Rorate Caeli

St Rosalia, St Gregory, St Charles Borromeo: Where have you gone in this time of crisis?

With apologies to our international readers, I continue with my observations vis a vis the world crisis caused by the Corvid-19 pandemic with respect to the Catholic Church in the United States.   But I believe that what is happening in the United States both with respect to the rapid spread of the virus and the deep problems this is causing—and also what it exposes about the Catholic Church in this country-- should be of interest to every Catholic in the world.  I begin with today’s edition of the New York Times, the bête noir of the American Catholic world.  

There are two articles there of relevance to the singular situation in which Americans find themselves, and specifically in which Catholic Americans find themselves.  The first is in the Arts section of the Friday New York Times.  On the first page of this section there is a color photograph of the painting by Van Dyck of “Saint Rosalia interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo”.  This painting was to be included in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the near future, but now  is itself in quarantine because of the imposed quarantine imposed on the city of New York on all museums because of the Corona Virus.  The writer of the article comments on the irony of the quarantine of the painting in the present situation. But he explains the origin of the painting during a terrible plague in Sicily in the 17th century, when Van Dyck was in Sicily to paint a number of paintings of St. Rosalia, and how he hunkered down in Palermo during the plague, painted the paintings, and went on with his life.  It was during this terrible plague that, for circumstances that are still not clear, a group of men were inspired to dig up the bones of a 12th century woman hermit known for her holiness named Rosalia, related to Roger II of Sicily.  Those bones were carried through the streets of Palermo and the plague decreased in intensity.  And ever since then the Sicilians of Palermo have a great feast on July 15 in thanksgiving for the intercession of St. Rosalia that stopped the plague.  The writer of the article ends with this:

Rosalia will be there for us when “Making the Met” eventually opens, and in July, we have to hope she will remind us of a Palermo that is finished with lockdowns. “Viva Palermo and St. Rosalia!” they shout every year as the image of the Van Dyke parades through the capital amid a crush of bodies,,,,,(in which) I usually find claustrophobic but now find myself desperate to recover.”

And on the editorial page of the same edition of the NY Times is an op-ed by David Brooks, who is on a journey from Judaism to Christianity.  His piece is entitled “The Moral Meaning of the Plague”. One wishes he were a Catholic bishop in what he writes.  He asks three questions and then concludes with an observation about suffering.

Are you ready to die? If your lungs filled with fluid a week from Tuesday would you be content with the life you’ve lived?
What would you do if a loved one died? Do you know where your most trusted spiritual and relational resources lie/
What role do you play in this crisis? What is the specific way you are situated to serve?

And finally his best paragraph that should have been written by a Catholic bishop or priest but so far has not:

Suffering can be redemptive.  We learn more about ourselves in these hard periods.  The difference between red and blue don’t seem as acute on the gurneys of the E.R., but the inequality in the world seems more obscene when the difference between rich and poor is life or death.. 

Imagine if that had been written by a Catholic bishop! Little chance in the current situation.  CEOs do not write things like that.  Those that are not acquainted with grief in the deepest sense do not write things like that .  Those who value the intellect in growth in faith do not talk like that. This is not, however,  to deny that  there are very fine Catholic bishops in this country indeed.

NBC News announced today that some Roman Catholic bishops around the country are relieving the “faithful” of giving up meat on Fridays since they are already deprived of some food and other pleasures during the coronavirus pandemic.  The Most Rev. James Cecchio, the bishop of Metuchen in Piscataway, New Jersey announced yesterday:  “Given the difficulties of obtaining some types of food and the many other sacrifices we are suddenly experiencing given the coronavirus, I have granted a dispensation from abstaining from meat on Fridays, except Good Friday, which is universal law.”  I will not bother to quote the other bishops who have issued similar statements.

