June 18, 2015
Unsympathetic confessors abuse the sacrament and turn people off
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman who had not been to Confession for ten years because the last time she went the priest bawled her out.  I assured her that the vast majority of priests do not act like that, and I advised her to muster enough courage to go to the sacrament again.

I told the woman of my own experience with a priest in Confession in a major Roman basilica. The priest was quite contentious, and we quickly began to argue (He started it!). I told the priest...

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June 11, 2015
Are angels on the Catholic endangered species list?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

In both New Age spirituality and Christian fundamentalism, belief in angels is very high. However, in contemporary mainstream Christianity (including Catholicism), belief in angels has fallen on hard times. Many Christians no longer believe in angels and find the idea of such creatures no more than a lovely myth. Angels seem to be out of place in a rational, scientific world.

But, as John Macquarrie, the distinguished Anglican theologian, has pointed out, it is strange that modern...

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June 04, 2015
Some myths about post-Vatican II liturgical reform
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Perusing “conservative” liturgical websites, I find three recurring themes: first, that Vatican Council II never intended Latin to be replaced by the vernacular; second, that Pope Paul VI made a huge mistake in approving so many liturgical changes after the Council; and, third, that people are generally unhappy with the post-Vatican II liturgy, so that  the time is coming when the liturgy will be restored essentially to what it was before Vatican II.

First, the introduction of the...

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The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience correlate with the fundamental human issues of money, sex, and power, and may be seen as the Christian “response” to these issues. While professed religious undertake a life vowed to the evangelical counsels, all Christians are called to follow these counsels.

Let us take poverty first. We are inclined to think that poverty is possible only for religious who live in community. The truth is that poverty is incumbent upon...

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May 14, 2015
On Ascension Day the Whole Church Ascends to Heaven
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Preface of each Mass begins with the exchanges:  “The Lord  be with you,” “And with your spirit”; “Lift up your hearts,”  "We lift them up to the Lord.” The words, “We lift them up to the Lord," are central to what we celebrate on the Solemnity of Ascension.

On the first Ascension day, Christ was lifted up from the earth.  In remembering and celebrating this event, the Church on earth today joins Christ even now in being raised to heaven.  Ascension day is not something...

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May 07, 2015
Baptism by immersion is an authentic post-Vatican II development
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City underwent a major renovation in the early 1990s. One of the more notable liturgical changes was the installation of an immersion baptismal font.

Since I was Cathedral rector during the renovation, I now give regular tours of the building. The thing that most puzzles visitors, especially Catholics, is the presence of the immersion font. What is the warrant for it? Why is it necessary? Does the Church approve of immersion fonts?

So, I find...

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April 30, 2015
Lectionary-based catechesis for converts is inadequate
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Recently, I received a letter from a woman in Portland, Oregon, with the question,

“What do you think of lectionary-based catechesis for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults [RCIA]? I became a Catholic three years ago and I was amazed at how little I was taught using this approach. Surely there is a better way of preparing adults to become Catholics? What would you recommend that I might read to help deepen my knowledge of the faith?”

My answer to the woman’s letter was more...

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April 27, 2015
Papal Impressions
By Alan Sears

Last fall, while in Rome to take part in the extraordinary, multi-faith, Vatican-sponsored colloquium on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage”, my wife and I had the privilege and wonderful opportunity of meeting briefly with His Holiness, Pope Francis. Later that same day we were even blessed to glimpse a little bit of his personal residence, lunching with some other guests in his dining room, and seeing the small chapel where he offers his private prayers and begins each...

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April 23, 2015
What's broken in the Church's liturgy that needs fixing?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

I think that by now readers know that I am an unambiguous supporter of the liturgical reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council. These reforms were sorely needed, and there is no going back, as some “conservatives” would wish.

The reform in the liturgy, particularly of the Mass, was undoubtedly the centerpiece of post-Vatican II developments. The liturgical changes impinged immediately on the life of worshipers. Practicing Catholic experienced the liturgical reforms first...

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April 17, 2015
Raising perfect children by teaching authentic family values
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Judith Martin (a.k.a. Miss Manners), the widely syndicated columnist, has written a number of books on proper social behavior. One of them is entitled, Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children.

What Mrs. Martin is writing about in this elegantly over-the-top book is what we call today family values. Here is my personal (but partial) list of family values:

*Children are raised with a strong sense of responsibility to and for parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, uncles and...

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