Supporting More Workers for the Vineyard
Our North American District Superior Fr. Michael Stinson summed it up in his 2020 Annual Appeal letter, which is now reaching mailboxes across the continent and which you can also read on our website:
“Fraternity priests remain ready to give their lives for you and our faith. When the lockdown forced us to close our churches, we kept the sanctuary lamps burning rearranging our schedules and lives and went to great lengths to attend to the dying, live-stream liturgies, and keep our Lord present in the world.
But quite frankly, my greatest fear is that our hardworking priests are not sufficient to turn the tide of modernism. We must do everything to provide our priests with more help.”
This year we have all learned some pointed lessons about how we spend our time and our resources. Even our most unquestioned worldly assumptions, and seemingly fixed institutions like our workplaces and schools, are suddenly being re-examined to their very essences–and we find ourselves asking if our actions are worth what we put into them.
“Everyone has to choose their priorities. How important is the Fraternity and the ancient liturgy to you?”
Privately and publicly we are hearing from more and more people who are rediscovering the Traditional Latin Mass. Sometimes they even do so over their own preconceived notions of traditional communities, or their own stereotypes and prejudices. But if they can just make that leap, they often find that what they sought most was right in our churches and parish halls.
They find their faith strengthened by the consolation of liturgical beauty, challenged and inspired by the uncompromising truth of the Gospel, and fortified with the bountiful wisdom that 2000 years can offer. They find families who delight in their children and their elderly, and homes whose wealth is measured less by income and consumer goods and more by spiritual fruits and holy charity. And they find wonderful friendships with other devout men and women who have the same desire to follow Our Lord above all else.
Many of us already know the power of the ancient Roman Mass to help us lead these kinds of lives: to strengthen us and light our path through dark and confusing times. But we cannot rest on that knowledge–we are called by Christ to carry that strength and that light out to everyone.
And for that, as Fr. Stinson states, we need more workers for the vineyard:
“Each summer, more men come to Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary. But even with our recent ‘vocations boom,’ our North American District still finds itself short of priests. Bishops continue to call, requesting new apostolates in their dioceses. Many of our current apostolates could use a second or third priest. “
As you receive your Annual Appeal letters, or as you consider donating online, we humbly ask you to reflect on how the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has been a force for good in the world and the Church. Not just for our own parishes, but for hundreds of diocesan and other communities whose priests and even bishops we have helped to recover our sacred Catholic tradition…and all the Catholic laity that these serve in turn.
The need out there is great. Perhaps even too great, in merely human terms. But with full confidence in Our Divine Lord to give the increase, we know that our little prayers and contributions today can yield a hundredfold in eternity.
And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd. Then he saith to his disciples, “The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:36-38
August 4, 2020
The Golden Legend of St. Peter’s Chains
The feast of St. Peter’s Chains on August 1st primarily focuses on the Apostle’s angelic deliverance from his imprisonment by Herod, as recounted in Acts 12. The folklore surrounding the feast also tells of two sets of chains: those used by Herod in Jerusalem, and those used during Peter’s imprisonment under Nero at the Mamertine prison in Rome. Printed below are modernized excerpts from the popular medieval work, the Golden Legend of the Saints, which discusses how the chains were recovered and the feast established in Rome.
The Feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, at Lammas
…Pope Alexander, who was the sixth after Peter, and Hermes, provost of Rome, who was converted to the faith by Alexander, were held in prison at different places by Quirinus the judge. The judge said to Hermes the provost:
“I marvel that you, who are so wise a man, would abandon the great worldly honors that you have, and the great riches that you receive from the office of provost, and leave all these things for the dream of another life.”
To whom Hermes said:
“Before now I despised and scorned it, and I supposed there had been none other life than this.”
Quirinus answered: “Prove to me that there is another life, and I shall join myself to your faith.”
Hermes said: “Alexander, whom you hold in prison, shall inform you better than I.”
But Quirinus cursed Alexander, and said to him: “I want you yourself to prove this thing to me, and instead you direct me to Alexander, whom I have bound in chains for his evil deeds. Now I shall double the guards upon you and Alexander, and I shall set a watch. And if I find you with him or him with you, I will believe that you speak the truth.
