September Speaking Engagement

Hello Everyone! I have a public service announcement.

I will be in Fátima, Portugal for the upcoming PAMI Conference. I am presenting a paper for the English-speaking section entitled “On the Third Secret of Fátima.”

For more information, click here for the PAMI web site.

Please pray for me.

Sincerely in Christ,
-Kevin J. Symonds

Pope Leo, Jesus and Satan: A Question

Hello everyone! I hope that all is going well with you. Summer is quickly winding down, and it has been a good one thus far!

imagesCA7H5IYTI wanted to write a note about something that I have been hearing concerning Pope Leo XIII’s vision. There is a trend wherein people appear to be re-drawing the timeline of when the contents of Leo’s vision begin and end. This trend is based upon unsubstantiated information that appears to lean on later (alleged) private revelations for support. The following is a basic summary and critique of the facts.

Leo’s Vision–Some Background:

First, to acclimate the reader who may have no prior knowledge of the topic at hand, some general background is necessary:

  1. There is a famous story that Pope Leo XIII (r. 1878-1903) received a vision,Michael_Archangel_4
  2. Reports of the contents of this vision vary and have become very popular,
  3. Though they vary, said reports agree that Leo was given a vision,
  4. Allegedly, Leo overheard a conversation between Jesus and Satan,
  5. During the alleged conversation, Satan asked Jesus to subject the Church to a severe trial,
  6. Permission was granted to Satan for this purpose,
  7. Many reports say that the time-frame was a century–specifically the twentieth century (1901-2001), though not all accounts agree with this specification.
  8. Pope Leo composed the Prayer to St. Michael and ordered its recitation in the Prayers after Mass.

STM_CoverOwing to the often differing versions of Leo’s vision, I decided to write the book Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael. This book examines the sources behind Leo’s vision. It intends to marshal said sources into a cohesive narrative that separates fact from fiction.

According to the best information available at this time, what we know with at least a decent amount of certitude on Leo’s vision is as follows:

  1. Leo did receive a vision,
  2. We know very little about the contents of this vision,
  3. In it, we know demons were “gathering” (addensavano) upon the Eternal City (Rome),
  4. Freemasonry appears to have something to do with the vision,
  5. Leo did compose the Prayer to St. Michael after receiving the vision and ordered it to be recited in the Prayers after Mass.
  6. One of the (known) sources of the claim that Leo received a vision was his private secretary, Msgr. Rinaldo Angeli.
  7. Angeli said something on the matter to a man who later became the Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna, Italy (Cardinal Nasalli),
  8. Nasalli wrote briefly about the matter in his 1946 Pastoral Letters for Lent.

In the available literature, no reliable statement was discovered that discusses the alleged conversation between Jesus and Satan. From whence, then, comes the story of this alleged conversation and its contents?

Fr. PecheninoAt this time, the earliest known source for the alleged conversation and permission is an Italian priest named Fr. Domenico Pechenino.

In a two-part article that he wrote in the Italian publication La Settimana del Clero (March, 1947), Fr. Pechenino

writes about the tragedy of our times and the works of Satan. Towards the end of the second half of the article, Fr. Pechenino relays that he has knowledge about Leo’s vision from a source that he does not name in the article.[1] He proceeds to tell his version of what happened when Leo received the vision. After relaying it, Pechenino then asks “What happened? This….” He then explains the vision in terms of the Book of Job, that the Devil went before God and asked for 50-60 years to attack the Church. This permission was given.

Fr. Pechenino's reference to Job.

Fr. Pechenino’s reference to Job (Italian).

While the above is impressive, for reasons that are outlined in my book, one has to ask some critical questions about Pechenino’s account. Briefly: there is evidence that his memory was faulty and that his facts were a bit mixed-up. Moreover, in relaying the “Job” explanation, there is some ambiguity as to what Fr. Pechenino was saying.

In short, while not discredited, Pechenino’s account is questionable. Such open questions require us to exercise discernment and discretion with his claims.

