The CAPG's Blog
Are there any circumstances in which the priest may reveal what he has hear in confession?
The priest may never, under any circumstances reveal what he has heard in a sacramental confession; it is never lawful to manifest the least thing told by a penitent in confession. It is a grave sin, a sacrilege to make known the least sin, the knowledge of which was acquired by a sacramental confession. Not even to save his own life or the life of the penitent, not even to save the soul of the penitent, may the priest break the seal of confession. in most countries, the civil law recognizes the sacred character of this seal and does not oblige the priest from this solemn obligation of secrecy; outside of confession, he may not speak of confessional matter even to the penitent without the latter's express permission. What is told in confession ends there, as far as the confessor is concerned. History records that the priesthood has been true to this secret trust; priests have been severely punished, many exiled, some martyred, because they refused to reveal the secrets of the confessional. Catholic people recognize this fact and know that their trust and confidence will never be betrayed by their confessor.
Source: Our Young People, 1916
The Priest is the Church's guardian
The Church is the spouse of Christ, but the priest is her guardian. The Church is an army in battle array, but the priest is her general. The Church is a vessel sailing through the storms of persecution, but the priest is her pilot. The Church is the mystic body of Christ and the faithful are its members, but the priest is the principal member of this mystic body. By the eyes of the priest Jesus Christ watches over His flock; by the feet of the priest Jesus carries to every nation the gospel of peace; by the heart of the priest our Lord diffuses everywhere that divine charity without which all is dead. The Church is the people of acquisition, bought at a great price; but the priest is the leader, the teacher, the prince of this chosen generation. The Church is the sacred edifice, built by divine Wisdom itself; but the priest is the administrator of this palace; he is the pillar of the Church upon which rests the whole world. God the Father created the world without the priest, but it is only through him that he saves it. God the Son has redeemed the world without the priest, but is is only by him that he applies His blood to the souls of men, and secures the fruits of His copious redemption. You can hardly name a single blessing of the Holy Ghost of which the priest is not the chosen instrument. Indeed, as St. Bernard declares that all graces come to us through Mary, so we can say in truth that all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts come to us through the priest.
Source: The Catholic Priesthood, by Fr. Michael Muller, 1885
Why does the Catholic Church make use of the Latin Language at her public services?
The Rev. Thomas F. Conkley, D.D. answers this question in a manner that ought to satisfy anyone anxious to know, he says:
Almighty God understands the Latin language, and our prayers are said to Him, not to the congregation.
The Catholic Church is ruled by the most learned and most brilliant intellects in the world. Consequently, they must have a good reason for everything they do or believe. Hence in advance, we ought to assume that if there is anything in the Catholic Church we do not understand, the fault is our own, not the fault of the Catholic Church, and that more education on our part will reveal the reason for such belief or practice of Catholics.
The Catholic Church has been in the business of saving men's souls for nineteen hundred years. She has had more experience than any other institution in the history of the world. She must, therefore, have a good, solid reason for everything she does, otherwise she would not continue the custom. Therefore, when she uses the Latin language in her public and official religious services we know that a very wise motive lies behind the use of Latin.
The Catholic Church uses the Latin language because Latin is NOT a foreign language. The use of Latin makes the Catholic Church the only international cosmopolitan, universal Church, and prevents it from being a mere national church.
The Catholic Church uses the language because Latin is stable, permanent, unchangeable. So is the Catholic Church fixed, stable, permanent, unchangeable.
A Catholic learns in his earliest years to follow the services in the Latin language, ans wherever he roams over the broad earth, he finds the same holy Latin tongue, the same sonorous Latin phrases, the same unchangeable Latin sentences, the same century old Latin diction, saturated by the blood of martyrs, and consecrated by saints and sages. This is one of the things that makes a Catholic feel at home anywhere in the world.
Every Catholic prayer book contains an exact translation of the Latin prayers at Mass and at all other public religious services, so that every Catholic is quite familiar with everything that is said. Ask your Catholic neighbor for a prayer book and see for yourself.
The Latin language is used only at the official, public religious services of the Catholic Church. In private devotion, Catholics can say their prayers in whatever language they please; and prayers said by the priest with the congregation are always in their own language.
