Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester

Ordinariate Community in Washington, D.C.

September 16th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

From the National Catholic Register

By Charlotte Hays 9-12-2014


Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, celebrated Mass Sept. 7 at Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, D.C.
– Elza Daniel

WASHINGTON — A formerly Episcopal community that entered the Catholic Church in 2011 marked a historic moment in their journey to Rome when they gathered on Sept. 7 in downtown Washington for their first regularly scheduled Sunday Mass in the nation’s capital.

St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception — as the community will now be known — offered its first Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in downtown Washington after its move from its former home in a small, rented church in Bladensburg, Md.

St. Luke’s made headlines in 2011 when it became the first Episcopal church in the Washington, D.C., area and the second in the state of Maryland to come into the Catholic Church under the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Anglicanorum Coetibus. Anglicanorum Coetibus is an apostolic constitution that makes it possible for groups of Anglican congregations to enter the Catholic Church, while maintaining distinctive elements of their spiritual, pastoral, and liturgical patrimony.

The Vatican-approved Mass used by the St. Luke’s Community makes use of prayers from a number of Anglican and Episcopal sources, including the Anglican Books of Common Prayer from 1549 and 1662. The Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation… MORE

Read more:

Our own Roman Catholic Ordinariate Community here in Rochester (Henrietta) is the Fellowship of Saint Alban which offers the Anglican Use Mass every Sunday at 12:30 P.M. in the Church of the Good Shepherd, 3318 E Henrietta Rd, Henrietta. The Ordinariate Roman Catholic Mass fulfills your Sunday obligation.

The website for St. Alban is

The Mass at Saint Alban is celebrated “ad orientum”. The website for St. Alban is

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Father McAlear Returns!

September 15th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull
Fr. Richard McAlear speaking at the Charismatic Conference in Steubenville

Fr. Richard McAlear speaking at the Charismatic Conference in Steubenville

Those who have long been praying for Father Mac’s health and strength to return will especially rejoice in his return to Rochester and Buffalo next month.  It has been several years since we’ve seen him, and had the opportunity to experience the healing gifts which flow through him from God.   Welcome back, Father Mac!

To learn more, visit and click on the video.  It is well worth the half hour listening, even if you are NOT going to see him locally.  Anyone who takes the words “New Evangelization” with any seriousness should hear these words, and take them to heart.

Shown below are excerpts from the letter received from his local ministry, which facilitates these visits.  No teaching day is shown this year, which is understandable given all the very serious health challenges Fr. Mac has had the past few years.

But the most important element of his ministry will be present — celebration of the Mass, Exposure of the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration, Fr. Mac’s sermon/homily, available confessions, and hands-on healing.  We all need healing, but if you know people who especially need physical healing, please put this date on their calendars asap, and help them to come if they need assistance.   Surely, that will be both a spiritual and a corporal work of mercy!  For the sake of those who follow Cleansing Fire from other areas of the country, Fr. Mac’s expanded calendar is also shown below.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Fr. McAlear and his Ministry of Hope & Healing is coming to the Buffalo —Rochester area in October 2014.
Fr. Mac's upcoming calendar.

Fr. Mac’s upcoming calendar.

Fr. McAlear is much in demand all over the world for his gifts of teaching and the healing love of Jesus Christ that flows through him. Please come and bring a friend.
We will have Fr. McAlear’s books, cd’s and dvd’s all available  at the Rochester event.
Please check out his web site for complete information on his schedule, prayer requests at .
Fri., October 10 at 7 pm St. Pius X Church
3000 Chili Avenue
Rochester, NY 14624
(585) 436-4433
Contact: Karen
Wed., October 8 at 7 pm St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy
325 Walden Ave @ Miller St.
Buffalo, NY 14211
(716) 894-4476

Happy Birthday, Bishop Matano!

September 15th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

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Happy Birthday

Bishop Matano





Church Architecture Styles: Byzantine

September 11th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

The architectural form of the dome and centrally oriented ground plan became major characteristics of the Byzantine style. Constantine had moved his capital from Rome to the fairly small city of Byzantium1 in the eastern half of the empire in 324 where he had churches built according to the traditional Roman basilica style. But, one, the Church of the Holy Apostles, was constructed with two basilicas or halls (without side aisles) crossing each other forming a Greek cross layout. In addition, domes are thought to have covered the crossing space and the four arms of the cross. Constantine actually intended the structure to be his mausoleum and had his tomb positioned under the center dome. The altar was, presumably,  in the apse. The Church of the Holy Apostles was much celebrated and copied throughout the Roman Empire but most especially in the eastern provinces.

Greek Cross Plan possibly used in Constantine's "Church of the Holy Apostles" in Constantinople, 4th century

Fig. 1 – Greek Cross Plan with domes possibly used in Constantine’s “Church of the Holy Apostles” in Constantinople, 4th century. The horizontal arms are called ‘transepts’.

High domes over the center of the naves of churches interrupt the horizontal movement to the altar in the traditional basilica and introduce a vertical element. The dome began to symbolize heaven and the ground level, earth. Imagery in the dome and on the walls reflected this hierarchical order.

"Church of the Holy Wisdom" ("Hagia Sophia"), built by the Emperor Justinian I, 6th century.

Fig. 2 -”Church of the Holy Wisdom” (“Hagia Sophia”), built by the Emperor Justinian I, 6th century. Justinian’s ambitious building campaign of dome covered cross planned churches signaled the start of the ‘Byzantine” style.


Fig. 3 -The high placed domes over the center of the nave in Byzantine style churches introduces a strong vertical element. At the top of the dome is an image of God the Almighty Ruler of the Universe looking down from heaven. Saints occupy the intermediate zones between the highest heavens and earth, the floor level of the building, because they intercede between heaven and earth.

Basic ground plan of a Byzantine style church. This building employs only one dome. Altars continued to be placed at the chord of the apse. Clergy continued to sit along the curved wall of the apse.

Fig. 4 -Basic ground plan of a Byzantine style church. This building employs only one dome. Altars continued to be placed at the chord of the apse. Clergy continued to sit along the curved wall of the apse.

There are several variations of the centrally planned Byzantine style, the most common being the ‘cross in square’ plan.

Cross in square plane. The arms of the cross are raised higher that the corners of the square and the dome, higher yet. The dome would be sitting on a cylindrical 'drum' to raised it higher. The drum served as a clerestory, punctured with windows.

Fig. 5 -Cross in square plan. The arms of the cross are raised higher than the corners of the square, and the dome was raised even higher. The dome would be sitting on a cylindrical ‘drum’ to raise it. The drum served as a clerestory wall and so was punctured with windows. The red line in this diagram indicates a chancel railing or windowed screen (“Templon’) that reserved the altar end of the building for clergy. The ‘Prothesis’ apse was where the bread and wine were prepared for the Eucharistic liturgy.  The ‘Diaconicon’ was for the storage of liturgical books, vestments, vessels, etc.


