Saturday, April 30, 2011


As some of you may know, shortly after Vatican II all shorts of popular devotions and devotional music were considered passe. All we needed was the Mass. We didn't even need art work in the Church that might distract us from the Mass and its main art, the ambo and altar/table.

Even when priests made home visits, instead of some simple devotional prayer, like the Holy Rosary, prayed with the family, Mass was celebrated on the dinning room table or the coffee table in a very casual way.

Mass was trotted out for everything.

So you can only imagine how progressive theologians, liturgists and others swayed by the iconoclasm of the 1960's felt when Pope John Paul II brought his Polish piety to the Universal Church. He was unabashedly pro-Marian piety, the Holy Rosary, and had a profound devotion to the cult of the saints and canonized more new saints than any other pope.

And then he changed the name of the Second Sunday of Easter and made it Divine Mercy Sunday, based upon the private revelations of a Polish nun named St. Faustina.

Oh the humanity of it all. Aren't iconoclasts sad creatures.

Last year we had a church full for our Divine Mercy Sunday confessions that began at 2:00 PM and the Divine Mercy Chaplet and devotions at 3:00 PM followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Iconoclasts would prefer that the Church be empty on the afternoon of the Second Sunday of Easter rather than people filling the Church because of some Polish nun's private revelation where our Lord told her to promote Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter.

How odd! But you know how iconoclasts are! They're sad.


Blessed John Paul II chastises a Central American priest who leaned too much to the left and toward communistic liberation theology

Pope Benedict preparing to beatify his predecessor on Divine Mercy Sunday 2011

Is this an act of the scandal that is Divine Mercy being applied too liberally? Do we prefer a God of justice and retribution over the God of Divine Mercy and forgiveness? Is this the scandal of the cross?

Blessed John Paul II showing Divine Mercy to a less sinful man than the priest above?

Tomorrow, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope John Paul II will be beatified. He will now be called Blessed John Paul II until he is canonized a saint.

He was a man of immense holiness. People recognized his authenticity in this regard. They saw him as a disciplined man with his heart on fire for Jesus Christ and all people no matter what religion or no religion.

But there are some "doom and gloomers" out there who think he didn't do enough to address the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

It is amazing how short-sighted and bereft of memory so many are. In 1978 when Pope John Paul II was elected, the Catholic Church was in an unprecedented crisis of identity on two levels.

The first level was the crisis of identity of the priesthood itself that contributed to or exacerbated the crisis of Catholic identity of the laity which is the second level of this terrible crisis.

In just thirteen year after the closing of the Second Vatican Council, everything in the Church was up for grabs. A great Catholic culture of many little "t" traditions had been undermined and had all but collapsed. All of these little "t" traditions were very public and ingrained in the psyche of most Catholics.

What are these little "t" traditions? Latin as the official language of the Church and her formal liturgy. Hushed silence in Churches. Tabernacles front and center. Ornate churches. Rectories full of priests. Convents even fuller! Priests who were detached from the lifestyle of the laity. Nuns, monks, sisters, brothers in habits. Catholic schools staffed by religious. Catholic hospitals staffed by religious. Catholic social services staffed by religious. The clergy and religious very clear about their mission, apostolate and identity. Laity very clear about their identity and living their faith at home and in the work place. Marian piety, the Holy Rosary, novenas, Benediction, and religious processions.

These and much more contributed to a powerful Catholic identity.

But within that short 13 year period from the time the Second Vatican Council closed in 1965 and Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978, all of these "little t" traditions were challenged as "pre-Vatican II" and tossed into the trash bin of history. Theologians with a dubious agenda under the banner of the "spirit" of Vatican II exerted more sway and leadership than did the bishops themselves.In fact the bishops followed theologians' creativity and teachings. Priests and religious attending national workshops sponsored by liberal, left-leaning theologians brought home every innovative idea presented and implemented it on the parish level as soon as possible.

These "deconstructionist" practices included ripping out altar railings, forcing people to stand for Holy Communion and to receive in the hand, the multiplication of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, the stripping of ornate churches and altars and placing shabby, cheap accouterments in place of these, guitar Masses and super-creativity in the place of practiced tradition for the liturgy and prayer. Devotions to to the Blessed Virgin Mary was out as well as sacramentals used by Catholics. Friday abstinence was tossed aside and days of fast eliminated, such as ember days.

