Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The New Homophiles and the “Gift” of “Gayness”

December 19th, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Do you remember the synod where changes were proposed to discipline and terminology in which it was assured that there would be no changes to doctrine? Of course, it’s not that easy. You can’t just do a 180 on discipline and terminology and expect doctrine to remain cogent, especially when there is no logical way to square the discipline with the doctrine. It’s common knowledge that the most disputed change concerned giving communion to divorced and re-”married” couples who have made no firm amendment to live in accord with God’s law. Another radical proposal made by the revolutionaries was to change the Church’s terminology regarding homosexuality. There was even language in the midterm Relatio addressing the gifts of homosexuality. The ambiguity as to whether homosexuals have gifts as humans just as everyone does or whether their gifts are unique to them as homosexuals seemed intent to apply the latter. Of course, all of these new ideas are not new at all. St. John Paul II along with Cardinal Ratzinger and later Pope Benedict XVI couldn’t have been more clear on both of these now “open” issues (of course they aren’t really open – this is all just one big game).

In my mind, the orthodox Catholic world has firmly and thoroughly squashed the idea of communion for the divorced and re-”married” (who live as though they are married). Not that it wasn’t squashed from the get-go, but it’s been discussed enough now that anyone paying attention really has no excuse to continue entertaining the idea. As to the question of the “gifts” of homosexuality and whether people ought to identify as homosexuals, this question seems to be getting less attention. To address this, I’d like to call your attention to Austin Ruse’s article in Crisis Magazine “Fifteen Minutes for the New Homophiles” where he provides a refute of the recent WaPo article celebrating what he calls the “New Homophiles”. Here’s the gist of it:

Conservative Christians, opponents of the gay agenda, opponents particularly of gay marriage, are so eager not to be considered bigots that the New Homophiles are acceptable to them. What a welcome relief. See, we’re not bigots. We like those celibate “gay” Christians! While dialogue and engagement are good things, Christians still need to take a closer look at New Homophile claims.

Prior to this article, Austin Ruse wrote a series of articles worth reading which provides a little more background.

The New Homophiles – December 20, 2013

The New Homophiles: A Closer Look – January 3, 2014

The New Homophiles and Their Critics – January 17, 2014

So what authority does Austin Ruse have? None that I know of, but I think he makes good sense. Nevertheless, we do have an important document by Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF:

If you read this letter, you’ll find that the “new homophiles” bring nothing new to the table. Cardinal Ratzinger already said it all. It’s not like he forgot or missed something (same goes for JP2 on communion/marriage). The only thing left to say is – which side are we on?

* In these cases we’re not talking even talking about dreaded 50 year old teachings that existed pre-Vatican II. We’re talking about teachings that were decisive less than 2 years ago.

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St. John Chrysostom Church Restores Beauty In Los Angeles

December 17th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

From the “Regina” blog


The church remained a humble, yet beautiful space until a series of “renovations” climaxed in 1995. In the last two years, however, the parishioners of St John’s have entrusted the sensitive restoration and decoration of the church to Enzo Selvaggi of Heritage Liturgical.

In this interview, Enzo discusses this enormously successful project.

Read more here.


Update on Ontario County Latin Mass

December 16th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

There are two upcoming events in the Ontario  County Latin Mass Community of which to take notice.  Both are being held at St. Bridget in Bloomfield with Fr. Peter Mottola.

On Monday, December 22nd, there will be Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 6:00 PM.

On Monday, January 5th, there will be Solemn Choral Vespers at 6:00 PM in celebration of the Epiphany.

All are invited to attend.



Update on Latin Mass Community / STA

December 15th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

These updates on the Latin Mass Community at St. Thomas the Apostle Church ScreenShot368 are only temporary until that community has its own website. Then we will add their website address to the “links” here.

(You might want to revisit the “Useful Links” if you haven’t been there in a while.  Basic resources, in particular, have been updated. Suggestions are welcome.)

Meanwhile, as a community service, here is some information announced yesterday, Dec. 14, at Mass at STA.

1. Registration:  Those who previously registered at St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish and now want to be members of the Latin Mass Community (which includes the English Mass at 9AM and the Latin Mass at 11:15AM each Sunday), and have their donations counted for that Latin Mass Community and receive a year end contributions statement,  should put name and address on the bright colored registration forms found at STA, and write in large letters across the form “Latin Mass Community.”  They need not fill in anything else, and they will be transferred at St. Kateri to the Latin Mass Community registration.  They should also use the Latin Mass (blue) envelopes in all collections.

