Bishop Brennan Attends Easter Sunday Mass in Fresno
Fr. José Zepeda, FSSP of the Holy Cross Chaplaincy in Fresno, California ended Holy Week with a celebration of Easter Sunday Solemn High Mass in the presence of The Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan, Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno.
Fr. Zepeda had been waiting for a solemn High Mass on a major feast day to have Bishop Brennan visit the community, and Easter Sunday provided the right opportunity.
Holy Cross Chaplaincy shares some beautiful images of Fresno’s Holy Week Triduum, Easter Sunday Mass with Bishop Brennan in choir, and His Excellency’s blessing of the Easter baskets.
April 25, 2022
The Chapters of Passiontide
by Fr. William Rock, FSSP
In these last two weeks of Lent, fittingly called Passiontide, the liturgical focus of the Church shifts from our sinfulness and the need to make reparations for our sins to contemplating Our Lord’s Passion and Death, which will soon be commemorated in the approaching solemn observances. One of the ways she does this is by the short readings daily presented in the Divine Office, called the Chapter. We will touch on each one in turn.
At Lauds, the early morning prayer, during Passiontide, the Church reads the following from the Prophet Jeremias in the 11th chapter of his book: “Come, let us put wood on his bread, and cut him off from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no more”1 (Jer 11:19). The Epistle for the Tuesday of Holy Week is also from the same chapter of Jeremias and includes the quoted text. Immediately before what is quoted for Lauds is found, “And I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim: and I knew not that they had devised counsels against me” (Jer 11:19). The prophet is speaking in the person of Our Lord, the Lamb of God, Who was led to sacrifice as a meek lamb. Writing in the mid-1800s, Dom Guéranger wrote the following as a commentary for the Epistle for the Tuesday of Holy Week in his Liturgical Year:
Again we have the plaintive words of Jeremias: he gives us the very words used by his enemies, when they conspired his death. It is evident, however, that the prophet is here the figure of one greater than himself. Let us, say these enemies, put wood upon his bread: that is, let us put poisonous wood into what he eats, that so we may cause his death. This is the literal sense of these words, as applied to the prophet; but how much more truly were they fulfilled in our Redeemer! He tells us that His divine Flesh is the true Bread that came down from heaven. This Bread, this Body of the Man-God, is bruised, torn, and wounded; the Jews nail it to the wood; so that, it is, in a manner, made one with the wood, and the wood is all covered with Jesus’ Blood. This Lamb of God was immolated on the wood of the cross: it is by His immolation, that we have had given to us a Sacrifice which is worthy of God; and it is by this Sacrifice that we participate in the Bread of heaven, the Flesh of the Lamb, our true Pasch.2
St. Thomas, in his commentary on this passage, has the same interpretation: “Mystically, it is the body of Christ on the wood of the cross…”3
At the next Office, that of Prime, the following from the 50th chapter of the Prophet Isaias is read: “I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me. The Lord God is my helper, therefore am I not confounded” (Isa 50:6-7). Immediately before this excerpt in the text of Scripture, the following is found: “I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them,” so that the full quote of the verses in consideration is: “I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me. The Lord God is my helper, therefore am I not confounded: therefore have I set my face as a most hard rock, and I know that I shall not be confounded” (Isa 50:6-7). Just as with Jeremias at Lauds, Isaias is speaking in the person of Our Lord regarding His voluntary suffering and Passion. As with the Chapter from Lauds, this passage is part of a Gospel read during these two weeks, namely that for the Monday of Holy Week. Again, Dom Guéranger provides insight into this Epistle, and thus the Chapter:
The sufferings of our Redeemer, and the patience wherewith He is to bear them, are thus prophesied by Isaias, who is always so explicit on the Passion. Jesus has accepted the office of victim for the world’s salvation; He shrinks from no pain or humiliation: He turns not His Face from them that strike Him and spit upon Him. What reparation can we make to this infinite Majesty, who, that He might save us, submitted to such outrages as these? Observe these vile and cruel enemies of our divine Lord; now that they have Him in their power, they fear Him not. When they came to seize Him in the garden, He had but to speak, and they fell back upon the ground; but He has now permitted them to bind His hands and lead Him to the high priest. They accuse Him; they cry out against Him; and He answers but a few words. Jesus of Nazareth, the great teacher, the wonder-worker, has seemingly lost all His influence; they can do what they will with Him. It is thus with the sinner; when the thunder-storm is over, and the lightning has not struck him, he regains his courage. The holy angels look on with amazement at the treatment shown by the Jews to Jesus, and falling down, they adore the holy Face, which they see thus bruised and defiled: let us, also, prostrate and ask pardon, for our sins have outraged that same Face.4
