Feast of the Ascension


In recent years it has been fashionable for the USCCB to transfer feasts to the next Sunday. The thinking behind this should be obvious, we don’t want people to feel guilty because they don’t bother to come to Mass, so we will move the feast to Sunday so people can still celebrate it without guilt.

The truth is, the only people so busy they can’t feasibly get to Mass on Holy Days during the week are those who are excused from the obligation anyway, such as doctors, law enforcement and firefighters, or those disabled or without transportation. Everyone else has the ability. The Churches could offer Mass in the evening or early in the morning, and it is not such a sacrifice that it can’t be done. The issue is, Mass attendance has dropped off sharply since Vatican II, and gets worse, thus Holy Days only sharpen the reality of the problem.

But we know that people can go, and if the Ascension Mass remained on Thursday in the Novus Ordo, or its obligation remained in the Traditional Mass which retains the feast on Thursday, people could go without difficulty. The Novus Ordo makes it superbly easy, since they have the vigil Mass the night before (which in my opinion is a mistake to offer carte blanche, because it is an occasion for abuse and degradation of Sunday, but that is for another day, the point is, they make it extremely easy). How do we know that everyone can go?


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F.S.S.P. Priestly Ordinations 2009


FSSP Ordination North America 2008

FSSP Ordination North America 2008

May 30, 10:00 A.M.

by His Excellency Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz


Cathedral of the Risen Christ

Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Rev. Mr. Brian Austin, F.S.S.P.
  • Rev. Mr. Matthew Goddard, F.S.S.P.
  • Rev. Mr. Michael Stinson, F.S.S.P.

Please keep these men in your prayers as they ascend to the altar of Our Lord.

Conclusions regarding the Laws that Regulate the TLM

missale-romanum-white-bgProblems of interpretation

The opinion has been advanced that all the laws of the Church that regulated the use of the Missal and the Sacraments in 1962 have been derogated and the revival of the 1962 Missal does not automatically revive those legal norms. The shocking consequence of this interpretation is that altar girls and the reception of Communion in the hand would be a legal possibility in using this Missal. This is clearly erroneous for at least six reasons.

  1. First, in the Motu Propio we do not have a revival of a previous rite which had been derogated, but to the contrary, due to the explicit legally binding declaration contained in Article 1 of this law, we have the very strong affirmation that the Missal of 1962 had never been abrogated. As a consequence, all the norms that regulate the way in which it should be used, are now in force. The contrary opinion is not reasonable because it would mean that the Missal would be in existence without the necessary support of all the norms that regulate its use; it is tantamount to affirming that this Missal exists in a legal vacuum. It is abhorrent to any sane legal interpretation of any law to postulate that something should live in a legal vacuum.
  2. Second, we have to consider the basic principle of legal interpretation that states that whoever wishes the principal also desires what is accessory. So if the Supreme Legislator of the Church has decreed that the Missal of 1962 has never been derogated, he is also stating explicitly that all the norms that regulated that Missal were not derogated either. It is evident that the normative corpus that regulates the use of this Missal is an integral accessory to the Missal.
  3. Third, this law like any other law of the Church has to be interpreted in accordance with the hermeneutic of continuity; in accordance with this interpretative criterion, it is evident that the laws that accompanied the Missal of 1962 at its promulgation, should guide its way now in the present. To propose that it is legally possible to have female altar servers or to give Communion in the hand when using the Missal of 1962 would be a clear case of the hermeneutic of discontinuity which, as I stated earlier, the Holy Father denounced in his address to the Roman Curia.
  4. Fourth, we have to interpret this law like any other law with a spirit of coherence. It is co-natural with the Missal of 1962 that it is highly regulated in such a way that the celebrant of this Mass is always guided by precise and concrete norms and that nothing is left to the spirit of invention of the celebrant. So it is co-natural with the Motu Proprio that all the legal norms that regulated the 1962 Missal when it was issued, still regulate it now the use of this Missal has been declared to be the right of the faithful.
  5. Fifth, the view that the legal apparatus that supported the 1962 Missal has been derogated is against the spirit of the Motu Proprio, which wishes to preserve the style that governed the celebration of the liturgy in accordance with the Missal of St Pius V and to restore a sense of respectful reverence to divine worship. It is evident that practices such as girl altar servers or Communion in the hand are alien to the spirit and style that preside over the celebration of the liturgy in accordance with the Missal of St Pius V.
  6. Sixth, the erroneous interpretations I have outlined above would be detrimental to one of the purposes of this law, which is to obtain a healing in the divisions that sadly affect the Church in our times. It is evident that such interpretations would not be accepted by different persons or groups (such as the Society of St Pius X) who are currently not in due canonical union with the Church.

