Rorate Caeli

Plenary Indulgence reminders:
Te Deum on Dec. 31
Veni Creator on Jan. 1

§ 1. A plenary indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, in a church or in an oratory, are present in a recitation or solemn chant of: ...

Malarkey from Mullaney: The Conversion of Jesus by a Woman

Malarkey from Mullaney:  The Conversion of Jesus by a Woman

Just when one thinks that one has read or heard all of the mindless and harmful stuff that Catholic clergy have written or spoken, that assumption is shattered, this time by a truly offensive homily given by Father Michael Mullaney, the President of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland, a section of which homily was published on Rorate Caeli a short while ago.  

THOMAS BECKET - "This is the sign of the Church always: The Sign of Blood."

KNIGHTS. Where is Becket, the traitor to the King?
Where is Becket, the meddling priest?
Come down Daniel to the lions' den,
Come down Daniel for the mark of the beast.

Fontgombault Sermons for Christmas
- II: Christmas Day - "The Catholic Faith is thrown into doubt in our days - It is not enough for a Christian to be merciful."

Christmas Day Mass

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
Fontgombault, December 25, 2019

Et Verbum caro factum est.
And the Word was made flesh.
(Jn 1:14)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

At this time, the shepherds have now left to go back to their fold. Mary and Joseph find themselves alone in the stable. Mary ponders in her heart the events that just took place, and which already are a mystery.

Fontgombault Sermons for Christmas
- I: Midnight Mass - "Our Dehumanized World has no room for children."

Christmas - Midnight Mass

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
Fontgombault, December 25, 2019

Natus est vobis hodie Salvator.
This day is born to you a Savior.
(Lk 2:11)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

The Church celebrates Christmas by unfolding the treasures of her liturgy. During the three Masses today, she commemorates the historical birth of the Child Jesus, more than two thousand years ago in a poor stable in the surroundings of Bethlehem; what is more, she initiates us to the great mystery, both visible and invisible, which is taking place, and of which we are the recipients.

There are three milestones on this path. The midnight Mass readings recall the birth of the divine Child. The Mass at dawn invites us to follow the shepherds’ path of faith. They see and they believe. The foretold light has shone for these men. It should also shine for us, provided that we have simple hearts. Last, an unexpected milestone: the day Mass readings focus on the eternal generation of the Word of God in the bosom of the Father. As they contemplate the Trinity, they remind us that the Child in the crib is truly God.

The Original Festival of Nine Lessons - Merry Christmas!

A Very Merry Christmas and a Blessed Christmastide to you and Yours!

Not everyone has the opportunity or the inclination to pray the entire Matins of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. So we in Rorate gathered that our readers could take a shorter time to read through the traditional Nine Lessons of Christmas, as given to us in the Roman Breviary and the Roman Missal.

A Festival of Nine Lessons

Lesson I
Isaiah 9:1-6

At the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.


Lesson II
Isaiah 40:1-8

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people," saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." The voice said, "Cry." And he said, "What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."


Lesson III
Isaiah 52:1-6

Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, "Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money." For thus saith the Lord God, "My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what have I here," saith the Lord, "that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl," saith the Lord; "and my name continually every day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I."

Lesson IV
From the First Sermon of Pope Saint Leo the Great for Christmas

Nothing Says Christmas Like a Priest Saying "Jesus Was a Racist"

It didn't happen just anywhere, no, it happened in that which used to be the central learning institution for thousands of Irish priests sent around the world to teach the Catholic and Apostolic Faith, Maynooth. The preacher was the President of Saint Patrick's College Maynooth himself, Father Michael Mullaney.

And in a Christmas Carol service no less, and posted on the website of the Bishops' Conference of Ireland:

RORATE SUNDAY: Fourteenth Anniversary of Rorate Caeli

This blog was launched fourteen years ago today. We thank Almighty God for the countless graces He has showered upon this apostolate, for the many souls that have been nourished by Catholic truth, encouraged by signs of hope, challenged by the demands of tradition, driven to prayer and fasting by the need to exorcise the demons of our time -- and, above all, moved to greater love and fidelity to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

How often have we felt like crying out, with the Prophet Isaiah, with the people of Israel, with all God-fearing souls throughout the centuries: "O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence -- as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil -- to make thy name known to thy adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at thy presence!" (Isa 64:1-2). Now, more than ever, O Lord, rend the heavens and come down to save Thy People, in captivity, in exile, wandering in the desert of modernity!