Then he doubled their guards and told Alexander. Alexander prayed to God, and an angel came to him and brought him into the cell with Hermes. And when Quirinus came to the cell he found them both together, which caused him great amazement. And then Hermes recounted to Quirinus how Alexander had healed his son and raised him from death.
Quirinus then said to Alexander: “I have a daughter named Balbina who is sick with a goiter. If you can heal her, I promise that I shall accept your faith.”
Alexander replied: “Go then, and bring her to me into my cell.”
And Quirinus said to him: “How can I find you in your cell, when you are here?”
Alexander said: “Go your way, for He that brought me here shall soon bring me back there.”
Quirinus then went and fetched his daughter, and brought her to Alexander’s cell where he found him inside, and then he knelt down at his feet. And his daughter began to kiss the chains with which Alexander was bound, hoping thereby to receive her health.
But Alexander said to her: “Daughter, do not kiss my chains, but seek the chains of St. Peter and kiss them with devotion, and thou shalt receive thy health.”
So Quirinus set out to seek the chains of Peter, and these were found. And Alexander bade his daughter to kiss them. As soon as she had done so, she received her health and was all whole. Then Quirinus demanded pardon and forgiveness, and delivered Alexander out of prison, and received holy Baptism: he and all his attendants and many others. Then Alexander established this holy feast to be kept always on the first day of August, and he made a church in honor of S. Peter, where he set the chains and named it St. Peter ad vincula.
And to that church come many people at that solemnity, and the people there kiss the bonds and chains of St. Peter.
The month of August was formerly called Sextilis. The people dedicated and named it after Augustus in honor and remembrance of the victory that the emperor had on the first day of this month. All the Romans kept that day as a great solemnity until the time of Theodosius the emperor, who began to reign in the year of our Lord 426.
At that time Eudosia, daughter of the said Theodosius the emperor, and wife of Valens, went by a vow to Jerusalem. There a Jew gave to her for great love a great gift: the two chains with which St. Peter was bound under Herod. She was overjoyed at this, yet when she returned to Rome she saw that the Romans kept the first day of August in honor of a dead pagan emperor. She was very sorrowful because they gave so much honor to a man who was damned, and she thought that they would not lightly give up this custom. If possible, she wished not to leave the day as it then was, but to remake it instead in honor of S. Peter, that all the people should call it St. Peter ad Vincula.
And she discussed the matter with St. Pelagius the Pope, then declared with fair words that the prince of pagans was now forgotten, and the memory of the prince of the apostles would be kept instead. And this pleased all the people. Then she brought forth the chains that she had brought from Jerusalem, and showed them to the public. Then the pope brought out the chain with which Peter had been bound under Nero, and as soon as that chain touched the others, all three by a miracle were made one, as if they had never been separated.
The pope and the queen thus established that the people’s foolish custom of making solemnity of a pagan, was changed into a better one for St. Peter, prince of the apostles. And the pope and the queen set the chains in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula. And the queen gave to said church great gifts and privileges, and it was established that day to be hallowed over all.
July 30, 2020
Fr. James Buckley FSSP on the Parable of the Unjust Steward
In the March 2011 edition of the Fraternity Newsletter, Fr. James Buckley wrote a piece on the Parable of the Unjust Steward, just read this past Sunday in the Gospel for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost. Some highlights:
The chief difficulty the modern reader finds with the realism of this parable is that the steward after being told of his dismissal is still allowed to exercise his office. Father Leopold Fonck, S.J., a great scriptural scholar, maintains, however, that in Palestine during Our Lord’s public ministry some time would elapse before a discharged steward would surrender his office to a successor.
To discover this parable’s meaning one can follow the advice of Tertullian who wrote that one will find no parable which was not either explained by Christ or illumined by a commentary of an evangelist. “For the children of this world are wiser in their own generation than the children of light” is a comment emphasizing the necessity of prudence. The unjust steward represents the “children of this world” because he lives his life estranged from God. He, however, acts more wisely to secure his temporal good in this passing world than do those enlightened by the truth of Christ to attain their eternal good.