The question is this:  what world do these bishops live in? A world in which they have no idea how the normal family operates with respect to daily food.  What the normal Catholic does is to see what is available at the market for Friday and makes do.  If it is Corn Flakes, that is what the family eats on Friday, with the parents explaining to the children why this is dinner and now in Lent.  And how wonderful this is, because why we are eating something that we do not prefer is part of what the sacrifice of Lent means.  The bishops have not a clue.  Why this is so is a subject for another article.  The short answer is the secularization of the Catholic Church in this country—and in most parts of the world.  St. Rosalia in Palermo  and St. Gregory in plague ridden Rome in the sixth century and St. Charles Borromeo in plague stricken Milano in the sixteenth century would seem to have little relevance to twenty-first century United States.  But instead of streaming (!) Masses and streaming Holy Week services, what about one bishop walking through the streets of his diocese carrying a crucifix and blessing every home and business on his way?  

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla


New Prefaces and new Saints: Press Release from the FIUV

PDF version here.

Press Release:
CDF Decrees on new Prefaces and Saints for the Extraordinary Form
From the President and Officers of the FIUV
26th March 2020

Yesterday the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), now exercising the functions of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has issued two decrees, one on Prefaces to be added to the 1962 Missal (Quo Magis), and the other on the possibility of saints, canonised since 1962 to have Masses celebrated in their honour (Cum Sanctissima). (English summary here.)

The Federation was consulted on both issues, and we would like to thank the CDF for taking the views of our members into account in developing these decrees.

The Federation welcomes in particular the possibility of making a liturgical commemoration of saints canonised since 1962, without excessive disruption to the Sanctoral Calendar as it has come down to us. We wish, however, to issue some notes of caution.

Canonical Commentary on the New Pontifical Decrees On Saints' Days and New Prefaces in the Traditional Missal (by Fr. Albert Marcello)

Cum Sanctissima and Quo Magis: A Canonical Commentary

by the Rev. Fr. Albert P. Marcello, III, J.C.D. (Cand.)

On 22 February 2020, two decrees, each issued along with a nota praevia, were issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith touching upon the celebration of the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite. The first decree, entitled Cum Sanctissima, deals with the question of the liturgical celebration of saints canonized subsequent to the issuance of the original 1962 liturgical books. The second decree, entitled Quo Magis, makes provision for seven (7) ad libitum prefaces to be permitted for usage in the Extraordinary Form. It should be noted that since the motu proprio of Pope Francis issued 17 January 2019[1], the same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith enjoys competency for such matters which formerly were under the jurisdiction of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.

Both of these decrees should be seen to respond to the desires of Pope Benedict XVI as noted in Con grande fiducia, the nota explicativa accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum: “the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.”[2] Universae Ecclesiae, the 30 April 2011 instruction which itself offered considerable guidance on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, decreed: “New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and furthermore ought to be inserted into the older Missal, according to provisions which will be laid down imminently.”[3] Nearly nine years later, legislation has appeared from the Holy See on this matter.

One over-arching principle should be made very clear in discussing both of these decrees: the changes which have been implemented by these two (2) decrees are optional. No forma extraordinaria celebrant is being compelled to make any changes to the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 liturgical books. In a certain sense, the liturgical books of 1962 are being left as they are. This having been said, it is worth recalling, as the nota praevia for Cum Sanctissima likewise notes, up to and including the promulgation of the 1960 Codex Rubricarum, a number of Proprium Sanctorum Pro Aliquibus Locis (PSPAL) were included in the Missale Romanum. These Masses will be referred to in the nota praevia as well as in Cum Sanctissima itself.

1. Cum Sanctissima

De Mattei: Is the Corona Virus “the black swan” of 2020?

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
March 25,2020

“Our Lady asked for something more: the specific consecration of Russia, done by the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world. It is this act, until now never done, that everyone is waiting for, before it is too late.”

The Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) is a rare bird, of Australian origin, which takes its name from the colour of  its plumage. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a financial analyst and former Wall Street trader, in his book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, (Random House, New York, 2007) chose this metaphor to explain the existence of unexpected, catastrophic events that could turn collective life upside down.

The Corona Virus has been the “black swan” of 2020, writes Marta Dassù, of the Aspen Institute, explaining that the epidemic is putting the economic activity of Western nations in crisis and “demonstrates the fragility of the global manufacturing chains; when a shock hits one of its rings, the impact becomes systemic” (Aspenia, 88 (2020), p.9). “The second pandemic is on its way – writes Federico Rampini in La Repubblica of March 22 – which also needs to be dealt with and cured. It is called the ‘Great Depression’ and will have a balance of victims parallel to that of the virus. In America nobody uses the term ‘recession’ anymore because it is too bland.”

