Monthly Archives: February 2015

Meditations for Each Day of Lent by Saint Thomas Aquinas – Saturday After First Sunday of Lent

28 February 2015

28 February 2015 Anno Domini
Ember Saturday in Lent

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Santi de Tito 1593

by St. Thomas Aquinas

Saturday After First Sunday of Lent

The Love of God Shown in the Passion of Christ

God commendeth His charity towards us: because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time, Christ died for us.–Rom. v. 8, 9

1. Christ died for the ungodly(ibid. 6). This is a great thing if we consider who it is that died, a great thing also if we consider on whose behalf he died. For scarce for a just man, will one die (ibid. 6), that is to say, that you will hardly find anyone who will die even to set free a man who is innocent, nay even it is said, The just perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart (Isaias lvii).

Rightly therefore does St. Paul say scarce will one die. There might perhaps be found one, some one rare person who out of superabundance of courage would be so bold as to die for a good man. But this is rare, for the simple reason that so to act is the greatest of all things. Greater love than this no man hath, says Our Lord himself, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John xv. 13).

But the like of what Christ did himself, to die for evildoers and the wicked, has never been seen. Wherefore rightly do we ask in wonderment why Christ did it.

2. If in fact it be asked why Christ died for the wicked, the answer is that God in this way commendeth His charity towards us. He shows us in this way that He loves us with a love that knows no limits, for while we were as yet sinners Christ died for us.

The very death of Christ for us shows the love of God, for it was His son whom He gave to die that satisfaction might be made for us. God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son (John iii. 16). And thus as the love of God the Father for us is shown in his giving us His Holy Spirit, so also is it shown in this way, by his gift of his only Son.

The Apostle says God commendeth signifying thereby that the love of God is a thing which cannot be measured. This is shown by the very fact of the matter, namely the fact that He gave His Son to die for us, and it is shown also by reason of the kind of people we are for whom He died. Christ was not stirred up to die for us by any merits of ours, when as yet we were sinners. God (who is rich in mercy) for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ (Eph. ii. 4).

3. All these things are almost too much to be believed. A work is done in your days, which no man will believe when it shall be told (Habac. i. 5). This truth that Christ died for us is so hard a truth that scarcely can our intelligence take hold of it. Nay it is a truth that our intelligence could in no way discover. And St. Paul, preaching, makes echo to Habacuc, I work a work in your days, a work which you will not believe, if any man shall tell it to you (Acts xiii 14).

So great is God’s love for us and His grace towards us, that He does more for us than we can believe or understand.

A Big Fat Thank You to Benedict XVI: It’s a Rave, Baby!

28 February 2015

Latin Mass pic

Pope Benedict XVI Visits Freiburg


Holy Father Benedict: You will always be with us! More now than ever…

Ok, so what could the raving Trad Sofia say that could better than this video??? Not a thing! For real… I’m keeping my mouth shut on this one for a change and letting this terrific video say it all.The maker of this video, posted on You Tube is RomanCatholic01

Motu Proprio Deo Gratias! from: July 7,2007 and his message was then: A thank you to His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and a reflection of the past 40 years in the desert of liturgical abuses. Our liberation is at hand. Long live Benedict!

Thank you to RomanCatholic01…couldn’t have said it better…Hey the rest of you! Wake up and smell the incense, LOL!

Seven and a half years ago there was a celebration to beat all celebrations at my forner  (and most favorite) parish, Mater Ecclesiae, Berlin, NJ. Father Robert C. Pasley, our Pastor and Rector, had told me the previous October when I called him with the news,(found out from the ticker on Fox News of all places) that if it did happen, he promised we would party away. Well, he kept his promise and on July 7, 2007 Mater Ecclesiae had a Solemn High Mass according to the newly named “Extraordinary Form”. The Church was packed with priests, seminarians and lots of laypeople (mostly young) ready to praise God in His glory for this miracle. Forty years wandering through the desert we made sure the Te Deum was chanted in perfect style as a thanksgiving for a job well done.

The champagne, sparkling cider, cigars, cake and goodies were brought out after Mass and many a cassock was to be seen kicking up its heels. What a day!! Well, we are growing stronger week by week at Mater Ecclesiae. It is truly a 21st century Parish with a timeless liturgy…just what our Holy Father wants. Sooooo, if you are near Philly or come to the Jersey Shore, please drop in and visit a “model Parish with a model Pastor”.

Check out: Welcome one and all..oh by the way, we are the real thing at M.E. ;) AMDG, Sofia PS. As Father Pasley says, “The Pope’s (Benedict XVI) right! IT IS EXTRAORDINARY”, but then we knew that…I’m just sayin’…

Meditations for Each Day of Lent by Saint Thomas Aquinas – Friday After First Sunday of Lent

27 February 2015

27 February 2015 Anno Domini
Ember Friday in Lent

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Santi de Tito 1593

by St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday After First Sunday of Lent

The Feast of the Holy Lance and the Nails of Our Lord

One of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there came out blood and water.–John xix. 34.

1. The Gospel deliberately says opened and not wounded, because through Our Lord’s side there was opened to us the gate of eternal life. After these things I looked, and behold a gate was opened in heaven (Apoc. iv. i). This is the door opened in the ark, through which enter the animals who will not perish in the flood.

2. But this door is the cause of our salvation. Immediately there came forth blood and water a thing truly miraculous, that, from a dead body, in which the blood congeals, blood should come forth.

This was done to show that by the Passion of Christ we receive a full absolution, an absolution from every sin and every stain. We receive this absolution from sin through that blood which is the price of our redemption. You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation with the tradition of your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled (i Pet. i. 18).

