Extraordinary Thoughts Liturgical Guides

As we begin another liturgical year, help get in the spirit of the liturgy with Fr. William Rock’s Extraordinary Thoughts series, which Father has kindly made available on the FSSP website. Print them out for yourselves and your loved ones to make each of your liturgical seasons extraordinary.

Extraordinary Thoughts: Guides to the Liturgical Year

 

 

November 24, 2021

On Giving Thanks

Note from the editor: Thanks to the mercy of Almighty God, and no doubt the fervent prayers of all the FSSP faithful, Fr. Christopher Mahowald has recovered from COVID and is gradually reassuming his priestly duties as pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Scranton, PA. This past Sunday he wrote a short letter to his parish that he kindly allowed us to share here. We thought it a perfect reflection not only for the holiday but also for our profound gratitude for his recovery and return to priestly work.

Dear Faithful of St. Michael the Archangel,

This upcoming Thursday we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. A few words on giving thanks would only be appropriate.

Our Catechism teaches us that there are four ends, or purposes, to an act of sacrifice, especially as sacrifice pertains to the Catholic Mass. They are: adoration, atonement, thanksgiving, and petition. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians tells us that we should “give thanks to God always and for everything in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Eph. 5:20).

“The First Thanksgiving”: the Spanish celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving in Florida, 1565.

Our Lord Himself taught us the importance of giving thanks when He praised the cured leper who returned to give thanks for the miracle. Thanksgiving is a very important aspect of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for in the Mass, Christ becomes truly present on the altar, and through the prayers of the Church and the one priesthood of Jesus Christ, He borrows the voice and limbs of the ordained priest to look up to His heavenly Father and give thanks for all the gifts and graces bestowed on man.

Every good thing in our lives is a gift from Him: time, space, air, beauty, love, family, friends, grace, the sacraments, etc. The crosses, struggles, and sorrows that we meet in our life all come as a result of sin, i.e. the gift of free will used wrongly, whether by ourselves or another.

Sin is never just personal, it affects all of the members of the mystical body.

One suggestion I’d give to make your prayer more efficacious: take a few minutes every day to think of particular gifts or graces that God has blessed you with on that day. This act is already one of gratitude. But then thank God for each of them and acknowledge His hands in our life.

So often our prayer can become a list of petitions, or maybe even concerns that we may have, but I think you will make great strides in your prayer if you make gratitude a greater part of it.

Gratitude, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, is something we always owe in justice for a gift received, and no one has been more generous with us and no one can be more worthy of our gratitude than our Heavenly Father.

May the Immaculate Heart of Mary teach us to imitate her Divine Son in true gratitude and devotion.

–Rev. Christopher Mahowald, FSSP.

Giving Tuesday on November 30, 2021

Your local FSSP priests are working harder than ever. They’re celebrating more Masses. They’ve extended their hours for confession. They’re bringing the sacraments to seriously ill Catholics in hospitals. They’re recording sermons and posting them online for Catholics who are starved for spiritual guidance. They’re processing stacks of parishioner registration forms and researching ways to expand the seating at their parishes.

But they’re not complaining. Rather, our priests consider it a privilege to bring Jesus to you. Each of our priests in the North American Province aims to spend his entire life taking care of your spiritual needs. Will you show your gratitude by reassuring our priests that you’ll help take care of their physical needs for as long as they live?

Please Support the FSSP’s “Priest Forever” Fund on Giving Tuesday

The FSSP is still a community of predominantly young priests. But as time goes by, we’ll have more and more priests who aren’t actively engaged in the activities of our apostolates.

There are three reasons for this:

Even young communities get old. The FSSP is celebrating its thirty-third anniversary this year. It won’t be long before we see a significant number of our priests near retirement age. Moreover, a few older priests have also joined our ranks. They all deserve to know that we’ll take care of their housing, medical care, and other necessities. Meanwhile, the many priests we’ve ordained over the past couple of decades will soon reach a stage of life at which medical costs can increase exponentially.

Some priests will experience serious medical problems. For reasons only God can understand, sometimes He allows His faithful workers to undergo medical hardships that require costly care. For example, in 2016, a long-time FSSP priest experienced a severe hemorrhagic stroke, the effects of which left him unable to celebrate Mass again. Due to needing constant medical attention, he spent his final years in a care home, offering his sufferings for the FSSP. It was a blessing to provide for his every need—but as the FSSP grows and the proportion of aging priests increases, such situations create new obligations that must be met with our dedicated support.