As I have shown, we are faced with various problems in the application of the Motu Proprio, but the common denominator is a desire not to fully implement this law for ideological reasons. In accordance with Summorum Pontificum it will be up to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to establish ways and means to correct these problems. As a consequence, I can confirm that the Commission is now drafting an important document that will solve in an authoritative fashion these difficulties. I sincerely hope that this document will be promulgated soon and that those who oppose the application of the Motu Proprio will be brought to full compliance.


The entire article can be read here




Communion in the hand? The tradition speaks


By: Matthew Schultz

In an interview with Mother Teresa of Calcutta on Good Friday of 1989, Father George Rutler asked, “Mother, what do you think is the worst problem today?”  Without any hesitation, Mother Teresa said, “Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.”  For most of us, Mother Teresa’s comment is startling-why does she not name one of the more obvious candidates: famine, disease, abortion?  And, if Mother Teresa is right to identify communion in the hand as “the worst problem today,” why does holy mother Church permit it?  Perhaps our surprise at Mother Teresa’s intense dislike for communion in the hand is becuase of our own ignorance on this issue.

Communion in the hand was never a universal custom or practice in the history of the Church.  Popes St. Sixtus (115-165 A.D.) and St. Euchtyian (275-283 A.D.) both forbade the faithful from receiving communion in the hand; St. Basil (330-379 A.D.) permitted this practice only in times of persecution; St Leo the Great teaches, “one receives in the mouth what one believes by faith.” Eventually, communion in the hand was forbidden universally because, as Pope Paul VI states, “with the passage of time as the truth of the eucharistic mystery, its power, and Christ’s presence in it were more deeply understood the usage adopted was that the minister himself placed the particle of the consecrated bread on the tongue of the communicant” [Memoriale Domini, 8].  If Catholics did not believe in the Real Presence, then to argue over which mode was more reverent would be superfluous and ridiculous.  

In 1965, Cardinal Suenans, Archbishop of Belgium, introduced the practice of receiving communion in the hand to his diocese. Pope Paul VI addressed this flagrant act of disobedience in 1969 with the release of his encyclical Memoriale Domini. Pope Paul VI explains in his encyclical why communion on the tongue is the norm of the Church and enumerates the many dangers attached to receiving communion in the hand. Communion on the tongue is the preferred norm of the Church because it “more effectively ensures that communion is distributed with the required reverence, decorum, and dignity; that there is less danger of disrespect for the Eucharistic elements…[and so] caution is exercised which the Church has always counseled regarding the particles of the consecrated bread”[11].

In addition to Pope Paul VI’s concern for the safety of the Eucharistic elements, by receiving communion directly on the tongue one also recognizes and gives reverence to the consecrated hands of the priests (“because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated”[Aquinas, S.T.,VIII,Q.82, Art.13]).

Pope Paul VI’s abundant praise for communion on the tongue is withheld when he turns to speak of communion on the hand; his tone changes to one of caution and worry: “A change in so important a matter that has its basis in an ancient and honored tradition does not simply affect discipline, but can also bring with it dangers that, it is feared, may arise from the new way of administering communion.

In particular, these dangers are both the possibility of a lessening of reverence toward the august sacrament of the altar, its profanation, and the watering down of the true doctrine of the Eucharist“[12, emphasis mine].  Paul VI is concerned that the changing of this discipline will cause a weakening of faith. So great was his concern over the question that he polled his entire episcopate.  The results were overwhelming: 1,233 bishops opposed such a measure compared to 567 in favor.  Having examined the issue at length and having consulted the counsel of the bishops, the pontiff decided “not to change the long-accepted manner of administering communion to the faithful”[18].  He then urges the faithful “to obey conscientiously the prevailing law, now reconfirmed” [19].  Paul VI closes his encyclical by permitting communion in the hand not as a preferred practice but only in “special circumstances”[20].  The widespread extension of this practice, then, attests to the failure of the clergy and laity to heed the counsels and intentions of the Church on this matter.

Let us return once more to Mother Teresa. Can we now perhaps begin to understand why the most remarkable woman of the 20th century could declare that communion in the hand gave her the greatest sadness?  What is implicit in her sadness is made explicit by Father John Hardon, S.J., who writes, “Behind Communion in the hand-I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can-is a weakening, a conscious, a deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence.”

Communion in the hand, even though it is permitted, departs from the tradition as it is expressed in the teachings of the popes, the writings of the saints, and the councils of the Church.

