Rorate Caeli

Interview with Peter Kwasniewski in Czech Newspaper RC Monitor, on Liturgy, Music, Philosophy, Traditionalism

Mr. Andrej Kutarna, a writer, publisher, and photographer who lives near the city of Prague, asked me to give an interview in anticipation of the upcoming launch of the Czech edition of my book Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church. (See here for more details about the book launch on Friday, October 14, at which Cardinal Burke has graciously agreed to be present.) A Czech translation of the interview, slightly abridged, was published in this week's issue of Res Claritas Monitor 13 (2016), n. 18 (PDF link here; see pp. 11-14). The full Czech version may be viewed here at Mr. Kutarna's site.

Rorate Caeli has received exclusive permission to publish the original English interview in full.


Aristotle, Aquinas, Plato
Mr. Kutarna: How did you come to the TLM? How was your first encounter with the “Mass of the Ages”?

Dr. Kwasniewski: My journey into the traditional liturgy was gentle and gradual. I grew up in a very typical suburban American parish and sang in its children’s choir and, later, adult choir. The liturgy was very “contemporary” in style, but I didn’t know that at the time.

In high school two things happened: I got involved in a charismatic prayer group, which re-animated my faith, and I took a course in philosophy that brought me into contact with Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. After a couple of years, my interest in the charismatic prayer group waned, but my intellectual life soared. I began to study theology, too, and had a vague longing for a form of prayer and liturgy that would correspond to the depth and breadth of philosophy and theology. Without knowing it, I was searching for the traditional worship of the Church, which was born of the ancient Fathers, developed by the medievals, and faithfully handed down to us from Trent onwards. 

I was fortunate to attend a college [Thomas Aquinas College] where the Ordinary Form of the Mass was celebrated always in Latin and with Gregorian chant. This pleased me very much because it seemed like what I had been looking for. But then, towards the end of my four years there, I had several opportunities to attend Tridentine “low Masses.” The intensity of silence, the palpable holiness, the richness of the prayers, gripped me powerfully. 

When I went on to graduate school at the Catholic University of America, I made a priority of finding out where this Mass was celebrated in Washington, D.C., and ended up at Old St. Mary’s, where I experienced a Missa cantata for the first time. At this point, I felt I had finally “come home” as a Catholic: this was the point of arrival, what I had been searching for. That was over 20 years ago, and I have never wavered in this conviction. I fell in love and I am still in love – it is like a good marriage!

Mr. Kutarna: You are a lecturer in philosophy, composer and conductor of sacred music, and you write passionately about liturgy. Some people may regard this as a very broad variety of subjects. How would you describe the connection between them? 

Dr. Kwasniewski: I myself am surprised that my life has led in so many directions, and I have to admit that it is hard, practically speaking, to cultivate them all. But I learned early on that they complement one another. So many great minds—think of Socrates and Boethius, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, Pieper and Ratzinger—recognize the deep connection between music, philosophy, religion, and life. 

When I was first studying philosophy, I had a nagging sense that moderns were neglecting the religious dimension of ancient thought, and then I discovered the work of Pierre Hadot and others, who showed that philosophy is always rooted in a primordial religious quest and in traditional practices of askesis, and that it culminates in a mystical ascent to the Good. This, of course, is the natural disposition for supernatural grace. The Incarnation is God’s answer to the fundamental question posed by our very humanity in all its marvelous distinctness and potentiality. 

St. Clement of Alexandria says that Christ is the New Song, the Logos taking flesh as a hymn of creation in which we can all join. Music is speech elevated, exultant; through singing, what might be a mere truth (say, a sentence of Scripture or of the liturgy) is elevated to praise, homage, glory. In this way, I see an internal sequence: the examination of human nature and the world gives rise to philosophy; philosophy pursued with honesty and zeal gives rise to the desire for worship of the Transcendent; this worship in its perfection is liturgical and musical. To me, these subjects are a continuum.

Directing a choir in Austria
Mr. Kutarna: What was “first” — did liturgy lead you to music or was it the other way round?

Dr. Kwasniewski: My experience of the liturgy was always connected with music, even when the quality of the music happened to be poor. So I had a deep sense that these two things naturally went together. Thanks to Ratzinger, I now understand much better why this is true, but in order to have that sense, one simply needs to be immersed in the phenomena. 

A huge turning point for me was discovering Gregorian chant at the end of high school. A music teacher gave me a Graduale Romanum from the 1940s, and I was fascinated by the neums and the texts, neither of which I could read. In college, I took Latin (it was a required subject) and joined a chant schola. Singing the proper chants each week at Mass (in the Ordinary Form!), I completely fell in love with their beauty, subtlety, and piety. This “musical conversion” paralleled my discovery that liturgy could and should be celebrated in a way that was theocentric and vertical, rather than anthropocentric and horizontal. And, of course, it paved the way for my discovery of the traditional Mass, which is God-oriented through and through, saturated with the piety of centuries of Christian tradition.

Mr. Kutarna: To the upcoming book. The title of your book—both in English [Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis] and in Czech [Povstávání z prachu]—suggests that the Church is in some sort of crisis. Could you shortly describe where do you think the root of this crisis lies?

