Thursday, September 21, 2017


Yes, Virginia, this is an Ordinary Form Mass!!!!!!!

On the Millennial post at Praytell there are two comments worth noting. I wholeheartedly agree with Fr. Forte:

Jack Feehily says:
The Latin Rite was reformed and renewed following Vatican II. The New order of Mass has been in place ever since and is followed by somewhere in the neighborhood of 99% of Catholics. Pope Benedict, risking disunity, offered a concession to those drawn to the former rite. I am truly happy for them but wished they would leave well enough alone. Francis, the Servant of the Servants of God, has declared the new Rite as irreversible and has directed the discontinuation of the term reform of the reform. Could that change in the next papacy? Highly unlikely I would think save for those who long for the election of Cardinals Burke or Sarah.

Fr. Anthony Forte says:


The infamous Praytell blog, which is starting to have some decent posts recently, has an article on non-traditional millenials who are going to Mass in the Ordinary Form and loving it. And of course they compare themselves to those nasty traditionalist millenials who wear veils and are rigid and could care less about social work and helping the poor on the periphery. My, my, judgementalism knows no boundaries, does it?

I am grateful that Millennials are even going to Mass, no matter the form. Given the fact that upwards of 88% if not more in some places, of their parents do not attend Mass at all and even classify themselves as "nones" should snarky ordinary form millennials be complaining about traditionalist millennials who dress in their Sunday best for Mass, women in veils and a profound sense of reverence during the Mass and at Communion time and who know their faith and will repopulate the Church because they don't artificially contracept as though pregnancy is a disease? 

 You can read the Praytell article here:

The Catholic Millennials We Aren’t Hearing About


“Let me say quite clearly that sexual abuse is a horrible sin, completely opposite and in contradiction to what Christ and the Church teach us” he said. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I was able to listen to but a tidbit of "Seize the Day" an XM radio call-in show in the morning on the Catholic Channel.

The question was about Mass being boring and how the Mass is perceived by so many uniformed Catholic today as well as visitors to Mass who aren't Catholic.

One caller who identified himself as a convert to Catholicism shared what his impressions of the Mass was prior to his conversion.

He said it was boring, ritualistic and mechanical. The people at Mass looked bored, disengaged and robotic in their responses and so many didn't even try to sing the singable hymns.

It felt so distant and impersonal lacking in emotion and enthusiasm.

But then he went through the RCIA process and began to understand the Sacramental nature of the Mass and how the Catholic Church had prevented Christian worship from veering off into a bogus form of worship based upon emotions, feelings and fads.

I can remember as a child when the Mass was the ancient Latin Mass, how bored I was and I often fell asleep. But I knew that something powerful was happening and that God was up there at the altar.

The Mass captured my imagination, the ritualistic, unreformed pre-Vatican II Mass.  And at the basis of this captured imagination was the real presence of Christ.

We had a Redemptorist Priest do a mission for us in the early 1960's. He was a dynamic speaker and the mission was not in the context of the Mass, simply an hour long teaching with a hymn or two, and a Scripture Reading.

The whole week long he told us that we would see Jesus on Friday. And Finally Friday came and I wondered and wondered what he meant that we would see Jesus. And then He came out vested in alb and cope and Solemnly exposed the Blessed Sacrament. We prayed quietly and then his entire 30 minute talk was on the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. It concluded with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I saw Jesus! My eyes were opened!

How many Catholics want bogus forms of worship because they can't see the sacramental sign and don't understand it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


The bishop of San Diego just became what he castigated, judgmental. This time, though, it isn't the judgmental statements against those who promote unchastity, be it gay, straight or marital, it is against those who uphold the Church's teaching on sexuality and judge those who don't uphold that teaching.

You can read a synopsis of the Bishop of San Diego's judgments HERE.

Let's face it, there is a vacuum of leadership in the Church that has led to the current divisiveness reminiscent of the 1960's and 70's. The source of this divisiveness is the promotion of the new and improved in rupture with previous Church teachings and the demonization of what was once practiced in the Church, be it liturgical, moral or theological.

