Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Saint Joseph's Ordinary Form Mass with everything sung, priest and congregation parts included!
St. Joseph's Easter Sunday Latin Sung High Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Every part of it was sung by the schola/congregation and by me the priest! And we did a darn good job at it!

Below is the formal presentation that Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth gave to the Southeastern Liturgical Music Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia, on the topic of "Towards the Future – Singing the Mass."

It took me about 20 years into my ordination, around 2000 to realize that the Mass I was celebrating was not the way the Mass, at least the Sung Mass, should be celebrated. Sure, all the congregational parts were sung and we had hymns for the procession, offertory, communion and recession. It was not until we began a Sung Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form, facing the congregation, at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta, GA, that I realized that we were actually singing the Mass for the first time. Our organist and music director Dr. Janet Hunt, FAGO, formed a men's schola for this once a month Latin High Mass. It was sung in pure Gregorian Chant, including the Introit, offertory, and Communion antiphons. A Latin motet was sung at the offertory and another Latin motet at the Communion. I chanted all my parts, including the "Sign of the Cross, greetings, preface dialogue and preface and collects. I found the Gregorian Chant to be a marvelous experience of truly entering into the spiritual aspect of the Mass.

After I arrived in Macon in 2004, I missed the Latin Mass. Then in 2007 Pope Benedict allowed for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I charged our music director and organist, Ms. Nelda Chapman to form a men's schola to sing the Gregorian chant parts of this Mass. Once again, we're singing the Mass and I'm doing my part, but now with the EF Mass, I've learned the more archaic note delineation for the preface that is in the 1962 missal. We are singing the Mass, not just singing songs at the Mass.

Below, Msgr. Wadsworth said that in the typical pre-Vatican II parish, the Sung High Mass was not the norm but only celebrated for special events. Most Masses were low Masses, meaning none of the parts of the Mass were sung, but vernacular hymns only at the entrance, offertory, communion and recessional. This four hymn construct was carried over into the reformed Mass after Vatican II. However, I think that most parishes today sing the Mass, except for the official antiphons and the priest's parts. So I'm not sure I agree with him altogether.

I'm not sure I agree with him either that in pre-Vatican II parishes that only low Masses were offered. At least in the south, I think there was one high Mass every Sunday with choir that sang all the parts. I could be wrong and those of you out there who can remember please let me know. I know that as I child, my father took us to the 8:00 AM low Mass every Sunday. But I also remember that our parish, St. Joseph in Augusta, had a 10:00 AM High Mass every Sunday with choir, because I remember going to it occasionally.

Does anyone know what the practice was in their parish prior to Vatican II?

And what about singing the whole Mass, priest and congregation parts to include also the official introit, offertory, and Communion antiphon but with an English chant in the Ordinary Form? We do it here (minus the official introit and offertory) every Sunday at our 9:30 AM and 12:10 PM Masses. Fr. Justin and I sing our parts and all of them and I think somewhat well, without trying to be a braggart.
Towards the Future: Singing the Mass by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth

Sunday, August 29, 2010


The Hermeneutic of Continuity Blog has this to say about comments concerning a new book on Pope Benedict's Papacy: (my take on it is below this)

Attacco a Ratzinger identifies three ingredients to the various PR crises that have faced Pope Benedict:

* The media taking particular quotations out of context and writing or broadcasting inflammatory copy
* Catholics (including priests and bishops) who are hostile to the Holy Father
* The weakness of the response of the media operation of the Holy See

In the case of Summorum Pontificum, Massimo Introvigne notes:

What is at stake, as the authors justly note [...] is not only the liturgy but the interpretation of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II. Those who oppose the motu proprio defend the hegemony of that interpretation of Vatican II, in terms of discontinuity and rupture with the whole of the preceding Tradition, which Benedict XVI has tried in many ways to correct and undermine.

Massimo Introvigne points out that the various secularist lobbies against Pope Benedict have enjoyed particular success because they have been able to enroll liberal progressive Catholics; as he explains:

Interviews with progressive Catholics allow the media to represent their secularist propaganda not as anti-Catholic, but as a support against the reactionary pope who wants to "abolish the council," who is challenging its alleged "spirit", since the text of the documents of the council is not even known by anti-Catholic journalists and is considered irrelevant by their "Adult Catholic" fellow travelers.

Both Massimo Introvigne and John Allen highlight the way in which Attacco a Ratzinger has placed a spotlight on the failure of those who should be assisting the Holy Father to respond adequately to the dramatic changes in communication of recent years. The development of the internet through a combination of social networking and handheld devices has reduced response times to minutes. The Holy Father himself seems to be more clued-up about this than many of his experts.

