Rident Stolidi Verba Latina

I’m not a “Latin or Bust” Catholic. but I do admit a certain fondness for Latin left over from my days as an idealist who studied the language in high school and college in order to become like the old-fashioned scholars I admired. (I drew the line at Greek — so much for my ideals.) But I am outside the walls of the fierce, at least in some circles, fight over whether the old mass in Latin, the new mass in Latin, or the new mass in English is the best for all mankind.

In an effort to explore just what is the big deal about Latin mass, I went to St. Cecilia’s in Oakley Friday, where Fr. Earl Fernandez is celebrating the new mass (that’s “novus ordo,” for us Latin fans) every other Friday morning as an experiment. I offer my impressions to you, gentle readers, as a public service:

1) It is definitely more reverent. With (male) acolytes in cassocks and lace-trimmed albs, no extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, two priests, at least half of it sung, and all the music chanted, the mass was beautiful and centered on the Eucharist. It was restful not to cringe at music choices or at the apparel (or lack of such) of laypeople crowded around the altar. It was less about “the assembly” and more about the mass itself.

2) It is not hard to chant. Before mass started, Fr. Fernandez helpfully went over the chants (except the “Salve Regina,” which was chanted after the mass and which your correspondent could not even find in the missal). Only the Our Father (“Pater Noster”) gave me much trouble. Being longer and complicated, it probably takes a few times to master. Chanting prayers is not a brain drainer and is not beyond the abilities of the average person.

3) It is not all that hard to respond in Latin. The prayers and responses that are not sung are a little harder than the chants, because it’s harder to read quickly in another language than it is to sing. But not beyond mastery.

4) I didn’t understand a word. Having left the house without my handy-dandy book of the mass in six languages, I was forced to rely on the little handout for the responses and for understanding the Eucharistic prayers. Studying Latin decades ago does not, I discovered, help much when you hear it sung or said very quickly. I was hoping to pick out some words here and there to figure out where we were (after all, I can practically recite the mass myself in English having heard it so many times) but it was the printed translation that saved me. Having the complete text, which St. Cecilia plans to do in the future, and then hearing it frequently would change that.

In all, I found that attending the mass at St. Cecilia helped me to appreciate both the Latin and the English versions. The N.O. mass in Latin emphasized reverence, the liturgy, and the Eucharist. Much of what I find lacking (or too abundant) at masses in English was not even an issue. Listening to the Latin, even though I didn’t understand it by ear, was not dull or like listening to nonsense syllables. On the other hand, I discovered that I pay more attention than I knew to which prayers in the liturgy change every week or every day, and which of the Eucharistic prayers are being said. The immediacy of hearing and understanding my own language is a dear and valuable thing.

Most of all, I saw clearly the need for a common liturgy. The Tridentine mass (that’s the one used before Vatican II, for those still learning all this) is beautiful and reverent but is very different from the N.O. mass. At St. Cecilia’s, even though the language was different, I felt a real connection to the same mass being offered at altars all over the world, all the time. What was different about this N.O. mass in Latin were its “accidents,” to borrow a Thomist term. In essence it was the same. Any resistance to offering the N.O. mass in Latin seems to me to be misplaced. Surely offering the same mass in two different guises is an acceptable way to accommodate many different people. I understand the reluctance pastors have to start dividing their parishes up into passionate devotees of this type of mass or that type of mass — and never the twain shall meet. But what many parishes have is a compromise that satisfies no one, and a flashpoint for people who prefer tradition and reverence to complain about, often with good reason.

They’re the same mass, folks. I can hear people say, “Well, if they’re the same mass why bother with the Latin one?” To which I can only say, why NOT bother? Why deny a perfectly valid option to people, one that is beautiful and valuable, for the sake of conformity to an arbitrary standard? Getting rid of Latin was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It divides the church for no good reason.

I’ve been to a mariachi mass. Yes, all the music was really played by a mariachi band wearing big sombreros and costumes by the same folks who gave us “The Three Amigos.” If the Catholic Church has room for mariachi masses, it surely has room for the N.O. in Latin. I would like to thank Fr. Fernandez and St. Cecilia pastor Fr. Jamie Weber, for trying this experiment. I hope it is a successful one. As they say, “Fools laugh at the Latin language.” Rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated for centuries. May it continue a long and happy liturgical life for many years to come.