As the North American Province expands, we’ll need more priests to work outside of parish life for the benefit of the Fraternity itself. There are certain decisions within a priestly community that can only be made by priests—decisions about the health of individual apostolates as well as our entire community. Opening more apostolates and expanding our current apostolates will require more oversight and support from our North American headquarters.

In response, the FSSP has established the Priest Forever Fund. This fund aims to provide for the physical needs of FSSP priests even when they are not assigned to an apostolate. With this fund, we can thank our hardworking priests for making a total gift of their lives. This year on Giving Tuesday, the FSSP aims to raise $200,000 for the Priest Forever Fund—enough to make a substantial investment in the long-term well-being of our priests. Here’s how you can help.

Please Make Your Gift on November 30

As you probably know, Giving Tuesday is an annual online event in which nonprofits of all kinds seek to raise money on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year’s Giving Tuesday will be on November 30, 2021.

Your gifts on Giving Tuesday will support the overall good of FSSP priests—whether they’re working in apostolates, assigned to other duties, retired, or on medical leave. You’ll help us continue to establish new apostolates and staff them with hardworking priests. You’ll give those priests assurance that just as they have always been there to meet your spiritual needs, you will always be here to care for their physical needs.
Making your donation of any size takes just seconds online. As a special thanks to all who support us, we’ll enter donors into a drawing to win one of several FSSP-branded gifts.

In honor of our 33rd anniversary, all gifts at $1,533 and above will receive a brand-new 4-pack of FSSP-branded craft beer glasses, and those above $733 will receive a copy of our Vade Mecum prayer book. Also, givers of $133 or more will have a chance to win special FSSP gifts like rosaries, stained glass, magnets, calendars, and holy water bottles. The more milestones we hit, the more we will give away.

We’re always humbled by your generosity, and we thank you for your friendship and support. With your help, the FSSP will continue to form priests for life.

Support A Priest Forever on Giving Tuesday

November 22, 2021

Bread – A Mirrored Curse

by Fr. William Rock, FSSP

Adam and Eve Hiding From GodIn the plan of salvation, God mirrored, as it were, conditions of the Fall in the conditions of the Redemption.  At the Fall, there was a man, Adam; a woman, Eve; and a tree with forbidden fruit, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (see Gen 3).  At the event which merited in a particular way for us our salvation, the Crucifixion, there was a man, Christ, the new Adam (see 1 Cor 15:45); a woman, Mary, seen by the Fathers as the new Eve;1 and a tree, the Cross (e.g., Act 5:30).  The link between the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Cross is also expressed in Preface of the Holy Cross – God, You Who “didst establish the salvation of mankind on the tree of the Cross; that whence death came, thence also life might arise again, and that he [the devil], who overcame by the tree, by the tree also might be overcome:”  This Preface also illustrates this mirror, as it were, of the Fall and Redemption namely in that God utilized what the Devil used to doom man, a tree, to overcome the Devil.  It was by a tree that death came to man, and from a tree, life returns.

Gustave Doré’s Adam and Eve Are Driven out of Eden

And not only were the conditions of the Fall mirrored in the Redemption, but the very punishment imposed on account of the Fall was to be the means by which this redemption is accomplished.  For God warned Adam that “of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death” (Gen 2:16-17).  The death God spoke of here was primarily a spiritual death, the death of the soul by mortal sin.  But natural, physical death would also follow as a consequence of Adam’s disobedience; for God decreed that Adam would return to the dust from which he was created (Gen 3:19).  The Scriptural account relates that God said: “Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now therefore lest perhaps he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.  And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken.  And he cast out Adam: and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Gen 3:22-24).  When man was originally created, he was endowed with the preternatural gift of immortality, which immortality would have been supported by the Tree of Life.2  Man was now to suffer death for, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death: and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned” (Rom 5:12).  And yet, it was by a death that death was overcome, as the Easter Preface expresses it – “It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, at all times to praise Thee, O Lord, but more gloriously especially in this season when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the Lamb Who hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath destroyed our death.”  And yet there are still other punishments which man must suffer besides death.

