Tuesday, June 30, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soul of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the spring of mercy, your fasting will not bear fruit.” St Chrysogonus

QUOTE II: “Perhaps God doesn’t need cathedrals – but we do.” Michael Farrell


L.H. sent this link in concerning the true identity of Saint Paul from CNN.

Ohio Catholics take note! The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "Governor Strickland has proposed cutting $59 million over the biennium in aid to students attending chartered nonpublic schools. Proposed are cuts in direct reimbursement to our schools (Administrative Cost Reimbursement) and resources and services such as guidance counselors, remedial assistance, and textbooks (Auxiliary Services)." Here's how to take action.

From the same source: "WASHINGTON (CNS) - Charles Zech and Robert Miller have some advice for parishes going through what some have characterized as the greatest period of change in the history of the American Catholic Church brought on by the recent closing and merging of hundreds of parishes across the country." Read more here.

D. H. sent this in. I don't do a lot of advertsing but these Ts look pretty cool.

P. sent this in just as a point of interest. - I thought M.W. would enjoy it, "A news report on "The World Over, Live" (EWTN) stated that the high altar at Westminister Cathedral "has been returned to permanent use." The "temporary altar" installed in the sanctuary since 1982 has been removed, with the approval of the new Archbishop, Vincent Nichols. The decision was made because of positive comments made when the altar was used during the Archbishop's recent installation."

My music director sent this in. Wow! And we are afraid to have kids sing anything past Kumbaya.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Having had jobs outside of Church I know what it is to be called into the boss’s office. You may be going in to talk over a project, defend your actions, or (on too rare occasions) talk about how well you are doing. In any event, unless related to the boss at best your are good friends but more than likely you have a good business relationship.

This past week our bishop requested a meeting with me “downtown” at his office. This was my first such meeting in my capacity as an administrator of a parish. Fortunately I had a heads up concerning the matter and knew it was going to be a constructive meeting. But it also started me reflecting on my relationship with my bishop as a priest of Jesus Christ in the diocese that Pope Benedict entrusted him to pastor. We are bound together in a very unique way. We are brothers (he the definite elder!) Suppose for a moment we were at odds over some important topic. What could be the ultimate pressure point? Would I threaten to quit as one might a job? Of course not. It is not like I could go to the next parish over and apply for a pastorate there. Would he threaten to fire me? It is not as easy as it might sound. So it is in both of our best interest to work things out – shall I say – in a Christian manor. Of course I DID swear obedience to him and his successors so there is that edge in the argument . . . which quite frankly makes my job whole lot easier.

So the working relationship is a bit of a covenant. We are bound together by promises and oaths taken publically and lived out daily. So when I go to see him I get dressed up in my finest and pray for him in a special way on my way to his office. The meeting is a prayerful one and concludes with my asking for his blessing.

It may not be a way to run a car company (or maybe it is!?) but it is the way to run the Church and I am thankful to be part of that.

Friday, June 26, 2009


So . . .

You are on a plane and a man in clerical attire sits next to you and you are wondering if this guy is priest or a bishop. You might look at his ring finger to see if he is wearing a signet ring (reported here some time ago) but too often priests take it upon themselves to wear rings also.

The best bet is to see if you see if you can spy a chain crossing his chest beneath his suit coat. That is the chain to his pectoral cross worn by abbots, bishops, cardinals, and popes. It is a cross worn about the neck but it differs from what most people wear in a number of ways. First it is worn low on the body, below the heart, it is larger than what most people would wear, and is usually of precious material and often bejeweled but should not be ostentatious.

It is not a symbol of authority (as is, for example, the crosier) but that of the office of bishop. As such it is to be worn showing at all times (hence you can pick a bishop out in a crowd. This is particularly true in places where everyone is in cassock and there are monsignors about as they wear the same kind of cassock.) The exceptions to this is when he is wearing his black suit (and you see just the chain, the cross being in his breast pocket) and when he is wearing a chasuble.

With a suit it is usually attached with a gold chain. With liturgical attire it is attached with a green rope (the original color of the episcopacy – you can see this in the color of the hat in their coat of arms) intertwined with gold.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Before we continue just a quick clarification to a good point that Samantha pointed out yesterday. She stated, “while it is true that the validity or essence of the sacrifice of the Mass is not impacted by which priest is presiding or his level of holiness, it does matter in terms of the guidance and potentially additional graces available to the lay faithful in attendance. Example, Holy priests who preside with genuine reverence aid the faithful by example in also participating with true reverence.” This is true and thank you for pointing that out. But the attempted point was that when you do not have a choice in the matter of the celebrant and the a particular priest does not work for you or you think him not holy enough, take comfort in that the Jesus you hear proclaimed and the Jesus you receive in the sacrament is just as valid. There is some comfort in that.

