Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bambinelli / Gaudete Sunday


This weekend is not only GAUDETE SUNDAY but also Bambinelli Sunday when the Pope blesses the Baby Jesus figurines brought by the children of Rome to be blessed by the Successor of Saint Peter.  Began by Pope John Paul the Great, parishes around the world now invite the wee people to make a connection with the nativity set at home and the local church where they worship each weekend.  More than mere decoration, the Christmas Creche was created by Saint Francis of Assisi to make the Christmas celebration what it is supposed to be, a RELIGIOUS EVENT.

God our Father,
you loved us so much
you sent us your only Son,
born of the Virgin Mary,
to save us and lead us back to

We pray that, with your blessing,
these images of Jesus might
a sign of your presence and love
in our homes.

give your blessing
to all who gather with us this
family and friends.

Open our hearts,
that we might
receive Jesus in joy,
do always what he asks of us
and see him in those
who need our love.

We ask this in the name of Jesus,
your beloved Son,
who came to give peace to the world.
You who live and reign forever and


BTW, thank for all the prayers for my Mom while she is hospitalized.
She is doing better and although she still needs two major surgeries either before or after the New Year, her trust in Divine Providence is truly inspiring.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

prayer request for mother


Please keep my mom (LIZ TRIGILIO) in prayer.  I took her to Lourdes in November, 2008.  She has been in the hospital since last Wednesday when her blood pressure became dangerously high (severe acute hypertension).  She also needs operations on her heart and on her back (lower spine) once she is well enough for surgery.  Mom will be 78 next February. A widow since 1998, my mother buried three of her four children before my dad died. Both of them took exemplary care of my brother Michael during his short life of 26 years battling Muscular Dystrophy followed by my father's battle with leukemia. He died six months after my younger brother Joseph was killed by an underage drunk driver who never spent one day in jail nor one dime in fines.

Thanksgiving was a very quiet day as she was too weak and too ill to leave the house or even to get out of bed.  Deo volente, she will be discharged before this weekend and be on the road to recovery soon.  The Discalced Cloistered Carmelites in Erie need her as she is sort of an extern in that she helps out as one of the sacristans and as a gal-Friday doing shopping and driving the nuns to doctor appointments now and then. My brother Mark and I appreciate your kindness in offering any prayers you can for our dear and beloved mother. Being 300+ miles away (from my parish to her home) makes it difficult but the Good Lord and His Holy Mother have blessed us with the help of some very good friends and family members.

   If anyone would like to send a get well card, please address it to:
ERIE, PA  16509-3799

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


USA Today says there are parallels between Penn State sex scandal and the Catholic Priest sex scandals. In one sense, they are right. In another, they are dead wrong.

On the one hand, ANY and EVERY act of sex abuse of a child (pedophilia) or teenager (ephebophilia) is a heinous crime and most grave moral sin. EVERY sex abuser, regardless of their gender, religion, occupation should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Yet, we also live in a democratic republic where the rule of law states that EVERYONE IS PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. Even Roman Law (the basis for ecclesiastical canon law) guarantees DUE PROCESS for anyone accused. The burden of proof rests with the accuser not the accused.

However, when it comes to clergy, because a handful of bishops botched the situation by ignoring complaints or clandestinely transferring known or accused sex abusers, due process is sometimes denied. When a priest is accused of sexually abusing a minor, he must (by Dallas Charter) immediately be removed from public office and then an investigation ensues. When a bishop is accused, however, he does not step down.

LIkewise, when a civilian (layman) is accused, he retains his civil liberties and constitutional rights. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty..

Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with allegedly sexually abusing eight boys (pre-pubescent) over a period of 15 years. He was an assistant coach to the famous Head Coach Joe Paterno.  While immediate superiors were alerted no one made sure that a follow up full disclosure be made to the local police.

While it is horrible that any acts of child sex abuse ever take place, we must admit the disgusting reality that perversion knows no boundaries.

Catholic Priests, Protestant Ministers, Jewish Rabbis, single celibate men and maried men alike, black and white, poor and rich alike; parents, siblings, relatives and neighbors, coaches and scout masters, teachers and others have committed vile acts against children. If you crunch the numbers and do the math, you'll see that Catholic Clergy are NOT the most populous offenders.

CNN did a special the other day on defrocked Catholic priests who were accused of pedophilia but never convicted for their crimes they committed on innocent victims. Problem is that MANY if not MOST perverts can legally buy or rent homes in local neighborhoods near innocent CHILDREN. But the report made it seem as if ONLY ex-Catholic Clergy were the villans and no one else. POPPYCOCK. !!!  Most child abuse is done by parents, siblings and close relatives. Yet, one case is one too many. Pedophilia is not a Catholic nor a celibate issue.  It is a perversion and an immoral evil which do not discriminate victims or perpetrators.   

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fools for Christ / Catholic Dummies

Saint Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:10 that "we are fools for Christ."

The original Greek word used in the sacred text was μωροὶ (moroi), the root word for the English word MORON.

No one takes offense at this literary device which obviously does not convey a literal interpretation. It is a figure of speech. It is a METAPHOR. Saint Paul did not intend to offend his brother Christians. He was using a biblical theme, however, that in the eyes of the world, the man of faith appears foolish. The secular world does not believe in God nor in the immortal soul nor in life after death. Certainly, the secularist does not believe in the resurrection (of Christ or of the dead in general). For believers, death is merely going to sleep. The secularists consider Christian doctrine of soul and the hereafter as foolish nonsense since it cannot be proved empirically. Earlier in his epistle to the church in Corinth, Saint Paul says "we preach Christ crucified, a scandal to Jews and a folly (
μωρίαν = morian
) to Greeks."

Hence, the interpretation of ANY word depends on the CONTEXT. 
Fr. Levis said a million times on WEB OF FAITH that whenever you take a TEXT out of CONTEXT you get a PRETEXT.

Therefore, the use of the word DUMMIES in the titles of our books is meant to be METAPHORICAL and not literal. It is a figure of speech in the same line and tradition of Saint Paul when he says we are FOOLS FOR CHRIST. He neither insults Jesus nor His followers.

The title, by the way, is copyrighted and owned by the Wiley Publishing Co.  They hired (contracted) me and Father Ken Brighenti to write CATHOLICISM FOR DUMMIES (and four other titles: Women in the Bible for Dummies; John Paul II for Dummies; Saints for Dummies: and Catholic Mass for Dummies)

The SECOND EDITION of CATHOLICISM FOR DUMMIES has just been printed and is now available on line ( and Barnes & Noble), at your local Catholic bookstore and at EWTN Religious Catalog

The Dummies series has over 800+ titles, from Cats for Dummies and Dogs for Dummies to Quantum Physics for Dummies and Differential Calculus for Dummies. The premise is that the book is about a serious topic but written in such a way that the reader does NOT have to be an expert to understand the book. Yet, every now and then we get emails from devout and good people who take exception to the title and feel offended. Our purpose and intent was NOT to insult any more than Saint Paul meant to offend the Corinthians. In fact, most college and high school students have read several different varieties of Dummies (and Complete Idiot's Guide) to many, many subjects, including the Bible for Dummies and Latin for Dummies, just to mention two off hand. Knowing that, we secured IMPRIMATURS for CATHOLICISM FOR DUMMIES (1st and 2nd editions) as well as CATHOLIC MASS FOR DUMMIES. This allows the books to be used in RCIA, CCD, adult education, et al.  Fallen away Catholics, adult children and alumni of Catholic grade schools have found the books helpful in reintroducing them to the Catholic faith.

Catholicism for Dummies conforms to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hence, the granting of the imprimatur). Not all books in this genre have that authentic seal of orthodoxy. We used the structure of the FOUR PILLARS OF FAITH (the Creed, the Seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments and the Our Father or Lord's Prayer) as the CCC uses to organize the material and thus covering Catholic doctrine, worship, morality and spirituality.

Father Brighenti and I hope you will enjoy and find the 2nd Edition of CFD an easy read but also an edifying one in that it wets your whistle to read more about the faith.
The recently released (a few months ago) CATHOLIC MASS FOR DUMMIES has a history of Mass, explains the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, the Byzantine and Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy, the use of Latin and the Vernacular, vestments and vessels, Holy days, liturgical year and liturgical calendars, etc.

The upcoming changes in the English translation of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal are also explained just in time for the implementation in North America November 27.