We were absolved from every stain by the water, which is the laver of our redemption. In the prophet Ezechiel it is said, I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleaned from all your filthiness (Ezech. xxxvi. 28), and in Zacharias, There shall be a fountain open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for the washing of the sinner and the unclean woman (Zach. xiii. i).

And so these two things may be thought of in relation to two of the sacraments, the water to baptism and the blood to the Holy Eucharist. Or both may be referred to the Holy Eucharist since, in the Mass, water is mixed with the wine. Although the water is not of the substance of the sacrament.

Again, as from the side of Christ asleep in death on the cross there flowed that blood and water in which the Church is consecrated, so from the side of the sleeping Adam was formed the first woman, who herself foreshadowed the Church.

From Our Lenten Recipe Box for Fridays – Falafel Pita Sandwiches

26 February 2015

Every Thursday during Lent we will be publishing a meatless recipe to help with your Lenten abstinence.

falafel 8

Recipe and Photography by Archita Patel
Makes 14-15 falafels

Dried Chickpeas (a.k.a. Dried Garbanzo beans) – 1cup
Onion – ½ of a medium, roughly diced
Garlic Cloves – 4-5 medium, roughly chopped
Flat leaf Parsley – ¼ cup, packed
Mint – 2 Tbsp, packed
Cilantro/Corriander leaves – 2 Tbsp packed
Corriander powder – 1 ¼ tsp
Roasted Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Red Chili flakes – ½ tsp or else Cayenne powder – ¼ tsp – don’t use if do not desire a little spicy
Black Pepper – ¼ tsp
Salt – ½ Tbsp
Baking powder – ½ tsp

Previous Night: Cover the chickpeas with hot tap water and soak them for 12-24 hours. Remember to use a large enough container because the chickpeas will increase in size.

falafel 14Next Day:
1. Rinse the soaked chickpeas/garbanzo beans and set them aside to drain.
2. Use a food processor to coarsely grind the chickpeas, onion, garlic, herbs, spices, salt and baking powder. You can add a small amount of water to help the blade move along. If you have a small food processor, do it in batches. All the ingredients should be well incorporated, turning them into breadcrumb consistency don’t make it into a paste. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour so that it can firm up
3. Later, form 1 inch balls. Place them on a large sheet and refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. In the mean time, line a plate with paper towel and set aside. Also, start heating the oil to 350ºF. The oil should be about an inch to inch and a half deep. You want to make sure that when you fry the falafels they completely submerge in the oil.
4. Gently fry the falafels, until they are golden brown on all sides 3-5 minutes. Place them on the paper towel.
5. You can either make a salad or a pita sandwich. I generally stuff them into pita pockets with lettuce, tomato, onions, hummus and cucumber yogurt sauce.

Meditations for Each Day of Lent by Saint Thomas Aquinas – Thursday After First Sunday of Lent

26 February 2015

26 February 2015 Anno Domini

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Santi de Tito 1593

by St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday After First Sunday of Lent

Christ was crucified between the thieves because such was the will of the Jews, and also because this was part of God’s design. But the reasons why this was appointed were not the same in each of these cases.

1. As far as the Jews were concerned Our Lord was crucified with the thieves on either side to encourage the suspicion that he too was a criminal. But it fell out otherwise. The thieves themselves have left not a trace in the remembrance of man, while His cross is everywhere held in honour. Kings laying aside their crowns have broidered the cross on their royal robes. They have placed it on their crowns; on their arms. It has its place on the very altars. Everywhere, throughout the world, we behold the splendour of the cross.

In God’s plan Christ was crucified with the thieves in order that, as for our sakes he became accursed of the cross, so, for our salvation, He is crucified like an evil thing among evil things.

2. The Pope, St. Leo the Great, says that the thieves were crucified, one on either side of Him, so that in the very appearance of the scene of His suffering there might be set forth that distinction which should be made in the judgment of each one of us. St. Augustine has the same thought. “The cross itself,” he says, ” was a tribunal. In the centre was the judge. To the one side a man who believed and was set free, to the other side a scoffer and he was condemned.” Already there was made clear the final fate of the living and the dead, the one class placed at His right, the other on His left.

3. According to St. Hilary the two thieves, placed to right and to left, typify that the whole of mankind is called to the mystery of Our Lord’s Passion. And since division of things according to right and left is made with reference to believers and those who will not believe, one of the two, placed on the right, is saved by justifying faith.

4. As St. Bede says, the thieves who were crucified with Our Lord, represent those who for the faith and to confess Christ undergo the agony of martyrdom or the severe discipline of a more perfect life. Those who do this for the sake of eternal glory are typified by the thief on the right hand. Those whose motive is the admiration of whoever beholds them imitate the spirit and the act of the thief on the left-hand side.

As Christ owed no debt in payment for which a man must die, but submitted to death of His own will, in order to overcome death, so also He had not done anything on account of which He deserved to be put with the thieves. But of His own will He chose to be reckoned among the wicked, that by His power He might destroy wickedness itself. Which is why St. John Chrysostom says that to convert the thief on the cross and to turn him to Paradise was as great a miracle as the earthquake.

Meditations for Each Day of Lent by Saint Thomas Aquinas – Wednesday After First Sunday of Lent

25 February 2015

25 February 2015 Anno Domini
Ember Wednesday in Lent

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas by Santi de Tito 1593

by St. Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday After First Sunday of Lent

How Great was the Sorrow of Our Lord in His Passion?

Attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow. Lam. i. 12.

Our Lord as He suffered felt really, and in His senses, that pain which is caused by some harmful bodily thing. He also felt that interior pain which is caused by the fear of something harmful and which we call sadness. In both these respects the pain suffered by Our Lord was the greatest pain possible in this present life. There are four reasons why this was so.

1. The causes of the pain.

The cause of the pain in the senses was the breaking up of the body, a pain whose bitterness derived partly from the fact that the sufferings attacked every part of His body, and partly from the fact that of all species of torture death by crucifixion is undoubtedly the most bitter. The nails are driven through the most sensitive of all places, the hands and the feet, the weight of the body itself increases the pain every moment. Add to this the long drawn-out agony, for the crucified do not die immediately as do those who are beheaded.

The cause of the internal pain was:

(i) All the sins of all mankind for which, by suffering, He was making satisfaction, so that, in a sense, He took them to Him as though they were His own. The words of my sins, it says in the Psalms (Ps. xxi. 2).

(ii) The special case of the Jews and the others who had had a share in the sin of His death, and especially the case of His disciples for whom His death had been a thing to be ashamed of.

(iii) The loss of his bodily life, which, by the nature of things, is something from which human nature turns away in horror.

2. We may consider the greatness of the pain according to the capacity, bodily and spiritual, for suffering of Him who suffered. In His body He was most admirably formed, for it was formed by the miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost, and therefore its sense of touch that sense through which we experience pain was of the keenest. His soul likewise, from its interior powers, had a knowledge as from experience of all the causes of sorrow.

3. The greatness of Our Lord’s suffering can be considered in regard to this that the pain and sadness were without any alleviation. For in the case of no matter what other sufferer the sadness of mind, and even the bodily pain, is lessened through a certain kind of reasoning, by means of which there is brought about a distraction of the sorrow from the higher powers to the lower. But when Our Lord suffered this did not happen, for He allowed each of His powers to act and suffer to the fullness of its special capacity.

4. We may consider the greatness of the suffering of Christ in the Passion in relation to this fact that the Passion and the pain it brought with it were deliberately undertaken by Christ with the object of freeing man from sin. And therefore He undertook to suffer an amount of pain proportionately equal to the extent of the fruit that was to follow from the Passion.

From all these causes, if we consider them together, it will be evident that the pain suffered by Christ was the greatest pain ever suffered.

Another Reason to Love Being Roman Catholic: Ember Days in Lent

24 February 2015

Ember Days

Posted by Sofia Guerra

February 25, 27, and 28 (the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the First Sunday in Lent)
and the days are marked by fasting, abstinence, prayer and Masses particular for the day.

Note: Fasting and Abstinence:

The Ember Days are celebrated with fasting (no food between meals) and half-abstinence, meaning that meat is allowed at one meal per day. (If you observe the traditional Friday abstinence from meat, then you would observe complete abstinence on an Ember Friday.)

As always, such fasting and abstinence has a greater purpose. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes,

through these activities, and through prayer, we use the Ember Days to “thank God for the gifts of nature, . . . teach men to make use of them in moderation, and . . . assist the needy.”

With the revision of the liturgical calendar in 1969, the Vatican left the celebration of Ember Days up to the discretion of each national conference of bishops. They’re commonly celebrated in Europe, particularly in rural areas.

In the United States, the bishops’ conference has decided not to celebrate them, but individual Catholics can and many traditional Catholics still do… ( Catholicism)

Since Ember Days were mandatory from the days of Pre-Vatican II, but are now finally seeing a resurgence, (Deo Gratias ) we must state that this is NOT MANDATORY according to the new guidelines but all reprinted here is from the Traditional Calendar of the 1962 Missal. We, however, are still scratching our heads at ACBlog as to the “wisdom” behind the decision to leave these practices up to the local Bishops Conferences. We’re just sayin’…

From yet another great Traditional Blog, “Salve Regina” we have the Rules for Fasting from the Traditional Calendar…

Pre Vatican II Fasting Guidelines

I often see people asking about the pre Vatican II fasting guidelines on discussion forums. From the New Marian Missal, published by Angelus Press, here they are for the US:

“Abstinence: All Catholics seven years and older are obliged to observe the Law of Abstinence.
On days of complete abstinence flesh meat, soup or gravy made from meat are not permitted at all. On days of partial abstinence flesh meat, soup or gravy made from meat ar permitted once a day at the principal meal.

Complete abstinence is to be observed on all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday, Vigils of the Immaculate Conception and Christmas, and on Holy Saturday. Partial abstinence is to be observed on Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays, and on the Vigil of Pentecost.

Fasting: All Catholics from the completion of their twenty-first year to the beginning of their sixtieth year are bound to observe the Law of fast. The days of fast are the weekdays of Lent, Ember Days, the Vigils of Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, Christmas. Only one full meal is allowed on a day of Fast. Two other meatless meals are permitted. These meals should be sufficient to maintain strength in accordance with each one’s needs. Both of these meals, or collations, together, should not equal one full meal.

It is permissible to eat meat at the principle meal on a Fast Day except on Fridays, Ash Wednesday, and the Vigils of Immaculate Conception, Christmas, and Holy Saturday.

Solid foods between meals is not permitted. Liquids, including coffee, tea, milk and fruit juices are allowed.

In connection with problems arising from the Laws of Fast and Abstinence, a confessor or priest should be consulted. Dispensations may be granted for a serious reason concerning health or the ability to work.”

Thanks to Salve Regina

Now, as to the why of Ember Days…

The post that follows is an extraordinary piece from Rorate Caeli from 2008.

