Tag Archives: catholic dad

Arlington Is Falling – Your Diocese Is Next: A Point by Point Analysis of the Letter of Doom

So, friends, here we are. I don’t pretend that I have the world’s largest audience nor do I really care. When I began the re-worked iteration of my now 15 year-old blog I said a prayer asking God for one favor. I asked Him that He would use me to convert at least one person to the authentic Catholic faith and to help establish devotion to the Latin Mass. He, of course, will know when and if that has happened. In the meantime, I happily share my musings on the state of the Church in the world today and my most informed guesses as to where She will be tomorrow. I truly appreciate all of the kind notes I have been receiving and even more when a reader shares my writing with others. Thank you.

And yesterday, we saw the Arlington (VA) Diocese walk itself to the edge of a cliff, place one foot over the edge, and as if on cue, wait to make the final leap until a major Marian feast some five and a half weeks hence.

Others have spoken at length by now of the gyst of Bishop Burbidge’s directives and I invite you to read and watch what they have to say. Bring yourself up to speed. This is the place to dive more in-depth and analyze it from the perspective of a Catholic, a man, a husband, and a father. I will say, though, that one theory floating around the vastness of the internet is that the letter was actually penned by Arthur Roache, Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and then simply forced upon Bishop Burbidge under penalty of removal from office. Truth? I know not. It seems plausible as does anything these days. About the only thing I do know is that, if you believe Traditiones Custodes was written in response to a bishops’ survey or that any bishops actually wrote Dubia in reference to it, there’s a lovely bridge I’d like to sell you over the East River. Gothic arches and all.

What I can further say is that there are two words I will be delving into in tomorrow’s post:

Corporation Sole

That legal entity aside, let’s look at some finer points of Burbidge’s Letter of Doom (BLD).

I spend a good amount of time in the counties of Northern Virginia. I lived there for three years early in my marriage. My daughter was born and baptized there. I still travel there frequently. Arlington is, in many ways, a victim of itself. In the wake of Summorum Pontificum, many of the priests there learned the TLM and began offering it in their parishes. As you see from the BLD, there are currently 21 out of 70 parishes offering TLM Masses. Partially as a result, the FSSP and ICKSP never set up shop here. One group who did establish a presence is the SSPX during the Coof-o-rama. They came and offered masses at the Warren County Fairgrounds north of Front Royal in compliance with the ridiculous Coof Diktats and Bishop B scolded them for it. He even told his people in a letter not to attend anything with the SSPX as they were “schismatic”.

Sorry, Bishop, they aren’t; and you calling them names doesn’t help. But guess what? They’re moving full-steam ahead on a permanent church in FroRo so there’s hope.

Point By Point

In the Directive at point #2 we learn that, as per Traditiones Custodes (TC), a priest will be appointed to oversee all of this garbage. If I am correct in my guess, than I personally know this priest. He is a friend and I will pray for him. To be sure, he is a good man but this is not a path he needs to be on, overseeing the sunsetting of the venerable Mass and I hope he realizes that. Fr., I still love you as a friend.

At point #3, in another example of no one having read anything prior to 1962 we have the patently false notion that because Fwancis says so, a valid Roman priest may not celebrate the TLM without permission. See Quo Primum, friends. “In perpetuity…” I have also been informed (though this needs further sourcing) that new priests may not even learn the TLM. Next, they’ll be telling us we can’t even think about it! How the hell do you stop someone from learning something?

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Front Royal, VA – where the Latin Mass WON’T be allowed anymore.

At point #4 we see the list of parishes “allowed” to continue using the TLM. They include 3 parish churches and five other locations within the bounds of parishes. One of these locations is a Montesorri school. You can’t say the Mass in a church building so here are some colored blocks, an ironing board, and some number chains. Have at it! Also in this point comes the now-standard directive that, if I’m reading this right, says there won’t be any TLM’s during Holy Week or the Triduum, even at these eight locations.

My personal favorite is point #5. I’m going to quote it so you can’t mistake the lunacy of what we’re both encountering.

“Per the Responsa ad Dubia and as directed by the Dicastery, the parish may not publish the times of the Mass in the Usus Antiquior in the bulletin or on the parish website or social media sites.”