Turning the page in the Sacramentary in the RC we sum up, “Accept this sacrifice from your whole family,” and then inform Him (and us) what we want for all of us: Peace in this life, protection from final damnation, and being numbered among the chosen. This is our wish for all the living.

The next part is called the Epiclesis. You can recognize it in all of the Eucharistic Prayers by the priest extending his hands flat over the bread and wine. In many parishes this is also accompanied by a single ringing of the Sanctus Bells. This marks the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts which we ask God to approve and make acceptable our offering which we ask to become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.

Now begins the Institution Narrative – the particular instructions left for us by our Savior. Please note once again that it is the Father that is being addressed (not us!) just as Jesus addressed the Father when He said these words first 2,000 years ago. The celebrant takes the bread in his hands and even though the narrative says, “He broke the bread,” we do not break it at this point! We are NOT putting on a play nor are we making a new sacrifice. The rite of breaking the bread comes later. Now we are concerned with having Jesus becoming present in this significant way. As the bread and wine is consecrated and becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus the celebrant genuflects in adoration which is often accompanied by the ringing of bells. The congregation likewise is given a moment of adoration of God made present on our altars.

Notice we say, “Do this in memory of me.” Some people make the claim that Jesus wanted us to do this for some symbolic reason in much the same way we might use a blanket or some such thing to remember our late grandmother. It calls her to mind and reminds us of her kindness or what have you. This is a very logical assumption but wrong. One has to use the terminology the way Jesus intended it.

The Jewish people at Passover also celebrate “in memory.” But in celebrating they don’t celebrate a new Passover but by celebrating it become present at THE Passover and thereby become the Chosen People. (If I have any Jewish readers I hope that I explained that in an adequate fashion and if not please clarify.) In any event, that is what WE mean. We become part of the original sacrifice.

Jesus is now present on our altar in this most privileged way, we acknowledged the fact, had our first opportunity at worship and now (usually) sing of this wonderful mystery (by way of example) “Lord, by Your cross and resurrection You have set us free! YOU ARE THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Now here is where things get tricky. There are a number of Eucharistic Prayers that we could examine and thereby get bogged down for weeks going over each one individually. Or we could so lightly gloss over them all that nothing in depth could be stated. I would like to believe that people regularly get the opportunity to hear the “Roman Canon (RC)” or Eucharistic Prayer I, but I have some doubt that this is the case. Just the same, perhaps with some general comments we will take a brief look at the RC and allow you to make appropriate application to all of the Eucharist Prayers.

The first thing to notice is that they are directed to the Father. The RC begins with the celebrant speaking on behalf of those assembled, “We come to you Father . . . through Jesus Christ Your Son.” We are speaking to the Father but He already knows what it is we are going to say. So in reality we are reminding and teaching ourselves what we are offering to the Father.

We call to mind all those in this world we wish to remember to the Father in this sacrifice; His Holy Catholic Church, which includes the Pope, our bishop, and all who hold and teach this faith given to us by the apostles. We are given the opportunity to call to mind some specific people we wish to pray for among the living. Of course we also want to include ourselves, “All of us gathered here before you . . . and those who are dear to us.” That is part of the glory of the ritual. So much is included every week in our official prayer so that we would never, upon leaving Mass in a world where the prayer is invented anew by the celebrant Sunday after Sunday, say, “Did you notice we didn’t pray for N. today?”

It must be remembered that there is only one sacrifice and only one priest. The one priest is Jesus and the sacrifice is His 2,000 years ago. When the Church prays the Mass it is ultimately Jesus Christ who performs the sacrifice (which is why it does not matter two figs who the priest is or how holy he is! It is Jesus Who makes Himself present!) And further it is all part of the one great sacrifice (something to be explored again in just a little bit.) Every Mass is as if a curtain in time has been opened and we are all present at the One Sacrifice offered by Our Lord in His life, death, and resurrection. So, in the next line, when we say, “In union with the whole Church,” we mean everyone throughout the world, for we are all, whenever we celebrate the Mass, present at the one Holy Sacrifice.

