Rorate Caeli

Tired of Streaming Masses? An Alternative Option for How Families may worship in Spirit and in Truth in this time of Crisis.

One of the phenomena that has sprung up during the Covid-19 crisis is the “streamed” Mass.  Without going into technical details, all that is needed is a camera, even an iPhone will do, and software that allows the image and sound on the camera to be transmitted continuously for display on a computer or TV.  This is different from a “recorded” event that is stored as a whole and then can be watched at some time in the future.  In this way, a streamed Mass gives the impression that the viewer is in some sense “there” with the priest who is offering the Mass, because it is contemporaneous, or nearly so.  It is obvious why the practice of streaming Masses has become so widespread and popular during a time when the great majority of Catholic churches cannot celebrate public Masses because of the ban on groups of people congregating in the same place.  

The supreme literary vindication of Summorum Pontificum: Fiedrowicz’s comprehensive guide to the Traditional Mass — now in English

I am delighted to announce to Rorate readers the publication by Angelico Press of the long-awaited English edition of Michael Fiedrowicz’s masterful work, The Traditional Mass: History, Form, and Theology of the Classical Roman Rite (first published in 2011, and now in its fifth German edition).

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to read this book twice and really absorb its content (and on that basis, I provided an endorsement for the back cover). I can confidently say there’s nothing comparable to it out there in the English language, in its comprehensive scope, depth of research, and insight into every aspect of the liturgy. It is a compelling apologia for the superiority of the old rite at every level and on every head. The author’s judgments are perfectly weighed, polished, sober, and clear; there is not a touch of exaggeration or unfairness. The result is both triumphant and devastating.

In these strange times, when we see the number of traditional Masses at an all-time high (thanks to a proliferation of private Masses), the CDF issuing decrees that acknowledge with perfect clarity that the old Mass is here to stay for the future of the Church, and an ominously-worded questionnaire sent out to all bishops about the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, we may have many questions and a few anxieties, but we also enjoy a towering certainty: interest in and adherence to the traditional Mass will not subside. On the contrary, it will continue to grow, seminarian by seminarian, priest by priest, and even quite possibly bishop by bishop as the champions of rupture retire and churchmen with less rigid ideas about the “success” of the liturgical reform and the “outdatedness” of our heritage take their place.

Fiedrowicz’s work arrives, therefore, at exactly the right moment. If you are going to read just one serious book on the TLM, this is the one. In addition, I recommend purchasing copies for every priest you know who already offers the usus antiquior — indeed, for every priest who is, or may be, interested in learning more about the very Roman rite for which he was ordained.

Table of Contents

Saint Catherine of Siena to the Pope: "Don't believe in the counsels of the devil!“

(In Festo S. Catharinae Senensis)

Alas, sweet my father, with this sweet hand I pray you, and tell you to come to discomfit our enemies.

On behalf of Christ crucified I tell it you: refuse to believe the counsels of the devil, who would hinder your holy and good resolution. Be manly in my sight, and not timorous. Answer God, who calls you to hold and possess the seat of the glorious Shepherd Saint Peter, whose vicar you have been. And raise the standard of the holy Cross; for as we were freed by the Cross--so Paul says--thus raising this standard, which seems to me the refreshment of Christians, we shall be freed -- we from our wars and divisions and many sins, the infidel people from their infidelity. In this way you will come and attain the reformation, giving good priests to Holy Church. Fill her heart with the ardent love that she has lost; for she has been so drained of blood by the iniquitous men who have devoured her that she is wholly wan. But comfort you, and come, father, and no longer make to wait the servants of God, who afflict themselves in desire.

And I, poor, miserable woman, can wait no more; living, I seem to die in my pain, seeing God thus reviled.

Saint Catherine of Siena
Letter to Pope Gregory XI

[Post for the Feast.]

De Mattei: The mystery of the Coronavirus amid hypotheses and certainties

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
April 29, 2020

An aura of mystery continues to surround the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, the infectious disease which has spread all over the world in a few short months, assuming the nature of a proper and authentic pandemic. There are many hypotheses and few certainties about the nature of this virus.

The hypotheses regard the origins of the disease. Did the virus have its origins in nature, as most of the virologists sustain, or was it produced in a laboratory, as others maintain?  And in the latter case was it fabricated for therapeutic purposes or for bacterial warfare? And was it made in a Chinese or Western laboratory? And was the seepage from this laboratory accidental or deliberate? It is evident that the hypothesis of deliberate seepage would foster the idea of a possible secret forces “conspiracy”, given that there have been many throughout history.

If, on the other hand, the virus had its origins in nature, or had seeped out of a laboratory by accident, we would have to think that these same forces were taken off guard by the event. One of the most likely hypotheses seems to be that presented by Steve Mosher, whereby the virus, made in China, had escaped by accident from a laboratory in Wuhan (LifeSiteNews, 22 April 2020). We are talking just about a hypothesis, but the responsibilities of Communist China which Mosher brings to light are crystal-clear. 
The Chinese Communist Party has in fact been silent about the diffusion of the virus and has manipulated the numbers of infections and deaths.  With good reason Chen Guangcheng ( the blind activist, a refugee in the U.S, after being imprisoned in China for his denunciations of forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong) asserted that “The Chinese Communist Party is the greatest and the most dangerous virus in the world” (AsiaNews, 27 April 2020).

