Friday, April 29, 2016

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: O BOY! OBLATION

I remember meeting Pope John Paul II.  It was in the papal palace and there we were lined up in a room and he walked down the line shaking hands and saying a few words.  I remember thinking, “What do you say to the most popular and powerful man in the world?  ‘Hey!  Everyone back home says, “good job!”’”  Everything just seemed too trite.

In a similar way, what do you give as a gift or offering to God?  What do you buy for the God who not only has everything but made everything in the first place?

This is where the interesting word “oblation” comes in.  It is one of the Eucharistic prayers.  “Accept this oblation.”  I know of a number of people who cannot abide by the new translation, one of the reasons being words like this.  On the other hand, words like this are great opportunities to learn the language of the Church and to expand our horizons.  Oblation means an offering to God.

Keep that word in your hip pocket because paragraph 79 (yes, we are still on 79) subsection f of the GIRM wants you to carry that concept around with you.  First and foremost is the oblation of the Mass.  What do you give to the Father?  What do you give to Perfection itself?  Why not give back perfection?  What do you give Love itself?  Why not Love?  Where do we find this perfection?  In Jesus Christ.  Where do find Jesus?  First and foremost in the Eucharist; Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  We offer to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, His Son.  “Through Him (Jesus) and with Him, and in Him, O God Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, for ever and ever.  Amen!  Amen!  Amen!”  This is truly the hight point of the Mass when we make this incredible, mind-blowing oblation to our Father.  That is yet another reason why, as Flannery O’Conner says, “If it’s just a symbol, to hell with it.”



But this paragraph says this is not the only gift we have to offer.  At the Mass we also (dear priests of the baptized) learn to offer our very selves.  That is why it is important to participate in such things as singing, kneeling, praying, because we are offering our very selves.  Even the offertory becomes a liturgical action and not a convenient way to collect money to keep the lights on and to candles on the altar.  The fruit of our labors we bring to this Mass and offer it in service to God and His Church as our offering.  That’s one reason I tell people that, even if they can’t (or don’t want to) give, bring and empty envelope and enclose it with prayer.  


Our lives, our thoughts, our bodies, our actions, our souls we must grow in the habit of giving to God, “and so day by day to be brought, through the mediation of Christ, into unity with God and with each other, so that God may at last be all and all.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

THE BEST FRIEND YOU WISH YOU NEVER HAD

Everybody loves the gregarious, outgoing, fun guy.  You invite him to a dinner party to ensure that everybody has a good time with stimulating conversation.  

The quiet, withdrawn, meek person is much more difficult to love.  They take patience, understanding, and sometimes quiet.  When you really want to chat or be distracted, this is not the person that you call to mind.  They take more work.  But they can be much better for you than the fun loving guy in the same way taking the time to peel and eat an orange is better for you than ripping open and woofing down a bag of Value Time Cheese Curls is.

Over the next few weeks we are going to occasionally visit with some of these friends of yours.  You may not think of them as friends.  You may have crossed them off of your invite list.  And I know they can be a little bit difficult and time consuming, but they have your best interest at heart (most of the time) and have much more to offer than may first appear.




Today we are going to visit with one of your friends that St. Francis nicknamed Lady Loneliness.  Gads.  I used to avoid her like the plague.  Not only did she make me feel terrible about myself (or let myself feel terrible about myself in her presence) I was mortified to be seen with her in public.  I avoided her at all costs.  I would get together with my friends and never, ever invite her.  (It was silly really.) And if she did show up, I’d move the activities in such a way as to leave her behind.

Then one day, as a teenager, I was stuck in downtown Barberton and would not be seeing anybody for about an hour and I was hungry.  Super hungry.  There was a Taco Bell across the street from the Magic City Shopping Center and I decided to go over a grab a taco in order to tide me over.  Don’t you know it?  Who do I run in to?  Lady Loneliness.  I was like, “Oh dang it!  Of course I run in to her here.”  It was too late.  There was no way I could avoid her.  There she was waving and saying hi and asking if I was going in to the Taco Bell too.  I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t very nice about it, sighed passive aggressively, and said something like, “Come on, let’s go.”

We sat down at a booth and began to eat what I remember now as a lenten special  (Lots of beans.)  I was surprised to find that I really didn’t mind her presence at all.  As a matter of fact, that day in particular, I was rather fond of her.  That night I even remarked to my parents how excited I was that went out to lunch with her and didn’t mind it - in fact - enjoyed it.