Fig. 6 -This Byzantine style church in Athens, Greece, has only one dome and is laid out in a Greek Cross plan. The transepts also end in apses. Notice the vertical nature of the windows and the ‘banded brick’ pattern of the exterior of the drum. Both are characteristics of the Byzantine style.


Fig. 7 -Looking toward the apse. An Iconostasis screen shields the chancel/altar area. Iconostasis screens did not appear until ca. 1000 or even later. Notice the abundance of imagery common in Byzantine and Orthodox churches. The program of imagery (in mosaic and/or fresco) in Byzantine churches is thought to have been introduced in a palace chapel in Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I.

Overall, embellishments and decorative elements in Byzantine churches betray eastern or oriental (think Persian and Arabic) influences as Byzantium (Constantinople, now Istanbul) was/is on the border between Europe and Asia. Such designs emphasized splendor, complexity, both organic and geometric pattern and color. The classical Greek and Roman forms of arch, dome, and columns merged in the Byzantine style with eastern design elements.


Fig. 8 -Here the classical Greek and Roman Ionic capital has been altered by a pattern of intricately carved leaf forms, betraying eastern influences.


Fig. 9 -It is hard to detect any classical Greek and Roman elements in this Byzantine capital except for perhaps the scroll like forms at the bottom. This is thoroughly eastern in appearance. These flat intricately carved capitals are sometimes called ‘basket capitals’.

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Fig 10 San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy, 526-47. Mosaics above and veined marble columns and walls below are characteristics of the Byzantine style.


Fig 11 A chancel railing or ‘templon’ screen (as in this illustration) marked the border between the holiest part of the church and the nave in the Byzantine style. The ‘chancel’ area included the altar and apse and was reserved for the clergy. The church represented in this illustration also has a type of ‘solea’ or walled walkway for the clergy to process to the ‘ambo’ for the scripture readings. The ‘ambo’ is the raised platform. There were no seats. The congregation stood the whole time.

Many regional variations in the Byzantine style developed as Christianity spread into Russia and other regions.


Fig 12 Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow. A totally unique expression within the Byzantine tradition.

"National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception", Washington D.C., 20th century

Fig. 13 “National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception”, Washington D.C., 20th century. Byzantine Revival Style

Fig. 14 "National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception", Washington D.C., 20th century. Byzantine Revival Style. In addition, the dome is meant to echo the dome of the U.S. Capitol building and the tower mimics the Washington Monument.

Fig. 14 “National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception”, Washington D.C., 20th century. Byzantine Revival Style. In addition, the dome is meant to echo the dome of the U.S. Capitol building and the tower mimics the Washington Monument.

Do you know of any Byzantine style churches in your area? There are several in the Rochester area. What characteristics would you look for?


1 The term ‘Byzantine’ is derived from the name of the city of Byzantium. Constantine renamed his new capital ‘New Rome’.  After his death it was named ‘Constantinople’.  The Ottomans changed the name to ‘Istanbul” after their conquest of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century.


Photo Sources:

Fig.1 By Apostoleion.jpg: Agur derivative work: Arnaugir (Apostoleion.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Fig. 3 Bernie Dick

Fig. 4 Bernie Dick

Fig. 5 Bernie Dick

Fig. 8 Bernie Dick

Fig. 9 Bernie Dick

Fig. 7

Fig. 12 “Moscow July 2011-4a” by Alvesgaspar – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Fig 13 “Basilica National Shrine Immaculate Conception DC 34″ by Gryffindor – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons – Fig.

Fig. 14


Update on “America” Rag-azine and its Dolan-ic Defense

September 9th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A few months ago, a new editor was named for the Jesuit “Rag-azine” titled “America.”  The publication’s title has always seemed rather presumptuous to me, perhaps never more so than now, in its current lack of any meaningful achievement for the Faith in America or for countering the pagan culture onslaught.   It is as if “America” has no role but to publish, rather than to teach, evangelize or plant a meaningful theological thesis or spiritual impulse.  We should judge by the fruits.  What are they?  Today, all things Jesuit can easily hide under the Jesuit aura of the Papacy, and perhaps receive more deference than has been deserved in a very long time.  But it doesn’t make them fruitful, or faithful.   I say that without in any way diminishing the historic contributions of Jesuits, especially their martyrdom to hold the British soil for the Faith.

Nevertheless, I took a quick read through the new editor’s ruminations, and found them somewhat lacking in cohesion and insight, a veritable potpourri of words without apparent direction.  For example, the September comments by the new editor, Father Matt Malone, is a transparent pulpit for Cardinal Kasper and his radical, damaging proposals to change Catholic Teaching (just before the Synod) and to permit divorced/remarried Catholics to receive Communion.  The buzzword “mercy” can hardly undo the Gospel words of Christ that no one can put asunder what God has joined together.

The  August column is a puff piece on the editor’s visit to Cuba and the late July  issue, while purporting to offer the two sides of the Hamas-Gaza vs. Israel conflict, in effect showcases far more anti-Israel sentiment than vice versa.  The early July column would lead the reader to never suspect there is any such thing as a just-war theory, or that Christ spoke the Truth when He said there would be wars and rumors of wars.

I didn’t go back any further than June in which the editor played the RACE card.  Father Malone offers the inflammatory words:  “I do know this: the notion that whites—even the most enlightened among us—“don’t see race” is ridiculous. It’s quite obviously the first thing that we see. I don’t forget that someone is black, any more than he or she forgets that I am white. That’s just something white people tell themselves in order to feel a little less complicit in the whole ghastly history of racial prejudice.”  Father Malone outrageously continues:  “Do we openly acknowledge our history, our complicity, our shame, while not forgetting our triumphs and joys and especially our hopes for healing?”  “What we need is plenty of honest conversation, painful conversation about what we have done.” This editor offers not much insight into who “we” is, but it isn’t me or most of the people I know.  The new editor is making the classic mistake of asserting that he speaks for all his readers.  
The most charitable thing I can say about “America” under its new editor is that “I am not impressed.”   But see for yourself.  The staff of “America” has been joined by the so-called public relations diva of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), Sister Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., who is now its “U.S. church correspondent.” And her “colors” really are the first thing I see.  Rainbow colors.  Go here   to read for yourself.
The pro-cardinal Dolan article is not surprising, given her long and close working relationship with him when he was President of the USCCB (which she fails to disclose in her article.)  Further, it boggles the mind that she could have been the voice of the USCCB to the media when her article in “America” so ignores and misstates the Catholic Church position on same-sex attracted individuals. Perhaps this is at least part of the root of the wider secular media not understanding the Church’s position?  She uses the word “gay” without in any way differentiating those who are same-sex attracted from those who choose to live a gay activist life-style, causing great and irreparable damage to the perception of what the Catholic Church really teaches.  Here are a few quotes, but please read and comment yourself.  It is a short, easy read if you can control your righteous indignation.