Guest Op-Ed: What a Pastor and his Curate have been doing during this pandemic: What else but offering the Traditional Mass?

To Readers of Rorate Caeli:

I am pleased to offer to you a guest piece by a young priest, Father Timothy Iannacone,  from the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  It is priests like Father Iannacone that are real evidence of the love of the Traditional Roman Mass among our young priests.  He is certainly is not alone in his diocese nor in the neighboring dioceses in New York and New Jersey in his understanding of and love for the Mass of the Ages.  This must give us hope and joy even as Rome issues questionnaires about the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. Please pray for young priests like Fr. Iannacone. They are an integral part of the future of the Catholic Church.

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla


What have the Pastor and his Curate been doing amidst the
Covid-19 pandemic? Why, the Traditional Latin Mass of course!

An Empty Apostolic Square: The Wolf Came, the Sheep Scattered

It was impossible for us not to think of the empty squares, churches, chapels today with the words of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on this Good Shepherd Sunday.

The governmental wolves ordered churches closed, as if they were not essential. The bishops (the "shepherds" in name only) fled, and the sheep scattered and left the field.

O tempora!...

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep. [From the Gospel for the Second Sunday After Easter.]

For the Church, it is the End of an Age:

In the Covid-19 crisis, Pope Francis has forgone the transcendental approach of his predecessors: for the Church, it is the End of an Age: it has de facto abandoned its relationship with the Divinity

Domenico Cacòpardo
April 8, 2020
Among the many things archived by the Corona virus, there is one which is rather dramatic, but possibly temporary: it is the Catholic Church.  The resulting impression is that it will have difficulty in recovering from this shock. I write this as an unbeliever, though for family reasons, I have been a frequenter of  priests, friars and the Vatican.  

Letter of the Holy Father to the Faithful for the Month of May 2020 -- The Holy Rosary

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.

For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.

I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.

Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020

Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

Pope Francis

First Prayer

BREAKING: The Questionnaire on Summorum Pontificum: what’s going on behind the scenes

The Editor
Messa in Latino 
April 24, 2020

Dearest Friends,

After publishing the translations of the CDF’s letter to the Episcopal Conferences and the attached questionnaire on theapplication of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, we would like now to add some further updating on this complex and delicate matter., in fact was given some [background]information that we judge reliable.

Here it is:

BREAKING - IMPORTANT - Summorum Under Threat? - Holy See sends survey to Bishops on Summorum Pontificum (Exclusive)

[Update - See: "The Summorum Questionnaire, what is going on behind the scenes?"]

Could the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, that recognized the rights and continuity of the Traditional Latin Rite, be under threat?

When the motu proprio was first published, there was a period of consultations of three years. It was defined by Pope Benedict XVI in his accompanying letter to bishops: "Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought." This was done, and the result was the mostly positive 2011 Instruction.


Quite strangely, now, 13 years after Summorum, when it has become a permanent part of the life of the Church in many places throughout the world, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), now responsible for Summorum, has sent out a new survey for bishops on the application of Summorum Pontificum, because, "His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to be informed about the current application of the aforementioned document."

It could be ominous. The questions seem neutral, but, once one reads them carefully, they may indicate serious consequences.

Rorate has received copies of both documents that were sent, and that had been unknown to the faithful up to this moment: the March 7, 2020, letter of the Prefect of CDF  to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, and the questions to bishops asked in the April 2020 survey itself -- the due date is July 31, 2020.

Both documents are below (click to open larger and more readable view for both documents):

An Easter Sermon by Father Konrad zu Loewnstein

Father Konrad zu Loewenstein
Easter 2020 

 Was not our heart burning...’

Our Blessed Lord appears to-day to two of His disciples: Cleophas and another, perhaps his wife Maria who had stood at the foot of the Cross. When they looked back at the encounter later, what motives would they not have found for amazement and the deepest reverence? -their beloved Master Who had suffered and died in a manner so atrocious and cruel, was in truth the Messiah of the Ancient Covenant, the Glory of the Chosen People, indeed God Himself; He had risen from the dead and appeared before them in person in the form of an unknown travelling companion; He had come to their house, celebrated the Holy Eucharist for them, then vanished from their sight. 