2. Mass Scheduling:  To have a Mass said for a particular intention, call 585-484-1810 (or email ) and leave a message including the name of the person for whom the Mass will be offered, if the person is living or deceased, date and time of Mass desired (9AM or 11:15AM) and a phone number to reach you.

3. Christmas Confessions: Will be held at STA on Monday, December 22, 2014, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.  Confessors will include Fr. Bonsignore, Fr. Helfrich, and Fr. Van Lieshout.

In other news, children’s clothes and toys for ages newborn to 14 years will be collected on December 21st at the STA entrances. Info: 467-8747.  


It’s not DOG-ma, but….

December 13th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

One could not pick up a major secular US Newspaper last week without reading headlines that Pope Francis answered the 2000+ year old mystery — will I see my dog in heaven?  The problem was that there seemed to be no trace of such a happening in Catholic media, even the most notorious segment which anticipates that His Holiness will change anything and everything to minister “pastorally” to the whims of the laity.  It is a bit of a mystery that even denials weren’t published and that Fr. Rosica didn’t get on camera again.  At least I’ve searched what I can, and didn’t find any such reference.

However, I did find  article by Religion News looking into the matter, and publishing a full denial.  Given the rabid perversions of truth in the secular media, I’m inclined to believe it didn’t happen.  (Besides, might not Pope Francis  have said, if he were to comment: “Who am I to decide?” and left the matter unanswered?) Even before the Religion News story, I was disinclined to pursue the matter here on Cleansing Fire.

However, having raised the point, it might be useful to note that there is a relatively encouraging biblical passage for dog lovers in Isaiah 11: 6-9, regarding the reign of Christ:  The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”  If the adder and asp are going to be there, why not think dogs and cats might be there too, in a fullness of creation being made new?  That of course does not answer the real questions: “Will MY dog be there?” “Will he be the dog I knew and loved?” Or will it be a creation of new dogs?  Obviously, since Pope Francis seems not to have wandered into this morass at all, we can continue to wonder about all the things we don’t know and must await, as it says in First Corinthians 2:9:  ”But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him….”

Again, I was satisfied enough to feel no need to comment, until I opened today’s mail.  There I found a Christmas Card from Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, Rector of the Cathedral which houses Cardinal Dolan’s cathedra — yes, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  I get a Christmas Card from there each year, and I almost didn’t look at it closely, until the manger-scene cover jumped out at me.  There, next to the Blessed Virgin statue, near the empty manger (obviously awaiting the Christ Child), with shepherd and sheep in attendance (how did they get there before the Birth?), with a mystery figure in a gold robe and fedora hat (a king? or a tax collector to nab the gold?) — there, center stage in the Cathedral’s manger scene, is — a Yellow Labrador Retriever!  Oh, my, what is the message from Cardinal Dolan et al this time?  You decide; my mind is blown!

St Patrick Lab at Manger




Pray for Gerhard Cardinal Müller in his Stand against Heretics

December 11th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

ScreenShot367LifeSiteNews last evening had a remarkable story regarding Cardinal Müller.  It is remarkable because who even knew that such a thing had to be said?  Isn’t it obvious?   But the Cardinal, chosen by Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, is in a particular ‘hot seat.’

In the spirit of Pope Benedict, who held that office before becoming Pope, Cardinal Müller is speaking the TRUTH clearly, and the TRUTH is Christ.

There is much about Cardinal Müller  that reminds me of Cardinal Burke, and much that may put him in the same kind of dangers.  Cardinal Müller was one of the early identifiers of the heresy being promulgated by Cardinal Kasper of Germany, and at times he is the lone voice for doctrine.  That is his role.

May God strengthen him to continue to speak out as he has, and protect him from the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

It is not enough to read about him.  Please pray for him.

Here are some of the highlights from LifeSiteNews:

“The attempt to separate the Catholic Church’s teaching from her practice is “heresy” according to the Vatican’s highest doctrinal official.”

“Each division between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ of the faith would be a reflection of a subtle Christological ‘heresy,’” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a recent gathering of the International Theological Commission. Such a division could only be the result of “a division in the mystery of the eternal Word of the Father, who became flesh.”

“Muller’s remarks were published earlier this month by the Vatican’s own newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.”

“As prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church’s highest doctrinal authority under the pope, Cardinal Müller has been one of the principal opponents of the proposal by Cardinal Walter Kasper and the German Catholic bishops to change the practice of the Church to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Sacraments without a change in their lives.”