The world’s interconnected economy is proving itself to be a precarious system, but the impact of the Corona Virus is not only economical and sanitary, it is also religious and ideological. The Utopia of Globalization, which until September 2019, seemed to prevail, is [now] undergoing an irremediable debacle. On September 12, 2019, Pope Francis had invited the leaders of the major religions, and the international exponents of the economic, political and cultural world, to participate in a solemn event which was to take place in the Vatican on May 14, 2020: the Global Compact on Education. Around the same time “the prophetess” of deep ecology, Greta Thunberg, arrived in New York for the U.N. Climate Change Summit 2019, and Pope Francis on the eve of the Amazon Synod, sent a video- message to her and the participants at the summit, manifesting his full consonance with the globalist aims.


Rorate Note #1: They are optional Prefaces
Rorate Note #2: That is it... No one has to use them if not wanted.
Introductory Note (in English), followed by Decree Quo Magis (in Latin):


Note for the presentation of the Decree Quo magis
approving seven Eucharistic Prefaces
for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite

With the Decree Quo magis of 22 February 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which since January 2019 deals with those matters formerly assigned to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”[1], has approved the text of seven new Eucharistic Prefaces to be used ad libitum in the celebration of Mass according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite[2].

This Decree constitutes the completion of the work previously initiated by the aforementioned Pontifical Commission in order to carry out the mandate given by Pope Benedict XVI to add some additional Prefaces to the Missal of the forma extraordinaria[3].

The studies carried out lead to the selection of a limited number of texts, to be used for particular occasions such as feasts of Saints, votive Masses or ad hoc celebrations, without making any changes to the celebration of the temporal cycle. This choice was made in order to safeguard, through the unity of texts, the unanimity of sentiments and of prayer that are appropriate for the confession of the mysteries of Salvation celebrated in what constitutes the backbone of the liturgical year. In addition, the historical development of the Corpus Præfationum of the Missale Romanum up until the middle of the 20th Century shows a general movement towards the use of new prefaces for occasional celebrations rather than for celebrations of the temporal cycle.

At the same time, the opportunity was taken to extend to all those who celebrate in the Usus Antiquior the faculty to use three other Prefaces previously approved for certain places. These too are texts for determined occasional celebrations.

Four of the newly approved texts, namely the Prefaces de Angelisde Sancto Ioanne Baptista, de Martyribus and de Nuptiis, are taken from the Missal of the forma ordinaria, and for the most part their central section, known as the “embolism”, appear in ancient liturgical sources. In order to guarantee consistency with the rest of the Corpus Præfationum of the old Missal, in three cases, the standard forms of Preface conclusion of the forma extraordinaria have been used. As indicated, the three other texts (Prefaces de Omnibus Sanctis et Sanctis Patronisde Sanctissimo Sacramento and de Dedicatione ecclesiæ) are Prefaces previously granted to French and Belgian Dioceses, where they were in use before the post-conciliar liturgical reform. From now on, these may be used wherever Mass is celebrated in the forma extraordinaria.

Two of the seven Prefaces will allow to aptly give more prominence to liturgical celebrations in honour of certain leading figures in God’s design, as manifested in the history of Salvation, namely the Angels and St. John the Baptist, which hitherto both lacked a proper Eucharistic Preface in the Usus Antiquior. In the same vein, the Preface de Martyribus will allow to further underline the eminent character of the gift of martyrdom among the other witnesses of Sequela Christi. Indeed, the first Saints recognized as such were the Martyrs. The Prefaces de Dedicatione Ecclesiæ, de Omnibus Sanctis et Sanctis Patronis and de Sacramento, already in use in some places, will appropriately enrich the celebrations in question with a more suitable eucology than the standard Præfatio Communis. Finally, special note should be taken of the Preface de Nuptiis, which together with the long Nuptial Blessing still in use in Masses pro Sponsis, is to be found – with minor variations – in early Sacramentaries such as the Gelasianum Vetus or the Gregorianum. This ancient Preface, already existing in the forma ordinaria, may therefore now be used in the forma extraordinaria as well.