‘Was not our heart burning within us?’ they ask each other afterwards. It was right that these chaste and pure disciples with their sincere and upright Faith in God should rejoice, says St. Lorenzo Giustiniani, that the Only Begotten Son of God should treat with them with such affection and familiarity. ‘It was right that in that ecstasy they were inebriated by fervour, illuminated with wisdom, enflamed with love at the contemplation of such tenderness and humanity... hearing the divine waves of His Wisdom... They would have felt in their soul marvellous joys never before experienced, in those supreme instants when the eternal Word of the Father spoke to them with the ineffable sweetness of His superhuman love. His words would have irradiated from Him like showers of spiritual light, His voice come forth like rivers of celestial nectar, ineffably inebriating their hearts, as though pervaded with uncontainable joy... while their mind was suspended in contemplation both at the one who spoke and at the ineffable discourses which He uttered. Certainly they would have realised that in the Lord Jesus there was something divine, but their eyes were still too closed to be able to recognise Him. They tasted the most sweet savour of His Wisdom and in this joy their heart burned in the conflagration of divine love...’

The Loneliness of the Novus Ordo Priest in the Pandemic

The Priest is Never Alone

I as a priest have the singular privilege of celebrating Holy Mass in my private chapel every day.  

IMPORTANT: Texts of the 7 New Prefaces of the Traditional Latin Mass

The seven new optional prefaces, three of which are ancient and four adapted from similar prefaces in the new missal (Novus Ordo), were promulgated by the Decree Quo Magis, published on March 25, 2020.

It is relevant to recall that new optional prefaces for the 1962 Missal had been foreseen by Pope Benedict XVI on the accompanying Letter to Summorum Pontificum, published on the same day as the motu proprio, July 7, 2007: "new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal." (Benedict XVI)

The Seven optional Prefaces are the following: Preface of the Angels (feasts and votive masses of the Angels and Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel - Sep. 29); Preface of Saint John the Baptist (on the festive and votive masses of the saint); Preface of Martyrs (on the festive and votive masses of Martyrs, other than St. John the Baptist); Preface of All Saints and of Patron Saints (not covered by other prefaces); Preface of the Most Blessed Sacrament (for Corpus Christi, for votive masses of the Blessed Sacrament, and for votive masses of O.L. Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest); Preface for the Dedication of a Church; Preface for Nuptial Masses (for nuptial masses "Pro sponsis").



Guest op-ed: The Immorality of Indefinite Lockdowns

As states and localities have transitioned from pragmatic social distancing to economic self-destruction, we are pleased to continue the conversation with the following guest op-ed.  Our thanks to Father Naugle, a diocesan priest in Pennsylvania, for this thoughtful essay:

The Ends Never Justify the Means: The Immorality of Indefinite Lockdowns
By the Rev. Fr. John F. Naugle, M.A., S.T.B.

Everyone who has taken even a rudimentary ethics class knows the thought experiment:
What if millions of people are sick with a deadly disease? What if the only possible cure is to harvest the cells from one baby, resulting in the baby’s death? What do we do?

Scenarios like these are useful to flesh out the underlying assumptions of one’s chosen moral framework, especially to show the difference between consequentialism and other forms of moral thinking. Normally debate ensues in the classroom, as undergraduate half-wits try to demonstrate a level of depth of thought that is far beyond them.

Thankfully we are Catholic. The answer is clear.

“A good intention (for example, that of helping one's neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation” (CCC, 1753).

God forbids you from harming that baby, even at the cost of millions of lives. To even think differently is an egregious violation of Divine Law. End of discussion.

The Church’s Social Doctrine
The simple fact the alleged good that flows from an evil action is foundational to the Church’s teachings on social justice, particularly in its blanket condemnation of socialism. While the social encyclicals, beginning with Rerum Novarum, contain many considerations about why socialism is ineffective at achieving its stated aims, their primary argument is always against the idea of the “community of goods;” violating the right to private property is contrary to God’s law and no system which begins there may ever be approved. As Leo XIII says:

“Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property” (Rerum Novarum, 15).
These condemnations would be increased under Pius XI, as he condemns even a hypothetical socialism-lite of having a “concept of society itself… utterly foreign to Christian truth” (Quadragesimo Anno, 117).

The Catholic Church during this era was the hero. She defended the world against the evils of socialism. She defended the rights of laborers against those who would exploit them, especially by defending their right to unionize. Because of the strength which flowed from her clarity of thought, she was THE light during the era of industrialization and socialistic revolution.

So why does she fail to defend laborers now during this moment of crisis?

The Pandemic Crisis: The Absence of the Catholic Church -- The Dereliction of Duty of the Hierarchy

The crisis into which we are all immersed—there is no escape—is showing forth in a clear way, clear at least with those whose eyes are not clouded by false piety, the complete irrelevance of the Catholic Church within this crisis. The Catholic Church throughout her two thousand year history has been involved in very many crises: heresy, war, plague, ecclesial strife, famine—you name it and the Church has been involved in these crises within civilization, which civilization in the end means people, not merely groups of people, but individuals: he and she and their children.  And the reaction of the Church in the past was to be radically involved with the crisis facing the society in which she lived.  This is not to romanticize the past as if bishops have always responded to these crises of life and death in the best possible way.  But we do have the image of St. Aloysius Gonzaga carrying victims of the plague in Rome to the hospital on the Isola Tiburina.  But then again, Aloysius was not a bishop or even a priest. He was just a Jesuit novice.

And what do we see today?  