Dr. Kwasniewski: There are many aspects of the crisis, needless to say, and it is not always easy to make a diagnosis of the root problem, particularly as it may differ from one area of the Church to another (what may be true of Europe and North America may not be the same in Africa or in Asia). But I think we can be confident of the correctness of Joseph Ratzinger’s judgment: “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy” (Milestones: Memoirs 1927–1977). This is a judgment shared by Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Cañizares-Llovera, Cardinal Sarah, and many other astute observers of our times. 

In our rush to dialogue with the world, in our accommodation of the ideas (and idols) of modernity, and in our embrace of pastoral activism, we have forgotten the primacy of God, the primacy of the liturgical prayer, the primacy of tradition, and the primacy of grace. This is a fatal blow to the Church in her human element. After all, Our Lord promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, which means that somewhere she will always survive until the Second Coming of Christ. He never promised that any local church would survive—and just as Islam wiped out Christianity in Africa and Asia Minor in ancient times, so the spirit of compromise with modernity has been wiping out Christianity in the Western world of today. There will always be pockets of faithful Catholics who hold fast to orthodoxy, which means both “right doctrine” and “right worship.” But that there is a crisis of faith, and that this crisis has been precipitated by the poor decisions and the faulty philosophy of the ecclesiastical hierarchy over the past half-century, only a man deaf and blind could deny.

Mr. Kutarna: In the countries behind the Iron Curtain we maybe haven't experienced the post-conciliar liturgical mess in such an extent as in the Western Europe or the U.S. Do you think the usus antiquior may be important even in our liturgically rather conservative context?

Dr. Kwasniewski: I would say two things to the question. 

First, it is becoming more and more known that the liturgical reform operated on the basis of radical principles, which found their way into the resulting liturgical books. One example is the manner in which the redactors of the Missal systematically removed or downplayed asceticism and the theme of contemptus mundi [contempt of the world] that is so much a part of Catholic spirituality; another example is the introduction of new Eucharistic anaphoras in the Roman Rite, even though for over 1,500 years it had only a single one, the ancient and venerable Roman Canon. “Difficult” passages of Scripture were suppressed that had been read for as many centuries as we have records. There were also deformations in the Divine Office, such as the abandonment of the weekly cursus, the omission of “difficult” psalm verses, and serious meddling with the texts of the hymns. Such moves are startling innovations and monumental ruptures with an unbroken tradition. Things like this are serious issues, regardless of whether or not the ars celebrandi is reverent and respectful of the rubrics and the texts. 

Second, it is only a matter of time before the liturgical liberalism of other “more advanced” nations negatively affects Eastern Europe. We see how political, economic, and cultural liberalism have already begun to “colonize” Eastern Europe. The same will happen with liturgical abuses, novelties, and heresies. For instance, Poland, one of the few nations to have stood strong against the abuse of communion in the hand, finally capitulated in 2005, surely due to ongoing pressure from what we call “the liturgical establishment.” It is therefore urgently necessary to rediscover our Catholic tradition and to do so from its pure and fresh sources.

Mr. Kutarna: Many people (even priests and bishops) seem to think that the popularity of TLM is just a temporary fad among the younger generation, a fad driven by some kind of fear of the complexity of life in the postmodern era. Why do you disagree? 

Dr. Kwasniewski: If I may cite Pope Benedict XVI once more: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too . . . It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” 

Human nature in its essence does not change; the natural symbols used by religion (fire, water, incense, gold, elevated places, facing east, etc.) do not change; our need for churches, vessels, vestments, and furnishings that are special, splendid, numinous, “out of the ordinary,” does not change. 

If anything, modern man is more in need of the prayers and practices of traditional Catholicism, because he is in very great danger of forgetting his dependence on God, on the natural world, and on tradition. We would not exist without God; we cannot live well unless we have a proper relationship to creation; and Christianity could not exist without tradition. The reality of God, the honor and glory due to Him, the right use and destination of created goods, and the fullness of Christian tradition—all of these are found, harmoniously and provocatively, in the traditional liturgies of the Church, Eastern and Western. 

It is not fear that drives the traditionalist, but love of excellence and hatred of banality. It is not a fad but a deeply-felt hunger and thirst for the unequivocally sacred. God Himself is the source of this hunger and thirst, and He will never stop causing it among the faithful. 

The Church of the future
Mr. Kutarna: In the first chapter of your book you offer a statement that the TLM is the ultimate “children’s Mass.” Why do you think so?

Dr. Kwasniewski: For me, it’s a simple thing. If you have a boring liturgy with a lot of people talking all the time and nothing special happening, nothing interesting to look at or listen to, children will be bored. If you have the awesome sound of the pipe organ, the mysterious melodies of the chant, the archaic majesty of the Latin tongue, the swinging of censers with billowing clouds of smoke, elaborate chasubles and copes passing in procession or facing solemnly the high altar and its tabernacle, ministers caught up in a sacred choreography, a whole church hushed in silence for the great Canon, and so forth, what child would not pay attention, come under the sway of this symphony of symbols, get caught up in its transcendent motion, and be slowly, permanently formed in a Catholic imagination and sensibility? It does not matter if a child fully understands it or not—none of us fully understands the divine! The liturgy should be a kind of infinite expanse that one never reaches the end of, to match the human soul’s capacity for the infinite. If worship is excessively tailored to us, to our everyday mode of operation, it will quickly lose its efficacy, and people will cease to be Catholic. 

Mr. Kutarna: Many Catholics who are looking for an alternative to the Novus Ordo often frequent the Divine Liturgies of Eastern Catholic churches.  How would you describe the principal difference in emphasis between TLM and the Eastern liturgies?

