Sunday, 19 January 2020


What is the virtue of religion?

The virtue of religion (so-called because it constitutes the bond par excellence which unites man to God, who is the source of all man's good) is a perfection of the will inclining man to acknowledge as it behoves his absolute dependence upon God, who is the first beginning and last end of all (LXXXI. 1-5).
What are the acts of religion?

Every act which, of itself, makes man recognize his dependence upon God is the proper object of the virtue of religion. But this virtue also may ordain to this same end all the acts of the other virtues; and in this case it makes the whole of man's life an act of the worship of God (LXXXI. 7, 8).
In the latter case what is it called?

It is called sanctity. For the saint is precisely he whose whole life is transformed into an act of religion (LXXXI. 8).
Is the virtue of religion most excellent?

Yes, for after the theological virtues it is the most excellent of all the virtues (LXXXI. 6).
Whence does the virtue of religion derive this excellence?

It comes from this, that among all the moral virtues whose object is to perfect man in every order of conscious activity in his striving after heaven, such as faith, hope, and charity, there is no other virtue whose object approaches so nigh to this end. The other virtues direct man, either in regard to his own conduct or in regard to other creatures, whilst religion directs him towards God: it effects that he look to God, as it behoves, by recognizing His Sovereign Majesty, serving and honouring Him by his acts as the one whose excellence infinitely surpasses every created thing (LXXXI. 6).


Why the Third Crusade was Successful

Real Crusades History #62. And don't forget the Real Crusades History website!

This video asks the question: was the Third Crusade a success, or failure? What do the historians say? Watch and learn!

15 Annoying Things That Need to Stop Happening During Mass

Interesting. I've added my comments in red after each point, but remember, I live in the Diocese of Lincoln!

From ChurchPOP

What annoying things do you think people should stop doing during Mass?

On this week’s episode of The Catholic Talk Show, Ryan DellaCrosse, Fr. Rich Pagano, and Ryan Scheel discuss “15 Things That Need to Stop Happening During Mass.”

The guys cover the following topics:
• The irritating things that too many Catholics do
• Should you hold hands during the Our Father?
• The biggest Church design flaws
• What parts of the liturgy do priests need to do better?

Listen to the episode below:

15 Things That Need to Stop Happening During Mass, According to The Catholic Talk Show


1) Clapping During Mass 

Not a problem I've ever run across at St Wenceslaus

2) Too many extraordinary ministers of the Holy Eucharist 

Other than Instituted Acolytes we don't have EMHCs 

3) Receiving from the cup when you are sick

Since the laity (except for the Instituted Acolyte and the reader) don't receive the Precious Blood, this isn't a problem 

4) Wandering around during sign of peace, peace sign during sign of peace

Doesn't happen at St Wenceslaus and I've never seen a 'peace sign' during the sign of peace in any Church in any Diocese I've ever attended
5) Excessive socializing before Mass 

Absolutely not! I have a friend who grew up in the Diocese of Lincoln and now lives in the Diocese of Des Moines. She says one of the things she misses most is the prayerful silence before Mass. 

6) Not fasting before Mass 

I agree, but how are we to know unless someone is eating a burger as they walk into Mass? 

7) Keeping your phone ringer on when you go to Mass 

I've never heard a phone make a sound at St Wenceslaus 

8) Not donating 

A little more complicated. Depending on the Parish and Diocese, there are solid, Catholic reasons for not donating. But again how are we to know? With the advent of online pledging, the fact that someone never puts anything in the collection basket means nothing.

9) Leaving early from Mass 

I've never seen it at St Wenceslaus except for parents with fussy children
10) Bad preaching during homilies 

Not in the Diocese of Lincoln!

11) Receiving Communion in the state of mortal sin

Agreed, but again, how are we to know?

12) Dressing improperly 

13) Not ringing the bells during the consecration 

Nope. That's the Acolyte's job and I've never known one of them to forget. 

14) Genuflecting towards the altar when the tabernacle is located elsewhere

Our tabernacle is where it belongs! 

15) Holding hands during the Our Father

I haven't noticed it, but quite a few boomers use the Orans posture, which according to the appropriate Vatican Dicastery, is NOT appropriate for laymen.

Local Luddite Puzzled by Lack of Social Media Success

More satire from the Editors of The Imaginative Conservative!

From The Imaginative Conservative

(Richmond, Texas)—Local man and founder of Luddites of Southeast Texas, Thomas W. Franklin, is having trouble understanding why his efforts to promote his group on social media are meeting with little success. “I don’t get it,” Mr. Franklin says. “I’m putting all these posts on Facebook in the wee hours of the morning, when I’m up drinking coffee that I made from beans I ground myself by hand, and I wait and wait until 4 or 5 in the morning, and no one is ‘liking’ them. I mean, forget about a ‘heart’ or a ‘wow’ reaction, not even a ‘like.’ I just don’t get it.”

When asked about his strategy in creating Facebook posts, Mr. Franklin replied: “Well, I don’t use pictures, as they’re too modern and are just a distraction from the content anyway. People will click on my essay if it is simply worthy enough. And I try to make the titles both informative and gripping. So, for example, some of my recent posts were called “Social Unrest and Popular Protest in England, 1780-1840,” “A Short History of the British Working Class Movement, 1789-1925,” and “The Early English Trade Unions: Documents from the Home Office Papers in the Public Record Office.”

Yet, with his Facebook page having a total of only eight fans, Mr. Franklin remains completely baffled. “Why my fellow Luddites aren’t engaging with my Facebook page is just beyond me. Maybe I should try Twitter or LinkedIn, if that’s where they are.”
Mr. Franklin was last seen returning to his log cabin to read a tattered copy of G.K. Chesterton’s What’s Wrong With the World.