De Mattei: The hand of God and the hand of men

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
April 15, 2020

The international scenario in the spring of 2020 is new, unexpected, and dramatic. Confusion dominates because no one is able to truly say exactly what has happened: where the coronavirus came from, when it will end, and how it should be confronted.

What is certain, however, is that against this background, two cities continue to fight in history, the Civitas Dei and the Civitas Diabuli: their aim is to annihilate each other. They are the two cities that Saint Augustine speaks of: “One is the society of devoted men, the other of rebels, each one has its own angels – in the first city the love of God is superior, and in the other the love of self” (De Civitate Dei, lib. XIV, c. 13,1).

This mortal battle was evoked with efficacious words by Pius XII in his discourse to the men of Catholic Action on October 12, 1952. The Pope affirmed that the world was threatened by an enemy much worse than the fifth century enemy Attila the Hun, “the scourge of God.” “Oh, do not ask us who the 'enemy' is or what clothes he wears. He is found above all in everyone’s midst; he knows how to be violent and subtle. In these last few centuries he has tried to create intellectual, moral, and social desegregation of the unity of the mysterious organism of Christ. He wanted nature without grace; reason without faith; freedom without authority; and sometimes authority without freedom. He is an 'enemy' who has become ever more concrete, with a ruthlessness that still leaves people astonished: Christ yes, Church no. Then: God yes, Christ no. And finally his full cry: God is dead; and even: God never existed. And behold the attempt to structure the world on foundations that we do not hesitate to point out as the principal things responsible for the threat that is incumbent on humanity: an economy without God, a law without God, a political system without God.”

On Criticising fellow Catholics

I spend more time on Twitter than perhaps I should, but even so I tend to miss some of the nuances of the increasingly rancorous internecine Twitter arguments taking place between people who, one might think, should be on the same side, and if follower numbers are a guide to moral seriousness (which they are not), should know better. I doubt I have anything very edifying to learn by scrolling back through all the accusations and replies, but one thing which is characteristic of the latest, as of many other, Twitter spats, is that it has come down to catty generalizations about the character of Catholics attending Mass in different liturgical forms, or offered by different categories of priests.

This reminds me of the claim once made by English Protestants, that one is more likely to find one’s umbrella has been stolen from the back of a Catholic church than from a Protestant one. As Oscar Wilde put it, “The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.”

U.S. Bishop Restores Public Masses

Every diocese in the United States currently prohibits public Masses, but the bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico, has become the first prelate in the country to lift the ban.

His Excellency Peter Baldacchino, bishop of Las Cruces, who himself offered drive-in liturgies during the Triduum, today said priests will be able to offer public Masses, as long as guidelines from the state are followed.  This includes weddings and funerals.

In a letter today, the bishop said:  "While it is true that we need to take every reasonable precaution to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, it is equally true that we offer the greatest 'essential service' to our people.  The past few weeks have brought to light many unintended consequences of the 'stay-at-home' order."

CATHOLIC SURVIVAL GUIDE, Third Part - Devotions that prepare us for the Four Last Things (Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell)

Death - Judgement - Heaven - Hell

by the Rev. Deacon Nick Donnelly

Christ in Judgement (Last Judgement detail)
Baptistery of Saint John
Traditionally, Lent is the penitential season when the faithful are encouraged by the Church to contemplate the Four Last Things — Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell — as a spur to contrition and repentance. This past Lent, in the midst of the worst pandemic in a hundred years, the eschatological orientation within which all mankind lives, but mostly ignores, was brought into sharper focus by the ever-present threat of serious illness and death. Previous generations of Catholics took the warnings contained in sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition seriously — that plagues could express God’s wrath at the depravity of human sin to which we should respond with contrition and repentance. One of the blessings of COVID-19 is that it’s focusing faithful minds on the Four Last Things, spurring us to penitential self-examination at the prospect of divine judgement that has suddenly become more real.

The Realism of the Resurrection

Sermon for Easter Tuesday:  The Realism of the Resurrection

“And while they still disbelieved for joy and wondered, he said to them, ‘Have you anything to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate before them”.   Luke 24: 41-43

Fontgombault Sermons for Easter Vigil and Easter Day - "May this epidemic make men return to God." | "Dear Brothers and Sisters, you are not here, but we are together in the risen Christ."

Sermon for Easter Vigil (followed by the Sermon for Easter Day)

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
Fontgombault, April 11, 2020

Si consurrexistis cum Christo...
If you be risen with Christ....
(Col 3:1)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

Among the texts of the Easter Vigil, the Genesis narrative holds the first place. With simple words, this narrative evokes the origin of the earth and heavens, of all they contain, and especially man, in a word, of all creatures, namely, of everything that is, and that is not God.

The scene is breathtaking. Amidst the primeval chaos, a Word is heard. God speaks. He says, and things are. They are exactly what He says, and what they are. Each being thus receives a place, and remains in its place.

