminary and novitiates”. This is doubly false, for it was never the only form of celebration, and its use was not imposed. Where it was celebrated regularly, and this does not appear to include all the novitiates, it was adopted by a decision of the local community. Fr. Manelli simply exhorted to use it, and with his council, approved the norms governing its use, in execution of the mandate of the General Chapter. These norms were found by Ecclesia Dei to be in keeping with the mind of the Holy Father. This was explained back in early August with an official note.
The fourth point has already been dealt with above.
Now, all of these oversights may not be Mr. Miller's fault. It may be that he simply put too much trust in whoever fed him his information (perhaps the same person who has lost the trust of more than one Italian journalist), and having not followed the story in Italian, was unaware of what has been explained above. 
We trust that in the future he will be more careful.

Event: Catholic Teaching Concerning the Employment Relationship

The good James Vogel, editor of Angelus Press, sends this notice:

St. Joseph's Businessmen's Assocation 

Featured Speakers Series Lecture

"It’s Just Employment: Catholic Teaching Concerning the Employment Relationship"

6:00p.m. CST  McCabe Theatre, St. Mary's Academy and College

And online by clicking here
Brian McCall, J.D.
This conference will consider the reciprocal obligations in justice of employers and employees both from a theoretical standpoint and involving practical every day decisions and situations. In particular the conference will emphasize the socio-political nature of a business organization and the implications for differing obligations to employers and employees in contrast to contractual dealings outside of the business organization. Also, you will be able to ask questions in live-time, so this will be interactive. 
Suggested Background Reading: Encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno as well as Father Pesch's Ethics and the National Economy

Mr. Brian McCall is a Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma, where he teaches cources in Contracts, Secured Transactions and Payment Systems. 

Click here to join the conference at 6:00p.m. CST on Thursday.