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Year of the Priest

Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put Him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest. … After God, the priest is everything! … Only in heaven will he fully realise what he is” ~ St. John Mary Vianney, quoted in Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Clergy for the “Year of the Priest”

Starting Friday (6/19), Pope Benedict XVI will declare a “Year of the Priest” for the Church under the patronage of the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney).

In addition to praying fervently for our priests, I hope to get in some good reading on the priesthood. Here are my (intended) reads so far:
Theology of the Priesthood by Fr. Jean Galot
The Curé of Ars Today by Fr. George William Rutler
The Curé of Ars by Father Bartholomew O’Brien
The Sermons of the Curé of Ars by St. John Vianney
Ad Catholici Sacerdotii by Pope Pius XI (encyclical letter)
Christ, the Life of the Priest by Blessed Columba Marmion
The Priest is Not His Own by Fulton J Sheen
The Priest in Union With Christ by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange


New Project

Sometimes people get a bad reputation for being unwaivering in conviction.

After a bit of studying (of which more is also needed), I am of the opinion that Fr. Leonard Feeney has an unfair reputation. Fr. Feeney was excommunicated, yes, BUT (and that’s a BIG “but”) Fr. Feeney was reconciled to the Church WITHOUT having to recant his position on the doctrine of Extra Eccelesiam Nulla Salus. This discovery has left a large nagging in my conscience that cannot be quieted except but to further study what Fr. Feeney really said (and his followers, in good standing with the Church, still maintain) rather than only listening to his critics.

I am forced to admit thus far that Fr. Feeney is correct about EENS. It makes so much more sense now, and my attachment to the Sacraments of the Church finds good company among Fr. Feeney’s explanations of the doctrine. I have also recognized that Fr. Feeney was a prophet of sorts. I can only imagine what Fr. Feeney would’ve had to say about the scandal at Notre [Sh]ame… Fr. Feeney saw the decline in Catholic identity at Harvard and spoke out relentlessly against the loss of the Faith. Fr. Feeney was not contending in a battle of wits to be “right”. Fr. Feeney was contending in a battle for souls to be saved. His harsh words and unapologetic convictions are evidence of his love for souls, not pride of mind.

But I title this a “new project” because it involves further, deeper study into the matter in a very academic manner. I have Conciliar texts to read (Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II), St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, and other Magisterial texts, etc. and I am very grateful for having already come across Robert Sungenis’ How Can I Get to Heaven? because it gives one of the best (and most concise) overviews of the Church’s teaching on Salvation (and justification) from a solidly biblical perspective, which is the necessary prerequisite for understanding Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

I am open to suggestions/comments/questions on this sensitive, but very necessary topic.

Why I Attend the Traditional Latin Mass

I was asked the other day for my reason(s) for attending the Tridentine liturgy instead of the Novus Ordo, so here is my reply, which I tried to keep short (but hopefully did not sacrifice clarity for the sake of brevity).

Basically, I started going to the TLM because I wanted to avoid liturgical abuses, and because the celebration of the Novus Ordo that I had experienced did not match up with my reading of the documents of the Second Vatican Council (especially Sacrosantum Concilium), and the documents regarding the liturgy that followed. I was frustrated by needless ad-libbing and what I would describe as a loss of the idea/sense of the sacred; my experience of the Novus Ordo seemed too casual and I could not connect such an experience with the Church’s bold teaching on the Eucharist. I was (and still am) a firm believer that the celebration of the liturgy affects the life of the Church… or as Fr. Z says, “Save the liturgy, save the world!”

Upon first attending the Tridentine liturgy I was enchanted by the deep sense of mystery and awe. I (admittedly) was also completely lost, and gave up trying to follow along in the missal; but in doing so I realized a few things: while I think language is important (and Latin is more properly suited to the liturgy)… the prayers and the language of the Mass are less important than the action of the Mass (indeed, “liturgy” is defined as a “work”) and I think this emphasis on action is highlighted in the TLM. I had no idea what the priest was saying, but I knew what he was doing. There is a kind of continuity and universality present in the TLM that is much harder to find in the current celebration of the Novus Ordo (especially since Novus Ordo Masses, unfortunately, tend to vary from parish to parish and from priest to priest). Active participation has an entirely deeper meaning… I once probably would’ve suggested that active participation meant something like “being involved” in some vague sense: joining the dialogue, exercising some quasi-clerical role, etc. But I now see that active participation—in its highest form—is the reception of the Eucharist. We actively participate in the Mass by joining ourselves to the action of the Sacrifice on the altar.

So while I started out merely going to the Tridentine liturgy to avoid liturgical abuses, I keep going because the Tridentine liturgy is something worth preserving and, as it now stands, seems to be a better safeguard of the Faith. I don’t reject the Novus Ordo… and in some ways, the Tridentine liturgy has given me a better appreciation of what the Council was trying to accomplish, and so I continue to pray for a “reform of the reform” as our Holy Father as often called for.

Book Review: Strangers and Sojourners

Overall: Michael O’Brien is a great read. I’ve never regretted picking up any of his books, and they have all been hard to put down. The same is true of Strangers and Sojourners.

Strangers and Sojourners is a story about the search for home and the true meaning of home. It follows the life of Anne Kingsley (Ashton) Delaney from England, where she is an educated and cultured woman, to the First World War as a battlefield nurse, and then to “untamed” Canada where a year of teaching children turns to a lifetime of love and longing as Anne searches for and discovers the meaning of home (and love and faith).

Within that story, Strangers and Sojourners is a beautiful novel of faith and of the struggle and ache of unbelief that fades and falls when we find faith in love and life. The novel is very slow-paced, intentionally, which reflects the Anne Delaney’s gradual procession from unbelief to faith in her struggle to understand the mystery of human existence. This is not an action packed novel that will keep the reader of the edge of their seat—and it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to move methodically along the path of Anne Delaney’s life and allow the reader to ruminate alongside Anne Delaney on the bigger philosophical questions of life amid the reality of daily life in Twentieth Century Canada. It’s a good read that’s not meant for a quick skim, but a ponderous examination.

Michael O’Brien does a great job at capturing real emotions in his characters, especially here in describing Anne Delaney. While some readers may find her hesitancy, and later, insecurities, unsettling and hard to overlook, there is a reward that comes with persistence. I found Strangers and Sojourners to be more realistic, and less of a fairy tale which may be off-putting to readers searching for the immediate gratification of a painless happily ever after. All in all, Strangers and Sojourners is a moving depiction of human life and the fight for faith.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: The Latin Mass Explained

Overall: I cannot recommend this book enough! It’s fantastic! A great explanation of the Latin Mass, plus, major practicality points for including a list of when to stand, sit, and kneel during the Mass.

Msgr. Moorman’s explanation of the Latin Mass in this small book is great! This is the most detailed explanation of the Latin Mass, without being overbearing on the details, that I’ve found . Msgr. Moorman’s writing style is very direct and easy to read. Before even beginning to explain the bits and pieces of the Latin Mass, Msgr. Moorman explains precisely what the Mass is and what that means for us. This little book was also immensely helpful in better appreciating not only what takes place at Mass, but entering into a deeper (and active) interior participation, and appreciating the Tridentine liturgy as something that must be preserved.

Msgr. Moorman clearly and succinctly explains everything about the Latin Mass– what the Mass is, why particular actions are performed, what is used for the Latin Mass and why it’s used, the vestments worn by the clergy, and what the prayers mean. Msgr. Moorman also gives a short, but effective, defense for Latin as the language of the liturgy. The last half of the book is the actual texts of the Latin Mass using the readings and prayers from Trinity Sunday alongside Msgr. Moorman’s very helpful explanations and commentary. I only wish I’d found this little book before attending my first Tridentine Mass!

For anyone wishing to attend a Latin Mass, I also recommend this book as a practical point; there’s a list of when to stand, sit, and kneel during the liturgy–so no worries about feeling lost! It’s a great size book to take along when without a 1962 Missal (keeping in mind that the prayers and readings are set for Trinity Sunday), especially as an introduction to the Latin Mass.

An excerpt explaining the “Munda cor meum”:

The priest goes to the center of the altar, bows down and prays.
Cleanse my heart and my lips, O Almighty God, Who didst cleanse the lips of the prophet Isaias with a burning coal: and vouchsafe, through Thy gracious mercy, so to purify me that I may worthily proclaim Thy holy Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be pleased, O Lord, to give Thy blessing.
The Lord be in my heart and on my lips, that I may worthily, and in a becoming manner, announce His holy Gospel.
While the missal is being transferred, the priest proceeds to the middle of the altar, where he makes a profound bow and asks God to purify his heart and lips, as He once did those of the Prophet Isaias with a burning coal, and enable him worthily to annouce the Gospel to the people. The people, in the meantime, pray that they may listen to the word of God attentively and with benefit.
The allusion to Isaias in this prayer recalls to mind the Prophet’s wonderful vision. He had been granted a vision of the glories of Heaven. He is overcome with humily at the thought of his unworthiness and exclaims: “Woe is me… because I am a man of unclean lips… and I have seen with my eyes the King of the Lord of hosts.” In answer to his prayer he was purified by the grace of God: “And one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with tongs off the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: Behold this hath touched thy lips, and they iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed.” (Is. 6:5-7).
When the priest proceeds to the Missal to read the Gospel, the people arise. By this they signify their readiness to stand up for and defend Christ’s teaching. This practice also reminds the faithful that through the Gospel of Christ, man is raised up from sin to newness of life.

An excerpt from part 3, chapter 5 titled “After Mass”:

It is all over now, and you may go back into the busy street and into your own homes. Nothing has changed since you left it all an hour or so ago. Only this has happened: You have stood in the presence of the living God; you have shared in the most sacred and solemn action that it is possible to conceive as taking place on this earth. “He was in the world, and the world knew Him not.” Perhaps until today you were among the number of those who knew Him not. You know Him now. Pray that God may give you grace and courage to follow Him Whom you know to have the words of everlasting life, so that one day you may be numbered among the “sons of God.”

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: Called to Love

Overall: This is a GREAT book, well worth the read. I highly recommend it.

Carl Anderson and Father José Granados have done an amazing job interpreting and explaining Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”. Mr. Anderson and Fr. Granados have presented in Called to Love, a mature and all-encompassing understanding of the “Theology of the Body” that underscores the true subject of Pope John Paul II’s catechesis: the vocation of every Christian person to love. In this reviewer’s opinion, the authors here have one up on Christopher West– Mr. West presents a kind of introduction to the “Theology of the Body” that gets your feet wet. Here is the rest of the story. Carl Anderson and Fr. Granados have presented the main attraction: how the vocation to love transforms and informs our understanding of human sexuality and human love.

My favorite aspect of Called to Love is that the authors incorporate not only Pope John Paul II’s Wednesday Audiences which comprise the “Theology of the Body” but Mr. Anderson and Fr. Granados also reference Pope John Paul II’s poetry, his plays, and his other major work on love (the real point of the “Theology of the Body”): Love & Responsibility. Mr. Anderson and Fr. Granados see that the “Theology of the Body” is not just the Wednesday Audiences of catechesis, but that this vision extends throughout the whole of Pope John Paul II’s theology; it permeated everything he wrote. The “Theology of the Body” is the manner of understanding human sexuality and love in the light of Divine Love. Called to Love is then able to present a fuller view of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” based on the nature and meaning of love.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.