The Catholic Church is the Church of all nations; therefore it uses a language intelligible to educated people in all nations. It would be difficult to think of the Catholic Church as the universal, world-wide Church of Christ if it used the English language exclusively!
Modern languages are changing continually. The unchanging Catholic Church cannot use a changing medium as the vehicle of its expression.
The Catholic Church uses Latin because priests and vast numbers of people know the Latin language. The possession of such knowledge should be a badge of distinction, rather than an object of complaint.
To assist at religious services in the Latin language no more interferes with our devotion than assisting at grand opera in Italian, French, or German interferes with our appreciation of the music.
If you want to know what Shumann-Heink or Tetrazzini is singing, you must take a libretto with you; if you wish to known what the priest is saying at Mass, take your prayer book with you.
The use of Latin beats down national and racial barriers, and tends toward the universal brotherhood of man, since all nation kneel side by side, and recite the self-same prayers, in the self-same Latin tongue.
Objection to the use of Latin comes, not from Catholics, who appreciate the verbal dignity of Latin, but from non-Catholics who do not know Latin at all. Catholics do not bother their heads about what non-Catholics do; they have quite enough to do to attend to their own business. This would be a good rule for every one to follow.
Source: Our Your People, 1916
It is the priest who preserved society from corruption and utter destruction. Far better a few good priests filled with zeal and self- denial than a crowd of worldly-minded priests who seek only themselves. Where the priests are few and virtuous, the priesthood is respected and the people are well-disposed. Where, on the contrary, the priests are numerous and worldly-minded the priesthood is but little esteemed, grace is abused, and the people become indifferent, and hardened. and easily take scandal.
Source: The Catholic Priesthood, Rev. Fr. Michael Muller 1885
Efficacy of the Mass
At the hour of death the Masses you have heard will be your greatest consolation. Every Mass will go with you to judgment and plead for pardon. At every Mass you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins, more of less, according to your fervor.
Assisting devoutly at Mass you render to the Sacred Humanity of our Lord the greatest homage. He supplies for many of our negligences and omissions. He forgives you all your unknown sins which you never confessed.
You afford the souls in purgatory the greatest possible relief.
One Mass heard during your life will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after your death
You are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which would otherwise have befallen you. You shorten your purgatory by every Mass.
Every Mass wins for you a higher degree of glory in heaven.
Source: Our Young People, 1916
Cardinal Newman's Summary of the Mass
To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming as the Mass said as it is among us. I could attend Masses forever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words, it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is not the invocation merely, but is I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope and the interpretation of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are the instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfill their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action. Quickly they go; for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon; as when it was said in the beginning: "What thou doest, do quickly." Quickly they pass; for the Lord Jesus goes with them as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass; because as the lightning which shineth from one part of the heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass; for they are as the words of Moses when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the name of the Lord as He passed by "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth." And as Moses on the mountain, so we too "make haste and bow our heads to the earth and adore." So we all around, each in his place look out for the great Advent, "Waiting for the moving of the water." Each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intentions, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation; not painfully and hopelessly following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but like a concert of musical instruments, each different but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our part with God's priest supporting him yet guided by him. There are little children there and old men and simple laborers and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving; there are innocent maidens and there are penitent sinners; but out of these may minds rises one Eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and the scope of it." Cardinal Newman.
Source: The Mass and Vestments of the Catholic Church, 1909, Msgr. John Walsh
Many priests offer to God their prayers, alms, fasts, and mortifications; but few offer themselves, and make an oblation of their hearts. They always secretly reserve to themselves the disposal of their own will. This division if displeasing to God; it is not the sacrifice of Abel, but of Cain, who offered to God the fruits of the earth, but reserved to himself his heart and will, as St. Augustine says.
Source: The Catholic Priesthood, by Rev. Fr. Michael Muller 1885
A Catholic must believe every truth
A Catholic must believe every truth revealed by the Almighty, be it great or small, as God cannot fail either in small things or great. The offense which we do to God by denying even the smallest article of faith, is as great as if we denied an important one, or all of them together; for, is is just as if we said: God has been deceived, or He has deceived us in revealing this article. Whether this is said of great and important articles, or of one that is small, makes but little difference; or if we desire to make a difference, we must say that it is a greater offense to God to ascribe to Him a fault in a small matter than in a great; for, what can be more blasphemous than to maintain that the Almighty has been deceived in a trifling matter, or that He intends to deceive us?