A midwit, mid-level manager in Rome is now directing what can and cannot be in our bulletins and on our websites? I’m going to find out the times and publish them here. Are you literally kidding me with this Northern Virginia Horseshit?

Point #6 mandates use of the vernacular for the Epistle and Gospel. They’ve already been doing this on their own in Arlington since last summer. It’s crap.

Point #8 says “no new groups” of faithful who are attached to the Latin Mass are to be established”. I may have to move back to Virginia just to establish a lay-run totally unofficial group.

But it is Point #9 that tells you all you need to know. They are absolutely shutting you down and they’re doing it swiftly. Take a look.

“Pastors… must develop a pastoral plan ‘to lead the faithful who are attached to the antecedent liturgy’ towards the celebration of the liturgy according to the liturgical books reformed by decree of the Second Vatican Council…”

Friends in Arlington, can you feel it? Are you superjazzed and oh-so-excited to be lead back into the sole expression of the Roman Rite? It won’t be long now before you conform. Before you know it, you too will be liturgical dancing and stripping down to your boxers to jump in a lake for Mass on a raft.

They are coming for all of us. They want you to think it’s for your own good. They cannot stand up to a madman antipope because they fear ramifications. They fear they’ll be Lefebrve’d. Lord God, help these men find their balls soon.

Also, do you have your underground plan yet?

Our Lady of LaSalette, pray for us!

I Never Thought I’d Become a Fashion Expert but Here We Are

I received the following email from a reader this morning.

Hi, Harvey. Do you have any suggestions for where men could shop for clothes in line with what you suggest? Ms. Barnhardt suggested eShakti.com for the ladies.

Here is my response.

Thanks for your question, and a good question it is! I will admit up front that I get to cheat a bit at this one. I have a relative who works for the parent company of Brooks Brothers and have been able to buy a suit there with an enormous discount. Brooks Brothers has been one of the quintessential men’s clothiers since before the time of Teddy Roosevelt. They have provided a classic American look to generations. That being said, that’s only one suit. The bottom line is that it is far easier to find decent mens clothing than it is for women. Most major department stores have suits, suit separates, jackets, ties, etc. Heck, I even found a beautiful sport coat in a thrift shop in my area. $10. I’ve worn it for years now and get compliments every time I do. Today I wore the jacket from a suit I bought in 1996. The pants long ago frayed but the navy shadow-striped jacket is still in top shape. Recycle what you can. I also inherited my dad’s tuxedo and a few of his ties and jackets. Although I think it’s necessary to spend a little bit of money on a good look, most of the time it is completely unnecessary. I think the key with men’s attire is in taking care of what you have – polishing one’s shoes, wearing a tie properly knotted and not hanging loose like a slob, etc. In other words, how you dress is a direct extension of how you live. Are you a man? Are you vain? Are you humble? If you are vain, you’ll want to draw attention to yourself and “how nice you look”. If you’re humble, you’ll want your look to be neat and clean, unobtrusive, and not to distract from you, the man. Now hats are a different story. I travel a fair bit and try to pick up a hat when I see one. I grew up outside of Manhattan (NYC) and was always able to find men’s haberdashers in the city. Again, I often fail at this but I’ve been trying hard simply to think of how men used to dress and then following that lead as best I can. The 1940’s and ’50’s were a golden age of style but even there, there’s nothing to say that men and women can’t dress modestly and attractively by carefully stepping outside those decades. But again, I will look up some resources and post something later this evening. Well here we are, aren’t we? I hesitate to post names of specific companies because I need to research every place I shop. There are places I will not shop because of their corporate policies in support of sodomy. Thank you again for writing and please offer a prayer for me.
Harvey

Now Let’s Talk About Grooming

Hair: It should be short. Sorry, gents, but we’ve advanced as a society far enough now that scissors are a widely available thing as are electric clippers. In fact, there was really only one man in history Who had long hair that worked for Him. And you’re not Him. I see my barber every 3-4 weeks and get a high and tight. Again, your hair should not be a distraction nor should it be the focal point of your existence and stature.

Facial Hair: This one’s not as tricky as it sounds. I tend to say either clean shaven (all the time) or, better yet, grow it out but keep it trimmed. I remember feeling so cool when I was 13 and shaved for the first time. It was manly and I was now a man (or so I thought). Years later I was teaching CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters and read (and re-read many times) the following passage. It’s advice from one demon to another.

“We have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females – and there is more in that than you might suppose.”


Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter XX

I’ve given this one some thought and I’ve worn a beard for the past five years. I recognize not all men can grow a beard. I believe that has to do with the overall feminization of the West – soy products and overall lower levels of testosterone. OK 1) Eat meat. That being said, I say, if you can do it, do it.

Lots of white dress shirts and demure but fashionable ties.

Posture: Stand up straight. Shoulders back. Suck in your gut. Chest out. Make yourself big.

Chivalry: Learn it. Live it. Grab that door for every lady (and really for any person). Give of yourself. Another thing I learned from Dad was in watching how until the last time he drove a car, he always held the car door for my mom. I try to do that for my wife. She agreed to take on your life, your name, and your children. Treat her like it.

Accessories: First, don’t ever use that word. I’m just using it here for reference. Shoes should be polished. They should match your belt which should match your eyes which should be hazel. I’m only kidding about that last part but you get it.

Other than that, there’s not much to it. Ann Barnhardt mentioned a preference for not going wild with colors and not giving into the trend of “skinny” tailoring. First that brings up an important point. If you are able to and need to, get your more important clothing tailored. Many dry cleaners have a tailor on site. It’s a one-time thing (unless your weight fluctuates wildly) and worth the relatively minor cost. WEAR YOUR PANTS AT YOUR WAIST – Not below, Not above. And yes, I agree. I wouldn’t go the skinny route. I know some will push back and say “but I look good in that!” If you do, that probably means you are skinny. Don’t be afraid to put some meat on your bones. Remember we men are distinguished by greater muscle mass. Ask any swimmer who’s competed against Will Thomas. And as far as bright colors, the word I would use is gauche or flamboyant. I own exactly one pink tie. I bought it for my daughter’s baptism which occurred on Gaudete Sunday. Other than that, a tiny splash of color is OK, as Ann says, in ties, pocket squares, etc. Don’t make a habit of it.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t wear jewelry. It should go without saying that earrings are for pirates and queers. Tough love moment? Sorry. Your wedding ring, gentlemen, is a sacramental, not jewelry. Treat it accordingly. Your scapular (and you should be wearing one) stays beneath your shirt. It is for your benefit. Trust me, everyone else in that Trad parish has one on and they assume you do as well.

Wow, that was longer than I was expecting. Perhaps this becomes a regular feature? Likely not.

Our Lady of Fair Love, pray for us!

St. Paul, pray for us!

Wednesday Round-up: Now with 20% More DDT

My thoughts at the end of this mid-week night are all over the map, friends. Bear with me. I promise you’ll enjoy the round-up (even if there isn’t any actual DDT).

Nancy and Frankie

Nancy took Communion at the Vatican. Exactly. She “took” Communion in the same way a thief takes your jewels. Her bishop ordered her not to present herself for Communion. She said she didn’t care. She jetted off to Rome on our dime despite her net worth being in the way-up-there-millions. She met with Antipope Bergoglio. He apparently blessed her which has as much worth as my own blessing but less so. She then “got in the line” and “took Communion”. She is a foul, festering, and atrocious bitch. There is no other word. You were thinking the same thing. We’re moving on.

Even the Saint of the Impossible is rolling her eyes at these headlines… “The Gift of the Rose” stained glass from the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, Philadelphia

New Apostolic Letter, Same Old Garbage

Antipope Bergoglio issued some kind of apostolic letter today. I think it was called Desilu Studios or something like that. Trying to sift through the nonsense. It’s like trying to read through the end paper of a group project foisted upon a cohort of graduate students in a program in Education. Yes, friends, yours truly had to slog through that too thanks to the ridiculous MS in Educational Administration I had to get along the way. Here’s a hint. It’s like reading an 8th grade book report from the kids who didn’t read the book. I’ll summarize it so far. If you are Catholic, as in you believe everything handed down to you from the apostles and worship Our Lord in the Mass of Angels and Saints, then apparently you’ve got some problems. They may be psychological. They may be physical. We really don’t know. But you had better get on board soon. They’re really tired of having to play “good cop/bad cop” over there at Casa Sancta Marta. If you didn’t flip for them a year ago with Traditiones Custodes, maybe the kinder, gentler version will help you conform.

Boys Will be Trad Men

I wandered into my family room this afternoon to something I thought I’d never see. My teenage son and two of his friends were on the couch watching a YouTube video called “Novus Ordo Cringe Compilation vol. 3” I seriously love these young men. There is hope that we’re raising tomorrow’s men right.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings our way.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Ite ad Joseph

As I was getting dressed for mass this beautiful (if not sweltering) Texas Sunday, I reached onto my dresser for my cuff links.

A note on that… I always wear my best for Sunday mass. Today it was my tan linen suit topped off with my dad’s old straw boater hat. I do believe I’ve just doxxed myself if any of my fellow parishioners are reading.

The cuff links – the charging primers from a couple of old .38 specials – were in a box amidst the myriad other things that have accumulated on my dresser. I’m generally a very tidy guy – some might say OCD – so the fact there is a pile of things on my dresser distresses me.

I grabbed the links and turned around and as I did I heard the sound of a piece of paper hitting the floor. Think about that. Paper hitting the floor. Wouldn’t usually make a sound and yet it sounded like a ten lb. weight. I turned back and looked down to find a holy card with a picture of the foster-father of Our Lord and the words “Ite ad Joseph” – Go to Joseph.

I do believe perhaps Our Lord is directing me to turn to the man who protected His very life in the womb of the Blessed Mother and again when The government tried to kill Him and countless other times.

Go to Joseph I will.

Statue of St. Joseph (flanked by Ss. Cabrini and Benedict), St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fort Worth, TX

I’ve tried to foster devotion to him for many years, being a husband and father and all. But I know devotions don’t always flourish without any input. I should know this. I’ve got a flower bed in my front yard. I have to make sure it gets watered or I’ll have a crop of dead zinnias on my hands. Actually my wife will have a crop of dead zinnias. I hate gardening. I like the look of the flowers but I hate gardening. I do my best to take care of it for her because I love her.

And because I love her and our kids and the unborn; and because I am a man who strives to protect them all; and because Our Lord loved Joseph (and clearly dropped that holy card at my feet), I will go to Joseph.

And I invite you to go to Joseph as well.

Family Life: Strong Fathers and the Sassy Daughters Who Mess With Them

I think we all need a little reminder from time to time that everyday, ordinary life continues amidst the chaos of the world in which we dwell.

Last night, my daughter informed me that she had just lost a tooth. “Sweetheart,” I said, “If you lost it, how is it in your hand?” She’s come to expect these rejoinders from her old man. *Eyeroll* “Daddy,” she said, “anyway… It’s a silver tooth.” Then she sauntered away as though that should mean something to me. I believe, in fact, that this is probably her last baby tooth. I think she had this silver tooth going back to early childhood when the pediatric dentist we were taking her to insisted that this particular tooth, even though a baby tooth, should be filled and not pulled because it would be quite a while before an adult tooth would take its place. I ought to know since I’ve been taking her to the dentist her whole life. Apparently when the dentist talks I should “actively listen” and not continue to skim through the four month old office copy of People.

This morning I went into the kitchen to get my morning coffee. It is a well established fact that the glorious extract of the coffee bean has power to improve heart function, lower blood pressure, boost testosterone (thus putting proverbial hair on one’s chest – a shock if one is a woman), energize the neurons in the brain, and wake one up in the morning. Perhaps the first few items in that list I made up. Haven’t had enough java yet.

On the counter near the coffee pot I discovered a large, handwritten note. It said something to the effect of: “Dear Tooth Fairy, Here’s the tooth. It’s silver so you better not ‘cheap out’. I’ll expect my $$$ by the morning. Love, Harvey’s daughter” Succinct. But in fact my daughter and this Tooth Fairy fellow (for he clearly is a very handsome and virile MAN who drinks a lot of coffee) have had a back-and-forth dialogue like this for years. At one point my daughter lost a tooth while on a trip through Ontario. Don’t you know that “TF” paid her in Canadian dollar coins and even left her a note in English and French.

About twenty minutes after I drank my first cup of morning gold, and after a quick trip to the ATM (you know, for like, whatever, I needed cash), the following note had replaced the first.

Don’t blame me. I voted for the other guy.

St. Apollonia, pray for us!

Life with Sister: Tales from the Great Texas Blizzard & Blackout of ’21 – Part 7

It’s been, as the kids say, a minute.

I’m on a plane. I paid for the WiFi. I’m taking advantage of it and writing another installment. I think we left off with a priest showing up through a priest hole in my closet, like Narnia but in reverse. And without the goat-man.

We emerged into the dining room to find a folding table set up against the front window of the house. Our house faces north of that means anything. I never did tell you Fr.‘s name. And I cannot remember it now. We’ll call him Fr. Chad. Upon Fr.’s request my wife produced alter linens ala table cloths. But linens alone do not an altar make. “Fr.,” I asked, “I’m no expert but I sort of am but don’t you need like a chalice or some other things for mass?” At this moment Sister walked past me with a crate of “mass supplies”, set them down, and silently returned to a chair at the back of the room.

“I gotch-u, baby,” said Fr. with all the air and confidence of a 1970’s street pimp.

Yes, it was at this precise moment that I gave up and decided simply to go along with all that almighty God had planned for me. Clearly I have no clue.

“Introibo ad altare Dei.” *”I will go unto the altar of God.”

With these words, Fr. began the holy sacrifice of the mass. As he continued on through the Confiteor, I glanced beyond him and out the large picture window over the “altar”. The snow was now coming down heavily. It really was a beautiful sight. Reminded me so much of my childhood growing up in New Jersey. the only difference here is that elm and split leaf maples are swapped with crepe myrtles. But the fresh-fallen powder on the barren branches is still magnificent.I

I have always loved the snow. I think it has something to do with the peacefulness of it all. Even the noises of the atmosphere are dampened by a blanket of snow. Everything is almost silent when it falls. People can’t venture far past their streets. Families “huddle” together. And then there’s the child-like sense of wonder in me. As a kid, I loved seeing something fall from the sky that was so beautiful. As a man, I can’t help but think back to my boyhood and the true happiness I felt when we’d get a significant snowfall. Imagine if you will the combination of a picturesque scene out the window and the eternal, super-beautiful reality taking place just below it.

“Ite, missa est.” *”Go, the mass is over.”

We prayed the Leonine prayers, took a few moments to offer our thanks to God, and headed to the kitchen for lunch. Even Sister looked pious while kneeling to pray.

By now (after our meal) it was getting to be later in the afternoon. I stepped onto the porch to see how much had fallen. It was 12 degrees. I know this is Texas and the weather is schizophrenic but this is truly crazy. I noticed about six inches on the ground. The little kid in me got real giddy. I can’t help it. I’ve been in Texas almost a decade. We never see this. I went back inside to find that Fr. had vanished. I asked him to use the door but I think he went back through the priest hole. In fact I know he did due to the presence of a draft in my house. The re-pointing of hose bricks won’t be cheap. But Sister was at least still with us. And she had set up a board game at our kitchen counter.

We rounded out our afternoon in the typical fashion. We played Yahtzee and I shotgunned a gin and tonic. Sister played the oboe (did I neglect that detail?) and the children danced. It was “Flight of the Bumblebees”. Stupendous.

Home altar. Take that, Notre Dame!”

We all drifted off to sleep this peaceful night with no clue of what lie/lay/lain ahead of us. Yeah, I couldn’t figure the correct form. Whatevs, shuge.

In our next installment we enter the darkness. Hope you’re ready.

Life with Sister: Tales from the Great Texas Blizzard & Blackout of ’21 – Part 6

We did not stay awake for Sister. No, my own sister, my wife, and I all went to sleep around 1 AM after the following text exchange with Sister.

–Would love to stay up and watch Dallas but we’re all beat. Use the code “XXX-XXX” to turn off the alarm when you come in.
–I know your alarm code.

Sunday February 14, 2021

I rose extra early this morning. Part of me just wanted to be prepared for the snow and to assess whether or not I would actually be able to drive my sister to the airport or would have to call her an Uber. The other part of me, for there are only two parts and neither is very impressive, wanted to arrange the few Valentine’s surprises I had purchased for the family on our kitchen counter. I’ve been trying to be more attentive to little details. By this I mean I’ve been trying to shop for gifts and generally be better in the thoughtfulness department lately. Let’s face it. If anything ever happens to my wife, I’m screwed. Better get on board now with trying to copy her moves so it doesn’t resemble a complete disaster. So there was a large box of chocolates for her and smaller boxes for the kids, one for my niece who lives with us, one for my sister, one for Sister, and some Valentine’s cards I had picked up.

I had just finished placing the last of the heart-shaped cardboard containers on the counter when my sister emerged from her bedroom. “What’s the situation?” she asked. I explained that I had been listening to the weather reports and had been outside already. It was definitely going to be bad. Already the temperature was in the teens and there was a strange feeling in the air that one knows by heart if one grew up in a northern latitude. Snow was at the doorstep. I scheduled an Uber and told my sister of my regret that I couldn’t drive her personally to the airport. She understood but still it didn’t feel right. I always make it a point, ever since I could drive, to personally pick up and drop off my guests at the airport. For starters, we’ve always lived relatively close to a major airport. I joke that I like to be able to make a quick exit if the need arises. Even as a kid, though, I was always fascinated with airports. It’s the five year-old boy in me. Not to mention, this is my sister. She deserved to be seen off with a personal touch.

Just as I informed her that I had scheduled the Uber – two hours out – the familiar sound of giant, clanking, wooden beads came down the hall. “Why Sister,” I exclaimed. “Nice to see you among the land of the living.” “Coffee,” came her reply. “How was the conference?” I asked. “Stand out of my way please,” were the six words I was not expecting; yet they were said in an almost helpless way. “Long night?” I asked, forgetting for a moment that I had awoken at 2:15 AM to the sounds of a sub-woofer dropping the beat to “The Sign” by Ace of Base in my driveway. Life really is demanding without understanding. “Listen,” she said, “I just need a hit of the wakey juice and I’ll be good.” Then, turning toward my sister, “Oh hey! Glad you’re still here! We have so much to catch up on.” I explained to Sister that the other sister would be taking leave of us soon. Sister agreed that they must arrange a get-together in the near-future. “It will be so much fun,” she said as she slipped back into the sign language that had been absent from my life for the weekend. And to be honest, I’m not sure how both hands raised as if holding steins is the proper sign for any of that. “I just love the way you tell a story and I’m dying to hear more about the hoes.” In case anyone has forgotten, that’s a reference to the Irish dance moms from the previous installment. “Definitely have to meet up again and,” turning to me, “also I’ve arranged a priest to come and say mass in your house if that’s OK. He’ll be here in a couple of hours. Figured it was the least I could do since I think all the local masses are canceled due to the storm rolling in.”

Well that was a surprise indeed! I wondered who this collared man of mystery would be. Someone I know? A priest from a religious order? Maybe a Carthusian! Maybe a bishop in disguise!! My morning had just gotten very interesting. I took a shower and got changed and then stood on the front porch. In those 30 minutes I was grooming, mostly trimming my beard, the flakes had materialized. And now there was a solid half-inch of packed snow on the road. The untreated road. The road that would not reveal its pavement for another week. Good bye, road. It was nice to see you. I stood there waiting for that Uber. In fact I had the app open and watched as the clock counted down for me.

Your Uber will arrive in five minutes.

It gave me similar messages for the next four minutes. And then… Nothing. The app went blank as though I had never scheduled a thing. Well that’s not good, I thought to myself. Let’s try just ordering one and see what happens. And… Nope. There’s the problem. There were absolutely zero Ubers on the road. It’s odd because so many of my fellow Texans own four wheel drive pick up trucks. Someone ought to be making a killing in this weather. But here we were. Looks like I would have to drive my sister after all. We checked one more time that her flight hadn’t been canceled, she said goodbye to my wife and kids, did some weird “up high, down low” high five with Sister, and we took off.

The airport terminals are fifteen minutes from my front door.

The drive took us an hour. It was bad out there. Slow going doesn’t begin to describe it. White knuckle driving is a bit more accurate. “I’m gonna’ need a Xanax” driving is probably best. I walked my sister into the terminal and discovered that she would be on the last flight out of this place today (and indeed for several days). We said our good bye’s and she slipped past security. As a parting gift, when we rebooked her flight, my wife put her in first class. As I walked away from the terminal I texted her.

If you don’t take that airline for all the free cocktails you can manage in a three hour flight, I will personally strangle you.

Another hour later and I was slowly skidding my way back into the driveway. Sister was on my front porch smoking a Camel. I know, right? She stamped it out as I approached. “I didn’t know you smoke,” I said with an impish grin. “I don’t,” said Sister as serious as a heart attack. “Fr. will be here soon. I hope you don’t mind but he only says the Traditional Latin Mass.” “Don’t mind at all, Sister. That’s what we go to,” I said. “Also there are some quirks,” replied Sister. As she said this she raised both hands in front of her face and flung out all ten fingers like they were glitter or confetti or something. As she did this, she literally said, albeit in a whisper, “Poof.”

Snow. In Texas.

I noticed my daughter had made biscuits and gravy and they were warming on the stove. I can’t turn down good Southern cooking so I fixed myself a plate. Sister slapped the fork out of my hand just as it was about to enter my mouth. “Fr. will be here SOON,” she said excitedly. In my hunger I had almost forgotten about the pre-Communion fast. Then again, “soon” doesn’t specify a time and since he was coming to my house to say mass I figured he might be able to delay the start of the mass until we were all good and ready. “Also, wouldn’t we need to have time to set up an altar, chairs, an entire chapel,” I wondered? Reading my thoughts, Sister said calmly, “Fr. does all that. Do not worry.” Nevertheless I felt it incumbent to get changed into my suit. It matters not whether it’s at home (which is very rare) or in a gothic cathedral. Sunday mass is a cause for dressing up for the Lord. I walked into my bedroom and toward my closet. Opening the closet door I just about had a heart attack. A slightly-built man in a long black cassock and a biretta to match was just emerging from the other side. I’ve learned not to ask anymore. About anything. Ever. And it’s also good I had already disarmed myself when I walked in the door from the airport.

“You must be Father?” I said half stating the obvious and half out of genuine curiosity. The answer, the words that came back at me… I have a beautiful voice. I’ve long been told I should do voiceover acting. I’ve done some radio spots. I love to read to people. I sang in a choir. This voice? If Barry White and Perry Como had somehow spliced their genes, they couldn’t have made a more perfect voice. Deep, relaxing to the point of inducing torpor, spellbinding. And that voice said simple, “Yes.” So the obvious next question was “Why the closet when we have a front door, Father?” To this my closet cleric said simply, “These are dangerous times. Sister gave me a coded map. I followed it. It led to that opening over there.” He said this as he pointed to the daylight pouring in from behind my linen suits (for Summer). I walked over to inspect. Sliding the suits over on the bar I could see clearly what was taking place. “Father,” I asked somewhat hesitating, “Did Sister create a medieval ‘priest hole’ on the back wall of my house?” I completely ignored the questions of how she got in there and cut through plaster and brick as quickly as she had. By the way, kudos to her. The small 3’X3′ square was cut with such precision as to be easily placed back without any notice. And this is what Father and I did promptly. You know, because it was snowing and it was also a load bearing wall.

On our way out of the bedroom (I never did get changed into my suit) Father and I talked briefly. “What are these ‘dangerous times’ of which you speak?” Father, who appeared in the light to be somewhere between 40 and 85 years-old, leaned in close. “Masks,” he whispered. “I don’t wear one and the people who seek me out don’t either.” “So let me get this straight, Father,” I asked. “You’ve made a cottage industry catering to Traditional Catholics who wish to remain maskless?” “Oh my son, it’s more than that.” He had better be closer to 85 if he’s calling me “my son”. Father paused briefly before adding, “But mostly that, yeah.”

And that seems like a good place to leave off for now. Come back for part 7 where the Hill of Calvary and Elizabethan England somehow merge in my dining room in Texas.