Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Marital Fidelity in the Odyssey

"The Trunk of the Olive Tree": The 'Testing of the Bed' As a Symbol of Fidelity and Like-mindedness in Homer's The Odyssey by Erin Whittemore
The old nurse went upstairs exulting. to tell the mistress of her lord's return, and cried out by the lady's pillow: "Wake, wake up, dear child! Penelope, come down, see with your own eyes what all these years you longed for! Odysseus is here! Oh, in the end, he came! And he has killed your suitors, killed them all Penelope said: "I am stunned, I cannot speak to him. I cannot question him. I cannot keep my eyes upon his face. If really he is Odysseus, truly home, beyond all doubt we two shall know each other better than you or anyone. There are secret signs we know, we two." Homer's The Odyssey, Book 23 (lines 1-10, 119-125)
A 20-year separation would be enough to force even the most loving, well-matched couple into experiencing feelings of doubt and struggle- even the hero and heroine of Homer's epic, The Odyssey. Odysseus, though he longs solely for home and wife, is plagued with uncertainty after hearing the stories of the adulteresses, Klytaimnestra and Helen, and the warnings of Agamemnon regarding unfaithful wives. For Penelope, the dilemma is even greater, lacking the knowledge of whether her husband is even still alive and needing to marry to rid her home of the destructive suitors. For these reasons, Odysseus' homecoming and discussion with Penelope of their marriage bed found in Book 23 is a pivotal point of recognition and reconciliation for the lovers. The bed of Penelope and Odysseus serves as a symbol of their similarities, the like-mindedness which makes them a love match, and the fidelity and devotion that has successfully withstood an extensive separation.

By the beginning of Book 23, Odysseus has destroyed the suitors and reveals himself to Penelope as the husband she has desired to be reunited with for so long. The goddess Athena transforms Odysseus' beggar state into a new being, even more beautiful than before: "taller, and massive, too, with crisping hair in curls" and "lavished beauty over [his] head and shoulders." To Telemakhos, his mother's cold response to Odysseus' showing appears cruel and unfeeling, but Penelope, still detached and possibly unbelieving of the moment, decides to "keep her distance and question him" until their "secret signs" are revealed. She orders Eurykleia to make up a sleeping place for her husband and to place the large bed outside of the bedchamber that the two lovers formerly shared. This test "tried him to the breaking point" since the bed, fashioned by Odysseus from an old olive tree trunk in the center of their - 143- room, was their "pact and pledge, [their] secret sign [was] built into that bed- [Odysseus'] handiwork and no one else's!" His knowledge of their private bed produces a realization and acceptance of reality for Penelope. Her knees "grew tremulous and weak" and "her heart failed her" with this exciting identification. They finally experience a physical and emotional reunion, and Odysseus, weeping, holds "his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms" at last.

The wedding and marriage bed of Penelope and Odysseus becomes the center of the unfolding drama of recognition once he enters his home in his real physical state and is seen by his wife. Just as the discovery of the scar on Odysseus' upper thigh is Eurykleia's indication of her master's identity, the bed is Penelope's identification of her sweetheart. The circumstance of the bed is a private knowledge that only they two share (and one trusted servant). After 20 years of disunion, their bed is still unique, made from a huge oak tree, and remains immovable. Crafted by Odysseus with great skill, the heavy monument could be moved only by someone very strong or by a god, and the idea of someone moving it suggests to Odysseus that his work has been altered or that he has been replaced by Penelope. But the bed is secure, fixed in place for all time, exemplifying Penelope's constant fidelity while - 144- Odysseus has been away.

Although informed by his deceased mother at the gathering of shades that Penelope continues to spend her days in weeping over her husband and has chosen no man to take his place, Odysseus is still subjected to doubting her faithfulness. Penelope's suggestion that the bed has been moved angers Odysseus because it indicates that Penelope does not trust his identity and that she may have moved on to another man in his absence. Any man who has moved the bed, however strong and remarkable, has not only relocated a stable marriage but is subsequently undoing what Odysseus himself had done. On the contrary, Penelope has kept her bed and her body private while her husband was gone, and the importance placed upon Penelope's sexual fidelity addresses the central concern for Odysseus' odyssey: to return to wife and home.

Following her test of his identity, Penelope urges Odysseus, "Do not rage at me ... No one ever matched your caution!" This statement is not entirely true, however, since there is at least one woman who has equaled him in heedfulness and testing: Penelope. "Careful Penelope," called an "incomparably cunning mother" by one of the deceived suitors, shows her wisdom in testing, and her likeness to her husband throughout the epic. The tricking of the suitors with the shroud she is continuously - 145- weaving and unweaving, the "unknowing" choice of the test of the bow to select her new husband, and her clever ploy when pretending the bed had been moved, proves Penelope to be on a par with her quick-witted husband, "skilled in all ways of contending." Understanding his wife's contentious ways as he knows his very own, Odysseus encourages Penelope to test him "at her leisure," since this "noble and enduring" hero had been proving his wife's fidelity and deceiving her with his disguise all along. This like-mindedness shows the two switching rolesOdysseus from the tester to the tested- until they finally reunite on their nuptial bed. In fact, this similarity among spouses is something Odysseus truly values and he desired this harmony for Nausikaa, saying, "the best thing in the world [is] a strong house held in serenity where man and wife agree."

