The next, and likely even more aggressive, wave of persecution

Bishop Morlino says:

It is unclear exactly what the Supreme Court decisions will legally mean in our country. The fact remains that marriage means something, and this something is from God and cannot be changed by us, our laws, or by our courts. The truth of marriage is an absolute, with which we have no right to meddle. It is very clear what the Church’s response will be. We will tirelessly continue to promote the truth about marriage (and about all other matters) until the end of time. We have an obligation, in charity to the entire world, to do so. May God bless all people of good will who stand with us.

His statement is calm. We should be peaceful and charitable. But there is little doubt that the phenomenon of the moral heresy that homosexual behavior is good or neutral, is mushrooming. The likelihood is that the Church will be more and more besieged for belief in chastity and in God’s plan for married family life. The promotion of homosexuality also has the purpose of destroying people’s understanding of marriage as being for procreation, or having a positive value for the common good. The powerful motivating belief is really that controlling births is a key necessity for “systemic change” tackling critical problems of poverty and of the environment. Their war is on fecundity primarily, and on chastity secondarily and from a perspective of profound cynicism. Christian hope and real virtue is a light for a world in darkness.


Take up your cross. What we offer the world, our message and the reality of that message lived out, is very good. We will be opposed. The moral truth does not need to be, and cannot be, adapted to demands of the world, but we need to be willing to suffer to bear witness to its truth and goodness, and its beauty. In this is great charity.

Rosary Rally kicks off the Fortnight for Freedom!

Fr Rick DSCN4427_editedWe had a very beautiful evening for our Rosary with Bishop Morlino. Be with us every Thursday evening at 7pm on the State Street Steps of the Capitol for this weekly event! Bishop Morlino gave an inspiring talk after we prayed, scroll down to the bottom of this post and click the player to hear him (good job Cathedral Parish and Tom Reitz for making this embeddable)!

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MyConfessor: Father Rick’s app of Divine Mercy


Father Rick Heilman, whose 25th ordination anniversary party I just shared pictures of, is in the national media, including the New York Daily News and Fox News, with his initiative of 24/7 Confession. He’s installed a confessional (that links to Fr Z’s post about this with photos) just off the vestibule of his rectory at St Mary Pine of Bluff Parish (Google Map), across the hall from a private chapel with the Blessed Sacrament. There’s a smartphone app to find out when he’s available. His status can also be viewed online, at–he’s in right now, as I write this! Fox News says:

Got a hankering to repent? There will soon be an “app” for that.

A Roman Catholic prelate from Wisconsin will become the first priest to log on to a soon-to-debut smart-phone application that seemingly renders the good ole’ fashioned church bulletin as outmoded as medieval indulgences, the New York Daily News reports.

According to the paper, the so-called My Confessor App will allow the faithful to keep up digitally with when their local priest is hearing confession, or the sacrament wherein Catholics recount sins to a “confessor” who , in turn, doles out penance, usually in the form of prayers.

“I want people to not feel uncomfortable asking about confession,” the Rev. Richard Heilman told the paper. “We want everybody ignited in the Holy Spirit.”

A prelate!

Fr Rick is also the organizer of the weekly Capitol Rosary Rallies, about to start up again. Bishop Morlino joins us this Thursday June 20 at 7pm on the State Street steps of the WI State Capitol, for a vigil kickoff of the Fortnight for Freedom.

[update: the story about Fr Rick’s MyConfessor app has been picked up also by Business Standard, and even gone international, appearing in news sites including The Times of India, Greek Herald, and Irish Central the latter which is even encouraging people to donate to the effort via the Knights of Divine Mercy.]

The St Mary of Pine Bluff rectory, viewed from near the church. To go to confession, enter at the front, to the right side of this picture.

The St Mary of Pine Bluff rectory, viewed from near the church. To go to confession, enter at the front, to the right side of this picture.

Towards a sacred continuity

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Fr Z at Holy Redeemer Church, Septuagesima Sunday this year, “pre-Lent”

On Wednesday, at the annual meeting of the Tridentine Mass Society of Madison, I was elected to the organization’s board, together with youthful local blogger Ben Yanke, who just secured an internship with New Liturgical Movement blog, and Father John Zuhlsdorf, who is TMSM president, having been nominated for such by Bishop Morlino. Ben pointed out it’s “the blogger board.” It’s also definitely the Pope Benedict XVI “hermeneutic of continuity” board.

There are many opinions about the older form of the Mass. Recently a Cardinal from Germany, not a fan of the old Mass, said, “I have the impression that the whole enthusiasm for the Latin has a lot to do with prestige and the false pretenses of a supposed cultural elite.”

