Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Collect of the Missal for the Election of a Pope

Yesterday I posted a prayer for the election of a bishop; here is the more appropriate collect of the Missal for the election of a Pope:

Súpplici, Dómine, humilitáte depóscimus :
ut sacrosánctæ Románæ Ecclésiæ
concédat Pontíficem illum tua imménsa pietas;
qui et pio in nos stúdio semper tibi plácitus,
et tuo pópulo pro salúbri regímine sit assídue
ad glóriam tui nóminis reveréndus.
Per Dóminum.

O Lord, with suppliant humility, we entreat Thee,
that in Thy boundless mercy
Thou wouldst grant the most holy Roman Church a pontiff,
who by his zeal for us, may be pleasing to Thee,
and by his good government may ever be honored by Thy people
for the glory of Thy name.
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And if you’re so inclined, you can “Adopt a Cardinal” for whom to pray during the conclave.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Prayer for the Election of a Pope

Here is a prayer for the election of a bishop; I have prayed it for the election of a bishop for the Diocese of Baker, the Diocese of El Paso, and the Archdiocese of Portland, but I assume it’s a good one for the universal Church seeking the election of a new Bishop of Rome, as well.

Lord God, you are our eternal shepherd and guide.
In your mercy grant the Church a shepherd who will walk in your ways
and whose watchful care will bring us your blessing.
We ask this through Our Lord…

For those who like to pray in the official language of the Church, here’s the Latin:

Deus, qui pastor aeternus,
gregem tuum assidua custodia gubernas,
eum immensa tua pietate concedas Ecclesiae pastorem,
qui tibi sanctitate placeat,
et vigili nobis sollicitudine prosit. 
Per Dominum...


Here’s a prayer for the Pope. I pray it every day for Pope Benedict XVI, though I guess after February 28, it doesn’t quite “fit” because he will no longer be the Pope. Still, he will remain in my prayers! And surely it doesn’t hurt to pray this prayer for the new Pope, even before we know who he is.

V. Let us pray for N, our Pope.

R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant N, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

And here it is in Latin:

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro N.

R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. [Ps 40:3]

Pater Noster, Ave Maria.

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum N., quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fr. Andersen: Will It Be Sports or God?

A homily by Fr. Eric Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, Oregon
February 24th, 2013
Dominica II Quadragesimae, Anno C

During these forty days of Lent, we accompany Jesus to the Cross. Last week, we heard that Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights and was hungry. Then the devil tempted Him. Where else do we find this number 40? We find it with Noah, who built an ark which saved him and his family and the animals within while it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses ascended the mountain, Mount Sinai, where he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in prayer for the sins of his people, and preparing to receive the Law from God. Then there is Elijah who journeyed “through the wilderness. On his way, an angel gave him to eat: and ‘strengthened by that food he went on for forty days and forty nights, when he reached God’s own mountain, Horeb’” (Danielou, The Lord of History, 260-261).

Elijah was then assumed into heaven. He did not die. The scriptures tell us that a chariot of fire came and swept him up into heaven. What about Moses? There is a rabbinic tradition that Moses was also assumed into heaven. The book of Deuteronomy tells us that his body was buried in the valley of the land of Moab but its tomb has not been found (cf. Deut 34:6).  The scriptures also tell us, in the epistle of St. Jude, that Michael the Archangel disputed with the devil over the body of Moses; not over his soul, but over his body. We do not know what the dispute was about.

“The common interpretation is that St. Michael conveyed the body of Moses out of the way, and from the knowledge of the Israelites, lest they should pay to it some idolatrous worship; whereas the devil, for that end, would have it buried, so that the people might know the place and adore it.” (Haydock, p. 1626, fn 9)

We see that temptation fulfilled here with St. Peter wanting to build a shrine, a tabernacle, on that spot for Moses and for Elijah. These two prophets were so highly revered by the Jewish people because they experienced a privileged intimacy with God that others were never given.