In that little bit of time she did some pretty remarkable things for me.  She started me on a journey of liking myself more.  I am Okay with my company and my own thoughts.  She planted the seed of confidence that I could be in public with her and it was Okay.  I didn’t need (wanted, but didn’t need) the right others with me to feel as though I was important.  It was incredibly liberating.  The world got bigger for me and more full of color.  

That is not to say that I’m always glad when she all of a sudden shows up, waving and wanting to hang out.  Sometimes I think, “Oh, not today!”  But even on those days, her visits are no longer filled with dread.  And really, those are the days she has more to teach me.  


So let me recommend her to you.  She really is a good friend, or at least she tries to be.  I know she can be annoying and often it seems her greatest benefit is when she leaves, but by embracing her when she comes across your path, she’ll help you grow in self love, confidence, and the freedom of never having to run and hide from her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ARE PREPARED FOR A DROUGHT OF SACRAMENTS?

What are you going to do to protect yourself against the priest shortage?

In grade school you were ready to duck and cover.

You were ready for Y2K.

You may even be ready for the Zombie apocalypse.

But are you preparing for the priest shortage?

Here are some things you might want to consider.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES wait until the last dying breaths to call a priest to anoint someone.  It is completely unnecessary and dangerous.  Anointing should be done at the onset of a serious illness.  There are not a dozen parochial vicars sitting around on call anymore.  There are weekly stories of people calling around looking for a priest immediately and not being able to find one to come to the nursing home within the next couple of hours.  It is sad because it didn’t need to be that way.  Get anointed early.

Get to confession when you can.  Don’t wait until a week before Easter.  There are less priests and longer lines.  


Say your priest is ill, there are no other priests available and getting to another parish is unreasonable.  This does not mean that you are “off the hook.”  What are you going to do instead?  Can you look up the readings on line and study/discuss them?  Pray a rosary?  Make a holy hour?  What plan do you have in place?

What are you doing to keep your parish a vibrant place that attracts people and makes it more necessary that a priest be assigned there?  What are you doing as far as evangelization?  How are you helping fill the gaps by doing such things as taking communion to the homebound?

When was the last time you actively and on your own initiative promoted a vocation?  Have you suggested it to anybody?  Have you told a young man that you are praying for him?  Do you support and give encouragement to seminarians?  If you don’t know how to support a seminarian, ask your pastor.  If he says, “pray for them,” and walks away, Email me and I will tell you what you can do.


You were anointed prophet, king and priest at your baptism.  It is part of your office to promote vocations.  They don’t just happen out of thin air.  With support of the body, the limb withers.  So let us stop lamenting and start acting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXLIV

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "To protest against God in the name of justice is not helpful.  A world without God is a world without hope."  from Pope Benedict's "Spe Salve"

QUOTE II:  "You can't just enjoy the heat.  You must throw logs on the fire."  Fr. Gene Fulton

IN OTHER NEWS:

Mary sent in THIS VIDEO of Eric Genius, a talented guy I had the privilege of meeting last year.  Here is the power of beauty at work in a jail.  He has a couple of upcoming concerts.  See more HERE.

I was gone last week so Sebastian spent time with friends.  Here he is helping make dinner.


Pat sent in THIS ARTICLE about a Virgin Mary statue that survived the earthquake in Ecuador.

Confused about the Pope's latest writing?  Look HERE.  Thanks Nan.

Where is the most beautiful church in the United States?  The Chicago Tribune says THIS is it.  Thanks Cindy.

Adam sent this video in:  How to be Ultra Spiritual (Hysterical)

Monday, April 25, 2016

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: DON'T DO IN FRONT OF YOUR PRIEST WHAT YOU DON'T WANT OTHERS TO KNOW

It is not an easy thing to be related to or be good friends with a priest.  We are constantly looking out for things to include in our homilies in order to make the Gospels come to  life.
So this past weekend I was out of state to attend my nephew's wedding.  Neither the bride nor groom were Catholic so I was in attendance rather than officiating - a unique experience for me.  We arrived in North Carolina just in time for the rehearsal dinner (good timing) and sat across from the minister and my sister Lor.  The man was a good listener and asked lots of questions.  But, as a fellow preacher at weddings, I saw the turn the conversation was having:
"Why did you kick me under the table?" my sister asked.

"Because he was trolling for information and you were giving it to him."

She didn't believe me.

"I'm telling you Lor, that's how you find things out in order to give an engaging homily.  I tell you, what you were saying was being carefully catalogued away and will be revisited tomorrow."

"You are so over sensitive to these things," she said to me.

Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

CHOOSEDAY PART CHOO

When you fall asleep tonight, what do you imagine that you could do today that you might look back on and be happy that you did (or didn't) do?  There so much to do today.  Endless tasks may await you.  Or maybe the whole day could be used watching television reruns or winning virtual games of cards.  

But what if you wrote that one letter to someone that you know would love to hear from you?  What if you dropped by your parish and waisted some time with God?  What if you passed on that snack that, if you hadn't of seen it you probably wouldn't have thought to eat it?  What if you mustered up the energy to say something nice to someone who drives you batty?  What if you finally made that phone call, said that prayer, finished up that promise, or did that exercise?  If you did any of these things, then you get to do the victory dance; you get to smile or feel relief and maybe some pride and dignity.  You may rest better and think back on the day with some pride.  You have had a victory at living.  You have conquered another hill.  It's these little things that count.  They build you up for the big things.  

For as much as you dreaded it before you started, aren't you happy now that it is done?  You should be.  That is the kind of person God intended you to be:  Be not afraid.  The afraid live, but they live afraid.  You are meant for greater things.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXLII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Not all of us will be cast in the greatest dramas.  Someone has to remember them."  from Emily St. John Mandel's, "Last Night in Montreal"

QUOTE II:  "Memory is too unreliable to entrust to the hero alone.  Someone else has to observe the chain of events to lend credibility; if no-one else remembers your story, how are you to prove that it is real?"  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:

Starting on the clothing of the new St. Sebastian icon:


Pat sent in THIS article entitled, "The Good News about Porn."

Christine sent THIS link in about a new show you might want to catch.

And here is the trailer.

  

Monday, April 18, 2016

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: HOW TO KNOW GOD LOVES YOU

Good morning everybody!
And it is certainly one of my favorites.  Today is the day we have the reading at Mass from the Acts of the Apostles.  In it, Saint Peter is being chastised by some for going over to A Gentiles' house and eating their food.  But St. Pete, beloved by true foodees everywhere, told them about a vision he had from God.  "Something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners . . . I observed and saw the four legged animals of earth . . . and a voice say to me, 'Slaughter and eat.'"

"Certainly not," said our intrepid hero, "nothing unclean will enter my mouth!"

But God said to him, "What God has made clean you are not to call profane!"

This happened THREE TIMES.

That means its all free game.

And pig is no longer off limits.  Thus was the Church to embrace bacon.  And now, those in the know, (which now includes YOU) celebrate this annual feast called Baconmas day!
Please celebrate the goodness of God by eating some bacon today!

Thank you to Fr. Thomas for reminding me.

Friday, April 15, 2016

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: COMBATING LITURGICAL SENILITY

"But what have you done for me lately?"

Unless someone is family or in our lives in some other capacity so that we must deal with them on a regular basis, if a person is not blowing us up or giving us money (to state it in a vulgar fashion), we tend to forget about them.  It's human nature.  Two weeks after there is a shooter at a school, we forget about making schools safer.  When we figure out we will not benefit from the lottery winner, we have no recall at all who it was that did win and perhaps even that there was lottery.  I imagine this saves us a lot of grief.

But there are some things and persons we should never forget.  There is a part of the Mass called the anamesis (paragraph 79 sub paragraph e).  It is from the Greek word for rememberance.  (Speaking of "remember," something to recall at this moment is that before Latin, Greek was the language of the Church, of which the Kyrie is a remnant.  But of course we cannot forget "Alleluia" which is, in fact, Hebrew). What we remember specifically at each Mass is the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus.  Here is the particular phrase from the Roman Canon (Eucharistic prayer I), "Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people . . . "



And really, it is not even a matter of, "What have you done for me lately," it is more reminding us that these actions are saving us at this very moment.  If salvation were a roller coaster, we would not be anticipating the ride, we would not be remembering it, it would be as if we were on the wild hair ride down the steep slope, in the midst of the joy and radicalness of the moment.  Unfortunately we can be a bit like my Dad as he descended into Alzhiemers.  About every 15 minutes during his birthday party he would ask, "What are we celebrating?"  We would tell him, "You birthday!"  And he would light up afresh each and every time.  "Really?  This is a party for me?  What a great surprise!"  

You are being loved and saved at this very moment.  Christ did not die 2000 years ago for some idea of you today.  That mystery in which we are present at the Mass is going on right now for you.  Christ suffer and dies for you now.  His resurrections is present to us at the Mass.  At that moment, when the portals of heaven and earth are open, he leads us in His ascension into heaven.  And it is for you.  Not an idea of you.  He calls you by name.  It is almost too much for us to comprehend.  So at the Mass we work on remembering this.

Anamesis 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

TECHNOLOGY SAVED BY BEAUTY or The Qwerkywriter for the Qwerky Among Us

So I got a new toy.  I am using it to write to you.  This toy is very important to me because it marks, what I hope to be, a new phase in technology - a phase that might actually get this Luddite's buy in.

Yes, technology has made life easier.  This I do not argue.  It does things more quickly and often better.  I benefit in many ways because of it.  But in many ways life is also uglier because of it.  When I see a computer in someone's office, I see awkward black objects strung together with black cables that is often at odds with the rest of the feel of the room not unlike a utility box appears in the middle of your otherwise green front lawn.

It may be sleek and powerful and well designed, but I rarely find it beautiful to look at.  (Not everyone agrees I understand.). In fact, a lot of money is spent covering up these devices to make them more palatable.  (Is this because I am 50 years old?). Here is a picture of my iPad, my Kindle, and my iPhone all of which have things that hide them and make them more pleasing.



Not too long ago I was on a junk buying trip with Fr. Orndorf and I bought a mid-last century Underwood Typewriter.  I use it for art projects and typing forms and envelopes when going into the next room to set up the printer is too much work.  Maybe not to everybody, but to me it is also beautiful.  There is some style to it.  Even if it is not used, there is something pleasing about being in its presence.  Some of that might be nostalgia but not all of it.  It is one of the objects in my office that receives attention when people visit.  "Wow!  Look at that!  Awesome!"

Then Father Ott told me of a new keyboard called "Qwerkywriter".  The keyboard resembles that of my Underwood.  It is fully functional except for the paper advance knobs on the sides.  (I would have rated it AAA+++ if these had been made the on/off switch or something.)  It is of metal construction, wireless save for charging and I find it pleasing to look at as well as fun to use.  It feels permanent and important.  When people come into my office, they are drawn to it now to an even greater degree than they are to the Underwood because it is taking the best in design and marrying it to the practicalities of modern need and technology.

This may sound like shameless product placement but I am not receiving anything for writing this nor was I asked to give a review.  This is important to me and IMHO to us as a people of faith as it relates to beauty.  That we can do more and better and more quickly and cheaper is wonderful, but we are neglecting an essential element of what it is to be human if we do not also make it beautiful.  If we ignore the beautiful it will be to our soul like missing a vitamin or mineral would be to our bodies.  We may get along just fine without it for a long time, but after a while, the effects will start to show and we may not even be able to put a finger on exactly what is wrong, but we will know that something is missing and that our lives will be less for it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

HAPPY CHOOSEDAY

I take Sebastian for walks in the local parks.  While we’re at it I pick up trash.  There are a few regulars in the neighborhood that I know by their daily trash.  There is the guy that smokes a cheap cigar and drops the package, the person who buys a Big Gulp and seems to finish it when passing St. Sebastian, and the young folks having sports practice in the field invariably leaving behind full water bottles.  (Get the picture?  Litter in the park?)

Now, I have two choices.  One choice is to be upset and angry about something over which I have very little control.  I could curse the malefactors, decry the state of civilization, allow myself to dwell on anger, disgust, and dream of vengeance and then my reward will be an ugly mood.

OR

I could say a prayer of thanks to God that there was this opportunity to be of service to my neighbors, to be humbled, and to serve my God.  “If it weren’t for this trash, I would not have been able to grow in holiness at this moment.  Thank you God and bless the person who mindlessly dropped this.”  




In the end, person of free will, it is up to you.  Do you want to be miserable or do you want to be content?  

What habit do you have that drives someone you love insane?  You can refuse to change.  You can do so reluctantly and resentfully.  Or you can thank God that you have something to great to give this person in order to show them how much you love them.  What is it, at the end of the day, do you want to look back and see yourself as?


What about an addiction to computers, drink, food, television, matters of the heart, in other words something that you really, really don’t want to give up but that you know you should.  It is going to be very difficult.  Part of the difficulty is that you really don’t want to give the thing up at all.  But in that very moment, in the very teeth of it, you have the power to love more ferociously than anybody else.  You have more to give than 10 other people.  Even if it is better for you, it is still a sacrifice to give it up.  What a way to show love to God and those who are special to you.  Now, you could focus on how resentful you are - for having to give it up - at God for allowing you have this weakness to overcome - at others for expecting it - and your reward will be that it is more difficult and you are more resentful.  Or you can focus on the opportunity given to show greater love than you ever have before, that you have more to give, and that you show yourself that you are love.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXLII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."  St. Catherine of Sienna 

QUOTE II:  "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."  William Morris

IN OTHER NEWS:

The members of the St. Sebastian Bridge Flights gave a donation to the parish to have an icon of St. Sebastian commissioned for the 90th anniversary of the parish coming up in 2018.  Sr. Iliana of the Christ the Bridegroom Monastery is painting.  Find out more about the Monastery HERE.  Below is not from Sr. Iliana:

"Just a quick note to tell you that the first part of the icon is done and to share a picture with you. All the clay is dry and I was able to put the oil on today. When the oil begins to dry (either today or tomorrow) I'll put down sheets of gold. Everywhere you see solid brown will be gold. The little brown streaks on the board will be covered up later."

Sebastian went to a slumber party the other week when I was out of town and this is what happened.  This is the danger of the Internet.  This embarrassing picture will be out there forever.  


Mike sent in an article entitled, "Undoing a Wreckovation Is Possible."  See it HERE.

I don't remember who but someone suggested to post this video concerning "YouTube Heresies."  This first in the series is 8.5 minutes.

Friday, April 8, 2016

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: THE ORIGINAL WORM HOLE

This is the mosaic in the sanctuary at St. Sebastian.  I really, really like the theological message behind it.  (This is, at least conceptually, liturgical art being used at its best.)  It is of the Last Supper.  In the center is Jesus holding the cup (chalice) of wine.  He is surrounded by his Twelve Apostles.  But though it is the Last Supper, there is no table around which they gather and there is no bread.  That is because the altar (the high altar, which was the sole altar used prior to the changes following Vatican II) IS that table around which Jesus and His Apostles gather and the Bread (Body of Christ) is what is on the altar and in the tabernacle.  The idea is to show what some people think of as a historical event is breaking in to our own day at the celebration of the Mass.  At the Mass, it is as if a curtain in time has been opened and we are present at these original events.  That is how they are relevant to us, how they include us in them.  



The Mass we celebrate is part of the One Mass being offered around the world and throughout time.  This altar is the table around which Christ and His Apostles gather.  This is art making complicated, mysterious, invisible realities visible and more comprehendible.  AWESOME.


Anyhoo . . . it is this phenomena that is highlighted in paragraph 79 subsection d of the GIRM as one of the important aspects of the Eucharistic prayer (as if  you wouldn’t have figured that out yourself.)  It is so clear that it does not need much explaining.  This part of the Mass is the part that, “by the words and actions of Christ, that Sacrifice is effected which Christ Himself instituted during the Last Supper, when He offered His Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine, gave them to the Apostles to eat and drink, and leaving with the latter the command to perpetuate this same mystery.”

Thursday, April 7, 2016

GOOD THING GOD INVENTED FIGS

As a student, for a summer, I lived with an alcoholic.  At first I was living on my own, house sitting through the graciousness of a friend and then was told, “This guys needs a place to stay.  He’s just coming off drinking and is trying to get his life together so I though he could stay in the house with you.”

I was cool with that and realized that I would need to get rid of the wine in the refrigerator that I enjoyed with dinner at night.  Now, I could have whined (ha) and complained and said, “I have every right as an American citizen to eat and drink as I wish and choose.  Everybody else should be responsible and control themselves.  This guys should be responsible for his drinking and I should not have to live differently just because he isn’t.”

The problem is that there is a modicum of truth to that but it would be cruel and idiotic.

Yet that is exactly what we do as a nation with something far more powerful and potentially damaging.  We push sexuality to the fore, we exploit it for advertising, use it gratuitously in art, demand that in the name of equality men and women be put in potentially compromising positions with each other (aka the near occasion of sin,) and push to promote the rights of those who wish to act out provocatively in public as far as possible with just the barest and thinest veil of modesty still in place.  Then, when people act out inappropriately (as we all agree they should NOT do) we are surprised, shocked, angry, and vengeful.


This is a broken model that is not working well.  It is a problem when we both celebrate liberty as license and do not recognize the fallen nature of man.  It is problem when we overly celebrate the individual and not the communal (catholic) nature of humanity.  It is dangerous when we don’t balance the dignity of the individual with the life of the Body of Christ.  It is not dealing with the fact that, while under our clothes we are all naked, there is a reason for fig leaves.