Sunday, February 7, 2016

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: PROOF OF AGE

So my formerly known as DRE (Director of Religious Education) now know as my PCL (Parish Catechetical Leader) or Pickle and I went to a diocesan meeting.  At it, a representative from a diocesan office informed us that there were materials to take home to our parishes from the diocese and that it would save the diocese A LOT of money if we would just take them home with us instead of them having to mail them.  

The meeting went longer than we had anticipated so we needed to sneak quietly out.  At the back of the meeting room we loaded up our arms with the materials to be taken back to St. Sebastian.  They were right.  Mailing this stuff would have cost a small fortune.  It was awkward balancing everything on our walk out my car and it was only when we got close to my car that I realized I had made a tactical  error.
The only thing to do was to try to shift everything over to one arm and knee in order to dig into my pocket.
Of course.  Right?  Murphy's Law and all that?  So everything is shifted to the other knee.
So you get the ritual . . .


Two and half hours.  Says something for that neighborhood that nobody took an abandoned, unlocked, running car.  Or it says something about my car . . .

Friday, February 5, 2016

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: THE POWER OF WORDS

Okay, I lied.

This is one more week of Offertory.  Paragraph 77

*sigh*

The good news is that this is absolutely, positively the last post on it in this series.

Offertory concludes after everything in the previous posts has been completed and the following prayers are said.  The first one used to give me the willies.  It is introduced thusly:

“Pray brethren (brothers and sisters) that my sacrifice and yours may be may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.”

To which everyone responds:

“May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good, and the good of all His holy Church.”

Now, imagine that you are a young guy just ordained, the oils are still wet on your hands, you’ve arrived at your first assignment, the pastor pushes you out on the altar and says, “Go at it kid,” and you hear that prayer.  I remember distinctly when that happened to me.

The year was 1998 and I was assigned to St. Ambrose in Brunswick.  A couple of seminarians showed up to help me with my first Sunday Mass.  The first Mass on Sunday was music free and many people attended that Mass because of that.  I tried to make them sing an opening song which as an absolute disaster and apologized and promised I would never do that to them again.

St. Ambrose is one of the largest parishes in the diocese and the size of the building reflects this  so there were a lot of people of all ages at that Mass.  We got to the prayer above and I hear, “at your hands,” and “for our good,” and had a slight panic attack.  

Just because you are ordained doesn’t mean that you “get” being a priest yet.  I also remember walking past windows as a newly ordained and being surprised to see the Roman collar, or walking into a restaurant and wondering why so many people were looking at you.  “Oh right, I’m a priest.”  So when you first start hearing this prayer you want to shout out, “What are you people thinking?  Are you insane?  Why are you trusting me with this?  Last week I was just a guy from Barberton.”



Even today I don’t listen to that prayer too closely.  In the end, I know it is not ME.  It is the priesthood and Christ.  It is my job to be faithful and let God act.

Alright, most of that was NOT in this paragraph.

But one last thing is:  We have the prayer over the gifts: a petition that God accept our gifts and the work we are about to do.  This is where (once again) the vital role of the priesthood of the faithful comes into play.  By your “Amen” at the end of this prayer, you make its petition your own as part of your offering.  It is not an inconsequential word or a simple nicety.  It is an engagement of your ministry.  It is very much a responsibility.  By it, you are participating in the sacred action, making an offering of your life, prayers, and petitions, and promising to engage in the rest of the Mass and in the life of a Christian.


That “Amen” alone should cause you to pause in much the same way the “for our good” does for your priest.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK

Here is what I was able to pray with 350 children this morning:
“Set our hearts aflame, O Lord,
with the Spirit of your charity, we pray,
that we may always think thoughts
worthy and pleasing to your majesty
and love you sincerely in our brothers and sisters.”

IMHO those three seconds alone are what makes Catholic education invaluable to our nation.  That is not to say that public and secular schools cannot instill character (the public school down the street claims to do just that) but it is a lot more difficult if you don’t have a community agreed upon (and legal) moral system that you can teach.

Our public schools are not atheistic (nor are they in some sort of neutral state - that is impossible) but I think about the atheistic mindset and atheistic apostles.  An atheist can state what I said above about living charity and finding dignity and worth in his fellow man but in the end, it will only be a “good” because the speaker says so and that he was the power to enforce it.  (The school board and the Supreme Court says that I can say this!)


WARNING: This is coming out of the mind of a committed Catholic so there is a biased slant here.  But I think about what, if atheists got together every Sunday for an hour (or Friday, or Wednesday) what would they talk about as a replacement for worship of God?  If there is no God, which, by definition means there is no purpose or meaning for us or the universe, if everything is just chance and once we die there is no more life, no reward, no punishment, then every word that comes out of my mouth is completely useless unless it brings me comfort.  (Even helping someone else in the end is because it benefits or pleases me.)  If you are going to challenge this, please give the basis for your universal moral system that is employed other than in a might makes right scenario.  I would greatly appreciate it!
The only grounding for any moral system would only be the will of the majority or the powerful who have the backing to enforce the moral right.  Anyone who would get up in the “pulpit” would have one of two jobs: reminding all their duty to follow the will of the powerful or to convince everybody to change to their idea of the good to what they want.  But in the end, none of it will matter except to please the speaker.  The great consolation will be, in the last second of life as you realize that you are heading off into oblivion for all of eternity, that at least you were right in believing life is meaningless.


Champagne anyone?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

CONSISTANCY

This is a short excerpt from this past Sunday's homily.

Last Thursday night we had a Parish Council meeting and somebody asked the question, “Is our parish seen as a place where a family contemplating seeking an abortion might come to seek council?”

Wow, what a question.  It made me stop and think.

I looked up some surveys online and the general gist is that women who have had abortions say they didn’t approach fellow church goers or their pastors because they feared they would be looked down upon.

Wow again.  That kind of stings.

As a Church we provide help for those experiencing unexpected pregnancies.  Parishes raise funds for and volunteer at pregnancy clinics.  We provide resources and counseling for those who choose life.  As a Church we provide counseling for mothers who had abortions and who are now grieving.  But in the very teeth of this action, can we love as God chooses to love us even with all of our faults and failings?  Whereas we can ever approve, assist, or give permission for this drastic act, can we none-the-less be seen as non-condemnatory and loving to the point that someone so desperate that they are contemplating having an abortion may see each and every one of us as a person to approach for prayer and guidance?


To lead them back to the God who loved them even before they were knit together in their Mother’s womb?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXXXIV

HAPPY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK!

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  Teaching is a gesture of serial non-abandonment."  from Richard Ford's, "Canada"

IN OTHER NEWS:

The Academy of Culture and Arts at St. Sebastian has a new website.  Please give it a look!  Click HERE or go to sebastianarts.org.

Now, if you are wondering why we are putting so much effort into this Academy, you really, really need to see THIS LINK to a video of a TED talk about the Sistine Chapel.  It almost had me in tears.  Thanks Jim for sending it in!  About 17 minutes.  "Ultimately, it is beauty that will save us."  Fr. Benedict Groeschel.  

Speaking of art, a couple of us guys went up to the Conversion of St. Paul Shrine to see the completed first layer of Mother Mary Thomas' painting, "Mary, Mother of the Eucharist."  She now just needs to put the final oil coat on.  Keep going Mother!  




This really should have been posted yesterday (for reasons that become evidently clear within the first 3 seconds of this song) but David didn't send it on time.  For shame, for shame.  Enjoy it just the same!  Approximately 4 minutes.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.

