Come Holy Ghost! Come with Thy Seven-fold Gifts! Come to the Aid of Thy Church!

Pentecost Sunday 2023

Happy birthday to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church! And while we’re on it, not because I hate anyone but out of love for my fellow man, I pose a question. If you have not found your way into the One True Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, why not? What are you waiting for? Sure, the place is a trainwreck right now but it’s still the only guarantee of salvation. Remember Peter’s words to Christ: “Lord to whom should we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”

The first Pentecost saw the Blessed Mother surrounded by the Apostles sitting together praying. They had prayed for nine days. They anticipated the Spirit but probably had no idea what to expect (save for the Blessed Mother, who had been pondering in her Immaculate Heart all these things for years). The Spirit came upon them and they were emboldened. What flowed from that awe-inspiring event – the tongues of flame and the rushing wind – was a mass baptism. Thousands were converted that day.

Flash forward nineteen hundred years. The Apostles’ successors promised a “new springtime”, a “second Pentecost”. What followed that frightful event was the greatest apostasy in the history of the Church. Priests left the priesthood in droves. Convents and monasteries emptied almost overnight. The faithful were treated to spiritual whiplash as just about every tenet held by Catholics from the very beginning was undermined. Those who remained went uncatechized, malformed, and malnourished.

Some springtime!

Today, many of us spend hours praying our novenas, trusting in Our Lord’s promise that He will never abandon us. It is hard not to identify with the people in that upper room in the moments before the Spirit came upon them.

On Pentecost I often recall the holy martyrs of the Church. Filled with the Spirit, these men, women, and even children willingly spilled their blood out of love for Him Who died for them. Many of these martyrs were subsequently removed from the Roman calendar after the Council, by the way. I wonder why. I think in particular of the Martyrs of Compiegne, France. During the Reign of Terror, these Carmelite sisters were rounded up, stripped of the dignity of their garb, led to the scaffold, and beheaded. One by one, they ascended the steps to their beheading. To the last woman, they had the mystical lyric poem on their lips. Veni Creator Spiritus! The scene was recreated in the film Dialogues des Carmelites.

Come Holy Ghost! Renew in the hearts of Thy people Thy seven-fold gifts. Make us to see that to live for Christ is to die to ourselves and that to die for ourselves is to live in Him forever. Thy Church is in disarray, in terrible eclipse. Make us to love Thy commandments and to burn with zeal for Thy house.

Come Holy Ghost, dwell in us and guide us!

Pray for the New Priests

I completely forgot to post this yesterday. So, through the magic of postdating, I am posting it now with a second post to follow shortly. Please pray for our priests, especially for the newest among them. What a joy and blessing it is to be given new priests! As a priest I heard recently said, “Pray for priests. Pray for holy priests. Pray for many holy priests.”

This and That

My travels have brought me to a point where I have many things to say but no common theme to connect them. I sort of long for a fast-paced news cycle wherein I could write out of necessity because there would be so much to discuss. But alas, you’re stuck with my ramblings for another day. And so…

Dr. Mazza

First up, I’d like you all to consider signing up for a course. I am a huge fan of Miss Ann Barnhardt’s work. Through her I first heard Dr. Ed Mazza. Dr. Mazza is a scholar and a gentleman (and pretty funny to boot). I must state that although I do not know him personally, I have corresponded with him several times and he has always been scholarly, gentlemanly, and, yes, funny in our exchanges. Last year I took one of his online courses called Advent and the Antipopes. It was well worth the cost. Dr. Mazza is about to run another course. This one is called Romans, Christians, Barbarians! It is a seven week mini-course. Follow this link to sign up and you will not regret it.

Liza Jane

Next up, I’d like to share a song with you. On our last driving day (Tuesday, where I drove the family from Greenville, SC to Northern Virginia), there came a moment when my wife brought up a very happy memory. There was a lull in the conversation and the music I was listening to had stopped. My wife asked our now-13 year-old daughter if she remembered the song Liza Jane. Liza Jane is an old American folk tune. I first heard it in 2014 during a production of a play about the history of Texas and was captivated by the melody enough to download the first version I found. That version happened to be a recording of jazz legend Nina Simone from the Newport Jazz Festival. At the time our daughter was 5 years-old. From the back seat she, having memorized the song quickly (amazing how kids do that), would belt out the lyrics with all the soul of an old black woman. I played the song the other night. It all came back to her. And it was priceless. Ah, when music was good… I’ll embed it below.

The Canons Regular

Finally, I will share with you the amazing blessing of my life on the road and my commitment to the daily Latin Mass. Most of you know by now that finding a Latin Mass even in whatever hometown you might be in is hard enough. I am truly blessed that the largest TLM parish in the world is in my backyard. Our priests are good and holy men (we have four of them full time) and the Mass and sacraments schedule is seemingly round-the-clock. So when we travel, it is a cause of concern to me. At the end of the day, if I knew I couldn’t get to one, I’d forego the trip. But the Blessed Mother has been good to me. I asked her to help me and she has. She has seen fit to bring me to her Son every day. I really do believe that sometimes you just have to ask and to mean it. Trust me, I’m the worst of the worst sinners. She’s not doing it on my account, but because I asked her to bring me to Him Whom she bore. So far, every single day on my trip I have been to Mass in the ancient rite. Going to Mass on the feast of St. Rita and knowing that it was the Mass she herself worshipped at was something else. Anyway, where I am right no (and for the next few days, Northern Virginia) is a challenge. The bishop has instructed the priests of the diocese not to publicize Mass times for the TLM on their websites. Keep in mind that the number of locations for the TLM has been reduced down to almost nothing. There is an SSPX chapel nearby and I would gladly go there but I do not believe they have weekday Masses. Perhaps someone in the readership can email me and tell me I’m wrong.

Regardless, there is a Mass on weekdays about 25 minutes from here at 7:15 AM. Yesterday morning, on exactly four hours of sleep, I awoke at 5:59 and hit whatever passes for a snooze button on my iPhone. I went back to bed for what felt like an hour. I woke up again and proceeded to go to the kitchen for my coffee, thinking the whole time that I had missed Mass. I was a bit crestfallen. While pouring the water into the coffee pot I heard my alarm go off again. “That’s odd,” I thought. “Why’s it going off again?” I went back to the bedroom to discover that the additional hour of sleep I had gained was, in reality, only an additional two minutes and my 6:01 alarm was now going off. Needless to say I did a little happy dance; but not too happy – wouldn’t want to break any toes and I was barefooted. It’s happened before, especially without my morning java. Anyway, I got to Mass. Yay!

But this morning was different. I asked my guardian angel to pull the covers off, figuratively speaking, at the right time and to nudge me out of bed so I could get to Mass again. Unfortunately, I didn’t open my eyes until 9:00. Now I really was sad. But just then, almost as if he was whispering it in my ear, I remembered something from a year or two ago and another trip where I passed through these parts. There is a small church in Charles Town, West Virginia – about an hour away from where I am – staffed by the Canons Regular of New Jerusalem. I’ve studied the Catholic faith my entire life and I still couldn’t adequately tell you what a canon regular is. What I know is that I looked at the clock and realized that today, I would be taking a drive into the eastern panhandle of the Mountain State.

And that’s what I did. The scenery was beautiful driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had ample time to pray for 15 decades, all my novena, and even to reflect on the love of the Blessed Mother for her children on earth. So the next time your plans seemingly go awry, reach out to her in prayers and ask if there isn’t some other way. I’m pretty sure that she who can obtain pretty much anything she wants from her Son would be only too happy to help you find Him in the sacrifice of the altar. Perhaps she will even help you find Him in the other areas of your life. As for me, I’ve got several more weeks of travel ahead of me and I have no doubt that she will help me keep my pledge to Him. And for that I am most humbly grateful.

Our Lady, Mother of the Church, pray for us!

The Roses of Others

I received a beautiful email today from a priest in the Czech Republic. First, I had no idea that I had any readers in that part of the world. As I have stated before, it is still amusing to me that anyone at all reads what I write. I mean that with no false humility. It is truly a beautiful gift to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Here is Father’s note.

I just wanted to share a wonderful experience I had today. 

Because of you and your blog that I read daily I finaly started my novena to saint Rita. Ended it on her feast day and started another one the same day. I pray for conversion of my nephews and their return to our faith.

Today, a friend that I have not seen for years stopped by. (I baptized her long time ago)

She asked if I would like a rose from Saint Rita. šŸ˜²šŸ˜²šŸ˜²

She was in the Holy Mass at Augustinians on the feast of St. RitaĀ and they were blessing roses there. So she took some for people she would occasionallyĀ meet.Ā Stunning.Ā 

Thank you very much!

Thank you, Father, for such a thoughtful email, for reading my blog, and most of all, for praying for this poor sinner. Tomorrow, I will remember you by name in my own Mass intentions, in my rosary, and with St. Rita.

There is a reason that St. Rita is among the most popular saints of our Church. Clearly, she is interceding for you. I do believe that in these latter days, God is pouring out His grace in a superabundant way to those who seek after Him. Yes, the world is so depraved right now. I have heard it said that Sodom and Gomorrah are owed an apology. But where sin abounds, grace abounds the more. How marvelous that God has shared his friends with us and that these friendships are deeper and more abiding than they otherwise would be!

Tenth Station, Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Taylors, SC. The previous pastor was Belgian and brought these stations, captioned in Flemish, from his homeland.

Friends, pray for our priests. More and more lately I have been privy to the diabolical attacks the evil one launches against them. I have my friends who are priests. Satan has targets on all of their backs. I went to confession today and thought about this fact. If I, who am nothing in the grand scheme of things is so susceptible to the same sins over and over again, as if the devil knows what to do to drag me down; how much more will he go after the men who have become other Christs to us?

Think about that sobering fact. Think about the trad priest who offers Mass for you. Think about the Novus Order priest who simply wanted to give his life to God and to His people. Think about the good, the bad, and the ugly among them.

Pray for them. Pray for the Church.

O Mary Conceived without Sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Pentecost Novena Day 6: Veni Sancti Spiritus

Click here to continue. Sorry for the lack of posting on this one. Travels have been full to say the least. Yet, we still pray for the coming of the Holy Ghost.

Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!

The Beautiful Rose I Received Today

Monday was the feat of St. Rita, my most special patron saint. Many of you know that I am currently on a long roadtrip with my family. Today we woke up in Greenville, SC. You also know that I go to daily Latin Mass. That is a daunting task in these days of TC, etc. However, I asked the Blessed Mother to guarantee me to worship Her Son in the Venerable and Ancient Rite and she has not disappointed. So today I headed to Prince of Peace parish in Taylors, SC. The parish is headed by an old friend. Without giving too much away, his room and mine were next door to each other when we were both freshmen in college.

I drove the fifteen minutes there with my kids because I know that this parish has a TLM every day at this time. For a diocesan parish, that’s a beautiful thing and one for which I am most grateful. He was not the celebrant today. Nonetheless, St. Rita was all over the place and it was so obvious to me that I literally shed a tear when I realized what was going on.

First, even though it’s in the Missal, the Mass for St. Rita is in the back under the section of “In Certain Places”. Still, this is a feria day in Eastertide. I walked in a minute late but I could tell the priest was saying the Mass of St. Rita. How could I tell? My Latin is getting better. I picked out the words pearl, rose, and brow from the Introit and Collect. I was very happy. It’s like the feeling one gets when he encounters a friend he hasn’t seen in years. After the Gospel, Father preached a sermon. In the sermon, he pointed out into the nave and above my head. My daughter Rita was seated next to me. She looked so grown up in her new veil. I want to note that she wears a veil of her own volition. I have never pushed this one. She just likes them. And I’m OK with that. Anyway, Father mentioned that this parish has a beautiful statue of St. Rita. He said that a previous pastor had ordered a statue of St. Monica and the company sent him Rita instead. He kept it. I looked to where he was pointing and it was literally right over my head.