Penelope's "test of the bed" is crucial since it leads to the moment when she can "see [him] and know [him] best," even if testing is the upsetting means to a happy end. Penelope's test of the bed not only proves her fidelity to Odysseus but also proves Odysseus' identity to her. They are reunited and begin their second courtship, having been "denied life together in [their] prime and flowering years." Odysseus is able to reclaim his role and true identity as husband and father as both he and Penelope end their contention and testing of one - l4- another. The passage of the bed in Book 23 serves as a kind of epithalamion, in which the marriage bed and the loyal couple are praised and rewarded for their goodness and chastity. This level of spousal devotion is refreshing, especially in the 20th century when relationships fail so often without even having to face hardships like those of our epic heroes, Odysseus and Penelope. The Odyssey is, above all, the tale of a homecoming and of the reunification of a couple who love and know one another so remarkably that they are not only lovers, but best friends as well. Similar to the ever-living trunk of the olive tree that constitutes their bed, the union of Odysseus and Penelope did not wither with their separation but rather was sustained, and upon their reuniting can renew itself and grow once again.

Works Cited Homer. The Odyssey. Translation by Robert Fitzgerald. Vintage Books, New York; 1990.

P.S. I first came across this idea of the sacredness of the Odyssey marriage bed at a lecture given at a Humanae Vitae conference a few years ago.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Music for the Octave of Pentecost

Enjoy Jean-Noel Hamal (1709-1778), In Exitu Israel
Psalm 113, Vespers for Pentecost (1962 Rite)

This is one of the first records I ever owned, from Seton Hall University Library discard in the late 1980's.
It is a sublime delight to pray this Exodus Psalm every evening this week in my priestly canonical prayer of the Church, thanks to Summorum Pontificum! Deo gratias!

Psalm 113 - In Exitu Israel

I. Double-Choir Introduction
1. In exitu Israel de Aegypto, /domus Iacob de populo barbaro
2. Facta est Iudaea sanctificatio eius, /Israel potestas eius.
3. Mare vidit et fugit, /Iordanis conversus est retrorsum.
4. Montes exultaverunt ut arietes /et colles sicut agni ovium.
IIa. Soprano Recitative
5. Quid est tibi mare quod fugisti, /et tu Iordanis quia conversus es retrorsum?
IIb. Soprano Aria
6. Montes exultastis sicut arietes /et colles sicut agni ovium?
III. Bass Aria
7. A facie Domini mota est terra, /a facie Dei Iacob /qui convertit petram in stagna aquarum /et rupem in fontes aquarum.
IV. Double-Choir
8. Non nobis Domine, non nobis /sed nomini tuo da gloriam /super misericordia tua et veritate tua.
9. Nequando dicant gentes: Ubi est Deus eorum?
V. Double-Choir
10. Deus autem noster in caelo /omnia quaecumque voluit fecit.
11. Simulacra gentium, argentum et aurum, /opera manuum hominum.
12. Os habent, et non loquentur, /oculos habent et non videbunt,
13. aures habent, et non audient, /nares habent, et non odorabunt.
14. Manes habent, et non palpabunt, /pedes habent, et non ambulabunt, /non clamabunt in gutture suo.
15. Similes illis fiant qui faciunt ea, /et omnes qui confidunt in eis.
VI. Trio: Contralto, Tenor and Bass
16. Domus Israel speravit in Domino, /adiutor eorum et protector eorum est.
17. Domus Aaron speravit in Domino, /adiutor eorum et protector eorum est.
18. Qui timent Dominum speraverunt in Domino, /adiutor eorum et protector eorum est.
19. Dominus memor fuit nostri, /et benedixit nobis, /benedixit domui Israel, /benedixit domui Aaron,
20. benedixit omnibus qui timent Dominum, /pusillis cum maioribus.
VIIa. Tenor Recitative
21. Adficiat Dominus /super vos et super filios vestros.
VIIb. Tenor Aria
22. Benedicti vos a Domino /qui fecit caelum et terram.
23. Caelum caeli Domino /terram autem dedit filiis hominum.
VIIIc. Double-Choir
24. Non mortui laudabunt te Domine, /neque omnes qui descendunt in infernum,
IX. Double-Choir, connected to preceding
25. sed nos qui vivimus benedicimus Domino, /ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.
X. Choir, With Soprano Solo
Gloria Patri, et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
XI. Double-Choir
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper/ et in saecula sæculorum. Amen.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Huge Rainbow Flag Flies at US Embassy to the Holy See

Here is The Tablet's story.

The Vatican, Catholics in Rome, and all men of good will throughout the world, should not tolerate this ideological imperialism.

Object here, and below.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

The Scandal of Sodomite Cardinals

The Code of Canon Law, Canon 351.1 says that Those to be promoted as Cardinals are to be "men who are truly outstanding in doctrine, virtue, piety and prudence in practical matters."

How can any priest, let alone a Cardinal, in light of that requirement, condone Sodom? But ambiguity is the scandalous standard of the Pope Francis appointed College of Cardinals, a procession of doctrinally and morally ambivalent men. Many show themselves to be friends, if not outright sons, of Sodom.

Everything I need to know I learned in the elementary school Basic Catechism. According to the Basic Catechism of Christian Doctrine there are nine ways in which we cause or share the guilt of another's sin:

1. By counsel

2. By command

3. By consent

4. By provocation

5. By praise or flattery

6. By concealment

7. By being a partner in sin

8. By silence

9. By defending the ill done.

Ever recall the word of God:

"I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the grace of Christ, changing to another gospel; which is not another gospel, except in this respect that there are some who trouble you, and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I should not be a servant of Christ."

