Monday, December 21, 2009

Tis the Season


Two wonderful people have generously donated checks ($500 each) to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy to help defray expenses of our upcoming international conference in Rome, January 4th - 8th, 2010, in celebration of the YEAR FOR PRIESTSIf anyone is still in the giving mood and ability, we are still accepting any and all gifts and donations for this historic event. For the first time ever, Catholic clergy from Australia, United States, Canada, Ireland and Great Britain are gathering together under one banner to study, pray, discuss and celebrate the PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST. More than 80 clerics from English speaking countries are making pilgrimage to the Eternal City to foster ongoing spiritual, theological and pastoral formation in a fraternal setting. The American and the Australian CCC have a combined registered membership of over 1,000 ordained men who publicly profess their loyalty to the Roman Pontiff and their total obedience to the Magisterium under the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Clergy and Mother of Priests. PLEASE KEEP ALL OF US IN YOUR PRAYERS THE WEEK OF JAN. 4th and we shall do likewise.

If any of my brother priests and deacons from the CCC would like to march together under the banner of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy on January 22nd, at the March for Life in Washington, DC, please email me so we can decide where to meet. I know many priests accompany their parishes or schools but just in case there are some floaters out there, hopefully we can connect before the rally moves up the boulevard toward the Supreme Court.

for more info, contact

Fr John Trigilio, Jr

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Veni Veni Emmanuel


As Advent continues, the Diocese of Harrisburg had the annual Advent Prayer Service for Clergy today from 10 am - 3 pm.  Msgr. Mulligan of the Diocese of Allentown was the presenter followed by Liturgy of the Hours and lunch and time for confessions.

Next Wednesday, December 16th, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy will have its monthly meeting at 2:30 pm at Mount Saint Mary Seminary, Emmittsburg, MD. Father Ron Gillis of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei is speaking, followed by Eucharistic Holy Hour, Confessions, Vespers, and dinner for those who wish it.  OPEN TO ALL CATHOLIC CLERGY IN GOOD STANDING.

Ongoing spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation of the clergy is the goal of this national association of priests and deacons. Meeting once a month for a morning or afternoon to pray in common, read theological journals, papal encyclicals and magisterial writings all done in a fraternal setting. The other component is our national convocation which meets in Rome January 4th - 8th during the YEAR FOR PRIESTS.

Please pray for us.

Father John Trigilio

Monday, November 30, 2009


During this YEAR FOR PRIESTS, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (a national association of priests and deacons seeking to promote ongoing spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation of its members in a fraternal setting) asks for your assistance. First and foremost, we ask for your PRAYERS. Secondly, we could use any financial assistance you are able to provide.

During this YEAR FOR PRIESTS, please consider the following suggestions:

1. In honor of the institution of Holy Orders on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper, make a Eucharistic Holy Hour before a tabernacle or exposed Blessed Sacrament on one Thursday every month. During that hour, pray for all the priests who have been helpful to you and pray for the mediocre and bad ones who have not that they would repent and become better priests before it is too late.

2. On every Thursday (except Solemnities) voluntarily abstain from meat OR fast (one full meal for the day with two smaller ones) and offer up that mortification for the sanctification of all priests, for future priests (seminarians), for sick and infirm priests, for suffering priests, and for the perseverance of good priests to continue.

3. IF POSSIBLE, consider sponsoring a priest or at least make a donation to the CCC to help defray the costs of our upcoming conference in Rome. We are gathering January 4th - 8th, 2010 with our compatriots from the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and a few priests from Britain and Ireland as well. Each member pays his own airfare and conference fees but combined those costs can easily add up to $2,000. Your generous gift can help a priest or deacon who otherwise might not be able to afford this once in a lifetime experience. We also need to offset some of our expenses, so any and all donations are greatly appreciated. Please email me if you are interested and able to proved any financial assistance. (

4. PLEASE make an effort to pray a rosary and divine mercy chaplet each day during our conference (January 4th to 8th, 2010). Your prayers and the powerful intercession of Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy and Mother of Priests, will be our greatest asset during this YEAR FOR PRIESTS.

Yes, we know that some of our colleagues have not behaved as they should have nor have they taught or preached with clarity and in conformity to the Catechism. Some have debased the Holy Mass into a personality cult or have diluted it into a pedestrian and banal performance rather than a supreme act of divine worship and Holy Sacrifice. While it is easy to identify the recalcitrant miscreants, it is nevertheless imperative that the faithful clergy be encouraged and supported since often they are the most maligned, attacked, persecuted and criticized by diocesan bureaucrats and ecclesiastical sycophants. We NEED YOU, our beloved faithful laity and religious, to pray for us and to support us every way possible. The heterodox dissidents who violate Ex Corde Ecclesiae have more power and influence in the press and with a handful of those higher up in the clerical food chain often appear to be in control but they are the minority and are becoming an endangered species. Newly ordained and those of us JP2 clergy have seen the abuses of the 'spirit of Vatican II' while we are cognizant of the actual content of the real 'documents of Vatican II'. Older and middle aged priests and deacons, though, are also realizing the deception foisted upon them by a few self-anointed experts who distorted the words of Vatican II and manipulated the spirit to promote their own agenda. John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI have ushered a real Renaissance in the Church where LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI, LEX VIVENDI is restored in all its fullness. Reverent worship + orthodox teaching + holy living is the guaranteed formula for personal sanctity and eternal happiness.

IF nothing else, please say at least one Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be every Thursday during this YEAR FOR PRIESTS so that all us priests can become BETTER priests so we can BETTER serve Almighty God, Holy Mother Church and the People of God.

Father John Trigilio, Jr.
Confraternity of Catholic Clergy
121 William St
Marysville, PA 17053

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Grazie; Danke; Gracias; Domo; Merci; Dziękuję

As our nation celebrates THANKSGIVING, it behooves us as Catholic Christians to ponder what that word really means. We know that the word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek word for 'thanksgiving' but most people never get beyond that.

Using the via negativa method (which Aquinas was fond of) we first see what thanksgiving or gratitude is NOT.

It is not QUID PRO QUO in the same way I pay someone ten dollars to shovel snow off my driveway. Barter or commerce is based on a mutual agreement of exchange of money, services or materials for something of equal value. The donor, unlike the merchant, acts spontaneously and gives without restrictions. The recipient, unlike the customer, is expected to realize it is a gift, not payment.

It is not mere formality or just good manners. Saying 'thank you' is a necessary component, not the only one, however. At the same time, they are not just words one should speak casually like 'hello' and 'good-bye'.

It is not an option. The Angelic Doctor says gratitude is a form of justice. We owe the giver of a gift our gratitude. To NOT be grateful is to be an INGRATE. Ingratitude is more than rude and impolite, it is also UNJUST. Morally, though not legally, we are obliged to be grateful, to express our appreciation and to demonstrate it in a tangible way (often called repaying the favor).

It is not restricted to expensive or only very valuable gifts. One should not be grateful only for big things, but as Saint Therese of the Little Flower reminds us, we should be grateful for all things, big and small, that come from the Lord.

Saint Thomas lists three degrees of gratitude in his Summa Theologica.

a) RECOGNITION of the gift or favor bestowed
b) EXPRESSION of appreciation (verbal or written 'thank you')
c) DEMONSTRATION of gratitude (symbolic or ritual)

A man reaches the first degree of ingratitude when he "fails to repay a favor;
the second when he declines to notice and indicate that he has received a favor;
the third and supreme degree is when a man fails to recognize the reception of a favor, whether by forgetting it or in any other way."

Further, ingratitude turns into the opposite of gratitude; hence:

"it belongs to the first degree of ingratitude to return evil for good, to the second to find fault with a favor received, and to the third to esteem kindness as though it were unkindness."

You and I ought to be GRATEFUL to God for creating us; for redeeming us; and for the many times He forgives us. We also ought to appreciate the many gifts and blessings He has given us. Ironically, many times we focus on what we do NOT have but what someone else has. We ENVY others' possessions while not appreciating what we do have ourselves. Saying grace before and after meals and going to church one day a week is not even the bare minimum but pathetically, it is the full extent some so-called Christians are willing to do.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the supreme and most perfect, eloquent and proper manner in which human beings can show their appreciation and gratitude to God. The Scriptures and prayers and hymns remind us of WHAT we should be grateful for and WHY. The worship of God is HOW we express that gratitude. Kneeling, genuflecting, bowing, etc., are part of that. Giving an hour or more of your time as many days as you can is the best sign possible. This is why we do NOT go to Mass for what we GET out of it, rather, we go to GIVE BACK to God what we OWE Him, i.e., worship, adoration, gratitude, honor, etc.