Read more here.
July 28, 2020
They Watch Over It Still
by Rachel Shrader
From humble beginnings in Switzerland in the 1980s, the Fraternity has spread over the entire globe, with a presence in many European mainland countries, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. With the FSSP’s mission apostolates in Nigeria and Colombia, this relatively small group of priests covers five of six habitable continents. The only one that has eluded them is Asia.
But perhaps that is about to change.
In 2019, Fr. Laurent Demets, FSSP, arrived in Vietnam. His mission: to bring the Latin Mass to a country that is thousands of miles from the next-nearest FSSP center (if our calculations are correct, the next-closest is Australia), where the population is only 7-8% Catholic and which is surrounded by non-Christian countries on all sides. Like so many missionaries before him, the challenges confronting Fr. Demets from the outset were daunting in human terms.
But God’s work is not bound by human limitations, and Fr. Demets brings not only experience but a genuine and long-standing love for Vietnam to his work. He has been a priest for two decades, having celebrated the 20th anniversary of his ordination earlier this month. Originally from France, he spent the first part of his religious life with a Benedictine community in his home country before deciding to attend the Fraternity’s seminary in Wigratzbad, Germany. He has served in France, the United States, and most recently, at our apostolate in Québec City in French-speaking Canada.
His particular interest in Vietnam goes back to his childhood, when he heard stories of his great-grandfather’s work in the French colonial administration of Vietnam. Before his vocation became apparent, Fr. Demets was considering joining the French Army as he read in depth about the First Indochina War.
“Beyond the war story,” he said, “I was fascinated by the culture and history of the country.”
When Fr. Demets began to pursue his priestly vocation, Asia remained on his mind. He was inspired by the life of St. Théophane Vénard, a French missionary (and a favorite of St. Thérèse of Lisieux) who spread the Faith in Vietnam and was martyred there in 1861 at the age of 31. Fr. Demets even considered joining France’s society for missionary priests, the Missions Étrangères or Paris Foreign Missions Society, of which Fr. Vénard was a member.
“But the priority was for me the Latin Mass, so I joined the Fraternity of St. Peter, but still had this desire to be a missionary priest in Asia if possible, and now it’s possible with the Fraternity, so thanks be to God,” Fr. Demets said.
While working in France and Canada, Fr. Demets met a number of Vietnamese friends who connected him with families in Vietnam, and he began visiting the country annually for a month at a time. Having obtained permission from his FSSP superiors to begin a project in Vietnam, he made his official move there last year and stayed for nine months in the northern part of the country at a Cistercian monastery, where he taught French and English classes. He traveled about as he could to celebrate the Latin Mass and form contacts in the country, and with the conclusion of classes at the monastery this past month, he moved south to Saigon, where he hopes to open the first Fraternity apostolate in Vietnam. After operating out of a small residence and house chapel for a few weeks, he is now based at St. Théophane Vénard House, which was dedicated this past Sunday, July 26th.
“So it’s a beginning, there are still many things to do, it’s not easy but it’s quite exciting,” he said.
Though Catholics are a minority in Vietnam, Fr. Demets explained that they are a strong minority. The churches are large and beautiful, the Masses are well-attended and seminaries and religious houses are not wanting for vocations. This in itself sometimes means that people, while not opposed to the Latin Mass, are not necessarily drawn to it, but Fr. Demets is optimistic that the numbers will grow, citing the attendance at a recent pilgrimage. This past Pentecost, Fr. Demets led 70 members of the community on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Bãi Dâu, located on the beautiful coast southeast of Saigon. He celebrated the Mass of Pentecost at an outdoor altar adorned with tropical flowers, beneath a statue of Our Lady that looks towards the turquoise-blue sea. The Mass of the ages seemed right at home amidst the immense beauty of the place.
For a number of reasons, the Archbishop of Saigon has asked that Fr. Demets’ Masses remain private for now, but he is not opposed to Fr. Demets helping the young men in his diocese discern their vocations with the Fraternity.
