Friday, December 29, 2023


By Tim Rohr

For anyone still sweating over having to go to Mass this past Sunday Dec. 24 and Christmas Dec. 25 (two days in a row!) you can breath easy now that the Archdiocese of Agana has issued a statement "abrogating" Jan. 1 as a Holy Day of Obligation. 

The following was shared on the Facebook Page of the Umatuna:

Dec. 29, 2023
Message clarifying Holy Days
of Obligation and Solemnity
of Mary, the Holy Mother
of God on January 1, 2024


The joy of Jesus Christ, our Savior be with you all! The beautiful celebration of Jesus Christ and Christmas continue in our churches throughout the island. Many have asked if the upcoming commemoration of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God on Monday, January 1, 2024 is a Holy Day of Obligation.

To alleviate any confusion, our Apostolic Administrator, Father Romeo Convocar has asked the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission (ALC) to issue this clarification derived in part from Archdiocese of AgaƱa AVISO, Protocol No. 2023-53 issued on March 23 of 2023:

Per AOA Protocol No. 2023-053, because the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God falls on a Monday on this January 1, 2024, the Holy Day of Obligation is removed.

This is not to say that this beautiful Solemnity of Our Blessed Mother is not important. In fact, the Solemnity is still celebrated as we honor our dearest Mary, the Holy Mother of God. The Church always encourages the faithful to attend Mass whenever they can and to give honor to Mother Mary.

For those who prefer the more formal, precise language, here are the exact words of the March 23, 2023 AVISO, Protocol No. 2023-53:

NOTE: Whenever January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God; or August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption; or November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints; or March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation falls on a Saturday or a Monday, the precept of the Holy Day of Obligation is abrogated. However, the proper of the Solemnity/Feast is still celebrated. In this context, “abrogated” means removed.

Joy to the World, Our Savior is Born,

/s/Father Paul Gofigan

Chairman, Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission


For context there is this at The Catholic Thing:

The Next Three January 1’s

January 1, 2022 was a Saturday.  January 1, 2023 is a Sunday.  January 1, 2024 is a Monday.

Only one of those January 1’s will be a holy day of obligation – 2023 – and that’s only because it falls on Sunday.

The mishmash is a result of the “Complementary Norm” adopted by the United States Catholic Conference back in 1991 which abrogated the obligation for the holy days of January 1, August 15, and November 1 if they fell on a Saturday or a Monday.


Tuesday, December 26, 2023


By Tim Rohr

Okay. In the spirit of Pope Francis, I am going to "make a mess," and address this crazy stuff in a way I have not seen anyone else do. 

By "crazy stuff," I mean the pope's recent full frontal shot between the eyes of traditional Catholic orthodoxy, aka Fiducia supplicans: the pope's declaration authorizing public blessings of same-sex unions and so-called "irregular situations" of every kind.

It's easy to point fingers at what many call "the lavender lobby in the Vatican" and other homosexual stuff going on in the highest halls of power in the Catholic Church that many of us have been aware of for years, nay, decades. 

However, the real culprit is not the usual suspects: homosexuals and their supporters. The real culprit is sacramentally married men and women whose marriage is not "open to life." 

And beyond that, the "really real" culprit is the teachers and preachers within the Catholic Church who not only authorize, but also promote sexual sterility within a sacramental marriage. 

You may want to stop reading at this point, but I'll go on anyway.

I ain't making this up, so I'll quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church at this point.

 "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil..." (CCC 2370)

It is important to note that while the Catholic Church condemns every form of contraception as "intrinsically evil," it stops short of doing so when it comes to homosexual acts and instead labels said acts as only "intrinsically disordered:"

"homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" (CCC 2357)

There's a big difference between intrinsically evil and intrinsically disordered, and the Church's choice to distinguish the two is critical to anyone who cares, not just about the current controversy, but about the eternal destination of his or her soul.

Contraceptive acts between sacramentally married couples is EVIL (not just disordered) because the Sacrament of Matrimony confers on the man and woman the grace to conform to God's will which is to "accept children willingly and lovingly from God," which are the words each spouse is required to say "I do" to before God and men at the marriage ceremony. 

