Sunday, May 30, 2010

AN IMPROVISATION ON "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY" ON THIS SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

I wish I could be so talented! This talent is in this young man's mind, bone, marrow, blood, being. It comes from God, the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

AMPUTATION CAN LEAD TO HEALING! DOESN'T SOUND GOOD BUT IN THIS CASE IT IS GOOD!



There was Adoration and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament for Reparation at the Altar of the Chair (behind the Papal Altar) at St. Peter's this morning. John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter writes a very good story about it. It is worth reading:

AMPUTATION CAN LEAD TO HEALING!

HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY THE MOST HOLY TRINITY FROM 2006






Mercifully, our deacons are preaching this weekend, so I did not have to come up with a homily for this Sunday's solemnity. However, I post one that I gave in 2006 for this Solemnity. The reading were for cycle "B".

Introduction: The Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna has written, and I quote: “Something very strange has happened in recent years: Christians have lost touch with heaven. Of the desire for heaven, our heavenly home, we hear hardly a word. It is as if Christians have lost the orientation that for centuries defined the direction of our journey. We have forgotten that we are pilgrims and that the goal of our pilgrimage is heaven. Connected with this is another loss: we largely lack the awareness that we are on a dangerous pilgrim path and it is possible for us to miss our goal. To put it bluntly, we do not long for heaven; we take it for granted that we will get there. This diagnosis may be exaggerated, but I am afraid it is essentially true.

Topic Statement: Those baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit should never take for granted the love of God that makes heaven possible.

1. Our God, the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is pure love and integrity.

A. In my first year of seminary, I had a field placement in a Catholic home for abused and neglected children. In the orientation that I received by in the 1970’s prior to ministering to these children, the director of this home told us that in teaching about God, we should avoid using the term “Father” for the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. It was suggested that we use terms like Creator, or Source of all being or something else that was more neutral and non-relational than the word “Father.” The reason was that many of these children had had terrible experiences with their own fathers. They had been physically and sexually abused. Some years later, I thought that we had really done a disservice to these children since God as Father could have redeemed these children’s awful experience with parenthood. The fatherhood of God when properly understood and explained redeems any negative experience we may have had with our earthly parents and or their treatment of us.

B. Jesus certainly changed the nature and understanding of our relationship with God when he told us, “Address God as “Abba,” that is, “Daddy.” There was and is a huge difference between “Lord” and “Father.” “Abba” possesses an intimacy that had not previously been expressed between God and His people. In the Church and through our personal prayer, God relationship to us is so loving and intimate that we can refer to Him as “Daddy,” Heaven is the fulfillment of this loving relationship.

2. God the Most Holy Trinity loves us so much that in the fullness of time He sent us Jesus, the second person of the Blessed Trinity to save us and open for us the gates of heaven.

A. During the time of the reformation and still to this day, there are debates about how we are saved or get into heaven. The Protestant reformers were saying that faith alone saves us. Others were saying that good works can save us and still others were saying that faith and good works together are what saves us. In fact all of these statements miss the mark. It is God who saves us through His Son’s life, death and resurrection and by the power of the Holy Spirit. God does not need our consent to save us. That is why the Church has always baptized those who are incapable of responding to God, like infants, the mentally handicapped, and the comatose patient. Our ability to have faith, our ability to do good works come from God's grace and is a sign of God’s love and salvation at work in our lives.

B. How many of you have read the book or see the movie “The DaVinci Code?” The premise of the book is that the Catholic Church for 2000 years has kept secret the true identity of Jesus—that he was not divine, but a mere mortal man. It tells of Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene and that Jesus has ancestors to this day from the children he fathered way back then. If Jesus is not divine—why should there be any interest in Him whatsoever? If Jesus is not divine—I dismiss you right now, “This “mess” is over, don’t come back!” But because Jesus is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, because He is one Divine Being with two nature, divine and human, we worship Him, we follow Him, and we strive to imitate Him. Because Jesus is Divine and brings us into an intimate relationship with the Most Holy Trinity through our baptism, we all become brothers and sisters of Christ—we are related to him and when we receive Holy Communion, His blood line courses through our veins. We should stand in awe and wonder of Jesus Christ and yes a bit offended by the blasphemy of the Da Vinci Code and its character assassination of the Catholic Church, our Mother who makes it possible for us to call God Daddy.

