Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bishop Thomas Olmstead

If you haven't heard the backstory, Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix forbade a hospital to call itself a "Catholic hospital" because it performed a direct abortion. Now he's facing his own blizzard of negative press, not only from the pro-abortion gang you'd expect, but from a bunch of what are supposedly our own troops, who I think see themselves mirrored in that hospital.

In this clip, Bp. Olmstead was asked how he felt about all the negative things being said about him in the blogosphere.

Good answer. So many times as Priests, Deacons, Religious, laity, we allow the truth to pass through the filter of, "Will this make people not like me?" (the grammar may not be the best, but you know what I mean)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Where have all the flowers gone?

Fr Z's blog linked to's story on Planned Parenthood's recently released 2008-09 annual report. The report shows that, in 2008-09, Planned Parenthood received $363 million in government grants and contracts. A bulk of that, I'm sure, went to fund contraception (to prevent any new lives) and abortion (to kill the lives that did begin).

$363 million in a year. Let's remember that the next time we ponder why it is that there are more people collecting Social Security than putting into it.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Those who give homilies can relate to this

This one goes out to the Priests and Deacons who preach God's Word.

For weekend Masses, I usually have some notes to guide me. I don't read my homilies word for word (I don't think I could), but I have a guideline of where I want to go with it, and whatever I see along the way that helps me get there, so be it.

But for weekday homilies, I just go at it. By way of preparation, before Mass I check out the readings, read the Barclay Commentary on it, and try to read a bit about the Saint of the day (if there is one). What thread connects them all? Where's my "foot in the door" to get the crowd's attention? What do they need to know about this saint? How do I do it all in under 5 minutes?

This morning I preached about St. Nicholas. I got it all in: his connection to Santa Claus, the stories of his generosity, his theological fortitude in the days of the Arian heresy and the Council of Nicea. If I may say so, I was funny, profound, and left them knowing more about the Saint than they did before the Mass.

Preachers, when we're done, have a moment to ourselves. That little time that it takes to walk from the ambo to the chair is the time when we know in our hearts how we did with our homily. Today, it felt like this:

Though there are also days it feels like this:

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Fr. Cantalamessa on atheism

With the brouhaha over the billboard by the Lincoln Tunnel, atheism has been in the news lately. Father Cantalamessa's recent Advent meditation for the Holy Father and the Papal Household, titled, "The Christian Answer to Atheist Scientism", has a great passage:
There are nocturnal birds, such as the owl and the little owl, whose eye is made to see in the dark of night, not in the day. The light of the sun would blind them. These birds know everything and move at ease in the nocturnal world, but know nothing of the daytime world. Let us adopt for the moment the genre of the fable, where the animals speak among themselves. Lets suppose that an eagle makes friends with a family of little owls and speaks to them of the sun: of how it illuminates everything, of how, without it, everything would fall into darkness and cold, of how their nocturnal world itself would not exist without the sun. What would the little owl answer other than: "What you say is nonsense! I've never seen your sun. We move very well and get our food without it; your sun is a useless theory and therefore it doesn't exist."

It is exactly what the atheist scientist does when he says: "God doesn't exist." He judges a world he does not know, applies his laws to an object that is beyond their scope. To see God one must open a different eye, one must venture outside the night. In this connection, still valid is the ancient affirmation of the Psalmist "The fool says: there is no God."

Friday, December 03, 2010

Great reflection on the Church's funeral rite.

Zenit News Agency carried the homily given by Pope Benedict for Manuela Camagni, one of the consecrated ladies who care for the Pope and the Papal Apartments, who was killed in a car accident last week. At the end of the homily, he gave what I believe is a great reflection for any of us who have attended funerals of loved ones.
So, in this moment of sadness, we are consoled. And the liturgy renewed after the Council dares to teach us to sing "Alleluia" even in the Mass for the Dead. This is audacious! We feel above all the pain of the loss, we feel above all the absence, the past, but the liturgy knows that we are in the Body itself of Christ and that we live from the memory of God, which is our memory. In this intertwining of his memory and of our memory we are together, we are living. We pray to the Lord that we may feel increasingly this communion of memory, that our memory of God in Christ may become ever more alive, and thus be able to feel that our true life is in him and in him we all rest united. In this sense, we sing "Alleluia," certain that the Lord is life and his love is never ending. Amen.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

That's just wrong!

Yesterday I received a letter, asking me about how many palms I would like for Palm Sunday, 2011.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Advent at St. Lawrence

Some pictures I took this morning after decorating for Advent. The new addition this year is the tabernacle veil. Thanks to the ladies at Sacred Stitches for their work.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Abp. Chaput article

Archbishop Chaput has written an article for First Things Magazine's online addition about the hullabaloo over what the media says the Pope said.

Read the whole article HERE.

I leave you with one of his last thoughts:
In the context of the book's later discussion of contraception and Catholic teaching on sexuality, the Pope's comments are morally insightful. But taken out of context, they can easily be inferred as approving condoms under certain circumstances.

Black Friday "bluelight special"

Today was supposed to be so simple. The action today is all centered around retail shopping, and I had no intention of going near any stores. Simple, right?


My rectory is on a main street, the main street of Laurence Harbor. This street also happens to be a street that connects the Garden State Parkway to State Route 35. What that meant was that, this morning, at about 3:50am, I awoke to the sounds of cars zipping their way to and fro in front of my rectory (Note - on a normal day, my street doesn't get busy until after 5am). So why the action? People were on their way to join the rest of the drones who have been pressured into getting themselves out of bed, on what should be a day off, to walk around stores and malls at an hour when the only things that should be open are hospitals and diners!

Now, the next wave comes. I'm getting e-mails like crazy today, throwing discount codes and free shipping at me in a vain attempt to get me to do over the computer what I refuse to do in person.

So, in my attempt to turn lemons into lemonade, I will pass one on to you.

This one comes from the website, who specialize primarily in Mexican food. But, they also sell (and I know because I have bought a few from them over the years) excellent prints of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. With her feast day coming up in a few weeks (the 3rd Sunday of Advent this year), I figured some of you may want to get yourself a nice print. In addition, I was told by my e-mail, if you put the phrase MASECATAMALES in the coupon code box at check out, you'll get 25% off of your entire order.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fr. Joseph Fessio article

Father Fessio weighs in on the kerfuffle (and gives another good analogy of understanding what the Pope said).

