Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572)

Antonio Ghislieri: shepherd, Dominican (who took the name Michele in religious life), Cardinal, Pope.

The one we can thank for Popes wearing white, though all he was doing was continuing to wear the white habit of the Order of Friar Preachers, even as Pontiff.  In that case, I suppose we have Gregory XIII (Pope from 1572-1585) to thank for continuing the tradition.

But Papa Ghislieri can also be thanked for so many other things:
  • His determination to put into effect the decrees of the Council of Trent (dare we say, he lived "in the spirit of Trent"?).
  • Following the Council's decrees, he saw to the publication of the Roman Catechism (1566), the Roman Breviary (1568), and the Roman Missal, a.k.a. the "Sacramentary" here in the United States (1570).
  • Declared St. Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church on April 11, 1567.
  • After the victory at Lepanto of a coalition of ships from Spain, Venice, and the Papal States over the Ottomans was attributed by Pius to Our Lady's intercession, he instituted the Feast of "Our Lady of Victories" on October 7 (the date of the battle).  The name of the feast was later changed by his successor to "Our Lady of the Rosary".
Pope St. Pius' tomb is there for the world to see in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.  His tomb is located in the "Sistine Chapel" (named so because it was built to house the tomb of Pope Sixtus V, who was the successor to Gregory XIII following Pius V; got that?).  It's appropriate that Pius rests here, since it was Pius who named Felice Peretti (the future Sixtus V) a Cardinal in 1570.  Though it is kind of amusing that the Dominican Pius V spends eternity in a chapel built for the Franciscan Sixtus V.  You can learn more about the chapel by visiting the website for Santa Maria Maggiore.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"deinen Diener, unseren Papst, mein Bruder"

No, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger probably doesn't say that when he uses Eucharistic Prayer III at Mass.  But can you imagine what it would be like to have your little brother become Pope?

The National Catholic Register recently published the first part of an interview recently done with Msgr. Ratzinger.  In it, he talks about their parents, his experience in a McDonald's, and what happens when he goes to visit his brother.

Check it out by clicking here.

B16 ordination homily

Yesterday's homily by Pope Benedict at the Mass at St. Peter's, during which he ordained 29 men to the Priesthood, can be found here (thanks to Vatican Radio).

Lots of great lines in the homily.  Among them...

"My dear Ordinants, in the future, you must frequently return to this moment, to this gesture which while not magic is rich in mystery, because this is the origin of your new mission. In that silent prayer two freedoms meet: the freedom of God, through the Holy Spirit and the freedom of man. The imposition of the hands expresses the specific nature of this meeting: the Church, represented by the Bishop who stands tall with his hands outstretched, who prays that the Holy Spirit consecrate the candidate; the deacon, who kneels, receiving the imposition of the hands and who entrusts himself to the mediation. The union of these gestures is important, but the invisible movement of the Spirit which it expresses is infinitely more important; a movement that is perfectly evoked by sacred silence, which embraces all, internally and externally."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Where the old and new blend nicely

One of the blogs I read daily is Fr. Zuhlsdorf's "What Does The Prayer Really Say?".  Imagine my surprise when I saw a friend from seminary days being praised by Fr. Z.

Click here to read the entry about Fr. Greg Markey of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Priestly Pre-Ascension Press

From the AP:

Aramaic? anyone? anyone?

Today's New York Times has an article about the shrinking use of Aramaic in the Middle East.  Interesting article, considering it was the language of Christ (when he wasn't speaking Latin, of course).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

His Holy-honor-ness

Since journalists can't write the "Pope stories" they had hoped for: that the crowds are pitifully small, or that he wasn't well received, or that his visits with Catholics, Christians, and non-Christians have been mediocre, today's newspaper articles are making sure we know that pro-Abortion John Kerry and multiply-married (and equally pro-abortion) Rudy Giuliani both received Holy Communion at Masses celebrated by Pope Benedict in DC and Manhattan.

Hey, The Church has never held up these two as the poster-boys for what it means to be good Catholics.  Have we ever elected them Pope?  Nope.  We've done our part.