The featured image is “Man sitting in port” by Matti Mattila is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Catholic Monks Reveal How They Prepare for Death in a Monastery

As I approach the end, whenever God decides to call me, this sounds like a book I need to read.

From LifeSiteNews

By Dr Peter Kwasniewski

'The monk dies as he has lived.'
January 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The news is regularly peppered these days with stories about the spread of euthanasia throughout Western societies. 

A practice once considered abhorrent — indeed, simply a form of murder in cold blood, of those who are most vulnerable and most deserving of our loving attention and affection — is being promoted as the best way to “take someone out of their misery,” much as a lame horse or a frail pet is “put down” by the vet. 

It seems to me that what we are seeing is the modern West’s typically arrogant attempt to control the mystery of death by a kind of “preemptive strike”: instead of suffering death as a purifying passage to eternal life, we try to commodify it as the ultimate form of analgesic.

Beneath the pseudo-scientific justifications and the epidemic of false compassion, we find still operative the primitive fear of death that no technology can overcome. Death is the reality that throws the rest of life into sharp relief as having been meaningful or meaningless. St. Paul even says that Our Lord came to deliver those “who, through the fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to servitude” (Heb 2:15). Slaves who feel oppressed and hopeless are driven to desparate acts.

The same Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God in command of the entire created world, experienced the fear of death according to His true human nature. Death is an evil from which every creature naturally flees, and man, with his power of reasoning and his ability to cognize time, can apprehend this future evil with unnerving results. No wonder the modern post-Christian world works overtime to hide from death and to hide it away as much as possible. Without God, death can have no meaning; without Christ, death can have no benefit; without the Holy Spirit, death cannot be faced with love and hope. It becomes the great absurdity rather than the gateway from mortal to immortal life.

Late in 2019, Ignatius Press published a new book, both sobering and strangely elevating: Nicolas Diat’s A Time to Die: Monks on the Threshold of Eternal Life. Diat is the French journalist well know for producing three book-length interviews with Cardinal Sarah: God or Nothing; The Power of Silence; The Day is Now Far Spent. For this book, Diat’s own work, Cardinal Sarah provides a Foreword.

To write this unusual book, Diat allowed himself ample time to visit eight monasteries in France, with the goal of talking to monks about their views on death, how they prepare for it, how it affects them when their confreres pass to the next life. It is remarkable if for no other reason than that one comes to realize how this question of death in fact enters, openly or subtly, into every other question humans face, and that it is in a sense THE question to which religion, and more particularly, religious life, is the answer. From that point of view, the book becomes an indirect apologia for the truth of Christianity.

Here I can only pick and share with you a few choice fruits. At one point, Dom David of En-Calcat Abbey observes:
He [Günther Anders] talks about the promethean shift that marks the modern world. Man has created a technological world that humiliates him and makes him feel ashamed…. Technology cannot be at fault. In contrast, in classical anthropology, man was the summit of the animal kingdom. Over the past 50 years, he has become the low point in a world dominated by technological idols. (53)
Dom David says our medical technology has developed to such an extent that it prolongs our agony and leaves us in tatters. We can end up viewing ourselves and one another in a depersonalized manner, as if we are machines with functional or non-functional parts, instead of seeing the image of God that is infinitely more precious than bodily life itself and any technology we can muster. Readers may be surprised to learn (although it stands to reason) that monasteries struggle with the same challenges laity face in the world: end of life care, pain medications, when to bring someone home from the hospital to die in his own bed.

Diat structures the book in such a way that it seems to become more serene about death as it goes on.

At En-Calcat, a seriously ill monk recounts: “I realize at what point life is not important. At the same time, it takes on all of its importance. I am clearly aware of the end of all things. But it is necessary to get up and fight for life” (43).
At Solesmes, the infirmarian talks about how he has learned to slow down and be attentive to detail so that he avoids rushing away from the care of the sick:
The risk of the commodification of the sick exists. I must pray to keep the strength of my desire to serve awake. [The sick brother] is Christ. When we come before God, we will be accountable for our charity toward the weakest. I need to know how to lose my time for the sick. In life, giving freely is essential. Christ said the man who loses his life gains it. (61)
Br. Theophane of Sept-Fons Abbey confides to Diat: “I am never so aware of the presence of God as at the moment of the death of my brothers. There is a break, a before and after. We are at the point of the most perfect intersection of God and the living” (93). 

A monk of Cîteaux Abbey, Dom Olivier, shares a word with all the resonance of a desert father: “The hardest death is the little daily death, when we are perfectly healthy. In life we go from one death to another; they prepare us for the ultimate end. Little deaths of the ego are the big deaths, and they allow for a good death” (104).

Most moving to me was the chapter on Fontgombault Abbey, a Benedictine monastery with fully traditional observance and a larger than usual number of monks (Clear Creek in the USA is a daughter-house). Diat comments: 
A bedridden monk often keeps his reflexes as a good religious. He looks for his rosary, he remembers prayers. Monastic formation endures. The monk dies as he has lived. He does not choose either his sickness or his suffering, but his death still resembles his life. (131)
One of the monks interviewed says: “The stronger the supernatural life, the greater the familiarity with the afterlife, and the simpler the death” (ibid.). The Catholic tradition has long emphasized this very point: if we wish to have a holy death, we must build up the habits in our lives that will come into play in our hour of greatest need. Death, in that sense, is no more than a final moment of a process that long predates it and prepares for it. Those who think it “unfair” that one’s eternal destiny should depend solely on the state of one’s soul at the moment of death are not thinking about it correctly: they do not see the truth that “as a man lives, so will he die.”

