''You do not mean by mystery what a Catholic does. You mean an interesting uncertainty: the uncertainty ceasing interest ceases also.... But a Catholic by mystery means an incomprehensible certainty: without certainty, without formulation there is no interest;... the clearer the formulation the greater the interest.'' Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), British poet, Jesuit priest. Letter, Oct. 24, 1883, to Robert Bridges. Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Letters, ed. Catherine Phillips (1991).

Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendour.― Pope Benedict XVI

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus: Diplomat or Divine Judge?

Another word for 'diplomatic' in the lexicon of parish jargon is the word 'pastoral'. The use of the word 'pastoral' has become so broad as to include many attitudes and practices that are simply not Catholic, nor even reasonable: laity-designed liturgy that has 'the people' saying parts of the Mass properly belonging to the priest or the choir; use of the sanctuary as a stage for events not related to the Liturgy; a lack of decorum toward the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle; congregationalist type management of parish finances and properties; etc.

We should be diplomatic in the sense that we should be kind toward others in the mission of mercy, of extending to the downtrodden and repentant a helpful word or deed of encouragement and support as we share the saving the message of Jesus Christ. Does a concern for diplomacy avoid the necessity of speaking the truth in love, even if the truth hurts? Criticized by low-informed self appointed "pontiffs" who confuse judging behaviour with judging the person, do we avoid judging wrong behaviour for what it is, i.e., sinful behaviour simply, to preserve a perception that Catholics are "nice" people? The understanding that Catholicism is a limp social welfare organization might be a better fit for Canadians who elevate niceness, it seems, above authentic virtue. However, if we put the name 'Catholic' first before 'Canadian', or 'American', etc., as we should, then we might better keep our priorities straight and better represent the Faith in the public square as faithful Catholics who accept and practice right judgement over, say, the non-critical acceptance of sin and indifference to the question of right or wrong.

Confrontation can be unpleasant. Who doesn't want to avoid confrontation, or at least avoid any unnecessary conflict in this day and age of litigious trigger fingers, "human rights" tribunals and pugilistic parishioners who, more congregationalist that Catholic, threaten to walk with their chequebooks when offended for some inane reason, e.g., to protest a priest putting a card in the pew that promotes Catholic teaching on who should and should not receive Holy Communion. As a religious work of art might confront the human condition and point the viewer/hearer toward God, the Liturgy—celebrated faithfully—should confront us with the drama of sin and redemption. Is it any wonder that Catholics, so poorly formed in a correct understanding of the Mass, tend to treat the Liturgy as a mere social gathering with religious overtones? The Liturgy, having been made banal by a distortion of its form and content, is in some parishes little more than a sideshow rather than the supreme drama of man's redemption, i.e., Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary, re-presented on the altar every time Mass is validly celebrated. If the "source and summit" of our faith is ground down from a lofty peak to a barren plain, is it any wonder that Catholics lack the identity to stand up for the Faith in the public square?

Jesus the diplomat?

If we are asking 'What Would Jesus Do?', we can be certain that His example, which led Him to be crucified, will require us to speak and act with kindness and conviction, a kindness that is not saccharine nor dismissive of someone's wrongdoing or ill-informed argument, but a kindness that considers the consequences of actions in light of the Four Last Things—death, judgement, heaven, hell. If we really care, we should find ways to engage people stuck in their sins to help save them from damnation. In sweeter words, we must find ways to engage others so that they may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, to invite the lost to come home to the Catholic Church founded by Christ as a hospital for sinners, a nursery for saints.

So then, can we imagine a Jesus Who was timid and avoided confrontation? Is Jesus a virile messiah whose teachings and assertions that He is the Son of God led Him to the Cross, or is He the safe, inoffensive prophet of the religious communities that have embraced a culture of entitlement, hedonism and death, a culture that whines then dines on the blood of innocent unborn children in an attempt to sustain itself?

Can we imagine a Jesus Who, instead of confronting the money changers in the Temple with harsh words and a whip, waved His hand in a gesture of casual dismissal as if to say, "Oh well, they are only doing what they need to do to make a buck"?