This, indeed, is what the magnificent, evocative, and pleading melody of the Introit at today's Mass conveys to us: "O heavens, let the Just One rain down like the dew, let Him descend from the clouds like rain: let the earth be opened and give birth to the Savior."

Dom Dominic Johner, O.S.B., offers us this wonderful meditation on the Introit in his classic work The Chants of the Vatican Gradual:

Great Moments in Papal Oratory - I: Processes

We need to initiate processes and not just occupy spaces: “God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes. We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting”. In this sense, we are urged to read the signs of the times with the eyes of faith, so that the direction of this change should “raise new and old questions which it is right that we should face”.


Dominus Meus et Deus Meus! - Saint Thomas the Apostle's Day is TODAY

At that time, Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days, His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being closed, and stood in their midst, and said, Peace be to you! Then He said to Thomas, Bring here your finger, and see My hands; and bring here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing. Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God! Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed. [Gospel for the Feast of Saint Thomas]

The Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle has traditionally been celebrated on December 21st in the Latin Church: it is a great feast of a great apostle, and it is held on this day because it is considered the date of his martyrdom. It has been celebrated for so long on this day in the Western Church, that Saint Thomas of Canterbury himself -- whose martyrdom we will celebrate shortly, during the Octave of Christmas, and who made the name Thomas, previously not very used in English, great in England and in English-speaking nations -- was named after the Apostle, having been born on this feast day: December 21st, 1119 (or 1120). Unfortunately, this is one of the feasts (of an Apostle no less) that the committees that created the new mass of Paul VI out of nowhere decided to move elsewhere in their customarily careless and slapdash way due to their own pet historical or pseudo-historical prejudices.

The Syro-Malabar Church -- one of the "sui iuris" churches of the Catholic Church, and the main Eastern-rite Catholic Church in India, the land where the great Thomas died and is most highly venerated -- still celebrates this most eminent Apostle with all Traditional Catholics of the Latin Rite on this day. It is a strong reminder of the unforgettable profession of Faith in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the days nearest to His blessed Nativity. As Dom Guéranger said:

De Mattei: The ‘Mestizo’ Theology of Pope Francis

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
December 18, 2019

One of the oft repeated words in Pope Francis' vocabulary is “mestizo”. Francis gives a political, cultural and even a theological interpretation to this term,  not only an ethnic meaning,  He did this on December 12, when affirming  Our Lady “wanted to be  “”mestizo’. She became mestizo for us, not only for Juan Diego. She became  mestizo to show that she is everyone’s mother. She became mestizo with all of humanity. Why?  Because God became “mestizo”. And this is the great mystery: Mary, Mother “mestizo” God, true God and true Man, in His Son” (’Osservatore Romano, 13 December 2019.

Whether Pope Francis is aware of it or not, the origin of  this “mestizo” vision  regarding the Mystery of the Incarnation is in the heresy of Eutyches (378-454,  Archimandrite, of a monastery in Constantinople,); according to Eutyches,  after the hypostatic union, the humanity and Divinity of Christ, was fused to form a tertium quid, a hybrid coalescence that would actually be neither God nor man. ‘Eutycheanism’ is a rough form of Monophysitism because it admits in the Son of God Incarnate, one single nature, resulting from this confused union of divinity with humanity.

Following Eusebius of Dorylaeum’s denunciation (he had also accused Nestorius twenty years before that), Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople, in 448 A.D. summoned a synod in which Eutchyes was condemned as a heretic and excommunicated. Eutchyes, however, with the support of Dioscoros, the Patriarch of Alessandria, succeeded in having another synod called in Ephesus, at which he was rehabilitated, while Flavian, Eusebius and other bishops were attacked and subsequently deposed.  The Pope at that time was Leo The Great, who rejected the Synod of Ephesus, calling it Latrocinium Ephesinum; in fact, it was called the  Robber Council of Ephesus and went down in history with that name.

