Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Has it really been?

I know, I promised I would write more on this little blog. Today, though, marks a new step in the life of my blogging. I'm writing is from balmy Orlando, Florida, on my new "toy", an iPad.

Since 2005, I've always been able to get away from the parish sometime on the 2nd week of Easter. It started when some of us were still Parochial Vicars, and so time off on the first week of Easter was usually reserved for our Pastors. This also worked out well with the schedule down in Orlando, which tended to be super crowded when schools were off, either Holy Week or Easter Week. This year, though, Easter was extraordinarily late, and the 2nd week of Easter was actually the first week of May. In looking at the calendar, with religious education over for the year and 1st Communion and May Crowning out of the way, I was able to get down.

So there you go, a blog entry from an undisclosed location. I'm here on the blogosphere, and now it doesn't matter where "here" is.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bishop Conley on the new Mass translation

Click HERE for a transcript (provided by Zenit News Service) of an address by Bp. James Conley, auxiliary of Denver - and alumnus of Mount St. Mary's Seminary. Here are some appetite-whetting quotes:

In Advent, we are going to introduce a major new English translation of the Mass with the third typical edition of the Roman Missal.

What are Catholics in the pews going to make of the changes in the words they pray and the words they hear the priest praying? Will the changes make any difference in their experience of the Mass? In the way they worship? In the way they live their faith in the world?

This new edition of the Missal is the Church’s gift to our generation. It restores the ancient understanding of the Eucharist as a sacred mystery. It renews the vertical dimension of the liturgy — as a spiritual sacrifice that we offer in union with the sacrifice that our heavenly High Priest celebrates unceasingly in the eternal liturgy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Holy Communion rant

That's probably a bad title, because what I'm about to tell you can easily be seen at other church events. Pick one: wedding, confirmation, baptism, funeral. It's there.

Look at the irony: we spend weeks teaching the 2nd grade children that the Eucharist is an amazing gift from God, and that every church has the Eucharist kept in the Tabernacle, and that, when we are in the presence of the Tabernacle, that Jesus can see and hear us and we can speak to him. We teach them that the day they receive their 1st Holy Communion will be a truly special day, and that they should behave in a way that shows they understand it is a special day. We rehearse them to walk in a solemn procession, to keep their hands folded together in a prayerful gesture, to stand and sit and kneel at the proper times, to receive the Blessed Sacrament properly (either tongue or hand), and then to go back to their seat and reflect on that great gift in silence. Of course, we tell them not to spend the Mass speaking to the children on either side of them.

Then, the day of the Mass comes. The kids are fine. The grown ups? THEY SUCK!

I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Priests can relate

Some go for the stunning sunset, but there is no more magnificent sight to behold than an empty parking lot, that only a week before was loaded with cars because of CCD.

Excuse me, I need a tissue.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Tomb of Sts. Philip and James

I took this during a 2008 trip to Rome. Their tomb is located in the crypt level of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Rome. In 570, Pope John III placed the bones of Sts. Philip & James, recently brought back from the east, in this church and dedicated it to them and to all the Apostles.

A seminary buddy, Fr. Gary Coulter, studied in Rome and has posted many of his pictures online. Here is a photo he took of the tomb.

Beatification: NOT the last stop!

Fourteen years ago, I was in the spring semester of Third Theology, preparing for ordination to the Diaconate. There were two of us from the Metuchen Diocese at The Mount, and both of us wanted to be ordained with our seminary classmates at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg. I went to see my Bishop, to ask him for permission for the two of us to be ordained "out west". Bishop Hughes said he had no problem with it. Diaconate ordinations, he said, can get a little "over the top", especially when done at the home parish of the guy being ordained. The zeal of the parishioners to make it a wonderful celebration means it can, at times, end up eclipsing the Priesthood ordination that will follow the following year.

This was a thought I've been having in the aftermath of Pope John Paul's Beatification. What could be done to top it? Could the crowd be any bigger? The all-star lineup any more impressive? The weather nicer? The music more glorious? Sadly, there's nowhere to go BUT down when it comes to expectations from both within and outside the Church (and the media will be looking for some way to criticize it).

In the case of seminarians, the Diaconate is wonderful, but not the ultimate goal. Similarly, Beatification is marvelous and terrific and (to be British for a moment) brilliant, but not the final goal. The final goal is Canonization. There is no "striving for permanent beatification", and stopping there.

There is another thought here (my head is full of 'em): Pope Benedict is no fool. He is the one who returned the tradition of beatification Masses being celebrated not by the Pope, but by a designated Cardinal (usually the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints). Of course, being Pope has it's perks, and when it's someone you have a fondness for, you can always bump the tradition and do it yourself. Pope Benedict did for Blessed John Henry Newman, and obviously here for Blessed Pope John Paul. But maybe he allowed all the pomp and devotion because he doesn't think the canonization will happen in the foreseeable future. Maybe like the Hebrew slaved freed from Egypt, they will not see the promised land, but their children will. For us, this may be it for what we will see in our lifetimes.

In the meantime, this is a neat little video explaining the difference between Beatification and Canonization, explained by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Bl. John Paul II arrives at his new home

Thank you, Rome Reports, for the video footage.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

There's one in every crowd

"What do you mean it was at ten AM???"

It was pretty easy to tell who was the last to receive from the abnormally overfilled chalice.

Thank you, Reuters, for the pics.

Back in the saddle again

Last night I found out my pal, Fr. Guy Selvester, decided to re-enter the blogosphere. Check him out at his new location, OMNIApost.

The First Time

The Catholic (and others, too) world rejoices today in the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. I presume we officially call him "Pope Blessed John Paul II" (if we base it on the way we speak of "Pope St. Pius X"), or, "Blessed John Paul II" for short. Whatever we call him, the joy of the Easter season is made that much sweeter because of Pope Benedict's declaration that we enroll Karol Josef Wojtyła amongst the Blessed of the Church.

So here I am, awake for the ceremony, listening to the homily of the Holy Father while I type this. Irreverent? Nope, I never said this counted for my Mass attendance (for the record, I have my usual 3 to do today). But either the muse has struck me or the caffeine has kicked in, and so I'm ready to type.

Four times I was privileged to attend Mass in what we now know to be purely Blessed John Paul's invention: attendance at the Holy Father's Mass, in the chapel of the Papal Apartment. What a gift! Each of the four Masses took place at different steps along my journey to the Priesthood: one in college seminary (1994), two during Major Seminary (1995 and 1996), and one after Priestly ordination (2001). I thought I'd share some thoughts about each time, using what I had written in my diary at the time (please excuse the grammatical errors). So, today, here are the notes I wrote after the first time I attended Mass with Pope John Paul:

Saturday, January 8, 1994

Well, perhaps I slept about 3-4 hours total, that being broke up into 30-45 minute bursts. Thank God, both alarms worked and even if I slept, I'd have been woken up. I know this last hour will go slower than the last 8 hours since I heard the news.


What an unforgettable morning. How memorable this has been and will continue to be for the rest of my life. But let me start from the beginning:

We left here [the house we were staying in] at 6:05. Well, not exactly. We found out we're locked in this building! Even the courtyard doesn't let you out to the street. So after a brief panic attack, I discover a window that we can get out of, so we did just that, looking like 2 well dressed burglars.

We get to the Bronze Doors at 6:25 and already there are 5 people waiting. Using my German for the first time in years, I strike up polite conversation. [The other seminarian with me] is making sure his shirt collar is alright. We go up the stairs and, after giving our names to a plainclothes guard, we're let in. AT about 6:35 we begin the ascent to the Papal apartments.

O.K., so now we're up in the chapel. We're lead to our seats, but where's the Pope? All the pictures I've seen, he's usually praying in his chair while people are seating. "Oh no, he's not going to do this", I fear. But then I see the vestments on the altar and a little white zucchetto and I calm down.

Let me describe the chapel. About 20-24 feet wide and about 60 feet long. Done mostly in black and white with black backless stools for us to sit in. The floor is black and white marble, and the ceiling is one giant stained glass collage which looks artificially lit. At the far wall is an altar with a tabernacle at the front & center. To the left are 3 lit candles and to the right is a bunch of lilies ("But this isn't Easter", I wonder). A bronze crucifix hangs above the altar with a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa at the foot of the Cross. Access to the sacristy is from behind the altar, and on either side of the access walls are earth-toned mosaics of the crucifixion of St. Peter and the beheading of St. Paul. At the left side of the chapel is a creche with a baby Jesus in it. A pulpit is off to the left. In front of the stools is a large green copper chair in the center with a white cushioned prie-dieu. This is the Pope's seat.

By 7:10, the secretaries are with us sitting, and I know it's going to happen soon. From behind the altar comes the Pope, looking, I must confess, a little tired. He stands before the altar, and with precision and dignity, the secretaries dress him for Mass. First, the amice, the alb, the chasuble, then back with the pectoral cross. They do this so precise that one secretary kneels behind the Pope and fixes the pleats on his alb so they fall straight. I get the feeling they do this whether there are people there or not.

Mass was in French, so I could follow it a little. After Communion and a brief while after Mass, we had silent meditation. I prayed for all who I care for, and even those I don't care for. Eventually we were led to the conference room where I shook his hand and had photos. Soon, the photo proofs will be ready and I've got to check those out soon.