Different versions of Leo’s vision arose, the earliest known (in print) being an article from the German Weiche-Coverpublication Altöttinger-Leibfrauenbote (1931). This version was later published in the same year as a stand-alone book entitled Weiche Satan! It was subsequently translated into English by Fr. Celestine Kapsner, O.S.B. as Begone Satan! The relevant passage from the book is as follows:

A rather peculiar circumstance induced Pope Leo XIII to compose this powerful prayer. After celebrating Mass one day he was in conference with the Cardinals. Suddenly he sank to the floor. A doctor was summoned and several came at once. There was no sign of any pulse-beating, the very life seemed to have ebbed away from the already weakened and aged body. Suddenly he recovered and said: “What a horrible picture I was permitted to see!” He saw what was going to happen in the future, the misleading powers and the ravings of the devils against the Church in all countries. But St. Michael had appeared in the nick of time and cast Satan and his cohorts back into the abyss of hell. Such was the occasion that caused Pope Leo XIII to have this prayer recited over the entire world at the end of the Mass.[2]

Especially since the story first appeared in print, the story grew with each telling, but for our purposes, it suffices to say that a general idea took hold in the minds of many Catholics, namely that the twentieth century was given over to Satan. This idea, ironically, gave people hope and comfort as it appeared to explain why there were so many atrocities committed in that century. Subsequently, there arose the hope that Satan’s extended power would be broken at the conclusion of said century.

Leo’s Vision–Re-drawing the Timeline:

Since the year 2001, the world has continued on a trajectory that, at least to not a few Catholics, has given cause to re-think Pope Leo’s vision. There was so much evil that continued in the world (think 9-11, for instance). How could it be that Satan’s “extended” power seems not to have ended?

In answer to this question, people have been attempting to re-draw the timeline of events. When this “re-drawing” precisely began is not entirely clear at this time, though an indication appeared in the year 2000.[3] What can be said is that as the early years of this twenty-first century have progressed, more people seem to have become disillusioned with the “twentieth century” take on Leo’s vision.

The evils of the twentieth century had seeped, according to the thought, into the twenty-first. Thus, it could not be that only the twentieth century was given over to Satan. We have stated that there were various versions of the story. It is possible that a loophole in these versions was exploited. For some said “100 years” while others specified a “century” (specifically the twentieth).

Regardless of how it happened, the emphasis is now placed on “100 years” for Satan to try the Church. The shift in wording is not insignificant: “given a century” to “given 100 years.” The former is specific whereas the latter is not. What is the big deal? A “century” is defined as a set period of years (in this case: January 1, 1901 to January 1, 2001), whereas “100 years” is less defined and can be started in any year.

A near-perfect ambiguity has since allowed some re-drawing of the timeline of Leo’s vision. As an example, let us look at the following example.[4] In 2012, Michael Brown of Spirit Daily posted an article wherein he discussed an alleged stigmatist. At the end of the article, he provided the following alleged message dated February 17 [2012]:

“My daughter, I know you are weak and I know without me you are always imperfect, unable to move. Don’t worry; I will take care of you. I will take care of you until all my works are done. My chalice of mercy has overflowed. Daughter, when My Mother appeared in Fatima on May 1917, she said the devil asked the Divine Throne to tempt the world for a hundred years. This time is going to end in 2017. He will no longer reign on earth because I will come with My peace. I will cover the world with My peace because, I am peace and passion. My call is to the whole world.” She interpreted this not as the end of the world, but as the end of a period — Satan’s time, to be accompanied by major events, for which we should prepare, in ways she believes will be revealed in coming years (emphases mine).[5]

Notice that we see the focus on “100 years,” beginning in 1917 (for further discussion, click here).[6]

This claim gives rise to an idea that, apparently, people had it all wrong about Pope Leo and the twentieth century. In short, B16_Darkthe real timeline of Leo’s vision is now said to begin on May, 1917. This date is significant because it connects to the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady in Fátima, Portugal.[7] There is now an expectation that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary promised at Fátima will take place on or around this date. The expectation is helped, in part, by a statement made by Pope Benedict XVI on May 13, 2010 during a homily while in Fátima concerning the year 2017 and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

For people who are weary of all the culture-wars taking place, this expectation has become not a little source of hope that God will miraculously intervene to save us. There is an apprehension within people that creates some deep concern for the future. Anyone familiar with current events both nationally and internationally knows that the current state of affairs is unsustainable. Something, we know not what, is about to happen, or so people sense.

Wrath of GodAmong religiously-minded people, there is a general notion that God needs to correct us. Hence some terrible chastisement is about to befall us all. This could well be true, I will not dispute that, and there are people prophesying just such disastrous tidings. One has to ask, however, some questions: 1) are these alleged prophets taking the temperature of the cultural landscape and using their own intellect and reason to foresee events down the line, and 2) are these alleged prophets simply feeding off the fears of people?

People are trying to make sense of what is happening in the world and anyone who questions this is attacked out of emotion.[8] A blanket of comfort is perceived as having been stolen, leaving them feeling exposed and vulnerable to all the elements raging about them.[9]

I share many people’s concerns about the future and thus I understand why people go into “attack mode” when their comfort is taken away. This is not, however, the response of the Christian to the difficulties in any age. It betrays a lack of Faith in God and thus demonstrates one’s nettle.

Leo’s Vision—Call to Holiness:

Leo_Furey_1903Here’s the good thing about this phenomenon: we can use such an opportunity for good—to pop the hood over our souls and check our engine. An exciting spiritual challenge awaits us and we should take advantage of it for the love of God and the increase in holiness.

St. John of the Cross reminds us, in Book II of his Ascent of Mt. Carmel, that, for one’s union with God, we are to remain in the dark night of faith. It is in faith that we grow in virtue and the love of God. As this pertains to private revelations, Holy Mother Church reminds us that while they are given by God in order to help the faithful to live the Gospel in a particular moment of history, these are not Divine and Catholic Faith.

Friends, I know the drab, dreary, get-you-down sort of existence to which we are all subjected. It can get to one after a while. We, however, are Christians. Our hope is in Christ. When tribulation is given to us, it is our duty to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We sin against Faith when we take off our eyes from Jesus and seek the latest fad or fancy, especially private revelations.[10] They can make us feel “special” or “connected” to some “higher purpose.” Often though, novelty leaves people unfulfilled—hence the desire to continue the search for that “spiritual high.” It is a form of gluttony, and is utterly tragic for pastors to see souls in such a state.

Of course, none of these warnings intends to disparage authentic revelations that encourage and uplift us. It is a warning against accepting them blithely, without discernment (often done without knowledge of the Church’s teachings) and in advance of the guidance of the Church herself.[11] I mentioned Fátima earlier. This is an approved private revelation and Our Lady requested two things: 1) the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, and 2) the communion of reparation of the Five First Saturdays devotion.

IHM-FatimaWhile respecting a “both/and” approach, there is a hierarchical dimension to that first request, whereas the second tends to emphasize everyone. I have always wondered if we have not misunderstood Our Lady. Is the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary contingent on just the consecration of Russia or also the implementation and practice of the Five First Saturdays devotion with said consecration?

Let us, the laity, ask ourselves: do we expect God to do everything—to wave a magic wand over the world and solve our problems—or do we have our part as Christians to bring about His Will in the world? If it is the latter, then I would think we should get to fulfilling Our Lady’s request for the communion of reparation of the Five First Saturdays. Pronto. We are God’s instruments in the world, His witnesses, and if Heaven has given us the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a refuge for our times, we ought to avail ourselves of such a grace. By reforming ourselves with such heavenly support, we shall truly see war and evil come to naught.

In the end, it is about Jesus Christ and loving Him. Loving Him encompasses all that He has given us for our salvation–above all His Public Revelation, His Church and the Sacraments. We cannot say that we love these if we choose a private revelation over the Church. In short, “prophetic words” that do not bring us closer to Christ and instead instill a morbid fear and disobedience in us are to be rejected.

Let us then have Faith! For Christ has conquered the world and we are in Him!


See also: Refractions of Light.

Update: 8-9-16 A.D.
Links added in second paragraph to Fr. Heilman’s web site.

Update: 8-24-16 A.D.
Added new link in second paragraph to Fr. Z.’s web site.


[1] I have been unable to track down later issues of La Settimana del Clero. If anyone is able to do so, please contact me.

[2] The more astute reader will notice that there is no mention of a precise timeline in this version of the story.

[3] Michael Brown of Spirit Daily carried an article that discussed this issue.