Here’s an example of this distinction that parallels what the Pope said. Muggers are using steel pipes to attack people and the injuries are severe. Some muggers use padded pipes to reduce the injuries, while still disabling the victim enough for the mugging. The Pope says that the intention of reducing injury (in the act of mugging) could be a first step toward greater moral responsibility. This would not justify the following headlines: “Pope Approves Padded Pipes for Mugging” “Pope Says Use of Padded Pipes Justified in Some Circumstances”, Pope Permits Use of Padded Pipes in Some Cases”.

The article can be found HERE.

George Weigel article

George Weigel weighs in about the media's attempt at Goebbel-ing* the Pope's remarks.

Click HERE for the WEIGEL article.

* Josef Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Janet Smith article

Someone asked me to post the link to the article by Janet Smith from which the analogy in the previous blog entry was taken.

You can read her article by clicking HERE.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


In the next few days, you're going to read and watch news stories from a variety of media outlets telling you that Pope Benedict has "seen the light" and now understands that condom use by Catholics could be morally permissible. If you read this, think this:

Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin lays out well what the Holy Father said and the context in which he said it: READ JIMMY'S BLOG ARTICLE

In the article, Dr. Janet Smith gives a great analogy of what the Holy Father actually said:
"If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Get the honey, Junior!

Sorry I've been away from the blogosphere lately. A few things happened here that kept me occupied.

Since I first heard it recommended by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, I've been a regular user of William Barclay's commentary on the New Testament. I find it especially helpful for my daily Mass homilies, in the way they give a historical background to the people, places, and things found in Scripture (giving Mass attendees a tiny insight into the reading's context). Abp. Sheen does give a caveat: Barclay is a Presbyterian Minister, so his perspective on certain Scripture passages (John 6, Matthew 16:18, John 20:22, etc.) is not particularly Catholic. But by and large, the books are a great resource for anyone who leads a bible study or preaches regularly.

This one I found neat, for today's First Reading from Revelation, about the scroll being sweet like honey:

"It may well be that behind these words lies a pleasant Jewish educational custom. When a Jewish boy was learning the alphabet, it was written on a slate in a mixture of flour and honey. He was told what the letters were and how they sounded. After the original instruction, the teacher would point at a letter and would ask: 'What is that and how does it sound?' If the boy could answer correctly, he was allowed to lick the letter off the slate as a reward!"

Monday, November 01, 2010


Today was All Saints Day, and many oratories, shrines, and parishes (my own included) put out the relics of Saints for the veneration of the faithful. To some, the idea of bits of bone is a bit creepy. But I think it's a great reminder to all of us.

First, it reminds us that the Saints were real. Too many of today's heroes are not real; just characters created by a bunch of unknown writers who gather around a table each week and make sure this person says the funniest or most profound things while stuntmen make sure they do amazing things and casting directors have made sure they're incredible looking. The Saints were flesh and blood (and bone) like you and me, warts and all.

Look at what we "venerate" in pop culture: JFK's golf clubs, Jackie's jewelry, a baseball card, a football, Princess Diana's dresses, Elvis' sunglasses, Mr. Spock's rubber ear tips, a typewriter used by Hemingway. Using any of them doesn't make me powerful or glamorous or profound. But they remind me that it's the user who turns ordinary things into extraordinary ones, not the other way around. Can you imagine someday someone paying admission to look into your bedroom from behind a velvet rope?

What will be left behind of you or me 10 years after we're dead? 50 years? 200 years? We have a few years on earth to make our holiness known. If we do it right, we'll be talked about a thousand years after we're gone. That's amazing. Those are the Saints.

Geez, I'm in a weird mood tonight.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

T. on L.'s article (thanks to Z). Sounds like a James Bond plot.

Father Z's blog turned me on an essay written by Fr. Dwight Longenecker (whose blog I don't read as often as I should) on the topic of celebrating Mass ad orientem (here's the test: "ad orientem" to the optimist means, "the Priest, together with the community, facing God together". To the pessimist, "ad orientem" means, "the Priest turning his back on the people in a malicious return to the evil, wicked, Pre-Vatican II days").

The last two paragraphs jumped out at me, personally, because I've seen it in myself and in others.

"...when everyone has to look at the priest all the time I am not surprised that so many of our church liturgies have become entertainment oriented and the priest is burdened to be the main entertainer. Why do so many Catholic parishes now take on the personality of their priest? Maybe because the priests are too much the center of attention. Why do so many priests seem to revel in all this attention? Maybe because every time they go to the altar they are the center attraction. Maybe this has also contributed to the narcissism and showy-ness of so many of our priests.

When I pray the Mass in the same direction of the people it is amazing how I don't have to worry about myself and what I look like and whether I'm putting enough 'feeling' into the words. Instead I merge into the people behind me who are praying with me. I feel caught up in a wave of their prayers as their prayers and mine are offered to the Lord who is up and beyond both of us. I feel no alienation at all in 'turning my back to them.' On the contrary, I feel closer to them and more one with them as we all pray in the same direction. I am no longer 'up there' with them all looking at me. Instead I am with them and one with them as together we turn toward the Lord."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hey Jude (and Simon)

Today's feast day gives us 2 great lessons:

Simon the Zealot: What does society get zealous over? Sports teams? Charlie Sheen being found naked and passed out in a hotel room? Conan O'Brian coming back? Glee? Why do we accept a high level of devotion to a person, team, or cause, but not religion? Parents will clutter the back window of their cars with stickers, magnets, and even paint jobs that essentially say, "I'm proud of my athlete/graduate/ honor student", but when have you ever seen, "I'm proud my daughter/son was Confirmed", or, "I'm proud my child went to World Youth Day", or, "I'm proud my daughter doesn't dress like a pole dancer when she goes to the mall"?

Jude Thaddeus: Ah, the "Jimmy Carter" of the Apostles: more revered for what he did after being in office than while in it. The patron of the impossible cause. The cause of countless copies of novenas being made and randomly left in pews of churches. A money maker for newspapers, who take money from the persons who wish to publicly thank the Saint for a favor granted. The beauty of acknowledging the power of St. Jude as an intercessor for the lost cause is that this also acknowledges that, for God, no cause is lost, no happening is impossible.

Also, two great martyrdoms: St. Simon sawn alive, St. Jude speared. If you live in a parish that wants the kids to dress in Saint costumes this Sunday, let your kids make a Halloween costume out of that!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Question of the Day: Oct. 26

The first reading at Mass today is that ever-maligned Ephesians 5:21-33.

If you're a Priest, did you preach on it?
If you're anyone else who attended Mass today, did you hear anything about it?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is that so wrong?

Sandro Magister has a great story, fresh off of Pope Benedict's announcement of his intention to create new Cardinals. You can e-subscribe to Chiesa, and get told when new articles are posted. But I digress. In his article, Magister floats an idea in the last paragraph:
Next Monday, October 25, in the academic hall of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Piazza Sant'Agostino in Rome, Maestro Bartolucci will also receive an award from the Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra, together with Benedict XVI's brother, Georg Ratzinger, another great proponent of liturgical music.

And it will be as if the purple given to the former is also honoring the latter. Something not entirely bizarre, if one remembers that Leo XIII, at his first consistory in 1879, made a cardinal of his brother Giuseppe Pecci, a Jesuit and the deputy librarian of the Vatican library.
An interesting "what if?" I'm afraid of how the media would react, but still there should be something to being the Pope's brother. Could anyone, other than the Holy Father himself, ever really know the influence or counsel Msgr. Georg has been during their lifetime?

What would happen if Pope Benedict made Msgr. Georg Ratzinger a Cardinal?
  • At age 86, he's ineligible to vote in a Conclave, should he outlive his younger brother.
  • Within the College of Cardinals, seniority counts. As "Cardinal Ratzinger" [who thought we'd ever say that again?] he'd be there for his brother's funeral, though towards the back because of his low seniority within the Sacred College. Truthfully, he'd probably have a better seat as "the Pope's brother" than as a Cardinal.
  • Cardinals are usually chosen among the world's Bishops, but not always so (and especially amongst the ad honorem ones). Though they may wear the Pontificals (mitre, pectoral cross, and of course the ring), they may ask to not be ordained a Bishop. This was true in the case of Avery Cardinal Dulles. So naming Msgr. Georg a Cardinal would not even necessarily raise him to the episcopacy.
  • Nepotism? C'mon, even today I can rattle off the names of a few Priests who seem to have gotten a little something extra because of a blood relation to a Bishop.
  • Hasn't been done lately? Is that on purpose, or because we've had a drought when it came to a Pope with a sibling who is a Priest? JP2 had no living siblings. Both JP1 and P6 had 2 brothers, neither clergy. I believe Pope John XXIII had a nephew, though I may be wrong.
OK, readers, anything I'm missing?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


No, not the math. This morning's Gospel (and something else going on) has me in a mood to opine about the topic.

At first what Jesus says sounds harsh, I mean, did the Son of God really come to break families apart? But division is a part of the life of a family. A child really can't learn to ride their bicycle until dad or mom lets go of the back of it. Like the ice skating cliché: If you never fall, you'll never learn how to pick yourself up.

Plus, let's remember that Luke the Evangelist is writing for the Christians from pagan areas, something like 50 years after the Ascension. Those who read this Gospel certainly would have known through personal experience that Christianity causes division within families and friendships. In other words: what sounds radical to us probably wasn't so radical to the original readers.

But is it really so radical to us? I can't tell you the number of times I've heard the lament of older parishioners about their children don't go to Mass (except for Christmas and Easter). More than a few times I've had the funeral Mass of a man or woman in the 80's, and looking out in the pews is like looking at the layers of an archaeological dig:
  1. The deceased (let's call her Mary, for example) in the casket, front and center: 88 years old, and a daily Mass/at least monthly Confession goer.
  2. Mary's children in the front pew: in their high 60's in age, come to Mass every Saturday afternoon (Sunday if they had a wedding/graduation/birthday party to go to the night before). They know when to sit and stand at Mass, and the right responses.
  3. Mary's grandchildren in pew #2: in their 40s. Went through CCD, got Confirmed and never came back. They come to Mass on Christmas Eve at 4:15 (Mass started at 4) and if there's a wedding, baptism, or funeral. The postures and responses are familiar, but they're out of practice, so they just watch what the rows ahead of them are doing.
  4. Mary's great-grandchildren in row 4: Teenagers. Went to CCD, but not to Mass. Don't know what to respond, or when to stand or sit. But they really don't care (and worse, they don't care that they don't care). One has her iPod earphones in; the other is playing with his Playstation. They still come up to receive Communion. Can't wait for the funeral to be over because they texted their friends to meet them for lunch.
Sounds like a divided family, no? But the truth is that there's not a lot of division there. The division that is there shows itself between the family and the Church.
  • The division was there when the great-grandchildren were told in CCD that missing Mass on Sunday was an offense to God and a sin, and the parents called the CCD office to complain about what the kids were being told. What with soccer and football and cheering and hockey and apple picking and garage sales, there's just no time for church.
  • The division happened in the grandchildren when they got mad at Father, because he told them that he needs to see them at Sunday Mass for a few weeks before he allows them to serve as Sponsors for their niece or nephew's Confirmation. "This is why people leave the Church!", we're told just before they hang up. [No, this is what people who have already left the Church use as the excuse they've been hunting for.]
This is the world we face, where clergy are no longer expected just to convey the Church's doctrine to the faithful, but to convince them of it, as if the Laity have the right to refuse if Father's argument isn't convincing enough. Priests have to become like Billy Mays, who had a 30 minutes to convince you that your life was meaningless and empty without some gadget, and that you absolutely need the doo-hickey in order for your life to be transformed and euphoric. Hello Billy Mays, goodbye Bing Crosby.

Let me conclude with a story a friend of mine tells. He was invited to the home of parishioners for a get-together, where he gets the line from someone who was angry after being told he couldn't have things the way he wanted for his child's wedding: "Gone are the days when the Priest was always available and willing to go out of his way to help people." He responded (with just as much sarcasm in his voice), "No, gone are the days when the Priest told you 'no', and you listened to him!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here's to you, Washington, DC

With the creation of Abp. Wuerl as a Cardinal on November 20, the Archdiocese of Washington, DC will, once again, have three living Archbishops who were members of the Sacred College. The last time, while Card. McCarrick was the Ordinary, included James Cardinal Hickey, who died in 2004.

William Cardinal Baum
Abp. of Washington, DC 1973-1980
Created a Cardinal - May 24, 1976
(at the age of 49!!)

Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Abp of Washington DC 2000-2006
Created a Cardinal - Feb. 21, 2001

Blessed John Henry Newman

“God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught…Therefore I will trust Him, whatever I am…He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me—still, He knows what He is about."

Big Shock: Pope names new Cardinals

In what was the worst kept secret, Pope Benedict today announced his intention to create new Cardinals at a November 20 Consistory.

I got up to watch it on the live feed of the Wednesday General Audience. The internet is a pretty amazing thing that we sometimes take for granted. I happened to be in Rome the last two times Pope Benedict announced new Cardinals. At least watching it on the net makes me feel like my streak is still alive.

Two Americans are on the list, Archbishops Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Segnatura and Donald Wuerl of DC. No O'Brien, no Dolan, the unspoken rule against having two "if-there-was-a-Conclave-voting-age" Cardinals still has an effect (Card. Keeler will turn 80 on Mar. 4, 2011; Card. Egan on Apr. 2, 2012).

Neither was there any See named out of left field (as last time's Galveston-Houston). Apparently, the chat seems to have been true that "Detroit's red hat went to Texas". Cardinal Maida turned 80 last March, yet Archbishop Vigneron was not on today's list.

OK, it's 6:30 a.m. Time for my day to start.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pope Benedict through Superman

Remember this scene from Superman: The Movie, how that one green crystal created the Fortress of Solitude?

The London Telegraph has run a story about the parish of St. Peter's in Folkestone, Kent (England), and their decision to "jump the Tiber" and leave the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Church.

Fresh off of Pope Benedict's visit to the UK, I can't help thinking of him as that green crystal.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A little culture

When I'm working at my desk, my iTunes shuffles my library, and sure enough today it played a talk by Archbishop Dolan which he gave at Mount St. Mary's Seminary a few years ago (he was Abp. of Milwaukee at the time). In it, he quoted the Italian poet Carlo Coretto:

How much I criticize you, O Church, and yet how much I love you!

You have made me suffer, O Church, and yet how much I owe you more than anyone else.

I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence.

You have given me so much scandal, and yet you have helped me understand sanctity.

I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false--and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.

No, I cannot free myself from you because I am you, although not completely.

And where would I go? To start another Church? I could not, without the same defects, because they happen to be my defects. It would then be my church, not yours. And I'm old enough to know better.

B16's letter to seminarians

Just when you thought the Year for Priests was over last June, the Vatican released a letter Pope Benedict has written to the seminarians of the world (in the way they released the letter, they themselves have tied this into the Year for Priests). Click HERE to read the letter.

Yes, written for seminarians, but some things that Priests need to hear again (as the years since our seminary days get farther and farther away). Too many times I've encountered grumpy, angry, unhappy Priests, and I've left thinking to myself, "They couldn't possibly have been this unhappy when they entered the seminary, so what happened to them?" So here are some bits from the letter:

"When the Lord tells us to 'pray constantly', he is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God."

"At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist. Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days."

"The sacrament of Penance is also important. It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Got God?

Photo by AP

An op-ed piece by Sis Bowman in the Zanesville (Ohio) Times Recorder is definitely worth a read.

Pop quiz time

Clear your desks and take out a piece of paper and a pencil.

A Catholic's obligation to attend Mass on Sunday can be fulfilled by...

a) dropping your offeratory envelope in the rectory mail slot.
b) arriving at church before the Priest processes in and leaving after he's processed out.
c) standing in the back of church talking to someone while Mass goes on.
d) staying until the collection and then walking out.
e) attending the anticipated Mass on Saturday evening.
f) "Sunday obligation? I'm a good Catholic, and I don't believe we have to go to church to be good Catholics."
g) b and e only
h) all of the above

The answer, from what I've seen, is "h". I thought it was "g".
Go figure.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

32 years ago today.

Great site!

Yes, to those who wondered whether I died, left the Priesthood, or just got caught up in the Rapture, I am alive and well. Well, not so well. I bit of a cold has me operating at 75%. But my colds are pretty predictable, and so I'll be back to normal by Tuesday.

But even in my congested state, this blogsite got me laughing. A thanks to Fr. Tim Finnegan for pointing this out.

[cue ominous organ music]

In this season of creepy, scary things, dare to visit the BAD VESTMENTS BLOG.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random B16 quotes on the Priesthood.

I've finally been able to catch up on some reading. I printed out the Q&A session the Holy Father had with Priests of the world at the celebrations marking the end of the Year for Priests (I know, that was LAST JUNE! I just got to it 2 weeks ago. I'm not proud, I'm just sayin'). So here are the quotes for my brothers out there:

"The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood -- into a normal profession, into a job that has its hours, and for the rest of the time one belongs to oneself, thus rendering it, as any other vocation, accessible and easy."

"I would say that we know the three fundamental priorities: they are the three columns of our being priests. First, the Eucharist, the sacraments: to render the Eucharist possible and present, above all to offer Sunday Mass, insofar as possible, for all, and to celebrate it in a way that it really becomes the visible act of love of the Lord for us. Then, the proclamation of the Word in all the dimensions: from personal dialogue to the homily. The third point is 'caritas,' the love of Christ: to be present for the suffering, for the little ones, for children, for persons in difficulty, for the marginalized; to really render present the love of the Good Shepherd.

And then, a very important priority also is the personal relationship with Christ. ... personal conversation with Christ is a fundamental pastoral priority, it is the condition of our work for others! And prayer is not something marginal: it is in fact the 'profession' of the priest to pray."

"Each of us should do everything possible to live our priesthood in such a way that it is convincing."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Sorry I haven't written a flippin' thing for almost a month.

Yes, I'm alive. I promise to be back in the blogosphere soon.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The muse has hit me - MORE Haiku

Loads of committees.
Four people for Confession.
Successful parish?

Welcome back? Where ya been?

Soon parish churches will get noticeably fuller on Sundays. Once Labor Day comes and goes, the light goes on in the minds of those who treat church as if it was school (closed during the summer).

Let's put the following in the "How times have changed" file.

This morning a parishioner let me take home a "monthly calendar" (probably the forerunner of the church bulletin) from St. Mary's Church, South Amboy, NJ, from August, 1941. At the end of the booklet was this article.

First, it taught me that things were not so perfect before Vatican II. People missed Mass then, as they do now. The difference I've found is that, in 1941, you were obviously allowed to tell them that it's a sin.

I put it out there for Pastors to save and perhaps use next June, as the summer begins.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Pope on Solid Ground

From today's London Telegraph:

After the Pope presides at the beatification of Cardinal Newman in Birmingham later this month, he plans to travel to St Mary's College, Oscott, to have lunch and his customary siesta. When seminary staff checked the room he was due to stay in, they found that the joists, supporting the boards, were loose, making the room structurally unsound.

"The Holy Father wouldn't have fallen through the floor," Mgr Mark Crisp, the rector of Oscott, tells today's Tablet. "The strengthening of the room needed to be done so the Pope has done us a favour." Benedict XVI will stay in the Episcopium, the room normally assigned to travelling prelates. The Vatican recce team also felt the bed in the room was too high for the Benedict, who, at 83, needs to be able to climb in with ease, so a new one was acquired.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yay, me!