The Book of Deuteronomy tells us that “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut 34:10). This is very important because God also told Moses that no man can see the Face of God and live (cf. Exod 33:20). But Moses looked upon the face of God. God spoke to him face to face. And now, Moses and Elijah appear speaking to God face to face, on the Mountain; Our Lord Jesus Christ is transfigured before them and they converse with Him. This scene serves as a fulfillment to a promise from Deuteronomy when Moses told the people: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you…him you shall hear” (Deut 18:15). God the Father tells us just that: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” Let us listen to Him through the teachings of the gospels. But let us not only listen to Him; let us obey Him.
Our Lord has commanded that we make holy the Lord’s day. The Lord’s day is Sunday. Every Sunday is the Lord’s day. The whole day Sunday is the Lord’s day. You should not work unless you have to. You should not go shopping on Sunday. You should not participate in school activities or school sports on Sundays. Let me repeat that: You should not participate in school activities or school sports on Sundays – any Sundays – but especially on Palm Sunday. I bring this up because Gervais High School is hosting the Oregon Latino Basketball Tournament which is scheduled to take place on Palm Sunday and on Holy Saturday. This is not appropriate.

The Catholic Daughters were offered an opportunity to do some fundraising at this event, selling hotdogs. In considering the event, I became aware that it falls on a Friday of Lent, continues on Palm Sunday, and finishes on Holy Saturday. Needless to say, Catholics should not attend or support this event. Palm Sunday is not a time for a Basketball Tournament, Latino or otherwise. Holy Saturday is not a time for this type of activity either. Holy Saturday is a day for fasting and not for eating hot dogs. Holy Saturday is a day for praying and preparing for Easter the next day, not for playing basketball in a Youth Jam.  Furthermore, this event is going to be serving meat on the Friday of the event. Remember that the Church asks you to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays through the whole year and that it is a sin to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. If you eat meat on Fridays during Lent, you must go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion again.

Now, if you are engaging in school sports on Sundays you need to make a choice. Will it be sports or God? You have six days to play sports. You have six days to work and make money. God only asks for one day. He not only asks but He has commanded it: Make Holy the Lord’s Day. The principle here is that we do not do anything on Sunday that would accomplish something. We sacrifice getting something done. We sacrifice to God the yield of a day’s labor on Sundays. We sacrifice getting things done. That includes doing homework, or doing anything to earn money. That includes physical labor even if it is a personal project around the house or the yard. Sunday is not a day to tear out a flowerbed in the back yard or to build a new shed.

On the other hand, Sunday is a day to enjoy your family. You can play a game of basketball with your brothers or your uncles, but it should be for fun and not to advance your team’s record. If it is a team that you play for, then you should not play on Sunday because you are accomplishing something, and by doing so you are working. Sunday is a day for rest, for leisure, for family, and most importantly for God. I am asking you to stand up to the schools. They do not dictate how you are live your faith. God dictates that. The schools schedule these events because people go along with them. As Catholics, we need to speak up. Our children will not be involved in such things on Sundays. Our children are not available on Sundays for anything outside of God and the family. If people would stand up to the public schools, things would change. Until very recently, it was unheard of that any school would schedule anything on a Sunday. The same went for Wednesday evenings. Wednesday evenings were reserved for church activities and catechism. Now, the parish is told that the children are not available on Wednesdays because they have sports. We are also told that the children are not available for church on Sundays because they have sports. Beloved in Christ, we have a choice to make. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. It belongs to him. He has a right to command us to cease our work for one day a week.

I realize that some of you are cheering inside because what I say today helps you in your struggles with your children. I received so many thank you’s from parents last night. But I also realize that some of you are shaking your fists at me. I am making life more difficult for you. But I am placing this choice before you because I respect you enough to tell you the truth. I respect you enough to provide you with the information you need to freely make a choice for or against God. And I know that this is a difficult choice placed before some of you. The Latino Basketball Tournament was the springboard for this sermon. But this applies to everyone whether you are Latino or not. I don’t bring this up in order to make your lives more difficult. I bring this up because I love you as your spiritual father in Jesus Christ. I care about your soul. I care so much that I am willing to stand up here and tell you this even when I know that some of you will reject what I have to say. I know that some of you may even go to another parish because the message there is easier.

Well, my dear ones in Christ, the way is narrow that leads to eternal life. There is no such thing as an easy Christian faith. If you want easy, go ahead. You can probably find a priest somewhere who will tell you whatever it is you want to hear. If not, you can make up your own religion and add to the 40,000+ splinters of the Christian faith that are already out there. I may not always tell you what you want to hear, but by now I think you know that I will speak the truth to you because I respect you. The truth will set you free. Jesus Christ is the Truth and He has said that the Truth will set you free. With freedom comes responsibility. We are free when we obey God’s law.