And potential vocations there are. One of them is 18-year-old Thomas Nguyen, a lifelong Catholic and one of the first six members of the Confraternity of St. Peter in Vietnam. He discovered the Latin Mass as he was searching for a more reverent Mass to attend, much preferring the sacred atmosphere of the traditional liturgy. He proceeded to research orders that offered the Latin Mass, came upon the Fraternity, and began to follow various Facebook groups related to the FSSP. After a year, he rejoiced upon seeing a post that Fr. Laurent Demets was coming to Vietnam to found an apostolate.
On October 26th, 2019, Thomas attended his first Latin Mass, a sung Mass celebrated at a parish near Saigon whose pastor is an enthusiastic supporter of the Latin Mass and remembers serving it when he was young. For Thomas, it was not only his first time attending a Latin Mass, but also his first time serving it, having learned the ropes in one two-hour session from Fr. Demets.
“That was really special for me,” Thomas said. “Actually, really special because after 50 years, on the 26th of October, that was the first sung Mass, first public sung Mass celebrated in Vietnam 50 years after the Vatican II Council.”
Thomas is currently finishing his high school education and plans to pursue environmental engineering at a university in Finland. But after that, he aims to study for the priesthood at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary or possibly the FSSP’s European seminary in Wigratzbad, Germany.
“I really want to come back to Vietnam to serve here,” he said.
Thomas’ hopes are strong that his fledgling community will take root, expand and possibly find its own church or chapel where he can work.
Both Thomas and Fr. Demets acknowledge that projects such as these take time, potentially many years, to grow into full apostolates. But neither one seems fazed by the road ahead. They both emphasize that prayer is their greatest need, and hope that those who hear of their little apostolate will pray for its success.
“Because if Our Lord wants, we can do anything,” Thomas said.
If you feel called to support the work of FSSP Vietnam materially, your donations would be much appreciated as well. You can securely donate through the FSSP’s Mission Tradition website.
The task of establishing a Latin Mass community in Vietnam seems monumental, but certainly, the work has been in good hands from the very beginning. Before Fr. Demets, saints such as St. Théophane, St. Andrew Dũng-Lạc and thousands of others enlightened this land with their faith and consecrated it with their blood. No doubt they watch over it still, and over the budding community that, Deo volénte, will one day blossom into the Fraternity’s first apostolate in Asia. +
Courage! God asks of us only our good will; His grace does the rest. What I am most afraid of, is lest you should be discouraged. The Christian motto is Hope! Hope on! Hope ever!
~ St. Théophane Vénard ~
Rachel Shrader was the editor and primary writer of the Missive from its inception in June 2017 until May 2020. She now contributes as a freelance writer, covering military topics, the international work of the FSSP, and FSSP parish life.
July 27, 2020
St. Joseph against Socialism: 100 Years of Bonum Sane
Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the motu proprio Bonum Sane. On July 25, 1920, Pope Benedict XV promoted devotion to St. Joseph to combat the Marxist revolutions and the breakdown in family morals after World War I. As it is difficult to find an English version online, we have provided a rough translation below for the benefit of our readers.
Of His Holiness
Devotion to St. Joseph,
Half a century as
Patron of the Catholic Church
It was a good and salutary thing for the Christian people that Our Predecessor of immortal memory Pius IX decreed the most chaste Spouse of the Virgin Mother of God and Custodian of the Word Incarnate, Joseph, to be patron of the Catholic Church, and as the 50th anniversary of the auspicious event occurs next December, we believe it useful that it would be solemnly celebrated by the entire world.
If We look over this period of time, it displays to us a long series of pious institutions which attest that the cult of the most holy Patriarch has gradually grown among Christ’s faithful to the present. If we also consider the calamities that afflict the human race at present, it appears all the more necessary that this cult be substantially increased among the people and more widespread everywhere.