As indicated above, the use or not, in the relevant circumstances, of the newly approved Prefaces remains an ad libitum choice. Obviously, the celebrant is expected to make use of good pastoral common sense in this regard. In addition, it should be noted that the Decree does not cancel any eventual concessions of proper Prefaces granted in the past, and therefore in those particular cases where there already exists, on the basis of preceding permissions, and for the same liturgical circumstance, a different particular Preface, one may choose between that Preface and the newly approved text.
[1] Cf. Francis, Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio on the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, 17 January 2019.
[2] The texts of these Prefaces, with the musical notation according to the various tones in use in the forma extraordinaria, will be available at the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
[3] “Some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the Usus Antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard”: Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970AAS 99 (2007) 798. This mandate was further confirmed and completed in 2011 by the Instruction Universæ Ecclesiæ of the same Pontifical Commission: cf. Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, Instruction on the Application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio, n. 25, AAS 103 (2011) 418.



VERY IMPORTANT - General Principles on Celebrations of Saints in the Traditional Roman Missal, According to Decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and Introductory Note)

Rorate Note #1: The Traditional Roman Missal is alive and well. Thank you, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI!

Rorate Note #2: the new clarifications will allow for the celebration of any saint canonized since 1960 (and those from before without assigned days), according to the new rules on classes of saints now established.

Rorate Note #3: See also: Decree Quo Magis, with new optional Prefaces

Introductory Note in English, followed by the text of the Decree, in Latin, plus the annex of the Universal Calendar:



Note for the presentation of the Decree Cum sanctissima
on the liturgical celebration in honour of Saints
in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite

With the Decree Cum sanctissima of 22 February 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which since January 2019 deals with those matters formerly assigned to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”[1], completed the work initiated several years earlier by that Commission in order to fulfill the mandate given by Pope Benedict XVI to facilitate the celebration of more recently canonized Saints according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite[2]. Indeed, since the Sanctoral of the forma extraordinaria is determined by the liturgical books in force in 1962, Saints canonized thereafter were not included therein.

The studies carried out in order to develop a practical solution for the liturgical celebration of more recent Saints in the Usus Antiquior provided an opportunity to address the many issues that this matter raises, such as the density of the existing calendar (particularly as regards III class feasts), the consideration of all the repercussions of any potential changes, the always preferable consistency between Mass and the Divine Office, and the matter of the liturgical texts to be used.
In this context, it appeared that rather than dealing with this or that more recent Saint, it would be more appropriate to lay down a general principle that would enable, within the general rubrical context of the forma extraordinaria, and when the liturgical day permits, the celebration of any Saint canonized after the 1960s, on the date of their proper feast.

Specifically, the Decree broadens the scope of missæ festivæ latiore sensu referred to in n. 302-c of the Rubricæ Generales Missalis Romani (which hitherto only applied to IV class days), to a number of III class feasts and to III class vigils[3] (cf. Decree, n. 1). It is therefore clear that the new provisions will not in any way affect other celebrations, and in particular those of the I or II classes. 

In addition, the Decree specifies that missæ festivæ latiore sensu may be celebrated in honour of Saints canonized after 26 July 1960 (which is the date of the last amendment to the Martyrology of the forma extraordinaria), on their respective liturgical feast day (n. 2).

With this principle in mind, the other provisions of the Decree give the necessary indications that derive therefrom, such as the applicability to the Divine Office, which in such a case is to be celebrated in full in honour of the Saint (n. 3), the requirement to make a commemoration of potentially occurring III class feasts, as the case may be (n. 4), and the rules relating to the selection of the liturgical texts to be used (n. 5). Regarding this particular point, one should note the three successive sources from which texts are to be drawn, namely in the first place the Proprium Sanctorum pro aliquibus locis which already exists in the Missal of the forma extraordinaria, secondly a special Supplement to be published by the Holy See in the future, and finally, should the two former sources be lacking, the existing Commune Sanctorum.

It is noteworthy that the celebration of more recent Saints pursuant to the new provisions is a mere possibility, and therefore it remains optional. Accordingly, those who wish to continue to celebrate the Saints according to the existing calendar of the forma extraordinaria as it appears in the liturgical books, remain free to do so. In relation to this, one should be reminded that the existence of optional feasts in honour of the Saints is not a complete novelty in the Roman Rite, given that throughout the post-tridentine period, and up till the rubrical reform carried out by Pope St. Pius X, the calendar included no less that twenty-five such so-called ad libitum feasts.