Now they call us the "Dummies' Priests" and I say, "but we are ALL fools for Christ." I URGE Catholic parents (whether your son or daughter is in high school or college) especially if they are grown up and living on their own but no longer practice the faith, PLEASE, get our book and strategically leave it in your son or daughter's home nice time you visit.  Don't give it to them outright.  Don't leave it on the kitchen table (or dining room table or living room table for that matter).  Leave it in the bathroom or mix it in with their other periodicals, newspapers and printed reading materials. That way, they MIGHT glance at it when NO ONE IS LOOKING or when no one is around. 9 times out of 10, they read more than a page or two. Many read more than one chapter. I have been told by lots of Catholic parents that their adult children who WERE lukewarm or who defected to other religions, have now been reconsidering their position and a good number actually approach their local parish priest or campus Catholic chaplain.

I know some may think this a shameful self-promotion but that is not true. I meet, speak, email, with many Catholic parents who wonder where did they go wrong and why are their adult children no longer practicing Catholics. Some of the blame goes to horrible inadequate catechesis. CCD and religion books in the days before the Catechism (pre-1992) had sociology and psychology replacing theology. Butterflies and pet rocks replaced the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Some of the blame goes to whacky priests and nuns who live in a time warp and refuse to admit that the '60's are OVER. Woodstock is long gone. Some blame goes to lax parents who presumed their local parish and parochial school would teach the unadulterated faith to their kids and never checked it out by ASKING Johnny or Susie what they learned in CCD or religion class. Some blame goes to so-called Catholic colleges who hired dissidents and gave them tenure so students could be brainwashed to accept heterodoxy while mommy and daddy paid outrageous tuition fees. Some blame goes to bishops who did not investigate seminaries and colleges in their dioceses to make sure EX CORDE ECCLESIAE was implemented and that the Catechism would be taught and known by teacher and student alike in all levels of Catholic education. Some blame goes to pastors who did not review catechetical material and just gave carte blanche to DRE's who never took theology classes but did attend workshops and seminars given by ex-priests, femme-nazi nuns (incognito, of course) and unorthodox liturgists who have monosyllabic names. Enough blame to go around for everyone, I guess. But now, with the revised English translation and the implementation of Summorum Pontificum allowing universal celebration of the Extraordinary Form, there is GREAT HOPE a Catholic Renaissance will unfold. REVERENCE for the HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS and RESPECT for the Magisterium will have a reciprocal effect. LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI. Our Holy rituals and rites are organically and integrally connected to the holy truths of our holy religion. Previous eras attempted to desecrate our church by removing sacred language, sacred art, and sacred science. Secular and pedestrian language (prayers and hymns), secular (a.k.a. modern) art, and secular humanism crept in over the past half century but God gave us JP2 and B16 to steer the barque of Peter back on course. More young people know their faith, love their faith and practice their faith than the secular media portrays. WYD attracts myriads and unlike the occupy Wallstreet gang, there are no incidents of violence, disrespect, or misbehavior. There are two or three middle generations who need prayers and guidance. There is no such thing as a 'lost' generation, just an uncatechized (or often, a poorly or improperly catechized) one.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Priests are Happy and Sometimes Not

Recently, I attended a symposium on the priesthood at Catholic University of America. The keynote speaker was Msgr. Stephen Rossetti. He spoke on the data he included in his recent book “Why Priests Are Happy: A study of the psychological and spiritual health of priests.”  The evidence speaks for itself. Most priests are in fact happy BEING priests. A few, in fact a very small minority, are unhappy and regret making promises of celibacy and obedience. These fellows are much like their lay counterparts who regret either their choice of spouse or even being married at all. There will always be a few who did not choose properly and perhaps were too immature at the time or were pressured to make such an important and lifelong decision. Nevertheless, the commitment to one’s spouse, be it a woman or the Church, is a decision for life. That is told to men before they make it and it is reiterated throughout their lives. Society on the other hand, tells these guys that no decision is forever. Modern culture thrives on the supremacy of the ego, hence, some people disregard solemn oaths ‘until death do us part.’ Priesthood (in the Latin Rite) is a marriage of the ordained man to his spouse, the Church. And like all married men, that marital bond is intended for life even if one later realizes he made a mistake. The time to change your mind is BEFORE saying ‘I do’ whether to a bride or to a bishop.

Where I take variance with Monsignor Rossetti is that while most priests are happy being priests, which includes celibacy and obedience, not all enjoy how priests are treated. A very few may resent getting up in three in the morning to anoint a dying person at the nursing home or may regret sacrificing a wife and kids to comfort them in late middle age and beyond. Those kind of priests who fortunately few and far between. Most priests know it comes with the job and they offer it up for a higher purpose. What many priests dislike, however, is when they feel like they work for a corporation more than for a family of faith.

The corporate business model some bishops and dioceses espouse make pastors feel like middle management and not as spiritual shepherds of the local, neighborhood flock. Most priests do love the priesthood. Most love being priests and doing priestly work. Most are willing to sacrifice time, opportunity and reward for the higher good of saving souls. What most priests do NOT like is the often oppressive bureaucracy emanating from diocesan headquarters. Canon law and liturgical rubrics are not the problem, but often the plethora of diocesan regulations and policies that go well beyond micromanagement. Vatican II spoke of subsidiarity, yet most times even legitimate options afforded priests are being transformed into mandatory rules as if Father is not qualified to decide for himself.

No one is saying that we should change the priority of study at the seminary. Philosophy and Theology must remain first and foremost. Perhaps, one semester on management would help so that a new pastor would be confident in hiring or firing employees; in knowing when replacing the boiler takes a back seat to replacing the roof; in balancing a budget for an average size parish with a school and CCD program three or four times as large as the school; should he try to keep and/or get new religious sisters to teach or go all lay.

Mundane as the business of running a parish can get, even that is doable if you have some competent parishioners to advise and guide you on parish council and finance committee alike. What really makes priests unhappy, however, is the injustice done to brother priests by their own kind. There will always a few parishioners who misunderstand or just dislike you for no reason whatsoever. Some personalities will spread rumor and gossip about the priests of the parish from time to time but many will quietly approve and appreciate what you do.

Professional jealousy and clerical sycophants are what discourage priests. When their bishops do not treat them as sons of the church but as lower level managers whose task is to be a company man at all times, then you get some unhappy priests on your hands. When the same guys have been on Personnel Board for the past 20 to 30 years; when assignments are made not based on qualifications but on church politics and ‘who you know rather than what you know;’ when special treatment is given to those who went to the bishop’s alma mater while those who had to fight tooth and nail to preserve their orthodoxy and virtue while in the seminary are made to feel like misfits after ordination; these make for disillusioned clergy to be sure.

Foibles of parish life are like family life. Any husband and father realizes that no family is perfect and that every day has its challenges. Likewise, every priest knows that no parish is perfect (and no pastor or parochial vicar is perfect either). There are good days and bad days. Many challenges and many opportunities for grace and conversion. What deflates priests, is not celibacy or Magisterium, but subterfuge, duplicity and deceit from their own ordained brethren. When church ceases to be about faith and more about solvency, then priestly zeal can drop dramatically. Yes, bills must be paid and responsible financial procedures and policies be in operation. On the other hand, bishops do not need ‘yes’ men, they need honest, courageous, and un-ambitious advisors to give them reliable and responsible counsel. Sometimes, you wonder if the old Soviet Union did not reincarnate or morph itself into a diocesan bureaucracy.

Priests are happy being priests and doing priestly things, like celebrating the Sacraments, teaching the faith, visiting the sick, and helping parents form their children into Christian men and women. What makes us unhappy is being treated like we’re guilty before we even know what the accusation is. What kills priestly zeal is corporate red tape and extreme micromanagement. I promised respect and obedience to my bishop and his successors but not to a committee or board advising him on numerous matters.  That is not to say most priests who work in chanceries and central administration are not devout, sincere, hard working or competent men. Most are. But there are places where the tenure has been so long and the cronyism so pronounced that middle management makes itself indispensible and necessary. During the worst of the clergy sex scandals, it was not just the perverts who misbehaved and a few bishops who swept things under the carpet, it was also a few middle management clergy giving bad advice and a few becoming a buffer between priest and bishop. When that happens, good priests are unable to communicate important information to their chief shepherd because someone in between has blocked or intercepted the message. Access to the bishop for any priest has to be unfettered as any son would be to his dad. When the corporate model is enshrined, however, it feels like only the vice presidents and board members have access and lower level employees just do their work and keep quiet.