I wonder if that’s why Vatican II said “[p]articular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites,” and that “…steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them,” and of course prestige and elitism is surely the most reasonable explanation for why Vatican II says that “[t]he Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as proper to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium)

There is a rightness to the old Mass, “the extraordinary form,” that refreshes and renews the soul; we step out of the vernacular and mundane to encounter God; it can be like a retreat. I love Novus Ordo Mass, “the ordinary form,” in Latin too. With the old Mass you have the Gregorian chant intact in the traditional calendar, and this also I fell in love with, through my experience with the Schola Cantorum, the Gregorian chant choir. Vatican II calls that musical heritage a “treasure of inestimable value.” I love the prayers at the foot of the altar. I don’t know about you, but I do need to be sprinkled with holy water, and I do need the triple non sum dignus.

I just turned 35. Did I even know, while I was growing up Catholic, that we believe that Jesus is truly bodily present in the Eucharist, and the Mass is truly the re-presentation of His one saving sacrifice at Calvary? Probably not, which was a result of changes in the Mass and the altered understanding many people had about the Mass. In actuality what the Mass is, didn’t change a bit. But there was just a great loss in understanding, in belief, in reverence, and as a result, people could no longer see why they needed to come to Mass, much less why they needed to go to Confession. Today the old Mass is helping restore continuity in the Church, dignity, reverence and timeless beauty in worship, helping us to remember what the Mass actually is, a sacrifice, and recover our sense of awe and mystery, and that it is centered on God and not on the priest or the congregation, and that in the the Mass the priest addresses primarily God, rather than the congregation.

I suppose if you think of Holy Mass as religious entertainment rather than worship, and as something that we decided on the form of rather than something given to us, handed on to us, and you have amnesia about the reasons Pope John XXIII gave immediately before Vatican II about why it matters to use Latin, it might seem like the old Mass is a most pretentious form of religious entertainment. There is no TV show, no broadway performance or movie that is narrated in Latin (okay, The Passion of the Christ–a film I have not seen and do not care to see, but which is, of course, a traditionalist-Catholic-made film showing graphically the one sacrifice of Christ that is precisely the sacrifice of Christ on the altar at Mass).

It seems to me that that’s the point, really: the freedom of the Holy Mass from mundane and secular associations that go along with the vernacular, secular musical forms, etc. It is different from any form of entertainment. As we enter into praying the Mass, this helps our freedom to center on God and to worship. This is true even if we don’t know Latin, though a translation is valuable, it is good to have our hand missal. If we’re properly catechized, we know what the Mass is, entering into it with profound humility and contrition, and offering our whole self, all that we have, our sufferings and joys, at the offertory, and are praying profoundly, with our whole self, our whole life, what the Mass is.

Faithful Catholics! Don’t abandon Catholic charity organizations!

Capitol Square. February.

A woman. Made in God’s own image. Capitol Square. February this year. It’s raining. I didn’t do anything but take a picture as I hurried by on my way to Mass, and prayed for her. The point is that the children of God are suffering in every way you can think of, and some ways you haven’t thought of, and if we don’t help, it’s Jesus we failed to help.

The precious thing about Catholic charitable service, the thing that makes it something truly more than otherwise-similar service by others who feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless, is loving the whole person, body and soul. Other people do good things; often they do more than us or do it better. There is a fullness of Charity that comes only through the Catholic Church–just as (and absolutely inseparable from) the fullness of Truth comes uniquely through the Church. The Church’s ministry to people’s bodily needs cannot legitimately be set against her ministry to people’s spiritual needs, even though sometimes, often, usually, we’re doing corporal works of mercy without actually speaking of the mysteries of Salvation.

It’s not that there’s a kind of Catholicism that cares about the poor, and a separate kind that cares about doctrine and morals, and some people are one type, and others are the other type, as if Charity-Catholics and Truth-Catholics were different parties with opposing interests, wrangling for “political” power. No, we need Caritas in Veritate, and Veritas in Caritate. Contemplative prayer contemplates God as Charity, and as Truth. These are not separate gods. Anyone who wants to save my body but is indifferent about saving my soul even though they know I have an immortal soul, hates me, in a way, and anyone who wants that my soul should be saved but is indifferent about my body and my natural life, hates me.

I have tried to advocate both to local and to national leaders of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, as well as within my own parish conference, that the Society should be publicly opposed to the HHS contraceptive and abortifacient mandate, and stand up for our religious freedom in other ways too. I’m not the only one who thinks this kind of thing matters; in December 2012 Pope Benedict XVI released an Apostolic Letter motu proprio ““On the Service of Charity”, that canonically mandates Catholic charity groups to take care about these things, to educate their staff in Catholic teaching, etc. They shouldn’t need a rule to tell them to do what is morally right and consistent with our Faith, but now they have such a rule.

My efforts were not very appreciated and have not had any observable effect, except that in my own conference (Cathedral Parish) the other young adults seem to agree the Society ought to be clearly opposed to the HHS mandate. Have Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts had any observable effect? Well, I hope so, but I haven’t noticed any, and there hasn’t been any communication from the Society mentioning “On the Service of Charity”. I did try to inquire about this locally a little while after Pope Benedict’s letter was released, and found out that the national higher-ups in the Society were actually discussing it, but mainly from the perspective of “how far down the line does it go?” in other words, perhaps charity organizations directly under the diocese are obliged to adhere to these principles/rules, but the Society of St Vincent de Paul might be able to get out of it?

After all, people like the Society of St Vincent de Paul–every year we get voted “Madison’s Favorite Thrift Store” in the Isthmus Magazine poll that includes “Favorite Sex Shop” and “Favorite Gay Bar” and a zillion alcohol related categories. People might not like us if we asked and catechized employees to live a Christian kind of life in keeping with good morals, and if the Society publicly registered disagreement with Obamacare’s contraceptive and abortifacient mandate. The former is deemed unthinkable on the grounds that we must not “judge others”, and the latter is deemed unthinkable on the grounds that the poor deserve health care, so we should not find fault with the legislation that proposes to do that.

I have been connected with the Society of St Vincent de Paul for long enough to know of a variety of things that cry out for “On the Service of Charity” to be applied. I just emailed the local Director of the Society today about another one. I told him also that I recently tried to interest some friends, leading members of the local Catholic community actually, to get involved in the Society, only to run up against the increasing sad phenomenon of Catholics who do believe as the Church teaches, not wanting anything to do with the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

One said (this was on facebook, so the quotes are direct): “I ended my involvement in my parish’s monthly meal program help when I found it to be a time of ragging on our wonderful Bishop Morlino. After two times of defending him, once verbally, and once by not participating in the rant session, I left the group.”

Another said: “I say this not to criticize or demean any of the local SVDP efforts, but I sort of decided I had little interest in the organization when they endorsed Obamacare…. With a limited number of hours and dollars I simply lack the ability to try to reform institutions that are subversive. I think that is why so many of the best apostolates are new.” He cited Our Lady of Hope Clinic, which is indeed a fantastic thing.

But I want to make a plea for faithful Madison Catholics to get involved with your local parish Conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Here are some of the reasons why, that come to my mind:

  1. There are people in need in our community, and their good and ours can be served by our participation in the Society’s primary mission of direct service to the poor. Although not everyone has to join SVDP, if we refuse to serve Jesus in the person of the poor, we will go to hell. To put that another way, in loving the poor we love Jesus Himself; it is a great privilege and source of joy.
  2. The SVDP National Assembly is going to be held in Madison this September, presenting a unique opportunity for faithful Madison Catholics to bring to national leaders a message in favor of Pope Benedict’s “On the Service of Charity” and advocating standing up for our religious freedom.
  3. Monsignor Kevin Holmes is the Spiritual Advisor to the District Council. There are other good people involved. I deeply admire the Christian commitment of some of the longtime Vincentians I have gotten to know.
  4. It is scandalous and wrong if faithful Catholics truly withdraw en masse from engaging personally in Catholic-identified service to the poor. It sends a very bad message. It also increasingly abandons the Catholic charity organizations to those whose ideas about helping the poor are formed as much or more by the (pro-abortion-rights) political left, than by their Catholic Christian faith.
  5. It really is possible for your participation in the Society of St Vincent de Paul to be a part of a well-formed Catholic’s growth in holiness, part of your journey toward becoming a saint, your pilgrimage to heaven. At this time, in my considered opinion, problems in the Society are not of a kind that should make people avoid membership.

I’m going to pull out #2 and say the whole thing again for emphasis:

The SVDP National Assembly is going to be held in Madison this September, presenting a unique opportunity for faithful Madison Catholics to bring to national leaders a message in favor of Pope Benedict’s “On the Service of Charity” and advocating standing up for our religious freedom.

Please, join me in participating actively in the local SVDP Society and calling for a high standard of Catholic fidelity and Catholic identity, as integral to our charity.

Detail from the Mother Teresa window in the Bishop O'Connor Center chapel

Detail from the Mother Teresa window in the Bishop O’Connor Center chapel

Father Rick Heilman 25th Ordination Anniversary

At Saint Mary of the Assumption Church, Pine Bluff (west of Madison, among the farm fields).

At Saint Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Pine Bluff (west of Madison, among the farm fields).

Fr Rick High Altar

Father Rick Heilman, offertory at the high altar on the occasion of his 25th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, at St Mary Pine Bluff Parish, June 9, 2013. This was a Novus Ordo Mass with very beautiful chant by Aristotle Esguerra and the Knights of Divine Mercy Schola.

A better picture of the high altar, right after Mass.

A better picture of the high altar, right after Mass.

Fr Rick 25th anniv party tent msgr Bartylla center

After Mass, a huge party! That’s Monsignor Bartylla in the middle on his cellphone.

Fr Rick 25th anniv party gym

There were more people in the gymnasium of the school building.

Fr Rick Steve Del table

Many lovely conversations were had. 🙂

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Fr Rick talks with a mom.

Fr Rick 25th anniv party Mexican dancers

There was a great Celtic band under the tent, but a highlight was a traditional Mexican dance troupe with a highly symbolic performance, here a wolf and a witch run toward a little boy in white who obviously stands for Jesus. The costumes were decorated with Christian imagery, above all Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mexican Dancers OLG Fr Rick

Fr Rick and others watch the Our Lady of Guadalupe dancers and the Christ child.

Football toss kids Grant

Seminarian Grant Thies and kids play football toss!

Girls drumming

Kids loved the Mexican dancers’ big drums, here a group of girls are making a great noise. 🙂

The Miracle of Life Rosary Garden, a very beautiful memorial garden on the church property, adjecent to the ordinary cemetery. It is a burial place for infants who died, including miscarried or aborted babies.

I took time to visit the Miracle of Life Rosary Garden, a very beautiful memorial garden for infants including those miscarried or aborted, adjacent to the ordinary cemetery at St Mary Pine Bluff.

Saint Michael the Archange, in the Miracle of Life garden.

Saint Michael the Archangel, in the Miracle of Life garden.

Our Lady and her fountain.

Our Lady and her fountain.

The babies' marker stones.

The babies’ marker stones. No one can avoid being deeply affected by this place.

[Update: over at the excellent Badger Catholic Blog, which you should read, Aristotle posted extensive Liturgical Notes about this Mass, and Steve Karlen posted his own pictures of the event.]

Sister Simone: good on immigration, but what does she believe about abortion?


My friend Jeanne who did a pro-life and religious freedom protest of the Nuns on the Bus stop in Janesville with me and then went with me to the formerly-Catholic Holy Wisdom Monastery where Sister Simone was scandalously giving a reflection at their Ash Wednesday service and headlining another event there, sent me a link to a National Catholic Register article from yesterday about a new tour they’re undertaking, that used my photo of the tour bus on the road, from last year on the way to Janesville. Yes, they’re back on the road again, this time for the topic of immigration reform.

I don’t have the slightest problem with a campaign in favor of immigration reform and amnesty for undocumented, but otherwise law-abiding people who here in our country. In fact, I have a problem with Catholics who grumble against the bishops’ concern for these immigrants. I’ve known hardworking and decent people who were in the country illegally, doing the kind of work most people didn’t want, usually in order to send money home to their impoverished family in Mexico. What these people who I knew were doing actually impresses me, and I cannot imagine not being on their side. I cannot imagine not being on the side of families who came here with young children who grow up here, but are nevertheless “illegals” in danger of deportation and without all the benefits of citizenship. It’s not right. Catholics must support amnesty for these people.

I made a point firmly that the food-stamp-cutting Paul Ryan budget that the “Nuns on the Bus” campaigned against last time is a matter of “prudential judgement”; one could be either for or against it as a Catholic (in fact, Sister Simone’s campaign motivated me to witness to the truth by voluntarily UNENROLLING from the too-generous $148/mo in food stamps I’d been getting. I have not remotely starved.). Amnesty is not a prudential matter, I feel this is something Catholics must support (that it is a less grave matter than halting abortion is not an excuse for not supporting it), and I think that is what the bishops are saying too.

But Sister Simone and NETWORK do not get a pass from me for allying again with the pro-abortion-rights, pro-“gay marriage”, anti-religious-freedom George Soros funded political group Faith in Public Life, which is again supplying the services of their staffer Casey Schoeneberger as media liaison. For that matter Casey, who is a Catholic, should not be working for such a group, which is in no way compatible with commitment to the Catholic faith. It was Laetificat Blog that helped make her presence on the tour public knowledge.

So what about Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton, NJ appearing at a Nuns on the Bus “friendraiser” event in his diocese? Well, I might not have suggested to him to do that, but on the other hand I am entirely in favor of helping Sister Simone and NETWORK Lobby to aspire to be in sync with the bishops and to be deserving of their support. So, I don’t care to give him any flak for it.


At the Nuns on the Bus stop in Janesville, Sister Simone had a little press conference (above) and I yelled a question that I know she and everyone heard perfectly clearly, asking what she meant when she’d said that she feels like she would get a rash if she described her social justice work as being pro-life. She didn’t respond. When I asked her more directly whether she supported the US Bishops’ Fortnight For Freedom which was then underway, she said “it’s complicated,” and when I asked if she supported the HHS contraceptive and abortifacient mandate, she said “it’s complicated,” and in fact Casey Schoeneberger was also responding to me and trying to cover for Sr Simone.

The NC Register article concludes with this:

Pro-Life Witness?

Along with supporters, the tour has run into protesters, Sister Simone said. In one town, she said, “There was a persistent group of four who described themselves as tea party people, who were upset that we were trying to change laws. Part of that group also was upset that we were doing immigration and not abortion. The part that broke my heart was, much as I talked to them, they couldn’t see that this is a pro-life, pro-family issue.”

Asked whether “Nuns on the Bus” would take up an issue like abortion in the future, Sister Simone said, “We’re pro-life, so it’s possible. The thing is, at Network, our issues have been economic-justice issues and not gender-sexual issues, but if there is an opportunity, we’re pro-life, so I’m not saying No.”

Okay, Sister, I’m not unfriendly to the idea that immigration is also “pro-life and pro-family.” But if you’re opposed to the legal right to abortion, we look forward to seeing and supporting your bus tour for that, and your “friendraiser” with Father Frank Pavone. I assure you I and others would support that: I told you at Holy Wisdom Monastery that we love you; you smiled and thanked me. But so far you’ve made no statements at all that would suggest you’re a supporter of a right to life from conception to natural death, and have appeared not to believe in that, since you supported Obamacare with the HHS contraceptive and abortifacient mandate intact, and even when I asked you about it directly you would not say the mandate was wrong. Who can believe you’re pro-life in regards to abortion when you do not evince that either in words or actions?

“We’re pro-life, so I’m not saying No” is not yet a statement of personal endorsement of the natural moral law or Catholic teaching. But I haven’t despaired yet, so don’t disappoint me, Sister.

Women are invited to study St Teresa’s The Interior Castle, at Holy Redeemer Church

Left, Saint Teresa of Avila, with The Interior Castle (16th c, counter-Reformation Spain). Right, Saint Therese of Lisiux, author of Story of a Soul (late 18th c France).

Left, Saint Teresa of Avila, whose heart was mystically pierced with a fiery arrow of divine love, author The Interior Castle (16th c, counter-Reformation Spain). Right, Saint Therese of Lisiux, “The Little Flower,” author of Story of a Soul (late 19th c France). Found at this link.

God loves you! That’s the main idea of the study women will be making together, of Saint Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, a great classic book on growth in virtue and in prayer.  This will be in the library at Holy Redeemer Church (Cathedral Parish) Monday evenings starting June 9 10th. Some will want to attend 5:15 Mass just before, and for convenience and socialization we are having a period of snacks (provided) or bring-your-own-dinner from 6-6:30, then put the food away and study from 6:30-7:30. This will be 8 sessions, running through the end of July. Questions? Leave a comment, or contact me via the “contact” form on my blog which sends me an email, or email me elizabethdurack at gmail dot com .

The book we will use is Volume II of the ICS Publications edition of the Works of Saint Teresa, which is the best translation today, and includes The Way of Perfection and the “Commentary on the Our Father”, in addition to The Interior Castle. I will have it available for $15, and a limited number of copies will be available free to poor women. This will be supplemented by insights from St John of the Cross and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (did you know The Three Ages of The Interior Life was translated into English by a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa? I’d say that is one of their great contributions to the Church). Reading between sessions is strongly encouraged but not obligatory–I want this opportunity to be accessible even to those who don’t have a lot of time, or don’t find it easy to understand the book.


This will dovetail perfectly with the parish pilgrimage to the beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, Holy Hill, which is run by Discalced Carmelite Friars, at the end of June–for which you can obtain a special Year of Faith plenary indulgence. The Holy Hill website is here.

The goal of our book study is to benefit from the very best and most authentic Catholic teaching on growth in the spiritual life, including what we do (ascetical) and what God does (mystical), so we can know friendship with Jesus and intimacy with God, and become holy.