And so I ask you this day to commit to making Sundays a holy day every week. I also want to ask you to boycott the Oregon Latino Basketball Tournament because the organizers have scheduled this event during the most holy time of the year for Catholics. Please do not participate in this event. I say this with love as your spiritual father because you are so precious to God and His commandments are the way to eternal life. Which way will you choose? Will it be sports or God? 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Statement on Liturgical Workshop in Bend, OR

The Board of the Society of St. Gregory the Great is disappointed to note the following in the “Parish News” section of the Diocesan Chronicle:

Catholic Composer, author, and workshop presenter David Haas will present an evening concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 8 and liturgy workshop Saturday, March 9 from 8:30-2:30 at St. Francis Church in Bend [Oregon]. A few of Haas’ well known songs are “You Are Mine,” “Blest Are They,” and “We Will Rise Again.”

Although it is certainly legitimate for the faithful to invite a composer/performer such as David Haas to present a concert if they so desire, there are other problems to be addressed with the entire scenario.

First, there are Church regulations about concerts in churches. Although the Society does not agree that music composed by David Haas qualifies as sacred polyphony, it is obviously condoned by our local church leadership, and is used at Mass. However, we do hope that the performers will not be situated in the sanctuary, because such a location is prohibited by the Church documents. In addition, a “suggested donation” is mentioned for those wishing to attend the concert; we hope that this is indeed only a suggestion and not a requirement, as an admission fee to a concert in a church is expressly forbidden by the documents. It is also unfortunate that this concert apparently necessitates the cancellation of the Stations of the Cross – a situations which bring to light the problematic fact that this parish is sponsoring a concert during Lent.

More problematic is the “liturgical workshop” that that is scheduled. We wonder what qualifies the composer of “pop” worship music to conduct such a workshop. It does not appear that he truly understands what the Church asks of us with regard to liturgical music and worship, since his music consists primarily of what one would consider “hymns”, or perhaps more correctly “songs”.  We note that the “new translation” implemented in Advent of 2011 brought us a new edition of the Roman Missal which includes more music than any other previous edition, and the form of this music is not hymns, but Gregorian chant antiphons and psalmody.

With the introduction of the new translation, the intent of the bishops was clearly to induce the priests and the faithful to “sing the Mass”, rather than to “sing AT Mass”, and they did not have “hymns” in mind. Prior to the implementation of the new translation, the USCCB’s website promotion of the changes stated (emphases added):

[The Church] has been blessed with this opportunity to deepen its understandingof the Sacred Liturgy, and to appreciate its meaning and importance in our lives… [T]he parish community should be catechized to receive the new translation.  Musicians and parishioners alike should soon be learning the various new and revised musical settings of the Order of Mass.

During the calendar year 2011, the Society of St. Gregory the Great attempted to bring the idea of “singing the Mass” to our parishes by offering a liturgical workshop based on Mystical Body, Mystical Voice presentation developed by Fr. Douglas Martis and Mr. Christopher Carstens of The Liturgical Institute in Chicago. The workshop was conducted in two locations in our diocese, but went no further, for reasons which will not be addressed here.

It is the Society’s mission to promote divine worship in accordance with the Supreme Magisterium of the Church. We believe that this is also the intent of the USCCB in the development and attempted implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal. However, without the leadership and direction of the local bishop, it is unlikely that there would be uniform changes to the liturgical music used in any diocese. Across the US, there have been some bishops who have taken action toward catechizing the faithful about the music: Bishop Thomas Olmsted in the Diocese of Phoenix; Bishop Joseph B. McFadden of the Diocese of Harrisburg; and Bishop Alexander Sample of the Diocese of Marquette (and, please God, he may bring new life to liturgical reform in the Archdiocese of Portland when he takes on his new assignment!).  None of these bishops offered a workshop by David Haas, as far as we are aware! Instead, they used more authoritative resources and more liturgically appropriate programs.

The Society of St. Gregory the Great remains steadfast in its commitment to the promotion of reverence and beauty in the Mass. We sincerely hope that the faithful of our diocese will soon experience liturgical catechesis that is more likely to foster knowledge and love of our Catholic tradition and identity. We stand ready to help in any effort to implement more liturgically correct music in the Mass.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Traditional Latin Mass in Southern Oregon

I was made aware that the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass was planned in Southern Oregon, via the “Orate Fratres” blog, which had this announcement:

It’s confirmed… What was previously known as the Tridentine Mass, or Traditional Latin Mass, and most recently, the “extraordinary form” of the Mass, will be periodically offered to worshipers at Our Lady of the River Catholic Church in Rogue River, Oregon.

