12.30.2007

A Model Family


Today, the Catholic Church celebrated the wonderful feast of the Holy Family -- Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They are a model family. Coming together as a family unit was certainly not what the earthly parents of Jesus must have had in their thoughts. Mary and Joseph, while not unknown to one another, never dreamed of the important role that they would play in the lives of the Newborn Savior and the entire world.

May we come to realize the important roles that each of us plays in the relationships that we have each day. One person can make a difference and usually does. Holy Family, pray for us.

12.20.2007

Eucharist: A Sacrament That Demands RESPECT

Christmas is upon us and our Churches will once again be filled with the practicing and not-so practicing faithful. As a priest, the thought that so many of the not-so practicing attendees will come forward to receive the Real Presence of the Lord makes me shutter. Short of making them wear a red letter, I do not know what can be done to avoid the abuse.

So many people today who claim their faith as Catholic do not have the seriousness of mind to even consider that they are sinning when they fail to meet the obligations of faith (i.e. Sunday Mass) or are living in a state absent of grace (i.e. divorced and remarried outside of the Church) and then receive the Body of Christ. It is hard for the priest to connect with those who do not attend regularly and that is why the faithful in general need to confront the situation when they see the abuses.

I would like to address today the reception of this Most Sacred Sacrament. During these times when the Churches are crowded, the patience of the priest (including myself) is tried. When people attempt to grab the Host out of his hand, do not even have the decency to remove sweater sleeves, keys, purses and various other things that cover their palms so that their hands can’t actually receive the Lord, or have a child in the arms or walk with a cane and think that they can manage with one hand hurts the priest and what he devotes his life to each day. It just means that the people are not clued into what they are doing or Whom they are receiving. And sometimes they treat the Eucharistic Lord like a piece of popcorn that they toss in their mouth so disgracefully.

The faithful were poorly instructed about receiving Holy Communion in the hand when the practice arose in the seventies and in most cases were never instructed again let alone corrected in their sloppy habits. The changes, while true, hearken back to the early days in the Church and tried to connect the faithful with their roots have become a scandalous and sacrilegious action. It seems that either the Bishops of the United States need to impose more stringent guidelines or discontinue the reception in the hand altogether.

12.17.2007

Santa At Bethlehem



THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS! A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT!
THE AIR WAS SO CRISP AND THE STARS WERE SO BRIGHT!
AND DOWN BY THE LAKE YOU COULD STILL HEAR THE RINGING
OF LAUGHTER AND SLEIGH BELLS, AND YOUNG PEOPLE SINGING.

IN ONE LITTLE HOME ON THIS WONDERFUL EVE
THE CHILDREN WERE GUESSING WHAT SANTA WOULD LEAVE.
THEY HUNG UP THEIR STOCKINGS WITH LITTLE BIG EYES
THAT SHONE WITH DELIGHT AND THE HOPE OF SURPRISE.
AND THEN MOTHER DARKENED THE LIVING ROOM LIGHT,
FOR THIS WAS THE LOVELIEST PART OF THE NIGHT.

WHEN ALL OF THE CHILDREN WERE GATHERED TO SING
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU" TO THE NEW LITTLE KING.
BUT A SHADOW OF SADNESS ENVELOPED THEIR JOY,
THERE WERE TEARS IN THE EYES OF THE ONE LITTLE BOY,
HE TURNED TO HIS MOTHER AND LET OUT A CRY,
"THE ANGELS WERE THERE, THE SHEPHERDS CAME BY,
THE WAY WAS SO CLEAR, AND THE STAR WAS SO BRIGHT,
DIDN’T SANTA CLAUS STOP AT THE STABLE THAT NIGHT?"

THE MOTHER WAS STUNNED – THERE WASN’T A STIR –
THE FIVE LITTLE CHILDREN WERE LOOKING AT HER.
THEY WANTED TO KNOW WHAT THE ANSWER COULD BE –
WHAT COULD SHE TELL THEM – HOW COULD THEY SEE?

THEN SHE LOOKED AT THE STABLE – THE INFANT SO SWEET,
AND SHE LOOKED AT THE MOTHER WHO KNELT AT HIS FEET.
THE BABY WAS LOVE – THE JOY OF THE LIVING,
THE MOTHER – THE ESSENCE OF SHARING AND GIVING.

AND THERE WAS THE ANSWER TO COUNTER HER FEAR,
WHAT SEEMED INCONSISTENT BECAME VERY CLEAR
FOR WHEN BEFORE CHRIST WAS THERE EVER A CAUSE
FOR ANY POOR SOUL TO EXPECT SANTA CLAUS?

YES, THE INFANT WAS LOVE AND THE JOY OF THE LIVING;
AND MARY, HER BABY WAS SHARING AND GIVING.
AND SANTA WAS THERE, A GIFT FROM ABOVE,
INVISIBLE SYMBOL OF GIVING AND LOVE.

THERE WAS JOY IN HER HEART AS SHE TENDED TO TEAR,
AND HER WORDS OVERFLOWED WITH GENUINE CHEER,
FOR HOW SHE WAS SURE THAT HER ANSWER WAS RIGHT,
"OF COURSE, SANTA CAME TO THE STABLE THAT NIGHT!"

AND OH, WITH WHAT JOY DID THE CHILDREN RECEIVE
THE STORY SHE TOLD OF THE FIRST CHRISTMAS EVE;
"THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS! A LONG TIME AGO!
AWAY TO THE NORTH IN THE LAND OF THE SNOW!

AND THERE LIVED A TOY MAKER CHEERFUL AND GOOD
WHO MADE THE MOST WONDERFUL TOYS THAT HE COULD.
BUT THERE WAS A RUMOR THAT SEEMED TO BE WILD,
THAT SANTA HAD MADE ALL THE TOYS FOR ONE CHILD.
AND YET, NO ONE EVER HEARD OF ONE TOY
THAT SANTA HAD GIVEN TO GIRL OR TO BOY.

AND SOME PEOPLE SAID THAT WHEN SANTA SLEPT SOUND,
WITH NO ONE BUT SOME OF HIS HELPERS AROUND,
THE TOYS IN THE WORKSHOP CAME DOWN FROM THE SHELVES
AND HAD THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME FOR THEMSELVES.

AND AS THEY WERE FROLICKING ONE WINTER NIGHT,
THEY SUDDENLY NOTICED A BEAUTIFUL LIGHT,
AND THEN THEY RECALLED WITH EXCITEMENT AND JOY
WHAT SANTA HAD SAID AS HE FINISHED EACH TOY,
"I FASHIONED YOU INTO A WONDERFUL THING
FOR SOMEDAY, YOU WILL BE MY GIFT TO THE KING."

WHEN SANTA CLAUS SAW THE REMARKABLE LIGHT,
HE KNEW THAT TONIGHT WAS THE GLORIOUS NIGHT.
AT LAST, AFTER ALL OF THE YEARS HE HAD WAITED,
THE INFANT WAS BORN AS THEY HAD STATED.

SO QUICKLY HE CALLED EVERY HELPER AND AIDE
TO PACK ALL THE WONDERFUL TOYS HE HAD MADE --
HE PACKED THEM ALL CAREFULLY INSIDE OF HIS SLEIGH,
AND LED BY THE STAR, HE BEGAN ON HIS WAY.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS! A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT!
THE AIR WAS SO CRISP, AND THE STAR WAS SO BRIGHT.
QUIET AND CALM OVER ALL BETHLEHEM LAY.
SILENCE REPLACED THE ADO OF THE DAY.

HIGH ON HILLSIDE, THE ANGELS WERE SINGING
OF PEACE, OF LOVE THE CHRIST CHILD WOULD BE BRINGING.
THERE IN THE MANGER THE INFANT WAS SLEEPING.
AND MARY AND JOSEPH A VIGIL WERE KEEPING –
A VIGIL OF LOVE, ADORATION AND PRAYER
FOR JESUS, WHOM GOD HAD ORDAINED TO THEIR CARE,
AND LATE IN THE NIGHT BY THE LIGHT FROM ABOVE,
SANTA CLAUS CAME WITH A HEART FULL OF LOVE.

HE GAZED AT THE INFANT – THE DEAR LITTLE LORD.
AND KNEELING (BOWING), HE SILENTLY PRAYED AND ADORED.
THEN SANTA AROSE AND WITHOUT A NOISE,
HE BROUGHT TO THE MOTHER THE WONDERFUL TOYS.

HE TOLD HER OF HOW HE HAD MADE EVERY ONE.
SO HE MIGHT PRESENT THEM ALL TO HER LITTLE SON.
AND THEY SAY WHEN OUR LADY BEHELD THE SURPRISE
SHE WHISPERED TO SANTA WITH TEARS IN HER EYES,
"I THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE GIVEN MY SON.
YOUR PRESENT IS TRULY A WONDERFUL ONE.

AND THIS ABOVE ALL IS THE WORTHIEST PART,
THE LOVE THAT IS FOSTERED FOR HIM IN YOUR HEART.
BUT YOU KNOW THAT MY SON WILL BE LIKE THE OTHER BOYS
AND HE COULDN’T POSSIBLY USE THAT MANY TOYS."

SO EACH CHRISTMAS EVE, AS IF BY THE STAR
I’D LIKE YOU TO TRAVEL BOTH NEAR AND AFAR,
TO VISIT THE CHILDREN AS JINGLE BELLS RING
IN HONOR OF JESUS, THE NEW LITTLE KING.

AND SPREAD ALL YOUR LOVE AND YOUR SPIRIT OF GIVING
SO OTHERS MAY SHARE IN THE JOY OF THE LIVING.
AND OF YOU, SANTA TO TAKE ALL THE WONDERFUL TOYS,
AND GIVE THEM WITH LOVE TO THE GIRLS AND THE BOYS

FOR THAT IS WHICH YOU DO UNTO SOME OTHER ONE,
IS COUNTED AS IF IT WERE DONE FOR MY SON!"
THEN SWEETLY SHE PATTED THE TOYS WITH HER HAND,
AND PICKED FOR HER BABY, A LITTLE WHITE LAMB.

12.15.2007

Losing A Beloved Parishioner

Within the past month I have lost two parishioners who I have truly come to admire and should I say love. Both men were strong in their faith, very conscious of their imperfections and extremely thankful to God for the blessings of their spouses and children. Seldom does a priest get to know such parishioners in such a limited amount of time and my life has been blessed by their presence in it, along with countless others I have met over the year.

What causes such a special relationship between priest and parishioner? Well, as with any relationship it must be built from both sides. The lay person has to be willing to give oneself, to become known by the priest and in turn the priest must be willing to be human, not mechanical. I strongly believe that today's priests are all too often wrapped up in their own world. I for one, try to be different.

When I describe myself as different, I do not mean it in the weird sense, but rather unique in the personal sense. I love being a priest because of the ministry which I am privledged to perform. This ministry is not just sacramental, but social. One of the pastors who I have been honored to serve with put it this way, "Ministry of presence is the key to a good minster." Yet, the way we live our lives sometimes contradicts that way of thinking.

But I digress...I try (and yes sometimes I miss the mark) to be present to all of God's people. And many times I feel like an outsider, because of those I would like to know better not including me into their lives -- and it can hurt. I can only imagine what Jesus felt like when He tried to get close to someone and they turned away. How it must of hurt to watch His disciples walk away when He needed them.

Ministry of presence really does mean something. While I might not always have something profound to say, just being their means a great deal. As followers of he Lord, we can all be more present to one another, removing ourselves from our own designs and building a better community.

Eternal rest grant to them our Lord and perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.



11.21.2007

BEWARE: The Golden Compass

The following was taken from the Catholic League Website:

On October 5, the Catholic League kicked off its campaign against "The Golden Compass." The first interview that Bill Donohue granted was to Raymond Arroyo, EWTN's host of "The World Over." He then did two Fox News Channel shows back-to-back: "The Big Story" with John Gibson and "Fox and Friends."

Approximately 500 media sources were sent a copy of the league's booklet on the film. In addition, copies are flying off the shelf as orders from our members and interested parties are coming in at a rapid pace. In other words, we are getting the word out fast: the movie is "bait for the books," i.e., it is designed to lure parents into thinking that Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials, would make a great Christmas gift. Not if we can help it!

Our introductory statement to the media read as follows:
"New Line Cinema and Scholastic Entertainment have paired to produce 'The Golden Compass,' a children's fantasy that is based on the first book of a trilogy by militant English atheist Philip Pullman. The trilogy, His Dark Materials, was written to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. The target audience is children and adolescents. Each book becomes progressively more aggressive in its denigration of Christianity and promotion of atheism: The Subtle Knife is more provocative than The Golden Compass and The Amber Spyglass is the most in-your-face assault on Christian sensibilities of the three volumes.