When the Lord God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them the following command: “Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat” (Gen 1:29).  The word translated here as “meat” is the Hebrew אָכְלָה which can mean “food” or meat.”3  In this context, “meat” should be understood to mean “food” as fruit does not contain animal meat.  This is reflected in the Greek and Latin translations of this passage which translated the Hebrew here as βρῶσιν and escam, respectively, which both also mean “food” or “meat.”

But later, when God metes out punishments to Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God tells Adam:

Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work: with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth.  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat לחם till thou return to the earth out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. (Gen 3:17-19).

Notice here that God says Adam will eat, not אָכְלָה, “food” or meat,” as previously, but rather לֶחֶם which means “food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it).”4  The word used here is more specific than the general one used earlier by God.  Here God says specially that what Adam will eat, as part of his punishment, is bread.  This is reflected in the Greek and Latin, which both use their respective words for bread (ἄρτον and pane).  The Douay-Rheims translates this word as “bread.”  The growing of grain and the eating of bread, then, can be considered one of the curses or punishments laid on man because of the Fall.  Bread, compared to the free fruits of Eden, is punishment not only because of the effort that must go into the planting and raising of the wheat, but also into the harvesting, into separating what can be eaten from what should not be, into the grinding the grains, and into the baking.  All this before the bread can be eaten.

Battista Franco Veneziano’s Melchizadek Offering Bread and Wine to Abraham

And yet, there would be times in the course of salvation history where bread would be seen as other than punishment.  The Priest-King of ancient Jerusalem, Melchisedech, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine (Gen 14:18).  During their time in the desert, God gave the Hebrew people “Bread from Heaven” – “And the Lord said to Moses: Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you” (Exo 16:4).  Bread would also be used in the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Law (e.g. Exo 29:2).

But all these positive occurrences of bread in the Old Testament were just types or foreshadowing of the Bread of the New Testament.  This Bread of the New Testament was explained by Our Lord in the following words: “Amen, amen, I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven…For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world… I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst… and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (John 6: passim)

Peter Paul Rubens’ The Last Supper

The promised Bread of the New Testament promised by Our Lord was given for the first time at the Last Supper when Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist – “the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you.  This do for the commemoration of me.  In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood.  This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me” (1 Cor 11:23-25).  By the power of God, what was in Our Lord’s Hands, and which appeared to the senses to be still bread – for it looked like bread, smelled like bread, felt like bread, and tasted like bread – was really and truly the Lord’s Own Body.  The substance of the bread had been changed, by Divine power, into the substance of the Body of Christ, a change which the Catholic Church fittingly calls transubstantiation.5  And this same change is effected at every Mass, when the Priest, acing in persona Christi, in the Person of Christ, repeats the action of the Lord over bread.

It is in this way that God has mirrored, as it were, bread in a way similar to the other aspects which surrounded the Fall.  What was first set before man as a punishment has become an instrument for man’s sanctification and salvation.  Every time one participates at Mass, one participates in this mirroring of the Fall.  And thus is granted to man food for immortality infinitely greater than that which he had in the fruit of the Tree of Life.

Postscript, for the sake of completion:  The first reference to wine in the Scriptures is made after the Flood: “And Noe a husbandman began to till the ground, and planted a vineyard. And drinking of the wine…” (Gen 9:20-21).  The joining of wine with bread in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass connects the Mass then not just with the Fall (through the use of bread), but also to the Flood (through the use of the wine).  After both of these great calamities of early salvation history, new forms of sustenance were introduced which were then incorporated in the worship of the One, True, God.

Fr. William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.

1. Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Baronius Press, 2018, pp. 228-231.
2. S.T. I, q. 97, a. 4.
3. Strong’s Dictionary for eSword, H402.
4. Strong’s Dictionary for eSword, H3899.
5. Council of Trent, Session XIII, Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, Chapter IV.

November 8, 2021

November Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful

On October 27th, the Press Office of the Holy See released the following decree, renewing once more a privilege granted in 2020. It enables the faithful to earn plenary indulgences for the benefit of the Holy Souls throughout the entire month of November.