The new Decree also opens a further possibility for cases in which whilst following the existing calendar, one wishes at the same time to honour eventual other occurring Saints. Specifically, according to n. 6 of the Decree, an ad libitumcommemoration of an occurring Saint may be made, if said Saint appears in the Proprium pro aliquibus locis or in the future special Supplement.

In choosing whether or not to make use of the provisions of the Decree in liturgical celebrations in honour of the Saints, the celebrant is expected to make use of good pastoral common sense. As regards the particular case of celebrations in Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, n. 7 of the Decree provides some useful clarification. 

The Decree concludes (n. 8) with reference to a list of seventy III class feasts that may never be impeded by its provisions. This list, which is provided as an annex, reflects the particular importance of the feasts in question, on the basis of precise criteria, e.g. the importance of these respective Saints in the Plan of Salvation or in the history of the Church, their importance in terms of either the devotion they have generated or their writings, or the antiquity of their worship in Rome.
[1] Cf. Francis, Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio on the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, 17 January 2019.
[2] “New Saints (…) can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the Usus Antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard”: Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970AAS 99 (2007) 798. This mandate was further confirmed and completed in 2011 by the Instruction Universæ Ecclesiæ of the same Pontifical Commission: cf. Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, Instruction on the Application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio, n. 25, AAS 103 (2011) 418.
[3] In fact there is only one such III class vigil in the calendar of the forma extraordinaria, namely that of St. Lawrence on 9 August. On this subject one may be reminded that from 1568 until the Codex Rubricarum of 1960, non-privileged vigils such as that of St. Lawrence were of the simplex rite, and accordingly, when they fell in occurrence with a semiduplex or duplex feast of a Saint, that feast would prevail over the vigil. With the reform enacted under St. Pius X in 1911-1914, in non-conventual Masses the celebrant could, in certain cases, choose between the Mass of the occurring Saint or the Mass of the vigil (cr. Additiones et variationes in rubricis Missalis, n. 1).
[00403-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]



Coronavirus: Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship on provisions for Holy Week and Easter

The Decree below is obviously applicable to the New Mass (1970 Missal).

However, many provisions are simple matters of common sense, perfectly valid and applicable to the Traditional Latin Mass.

For the record of current events:


In time of Covid-19 (II)

CATHOLIC SURVIVAL GUIDE, Second Part - The Art of Dying Prepared: a Catholic Happy Death

Bona mors - a good, happy, death. A most Catholic concept.

Are Catholics supposed to panic regarding pandemics? Only if they are unprepared for their deaths, but they should avoid being so. While most Catholics are unfortunately not ordinarily prepared for their own deaths, moments like the present one (even if prompted by the media-driven mass panic characteristic of such moments) are very useful for the faithful to focus on the need to prepare their souls for death.

In this sense, moments such as the present one are a blessing. While often death catches us unprepared (though we as Catholics must pray for it not to be the case), when a dangerous new pathogen is among us, we cannot reasonably say, before the Tremendous Judge, "we didn't know any better." We did and we do know better, and what better time to get ready for a good death?

While Deacon Nick Donnelly's First Part to his Survival Guide (which we reposted just now) is dedicated to the burden of a life without regular access to the Sacraments (especially Penance and the Holy Eucharist), this second part is dedicated to preparation for a Happy Death:


A Catholic Survival Guide for COVID-19, Part Two

The Art of Dying Well (Ars Moriendi
and Prayers for a Happy Death (Bona Mors)

by the Rev Deacon Nick Donnelly

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has brought the prospect of death into much sharper focus for many of us. The illusion that we will live to an old age, that made death seem a far-distant threat, has been ripped away, leaving us to face the truth of our mortality. Some of us may well suffer critical illness due to contracting COVID-19, even life-threatening complications. The strict quarantine protocols to stop the transmission of the virus and protect healthcare workers means that we will most probably be deprived of the pastoral care of our priests at our deathbed.  This is a prospect that rightly concerns many of us at the present time.  We may feel a deep anxiety about being left alone to endure the tribulations of dying without our spiritual fathers.