“Catholic teaching holds that marriage is an unbreakable bond, and thus the Church does not recognize the existence of divorce. Such people, therefore, are understood to be in a state of continuous, unrepentant adultery, a mortal sin that bars them from receiving Communion or the other sacraments.”

Follow the Money

“The pressure to allow this change has grown out of Germany, where thousands of people in “irregular unions” every year are opting out of the government-sponsored Church tax for which the German Catholic Church relies for the vast majority of its income. At October’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, the push was expanded from allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, to “accepting and valuing” the homosexual “orientation.”

“The bishops, cardinals and others who have supported Kasper’s suggestion, have in the main repeated the assertion that Catholic teaching cannot be changed, but continue to insist that the practice of withholding Communion and other sacraments from those in adulterous unions can.”

If the Synod can hold out against the pressures coming from Cardinal Kasper et al (and who knows for sure who ‘al” is?), it will be of course the protection of the Holy Spirit, and Cardinal Müller’s willingness to serve Him.


Here’s Why You Hate Round Churches

December 11th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

by  on the Patheos Website Here

Have you noticed that nobody loves modern churches? Nobody. I mean NOBODY.


Seriously. Have you ever met anyone who sees a church like this and and heard them whisper, “I just love that church! It is so inspiring!”

interior round

That’s because these buildings were not designed to inspire awe or to remind you about the presence of God. They are  people centered, not God centered. They are auditoria not temples.

There is a gut level negative respond to these buildings. Even those who have got used to them make comments like, “Well, it’s our church and we’re doing the best we can.” Worse still, they have grown up with these monstrosities and they do not know of anything else.

I have spent the last week in central Missouri worshipping in a…       Read More Here

Thank you Raymond Rice for forwarding to us this link to Patheos.



Auriesville Coliseum

December 10th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Further to Christian’s point in the comment section of the above post, here is the Coliseum at Auriesville about 10 minutes before Mass began:



The Christifidelis Newsletter

December 10th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

I just finished reading the latest (excellent) Christifidelis Newsletter published by the St. Joseph Foundation, and which has recently relocated from San Antonio, TX to Hopedale, Ohio.  The website is being updated too, so I was reading — gasp! — a paper copy.  Many of Cleansing Fire’s readers know that the SJF was a key force and of immeasurable assistance to the laity in resisting church closures.   Some of you came out last May to hear Philip Gray, JCL speak at “Ask a Canon Lawyer,” so I won’t reprise that content-laden presentation.  For any who don’t know, the path to reopening St. Thomas the Apostle began at the St. Joseph Foundation, and with Mr. Gray.  

St. Joseph's Bench at Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Orlando FL

St. Joseph’s Bench
at Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Orlando FL

But, for now, I just wanted to share a few highlights from the St. Joseph Foundation’s most recent newsletter, which is a retrospective on the 30 years since their founding, and the accomplishments in vindicating the “Rights of All the Faithful.”  Of particular interest may be their data on Latin Masses.  The founder/publisher/chairman, Charles Wilson, reports that in 1984, when the Foundation was founded, there was not a single Latin Mass celebrated weekly in the U.S.  Last year, there were over 400 such regular EF Masses held each weekend, yet still less than 1% of all Masses of Sunday obligation, and about 2 per diocese, on average. 

Here are a few other highlights of interest from this recent newsletter, the first of a 2-part series:

“I doubt if there is a Catholic in North America whose right to the word of God has not been violated to  a greater or lesser degree over the past fifty years….”

Re the Synod: “One thing is clear.  There are bishops, archbishops and cardinals who give every indication of doubting two thousand years of Catholic teaching on the nature of marriage and human sexuality.”

In citing the particulars of one case:  “Then the diocesan bishop unwittingly presented a legal opening.  In his zeal to crush any opposition to the new catechetical program, he declared that the parish had become “dysfunctional” and, unless the parishioners agreed to undergo psychological counseling, the Blessed Sacrament would be removed and Mass would not be celebrated there until it was determined that a ‘reconciled Community existed.’  The Foundation prepared an appeal and arranged for a prominent Italian canon lawyer to represent them in Rome.  In the end, … the Blessed Sacrament was restored and Mass was again celebrated.”

“It is shameful that Catholics who believe their right to true teaching has been violated have so few remedies.  Besides, if many don’t know what true teaching is in the first place, how can they tell if their right to it is being violated?”

