Huge-IT Third Slide.


“Outrage” and indignation are certainly an increasing reaction to things if they do not go our way.

Well, I am outraged.

Outraged by a story currently on Lifesite News  found at

It concerns a recent event held at GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY in Washington DC,  the country’ “oldest Jesuit and Catholic university.”

It was billed as ” Dismantling Reproductive Injustices: The Hyde Amendment and Criminalization of Self-Induced Abortion”. Under that jargon, it was a session in which pro-abortion speakers decried restrictions on Federal funding for abortion and “do it at home”non-surgical abortions. In other words, a PRO-ABORTION symposium at, again, let me say it: the country’s “oldest Jesuit and Catholic university.”

You can find the full story on Lifesite News website.

If I were an alumnus I would not give one penny to this institution.

Huge-IT Third Slide.

A fable for Halloween.

A totally imaginary dialogue between two priests.



–         Well, George, what’s this I hear about you hopping a plane to Sweden?

–         YES! I’m very excited, never been there before!

–         Going to be cold this time of year.

–         Really, well, it’s a BIG event!

–         The Nobel Prizes?

–         No!! Going to Lund to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation!

–         You mean, LUTHER and all that?

–         Yes, I want to accompany them!

–         But, George, we’re CATHOLICS. Luther broke the Church apart, denied the Seven Sacraments, prayers for the dead,

         and started all that chaos in society.

–         Oh? Well… that was a long time ago.

–         Yes, George, I know. Of course, we are courteous to Protestants as individuals and as Christians, but the THING itself was a disaster.

–         Oh, really?

–         Well, George, maybe where you come from there weren’t any Protestants, at least until recently. You DO know of course that

          well-financed, well-organized, “missionaries” are flooding into your part of the world from America, both “Born Agains” and  

          Mormons, specifically to convert your Catholic nation into their religions? Right?

–         CONVERT??? No, no!! That is proselytism, solemn nonsense, venom on the path of ecumenism!

–         Well, George, maybe that’s what YOU think, but THEY don’t seem to see it that way. THEY see it as “gaining souls for Christ”.

          You know, like WE used to say before we got all modern and ecumenical.

–         But, surely, there is something of value in those 500 hundred years?

–         Yes, some pretty good music for sure, you know Bach, Buxtehude, Anglican chant, and so forth.

–         Well, Robert, you know I’m not some sort of Renaissance prince. I have no time for concerts.

–         Yes, George, I know, you keep telling me that.

–         So, you’re not going with me?

–         No, George, I’m not.

–         Why?

–         Well, George, some of my ancestors came from Ireland and Wales, others from Sweden actually as well. My people lost the Mass,

          the Sacraments, their parish churches, some their homes, farms, even their freedom and lives all because of what Luther started.

          No, George, as we say here “Count me out!”

–         But, but…

–         I know, “throwing stones. Rigidity…etc…” I’ve heard it all before.

–         Yes, and perhaps you have no MERCY in your heart!!!!

–         George, my own father converted to our Faith, perhaps he caught a whiff of the Truth that we Catholics, I hope, possess.

          Nope, no Luther “celebrations” for me, George. Have a safe flight.


Huge-IT Third Slide.

A timely reflection….again.

The Lifesite News website is worth visiting on a regular basis. The article cited above is thought provoking, as it ought to be.

I pass it along for your own reflections and, I hope, renewed prayers for our increasingly troubled and confused Church.

Huge-IT Third Slide.

The Day before and the Day after

The day before and the day after


I write this on the evening of September 11.

For us, the shorthand “9/11” has entered into our lexicon.

This fifteenth anniversary of all that 9/11 means leads me to reflect on the days before and after in our Liturgical Calendar. If we examine those dates we see an interesting theme.


September 10th was until 1969 the feast throughout the Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, a medieval Augustinian Friar who spent many years preaching and celebrating the Sacraments. A feature of his life and spirituality was a deep devotion to the Souls in Purgatory and the need of the faithful on earth to pray earnestly for the release of those caught by death suddenly and unexpectedly into the joys of Heaven. He also preached about preparing for a good and holy death. He was graced with the foreknowledge of the date of his death and for days heard Angels singing as the day approached and arrived.  He died on September 10, 1305, and was canonized in 1446.  In the liturgical reforms of 1969, he was regarded as not being “of universal significance” and his feast was removed from the General Calendar. However, he is STILL a canonized Saint and venerated in Tolentino in Italy and in churches and institutions named in his honor.


