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The Dead Canonist

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What the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima Means to Me

May 4, 2017 by

On May 13, 2017, it will be 100 years since the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, with a message of peace, but a grave warning as well. Unlike many of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which all are obviously serious in nature), this particular apparition seems to stand out above the others in its intensity and gravity concerning the future of mankind. The world was (and still is) embarking on the path of disaster. The turn of the 20th Century was a time of great progress with the advent of the automobile, moving pictures (cinema), radio, television, aviation, industry, etc. It was a time that brought tremendous change in the way we lived our lives. The so-called “Roaring Twenties” ushered in a time of economic boom and a new type of rebellion, expressed through fashions and behavior. We saw women break from the conventions of the Victorian era (e.g., the flapper) and display a flagrant disregard for social mores through their dress, or lack thereof, in addition to the heavy consumption of alcohol triggered by the Prohibition laws of the time.

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Lent is a time to put your faith where your mouth is.

February 5, 2016 by

Christ’s inquiry this Lent:

“Do you want to be made well?” John 5:6

As a teenager, I struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.

I went through many rehabilitation programs before finally getting my life together. I recall one time being accepted into a particular treatment program and smoking pot before entering the facility to begin my recovery. When the administrators asked me when was the last time I used drugs or alcohol, I told them I smoked some pot shortly before arriving. They were so disappointed that they strongly considered ejecting me from the program on the spot. It was evident that my sincerity had been questionable.

I use this story to illustrate how I perceive Catholics when Lent rolls around.  We do not prepare. It seems that we wait until Ash Wednesday arrives and then scramble and try to figure out what we need to do, or cry bloody murder that the Church requires of us an ecclesiastical fast and abstinence for the day (one meatless meal with the possibility of two small meals). Yet I am always surprised at how many Catholics survive the Ash Wednesday day of penance. The next day everyone is still alive and well, it is truly a miracle of God!

Our Response

Putting Your Money Faith Where Your Mouth Is

My theory is that if we were truly living an ascetical theology in our daily spiritual lives, we would not sweat Lent in the slightest. No, rather we would eagerly look forward to the sacred season of penance with gratitude in our hearts for the special infusion of grace that God faithfully provides each year in abundance. Grace is everything! Yes, God always grants us His grace freely, but, during Lent He overwhelms us with a torrent of pure love and mercy. Why do we not avail ourselves of this special time of grace? Why do we complain and become somber every time Ash Wednesday rolls around?

The Deeper Meaning

The reason we cry out when the Church asks us, in the most minimal way, to sacrifice, is because there is something wanting in our spiritual lives, something wanting in our love. There is a clear deficit in our generosity with God. He gives us everything and asks us to be generous with Him. Christ tells us that through prayer and fasting devils can be cast away! We seem to fail to realize the power that we have as Christians when we work together for the good of the mystical body of Christ.

“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” Mt. 3:2

Prayer and fasting, done with humility and in an effort to please God, bring down God’s blessings upon us. It also expiates temporal punishment in this life. Moreover, prayer and fasting engender self-control over our passions. If Catholics were making atonement for their sins and preparing for the next life there would be less evil in the world and many more conversions.

 “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Rm. 8:18

Every Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and every Friday is Good Friday. When we learn the meaning of this we will treat Lent for what it truly is, good news! It is a time of great opportunity for the Church to grow in holiness. God bless you!

You might be wrong about what Parish You belong to

August 6, 2015 by

canon 107 par 1: Both through domicile and through quasi-domicile everyone one acquires his or her own parish priest and Ordinary.

In ecclesiastical law a Catholic person’s bishop and priest is determined by the location of one’s residence or domicile. For example, if you live within the boundaries of the diocese of Steubenville then your bishop is Jeffrey Monforton, he is your Ordinary (consider how many people from Weirton, another diocese and province, erroneously think they belong to St. Peters or Holy Family in Steubenville) . In your diocese you will find a grouping of parochial territories in which certain parish priests enjoy special jurisdiction in their respective territories. If you live within the territory of a particular parish, then that is your parish and your parish priest.

