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

September Embertide and the Christianizing of Eden

by Fr. William Rock, FSSP

Autumn Ember Days
Abel Grimmer’s Autumn (1607)

According to the 1962 Liturgical Calendar of the Roman Rite, this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are Ember Days.  The Ember Days are four sets of three days (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) which occur around the transitions of the natural seasons – winter, spring, summer, and autumn.

This year, the Autumn Equinox – when day and night are equal length and which astronomically marks the start of autumn, thus the end of summer, in the Northern Hemisphere – occurs this Wednesday, September 22nd, Ember Wednesday.  Historically, the Ember Days were days of penance observed to give thanks to God for His blessings in the previous season and to ask for His blessings for the upcoming one.  In 1962, Ember Wednesday and Saturday were days of fasting and partial abstinence – that is, one could take only one full meal and two little meals and meat only at the main meal.  The two little meals, when added together, were not to equal a whole meal.  Ember Friday, because it is a Friday, would have been a day of fasting and total abstinence, so no meat at all.

The Ember Days were also seen as days of prayer for those who were to be ordained, as ordinations were historically held on the Ember Saturdays. The practice of having ordinations on Ember Saturdays is still reflected in the Masses for the Ember Saturdays and the ordination rites themselves.

While there is no current canonical obligation to keep the upcoming Ember Days as days of penance, the reader is invited voluntarily to do so.  Even if one cannot keep them as days of fasting and abstinence, the reader is encouraged to do some form of penance on these three days and to keep them with the same spirit and intentions as our Catholic forefathers – in thanksgiving for the blessings of the previous season, to ask God’s blessing for the upcoming one, and to pray for the clergy, particularly for those studying for the Priesthood.  As part of the keeping of the Ember Days, seafood tempura is suggested – a Japanese food which, according to pious tradition, takes its name from the Latin name for the Ember Days, Quatuor Anni Tempora.

God Creating the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

That the Latin Church in her liturgical traditions observes, in a way, the transition between the seasons should not be seen as odd or, even worse, pagan.  A Catholic lives in this created material world just as much as a pagan does, and both have to live in and by its cycles.  Marking the seasons is not distinctly pagan, or distinctly Catholic for that matter, but is simply human, part of the shared human experience.  In fact, God intends that the heavenly bodies be used by man in such a way.  According to the Book of Genesis, on the Fourth Day, “God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them [the heavenly bodies] be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years:” (Gen 1:14).  With this knowledge, one may dare to say that the celebrating of the transitions of the natural seasons belongs most properly and rightly to those who worship the Creator, the True God, the Thrice Holy Trinity, rather than to the pagans.  It is worth noting here that the Hebrew word translated as “seasons” can also mean “feasts.”1

Based on what has just been discussed and the requirements of the Natural Law for Divine Worship, it is the contention of this article that, in Eden, the worship of the Creator would have had an astronomical component.  Planting and harvest festivals would not have arisen until after the Fall when, as a punishment, man was sentenced to work the land for his sustenance (Gen 3:17-19).  Such a post-Fall development would be in keeping with man’s nature, his relationship with God, Who bestows all blessings, and fallen man’s relationship with material creation.

It is true that Man was created in a State of Grace and given a supernatural destiny,2 but he was to achieve this destiny within material creation.  He was supernaturally elevated, but he was not, therefore, removed from the natural realm.  Rather, he was to live in such a way so that he offered the material creation back to its Creator, acting as a mediator between God and the rest of material creation.

Celebration of the Passover

Man’s role of acting as a mediator between God and rest of material creation was not lost with the Fall, nor was the astronomical component of worship.  The Hebrews, for example, were instructed to offer sacrifices every day, but to rest on the Seventh Day of the Week, the Sabbath, Saturday, to weekly mark God’s completion of Creation (see Gen 2:2-3; Exo 31:13-17).  Several of the Psalms, such as Psalm 135 (according to the Vulgate numbering), hymn God for His works of Creation.  Each New Moon was celebrated by the Hebrews with the blowing of the trumpet and marked the beginning of a new month (see Num 10:10).  The date of the celebration of the Feast of Passover, and thus of Pentecost, was determined “from astronomical calculations.”3  Additionally, the Hebrew Feasts of Passover and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) had agricultural connections, Passover with the wheat harvest (see Exo 34:22) and Sukkot with the corn harvest (see Exo 23:16; 34:22).  In this manner, the ceremonies of the Old Law incorporated not only the astronomical component of the worship of Eden, but also the post-Fall harvest festivals.