September 12th was, and still is, the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. Like the feast of St. Nicholas of Tolentino the feast was removed from the calendar in 1969 but happily restored by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2002. As we all know, that Pope had a deep love and veneration for Mary. The feast is, of course, devotional and part of the Church’s extolling of the Blessed Virgin. However, the date, September 12th, is no accident. It was on that date in 1683 that a Christian army under the leadership of the King of Poland, John Sobieski, and Charles Duke of Lorraine attacked and routed a vast Turkish army that had been besieging the city of Vienna. The army of the Sultan had come to destroy the capital of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor and to begin the long-awaited Islamic conquest of Christian Europe. The crushing defeat of the Turks marked the high water mark of Ottoman jihad against the Catholic Church and Papacy. Not again for over 400 years would militant Islamism pose a serious threat to the culture and religion of the West.

It has been said that there are “no coincidences for a believer”.

Surely these two feasts, before and after September 11th, give us food for thought and prayer. A declining and increasingly desiccated and religionless West seems not to know how to meet the latest challenge today.

Let us fall back on the powerful “weapons” of our ancient and enduring Faith.


Huge-IT Third Slide.


I haven’t written anything here for a long time.

I suppose I fell out of the habit and other preoccupations took over.

However, a brief entry for today:

I’m occasionally asked what would be good Catholic websites to read in these rather confusing and disturbing times.

One recommendation for good apologetic commentary of controversies in the church and in the world is

Crisis Magazine: commentary, discussion, often by engaged and educated laity. I go to it every day.

Huge-IT Third Slide.

Customs and Courtesies

Back in the 1980’s when I decided to join the US Airforce Reserve as a chaplain (I had been ordained in 1978) I learned the above phrase.

It meant that the US Armed Forces, the USAF, and the particular base and Command to which I was assigned had certain “customs and courtesies” which I was expected to learn and perform. No questions asked, and no variations, please.

I learned about salutes (when and how); “covered” and “uncovered”; proper alignment of uniform badges, insignia and ribbons; how to address superior officers and how to respond to others, etc. We did not make up these rules, we were simply to follow them.

We even learned to salute a passing Staff Car that bore two silver stars on a blue plate whether or not we saw anyone in it. We saluted “just in case.”

I loved it.

In a way, we all grew up with certain “customs and courtesies” even in our family life, and learned to respect those of others on their “turf”.

The opposite of “customs and courtesies” is rudeness and chaos.

Imagine a guest in your house who arrives and immediately starts rearranging your furniture because “that’s how we do it at home”. Yes, but now he’s in YOUR home.

He enters the kitchen before dinner and proceeds to tell you how to rearrange the utensils and the pots and pans “like we do it in my kitchen”.

I think we could all assume that he would be told to sit down and mind his own business and a return visit would be very unlikely.

We also have “customs and courtesies” in the Catholic Church as a whole, as well as in Saint Matthew’s Parish.

Recently at a rather busy Mass, I was distributing Holy Communion to a long line of people. A man with a rather pleased air and sporting various fraternal decorations presented himself before me with a smile on his face and both arms crossed over his chest like an Egyptian pharaoh mummy. As he stood there, mouth closed and no hand extended, I finally asked: “what is this?” He stared at me with indignant shock and replied: “I want a spiritual blessing”. I wondered if that was as opposed to a “material blessing”.  I waved him on so I could back to the proper business of giving Communion to actual communicants.

Now I know what this was all about. Somewhere, some priest told somebody that this was a lovely custom and they “should “do that.

Well, I’m sorry, but we don’t do that at St. Matthew’s.

EVERYBODY gets a blessing at the end of Mass altogether at every Mass. There is a traditional blessing gesture that some priests give over a small child not yet Communion age who comes up to the Communion rail or line with his mother. However, an adult who does not want, or can’t, receive Holy Communion is a different case. It is either sin, lack of fasting, or imperfect or non-existent union with the Catholic Church, or a simple choice at a given Mass that prevents an adult from receiving Communion, not childhood innocence or non-age. Why come up for Communion, when you have no intention of receiving Communion? If one cannot receive Communion, just remain humbly in the pew and receive the Final Blessing like everyone else. Why draw attention to oneself?