Man’s creation is told in a different way. God proclaims His intention, “Let us make man to our image and likeness” (Gn 1:26). And the author of the Book of Genesis notes:
And God created man to His own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female He created them. (Gn 1:27)

The parallel between these two verses incites some exegetes to draw from this text “a two-fold teaching: the creation of the human being, and his uncreation”.[1] Man is called, according to the divine plan, to be image and likeness of God. Indeed, God creates him in His own image. But the likeness remains to be achieved. As opposed to the other creatures, man is therefore responsible for part of his path, through the exercise of his freedom, towards a likeness that is to be acquired.

In its bareness, the sacred text is of a very different craftsmanship as compared to the ancient mythologies, where the world is born from a war waged among the gods, and the sacred text bears witness to the gift God has given to the universe. What harmony, what peace! Each particular creation ends up with a judgment of God: this is good, and even very good.

But what is left of the mission God has entrusted us with? What of our likeness? 

Wishing all our readers Buona Pasqua!

Vivaldi Credo RV 591, 4 Et resurrexit

- Dominica Paschæ in Resurrectione Domini
- A Meditation of Saint Alphonsus on Paradise

Osanna, Sanctus Deus Sabaoth,
superillustrans claritate tua
felices ignes horum malacoth!

L'anima d'ogne bruto e delle piante
di complession potenziata tira
lo raggio e il moto delle luci sante;

ma vostra vita sanza mezzo spira

la Somma Beninanza, e la innamora
di sé sì che poi sempre la disira.

E quinci puoi argomentare ancora

vostra resurrezion, se tu ripensi
come l'umana carne fessi allora

che li primi parenti intrambo fensi.*

Commedia, Paradiso (c. VII)

Salve, Festa Dies: Hail, O Festive Day!


for the Paschal Festivity

The Joys of Heaven


Oh, happy are we if we suffer with patience on earth the troubles of this present life! Distress of circumstances, fears, bodily infirmities, persecutions and crosses of every kind, will one day come to an end; and if we be saved, they will all become for us subjects of joy and glory in paradise: Your sorrow (says the Saviour, to encourage us) shall be turned into joy.

"Meditation for a Time of Pestilence" -- From the Monks of Clear Creek Abbey

From the "Letter to the Friends" of Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey, the foundation of Our Lady of Fontgombault in Oklahoma:

Easter Vigil, 2017
It would be the understatement of the millennium to suggest that, perhaps, something is awry in the world at present and that a global health crisis has sadly impacted the way we live as Catholic Christians. Not only are we witnesses to the spectacle of so many people growing ill and even dying, but the very Bread of Life entrusted to us from Heaven has been locked up in such a manner that the great number of the faithful is unable to receive this vital spiritual nourishment. I blame no one in particular.

Pandemic need not become Pandæmonium. After all, the Holy Trinity is still supreme in Heaven; the choirs of Angels still hold together in perfect order; the stars continue to follow their perpetual track; the birds are already busy building nests; and, as has been famously said, the “snail’s on the thorn”. We still have (quite intact) the faith along with all the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The grace of God is operating now as ever. While some may not be able to assist in person at the Holy Sacrifice of Mass and receive Our Lord in Communion, we are free to visit in spirit all the tabernacles of the world, where the real presence reigns in humble and silent majesty. All may still receive Holy Communion in a spiritual manner. What did the Lord tell us? “But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee” (Mt. 6:6). Who cannot do this even now? We must all become contemplatives for a time.

Op-Ed - The Curious Case of Cardinal Pell: "The Power of the State was Recruited to Destroy Pell"

by Fr Glen Tattersall
Melbourne, Victoria
Special for Rorate Caeli

“State power has been recruited in an effort to destroy Pell. This situation cannot be swept under the carpet.’’

So wrote Paul Kelly, Australia’s pre-eminent political commentator, in The Australian newspaper on Spy Wednesday. A day earlier, the full bench of the nation’s High Court, by a 7-nil margin, quashed five convictions of child abuse for which Cardinal George Pell spent 13 months and 10 days in jail in Melbourne, almost all of it in solitary confinement. There, he was denied the opportunity to celebrate Mass, and had no access to the Sacraments, for months on end.

At the eleventh hour, the nation’s highest court redeemed some of the credibility the Australian justice system had lost, reminding the nation and the world that the rule of law is not yet dead. That assertion, however, remains doubtful in Victoria (Australia’s second largest state in terms of population). There, the conduct of the Pell case routinely violated principles of justice recognised as sacrosanct in every civilised society.

Polyphony from the Latin Mass Society from locked-down musicians

The Latin Mass Society was due, as for many years past, to employ professional musicians to accompany not only the 'major' services of Holy Week but also Tenebrae in St Mary Moorfields, London. Since these celebrations cannot now take place, the musicians have recorded some pieces from their own homes and edited them together.

The group is Cantus Magnus, under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn.

These are being released primarily from the LMS Facebook page.  Here is a Vimeo version of the first one, a piece from the Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday set by Anerio.


Fontgombault Sermon for Maundy Thursday: "In Remembrance of Me: Jesus’ words are also meant for all of those who today cannot receive sacramental communion."