Homosexuals, specifically persons in a homosexual relationship, take no such vow and receive no such grace. Their sexual unions are naturally sterile which is why the Church labels them "disordered." 

However, sacramental marital unions between a man and a woman are not only not naturally sterile, but are ordered to procreation. Thus, the deliberate, intentional frustration of the natural consequence of the "marital act" is to spit in God's face because not only do we say "NO" to God, we say "I am God...We are God...We will decide when and where our act shall bear fruit."

This is why the Church labels contraceptive marital acts between sacramentally married persons "intrinsically evil" while pronouncing the much lighter sentence of "disordered" on homosexual acts. 

In His Mercy, God sees that persons who engage in homosexual acts do not have the same sacramental grace to resist such acts as do sacramentally married persons.

In short, persons who engage in homosexual acts are less mortally culpable than sacramentally married persons who engage in contraceptive sex.

As terrible as this all is, it is not really even the fault of sacramentally married couples. 

It is the fault of pastors who 1) sanction, promote, or otherwise turn a blind eye to contraception, or 2) sanction, promote, support, and teach a contraceptive mentality in their so-called "pre-Cana" classes, aka "marriage prep."

Here's what I mean.

Most Catholic "pre-Cana" classes include at least a module or two of how to "chart" fertility, aka Natural Family Planning. 

The short course is this: a sexually mature female is usually fertile for only about seven days of a 28 day "cycle." The idea is to identify the bodily markers before and after those 7 days and refrain from sexual intercourse to avoid pregnancy. 

This is taught to all Catholic couples preparing for marriage within usual diocesan prescriptions. 

Promoters of "NFP" like to counter that NFP can be used to "get pregnant" as well. And that is true. But no one is fooled. 

The real import of the NFP module is to teach couples how to avoid pregnancy "naturally." However, teaching couples about to be married flies in the face of the vow they will publicly pronounce at their wedding: "to accept children willingly and lovingly from God."

If a couple is not ready to "accept children willingly and lovingly from God" then they have no business getting married, at least not in a Catholic marriage.

Tying this back to the point of this post. 

If sexual intercourse is not ordered to procreation, whether it be frustrated by homosexual sex or contraceptive sex, then both acts are "disordered," with contraceptive sex between sacramentally married persons being "intrinsically evil," aka "mortal sin," i.e. you are eternally damned unless you repent and swear to "sin no more." 

There is much debate as to how many Catholic couples contracept. The accepted number is 90%. But we don't need a census to figure this out. We only need to look at the empty pews and the empty schools. 

Meanwhile, I am not going to end here. I am going to lay the blame on a pope. No, not Francis, but the already sainted Paul VI, and specifically his encyclical Humane Vitae (HV).

HV upheld traditional Church teaching regarding the evil of contraception, however, and this is a big HOWEVER, no defender of HV or Paul VI that I know of has ever pointed out that Paul VI, via HV, left contraception up to a vote. Here is what HV says in its opening:

...within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed (HV, Par. 6)

The "commission" is the Birth Control Commission, initially established by Pope John 23 and later expanded by Paul 6. John's commission consisted of 7 prelates, Paul's expansion jumped the number to 72 inclusive of a wide array of "lay experts."

And here's what happened:

The commission produced a report in 1966, proposing that artificial birth control was not intrinsically evil and that Catholic couples should be allowed to decide for themselves about the methods to be employed. This report was approved by 64 of the 69 members voting.

In other words, the vote was a staggering majority in favor of birth control. 

Paul 6 had few options. In fact, he only had one. He already knew he could never overturn God's plan for marriage, so he blamed it on the vote, saying that, umm, well, the vote was not unanimous ("complete agreement"). 

This is where the real mess started. So apparently all that's really needed to upend immutable moral doctrine is "complete agreement" (a unanimous vote) by some "commission" established on a papal whim. 


To conclude. Paul VI, like it or not, opened the door via HV for FS. If a pope, via a commission or a letter can upend God, then what?

The short answer is cling to Jesus. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023


I have written about this several times before. (Just type "Immaculate Conception" in the above search bar.) 