At the midmorning Office, Terce, the Church again draws from the Prophet Jeremias, chapter 17: “O Lord: all that forsake thee shall be confounded: they that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth: because they have forsaken the Lord, the vein of living waters” (Jer 17:13). This text is also found in the Epistle for the Friday of Passion Week. Unlike the other texts examined up to this point, this excerpt is not a prophet speaking in the person of Our Lord about what He will undergo during His Passion; rather, here, the prophet foretells what will happen to those who have forsaken the One Who made this invitation: “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (Jon 7:37-38). It should be noted that Our Lord gave this invitation the day before He pardoned the woman caught in adultery, during which encounter He “wrote with his finger on the ground” (Joh 8:6; the Gospel for the Saturday following the Third Sunday of Lent). Cornelius a Lapide, in his commentary on this episode, explains Our Lord’s writing on the ground by referencing this passage from Jeremias (“they that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth”). Let this reading of Terce serve as a warning to Christians to never abandon or forsake “the Lord, the vein of living waters,” lest they find themselves under the associated censure.
The Hour of Sext, prayed at noon, again draws from the 17th chapter of the Prophet Jeremias: “Let them be confounded that persecute me, and let not me be confounded: let them be afraid, and let not me be afraid: bring upon them the day of affliction, and with a double destruction, destroy them, O Lord my God” (Jer 17:18). Just like the Chapter at Terce, this text is also part of the Epistle for the Friday of Passion Week and again concerns the doom of those who persecute Christ and reject the offer of salvation He holds out to them, while also expressing the hope of the Just Man trusting in God.
At the Hour of None, prayed in the midafternoon, a passage from the 18th chapter of the Prophet Jeremias is read: “Remember that I have stood in thy sight, to speak good for them, and turn away thy indignation from them” (Jer 18:20). This text is also contained in the Epistle for the Saturday of Passion Week. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his commentary on this passage has the following:
Concerning the phrase: that I may speak good for them (Jer 18:20), it should be noted that Christ speaks good for us that he may obtain mercy: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). To excuse guilt: we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just man; and he is the atonement for our sins (1 John 2:1–2). You have come to the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkling of blood, which speaks better than that of Abel (Heb 12:24). To obtain glory: I desire that where I am, they also may be with me, that they may see my glory, which you have given me (John 17:24).
Unlike the previous two readings, which detail the portion of those who forsake or persecute Christ, this passage expresses the good lot of those who turn to Christ, Who, in the light of His Passion, intercedes for them before the Father.
At Vespers, the evening Office, the reading continues from where the one at Lauds ended in the 11th chapter of Jeremias (Jer 11:20): “But thou, O Lord of Sabaoth, who judgest justly, and triest the reins and hearts, let me see thy revenge on them: for to thee I have revealed my cause, O Lord my God.” Just like the reading at Lauds, this reading is also found in the Epistle for the Tuesday of Holy Week. As with the readings at Terce and Sext, this Chapter treats with the fate of those who have persecuted Our Lord and also His Mystical Body. St. Thomas explains this passage as follows:
Let me see your vengeance upon them, from the person of Christ, on those who are stubborn, for he prays for others. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). You have seen, O Lord, their iniquity against me, judge my cause (Lam 3:59). And he gives the reason: for to you have I revealed, not as to one who did not know, but trusting my whole cause to you. Cast your care upon the Lord, and he will sustain you (Ps 54:22 ).