D E C R E E

THE Apostolic PENITENTIARY, having listened to the various pleas recently received from various Sacred Pastors of the Church, due to the continuing state of the pandemic, confirms and extends for the entire month of November 2021 all the spiritual benefits already granted on 22 October 2020, through the Decree Protocol No. 791/20/I with which, due to the “Covid-19” pandemic, the Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful were extended for the entire month of November 2020.

From the renewed generosity of the Church, the faithful will certainly draw pious intentions and spiritual vigour to guide their lives according to the Gospel law, in filial communion and devotion to the Supreme Pontiff, the visible foundation and Pastor of the Catholic Church.

This Decree is valid for the entire month of November, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary.

Given in Rome, at the Seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 27 October 2021.

Mauro Card. Piacenza

Major Penitentiary

The referenced decree of 2020 is as follows:

Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful in the current pandemic, 23.10.2020

 

DECREE

This year, in the current circumstances due to the “Covid-19” pandemic, the Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful will be extended throughout the entire month of November, with adaptation of works and conditions to guarantee the safety of the faithful.

This Apostolic Penitentiary has received many petitions from holy Pastors who have asked that this year, due to the “Covid-19” epidemic, pious works be commuted in order to obtain the Plenary Indulgences applicable to souls in Purgatory, in accordance with the Manual of Indulgences (conc. 29, § 1). For this reason, the Apostolic Penitentiary, on the special mandate of His Holiness Pope Francis, willingly establishes and decides that this year, in order to avoid gatherings where they are forbidden:

a.- the Plenary Indulgence for those who visit a cemetery and pray for the deceased, even if only mentally, normally established only on the individual days from 1 to 8 November, may be transferred to other days of the same month, until its end. These days, freely chosen by the individual believers, may also be separate from each other;

b- the Plenary Indulgence of 2 November, established on the occasion of the Commemoration of all the deceased faithful for those who piously visit a church or oratory and recite the “Our Father” and the “Creed” there, may be transferred not only to the Sunday before or after or on the day of the Solemnity of All Saints, but also to another day of the month of November, freely chosen by the individual faithful.

The elderly, the sick and all those who for serious reasons cannot leave their homes, for example because of restrictions imposed by the competent authority in this time of the pandemic, in order to prevent numerous faithful from crowding into the holy places, will be able to obtain the Plenary Indulgence as long as they join spiritually with all the other faithful, completely detached from sin and with the intention of complying as soon as possible with the three usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary, recite pious prayers for the deceased, for example, Lauds and Vespers of the Office of the Dead, the Marian Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, other prayers for the deceased dearest to the faithful, or occupy themselves in considered reading of one of the Gospel passages proposed by the liturgy of the deceased, or perform a work of mercy by offering to God the sorrows and hardships of their own lives.

For an easier attainment of divine grace through pastoral charity, this Penitentiary earnestly prays that all priests with the appropriate faculties offer themselves with particular generosity to the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and administer Holy Communion to the sick.

However, as far as the spiritual conditions for fully achieving the Indulgence are concerned, it is worth recalling the indications already issued in the “Note on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the current pandemic” issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary on 19 March 2020.

Finally, since the souls in Purgatory are assisted by the prayers of the faithful and especially by the sacrifice of the Altar to God (cf. Conc. Tr. Sess. XXV, decr. De Purgatorio), all priests are strongly invited to celebrate Holy Mass three times on the day of the Commemoration of all the deceased faithful, in accordance with the Apostolic Constitution “Incruentum Altaris“, issued by Pope Benedict XV, of venerable memory, on 10 August 1915.

This Decree is valid throughout the entire month of November, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary.

Given in Rome, from the seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on 22 October 2020, memorial of Saint John Paul II.

Maurus Card. Piacenza

Paenitentiarius Maior

October 29, 2021

All Souls Novena Enrollment

Dear Friends of the Fraternity,

The solemn feast of All Souls’ Day is fast upon us. This means that our All Souls’ Novena arrives as well. It is not too late to enroll your departed loved ones in our Novena of Masses. It is a great duty of Charity for us to pray for the dead as well as the living, as well as one of the spiritual works of mercy. We know from our Catholic faith that souls, though the guilt of their sins be forgiven in the confessional, still owe a debt of temporal punishment due to sin.