This piece will make you LOVE being Catholic and will always celebrate Ember Days after this, right?

By Michael P. Foley

A potential danger of traditionalism is the stubborn defense of something about which one knows little. I once asked a priest who had just finished beautifully celebrating an Ember Saturday Mass about the meaning of the Ember days. He replied (with an impish twinkle in his eye) that he hadn’t a clue, but he was furious they had been suppressed.

Traditionalists, however, are not entirely to blame for their unfamiliarity with this important part of their patrimony. Most only have the privilege of assisting at a Sunday Tridentine Mass, and hence the Ember days—which occur on a weekday or Saturday—slip by unnoticed. And long before the opening session of the Second Vatican Council, the popularity of these observances had atrophied.

So why care about them now? To answer this question, we must first determine what they are.

The Four Seasons

The Ember days, which fall on a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the same week, occur in conjunction with the four natural seasons of the year. Autumn brings the September Embertide, also called the Michaelmas Embertide because of their proximity to the Feast of St. Michael on September 29.1 Winter, on the other hand, brings the December Embertide during the third week of Advent, and spring brings the Lenten Embertide after the first Sunday of Lent. Finally, summer heralds the Whitsun Embertide, which takes place within the Octave of Pentecost.

In the 1962 Missal the Ember days are ranked as ferias of the second class, weekdays of special importance that even supersede certain saints’ feasts. Each day has its own proper Mass, all of which are quite old. One proof of their antiquity is that they are one of the few days in the Gregorian rite (as the ’62 Missal is now being called) which has as many as five lessons from the Old Testament in addition to the Epistle reading, an ancient arrangement indeed.

Fasting and partial abstinence during the Ember days were also enjoined on the faithful from time immemorial until the 1960s. It is the association of fasting and penance with the Embertides that led some to think that their peculiar name has something to do with smoldering ash, or embers. But the English name is probably derived from their Latin title, the Quatuor Tempora or “Four Seasons.”2

Apostolic and Universal

The history of the Ember days brings us to the very origins of Christianity. The Old Testament prescribes a fourfold fast as part of its ongoing consecration of the year to God (Zech. 8:19). In addition to these seasonal observances, pious Jews in Palestine at the time of Jesus fasted every Monday and Thursday—hence the Pharisee’s boast about fasting twice weekly in the parable involving him and the publican (Lk. 18:12).

Early Christians amended both of these customs. The Didache, a work so old that it may actually predate some books of the New Testament, tells us that Palestinian Christians in the first century A.D. fasted every Wednesday and Friday: Wednesday because it is the day that Christ was betrayed and Friday because it is the day He was crucified.3 The Wednesday and Friday fast were so much a part of Christian life that in Gaelic one word for Thursday, Didaoirn, literally means “the day between the fasts.”

In the third century, Christians in Rome began to designate some of these days for seasonal prayer, partly in imitation of the Hebrew custom and partly in response to pagan festivals occurring around the same time.4 Thus, the Ember days were born. And after the weekly fast became less prevalent, it was the Ember days which remained as a conspicuous testimony to a custom stretching back to the Apostles themselves.5 Moreover, by modifying the two Jewish fasts, the Ember days embody Christ’s statement that He came not to abolish the Law but fulfill it (Mt. 5:17).6

Usefully Natural

This fulfillment of the Law is crucial because it teaches us something fundamental about God, His redemptive plan for us, and the nature of the universe. In the case of both the Hebrew seasonal fasts and the Christian Ember days, we are invited to consider the wonder of the natural seasons and their relation to their Creator. The four seasons, for example, can be said to intimate individually the bliss of Heaven, where there is “the beauty of spring, the brightness of summer, the plenty of autumn, the rest of winter.”7

This is significant, for the Ember days are the only time in the Church calendar where nature qua nature is singled out and acknowledged. Certainly the liturgical year as a whole presupposes nature’s annual rhythm (Easter coincides with the vernal equinox, Christmas with the winter solstice, etc.), yet here we celebrate not the natural phenomena per se but the supernatural mysteries which they evoke. The Rogation days commemorate nature, but mostly in light of its agricultural significance (that is, vis-à-vis its cultivation by man), not on its own terms, so to speak.8

The Ember days, then, stand out as the only days in the supernatural seasons of the Church that commemorate the natural seasons of the earth. This is appropriate, for since the liturgical year annually renews our initiation into the mystery of redemption, it should have some special mention of the very thing which grace perfects.

Uniquely Roman

But what about Saturday? The Roman appropriation of the weekly fast involved adding Saturday as an extension of the Friday fast. And during Embertide, a special Mass and procession to St. Peter’s was held, with the congregation being invited to “keep vigil with Peter.” Saturday is an appropriate day not only for a vigil, but as a day of penance, when our Lord “lay in the sepulchre, and the Apostles were sore of heart and in great sorrow.”9 It is this Roman custom, incidentally, which gave rise to the proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” According to the story, when Sts. Augustine and Monica asked St. Ambrose of Milan whether they should follow the weekly fasts of either Rome or of Milan (which did not include Saturdays), Ambrose replied: “When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday; when I am in Rome, I do.”10

Solidarity of Laity and Clergy

Another Roman custom, instituted by Pope Gelasius I in 494, is to use Ember Saturdays as the day to confer Holy Orders. Apostolic tradition prescribed that ordinations be preceded by fast and prayer (see Acts 13:3), and so it was quite reasonable to place ordinations at the end of this fast period. This allows the entire community to join the candidates in fasting and in praying for God’s blessing upon their vocation, and not just the community in this or that diocese, but all over the world.

