Saturday, June 30, 2007

1 John 1:1

"...what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon and touched with our hands..."

Sean Cardinal O'Malley of Boston, a participant in the Motu Proprio briefing over in Rome, has written about his experiences in this week's entry on his blog. Take a peek if you want to get the scoop from someone who was in the room.

Friday, June 29, 2007

"I could've sworn the ticket said the Pope's Audience was Friday!"
(Thank you Reuters for the photo)

Motu-philia (and -phobia)

The Vatican news service announced that the long expected, long anticipated (and by some, long dreaded) Motu Proprio by the Holy Father on the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal was released to a select crowd of bishops from around the world (Sean Cardinal O'Malley of Boston and Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis represented the United States). Following the meeting led by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, Pope Benedict popped in to greet the attendees and the news release took particular care to point out that he conversed with them for about an hour (as if he was on his way to get a San Benedetto Thé Freddo al Limone from the vending machine, saw the light on in the Sala Clementina, and stuck his head in). Riiiiight, happens all the time.

Some are ecstatic, seeing the release of this Motu Proprio as the "magic cure" for banal liturgies, irreverence on the part of both clergy and laity, and the smorgasbord of dissent within the Church, all of which it most certainly will not cure in one swoop. But on the other side of the fence, some are despondent, feeling just as adamant that the MP's release will signal the abandonment of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as some sort of "failed experiment", and that is just as ridiculous.

What will this Motu Proprio do? Well, let's start first with what the MP will not do:
  • It will not mean that Masses on Saturday night or Sunday will now be celebrated according to the Tridentine Rite. Parishes that plan to have Tridentine Rite Masses will most likely schedule these Masses at totally separate times than the normal Mass schedule.
  • It does not mean every parish will have a Mass according to the Tridentine Rite right away. Most clergy today do not know how to properly celebrate Mass according to the '62 Missal (myself included). Speaking for myself, I'm wouldn't want to celebrate it until I could do it with a certain degree of confidence. That's going to take time, so be patient. You can, however, feel free to ask your parish clergy if their planning to learn the Tridentine rite. I imagine there will be workshops and tutorials for clergy organized by some dioceses as well as other sources.
  • It will not mean that the other Sacraments like Baptism, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, et al, will substantially change. We're only talking about the Sacrament of the Eucharist here.
  • It will not "make" people more reverent at Mass, causing them to stop talking about their breakfast plans in front of the Tabernacle, ignorant of the fact that they're yards away from their Lord and Savior (and He's probably less concerned about what they're eating as much as the fact that they're giving Him the cold shoulder), or to abandon the idea of dressing for Mass as if they're going to the beach. If your kids complain that they're bored at a Novus Ordo Mass, chances are reallllllllly good they'll be even more bored at a Tridentine Mass. Better attack the root of that weed in other ways.
  • It does not mean your parish priest will suddenly become more reverent at Mass (for those who think their clergy treat Mass like "open mike night" to do their shtick). Sloppy liturgy did not only come around after 1970; there were sloppy Tridentine Rite Masses, too! But also, better be prepared for some sabotage from clergy who'll want to give you a bad experience of the Tridentine Rite. Learn to distinguish between what you don't like about the Rite itself and what you don't like about Father's celebration of the Rite.

Now, what do I think the Motu Proprio will do?

  • Well, right off the bat, it got Catholics to use the words "Motu Proprio" in everyday conversation, so we now sound smarter.
  • Exposure to the Rite may also carry with it exposure to Gregorian chant and polyphany. This may breathe new life into classic liturgical music (ie - music written before 1970).
  • It will give Catholics born any time after 1969 the opportunity to see first-hand what the worship of the Church was like from 1570 until just before they were born.
  • It will require the purchase of some things that the Priest uses at a Tridentine Mass, so consider stepping up and offering to donate the altar cards or Missal for your parish.
  • The Society of St. Pius X (I know, schismatics, but here I'm not talking about their ecclesiology as much as their liturgy) has a "learn how to say the traditional Mass" kit, which includes a video and other stuff on how a Priest celebrates Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. Sign up your priest(s) for it here. In addition, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (not schismatics, in union with Rome) has started an online store at which you can get all kinds of Tridentine stuff.
  • It will help people to appreciate the use of the vernacular. Attention spans being what they are, most Mass-goers will get tired of bouncing between following along in a Missal and looking up at the Priest. For all the talk and hype about this MP's release, I think that there'll be a few people who "try it out", but eventually choose to attend mass according to the ordinary Rite of the Church.