In the Book of Revelation we read that “nothing that is unclean shall enter” heaven. St. Paul warns us that:

 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:13-15)

We have the opportunity to make up for this debt by our life of penance here on earth, but aside from special revelation, we cannot know the extent of our debt to God or the real effect of our penitence. If debt remains, we have the promise ahead of us of heaven, but what is left owed will be paid. We also know from various revelations that there are many souls in Purgatory who suffer now, though with hope in salvation, for the temporal punishment due to sin.

While these souls no longer have the ability to merit for themselves, we who are still wayfarers in this life have the ability to merit for them. We are still united to each other by grace, though they are now in eternity. Holy Mother Church leaves us many ways to do be of particular help to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

From November 1 through November 8, Holy Mother Church makes it possible to earn a plenary indulgence each day for a soul in Purgatory. This indulgence is available to all those who visit a cemetery to pray for the faithful departed, and who fulfill the usual conditions, which are:

* Receive Communion daily

* Pray for the Pope’s intentions daily

* Make a good Confession that week

* Remain free from attachment to sin

Given our fallen humanity, this fourth condition may seem daunting, but we can rest assured that any Catholic in a state of grace strives to gain a plenary indulgence but fall short of this, Our Lord in his mercy still grants a partial indulgence from the merit of the work, which is still a great help to the Holy Souls.

All Souls Mass

Each and every Catholic can and should pray for the souls in Purgatory. Moreover, the Fraternity also offers a way to make your prayers all the more effective. From November 2 -10 , Holy Mass will be offered for the deceased.

Please fill out the online form with the names of your deceased loved ones to be remembered in this Novena of Masses. What could be more effective than having the very sacrifice of Our Lord for our salvation offered specifically for the souls of your loved ones? Every soul that leaves Purgatory is one more soul interceding for us in charity before the throne of God.

May God bless you,

Fr. Anthony Dorsa, FSSP

Director of Fundraising Operations

North American Province of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

October 25, 2021

St. Francis Xavier Missions in Peru

For a decade now the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has been leading teens and young adults on mission trips to South America to serve the poorest of the poor.

St. Francis Xavier Missions (SFX) travels every summer to the city of Piura in the northern part of Peru to work with the poor and to spread devotion to the Holy Mass. Over the past ten years, over 400 young people put their faith in action through a great variety of charitable works, including helping at orphanages, delivering food to the poor, building homes for needy families, assisting in medical and dental clinics, visiting rehabilitation and hospice centers, and much more. The missionaries, however, are not social workers. Their mission is a spiritual one. They accompany priests bringing communion to the sick, blessing homes, and making hospital visits.

The goal of the St. Francis Xavier Mission trips is to enkindle in the missionaries and those they serve a greater love for Christ and His Church. Missionaries attend daily Mass in the Extraordinary Form, pray the Rosary, spend time in morning and evening prayers and contemplation, and participate in spiritual talks given by the priests and seminarians. It is from these spiritual exercises that the missionaries go out and perform the works of mercy.

One of the most important aspects of the trips is introducing the people of Piura to the Traditional Latin Mass, the heart of our charism.

The parish of Sanctísimo Sacramento, where the St. Francis Xavier Mission trips serve, is a parish of approximately 40,000 souls all served by one parish priest, with chapels all over the countryside. Though the pastor’s labors are nothing less than heroic, he is always extremely grateful for help with his immense flock.

At his request, FSSP priests celebrate public Masses in chapels throughout his parish daily. Each time a new group of people, some of whom only have the chance to attend Mass occasionally, are introduced to the beautiful chants and ceremonies of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and meet our missionaries, they ask if they would be able to attend Mass like this every Sunday.

Without exception, all are edified and comment profusely about the transcendence and beauty of the ritual, and the spirituality of the missionaries. The pastor himself has commented that our missionaries’ spiritual devotion really sets them apart. He has also expressed that when SFX missions come through with their priests, his mind is at ease for two weeks, because he knows that he has help caring for the spiritual needs of his people.

The St. Francis Xavier Mission trips have been expanding, and the people of Piura need our help now more than ever. COVID-19 has decimated much of Peru. Ginet Ambulay, administrator of Santisimo Sacramento Parish recently shared the status of Piura.

