In the modern age, many of us Catholics are fed up with the weak papacy of Pope Francis and poor liturgical reform of the 60s. For many, it is so easy to look to Eastern Orthodoxy for help. They have had no major liturgical reform like the Roman Rite, and they have no universal head like the Pope to lead the entire Church into confusion as seen with Pope Francis’ repeatedly confusing encyclicals. However, we do not fix the Catholic Church by leaving her, and you do not leave Jesus because of Judas. To see why, we must look at why Orthodoxy is NOT the answer.
From the perspective of one who studies Historical Theology, the Catholic-Orthodox Schism in 1054 is one of the most detrimental events in modern history. No matter what side you view the Schism from, millions of Christians were separated from the True Church. For the 1.329 billion Catholics today, there are 220 million separated Christians with legitimate Apostolic Succession operating outside the authority of the Church, and vice versa for Orthodox Christians. To understand why this break happened, we must go much further back in history than 1054.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. This simple prayer has such a powerful meaning. Throughout history, the Jesus Prayer has been used for a variety of reasons, but it biggest purpose is to fulfill the Apostle Paul's call for unceasing prayer. This absolute beg for mercy becomes not only our prayer but even our breath as we begin to pray it constantly. There is nothing to learn, nothing hard to memorize, and no training needed; just the beauty and simplicity of a single sentence, a plea for mercy.
Disclaimer: This article will discuss the canonical status and licities of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). This article will not address the recent accusations of Church Militant against the SSPX, or their response.
When people think of the SSPX, they have many objections. They are called schismatics, sedevacantists, heretics, apostates, excommunicated, and every other canonical term possible with no basis. Here I wish to inform and discuss whether the SSPX sacraments are valid, licit, and whether we as faithful Catholics may attend their Masses. Many dismiss the Society as a whole due to the excommunication of the Superior General, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and subsequently the 4 bishops he consecrated, in 1988 when the Archbishop consecrated 4 bishops without the permission of Rome. Pope Saint John Paul II stated that the 5 had received an excommunication “latae sententiae” by the act of the consecration. These excommunications were lifted by Pope Benedict XVI on January 21, 2009, in a document which can be found here.
Today I wish to share with you 5 places that Seth and I see as great places to buy budget religious art. This list is in no particular order, but exists only to aid those who cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars on statues and icons to aid in prayer in a sacred space in their homes. [Disclaimer: This article contains a paid sponsorship]
In a time where many of us are living in fear, especially the fear of death, I wish to share with you a sermon given by an amazing priest, Fr. Royce V. Gregerson. He studied at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and holds a License in Sacred Theology with an emphasis in moral theology. This sermon reminds us not to fear death and run from it, but rather to confront death head on and remember the reality of Hell and implore God's mercy for us and our salvation.
"It is good to think, from time to time, about death. We do not, I propose, think much about death. We fear it, mourn it, and perhaps even long for it. But rarely do we think about it. Why, we ought to ask, does death exist in the first place?
I am of the opinion that we could learn much from the Eastern lung of the Church. One of my favorite devotions from the Byzantine Rite of the Church is the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian. This simple prayer is a great aid to our Lenten devotions and I recommend praying it as part of your morning offering.
St. Ephrem lived from about 306 to 373 A.D. He was a Monastic Deacon and composed over four hundred hymns. Today he is revered as one of the fathers of monasticism and much of the Syriac tradition. In 1920, Pope Benedict XV declared St. Ephrem a Doctor of the Church.
For many, the sad reality is that they do not have access to the Traditional Latin Mass or a reverent Eastern Divine Liturgy. For those people who long for the beauty of the traditional liturgies of the Catholic Church but cannot attend, there are many ways that the Novus Ordo can be beautiful as well. Here I will discuss some of the ways that both Priests and laymen can enhance the Novus Ordo in accordance with the will of the Holy Father in the Motu Proprio, Summuorum Pontificum. Many of these changes must be brought about by the priest, but without the first push of the laity, no priest will be willing to make the change.
The first and most obvious enhancement for the Novus Ordo, would be to celebrate the Mass in the preferred orientation of the Church, Ad Orientem. If you would like to learn more about this orientation of liturgy, please check out my article on the topic, To The East. This is truly the orientation preferred by the Church, and it is apparent if one takes a simple look at the altar missal. Each time the priest addresses the people, the missal tells the priest to do so while “Turning to face the people.” This facing Ad Orientem fosters a sense of reverence for the priest as well as the people. It helps the priest focus on the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass, instead of on the relationship between him and the people.
In this first week of Septuagesima, I wish to share with you a few devotional books which could be great assistants to prayer for the upcoming Lenten season.
The Divine Office
This is the Church's official liturgical prayer, and is prayed by all priests, deacons, and religious of the Roman Rite. I personally pray the Divine Office using the 1961 Diurnale Romanum. This is the “Daytime” hours of the 1961 Breviary. This includes all hours of the day, except Matins, the equivalent to the modern Office of Readings. If you like Matins, you can pick up a full copy of the 1961 Breviarium Romanum. If you still prefer prayers in English, you can pray the highly revised Liturgy of the Hours. These all exist to fulfill St. Paul’s idea of praying unceasingly. The “hours” coincide with times of the day so your day can be filled with prayer. Even if you only can pray Lauds and Compline, that is, Morning and Night prayer, I promise the recitation of the Divine Office will be an amazing aide to your Lenten prayer routine.
Lately I have seen many people attempting to object communion on the tongue in favor of communion in the hand. Here I will respond to these objections to the best of my ability:
One of the most prominent objections to communion on the tongue is the idea that it is somehow more unsanitary compared to communion in the hand. This argument is flawed at very basic levels. When communion is received in the hand, the Sacred Host touches the fingertips of the priest, where it has the potential to pick up germs, then the hand of the communicant, where it has a higher potential to pick up germs due to an increased surface area, and then the fingertips of the communicant before it is received. If Holy Communion is received on the tongue, only the tips of the priest’s fingers touch the Host before it is received, and therefore has a much lower chance of passing on germs.