Within this chapter on Fontgombault, the most moving testimony comes from Dom Pateau, who shares the following wisdom:
The acceleration of technological life overwhelms us until the final moments. God must force us to take this time: He says, “That’s enough,” when modern man would readily answer, “I don’t have time.” We would be quite ready to miss the high point of this life. Man has become a slave. In the same way, he no longer has time for himself and for God. The lack is cruel. He does not have time to die because he does not have time to live. For his part, the monk agrees to lose all his time for God. Monastic life is happy; monastic death is, also. (135)
In the chapter on Mondaye Abbey, we hear the delightful story of an old soldier of World War II, later an Augustinian canon, who hailed from the Champagne region. He was on his deathbed in the hospital when his Father Abbot came to give him last rites. But no dreary atmosphere marked this moment. After last rites, the Abbot uncorked a bottle of champagne and they drank a toast. Two days later, Father Vincent died in peace, having been brought back to the abbey (148–49). Diat lets fall here a sentence that is worthy of much reflection: “A full community is composed of the living and the dead” (149). That is not our modern Western way of thinking, as Chesterton realized when he felt compelled to remind us: “Tradition is the democracy of the dead.” In fact, for Catholics, the greater and better part of the Church consists of the souls of the righteous, who are not dead but more alive by far than we are, as regards the life that is truly life. Their community is the exemplar and support of ours; together we form one body.

Surprisingly, it is the Carthusians—the most austere and inaccessible of all religious—who come across as the most humorous! In the last chapter, we read that Carthusians make saints, but do not promote their causes. The story is told of a Carthusian lay brother in the middle of the 17th century whose grave, after he died, became the site of ever-increasing miracles. The prior, having got wind of it, came out to the grave, and addressed the deceased: “In the name of holy obedience, I forbid you to perform miracles.” The extraordinary phenomena ceased (164).

A doctor says to a Carthusian: “This is serious, you could die!” The monk, without stopping to think, replies: “Well, if it is only that…” (168).

Diat has gathered for us, with loving hands, an assortment of the rarest flowers of piety, common sense, and Christian hope; now we can read them for our benefit. A Carthusian tells him: “I spend half my life thinking about eternal life. It is the constant backdrop that lines my whole existence… We must love this door that will allow us to know the Father” (166). The same monk writes in a note later on to the author: “It is not the door that I am waiting for, but what is on the other side of the door. I am not waiting for death, but for Life. This should go without saying, but curiously enough it is not so common” (169).

In his Foreword, Cardinal Sarah writes: “Monasteries are places where one learns to live and die in an atmosphere of silent prayer, the gaze always turned toward the beyond and the One who made us…” Nicolas Diat has indeed demonstrated how much we can and must learn from the monks, who live and die for Christ, in Christ, with Christ.

Basking in the Glow of Epiphany: The Wedding Feast at Cana

Dr K discusses yet another example of how the New Lectionary and New Calendar deprive Catholics of so much.

From Rorate Cæli

By Dr Peter Kwasnieski

In the giant new lectionary, poster-child of the liturgical reform, we find very strange things if we take pains to scratch beneath the surface. One of the most surprising, to me, was the discovery that the passage from the second chapter of the Gospel of St. John about the wedding feast at Cana—among the most picturesque, moving, and theologically profound passages in all the Gospels—is read only once every three years in the Novus Ordo (in “Year C”). In contrast, it is read every year in the old Mass, on the Second Sunday after Epiphany, where it has appeared for centuries without interruption.
The wedding at Cana is the place where our Lord first reveals His glory; where His “hour,” the hour of His passion and cross, in a sense begins; where His disciples first believe in Him; where His Mother is shown as the perfect intercessor. It holds not only inexhaustible lessons for our spiritual life, as does any page of the Gospels, but archetypal ones that have no exact parallel elsewhere. It is, one might say, a “staple Gospel” or “super Gospel” that should never be too far away from our minds and hearts. Annually seems a natural rhythm. The old liturgy, as usual, acts on the right instinct. The new liturgy, in contrast, treats it as just another waystation in the drilled march through as much of Scripture as we can survive in two or three years.

This Gospel passage is a perfect window into the larger problem of the murder of the Epiphany season. Those who attend the traditional Latin Mass are aware of how beautifully, how tenderly, how lovingly, the Church basks in the light of the newborn Christ, the youthful Christ, the Christ of the river Jordan and the miracle of Cana. Epiphanytide is one of the most poetic and touching of all the seasons (or “sub-seasons,” as it were). It starts with the feast of the Epiphany itself, which, in accord with unbroken custom stretching back for centuries, is celebrated on the “Twelfth Day” after Christmas, January 6 (and not on the nearest Sunday, to suit the world’s imperious work schedule). One week later, on the octave day, January 13, the Church in her usus antiquior celebrates the Baptism of Christ. Then the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany brings us the Gospel of the wedding feast at Cana. The three great theophanies or divine manifestations honored in this season—namely, the visit of the Magi, the baptism in the Jordan, and the wedding of Cana—are given their full individual due, without haste, without unseemly compression or alternation. Indeed, there is a leisurely feel to this Epiphany season, a sense of time suspended. It is as if Holy Mother Church, like a mother watching her children grow up too fast, cannot quite resign herself to parting from the young Christ.

Epiphanytide is the afterglow of the revelation of Christ to the world, Christ who is the true Enlightenment against which the devil vainly (although at times with considerable temporary success) attempts to establish his substitutes—most especially the rationalist and liberal worldview under which Catholics have been living, and which they have slowly adopted, over the past several centuries, to the near extinction of their liturgical life.