 The celebrant will be Father Adam Kotas, from the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Crescent City, California.

And the first such Mass did happen on February 10, just one week ago. One attendee told me that several years ago she and her husband had signed a petition to have the EF Mass offered in their area, but – the typical story – they were stonewalled because the powers-that-be said there “wasn't any interest”.  Ha! As she commented to me in an email, “Last night's Mass, with 150 in attendance and standing room only at Our Lady of the River seems to indicate otherwise!” 

Thanks are due to Fr. Bill Holtzinger, the pastor who authorized the celebration of the TLM on this periodic basis. It's nice to see a pastor accommodating the desire of the faithful to have this Mass!

Here are a few photos taken by Marc Salvatore, who kindly gave me permission to post them:

Also, be sure to check out Shower of Roses blog by Jessica for another story on the Mass; she has some of the same photos there (and if you look at other stories on her blog, you’ll find fun photos of her beautiful children).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fr. Andersen Homily: Don't Apologize for Being Catholic

A homily by Fr. Eric Andersen, Sacred Heart in Gervais, Oregon

Feb 17, 2013

Dominica I in Quadragesima. Anno C

Moses told the people: “The priest shall receive the basket from you and shall set it in front of the altar of the Lord, your God.” This is what we might call a liturgical prefigurement. It points towards the Offertory collection, but not the collection itself. Rather it points towards what the collection represents. I am not talking about money. Moses is preparing the people to enter into the Promised Land; the land of milk and honey, of abundance. God has given them so much and Moses reminds the people that they are to give thanks to God by gathering up the first fruits of the products of the soil into a basket and present them to the priest for a thanksgiving sacrifice. We give money. If we cannot literally offer our bodies to be sacrificed, then we substitute something, but we should be mindful that we are offering up our hearts, our souls, our minds, our bodies to God. Just after the offertory collection, the priest says: “The Lord be with you... Lift up your hearts. . . Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” The offertory is truly collecting our hearts and carrying them to the altar. Our hearts are lifted up with Jesus Christ to be offered with Him to the Father.

If it were only that easy. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, tempted, before they could enter the Promised Land. And the gospel today shows us what to expect. Jesus is led into the desert for 40 days to be tempted by the devil. The devil questions our Lord: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here!” Isn’t that just like the devil to tempt the vulnerable with suicide? Despair is a temptation. Self-doubt is a temptation.  Doubting God is a temptation. Where do such thoughts come from? They don’t come from God. They are temptations. Temptation manifests itself in surprising ways that we may not immediately recognize.

To illustrate: in the words of a wise man, “God, our Father, asks His children to fast. Our Mother, the Church, teaches us how.” Let’s say that we are invited to someone’s house on Friday. They are not Catholic. They go to the non-denominational denomination down the street. Their preacher pokes fun at “idolatrous Catholic practices” like abstaining from meat on Fridays. Our friends know that we are Catholic and that Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. So we are invited on a Friday during Lent to a celebration at their house. They are not aware that it is Lent because they do not observe it. They cover the table with casseroles, stews, ribs, and an abundance of sumptuous delights. Your eyes bug out. You begin to perspire, your throat constricts, your heart is beating. You are faced with a big decision to make. And the temptation begins. Your guardian angel pleads with you: “No, don’t do it.” and the devil’s angel on the other side is saying: “Ah, go on. You only live once. Live it up!” And you dive into the table of earthly delights.

Now, the truth is that your Evangelical friends are saying to themselves, “See, I knew it. Those Catholics say they believe all that stuff, but they don’t really believe it all. It really is a false religion. If it were true, then they would live according to their faith as we do.” It would have been so easy to just tell them that since it is Friday during Lent, and since you are a Catholic, you cannot accept their invitation but that you send your warmest greetings. It would not be rude, you would avoid the occasion of sin, and you would be at peace in your heart. If you were Jewish or Muslim, nobody would question such an explanation. But as Catholics, we think that we have to apologize and deny our faith in order to be accepted.

So you’ve gorged yourself on ribs and pot roast on Friday during Lent. The devil won this round and you scandalized the Church by your actions. Then the accusations begin. “Why does the Church even ask me to do all this stuff, anyway? Am I really going to go to hell just for eating meat on a Friday during Lent? Why do I have to go to Church on Sundays anyway? Can’t I just ask God for forgiveness in my heart and call it good? Why do I have to go to Confession? It would have been rude to say no to my gracious hosts…” And on and on the rationalizing goes. And the emptiness inside your soul becomes more and more pronounced. If this was me, the truth is that I know I betrayed God and my conscience. I listened to the voice of temptation and I gave in.