-’This  [parade] is not a religious rite though some attend it religiously. It’s of course associated with Catholics, especially in New York where the saint is patron of the archdiocese’s (some say the nation’s) premier church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. The Catholic Church does not sponsor the parade, though the marchers go by the cathedral where the grand marshal traditionally greets the archbishop of New York. The parade also is preceded by Mass in the cathedral.”  [And this is the argument she makes that the NY Diocese isn't involved or a key influence?]

-”Unfortunately a lot of faithful critics and culture warriors are taking issue with Cardinal Dolan’s tolerance of the parade’s gay and lesbian contingent. They seem to advocate an in-your-face approach to anything gay.’  [Notice the last inflammatory sentence, refusing to differentiate between what is gay and what is gay activist, as if the distinction didn't even exist.]

-”Even the federal government eventually refused to defend the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of federal benefits in the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed with practically unanimous support and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The government stopped defending the law in court in 2011 and two years later, the Supreme Court found the definition unconstitutional.” [and this is supposed to be an argument for same-sex "marriage"?  That "even" the government .... as if the government had some morality? As if 15 years can change something from immoral to moral?]

-”Nevertheless, Cardinal Dolan also has pastoral obligations. Many Catholics are gay, are related to gays, have gay friends.” [Again note the refusal to distinguish the gay lifestyle from the disorder of same-sex attraction.]

- “The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family voted in 1997 on a statement “Always Our Children,” that addressed the relationship between parents and their gay children. It drew fierce opposition from a number of people, but it cleared the air and comforted families who felt torn between what they understood to be church teaching and the natural love of mothers and fathers for children.”  [Oh, goodie -- it made people "feel good" about their sins, and the sins of their family members.  There was much controversy and the USCCB's position was entirely NON-BINDING on this matter; so Walsh is presenting a skewed view and cherry-picks a few points and ignores many others, but that is not surprising given her prior USCCB involvement, all undisclosed to the reader.]

-”Where to draw the line?” [How about between sin and no sin?]

-”Can a gay couple marry in the church? Since the church does not recognize such a union, this does not seem like something the church can approve of.”  [What kind of a question/answer is this?  "does not seem like something...?"  OBVIOUSLY, Sister Walsh, the answer is NO, and one could wish you had a stronger catechesis.  Could you be any weaker?]

-”Cardinal Dolan’s position on the parade is the pastoral one; you don’t reject people for who they are.”  [Sin is not "who they are;" but rather is what has hold of them, throttling by the enemy.  Clever word-smithing again, and consistently, does not address either Church Teaching on non-repentant sinful life style, or its effect on others.  And just how is promoting homosexual sin under a bragging banner "pastoral" to the rest of the Church?]

Finally, and also in my opinion, what Cardinal Dolan is doing is even worse and more significant than what we experienced in prior years in the DoR.  His audience is larger, his apparent push for normalizing the gay lifestyle is more aggressive and apt to cause division on a wide and deep scale, and he has greater influence.  If this is what he has done in just a few years, what can we expect in the future if he is not removed from office?  Moreover, with our experience in Rochester in speaking out for true Catholic Teaching, and in taking the words of Ezekiel seriously, we probably have more experience here and at Cleansing Fire than many groups in other dioceses, and it is easy to argue that to NOT speak out would be a dereliction of  our duty.  But, as I said, this is all “in my opinion.”  What’s yours?

Michael Voris Saved Me a Post

September 5th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

While I was debating how much to say and how far to go, between calling for more catechesis and some therapy for Cardinal Dolan, or wishing for his resignation, Michael Voris said what needed to be said, with an ever-increasing perspective of what is really going on within Catholic hierarchy in America.  Well, maybe he didn’t say it “all”, but at least enough for the moment,  and saved my writing a new post.

I know some who follow Cleansing Fire do object to his style, or find bones to pick, as he too is a work in process, as we all are.  But Christ said we should be hot or cold, and it is clear which Michael is.  It is certainly not lukewarm. Please listen:



“So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  Revelation 3:16 (NAB)


Rochester Chesterton Society 11th Annual Conference – Sept 27th

September 5th, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson


Fr. Robert Wild, Madonna House, on GKC’s Mysticism
Fr. Scott Caton, Roberts Wesleyan University, on GKC as Apologist
Joseph Pearce, Author, on GKC and Thankfulness
Dale Alquist, American Chesterton Society, on the Outline of Sanctity

Saturday, September 27th, 2014
9 am — 3:30 pm

St. John Fisher College, Coleman Chapel, Murphy Hall
Donation: $10. Free to students. Lunch will be available at nominal cost.

Funded by the Basilian Fathers of St. John Fisher College.
With support from members of the Rochester NY Chesterton Society and from St. Irenaeus Ministries.


St. Paul Street Evangelization in the DOR

September 5th, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From Fr. Mike Mayer:

Easy Evangelization for Everyone!

Members of the Rochester Chapter of St. Paul Street Evangelization regularly evangelize at the Rochester Public Market, Geneva Farmers Market, Ontario Beach Park and Frontier Field. We offer rosaries, rosary guides (English and Spanish), medals, CD/DVDs, and literature promoting our Catholic faith. We also pray with those who ask for prayer and pray for those who enter their requests in our prayer journals. Over 40 people were trained to evangelize in March by Adam Janke of the national organization and others who have joined since are taking the online training at Parishes and individuals are invited to join the Rochester Chapter of St. Paul Street Evangelization and joyfully proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our diocese. For more more information, email or call Fr. Mike Mayer at 315-789-0939, X113.


Praying for Paul Likoudis

September 3rd, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Paul Likoudis writes in a Memo To The Wanderer Family

With all my heart I want to thank the many Wanderer readers who have supported me with their Masses and prayers through what has been a very challenging time, and is likely to become more challenging.

The July 16 surgery was not a success, and complications required a two-week hospital stay, which has left me extremely exhausted. My surgeon discovered that the rectal tumor is inoperable, and that the cancer has spread to the pelvic wall. On August 13, I began another round of chemotherapy, which will run through the middle or end of December. After that, I will have another MRI to determine to what extent the chemo has worked, and if the cancer has spread to other organs.

I am still praying for a miracle, but also learning that my life is entirely in God’s hands.

A Surprise Phone Call

On the day after the surgery, just moments after I was moved from recovery into my room in the cancer ward at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., my cell phone rang.
“Is this Paul Likoudis?” asked the voice at the other end of the line.
“Speaking,” I answered.
“This is Cardinal George.”
“Your Eminence, what a surprise and a blessing,” I responded, shocked and in total disbelief.

Read the rest here.

Please keep Paul, a local long time defender of orthodoxy and contributor to the Wanderer, and his family in your prayers as he continues his battle against cancer. Paul is the son of James Likoudis, another local long time defender of orthodoxy.


Light Another Candle — September, 2014 — Cardinal Dolan & St. Pat’s Parade

September 3rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

                                      A comment by Richard Thomas (shown below) is moved here from another post, to begin “Light Another Candle” for September.

And it is only September 3rd!