In fact, after the grave tensions of the war, we have indicated in Our recent Encyclical “On the Reconciliation of Christian Peace” what was missing to re-establish a tranquility of order everywhere, particularly in the relations that exist between peoples and between individuals in the civil sphere. And now it is necessary to consider another cause of disturbance, much deeper, that lurks in the inmost bowels of human society. Namely, when the scourge of war struck the human race, people were already deeply infected with naturalism, that great pestilence of the century that, where it takes root, diminishes the desire for heavenly things, extinguishes the flame of divine charity, and takes from man the grace of Christ that heals and elevates, and — finally taking away the light of Faith and leaving him only the corrupt forces of nature — leaves him at the mercy of his wildest passions. Thus it happened that many people dedicated themselves only to the acquisition of earthly goods, and while the strife between the proletarians and the owners grew more acute, this class hatred increased all the more with the duration and atrocity of the war, which on the one hand caused intolerable economic hardship to the masses, and other hand made spectacular fortunes flow into the hands of a very few.
It should be added that the sanctity of faith in marriage and many people’s respect for paternal authority have been not a little wounded by the war, both because the absence of one spouse has diminished in the other the bond of duty, and also because the absence of a vigilant eye has furnished the occasion for rashness, especially for the woman, to live too freely according to one’s own tastes. Therefore we cannot fail to notice with true pain that popular morals are now quite a bit more depraved and corrupt than before, and that therefore the so-called “social question” has been getting worse to the point of threatening irreparable ruin.
Indeed, in the votes and the expectations of the most seditious, an idea has matured of a certain universal republic to come, founded on the absolute equality of men and on the communion of goods, in which there would no longer be any distinctions of nationality, and in which is recognized neither the authority of the father over his children, nor the public authority over the citizens, nor the authority of God over men united in a civil consortium. All things which, if they were realized, would necessarily give rise to tremendous societal convulsions, such as that which is now devastating a not small portion of Europe. And precisely to bring about a similar condition of things among other peoples, we see that the common people are agitated by the fury and the impudence of a few, and here and there we see riots.
We however, concerned more than anything by the course of these events, did not neglect, when the opportunity offered itself, to remind the sons of the Church their duty, as we recently did with the letter addressed to the Bishop of Bergamo and to the bishops of the Veneto region. And now with the same motive, that is to remember the duty to the men on our side who earn their bread with labor, however many and wherever they are, to keep them immune from the contagion of socialism, the bitter enemy of Christian principles, We with great solicitude offer them in a particular way St. Joseph—that they might follow him as their special guide and honor him as their heavenly Patron.
He, in fact, lived a life similar to theirs, so much so that Jesus, God, despite being the Only Begotten of the Eternal Father, willed to be called “the carpenter’s son.” But he knew how to adorn that humble and poor condition of his with so much and so many types of virtue! Above all, those virtues were to shine in the spouse of Mary Immaculate, and in the putative father of Our Lord Jesus. Therefore, at the school of Joseph, all will learn to consider passing current events in the light of their futures that last eternally, and consoling the inevitable hardships of the human condition with the hope of the good things of heaven, they should aspire to the latter through obeying the divine will, living soberly, according to the dictates of justice and piety. As regards the workers specially, it pleases Us to restate here the words proclaimed by our Predecessor of happy memory Leo XIII, since they are such that, in Our opinion, nothing can be said better about the matter:
“Through these considerations, the poor and those who live by the labour of their hands should be of good heart and learn to be just. If they win the right of emerging from poverty and obtaining a better rank by lawful means, reason and justice uphold them in changing the order established, in the first instance, for them by the Providence of God. But recourse to force and struggles by seditious paths to obtain such ends are madnesses which only aggravate the evil which they aim to suppress. Let the poor, then, if they would be wise, trust not to the promises of seditious men, but rather to the example and patronage of the Blessed Joseph, and to the maternal charity of the Church, which each day takes an increasing compassion on their lot.”
With the flourishing of the faithful’s devotion to St. Joseph, there will simultaneously increase as a consequence their devotion to the Holy Family of Nazareth, of which he was the august Head, the two devotions spontaneously welling up one from the other. In fact, through Joseph we go directly to Mary, and through Mary, to Jesus, the origin of all holiness, who consecrated the domestic virtues with His obedience to Joseph and Mary.
