Tuesday, December 31, 2013

THE VICAR OF CHRIST PRESIDES OVER VESPER AND THE TE DEUM FOR THE CONCLUSION OF 2013 AND THE CELEBRATION OF VESPERS I FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD

This stunning First Vespers with the Holy Roman Pontiff, "You are Peter" begins with the solemn procession and the choir chanting "Tu Es Petrus!"

Please note the solemn and joyous cope the Holy Father uses. Please note that included in this Solemn Sung Vespers I is a Eucharistic Procession and Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament:




Pope Francis prays year-end Vespers



(Vatican Radio) Vespers began at 5 PM Rome Time in St Peter’s Basilica, with Pope Francis presiding over the prayers that constitute the Church’s official, public praise of God in the evening of the last day of the year, to be followed by the singing of the great hymn of gratitude in faith, the Te Deum, and the worship of the Blessed Sacrament before the giving of the blessing of the Eucharistic Lord.

In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the sense of history that permeates the life of those whose lives are signed by faith in Jesus Christ. “The biblical and Christian vision of time and history,” he said, “is not cyclical, but linear: it is a path that leads towards a conclusion.” He explained that the passing year does not represent an end in itself, but a step on the way towards a reality that is to be completed – another step toward the goal that lies ahead of us: a place of hope and happiness, because we will meet God, the Reason of our hope and Source of our joy.

Pope Francis went on to say that, as the year 2013 comes to an end, we collect, as in a basket, the days, the weeks, the months that we have lived, to offer everything to the Lord.

Pope Francis concluded, inviting everyone to look toward the new year, in a spirit of gratitude for that, which we have received, repentance for that, in which we have failed, and resolve to work with God’s grace to better our lives, our communities and ourselves.

Listen to the report by Christopher Altieri... RealAudioMP3



Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/12/31/pope_francis_prays_year-end_vespers/en1-760186
of the Vatican Radio website

TRIPPLE BOMBSHELLS! POPE FRANCIS IS A CATHOLIC, NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE BUT THREE TIMES! WHO KNEW? WELL, OF COURSE, I DID!


I don't know if it is his plan to create some confusion and then clear things up or that Pope Francis is on a learning curve in terms of how to be Pope and that the world hates Catholicism, always has and always will for the world hated Jesus Christ! (I am using the term "world" as St. John does in his Gospel and letters!) Maybe now Pope Francis will understand how Satan wants to attack him and is using the media and heterodox Catholics to do it, who spin what he says to promote lies.

Perhaps Pope Francis is naive or brilliant or a combination of both, but he has gotten the world's attention and now the truth is clarified, not once, not twice but three times as in the method of using threes that the Holy Father uses so well! Ad multo annos! AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR IN OUR LORD OF 2014!

NUMERO UNO!

(From Fr. Z's translation) You might be interested in this interview with Cardinal Meisner who is German and retiring:

In his third answer, he says the following (it’s my translation in English, probably very bad):

“At my last meeting with Pope Francis, I had the opportunity to talk very open to him about a lot of things. And I told him that some questions remain unanswered in his style of spreading the gospel through interviews and short speeches, questions which need some extended explanation for people who are not so involved. The pope looked at me “with big eyes” and asked me to give an example. And my response was : During the flight back from Rio you were asked about people who divorced and remarried. And the pope responded frankly: People who are divorced can receive communion, people who are remarried can’t. In the orthodox church you can marry twice. And then he talked about mercy, which, according to my view, is seen in this country only as a surrogate for all human faults. And the pope responded quite bluntly that he’s a son of the church, and he doesn’t proclaim anything else than the teachings of the church. And mercy has to be identical with truth – if not, she doesn’t deserve that name. Furthermore, when there are open theological questions, it’s up to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to give detailed responses“.

NUMERO DUE!

Bishop: Pope ‘Shocked’ By Gay Adoption, ‘Encouraged Me to Speak Out’
December 30, 2013 - 6:29 PM
By Michael W. Chapman


Malta Bishop: Pope ‘Shocked’ By Gay Adoption, ‘Encouraged Me to Speak Out’

Pope Francis and Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna. (Photo: Sunday Times of Malta)


(CNSNews.com) – Pope Francis is “shocked” about legislation in Malta that would allow homosexual couples to adopt children and encouraged the auxiliary bishop of that island nation, Charles J. Scicluna, to “speak out” against the proposal, the bishop told the Sunday Times of Malta on Dec. 29.

In his Christmas Day sermon, Bishop Scicluna had defended the Catholic Church’s teaching against same-sex “marriage” and gay adoption. When asked why he would discuss such a topic as part of a Christmas homily, Bishop Scicluna said he had met with Pope Francis on Dec. 12 and the pope advised him to speak boldly on the subject.

“We discussed many aspects,” said Bishop Scicluna. “And when I raised the issue that’s worrying me as a bishop [gay adoption], he encouraged me to speak out.”

“[T]hat is exactly what I did in my Christmas sermon,” said Bishop Scicluna. “My sermon was not about the rights of gay people but about children’s rights.”

In his Christmas Day homily, the bishop had said, “The message of Christmas remains always a current message. It beckons and invites us to seek and recognize the true Wisdom that the manger of our Lord Jesus embraces ….

“Around the manger of baby Jesus there are also a woman and a man: the mother who gave him birth and her husband Joseph whom God chose to bring up, along with the mother, the child of Mary.

“God, who generated his Son as a human being without the participation of a man, did not want his Son as man to be brought up without the participation of a man. The silent and essential mission of Joseph was to ensure that the boy Jesus, in his upbringing as a man, was not deprived of a father’s affection and example.

“In the upbringing of his Beloved Son, God himself ordained and chose to be subjected to the wisdom and law of creation according to which a baby should be reared by a mother and father, by a couple made of a man and a woman and not by a couple made of woman and woman or a couple made of man and man.”

The Parliament of Malta introduced a Civil Unions Bill that includes gay adoptions in September. The proposal would give same-sex couple essentially the same rights as married couples under the law.

In late November, Bishop Scicluna discussed the Civil Unions Bill on the Maltese program “Dissett” and said, "While the sexual activity of heterosexual couples has a fundamental role in producing future members of the society, that of same-sex couples does not have a role in society as it does not produce offspring.”

Pope Francis, as the archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, said in July 2010 that same-sex marriage and adoption of children by gays will “seriously harm the family.”

As reported by the National Catholic Register, “In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. … At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

Cardinal Bergoglio also said, “Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill but a ‘move’ of the Father of Lies [Satan] who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

The Republic of Malta is a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea south of Italy and north of Libya. The official languages there are Maltese and English. The official religion of the nation is Roman Catholicism and there are 360 churches on the two small islands (122 sq. miles) that comprise Malta.
- See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/bishop-pope-shocked-gay-adoption-encouraged-me-speak-out#sthash.au7JioyB.dpuf

NUMERO TRE:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had "abolished sin", after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled "Francis' Revolution: He has abolished sin".

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God's mercy and forgiveness were "eternal".

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that "this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin" was wrong.

"Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners," Lombardi said.

It was not the first brush between the Vatican and Scalfari, who founded La Repubblica newspaper in 1976.

Last month the Vatican removed from its website the text of Scalfari's transcript of his conversation with the pope, saying parts of it were not reliable.

Scalfari said he had not used a tape recorder or taken notes when he met the pope but reconstructed the long session from memory afterwards and made additions to help the flow of the article.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Heavens)




THE AUGUSTA, GEORGIA V.A. GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS AND THE ALLELUIA COMMUNITY WHO WANTS IT BACK!


The Alleluia Community, an ecumenical (but primarily Catholic) charismatic community in Augusta, has made national news for having been told by the administrator of the uptown division of the Veterans' Administration Hospital that their elementary school children from their school were not allowed to sing religious Christmas music in the public places of the hospital; they could only sing secular "holiday" songs.

Well, of course, the Alleluia Community wasn't going to take this lying down. They've made righteous noise about this and the country has taken notice.

The Catholics of this community have a presence in each of the four parishes in Augusta and have provided more priestly vocations in the last 20 years than any single parish throughout the diocese (and they are a lay-covenant community). In a sense, this community, and they live in community in two separate neighborhoods in Augusta, one larger and the other smaller (a disclaimer the larger of the two called "Faith Village" is in the same neighborhood I grew up in, in South Augusta and where my brother and I delivered newspapers in the afternoon in the early 1960's, long before this community was born. Back then, the neighborhood was mostly comprised of GI's and their families preparing for Vietnam and yes, not a few of our customers or their children were killed in that war), is very similar to what would have been called Catholic Ghetto parishes of the northeast and Midwest. They are a 1950's sort of community and know each other exceedingly well and live like communities and parishes once live in the glory days of yore.

Another interesting fact concerning the vocations to the priesthood is that although the spirituality of the community is charismatic and thus this has a sort of liberating aspect on the style of music and Mass they are willing to experience with "pentecostal" fervor, the men ordained are rather conservative and traditional in their liturgical sensibilities and often have a great appreciation for the EF Mass.

But I digress. Today's Augusta Chronicle (December 31, 2013) reports the following:

Legal group demands Augusta VA welcome all caroling


Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 9:35 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 12:31 AM
 
A Christian-based legal group demanded Monday that the director of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta rescind hospital policy prohibiting school children and other well-wishers from singing religious Christmas carols in public patient areas.
In a letter mailed to administrator Bob Hamilton, the Alliance Defending Freedom stated that the facility’s decision to exclude religious music likely violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
The 20-year-old national nonprofit organization cited numerous decisions from the U.S. Supreme and Appeals courts in its defense, and gave the medical center until Jan. 10 to respond to its request.
Jeremy Tedesco, the senior legal counsel leading the alliance’s case, said if no action is taken, a possible lawsuit could be in the works.

“Our nation’s veterans have time and again faced and defeated dangerous threats to the liberties we cherish as American citizens – children singing Christmas carols is not among them,” Jeremy Tedesco said. “By banning these Christmas carols, the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend. Contrary to what hospital officials are claiming, they are disrespecting – not respecting – constitutionally protected religious freedoms.”

Augusta’s downtown VA Medical Center told high school students from the city’s Alleluia Community School last week that they must choose different music if they want to perform in the public areas in light of a 5-year-old policy they were more strictly enforcing.

Despite facing no resistance at the hospital in 2011 and 2012, the students were given a pre-approved list of 12 non-religious Christmas songs that the hospital’s Pastoral Service “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all veterans.”

They were told nonsecular songs could be sung in the hospital’s chapel.

Tedesco said the VA’s policy appears to be nothing more than “political correctness run amok.”
“The Constitution clearly prohibits the VA from targeting religious Christmas carols for exclusion from a public facility,” said Matt Sharp, Tedesco’s co-counsel on the case. “We hope our letter will help clear up the misinformation upon which the VA is acting and that it will lift its unnecessary and unconstitutional ban.”

The alliance issued its letter Monday from its Georgia office and expects the Augusta VA to receive it Tuesday. Pete Scovill, a spokesman for the Augusta VA, declined comment until receipt of the letter, which he said the hospital has yet to receive.

In its defense, VA administration cited last week a 2008 rule in the Veterans Health Administration Handbook, stating that its leadership “may restrict or prohibit any practice that it deems detrimental to the health or safety of patients.”



COCA-COLA PRO-LIFE, WHO KNEW?

This Argentinian Coke commercial is trying to sell a Coke product. It is a feel good commercial and seems to be pro-life and pro-family in all the ways that our traditional values deconstructionists despise. Would it fly in the USA?

Monday, December 30, 2013

WHICH ERA OF THE CHURCH, PRE-VATICAN II OR POST VATICAN II, ACCOMPLISHES THE FOLLOWING THE BEST FOR THE LAITY?


Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1998 in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Christifideles Laici” laid out a very concrete theology of the laity. It can be read here:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici_en.html
 
In this exhortation the Holy Father stated:

“In this assembly of bishops there was not lacking a qualified representation of the lay faithful, both women and men, which rendered a valuable contribution to the Synod proceedings.”

He also warned the laity of two temptations:

“At the same time, the Synod has pointed out that the post-conciliar path of the lay faithful has not been without its difficulties and dangers. In particular, two temptations can be cited which they have not always known how to avoid: 

(1) the temptation of being so strongly interested in Church services and tasks that some fail to become actively engaged in their responsibilities in the professional, social, cultural and political world; 

and (2) the temptation of legitimizing the unwarranted separation of faith from life, that is, a separation of the Gospel’s acceptance from the actual living of the Gospel in various situations in the world.”

LITURGICAL FASCISM AND LITURGICAL LIBERALISM


Anonymous commenting on"IS A PREOCCUPATION WITH "WORSHIP" THE CAUSE OF SICK, INTROVERTED RELIGION?"
said the following:

I converted about 7 years ago to the Catholic faith at the Cathedral in my diocese, which was my territory parish. However, five years in, I moved to an Extraordinary Form personal parish (FSSP) and it was like going through a second conversion - some have called the phenomenon their "tradversion".

In following God's call, He gifted me with an amazing job in my local diocese. However, I often find myself torn between two liturgical worlds. While I find myself spiritually fed by the spirituality of my priests and my parish, I find much beauty in the Novus Ordo when done reverently, and attend daily Mass often at my diocesan chapel. However, I have experienced grief at work for attending a Latin Mass parish, and have heard very negative remarks about my Bishop and my co-workers from people at my parish who treat the Bishop and the diocesan staff as The Enemy.

However, all is not lost - we do have many wise leaders in the church that understand this challenge and are working hard to help those searching for Christ find their path to Him. As a very wise Bishop recently told me, "There is only one Truth but within His Body, the Church, it is still quite roomy. " Or as Pope Francis said in Evangelii Gaudium, "We are all in the same boat and headed to the same port! Let us ask for the grace to rejoice in the gifts of each, which belong to all." (I highly recommend that everyone take the time to read the section in EG titled "II. Temptations faced by pastoral workers" and meditate on the truths about ourselves contained within.)


MY COMMENTS:

I appreciate Anonymous comments as they reflect my own experience. I find those who are opposed to the EF Mass the most fascist when it comes to the liturgy. They want to force everyone into their own mold and fear those who have a different liturgical perspective that is healthy and wise.

I call myself a liturgical liberal for within reason I can appreciate a variety of liturgical styles especially if these are beneficial for the salvation of souls and their Catholic witness and evangelization apart from the Mass that sustains them.  I am not a liturgical fascist!

When Pope Paul VI decided to implement his commission's design of the Mass based upon general guidelines offered by Sacrosanctum Concilium, he did so in the most pre-Vatican II way possible, by edict and in a monarchical way. Supposedly he "abrogated a nearly 1500 year tradition of the order of the Mass codified after the Council of Trent.

When Pope Benedict untied the knot on the 1962 Mass seven years ago, he did so not in a monarchical, fascist manner. He offered it to all priests with some conditions and made it clear that the Post Vatican II revised Mass would remain the ordinary, normal, regular Mass of the Church and the 1962 would be the extraordinary, out of the ordinary form of the Mass for those who requested it.

This has tied those liturgical fascists into knots who have promoted only the Ordinary Form of the Mass with an on-going emphasis on actions of the Mass, rather than the Divine Person of Jesus Christ. Thus the preoccupation with these liturgical fascists resides in the kinds of bread and wine used at Mass, the eatablility and drinkablilty of the bread and wine, which is broken and poured out to be eaten and drunk by everyone.

It is all about actions, the liturgical actions focused on the symbols and signs, leaving the Person of Jesus in the background while preoccupation with action and signs come to the fore.

At least the pre-Vatican II theology of signs and symbols got it right, these veil or hide what they also reveal, Jesus Christ who is invisible except through the veil of the signs and symbols of the Mass which make Him visible.

And on top of that, today's liturgical fascists think that the ecclesiology of the Church is the most important aspect of the revised Mass--it is a completely horizontal, sociological view of the Mass meant to be like a chart of what the Church's organization is and how we act together as a Church--it is herein that the horizontal emphasis lies and overwhelms the most important aspect of the Mass, its vertical aspect, point to God who saves us in Jesus Christ, who shows us Mercy and calls us to discipleship, not in a churchy sort of way but in a more important sort of way, where they live, work and play and even in their politics.

But apart from that, those liturgical fascists who desired and continue to desire that the 1962 Missal be suppressed or abrogated, they fail to recognize the most important aspect of both forms of the Mass! It is Jesus Christ, truly and substantially present who saves us through his suffering, death and resurrection, his Passion, the Paschal Mystery.

Both Masses have the Church collectively gathered, those on earth, those in heaven and those in purgatory. Both Masses have the Word of God, Sacred Scripture, although the EF has more Scripture although the Lectionary is limited compared to the Ordinary Form, but both forms have lectionaries!

At both Masses, not only is there the mystical Body of Christ gathered with her Head, Jesus Christ, not only is the Word of God proclaimed and not only is the priest acting in the Person of Christ, but also Jesus Christ's one Sacrifice is made present in an unbloody way and His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, the Glorified Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus is Food and Drink for the Mystical Body of Christ as they traverse this life of "knowing, loving and serving" Jesus Christ in order to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

Why in the name of God and all that is holy would anyone want to abrogate any legitmate form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?  It could only be the case if they are a liturgical fascist! 




Sunday, December 29, 2013

OH THE MEMORIES! CAN YOU PICK ME OUT? AND PLEASE NOTE THE PRE-VATICAN II ALTAR ARRANGEMENT!


MOVE OVER POPE FRANCIS! MACON TELEGRAPH'S "PERSON OF THE YEAR!"

 Daughter of Charity, Sister Elizabeth Greim is Macon Telegraph's "Person (Nun, Sister, Woman Religious) of the Year!" Congratulations to her and all who work to make Daybreak of DePaul USA a stunning success of going to the periphery of Macon to bring the Gospel!

You should be able to read the printed story in the Macon Telegraph by pressing HERE!.

 And folks, Sister Elizabeth and her volunteers, an interfaith endeavor, began this under the reign of Pope Benedict XVI! So Catholics aren't new to this going to the periphery!!!!!

HOLY FAMILY'S ANGELUS, POPE FRANCIS GIVES THREE THINGS FOR FAMILY HARMONY AND JOY!


In the family, Pope Francis says in his Holy Family Angelus talk, that there must be three things for family harmony and joy!

1) Please (or permission)--seek politely what is requested, don't demand or presume!

2) Thank you--this moves us beyond being an egoist and shows gratitude for that which we receive from others!

3) Excuse me (forgive me) which seeks to heal injury that one causes by acknowledging one's need

The Holy Father asks the huge, huge, huge crowd gathered below his window to repeat these three things over and over! And they do!

IS A PREOCCUPATION WITH "WORSHIP" THE CAUSE OF SICK, INTROVERTED RELIGION?


When I was in the seminary between 1976 and 1980, one of my most favorite professors was a biblical scholar, Sulpician priest, Fr. Addison Wright. He liked to debunk things.

One of the things he tried to do was to show the parallels between Israel, when it had veered off course in terms of fidelity to God and what had and was happening in the Church, when the same thing would happen, especially on an institutional level.

He often spoke of "sick religion" as it concerned Judaism of the period of Jesus. The Pharisees of Jesus' period were the religious reformers of the day. They understood the identity of Israel not  primarily as a worshiping community, but a holy community honoring the Torah in which worship was included.

And I think it is precisely here that we can get some sense of Pope Francis and his reform of the Church today and it is from the theology of Fr. Addison Wright who was articulating this theology along with many others in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II. This is lifted literally from my notes on the class Fr. Wright gave on March 21, 1977:

"What did Jesus' preach? His message was "repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." Repentance is an ethical movement toward God and His kingdom. It is primarily ethical. This ties in with the reformers of Judaism of Jesus' period, the Pharisees who wanted to bring Israel back to its Mosaic roots and away from the Paganism of the day.

Paganism as a religion was political and had economic purposes. All the needs of the citizens were taken care of by the state. This was compared to the primary concern of Israel in Mosaic times, not power and money as for the pagans, but the primacy of ethics as illustrated in the Law, especially the 10 Commandments viewed not primarily for the individual, but for social liberation.

For the Pharisees, religion was not to become a museum piece. God's will is to permeate in all areas o life

What does Jesus do, within the more positive aspects of the Pharisaical movement? Jesus intensifies the call to ethical biblical behavior. He will write the laws on the people's hearts. One is to be a doer of the law not just a hearer. One must do the will of "my Father" and this must be internalized not forced in the external sense. 

Jesus calls us to "maximum performance" in the realm of the ethical. To be merciful as the Heavenly Father and to be perfect as the heavenly Father is. Our primary worry should be this: "Have I done enough?" 

MY  COMMENTS:

Fr. Wright knew what was happening in the Church of the 1970's and the liturgical wars that pitted Catholics against one another as well as the great social upheaval of the day and social work in the Church becoming like paganism, governmental and economic where politics also divided Catholics in the pagan sense.

Pope Francis would have certainly been aware of what was happening in the Church of this period after a period of relative calm prior to the Council.

The new breed of Catholic professionals, of the post-Vatican II period, called liturgists became preoccupied by liturgy and its reform and often promoted a reform that alienated those who had simply come to accept the worship of the Church as it was even though for some, not all, there was not always a connection made between worship and the rest of their lives during the week.

Liturgists still exert influence, an almost ungodly influence, on the Church today and Pope Francis knows it and doesn't like it. When one becomes preoccupied with vestments and their style, language and its style, candlesticks, chalices, decorations and the like, one is distracted from what one should be doing with the rest of one's time as a follower of Christ, living the biblical, ethical life to the fullest, at home, work and play, wherever one finds oneself. And this living is centered on love of God and love of neighbor and expanding who it is that is our neighbor to include those on the periphery of life, the abandoned, the homeless, the sick and the mentally ill, as well as the possessed.

This doesn't mean that liturgy doesn't mean anything to Pope Francis, it certainly does, but liturgy does not become the end all and be all of Catholicism. It is the source and summit in which God calls us to go from worship and witness to the Gospel in every day life

Pope Benedict, although a patron of the arts and one who appreciates the cultured life, also understood this when he at his command inserted into the Ordinary Form of the Mass two new options for the Dismissal of Mass: "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord" and "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life." 

Catholics can be very worship oriented and have the most splendid liturgies with the most splendid vestments, music and choreography and it will be impressive for those who participate and those who visit. Yet what about the lives of Catholics who participate in this form of the Mass?

We can ask the same question of those who prefer simplicity and simply the basics of the Mass, does this become the source and summit of their lives at worship but there is no indication of their lived Catholicism at home, work and play.

In both cases "cafeteria Catholicism" could be at work in the ethical, biblical dimensions. Like the "whited sepulcher" which is spotless on the outside, but full of corruption and decay on the inside, we have missed what Jesus proclaimed and made our worship of Him the centerpiece with all the external trappings, whether high church or low church, when what Jesus actually wants is our biblical lives to be the centerpiece of our existence at worship and in the world.

The centerpiece is based upon the call to repentance, the mercy of God and showing this mercy to repentant sinners. Thus we see in Pope Francis his call to the Sacrament of Penance, the need for God's mercy and a repentant lifestyle. And he tells us that while we might grow weary of asking and seeking repentance and mercy, God never does!

For Pope Francis, Mercy and showing Mercy (both capitalized, since this is Jesus) is the foundation of Catholic life which certainly includes the one hour or week we spend in attending Mass, but also embraces the rest of the time we spend doing other things. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

WHICH MASS DO I PREFER?



The Mass I prefer is the Mass where I sense that everyone is engaged in the Mass in order to receive from the Mass what God wants to give us and how well we respond to God's grace to give Him the most beautiful expression of our faith, hope and love in the manner in which we give God right worship, which is in fact His gift to us to be able to do so.

In September of 2014, I will have been celebrating the gift of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass for seven years thanks to Pope Benedict XVI! I had hoped that the beauty of this Mass would have attracted more people to its celebration. I intentionally placed it at a time seperate from our normal Ordinary Form Mass (did not replace one of those in other words) to see what the interest would be and how long that interest would last.

From a peak of about 150 people at the first few Masses, it has declined to about 60 and sometimes less at our Sunday once a month 2:00 PM Mass. We celebrate this Mass completely sung and with a very good men's schola.  Our daily Low EF Mass on Tuesday's at 5 pm has fared better and has seen increases in the number attending, from about 15 to about 30 or so.

While I love the EF Mass and love the preservation of our Latin language heritage, both spoken and chanted, through it, I also love the vernacular and always have since the first days that it was introduced beginning around 1965, first with the 1962 missal and then with the 1970 Order of Mass and missal (although I did not like the "dumbing" down of either the Order of the Mass or how the English was translated into simplistic language which was reductionist and harmful to our Catholic doctrine, theology and spirituality. Even as a young person almost 20 years old I could tell this had occurred and most of the Catholics at the time could tell it too and we were not pleased.

I think when the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated with all the options that are allowed it and with dignity, by saying or chanting the black and doing the red, it is as God intends our worship to be since God is the one who gives it to us and we return it to Him!

I've said all along that I would love to see the current, modern Roman Missal we have simply have an EF option to it but in the vernacular (or Latin if one desires). By that I mean it simply has the EF's Order and rubrics, which could easily be made possible with the current missal and its calendar, without changing anything but the order and rubrics.

This EF order for the Ordinary Form Missal would allow only for the Roman Canon. Of course the Introit, offertory and Communion Antiphons would need to be in this missal and the Introit in the EF style, with the Gloria Patri--thus there needs to be an antiphon and one verse for the Introit in the missal.

The only option that I would think would be important is the option of an audible Roman Canon that also could be chanted as currently allowed.

I should add, that I prefer the OF's Communion Rite compared to the EF's. It is there that I think a "reform of the reform" modern missal with EF order and rubrics could sustain an actual reform. 

POPE FRANCIS IS THE RIGHT POPE AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME SO SAYS FORBES MAGAZINE!

MY COMMENTS FIRST: What has pained me the most since the election of Pope Francis is that so many so-called "traditional Catholics" not all certainly, are acting as the post-Catholic progressives of the Church did toward Pope Benedict and his reforms and style as well as how they rebelled against Pope Paul VI when he issued his prophetic and quite needed and true Humanae Vitae. Just as Pope Francis describes these progressives as adolescents, so too we can describe these sour pussed (pickled peppers) traditionalists in the same way. What ever happened to docility toward the Holy Spirit when He exercises His charisms through the Magisterium of the Church, either ordinary or extraordinary or papal magisterium alone? These traditionalists are far from the manner in which traditional Catholics conduct their lives when it come to respect and obedience to the legitimate authorities of the Church. 

The following is an article in Forbes Magazine. This shows us the extent to which this Pope is affecting the world in the most positive way possible. Who would have thought that it would be possible given the "swamp air" we have been breathing in the Church concerning the numerous scandals that are like mill stones around the neck of the Magisterium for the past 15 to 20 years? 

Yes, the Holy Spirit is protecting and strengthening the Church against the gates of hell and moving us from scandal to witness and the new evangelization. How could any Catholic, true Catholic, complain about that?

From Forbes Magazine: How Pope Francis Is Changing Our Definition Of Success

St. Peter's Basilica at Early Morning
The Vatican is being seen in a new light due to Pope Francis. So too, will our concepts of success. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How great will Pope Francis’ impact be? Beyond his impact within his own 1.2 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church, he may well redefine modern concepts of success, wealth and prestige for our larger society. (I say this as a non-Catholic.)
But let’s be realistic. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without withering criticism of him along the way, from the left and right and, hell, even from the mafia, who are rumored to have placed him on a hit list because of his startlingly aggressive reforms.
The changes he may bring about are due to his leadership prowess (discussed more in a separate article) and his unsurpassed global platform. But they’re also due to the fact that his values mirror some awakening aspirations of the larger world beyond his church walls.
Let’s look at how the still-newish pope is likely to change society’s concepts of success:
Francis is making it easier for ambitious people to value simplicity.
The hardest task for a top leader, religious or otherwise, is to pass up any of the swag bags and perks of high office. Enter Francis, who declined to live in the luxurious papal suite in order to remain in the relatively humbler Vatican guesthouse, and who chooses simple garments over ornate ones.
Francis might have seemed a bit na├»ve or quaint if he’d poped a generation or two ago, back when society worried less about environmental limits or sustainability. But millennials today are gripped by doubts about whether they can live at the posh levels of past generations, as well as suspicions that the ways of the past aren’t sustainable. This pope will inspire them to make an impact that goes beyond having nice possessions.
Francis is changing how we distinguish between “important people” and “unimportant” ones.
While a Billy Graham seemed to take special pride in counseling presidents within the splendid halls of power, Francis has made a career of quietly heading out to slums in order to care for marginalized people.  And, strikingly, he asks those people to pray for him, which is a subtle but powerful reminder that the people at society’s margins too have something meaningful to give.
Francis is reintroducing a healthy tension between the concept of virtue and the practice of capitalism.
Just google up “Francis and antichrist,” and you’ll get some fascinating “proofs” that the pope has 666tattooed somewhere on his body. In fact, Francis is more the anti-Ayn Rand, the polar opposite of that uber-capitalist who blamed the poor for their own misfortune.
wrote a few days ago about the conundrum that arises when Christian belief come into contact with aggressive capitalism. Francis goes so far as to say that excessive admiration for capitalism can be a kind of idolatry, a worshipping of the golden calf.
Granted, Francis’ pronouncements on capitalism may be imperfect or incomplete or misguided in the minds of some. Still, he is the first global religious leader in maybe centuries to bring up the elephant in the room, which is the tension between the Ayn Rand school of economics and the great world religions such as Christianity.
Francis is drawing a dividing line between high status and good character.
The photos of Francis clasping, kissing and blessing a disfigured man caused a global stir this past November.
We’ve seen many people be pope or priest or politician—but we’ve seen few use their power in a more humanizing manner. “Character is destiny,” Heraclitus said. And in that moment, Francis exemplified a manner of character that most of us admire but which few of us could match.
Such displays of character make critics treat him with far greater respect than they otherwise would. And it is such displays of character that will remind Catholics, non-Catholics, agnostics and atheists alike that power and position aren’t ends in themselves. Rather, power and position are means for displaying virtue and character.
Francis is building a path for civil discussion of our worst hot-button issues. 
For the moment, at least, it’s good to be pope. Francis has managed to make himself the darling of some progressives. Still, expect the honeymoon to end soon enough, and for Francis to come increasingly under fire by progressives as they realize he will not go as far as they would hope on issues such as gender and sex. Meanwhile, Francis has already been pilloried by Rush Limbaugh and others on the right for being a Marxist in shepherd’s robing.
Our times are ridiculously contentious. Conservatives bristle at how Francis states the Occupy movement’s case with greater eloquence than that movement itself could muster. And many progressives grouse about how the Catholic church is the same old church despite its new tone.
Still, Francis should manage to unite liberals and conservatives in some meaningful way.  Both may come to understand that Francis is motivated by loftier and more complex values than black-and-white partisanship.
In that case, a more civil tone would finally be possible in our hopelessly gridlocked democratic societies. And that may well become Francis’ greatest contribution of all.

HOW MUCH WILL POPE FRANCIS AFFECT THE WAY MASS IS CELEBRATED IN RANK AND FILE CATHEDRALS AND PARISHES AND WHAT ABOUT THE "REFORM OF THE REFORM"


Let's face it, for all the attention and celebrity given to popes, some more than others, and the current occupant getting the most ever, at least since the early days of Blessed, soon to be Saint, Pope John Paul II, how much of an impact does the pope have on local dioceses and parishes?  From what I can tell, not much!

The two  biggest things Pope Benedict set into motion were the liberalization of who can celebrate the 1962 missal. That affected in our diocese just the Cathedral and my parish. There were sporadic celebrations maybe in two other parishes.

In terms of the "reform of the reform" apart from maybe my parish and I really can't think of any others, we placed a low crucifix on the middle of the altar and for the past year or a bit longer, we have one Sunday Mass "ad orientem" and that is only for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Again, I know of no other parish in our diocese that does this.

In terms of chant, I think our parish is the only one that now includes the chanting of the official Introit (prior to the additional Entrance Chant from our hymnal) as well as the Offertory and Communion Chants. But these chants are the short versions in the Roman Missal, not from the Gradual and in English. Our music is from a traditional hymnal, the St. Michael Hymnal, but even with that somewhat eclectic in style.

In terms of vestments, ours are the same except for the use of some "Roman Style" vestments for the EF Mass and only on occasion for the OF, but rarely, at least for me.

So, what impact will Pope Francis have on the liturgy? I would venture to guess that it will be about as much as Pope Benedict, but a little bit less!

The best we could hope for is that priests would model what Pope Francis does in terms of how he celebrates the Mass. Let me highlight my dream for parishes throughout the world in this regard:

1. Pope Francis is solemn and sober and almost detached when he celebrates the Mass--there is absolutely no kibitzing or improvisation even at the most likely times that priests unfortunately do this. This is a wonderful thing--"saying the black and doing the red."

2. Pope Francis does not pray the prayers of the Mass, even though he is facing the congregation, as though he is "proclaiming these prayers, either to the congregation or to God." It is clear that he is "praying" these prayers and to God, not reading them to the congregation.

3. While Pope Francis liturgical tastes are not Baroque or ornate, he wears tasteful, bland vestments, but on occasion has had some with a bit of more flair, such as the Mass for the closing of the Year of faith, where once again he wore the chasuble that Pope Benedict wore for the beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II.  His personal vestments from Argentina with matching dalmatics for deacons are simple but exquisite. If only local parishes could be as nice!

Friday, December 27, 2013

HOW DO YOU SPELL HYPOCRISY? L-I-B-E-R-A-L


BREAKING NEWS: POPE FRANCIS NAMED BEST DRESSED MAN OF THE YEAR BY ESQUIRE (DRAB IS THE NEW BLING!)


Pope Francis
Getty Images
An unconventional choice to be sure, but hear us out. 
While Bradley Cooper, Chris Pine, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have all had banner years, their sartorial choices begin and end on the proverbial red carpet. Meanwhile, Pope Francis's sartorial decisions have subtly signaled a new era (and for many, renewed hope) for the Catholic Church.
"His mode of dressing really does reflect the mindset behind it," says Mark-Evan Blackman, assistant professor of menswear design at FIT, of Pope Francis. "I remember when John Paul II was buried in those opulent bright red shoes. When the current pope was elected and chose not to wear the red shoes I thought that was very reflective of his approach to being a person functioning in a role."
Pope Francis has been big on symbolic gestures—paying his own bill at a hotel owned by the Church or washing the feet of inmates (two of whom were female) on Holy Thursday—and the black shoes and unadorned, simplistic regalia are just an outward acknowledgement of his progressive orthodoxy. "Pope Francis understands that menswear is meant to express the character of the man wearing the clothes," says Mary Lisa Gavenas, author of The Fairchild Encyclopedia of Menswearbefore adding: "No rapper-style popewear for him."
True, the opulent jewelry and fur-lined capes of yore have given way to humbler dress, and this break from aesthetic tradition says a lot of the man and what he hopes to achieve while doing his earthly duties. He's certainly been the most approachable Pope in recent memory, one who tweets his gospel, takes selfies, sneaks out of his modest apartment (he declined moving into the Apostolic Palace) in a disguise to help the poor, and even hangs out with Patti Smith.  
Ann Pellegrini, Associate Professor of Performance Studies & Religious Studies at New York University puts it this way: "The humility of his garments offers a way to visibly display his theological and material concerns for the poor. This Holy Roman emperor really does have new clothes."

DON'T YOU THINK THAT SAINT JOSEPH CHURCH IN MACON RIVALS ANYTHING IN EUROPE?

Our humble parish church in the Sacred Heart of Georgia decorated splendidly for Christmas! Many, many kudos and thanks to those who decorated the Church!








HOW COOL IS THIS!

   Home > Church >  2013-12-27 11:01:57




Roman parishioners to attend Pope's daily Mass




Vatican Radio) It has been confirmed by the Director of the Holy See Press Office that parishioners of Roman parishes will soon be attending Mass with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta. Responding to Italian press reports over Christmas, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, said beginning in January the Cardinal Vicar of Rome will be informing pastors how to apply to attend the Pope’s daily Mass with a group from their parish - probably about 25 people. In 2013, groups of Vatican employees usually attended the Papal Mass. Father Lombardi said the initiative will allow the people of Rome to interact with their bishop, since the Pope is not able to visit every parish in the diocese.

WHY NOT MAKE DECEMBER 23RD CHRISTMAS EVE AND DECEMBER 24TH CHRISTMAS DAY? HE SAID TONGUE IN CHEEK, BUT MAYBE NOT!


John Nolan who can be a bit opinionated as it concerns tradition, wrote something very sensible and true in my previous post on this topic:

"Yes, the OF has a lot to answer for. The Propers of the Vigil Mass - Hodie scietis (IN & GR), Crastina die (ALL), Tollite portas (OFF), Revelabitur gloria Domini (COMM) - still have the message of Advent. But hey, let's put on white vestments, throw in all the bells and whistles, not to mention Christmas carols, and do it at four o'clock on Christmas Eve, so people can get on with celebrating the Day of Universal Excess without being distracted by the idea that Our Lord's birthday has anything to do with it."

These are the same liturgical reformers who insisted that the Vigil and first Mass of Easter be 'restored' to their 'original' times, so they're not even being consistent.


My "what to do, what to do, Oh, what to do?" conundrum post, which so many seem to miss, is also about the times we begin to celebrate Mass. I brought the subject up of moving Christmas Eve to a day earlier with the tendentious PI at the Red Lobster for lunch on Christmas Eve. I suggested that because of the proliferation of "vigil Masses" for Christmas on Christmas Eve, some starting at 4:00 PM (if not earlier) and ours here at 4:30 PM (and the most heavily attended) that Christmas Day had been transferred defacto to Christmas Eve and that the day before Christmas Eve has actually become Christmas Eve.

Whose fault is this? The Vatican who allowed bishops to institute Vigil Masses which fulfilled the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation and this liberalization began in the dreaded and most corrupt period of the recent history of the Church in the 1960's. That should tell us something right there!