However, the issue, the same issue, a modern error, can - in my mind - never be stressed too much, since the error (I believe) is at the root of so much of what has lately gone wrong with our Church.  

Today, December 8 (or December 7 if you attended the Vigil Mass as I did) is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. 

And, in the first reading, you are supposed to hear the words from Scripture which are the very foundation of this Dogma. But you won't. 

Instead you heard, or will hear:

Then the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."

Prior to the Novus Ordo revolution (1969), you would have heard (in Latin):

et ait Dominus Deus ad serpentem quia fecisti hoc maledictus es inter omnia animantia et bestias terrae super pectus tuum gradieris et terram comedes cunctis diebus vitae tuae inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem et semen tuum et semen illius ipsa conteret caput tuum et tu insidiaberis calcaneo eius

[In English]

And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and the beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

I will set out the difference here:

After 1969:

...he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.

Before 1969:

...she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

In these few words there are some major differences

First, there is the obvious change from "she" to "he." And as this is the main point, I will come back to it. 

Next there is the difference between striking and crushing

Post 1969, Satan is "striking," thus apparently alive and well and obviously not "crushed." Pre-1969, Satan is "crushed," which of course is exactly the object of Christ's salvific mission.

Lastly there is the difference between "while you strike at his heel" and "thou shalt lie in wait for her heel." Ignoring the "he" and "she" for the moment, Satan, post-1969, is still powerful, and pre-1969 is already defeated and can do nothing but "lie in wait for her heel."

Before I get to the "he" vs "she" thing, it's important to understand what was going on in post-Vatican II 1969 and thereafter. 

Post-Vatican II - 1969

If Vatican II did anything, (and forgive the dumbed down version) it sort of said "can't we all get along?" to the rest of the world's non-Catholic religions, with the primary culprit being the 16th and last document of Vatican II, Dignitas Humanae, which, in effect, leveled all the world's religions to "I'm Okay, You're Okay" (the title of a book many of us were made to read in Catholic high school religion classes in the 70's). 

The idea was "let's celebrate our similarities and ignore our differences." 

Nice, but one of the BIGGEST Catholic differences with most non-Catholic Christian religions ("Protestants") was MARY, and just about everything the Church holds true about her. 

In short, what the Church holds true about Mary is too much to summarize here, so it's easier to summarize what Protestants believe: the Mother of Jesus was functionally a vaginal conduit for the Christ, and who may be acknowledged via quaint Christmas stable scenes (since that's hard to avoid), but who matters little before or thereafter. 

NOTE: For anyone who cares to read, and all determined Catholics should, the very best summary of what the Church holds true about Mary is the very promulgation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception as set forth by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, otherwise known as INEFFABILIS DEUS

As I was "around" the pre and post-Vatican II era, I very much remember the eradication of everything MARY from our parish church. 

As a young boy, I not only attended Sunday Mass with my parents, but, as an altar boy, served at least one weekday Mass per week.

As most Catholics my age will recall, in those days, there was a very prominent Crucifix with the Suffering Christ placed directly over the Tabernacle which was cemented at the center of the Altar upon which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was Offered...facing the Suffering Christ. 

To both sides of the main altar there were side altars. To the left there was an altar with St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus, and to the right, there was the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

The Mary altar was always very prominent because it was at this altar that Catholic brides knelt, prayed, and offered flowers at the end of their wedding Mass. But it was also a place where we spent at least a few minutes after every Mass thanking Mary for the gift of Her Son. 

It's just what we were taught to do...before 1969.

At the risk of sounding "old fashioned" and repetitive, I, everyday - as I grow older, grow ever more thankful to have been born when I was and where I was...even if it was at the bitter end of pre-V2 Catholicism.

And though my beautiful Catholic childhood was cut short by the aftershocks of Vatican II (some of which I detail here), I had enough "inculcation" of true Catholicity by then to last me a lifetime. 

Thank you Jesus and Mary...and the Benedictine nuns of that day -  before they joined the revolution.

On to the "he" vs. "she" thing

It should be obvious by now - which is why I shared the foregoing, that the real impetus to convert centuries of that first reading where "she" crushed Satan's head to "he" was motivated by the post-V2-ecumenical drive to rid the Church of MARY. 

BTW. I should add, that even though my parish church rid the main sanctuary of every image of Mary, the then-pastor (mid 1970's) spent many thousands of dollars to build a side chapel for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Apparently, the pastor - an old white guy - was fearful that the Mexican ladies would turn on him. LOL. 

That Mary crushes the head of Satan is the very center of the DOGMA of the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION. And how sad that on this day our modern "Catholic" Mass translation does not use the critical words from Scripture as affirmed in the Dogmatic Declaration of the Immaculate Conception.

Here's the whole paragraph. (See "Interpreters of Sacred Scripture")

The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart than to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in many wonderful ways the Virgin’s supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This they did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced his merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind — words by which he crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, “I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed”[13] — taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.

So what's the problem?

Why, on this day, can we not give Mary the praise and gratefulness that is her due? As the Woman of Genesis 3:15 who's heel CRUSHES the head of the SERPENT!

According to a local Friar, to whom I once pressed this question, the issue supposedly has to do with the translation of the Latin word "ipsa: ait Dominus Deus ad serpentem quia fecisti hoc maledictus es inter omnia animantia et bestias terrae super pectus tuum gradieris et terram comedes cunctis diebus vitae tuae inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem et semen tuum et semen illius ipsa conteret caput tuum et tu insidiaberis calcaneo eius

"Ipsa" is a Latin pronoun which can mean "himself," "herself" or "itself." 

Modernists, anxious to rid our Church of Mary,  pounced upon the supposedly uncertain meaning of "ipsa" and happily re-translated Genesis 3:15 to say "his" vs "her." 

However, modernists have a problem: history. 

For nearly 2000 years, just about every depiction of the Blessed Virgin Mary, be it on canvas, stone, mosaic, or whatever conceivable medium, the Mary of Genesis 3:15 is not only standing on a serpent...but CRUSHING its head. 

Of course it is Christ Jesus who ultimately crushes Satan's head and opens Heaven for us. But ultimately it is "through Mary to Jesus." 

God so ordained it. 

Thursday, November 09, 2023


"When I became sick, I was told that I only had a few months to live. I came home to see my son and I told him. When I saw the grief on his face, the grief in his eyes, I realized that, for him, to lose his mother was a profound loss, much more than I would have imagined. I didn’t hold my own life as precious as he held it. And in that moment of realization, of seeing that in him, I could physically feel all kind of cynicism and self-doubt lifted off my shoulders. I felt filled with God’s love for the first time in my life. And I felt completely at peace. I wouldn’t say that I’ve felt completely at peace ever since; life is not always easy, but I have strived to keep this inner peace through prayer. I’ve practiced self-reflections and examination in order to try to recognize when self-will is getting the best of me again. And I pray to be able to get on my knees, and it works. And then I move forward that way, just doing the next great thing. And that is a so much better way to live, that I’m now completely convinced of the faith. I’m convinced of the Bible; I’m convinced of God’s love which fills me up, right from my boots to the top of my head."


Wednesday, November 01, 2023


By Tim Rohr

Here is an interview with an African bishop after the end of the Synod on Synodality.

I personally found the report of the interview, as presented by Vatican correspondent, Edward Pentin, very interesting given that Pentin chose to end his report with the African bishop relating a reportedly African maxim in French:

Les chiens aboient, la caravane passe.

Translation: "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."

It struck a personal note with me because the same phrase was used by a motivational speaker (Charles Paul Conn) back in the day (more than 30 years ago) when I was a struggling entrepreneur and unaccustomed to rejection and the normal hardships of making a sale. 

For whatever reason, the phrase stuck with me; and while my entrepreneurial success is not the stuff of books, the image of dogs barking while the caravan moved on helped me overcome enough personal stuff to provide for a family of thirteen for the better part of thirty years. 

For readers needing a bit more explanation, the bishop himself sort of provides it:

Nobody is bothered about those things (challenges to defined doctrine). Christians understand their doctrine, the teaching of the Church, and they’re going on...We will get worried if the caravan stops. As long as the caravan does not stop, then the dogs bark.

This should be easy for us in Guam to understand. 

Dogs barking at our cars and nipping at our tires (if not our heels) is a common thing. But do we stop and try to educate the dog? Of course not. Even runners or walkers know not to pay attention to the dog, and if the dog insists on being a pest, to turn on it and it will usually go away. And we move on. We don't chase the dog or lecture its owner. 


Well, anyway, here's a few other things the African bishop said:

As a synod council member, … I understood, listening to the arguments, that this synod is not about change of doctrine. This synod is about journeying together, whatever journeying together means.

My Note: The bishop's quip: "whatever journeying together means" is significant because this "journeying" appears to be the object of the Synod...but journeying where? 

Whether we’re talking to 'LGBT' people or we’re talking to polygamists or we’re talking about ourselves, there must always be the call to conversion, conversion to the Gospel.

John Paul said “Enough,” Francis says “Talk,” but the important thing is that we are teaching what the Church says and we’re moving on. The Church remains. For me, this is a consolation.

In Africa, we understand marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and anything short of that is witchcraft. This is something we said very strongly. We cannot be talking about sensitivities and orientations within the Church setting when this is what the Gospel says. This is what the teaching of the Church has said all along and this is what various cultures believe.

...spiritual poverty is what is leading us a lot into material poverty.  

Sunday, October 29, 2023


Well, it appears the Synod on Synodality is over. And while the final session was a monthlong meeting (this month), the whole process took three years and caused a serious ruckus in the Catholic Church (the Church) from all sides. 

However, in the end, at least as the New York Times reports, Francis has "kicked the can down the road."

...progressives who had high hopes that the meeting would create real momentum for change said the final document had failed to move the institution at all. Before the meeting, a variety of sensitive topics were on the table, including the blessing of same-sex unions, reaching out to L.G.B.T.Q.+ Catholics and the possibility of allowing married men to become priests. Those basically vanished.

The only major issue which seemed to remain alive in the final document was the increased role of women in the workings of the Church, but even this is far short of what progressives were shouting for: a female diaconate. 

Instead, the document said that it was urgent for women to have more responsibilities and more say in the workings of the church. When it came to female deacons, though, it said more “theological and pastoral” study was necessary. It suggested that the work of two commissions created by Francis to study the female diaconate be re-examined and the results be presented when the assembly reconvenes next year — “if possible.”

After all the huffing and puffing over the last three years wherein it very much appeared that Pope Francis intended to radically change the very structure of the Church from a monarchal hierarchy (the Kingdom of God) to a "can't we all get along" democracy, Francis pulled the ultimate head-fake.

Fr. James Martin, S.J., the hero of the LGBTQ's who played a major role at the Synod, said it best in saying (in the NY Times article): “I am disappointed, but I’m not surprised.”

Martin is a very smart man. And I suspect he is not surprised for the same reason I am not surprised: Pope Francis, in fact no pope, has the authority to change even the dot on an "i" on matters of defined faith and morals. 

The Synod and the 1960's Birth Control Commission

The whole thing reminds me of a similar scenario played out by Popes John 23 and Paul 6 in the 1960's with their Birth Control Commission. (See here for a more thorough account.)

On Birth Control, the Church's teaching is ancient and clear: NO! 

However, in the 1960's John 23 instituted a commission to look into the matter to see whether or not Catholics might be permitted to contracept with this new thing called "The Pill." John died about a year later and then Paul really did the damage. 

Here's what I mean.

John's original commission consisted of seven clerics - who could pretty much be counted on to say "yah, we looked at it, but no."

When Paul inherited the commission upon John's death, Paul expanded the commission to 72 members and included many lay persons. 

The expansion of the commission, both in numbers and the inclusion of lay persons, was enough to incite all who heard of this to believe that Paul was gearing up to permit chemical contraception (The Pill). 

However, what really got the clergy going in that direction was what Paul said upon his expansion of the commission:

"We say frankly that so far we do not have sufficient reason to consider the norms given by Pope Pius XII on this matter [of contraception] as out of date and therefore as not binding. They must be considered as valid, at least until We feel obliged in conscience to change them."Paul VI Acta apostolicae sedis (AAS) 56 (1964) 588-59, 1964 address to the special papal commission on the use of contraceptives.

As the foregoing is pope-speak, I highlighted the key words. 

First whenever a pope uses "We," he is speaking magisterially for the whole Church. Had he said "I..," things might have been quite different. But he didn't. He said "We." He then uses "We" again when his says "until We feel change them." 

In short, Paul 6 was stating very clearly that he had the authority to change the Church's ancient teaching on contraception, and that he only needed to "feel obliged" to change it. 

An electrifying thrill

As every other major Christian denomination had already permitted contraception (beginning with the Anglican Church in 1930), Paul's announcement sent an electrifying thrill through the Catholic population already caught in the throws of the sexual revolution of the 1960's; and Catholic prelates and clerics everywhere - but especially in the U.S and Europe - began (quietly) counseling Catholic couples that it was okay to contracept because the Church was going to change its teaching soon. 

If anything could cause Paul to "feel obliged" to change Church teaching on contraception, it would be the final vote of the Birth Control Commission he expanded and shepherded; and in 1966, two years after Paul took the reins, his commission voted 65-7...IN FAVOR of lifting the Church's ban on contraception. 

Back to Francis and his Synod

And this brings us back to Francis and what will become his infamous "Synod." 

Paul knew he had no authority to change the Church's teaching on birth control the same as Francis knew he had no authority to bless same-sex unions, ordain women, or many of the other things his Synod proposed to do. 

In the end, Paul took the only way out when he penned Humanae Vitae - which upheld constant Church teaching against contraception. 

HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, Paul manufactured a reason for doing so that was never part of the equation. 

Instead of simply reaffirming perennial Church teaching on the matter, Paul claimed that he could not change the teaching because the vote of the commission wasn't unanimous:

However, the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement... (Humanae Vitae, Par. 6)

Thus Paul left the door open to change Church teaching on contraception to a vote - a unanimous vote - when in fact no vote, and no pope, can ever change it.

One might say that the whole idea of a vote on something as deeply doctrinal as the Church's perennial teaching on contraception was the first precursor to the whole idea of "synodality" wherein everything, from the definition of the Trinity to the Real Presence, would come down to a vote. 

Many Catholics lionize Paul 6 for his stance against contraception in Humane Vitae - and indeed Francis canonized him - but the fact is that it was Paul's own words - demonstrated above - which lie at the root of why most Catholic couples still contracept today. 

So if Paul knew that he could NEVER change Church teaching on contraception and Francis knew that he could never ordain women and bless same-sex unions (etc.), why did these guys go through these years-long exercises only to - as the New York Times says - "kick the can down the road" - which is what they both did?

Well, because. 

Because, both men are "children" of their age. And that age began in the 1960's when "caring," or appearing to care, became more important than truth. 

Paul 6 probably was really not expecting his commission to vote as it did, so he probably felt safe in saying what he said. But when the commission did not vote per his expectation, Paul probably had one helluva night with the Holy Spirit beating him about his room. 

In other words, Paul, the very Vicar of Christ on Earth, KNEW he was in serious trouble - so he dashed off Humane Vitae, never wrote another Encyclical, and essentially went into hiding until he died about a decade later, lamenting to the end "the smoke of Satan" that he had let into the Church - though he never blamed himself.

Francis, probably the last pope who is a child of the 60's, seems to have wanted to do the same - in the sense of showing that he "cared" aka "I feel your pain." 

But Francis isn't stupid. He knows he is not far from death's door and that eternity is a very long time. And, like Paul, he also knows that not only does he not have any authority to change Church moral teaching, he also knows that "the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops." (Attributed to both St. Athanasius and St. John Crysostom)


The 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to the Norwegian author and playwright, Jon Fosse. 

I had never heard of him until I came across a story about his conversion from atheism to Catholicism and how he was converted by his own writing.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


"We believe that Bishop Dave has received his recompense for his life and his ministry...We know that he is in heaven. Let us ask for his intercession..." 

- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, at a novena for the recently murdered Bishop David O'Connell, quoted in Angelus, the official publication for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Mar. 10, 2023, Vol. 8 No. 5 (and also here on CNA). 

I didn't know that an individual bishop could canonize another one, all by himself. 

He can't of course. 

It appears that Archbishop Gomez has fallen victim to the mostly post-Vatican II penchant to place loved ones in heaven...and immediately. 

While that may make us feel better - which is what Archbishop Gomez may have been trying to do - it is probably the most uncharitable thing one (a Catholic) can do. 

As Catholics we believe the following:

Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see him as he is," face to face. - Catechism of the Catholic Church, Par. 1023

The key words are "perfectly purified," and only God can know that. 

In fact the command to "judge not" (Mt. 7:1) goes both ways. 

While we "use" the command to "judge not" mostly (and often wrongly) [1] to admonish others not to judge the sinfulness of others, we are also not to use it to judge the rightfulness of others - such as placing the dearly departed in heaven because he or she was a really good person, or we because we really liked him or her, or because we just really want to feel better. 

Other than canonized saints - which is an act of authority to "bind and loose" possessed only and ultimately by the Successor of Peter - no one can say what Archbishop Gomez said...about anybody. 

In fact, given what we Catholics believe about the Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell), by believing or "placing" a departed soul in heaven, we may be uncharitably condemning that soul to a much longer term in Purgatory. [2]

Curiously, the Angelus article titled "Mourning a peacemaker," featured a picture of a crowd gathered in the parking lot of a local church on the second night of a novena organized by members of the Knights of Columbus "to pray for the repose of O'Connell's soul..." 

The picture includes Archbishop Gomez, rosary in hand. 

There is no point in praying for the repose of O'Connell's soul if, as Archbishop Gomez declares, O'Connell is already in heaven and we are to pray to him for his intercession. 

Just more confusion in the name of "charity." 

What a shame. 


[1] While we can, and must, judge acts as to their sinfulness or rightfulness, we are not to judge "hearts" as "the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ) 

[2] See: "Greater than Any Pain of this Life: The Hard Truth About Purgatory" at

Thursday, February 23, 2023


I believe it was Ash Wednesday, 1983. 

I was living and teaching in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and was living through a particularly challenging time. 

So Ash Wednesday, that year, had a more than normal personal meaning to me. 

In those days I used to ride my bike to and from my job at a local Catholic high school, about a 7 mile ride each way. 

That afternoon, which was particularly hot, and which was in what we call the "dry season" in the tropics, I saw smoke rising in the direction towards which I was pedaling home. 

As I came down the hill which sloped toward the beach near my home, I saw that the entire area around the place where I and a friend lived had been burnt black. 

There was about a hundred yards between the paved road and my home that was a dirt road. 

I slowly pedaled down the dirt road while the smoke rose from the burnt black tangan-tangan "fields" on both sides. 

It was hot, smoky, and dead. As close to a reminder of Hell as I wanted to get. 

Today, my former home is still pretty much surrounded by Tangan-Tangan fields. And every time I visit I remember that Ash Wednesday, when, like my life at that point, everything around me had been burned to a smoking ruin. 

However, thank you Jesus, He raised me from both the ashes on my forehead and the ashes surrounding my life and home. 

It was a good lesson as there would be more fields of ashes to navigate as I grew we all do. 

Keep the faith.

Sunday, February 12, 2023


I was struggling to title this post - which might become a series. 

So I think I'll call it "stuff that bothers me," though at this point in my life, I am willing to just put up with it and keep my head down. 

The latest thing to jump out at me is the way lay "readers" read at the Mass. 

I'm not sure if they're told to do this or they just like to do it, but they portend to be public speakers instead of readers. 

I say this because these "readers" feel they must look up from the reading and directly look at the congregation at the end of each sentence - or close to it. 

It is not the reader who is "proclaiming" - but the Word of God that is being proclaimed. 

In fact, the reader who looks up from the reading and attempts to directly engage the congregation by looking at us distracts from the Word of God and makes him or herself the focus. 

Just read the Word of God and sit down. 

In fact, it would do all of us well to revisit the venerable Catholic practice of CUSTODY OF THE EYES.

Sunday, December 11, 2022


SOME THOUGHTS on the Baker Mayfield 98 yard drive with two minutes to go and no time outs after joining the Rams less than 2 days earlier. 


Much is being made about this. And much should be made about this. It was a great lesson on many levels - and for me, a great reminder of great lessons that I have repeatedly learned the hard way. 

The first is “it isn’t over until it’s over.” For the Raiders, the game ended when their punt miraculously stayed in bounds as it rolled to the Rams 2 yard line. They were jumping around and hugging each other as if they had just won the game. And apparently in their minds, they did.  

The second is “never give up.” And the Rams didn’t. And I would speculate that the real reason they didn’t give up was not because of any great ideal or pep talk from the coach. The Rams, last year’s Super Bowl champions, had lost 6 straight games and had lost most of their star players to injuries. I think at this point they were thinking “well, we tried.” 

But that night they had a new guy on their team who couldn’t afford to lose, who couldn’t afford to say “well, I tried.” And that was Baker Mayfield. 

Mayfield had been a highly touted #1 draft pick in 2018. But by Thursday night, he was on his third team in 4 years, and like a lot of #1’s before him, appeared to be headed towards early retirement, lost promise, and obscurity. 

In fact, after being placed on waivers by the Panthers, his second team, only the Rams showed interest, and they only showed interest because their whole roster of QB’s had been injured or otherwise proved ineffective, and they basically had no one. 

This brings us to the third lesson, which is rooted in the second (never give up) and that is “sometimes the stars align.” It’s sort of the opposite of “when it rains it pours,” or “when it’s bad it’s really bad, and when it’s good, it’s really good.” 

I learned this especially in business. There are days (weeks and months) when no matter what you do everything goes wrong. And there are days (weeks and months) when you do nothing different or special and everything goes right. I could write a book about this, but for now, the real lesson is “just stay in the game,” and stay long enough to “catch the wave.” 

I think the Rams, as a team, had given up when that punt rolled down to the 2. One could see it on the coach’s face. He wasn’t rallying his troops. His facial attitude was “we just got to get through this season.” And you could see it again on his face a few minutes later when the impossible happened: total shock and surprise. 

Meanwhile, there was one man on the team who couldn’t afford to “just get through this season.” Baker Mayfield knew he had one chance, one chance to live up to his previous promise, and this was it. Talk about a guy falling from grace. From a 2018 #1 pick to a washed up quarterback 4 years later who was placed on waivers and the only team that picked him up was a team that had lost all its quarterbacks and was just trying to limp home. 

In fact, I think they let Baker play that night, even though he hadn’t had time to hardly open up the Ram’s playbook, let alone know it, because the Rams, at that point, had nothing to lose. Their season was over. So it was a sort of “why not.” 

It’s not that Mayfield did anything spectacular in that final 98 yard drive with no time outs to win the game. He was even intercepted on his second play of the final drive - but saved by a penalty on the other team. And then saved again when an impetuous Raider did something stupid which gave the Rams 15 yards they very much needed. But Mayfield needed to win, and needed to win much more than rest of his team. 

And that’s why “the stars aligned.” When you are down and out with nowhere to go and the only direction you can look is up because you are flat on your back, that’s when you choose to get up or get lost. Baker chose to get up. And in so choosing, “the stars aligned.” 

Lots of success books are full of this stuff. They speak of this “law of success” or “law of attraction,” or stuff like that. But there is no magic formula. Someone still has to make a decision, and beyond that, “stay in the game” long enough for “the stars to align.” i.e. go through the valley of death, this “vale of tears” (as the Salve Regina puts it), in other words “be willing to suffer.” 

The real lesson though is to know that your good fortune, when you win - as Baker and the Rams did Thursday night, is to know that you won, not because the stars magically aligned, but because you stayed in the game long enough for them to do so. And that you will do it the next time when everything is dark and going wrong…again. 

As Winston Churchill once said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  

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