I have been ordained 23½ years and can truthfully say I would not be happy doing or being anything else in the world. I love being a priest and love doing priestly things. What disheartens me and my colleagues is not the human element but the dark side of human nature which can tarnish any human heart, be it clergy or laity, priest, deacon or bishop.

When priests are told they need to get anger management treatment merely because they preached a homily in support of Humanae Vitae and in condemnation of birth control and abortion; when priests are admonished for enforcing canon law and requiring sponsors for baptism and confirmation to be Catholics in good standing; when priests are reprimanded for exercising their legitimate liturgical options as stated in universal law; when pastors spend sleepless nights over meeting diocesan assessments; when assignments and transfers are arbitrary and haphazard rather than based on experience, history and qualifications; then zeal begins to erode and evaporate.

On the other hand, when priests feel like they actually belong and work in a family of faith rather than in a corporate business, they are willing to endure any hardship, obstacle or inconvenience. When priests feel that their bishops see them as spiritual sons rather than ordained employees, they will love them in return and serve them to the best of their abilities.  Most priests ARE happy but they can be even happier. Does not mean more pay or more vacation. Does not mean eliminating celibacy or the hierarchy. It means ditching the corporate model once and for all. Bishops are more than Vice Presidents and corporate executives. They are SHEPHERDS and priests and deacons are there to serve and assist them.

It helps when church authority is employed to discipline all instances of misbehavior (like teaching heterodoxy or committing liturgical abuse) and not just when it involves personally disagreeing with one’s superiors or their prudential judgments. Stepping one someone’s toes is not the same gravity as denying a revealed truth or committing sacrilege, yet often those crimes go unnoticed or unpunished while minor infractions of diocesan policy are punished with severity and swiftness.

The aftermath of the scandals has made some of the faithful suspicious but most still trust and love their priests. The excessive and over-the-top sacrosanct respect given to the clergy until the end of the 1950’s has gone and rightfully so. Sadly, some parishioners have become more bellicose, contentious and disrespectful especially when a priest is merely defending church doctrine or enforcing church discipline. Yet, even these burdens can be borne as long as the priest feels he is supported downtown as well. Priests expect to be called on the carpet if we are guilty of misbehaving in any way but we also presume to be backed up when we defend Holy Mother Church by those lukewarm Catholics who seek to make her irrelevant in matters of faith and morals.

A good and holy priest, like Father Robert Levis, who just turned 90 this summer, is now living in a nursing home. He was very active until two years ago when he fell and suffered a concussion to the head and later broke his hip. Yet, he spent 65 years of priesthood faithfully serving the Church. Most of his time was spent teaching at Gannon University especially as Director of the Pontifical Center for Catechetical Studies. Staunchly defending the Magisterium in a time when there was no universal catechism (before 1992) and when most religion texts for children had butterflies and clouds rather than Commandments and Seven Sacraments, he valiantly fought for orthodoxy from pre-K to Grade 12. He championed Catholic colleges and universities to return to their Catholic roots and embrace Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Ridiculed by some but loved by so many more, Father Levis not only exemplified defensor fidei, he also personified priesthood. Offering Mass every day of his priesthood, he served in local parishes every weekend, sometimes driving many miles in horrible snowy weather.

Father Levis regularly came to my home to anoint, bring Holy Communion and hear my brother’s confession. Michael had been suffering from Muscular Dystrophy all his life and was in a wheelchair as a teenager and bedridden in his early 20’s. He died at the age of 26 but looked forward to Father Levis’ monthly pastoral visits. And there were hundreds of people Father Levis visited and thousands he counseled and gave spiritual direction. Many conversions and reversions are owed to his effort. Writing software and then books to teach the faith to youngsters and teens alike, Father Bob is most famous for being the primary host of WEB OF FAITH on EWTN.

Despite all his achievements and successes, he was never elevated to any papal honor. Many of his contemporaries were made Monsignors but not Father Levis. He would never seek it nor expect it. But no one on this earth can deny that if anyone ever deserved it, it was Levis. In other dioceses outgoing bishops often get some purple for their loyal supporters. Being made a Monsignor does not make a priest happy nor does denying the honor make him unhappy. Seeing a political use of the papal honor, however, leaves a bad taste among many. Father Levis despite his confinement has always been a happy priest. He LOVES his priesthood. I and many others think all honors, be they papal knighthood or being made a chaplain to his Holiness, they should go to priests who earned it by going over and beyond what is already and normally expected in every priest. Happiness would be knowing that a dear beloved friend and mentor was finally given the honor and recognition he was due BEFORE he left this earth.

I have other priest friends who are of Levis’ ilk. They, too, personify priestly piety and holiness. They are parish priests, seminary faculty and hospital and prison chaplains. They are devout, orthodox, reverent and deeply in love with the Church, the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Mother and totally loyal to the Roman Pontiff. But they are not political nor are they company men. It is unlikely any of them will receive formal honors or recognition. That will not make them unhappy but it will make those of us who appreciate and revere them most unhappy. When I was a child in Catholic grade school, I remember the pastor, Monsignor Connelly giving a shiny silver dollar to the student who made the most improvement, who attended the most school days, who got the best grades. That recognition made many of us aspire to do better and try harder. If the pastor had given awards to his favorites, on the other hand, no one would have been encouraged in the least bit. Yes, there are many happy priests who are happy being priests and happy doing priestly work. The few who go beyond the required and who show courage in time of adversity, honor and integrity in time of opposition and heroic virtue day in and day out should be recognized so as to show the rest it can be done. Excellence is not a fantasy. Celibacy and obedience are not seeds of unhappiness, either. Sacrifice, self-denial and perseverance help fighting the good fight and finishing the race.

When the human element of the Church is fair and just, that enables the rank and file to busy themselves with the pastoral work that has to be done. When there is cronyism, politics, skullduggery and intrigue among the clergy (upper and lower), then the zeal can be robbed from those who find it distasteful and inappropriate. Happiness is the natural object of the human person that is why we seek eternal happiness in the next life. Happiness is like joy. It comes from having inner peace which is tranquility of order. When our will conforms to the Divine Will, there is harmony and peace in our soul and that creates a sense of happiness. Knowing you are doing what the Lord wants you to do makes you happy. But human beings can also bring unhappiness when they distort the truth and when they deny justice to fellow human beings. A former bishop told me that he loved to get letters of support for his priests since most people only write their bishop when they want to complain about a priest and rarely to compliment him. We have all had the experience of the nasty letter from the irate parishioner who feels mistreated. Whenever a positive letter came in, this bishop made the same effort to call the priest in and share the contents. If more parishioners wrote supportive letters before their pastor got transferred or before he leaves this earth, it might help keep more guys happy on the job. When you doubt that your efforts have any effect, that there may be no fruit to your labor, it can be discouraging. Hence, I always tell people when I visit other parishes that they need to express their satisfaction from time to time, to their priest and to their bishop. No need to remind them to complain when he is not doing what he is supposed to do, people react immediately and rightfully so. Jesus often gave encouragement and so should all of us.    

Friday, September 16, 2011

NO NEED TO REINVENT THE WHEEL: Confraternity of Catholic Clergy Goes Global to Support Parish Priests and Deacons

HARRISBURG, Penn., Sept. 16, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ — Responding to the announcement of new priest councils being formed, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (USA & Canada) sent a letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, stating that it has been around since 1975 and is united with the Australian CCC and the British CCC (UK) to form an INTERNATIONAL association of priests AND DEACONS. Members are NOT seeking the repeal of the discipline of celibacy for priests in the Latin Rite NOR do they want any change in doctrine (such as allowing women to be ordained).

These ordained men merely want to be better servants by promoting ongoing spiritual, theological and pastoral formation among themselves in a fraternal setting and context, under the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of the Clergy and Mother of Priests.

Fidelity to the Magisterium, obedience to the Roman Pontiff and reverent in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy seeks to fulfill the mandate of the Second Vatican Council (PO, #8) to support their brothers in ordained ministry so to better serve the spiritual needs of the people entrusted to their pastoral care.