On Pontifical Biblical Commission document and homosexuality, better not to rush to judgment

The Pontifical Biblical Commission, first created by Pope Leo XIII and strengthened by Saint Pius X, but transformed for the worse, like everything, after Vatican II, released this week a document dated from September 30, 2019, with the following title: "What is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology" (Che cosa è l’uomo? Un itinerario di antropologia biblica).

Unfortunately, the document is currently available only in Italian and only in very limited circulation in printed form, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Some excerpts have popped up, claiming that the document states, among other things, that, "the erotic homosexual relationship should not be condemned," or favoring same-sex unions. Since the context of each quote is not available, we would caution any rush to judgment, even though so many bad things are to be expected from the Vatican in the current pontificate.

We wish to give two examples of the dangers of short excerpts without further data from the surrounding context. For instance, what if we say that "The Vatican" said that, "homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing"? Or that "The Vatican" said that, "homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love"?

The context for the first quote is the following:

There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups' concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing. Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved. [emphasis added]

And the context for the second quote is the following:

The Church can never be so callous. It is true that her clear position cannot be revised by pressure from civil legislation or the trend of the moment. But she is really concerned about the many who are not represented by the pro-homosexual movement and about those who may have been tempted to believe its deceitful propaganda. She is also aware that the view that homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love has a direct impact on society's understanding of the nature and rights of the family and puts them in jeopardy. [emphasis added]

Both quotations come from the important 1986 Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Therefore, context is key. One may expect the worst and still be cautious regarding excerpts that do not provide a full view of the arguments presented in the overall context of a theological text. If the text turns out to be terrible, then it must be condemned. But a rush to judgment must be avoided.

As soon as the full document becomes widely available, we will return to this matter.

Event: Advent day of recollection for young adults with ICR in Missouri

Christmas Octave of Sung and Solemn Masses in St. Louis, Missouri

In what may well be a first at the diocesan level, the Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine in St. Louis, Missouri, will be offering Solemn High Mass or Missa Cantata every day of the Christmas octave, as indicated in the poster below.

These special Masses will be added to the normal schedule of low Masses.

The sacred music will be sung by both the Oratory choir and the Schola of St. Hugh. It will include ordinaries by Victoria and Byrd and little heard chant ordinaries III and V. Other selections include Palestrina, Marenzio, Bach, Daquin, and Handel.

The Oratory has been functioning at St. Luke Parish in Richmond Heights since July 1, 2018.

FLASH: Queen's Chaplain converts to Catholicism!

Even though papers of record like the New York Times have not deemed as newsworthy the story of one of the former Queen’s Chaplains who has very recently converted to Catholicism, for those of us Catholics who have real concern over the present state of the Catholic Church, this story is indeed of great interest, or should be.

Gavin Ashenden will receive Confirmation on December 22, the Fourth Sunday in Advent, during a Mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral from Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury.  The Diocese of Shrewsbury said that Ashenden’s Anglican orders will be suspended upon his reception into the Church, and he will become a lay Catholic theologian.

Communion handling: the gravest problem (First of Two Posts)

Inspired by recent debates on the matter, we repost this 2011 item.


Translation problems? Mass celebrated towards the people? Altar girls? Postures?

No, the greatest and gravest problem of the liturgy of the Latin Church - that is, of the "Ordinary form", or Mass of Paul VI - is one that transcends all this, even it is related to all of them: it is the way the Body of Christ is treated.

You Suggest: Help a jewel of a church in West Virginia renovate its organ

The following email was sent to us by a reader. You may remember back in the summer Rorate visited this church and posted about it. Catholic churches in West Virginia are typically anything but beautiful. To say this church is a jewel is an understatement. This Advent, consider opening your hearts, and your wallets, to help restore this organ and keep the church thriving in the future. It is the only diocesan parish in the entire state with a weekly Sunday Traditional Latin Mass!

From a reader:

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Weston, West Virginia, is working to renovate and expand its pipe organ.  Weston is a small town in central West Virginia, with an historically strong Catholic population.  St. Patrick’s is currently the only diocesan parish with a weekly Sunday TLM.  The pastor, Fr. James DeViese (whose responsibilities include three parishes, a school, and work in the Diocesan chancery), seeks to encourage a greater “mutual enrichment” between the two forms of the Roman Rite, while managing the limited resources of a small parish. 