Conclusion: Because true and unconditional love can never live in isolation, God created us to be His sons and daughters in Christ Jesus. God loves what He has created and is a part of all of human history as well as our own personal histories. In this Most Holy Eucharist, may we be inspired to see heaven as our true home where all the brothers and sisters of Christ will live forever in the loving presence of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I WOULD HAVE EXPECTED MORE FROM A GREAT CATHEDRAL



Well, what can you say?

The planter obscures the altar and it needs to go!



This may shock you, but there is some modern church architecture that I do like or at least I'm drawn to. I don't like how the new Cathedral in Los Angeles looks from the outside, but the inside fascinates me. I would like to see it in person. There is an artistic flair and fine quality materials. The ambo is hideous though, but the altar is beautiful and if decorated for an EF Mass has great potential. I like the bishop's throne also. The tapestries that adorn the walls are magnificent. I love the spaciousness of the building and the sanctuary.

With that said, I was quite shocked by the music selected for the recent Mass welcoming the Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez. It was not much better that what is experienced in most parishes today. It was blah! Most of the blah, banal, music was chosen because it is of the "happy, peppy, people" type, to paraphrase Lucy.

Prior to the procession there was the "obligatory" rehearsal of the blah music. The cantors harassed and ridiculed the congregation during the rehearsal. I think the congregation knew that some of the music was blah and didn't have the desire to participate. I must say that if I felt coerced into singing by cantors harassing me from the front of the sanctuary prior to what is suppose to be prayer and worship, I would boycott singing too! It is so unnecessary! Get them out of my face! I don't need a conductor for Mass!

The procession of clergy was magnificent, but the accompanying music incongruous with what was happening and out of place. I think there were four hymns to cover the length of the procession from differing cultures, but music more for a concert outside of Mass than for the Sacred Liturgy, it was music at Mass, not the Mass being sung. The Litany of the Saints is the modern one often used today--I personally despise it. The saints were demoted throughout by simply using their first name without the canonization right, "saint" preceding their name. I guess you could say they were decanonized.

I can't comment on the music sung in Spanish but some of it comes across to me as trite. The selections for the parts of the Mass for the most part payed homage to Spanish and English combined but were blah. Psalm 23 was Marty Haugan's "Shepherd Me O Lord" paraphrase, not my favorite. It is very saccharine and drippy.

It seems to me in a multi-cultural assembly for Mass that turning the Mass into an eclectic array of languages to satisfy everyone who attends or not offend them turns the Mass into a cacophony of babel much like the Old Testament choice from Genesis from the Vigil of Pentecost. Why not sing the Latin parts of the Mass throughout and make sure that the choice is one that the entire world should know? Sing the proper Introit, Offertory Antiphon and Communion Antiphon and then pick good metrical hymns in whatever language as fillers where needed.

I would have expected better from the Los Angeles Cathedral because I know they have the resources to do better in terms of Sacred Music. The average Sunday Mass at St. Joseph in terms of music is much better!

See for yourself and make your own judgments:

The streaming video of the rehearsal and Mass (long):
Los Angeles Mass of Welcome of Archbishop Gomez

THE WORSHIP AID OR PROGRAM FOR THE MASS OF RECEPTION WITH MUSIC CHOICES!

SHAWN TRIBE FROM THE NEW LITURGICAL MOVEMENT BLOG HAS SOUND ADVICE FOR LOS ANGELES AND ALL OF AMERICA! PRESS TO SEE AND READ!

Friday, May 28, 2010

WHAT COULD BE IF EVERYONE GOT ON THE SAME PAGE OR MAYBE THE SAME BLOG!?

The older I get the more convinced I become that the beauty of our churches and the corresponding beauty, accessibility and transcendence of our Liturgy, the more our Catholic faith will be strengthened and we will overcome the many cultural obstacles that are being placed before us from outside and from within the Church. In fact what Pope Benedict said recently on his trip to Fatima, that the problem in the Church today comes from within can be applied not just to the mismanagement of errant clergy who sexually abused children, but from the gross mismanagement and misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council in all of its documents and specifically in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the document on the Liturgy. As well, there was mismanagement from within as it concerns the implementation of the post-conciliar documents of the Liturgy and what happened to music and architecture of the Church. But we can and will recover and the reform of the reform is on the cutting edge of this recovery!

The photos below are of The Archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who celebrated the Ordinary Form of the Mass at the famous London Oratory Church for this occasion.

Keep in mind this is an Ordinary Form Mass in the splendor of an Extraordinary Form Church. Was there really any need with the reform of the EF Mass to reconfigure our traditional churches in the most hideous way and then celebrate the reformed Mass in the most hideous way, thus obscuring the splendor of Christ and who we are as Christ's Holy Body? I think not. Can you imagine the money that could have been saved, the time and energy that might not have been wasted and all the controversy and parish schisms that could have been avoided if we had just left our Church interior architecture alone and designed new Church in the noble way in which our heritage handed liturgical architecture to us?

I think that the OF Mass celebrated in a church like this, at an altar like this and in a solemn and dignified way like this would have brought about the "new springtime" for the Church that so many had desired after Vatican II, but something went radically wrong and we are paying the price today.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

SISTER CLARE MEYER, A CATHOLIC WHO WAS AN EPISCOPAL NUN!

Sister Clare at 100!

As I celebrated the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury this morning I remembered in a special way Sister Clare Meyer who died in December of 2008 at the age of 101, her mind still very vibrant.

It was on this date in 2003 that I received Sister Clare into the full Communion of the Catholic Church. All her life, she had been a dedicated Episcopalian and had joined an order of nuns of the Episcopal Church in 1953 and belonged to the Episcopal Convent of St. Helena since 1962.

Her convent was in the neighborhood in which I grew up in South Augusta. As a 9 year old in 1962, my friends and I would trespass on their property and go into an old barn they had. We'd have a great old time! The sisters, we called them Protestant Sisters, would come out after us and tell us to leave and that they would call the police if we came back.

In 1991, I became pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown Augusta. The first Saturday night Mass I had I noticed this Episcopal nun there, Sister Clare. I thought to myself, she knows I'm the one who trespassed on her property and now she's going to get even with me!

But in fact, she had been attending Most Holy Trinity for a few years. She did not agree with women priests in the Episcopal Church and her convent had a few sisters who were priests and they would celebrate the Episcopal Eucharist and she simply couldn't not attend in good conscience.

Of course she could not receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, but dutifully she came each Saturday and sometimes during the week. Around 1998 I asked her what she believed about Holy Communion and found out from her that she was more Catholic in the faith than most of our life-long Catholics. So I asked Bishop Boland for permission for her to receive Holy Communion at Most Holy Trinity given her peculiar situation and he granted the request. So from 1998 until 2003 she received Holy Communion by way of a special indult from Bishop Boland.

Then she asked to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and she was on May 27, 2003. I worried about how the Episcopal Sisters would treat her and if they would kick her out of the convent. But they accepted her and cared for her until her last breath in 2008 at the age of 101.

All the sisters of this Episcopal Convent attended her funeral Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and I was invited to preside.

The following is a short story on Sister Clare from the Augusta Chronicle as she turned 100 years old:
ONE HUNDRED YEAR OLD NUN

TWO FORMS OF THE MASS AND TWO FORMS OF SPIRITUALITY

Vertical:

Vertical:

Horizontal:

Horizontal:

Yesterday, Roger Cardinal Mahony began to pass the leadership of his archdiocese to his successor, Archbishop Jose`Gomez. Cardinal Mahony said the following in his homily: “As I near the end of my time of tending this corner of the Vineyard, the shepherd’s staff is being passed to Archbishop Gomez,” said Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. “Mahony goes; Gomez comes. Christ alone endures. The Church’s foundation and its future is not in either one of us. Our foundation and our future are in Christ alone.”

Although the cult of the personality has always been around in the Church and in politics, I believe that it is more magnified today than ever in the post-Vatican II Church and her liturgy. This would include not only the much discussed "cult of the personality" of the priest who presides at Mass, facing the congregation as though an actor on a stage, but also the "cult of the personality" of the congregation. Many Catholics today choose a parish based upon the friendliness and hospitality of its members, the types of programs offered for young and old, the sense of community and belonging as well as whatever outreach programs there are. They also look for a particular theological vision, progressive, traditional, contemporary or extemporaneous.

It seems to me with our incarnational theology, the "Body of Christ" meaning all of us who are baptized, confirmed and receiving Holy Communion and celebrating the other sacraments, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders, are a part of but not distinct from our Head, Jesus Christ, true God and true man. In Him alone is there the perfection of the intersection of the Divine and human, both in His Divine Person and in His Body, the Church , which is also Divine in origin and human in expression.

In Canon Law, a parish is a geographical jurisdiction which a pastor heads. In the everyday life of Catholics, the hope is that we act as Catholics toward one another, are hospitable to our neighbors, show concern for the poor who live with us and beyond and work in politics to bring to bear our Catholic teachings and identity.

The small amount of time we spend at "Church" on Sunday and during the week is meant to reinforce our community life outside of the Church's physical property. Therefore, a more vertical relationship with God should be reinforced at Mass rather than the horizontal relationship we should be having with each other everyday within our "parish boundaries."

