Feb 28

Reading Amoris Laetitia in Light of Trent

I wrote a piece over at the Catholic Stand.

Reading Amoris Laetitia in Light of TrentIn the debate over Amoris Laetitia, many people have made reference back to Familiaris Consortio 84 where John Paul II commands that for Communion, the divorced and civilly remarried “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

It is important to review what this statement is based upon so that we can understand why it cannot be changed. A post-synodal apostolic exhortation, as both of these documents are, can contain infallible statements but is not infallible in its entirety. As we can see in Amoris Laetitia, the Pope will often make specific pastoral recommendations in such documents, and pastoral recommendations can always be changed. In contrast the anathemas of an ecumenical council like Trent, are infallible.

The teaching that there is no sacramental absolution or Communion for those who are divorced, civilly remarried, and not trying to live his brother and sister is based on several fundamental truths: basic catechesis and two doctrines defined in Trent.

Read the rest there.

Feb 22

Mercy in Stories

Professor Schmalz and the book cover.

Professor Schmalz and the book cover.

A few months ago I received a free book on mercy from an associate professor of religious studies at a Catholic university. I was expecting a very technical explanation of what mercy was – a theological treatise. Instead,  it was a collection of personal stories.

Even though the year of mercy that inspired such a book is over, Mercy Matters: Opening Yourself to the Life-Changing Gift by Mathew N. Schmalz remains a worthwhile read. Setting up as a series of stories makes it much easier for us to apply it to our everyday life.

Schmalz’s stories come from everyday American life, from his experience as a missionary, and from discussing exceptional events like the Boston Marathon bombing with others. They hold a personal touch because they are all experiences within his own life and not just abstract examples.

He brings out certain moral and religious values from the stories. However, starting with the stories, some of which show him receiving mercy or imperfectly practicing it, allows him to avoid a huge pitfall of books on moral issues: his voice comes across offering hope to the reader and not as insisting on perfection from the reader. Even the few times the story shows him properly practicing mercy, his reflection is about all those factors which helped him do so not about how great he was.

Now, a few specific points about what mercy is that he presents.

He points out, “Compassion is co-suffering – recognizing and experiencing the interconnectedness of love and longing, anger and disappointment. Mercy comes in when you accept the whole thing – and the whole person.” Thus, mercy comes from a place of sharing the other’s burdens.

He shares a long story about having to kick a man out of a drug recovery program and send him to a homeless shelter because drugs were found in his system in a urine test. He struggles with how this could possibly be merciful. In the end, he realizes sometimes loving another means trying to show them who they are when they can’t face it themselves, and certain forms of love can only be given to someone who has a certain degree of self-awareness.

This story shows the need to give mercy to all, both perpetrator and victim. This comes out in his discussion of the Boston Marathon bombing. “Mercy to the killers [the Tsarnaev brothers] might be a way of responding to violence by breaking the cycle of recrimination and revenge. But that very same mercy also ran the risk of another kind of violence by insulting the many victims in the memory of those were killed.”

Near the end he gives an important point about the value of forgiving: “Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but a strength; forgiveness is not resignation, it is hope.”

So, if you struggle with practicing mercy, I would highly recommend this book as a way to learn about this wonderful virtue.

Disclaimer: Mathew sent me this book for free as a gift in appreciation for my presence on Twitter – it was free but not a review copy.

Feb 20

Pastoral handbook on ‘Amoris’ says answer is no on Communion

I summarized an important new book over at Crux:

cover image from CruxThree professors from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome indicate Amoris Laetitia upholds traditional teaching in a new bookAcompañar, Dicernir, Integrar: Vademécum para una nueva pastoral familiar a partir de la exhortación Amoris Laetitia (“Accompany, Discern, Integrate: Handbook for a new family ministry starting from the exhortation Amoris Laetitia”).

They interpret “the help of the sacraments” in the infamous footnote 351 to refer not to offering absolution or Communion, but to a less complete participation in the sacraments. Confession is not limited to absolution, but also involves three acts of the penitent – contrition, confession and satisfaction – which can be carried out imperfectly by someone unable to receive absolution and thus Communion.

Read the rest over at Crux.

Feb 10

What if we’ve been wrong about ‘Amoris’ all along?

I published this on Crux.