Pardon the mundane analogy, but it seems like standing in line at a busy take-out restaurant at dinner hour and then going up the busy counter-person and announcing

“Oh, I’m not going to order anything, I just like standing here looking at the menu.”

It is also confusing as some regions and nationalities traditionally used the “crossed arm” gesture precisely AS a gesture for receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

Also, at Saint Matthew’s we have other “customs and courtesies” rooted in our parish’s history, experience, and sound Catholic principles.

First, we are I think the only Parish in the Diocese that allows kneeling for Holy Communion to any who like to receive our Lord on their knees. This is done at the section of the altar rail on the Saint Joseph statue side of the sanctuary. Hence, we do not kneel in the main aisle. The genuflection some make is not necessary here at St. Matthew’s since such persons may kneel. Kneeling replaces the genuflection.

Those receiving Holy Communion standing are recommended to make a simple head bow as one approaches the Communion minister.

Also, we offer Eucharistic Exposition twice a week on a regular basis: Holy Hour Mondays 4-5 ending with the Miraculous Medal Novena and again on Wednesdays 4-5 PM ending with a Litany. Both take place in the Chapel. Other devotional groups also may have occasional Exposition, but only conducted by a priest or deacon.

Both the church and the Chapel are open for visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle for 12 hours each day.

However, the Tabernacle and the Monstrance are always to be treated with a reverent distance and awe. They are not to be approached, touched, hugged or even kissed! They are NOT relics or statues but the vessels containing the Eucharistic Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Simple politeness and charity commends these “customs and courtesies” to all who might visit us or be genuinely unaware of these important matters.

Huge-IT Third Slide.

Sexagesima Sunday 1/31/16

Dear friends,

My first “pre-Lent” bulletin letter published last week was probably not read by many of you due to the “super blizzard” that shut down travel last weekend.

You can find it published however on the parish website in the “Pastor’s blog” entitled “Septuagesima Sunday.”

This week, “Sexagesima Sunday”, roughly sixty days before Easter, I would like to treat of the second of the three traditional Lenten practices: Fasting.

“Fasting” is usually defined as the voluntary or involuntary deprivation of food and/or drink for a given period of time. I would suppose many of us have experienced medical fasting, e.g., before a blood test, or a procedure. For others, fasting takes the form of the “diet” for weight loss or other health benefits.

Again, most of us practice fasting in Lent in the form of “giving something up” for Lent; usually some little treat, or perhaps alcohol, tobacco, or snacking.

There is no doubt that this voluntary deprivation of accustomed eating or drinking is an ancient practice in both the Old and the New Testaments.

There are those too who in our history have practiced bodily mortification and self-deprivation as a means of doing penance for sins, theirs and those of others.  Sins of the flesh, gluttony, lust, are often counteracted by a healthy mastery of the self-shown in moderation, and a reasonable abstemiousness in food, drink, and entertainment.

Fasting and bodily self-denial have long been seen in the Christian tradition as a means of overcoming our innate love of comfort, ease, and “fullness” in whatever form that takes. While rooted in our legitimate need for food, and the comfort that a decent way of life can afford, there is always the lurking danger of the vice of gluttony and the loss of self-control and dignity that gluttony can cause in a human being. Back in the 13th century, the great Saint Dominic remarked of our passions and cravings that we are “either the hammer or the anvil, and better by far to be the hammer!”. In this way, we demonstrate to ourselves and to our Creator that the good things of the earth are our servants and not our masters. We own our possessions; they don’t own us.

As we prepare our Lent let me make a few suggestions in this area:

Be humble enough to make just one easily-doable act of fasting.

Be specific and definite as to what it will be.

Do not let your moderation or fasting be obvious and do not let it make others self-conscious.

Is it food or drink only I need to fast from?

Maybe time sent on the internet, hobbies, etc. would be better spent in some extra prayers or acts of charity?

Whatever it is, let it be something that makes me aware of my hunger and thirst for things eternal, aware of my own over-dependence on comfort and ease, and of the needs of others.

God’s blessings,

Father Hewes


Huge-IT Third Slide.

Septuagesima Sunday

Dear friends,

In our traditional liturgical calendar, the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday bore unusual Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima meaning simply Seventieth, Sixtieth, Fiftieth. This was because these Sunday are roughly that number of days before Easter Sunday. This year Easter comes rather early, March 27th, and Ash Wednesday falls on February 10th.  Today then is Septuagesima Sunday.