These are the reflections which Holy Mother Church would like us to consider in these days – as they are presented in the daily Office – as we approach the Triduum. May we profit from them.
William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.
- These Chapters, along with their Offices, can be found on The Divinum Officium Project.
- Prosper, Guéranger. The Liturgical Year – Volume VI – Passiontide and Holy Week. Fitzwilliam: Loreto Publications, 2000, pp. 258-259.
- The translations of the St. Thomas’ Commentaries were taken from here.
- Guéranger, pp. 246-247.
April 4, 2022
by Fr. William Rock, FSSP
As Tolkien’s stories also aim to illustrate…one of the greatest ironies of modern industrialization, technology, and its related consumerism is the way in which they have rendered human beings so helplessly dependent upon the very things that were supposed to set them free.1
These powerful and striking words were penned by Jonathan S. McIntosh for his The Flame Imperishable – Tolkien, St. Thomas and the Metaphysics of Faërie. In this work, McIntosh sets out to reveal the influence the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas had on Tolkien’s Middle Earth, with a particular focus on the creation account given at the beginning of The Silmarillion, the precursor to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The words quoted above are found in the chapter on evil: “The Metaphysics of Melkor.”
With very little reflection, the truth of the quote is ascertained. How many skills have been lost due to an over-reliance on technology? How has intellectual rigor decayed with so much information – but not knowledge and wisdom – at the ready? This dependence, however, does not just result in a decay of those who are dependent upon it; it makes them vulnerable as never before. Driving this point home, McIntosh quotes Peter Kreeft’s The Philosophy of Tolkien:
The Industrial Revolution made slavery inefficient and unnecessary. But our addiction is the same whether the slaves are made of flesh, metal, or plastic. We have done exactly what Sauron did in forging the Ring. We have put our power into things in order to increase our power. And the result is, as everyone knows but no one admits, that we are now weak little wimps, Shelob’s slaves, unable to survive a blow to the great spider of our technology network. We tremble before a nationwide electrical blackout or a global computer virus…In our drive for power we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we have become more powerful when all the time we have been becoming less.2
To be honest, Kreeft may have been setting the bar a bit too high. It is true that “we tremble before a nationwide electrical blackout,” but how quickly does work grind to a stop when the internet or electricity is just temporarily down?
Not only has modern man become dependent upon technology, but we have become, in a certain sense, slaves to it, as Kreeft points out. How much of our work, our energy, our money is put into purchasing, updating, or repairing our technology – the washing machine, the air conditioner, the car, the computer, the smart phone?
If anything exemplifies modern man’s slavery to technology, it is the smart phone. He always carries it with him, looking for hotspots to utilize it and outlets to power it with the charger he brings with him. The compulsion to constantly check it for new messages or online updates makes unrelenting demands upon a will that should be free. Phantom buzzing influencing, damaging the mind and body of the bearer.
