Sunday, July 29, 2012

DOWN MEMORY LANE, NOSTALGIA, LA BEFANA AND GRIEF




I celebrated the 10:30 AM Sung Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity this Sunday morning. I was the pastor there from June 3, 1991 until June 30, 2004. I had not celebrated a Sunday Mass there since I departed on June 30th, 2004. It was wonderful and it was great seeing so many people I haven't seen in a long time and to see all the new faces there too.

Most Holy Trinity has always had a long tradition of fine choirs and liturgies. They did not disappoint this morning and we sung it all, from metrical hymns to the official Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons. The choir director and organist at the historic Jardine Pipe Organ is Dr. Nancy Sutton. The Jardine goes back 1863 but Jardine and Company didn't want to break the north's blockade of the south and so it languished on a dock in New York, until in 1866, Most Holy Trinity's associate Pastor, the priest-poet of the south (Confederacy) Father Abram Ryan, gave poetry readings and raised the money to bring it to Augusta. It was historically and completely restored with pump action (and also electricity) in 1995.

Most Holy Trinity is the perfect place for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which has only been celebrated once since SP there. Pray that they are allowed it more frequently as there is a huge group in the metro Augusta area that would appreciate it.

Sadly though, one of my very good friends and former parishioner at Most Holy Trinity, Mrs. Cheti Warner died on Friday of from a brief illness. This is her obituary:

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. - Entered into rest Friday, July 27, 2012, Mrs. Cheti Paola Warner, 66, wife of the late Clifford E. Warner. Mrs. Warner was a native of Vicenza, Italy, but has lived in the Augusta area since 1965. She retired as a hairdresser after 50 years of making people feel beautiful. Mrs. Warner was a member of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and was active in PCCW and worked as the hospitality coordinator for the church. Family members include son: Clifford E. Warner II (Michelle); daughter: Angela Randall; and granddaughters: Baliegh Alexis Warner, Elizabeth Cheti Warner, and the late Gabrielle Elizabeth Warner. A memorial mass will be held Monday, July 30, 2012 at 12:15 P.M. at Church of the Most Holy Trinity with Fr. Allan McDonald celebrant.

Shortly after I arrived at Most Holy Trinity in 1991 she became a very active member and as indicated in the obituary she was active with the Council of Catholic Women, but her greatest gift and ministry was cooking and organizing our fabulous parish receptions for all kinds of events, including the many "First Solemn Mass" receptions for parishioners who were ordained priests for our diocese and religious orders.

She was a native Italian and would also cook our special meals for big events at the rectory and always in the Italian Vincenza style and all the courses. It was fabulous, absolutely fabulous and will always be a highlight of my ministry there.

She also cut my hair for the past 20 years. I'm always in Augusta every Monday for my day off and to visit my aging mother. So Cheti would always cut my hair at her salon. I just kidded her about two months ago saying that I had aged in the mirror I sat in front of as she cut my hair for the past 20 years. How is it that the mirror stayed the same and I changed so much (not really). God rest her soul!

My mother tried to keep the Italian custom at Epiphany of La Befana who brings toys to children on it's eve. My father did not like the custom and did not allow it once we moved from Italy to Atlanta in 1957.

"Italy's traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.

Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana."


Well leave it to Cheti to give me La Befana's presents each Epiphany for the past 20 years. She never gave me a lump of coal!

I will miss her smile, hospitality and Italian love.

7 comments:

John Nolan said...

"Pray that they are allowed it[the EF] more frequently". According to SP and UE, they cannot be denied it, and if the parish priest is unable or unwilling to celebrate it, either he or the Ordinary is obliged to find someone who can.

Unknown said...

I too will miss Cheti. Her infectious smile, incredible hospitality and amazing cooking reminds me of those great meals in the MHT rectory "back in the day". May God bless her and may she rest joyfully in Christ's light.

rcg said...

My condolences to you, Father, and to her many friends.

Marc said...

John, as you know, what the Holy Father wishes and what is actually happening in any given diocese are very different things.

While there are some movements afoot to have the TLM offered for the people of Augusta, Georgia, the Bishop of Savannah does not seem to see this as a priority.