There she was. There was my Rita!

And then something prompted me to look across the nave at where the corresponding statue is. Would you believe that the statue there was of St. Benedict of Nursia and that my son’s name is Benedict?

Where the Divine Providence is concerned, there is no coincidence.

Rita of Cascia, Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Taylors, South Carolina

Well! After that incredible moment, I figured it was going to be a day of true celebration. I’m not kidding when I say that I really welled up with emotion at that. Throughout the day friends sent me pictures of their St. Rita celebrations. Andrew from St. Luke’s Gallery sent me pictures from the Shrine in Philly. One of my nephews did as well. It was truly a day to reflect on the great gifts God has given me in this His saint.

I hope you also had such a day. And if you didn’t, I hope you experience that joy here and there in your life. I continue to keep you all in my prayers.

St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us!

St. Rita of Cascia, Saint of the Impossible

May 22, Feast of St. Rita of Cascia, patron saint of impossible causes… and so much more.

Friends, I have truly been blessed to have the readership I have. Over the past year I have gone mini-viral a few times. The reasons are not important (but they kind of are and I will address them momentarily). What is very important is that God gave me an audience. A few days ago I wrote of how wonderful it is to have people reading the things I write on a daily basis. When I was a classroom teacher I used to tell my students that if they hadn’t shown up to class I would have simply talked for 90 minutes to an empty room. And I really have been blessed to have developed such a warm relationship with so many like-minded traditional Catholics over the past year. It is so good for me to see that I am not alone. I hope the feeling is mutual.

The best – without a doubt – aspect of this relative exposure, to me at least, is that I have gotten the opportunity to share with anyone who will listen the beautiful story of the life of a simple woman from Umbria. I fell in love with this woman many, many years ago. It was not love of a romantic kind, but true devotion. Let me share the story with you now.

When I was a homeschooled 8th grade student in New Jersey in 1990, I remember reading a story in a book called Catholic World Culture. The story was about the life of St. Rita. To this day, I couldn’t tell you why the story made such an impact. Let’s call it a grace. It’s as if God knew (imagine that) that I would need this devotion throughout life. He gave me the first taste of it when I was 12. I told my mom of the story I had read. “That’s so funny,” she said, “because my confirmation name is Rita.” She then told me how she had no particular devotion to the saint but that her aunt Rita had come for a visit when Mom was 7 or 8 years-old and, in a bid to please her own mother, she decided to take the name Rita. So she too had no clue why she should have a connection to this saint.

I remember reading the following details which I will include here from memory so that you know her story.

Margherita Lotti was born in 1381 in the village of Roccaporena (Umbria region, Italy). She was the only child born to her parents, Antonio and Amata. They were the town’s notaries or peace keepers. As an infant, little Rita (as she was called) was the locus of a miraculous event. Her parents had left her in her cradle by the door to the house as they worked in the field. A swarm of white bees – very rare indeed – swarmed the young child’s face. By all accounts the bees darted in and out of the child’s mouth but caused her no harm. This was to be seen as a sign of the sweetness with which Our Lord regarded her (bees make honey and all). Rita desired from a young age to join the nearby Augustinian monastery; yet in obedience to her parents who wanted to see her safe and sound amidst all the violence in that area, Rita entered into marriage with the dashing young Paolo Mancini. The story is a little murky at this point but it seems that Rita and Paolo produced twin boys – Paolomaria and Giangiacomo – and lived a relatively quiet life. Some later accounts state that Paolo was a violent man and that he abused Rita physically. This appears to be due to a mistranslation from Rita’s original sarcophagus. Regardless, the marriage might not have been completely rosy. Paolo was murdered when their sons were just 12 or 13 years of age. Rita was devastated. But Rita had bigger things to worry about. Her sons were intent on avenging their father’s killer. Apparently the law of vendetta in effect at that time would have permitted them legally to kill the killer. Rita, however, knew that this was against God’s law. She prayed fervently that God prevent her sons from staining their souls with mortal sin. God heard her prayer. Both boys died within the year. Now completely alone, Rita finally sought entrance into the convent. The sisters, fearing the violence that surrounded Rita, refused her admission. So once again, Rita prayed. Miraculously, she was transported inside the locked walls of the convent. She remained there for forty years, helping tend to the sick and praying for peace. Toward the end of her life, Rita prayed before a crucifix. It was Good Friday. She wanted more suffering and Our Lord complied. Out of love for His precious daughter, He bestowed upon her the stigmata of a single thorn wound in her forehead. Rita is said to have subsisted on the Eucharist alone for the final years of her life. Near her death, she asked a friend to bring her a rose and a fig. Both of these organism should have been completely unavailable. And yet, as Rita reminded her friend, “With God, all things are possible.” The rose bush was in full bloom and a dying Rita once again proved that God works miracle for those who believe.

Thatā€™s my girl!

Now to my own story.

I had started visiting the National Shrine of St. Rita in Philadelphia when I was in my early 20’s. It was about an hour and a half away and I had some impossible things to ask. There was the family member who had disavowed every one out of anger and jealousy. There were the next door neighbors who had separated over an affair. I heard that the shrine was close by. I remembered her status as patron of the impossible and of family peace. I went and I prayed. And I saw that peace was restored in broken relationships. I was mystified. It was almost like I asked for miracles and God gave us miracles. But this was just the beginning. A few years later I had determined to find a wife. Anyone who’s tried looking to find a truly Catholic woman to marry in the past decade or two will know how difficult, almost impossible, this task is. I figured I would give Rita another shot. I started a novena. I asked that she would arrange for me to meet a beautiful woman who shared my faith and would laugh at my jokes. On day 9, I found myself knocking on the door of an old friend’s house and the woman who answered that door took my breath away. This was 300 miles from home and the circumstances are as bizarre as one can imagine. In my mind: “Why of course it’s her! This is going to be my wife!” The circumstances that led us to each other were as star-crossed as they come. It didn’t take too long and we were married at the Shrine of St. Rita. We named our first (and only) daughter Rita. I will always be grateful for that one prayer answered that I figured I should just keep taking shots and seeing if she’ll still take pity on me.

And that is, as they say, that. So please turn to her. Ask the “Precious Pearl of Umbria”, the Patron of the Impossible to carry your most impossible needs to God. You will soon come to realize what she knew. With God, nothing is impossible. But remember that she suffered greatly in her life. The ones who are beloved of God, He also allows a greater share in His Passion. I won’t say it’s a tradeoff but it is something to keep in mind. In the end, though, it is a truth we know well as Catholics and it is a consolation beyond measure. Still, ask of her. Ask her to obtain peace. Ask her to obtain that you become an instrument of peace as she was. Ask for your impossibles. Ask for greater understanding and for greater charity. And for heavenā€™s sake, ASK FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE!

Ask today. It is the feast of a great saint. On a side note, one of the reasons she is called “saint of the impossible” is because her own canonization cause was stalled for three hundred years. Rita died in 1457 but wasn’t canonized until 1901! Seems her “paperwork” got lost in the Vatican.

A year ago I found myself on a whim deciding to write my blog again. I prayed to St. Rita asking her to help me make the endeavor worthwhile. That very night I found my post linked on Canon212. Impossible? You havenā€™t been paying attention.

I knew that I had to do what I pray in my daily St. Rita novena – to make known her favor and to glorify God for His gifts!ā€

Her body is incorrupt

St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us!