Sunday, January 24, 2010
On October 13th, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a remarkable vision. When the aged Pontiff had finished celebrating Mass in his private Vatican chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about ten minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from his chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere. When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord:
“I can destroy your Church.”
The gentle voice of the Lord:
“You can? Then go ahead and do so.”
To do so, I need more time and more power.”
“How much time? How much power?”
75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
“You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”
That was Pope Leo's vision in 1884. Satan said that he needed between 75 and 100 years. 75 years onto 1884 brings us to 1959 (incidentally, the year of my ordination!) and in the January of that year Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council. Just about the first thing to come from the deliberations of the Council Fathers, which began in earnest in 1963, was the abandonment in 1964 of the Leonine Prayers, the prayers at the end of Mass which called St Michael to the aid of the Church on earth.
In the years from 1959 to 1984, judge for yourselves whether Satan has kept his promise to destroy the Lord’s Church. Of course, the Lord’s Church can never be destroyed altogether. But, ask yourself, if you are old enough to remember, were parish churches fuller in 1984 (and since) than in 1959? What happened to parish societies, like the SVP and the Legion of Mary, in that time? Has the Church been more united in worship? Are we more united in doctrine than ever before, or is everyman his own Pope now?
One particular loss of belief which we have suffered is the belief in Satan and his awful army of devils who seek to destroy our spiritual life with God. I love to say the Leonine Prayers whenever I can, and I hope and pray that some day they will be re-instated at the end of every Mass which is celebrated.
As you wish Patrick, I have posted and I prayThe Egyptian
I want you to do something, so please read this entire post.
For many, I suppose that the true meaning of last week's events has yet to sink in. For the last few days as I pondered the meaning of the arguably miraculous turn of events, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
As we approached the birthday of Our Lord, pro-lifers in the U.S. reluctantly realized that this momentous battle in the war on life was likely lost. The opposition had overwhelming superiority in numbers and a steely determination to institute a universal health-care regime that funds abortion. We, along with many other concerned citizens of various stripes, protested, marched, attended townhalls, lobbied, and prayed, seemingly to no avail. The Senate had passed, in complicity with ostensibly pro-life Senators, its version of the bill with its thinly disguised abortion on demand funding.
The passage of the Senate bill signaled what seemed to many, the end of the fight. Democrats huddled to hammer out any compromises necessary to achieve final passage of the bill. We watched in dismay as every day inched closer to the compromise that would seal the deal and put the bill on the desk of the President in time for the State of the Union. We had lost, there was nothing more we could do, but pray.
But God had other plans.
In a way that seemed almost impossible, the entire battle has turned. I need not go into detail here, you all know the story. We understand that the war on life is far from over, but today, at least for a while, by the grace of God, we have avoided institutionalized and tax-payer funded abortion. There will be other battles and perhaps they will be very soon, but it is incumbent upon all of us to acknowledge the great miracle that we have witnessed and to thank God for delivering us from this evil.
So what I propose is that we Catholic, Christian, and pro-life bloggers everywhere give thanks to God by way publishing the Non Nobis in gratitude for this wondrous day.
Sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
Not to us, not to us, o Lord,
But to your name give glory.
I ask that any blogger interested in showing their gratitude for this victory, print the Non Nobis. I will also encourage you to also link or show your favorite version of the Non nobis. Mine is the scene from Henry V after the battle of Agincourt.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Monday, 24 March 2008
A few weeks ago Fr Z made a clinical [and deservedly] scathing
attack on Richard McBrien's disgusting remarks regarding reception of communion according to the sentiments of the pre-conciliar church . McBrien stated we were now equals with the clergy by standing to receive, we no longer kowtowed by feeding ourselves etc etc etc...
I wanted to 'freak out' and rip the catholic commentator to shreds; but was reticent to as I would have probably burst a blood vessel ! Anyway - here's my version of a response:
A couple of months before his death Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was interviewed on national television. One of the questions was this:
"Bishop Sheen, you have inspired millions of people all over the world. Who inspired you? Was it a Pope?"