H.E. Bishop D’Arcy Opposes Terry’s ‘Circus’


NCRegister.com – Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort-Wayne, South Bend, Ind., is not supportive of the protests organized by Randall Terry against the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Barack Obama.

“Bishop John D’Arcy has urged Catholics ‘to stay away from unseemly and unhelpful demonstrations,’ such as those advocated by Randall Terry and others who have pledged to create a ‘circus-like atmosphere’ surrounding Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony,” Vince LaBarbera, director of the Catholic Communications Office of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, told the Register yesterday. 

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CDW Letter on Altar Servers


With all the recent flurry concerning girl altar servers, please consider the following which has popped up on several blogs.  Below and through the hyperlink this controversy is answered.  

In July 2001, the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship issued a response to a bishop’s question (dubium) concerning the possible admission of girls and women as altar servers.  The response, a further explanation of the Circular Letter to the Presidents of Episcopal Conference, March 15, 1994, no. 2, that granted permission for bishops to admit female altar servers, made it clear that only a diocesan bishop may decide whether to permit female servers in his diocese; furthermore, that no priest is obliged to have female servers, even in dioceses where this is permitted.  The letter stressed that no one has a “right” to serve at the altar, and also strongly reaffirmed that altar boys should be encouraged

The Letter, signed by Cardinal Jorge A. Medina Estévez, prefect of the CDW, was published in the August/September issue of the official publication of the CDW, Notitiae.  The text of the Letter is presented below in its entirety. 

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No regrets from His Excellency Bishop D’Arcy on Notre Dame

Ranjith to Colombo? Follow-up

H.E. Archbishop Ranjith

H.E. Archbishop Ranjith


Andrea Tornielli reports in his blog today that the nomination of Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, current Secretary of Divine Worship, as new Archbishop of Colombo, has been postponed due to the current illness of the Prefect of Divine Worship, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera (who is fully recovered from his ailment). Tornielli adds some important information:

“There are some who mention days or weeks [for the nomination], some even of some months. Certainly, some arm wrestling is taking place regarding the nomination of the new Secretary, considering the key role of that Dicastery in promoting reconciliation in the ‘battlefield’ of the liturgy and in trying to put forward that ‘reform of the reform’ hoped for many years ago by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Cañizares, the former Archbishop of Toledo, nicknamed ‘the small Ratzinger’, wished that Ranjith would remain in Rome. And in the probable case that he does not succeed in keeping him, he would like as his number two a collaborator who follows the same line [of thought]. The only certainty is that it will be an Anglophone. But at this moment, it is useless to mention names (that do however exist), because the situation is in constant development.”

 Tip: our good friends at La Buhardilla del Jerónimo.


Cardinal Cañizares Writes About Usus Antiquior and Liturgical Reform


H.H. Pope Benedict XVI with H.E Cardinal Cañizares

The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has written a preface to the Spanish edition of a recent book by Fr. Nicola Bux, The Reform of Benedict XVI, which will be presented in Toledo this Thursday. In this outstanding preface, the Prefect of the dicastery charged with the sacred liturgy quite frankly recognizes that the liturgical reforms after the Second Vatican Council have often not been completely successful, that a false spirit of rupture was at work. While this may seem obvious to most NLM readers, it should be considered that until a rather short time ago, to express such a view was still anathema. Thus, to have it puclicly stated by the man given he highest authority in matters liturgical by the Holy Father is quite significant. What we see here, then, surely is the “setting of the tone”, the “laying of the foundations” for an actual reform of the reform, in the cautious and gentle, yet determined manner which clearly is the modus operandi of our Holy Father.

The Cardinal again stresses – like Cardinal Castrillón has often done – that Pope Benedict’s intention in issuing Summorum Pontificum was above all to open up the treasure of the traditional liturgy to all the faithful. He makes concrete suggestions how the usus antiquior might be integrated into the life even of parishes and communities which do not regularly celebrate it, and among these suggestions is also, very significantly, Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum, when many had (wrongly) claimed that Summorum Pontificum did not allow for the rites of the Sacred Triduum to be celebrated according to the usus antiquior outside of personal parishes and the like. He asserts that the traditional form of the Roman rite – as well as other Western and Eastern rites in the extent possible – should be part of theoretical and practical seminary education. Cardinal Cañizares also finds strong words of comfort for the priests and faithful who after the reforms were being vilified either for being attached to the usus antiquior or for celebrating the reformed liturgy in a spirit of continuity.