In the “old liturgy” or today’s “Extraordinary Form” (offered in the Chapel every Sunday at 12:30 PM) these Sundays marked a sort of “pre-Lent” in which while the Lenten penances, fasting and abstinence from meat were not yet in force, the vestment color was violet and the Paschal Alleluia dropped from the Liturgy to return only at the Easter Vigil.  Among the reasons for this ancient time of preparation for Lent was to remind the believer that Lent was coming and it was time to give thought to one’s practices and resolutions BEFORE Ash Wednesday.

There were, and are, three main traditional Lenten practices: Prayer; Fasting; and Almsgiving.

This Sunday I would like to draw your attention to the first of these.

Prayer was simply and beautifully described in my childhood’s Catechism as “the lifting up of the mind and heart to God.”

Both intellect and emotion are involved in prayer.

There is a classical distinction between vocal and mental prayer that corresponds to this two-fold side to prayer.

Vocal prayer is as the name implies “saying” prayer(s). We use words, either others’ or our own, to express our adoration, petition, and praise of God. We use our minds and wills to utter, either aloud, whispered, or consciously thought, words to God. Common examples are the Rosary, Liturgical prayers, prayers from books, etc. Here we use words and formulas handed down from various sources and eras.

Mental prayer is more of a sense of presence: we are aware of God’s presence to us, and our presence of quiet receptivity to Him. This, of course, is not just holy day-dreaming, but involves more of a “resting in God” as we read in the Psalms “Be still, and know that I am God!” An anecdote from the life of the Cure of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, sums it up well. He noticed an old man spending time in the parish church every day, merely sitting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The Saint asked him what he was doing and the man replied: “I look at Him, and He looks at me.”

For Lent then we might think of how we might enrich our “prayer life”. Some of us might be beginners, others more advanced, but all of us regardless of our state of prayer can benefit from a good Lent.

Maybe I need to get back to “saying prayers” in the simplest everyday form.

Maybe I need to make a better effort of paying attention to what I am saying in prayer and check my tendency to rush my prayers.

Maybe I need to prepare for prayer better, recollect myself, quiet down before beginning my prayers.

Maybe I could, in fact, find time for daily Mass, either here or in another parish or closer to where I work.

Maybe I could attend the Stations of the Cross on the Lenten Fridays.

Maybe I could “pop in” to “see Him” as I pass by the church, if only for a few minutes.

These are just a few suggestions we might consider.

Next week I will speak about Fasting as part of Lent.

Blessed Septuagesima Sunday!

Father Hewes


Huge-IT Third Slide.

“As a gesture to make the Church more inclusive..”

 I saw the above today on the front page of The Wall Street Journal with a big photo of many bridal couples arranged in a semi-circle before the High Altar in the vast space of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The event was a (literally and figuratively) “Mass Wedding” conducted by Pope Francis for the aforementioned couples who were of the Diocese of Rome on Sunday, September 14th.

The fact that some of these couples had been cohabiting before marriage and one couple ‘even’ had a child before marriage was trumpeted as yet another “gesture” by the Pope to make the Church “more inclusive”.

NEWS FLASH! Not only have Popes conducted marriage ceremonies before (though rarely, usually quietly and with less “PR”) but parish priests all over the world have been marrying such couples before last Sunday without needing this latest “gesture” to make them more “inclusive”.

In fact, there probably hasn’t been a parish priest in history since the Church began who hasn’t “fixed marriages”, or celebrated “convalidations”, or persuaded unmarried couples (even with children) to be married “before God.” Many priests are quiet martyrs of patience and persistence in leading couples to a proper wedding, preceded by a simple, humble and private Confession, and celebrate their weddings with fatherly joy.

This is nothing new.

What seems to be new is the propagation of the myth of the Catholic Church as a hard-hearted community of ‘neurotic collectors of devotions’ which engages in “proselytism which is solemn nonsense” and even of priests who are “little monsters “who “turn their confessionals into “torture chambers.”  It seems that all the worse stereotypes of the anti-Catholic “No Nothings” of the 19th century are back and being accepted as true, and goes uncorrected by those who have a duty to do so.

I make that last point because one might accept that even as respectable a newspaper like the “WSJ” might fall for this; but, please God, does anyone in the Church seriously think that we only perform marriages and baptize the babies only of Saints?

Or must the slander and the false stereotypes go on unchecked in order to win the world’s applause?

September 15, 2014.