However, I will not have time to research the issue, so our readers are invited to do so, and we’ll post the additional information right here.

For example, is this a new occurrence or has it happened in previous years?

Does the Diocese of New York have any power over who marches and who doesn’t, except for their own participation?

Has the New York Diocese ever previously contested an LGBT presence in the St. Patrick’s Day parade?  Or in any other civic program?  If so,what happened?

I seem to remember that when he first arrived in NYC, then Archbishop Dolan told St. Francis Xavier parish in Greenwich Village that they could not march in the Gay Pride Parade with a banner that said “St. Francis Xavier” Church.  While the marchers complied with the letter of the Abp.’s order, they marched with a blank banner, wearing St. Francis Xavier tee-shirts.  So, it was “in your face” to Abp. Dolan!  Michael Voris also did a show on Abp. Dolan’s applauding the LGBT group at a Mass at St. Francis Xavier.  That’s all from memory.  Maybe someone can check it out, and give us links?

Here’s what Richard Thomas wrote to alert us to the unfolding scenario:

Richard Thomas says:

September 3, 2014 at 11:30 AM

I just learned that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will now allow gay and lesbian groups to march in the parade under their banner.

Bill O’Reilly from Fox, the O’Reilly Factor stated he had no problem with it.  O’Reilly is the Spokesman for the Parade.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Grand Chairman of the parade, said he welcomed their participation.


And here is a gutsy article in the National Catholic Register, of all places!  Thanks “J” for the link.


New York Post “…ending ban on gay groups”

LifeSiteNews  ”End St. Pat’s Parade” — article from a Monsignor removed from Diocese of Washington Website

Washington Post - Gays Scoff  - “Dereliction of  Duty”

Rorate-caeli     St. Patrick’s Day Massacre


“GKC: A Night of Mystery” written by Rev. Michael Mayer shows this September at Rochester’s Fringe Festival

September 2nd, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Buy your tickets today to see:

GKC: A NIGHT OF MYSTERY revisits the era of radio theatre with G. K. Chesterton’s THE HONOUR OF ISRAEL GOW, the tale of the strange-but-honest gardener of the late Lord of Glengyle who causes the priest-detective Fr. Brown and his friends a great deal of bewilderment. Join the Prince of Peace Players as they immerse you in a tale of mystery with all of the thunder you could possibly want to hear in one night!



Reminder: less than 2 weeks left to grow a Spiritual Bouquet

September 2nd, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

On the Feast of the Assumption, August 15th, we began collecting flowers for our (individual) spiritual bouquets for Bishop Matano, for his birthday on September 15th.  See link here.

spiritual bouquetThere are now less than two weeks remaining (if we want His Excellency to receive our spiritual bouquets on or before his birthday).  So, how are is your garden growing?  Red roses of Masses? White lilies of Communions?  Blue irises of rosaries? A golden sunflower of adoration?  The aroma of prayers rising like the sweet odor of incense?  May we not suspect that when Bishop Matano says “Pray for me!” that he really means it?  Have we any better way to show our gratitude than our prayers?

I know I am behind where I wanted to be at this point, but the point is not accumulation or obsession, simply a gentle offering of what matters most.  Don’t feel “Oh, it isn’t enough to send a birthday card saying ‘I offered one Mass and Communion for your intentions.’”  A Mass is of infinite value, as I am reminding myself.

Here is the address to send your birthday card, and bouquet:

The Most Reverend Salvatore Matano

Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester

Pastoral Center, 1150 Buffalo Road

Rochester, N. Y. 14624-1890

It might be a good idea to write, with your note, a mention that no reply is expected, in order not to add to the Bishop’s workload.  And please mention this to those in your parish and bible study, and to friends and family.





Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – September

September 1st, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your September calendar. Thanks to the good folks at for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

And the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for September:

Universal: That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.

For Evangelization: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.


Update #1 on TLM and STA “together”

September 1st, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

At yesterday’s Mass in the Extraordinary Form, celebrated at St. Stanislaus, Fr. Bonsignore announced that, instead of a sermon, he would give an update on where the situation stands regarding a move of TLM to St. Thomas the Apostle.  As I heard/received the information, it seemed to be divided into three parts:  1) History 2) Input and 3) Meetings with DoR.  If anyone who was in attendance can add or correct the following, please do so with a comment, and I will revise.  Many rapid-fire points were made, and it was hard to cover it all by note-taking.  Where needed for clarity, I’ve put certain clarifications in parentheses.  I have also added, in red, a subject in which a few listeners heard “different” things, and input is especially solicited on that matter. There were also subjects of concern that had been raised, about which no mention was made.  And, at the very end, concerning the next meeting with DoR, please consider your input to Fr. Bonsignore.  He did not ask for further input, but seemed open to continuing communications.


Father Bonsignore began by explaining the original proposal from Bishop Matano.  He noted that on August 10th he had submitted (to the Latin Mass Community) the Bishop’s proposal that TLM move to the STA “building” and that Masses would be said (under both forms on Sundays)  ”at a morning hour.”  He noted that both forms are “equally valid.”  Thus, TLM would “join with the former St. Thomas parishioners.” Father Bonsignore would be named “Chaplain” of the TLM community (at a point in time to be clarified) and he hopes and expects the community would grow, to be “one parish entity in the future.”  (Now those were the words I wrote down, but another listener who reviewed this post heard that it would not (eventually) become a parish, and would remain part of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.)

Father Bonsignore told those present: “You understood and reacted”, with “depth and insight” in the spoken discussion, offering ideas and showing “passionate commitment” to the TLM.  He continued:  ”I asked for a show of hands and an overwhelming majority” reacted positively (to the proposal at that first meeting). Further, Father Bonsignore also had invited written input, which he characterized as having  ”intelligent and forceful comments.”  He stated that he had read “every single one” and again mentioned “overall support.”  He hoped we would hear some of our own inputs as he summarized.


Father Bonsignore characterized the written input “main issues” as follows:  (Some answers were given and are in parentheses).

-repairs and maintenance; (St. Kateri will pay for the roof repair)

-engineering report on the building (he noted this had been done already)

-questions of how finances will work -part of St. Kateri? (answer: yes) (future maybe separate parish?)

-Holy Day Masses? (yes)

-Triduum? (no)

-What about the school  (tenant needed asap)

-Can facility be used for other meetings (not decided) -Operating expenses?  ($100,000 per year for STA (!) Much financial analysis is needed on this estimate.)

-”Atrocious acoustics” (but Father says excellent for Gregorian Chant)

-Will Fr. Helfrich be there at STA?  (Father Bonsignore answered “I hope so.”)

-How will conflicts be settled?  (“needs to be discussed”)

-We need a “chain of command” was another input.

-We will need “advertising of the move and the Mass time”

-If 3 years to become a parish, how will we measure success?  This relates to the prior question of whether or not there is a “parish” light at the end of the tunnel, and what exactly did Father Bonsignore say on this matter?  Please comment.

-Written comments included caution about “working out details as we go” (much needs to be decided in advance.)