Associations of priests and deacons are encouraged by Pastores Dabo Vobis and the Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests as well as canon law. The purpose of these is not to be in competition with the hierarchy or laity. Groups of clergy are meant to support one another as ordained brothers and to encourage each other to be faithful, loyal sons of the Church.

Therefore, the Confraternity enthusiastically welcomes the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal in English and promises to faithfully follow the rubrics while celebrating Holy Mass with proper reverence and devotion. The CCC is totally committed to preserving patrimony while implementing the adaptations our leaders (the Pope and Bishops). Through monthly local gatherings clergy pray in common before the Blessed Sacrament and avail themselves of spiritual direction, confession and sacerdotal fraternity, hence ongoing formation is achieved. Annual conferences and retreats and quinquennial pilgrimages to Rome (joining the ACCC and BCCC) complete the program.

Open to any priest, deacon or seminarian in good standing of the Latin or Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, the CCC is one means to promote fraternity and fidelity while fostering a desire for holiness in themselves and in their people is what the CCC is all about.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Archbishop Pietro Sambi



ARCHBISHOP PIETRO SAMBI was remembered yesterday at a Memorial Mass celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC.  Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was the Main Celebrant and Homilist.  Several American Cardinals attended (their Eminences DiNardo, Rigali, Keeler, Mahoney, Baum and George)  Providentially, it was the feast of the Finding and Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Jesus.

Archbishop Dolan captured the spirit of the Apostolic Nuncio (alias Papal Ambassador to the United States).  His Grace mentioned their first public encounter at a Bishop's installation. Archbishop Sambi discreetly asked Archbishop Dolan if the custom in America is for bishops to wear their pectoral cross on the outside or inside of the Mass vestments (chasuble).  Dolan said that the bishops would most likely follow the lead of the Nuncio and so everyone waited to see what he would do. He, on the other hand, said he would leave it out, for awhile, then put it back inside and vice a versa, just to see the reaction of the other prelates.  "Whether on the inside or outside, what really matters is that the cross rests over the heart of the bishop."

Several years later the Nuncio spoke to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy when it had its annual meeting (at that time in DC at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center).  Shortley after Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the USA, I celebrated my 20th anniversary of priesthood (May 14, 2008).  Msgr. Walter Rossi was kind enough to allow me the honor of being celebrant at a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Before the Mass, I brought my mother to the Apostolic Nunciature to see Archbishop Sambi.  He gave her a half hour tour and then treated us to Italian cookies and espresso.  During the visit, he gave my mom a blessed rosary from the Holy Father. She then asked him if he had another one to give a young man who recently was diagnosed with eye cancer. The man was in his early thirties and had small children.  My mom got flustered however, when she could not recall his name.  Almost in tears, she apologized to the Nuncio.  Archbishop Sambi told her "that's OK Mrs. Trigilio, I do not need to know his name to pray for him. The Good Lord knows everything and everyone.  He will know who needs the grace for recovery of eyesight. Trust in Him"

That simple but profound wisdom made my mom feel much better.  It was vintage Sambi.  He spoke volumes with just a phrase or two.

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him O Lord, and Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him
May He Rest in Peace.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Stay sober and alert

Saint Peter’s admonition applies well today. He warned us of the attacks of the Devil. The Prince of Darkness has many allies and henchmen, from Hitler and Stalin to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Evil takes many shapes and forms but has one purpose: destroy GOOD. Satan hates God and anyone connected to Him. He will fight on both fronts, physical and spiritual, since man is both body and soul and both were created by the Lord.

Conspiracies are demonic. They feign real fellowship or communion by uniting people for nefarious reasons. True fraternity seeks the common good. Conspiracy seeks division and destruction. Hence, Judas conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Then there are the PHONY conspiracies, like the one the Temple leaders made up to discredit the Resurrection: paying guards to falsely claim Jesus’ followers stole His body.

There are still some who claim 9/11 was a conspiracy, not of the terrorists but of our own government. Like those who deny astronauts actually landed on the moon, there are people who insist the President knew about the attacks ahead of time and allowed them to happen so he could go to war. Same theory was espoused about FDR and Pearl Harbor sixty years earlier.

Josef Goebbels, the Minister for Propaganda for Adolf Hitler said: the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.   Whether it is UFO cover-ups, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, there will always be someone who insists a conspiracy exists to hide the truth. The truth about 9/11 is that America was attacked by forces of evil. Evil men committed evil acts. Evil governments give safe passage and haven to evil groups who commit acts of terrorism.

Where was I on 9/11?  Father Levis and I and my mom were at EWTN. We came to tape a new season of episodes of WEB OF FAITH.  The first plane (Flight 11) hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 am while were at morning Mass.  A security guard was crying.  We feared Mother Angelica had become sick or God forbid died. Unaware of the horrible tragedy, the three of us went to the studio.  No one was there.  Everyone had crammed into the little kitchen off of the studio where the employees have a soda and vending machine.  There is a TV there.  When Fr. Bob, my mother and I entered the room, we saw the second plane (Flight 175) hit the WTC.  We all were sick to our stomachs with sadness and grief for the thousands of innocent victims maliciously murdered that day.  We stayed until the third plane (Flight 77) crashed into the Pentagon.  By the time we returned to the guest house, the fourth plane (Flight 93) crashes in Pennsylvania (in Shanksville, 200 miles south of Erie) and we watch the WTC fall apart before our eyes.

No one had any desire to eat lunch.  Father Joseph Mary, one of the Missionary Franciscans of the Eternal Word (MFVA) announced a holy hour in the chapel.  The majority of employees at EWTN are southern Baptist but EVERYONE was in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.  We had benediction, rosary, divine mercy chaplet, hymns, scripture readings, litanies, et al.  Though different faiths, we were ONE in prayer as our nation was UNITED by this heinous and cowardly attack. Later that evening, Father Bob and I joined others on stage to urge people to PRAY and to seek JUSTICE rather than revenge. No one knew it was Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda until the President announced it before Congress.  Frustration erupted in many since we did not know precisely who was responsible when it first happened. There was an innate need to retaliate but the question was WHO and WHERE?  Meanwhile, more prayer and more worry as the whole nation took every plane out of the sky and grounded all flights. The nearby Birmingham Airport was like a ghost town inside and guarding it were army reserve and national guardsmen like it was Checkpoint Charley.  I remember seeing images of people jumping to their deaths from the burning WTC.  I recall people asking me if I was from Pennsylvania and where Shanksville was located.  Only the deaths of my two brothers and my father brought more sadness to me than that day.  Now I knew what my mom and dad felt like on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  Being at EWTN, however, was the best place to be as we had access to the chapel and prayers were being offered around the clock.  Those who did this dastardly deed were truly EVIL MEN.

Terrorism is not war in the proper sense. War is between nations and is declared by legitimate leaders. There are just wars and there are unjust wars. Terrorism is a criminal act of a group against individuals, other groups or against nations themselves (as in the case with the USA). Wars end when the enemy nation surrenders and a peace treaty is signed. Terrorists do not surrender nor do they follow the rules of war. They have no honor. They attack civilians and non-combatants as well as military personnel and installations.

Terrorism seeks to destroy the leaders AND the people they govern. They are a cancer to civilization itself. It is barbarism at a level of critical mass. Attila the Hun and Osama bin Laden were similar in their desire for blood, revenge, inciting fear and the infliction of great suffering and death.  On this 10th anniversary of the cowardly attack on America by radical, militant, fanatical terrorists, we cannot diminish nor dilute the depth of guilt and responsibility they bare by insinuating or implying a conspiracy here at home. That would be obscene.