Another danger in being a guy and never being married is that, unless you were a cook in a working life before ordination, your kitchen skills pretty much end at a college level.
I used to argue at the seminary that they should have classes on such things as cooking.  And if you see what horrible things happen when I am in charge of laundry, it might not be a bad idea to a class on that too.
We are extremely, wonderfully, absolutely blessed to have a small army of people who cook for us at St. Sebastian.  I know, I know, I know - believe me my Father used to read me the riot act.  I should grow up and take care of myself.  But if I were left on my own in the wild, every meal would consist of a salami sandwich.
A seminarian came over recently and gave me a dressing down for having some meat in the refrigerator that was ending its life span before he left after Christmas vacation.  I pointed out to him that we were still well within the 5 week rule.  He kindly pointed out that it is actually a 5 day rule.  Who knows this stuff?
Anyway, shouldn't microwaves kill anything bad?  Nothing goes through a microwave and lives.  Right?

Friday, January 29, 2016

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: DID YOU GET UNDER THE FINGERNAILS?

Paragraphs 75 & 76

These posts offertory are starting to feel like 7th grade - it just goes on and on and on . . . 

But I an determined to be quit of offertory TODAY.

There are two last things, the second, in my estimation, being more interesting than the first so we will finish with the bang and start with a yawn.

I

I like incense.  If I didn’t like making the distinction between big celebrations and “ordinary time” celebrations so much (since we no longer have high Mass and low Mass) I’d use it all the time (which may certainly be done.)  On St. Sebastian Day, after an entire Christmas season of using incense, a man at the back of the church said, “I’m glad we are going to be done with THAT for awhile!”  

I understand.  I really do.  But I can’t seem to help myself.  Some day I’ll explore all that in a post.

There is a lot of history and symbolism involved with incense, but the reason everyone present (in addition to incensing the altar and the gifts) is thusly clouded in smoke is because of their exalted status in God’s Kingdom.   “The Priest, because of his sacred ministry, and the people, by reason of their baptismal dignity” all relieve this treatment.  (Notice even those in RCIA who are [supposed to be] non-baptized are excused before this point.  If RCIA is being done “according to the book,” baptized non-Catholics need not leave.)

II




Next involves the Lavabo or the washing of the priest hands.  Oh!  This is one of those topics on which we waisted WAY too much precious time in the seminary as a professor justified his reason for dumping the little ritual claiming that it was a left over from medieval days when people would donate animals and vegetables to the priest at offertory and the priest’s hands would be dirty and he needed to wash them.

Now, it is true that this is a ritual that was considered to be dropped, but recent popes including Francis have defended this action while noting that it is both ancient (the formula goes back to apostolic times according to Tertullian which greatly predates the medieval period though it was not practiced universally) and that the symbolic value is just far too great.  Read more HERE from the Vatican website.

At this point in the Mass we are about to head into the holiest action of our lives on earth - the source and summit.  As the water is poured over the fingers that will be touching the host, the priest says, “Lord, wash away my iniquities and cleanse me of my sins.”  

A couple of things to note: that it resembles Pilot’s action, it has no connection whatsoever.  That it is a part of the Seder meal or even that it comes from Psalm 26, “I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds,” is not officially claimed.  In the end its greatest strength is in the priest’s ardent desire to be purified before acting on behalf of the Body of Christ.

At some point we must remember that we (priests) are called to obedience.  That does not mean that we can’t argue and petition against something, but this is not a democracy, this is not “our” Mass, and we are not free agents.  It is good to remember the passage (Mathew 25:21), “His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’”

If your priest skips this part however, please don’t worry.  The Mass is NOT invalid - illicit perhaps - but not invalid and that is a HUGE difference.  

But it would just be sad to not be able to use this joke anymore:

A server showed up late to serve Mass and the celebrating priest was upset with him because this was not the first time.  The priest pointed to the door and said, “Leave!  If you can’t be on time I’ll just do this myself!”


The server looked up at him and said, “But who will wash away your iniquities and cleanse you of your sins?”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

WHEN DEATH IS BORING

Don’t worry - there will not be any spoilers beyond the obvious in this post.