Father Bonsignore said there are a “huge number of ideas to process.”


August 20th:  Father Bonsignore met with Father Condon (Chancellor)

August 27th:  Father Bonsignore met with Fathers Condon and English, and  Lisa Passero (diocesan finance officer).  Bishop Matano joined part of the meeting. Discussed some of the issues raised (see answers in parentheses shown above). Other comments:  ”STA no longer exists … now TLM would be …  ”at the St. Thomas site.”

September 10th:  Next meeting, to be focused on financial and budget concerns. (Input to Father Bonsignore before that meeting is appropriate, even though unsolicited.) Fr. Bonsignore closed with these comments:  ”This proposal/plan/project is not simply picking up and moving a few things. There are complex issues and hard work.  We need to work AND pray. As the Psalm says:  ’Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain.’   Good topic for Labor Day weekend.”  

Father Bonsignore said that, as he was leaving the diocesan meeting, that Father Condon said to him: “We want you to succeed”.  (It is unclear if Bp. Matano was in the room at this point.)  When Fr. Bonsignore said he was looking slightly disbelieving “like Thomas,” Fr. Condon repeated his words, saying “Have faith.” Father Bonsignore avowed he has no problem with “faith” and urged us to have “faith.”

My own personal comment on the closing statement is this:  I have never found dealing with the Diocese to be an issue of faith.  Rather, I have consistently found it, under the prior administration, of which parts and pieces remain, to be an issue of trust.  As the Psalms say:   “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help.”   

MIA:  I heard no discussion of the patrimony of St. Thomas Apostle being repatriated to STA, believed to be over a half million dollars, which apparently resides under control of St. Kateri, and those who voted to close STA.  It would seem that without such settling of the parishioner-mandaters’ complaints to Rome, that TLM would be stepping into the middle of a canonical lawsuit, and be divisive with the perception of having intruded in the matter.  That would not seem to be an auspicious beginning, nor a way to work with or win prior parishioners to the TLM.  For example, would former STA parishioners want to pay toward $100,000 costs per year, when their prior patrimony has been taken away? Perhaps it is better to wait until that matter is definitively settled?  What do you think?  


Church Architecture Styles: The Early Christian Period

August 28th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

Previously in this series: The Period of Persecution

The construction of church buildings began in the third century well before the legalization of Christianity in 313. Legalization of Christianity saw an increase in the construction of churches due to the sudden patronage of Constantine and subsequent emperors.

The Roman ‘basilica’ became the architectural form of the Christian church as it was the standard structural type used by Roman architects for housing large group meetings. Very little modification of the secular basilica was necessary to convert it into a church.

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Fig.1 – Church basilica from the 4th century in Syria. A pitched wooden roof covered the center, and sloping roofs covered the side aisles. Basilicas were the typical building type used by the Romans in structures constructed for large groups of people. Construction materials varied from region to region.

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Fig. 2 – Cross section of a 4th century church basilica. The center aisle –the ‘Nave’– was raised higher than the side aisles so that windows could puncture the higher walls to illuminate the center.  Larger churches might have four side aisles.

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Fig. 3 – This is a very basic ground plan of a simple basilica church in which we can see that altars were usually placed just at the border of the apse (the ‘chord’). Clergy sat along the curved back wall of the apse. During the Eucharistic Prayer, however, the clergy moved to the front of the altar, facing East along with the congregation. Churches were usually oriented to the East as Christ’s second coming would be from out of the Eastern sky.

roman basilic

Fig. 4 – Sant Apollinare in Classe,  near Ravenna, Italy, is an excellent example of an early Christian basilica. Here we can see the raised roof supported by the walls of the clerestory which are punctured by windows. We can also see clearly the side aisle and the apse on the far right. The exterior is unfinished brick as was the norm in Italy.

Christianity developed and expanded within the Roman Empire and so the architectural forms the faith employed were Roman. Most especially this meant incorporation of the classical Greek ‘orders’ (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) that had been adopted by the Romans and Roman structural forms derived from the Round Arch.

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Fig. 5 –  These are the three basic classical ‘Orders’ developed by the ancient Greeks. The Romans admired the Greeks and copied their architectural style of classical Orders, especially the Ionic and Corinthian. Christian basilicas used columns in these three styles to form arcades that separated the Nave from side aisles. The columns were joined by arches or by flat Entablatures.

Fig. 6 - Roman architecture is especially noted for its masterful engineering feats based upon the use of the round arch. Early Christian basilicas used the round arch mostly in the construction of arcades which separated the aisles from the nave. Sometimes, but rarely, stone vaults or concrete vaults based on extensions of the round arch covered the side aisles. The round arch was also prominent at the front of the apse where it usually formed the front edge of the curved wall and quarter domed space.

Fig. 6 – Roman architecture is especially noted for its masterful engineering feats based upon the use of the round arch. Early Christian basilicas used the round arch mostly in the construction of arcades which separated the aisles from the nave. Sometimes, but rarely, stone vaults or concrete vaults based on extensions of the round arch covered the side aisles. The round arch was also prominent at the front of the apse where it usually formed the front edge of the curved wall and quarter sphere vault.


Digital StillCamera

Fig. 7 – Here we can see the arcade that separates the Nave from the left side aisle consists of a row of round arches supported by a line of classical columns. Arcades form a perspective which direct the eyes of congregants toward the altar at the apse end of the space.

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Fig. 8 – The Nave and first side aisles in this basilica are separated by Corinthian columns supporting an Entablature. The second –from the Nave– side aisles are separated in this basilica from the first side aisles by an arched arcade. At the far end of the nave are two large round arches at the area in front of, and at the border of, the apse.

The exteriors of early Christian churches were plain brick or stone. The main entrance facades were sometimes decorated with paintings or mosaics.


Fig. 9 – Without exception, the exteriors of early Christian churches were left as unfinished brick or stone. Here we can easily identify the nave, side aisle and apse of this 4th century basilica.

SMT facade edited

Fig. 10 – On the facade of Santa Maria Trastevere, in Rome (4th century) both painting and mosaic imagery were added. Such exterior decoration was not usually part of the initial fabric of the building but were added some years later with sections perhaps completed in different periods.

After construction of the basic structure of the church building, decoration was added to the interior. Colorful mosaics of biblical scenes and theological concepts eventually dominated the interiors. The colorful interiors contrasted with the plain exteriors so much that Christian churches were sometimes called ‘houses of mystery’ for the exterior of the building did not suggest the splendor within.


Fig. 11 – The mosaics in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, are from the 5th century.

Doors were sometimes carved with biblical scenes.

Santa Sabina Doors

Fig. 12 – Doors of Santa Sabina in Rome, 430-32. These are original doors of the period but experts agree that they were made for a different doorway. Each panel depicts a New or Old Testament scene.


Fig. 13 – Crucifixion scene from the doors of Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome. This is the earliest known representation of the crucifixion (ca. 432)

Ceilings in the basilica churches were initially open timbered but in subsequent centuries were often finished with coffer paneling.