In these circumstances, familiarity and practice of two traditional devotions will help us face death with greater peace of mind, calmness and composure enabling us to prepare to die with Christian hope. These two traditional devotions are the Ars Moriendi and the Bona Mors — the art of dying and prayers for a happy death. Even if we are young and healthy, we would all benefit from these two devotions that help us live life from the perspective of Eternal Life.

The Risen Christ transfigures death

GUIDE: What To Do When Churches Are Closed and Sacraments Unavailable (Repost)

Now that the great majority of the world's Catholics are in jurisdictions where the media-led mass panic regarding the Wuhan (Covid-19) virus has led governments to impose unacceptable, illegal, and illegitimate burdens on the liberty of the Church, with cowardly obedience by the useless men who should be shepherding us (instead of abandoning us), the Guide by Deacon Nick Donnelly on how to survive the absence of Sacraments is more important than ever.

We are therefore reposting it here:


A Catholic Survival Guide for the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, by Deacon Nick Donnelly (Part One)

by the Rev. Deacon Nick Donnelly

Christ healing the bleeding woman(Catacombs of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, Rome)
Recourse to the sacraments is essential to the supernatural lives of Catholics. This is even more true during lifes crises, such as many face due to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. This is why Archbishop Vigano is right when he describes the closure of churches in Northern Italy, and the suspension of public Mass and confession as, a real unprecedented tragedy.  For weeks now many Catholics living in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Northern Italy have been unable to receive the Blessed Sacrament or the sacramental absolution of their sins. Not since the Protestant Reformation across Europe or the Communist persecution of the Church in Russia, Mexico and China, have so many Catholics been banned from the public celebration of the sacraments. Though this time churches have been closed to protect the physical wellbeing of Catholics, the drastic impact on the sacramental lives of the faithful cannot be exaggerated.

It is a frightening prospect to face the possibility of being denied the sacraments if instructed to self-isolate due to exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus or being quarantined in hospital with life-threatening complications. It is highly unlikely that secular medical professionals will appreciate the stress suffered by Catholics unable to receive the pastoral care of our priests, especially the anxiety caused by the possibility of not being able to receive Extreme Unction at the hour of death. 

However, we can do much to reduce our own anxiety and stress if we find ourselves in such a situation by following two traditional devotional practices the Act of Perfect Contrition and Spiritual Communion. As Bishop Schneider observed in his recent Rorate Caeli essay on the coronavirus:

In times of persecution, many Catholics were unable to receive Holy Communion in a sacramental way for long periods of time, but they made a Spiritual Communion with much spiritual benefit.

Cardinal Johann Baptist Franzelin (1816-1885), the renowned Dogmatic theologian and Papal Theologian during the First Vatican Council, once admitted, If I were able to traverse the countryside preaching the divine word, my favourite sermon topic would be perfect contrition.

Now is the time to recover the wisdom and practice of these traditional devotions. Under certain conditions, they will enable us to receive the forgiveness of our sins, and the marvellous benefit of Eucharistic graces if for example due to self-isolation at home or quarantine in hospital we are denied the sacraments and the pastoral care of our clergy.

Trust that God wills to save all men

Op-Ed: Suspending public Mass is not new

By Fr. Carl Gismondi, FSSP

Last week the Archbishop of Philadelphia suspended public Masses throughout the archdiocese. He was not the first bishop to do this in the United States, and by the end of the week it appeared that every diocese in the United States had suspended public Mass. 

I’ve had a number of phone calls, emails, conversations with the faithful.  Some have expressed frustration and disappointment with the U.S. bishops. One person seriously thought it was the end of the world.  In addition, on the internet—where things are less filtered— comments have been more critical.

Suspending public Mass is not new. In 1918, during the Spanish Influenza Epidemic, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, public Masses were suspended for a number of weeks in October 1918. 

Philadelphia was particularly hard-hit by the Spanish Influenza of 1918. There was a public war-bonds parade at the beginning of October in which 200,000 people attended. Three days later, Spanish Influenza exploded in Philadelphia, and, within two weeks, 4,500 people had died.  

