Friday, June 27, 2008

Arinze on the tennis court

When we hear the name, "Cardinal Arinze", we think of him as the podcasting Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  But the current issue of Instaurare, the quarterly magazine of Christendom College, has pictures of Cardinal Arinze that few get to see.   His Eminence is fond of tennis, and during an visit to Christendom College last April, he had the chance to get on the tennis court for some exercise.

To see more pictures, click here.

From "the body isn't even cold yet" department...

This morning it was announced that Pope Benedict has named St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Segnatura (essentially "Chief Justice" of the Supreme Court of the Roman Catholic Church).

The nomination by Pope Benedict also meant the end of Burke's 4 year and 5 month tenure as Archbishop of St. Louis; he stopped being St. Louis' Ordinary with the announcement of his move.  He will make a visit to Rome in early July for about 10 days, and then spend roughly 5 weeks back in St. Louis, before taking up his new position on August 22.

Obviously the staff here at Young Fogeys (which amounts to, well, me) congratulate the Archbishop on the nomination and assure him of our prayers in his future endeavors for the universal Church.

But in the meantime, Excellency, if you already have any Blues tickets for next season that you won't be able to use, I'm available!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Guaranteed Fight Night"

Another article in today's Times has the story of a struggling hockey franchise down in Texas about to shut down for the next season, the Austin Ice Bats.  One of their marketing gimmicks in an attempt to fill seats was "Guaranteed Fight Night".  As the article explains it:
Guaranteed Fight Night, possibly the most self-explanatory gimmick in all of sports promotion, seemed to bottle the essence of the Austin Ice Bats, the sweatiest, rowdiest, most bruising pack of transplanted Canadians ever to charm this river city.
You know, if my diocese's annual "clergy dinner" did this, I bet more guys would show up.

There are no atheists in foxholes!

Check out this article in today's New York Times about the apparently growing concern that religion is "imposed" on students at our military academies.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bond. Father Bond.

I found this on YouTube, done by a Priest in Liechtenstein.  Talk about appealing to the icon of a generation:

Can you see the movies that would follow with a secret agent/Priest?
  • "From the Vatican, With Love"
  • "The Man With the Golden Chalice"
  • "Sacraments are Forever"
  • "Goldpaten"
  • "The Prelate Who Loved Me"
PS - the German tagline at the end reads "In His Divine Majesty's Service- Catholic Priest"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"All of this is so much more about Him, about His Church."

Today's Washington Post has a story about a friend of mine who was recently ordained a Priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.

For those who have never been through the excitement of the ordination a Priest and his first Mass, the article gives you a glimpse into the action.  For those of us who have been through it ourselves, the article helps us remember the excitement we experienced in those days, however many years ago it was.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Eucharistic Congress - what's wrong with this picture?

EWTN has been playing bits from the 49th Eucharistic Congress, being held in Quebec City.  The "Salt and Light" network, the national Catholic television network of Canada, has great people doing on-air translations of the largely French addresses.  What's bugging me is the "visual".  Let me explain:

Here's a photo of what people are seeing on TV.  What's wrong with this picture?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you said, "empty seats behind the speaker".

Ever see a speech on television by the President (or a candidate for President) in which there are people sitting behind the speaker?  You'll never see empty seats behind them; advance men have been fired over such things!  Empty seats become noticeable after the viewer looks at something for more than 10 seconds.  Their eyes naturally begin to wander toward the empty seats and their pretty blue color (or, "colour" in Canada).  Those hologram images (found on sale at kiosks in every mall in the known world) that contain "secret" pictures of dolphins or unicorns if you stare at them long enough operate under the same premise.  Whoops, went off the road there on a tangent.  Let me get back. 

Empty seats send the viewer messages like, "This isn't important", or for a candidate, "He/she doesn't have enough supporters to fill seats, so why should I bother to care about what's being said?"  When that camera position was set up for the speakers' podium, those seats in that section in the back that are always on camera should have been designated as "must fill" seats. What does "must fill" mean?  It means that, no matter what the day's attendance is, those seats are always filled.  Give them all T-shirts and free sodas, whatever, but do what needs to be done to make the picture pretty.  Some may call that "deception"; I call it "positive reinforcement".