And then on top of all of that, priests, religious sisters and brothers thought that celibacy would be out. They were influenced and seduced by the sexual revolution of the 1960's and embraced it privately and publicly sometimes. Thousands of priests and nuns married each other which meant they dated each other while they were still in vows.

Every short of sexual innovation came into vogue especially those practices that were considered taboo. Living together without the benefit of marriage started to take root.

Those who had disciplined their abnormal sexual desires believed that the sexual revolution gave them a license to experiment too. This led to priests engaging in sexual relationships with teenagers and boundary violations with others. Bishops overwhelmed or influenced by the spirit of the times looked the other way, abdicated their responsibilities or sadly participated in the free for all. Even pathologically motivated clergy got away with murder sometimes molesting scores of children with out impunity. Sociopaths and the pathologically compulsive in their sexual appetites, while a tiny fraction of the clergy, contributed to thousands of molestations of prepubescent children. However the greatest problem existed with homosexually inclined priests who satisfied their appetites in an unbridled way with adult looking teenagers. While both forms of abuse are abhorrent,especially combined with the Godly authority that the clergy wielded, these are not equal in terms of the pathology.

In other words, Pope John Paul II inherited a mess. But with the help of his closest adviser, Cardinal Ratzinger, he made tremendous inroads in reestablishing a Catholic identity for the laity and for the priesthood and religious life. However, he did not take a punitive approach to aberrant behavior. It wasn't until judgment day began in earnest in the new millennium that more punitive action was to be developed and undertaken. Some believe now that the pendulum may have swung too far in the opposite direction. Time will tell.

It only takes a few moments to let the toothpaste out of the tube. It takes much longer to put it back in. Pope John Paul began the process of putting the toothpaste back in the tube. This most important work continues today with Pope Benedict and will no doubt continue with his successor. The true teachings of the Second Vatican Council are now being espoused. There is also a recognition that not everything the Second Vatican Council taught was infallible or not subject to change. There is serious discernment concerning some errors taught by the Second Vatican Council. Apart from already defined truths that the Second Vatican Council points to, it was not a dogmatic council but rather a pastoral one. In this regard (pastoral) there can be little set in concrete never to be challenged or changed as time develops.

Pope John Paul was of heroic holiness and a hero of a reformer in a difficult time of transition for the Church. He will be a saint! He sought to reestablish the great discipline of the Church on celibacy, chastity, Marian devotion, clear doctrine in the areas of faith and morals and he disciplined errant theologians. That was a great beginning but much more must continue.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Extraordinary Nuptial Mass at St. Joseph Church

As I exercised at 5:45 AM this morning at the Macon Health Club, I was able to watch the royal wedding. How splendid! As the Archbishop of Canterbury described marriage as the relationship "betwix" Christ and His bride the Church, the camera panned to Sir Elton John and His husband. What irony! Those English! Those Anglicans! It is to laugh.

But what I did like, which Catholics have lost in the Ordinary Form of the Wedding Liturgy, is that the marriage vows are but a prelude to the main part of the Liturgy, whether it be a Liturgy of the Word or the complete Holy Eucharist in the Anglican Church (Episcopal).

In our modern Ordinary Form of the Mass, the marriage vows are celebrated now after the Liturgy of the Word and homily. So for the first half of the Liturgy, the couple is not married.

Not so in the Extraordinary Form of the Wedding Liturgy; the wedding vows like today's Royal Anglican Wedding are recited prior to the Nuptial Mass or Nuptial Liturgy of the Word. Thus the bride and groom are married for the entire Liturgy of the Word which they listen together and are instructed together as husband and wife.

The Anglicans have it right. Catholics have it half right. Let's reform the Ordinary Form wedding Liturgy and make the EF order standard. Just by two cents worth.


Many thanks to Dr. Buck Melton for taking these photos which are in no particular order shown below:

Thursday, April 28, 2011


(The deacon in this picture looks a lot like our Deacon Don Coates. I wonder if he is moonlighting in someone else's parish! Caught on camera!)

Last night our home-based faith groups which have been meeting during Lent and studying the new English translation of the Mass, concluded with a wonderful dinner and catechesis by me on the last chapter of Father Paul Turner's booklet, "Understanding the Revised Mass Texts."
Each group leader had the "Leader's Edition" to help their faith group navigate through their weekly studies.

My presentation last night summarized the two styles of translating the Mass texts from the original Latin into English, the current one a rather lose translation based upon "dynamic equivalency" although I would prefer to use the term "dynamited equivalency" since most of the current translation of the Mass really blew apart the meaning of the original Latin and has almost no resemblance to it whatsoever, except some remnant pieces.

The newer ten year old mandate from the Vatican required a literal translation of the original Latin prayers not only in sentence structure but also maintaining the Latin prayer's Catholic spirituality, piety and doctrine. Much of that had been lost in the older translation as unbelievable as that is, but true nonetheless.

One of the more lively comments last night had to do with the current English translation's neutering of the pronouns that refer to Church. The Church is always referred to as "it."

The Latin always had maintained the pronoun references to the Church in the feminine; she or her. The reason for that is our Catholic belief that the Church is the Bride of Christ and the Mother of the Faithful. The last time we all checked brides and mothers are always shes and hers, never its.

Someone made the most astute observation regarding the gender neutering of the Church in the older translation. When this translation was taking place, bishops, priests and laity thought that Vatican II had placed all Catholic beliefs on the table for discussion, change and renewal, even the nature of the Church as Bride of Christ and Holy Mother. A less paternalistic, patriarchal and maternalistic Church would have to be developed according to the "spirit" of Vatican II. What better way to begin this development than by praying in a less than Catholic way, bereft of piety, doctrine and female imagery for the Church?

Is it possible that the translators of the 1960's envisioned a very much changed Church in the future and a changed sacramental system?

If one neuterizes the Church, then one can neuterize two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. If Bridegroom to Bride no longer requires a male and a female, than any combination of pairing would do. They detected not only a heretical theological provocation on the part of the translators but a political agenda in these earlier translators. Who knows? It could be possible!

Just look at the Anglican Communion to see where this all goes.

The new translation will keep the Church feminine, Christ masculine and the Church as the Bride of Christ and Holy Mother of the faithful. What else should Catholics expect?

We had almost 100 participating last night. Every household in my parish, though, received Fr. Paul Turner's booklet the week before Lent began.

Everyone wants to implement this new and improved English translation yesterday. The old one is such a lame duck in so many ways that people really want their Beijing Duck and they want it now!

But I always remind them by word and example that patience is a virtue!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Bishop-elect of Evansville, Indiana, (north of Savannah) Chuck Thompson, named yesterday:

Today it's Bishop Felipe Estévez,(no relation to the "Sheen" family, i.e. Charlie) is the bishop-elect of Saint Augustine, Florida, south of Savannah:

Who will be the peanut butter between the bread of Evansville and Saint Augustine tomorrow? Is Savannah next? Time will tell!

Episcopal purple jelly for the Georgia peanut butter?


Either BOTH


Here are some caricatures of progressive, left leaning Catholics. Keep in mind I was schooled in this way of thinking and if not for a confluence of circumstances I would be stuck in arrested development in this extreme:

1. There is a desire for a perfect Church, not people, but perfect structures that will make perfect people. Vatican II was a "conciliar" council that called for "conciliar" decision making rather than autocratic rule. This in and of itself is a fallacy. Vatican II documents do call for more consultation with the larger Church, bishops among bishops, priests among priests and with the laity also. So if the structures are perfect, we'll be perfect. It is never clear where God fits into all of this and if perfect structures produce grace as though these perfect structures become deified. It is a crass form of Pelagianism.

Those who promote perfect structures, personify these structures. They call flawed structures "sinful" as though a structure can sin. Even a second grader should know that only people sin, not things or ideas or structures. Progressives want to reform the Church by focusing in on "sinful" structures and making them perfect "saints."

2. Because group think is so important to this caricature, the process by which a decision is made is elevated even if the decision is wrong. It is like new math. In old Math it was the correct answer that counted and there were short-cuts that could be employed to get the right answer. In new math, it is the process by which you arrive at the answer. The correct answer doesn't matter, it is the process of arriving at it that counts (no pun intended). When you look at the so-called renewal of religious life, especially among women, their group think was excellent. They went through wonderful processes of dialogue, consultation, prayer and meetings after meetings. But so many of their conclusions were flawed to the point that women religious may soon become extinct. No one wants to be autocratic and calls for major reforms to return to a more identifiable religious life where there is a clear ministry, identifiable habit, community life and a robust support for the Church in her completeness go unanswered in group think.

