Sunday, October 4, 2020

R.I.P. Monsignor Joseph Ambrosio




It was with extreme sadness that we learned of the passing of the Rev. Monsignor Joseph Ambrosio on the morning of Sunday, October 4th, 2020 -- an inimitable Monsignor if there ever was one. There were so many qualities that made him an excellent person, a great friend, a faithful Christian, and an exemplary Priest. It can be safely said that, in these days of liturgical chaos, no one outdid him in his zealous dedication for the beauty of the House of God and that it was a great joy to serve Mass when he was the Celebrant.

Not only did he try to rescue liturgical items from closed churches in order to put them to good liturgical use in his own church, but he washed, starched, pressed, and repaired the sacred linens himself, as he believed it was his duty to take care of the Sanctuary and the Tabernacle of which he was made the custodian. Everyone who ever visited his church and attended his Masses will testify that he always wanted the best for the Liturgy: vestments, music, sacred vessels, Relics, ceremonies, all types of liturgical items, etc. Additionally, he very graciously donated many of these things to other communities that did not have what was needed for the reverent and beautiful celebration of the Liturgy.

A truly humble priest, he would most often refer to himself simply as “Fr. Ambrosio,” despite his title of Monsignor as a Chaplain to His Holiness. He would also frequently pray the beautiful Litany of Humility, which he seems to have known from memory and of which he would frequently remind people whenever certain things did not go as planned: “these things make us humble,” he would say.

In addition to his humility, he knew how to provide undeniably generous hospitality: servers, parishioners, priests, Bishops, and Cardinals were witnesses of his great level of generosity whenever they would visit his rectory. In particular, he was well-known for his famous invitations to dinner, which made everybody realize what an excellent cook he was, and he always made sure to provide full entertainment, since he would also sing and play the piano, as well as tell unforgettable stories in a way that he alone knew how – no one ever experienced a dull evening in Msgr. Ambrosio’s rectory! Ite ad Joseph had a different meaning in Newark, N.J.

His love for the Liturgy became much stronger when he began to celebrate the traditional Liturgy of the Roman Church, so much so that he eventually had all the Masses at Mt. Carmel celebrated ad orientem. He would also graciously accept invitations to celebrate the Old Mass in many different places and in particular in New York City at the Church of the Holy Innocents. Many of the parishioners and servers there grew to love and admire him. He frequently said that he loved going to Holy Innocents to celebrate the Old Mass, which for many years he did on his days off (Fridays), and several times he was heard saying: “Whenever I go to Holy Innocents, I feel young.” Once he said this at a dinner table full of servers, priests, and a couple of Bishops.

His passing from this world certainly leaves a tremendous void because people like the good old Monsignor are impossible to replace. May he rest in the eternal Peace of Christ.


Súscipe, Dómine, servum tuum in locum sperándæ sibi salvatiónis a misericórdia tua. Amen.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Feast of St. Pius V - "The Cardinal of God"

S A I N T    P I U S    V

In 1563, Pope Pius IV, on the anniversary of his Coronation, gave a great banquet to the Cardinals and ambassadors who had come to congratulate him. As they were rising from table the Holy Father declared his intention of raising to the purple Ferdinand de Medici, a boy of thirteen, and Frederic di Gonzaga, a youth of twenty. Taken by surprise, the assembled Cardinals weakly assented. … All but Cardinal Alexandrin [the future Pius V]: “Most Holy Father,” he cried earnestly, “after the Council of Trent has taken such pains to reform abuses, especially among the clergy, and to establish discipline, hitherto so miserably relaxed, what will be thought, if the Vicar of Jesus Christ ignores one of its most important decrees, that of admitting to ecclesiastical dignities only those subjects of suitable age and worth? With all humility I declare to your Holiness that I for one will not wound my conscience by subscribing to this promotion! The Church does not want children in her Councils, she wants strong men. … Let them enter Holy Orders in the usual way, and with their birth and gifts it will surely not be long before they become Cardinals! Your Holiness must also permit me to say that this banquet is not a Consistory, at which alone such claims can be properly decided!

This electrifying speech, no less remarkable for its courage than its sterling common sense, so impressed those present that the Cardinal of St. Angelo said afterwards: “I would have given all I possessed to have had the courage to speak like that!” The Pope, though startled, was not angry, but the negotiations were too far advanced for him to withdraw, and shortly after the two boys were created Cardinals. When the Florentine ambassador came, as was customary, to thank Cardinal Alexandrin [the future Pius V] for having with his fellows opened the Sacred College to his master, the intrepid answered: “Do not thank me! The promotion was absolutely against my desires! On the contrary, I opposed it with all my might, not out of hostility to the Medici family, but because my conscience would not allow me to approve of a child of thirteen becoming a Cardinal.The father of the young Prince, when these words were repeated to him, instead of showing anger, exclaimed: “Cardinal Alexandrin [the future Pius V] is in very truth a Cardinal of God!

Shield given to Juan of Austria by Pius V for the Battle of Lepanto

He exhorted to justice and holiness all grades of magistrates and rulers, and personally supervised their appointment. Numerous were the laws he made for the improvement of public morals —men and women of bad character, and Jewish usurers, being remorselessly banished— and for purity of life. Some of these laws, which sound curious to modern ears, were directed against innkeepers (who were forbidden to sell drink to their fellow citizens at what were houses of entertainment only for travelers and strangers); against brigands, wreckers, and pirates. ... The measures taken against blasphemy in any form were particularly strong.