The vertical expression of our relationship to God during Mass is precisely a focus of attention upon God present in the Most Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle before Mass and after which means praying to God silently and not visiting with one another--do that during the time you are not in the Church, the horizontal, which is important but in the right location and time.

The same is true for listening to the Scriptures, responding in song and prayer appropriate to your state in the Liturgy, and receiving Holy Communion. The "Ite Missa Est" is all about going out to the world in a "horizontal" way to love and serve the Lord after having experienced Him in the most "vertical" way possible during Holy Mass.

I don't beleive the intention of the reform of the Mass was to do away with the vertical experience with have with God at Mass and substitute a more horizontal expression of the Mass with one another. The horizontal means emphasizing hospitality, community on Sunday morning in the Church building, holding hands during prayer, extended sign of peace, talking and clapping when moved to do so. This occurred not from the post-Vatican II liturgical documents, but at the behest of liturgists who often had their own vision and agenda as it regarded what they preceived to be the "spirit" of Vatican II.

So, why do you join or leave your Catholic parish? Because of the priest, the congregation or some other factor?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

COULD YOU IMAGINE IF WE BUILT A CHURCH FOR $90 MILLION AND DESTROYED IT WITH ANOTHER $5 MILLION?

Over $90 Million for Los Angeles' new Cathedral!

Over $100 Million for Oakland's new Cathedral!

Similar looking to the Cathedrals above, but a different denomination, the Nuclear non-denominational, built for $90 in 1992, never used, blown up for a whopping $5 million yesterday. $5 million is mega bucks in this neck of the woods and could build some pretty magnificent churches in the south!

In Aiken County,South Carolina,about 20 miles outside of Augusta, Georgia where I grew up, there is what we call the "bomb plant." From the 1950's until the end of the Cold War in the early 1990's it produced nuclear warheads. In fact during the Cuban Missal Crisis, we bragged that our region would be the first to be hit by the Russians! Over the years there have been many accidental releases of radioactive waste into our air and water and thus into our food supply. Augustans glow in the dark.

But please read the article from this morning's Augusta Chronicle. In the early 1990's a cooling tower for a nuclear reactor to produce tritium for warheads was build for over $90 million! It never went into use and yesterday it was imploded (or nuked, whichever you prefer) for about $5 million!

Could you imagine if the new Cathedral in Los Angeles which cost about the same or the new one in Oakland, CA which cost a bit more were imploded after being built?

It is amazing to me how people complain about what the Church spends on building churches and schools but no one seems to protest this kind of waste in Government spending. Click on the link and view video implosion:
Atomic Bomb Cooling Plant Nuked!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

THOSE WHO CHOOSE GODLESS SECULARISM AS THEIR RELIGION ARE GETTING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY. I WONDER WHY





For more and more people in the world today, godless secularism is the religion of choice even for those who would still claim to be Catholic or of a Protestant denomination. Many seem to want to have the veneer of being Christian, but don't want to be transformed by what Christ teaches let alone the love of Christ they have received.

Please read the article from Belief Blog:
How church shopping is polarizing the country

MODERN ALTARS OR TELEVSION STATIONS' NEWS DESKS? INTERCHANGABLE AND ADAPTABLE!

These can be used either as a news desk or an altar, they're so similar and interchangeable.






These altars can only be used for the Mass, no point to say the news from these!


Do you think it is good stewardship to be able to celebrate Mass and televise the news from the same location? Your thoughts.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

DO WE NEED A STRICT DRESS CODE AT MASS?


The picture above is from this morning's Macon Telegraph concerning public school graduations. This is the caption under the photo:
Campus police officer Warren Bruce stops McKenzie Brown from entering the Macon Coliseum on Friday evening for the Rutland High School graduation ceremonies. Bruce said his attire — shorts, sweatshirt with writing on it and sandals — were all against the rules clearly stated on the sign he just passed. Brown was with Tonya Pipkin, the mother of the friend he was hoping to see get a diploma. Pipkin, left, was disappointed. “Another young man had shorts, so his mother wrapped a blanket around him and they let him in,” she said. “This is ridiculous.


Last night I attended Mt. De Sales graduation. It was beautifully done. While many who attended did so in formal dress, suit, tie, etc, many others were quite casually dressed. Why have we lost a sense of decorum for public events that in the past everyone knew what was expected? For example I am quite shocked at the manner in which people dress now for funerals. The attire of the young man in the photo above captures it too.