Dr. Kwasniewski: I love the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and attend it regularly myself. It has been pointed out by many authors that the Eastern liturgies in general are more vocally participative, extroverted, joyous, and centered on the Resurrection, while Western liturgies incorporate more silence and singing by scholas, are more “interior” in their manner, and focus on the mystery of the Passion of Our Lord. 

I think this is certainly true, but we mustn’t forget that the great historic liturgies have much in common, in their texts (think of the constant doxologizing), their “ethos” of solemnity, their embrace of the beauty of traditional music and architecture, and their great sensitivity to the symbolic value of every word and gesture (nothing is left to spontaneity or extemporaneity). In this sense, I find that attending Byzantine liturgy, even one in English with a lot of congregational singing, is much more like attending a Tridentine Mass than it is like attending a Novus Ordo Mass, because of the rich prayers, the formal attitude, the solemn ceremonial. It has an ancient (and therefore timeless) “feel.”

Mr. Kutarna: Is the traditional Latin Mass the only way out of this crisis—to the renewal of the Church?

Dr. Kwasniewski: A widespread restoration of the traditional Latin liturgy would, in fact, strongly reverse the trends of secularization, relativism, indifferentism, and modernism that are ravaging the Church. But there is also no doubt that people abandon the practice of the Faith for many reasons, and insipid, uninspiring liturgy is only one of them. Conversely, good liturgy is not the only thing necessary; we need good preaching, sound catechesis, robust social fellowship and support, the pursuit of spiritual and corporal works of mercy. But if the liturgy is done badly, nothing else will work, either. It is part of the divine economy: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well.”

Mr. Kutarna: One of the topics close to your heart is obviously sacred music. Is there anything like a “proper” liturgical music or is music at Masses only to be the choice of the pastor or the faithful? Should the sacred music be considered only a mere accompanying factor to the liturgy or does it play some more substantial role?

The Catholic Church has a very beautiful teaching about sacred music, which unfortunately most Catholics don’t know about. The root principles are given in Pope St. Pius X’s motu proprio Tra le Sollecitudini and repeated in many subsequent magisterial documents. Sacred music should be holy—that is, it should be characterized by a recognizable and palpable holiness. You should be able to hear it and say “This is music for the temple of God; this is not profane or secular music.” This is not music from the cinema or from Broadway or from the disco or the campfire, but it’s music for the temple of God. Second, it should be good; it should be artistically well-crafted and noble. Nothing of poor quality, nothing shoddy, nothing that’s trite or banal. The third quality he talks about is that it should be universal. It should be such as to characterize the Catholic Church, which is the same all throughout the world, which celebrates the same mysteries with fixed liturgical rites. So, in other words, it shouldn’t be the music of a particular tribe or camp or school or subculture. It should be as universal as possible. 

Pope Pius X says Gregorian chant is perfectly these three things, it’s the exemplar. It’s holy, it’s artistically beautiful, and it’s universal. This is why it’s the normative music, the gold standard. Therefore, other music is welcome into the temple to the extent that it embodies these qualities of chant. Renaissance polyphony deserves special praise because it derives its melodic vocabulary and liturgical spirit from the chant.

Mr. Kutarna: Why is Gregorian chant superior to devotional songs in vernacular? Did not the Council ask to promote the vernacular? 

Dr. Kwasniewski: In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council Fathers reiterated this teaching of St. Pius X and went on to say something no pope or ecumenical council had ever said before—namely, that because Gregorian Chant is the music proper to the Roman Rite, it should have the chief place (or as some translations say, “pride of place”), in the liturgy. No qualifications were made: in each and every liturgy. Even with the proviso “everything else being equal,” the Council is saying that chant should still have chief place because it’s the very music of the rite. It’s not just music tacked on to the rite, it’s the music that grew up with it, “bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh.” Gregorian chant is the Roman rite in its musical vesture. 

What’s more, the Council explicitly supported the retention of Latin in the liturgy and merely expanded the possibilities of the use of the vernacular. It is unthinkable that the Fathers intended to jettison a musical heritage of over 1,000 years; it certainly cannot be supported from the documents of the Council.

Mr. Kutarna: In an ideal world without the likes of Msgr. Bugnini, how do you imagine the liturgical recommendations of Sacrosanctum Concilium (and Vatican II more broadly) could or should have been implemented?

Dr. Kwasniewski: In retrospect, I think we are in a better position to see that some of what got into the documents of the Second Vatican Council was ephemeral enthusiasm from the 1960s that is now very dated.  The Constitution on the Liturgy lays down general theological principles that have permanent validity but goes on to propose many particular changes, which are not doctrinal matters but disciplinary and therefore prudential in nature. Looking back, we can ask whether, e.g., the suppression of Prime was really necessary; whether “useless repetition” is really so useless after all; whether the Church calendar really needed anything more than superficial refinements, as opposed to a massive overhaul. In other words, many pages of this Constitution have not aged well and are a bit embarrassing now to look at; they are better forgotten, along with much else from the 1960s. Indeed, it seems to me that the way forward is to get beyond the insistence on the 1962 missal (which, admittedly, serves as a necessary reference point) and return to a healthier stage of the rite, namely, as it was found in 1948, before experts began to meddle with the substance of it.