Fig. 14 – This is a cross section drawing of the original Saint Peter’s Basilica showing the open timber ceilings, the most common type of ceiling in the early churches. You can also see that the farthest aisles out from the nave are covered not by open timber but by masonry vaults. Being smaller they were easier to vault in stone or concrete.

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Fig. 15 – The coffer wood ceiling in this basilica was gilded in gold taken from the new world. In addition to the ceiling notice the classical ionic columns supporting an Entablature. A Round Arch (called a ‘Triumphal Arch’) is also clearly prominent at the altar end.

‘Ciboria’ (Bladachins, canopies) over altars were first introduced in Old Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome (begun ca. 320 completed ca. 336).  Saint Peter’s Basilica was built over Peter’s grave.  Similar basilicas were constructed over other martyr’s tombs in imitation of Saint Peter’s. Altars in each were positioned over the tombs and Ciboria, as  funerary memorial structures, were erected over the altars. The tradition of using Ciboria to mark the grave of a martyr continued when relics of martyrs and saints were divided up and distributed among churches not located in a cemetery. The relics were placed in or under altars and Ciboria erected over the altars.

St Peter's shrine larger copy copy

Fig. 16 – This shows the original ‘Ciborium’ (memorial structure) over the tomb of Saint Peter the Apostle, Rome, ca. 336. Later, this original Ciborium was removed and the floor of the chancel of the basilica was raised to cover the entire grave, including an existing arched memorial (shown in the drawing). An altar was then positioned directly above the grave. A new ‘Ciborium’ was then erected over that.

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Fig. 17 – Ciboria had to be repaired and even replaced over the centuries. In this basilica in Croatia, the columns are original and date from the 6th century. The rest of the Ciborium is renovation from later centuries.

The basilica of the early Christian period set the basic form of church architecture for centuries to come, right up to the present time. Everything following those first centuries was a variation, elaboration, or copy of the basilica form. Even so, it is a history of amazingly rich styles and expressions. Knowing the characteristics of each style greatly enhances a person’s ability to judge good from bad church architecture. It enhances our ability to appreciate various interpretations of the sacred liturgy through the centuries and guides us in our decisions regarding proposals for new churches.

Does your church have a basilica plan with arcades separating the center of the church from side aisles? Any Doric, Ionic or Corinthian columns? How about an apse? Ciborium? Clerestory?  Let us know. Maybe send me a picture:


There is quite a variety in the purposes and styles within the general category of Early Christian church architecture. More information can be found in my online book, “History of Christian Art”, here and here.


Picture Sources:

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Fig. 6 – edited:

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Fig. 13 - ”SabinaCrucify”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Fig. 14 -

Fig. 15 -

Fig. 17 – edited: ”EuphrasiusBasilika” by Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0-de via Wikimedia Commons –


Mass in the Extraordinary Form 7 September 2014 in Corning NY

August 25th, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Father Peter Mottola will offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form also known as the Traditional Latin Mass, at St Vincent de Paul Church in Corning NY on 7 September 2014 at 12:30pm. The Mass will be a Missa Cantata, a sung Mass, with an accompanying Schola. Come experience this timeless form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is the second in the three Masses scheduled this year. The last one is scheduled for 23 November at the same time and place.


A Miss on Mission Statements

August 25th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

At least 15 years ago, when I was consulting with a prominent chemical company on their growth programs, I presented the familiar planning framework which begins with formulating a corporate mission statement.  It is axiomatic in business that a management team doesn’t begin planning its objectives, strategies and tactics until it can articulate the vision and mission for the business; e.g., “What is our unique market niche?” and “What are we committed to accomplish?”  When I flipped the usual powerpoint presentation onto the screen, the CEO said “Oh, we have that down pat.  We’ve already worked through the mission statement for strategic planning.  Let’s move on to the growth strategies.”  I smiled because I knew what was coming.

“Fine”, I said.  “So let’s begin.”  Then I turned to the 25 member management team in the room and said “Everyone take out a piece of paper. You will want to disguise your handwriting.  Now write down the corporate mission statement; don’t sign it, and leave it here on the table in front of me, face down, and grab another cup of coffee.”  To those who were reaching into their wallets to copy the mission statement from a laminated card, I added: “And don’t take anything out of your pockets until we’re done.”  After about 5 minutes, I had a pile of papers in front of me, which I shuffled and gave to the CEO.  He read through them during the coffee break, and when everyone returned he said: “We better begin with formulating a mission statement.”  Later I learned not a single person had properly articulated the mission statement, so that’s where we restarted the seminar.

After such an experience, and many others, though less dramatic, I think it is not surprising (though it is deserving of a mea culpa) to confess that during the diocesan pastoral planning ordeal of about a decade ago, my pastor at that time asked me to be a resource to him for the strategic planning which the diocese was undertaking. On the subject of mission statements, I gave the same input regarding its importance.  The advice wasn’t wrong; but, if we had all been more imbued in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we would have been able to say: “Yes a mission statement is crucial, BUT WE ALREADY HAVE ONE!”  Later, in retrospect, the silliness of months of word-smithing to formulate a mission statement that almost no parishioner knows or can articulate (even though it has been on the front page of the bulletin for years) brings the point home.

Enough time has gone by and, as pastors get reassigned and find themselves with a mission statement which they didn’t formulate, or which they can’t remember, or which doesn’t mean anything anyway, they seem to be quietly dropping the mission statements from the bulletins.  But there are still many afloat in the Rochester Diocese and in other dioceses as well. What a waste of time and effort of so many people in so many parishes!

Think this is a wrong conclusion?  What is YOUR parish’s mission statement?  Does it even have one in the bulletin or has it been quietly dropped without even a mention?  Can you write it down, right now, without peeking?  Do you understand it?  Do you agree with it?  And why does your parish need any “mission statement” which is worded differently from Christ’s own commands?  Did He not say:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”  Matthew 28: 19-20.

And if we really need to add more, could we not remember:

“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5: 48.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  John 14:15.

And if we are really hungry for more words, the Beatitudes provide plenty, and so does Matthew 10:42, and also the Greatest Commandment, and the one “second” to it.

Rembrandt's "Laborers in the Vineyard"

Rembrandt’s “Laborers in the Vineyard”

Perhaps one reason why the “new evangelization” seems so challenging at times, is because the “old evangelization” hasn’t been tried enough.  Even now, I have begun to hear homilies which basically say it is our lives that evangelize, that we don’t need to do something else.  How easy it is to set aside the conscience nagging “Maybe I should be doing more.”

If I were “consulting” today, I would say get rid of those wordy, confusing, and self-serving mission statements, and get back to Christ’s words.  Those are enough of a challenge for a lifetime.  Self-serving mission statements?  Yes.  When mission statements are written to describe what we are already doing, or are so nebulous that spiritual success can be claimed, it is fair to call it “self-serving.”  And it is fair to ask if such mission statements serve to placate the urge to “do more.”