Maundy Thursday

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
Fontgombault, April 9, 2020

Hoc facite... in meam commemorationem.
Do this in remembrance of Me.
(1 Co 11:25)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

This morning, the sacred Triduum began, three days which will end on Easter morning by the announcement, borne by a few women to the disciples, of their discovery of the rolled stone and the empty tomb. He is risen.

De Mattei: An Easter that will go down in history…

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
April, 8, 2020

Easter Week 2020 is destined to go down in history - for its exceptional nature - like that day in February 2013, when Benedict XVI announced his renunciation of the Papacy. A mysterious thread seems to link these two events. The same sense of emptiness connects them.

Benedict  XVI juridically renounced the Petrine Mandate, without explaining the legitimate moral motives that might shed light on his extreme act. Pope Francis, for his part, juridically conserves this mandate, but doesn’t exercise it and even seems to want to strip himself of the highest title he holds, that as Vicar of Christ, transcribed, in the latest edition of the Pontifical Yearbook, as a historical title, and not constitutive. If Benedict XVI renounced the juridical exercise of the Vicariate of Christ, it almost seems that Pope Francis has renounced the moral exercise of his mission. The suspension of religious ceremonies all over the world, afflicted by the Coronavirus, seems to be a symbolic, but real, expression of an unprecedented situation, in which Divine Providence has taken away from the Pastors – the very people they abandoned.

Cardinal Pell Acquitted by High Court of Australia

Deo Gratias!

Judgment of the High Court of Australia:
PELL v THE QUEEN [2020] HCA 12

Cardinal Pell has already been released from custody.

Statement by Cardinal Pell:

I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice.

This has been remedied today with the High Court’s unanimous decision.

I look forward to reading the Judgment and reasons for the decision in detail.

I hold no ill will to my accuser. I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.

However my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church; nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church.
The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not.

The only basis for long term healing is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.

A special thanks for all the prayers and thousands of letters of support.

I want to thank in particular my family for their love and support and what they had to go through; my small team of advisors; those who spoke up for me and suffered as a result; and all my friends and supporters here and overseas.

Also my deepest thanks and gratitude to my entire legal team for their unwavering resolve to see justice prevail, to throw light on manufactured obscurity and to reveal the truth.

Finally, I am aware of the current health crisis. I am praying for all those affected and our medical frontline personnel.

Cardinal George Pell

Drive-in Masses: Why Not?

Today's Wall Street Journal features an article on page A11 entitled "Conservative Catholics Decry Halt on Masses; Vocal minority sounds an alarm, saying crisis raises the need for the church even more."  Francis X. Rocca, the paper's Vatican correspondent, features several voices, including this writer's:

"U.S. dioceses are really turning into the political equivalent of red dioceses and blue dioceses, depending on their bishop," said Kenneth J. Wolfe, a contributor to the traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli.  "The difference between Baltimore, which is forbidding even the sacrament of penance, and nearby Arlington, which has almost every church open for 10 or fewer people, is staggering."

According to the Archdiocese of Baltimore's website, "It is no longer deemed safe to administer the sacrament (confession) during the present health crisis, therefore the sacrament is only available to those for whom death may be imminent."

Above that quote is a photograph from another diocese of a priest granting absolution via a drive-up confessional, where the penitent stays in his car and the priest is six feet away to offer the sacrament of penance. The arrangement is likely more physically safe than going to the legally open liquor store, or even the supermarket.

To that end, there is no legitimate excuse for bishops to prohibit confession during the pandemic, knowing souls could perish with mortal sin. As much as it would be nice to know when each of us will die, often we know not the day nor hour.

Thankfully most U.S. dioceses are readily providing the sacrament of penance, baptisms and last rites, even if some bishops, archbishops and cardinals have abandoned their flock.  The open question is on public Masses, currently prohibited (by bishops, not by the state) in every diocese in America.  Yet, there is an option that is both safe and legal in many places, particularly in the suburbs:

Why on earth are bishops not encouraging drive-in Masses during the coronavirus pandemic?

On the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Raphael (Raffaelo Sanzio da Urbino)

"Finally, he confessed and was penitent, 
and ended the course of his life at the age of thirty-seven, 
on the same day that he was born, 
which was Good Friday."
(April 6, 1520)

[From Vasari's Lives:]

How bountiful and benign Heaven sometimes shows itself in showering upon one single person the infinite riches of its treasures, and all those graces and rarest gifts that it is wont to distribute among many individuals, over a long space of time, could be clearly seen in the no less excellent than gracious Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, who was endowed by nature with all that modesty and goodness which are seen at times in those who, beyond all other men, have added to their natural sweetness and gentleness the beautiful adornment of courtesy and grace, by reason of which they always show themselves agreeable and pleasant to every sort of person and in all their actions. Him nature presented to the world, when, vanquished by art through the hands of Michelangelo Buonarroti, she wished to be vanquished, in Raffaello, by art and character together. And in truth, since the greater part of the craftsmen who had lived up to that time had received from nature a certain element of savagery and madness, which, besides making them strange and eccentric, had brought it about that very often there was revealed in them rather the obscure darkness of vice than the brightness and splendour of those virtues that make men immortal, there was right good reason for her to cause to shine out brilliantly in Raffaello, as a contrast to the others, all the rarest qualities of the mind, accompanied by such grace, industry, beauty, modesty, and excellence of character, as would have sufficed to efface any vice, however hideous, and any blot, were it ever so great. Wherefore it may be surely said that those who are the possessors of such rare and numerous gifts as were seen in Raffaello da Urbino, are not merely men, but, if it be not a sin to say it, mortal gods; and that those who, by means of their works, leave an honourable name written in the archives of fame in this earthly world of ours, can also hope to have to enjoy in Heaven a worthy reward for their labors and merits.