As Fulton Sheen famously said, “Every man was born to live; only Christ was born to die.” When the weeks after Epiphany have run their course, we arrive at Septuagesima, that wonderful door of transition to the three-week period of transition from the innocent joy of Christmas to the penance and introspection of the Lenten fast. What a masterful grasp of psychology the traditional liturgy displays! No normal human being would want to go from Christmas back to a so-called “Ordinary Time” and then be suddenly parachuted into Lent, as the Novus Ordo awkwardly does, with no attention to the exigencies of the heart. 

The ancient liturgy knows better: we must pass from a season that is, emotionally, perhaps the most contrary to that of Lent to the season of Lent itself by means of a medium or transitional period, a “post-Christmas and pre-Lent” period. This is Septuagesimatide.

Let us return to the little town of Cana, the inauspicious place immortalized by the highly auspicious wonder wrought by the Word-made-flesh. Our Lord’s choice to be present at the wedding feast and to perform His first miracle there is traditionally seen as His blessing on the institution and state of marriage itself, foreshadowing His institution of the sacrament of matrimony and inaugurating His own nuptial union with His immaculate Bride, which culminated in the total gift of Himself upon the Cross. The way St. John deliberately connects Cana with Calvary is evident from a close study of chapters 2 and 19 of his Gospel. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, marriage derives its Christian greatness, its sacramentality, from the fact that it represents and, in a way, makes present the indissoluble union of Christ and the Church. Could anyone fail to see that this Gospel, perennially relevant at any point in history, is particularly central and urgent in our own times, when the Creator’s gift of marriage has been misunderstood, denigrated, attacked, redefined, subtly downgraded—sometimes, alas, even by members of the Catholic hierarchy? All the more reason, then, to hold fast to the traditional annual reading of the wedding feast at Cana, brought to you by your local traditional Latin Mass.

May God in His mercy lead the Roman Church to rediscover, sooner rather than later, the immense divine and human wisdom that was and is enshrined in her ancient calendar, so that the faithful may measure their lives by its exquisite rhythm of feasts and seasons.

The History of: The Pontifical Swiss Guard's Modern Uniforms

More than you probably ever wanted to know about the uniforms of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

From Uniform History

In this one we go a bit obscure with perhaps the smallest but well dressed militaries out there, The Vatican's Pontifical Swiss Guard. 

Being that we're covering multiple uniforms in this one can find times for all of them below if you want to jump around or skip to a certain one: 

Gala: 4:06 

Gala Accessories: 7:51 

Duty: 10:35 

Representation: 12:02 

Exercise: 12:34 

Plain Clothes/Protection Detail: 13:00



271. Q. What is the Sacrament of Extreme Unction? A. Extreme Unction is the Sacrament which, through the anointing and prayer of the priest, gives health and strength to the soul, and sometimes to the body, when we are in danger of death from sickness.

272. Q. When should we receive Extreme Unction? A. We should receive Extreme Unction when we are in danger of death from sickness, or from a wound or accident. 

273. Q. Should we wait until we are in extreme danger before we receive Extreme Unction? A. We should not wait until we are in extreme danger before we receive Extreme Unction, but if possible we should receive it whilst we have the use of our senses.

274. Q. Which are the effects of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction? A. The effects of Extreme Unction are:
To comfort us in the pains of sickness and to strengthen us against temptation;
To remit venial sins and to cleanse our soul from the remains of sin;
To restore us to health, when God sees fit. 

275. Q. What do you mean by the remains of sin? A. By the remains of sin I mean the inclination to evil and the weakness of the will which are the result of our sins, and which remain after our sins have been forgiven. 

276. Q. How should we receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction? A. We should receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction in the state of grace, and with lively faith and resignation to the will of God. 

277. Q. Who is the minister of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction? A. The priest is the minister of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 

278. Q. What is the Sacrament of Holy Orders? A. Holy Orders is a Sacrament by which bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties. 

279. Q. What is necessary to receive Holy orders worthily?

A. To receive Holy Orders worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace, to have the necessary knowledge and a divine call to this sacred office. 

280. Q. How should Christians look upon the priests of the Church? A. Christians should look upon the priests of the Church as the messengers of God and the dispensers of His mysteries. 

281. Q. Who can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders? A. Bishops can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Next - Baltimore Catechism #2 - LESSON TWENTY-SIXTH ON MATRIMONY

Please note that there are gaps in the numbering, and some questions are out of order, because the questions are numbered to agree with the 'Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism' (Baltimore Catechism #4)

Word of the Day: Erastianism

ERASTIANISM. The system of Church-State relations named after Thomas Erastus (1524-83), who was a follower of Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531) and whose real name was Thomas Lieber. Its main thesis is the supremacy of civil rulers in matters of religion. The basis for this theory is the alleged analogy between the Jewish and the Christian dispensations. Erastianism became the theological justification for the established churches in England and elsewhere.

The Priests We Need to Save the Church

Another book to read! So many books, yet so little time!

By Micah Snell

The Priests We Need to Save the Church, by Kevin Wells (229 pages, Sophia Institute Press, 2019).

Kevin Wells’ monograph was started as a celebration of the priestly ministry of his uncle. Monsignor Thomas Wells was a devout and effectual priest whose ministry was cut short by his untimely murder. While compiling notes and tributes to write about the hallmarks of this pious priest, Mr. Wells unexpectedly found himself writing in the aftermath of the 2018-19 scandals that shook the Roman Catholic Church. The experienced journalist in him (he was a sports reporter for the Tampa Tribune) rose to the surface in response, and the resulting book is written primarily to priests as an exhortation to renew the vitality of their ordained ministries.