Personally Prayerful

In addition to commemorating the seasons of nature, each of the four Embertides takes on the character of the liturgical season in which it is located. The Advent Ember days, for example, celebrate the Annunciation and the Visitation, the only times during Advent in the 1962 Missal when this is explicitly done. The Lenten Embertide allows us to link the season of spring, when the seed must die to produce new life, to the Lenten mortification of our flesh. The Whitsun Embertides, curiously, have us fasting within the octave of Pentecost, teaching us that there is such a thing as a “joyful fast.”11 The Fall Embertide is the only time that the Roman calendar echoes the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement, the two holidays that teach us so much about our earthly pilgrimage and about Christ’s high priesthood.12

The Ember days also afford the occasion for a quarterly check-up of the soul. Blessed Jacopo de Voragine (d. 1298) lists eight reasons why we should fast during the Ember days, most of them concerning our personal war against vice. Summer, for example, which is hot and dry, is analogous to “the burning and ardour of avarice,” while autumn is cold and dry, like pride. Jacopo also does a delightful job coordinating the Embertides with the four temperaments: springtime is sanguine, summer is choleric, autumn is melancholic, and winter is phlegmatic.13 It is little wonder that the Ember days became times of spiritual exercises (not unlike our modern retreats), and that folklore in Europe grew up around them affirming their special character.14

Even the Far East was affected by the Ember days. In the sixteenth century, when Spanish and Portuguese missionaries settled in Nagasaki, Japan, they sought ways of making tasty meatless meals for Embertide and started deep-frying shrimp. The idea caught on with the Japanese, who applied the process to a number of different sea foods and vegetables. They called this delicious food—have you guessed it yet?—“tempura,” again from Quatuor Tempora.

Dying Embers

While the Ember days remained fixed in the universal calendar as obligatory (along with the injunction to fast), their radiating influence on other areas of life eventually waned. By the twentieth century, ordinations were no longer exclusively scheduled on Ember Saturdays and their role as “spiritual checkups” was gradually forgotten. The writings of Vatican II could have done much to rejuvenate the Ember days. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy decrees that liturgical elements “which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers” (50).

But what came instead was the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship’s 1969 General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, where we read:

On rogation and ember days the practice of the Church is to offer prayers to the Lord for the needs of all people, especially for the productivity of the earth and for human labor, and to give him public thanks (45).

In order to adapt the rogation and ember days to various regions…the conferences of bishops should arrange the time and plan for their celebration (46)

Happily, the Ember days were not to be removed from the calendar but tweaked by national bishops’ conferences. There were, however, several shortcomings with this arrangement. First, the SCDW treats Rogation and Ember days as synonymous, which—as we saw in a previous article15—they are not. The Ember days do not, for example, pray for “the productivity of the earth and for human labor” in the dead of winter.

Second, by calling for an adaptation to various regions, the SCDW allowed the Ember days to take on an indeterminate number of meanings that have nothing to do with nature, such as “peace, the unity of the Church, the spread of the faith, etc.”16 Unlike the organic development of the Ember days, which preserved its basic meaning while taking on others, the 1969 directive has no safeguards to keep newly assigned meanings from displacing the Embertides’ more fundamental purpose.

Third, the national bishops’ conferences were supposed to fix the dates of the Ember days, but none, as far as I can tell, ever did.

Dead Embers & Lively Debates

In the wake of this ambiguity and indirection, the Ember days disappeared from the celebration of the Novus Ordo, and at one of the worst possible times. For just as the Church was letting its liturgical celebration of the natural slip into oblivion, the West was going berserk over nature.

Ever since the publication of Machiavelli’s Prince in the sixteenth century, modern society has been predicated on a technological war against nature in order to increase man’s dominion and power. Nature was no longer a lady to be wooed (as she had been for the Greeks, Romans, and medieval Christians); she was now to be raped, beaten into submission through evermore impressive technological advances17 that would render mankind, in Freud’s chilling words, “a prosthetic god.”

While there were some strong reactions against this new attitude, the modern hostility to the God-given only expanded as time went on, growing from a war on nature to a war on human nature. Our current preoccupations with genetic engineering, sex “changes,” and same-sex “marriage”—all of which are attempts to redefine or reconfigure the natural—are examples of this ongoing escalation.

The environmental movement that began in the 1960s has helped bring to light the wages of ruthlessly exploiting nature, and thus today we have a renewed appreciation for the virtues of responsible stewardship and for the marvels of God’s green but fragile earth. Yet this same movement, which has served in many ways as a healthy reawakening, is peppered with absurdities. Often the same activists who defend endangered tadpoles go on to champion the annihilation of unborn babies. Recently, after liberalizing their abortion laws, Spain’s socialist government introduced legislation to grant chimpanzees legal rights in order “to preserve the species from extinction”—this in a land with no native ape population.18

Contemporary environmentalism is also sometimes pantheistic in its assumptions, the result being that for many it has become a religion unto itself. This new religion comes complete with its own priests (climatologists), its own gospels (sacrosanct data about rising temperatures and shrinking glaciers), its own prophets (Al Gore, who unfortunately remains welcome in his own country), and, most of all, its own apocalypticism, with the four horsemen of deforestation, global warming, ozone depletion, and fossil fuels all leading us to an ecological Doomsday more terrifying to the secular mind than the Four Last Things.19


My point is not to deny the validity of these anxieties, but to lament the neo-pagan framework into which they are more often than not put. Modern man is such a mess that when he finally recovers a love of nature, he does so in a most unnatural manner. Both the early modern antipathy to nature and the late modern idolatry of it stand in dire need of correction, a correction that the Church is well poised to provide. As Chesterton quipped, Christians can truly love nature because they will not worship her. The Church proclaims nature’s goodness because it was created by a good and loving God and because it sacramentally reflects the grandeur of God’s goodness and love.
The Church does this liturgically with its observance of the “Four Seasons,” the Embertides. Celebrating the Ember days does not, of course, provide ready solutions to the world’s complicated ecological difficulties, but it is a good refresher course in basic first principles. The Ember days offer an intelligent alternative to pantheist environmentalism, and they do so without being contrived or pandering, as a new Catholic “Earth Day” or some such thing would undoubtedly be.