I believe the Church is not a stagnant thing, but the living Body of Christ on earth. For whatever reason you choose to adhere to, the Holy Spirit has guided the Pope to make the decision to allow more more frequent celebration of this Rite. Before I make a judgment on it, I'm going to have to spend time seeing it in action. My hunch is that the hype will be more than what actually results from it (does anyone remember the "Y2K" preparations?).


Just like Rush Limbaugh, I get to share with you an "I told you so" moment. You have no choice, so listen up:

Last November, I posted about the feeding frenzy pop-culture was having to get their hands on a PlayStation 3. Well, November has come and gone, and PS3 is 'old news'. Stories abound today about the newest "possession obsession": the iPhone.

Like I said last November, this is where our culture is at: Last week everyone was complaining to reporters about rising gasoline prices and how their summer vacations will have to be abandoned. Today everyone is lining up outside of stores for the privilege to shell out $500. (or $600. if you want the extended memory), plus commit to another $60.00 per month for a minimum of 24 months ($1,440.00) for the service contract. Others are offering to sell their places in line to the "I want it without the effort" crowd for a nifty little profit.

Here follows the ITYS moment: You wonder why vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life are in a "crisis"? Don't blame celibacy. Don't blame the sexual abuse crisis.

  • Blame commitment ("I know I committed to a 3-year contract on this cellphone a year ago, but do I really have to stick to that? There's a new phone I want to commit to!).
  • Blame the "instant gratification" society ("I know I got a $250. BlackBerry last Christmas, but this is newer and I neeeeeed it.").
  • Blame prosperity. If average people can spend betwen five and six hundred dollars for phone service that they can get for much less money, then I'm done buying this "gloom & doom" stuff about our economy.
  • Feel free to get ticked by the "Can I pay you for your spot in line?" crowd ("Yes, we need Priests and religious, but not my son or my daughter", or, "I understand that Father needs to cut down our Mass schedule, but he'd better not eliminate my Mass!").
  • And, while we're at at, blame the parish Priests who'll be bragging to their parishioners that they got one of these phones (see whether you hear it mentioned in the homily at Mass this weekend). Remind Father that, if anyone, he should have "no other god(s)".

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Faith via iPod

The Knights of Columbus have published the "Luke E. Hart Series", a collection of 30 pamphlets on various aspects of the Catholic faith, through their Catholic Information Service. But they've taken it a step further, in that they're producing podcasts of each of the pamphlets that will also be available through the CIS website, as well as through iTunes.

Check out a sampling of the podcast. They've even gotten a familiar Priest or two to be the voices of the podcasts.

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Scarlet Silk Out; White Wool In

A previous post here and elsewhere in the blogosphere predicted that the Holy Father would create new Cardinals in a public Consistory on the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul. Today the Vatican announced that B16 will preside at First Vespers (aka Evening Prayer) at the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls on the evening of June 28th. Once again, bloggers and "Vatican experts" have been reminded that we're on the outside looking in, and ultimately we're just observers.

This one will be special, in that Pope Benedict will announce a special "Pauline Year" dedicated to the tenacious Tentmaker from Tarsus. Let's see if this special year "trickles down" to local dioceses better than Pope John Paul's years of the Rosary (Oct. 2002 - Oct '03) and the Eucharist (Oct. 2004 - Oct. '05).

So while there'll be no red birettas handed out, on the next day, June 29, Pope Benedict will impose the white woolen Pallia on Metropolitan Archbishops who've been named since the ceremony the previous year. 9:30am at St. Peter's Basilica. EWTN will be showing both events, so set your VCRs. In the meantime, Wikipedia has a good little history of the Pallium.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Totally Random Thought

Do you realize that if

Brady Quinn's



Tom Brady's father,

either one of them could've been named "Brady Brady"?!?

That's all. Go back to your life.

