A White Martyrdom Turned Red – Part 2

The account of St. Maria Goretti is not simply one of good versus evil. Rather, it further serves to bring to the forefront that her sanctity was not based on that one single moment of her attack. That was the culmination of something already there. The reason she was to obtain the palm of martyrdom was because of her fidelity to the path of preparation God’s Providence had provided from her early years. In spite of the horror of the tragedy, we receive a saint for our altars, the conversion of at least one hardened soul (of which we know heaven rejoices over), and a model for youth, both in piety and purity. Juxtaposed against the devout Goretti family are the two Serenelli’s, the wheat and weeds intermixed we may think, and a great deal of suffering because of that, yet we find reason as to why the weeds are not pulled out until harvest (cf. Mt. 13:29).

Little Maria learned early to offer all things in union with Christ; that came from her parents in the form of a devout father with an honest work ethic, and an even more devout mother committed to her husband and children, no matter what the cost. Prayers and Mass were important, they were operative in the family. Luigi and Assunta Goretti knew they did not need much, because they had each other in union and partnership with Christ. Their marriage was certainly not perfect; no doubt there was a return back to the Author of their marriage every day and a seeking of Him through their trials, of whose weight was particularly heavy.

For Maria, this example taught her the value of patience, it taught her the love of the Cross and how to love like Christ, with firm commitment and resoluteness. In return she was given to realize the gifts Christ had given her, most notably – after her Faith – her purity. Blessed are the pure of heart, they shall see God. And why?

Because purity is synonymous with clarity, the pure and chaste heart strengthens faith, giving insight into God’s work and into the mysteries of redemption. Sense is readily made of trials and crosses, and one experiences a closeness to God that permits trials to be borne to even heroic degrees because of the perceived union it leads to with Him; one does not give up under duress. As a result, a pure and chaste heart strengthens the conscience. Alessandro became fixated on one thing and was enslaved to it, and eventually was unable to stand the presence of innocence; St. Maria, quite to the contrary, was free and for that reason was able to receive the grace to make that final heroic act for love of God.

Even more so, this strength of faith and perfection of charity is demonstrated in Maria’s simplicity – in the midst of a violent attack, there was no time for nuances and justifications. Maria did not think to herself that Alessandro was justified in what he was doing – after all, he did not have it as good as she did, his mother went insane and neglected him, his father was a drunk, siblings didn’t care, and he got in with the wrong crowd. No.

She warned Alessandro of damnation for his actions. Right was right and wrong was wrong. There is a law of God, and for her it was God before sin, and her resistance was not only for her personal welfare, but so as to not render herself a stumbling block to his salvation. Is not such the entire point of modesty?

St. Maria Goretti demonstrates then that the devout life is a holistic life. Everything is connected – all the virtues work together. Her purity and modesty were fruits of her charity – her love for God and the Cross – that had matured from her generous spirit of sacrifice for love of neighbor, and God would ask of it from her in a heroic way to save the soul of Alessandro.

Some words, then, of Pope Pius XII from her canonization should serve to inspire us all:

Why has Maria Goretti so quickly conquered hearts? The reason is because there is still in this world, apparently sunk and immersed in the worship of pleasure, not only a meager little band of chosen souls who thirst for heaven and its pure air – but a crowd, an immense multitude on whom the supernatural fragrance of Christian purity exercises an irresistible and reassuring fascination. During the past fifty years, coupled with what was often a weak reaction on the part of decent people, there has been a conspiracy of evil practices, propagating themselves in books and illustrations, in theaters and radio programs, in styles and clubs and on the beaches, trying to work their way into the hearts of the family and society, and doing their worst damage among the youth, even among those of the tenderest years in whom the possession of virtue is a natural inheritance. Dearly beloved youth, young men and women, who are the special object of the love of Jesus and of us, tell me, are you resolved to resist firmly, with the help of divine grace, against every attempt made to violate your chastity? All of you who are intently listening to our words, know that above the unhealthy marshes and filth of the world, stretches an immense heaven of beauty. It is the heaven which fascinated little Maria; the heaven to which she longed to ascend by the only road that leads there, which is, religion, the love of Christ, and the heroic observance of his Commandments.