The keeping of the Ember Days, then, in a way returns the Christian to the most primitive type of the worship of God, to Edenic worship, as it were, to the worship of God grounded in and guided by the material creation, in particular the rhythm of the celestial bodies.  Just as grace does not destroy nature, but rather builds upon and perfects nature,4 so too does the Catholic Church Christianize this primordial worship of God, elevating and incorporating it into worship of the New Law.  This paradigm also explains why abstaining from meat on the Ember Days is especially fitting.

Noah Offers up a Sacrifice (after the Flood)

When God placed Man in the Garden, He told them: “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).  It was not until after the Fall and after the Flood, that God gave man animals as food: “And God blessed Noe and his sons. And he said to them: Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth. And let the fear and dread of you be upon all the beasts of the earth, and upon all the fowls of the air, and all that move upon the earth: all the fishes of the sea are delivered into your hand. And every thing that moveth, and liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herbs have I delivered them all to you: saving that flesh with blood you shall not eat” (Gen 9:2-4).5  By abstaining from meat, man is behaving in a more Edenic, pre-diluvian, pre-flood way, a manner of acting which fits perfectly with the Edenic observance of the Ember Days.

A Roman Ritual from 1687 open to the Making of Holy Water

But the Ember Days are not the only manner in which the Catholic Church incorporates the material creation into her worship of God.  Catholicism, in particular traditional Catholicism, is – and the author can find no better word to describe it – earthy.  The Roman Ritual includes blessings for fields, orchards, and vineyards; for seeds and seedlings, for herbs and flowers; for animals and their feed; for bees, for birds, for silkworms, against mice; for fountains and wells; for bonfires; for grapes, fruit, bread, butter, beer, and wine; for wedding chambers; the many sacramentals for expecting mothers, including a blessing of the mother and child.  There is a whole ceremony of thanksgiving for the mother after childbirth.  Turning to the Missal, there are votive orations for times of famines, for times of earthquakes, and for times of pestilence; for asking for rain, for asking for fine weather, for the repelling of storms.  In the Divine Office, in the Times after Epiphany and Pentecost, the Sunday and weekday Vespers Hymns, when there are no feasts, progress day-by-day through the Days of Creation as expressed in Genesis.  Again, the Catholic Church incorporates the material creation and our material nature into her worship of God, into her Liturgical Life, and, elevating all this, incorporates them into the rites of the New Law.

God the Geometer

But it is not only Edenic worship which the Catholic Church incorporates and elevates, but also the worship of the Old Law, which itself incorporated post-Fall agricultural worship.  The connections between the Jewish Passover and the Christian Holy Week and Easter and between the Jewish Pentecost and the Christian Pentecost are perhaps the most well-known (the dates of these Jewish Feasts, as noted above, being determined astronomically).  But other Jewish Feasts are still marked in some manner by Christians.  It has been noted that Ember Wednesday of September shares themes with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.6  This year Rosh Hashanah was celebrated during the first week of September, just a few weeks prior to this year’s Ember Wednesday of September (although originally the New Year was celebrated around Passover, see Exo 12).  The institutions of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, are read during the Mass of September’s Ember Saturday.  This year, the Ember Saturday of September will be celebrated on September 25th, shortly following this year’s celebration of Yom Kippur, September 15th-16th.  The celebration of Sukkot, September 20th-27th, overlaps with this year’s September Embertide.

So not only do the September Ember days mark the transition from summer to autumn, but they also Christianize the Jewish festivals of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot and that more-or-less coincidently with the Jewish feasts themselves.  Other examples of the Liturgy of the New Law preserving and elevating elements of worship from the Old Law can be brought forward, but this will suffice for now.

Let us then, dear reader, as we worship God according to the Rites of the Latin Church, bear in mind that by them we are participating in an elevation and preservation of the astronomical worship of Eden, post-Fall agricultural worship, and the worship of the Old Law.  And may all this particularly be kept in mind during this upcoming September Embertide, which you are invited to keep in the same spirit and practice as our Catholic forefathers.

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

1. Strong’s Dictionary, H4150.

2. Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Baronius Press, 2018, p. 113.

3. Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Pasch or Passover.”

4. See S.T. I, q. 1, a. 8, ad 2.

5. See Dom Guéranger’s The Liturgical Year – Lent (History of Lent).

6. Kunitz-Dick, Alisa. Audi, Israël: Jewish Feasts in the Propers of the Traditional Roman Rite

September 20, 2021

Exaltation of the Holy Cross + Seven Sorrows of the BVM: 7 Masses for the sick and sorrowing

Hence that uninterrupted community of life and labors of the Son and the Mother, so that of both might have been uttered the words of the Psalmist, “My life is consumed in sorrow and my years in groans” (Ps xxx. 11). When the supreme hour of the Son came, beside the Cross of Jesus there stood Mary His Mother, not merely occupied in contemplating the cruel spectacle, but rejoicing that her Only Son was offered for the salvation of mankind….
—Pope Pius X

What extraordinary grace filled Our Savior and His Mother at the Cross!