It does not matter if you did not “sign up” for envelopes. It does not matter if you “like” him. It does not matter if other priests tell you that the law has changed. If they tell you that then they are giving you incorrect information.

If your parish priest is unkind or unjust then you must approach your bishop. The presumption is that he has already heard the complaints and has either decided to tolerate the problem, or does not see a problem. What you end up with is not a problem with the priest, but rather, the bishop. He allows the issues to perdure.

A parishioner has more of a claim to a parish than a parish priest does. A parish priest is assigned there via administrative law whereas the parishioner is there by virtue of constitutive law. Priests do not enjoy the former “benefice” model in which they had a right to tenure and income. No, now they are to be transferred at the discretion of their Ordinary.

Now back to the domicile issue. If one has more than one domicile, then the domicile where one sleeps is the domicile that would determine the proper parish and/or bishop (if in another diocese).

What if one sleeps in more than one domicile? Then the domicile where one sleeps the most would determine one’s parish and/or diocese/bishop.

What if your domicile is on the line of the boundary of two parochial territories? Then the direction in which your “front door” is facing would determine the correct territory.


I Wish All Marriages Were Gay

July 2, 2015 by

I wish all marriages were “gay” insofar as gay means happy. There is much unhappiness in the world today, especially in marriage. Those who endeavor to insist on the validity and acceptability of same-sex attraction and interaction have settled upon the euphemism of “gay” as their identification. I find it odd that same-sex attraction purports to bring happiness when the contrary is  evident on so many levels.

Marriage is intrinsic to the creation and genesis (pun) of human life. The man and the woman were created and brought together in a special and natural way to foster and propagate human life. The first man and woman, united by God and directed to go forth and multiply, formed the first community and nucleus of society. Marriage is from God and belongs to Him.

On one level, everything belongs to God. God is the creator of the heavens and the earth, the Lord of the universe, the Author of nature. So, in a general way, everything is His. On a particular level not all is His (so to speak). For example, I go purchase a DVD, the DVD is mine, it does not belong to God. I can watch my DVD, I can give it away or I can even throw it away, it is not God’s, it is mine. My body, however, does belong exclusively to God. I have temporary custody and stewardship of my body, but, it is not mine per se. No, my body belongs to God. Especially, my sexual powers.

The lawful use of my sexual powers can be explained with the analogy of operating a motor vehicle. To operate a motor vehicle one needs some formation and a drivers license. To operate my sexual powers I need some formation and a license (read: marriage). But, just because I have a drivers license to operate a motor vehicle lawfully, it does not portend that I am at liberty to drive the car any way that I wish. No, I am governed by certain legal parameters in which to safely and effectively operate the motor vehicle. Similarly, when one is married and able to operate their sexual powers there are certain moral parameters in which one must conduct themselves.


Human beings were created by God, for God. God is our last and final end. Our life on earth is a trial, a short trial in which we journey back to God. God has provided us help through His Church and certain vocations, for example, marriage. A vocation is a vehicle in which to facilitate sanctity and transport us to God. A vocation is a calling from God to undertake a particular state of life suitable to engendering holiness. Marriage is a vocation. A vocation is meant to sanctify us, to make us holy. A same-sex marriage is not a calling from God because it is not a marriage. Same-sex marriage is not a vocation, but rather, a provocation. It is to deliberately contravene the very laws of nature itself. To go against nature is to go against God, the Author of nature.

How can a proponent of same-sex marriage claim that they have a calling from God to get married? Marriage is not a secular construct. Marriage is from God and ordained to be a sacrament between the baptized. Marriage is not a two-way street, but rather, a three-way street. It takes three to get married, one man + one woman + God. The couple render marital consent promising God to be faithful to each other and His laws. How can two people of the same sex make a vow to commit themselves to each other and God? It is not possible.

Marriage is from God and belongs to God. It is not an arbitrary institution which we may manipulate and fashion according to our designs. Marriage belongs to God. It is not subject to debate or judicial rulings. No human being has jurisdiction to overturn the law of God, not even the Pope.

To defend marriage is to defend God Himself.

God bless you!

The Dead Canonist