Friday, June 29, 2007

More Motu Madness: The Wisdom of Fr. Z.

Fr. Z. of What Does the Prayer Really Say has this gem which is especially pertinent if you have been pining for the Motu Proprio:

Fr. Z’s 5 Rules of Engagement for after the Motu Proprio is

1) Rejoice because our liturgical life has been enriched, not because "we win". Everyone wins when the Church’s life is enriched. This is not a "zero sum game".

2) Do not strut. Let us be gracious to those who have in the past not been gracious in regard to our "legitimate aspirations".

3) Show genuine Christian joy. If you want to attract people to what gives you so much consolation and happiness, be inviting and be joyful. Avoid the sourness some of the more traditional stamp have sadly worn for so long.

4) Be engaged in the whole life of your parishes, especially in works of mercy organized by the same. If you want the whole Church to benefit from the use of the older liturgy, then you who are shaped by the older form of Mass should be of benefit to the whole Church in concrete terms.

5) If the document doesn’t say everything we might hope for, don’t bitch about it like a whiner. Speak less of our rights and what we deserve, or what it ought to have been, as if we were our own little popes, and more about our gratitude, gratitude, gratitude for what God gives us.

Motu Madness

As many of you have probably heard by now the Holy Father is set to release a document (called a Motu Proprio) making it easier for Priests to provide the Tridentine Mass for the faithful on July 7th.

Surely there will be alot of questions, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and celebration, depending on what one's thoughts are about this.

For those of you who might have questions about what is going on, Fr. Martin Fox of Bonfire of the Vanities has a wonderful post addressing many of the questions that Catholics might have.

One thing to remember, however, is that at this point, only a few (a very few) people have actually seen the document and guess what, they aren't talking about it. So anything that someone might say about what the document actually says is speculation or rumor. That being the case I reserve judgement and comment untill it is released on July 7th.

If you want to check out Fr. Fox's post you can check it out here. Just to give you a little taste of what he says here is a little quote:

Why is he [the Holy Father] doing this?

I see three reasons -- again, let's wait and see what he says -- but meanwhile, here are my reasons:

1. Aiding reconciliation with those "traditionalist" Catholics who are seriously disaffected with the Church over the implementation of Vatican II.

These are those folks who frequent chapels associated with groups known as the Society of St. Pius X and the Society of St. Pius V, and others. There is presently a serious division between these groups and the Church, to the point many call it schism, but that term provokes irritation and arguments about legalities; but I mention it to highlight the seriousness of this.

The pope very rightly is concerned that this rupture not become permanent;
there are those who argue it already has, and I see signs of that, as well. How often we look back and wonder, if only this or that had been done, perhaps the ruptures of the Protestant Reformation could have been avoided. Only God knows.
But the pope, as a shepherd, must be concerned that it is up to him to see if he can prevent something that may have long-term negative consequences for the Church.

2. Reconciliation with the Orthodox. The divisions between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches go back about a thousand years, and there has been much ugliness in the whole mess. But the good news is that in recent decades, both sides have come to recognize there is not as much dividing us as we once thought (although I don't want to overstate that--many in Orthodoxy are still very pessimistic about this), and there are folks on both sides talking seriously about eventual reunion.

One of the key issues is the liturgy. As important as it is for Catholics, the liturgy is vastly moreso for the Orthodox, who see it as the main bearer of tradition -- a point Catholics would probably agree with, except we fail to emphasize the point.So the Orthodox were very troubled by the way we Catholics seemed to treat our liturgy in the wake of the Council. So radical, so contemptuous, so freewheeling in changing it,
and worse, allowing so much abuse of the new form. (Again, many Catholics feel the same!)

That leads to the third item here:

3. The right understanding of the Catholic liturgy per se.

The pope has said many times that we've interpreted the liturgy, and the Council itself, the wrong way -- from a stance of "discontinuity" or "rupture," versus one of continuity. I.e., why did the liturgy change so much? Ought it to have? Did the Council really call for that? Is this a good thing?

The pope (among many others) believes not; so he is aiming for a reconciliation, as it were, between the current rite and the old rite themselves.

This isn't about abolishing the Council or the reforms that arose from it, but about rethinking them with a view to the full tradition -- and if that sounds like a strange thing to do, then the pope's point is completely proved. I.e., as Catholics, you would think that we would already have wanted to interpret the Council, and its changes, in the context of our full tradition; and if we didn't to any degree, we simply have to get back on track.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Archbishop Curtiss on Fornication

Archbishop Curtiss (Archdiocese of Omaha, NE) has never been one to shy away from speaking the truth, sometimes rather bluntly. Here is a recent letter (via Is My Phylactery Showing?) wherin he lays down the smack on cohabitation and fornication:

June 5, 2007
Letters to the Editor
205 W. Monroe
St.Chicago, IL 60606

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the article in your June edition entitled "A
Betrothal Proposal" by Michael G. Lawler and Gail S. Risch.

The teaching of the Catholic Church about fornication is clear and unambiguous: it is always objectively a serious sin (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #1755, #1852, #2353). Couples who live together without marriage do in fact live in sin objectively.

Because the position of the authors is contrary to Church teaching about the intrinsic evil of fornication, I have disassociated the Omaha Archdiocese from the Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University.

Neither Lawler nor Risch are reliable teachers of Catholic moral theology, and certainly are not spokespeople for the Church regarding human sexuality and
sacramental marriage.

I remain sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Elden Francis Curtiss
Archbishop of Omaha

Here is a link to the horrible article he refers to.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Homily: Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged swordand concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

This past Friday we celebrated the memorial of St. Thomas More, a Saint who often comes to mind when I think of St. John the Baptist, who’s Birth we celebrate today. St Thomas More was born in 1478 in London. He studied law and entered Parliament in 1504 and eventually was made Lord Chancellor by King Henry the VIII (the eighth).

When no offspring resulted from the marriage of King Henry and his wife Katherine of Aragón, Henry divorced her and married Anne Boleyn so that there would be heirs to the throne.

Parliament, in order to support the King re-marrying outside the Church, passed a law forcing clergy to acknowledge Henry as the supreme head of the Church – to acknowledge him as their own little Pope. Shortly afterwards St. Thomas More resigned his post as Lord Chancellor, for he could not support the King as Head of the Church. He knew who that was, and it wasn’t King Henry.

Shortly thereafter he was summoned to Lambeth and asked to take the oath declaring that the King was indeed the supreme head of the Church, which he refused and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. There he was deprived of all dignity, he was deprived of his family except for a few occasions where they encouraged him to betray his faith and the Church, which he refused to do, for to deny the faith and the Church would be to deny Christ. He was eventually beheaded in July 1535. His final words were, “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

“But God’s first…” My brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Thomas More was a man after the heart of St. John the Baptist, for he knew that, above all things, he was God’s servant. He was, as our first reading points out, called from birth to be the servant of the Lord and thus show forth the glory of almighty God.

We, like St. Thomas More; like St. John the Baptist, are called to be the same. Each of us have been called from before our birth, before we were even born, to be servants of the Most High, to serve Him above all else.

This is something that is very hard for our world to understand. I think for the most part we who come to Church and try to live a holy life understand it…but understanding it is not enough…we have to live it, and that my friends is not easy. How many of us would be willing to lose our heads, literally, like St. Thomas More and St. John the Baptist did, rather than denounce the teaching of the Church? Are we willing to put being a servant of God before our very lives?

My friends, God doesn’t want just one small part of us...he wants every part of us…he wants us to serve him before all else…before political affiliations, before our jobs, before sports, before family vacations, before all things that are not Him.

I think that deep down we know that. I think that there is a desire within us to live radically the call of God…to follow Him unreservedly…to become great saints no matter what the cost. But the evil one just loves to put all sorts of excuses in our heads. He loves to remind us of what we have to give up; all those “fun things” we will no longer be able to do if we radically live our faith. But those things are nothing…nothing…compared to the Glory that will be revealed in and through us if we give ourselves to God, if we abandon ourselves into the arms of a loving Father and trust that where He leads is truly good for us.

This abandonment to God, this radical living out of our call to be servants of God above all things will require change…it will require us to grow…to expand our horizons. And that change is not easy, but because it is God who is leading us we need not fear that change.

The Church Universal is always seeking to serve God and because of that radical following of Christ sometimes there will be changes…there will be transitions. Whether it is a new Pope, a new translation of the Mass, or a renewal of various traditions that have been lost, have no fear, for it is God who leads the Church and calls her to serve Him above all.

In our desire to be good and faithful servants of God our Diocese and Parish may encounter changes. Whether it is a new Bishop, a new pastor or parochial vicar; whether more Latin in the Liturgy or a stronger focus on reverence and devotion, have no fear, for it is God who leads this diocese and this parish, and calls us to serve Him and His Church above all else.

To be a God’s servant: that is our call no matter who we are or what our vocation. I hope that in my time here at Holy Spirit I have been a good servant of God. I hope that I have helped you to grow, to expand your horizons, to make the changes that God is calling all of us to make in our lives so that we can be the servants he is calling us to be.

I know that all of you, from the oldest to the youngest, from the Pastor to the most recently baptized baby have helped me to grow, to expand my horizons, and to make the changes that God is calling me to make.

Know that you will always be in my prayers, and please pray for me that no matter where God may lead me, I will always be, above all things, a servant of God, making known His glory to all.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest Ordinations

Recently Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis ordained two men from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest to the Holy Priesthood according to the Tridentine Rite. I have never taken part in an ordination in that particular Rite, but after seen the pictures I wish I had been there. Here are a few of my favorites pictures from the event:

Now call me crazy, but these pictures show a beauty and grandeur that most (but not all) in our Church have never been able to experience. It seems to me that most, if not all of our fellow Catholics long for this sort of liturgy which will truly lift their hearts and minds toward heavenly things rather than earthly things.

Please, however, don't hear me saying that the only way to return that beauty and grandeur to our liturgies is to only use the Tridentine Rite or to only offer the Mass of Paul VI (the Mass most of us are used to) in Latin. What I am saying is that we should offer the Mass of Paul VI as the Church intended (not what some people THINK the Church intended). If we do that faithfully, the beauty and grandeur of the Mass will return and our hearts and minds will be lifted toward heavenly, rather than lowering them to the ordinary and mundane.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bishop Saratelli Does It Again! This Time On The Liturgy

The illustrious Fr. Z points out this wonderful article (apparently the first of a series) by the Bishop of Paterson, NJ on the topic of the loss of the sacred. Below are some excerpts with some underlining and such by yours truly. If you want the full effect, however, read the whole thing.
Living in our world, we breathe the toxic air that surrounds us. Even within the most sacred precincts of the Church, we witness a loss of the sense of the sacred. With the enthusiasm that followed the Second Vatican Council, there was a well-intentioned effort to make the liturgy modern. It became commonplace to say that the liturgy had to be relevant to the worshipper. Old songs were jettisoned. The guitar replaced the organ. Some priests even began to walk down the road of liturgical innovation, only to discover it was a dead end. And all the while, the awareness of entering into something sacred that has been given to us from above and draws us out of ourselves and into the mystery of God was gone.

Teaching about the Mass began to emphasize the community. The Mass was seen as a community meal. It was something everyone did together. Lost was the notion of sacrifice. Lost the awesome mystery of the Eucharist as Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The priest was no longer seen as specially consecrated. He was no different than the laity. With all of this, a profound loss of the sacred.

Not one factor can account for the decline in Mass attendance, Church marriages, baptisms and funerals in the last years. But most certainly, the loss of the sense of the sacred has had a major impact.

Walk into any church today before Mass and you will notice that the silence that should embrace those who stand in God’s House is gone. Even the Church is no longer a sacred place. Gathering for Mass sometimes becomes as noisy as gathering for any other social event. We may not have the ability to do much about the loss of the sacredness of life in the songs, videos and movies of our day. But, most assuredly, we can do much about helping one another recover the sacredness of God’s Presence in His Church.

On the first day of this millennium, the Prince of Wales struck a strong note of optimism for the recovery of the sacred. Paraphrasing Dante, he remarked: "The strongest desire of everything, and the one first implanted by nature, is to return to its source. And since God is the source of our souls and has made it alike unto Himself, therefore this soul desires above all things to return to Him." There is one place where we can begin to rediscover the sacred.

Bishop Serratelli: A Man With Moral Courage

When I read this one I knew I had to post it. Here are some excerpts, but please do read the whole thing:

...The Church teaches that the right to life is fundamental. Without life, there are no other rights. To support abortion is a grave moral evil. Why would a Catholic be surprised when the Pope says that anyone who freely and knowingly commits a serious wrong, that is, a mortal sin, should not approach the Eucharist until going to Confession? The Eucharist is the summit and source of the Church’s life. The Church guides the faithful in the correct formation of their conscience. She offers both the objective norms of morality and the norms for worthy reception of the Eucharist.

In his response to the reporter’s question, the Pope was not placing religious sanctions in the political arena, as these politicians stated. He was teaching religious doctrine in a religious context, that is, the worthiness to receive the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, who is the Lord of life. He is right when he insists that supporting abortion is incompatible with the reception of Holy Communion.

In recent guidelines provided by the bishops of the United States to help Catholics to prepare for the worthy reception of Holy Communion, the bishops said, “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her Communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain” (Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper, 4). By steadfastly choosing to be pro-choice, a Catholic -- politician or not -- excludes himself or herself from communion.

Today not only is the taking of so many innocent lives alarming, but no less unsettling is the darkening of conscience among so many who find “it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life” (Evangelium Vitae, 4).

Why should the Church not have a right to voice her teaching on this important issue in the public square? She must speak and speak often. Abortion may be for some just a political issue. But, for the innocent child, it is a matter of life or death.

Ultimately, the statement of the 18 politicians who publicly blasted the Holy Father is simply a refusal to allow the Pope freedom of speech and the Church freedom of religion. Now how American is that?

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Big Move

Well, as most of you may know (or not) I will soon be moving to a new parish, and as part of that transition I have decided to make a move in the blogosphere as well, to a new, well, I guess you could say, cyber parish. It has been something I have been meaning to do for some time because my current blog home does not have any way to moderate the comments, and there are some nasty people out there who love to post all sort of filth, especially on a priests blog. Hopefull this will be much better.

Since I am in the midst of a move posting might be a little slow, but I will try to post a few things in the midst of the mayhem. I am sure I will also be playing with the template, so let me know what you think.