Now, as a “fun” exercise, here are 15 mission statements right off the Sunday bulletins in the Diocese of Rochester, minus the names of the parish or extreme identifying characteristics.  Would you like to take a crack at which church each belongs to? Can you tell the identity of any of them?   If you have a mission statement to add to the list, post a comment (without naming the Church, please).  Here are the 15, in no particular order::

1. “______________is a Catholic Community committed to the spiritual growth of all people as we share our faith and serve our community.”

2. “The parishes of _________ and ____________  are Roman Catholic Communities that worship and live in faith.  Nourished by the Sacraments, Scripture, and a diversity of individual gifts, we understand that our mission comes from Jesus Christ who calls us to teach, to preach, to serve those in need, and to be a presence of Christ in the world.”

3.  “We are an urban, Roman Catholic parish that worships and gathers at _______________.  Our mission is to reach all in our community and beyond, teach the word of God, and send forth ministers of the Gospel.”

4.  “We are a Christ-centered community of Catholic Churches working towards the spiritual renewal of all. As we pursue that hope and dream together, our common Mission Statement calls us: to carry on the work and teaching of Jesus through Imitation, Proclamation, Celebration and Social Transformation.”

5.  “The Mission of ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________   Parish in unison with the Universal church is to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ. The mission of the Parish is carried out in Word, Sacrament, and Service to God and neighbor. The continuing vitality of our staff and parishioners, we feel is evidence of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.”

6.  “As disciples of Jesus Christ serving on the Parish Pastoral Council, we collaborate with the Pastor and Staff inviting the people of ___________ to joyfully celebrate the Eucharist, faithfully teach Catholic tradition, and fervently form Catholic spirituality, so that together we may go forth in love to serve the Lord and each other.”

7.  “With Mary as our model, __________ seeks to be a welcoming parish.  Recognizing that we are made up of diverse rural communities, we strive to live as members of the one Body of Christ, ministering to each other, and working together to nurture our God given talents in order to reach out to others in a caring and compassionate manner that witnesses to our fervent love for God.”

8. “We profess our belief that Christ sent His Spirit to bestow gifts on His followers according to their part in carrying out His mission.  We are committed to be visible signs to each other, and to our community, of Christ’s Presence among us: Proclaiming and evangelizing the Gospel, witnessing to God’s love according to the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching, ministering to the needs of all; and fostering the spiritual life and growth among parishioners.”

9. “We, the members of ___________, believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Empowered by this belief, we seek through the celebration of Word and Sacrament to be Christ present in our world. As a community of faith, we strive to build Christian unity through worship and commitment to ________ ministries. We invite all to seek Christ through prayer and provide love and support to those in need.”

10.  “We are an inclusive, welcoming, compassionate community united by a faith that is alive and growing.  As sisters and brothers baptized in Christ, our mission is to be Christ for one another, our community, and the world by teaching as Jesus did, loving as Jesus loved, serving as Jesus served, and by seeing in every face the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

11. “As the Church of _________, we welcome all to our parish family. Guided by the Holy Spirit, rooted in God’s word, we seek to grow in faith through the joyful celebration of the sacraments.  Reflecting Jesus Christ through the warmth of our hospitality, we commit to lovingly proclaim the Good News and serve one another.”

12.  “__________ is a welcoming Roman Catholic faith community formed from the heritage of _#___parishes in _____. As one parish in Christ, we are committed to continuing His mission to build the Kingdom of God. As Christ’s disciples, strengthened by the sacraments, we enthusiastically engage in vibrant ministries which evangelize, unify and serve others within our parish and beyond. We are dedicated to worship, faith formation and social outreach as expressions of our faith.”

13.  “Energized by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the Eucharist, we the parishioners of _________ and ________, in joyful unity embrace our baptismal call to worship God, spread the good news of Jesus Christ, build up a welcoming community of faith and hope, and lovingly serve and comfort those in need.”

14. “_________  Parish seeks to be a community where: ALL ARE WELCOME!  ALL are INSPIRED to live the Good News of Jesus Christ where • Worship leads to Service • Service leads to Love • Love leads to Eternal Life •”

15. “We are a Catholic Community, called to be faithful, caring and enthusiastic disciples. We build up the kingdom of God by worshiping and praising God, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and witness, giving loving service to our neighbor and strengthening the parish community.”


Truly, can the thousands of “person hours” spent doing these statements all over the diocese have made any difference at all?  Imagine what fruit could those thousands of hours have yielded if directed to the actual services which were being claimed?  And that was just for the mission statement part of planning.  Yet those same “leaders” continue to claim a competence which defies defense.

Some sanity at the parish level is beginning to emerge.  There are noticeable trends to omit the Mission Statement, to reduce the font to miniscule size, and forget it once in a while.  If all pastors were clearly given permission to “drop it,” I wonder how fast all these mission statements would disappear?

Light Under a Bushel?

And regarding church bulletins, another, unfortunate trend is that there is a significant increase in churches/parishes not showing their bulletins on line at all, but rather requiring a subscription in order to access the bulletin content.  That doesn’t work at all for travelers, looking for a place to go to Mass when they plan their trips and who don’t want to end up on mailing lists.  It doesn’t work for those who need to go to daily Mass in various locations, to accommodate work and family schedules, and need to verify the schedule.  It makes a church look closed and insular.

Further, CF occasionally receives inquiries for a recommendation for a parish which is consistent with Church Teaching, with respectful behaviors and dress, and liturgical faithfulness.  How can a church be recommended without a relevant link to which to direct the interested party?  For example, CF was recently contacted by a family in California, relocating to Ithaca.  But most of the churches there don’t have bulletins on line and they require a subscription, so they weren’t referenced, only the one which has its bulletins on line.  Makes one think again about all those “mission” words of hospitality, openness and welcoming embrace, doesn’t it?


Ancient Mass not as informal as claimed by liberal liturgists

August 22nd, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

 From The Archdiocese of Washington


…These ‘houses’ (domus ecclesia or domus Dei) were usually rather sizable, with a central courtyard or large room that permitted something a little more formal than Mass “around the dining room table.”  I remember being taught (incorrectly) that these early Masses were informal, emphasized a relaxed, communal quality, and were celebrated facing the people. Well, it turns out that really isn’t true. People didn’t just sit around a table or sit in circle—not at all. They sat or stood formally, and everyone faced in one direction: east… 

(from the Didiscalia (ca. 250) …Now, in your gatherings, in the holy Church, convene yourselves modestly in places of the brethren, as you will, in a manner pleasing and ordered with care. [So these 'house liturgies' were NOT informal Masses. Good order and careful attention to detail were essential.] Let the place of the priests be separated in a part of the house that faces east. [So even in these early house Masses, the sanctuary (the place where the clergy ministered) was an area distinct from where the…

Read the whole post HERE


Light Another Candle — August 2014 — Theft of Eucharist

August 20th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Christian, a well-known commenter in the Cleansing Fire Community, has asked for us to “Light Another Candle” regarding the threatened satanic “Mass” in Oklahoma next month.  It is sometimes difficult to know when giving attention to evil (which seeks its own attention, and seeks to disturb souls) is the right thing, or the wrong thing, to do. But the call from a Catholic Bishop to pray earnestly on this matter, tips the scale toward publicity for prayer (rather than giving publicity to evil.)

