Thursday, November 30, 2006

St. Andrew

Today is the feast of St. Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, patron of the Orthodox Churches. Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist, and one of those to who left John to follow Jesus. The synoptic gospels all tell how Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw Andrew and Simon casting their net into the Sea and told them to "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." John tells us a little more. Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist. Andrew was with another follower of John the Baptist and John pointed out Jesus to Them and said "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" John went and found his brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah!"
Little is know for certain of his life after Pentecost. He is not mentioned in Acts, except among the list of Apostles, and no mention is made of him in any of the Epistles.
Legend and tradition say that he was crucified on a decussate cross, that is a cross shaped like an X, was bound and not nailed to prolong his suffering and that he died during the time of Nero, executed by a Roman Governor, named Aegeas at Patrae in Achaia.
Most of his relics are in Rome, transported there just before the fall of Constantinople. Pope Paul VI returned some of them to the patriarchate, to the church at Patras, where they are kept in a crypt at the Amalfi cathedral, along with other relics also believed to belong to Andrew.
He is the patron of Scotland Greece, Russia, Romania, Amalfi, and Luqa - Malta. He was also the patron saint of Prussia.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Pope in Turkey

Surely the Catholic blogosphere is abuzz with Benedict's trip to Turkey. The mainstream media is likewise watching every nonce of every word, hoping for either a controversial mistake or a politically correct apology for calling Islam to terms for thier actions.
One fact seldom if mentioned at all on the mainstream media is the Turkish government's systematic program to destroy the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople by closing their only seminary in the 1970's and preventing Orthodox clergy ordained outside Turkey from legally working there. Their goal is the eventual termination of the Patriarchate through attrition.
If Turkey wants to join the European Union it is time for Christians in Europe to demand that reopening of the seminary and reasonable working visa policies for foreign clergy be established, as a condition of entry.
That and lots of prayer. The Orthodox church has both apostolic succession and valid sacraments. Though there are issues between Rome and Constantinople, they are not of such a magnitude that we should wish their primary patriarchate to join those of Revelations in extinction. We should pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the patriarchate to safety and full reunification with the Roman Church.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Mass again

Over at Amy Welborn's blog in a comment on the renovation of Pell's Cathedral in Australia, someone posted a comment on the Mass. It was only slightly relevant to the piece itself, but naturally elicited lots of comments.
I had to go to a meeting before I could post my thoughts and comments were close before I could get back. I'll hold my comments for posting tomorrow, but thought I would write my thoughts here also.
The original comments were:

The fussing about abolition is a smokescreen for the reality of the situation:

1. There are not two Roman Rites, but one.

2. The Missal of 1970 was a reform of the previous Missal.

3. The use of the 1570/1962 Missal, unreformed by the directives of Vatican II, remains a curiosity at best, and a distraction or a banner for schism at worst.

4. The continued emphasis on the 1570/1962 Missal draws energy and effort from the real task of the Catholic liturgy: making it as humanly effective as possible by means of great music, great preaching, great art and architecture, etc..

If lovers of high church ritual, smells, bells, and the like want to continue, there's nothing stopping them from having a Latin-language Mass celebrated with appropriate pomp and spirituality--except perhaps that the traditionalist clergy are fixated on an unreformed and outdated Missal.

The wishful thinking about a "liberation" of an old Missal, given the repeatedly dashed hopes of every "leaked" promulgation date, is a little embarassing.

Todd's a little confrontational in his delivery. I must agree with many of his conclusions. Lets look at the source, Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, was one of the most significant measures enacted by the Second Vatican Council. According to Wikipedia, (which I have no reason to doubt in this case) it was approved by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,147 to 4.

"25. The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible; experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from various parts of the world.
"Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:
34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation."--Sacrosanctum Concilium

Reading the document, it is quite clear, to me at least, that it was their intention that the 1970 revision was to be a revision of the 1962 revision of 1570 Trent Missal.

As for the 1962 Missal, and its use...There is only one Roman Rite, and it is the Novus Ordo. Why else would an indult be require to say a Mass using the 1962 Missal?

Quoting the Catholic Encyclopedia "Indults are general faculties (q.v.), granted by the Holy See to bishops and others, of doing something not permitted by the common law."

If the Tridentine were indeed a separate rite or licit version of the Roman Missal an Indult would not be required for its use.

Now was the revision done and promulgated as well as it should have been? Should the use of Latin have been more specifically spelled out in the documents? Does the 1970 revision have too many available options for the various parts? These are all valid questions and should be answered, perhaps by another revision of the 30-year old N.O. But this is a separate question and does not speak to the issue of the Tridentine rite, which was replaced by the 1970 revision, except where its use was allowed by Indult.

As a matter of fact, if there are problems with the N.O. Tod is also right that the fixation on the Tridentine Mass by those most likely to push for meaningful reforms of the N.O. is preventing any real progress in getting the excesses properly addressed.

The Tridentine Mass has become a schismatic symbol to groups like SSPX and France's bishops.

And I also agree that some seem to me to see a return to the Latin Mass as a cure all for the problems that the Church has experienced since the 1960's, problems caused by a changing culture. These changes were not caused by the change in the Mass or the Church. I have my own opinions about that, which I will write about another day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Twelve Days of Christmas

My parish did a little preparation for Advent catechesis last night. As part of the warm up we got a sheet with the story of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The original came from the Catholic Information Network. It was written by Fr. Hal Stockert.

Nativity Review & Perpetual Virginity

The Nativity premiered at the Vatican. Father Z was there and his blog has both a review of the movie and a discussion of the theological concept of Mary's perpetual virginity and what that means in relation to the pains of childbirth. The discussion is ongoing so head on over there...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Too many choices

I've been a geek for most of my life. I cut my teeth on a Univac 1108, and played with a PDP/9 as my first micro-instruction computer. I was on AOL when it was still PC-Link and hit the Internet when you basically had to be at a University to get access. I've assemble computers from parts and even written a printer driver to allow an Atari to talk to a PC printer. I was on the web when only Swiss physicists and uber-geeks were and the browser of choice was Mosaic.
So its with some trepidation that I have to admit that the cyber-world has become too big, too diverse for me to keep up. I mean first there was email and newsreaders, then FTP, IRC, and the WWW. Now there's Instant Messenger, Online gaming and Second Life. Second Life?
I attended a conference for personal computer use in control systems. Most of the people there had been in the computer business for years; software, hardware, embedded systems, PLCs(programmable logic controllers), etc., etc., etc. After a week of talks on every conceivable aspect of process control using computers, by an international cast, we had a guest speaker who was to speak on the future of computing.
A guy came in. First thing he did was throw his Powerpoint on the big screen using his phone, like the guy in the MS commercial. He starts by saying, "Well I just attended a client conference in Second Life..."
Blank stares, even from the Americans in the audience. So he tells us how there is this whole virtual world, where people spend and make real money, meet people make friends, etc. Then a couple of days ago, while doing some research on the Mass for a lesson I'm writing I find this.
So I'm thinking, I'd really love to check this out. SL membership is free, but... who has the time?
I sold a single RPG article last month, and haven't started working on another yet. I've got a massive programing project due at work. There's still Christmas shopping to do, and I've promised my dear heart to floor the attic before Advent is over.
I don't have the time to learn another piece of software and explore a whole virtual world. Like the time sinkhole which is instant messenger, I'm going to have to forgo joining Second Life, probably for a couple more years of this life.

The order of the Mass

Trinity Sunday and father was about to go into his sermon on Christ as King, so he asks, "How many noticed that today I'm wearing white vestments instead of green?" A number of hands go up, about 2/3rds of those present. "So how many didn't notice?" No hands go up.
Now this should be prefaced by two facts. Fact one: Father has never been one to allow the laity to fore go their responsibility:
In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy. --Sacrosanctum Concilium.
In father's eyes the responses are part of the office of the faithful attending Mass, and they should loudly and with reverence perform those parts.
Fact two:This particular morning between the Greeting and the Penitential Rite a number of adults were chattering when they should have been silent. Going into the Penitential Rite father felt, quite justifiably in my opinion, that people should have been silently contemplating their sins in preparation for our recital of option C of the rite rather than chatting.
The lack of response to his question, as well as the earlier talking motivated father to toss his homily on Jesus' appearance before Pilot and launch instead into a sermon on appropriate behavior at Mass.
This was not a tirade against the behavior of the community, but rather a thoughtful sermon on the place of the laity in worship. He explained how the Mass was both community and personal. There are parts of the Mass during which the community prays together and parts when we should be praying alone. Response during the proper times is our (the laity's)way of fulfilling our office. Quiet during the proper time is necessary for us to engage in respectful individual prayer during the times when we should be doing so.
I have always been glad that father, while a supporter of the N.O., is very exacting in adherence to the Roman Missal.
After Mass I thanked father for his sermon and expressed my appreciation for his strict stand on the Mass. His answer?
"Well it is the liturgy of the Church. They don't pay me to be creative."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