Serratelli on "Sacred"

When I was a college seminarian at Seton Hall University, a Priest from the major seminary, Father Arthur Serratelli, used to come to our residence, St. Andrew's Hall, give spiritual direction to his directees, and then stay for Night Prayer and be available for Confessions for any of the seminary community.

Years later, "Father" Serratelli is now "Bishop" Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson, and he's recently published the first of four articles on the need for the Church to restore a sense of the sacred (a.k.a. the holy, the other-worldly, take your pick).

You can read the whole article by clicking here. Not sure if you're interested? Here are some quotes from the article that may pique your interest:

"Church means, for some, simply the assembly of like-minded believers who organize themselves and make their own rules and dogmas."

"Old songs were jettisoned. The guitar replaced the organ. Some priests even began to walk down the road of liturgical innovation, only to discover it was a dead end."

"Walk into any church today before Mass and you will notice that the silence that should embrace those who stand in God’s House is gone. Even the Church is no longer a sacred place. Gathering for Mass sometimes becomes as noisy as gathering for any other social event."

Monday, June 18, 2007

God Wants Souls, Not Numbers

Fr. Tim Finigan is a fellow blogger who recently posted a homily which has such a key concept for everyone to "get their arms around" (with my emphasis added):

"But the other day, I was being interviewed for a programme to be broadcast on EWTN and the interviewer spoke of the parish and asked about its 'success.' I think it was a light given by the Holy Spirit which prompted me immediately to say that I will only know whether the parish has been a success at the last judgement when our Lord will show me how many parishioners have been saved.

Our “success” or “failure” as a parish is not measured by how we feel or how much money we raise or how many activities we can arrange. The true success of all our endeavours in the Church will be measured by how many of us are saved and go to heaven. A consequence of this view of 'success' in a parish is that all our activities should be directed towards this final end."

Amen, brother!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Protestants and Sexual Abuse

The Associated Press has a story with the details they obtained from the threee major insurance carriers for Protestant churches in America. The statistics give the amount of claims filed against churches on charges of sexual abuse. While sexual abuse is never anything to make light of, the statistics show that Roman Catholic clergy have not been the only clergy with sinful (and criminal) members.

There have been those who have said that the sexual abuse crisis within the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. would not have taken place if the Church changed it's discipline of priestly celibacy (I suppose because somehow if these men had someone to consent to sex with, they wouldn't have been looking for someone to coerce into doing it). Check the stats and see if ecclesial communites that allow for a married (or single, but sexually active) clergy really have any immunity from sins against the 6th and/or 9th Commandments.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Corpus Christi Q&A

On this Corpus Christi Sunday, I thought it might be good to have a quick review of some basic Catholic teaching, thanks to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

271. What is the Eucharist?
The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which he instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until his return in glory. Thus he entrusted to his Church this memorial of his death and Resurrection. It is a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet, in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

272. When did Jesus Christ institute the Eucharist?
Jesus instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday “the night on which he was betrayed” (1 Corinthians 11:23), as he celebrated the Last Supper with his apostles.

273. How did he institute the Eucharist?
After he had gathered with his apostles in the Cenacle, Jesus took bread in his hands. He broke it and gave it to them saying, “Take this and eat it, all of you; this is my Body which will be given up for you”. Then, he took the cup of wine in his hands and said, “Take this and drink of this, all of you. This is the cup of my Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgive. Do this in memory of me”.

274. What does the Eucharist represent in the life of the Church?
It is the source and summit of all Christian life. In the Eucharist, the sanctifying action of God in our regard and our worship of him reach their high point. It contains the whole spiritual good of the Church, Christ himself, our Pasch. Communion with divine life and the unity of the People of God are both expressed and effected by the Eucharist. Through the eucharistic celebration we are united already with the liturgy of heaven and we have a foretaste of eternal life.

280. In what way is the Eucharist a memorial of the sacrifice of Christ?
The Eucharist is a memorial in the sense that it makes present and actual the sacrifice which Christ offered to the Father on the cross, once and for all on behalf of mankind. The sacrificial character of the Holy Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution, “This is my Body which is given for you” and “This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood that will be shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20). The sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one and the same sacrifice. The priest and the victim are the same; only the manner of offering is different: in a bloody manner on the cross, in an unbloody manner in the Eucharist.