On the other hand, this much seems clear: the call for a fuller participatio actuosa, which is not an invention of Vatican II but a desideratum of St. Pius X, has still not been achieved in most traditional Catholic communities, inasmuch as the people do not sing—or worse, are discouraged from singing—the Ordinary of the Mass in Gregorian chant. Moreover, the Propers of the Mass are frequently not chanted, either because they are replaced with psalm tones and motets, or because the Low Mass is taken as the norm rather than the Sung Mass. In my opinion, these are serious deficiencies that need to be addressed over time in the traditional milieu.

Mr. Kutarna: How can a lay person without a nearby TLM community join in the renewal as you propose it in the book?

Dr. Kwasniewski: The first thing I would recommend is to adopt some part of the traditional Divine Office for personal recitation. The Divine Office, too, is part of the public liturgy of the Church, and when we pray it, we are uniting ourselves to the prayer of Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body. One could start modestly with Prime and Compline; those who have more time could do Lauds or Vespers. 

As a Benedictine oblate, I am very fond of the “bread and butter” spirituality of the monks: in addition to the Divine Office, doing some lectio divina or prayerful reading of Scripture, or reading slowly a good book by a Father or Doctor of the Church. All of this is part of the forgotten treasury of the Church and is therefore an important component in the renewal.

As a teacher, I am a huge advocate of ongoing education. People need to read good books about dogma, the liturgy, the saints, and spread these books among their friends. Magazines and blogs can be helpful, too, in this regard, as long as they do not take the place of reading real books (especially the Bible, the Missal, the Divine Office).

Above all, I would say that even a person who lives far from a TLM community should do his best to get to a traditional Mass at least once in a while, to “recharge the batteries,” so to speak. In my life there have been times when, due to vacation schedules, the TLM has been unavailable for months at a time. I have always been amazed at how a single Mass during such a period can be like an oasis in a desert. Yes, it’s painful to be reminded of what one normally lacks, but it is also a blessing, a consolation, an opportunity to renew one’s commitment to Christ, His Church, and Catholic Tradition.

IMPORTANT: International Declaration of Fidelity to the Church's Unchangeable Doctrine and Uninterrupted Discipline on Marriage (Sign it as well !)

80 Catholic personalities reaffirm their loyalty to the Magisterium of the Church on the family and Catholic morals

A Declaration of Fidelity to the Church’s Unchangeable Teaching on Marriage and to Her Uninterrupted Discipline was disclosed today by a group of 78 Catholic personalities, including cardinals, bishops, priests, eminent scholars, leaders of pro-family and pro-life organizations and influential figures of civil society.

The statement was disclosed by the association Supplica Filiale [Filial Appeal], the same organization that collected, between the two Synods on the family, nearly 900,000 signatures of Catholic faithful (including 211 prelates) in support of a petition asking Pope Francis a word of clarification to dissipate the confusion disseminated in the Church on key issues of natural and Christian morality since the consistory of February 2014.

Noting that the confusion has only grown in the faithful after the two Synods on the family and the subsequent publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (with its more or less official adjacent interpretations), the signatories of the Declaration of Fidelity feel the urgent moral duty to reaffirm the immemorial teaching of the Catholic magisterium on marriage and family and the pastoral discipline practiced for centuries with regard to these basic institutions of a Christian civilization. This grave duty, according to the signatories, becomes even more urgent in view of the growing attack that secularist forces are unleashing against marriage and the family; an attack that does not seem to find any more the accustomed barrier in Catholic doctrine and practice, at least in the way they are now generally presented to public opinion.

Solidly supported by a crystalline and indisputable teaching, confirmed by the Church in recent years, the Declaration is concatenated around 27 statements upholding those truths explicitly or implicitly denied or rendered ambiguous in the present ecclesial language. According to the signatories, what is at stake are unchangeable doctrines and practices concerning, for example, faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the respect due to this Sacrament, the impossibility of receiving Communion in a state of mortal sin, the conditions of true repentance that enable to receive sacramental absolution, the observance of the Sixth Commandment of the Law of God, the most serious obligation not to give public scandal and not lead the people of God to sin or to relativize good and evil; the objective limits of consciousness when taking personal decisions, etc.

The Declaration of Fidelity is already available in English and Italian and it will soon be available also in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Whoever wants to adhere to it can do so by signing at the address 

(* For more information contact


"Let marriage be honored among all" (Heb. 13: 4)

Declaration of Fidelity to the Church’s Unchangeable Teaching on Marriage and to Her Uninterrupted Discipline

(Full text of the Declaration after list of Signatories at the end of this post)

Errors about true marriage and family are widespread today in Catholic circles, particularly after the Extraordinary and Ordinary Synods on the family and the publication of Amoris Laetitia.

Sermon for the Feast of San Gennaro (St. Januarius): Preserve Catholic Culture!

by Fr. Richard Gennaro Cipolla

September 25, 2016
Church of the Most Precious Blood
and National Shrine of San Gennaro
New York City

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.  Luke 7:37

What a wonderful thing to come to this church of the Most Precious Blood and the shrine of San Gennaro to celebrate this Solemn Votive Mass of San Gennaro!  This church is redolent with a century’s worth of religious and cultural memories centered around the feast of San Gennaro.  We know little about the saint’s life, but the most important information comes from St. Paulinus of Nola, who said:  he was bishop as well as martyr, an illustrious member of the Neapolitan church.”.  San Gennaro was martyred in the Diocletian persecutions, together with Festus, his deacon, and others from the Naples area.  But what everyone knows about him is that his blood, put into 2 vials by a pious woman after his beheading, liquefies on his feast day and two other times in the year.  So we can imagine what went on in Naples this past Monday, as the crowds gathered at the Cathedral to witness the liquefaction of San Gennaro’s blood.  The Church blesses this celebration but has no official statement on this phenomenon.