Jesus, by His words or by His silence, gave people the opportunity to confront the tyranny of sin in their lives. He was gentle, firm, engaging, spoke with authority (How dare he!), and when necessary, showed His anger if only to reveal what is right and just in the precincts of the Lord, which is to say the sanctuary of any parish church and the sanctuary of the human heart.

Parish Priest—Pastor or Pushover?

Since when do the sheep have a vote on the Liturgy and the manner of its celebration? How many pastors, which is to say too many pastors, have become more "sheeplike" at the expense of their calling to shepherd the flock?

Instead of surrendering the Liturgy to the whims and trials of liturgists who lord a non-existent rubric of improvisation over the actual rubrics of the Mass, priests have the responsibility and privilege of conserving the rites so that the true story of the Faith is preserved and communicated to the faithful. The faithful can hardly be expected to remain faithful and grow in the Faith if the Liturgy itself is rife with abuses and excuses.

The Laity—disciples of the Lord Jesus or diplomats of the multicultural state?

Are we to excuse ourselves from the responsibility to mediate to others the saving message of Jesus by caving in to political correctness when an office manager demands we relinquish our beliefs in the public square? Is the demand to serve the public something the state can place above the consciences of civil servants who, desiring the development and well being of the common good, refuse to support state actions that impinge upon charter rights and freedoms?

On the occasion of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders, i.e., Holy Thursday, perhaps we might be even more mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted us with the Holy Gospel, to spread the message of hope by our lives for the salvation of souls.

Furthermore, the Divine Liturgy entrusted by the Lord to His Church requires our utmost respect. May the "source and summit of the Christian Faith" be celebrated with solemn and sober dignity.

A holy Triduum to all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bishop Watch

Since Bishop (now Archbishop) Gagnon's departure for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg in early January of this year, Catholics of the Diocese have raised prayers for our new shepherd at every Mass during the Universal Prayer. Until Ash Wednesday and Lent, most parish priests offered a Mass for a New Bishop every Thursday.

Other than the unsubstantiated and understandable chit-chat between members of the clergy genuinely eager for a new shepherd, there is nothing to report regarding a bishop for the Diocese of Victoria, BC.

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, met with Pope Francis yesterday, April 14th, and today was announced the appointment of two bishops.

This blogger will be keeping an eye on the visits of the good Cardinal from Québec to the Holy Father in the hope their (next?) meeting presages the arrival of our new Bishop.

Meanwhile, the administration of the Diocese is in the capable hands of Fr. John Laszczyk, Rector of the Cathedral.

We've come so far, but... .


Image Source: Deacon's Bench

.... not this... .

Image Source: WDTPRS


Image Source: Socrates58 Blogspot

but definitely not this... .

Parish of St. Joan of Arc - Image Source Star Tribune Image

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blood Moon Rising

If you haven't heard, we are due for four Blood Moons, a lunar tetrad, at roughly six month intervals until October 2015.

What is a Blood Moon? When the moon passes through the darkest shadow of the earth, it takes on a deep red colour. In other words, we'll be watching a lunar eclipse of a most striking kind.

The first moon in the sequence arrives tomorrow, April 2015 at 2 a.m. EDT. On the west coast that's April 14th at 11 p.m. PDT.

Provided skies are cloud free, North America will have front row seats to the celestial event. Weather not permitting:
The planet Mars, yet another red body in the heavens, will be flanking the eclipsed moon tonight.

UPDATE: April 15th, 12:26 a.m. PDT

Sunday, April 13, 2014

News from the Nuncio | Peterborough


The Holy Father accepted the resignation of H.E. Msgr. Nicola De Angelis, C.F.I.C, from the pastoral government of the diocese of Peterborough, according to Can. 401, § 1 of the Code of Canon Law, and appointed Msgr. William Terrence McGrattan, presently Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, Bishop of Peterborough, on April 8, 2014.

Still no word on a bishop for Victoria, BC.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's Marini!

Wikipedia Image

You have probably heard it elsewhere first: Pope Francis has reappointed Monsignor Guido Marini as Master of Pontifical Celebrations. The news from Vatican Radio:
Il Papa ha confermato mons. Guido Marini come maestro delle Celebrazioni liturgiche pontificie. Nato 49 anni fa a Genova, mons. Guido Marini era stato chiamato a questo incarico da Benedetto XVI nell’ottobre del 2007.

The Pope has confirmed Msgr. Guido Marini as Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations. Born 49 years ago in Genoa, Msgr. Guido Marini was named to this position by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2007.
Original report: Click HERE

Deo gratias!

Pray for the good monsignor!

The Duty of Catholic Public Servants

A Catholic politician or civil servant has a duty to properly form his or her conscience according to the teaching of the Church in order to properly serve the common good, to promote legislation that protects all life from conception to natural death, and a duty to promote a society founded on the rule of law rooted in the law of God. Any Catholic who says differently is confused or a liar. If she be a liar, then the confessional awaits. If he thinks himself exempt from the duty to serve God's law first, then he is lying to himself and to God.

Any Catholic public servant who says he or she must not impose his or her beliefs on another misses the point of being a Catholic in government. In a democracy, where the exchange of ideas is a hallmark of a free society, a Catholic merits the same opportunity as any other individual to initiate and contribute to legislation based on the moral law.

The Catholic politician's duty is not to vote for legislation that merely appeases the majority, especially if a majority of the population holds to positions that are racist, antihuman and are inherently illogical. The duty of the Catholic public servant is to promote laws and policies that are true and good, and to vote against laws and policies which are evil, e.g., legislation which destroys unborn life, promotes violence and/or promotes immorality. For example, the slogan "personally opposed to abortion" is a hollow verbal and mental gymnastic which avoids the implications of the Catholic Faith handed on to us by the Apostles and neglects to consider the consequences of promoting unjust laws. Catholics have a duty to shape legislation and policy so that laws conform to the natural law, which is itself a mirror of the divine Law.

No public square is a naked public square. Naked, as in there being a freedom 'from' religion, i.e., the free exercise of religion by religious people. The public square is a vacuum into which any idea, perverse or positive, can be poured. Those who insist on denying the unborn the inalienable right to life appear to experience little internal conflict when attempting to deny fundamental rights to others, e.g., freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. It is, after all, all about power and the misuse thereof in order to suppress any opposition to the promotion of, for example, licentious and a theft of innocence. The internet has exposed exactly how corrupt modern man is. The web is routinely filled with daily news reports of individuals arrested for proffering images of exploited adults and children.

The Church's social doctrine is the only body of thought that is capable of supporting authentic democracy and its increase. The Constitution of the United States, magnificent document that it is, will not be respected nor authentically interpreted unless politicians are oriented to the mindset which produced the documents in the first place. That is, a Judeo-Christian ethos. The Catholic Church's expression of that Judeo-Christian heritage is the clearest and most thorough presentation of that heritage. The Church's teaching produces better citizens than atheistic secular philosophies. One need only take note of the stark contrast between societies which have embraced a militant secularism in the past, e.g., the former Soviet Union and currently North Korea (DPRK), and western societies that value fundamental freedoms but which, forced to embrace the ideologies imposed by militant secularists, are beginning to collapse. Look at Britain and most, if not all, of the Scandinavian countries.
  • Immigration and social(ist) policies are failing, ghettos are emerging and immigrants are engaging in violence to impose a radical islamist ideology on states that have opened their doors to suffering peoples.
  • Those same suffering peoples, i.e., people who suffered in their former Middle-eastern and African homelands, are now inflicting suffering on the western societies which have taken them in.
  • The states which have welcomed muslim immigrants from warring states have provided comprehensive welfare and free medical and educational support.
  • The welcoming states are now rife with immigrant violence: e.g., a huge increase in rape of Swedish women by muslim attackers; violent demonstrations seeking the imposition of shari'a law while flouting the law of the land; destruction of property; exclusion of indigenous populations from muslim dominated communities; and so forth.
The melting pot philosophy is working alright—the pot is melting.

Democracy, a true and lasting democracy that protects the weak and shelters the homeless and educates its citizens because it is not only practical but morally right to do so, depends on people who are themselves virtuous and know how to promote the common good. Virtuous people, guardians of democracy, work to root out corruption when evil infects government and law enforcement.