English translation of the Mass

I have written on the Mass in Latin before. The keynote address at the Gateway Liturgical Conference, St Louis, Missouri, November 11, 2006, LANGUAGE IN THE ROMAN RITE LITURGY:LATIN AND VERNACULAR has been posted at Adoremus.
Generally an illuminating talk, which points out the importance of a new, authentic translation of the Roman Missal. I'm afraid it will take someone of the caliber of St. Jerome to get it right.
Of course it will all be for naught if the ordinaries don't ruthlessly enforce it's use, while continuing to clamp down on illicit deviations from the proper forms.
The Novus Ordo has a lot going for it. More scripture is read at a N.O. Mass than at a Tridentine Mass, at least on Sundays where an Old Testament reading joins the Epistle and Gospel reading. It includes the Responsorial Psalm, which is an ancient part of the Mass predating the council of Trent and going back as far as 400 A.D. The prayer of the faithful goes back just as far in Church history.
But all of these restorations are meaningless if the priest fails to follow the prayers and rubrics of the Mass as laid down in the Missale Romanum. If we as Catholics want to preserve the beauty, reverence and sanctity of the Novus Ordo, whether it is said in Latin, the vernacular or a combination of both, we must urge the ordinary responsible for enforcing the proper celebration of the Mass, our local bishop, to live up to his responsibilities.

Christ the King

Today's Vespers begins Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. That means that Advent starts next Sunday. Still need to get Advent candles for my wreath. Went shopping for a new Nativity set, my better half hates the set we have. Truthfully it is oversized for our townhouse, so I'm trying to find one this year that is a little more in scale for our environment. Haven't found one that really strikes us yet, but we have plenty of time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

New computer on the way

Regulars may remember that my son's computer went south on him a couple of weeks ago. I gave him my laptop, because when you're a college student telling your parents you failed a course because you had no computer is no fun. Besides, considering what it's costing me to send him to college allowing him to fail by not helping him have the right tools is not reasonable.
So anyway my lovely and talent wife (have I mentioned she's also very smart) has insisted on buying me a new laptop for Christmas.
It's a Dell 1501, and I have it on good authority it is already on premises. She also picked out a new Pinder bag for me. (My old one went with the computer.)
Meanwhile she has not yet given me a single idea of what she want's for Christmas.:-(

The Nativity

Well, everyone who hasn't been in a cave for the last few months knows that Newline Pictures is releasing a movie on the birth of Christ, The Nativity. The 'net is a buzz with the typical commentary based on half-baked theological mutterings, so I though that this would be an excellent time for a little catechesis on things.

Lets start with vocabulary:

Immaculate Conception:Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin, she therefore, though subject to the ordinary limitations of human nature carried no inherent moral defect. This is the Immaculate Conception. She still had the capacity to sin because like all humans, including her son she possessed free will, however because she was without the stain of sin inherited from Adam and through the grace of God she was virtuous and without sin.

Annunciation:At the Annunciation the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” --Luke 1:30
This might also be called the Virginal Conception, though the term that is usually used is the Incarnation, because it is assumed that the Annunciation is when God through the Holy Spirit caused Mary to conceive the baby Jesus. In the Eastern Church the feast is celebrated as the Incarnation of Christ. It is for this reason that the Annunciation is celebrated nine months before Christmas.

Nativity:The birth of a child, in this case the birth of the baby Jesus.

Christmas:Literally Christ's Mass from the Old English Cristes mæsse. Often abbreviated Xmas because the Roman letter "X" resembles the Greek letter Χ (chi), an abbreviation for Christ (Χριστός). So see you are not "taking Christ out of Christmas" by using the Xmas form.

Virgin Birth:The concept that Jesus was born while Mary remained a perpetual virgin. This is the subject of some controversy in modern times, not because Catholics have any doubt that Mary was a virgin until her death, but because there is a question of the meaning of virgin. Does virgin mean in this case someone who has abstained from sexual intercourse or does it also mean a someone who has an intact hymen?
We know in modern times it is quite possible for a woman who has never engaged in sexual intercourse to have a broken hymen. Also for Mary's hymen to have been intact after she gave birth to Jesus would have required another miracle beyond the Incarnation. Not that such a miracle is beyond God's power, but did it occur? So far the Church has not taken a definitive stand.

The movie itself (which since it has not yet been released, I have not seen) seems to stake a claim out on some of the controversies, while still remaining true to the actual Gospels. Mary experiences childbirth, which means the movies has gone with the non-miraculous birth (not the same as the non-miraculous conception)position.
Joseph is in his twenties, old enough in biblical times to have older children by another (deceased) wife, the Eastern Church's answer to the brothers of Jesus mentioned in the bible. [Roman Catholics typically use the cousin definition of the word.]
Joseph struggles with his love for Mary and this child who is not his, quite believable, since even saints are not perfect, and in line with what the bible says. After all, it took a visit by an angel to convince Joseph to take Mary for his wife. His intention to quietly put her aside, rather than publicly accuse her of infidelity, shows in some measure his character and feelings for her. Unfaithful women under Mosaic law were subject to stoning.
I'm looking froward to the movie. I'll review it when I've seen it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


The point is this. Pro multis has been large in the Catholic blogosphere lately and most of the experts seem to contend that "for all" vs. "for many" wouldn't be a big thing, except that catechesis in the English speaking world is so poor that many Catholics don't realize that while Jesus died to make salvation available for all, it is not available to all, because they reject it. So while he died to make salvation available for all it is really available only for many, because of their own actions in rejecting salvation.
This lack of catechesis in this aspect of our faith extends to many other areas. We have a whole generation who are poorly catechized in the Catholic Faith. It is very easy to rail against the conditions which caused this to happen; Conservatives against Vatican II, orthodox liberals against fixation on rolling back Vatican II as the solution to all ills.
The real question is how to fix the problem? The balance of present day Catholics, both adult and children will never be able to go to Catholic school. For the balance of our families private school is not an option. Home schooling doesn't work when both parents must work just to make end meet.
That does not mean that education doesn't happen in the home, it just means that both the parish and the home have a hand in Catholic Christian formation.
It also means that our Religious Education programs must be effective, they must reach out to children, teens and adults. In two hours a month we can not teach a child all they should know about their faith. I come from a parish with an ambitious Life Teen program, which meets for three hours every Sunday and supplements it with monthly family catechesis. This is still not enough.
Our answer must be similar to the United States' wider educational problems. To create educated students we strive to create lifelong learners. To create well catechized Catholics we must strive to create lifelong catechical learners.
My parish does it by making available adult classes as well as adult and teen bible studies. The real focus of the classes is not to cover it all, but to get out to the participants a sense of the amount of material available and the techniques necessary to absorb the material.
Bible reading, in some form, should be a part of every Catholics life, not just limited to the readings at Mass. All of the Pope's writings are available on the net, as well as writings from the Church Doctors. The documents of Vatican II and the many documents propagated since then are available, with analysis from experts.
Remember if your children see you read the bible every day, do the Liturgy of the Hours, spend time reading books by Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II, Any Welborn or Dave Armstrong then that is what they will do, (even if they don't let you know it!)
And we must work so that the catechism we do at our parishes makes good use of the little time they have to teach a solid foundation.
I work with both middle school and high school teens. No matter what lesson I'm covering there are several things I try to relate. One thing is they should be praying every day, continuously if possible. Another is that reading the bible should be in their day plan too, even if only for five or ten minutes. I quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where applicable, especially to the older teens. I make sure they know the CCC and the new compendium are available on the Internet, where most of these kids live.
We can do this, but we need to be in the game and move beyond pointing at the problem parishes.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all from America. A day to thank God for all of the blessings he has bestrode upon us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Papa Benedicts new book

The Pope has finished the first volume of the book he started when he was still a Cardinal.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has completed the first volume of a major scholarly and spiritual book on Jesus of Nazareth, a work he began several years before being elected pope.

"Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration" is scheduled for a March release in Italian by the Rizzoli publishing house and in German by Herder Verlag.

Announcing the publication Nov. 21, Rizzoli and the Vatican gave reporters copies of the book's preface and a portion of its introduction.

In the preface, signed "Joseph Ratzinger -- Benedict XVI," the pope wrote that for decades he had noticed a growing scholarly distinction between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of faith," a distinction that many Christians now accept as accurate.

But, he wrote, if the human Jesus was totally different from the Jesus depicted in the Gospels and proclaimed by the church, what does it mean to have faith in him?

