Friday, July 31, 2009


A weekly report on symbols has been going on for a couple of years now and we are nearing the end of my imagination short of some plants and animals that we have skipped. We’ve at least touched on most other areas and apart from a couple more points I wish to mention I think we just might be about done unless you can think of an area not yet touched upon. And if not perhaps you can think of another topic to replace this series!


The way books are handled during the Mass is also symbolic of their importance. For example, the Book of Gospels is the only book allowed to be carried in procession. This is true even of the Lectionary (the book containing all the readings) which should never be carried in procession. This book is placed on the altar at the beginning of Mass. Note the connection: Chris is present in several privileged forms during the Mass, the most august is in the Eucharist and also in His own words at the proclamation of the Gospel. How appropriate it is then that the altar and Gospel book are so linked.

The book may only be elevated slightly, not up over the head as is the practice in so many places. The book should not be elevated higher than the Eucharist is elevated at the consecration. And while the Book of Gospels is important it is not in the printed form that Jesus is present but in the proclamation. So the mere presence of the book is not cause for adoration as the Eucharist would be. That is why the book is not even elevated when the deacon or priest says, “The Gospel of the Lord.” It is not the book that is special but the words that were just proclaimed.

The book is still treated with reverence however. Therefore it may be put in a place of honor after the reading is proclaimed – usually on some sort of stand.

The book does not leave with the exiting procession. The word is to be in our hearts now and we take it with us as we do the Eucharist.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I just calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.”

This is a phrase used by persons who report facts or strong opinions but without concern about the effects of the statements. On the one hand you know exactly where you stand with such a person. There is no doubt. If you want to know what they think of the color you painted your living room they will be most forthcoming. “That is the ugliest color I could imagine in here. Hey, I just calls ‘em as I sees ‘em and if you can’t handle it you shouldn’t ask.”

On the other hand can a statement be considered truth without the component of love? Are not truth and love two faces of the same coin? You can try to love someone without truth, but is it then love? It may look, feel, and act like love but in the end it is deceit and therefore not love. You might also speak something factual but if it is not done in love and therefore not with a heart toward bringing another more deeply into truth (perhaps even using it as a battering ram) is it not a bit deceptive and therefore not truth?

For example, a man was walking down a bus aisle on the Metro telling people that unless they were saved they were going to hell. Offended at his assumptions people began to tune him out. Suppose that for a moment that he was correct and that those not saved in the manner in which he believed they should be saved were going to hell. Yet he spoke of it in such a way that nobody wanted to listen to him. Could he be truly said to be speaking in the fullness of truth?

This is not to say that at times subjects must be spoken directly and bluntly. But behind the bluntness must be the intention of love and concern for the other person, this being seen as the best way to reach them. That is when fact becomes truth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Taking Sebastian for a walk often leads to meeting people. One of his favorite dog friends owner is a Unitarian Universalist, a delightful chap with whom I enjoy speaking.

On a recent walk he informed me that they have a new leader (I suppose one can use the term pastor.) It was mentioned that the pastor was moving here with a spouse. I asked if they had children. In his response he said, “Yes. The pastor is male married to a woman. In our denomination it is important to make this distinction because we are welcoming to homosexual persons.”

That comment stuck with me for a spell. I know what he meant but it did come across a bit like if you are a person with an attraction to someone of the same sex you are not allowed in the Catholic Church. This is simply not the case.

What is the case is that all people within the Catholic Church are expected to live chastely. That is, one is to refrain from sexual activity unless one is married and marriage is between two persons who can "conceivably" bear children.

Now, what he meant of course is that they recognize same sex unions which is not done in the Catholic Church. But there are many good, practicing, saintly people within the Church with this orientation. The inclination is not itself sinful unless acted out in a way that makes it so (as it would with anybody) and it is important that we make this distinction. Souls may be at stake. If I were told I was unwelcome and sinful for some reason of my being I might too walk away from the fullness of truth, from the Church that Christ established, from my best hope of salvation all because of a misunderstanding.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "It is by giving fair names to foul actions that those who would start at real vice are led to its practice under the disguise of virtue." from Scott's "Ann of Geierstein"

QUOTE II: "Creation was not finished until the poet came to interpret, and so complete it." from Nathanial Hawthorn's, "The Great Stone Face"


I am sans wisdom teeth today and following doctor's advice to lay low. So far so good! Also thank you to those who sent in the information that Saint Apollonia is patron Saint of those with dental problems having all of hers knocked out by a Christian persecutor. Read more here.