3. Creativity in liturgy and parish life is the highest form of being "Church." Tradition is frowned upon. Formality is abhorrent. Flexibility and innovation are elevated to a fault.

Here is a caricature of a retro-Catholic who leans severely to the right:

1. The pre-Vatican II Mass and way of life is the cat's meow. Things were perfect in the 1950's so let's make it the 1950's again. Selective memory is involved. It's kind of like the progressives who think the Church was perfect before Constantine's conversion and corrupting influences especially on the liturgy.

2. If we could only get back to the 1950's the Church would be perfect again.

3. Ecumenism is an evil and waters down the Catholic faith.

4. Religious liberty is a flawed idea. We need to make anathemas clear against those who are not Catholic.

5. We need to impose a Catholic culture; Christendom must arise again!

6. The Church must be autocratic and monarchical and demand fidelity from its members and excommunicate anyone who questions.

7. The Church is a perfect society and there is only one way to do anything and everyone else is wrong.

These are caricatures but to be found in people on the left and on the right.

Healthy Catholicism is found somewhere in the middle. Not always either/or but both/and.

You can have the EF and OF Mass in the same parish. There can be active participation in the EF Mass with a good deal of vernacular. There can be some Latin in the OF and it would not be a bad idea to kneel for Holy Communion and receive on the tongue by way of intinction.

You can consult until you are blue in the face but the buck stops with the one in charge, the pope, the bishop, the pastor or the superior general or coordinator. That person approves the final decision or asks for a revision.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Our 1:00 PM Mass on Easter Sunday was an Extraordinary Form Latin High Mass. We had over 200 in attendance. It was publicly advertised in the paper and announcements as a Latin Mass. Most came because it was.

But there were a few there that did not realize it would be the older form of the Mass. Afterward several came up to me who were younger and had never experienced a Latin Mass, let alone an EF Mass, and said that it was very spiritual. What they liked best was the ability to meditate and read the prayers in English as they were sung or said in Latin. But what they liked the most was kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue. Most had never done either.

Others commented that it brought back a flood of family memories of attending Mass with now deceased parents, grand parents and other loved ones. It was a wonderful experience of nostalgia and connectedness with those of the past now hopefully in heaven.

Both groups like the English Mass, but both groups agreed that kneeling for Holy Communion was more reverent for them and less rushed. They asked why we can't do that in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Good question!


This morning, Easter Tuesday, one of our Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion came to tell me of an incident at one of our Easter Sunday Masses:

She had distributed the Sacred Host to a gentleman. However, as he received the Host in his hands, he walked off with it. An alert parishioner in the front pew seeing what had happened alerted our Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion that He did not consumed the host. Our EMC went after him and saw him placing the host in his coat pocket. She said to him you must consume the host. He said, I'm taking it to the pew! She said, you have to consume the host! He did so.

She told me that she was so shocked by what had happened that she should have asked for the host back or asked if he was Catholic, but she was caught off-guard.

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened at Mass and on a regular basis and in every parish that I have been assigned for the past 31 years. Some people are clueless about what we believe about Holy Communion, especially if someone attends an Easter Mass but is not Catholic. But today, we can't be assured that even Catholics who attend Mass infrequently know what they are doing.

Simply placing the host on the tongue of a communicant, no matter what their state of grace or religious affiliation if it is unknown to the one ministering Holy Communion will prevent the type of potential desecration I described above as a frequent occurrence. If the Holy Father models this as the norm, why aren't we following suit? Just wondering.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Last night's Great Easter Vigil was long but beautiful, two and a half hours! I had the most baptisms ever for me at an Easter Vigil, 17 in total. Plus we received into the full communion of the Church 17 others. It was a bit cumbersome, but thrilling to have so many people wanting to enter the Church. It is truly a new springtime for the Church. Have a Blessed Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


On Good Friday, we had Stations of the Cross at 12:10 PM and 3:00 PM and at both the Church was filled! At 7:00 PM we celebrated the Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord. The Church was filled again! God bless my people!

Click twice on photo to enlarge:

Friday, April 22, 2011


A packed Church last night for Holy Thursday. We washed the feet of 12 men. We also received the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Cathecumens and the Sacred Chrism as a part of the Offertory Procession. Then after Holy Communion we had the Eucharistic Procession to the Altar of Repose. It was a glorious way to begin the Easter Triduum. Many thanks to Dr. Buck Melton for taking this great photos!
Click once or twice on photo to enlarge!