282. How is Christ present in the Eucharist?
Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man.

283. What is the meaning of transubstantiation?
Transubstantiation means the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of his Blood. This change is brought about in the eucharistic prayer through the efficacy of the word of Christ and by the action of the Holy Spirit. However, the outward characteristics of bread and wine, that is the “eucharistic species”, remain unaltered.

284. Does the breaking of the bread divide Christ?
The breaking of the bread does not divide Christ. He is present whole and entire in each of the eucharistic species and in each of their parts.

285. How long does the presence of Christ last in the Eucharist?
The presence of Christ continues in the Eucharist as long as the eucharistic species subsist.

286. What kind of worship is due to the sacrament of the Eucharist?
The worship due to the sacrament of the Eucharist, whether during the celebration of the Mass or outside it, is the worship of latria, that is, the adoration given to God alone. The Church guards with the greatest care Hosts that have been consecrated. She brings them to the sick and to other persons who find it impossible to participate at Mass. She also presents them for the solemn adoration of the faithful and she bears them in processions. The Church encourages the faithful to make frequent visits to adore the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle.

289. When does the Church oblige her members to participate at Holy Mass?
The Church obliges the faithful to participate at Holy Mass every Sunday and on holy days of obligation. She recommends participation at Holy Mass on other days as well.

291. What is required to receive Holy Communion?
To receive Holy Communion one must be fully incorporated into the Catholic Church and be in the state of grace, that is, not conscious of being in mortal sin. Anyone who is conscious of having committed a grave sin must first receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before going to Communion. Also important for those receiving Holy Communion are a spirit of recollection and prayer, observance of the fast prescribed by the Church, and an appropriate disposition of the body (gestures and dress) as a sign of respect for Christ.

294. Why is the Eucharist a “pledge of future glory”?
The Eucharist is a pledge of future glory because it fills us with every grace and heavenly blessing. It fortifies us for our pilgrimage in this life and makes us long for eternal life. It unites us already to Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, to the Church in heaven and to the Blessed Virgin and all the saints.

In the Eucharist, we “break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ.” (Saint Ignatius of Antioch)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Popemobile Carjacking Thwarted

So a crazy guy gets tackled by plainclothes guardsmen (in nice Italian suits, I might add), and now the story is that Pope Benedict didn't react.

If you've ever gone to a Wednesday audience, you know that there's a clear difference between people before B16 shows up and after. Before Sua Santità arrives, people are pleasant and calm. But once the buzz starts (and, if you're in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the lights come on full-bright and the organ heralds his arrival), it becomes "every man/woman for themselves" in the attempt to shake his hand, capture his attention, or snap his picture. Yes, it's rather calm if you're sitting 4 rows deep into the crowd, because you know you've got no chance for some face-time. But for the brave who attempt to get their moment with Himself, it's become "Survivor: Vatican". The beauty of these general audiences is that the sections do not have assigned seats; the color of your ticket gets you placed into particular corrals. That means that anyone can get the aisle seat, as long as they're able to get to the audience before anyone else in their section. Pretty fair, eh?

Can you blame people? I mean, yes, on the surface there's the whole "You are Peter" thing. But beyond that, he's driving past soooooooooo nearby, and like the woman with the hemorrhage, we all start thinking, "If I could just touch the tassel of his garment." People in the front row understand this. They got to their seats bright and early and that makes it possible that they might have their 'handshake moment'. Believe me, In the audiences I've attended in my life, I've been crushed against the barricades and once even elbowed in the ribs by a 4'10" nun, who is probably otherwise a sweet and holy bride of Christ. As I learned, the problems don't come from the people on either side of you; the problems come from the folks behind you, who often stand on their chairs and treat the person in front of them as a step-stool in an attempt to move closer. Knowing that, it's not such a extraordinary thing for the guards (who see this frenzy every week) to see someone caught up in the moment to lose their balance and topple forward. The story isn't as much that Pope Benedict didn't react, but that the Schweizergarde assigned to protect him did react in a way that removed the threat and kept the Pope secure. Good job, fellas.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Arinze: Latin and the Vernacular

The latest copy of the English edition of L'Osservatore Romano has the transcript of a speech by Cardinal Arinze given last November on the topic of "Latin and Vernacular: Language in the Roman Liturgy". The Vatican website has the transcript available online.