“In some parishes the reception of first penance was delayed until the fourth grade…for confirmation until the candidates were in senior high school.”  … “[Sometimes] informal solutions work best because a formal process would take so long that the candidates for confirmation would have graduated from high school and college by the time the matter is resolved.  In one case, parents arranged to take a group of children to a nearby diocese in Mexico by chartered bus… a whole convoy of buses…. “The whole thing was a great success….”  And Mr. Wilson adds, with no doubt a twinkle in his eye:  “I would have loved to have seen the faces on the DRE’s when those young people marched into the office with their certificates of confirmation in hand and asked that they be recorded in the parish registers.”

Regarding the “turning around” of the altar, “Priests who persisted in celebrating Mass ‘facing the wall’ were soon brought to heel.  In one egregious case, diocesan law made the celebration of Mass ad orientem a crime, for which the penalty was suspension.”  The St. Joseph Foundation argued the case to Rome and “the Congregation for Divine Worship agreed” with the Foundation.

“…some 1,000 priests have been trained to celebrate the EF and many have reported that this training influences how they celebrate the OF.”

“The Foundation has been active in assisting private associations and has prepared canonical opinions to support their position and refute false claims that their assets are in fact temporal goods of the Church.”

These are just a few quotes from the recent newsletter.  To get on the St. Joseph Foundation mailing list, write to them at 85882 Waterworks Rd., Hopedale, Ohio 43976 or email to   The new President of the St. Joseph Foundation is Philip Gray, JCL and I’m sure he’d appreciate hearing from those who are delighted to have STA reopened.  I’m also sure that support would be welcomed from those of us who have been there on the front lines, and know that so many of our brothers and sisters in other dioceses desperately need the help which Mr. Gray and the Foundation offer.  They do not charge for the Foundation’s services, but rely on our donations.  This work is too important not to support.



Upcoming “Latin Community Masses”

December 5th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

From the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Bulletin for this coming weekend:


Remember:  Bishop Matano will be celebrating the 9AM English Mass on Christmas Day; Fr. Bonsignore will celebrate the 11:15 Latin Mass on Christmas, with Bishop Matano in attendance “in choro” (choir dress.)



The ‘already’ entering our ‘not yet.’

December 4th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

From the New Liturgical Movement December 1, 2014

The Book of Revelation: Guide to Catholic Worship by PETER KWASNIEWSKI

Liturgy is anticipated Parousia, the ‘already’ entering our ‘not yet.’

…the book of Revelation offered help to the nascent church in discerning what elements of Old Covenant worship to retain within the new worship of the New Covenant, inasmuch as the new both concludes and includes the old. In short: the Church can, and should, have buildings, ministers, candlesticks, chalices, incense, vestments, because her worship, being ordered to and derived from Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all that the old worship pointed to with these typological symbols, as yet to be fulfilled. They do not cease to be the symbols we need in order to perceive and enter into communion with Christ; they acquire a new purpose as symbols that point to a reality accomplished, a salvation won on the Cross, a glory shared with the faithful who may now enter heaven.

Read More


Old but new !

December 1st, 2014, Promulgated by Monk

As a long time member of STA parish, I attended the 9:00 am Novus Ordo Mass this past Sunday. It was so exciting to attend a Sunday Mass again at STA after four long years! I saw many familiar faces in the congregation. There was great joy in seeing the beauty of the Church once again. I am so grateful to be able to receive Communion again kneeling at the Communion rail….a true gift! As much as the Church and people were all so familiar to me, there was something new in the air. This is a new community, familiar but different, different in a good way! The traditional liturgy that was faithfully maintained by STA parishioners and their pastors over the years has become the seed of a new beginning that will grow and be stronger than the original STA parish. We are all thankful to Bishop Matano for creating this opportunity for the Latin Mass Community to grow and spread its goodness throughout the diocese. I truly believe this new model of a Latin Mass Community will not be unique to just our diocese but will be a model for other dioceses through the country to emulate.

Here are a few photos from the Novus Ordo Mass.









An Apostle, Not a Doubter

December 1st, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

The Inaugural Masses of the Latin Mass Community at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church

Here are a few video clips from last Sunday’s (English and Latin) Masses at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Irondequoit, New York. You have no doubt read of the amazing move of the Traditional Latin Mass Community into its new home at Saint Thomas the Apostle. The church has been effectively closed for four years. An English Novus Ordo Mass will also be celebrated each Sunday at 9 A.M. in addition to the Latin Extraordinary Form Mass at 11:15. The move was made last Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent.