Greg sent a news release stating that St. Padre Pio's body has been found incorruptible, pilgrims to his tomb being presented with the face of man who seems to simply be sleeping though he died some 40 years ago. St. Pio, pray for us!
CORRECTION! Adoro kindly sent this follow up to the above story. "There has been an internet rumor going around for the last year that Padre Pio is incorrupt and that is NOT TRUE! He IS corrupted and what we see is a wax mask that was made for display (for quite obvious reasons!). I do believe that his hands may be incorrupt. The news stories that were published after his exhumantion went into detail on this but some people didn't bother to read those facts. They saw the wax mask and jumped to the conclusion of incorruption." For information and the full story look here. Thanks Adoro!

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports: "Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation," said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., as he outlined the policy priorities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on the issue of health care in a July 17 letter to Congress. The letter supported efforts to pass health care reform, but warned against inclusion of abortion." More information here.

From the same source: "Did you know, Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) is a mission driven, not-for-profit health system? They operate acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, housing sites for the elderly, home health agencies, hospice programs, wellness centers and other healthcare organizations that meet the healthcare needs of people in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and nearby states." Read more here.

Elena sent this link to an blog that ties in nicely with Monday's guest blog.

F. sent in this On Line Aquarium that is pretty cool.

He also sent in this video of a choir performing a rainstorm. I know - I thought it sounded pretty lame too until I listened to it. Approximately 6 minutes but the first two minutes are the neatest part. I want to try this!

Have you had a chance to read Pope Benedict's new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" yet? Find it here. Go on . . . print it up and read it at your leisure.

Joan's Rome is a pretty interesting site provided through EWTN. If you are looking for short insights from someone in the heart of Rome it is a good read.

J.B. sent this information about a new Catholic lay initiative beginning in the Canton area but is seeking to become a larger initiative. "I am the director of Saint Cecilia Classical Productions Inc., a new pro-life, Catholic, evangelization apostolate. We are located in the Canton-Massilon area, and are a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization. The main focus of our apostolate is the advancement of the Culture of Life by the promotion of authentic Catholic family values to today’s young people." I know next to nothing about this organization. If you have any information please send it in. For the rest of you here is more reading.

Oh, and finally, a couple of more pictures from my vacation. . .

Monday, July 27, 2009


Good morning. I am scheduled to have my wisdom teeth removed today and so what follows is a guest post. I have no idea if I'll be posting the next day or so. Sorry for the spottiness of posts lately! Thanks CK

I live a monumentally mundane life. I always tell people that I live under a rock, so if I encounter something regularly, then I assume it happens to the rest of the world super-regularly. There is a subject that keeps coming up in my social circles lately…

Two old high school friends and I met up at a local bar this week and of course we did what old friends do. We reminisced about high school and college, talked about our jobs and kids. And that same awkward, yet sadly universal subject came up that eventually gets discussed between good friends: their bad experiences with birth control.

One of our mutual friends has recently had a tubal ligation and was really regretting it. She said she feels awful all the time. It wasn’t clear whether the problem was the operation itself, getting off the pill, the emotional effects or a combination of factors. As if this weren’t bad enough, she needs a second surgery due to a case of HPV that if left untreated will certainly lead to cancer.

We all went to a Catholic high school together and I feel we were completely misled by our “health” classes. We were taught every form of birth control available. The teachers seemed to give their implicit stamp of approval to using contraceptives – and leaving any girl who wished to follow Church teaching to feeling completely unsupported. Sure we were told monogamous sex was safest, but it seemed like just a wink acknowledging the Church’s antiquated stance.

We were certainly led to believe that condoms would protect us from sexually transmitted diseases. If this is so, then why are over one third of American women infected with HPV? And why is my friend’s life now very likely at risk? We were taught what sterilization methods were available, but I don’t think anyone made the connection that mutilating healthy organs might have very bad physical and psychological consequences.