[4] No statement is here being made on the character of this person’s claims. Moreover, it is not claimed that this is the first time such a statement on “100 years” has been given, or in connection to 1917. It is only used as one example of the point being discussed. For an example of the “100 years” vs. a “century,” see this example from 2006.

[5] It should be noted that the last surviving seer of Fátima, Sr. Lúcia, never spoke of this alleged discussion attributed to the Virgin Mary in May, 1917.

[6] This talk appears to conflict with information that came out of Medjugorje wherein it was alleged that a century was given over to Satan’s power. The alleged seer, Mirjana, seems to have a conflicted understanding of the meaning of the word “century.”

[7] This focus upon Fátima also appears to be related to a very influential claim that Pope Leo’s vision occurred on October 13, 1884—thirty-three years to the day of the miracle of the sun in Fátima. This theory is unsubstantiated for reasons that are discussed in Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael (p. 32, note 20).

[8] People who question alleged prophets are often threatened (directly or indirectly) or demonized, by the alleged prophet(s) or his/her followers (asseclae).

[9] Subsequent events from 2001 onward clearly call the “twentieth-century interpretation” into question. In an attempt to make sense of contemporary events, people are re-drawing the timeline of Leo’s vision. The proverbial goal-posts are being moved and this re-drawing is quickly taking off among various groups of Catholics. Expectations are now high for the year 2017, the centenary of Fátima, which has now placed a burden upon the place. I suspect that if nothing happens in 2017, the goal posts will be moved yet again to state that the 100 years “really” began in 1929—the 100th anniversary of the request for the consecration of Russia.

[10] It is for this reason why St. John of the Cross also stated that it is to crack open the door to the Devil when we are so readily accepting of such revelations. That crack will be fully taken advantage of, one can rest assured, by the Devil and his angels.

[11] What is worse, sometimes it is even against lawful directives issued by the Church! There is also the matter of heeding false interpretations of authentic private revelations and the danger thereby.


Speculating on a Fatima Question

One of the enjoyments that writers occasionally receive is the gift of coming across a text or a reference which helps to address some matter upon which the writer is working. Last week I had one of those moments.

Prior to my road trip, I had written about some contemporary news on Fátima and the third part of its secret. These more recent articles were preceded by some articles written last year over on Catholic Stand (here, here and here).

In one of these articles (entitled In Defense of the World Apostolate of Fatima), I made it a point to observe in the fourth endnote that it was unknown as of the time I wrote the article when the significance (significado) of the vision of the third part of the secret was given to Sr. Lúcia. Here is my text:

This phrase is largely being interpreted to mean that there was some understanding of the vision given to Sr. Lúcia at an unspecified point in time. “Two-texts” theorists are interpreting the meaning given to Sr. Lúcia as continuing the debated phrase, “In Portugal, the dogma of the faith shall always be preserved…” from July, 1917. Here, Sister broke off the narration with a simple “etc.” hence the debate over whether there were more words of Our Lady. That there were more words of Our Lady is not necessarily a foregone conclusion at this time and is still a matter of debate.

While acknowledging the fact that this matter is still open for debate, I have since learned of an important text from St. Thomas Aquinas which may shed some light on the matter.

In his Summa Theologiae (II-II Q. 173, a.2), Aquinas discusses prophecy. In his discussion, he makes a distinction between the “acceptation/representation” of the thing presented to the mind of the prophet from the “judgment” upon said thing. Aquinas writes:

But it is the first of these two that holds the chief place in prophecy, since judgment is the complement of knowledge. Wherefore if certain things are divinely represented to any man by means of imaginary likenesses […] or even by bodily likenesses […], such a man is not to be considered a prophet, unless his mind be enlightened for the purpose of judgment; and such an apparition is something imperfect in the genus of prophecy.

As the above pertains to Fátima, there is the “vision” shown to the three children that Sr. Lúcia wrote down in 1944. It would be quite another thing to understand the vision. Either the three children were given this understanding during the apparition of July 13, 1917 or it was communicated at some later point.

The jury is still out on this one, but if we take seriously the weight of Aquinas’ theological argument, we have much to consider as to when the understanding or “judgment” on the vision was given.

-Kevin J. Symonds

Kevin’s Travel Blog-9: Journey’s End

Hi Everyone! It is a bit late, but I am happy to relay the news that I am back home in Waco, TX safely! I arrived home on July 1st in time for First Saturday devotions that was initiated by members of the St. Gregory Society.

My time in Cincinnati ended well. We feted a couple of recent high school graduates on the last evening of my stay. It was a lot of fun. When I left on the morning of the 27th, it was a little difficult but business was calling and I had to go. I left around 9 a.m. for Tennessee and had a five-hour drive ahead of me. While the drive itself was 5 hours, at some point I crossed back over into Central Time and so I actually arrived around 1 p.m.

Speaking of time zones, there is something that I noticed during all the driving and travelling which I would like to share with you. Have you ever noticed the notable differences between the northern part of these United States from the southern with respect to daylight? I began to notice this difference in May, 2014 while up in New York. I had awoken sometime around 5 or 5:30 (Eastern) and it was broad daylight. Down in Waco, in Central Time at that hour, it was not quite as pronounced.

The observation from May, 2014 has been in the back of my mind ever since and was only confirmed during this trip. When I arrived in Wisconsin, even though still on Central Time, I could not escape the glaring fact of how much stronger the daylight was at that time. When I crossed over into Indiana and Ohio (now on Eastern), the daylight remained stronger. Once I headed south to Tennessee and later to Alabama (more on this later), I again noticed the difference in daylight.

If anyone has the scoop as to how this phenomenon works, I am truly interested in learning more. Please E-mail me.

That said, in my last post I had mentioned that I was not sure how I would take to my visit in Tennessee. I am happy to report that overall I think it went well, but there were some moments which were utterly private and rather emotional.

As I mentioned above, I strolled onto the property of Paul’s family around 1 p.m. (Central) on June 27th. This visit was the first time since Paul’s death and funeral that I was able to make it back. His wife had a lot of work done on her home since then and as my car came up to the house, I was able to see it after all that work. Well, the best resistance did not work for me and I began tearing up when I saw it. I quickly pulled myself together and parked my car shortly thereafter.

After trying to figure out which door to go to, I was greeted by Paul’s wife Ann. It was so good to see her. We visited for a bit, along with some other folks (family and friends) who were also present but shall not be named for privacy purposes. As a matter of fact, I will leave out a lot of names because the property on which Ann’s house is located is on her family’s property and so she is literally surrounded by relatives. To list everyone would be confusing!!

Ann also introduced me to her children, referring to me as “one of Daddy’s friends from college” (if memory serves). Though I had seen them all at the services for Paul, I am sure they would not remember me. For all sakes and purposes being, this was the first time they met me in a more “conventional” manner.

I think that it is safe to say that the kids took well to me. The first to do so was Paul’s daughter, though a close second was his youngest son, (known affectionately in the family as “Blazer-Dazer”). The children are very active—no question there as from whom they inherited that particular trait—and even the youngest has learned to climb things about the time he turned 1. I watched him practice this ability, and rather well I might add, throughout my short visit.

All of the children wanted me to play with them. Invariably, it involved some kind of physical interaction and I received some bruises on my left shoulder from a tumble off the swing. The youngest thought the fall hilarious, despite the fact that he went down with me. I did not mind him laughing as it was better than the alternative. Meanwhile, funny thing about losing all that weight—I don’t quite have the padding I once had….

The eldest child was more comfortable doing things with his siblings or being by himself. I offered to take him with me into town one day while I took care of some errands and Ann gave me permission. We had an “adventure” because my GPS decided not to cooperate—country roads can confuse technology, apparently. I bought a couple of things for an event I had planned later that night with Ann and the kids (more on that later).

The two older boys love legos and so I got them a “Ninjago” Lego set. In my day, the Pirate and Castle series were popular, now Ninjago is enjoying its time in the spotlight. Ann later remarked that I went straight to their hearts with this Lego set and I am glad to have brought some good into their lives. Prior to this, however, I had a moment with one of Paul’s sons. I was sitting in a recliner, relaxing, and this particular child came up to me, nestled up next to me and said, “I love you.”

There is nothing in this world that will melt faster your heart than a 5-year old child to do and say such to you. At the same time, it was also difficult because it reminded me a lot of how loving his father was. Ann is keeping alive the memory of their father and she has a lot of help from family and friends in this task. I ask whoever reads this post to stop for a moment and say a prayer for Ann and her family.

Aside from visiting with Ann and the family, there was visiting Paul. Here I will not say much out of reverential silence for what passed within my soul upon visiting his grave. I made two visits in my short time with his family, and both were difficult. There was tremendous emotion in both visits. No one disturbed me and I am grateful because seeing me in that condition would have been a bit embarrassing. I am a better man today because of Paul and I needed to be alone with him to express my gratitude for his life and witness. That is all that I have to say on these visits.

My last night with the family I busted out some presents that I had brought from Waco—blue and green glow sticks. I thought that the kids would get a kick out of them once night fell and my expectation was not confounded. One of my Household brothers, CD, would have been able to show them some really cool moves but I showed them some basic ones. They were enthralled and thought it was the coolest thing. Each of them had their own glow stick, that is until one of them (who might want to try out for baseball someday) threw it so high that it landed on the roof of the house and did not come down. I had no replacement. They also had fun popping some “party snaps” (or whatever they are called) which I had purchased during my errands earlier that day. Alas, we forgot the glow-in-the-dark balloons that night, but at least they had something for later.

Leaving on the 29th was not easy. Paul’s memory is all over that house and it was a miniature death to leave. The kids did not want me to go, and I did not want to leave them. I am glad that they live on Ann’s family property with so many cousins, aunts and uncles. This fact puts me more at ease.

I took one final leave of Paul and his family and headed down to Hanceville, Alabama on the 29thIn Festo S. Petri et Pauli—where I stayed until July 1st with a friend. I was able to visit the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament as well as the tomb of Mother Angelica. There I prayed for some personal intentions. On July 1st, I was up around 3:20 a.m. and out the door an hour later. I needed to get back home in time for the First Saturday devotions and thus made the 11-hour trip in one fell swoop, having stopped only once for gas. I pulled into my parking spot around 3:06 p.m., making the travel time about 10 hours and 46 minutes and 724 miles to the decimal from my friend’s house to my door.

Upon my return, some friends held a welcome home LCHF-friendly party for me. Thank you guys!!

Thus concludes the Summer 2016 Road Trip in memoriam of Paul Coakley. Here are some statistics:

Beginning car mileage: 98,444.8
Ending car mileage: 102,330.5
Total mileage: 3,885.8 (+/- 2 or 3 miles).

I travelled from Texas (June 5-7)-Arkansas (June 7-10)-Missouri (June 10-15)-Wisconsin (June 15-17)-Illinois (June 17-19)-Indiana (June 19-21)-Ohio (21-27)-Tennessee (June 27-29)-Alabama (July 29-July 1), and from there back to Texas on July 1st.

Beginning weight: 209.0
Ending weight: 206.8 (yes, it’s possible to go on a road trip and still lose weight, LCHF style!)

The experience was great and I can honestly say that I had a wonderful time meeting with friends, making new ones, and hearing the various stories of faith. It is a gift to see how each particular local church is doing and to hear of the happenings within them.

If you are able to make a road trip and see family and friends—do it!! Time is short and we do not know how much of it we have been given to us by God. Make it count and live a life of holiness. Pray, encourage the brethren, and, perhaps more simply—love.

-Kevin J. Symonds

The Altar & Sanctuary

Kevin’s Travel Blog-8: Cincinnati

Hello Everyone!

My time in Cincinnati is drawing to a close. I leave tomorrow for Tennessee. There I will visit with the family of my friend Paul Coakley about whom I have written here, here, and here. I will have the opportunity to visit Paul’s grave while there, and, to be honest, I am not too sure how it will go. The visit will be the first time I’ve been to Tennessee since Paul’s funeral in January, 2015 and how well I will emotionally handle the visit is unknown. I do look forward to visiting with his wife and children. I have presents for the kiddos!

My time in Cincinnati has been very good. My friends have been quite kind to put up with me for nearly a week now. I have tried to keep to myself for the most part and not interrupt their daily routine. The past few days have seen three trips up to Dayton where I had some business. I am happy to say that much has been accomplished and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this business in the future.

Yesterday I was able to visit with two of my Household brothers. The first visit was to WS’ home and farm north of Cincinnati. At first I was not sure if it was his house as I was driving down the road, but I saw the Blessed Mother statue outside and she pointed the way. For the most part, WS and I relaxed and ate some good bacon and eggs (farm fresh, of course) with his family. WS’ home was quite beautiful and in a rather quiet, rural area. He showed me around the property and the livestock he was raising.

It was so peaceful and this stirred up my monastic sensibilities. All the craziness in my life makes me appreciate all the more these peaceful moments. The relative calm and tranquil environment in WS’ area is ideal for raising a family and, truly, they have been blessed.

Last night I had the grace to meet one of my Household brothers who was ordained earlier this year to the priesthood. I received his blessing, kneeling, and observed the tradition of kissing the hands of the newly-ordained. It was somewhat surreal as I remember him from college and his becoming a priest never entered my mind.

Due to my theological and vocational background, I enjoy the ability to shop-talk well with clergy. A pressing issue, it seems to me, about which priests are aware rather intimately is division in the Church at this time. One such division is over the Latin language. This division baffles me because the matter is more simple than one would think. As a Latin teacher, my saying such should not come as a surprise.

People are sometimes curious and ask me “Why Latin? It’s a dead language.” I respectfully disagree.

After I became Catholic, I began to become involved in Internet apologetics. I associated with several people and quickly discovered the imperative that is knowing the sources of Christian thought in their original languages. Holy Mother Church herself has seen this imperative and ordered that seminarians and priests be “well hardened” (bene calleant) in the language.

Latin continues to be a living language as it is an intimate part of our heritage. So long as people desire this heritage and wish to advance it, one cannot say Latin is dead.

Later today I attend a graduation party. It promises to be a lot of fun and then I head out tomorrow morning for Tennessee. Time permitting, I’ll see what can be posted about that experience. After Tennessee, it is to one or two more stops before I head back home to Waco. It will be at least a 10-hour trip and I hope to break it up.

Any friends between Mississippi, Louisiana and Eastern Texas want to put me up for a night? I’m housebroken…honest!

-Kevin J. Symonds

Kevin’s Travel Blog-7: Catching Up

Hello Everyone! It has been a week since my last update and I apologize for the delay in posting. Events have moved quickly and I simply could not find the time to devote to writing the latest on my journeys.

Since my last post I finished my time in St. Louis and then travelled up to Wisconsin. From there I went to Libertyville/Marytown, Illinois then to the South Bend, Indiana area. Today I arrived in Cincinnati where I am staying with friends until early next week.

After thinking about the more recent destinations of my road trip, I have decided to keep the details to a minimum. They have been intensely spiritual and deeply meaningful. Thus I shall refrain from an in-depth recounting.

On Tuesday, June 14th, I did get out to see my friend “BK.” We went to a restaurant called O’Leary’s in Sappington, Missouri where we stayed until midnight (about 3 hours). BK brought another friend of his for the fellowship and conversation.

Let me tell you about said conversation—it was quite a HOOT! BK’s friend was quite straightforward in relaying his thoughts on various topics of interest in Catholicism. I am happy to have had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. I may not have known this gentleman prior to being introduced to him, but this is part of what my road trip is all about—God, faith, friends, fellowship, and the experience of being on the road.

I left St. Louis the next morning (Wednesday) at exactly 7 p.m. CT. It was a quick goodbye to my hosts as they were off to work. The trip to Wisconsin took about 7 hours—yes, seven hours. I stopped only once for gas around Exit 1 (I think it was in Wisconsin, but it might have been the last exit in Illinois on the border). There was no “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign, a fact which sort of irked me as I am making it a point to locate such signs as I drive past them.

At any rate, I made it to Wisconsin in one piece between 2-2:30 p.m. I stayed at the Mt. Tabor Retreat Center. It has been about five years since last I saw it. Walking around the center brought back so many memories. Joining me in this walk down memory lane was a friend from Minnesota who braved the long road just to come over and see me.

As a point of etiquette, I wanted to make sure that my friend arrived after I did. I was delayed in getting to the center and so we arrived at roughly the same time. I am grateful to my friend who had to deal with my travels down memory lane whilst becoming oriented to the area and seeing me. It was not a small amount of patience and for that I am grateful.