Brief Video Clips: (Click on the Links)

Father Bonsignore’s Homily During the Novus Ordo English Mass at 9 A.M.

Entrance Procession at the Novus Ordo (English) Mass

Offertory Incensing at the Latin Extraordinary Form Mass at 11:15 A.M.

Preface, Sanctus, Agnus Dei of the Latin Mass

Consecration and Elevation at the Latin Mass

Holy, Holy, Holy – Lord I am not worthy – Final Blessing and Dismissal of Novus Ordo English Mass



Preview: Today at STA

November 30th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

WOW may not be the canonically correct word, but WOW!  I attended both Masses at St. Thomas the Apostle today, and was awestruck at the sense of coming together, of the Divine Presence, of the gratitude, of the joy!  It seemed at moments as walking around inside of a dream, especially for those returning to STA after four years of closure.  The perfection of detail was everywhere evident, and the sense of reverence in the sacred space, before and after Mass, was telling.  There will be some quibbles about numbers of attendees.  My personal estimate is very close to 1000, overall, with maybe 3/4 at the Novus Ordo, and 1/4 at the Extraordinary Form.  I didn’t count; I hope someone did with accuracy.  Sometimes the number of hosts consumed is a more reliable index.  There was video coverage which I was told came from Time Warner, so perhaps that is worth searching out for additional information.


Archive 2014 4Q 003


Father Bonsignore gave simple, gracious, warm and direct preaching that was welcoming and inclusive.  I have the impression that many at the 9AM Mass had never quite experienced (or at least not recently) the Novus Ordo celebrated with such care, devotion and joyous ritual.  We can hope that all will continue to be hungry for more of such meaningful liturgy.   For myself, it was the first time, ever, that I experienced the “hermeneutic of continuity” in anything other than an intellectual way, between the two forms of the Mass.  I am not going to try to analyze it further; only to share that I experienced it in a real, convincing and overpowering way, and not just regarding the two forms of the Mass but connecting to our heritage as well.

I only took a few pictures when I saw that much better photographers than I were present.  They are invited to post as much as they can of the photo documentary.  In the meantime, I share (above) the picture of the altar prepared for the ad orientem celebration of the Latin Mass.  And, below, is a picture I received from the Anglican Ordinariate who were invited by Bishop Matano to use the 9AM Mass for that community to continue to share worship, in the absence of having their own new celebrant.  After Mass, Bernie Dick took the following picture of some of the members of the Anglican Ordinariate with Father Bonsignore.   How did this experience touch you?  Please share, and add your comments.


Anglican Ordinariate at STA 11-30-14


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – December

November 30th, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your December 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 December:

Universal: That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.

For Evangelization: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.


A Walkaround Guide to STA

November 28th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Here are 10 pages of the St. Thomas the Apostle “Walkaround” guide for a self-directed tour.  It is being archived here for now, until the STA Community has the opportunity to provide a site.  And getting it posted before this Sunday was a goal so that anyone interested can print it out and look for items of interest.  I’m going to try to find where the “missing brick” should be. 

The guide is a bit out of date in the “how much would it cost” area, but even that is interesting.  Enjoy! (Click to enlarge document pages).

St Thomas Apostle History 010

 St Thomas Apostle History 008St Thomas Apostle History 009


Read the rest of this entry »


Something Important Happens Here!

November 28th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

Do you remember when Catholic churches used to scream “SOMETHING IMPORTANT HAPPENS HERE!”? Do you remember travelling and stopping into a the local Catholic church to see what it looked like and expecting to be wowed or satisfied?

web IMG_0126 647_edited-1


TLM and STA together — next Sunday, November 30th

November 23rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Next Sunday, November 30, 2014, is the first Sunday of the new Church year, i.e. the First Sunday of Advent.  On that day, in a historic event for the Rochester Diocese, St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit will reopen after being effectively closed for four years! And the re-opening will be marked by the very promising presence of two Masses in the Roman Rite:  the Novus Ordo which is easily recognized as the “regular” Sunday Mass in parish churches, also called Mass in the “ordinary form.” That particular Mass will be held at 9:00 AM next Sunday, and each Sunday thereafter.  At 11:15 AM next Sunday, and each Sunday thereafter, will be celebration of the Mass in the “extraordinary form,” which was our Catholic heritage for over a millennium.   The former will be celebrated in English; the latter will be celebrated in Latin.