The other girlfriend I was drinking with that night had told me in the past that she had an IUD. Now apparently she is on the pill. I wouldn’t surprise me if she had unpleasant experiences with the IUD. Another girl I know had one put in by her doctor and it promptly caused a painful infection. Her doctor ignored her complaints of pain until she insisted the doctor take it out – only to find it really was infected.

The girlfriend who made the IUD/pill switch is a nurse and is extremely well read and intelligent. Yet, I don’t think she even notices that contraceptives are accomplishing the opposite of what medicine intends: it makes a healthy reproductive system unhealthy. She strives for perfect nutrition and to eat organic food whenever she can, yet she is willing to put artificial devices, hormones, and chemicals directly into the most delicate parts of her body. She eats grilled food as infrequently as possible in order to avoid carcinogens, yet will take a pill every day that the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control rate as a Group 1 carcinogen. She is environmentally conscious and recycles religiously, but the hormones in her pills eventually end up in lakes and streams, potentially destroying fish populations.

I always assumed that I would get married and use birth control pills, but I just had the random thought one day that the decision to use contraception was going to dramatically alter my life, and since God doesn’t want me to use it, I think I’d rather have my life be dramatically different in the direction of what is good. I decided I would use Natural Family Planning even though it doesn’t really “work”. It is only later that I did my own research and discovered that Natural Family Planning is just as effective as the pill, but has the added bonuses of being 100% side effect free, can be used to achieve pregnancy if desired, and costs nothing.

Being as I am a Catholic, though, what matters to me the most is my friends’ happiness which means I want them to have a happy family in this life and heaven in the next, and contraception has the power to destroy both. It is difficult to share this kind of information, but I try to take advantage of opportunities when I can as warmly, kindly, and delicately as possible. There is so much brokenness in families, pain in human hearts, and disease caused by contraception that fighting it is a cause close to my heart. I for my part am trying to find out how I can learn NFP so I can educate my loved ones, maybe even teach it publically if I can.

The pulpit is the perfect place to say, look, I know you haven’t been told this before, but I’m going to tell you Church teaching as gently and clearly as I can. It’s not your fault if you’ve never been told before. I know you’re afraid, but God doesn’t ask impossible things. I’m going to help you by having the Couple to Couple League in the gym after every mass today to introduce you to what you’ve been missing…or whatever the priest deems appropriate to help us.

I feel that I have done so little to fight the Culture of Death myself, and it seems like the task is impossible, but I intend to do what little I can. If it was God’s plan to have Pope John Paul II smash the iron curtain almost instantaneously without firing a shot, who says God might not smash the Culture of Death through us who are supposed to be His saints today?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I learned a new symbol on vacation. St. John Nepomucen was the Queen of Bohemia’s confessor. Unfortunately for John the King was not happy with his wife the queen and wanted to be rid of her so that he could move on to other pastures. The king was sure that the queen had confessed that she was unfaithful to him so he called on John to have him reveal the content of her confession. John, of course, refused to break the deal of confession. So the king had him tortured participation in the torture himself. As you may have already surmised Saint John refused to break the seal. This so infuriated the king that he had him taken out on the Charles bridge and thrown into the river. At the spot where he was thrown in the river there is a large statue and like many depictions of him depicts him with stars around his head. Stars around the head are usually reserved for the Blessed Virgin Mary but this saint is the exception. The stars are a reference to the stars that shown in the sky that night. When his body was thrown in the water it was thought that his body would not be found in the dark of the night nor would it be intact. But the stars cast a strong light where his body laid and so they were able to find him – hence the circle of stars around his head.


After receiving Communion the Communion Rite is not finished! The rite ends with the praying of the collect or Prayer after Communion. That is why it is inappropriate to have the announcements read or other such thing before the collect is prayed. We are not done yet!

The form of this prayer is similar to the collect at the beginning of Mass. There is a call to, “Let us pray,” at which time we are called to silent prayer. (Hopefully you are given a little time to do this.) The prayers are then collected into one great prayer offered on behalf of the congregation to the Father, thought the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. This concludes the Communion Rite and if there are any horrid little announcements to be read or some such thing this is the time to do it.