I had a wedding this afternoon at another parish, so I had a visiting Priest friend o'mine cover my Saturday evening Mass. I did, however, get back to the parish in time to greet the people as they were leaving Mass.

I went over and stood in the back of the church (which I suppose is really the front of the church) by the doors. In fact, I stood dead center, using my girth to block access to the outside.

I stood, and waited.

Soon, there it was. Just after the moment the celebrant gave the final blessing, they began to come towards me, trying to leave Mass.

And I didn't budge.

In a rare moment of bravery, I said in my best passive-aggressive voice, "Oh no, you can't go yet. Father hasn't left yet."

Soon there was a logjam of humanity. People unable to escape, wondering what was wrong. Thinking, "Every other week we're in our car by now. What gives?"

As I stood my ground, I was trying to figure out why I was so "all of a sudden" brave?

Then it hit me. I didn't not recognize any of them, even though I've been here for 13 months. Week after week they come to Mass and leave early, so I never get the chance to shake their hands before they make for their cars.

Next week, I'll have the Saturday night Mass, and they'll leave early again.

But I did have this afternoon, and it felt great.

Yay, me!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Posh People at Trader Joe's

This morning, having nothing planned on my day off, I went to a Trader Joe's supermarket. I found about Trader Joe's years ago, and there are some things they sell that I absolutely love. Right now I live just far enough not to make a habit of going there, but close enough that it's entirely do-able.

It's kind of a "shi-shi" supermarket, with lots of organic stuff, lots of propaganda posters about preserving the environment, and, well lots of peculiar people. I like to think of it as "shopping and a show".

While walking around there today, what came to my mind were the series of 'Posh People' skits by the British comedian Catherine Tate. Watch this and you'll get the idea.

reaping what you sow

Back in May, I posted some pictures of my gardening efforts. This morning was uncharacteristic for this summer; a beautifully overcast, windy day with bits of rain, and some of my peppers and tomatoes were ready to be picked.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Eulogy article

Almost every clergyman (and most laity) have stories they can tell about experiences they've had at funerals with respect to eulogies. The stories, sadly, are usually about bad ones rather than good.

Thanks to Fr. Bernie Healey of the Diocese of Providence for bringing this to my attention, which comes from the U.S. Catholic website. Here are some bits from the article. They're looking for input on readers' experiences with eulogies, so click HERE to go to the website and read the full article.

Death by eulogy

A Catholic funeral is no place for a eulogy, says a Catholic pastor, but that doesn't mean we can't speak well of the dead.

By James Field, pastor of Incarnation Parish in Melrose and Saugus, Massachusetts and the former director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese of Boston.

The commonplace "eulogy" is not part of our Catholic tradition, and it doesn't belong in a Catholic funeral Mass. Eulogy is Greek for "word of praise," and we come to bury Caesar and not to praise the wretch, as Shakespeare says, because the only one we praise in liturgy is Christ.

...lately funerals have taken on the attributes of canonizations. Secular canonizations at that. Nary a word of faith, of a disciple's life, is heard at during the "words of remembrance," that brief time after communion set often set aside to remember the deceased Christian witness (rather than list off accomplishments, or more often, embarrassing moments). Indeed, you may be surprised that the Catholic Order of Christian Funerals makes only one mention of a "eulogy"-and there it outright forbids them, even warning that homilies are to be kept free from the eulogistic style.

Nevertheless, the custom of having a "word of remembrance" at the funeral Mass has seized hold in the last 30 years or so, sometimes with the grudging approval of bishops in the particular law of the diocese. This adaptation normally happens after the communion prayer and before the final commendation. Where there are guidelines, they are often ignored.

Not long ago, a priest in a nearby parish was horrified to hear a beer can pop open in the pulpit as a tipsy cavalcade of grandchildren saluted their salubrious grandpa with a final Schlitz. Next they will be wielding champagne bottles against the casket like Mamie Eisenhower smacking the bow of an aircraft carrier. I once squirmed through an extended story involving bad clams, diarrhea in a roadside forest, pursuing skunks, and home remedies that was a disgrace to the memory of a fine old Catholic gentleman.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Feast of St. Jean-Marie Vianney

Happy Feast day to my brother Priests out there! Today is our feast day, and a chance to reflect on the life of St. John Vianney. So here are some pictures on this occasion.

St. Jean Vianney (1786-1859)
The Curé of Ars

The tomb of the Curé of Ars

The kitchen of the Curé of Ars

The seldom-seen
"Keurig of Ars"
(It's not really on the tour; you have to ask to see it)
What can I say? The man liked his coffee.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Saint Lydia

Today is the feast day of Saint "Lydia the Purpler", who was St. Paul's first convert in Philippi. She comes to us in Chapter 16 of Acts of the Apostles.

In honor of the Feast day, and because I could use the laugh, here's one from Groucho.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dead Priest Quotes

In writing about my predecessor's passing, I came across these quotes, which came from "A Priest Forever", Fr Benedict Groeschel's book about the life and death of Fr. Eugene Hamilton, as well as Archbishop Fulton Sheen's book, "The Priest Is Not His Own".

“Priests should look upon death as one of the last functions of the priesthood. It is their last Mass. This mortal body with which you were born at the incarnation was for you, O Jesus, only the material of the sacrifice. This is what this mortal body should be for each of those who share your priesthood. They must make use of it, as you did, to preach the truth, to edify men. But the essential, sacerdotal use they must make of it is to die. … They should, then, prepare for it as they prepare to celebrate Mass, because the death of a priest is a Mass, united to your death and consummated in yours for the salvation of mankind.”
Fr. Gaston Courtois

“A priest must aim to fulfill the ideal of death, the death of a victim united with Jesus crucified. … Our whole life should be a preparatory exercise for the great act of our death, the act of our supreme sacrifice with Jesus.”
Fr. Jules Leo Grimal

“Our struggle as priests then is not to become angelic and to live as if we had no body, but to become more Christlike. ‘This is my earnest longing and my hope … that this body of mine will do Christ honor. (Philippians 1:20)’”
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“From the day of his ordination, a priest can never forget that he has been called by God himself. The priest is called to be...
...a servant,
...a victim,
...a brother,
...a listener,
...a friend.”
Terence Cardinal Cooke

Joy... Pain... Sunshine... Rain.

Sorry that I haven't written in a bit. The Haiku was a flash of genius in my normally predictable and unimaginative life. Still, it got me thinking of a few more poetic shots across the bow towards those who annoy me. You know what they say, "When life throws you lemons, make a pipebomb." Wha, just me?

Anyway, I recall saying to myself last May that I was looking forward to an uneventful summer. My first one, in fact, since the last time my summer did not involve packing, moving, unpacking, and getting to know a new place. That last time was 2007. That was the year Anna Nicole Smith died and Al Gore won a Nobel prize, just to set the stage.

So, last week, I was formally and officially installed as Pastor of St. Lawrence Parish. My Bishop was here along with 14 priests (no easy task on a Sunday). It was a glorious day, a bit on the hot and humid side (it is July, after all), but still a great day which found me in a daze I hadn't felt since my ordination weekend, wondering if it all was really happening. Here's a pic:

Joys and sorrows are a part of every person's life, and the same can be said in the life of a parish. This past Wednesday, my predecessor as Pastor of St. Lawrence, Father Joe Szulwach, passed away. Though we knew his health was not at all good, the quick decline we witnessed and his past rallies from death's door made it still a bit of a shock. His body will arrive here on Monday afternoon, and his funeral is scheduled for next Tuesday. Though I've had some experience with a dying Pastor, I'm still nervous about making sure I've done everything properly. Tomorrow, in fact, I'll have another "first" in my Priestly life: vesting a deceased Priest.

So next week is August, and I've often said that in the lift of a parish Priest, summer ends on the Feast of the Assumption. That's when thoughts turn towards September and the emergence of all the meetings and programs that come out of summer hibernation.

Monday, July 05, 2010

July 5

So today everyone gets a day off to celebrate July 4th. But today is July 5th. I always remember a few years ago, where the Monday after the 4th was celebrated as "Independence Day Holiday". I was getting ready to celebrate Mass, when the weekend organist came in to tell me she was playing because it was the "4th of July". I told her she could certainly stay, but that July 4th had passed and I didn't want any patriotic music at this Mass. She gave me one of those looks.

So today is July 5th and everyone takes another day off. Somehow our forefathers put their necks on the line with King George, so that we could have a day off. But a day off from what? Kids are already off from school, so are teachers. It's wasted on them. If I were them, I'd petition for a day off in September sometime, maybe the day after Labor day.

[whoops, went off on a tangent there. let me bring it back]

So the Gospel this morning tells the story of Jesus interacting with two people: The synagogue official and the woman with the hemorrhage. Two great moments:
  • The synagogue official was not just an official, but the man in charge of the day to day running of the Temple. Chosen by the elders, he would have been a man of undoubted faith and an unquestionable reputation among his people. What a moment it must have been when this highly esteemed man who represented the Temple itself came and knelt before Christ. How many gasps there must've been in the crowd at this sign of submission. But he also would have been a guy who loathed Jesus, and the way He was luring people away from Judaism (eg - work on the sabbath). If this guy is coming to Jesus on behalf of his daughter, he's doing so because he has tried everything else to heal her. His belief in Jesus' power is somewhat limited, but normal, since he believed Jesus could only heal her if He touched her.
  • The woman with the hemorrhage is suffering daily. Blood loss would have made her perpetually weak. Society would have stayed away from her, since Jewish law said a woman was unclean during her menstrual cycle (her condition made her perpetually unclean in their eyes). She, too, probably tried every cure and remedy people recommended, all to no avail. Finally, she goes to Jesus. She has such a faith in His power that she feels even touching his clothing (touching something that is touching Him) will heal her.
The danger is that she was looking to touch Jesus' tallit just for the healing power, like some sort of vending machine. We still have that crowd around us: How many of our Catholic brothers and sisters come out for ashes or to have their throat blessed, without any desire or intention to go to Mass or Confession? It leans towards idolatry, just a hop, skip, and jump from those who think rock crystals have special powers. Even Jesus is afraid the crowd (and the woman) will feel His healing power comes from his garments, so He makes sure to tell the woman her faith healed her.

Finally, I also love that line at MT 9:24, when Jesus says the girl is "not dead, but sleeping". Sometimes as parish Priests, we can throw our arms up in the air in disgust and surrender when we see people continually arrive late for Mass, get up in the middle of the consecration to go to the bathroom, or leave right after receiving the Eucharist. I love that Gospel passage because it gives me hope. Their faith is not dead, just dormant and needs to be woken up.

Now, what can I do to "wake" it? Oh, lots of things (he says with an evil grin).

Friday, July 02, 2010

Why am I smiling?

Good question. A few reasons.

First, the humidity has been gone for almost 48 hours now. It fell just right, so that I had an enjoyable day off yesterday driving around back roads of my diocese without the need for air conditioning.

Next, on Fridays, one of my predecessors as Pastor here (now retired and living in the area) comes and says the daily Mass here, giving me the chance not so much to "sleep in" as take extra time, have a second cup of coffee, and watching TV. With a cool breeze blowing through my rooms it was a lovely morning.

Finally, I had a funeral this morning of an 80 year old man I anointed a few days ago. Eight children. Twenty grandchildren. Lots of sibling who, themselves, have large families. To quote Rocco Palmo's overused words, "suffice it to say" the church was packed.

But what made this funeral palpably different was the level of participation. Everyone knew the responses. People sang. Everyone knew when to stand and sit and kneel. Everyone was respectful. Sadly, this is so rare today that, when it does happen, it stays with me (and any priest of deacon reading this will back me up on that). Truthfully, having one funeral like this fortifies me enough to take nine other funerals in which it seems that the only one who went to church regularly was the deceased.

THAT'S why I'm smiling.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On Retreat

Happy Monday, Church.

I'm sorry for "going dark" on you. Things here are so busy, what with all that I have to do.

I'll be away this week on retreat at my alma mater, Mount St. Mary's Seminary. Please pray for me.


SVILUPPO: I hope this made you feel as if Rocco himself was giving the news.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Kingdom of Heaven: our "Best" or our "best offer"?

We're a culture of negotiators.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. If you like Rice Krispies, and one supermarket sells a box for $4.99 while another sells the same box for $3.99, you'll tend to buy it for the lesser price. You need to buy a new refrigerator, naturally you price hunt.

But it creeps up in other things. I accumulated $15,000 in debt on my credit card; How much do I really have to pay the company? The parish I belong to has a deadline of August 1 to submit registrations for religious education; when can I really turn it in? The speed limit on the Garden State Parkway is 65 m.p.h.; how fast can I drive without attracting the attention of the State Police? And, if I do get pulled over, what combination of cards, window stickers, and sweettalk will get the Trooper to NOT write the ticket? Sadly, we think we can negotiate with God. If I sing in the choir, can I be rude to my neighbor? If I donate food to the parish's social ministry, can I let my son/daughter share a hotel room with his/her prom date for the weekend? If the doctor tells me that there's a spot on my lung, do I expect the Just Judge to "dismiss it" if I promise not to smoke anymore?