Accordingly, I am moving Christian’s comments regarding this matter to this post, and wish to do so in a way which minimizes sensationalism, avoids attention on individuals seeking their own attention. Thus, we won’t be posting any pictures of any satanic “Mass” and will be calling it a “Mass” in quotes to  show it is a mimic, a fake, a “so-called,” as opposed to Holy Mass. (It is why women “priests” and same-sex “marriage” should also be in quotes.) The call is for our prayer to stop the event and to prevent sacrilege. It is a call to honor God, not out of any fear of evil (because we know that Jesus Christ has completely defeated the evil one) but out of our Love for God, the source of all Goodness, Truth and Beauty.  We’re just asking that additional comments be kept in that same sense.  We will edit if needed to use the above proposed guidelines. Readers comments are most welcome.  Prayers are especially welcome!

Here is what Christian wrote:

“I became aware of this event and the appropriate outrage after first clicking on a link that Ben Anderson had given for St. John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia. There is a satanic black “Mass” scheduled for Sunday, September 21st, 2014, 7 P.M. at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall.  There are tickets being sold for this blasphemous, evil event. In a black “Mass”, there is a mockery and inversion of the Holy Mass, and an illicitly obtained consecrated host is desecrated in obscene and vulgar ways – the sponsor states the consecrated host is “corrupted by sexual fluids.” The mockery of the Holy Mass and the desecration of Holy Communion “is designed to receive a blessing from satan.”

The following link is to the PDF of the Letter sent out by Archbishop Paul Coakley. He is asking for Catholics, other Christians, and people of goodwill to help. He has asked us to pray to St. Michael the Archangel as well as lodge complaints to the Mayor of Oklahoma City, the Honorable Mick Cornett. If this black “Mass”  is still held, that bishop has asked Catholics, other Christians, and people of good will to join him in a Holy Hour, outdoor Eucharistic Procession, and Benediction at St. Francis of Assisi in Oklahoma at 7 P.M. and for others to hold a Holy Hour of Prayer and Benediction at their parish at the same hour the black “Mass” is scheduled to begin. Oklahoma is one hour behind us, so it would be 8 P.M. our time in the Rochester area. I think we should be holding a Holy Hour of Prayer and Benediction, hopefully at our parishes.

It’s Spiritual Warfare! A satanic black “Mass” was scheduled at Harvard and, after much battle done by Catholics, other Christians, and people of good will, they were eventually able to get it cancelled. Below is a link to an article in National Catholic Register written by Fr. Roger Landry describing the current situation and how he and others were able to stop the May 12th, 2014 satanic black “Mass” from being held on Harvard’s campus.

Parishioners in Oklahoma have already been fasting and praying, and they have been asked to say one decade of the rosary and the prayer to St. Michael daily. Priests are asked to pray the Leonine prayer written by Pope Leo XIII.

Perhaps I should just stay in church all day on Sunday, September 21st, 2014 if the black “Mass” is still taking place. Meanwhile, I will be fasting and praying and I hope others will join me.  I hope the Latin Mass Community will do something.  I hope the parishes throughout our Diocese will do something.”,_penance/1104065

Diane adds:  If you have never read the short book “The Screwtape Letters” this might be an excellent time to do so. We know that satan can do nothing without God’s permissive will allowing it.  We know that Christ has already won the battle. But He gives us opportunities to show how much we love Him through our prayer and concern.  It is how He transforms the evil one’s machinations into our praise for God!  Isn’t it amazing!  What is also amazing is that there would be no black “Mass” and no purpose for one, without the minions of evil believing in the Divine Eucharistic Presence!  They can do nothing against God without it being further proof of their belief in God’s omnipotence! Praise God!  

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.


Church Architecture Styles: Period of Persecution

August 18th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

During the Apostolic Age Christians continued to attend the synagogues and the Temple. The Eucharist, of course, had to be celebrated in members’ homes as that could not be done at the synagogues or Temple. Like any other group in a similar situation the homes chosen for the Eucharist may have been the largest available, the most convenient, or the ones of members who volunteered to host the group.

We can probably safely assume that the liturgy itself probably looked very much like Jewish domestic worship. In fact, the Book of Acts refers to the saying of “the prayers” as well as “praying” so, no doubt, set Jewish prayers were part of the ritual. The ‘liturgy’ was probably more liturgical than we are usually led to believe as Jewish domestic and public worship was very liturgical in the first century.

At least by the middle of the third century, domestic dwellings were being purchased or converted  for use as churches. This is the example we see in this post, at Dura Europos, a domestic building converted into a church around 245. Apparently, the entire house was used as a church center with one room used for the Eucharist and a separate one, across a courtyard, for baptism. Other rooms were used for meetings or instruction, storage, or other needs. The layout was basic and common for urban houses.

It is also known that shops or other commercial buildings were also converted into churches. A bakery in Rome for example, in Trastevere, was transformed into a church. The ‘titular’ churches of Rome all started out as converted houses or partially converted houses..

The earliest known separate building constructed for use as a church was built in 280. But, in the case of this post, we are just looking at an example of a house church (“domus ecclesiae”).

The house church in Dura Europos was in a military town on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in what is today, Syria.

house church labelled

fig. 1

1280px-DuraEuropos-Church w fig & labels

fig. 2

baptistry reconstuction at Yale 222

fig. 3
Room for Baptisms – reconstruction at Yale University showing some of the paintings on the walls. Over the font on the back wall is a scene of the “Good Shepherd”. On the right wall (bottom) we can see a scene of the “Three Mary’s at the Empty Tomb”. The candidate for baptism stood in the font, in water, and water was poured over him.

Duraeuropusmap  2 2

fig. 4
Dura Europos. Just two blocks down the wall from the church was a Jewish synagogue. The walls of the synagogue were covered with scenes from the Hebrew scriptures.

In a series of posts we will take a look at the various historical styles of church architecture. This first in the series has little to do with style but does answer the question as to what came before Christians started building church buildings.


For a more detailed history of the development of the earliest churches see my online History of Christian Art here.

Also, an interesting website on the the transformation into a church of Peter’s House in Caparnaum here. That transformation, however, occurred in the 4th century and shows an actual change in the interior architecture of the house. Never-the-less you may find it interesting.


Picture Sources

fig. 1: “Dura Europos domus ecclesiae isometric view” by Marsyas – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

fig. 2: edited - ”DuraEuropos-Church”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

fig. 3: edited – Yale University

fig. 4: edited - ”Duraeuropusmap” by Map is in the public domain. – Simon James University of Leicester, School of Archeological Studies, after MFSED-H. David realisation. First published in french in 2005.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons