TEMPUS PER ANNUM | Year A | Gospel of St. Matthew | Cycle II

Transform Culture

“The first Christians required courage to overcome and transform a vast, pagan world whose ideas about marriage and sexual morality were not unlike those which prevail in our own culture. Today we need this same, supernatural courage to live and give witness to all the Church believes and teaches about marriage, the family and human sexuality.”—Bishop Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, England.


Welcome! The digital sacristy has many cabinets. e-Media can be found at the bottom of the blog.

Holy Obedience

“We become Catholics not actually knowing a great deal about the Faith and keep finding ourselves suddenly realizing, ‘Oh, that’s it. That’s why the Church teaches this.’ Acceptance comes first, then practice, then understanding.”—David Mills.

“Priests need to stop people-pleasing. They need to speak the truth in love. If people pack-up and go away, well, so be it. When their lives get broken, they’ll be back. And they’ll be back at a place that truly is a hospital, where people can find true comfort and healing. (...) If God can heal me, God can heal anybody.”Robin Teresa Beck, 59, former Lesbian, convert to Catholicism.

Debate at University of Victoria exposes anti-free speech fascism of pro-abortion students

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The internet is abuzz: Bishop Conley to celebrate Mass Ad Orientem for Advent & Christmas

Bishop Conley/Diocese of Lincoln

Many blogs are reporting Bishop Conley's plan to celebrate Mass ad orientem.
During the Sundays of Advent, the priests in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ will celebrate the Mass ad orientem. With the People of God, the priest will stand facing the altar, and facing the crucifix. When I celebrate midnight Mass on Christmas, I will celebrate ad orientem as well. This may take place in other parishes across the Diocese of Lincoln as well. 
In the ad orientem posture at Mass, the priest will not be facing away from the people. He will be with them—among them, and leading them—facing Christ, and waiting for his return.—Bishop Conley.

Four out of five swings of the thurible for His Excellency!

Bishop Conley is Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Click HERE for the Bishop's announcement.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Ambo, throne of the Word, and "catwalk priests".

Ambon of King Henry II, Aachen Cathedral/Wikipedia

We've all seen it happen. I.e., priests strutting around during the homily.

The ambo or pulpit has become another casualty in the war on the Liturgy perpetrated by often well intentioned but thoroughly ignorant men whose seminary formation has produced priests who have little or no appreciation of the proper orientation of the Liturgy and appropriate behaviour in the sanctuary:
Confused Choreography

Though one may argue that a priest's movement toward or around the people during a homily can better engage the attention of the congregation, an obvious liability is that a cult of personality is reinforced. Bishops should not be surprised when parishioners become partisan and canonize their popular priests, ignoring the heresy-ridden content of their homilies while lapping up the delivery. Parishioners who are so enamoured of their priests that they will follow them into schism is a sad commentary on the state of catechesis. One might argue that had such a congregation received better catechesis and pastoral oversight by the local ordinary to help inoculate them against the errant teachings and bizarre practices of some dopy pastor, things might not have ended up as badly as it has in some locales.

Homility, er... humility.

It is far too easy—and there have now been decades of precedents—for priests to become self enamoured to the point they think themselves above any kind of criticism. When legitimate criticism points out loose play with the Liturgy, or a politicization of the Liturgy, or lax attention to authentic catechesis, such criticism is typically dismissed out of hand.

Ambon (ambo)/Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna/Wikipedia

Bishops who similarly wander about during the homily should not be surprised that their own example has permitted circumstances to develop where defiant priests, emboldened to make changes in the Liturgy or stretch the boundaries of liturgical propriety, endanger souls and parishes become divided against the local ordinary.

When a bishop does not preach from the pulpit or ambo, the throne of Holy Scripture, and moves about the sanctuary and occasionally into the nave of the church, his example will almost certainly be appealed to and copied by priests, especially when a bishop's apparent deviation reinforces in some priests' minds a license to engage in additional rubrically-challenged activities.

That such incidents involving loose play with the Liturgy occur all too frequently is a sure sign that Catholics, clergy in particular, have lost a sense of their connection to the altar of the Word, i.e., the ambo.
  • Ambos are believed to have taken their origin from the raised platform from which the Jewish rabbis read the Scriptures to the people.
  • (Ambos) were first introduced into churches during the fourth century (and) were in universal use by the ninth, reaching their full development and artistic beauty in the twelfth, and then gradually fell out of use until in the fourteenth century when they were largely superseded by pulpits
  • In the Ambrosian Rite (Milan), the Gospel is still read from the ambo. 
  • The most celebrated ambo was the one erected by the Emperor Justinian in the church of Sancta Sophia at Constantinople, which is fully described by the contemporary poet, Paulus Silentiarius in his work Peri Ktismaton. The body of the ambo was made of various precious metals, inlaid with ivory, overlaid with plates of repoussé silver, and further enriched with gildings and bronze. ... In St. Mark's, at Venice, there is a very peculiar ambo, of two stories; from the lower one was read the Epistle, and from the upper one the Gospel. This form was copied at a later date in what are known as "double-decker" pulpits.—Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent. Edited by CS.
Pedestrian preachers?

Priests who leave the pulpit and go for a stroll during the homily usually do so for no better reason than some imagined benefit of an improved connection with the congregation. If the word of God preached cannot engage and connect people to Jesus Christ, then getting in people's faces will only have the effect of refocussing attention on the messenger, not the message.

Those priests who work the crowd like a talk show host are frequently not as good at preaching as they might think they are. The priests, themselves, are prone to distraction. A priest's train of thought is typically derailed in these kinds of encounters and often these meandering homilists demand that congregants participate in educational theatrics that have the unintended effect of generating general mayhem. Children, sensing a rising tide of informality, add their own input to a cacophony of voices.
The bema in the Chaldean Liturgy.
  • The bema is a platform somewhat higher than the rest of the nave. In the middle of the bema a table is set, symbolizing Gaghultha (Golgotha), on which the living cross and gospel are placed. At its right side (North) there is the lectern for the New Testament readings and at its left side (South) the lectern for the Old Testament (and Acts), namely, the first two readings.
  • The Word of God and the liturgical prayer are on the bema, while the Eucharistic Liturgy is celebrated in the heavenly Holy of Holies.
  •  The sanctuary symbolizes heaven and the sacrifice offered on the altar is the symbol of that which exists in heaven. The veil separating the sanctuary from the nave symbolizes the firmament; the nave of the church is the earth and the bema is Jerusalem from where Christ teaches us through the readings of the scriptures.
A word from our sponsor: In the beginning was the Word... .

Most priests could and should better prepare their homilies. A sure sign a homily has not been prepared, apart from the obvious lack of coherence and stumbling and fumbling for words, is repetition of content beyond what is necessary to emphasize the importance of an aspect of revelation. There is acceptable, elegant repetition of ideas woven together, revisited and developed in the manner of a sonata or symphony, and then there is burdensome repetition that could easily be of the mind numbing kind one hears in some drippy pop song. There is no sin in writing down and presenting a coherent, well organized, substance-oriented homily.

The homily is too important to the salvation and edification of the people to be thrown together or subject to the whim of an attention hungry pastor. Priests who "perform" their homilies should quit the theatrics and concentrate on content. It is enough to vary one's tone of voice and pacing to engage, thereby preserving the focus on the word (of God).

Curiously, pastors suddenly become anchored to the pulpit when they must ask for contributions to a particular fundraising event or annual appeal. However, their discomfort with having to beg for funds is poorly hidden behind the ambo they otherwise habitually ignore.

+ + +

Thesaurus of Terms

Ambo or Ambon (plural: ambones)
Bema (Chaldean)
Tebáh (synagogue)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Publication of Manual of Latin Liturgical Hymns in Arabic

LPJ/Nov. 12, 2015

From the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem website:
JERUSALEM – The Liturgical Commission of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem published this summer a new edition of a Manual of Latin Rite Liturgical Hymns in Arabic. The book is now in use among many Arab-speaking parishes in Palestine, in Israel, in Jordan and in the USA.

(T)he book is composed of 700 pages, classifying the 565 hymns corresponding to the different stages in the life of the Church, according to the different times of the liturgical year. In the beginning it contains the Ordinary of the Latin Rite Mass in Arabic, as well as a selection of prayers and popular devotions.

Hymns are either composed at a local level, or translated from foreign languages, or else inspired from impressive Lebanese Maronite traditions.

In his introduction, His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal wrote:
“... A chanted prayer drives the Dogma and the Word of God deeper in the hearts of the faithful, and encourages them to lead a Christian life. That is why we hope that this book will help to strengthen Faith. We sing what we believe in; we believe in what we pray."
“It is not enough that the melody be impressive or the words be eloquent, but it matters that the music corresponds to the word, that the word corresponds to the religious reality, in order to reflect the beauty of God and the coherence of the Revelation.”
The Commission will soon publish the same Manual in smaller format (without melodies). A booklet that will hold more prayers and devotions, but will be sold at an affordable price.

Friday, November 14, 2014

This week in Counter Culture Commentary: Once Distant Shores?

The tempest of divorce and remarriage which once threatened only distant shores is beating against the walls of the Vatican City State with a fury that relatively few appreciate as the threat to souls it really is.

Reading from a Different Bible. Anglicans pouring salt in traditionalist Anglican wounds... again.

And people wonder why Catholics get upset when certain black sheep try to introduce innovations into faith and practice. The recent Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome, despite its many deficiencies and media attempts to misappropriate the message, did much to expose the agenda of a few misguided prelates who tend to confuse their own wayward theological inclinations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in particular Jesus' teaching on divorce and remarriage. Those same episcopal miscreants would have us become more like our Anglican neighbours by embracing communion for the divorced and remarried. Perhaps they could do us all a favour and skip the attempts to makeover Catholicism in their own image and simply paddle a dingy across the Thames to Canterbury while leaving the rest of us to speak the truth in love to our errant brothers and sisters.

David Virtue, who considers himself "The Voice for Global Anglicanism", reports (edited for length):
UK: Divorced Forward in Faith Bishop Given Permission to Remarry
The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby have given the divorced chairman of Forward in Faith (UK), the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, permission to remarry.
Bishop Baker wrote to his clergy informing them that he has been given permission following his divorce from his wife and that he intends to marry in the spring of next year. "The marriage will be a private civil ceremony, and this will be followed by a Mass (That's high-church Anglican talk for 'looks Catholic but is not really Catholic'.) celebrated by the Bishop of London, with prayers of dedication and thanksgiving" at the Guild Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West.

(A)s the "flying bishop" for traditionalist clergy in the Diocese of London, his proposed second marriage has raised concerns from traditionalist clergy, who tell "Anglican Ink" that it they are at a loss to understand how a bishop dedicated to provide pastoral support for traditionalists can adopt a stance at odds with the position of most traditionalists -- and at odds with the public position taken by Forward in Faith on divorce and remarriage.

The national secretary of Forward in Faith at that time, the Rev. Geoffrey Kirk said its members believe that Scripture is clear in stating that divorce and remarriage are not permissible for Christians. He told the Sunday Telegraph, "The doctrine of matrimony is closely associated with ecclesiology and so it would seem utterly unacceptable that divorce and remarriage be part of the regimen of those who are called to represent and effect the unity of the Church.

Fr. Kirk, who has since joined the Anglican Ordinariate (!), stated, "Either Jesus said what he did about divorce and marriage or he didn't. If you allow yourself not to take notice of this can you then allow yourself to take notice of anything else he taught?"
O Henry, once rightly called Defender of the Faith but who didst abandon thy wife Catherine, what hast thou unleashed upon thy Anglican children?