In the Gospel today (still Matthew 5), Jesus begins to make his authority known (You have heard it said... But I say to you...) using the examples of murder and anger. Now you can't think of doing something, but not do it, and remain "righteous". Now, like the cloud mentioned in the first reading, you have to stop the storm when it's off in the distance.

The Lord set a tough standard for us to follow. It's gonna take work.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

An homage to Father Z

In the life of a parish Priest (especially when you live alone), having the time to cook a meal is an almost unheard of treat. But, the other day, after reading another of Fr. Zuhlsdorf's culinary triumphs, I couldn't resist this:

On Sundays people should, if possible, get together for a nice meal. But after three Sunday Masses and a Corpus Christi procession, my desire for a meal is outweighed by my desire for things like a couch, The West Wing on DVD, and some air conditioning.

But still, I needed to eat, so I decided to whip up one of my favorite recipes: Un panino di burro arachidi con patate fritte e ciambelline di ciocolata which is a "Peanut butter sandwich with potato chips and chocolate donuts".

First, I undid the twist tie on some Pane Italiano.

... unscrew the lid on your peanut butter ...

... spread the peanut butter on the bread evenly ... Be sure not to let your bird feeders distract you!!! ...

To drink, I priced a fine Thé Freddo a Limone di Wawa, vintage 2010.

The finished product. Buon Appetito!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Red Mass(es)

Justin, Marcellinus & Peter, Charles Lawanga and the 11 companions, and Boniface. It's a week of wearing red as we celebrate martyrs.

The only other day of the week is Friday, a First Friday, which is usually a votive Mass for the Sacred Heart (where you'd think red would be the choice - a la Valentines Day - but you wear white). But then, next Friday, is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. I considered NOT celebrating the Sacred Heart today, to draw attention to next Friday's feast. Especially since next Friday's feast will mark the end of the Year for Priests.

In the meantime, hope you enjoyed the red.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rev. Patrick Barrett - R.I.P.

Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of Father Patrick Barrett, a Priest of the Metuchen Diocese.

When I first thought about becoming a Catholic, a friend of mine (my future Godfather) brought me to Fr. Barrett, who agreed to instruct me. On Monday nights from January to September, 1990, I would meet with him for about an hour to talk about the Catholic faith. My class "textbooks"? the Baltimore Catechism and the New Testament.

It was Fr. Barrett who Baptized me, heard my first Confession, and gave me my First Holy Communion. It was to Fr. Barrett that I first went to seek counsel about the feeling I was having that God was calling me to the Priesthood. Finally, in May of 1998, it was Fr. Barrett whom I asked to vest me at my ordination. The picture above was taken that day; you can barely make out his head on the left.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

You know you're thinking like a Pastor when...

This morning, members of the Laurence Harbor Fire Company and the Fire Company's Ladies Auxiliary were at the 8am Mass. It's a Memorial Day tradition.

The Mass was going fine until, just before Communion, one of our elderly Extraordinary Ministers tripped on the sanctuary steps and fell down.

She was fine, but all I could think to myself was, "Thank God we had the Fire Department here and not the trial lawyers!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Just some pictures from my gardening endeavors:

I bought a Gardenia plant just before Easter, and so far I've had no luck getting it to blossom. But last week it turned warm all the time and so I could put it outside all the time. Now, I've got buds on the plant. Stay tuned.

I bought these grow bags from a catalog, and this one is for herbs. I've got basil, lemon basil, cilantro, italian parsley, thyme, and chives.

Different flowers which will eventually get placed around the back of the rectory.

On the 2nd floor, more grow bags with tomatoes and peppers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

In the "it had to happen eventually" Department

From the Messenger-Gazette, a local paper in Somerset County in my diocese:

Police responded to Mary, Mother of God Roman Catholic Church on Sunday for a report of a fight in the parking lot between an usher and a parishioner after the usher told the parishioner to stop videotaping during Mass.

For the whole story, click HERE. Evidently there also was a video of the altercation(s) put on YouTube, but these have been removed.

Now, let me start with the disclaimer: I'm not assigned to this parish. I have been there twice in my lifetime, once about ten years ago to serve as Master of Ceremonies for a retired Bishop who was administering Confirmations, and nor have I ever been there, and the second time for a Priest's funeral. So I do not know the characters involved. But, that being said, let me make some general observations (i.e., tirades, rants, whatever) about such a situation.

First, about the general Catholic public. Quite honestly, the vast majority of Catholics do not know how to behave in Church. This comes from a whole variety of reasons, some because of a cultural "relaxation" of rules of decorum, and others because a deliberate attempt to remove the transcendence and mystery from the Church's doctrine. But it will not come as a shock to any Priest, Deacon, seminarian, or CCD coordinator or teacher that people who come to a Church for a Sacrament of initiation (a baptism, 1st Communion, or Confirmation) when I say that people treat God's house like crap. They are totally unaware of the Divine Presence (which is at times a monster we created by moving the Lord to some obscure spot). They've come to treat liturgy like a performance, a show. If it's only that, they they're perfectly correct in acting like a church is a movie theater in which they can sit and chat (either with the person next to them or on a cellphone) and drink Dunkin Donuts coffee whilst buying their kid's silence by feeding them Cheerios, as long as they promise to be quiet once the "show" starts. If we say something to them, then we're being "cold", "rigid", and "unpastoral". If we say nothing to them, then the few Catholics who are trying to spend some time praying get the impression that we approve of such behavior, and begin to chit chat themselves. Add to this the fact that these Catholics are, by their actions, teaching their children that this is the way to behave in a church, and you see how this weed will keep growing back.

Now, about Catholic Church ushers. For the most part, your task is about taking up the collection and handing out bulletins, and these are necessary things in the life of a parish. I also know there's times when you get asked to do the priest's "dirty work" (telling someone to sit down when all they want to do is stand in the back of church because they want the quick escape after Communion), and for that, I thank you. But, let me also say this: I don't care what you do or did as a profession, putting on the blazer does not give you superpowers. It does not exempt you from sitting through Mass like everyone else. It doesn't allow you to stand in the back of church chatting away with fellow ushers whilst Mass is going on. I have visited lots and lots of churches over the course of my years as a Catholic, a Seminarian, a Deacon and a Priest. I think there's a lot of ushers who are going to be quite shocked when God makes the delineation for them on judgment day between the Masses they "attended" and the Masses they were merely "at".