My comments:

For the past 2000 years, being a Catholic has been interesting. The governance of the Church has always intrigued the world. Today, however, because of the internet and instant communication, we have inside knowledge of the Church in a way that was not possible even ten years ago. The Book, Attacco a Ratzinger evidently hits the nail square on the head as it concerns Pope Benedict on three points:

#1 The liberal media and those in the world promoting a purely secularized world view hate this pope. Pope Benedict wants to "re-Christianize" Europe which has become the most secular of all continents. All of this has to do with sex: abortion, birth control, condoms, same sex marriage, women bishops, priests, deacons and shunting religion to the private sphere and out of the public and political square. To those who want all religion out of the world of politics, policy and law, the Catholic Church and perhaps Islam are the greatest threats. Catholicism with it moral power and Islam with its radical element of violence against those who oppose its ideologies. Thus you have the main stream liberal media bashing Pope Benedict every chance they get. The sex abuse crisis has given them what they think is the Church's Achilles heal and they have exploited it in a pit bull fashion.

#2 The progressive element of the Catholic Church, especially those in academia, hate Pope Benedict for what he did to them while he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He dared to called to accountability theologians promoting theologies at odds with Catholic doctrine. Oddly enough, these theologians, such as Kung and others, used their position as official theologians with a perceived Church authority, in a different characteristic of clericalism which comes in two forms, that of being a priest and an academic theoglogian, to lead people astray through theologies not approved by the Church or in fact opposed to the Tradition of the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger called them to accountability and exposed their abuses. There is a connection between this kind of priestly and academic "clericalism" and priests who use their status accorded them of power, respect and honor to abuse their parishioners. The unsuspecting put their trust in them because they are priests and the abusing priests take advantage of the carte blanche trust accorded to them in varying degrees of evil against children, teenagers and adults. In dissenting Catholic theologians, the abuse is much more academic and thrives in an atmosphere of little or no accountability. Cardinal Ratzinger turned the cart over on that clericalism as he has on sex abuse clericalism. Related to number one, the liberal media uses dissenting Catholics as pawns in their quest to neuter the Church in the public square and undermine her mission to evangelize the world.

Tied to this internal dissent in the Church is Pope Benedict's reform of the Church and understanding of Vatican II within the context of the hermeneutic of continuity within our tradition, not rupture from it. The pope's allowance of the more liberal celebration of the Mass as it was before it was reformed after Vatican II and the stricter control the Vatican has taken over the reform of the Mass reformed after Vatican II, such as new translations of the Roman Missal in English and other languages, has angered a significant element in the Church, mostly Catholics, both clergy and laity now aging in their 60's and older, those who spearheaded the dismantling of traditional Catholicism in the 1960's and 70's based upon the hermeneutic of discontinuity.

#3 Pope Benedict is not served well by those who serve him, especially high ranking cardinals and bishops but also the public relations office of the Vatican. Here, the administration of the Vatican seems out of touch with the internet, the instant nature of news today and assisting the Holy Father in using the new media to the Church's advantage especially during a crisis. In fact, there may be those in the administration of the Vatican who wish ill on Pope Benedict because of his mission to bring Vatican II and the Church's ongoing reform into the hermeneutic of continuity not rupture.

While the specifics of what I write in the three categories above are different, there really isn't much new under the sun as it concerns the Church or even Jesus Christ in his public ministry. There will always be hostility to the Church, to God, to Jesus Christ and even the "smoke of Satan" will filter into God's Holy Church. Why should the current pope be any different?

#1 Jesus had to contend with the world and Satan. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to liquidate Jesus because of His hermeneutic of truth, not too much different than the secularists of today.

#2. Jesus had to contend with those who followed Him, but misunderstood Him or found Him altogether too much for them. Some of the greatest opposition came from those who could not stomach Jesus' teaching on the nature of the Last Supper (the first Mass) and that in order to live eternally, one must eat and drink of the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ. There was dissent already amongst those who followed Jesus.

#3 Jesus was not well served by the very 12 men, His apostles, who were meant to support Him in is public ministry, his administration, so to speak. What was Jesus thinking when he chose fishermen who had little or no formal education, made Peter the head of the Apostles when he would eventually deny Jesus three times and selected Judas who would betray him and then commit suicide? I suspect if Jesus had to contend with the media as it is today, the media would have had a heyday with it all. On top of that, Jesus is so inept He gets crucified, dies and is buried. But we know the rest of the story, not only for Jesus, but for the Church and all of us who remain faithful despite the set backs. This is Pope Benedict's faith and hope also

Your thoughts?