Hungry For God!

Last week I went without any food!

Was I starving myself?
Was I trying to loose weight, I mean, I lost 6 pounds?
Was I trying to save money?
Was I trying to be tough or show off?
Was I getting ready for surgery?

No, none of the above are reasons that I did not eat for one week. I was on a fast! This is the only reason that I did not eat any solid foods for five days then only one meal a day for two days. The reason I am telling you all this is because I feel more people need to fast.

I started reading about fasting in the scriptures more and more and I realized how many things the disciples in the early church fasted for. Then I start to read the lives of the Saints and I was able to see so much good and so many graces come from fasting. I started to yearn for those graces, my soul wanted more. It needed a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, I have a relationship with Him, but even in my great relationship with my wife or kids, I still want more time, love, understanding and knowledge of who they are. It was just the same with my God, I wanted more in my relationship with Christ, so I decided to give something up for Him and started fasting.

Sure I could give up TV or the computer, two things that probably would not be to bad to give up. But no, I know and you know that we can live perfectly fine without TV, computers, ipods and even cell phones. I am not saying it is not good to give up TV or even video games, but it was not enough. Plus, you don’t see the prophets of the Old Testament giving up their Dradle! No, they fasted from food. I wanted to fast from food because we all seem to think we cannot live without it, but Christ said, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'”-Matthew 4:4. He said this in his battle against Satan, during his 40 day fast before He started His ministry.

The reason I point this out is because so many of us have things we are going through whether it be a rough spot in our marriage, an indifference in our families, a porn addiction or some other type of addiction, job trouble or maybe no job at all, someone sick in our family or group of friends or maybe even death. We are all suffering, some great and some small, but we are all inflicted with evil. This is why we need to fast to deepen our relationship with Christ, to receive and understand the graces we have received from God, to discern, and to become holy.

I was fasting for direction and understanding, so that I may be a better husband, a better father and a better son of God. Not that I was a bad husband, father or son of God. It is just that I think you would all agree we could all do a little better, or sometimes a lot better. So I encourage you to join with me in some type of food fast. There are many types and you do not give up all solids in all of them, I am just an extreme person so sometimes I need to be extreme for God. For instance my wife gave up meat and cut back on snacks. Pray about it and then join me and millions of others who fast for whatever the may need to fast about.

To lean more about fasting, “Why and How?” you are welcome to join me tonight, Wednesday, at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center where I will be doing a talk on “Fasting and Prayer – God’s Plan for You” The information is below. Remember fasting can help you with whatever you are going through, it can even cure diseases and help you when you are lost or need the help that no one else can give.

Faith Unplugged Speakers Series
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center
5440 Moeller Ave
Norwood, Ohio

February 11, 2009 7:00pm
Topic is Fasting and Prayer God’s Plan for You

Get Organized: The Liturgical Garden Calendar

p80700111Since it is now over a month since the commencement of the secular new year, it is safe to say that if you haven’t used that hopefully beautiful parish calendar you picked up with the bulletin late last year, you’re not going to…

That is, unless you utilize it for the amazing garden calender you’re going to make right after you read this.

See, a parish calendar is perfect for organizing all the information to make your garden a true victory this year, and not only because you’ll schedule when to sow and potentially harvest, but also because you’ll be able to line all those green thumb dates up with some important liturgical ones.

First, use the unseasonably warm weather we are currently experiencing in Cincinnati this week to go and scout around your yard for  your 2009 seed needs.  If possible, use graph paper to make a plan of your 2009 garden, especially if you are looking to expand it or experiment with some new fruits or vegetables.

Then, buy your 2009 seeds, as well as any materials you will need for starting seeds inside!  We got ours at a local hardware store here in Hartwell.

Then, schedule on the calendar when you will be:

  • starting your seeds inside
  • moving the prospective transplants to a sheltered area outside about a week before transplanting (in order to acclimatize them)
  • planting the seeds and the transplanted seedlings
  • expecting to harvest (this info is usually listed on the seed packet) the fruits and veggies of your labor
  • sowing some seedlings with more frequency, in order to extend the harvest

Some other important dates to note are:

St. Brigid of Ireland, I know your feast was last week, but this is too amazing for me to ignore…

Patroness of poultry raisers, pray for us!

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts.
I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family drinking it through all eternity.
– Saint Brigid

Feast day: February 1

Dressing Liturgically As a Substitute for Rolling in Fire


A color scheme such as this would be inappropriate Lenten-ware.

A color scheme such as this would be inappropriate Lenten attire.



As a Catholic Clothes Horse, I occasionally find it necessary to temper my affinities for wearable textiles with readings of The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, but that usually ends with a (rather uncomfortable) metaphorical roll in briars or fire.  While I cannot counter that the remedy isn’t typically good for the soul,  I’ve been able to develop, of late, a desire to seek some measures that are a bit more preventative.  Enter my very own version of Dressing Liturgically, which, while in the same vein as black on Good Friday and red on Pentecost, is even more simple.  

See, the whole purpose of the fashion industry is to entrap women, and yes, I am aware that this isn’t even approaching ground-breaking, especially as my husband seems to bring it up every time he unwittingly enters into a situation when he finds himself crossing over the threshold of The Gap – Matt’s own personal whore of Babylon… oh wait, that’s her more pious cousin… I meant that two-headed wench Abercrombie and Fitch and her sister Hollister…  Those two stores are literally so dark on the inside that your teenager can’t even tell the wash of the jeans they’re trying on.  But, I digress.  

Women on the whole can probably not defeat the wiles of the fashion industry, who wishes to win over all their cash money, along with their heads.  However, I believe that there are enough clever, Catholic women out there who can make pledges to dress more liturgically, and thus more seasonally, and score some saavy buys along the way.  My case in point:  the span of time from the day after Christmas through to the middle or end of January is when the bulk of the  resort season wear (notably differing from spring fashion, which is debuting now) is out on the market.  That means, that when the tens of thousands of Cincinnatians are getting ready to head to Cabo mid-winter, J.Crew is ready for us, right?  Sort of.  

See, J.Crew, and even Target have their scores of bathing suits and flip flops on the shelves, along with all the tissue-thin t-shirts with mid-winter beach resort-type sayings, but, quite simply, there are NOT tens of thousands of Cincinnatians who are in, or are preparing to head to, Cabo are this moment, but simply many, many women who A., are seasonally depressed (I hear ya), B., are trying to pretend to their friends that they are preparing to head to Cabo, C., are trying on those swimsuits in-between shoveling the driveway and sessions on the couch in a Snuggie, or D., some mixture of the aforementioned activities.  Come on, who has time, anyway, when they’re planning their Victory Gardens?  While I can relate (I did indeed buy a pair of quite preppy, pink, English Bulldog flip flops at J. Crew last January, and I cannot pledge that I wouldn’t do it again if put in a similar situation), I am willing to enter into Liturgical Wardrobe Recovery.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t entail cinctures or albs, but it does encourage moderation in all things (this is maybe a bit more pagan in its philosophy- think Epicurus – than the Fioretti would like, but nonetheless Catholic, although I don’t see an encyclical on the theme coming out any time soon).  

Here are the rules:

  • Never wear anything promoting a holiday, especially one that is Christian in origin, that has not occurred yet.  This includes Christmas Sweaters, a staple of Western pop culture that has some overlap with the ubiquitous Cosby Sweater – go ahead and wear all the way until the feast of the Baptism of our Lord, but don’t go jumping the gun and wearing them during Advent, or, God forbid, the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Advent – Integrate purple and bring in the pink for Gaudete.  Lay off the green and red!
  • Christmas – Just when everyone else is drycleaning the Christmas Sweaters for next year, pull ’em out!  They may think you’re late, but you and a group of 1.13 billion of your closest friends worldwide will have the satisfaction of knowing you’re right on time (just try not to be snide about it…).
  • Ordinary Time I – Stay strong!  Keep wearing your warm, winter clothes!  Don’t succumb to resort season (unless you are indeed in Cabo, in which case, email me if  you could maybe swing another ticket and some room and board for your new best friend…), or invest in anything clothing that would be impractical without the added investment of a heat lamp.  This is the perfect time for those florescent-colored sweaters and leggings that are reminiscent of fun in the sun, when the sun is just not ready for you yet.  When in times of temptation, crack open the Fioretti or check the current weather in your zipcode!
  • Lent – Even though we are preparing for Easter, a time most notable for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (and peripherally known for floral dresses, big hats, and fuzzy bunnies bearing candy, by the media), remember that it is still February and we are in a season of contrition and atonement.  Don’t even think about that peeps pink or chick yellow, linen-cotton cardigan.  Go to the Stations and remember the prayer power in the Sorrowful Mysteries.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to aim for an Edward Scissorhands look, but probably not having been to Cabo this past winter, you have the complexion to give it a go.  Gray, black, and dark purple look great on you.
  • Easter – Easter day is a good time to, in recalling the Savior’s resurrection and  our salvation from sin, pull out the white (ignore the Memorial Day to Labor Day hogwash, the new rule on white is Easter, through the Sundays after Pentecost, to Advent!), and pull out your gold accessories.  This is the biggest feast of the year!  If you must, go peeps pink and chick yellow.
  • Ordinary Time II:  The time of year when the most wardrobe scandal is committed in Western churches and city streets alike, go slow and careful when choosing wardrobe items to wear during this season.  If a female, be sure to allow at least three full days of agony attempting to seek out a bathing suit, and, if you have a teenage girl, just say no – you might even want to direct them to some  of the great Pentecostal Women’s bathing suit options.
  • If you buy clothing when it is actually temperature-appropriate to wear them, they are on sale because they have already been in stores for months by that time!   There is never any reason to buy full-price clothing.

How the Economic Downturn Is Making Me a Better Human (And In Turn a Better Catholic)


1. Getting back to the ground level with a Victory Garden – even with the “snow bomb” of Tuesday afternoon still blanketing the earth here in Cincinnati, I can proudly say that there are 60 jalapeno plants germinating in my living room, just waiting to be transplanted, tended, and made into salsa.

2. Staying in – while we’re called to preach the Gospel out in the world, there is something homely, in the best possible sense of the word, about a good Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers book and a glass of wine on a Friday night, not to mention roasted root vegetables over ziti.

3. Staying in at the homes of other people – bars are over-rated, home-cooked meals almost always taste better, and dishes aren’t so painful when everyone chips in.

4. DIY home detailing – why did I not think to wallpaper my breakfast room in a 1950s era book on France before this?

5.  Considering the ramifications of my consumption – www.bookmooch.com

6. Making tithing a bigger priority – because there are people with bigger issues than mine.

7.  Getting Snuggie.

8.  Getting serious about ways of forming authentic Christian community.

9.  Figuring out the city ordinances on keeping small, edible, animals

10. Listening to more of my husband’s (live) music, and buying less of the (however nicely) recorded stuff.


What have you been doing differently lately?  Do tell in the combox.

An Official Call for More Fish Fries

According to this morning’s Enquirer, the City of Cincinnati may soon call on residents to skip one meat meal a week.

Believe it or not, we have an official city Food Task Force — part of (again, believe it or not) our official Green Cincinnati “climate action plan.” Stay with me here. The food task force met for the first time last week, and its members are considering numerous recommendations about eating more fruits and vegetables. They say cutting down on the city’s meat consumption would reduce global warming, and they have great ideas for t-shirt slogans, including my personal favorite: “Cooling the Earth… With My Fork!”

Consider this my pre-order.

Anyway, once I stopped laughing, I realized the great potential this has for Cincinnati’s parishes. We’re all still supposed to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, which may come as news to those of us (perhaps most of us) who never heard that if you choose not to refrain from eating meat on Fridays, you are supposed to perform another small act of penance instead.

This is our opportunity to bring back the Friday fast, make some money for our parishes, AND be environmentally friendly! Far be it from me to tell Archibishop Pilarczyk what to do, but if I may make a suggestion, His Excellency might want to look into a joint press conference with Mayor Mallory. When the official recommendation does come out from the mayor, the Archbishop can suggest that all Catholics resume the Friday fast and all parishes put on perpetual Friday Fish Fries, which he can then invite all Cincinnatians to attend.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone, one that would ease many strained parish budgets. We could even sell t-shirts: “Cooling the Earth… One Fish Fry at a Time.”