It is so much easier to just acknowledge in all humility that I have sinned and that I need to go to confession. None of us are above sinning. Better to just admit that we are sinners and ask God for mercy. Of course He will give it. A humble and contrite heart is the best sacrifice. “Lift up your hearts.” Place a humble and contrite heart in the offertory basket and let that be lifted up by our Lord to the Father. If you have sins to confess, now is the time. Do not go to Holy Communion until you have confessed them. But don’t wait. Confess now and receive Holy Communion while you still have life to live. Then, with a clean heart you may offer your very self and receive the very Self of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

St. Augustine: A Contrite Spirit

A few words from St. Augustine – a good meditation as we enter the season of Lent.

Do you want God to be appeased? Learn what you are to do that God may be pleased with you. Consider the psalm again: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. Are you then to be without sacrifice? Are you to offer nothing? Will you please God without an offering? Consider what you read in the same psalm: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. But continue to listen, and say with David:  A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart. Cast aside your former offerings, for now you have found out what you are to offer. In the days of your fathers you would have made offerings of cattle – these were the sacrifices. If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it. These then, Lord, you do not want, and yet you do want sacrifice.

You will take no delight in burnt offerings, David says. If you will not take delight in burnt offerings, will you remain without sacrifice? Not at all. A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart.

You now have the offering you are to make. No need to examine the herd, no need to outfit ships and travel to the most remote provinces in search of incense. Search within your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart must be crushed. Are you afraid that it might perish so? You have the reply: Create a clean heart in me, O God. For a clean heart to be created, the unclean one must be crushed.

We should be displeased with ourselves when we commit sin, for sin is displeasing to God. Sinful though we are, let us at least be like God in this, that we are displeased at what displeases him. In some measure then you will be in harmony with God’s will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator.

This is an excerpt from Sermon 19, 2-3: CCL 41, 252-254, which you can view here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fasting, Part II: St. Francis de Sales

Here is the rest of the sermon by St. Francis de Sales on fasting; Part I is here.

The second condition is never to fast through vanity but always through humility. If our fast is not performed with humility, it will not be pleasing to God… St. Paul in the epistle that he wrote to the Corinthians [1 Cot: 13]…declared the conditions necessary for disposing ourselves to fast well during Lent. He says this to us: Lent is approaching. Prepare yourselves to fast with charity, for if your fast is performed without it, it will be vain and useless, since fasting, like all other good works, is not pleasing to God unless it is done in charity and through charity. When you discipline yourself, when you say long prayers, if you have not charity, all that is nothing. Even though you should work miracles, if you have not charity, they will not profit you at all. Indeed, even if you should suffer martyrdom without charity, your martyrdom is worth nothing and would not be meritorious in the eyes of the Divine Majesty. For all works, small or great, however good they may be in themselves, are of no value and profit us nothing if they are not done in charity and through charity.
I say the same now: if your fast is without humility, it is worth nothing and cannot be pleasing to the Lord…

But what is it to fast through humility? It is never to fast through vanity. Now how can one fast through vanity? …To fast through vanity is to fast through self-will, since this self-will is not without vanity, or at least not without a temptation to vanity. And what does it mean to fast through self-will? It is to fast as one wishes and not as others wish; to fast in the manner which pleases us, and not as we are ordered or counseled. You will find some who wish to fast more than is necessary, and others who do not wish to fast as much as is necessary. What causes that except vanity and self-will? All that proceeds from ourselves seems better to us, and is much more pleasant and easy for us than what is enjoined on us by another, even though the latter is more useful and proper for our perfection. This is natural to us and is born from the great love we have for ourselves.

Let each one of us examine our conscience and we will find that all that comes from ourselves, from our own judgment, choice and election, is esteemed and loved far better than that which comes from another. We take a certain complacency in it that makes the most arduous and difficult things easy for us, and this complacency is almost always vanity. You will find those who wish to fast every Saturday of the year, but not during Lent. They wish to fast in honor of Our Lady and not in honor of Our Lord. As if Our Lord and Our Lady did not consider the honor given to the one as given to the other, and as if in honoring the Son by fasting done for His intention, one did not please the Mother, or that in honoring the Virgin one did not please the Savior! What folly! But see how human it is: because the fast that these persons impose on themselves on Saturday in honor of our glorious Mistress comes from their own will and choice, it seems to them that it should be more holy and that it should bring them to a much greater perfection than the fast of Lent, which is commanded. Such people do not fast as they ought but as they want.