Visit of Cardinal Burke to the Czech Republic -- FULL SCHEDULE

Rorate Caeli has been asked us to make known the schedule of Cardinal Burke's upcoming visit to the Czech Republic, particularly for our central European readers who may wish to attend the Pontifical Masses and the Cardinal's lectures. 

(I am happy to say, too, that the launch of the Czech edition of my book Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis will take place in the midst of these events. I will be present and will give a lecture.)

Visit of His Eminence Raymond Leo Card. Burke in the Czech Republic

Program of public events:

Rorate on the Road ... in Irving, Texas

Rorate was on the road today and, this time, we were in Texas at Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish in Irving (just outside Dallas). The church is run by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).

While we travel the globe and go to many traditional Latin Mass sites, we normally do not post pictures of the historic churches we visit in the major cities, and focus rather on the little-mentioned yet wonderful experiences we have in smaller towns.

The Francis Effect: "Catholic" schools and sexual education

NB: As if Catholic parents needed yet another reason to homeschool their kids and keep them out of the typical Catholic schools tied to a Novus Ordo church, news comes from Tennessee where the local ordinary has denied the parents' role as primary educators, and forced their sons into perverted sex education. Don't forget that it was Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia that called for "educational institutions" to provide already-condemned sexual education to our children.

Bishop Choby, sans collar and cassock.

U.S. bishop makes ‘erotic’ sex-ed mandatory, cites Vatican sex-ed to parents wanting opt-out

A U.S. Catholic bishop has explicitly refused to allow parents to opt their kids out of a diocesan-run school’s sex-ed program deemed by parents to be “erotic” and “salacious,” calling the program a “legitimate requirement” for graduation.
Instead of listening to the parents’ concerns, the bishop has cited the Vatican’s newly minted and problematic sex-ed curriculum as a way to evaluate the school’s program.

Guest Op-Ed: Ecclesiological problems with communion for adulterers

By Veronica A. Arntz

The Church as a Liturgical Community:

Ecclesiological Problems with Communion for the Divorced and Remarried

As the drama of Communion for the divorced and remarried continues to unfold, especially with the recent papal letter to the Argentinian bishops, Robert Royal made a stunning yet accurate remark in his recent article, “A Bizarre Papal Move”: “Indeed, Catholics have a new teaching now, not only on divorce and remarriage. We have a new vision of the Eucharist.” If we say that certain individuals who are divorced and remarried, and thus living in an adulterous union, can receive Communion, then we have indeed changed our understanding of the Eucharist. No longer is it a matter of discerning the Body and Blood of our Lord (see 1 Corinthians 11:27-29), but rather, the Eucharist becomes “a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (Evangelii Gaudium, art. 47).

Rather than recognizing our infinite failings and sins and refraining from receiving the Lord, if the condition of our soul necessitates such an action, the Eucharist has now become a mere remedy for anyone who would wish to receive him. This offense to the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord would be enough to lead us to condemnation. However, this change in our perception of the Eucharist extends to how we understand the Church—thus, in changing the way we approach the Eucharist, we inevitably change the nature of the Church as a whole.

Saints of the Old Testament: St. Jonas, prophet

While many of the faithful today observe the fast of Ember Wednesday with works of penance and mortification, and the Church Universal celebrates the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist, many other heroes of faith and sanctity are also commemorated this day. Among them is yet another of the Old Testament saints whom the Church annually venerates. Standing immediately after St. Matthew in the list of saints for "This Day, the Twenty-First Day of September," we find the following notice of a heavenly birthday  in the traditional Roman Martyrology:

In the land of Saar, the holy prophet Jonas, who was buried in Geth.

The account of "Jonah and the whale" is one of the best known stories in the Bible, teaching us of the importance of humble obedience to God's calling, the holy justice of God, the salvific power of penance, and God's triumphant mercy and forgiveness of sinners whether Jew or Gentile. On two separate occasions, when the Jewish people sought a miraculous "sign" from the Lord Jesus, He directed their attention to the wondrous works that God accomplished in and through St. Jonas:

Thomas Merton on post-Vatican II liturgy

Many of us know priests who love the traditional Latin Mass some days while celebrating a novus ordo liturgy with Vatican II novelties such as Gospel bands and altar girls other days. This liturgical schizophrenia -- truly nothing short of a bi-polar approach to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass -- was apparently exemplified by the prominent Trappist Father Louis, OCSO (born Thomas Merton).

For Father Louis (his religious name that appears on his tombstone, above), his liturgical sensibilities began in quite the traditional manner.  In his 1948 autobiography "The Seven Storey Mountain", he wrote of his love of "the warmth of Gregorian chant" and noted his first attendance at Mass (before converting) was an August 1938 Low Mass at Corpus Christi church in New York, where he was impressed by even a music-free liturgy.