If we neglect to thank human beings for all gifts, large and small, then we will eventually omit our thanks to God and vice versa. INGRATITUDE is not merely bad manners, it is an act of INJUSTICE. So, on this Thanksgiving Day, let us pray we can all be grateful to God and our family and friends for every GIFT given to us. After BEING grateful, let us EXPRESS our thanks and let us perform ACTS of gratitude as well. Holy Hours, Rosaries, Pilgrimages, Litanies, Novenas, et al. are wonderful ways to show God our thanks.

Doing unexpected or spontaneous favors for others in return for their previous acts of kindness and generosity are things we can do to each other. It is important to DO it and to allow others to do it TO US as well. This is why we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and why we exchange gifts at Christmas and why we have going away parties for people when they leave or move or are transferred.

And that simple "thank you" to the waitress, waiter, cab or bus driver, flight attendant, office secretary, postal worker, delivery-man, cashier, nurse, etc., can become more than just an exercise in politeness. Christians need to be polite because it shows RESPECT and that is one way to demonstrate our LOVE OF NEIGHBOR. You cannot love someone you do not respect. Hence, even in Old Testament as well as in Gospel times, hospitality was more than good manners. It was a sign of faithfulness to the covenant.

I want to thank by former Bishop Kevin Rhoades for his five years as shepherd of our Diocese (Harrisburg). Our loss is Fort Wayne-South Bend's gain. We will painfully miss him. Orthodox and reverent AND respectful. And while we give thanks today for all God's blessings (life, faith, family & friends), in this YEAR FOR PRIESTS I thank the Good Lord for giving me a priestly vocation and I thank him for my priests friends, especially my classmate, co-author and best friend Fr. Ken Brighenti; my mentor, Fr. Bob Levis and very dear friend and diocesan colleague, Fr. Dennis Dalessandro.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chris Matthews Beans Bishop Tobin


MSNBC television talk show host Chris Matthews bullied and attacked Bishop Thomas Tobin (Providence, RI) on his show (Hardball) yesterday. Like a pitcher who intentionally throws a baseball at the head of the batter, Mr. Matthews did all he could to throw everything but the kitchen sink at his 'guest' (better to say 'victim') He never gave the Bishop adequate time to answer his questions as he kept interrupting and resorted to non sequitur and ad hominum arguments which anyone in first year college Logic class learns are FALLACIES.

Thank God for courageous shepherds like Bishop Tobin. After an unprovoked attack and inaccurate description of Catholic teaching by U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Bishop Tobin used fraternal correction and exercised his lawful right to impose a canonical penalty in the hope that the offender would repent and reconcile himself with God and the Church. One cannot advocate and support abortion and still claim to be a good Catholic since the Church condemns all abortions as the unjust killing of innocent life (a.k.a., murder or homicide) The doctrine on the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death is inviolable as it is rooted in BOTH the Natural Moral Law and the Divine Positive Law.

Chris Matthews was offensive, rude and showed no impartiality. I thought journalists were supposed to REPORT the news and interview people, not ambush them and defend ideologies of a political persuasion. At best, he should demonstrate a neutrality on the issue of abortion instead of coming out of the bullpen presuming the so-called 'right to abortion' is Constitutionally guaranteed. Imagine a reporter interviewing a civil rights advocate like the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and acting as if racial segregation is an exercise of personal freedom of those business owners who want African-Americans to sit in allocated parts of the bus or restaurant. Racism and segregation were and are immoral, unjust and sinful. However, both were legal in the USA at one time and even upheld by Congress and even the illustrious Supreme Court had defended slavery. Courageous religious leaders led the way to challenge the civil toleration of these gross injustices. It was religious people who started the Abolition movement to end slavery. It was Rev. King and others who peacefully and non-violently marched and protested to overturn racist laws and practiced. Bishop Desmond Tuttu helped the fight to end apartheid in South Africa.  In all cases, no one today would say that the religious leaders were overstepping their authority or violating the first amendment.

"What laws would you write" was his constant harassment, implying the Bishop was attempting to usurp the Congressman's civil authority as a lawmaker. This irrational argument never goes away. Neither Bishop Tobin nor the USCCB make any claim to have the right to legislate civil law. As religious leaders, however, they have the MORAL right and by our Constitution have a CIVIL right to TEACH. Part of teaching is to enunciate and explain PRINCIPLES. The application of those are the job of each individual but they are still subject to ethical assessment. For example, the principle that it is never right to intentionally end the life of an innocent human being is absolute. Murder is never allowed. Justified killing is limited to very specific instances (e.g., self-defense, just war, etc.) Killing the innocent, as in abortion and euthanasia, is always wrong, evil, immoral and sinful. It is also un-Constitutional since every human being is endowed by their Creator with an inalienable RIGHT TO LIFE. So, when a Bishop tells a politician that the laws he writes or supports violate the Natural Law, they are de facto bad laws.  Immoral laws are non-binding. Citizens, both voters and politicians, are obliged to eradicate unjust laws. The essence of law is the pursuit of the COMMON GOOD. Killing unborn children, slavery, racial segregation, et al. are UNJUST and IMMORAL and any laws that protect, tolerate or promote these evils are bad laws that need to be abolished.

Would you arrest a woman for having an abortion, was Matthews' question to Bishop Tobin. Making abortion illegal is conforming civil law to the Natural Moral Law just as is the outlawing of slavery and segregation; rape and murder. Nazi Germany had enacted racial laws that allowed the government to incarcerate Jews and seize their property, land and assets. Anti-Semitism was legalized by the Nuremberg Laws of the 1930's but the Nuremberg Trials at the end of WWII made it clear that legalized immoral laws have no authority and must be opposed and disobeyed.  Outlawing abortion does not demand the imprisonment of women who obtain them but do we not have laws that prohibit certain behavior but only incur fines and other penalties without throwing the perp into jail? Arresting the doctor who performs the abortions is something which would be more effective. Fining women for having illegal abortions would be more prudent. Criminalizing the act, however, is not a choice. If we outlaw in civil law such injustices as theft, lying (perjury), assault, homicide, rape, etc., then we must also outlaw abortion and euthanasia since both are forms of murder (killing of innocent human life).

Bishop Tobin does not have to come up with specific legislation, that is the job of civil lawmakers. HOWEVER, it is the job of the Bishop as a religious leader to make a moral judgment on the laws that are made and to assess them as either conforming to the Natural Law or not.  This is not just a Catholic leader telling Catholic followers what to believe or how to behave. The Natural Law was used in the Nuremberg Trials to convict Nazis who claimed they were only obeying orders or just following the law. Cicero and Aristotle, as well as St. Paul and St. Thomas Aquinas, speak of the Natural Law being known to ALL human beings who have the use of reason. Unlike ecclesiastical law which binds those of a specific church, the Natural Law is rooted in reason which is part of our human nature (intellect) and thus applies to everyone, everywhere, anytime.

Matthews was insisting that the Bishops have no business to interfere with legislation. Is that not what we heard before the Civil War by those who claimed it was an issue of States' Rights to own slaves? Did not the states that permitted or promoted racial segregation claim it was not the Federal government's business? The civil rights of the unborn transcend state and federal law and transcend any Supreme Court decision. These rights come from God, not the government. Just as a parent cannot murder their toddler or adolescent, likewise, no parent has the moral or legal right to kill their unborn child, either. Worse, however, is the doctor who performs these ghastly murders in the womb. The woman is often stressed and under enormous anxiety whereas the abortionist and his/her assistants are more culpable as they are less emotionally attached and supposedly more objective.

Bishop Tobin was in his civil and canonical rights to reprimand Rep. Patrick Kennedy since he claims to be a Catholic and furthermore claims he can support abortion. As a lawmaker, he can be guilty of material if not formal cooperation in evil, by facilitating the legalization of abortion. He can also be guilty of heresy in denying the official church teaching that abortion is a grave evil and that human life begins at conception. It would be a sin of omission and spiritual negligence had Bishop Tobin remained silent once the Congressman spouted off in the media as he did on these issues. Chris Matthews should REPORT not MAKE the news.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

Father Miguel, MFVA, mentioned on the televised Mass for Christ the King the Manhattan Declaration that he and I and many others have signed online. It is a joint effort by Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical Christians to stand up and speak out against abortion and euthanasia and to defend and support religious liberty and traditional family (one man + one woman in a permanent, faithful and hopefully fruitful union).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christ the King (Christus Rex)


Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Unlike Presidents and Prime Ministers, Kings are not elected and therefore are not submissive to opinion polls. Special interest groups, lobbyists, and the media have no influence over the crown. One either accepts the authority of King and complies with his will OR they reject his rule and suffer the consequences. The question Christians must ask themselves is: WHO IS MY KING? 

