I serendipitously happened to read this passage from H.V. Morton’s A Traveller in Rome this week on the eve of St. John Leonardi’s feast day:

Upon a table in the library I saw an exquisite little birdcage made of silver and gilded wood in the form of a baroque shrine. It is one of the dove cages used in 1935 at the canonization of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. It took me back to the scene in St. Peter’s about twenty years ago, when Andrea Bobola, John Leonardi, and Salvatore da Horta were canonized. During the Mass of Canonization, I heard the sound of birds chirping, and the cooing of doves, and saw a procession of monks and men in black court dress walk up the nave of St. Peter’s carrying little gilded cages, also small silver and gold barrels of wine and loaves of bread on a golden tray. There was silence in the church except for the cooing of the doves, as the Postulants, or advocates for the new saints, knelt before the Pope’s chair and made their offerings. Three times the cages full of bright chirpings were held up to the Pope, once for each of the three new saints, and the Pope leaned forward and blessed the birds as they put their heads on one side and gazed up into the blaze of light. There is no moment in any ceremony more beautiful than this, a relic of the offerings of bread and wine made in the primitive Church, the birds symbolic of the purity and celestial nature of the sacrifice.

Does anyone know if this ceremony is still part of the canonization Mass?

Bishop Thomas Olmsted issues an exhortation — a call to arms, really — to Catholic men on their mission in the Church and to society.

Here’s his stated purpose:

I offer this Exhortation as an encouragement, a challenge, and a calling forth to mission for every willing man in the Diocese of Phoenix: priests and deacons, husbands, fathers and sons, grandfathers and widowers, young men in preparation for your vocation – that is, each and every man. With this Exhortation, I want to clarify for you the nature of this mission from Christ, for which I will rely on the clear guidance of the Holy Scriptures, the Magisterium of the Church, and the example of the saints.

In this Exhortation, I will address three primary questions:

1. What does it mean to be a Christian man?

2. How does a Catholic man love?

3. Why is fatherhood, fully understood, so crucial for every man?

I sent the PDF to my Kindle and look forward to reading it this weekend. It looks like just what the doctor — the Divine Physician — ordered for these confused times.

The Diocese of Phoenix has even launched a promotional video:

The Catholic Telegraph‘s report on our local congressional delegation’s reaction to Pope Francis’s speech to Congress includes this humorous aside:

“It was kind of interesting to hear a pope talk about Abraham Lincoln,” Rep. Chabot said, laughingly admitting that some of his colleagues misheard the pope. “I had guys there saying, ‘Did he say Doris Day?!’ I said, ‘I mean, I’m sure she was a fine American. I don’t think she’d be one of four Americans for the pope to single out,’” he said. “Although she was from Cincinnati, I think. That would have been nice.”

Since he took the helm at Cincinnati’s St. Gertrude parish, home to a Dominican priory for the Province of St. Joseph, pastor André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., has written a series of short catechisms on a variety of contentious topics for the weekly bulletin. His latest from over the weekend concerns cremation, which many Catholics believe is now as legitimate as Christian burial. As Fr. LaCasse shows, that just ain’t so. Here’s his summary of his catechism:

It is very important that the Catholic faithful understand all the points above:

  • The Church still prefers the burial of the body over cremation.
  • It is recommended that cremation should take place after the funeral Mass. Only under “extraordinary circumstances” should cremation take place before the funeral Mass.
  • Plans should be made for the cremated remains to be buried in a grave in a reasonable amount of time if the interment does not take place immediately after the Mass.
  • Scattering cremated remains is not reverent disposition.
  • The Church requires that the cremated remains be interred.

(It’s been so long since I posted here that I forgot for a moment how to do it.)

Earlier this month for the umpteenth time, and obviously with no fear of correction or censure from either his superior or the local ordinary, Kenneth Overberg, S.J., denied the salvific action of Christ on the cross at Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel.

(When you deny that His suffering was part of the divine plan, that’s what you’re saying.)

Before we hear God’s word, it may be helpful to recall that we don’t have to believe that God sent Jesus to suffer for us. His early followers had to deal with the fact of his terrible execution. Like many of us when we face suffering, they asked WHY? So they searched their Scriptures to find light to help interpret their experience.

In the Psalms, in the Suffering Servant passages, and in other texts of the Hebrew Scriptures they did find passages that colored and shaped their own stories (as in today’s gospel). Not all interpretation, however, and certainly not all pieties have faithfully reflected the God revealed by Jesus. This God is a God of life and love, of compassion and justice and nonviolence. In no way could this God demand the suffering, torture and death of Jesus. The Powers did that – and still do. Faithful disciples face the cross in the dramatic and in the ordinary. The God of Jesus surely does not desire this, but instead leads us as individuals and as community in resisting evil.

With this in mind, let’s listen to God’s word!

You have to love the cheery note of excitement that wraps up Overberg’s heresy. In any event, questions 118 forward in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church provide what the Church teaches on the topic.

(And the Compendium is still authoritative, even in the doctrinally confused Age of Francis.)

118. Why was the death of Jesus part of God’s plan?

To reconcile to himself all who were destined to die because of sin God took the loving initiative of sending his Son that he might give himself up for sinners. Proclaimed in the Old Testament, especially as the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant, the death of Jesus came about “in accordance with the Scriptures”

I realize I’m a broken record on this topic, but I’m noting these abuses here to provide documentation in the event that someone in a position of authority decides to do something about it.

In the latest homily from Ken Overberg, S.J. at Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel, I learned that Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, “the Bread of Life” chapter, isn’t “first of all” about the Eucharist but about the identify of Jesus (both/and, Ken!) and that St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians “was not written by Paul.” Regarding his second assertion, Overberg is frequently at pains to … “de-authorize” the writers of the New Testament and project its literary origins onto the believing community or later figures. By his way of thinking, if the “believing community” of the first or second century actually wrote the Gospels and Epistles, then the believing community of the 21st century is free to interpret them. (Or at least some members of the modern believing community — progressives like himself, not those conservative nasties.) In any event, over at the website for the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, whose terrific series on the books of the New Testament is jam-packed with up-to-date scholarship and history, scholar Peter Williamson makes a solid case for St. Paul’s authorship of Ephesians. Here’s a snippet:

The “external evidence” in favor of Paul’s authorship of Ephesians—that is, the testimony of the manuscript tradition and of ancient authors—is as strong as that of any of Paul’s undisputed letters. Ephesians appears in all the ancient collections of Paul’s writings, including those that omit the Apostle’s letters to individuals (1–2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). It is true that the Letter to the Hebrews, an anonymous work, is often also included in these collections, but from Origen on, many ancient authorities challenged the view that Hebrews was authored by Paul, while the Pauline authorship of Ephesians was never questioned.

Last Friday in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to impose same-sex marriage on the fifty states, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati issued a statement condemning it. Since I haven’t seen it posted elsewhere, I thought I’d post it here:


Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, made the following comment on today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr today made the following statement:

“Under the false banner of ‘marriage equality,’ the United State Supreme Court today redefined marriage by judicial fiat. In so doing, it has disregarded not only the clearly expressed will of the electorate in Ohio and other states, but also an understanding of marriage that was shared by virtually all cultures – secular as well as religious – until recently.

“Every nation has laws limiting who and under what circumstances people can be married. This is because lawmakers have always understood that marriage does not exist just for the mutual satisfaction of the two people involved but for the betterment of society. Traditional marriage is the cradle of the family, the basic building block of society. As Pope Francis has reminded us, every child has a right to be raised by two parents, a father and a mother. Both parents are important, and they are not interchangeable. The sad reality that so many children are deprived of this right because of the crisis in traditional marriage does not make it any less important. It is deeply disappointing and worrisome that our courts do not understand this.

“Although the decision is disappointing, it is undeniable that families headed by same-sex couples are growing in number and visibility. These families deserve everyone’s love, respect, compassion, sensitivity and, where appropriate, pastoral care from the Church.”

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 38th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with almost 500,000 Catholics, and has the sixth largest network of Catholic schools in terms of enrollment. The 19-county territory includes 212 parishes and 111 Catholic primary and secondary schools.

As with most archdiocesan things, the statement is a mixed bag. While the clear condemnation of the ruling coupled with a short catechesis on marriage is praiseworthy, it isn’t at all clear how the local church is to provide “pastoral care” to a “growing” number of “families headed by same-sex couples.” And given the still considerable number of malcontents in our presbyterate, that paragraph will likely be the source of mischief. For a less ambiguous response, see the statement from Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler (Texas), which he has instructed his priests to read at Masses this weekend.


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