We therefore desire that Christian families be fully inspired by these marvelous examples of virtue and conform to them. In this way, since the family is the fulcrum and the basis of human unity, strengthening domestic society with the defense of holy purity, harmony, and fidelity, with all these a new vigor and, we might even say, a new blood would circulate through the veins of human society, by virtue of Christ, and there will follow not only an amelioration of private morals, but also in the discipline of community and civil life.
We, therefore, full of trust in the patronage of him, to whose vigilant providence God was pleased to grant custody of his Incarnate Only Begotten and of the Virgin Mother of God, we strongly exhort all the Bishops in the Catholic world so that, in these stormy times for Christianity, they will lead the faithful to implore with greater commitment the valuable help of St. Joseph. And because there are many ways approved by this Apostolic See by which one can venerate the Holy Patriarch, especially on all the Wednesdays of the year and in the entire month consecrated to him, We desire that, by request of each Bishop, all these devotions be practiced in every diocese as much as possible. But in a particular way, because he is justly held as the most efficacious protector of the dying, having expired with the assistance of Jesus and Mary, holy Pastors should take care to inculcate and favor with all the prestige of their authority those pious associations instituted to supplicate Joseph in favor of the dying, such as those “of a Happy Death”, of the “Transit of St. Joseph”, and “for the Dying.”
To commemorate the aforementioned Pontifical Decree, we order and enjoin that within a year, beginning at the 8th of December, in all the Catholic world there will be celebrated, in honor of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the Catholic Church, a solemn ceremony, how and when each Bishop deems appropriate: and to all those who assist you, We grant now, with the usual conditions, a Plenary Indulgence.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, on July 25, the feast of St. James the Apostle, 1920, in the sixth year of Our pontificate.
BENEDICTUS PP. XV
July 24, 2020
The True Beauty of the Magdalene
Mary Magdalene has long been a favored subject for artists, and a particularly spectacular example is seen in The Penitent Magdalene of the Florentine master Carlo Dolci (1616-1687). The Magdalene was a subject that Dolci frequently revisited, but this version is notable for the realism and raw emotion that suffuses the depiction: her reddened and watery eyes, the delicate clasp of her hands, and the inclination of her head.
Dolci was a sensitive and intense perfectionist who spent inordinate amounts of time on details, and he once fell into a depression when he witnessed another painter work much more quickly than he did. He was, however, an extraordinarily devout man and quite deliberate in making his art an act of devotion. A contemporary said of him: ““it was difficult to tell whether he was more excellent in the art of painting … or in living a good life”, and his spiritual adviser remarked that his conscience was displayed in his brush.
So many treatments of the Magdalene tend toward the markedly unpenitential or even gratuitously immodest–but Dolci’s is a fundamentally religious work from start to finish.
And indeed, what he achieved is a masterpiece of devotional symbolism: a little glimpse of how incomparably beautiful our contrition looks in the eyes of Almighty God.
July 22, 2020
Annual Appeal: The Tower Must Not Fall
“The world changes, and all that once was strong now proves unsure. How shall any tower withstand such numbers and such reckless hate?”
-The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien
Lately we seem to be watching the news with ever greater alarm, bombarded by more and more outrageous images, radical revolutions, and videos of pure inhumanity that chillingly resemble Thomas Cole’s 1836 painting The Course of Empire: Destruction.
In response to the madness around us, we may be internally despairing, or raging, or avoiding it all. We may cancel or boycott companies that undermine our values. We may empty the store shelves out of determination or defiance. And starved for justice and truth, we may donate to firebrand commentators or channels who “tell it like it is.”
Those actions certainly have their place, but as Catholics, our eyes are always, always fixed on Christ first and last. And this applies not only in the battles in the public square but also in the battles that rage in our very hearts.
Because we know, as few others seem to, that it is the same battle.
And under these odds, how could we poor sinners hope to prevail over the Enemy without the sacraments? Without Holy Communion to strengthen us, Confession to cleanse us? Without hands consecrated in Holy Orders? Without the graces and fruits of Matrimony?