Much preparation has gone into this momentous occasion, as volunteers arrived on site yesterday to clean and prepare St. Thomas the Apostle so that it glows.  Joy has abounded as both communities become one.  It was  heartwarming as well as humorous as Jean and Denise had us stop work at noon to pause and say the Angelus, with some saying “Holy Ghost” and others saying “Holy Spirit.”   Same Person. Oneness in all that matters.  Thank you, Lord, for such a wondrous gift!  And for such gentle sharing.


What follows below are excerpts from the last two Latin Mass bulletins which will be helpful to those not at the Latin Mass today (the last one at St. Stanislaus.) Hopefully, until we have a joint bulletin, this can help a bit.  But, first, here is a summary of some of the content of Father Bonsignore’s sermon today.  He reflected on how the 21-1/2 years at St. Stan’s had been like an incubator for the presence of the Latin Mass (extraordinary form) in the Rochester Diocese, and how this has led us to where we are today, and to Bishop Matano’s having faith in our ability to continue and to expand our growth at St. Thomas the Apostle.  He was joyful that Father Peter Helfrich will be hearing confessions before Mass (from 10:30 AM until about 11:10 AM) and also after the Latin Mass.  People were delighted to hear that he will be with us too!

Father Bonsignore reminded us that all is in God’s hands, to pray and to support financially these efforts.  There is still much that we don’t know, and which is in the process of being developed, like the envelope system, for example.  We are a “work in progress.” He assured us of Latin Masses continuing and being held on the same dates for which a stipend has already been given, but at the 11:15 time at St. Thomas. He exhorted all to charity, charity, charity as we build a new community.  We have been so blessed, we should be among the most charitable.  He called this a “Beautiful work for the glory of God.”  And rejoiced that we’ll be able to have “coffee hours” and “plenty of parking” in a safe environment.

Father also contrasted the difference in atmosphere, from the Traditional Devotional of St. Stan’s to the Modern Monastic of St. Thomas, which he said “captures the sacred” and mentioned the “feeling of the transcendent” and how just being in St. Thomas makes him want to pray.  He noted, for those still unfamiliar with St. Thomas, that the  altar “is central, prominent and majestic” and he emphasized the sense of the “Divine Presence in the Tabernacle.”  Fr. Bonsignore also remarked that we are not about “sheep stealing” from other parishes, but should be about bringing back those who have left the Church.

Father Bonsignore called our attention to mention of the Extraordinary Form in Bishop Matano’s new Sacramental Guidelines, and assured us that it is consistent with all that we have previously understood.  He assured us of his personal commitment: “If it were not a good idea, I’d be depressed” [but, instead, he is joyful.]  He thanked the altar servers who took training yesterday, the ushers who helped prepare, the cleaning crew, and everyone who has contributed to preparation for this move.  Then, wistfully, he bid adieu to any who are not making the move, but given the fullness of St. Stan’s today it seemed that most wouldn’t want to miss this experience!

Then we heard that Father Condon had promised Father Bonsignore the Diocese’s commitment to “Liturgical Excellence in both forms of the Roman Rite.”  If we were allowed to break into applause, we probably would have done so.  Father Bonsignore closed as he had begun, that we are called to be St. Thomas’s “apostles”, not St. Thomas “doubters.”

14-11-16 TLM bulletin p3 Mass Intentions excerpts






14-11-16 TLM bulletin p4 excerpts




 14-11-23 TLM bulletin p4 excerpts








14-11-23 TLM bulletin p3 excerpts











Coming soon (this week):

“A Walk-around Guide to St. Thomas the Apostle Church”

by Diocesan Historian, the late Father Robert F. McNamara.





The Loss of the Unifying

November 20th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

The deterioration, degradation, dumb-ing down, localizing and secularizing of Catholic liturgy over the last 45 years, in the Rochester diocese, in the United States, and indeed throughout much of the world, has removed the major unifying factor of the church. Some would say that the pope is the unifying factor of the Church, but that isn’t the case. The unifying factor is –or should be– the Eucharistic liturgy. This essential fact to appreciate came to mind this morning as I read the following paragraph in “Byzantine Theology: historical trends and doctrinal themes” by John Meyendorff.

In Eastern Christendom, the Eucharistic liturgy, more than anything else, is identified with the reality of the Church itself, for it manifests both the humiliation of God in assuming mortal flesh, and the mysterious presence among men of the eschatological kingdom. It points at the central realities of the faith not through concepts but through symbols and signs intelligible to the entire worshiping congregation. This centrality of the Eucharist is actually the real key to the Byzantine understanding of the church, both hierarchical and corporate; the Church is universal, but truly realized only in the local Eucharistic assembly, at which a group of sinful men and women becomes fully the people of God.