“Help is really needed here. Every day people come to our parish to ask for help. Getting sick from COVID is an expensive disease, especially for those who take care of their sick relatives at home. They come to us in need of medicine and oxygen (tanks). The people have a great fear of going to the hospital because they fear it might be the last time they see their family member. Piura’s health system is one of the poorest in South America. We are very grateful for what SFX can send us, everything will be used to continue this work that God has entrusted to us. Unfortunately, the COVID situation has gone from bad to worse, especially our city of Piura. Our dear Monsignor Jose Antonio speaks to us, let us take advantage of these holy days, in which God shows himself to be more propitious, to pray so that, through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, we will soon be free from sin, illness, disease and all evil.”

By the grace of God, the good works of SFX missionaries, and their supporters, St. Francis Xavier Missions was able to assist the people of Piura by donating over 200 oxygen tanks to Sanctísimo Sacramento.

Fr. Anthony Dorsa, FSSP, Director of SFX Missions, shared his gratitude to the missionaries: “I know the people of Santisimo Sacramento are incredibly reliant on the missionaries who come to Piura to serve every summer. They are deeply grateful and edified by our (SFX) dedication to the people of Piura even when we cannot be there with them during these trying times. I myself am humbled by our missionaries continued commitment to mission work, and I thank you for your dedication to the work of Our Lord amongst his people.”

For more information about St. Francis Xavier Missions, please email sfxmission@gmail.com.

October 13, 2021

Creation and the Weekly Liturgy

by Fr. William Rock, FSSP

Hendrick van Balen’s Holy Trinity

While it is almost self-evident as to why the Preface of the Holy Trinity is used on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, it might be a bit perplexing as to why this Preface is used on the “Green Sundays” of the Time after Epiphany and the Time after Pentecost.  The practice of using the Preface of the Holy Trinity on these Sundays was codified by a decree of Pope Clement XIII dated January 3, 1759.  The entry in the Decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites which documents this codification notes that each Lord’s Day (the First Day of the Week, Sunday) memorializes the creation of light and thus the beginning of Creation (Gen 1:1-5), the Resurrection of Christ from the Dead, and the sending of the Holy Ghost on the first Christian Pentecost.  As such, each Sunday of the year is a commemoration of Creation, a mini-Easter, and a mini-Pentecost.

The Preface of the Holy Trinity, for its part, by praising the different Persons of the Trinity in their eternal glory, points towards the Three Persons acting outside of the Godhead, in particular to those actions which are associated with the different Persons and the Lord’s Day.  Creation, which began on the First Day of the Week according to the Genesis account, is particularly attributed to God the Father.1  On the First Day of the Week, the Son rose from the Dead.  His Resurrection implies His Incarnation, Passion, and Death.  On the First Day of the Week, the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles on the first Christian Pentecost.  The praising of the Father, then, points, as it were, to the Creation, the Son to the Resurrection, and the Holy Ghost to Pentecost.  And so, on the “Green Sundays” of the Time after Epiphany and the Time after Pentecost, that is, when there are no proper Prefaces reflecting the theme of a current liturgical season, the Preface of the Holy Trinity can be seen as pointing to the Creation, the Resurrection, and Pentecost through the praising of the Three Divine Persons.  Thus, the Preface of the Holy Trinity makes more explicit, although in a manner still obscure, what is marked by every Sunday.

But the use of the Preface of the Holy Trinity on these “Green Sundays” is not the only way by which the creation of light, and thus the beginning of Creation, is commemorated on these Sundays.  In a manner more explicit than the Preface, the Church celebrates in the first two stanzas of her vesper hymn for these Sundays Creation’s first day:

God Creating Light (T. de Leu?)

O blest Creator of the light,
Who mak’st the day with radiance bright,
And o’er the forming world didst call
The light from chaos first of all;

Whose wisdom joined in meet array
The morn and eve, and named them day:
Night comes with all its darkling fears;
Regard Thy people’s prayers and tears.2

The creation of light on the First Day, however, is not the only work of the Creator that is marked by the Church.  During the times of the Liturgical Year when the Preface of the Holy Trinity is used dominically, the Roman Church sings during Vespers on ferias (weekdays without feasts) hymns which commemorate the particular events of Creation that the Genesis account assigns to each day of the week.