So recently I viewed another extremely popular movie and was left a bit empty at the end.  I enjoyed the movie even with some of its more than obvious flaws, and people are praising it for its handling of mercy and vengeance . . . but I think . . . eh.

Here is why:  My cousin once said to me, “The worst thing you can wish on anybody is that they learn.”  That is, what a terrible thing it is to discover that your actions that you formally thought of as justifiable or even good are suddenly revealed to you to be abhorrent.  It is like waking up the next day after tying one on and realizing that you had been an absolute jerk to everyone and thoroughly embarrassed yourself.  Now you have to live with it and clean the whole mess up.

Hollywood, for the most part, does not operate that way.  What is the ultimate payback?  Death to the bad character.  The evil one goes around creating havoc and destruction and then, at the end, usually at the hand of the good guy, the evil guy is destroyed in some gloriously colorful fashion, (usually to rise again after not being thoroughly killed, only to be killed again - not unlike Saint Sebastian.)  




The mentality in this thinking is rather medieval.  There was the practice of not permitting someone who has committed a rather heinous crime the sacrament of confession.  The thought was that, not only will they be punished in this life, they will be punished for ever in the next because they were never able to confess and receive absolution.  It was thought to be the ultimate of ultimate punishments though, as you and I know, the theology has more holes in it than a window screen.
In Hollywoodland, there are two rare exceptions to this mentality.  One is a superhero villain that must live because he needs to come back for a sequel.  The other is the even rarer case of someone coming to grips with either how evil they are and find they have to change, or have to face the consequences of their actions such as in the movie The Shawshank Redemption when the antagonist that *ahem* took advantage of the main character was beaten to a pulp because of what he did and would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair sipping his steak through a straw and knowing it was because of his own inappropriate (to say the least) actions.

So the bad guy gets blown up - lassered - shot - crushed - vivisectioned - WHATEVER - so what?  It’s just over.  There is no horror of realizing the depravity of their actions, there is no guilt, there is no consequences to be lived out, nor is there any chance of redemption (which is part of the reason we are generally opposed to the death penalty.)


I would like to propose that, except in certain cases, this “easy ending” to a movie is neither beautiful nor satisfying.  It is unimaginative and unedifying and the story teller does not give the viewer anything to use, process, or contemplate.  It points to nothing and in the end is selfish.  “We don’t have to share the world with that creep anymore.”  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BE BEAUTIFUL OR DON'T BOTHER

Late last year there was an episode of This American Life about Christmas that I found so touching that I used it extensively in my Midnight Mass (at midnight) homily.  You will not find it on our website where you may find the rest of our homilies.  The recording device was not set up properly that night.  There is a rough written out version of it just after Christmas here on Adam’s Ale if you are interested.

There is a part of that show that I didn’t have a room or time to share and it was one of the most important pieces.  I have been holding on to a scrap of paper on which I transcribed this wonderful insight looking for a use for it.  But it really only works as part of the whole.  So here is what I am going to do:  First I will quickly give it context and then give you the quote that explains what I think is the only way the Church in the United States will start reaching others again and is the theory behind the way I try to lead this parish.




First the context:  The Columbian government hired an advertising firm to try to get gorillas in that country to lay down their arms and bring peace to the country.  Over the years, the firm realized that they were most successful at Christmas time.  So they focused on Christmas over the next few years with different and extremely successful campaigns.  One year they made thousands and thousands of softball sized globes that glowed purple and contained little gifts or word of encouragement and let them go in the jungle river at night where they would float by the gorillas who found them and having been move by them found led of the soldiers to demilitarize and go home.

Now the quote:

“Everything you do needs to be beautiful.  The only element we cannot lack is beauty.  Make sure you like what you are seeing.  You cannot do ugly stuff.  When you see all these lights floating down the river - floating down toward you - you cannot escape the thought that this is a beautiful thing.  