Raffaello was born at Urbino, a very famous city in Italy, at three o'clock of the night on Good Friday, in the year 1483, to a father named Giovanni de' Santi, a painter of no great excellence, and yet a man of good intelligence, well able to direct his children on that good path which he himself had not been fortunate enough to have shown to him in his boyhood. And since Giovanni knew how important it is to rear infants, not with the milk of nurses, but with that of their own mothers, no sooner was Raffaello born, to whom with happy augury he gave that name at baptism, than he insisted that this his only child--and he had no more afterwards--should be suckled by his own mother, and that in his tender years he should have his character formed in the house of his parents, rather than learn less gentle or even boorish ways and habits in the houses of peasants or common people. When he was well grown, he began to exercise him in painting, seeing him much inclined to such an art, and possessed of a very beautiful genius: wherefore not many years passed before Raffaello, still a boy, became a great help to Giovanni in many works that he executed in the state of Urbino. In the end, this good and loving father, knowing that his son could learn little from him, made up his mind to place him with Pietro Perugino, who, as he heard tell, held the first place among painters at that time. He went, herefore, to Perugia: but not finding Pietro there, he set himself, in order to lessen the annoyance of waiting for him, to execute some works in S. Francesco. When Pietro had returned from Rome, Giovanni, who was a gentle and well-bred person, formed a friendship with him, and, when the time appeared to have come, in the most adroit method that he knew, told him his desire. And so Pietro, who was very courteous and a lover of beautiful genius, agreed to have Raffaello: whereupon Giovanni, going off rejoicing to Urbino, took the boy, not without many tears on the part of his mother, who loved him dearly, and brought him to Perugia, where Pietro, after seeing Raffaello's method of drawing, and his beautiful manners and character, formed a judgment of him which time, from the result, proved to be very true.

Fontgombault Sermon for Palm Sunday: "In these dark days, an old world is dying -- May a renewed world rise in Christ!"

Palm Sunday

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
Fontgombault, April 5, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

We open now the way of Holy Week, a painful week, in the image of the time of epidemic we are going through. For the ceremonies, the churches' doors, as well as the houses' doors, will remain closed.

May the Lord come and visit us, as His disciples after His resurrection, “Januis clausis,” the doors being closed. He will make light of any closed door, if the hearts' doors are open to Him. Far away from the churches, revive your family liturgy by the meditation of the so rich liturgical texts, the Rosary, the practice of a true charity between yourselves. Dioceses and communities make several tools available.

Imitate the Apostles before Pentecost:

Palm Sunday 2020: Anima Christi, santifica me...

Passio Christi, conforta me. O bone Iesu, exaudi me.   Intra vulnera tua absconde me.

Paix Liturgique: the state of the TLM around the world

The first Solemn Traditional Mass celebrated in Puerto Rico
since 1970s, reported in Gregorius Magnus

By João Silveira, for Paix Liturgique
Just as we did last year, we are publishing a one-of-a-kind status report on the traditional Mass. Christian Marquant, president of Paix Liturgique, here gives it in an informal presentation. In 2018 he gave three interviews in a row (Letters 102, 103,104) in which he provided, as precisely as possible, figures on the spread of the traditional liturgy over the whole world as well as on the priests and faithful who keep it going.

What were the results for 2019?

Stabat Mater Dolorosa: Dolorous Mother, Protect Us!

Dear Dolorous Mother, protect us from pestilence, famine, and war!

"Meditations on Death" - Part 6: A Lenten Series by Father Konrad zu Loewenstein

Part 6
A Lenten Guest Series by 
Father Konrad zu Loewenstein


a) The Death of the Sinner
St. Francis Borgia helping a dying impenitent (Goya)

‘My life is cut off as by a weaver; while I was yet beginning, he cut me off’ (Is 38.12). How many have been overtaken and cut off by death, while they were arranging worldly projects devised with so much labour. Others are given a time to prepare, by a shorter or longer illness.

Imagine yourself at the bed-side of a negligent Christian, overpowered by a malady with but a few hours yet to live. Behold him oppressed by pains, swoons, and suffocation; by want of breath, by cold perspirations; his reason so impaired that he feels but little, understands little, and can speak but little. We see by experience that such persons think only of their illness, of the physicians to be called to attend them, and of the remedies which may restore their health.