In fact, the attire of the young man in the photo above is formal dress compared to what I have seen in Catholic Churches, including Macon. Dare you say anything, you'll get the comment posted on the Macon Telegraph's story, "ridiculous!" What to do; oh, what to do?"

PENTECOST SUNDAY, VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS!

Enjoy these two musical treats for the Solemnity of Pentecost, one more spiritual, one more performance oriented, one in a house of worship, the other in a secular opera house; both are stunning:


This Sunday's bulletin letter from St. Joseph Church in Macon with some minor embellishments:

Unfortunately,the modern Roman Calendar calls the days after Pentecost Sunday, Ordinary Time. But there is nothing ordinary about the time after Pentecost. It is extraordinary time! Ever since Pentecost Sunday, the Church has been living in that time after Pentecost but before our Lord's Second Coming.

These last two thousand years have been exciting and whatever time after Pentecost the Church has before the Lord returns will be equally as exciting. Civilizations have come and gone, but the Church has remained these last two thousand years. By the power of the Holy Spirit which descended upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, the living symbol of the Church, and the Apostles, the Church received her Lord through the outpouring of His Holy Spirit. Nothing and no one, not from within the Church or from out side of the Church, will destroy the Lord’s Church, Saint Peter and the other successors to the Apostles or the priesthood, or the laity. The Church which lives in the power of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will outlast anti-Catholic bigotry, godless secularism and blatant immorality of her members just as she has outlasted pagan emperors hell bent on persecuting the Church, communist regimes, Nazi and fascist fanaticism, dictators and the dictatorship of relativism. The Church will survive lawyers out to get us, priests who have gone berserk and bishops who have mismanaged. The apostles survived Judas after all.

Do you really think that any "one" perverted priest, clueless bishop, reporter for the New York Times or secular indifference could bring down the Divine Institution that is the Church? That would imply that human beings are more powerful that the Divine Persons of the Most Holy Trinity who imbued the Church with Their Spirit. How silly can you get than to believe that humans have more power over the Church than Almighty God!

These are exciting times. I predict, much to the secular world’s absolute horror and disbelief, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will see a new springtime for the Church in the future. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life will blossom. Catholic parishes will grow stronger. Appreciation,reverence and love for our Lord and His Sacrifice celebrated in Mass will be strengthened. Catholics will be proud to be Catholic, proud of their bishops, priests, religious men and women.

The world may hate us, but God loves us! The world doesn’t believe in the
Resurrection of our Lord or the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Too bad for
them! They miss out on so much that is and is to come. The world thinks that the Church is like Enron or the Financial Corporations of Wall Street, gone out of business because of scandal and mismanagement. The secular press and the enemies of the Church both inside of the Church and outside, just don't get it. They don't know of the power of the Holy Spirit unleashed that Pentecost Sunday 2000 years ago. But one day they will get it and that Day of the Lord gets closer everyday. Come Lord Jesus, Come Holy Spirit! God bless you and happy Pentecost in these days of the Church after Pentecost, the "Days of our Lives" in the Holy Spirit.

TWO ARTICLES OF INTEREST ON THE NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE HOLY MASS



Reading some of the more "progressive" liturgical blogs, whose names I won't mention to protect the guilty, you would think that the new translation of the English Mass is the worse thing to happen to the Catholic Church since the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Of course, right thinking Catholics, what is called "orthodox" know that the election of Pope Benedict and the new English translation of the Mass are the best things that have happened to the Catholic Church in quite a few decades. At any rate, those who are weeping crocodile tears, need Kleenex to dry their blood shot eyes. The Mass, the new Mass, more dignified and "un-dumbed down" is coming and will be here by Advent 2011. I'm praying that bishops will give parishes that are ready for it, like St. Joseph in Macon, Georgia, permission to implement parts of it more quickly--why not? The two articles below are very good, read and enjoy.

The first is from an Australian newspaper entitled, A TRIUMPH OF TRADITION

The second article is from Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence Rhode Island writting in his diocesan newspaper, Rhode Island Catholic, an article entitled, WITHOUT A DOUBT, GET READY, THE MASS IS ABOUT TO CHANGE!

Friday, May 21, 2010

PENTECOSTAL GLORY AT OUR RECENT CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIMRATION

I got confirmed when I was in the 4th grade in 1963. We wore red graduation type gowns. It was not a Mass, but Benediction. What I recall is being socked in the face and having the Chrism wiped off my head before returning to the pew. We knelt before the bishop to be confirmed. After that sock in the face, I've never been the same.