They should ponder on this, who sometimes entertain doubts about an article of faith, or even go so far as to say that in some matters, they agree with non-Catholics, and consider them right. These are no longer Catholics. Their faith is lost; and if they do not repent, as St. Thomas did, they will go to perdition, because they are incredulous. They are disobedient who obey nine of the Commandments but not the tenth. What is the fate of the incredulous? Christ Himself pointed it out when He said: " Who believes not in the Son, will not see life, but the wrath of God will remain with him." (John viii)
Source: Life of the Saints, by Fr. Franz X. Weninger.
Day 48 - April 21 - Easter Sunday - Annual Confessions
If Easter were prolonged to Pentecost, you would not go to Confession until Pentecost, or if the latter did not come around for ten years, you would go to Confession only every ten years. Indeed, if the Church did not give you a commandment about it, you would not go to Confession until death. What do you think of that, my dear brethren? Does it not mean that you have neither regret for having offended God, Who requires you to go to Confession, nor love for God, Who requires you to make your Easter Communion? Ah you will say to me, that's all very well. We do not make our Easter duty without knowing why.
Ah! You know nothing at all about it! You do it from habit, to be able to say you have made your Easter duty, or, if you would prefer to speak the truth, you would say that you have added a new sin to your old ones. It is not, therefore, either love of God or regret for having offended Him which makes you go to Confession or make your Easter duty, or even the desire to lead a more Christian life. And here is the proof of it: if you loved God, would you consent to commit sin with such ease, and even with so much enjoyment? If you had a horror of sin, as you should have, would you be able to keep it for a whole year on your conscience? If you had a real desire to live a more Christian life, would we not see at least some little change in your way of living?
No, my dear brethren, I do not wish to talk to you today about those unfortunate people who tell only half their sins through fear of not making their Easter duty or of being refused Absolution – perhaps even for the sake of covering up their shameful lives with the veil of virtue and who, in this state, approach the altar and are going to complete their dreadful work by handing over their God to the Devil and precipitating their sacrilegious souls into Hell.
No, I dare to hope that this does not concern you, but I will continue, nevertheless, to tell you that going to Confession only once a year is not something about which you should feel any peace or satisfaction.
Day 47 - April 11 - Holy Saturday - You Have Not The Time
We can only find our happiness on earth in loving God, and we can only love Him in prayer to Him. We see that Jesus Christ, to encourage us often to have recourse to Him through prayer, promises never to refuse us anything if we pray for it as we should. But there is no need to go looking for elaborate and roundabout ways of showing you that we should pray often, for you have only to open your catechism and you will see there that the duty of every good Christian is to pray morning and evening and often during the day – that is to say, always....
Which of us, my dear brethren, could, without tears of compassion, listen to those poor Christians who dare to say that they have not time to pray? You have not the time! Poor blind creatures, which is the more precious action: to strive to please God and to save your soul, or to go out to feed your animals in the stable or to call your children or your servants in order to send them out to till the earth or to tidy up the stable? Dear God! How blind man is!.... You have not the time! But tell me, ungrateful creatures, if God had called you to die that night, would you have exerted yourselves? If He had sent you three or four months of illness, would you have exerted yourselves? Go away, you miserable creatures; you deserve to have God abandon you in your blindness and leave you thus to perish. We find that it is too much to give Him a few minutes to thank Him for the graces which He is giving us at every instant!.... You must get on with your work, you say.
That, my dear people, is where you are greatly mistaken. You have no other work to do except to please God and to save your souls. All the rest is not your work. If you do not do it, others will, but if you lose your soul, who will save it?
Day 46 - April 10 - Good Friday: Model Your Death Upon That of Jesus Christ
If we were required to die twice, we could jettison one death. But man dies once only, and upon his death depends his eternity. Where the tree falls, there shall it lie. If, at the hour of his death, someone is living in some bad habit, his poor soul will fall on the side of Hell. If, on the other hand, he is in the state of grace, it will take the road for heaven. Oh, happy road!....