Not only did God’s grace hold Them up under the most unendurable weight of suffering, but it transformed Their sorrow and pain into a love so profound that They could rejoice, even in that darkest of hours, in the overwhelming glory of God and in the beautiful hope of our salvation.

We need that grace, too, to survive our trials and crosses – and to see in the midst of darkness that glorious hope that shall be the source of all our joy and the reason we press on. Let us find at the foot of the Cross, by Our Lady’s help, the graces we need in our sufferings.

The FSSP’s apostolate in Baltimore, the National Shrine of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, begins a new tradition this year.

In honor of the twin feasts of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on 14 September and Our Lady of Sorrows on 15 September, they will offer seven Masses, in union with the seven sorrows of Our Lady to which the month of September is dedicated, for those who are sick and sorrowing – that they may find healing and peace at the foot of the Cross with Our Lady.

These two feasts, so intimately intertwined, are a way for us to unite all our trials to the Cross of Christ as we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and stand at the foot of Calvary with our Lady. May we have the Heart of our Lady and receive the courage and strength we need to carry our own Crosses in imitation of our Crucified Lord.

Visit their website to enroll your intentions and make a donation to support the spiritual work of the Shrine.

https://stalphonsusbalt.org/cross-sorrows

September 14, 2021

Communique of the Superiors-General of the “Ecclesia Dei” Communities

Superior General Andrzej Komorowski, FSSP and the other heads of various “Ecclesia Dei” communities met this past week in Courtalain in France and wrote a communique directed to the Bishops of France–not to the Holy See or the Church at large. The statement is now widely circulating online, but we wished to republish it here with that slight clarification about its intended audience. –ed.

Communique of the Superiors-General of the “Ecclesia Dei” Communities

“The mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh.”

(Sirach 18, 13)

The signatory Institutes want, above all, to reiterate their love for the Church and their fidelity to the Holy Father. This filial love is tinged with great suffering today. We feel suspected, marginalized, banished. However, we do not recognize ourselves in the description given in the accompanying letter of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, of July 16, 2021.

“If we say we have no sin …” (I John 1, 8)

We do not see ourselves as the “true Church” in any way. On the contrary, we see in the Catholic Church our Mother in whom we find salvation and faith. We are loyally subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff and that of the diocesan bishops, as demonstrated by the good relations in the dioceses (and the functions of Presbyteral Councillor, Archivist, Chancellor, or Official which have been entrusted to our members), and the result of canonical or apostolic visits of recent years. We reaffirm our adherence to the magisterium (including that of Vatican II and what follows), according to the Catholic doctrine of the assent due to it (cf. in particular Lumen Gentium, no. 25, and Catechism of the Catholic Church , no. 891 and 892), as evidenced by the numerous studies and doctoral theses carried out by several of us over the past 33 years.

Have any mistakes been made? We are ready, as every Christian is, to ask forgiveness if some excess of language or mistrust of authority may have crept into any of our members. We are ready to convert if party spirit or pride has polluted our hearts.

“Fulfill your vows unto the Most High” (Psalm 49:14)

We beg for a humane, personal, trusting dialogue, far from ideologies or the coldness of administrative decrees. We would like to be able to meet a person who will be for us the face of the Motherhood of the Church. We would like to be able to tell him about the suffering, the tragedies, the sadness of so many lay faithful around the world, but also of priests, men and women religious who gave their lives trusting on the word of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

They were promised that “all measures would be taken to guarantee the identity of their Institutes in the full communion of the Catholic Church”[1]. The first Institutes accepted with gratitude the canonical recognition offered by the Holy See in full attachment to the traditional pedagogies of the faith, particularly in the liturgical field (based on the Memorandum of Understanding of May 5, 1988, between Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Lefebvre). This solemn commitment was expressed in the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of July 2, 1988; then in a diversified manner for each Institute, in their decrees of erection and in their constitutions definitively approved. The men and women religious and priests involved in our Institutes have made vows or made commitments according to this specification.

It is in this way that, trusting in the word of the Supreme Pontiff, they gave their lives to Christ to serve the Church. These priests and men and women religious served the Church with dedication and abnegation. Can we deprive them today of what they are committed to? Can we deprive them of what the Church had promised them through the mouth of the Popes?

Have patience with me!” (Mt 18:29)

Pope Francis, “encourage[s] the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.”(Amoris Laetitia, 312). We are eager to entrust the tragedies we are living to a father’s heart. We need listening and goodwill, not condemnation without prior dialogue.

The harsh judgment creates a feeling of injustice and produces resentment. Patience softens hearts. We need time.

Today we hear of disciplinary apostolic visits to our Institutes. We ask for fraternal meetings where we can explain who we are and the reasons for our attachment to certain liturgical forms. Above all, we want a truly human and merciful dialogue: “Have patience with me!”

Circumdata varietate” (Ps 44:10).

On August 13, the Holy Father affirmed that in liturgical matters, “unity is not uniformity but the multifaceted harmony created by the Holy Spirit”[2]. We are eager to make our modest contribution to this harmonious and diverse unity, aware that, as Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches, “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows” (SC, n ° 10).

With confidence, we turn first to the bishops of France so that a true dialogue be opened and that a mediator be appointed who will be for us the human face of this dialogue. We must, “avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations … It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy.” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 296-297).

Done at Courtalain (France), August 31, 2021.

 

Fr. Andrzej Komorowski, Superior-General of the Fraternity of Saint Peter

Msgr. Gilles Wach, Prior General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

Fr. Luis Gabriel Barrero Zabaleta, Superior-General of the Institute of the Good Shepherd

Fr. Louis-Marie de Blignières, Superior-General of the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer

Fr. Gerald Goesche, General Provost of the Institute of Saint Philip Neri

Fr. Antonius Maria Mamsery, Superior-General of the Missionaries of the Holy Cross

Dom Louis-Marie de Geyer d’Orth, Father Abbot of the Abbey of Saint Magdalen of Le Barroux

Fr.  Emmanuel-Marie Le Fébure du Bus,  Father Abbot of the Canons of the Abbey of Lagrasse

Dom Marc Guillot, Father Abbot of the Abbey of Saint Mary of  la Garde

Mother Placide Devillers, Mother Abbess of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Le Barroux

Mother Faustine Bouchard, Prioress of the Canonesses of Azille

Mother Madeleine-Marie, Superior of the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Sovereign Priest

_____________

[1] Informative Note of June 16, 1988, in Documentation Catholique, no. 1966, p. 739. 

[2] Video Message of Pope Francis to the participants of the Congress on Religious Life.

Translation from Rorate Caeli. Original French document: Notre-Dame de Chrétienté/ Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage.

September 3, 2021

Confraternity Message from Fr. Reiner, FSSP

Dear members of the Confraternity,

The Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes and its accompanying letter from Pope Francis have shocked us all. We have not yet been informed of any definitive decisions regarding the future of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and its apostolates. Even though the first reactions of various bishops have been rather reassuring and have not involved any significant restrictions, nevertheless, in the coming weeks various bishops’ conferences will discuss the matter on the occasion of this motu proprio and possibly take decisions that will be groundbreaking for us. The Roman Congregation for Religious Orders, which in the future will be responsible for us instead of the “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, will also begin its work in a few weeks and will also make the first decisions concerning the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

For these decisions, which are important for us and which bishops and cardinals will make in the near future, I would like to ask you, as the closest confidants of our Fraternity, most sincerely for your prayers. Through our prayers, let us consciously place the future of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her intercession and maternal protection will lead the Fraternity into the future in a way that is in accordance with the Divine Will. For this purpose, I would like to create the so-called “Living Rosary”. For this purpose we have created a simple homepage, which you can find at www.fssp.de/rosarium and register there.

In the columns of the table you will find numbers 1 to 30, which stand for the 30 days of the coming month of September. Each day is divided into sections of 20 minutes from 0:00 to 24:00 (Central European Time), in which two people can sign in with a simple click. With the first click, the corresponding field turns yellow and the number 1 appears. Once a yellow field is clicked, another person can click on it again, then the field turns green and the number 2 appears. The goal is for each field to appear green, that is, for at least two people to pray the rosary during the corresponding period. If you make a mistake and you would like to pray the Rosary at another time, you can click on the box another time and your entry will be deleted.

With your help, the Rosary will be prayed without interruption during the month of September. Since there are about 8000 members in the Confraternity of St. Peter worldwide, not all of them can register in this table. But even if all the fields of the table are already set to green, I would like to ask all the other members of the Confraternity who could not register to participate by praying at least one rosary. The times of the table rows are given according to Central European Time (Berlin), i.e. each member should calculate the time difference himself according to his place of residence. I would ask that the American members predominantly adopt the European night hours. Not all members of the Confraternity have internet access or can be reached by e-mail. If you know of any such members, I would ask that you pass this prayer request on to them. It would be beautiful if we could succeed in continuously assailing Heaven with about 8000 rosaries prayed during the month of September.