‘They are incapable of having any other thought than that of themselves’ says St. Lorenzo Giustiniani, and none of their relatives or friends has the courage to announce to them the advent of death, and to advise them to receive the Last Sacraments. If some-one does so, the dying man soon grows weary, and begs to be allowed to repose. He complains of a head-ache, and says it pains him to hear any-one speak. Or else he makes some reply, but is confused and knows not what he is saying.

If he does believe at all, what peace can he enjoy when he sees that in but a few moments he shall appear before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, Whose law and friendship he has till then despised? His sins will encompass him around, and say, in the words of St. Bernard: ‘We are your works, we will not desert you’.

To conquer bad habits, St. Augustine had to fight against them for 12 years. How will the dying man, who has always lived in sin, be able, in the midst of the pains, the stupefaction, and the confusion of death to repent sincerely of his past? His mind is darkened and his heart is hardened. ‘He that loveth danger shall perish in it’ ( 3.27). St. Jerome teaches that of 100,000 sinners who continue in it till their death, scarcely one will be saved. St Vincent Ferrier writes that it is a greater miracle that such a one should be saved than to raise the dead to life.

Furthermore the devils will gather together and exert all their strength to assure the perdition of his soul, if indeed it is in doubt. They know that they have little time to gain it, and if they lose it at death, then they shall have lost it forever. ‘Behold the devil is come down upon you, with great wrath, knowing that he has but little time’ (Apoc 12.12). Not just one, but innumerable devils will assail him. One will say: ‘Fear not, you will recover’; another will say: ‘For years you have been deaf to God’s inspirations: how do you expect Him to have mercy on you now?’ Another will ask: ‘How can you ever repair the damage to the character of your neighbours?’ Another will say: ‘Your confessions were all invalid.’

The attacks of the devils, the certainty of his coming death, the thought of being obliged soon to take leave of everything in this world, the remorse of conscience, the time lost, the want of time present, the impossibility of conversion, the rigour of the divine judgment, the thought of eternal damnation: all these things will form a horrible tempest in his heart. And meanwhile his reason wavers, his mind darkens, and his whole frame is assailed by the pains of approaching death and the onslaught of the devils, and thus, full of confusion and terror, the dying sinner will pass into the other world. ‘The people shall be troubled and they shall pass’ (Job 34. 20).

‘Ah my God!’ exclaims St. Alphonsus, ‘Had I died on one of those nights known to Thee, where should I be now? I thank Thee for having waited on me; I thank Thee for all the time which I should have spent in Hell from the first moment that I offended Thee. Give me light and make me aware of the evil I have done Thee in voluntarily losing Thy Grace, which Thou didst merit for me by Thy death on the Cross!’ Amen.

b) The Death of the Repentant Sinner and the Saint

i) Confidence necessary at Death

God, Who is by nature Infinite Goodness, as St. Leo says, has an infinite desire to impart His own happiness to us, and therefore desires not to punish, but to have mercy on, us. ‘Return to Me,’ says the Lord, and I will receive thee’ (Jer. 3.1); ‘Turn to Me... and I will turn to you, says the Lord of Hosts’ (Zac 1.3).

With what love and tenderness does not God embrace the repentant sinner? The Good Shepherd lays the lost sheep on his shoulders rejoicing, and, coming home, calls together his friends and neighbours telling them: ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep who was lost.’ The Father runs from afar to meet and to embrace the prodigal son, and says to his other son: ‘This thy brother was dead and has returned to life; he was lost & is found’(Lk 15).

God, says Origenes, is more solicitous for our salvation than the devil is for our perdition, for the Lord loves our souls far more than the devil hates them. If the devil comes on death to tempt the dying Christian, the guardian angel will resist him together with the man’s his holy patrons; St Michael whom God has appointed to defend His faithful servants in their last combat will come, as also the divine Mother protect her child, and to drive away the devils from him. Above all Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself will come to guard that innocent or penitent sheep for whose salvation He has given His life on the Cross.

At death, the judgment of God excites fear for all, but if sinners pass from terror to despair, the saints rise from fear to confidence. ‘God does not permit us to be tempted above our strength’ (1 Cor 10.13). ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?’ (Ps. 26) ‘The Lord is my helper’ (Ps 29). When St. Bernard was tempted to despair, He said to the Saviour: ‘Thy wounds are my merits’; St. Hilarion, similarly tempted, said: ‘Go forth, my soul, what do you fear? Have you not served Christ for 70 years? And are you now afraid of death?’

But how can any-one be certain that God has forgiven his sins? ‘He can be certain’, replies St. Basil, ‘if he says: I have hated and abhorred iniquity.’ St. Claude de la Colombi`ere held it morally impossible that the man that had been faithful to God during life, should die a bad death; and St Augustine writes: ‘He who has lived well cannot die badly.’ What is true of the saints who have always lived well is also true of penitent sinners who have made a sincere conversion after grave sin. The Church teaches dogmatically that only the mortal sinner will be condemned. To have complete confidence in salvation at death, all that is necessary is, then, to be in the state of Grace.