On the Second Day of the Week, Monday, God established the firmament and separated the waters above and below it (Gen 1:6-8).  The first two stanzas of the ferial vesper hymn for these Mondays celebrate this as follows:

God Creating Heaven and Earth (Antonio Tempesta)

O great Creator of the sky,
Who wouldest not the floods on high
With earthly waters to confound,
But mad’st the firmament their bound;

The floods above Thou didst ordain;
The floods below Thou didst restrain:
That moisture might attemper heat,
Lest the parched earth should ruin meet.

On the Third Day of the Week, Tuesday, God established the dry land by collecting the waters below the firmament and created the plants (Gen 1:9-13).  The first two stanzas of the ferial vesper hymn for these Tuesdays celebrate this as follows:

God Creating Plans and Trees (Antonio Tempesta)

Earth’s mighty Maker, Whose command
Raised from the sea the solid land;
And drove each billowy heap away,
And bade the earth stand firm for aye:

That so, with flowers of golden hue,
The seeds of each it might renew;
And fruit-trees bearing fruit might yield,
And pleasant pasture of the field:

On the Fourth Day of the Week, Wednesday, God adorned the firmament by the creation of the heavenly bodies which divide light and darkness and mark off times (Gen 1:14-19).  The first two stanzas of the ferial vesper hymn for these Wednesdays celebrate this as follows:

God Creating the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars (Antonio Tempesta)

O God, Whose hand hath spread the sky,
And all its shining hosts on high,
And painting it with fiery light,
Made it so beauteous and so bright:

Thou, when the fourth day was begun,
Didst frame the circle of the sun,
And set the moon for ordered change,
And planets for their wider range:

On the Fifth Day of the Week, Thursday, God adorned the lower waters and the air (which occupies the space created by the separation of the upper and lower waters) with those creatures that either swim or fly in them (Gen 1:20-23).  The first two stanzas of the ferial vesper hymn for these Thursdays celebrate this as follows:

God Creating the Birds and the Fish (Antonio Tempesta)

O sovereign Lord of nature’s might,
Who bad’st the water’s birth divide;
Part in the heavens to take their flight,
And part in ocean’s deep to hide;

These low obscured, on airy wing
Exalted those, that either race,
Though from one element they spring,
Might serve Thee in a different place.

On the Sixth Day of the Week, Friday, God adorned the dry land with animals, including man (Gen 1:24-31).  The first two stanzas of the ferial vesper hymn for these Fridays celebrate this as follows:

God Creating the Land Animals (Antonio Tempesta)

Maker of man, who from Thy throne
Dost order all things, God alone;
By Whose decree the teeming earth
To reptile and to beast gave birth:

The mighty forms that fill the land,
Instinct with life at Thy command,
Are given subdued to humankind
For service in their rank assigned.

Surprisingly, the vesper hymn for the Seventh Day of the Week, the Sabbath, Saturday, does not mention the rest God took on this day as recorded in Genesis (2:1-3).  Since Vespers Saturday evening is the First Vespers of Sunday, the hymn rather invokes the “Blest Three in One” (first stanza) thus anticipating the Sunday themes of Trinity, Creation, Resurrection, and Pentecost.

When the Christian week begins anew at the start of Sunday, the Roman Church, in one of her Matins Hymn for these times, sings around midnight the following:

God the Geometer

On the first day, on which the Blessed Trinity
created the world,
and on which the Creator rising,
after vanquishing death, liberated us.3

thus invoking themes which have become familiar to us during this short article.  Interestingly, here the Son, Who vanquished death and rose again, is titled the Creator.  It must be remembered that, although Creator is attributed in a special way to the Father, Creation is truly a work of all Three Persons and thus Each can be called Creator.4

As an aside, it is worth noting that the Sunday and week-day hymns referenced above are attributed to the Pope St. Gregory the Great (d. A.D. 604), who did so much to codify the Roman Liturgy, while the hymn for Saturday Vespers is a work of St. Ambrose (d. A.D. 397).5

This practice of the Roman Church, of celebrating day-by-day the different works of the Creator as detailed in the Book of Genesis, teaches the Faithful that the celebration of these works is not foreign or contrary to a true Christian spirit and should not be look upon as something pagan or Jewish (the Hebrews were instructed to offer sacrifice every day but to rest on the Seventh Day to mark God’s completion of Creation).