As such, The Priests We Need is a paean by a devout layman, for a worthy priest, to confront clerical malaise. Mr. Wells extends the virtues of priestly ministries he has known and studied into a rule he believes normative for all effective priestly ministries.

Let it first be said that such a zealous cry for the recovery of the church is welcome. Mr. Wells’ exhortation is clearly motivated by his love for the church, and his appeal for its wellbeing is thoughtfully encouraging in a way Catholics ignore at their peril. The appeal for uncompromising clergy and direct confrontation of sin and error in the church is equally a challenge all Christians should accept—if the Roman Catholic Church in our day is subject to condemnation, this is certainly a guilt in which all Christian traditions share.

Mr. Wells’ manifesto against clergy on behalf of the faithful might smack of insubordination, but he in fact appeals to church authority by quoting Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s 1972 exhortation to the laity:
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious.”[1]
Abp. Sheen’s exhortation has been taken up frequently in light of recent events, and Mr. Wells is not reticent to shine stronger light so that sin and corruption cannot hide under the shadow of authority.

Other critics may object to the author’s credibility, but this is a weak response given that he turns out to be on very traditional—if perhaps presently-unconventional—ground regarding the hallmarks of the Catholic priesthood. The reforms for which he pleads are returns to longstanding Catholic practice. Non-Catholics or progressives may resist, but Mr. Wells is intent on a restoration of ministries with a proven track record for bearing fruit. For a church in crisis there can be no half-hearted corrective. When priests become saints the church will listen to them.

In the fifth chapter, The Priests We Need moves beyond context and biography to present eight characteristics of excellent priests. Each is treated in detail by a succeeding chapter. The excellent priest:
  1. Adores the Eucharistic Jesus
  2. Is devoted to Mary
  3. Prays devoutly
  4. Assumes a victimhood
  5. Is a father
  6. Is persistently available
  7. Preaches divine truth
  8. Dives into souls at a moment’s notice[2]
In this eight-fold identity, the priest marries holiness and victimhood in a life wholly devoted to self-sacrifice and becoming Christ-like. The church should never expect less than heroism from its clergy. When priests become holy, the church will follow. Through such priests the church may be saved.

This strength of idealism is surely uncomfortable, but it cannot be faulted. 

Especially for Roman Catholics, priestly devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, to Mary, to prayer, and to the souls in his care must be an inspiring challenge. For Catholic laity, the implied exhortation is equally strong to expect these characteristics of their clergy and to uphold them in prayer toward that end.

Perhaps Mr. Wells’ most provocative point is his call for all priests to voluntarily submit to the bloodless martyrdom of self-sacrifice. Christianity has long recognized the white martyrdom of those faithful called to witness Christ through lifelong sacrifice, and venerated such witness alongside the blood martyrdom of those who witness Christ through their death. Mr. Wells has scarce regard for the physical or mental wellbeing of a priest, presuming both should be subsumed by the spiritual health of the priest-as-holy-victim. Appealing to the lives of John Vianney, Padre Pio, and priests he has known personally, Mr. Wells is unremitting: Priests must choose the path of martyrdom. If they are not granted red martyrdom, priests must choose the even more difficult white martyrdom of lifelong self-sacrifice, and by this Christ will strengthen their muscular Christianity that the church needs. Through self-mortification a priest will be victorious, and no sacrifice will have been in vain.

This insistence is bound to cause controversy. It will strike many as controversial to suggest that white martyrdom is a greater calling than red martyrdom. But this controversy is the sort that should inspire the faithful to reflection and devotion more rather than less. Other controversies are more difficult. Catholic teaching is that the priest stands at the sacrifice of the mass in persona Christi, and as such assumes also the role of sacrificial victim. To extend the sacrificial role into all aspects of life as far as Mr. Wells does, and to insist it is normative for the priesthood, will present not only practical challenges. Some may object that disregard for physical and emotional health have brought down many a vibrant ministry. Some may object that demanding such a sacrifice would further diminish already-limited prospects of future vocations. Some may object that even if the spirit of Mr. Wells’ exhortation is right (and we should charitably think it so), the proposed solution will not be sufficient to save the church.

There are three reasons for concern that Mr. Wells’ solution may be right but not sufficient: First, the priesthood cannot be limited to the functional role of parish priest. Second, priests alone cannot save the church. Third, the author neglects the good priest’s character as scholar and teacher of scripture.

First, the need for good priests is not limited to the parish. Historically the church has depended not only on parish priests, but also priests who were scholars and friars and canon lawyers. The need for good parish priests is great, but the functional roles of the priesthood exceed those Mr. Wells identifies. Or, to put this objection in another form, the priesthood is not a functional role but an ontological character that can be fulfilled in many ways. While all Mr. Wells’ characteristics of a good priest can be integral to such a sacramental ontology, The Priests We Need may err towards a functional view of the priesthood from the perspective of the lay faithful. I doubt that this criticism is a matter of disagreement so much as a difference of emphasis.

Second, good priests are essential to the wellbeing of the church, but they cannot be a substitute for deficiencies in the laity or ecclesiastical authority. The church has also been saved by bishops, religious, and laity as well as priests. Abp. Sheen’s exhortation demonstrates the necessity of the laity, but does not dispense with the necessity of good bishops and religious as well. I at least would welcome sequels from the author on those subjects. This criticism too is not likely a matter of disagreement so much as an expansion of the subject from Mr. Wells’ starting point.