Amoris LaetitiaEver since it came out in April 2016, there’s been an avalanche of debate in Catholic circles about Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s document on the family. At least in English, both sides seem to agree that it permits Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried who continue relations in some circumstances, and the dispute is over whether that’s a good or bad thing.

Yet if you read Amoris as papal documents are supposed to be read, meaning absorbing the full text in the context of Catholic tradition, the whole premise of the debate may be flawed – that is, Pope Francis may not have opened to door to Communion after all.

Pope Benedict XVI used the phrase “hermeneutic of continuity” to refer to reading as a whole and within tradition, and Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, has said that’s  the only way to read Amoris. That’s what I will attempt here.

Before we dive in, there’s a crucial distinction to make: There’s a significant difference between those who understand Church teaching and still choose to engage in sexual relations in a second marriage, and those who fail to live the Church’s teaching either from ignorance or weakness.

Pope Francis seems to make this distinction more clearly than previous Church teaching.

Here’s the bottom line: Contrary to popular opinion…

Read the rest on Crux.

Jan 29

The 29 Most Lit Signs at the 2017 March for Life

On Friday January 27, well over half a million gathered in Washington to commemorate 44 years since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal nationwide. (2013 was 650,000 and regulars kept telling me this was the biggest crowd ever.)

Many people held printed signs with phrases like “I Am the Pro-Life Generation,” “Stop Abortion Now,” or “[Organization or Church] Supports Life.” But what always impresses me are the handwritten signs that show a personal conviction.

I spent much of the March taking pictures of homemade signs and posting them to Twitter. The morning after, I went through and found the best of those signs for this story.

Here are 29 that I think are totally LIT! Click any for full resolution.


Unplanned Pregnancies can do great things!


No excuse for killing a child


The loving option…

MFL 10

Real social justice!


Every group can be pro-life and this man is a great example of this. (And he shows intersectionality which is a very important concept now in social justice / rights.)


I’m with Both (mom & child).


Whole life pro-life ethic.


Another post with intersectionality pointing out the racist nature of current and historical abortion practice.


Take your chances on life!




These people came all the way from Scotland to March with us.

MFL 28

Jesus loves everyone, but the Gospels show a special love for those who’ve fallen.

MFL 27

Love all women!

MFL 26

A Down Syndrome diagnosis should not be a death sentence.

MFL 25

Every life is worth saving… from someone who is vocally pro-abortion.

MFL 24

People are willing to adopt.

MFL 23

Total Nerd. This is from Dr Who (a show involving time travel) if you don’t get it.

MFL 22

We are all former fetuses.

MFL 21

Here’s a real Feminist!

MFL 11

Let’s be there for every mother.

MFL 20

Women deserve better.

MFL 19

Protect all.

MFL 18

Every person is a person… no matter the size.

MFL 17

I am a CHILD.

MFL 16

Chick-fil-A almost got a product placement.

MFL 15

The true safe space.

MFL 14

This should be what people mean when they say All Lives Matter.

MFL 13

Accept the gift.

MFL 12

A prayer from John Paul II

To conclude, I want to make a few notes:

  1. I took every picture and I got permission for those of minors.
  2. Every picture is run through an HDR filter.
  3. You can reuse these pictures on a few conditions: you give me credit (@FrMatthewLC or Fr Matthew P. Schneider, LC), send me a link via social media, and if you want to sell it or use it for advertisement ask me 1st as I want a cut.

Dec 19

Birthday Rosaries for Pope Francis

Pope Francis Visits Mary after the Canonization Mass of St Juniper Serra

I mailed the following 1-page letter to Pope Francis.

Dear Pope Francis in Christ,

Happy birthday! I hope that you had a blessed and holy birthday filled with God’s joy and love. Since your birthday was on Saturday, a group of us thought it would be appropriate to each offer a rosary for you on this special day. We just hope that God protects you and guide you in a difficult mission of leading the Church. Our rosaries are a small gift of gratitude for all you have done for the Church. We hope that you continue to receive spiritual strength as you get older.

May Mary continue to guide you.

Sincerely in Christ,

David Rojas Bracho United States, The Buckley Family United States, Gregory Matuszynski II United States, Tom Grande United States, Kimberly Walsh United States, Kaitlyn Mason United States, Deborah Tonnes United States, Emily Kate Marticello United States, Jean Soto United States, Greg Peter United States, Matt Passarell United States, Gav’riel Singapore, Jacqueline A Lewis United States, Terttu Pohjolainen Finland, Patricia United States, Palma Ryckebuscg United States, Sam Syrian Arab Republic, Maritza United States, Pilar Sowy Costa Rica, Sarah Buchholz United States, Millie Shomin United States, Vincent Micallef Malta, Timothy United States, The Cavanagh Family United States, Bonnie Canada, Michelle United Kingdom, Grace United States, Andrew Mizenko United States, Meghan Donohue United States, Samuel Q United States, Christiane Müller Germany, Morgan Murdick United States, Stella Breathnach United Kingdom, Karen L Hostoffer United States, Mary Lou Rivera United States, MTPen United States, Lucy Gouveia India, Jenny Mulhall Ireland, Stephanie Callea South Africa, John Dunn United States, David Smith Canada, Sharon India, Trilbe Wynne United States, Maya Washington United States, Beth Cole United States, Benedict Teo Singapore, Maja Šimić Croatia, Fretard France, Grace Nigeria, Collins Gilbert Kenya, Suraj Paul India, Amelia K Olson United States, Arlene Treme United States, Andrew Rawicki United States, Mary Schaub United States, Andrew James Australia, Douglas Edwards United States, Aleks Croatia, Karen O’Hara United States, Marita Liebesman United States, Michael United States, Mark Ruiz United States, Alan Canada, Barbara Diamond United States, Godson Ikiebey Nigeria, Sarah Daggett United States, Cindy Roberts United States, Andrea Knepp United States, Jedidiah Nix United States, Christopher C Ogden United States, Maryanne United States, Patty United States, Anne Hendry Canada, Sandra J Mascarenhas United Kingdom, Scott Sirk United States, Tony Laurendi United States, Ryan Pecotte United States, JO United States, James Dyson United Kingdom, Agustinus Rakawi Malaysia, Mary Wallace United States, Flor Garcia-Luna United States, Joann United States, Samantha Bonifas United States, Ximena Martinez United States, Jennifer Teeter United States, Michael Brazil United States, Michael Brazil United States, Sean Lipfird United Kingdom, Sarah Kiczek United States, Maria Kiczek United States, Ashley Kiczek United States, Esmeralda Kiczek United States, Ann United States, Zulma Regalo United States, Cullen United States, Becca Allen United States, James Circello United States, Susan Harkey United States, Michaela Gallagher United States, Peter Nguyen United States, Communion Pastor United States, Jonathan United States, Mimi Smith United States, Benjamin Rinaldo United States, Karin Leisser-Haley United States, Fanny Malikebu Malawi, Alan Haley United States, JoAnna Rawicki United States, Dr Brian Kiczek United States, Dakota Myers United States, Joseph Greiveldinger United States, David Radii Mexico, Tom Riddle United States, Marcus Walden United States, Andrea Italy, Heather O’Connor United States, Leo Wong United States, Evva Kirkwood United States, Brandon United States, Deacon John Giglio United States, Will Sturgeon United States, and Fr Matthew Schneider LC United States.

P.s. You can see individual comments from about half of us at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rosary-for-pope-francis.

Dec 05

Modesty Is a Direction Not a Line

I wrote my monthly piece on Catholic Stand about the virtue of modesty:

cy7kaiixgaaaaynI get frustrated when I see this seemingly endless discussion in certain Catholic circles about how women should dress. How long should the skirt be? Are skinny jeans appropriate? How much cleavage is allowed?

I also remember my sisters describing shopping for wedding dresses and the saleswoman assuming they were Mormons because they didn’t want a strapless gown or too much cleavage. They were really annoyed when only shown dresses with tiny sleeves that looked more like extended shoulder pads because that was the Mormon minimum but looked horrendous on them due to their shoulder shape.

On Twitter I get sent a lot of “ask a priest” questions and about once a week the theme is modesty: is jogging as a date modest? Does listening to this song go against modesty? What about this hand gesture?

Problems with the modesty line

Unfortunately so much of the discussion I hear or the phrasing of the questions I read is based on a misunderstanding of what modesty is. Modesty is not a line where your skirt can’t be more than 13.5 inches above your ankle and your cleavage can’t be more than 0.25 inches. If we impose such legalism and exacting standards, no wonder people are stressed out about it: no wonder it’s one of the top questions I receive.

Having a line for modesty creates several other problems…

Read the rest there.

Dec 01

5 Hidden heroes I’ve known in my life

I  wrote about our need for heroes over at Aeteia:

web-sailor-baby-infant-navy-dvidshub-ccModern society seems to find it tough to find heroes. Instead of turning to the saints, we often look to celebrities (who often aren’t real heroes) or to superheroes (who often aren’t real).

Where can we find heroes for ourselves and for the next generation? In an almost hero-less society, we can’t go about it in a haphazard way.

I like the suggestion Wendy Shalit made (she’s the author of A Return to Modesty, if the name sounds vaguely familiar but you can’t put a finger on it). She says “we must all somehow, step up and become heroes for one another.”

So often, we can look for role models but Shalit’s comment reminds us that if we want heroes or role models for adults and for kids, we ourselves need to become those people.

Read the rest over there.

Nov 21

A quick summary of pope’s letter ending the Year of Mercy

I wrote a summary of this letter for Crux:

As the Year of Mercy ended, Pdf21efeee82a337d09d1cdf7e65d35c4-690x450ope Francis signed an apostolic letter imploring us to continue being merciful called Misericordia et Misera. This letter continues key themes of Francis. The title refers to the mercy with misery Jesus grants the woman caught in adultery. I intend to provide the key lines here with minimal commentary where needed.

He gets to his thesis fast: “Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church; it constitutes her very existence, through which the profound truths of the Gospel are made manifest and tangible.  Everything is revealed in mercy; everything is resolved in the merciful love of the Father.” (1 – numbers in brackets refer to paragraphs in the document).

Forgiveness is the most visible sign of the Father’s love, which Jesus sought to reveal by his entire life.  Every page of the Gospel is marked by this imperative of a love that loves to the point of forgiveness.” (2)

Read the rest there.

Oct 04

Men Only! Mary Story Contest

When we think about Mary, we tend to think a lot about how women have been helped. I know many men who have also been helped. A few weeks ago, Crossbound rosaries offered me one of their manly paracord rosaries. I want to offer it as the prize for the best story by a man about how Mary helped him. I think this is also a great way to celebrate the month of the rosary.

Here are 3 pictures of the rosary:

ax-jtgqd rqqy42xr dps0_mrj


  1. Entries must be received by Monday, October 10th at 2pm Eastern..
  2. Entry is open to males only age 12 and up.
  3. Stories must be about the author (male relatives from the past 100 years can also work).
  4. By entering you give me permission to publish your comments. (I will only put a first name and last initial to protect privacy.)
  5. I will pick what I think is the best entry. My decision of a winner is final and cannot be appealed even though it is likely subjective.
  6. I will contact the winner via email to mail them the rosary.

No more submissions accepted. Winner announced soon.

Sep 21

How I use Twitter

How I use Twitter

I’ve somehow succeeded on Twitter so I finally decided I would explain some of how I work. I did so in a series of tweets I’ll post here as a blog.

Update: I finished out my cleaning at a little over 20,000 people unfollowed a few days ago.

After I thought I’d finished, a few more thought came up:

Sep 17

Genocide of Christians by ISIS a reality we can’t ignore

I think there is a storng moral argument to help persecuted Christians and this argument was just published on Crux.

3269414206_d6fb3b36e5Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Usually, we apply this verse to serving the poor or sick; but if we think about it, a person who faces daily death threats, whose family has been killed, and whose whole society is in real danger of extinction, definitely qualifies as “one of the least of these my brethren.”

In that spirit, the ongoing genocide of Christians in the Middle East, especially in ISIS-controlled areas, is a reality we cannot deny.

Crux editor John Allen Jr. documented the persecution of Christians a few years back inThe Global War on Christians but the situation in the Middle East has deteriorated significantly since then. Christ based his judgment in Matthew 25 on how we dealt with these least: this applies not just individually, but how we – as an at least nominally Christian nation – respond to genocide against these least of Christ’s brothers.

Recently, I was at a conference run by In Defense of Christians, a non-profit founded to help persecuted Christian minorities. Andrew Doran, a senior advisor to IDC, began the conference by laying out the arguments used to convince both the U.S. Congress and the State Department to declare the violence against Christians and Yazidis and other minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide.

Read the rest over on Crux.

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