It is opening the eyes to a new generation of Catholics (who have no memory of the 1960's and 70's) as to what happened in the Church in that period of time that has led to the loss of actual participation in the Church with upwards of 88% of Catholic, if not more, in some parts of the USA and the rest of the world not attending Mass or simply becoming nones.


Both Cardinals Wuerl and Cupich have said recently that Pope Francis is reconnecting us to Vatican II and both in the context of decentralization (synodalty) and the Liturgy (the liturgy wars). This of course implies that Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict disconnected the Church from Vatican II. To imply this is a bit of snarkiness and arrogance.

We are also being reconnected to the idolatry of making Vatican II into a god. In my formative years from the time of Vatican II to well into my priesthood, we heard more about Vatican II than Jesus Christ, Scripture and Tradition. It was all about changing this, that and the other, the new and improved notion of marketing.

Give me Jesus and to heck with Vatican II rhetoric.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Draws Mixed Reaction


Vatican | Sep. 15, 2017

‘Magnum Principium,’ issued motu proprio, shifts some responsibility for translating liturgical texts from the Vatican to bishops’ conferences.

Mr. Edward Pentin

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Magnum Principium, which shifts some responsibility for translating liturgical texts away from the Vatican to local bishops, has drawn mixed reactions.

Some liturgists have expressed concern that it will lead to a “free-for-all,” but others say it has enough safeguards in place to ensure authentic translations are produced.

Signed by the Holy Father Sept. 3 and published Sept. 9, Magnum Principium (The Great Principle) deals explicitly with two specific changes to Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, which addresses the authority of the Apostolic See and national episcopal conferences in preparing liturgical texts in vernacular languages.

Specifically, the document, issued motu proprio (on the Pope’s own initiative) introduces changes to two paragraphs of canon law, stating the Vatican will continue to have the authority to approve or reject a proposed translation, but it will no longer have a clear role in the final stage of the translation process.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will no longer instruct bishops to make proposed amendments, but simply have authority to confirm or veto the results at the end of the process.

This means that the Vatican commission Vox Clara, which was established by Pope John Paul II in 2002 to help the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments vet English translations, will no longer be needed.

Pope Francis noted in the motu proprio that after the Second Vatican Council, the Church was acutely aware of “the attendant sacrifice involved in the partial loss of liturgical Latin, which had been in use throughout the world over the course of centuries.”

But he added that “it willingly opened the door” to vernacular liturgical translations, saying it was necessary to unite “the good of the faithful of a given time and culture” to a “conscious and active participation” in liturgical celebrations.

He went on to write that, given each translation must be “congruent with sound doctrine,” it is no surprise that certain problems have arisen between episcopal conferences and the Apostolic See along the way.

This means there must be “a vigilant and creative collaboration full of reciprocal trust” between the Apostolic See and bishops’ conferences so that the renewal of “the whole liturgical life might continue.” Francis said it therefore “seemed opportune that some principles handed on since the time of the Council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.”

In this sense, he stated he wanted “the competency” of the Apostolic See in translations to be “made clearer.” All changes will go into effect Oct. 1.

Earlier this year, Vaticanist Sandro Magister reported that the Holy Father had established a commission to review Liturgiam Authenticam (The Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of Books on the Roman Liturgy), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2001 instruction that translations of liturgical texts closely follow the original Latin and other languages.

After much study and tireless efforts by episcopal conferences around the world over seven years, the Holy See approved a new English translation in April 2010. Most countries had put the new translation into effect by the end of November 2011.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship, was reportedly the head of the commission assigned to study the issue. He previously served 10 years as the chairman of the main coordinating body for the new English translation, the International Commission for English Language in the Liturgy.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, was not consulted for the “motu proprio.” The cardinal declined to answer questions about the document, and the archbishop did not respond to requests for comment.

Many liturgists, including some within the Vatican, believe that the intent of the motu proprio is quite obvious: to allow those opposed to new translations more faithful to the Latin to perhaps enact changes more to their liking, adding to already present discord and exacerbating the “liturgy wars,” although the document makes clear that texts must be translated faithfully.

Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society in the United Kingdom said there was a danger that Magnum Principium could turn out like Memoriale Domini in 1969, the Vatican instruction on the manner of distributing Holy Communion.

That instruction was a response to a worldwide survey of bishops on the reception of Communion in the hand. The document reaffirmed the traditional practice of Holy Communion on the tongue, but it also said that the Holy See would consider requests from bishops’ conferences for permission for Communion in the hand if the request was backed by a two-thirds majority.

“The practical result was that the door to Communion in the hand was officially opened,” said Shaw. “Not only did bishops’ conferences make the request, but today it is regarded as odd if they have not, and reception in the hand is now regarded as the norm. The will to refuse bishops’ conferences’ request for the permission did not, for most cases, exist.”

Shaw added that Magnum Principium similarly insists on bishops’ conferences following Liturgiam Authenticam.

“It inserts the word ‘faithful’ into the wording of canon law with reference to liturgical translations, and it reserves the right of the Holy See to veto proposed translations,” he said.

“But these words will have no effect if there is no will in Rome to enforce them,” Shaw continued. “The document is being read as easing Rome’s control over translations, and it could easily lead to a free-for-all.”

But others say the motu proprio is, on the surface at least, water-tight, and only an explicit change in the law would allow for abuse, especially as the texts have to be submitted to Rome.

They allude to the point made by Archbishop Roche, in a letter accompanying the document, in which he states that the Vatican’s “confirmation” is an “authoritative act” that “presupposes a positive evaluation of the fidelity and congruence of the texts.”

For Salesian Msgr. Markus Graulich, the undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, enough safeguards are therefore in place.

“It’s enough because the congregation will confirm it [the bishops’ translations] and confirmatio (verification) is more than recognitio (recognition),” he said.

Others with knowledge of the issue say much will depend on who is running the Congregation for Divine Worship, but this has always been the case. Msgr. Graulich further observed that Magnum Principium means it is no longer possible for all English-speaking Catholics around the world to have the same English missal. But this is a positive development, he believes, as, for example, in some parts of Africa they have had difficulties with the new translated response “And with your spirit” instead of the previous, “And also with you.”

But also problematic in the document, say Shaw and others, is a misrepresentation — in the document’s first paragraph — of what the Second Vatican Council authorized in terms of vernacular translations. It states that the “great principle” established by the Council “required the weighty task of introducing the vernacular language into the liturgy and of preparing and approving the versions of the liturgical books, a charge that was entrusted to the bishops.”

But Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the sacred liturgy, stated that “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites,” while use of the vernacular “may be extended” when it may be “of great advantage to the people” (36).

Writing in the New Liturgical Movement, Peter Kwasniewski, a professor of theology at Wyoming Catholic College, said it is true that “a number of Council Fathers spoke out strongly in favor of greatly increasing the role of the vernacular; but they were a minority.”

He said there were many more “who admitted that [the vernacular’s] use should be expanded in certain situations, while not displacing the customary Latin,” and there were many others who “adamantly reaffirmed the primacy of Latin due to qualities frequently acknowledged by the magisterium of the Church, such as its antiquity, longevity, stability and universality.”

This being the case, Shaw said it therefore “behooves defenders of Sacrosanctum Concilium, like defenders of the traditional liturgy, to explain how the use of Latin does not necessarily impede worshippers’ engagement with the liturgy.”

“As Pope St. John Paul II explained, ‘through its dignified character [the old liturgy in Latin] elicited a profound sense of the Eucharistic Mystery’ (Dominicae Cenae, 23),” Shaw said.

But in addition to the debate over whether Vatican II actually authorized such widespread use of the vernacular, also of concern is the extent to which translations will be decentralized. During the Council, the Fathers were split almost evenly between those who wanted considerable decentralization and those who, on the contrary, warned repeatedly about the deleterious consequences of leaving liturgical decisions to local bodies.

Pope St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI fought hard against the centrifugal tendency caused by the vernacularization and adaptation of the liturgy, an effort that culminated in Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2001 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith instruction to ensure that, “insofar as possible,” texts must be translated “integrally and in the most exact manner.”

The concern now — even though Archbishop Roche insists the motu proprio will uphold the guiding principle of Liturgiam Authenticam — is that the emphasis on decentralization will undo the work of the two popes.

Shaw believes it is legitimate to be “concerned about the limited resources of many bishops’ conferences if they are expected to take the lead in commissioning translations.” Lack of expertise, he said, “could lead to poor translations, and with non-major languages it would be difficult for the Congregation for Divine Worship to check them.”

Another liturgical scholar, speaking to the Register on condition of anonymity, believes that although the document does not make any change in the actual laws that govern liturgical celebrations, its danger lies elsewhere.

“As with Amoris Laetitia, which technically ‘makes no changes,’ Magnum Principium introduces a new drift or trend that will embolden those who are already chronic liturgical abusers,” he said, adding that he believes it will make it “more difficult for conservative and traditional clergy who are patiently working to right the wrongs of the past decades.”

And yet, Msgr. Graulich and others are confident that a Vatican veto of translations coming from bishops’ conferences will be a sufficient check. One Vatican source said he was “no more worried than before,” and he was particularly heartened by the document’s emphasis on “authentic interpretation.”

“The situation before was that the Holy See may choose not to intervene whatsoever and so not do its duty,” he said. “On the other hand, now the congregation can be quite aggressive in defending these norms.” He also pointed out that questions of cultural norms continue to be ruled out and not entrusted to bishops. The bishops remain “custodians of the one liturgy, and that’s it,” he said.

Also, although the motu proprio advocates decentralization, it does not go as far as some people had feared in that respect, or as far as some who favor a more progressive, less traditional liturgy, had hoped.

“It’s a clarification,” said a source close to the process. “Certainly, it does not tally with the great rumors that Pope Francis would make this great act of subsidiarity and decentralization and entrust all work to the bishops’ conferences,” he said. “That’s not at all happened.”

“We’ll see how it works,” said Msgr. Graulich. “I hope it’ll work, and this will be shown by the praxis.” He also said the translations are all in place, and so for the foreseeable future, “there won’t be any new translations.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Fr. James Martin, SJ is a throwback to the 1970's heterodox progressives who caused so much harm to the Church to this day trying to make Holy Mother Church something she simply isn't and foisting this anti-Catholic ideology on her by manipulating Catholics under the banner of 1960' love as promoted by the immature hippies of that day.

Fr. Martin would do well to promote love for all sinners and not love of the sin as the wonderful group Courage does. Courage is the template for the Church's and thus the Risen Lord's authentic love for homosexuals or those tormented by disordered affections. It is not enablement of loving one's sin but rather enabling loving God and neighbor and the splendor of Truth!

Thus I copy this from Fr. Z with his inserted red comments:

Fr. Martin issued a statement of his own on Facebook (where else?):

Dear friends: Theological College, the seminary at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC, today cancelled a talk I was to give on Alumni Day, on Oct. 4, thanks to a campaign by Church Militant, the priest known as “Father Z” and Lifesite News.  [I did NOT campaign for anything.  I didn’t ask anyone to call TC.  I asked some questions.  Period.]
That campaign caused a storm of phone calls, emails and messages to Theological College, which included, I was told, people screaming at the receptionists who answered the phone. In the end, they felt that the expected protests and negative publicity would distract from Alumni Day.  [I sincerely hope that none of you readers were rude to receptionists at TC.  That’s beneath your dignity and, frankly, not behavior that one should expect of Catholics shaped by tradition and “class”.]
This follows the cancellation of another lecture at the Annual Investiture Dinner of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in New York City, scheduled on Oct. 21. The organizers told me that they had received angry emails and calls from several members of the Order, most of whom, they believed, were encouraged to protest thanks to another campaign initiated by Church Militant, which you can see here:…/episode/vortex-unbelievable
As an aside, a few years ago I was invited to join the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, but couldn’t because of its steep entrance fee. Also, Catholic University hosted me for a talk, one of a few that I have given there, just last year.
That follows an earlier cancellation of a lecture in London for Cafod (Catholic International Development Charity in England) which was scheduled for the third week in October.
Each of these cancellations was a result of anger or fear over my book “Building a Bridge,” about LGBT Catholics. The book has the formal approval (the “Imprimi Potest”) of my Jesuit Provincial, the Very Rev. John Cecero, SJ; and has been endorsed by Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Archbishop John Wester, Bishop Robert McElroy and Bishop John Stowe.  [All of which is irrelevant.]
In the case of Theological College, the fears were of angry protesters disrupting their Alumni Day. In the case of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre Dinner, it was anger from some members over the topic of LGBT Catholics. In the case of Cafod lecture in London, it was not a response to any campaign but fear that my presence itself would garner negative attention, after the group had recently faced other similar problems. In none of these cases was the local ordinary–in each a cardinal–in any way advocating for the cancellation of the talk. The impetus was purely from those social media sites.
I have asked each organization to be honest about the reasons for these cancellations. That is, I told them I did not want to lie and say, “I withdrew” or “I declined” or “I was afraid to come.”
So I share with you as much as I can in the interests of transparency, which we need in our church. And to show you the outsize influence of social media sites motivated by fear, hatred and homophobia.  [Rubbish.  He is a public figure.  He defends even homosexual acts, not just homosexuals as human beings.  He is, right now, a lightning rod.]
For my part, I bear no ill will to Theological College, Catholic University, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre or Cafod. The organizers were all apologetic and in some cases more upset than I was. I know that they were under extreme pressure, and in some cases were overwhelmed by the rage that can be generated by social media: ill will based on misrepresentations, innuendos, homophobia and especially fear. Perfect love drives out fear, as St. Paul said. But perfect fear also drives out love.
Also, I want to say that none of these cancellations disturbs me.[And yet, here we are, reading this.] I’ve not lost any sleep over them. (The outsize influence of social media sites that traffic in homophobia, specialize in personal attacks, and whips up hatred another matter. This is disturbing and should be disturbing to all of us. It is not coming from God.)
And there will be many other venues. In fact, after the talk in DC was cancelled, Holy Trinity Church in DC invited me to deliver a lecture a few days before the planned Theological College event was to occur, on Sept. 30. So I look forward to seeing you all in Washington.
I’m also happy to say that a revised and expanded version of “Building a Bridge,”with a new introduction, more stories drawn from my encounters with LGBT people, more insights from church leaders, and more biblical meditations, will be published early next year.
Last night at the University of Scranton, after the talk to the incoming freshmen, a mother approached the book-signing table, and started to cry when she talked about her gay son and what the book had meant to her. And I told her that her tears put any opposition in perspective.  [Emotions are a huge factor in this issue.  Often they trump reason.]
Because what is opposition next to the love of Jesus? It is nothing.
I also have the support of my Jesuit Provincial, my Jesuit brothers, and two cardinals and several bishops who endorsed my book (as well as many other cardinals, archbishops and bishops who have contacted me privately). Most of all, I want to say that Jesus is close to me in prayer.
So I am at total peace.
A final note: all of the talks that were cancelled–at Theological College, at the Order of the Holy Sepulchre Investiture Dinner, and at Cafod, were not about LGBT Catholics. They were about Jesus.


Praytell's article,

Silent Canon? A Clarification on Cardinal Sarah’s Comment

has a good commentary on the history of the silent Roman Roman Canon and the allowance or return of the audibly prayed Roman Canon. The inspiration of this article is based upon what Cardinal Sarah said about the Silent Canon this past Thursday night in Rome in a brilliant address on the Liturgy that transcended the EF Mass and touched mostly on the OF Mass. He seems to indicate a revision of the OF Mass to allow a silent canon but it isn't completely clear that it advocates it across the board.

 Early in the revision of the Mass in 1970--it was still possible to interpret the rubric for the canon to allow a silent canon in that the rubric stated the canon "may" be celebrated audibly. That rubric changed in later 1970's missals and "may" was no longer used.

When I started celebrating the EF Mass exactly 10 years ago, one of the things that I did not recall as a child is that the Roman Canon was prayed silently. Thus my own recollection was the canon was always aloud although until 1967 or so in Latin and only the Roman Canon was prayed until that same 1967 date when three other "canons" were invented.

I have to say that I felt extremely uncomfortable praying the canon silently in the EF. What is lacking for most modern Catholics, to include this priest, is the spirituality, thoroughly Catholic, of contemplation and silence in the liturgical prayers of the Mass to include the Canon. Most adults and children today, thanks to soundbites, our electronic gadgets, Facebook and video games, have a very short attention span and any amount of silence is discomforting, especially at Church or Mass where one's mind cannot focus long enough to endure longer silences without the mind drifting to all sorts of other distractions which are purely mundane.

These distractions to modern Catholics also occur in the Ordinary Form when the contrived silences after the reading, the homily and Holy Communion, where there is absolutely no liturgical action or public prayer, overwhelm actual participation and lead to the drifting of thoughts and the antithesis of contemplation and prayer.

So in terms of mutual enrichment of both the EF and OF Roman Missals, how can we find a middle ground for both forms and thus a point of unity in terms of the recovery of contemplation, awe and wonder during the praying of the Canon which can be heard by the laity?

Pray the Canon in a low voice and audibly but with the use of a microphone in large churches is the best solution for both the EF and OF Masses. To be honest with you, over the years that I have celebrated the EF Mass, I wear a cordless microphone and I pray the canon in a low voice which is audible and it is carried through the church over the speakers. It is clear that I am praying softly but there isn't dead silence. And if I interpret the rubric of the EF Mass for a low voice Canon, it isn't to be said silently without the priest using his lips to voice the canon--correct me if I am wrong.

The greatest problem with the vernacular canon and prayed facing the congregation is that the priest reads the prayer in a "proclaiming way" which comes across not as prayer that could lead to quiet contemplation, but as though it is a "reading" directed to the congregation for the people to hear. This is especially true when the priest establishes eye-contact with the congregation, turns his head toward all present and makes the liturgical gestures at the consecration toward the congregation. This is truly a corruption of the prayerfulness of the Thanksgiving of the canon and the contemplation required of the Canon. It comes across not as prayer at all but as just another reading of the Mass for the congregation to hear. It also comes across as a mere reenactment of the first "Lord's Supper" and not a remembering of what the institution of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday anticipated, Good Friday's Most Holy Sacrifice of the Cross and the establishment of Christ as the Eternal High Priest and the Sacrament of the Priesthood to make that High Priesthood visible!

Ad Orientem or at least the "Benedictine" altar arrangement is the antidote for this corruption!


From the Augusta Chronicle 9/16/17:

500 years of the reformation

Why commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation?

In 2017, we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Over the next seven weeks, this series will reveal the variety of ways in which life today bears the marks of the Reformation and its legacy.
Today: Why we commemorate the Reformation Sept. 23: Education Sept. 30: Politics Oct. 7: Conflict and the quest for unity Oct. 14: Marriage and family Oct. 21: Economics Oct. 28: Evangelism and missions

ANDREAS BECHERT/SPECIAL Michael Holahan/staFF The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, is where Martin Luther hung his 95 Theses. In Augusta, the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection on Greene Street welcomes people with red doors “symbolizing that we enter God’s family, the body of Christ through the blood of Christ,” said Pastor David Hunter.
It started 500 years ago with a monk hanging 95 Theses, or topics for debate, on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. It was the eve of All Saints Day in 1517 – a day we know as Oct. 31 or Halloween. Yet, in most Protestant Christian circles, Oct. 31 will always be known as “Reformation Day” for with the hanging of his Theses, the young monk, pastor and university professor Martin Luther birthed the Protestant Reformation.


The presenting issue for Luther might not be a matter of great controversy today. However, the sale of indulgences greatly troubled Luther. The theological thinking of the time was that at one’s death there remained sins needing atonement and acts of penitence. Until that debt had been paid, one’s soul remained in purgatory instead of moving into heaven. An “indulgence” was a sum of money paid to the church on behalf of the dead so that he or she could be released early from purgatory. Selling indulgences became quite a money-maker for the Christian church, with the catch phrase, “As soon as the coin box rings another soul from purgatory springs!”
Luther recognized the selling of indulgences and the theology of purgatory stood in marked contrast to his understanding of the biblical witness of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. So, he did what any university professor of the time would do: He challenged the proponents of indulgences to a debate. The 95 Theses were not an attempt to rebel against the pope or the church; they were not a call to revolution; they were an attempt to bring the theology and practice of the church closer to the scriptural witness.
The result of this call for debate was resounding silence. The 95 Theses were written in Latin, a language read and understood by very few. None of Luther’s fellow university professors wanted to debate his points. Those selling indulgences certainly did not want a public questioning of their practices. So for several months nothing happened at all.
Then, at the encouragement of his parishioners, some of Luther’s university students translated his document into German – the language of the people. Interest began to grow, neighboring towns and churches shared Luther’s concerns, and a populist movement began that ultimately spread around the globe.
In 2017, we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Whether one is a church member or not, it is an event worth marking. For not only did the theological trajectory of the Christian church change, with a renewed focus on “grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone and Scripture alone,” but almost every aspect of society felt the impact as well.
Over the next seven weeks, this series will lift up a variety of ways in which life today bears the marks of the Reformation and its legacy. For example:
• The Reformation’s emphasis on making Scripture available in the language of common people encouraged the development of public education and literacy.
• The Reformation’s understanding of the importance and role of local magistrates and government officials helped create the modern republic and democratic systems of government.
• The Reformation’s opening of marriage to priests and pastors resulted in a new role for women in the church and in society.
• The Reformation’s emphasis on the value of every profession, not just clergy, as a godly vocation helped to create modern economic systems and the “Protestant Work Ethic.”
• The Reformation’s renewed hope that all might be saved through faith in Jesus Christ sent missionaries around the globe who brought not only their faith, but also their culture with them.

Yes, the Reformation transformed all of society.

As we commemorate the beginning of the Reformation, it is important to note that some of the movement’s impacts were negative. Initial leaders in the Protestant movement soon found themselves at odds with each other.

Various branches or “denominations” of the church developed, which were often quite antagonistic toward others.

Once those splits developed, it seemed that every minor disagreement led to a new denomination. Some estimates indicate there are more than 30,000 Protestant denominations today, severely undermining attempts at unity.
The fracturing of the Christian church often had political consequences as well. Various political magistrates and rulers chose sides in the conflict.

Some chose out of religious conviction. Others saw opportunity to claim political power for themselves as opposed to allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.

The response from the church and the empire was swift. The Thirty Years War and the English Civil War are just two examples of the armed conflict and immense bloodshed that followed the beginning of the Reformation.

Protestant churches and communities commemorating the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation can use it as an opportunity to model unity and reconciliation in the midst of our world, which seems to grow more fractured and divisive every year.

In 1999, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, healing a significant theological division of the Reformation. United Methodists joined the agreement in 2006. In 2017, Reformed (Presbyterian) Christians signed a declaration endorsing the agreement and the Anglican (Episcopal) Church is expected to do the same later this year. 

ALaMY.COM A memorial to Martin Luther stands in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany.

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF This banner, commemorating the Protestant Reformation in 1517, hangs on the wall at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in downtown Augusta.

Here in Augusta, Ga., a community service sponsored and led by churches of several denominations will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Additional denominational services and commemorations will be held throughout this season.

As we mark the history and legacy of the Reformation, may we appreciate the gifts and contributions of our diverse faiths and together work for the common good of our community.
Dr. Matthew A. Rich is the pastor of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta.


Now-famous Florida nun used Google to figure out chain saw

Sister Margaret Ann holds a chain saw Tuesday near Miami, Fla. Police said the nun was cutting trees to clear the roadways around Archbishop Coleman Carrol High School in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The Florida nun who became an internet sensation when video emerged of her – dressed in full habit – wielding a chain saw to clear downed trees after Hurricane Irma says she had to look up instructions on how to start the tool.

“I actually had to Google it to find out how to start it because I’d forgotten how … ,” Sister Margaret Ann said. “The students have told me everything is online, sister; just ask the question online.”

The nun, principal of Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School in Miami, said her mechanical education didn’t stop with the Google search.

“Some people have sent me videos on how to use a chain saw because apparently I wasn’t using it correctly or as safe as I should’ve been, so I’m learning, too,” she told The Associated Press in a Skype interview. Many people posted warnings online that the nun’s loose habit could get caught in the saw.

An off-duty Miami-Dade police officer posted the video of Sister Margaret Ann on social media Monday. The Miami-Dade Police Department praised her effort, saying: “Thank you Sister and all of our neighbors that are working together to get through this!”

The video was picked up by media outlets, including the AP, and quickly became a global sensation.