It is a shame that the Church unwittingly let the glow of Embertide die at the precise moment in history when their witness was needed the most, but it is a great boon that Summorum Pontificum makes their celebration universally accessible once again. What remains is for a new generation to take up their practice with a reinvigorated appreciation of what they mean. At least then we’ll know why we are so furious.

Michael P. Foley is an associate professor of patristics at Baylor University. He is the author of Wedding Rites: A Complete Guide to Traditional Music, Vows, Ceremonies, Blessings, and Interfaith Services (Eerdmans) and Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday? The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything (Palgrave Macmillan).

NOTES: This article appears in the Fall 2008 issue of The Latin Mass Magazine, vol. 17:4; web publication at RORATE CÆLI authorized by author and periodical. Images related to the First and Second Lessons and to the Gospel of Ember Saturday in September: in the first image, Aaron and Moses offer a holocaust to the Lord.

1.Officially, they fall on the first [full] week after the Feast of the Holy Cross (September 14).
2. Another theory is that “Ember” comes from the Old English, ymbren, meaning time or season.
3. The one reason stated by the Didache is more polemical: Christians fast on different days in order to be different from the “hypocrites,” i.e., the Pharisees (8.1).
4.Cf. Francis X. Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs (New York: Harcourt, 1958), 31-32.
5.Weiser does claim, however, that voluntarily fasting or abstaining on Wednesdays was still alive in some areas when he was writing (1958). Of course, the other remnant of the weekly fast is Friday abstinence from flesh meat.
6.Technically, neither Jewish fast was part of the Mosaic Law, though both were, I would argue, part of the Mosaic way of life.
7.From a prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas.
8.Cf. my article, “The Rogationtide,” TLM 17:2 (Spring 2008), pp. 36-39.
9.Jacopo de Voragine, “The Ember days,” in The Golden Legend.
10.Cf. Michael P. Foley, Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday? The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 148-49.
11.The medievals called this the jejunium exultationis—the fast of exultation.
12.There are relevant readings from the Old Testament and from the Letter to the Hebrews that are used throughout the year in both the 1962 and 1970 lectionaries, but the September Embertide is the only time that these readings are used in order to coincide with the autumn festivals of Sukkot and Yom Kippur. Again we see the principle of fulfillment rather than abolition liturgically enacted.
13.Cf. The Golden Legend, Volume 1, “The Ember Days.”
14.In the Middle Ages, the Ember days were kept as holydays of obligation, with rest from work and special acts of charity for the poor, such as feeding and bathing them. There was also an old superstition that the souls in Purgatory were temporarily released from their plight in order to thank their relatives for their prayers and beg for more.
15.Cf. my article, “The Rogationtide,” TLM 17:2 (Spring 2008), pp. 36-39.
16.Response to the query “How should rogation days and ember days be celebrated?” (, retrieved 2/20/08).
17.Cf. The Prince, ch. 25.
18.“Spain to Recognize Rights of Apes?” Catholic World News, 6/27/08,
19.This is not a parody. Cf. Peter Montague, “The Four Horsemen—Part 1,” Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly, #471, 12/7/95 (

Mea Culpa: A Rant about 50 Shades of Grey (it’s NOT what you think!)

18 February 2015

Shrove Tuesday
February 17, 2015 A.D.
By Sofia Guerra

As my readers know I don’t often write an original piece. Normally I cross-post information and essays by great writers, bloggers and websites.

Why? I am not a good writer. Actually, I’m not a writer at all. I’m lazy about grammar, impossibly idiotic about typos and basically I attempt to write like I speak. I just try to put a conversation down on paper or for lack of a better term, get it done digitally.

So when I come out of my non-writing hibernation, it’s usually a rant or sometimes: a rave. In this case, no surprise…a rant.

Okay, so I guess since EVERY CATHOLIC BLOGGER IN THE CATHOLIC BLOGOSPHERE must weigh in on the movie 50 Shades of Grey I have decided to rant.

50 shades of grayFirst, it’s time for a confession. I. Read. The. Books. Yup. I did. All three. Not the ONE BOOK ON WHICH THE MOVIE IS BASED, but the trilogy. Judge me, I don’t give a rat’s patootie. I am not going to read countless whiny blogposts by people who have not read the book(s).

Let me say I am a devout Catholic who sins. I did NOT read these ridiculous books to commit a sin of the flesh out of curiosity. I read them, quickly, to be able to write a post about why we shouldn’t read what can be harmful to our soul, and to our psyche.

First: The books stink. I am a Janeite. That is, a Jane Austen fan. I read and reread every novel of the greatest author in the English language on a cycle every other month, year after year. I would, consider myself an expert on all things Austen.

This is why I can say, 50 Shades of Grey is first and foremost, literary rubbish. E.L. James, the authoress, cannot write a sentence to save her life and should be ashamed as she hails from England the home of our beloved Jane Austen.