Archbishop Dougherty suspended public Masses on Oct 4th (in accordance with the order of the Board of Health) and called upon the religious sisters to help care for the sick. He also encouraged the use of church facilities for the temporary care of the sick.  The churches in the city of Philadelphia were not ordered to be locked and many remained opened for the faithful.  Masses and public devotions including confessions were suspended, though.  City churches reinstated confessions on Saturday Oct 26th with public Mass starting the following day, but in many rural churches the public celebration of Mass remained suspended until Nov 3rd.[1]

Philadelphia was not the only city to close churches.  A 2007 study looked at how 17 cities responded to the September - December 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic.  The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of social distancing on the spread of the flu.[2]  The authors document 13 cities that curtailed church gatherings: Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Newark, New Orleans, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington DC.[3] 

Book review - Nothing Superfluous: An Explanation of the Symbolism of the Rite of St. Gregory the Great

By Mrs. Adfero

If there was ever a book for our times, it is Nothing Superfluous: An Explanation of the Symbolism of the Rite of St. Gregory the Great by The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP. 

We have found ourselves in a pivotal moment in history as we watch the COVID-19 pandemic unfold.  We are deprived of assisting at the Mass in a Church.  We are isolated from one another.  We find ourselves depending upon the fickle internet on our technological devices to connect with one another and to help us fulfill the Sunday obligation we hold so dear. 

With so much anxiety, uncertainty, and an onslaught of information regarding the coronavirus crisis, Nothing Superfluous will bring you calm and a deeper, richer appreciation for the Mass, “A Pearl of Great Price.” Written plainly and clearly, as for an adult education class, it does not intimidate with lofty academic language, making the information in this book accessible for all. 

The symbolism in this book of the Rite of St. Gregory the Great is stunning.  Fr. Jackson does not leave anything out – from the reason we use the Latin language in the Mass, which many may know, to the symbolism of the cavity of the bell, which many may not know.

Traditional Catholics and the Enforced Desert: Dare we enter?

A short while ago I wrote a piece about how we can use the situation in which we Catholics find ourselves because of the Corona-19 Virus pandemic to deepen our Catholic faith.   In many parts of the world we find ourselves in the unprecedented situation where the faithful cannot attend Mass and therefore cannot receive Holy Communion.  I tried, perhaps too subtly, in my previous article, to suggest that this situation in which we find ourselves is an opportunity to deepen our Catholic faith and our understanding of the Blessed Sacrament.  And I still believe this and urge everyone to take advantage of this time of deprivation of the Mass and of the reception of Holy Communion to deepen our Catholic faith.  But to urge Catholics to do this and not point out what is in the way of this deepening of our faith in these times of pandemic and cancellation of all public Masses and, mirabile dictu, cancellation of public celebrations of Holy Week and Easter, would be a pastoral dereliction.  As a priest, this is not only an objective situation that causes me astonishment and personal grief.  It also forces me to dig deeper into my faith, my Catholic faith, yes, to try to understand, albeit through a glass darkly, yet trying to understand what this means for the Church and for the faithful, what it means for our faith. 

"Meditations on Death" - Part 5: A Lenten Series by Father Konrad Loewenstein

Part 5
A Lenten Guest Series by 
Father Konrad zu Loewenstein 


1) ‘I cannot resist the temptation’

But the Apostle tells us: ‘God is faithful and never permits us to be tempted above our strength (1 Cor 10.13).’ And if you cannot resist now, how will you be able to resist next time?

2) ‘I am young and there is time for conversion’

But how do you know that there is time? And do you not know that God counts not the years but the sins of each individual? You are young, but how many sins have you already committed? There are many people of advanced age who have not been guilty of the tenth part of your sins. When the measure of the sins that He has resolved to pardon is completed, He will send a sudden death, or, which is worse, abandon you to your sin.

3) ‘I will sin, but I will confess it later’

Tell me, would you cast yourself into a pool of freezing water and say, perhaps I shall not be drowned?’ Would you take a boat into the middle of the ocean to the point where it is at its deepest, and there cast into its bosom the most precious object you possess, a jewel, an heirloom of priceless worth, and say: ‘I can always come and  retrieve it another day?’

