Tag Archives: Mass

Reparation Appeal


This Spanish “artist,” named Abel Azcona, stole 242 consecrated Eucharistic hosts from various Masses, and has put the body and blood of Jesus in a blasphemous art display in Pamplona.  The full story is here, but I would ask anyone who reads about this to offer your meatless-Friday or a Holy Hour before the Tabernacle in reparation for such unspeakable crimes against Jesus.

The bishop in Spain denounced it, but once again we see that Holy Communion in the Hand (and/or without kneeling) leads to yet more and more blasphemies and sacrileges in the Mass.  Of course, the Traditional Latin Mass has no such option, but bishops and pastors in the Novus Ordo (Mass in English or Spanish) also have a clear-cut path:  A 2004 document from the Vatican makes every pastor and bishop prohibit the reception of Holy Communion by hand in such times as these:  1


Azcona stealing Holy Communion for blasphemous purposes, as displayed on his own FB page.


  1. “If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum #92

Thanksgiving Homily


This is a 10 minute Thanksgiving Homily from today.  It ties Jewish sacrificial meals to the Holy Mass.  It also ties a little of the history of Israel to a bit of modern history in the United States, and how we thank God in the darkness.

Eucharistic Procession 2015

Friends helped me make this 1 minute video of our Eucharistic Procession on the boardwalk of Virginia Beach.  This Eucharistic Procession was spearheaded by my pastor and continued by him and many others the past few years.  Special thanks to Mike Cistola, Keith Forrest and especially John and Rich at Tele-Video Productions of Virginia Beach.  Our goal is to see these in every city, especially on the East Coast, so please post this on social media and share it with your pastors.  It’s great evidence what one pastor can do to fire up a whole city.

Make sure to watch it in HD.

Transgender in the Catholic Church

My first blog post ever was called Family Roles and the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In it, I show that the Sacrifice of the Mass or the Divine Liturgy is actually a complimentary male-female microcosm of the temple, the family, and even the universe.   The complimentarity of man and woman is so vital to life (both natural and supernatural), that no species on this planet is either recognizable nor sustainable without the physical, genetic and even psychological differences that amount to the wholeness of life via these complimentary structures.  This is true in the spiritual as much as the physical.

Satan’s whole plan will be the opposite of God’s plan.  He will oppose Natural Law after he has denigrated Divine Law.  Satan’s penultimate attack against humanity may be horizoned upon androgyny, as seen in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, where Satan is essentially transgender, equalizing the field of the life-giving aspect of humanity:


Those who are truly born androgynous have a beautiful and heavy cross which—if carried heroically—will conform them fully to Christ-crucified and bring them to share His glory (Rom 8:17.)  So, let me repeat:  There’s no moral evil to being born androgynous.

But recently I came across a picture of “Caitlyn Jenner” and his mutilated men who the media described as “beautiful women”:

transgender women

Still, I didn’t feel any anger.  I didn’t feel any judgment towards them.  I promise you that I only felt compassion.  I felt similar compassion in my first encounter with a transgender patient when I was a Denver Paramedic.  He was a small hispanic teen, just off Colorado Boulevard with his friends about 12 years ago.  He had overdosed on cocaine sometime after midnight.  I took care of him as best as I had been trained.  He lived.

But, I saw both times that Satan had tricked humanity to hurt themselves and deny their life giving powers, because Satan himself is death.  I’m no saint, but saying “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do” is very easy to pray when people truly have been so terribly deceived into harming their own bodies.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a patient person, that I’m no Mother Teresa, but I really only feel Divine Mercy for these poor people.

But I feel less palpable compassion for the Catholic priests who encourage girls to play “dress up” at Mass as men:

The cassocks above are small and red, but they are mens’ cassocks.  If this sounds too extreme, please read three short things:

1. The Church has held that putting on a cassock (above in red, but you can see girls in the black cassock in almost every diocese of the USA except Lincoln, NE) was exclusively for the priest, with the one exception before Vatican II being an extremely limited use (within the Church building ) to male acolytes and sacristans who had been highly trained in the Traditional Latin Mass (which takes more memorization to serve than does the Novus Ordo a priest to offer.)  Every day after I shave, the cassock is what I wear on the streets.  It is not just “to dress up to play Mass” like most Americans treat the idea of a priest who would dare to prohibit altar girls.  The cassock is the most ancient sign of a priest, of a man.  How is it sexist to say girls shouldn’t play “man”?  If fact, the opposite seems highly sexist—to assume we priests have cornered the market of holiness.  I’m pretty sure the priest scandals of 2001 disproved that.

2. The male-exclusive calling to the altar shouldn’t ruffle so many feathers, since the contemplative role of women as human beings is higher than being human doings, as seen in the squabble of Martha and Mary 1

3. How many of you would let your son go to Mass dressed up like a nun?  These girls are literally dressed up like men at the most sacred event that takes place in the world every Sunday.  I’m serious:  How many of you would let your son go to Mass dressed up like a nun?

I don’t blame the girls.  I blame the men who begged the Vatican 20 years ago to allow cross-dressing on the altar of God.  Is that too extreme?  I’ll stick by that sentence based on the three part apologia above.

This has enormous bearing upon current events.  As we brace for the Vatican’s upcoming “Synod on the Family,” the German bishops have a new webpage called “Love Counts” which is simply a promotion of gay-marriage for the Catholic Church.   We should not be surprised at this, considering how male and female have been conflated in the Mass for 50 years, as seen in the above picture.  Pope Francis has promoted the anti-marriage bishops in the synod (See above posts) so it will take a miracle at this point.

The only surprising thing to me in all this mess is to hear of socially conservative priests who preach against transgender surgeries, but then turn around and allow altar girls at Mass.  It’s no wonder the critics of the Catholic Church call us “hypocrites.”

How can we expect the world to live the physical outplaying of the reality of man and woman if we as Catholic priests are promoting the termination of the life-giving complimentary spiritual-outplaying within the most important thing that happens every day?  That is, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  If we can’t get this right, we then have no right to judge the world, the flesh, or even the devil.

There’s only one way to win this spiritual war:

g kelly

  1.  Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”—Luke 10:38-42


byz comm

A friend recently e-mailed me and he said that reading my blog  is “like drinking sparkling water while pulling nose hairs.”

Well, this is going to be one of those sparkling water ones without the pulling of nose hairs.  Despite the seemingly-boring topic of this post, the Offertory of the Mass, I’m going to make a tall promise: What I show you on the Offertory of the Mass will transform your weekly worship into something new, interpersonal, meaningful and even thrilling if you enact it, as Mega-Churchy as that promise sounds.

The offertory is the part of the Mass after the homily when the priest prepares the altar for the sacrifice. In sung Masses, the offertory prayer is sung.  In the sung Latin Mass (TLM) the offertory prayer is sung by the choir and whispered by the priest.  In the vernacular Mass (Novus Ordo, say, in English) it’s sung by the priest.  

Then, the altar is prepared.

Normally, people see the offertory as essentially the “intermission ” of the Mass. That’s why you use this time to talk quietly about the homily, scratch your wife’s back, read the bulletin, check your texts, use the bathroom, correct your kids, wonder if you should give 1% or a 2% of your income in the offertory basket.  Ok, one nose-hair part.  

If we only knew what was really about to happen. The Mass is the re-presentation of the entire Last Supper and murder on Golgotha to the point that every Mass is as real as if you took a time machine back to Calvary at the consecration. This is true, whether there’s good or bad music/homilies. Yes, the consecration is indeed the most underrated part of the Mass.

But the second most underrated part of the Mass is the Offertory. Here’s why: The Mass is also an entire ecosystem of death and new life in the supernatural organism of the mystical body of Christ (the Church) for the life of the world—everyone from your family to a pagan you’ve never met.

There’s a modern day mystic (and possibly stigmatist) in Bolivia named Catalina Rivas. I believe her private revelations from Jesus and Mary have the approbation (or at least allowance) of the Bishops of South America. Mary, the Mother of God, walks Catalina through the Mass, and today I want to highlight what Mary shows Catalina about the Offertory. It’s worth reading the long quote, with Mary’s quotes in bold font:

A moment later the Offertory arrived, and the Holy Virgin said: “Pray like this: (and I repeated after Her) Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can do. I put everything into Your Hands. Build it up, Lord, with the little thing that I am. By the merits of Your Son, transform me, God Almighty. I petition You for my family, for my benefactors, for each member of our Apostolate, for all the people who fight against us, for those who commend themselves to my poor prayers. Teach me to lay down my heart as if on the ground before them so that their walk may be less severe. This is how the saints prayed; this is how I want all of you to do it.”

Thus, this is how Jesus asks us to pray, that we put our hearts as if on the ground so that they do not feel its severity, but rather that we alleviate the pain of their steps.

Suddenly some characters, whom I had not seen before, began to stand up. It was as if from the side of each person present in the Cathedral, another person emerged, and soon the Cathedral became full of young, beautiful people. They were dressed in very white robes, and they started to move into the central aisle and, then, went towards the Altar.

Our Mother said: “Observe. They are the Guardian Angels of each one of the persons who are here. This is the moment in which your guardian angel carries your offerings and petitions before the Altar of the Lord.”

At that moment, I was completely astonished, because these beings had such beautiful faces, so radiant as one is unable to imagine. Their countenance was very beautiful with almost feminine faces; however, the structure of their body, their hands, their height were masculine. Their naked feet did not touch the floor, but rather they went as if gliding. That procession was very beautiful.

Some of them were carrying something like a golden bowl with something that shone a great deal with a golden-white light. The Virgin Mary said: “They are the Guardian Angels of the people who are offering this Holy Mass for many intentions, those who are conscious of what this celebration means. They have something to offer the Lord.”

Offer yourselves at this moment; offer your sorrows, your pains, your hopes, your sadness, your joys, your petitions. Remember that the Mass has infinite value. Therefore, be generous in offering and in asking.”

Notice this shortened version of the prayer that Mary asks us to pray at the Offertory:

Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can do. I put everything into Your Hands. Build it up, Lord, with the little thing that I am. By the merits of Your Son, transform me, God Almighty.

This is why this is the most interpersonal time during the Mass.  As the priest is setting up the chalice, simply think or pray onto that altar every part of your life:  every hope, every dream, every disappointment, every friend, every family member, every enemy, every act of love, every betrayal, every son, every daughter, every neighbor, everyone in prison, every Christian in Syria, everyone in ISIS, everyone working on Sundays, everyone who cut you off in traffic, everyone you learned about on the news, every circumstance at work, every medical problem, every financial problem, every mission, every marriage, every upcoming dentist appointment, every fearful anticipation, every hopeful anticipation, every physical suffering, every psychological suffering, everything you have, everything you are, everything you’re called to be, everyone you want to follow Christ.  Think big.  Your guardian angel can handle it.  

As the priest is at the offertory, so also should you be.  After you have thought of all those things, memorize now so you can say Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can do. I put everything into Your Hands. Build it up, Lord, with the little thing that I am. By the merits of Your Son, transform me, God Almighty.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said those who have nothing to offer become “parasites on the body of Christ” when they receive Holy Communion.

But for those who take the Offertory seriously, here’s the final great news:  At the consecration, not only is the bread and wine transformed, but so also everything else you prayed onto the altar:  every suffering, every hope, every family member.  This is the mystery of the immolation not only of the physical body of Christ, but the transformation of the Church—the mystical body of Christ.

If you want to change the world via the Mass, you don’t need to be an extraordinary “minister” of Holy Communion.  You can live your baptismal, common priesthood for the glory of God and the salvation of countless souls if you pray the offertory ardently as you give your whole life to your guardian angel, who in turns presents it to the Blessed Trinity for the miraculous transformation of evil into good, and good into glorious.

Planned Parenthood and Priests

pp Mass

When I was sidewalk counseling at an abortion clinic last Friday, it hit me that it’s good that there’s actually a few priests and bishops speaking out against Planned Parenthood, but there’s still something worse than abortion.

For no crime is there heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use [of the Holy Eucharist.]”—Council of Trent, De Euch v.i., 16th century.

This could either refer to sacrilegious Masses or sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion.

Of course, the interior state of a person who is receiving Holy Communion can never be judged by another, especially based on exterior indications.  However, a priest or a bishop who publicly tramples the rubrics of his rite commits a public act of sacrilege, calling down upon him “the heaviest punishment to be feared from God.”  (ibid.)

Consider four frequently-broken rubrics found in a post-Vatican II document called Redemptionis Sacramentum:

1) “When Holy Mass is celebrated for a large crowd – for example, in large cities – care should be taken lest out of ignorance non-Catholics or even non-Christians come forward for Holy Communion, without taking into account the Church’s Magisterium in matters pertaining to doctrine and discipline. It is the duty of Pastors at an opportune moment to inform those present of the authenticity and the discipline that are strictly to be observed.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 84

2) “The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful where there is such a large number of communicants that it is difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist and there is a danger that more than a reasonable quantity of the Blood of Christ remain to be consumed at the end of the celebration.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 102

3) “Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 151

4) “If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”—Redemptionis Sacramentum 92

Is there a big enough chance the Eucharist would be profaned that would justify the switching of an entire parish or diocese from Communion in the hand to exclusively Communion on the tongue? First of all, a bishop once told me he believes 80% of those who received Holy Communion in his diocese received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin.  I’ll never forget that number that he told me.  That right there is enough profanation to demand exact and immediate obedience to the rubrics of the Liturgy:  New Mass, Old Mass or the Byzantine Divine Liturgy.  This is because a priest doing the right thing automatically engenders worthy communions among the laity.

When a bishop preaches against a Satanic Mass that takes place in his diocese, that’s great.  But where did the Eucharistic host come from destined for sacrilege?  This answer I can give with 99% surety:  The consecrated Host came from a Mass in that same diocese where the satanist took Holy Communion in the hand from a lay Eucharistic “minister” who was quickly smiling at the next person in line…while Our Lord was being taken to a new crucifixion in unspeakable rituals…literally unspeakable satanic rituals which are as evil as abortion.

Bishops and pastors have not only the right, but the duty to enact everything in Redemptionis Sacramentum overnight without any need for a higher authority.  Why?  Because protection of the Eucharist is Divine Law, not Ecclesial Law. Rome can change Ecclesial Law (and some things in Redemptionis Sacramentum admittedly refer to Ecclesial law.)  Particular Law is what a bishop can change in his diocese. Divine Law and Ecclesial Law trump Particular Law.  Redemptions Sacramentum is mostly the first two since it is a document for the universal Church.

So what is the excuse for ignoring God’s law?  Because no one else is following it.  But this will not exonerate us at the Final Judgement, especially since Rome was so clear after Vatican II, not to mention all the binding documents prior.  Even common sense dictates that we must end this sacrilege against God in the Eucharist, especially if we are to simultaneously beg God to end the scourge of abortion—something only He can do—not the Republican party.

This rejection of God’s holy law is why Bishop Athanasius Schneider has called this the fourth greatest crisis in the history of the Church.  His namesake shows that there is precedent in Church history for global blindness even among the clergy.  The core of every crisis is when priests fear man more than God.  The same is true for this crisis of the 21st century.  The only difference is that we have dubbed our current fear-of-man to be “pastoral charity” instead of “Arianism.”

The specific four instructions that I quote in Redemptionis Sacramentum were given by the Church nearly forty years after Vatican II.  All are to be enacted within the new Mass of the vernacular (i.e. English or Spanish in the USA.)   I can’t stress enough that it was released in 2004, not 1604.  Nor is Redemptionis Sacramentum a frilly tidbit of devotion for more pious priests.  Why do I say this?  Again, the above four quotes are examples of the bare-minimum.

Pastors and bishops can stop 99% of Satanic Masses (and probably reduce the more common sacrilege of people showing up to Mass in 6″ shorts) by enacting Redemptionis Sacramentum, for this document clarifies that it is our duty to eradicate the reception of Holy Communion in the hand in any danger, even in the Mass of Vatican II, for the highest authorities have spoken on this topic: “To touch the Sacred Species with their own hands and to distribute them is a privilege of the Ordained.”—Pope St. John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae.

(The above tenets are all “givens” in the Traditional Latin Mass that you see pictured in the above photo with a priest-friend of mine in front of a Planned Parenthood.   It’s the only Mass I offer now, too.)

We should return to my original topic:  What does obedience to Redemptionis Sacramentum have to do with ending abortion? Read Exodus 25 and Exodus 26.   The chapters contain God’s instructions to Moses regarding Divine Worship.  The Ark and the Tabernacle had to be fabricated exactly as God said—down to the centimeter.  In Exodus 25-26, following the “legalistic rules” of worship does indeed come before social justice.   Hence, in the New Covenant, for “no crime is there heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use [of the Eucharist.]”—Trent.   Redemptionis Sacramentum is a lot easier to follow than Trent, and yet it’s still being ignored by “conservative” pastors.  If we eschew the minimum of God’s request on worship, how can we ask Him to end abortion?

In fact, any priest or bishop who preaches the hard truths of marriage while not fulfilling the minimum found above in Redemptionis Sacramentum may be the very person Jesus spoke of when He said: “You load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”—Luke 11:46.  So-called “conservative” pastors are often the worst culprits in persecuting the few priests and laity who wish to hold to all of Redemptionis Sacramentum.   At least, I have to honor the “progressives” for their consistency:  They don’t hypocritically pretend to fight the Unborn Holocaust or this Liturgical Holocaust.  Some even have genuine zeal for their own pet-projects.

I don’t think we priests can sincerely ask God to end the Unborn Holocaust until we have collectively become obedient to Him in ending this Liturgical Holocaust.  It would cost us little more than short-lived popularity.  Until then, it may be costing unborn babies their lives.


The End of the Mass


You might think that this is a grumpy-the-grump post on bad liturgy with a title like “the End of the Mass,” but it is not.  The “end” simply means the goal of something.  The Greek word telos was appropriated into the English to mean “the end term of a goal-directed process.”  For philosophy students out there, it’s the final cause.  What is the telos or goal or end of a pencil?  Writing.

What is the goal or telos of the Mass?

We will get to that, but—okay—permit me one grumpy-the-grump story in contrast.  Last year, I was traveling across Florida.  In Tampa, I stopped into a Church one afternoon.  I kindly told the secretary of the parish that I was a traveling priest and that I’d like to offer Mass.  She was confused, and asked if I had a group of people to join me.  Maybe a youth group?  When I told her that I did not have anyone else, she simply couldn’t imagine why I’d be offering Mass…and refused me.

She was a kind woman, but perhaps she believed that the Mass would have no value without people receiving Holy Communion.  Clearly, she did not have an evil will.  But this account demonstrates that theological ignorance can have the same outcome as a malicious will (eg. one less Mass in the world, in this case.)  Would that every Catholic Church secretary in the world read this single post!

The month of July has traditionally been consecrated and devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus.  To learn the telos of the Mass would be a great resolution for this month.  To reveal those goals, I want to show the prayer that every priest (before Vatican II) would pray before the Mass.   It’s in Latin, but with the English there, too.  I give here my translation a bit more word-for-word:

I will to celebrate Mass and to confect the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the rite of the Holy Roman Church, unto the praise of the omnipotent God and all the Triumphant Church, for my good and the good of the entire Church Militant, for all who have commended themselves to my prayers—in general and specifically, and for the happy state of the Holy Roman Church.  May the omnipotent and merciful Lord grant us joy with peace, amendment of life, space for true repentance, consolation of the Holy Spirit and perseverance in good works.

Jesus offers Himself in the sacrifice of Calvary at the Mass.  This prayer tells us, in the order of importance, the ends of the Mass, taking the italics below from the prayer above:

1) The Blessed Trinity: Unto the praise of the omnipotent God.

2) The priest: For my good.

3.) All the Saints: All of the Triumphant Church.

4) All the Catholics on earth: The good of the entire Church Militant.

5) Those who have generally given themselves to the prayers of the priest:  For all who have commended themselves to my prayers—in general.

6) Those who have commended themselves specifically to that priest’s prayers at Mass:  For all who have commended themselves to my prayers…specifically.

7) For the happy state of the Holy Roman Church.

Notice that at the end of that prayer, I ask God to “grant us joy with peace, amendment of life, space for true repentance, consolation of the Holy Spirit and perseverance in good works.”

I have done this prayer almost every day for five years, spoken right before I offer Mass.  It makes me think about why I’m doing it.  Jesus offers Himself first in an act of infinite love to the Blessed Trinity, even if the priest has no altar server.  That means that the priest offering Mass brings infinite value to the world when he offers Mass—alone or with thousands in attendance.  Another reason to ignore numbers is because the Mass has billions of angels in attendance, anyway.  One should really have a holy fear of God when you consider that at consecration even Mary adores, from the highest point in heaven.

When Church authorities put Padre Pio (see picture above) under interdict for ten years, prohibiting him from offering anything but a private Mass, was Padre Pio’s Mass of any less value during those ten years?  It’s my unproven opinion that Padre Pio’s suffering (conjoined to Christ’s merits in the Mass Pio offered) deferred the wrath of God from ending the world during two World Wars.

Mary told the children of Fatima, after the main apparitions, that souls fall into hell “like snowflakes” every day.  Thus, we can not hope that “all men be saved.”  The Mass is offered for the salvation of the world—whether or not physical people be in attendance or not.

Giving glory to God and the salvation of souls is the telos of the Church, whether or not anyone show up.  This is the theology that will determine if Mass be worship or entertainment.  This is the theology that informs every vocation:  that we must strive to please God, and not men.

Family Roles and the Sacrifice of the Mass

The masculine and the feminine in the liturgy is a common topic on the blogosphere right now, so I want to put polemic aside and just see how the Sacred Scripture sees male and female symbolism in the sacrifice of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Because we’re looking to Scripture, I want to quote the man who I believe is the greatest Scripture scholar alive, Dr. Brandt Pitre. He is a young husband and father raising several children in Louisiana. Dr. Pitre contends that, for St. Paul, the main difference between male and female is not strength versus weakness, but rather transcendent versus immanent. Let’s consider the definitions of these two terms before looking at the Bible:

Transcendent—beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience. (For God) existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe.

Immanent—existing or operating within; inherent. (For God) permanently pervading and sustaining the universe.

We’ll come back to these definitions to see how they play into the liturgy, but first let’s look at a human analogy. Pitre tells the story about how one of his children ran in the street and scraped her knee. His wife comforted the child, held her, cried with her, nurtured her and bandaged her. A bit later, when his daughter was done crying, Brandt lovingly reminded her that she could sustain a lot worse injuries if she continues to play in traffic.
Immanent: The female gaze nurtures the family within and by compassion. Transcendent: The male view looks beyond to prevent unintended negative consequences in the future. This isn’t to say that women aren’t smart enough to do anything but put on Band-Aids and it doesn’t mean that men are called to be heartless disciplinarians who only think of the future. But Pitre’s family story does give a clue where we’re going as we equate transcendent with male and immanent with female. (See the definitions above, again.)

Another human example before we get to the liturgy: When I do “honest-question-and-answer-with-Fr. Nix” for uncatechized high-school students, I let them ask me hard questions. Inevitably, someone wants to know why women can’t be priests. I begin by asking all the girls to immediately raise their hands if they have imagined in their mind the day when they (the girls) get on one knee and propose to their future groom. Of course they all giggle; no hands are raised. Horrified, I ask “Why not!?” In a voice that says you idiot you already know the answer, some bold girl usually says, “Because I want my fiancé to propose to me.” I agree with her. Then, I get into explaining that just as the young man can and will hold out the ring, making the first move to the bride, so also only the priest can hold up the body-of-Christ and say to his bride, the Church, “This is my body.”

Yes, “the primacy of self-donation relies on the man” as St. John Paul II said in his Theology of the Body Wednesday audiences. The man must go beyond himself. A woman deserves to be pursued, and, although overused in Catholic circles today, there is truth to the analogy that the young man is the bee and the woman is the flower. She truly is “a garden enclosed” as Solomon wrote of his beloved. I even try to give these teens a PG version of transcendence and immanence in the intimate gift of marriage: The man must be the first to make the move outside himself both physically and spiritually. Even in making children, man gives in order to receive; woman receives in order to give. He goes outside himself into the garden enclosed, a garden that will eventually nurture new life in warmth and tenderness, away from the hostile, outside world.

You probably see where this analogy is going:



Another disclaimer to prevent mindless comments below: This is not to say male=good and female=bad. In fact, the writings of every Catholic mystic who I’ve ever read who has visited heaven say there are more women there in heaven than men! (Read that sentence again if you think this article is sexist.) Thus, this male/female business is not a description of good/bad. Another disclaimer: I am fully aware that religions cross some lines on this topic of transcendence. The idea of Allah is totally transcendent in Islam. The idea of pagan gods is mostly immanent (like all the gods of the Egyptians when Moses lived there: dogs, frogs, river…notice, all things of this earth.) Only the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is totally transcendent and totally immanent, hence the name God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I recently got back from Mother Teresa’s home for the dying in Kolkata, India. Next to this home, there is an enormous temple to the goddess Kali, who is the goddess of destruction. Hindus worship the idols that are made of the things of this earth. In fact, even though I didn’t go into the temple, I walked a mile-long street in front of the temple to find full tens of thousands of idols and flowers to purchase and subsequently worship.

However, in the ancient near East, it was “a first” for a Mesopotamian to hear of a God who transcended even the notion of having a name. Yes, this is our God: I AM WHO AM. Thus, not having a name, is one reason why Adonai is transcendent. No one could control Him. No one could manipulate Him. Unlike a legion of pagan goddesses, Yahweh is one in Being. The many pagan gods (and more often, goddesses) were usually earth-based, not heaven-based. In the Bible, St. Stephen quotes the prophet Isaiah to the high priest before his martyrdom. Notice how he highlights God’s transcendence:

“Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.”—Acts 7:48
Why was there a male-only priesthood in the Old Testament? Many critics of Western religion claim that this was because of the misogynistic tendencies of Judaism. However, this is easily disproved by a cursory glance at Greco-Roman culture, which had both unspeakable violations against women and female priestesses. Judaism is different on both accounts. Dr. Brandt Pitre gives us a clue why God revealed himself as father, not as mother: He was to be experienced as totally transcendent so that He would not be conflated with the gods (demons) of this earth, especially those of the ancient near East.

The Incarnation of Christ then brings new beauty and a surprising immanence to God’s other-worldliness and majesty: God, who is beyond us in holiness, comes into our mess, to take our sin. The groom comes for His beloved! Christ comes to die for His Church on earth. But lest we fall into presumption, we had to recognize His Majesty first, hence we have the Old Testament being revealed before the New Testament.

There is something true about the term “Mother Earth” or sailors who refer to the ocean as a “she.” Most cultures understand that “she” is immanent, here-and-now. Have you ever heard our planet referred to as “Father Earth”? Of course not. Every culture I have ever read about uses the term “Mother Earth.” I don’t know why this is, but I’ll give it a shot: It’s because deep in every human’s heart we know that Earth is life-giving, relationship-based, like a woman. “Woman is the archetype of humanity,” wrote St. John Paul II. Why? Because God creates us and pursues us.

God is transcendent and beyond. The primacy of self-donation relies first upon God. We never asked to be created. Not men. Not women. He first loved us. No one thought to invite the second person of the Trinity to earth to save us. Not men. Not women. Woman therefore is the archetype of the Church, for we all stand in reception mode before God, albeit in a non-sexual way. Still, the sexual act is a dim reflection of this reality: Man gives in order to receive and woman receives in order to give. The Church remains feminine in a state of reception, for only Jesus can give the Eucharist through his priests. (On a personal note, I believe that is why I am so turned-off by women distributing the body of Christ. It is not because women are less holy. Rather, if a theology of the body has anything to do with the Mass, the notion of female EMHCs promotes the same reality spiritually that transvestitism promotes physically: Living outside the roles of the primacy of the gift of the body. That sounds polemical, but only if gender matters neither for marriage nor for the liturgy. The one thing you can’t do is disapprove of same-sex marriage and then claim that the above paragraph is extreme.)
Even the male anatomy points beyond, like the straight lines of the Liturgy of Old. It is transcendent, beyond itself, gazing to the heavens…not gazing in the eyes of parishioners with a goofy smile. Circles, on the other hand, represent the uterus, the immanent gift of a woman to form children and maintain children within her—within her physically for nine months, and within her heart spiritually for decade after decade after decade. Men know this love spans continents. This is why most dying soldiers in the jungle of a foreign country clamor in their stupor for their mother. The dying men need to be back in the immanent arms of mercy, of compassion. Sometimes, the very body that once gave life has the capacity to bring something back to life by simple nurturing and love. This is why these men cry (rightly! usually but not always!) for their Mom, not their Dad.

Most Americans now believe in the reality of the above paragraph, even if they don’t like stereotyping. But I would argue that this is why the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is so important right now. Barring abortion and contraception, the West understands the role of mother and immanence. However we have lost the notion of the transcendent—the reality of God as Father. This goes beyond the fact that the Latin Mass doesn’t have hyper-immanent music like “Let us build the city of God.” (Yes, God, perhaps we could use Your help in building Your city.) Rather, the Latin Mass is all about God. Consider which direction the priest faces, and the volume of his voice. The little sinful priest is in the presence of a formidable Majesty of infinite holiness. We have to ask: How did Moses speak on Mt. Sinai? What if Moses had turned His back on God—even if it were to try to win the people to God for good reasons? What fool would turn his back on the lightning, thunder, trumpets and smoke? Both in Old and New Testament, the priest is making propitiation to God; he is speaking to God; God is transcendent in a way that is far beyond the little priest. This is why the Latin Mass is anything but clericalistic.

The priest speaks on behalf of the community, but he is not speaking to the community in an immanent, relationship-based way (except for the homily which is considered a pause of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to traditional Catholic teaching.) Why? Because in the sacrifice itself, the priest (both Hebrew and Catholic) is making sacrifice for the community, and the community’s opinion of him is irrelevant. In the Old Testament, the priest is there to “sanctify for the purification of the flesh” and the New Testament priest goes beyond this to “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:13, 14)
I don’t know what Dr. Pitre thinks of the Latin Mass, but now that we understand transcendent and immanent, male and female (from the Scriptures) I want to bring this theology and anthropology to the Liturgy itself and give four reasons why the Extraordinary Form of the Mass wonderfully maintains the masculine transcendent in a unifying way:

1) The quiet voice of the priest reminds the people that God is beyond them. “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak, eyes, but do not see.”—Psalm 115

2) The Traditional Latin Mass, where everyone faces the same direction, is a reminder that moral doctrine is not determined by looking within the community but outwards to Divine Revelation. Usually the sermon at the TLM conveys this reality too, but not always.

3) The priest is a father, and it is he who is given the gift by God to launch his family transcendently into the world by strengthening them with the Holy Eucharist. Dr. Brandt Pitre quotes a stunning secular statistic: Children will imitate their mother’s religious habits from age 1-13 but they will imitate their father’s religious habits from age 14 to death. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was upwards of 80% or 90%. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass respects this in having no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (most of whom are women in the Ordinary Form, statistically speaking.) Ite Missa Est is translated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen as: “Go. The sacrifice has been sent to God.” Do you notice how masculine and transcendent that is? Of course, this is no truer in Latin than it is in English. That’s not the point of departure. The rub is this: Who gave you Holy Communion is going to be spiritually linked to your transcendent launch (a father’s role) into a hostile world. Of course, the Eucharist is still the strengthening body of Christ regardless of the hands of the distributor. But look at the very vocabulary of the previous sentence. This is why within Byzantine Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, the role of the priest as sole-distributor of Holy Communion is not only psychological, but essential to respecting the sacrifice and even the ordering of the angels. Why? Because the order of the angels—all of whom are present at Divine Liturgy in varying ranks—is ontologically reflected in the role of the male and female genders within this supreme act of worship. The priest functions as Christ; the deacon symbolizes an angel; the head-covered-woman symbolizes Mary (or even the wholeness of the Church.) For the Eastern Fathers, few crimes could compare with disrupting this order of worship and the distribution of the Sacred Mysteries. Folks, few off Athos are fighting over the Filioque anymore! I firmly believe that ecumenism with the East will fail until we fix our own liturgy.

4) The externals of the Traditional Latin Mass highlight the fact that the Mass is a sacrifice before it is a meal. Venerable Fulton Sheen pointed out how grotesque it would be if the Old Testament sacrifice animal were first eaten before it was sacrificed. So also, the Catholics who clamor for a Eucharistic meal but refuse to live sacrifice become “parasites on the Body of Christ,” according to Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

The transcendence of a sacrifice belongs to a male priesthood, called to go outside of his family, for the primacy of self-donation relies upon the man to make atonement before a God of infinite love and infinite holiness. The form of the Mass offered will naturally reflect the type of priest that you get, and vice versa. A priest who has formed himself to be an entertainer for Christ’s people will still be an entertainer, even with purified intentions of the salvation of souls. But a priest who sees his role as both self-immolating victim and sacrifice-confector will live in that way—joyful that He stands with Christ—but awesomely aware of eternal consequences.
We’re in a crisis of being unable to accept a quiet, transcendent priest who will not change doctrine. Not unlinked, we’re afraid of the silence and majesty of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. People understand that we have to be kind and talkative (immanent) but they do not understand that Divine Revelation and worship must touch upon the transcendent. As Dr. Pitre said, the most masculine thing ever said was: “This is my body given up for you.” The most feminine thing ever said was “Be it done unto me according to your will.” This is the life of Christ and His Church. The Son of God first lived in His Triune glory beyond us, and then (and only then) can we name it as a beautiful surprise that His Majesty would choose to be immanently Emmanuel, God-With-Us.