In the meantime, you can download English translations of the talks at the Eucharistic Congress from the Zenit News Agency web site's "documents" section.  In particular, here are direct links to the talks given by Archbishop Wuerl and Cardinal Rigali.

Friday, June 20, 2008

B16 Addresses Radio Conference

The Vatican's Daily Press Bulletin reports that Pope Benedict received participants in that world conference on Catholic radio.  His address to them was a mix of Italian, Spanish, English, and French (my polyglot skills are good, but not that good), but as soon as an "all-English" translation is posted, I'll have it here.  Also, I just found out that EWTN is planning a conference on Catholic radio in October.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Radio called a modern pulpit

Today, on a whim, I checked out the podcasting host site that I bought space on last August to make the episodes of the radio show I hosted available over the internet.  While expecting to find little or no visitors to the website (except for perhaps one or two "sympathy hits").  I was shocked to find that, just in the last 7 days, a radio show that has had no new episodes produced in seven months had 64 unique web addresses listen to 171 episodes, whether by streaming or downloads.  Then, tonight, I read this article from the Zenit News Agency on the potency of Catholic radio:

What makes a radio station Catholic? And what can make Catholic radio more effective? These are some of the questions being reflected upon by a Vatican-sponsored conference under way in Rome.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications opened today the first world congress of Catholic radio stations. The council's president, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, told ZENIT that the conference has brought together people from some 50 countries representing 63 stations to "talk together, reflect and understand what the identity and mission of a Catholic radio station is in today's world."

The congress runs through Saturday at the Pontifical Urbanian University.

"The guests will not just hear conferences but will have the opportunity to talk among themselves in virtue of what is suggested by some round-table discussions," Archbishop Celli explained. "It will be very important that all the participants, who come from different contexts, from Asia to Africa, from Latin America to Europe and Australia, meet to discuss and rediscover their identity and mission."

This event seeks to analyze the present with sights set on the future, the prelate said, so that initiatives arise "that little by little make the service of a Catholic radio station in the world more efficient."

Noting how the Internet has changed the world of media, Archbishop Celli said, "I believe we must discover what is in store for us."


Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the inaugural address today.

The prelate suggested that despite the widespread use of TV, "radio still has its strength and usefulness."

"Jesus arrived as a great master of communication of the word," Archbishop Amato said. "For him, three years were enough to educate his disciples, not only to listen to his word, but above all, to live with him and for him."

Radio, the Vatican official continued, is the "modern pulpit of the word of God." And the chance to receive the word of God on the radio is "a privileged way of communicating the Word."

"The benefit of radio comes from the freedom that it leaves to the listener, who is drawn in not so much from the obligation to hear, but from fascination with the word," the prelate noted. From here arises the need for communication to be "clear, professional and accompanied by the testimony of an existence coherent with the evangelical message."

Facing challenges

For Archbishop Amato, "the microphone of Catholic radio could be considered a modern version of the pulpit."

"It is about an authentic and personal spirituality of listening," he added, "[to which should correspond] a spirituality of communication."

After his address, the prelate clarified that "this service of the Word also implies building up the listeners with indications from the magisterium of the Church, above all, with the words of the Pope."

He highlighted the importance of a variety of programs, all in harmony with one another.

In this line, the archbishop said, this "Catholic pluralism" should continuously motivate the "personal experience of faith faced with the challenges of contemporary culture, [such as] the challenge of abortion, divorce, biotechnology, [and] biopolitics with government interventions that do not seem adequate regarding man and respect for humanity."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where were you people 30 years ago?

The story is out about the vote on Rome's English translation of texts of the Mass by U.S. Bishops at their meeting down in Florida.  Like a papal conclave, the vote to approve the texts was "insufficient for election" (to use an homage to "Shoes of the Fisherman").

The reasons given for votes against the texts?  Bishop Galeone said that he hadn't heard some of these words since 1949.  Bishop Sklba said that if the texts were approved, that both clergy and laity would pester the prelates to fix "perceived" defects (interesting.  So if it is only "perceived" to be broken, would you then only have to "pretend" to fix it?).  Bishop Trautman complained of "archaic and obscure" terms.  Bishop Lynch joked that the lengthy sentences of the new texts would force priests to prepare themselves by pausing long enough to gather some breath (though, believe me, I've witnessed enough banal homilies in my short number of years to debunk the rumor that clergymen are in need of greater lung capacity).