But now you hold in your hand the infinitely precious jewel of your immortal soul, and you voluntarily cast it into Hell, and say: I hope to recover it after a good confession. And when will this confession then be? To-morrow? But who promises you to-morrow? St. Augustine says: ‘God has not promised you to-morrow: perhaps He will give it: perhaps He will not’. And if you do confess to-morrow (which is unlikely), how will you arouse the necessary sorrow? For every time you sin, this becomes more difficult.  Yielding this time will make it more difficult to resist hereafter. For each sin is like the blow of the hammer on the anvil, which serves only to make the iron harder, and so the sin hardens your heart ever more, and makes it ever less malleable to the operations of Divine Grace.

Sermon for Laetare Sunday: "Rejoice, O Jerusalem!"

From the Introit:  “Laetare Jerusalem.”  Rejoice, O Jerusalem… and from today’s Gradual Psalm: “I rejoiced when I heard them say, let us go into the house of the Lord”.  And from the Epistle:  “For freedom Christ has set us free.”

In the American psyche there is a strong relationship between freedom and joy.  The whole American enterprise, both mythical and historical, has been a celebration of freedom, usually understood in the Enlightenment sense: the freedom of the individual from all coercion, whether that coercion be from the State or from organized religion.  It is the freedom to be who you want to be without interference from outside sources.  We call ourselves “the Land of the free and Home of the brave.”  These basic individual freedoms are enshrined in the United States Constitution.  And these freedoms and freedom itself are inextricably linked in the minds of Americans with democracy.  Two World Wars were fought--in our understanding-- to make the world safe for democracy.  And we have seen in the post-World War II period in our history, with its own wars in foreign lands, however imperfectly conceived and fought this wars have been, there has been this sense of duty to see to it that democracy spread thought the whole world, and this, always in the name of freedom.  And it is expected that the freedoms enjoyed in a democracy will fulfill the people and make them happy, for the ultimate fulfillment of the individual is to be free.

#MementoMori - As her lungs failed, Therese wrote: "I am not dying, I am entering into life!"

For so many around the world deprived of physical Communion of the Blessed Sacrament, the words of Saint Therese are a solace:

The impossibility, however, of receiving Holy Communion did not sadden Thérêse. “No doubt, it is a great grace to receive the sacraments. When God does not permit it, it is good too! Everything is a grace!”

Tout est grâce...

And there are so many other lessons for us Catholics of 2020 in the last months of the saint's suffering, precisely from a disease that attacked her lungs and deprived her of breath, as the current Chinese virus does to those who suffer from its worst symptoms. Let us follow the example of the saints and always be prepared for our own deaths. True life begins only after it!

On July 6, a sudden worsening in her condition brought on series of hemoptyses which lasted until August 5. After Doctor de Cornière had observed her suffocating spells, her vomiting of blood, and her high fever, he became convinced that she was dying; he stated that in cases such as hers “only two percent got well.”

When she heard this news, Thérèse was filled with joy. She made her confession to the chaplain and asked him to give her the last anointing which she desired very much.

Fontgombault Sermon for the Feast of Saint Benedict: "A tiny virus frightens almighty man. The answer: Believe, Confess, and Receive."

Saint Benedict

The Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau 
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault 
Fontgombault, March 21st, 2020

We have followed Thee.
(Mt 19:27)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 
My dearly beloved Sons,

This morning, the Church applies the Apostle St. Peter’s words to St. Benedict. Indeed, following Christ takes a special form for monks, who may assert, “We have left all things.” Not only do they prefer nothing else to Christ, but they have forsaken everything to seek Him truly.

To be truly human, and therefore free, such a choice cannot be made but knowingly. To know the Lord’s ways, so as to choose Him and seek Him further, such is the path of the monk, but also of every man. During Lent, in this time of a great cataclysm, but most of all, on the Easter path, let us receive this calling: to choose and to seek.

Choosing Christ implies to have a listening heart. When King Solomon, David’s son and successor, received in a dream a word from God promising to give him whatever he would ask, he unexpectedly answered:

Give therefore to Thy servant an understanding heart, to judge Thy people, and discern between good and evil. (1st K. 3:9)

These words cast a glaring light on our lives and on those of our fellow citizens. Pope Benedict commented: