Sunday, February 26, 2023


Even before my mother died, the usual silly practice of canonizing those we love was starting. Friends from our parish visited her, and attempted to comfort her by telling her what a good person she was, and of course my mother protested. It is an odd trap when you receive compliments you don’t deserve as a Catholic. If you tell them you are not so virtuous as they think, then they just have one more reason to praise you: you are so humble you don’t see your own virtues! My mother told me later that she really didn’t understand why they said such things to her. I told her to ignore their remarks, because she knew the truth about herself, and they did not. My mother knew she was not a saint. She could have honestly listed her sins if anyone had asked her to do so.

After she died I was on the receiving end of condolences from many at her parish, and far too often I heard some remark that assumed she was already in Heaven because of her personal goodness. One good woman even told me that I had a new intercessor in Heaven. It astounds me how far this false teaching has spread, because although this was coming from traditional Catholics, I even heard a traditional priest make the same sort of remark at a funeral sermon within the last few years. This misplaced praise and this misunderstanding of God’s mercy have to stop. I am most of all troubled by the fact that such remarks sweep away all motivation to pray for the deceased. When my grandmother died, the priest addressed all of her grieving relatives and friends with words that I now paraphrase: I am sure that God sees all the prayers that have been said and will be said for her, and because of them she is now in Heaven.

The problem with that sermon, and the sermon I heard a traditional priest preach, and the problem with all those who are so sure my mother is in Heaven, is that they are completely ignorant of basic Catholic teaching. The problematic result is that they assure themselves and others that someone is in Heaven, and therefore, logically, there is no reason to pray for the deceased or to have Masses said for them. It is this sort of silly thinking that causes us to have funeral Masses wearing white vestments. White, in Western culture, is the color of joy and celebration. It is not appropriate for funerals. This is why, in his encyclical Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII warned against the then beginning trend to have funeral Masses in white vestments. His warnings were ignored. The “everyone goes to Heaven” thinking took over the Church. Black vestments, by contrast, show mourning at the loss of a friend or relative, and rightly show forth a Church which begs God to have mercy on His departed servant.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we find this teaching on Purgatory: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” What people are saying when they claim that my mother was so good that she went to Heaven immediately or very soon after she died is that my mother died in or very near the state of perfection. They have no idea what they are talking about. First, let’s recall the life of a very holy woman who lived a life of heroic virtue for years, St. John Bosco’s mother. She had a difficult life, losing her husband early and living in poverty as she raised her sons. Then, when her son John became a priest and began to care for boys by the dozens and then by the hundreds, she was at his side cooking, cleaning, mending, and that right to the end. Her life was one of work and sacrifice, and she did it all with a deep spirit of faith. When she died, St. John Bosco was praying for hours that she would go straight to Heaven, and was there to give her the sacraments of the Church.

Some time after she died, she appeared in a dream to him and spoke with him. He asked her if she had gone straight to Heaven. She replied very directly, “No.” After telling him that she sang a hymn in praise of God. You may need to read that over again to grasp the full import of it. She lived a heroic and difficult life, she poured herself out for years for poor needy boys, she was accompanied by the sacraments of the Church and the prayers of her saintly son, a priest, and she went to Purgatory. Now take all your pious ideas about good people going straight to Heaven and throw them right in the trash. The Church has never taught this.

What has the Church taught? That only those who are completely perfect go straight to Heaven. That is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that all who are “still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification.” (...)

My mother was sensible Catholic woman, and she knew full well that her deceased relatives and friends, no matter how much she loved them and how dear they were to her, were to be prayed for. I have never met anyone who had Masses offered for the dead like my mother. I remember that a common item in the parish bulletin for many years was “Mass for the poor souls in Purgatory, requested by the Portzer family.” Portzer family = my mother. One day I was looking through an old book and found a parish bulletin from the 1960’s, and I wondered if I would find it, and there it was, “Mass for the poor souls, requested by the Portzer family.” In her last weeks my mother left a message for all of us in the family, but also for everyone else, through my brother. He wrote her words down faithfully, and they are as follows: Please live your life well so we may meet again in Heaven. Strong Catholic words, those. But do not assume that she thought that she was going straight to Heaven. My mother was quite resistant to such foolishness, for she knew that, like all of us, she was a sinner. And that is why she said to me and to a few others who were in the room with her, just days before she died, “I don’t want a bunch of flowers. I want Masses.”

So if you are one of those people who tried to canonize my mother (or other victims of modern un-Christian thinking) even though you do not have the power to do so, it’s time to take off your papal tiara, consider the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and that of St. John of the Cross, and pray. Now you are doing what my mother would approve of wholeheartedly. If you keep thinking like a Catholic, you might find yourself doing what she did, requesting Masses for the poor souls in Purgatory.

By Reverend Joseph Portzer

Saturday, February 18, 2023


O Most Holy Virgin, who wast pleasing to God and didst become His Mother. Immaculate in your body, in your soul, in your faith and in your love, we beseech thee to look graciously upon the wretched who implore thy powerful protection.  

The wicked serpent, against whom the primal curse was hurled, continues none the less to wage war and to lay snares for the unhappy children of Eve.  

Ah, do thou, our blessed Mother, our Queen and Advocate, who from the first instant of thy conception didst crush the head of our enemy, receive the prayers that we unite single-heartedly to thine and conjure thee to offer at the throne of God, that we may never fall into the snares that are laid for us, in such wise that we may all come to the haven of salvation; and in the midst of so many dangers may holy Church and the fellowship of Christians everywhere sing once more the hymn of deliverance, victory and peace. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Pius X to the Immaculate Virgin


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

STORY OF THE APPARITIONS OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES (told by Saint Bernadette Soubirous)


I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads.

At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads slip through her fingers, without moving her lips. 

When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.

I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course they wanted to know what I was doing and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was. I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place….

The third time I went the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream. I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realise she was not speaking of the Gave and she indicated a little trickle of water close by. When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water but only at the fourth attempt was there a sufficient amount for any kind of drink. The lady then vanished and I went back home.

I went back each day for two weeks and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners. I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled. Finally with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven she told me she was the Immaculate Conception.

During the two weeks she told me three secrets but I was not to speak about them to anyone and so far I have not.

(From a letter from Saint Bernadette Soubirous to Father Gondrand, in 1861)

Wednesday, February 8, 2023


For a blasphemy, for a bad thought, for a bottle of wine, for two minutes of pleasure!... For two minutes of pleasure to lose God, one's soul, Heaven… forever! My children, if you saw a man prepare a great pile of wood, heaping up fagots one upon another, and when you asked him what he was doing, he were to answer you, "I am preparing the fire that is to burn me, " what would you think? And if you saw this same man set fire to the pile, and when it was lighted throw himself upon it, what would you say? This is what we do when we commit sin. It is not God who casts us into Hell; we cast ourselves into it by our sins. The lost souls will say, "I have lost God, my soul, and Heaven; it is through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault!" Pray, make your spiritual meditation, frequent the Sacraments daily, have good friends, flee from occasion of sin, read spiritual books... Lead a holy life in the eyes of God.

From the homilies of Saint John Mary Vianney

Monday, February 6, 2023


Parents should always set an example for their children, so that they in turn transmit it, in the future, to theirs.

Be sure to do it in restaurants, too. Whoever bears witness to Christ publicly, Christ will bear witness to him before his Father.


Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy gifts which we receive from Thy bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

We ask you to feed those who do not have food.