This is not a time to run from a fight.
It is a time to marshal our resources, to be prudent about where we spend our money and where we invest our time, and to not allow the headlines to succeed in distracting us from what is truly important.
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter asks for your support in our Annual Appeal—our most important fundraiser for helping us train more priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass. More priests mean more sacraments, more graces, more relief for those suffering and burdened by sin, more prayer to fortify the Church militant during its trials, and more voices to speak in defense of God’s eternal law over the fleeting dictates of men.
We stand unapologetically for Holy Mother Church. We stand for the Faith and the Sacred Liturgy of our Fathers—unadulterated, unchanging, and unswayed from its divinely given mission by any civil power or revolutionary threat.
If you stand with us, we invite you to help us in this spiritual battle, to pray for our priests and give us the tools we need to keep the glorious tower of Catholic tradition intact as the refuge of the faithful and as an unconquerable beacon to the rest of humanity, shining the blazing light of Christ into an ever-darkening world.
July 21, 2020
An Alter Christus upon the Highway
A priest is called to be an alter Christus—an “other Christ.” And like the Master he follows, most of the time he serves the Church in the hidden, quiet way of the soul. Once in a while, however, it is God’s will that His priest serve in a very visible, even extraordinary fashion—even without the priest knowing it.
On July 8, 2020, as Fr. John Killackey was returning to the FSSP apostolate in Harrisburg through heavy rain and low visibility, he saw an accident through the mist that must have happened only moments before. Pulling over and seeing the extent of the wreckage, he grabbed his Oil of the Sick and went to assist. The witnesses led Fr. Killackey to one the victims of the crash, and he administered conditional Last Rites.
“I was trying to do everything properly, and then get out of the way so that the EMTs, policemen, and firefighters who were arriving could do their good work….It is a moment I will never forget, and we need to pray for all those involved in this accident and their families.”
Fr. Killackey then began walking up the highway to see if anyone else needed a priest. As he returned to his car, it started to rain again. It was at that point that someone took a photograph of the priest in cassock, walking in the rain—a photograph that would be widely shared with the story of the accident on social media.
Fr. Killackey insists, however, that he was a vessel of grace who just happened to be there at the time. “So many other priests would have done the exact same thing in that situation. Countless other priests never photographed—and far more deserving of a picture—have been that ‘other Christ’ to people now and through the centuries.” Father was also quick to give credit to the EMTs who “worked very hard that day to rescue people and got drenched to the bone in the rain.”
And while he thinks it was Providential he was there to administer the sacrament, he believes the photograph had nothing to do with him as a person, but his office.
“It was a moment to show what the priesthood is. The priest is one who lives for Christ and is supposed to be ‘another Christ.’ He brings Our Lord to people in the sacraments at all moments of life, but particularly during the difficult moments such as at the end of life when we prepare to meet God. That is why the priest belongs on those scenes so that through him, Our Lord can give grace to souls in those difficult moments.”
He also takes the occasion to offer a spiritual reminder on what’s important.
“We never know when Our Lord may call us to Himself, and want to make sure that we keep focused on Him. We all find ourselves getting distracted by the details and cares of this life and it makes it easy to lose sight of the great end for which we are created, the one which will last forever.”
July 20, 2020
FSSP Helps a Bishop Discover the Latin Mass
We are pleased to share a second FSSP-related National Catholic Register article this week: A US Bishop Discovers the Traditional Latin Mass.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas was interviewed by the Register and goes into detail about what inspired him to celebrate his first Traditional Latin Mass on June 11, 2020:
Once the motu proprio was established and we were encouraged to make the Latin Mass available, we did this — his secretary was a FSSP [Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter] priest, so I know he was comfortable with the rite. He chose to bring the Fraternity to establish a little community here, and, again, it was very foreign to me. So, when they would approach the cathedral — and this sounds so pejorative now — I found myself often saying, “Oh, here come those people.” Of course I was encouraged to be welcoming and inviting as rector of the cathedral. They later would establish their parish, St. Joseph the Worker, and one of the very first things I did as bishop was to celebrate confirmation for them in Latin. That was a little different for me, celebrating a confirmation outside the Mass — as is done in the traditional rite. They joked my Latin had a Spanish accent!