Bishop Sheen responded that it was not a Pope, a cardinal, another bishop, or even a priest or a nun. It was a little Chinese girl of eleven years of age. He explained that when the Communists took over China, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory near the Church. After they locked him up in his own house, the priest was horrified to look out of his window and see the Communists proceed into the Church, where they went into the sanctuary and broke into the tabernacle. In an act of hateful desecration, they took the ciborium and threw it on the floor with all of the Sacred Hosts spilling out. The priest knew exactly how many Hosts were in the ciborium: thirty-two.
When the Communists left, they either did not notice, or didn't pay any attention to a small girl praying in the back of the Church who saw everything that had happened. That night the little girl came back. Slipping past the guard at the priest's house, she went inside the Church. There she made a holy hour of prayer, an act of love to make up for the act of hatred.
After her holy hour she went into the sanctuary, knelt down, bent over and with her tongue received Jesus in Holy Communion, (since it was not permissible for laymen to touch the Sacred Host with their hands.)
The little girl continued to come back each night to make her holy hour and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on her tongue. On the thirty-second night, after she had consumed the last and thirty-second host, she accidentally made a noise and woke the guard who was sleeping. He ran after her, caught her, and beat her to death with the butt of his rifle. This act of heroic martyrdom was witnessed by the priest as he watched grief-stricken from his bedroom window.
When Bishop Sheen heard the story he was so inspired that he promised God he would make a holy hour of prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament everyday of his life. If this frail, little child could give testimony and witness to the world concerning the real and wonderful Presence of her Savior in the Blessed Sacrament, then the Bishop was absolutely bound by all that was right and true, to do the same. His sole desire from then on was to bring the world to the burning Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
ESPN.com news services
As a top prospect for the Oakland Athletics, outfielder Grant Desme might've gotten the call every minor leaguer wants this spring. Instead, he believed he had another, higher calling. Desme announced Friday that he was leaving baseball to enter the priesthood, walking away after a breakout season in which he became MVP of the Arizona Fall League. "I was doing well at ball. But I really had to get down to the bottom of things," the 23-year-old Desme said. "I wasn't at peace with where I was at."
The A's need star hitters if they're ever to get somewhere, and Grant Desme didn't look like a future star, writes Rob Neyer. Blog
Saturday, January 16, 2010
New Catholic Music by Kevin Allen
Like the "Second Spring" we've been seeing in church architecture, there is also something of a renewal of church music these days... and one of its bright lights is Chicago composer and conductor Kevin Allen. We are fortunate that he will return to the Mundelein Liturgical Institute's Sacred Music Retreat in June of 2010 as schola director. His web site tells that he has "developed a unique reputation as a composer of church music for the Roman Rite" and that his "works, sacred and secular, have been performed in churches and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe." Click the video below to enjoy a beautiful setting of "Desidero mi, Jesu" ("I desire, oh my Jesus, that you would refresh me on this, the food of angels") sung by soloists from the Lincoln Chamber Chorale in Chicago, directed by Timothy Woods. Imagine hearing this during your communion meditation... then realizing it is new music. Sing a new song unto the Lord, indeed.
The National Catholic Reporter, which Americans sometimes portray as their equivalent of the Tablet, comes out this week with an astonishing attack on Cardinal Rodé which covers a sideswipe at the Pontificate of Pope Benedict. Fr Z has a fisk on the article, describing it as a "nutty" - which seems fair.
It's actually quite funny as well. Here's the purple passage:
Or is he upset that most do not prefer, as he does, dressing up in the trappings of royalty, the yards of silk in the cappa magna, the canopies and throne chairs and all the rest -- being attended by his minions, younger priests in lacy surplices, birettas and old-fashioned vestments encrusted with gold thread and jewels -- all the while speaking in a dead language, facing a wall, his back to the people?This asinine description of Mass celebrated ad orientem in the timeless language of the Church, with dignified vestments, will doubtless be quoted by young traddies over pints of beer and guffaws of laughter for some time to come. As you wipe off the flecks of virtual spittle shooting out from the NCR, consider that the "nostalgia" most evident in articles such as this is for the mid-1970s, the era of glam rock, AcrilanTM, and the eight track stereo. I was there. I share the fond memories; but as they say, it is time to move forwards, not backwards.
Pope wants crucifix at the center of ALL westward-facing altars during Mass, says papal MC. So why do our bishops ignore him?
Monsignor Guido Marini, Benedict XVI’s master of ceremonies, this week strongly underlined the Pope’s recommendation that when Mass is celebrated facing westwards, the priest should place a crucifix at the centre of the altar. This was to make clear that the celebrant was not “facing the people”, but facing Christ.
The Holy Father could hardly have made himself clearer on this point. So why do the Bishops of England and Wales allow the vast majority of their priests to ignore his wishes? Why do the bishops themselves routinely ignore the recommendation?
Perhaps someone will ask the bishops when they make their ad limina visit to Rome at the end of this month. One hopes that Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference, will be able to reply that the bishops have drawn up plans to introduce this reform universally – and also to make it easier for the faithful to receive communion kneeling and on the tongue, which is the preference of the Pope. (At the moment, too many parish priests treat anyone wishing to receive the Sacrament in this way as an oddball, rather than a Catholic following the example of the Holy Father.)
Below are some extracts from Mgr Marini’s address to the Year for Priests Clergy Conference in Rome, organised by the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. Hat-tip to that incomparable resource, The New Liturgical Movement website.
Here is Mgr Marini on the question of orientation. Note that he, like the Pope, supports eastward-facing celebration where it is appropriate:
Without recourse to a detailed historical analysis of the development of Christian art, we would like to reaffirm that prayer facing east, more specifically, facing the Lord, is a characteristic expression of the authentic spirit of the liturgy. It is according to this sense that we are invited to turn our hearts to the Lord during the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, as the introductory dialogue to the Preface well reminds us. Sursum corda “Lift up your hearts,” exhorts the priest, and all respond: Habemus ad Dominum “We lift them up unto the Lord.” Now if such an orientation must always be adopted interiorly by the entire Christian community when it gathers in prayer, it should be possible to find this orientation expressed externally by means of signs as well. The external sign, moreover, cannot but be true, in such a way that through it the correct spiritual attitude is rendered visible.
Hence the reason for the proposal made by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, and presently reaffirmed during the course of his pontificate, to place the Crucifix on the centre of the altar, in order that all, during the celebration of the liturgy, may concretely face and look upon Lord, in such a way as to orient also their prayer and hearts. Let us listen to the words of his Holiness, Benedict XVI, directly, who in the preface to the first book of his Complete Works, dedicated to the liturgy, writes the following: “The idea that the priest and people should stare at one another during prayer was born only in modern Christianity, and is completely alien to the ancient Church. The priest and people most certainly do not pray one to the other, but to the one Lord. Therefore, they stare in the same direction during prayer: either towards the east as a cosmic symbol of the Lord who comes, or, where this is not possible, towards the image of Christ in the apse, towards a crucifix, or simply towards the heavens, as our Lord Himself did in his priestly prayer the night before His Passion (John 17.1) In the meantime the proposal made by me at the end of the chapter treating this question in my work ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ is fortunately becoming more and more common: rather than proceeding with further transformations, simply to place the crucifix at the center of the altar, which both priest and the faithful can face and be lead in this way towards the Lord, whom everyone addresses in prayer together.” (trans. from the Italian.)
Let it not be said, moreover, that the image of our Lord crucified obstructs the sight of the faithful from that of the priest, for they are not to look to the celebrant at that point in the liturgy! They are to turn their gaze towards the Lord! In like manner, the presider of the celebration should also be able to turn towards the Lord. The crucifix does not obstruct our view; rather it expands our horizon to see the world of God; the crucifix brings us to meditate on the mystery; it introduces us to the heavens from where the only light capable of making sense of life on this earth comes. Our sight, in truth, would be blinded and obstructed were our eyes to remain fixed on those things that display only man and his works.
In this way one can come to understand why it is still possible today to celebrate the holy Mass upon the old altars, when the particular architectural and artistic features of our churches would advise it. Also in this, the Holy Father gives us an example when he celebrates the holy Eucharist at the ancient altar of the Sistine Chapel on the feast of the Baptism of our Lord.