This Eucharistic-centered concept of the Church led the Byzantines to embellish and adorn the sacrament with an elaborate and sometimes cumbersome ceremonial, and with an extremely rich hymnography, in daily, weekly, paschal, and yearly cycle besides the sacramental ecclesiology implied by the Eucharist itself, these hymnographical cycles constitute a real source of theology. For centuries the Byzantines not only heard theological lesson and wrote and read theological treatises; they also sang and contemplated daily the Christian mystery in a liturgy, whose wealth of expression cannot be found elsewhere in the Christian world. Even after the fall of Byzantium, when Eastern Christians were deprived of schools, books, and all intellectual leadership, the liturgy remained the chief teacher and guide of Orthodoxy. Translated into the various vernacular languages of the Byzantine world–Slavic, Georgian, Arabic, and dozens of others–the liturgy was also a powerful expression of unity in faith and sacramental life.

The arrival and proliferation of ‘liturgy committees’ with their silliness of the week programs has done much damage to the unifying nature of the liturgy. I remember a visiting priest in a parish I belonged to being asked by the reader and announcer “What is the theme today?” The priest asked “What theme?” The person explained “The theme of your sermon and Mass”. The priest answered “What it always is, The life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

The typical Catholic Mass in the United States always seems to be about something else.


Church Architecture Styles: Gothic

November 18th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

Previously in this series:

1. “House” Churches

2. Early Christian

3. Byzantine

4. Romanesque

5. “Pilgrimage Churches”

The style we call ’Gothic’originated toward the middle of the 12th century in the northern part of France, surrounding Paris, called the “Île-de-France”.

(Click on pictures to see larger images)


Fig. 1

The architectural characteristics of the Gothic style resulted from the pursuit of three perceived needs. First, there was a desire to increase the amount of light flowing into churches.  Because of their thick heavy walls and supports and small windows the Romanesque churches had been rather dark. Second, a more open plan was desired to better accommodate the needs of the liturgy and larger crowds. Third, there was the somewhat vain and dubious desire to attain spectacular heights. In was in arriving at solutions that the Gothic style emerged.

As the masons accomplished their tasks and increasingly attained the three goals, aesthetic and spiritual interpretations came to mind that were inspired by the results 2. The increased light flowing into the new churches through large stained glass windows began to be understood as a metaphor for divine luminosity.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

The more open spacious plan began to be understood as a metaphor for divine unity and harmony.

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

Increased height suggested soaring spirituality.

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

These metaphysical interpretations inspired patrons and masons to even greater achievements along the same lines.

Fig. 5

Fig. 5

The exteriors of the great Gothic cathedrals appear as huge skeletons to viewers: spiky piers and pinnacles, and soaring buttresses –but no walls, no meat. Where walls would normally be, there are windows. To reach the first two goals of Gothic builders –to admit more light into the church and to open up the interior space—the number and sizes of windows needed to be increased and solid walls and thick bulky supports, decreased.


Fig. 6

The builders did that by concentrating and directing the weight of the vaults and overall structure down more vertical support lines to relatively small points on the ground. By doing that they were able to reduce or even eliminate walls.

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

The resulting view from the inside of many of these magnificent structures can often remind people of a birdcage, from the bird’s point of view.

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Not only was more light allowed to flow into the building, and the floor space opened-up, but the structural supports, thinned and lengthened, appeared as vertical lines leading the eyes upward. Furthermore, the increased effectiveness and efficiency in the support or thrust system allowed the construction of ever taller buildings. With this, all three goals were met and resulted in a style of church architecture that has become an icon of Christianity in the West.

The basic architectural form of the Gothic style is the pointed arch. It directs the weight above downward in a more vertical direction than the round Romanesque arch. This allowed for thinner piers and walls 3. The more outward thrust of the round arch required thick piers and walls to keep the arches from caving in.

Fig. 8

Fig. 9

The same general principle applies to the pointed Gothic vaults compared to the round Romanesque vaults. The ribs used in Gothic vaults, however, may have had a more functional use in directing stress downward than the more decorative ribs of the round Romanesque groin vaults. The ribs of the Gothic vaults were apparently used to support the placement of the webbing material until the vaults were completed. They directed the stress thrust of the web material down to the vertical piers between the windows. Ribbed vaults are also a major architectural form characteristic of the Gothic style.