The "bill of goods" we were sold in the 1960's about "Vigil Mass" fulfilling one's Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation Mass was that it was for people who could not get to the Mass on the actual day, like Sunday or the day of the Obligatory Mass. At first, these Masses were late in the evening of Saturday or the day before the Obligatory Mass. Most started at 7:00 PM if not a bit later.

But slowly but surely, people forgot that Vigils which could satisfy one's obligation to attend Mass, was only for those who couldn't go on the actual day and more and more people went to the vigils, primarily older people who didn't want to be bothered with Church on Sunday morning. That's a good reason not to go to Mass on Sunday, he said tongue in cheek.

And then priests decided they didn't like Mass so late in the evening of vigils (and these were interfering with brides who wanted night weddings) and started putting them earlier, like at 6:30 PM, then to 6:00 PM, then to 5:30 PM, then to 5:00 PM, then to 4:30 PM and then to 4:00 PM and in some places I hear that one can fulfill one's Sunday obligation by going on Saturday at noon!

Now don't get me wrong. I am not entirely opposed to Vigil Masses but these need to be reigned in and by the only people who can reign them in the bishops! Priests can do it locally, but that makes the priest idiosyncratic. The best solution is a top down solution from the Vatican as they did it when they imposed Vigil Masses as an option but with some codicils. Or perhaps this might be something decided by National Conferences of Bishops to make them feel important?

Bishops in this country and I think it was decided by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops about 15 years ago, enforce the time when the Easter Vigil is celebrated. It cannot be celebrated before sundown. That usually means no earlier than 8 PM. Of course the sundown rule would work against what I am writing because in some parts of the world sundown at the start of winter is around 4 pm if not earlier.

So my recommendation, my plead to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops is to take back Christmas Eve as Christmas Eve and stop making December 23rd the defacto Christmas Eve and return Christmas Day to its proper date of December 25th, since defacto it is now December 24th for most Catholics! Whose fault is that? The bishops of course!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

BREAKING NEWS! POPE FRANCIS, SO SAYS CBS EVENING NEWS, IS BASICALLY AS CONSERVATIVE AS HIS PREDECESSORS!


But in covering the Holy Father being named Time's Person of the Year, the CBS Evening News gets someone who is interviewed to state that he is a moderate, not pleasing either extremes in the Church, progressive or conservative:




WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO? OH, WHAT TO DO ABOUT CHRISTMAS VIGIL AND NIGHT MASSES?



We put all our energy and resources into our two Christmas Vigil Masses and our Midnight Mass. The two we have in the morning of Christmas Day, the Mass at Dawn and the Mass during the Day are simple, with only organist and cantor, no incense. The night ones have the full array of "high church" features.

Our 4:30 PM Mass is the most crowded, standing room only and into the small vestibule we have, and it is also the most Catholic, meaning we don't have as many Protestant visitors that we have at the Midnight Mass, where Protestants for generations in the south have a tradition of attending Midnight Mass in Catholic Churches; odd but true. (Today most Protestant Churches have Christmas Eve services, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon and is curtailing our Protestants coming to us! What's up with that?)

But in terms of liturgical resources, we put most of that into the Midnight Mass. There is a 45 minute Carol Prelude to the Midnight Mass sung by both the choir and congregation. We have a larger than usual choir for the Midnight Mass which practices for it for weeks prior. We have the most "bling" at this Mass too, with hoards of altar servers with torches, lots of incense and the chanting of the Kyrie in the pre-Vatican II way in Greek and the Gloria in Latin (all else in English). And we celebrate the Midnight Mass ad orientem. But about a little less than half are Protestants or non practicing Catholics!

The 4:30 PM Mass which is the most crowded, the most Catholic and the most practicing only has an organist and cantor, but also trumpet and tympani which adds some zest and solemnity. Should we have the reverse, meaning the Midnight Mass Choir at the early one and just a cantor and organist, with trumpet and tympani at the Midnight Mass?

What do you think?

BLAH AND DRAB OR REGAL AND BLING? DOES IT HAVE TO BE EITHER/OR RATHER THAN BOTH/AND


The apparel of both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict  does seem to convey their own sense of personal taste and/or personality but also a different theology of the papacy or differing aspects that could find parallels in the differences in high and low Christology (and perhaps an either/or approach rather than a both/and). Also Benedict’s tastes certainly are reminiscent of the more regal and monarchical metaphors pointing to the Kingdom of heaven (what some would derisively call bling) and and what some would call Francis’ blah or drab tastes more in keeping with the metaphor of Kingdom of heaven found in a manger.

Another way of describing this would be the dichotomy between low church/high church Anglicanism for better or worse. Certainly from the populist perspective Francis’ more down to earth style, tastes and lifestyle speaks to our casual popular culture. His style could be the Catholic "dressed down" version of popular Protestant evangelists preaching from a stool in jeans and open collar shirt or a tee shirt with some kind of slogan on it.
 
Another metaphor to describe Pope Francis appeal is the dichotomy between the pianist and the motorcyclist and those one normally associates with being more artistic or more athletic. One is less macho and one is more macho and I think this pope is of the macho heritage of his South American culture rather than the artsy culture of Bavaria! And of course the artsy and athletic metaphors also bespeak of sexuality issues for many, either positive or prejudicial.  

At any rate, from the populist point of view, it seems that the masses (no pun intended) are flocking to see this more down-to-earth pope in Pope Francis compared to Pope Benedict who had big crowds but not like Pope Francis.

And it isn't just how Pope Francis dresses that seems to attract so many more people, especially those who are not "artsy" but how he speaks, even with imprecise, confusing messages. But one thing is very clear, the love of God for sinners. This is very attractive to a world which needs to know about their need for Mercy and God's willingness to offer it in Jesus Christ.