My friend and I had a nice dinner together (LCHF-friendly, of course) later that evening and a good conversation. We were both tired from our respective travels. I stayed up a little later though and retired around 10 or 11 p.m. I was up somewhere around 6 a.m. and made breakfast for my friend and a few other people who were at the center.

Shortly thereafter, my friend and I went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI. We attended Mass, went to the gift shop and stopped by their relatively new coffee house. I found a few gems in the gift shop. We also went down to the apparition room which houses the spot where Our Lady appeared to Adele Brise.

There is a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay (which has jurisdiction over the Shrine) named Fr. Edward Looney. He is a self-described “Marian Enthusiast” and fellow member of the Mariological Society of America. The Shrine now carries some of his books and I managed to find one and took a picture with it. He was in France at the time and so I posted the picture on Facebook.



Please note that the Internet signal at the Shrine is not all that good. Yeah…just saying. Since one is there to pray, this is not an issue anyway.

My friend and I drove back to the center where we had a fairly quiet afternoon talking with the retreat center directors. My friend then left to head back home. After saying goodbye, I went out to dinner with some folks at the retreat center and then went to visit other friends who live in the area and whom I have not seen in three years. Stupidly, though I’m sure the great city of Appleton does not mind, I paid a parking meter after 6 p.m. when I did not have to do so.

From this particular visit I went back to the center where I retired for the evening after talking with the folks at the retreat center. The next day I was up somewhere between 5 and 6 a.m. to make ready for my impending departure. After taking care of some details, I had to run out for an errand or two, then go see another friend and her husband. Regretfully, it was a quick meeting as my time was running short. I had to be back by noon at the retreat center.

Long story short, I did get back to the retreat center around 12 or 12:15. I put my stuff by the door and said my goodbyes, though the directors were not in at that time. By 12:45 I was on the road once more, heading for Libertyville, Illinois to attend a retreat for the American Oblates of the Monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia, Italy. The retreat was held at the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a.k.a. “Marytown.”

This retreat is personal and so I shall not go into many details. It suffices to say that I arrived in Marytown at 3:15 p.m. The grounds were stunning, both interiorly and exteriorly. I had never been in Marytown before and did not know what to expect. It was surprising for me to see all of the, what I shall call, “Catholic eye candy.” Statues, pictures, paintings, woodwork were all features of Marytown. I was taken by the beauty of the place.

The Prior of the Norcia monastery, Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., was the retreat master. 15-20 Oblates were treated to a 4-conferences retreat on prayer, a rather full complement of the various monastic offices, and, of course, a lot of Latin and Gregorian Chant. For Holy Mass, the usus antiquior and usus recentior were celebrated in the Mater Dolorosa chapel.

Quick story: on Sunday morning a woman came up to me in the dining room and inquired about my group. She wanted to know if we were going to be celebrating Mass in the main chapel. She had heard the Gregorian Chant and was quite taken by it. Such is the beauty of the Chant and it changes people’s lives. We were blessed to have both Fr. Cassian and Dr. Peter Kwasniewski who have good voices for the Chant.

On Sunday the 19th, I left Libertyville after having a nice and unexpected conversation with two of the Franciscan Friars and another guest. I arrived at my next destination—around South Bend, Indiana—around 6:40 p.m. Eastern time (I was now in the Eastern Time Zone). Here I stayed with another good friend until earlier today.

While in South Bend I had the pleasure of many excellent conversations on all things Catholic. Some of these will be with me forever. Good friends, good food and good company. People may never know the blessing of such good friends and I am grateful to God for such people. One of them arranged for me to give a talk on the Prayer to St. Michael at a house in the South Bend area used by the Society of Christian Doctrine (St. George Preca). Here is a photo of that event:


We were at the house until around 10:30/11 p.m. and then I returned to my host’s house where I was up until 2:20 or so with more conversations. Amazingly enough, I was up 4 hours later and getting ready to head out the door for my trip to Cincinnati where I am currently writing this entry. I will be around until early next week, so if you know me and are in the area, drop me a line and we can try to meet!

Alrighty, dear readers, that is about it for this post! I enter into some further serious time during my ongoing road trip. It’s now the second half and we plow-on! Here’s to faith, friends, food, and fellowship!!

-Kevin J. Symonds