Generally speaking, one dies as one has lived. That is one of the great truths which Holy Scripture and the Fathers repeat in many different places. If you live as good Christians, you will be sure to die as good Christians, but if you live badly, you will be sure to die a bad death. The prophet Isaias warns us that the impious man who thinks only of doing evil is in a woeful state, for he will be treated as he deserves. At death he will receive the reward for the work he has done. It is true, however, that sometimes, by a kind of miracle, one may begin badly and finish well, but that happens so rarely that, as St. Jerome puts it, death is generally the echo of life. You think that you will return then to God? No, you will perish in sin....
The Holy Ghost tells us that if we have a friend, we should do him some good before we die. Well, my dear brethren, could one have a better friend than one's soul? Let us do all the good for it that we can, for at the moment when we would like to do our souls good, we shall be able to do no more!.... Life is short. If you defer changing your ways until the hour of your death, you are blind, for you do not know either the time or the place where you will die, perhaps without any assistance. Who knows if you will not go this night, covered in your sins, before the tribunal of Jesus Christ?.... Yes, my dear brethren, as life is, so is death. Do not hope for a miracle, which God but rarely performs. You are living in sin; very well, you will die in sin....
If we desire to die a good death, we must lead a Christian life. And the way for us to prepare for a good death is to model our deaths upon the death of Jesus Christ. Can the life of the good Christian be anything other than that of a man nailed to the Cross with Jesus Christ?
Source: Lenten Reading plan: Daily readings from St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests, by Fr. Bryan W. Jerabek
April 9 Maundy Thursday
It is now uncommon to hear Maundy Thursday referred to as Holy Thursday. This is a mistake. Holy Thursday is a name belonging absolutely from time immemorial to the Feast of the Ascension. Maundy is a significant name and ought therefore to be jealously guarded. Enough of that element of religion which serves to make it popular has been lost in the course of past centuries.
The word Maundy is derived, through the French maundier, from the Latin mandatum: "Mandatum novum do vobis," (a new commandment I give unto you) John, 13:34. The Mandatum or Maundy was the ceremony of the washing of the feet and almsgiving observed on this day, both of which were performed as a token of that brotherly love which Christ so earnestly inculcated at the last supper.
The ceremony of the washing of the feet was and is part of the liturgy. It was performed by Pope, Bishop, and priest, and kings, nobles and peasants, imitated their example. Twelve poor men were selected to be the recipients of the dignitaries' favor.
The Maundy is observed in the ceremonies of the church, and in may religious communities even at the present time.
Visiting the repositories is a custom as popular of old as it is today. It is indeed edifying to Catholic and non-Catholic alike to witness the spontaneous demonstration of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and deeper than we are aware of is the impression produced on the multitude of unbelievers around us by this and similar acts of faith.
source: Maine Catholic Historical Magazine
Day 45 - April 9 - Maundy Thursday- It is Necessary to be Converted
No, my dear brethren, let us never forget that in order to receive Holy Communion it is necessary to be converted and strong in a true resolution to persevere. When Jesus Christ desired to give His Adorable Body and His Precious Blood to His Apostles, in order to teach them how pure one should be before receiving It, He even went so far as to wash their feet. By that He wishes to show us that we can never be purified enough of our sins, even our venial sins. It is true that the venial sin does not make our Communions unworthy, but it is a cause of our profiting hardly at all by such a great blessing and happiness. The proof of that is very clear when you consider how many times we have received Holy Communion during the course of our lives. And have we become any better?.... No, not at all, and the real cause of that is that practically all the time we are holding onto our bad habits; we do not break ourselves of any one of them more than another. We have a horror of the big sins which kill our souls, but all those little fits of impatience, those grumblings when some worries or troubles befall us, or some disappointments or setbacks – these mean nothing to us. You will admit that in spite of so many Confessions and Holy Communions, you are always the same, that your Confessions are nothing else, nor have they been for years, than a repetition of the same sins, which, although venial, are none the less damaging to the merit of your Holy Communions.