The way things have gone in the Big Apple, Pope Benedict seems like he could run for Rudy's old seat.  But would New Yorkers accept someone just moving in and running for elected office?  Can you say, "Hillary"?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pope at St. Pats

The Mass is about to begin.  He gave a "golden rose" to the National Shrine; any chance he makes St. Patrick's Cathedral a Minor Basilica?

Also, Cardinal Egan is as much a classical music buff as the Holy Father.  I'd bet against bongos at this Mass.

OK, Mass has begun.

Geez Louise, if I see one more Priest or Deacon snapping pictures during the procession...     So much for the procession signaling that Mass has begun.  I suppose we've been reduced to Mass beginning when the "performer" hits the "stage" that the "show" starts.  I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  Let's hope no one in the crowd leaves after Communion, since that's become commonplace, too.

Nope, no Minor Basilica, no golden rose, just a chalice & paten.  Now, don't get me wrong.  The Pope wants to give my parish a chalice and paten, I'd gladly take it.  I just thought there'd be more.  Of course, there is the apocryphal story that Pope John Paul II named Newark's Sacred Heart Cathedral a Basilica only as he and Archbishop McCarrick drove around it in the Popemobile during his 1995 visit.  So anything is still possible, though we all know that the Holy Father is much less likely to be "spontaneous" than his predecessor.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday night blogging

The Rangers are beating the Devils ... third period ... Madden just missed a penalty shot ... I go back and forth in my thinking that watching an intense hockey game is easier than playing in an intense hockey game.

The theme of tonight's activity is "photographs".  I just finished going through a box of photo negatives, uploading pictures on photo CDs to my computer, and going through old photo albums to make sure I already have copies of the stuff that I'm about to throw out.

Obviously the big story this week has been Pope Benedict's visit.  You've got to love our technological age.  From my rectory, I can watch the events taking place on live television.  If (and this time it's been more like "when") I get tired of the commentators, I can switch to Vatican Television's live streaming on the Internet.  Finally, thanks to other websites like the Vatican and the USCCB, I can get copies of the Holy father's talks.

Why am I not giving you up to date commentary and photos on the events?  Please, there's plenty of people out there doing this (heck, I read many of them myself).  Some bloggers, like Thomas Peters at American Papist, was "on the ground" in the District of Columbia, taking photos and making videos, giving us the "eye-witness" view.  Others, like the indomitable Fr. Zuhlsdorf at What Does The Prayer Really Say?, maintained his "command post" while posting commentary on the events (both his own and the comments of other bloggers).  This may also be the first papal event in which I got the bulk of my information from the Internet rather than the mainstream media.  Peggy Noonan has a great column on the Wall Street Journal website: saying something like, "If Pope John Paul II was the 'Pope of images' (remember, when his pontificate began in '78, television stations still signed off for the night), then Pope Benedict can be called the 'Pope of the Internet' (having the kind of events that make you want to download his words to ponder).

There's still some events left, culminating in Sunday's Mass at Yankee Stadium.  

By the way- the Devils lost.  In a way, I'm glad.  I can now watch the rest of the playoffs without the emotional attachment I have to the team I've followed since they arrived in 1982.  Emotions get in the way sometimes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hymnus Pontificius

Those of you who watched the welcome ceremony at the White House heard the national anthem of the Vatican City-State.

Composed by Charles Gounod as a "march" for the 50th anniversary of the Priestly ordination of Pope Pius IX, it was played for the first time on April 11, 1869, by a combination of seven military bands.  It was played in the presence of Pope Pius XII in a Christmas ceremony marking the start of the 1950 Holy Year, and it was Pius who then decided that Gounod's work should be adopted as the Papal Hymn (anthem) of the Vatican City-State.