9/11 are more than two numbers. They symbolize a day of horrible suffering and heinous evil when Islamo-Fascist terrorists murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children. It was a day of infamy to rival if not surpass Pearl Harbor Day when the Empire of Japan made a sneak attack on the US Navy in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Sixty years later, another sneak attack was made, this time not on a military target but on innocent, non-combatant civilians. This unspeakable act of cowardice and reprehensible evil makes 9/11 more than mere numbers. They represent enormous pain and suffering. First responders, EMT, police, fire-fighters, et al., risked and in many cases sacrificed their own lives in order to rescue (then retrieve) any and all victims.  Ironically, the plans by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to terrorize America backfired on them. There was no civil unrest, no rioting, and no looting. We did not see anarchy in the streets, instead we saw fellow citizens showing great courage and bravery. In the worst of times we can often see the best of human nature. Brave men and women helped their neighbor and complete strangers. We were UNITED not divided, as the terrorists had hoped. Blessed John Paul II often said:

Evil is never overcome by evil; evil is only conquered by doing good

9/11 was a complete failure for the terrorists. They did kill thousands of innocent lives but the survivors and the rest of the nation and indeed the rest of the civilized world were on the same page: the ends never justifies the means. In other words, you can NEVER do evil no matter what your intentions. When we were maliciously attacked, our government and our people were of one mind and heart. Justice will be done, evil will be punished and good rewarded. No rioting, no looting took place in American cities, whether NYC or Washington, DC. The heroes of Flight 93 showed the world that ordinary people can do extraordinary feats of bravery. The American spirit was not killed nor even injured. Thousands did die a horrible death and they will never be forgotten. What our enemies fail to realize is that our nation was founded on the principles of inalienable rights and freedoms, the first and foremost being the RIGHT TO LIFE and the FREEDOM OF RELIGION. Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc., have the ability to worship God unfettered by the state. This is not the case in most of the Middle East in Arabic countries. It is a capital crime to make converts from Islam. Yet, we do not see Christians blowing up cafes or shopping centers. PRAY that the majority of moderate Muslims will denounce and repudiate the violence done by those who distort and pervert their religion merely to advance a political agenda. Just like the fanatical fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church is condemned by Catholic & Protestant Christians alike for their hateful ideology, so, too, mainstream Muslims must step forward & condemn violent forms of their religion.

Americans need to honor the brave and courageous who risked and who sacrificed their lives on 9/11.  Justice demands that the guilty be punished for their crimes. Charity demands we do not blame all Arabs or all Muslims for a minority of fanatics. At the same time, we must defend ourselves and stay sober and alert. We must protect our citizens from terrorist attacks.

The terrorists sought to DIVIDE America by attacking us ten years ago. The Japanese Imperial Navy had the same erroneous idea in 1941. On the contrary, when attacked, our nation banded together. Strangers helped rescue people they never knew. People behaved with dignity and integrity. No looting, no riots, no bombing or torching foreign embassies occurred.  Americans were united – E  PLURIBUS UNUM.

Some claim our unity was short-lived. Some claim our politicians have made our nation contentious and divided. As animated and as spirited it gets in Washington between Democrats, Republicans and Independents; between Congress and the White House; between liberals and conservatives; the truth is we can disagree with one another. Our constitution guarantees that we can disagree with each other and with our government. We can vote people into office and vote them out. We can speak up and speak out or we can remain silent. Our country allows us to differ.  Totalitarian governments, on the other hand, be they fascist, communist or socialist, impose uniformity and oppose any kind of political dissent. The party or the state means more than the person. This is not our Judaeo-Christian heritage, however. We do not lose our inalienable rights just to elect political leaders. The right to life comes from our personhood and not from any government or document. Along with our right to life comes our right to defend and protect ourselves, our loved ones and our property.

The terrorists who attacked us ten years ago HATE us because we have freedoms and liberties they do not experience in their native place. They would replace the NATURAL MORAL LAW with Sharia Law and then with no law at all. Terrorists are not religious fundamentalists or even extremists, they pervert and distort religion to suit their own agenda. They manipulate their religion to promote their political aspirations: the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. They want to rule and subject everyone to their autocratic authority. There are religious fanatics to be sure, but they are being used as tools and pawns by the terrorists. Zealous souls are recruited for the jihad against the great satan. That is the lie they tell their young. They pervert the holy act of martyrdom. A martyr is an innocent victim who is killed for his/her faith. A terrorist, on the other hand, is one who kills innocent victims in the alleged name of religion. Homicide (pseudo-suicide) bombers can NEVER be called martyrs. They are MURDERERS. A martyr is the person who is innocently killed because of their faith. Ironically, the terrorists have made martyrs of their own victims. Their victims were murdered because of their faith. The victims of 9/11 at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, THEY WERE MARTYRS. They were unjustly killed. They were innocent and were murdered by al Qaeda.  They may call us infidels but even the Koran condemns and forbids murder just as the Ten Commandments does for Jews and Christians alike.

The prejudiced bigot blames all Muslims and Arabs for 9/11 and that is wrong. The politically correct blame no one and that is not only naïve, it is also irresponsible. The terrorists are to blame for 9/11.  They were radical, Islamo-fascist barbarians who distorted and perverted their religion in order to achieve their own goals. They serve themselves, not God. But they use religion to lure in potential followers.  THAT is the real conspiracy.  Our battle is not with Islam nor with Arab nations. Our battle is with terrorists who violated their own religious tenets and inflicted pain, suffering and death on innocent victims. Like all criminals, the terrorists must be stopped and prevented from continuing their reign of horror. Meanwhile, America should never back down from defending herself from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

my apologies

Sorry for the extended absence.  There was a death in the family. My Uncle Mike was dying in the nursing home, so I had to drive (300 miles) to Erie so I could see him one more time and to anoint him and give him the last rites.  After driving back to my parish, he passed away and following the weekend Masses, I drove back for his funeral.

He was the husband of my mother's sister (or you could say he was my mom's brother-in-law). His wife, my Aunt Rita is also my godmother. I liked my Uncle very much and was sad to see him ravaged by the Alzheimer's Disease which plagued him for the past several years.

If you get a chance, please say a prayer for his soul.  He was a good man and a devout Catholic who faithfully attended Mass.

And while you are praying, please keep my mother in there as well.  Her B12 shots are not working as had been hoped. She is still very fatigued and exhausted due to the decrease of oxygen in her blood. 

Thank you for your PATIENCE and KINDNESS

Father Trigilio

Monday, July 25, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Catholic Clergy Disavow Disobedience

Motivated out of the loving bond of brotherhood between
all men in Holy Orders, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (a national
association of 500 priests and deacons) invokes fraternal correction on the 157
American priests who recently and imprudently signed a statement supporting
Father Bourgeois’s “right to speak his conscience”. We charitably remind our
brethren that this priest blatantly attended and participated in the invalid
pseudo-ordination of a woman. Such actions risk the canonical penalty of
excommunication and are injurious to the common good of the Mystical Body of
Christ. We also admonish the dissident priests and deacons in Austria who
signed the infamous "Call to Disobedience" and urge them to repent
and recant.

Every deacon and priest takes the Oath of Fidelity before
he is ordained and during the sacrament of Holy Orders he makes a solemn
promise of obedience and respect to his bishop. Obedience to the Magisterium on
doctrinal matters and obedience to the Hierarchy on disciplinary matters is not
an option but an essential component of ordained ministry. As Catholic Clergy
we are all commissioned by Christ to teach only what the Church teaches and to
obey our lawful superiors in humility and fraternal charity. Espousing
heretical teachings and/or defying legitimate ecclesiastical authority causes
harm to the unity and welfare of the Bride of Christ. As brothers in Holy
Orders, we pray for all deacons, priests and bishops that all of us can renew
our promise of obedience and our oath of fidelity to better serve the Christian
faithful who deserve nothing less from us.

of the CCC profess their total allegiance to the Roman Pontiff and seek to
promote ongoing spiritual, theological, pastoral formation in a fraternal
setting. This week some of their members are meeting in Mundelein, IL, for an
annual conference)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

REST IN PEACE - Joseph Paul Trigilio (October 14, 1964 - July 5, 1997)

Today I buried a 36 year old victim of cancer. He left behind a son, brothers and sisters and his father. Today is also the 14th anniversary of the death of my younger brother, Joe, who was killed by an underage drunk driver. Inept prosecution (district attorney) and a criminal friendly judge (who threw out impeccable blood alcohol tests on a miniscule clerical technicality) plus an expensive Pittsburgh defense lawyer resulted in the 'accused' getting off free and clear. Not only was involuntary manslaughter dismissed but even DUI so the perp never even lost driving privileges. Drive away from a gas station without paying and you lose your driver's license. Drive recklessly and at more than three times the legal limit of intoxication and end up taking an innocent life; you lose nothing. No fine. No time in jail. Nice judicial system we have.  Nevertheless, I would never replace it for inferior systems of adjudication. 