You have been heard to say, with good reason, that you are no better one day than another, but who is stopping you from correcting your faults?.... If you are always the same, it is simply because you do not want to make even small efforts to improve yourself. You do not want to endure anything or to be opposed in anything. You would like everyone to be fond of you and to have a good opinion of you, which is a difficult enough thing.
Let us try hard, my dear brethren, to destroy all that could be in the smallest way displeasing to Jesus Christ, and we shall see how our Communions will help us to make great strides towards Heaven. And the more we do this, the more we shall feel ourselves becoming detached from sin and inclining towards God.... This is what I desire for you.
Source: Lenten Reading plan: Daily readings from St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests, by Fr. Bryan W. Jerabek
Day 44 - April 8 - Prisoners of Sin
If we understood fully what it is to receive the sacraments, we should bring to the reception of them very much better sentiments than those we do. It is true that the greater number of people, in hiding their sins, always keep at the back of their minds the thought of acknowledging them. Without a miracle, they will not be any the less lost for that.
If you want the reason, it is very easy to give it to you. The more we remain in that terrible state which makes Heaven and earth tremble, the more the Devil takes control of us, the more the grace of God diminishes in us, the more our fear increases, the more our sacrileges multiply, and the more we fall away.
The result is that we put ourselves almost beyond the possibility of returning into favor with God. I will give you a hundred examples of this against one to the contrary. Tell me, my dear brethren, can you even hope that after passing perhaps five or six years in sacrilege, during which you outraged God more than did all the Jews together, you would dare to believe that God is going to give you all the graces which you will need to emerge from this terrible state? You think that notwithstanding the many crimes against Jesus Christ of which you have been guilty, you have only to say: "I am going to give up sin now and all will be over."
Alas, my friends! Who has guaranteed to you that Jesus Christ will not have made to you the same threat He made to the Jews and pronounce the same sentence which He pronounced against them?.... You did not wish to profit by the graces which I wanted to give you; but I will leave you alone, and you will seek Me and you will not find Me, and you will die in your sin!.... Alas, my dear brethren, our poor souls, once they are in the Devil's hands, will not escape from these as easily as we would like to believe.... Look, my dear brethren, at what the Devil does to mislead us.
When we are committing sin, he represents it to us as a mere trifle. He makes us think that there are a great many others who do much worse than we do. Or again, that as we will be confessing the sin, it will be as easy to say four times as twice. But once the sin has been committed, he acts in exactly the opposite way. He represents the sin to us as a monstrous thing. He fills us with such a horror of it that we no longer have the courage to confess it. If we are too frightened to keep the sin hidden, he tells us, to reassure us, that we will confess it at our very next Confession. Subsequently, he tells us that we will not have the courage to do that now, that it would be better to wait for another time to confess it. Take care, my dear brethren; it is only the first step which costs the effort. Once in the prison of the sin, it is very difficult, indeed, to break out of it....
But, you are thinking, I do not really believe that there are many who would be capable of hiding their sins because they would be too much troubled by them. Ah, my dear brethren, if I had to affirm on oath whether there were or were not such people, I would not hesitate to say that there are at least five or six listening to me who are consumed by remorse for their sins and who know that what I say is true. But have patience; you will see them on the day of judgment, and you will recall what I have said to you today. Oh, my God, how shame and fear can hold a Christian soul prisoner in such a terrifying state! Ah, my dear brethren, what are you preparing for yourselves?
You do not dare to make a clean breast of it to your pastor? But is he the only one in the world? Would you not find priests who would have the charity to receive you? Do you think that you would be given too severe a penance? Ah, my children, do not let that stop you! You would be helped; the greater part of it all would be done for you. They would pray for you; they would weep for your sins in order to draw down with greater abundance the mercies of God on you! My friends, have pity on that poor soul which cost Jesus Christ so dearly!.... Oh, my God, who will ever understand the blindness of these poor sinners! You have hidden your sin, my child, but it must be known one day, and then in the eyes of the whole universe, while by one word you would have hidden it forever and you would have changed your hell for an eternity of happiness. Alas, that a sacrilege can lead these poor sinners so far. They do not want to die in that state, but they have not the strength to leave it. My God, torment them so greatly that they will not be able to stay there!