"I trust the Gospels," the pope wrote.
Hopefully there will be a good English translation.
the preface has been released and Teresa Benedetta has made available a translation.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Basilian Father Thomas M. Rosica writes about
a new documentary, produced in part by the Knights of Columbus, which takes viewers on a spiritual pilgrimage to meet some of the Church’s most beloved holy men and women.
In his piece Fr. Rosica says:
Some voices within the Church criticize John Paul II for naming so many saints and blesseds. I disagree with those voices, especially after many years of working with young people. Today’s youth have a desperate need for real heroes and heroines, models and witnesses of faith and virtue that the world of sports and popular culture cannot provide.
In his piece he writes of a pilgrimage with a group of Canadian students after World Youth Day through Europe to discover the places where some of these saints lived.
The Knights of Columbus have produced a video documentary on the lives of some of these heroes, Saints: Gospel Artists. To purchase a copy visit the Salt and Light online boutique at or call 1-888-302-7181.

Pesentation of Mary

Todays feast commemorates the dedication of the Church of Saint Mary, which was built near the Temple Mound in Jerusalem. In both the Eastern and Western Churches this is the day recognized traditionally as the day Mary was presented at the Temple.
The church itself was destroyed, some accounts say by an earthquake in the seventh century, and the ruins were converted into a mosque by Abd El-Wahd in the early eighth century. Muslims believe that this mosque replaced a larger, more ostentatious mosque on this site where Mohammed ascended to heaven, but history does not bear this out, as the church is known to have been built by Justinian and was not destroyed until several years after Mohammed's death.
Why was Mary presented at the temple? Christ was presented at the temple because under Jewish tradition the first born son was presented to God. It was an ancient tradition. Girls were not.
According to legend Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless. This is recorded in the apocryphal the Protoevangelium of James, though the account is not scriptural the story persists in both the Eastern and Western Churches.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Our lesson last night was on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. For those remiss in their theology they are:

1. Wisdom
2. Understanding
3. Counsel
4. Fortitude
5. Knowledge
6. Piety
7. Fear of the Lord

Where do they come from? That is, where does God reveal them to us? The Seven Gifts of the Spirit are from Isaiah 11:2
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of
the LORD.
Fortitude is another word for might. In the book the prophet is foretelling of the coming of Jesus "a shoot coming from the stump of Jesse" and the gifts that he shall have from God. Since both the Father and the Son share their relationship with the Holy Spirit, as we say "I believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son," Jesus had all of the Gifts of the Spirit in their highest, most holy, pure form.

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says
“The Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. Jesus also called him the Paraclete (Consoler or Advocate) and the Spirit of Truth. The New Testament also refers to him as the Spirit of Christ, of the Lord, of God - the Spirit of Glory and the Spirit of the Promise.
At Pentecost, the Churches' birthday, the spirit descended upon the Apostles. At baptism the Holy Spirit makes each of us baptized in the name of the Triune God a new creature, a "son or daughter of light." At Confirmation (or as it is called in the Eastern Churches Chrismation for the anointing with holy myron or chrism that takes place) the recipient is given the same gifts that the Apostles were given at Pentecost.
So why don't we start speaking in tongues and rush out to preach the Gospel in the face of persecution and death?
Well some of us do, but like the Apostles we must be ready to receive the gifts of the Spirit. Don't forget the Apostles had already seen the risen Christ. They had broken bread with Him, that is said Mass. They had seen Him raised to Heaven amid the praise of Angels. They could be said to be a little more prepared for the gifts of the Spirit than most of us.
But least we lose hope God places among us those who a ripe with the Gifts of the Spirit. And the Church elevates them as examples for us to emulate. They are the Saints, and in some ways also the Blessed, on their way to sainthood.
Like the Servant of God John Paul II, whose greatest act was perhaps not the defeat of Communism, or the bringing of the Church into the 21st century, but the forgiveness that he gave to a man who tried to kill him. For as Jesus said:
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what
they are doing.” Luke 23:34
In our own time Blessed Teresa of Calcutta provided an example:
Until her death in 1997, Mother Teresa continued her work among the poorest of the poor, depending on God for all of her needs. Honors too numerous to mention had come her way throughout the years, as the world stood astounded by her care for those usually deemed of little value. In her own eyes she was "God's pencil—a tiny bit of pencil with which he writes what he likes." American Catholic

So pray to the Holy Spirit, and ask the Saints to intercede with the Spirit on your behalf. Then go out there rich in the Spirit to do God's work.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pro Multis

Amy Welborn discusss the new translation of the Eucharistic prayer, but the real expert is Fr. Zuhlsdorf, as she says:
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has a bit of context on the mandate from the Congregation for Divine Worship that "pro multis" in the Eucharistic Prayers be translated as "for many" not as "for all."
Of course this is not the only change in the translation of the Mass as reported at Catholic Online.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Forgiveness is the lords

Recently I had the occasion to read a question and answer column by a priest. In the column a woman mentioned that her son was a God parent at the baptism of a child born to a woman in an unmarried state. The inquirer wanted to know if it was proper for such a child to be baptized. The priest replied that of course it was. He did not however address the underlying assumptions of the inquirer; that the Church would withhold baptism from an innocent due to the sins of it's parents.
I find that assumption most disturbing and counter productive. An unwed birth is most often, especially in the case of a teenage mother, the result of a very bad decision. It could only be more terrible for such a mother to make an even worse bad decision and murder her baby through the sin of abortion.
So the right thing for her to do is have her baby. Some would then cut her off from the pastoral guidance of the Church and deny salvation to the innocent child, for some perceived sin of public scandal.
The sin of an unwed mother is quite visible. The sins of the rest of us are not quite so visible but every bit as real. Our sins, just as hers, are forgiven through the sacrament of Reconciliation.
So my assumption would be that the Church would be quite willing to extend the Sacrament of Baptism for the child and Eucharist for the mother to a repentant sinner, just as she does for all the rest of us repentant sinners. And if we pray for her, perhaps she'll also pray for us.

Dedication of the Churches of St. Peter & Paul

Today is the celebration of the Dedication of the Churches of St. Peter & Paul. From ancient days the Church has celebrated the dedications of Churches, typically linking them to the Saint for which they are named. Fr. Nicholas at Roman Miscellany has a short FYI on the two Churches, as well as pictures.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pope Benedict's Nov 16 meeting

The Pope met yesterday with members of the Curia to discuss the disobedience of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and requests for dispensation from celibacy by some priests as well as requests for readmission to priestly ministry presented by married priests.
For those who don't know Archbishop Milingo has attempted to ordain and raise to the episcopate several married men, all without Rome's approval, of course. The Holy See has declared that Milingo, and the men he has ordained are in a state of excommunication by their actions.
Jimmy Akin has a good look at the subject at his site.
I have mixed feelings about celibacy. Jesus never married and since he was without sin it can be assumed he was both celibate and a virgin. St. Peter was married, and it is likely that so were at least some, if not most, of the other apostles. St. Paul was likely not married.
Mandatory celibacy of priest did not come about in the Latin Church until the twelfth century. In the Eastern Churches in union with Rome it is still not mandatory for priest, though in most a bishop cannot be married. As for Roman Catholic deacons a married man can be ordained but a priest cannot marry once ordained.
I believe there will always be orders of celibate priest. I also believe that eventually the Church will decide that God is calling many men to the priesthood who are also married, and that the Church is denying the vocations for a reason rooted in niether scripture nor (that's big 'T')Tradition. Certainly the Roman Catholic Church has a thousand year old (little 't') tradition of celibacy, but such a tradition should be held only as long as it serves the Church.
In the last 100 years it has not served the Church. It has contributed to the shortage of priests. I believe it has resulted in a higher percent of homosexuals in the priesthood than in the general population. I also believe it has contributed to the pedophile problem in ways I will not go into here except to say that I would find it hard to believe that a bishop with children of his own would think it reasonable to move a priest who has had several accusations of molestation against him to an assignment in another parish, where he would then once again have access to minors.
Do I expect a rapid change in the policy of marriage and priesthood? Not likely. But at least the Pope is discussing it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Married Love and the Gift of Life

Just went through Married Love and the Gift of Life the USCCB document on marriage. The document, as might be expected from the title, deals primarily with contraception and Natural Family Planning. It is primarily a pastoral letter, in that it explains and guides, rather than threatens and warns. There is no explicit mention of sin, but rather a lengthy explanation of why contraception is bad for married couples and society.
Our culture often presents sex as merely recreational, not as a deeply personal or even important encounter between spouses. In this view, being responsible about sex simply means limiting its consequences—avoiding disease and using contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.
This cultural view is impoverished, even sad. It fails to account for the true needs and deepest desires of men and women. Living in accord with this view has caused much loneliness and many broken hearts.
God’s plan for married life and love is far richer and more fulfilling. Here sexuality is the source of a joy and pleasure that helps the spouses give themselves to each other completely and for their entire lives.
The question now will be how many contracepting couple will actually read this document, or hear about it from their priest?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Eucharist Document USCCB

