An Indelible Seal

It’s 11 a.m. on 11/11 — traditionally (think medieval tradition) the first day of winter, although you wouldn’t know it on this sunny day in the San Francisco Bay! After a month or more on hiatus, the podcast is back with reflections on my institution as lector last week, the unique nature of ordination and the Catholic priesthood, and the number one thing which annoys me more than ANYTHING! But you’ll have to listen to the whole show to learn my secret weakness…

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Opening music: “Dirait-on,” movement V. of ‘Les chansons des roses,’ composed by Morten Lauridsen, performed by the Chamber Choir of Europe, 2009. All rights reserved.


On Worship ‘Ad Orientem’

“It was much to the devil’s advantage to turn the priest around to the people, creating a charmed circle of neighborly affirmation that brought the experience of the Mass down to the level of a horizontal exchange, a back-and-forth in everyday speech. There is nothing transcendent about that; on the contrary, God is domesticated, tamed, manipulable — not a recipient of sacrifice but a subject of conversation.


I was hiking in the Adirondacks. I was standing on the bank of a wide, tumultuous river. The water was moving with incredible speed and ferocity. It looked dangerous, mighty, and much more powerful than I. Yet it was exactly as it should be, and in that, it possessed some kind of restfulness. As I watched it flow by, I felt a tinge of sadness, almost like envy but without the weightiness: how I wished to know my part in all of it, to move with that same confidence and serenity, unafraid of the gifts God has given – unafraid of letting his power crash its way through my life.

I have often felt that way when I’m in nature. I’ve never seen a tree going through an existential crisis –  It must be nice to be so rooted, physically and metaphysically. But God became man, not a tree; so I’d rather take the tension.”


A Fallen Rose

Jesus, to aid thy feeble powers
     I see thy Mother’s arms outspread,
As thou on this sad earth of ours
     Dost set thy first, thy faltering tread:
See, in thy path I cast away
     A rose in all its beauty dressed,
That on its petals’ disarray
     Thy feet, so light, may softly rest.
Jésus, quand je te vois soutenu par ta Mère,
     Quitter ses bras,
Essayer en tremblant sur notre triste terre
     Tes premiers pas,
Devant toi je voudrais effeuiller une rose
     En sa fraîcheur
Pour que ton petit pied bien doucement repose
     Sur une fleur!…
Dear Infant Christ, this fallen rose
     True image of that heart should be
Which makes, as every instant flows,
     Its whole burnt-sacrifice to thee.
Upon thy altars, Lord, there gleams
     Full many a flower whose grand display
Charms thee; but I have other dreams—
     Bloomless, to cast myself away.
Cette rose effeuillée, c’est la fidèle image,
     Divin Enfant,
Du coeur qui veut pour toi s’immoler sans partage
     A chaque instant.
Seigneur, sur tes autels plus d’une fraîche rose
     Aime à briller.
Elle se donne à toi… mais je rève autre chose:
     “C’est m’effeuiller!…”
Dear Lord, the flowers that blossom yet
     Thy feast-day with their perfume fill;
The rose that’s fallen, men forget
     And winds may scatter where they will;
The rose that’s fallen questions not,
     Content, as for thy sake, to die.
Abandonment its welcome lot—
     Dear Infant Christ, that rose be I!
La rose en son éclat peut embellir ta fête,
     Aimable Enfant;
Mais la rose effeuillée, simplement on la jette
     Au gré du vent.
Une rose effeuillée sans recherche se donne
     Pour n’être plus.
Comme elle avec bonheur à toi je m’abandonne,
     Petit Jésus.
Yet those same petals, trampled down,—
     I read the message in my heart—
In patterns here and there are blown
     That seem too beautiful for art:
Living to mortal eyes no more,
     Rose of a bloom for ever past,
See to thy love a life made o’er,
     A future on thy mercy cast!
L’on marche sans regret sur des feuilles de rose,
     Et ces débris
Sont un simple ornement que sans art on dispose,
     Je l’ai compris.
Jésus, pour ton amour j’ai prodigué ma vie,
     Mon avenir.
Aux regards des mortels, rose à jamais flétrie
     Je dois mourir!…
For love of Loveliness supreme
     Dying, to cast myself away
Were bright fulfillment of my dream;
     I’d prove my love no easier way;—
Live, here below, forgotten still,
     A rose before thy path outspread
At Nazareth; or on Calvary’s hill
     Relieve thy last, thy labouring tread.
Pour toi, je dois mourir, Enfant, Beauté Suprême,
     Quel heureux sort!
Je veux en m’effeuillant te prouver que je t’aime,
     O mon Trésor!…
Sous tes pas enfantins, je veux avec mystère
     Vivre ici-bas;
Et je voudrais encor adoucir au Calvaire
     Tes derniers pas!…
—Tr. R. A. Knox (1888-1957) —Ste. Thèrèse de l’Enfant Jésus

My Vocation is Love

Why am I driving down Highway 101 in the dark at 6:00 in the morning? Because it’s my sister(-saint)’s feast day, and I have to be with the rest of the family for Morning Prayer and Mass, that’s why! Join me and St. Thérèse on the road to chat about vocation, discernment, and the universal call to holiness. “My vocation is love!” — And so is yours!

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Opening music: “Bless the Lord,” performed by *Ncense, 2008. All rights reserved.

The Head and the Body

One of the hallmarks of the modern world is division. Conservative or liberal? Progressive or traditional? Sadly, some even go so far as to try to divide Christ from the Church—as if the Head were taking us one direction and His Body going the opposite way! But just as a living person’s head can’t be separated from his body (and hopefully you’ll all take this on faith without trying to verify it yourself!), Christ can never be separated from His living Body on earth, the Church. In this episode, I discuss how faith in Christ entails faith in the Church He founded, and how living out of this truth in simplicity and hope can help us overcome our own divisions to be a better witness to the world.

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Opening music: “Te Deum – Hymnus (tonus monasticus),” sung by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice & Saint Maur, Clervaux, Luxembourg, 1987. All rights reserved.

To Proclaim the Word of God

Praised be Jesus! Today, my patronal feast day, I took one more step along the path to ordination as a priest. I wrote and sent to my Archbishop my formal petition to be installed as a Lector. If His Excellency accepts my petition, then I will be “installed” at a Mass with my classmates on November 15th—the commemoration of All Carmelite Souls.

In a way, installation as a Lector is the first official recognition on the part of the Church of a candidate for Holy Orders. In the olden days, before Vatican II, there were 7 minor orders which a man would receive successively each year throughout his formation:


When a candidate was accepted into the seminary, he would receive “tonsure” (clipping of a lock of his hair), which marked his entrance into the clerical state. However, Pope Paul VI eliminated first tonsure and the minor orders of porter and exorcist, as well as the subdiaconate, with his apostolic letter Ministeria quaedam in 1972. The remaining minor orders of lector and acolyte were renamed “ministries,” in part to better express the fact that, with the elimination of the rite of tonsure, those who receive these ministries remain laymen. (Entrance into the clerical state now takes place with ordination to the diaconate.)

Thus there are now 4 “steps,” with associated liturgical rites, on this staircase: institution first as a lector, then an acolyte, and ordination first as a deacon, then a priest!

Please pray for me, that I “may be faithful to the work entrusted to [me], proclaim Christ to the world, and so give glory to our Father in heaven” (De institutione lectoris, 4).

My petition:

21 September 2018
Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist

Your Excellency,

In accordance with Canon 1035, §1, of the Code of Canon Law, which requires those seeking Holy Orders to have received the Ministry of Lector and to have exercised that ministry for a suitable period of time, I do hereby petition to be installed in the Ministry of Lector.

I am aware of the responsibilities of the ministry I am requesting, namely, to proclaim the Word of God with reverence, attention, and devotion in the Sacred Liturgy. I therefore promise to meditate daily on Sacred Scripture, “that Christ, by faith, may dwell in my heart” (Oratio ante S. Scripturae Lectionis).

Furthermore, I resolve to make every effort and employ all suitable means to acquire that living love and knowledge of Scripture which will make me a more perfect disciple of the Lord. I firmly intend to exercise this ministry in faithful service to God and the Church, for the glory of the Blessed Trinity and the salvation of sinners, of whom I am the first.

I make this request for installation in the Ministry of Lector freely and in my own hand.

With all filial devotion, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Matthew Knight


“Out of respect and honor for Matthew, the other Evangelists did not wish to give him his usual name. They called him Levi; for he had two names. But Matthew (according to the saying of Solomon, ‘The just man is the first to accuse himself,’ and again, ‘Confess your sins that you may be justified’) calls himself Matthew and a publican, to show his readers that no one need despair of salvation if he is converted to better things, since he himself was suddenly changed from a publican into an Apostle.”

A Plan of God’s Love

If you want to be a better athlete, you need an exercise plan. If you want to be a better student, you need a plan of study. So what if you want to be a better Christian—a holier (and therefore happier) son or daughter of the Father? What you need is a plan of God’s love: a plan to know, love, and serve Him a little better each day. In this episode, I share my plan, and some advice for coming up with your own. Also: two elements which are essential if you want to advance quickly in the spiritual life; the one reason we puny human beings can know, love, or serve God at all (hint: it doesn’t come from ourselves!); and my response to a popular anti-Catholic myth…

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Opening music: “Laudes: Hymne – Puisqu’Il est avec nous,” composed by Philippe Robert, performed by the Choeur des Moines de l’Abbaye de Tamié, Savoie, France, 2010. All rights reserved.

Every Moment Was Right

Long journeys make great analogies for the spiritual life. What are we supposed to do with hardships, detours, and delays along the road? When you have no money to pay the toll? What about when you’re falling asleep at the wheel? Along those lines, let me tell you the story of my whirlwind weekend trip to Oregon and back for a friend’s ordination this Saturday…

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Opening music: “Loving Shepherd of thy Sheep,” arr. John Rutter (1991), performed by the Cambridge Singers and City of London Sinfonia, Cambridge, 2006. All rights reserved.