Rather, this is an integral part of a true Christian worldview, which is also expressed elsewhere such as in the celebration of the Ember Days around the transitions of the natural seasons and in particular blessings from the Roman Ritual (e.g. those of seeds, seedings, fruits, herbs, and fields).  For Catholicism, while raising man to the supernatural, does not remove him from the realm of the natural but rather invites him to grasp and live in the natural as God intended for both a natural and supernatural life6 were established by God for man “in the beginning” (Gen 1:1).

Fr. William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently assigned to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, TX.

1. Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Baronius Press, 2018, p. 91.
2. Unless otherwise noted, the translation for the hymns are taken from The Divinum Officium Project.
3.Britt, Matthew. The Hymns of The Breviary and Missal. New York: Benziger Brothers, 1936, p. 41.
4. Ott, p 91.
5. Britt, passim.
6. Ott, p. 113.

October 6, 2021

October is Mission Month 2021

Our Missions are not only a bastion of spiritual security in a sinful world, but in many cases also are a safe temporal foundation in a world torn by chaos and filled with poverty.

 

Every faithful Catholic knows the importance of the missions. It is through the work of missionaries that countless souls have come to know the truth and beauty of our Catholic faith. Today, in the developing nations hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, those who are suffering have an even greater need to know Our Lord.

Although the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is not primarily a missionary community of priests, we do strive to bring the fulness of Christ into the emptiness of the world—all corners of the world. Our love for souls, for our Catholic faith, and for the traditional liturgies of the Roman Rite compels us to reach out to people in developing nations through our Mission Tradition program.

Already, our apostolates in Mexico, Colombia, and Nigeria have changed many lives. But we can only reach as far as our resources allow—and millions more souls still need our help. Will you support Mission Tradition during Mission Month?

Your gift will enable Mission Tradition to:

  • Teach the truth of Christ with clarity and compassion.
  • Help sick and vulnerable people gain access to healthcare and medicine.
  • Improve quality of life by teaching farming skills.
  • Build churches, schools, and other key pieces of infrastructure.

Offer your Support.

Looking for a creative way to help? Launch your own fundraiser for Mission Tradition by designing and selling items on Bonfire.

I’m very excited about what this campaign will enable our missions to do for thousands of souls around the world! I’ll be giving you updates throughout October.

Thank you for your support of Mission Tradition.

God bless you all,

Fr. Anthony Dorsa, FSSP

Director of Mission Tradition

October 1, 2021

Sancta Nox: A New FSSP Christmas Album

We are delighted to announce a brand-new album by the seminarians of Saint Peter Wigratzbad, to be released tomorrow.

From the website of de Montfort Music:

‘Sancta Nox’, the debut record label release by The Seminarians of Saint Peter Wigratzbad, was recorded in Germany by two of the top talents working in classical music today: 10x Grammy Award-winning producer Christopher Alder and engineer Christian Weigl, also a Grammy winner. “Sancta Nox: Christmas Matins from Bavaria by the Seminarians of Saint Peter Wigratzbad” was recorded in an ancient 12th century abbey with state-of-the-art acoustics called St. Magnus Abbey, Bad Schussenried which was custom built for monastic singing. The recording label is De Montfort Music, which has helped cultivate a new audience for ancient choral music by developing several chart-topping albums of chant. This latest recording transfigures the sound of anticipation and remembrance into something mystical and beautiful, inspiring a feeling of hope in the cycle of life and an embrace of the eternal through the gift of meditative song. SANCTA NOX: Christmas Matins from Bavaria is a uniquely curated presentation, comprising 17 tracks of sublime melody, mostly monophonic Gregorian chant but concluding with a moving multi-lingual arrangement of the beloved classic Stille Nacht.

Many have heard The Seminarians sing this Matins repertoire leading up to Christmas services over the years, often suggesting that the group record and capture this stirring moment of the season. The text – beginning with “Dómine, lábia mea aperies Et os meum annuntiábit laudem tuam” (“O Lord, open Thou my lips. And my mouth shall declare Thy praise”) – is spiritually uplifting, meant to convey souls to a particular vision of something larger to come; the effect of the music is far-reaching and timeless, bound to touch the deepest emotions of any human heart.

Samples available at de Montfort Music, and you can order a copy of this wonderful CD at fraternitypublications.com.

 

September 27, 2021