From a profile of the couple who’ve run RCIA for 25 years at St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, in the just-released January 2016 print edition the Catholic Telegraph:

“The most important thing we do upfront and realizes is — even the folks at Vatican II said — the Roman Catholic Church does not have a franchise on salvation.”

And here is what Vatican II actually says about salvation:

“Those men cannot be saved who, though aware that God through Jesus Christ founded the Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it or to persevere in it” (Ad Gentes Divinitus—Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, 7).

“For it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is ‘the all-embracing means of salvation,’ that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God” (Unitatis Redintegratio —Decree on Ecumenism, 3).

An extended discussion of the Church and salvation by Fr. Peter Stravinskas is here.


While browsing the website of the Cincinnati public library I came across a gem, the autobiography of Father Francis Finn. I ordered it into the Harrison branch and picked it up last week.

Many people know Father Finn from the childrens books he wrote. The Tom Playfair series were his most famous. He wrote many others including several set in Cincinnati in and around St. Xavier parish on Sycamore St. downtown.

He states “…I was, in 1901, put in charge of St. Xavier School, a position which I have held for twenty-seven years.”

Father Finn makes a statement early on in the book that sums up a feeling that my wife had instinctively from the time our children were very young and which I have, over the years, come wholeheartedly to agree with.

“Came a day, as movie writers would have it, when I learned to read. Along with this new gift came a period of sickness, and I buried myself in what books I could get. My beloved nurse Connie fell dangerously ill at this time. Having made her peace with God and convinced she was no longer for this world, she disposed of many of her belongings. To me she gave five or six books, among them “Fabiola,” by Cardinal Wiseman, “Scalp Hunters,” by Marion Leeds, and “Rosemary,” by Huntington.
Connie recovered, but I kept the books; and with reading “Fabiola” came a new period in my life. The beautiful story of those early Christian Martyrs had a profound influence on my life. Religion began to mean something to me. Since, the day of reading “Fabiola,” I have carried the conviction that one of the greatest things in the world is to get the right book into the hands of the right boy or girl. No one can indulge in reading to any extent without being largely influenced for better or for worse. Only yesterday, just before I took up these recollections, word came to me that a brilliant young man, an outstanding student of our college in Cincinnati, had lost the faith. I was more shocked than astonished. I had known the boy well and thought much of him. But I had also known that even in his callow youth he had read books against the faith, books dangerous to morals, and books of every kind provided they had some claims to literary merit. In a word, he had browsed without discriminating between the good and the poisonous. The result was as might have been expected.”

I would think in this day and age we could add movies, TV shows, music, video games and social media to the things we need to discriminate.

P.S. Another interesting tidbit of this is that Xavier students were losing their faith long before Father Overberg showed up on campus.

When the Men’s Group for your territorial parish openly advertises the following motto in the bulletin, you have a parish with a serious evangelization problem:

Intended to be social only – no philanthropic, religious, fraternal goals or objectives – simply an opportunity to meet other men in the parish.

For today’s feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Fr. Dwight Longenecker posts about a “theology of church architecture.” This bit got my attention:

Part of this pattern is the fact that the floor plan is linear–not round. Linear indicates a Christian theology of life. We are on a journey from A to Z from Alpha to Omega, from Baptism to Heaven. Round worship spaces are pagan and reflect a pagan belief in endless cycles of being etc etc.

In the 80s and 90s, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati couldn’t build saucer- or fan-shaped churches fast enough.

And disgraced former bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester did his best to “round-out” the cathedral by placing his butcher’s-block altar in the middle of the church.

Plummeting membership numbers have obviated both tendencies.

Read the rest of Fr. Longenecker’s post here.

“If you perform just one truly generous act for someone else your salvation is assured.”
— weekend celebrant at St. Mary of Hyde Park

It’s always great when you have a full-stop teaching moment during the homily at your territorial parish.

From the top …







There’s a priest downtown who makes a habit out of extravagantly extending his hands at Mass. So high does he reach them that you fear he might spin into a pirouette. Fr. Edward McNamara, the house liturgist for Zenit, takes up the question of what’s appropriate.

Here’s a snippet:

The extraordinary form is much more specific. As one popular ceremonies book describes the gesture at the collect: “While [the priest] says ‘oremus’ he extends the hands and joins them again, and he bows his head to the missal. Then he reads the collect, holding the hands uplifted — but not exceeding the height or width of the shoulders — and extended, the fingers held close together and bowing towards the missal should the name of the saint in whose honor the Mass is celebrated occur. When he says ‘Per Dominum nostrum’ etc., he joins his hands.”

While a priest celebrating the ordinary form may not be strictly bound to these exact norms, I would say that they do provide a good rule of thumb as to what the Church understands when it asks priests to pray with hands extended. These rules were not invented by some obscure 16th-century curial official but are rather the codification of an already existing custom that had developed over several centuries.

A priest could follow the above rule. However, since the post-conciliar liturgy deliberately left out a strict specification of the gesture, it is also legitimate to extend the hands a little further if he considers it appropriate. For example, some modern vestments tend to require a somewhat more ample gesture than the traditional Roman chasuble. The above rule, however, does caution against exaggerated gestures that tend to draw attention toward the celebrant himself and not the prayer he is reciting.


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