Friday, June 19, 2020

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Another of the "not-so-ordinary" days in Ordinal Time!

Remember too, when a solemnity falls on a Friday - there is no fasting or abstinence, so have that cheeseburger without guilt today! Just remember WHY you can have that cheeseburger today! If someone who knows you and knows you typically abstain from meat on Fridays asks you why you are having that cheeseburger, it gives you an opportunity to share just a little more of your faith with them.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Anything But Ordinary

We often hear this period after the Feast of Pentecost referred to as "Ordinary Time." I believe this label, though technically accurate, does the season - and the Church - a huge injustice. The term "ordinary" comes from the same root as "ordinal" which refers to "counting," in fact traditionally this period, as well as the weeks which follow the Feast of the Epiphany, is called an "Ordinal Time" because these are the "counting weeks" after Pentecost, before Advent (and Epiphany, before Lent). There are several very important feast days which take place during ordinal or counting time...
  • Trinity Sunday (June 7, this year - varies due to date of Easter)
  • June 24 - Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
  • June 29 - Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul
  • August 15 - Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a holy day of obligation!)
  • November 1 - All Saints Day (a holy day of obligation)
  • November 2 - The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day)
  • November 25 - Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Christ the King)
To call this period "Ordinary Time" makes it sound so "plain" or "boring" as the common use of "ordinary" implies. So will you join me in this movement to return to calling this "Ordinal Time?" If enough of us do so, perhaps the bishops will join us in seeing the wisdom of the more precise terminology. Feel free to use the image in this post and copy it to your blog and/or Facebook cover - or make your own! Please use one of the "share" buttons below this posting to share with others!
Use this link: to see previous postings on this subject.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Physical - Not Social Distancing

I stumbled across the Hour of Power broadcast last week and heard the Rev. Bobby Schuller (grandson of Robert H. Schuller, of the same Hour of Power). My father loved watching Robert Schuller and always wanted to go see the Crystal Cathedral, sadly - he never made it there. The Crystal Cathedral is now Christ Cathedral - an actual cathedral of the Catholic Church for the Diocese of Orange in California (Christ Cathedral, 2020). Ironically, when Bobby Schuller moved from the Crystal Cathedral to Shepherd's Grove, it is located in a former Catholic church called St. Callistus (CBN, 2020).

But I digress... I stumbled across Rev. Bobby Schuller's Easter sermon and was struck by him making the distinction between social distancing and physical distancing. The message is that we need to continue to be socially close to each other - while in this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, we need to practice physical distancing to help stop the spread of this virus.

Schuller Is Not Alone

Since hearing Schuller's sermon I did a little research, and he is not the only one making this distinction. Dr. Joe Kort made virtually the same claim stating "We have to stay socially connected through this (COVID-19 pandemic)." He continues:
We can stay in connection with each other on the phone, webcam, and many other online formats. Now is a time to be intentional and interactive and not to isolate. We are wired to be social and luckily can maintain that with technology. (Kort, 2020).
Anderson reports that even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is changing its terminology to physical distancing instead of social distancing (Anderson, 2020). Continuing, "social distancing implies not socializing; physical distance mans not being physically close."

In another report it is stated that "social distancing is a misnomer." This article continues, "While we must be physically distant, it is crucial we maintain, or even increase, social contact with others during this unprecedented time" (Greenaway, Saeri, & Cruwys, 2020).

Not Just For COVID-19

The concepts of frequent hand-washing and physical distancing we have all been a party to for the past several weeks are and have long been the recommendations to help stop the spread of any virus or other infectious disease. Every year we encounter the seasonal flu, which mutates from year to year. We have figured out how to make vaccines for the flu, but since it mutates, each year we need a different vaccine. Thus far there is no vaccine for COVID-19, but it is expected we will see one later this year, or perhaps next year. The point though is during flu season and presumably, now we may see a COVID season, frequent hand hygiene and physical distancing should be and should have been the norm. Keep in mind, thus far the most recent seasonal flu (for which we have and widely distribute a vaccination) has killed more in the United States (and the world) than COVID-19 has and since it is a new virus there is no vaccine for it (Maragakis, 2020). So again, good hygiene and physical distancing is something we should constantly be practicing. Welcome to the new normal.