The choice of the word “bearer” here is not inadvertent, for it calls to mind the Ring Bearers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, those who carried the One Ring forged by Sauron. This Ring affected the mind and will of the Bearers, influencing and manipulating them with the purpose of being returned to its master and maker. Beyond this influence on the will, the effect of the smart phone on its bearer is similar to other effects the One Ring had on its Bearers. When worn, the One Ring would turn the Bearer invisible, effectively separating him from those around him. Kreeft explains this situation as follows:
Invisibility also means isolation. God alone can endure this (and only because He is a Trinity of persons, a society in Himself). He is God alone; there is no other. Yet He is other in Himself and never alone. God is a community. That is why He needs no community, as we do. The Ring cuts us off from community, and contact. We are alone with the Eye. There is no room for an Other in the One Ring. This is why the Ring surrounds emptiness. If We-ness, or Relationship, or Love, or Trinity is the name of ultimate reality, then the Ring makes us unreal by isolating us. It plunges us into its own emptiness, like a Black Hole. Its circular shape is an image of that the emptiness: it encloses nothingness with its all-encompassing circle of power.3
When one is seen with his head bowed towards the screen, it sends the message that he has cut himself off from those around him. The body language sends a message that he is not open to interacting with others. Such behavior, when prolonged, cannot help but have a negative influence on one’s prayer life, where one is invited to have an intimate and personal friendship with His Creator. If one has the habit of closing himself off to other men, whom he senses, how can he possibly be open to having a relationship with God Whom he cannot (see 1 Joh 4:20)? Interestingly, McIntosh argues that the reason why the One Ring had no power over Tom Bombadil (“a merry fellow; Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow”4) is because Tom Bombadil is “one of the earthiest characters in Tolkien’s fiction and the one whose whole identity is most tied to his love of and devotion to other things.”5 Tom Bombadil’s devotion to other was explained by Tolkien in one of his letter’s as follows: he desires “knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are ‘other’ and wholly independent of the enquiring mind, a spirt coeval with a rational mind, and entirely unconcerned with ‘doing’ anything with the knowledge.”6
But not only does wearing the One Ring make the Bearer invisible to others, it makes him more visible to Sauron, who can be understood as a personification of evil, and his Eye. In a similar way, those who use smart phones, without the proper self-control and, if necessary, protections, are exposing themselves to levels of evil and depravity unthinkable to previous generations. And the more one uses the One Ring, the more one uses the smart phone, the more permanent and damaging the effects are. As Gandalf (an incarnated/embodied angel for all intents and purposes) explained “if one ‘often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the dark power that rules the Rings…Yes, sooner or later…the dark power will devour him.’”7 How many long-term smart phone users do not feel the same as Bilbo after he possessed the Ring for as long as he did – “I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts….I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”?8
There is another way in which the One Ring is similar to a smart phone. In order to forge the One Ring, “the instrument of his domination,”9 Sauron put part of his power, part of his being, part of himself into the artifact. So tied was he to the Ring, that when it was destroyed, his own power and being was dissolved. When one’s smart phone is misplaced, lost, damaged, or destroyed, does not the owner feel like part of himself has been destroyed? That he is incomplete until he finds it or has it replaced? On this point, McIntosh wrote the following: “Tolkien makes the serious, real-world metaphysical point that, in the process of aggrandizing ourselves through materialistic acquisitiveness and scientific mastery of nature, we have in fact emptied ourselves, denied our own nature, and sacrificed something of our own inherent and authentic being.”10
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problems described above, but a reconsideration and reordering of this dependence on technology is necessary so that the negative accompanying consequences can be minimized or avoided altogether. Solutions should be sought by utilizing Christian prudence and principles. But, if any of the Tolkien’s characters should be presented as a model to be followed in such an undertaking, it can be none other than Tom Bombadil with his connection to creation and nature, and, especially, his openness to other persons – an openness which is so necessary and fundamental to the Catholic spiritual life.
William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.
- McIntosh, Jonathan S. The Flame Imperishable – Tolkien, St. Thomas and the Metaphysics of Faërie. Kettering: Angelico Press, 2017, pp. 242-243.
- Kreeft, Peter. The Philosophy of Tolkie, pp. 187-188 as quoted by McIntosh, p. 243.
- Kreeft, p. 181 as quoted by McIntosh, p. 236, footnote 63.
- Tolkien, J. R. R., The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 7: “In the House of Tom Bombadil.”
- Tolkien, Letter 196 as quoted by McIntosh, p. 22, footnote 58 [emphases in the original].
- McIntosh, pp. 236-237.