I'm sure this will become a thing that involves police, lawyers, a lot of yelling, and very little will be remembered about the children who received the Sacrament of Confirmation. There's no way to "punish" this family for their behavior, since in all likelihood they aren't Mass goers and won't be back in church next Sunday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

You've gotta love St. Paul

I mean the person, not the city. I've never been to St. Paul, and it might be nice, but I'm talking about the person. But I digress.

We're almost done reading the Acts of the Apostles as our first readings at weekday Masses. In today's reading, he owns the Sanhedrin by causing an implosion over the question of life after death in Judaism.

Meanwhile, he owns the Romans by pulling out his "ace in the hole": Paul is a Roman citizen. And, not just one that bought their citizenship after being a slave or a soldier (that was impressive enough). He was a Roman citizen by birth, which was the "elite class" of citizen. Just before he is about to be scourged, he drops the "C- bomb" on them, which gets the soldiers to back off and treat him with a little respect. Now, instead of seeing their priority as keeping order in Jerusalem, they now see their priority as keeping Paul safe from harm.

You've gotta love St. Paul, fighting a two front war and winning both.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another gift idea for Priests

These three panels are 20x20 each, and are available from a place called copiart, which I saw in a mall kiosk in San Diego. $170 dollars for the three of them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vatican gets FiOs

From today's Vatican News Service Daily Bulletin:

The Governorate of Vatican City State and Telecom Italia have announced the signing of a contract for the installation of the first nucleus of the "Integrated Communication Infrastructure for Vatican City State". This consists in a broadband IP network capable of voice, data and video transmission within the territory of the Holy See and Vatican City, according to a communique published today.

The plan includes, among other things, fibre optic cable links between the ten main extraterritorial sites including the Pontifical Villas at Castelgandolfo and the radio stations in Santa Maria de Galeria.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A priest gift idea

When I was first ordained, I started subscribing to the weekly English edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. It's a bit expensive ($129 a year), but realize you get 52 issues so it comes to about $2.50 an issue.

In honor of the Year for Priests, they're running a special for new subscriptions for Priests, where you get 20% off (so it comes to about $103).

This time of year, people are looking for gift ideas for newly ordained Priests or Priests celebrating anniversaries, retirements, transfers, etc. But hurry, the offer ends at the end of June.

Here's an idea.

Monday, April 26, 2010

B16 speaking about the internet, again.

Thanks to the Zenit News Agency for this (my emphasis added):

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday in an audience in Paul VI Hall with participants in a national conference on "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age," an initiative promoted by the Italian bishops' conference.,


Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

Dear Friends,

I am happy for this opportunity to meet with you and to conclude your gathering, which has had as its quite evocative theme, "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age." I thank the president of the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, for the cordial words of welcome with which, once again, he desired to express the affection and the nearness of the Church in Italy to my apostolic service. In his words the cardinal reflects the faithful adhesion to Peter of all the Catholics of this beloved nation and the esteem of so many men and women animated by the desire to seek the truth.

The time in which we live is experiencing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication, realizing an untold convergence between different media and making interaction possible. Thus the Internet manifests an open vocation, with an egalitarian and pluralistic tendency, but at the same time it has dug a moat about itself: One speaks, in fact, of the "digital divide." It separates the included from the excluded and adds to the other discrepancies that separate nations from each other and divide them internally. The dangers of homogenization and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, already quite evident in the bent of the critical spirit, in truth reduced to the play of opinions, in the multiple forms of the degradation and humiliation of the human person in his intimate dimension. One witnesses, then, a "polluting of the spirit, which makes us smile less, makes our faces gloomier, less likely to greet each other or look each other in the eye..." ("Speech in the Piazza di Spagna, December 8, 2009"). But this meeting points to recognizing faces and so to overcoming those collective dynamics that can make us lose the perception of the depth of persons and remain at the surface: When that happens, they are bodies without souls, objects of trade and consumption.

How is it possible today to return to faces? I tried to show the road in my third encyclical. It passes through that "caritas in veritate" that shines upon the face of Christ. Love in truth constitutes a "great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized" ("Caritas in Veritate," no. 9). The media can become a factor in humanization "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values" (no. 73). This demands that they "focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity" (ibid.). Only under those conditions can the epochal journey that we are undertaking become something rich and fertile with new opportunities. Without fear we want to set out upon the digital sea embracing the unrestricted navigation with the same passion that for 2,000 years has steered the barque of the Church. More than with technical resources, although necessary, we want to qualify ourselves dwelling in this universe too with a believing heart, that contributes to giving a soul to the uninterrupted communicational flow of the Internet.

This is our mission, the Church's mission that she cannot renounce: The task of every believer who works in the media is that of "opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence" ("Message for the 44th World Communications Day, May 10, 2010"). Dear Friends, you are called to take on the role of "animators of the community" on the Internet too, attentive to "prepare the ways that lead to the Word of God," and to express a particular sensitivity to "the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute" (ibid.). The Internet could in this way become a kind of "Court of the Gentiles," where "there is also a space for those who have not yet come to know God" (ibid.).

As animators of culture and communication, you are a living sign of how much "Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level" (ibid.). In this field voices are not lacking in Italy: We need only to point to "Avvenire," TV2000, the inBlu radio network and the SIR press agency, along with Catholic periodicals, the network of weekly diocesan papers and the now numerous Catholic Web sites. I exhort all media professionals not to tire of nourishing in their heart that passion for man that draws ever closer to the languages he speaks and to his true face. You will be helped in this by a solid theological formation and above all a deep and joyful passion for God, fed by a constant dialogue with the Lord. The particular Churches and religious institutes, for their part should not hesitate to value the formation courses offered by the Pontifical universities, by the University of the Sacred Heart and the other Catholic and ecclesiastical universities, providing persons with foresight and resources. The media world should be a part of pastoral planning.

As I thank you for the service you give to the Church and therefore to the cause of man, I exhort you to walk the roads of the digital continent, animated by the courage of the Holy Spirit. Our confidence is not uncritically placed in any instrument of technology. Our strength lies in being Church, believing community, able to bear witness to all the perennial newness of the Risen One, with a life that blooms in fullness in the measure that it opens up, enters into relation, gives itself gratuitously.

I entrust you to the protection of Mary Most Holy and the great saints of communication and bless you from my heart.