Anderson, J. (2020). Social distancing isn't the right language for what Covid-19 asks of us. Quartz. Retrieved from

CBN, (2020). Bobby Schuller helps you find happiness through Jesus. The 700 Club. Retrieved from

Christ Cathedral, (2020). About Christ Cathedral. Diocese of Orange. Retrieved from

Greenaway, K.H., Saeri, A., & Cruwys, T. (2020). Why are we calling it 'social distancing'? Right now, we need social connections more than ever. The Conversation. Retrieved from

Kort, J. (2020). Practice physical distancing, not social distancing; How to cope with the coronavirus quarantine. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Maragakis, L. (2020). Coronavirus disease 2019 vs. the flu. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Jewish Festivals

I was just viewing a Bible study online with Fr. Bill Halbing which brought back memories of the Jewish Studies course my wife and I took several years ago with Rabbi Perlmutter. One thing which caught my eye, which I didn't quite get from the previous course we took, comes from the three main feasts in Judaism:

Pasach - or Passover - coincides with Good Friday.
Pentecost - In Christianity we use the same name - coincides with Christ going into Heaven.
Sukkoth - Feast of huts, or tents - the harvest - coincides with Christ's second coming.

Fr. Halbing then points out - these refer to "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." Something which is proclaimed in the Ordinary Rite just after the Mystery of Faith which is the Consecration of the Eucharist. It is good to remind everyone, the Mystery of Faith is NOT "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again," for those are two statements of history and one of prophecy and there is no real mystery here. The Mystery of Faith, in the context of the Mass, is the Consecration of the Eucharist where mere bread and wine are substantially transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ - THAT is the Mystery of Faith! But, to reiterate Fr. Halbing's point - that which is professed during the Ordinary Rite of the Mass comes to us from our Jewish heritage.

I have not finished this online Bible study yet myself, but thus far I am finding it quite interesting. If you are interested, I am including the video (and a link) below.

Fr. Halbing also does live Zoom meetings on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You can find more information here: 

Holy Thursday

The evening begins with a humble foot washing and before it is over, Jesus stands before Caiphus.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Why Is This Week Different From the Rest?

Ma Nishtana

Traditionally, during the Passover Seder, the youngest (capable) son asks, "Why is this day different from all the rest?"  Our tradition should be to ask, "Why is this week different from all the rest?"

In the Hebrew tradition, the reading of the Torah in preparation for Passover, the Ma Nishtana is one of 4 (or 3, depending on the tradition) questions asked by the youngest male child. It is a way of involving the children in the lessons/readings for this season - a great lesson we can all learn to help involve our children.

Four Questions

In light of the Hebrew Mishna tradition (Pesachim 10.4) we should have our youngest child ask four questions to reflect upon the events of Holy Thursday.
1) Why is this week different from all the rest?
2) Why does Jesus wash the feet of the Apostles?
3) What happens to the bread and wine?
4) Why is Jesus arrested on this night?

We are taken from the height of praise, singing "Hosanna in the highest!" to the lowest of lows when our Lord is betrayed by one He Himself selected. He is beaten, scourged, forced to carry His Cross, crucified, died and was buried. Oh the grief! Oh the pain! Oh the suffering! Oh that the week would end here!  But while that week ends with Jesus in the grave - the next week brings the Resurrection!

On Holy or Maundy Thursday, we celebrate the First Mass as Jesus Christ celebrated it nearly 2000 years ago on this day. Traditionally, after the sermon the priest in alter christos, washes the feet of twelve men, representing the Twelve Apostles. Then comes the Lord's Supper - the first celebration of the Eucharist. It is that SAME Sacrifice we celebrate today and at EVERY Mass. It is not a repeat of the first - it is that SAME Sacrifice - re-presented for us, just as Christ presented to the Apostles on the same night in which He was betrayed.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Passion Sunday - Purple Veils

Today is Passion Sunday (in the Extraordinary Rite) - only two weeks remain of Lent. So why do we veil images and statues starting on Passion Sunday? You can find a few explanations, but the one I like is that Jesus hid Himself from the Jews who sought to stone Him, and left the Temple. This is the beginning of Passiontide - a season (sadly) no longer observed in the Ordinary Rite, but in the Extraordinary Rite, it still is. Pictures of Jesus, the Saints, etc. are hidden from us for these last two weeks which increases in us the hunger for Christ and holiness. The veils are a reminder of the fact that Jesus had to hide Himself and so His image is hidden from us too and remain hidden until during the Gloria, which has also been omitted during Lent, of the First Mass of Easter. During the Gloria, the veils are removed the bells ring (which were silenced after Holy Thursday) and we again can look upon Him and His holiness, as also revealed through the Saints (which again, were also veiled for Passiontide).

This excellent tradition of veiling holy items is not just for the Church, but also in the homes of the laity. What a wonderful visual and lesson for our children! If you have not participated in this before, I urge you to do so - now! If you do not have purple cloths, plan to get some - but go ahead and cover with whatever you do have now, change it to purple when you have it. When your children ask about it, you can share the reasoning. As the two weeks progress, they too may begin to miss seeing these images and statues and given another reason to be joyful on Easter Sunday - another reminder that He IS risen!

In the Ordinary Rite, Passion Sunday was moved to and combined with Palm Sunday, liturgically speaking. Again I urge you to keep the tradition of Passion Sunday (there is no rule against doing so!) and not detract from Palm Sunday - when Jesus was honored upon His entrance to Jerusalem which ultimately begins Holy Week, the holiest week in the liturgical year.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Laetare Sunday - 4th Sunday of Lent

Today the vestments are in rose (not pink) to celebrate the joy of seeing our Lord. We are twenty-one days from the glorious celebration of Easter Sunday.

The Gospel reading includes the healing of a man born blind - who sees for the first time and pronounces his belief in the Son of Man - Jesus Christ. Let us all be joyful in seeing the Lord and not be afraid to witness to others, as the man healed of blindness did not fear standing before the Pharisees, even after they had rebuked him.

COVID-19 Considerations
Today, due to mandates to observe social distancing we were encouraged to watch the Mass on TV or on the Internet. Which I did. I watched a couple Masses actually, and I will not name them here in public but was a bit disturbed to see that people were standing (and sitting) right next to each other and at the Kiss of Peace they shook hands with each other, the second Mass I watched did not show the congregation, but the priest and deacon shook hands and embraced. At both Masses the Eucharist was given as the host only, the Precious Blood was reserved for the priest and deacon alone.

A third Mass I watched, celebrated by a bishop, the Kiss of Peace was not physically done at all, "The peace of the Lord be with you always..." and then he moved on with the Agnus Dei. This one did not show the distribution of the Eucharist at all.

Many bishops have already temporarily lifted the Sunday obligation - so check with your local diocese to see if you are among them.

God be with us in these trying times.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Third Sunday of Lent

This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Lent. In the Extraordinary Rite we read about Jesus casting out the devil from the dumb man. Traditionally this was a day of testing of the catechumens in preparation for their baptism on Easter Vigil. The first effect of baptism is to free souls from the power of the devil.

One site I read this week encourages everyone to offer up as a Lenten sacrifice to only purchase that which is absolutely needed. In this week of media driven panic people are rushing to stores and hoarding things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer - leaving the shelves empty for others who still need these items while they now have an over-abundance.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

First Sunday of Lent

First Sunday of Lent

Lent began last Wednesday, which of course was Ash Wednesday. It is traditional to do penance during Lent, or "give up something" for Lent. While this practice is not a requirement, it is a very pious and can be very healthy, both spiritually and physically - depending on what you "gave up." So, how are you doing so far? I know, it has been less that a week, but sometimes those first few days are the hardest. Be of good cheer! Even if you "messed up" already, don't give up! Remember, it is not a requirement - and remember WHY you are doing it!

Why Do We Do Penance for Lent?

Simply stated, Jesus did a forty (40) day penance (fasting) prior to Palm Sunday. He knew what the next week (Holy Week, as we now call it) would hold in store for Him. We all know what He went through - FOR US - so remembering not only the forty days Jesus "offered up" - but also His Passion and death on the Cross, THIS is why we have "offered up" a small sacrifice, or penance, for the forty days of Lent. Each time we would have had that cup of coffee or drank that soda or ate that chocolate or ate that red meat, etc. we should bring our thoughts, even if just for a moment, upon the penance and suffering Christ went through on our behalf. When you would have had that donut at breakfast time just say "Thank you, Jesus!" and do or have something else. 

No Meat on Fridays!

Yes, no meat at all on Fridays during Lent (Ash Wednesday too but that has past now). This penance (something offered up) is a practice which ALL Catholics MUST do during Lent. Keeping in mind, ALL Fridays throughout the year we are still required to do penance (or an act of charity) and prior to 1966 that Friday penance HAD to be abstinence from meat. Now it doesn't HAVE to be meat, but it has to be SOMETHING and while it doesn't HAVE to be meat, it CAN be! So, if you HAVE to do something on EVERY FRIDAY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, why not hold to the traditional penance of abstaining from meat? As mentioned earlier, it CAN be an act of charity, but one should exercise caution in selecting this because it is not something you do every-so-often, but EVERY Friday. Say your act of charity is to visit a nursing home and talk with the residents, fine, but be sure you do it EVERY FRIDAY! "For every Friday is like a "little Good Friday." If you're not being consistent with what you choose - then are you really picking something which you will offer up ALL Fridays throughout the year?

Is There an Exception to the Every Friday Rule?

Yes! IF a solemnity falls on a Friday then there is no fasting or abstinence requirement for a solemnity is like a Sunday, which is a celebratory day in remembrance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every Sunday is like a "little Easter," Likewise, whatever it is you have offered up for Lent you do not need to offer it up on Sundays (and shouldn't) because in celebrating your "little Easter" every week you should not be suffering.

Have a Great Lent!

Our Eastern brethren begin Lent last Sunday (they don''t do Ash Wednesday) and their Lenten penance is far more strict than typically observed in the Latin Church, (giving up meat, dairy, and eggs for ALL days of Lent, not just Fridays). For all Christians, please have a great Lent and remember WHY we "offer up" what we do during this season.


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ash Wednesday

‘Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.’

‘Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.’

On this day, the first day of Lent, we meditate upon who we are and what we are. We are nothing more than created elements of this earth sustained together by God. Our bodies came from the earth and to the earth, they shall return. That speaks of the physical body - not of the soul. The soul is eternal and after this life, the soul is judged and will spend eternity with God - or eternity without God. The latter is the state of hell, where those who refuse His redemptive gift will spend eternity, weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 22:13).

The ashes represent our mortality, and the dust we shall return to. They are a sign of penance and mourning. We mourn not for our pain and suffering, but for the pain and suffering which Jesus underwent for us during His passion and death. It is because of this passion and death that Jesus paid the price of our redemption and we can then rejoice with Him and the angels in eternity - IF - we believe in Him and confess Him among our neighbors. The penitential rite of wearing the ashes for the day of Ash Wednesday is one of those ways we confess Him before others. The ashes are a reminder of our death - and remind us to be ready for that death.

Offer up something for Lent that will continue to remind you of Jesus and the 40 days He spent fasting in the desert before He entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and then the suffering of Passion Week which culminates on Good Friday with His death on the Cross and burial in the tomb.