Some like the crowd before Pilate, proclaim: 'we have no King but Caesar'  They are the secular progressives who pander to public opinion. They go with the majority even when it is wrong. Those who said women have no right to vote; those who said slavery was a personal choice; those who said states should decide for themselves if they want racial segregation; they are in reality saying WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR. Caesar is the world, secular culture, and business and politics devoid of morality.  Those who advocate or tolerate abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage, etc., reject the Divine Law and Natural Law given us by God. They repudiate the reign of God and therefore refuse to obey His Will or His Bride, the Church. Politicians and voters and sadly even ecclesiastics who place popularity over propriety have no King but Caesar. Whether it is the State, the secular culture, business, political parties, or the politically correct, none of these outranks the majesty of God. None of them are superior to the Supreme Being.

Others reject the kingship of Christ AND of the world. They make themselves king (as did Lucifer, Adam & Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, et al.) since their pride and ego refuse to bow to anyone else. They are self-anointed experts and know-it-alls who condescendingly look down on those of us who faithfully submit to the Magisterium. They refuse to get mandatums and imprimaturs since both are exercises of legitimate teaching authority.

Those who herald CHRIST OUR KING obey Him and His Vicar on earth. The Pope represents Christ and has been given FULL, SUPREME, UNIVERSAL and IMMEDIATE authority to govern the Church. When teaching on matters of faith and morals, he is infallible. The radical left and the reactionary right often sleep in the same bed when they embrace HERESY and/or SCHISM. Saint Ambrose said it well and said it all when he coined the phrase UBI PETRUS IBI ECCLESIA. While the prudential judgments of the Roman Pontiff are not infallible, his authority cannot be appealed and therefore his decisions bind us and oblige us to submit intellect and will. Reject the authority (governing or teaching) of Peter's Successor and you reject the One Who gave it to him (Jesus Christ).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

sede vacante


The Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades

Sad news permeated the Diocese of Harrisburg this morning.  Pope Benedict XVI appointed our beloved bishop to take over the Diocese of South Bend-Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Just a few weeks ago, Bishop Rhoades was celebrant at Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. There were at least FOUR THOUSAND (4,000) souls from the Diocese at the Shrine, one of the largest ever. Bishop Rhoades and Fr. Ray LaVoie (Vocation Director) brought our seminary census to over 45, beating the archdiocese of Philadelphia for the first time ever.

A native son from Lebanon, PA, Bishop Rhoades had been a pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Harrisburg and then taught as a professor and finally became rector of Mount Saint Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.   During his short five years here in our diocese, we have seen a stable and permanent Extraordinary Form parish (Mater Dei) erected under the care of the Fraternity of Saint Peter; lots of vocations to the priesthood; restoration of the permanent diaconate. When the Cathedral was renovated, Bishop Rhoades insisted the Tabernacle be restored to its proper place in the middle and center of the sanctuary. At only 52 years of age, Bishop Rhoades will most likely be promoted again in the near and foreseeable future to become an archbishop and probably cardinal of a major see in the USA.

We are praying to the Holy Spirit and Our Lady, Mother of the Church, that we be sent another gem like Bishop Rhoades. Not an accountant or manager bishop, but a teacher/pastor bishop who also knows how to shepherd rather than relinquishing authority to sycophant bureaucrats who have political agendas and not the good of Holy Mother Church in their minds. PRAY FOR US.

Most of us priests consider ourselves blessed if our our bishop is at least friendly toward us. But even if he is not, it is far more important and necessary that he be a just, honest, orthodox, reverent, compassionate and courageous bishop. Just like parents should not seek to be 'friends' to their children, bishops do not need to be 'friends' they need to be pastors. Friendly, yes; friends, maybe; pastors, always. Bishop Rhoades is a pastor bishop. Friendly but still in charge. I went to seminary with a bishop (he wasn't one then, but became one later, of course)  Byzantine Bishop William Skurla of the Eparchy of Passaic for the Ruthenians. We were friends and schoolmates. But he is not my boss. My boss was one of the few bishops who despite his fullness of priesthood and his episcopal authority, nevertheless showed appreciation and respect to his brother priests. That goes a long way. Like the Captain or Admiral, Colonel or General in the military, you have the authority to give orders but the respect of your men is something you earn by the way you treat them. Bishop Rhoades is the first bishop to personally thank me for the books on religion I wrote and for the shows I taped for EWTN. He is the first bishop to show enthusiastic support for the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (a national association of priests and deacons committed to ongoing spiritual, theological and pastoral formation in a fraternal setting).  Previous bishops simply said nothing. I was grateful they never ordered me to stop doing what I was doing on my own free time, but he was the first to actually AFFIRM and THANK me and my colleague (Father Ken Brighenti) for utilizing our time and talents, first in the parish and then for Holy Mother Church at large.

Fortunately, there are more bishops like Bishop Rhoades who do not see their mission as accountant, business manager or politician. They see the diocese as a pastor sees his parish. Pope John Paul the Great told us that pastors must love their parishioners like a groom loves his bride (like Jesus loves the Church). It does not matter if the guy is a scholar or academic, a great orator or preacher, or an efficient organizer. What the People of God want and what the priests, deacons, religious and laity deserve is a man of God, loyal to the Roman Pontiff; strong enough to do what has to be done and say what has to be said (especially to his clergy and to Catholic politicians); and humble enough to know he makes mistakes like the rest of us but can also learn from them and do better again and again. Like the Apostles, bishops as their successors need to support their priests, challenge us, guide us, correct us, and love us. We promised respect and obedience to the bishop and his successors. The bishop swears an oath of fidelity.

God has blessed us with great popes in recent history and with some phenomenal bishops as well. It is easy to take pot-shots and gripe about the bad or mediocre ones. The same can be said of us priests and pastors, too. Better for us to identify and support the good ones and let the others become extinct on their own. In this YEAR FOR PRIESTS we priests need to pray for one another but we also need to pray for our bishops. It is not public opinion polls or legal advice that our shepherds need, it is divine grace from Holy Orders and their personal commitment to place the common good of the diocese before all else

I hope and pray (and trust) the Lord will bless us again with another superb, competent and wonderful bishop to shepherd our diocese.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hollywood Hypocrite

Director Roland Emmerich admitted that he has no time for organized religion. His latest movie 2012 is based on a pagan Mayan prophecy that the world ends that calendar year (December 21). Bad enough he gives credence to ancient folklore, worse yet he trashes Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, while leaving Islam unscathed. One scene has Saint Peter's Basilica rolling onto the multitude of clergy and laity praying for divine assistance. Every national monument and religious icon is destroyed EXCEPT the the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure located in the center of Mecca, the site of the Hajj. Why? Is the director a Muslim? No. But he fears offending Muslims and incurring a fatwa. So, no Islamic symbol is pulverized in the movie but Christian ones fall like dominoes. PATHETIC. Would a threat of excommunication saved the Vatican? I doubt it. Today, the atheists, agnostics and secular progressives and politically correct FEAR offending anyone of the Muslim faith. How about offending NO ONE, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim? How about not offending any religion? Either all are exempt or all are fair game. If the bishops and clergy called for a boycott of the movie, some Catholics would go just to be defiant; others out of pure curiosity. REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE !!! One thing you will NEVER see Hollywood ever depict: an apparition of the Virgin Mary calling all men and women on earth to pray the rosary to avert the great chastisement. Why? Just too Catholic. You can show the Devil and the Anti-Christ and aliens and now pagan mythologies but not anything too Christian and certainly not too Catholic.