You Report: Card. Burke and the rise of tradition in Slovakia

Note: The following report is from a reader, however we can report ourselves that we hear tradition, and the Mass, are rising in Slovakia. Be sure to look at all of the amazing photos in the link and a video of the full Mass below. 

CLICK HERE for more wonderful photos.

From a reader:

Card. Burke visited Trnava, a city in Western Slovakia, between November 15 and 18, 2019 during the famous Trnava novena in honor of a miraculous image of Our Lady venerated in the Basilica of St. Nicholas. The picture wept blood in 1663 when Trnava was threatened by the Turks, and again in
1710 when Our Lady saved the city from the plague.

New edition of the FIUV magazine

Readers of Rorate Caeli may not even know that there is such a thing as Una Voce International, the FIUV (Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce), let alone that it has a magazine.

But a new edition is available as a pdf download, and is worth a look, with news and photographs from literally all over the world. It can be downloaded here.

Anyone can join the mailing list for receipt of Gregorius Magnus: sign up here  to receive mailings like this one.

With best wishes for Advent and Christmas!

Appeal! Please Help a Group of Traditional Monks in France acquire their permanent Home

Readers may know of the Monastère Saint-Benoît, a small Benedictine monastery in Provence in the South East of France in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon founded in 2011, of traditional, classic monastic observance which celebrates the older forms of the Roman and monastic rites – including, with permission, the pre-1955 Holy Week rites. Later this month Bishop Rey will confer the minor orders of Exorcist and Acolyte on one on the junior monks in formation.

The monastery is an international English-speaking community and with a good number of vocation enquiries from young men around the world and is the home of the Sacra Liturgia initiatives. In recent years its annual liturgical summer school has welcomed Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schnieder, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, etc. As its latest newsletter details, Cardinal Sarah visited the monastery for a weekend last September and celebrated a beautiful pontifical Mass according to the traditional rites.

Pontifical High Mass with Cardinal Burke and Christkindlmarkt in La Crosse, December 14-15

We are very pleased to announce two very special things happening on this upcoming weekend at the magnificent Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin:

Back in Print: Cardinal Billot’s Liberalism: A Critique of Its Basic Principles and Its Various Forms in a Newly Revised Translation

Exciting news from our friends at Arouca Press!

This new edition of Billot's classic work on liberalism features an introduction and a newly revised translation by Thomas Storck. It also includes a foreword by Fr. Thomas Crean, OP.

Fontgombault Sermon for the Immaculate Conception: "Rorate cæli desuper" in our Troubled Times!


Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Antoine Forgeot
Abbot Emeritus of Our Lady of Fontgombault
(Fontgombault, December 8, 2019)

Deus caritas est.
God is love.
(1 Jn 4:8)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dearly beloved Sons of the absent Abbot,

From the outset, wrote the pious and learned Cardinal Journet, God has loved the human race “with a mad love, to the point that He wanted to give Himself to us in the heavenly vision” (1). We know how this plan was thwarted, yet not fully destroyed, by the sin of our first parents, a sin the scars of which we are still bearing. The redeeming Incarnation of the Word of God, the second Person in the Holy Trinity, is the greatest manifestation of the love of God for us men:

For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son: […] that the world may be saved by Him. (Jn 3:16-17)

The whole history of the chosen people is marked by an expectation for the salvation that God had, in His mercy, foretold. He had even, in a mysterious way, involved in this salvation “the woman”, who was none other than She whose Immaculate Conception we are celebrating today, Mary, the All-Holy Mother of God.

Marco Tosatti: Does Pope Francis think that his Pontificate is about to come to an end?

December 8, 2019

The appointment of Tagle as Prefect for Propaganda Fide is an important signal for many reasons. But most of all because it gives grounds to suppose that Pope Bergoglio believes the end of his pontificate is nigh. An intuition, obviously; nonetheless, justifiable, if you consider another decision  taken - for no apparent reason - some weeks ago. 

We are referring here to  the end of Fabiàn Pedacchio’s service as special Secretary to the Pontiff over the last six years; a position commenced shortly after the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio on March 13, 2013. Fabián Pedacchio, all this time, has maintained his position in the Congregation for Bishops,  acting in support of his very close friend, Ilson de Jesùs Montanari, appointed by Pope Francis as Secretary of that same Congregation, resulting in an absolutely extraordinary leap in career; he divested de facto the Prefect, Marc Ouellet, by being, repeatedly, the leading voice in the choosing of bishops. 