Also, remember - Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout Lent are days of fasting and abstinence from meat. NO MEAT and only ONE full meal for the day plus two smaller meals which if combined do not equal a full meal. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Cheesefare Sunday

Well, for the Orthodox this year Cheesefare Sunday or Forgiveness Sunday is not until March 1st, but in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, since their Lent aligns with the Latin Church, TODAY is Cheesefare Sunday!

What IS Cheesefare Sunday?

Cheesefare Sunday is the culmination of Cheesefare Week, which is the last week before Lent begins and for those who celebrate Great Lent (Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox), this is the last day to partake in dairy products, meat, and eggs until the Pascha - Easter Sunday. The Monday after Cheesefare Sunday then begins Lent for Eastern Catholics.

Forgiveness Sunday

Another name for Cheesefare Sunday is Forgiveness Sunday. On this Sunday at the end of Divine Liturgy, the congregation lines up to go before the priest and they ask the priest for forgiveness of their sins and he says "May the Lord forgive you" then he asks each member of the congregation for forgiveness and they, one at a time, ask the Lord to forgive the priest his sins too. In this way it symbolizes starting Lent with a clean slate.

Do not then, confront your neighbor in judgment - rather do so in a spirit of forgiveness. Especially during Lent - let your confrontations be in the spirit of love and charity - and not in judgment of one another. This sentiment is not just for Lent!

Adam and Eve Cast Out of the Garden

One of the themes for Forgiveness Sunday is the casting our of Eden of Adam and Eve, but the focus, rather than on their sin, is upon their reconciliation to and through Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Bp Barron on Hell

OK, I threw my hat into the ring on this discussion recently on Twitter, actually, the first time I did so was here on this blog back in January of 2014. Some have been very aggressively attacking Bp. Barron's statement of "hope" that hell could be empty - and back in 2014, I was among them.  Scripture even tells us that God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 3:3-4) and that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

What did Bp. (then Fr.) Barron say which is so controversial now? From the Word On Fire website:
Bishop Barron is convinced we have a “reasonable hope” that all will be saved. But the first step in assessing and critiquing a view is to understand the terms of the view as its proponent is using them. It’s important to note how Bishop Barron is using those two words in this context (“reasonable” and “hope”).
First, he means reasonable in the sense that we have good reasons to ground our hope—namely, the cross and Resurrection of Jesus and his divine mercy. He isn’t making any sort of probabilistic judgment, as if to say reasonable means “very likely” or “quite probable.”
Second, we should recognize hope to mean a deep desire and longing, tied to love, for the salvation of all people, but without knowing all will be saved, thinking all will be saved, or even expecting all will be saved.
Bishop Barron does not hold any of these alternative views. He does not know all will be saved, he does not think all will be saved, and he does not expect all to be saved   (emphasis added).
That last line summarizes Bp. Barron's position. 

I would posit to Bp. Barron a question: "Is it scandalous to express hope and even encourage a position which has undertones of apocatastics?" Bp. Barron's position is evoking scandalous attacks upon him from Catholics who are defending the Catholic faith. Therein lie the sadness and irony.

Before (or if ever) one goes public in criticizing a bishop, by name, they should attempt to have other bishops consult the allegedly errant bishop in private - or even write to the successor of St. Peter and ask him to intervene. The problem with publicly criticizing a bishop is that it can be scandalous in not respecting the office. I'm sure those criticizing are arguing that it is more important to expose error than it is to respect the office. To that, I would disagree. Two wrongs do not make a right. If we wish to attack that which we perceive to be error - then we should do our best to charitably explain why we believe such a statement is in error - without naming names. All the while, even though confronting a perceived erroneous statement or position - we must respect the office of a bishop and to not do so brings scandal upon ourselves and any such scandal may do more harm to the Church as a whole than whatever good may come from exposing error. Expose the error but let the man (or woman) face God and his/her confessor.