What changed? What prompted you to learn the extraordinary form?
I’ve been bishop seven and a half years, and we do have priests and seminarians who have expressed interest in the extraordinary form, along with families — young families — participating, going to the Fraternity parishes. More and more, I found people expressing their desires to me to permit the Latin Mass — and, of course, I did, following the motu proprio. I found myself, more and more, becoming aware of the Latin Mass and the draw of the people to it, that it wasn’t this antiquated, negative thing that needed to stay buried.
His Excellency goes on to list some of the resources that helped him learn the traditional Mass, including the FSSP’s instructional YouTube videos.
He also shared a wonderfully emotional moment that happened to him during the Mass:
Just the beauty of the corporal and how the Host and the chalice are treated — I have to say [long pause, filled with emotion] I could hardly say the words of consecration because I became so filled with emotion, so deeply struck by those words. Thank God we only must whisper them in this rite, because I am not sure I would have been able to speak above that whisper, so struck I was at the profundity. It was the first time in my life that I had ever said those words in Latin, and I could hardly get them out. It’s indescribable, really.
Read the full interview at the National Catholic Register.
July 17, 2020
“They Have Been Waiting For You” – Oklahoma Confirmations 2020
by Lisa Lyhane
After disappointing delays due to the church shutdown, the parish of St. Damien of Molokai in Edmond, Oklahoma ushered in the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a grand way when St. Damien’s pastor Fr. Simon Zurita notified the religious education catechists that Confirmation and First Holy Communions would take place. It did not take long to spread the exciting news that, after weeks of waiting, it was time for the girls to steam their white dresses and the boys to pull out their suits.
With a quick two-week notice, plans were set in motion to accommodate the Confirmation candidates, their sponsors and their parents in a space that had been reduced by half. Normally, a full church and a large indoor reception would follow, but this year, the good Lord would provide a perfect early summer evening, and on June 2nd, 2020, an excited group of 23 candidates were presented to His Excellency Paul Coakley to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and to become soldiers of Jesus Christ. After the Confirmations took place, the confirmandi and their families spilled outside for pictures and a joyous reunion after having been separated since mid-March, when catechism classes were abruptly halted.
Confirmation season in the Oklahoma City Diocese keeps Archbishop Coakley busy every day during the spring, but with the church shutdowns this year, Confirmations were completely backed up. Confirmation catechist Terry Lyhane spoke with the Archbishop about this and found out that His Excellency had been able to administer the sacrament at his own Cathedral parish two days before and said that St. Damien’s was the second and the last Confirmation he would do this season, since he was just unable to go to the others due to the scheduling difficulties. He was giving the parish priests the permission to administer the sacrament in those parishes. St. Damien’s was deeply touched that His Excellency was able to do this for our parish, and as one of the attendees said to His Excellency, “The children have been waiting for this – they have been waiting for you.”
To take the sting out of not being able to have the usual refreshments, the confirmandi were treated to their very own “take-out” boxes of cupcakes, and each of them was presented with a plaque with their picture, along with a picture and short bio of their chosen patron saint.
The festive atmosphere continued through the first week of June, as a total of 17 children, who had been waiting for their Lord in the Holy Eucharist, were able to receive their first Holy Communion on Friday and Saturday, June 5th and 6th, 2020. First Communion Catechist Mrs. Janel Apel said, “it was very beautiful and such a treat to be in the church.”
After weeks of parking lot and on-line Masses, St. Damien’s parishioners are overjoyed to be back “in the church.” Father has added an extra Sunday Mass to accommodate us during this time, and the parish continues to grow with new faces every week.
St. Damien Catholic Church invites all those who are in the vicinity or just passing through to join us for daily and Sunday Mass at our location on 8455 NW 234th Street, Edmond, Oklahoma 73025. More information on the church can be found at www.saintdamiens.org.
July 16, 2020