These laws, at once put into force, were eminently successful. In less than a year the aspect of affairs had changed. Even three months after the Saint’s accession a German nobleman writes of the edifying piety of the whole city of Rome during Lent, and especially in Holy Week, when the churches could not contain the penitents, who slept on the bare ground and fasted rigorously. “As long as I live I shall witness, to the shame of Satan and all his ministers, that I saw in Rome at this time the most marvelous works of penitence and piety. . . . But nothing can astonish me under such-a Pope. His fasts, his humility, his innocence, his holiness, his zeal for the faith, shine so brilliantly that he seems a second St. Leo, or St. Gregory the Great. . . . I do not hesitate to say that had Calvin himself been raised from the tomb on Easter Day, and seen the holy Pope . . . blessing his kneeling people . . . in spite of himself he would have recognized and venerated the true representative of Jesus Christ!

The Pope’s measures for the reform of the Church were drastic. All bishops were bidden on pain of deprivation to return to their sees within one month; to live there, and to become true Fathers of their people. Seminaries were everywhere established, and at Fribourg a great college. The Decrees of the Council of Trent were to be rigorously observed by all grades of clergy. The most severe laws were passed against the detestable practice of simony. In France, great benefices and even bishoprics were actually held by women, who received all revenues, and paid an ecclesiastic to perform all necessary functions. This terrible state of things was sternly swept away. Strict regulations were made for all religious houses; perpetual enclosure being enjoined upon all convents of nuns, “except in cases of fire, leprosy, or pestilence.” The recital of the Divine Office was strictly enforced in every church, and the strongest measures were taken against irreverence in church. Conversations of any kind, whispering, jokes and laughter were sternly prohibited, as offending Almighty God in the Blessed Sacrament, and most severely punished, in the first instance by a heavy fine; in the second, by prison or exile. Priests, sacristans and officials were charged to enforce this decree. The crowds of beggars which assembled within the churches were no longer allowed to pass beyond the porch, except to pray.


If sinners trembled, the saints were jubilant as they witnessed the edifying example of Pius V and the purifying of civic life in the papal domain. They saw in him the patriarchal majesty of the Hebrew prophets from whose penetrating eyes no sins could be hid. Like the old Biblical seers, he inveighed against wickedness in high places; and men of good will recognized in him the Sword of Saint Michael, his namesake and protector, who should “drive into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls.” In him, the Church Militant had once again found a leader. God had raised him up for no other purpose. That he was a saint was evident as he went about doing good, washing the feet of the poor, embracing lepers, and visiting the afflicted.

When he died, he was sixty-six years of age and had filled Peter’s Chair with unfailing trust and patience and rigorous discipline for six years, seven months, and twenty-three days. He had fought the heresy of Luther and all its multitudinous off-shoots, the apostasy of England, the recalcitrance of France, the lethargy of Maximilian II, and the laxity of Sigismund Augustus of Poland. The seeds of missionary labor he planted have never ceased to bring forth abundant harvest for the Church. With holy zeal Pius V had dared to beard the Turk in his own lair on the sea. He broke the power of the Ottoman tyrants. He freed Christian slaves. He had, in fact, accomplished the impossible. For no matter how much acclaim Colonna and Don Juan received for their splendid exploits, nor what glory Venier, Doria, and Barbarigo had justly won, it was the indomitable will of Pius V that, in the face of a mountain of opposition, had made all these brave men’s achievements possible! Truly a great statesman and a mighty pontiff departed this earth when Pius V died!

The great triumph of Lepanto,” says a French writer, “would alone have immortalized St. Pius V.” Its importance will be better realized when it is remembered the Turk had never hitherto been conquered by sea. “The Battle of Lepanto arrested for ever the danger of Mohammedan invasion in the South of Europe.” And Lepanto had been won by prayer! That he was a saint was conceded even by his enemies. It needed only the Church’s official recognition to proclaim his sainthood. … when this valiant soldier of Jesus Christ finally sheathed the sword of Saint Michael which he had wielded so gallantly all his life in defense of Christendom, he might well have uttered the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the Faith.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Holy Season of Lent - 2020

“Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting, in weeping, and in mourning. . . . Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, gather together the people, sanctify the Church” (Joel ii).

May this Holy Season of Lent bring about for you a time of true and salutary penance; may it lead you to forsake the false joys of earth and to be converted to God with all your heart; may your fasting take the place of feasting, your weeping take the place of mirth, and your mourning the place of joy; may your abstinence lead to a great expiation for sin and be practiced in obedience to the spirit of the general law of the Church.

May you follow not only the example of the penitent Ninevites, who, by a penitential fast, averted the destruction with which God had threatened them, but follow also that example of the Innocent Lamb of God, Who, prior to His Mission among men, was pleased to undergo a rigorous fast of forty days and forty nights in the wilderness.

May the holy fast be to you a spiritual springtide; may you polish your spiritual armor, may you breast the waves of evil passions, may you set out like a traveler on his journey heavenwards, and may you prepare like an athlete for the combat.

May you enter on the road which leads to heaven, the rugged and narrow road, and travel along it by buffeting the body and bringing it into subjection.

May your penance consist not merely in mortification of the body, but also in that of the soul, for sin is committed by the will, and therefore it is just that the will, as well as the body, should make atonement.

May you repress the waves of foolish passions and repulse the storm of wicked imaginations, so that your deeds may yield good and fruitful results. If you see a poor man have pity on him, if you see an enemy be reconciled, if you see a friend in good reputation, regard him without envy.

May you fast not only by your mouth by forbidding it to utter tales of slander, but also with your eyes by averting them from unlawful sights, and with your hands by restraining them from deeds of violence, and with your feet by not entering places of pernicious amusements, and with your ears by stopping them from listening to gossip and detraction.