“Regardless of what it is - how beautiful is it?  Because if it had been a thing that was not beautiful, I probably wouldn’t have looked at it.  I probably would say, ‘This is trash floating down the river.’  But if it is a beautiful thing that’s coming down - it’s coming down in numbers - then I’m drawn to it - I’m interested.”    

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

GUEST BLOGGER - THE GREAT HIGHWAY BLIZZARD SNOW MASS OF 2016


Sue read with interest one of the articles in today's post and kindly allowed me to reprint some further information she had on the great Highway Blizzard Snow Mass of 2016.  Thank you so much!  How amazing!

Thanks for sharing the photo of the blizzard Mass. My husband was on a bus with the Students for Life and Newman students from UA (his bus was cancelled, but the students knew my husband from St. Bernard and the K of C so they graciously welcomed him to their bus - he and the driver were the only geezers on board!)


They left (for) Washington at 2:30 PM on Friday, stopped in Breezewood PA for a quick meal and gasoline around 6:30, and promptly got stranded between Bedford and Somerset PA around 9 PM Friday night, along with miles of other buses, cars, and trucks. Saturday morning, they got word that there were five priests in surrounding buses who were going to concelebrate Mass at noon. Students from the vicinity got together and built the altar of snow. Fred and the UA students were fortunate to be near the front. He says there were hundreds of people in attendance! It was beautifully and reverently prayed, and Jesus was definitely there in the blizzard with them!



Meanwhile, all of us at home (Secular Franciscans, St. B prayer chain, St. B Divine Mercy Cenacle, parents, friends, and our good parish priests) were praying our brains out. They only had a few granola bars and bottles of water between them, but they remained in very good spirits and made themselves useful by helping to dig out cars. They were a real joy!



For whatever reason, the PA troopers told their driver to get on the narrow emergency lane they had plowed for police vehicles and EMS and exit to US 30 around 9 PM on Saturday night. After passing many vehicles that were ahead of them, they exited and made their way beyond the blizzard. They finally got home at 2 AM on Sunday morning, and were very happy to see St. Bernard and UA at the end of their long journey!



God is very good! 

If you want more news on the even and to see a short video go HERE.

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXXXIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Most things don't stay the way they are very long.  Knowing this, however, does not make me cynical.  Cynical means believing that good isn't possible; and I know for a fact that good is.  I simply take nothing for granted and try to be ready for the change that's soon to come."  from Richard Ford's "Canada"

QUOTE II:  "I'm intrigued by how ordinary behavior exists so close beside its opposite . . . Some people want to be bank presidents.  Others want to rob banks."  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:

What do you think of the white background?  I have no idea how that happened.  Such is the case with most of the changes on this blog.  All of a sudden the header is smaller and I don't know why.  It really is time for a makeover but I barely have time to make a post most days.

A couple of people sent a news item in about busses on the way to the Right to Life March in Washington D.C. sidelined on the highway because of the weather and the students creating an altar out of snow and having their priests say Mass for them.  (Let me guess, you didn't read about this or ANY news about the Right to Life March in your local newspaper even though hundreds of people from this area go.)  Read more HERE.

I walked into the office of St. Sebastian's Academy of Culture and Arts and saw a small army of mountain dulcimers.  "How funny," I said, "Someone just sent me a video of someone playing a dulcimer."  Turns out that the two are connected.  The instruments were donated by the person who sent me the video to give me an idea of what they are.  Now you can know too!


If you want a digital copy of our diocese's new magazine go HERE.

Ed sent this video about our society's crisis concerning masculinity.  For example:  "By the time a boy turns 6 years old he will have spent more time watching television than with his dad for his whole life."  Ten and a half minutes.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: PUT A STRING THOUGH THE SLEEVES OF YOUR COAT AND TIE YOUR MITTENS TOGETHER SO YOU NEVER LOSE THEM



So,

Regular readers of Adam's Ale will recall that recently St. Sebastian laid to rest its third pastor, the well beloved Fr. McDonough.  It is a tribute to him that, even though he had been retired for about two decades, we still expected an onslaught of people for his funeral and a council full of clerics.  