In our time, the expression “celebrating facing the people” has entered our common vocabulary. If one’s intention in using this expression is to describe the location of the priest, who, due to the fact that today he often finds himself facing the congregation because of the placement of the altar, in this case such an expression is acceptable. Yet such an expression would be categorically unacceptable the moment it comes to express a theological proposition. Theologically speaking, the holy Mass, as a matter of fact, is always addressed to God through Christ our Lord, and it would be a grievous error to imagine that the principal orientation of the sacrificial action is the community. Such an orientation, therefore, of turning towards the Lord must animate the interior participation of each individual during the liturgy. It is likewise equally important that this orientation be quite visible in the liturgical sign as well.
And on the question of kneeling to receive Communion on the tongue:
Here is the reason why everything in the liturgical act, through the nobility, the beauty, and the harmony of the exterior sign, must be conducive to adoration, to union with God: this includes the music, the singing, the periods of silence, the manner of proclaiming the Word of the Lord, and the manner of praying, the gestures employed, the liturgical vestments and the sacred vessels and other furnishings, as well as the sacred edifice in its entirety. It is under this perspective that the decision of his Holiness, Benedict XVI, is to be taken into consideration, who, starting from the feast of Corpus Christi last year, has begun to distribute holy Communion to the kneeling faithful directly on the tongue. By the example of this action, the Holy Father invites us to render visible the proper attitude of adoration before the greatness of the mystery of the Eucharistic presence of our Lord. An attitude of adoration which must be fostered all the more when approaching the most holy Eucharist in the other forms permitted today.
So let us get this straight. The Pope is asking priests to place a crucifix on the altar and inviting communicants to receive in the traditional manner. Yet these developments, arising out of the Pontiff’s profound reflections on divine worship, receive no support from the Bishops of England and Wales.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols has paid frequent tribute to the vision of Benedict XVI. The liturgical reality in most parishes in this country has not even begun to reflect that vision. The Archbishop is a strong and resourceful leader; when is he going to turn his attention to this discrepancy?
I saw something recently that referenced a "parish diversity council", and naturally I wondered "What the he-"? What does a parish need a "diversity council" (or any council) for? Funny, whenever I found a "diversity council", I never saw any reference to a Latin Mass at those parishes. Just sayin'.
Maybe there should be some Parish Catholic Councils, as a way to ensure that some Catholicism is retained in a given parish. "Sorry Ms. Judy Attitudy, a Pie Throwers Mass doesn't square with the GRIM, so NO, you can't have one."
Acts of the Apostacy has a review of the recently experienced Talk Show Mass.
The biological solution is starting to work, the slow dying end to happy clappy felt banner Catholicism, may it rest in peace, the sooner the better
Mary Daly, a retired professor at Boston College who was probably the most outré of all the dissident theologians who came to the fore of Catholic intellectual life in the years right after the Second Vatican Council, died on Jan. 3 at age 81. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, which might be called the golden age of Catholic dissidence, theologians who took positions challenging traditional church teachings—ranging from the authority of the pope to bans on birth control, premarital sex, and women's ordination—dominated Catholic intellectual life in America and Europe. They seemed to represent a tide that would overwhelm the old restrictions and their hidebound adherents.
Now, 45 years after Vatican II concluded in 1965, most of those bright lights of dissident Catholicism—from the theologian Hans Küng of the University of Tübingen to Charles Curran, the priest dismissed from the Catholic University of America's theology faculty in 1987 for his advocacy of contraception and acceptance of homosexual relationships—seem dimmed with advanced age, if not extinguished. They have left no coherent second generation of dissident Catholic intellectuals to follow them.
Prof. Daly certainly pushed the envelope. In 1968, she published "The Church and the Second Sex," a book that accused the Catholic Church of oppressing and "humiliating" women by excluding them from its "patriarchal" hierarchy. The title of her most famous work, "Beyond God the Father" (1973), is self-explanatory. At some point afterward, Prof. Daly, despite being raised Catholic and earning degrees in theology and literature from three different Catholic colleges plus the University of Fribourg, left the church to embrace ever more belligerent brands of feminism.