The Immaculate Conception

“Some people are so foolish they think they can go through life without the help  of the Blessed Virgin. ” St. Padre Pio

Immaculate Conception, Sunday

The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is this Sunday, 8 December 2019.  Of course, the feast is observed on the actual feast day using the 1962 missal, unlike the novus ordo (which transfers the day to Monday with no obligation to attend, even in the U.S. -- patronal feast day be darned).

When this feast last occurred on a Sunday -- in 2013 -- we wrote about it here.  The two important points to make are: 1) there is zero wiggle room to transfer the feast from Sunday to Monday using the 1962 missal; and 2) a commemoration must be made for the Second Sunday of Advent, even at High Masses.

On the first point, both the Immaculate Conception and the 2nd Sunday of Advent are first class feasts on the 1962 calendar.  As NLM has noted, this was not always the case.  The 2nd Sunday of Advent was second class until 1955 reforms promoted it to first class.  The rubrics of 1960, which govern the 1962 missal, explicitly broke the first class tie between the Immaculate Conception and the Second Sunday of Advent:  

Dominica I classis, in occurrentia, festis quibuslibet præfertur. Festum tamen Immaculatæ Conceptionis B. Mariæ Virg. præfertur occurrenti dominicæ Adventus.

Sunday I class takes precedence over all feasts in occurrence.  The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, however, takes precedence over the Sunday of Advent on which it falls.

New SoundCloud Page for Audio of Dr Kwasniewski’s Lectures and Interviews

For a number of years, readers have been asking me to make available video and audio files of my lectures and interviews. This is indeed something I have wanted to do, but there are two limitations: one is my technological ineptitude, and the other is the need for planning in advance to have recordings made at events, which doesn’t always happen. 

Nevertheless, over the past couple of years a good many such recordings have in fact been made, and I finally created a dedicated SoundCloud page on to which most of them have now been uploaded (and more will be added). Below I have listed the content currently available. I encourage you to explore and to recommend the site to others who appreciate audio content. All files are freely downloadable.

Papa Stronsay Calendar for 2020 Now Available! - Support the Great Project of Papa Stronsay

The Papa Stronsay Calendar for 2020, produced by the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, can now be purchased from their website.HERE.

From their website:

As always, our Calendar is jam-packed full of all kinds of Liturgical, religious and secular information, that will leave you wondering how you ever managed without it! There is really no other Extraordinary Form liturgical wall-calendar like it.
It features a photo from the life of the Congregation for each month.

On Sheen Beatification, it's Good to Err on the Side of Caution

In 2018, following the tragic report of abuses by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania (our post on that report: "The Pennsylvania Truth: John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II were no saints"), the Office of the Attorney-General of the State of New York launched its own thorough investigation of what may have taken place in the state's dioceses. The Diocese of Rochester was subpoenaed in September 2018. Fulton Sheen was the local ordinary in the most critical period of the crisis in America, the second half of the 1960s. His beatification, planned for Peoria on December 21, was postponed sine die a couple of days ago.

Breaking News: Optional commemoration of seven new Saints addded to "Extraordinary Form" Calendar?

Our  usually well-informed friends at Messa in Latino have just posted the information that their highly placed sources in the Vatican have informed them that, "in early January," a document of the Congregation for Divine Worship will be published making known a list of seven saints whose optional commemoration would be added to the Universal Calendar of the 1962 Roman Missal (the "Extraordinary Form" of the Roman Rite).

De Mattei: Who was the worst Pope in the history of the Church?

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
December 4, 2019
Who was the worst Pope in the history of the Church? Many maintain that it was Alexander VI, a Pope excessively criticized. According to St. Robert Bellarmine it was John XII (937-964), whom he defines “omnium pontificum fere deterrimus”, “practically the worst of all pontiffs” (De Romano Pontifice, l. II, cap. XIX, in De controversiis christianae fidei, Apud Societatem Minimam, Venetii 1599, p. 689).

