Sunday, December 21, 2014


The architect for this project was Azar/Walsh (Kevin Walsh and Kamal Azar) both of whom are my parishioners at St. Joseph Church, Macon, Georgia!!!!!

On Saturday, I attended the dedication of a 1400 seat traditionally styled, cruciform, church in a suburb of Augusta, Georgia, Grovetown.  When I was growing up it consisted mostly of rural areas and a bunch of trailer parks. But no more! It is the fastest growing area in Georgia if not the USA. The US Army at Fort Gordon has a huge homeland security facility in conjunction with the Signal Corps and its division that fights cyber-warfare is moving to Augusta from Maryland in about two years. This is simply huge for Augusta. So Augusta will be on the front lines of cyber warfare and may well have helped discover that N. Korea is responsible for the Sony attack!

But I digress.

As a booming parish, St. Teresa's has a huge Hispanic ministry (mostly Mexicans) and a large Vietnamese Community in addition to the majority Anglo community. So the Liturgy of Dedication tried to reflect this diversity.

The first reading was in Vietnamese (the program had the English translation). The second reading was in Spanish.

The hymns and anthems were in the various languages. The parts of the Mass, Gloria, Sanctus, and the Mystery of Faith were in English. The Agnus Dei was in Latin. Thus the Agnus Dei was powerfully sung by all of us, no matter our native tongue! That highlighted for me the genius behind Latin in a multi-language parish!!!!!

And thus I opine. The problem with a parish with multiple choirs and choir directors is that there is rivalry even if there aren't different language groups. Why in the name of God and all that is holy does there need to be slots for the various choirs to sing at any Mass?  Why can't the the boss, the music director say, we are all coming together and we're singing in unity and this is the way it will be.

My recommendation and I wish it were the case for the entire diocese now is that at any multi-language Mass at the Cathedral or elsewhere, is that the Jubilatio Deo parts of the Mass be known by every Catholic, no matter their language, in the Diocese. And at these events, the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei would be chanted in Latin by everyone!

The Propers in Latin would be chanted by a schola or choir.

This would thus leave room enough for the differing languages to have hymns in their respective language at the procession (prior to the Introit), at the offertory and at communion. And of course there could be prelude to the Mass with this, that or the other choir singing their favorite ethnic hymn.

This seems like a no-brainer to me!

Friday, December 19, 2014


My childhood next door neighbors had an aluminum Christmas tree with a rotating light to sparkle it up at night. Oh, how beautiful! It speaks of Christmas to me. I wanted an aluminum tree especially with that rotating light so bad.

But my father would have none of that. It had to be a Frazier Fir from Nova Scotia. Anyway, he had noted in the newspaper where people had placed electric lights on these aluminum trees, against all the warnings on the package, and had either be electrocuted or their tree caught fire and burned down the house and killed the family.

But really, was he exaggerating? Did this really happen? He didn't even want us to get those Christmas lights that had water in them and would bubble when they reached a certain temperature. He knew for sure we'd all be electrocuted on those too!
My father prevented us from having an old fashioned Christmas in the 1960's. Now I can't even find an aluminum tree and color wheel not to mention bubbling lights! O, the Agony during this season of O antiphons!

But he didn't prevent Santa Claus, a baptized Catholic Chinese Pug (now in heaven), Christmas trees on a box and toy police cars. I should be grateful! And yes, that's our first television set bought from Sears around 1958! I remember the day it arrived like it was yesterday!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Well, the obvious answer is no.

And yes, if North Korea hacked Sony Pictures (the old Columbia) computer system, that is a crime, at least I think it is.

And while no one can use an immoral means toward a moral good, some good has come out of the computer hacking of emails by executives as Sony.

First of all, the emails expose these executives as secular hypocrites, the ones that Pope Francis would call Pharisees. But in this case they are the secular Pharisees.

Secondly, we all know that the media, to include news, entertainment and the internet have become the defacto moral teachers of a few generations of Americans and others around the world. But I lie, they have become the "amoral" teachers and have led so many into immorality.

Of course, there are some good things the media has done in terms of some societal moral issues, but overall, they are no moral voice. They manipulate the public for financial gain and degrade our morals.

But this brings us to the Interview. I know that Americans love to satirize and demonize dictators. Cartoons, such as the beloved Warner Brother's characters as well as movies did it to Adolph Hitler and Fidel Castro and others of note. I think they are fair game as is the dictator of Korea who is a despot.