Here are some excerpts to whet your appetite:

"Most rites have an original language which also gives each rite its historical identity. The Roman Rite has Latin as its official language. The typical editions of its liturgical books are to this day issued in Latin. It is a remarkable phenomenon that many religions of the world, or major branches of them, hold on to a language as dear to them. We cannot think of the Jewish religion without Hebrew. Islam holds Arabic as sacred to the Qur'an. Classical Hinduism considers Sanskrit its official language. Buddhism has its sacred texts in Pali."

"In an ordination ceremony of 11 priests which I celebrated in Nigeria last July, about 150 priests sang the First Eucharistic Prayer in Latin. It was beautiful. The people, although no Latin scholars, loved it. It should be just normal that parish churches where there are four or five Masses on Sunday should have one of these Masses sung in Latin."

"Those ... who want to give the impression that the Church has put Latin away from her liturgy are mistaken. A manifestation of people's acceptance of Latin liturgy well celebrated was had at the world level in April 2005, when millions followed the burial rites of Pope John Paul II and then, two weeks later, the inauguration Mass of Pope Benedict XVI over the television."

"Indeed, we can say that the most important thing in divine worship is not that we understand every word or concept. No. The most important consideration is that we stand in reverence and awe before God, that we adore, praise and thank him. The sacred, the things of God, are best approached with sandals off. "

"Language is not everything. But it is one of most important elements that need attention for good and faith-filled liturgical celebrations."

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Lwanga Memory

Though it got bumped by the Sunday precedence, on June 3rd the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, who were martyred in Uganda in the late 1800s. The more ecclesiatically astute of you probably did a "double take" at that title, since the story of the martyrdom of St. Charles et al. involved their refusal to participate in, shall we say, Buggery. Relax, that's not why I bring it up.

My memory goes back to my college seminary years. By June, I was home from college seminary, and attending daily Mass at my home parish. My pastor was away and had arranged for visiting Priests to come in for the Masses that week. Knowing I was always there (and knew my way around the sacristy), he asked me to set up for Mass each day for the visitor.

One day, the feast of St. Charles Lwanga, 8am came and went and no Priest showed up. So after allowing a little time in case Father arrived late, it was time for me to lead my first (and only) Communion Service. I put on an alb, brought the ritual book out, and nervously made my way through the rite. Truthfully, had I known ahead of time I was going to have to lead a Communion Service, I'd have been more nervous than I was having it land in my lap at the last minute.

My pastor was good for giving me experiences that would help me later on. Wake services at funeral parlors, cemetery committals after funerals, they were a great help later on, since I had already experienced these things that many of my my classmates only learned as they got closer to Priesthood. He even knew how to handle me when I made the blunder of telling him to "give me something to do" the summer I was an indentured servant under his employ (paying back the debt I incurred by borrowing money for the Rome trip I mentioned in a previous blog). He handed me a bucket, a bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap, and told me he wanted every pew in the (un-air conditioned) church cleaned, top and bottom. I deserved what I got. You'd be amazed how much chewing gum accumulates underneath church pews.

Newsflash: Belgium "gets it"!

From Zenit News Service (my emphases added):

BRUSSELS, Belgium, MAY 30, 2007 ( The interdiocesan youth program of the Church in the Belgian region of Flanders has launched a Web page that includes a weekly podcast and a live radio show. The project is interactive and listeners can give their opinions and participate via phone or by sending text messages during the show, according to information on the new Web site. The objective of the Interdiocesan Youth Service is "to offer a young and Catholic voice in an increasingly cybernetic world." The service says it is confident it will succeed in taking advantage of the anonymity of the Internet to reach a high number of young people, believers and nonbelievers.

Sts. Marcellinus & Peter Update

My thanks goes out to a reader to gave me the link to a webpage which gives more information about Sts. Marcellinus & Peter. Apparently they're not only in Rome (one of the advantages of our skeletal system, I suppose).

Saturday, June 02, 2007

My Miracle of St. Marcellino (e Pietro)

Today's Feast of Sts. Marcellinus & Peter (not that Peter) reminds me of another learning moment in my life.

It happened during my first trip to Rome while in the college seminary. I was part of a group of honors level college students (not that I was part of their honors program, but a few of the honors kids bailed out of the trip and myself and another seminarian borrowed money and took their places). We were walking along the street the Via Merulana between the basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major, when we walked past this church pictured, the Church of Sti. Marcellino e Pietro. The names jumped out at me, not because I was any kind of astute church historian, but because I recognized the names as part of the list of names mentioned in the sometimes (and not often enough) used Eucharistic Prayer I of Mass.

My little "epiphany moment" was this: those names aren't just names thrown in to make the prayer seem longer and more reverent; they're real people. That's what I find so energizing about my trips to Rome: I grow in appreciation for not just the "biggie saints" because I visit the Mammertine Prison where Sts. Peter and Paul were kept, the monk's cell at Santa Sabina where Sts. Francis and St. Dominic met, the neighborhood where St. Philip Neri walked, or say Mass over the bones of Sts. Gregory the Great and Leo the Great, but for the lesser known, "optional memorial" Saints, like Sts. Clement, Frances of Rome, Camillus deLellis, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damien, Agnes, Cecilia, and, yes, Marcellinus & Peter. Now, when I use the first Eucharistic Prayer at Mass, they aren't just "names", they're memories of experiences I've had.

This was especially true of the Pope. At home, he's a photograph on the back wall of the Church, looking very posed and proper. In Rome, he's a man whose apartment I can point to. At night I can tell whether he's in his study or in his bedroom by the lights that are on. At an outdoor Mass or Audience, his hair gets messed up by the wind and I watch him sip a glass of water or wipe sweat from his face when dressed from neck to toe in heavy vestments. Once, after an Ordination to the Diaconate I attended at St. Peter's, I remember a young master of ceremonies trying to chase down Cardinal Ratzinger because he had left his glasses in the sacristy (how "regular guy" is that?). In short, our Church isn't just a bunch of policy statements and theories, it's people: People today who are the latest link in a chain that goes back centuries to people of the past (the Saints).

That's what Rome does for the Roman Catholic; it makes it "real".

Memories of St. Justin

Since my last two blog entries have been a stroll down memory lane, I thought I'd continue my walk. Yesterday (June 1) was the Feast of St. Justin, Martyr. Two things jump out about this feast.

The first took place during my first summer parish assignment as a seminarian (the summer of 1995). The pastor gave me my "first assignment", which was to lead a Holy Hour the following Friday evening for a group of parishioners. He basically gave me carte blanche to do what I wanted during the Holy Hour, explaining to me that, in the past, they had prayed the rosary, recited litanies, etc. When I saw the date I looked in my breviary and realized that Friday was June 1, the Feast of St. Justin. I decided we'd pray Vespers (the Church's evening prayer) with the psalms, readings, etc. proper for the feast of a martyr. I spent the day with my breviary and the copy machine, cutting and pasting, making it look perfect for that evening. I don't even remember how it went, but I remember the effort I put into it.

The second was years later, after ordination (starting in 1998). My first parish assignment had a school, and occasionally the teachers would ask me to come and speak to their classes on particular topics. The times I'm thinking about now were when I was asked to speak to the students about the Mass. When I did that, I always told the students I was going to read them what someone had written about Mass. I then read them Paragraph 1345 of the Catechism (along with my comments), which is from St. Justin's Apologia.
"On the day we call the day of the sun (Sunday), all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place (say, a church). The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things (in an instruction called a 'homily'). Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves . . .and for all others (intercessions), wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss (a sign of peace). Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren (an offeratory). He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.' When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the 'eucharisted' bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent."

When I finished, I asked them to guess when that was written. Because they recognized the order of the Mass they'd begin by saying it was written last month or a year ago. Then they'd get brave and say it was written 100 years ago or 500 years ago. Then I'd tell them that it was written in 155ad and we'd work some math into the lesson when I'd ask them to subtract 155 from the current year, and they'd find out it that we do the same things at Mass now that were done over 1800 years ago. Their faces would light up as it sank in, and that's what I remember.