Sister Margaret Ann laughed off the attention, saying her students are enjoying watching her on social media. Some have even asked for her autograph.

“People are driving by and saying, ‘Thank you, sister, thank you,’ ” she said. “So I think it has been really good for our community, and I understand that the video has really gone worldwide, so that’s kinda funny.”

She also said she was glad the video gave the public a different view of nuns.

“The students are telling me, they are saying, ‘Sister, you’re no wimp. You’ll get out there and work with us.’ And that is really the way it should be, and that’s the way sisters really are. We are not just sitting back praying, or asking other people, or begging for money or anything like that.”

She said she didn’t even mind the fact that she had become known worldwide as the “chain saw sister,” but the new moniker did make her laugh.

“If it’s going bring back good memories for people, and we all learn and grow, it’s good,” she said.


The Political Pope

The pontiff ’s criticism of U.S. immigration policy is untimely, off base

(My comment first: Pope Francis has recovered the anti-law, anti-canon law sentiments of the Church of the 1970's which mirrored what was happening in secular society in the 1960's especially in the USA where police were called pigs and those who followed the law be it civil or canon law were equated as being rigid and "doctors of the law" in the thoroughly negative way to criticize and marginalize them. While I doubt that the editorialist for the Augusta Chronicle knows about the 1970's language Pope Francis' uses repetitively especially in his daily Masses about the in-house "doctors of the law" to include holy Cardinals like Cardinals Burke and Caffarra, they certainly see the Pope's 1970's bent in the His Holiness' criticism of US immigration policy.)

Eternal, infernal combatants in American politics took a few days off from ringing each other’s throats over politics this past week as another humanitarian nightmare encircled America.

Not the pope, though.

Even as the country’s second major hurricane in weeks enveloped the Southeast U.S., Pope Francis just had to weigh in on American immigration policy and climate change.

On the latter, he said history – not God, apparently – will judge climate change skeptics.

On the former, the pope issued his opinion against President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era “DACA” program in which a unilateral – and quite likely unconstitutional – executive order temporarily delayed deportation for those brought here illegally as minors.

In his remarks – in which he essentially said if Trump is “a good pro-lifer,” then he would support DACA – the pope seemed to suggest one cannot be pro-life and anti-illegal immigration.

Besides the non sequitur – and the sweeping judgment of those who hold opposing political views, contrary to Christianity’s “judge not lest ye be judged” doctrine – what is the pope doing? He’s more political than many politicians.

Granted, his predecessor John Paul II was very political – but primarily when it came to confronting the evils of communism and the occupation of his native Poland by the Soviet Union. This pope, by contrast, is more judgmental about free peoples.

Rather than attack an American president for seeking orderly and legal immigration, why not question why so many are risking their lives to escape certain areas of the world? Could it be because of oppression and tyranny in many countries – i.e., the lack of human freedom – that leads to economic and spiritual desperation?

The pontiff also has a very different view of compassion than many. We don’t happen to think it’s compassionate to invite, encourage and reward the very hazardous and unfair “system” of illegal immigration that has grown up here over decades. People die, people are exploited, as human smugglers shake down illegals, for morally unconscionable sums, to help them jump in line in front of those who have worked and waited years to enter the U.S. legally.

What about that equation is moral? Is that “pro-life”? Or just cynically “for profit”?

Notwithstanding the artlessness of being so political in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, his inveighing against an orderly immigration system here runs smack dab into the political cautions he sent to Italy, closer to home: to manage its own immigration crisis “with prudence” – “taking into account how many people it can successfully integrate into its society,” as the Associated Press put it.

Goodness. Isn’t that precisely what we’re trying to do here?

The world was reminded of the dire need for orderly, cautious migration after yet another terrorist attack at a train station in London Friday — the fifth terror attack in Britain this year alone.

The rest of us are “DREAMERS” too. We dream of being able to go about our daily business without the threat of attacks by murderous misanthropes who despise us and our culture.

With all due respect, for we consider this pope to be a great man: If he’s going to be political, he should at least have some perspective: No nation on Earth has been more welcoming or more humane to immigrants, legal and otherwise. Is it too much to ask to have some room to manage it?

We think one can be pro-life and pro-law.