So old words, words that appear to be outdated or unused in modern society have no place in 2008?  My question is this:  Where were you people 30 years ago when I was forced to study old, outdated, and obscure words for the SAT test?  Even if you weren't in any position to get me exempted from taking the test, the least you could've done was give me and my friends some support in our cause.

You see, thirty years ago we were using that same argument with our parents and teachers.  Why do we have to learn the meanings of words that aren't used in regular, everyday conversations?  While we're at it, why do we have to learn things like the atomic number for zinc?  How about having to learn sines and cosines, secants and the Distance Formula?  Do I really have to learn how to parallel park if I promise I'll never actually do it?

The answer we almost always got happened to be in pretty simple, easy to understand language: "Because I said so!"  We had to learn it because our parents had to learn it, and their parents had to learn it before them, because our great grandparents wished they'd have had the time to learn it, but had to go to work instead.  We had to learn it because, when we entered the classroom for whatever subject, those things were the important things to learn.  It was how we communicated, how we understood things, and how we compared things to each other in the world of math, science, etc.

Doesn't our faith deserve the same attention to detail?  Won't words we don't normally hear in our mundane lives give us the subliminal suggestion that what we do in church is not "of" our everyday world?  You know, "tithing" is an obscure, some would say archaic word, but Catholics have been hearing plenty about it for the past twenty years or so.  So "wrought" and "deign" and "gibbet" are new words; we'll learn them eventually.  How many people every day, when push comes to shove, find themselves in the emergency room of a hospital, talking to a doctor about someone in their family, using big, complicated words like, "myocardial infarction" or "deviated septum", and adapt and learn the words?  Besides, if this provokes clergy & laity to expand their vocabulary, is that such a bad thing?  If it means that clergy will have to prepare themselves by reading over a few times the prayers they're going to pray at Mass, is that so bad?  Don't we expect our doctors and lawyers to do similar preparation?

I promise, I'll still speak "regular guy" when Mass is over.

Friday, June 13, 2008

More on Moving (or, "Moron Moving")

I'm in the "transition phase" here.  I started packing, and I've begun the change of address stuff with my credit cards and everything else that will soon need to find me at a different place.  Normally this is a quiet time of year here in Alpha.  Religious education, RCIA, adult education, Altar Rosary, etc., have all finished for the summer.  Luckily, that means I have the time to pack and don't have to worry so much about parish events.

In the midst of all of this, God has given me another situation upon which to reflect.  Parishioners from my previous assignment contacted me about the death of a loved one, and asked whether I'd celebrate the funeral Mass.  Today I went down to their house to meet with the family and talk about the Mass.  First of all, it made my "woe is me" mood swings seem insignificant.  They're dealing with a situation I wouldn't want to face, and if they can be strong then so can I.

What moved me, above all else, was a photograph they showed me.  It was a photo taken of me years ago with one of their sons at an event in Basking Ridge, first Communion, I believe.  There it was, all framed, on a tabletop along with other important photos.  It blew me away that it they cared enough about me to include me in their "all star photos".  I've been away from that parish for half a decade, and they still care enough to keep me on the table!

This made me think of how many people I've affected in my ten years of Priesthood?  How many people we interact with at one moment of our lives, and never know the effect we've had?  A move to another parish does not mean that I "lose" these people; if anything, I gain more people as I move to a new parish.  I think that's what moved me to stop the "woe is me", get off my butt, and start packing.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Lynda Carter saves the day

WASHINGTON (AP) — The actress who played Wonder Woman on TV in the 1970s says she didn't do anything extraordinary when she discovered a body this week on the Potomac River in Washington.

Lynda Carter tells The Washington Post she was alone in a boat when she saw the body Wednesday. She says she didn't have a cell phone with her, so she yelled to some fishermen and asked them to call police. Carter waited until rescuers arrived and directed them to the body.

Don't you wish she had done THIS?  C'mon, you know you thought it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Way to go, Ozzy!

Congratulations to Chris Osgood of the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.  That's gotta feel good!