"Atheism for kids. That is what Philip Pullman sells. It is his hope that 'The Golden Compass,' which stars Nicole Kidman and opens December 7, will entice parents to buy his trilogy as a Christmas gift. It is our hope that the film fails to meet box office expectations and that his books attract few buyers. We are doing much more than hoping—we are conducting a nationwide two-month protest of Pullman's work and the film. To that end, we have prepared a booklet, 'The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked,' that tears the mask off the movie.

"It is not our position that the movie will strike Christian parents as troubling. Then why the protest? Even though the film is based on the least offensive of the three books, and even though it is clear that the producers are watering down the most despicable elements—so as to make money and not anger Christians—the fact remains that the movie is bait for the books. To be specific, if unsuspecting Christian parents take their children to see the movie, they may very well find it engaging and then buy Pullman's books for Christmas. That's the problem.

"We are fighting a deceitful stealth campaign on the part of the film's producers. Our goal is to educate Christians so that they know exactly what the film's pernicious agenda really is."

11.16.2007


Twas the night before Jesus Came

'Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be The Day!

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said "It's not here" my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and this sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all!

copyright © 1993 Bethany Farms, Carrollton, IL

11.15.2007

BELLA: A Good Message Movie

An international soccer star (Eduardo Verástegui) is on his way to sign a multi-million dollar contract when something happens that brings his career to an abrupt end. A waitress (Tammy Blanchard), struggling to make it in New York City, discovers something about herself that she's unprepared for. In one irreversible moment, their lives are turned upside down...until an impetuous action brings them together and turns an ordinary day into an unforgettable experience. Once a famous athlete, and now a cook at his brother's Mexican restaurant, José has retreated from the world but he recognizes something in Nina, a young waitress, and reaches out to her. In the course of a single day, he not only confronts his past but shows her how the healing power of a family can help her embrace the future.

11.12.2007

Fear: The Reason For Disunity in the Church

"Listen to one another", that is what Reverend Timothy Radcliffe, OP had to say regarding the differences between the conservatives and the liberals of the Catholic Church. On Monday evening of this past week I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by the renowned theologian at Saint Mary's Abbey, while I was on retreat. The theme of the night was "The Contemporary Church."

Being of the conservative bent, I thought this session would be filled with progressive theological statements regarding how one should view and react to the Church. What I found was an attempt to bridge the two sides of the ecclesiastical coin with an understanding that the divide is fear that causes the parties from hearing one another.

On the conservative side it is the fear that change from the former/present way of life and on the liberal side the fear is that of not changing to meet the needs of the present/future. Radcliffe stated that it these fears that block the entities from hearing one another. But, isn't that the way it is with most debates to begin with? Truth be known, I am more willing to listen with a sincere heart when I know that the audience is receptive to the words I utter. The defenses are lowered.


11.03.2007

Retreat: The Three R's

This week I will take my annual retreat away from the parish. Saint Mary's Abbey is calling me. It is never easy to remove oneself from the normal everyday ministerial duties. Of course, one cannot ever completely forget about those things we love.

Some time ago I read an article which defined a retreat as an experience that should contain three R's. No, not reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic. But rather, Return, Rest and Remember. For those of you that benefit yourselves by such spiritual get-aways, I am sure that you identify with the R's.

Return is the allowing of oneself to the re-discovery of the nature that is around us. Our busy lives and material lives cause us to remove our ties to the gifts that God showers us with each day. The sun, stars, leaves, field, mountains, etc. call us back to the simplicity of life, the simplicity of God.

Rest is the time where schedules do not run each day. Where the silence becomes deafening so that the voice of God is heard and reflected upon.

Remember is the remembering of our purpose here on earth. In my homilies, I often use that question from the Baltimore Catechism which asks, "Why did God make me?" Yes, the answer is still the same and one that needs to be thought about regularly. "To know Him, love Him and serve Him...". Even as a priest, I need to remember why I am here.

I will return next weekend. Let us pray for one another.

11.01.2007

UK Abortions -- The Tide May Be Turning

In Honor Of The Poor Innocent Souls.
Video For Mature Audiences.

Called To Be A Saint


That's you! From the time of our baptism we are called to be saints. Challenging, though it might be, we are called to live lives free of sin and reflecting the Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Temperance, Courage and Justice and the Theological Virtues of Love, Hope and Faith. Together these are known as the Seven Heavenly Virtues.

If you know anything about the saints that we have in the Catholic Church, one thing is certain. Many with the title were not free of the battle with sin. Often their early lives were filled with contrary actions to the life of a Christian. Look at Saint Paul, St. John of God and Saint Olga who by no means were born saints. Each had human frailties which got in the way of holiness. However, they overcame them and radically altered their life styles.

How did this happen? Well, frankly the answer is with the grace of the Holy Spirit. All too often, Catholics resign themselves to the inability to have a change of heart, mind and action. God's way penetrates our lives with challenge, causing us to choose between right and wrong, comfort and discomfort, ease and difficulty. Age has a tendency to allow the past life to stay set, intact and the person not move toward the life of the holy. Saints, conquered the way they were, take the leap and landed on their feet.

Today, we pray that we too are strong enough to take the leap with God in view. Happy feast day, all you saints in process.

10.29.2007

Heart Speaks to Heart

Christ Preaching -- Rembrandt van Rijn

Recently, I had to deeply reflect on how I give a homily at Mass. I am not the best preacher, but I believe that I have been given the gift of getting the message across and to the point. Thank you, Holy Spirit! The reason for my reflection was that someone has defined my preaching style as "harsh" and "negative". So, I took a step back and "pondered what kind of greeting this might be."

Since I have been preaching I have always found my style to be challenging. Yes, challenging. The problem today is that some people do not want to be challenged, but rather told how good they are. Unfortunately, they never heard the Gospels and Jesus' teaching authentically.

When people search for the compliment of doing good (which we know is not appropriate) the fault lies in the old error of Pelagianism. Pelagius was a fourth century British monk who taught that Christ came to give us an example and that our salvation consists in simply following him. This view seemed noble and reasonable, but St. Augustine saw that it would lead to self-exaltation and separation from God. Unfortunately the temptation of Pelagianism is very great (its latest version is the "self-esteem" movement).