I've gotten through the Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper”: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist.
After reading the document it is much harder to see a justification for refusing to list contraception explicitly as a grave matter that would prevent the reception of communion. Hard to understand when an extensive laundry list of other sins are given:
Objectively, certain thoughts, actions, and omissions entail grave sinful matter. As Catholics, we are obliged to form our consciences regarding what constitutes grave matter in accordance with the Church’s teaching. While it is not possible to make a complete list of thoughts and actions that involve grave matter, they would all be serious violations of the law of love of God and of neighbor. If we follow the order of the Ten Commandments, some examples of such thoughts and actions would be
• Believing in or honoring as divine anyone or anything other than the God of the Holy Scriptures
• Swearing a false oath while invoking God as a witness
• Failing to worship God by missing Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation without a serious reason, such as sickness or the absence of a priest
• Acting in serious disobedience against proper authority; dishonoring one’s parents by neglecting them in their need and infirmity
• Committing murder, including abortion and euthanasia; harboring deliberate hatred of others; sexual abuse of another, especially of a minor or vulnerable adult; physical or verbal abuse of others that causes grave physical or psychological harm
• Engaging in sexual activity outside the bonds of a valid marriage
• Stealing in a gravely injurious way, such as robbery, burglary, serious fraud, or other immoral business practices
• Speaking maliciously or slandering people in a way that seriously undermines their good name
• Producing, marketing, or indulging in pornography
• Engaging in envy that leads one to wish grave harm to someone else
It would almost make one believe that the sin was specifically omitted.

Going through the Married Love and the Gift of Life document now, but I probably won't finish it before I have to go to work. So I'll post on it tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

USCCB Documents

The three documents, which have been voted on by the USCCB are now on line. I haven't finished reading them yet. When I do I'll probably comment. I'm not terribly interested in Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination. The other two Married Love and the Gift of Life and Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper”: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist seem to be most applicable to my ministry. Hopefully I'll get a chance to start on them tomorrow.

All Access

Franciscan University has posted the theme song for their summer 2007 youth conferences. It's by Sarah Bauer and Christopher Sansone.
Missed last years conference. We actually had too many adult chaperons! Hopefully I'll get a chance to go this year. Awesome for any of you who get a chance to go as a teen participant or as a chaperon.


The US Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting is underway and Amy Welborn has been blogging on their public deliberations. Televised on EWTN.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Latin Mass

Amy Welborn as well as many of the other Catholic bloggers have been abuzz in the last month or so over the possibility that the Holy Father will loosen the indult on the Latin Mass. Cardinal Francis Arinze, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments visited St. Louis yesterday and spoke. His talk? "Language in the Latin Rite Liturgy: Latin and Vernacular."
In an hourlong, often humorous, address that received several standing ovations, Arinze suggested that, in order to give Catholics options, large parishes offer the Mass in Latin at least once a week, and in smaller, rural parishes, at least once a month. (Homilies, he said, should always be in the faithful's native language.) Latin "suits a church that is universal. It has a stability modern languages don't have," he said. (from STL today.)
As a transitional Catholic (one who celebrated the Mass in the Tridentine rite as a teen and the Novus Ordo since) I find myself torn. In my opinion the NO has many advantages over the Tridentine Mass, especially in the area of Full, Conscious, Active Participation, a requirement of the celebration. In memory, at least, it seemed that in most pre-NO Masses I attended most of the laity lacked FCAP.
Sacrosanctum Concilium the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, not only dictated the revision of the Roman Missal but also allowed experimentation to take place, with the proper supervision of the local ordinary, the bishop. Unfortunately it appears that the bishops weren't paying attention. The result has been a flood of practices of questionable heterodoxy. Recently, especially in the past year, the bishops, possibly under pressure from Rome, have started to curb the abuses.
The nature of the abuses is, I believe one reason the Tridentine Mass has enjoyed a resurgence. Use the 1962 Missal and you avoid all of the excesses.
I prefer a different way. A properly celebrated NO Mass can be said in Latin instead of the vernacular. The readings would still be said in the vernacular (necessary in my mind for FCAP) while the liturgy proper could be said in Latin.
Music is another area. Many modern compositions are mixtures of Latin and English, and I have attended Masses and XLT's where verses are sung first in Latin and then in English, making a very beautiful method of praying twice.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Life Teen