As one we acknowledge those who loved Him with all their hearts, mind, and body in this world and now share eternity with Him in Heaven among who is “Mary, Joseph, Peter and Paul, Andrew,” and all the saints on who give us “their constant help and protection.” In these short words we call to mind our belief in the One Body of Christ that has Christ as its head. We are all united in Jesus. There are not two bodies of Christ and neither can Jesus’ body be cut in twain even by death so somehow, mystically, we are all still united. Therefore as we can ask others to pray for us, we can ask those who have died and stand before God to pray for us. By stating this we praise God for the wonderful gift He has given us in this great company of saints that He has blessed us with.

(To be continued tomorrow.)


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Now consider the modern family suppertime, which is presented to us by our culture; it is an unholy mixture of plastic, pre-cooked protein, ugly toy dolls and clowns. Grace, if said, feels awkward. Cash can fill your belly, cash can entertain your kids. The entire event is a hollow shell, a mockery, a mini-sacrament in the culture of death . . .”

QUOTE II: :It is now a radical pro-life act to cook and eat at home.” The above two from David Bereford’s “Suppertime” in Gilbert Magazine

Yes, I’ve quoted this article a couple of times in the past few weeks. I found it one of the most brilliant and relevant short articles on the downfall of the family dinner to come out in a while. If I ever find it on line I will post it for you. A friend of mine cooks well for her family. Everything is homemade. Her kids went away to school and were shocked to find out how deplorable their peer’s experience of food and eating and family life was. They’ve all taken vows to continue the tradition of scorning the yellow arches and to share this experience with their families. See? There is still hope.


Fr. GDB sent this great site over. It is not Catholic specific, but it is a great resource. It says of itself, "We are a community of artists, storytellers, filmmakers, poets and theologians. Our work is to tell the story we share and to ask poignant questions through film, literature, art and music. We confess that we are created in the image of God and fulfill our calling by creating and recreating to the glory of God." Check it out. Thanks Fr.!

The hawks (I believe we've determined that is what they are) that live in our bell tower have had their babies and they are now flying about the parish terrorizing the bird and squirrel population. Here is a picture of (what I am guessing to be) dad and son on Father's Day.

This site reports frequently requested Catholic statics. "CARA gets many inquiries from Church agencies and the media about the numbers for vocations, seminary enrollments, priests and vowed religious, parishes, Mass attendance, schools and the Catholic population."

30 seconds:

Monday, June 22, 2009


Watching T.V. news (not something I do very regularly) it interesting to watch the news anchor’s faces as they switch between a heart breaking story and fluffy good-fleeing piece, one of grave concern for the community which then melds into campy banter between the news and sports anchors. At first I was thinking that Church is not much different.

This past weekend there was quite a lineup of events and this next weekend seems to be panning out to much the same. At any given hour there can be an event in the church building each appearing vastly different from the other. There is of course the regular Mass schedule of Saturday morning and then the weekend Masses. Confessions are thrown in. There are weddings, funerals, and baptisms all requiring sensitivity toward those in attendance. Sitting before the Blessed Sacrament I wondered if I was much like the news anchor putting on an appropriate face for any particular story. This disturbed me. Church needs to be sincere and what makes what we do here any different than the T.V. anchors?

One major difference seemed to leap out. There is one common thread in the Church that ties all of these seemingly disparate events together. Whether we are laying a sister or brother to rest, uniting two people in marriage, welcoming a soul into the Church, or what have you, they are tied together in hope: the hope of a blessed life in Christ, the hope of a loving marriage, the hope for eternal life. Our celebrating of these events are not about simply emoting through a story, but to connect all of these stories to the greater story of hope. We come together to remind ourselves that our part of the story is not the whole thing, there is something greater – greater and more wonderful. All of our sacraments keep lifting us into that unity of hope in the greater story which is as unchanging as the façade of the church building itself. Her doors open to those crying and lost and to those laughing and praising alike. The façade does not change because the message does not change. Here is hope. Here is the connection to the greater story of which you are an important part. Here you come not to act out your story, but to live it more fully, more truly, with greater significance, with community, with God, with hope.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The heart is symbolically thought to be the place our feelings of love or hate, devotion or deception originate. When in great emotion our hearts race or pound or feel heavy. Jesus’ love for us was so great we often wax about His heart being on fire for us. How else can we explain how He could love us so much that He could face pain, humiliation, and even death out of concern for us? Often in depictions of the Sacred Heart have this flame is pictured burning from the top of His heart, the fuel for the flame being the boundless love contained therein.