It has been a rough several weeks (my mom has been in and out of the hospital getting blood transfusions and many tests) and then the reality of today. I often think about that poignant scene in John's Gospel where Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus.  All too often when you are a priest, deacon or religious, people expect you to be very Stoic or like a Vulcan and show no emotions when someone very close to you dies or when you encounter very disappointing if not devastating news. Discouragement is not a denial of faith. Depression can lead to an erosion of hope, however. But discouragement at intense levels robs you of energy, zeal and enthusiasm. Mourning the death of a friend or family member is a normal part of life. Belief in the resurrection and in the immortality of the human soul does not prevent tears, however, nor should they. If Jesus wept, so can we.  Rather than trying to get the mournful to deny their feelings or worse yet, feel guilty about them, how about just BEING THERE for them?  At both funerals (my brother Michael in 1992 and my brother Joe in 1997) some well intentioned people came up to my mom and dad and said STUPID things like: "God closes one door and opens another" and "you must be relieved". No matter how long, how painful someone's death, whether a 26 year old dying from Muscular Dystrophy or a 33 year old being killed by an underage drunk driver or a 70 year old father dying from leukemia, any and all deaths are sad. Death is a punishment for sin which we inherit from Adam and Eve via Original Sin. Jesus died for our sins and redeemed us. Nevertheless, as human beings, we who survive our loved ones FEEL the sting of death, as we should. If losing a loved one is not painful, then how can we long for our hopeful reunion? If death is not painful, than how can we cherish the precious and limited moments of life on earth?

I try my utmose best at funerals to convey and explain Christian hope in the resurrection and in life after death but I also affirm the obvious that death hurts those left behind. Families usually appreciate real and authentic empathy while at the same time giving them something to HOPE for and hope in.

Still in urgent need of prayers for a private intention that is becoming more dire each day. Deo Gratias for priestly fraternity (like the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) and for support from wonderful devout laity.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Annual Forty Hours Devotions


My two parishes (Our Lady of Good Counsel and Saint Bernadette) are having annual 40 Hours Devotions May 22, 23, 24

Please keep all of us in prayer as we adore and worship the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

tu es sacerdos


23 years ago today I celebrated my first Mass at my home parish (Blessed Sacrament), the day after I was ordained a priest (May 14th) by Cardinal Keeler.
I was blessed that my family was able to attend both the Ordination and the First Mass especially since it involved a 600+ mile drive (round trip) from Erie to Harrisburg. My three brothers, Joseph, Michael and Mark were there and my Mom and Dad as well as many aunts and uncles and cousins galore.

Less than ten years later, my brother Michael died at the age of 26 from Muscular Dystrophy; my brother Joe (age 33) was killed by an underage drunk driver; six months after that, my Dad died (age 70) from Leukemia. I also had the funerals of six uncles and four aunts since I was ordained. Six assignments (five transfers) occurred in that time spanning parish life, hospital chaplaincy and tribunal work. During that same period Almighty God blessed me through my mentor Father Bob Levis a relationship with Mother Angelica and EWTN. Web of Faith, Council of Faith, Crash Course in Catholicism, Crash Course in Pope John Paul II, Crash Course in the Saints have all been a tremendous privilege and joy to be a part of it.

Father Ken Brighenti and I have been close friends since 1983 when we met at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, CT. He was deacon at my ordination to priesthood since he would be ordained a priest two weeks later for the Diocese of Metuchen. During the past 23 years he and I have collaborated on seven books from Catholicism for Dummies to the Catholic Mass for Dummies et al.  He also came to the funerals of my brothers and my father, something which I will always appreciate and never be able to thank adequately. Bishop Kevin Rhoades was able to secure us tickets for a papal audience with Holiness Pope Benedict XVI a few years ago which allowed us to present him with a special hard-bound copy of JP2 for Dummies.

I am also grateful for good friends like Father Dennis Dalessandro, one of my closest friends in the Diocese of Harrisburg; Thomas McKenna of Catholic Action; Drs. Keith and Tina Burkhart; Dr. Liz Frauenhoffer; Michael Drake of TFP; Dave & Amy Zak and many others, too numerous to name.

Of all these experiences, however, the most profound and edifying experience has been celebrating the sacraments as a Roman Catholic priest. Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily and hearing confessions every weekend is the real absolute source and summit of joy in my priesthood and in my entire life. Doing TV and radio shows, preaching retreats and writing books are for me an enjoyable hobby just as some of my colleagues enjoy going golfing, fishing, hunting, sports, etc.  While parish life can be challenging at times (particularly when parishioners let you know how fallible, peccable and imperfect you are as a human being) there are the other occasions like baptisms, weddings, first Communions, first Confessions, and so on, which encourage you to persevere.

Standing at the altar, holding the host and chalice and saying those exact words of Jesus from the Last Supper: THIS IS MY BODY ... THIS IS MY BLOOD, that is what makes all the trials and tribulations of twelve years of seminary worth while. Being an alter-Christus to act in Persona Christi is the ultimate joy and pleasure of Holy Orders. Even though the pain of losing two brothers never fully leaves you, the fraternity of the Priesthood (especially via the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) and Diaconate has given me many more brothers who love and support me as well. Every now and then a person will send an email  or tell me in person how grateful they are for my priesthood and I tell them "no more grateful than I, however." Despite politics, bureaucracy, skullduggery, intrigue, betrayal, and some real diabolical animosity, there have also been profound moments and times of joy, happiness, contentment, satisfaction, pride, friendship and fraternal love which make all the crosses bearable and endurable by the Grace of God. My brother priests (those loyal to the Pope and Magisterium) and my brothers and sisters in Christ: thank you for your continuing prayers and support.  The intercession of Our Lady, Mother of Priests and Queen of the Clergy and the leadership and example of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have been a true anchor in my ordained life and I am most grateful just as I am to my beloved family and friends. May God bless you and Mary keep you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thanks Grazie Dziękuję Danke Merci Gracias

Thanks to all of you who in the charity of your prayers have been remembering Dave. He is out of the hospital and is Deo volente going to have the tube removed from his lung Saturday. He is feeling better and is seeing specialists in Washington, DC.  Please continue to pray for him, his lovely young wife and their gorgeous baby girl.

I also ask for your prayers for a SPECIAL INTENTION which (at this time) cannot be elaborated but suffice it say, is nevertheless important (at least to me, that is). Of course, we always pray that God's Will be manifested and then accepted and totally embraced by ourselves, but there is also the mystery of intercessory and petitionary prayer. Anyway, if you can spare an extra Ave Maria or Pater Noster, I would greatly appreciate it, too.  God bless you and Mary keep you.

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Pray for Us.
(soon to be) Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us

Father John Trigilio, Jr.

Blessed John Paul II we love you

available at local Catholic bookstores, Catholic websites and

Saturday, April 09, 2011


Please keep a dear friend of mine in your prayers. Dave is a young man in his mid-twenties, recently married and the father of a gorgeous little baby girl. A graduate of Ave Maria University, he is in the hospital with a collapsed lung and the doctor is inserting a tube today. The poor man has been suffering from chronic respiratory problems. I had the honor of witnessing his marriage and baptizing his baby. My mother is godmother to the bambina. Please offer a rosary or at least a decade if you can sometime today. We are praying to Blessed John Paul II for a complete and total recovery. I have been friends with his wife and her family for 15 years and am godfather to her brother. They are like my second family. So I ask everyone who reads this blog to keep this young man and new husband and father in your prayers this weekend.  Thank you and God bless you and Mary keep you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bishop Aquila urges clergy not to let lies take hold among faithful

Bishop Aquila urges clergy not to let ‘lies’ take hold among faithful :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo
.- When bishops and priests are hesitant in exercising their authority, the “father of lies” takes hold of the hearts and minds of the faithful, Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo warned recently.

“One must honestly ask, how many times and years may a Catholic politician vote for the so called ‘right to abortion’ … and still be able to receive Holy Communion?” the bishop said.

The continual reception of Communion by those who “so visibly contradict and promote a grave evil” creates “grave scandal” and undermines the teaching and governing authority of the Church, he warned. The faithful can interpret these actions as indifference to the teaching of Christ and the Church on the part of those who have “the responsibility to govern.”

“If we honestly pray with the Gospel we can see that hesitancy and non-accountability is not the way of Jesus Christ, but rather it is a failure in the exercise of governance,” Bishop Aquila told a March 18 symposium in Philadelphia about the spirituality and identity of diocesan priests.