Awesome Life Teen tonight. The deep spirituality and prayerfulness of our kids never fails to both surprise and comfort me. Our speaker spoke on the Beatitudes and Matthew 25:31.
We did a short Adoration. Our Youth Minister, who is an Extraordinary Minister of Communion, exposed the host. Father had another engagement, so no benediction. It was reverent. At the youth mass this morning we asked the members of the parish to write something they wanted the youth to pray for on a slip of paper and a number of youths picked one of these slips from a basket. They were to pray for each intention this week.
We hold adoration at least once a month, followed by XLT, but naturally the usual suspects attend. Doing adoration as part of Life Teen exposed (pardon the pun) a larger group who never attend adoration regularly. Father has promised to fit another one in when he is available, so benediction can be done.
I think our youth program is fairly successful. We get about 75-100 participants each week. Next week:The Holy Spirit.

Catechetical Meeting

The Diocese of Richmond has required that all catechists undergo training and certification, so this weekend a number of us went away on retreat to view videos and complete question forms to meet the requirements. We stayed in a very nice house at a center maintained by the Episcopalian Diocese of Southern Virginia, which they very kindly made available for our use. The food was very good and the fellowship even better. I learned a few things and believe we made some decisions that will improve our youth program. We use the Life Teen program. I highly recommend it. There was a time when some of the liturgical practices suggested by Life Teen were not in conformance to the requirements, but that is no longer the case. Their Life Night packages are engaging, fun and based on the solid foundation of the Liturgy and the CCC.
I was out of step though. Fully half the participants had laptops along, which allowed them to take notes and complete their assignments while we talked. I quickly scribbled undecipherable notes, which I must go through tomorrow to complete the forms. This due to the fact that my laptop is in the posession of my son who is away at college. His broke down and I have not yet made the decision of whether I am going to replace his or get a new one for myself.
One of the areas we discussed was relational ministry; how we should make our young charges feel we are available as mentors and spiritual helpers to them, especially in times of need. While we were gone one of our kids lost his step-father, and naturally we were all away and unavailable. Thank the Lord for cell phones. While we were generally unavailable caller ID and voice mail allowed us to return calls during the breaks for ministerial situations.
Always a hard thing to balance private time, for prayer and meditation, with the omnipresent communication available with today's tehcnology.
Speaking of technology I've got to give an unsolicited plug to Easy Worship software. We use it for XLT (EXaLT Him) and Life Night. If you've been using Powerpoint, or it's Open Office equivalent Impress, to display lyrics for your worship music then it's time to come into the 21st century. This is a very good program. It lets you jump around between verses (mandatory with our last youth music minister) and quickly move between songs in any order. You can also select Powerpoint presentations (much more useful for talk outlines than for music lyrics) and even videos. My youth minister says it's possible to download songs directly into the software, from online, so that you don't have to type in the words. (They come complete with copyright notice, for a very reasonable cost.) We have a site license, so that we can use it on multiple machines.
Gee, my first software review!

Finally on the 'sphere

Something about me to start, until I have a chance to create a real profile. I am a married fifty-something Catholic. I work in accelerator operations for the U.S. Department of Energy. I also work in youth ministry. I live in Hampton Roads. I am a member of a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Richmond. I am also a sometimes professional writer, mostly of materials for Role Playing Games, especially of the science fiction RPG Traveller.
Do not expect to see much here on nuclear physics or Role Playing. Though I have many interests that occupy me, I find myself spending more of my time in the service of God and in studying and reading the message of God's Church on Earth. In this blog I hope to concentrate on my relationship with God and the Church.
Politically I support some points of the conservative side in some areas and the liberal side in others. Like many Roman Catholics of orthodox leanings I do not fit well into the typical American Democrat/Republican-liberal/conservative pigeonholes. In the spectrum of Roman Catholicism I am fairly conservative, if conservative means believing in the teachings of the Church as embodied in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I am not Trad or a Cafeteria Catholic.
I don't expect many others will find this blog useful to them. I have no great insight into the movings of the Roman Catholic Church. I often read something on another blog and find I have a great deal I would like to say about it. More than would be polite to post as a comment. So I decided to take the plunge and get my own place to ramble on.
So this is the end of my first post. Hope you're not sorry you came and will return soon.