Now that we have been renewed, fed, instructed, we have praised God, been blessed by Him, and brought closer to Him, now that we have celebrated and have even touched God we have once more the call and response, “The Lord be with you.” “And also with you.” A final blessing is given just before we are sent out to live what we have celebrated. “May Almighty God bless you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

“Amen!” we cry out, ready to live anew the life to which Jesus has called us.

“This Mass is ended. Go in peace.”

How grateful we are for this great gift in which were privileged to participate. “Thanks be to God!”

The Mass ends right here. The concluding hymn is not part of the Mass. If you have stayed for the, “Thanks be to God,” you have stayed for the entire Mass and in doing so have fulfilled your Sunday obligation. The mandate of Vatican II for full, conscious, and active participation has been met.

Manners however might call us to something higher. Participating in the closing hymn, allowing the priest to take leave of the sanctuary, making a connection with other parishioners is not a matter of liturgy, it is a matter of community. It shows that we understand what it is to be Church. That is not to say that there are times that we might need to hurry on a particular day, but in general staying to offer a prayer of thanksgiving perhaps, going to coffee and donuts, stepping outside to speak to people with whom you have a connection, this is all part of trying live what we have just celebrated.

“That they might be one of the first to get out of the parking lot.” Er, I mean, “That they might be one.”

Well, so much for a quick overview of the Mass! But we are done. But, my friends, we have just scratched the surface. The depths of the beauty of the Mass is infinitely deeper. There is so much more to explore and there has been a mere taste here. If you “got something out of” this series please consider continuing your exploration of this “source and summit” of our lives; the cause and symbol of our unity.


Today's post may be a bit disjointed. I am sitting in the hospital waiting room as my sister has surgery on her wrist. Why must hospital furniture be so uncomfortable? There will also be no pitcures as the hospital web site restrict image searches!

Now that we are properly shook – the Lamb of God is sung. It is during this time not the concretion that the Eucharistic bread is broken. The priest says a private prayer at this point for which he has two options. The one that makes for pause of thought is the second one.

It reads in part, “As I eat Your Body and drink Your Blood let it not bring me condemnation but health in mind and body.” Is that not something to contemplate? This holy food can bring eternal life or condemnation.

Communion is the most intimate moment we have with God on earth. It is central to our covenant. It is the source and symbol of our bond as the marriage act is to marriage (a reason we do not “share” Jesus with persons who do not believe as we do!) To reject Him and His teachings yet take possession of His Body is a grave matter for one truly believes that this is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and that belief must be reflected in the life one leads.

At this moment the priest holds Jesus aloft and proclaims, “Behold that Lamb of God.” These are the same words that Saint John used when he pointed to Jesus on the shore and exclaims, “Belhold the Lamb of God!” We are making the claim and connection that this is the same Jesus in our midst 2,000 years later. “Happy are they who are called to His supper!” Communion then is shared among those of the same covenant, the same adoption, the same belief, those who are united as one.

Occasionally I make mention of this at Masses or in classes where there are people of different faith traditions and on more than one occasion someone has stepped forward and said that they were offended or confused in that they could not receive Communion at Mass. Usually this will end up in a discussion (usually over coffee) about why this is the case. Wonderful dialogues take place. In a few instances people had to seriously consider if they should not become Catholic for their belief was much closer to that of the Catholic Church than of their own. None of these opportunities would have taken place had there not been some honesty about division within the Christian Church. As long as we all pretend that everything is Okay and that there are no real division between us no real movement can be made in the direction of true unity.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “To my great surprise, I found that Catholicism was not as much a departure from the atheistic belief system I’d grown up with as it was an elaboration and fulfillment of it. I’d merely followed all those longing I felt for things like truth, beauty, justice, and peace and found that they had a source – a living, personal Source.” Jennifer Fulwiler in “This Rock”

QUOTE II: “She would have been a good woman,” the Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” From Flannery O’Connor’s, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”


This is a picture of one of the hawks born in our bell tower this summer sitting on top of Saint Sebastian's head. The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "Children attending (Ohio) Catholic schools will feel the burden of a 59 million dollar reduction in resources and services." Read more here.

From the same source: "Did you know, is a Catholic web site for kids of all ages and for other Christians who are interested in the Catholic faith?"

One last note from the same source: "The U.S. astronaut who carried relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux into space and put them in orbit around the earth recently attended a general audience with Pope Benedict XVI.On a Discovery shuttle mission one year ago, Colonel Ronald Garan brought the relics given to him by a Carmelite community in New Caney, Texas." Read more here.