Alberic II of the Counts of Tusculum (the Roman princeps from 932 to 954) some days before dying, asked to be taken to St. Peter’s and on the Apostle’s tomb, in the presence of Pope Agapetus, had the Roman nobles swear, that at the death of the Pope in office, they would elect to the Papal Throne, his son, to whom he had given the auspicious name of Octavian. When the Pope died, in December 955, Octavian was elected under the name of John XII, even if he hadn’t reached the canonical age to become pope, being only eighteen years old. According to an unanimous description of the sources, the young Pope was a dissolute pontiff, who didn’t interrupt his life of reckless abandon in unbridled pleasures, even with his election to the Papal Throne.

Video of Ordinations at Clear Creek Abbey (a Fontgombault foundation)

Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey, in Oklahoma, is the only Fontgombault foundation outside of France. Fontgombault, as our readers know well, is a monastery at the heart of Rorate's love for the Church.

On Sunday, November 17, 2019, Bishop David Konderla, of the Diocese of Tulsa, ordained two monks of the Abbey, one into the diaconate and one into the priesthood, in a Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The happy occasion was recorded in this video:

Reply to Rusty Reno Part 2: the TLM and Community

Conclusion of the Latin Mass Society's walking pilgrimage to Walsingham,
at the site of the Holy House in the ruins of Walsingham Priory.
As I have noted in the pair to this article, Rusty Reno, Editor of First Things, has declared, in a long editorial, his measured appreciation of the Traditional Latin Mass. In my other article on this I challenged his assertion, against the TLM, that it fails to convey the content of the Gospel to the Faithful. In this article I want to address another claim on his part. He writes:

Its more horizontal orientation encourages a sense of Christian community, as the liturgical reformers intended. The reduced emphasis on ritual precision shifts attention to the central gospel truths announced in the readings and reiterated in a liturgy readily heard in the language of the people. All these elements enrich the ­Catholic Church.

On the other hand, Reno also says this:

Reply to Rusty Reno: Part 1: the TLM and Catechesis

Latin Mass Society pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bedford, England
(Edit: part 2 of this two-part series is here.)

The Editor of the online journal First Things, has taken to attending the Traditional Latin Mass. In the final part of a long editorial, he explains what he sees as the pros and cons of the two forms of Mass. The article is interesting and perceptive, but I would like to take up a couple of his observations, with which I disagree—while agreeing with much else. These are the things he says about the capacity of each form to convey the message of the gospel, which I will deal with in this article, and their potential to act as centers of community, which deserves separate treatment.

On the first issue Reno says, of the older form:

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent

From the Gospel:  “Men fainting for fear and for the expectations of the things that are coming on the world.  For the powers of heaven will be shaken.”  (Luke 21:26)

What do Catholic people think when they hear these words of our Lord on this first Sunday in Advent?  “Signs in the sun and moon and stars, distress of nations.”  Some might think about Black Friday, a day that looms large in our consciousness at this time of year, which may, if we think about it, may signal the end of our civilization and the ushering in the of the end times.  But perhaps there are those who are more pious and think about the frequent natural disasters like hurricanes and tornados and tsunamis that kill hundreds if not thousands of people.  But also violent human conflicts like the rioting in the streets of Hong Kong and Iraq.  Or the violent and seemingly unending mass murders in schools, in shopping malls, at concerts, and other public places where one assumes safety. All this gives pious folk some pause and wonder whether these words of Jesus may have some relevance to us at this time.  But just a small pause, for most of us were not brought up on the presence of the Dies Irae that was sung at every funeral for well over a thousand years. We have become unfamiliar with the very thought of the end of all things and the Second Coming.  And so we have become complacent and spiritually lazy, and if we have any slight queasiness about what is to come, it is only about our own death. But that queasiness is easily dispelled by a dose of the “everyone goes-to-heaven” pill dispensed by Father Feelgood.

Reminder: Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society

This is our monthly reminder to please enroll Souls of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society. Last month, we gained another wonderful priest for the ranks, and the Society now stands at 97 priests saying weekly or monthly traditional Latin Masses for the Souls. Come on Fathers, let's get this to 100!

** Click here to download a "fillable" PDF Mass Card in English to give to the loved ones of the Souls you enroll (you send these to the family and/or friends of the dead, not to us). It's free for anyone to use. CLICK HERE to download in Latin and CLICK HERE to download in Spanish

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 repose of the Souls enrolled in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society." And we will always keep you completely anonymous unless you request otherwise. 

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.