However, when movies have plots, funny or not, fantasy or not, that include the assassination of real, living human beings,  they can inspire the weak minded or the criminally insane to do stupid things. Our society is more violent than ever and I can't help but think that violent entertainment to include violent computer games and such contributes to it.

Is it wise to have movies suggesting that living world leaders, good or bad, should be assassinated? It is one thing to do so for a despot in North Korea but there was also a movie in a similar fashion for President George W. Bush. Is that irresponsible?

I am shocked that Sony and movie theaters have caved to the pressure of North Korea and their terroristic threats and I think it sets a bad precedence.

But should those in the entertainment industry being the moral voice of the world?

In this case they are not, not with their movie and not with their decision not to show it, in effect allowing Communist censorship here in America and elsewhere.

The bottom line for them is the almighty dollar. That has been exposed. And if even one movie theater is attacked, they know that this will hurt their overall bottom line, the making of money because people will be afraid to go to the movies. 

But what should America's response be to North Korea which evidently is the source of all this and is making threats against a movie company here in America and demanding a movie not be shown to Americans and making terrorist threats if it is? Should America allow CENSORSHIP by a communist despot here in America?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014



The Catholic Difference (From the Denver Catholic Register)

Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. His column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.

Francis, filtered

December 16, 2014

About a year ago, I suggested to one of the top editors of a major American newspaper that his journal’s coverage of things papal left something to be desired, as it seemed based on the assumption that Pope Francis was some kind of radical wild-man, eager to toss into the garbage bin of history all those aspects of Catholic faith and practice that mainstream western culture finds distasteful. My friend replied, in so many words, look, you know how these media narratives are: they’re like bamboo. Once they get started, there’s no stopping them. They just keep growing.

Alas, he was right. And while there’s been a lot of talk about the “Francis Effect,” it’s worth pondering, on the Holy Father’s 78th birthday, the Francis Filtration.

The Francis Filtration began in earnest during the impromptu press conference in the papal plane while the pope was en route home from World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. That was the presser that produced the single-most quoted line of the pontificate: “Who am I to judge?” But as Cardinal Francis George pointed out in a pre-retirement interview with John Allen, that sound-bite “has been very misused…because he was talking about someone who has already asked for mercy and been given absolution…That’s entirely different than talking [about] someone who demands acceptance rather than asking for forgiveness.” (For the record, the entire quote, which is almost never cited, was “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?”)

But as my journalist-friend suggested, the “bamboo” shoot of “Who am I to judge?” has continued to grow, until it’s now a virtual bamboo curtain. And what’s being filtered out? All the things the pope says that don’t fit the now-established “narrative” of “humane, progressive pope vs. meanie reactionary bishops and hidebound Catholic traditionalists.”

Things like what?

Well, things like the pope’s passionate defense of marriage as the stable union of a man and a woman, which he underscored in an address to the Schoenstatt movement right after Synod 2014, and in his keynote address to a November interreligious conference at the Vatican on the crisis of marriage in the 21st century.

And things like the pope’s defense of the Gospel of Life, a persistent theme in Francis’s November address to the European Parliament. The press reports I read focused on Francis’ concerns for immigrants and the unemployed. Fair enough; that was certainly in the text. But what about the Holy Father’s defense of those whom indifference condemns to loneliness or death, “as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned or uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb?” What about his insistence that “Europe,” past, present, and future, makes no sense without Christianity? What about his condemnation of those who subject Christians “to barbaric acts of violence,” and his plea for support for those Christians who are “evicted from their homes, and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many?” You didn’t read much about that, did you?

Nor did you read (unless you read the pope’s text himself) that Francis, having made a plea for environmental stewardship, went on to “emphasize” (his word) that “along with an environmental ecology, there is also need of a human ecology which consists in respect for the person.”

Another aspect of Pope Francis’ preaching that’s been too often filtered out of the coverage of his pontificate involves (if you’ll pardon the term) demonology. No pope in decades has so regularly referred to Satan as Pope Francis. The Evil One is no abstraction to this pontiff, nor does he think of “satanic” as a rhetorical intensifier to underscore one’s disapproval of, say, Hitler. Satan and his minions are very real to Pope Francis; it would be interesting for an enterprising reporter to draw him out on the subject in one of those freewheeling papal press conferences.

The Francis Filter may be bamboo. But if it keeps growing, so will the distortions that bamboo curtain creates.


It is finally happening and after 10 years ago having been removed, the altar railing is being restored to St. Joseph Church. We are using some of the original railing but new marble has been fabricated as well. There will be two gates in the center (which aren't quite ready) and one gate in the middle of both of our side chapels. Apart from the gates, it should be completed by Sunday or early next week before Christmas. What a nice Christmas gift for the parish!


Recently I was speaking with a priest friend with whom I travel about going to Cuba one day. It appears Pope Francis has interceded for us in this regard! I have a couple of Cuban friends who won't like this, but I think it will be a win win opportunity for everyone and a door being pried open for more freedoms in Cuba!


I suspect that Catholics who blog and read blogs are in the minority when compared to the number of Catholics who attend Mass every Sunday and strive to practice their Faith in the marketplace.

For the most part, I think these practicing Catholics are not cynical about Catholicism and appreciate the graces they receive from being Catholic and energized by the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments.

Off and on I've begun to think about the time when I will stop blogging. Right now, as I don't have too many hobbies, actually none now, blogging is a hobby for me and somewhat therapeutic. I can't believe how many people actually look at it, read it and make comments.

However, I also know that reading comments and discussions on blogs is not like actual face-to-face discussions and communication. Thus comments and discussions can devolve into cynical snipes and negative stereotyping of the Church, her members, to include the clergy and the ways in which we worship.

I think it is healthy to be positive about the Church because the soul of the Church is the Holy Spirit and we don't want to blaspheme the Holy Spirit by carping at the Church.

Although I can certainly appreciate the calls for reform in the Liturgy of the Ordinary Form, I must say that I love the Ordinary Form, its flexibility in terms of style and music and how it does in fact nourish the Faith of the majority of Catholics who regularly attend Mass.  Would I like to be able to tweak this, that or the other? Yes I would and if nothing else, I would mandate the chanting of the  Propers (or saying them in a spoken Mass) and kneeling for Holy Communion. The latter would be the most significant reform of the reform or restoration bar none and would recover a sense of the sacred at the moment of Holy Communion that is not present for many people (not all of course) who stand to receive.

 I watch our school children receive Holy Communion in the hand and I know intuitively that they do not have the same sense of awe and reverence that I had at their age when I approached the altar railing and waited for the priest to offer me Holy Communion. My belief and reverence for Christ in the Sacrament stems from that formative period.

I also love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and wish more people in my parish would want to have it. I would love to have it each Sunday, but there simply isn't the number here who would want it each Sunday and to replace our OF 12:10 PM Sunday Mass with the EF Mass would see a church that is now more than 3/4 full for Mass dwindle to below 1/3 full if not less.

The hope for the future of the Liturgy resides in the Ordinary Form celebrated with Extraordinary Form reverence.

Overall, I am most positive about the Church, her history and I love her warts and all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The original updating of Nun's habits made sense and was sensible as seen in this picture showing an updated version of the Sisters of Mercy habit (Is the one wearing the updated habit Lucille Ball?):
But very quickly in the late 1960's and early 70's any identifiable habit was completely eliminated in favor of unbecoming street apparel sometimes nicer than what most lay women wore, but certainly not always! UGH!
The media seems to be pleased with the positive tone of the summary of the Apostolic Visitation of Women Religious. And it is positive.

You can read the National Chismatic Reporter's (NCR) take on it here. While I usually criticize this post-Catholic publication, I have to say that it's article is the best I have read thus far and shows where the Vatican criticizes those orders that have abandoned an outward sign in their dress (habit) and common community as well as orthodox Liturgy, prayer and theology:

From the NCR:

The report also acknowledges that many women's communities are developing programs for lay people in order to carry on their charisms in an age of fewer vocations.

"This Congregation praises these creative ways of sharing the charismatic gifts given by the Holy Spirit to the Church and asks that the essential difference between the vowed religious and the dedicated lay persons who maintain a special relationship with the institute be respected and celebrated," it states.

In the second area, the report again expresses gratitude to the women for their work in promoting new vocations to religious life but also obliquely criticizes U.S. women's communities who have chosen not to wear religious habits following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

"Vocation and formation personnel interviewed noted that candidates often desire the experience of living in formative communities and many wish to be externally recognizable as consecrated women," states the report.

"This is a particular challenge in institutes whose current lifestyle does not emphasize these aspects of religious life," it continues.

The report also makes similar oblique, but sharp, critiques of the women in other areas, especially regarding the prayer life of their communities.

In a section titled "Praying with the Church," the report states that a review of the constitutions and other decrees of the women's communities "generally revealed that institutes have written guidelines for the reception of the sacraments and sound spiritual practices."

But the report continues: "This Congregation asks the members of each institute to evaluate their actual practice of liturgical and common prayer. We ask them to discern what measures need to be taken to further foster the sisters’ intimate relationship with Christ and a healthy communal spirituality based on the Church’s sacramental life and sacred Scripture."

In the next section, "Called to a Life Centered on Christ," the report issues a warning.

"Caution is to be taken not to displace Christ from the center of creation and of our faith," it states. "This Dicastery calls upon all religious institutes to carefully review their spiritual practices and ministry to assure that these are in harmony with Catholic teaching about God, creation, the Incarnation and the Redemption."

The visitation is one of two investigations of U.S. women religious launched by different Vatican offices in recent years. The other investigation is a doctrinal assessment of an umbrella group of U.S. sisters known as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and is being led by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Tuesday's report does not concern the investigation of the LCWR.



Pope Francis' Tuesday homily is a good homily for a penance service. I might use one or two examples he uses:

(Vatican Radio) God saves "a repentant heart," while he who does not trust in Him draws "condemnation" upon himself. This message was at the heart of Pope Francis’s homily during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni
Humility saves man in God’s eyes, while pride is a loser. The key lies in the heart. The heart of a humble person is open, it knows repentance, it accepts correction and trusts in God. The heart of the proud person is the exact opposite: it is arrogant, closed, knows no shame, it is impervious to God's voice. The reading from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah and from the Gospel of the day guide Pope Francis in a parallel reflection. Both texts, he notes, speak of a "judgment" upon which salvation and condemnation depend.


The situation described by the prophet Zephaniah is that of a rebellious city in which, however, there is a group of people who repent of their sins: this group, the Pope said, is the "people of God" possesses the "three characteristics" of "humility, poverty, and trust in the Lord." But in the city there are also those, Francis says, who "do not accept correction, they do not trust in the Lord." They will be condemned:

"These people cannot receive Salvation. They are closed to Salvation. ‘I will leave within you
the meek and humble; they will trust in the name of the Lord’ throughout their lives. And that is still valid today, isn’t it? When we look at the holy people of God that is humble, that has its riches in its faith in the Lord, in its trust in the Lord - the humble, poor people that trust in the Lord: these are the ones who are saved and this is the way of the Church, isn’t it? This is the path I must follow, not the path in which I do not listen to His voice, do not accept correction and do not trust in the Lord. "


The scene of the Gospel tells of the contrast between two sons invited by their father to work in the vineyard. The first refuses, but then repents and goes to work in the vineyard; the second says yes to the father but actually deceives him. Jesus tells this story to the chief priests and the elders of the people stating clearly that it is they who have not wanted to listen to the voice of God through John and that is why the Kingdom of Heaven will be entered, not by them but by tax collectors and prostitutes who did believe John. And the scandal provoked by this statement, Pope Francis said, is identical to that of many Christians who feel "pure" just because they go to Mass and receive communion. But God, he says, needs much more:

"If your heart is not a repentant heart, if you do not listen to the Lord, if you don’t accept correction and you do not trust in Him, your heart is unrepentant. These hypocrites who were scandalized by what Jesus said about the tax collectors and the prostitutes, but then secretly approached them to vent their passion or to do business - but all in secrecy - were pure! The Lord does not want them. "


This judgment "gives us hope" - Pope Francis assured the faithful - provided, he concludes, that we have the courage to open our hearts to God without reserve, giving Him even the "list" of our sins. And in explanation of these words the Pope recalled the story of the Saint who thought he had given everything to the Lord, with extreme generosity:

"He listened to the Lord, he always followed His will, he gave to the Lord, and the Lord said to him: 'there is still one thing you have not given me’. And the poor man who was good said: 'But, Lord, what is it that I have not given you? I have given you my life, I work for the poor, I work for catechesis, I work here, I work there ... ‘ 'But there is something you have not  given me yet' .- 'What is it Lord? 'Your sins'. When we will be able to say to the Lord: 'Lord, these are my sins – they are not his or hers, they are mine… They are mine. Take them and I will be saved'- when we will be able to do this we will be that people, ‘that meek and humble people', that trusts in the Lord's name. May the Lord grant us this grace. "


I am an army brat as my father was a career army man. In the late 1950's and all the way until my father retired from the army in 1965, army personnel and their dependents, were dispensed from the Friday "no meat" law of the Church.

In fact, when I was in the second grade and brought my bag lunch to school on a Friday, I found a hamburger sandwich in the bag which I proceeded to eat publicly in the school cafeteria. I was promptly reporter to Sr. Angela by a so-called friend of mine sitting next to me that I was eating a hamburger sandwich on Friday and to save my soul from going to hell, I was mercifully reported.