July 13, 2021

A White Martyrdom Turned Red – Part 1

On July 6, 1902, in a small rural Italian town, a young girl of twelve named Maria was forcibly propositioned by a twenty-year old family acquaintance named Alessandro. In her valiant resistance, Maria was stabbed several times, later to die from her injuries. Almost fifty years later, little Maria would be canonized by Pope Pius XII as a martyr of purity at what was then the largest crowd ever for a canonization.

The account of St. Maria Goretti is hardly a fairy tale, and it is a fascinating fact that Maria’s elderly mother, Assunta, was present at her daughter’s canonization, along with her attacker, who by then was nearly seventy years old. We can only wonder the emotions of a mother under such circumstances – perhaps a combination of extremes – a good measure of euphoria intermixed with profound sorrow as she recalled the events surrounding her daughter’s death.

In 1897, when Maria was only six, her father Luigi, an exceptionally hard-working and devout Italian peasant farmer, relocated his family of (then) four children to a small village south of Rome, with the hope of finding more suitable work to better provide for his family. The Goretti’s never knew anything more than abject poverty. Life was hard and uncertain, but despite that they were a happy family grounded firmly in the holy Faith; prayer and Mass were quite regular, and Maria demonstrated a maturity of a devout life from an early age. She could be playful and sweet, but was generally of more serious demeanor, and was not one complain much; she took her Faith and prayers to heart. The family made the two-hundred-mile journey over mountains in the summer heat in just two weeks, and Luigi was able to secure work for a landowner, draining marshes and turning them into farmland. In return, they were given a place to live and a profit-share of the crops. Assunta quickly began transforming the run-down house into a home; the children helped out in whatever way they could.

Within a few months, Luigi remarkably managed to drain eight acres of land and plant the new fields with wheat and barley. The backbreaking work wore him down physically, and there was constant threat of malaria in that region. He ignored the symptoms and continued to keep up his pace; but although God forgives, nature does not, and it all eventually caught up with him. Becoming too ill to work right at harvest time, the Goretti’s landlord hired Giovanni Serenelli and his youngest son, Alessandro, to finish the work. Giovanni was more than willing to work with Luigi but would be entitled to half the profit and enjoy a communal life with the Goretti’s. There was no choice in the matter, but in spite of disappointment at the prospect, things worked out well at the start. Luigi recovered sufficiently and the two men worked well together; the Goretti children just loved Alessandro.

But Giovanni had his own unresolved baggage: his wife had died some years earlier in an asylum, one of his other sons was an inmate there, and the rest of his children had gone the way of the world; only Alessandroremained. As time went on with the Goretti’s, Giovanni took to the bottle, and became increasingly more irritable and overbearing, causing much stress for Luigi. He did not complain much, but as the next few years passed, the toll it took on him was evident, more because of the burden it placed on his family than anything else.

As mentioned, Maria’s faith and piety was well beyond her years; her personal purity and modesty lended a certain presence to her. She had become so used to sacrifice that she actually got the town baker angry at her once when she put a cookie he gave her to enjoy in a bag to give to one of her siblings; seeing how he was offended, she took it out and ate it in front of him. During this same time interval, Alessandro developed his own problems. The years of maternal neglect coupled with bad companions during his youth made him vile, hostile, and sullen. He began to shun the Goretti children and soon began spending most of his times locked up in his room brooding over trashy magazines. Maria quickly grew sensitive to his change in demeanor; her mother even found the trash when cleaning his room, and although concerned about Alessandro’s influence on her oldest son, took no action in order not to bring further trouble into the home. This continued for four years.

By April 1902, fatigue and malaria would claim Luigi’s life. Giovanni became the master of the farm, and by this time he was a harsh and ruthless man. The Goretti’s were permitted to stay and work for him. Left with no choice but to stay, Assunta, who had seven children now, was then forced to work in the field with the boys, leaving Maria, now twelve, with all the housework. For Maria, her father’s long illness and death, Giovanni’s cruelty, and the never-ending work made her quite serious for her age, so much so that the village children referred to her as the “little old lady.” Her mother noticed it, too, but could only do so much to give her daughter relief.