Each rosary should be prayed with the following intention: We pray for our Holy Father and for all the bishops, as well as all those in authority in the Church who will have to make significant decisions regarding the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in the near future. We pray for all the priests and seminarians of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, that they may continue to carry out their ministry in the Church with fidelity, reverence and obedience, giving guidance to the faithful through a clear ecclesial and humble attitude. We pray for all the faithful in our apostolates and for all the people attached to the traditional Mass, that they will not lose heart, but will be able to accept this time of trial and, with the help of God’s grace, come out of it stronger.

United in prayers,

Father Stefan Reiner
Chaplain General of the Confraternity of St. Peter

For more on the Confraternity, see: https://fssp.com/confraternity-of-saint-peter/

August 27, 2021

Unique for Unique – Natural Requirements for Divine Worship

by Fr. William Rock, FSSP

It is incumbent upon each of us to know the relationships we are in and to act appropriately with respect to each.1  It is, for example, important and imperative for a husband and father to know whom his wife and children are and to act towards them in a fitting manner.  The most important relationship each one of us has, however, is our relationship with God. This is because each of us has a relationship with God which we do not and cannot have with anyone else – we each depend upon God for our continued existence.  For not only did God create each of us, He also maintains each of us in existence, in being, from moment to moment.  If He were to cease to maintain this support, we would not die, we would cease to exist altogether, returning to the nothingness from which we were drawn.2

The Sacrifice of Cain and Abel (Gen 4:3-4)

It is incumbent, then, that each recognize that we have this dependence on God.  But mere intellectual recognition is not enough.  As man is a composite of soul and body, the acknowledgement of this relationship, this dependence, by the intellect should be manifested externally.3  And, since our relationship to God is wholly unique, this external manifestation or expression should be wholly unique.  Unique for unique.  Now the unique expression of the recognition of this unique relationship is, historically and universally, sacrifice.4  “Described in simple terms, sacrifice is the offering of a gift to God.  Man, the creature, instinctively realizes that when he comes formally into the presence of his Creator, he must bear with him a gift as the supreme token of his respect.  This gift is some material thing of value: it is a symbol of God’s supreme dominion over all things, especially over man, for whom it is substituted.  To signify its return to God’s exclusive possession, the gift is destroyed or altered in some way.”5  To put it another way, a sacrifice “is the offering to God of some sanctified object, made by a legitimate priest, who destroys or otherwise changes that object in acknowledgement of God’s supreme dominion over man.”6

It is natural for man, as he is a social creature by nature,7 to join with other men when undertaking things of great importance,8 including that of offering sacrifice to their common Creator Who has dominion over each and all.  But, in order to safeguard the expression of the unique relationship between each man and God, the unique action of sacrifice, when performed in common, must be surrounded by the other unique things – rites, “languages, vestments, vessels, places, and even persons.”9  Unique for unique.

Solomon Dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem by James Tissot or Followers (3 Kings 8)

It is important to note here, as a consequence, that religious services which more poorly express this required uniqueness, either with regards to sacrifice or the surrounding ceremonies, are naturally inferior to those which express this required uniqueness well.  Conversely, those which express this required uniqueness well are naturally superior to those which express it more poorly.  Additionally, since this required uniqueness springs from man’s relationship with God and from the requirements of man’s nature, religious ceremonies in which this required uniqueness is completely absent are contrary to human nature.

This required uniqueness in the worship of the Creator, which springs from human nature and each one’s relationship with the Divine, serves as an objective standard by which to evaluate religious services and, in particular, those in which sacrifice is offered.  As such, these requirements are eminently applicable to the Sacrifice of the New Law (The Holy Mass/Divine Liturgy/Holy Qurbana) and thus raise the discussion about different forms and celebrations of this Sacrifice above subjective tastes and preferences.  After all, Christianity, though it deals with the supernatural, does not deny human nature, but rather presumes human nature and perfects it,10 divine worship not excepted.

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


1 This article draws heavily from a course (The Natural Superior of Traditional Worship) given in 2018 by the International Society of Scholastics.

2 See S.T. I, q. 104, a.2.

3 See S.T. II-II, q. 84, a.2.

4 See S.T. II-II, q. 85.

5 Higgins, Thomas J. Man as Man – The Science and Art of Ethics. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1949, n. 342.

6 Ripley, Francis. This is the Faith. Rockford: Tan, 2002, p. 268.

7 See Aristotle. Politics, 1253a

8 See St. Thomas. De regno, I.1.

9 The Natural Superior of Traditional Worship, slides 17, 32.

10 See S.T. I, q. 1, a. 8, ad 2.

August 16, 2021