Saturday, August 28, 2010


This weekend we are showing during the homily time, our homemade video on stewardship. I will post it as soon as I can sometime this week. But enjoy last year's video. It is excellent and created by our parishioners, Lovell Miguel. He created this year's too and it is even better!

Discipleship Through Stewardship 2009 from stjosephmacon on Vimeo.


Well, this sad saga continues. Last night at about 11:00 my parochial vicar, Fr. Justin went to the kitchen to get a snack. He went into a walk-in pantry and was rooting about. After about a minute, he noticed something moving rather quickly on the third shelf, about five feet from the floor. He turned toward it, only to have one of our rats jump toward him to get to the floor and escape. He (the rat, not Fr. Justin) had opened a package of cereal or something and was storing some of it in the corner of this shelf. Fr. Justin threw a full bag of sugar at it, but it got away.

Never mind, that the night before I had put two small potato chips in the middle of the kitchen floor to see if the rat was still around and he ate them (the rat, not Fr. Justin, at least I don't think Fr. Justin ate them). So last night I put two potato chips in the same place, but on a sticky board for him to get stuck and die like a rat, (the rat, not Fr. Justin). But no, the rat does not take the bait! Traps galore, but he's too smart (the rat, not Fr. Justin).

We've named this rat "Ben" and if there is an accomplice, the other one "Sacrotees."

Fr. Justin now says he's afraid to go to the kitchen (Fr. Justin, not the rat). So am I! What to do; what to do????????

I don't think a cat will help with this, just a match!

Friday, August 27, 2010


National Catholic Reporter, John Allen, has a rather lengthy review of a book by two Italians on the various dramas of Pope Benedict's papacy. You might get angry at some of the stuff, but I'm afraid the Vatican is its own worst enemy in all of this. I've always thought that John Allen would make a good and credible Vatican spokesman, others would say it would be one more mistake in Pope Benedict's papacy.

The part of the article I like the most concerns Pope Benedict's controversial condom answer on his way to Africa and that condoms made the scourge of AIDS even worse. In a sense the book offers an good defense for the pope's remarks, if only the Holy Father had followed the advice.



How "Gather Us In" would look and sound in Latin:

"Gather Us In" is one of those trendy type of hymns we get every once in a while. Like "Be Not Afraid" it is very easy to sing, thus very popular. The Latin version is really cool. We'll sing it this Sunday this way!


Father George Rutler has a great writing style and uses words in the most eloquent of ways. His article in First Things is long, but well worth reading. It's about the new English translation of the Mass, liturgists, ad orientem worship and the like.


I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

You are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church!

Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit! (Confirmation)

The Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ, the completion of God's initiation of the person into His Church.

St. Joseph Church is blessed with a wonderful Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) team and ministry. We have an on-going inquiry phase that begins meeting after the "Rite of Welcome" in November and continues through the summer months. The current group will begin THE more formal inquiry phase beginning next Thursday.

I always find it exciting to work with our inquirers and see them progress in the grace of conversion that God makes possible for them through His Church.

The RCIA makes the grace of God's call to individuals to be members of his Church public and visible. Once the inquirers are welcomed as catechumens, we dismiss them after the homily at each Sunday Mass. We also celebrate all the other milestones of the RCIA process at Sunday Mass.

For those who have been "unofficial" inquirers, meaning they are connected to the Catholic Church through a spouse or a friend and have been attending for a lengthy period of time, I meet personally with them. If they have a strong Christian background and have been worshiping with us for years, there is no need for them to go through what non-baptized inquirers do. It might only take a few private meetings with me and we receive them into the Church at a Sunday Mass.

But other Christians who come to us, although they are strong in their denominational formation and belief, benefit from the RCIA and the amount of time it takes. It helps them to breathe Catholic air. For these Christians we use the "combined rites" for the RCIA, always making distinctions between those who are "baptized" and thus called "candidates" and those who are not baptized who are called "catechumens" once they have made that liturgical step out of the inquiry stage.

How has the RCIA process in your parish assisted you in your own faith? Have you chosen to be a part of an RCIA team or to be a sponsor? The best thing from my perspective about the RCIA is that it involves more people in assisting inquirers to experience God's grace of conversion. It's not just the priest and the person, but many people including the priest. What are your thoughts?


Yes, I know this is disgusting, but it being alive in my house is more disgusting!

We're still battling a rat infestation in the rectory. I think there is one left out of five, four having succumbed to a rat trap behind our kitchen stove. This fifth rat is elusive and evidently very smart. He or she has walked into the kitchen twice while I was there. So I have images of it in my mind every time I go to the kitchen and when I go to bed.

To make matters worse, my bedroom and sitting room which are on the third floor of the rectory has had visitors too! I had to move some furniture two nights ago and discovered hardened rat droppings in two locations. One location was directly underneath my recliner. This has not gone well for my psychological state of mind, especially at bed time and during the night.

Part of the problem with the rats is that we did some construction on the third floor renovating a suite, adding a new bathroom and totally renovating another, which exposed the rectory to open walls and floor joists. The workers discovered an old, but large rat's nest underneath the tub that was removed. This tub's plumbing works are accessed through a door in my sitting room's closet. Plumbers worked on the plumbing from that closet while I was away and left the door open allowing any rats that lived in the wall to enter my room. I'm hoping that the hardened rat droppings occurred while I was away on vacation during construction.

However in our kitchen we have three rat traps and two sticky pads. But this fifth rat is too smart to fall for these. We've seen no droppings in the kitchen and the exterminator told us that if the rat can't find food, more than likely he's moved out. I didn't buy it.

Last night I left two small potato chips in the middle of the kitchen floor to see if they would be gone in the morning at 4:30 am when I go down for breakfast. Yep! they were gone this morning! All the traps though, untouched.

I put two potato chips on the sticky trap. Let's see if he falls for it. My brothers and sisters this is war. But on the psychological front, the rat has won! I've told Fr. Justin that if I actually see a rat in my room at night, that we're moving out until we can be assured that the rat problem is ended. I've never been in such a situation as this.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Even Jesus and the Word of God have a sense of humor guys, loosen up!

The post below this one, "To veil or not to veil" was a tongue in cheek post about veiling the chalice, not about nuns or laity wearing veils, although the comment section has some good points on this! The give away, after what I thought was a brilliant leading you down the garden path to the slaughter, is the link that I insist you press! I was referring to chalice veils throughout the article, not nun's or sister's veils! PRESS HEAR TO SEE WHAT I WAS WRITING ABOUT! What a hoot!

But speaking of sister's veils, Harvard Valedictorian, Mary Anne Marks, is joining a wonderful and booming religious order which, by the way, wears a full habit and the veil. It is the same order that Oprah showcased in the most pleasant way earlier this year. Read about Mary Anne Mark's story by PRESSING HERE!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Sister Angela in my second grade class (1962) pointing out where the Vatican is and all the bishops of the world at Vatican II. She taught us that the veil might be eliminated as well as Latin and other customs to make the Church more modern.And as you can imagine, that pointer sister is using doubled for something else not too pleasant and I'm sure glad Vatican II outlawed it! Please notice that all the children have their knuckles under the table for protection!

I know that I am walking on thin ice with many people, women in particular, when I say I am in favor of the veil. To some, that's like throwing a bomb into the "spirit of Vatican II." And it does go against the grain! I was in London recently and one topic of great controversy was about Muslim women wearing the veil in public, the veils that cover them totally, much like the old habits of nuns and sisters. There is a move in England to outlaw the veil and also in France. So for me to suggest that the veil should be used and in public is a great threat to many people, especially those who think it is a throw back to pre-Vatican II days.

But in Eastern Orthodoxy, the bishop wears a veil. There is no move to make it optional or to ban it outright! But here I go again, advocating for tradition and I know I will have my detractors and those who won't even read much further than this. So be it. It's their loss, not mine!

When I was a small child growing up in the Church, I liked the veil. The veil added mystery and was unique. I often wondered what was under the veil. Many now don't veil and the mystery is gone. I think the veil adds something. It gives some elegance when it is used properly. Others say it adds authority and continuity with the traditions of the past.

I can remember being in parochial school as Vatican II began. Sister Angela who taught us religion in the second grade and was a Sister of St. Joseph of Corondelet and wore their very beautiful and elegant habit, would tell us about the goings on at Vatican II. She taught us that Vatican II would modernize the Church and that there was talk about doing away with many customs and traditions that don't fit in our modern society any more like Latin and the veil. She said the veil might not be needed anymore. She said she would miss it.

Some people despise the veil. They say it is a throw back to earlier times, but not what should be used today. We're modern and and using the veil does not speak to the world of modernity. It turns modern people off.

But in some places the veil is making a come back. In those places, where tradition, daily Mass and strong devotions are present, there is an abundance of vocations with young people entering. I think it has something to do with the veil and all that surrounds its use.

In fact I know of someone who recently went back to using the veil. There are some negative comments about it. But mostly people have been positive about the veil. They like seeing the veil. They ask why not use it? It touches the heart more than the intellect and certainly makes for more public visibility and discussion.

What do you think? Do you like the veil or not? Will the veil help with vocations?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I saw an article on Extraordinary Minsters of Holy Communion in the London Telegraph. The reporter wasn't too keen on the use of them. I didn't agree with all of his sentiments but I do have my own take on it.

I think it is wonderful to have laity who are able to bring Holy Communion to the sick and home bound. They need to be trained not only in the reverence required of such an awesome ministry but also how to visit the sick and be pastorally sensitive and professional. It is a great blessing for the home bound and sick to be able to receive Holy Communion frequently. If only priests and deacons could do this, most home bound would be able to receive only monthly if at that.

In terms of the Mass, it is wonderful that the laity can assist in this fashion when there is truly a need. But I have changed my attitude from the liberal use of EM's to a more modified form of it during Mass. You may or may not agree with me.

When our bishop asked parishes to cease having the common chalice at Mass due to H1N1 concerns, I saw something rather marvelous. In the past we would have at least six, sometimes eight EM's come forward at the Sign of Peace. Usually some who were scheduled did not show up. This meant that others in the congregation would have to crane their necks to see if they were needed, thus distracting them at this point in the Mass and creating some confusion when too many came forward to replace the ones that didn't show up. The process of giving all the EM's their Holy Communion was more cumbersome too.

When we only need two EM's for Mass, these always show up, and it is very simple to give them Holy Communion and for us to go and distribute Holy Communion. It is more prayerful and less chaotic.

When the bishop asked that we stop offering the common chalice (we had six chalice stations)it was the first time that anyone officially acknowledged that there is a possibility of contracting a virus or some other virulent germ from the common cup. In fact most of us know that if the Catholic Mass came under the laws of the state in terms of the consumption of "food and drink" in an establishment, that the Church would be shut down for our relatively recent practice of the common chalice with up to 40 people drinking from the same cup. It is not sanitary and in the eyes of state law could create a health risk for those who do it.

Apart from the laity contracting a disease or illness from the common chalice, the priest, deacon or instituted acolyte who alone may cleanse and purify the chalices must first consume what remains of the precious blood and whatever saliva it contains, then place water into the chalice that some 40 people have shared, consume that and then thoroughly wash the chalice (hopefully).

I cannot in good conscience do it myself or ask any other poor soul, deacon or acolyte to do it. In fact a permanent deacon not far from here who is a medical doctor of the colon, contracted a bacteria that lodged in his colon and nearly killed him. He firmly believes that he contracted the bacteria from the chalices used for common sharing that he meticulously and properly cleanses after Mass according to the norms of the liturgy.

I have not returned the parish to the common chalice. I cannot in good conscience for health concerns.

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, I did experiment with intinction. I reminded our congregation that if they desired to receive an intincted host that they could not do so by receiving in the hand but must receive on the tongue. If they chose to receive in the hand, they would not receive an intincted host. Nearly 98% of those receiving from me received an intincted host. For many it was the first time in years that they had received on the tongue. I asked for comments after Mass and everyone was very positive about this method of distribution and hoped we would establish it regularly. They felt it much more sanitary too.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Their church building in Cleveland, Ohio closed by their bishop. How would you feel?

Mass in their temporary gathering space, does this look progressive to you?

Schism in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio! The bishop of that diocese had the monumental and unenviable task of closing and consolidating parishes in his city/diocese. One parish, a rather progressive, liberal one, St. Peter's has gone into schism with the Church. This schism is led by its pastor with support of parishioners who love him and love the parish he created with them. READ ABOUT IT BY PRESSING HERE!

What's fascinating to me is that liberals usually are all over the place and cannot organize in any fashion to create any real or lasting schism. Ultra-conservatives, on the other hand, know how to go into schism and pull it off. Think of Archbishop Marcel Lefebre's schism. He knew what he was doing and had a personality that led millions of others into his schismatic sect. Conservatives know how to unify! This can be both a blessing and a curse. But I digress.

The parish I was assigned to in Augusta in 1991, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity,was amalgamated with two other parishes in 1970, an all black parish, Immaculate Conception and and all white one, Sacred Heart Church. The three downtown parishes were in close proximity to one another and there was no longer a need for three downtown parishes since most of the Catholics has moved to the suburbs and new parishes created there. As one can imagine, the two churches that were closed caused great pain for parishioners involved. Some refused to attend Most Holy Trinity and moved to suburban parishes, other stopped attending Mass altogether and still others left the Catholic Church for other Protestant Churches. However, no priest or parishioners went into schism with the Catholic Church setting up an "independent Catholic parish" such as the priests and his groupies, I mean, parishioners in Cleavland.

Sacred Heart Church in Augusta is a "sister" to St. Joseph in Macon, conceived by the same Jesuit brother who also conceived Sacred Heart Church in Tampa and the destroy Sacred Heart Church in Galveston, Texas. All his churches are simply jewels!

What would you do if your historic, much loved Church were closed by the bishop? How would that affect your Catholic faith and participation. If you had a charismatic priest who was willing to rebel and defy his bishop and the Church, would you follow him blindly. Is the "cult of the priest's personality" that powerful in Catholic lives?

I would like to make a comparison. Clericalism, that is, priests who think they are above the law, either church law or civil law and think they compose a caste in the Church superior to anyone else is a grave sin. It has contributed to Catholics believing that their priests are above reproach, are divinely inspired in all their action and trustworthy in all things. Some rogue, derelict and perverted priests have taken advantage of parishioners naivete in this regard by abusing their authority and status. This has led to children, teenagers and adults being sexually and otherwise abused and the crisis we now experience today in terms of Catholic credibility.

Some lay Catholics place their priests so high on a pedestal and make them icons of their lives that they are devastated when they learn that "their" special priest may have committed heinous crimes and sins in their past by using the status accorded to them to take advantage of the unsuspecting.

I believe that the priest in Cleveland who has led his parish into schism has abused his position, taken advantage of his parishioners and his parishioners, so enamored with that priest's abilities, skills and rebellious attitude, have followed him much like so many others who follow cult leaders. It is a shame!

I would hate seeing any parish closed. If I were a lay person I don't think I would ever follow any priest or lay person out of the Catholic Church, at least I hope I wouldn't. What about you?


Augusta's closed Sacred Heart Church

Sacred Heart's "sister" St. Joseph Church, Macon. How would you feel if the bishop closed it?

Interior of St. Joseph which is more elegant than closed Sacred Heart, don't you think?

Interior of Augusta's closed Sacred Heart Church, now a cultural center for receptions!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I took this picture in the town square of Knock, it is a statue of Christ the King!

I took this picture where the apparition actually took place, which is behind the small parish Church. Today it is enclosed and the small parish church still exists!

I took this picture a month ago today at the Shrine and attend Mass in the afternoon!

On the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper to the parish priest of Knock, County Mayo, ireland, was astonished to see the outside south wall of the church bathed in a mysterious light; there were three figures standing in front of the wall, which she mistook for replacements of the stone figures destroyed in a storm. She rushed through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne's house.

After a half hour Mary decided to leave and Margaret's sister Mary agreed to walk home with her. As they passed the church they saw and amazing vision very clearly: Standing out from the gable and to the west of it appeared the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. The figure of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, while the others seemed to be neither as large nor as tall. They stood a little away from the gable wall about two feet from the ground. The Virgin was erect with her eyes toward Heaven, and she was wearing a large white cloak hanging in full folds; on her head was a large crown.

Mary Byrne ran to tell her family while Mary McLoughlin gazed at the apparition. Soon a crowd gathered and all saw the apparition. The parish priest, Archdeacon Cavanaugh, did not come out, however, and his absence was a disappointment to the devout villagers. Among the witnesses were Patrick Hill and John Curry. As Patrick later described the scene: 'The figures were fully rounded, as if they had a body and life. They did not speak but, as we drew near, they retreated a little towards the wall.' Patrick reported that he got close enough to make out the words in the book held by the figure of St. John.

An old woman named Bridget trench drew closer to embrace the feet of the Virgin, but the figure seemed always beyond reach. Others out in the fields and some distance away saw a strange light around the church. The vision lasted for about three hours and then faded.

The next day a group of villagers went to see the priest, who accepted the their report as genuine; he wrote to the diocesan Bishop of Tuam; then the Church set up a commission to interview a number of the people claiming to witness the apparition. The diocesan hierarchy was not convinced, and some members of the commission ridiculed the visionaries, alleging they were victims of a hoax perpetrated by the local Protestant constable! But the ordinary people were not so skeptical, and the first pilgrimages to knock began in 1880. Two years later Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto made a visit to the parish and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock.

In due course many of the witnesses died. But Mary Byrne married, raised six children, living her entire life in Knock. When interviewed again in 1963 at the age of eighty-six, her account did not vary from the first report she gave in 1879.

The village of Knock was transformed by the thousands who came to commemorate the vision and to ask for healing for others and themselves. The local church was too small to accommodate the crowds. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected. It holds more than two thousand and needs to, for each year more than a half million visitors arrive to pay their respects to the Blessed Virgin.