- Ibid., p. 237 quoting Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 2: “The Shadow of the Past.”
- Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 1: “A Long-Expected Party” as quoted by McIntosh, p. 237, footnote 64.
- McIntosh, p. 244.
March 25, 2022
Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Apostolic Nuncio of the United States has sent an urgent communique to the nation’s Bishops, informing them that the Holy Father is inviting each bishop to join him in an Act of Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation, Friday, March 25th . The consecration will take place at 5:00 PM Rome time. Pope Francis is also sending a Cardinal to represent him and lead the consecration in Fatima, Portugal.
The Holy Father clearly has in mind Our Lady of Fatima’s words and request those many decades ago.
While the scourge of war wages on this earth, we know it is not unconnected to a larger, cosmic battle between good and evil. The forces of hell will no doubt try to prevent this consecration from occurring as God desires.
We encourage all the friends of the FSSP to unite your prayers and sacrifices to this intention, that the consecration be made according to God’s holy will and draw down immense graces for Russia, Ukraine, and the entire world.
We also remind you of Our Lady of Fatima’s request to do penance, to pray the Rosary, and to make the Five First Saturdays: https://fssp.com/a-short-history-of-the-first-saturday-devotions/
March 18, 2022
Carry the Cross: Mission Tradition
Many of us remember the days when, as Catholic school kids, Lent was a time to donate our spare change to worthwhile causes. And that was very appropriate in this penitential season as we deny ourselves and accompany our Lord on the road to Calvary.
Sadly, some of our old favorite charities seem to have lost their focus. Some have even gotten involved in tangential issues that seem more motivated by political fashion than true Christian caritas.
This Lent, the FSSP’s own Mission Tradition is giving all of us a special opportunity to Help Carry the Cross. Like Simon of Cyrene, we can shoulder some of the burdens of our FSSP family not only here but also around the world, confident in Our Lord’s words that “as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”
Throughout the season Mission Tradition is featuring special blog posts, photos, and updates from our missionary priests in Mexico, Colombia, and Nigeria. There you can learn about Fr. Heenan’s work preserving the Latin Mass in Guadalajara. You’ll hear Fr. Valenzuela’s account of his arrival at the Colombia mission and school. And we’ll hear from Fr. Van der Putten in Nigeria about building a church and working the farm that surrounds it.
If you feel called to give to Mission Tradition, know that the money will go directly to our poorest apostolates. Our missionary priests have to regularly deal with food availability, basic education, shelter, medical hardships, and other issues that we don’t see as much in the U.S. and Canada. But the spiritual battle is the same–to advance the Kingdom of God on earth with every weapon that the Church’s traditions give us, particularly the ancient but ever-new Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
We encourage you to visit Mission Tradition’s website and experience how the love of the ancient liturgy and the love of neighbor so harmoniously fuse in the FSSP’s mission apostolates.
It is understandable if some of us have become cynical and jaded in our almsgiving over the years, but Lent is a time to bring our minds back to the peoples around the world who still need our help. And just as importantly, our children must develop a love for almsgiving and charity–for their own spiritual good. Every opportunity we can give them to participate helps them become the generous, giving Christians that this broken world so desperately needs.
May God bless you and the missions of the FSSP.
Now Available: Meditations on the Stabat Mater
Just in time for Lent, Meditations on the Stabat Mater, the new book by Fr. Armand de Malleray FSSP, is now available in the Fraternity Publications bookstore:
Join our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross of her Son and walk with her on the road from Lent to Passiontide to Easter, by meditating upon the Stabat Mater line by line.
Stabat mater dolorosa – “The Sorrowful Mother was standing”. This is the opening line of the extraordinary hymn attributed to the 13th century Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi, which is still a popular Lenten devotion. In this book Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP meditates upon Stabat Mater line by line. This is a book to help the reader to walk the road from Lent to Passiontide to Easter – and indeed from life to death to eternal life – in the company of Our Lady, who stands at the foot of the cross of her son.
“If you truly wish to be transformed by Christ, go to the Cross and contemplate his Passion. If you truly desire to plumb the depths of knowledge of Christ’s Passion, go to his Blessed Mother… If you want to know some of what the Blessed Virgin Mary teaches about her Son’s Passion, read this book.” (Mother Marilla, OSB, Superior General of the Tyburn Nuns)
“This beautiful little book, born of prayer, is just what I need, what every Catholic needs, for the fruitful praying of the Stations of the Cross.” (Fr John Sayward, Blackfriars Hall, Oxford)
More information at Fraternity Publications.
February 25, 2022
Decree of Pope Francis concerning the FSSP
Sanctus Pater Franciscus, omnibus et singulis sodalibus Instituti vitae consecratae “Fraternitas Sancti Petri » nuncupati, die 18 iulii 1988 erecti et a Sancta Sede pontificii iuris declarati, facultatem concedit celebrandi sacrificium Missae, sacramentorum necnon alios sacros ritus, sicut et persolvendi Officium divinum, iuxta editiones typicas librorum liturgicorum, scilicet Missalis, Ritualis, Pontificalis et Breviarii, anno 1962 vigentium.
Qua facultate uti poterunt in ecclesiis vel oratoriis propriis, alibi vero nonnisi de consensu Ordinarii loci, excepta Missae privatae celebratione.
Quibus rite servatis, Sanctus Pater etiam suadet ut sedulo cogitetur, quantum fieri potest, de statutis in litteris apostolicis motu proprio datis Traditionis Custodes.
Datum Romae, Sancti Petri, die XI mensis Februarii, in memoria Beatae Mariae Virginis de Lourdes, anno MMXXII, Pontificatus Nostri nono.
Decree of Pope Francis confirming the use of the 1962 liturgical books
[Original: Latin and Spanish]
The Holy Father Francis, grants to each and every member of the Society of Apostolic Life “Fraternity of Saint Peter”, founded on July 18, 1988 and declared of “Pontifical Right” by the Holy See, the faculty to celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass, and to carry out the sacraments and other sacred rites, as well as to fulfill the Divine Office, according to the typical editions of the liturgical books, namely the Missal, the Ritual, the Pontifical and the Roman Breviary, in force in the year 1962.
They may use this faculty in their own churches or oratories; otherwise it may only be used with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, except for the celebration of private Masses.
Without prejudice to what has been said above, the Holy Father suggests that, as far as possible, the provisions of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes be taken into account as well.
Given in Rome, near St. Peter’s, on February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, in the year 2022, the ninth year of my Pontificate.
Official Communiqué from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
Fribourg, February 21, 2022
On Friday, February 4, 2022, two members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Fr. Benoît Paul-Joseph, Superior of the District of France, and Fr. Vincent Ribeton, Rector of St. Peter’s Seminary in Wigratzbad, were received in private audience by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for nearly an hour.
During the very cordial meeting, they recalled the origins of the Fraternity in 1988, the Pope expressed that he was very impressed by the approach taken by its founders, their desire to remain faithful to the Roman Pontiff and their trust in the Church. He said that this gesture should be “preserved, protected and encouraged”.
In the course of the audience, the Pope made it clear that institutes such as the Fraternity of St. Peter are not affected by the general provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, since the use of the ancient liturgical books was at the origin of their existence and is provided for in their constitutions.
The Holy Father subsequently sent a decree signed by him and dated February 11, the day the Fraternity was solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, confirming for the members of the Fraternity the right to use the liturgical books in force in 1962, namely: the Missal, the Ritual, the Pontifical and the Roman Breviary.
Grateful to the Holy Father, the members of the Fraternity of St. Peter are in thanksgiving for this confirmation of their mission. They invite all the faithful who feel close to them as a spiritual family to attend or join them in prayer at the Mass tomorrow, on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and to pray for the Supreme Pontiff.