I actually wrote to him expressing my solidarity with those seeking an FSSP parish (or some other accomodation in that area). He wrote back to me informing me of two things: (1) In order to have the TLM, we would need many things we do not have such as a trained schola; and (2) There is a TLM already at St. Joseph (Fr. McDonald's parish where I am a parishioner, as I infored His Excellency in my letter to him).

What his response told me is that (1) His Excellency did not write this response, someone in the Chancery did, and (2) People will think of any excuse possible to avoid the TLM. The response I received was so logically inconsistent as to be non-responsive. I was personally very frustrated.

For whatever reason, liturgical matters do not seem to be a priority for the bishops in the United States, which is odd to me considering the importance of the liturgy in Catholicism. Of course, perhaps the bishops do not see anything in the liturgy that needs to be changed, which would explain the utter silence from almost every bishop except for Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, and a very few others. They clearly need our prayers as many appear to be sidetracked by worldly concerns instead of tending to their particular dioceses. Then again, I really have no conception as to what a diocesan bishop does on a daily basis...

Father, your former parishioner will be included in my Rosary intentions today.

John Nolan said...

Marc, that's all very well, but SP is not simply an expression of the HF's wishes, it is a juridical document binding on the whole Church. Bishops cannot interpret it as they see fit. It is up to the priest to decide whether or not he has the means to celebrate the EF, which in the form of a Missa Lecta wuld consist of a 1962 missal, a set of altar cards and a competent server. Fluency in Latin is not a prerequisite; all that is required is the ability to pronounce the words and understand what they mean.

Nor is a trained schola a sine qua non for a Missa Cantata. In the 1950s most parishes could manage one every Sunday, even if the propers had to be sung tono directo and settings of the ordinary were limited to a few that the congregation were familiar with.

Marc said...

John, you are certainly preaching to the choir, my friend!

I'm just reporting what I know firsthand from interacting with a bishop (or at least someone representing a bishop and sending letters with his signature).

Unfortunately, many priests are justifiably fearful of saying the TLM when they know (or at least strongly believe) there will be some repercussions from their bishop if they do so. Sure, the bishop cannot justifiably forbid a priest from using the 1962 Missal, but he can make it known that choosing to do so will result in reassignment to the far reaches of the diocesan boundaries.

Of course, there are also a very high number of priests who flatly refuse to say the TLM because they are adherents to the "Novus Ordo religion" and not the Catholic Faith. In case my debating partner on this blog reads this post: No, I will not go any further debating that fact or expounding on my meaning about what the "Novus Ordo religion" is.

Marc said...

I should mention also the following: At our very own Fr. McDonald's seminary, last I heard, seminarians must obtain the permission of their bishop before being able to take the elective course on the Tridentine Mass.

If anyone can explain how that squares with Universae Ecclesiae, I'd love to hear it. At any rate, a relatively newly ordained priest told me there were a mere five or six men enrolled in that course the year he took it. I believe many are fearful to ask to take that class because of the message it might send to their bishop. Such is the state of Catholicism in America...

And this is something that really bugs me because those who make and enforce these policies, even the bishops, are said to be in "full Communion" with the Apostolic See. Yet, they essentially thumb their nose at our Holy Father. Then, they would turn around and tell Traditional Catholics that we are the ones who are in the wrong and we are the ones in schism. All the while, we love the Pope with all possible affection and look to him for guidance on how to live the Catholic Faith!

At any rate, what we know for certain is that these bishops, priests, and seminarians need our prayers. We can also be fairly confident that the number of young men who would prefer a return to the TLM is quite high - every week it seems we hear of another newly ordained priest who says the TLM as his first Mass. Also, the vocation rates are just so much higher for the Traditional priestly fraternities and so low for "normal" diocesan priests - it is really only a matter of time.

In that connection, I will mention that the Archdiocese of New York this year had ONE man ordained to the priesthood. He said the TLM as his first Mass. And the homilist was an Opus Dei priest. Talk about a pleasant future for our Holy Mother Church -- it brings a smile to my face!