Nonetheless, Maria found needed solace with God, and would spend large amounts of time in prayer at night. She concealed her tears in her prayers, and her devotion to Christ’s Passion and her obedience to her mother were extraordinary. Interestingly enough, in his later years, Alessandro recalled how Maria’s piety always impressed him, remarking that when she prayed, she really looked like she meant what she said. But for the time at hand, Maria felt much threatened by Alessandro; he had been stalking her for a while with evil intent, and she lived in fear of him. However, she kept this to herself, fearful of repercussions from Giovanni and not wishing to add to her mother’s worry.

On July 6, the day before her first Communion, while alone at the house with her baby sister, Maria was attacked at knifepoint by Alessandro. All the while during the attack, Maria’s concern above her own integrity was the soul of Alessandro, screaming at him that it was a sin, that God forbade it, and he would go to hell for it. He stabbed her in anger and fled. Maria lived for twenty more hours. The local priest came to administer the last rites; before giving her First Communion, he reminded her of Christ’s pardon of those who crucified him, and without the least anger or resentment, said that she pardoned her murderer. Alessandro was quickly apprehended, tried, and sentenced to thirty years solitary confinement.

He was angry and uncooperative for the first eight of those years, until the night he had a dream where he attests that he saw Maria gathering lilies; as she handed them to him, he became aware of a tremendous peace that could only come with forgiveness.

He repented sincerely and was a model prisoner for the rest of his sentence. Assunta forgave him as well with the same heartfelt sincerity, and he spent the rest of his life in penance working at local monasteries. He would die in May 1969.

July 8, 2021

St. Michael’s Scranton Welcomes Fathers Komorowski and Lawrence

This past Sunday, July 4th, St. Michael’s parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania enjoyed a rare liturgical treat.

Pastor Simon Harkins welcomed the Fraternity’s Superior General, the Very Rev. Fr. Andrzej Komorowski, and new North American Provincial Fr. William Lawrence for a special Solemn High Mass. Fathers Komorowski and Lawrence are both in town for the Provincial Chapter meetings to organize the governance of the new North American Province.

The Mass was of the FSSP Patronal feast of Ss Peter and Paul,  transferred to Sunday because St. Peter also happens to be the patron of the Scranton diocese. To have the FSSP leadership on hand for this double-patronal feast was an immense blessing.

Fr. Komorowski offered solemn High Mass, with Fr. Harkins as deacon. Fr. Lawrence served as subdeacon, in his first public liturgical event as Provincial.

After welcoming the Fraternity leadership to St. Michael’s, Fr. Harkins gave a homily relating the feast of St. Peter to the July 4th holiday, and giving us a well-needed reminder that true independence comes not from the state but from God.

 

St. Michael’s Choir sang at its last High Mass of the season before a much-deserved summer break.

After Mass, the faithful gathered in the basement for coffee and doughnuts as well as delightful conversations with all three priests.

Many thanks to Fr. Komorowski and Fr. Lawrence for coming to visit St. Michael’s, and to Fr. Harkins for setting up this wonderful Mass.

July 6, 2021

Blood Transfusion

All of us run into some kind of dilemma in our lives when we are faced with acts of generosity from another which really cannot be repaid anywhere close to the measure it was given.

“Thank you” hardly does the job, and although we extend a heartfelt word of gratitude out of charity, we feel silly about it and express some wish that there was something more of substance that could be done. But at the same time though, in such circumstances there often is a level of inequality between the person who gives and the person who receives.

Like in the case of parents, because certain things cannot be given to another without long years of preparation and sacrifice, the expectation of return does not include an exact or equal repayment because such would be impossible and impractical. Rather, the best and most satisfying response of gratitude involves learning how to give in a way similar to which the original benefit or gift was given.

Obviously though, the more perfect the gift, the greater we sense an obligation to this kind of response of gratitude, which really amounts to a more generous giving of self.

What then is to be said about the Blood of Jesus Christ? Can there be any more perfect gift from God?

Unfortunately, man does not usually realize that because we do not want salvation enough.

Like in all things, there had to be a donation of one life for the sake of the life of another, and so when we are confronted with the reality that, in God’s Providence, the shedding of Christ’s Blood – the very life of His Body – was required for our sins to be forgiven, we find ourselves at a loss about what to say.

Painting of St. Jerome in Penitence

What do we say when confronted with the infinite depths of Christ’s love as depicted on the crucifix? Only with a supernatural spirit of humility are we able to make any response.

True, it is impossible to repay Christ as He deserves, but He is not looking for that.

Instead, our Lord gives us the answer: If ye love Me, keep My commandments.

That is what He wants in return for His Blood, words which He said to the Apostles at the Last Supper, an instruction given to His Church of which we are members of through Baptism, and words which carry the reward of God’s grace in our souls. Strive to live uprightly, to live morally, to be challenged by the crucifix so as to know ourselves as God knows us: the Blood of Jesus Christ was powerful enough to save man from sin an infinite times over, and so it greatly pleases our Lord, who shed His Blood freely, when we have confidence in this saving power and call upon Him with confidence for the conversion of our souls.

If the crucifix makes us feel a bit guilty initially, well, it should, but only continues to do so if we play games with God.

That is when we avoid it, when we prefer to not think about Christ and His Blood. A miserable state indeed since it is not supposed to stop there. Our Lord wants this keeping of the Commandments to be motivated by charity, not fear: Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of Heart and you will find rest for your souls.

There is no true rest if we live in fear, if we coddle a sin our Lord’s Blood can easily clean if we are only a little more generous with our admission of it and our purpose of amendment. Rest is quite real if we are in love, because in all we do and say we seek to possess and strengthen our relationship with God. But this only happens courtesy of the Blood of Christ, and so this response to our Lord’s Blood is a continual process, only possible by the daily dying to self in the hundreds of little ways that come up in our day – the effort, first and foremost to avoid mortal sin, and, after that, using prayer and the Sacraments regularly to know ourselves so to avoid deliberate venial sin.

To the degree we believe that our happiness is with God, that man stood and continues to stand in need of salvation, that God had been offended by sin and amends had to be made, and that we are powerless by ourselves, is the degree we believe that God has put in place means for this to be accomplished through the shedding of the Blood of His only Son, and it is something we will gladly spend our life making known to those who know it not.

What benefit they will have if given the grace to believe in the Blood that saved them! How we stand as beneficiaries of God’s generosity – life given so life can be received – and how it all comes back around if we are generous in our gratitude we owe to God.

Blood that but one drop of has the power to win, all the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Blood of Christ, strength of confessors, save us!

July 1, 2021

North American Provincial Chapter Meeting Begins Today

On this Feast of the Precious Blood, the Fraternity asks for your prayers as it holds its Chapter meetings to transition the North American District into the new North American Province. The meetings begin today and will extend to July 10th.

At the parish level, FSSP communities will not see much change.

The differences will primarily be administrative. A provincial superior has ordinary power, whereas a district superior does not. The province will be able to handle things such as priest assignments, without having to refer them up to the Superior General. Overall, it makes the administration of the FSSP in North America easier and more localized.

This change is a great testament to the growth of the FSSP in North America, especially at a time when many religious orders are consolidating existing provinces rather than forming new ones.

Today at the Chapter meeting, there is recollection and a special consecration of the Province to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Please pray for the priests and seminarians in attendance, that the chapter meetings may be filled with the light of the Holy Ghost.

Veni, Sancte Spíritus, reple tuórum corda fidélium, et tui amóris in eis ignem accénde.

V. Emítte Spíritum túum et creabúntur.

R. Et renovábis fáciem terræ.

Orémus.

Deus, qui corda fidélium Sancti Spíritus illustratióne docuísti: da nobis in eódem Spíritu recta sápere, et de eius semper consolatióne gaudére. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, Who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that, by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Veni, Creátor Spíritus,

mentes tuórum vísita,

imple supérna grátia

quae tu creásti péctora.

Qui díceris Paráclitus,

altíssimi donum Dei,

fons vivus, ignis, cáritas,

et spiritális únctio.

Tu, septifórmis múnere,

dígitus patérnae déxterae,

Tu rite promíssum Patris,

sermóne ditans gúttura.

Accénde lumen sénsibus:

infúnde amórem córdibus:

infírma nostri córporis

virtúte firmans pérpeti.

Hostem repéllas lóngius,

pacémque dones prótinus:

ductóre sic te prǽvio

vitémus omne nóxium.

Per te sciámus da Patrem,

noscámus atque Fílium;

Teque utriúsque Spíritum

credámus omni témpore.

Deo Patri sit gloria,

et Fílio, qui a mórtuis

surréxit, ac Paráclito,

in sæculórum sǽcula. Amen.

V. Emítte Spíritum túum, et creabúntur.

R. Et renovábis fáciem terrae.

Orémus.

Deus, qui corda fidélium Sancti Spíritus illustratióne docuísti: da nobis in eódem Spíritu recta sápere; et de eius semper consolatióne gaudére. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,

Vouchsafe within our souls to rest;

Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

And fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

To Thee, the Comforter, we cry,

To Thee, the Gift of God Most High,

The Fount of life, the Fire of love,

The soul’s Anointing from above.

The seven-fold gifts of grace are Thine,

O Finger of the Hand Divine;

True promise of the Father Thou,

Who dost the tongue with speech endow.

Thy light to every thought impart

And shed Thy love in every heart;

Our body’s poor infirmity

With strength perpetual fortify.

Our mortal foe afar repel,

Grant us henceforth in peace to dwell;

If Thou be our preventing Guide,

No evil can our steps betide.

Make Thou to us the Father known,

Teach us th’ Eternal Son to own,

And Thee, Whose Name we ever bless,

Of Both the Spirit, to confess.

All glory while the ages run,

Be to the Father and the Son,

Who rose from death; the same to Thee,

O Holy Ghost, eternally. Amen.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.

R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that, by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ss Peter and Paul video 2021

Our new video for the Ss Peter and Paul appeal, featuring our newly ordained priests.

June 29, 2021

Pray for the New Province, with FSSP Baltimore

The Fraternity’s apostolate in Baltimore, the National Shrine of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, is offering an octave of Masses beginning with the Feast of the Most Precious Blood in thanksgiving for the establishment of the new North American Province and to implore God’s graces, protection, and guidance for the Fraternity, its new Provincial, and its priests during their first Provincial Meeting. They invite you to enroll your own intentions, specific or general, for your local parish and priests, for the Fraternity, for its leadership, and for its seminarians in the Masses offered on this special and auspicious feast day and throughout the week following. Your intentions will be placed in a gold box on the first gradine of the altar during the Masses offered for them.

Visit the website to submit your intentions or to watch the High Mass as it is broadcast live beginning at 7pm on 1 July:

https://stalphonsusbalt.org/preciousblood

Christum Dei Filium, qui suo nos redemit sanguine, Venite adoremus!

June 28, 2021

A Joyous Celebration in Houston

by Fr. William Rock, FSSP.

Some of the greenery in the arrangements of the High Altar were painted silver – a simple yet heartfelt touch to honor the Silver Anniversary of a Priestly Ordination.

The imposition of hands at Fr. Van Vliet’s Ordinaton and a contemporary article (click to enlarge)

For it was on June 15, 1996, that Fr. Charles Van Vliet, FSSP was ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. And 25 years to the day later, his parish, Regina Cæli [Queen of Heaven] in Houston, Texas, celebrated this milestone along with him.

In the time leading up to the celebration, the faithful arranged, in addition to the flowers for the Altar, a spiritual bouquet.  Some also prepared for the cake reception which followed the anniversary Mass, while others produced a slide show from old pictures or fashioned a trifold poster recounting Father’s steps to the Priesthood and his Priestly ministry.

On the day of the anniversary itself, Fr. Van Vliet celebrated a Solemn High Mass.  He was assisted by Fr. William Rock, FSSP as Deacon, and Fr. Stephen Braun, FSSP as Subdeacon.  This thanksgiving Mass was the Mass of the Queenship of Mary with the additional orations for the Priest himself and the Te Deum – the hymn of thanksgiving – was chanted at the conclusion.  The parish’s schola chanted the Mass with additional pieces sung by a mixed polyphonic choir.

During his sermon, Fr. Van Vliet related parts of his vocation story.  He recalled how, when he was young, a Priest calling him “Father Van Vliet” never left him, and led him to seriously consider the Catholic Priesthood.  He entered seminary, but his time there was not without difficulties.  Following the advice he was given, he suspended his clerical studies and entered college.  After graduating, he again undertook and completed his Priestly formation.

Fr. Van Vliet also shared some information about his first Mass.  The advice given to him by the preacher – to rely on the Holy Ghost as he fulfills his ministry – has stayed with him all these years.  In addition to relating other stories about his ministry – including saying Mass in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Carmelites – Father additionally touched on the theology of the Priesthood drawing from the Priestly Ordination Rites.

Making the sermon more personal for the members of his parish, Fr. Van Vliet told how the first Mass he celebrated for what would eventually become Regina Cæli Parish, when the Fraternity was becoming established in Houston, was the Mass celebrating his 15th anniversary.  He went on to relate the early struggles of the community and the help received from local clergy, for which he was very thankful.  And now, 10 years later, the community is an established parish with its own land and major building projects.  And while he has no plans of leaving the parish anytime soon, Father did say he does not foresee still being Pastor in Houston when he competes his next 25 years.  (The full text of the sermon can be found here.)

Following the Mass, there was a cake reception during which Fr. Braun, an early member of the community, presented Fr. Van Vliet with the spiritual bouquet.

The stories that Father can tell about his life both before and after his Priestly Ordination are varied.  And while it is impossible to capture the way he tells them in a printed format like this, we nevertheless offer our readers a short biography of Fr. Van Vliet and an interview he gave for the Texas Catholic Herald so that his life and ministry may be more fully illustrated.  In the same vein, there are also several past Missive posts detailing the growth and activity which Regina Cæli Parish has experienced under Fr. Van Vliet’s tenure as pastor, which we invite our reads to view:

Please join us in thanking God for the gift of Fr. Van Vliet’s Priesthood and in praying for him so that he may continue to become the saintly priest and the priestly saint God desires him to be.

Ad multos annos, Pater!

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

June 25, 2021

Ss Peter and Paul Appeal 2021

A week from today on June 29th we are celebrating the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, a feast of exceptional importance for the FSSP. Not only are we honoring these two great saints, we are also celebrating our newly-ordained priests, and the family and parish life that formed them in Catholic tradition and allowed them to respond to the call from Almighty God.

On June 29th, Help Us Build a Culture of Vocations

What we need now more than ever is an authentically Catholic culture: a wellspring from which many future vocations will be drawn. And since so many things we do to help build that culture can’t be funded from Sunday collections, they depend entirely on your support of the FSSP as a whole.

Also, because of last year’s restrictions and lockdowns, we have added many new faces to our FSSP family who are hungry to experience the beauty of our Catholic traditions. We now have to rise to this challenge and grow to accommodate them.

Our goal is to raise $100,000

Do you believe in what the Fraternity stands for? Will you remember us in your prayers and gifts, that we can continue our work for the glory of God?

Every offering, no matter how small, helps us further our wider mission beyond our parish boundaries. Donations are easy to make online, and all givers above $500 will receive a special FSSP tote bag in gratitude for your support.

On June 29th we’ll have a special video to share with all of you, featuring our newly ordained priests. And we’ll also be sharing updates on social media throughout the day to let you know how we are doing relative to our goal.

As always, we thank you so much for your support, and we ask Our Lord to reward you from His treasury of grace.

fssp.com/ss-peter-paul

June 22, 2021

Near Missed Masses: A new book by Fr. Armand de Malleray FSSP

Fr. Armand de Malleray, author of X-Ray of a Priest in a Field Hospital and Ego Eimi: It is I, has a new book out with Arouca Press titled Near Missed Masses: Ten Short Stories Based on Actual Events:

Can priests miss Mass? This little book light-heartedly depicts ten Holy Masses nearly missed by priests due to some opposition. From Kilimanjaro to Loch Ness, from Burma to Paris and more, the ten humorous short stories describe obstacles to the celebration of Holy Mass, thankfully overcome. The ten priests persevered, spurred by the conviction that Holy Mass: 1) honours God, whose extrinsic glory increases each time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered; 2) helps souls through the temporal application of Christ’s saving merits that Holy Mass brings about; 3) fortifies priests, whose ontological raison d’être is to offer the divine Victim on the altar. Leaving aside theological arguments, Near Missed Masses entertainingly illustrates these truths through fiction.

Praise for Near Missed Masses

“In the real world, which is the world that God made, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the power station feeding the life of grace. Without such grace, we die. In this volume of true stories, Fr Armand de Malleray shows us the life-giving power of the Mass in a world darkened with devildom. The light-hearted and humorous tone of the stories makes them easily readable without ignoring the gravity of the topic.”

Joseph Pearce, author of biographies of J. R. R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton

“The unusual theme that unites a good number of the stories in this compendium is a scenario with which many a freshly-ordained priest will soon become familiar—the battle royal that often ensues in the attempt to secure an altar at which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass may be offered in an atmosphere of recollection and decorum. With tact and good humour, Father de Malleray explores the intra-ecclesial prejudices and neuroses which have given rise to such a state of affairs, and illustrates how perseverance, charity and prayer are the most effective weapons we possess against suspicion and bigotry. An edifying read for both priests and laity, which we should pray will contribute to the healing of self-inflicted wounds which for too long have hampered the Church’s mission of evangelisation.”

Fr Julian Large, Provost of the London Oratory

“The stories in this collection give us precious evidence of the hidden persistence of the grace of the true priestly vocation in unexpected situations. The ten narratives portray priestly candidates and priests of various ages and cultures. All reveal that secret dialogue in the soul that takes place when grace is at work. Based on my experience in teaching Thomistic philosophy to seminarians for a decade and catechesis to seminarians and priests as well as lay people, I cannot recommend this book highly enough for young Catholic men and for all those who nurture vocations, or who could, but who are not sufficiently alert to the quiet presence of the Holy Spirit in many young souls.”

Dr Caroline FareyAnnunciation Catechesis

“In Near Missed Masses, Fr de Malleray finds a delightfully playful and imaginative way to reinvent true contemporary stories and drive home a serious point: the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the zeal that we should have to celebrate (as priests) or attend (as layfaithful) this Sacrifice worthily and frequently. In this way, the book functions like the proverbial storeroom containing things both new and old!”

— Fr Henry Whisenant, Diocese of East Anglia (England)

* * * * *

About the Author

Born in 1971 in the Loire Valley, Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, left France in 1994 after completing a Master’s Degree in Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. He taught French at the Military Academy in Budapest before joining the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in 1995 in Bavaria, where he was ordained in 2001. His first priestly assignment was in London, Southwark Archdiocese. He served in England since, apart from five years in Switzerland, then in an administrative position at his Fraternity’s headquarters. Since 2008, he has been the editor of Dowry, the quarterly magazine of his Fraternity in the UK & Ireland. Fr de Malleray has been chaplain to the international Juventutem youth movement since its inception in 2004 (cf. www.juventutem.org), and to the Confraternity of St Peter, his Fraternity’s international prayer-network for priestly vocations. Since 2015, he is the rector of St Mary’s Shrine in Warrington, Liverpool Archdiocese, where he also oversees the apostolate of his Fraternity in England and promotes vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life.

June 17, 2021