In that famous book, he also described walking into "old Zion church", his parents' house of worship in Douglaston, Long Island, New York.  Note the implicit connection between congregational singing, Americanism and Protestantism:

"Then there was a lectern, shaped like an eagle with outspread wings, on which rested a huge Bible. Nearby was an American flag, and above that was one of those little boards they have in Protestant churches, on which the numbers of the hymns to be sung are indicated by black and white cards."

In the 1960s, Father Louis would get caught up in the spirit of Vatican II, but he also showed some misgiving.  A recent article by Gregory K. Hillis, an associate professor of theology at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, highlighted some of these quotes in the context of embracing "really groovy" Mass insanity in 1967, while writing numerous letters in the same decade opposing the reforms that led to the novus ordo (which he did not live to see). From the article:

An update from Norcia

The monks have asked us to share this with you:

Sermon for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost: the Dark Night of the Soul

by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla
Parish of St. Mary
Norwalk, Connecticut
The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy

From the Gospel of St. Matthew:  “ My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”.
From the Gospel of St. John:  “I thirst”.

Many years ago I tried to read The Story of a Soul by St Thérèse of Lisieux.  I was about to enter the Catholic Church and thought I should read this because of St Thérèse’s great popularity in the Church, the Little Flower.  I could not get through it.  I found it saccharine and too much late nineteenth century French piety.  While I was teaching in New York City and just after I was received into the Catholic Church,  I used to go to Mass early in the morning at Corpus Christi Church on the Upper West Side.  I liked the pastor very much, a very intelligent man and somewhat of a curmudgeon. One morning he gave a brief homily on St Thérèse’s feast day, and he described her as a woman of steel.  I was quite taken aback. A woman of steel.  Coming from him this was high praise, so I went back to the Story of a Soul and read it through.  The best part for me was toward the end, when she describes in veiled but real terms her struggle with her faith.  This spurred me on to read her Last Conversations, where that struggle is more apparent.  A few months before her death she said to Mother Agnes:  “Look! Do you see the black hole where we can see nothing: it’s in a similar hole that I am as far as body and soul are concerned.  Ah! What darkness!  But I am at peace.”  She did not receive Holy Communion for the last few months of her life.  On her deathbed she heard voices telling her that heaven was just a figment of her imagination Her Sisters thought she refused to receive Communion out of fear that she would desecrate it in a coughing spell  But that was not it at all.  It was the darkness that she knew as an absence of faith.  It was that book that made me understand her as a woman of steel, and she became a real spiritual force in my priesthood.

Op-Ed: "Adultery as a venial sin" -- and other absurdities of trying to defend the indefensible Francis Doctrine

Nathan rebukes King David for his Adultery (Eugène Siberdt)

Dr. Jeffrey Mirus on marriage and the Eucharist

by Dr. John Lamont

Dr. Jeffrey Mirus has recently published an article entitled ‘Not heretical: Pope Francis’ approval of the Argentine bishops’ policy on invalid marriages’*. The object of this article is to argue that Pope Francis has not asserted or endorsed heresy in approving of a recent document issued by some Argentinian bishops concerning the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. To justify this conclusion, Dr. Mirus makes a number of claims about moral behaviour and the discipline of the sacraments. 

These claims urgently need to be addressed.

This discussion of Mirus’s assertions will not consider the rights and wrongs of the Argentinian bishops’ document itself and the Pope’s endorsement of it. Nonetheless it should be noted that Dr. Mirus’s article is somewhat misleading on this subject, because it gives the impression that the only objectionable part of this document is the permission it gives for the divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist. In fact the document in its paragraph 6 extends this permission to both absolution and reception of the Eucharist, and states that the divorced and remarried persons it refers to can grow in grace through these sacraments. This contents of this paragraph have been addressed by a group of Catholic scholars, who have drawn up theological censures of heretical and erroneous propositions that could be attributed to Amoris Laetitia and have asked the college of cardinals and the patriarchs of the Church to petition the Pope to condemn these propositions. These censures were sent privately, but were leaked to the media and are now publicly available. Paragraph 6 of the Argentinian bishops’ document endorses the propositions condemned in censures 6, 7, 11, 15, and 16 of the document sent to the cardinals, which are accessible here. The bishops’ statement thus has a broader scope than the issues addressed by Dr. Mirus, a scope whose extent can be grasped by considering their statement and the censures referred to above.

Final results of SSPX-Vatican Prelature Poll

Thank you to all who took part in our poll on the Vatican-proposed prelature for the Society of St. Pius X, details of which were presented by the SSPX Superior-General in recent talks, including one last month in New Zealand.

Of those readers who chose to take part in the poll, 77% said that the Prelature should be accepted, while 23% disagreed:

Once again, thank you for your participation!

The Real Source of Division in the Church

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
September 14, 2016


Information, disinformation, truths, half-truths and lies all seem to be jumbled up in the communication strategy of the Holy See. The history of the Church is being written through interviews, improvised discourses, articles on semi-official blogs and media-rumours, leaving the field wide open to all interpretations possible and giving rise to the suspicion that the confusion is deliberate.  

Two recent examples. 

The Francis Doctrine: On Communion to "Divorced and Remarried", one is either with Christ or with Lucifer

St. Ignatius under the Standard of Christ

From the very beginning of this ill-fated pontificate, this page was maligned for stating the obvious about Cardinal Bergoglio, and the prospects his positions brought to the papacy. 