The crown of thorns often surrounds the heart, the humble and painful crown given to the King of Kings which He wore with dignity and for our salvation. The wound from the soldier’s lance is usually depicted. From this wound flowed blood and water the source of sacramental life in the Church: water that cleanses us and blood that feeds us.

O Jesus meek and humbled of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The very next sentence of the Mass I find very intimidating. The priest asks the congregation, “Pray my brothers and sisters that this our sacrifice will be acceptable to God the Almighty Father,” to which they respond, “May the Lord accept this sacrifice AT YOUR HANDS, for the praise and glory of His Name, for OUR GOOD, and the good of all His Church.” The first time this really hit me was in my first year of the priesthood when one day it turned out that I was the youngest person in the sanctuary and, on that particular day, much of the congregation. I remember thinking, “They are trusting ME with this? What are they thinking?” Of course it is not me per se, they trust God and the Church that He established. But this little exchange still gives me chills from time to time.

The prayer over the gifts comes next. Notice once again that it is directed to the Father, through the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then we hit the preface. One way of looking at it I suppose is like the preface of a book. It will mention a little about what we are to celebrate. Often it reflects the season or special feast. It sets the mood, prepares the heart, and gives us focus. For this reason, better than a preface in a book, I like to think of it as the half time speech by the coach revving the team back up for the all important second half as the “source and summit of the entire celebration begins.”

It starts with a call and response like a cheer. “The Lord be with you.”

“And also with you.”

“Lift up your hearts.”

“We lift them up to the Lord.”

“Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!”

“It is right to give Him thanks and praise.”

Then it is time for the speech of inspiration. There is an option among 7 that you might hear this weekend and they all begin with, “FATHER, all powerful and ever living God . . .” (Funny how few people realize the direction of these prayers even though the Mass is in supposed easy to understand English.)

They have varying endings but they all include that the song we are about to sing is in chorus with angels and saints. The Mass is not just us, it is the whole Body of Christ united in Christ through the Holy Spirit. So we join the saint in their never ending joy and worship of God and the angels who are ever before Him. This is not “our” Mass. This is the one Mass being offered around the world and throughout time. A curtain has opened in time and we are all present at Christ’s one great sacrifice.

And the angels are there. They are not fanciful creatures we tell stories to children about. They are true and serious beings and the song we sing, the Sanctus, is the song of angels that comes to us from Isaiah 6:3 and we join in. “’Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts’ they cried one to the other, ‘all the earth is filled with His glory!’” Three is a number of perfection. He is not just holy, but holiness itself! Thrice or perfectly holy! Then, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord,” is, “by all rights” a reference to Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jeruselem – Christ Who is about to be made present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity on our altar.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


So the homily is over and hopefully it was brilliant, short, and left you wanting more. If you are so fortunate, there is then a moment of silence to reflect on the breaking open of the Scriptures before we stand for the Creed. After hearing teachings from our Master (Jesus, not the presider) and before we enter the great mystery of the sacrifice of the Mass, we stand together and profess our core beliefs. “We believe . . .” Well, at least for now we do. In the (near?) future we will be saying, “I believe” in keeping with the ancient form of the prayer and forcing us to say more emphatically that it is I who believe not just as part of the anonymous Masses. (Hence the problem of not participating. Nobody will be covering for you anymore.)

The General Intercessions follow. They are just that. They intercessions and they are general. This may sound obvious to you but it is not to most people. They are intercessions of general interest concerning first the Church, the world, and then other, perhaps more local or pertinent petitions. The time for personal petitions is during the collects. If you remember, the first of these was at the beginning of the Mass when the priest says, “Let us pray.” That is when we are to add them. Not here. This is not the time for the person leading the prayers to say, “And for any prayers you care to mention” or some such thing. Praying “for me Aunt Gertrude who lives in Kentucky and who fell down the steps last week and broke her hip and is in the hospital waiting for further tests and we hope that everything is going to be Okay we pray to the Lord,” is NOT a GENERAL intercession. It is a very SPECIFIC intercession appropriate for the collect or other type of prayer service. But that is battle on a hill not worth losing many troupes over I imagine.

Obviously at this time the gifts are brought forward and the altar is set. This is also the time when a few from among the congregation come forward and start circulating baskets through the Church hoping that the Church will supply funds so that the parish may continue its mission. This is not just a handy-dandy time to take up a collection for funds. It is a rite. It is part of our offering to the Lord. We’ve labored all week and this is part of the fruit of our labor that we give after hearing His word and before we receive His body. To not participate in some way is to not participate in part of the Mass. I tell people all the time that if they are truly strapped for cash to drop in the empty envelope. You offering is your struggles that week while still showing that you support your parish’s and the Church’s mission.

Which brings us to electronic giving. I will admit that as an administrator this is very comforting. When a significant portion of your parish disappears to Florida every year it is nice to know that the collection will not fluctuate to the negative too harshly. But I am a little uneasy about it as it deprives the giver the chance to participate in the rite. So once again, I encourage these people to drop in their envelope just the same with a prayer offering for their parish.

Alright! Now we are making progress! We are finally up to the Liturgy of the Eucharist and we start tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Christ raised hospitality to the level of virtue - in fact, a necessity for salvation." Nancy Carpenter Brown in Gilbert Magazine

QUOTE II: "We are all beggars at the table of grace." Righteous "B" FUS youth conference 2009


Short miscellaneous today:

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports: "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has set up a web site to mark the Year for Priests, to be celebrated June 19, 2009-June 19, 2010, throughout the world.Pope Benedict XVI has designated the year-long celebration to begin on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day of prayer for the sanctification of all priests. The pope also has designated St. John Vianney as the Universal Patron of All Priests on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the saint's death. The saint, who also is known as the Cure of Ars, is the patron of parish priests." Year for Priest website and full USCCB article.

As a side note: All of sudden I have a number of young men who are talking to me about the priesthood. Please keep them in your prayers.

This is awesome! (Ach! There's that word again.) T. K. sent this in. It is a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. Don't forget to use your directional tools to look up at the ceiling! Thanks TK.

Here's a 30 second summer reminder. If you are easily offended please do not watch.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I want to apologize to everyone right now. I just spent the weekend with our youth at a youth conference down at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and I find myself suddenly using the word “awesome” a bit too much. It was another one of those guilty pleasures of being a priest. The keys to the parish (and all the parish work) were handed over to the new parochial vicar and the ever vigilant deacon I was afforded the time to spend three days with younger members of our parish on retreat.

Because we are in Cleveland the youth retreats there are fairly well known. But in case you are not so familiar, the university puts on, among other retreats, four high school retreats that are deeply Catholic, orthodox, and charismatic. If you are a youth leader, besides those points, another great one is that it is EXTREMELY well organized. We were never without a clue as to where we were to be or having someone nearby to answer questions. It was – well - awesome, but not nearly as awesome as being with about 1,500 youth (one of the smaller conferences) that are absolutely on fire for the faith. Even those who came along with a cautious heart were, by the end, proud of their love for Christ, the Eucharist, the faith – boldly professing it and praying and cheering for this great gift of Jesus to us. Over the few days we heard hundreds of confessions (my brain was mush by the end of the day), were moved by great speakers, and had lots of LOUD and ruckus – but VERY Catholic – music. I will admit to you that after two days of the loudness and hearing numerous confessions I had reached my limit and needed some quiet time away. The conference on Saturday night was about half way through and they were preparing for adoration in the evening and I quietly slipped out – feeling a bit poorly for doing so – but needing to none-the-less. I bought a snack out of a machine and lay down on a bench outside looking up at the sky and processing everything that had been happening as it was quite intense when I noticed the clouds were tinged in bright orange. I climbed up a hill not far from where the conference was taking place and saw a beautiful sunset. I could hear the music revving up and looked at my watch and figured that adoration was beginning when I saw the cloud below right over the building. Fortunately I was carrying my camera with me the whole weekend and was able to capture it. Now, I don’t place a value on it. I know it seemed pretty cool to me (for reasons I won’t mention - you may draw your own conclusion or just think that it’s a bunch of pretty clouds at sunset) but it was as if this is why I was drawn outdoors and then back in to join the group.

Inside there was a Eucharistic procession going on. Can you imagine what it is like seeing all those young people who we are told do not believe in the Eucharist anymore – who don’t get it – who we are told think the adoration too old school – who we are told would never go to adoration because it is not relevant (how can the Eucharist not be relevant? . . .another post) kneeling! Singing! Reaching out to Jesus! Worshipping! Crying! Giving thanks and praise to Him! I tell you – Catholicism is awesome and still attractive when presented boldly, fully, and well. But wait – there’s more! At the end of conference they had an altar call for those considering religious or priestly vocations. Scores of high school students came forward. They were willing to say, “I am willing to consider it.” The funny part was that the priest was beginning a talk about how hard it may to come forward but if there were some brave souls that would consider being the first. But even before he began the sentence both men and women jumped out of their seats and marched forward. The priest sitting next to me in the sanctuary leaned over and said, “They’re already coming forward! He doesn’t even need to prod them!”

Oh yes – there is more. But this is already dangerously close to becoming a two or three parter and Wednesday and Thursday is already a long running series so I will end here with this one last parting statement.


Friday, June 12, 2009


Sorry - no post today. I am on a trip with our youth group to the Franciscan University of Stuebenville. Be back Monday.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


There are a number of ways in which Christ is present at the Mass and within that number there is a hierarchy in the degrees to which He is present. For example, He is most fully present in His Body and Blood. As we prepare to listen to the Gospel we also prepare to listen to Christ present speaking to us in His own voice. (That is why the Gospel is proclaimed and not read. Get the difference?) So to prepare us for listening to Christ a couple of things take place. We sing the Gospel verse with a threefold “Alleluia!” We stand out of respect, in alertness, and actively listening. We have the call again, “The Lord be with you . . .” and we bless ourselves asking that we might be ready to hear, be open to truth, willing to be transformed in our thoughts, in what we say, and in our hearts. Such a special moment is this that it is occasionally accompanied by candles and incense.

At the conclusion it is announced, “The Gospel of the Lord!” and the response given, “Thanks be to God!” This is not an idle and simply nice response. Thank God! He has saved us and continues today through His Church to announce His kingdom to us, His saving Word, and His great Love for us! Thank you, thank you, thank you! We can’t help but cry out at these words, “Thanks be to God!”

Then we sit. Usually the priest (occasionally the deacon) as “father” gives his thoughts on what has been said in the readings or celebrated on the day or season. We have returned to a more relaxed listening mode. Ideally this is an outstanding moment for spiritual and/or intellectual growth . It is one the most important duties of the clergy to help apply what we have heard to our lives (and one of the very few places that the priest may make up in his own words whatever –within reason-it is he wishes to say.)

All that being said, not all homilists are great to say the least. But a nugget of worth can be found even in an abandoned mine. As Fr. J Glenn Murray SJ once said, “Even if someone is as dry as dust on toast in the desert, God still works.” If nothing else, talk to Jesus who is sitting there in the tabernacle.

There is the case however of priests who even talk about things that are silly or even contrary to the faith. As upsetting and aggravating as this might be remember that the Word that you heard and the Body and Blood that you are about to receive is still Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Do not deprive yourself of this greatest of gifts because you do not care for the homilist. Jesus, in all of His wisdom, did not make the holiness of the priest a factor in the efficacy of the sacrament. And the Church, in her wisdom, makes the homily the only part of the Mass to which we need not respond, “Amen.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


You may recall that last week we spoke about how all (well, most as we shall see) the prayers of the Mass are directed to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. This weekend (Corpus Christi) is a grand exception. On the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus the prayers are actually directed toward Christ Himself such as in this opening prayer that you should hear this Sunday:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You gave us the Eucharist as the memorial of Your suffering and death.
May our worship of this sacrament of Your Body and Blood
help us to experience the salvation You won for us
and the peace of the kingdom where You live
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

Compare this exceptional opening collect prayer to one that you will hear from almost any other Mass and you will notice a distinct yet subtle difference in the presentation. All are ultimately presented to the Godhead, but here the prayer is directed toward the second person of the Blessed Trinity rather than to the Father, the far more common case.

Now that we are prepared and the opening rites have done their best to make mindful people properly disposed, we are ready for the Liturgy of the Word. We sit. Sitting is a receptive posture. We are listening to the Word of God quietly, absorbing it and hopefully pondering it in our hearts.

The first reading is usually from the Old Testament though occasionally from the new. Most of the time it has some sort of correlation with the third or Gospel reading. Sometimes it is quite clever how the Old and New Testaments are paired together. If it would assist you in paying attention there is nothing wrong with playing a little game with yourself trying to figure out what the connection is. In fact it will help you understand the readings better.

Of course the Responsorial Psalm comes next followed by the second reading which is either an epistle or from Acts or Revelation. Where the first and Gospel reading are usually connected, this reading usually stands alone or is part of a series in and of itself.

We should finish with the Liturgy of the Word tomorrow. I really expected this to fly by more quickly. This is the longest series in this blog yet and I hope helpful. I really am trying just to give the barest of tours! If you are interested there is SO MUCH MORE! I encourage you to do some research on your own.

Monday, June 8, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “At a Christian table, everyone must be supplied with a weapon. “Any of you who do not have a sword must sell his cloak and buy one,” we are told on Holy Thursday. There is also the arrangement of the table, following rigid hierarchical rules, with a head and foot, and places between these. The head is reserved for the father, and within this hierarchy, those at table pass bowls of food following a formal ritual of “please pass” and “thank you.” The centerpiece is the cooked carcass of a dead animal. After grace, the father carves the meat – not to be served, but to serve – and each person is singled out and given individual recognition.” From David Bereford’s, “Suppertime” in Gilbert Magazine


The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, “Data in the 2009 Official Catholic Directory, also known as the Kenedy Directory, show there are 68,115,001 Catholics in the United States, making up 22 percent of the U.S. population. The total number of Catholics is an increase of about one million from the previous year.”

From the same source: "Did you know, the growing epidemic of internet pornography can have devastating effects on a marriage? Learn how a pornography addiction can develop, how to deal with it, and how to repair a marriage that's been affected. Read the article, "Internet Pornograph: Modern Threat to Marriage and Family. Visit the "For Your Marriage" web site.

Here's a 12 second shot in the arm"

One of our weekend volunteers was playing Word Whomp this weekend. I find it hard to get away from so I can't play it anymore. WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL: HIGH


Wednesday coming back to the parish after my day away there was an unusual amount of phone messages on the machine. Fearing that something happened I listened to the endless queue of names and numbers all of which could be handled in the morning. One in particular was more interesting than the rest however.

A young man said that he was seriously considering the priesthood and wanted to talk. Of course his message rushed to the top of the return list. We made arrangements to meet for coffee the Nervous Dog, a coffee house that advertises on the back of our bulletin. It was enjoyable for me to meet with a young man who is so on fire for the faith. It was one of those days that there was enough work in the office to last a couple of days but then again, this is part of the “vocational work” that needs to be done and needs to be attended to.

I would have never imagined that being a priest – or rather a pastor – or more correctly an administrator - would involved so much paperwork and sometimes it can become like walking through muck, slowing you down and distracting you from your goals. It is energizing to talk to someone who is on fire and idealistic (and who can carry on an intelligent and informed conversation about the faith.)

I think many of our youth are on fire for faith and spirituality but are not as self confident, driven, and motivated as this young man. I wish there was some better way to harness their power and freshness. They are not the future of the Church, they ARE the Church and they could refresh and refocus even those among us who are already so devoted to the faith.

Be bold – live boldly – be confident young folk. You are Church! Have faith and express it. Be open and learn. This gift is passed on to you. Prepare it for the next generation to whom you will pass it on.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The other day I was mired in paperwork that I really needed to get done. As the vocations director for our diocese, Fr, Gurnick, once stated, “Even if you are a miracle worker, you still have to get the paperwork in.” It was also field day at the school and the kids were out on the lawn having a ball. I wanted to go out and visit with the kids but then thought, “No, my job is getting this paperwork done before having fun like that.” Then my guardian angel reminded me, “No, you role is as a spiritual father. Your job, or rather your vocation is also going out and spending time with these children.” I was not shirking responsibility, I was fulfilling it in going out (as long as I eventually also get the paperwork done.)

This all brings us to the term, “Father.” Foxie wrote in some time back and asked about the use of this term for our clergy. I don’t intend to defend the use of the term which can be very controversial particularly in Protestant circles. If you want to find out more about that, here is a very good article with a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. The term “Father” does carry with it some symbolic meaning however.

When a couple comes in to see me for marriage and they are not chaste we have a discussion about it. I inform them that what I am telling them is not only spiritually healthy but with an aim of giving them the best chance for a successful marriage. I give them some propositions and though we will visit the topic again I am not going to police them. I am their spiritual father, not their “Daddy.” “Catholics know that as members of a parish, they have been committed to a priest’s spiritual care, thus they have great filial affection for priests and call them "father." Priests, in turn, follow the apostles’ biblical example by referring to members of their flock as "my son" or "my child" (See link above.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009


So, there is no little argument about this next part of the Mass. Depending on the liturgist I listen to or read the, “Dominus vobiscum,” (or “Lord be with you or its variants) is either a friendly but Christian specific greeting (hence the suggestion of not saying, “Hi!” after this greeting,) a recognition of the fact that Holy Spirit is in fact among us, or is an actual yet mini epiclesis (calling down of the Holy Spirit.) Perhaps it is all three. But one, two, or all three meanings it is easy to see the importance of this exchange.