But a special shout out to Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins, who made some insane saves himself during the finals! (If you're looking for the puck, check out the tip of his skate)

You know what, that save is nice in a photograph, but needs to be seen on video...

Joy, Pain, Sunshine, Rain

I'm sorry for going silent for the past few days.  A lot has happened.

A week ago I was told that the Bishop was reassigning me to be Parochial Vicar (aka "associate pastor") at the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Old Bridge, New Jersey.  I was not surprised that I was being moved.  I've been in Alpha for five years, which is a long time for a Parochial Vicar's assignment.  Still, five years at one place means that I've gotten to know the place pretty well, and leaving a parish and its people is something I haven't had to do for, well, five years.

In my Priesthood of ten years, joy and sorrow seem to come together.  Back in 2000, on the two year anniversary of my Ordination day, my father passed away.  Now, on the day of my ten year anniversary of ordination, I'm told of the transfer.  But THAT'S Priesthood!  Joys and sorrows, with a few moments of enlightenment along the way, all on the way towards the glory of Heaven.  Life's like a Rosary, eh?

It was with this information in my head that I headed into a pre-scheduled Mass and party for my tenth anniversary of Priestly ordination.  I decided that telling people about the move would turn the celebration into a wake, so I kept it from parishioners for the weekend.  What a great Mass and reception it was!  I tried my best to prepare everything for the Mass and reception (with the help of lots of people), but the one thing I did not think about was what to say at the end of Mass.  All that I could think of was the simple truth: the people who came out for my Mass, whether from home, from Basking Ridge, from Alpha, or from faraway places like the Archdioceses of New York and Washington, DC, humbled me by their presence.  Looking out in the crowd was like the last scene from Mr. Holland's Opus: a sea of faces, each one bringing memories from my past. Here are some pictures taken by a friend:

A close up of me, at the Gloria, I think.

Seated during the readings.

My cousin and first pastor, Msgr. Bill Capik, preached the homily.  What a great gift he has been to me these ten years.

The vestment was a gift from the pilgrims whom I took to Rome back in January.  On the first night of the trip, they gave me a "thank you" gift and asked me to spend it on vestments.  I immediately thought of this Mass.  The chasuble comes from DeRitti's in Rome.

A group shot of me and the concelebrants.  Seven Priests joined me at the altar, while one attended in choir and another arrived late due to car trouble.  I'm grateful to them all.

at the consecration of the chalice (Oh, and one of you could have told me that I'm getting a bald spot!)

But now the party is over, and the reality has set in.  A few scripture passages at Mass this past week have helped me out:

Wednesday's Gospel, with the Sadducees asking Jesus the loaded question about the woman who married seven brothers and whose wife she'd be at the final Resurrection, particularly helped.  To paraphrase it in my mind, I thought to myself, "If a Priest spends two years in College Seminary, then four years in the Major Seminary, then five years at one parish, then five years at another parish, whose Priest is he?  Is he a Seton Hall priest?  A Mount St. Mary's Priest?  A St. James Priest?  or a St. Mary's Priest?"  The answer is, "None of the above."  The Priest is Jesus Christ's Priest, and wherever Jesus asks the priest to serve, he should serve.  This is obedience to Christ, speaking to each Priest through the Bishop.

Today's Gospel helped me break the news to the daily Mass attendees.  For today's Feast of St. Norbert, the Gospel (from Luke)  had Jesus tell the crowd following him, "... every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."  There are many things we don't think of as possessions: our health, our family, our friends.  One of the dearest "possessions" I have had for the past five years, I explained to them, has been this parish of St. Mary's.  Now, Jesus is asking me to trust him enough to "let it go".  Boy, I don't want to, but I know I have to.  I remember having the same feelings of dread (along with the accompanying knot in my stomach) with every change of scenery that I've had, going back to the day I left my home to go to the seminary.  God has been great to me thus far; I have no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The move doesn't take place until July 1st, so I have some time to start packing.  My emotions this week have been like a roller coaster: at times excited, at times scared.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Well we're living here in Allentown, and they're closing all the factories down.

Today's front page of the Express-Times has the story about the Diocese of Allentown's merging of parishes, bringing the number down to 104 from 151.  Check it out.