Bryan Fitzgerald sent this in: "Father Valencheck, IrishCentral's own Father Tim, a Jesuit missionary who has his own blog on our site, has written a very special column on the Church abuse scandal in Ireland that may be of special interest to your readers." Read more here.

E sent this video in on the Eucharist.

P also sent this one minute video in. Is it serious?

Monday, July 20, 2009


There is the story of a priest who went to visit the monks of an abbey. He marveled at how they were able to live such rigorous lives. Every day they woke, worked, prayed, recreated, and went to bed following a rigid schedule and always behind the walls of the abbey. “How can you do this?” the diocesan priest asked in wonder, “this is a very difficult life. I don’t think that I could do it!”

A monk with a look of surprise on his face marveled back, “How can we live like we do? I should think your life so much more difficult! How do you face temptation day after day without the kindly walls of the abbey to protect you and the wise schedule to guide you?”

This story came to mind last week when I was traveling in Prague. It was a challenge to keep up with the Office, rosary, other prayers and Mass as days were distorted during over-seas plane rides, exhausting days of being on the road and, to be quite honest, the temptation to do other things than to stop and pray. At the end of ten days I was quite happy to be home and in my schedule that provided ease in these matters and a community life that supports it.

During a walk along the river this bit of graffiti was spotted:

Some find it humorous but I found it very sad. Perhaps this is because of the many similar confessions heard. Along the same lines are a couple of lines that jotted down in my quote journal from my reading over the years:

Then, at the end of his strength, he would sink down in an easy-chair; his body relaxed, his eyes half closed, he would enjoy his sin by little sips, murmuring to himself in ecstatic remorse, ‘Ah! I am damning myself! I am damning myself!’” - Alphonse Daudet

So the deluded youth, enticed by the siren voice of pleasure, hesitated at the threshold of the house of death, and then sets his feet in the way to hell with a smile.” - Rev. Daniel March

It was written here before that it generally does not do to solely pray to God that He wipe a temptation away. It also often leads to failure when we decide to white knuckle a problem by ourselves. “I am going to beat this if it kills me!” Rather it is always a cooperative effort with God: His assistance and our cooperation with it.

Yet there is one more element. It is that of the community. The poor man (I assume the person male) that scribbled that note on the wall would have such an easier go of it had he a community to whom he was responsible. There is the risk of abuse here. Someone might take it upon themselves to police rather than aid. That may be a leading cause of people striving to be so independent. But the price of independence is also heavy. The pillar that stands alone is much more easily toppled. Our strength as Church is that we are also community. It is an ideal to better cultivated it seems but in such a mobile society is it possible?

It is a matter to ponder . . .

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Greetings all,

I have left on vacation and will not be posting (I think - stranger things have happened) until the 21st of July.

God bless,

Fr. V


Before I leave on vacation I thought I would jot down some things that happened this past week. Fr. Pfeiffer and I had a house guest this past weekend who is a younger priest. We all celebrated Mass together on Monday morning and after they were kind enough to go on a walk with me and Sebastian on his morning airing. I was mulling things over as we were walking down Mull Avenue when I said, “I wonder when is the last time West Akron saw three young priests out for a walk in all their clerical glory.”

Fr. Pfeiffer responded, “*Ahem*, Father, that would be two young priests and one middle aged priest.”

Fortunately I like Fr. Pfeiffer and had Sebastian bite him only once.

A parishioner remarked that he saw us out on our walk and thought we looked like a new and strange gang out showing our colors.

I guess in a way we were.

I suppose there is the lesson of clerical attire. Who would have known the presence of the Church’s ministers in their neighborhood had we not been thusly attired? It is like watching a movie and seeing a pan of a crowd and spotting a priest in his color or a nun in her habit and being reminded just for a moment, “Ah, there is the Church. Remember faith. We are there.”

If even gangs get it I guess the Church was always been on to something.

On July 4th Fr. Pfeiffer had the morning Mass. I was coming over for confessions at the end of Mass and realized that there was no music. No music on July 4th? That cannot stand! So I climbed up into the choir loft and got out some of my music and powered up the mighty pipe organ. They were just getting ready for communion and so as quickly as I could I picked out a song, hit a preset button and placed my fingers on the keyboard to play.

Oh! But the preset had been changed and I did not think to check it! The people, quietly and reverently began to move toward the communion line, thoughts lifted up in silent adoration. Light streamed in through the colored glass giving a mellow glow to the morning and Father’s robes flowed gently as he glided down the steps with our Lord in his hands to distribute His Body to the faithful who came to begin their celebrations by offering their thanks to God. The very picture of serenity.

Then I pressed my fingers down on the organ keys and produced such a fog horn blast that birds for miles around took to their wings sure that a giant bird of prey was coming down upon them. For one moment, in unison, the whole congregation popped up as if some giant foot had kicked the church floor. Children cried and those with pace makers grasped at their chests.

No, it was not the parousia, it was just me.

(It was not quite that bad but awfully darn close.)

You know, being priest is awesome. My friends and I sit around a wonder why more guys don’t want to do this. It is such a privilege, joy, honor, as well as being a life of such meaning that I can’t help but tell young men (and not so young men) to at least entertain the question as to whether God is calling them.

In this Year of Priests, please pray for the young men thinking of the priesthood.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Have you ever had the dream where you are naked in a room full of people? I do once in a blue moon but fortunately always seem to have boxers on so the dream is not completely humiliating. And no one seems to notice so I just wait for the casual opportunity to slip out and put some pants on. People can be awfully polite.

Of course, the human body is nothing of which we need to be ashamed unless you are showing up for Mass with more skin than clothing showing. Hence Christopher West’ assertion that although there is nothing intrinsically wrong with nudity, fig leafs are an absolute necessity in a fallen world.

Symbolically nudity can have a good or bad connotation. According to George Furgeson’s book mentioned here on numerous occasions, during the Renaissance there were four distinct symbolic types of nudity.

Nuditas naturalis: “Naked I was brought into the world, naked I shall return. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” Here is freedom. It is our natural state free from the stain of the desire for unbridled sexual license when we can be “naked without shame” and see the other as a person even though they be naked. This is the toddler that you can’t keep clothes on as they run through the neighborhood.

Nuditas temporalis: Here is one who has lost his shirt. In this case it is somewhat negative particularly if it is a fall after placing too much emphasis on worldly goods. They are now bereft. On the other hand there is the guy that will give you the shirt off his back. They have given all for God like St. Francis in the town square dropping off all his finery bought for him by his father so that nobody would have a claim on him but God alone. As noble as that might be, today you would be arrested so I do not recommend it.

Nuditas virtualis: No, this is not virtual nudity. This is the nudity of virtue. It is purity and innocence. Though in the world we are detached from it, not overcome by temptation or the evil of the world. It is the virtuous life.

Nuditas criminalis: Here is lust and vanity. Here is Bacchus. Here is overindulgence, self absorption, and the loss of all virtue. Here are also the images that are to be avoided on your computer screen.

The courts of the United States have tried in vain to find the exact dividing line between art and porn. “You know it when you see it,” does not work well for law. Symbolically it is a bit easier to discern that nudity which is to be good and that which is to show something evil. A nude who still had dignity and modesty in stance, whose gaze may be heavenward, whose expression is that of virtue, whose purpose is to illicit ideas of truth, beauty, and good is not something about which we should be ashamed to look upon if we can do so without our minds distorting the artist’s intent.

A nude with much jewelry, is in luxurious or licentious surroundings, has a direct and daring gaze or stance or expresses shame or horror is nudity used either to show the depths of man’s fall or evil intent. Here is not the joy of beauty and truth but the crassness of base desires.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


We continue on with two more prayers to the Father. The first by the celebrant asking the Father to keep us always in His grace until we should joyfully greet His Son and the second by all that is a bit of an declaration of allegiance, “For the Kingdom, the power and glory are Yours . . .”

Then, interestingly enough, we have a prayer in which we directly address Jesus. Savvy is the celebrant who can by inflection or some other means makes this change in prayer perceptible to those in attendance. We turn to Him and plead for the peace here on earth which He promised to His disciples. Having done that the celebrant addresses all assembled, “The peace of the Lord be with you.”

“And also with you.”