Growing up, me and my younger brother Joe (who was killed at the age of 33 by a 19 year old underage drunk driver) used to watch the old Hammer Studios horror movies every Friday night. They were all B movies, no gore but plenty of scare (from your own imagination). Greats like Vincent Price (who died a Catholic), Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, et al., would always have a battle between good and evil. Good always won and whenever Satan was being fought, the hero always turned to the local parish PRIEST (not the minister) since he needed Holy Water, or silver blessed in Latin (to make bullets), etc. Even Dracula was defeated by the town's Monsignor who knew that anything holy could destroy vampires or calling out the baptismal name could cure the werewolf. Crosses were good, but crucifixes were better and more efficient. Sure, all fantasy, sci-fi, horror film but the church and the clergy came off as competent authorities on how to defeat evil. That lasted through the gore of the Exorcist and the Omen but then Hollywood decided to make the priest and the Catholic Church the idiotic fools who no longer believe in the devil and diabolical evil OR who have no faith in the supernatural. The heroes now turn to the Evangelical pastor for wisdom and guidance. Then the university professor who is either agnostic or atheist becomes the next expert. He can help translate pagan languages and interpret the pagan rituals of pre-Christian cultures which now Hollywood portrays as the real saviors. Pagans or aliens or technology are held up as sources of hope in the battle between good and evil. Organized religion is seen as part of the problem, not part of the cure. So, movies now have Christians, particularly Catholic clergy being the first to die or mess up or be the token zealot, while the new college scholar or scientist or pagan shaman saves the day. Of course, never cast a shadow on anyone or anything of Islam lest you get a fatwa. But trash the Vatican, Opus Dei, priesthood, sacraments, etc. That is what is shown today on the silver screen. And I think the Devil quite enjoys it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Missa Pro Defunctis

I celebrated my three All Souls Day Masses today, one of which was offered for the departed souls of my Dad (John Trigilio, Sr.), my two younger brothers (Michael and Joseph), my cousin (Fr. Stephen Katarzynski) and my childhood pastor (Msgr. Ennis Connelly).  The chalice I used belonged to my cousin. He was an elderly priest when the police found him murdered in his rectory right after Easter. No one was ever caught but rumor had been that local devil worshipers and occultists probably broke into his parish to steal Consecrated Hosts for their blasphemous and sacrilegious rituals. Someone smothered him with a pillow and killed him in his own bed. He had been assigned to the worst part of the diocese, in the redneck boondocks. It took him four and half hours to drive to the See city which he did once a month to visit my parents and encourage me to persevere in the high school seminary. His love of the Priesthood and that of my first pastor, in addition to the love and support of my family, made me recognize the call to serve Holy Mother Church as a Priest. So, in 1976, I graduated eighth grade from Blessed Sacrament grade school and entered the High School Seminary. Twelve years later (1988), I was ordained for the Diocese of Harrisburg. Here are the vestments and appointments I used for Holy Mass today.  (yes, Black chasuble with burse and veil).  I normally wear purple for Funeral Masses but wear the black stole over my cassock and surplice with biretta for graveside prayers at the cemetery. 


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Communion of Saints

Resurrexit sicut dixit.  After nearly three weeks of battling flu like symptons which later developed into bronchitis, I am finally on the mend, just in time for All Saints and All Souls

When I was a child, I would immediatey turn to the comics page of the newspaper. As a seminarian, I would read the editorials. Now, at age 47, I read the obits just like my mom and dad did when we were growing up. I'm not old enough to be looking for classmates and contemporaries, mind you. I read the obituaries to see if there were parishioners or fallen away Catholics in my area who died but who did not have any funeral Mass or Catholic burial rites. Sadly, I see more and more. Former daily communicants or at least regular Sunday church-goers having only a viewing at the parlor and private ceremonies at the cemetery. Often, the adult children of the deceased who no longer practice their baptized religion, deny their own parents the last precious gift, a Catholic funeral and burial. Just because Johnny and Susie are in their fourth or fifth invalid marriage and cannot receive Holy Communion is no reason to deny their mom or dad a Catholic funeral. But it happens. Other times, even the deceased is lukewarm or non-practicing. Many times I get a call from the undertaker and do not recognize the name of the deceased because they have not gone to Mass in more than 20 years.

Read some of the obits. "Liked fishing" "enjoyed scrabble" "loved travel" etc.  RARELY, if ever, do you read: "was devout Catholic Christian" or "faithful church-goer and parishioner". Earthly accomplishments fill the obit. Don't get me wrong, I think we should honor the dead who served our nation and community. My dad was a WWII and Korean veteran from the Navy. A Knight of Columbus.  A loving husband and father. But he was also a God-fearing Christian; a devout Catholic. It is pathetic that virtually no spiritual connections or activities are found in many obituaries. Community service, yes.  Unless the person were a church secretary, however, you rarely read about their exemplary giving of time volunteering at their local parish. Then the funeral homily almost canonizes the person. No need for Masses for the dead, right, if the deceased must be in heaven already. What happened to PURGATORY? My two parishes get so few Mass intentions despite the usual number of deaths and funerals. Why? Because too many of my colleagues never preach on purgatory and on the efficacy of the Mass for departed souls. When I was a kid growing up in Erie, PA, everyone had a two day (afternoon and evening) viewing at the funeral parlor. Flowers were abundant but equally were the Mass cards from all the guests. No one would dare come to a Catholic viewing and not leave at least one Mass intention. Normally, the local parish (or the missions) received those and numerous Masses throughout the year were offered for that dead person.

Today, people only want a Mass IF they can attend as well. That means weekday Masses are the most forgotten. Yet, if only the priest and a server are present, the Communion of Saints is still at that Mass. The Saints in Heaven and the Souls in Purgatory as well as the universal church participate in the Mass for that deceased man or woman. The primary fruit of the Mass is for the departed soul but another fruit is the donor (as well as the priest who offers and those who attend the Mass). But today, minimalism rules. One token Mass intention is often the extent some Catholics remember their dead. I have to beg other parishes and dioceses to get weekdays Masses since we do not get enough from our own people. Yet, there are many dead parishioners with surviving relatives. As a priest, I very deliberately and carefully mention the name of the deceased at the proper place in the Eucharistic Prayer. Other priests mention it at the Prayers of the Faithful. Some only do it quietly at the altar. No matter how it is done, every priest offers every Mass for some intention, be it the departed soul or the special intentions of the living or for the people of the parish (pro populo). The Mass is the highest and most eloquent of all prayers and sadly, many Catholics deny this awesome gift to their deceased loved ones. If in heaven, it is no waste as the merits of the Mass are applied to someone else in need. But if our loved one IS in purgatory, how grateful will he or she be that we remembered AND assisted them the best way possible?

I will have to leave a note in my will to designate a certain amount of the estate (modest though it may be) be allocated to Masses for my immortal soul. IF I am lucky enough to get to Purgatory, I will WANT and NEED every Mass possible for my departed soul.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Did You Pray for Your Parish Priest Today?

Yes, we have seen and continue to see scandalous behavior from the clergy, be they deacons, priests or bishops. No excuse. The faithful deserve nothing less than pure, unadulterated, sound and orthodox doctrine that conforms to the Magisterium. They deserve nothing less than licit, valid and reverent celebration of the sacred mysteries of faith we call the Sacraments. They also deserve competent, unbiased, and compassionate leadership that puts the common good before anything else and is not afraid to correct, discipline or defend.

It is easy today to recognize and identify the warts and blemishes on the clergy because we have been so careless and casual in how we obtained them. While there has always been sin and failure in ordained ministry, the same can be said for marriage and religious life. Every vocation and career has seen its examples of rotten apples. Who can say they have never heard of a bad doctor, bad cop, bad soldier, bad coach, bad teacher or bad parent? They exist and so do bad priests. As Christians, we are challenged to hate the sin and love the sinner.  We must repudiate and denounce bad behavior and even punish it while at the same time pray for and seek repentance. Jesus said he came not to cure the healthy but to cure the sick; not to help the righteous but to help sinners. He never condoned nor excused any sin and neither should we. At the same time, we are asked by our holy religion to pray for the conversion of sinners. To ask for God's grace that those who misbehave would STOP. That they would REPENT. Is there not more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner?  Imagine how much joy over one repentant bad priest or bishop?  Purgatory and jurisprudence exist to ensure justice and punish the guilty while protecting the innocent. Divine Justice cannot be thwarted and will be achieved in this life or the next.  Divine Mercy is as necessary and important as Divine Justice.