The Church approved the the apparition in 1971 as being quite probable, although it has never been formally stated. The Shrine at Knock is opened year round. In 1994 three life-sized statues were erected of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John.


I can't remember if it was Laugh-in or The Flip Wilson Show, but there was an on-going skit called, "Here Comes the Judge! Here Comes the Judge!" Well, finally, we can say about the new English translation: Here Comes the Mass! Here Comes the Mass!

What's interesting is that what many people thought was the final version of the re-translated English Mass and even posted on the USCCB's website, was in fact not the final version. Even after the bishops and the Vatican gave the final approval, some tweaking still took place. Some found the "arbitrary" tweaking, without things going back to committee or national conferences of bishops, very disturbing. I guess they don't have better things to worry about.

At any rate, you can compare some of the final changes from this link from the blog "Praytell." PRESS HERE! PRESS HERE!


Friday, August 20, 2010


The Basilica of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Atlanta! Congratulations!!!!!

The "Basilica" of the Most Holy Trinity, Augusta, GA

"Basilica" of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Macon

Sacred Heart Church in downtown Atlanta has been named a minor basilica! Congratulations to the pastor, the parish, the Archbishop who supported the cause, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who approved it and the Vatican which named it. You can read about it by pressing here!

When I was pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown Augusta,(1991-2004) which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, I wanted to have our "new" Church with construction begun in 1857 and completed and paid for in 1863 during the height of the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression, whichever you prefer, named a minor basilica. The parish, which was very eager and willing to do all the hard work to present to the USCCB was thwarted in its grand plans. I won't go into the sad details.

The Second Bishop of Savannah, Bishop John Barry, who was pastor of the parish for more than 30 years and named the Bishop of Savannah and later laid the cornerstone for the new Church, but died before it was completed, had hoped to make the Church of the Most Holy Trinity the new Cathedral of the Diocese since Savannah was a hotbed for yellow fever, misery and death! His plans did not come to fruition. He is interred in an above ground tomb in the crypt of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity with about 12 other priests.

Compared to Sacred Heart Basilica, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity is older, grander and with a more colorful history spanning being a part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore at its founding, then later the Diocese of Charleston and finally the Diocese of Savannah. It could have been the Cathedral of the Diocese of Augusta! So sad!

And while I'm writing, St. Joseph Church in Macon is a good candidate for "basilicaship" too, although its history is not as storied as the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. It's architecture is grander and certainly significant for the area in which it was built. Maybe one day there will be support for two basilcas, if not three, if the Cathedral in Savannah applied for it, in our diocese. Time will tell!

Maybe one day I can answer the telephone at the Basilica of Saint Joseph in Macon by simply saying, "Basilica!" Oh what a happy day that will be!
Saint Joseph Church interior

Basilica of the Sacred Heart interior

Church of the Most Holy Trinity Interior



The word from Msgr. Guido Marini, papal master of ceremonies, is that the new English translation of the Gloria will be sung at the Papal Mass in England as well as some other newly translated parts of the congregation.

This is good news. I've been advocating for a long time that bishops allow pastors of parishes to prepare people for their new parts, already approved by the Vatican, as soon as possible. I know that it would not take much for my parish to receive these and to start singing and saying them with gusto!

For some reason, bishops think these parts need to be implemented all at once throughout the diocese. I recommend a more piecemeal fashion with a final date in which the entire diocese must be on board.

As I recall, when the new order of the Mass was implemented in the mid 1960's, some parishes implemented it more quickly than others. I see no reason why the new English translation couldn't be implement now in parishes that have known about what is coming for the past three years, like mine!

I recommend that we be allowed to implement the greetings, preface dialogue, Confiteor and revised Penitential Rite, Gloria, Credo and Sanctus even now.

For some reason, many bishops and priests think that the laity are too rigid to accept these changes without a lot of moaning and protesting. Evidently they don't have a very high regard for the laity and their flexibility. What do you think?


Thursday, August 19, 2010


The politics of same sex marriage has turned ugly. Those Christians and others who belong to other world religions that acknowledge that marriage is between one man and one woman and thus beneficial for the well being of society, the rearing of children and the stability of cultures, are being marginalized as bigots and being opposed to basic human rights, the right to marry whomever one wants even if they are of the same sex.

Those who want religion out of politics, law and legislation say that religious beliefs about marriage and the nature of sex is a private matter that should not be brought to the public square or shape judicial and legislative processes and laws. In some places, just saying out loud that two homosexual persons should not be allowed to marry and that homosexual sex is a sin could be classified as "hate" speech resulting in a fine or jail time.