Third, The Priests We Need does seem open to one major criticism. As Mr. Wells articulates the eight characteristics of a worthy priest, the study and teaching of scripture is not given any singular attention. He himself is thoughtful in his use of scripture to articulate his points, and gives anecdotal evidence about the importance of scripture in preaching, but “Is devoted to the study of scripture” is not a characteristic Mr. Wells distinguishes, and indeed this is likely the biggest sticking point from an ecumenical perspective. In his Epilogue, the author makes a separate list of twenty identifiers of a good priest, and although he includes among these praying the Divine Office and daily reading of a spiritual masterpiece from a Church Doctor, the study of scripture is not listed. Love of scripture seems integral to every characteristic of the priesthood that Mr. Wells identifies, and this is a strange omission.

Kevin Wells is right to bring to task the clergy of the church he so clearly loves. Every voice pleading for the healing of the church is vital and welcome, as is the vigilance of every faithful congregant who will no longer abide sinfulness, or even mediocrity. His perspective on the needs of lay people within and without the church is one to which clergy, and the church as a whole, should hearken and respond.

[1] As quoted by Wells.

[2] Wells, p.72.

The featured image is a detail from “The Missionary’s Adventures” (ca. 1883), by Jean-Georges Vibert, and is in the public domain, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Acies Ordinata: Munich Edition – An Interview with Roberto De Mattei

The interviewer asks some probing questions regarding the seeming schism in the German Church.

From One Peter Five

This morning, Saturday, January 18, 2020, Acies Ordinata, an assembly of prayer was held in Munich, Bavaria. Acies Ordinata is an international coalition of lay Catholics faithful to the Tradition of the Church. After the two preceding assemblies, which were held in Rome on February 19, 2019, and September 28, 2019, the city of Munich has been chosen for this assembly, because it is the episcopal see of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and President of the German Bishops’ Conference.

The German Bishops, after promoting the Synod on the Amazon ideologically and financially, today constitute the most advanced place of the Revolution in the Church. This coming January 30 they will gather in plenary assembly in Frankfurt to discuss the “Synodal Way” to be undertaken after the Synod on the Amazon. For this reason, the participants in the Acies Ordinata, as done previously in the other assemblies, will stand for one hour, this time gathered in front of the Theatinerkirche, the great church of the Theatines in the center of Munich, which today is in the care of the Dominicans. They do so as a sign of respectful but firm protest against the German Episcopal Conference and its President.

OnePeterFive is pleased to present the following interview with Professor Roberto de Mattei, the promoter of these events.

First of all, what is the Acies Ordinata?
The Acies Ordinata is an assembly of lay Catholics who want to publicly witness to their fidelity to the Church. We remain standing in silence for one hour, with the Rosary in hand, in order to express our resistance to the process of self-destruction of the Church. It seems that the hour has come for us to wake from sleep (Rom 13:11), recalling the words of Pius XII: “It is necessary for all militant Catholics to be on their feet and fight with the weapons that have been given to them (Radio Message of December 8, 1953).
Why is this Acies Ordinata on January 18 taking place in Munich?
Because Munich, Bavaria is the episcopal seat of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and president of the German Bishops’ Conference. On December 1, 2019, in the Munich Cathedral, Cardinal Marx opened the “Synodal Way” of the German Church. The next step will be on January 30, 2020, in the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew in Frankfurt-on-Main, where the first plenary assembly of bishops will discuss the “Synodal Way” to follow after the Synod on the Amazon. It is love for the Church that brings us together, in order to raise our respectful but firm protest against the path being undertaken by the German bishops.
Why is this “Synodal Way” dangerous?
The “Synodal Way” was defined by the German Bishops’ Conference in collaboration with the Zentralkomitee der Deutsche Katholiken (ZdK), a group of German lay people who promote the changing of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, admitting women to ecclesiastical ministries, the marriage of priests and the blessing of homosexual couples. All of these demands are part of the “Synodal Way” initiated by Cardinal Marx.
What are you asking of the German Bishops?
The goal of our assembly is an appeal for clarity and coherence on the eve of the bishops’ assembly on January 30. If the German bishops want to persist in their errors they should have the coherence and consistency to leave the Catholic Church.
But by saying that aren’t you pushing them into the sin of 
Our starting premise is that the schism within the German Church as well as the Universal Church already exists, even if it is not formally declared. For this reason I prefer to speak of the existence of two religions within the same Church, more than two opposing churches. Because, naturally, there exists only one True Church, the one divinely founded by Jesus Christ. We naturally are not asking for a schism, either from God or from the German Bishops. We ask only that the German Bishops assume their responsibility: the ideal situation would be that they return to the orthodox faith of the Church, but if they want to follow the Synodal Way to its ending they will also be assuming formal responsibility for a schism, which already exists on the practical level. It is never permissible to actively cooperate with evil, but one when faced with two evils one may choose the lesser of two evils. And I maintain that a heretic who remains within the Church represents a greater evil than a heretic who leaves her.
The problem is that Pope Francis seems to protect and support them.
It is probable that Pope Francis shares the same goals as the German Bishops, but he would like to arrive at them in a more gradual manner than they want to. This interpretation would explain Pope Francis’ “Letter to the Pilgrim People of God in Germany” issued on June 29, 2019.
For this reason, we ask for clarity also from Pope Francis. He is not ignorant of the position of the German Bishops and their objective, which is to extend the “binding” decisions of their “Permanent Synod” to the universal Church. If Pope Francis shared their doctrinal deviations then he should have the courage to say so openly. In this case however, they should not form a Roman-Germanic Church but an Amazonian-Germanic Church, separate from the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church. We we will never leave the Roman Church and we will never enter into the Amazonian Church.
You have said that German Catholics should not pay the “Kirchensteuer,” the Church tax that is obligatory for Catholics, because it funds the German Bishops and their heretical path. And yet, one can only avoid paying this tax by making a declaration abandoning the Catholic faith and formally leaving the Catholic Church (Kirchenaustritt). But in this case the result is being excommunicated. What should a Catholic person do in this situation?
In this situation, the excommunication would be invalid, because the act of formally leaving the Catholic Church (Kirchenaustritt), in order to have canonical relevance, must be a free and conscious choice, not an act one is forced into when someone, for whatever reason, wants to avoid paying the ecclesiastical tax. There is an official Vatican document that explains this: the Actus Formalis Defectionis ab Ecclesia Catholica, issued on March 13, 2006, by the Pontifical Council for Leigslative Texts (Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica).
Is there a relationship between the German “Synodal Way” and the Synod on the Amazon that concluded last October 27 in Rome?
The German “Synodal Way” is the continuation of the Synod on the Amazon, as stated by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück in an interview in the National Catholic Register on November 21, 2019. He said, speaking of the “Synodal Way,” “this is the first time this has happened in the Church,” and, “in view of the situation in Germany” the questions raised by the Pan-Amazonian Synod “are also of great importance for our Synodal Path.” Likewise, the questions that will be raised by the German “Synodal Way” will have consequences not only in Germany but in the whole world.
What would you say to those who think that your Acies Ordinata is an interference in the life of the Church in Germany?
What is at stake is the future of not only the German Church but the universal Church. According to Cardinal Müller, “the ‘German Church’ is claiming hegemony over the Universal Church and proudly and arrogantly boasting of being the one who decides the direction that a Christianity at peace with modernity ought to take.” The Catholic Church is not a national Church, but a Universal Church, to which all Catholics throughout the world belong in a spirit of brotherly love. We are lay people coming from all over the world. By our symbolic presence in Rome, Munich, or any other part of the world, we wish to demonstrate that the militant spirit has not weakened in the Church, and that there still exist those who fight for her honor and glory.
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino

Hitler and Royal Bavaria

A look at the relations between the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach and the National Socialists.

From The Mad Monarchist (15 June 2015)

At the end of World War I, the last Bavarian monarch, King Ludwig III, had relinquished power, though without abdicating, in the face of the German Revolution. He went into exile, later returned to Bavaria but had to leave again due to fear of assassination. He died in Hungary in 1921. However, the experience of radical revolutionary rule seemed to shock many Bavarians back to their senses and his funeral was a mass demonstration of support for the old monarchy. His son and heir, Crown Prince Rupprecht, refused, however, to use the occasion of his father’s funeral to seize power even though many thought such a coup could be successful. He was a celebrated war hero, a former army group commander on the western front, and after the death of his father was referred to by many as “Your Majesty”, even by some in the local government. The Crown Prince was adamant that he wanted the monarchy restored but only by legal means. He refused to recognize the Weimar Republic and was as upset about the state of affairs that prevailed in his country as every proud German was.

Brownshirts leader Ernst Roehm

Crown Prince Rupprecht refrained from entering the political fray himself but made it clear that he supported the creation of a “…constitutional, social monarchy with universal suffrage.” This seemed to be a very real possibility as monarchist support in Bavaria seemed increasingly widespread. However, Bavaria was also the birthplace of the Nazi Party and the aspiring dictator, Adolf Hitler, would find an implacable enemy in the person of the Bavarian crown prince. Hitler had served in a Bavarian regiment in World War I and started his political career in Bavaria (he belatedly had to renounce his Austrian citizenship to enter politics). However, traditional, Catholic conservatism ran strong in Bavaria and Hitler would actually find less support there than in other areas. In 1923 Hitler had tried to enlist the Crown Prince in his “Beer Hall Putsch” but the royal would have no part of it. He had earlier sent his supporter Ernst Roehm (who he would ultimately have killed) to try to enlist the support of the Crown Prince, but the Bavarian heir would have no part of it. Hitler tried to tempt the Crown Prince by hinting at supporting a restoration but never outright promising it due to the support among many Bavarian monarchists for seceding from Germany, which Hitler would not allow.
To his credit, Crown Prince Rupprecht was never taken in by the vague promises of the Nazis. It was all a deception of course as, privately, Hitler admitted, “that he couldn’t stand Rupprecht von Bayern” and never had any intention of restoring him to his throne. Fortunately, there were considerable numbers of loyal Bavarian monarchists who did support the heir-to-the-throne and as the Nazi Party grew in power, others in Bavaria increasingly looked to Crown Prince Rupprecht for their political salvation. The royal war hero commanded sufficiently widespread support in Bavaria to be seen as a potential savior from the Nazis, pushing some that were probably not monarchists at all to get behind the idea of a royal restoration. Despite being born in Bavaria, the Nazi Party actually had less support there than most would think. Finally, as the Nazis grew in power throughout Germany, Bavarian politicians began to look to Crown Prince Rupprecht as their savior. The Crown Prince himself certainly thought something needed to be done to spare Bavaria from Nazi rule and offered to step in and take charge of the government himself if no one else had the spine to stand up to Hitler.

Kronprinz Rupprecht
Finally, a plan began to take shape for Crown Prince Rupprecht to step in as a sort of Bavarian dictator with the title of “Staatskommissar” so that he could do things that the existing political establishment lacked the will or courage (or both) to do. Many Bavarian monarchists naturally supported this plan as a prelude to the restoration of the monarchy but so did many Social Democrats, so frightened were they by the sudden and rapid rise of the Nazi Party. Everything seemed favorable as every day brought more supporters as the Nazis gained more power. However, the plan was thwarted when the elderly (and increasingly senile) President Paul von Hindenburg was induced to appoint Hitler Chancellor of Germany. After that, the Nazi dictatorship was swiftly established and numerous Bavarian monarchists were thrown into prison by the new regime. Crown Prince Rupprecht refused to be reconciled with this new state of affairs. He refused to fly the Nazi flag at any of his residences and when Hitler requested the use of one of the royal castles to entertain state guests, the Crown Prince refused.

When he hoped to gain monarchist support, Hitler tried to give the impression that he would restore the monarchy in Bavaria (as in other parts of Germany depending on who he was talking to) and enlisted prominent Bavarians to try to convince the Crown Prince to endorse the Nazis. Ernst Roehm was one such figure as was his former Freikorps commander Franz Ritter von Epp, a former friend of the Crown Prince and a former monarchist but one who had abandoned that to embrace the Nazi cause. None of them succeeded. While on a visit to King George V of Great Britain, Crown Prince Rupprecht stated that he supported a “reasonable” German rearmament but felt certain that Hitler was completely insane. He still held out hope that the monarchy would be restored but, unlike some, he had the wherewithal to realize that it would not be because of the Nazis, despite their many implied or overt promises. Nor was the Crown Prince alone as there were many devout, traditional, Catholic Bavarian monarchists who were determined to resist the Nazis. One of the most prominent was Baron Adolf von Harnier but he was found out by the Gestapo and arrested in 1939.

Adolf Freiherr von Harnier

With the arrest of Baron von Harnier and the discovery of his hopes of restoring the House of Wittelsbach to the Bavarian throne, the Nazi state came down on the old Bavarian Royal Family. Properties were confiscated and, at the end of the year, Crown Prince Rupprecht and his family were forced to flee to the Kingdom of Italy where they were given sanctuary by King Victor Emmanuel III. Despite the close alliance between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Victor Emmanuel III was still the King of Italy, above Mussolini and there was nothing anyone could do to harm the Bavarian royals as long as the Savoy monarchy protected them. Furiously, Hitler banned the Crown Prince from returning to Germany and the royals settled in Florence. Likewise, Crown Prince Rupprecht never relented in his staunch opposition to the Nazi regime. Of course, there was little the Crown Prince could do under the circumstances, even his life in Italy was not totally free from worry, but he never gave up hope that the monarchy would be restored and as the war went on, it seemed more and more likely the Nazi regime would fall. He had very definite ideas about what should replace it.

One of the problems that the Nazis had with the Bavarian royal house (and some other German monarchists did as well) was their openness toward secession and the break-up of Germany. In 1942 a British diplomat who met with the Crown Prince reported that he envisioned a South German monarchy that would include Bavaria and the Austrian-Tyrol while the Rhineland and Hanover would form another state and Schleswig, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Saxony and Posen combining to form another that would separate western Europe from the Soviets. At least that was one idea. In 1943 the Crown Prince sent a memorandum to the British government volunteering to take charge of things in Germany when the Nazi regime collapsed, seemingly implying his willingness to assume the role of German Kaiser. However, more common was the proposal of joining Austria to Bavaria in a new South German monarchy. Unfortunately, after 1943, things became much more dangerous for the Bavarian Royal Family. The King of Italy dismissed Mussolini and began trying to extricate Italy from the Axis and the war. The Germans promptly began moving in to take control of as much of the Italian peninsula as possible.

The Crown Prince & Princess in Italy
The Crown Prince left his residence and was hidden by an Italian colonel, allowing him to evade the German occupation forces. However, his family was not so fortunate. They were in Hungary at the time and when the Nazis occupied Hungary in 1944 Crown Princess Antonia (of Luxembourg) and the children were taken prisoner on direct orders from Hitler himself. They were sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and were later moved to Dachau. Within the month they were liberated by American troops but the trauma of the ordeal had weakened Crown Princess Antonia and she never fully recovered, dying nine years later in Switzerland. The Crown Prince’s son, Duke Albrecht (future head of the family), was moved from place to place as well before being liberated by the French in Austria. When the war ended in 1945, U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower sent a special plane to fly Crown Prince Rupprecht back to Germany but while they were very polite and friendly, no one was prepared to take his ideas for post-war Germany under serious consideration. The Allies had already made their own agreements concerning the occupation and division of Germany and none of them included a restoration of any of the German monarchies, even one that had been so staunchly anti-Nazi from the beginning as the Royal House of Bavaria.

Crown Prince Rupprecht returned home as a more beloved figure than ever before due to his staunch opposition to the Nazis from the very beginning. Looking at the situation in post-war Bavaria, one would think that a restoration of the monarchy would have been easy. However, four foreign countries were then involved in Germany and a restoration of the monarchy was considered out of the question by both the Allies and the West German government which (and this is at least understandable) feared that this would coincide with calls for Bavarian independence, breaking up the federal union and weakening West Germany at a time when they were most concerned by the looming threat of a third world war with East Germany and the rest of the Soviet bloc. So, Crown Prince Rupprecht remained honored, beloved and respected but also without a throne. One German historian stated that many Bavarian people considered him their monarch anyway, regardless of what the law said, referring to Rupprecht as, “uncrowned, and yet a king”. When he died in 1955 tens of thousands of people visited his remains and he was given a full state funeral by the Bavarian government as if he had been a former monarch. In his person, he represented an older, nobler Bavaria and an example of a national figure who was untainted by the Nazi regime, who also represented all those Bavarians, not just the loyal Catholic royalists, who had opposed the Nazis from start to finish. He was a figure everyone in post-war Bavaria could, and in large part did, admire.