Galatians 1:6-10, Challoner-Rheims Confraternity Edition New Testament, Saint Anthony Guild Press: Paterson, NJ, 1947.

Come Holy Spirit and send the purifying fire which you once sent on Sodom to purge the world, beginning with the Church, of every stain of impurity.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ascension; No Christian Double Life

The feast of our Lord's Ascension reminds us that the same Christ who encourages us to carry out our task in the world awaits us in heaven as well. In other words, our life on earth, which we love, is not definitive. We do not have a permanent dwelling place here, but we seek that which is to come (Heb 13:14), a changeless home where we may live forever. Still, we must be careful not to interpret the Word of God within limits that are too narrow. Our Lord does not expect us to be unhappy in our life on earth and await a reward only in the next life. God wants us to be happy on earth too, but with a desire for the other, total happiness that only he can give.

In this life, the contemplation of supernatural reality, the action of grace in our souls, our love for our neighbor as a result of our love for God--all these are already a foretaste of heaven, a beginning that is destined to grow from day to day. We Christians cannot resign ourselves to leading a double life: our life must be a strong and simple unity into which all our actions converge.

Christ awaits us. We are citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20) and at the same time fully-fledged citizens of this earth--in the midst of difficulties, injustices, and lack of understanding, but also in the midst of the joy and serenity that comes from knowing that we are children of God, and we will see the growth in numbers and in sanctity of this Christian army of peace, of this co-redeeming people. Let us be contemplative souls, carrying on an unceasing dialogue with our Lord at all hours--from the first thought of the day to the last, turning our heart constantly toward our Lord Jesus Christ, going to him through our Mother, Holy Mary, and through him to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

If, in spite of everything, Jesus' Ascension into heaven leaves a certain taste of sadness in our souls, let us go to his Mother as the apostles did. They returned to Jerusalem...and they prayed with one mind...together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Acts 1:12-14).

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, Christ is Passing By.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Memento mori

Subjects for Daily Meditation

Remember, Christian soul, that you have this day, and every day of your life:

+God to glorify,
+Jesus to imitate,
+The Angels and Saints to invoke,
+A soul to save,
+A body to mortify,
+Sins to expiate,
+Hell to avoid,
+Heaven to gain,
+Eternity for which to prepare,
+Time by which to profit,
+Neighbors to edify,
+The world to despise,
+Devils to combat,
+Passions to subdue,
+Death perhaps to suffer,
+And Judgement to undergo.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Cadenza and Classic Rock Solo

 At a performance last night, I realized that the classical cadenza is the prototype for classic rock's virtuoso solo improvisations. Here are a few samples which readily come to mind from Led Zeppelin. And then there is, of course, Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner.

Bach, Brandenburg Concerto #5

Led Zeppelin, John Bohnam, Moby Dick

Since I've Been Loving You, Jimmy Page

Star Spangled Banner, Jimi Hendrix


In music, a cadenza (from Italian: cadenza [kaˈdɛntsa], meaning cadence; plural, cadenze [kaˈdɛntse]) is, generically, an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played or sung by a soloist or soloists, usually in a "free" rhythmic style, and often allowing virtuosic display. During this time the accompaniment will rest, or sustain a note or chord. Thus an improvised cadenza is indicated in written notation by a fermata in all parts. A cadenza will usually occur over the final or penultimate note in a piece, the lead-in (German: Eingang) or over the final or penultimate note in an important subsection of a piece. It can also be found before a final coda or ritornello.

The classic rock aficionado should consider classical music. Enjoy, for instance, the Bach Fugues! They sound great on the guitar, but, on the organ, divine!

Now hear the cleanness on the organ!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

A Plan of Life

Spiritual Game Plan

Do you want to be a good Christian? The first of your battles will be to enter into and remain in the state of grace, to avoid any mortal sin. And, then, because you want to love God above all things, you will also try not to commit venial sins.

The practice of some acts of piety throughout the day will help you to have a divine contemplative life in the midst of the daily routine. The habitual performance of these acts will also be the foundation for growing in Christian virtues. Most important is to be consistent in your daily schedule, in your spiritual game plan, so that you will live as a child of God.


  • Get up at a fixed time, as early as possible. Eight hours of sleep should be enough. More than this or less than six hours of sleep is usually not healthy.
  • Offer your day to God through the intercession of our Lady.
  • Work with order and intensity during the day as a way of serving God. Set goals and establish priorities in order to develop a practical schedule. Sanctifying ordinary work is the goal of our life.
  • Try to attend Mass, receiving Holy Communion, as often as possible. This is the best sacrifice we can offer to God. Prepare yourself for Mass by spending some time in prayer.
  • Spend some time in mental prayer before the Blessed Sacrament (15 minutes, if possible).
  • Pray the Angelus. Traditionally, the Angelus is prayed at sunrise (6:00 a.m.), noon, and sunset (6:00 p.m. ). (During Easter Time, say the Regina Cæli instead.)
  • Pray the Rosary, if possible, with your family, offering each decade for a specific intention.
  • Do some other spiritual reading. Start with the New Testament or some well-known spiritual book. Ten to fifteen minutes is sufficient.
  • Make a short examination of conscience at the end of the day before going to bed. Two or three minutes is enough. Follow these steps: Humble yourself in the presence of God. Tell him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.“ Ask for light to acknowledge your defects and virtues and to see the dangers and opportunities of the day. Ask for repentance, amendment, and encouragement.