She got into trouble with Boston College, the Jesuit institution where she had taught since 1966, for barring men from her advanced classes in women's studies. In the wake of a sex-discrimination complaint launched by a male student, Prof. Daly and her employer engaged in a round of litigation during the late 1990s that culminated in her voluntary retirement in 2001. She spent her last years promoting vegetarianism, antifur activism, a protest of Condoleezza Rice's 2006 commencement speech at Boston College, and the coining of male-baiting neologisms (an example: "mister-ectomy").
The trajectory of her life story is not unusual among Catholic dissidents. The Young Turk of Vatican II—and pet of the progressive Catholic media of the time—was Hans Küng. A Swiss-born, movie-star-handsome priest whom Pope John XXIII had made a peritus, or theological adviser, to the council, Father Küng swept through a tour of U.S. Catholic universities to accolades in 1963. And his 1971 book questioning papal infallibility—which got him stripped of his license to teach Catholic theology in 1979—turned him into a living martyr among progressives. He is still at Tübingen (last heard from in October blasting Pope Benedict XVI's overtures to conservative Anglicans as "angling in the waters of the extreme religious right"), but he's 81.
The Belgian Dominican priest Edward Schillebeeckx, who had worked unsuccessfully to persuade the assembled bishops of the Second Vatican Council to downgrade the authority of the pope—and who was condemned in 1986 for holding that there was no biblical support for the ordaining of Catholic priests—died in December at age 95. The Rev. Charles Curran, who was a controversial figure at Catholic University as early as 1967, when he was temporarily removed from his tenured position over his views on birth control, and who moved to Southern Methodist University after his final dismissal from Catholic two decades later, is now 75.
Another prominent figure in liberal Catholic intellectual circles is Sister Sandra M. Schneiders, who is famous for her assertions that Jesus was a feminist and that God should be referred to as "she" as well as "he," as well as for her advice that progressive orders of nuns treat representatives of a planned Vatican investigation like "uninvited guests." She is also past retirement age and is listed as "professor emerita" at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif.
So where is the second generation of brilliant progressive Catholic theologians? There are plenty of liberal lay Catholics. The church's ban on artificial birth control is nearly a dead letter, a majority of Catholics say they believe their church should ordain women, and 40% have no moral objections to abortion, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. But dissident Catholicism seems to have lost steam as an intellectual movement, and not only because the issues relating to sex and papal authority that originally sparked Catholic dissidents have not changed in nearly 50 years.
The first-generation dissidents were products of a strong and confident traditional Catholic culture against which they rebelled, one whose intellectual standards grounded them in the faith they later came to question. Sister Schneiders, for example, earned four degrees from Catholic institutions, including the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Yet most Catholics of her generation have not passed on the tenets of their faith to their children—the offspring of the Vatican II generation tend either to be churchless or not to go to church—or, in the case of academics, to their students. It's hard to rebel when you don't even know what you are rebelling against.
Not that conservative Catholicism is in any better straits; it's a vibrant but niche branch of the religion, and its leading intellectuals—Robert George, Mary Ann Glendon—aren't theologians. But it is fair to note that when Prof. Daly died, she left behind no young Mary Dalys to continue waging her quixotic war against the faith that shaped her, whether she liked it or not.
Ms. Allen is a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute's Minding the Campus Web site.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Instead I think a lofty church inspires because there is something sacramental about it. Everything in a gothic church points up. When you enter the heart lifts because the building lifts. The gothic structure of solid stone seems to be made instead of something lighter. The delicate tracery, the pointed arches, the finials and filigree transforms the stone and suddenly I am longing that my heart of stone might be re-made and transformed into a heart of fire and light.
Then as the pointed arches rise I see my hands placed together in prayer like little pointed arches themselves and I want to be a sacrament of stone and light. I want my heart to arch up to heaven and become a temple of the Holy Spirit--a dwelling of peace and beauty that speaks silently of grace and welcomes sinners home.
I look and see high stained glass windows, too far away for my mortal eyes to see the detail and to understand and I know that the joys of heaven are as beautiful and distant and complex and colored and mysterious as those high windows. Further down I can see some windows where saints are pictured and I want to be like that--a saint standing in eternal stillness radiant through with the light from beyond.
This is why Catholic Churches should be high and clear and beautiful. This is why churches that look like shopping malls or parking garages should be...shopping malls or parking garages.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
4 new posts for you to lookat below, rad and comment, the comments keep me going
ELEPHANTS ATTACK IN ORISSA EXACTLY AFTER ONE YEAR OF PERSECUTIONS
[ Fr. Sunil De Silva - 09.12.2009 ]
In July 2008 a severe persecution of Christians broke out in the Indian state of Orissa. A 22 year old nun was burnt to death when angry mobs burnt down an orphanage in Khuntpali village in Barhgarh district, another nun was gang raped in Kandhamal, mobs attacked churches, torched vehicles, houses of Christians destroyed, and Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. The end result saw more than 500 Christians murdered, and thousands of others injured and homeless after their houses were reduced to ashes. Recently a strange and dramatic event took place in Orissa, which has many people talking and wondering.
In recent months, herds of wild elephants have begun to storm villages that are home to some of the worst persecutors of Christians during the troubles. In one village, where in August a year ago the Christians had to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by rioters, a herd of elephants emerged from the surrounding jungle exactly one year later, in July 2009, at the same time of the day of the attack.
These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement. They then went on to destroy his house and farms.
Hundreds of villagers have been forced to take shelter in camps in the Indian state of Orissa after repeated attacks by a herd of elephants.
Seven people have been killed and several others injured in attacks by a herd of 12-13 elephants over the past few weeks in Kandhamal district.
Over 2,500 people living in 45 villages have been affected by the attacks, district chief Krishen Kumar said.
It is, however, unclear why this herd of elephants migrated from the Lakheri sanctuary in a neighbouring district. He said the herd had travelled some 300km into Kandhamal, and even entered a town in the district. Wildlife officials were camping at the site of the attacks and trying to find out why the elephants had come out of their sanctuary. The villagers say elephants attack their areas in herds, causing heavy destruction.
Gaining momentum, they rampaged through other non-Christian homes, demolishing gardens and singling out the home of persecutors, leaving Christian homes untouched.
These strange attacks have spread, and according to a report, the elephants have already destroyed more than 700 houses in 30 villages, and killed five people. Nobody in this area has seen or even imagined the unique appearance of a herd of wild elephants such as this. The elephants are not ordinary elephants; they appear to be on a mission.
Typically, smaller elephants enter a village first, appearing to survey the community. They then rejoin the larger herd, and larger elephant soon follow and get the job done.
The ministry partner in India stated “We think that it might have something to do with the avenging the blood of martyrs. In fact the fear of God has fallen on the local people, who have labeled these elephants “Christian elephants.”
With little help coming from the administration, the villagers have taken to road blockades. "The elephants have destroyed crops and selected houses. But officials too express helplessness. "There is no permanent habitat of elephants in Sundargarh. They come from Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where their habitats have shrunk. But is not clear how and why these elephants reached Orissa.
This priest needs his ass kicked up over his non existent biretta.
Today's Mass was as close to a talk-show as I had ever experienced. The liturgy was processing fine until after the Gospel. Then Father Limelight asked for the children to come to the altar and gather near the nativity scene (the Three Wise Men were conspicuously absent...perhaps they knew what was going to happen and skedaddled outta there?). After repeating several times "Come on up, kids. All the children, come to the nativity scene!", only five
Then Fr Limelight returned to the pulpit and said "I'd like someone, anyone, to come up and say a few words about what Christmas hope means to them - speak a bit about how they celebrated Christmas, and I'm just going to sit down. Anyone? No one? Come on, children, take your father or mother by the hand and lead them here. Anyone? Just one person...anybody?" Finally, a man seated near the front rose and stepped up to the podium, while Father sat down. The guy gave a one-to-two minute description of how he celebrated Christmas with his family. When he went back to his seat, Father jumped back up and started a round of applause.