Jesus' first "homily" quotes Him as saying: "The time has come; the kingdom of God is upon you; repent and believe the Gospel." (Mk 1: 15) That sounds kind of harsh to me. The word for repent is "metanoia" meaning a change of heart. We are surround by a secular culture which doesn't exactly deny God's existence but implies that if He does exist, He is unimportant to human affairs.

Besides calling people to repentance, the preacher must give the congregation solid teaching. Catechesis is another important purpose of the homily. All teaching in the preaching needs to be rooted in the Scripture and the Catechism. Failure to do so leads to heresy, such as Pelagianism.

The final purpose of preaching is perhaps surprising: to entertain. Not as a comedy stage show, but able to draw people in to the message. Bishop Fulton Sheen knew that and did that well.

Cardinal Newman's motto was "cor ad cor loquitur" -- Heart speaks to heart. My job is to first get the message into my own heart, so that I can get it into the hearts of the people. Of course, hearts have to be receptive to the process. A hard heart usually refuses to hear, refuses to change.

10.24.2007

"A Gem Among Virtues"


"How beautiful then is modesty. and what a gem among virtues it is." (St. Bernard, Confessor and Doctor of the Church).

For the last several years a serious approach to dress (shorts, low neck-lines, tight apparel, shirts with large insignia, etc.) for Mass and Church functions has waned. Some say that we should just be happy that they are there at all. But listen to what the Church says:

To say that “…modesty is a matter of custom” is just as wrong as to say that, “…honesty is a matter of custom.”
Pope Pius XII

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2521. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden…. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them…

2522. Modesty protects the mystery of persons…Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing.

2523.There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body….Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.

10.16.2007

Not My Church, O God! Not My Church!


When our Lord walked the face of the earth, His Church was "the people". Somewhere along the 200 decades since that time, Church has taken on the meaning of building, property.

This year our diocese will begin the challenging task of restructuring and consolidating parishes. I believe we are the last diocese in Pennsylvania to pull up the sleeves and attack the issue. The grim reality is that we have less priests to serve the needs of the people entrusted to us. Pastors at present have one, two, three and even four parishes. Granted, we are still better off than other parishes in the country where some parishes only see a priest once a month.

In the next year and a half our Bishop in consultation with various committees (both lay and cleric) will be attempting to place priests of the diocese where the people are located. Currently, we have priests assigned to parishes that have very few parishioners. No doubt we will place priests where they can do the best work.

Unfortunately, many national or ethnic churches will be closed. When the immigrants arrived in this country the Church was to some degree their sanctuary from the new world. Today, hardly any of the ethnic parishes in our diocese even know the language of the country they left. Many of the smaller parishes cannot support themselves much longer due to population shifts, loss of ethnic traditions by the young and the decline in certain industrial/manufacturing jobs.

May we pray the those who will be hurt by this process and that they will be able to see the great opportunities that abound in the future.

9.19.2007

What Do Joe DiMaggio, Sinead O'Connor & Napoleon Bonaparte Have In Common?

Answer: Excommunication. Joe DiMaggio for bigamy. Sinead O'Connor for being ordained a priest by an Independent Catholic bishop. Napoleon Bonaparte for seizing the Papal States. In a conversation yesterday, someone asked how readily people are excommunicated from the Church. Frankly, I learned a thing or two.

First, there are misconceptions about excommunication which stem from the complexity of the subject matter itself, and the lower level of catechesis that today's Catholics bring to the discussion. It is harder for people to understand the notion of excommunication if they have insufficient appreciation of the underlying concept of sin, or of what membership in the Church implies, or what kind of authority the Church has from Christ, and so on.

And the most common misperceptions are: First, there is the idea that excommunication kicks one out of the Church. That is not right. There are ways to cancel one's Church membership, but excommunication isn't one of them. Imagine a felon serving a long prison term; he's in prison, but he remains a citizen bound by the laws of his country. Say, he owns property upon which he incurs taxes while in prison, he still owns the property and is still liable for the tax from prison; if he commits a crime in prison, he can be prosecuted for it, and so on. A felon loses certain important rights, obviously, like freedom of movement and the right to vote, but he is still a citizen. Similarly, an excommunicated person is still a member of the Church, but he or she has lost certain key rights attached to Church membership and is cut off from many of the activities and benefits of the Church.

The second misconception is that people who die in a state of excommunication go to hell. Maybe they do, and maybe they don't, but we don't know with certainty either way. In any case, the Church does not claim to exercise jurisdiction over the dead, and one's final fate is determined by God based on the life one leads. Of course, appearing before God for judgment in the state of excommunication from His Church on earth is not a good thing.

The third misconception is this: many people think that, because a given Catholic committed an action for which automatic excommunication is the penalty (for example, heresy, schism, abortion), the penalty was actually incurred in that case. Canons 18, 1323, and 1324, contain a startling list of factors that mitigate or even remove liability for canonical crimes. Now taken individually, these exceptions to penal liability make sense, but when read as a whole, as we have to do, they make it much more difficult to determine whether an automatic excommunication was actually incurred in a specific case.

Excommunication is not about politics or ideology; at root, it's about sin. The mainstream media doesn't understand what sin is, so they surely aren't going to understand what's behind excommunication. Now, there are lots of examples of sinful behavior out there, but only some of them, in general the worst ones, are also crimes under canon law. Those are the kind of things to those wanting the immediate excommunication of pro-abortion politicians, I have to say that canon law simply does not read that way. To make a long story short, an excommunication for abortion has to be linked to a specific abortion and, given the structure of American government and medical institutions, one simply can't link a given legislator's vote with a specific abortion within the limits of causality recognized by canon law. Now, I like to think that the words of law generally mean what they say. If we distort the words of penal canon law to the degree necessary to make legislators fall within the present terms of the abortion canon, we would do violence to the text of the law, and that's always bad; distortions in law tend to come back and haunt us in other contexts that are the subject of excommunication.

Do Catholics have an obligation to know their rights and duties under canon law? Yes. Knowing the law, knowing one's rights and duties, is not sufficient for leading an honorable life, of course; but knowing the law makes leading the upright life easier. One knows what's expected. For too long, canon law, even though it is an incredibly important source for knowing one's rights and duties as a Catholic, was neglected. Today we are paying the price for that widespread disregard of Church law right and left. But things are slowly changing. The value of stability, the wisdom of experience, the basic commitment to dignity, all of these are waiting for us in canon law. The more people learn about it, the more they see how valuable it is, and the more they want to learn.

9.12.2007

A Would-Be Saint?

This past year the Diocese of Allentown sent documentation to the Vatican concerning the cause for sainthood of Father Walter Ciszek. Born in 1904 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania this once ornery young kid and teen would have never been sus-pected of having a calling to serve the Catholic Church as a priest.

Once ordained in 1937, Father Ciszek pushed his superiors to send him to Russia, but worried about his safety they sent him to Rome to study. Volunteering to go to Poland, hopeful that would be his way into Russia, Father Ciszek was arrested as a Vatican spy, tortured and made to sign a confession of his conspiracy. In 1942, he was given 15 years of hard labor in a concentration camp. Freedom came in 1955, when he returned to the United States, residing at Fordam University.

During his later years, he wrote two books With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me. Crippled with arthritis and cardiac ailments, Father Ciszek fininshed his earthly days doing spiritual direction and entered eternal life in 1984.


Please pray the prayer for the Canonization of Father Walter Ciszek.


We adore You, Most Holy Trinity,
and we thank You
for the exemplary life of Your servant,
Father Walter Ciszek.
We pray that his strong faith
in Your loving providence,
his great love for You,
and his kindness to all people
will be recognized by the Church.
If it be Your Will, may he be given to us
as a saintly model of these virtues
so that we too may be better motivated
to dedicate our lives
to Your greater honor and glory.
We commend our petition
through the prayers of the holy Mother of God.
For to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
is due all glory, honor and worship,
now and forever.
Amen.

9.06.2007

Do You Know Someone Who Has Left The Church?

Most of us do not have to look very far to find “non-practicing Catholics”in our circle of family and friends. Many of us are concerned about these loved ones; however,we don’t know how to help them. Obviously, most of them are searching,but how can we help them find their way home?

As baptized, practicing Catholics, we have a precious gift of faith and love from the Lord that needs to be shared with our non-practicing brothers and sisters. First, we need to pray for them. Secondly, we need to extend a personal invitation to them to come home to the Catholic Church.

Most non-practicing Catholics are waiting for an invitation to return. Many mistakenly think they are excommunicated and not welcome to return for a variety of reasons. Many non-practicing Catholics carry a tremendous amount of guilt and misinformation about the Church, so they are afraid of approaching the Church for fear of being rejected.

You can make a tremendous difference in someone’s life simply by reaching out to them and telling them that we miss them and would like for them to come back home to our Church family.

If you are a Baptized Catholic and are not currently practicing your faith, please accept this as your personal invitation to come home. Seek out a priest you feel comfortable with and talk about your situation with him. You are missed, you are prayed for, you are loved.

9.03.2007

A Moment Of Rest

The above painting is entitled "A Moment of Rest" by Ridgway Knight. On this Labor Day we are encouraged to take a break, a respite, from our daily routine in the workplace and reflect on the gift we have from the Creator to be stewards of the earth. Yes, I said "gift"!

I can not tell you how often people confess their unhappiness with their work situation. The stress, the money, the boss, the co-workers -- you name it, I've heard it. The sad part about the situation is that many fail to recall the true purpose of work. As stewards of creation, God has entrusted to us the care of the world and its resources. Decades of inappropriate use and neglect of the earth, have caused us to look urgently now at a grim future. Desperately we are taking our call seriously and the time to act rests on us. Working should not mean simply to put money in the pocket and food on the table. Each job has a purpose and each purpose should produce pride in our work.

When is the last time you were proud of the work you did? If it has been a while, then perhaps your work is not done for the right reason. Does Labor Day, a day that we have celebrated since 1882, mean another three-day weekend, a celebration of the end of summer, a good sale? Or does it mean a day to thank the Lord for the gift of being able to make the world a better place with what we produce, giving thanks to the Lord for the gift of having a job, pray that fair trade practices, wages and health care are benefited by all of God's people?

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical "Rerum Novarum" which started the Catholic Social Teaching movement. Since then there have been several key issues that have developed in terms of the movement. There include:

  • the dignity of the human person
  • the common good
  • solidarity
  • subsidiarity
  • the purpose of the social order
  • the purpose of government
  • the universal purpose of goods
  • the option for the poor
  • the care of creation

In fact, much of the developments in the workplace are a result of documents written by the Catholic Church.

So today is not simply another day off, it is a day of reflection upon the "gift" of work and just a moment of rest.

8.31.2007

Classes Are In Session -- Watch For Children


The school bells are ringing once again. The laughter and shouts of children are filling the air. The Summer is quickly coming to an end. It is hard to believe.

Today, I want to focus on children and our task of looking out for their well-being. You have seen the title of this post before as bumper stickers and on highway billboards urging us to be cautious because children are around us. Isn't that funny? Children are around us each day and yet we go out of our way to be more aware of their presence when the summer months are coming to a close.

When the hot months occur that is when we should be most concerned with our children since they are in our view more often. They watch us -- at the mall, in the parks, at home and in church. And yet, we are told that when the classes are in session and they fill the seats of desks we should be more in tuned to them. Funny, strange, weird, huh?

As adults, we should be continuously strive to be living out our sainthood. We are examples to the younger set. We should be watching ourselves, our actions and words, daily. There are teachers, not just those in the classroom, that can change the world.

According to the Catholic Church, the fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1653.

So according to the Church,

CLASSES ARE IN SESSION (EVERYDAY) -- WATCH FOR CHILDREN (AND YOURSELF).

8.27.2007

Faith-filled Optimism

Let’s face it, we all get depressed at times, it is part of being human. However, as with all things, when it becomes excessive, depression characterized by dramatic mood swings, loss of interest in things one used to do and becoming lethargic is very detrimental to our overall health. In recent years, I have heard depression in the confessional many times.

Unfortunately, those of us who do suffer from this ailment and have been diagnosed as being clinically depressed, question the reason for living. Some might ask, "Is there hope?" Yes, there is. It is summed up in one word; FAITH. And what is Faith?

Well, according to Hebrews; "It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen"(11.1), in layman's terms, it is believing in what you can't necessarily see, feel or touch, but knowing that it is there and will be beneficial for you.

Remember when you may have fallen of your bike as a kid and after your mom nursed the bruise she tells you "let me kiss it so the pain goes away..."? Well as adults, we know that didn't necessarily make the hurting stop...per se, but in being told that, as kids we automatically believed "Well, if mommy says it'll go away by kissing it, then I believe it will...” The trick is the second part of that thought is what made it happen! Believing that what mom said she'd bring about will happen!

Evidently, kids in their innocence come by a natural ability to live by faith. We all were graced with this gift at our birth, but sadly the it dissipates, leaving room for such negative forces as depression, doubt, self-hatred, you name it.

It's no wonder Jesus said "To enter the Kingdom of heaven, you must be like little children..." He went on to say: "The kingdom of Heaven is within you" (Luke 17:20-21) Wow...what a statement! Now as powerful as faith is and as necessary as it is to overcoming depression, it needs to be exercised wisely to be strengthened.

Here are some tips:
1. Always act like it is impossible to fail, believe that it always works.
2. Pre-condition your mind to success in all things.
3. Realize that even the most positive people have losses, set-backs, etc.
4. Try, really try! Think, really think! Believe, really believe!
5. Perhaps most importantly, some things are are too much to bear alone and sound medical advice and counsel are always aids to a healthy you. (Please check Comment below from Tiber Jumper)

You are what you are and will be where you want to be based on your thoughts. Admittedly, it may not always be easy, but that is what life is all about and one comforting fact is God has promised in His word: “No temptation (problem) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (problem) will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Think on that, strengthen your faith with the tips above and you too will soon be overcoming depression.

8.23.2007

Good Sportsmanship: Not Just For Players

The season is about to turn and the practices have already started. The Fall sports schedules are completed and the games are ready to go. The athletes are preparing and the coaches are planning strategies. However, there is something to the phrase, "Winning isn't everything."

What is it that drives some people so far to that place where they feel that losing is bad? I have never been an athlete. My interest in sports is dismal. So I am sure that someone can call my placing this post "out of bounds", but the truth is that I have witnessed many, many situations in which people have lost control of their senses because of the possibility of not winning. The worst offenders are not the players, but rather the coaches and parents.

When I was in high school ministry, I tried to attend several games of the students to show my support for them. In the prayer before the games I never ask God to give them the win, but rather to keep them safe and provide the players with enjoyment. Sitting on the side-lines or in the bleachers, I remember so many occasions when parents lost their tempers at the refs for "bad calls" or at the coach for "not using my kid". Sometimes I would even see the players cringe at the sight of their parent's unruly behaviors or be brought to tears because they did not meet their coach's expectations.

It seems to me that when these things happen we lose sight of the real meaning of the sport. St. Paul tells us that we are to "run the race so as to win". That is correct. But, whenever there are several competitors, there is only one winner. Someone has to lose. How we handle loss is up to the individual. To sulk, snub, or lash out are characteristics of a real loser. One can never be a winner that way.

Keeping the Rules of Good Sportsmanship make us winners always, especially in the eyes of our Father.
Play Fair
Play the Best for Self/Team
Take the Results Well

8.15.2007

Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned

Reconciliation.... yes, that Sacrament with which many Catholics have a problem. I understand, completely. When I was in high school, college and even after entering the seminary (I am ashamed to say) I did not go to confession. Why? Well, the answer at the time seemed so logical to me -- now it just shows my ignorance.

The reason: I knew I was not a bad person, there wasn't anything that concerned me that much to cause me to avail myself to the opportunity. I hated the sacrament when I was a child, being marched over to the parish church for confession with my classmates, forced into a line of the priest I didn't want to hear my confession, then feeling obligated to make up sins so that I was considered a normal kid.

It wasn't until I got to seminary and had the class on the Sacrament of Reconciliation that my perspective changed. The problem I encountered was looking at my sin as personal. I failed to see the communitarian aspect of sin. Remember our first parents Adam and Eve and their refusal to live in God's love. Because of them, we inherited original sin. As their descendants, we need Baptism to bring us back to the existence we were to occupy from the beginning.

If we remained in that pure post-baptismal state, if we were not tempted, if we were not giving into sin, we would not need the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But we do sin and we need the forgiveness of the Lord. Each sin I commit, I hurt a relationship. The relationship can be with God, another or myself. God created us to be a community. Every time one of us sins we remove humanity from our rightful inheritance. Am I my brother's keeper? What do you think?

8.10.2007

The Liturgy of the Hours

When one hears the term "Liturgy of the Hours", the thought of a priest praying at morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night comes to mind. However, since Vatican II the Church has tried to bring the praying of the Hours to the entire faithful. It is the prayer of the Church, for the Church.
In days past it was common to see a priest walking around dressed in cassock and biretta with Breviary in hand. However, in the modern world in which we live today, the many demands upon the normal parish priest have escalated so much that he is now a CEO of the parish, as well as the minister of sacraments. (But that is a topic for another time.)
As was the Jewish practice of reciting prayers to God at specific times of the day, the early Christian church founders kept the tradition for the harmony in the life of Christian converts. As time went on the practice of the faithful praying the Hours, fell to the side. The priests, however, vowed at ordination to keep the Hours as a rule. The Liturgy of the Hours consists of psalms, prayers, canticles, readings and antiphons.
If you have never prayed the Liturgy of Hours I have posted a link on the top of the right column. When clicked it will take you to Universalis.com once there look for Office of Readings, then next to that choose either Morning, Evening or Night Prayer. It is great to know that in this technologically advanced age the Hours are only a click away for those who desire them. It is also great that you don't have to flip through the confusing pages of the book, too.

8.07.2007

Catholic Viewpoint on Cohabitation

Listen to this audio feed. Check out the individual sites posted.

That Catholic Show

What a great resource for catechists! Greg and Jennifer Willets have produced several wonderful "That Catholic Show" videos. Check them out.

8.04.2007

Barn Building

This Sunday's Gospel reading includes the Parable of the Rich Fool. I guess that we often can admit to our foolish ways, but when it comes to our spending habits, we would rather just ignore them. How many times have you purchased something only to regret it within a couple of months, weeks or (dare I say) hours?
I know that each time I move from assignment to assignment, one can get the feeling that I have mastered the Miracle of Multiplication, not of Loaves and Fishes, but possessions. Of course, with each move I promise myself that I will do better, but.....
Jesus is asked a question regarding inheritance and then turns the matter to the wider problem of materialism. He suggests that the farmer in the parable is hoarding his property in barns and silos. Simply, he is selfish and should have shared his wealth with the poor. Accumulation can be a curse when one does not do what one is called to do. Here are some practical antidotes to hoarding:
  • If you didn't wear something in the last year, give it to charity.
  • Consider shared ownership with neighbors or within families. How many ladders does one house need?
  • Commit to purchase things on your "Need List", not the "Want List".
  • Look at how much you spend a year on clothing, eating out, entertainment, grooming, hobbies, pets, etc. Does it match up on your charitable giving?
  • Don't rent a storage unit. Oh, what a trap! If you can't fit it into your home, you probably don't use it or need it.

Check out how many days left until Christmas on the right. Remember it the "Season of Giving", NOT the "Season of Getting".

8.03.2007

Cohabitation

Remarkable, to say the least. MTV actually allowed this to be shown on their network. Startling facts, huh?

7.31.2007

Me STRESSED? You Can't Be Serious!

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned.... and finally, I am getting stressed out a lot lately and I need some advice."
In light of the fast paced society that we live in these days, I thought I might present a post on stress and how to deal with it. Millions of people suffer the effects of stress in their daily routines and there doesn't seem to be any let up. If not treated professionally or with medicine the results on the person and the family can be grave. Learning to keep stress and the elements to stress in check are essential to a healthier you. Check out these helpful eight solutions to regulating stress:
  • Prayer. Try to come to the realization that it is better to "let go and let God."
  • Adequate Sleep. It has long been known that 8 - 10 hours a night is best.
  • Meditation. Start slow or you will give up too fast. Perhaps just a couple of minutes at first. Working toward a goal of 20 minutes will be great.
  • Exercise. Resistance Training and a moderate aertobic workout, such as walking or bicycling for thirty to forty minutes, three times a week, is also effective.
  • A Balanced Diet. A healthy diet containing B vitamins and magnesium helps to relieve chronic tension. B vitamins are essential for stress management.
  • Laughter. Go to a good comedy show or rent a wholesome video. As well as reducing stress, laughter has healing properties.
  • Attitude. When looking at a situation, break it down into manageable components. Instead of making sweeping negative statements, look at the situation realistically and create steps for resolving it.
  • Be social. Set up a network of friends and family who are listeners. When you feel stressed, call someone in your network to talk or set up a date to do something fun. Allow your friends to be supportive.

Try one or more of these solutions to reduce stress in your life. Any one of these will aid you in reducing stress levels. Then, "Go in peace and stress out no more."

Why Are You Catholic?

7.30.2007

Why Are You Catholic? (Part 2)

Check out the Survey to the top right. You can choose more than one answer.

7.25.2007

Why?


This morning I was informed that a member of my family took their life. Times like this cause us to question God's presence in our lives. When tragic events such as this happen, people of faith run to God for strength, help and support. But then there are those who run away from Him, blaming Him. So, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on suicide and the Catholic Church.

First, we must start with the fact that we are created by a merciful God. The Church states that suicide, while against the commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill", is committed by a person who is not in control of their mental faculties. God does not condemn those who are ill and do not know what they are doing. Second, we must pray for the true victims of suicide, the family. Often, those left behind feel guilty because of something they did or did not do.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives"(2283). Some might argue that the taking of life is a sin of grave matter, mortal sin. However, one must be mentally healthy to commit sin. It is an inborn part of our human nature to protect our lives. To go against that natural tendency, the mind has to be “unbalanced”, not able to reason, or so clouded by confusion and despair that the conclusion to the reasoning is faulty.

The Catholic Church offers and allows Christian burial to the victims of suicide. God alone can be the judge of an individual’s actions. We cannot stand as the judge of a person’s soul. We do not know their final thoughts, desires, regrets, or prayers.

Lord, you know his/her soul, you made them,
they are Yours.
Lord, in a moment of desperation blinded by despair
they departed from us.
Please, Lord by the merit of Your cross and resurrection,
humbly we ask for Your mercy.
Have mercy on their soul, and help their family and friends.
Heal them from this deep wound and sorrow.
Only You, the Healer,
can restore them and make them whole again.
Amen.

7.24.2007

The "Real" Separation Of Church And State

If there is one phase that is overused and misunderstood in our political society it has to be "the separation of church and state." Contrary to many politicians today, our founding fathers did not seek to remove religion from our society. Rather, a great number of those who signed the Declaration of Independence counted them-selves as men of faith. Nowhere in the Constitution do the words "separation of church and state" appear. Thomas Jefferson's idea of church/state separation was to protect religious liberties from an intrusive government! In no way did Jefferson or any of the other framers of the U.S. Con-stitution seek to restrict Americans’ religious activities, un-like the courts have done and will probably continue do in the future.

In 1864, Pope Pius IX issued a document entitled "Syllabus of Errors". This document listed 80 specific assertions which it declared erroneous. Number 55 in this list, in the section headed "Errors about civil society, considered both in itself and in its relation to the Church", reads: "The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church."

Frequently, the phrase of "separation of Church and State" is used by the government and the media to suggest that there are times when the Church forces itself into the affairs of the government. While it is true that the government cannot establish any one form of religion upon its people, one cannot ignore that the term originally was intended for the protection of the Church. That would have been Jefferson's thought.

In more recent times, the Church has maintained that the relationship between Church and State can be one of mutual co-existence. For example, the Code of Canon Law (1983) urges Catholic parents of public school students to make sure that religious and moral education should be secured in the public school system: "Christ's faithful are to strive to secure that in the civil society the laws which regulate the formation of the young also provide a religious and moral education in the schools that is in accord with the conscience of the parents" (canon 799).

7.23.2007

Life, A Beautiful Gift!

Today, I was out and about with a friend and we passed a mother pushing a stroller. I have done this so often before in my life, but there was something different this time. It was like I was noticing something for the first time in my life. I couldn't help but focus on the child's tiny hands and fingers. As adults we go about our everyday existence and fail to recognize God's most precious gifts to us. Life -- has got to be the ultimate!

I thought that it might be a great time to consider this gift of life that so many people disregard. Since I was in college, I have been active in pro-life activities. I have attended national conventions in Miami and Omaha. I have been involved in parish Respect Life Committees. In one parish, I even initiated and organized a Respect Life Ad published yearly in the secular newspaper on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Janice, a wonderful parishioner at the parish where it all started, has enhanced it to include some 20 parishes and other organizations, with hundreds (if not, thousands) of names claiming their belief in God's gift of life. Truly awesome! I urge you to stand up and get involved in pro-life activities, whether in your parish or community.

Focus, if you will at the photo in this post. This is a CHILD at 16 weeks! How can one say a life is not present? To be Catholic is to be pro-life. If you are Catholic, you MUST be pro-life. Thanks Mother and Dad for having me. Congratulations to Cindy and Michael, who informed me today that they are expecting their first child. Congratulations to Elyse and Matthew who gave life to Sebastian Thomas born a month ago today and will welcome him into the family of the Lord on the first wedding anniversary of his parents in August!

7.21.2007

Are You A "Mary" Or A "Martha"?

Every time I hear this story of these two sisters, I cannot help but reflect on how it relates to my life. It is no secret that most of us consider ourselves to be busy people today. We want to see our dreams fulfilled, so we strive to make our lives perfect, at least as perfect as we humans can make them. However, we cannot lose sight of putting ourselves into the presence of the Lord.

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things." Boy, that sure sounds like me. I am certain that many of you can relate to me when I say that. By nature, I am a busy person. I like to see the fruits of my labor. I like to be complimented on a task well done. But, who do I do the task for? I am afraid that if I am honest, I would have to say that many times it is me. Often, I bring that question from the Baltimore Catechecism to my mind and to the reflection of the faithful. You know the one, "Why did God make you?" The answer is, “God made me to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next.” God DID NOT make me to know myself, to love myself, and to serve myself.

I remember growing up in the 70's and seeing a TV commercial which asserted "BE YOURSELF." While I do not have any problem with being happy with whom God made us to be individually, I think the message was misinterpreted in many respects to mean that I am the most important. Look around, what kind of world do we live in today? Is our society one that is thankful for the blessings that are bestowed on us by God? Frankly, I am amazed at how little Church attendance there is on Thanksgiving Day. Like many national holidays, people can not wait to take time off and relax. Do we need to be reminded what that day is for in the first place?

All in all, I would have to agree with Jesus (surprise, surprise) when He says "Mary has chosen the better part." Mary was not lazy -- she was focused on the important part of life in the Lord. Truth be told, the Lord calls us to be both Martha and Mary at different times in our lives to enhance the world in which we live. It is up to us to prioritize which person we are and when.

7.16.2007

Boy, This One Was A Squeaker!

Thanks to some kind Blogger friends, I thought I'd take the challenge. Here are my results:

You scored as Roman Catholic, You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic

100%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

86%

Neo orthodox

57%

Emergent/Postmodern

57%

Classical Liberal

43%

Fundamentalist

29%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

29%

Modern Liberal

29%

Reformed Evangelical

14%


created with QuizFarm.com


Check out your Theological Viewpoint at:
http://quizfarm.com/run.php/Quiz?quiz_id=7095

7.14.2007

Can I Have Your Attention, PLEEEEEASE?!

Distractions. They are all around us. The television mentality is here. Most of us live our lives in segments or should I say snipits. It is like we can not focus on anything more than seven to ten minutes. However, while multi-tasking is the in thing -- it isn't always appropriate.

Unfortunately, such is true today at the sacred liturgy. Each week I see people coming to "attend" Mass. They fulfill their duty, but miss the true meaning of why they are there. Often, I tell my congregation that if they are there simply because of obligation, then don't come. This may sound harsh, I understand. But come on -- the reason we are there is to give glory and praise to God, right? Living in one's own world, apart from the community, not responding to prayer or singing with emotion, what good is it?

People usually tell me the reason that they don't sing is because they can't. Okay, who gave you the voice you have? Apparently, He does not find it offensive. So who are we to judge. I mean we aren't trying out for American Idol. God gave you the voice you have, give it back to Him. But maybe, you have to do it not quite so loud.

Recently, I had a conversation with a parishioner from another parish who came to my Mass. They lamented that their priests are boring and have no life. I asked why they thought that was the case. Frankly, they had no idea. So I said, "How much life do you bring to the liturgy?" The person was taken back and responded, "Me? That's not my job!" So let's get this right. I, as a priest, am the leader of prayer and the cheerleader as well. Wow! Seminary did not prepare me for the "Rah, Rah, Rah!!!" part. See, to me looking out at a bored and non-responsive assembly does not give me anything to collect energy from, especially doing multiple Masses in one day.

Of course, the real reason for going to Mass is to receive the Lord in Word and Sacrament, but with awareness and awe. Paying attention me be difficult, but highly beneficial.

7.11.2007

Healing Old Wounds

In recent weeks there has been some active Catholic chatter regarding the Pope's "Summorum Pontificum." Many believe that the pope is getting rid of the Mass in the vernacular which has been offered for the last four decades. Such is not farther from the truth. The letter states that while the new Roman Missal, introduced in 1970, remains the ordinary way of Catholic worship, the 1962 missal should be considered "the extraordinary expression of the same law of prayer."

What, then does this mean? Frankly, very little to the average Person In the Pew (PIP). Since the promulgation of the 1962 version, there has not been a great outcry to bring the Latin Mass back. Yes, there has been the occasional dissident group calling for the reinstatement of the Roman liturgy, but not significant numbers. Why won't this new letter return the liturgy to the former state? There are several reasons:
First, most people who want the Latin Mass returned do it out nostalgia. They romanticize that past without an ideal appreciation for the present and future. Time and time again, I have heard Catholics longing for the "old Mass". When pressed to answer the question "Why?", they do not really know. Because of the Latin, they say. But did they understand it? No. I suppose there was a mystery that they miss.


Second, if we revert how would this include those under the age of 45 and those brought into the Catholic Church via RCIA? This may be hard to comprehend, but coming out of the Latin into the vernacular is definitely easier that the other way around.

Third, priests for the most part in active ministry were not trained in the Latin Mass. Those who had such experience are retired or will retire in the next couple of years. While seminaries require Latin in the college level, they do little on the graduate level. As a second career vocation, I had no Latin at all in the seminary. Most vocations today are second career as well, which means that most active priests today do not know the ancient language.

In short, the reason for Pope Benedict XVI's letter is to reach out to those who have alienated themselves from the Roman Church -- an olive branch that perhaps will be accepted (or not).

7.08.2007

The First Installment

Less than a week ago if someone had asked me to do a blog I would have never considered it. In fact, there might be a good chance that I might regret this. However, I had dinner at the home of a beautiful couple in my parish and was amazed at how this all works. I thought for a while asking myself if I had something to say, prayed, of course, and came to the conclusion that the Lord's message might get a hearing using this vehicle of modern technology. So here goes!

You will find this will not be a place of hard hitting theology, but rather a straight look at the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. I pray that this will not be a Catholic bashing opportunity for those who have fallen-away or have a grudge against the institution. But rather, a place to search, reflect and live.