Now of course, not all writers can be an Austen of course, but if you are going to write for publication, please be able to write from a level above the 4th grade. Enough said about Ms. James lack of writing ability.

On to the elephant in the room. BDSM. This is something that has gone on from the moment Eve allowed her self to be dominated by the serpent in the Garden. It will be with us to the end. However, Christ promises us that the Church will prevail against the gates of hell so 50 Shades or not, we know the end of the story.

Lets get to the hypocrisy:

1. Catholic/Christian writers/bloggers who have not read the books (hey you can skip the sex scenes as after reading part of one–I was so bored I flipped past each of the scenes with each turn of the digital page) yet think they can honestly judge the story or correctly judge the story. I never read digital books but in this case I wanted the ability to flip quickly past the redundant, moronic attempt at sex without fear that perhaps I would be aroused. A joke… (Believe me, the little I read of the sex parts, it is a joke that it couldn’t even arouse a gerbil on a wheel).

2. I wanted to actually KNOW what the story surrounding this worldwide obsession was all about so that I may actually respond effectively to all the cries from the Catholic blogosphere. Guess what? I don’t need someone else (other than the Church) to tell me what to do or think. Especially those who consider themselves the Magisterium of the Church.

3. The ridiculous notion that the only victim in the story is the virginal Anastasia Steele. The attack against the hateful, evil character of Christian Grey is stupid and uniformed. If anyone is a victim in the story it’s the male character. Yes, I said it. All the females screaming foul as the helpless Ana is raped etc. by Beezelbub himself are wrong, dead wrong. More about that later.

4. It’s not about sex. It’s NOT. It’s about two human beings, both with frailties, one with a past of serious abuse and yes…rape and child molestation done to HIM..the male character. Anastasia is guilty of a lack of participation in life as her reason for her virginity. Instead of joyfully embracing her chastity and the real reason why chastity is best, she acts embarrassed to be pure.

5. Ana is the hypocrite in the story. She willfully goes to him. Despite his warnings, like a child at a hot stove, SHE MUST TOUCH IT FOR HERSELF TO LEARN IT’S HOT.

6. These characters are two lost individuals with their own Godless issues who cling to pain. Anastasia, from divorce of her parents and Christian…well from being the object of a female pedophile during early puberty.

7. The problem with this story is that Anastasia ultimately is the savior. She “saves” Christian but truly, one knows it’s only a ruse as Christian’s demons can only be expelled by Christ Himself. Ana and Christian may only be healed by the Blood of Christ, but of course, Hollywood and apparently E.L. James couldn’t possibly have that.

Why not just be honest about why? After all, if Catholic bloggers can’t be honest why oh why, would we expect others to be honest. In a sea of hypocrisy, there were a few who tried to inform.

Lisa Graas posted a Catholic Bishop’s explanation why going to the movie was a sin. Lisa, I’m sure didn’t read the book but as a Catholic, she was honest enough to yield to the Church and Her teaching on pornography.

Elizabeth Westhoff voiced what most of us with a brain were thinking. Her post titled “50 Shades of I Don’t Care” points out that yes, she was offended by the material (she read part of it so she could make an HONEST observation) but was as offended or perhaps a bit more offended by atrocities currently in the world too numerous to mention here. She offers, an alternative to 50 Shades of Grey which I ask you to see for yourself by clicking the link above.

Kirsten Anderson writing for posted a piece called, “The real reason 50 Shades Is So Wildly Popular (HINT: It’s not the sex).” Anderson goes into detail about the true beginnings of 50 Shades as a “Twilight” copycat with BDSM. She writes, “Ultimately, the secret to the success of Fifty Shades is that it puts the reader in the role of both the saved and the savior. But that’s also precisely what’s so dangerous about this story – because Christian Grey is not God, neither is Ana, and neither are any of us.

Look, let’s really be honest here: 50 Shades is crap. It’s pornographic crap. So stop trying to use it as a political tool to get your blogpost clicks. At least if you are going to give advice (as opposed to referring your reader to instruction of a Bishop which is not only honest, but appropriate) then give YOUR opinion after having read a little of it. Do more than just look at the highly stylized trailer featuring Beyonce’s music and hints of what the movie is about. The books and the movie(s) need to be scorned. But at least, get the story straight.

I totally understand that most good Catholic women are concerned particularly for their daughters AND for their sons (as I am) to understand why relationships like this are sinful and degrading.

I spoke to my daughter about the books and the movie the week before it came out. Knowing how she is about this sort of thing, I knew she hadn’t read the books (she was reading Mansfield Park in 2011 and other Austen titles when the other two books came out). We were still living together at the time and when I mentioned it casually at first, she gave me an “EWWWWWWW”.

She is now stationed in Virginia finishing up her MOS training with the U.S. Marine Corps and I knew perhaps it being several years later and many people around her now have worldly ideals. I decided to revisit the topic again.

She assured me she remembered what we had spoken about and that she had heard plenty of descriptions of the story in the barracks. I cringed. She assured me that she still was icky about the whole thing and that she knows it is a sin. Okay, doing well here.

Then she tells me the next day that she and a group were going to the movies and for pizza on St. Valentine’s Day. Great, just great. How do I say to a almost 21 yr old MARINE that she can’t go see this movie. I had to trust in what I taught her. I had to trust in the Catholic education she received at our parish at the time ( check it out!) was solid and orthodox, which it was.

What I didn’t trust was all these months away with all kinds of people with all kinds of beliefs would pull her from the Truth.