Source : www.fssp.org
Statement from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
North American Provincial Headquarters
South Abington, Pennsylvania, February 21, 2022
The North American Province of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is grateful to the Holy Father for this clarification. We also express our gratitude to the ever-glorious Mother of God, to whose Immaculate Heart the entire Fraternity of St. Peter was consecrated on February 11th, the date of the Holy Father’s decree. Finally, we express our gratitude to St. Joseph, Patron of the North American Province.
February 21, 2022
The Wax, the Wick, the Flame
by Fr. William Rock, FSSP
On February 2nd, the 40th and last day of Christmas, Our Lord’s Presentation in the Temple and Our Lady’s Purification are commemorated by the Church’s Liturgy. A unique part of this day’s Liturgy is the Solemn Blessing of Candles performed before Mass. Historically, in the Roman Rite, this Blessing of Candles was one of the three Solemn Blessings given from the Epistle Corner of the Altar with the ministers vested in violet, the other two being the Solemn Blessings of the Ashes and of the Palms.
While candles have a venerable place in the Church’s liturgical life, they are also held in respect because of Whom they symbolize, namely Our Lord Jesus Christ, the “light to the revelation of the Gentiles” (Luk 2:32, from the day’s Gospel). Following the explanation of St. Anselm of Canterbury, (d. A.D. 1109) this article will examine each part of the blessed candles in turn.
According to St. Anselm, the wax of the candle represents the Flesh, the Body, of Our Lord. As the first prayer of the Solemn Blessing states, these candles are composed of “perfect wax” which was created “by the labor of bees.” Traditionally, the body, or at least the greater part of the body, of the candles used in the Mass is made of beeswax.1 This is because, in their hierarchy, the bees who produce wax are female and have a perpetual virginity. This is the nature of bees.2 There is a fittingness that female bees, possessing a perpetual virginity, should produce the wax used in the body of the candle representing Christ for out of the Blessed and Ever Virgin Mary was formed the Sacred Body of Our Lord (Gal 4:43).
Just as the faithful can touch the body of a blessed candle, so too can Our Lord’s Body be touched, for it is a true Body (1 Joh 1:1). Some heretics, called Docetists, denied that Our Lord had a real, human body, claiming that it only appeared to be so.4 Against these, St. John in his First Epistle wrote: “By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus,” that is, anyone who denies the reality of the Our Lord’s Body, “is not of God. And this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh: and he is now already in the world” (4:2-3). In his Second Epistle, St. John warns that “many seducers are gone out into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (1:7).
Turning to the wick, St. Anselm sees symbolized the soul of Our Lord. The soul makes the material component of the human person a human body. The wick makes a candle, a candle, and not just a collection of wax. But there were heretics, such as Arius, who denied that Our Lord has a human soul, claiming the Divine Nature took the place of Our Lord’s human soul. The position that Our Lord did not have a human, rational soul was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451), the Second Council of Constantinople (A.D. 553), and the Council of Vienne (A.D. 1311–1312), all Ecumenical Councils. As the Athanasian Creed (Symbolum Quicumque) states, Our Lord is “perfect God and perfect man, subsisting with a rational soul and human flesh.”5
In the flame, St. Anselm understands Our Lord’s Divinity, for, as St. Paul wrote in the Letter to the Hebrews, quoting Deuteronomy, “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29/Deu 4:24). As St. Thomas explains in his commentary on this passage, God is not really a fire, for He is a spirit (Joh 4:24). But God is compared to fire
on account of His clarity, because He inhabits light inaccessible (1 Tim 6:16), and because He is supremely active: you have worked all our works in us (Isa 26:12), and He is in a loftier place: the Lord is high above all nations; and His glory above the heavens (Ps 113:4). Furthermore, He cleanses, and as it were, consumes sins; hence, He says that He is a consuming fire: He is like a refining fire, and what follows, and He shall purify the sons of Levi (Mal 3:2, 3); making purgation of sins (Heb 1:3). He also consumes sinners by punishing: but a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries (Heb 10:27).
Therefore, because such things are promised to us: and the light of Israel shall be as a fire, and the holy one thereof as a flame (Isa 10:17); a fire shall go before them and shall burn up enemies round about (Ps 97:3), we should strive to serve and please God.6
It should be noted that in his explanation of why God is likened to a consuming fire, St. Thomas quotes from the third chapter of the Book of the Prophet Malachias. The first four verses of this chapter, which includes the text quoted by St. Thomas, are used by the Roman Church as the Epistle for the Feast of the Purification.
It is in this manner that St. Anselm invites us to see Our Lord symbolized in blessed candles: “The wax, he says, which is the product of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is his Soul; the flame, which burns on the top, is his Divinity.”7
William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.
- See Matters Liturgical , 154.
- About Honey Bees – Types, Races, and Anatomy from the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agricultural.
- Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Baronius Press, 2018, p. 155.
- Ibid., p. 152.
- Ibid., pp. 153-154.
- St. Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on Hebrews, 725.
- Prosper, Guéranger. The Liturgical Year – Volume III – Christmas, Book II. Fitzwilliam: Loreto Publications, 2000, p. 474.
February 8, 2022
Preserve the Latin Mass Petition
We are happy to support an online petition in favor of the Traditional Latin Mass and Sacraments.
This petition to the Holy Father is respectful and charitable in tone and will no doubt be seen by many bishops, priests, and laity from around the world. We encourage you to go the website to sign the petition. To do more, you can ask ten of your friends, family members, and fellow parishioners to do the same!
The website may be found here: https://preservethelatinmass.org/
February 4, 2022
Message from the Confraternity of St. Peter Chaplain
Fr. James Fryar, English-speaking chaplain of the Confraternity of St. Peter, passes along this letter from the Confraternity’s General Chaplain, Fr. Stefan Reiner. It concerns the upcoming Marian consecration of the FSSP priests, and we encourage the members of the Confraternity especially to participate in this great initiative of prayer. The Novena begins on Candlemas, February 2nd, and ends with the Consecration itself on February 11th.–ed.
Dear Chaplains of the Confraternity,
With this short message I would like to address you regarding the upcoming novena and Marian consecration. Please do not forget to invite your members of the Confraternity especially to this novena and Marian consecration. I have received quite a few letters assuring me of personal prayers and offering to do everything possible so that the Fraternity may emerge strengthened from these difficulties. We should therefore invite in a special way the members of the Confraternity who, along with the FSSP confreres, belong to the closest family circle of the Fraternity, to make this novena and consecration with us.
Therefore, it would not be bad to put a few explanations about the Marian consecration in general or at least the text of the novena and consecration on your local homepage or to refer to the texts of the general homepage of the Fraternity:
Chers chapelains de la Confraternité,
Par ce bref message, je souhaite m’adresser à vous concernant la prochaine neuvaine et la consécration mariale. N’oubliez pas d’inviter tout particulièrement les membres de la Confraternité à cette neuvaine et à la consécration. J’ai reçu de nombreuses lettres de personnes qui m’ont assuré de leur prière personnelle et qui se sont proposées de faire tout ce qui est en leur pouvoir pour que la Confraternité sorte renforcée de ces difficultés. Nous devrions donc inviter tout particulièrement les membres de la Confraternité qui, avec les confrères de la FSSP, font partie du cercle familial le plus proche de la Fraternité, à accomplir avec nous cette neuvaine et cette consécration.
Il ne serait donc pas mauvais de mettre quelques explications sur la consécration mariale en général ou au moins le texte de la neuvaine et de la consécration sur votre site local ou de renvoyer aux textes du site général de la Fraternité :
P. Stefan Reiner
January 31, 2022