A brief introduction of the Mass may follow which leads us into the penitential rite. Before we begin this great act of worship we call to mind our minor faults and sins and then (as was beaten into us at the seminary) CELEBRATE God’s mercy. This cleansing of our sins does not have the efficacy of the Sacrament of Confession and certainly does not take care of mortal sins, but for those in a general state of grace with the usual hang ups that come from being human – those things that we call to mind and are sorry for (which is why there should be at least a moment of silence so that people have time to participate) then this rite prepares us to engage in this great act of community prayer in purity of heart.

So, to recap, we have had the first opportunity to worship God and gather as community in the opening song, we have stated that what we are about to do is in the name of our One yet Triune God, we have recognized the presence of God among us, had our minor faults forgiven, and now, in what should be a high – pregame hype if you will – we break out into song. The Gloria! The song that the angles sang when Jesus was born. “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.” Listen (or read and recall) the passionate praises this song proclaims: “Lord, God! Heavenly King! Almighty God and Father. We worship You, we give You thanks! We praise You for Your glory . . .” On person described the Gloria as, “What lovers do.” It should burst forth from our hearts if not actually, then at least with a mindful attention. You have no doubt heard a computer generated computer say, “I love you” with a dead lifeless voice. How silly it must be to somebody from outside our tradition to hear us say or sing such beautiful words in a monotone, board voice. And how wonderful it is when we put our heart into it, at least reciting it like we know what we are saying.

Finally the preliminaries are almost done and before we get into the meat of things the celebrant says, “Let us pray.” This is not a call for the Sacramentary to come over. It is an instruction to the congregation to call to mind things that are important for you to pray for during the Mass. Then the priest collects all the prayers in a pray called the Collect and presents them to God. This is not something to missed out on! God always hears our prayers but here is a special moment in which to present them as part of the Mass.

FINALLY! Notice to Whom the prayer is addressed AS ARE MOST OF THE PRAYERS OF THE MASS. They are directed to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. “We ask this THROUGH our Lord Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You and Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.” The whole Mass is one great prayer made by the Body of Christ (which you are), through Him, with Him, in Him, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit to our Father in heaven. An important point to keep in mind as we continue our hike through the Mass.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The reason the Mass was put into the vernacular it was said was so that people would understand what was going on better. Well, perhaps Catholics have a better running shot, but it seems that Mass confusion is still pretty prevalent. What follows will be a little, non-exhaustive, peek-of-the-mountains tour of the Mass. So put on your hiking boots, pack a granola bar and lets go.

The first directive for Mass actually takes place before the Mass. For the first time the Sacramentary states that silence should be observed before Mass in the church proper and all ancillary rooms.

There is the argument that when people come to Mass they have not had the chance to socialize all week and this is their opportunity to be community. But it is also the case the many people had to fight children getting ready for Mass, left their envelope at home and had to go back and get it, was almost in a car accident with someone trying to steal their parking place, had one of their kids run fall and get grass stains on their Sunday clothes after repeatedly being told to, “Stop that!,” had another announce that they had to go to the bathroom “RIGHT NOW,” just got a cell phone call that you have been called into work later and had a dirty look from the person behind you that you had your cell phone on. From that you are expected to jump into, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The moment of quiet is to become settled, put all of that behind you, focus on the duty you have to perform coming up, and to ask God to prepare you for what you are about to receive. The moment of silence is to ready you for heaven on earth – a hard thing to do when the conversation around you about, “Did you hear Bernie got drunk two nights ago and ran over his cat with his car?!”

Oh well. You fight your battles.

The Mass begins with the opening song. It is not travel music for the priest or a theme song like the beginning of a television show. It is our first opportunity to worship God and to unify in ritual the congregation. To be late for the opening song is to be late for Mass. To not participate, at least in heart, is to forgo an opportunity to praise God publically and in community and to side step being part of the community in this way. When you wanted to play a silly game growing up there was always that person that said, “Nah, I don’t want to.” Despite the prodding, “Oh! Come on. It will be fun. Join us!” there was simply nothing you could do. And though you played anyway it was less because one of your band was not participating.

So next comes the Sign of the Cross. We state that what we are about to do is in the name of our One True God, a Trinity of Persons, as we trace the Cross on our bodies which is the symbol of the mystery of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and the sign of our salvation. It is almost like an oath before continuing. It explains Who gave us authority and direction to do this, to Whom we are loyal, and why we are gathered.

Well, so much for mountain tops. This is already long. This post may turn into a four parter. At least I won’t have to think about posts for a while!