"Beautiful, beautiful," he said. "And now we need one of the ladies to come up. C'mon, I can't stand up here and speak for any of the women here. Any mom or grandma want to come up and talk about their Christmas dreams and wishes? Anybody? Any kid want to bring their mom up here? I can't go on with the Mass until one of you ladies comes up. Any of you? Anyone?"
After Father Limelight subjected us to a full minute of excruciating begging, an elderly woman stood up, came to the pulpit and gave her two minute spiel. Another round of applause led by Father.
Then he started his homily. By now Mass had become an occasion of sin for me as my anger was reaching the tipping point. My sons noticed - I have a habit of clenching my jaw and bouncing one leg when I'm suppressing anger - and Younger Son was pressing down on my leg to make it stop. He even whispered to me: "Dad - it's like he's a talk-show host!"
I had briefly considered standing up when Father first asked for volunteers to go up and make a fool of themselves - but I would have taken my opportunity to tell Father that it's his business to deliver the homily and not ours, and that we have the right to expect the Mass to be done according to the rubrics. But I didn't - he was embarrassing himself enough, at least in my mind he was, and adding to it would not have accomplished anything positive.
Fast forward to the end of Mass. Before the final blessing, Father went back to the pulpit.
"Well, Happy New Year to all of you - and hey, let's congratulate the kids to came up to the nativity scene." *clap clap* "Oh, and the music group did great today too. *clap clap clap* "And since this is Christmas time, I'm going to do what I do every year and sing you my favorite carol."
"Too bad I don't have my guitar with me, but I can probably manage at the piano."
So Father Limelight walks over to the music group, excuses the pianist and begins playing some obscure Christmas carol that has to with Mary and Joseph and Bethlehem and such, singing as he plays (his playing was fine, but the singing was less than to be desired) for about FIVE MINUTES and when he finishes, guess what? More stinkin' applause!! Heck, this wasn't a talk-show but a Variety Hour! Six times of applause during the Mass.
So he finishes, gives the final blessing, and then the recessional begins. As he walks down the main aisle, he stops and shakes hands with every person sitting at the end of the pew, on both sides.
Father Limelight is a visiting priest at the church where we attended Mass today - in fact, we go there quite often and the Mass is normally holy and intentionally accurate - but today's exhibition was beyond the pale. It's nearly gotten to the point where my options for Mass are drying up - for example, at my home parish, the pastor allowed the Pastoral Associate to give the homily during the early morning Mass last Sunday. When you no longer know what to expect at any given Mass, and attendance descends into an occasion of sin, it's time to make a change.
I just didn't think it was going to happen so early in 2010.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Bill is a great speaker, the site will let you watch for free just follow the instructions, his comments also go for the Catholic Church in America as well, I follow the stories on PJTV daily, this is the other side of the news
Mother of God
Charleston Cathedral all dressed up for the Solemnity of the Mother of God on Friday. It was really nice to be able to sit in the pew and worship quietly for once. The beauty of the liturgy and the high gothic style of the cathedral reminded me how important beauty is for worship. The anonymous architect of the ancient abbey of Glastonbury said, "I want to create a building so beautiful that even the hardest heart will be moved to prayer."
Pancake and circus tent churches just don't cut it. This is because they have been designed by followers of the 'form follows function' school of architecture. Even if this is a proper dictum for architects, it overlooks the fact that one of the functions of a Catholic church is to inspire and uplift the heart, and the only way to do that is through beauty. Why does the heart lift in a church with high ceilings, lofty stained glass and pointed arches? Because as they eye is lifted up the heart is lifted up. The eye, the mind and the heart ascend in an act of worship simply by entering a lofty building. The beauty and richness of marble and stone and glass take the worshiper into a new dimension--a less mundane dimension.
Of course the Mass is the Mass, and the Christ child who was born in a stable is still present in the humblest of settings. But that Christ child of Bethlehem is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We should try our hardest and make the sacrifices necessary to build a temple fit for the one before whom the kings of the East prostrated themselves.