  • Center all activities around the Holy Mass on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. It is also a family day — for rest and spiritual growth.
  • If you do not receive Holy Communion every day, receive at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
  • Saturday is traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Honor her and say some special prayer, such as the Hail Holy Queen. Monthly
  • Go to Confession at least once a month. It is the sacrament of joy. Pope John Paul II says: “God is always the one who is principally offended by sin — ’I have sinned against You’ — and God alone can forgive. He does so through the ministry of the priest in the Sacrament of Penance, which is the ordinary way of obtaining forgiveness and remission of mortal sins. Every mortal sin must always be stated with its determining circumstances in an individual confession.”
  • Seek and follow the spiritual guidance of a wise, prudent, and knowledgeable priest.
  • Spend a few hours in recollection, best done before the Blessed Sacrament. Consider how you are directing your life toward God.


  • Spend two or three days each year in silence, speaking with God only. A few days of retreat are necessary for the soul in the same way that the body needs a vacation. It is a yearly opportunity for conversion.


  • Stay in the presence of God: be aware that he is always close to you. Try to please him in everything as a child tries to please his/her parents.
  • Thank God for the graces that he constantly gives you.
  • Do everything for the love of God: this is purity of intention. Always purify your intention. Make acts of contrition and atonement for your sins and sins of others.
  • Try to live as you would like to die. We shall die as we have lived.

Handbook of Prayers (Seventh American Edition, 2011)
Published by Midwest Theological Forum
Copyright © 1992–2011 Rev. James Socias

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Ministrare et dare animam suam! Matthew 20:28

A fool might think he knows God and not love Him.

But no one can love God and not serve Him.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Metaphysical Importance of Russia Consecration

Saint Peter's, March 25, 2022

The news is official and has an extraordinary relevance. On March 25, 2022, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Furthermore, the Pope, as confirmed by the director of the Holy See Press Office Matteo Bruni, " invited bishops from all over the world and their priests to join him in praying for peace and in the consecration and entrustment of Russia and of Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” On March 22, the Holy See released the text of the Consecration.

In Fatima on July 13, 1917, Our Lady announced that God was preparing to "punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, hunger and persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father ." To avoid these disasters, Our Lady asked for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, made by the Pope in union with all the bishops of the world, and the propagation of the practice of the devotion of the first Saturdays of the month, consisting in joining her, Confessed and receiving Holy Communion, for five consecutive Saturdays, meditating for fifteen minutes and praying the Holy Rosary. "If My requests are accepted--said Our Lady--Russia will convert and they will have peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be destroyed. Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph."

After the apparitions of Fatima in 1917 there have been various acts of consecration and entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but all partial and incomplete, even if not without effect, so much so that, since 1931, the Lord complained to Sister Lucia about the failure to consecrate Russia: “They did not want to listen to my request! Like the King of France, they will regret it, and they will listen, but it will be too late. Russia will have already spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church: the Holy Father will have to suffer much.”

Pius XII in the Radio Message to Portugal of 31 October 1942, consecrated the Church and the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pope Pacelli himself, on 7 July 1952, with the apostolic letter Sacro vergente anno consecrated all the peoples of Russia to the Mother of God. Russia was explicitly named, but there was no solemn union with Catholic bishops from all over the world. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council would have been an extraordinary occasion to fulfill the request of Our Lady. In 1965, 510 archbishops and bishops from 78 countries signed a petition asking that the Pope in union with the Council Fathers consecrate the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and especially Russia and other nations dominated by communism. Paul VI, however, did not heed the request.

John Paul II, after being dramatically wounded in the attack of May 13, 1981, attributed miraculous protection to Our Lady of Fatima, and on May 13, 1982 he went as a pilgrim to her sanctuary, where he entrusted and consecrated to Our Lady "those men and nations which are particularly in need of this entrustment and consecration.” A similar consecration was repeated by him on March 25, 1984, in St. Peter's Square, in the presence of the statue of the Virgin which came specially from Portugal. The Pope had written to bishops from all over the world asking them to join him, but not all received the invitation and few actually did it. Even on this occasion Russia was not explicitly mentioned, but there was only a reference "to the peoples of whom you expect our consecration and our entrustment ".

A third act of entrusting the Church and humanity to the Virgin Mary was pronounced on 8 October 2000, in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, by John Paul, together with over 1500 bishops representing the world episcopate. Benedict XVI had the Third Secret of Fatima disclosed (the text of which is however judged incomplete by many) and on May 12, 2010, kneeling before the image of Our Lady in the chapel of the Apparitions of Fatima, he raised a prayer of entrustment to her, asking for her liberation "from every danger that hangs over us."

On 13 October 2013, in the sanctuary of Saint Peter's, Pope Francis pronounced words of entrustment to the Madonna. However, he omitted the consecration of Russia, which many awaited.

On May 13, 2017, Pope Francis went to Fatima for the canonization of the two little shepherds Francesco and Jacinta, aged 9 and 11, who, together with their cousin Lucia dos Santos, saw and heard the words of Our Lady in 1917. Regarding their cousin Lucia, who died in 2005, her beatification process is underway. However, even in this case the Pope ignored the requests of the Madonna.