While we heard the tune on the South Lawn today, here are the words:

O happy Rome, O noble Rome:
Seat of Peter, whose blood was shed in Rome,
Peter, to whom the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given.
Pontiff, You are the successor of Peter;
Pontiff, You are the teacher that confirms your brothers;
Pontiff, You who are the Servant of the servants of God, fisher of men, shepherd of the flock, You link heaven and earth.
Pontiff, You are the vicar of Christ on earth, a harbor amidst the waves, You are a beacon in the darkness; You are the defender of peace, You are the guardian of unity, watchful defender of liberty; in You is the authority.
You Pontiff, you are the unshakable rock, and on this rock was built the Church of God.
O happy Rome, O noble Rome.

On board the plane

"If you are in an exit row, please read ze pamphlet in ze pocket in front of you.  Alzo, your seat cushions are floatation devices in ze event of a wasser landing.  In a moment, I'll be around with ze beverage cart and a snack.  In ze meantime, sit back and enjoy your flight."
(thank you, Reuters, for the photo)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wasn't it the iceberg?

"In Weak Rivets, A Possible Key to Titanic's Doom"

My Pre-Pontifical Pilgrimage Ponderings

In a few hours, the Holy Father lands in the United States.  The mainstream media, whose "pre-papal visit" stories last week were non-controversial and actually somewhat interesting, have now jumped to stories with headlines like, "Restless Flock Awaits the Pope", and, "Facing Decline, An Effort to Market the Priesthood".  Let me give you a sampling of the articles (with my comments).

First, from "Restless Flock":

Some experts say the Vatican's views against divorce, contraception, abortion, homosexuality and stem cell research have driven away some Catholics, especially younger ones (does that make them "Young & Restless"?  Sorry, had to do it.  But seriously, if this were the case, shouldn't statistics show a jump in the membership of faith communities that allow these practices?  Anyone reading this have a Presbyterian, Unitarian, or Episcopalian community in their neighborhood that needs to build a bigger church because of all the new members they're getting?). But many other Catholics remain despite their differences with church leaders. Increasingly, those Catholics espouse a more democratic, even secular, faith that is far less dependent on a religious patriarchy and papal doctrine for instruction, according to both theologians and academics (...who want you to transfer your obedience on all matters of faith and morals from the Magisterium to, oh, I dunno, themselves?  Seriously, the majority of these theologians and academics don't spend any time in the average Catholic parish, except for - if we're lucky - a Saturday night or Sunday morning.  How can they possibly know what the faith life of a parish is, and, with all their academic degrees, what have they done in parishes to remedy it?). At the same time, the importance of their faith is based more on how to live their religion on their own moral grounds than on how church leaders say they should live (Ah, welcome to relativism.  Population: 1 AND ONLY 1!  You accept my way of living my life, and I'll accept your way of living your life - unless your way makes me feel guilty or selfish, then I have the right to call you a right-wing religious nut).

Now, from "Facing Decline":

The Rev. Luke Sweeney, director of vocations for the archdiocese — which covers the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and seven counties west and north of the city — says the church must make its case if it hopes to reinvigorate a priesthood that is increasingly elderly. “How do we get the ‘cool’ factor back into the priesthood?” Father Sweeney said. “If we don’t sell the priesthood, we can’t legitimately ask a young man to consider the priesthood as a vocation.”  (fancy videos are nice, and catch the attention of "Generation PlayStation", but in the end, Priests sell the Priesthood!  You can create a thousand 5 minute videos on YouTube to sell the Priesthood, but if these young men then go to Mass on the weekend and Father gives the impression by his preaching and his body language that he'd rather be anywhere else in the world except that altar, then it's all for naught.)

(Now, ready for some good news?) What the seminary lacks in numbers, it may make up for in intensity and eagerness. The seminarians speak of finding a joy and purpose that eluded them in secular careers.  “We live in a very confusing world, a world where there is a lot of evil in it, and good men need to step forward,” said Brian Graebe, a former high school teacher who is finishing his first year. “You can stick your head in the sand, or you can do something to change it. What more heroic life is there than to touch these eternal mysteries?”  (Amen, preach it!)