For example, from the very beginning it was clear to us Francis wanted to impose on the Church the new doctrine of communion to the "divorced and remarried" (that is, those living in permanent state of sin, without the desire to end their sinful situation), the new German Doctrine. Other commentators tried to hide for as long as possible, even up to a few days ago, that the Pope wanted to personally impose upon the Church a doctrine that is absolutely and irrevocably opposed to the very words of Our Lord. 

Why so keen to impose it? Because that is what the wealthiest church, the German Church, the Church that was behind his very election as Pope, the Church that financed what the rebel Cardinals themselves called the "Mafia" that worked tirelessly for the overthrow of past moral positions and the election of Cardinal Bergoglio, wanted as well. One thing that cannot be said of Francis is that he is a man who does not keep his campaign promises!...

And why did the German Church want it so much? Because of the income derived from the "remarried" faithful by way of the "Church Tax", certainly. But also because liberal theologians who dominate the Church in Germany need this apparently small change in doctrine since it undermines at least three Sacraments at once: the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, Penance, and, last but certainly not least, Matrimony. And this is necessary because each reduction of meaning of the Sacraments makes the Church less "supernatural", less "divine", and a vehicle of merely human ideas -- as Pope St. Pius X recalled in Pascendi: "for the Modernists the Sacraments are mere symbols or signs, though not devoid of a certain efficacy - an efficacy, they tell us, like that of certain phrases vulgarly described as having 'caught on,' inasmuch as they have become the vehicle for the diffusion of certain great ideas which strike the public mind." (Pascendi, 21). In their view, therefore, an undermining of the divine demands of the Sacraments makes them more "human" and more "meaningful" for the secular understanding of the world and make the Church seem less "absurd" in the eyes of the world.

The Pope and the Vatican mocked at the Venice Film Festival

 Cristina Siccardi
Corrispondenza Romana
September 7, 2016

The figure of the Pope landed at the Venice Film Festival this year in the worst possible way imaginable. It was mocked at, sneered at and vilified by raconteurs of contemporary thought, covered up by artistic and intellectual skills.
The first two episodes (out of ten) of the TV series ‘The Young Pope’ were presented at the Venice Festival, directed by award-winning Paolo Sorrentino and produced by Sky, HBO and Canal+: a substantial investment for a product which, along with the Francis Pontificate, eliminates in toto the aura of sacredness around the  Pontiff.

Saint Augustine: Hope! The victory is going on without end

"...the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying: 'What think you of Christ, whose son is He?' They say to Him: 'David's.' He saith to them: 'How then doth David , in spirit, call Him Lord, saying: The Lord saith to My Lord: Sit on my right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?' If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man, from that day forth, ask Him any more questions." (Gospel for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, St. Matthew xxii)

"The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool" We ought, therefore, thoroughly to consider this question proposed to the Jews by the Lord ... . For if what the Jews answered be asked of us, whether we confess or deny it; God forbid that we should deny it. If it be said to us, 'Is Christ the Son of David, or not?'; If we reply, 'No', we contradict the Gospel ... . ...

For the record: Pope Francis confirms Amoris Laetitia allows communion for adulterers

Note: As Rorate has argued since day one of the first Synod -- Francis is leading the destruction of the family and the defiance of the words of Jesus Christ Himself. We've been told, also since day one, that we would be proved wrong, by laymen, priests and prelates. This is one time we wish they were right and we were wrong, but alas ...

September 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a letter reportedly leaked by a priest in Argentina, Pope Francis writes that there is “no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia other than one admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion in some cases. The letter, dated September 5, comes in response to a confidential document by the bishops of the Buenos Aires pastoral region to priests instructing them on the application of the Pope’s controversial apostolic exhortation. LifeSite has acquired copies of both original documents and has provided professional side-by-side translation.
The Spanish original of the letter from the Pope is here
The Spanish original of the bishops’ directive is here
LifeSiteNews’ translation of the Pope’s letter is here
LifeSiteNews’ translation of the bishops’ directive is here

Extensive Article on the problems of Amoris Laetitia -- English translation of the French original

In No. 136 of the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer’s quarterly review Sedes Sapientiæ, there is a commentary on Chapter 8 of Amoris Lætitia, written by Father Louis-Marie de Blignières (one of the 45 signatories of the Critique on Amoris Laetitia). This article, before its publication was sent to several bishops and cardinals who expressed their gratitude and agreement to the author. In particular, it received warm support from Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna and the first President of the John Paul II Institute on the Family: “It is an excellent text, which I endorse completely.” “It is one of the best studies I have read [on the matter].”

Take part in our poll! - Should SSPX accept Prelature offer made by Francis?

A few days ago, we posted the videos of Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, explaining to faithful in New Zealand what the offer of a Personal Prelature to the SSPX by the Vatican looks like.

So our Twitter poll this month (open for 7 days) asks you your opinion on the offer. Please, have a say!

New Mass Novena: Help the Benedictines of Mary build a new church!

UPDATE: The sisters need $1.5 million to break ground his Autumn. We're reposting this as we know many are away in the summer. Please open your hearts, and your wallets. May God reward you for helping: 

Whenever they ask, Rorate helps raise money for some of the greatest nuns God's blessed us with, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. And, every time, our dear readers have responded in incredible ways, enrolling in their Novena of Masses, purchasing their now-famous CDs, and more.

This time is more critical than ever, as the sisters are finally building their own church, as their temporary chapel cannot keep up with the great demand for vocations.

The Novena Mass Cards you'll receive in the mail are truly stunning: 

Guest Op-Ed - Maturity in the Faith: Avoiding the anonymous Christian theory in evangelization

                                                                                                                                By Veronica A. Arntz

In his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul writes that we must grow into the maturity of our faith. We read that members of the Church are given different gifts for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

These gifts are meant to be used until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles (Ephesians 4:13-14).

There are a few things to note here. First, attaining the full measure of the faith in Christ is not an autonomous process; rather, the Church as a whole is meant to strive for maturity in the faith. Second, as members of the Church, we are designed to attain a fullness of the faith not found in childish understanding. We cannot merely rely on simplistic doctrines or teachings; rather, we must fully embrace Christ’s call to pick up the cross and follow Him, which is a manifest teaching in all the Church’s doctrines. If we embrace the cross of Christ in His teachings and in our lives by attaining the “mature manhood” in Christ, we will be able to avoid those false doctrines, which can easily confuse those who are immature in the faith.

Saints of the Old Testament: St. Zacharias, prophet

In the traditional Roman Martyrology, the month of September has more commemorations of Old Testament saints than any other month. Today, only two days after the commemoration of Moses, through whom God inaugurated the Old Covenant with the Israelite people, we remember St. Zacharias the Prophet, through whom God announced that He would "make void my covenant, which I had made with all the people" (Zach. 11:10).  He heads today's martyrology, in fact:

This Day, the Sixth Day of September

The prophet Zachary, who returned in his old age from Chaldea to his own country, and lies buried near the prophet Aggeus.

Sermon for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost: What is True Humility?

by Father Richard G. Cipolla
Parish of St. Mary
Norwalk, Connecticut

From the Gospel:  “For he who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Is it not a non sequitur? The first part of the gospel is about Jesus’ eating with the Pharisees, the pious Jews who knew the Law.  Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees react:  is it lawful to heal a man on the Sabbath, since one cannot work on the Sabbath? So Jesus heals the man.  And then he tells a parable about humility.  Is this a nonsequitur?  The first part of the gospel is about the relationship between the Law and the demands of love.  The healing of the paralytic is an act of love on Jesus’ part.  We remember how the Pharisees asked Jesus which is the greatest commandment. And Jesus’ answer is swift:  You shall love the Lord your God with all you mind, heart, body and your neighbor as yourself. Then there comes the parable about humility in the form of the man invited to dinner.  You say:  this is Jesus’ commentary on what he saw at the Pharisees dinner, elbowing themselves to get the best seat.  Perhaps.  But I suggest that our Lord told this parable about humility for a deeper reason.

Another Latin term like virtus. This time it is humilitas.  The root of this word is the Latin word for ground, earth, humus.  This is humus with one m, no chick peas involved here. No.  Humilitas is the quality of living close to the ground. Now there are those who fake humility, those who pretend that the live close to the ground and have no aspirations to rise higher, no aspirations to get the best seats at the banquet. Literature is full of these phony people, from Dickens’ Uriah Heep to Moliere’s Tartuffe.  Frauds, But Jesus says:  blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, one of Newman’s favorite saying of our Lord.  The man who is truly humble knows himself so deeply that he assumes naturally that he has no business sitting at the head of the table anywhere and anytime.  And this has nothing to do with accepting the natural pecking order of things.  The man who is humble genuinely rejoices that someone else is chosen to sit in the place of honor, that others are held in great esteem, that others have worldly success, makes him happy. The humble man is a happy man. 

What Muslims are doing in our churches: Thousands of raids every year

Libero Quotidiano
August 31, 2016

There have also been recent cases (mainly reported in local newspapers but occasionally even in national newspapers) of Muslims going into churches, shouting, cursing and smashing sacred objects. 

However this alarm is not limited only to Italy. 

Saints of the Old Testament: St. Moses, lawgiver and prophet

It has been only three days since the traditional Roman Martyrology marked the deaths of the Old Testament saints Josue and Gedeon, as well as the death of St. Anna the Prophetess who lived to see the birth of the promised Messiah of Israel.  Yet another Old Testament saint -- in fact, the greatest and most significant of ancient Israel's saints -- is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology today. In recognition of his glorious memory, his name heads the list of today's martyrs and saints:
"This Day, the Fourth Day of September"

"On Mount Nebo, in the land of Moab, the holy lawgiver and prophet Moses."

Roman Forum 2017: Setting Right a World Turned Upside Down

We are pleased to announce the program of the 2017 Roman Forum Summer Symposium. This annual  symposium on the shores of Lake Garda is an important gathering of traditionalist intellectuals that has recently produced notable statements On the Ecclesial and Civilizational Crisis and Regarding the “Catholic” Apotheosis of Luther. We urge our readers to attend the symposium, or, if they are unable to attend, at least to support it through prayers and donations.

The Roman Forum
Twenty-Fifth Annual Summer Symposium
Gardone Riviera, Italy
(July 3rd-July 14th, 2017; 11 nights)

Setting Right a World Turned Upside Down:
Transformation in Christ Versus a Sickness Unto Death

Two commemorations will provide an extremely joyful framework for the Roman Forum’s next Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera. 2017 will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of this annual spiritual, academic, fraternal, and strategy-planning program of indispensable importance to the traditionalist world internationally. It will also be the tenth anniversary of Summorum pontificum, with all that that motu proprio has contributed to the advance of the cause of the “Mass of the Ages”.