Fig. 9

Fig. 10

Finally, the so called flying buttress is a prominent architectural characteristic of Gothic. It transferred the stress, weight, or thrust from the interior vaults and piers to ‘flying’ buttresses that flew over the roofs of the side aisles of the building to tower buttresses outside the structure. Some would argue that the buttresses actually work by pushing against the clerestory piers, counteracting the thrust from the vaults and locking the elements into a rigid structure. Whatever the case may be these buttresses  lightened the work of the piers inside the building so that they could be less massive.

Fig. 11

Fig. 11

Fig. 12

Fig. 12

Stained glass windows are also, of course, a characteristic of the Gothic style 4. In the quest for more abundant light came the increase in the space devoted to stained glass windows Stained glass was already in use in the Romanesque style. One aspect of the Gothic windows in particular is uniquely Gothic: tracery. Tracery is the stonework elements that support the glass in a Gothic window. The term probably derives from the ‘tracing floors’ on which the complex patterns of late Gothic windows were laid out. There are different types of tracery worthy of study but we will keep it simple here by just illustrating a couple of  examples.

Fig. 13

Fig. 13

Fig. 14

Fig. 14

The Gothic style lasted into the 16th century after passing through different phases or developments. The one country that resisted the Gothic was Italy. The cathedral in Milan was the only really true Gothic church constructed in Italy. Some others make use of pointed arches but do not stress height or utilize flying buttress. They are labelled “Italian Gothic” but are clearly in a class of their own that has little resemblance to the “French Gothic style”. England produced a version of Gothic more closely allied with the French style 5.

Fig. 16

Fig. 15  Milan Cathedral, Italy

Fig. 16

Fig. 16  Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. ‘Italian’ Gothic

The Italians actually developed a style in conscious opposition to the Gothic. Called the “Renaissance” style, we will explore that next in this series. I hope some folks out there are finding this series helpful even though it is rather academic.



1 The term ‘Gothic’ originally was used as a term of derision, meaning ‘barbaric’. It was used by Italians of the Renaissance Period who saw the new ‘French” style as a rejection of classical forms. The root word of ‘Gothic’ is Goth which is the name of a variety of barbarian tribes that had immigrated or otherwise overrun the Roman Empire but settled mostly in the north and in Spain.

2 This a debatable point as there are differences of opinion as to whether theological thinking inspired the Gothic style or whether the style developed as simple architectural development. I have tried to represent these two views by offering a possible interplay but granting the initiative to architectural developments.

3 This is somewhat relative. Gothic piers may have in some cases remained as thick as their Romanesque precursors but the space covered by the arches or vaults was greater in the Gothic structures.

4 Stained glass was actually an Arabic innovation and import into Europe from the near East. It had been used in Romanesque churches but the Gothic windows were so much larger.

5 English Gothic Cathedral naves and choirs are generally longer than the French Gothic structures. They also tend to end in squared off apses or East ends rather than the rounded style of the continent. While transepts in the French Gothic style seldom extended very far, if at all, beyond the limits of the exterior walls of the side aisles, they obviously do so in the English style. Two or even three transept arms were often used in English Gothic cathedrals in contrast to one in the French style. Elaborate tracery and ribbing was also more common in England. In all though the English cathedrals are recognizably ‘Gothic’.


Picture Credits/Sources: Fig. 1 Il-de-France By TUBS [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. Fig. 2 AmirwikiThis file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Fig. 3 Fig. 4 Bernie Dick. Fig. 5. Taxiarchos228 at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons. Fig. 6 Saint-Denis’ Basilica in Paris – sought approval to use but no response. “Jeff Titelius |”. Fig. 7 This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Hill. author: w:it:utente:Hill {{PD}}. Fig. 8 By Bordeled (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. Fig. 9 edited by Bernie Dick, artist unknown. Fig. 10 By Magnus Manske (Made by Magnus Manske.) [CC-BY-SA-1.0 (, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. Labelled by Bernie Dick. Fig. 11 labelled by Bernie Dick, artist’s name has been lost. Fig. 12. labelled by Bernie Dick, (Passport To Design website); approval to use sought but no response. Fig. 13 By User:Magadan, modified TTaylor (wikimedia commons) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Common. Fig. 14 By Dmitry Tonkonog and Ksenia Fedosova (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons. Fig. 15 By Jiuguang Wang (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons. Fig. 16 photo by [[User:Radomil|Radomil}}<br>{{GFDL}} The interior of Santa Croce, Florence