So she tells me they go to the movie theater and the females in the group wanted to see 50 Shades. (I held my breath) The males of course, weren’t totally comfortable with the idea. Not because they were necessarily holy and/or gentlemen, but the movie has been advertised as female porn so most men aren’t crazy about seeing it or reading the books.

She spoke up and said she didn’t want to see it. She was asked why and she said, “I’m Catholic and it is a sin and at the least, inappropriate.” W.O.W. I could breathe again, So what happened? My daughter suggested the Sponge Bob movie and everybody liked the idea and loved the movie.

Thank you Lord, I got the good kid.

So yes, I admit read the books quickly in order to write this post, and also admitted it to my daughter. She was not happy with me and said, “MOM!!! Go to Confession!”

So, I will go to Confession. Not because my good kid said so but because she’s correct. Also, Father Zuhlsdorf from instructs us lovingly to use this time to prepare for Lent and to get to Confession. They are both right.

I will confess I read the book, I will confess it was my pride and not lust that is the sin for reading it. How about you? Judge me or look yourself in the mirror and get to Confession.

But I still got the good kid.


Confession Index

“Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. . . . As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”        John 20, 19-23


Examination of Conscience

The simplest method of examination of a conscience is to recall the different commandments of God and the teachings of the Church; and see in what way and how often we may have broken them. It is also useful to recall the seven deadly sins and our predominant passion and bad habits. We should also notice in what way we may have neglected the duties of our state of life. We must bear in mind that we may fall into sin either by thought, word, deed or omission. Our ruling passion is the chief cause of our sins.

We are bound to take prudent measures and ordinary care, without scrupulosity, to discover all our mortal sins before entering the tribunal of penance. In case it is our first confession we must examine our lives since we came to the use of reason. Ordinarily, we are bound to confess only the sins we have committed since our last good confession. Occasionally, following the advice of our confessor, it will be useful or perhaps necessary to make a general confession.

To help the memory it will be well to call to mind the places we have frequented, the persons in whose company we were, the things we have done and said, and the manner in which we have passed our time from day to day.

If we cannot tell how often we have committed any sin we should at least be able to say how long the habit lasted, and how often in a day or a week we usually fell into it.

The sins we should most carefully recall to mind in confession are mortal sins and habitual venial sins, as a sin in itself venial may become mortal by repetition, as in matters of justice, where thefts of small sums may by repetition become grave. Acts of faith, hope, charity and contrition should be made immediately before confession.

For more information to help with a good Confession please click Here:

LizzieB GETS IT: “50 Shades of I Don’t Care”

14 February 2015

by Elizabeth S. Westhoff

This will be brief.

I am a Roman Catholic. I am the pop culture blogger for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I have a Master’s Degree in English Language and Literature.

I am sick and tired of hearing about 50 Shades of Grey.

Does it portray sexual intimacy in a way that is counter to Catholic teaching? Absolutely.

images-300x167Is it responsible for the ruination of marriage in our culture? It certainly falls in the category of “things that probably are.”

Is it a flash in the pan? Yes.

Is it good literature? From the excerpt I read in order to be able to make this comment… no.

Am I offended by the content of 50 Shades of Grey? Yes.

To read the big conclusion on this post (and it’s a good one) please continue after the jump>>>


LizzieBElizabeth Westhoff is the Director of Marketing & Mission Awareness Archdiocese of St. Louis. A new media Catholic. Writes the Pop Culture Catholic Blog for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Daughter of St. Francis de Sales.
You can find Elizabeth on Twitter @ESWesthoff and on FB HERE

Responding to Evil: LizzieB Gets it. Patton Got It. Why Don’t We?

3 February 2015

“All the Devil Asks is Acquiescence…”

by Elizabeth S Westhoff
3 February 2015 A.D.

jordanian pilotToday I watched a video that was released of a young man (purportedly Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh) wearing a wet, orange jumpsuit. He was caged like an animal. A masked man with a torch touched the flame to a line of earth that led to the cage, encircling it. As the flame reached the cage, the man inside was engulfed in fire. He frantically bat at the flames with his burning arms. I was amazed at how long he remained standing as he became a pillar of fire. Finally he fell to his knees, head bowed. As the videographer zoomed in on his head for a close up, you could see this young man, literally, melting. His charred remains fell back and that was the end of the video.

It was one of the most horrific things I have ever seen.

I have watched other videos like this. I have not watched them because of a morbid fascination. Each has sickened me. Each has frightened me. Each has left me weeping. I have not watched them because I felt compelled to do so, I watched them because I felt obligated to do so. I watched them so that just one more person would be aware of the evil that roams the earth. I watched them so that I would be informed as to what is happening in our world. I watched them so that I could pray for the victim.

With the release of each of these videos, I have been reminded of the images of the citizens of Weimar, Germany that General George Patton marched through Buchenwald after W.W. II. Approximately 2,000 of them–all civilians–were made to march several miles up a steep hill. It took days for the townspeople to file through the camp. There were no precautions taken to protect them from the typhus epidemic in the camp. In their clean, starched and pressed dresses and suits, the townspeople came face-to-face with the enormity of evil men and the death that resulted from it. They left that day with the stench of barbarity upon them.

Continue after the jump>>>


LizzieBElizabeth Westhoff is the Director of Marketing & Mission Awareness Archdiocese of St. Louis. A new media Catholic. Writes the Pop Culture Catholic Blog for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Daughter of St. Francis de Sales.
You can find Elizabeth on Twitter @ESWesthoff and on FB HERE

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