Today the international scenario has dramatically changed and Pope Francis has decided to do what none of his predecessors ever did. In fact, from 1917 to 2022, nine Popes have acknowledged Fatima and all, after Benedict XV, have approved of its devotion. Six of them have visited the Shrine, as Popes or as cardinals. Some of them, such as Pius XII and John Paul II, showed great devotion to the apparitions of 1917. However, none of them has so far fulfilled the insistent requests of Our Lady. The act that Pope Francis will perform on March 25 seems to correspond to these requests and is accompanied by an adhesion of bishops, priests and laity, which has never happened before today. The importance of the event is not of a geopolitical nature, but of a metaphysical and supernatural nature, because it appears as one of those moments in which the mystery of history seems to tear itself apart and the light of God illuminates the events of the world, beyond the intentions of the protagonists. This happens as Russia's bombs from Kiev threaten to spread over the whole world.

The Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Below is the Vatican English text of the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, sent by the Vatican to bishops throughout the world. Pope Francis has invited bishops and the rest of the world to join him when he recites the prayer March 25 in St. Peter's Basilica.
On the Vatican Website there does not appear to be a Latin version of the text, nor Greek nor Hebrew. Strange. Isn't Latin the official language of the Church? I can't imagine the Holy Father doing a world-wide consecration in any other language than that of the universal Church. We shall see.

Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Basilica of St. Peter
March 25, 2022

O Mary, Mother of God and our mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our mother, you love us and know us: No concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the prince of peace.

Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed peoples' dreams of peace and the hopes of the young. We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests, we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns.

We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons. We stopped being our neighbor's keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war, and by our sins we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters. We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now with shame we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!

Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life. He has given you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the church and for all humanity. By God's gracious will, you are ever with us; even in the most troubled moments of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.

We now turn to you and knock at the door of your heart. We are your beloved children. In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Say to us once more: "Am I not here, I who am your Mother?" You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you we place our trust. We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.

That is what you did at Cana in Galilee, when you interceded with Jesus and he worked the first of his signs. To preserve the joy of the wedding feast, you said to him: "They have no wine" (Jn 2:3). Now, O Mother, repeat those words and that prayer, for in our own day we have run out of the wine of hope, joy has fled, fraternity has faded. We have forgotten our humanity and squandered the gift of peace. We opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness. How greatly we need your maternal help!

Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.

Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.

Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths of reconciliation.

Queen of Heaven, restore God's peace to the world.

Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge, and teach us forgiveness.

Free us from war, protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.

Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love.

Queen of the Human Family, show people the path of fraternity.

Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.

O Mother, may your sorrowful plea stir our hardened hearts. May the tears you shed for us make this valley parched by our hatred blossom anew. Amid the thunder of weapons, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace. May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs. May your motherly embrace comfort those forced to leave their homes and their native land. May your sorrowful heart move us to compassion and inspire us to open our doors and to care for our brothers and sisters who are injured and cast aside.

Holy Mother of God, as you stood beneath the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: "Behold your son" (Jn 19:26). In this way, he entrusted each of us to you. To the disciple, and to each of us, he said: "Behold, your Mother" (Jn 19:27). Mother Mary, we now desire to welcome you into our lives and our history.

At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ. The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.

Therefore, Mother of God and our mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world. The "fiat" that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more. To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.

Through your intercession, may God's mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the "fiat," on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our "living fountain of hope," water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.


Here are the language versions of the text provided by the Vatican as of this moment.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Church Lunar Calendar

Having just seen the last full moon before Spring (March 18, 2022), all of the sons of Abraham, our father in the Faith, are now awaiting the first full moon of Spring after which is the Paschal Mystery, the death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Salvator mundi, the logic of Passover.

Here is an article in The Catholic Encyclopedia on all things lunar pertaining to the Church.

(Greek épaktai hemérai; Latin dies adjecti).

The surplus days of the solar over the lunar year; hence, more freely, the number of days in the age of the moon on 1 January of any given year. The whole system of epacts is based on the Metonic Lunar Cycle (otherwise known as the Cycle of Golden Numbers), and serves to indicate the days of the year on which the new moons occur.

The Church lunar calendar

It is generally held that the Last Supper took place on the Jewish Feast of the Passover, which was always kept on the fourteenth day of the first month of the old Jewish calendar. Consequently, since this month always began with that new moon of which the fourteenth day occurred on or next after the vernal equinox, Christ arose from the dead on Sunday, the seventeenth day of the so-called paschal moon. It is evident, then, that an exact anniversary of Easter is impossible except in years in which the seventeenth day of the paschal moon falls on Sunday. In the early days of Christianity there existed a difference of opinion between the Eastern and Western Churches as to the day on which Easter ought to be kept, the former keeping it on the fourteenth day and the latter on the Sunday following. To secure uniformity of practice, the Council of Nicæa (325) decreed that the Western method of keeping Easter on the Sunday after the fourteenth day of the moon should be adopted throughout the Churchbelieving no doubt that this mode fitted in better with the historical facts and wishing to give a lasting proof that the Jewish Passover was not, as the Quartodeciman heretics believed, an ordinance of Christianity.