That is why during this YEAR FOR PRIESTS we need to pray for more good priests.  Pray for those men in the seminaries that they persevere and become good priests when ordained.  Pray that bad seminaries get better or close.  Pray that mediocre or bad priests have a change of heart, a conversion, a metanoia (they love that word) and return to orthodoxy and reverent worship.  BAD TEACHING + BAD LITURGY = BAD BEHAVIOR.  In other words, heretical doctrine combined with liturgical abuse will inevitably produce and sustain bad morality and vice versa.  We therefore need to pray and do mortification during this YFP to save the souls of all priests (deacons and bishops, too).

Since Jesus Christ instituted Holy Orders on Holy Thursday, how about we all make an effort to make a holy hour for priests, especially the lonely, discouraged, persecuted, maligned, ostracized priests whose only crime is that they are loyal to the Holy Father and the Magisterium? Theses are the fellows who usually are not made Monsignors or Knights of Malta (Holy Cross, Jerusalem, et al.) nor are they typically advisers to the bishop. They are the ordinary parish priests or the hospital chaplains or the seminary or college professors who do their best to be a better priest day by day, year by year.

We need to pray for the ambitious, lazy, workaholic, political, worldly or naive priests that the grace of Holy Orders wake them up and make a concerted effort to clean up their act and remember why they got ordained in the first place. Remember how the nuns (when you knew they were nuns because of the habit they wore) used to tell us in Catholic grade school, 'pray for the conversion of Russia.'  The USSR fell and Communism was defeated, thanks to Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and the multitude of prayers offered all during the Cold War.

In addition to or in place of a Holy Hour for Priests, how about a voluntary abstinence of meat or a voluntary fast on Thursdays (only one full meal and two smaller collations)? How about a rosary for deceased priests on Thursdays?  Just a few suggestions.

Doesn't mean we won't be watching and alerting you about the weird and bizarre when it comes to clerical nonsense. Even Peter had to be rebuked on one occasion by Our Lord but He never rescinded the authority He gave him, either. Of the twelve, only one stayed at the foot of the Cross while one denied Him, one betrayed Him, one doubted Him and the rest abandoned Him. All could have been forgiven yet one obstinately refused. It was Jesus prayer for them in the Garden before His Passion that ultimately came to fruition after the Resurrection.

So let's pray in thanksgiving for the good priests of the past who inspired and encouraged us; for the good priests of today who nourish, teach and care for us; and for the good priests of tomorrow, those in the pipeline at the seminary, so they may persevere in their vocation and that they never lose hope.

We ought to pray, though, for the bad priests that they stop being bad. That they repent and recant. That they renew their original promise and vow to be a holy priest of Jesus Christ in loving service to Holy Mother Church.

It's worth a try.

Humanae Vitae Priests - Catholic Online

Humanae Vitae Priests - Catholic Online

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Bishop's Ax Falls on Obama. And on the Vatican Curia - Catholic Online

Bishop's Ax Falls on Obama. And on the Vatican Curia - Catholic Online

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Rubric Goombas




airs weekly on the National Geographic Channel. It is about former wise-guys, tough-guys, cops, feds, narcs, undercover, etc., who now devote themselves to eradicating animal abuse. You DON'T want Big Ant, Angel, Joey, and Batso showing up at your door especially if you are guilty of neglecting or mistreating your dog or cat. 

WHAT IF ... we could get these same fellows to form RUBRIC, INK. to visit those parishes where deacons, priests or other clergy, violate every rubric in the Roman Missal? Imagine how many more priests would actually SAY THE BLACK AND DO THE RED?  WHAT IF ... we called them the Z-Team (remember the old A-Team with George Peppard and Mr. T?) Liturgical Abuse finally bites the dust !!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel


Holy Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel

Unlike the naked cherubs floating as bodiless heads with wings, real Angels are powerful, beautiful, intelligent beings who are metaphysically superior to us humans. They are more agile (having no physical bodies) and much more powerful and certainly more intelligent (having infused rather than acquired knowledge) than we are. Their rivals are the fallen angels now living in hell and who go by the name of devils or demons. So we human beings should be in awe of these lofty creatures. At the same time, we surpassed them in glory ever since the Incarnation when God the Son took on a human nature. Ever since then, divinity and humanity have been united in one divine Person. Angelic nature has not been so blessed. Metaphysically, angels surpass men and women but spiritually, because of the God-Man Jesus Christ, humans have become the adopted children of God being able to call Jesus our brother and being able to pray to God "our Father". Angels must look upon Christ as their sovereign King whereas we see our brother and Savior. His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, is our adopted mother, too, while angels can only relate to her as the Queen Mother. This special relationship human nature has with divinity is why Satan, a fallen angel, hates us so much. We have been elevated higher than angelic nature could ever achieve on its own. The Devil's pride just cannot stomach it, so he reviles and loathes us. We should never take that position of honor for granted, however. It came at a high price. Our brother, Jesus Christ, died for us and shed His blood to ransom and redeem us.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Lobster fra diavolo: mi piace

Pasta Padre Brighenti & Drs. Keith and Christina Burkhart

Saturday we celebrated the Festa di San Gennaro and the birthday of Dr. Tina Burkhart with a delicious dish of Lobster Fra Diavolo prepared by Chef (and Fr.) Ken Brighenti.

Giada De Laurentiis has some serious competition, let me tell you.
My contribution? Sicilian Blood Orange Screwdrivers. (note the martini glasses) and a chocolate cannoli cake via Vacarro's Pastry Shop.
BTW, we used the home and hospitality of another Physician friend, Dr. Elizabeth Frauenhoffer, to cook and eat this splendid meal. She made an incredible NINE LAYER Hungarian Chocolate cake. Schmeckt sehr gut.

Whenever I read in the Gospel about Jesus visiting the home of Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus, I think how important it is for us priests to have some good lay friends as well as as our good clergy friends. Our Divine Lord had both in His Apostles and in people like Martha's family. Whenever my mother visits from Erie, I make sure to bring her to my friends' homes (like the Burkhart's, Tom & Carla Lang, Liz Frauenhoffer, etc.) as well as to my priest friends (like Fr. Ken Brighenti, Fr. Dennis Dalessandro, etc.) Then it occurred to me that Jesus most likely did the same and brought His Blessed Mother to meet his friends, too. Although He was a Divine Person with a divine nature, Christ also had a truly human nature also and as the Gospel attest, Our Lord was not a workaholic nor was He all business and no pleasure. He worked but He also relaxed and spent time with family and friends. Remember, His public ministry was only three years. He spent the first thirty in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. Striking that happy balance is crucial today since we see too many examples of the extremes. Some clergy are spiritual couch potatoes and some are obsessive workaholics. Some, however, try to do as God Himself did, work AND rest. That is why Joy and Sorrow is part of everyone's life, especially a priest (deacon or bishop). His parishioners must work all week and when they come home, there is plenty of housework and chores just as every student has some homework and studying to do. This is why Sunday, the DAY OF THE LORD (Dies Domini) gives us a chance to take a necessary 'time out' and spend some quality time with family and/or friends. It also a day of precept where we are obliged to worship and adore our God via the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Sadly, many people do not MAKE TIME for prayer and worship but have plenty of time for work or leisure. I even know some clergy who busy themselves with many sacerdotal tasks but run out of time by the end of the day and discover they left out prayer. As Mother Teresa told a priest who admitted to being 'too busy to pray' : "If you are too busy to pray, then you are just too busy." She made no accommodations or excuses. IF someone as busy as she was in Calcutta could MAKE and FIND time to pray, especially before the Blessed Sacrament (note that, Fr. McBrien) and then work a full day with the poorest of the poor, then how can ANY of us laity or clergy not do likewise? As we continue the YEAR FOR PRIESTS, please pray for us priests. We NEED it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009



ATTENTION ALL PRIESTS AND DEACONS (membership in the CCC not required to attend this historic gathering of English speaking Catholic Clergy from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Ireland):

LAY FAITHFUL: want to give your pastor, parochial vicar, or deacon a once in a lifetime Christmas, ordination or anniversary gift? Offer to pay their conference fee OR airfare so they can attend this wonderful opportunity in the YEAR FOR PRIESTS.  Donations accepted to help those clergy who otherwise would not be able to afford this unique gathering. 

Go to

Register online NOW.  If you register before September 25th, you can get the early-bird rate of $800 and save $85 from the regular price. 

Conference Fees INCLUDE accommodation at Casa Bonus Pastor from 4-8 January 2010 and in-house meals only. 

Conference Fees EXCLUDE airfares and on the ground transportation costs.

click here for registration page

Arrive at Casa Bonus Pastor on Monday 4th January.