Of course I told Sister that I had a dispensation. She thought I was being smart! I was of course. But Sister did not know the privileges of being an army brat and dependent. So the principal called my father to find out why I was giving such poor example to the other second graders at the school. He assure her that military dependents had the dispensation and that no one in the army was going to hell for eating meat on Friday.

She suggested to prevent scandal in the future that I not be given a meat lunch on Friday!

These sorts of laws carried to an extreme do no one any good and distract us from the law of love.

If a hotdog on Friday can send us to hell, why not then do something that really deserves it.

I'm not opposed to ascetical practicing such as fasting and abstinence. I think these are great and should be presented as leading to a great good. We should follow the Eastern Church's philosophy on it which is not to turn it into a sin if one fails to do so and a cause for eternal damnation.

But on Friday, if I know that I'm eating with friends who might not fix fish, then I should be able to substitute some other kind of ascetical penance or forgo it altogether and not worry about the eternal damnation of my soul. It shouldn't be classified a mortal sin!

But with that said, legalism of the 1950's and 60's in the Church has been overcome. We have more serious issues to mend and legalism isn't one of them. 

Monday, December 15, 2014


This homily by Pope Francis I heard time and time again, in one form or another in the 1970's seminary. I embraced much of this ideology in my first assignment in the 1980's. What strikes me about this is that the pope is doing the very thing he condemns in his judgement about legalists in the Catholic Church. What the Holy Father says toward the end of his homily on Monday morning could easily be applied to the diatribe he has just given that is full of judgmental comments: "Never to condemn, never to condemn. If you have wanted to condemn, you condemn yourself..."

Pope Francis: Rigidity is a sign of a weak heart

(Vatican Radio) The day’s Gospel reading, which relates how the chief priests asked Jesus by what authority He did His works, was the focus of the Pope’s homily on Monday. It is a demand, the Pope explained, that demonstrates the “hypocritical heart” of those people – people who were not interested in the truth, who sought only their own interests, and went where the wind blew: you should go this way, you should go that way…” They were weathervanes, all of them! All of them! Without consistency. A heart without consistency. And so they negotiated everything: they negotiated interior freedom, they negotiated the faith, they negotiated their county, everything except appearances.” To such people, getting the best out of every situation was the important thing. They were opportunists: “They profited from the situations.”

“And yet,” the Pope continued, “some of you might ask me: ‘But Father, these people were observers of the law: on Saturday they didn’t travel more than a hundred metres – or however many they were able to go – they never, never sat down to eat without washing their hands and making their ablutions; they were a very observant people, very secure in their habits.’ Yes, it’s true – but only in appearance. They were strong, but on the outside. They were in a cast. The heart was very week, they didn’t know what they believed. And because of this their life, the outer part of their life, was completely regulated, but the heart was otherwise: a weak heart, and a skin that was plastered over, strong, harsh. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us that the Christian should have a strong heart, a firm heart, a heart built on the rock, that is Christ; and then, in the way it goes out, it goes out with prudence: ‘In this case, I do this, but…’ It is the way of going out, but the heart is not negotiable, the rock is not negotiable. The rock is Christ, it is not negotiable”:

“This is the drama of the hypocrisy of this people. And Jesus never negotiates His heart of the Son of the Father, but He was so open to the people, seeking paths to help them. ‘But this can’t be done; our discipline, our doctrine say this can’t be done!’ they say. ‘Why do your disciples eat grain in the fields, when they travel, on the day of the Sabbath? It can’t be done!’ They were so rigid in their discipline: ‘No, the discipline can’t be touched, it’s sacred.’”

Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast”:

“But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’ So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart.”

“This is the drama of these people,” and Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism:

“Even our life can become like that, even our life. And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: ‘But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Saviour. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”

“But the simple people,” the Pope said, “do not err,” despite the words of these doctors of the law, “because the people know, they have a certain ‘flair’ for the faith.”

The Pope concluded his homily with this prayer: “I ask the Lord for the grace that our hearts might be simple, luminous with the truth that He gives us, and thus we might be able to be lovable, forgiving, understanding of others, [to have] a large heart with the people, to be merciful. Never to condemn, never to condemn. If you have wanted to condemn, you condemn yourself, who has some reason, eh?” He continued, “Let us ask the Lord for the grace that He might give us this interior light, that convinces us that the rock is Him alone, and not so many stories we make as if they were important things; and that He might tell us – that He might tell us! – the path, that He might accompany us on the path, that He might enlarge our hearts, so that they can enter into the problems of so many people, and that He might give us the grace that these people did not have: the grace to feel that we are sinners.”