There are others who desire to fast more than they should… On this matter the great Apostle complains [Rom. 14:1-6], saying that we find ourselves confronted by two groups of people. Some do not wish to fast as much as they ought, and cannot be satisfied with the food permitted (this is what many worldly people still do today who allege a thousand reasons on this subject... The others, says St. Paul, wish to fast more than is necessary. It is with these that we have more trouble. We can easily and clearly show the first that they contravene the law of God, and that in not fasting as much as they should, while able to do it, they transgress the commandments of the Lord. But we have more difficulty with the weak and infirm who are not strong enough for fasting. They will not listen to reason, nor can they be persuaded that they are not bound by it [the law of fasting], and despite all our reasons they insist on fasting more than is required, not wishing to use the food we order them. These people do not fast through humility, but through vanity. They do not recognize that, being weak and infirm, they would do much more for God in not fasting through the command of another and using the food ordered them, than in wishing to abstain through self-will. For although, on account of their weakness, their mouth cannot abstain, they should make the other senses of the body fast, as well as the passions and powers of the soul.

You are not, says Our Lord, to look gloomy and melancholic like the hypocrites do when they fast in order to be praised by men and esteemed as great abstainers.{3} [Matt.6:16-18]. But let your fasting be done in secret; therefore, wash your face, anoint your head, and your heavenly Father who sees what is hidden in your heart will reward you well. Our Divine Master did not mean by this that we ought to have no care about the edification of the neighbor. Oh, no, for St. Paul says [Phil. 4:5]: Let your modesty be known to all. Those who fast during the holy season of Lent ought not to conceal it, since the Church orders this fast and wishes that everyone should know that we are observing it. We must not, then, deny this to those who expect it of us for their edification, since we are obliged to remove every cause of scandal to our brothers. But when Our Lord said: Fast in secret, He wanted us to understand: do not do it to be seen or esteemed by creatures; do not do your works for the eyes of men. Be careful to edify them well, but not in order that they might esteem you as holy and virtuous. Do not be like the hypocrites. Do not try to appear better than others in practicing more fasting and penances than they.

…Accomplish your good works in secret and not for the eyes of others. Do not act like the spider, which represents the proud; but imitate the bee, which is the symbol of the humble soul. The spider spins its web where everyone can see it, and never in secret. It spins in orchards, going from tree to tree, in houses, on windows, on floors -- in short, before the eyes of all. In this it resembles the vain and hypocritical who do everything to be seen and admired by others. Their works are in fact only spiders' webs, fit to be cast into the fires of Hell. But the bees are wiser and more prudent, for they prepare their honey in the hive where no one can see them. Besides that, they build little cells where they continue their work in secret. This represents very well the humble soul, who is always withdrawn within herself, without seeking any glory or praise for her actions. Rather, she keeps her intention hidden, being content that God sees and knows what she does.

…Do not allow your fast to resemble that of hypocrites, who wear melancholy faces and who consider holy only those who are emaciated. What folly! As if holiness consisted in being thin! Certainly St. Thomas Aquinas was not thin; he was very stout. And yet he was holy. In the same way there are many others who, though not thin, nevertheless fail not to be very austere and excellent servants of God. But the world, which regards only the exterior, considers only those holy who are pale and wasted. Consider a little this human spirit: it takes account only of appearances and, being vain, does its works to be seen by others. Our Lord tells you not to do as they do but to let your fast be done in secret, only for the eyes of your heavenly Father, and He will see you and reward you.

The third condition necessary for fasting well is to look to God and to do everything to please Him, withdrawing within ourselves in imitation of a great saint, St. Gregory the Great, who withdrew into a secret and out-of-the-way place where he remained for some time without anyone knowing where he was, being content that the Lord and His angels knew it.

…Cassian says: What will it profit you to do what you are doing for the eyes of creatures? Nothing but vanity and complacency, which are good for Hell alone. But if you keep your fast and do all your works to please God alone, you will labor for eternity, without delighting in yourself or caring whether you are seen by others or not, since what you do is not done for them, nor do you await your recompense from them. We must keep our fast with humility and truth, and not with lying and hypocrisy -- that is, we must fast for God and to please Him alone.

…This is all that I had to tell you regarding fasting and what must be observed in order to fast well. The first thing is that your fast should be entire and universal; that is, that you should make all the members of your body and the powers of your soul fast…If you do that, your fast will be universal, interior and exterior, for you will mortify both your body and your spirit. The second condition is that you do not observe your fast or perform your works for the eyes of others. And the third is that you do all your actions, and consequently your fasting, to please God alone, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

St. Francis de Sales: Lenten Fasting

Last year's post for Ash Wednesday:

In the Ash Wednesday Mass I attended, the homily came from the pen of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of the Diocese of Baker. The source of the following excerpts is Source: The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent.

Here’s Part I of the Saint’s sermon for Ash Wednesday:


These first four days of the holy season of Lent serve as a preface to indicate the preparation that we ought to make in order to spend Lent well and to dispose ourselves to fast well. That is why I thought of speaking to you, in this exhortation, of the conditions which render fasting good and meritorious…

To treat of fasting and of what is required to fast well, we must, at the start, understand that of itself fasting is not a virtue. The good and the bad, as well as Christians and pagans, observe it. The ancient philosophers observed it and recommended it. They were not virtuous for that reason, nor did they practice virtue in fasting. Oh, no, fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which render it pleasing to God. Thus it happens that it profits some and not others, because it is not undertaken by all in the same manner.
We find some people who think that to fast well during the holy season of Lent it is enough to abstain from eating some prohibited food. But this thought is too gross to enter into the hearts of religious, for it is to you I speak, as well as persons dedicated to Our Lord. We know very well that it is not enough to fast exteriorly if we do not also fast interiorly and if we do not accompany the fast of the body with that of the spirit.

That is why our Divine Master, who instituted the fast, greatly desired in His Sermon on the Mount to teach His Apostles how it must be practiced [Matt. 6:16-18], which is a matter of great profit and utility (for it would not have been becoming to the greatness and majesty of God to teach a useless doctrine. That could not be.). He knew that to draw strength and efficacy from fasting, something more than abstinence from prohibited food is necessary. Thus He instructed them and, consequently, disposed them to gather the fruits proper to fasting. Among many others are these four: fasting fortifies the spirit, mortifying the flesh and its sensuality; it raises the spirit to God; it fights concupiscence and gives power to conquer and deaden its passions; in short, it disposes the heart to seek to please only God with great purity of heart.

It will be very helpful to state clearly what must be done to fast well these forty days…Now, among all the conditions required for fasting well, I will select three principal ones and speak familiarly about them.

The first condition is that we must fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, whole-heartedly, universally and entirely.

[St. Bernard] says that fasting was instituted by Our Lord as a remedy for our mouth, for our gourmandizing and for our gluttony. Since sin entered the world through the mouth, the mouth must do penance by being deprived of foods prohibited and forbidden by the Church, abstaining from them for the space of forty days. But this glorious saint adds that, as it is not our mouth alone which has sinned, but also all our other senses, our fast must be general and entire, that is, all the members of our body must fast. For if we have offended God through the eyes, through the ears, through the tongue, and through our other senses, why should we not make them fast as well? And not only must we make the bodily senses fast, but also the soul's powers and passions -- yes, even the understanding, the memory, and the will, since we have sinned through both body and spirit.

How many sins have entered into the soul through the eyes, as Holy Scripture indicates? [1 In. 2:16]. That is why they must fast by keeping them lowered and not permitting them to look upon frivolous and unlawful objects; the ears, by depriving them of listening to vain talk which serves only to fill the mind with worldly images; the tongue, in not speaking idle words and those which savor of the world or the things of the world. We ought also to cut off useless thoughts, as well as vain memories and superfluous appetites and desires of our will. In short, we ought to hold in check all those things which keep us from loving or tending to the Sovereign Good. In this way interior fasting accompanies exterior fasting.

This is what the Church wishes to signify during this holy time of Lent, teaching us to make our eyes, our ears and our tongue fast. For this reason she omits all harmonious chants in order to mortify the hearing; she no longer says Alleluia, and clothes herself completely in somber and dark colors. And on this first day she addresses us in these words: Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return [Gen. 3:19], as if she meant to say: "Oh man, quit at this moment all joys and merrymaking, all joyful and pleasant reflections, and fill your memory with bitter, hard and sorrowful thoughts. In this way you will make your mind fast together with your body."

This is also what the Christians of the primitive Church taught us when, in order to spend Lent in a better way, they deprived themselves at this time of ordinary conversations with their friends, and withdrew into great solitude and places removed from communication with people. For the same reason, the ancient Fathers and the Christians of the year 400 or so were so careful to spend these forty days well that they were not satisfied with abstaining from prohibited meats, but even abstained from eggs, fish, milk and butter, and lived on herbs and roots alone. And not content with making their bodies fast in this manner, they made their minds and all the powers of the soul fast also. They placed sackcloth on their heads in order to learn to keep their eyes lowered. They sprinkled ashes on their heads as a sign of penitence. They withdrew into solitude to mortify the tongue and hearing, neither speaking nor hearing anything vain and useless. At that time they practiced great and austere penances by which they subjected their body and made all its members fast. They did all this with full liberty, neither forced nor constrained. Note how their fast was accomplished whole-heartedly and universally; for they understood very well that since not only the mouth has sinned, but also all the other senses of our bodies and powers of our soul, the passions and appetites are full of iniquities. It is thus reasonable that, in order to make our fast complete and meritorious, it should be universal, which is to say, practiced in both body and spirit. This is the first condition to be observed in order to fast well.

[The second and third conditions are addressed tomorrow.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fasting and Abstinence During Lent

Code of Canon Law: “All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.”  [Can. 1249]
Paul VI: “The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of ‘Magna Quadragesima’ (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rites. Their substantial observance binds gravely.” (Pænitemini, II-1)

What is ‘fasting’? What is ‘abstinence’?

Fasting: reduction in the amount of food consumed (e.g., only one full meal).

“The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing – as far as quantity and quality are concerned – approved local custom.” Pænitemini, III-1&2)

Abstinence: refraining altogether from partaking in an otherwise lawful practice (e.g., eating meat).

“The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat.” Pænitemini III-1 & 2
“Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, are allowed. Fish and all cold-blooded animals may be eaten, e.g., frogs, clams, turtles, etc.”.

Who must fast and abstain?

Fasting and abstinence are recommended by the Church for all the Faithful. Fasting and abstinence are obligatory for certain age groups and on certain days.  


Years of Age
Current discipline (1983 Code of Canon Law)
Former discipline (1917 Code of Canon Law)
No abstinence required.
“Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.” [Can. 1251]
No abstinence required, but age of exemption is restricted to 0-7 years.
Abstinence from meat[1],[2] on:
·    all Fridays[3]
·    Ash Wednesday
[Can. 1251]
Abstinence applies to those seven years old and older.
Abstinence from meat, or broth made of meat, required on:
·         all Fridays[4]
·         Ash Wednesday
·         Holy Saturday
·         Vigil of the Assumption of the BVM
·         Vigil of Christmas
‘Partial abstinence’ (meat permitted only at the principal meal) on:
·         all other weekdays of Lent (i.e., Monday through Thursday, and Saturday)
·         Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays
·         Vigil of Pentecost


Years of Age
Current discipline (1983 Code of Canon Law)
Former discipline (1917 Code of Canon Law)
No fasting required.  
“Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.” [Can. 1251]
No fasting required, but age of exemption is expanded to 0-21 years.
Required to fast on:
·         Ash Wednesday
·         Good Friday
Strongly encouraged to fast on:
·         all weekdays of Lent
·         Holy Saturday[5]
Fasting applies to those twenty-one years old to fifty-nine.
Required to fast on:
·         Ash Wednesday
·         every day of Lent, except Sundays[6]
·         Good Friday
·         Holy Saturday
·         Ember Days
·         Vigil of Pentecost
·         Vigil of Christmas

No fasting required.

[1] Or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference.
[2] The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (USA) in their pastoral statement of November 18, 1966 determined the following: “Catholics in the United States are obliged to abstain from the eating of meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during the season of Lent. They are also obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday. Self-imposed observance of fasting on all weekdays of Lent is strongly recommended. Abstinence from flesh meat on all Fridays of the year is especially recommended to individuals and to the Catholic community as a whole.”
[3] Unless a Solemnity should fall on a Friday.
[4] Except on holy days of obligation outside of Lent.
[5] “The paschal fast must be kept sacred. It should be celebrated everywhere on Good Friday, and where possible should be prolonged throughout Holy Saturday so that the faithful may attain the joys of the Sunday of the resurrection with uplifted and responsive minds.” Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), §109.
[6] Except also Class I feasts (e.g., St. Joseph – March 19; Annunciation of the Lord – March 25).