Conference registration from Noon-4.00pm, with formal commencement and welcome at 4.00pm.

The programme includes the daily celebration of Holy Mass in the great basilicas, and on some days Vespers and Benediction.

Our celebrants will include:

His Eminence, William Cardinal Levada,
His Eminence, Antonio Cardinal Canizares,
His Eminence, James Cardinal Stafford,
His Excellency Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, and
His Excellency Archbishop Raymond Burke.

We hope to be at the Holy Father's Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Forty Hours (part III)

During this YEAR FOR PRIESTS, we have meditated these past few days on the intimate union between the priesthood and the Blessed Sacrament. We have looked at how Holy Orders and Holy Eucharist are inseparably connected from their very institution by Our Lord in the Upper Room at the Last Supper. Sunday evening we pondered the mystery of Christ the Priest who SANCTIFIES us with His own Precious Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. Monday evening we examined the mystery of Christ the Priest who TEACHES us about Divine Love; that it is BOTH possessive AND oblative, as Pope Benedict explained in Deus Caritas Est. The Holy Eucharist is the sacrifice of the Son to the Father so that we may receive salvation, redemption and eternal life. Just as Divine Love gives and receives; just as God wants us to be His children and wants us to be with Him forever, He also gives us His Son as a sign of that love. The Eucharist therefore challenges us to die to self and the surrender our will and allow the will of God to replace ours.

This last evening we shall look at Christ the Priest who shepherds and leads us to Heaven via the Holy Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament points to our final destiny. We were made for heaven and heaven is where we belong since it is perfect UNION with God. Although Jesus sacrificed His body and blood for us and the Holy Eucharist is most certainly his precious body and blood, soul and divinity, it is not the dead flesh and blood of our Savior we receive in Holy Communion. We are given the RISEN CHRIST, His risen body which is reunited with his blood because HE IS ALIVE. He is no longer dead, but ALIVE. So, in that monstrance on the altar is the RISEN LORD with His Risen Body and Blood in that one Host as He is in every Host and in every drop of the Precious Blood as well.

Saint Thomas Aquinas said in his Summa (III, Q. 73, a. 4) that the Holy Eucharist connects us to the past, present and future. It makes what happened 2,000 years ago in the past, namely, on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, now present to us each time Mass is celebrated. It unites everyone in our present who partakes of Holy Communion as members of one body, the Mystical Body of Christ. It finally points to our future, i.e., to our DESTINATION. The Holy Eucharist is a foretaste of Heaven, which is where we should want to go and end up for all eternity. The Church gives the name VIATICUM to the Holy Eucharist administered to the dying. It is spiritual food FOR THE JOURNEY.

On this feast of the birthday of the Virgin Mary, we are reminded that just a month ago we celebrated the feast of her Assumption. She who was of the earth is now in heaven, thanks to her Son, Jesus Christ. That same Christ present on our altar and in our tabernacle, will also raise us up, body and soul, and will take us up into heaven to be with him forever. The Holy Eucharist is a memorial of what Jesus did in the past on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It is also spiritual food for us TODAY in the present. But the Holy Eucharist is ultimately the sign and beacon which leads us to our eternal home. It points heavenward. Earthly bread becomes the BREAD FROM HEAVEN. The Holy Eucharist is the RISEN LORD hidden behind the veil of the accidents of bread and wine. Only in heaven will we be able to see him face to face. Yet, what we see before us is no replica and no imitation. IT IS THE LORD HIMSELF. IT IS HIS BODY and BLOOD, SOUL and DIVINITY. The more frequently we spend TIME with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the regularly we WORTHILY receive Him in Holy Communion, the better prepared we become for the completion of our journey. We are pilgrims traveling to our destination and Christ gives us His very Body and Blood to nourish and sustain our souls during the voyage. His Mystical Body the Church is the ship which transports us and the Holy Eucharist is also the compass which guides and directs us so we can faithfully follow the maps and charts given us by Divine Revelation.

Cardinal Arinze addressed the Eucharistic Congress in 2004 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He said that the Holy Eucharist UNITES HEAVEN AND EARTH. It is the Incarnate Word, the God-Man, Who makes present His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.

The Book of Revelation speaks in prophetic and apocalyptic language with the Jerusalem temple worship as background. But it also speaks of the Church beginning to spread in the world and presents Jesus Christ as the Gospel Lamb, the King of the universe, the High Priest, the Lord of history and the immaculate Victim on his throne.

In the Apocalypse, divine worship is praise of heaven begun on earth. The cult images are powerful and clearly liturgical. Examples are adoration of the immolated Lamb on his throne, hymns and canticles, acclamations of the crowds of the elect dressed in white, descent of the Church of heaven on earth, the Jerusalem of which the Lord Jesus is the temple. And the people are a priestly and royal one. The visions recall many cult elements: seven candlesticks (seven sacraments), the long white robes of the Son of Man and of the old men and of the Saints (white albs), the altar, the Amen and the exultant Alleluia ...

The Holy Eucharist brings us to tend towards the life to come. “When you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes”, St. Paul tells the Corinthians. Christ promised his Apostles his own joy so that their joy may be complete. The Eucharist is a foretaste of this joy. It is a confident waiting “in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ”.

When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion one of the results is that we get a pledge of eternal life, of our bodily resurrection, since Jesus promised that those who so receive him in this sacrament have eternal life and he will raise them up at the last day. Therefore St. Ignatius of Antioch called Holy Communion “a medicine of immortality, and antidote of death”

Scott Hahn and others have interpreted the allegory in the apocalyptic literature of the Book of Revelation to represent the Divine Liturgy IN HEAVEN, especially at the end of time. The symbols and metaphors used are not just clandestine ways to escape Roman persecution. They also POINT TOWARD the ultimate DESTINY of man. Heaven is a continuous celebration of the worship and adoration of the Holy Trinity. It is a perpetual liturgy where the angels and saints give continuous praise to the Lord.

While we sojourn here on earth as on pilgrimage, we are given the Holy Eucharist as a beacon of light to guide us to our journey's end. It is food for today to give strength in the spiritual war of good vs evil but it is also food for others and food for the journey from this world to the next. This then explains what Jesus meant when he said "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall have eternal life."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Forty Hours (part II)


Christ the Priest SANCTIFIES us by Divine Grace, via the Sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament, which IS His Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. He also TEACHES us through this august sacrament. We are taught the mystery of Divine Love.

Pope Benedict expounded on this in his first encyclical DEUS CARITAS EST. Scripture tells us that God IS love. Unfortunately, many people are ignorant of what real love is about. The secular world treats love as though a commodity you can buy and sell on eBay or the Internet. The worldly see loves as merely something physical or biological. They reduce love to the sex act. Animals have sex but they do not so so to express love. Their animal instinct moves them to copulate and reproduce and thus continue the species. Human beings, however, are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, human sexuality is HOLY and SACRED when done properly. Human sexuality is the sign of the covenant between man and woman to live as husband and wife. Recreational, extra-marital, pre-marital and contaceptive sex (as well as homosexual sex) are all wrong, sinful and immoral because they distort the original design of the Creator. God created human sexuality to express the total commitment of husband and wife to live a permanent, faithful and fruitful union. Selfish love is not love, it is self-gratification. REAL LOVE is better.

Pope Benedict reminded us that real love is BOTH possessive (eros) AND oblative (agape). It is willing to GIVE as well as RECEIVE. Real Love is willing and capable of making SACRIFICE, again and again. It also is patient to endure and it never gives up and never quits.

Possessive love is reflected in the Holy Eucharist in that Jesus fulfills the request made at Emmaus "mane nobiscum Domine" (stay with us Lord). Providentially, this was the last letter Pope John Paul the Great wrote before his death. It was on the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much, He wants to BE with us and He wants us to BE WITH Him. When a couple is in love, they spend time together. They dislike being apart. They long for the time they can reunite. Likewise, Jesus loves us so much, He says "I am with you always" How is He with us always if He ascended into heaven? He is WITH US in His Real Presence. He is THERE in the Blessed Sacrament. He is THERE in the Tabernacle, 24/7.

When asked 'how are we to pray?', Christ replies, "say, OUR Father, who art in heaven, ..." Note the possessive pronoun OUR. You and I can rightfully say OUR Father since we are adopted children of God by virtue of our baptism. We can and must say that Christ is OUR brother. That is healthy possessive love. But if love only remains possessive, it will deteriorate eventually and become selfish love. Here is where the pornographic distortion of eros occurs and what the world calls 'erotic love' is nothing more than self-satisfaction. It is NOT love since it is not centered on the relationship; rather, it is centered on the ME (the ego).

Yet the Holy Father says that God shows possessive (eros) love in that He wants to have us with him for eternity. "I will be YOUR God and you will be MY people." Jesus said he was building HIS Church and Saint Paul says WE are the Mystical Body of Christ, the living Church on earth. The Holy Eucharist UNITES the believers as ONE.

The other necessary element of love is oblative (sacrificial). God so loved the world that he GAVE us His only begotten Son. The Son so loved us that He gave His very life for us. The lover is willing to surrender, to give, to sacrifice for the other. That is agape love as opposed to eros love which is the having and receiving aspect of love.

The Holy Eucharist is not only the means by which we RECEIVE Jesus, it is also the sacrifice He makes on our behalf. Christ willingly gave up His life in atonement for our sins. He ransomed us from the Devil. He sacrificed His body and blood on the Cross. Even the elements Jesus used at the Last Supper which every priest continues to use today at every Mass: wheat bread and grape wine; these are fruits of SACRIFICE. Grains of wheat must be GROUND and PULVERIZED to become flour before combining with water and baked in the oven to become bread. Likwise, grapes must be CRUSHED and juice feremented before becoming wine. You and I must be willing to be GROUND and to be CRUSHED; to be BROKEN and POURED OUT just as Jesus was.

The Holy Eucharist is above all else a sacrifice (Dominicae Cenae #9) There can be no Sacrament without a Sacrifice. Possessive love NEEDS oblative love to complete and perfect it. It is not a matter of EITHER ... OR but a matter of BOTH ... AND that is, true real love is BOTH possessive and oblative. It gives and receives.

We receive Jesus in Holy Communion but we must also SURRENDER (give) our wills to be replaced by His will. "Take up your cross daily and follow me" is about SACRIFICE. It is sacrificial love, which every parent knows well. When you have children they demand you give up your free time to care for them. But as they grow up, they must learn the value of giving as well as receiving. As they enjoy the fruits of YOUR sacrifice, they need to cultivate a desire to sacrifice FOR others.

Hence, the Holy Eucharist is the plenitude and plethora, the epitome and quintessence of Divine Love, possessive and oblative. When we make a small sacrifice and take time out of our busy schedules to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, the fruit of our offering will be the quality time we are now able to spend in the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior.

Unless the grain of wheat dies, it cannot bear fruit. We must die to self and sacrifice our will and allow the Will of God to fill the void. In a secular era where pleasure and convenience are almost deities unto themselves, human beings NEED to know how fragile life is and how precious and valuable real sacrifice can be. Nothing of value is free. Salvation and redemption had a high price. The Messiah died FOR us so we could OBTAIN eternal life. We need the Eucharist to sustain our ability to balance possessive and oblative love in our own lives.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

40 Hours Eucharistic Devotions

I have the honor and privilege of preaching the parish Forty Hours in my friend's (Fr. Luis Rodriguez) church (Mary Mother of the Church, Mt Joy, PA) Sun-Tue, Sep. 6-8. Here is a summary of my talk:


Since our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has declared this to be the Year for Priests, it would be helpful for us to meditate on the connection and bond between the Blessed Sacrament and the Priesthood; between the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders. Without a valid priesthood, there can be no valid Eucharist. Only validly ordained priests can confect the Blessed Sacrament by using valid matter, form and intention. Likewise, the very raison d'être of the Priesthood is the Holy Eucharist. We priests are ordained to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The other things we do, while important, can be done by others. Deacons can baptize and witness marriages. They can proclaim the Gospel and preach the homily. Laity can also teach as catechists and they can visit the sick and give spiritual direction. While only priests and bishops can absolve sins in the sacrament of Penance, in periculo mortis whenever there is no priest available, a person can make a PERFECT ACT OF CONTRITION which will suffice. However, when there is no priest, there is no Eucharist. Extraordinary Ministers can only give Holy Communion after a priest has consecrated hosts beforehand.

It was no coincidence that Our Divine Lord instituted BOTH Holy Orders and Holy Eucharist at the same time (Last Supper).

As we enter into the annual Forty Hours Devotions for this parish, let us focus on the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders; on the Blessed Sacrament and the Priesthood. Specifically, we will look at the way in which Christ the Priest via the Holy Eucharist continues His priesthood to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd His people.

The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life, the Second Vatican Council tells us (Lumen Gentium #11). The Catechism teaches us:

1391 Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."

On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, "Christ is risen!" Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ.

1392 What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh "given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit," preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.

1393 Holy Communion separates us from sin. The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is "given up for us," and the blood we drink "shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins." For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins:

For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the Lord's death, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins. If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy.

1394 As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him

Christ the Priest SANCTIFIES us through His Precious Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. We are made holy by what and whom we receive. Our intimate contact and indeed UNION WITH (communio) THE Holy of Holies; the Holy Trinity, sanctifies us by just being in the presence and proximity to the fullness of all holiness. Since Holy Communion IS the real, true and substantial Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ, we can and rightfully must say that the Holy Eucharist IS God Himself. As we cannot separate the Divine Persons of the Trinity, where one is, there are all three. If Jesus, the Son, is really present in the Holy Eucharist, then so are God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Look at the holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was preserved from all sin by a special singular grace but she was also the closest human being to Jesus Christ. Not just geographically but spiritually and emotionally as well. The closer you get to pure holiness, the more you feel and you become sanctified by what you are approaching.

Not only is there physical contact (eating the Host) and spiritual (sacred food for the soul) but there is also a UNITY of all the parts of the Mystical Body. Just as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, bones, brain, etc. are connected and WORK AS ONE under the guidance of the soul (intellect & will), so, too, the Mystical Body of Christ directs and unites all the parts (you and I and all the baptized). We are made holy by our contact with the Lord God Himself.

This is why frequent (and worthy) reception of Holy Communion is ESSENTIAL. Frequent and regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament (perpetual adoration) SANCTIFIES us and makes us HOLY. When Catholics stay away from the Holy Eucharist, they deprive their soul of necessary grace just as depriving lungs of needed air or depriving the heart of needed blood.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What ???

OK, we knew that pastoral sensitivity for the grieving and mourning family precluded any stern admonitions of the late Senator Ted Kennedy's inexcusable pro-abortion stance at his funeral. Yet, we did not expect nor deserve the bizarre liturgical aberrations witnessed at the funeral liturgy, either.

The symbols, gestures and prayers of the Catholic funeral rite speak for themselves and do not need extraneous diatribe. The Roman Ritual (Ordinary or Extraordinary) has a very brief prayer before the casket is sprinkled with holy water to remind us of baptism and the placing of the funeral pall, another reminder of baptism and the resurrection of the body on the last day. The priest who said the opening prayer, however, had some extra verbiage which always spurs on the question, why? The Funeral Mass of Christian Burial is the SAME for a Senator or a citizen; a general or a private; an admiral or a sailor. SAY THE BLACK AND DO THE RED is what should have been done across the board.

The homily is NOT to be a eulogy but a theological meditation on the mystery of life, death and resurrection. It almost sounded like a canonization ceremony which is too common as it is already in many parishes. While prudence and pastoral compassion prevented a reading of the spiritual riot act for the Senator's obstinate support of abortion legislation, nevertheless, it was more than mere negligence to completely omit ANY mention of purgatory or the power of intercessory prayer FOR the dead. I pray and hope that Ted died in the state of grace with all his sins forgiven. At the same time, too many Catholics and other Christians overlook the reality that we are all sinners. Ted made mistakes, as did you and I. He sinned, as do you and I. Even if, God willing, he died with true repentance, the horror of millions of unborn babies being killed by abortion thanks to his legislative cooperation requires some purgation.

Even President Obama was more Catholic in his eulogy (which should not take place after Communion or in Church but should be done at the funeral parlor the night before OR at the graveside AFTER the burial services are concluded) where he delicately stated that Senator Kennedy was not perfect and he did make some imprudent decisions as well as some regrettable choices. The priest who preached could have used the golden opportunity to explain WHY we Catholic Christians BURY our dead (doctrine of the resurrection) and WHY we PRAY for the dead (doctrine of purgatory and doctrine of the communion of saints). Many Catholics and Protestants have embraced the heretical notions of reincarnation or that there is no hell let alone a purgatory. He could have briefly mentioned the beautiful theology by which the love we experience on earth does not unravel with death; that the dead in purgatory or heaven still love us and we love them. They pray for us and we pray for them (those in purgatory since those in heaven need nothing.)

Rather, we got a typical travelogue on the accomplishments of a US Senator. Fine, we do that at most funerals since the sad reality is that many of the deceased we bury are not regular church going Catholics who come every weekend or everyweekday to Mass or who go to confession once a month or more. You cannot say Fred or Barney were devout Catholics if they missed Mass on a regular basis. You cannot say Wilma or Betty were pillars of the parish if they were also radical feminists who supported Planned Parenthood. Yes, a few of the authentic devout Catholics do die and the parish is at a great loss when it happens. Sadly, we have more clergy and laity who are just NICE and who live a GOOD and decent life. But Jesus, the Bible and His Holy Church tell us poignantly and bluntly that one must become HOLY to enter heaven.

Gratia non tollit sed perfecit naturam, Aquinas said (grace does not destroy but perfects nature). Hence, we must first cultivate a VIRTUOUS life before we can adequately develop a life of HOLINESS and SANCTITY. Supernature builds upon nature. Holiness begins with goodness. We've lowered the standards, however, over the past 50 years so that people no longer fear hell but presume most if not everyone is going to heaven.

Only the good, just and merrciful Lord can and will judge Sen. Ted Kennedy, for all his good deeds and all his bad ones. For the sins of comission and omission; for his spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Even the holiest person wants their surviving family and friends to PRAY FOR THEM after they die. No wonder the number of requests for Mass intentions has fallen dramatically these past 25 years. If everyone goes directly to heaven, why do they need a Mass for their immortal soul? Why bother with a wake service or rosary the night before? Why even have a Funeral Mass? I hate to say it, but all too often, even regular, Sunday church going Catholics do not always have a Funeral Mass before their burial. Some of the adult children who no longer practice or who are in their second or third invalid marriage and cannot receive Holy Communion tell the undertaker to tell the priest, WE DON'T WANT A MASS just a short prayer service at the parlor or at the grave.

The Catholic practice of having Masses offered FOR the souls of the faithful departed goes back to Apostolic times. When some of the lapsi (Christians who denied their faith during the time of Roman persecutions) repented and came back to the Church, they very much wanted prayers and Masses offered for them POST MORTEM (after death). The efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is beyond our feeble understanding.

But, no, Father had to wax eloquently on the private and political life of a US Senator. Everyone in that church knew he supported abortion most if not all his political life and that is formal cooperation in evil. We give him the benefit of the doubt that he had final penitence and made a good confession before receiving the last rites. If God willing he did die repentant, his soul might and most probably would need some cleansing (purgation) for all the children who died in the womb thanks to his legislation. If he is in Purgatory, he WANTS and NEEDS our prayers. Yet, from what we heard at the funeral homily, his good work for the poor outweighed and trumped any sins he may have committed. He most likely did do more good than evil but unless someone is declared a saint by the pope, we HOPE the person is either IN heaven or WILL BE in heaven (since they are preparing themselves in Purgatory).

The Prayers of the Faithful were the next attrocity. It is nice that each member of his family participated, HOWEVER, using Ted Kennedy's own words as substitutes for licit petitions is just WRONG. At least one or two of them were blatant, political and partisan slogans and NOT appropriate as prayers of the faithful, which, by the way, are in the same Funeral Ritual which tells the priest what to say and do IF he says the black and obeys the red.

The cameras conspicuously avoided showing us WHO went and received Holy Communion, unlike previous Papal Masses in the USA where notorious pro-abortion politicians approached and were given the Blessed Sacrament. We hope and pray that did not happen at the funeral Mass. The USCCB statement, while accurate, needs to be EDITED. The first line says 'we welcome everyone to this Eucharistic celebration' and only in the THIRD paragraph does it mention that the Church is unable to offer Communion to those who are not IN communion with the Catholic Church. It should say that in the FIRST paragraph AND in the FIRST line. 'While we regret we cannot give Communion to non-Catholics or Catholics not properly disposed, it is not because we are making an moral or spiritual judgment, rather, the tradition and doctrine of the Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) Churches has been and remains that being IN communion is a prerequisite to RECEIVING Communion. In other words, one must be united with the Catholic Church in ALL of her teachings (doctrine) on faith and morals; be united with the Catholic Church in ALL her laws (discipline); be united with ALL her legitimate authorities, namely, the Pope and Bishops united with him (hierarchy); and be united with ALL seven sacraments and the Church's liturgies (divine worship). We hope and pray for the day when all Christians will be united de facto in word and sacrament under one shepherd at which time we can fully share Holy Communion. In the meantime, we respectfully ask that you respect our traditions and beliefs and if not a Catholic in full communion and in the state of grace and properly disposed, please do not come up to receive Communion BUT pray for greater unity among the churches so that one day all may be one. Thank you for your invaluable assistance and cooperation." or words to that effect.

I do not think Senator Kennedy should have been denied a Funeral or a Funeral Mass but I expected more adherence to the official rubrics of the Roman Ritual which apply to everyone, Senator, Congressman, Governor, President or just any regular citizen, be it Joe the Plumber or Bob the Autoworker. I do not think every jot and tittle of this funeral liturgy were given advance warning to His Emminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston. The priests who were celebrant and homilist and who prepared the liturgy knew what they were doing. Yes, by all means give the man a decent funeral and show the non-Catholic world the sublime beauty of the Catholic funeral rites. But follow the book and realize that next week and next month, pastors all over America are going to get bizarre requests for funerals of their loved ones based on what was seen on television.

Personally, I would have worn violet or purple or black vestments, to show mourning of Holy Mother Church over the death of one of her children AND to instill some sober thoughts of penance and praying for the dead that their sins be forgiven. The white pall and holy water and Easter (Paschal) Candle all represent the joy of Resurrection. But even Our Blessed Lord WEPT at the grave of Lazarus His dear friend, moments before He raised him from the dead. Often, the white vestments and the near canonization of the deceased at the homily eclipse any thought of praying FOR the deceased. Yet, that is our PRIMARY reason for Funeral Masses and the SECONDARY is the consolation of the grieving and mourning survivors, not vice versa.

Another reason eulogies do not belong at the tailend of a Catholic Funeral Mass is often the family and friends of the deceased who do speak either do so unintelligibly due to grief and cannot be understood OR they espouse totally non-Christian ideas about life after death. I have heard too many eulogies where the person speaking asked the congregation to keep the deceased 'alive in our memories.' The deceased IS alive even if our memories fail us and we forget. The immortal soul NEVER DIES and the body we commend to the earth with burial will be resurrected on the Last Day and reunited with its original soul. I don't get the impression that a lot of 'Christians' still believe that, however. Often, you get the impression from what they say that being a nice guy was the most important thing so that everyone liked you and therefore they will remember you fondly. That is NOT Chritian theology. We believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God; that we are made of a body and soul which is temporarily separated at death but will be reunited at the Resurrection of the Dead when Jesus returns for His Second Coming to Judge the living and the dead at the end of the world. Once created at CONCEPTION, every human being has an immortal soul which never dies and will spend eternity in heaven or hell. Our goal and mission in life is to discern the will of God and then do it so we can be with Him forever. God made us to KNOW, LOVE and SERVE HIM IN THIS LIFE SO AS TO BE HAPPY WITH HIM FOREVER IN THE NEXT LIFE. That is much more and is more profound than a simple fond memory in the brains of our relatives and friends, is it not? I agree that Ted Kennedy's accomplishments and the good he did be told and revealed to the public. We must also admit he was wrong to support abortion and we ought to presume he made peace with God before his death and repent of his past sins. If he made a good confession and was anointed, he still deserves our PRAYERS just in case there was still some temporal punishment due to sin left on his soul. I prayed for the soul of beloved brother Michael today. He would have been 43 years old August 29th had he not died of Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 26. He sufferend immensely from his disease with several painful operations, leg braces, wheelchair and being bedridden at the end. His cross was a million times heavier than anything I have ever been asked to endure my entire life. But I still have a Mass offered for his soul and I pray for his soul, and the soul of my other departed brother Joe, my departed sister Mary and my beloved father, John Trigilio, Sr. All of them were much holier and far better persons than I will ever be but I still pray FOR them and ask that they do likewise and pray FOR ME.

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