While Jesus provides criteria  in Matthew 18 for correcting a brother or sister who sins, the bishop questioned whether Catholics follow this example.

If these criteria had been followed with those who dissented from Church teaching against contraception in 1968, he asked, “would we still be dealing with the problem today of those who dissent on contraception, abortion, same-sex unions, euthanasia and so many other teachings of the Church?”

He cited Pope Benedict XVI’s conversation with Peter Seewald in the book “Light of the Word,” where the Pope connected an anti-punishment mentality to the response that some Church officials have had to sexual abuse among clergy.

The awareness that punishment can be an act of love “ceased to exist,” the Pope said. “This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.”

Pope Benedict said that love for the sinner and love for the person harmed are “correctly balanced” when the sinner is punished appropriately.

Bishops and priests should not apologize or make excuses for the teachings of Christ and the Church, Bishop Aquila exhorted. Rather, they should teach with “charity and unhesitating truth.”

The exercise of Church authority faces challenges because secular culture “makes man into god” and undermines any authority attributed to God. Bishops and priests should turn to Jesus Christ to learn how to exercise their authority in governing the Church, the Fargo bishop said.

Jesus was “direct” in calling people to conversion and to change their way of acting and thinking, he pointed out.

“This directness makes many of us uncomfortable today.

“We should follow his example and language, even if we do not use his precise words. His language is good to contemplate and definitely should challenge us to look at how we correct the faithful, including priests and bishops, and speak the truth especially with those who say they are with Christ and the Church but do not accept the teaching of Jesus and the Church.”

Jesus’ “forceful” language towards the Pharisees and Scribes “would never be tolerated today” but the Gospel writers did not hesitate to pass down his words, Bishop Aquila said.

“In love Jesus makes these direct statements to open the eyes of those whose hearts and minds are hardened. His straight talk, given in love for the person, desires the conversion and holiness of the person to the ways of God,” the bishop explained.

“(T)oo many people understand correction or punishment as not loving the other or as dominion over the other, and this is the work of ‘the father of lies.’ A reluctance or hesitancy to correct and properly punish does not invite the other into the truth that frees and ultimately fails in true charity.

“As servants of truth, of Christ, we will correct those who sin for their own good and for the love of the other, even if it leads to our own persecution and rejection,” Bishop Aquila said.

Copyright   © CNA

Wednesday, March 16, 2011



Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

2011 Convocation

JULY 26 - 29


Adoremus in Aeternam


1300 Stritch Drive

Mundelein, IL 60060

(847) 566-6060   FAX (847) 566-6082

Arrival: anytime after 4pm on 7/26
Departure: 12 noon on 7/29

Fr. Thomas Kocik
Reform of the Reform
New Liturgical Movement

Fr. Frank Phillips, CR
founder & superior of the Canons Regular of St John Cantius

Dr. Denis McNamara
The Liturgical Institute
, University of Saint Mary of the Lake


$450 includes private room & board (accommodations & all meals) plus admission to all conference talks (BEST DEAL)


$300 for conference talks and meals only (FOR THOSE WHO WILL FIND THEIR OWN LODGING)


$150 for conference talks alone (FOR COMMUTERS & LOCALS)

email  to register


Consider the gift of a Confraternity of Catholic Clergy annual convocation ($450) or provide him with transportation to the event. We can also use donations for scholarships to help those clergy (priests, deacons and seminarians) who cannot afford to come due to financial

ONGOING spiritual, theological and pastoral formation of the clergy is not an option nor luxury; it is a NECESSITY. The CCC provides this ongoing formation in a fraternal setting with our ordained brethren who unequivocally proclaim loyalty and obedience to the Magisterium and the Roman Pontiff. URGE your clergy to 'come and see' (membership not a requirement to attend convocation)

Church should not pursue conversion of Jews, pope says

Church should not pursue conversion of Jews, pope says

Matt Abbott from RENEW AMERICA asked me to opine on the article found in the NCR this week

We live in a high tech, media-savvy and 24 hour news culture where everything is reduced to a thirty second sound bite. This unfortunately reduces the attention span tremendously so that any in depth discussion of sophisticated reasoning is sacrificed for the fortune-cookie, bumper-sticker slogan people can tweet to one another. Look at Pope Benedict’s recent book, JESUS OF NAZARETH, part two. The media has reduced 384 pages to one phrase: “the church must not concern herself with the conversion of the Jews.”
This is a quote from Hildegard Brem the pontiff cites early in his book.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, said: never deny, seldom affirm, always distinguish.

Hence, let’s examine this carefully, prudently and intelligently.
Is the Pope saying Jews do not need Christ or His Church? That would contradict the Catechism and DOMINUS IESUS, the document written by then Josef Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and confirmed by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2000.

14. It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.

16. Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church.

20. Above all else, it must be firmly believed that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation ... For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation.

22. With the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30-31).This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another'”

The Catholic Church does not believe in a dual-covenant theology in which Jews are saved by the Old Covenant while Gentiles are saved by the New Covenant.

Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, wrote an article in America magazine (October 21, 2002):

While [Pope John Paul II] does not “target” Jews in any special way for conversion, he makes no exception for them. On the part of Catholic Christians, “dialogue should be conducted and implemented with the conviction that the Church is the ordinary means of salvation and that she alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation” (No. 55). This does not mean, of course, that we must despair of the salvation of non-Christians or that they are to be pressured into accepting our faith. On the contrary, Vatican II made it clear that God offers the possibility of salvation to all who conscientiously strive with his help to find his truth and do his will, and that explicit Christian faith, while it is a great blessing, must always be free and un-coerced.

Later, Cardinal Dulles wrote in First Things (November, 2005)
Vatican II brought out the profound truth that the mystery of Israel and the mystery of the Church are permanently intertwined: “As this sacred people searches into the mystery of the Church, it recalls the spiritual bond linking the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock.” The Church is conscious that she is a branch grafted onto the olive tree of Israel. Pope John Paul II was deeply conscious of this affinity. Speaking at the synagogue of Rome on April 13, 1986, he made the point: “The Jewish religion is not ‘extrinsic' to us, but in a certain way is ‘intrinsic' to our own religion. With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.”

In continuity with Vatican II and earlier Catholic tradition, John Paul II saw the two covenants as intrinsically related. The Old is a preview and promise of the New; the New is the unveiling and fulfillment of the Old. “The New Covenant,” he declared, “serves to fulfill all that is rooted in the vocation of Abraham, in God's covenant with Israel at Sinai, and in the whole rich heritage of the inspired Prophets who, hundreds of years before that fulfillment, pointed in the Sacred Scriptures to the One whom God would send in the ‘fullness of time.'

Some Christians, in their eagerness to reject a crude supersessionism, give independent validity to the Old Covenant. They depict the Old and New Covenants as two ‘separate but equal' parallel paths to salvation, the one intended for Jews, the other for gentiles ...

It is unthinkable that ... Paul would be proposing salvation for Jews apart from Christ ...
So I do not think Pope Benedict XVI is undoing what he did in 2000 (Dominus Iesus). I think he is continuing what Pope John Paul II began. It is a matter of LOGISTICS, EMPHASIS and PRIORITY not one of doctrine and dogma. If it were, the theologian-pope would have made a coherent theological and dogmatic argument. Instead, we see a phrase quoted from an unofficial and a non-authoritative source (Hildegard Brem). Like the Regensburg talk he gave where a quote was taken out of context, here, too, we see the methodical and logical mind of Pope Benedict, discussing a non-doctrinal matter. Jews are not Christians, obviously, but they are also not Gentiles, pagans, heathens, heretics or schismatics. They are the Chosen People of the Old Covenant. Like everyone else, they need Christ and His Church to be saved but the prudential judgment to ‘not target them for conversion can be valid and beneficial, nevertheless.

It is not that the Pope is giving up on the Jews nor is he saying they do not need Christ or the fullness of grace and revelation found in the Catholic Church. B16 is merely saying that our first priority is to evangelize the Gentile world. There is plenty of immediate and immanent work to do repairing the disunity among Christians. Reconciling East and West and restoring the separated brethren are high priorities for the Church. Spreading the Gospel to the non-Christian world is still part and parcel of the MISSION of the Church to be sure. The only dimension, I think, Pope Benedict XVI was accentuating was the one that rather than aggressively seek the conversion of JUDAISM, Christianity still welcome individual Jews into accepting and embracing Jesus Christ while showing respect for our heritage as once being a part of Judaism (before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.)