A Catholic public servant is a Catholic first, and a government employee (or police officer, soldier, teacher, etc.) second. To surrender his or her convictions, convictions which should conform to the teaching of the Catholic Church, which is the teaching of Jesus Christ, is to place his or her soul in grave danger. Furthermore, an errant Catholic public servant bears the added culpability of endangering the soul of anyone who follows his or her example of dissent.

No one can serve two masters. Serve God in all things and give to God what is His in the first place. Our entire lives belong to God and we shall not find rest until we give our lives entirely to Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

When Good Priests Gab... a lot.

Level 6.5 (/10) LAS [Liturgical Abuse Scale]

The Ordinary Form of Holy Mass is frequently prone to the wayward inclinations of clergy at the beginning of the Mass itself. Too many priests think it permissible to extemporize at length before the Sign of the Cross or after the Greeting. Instead of observing (i.e., obeying) the wise directions of the GIRM, they deliver an awkward and frequently confusing and embarrassing introduction to the Mass, as if the Mass actually requires an introduction.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM] 
Greeting of the Altar and of the People Gathered Together

49. When they reach the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow.

As an expression of veneration, moreover, the priest and deacon then kiss the altar itself; as the occasion suggests, the priest also incenses the cross and the altar.

50. When the Entrance chant is concluded, the priest stands at the chair and, together with the whole gathering, makes the Sign of the Cross. Then he signifies the presence of the Lord to the community gathered there by means of the Greeting. By this Greeting and the people’s response, the mystery of the Church gathered together is made manifest.

After the greeting of the people, the priest, the deacon, or a lay minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day.
The GIRM permits a very brief introduction by the priest based on the theme of the Liturgy. Liturgies do have themes that reflect, for example, the character of the liturgical season, a particular focus (mercy/penance, relief from natural disaster, etc.) or a quality of saintliness (martyrdom, virginity/chastity, theological and/or pastoral acumen, holiness, and so forth) and most importantly, since the Mass is Christ acting and making His Sacrifice present among men, a particular theological orientation to the person of Christ and His relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, when license is given, typically bad things happen:
  • A layman is given permission, presumably by the priest, to give a quirky "homilette" that is merely a daffy testimonial and, more often than not, a borderline challenge amounting to "This is what I'd do if I were in charge!" Thank goodness those same lay folk are definitely NOT in charge. (In 2012, I actually heard a layman give such a rant at Mass at a parish on Maui. With the exception of travellers like myself, most people in the congregation looked as though they had no problem with the bizarre presentation that was given. The jokes (yes, plural) he told were not only off topic, they were practically off-colour.)
  • The priest gives a mini homily that destroys the progression of the introductory rites. Such perfunctory speeches are more spoilers than anything useful to actually prepare the congregation for entrance into the great mystery that is the Sacrifice of the Mass. If the Penitential Rite is not dispensed with and actually does occur after such a "homily", it seems appropriate that the priest should confess for having imposed himself on the Mass.
  • And, the worst: Father Bob Hope, or so he thinks himself, launches into playful banter which eliminates any sense of the sacred. Father Feelgood wants everybody to feel normal and welcomed, so he waxes not-so-poetic on his life and times and so obviously draws attention to himself—poor wretch that he is for having suffered so badly during those inquisitional, authoritarian years before the Spirit of Vatican II took over—that the congregation wonders if the Mass is really a Tony Robbins crusade. Can there be anything more uncomfortable (or frustrating or annoying) than sitting through a priest's diatribe against the Church or his using the homily as an excuse to work out his personal demons?
Dear Priests,

In a word—stop gabbing. Less is more. Stop the liturgical nonsense. Please give us the Mass whole and undefiled. Why give us the Mass, the whole Mass and nothing but the Mass? Because—Dignum et iustum est! It is right and just (so to do).

The Mass should be celebrated with the respect (decorum, sense of the sacred, dignity, etc.) and concern for beauty called for by the rubrics and, for starters, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

To all the priests and bishops who manage to avoid being verbose and who actually point others to Christ by celebrating the Liturgy as it is meant to be celebrated—thank you! May God continue to bless you with the good sense to 'decrease' yourself so that Christ may 'increase'.

Yours in Christ,
—The Catholic Sacristan.