So what's a practicing, believing Catholic to do?

First we must acknowledge that homosexual persons or persons with homosexual tendencies have been discriminated against, marginalized, hated and persecuted. This has occurred at the hands of Catholics, other Christians and people of other religions. We all know the words that are used in a derogatory way directed against homosexuals. It is no wonder there is a backlash against this sort of thing and a mentality of trying to get even.

Second,Catholic teaching is built on love and respect even for those who do not uphold our basic beliefs and moral teachings. We do not stone those caught in adultery. We do not imprison women who get pregnant out of wedlock. We do not love our children any less if they masturbate, fornicate or use pornography. Many Catholic parents are very weary of those who hate, mock and persecute their homosexual children and rightfully stand up for the inherent dignity of their child or children.

Catholic teaching does allow for a chaste relationship between two committed homosexual persons. The key here is chaste, no sex. The Church even allows for a "brother and sister" or chaste relationship between two heterosexual Catholics who are married outside of the Church thus allowing them to receive Holy Communion if no scandal is given. The Church's pastoral sensibilities recognizes that stable relationships built upon chaste love are to be preferred to promiscuous lifestyles and multiple partners. Fidelity to a life partner in a loving chaste relationship is permitted by Church teaching for unmarried couples. Others would do well not to become preoccupied or voyeuristic by the relationships that people form that are healthy and happy. Where there is doubt, give them the benefit of the doubt. It's between them and God.

So how do we as Catholics uphold our Catholic teachings on sex and marriage?

1. We teach chastity, meaning no sexual, genital contact of any nature before marriage. This precludes masturbation, the use of pornography, heavy petting, and the like. This applies equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals and those with other disordered desires. We also teach that married couples (man and woman) must remain chaste after marriage, which means fidelity to one's spouse in thought and deed.It means that every sexual act in marriage must be open to the transmission of life although the Church teaches that married people may plan their families naturally, not in a disordered way.

2. We teach that marriage is based upon not only the mandates of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, but also on natural law. Sexual intercourse must be natural and as God intended, i.e. the procreative aspect of sexual intercourse which by nature occurs between a man and woman. Thus acts that are not natural or disordered would include masturbation, oral and anal sex not to mention bestiality. These would be morally wrong and disordered for both homosexual and heterosexual persons.

3. Within natural or "not disordered" sex, any mechanical device, pill, surgery or act that eliminates the pro-creative aspect of sex as God intended it (natural law) would be illicit, immoral and disordered. Natural law also allows for the pleasurable aspect of heterosexual sex, the two aspects of sexual intercourse are parts of natural law between a husband and wife.

4. The Church and thus all Catholics have a mandate to hand on the teachings of the Church in the areas of sex and marriage and to have a voice in the public debate about marriage and laws surrounding it.

5. Marriage is for a lifetime, until "death do you part." It is here that the greatest threat against marriage exists and Catholics would do well to be as energetic as possible in stemming the tide toward divorce and multiple remarriages. This is for the benefit of families, children and the stability of society and the Church.

6. Because of original sin, we are all born "disordered" including our sexual appetites. Some sexual acts are inherently disordered, other sexual acts are natural and of God, in particular procreative and unitive sex between one husband and one wife which is a permanent commitment.

Finally, I recognize that many reading this are freaking out since the official teachings of the Church are difficult, especially in the area of sexuality where hormones sometimes control the mind rather than the intellect. Sometimes full consent of the will in giving into temptation is compromised by hormonal activity and so-called physical needs.These sexual urges could be understood as a part of our fallen and thus "disordered" humanity. It is here that both homosexuals and heterosexuals have recourse to God's Divine Mercy in Jesus Christ and in the Sacrament of Penance. Not all is lost and where we fail, God's sanctifying and actual grace will make up. We all fall short and if not for the grace of God all mankind is lost. Thank God for His grace, His Son, His taking our sin to the cross and for redemption and salvation.

In other words, Catholic sexual morality and the teaching on marriage is not meant to make the sinner who seeks God, His mercy and His grace, neurotic, scrupulous and anxiety and depression ridden. Saying yes to God in what He expects and what the Church teaches is meant to be liberating not oppressive. A healthy understanding of human nature, human imperfection and God's grace, mercy and forgiveness must be at the core of every aspect of our Catholic lives. If one is to obsess on any aspect of Church teaching in the area of sexuality, obsess on mercy and forgiveness. It's more healthy to be scrupulous about mercy and forgiveness rather than sin and damnation! Catholics are to be joy-filled, not shrill, angry and repressed!

Love the sinner, despise the sin.


Looking at the altar:

Looking at the door: