Monday, August 27, 2018

Dear Troubled Catholic Friends


Dominic Legge, O.P., Cleansing the Church of Clerical Sacrilege, in FirstThings, 16, Aug, 2018

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Dominic Legge, O.P., is a Dominican priest and a professor of theology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

t is time for clergy and laity to begin a movement for the purification of the Church. The shameful sexual sins and crimes of clergy—including cardinals, bishops, and priests—can no longer be tolerated. Tolerance is precisely what has allowed these problems to multiply for decades and persist up to today.

As Fr. Thomas Berg recently explained, the issue is sexually active priests and bishops. In the main, the persistent problem is with homosexually active priests.  Fr. Roger Landry argues—rightly, I think—that most priests who persist in infidelity with women eventually leave the priesthood, but priests who cheat on their vocation with men often continue to live a double life. Most of the issues stem from this kind of duplicity. Networks of active homosexual priests have developed: They protect and promote their own and others who will tolerate them. They become a major problem when they insinuate themselves into positions of power (in a seminary, in a chancery or diocese, in a religious order, in the Roman curia)—as occurred in the case of Theodore McCarrick.

The sins here are more grave than adultery or homosexual acts because they besmirch what is holy. Properly speaking, this is sacrilege, the perversion of Holy Orders, and the defilement of a person solemnly and publicly consecrated to God in chastity. The sin is even more serious when a bishop, a seminary formator, or a priest uses the authority of his office—an office instituted by Christ for the sanctification of the faithful—in a perverse way, in the service of shameful and selfish passions. The higher the abuse of authority in the Church, the more grave is the sacrilege. These are not private sins of individual Christians, and the victims suffer more because they are abused not by “private individuals,” but by priests. These crimes dishonor and offend God, and they wound the Church in a unique way.

Focusing on sacrilege is important because it helps us remember that we are dealing with something holy: the holiness of the priesthood, of the episcopacy, and of the Church. We must not give up on this call to holiness. Bishops and priests should be holy, they must pray for it, and with the help of grace, strive for it.  (And some really do become holy—something we should not overlook.) When priests habitually commit mortal sins, they lose their zeal for the gospel, they become numb to the truth of the Eucharist's holiness, and they water down the doctrines of the faith. This leads to many other infidelities, and to a kind of pastoral despair. 

What, then, can be done to fix this problem? We should begin by articulating clearly what remedies are needed. (Getting the bishops and the Vatican to adopt these reforms is another question, but first we need to know what reforms are needed.) Here are five bullet points.

First, we need to investigate the past and have a transparent accounting of the failures.  How were known networks of active homosexual priests (and bishops) allowed to continue?  What structures of accountability were missing?  This investigation won’t fix the future, but it will begin to identify where the biggest problems are.

Second, every diocese and religious order needs to implement an affirmative program to screen out vocations applicants with a history of deep-seated same-sex attraction—and certainly those who have engaged in homosexual activity. Applicants should not be allowed to apply for the seminary unless they are already able to live as habitually chaste single men, without recurring falls into unchastity. Candidates in seminaries who act out sexually should be dismissed. This policy is not homophobic in any way. It is simply non-hypocritical: The Church has to cultivate vocations of men who live and practice what the Church professes.

Third, American bishops should enact, as “particular law,” the canonical norms from the 1917 Code of Canon Law (they were mostly dropped from the current Code of Canon Law when it was revised in 1983) dealing with the sexual acts of clerics (whether homosexual or heterosexual, and whether with minors or with adults). Those provisions made sexual activity by clerics, even with other adults, a canonical crime. The punishments included “being deprived of office, benefice, dignity, responsibility, if they have such, whatsoever, and in more serious cases, they are to be deposed.”

Fourth, there should be an apostolic visitation of all provinces of religious orders, diocesan chanceries, seminaries, the offices of vocation directors, and of the USCCB, to investigate whether they have networks of active homosexual priests, structures of manipulation, or other such misconduct.

Fifth, there needs to be a system for reporting clerical sexual infidelity—even infidelity with “consenting adults”—akin to the system that currently exists for reporting clerical abuse of minors. The reports should not just go to the bishop or religious superior; they need to involve a review board and other lay outsiders.  Allegations should be investigated, using fair and just procedures, and should be concluded with a report of findings recommending canonical charges where warranted. This process needs to be instituted for both religious orders and dioceses alike.

These prescriptions are actually rather straightforward and simple. The hierarchy needs help from laity and investigators from outside the dioceses, religious orders, and seminaries to expose the corruption and begin the process of dismissing the wrongdoers. Let us cleanse the sacrilege, so that the Church will again be holy.

Hand-wringing and pious platitudes won’t fix things. It is time to confront the real problem with courage and sobriety.

Dominic Legge, O.P., is a Dominican priest and a professor of theology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Celestial Music

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Out of eternity
Music was heard,
And into infinity
Straightaway flowed,
All chaos along with it
Taking away.