All in all a very remarkable text. Here is the preface in my translation:

Only a few months have passed from the publication of this book until this present Spanish edition. However, the significance of certain events which occurred during this time has greatly changed the “climate” around its theme, especially due to the atmosphere of controversy that has been created following the lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops consecrated twenty years ago by Monsignor Lefebvre. This gesture of gratuitous mercy by the Holy Father in order to aid their full integration into the Church, which shows by deeds that the Church does not renounce its tradition, has led to the “traditional Mass” being linked to a disciplinary problem and, worse still, a political one.

Consequently, there is a risk of distortion of the deeper meaning of the Motu Proprio of 7 July 2007, a gesture of extraordinary ecclesial common sense with which has been recognised the full validity of a rite that has nourished spiritually the Church in the West for centuries.

Undoubtedly, a deepening and a renewal of the liturgy were necessary. But often, this has not been a perfectly successful operation. The first part of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium has not entered into the heart of the Christian people. There was a change in the forms, a reform, but not a genuine renewal, as called for by the conciliar Fathers. Sometimes changes have been made simply because of a desire for change with respect to a past perceived as totally negative and obsolete, conceiving the reform as a rupture and not as an organic development of the tradition. This created reactions and resistance from the beginning, which in some cases crystallized in positions and attitudes that led to extreme solutions, and even to concrete actions which meant canonical penalties. It is urgent, however, to distinguish the disciplinary problem arisen from attitudes of disobedience of one group form the doctrinal and liturgical problem.

If we truly believe that the Eucharist is really the “source and summit of Christian life” – as the Second Vatican Council reminds us – we cannot admit that it is celebrated in an unworthy manner. For many, accepting the conciliar reform has meant celebrating a Mass which in one way or another had to be “desacralised”. How many priests have been called “backward” or “anticonciliar” because of the mere fact of celebrating in a solemn or pious manner or simply for fully obeying the rubrics! It is imperative to get out of this dialectic.

The reform has been implemented and it has mainly been experienced as an absolute change, as if an abyss should be created between the “before” and the “after” the Council, in a context where the term “preconciliar” was used like an insult. Here also the phenomenon occurred which the Pope notes in his recent letter to the bishops of 10 March 2009: “Sometimes one has the impression that our society needs at least one group for which there need not be any tolerance; which one can unperturbedly set upon with hatred.” For years this was the case in good measure with the priests and faithful attached to the form of Mass inherited throughout the centuries, who were often treated “like lepers”, as the then Cardinal Ratzinger bluntly put it.

Today, thanks to the Motu Proprio, this situation is changing notably. And it is doing so in large part because the intention of the Pope has not only been to satisfy the followers of Monsignor Lefevbre, nor to confine himself to respond to the just wishes of the faithful who feel attached, for various reasons, to the liturgical heritage represented by the Roman rite, but also, and in a special way, to open the liturgical richness of the Church to all the faithful, thus making possible the discovery of the treasures of the liturgical patrimony of the Church to those who still do not know it. How many times is the attitude of those who disdain them not due to anything other than this ignorance! Therefore, considered from this last aspect, the Motu Proprio makes sense beyond the presence or absence of conflicts: even if there were not a single “traditionalist” whom to satisfy, this “discovery” would have been enough to justify the provisions of the Pope.

It has also been said that these dispositions were an “attack” against the Council, but this shows an ignorance of the Council itself, whose intention to give all the faithful the opportunity to get to know and appreciate the multiple treasures of the liturgy of the Church is precisely what this great assembly ardently desired: “In faithful obedience to Tradition, the Sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.” (SC, 4).

Moreover, these dispositions are not a novelty; the Church has always maintained them, and when occasionally this has not been the case, the consequences have been tragic. Not only have the rites of the East been respected, but in the West dioceses such as Milan, Lyon, Cologne, Braga and various religious orders have preserved their various rites peacefully through the centuries. But the clearest precedent of the current situation is undoubtedly the archdiocese of Toledo. Cardinal Cisneros put up every means to preserve as “extraordinary” in the archdiocese the Mozarabic rite which was about to become extinct. Not only did he make print the Missal and Breviary, but he created a special chapel in the Cathedral, where still today this rite is celebrated daily.

This variety did not ever mean, nor can it mean, doctrinal differences, but on the contrary, it highlights a profound fundamental identity. Among the rites presently in use it is necessary that there also be this same unity. The current task, as this book of Don Nicola Bux tells us, is to show the theological identity between the liturgy of the various rites that have been celebrated over the centuries and the new liturgy, fruit of the reform, or else, if this identity has been blurred, to recover it.

The reform of Benedict XVI, then, is a book rich in data, reflections and ideas, and from among the many topics treated in it, I would like to emphasize some points:

The first is about the name by which to call this Mass. The author proposes to call it in the oriental manner “Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great.” That is perhaps better than to say simply say “Gregorian”, as this can lead to a twofold ambiguity (which could be avoided in any case with the designation “Damaso-Gregorian“). It is also more convenient than “traditional Mass”, where the adjective is in danger of being contaminated by a burden of either controversy or “folklore”; or more convenient than “extraordinary form”, which is a too extrinsic denomination. “Usus antiquior” has the defect of being a merely chronological reference. On the other hand, “usus receptus” would be too technical. “Missal of St. Pius V” or “Blessed John XXIII” are too limited terms. The only drawback is that in the Byzantine rite there already is a liturgy of St. Gregory, Pope of Rome: that of the presanctified gifts used in Lent.

Secondly, the fact that the use is “extraordinary” must not mean that it should be used only by priests and faithful who adhere to the extraordinary form. As Father Bux proposes, it would be very positive if someone who usually celebrates in the “ordinary” form would also, “extraordinarily”, do so in the “extraordinary” form. This is a treasure that is the heritage of all and to which, in one way or another, everyone should have access. Therefore one could propose it especially for occasions when there is some particular richness of the old missal of which one could benefit (especially if in the other calendar there is nothing special foreseen): for example, for the time of Septuagesima, for the four Embertides or for the Vigil of Pentecost, and maybe even in the case of certain special communities, both of consecrated life and of brotherhoods or fraternities. Celebrations in the “extraordinary” form would also be of great usefulness for the offices of Holy Week, at least some of them, because all the rites preserve during the Sacred Triduum ceremonies and prayers that go back to the most ancient times of the Church.

Another point which it is necessary to emphasise is the attitude of Benedict XVI: it is not so much a novelty or change of direction of government; rather it brings to its concretisation what John Paul II had already launched with initiatives such as the papal document Quattuor abhinc annos, the consultation of the committee of Cardinals, the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei and the creation of the Commission of the same name, or the words addressed to the Congregation for Divine Worship (2003).

Something which it is urgent to take into account is the ecumenical impact of these discussions: the criticism directed toward the rite received from the Roman tradition also extends to the other traditions and above all to that of the Orthodox brethren. Almost all the attacks of those opposed to the reintroduction of the old missal are precisely against the places we have in common with the Eastern! A sign that confirms this fact are the positive expressions of the recently deceased patriarch of Moscow on the publication of the Motu Proprio.

It is not one of the least important aspects of this book that it helps us become aware of the various aspects of the situation in which we currently find ourselves. Our generation is faced great challenges in liturgical matters: to help the whole Church to fully follow what the Second Vatican Council has indicated in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the liturgy; to treasure what the Holy Father – when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – has written on the subject, especially in his most beautiful book The Spirit of the Liturgy; to enrich oneself by the way in which the Holy Father – assisted by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations, which is presided over by Monsignor Guido Marini, and a consultor of which is the author of this book – celebrates the liturgy. These papal liturgies are exemplary for the whole Catholic world.

Finally, I add that it would be of great importance that all this be expounded profoundly in the seminars as an integral part of the formation for the priesthood, to provide a theoretical and practical knowledge of the liturgical riches, not only of the Roman rite, but also, in the extent possible, of the various rites of East and West, and thus create a new generation of priests free of dialectic prejudices.

Hopefully this valuable book by Don Nicola Bux may serve to know better the intentions of the Holy Father and to discover the riches of the inheritance received and, at the same time, to enlighten us in our action. Let us ask the Lord to know how to interpret, as Paul VI said, the “signs of the times”.


+ Antonio Cardinal Cañizares
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Archbishop Apostolic Administrator of Toledo

8 April 2009




Cardinal of Bologna Restricts Communion in the Hand

Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, H.E. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, H.E. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

By way of the Italian blog Cantuale Antonianum we learn that the Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, H.E. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, has issued new norms for the distribution of Holy Communion in his archdiocese. Here is an NLM translation of the communiqué of the Office for Social Communications of the Archdiocese:

On the first Sunday of Advent twenty years ago, in 1989, entered into force the resolution of the Italian Bishops’ Conference which authorised, with the approval of the Holy See, the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand.

 In recent weeks, parish priests and rectors of churches in our diocese have received notice of the provisions issued by the Cardinal Archbishop, in the face of grave abuses that have occurred in this regard. In particular, the Cardinal has ordered that in the Cathedral of St. Peter, in the Basilica of San Petronio and in the Shrine of the Madonna di San Luca, Communion is distributed to the faithful on the tongue only.

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