As in the Julian calendar the months had lost all their original reference to the moon, the early Christians were compelled to use the Metonic Lunar Cycle of the Greeks to find the fourteenth day of the paschal moon. This cycle in its original form continued to be used until 1582, when it was revised and embodied in the Gregorian calendar. The Church claims no astronomical exactness for her lunar calendar; we shall show presently the confusion which would necessarily result from an extreme adherence to precise astronomical data in determining the date of Easter. She wishes merely to ensure that the fourteenth day of the calendar moon shall fall on or shortly after the real fourteenth day but never before it, since it would be chronologically absurd to keep Easter on or before the Passover. Otherwise, as Clavius plainly states (Romani Calendarii a Gregorio XIII P.M. restituti explicatio, cap. V, § 13, p. 85), she regards with indifference the occurrence of the moons on the day before or after their proper seats and cares much more for peace and uniformity than for the equinox and the new moon. It may be mentioned here that Clavius's estimate of the accuracy of the calendar, in the compilations of which he took such a leading part, is extremely modest, and the seats assigned by him to the new moons tally with strict astronomical findings in a degree which he seems never to have anticipated. The impossibility of taking the astronomical moons as our sole guide in finding the date of Easter will be best understood from an example: Let us suppose that Easter is to be kept (as is at least implied by the British Act of Parliament regulating its date) on the Sunday after the astronomical full moon, and that this full moon, as sometimes happens, occurs just before midnight on Saturday evening in the western districts of London or New York. The full moon will therefore happen a little after midnight in the eastern districts, so that Easter, if regulated strictly by the paschal full moon, must be kept on one Sunday in the western and on the following Sunday in the eastern districts of the same city. Lest it be thought that this is carrying astronomical exactness to extremes, we may say that, if Easter were dependent on the astronomical moons, the feast could not always be kept on the same Sunday in England and America. Seeing, therefore, that astronomical accuracy must at some point give way to convenience and that an arbitrary decision on this point is necessary, the Church has drawn up a lunar calendar which maintains as close a relation with the astronomical moons as is practicable, and has decreed that Easter is to be kept on the Sunday after the fourteenth day of the paschal moon as indicated by this calendar.

Metonic lunar cycle or cycle of golden numbers

In the year now known as 432 B.C., Meton, an Athenian astronomer, discovered that 235 lunations (i.e. lunar months) correspond with 19 solar years, or, as we might express it, that after a period of 19 solar years the new moons occur again on the same days of the solar year. He therefore divided the calendar into periods of 19 years, which he numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. to 19, and assumed that the new moons would always fall on the same days in the years indicated by the same number. This discovery found such favour among the Athenians that the number assigned to the current year in the Metonic Cycle was henceforth written in golden characters on a pillar in the temple, and, whether owing to this circumstance or to the importance of the discovery itself, was known as the Golden Number of the year. As the 19 years of the Metonic Cycle were purely lunar (i.e. each contained an exact number of lunar months) and contained in the aggregate 235 lunations, it was clearly impossible that all the years should be of equal length. To twelve of the 19 years 12 lunations were assigned, and to the other seven 13 lunations, the thirteenth lunation being known as the embolismic or intercalary month.

Length of the lunations

The latest calculations have shown that the average duration of the lunar month is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 mins., 3 secs. To avoid the difficulty of reckoning fractions of a day in the calendar, all computators, ancient and modern, have assigned 30 and 29 days alternately to the lunations of the year, and regarded the ordinary lunar year of 12 lunations as lasting 354 days, whereas it really lasts some 8 hours and 48 mins. longer. This under-estimation of the year is compensated for in two ways: (1) by the insertion of one extra day in the lunar (as in the solar) calendar every fourth year, and (2) by assigning 30 days to six of the seven embolismic lunations, although the average lunation lasts only about 29.5 days. A comparison of the solar and lunar calendars for 76 years (one cycle of 19 years is unsuitable in this case, since it contains sometimes 4, sometimes 5, leap years) will make this clearer:

76 solar years = (76 X 365) + 19, i.e. 27,759 days.

Therefore 940 calendar lunations (since 19 years equal 235 lunations) contain 27,759 days (29 d., 12 hrs., 44 mins., 3 secs. times 940 equals 27,758 d., 18 hrs., 7 mins.). But 940 lunations averaging 29.5 days equal only 27,730 days. Consequently, if we assign 30 and 29 days uninterruptedly to alternate lunations, the lunar calendar will, after 76 years, anticipate the solar by 29 days. The intercalation of the extra day every fourth year in the lunar calendar reduces the divergent to 10 days in 76 years i.e. 2.5 days in 19 years. The divergence is removed by assigning to the seven embolismic months (which would otherwise have contained 7 times 29.5, or 206.5, days) 209 days, 30 days being assigned to each of the first six and 29 to the seventh.

The manner of insertion of the embolismic months

As the Gregorian and Metonic calendars differ in the manner of inserting the embolismic months, only the former is spoken of here. It has just been said that seven of the 19 years of the lunar cycle contain a thirteenth, or embolismic, month, consisting in six cases of 30 days and in the seventh of 29 days. Granted that the first solar and lunar years begin on the same day (i.e. that the new moon occurs on 1 January), it is evident that, as the ordinary lunar year of 12 lunations is 11 days shorter than the solar, the lunar calendar will, after three years, anticipate the solar by 33 days. To the third lunar year, then, is added the first embolismic month of 30 days, reducing the divergence between the calendars to three days. After three further years, i.e. at the end of the sixth year, the divergence will have mounted to 36 (3 X 11 + 3) days, but, by the insertion of the second embolismic lunation, will be reduced to six days. Whenever, then, the divergence between the calendars amounts to more than 30 days, an embolismic month is added to the lunar year; at the end of the nineteenth lunar year, the divergence will be 29 days, and, as the last embolismic month consists of 29 days, it is clear that after the insertion of this month the nineteenth solar and lunar years will end on the same day and that the first new moon of the twentieth (as of the first) year will occur on 1 January. The divergence, therefore, at the end of the 19 successive years of the lunar cycle is: 11, 22, 3, 14, 25, 6, 17, 28, 9, 20, 1, 12, 23, 4, 15, 26, 7, 18, and 0 days.

Cycle of epacts

We have defined an epact as the age of the moon on 1 January, i.e. at the beginning of the year. If, then, the new moon occurs on 1 January in the first year of the Lunar Cycle, the Epact of the year is 0 or, as it is more usually expressed, *; and since the lunar year always begins with the new moon, it is clear that the divergence between the solar and lunar calendars, of which we have just been speaking, gives the Epacts of the succeeding years. Thus, after the first year, the divergence between the calendars amounts to 11 days; therefore, the new moon occurs 11 days before 1 January of the second solar year, which is expressed by saying that the Epact of the second solar year is XI. Granted, then, that the new moon occurs on 1 January in the first year of the Lunar Cycle, the epacts of the 19 years are as follows:

Golden Numbers12345678

Inaccuracy of the metonic cycle

Meton's theory, as adopted by the Church until the year 1582, might be briefly expressed as follows: The average Lunar Cycle consists of,

19 lunar years averaging 354.25 days, i.e. 6730.75 days.

6 extra, or embolismic, months of 30 days, i.e. 180 days.

1 embolismic month of 29 days.

Total......6939.75 days.

19 solar years averaging 365.25 days equal 6939.75. But later computators found that the average lunation lasts 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3 seconds, consequently:

235 calendar lunations (one Lunar Cycle) equal 6939 d. 18 h. 0 m. 0 s.
235 astronomical lunations equal 6939 d. 16 h. 31 m. 45 s.

Difference....1 h. 28 m.15 s.

We thus see that the average Lunar Cycle is about 1 hour too long, and that, though the new moons occur on the same dates in successive cycles, they occur, on an average, 1.5 hours earlier in the day. The astronomers entrusted with the reformation of the calendar calculated that after a period of 312.5 years (310 years is according to our figures a closer approximation) the new moons occur on the day preceding that indicated by the Lunar Cycle, that is, that the moon is one day older at the beginning of the year than the Metonic Cycle, if left unaltered would show, and they removed this inaccuracy by adding one day to the age of the moon (I. e. to the Epacts) every 300 years seven times in succession and then one day after 400 years (i.e. eight days in 8 X 312.5 or 2500 years). This addition of one to the Epacts is known as the Lunar Equation, and occurs at the beginning of the years 1800, 2100, 2400, 2700, 3000, 3300, 3600, 3900, 4300, 4600, etc. A second disturbance of the Epacts is caused by the occurrence of the non-bissextile centurial years. We have seen above that the assigning of 6939.75 days to 19 lunar years leads to an error of one day every 312.5 years, and that within these limits the lunar calendar must not be disturbed; but the assigning of 6939.75 days to every 19 solar years amounts to an error of 3 days every 400 years, and it is therefore necessary to omit one day from the solar calendar in every centurial year not divisible by 400. Consequently, since this extra day in February every fourth year is an essential part of the lunar calendar, the new moons will occur one day later in the non-bissextile centurial years than indicated by the Lunar Cycle (e.g. a new moon which under ordinary circumstances would have occurred on 29 February will occur on 1 March) and the age of the moon will, after the omission of the day, be one day less on all succeeding days of the solar year. As the fact that the January and February moons are not properly indicated is immaterial in a system whose sole object is to indicate as nearly as practicable the fourteenth day of the moon after 21 March, the subtraction of one from the Epacts takes place at the beginning of all non-bissextile centurial years and is known as the Solar equation. In the following table, +1 is written after the years which have the Lunar Equation, and -1 after those which have the Solar:























Clavius continued this table as far as the year 300,000, inserting the Lunar Equation eight times every 2500 years and the Solar three times every 400 years. As he thus treats the year 5200 as a leap year his table is untrustworthy after 5199.

Indication of new moons

Before proceeding further, it will be convenient to consider the method devised by Lilius of indicating the new moons of the year in the Gregorian calendar. As the first lunation of the year consists of 30 days, he wrote the Epacts *, XXIX, XXVIII . . . III, II, I opposite the first thirty days of January; then continuing, he wrote * opposite the thirty-first, XXIX opposite the first of February and so on to the end of the year, except that in the case of the lunations of 29 days he wrote the two Epacts XXV, XXIV opposite the same day (cf. 5 Feb., 4 April, etc. in the Church calendar). From this arrangement it is evident that if, for example, the Epact of a year is X, the new moons will occur in that year on the days before which the Epact X is placed in the calendar. One qualification must be made to this statement. According to the Metonic Cycle, the new moon can never occur twice on the same date in the same nineteen years (the case is exceedingly rare even in the purely astronomical calendar); consequently, whenever the two Epacts XXV and XXIV occur in the same nineteen years, the new moons of the year whose Epact is XXV are indicated in the months of 29 days by Epact XXVI, with which the number 25 is for this object associated in the Church calendar.

How to find the epact

We have already seen that the Church used the Metonic Cycle until the year 1582 as the only practical means devised of finding the fourteenth day of the paschal moon. Now, this cycle has always been regarded as starting from the year 1 B.C., and not from the year of its introduction (432 B.C.), probably (although all the authors we have seen appear to have overlooked the point) because such change was found necessary if the leading characteristic of the Metonic Cycle were to be retained in changing from a lunar to a solar calendar viz., that the first lunar and solar years of the cycle should begin on the same day. That two nations with calendars so fundamentally different as those of the Greeks and the Romans should regard the solar year as beginning with the same phases of the sun would be highly improbable, even if there were no direct evidence that such was not the case. But we have shown that when the solar and lunar years begin on the same day, the Epacts of the successive years of the cycle are:

Golden Numbers12345678

Consequently, if we divide the calendar into cycles of 19 years from 1 B.C., the first year of each cycle will have the Epact *, the second the Epact XI and so on, or, in other words, the Epact of any year before 1582 depends solely on its Golden Number. The Golden Number of any year may be found by adding 1 to the year and dividing by 19, the quotient showing the number of complete cycles elapsed since 1 B.C. and the remainder (or, if there be no remainder, 19) being the Golden Number of the year. Thus, for example, the Golden Number of 1484 is 3, since (1484+1)÷19 = 78, with 3 as remainder; therefore the Epact of the year 1484 is XXII.

In the course of time it was found that the paschal moon of the Metonic Cycle was losing all relation to the real paschal moon, and in the sixteenth century (c. 1576) Gregory XIII entrusted the task of reforming the calendar to a small body of astronomers, of whom Lilius and Clavius are the most renowned. These astronomers having drawn up the table of equations to show the changes in the Epacts necessary to preserve the relations between the ecclesiastical and astronomical calendars, proceeded to calculate the proper Epacts for the years of the Lunar Cycle after 1582. These they found to be as follows:

Golden Numbers12345678

Now the essential difference between the Metonic Cycle and the Gregorian system of Epacts lies in this, that, whereas the sphere of application of the former was held to be unlimited, that of the latter is bounded by the Lunar and Solar equations. Since, then, a Solar Equation occurs in 1700, the Cycle of Epacts just given holds only for the period 1582-1699, after which a new cycle must be formed. To understand the reason of the changes we must remember

(1) that by treating 365 days as equivalent to one solar year and to 12 lunations plus 11 days, we under-estimate the solar year by about 5.8 hours and the lunations by 8.8 hours;

(2) that in consequence of this under-estimation of the solar year, one day must be inserted in every fourth solar year except in the case of the centurial years not divisible by 400; and

(3) that the under-estimation of the lunations by 6 hours every year (the additional 2.8 hours are compensated for in the embolismic months and by the Lunar Equation) necessitates the insertion of one extra day in the lunar calendar every fourth year without exception.

To take an example: the Epact of 1696 (its Golden Number being 6) is XXVI, and since this Epact is found opposite 4 February in the Church calendar we know that in 1696 the new moon happened on that date and that consequently 23 February was the twentieth day of the calendar moon. But, since the under-estimation of the lunations amounts to one day in every four years, the following day (our 24 Feb.) was only nominally the twenty-first day of the moon and the proper twenty-first was our 25 February. The Church therefore inserted an extra day after 23 February and treated this and the real 24 Feb. (our 24 and 25) as one continuous day in both the solar and lunar calendars, and consequently 25 February (our 26) was again legitimately regarded as the twenty-second day of the moon and the fifty-sixth day of the astronomical solar year. Coming now to the year 1700, we find its Epact to be X, consequently the new moon occurred on 19 February and 23 February was the fifth day of the calendar moon. But, since no extra day could be inserted in February, 1700, the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth of this month had to be treated as the sixth day of the moon, and the age of the moon on every subsequent day of the year 1700 was one day less than indicated by the Epact X. As the moons of January and February are of very secondary importance in the Church calendar, we may say that the age of the moon in 1700 and all subsequent years was one day less than indicated by the above Cycle of Epacts, and thus the Epacts for the years of the Lunar Cycle after 1700 are:

Golden Numbers12345678

In the year 1800, both the Lunar and Solar Equations (i.e. the addition and subtraction of 1) occur and no change of Epacts takes place. In 1900 the Solar Equation occurs and we must again subtract 1 from the Epacts. No change takes place in 2000 or in 2100, the former being a leap year and the latter having both equations. In 2200 and in 2300, we must again subtract 1, while in 2400, in which the Lunar Equation occurs and is not neutralized as usual by the Solar Equation, we add 1 to all the Epacts. The accompanying table [below] gives the Epact of every year from 1 B.C. to A.D. 3099.

Examples. (1) To find the Epact of the year 3097. Golden Number is 1, since (3097+1)÷19 = 163, with 1 as remainder. Epact corresponding to Golden Number 1 after 2900 is XXV; therefore the Epact of 3097 is XXV.

(2) On what Sunday will Easter fall in the year 2459? Golden Number of 2459 is 9, and Epact of ninth year of Lunar Cycle after 2400 is XXVI. Since the Epact of 2459 is XXVI, the new moons of this year will occur on the days before which XXVI is placed in the church calendar (e.g. in the Breviary). Now, since the paschal moon is that whose fourteenth day falls on or next after 21 March, the paschal new moon can never happen before 8 March. The first day after 8 March to which the Epact XXVI is prefixed in the Church calendar is 4 April: consequently the paschal new moon in the year 2459 will occur on 4 April. Counting 14 days from 4 April, which we include in our reckoning, we find the fourteenth day of the paschal moon to be 17 April. In 2459, therefore, Easter will be kept on the Sunday after 17 April, which with the help of the Dominical Letters is found to be 20 April.

1 B.C.-
A.D. 1582
This table may, with the help of the table equations, be continued to 5199.


APA citation. Kennedy, T. (1909). Epact. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 20, 2022 from New Advent:

MLA citation. Kennedy, Thomas. "Epact." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 20 Mar. 2022 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Rick McCarty.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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