In the past, overzealous believers and some unscrupulous anti-Semites alike sought to eradicate Judaism all together. Whether by forced conversions or pogroms and exiles, some Christians were less than Christ-like to the Jews, the very people Christ Himself came from. Salvation is still from Christ and His Church but it can be done anonymously in good faith for those who through no fault of their own are unaware of this reality.

Judaism itself as a religion will inevitably continue until the end of the world at which time the Second Coming of Christ occurs along with the Resurrection of the Dead and the General Judgment. Who’s to say that the remaining Jews at the Eschaton and Parousia will not convert together or one by one? In the meantime, the Holy Father is merely asking us to treat the Jewish people as a whole and the Jewish religion with respect and honor while we still welcome warmly with open arms any and all individual Jews who seek to know and accept Christ and His Church. It is not that we are asked to ignore the Jews but to trust that God Himself will take care how and when they will be brought into the fold all the way. They are His People and it is His Church.    

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam


this is a mini replica of the actual one at the Basilica of San Pietro

There is one aspect of Roman Catholicism that unites believers and divides unbelievers alike. It is not the BVM nor the Blessed Sacrament, while those would have been logical guesses to be sure. No, the epicenter of unity and division is the Papacy. The Roman Pontiff (a.k.a., Holy Father, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Head of the Church, Servant of the Servants of God, etc.) in both his infallibility and primacy personify what Christ said in Matthew 16:18-19

And I say to you: That you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

Whether it is denying infallible papal teaching authority OR disobeying supreme papal governing authority, both are an attack on the ROCK upon which Christ built HIS Church. Vatican I made it quite clear that infallibility is restricted to matters of faith and morals but primacy extends everywhere. The pope's jurisdiction is limitless when it comes to shepherding the sheep. Though not impeccable and not inspired (restricting that charism to sacred authors of the Bible), the Roman Pontiff, nevertheless, has FULL, SUPREME, IMMEDIATE and UNIVERSAL authority to govern the Church. (CCC #882, 937; CIC #331)

Here is the crux of the issue. In his non-infallible capacity as Supreme Head, there is obviously the possibility of poor if not even bad prudential judgment as well as good ones. Furthermore, the pope's authority does not mean his decisions are de facto the best for that time and place. Yet, there is NO HIGHER AUTHORITY. No Ecumenical Council, no emperor or king, no conference of bishops, not even the entire faithful as a whole have the power to depose a pope. There are only two ways to get rid of a bad or incompetent pope: persuade him to voluntarily RESIGN or pray that the good Lord bless him with a happy and SWIFT DEATH.

Deo Gratias, of the 266 popes, only a dozen at most turned out to be scandalous and corrupt abusers of their office. The majority have been adequate to outright outstanding, with a substantial number even being canonized as saints.

When I hear a Catholic second guess and papal decree, whether of the past or present, I am greatly disappointed. While I personally may disagree with the prudential judgments of the pope, if it concerns faith and morals, even though not intended to be infallible, I must still give religious submission of intellect and will. RESPECT demands that even the papal decisions on matters NOT of faith and morals be treated with respect. Hence, I may personally disagree but I keep it to myself rather than incite opposition. If a pontiff is acting immorally or grossly imprudent, then individuals can address him discreetly and respectfully, just as an adult child would their own biological father. Shaming or humiliating him is not a viable option. Saint Catherine of Siena was able to convince Pope Gregory to leave Avignon, France and return to Rome but she did so not by having press conferences and embarrassing the pontiff. She met with him and spoke to him in person. Today, some are content to attack the pope on their blogs or in their print articles or on radio or television.

I have heard both sides attack the pope. Liberal dissidents attacked Pope JP2 when he canonized Msgr. Josemaria Escriva. Ultra-traditionalists have repudiated the upcoming beatification of Pope JP2 by Pope Benedict XVI and openly disavow his possible canonization. In both cases you have examples of heresy. Papal infallibility is invoked in every papal canonization. It was not always the case in the ancient church when acclamation was the norm. But for recent centuries only the Pope canonizes. Some cases of beatification and canonization may have been sped up and others slowed down. Does not matter. When the final decision is made to canonize, the Pope declares that person IS in heaven. He does not canonize everyone in heaven and heaven is not populated only by the canonized, but canonized saints are REAL and they are IN HEAVEN. So, if and when Pope John Paul II gets canonized by one of his successors, no one has the competency to deny or reject it. PERIOD. Same applies if any other Pope is subsequently canonized, like Pius XII, Paul VI, etc.  If two post mortem miracles occur via their intercession, how can anyone cry foul?  The final decision is the Pope's. Likewise, what language the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated, which direction, etc., are all part of the Pope's PRIMACY.  Some liturgical decisions may not be the most prudent and they are not infallible but they are FINAL as long as the current pontiff reigns.

It is irksome that some on the far left and some on the far right consider themselves more Catholic than the pope. Even a bad pope is still a valid and licit pope. His authority is not ex opere operantis but from his office. You and I may have made different prudential judgments had we been pope, but that is all theoretical and hypothetical. Only the actual pope has real authority. You do not have to like any particular pope but we must obey each and every one of them. All deserve respect and obedience. Easy to obey the authority of someone you like and agree with, but ask any soldier, sailor, airman or coast guardsman: how easy is it to obey the officer you dislike or disagree with? Unless it is an immoral (and thus illegal) command which I can and must disregard, then all other legitimate orders must be adhered to all the way.

When Pope John Paul II issued ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS, it was an example of Ordinary papal Magisterium (as opposed to Extraordinary, i.e., ex cathedra) and as then Cardinal Ratzinger explained, it contained INFALLIBLE TEACHING that only baptized males can be ordained.  Those who dissent from this are in the same league as those who dissent from HUMANAE VITAE.  Papal teaching on contraception and the ordination of women are doctrinal and they involve the MAGISTERIUM.  Other issues like altar girls and Communion in the hand are non-doctrinal but disciplinary. One does not have to like the decisions but we must abide by them until rescinded by another pope. It is not unlike the relationship with my Dad. I did not always like or agree with every opinion and decision of his, but I was the son and he was the father and head of the family, so guess who had to be obeyed and respected? Some may call it a form of Ultramontanism.  I call it CATHOLICISM. Jesus gave the KEYS to Peter. Not the entire Twelve and not even his beloved best friend, John. Peter alone was given the keys. Those symbolize the keys to the royal treasury where the king's gold is both protected and dispensed and the key to the royal prison to incarcerate the king's enemies and to release prisoners. Those keys were given to the Prime Minister. He acts in the name of the monarch and by his authority. Likewise, the keys entrusted to Saint Peter, to lock and unlock (bind and loose) are vehicles of Divine
Divine Justice and Mercy. The keys on the papal flag and seal have more significance than the triple tiara. Both however symbolize the fullness of papal authority to teach, to govern and to sanctify.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, it is important to remember the value of the cathedra, the chair. When Pontius Pilate sat on the chair, he represented Caesar.  When he stood, he was a private citizen. The chair is a sign of authority and Catholics must recall that the Church is not like secular governments that have parliaments or congresses. The supreme executive, legislative and judicial authority is the Bishop of Rome and he delegates authority to his subordinates accordingly. There is no such thing as loyal opposition, shadow governments or vote of no confidence. The Church Hierarchy is a chain of command and the government of the Church resides with the Pope who is assisted by the bishops in union WITH him. If a bishop severs his unity with the Successor of Saint Peter, then that Bishop has cut himself off from the Mystical Body of Christ. He is still a valid bishop but he has no more authority to govern or teach. Sadly, we have many priests, deacons, religious and professional theologians who make themselves 'pope' and pretend as if the Body has not been harmed by this serious self-inflicted wound.


(where Peter is, there is the Church)

Protestant Reformers did not like it and neither do contemporary dissidents, heretics, apostates and schismatics. Stay with Peter and you stay with the Church, the Bride of Christ. When Pope Benedict XVI visited England, it was not just the sovereign of Vatican City who crossed the Channel but the Vicar of Christ on Earth and the Visible Head of the Catholic Church. Peter came to Great Britain as he did to the United States. No matter who the occupant of the Chair may be, while he is there, he is our leader, our shepherd, our Holy Father.



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