The biggest change, however, is in the age and backgrounds of seminarians. Decades ago, young men entered the seminary in their teens (...and, decades ago, young men also got married in their teens, and some went to war in their teens, and many got jobs in their teens that they intended to keep until the day they would retire from it.  The root of the Church's vocations shortage is grafted onto the bigger crisis of our culture's phobia towards any  decision that involves a permanent commitment.  Colleges allow students to be "undecided".  I can sign a contract committing myself to some business deal, and some lawyer can get me out of it.  I can make the promise to love someone for the rest of my life, and a divorce gets me out of that.  Should we be that shocked that, when we ask young men to make a decision that will affect them forever, they're a little bit hesitant?  NEWSFLASH: THEY'RE NOT USED TO IT!).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pope Benedict's Style

My pal, Fr. Guy Selvester, is featured in a photo essay on Pope Benedict's vestments on the Time Magazine website.  Check it out by clicking here.

Besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Today is the 143rd anniversary of the assassination of President Lincoln, who was killed at Ford's Theater back in 1865.

The Presidency and Presidential history have always been of interest to me.  I've always had an interest in Abraham Lincoln, going back to a paperback book that came out when I was young called "The Lincoln Conspiracy" (which questioned whether US government officials had anything to do with Lincoln's death).

In recent years, though, thanks to a friend whose parish is in southern Maryland, I've been able to visit some of the sites which were part of the history of the Lincoln assassination.

The first thing I've come to learn was that most of the people associated with the events were Catholics.  Dr. Mudd, Mrs. Surratt and her son John, David Herold, etc.  Not that their Catholicity had anything to do with it, it was just something I noticed.  John Surratt, in fact, in his escape from prosecution in the United States, actually spent time in service to the Papal Zouaves (infantrymen who defended the Papal States).  Later on, after his discovery and extradition to the United States, and after a trial jury deadlock gained him freedom, he became a schoolteacher where?  St. Joseph's School in Emmitsburg, Maryland (the town is also home to a great seminary).

A picture I took of Dr. Mudd's house
where Booth's broken leg was treated.

The site where Booth was discovered and killed,
a barn owned by Richard Garrett, is now an
empty clearing on the median for VA route 301.
(I came across the site returning from North Carolina,
and I should probably take this opportunity to apologize
 to the car behind me for stopping so suddenly.  Whoops, sorry)

Finally, since this is a blog with religious overtones, I'll leave you with a link to an interesting article called, Lincoln and the Will of God, which was published in First Things back in March.  The author, Andrew Ferguson, explores the faith and religious beliefs of Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back in Black

Sorry for disappearing from the blogosphere for a few days.  A few things have gone on that have kept me from posting.

First of all, I was gone for a few days down to Orlando, Florida, for an annual get-together with some Priest friends.  This is the 4th year that I've spent the 2nd week of Easter down there, and every time is a blast full of warmer weather and lots of laughs.  For the second time, we took a tour offered by Walt Disney World called the "Keys to the Kingdom" tour.  It's a four hour tour of the park which gives you great insider factoids that will appease the "inner-nerd" in you (including a visit inside the utilidor underneath the park).  Besides the food and fun, we also made a few stops into the Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine (which has all-day adoration and always has a Priest on-duty for Confession).

When I got back, we surprised my step-mother with a 70th birthday party.  I was the "bait" to get her to the restaurant for dinner, as she thought she was going out with me and her pastor for an early celebration of my birthday.  Little did she know that the dinner was for her (mwah-hah-hah).

Since October, I've been playing in a recreational hockey league, called the Geezer Hockey League, over at the Steel Ice Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  We finished in second place overall, and last Sunday we won the league championship game in the second period of sudden-death overtime.  Hockey-life, unlike real life, has no "eternal life" after death.

Finally, since my mother was away on business for my birthday, I spent an overnight with her so we could have dinner and some "bonding time", as she calls it.  Though she insists that it's my day, I always remind her that she did all the work; I just "showed up".

So, folks, I'm back.  I still have a bunch of things to do this week.  Uncle Sam expects my income tax return by next week.  I have to send out invitations to my 10th anniversary Mass (which means I first have to make the invitations).  Plus, there's adult education, a parish flea market, a junior youth group lock-in, AND the Pope is coming (to the U.S., I mean, not to Alpha).