In the chasm like a whirlwind
The stars began swirling,
Their every ray singing
Like musical strings,

And life, being stirred
By this divine vibration,
Shows only to him
Its true inspiration,
Who is sometimes attune
To this music celestial,
Whose mind is wide open,
Whose heart is aflame.

- Ya. P. Polonskiy (1819 – 1898)
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff (source)

When Yellowing Wheat Stands Shimmering In the Breeze

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Wheatfield with Pasture

When yellowing wheat stands shimmering in the breeze,
Which rustles through the freshly-scented woods,
And in the garden hides the crimson plum
Beneath the sweet shade of the greening leaf;

When dew-sprinkled lilies of the field.
In rosy eve or in the golden hour of dawn,
From ’neath the bushes nod their silver heads
In pleasant greeting, as I wander by;

When icy brooks along the gorges run,
Immersing all my thoughts into a dream,
And murmur in my ear mysterious tales
Of peaceful lands from whence they spring:

Then is my soul’s anxiety becalmed,
My frowning brow is eased and set at rest,
And happiness seems possible on earth,
And in the open heavens I see God…

- Mikhail Lermontov
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff (source)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Grandeur of Altai Nature

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North Chuisky Mountains(source)

Psalm 104 (KJV)
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Kamchatka (source)

Psalm 104 (KJV)
5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

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Aktru, Siberia (source)
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Фото © Игорь Шпиленок(source)

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Altai Republic, Maima District (source)

Corrupting the Mass: A Comparison of Authentic and Corrupted Catholic Masses by Mr. Michael Lofton

Corrupting the Mass
Corrupting the Mass

Michael Lofton, Corrupting the Mass: A Comparison of Authentic and Corrupted Catholic Masses (source)

Many Catholics today have to suffer through corrupted Catholic Masses. I'd like to compare corrupted Masses with authentic Masses in order to demonstrate the extent of the corruption many have to suffer.

The Setting

In authentic Catholic Masses, the setting is to be reverent, inspiring a sense of awe. Authentic Catholicism recognizes that atmosphere, the location, the attire and so forth at Mass are all important to worship God in a pleasing manner. In corrupted Masses, the setting is such that one may feel at home.

Corrupted Catholic Masses give people the impression that God is a buddy you chat with at a coffee shop, rather than the awful Creator of Heaven and Earth. In the case of some corrupted Masses I have attended, they were said outdoors at a park instead of a sacred place (contrary to Canon 932), and the congregation was dressed in t-shirts and shorts. To make matters worse, during the announcements at one of these Masses, the priest said, “I just want everyone to feel at home.”

Sadly, good intentions notwithstanding, this can be misleading, since the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is hardly something that should make one “feel at home.”

The Music

In authentic Masses, Gregorian chant has pride of place, per the Second Vatican Council. Instead of using Gregorian chant, however, the corrupted Mass often uses Protestant hymns or other effeminate songs. For example, they may use Protestant hymns such as “How Great Is Our God” and “Our God Is Greater.”

Even worse, instead of using a choir and an organ to lift the mind to God, corrupted Masses use acoustic and bass guitars as the preferred instruments, which often inhibit the mind from being elevated to God. Such was the case in the Mass shown above.


Authentic Masses orient everything towards God. It is for this reason that the priest, ever since the time of the Apostles, has oriented his liturgical prayer towards the East (since Christ's Second Coming will originate in the East). In corrupted Masses, the priest orients his liturgical prayer towards the people, and—assuming the tabernacle is in its traditional place—with his back facing Christ.


In authentic Masses, the individual receives Our Lord's Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity kneeling and on the tongue in order to avoid any profanation of the sacrament. In corrupted Masses, the individual receives Christ standing and in the hand, which often leaves fragments of our Blessed Lord in the hands of the communicant, which in turn fall on the floor only to be further profaned and trampled upon.

Authentic Masses don't allow for unconsecrated hands to distribute Holy Communion. Corrupted Masses, however, allow for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (which are anything but extraordinary these days) to distribute Holy Communion, in spite of the fact that their hands are unconsecrated.

Parting Words

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Compare your average corrupted Mass with the picture of an authentic Mass below.  Which one appears more Catholic? Which one seems more reverent? Which one truly speaks to man's desire for the transcendent?

Enough said.

What do you think of these "new" Catholic Worship? 


Sunday, August 19, 2018

A New Place (НОВОЕ МЕСТО): Poem of John of Riga, A Latvian Martyr

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Archbishop John of Riga was martyred brutally in the night of October 12, 1934, at the archbishop's residence at Kish Lake (Latvian: Ķīšezers) outside Riga's city center. Although his assassins were never apprehended, they have widely been assumed to be agents of the Bolshevik regime in neighboring Soviet Russia.

A New Place

You are now in the place which the Lord gave to you;
In the place where He has you assigned.
Only there will He be your staff and your shield,
Only there will you serve well His will.

And should He decide to send you His grace,
He will not search all over the earth;
In your very own place will He look for you,
In the place which He gave you Himself.

Remain, take courage, and firmly hold on
To the place where He has you assigned.
If your fate be the cross – descend not from the cross;
And if fire be your fate – do not fear.

Do not sigh or sorrowfully gaze all about,
If your place be humble and obscure;
In that very place given you by the Lord,
He desires you to glorify His name.

And if you should somehow err in your place,
Even though no one sees or knows,
Be aware that ‘twill surely bring sorrow or harm
To one of His loyal servitors.

O, just think, the place that God has assigned
No one else can take save yourself.
Tis the will of the Lord that you be there,
And for this He requires your strength.

So accept every day from out of God’s hands
This place which God’s goodness provides,
And if other desires take over in your soul,
Put them down with the strength of Christ.

Should He wish to grant spiritual victory to you
Or fulfillment of your prayers provide,
It will only be in this one sole place,
Where His righteous one firmly stands.

O, do fear to break up submission’s crown
And refuse to accede to your King.
Only here, in this place to which you’re assigned,
Will you be able to get near to Him.

O yea, in the place given you by the Lord
Do rejoice and laud His love,
So that all may see how His holy will
Gave you life, and glory, and joy.

For when He does come, He will not search for you
In all the far corners of the earth;
He will look for you in that one sole place,
Which He Himself had prepared for you.

And then – O, bliss! – He will find you there,
In the place where you served Him well,
And to another place He will take you with Him,
To His infinite, wondrous realm.

Holy Hieromartyr John of Riga
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff.(source)


Ты на месте стоишь, что Господь тебе дал;
На том месте, куда Он поставил тебя.
Только там будет Он тебе посох и щит,
Там лишь плод принесешь, Его волю творя.

И захочет послать Он тебе благодать,
То не будет искать по широкой земле;
Он на месте твоем тебя будет искать,
На том месте, что Он приготовил тебе.

Оставайся, мужайся и твердо держись
На том месте, куда Он поставил тебя.
Если крест твой удел – не сходи со креста;
Если пламенный огнь – не страшися огня.

Не вздыхай, не гляди с огорченьем кругом,
Если место сокрыто и скромно твое.
На том месте, что Сам Господь Бог тебе дал,
Хочет Он, чтоб прославил ты имя Его.

А когда что упустишь на месте своем,
Хоть не видит, не знает об этом никто,
Знай, что кому-нибудь скорбь иль ущерб принесет
Из служителей верных любимых Его.

О, подумай, то место, что дал тебе Бог,
Уж не могут другие занять, только ты.
Это воля Господня, чтоб ты там стоял,
И на это нужны Ему силы твои.

Каждый день принимай же из Божией руки
Вновь то место, что милость Господня дала.
И найдутся-ль другие желанья в душе,
Умертви их обещанной силой Христа.

Пожелает победу послать Он тебе,
Исполненье молитвам твоим даровать,
Совершит Он все это на месте лишь том,
Где подвижник Его будет твердо стоять.

О, страшись разбивать послушанья венец
И Царю твоему отвечать: «не хочу!»
Лишь на месте, куда Он поставил тебя,
Ты всецело приблизиться можешь к Нему.

Да, на месте, что Сам Господь Бог тебе дал,
Возликуй и любовь Его там восхвали,
Чтобы видели все, Его воля тебе
Жизнь, и славу, и радостный мир принесли.

Ведь когда Он придет, то не будет искать
По далеким местам Он тебя по земле;
Он искать тебя будет наверно лишь там,
На том месте, что Сам приготовил тебе.

И тогда, о, блаженство, тебя Он найдет
На том месте, где было служенье твое;
И в другое Он место тебя возведет,
В бесконечное, чудное Царство Свое.

Священномученик Иоанн Рижский.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

About the "line" or "boundaries" (by G.K. Chesterton)

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"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."

--G.K. Chesterton

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"Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up."

--G.K. Chesterton

Merely having an open mind is nothing. 
The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, 
is to shut it again on something solid.”

--G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

He who fully gave his heart and soul unto God's will

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He who fully gave his heart
 And soul unto God’s will,
 Has found forever in himself
 The peace of inner still.

He realized that the greatest Mind
 Rules over our world,
 And nothing in the entire universe
 Has been forgotten by Him.

That even the smallest blade of grass
 Which in the prairie grows,
 Not of itself, but with God’s might
 Does sprout and gently flower.

And everywhere he hears a voice –
 The voice of the Creator,
 That without God not even a hair
 Will fall from His creation.

Translated from Russian by Natalia Sheniloff (source)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Deep, Deep At Rest


He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.(Isaiah 40:11, KJV)

O God, a world of empty show,
 Dark wilds of restless, fruitless quest
 Lie round me wheresoe'er I go:

Within, with Thee, is rest.
 And sated with the weary sum
 Of all men think, and hear, and see,
 O more than mother's heart, I come,
 A tired child to Thee.

Sweet childhood of eternal life!
 Whilst troubled days and years go by,
 In stillness hushed from stir and strife,
 Within Thine Arms I lie.

Thine Arms, to whom I turn and cling
 With thirsting soul that longs for Thee;
 As rain that makes the pastures sing,
 Art Thou, my God, to me.

--Gerhard Tersteegen, At Rest