“Let us offer each other the sign of peace.”

Now comes a problem that I doubt will ever be adequately solved. We have the sign of peace in this particular spot just before we approach the altar similar to the Gospel mandate that asks us to make peace with our brothers and sisters before approaching the altar. It makes sense. But it is a symbolic gesture. We are to turn to the person immediately next to us to offer the sign of peace. To make the sign of peace to one (or two) is to symbolically to make the sign of peace to all since as gathered we are the Body of Christ. If you try to grab everyone’s hand within spitting distance and give waves, winks, and finger gunshots to those beyond your grasp it ceases to be a symbolic gesture and becomes an actual gesture. Then you have the odd problem of those out of your range. What of Mrs. Gunnysack sitting in the front pew or the odd, hairy, slightly smelly guy who sits back in the corner? If it is not a symbolic gesture why not form two lines like at the end of the baseball game and have each person walk pass every other person and shake hands?

Someone once asked the former liturgist of our diocese, “So does that mean that I am to choose between which of my family I am going to offer the sign of peace to?” To which he responded, “in the Body of Christ we are one. There is not wife or husband, daughter, son, etc. We are all brothers and sisters.” That is probably the ideal. I can’t imagine ignoring someone that wanted to shake my hand because we want to liturgically perfect, but that does mean that we should cut down on the ridiculousness of the long distance, “Hey – and peace to you over there!”

“Right back at you dude.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


This is an exciting time. Jesus is present on our altar. The curtain of time has been opened and we are united in the original sacrifice. Now with our Savior the moment of absolute joy is almost here.

In this state we begin by recalling the mystical events in which we find ourselves. In the RC we start again addressing our Father, “ . . . we celebrate the memory of Christ, Your Son,” Who is now present on our altar, “we, Your people and Your ministers recall His passion, His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension into glory.” We then tell Him that we are about to offer Him the only gift worthy of Him: Jesus. In the Third Eucharistic Prayer we state, “Look with favor on Your Church’s offering and see the Victim Whose death reconciles us to Yourself.” Since most people listen instead of reading along in a book (which is right and good) they miss the capitalization of “Victim.” Jesus is THE one true Victim for our sins as He is the only truly Innocent One. As such we beg the Father to accept this sacrifice – His Son on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sins.

In the first half of the RC we were concerned with people and things of this world. Now that we are actively dabbling in things of the next we begin expanding outward to encompass the true circle of the Church. So as in the first part we recalled “all Your people especially those for whom we know pray,” in the second part we beg, “Remember Lord those who have died . . .especially those for whom we now pray.” What a blessing (to some soul) to call someone to mind – even if it is just the poor souls – during this time instead of thinking about a tee-time or grocery list!

We pray for our future with the saints after our time in this life is over. “May we share in the fellowship of the apostles and martyrs with John the Baptist, Stephen, Mathias . . .”

Finally, before the grand moment of the Mass we once make our ultimate request: That through this sacrifice, trusting in his mercy and love, we will enjoy the fruits of salvation.

Now, there are certainly a number of high points – very significant – even earth shaking events in the Mass. But here comes the most incredible moment of all. Jesus’ mission on earth was to be the perfect mediator between heaven and earth. He was to bring man back into relationship with his Father. We were estranged and now are family is healed! This is all because of the sacrifice of our God, a Trinity of Persons Who we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, can call Father through the One we are granted to name as Brother.

So, we see Jesus lifted up for all to see just as He was 2000 years ago except we see the glory of the lifting up where the original witnesses only saw scandal and disgrace. We can be the voice in the background at Golgotha that cries out, “Through Him! (Jesus!) With Him (Did you catch that? WITH HIM!) In Him! In the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours! Almighty Father! For ever and ever!” And we should burst forth, unable to contain ourselves with a three fold, “Amen! Amen! Amen!” But we are used to it! Mere mortals have become accustomed to visiting with God! That is both our shame and our glory. But think of it – now that Jesus has been lifted up in the Holy Spirit and we are once again united as closely as we can be here on earth with God (assuming we went to confession if need be) what are the first words out of our mouths? What did Jesus teach us to say? How do we address the Lord, God, Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that they contain now that we have been brought this close together?

Our Father, Who art in heaven . . .”