I have to laugh when (obviously non-Catholics with little contact with or knowledge of the Church) claim that "those Catholics" are all a bunch of mindless rule followers in lock step with the Pope.  (Let me pause for a moment to wipe the tears from my eyes from laughing too hard.  There, that's better.)  It may be that no-one will ever be able to destroy the Catholic Church, but if you want proof that it is solely the Holy Spirit holding this whole mess together, try doing anything with priests that requires them to cooperate in a single goal with a single purpose requiring even little effort.  It just aint gonna happen.  (I can say this because A) I am a priest and B) I am very guilty of this.)

So when it came to preparing for the priests to show up for the funeral, I knew it was going to be like herding cats (see video above) to get them all to vest in the right place.  Our parking is horrible, our campus confusing, I am too much of a control freak, and it was freezing outside for the first time all winter.

So I tried some preemptive strategies:  
Now, to be fair, for those priests that showed up early, found parking, weren't rushed, and weren't afraid of dogs, this was no problem.  But for the guys that showed up just in a nick of time, who had to park three city blocks away, were cold, irritated, and just wanted to change and get into a pew, they were not interested in the finer points of finding the exact proper place to vest.
As you walked around the buildings, running into vesting priests was like running into Munchkins in Munchkinland, or pigeons in the attic of an abandoned warehouse, or or or former movie stars in an upscale rehab facility.  Hallways, bathrooms, storage closets, baptistry, you name it, there was probably a priest or two vesting in it.

And really, I didn't mind.  No really.  Even though I like things in their place (that was one of my Mother's mottos: A place for everything and everything in its place) I understood the spirit of the day and the difficulty for the guys who lost a close friend and who just didn't want to fuss.

THAT BEING SAID:  It was AMAZING how much clothing was left behind.  A walk around the buildings turned up coats, jackets, hats, and single gloves.  Remember I said it was the first day of earnest winter?  I have no idea how they got home without contracting hypothermia.  THIS IS WHY WE SHOULD ALWAYS LEAVE A CALLING CARD IN OUR COATS!  I have no idea to whom they belong and since we all wear black, it's not like you can show it around and someone would say, "Hey, that looks like Pete's"  

Friday, January 22, 2016

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: YOU PUT YOUR RIGHT FOOT IN, YOU PUT YOUR RIGHT FOOT OUT . . .

So . . .

How much of a rubricist (sp?) are you?  Paragraph 75 says that, after all that was done in the last paragraph, “the bread and wine are then placed on the altar to the accompaniment of the prescribed formulas,” that is, the prayers in the book that you might sometimes hear: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation . . .”

So imagine you are a typical American parish and you have a few hundred people in attendance meaning that you probably have a bevy of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.  For them (and we can get into the discussion as to whether we rely to heavily on too many EMHC as some would put forth,) you will need multiple ciboria and chalices.  Now, you could have a very large cereal bowl for the main ciborium and then at the Agnus Dei spend an exorbitant amount of time dividing hosts between six to twelve ciboria.  Not so with the cups not so!  For the practice of consecrating a flagon of wine and then dividing it up between the many cups is now forbidden.  So at a minimum, you will have a very  large cereal bowl and many chalices.
SOOOOO, when the rubric says, “the priest places the bread and wine on the altar”, does he have to place ALL of them on the altar?  Or does this just refer to the gifts brought forward in the procession?  Does this assume that all the bread and wine is brought forward in procession (I’m not keen on 6 cups full of wine being carried up) or one flagon that is then spilled into all of the cups at a painfully long offertory, or can we bring forward just a symbolic bread and wine?  What if the deacon receives the ciborium and places it on the altar while handing the priest a patten with a “priest host” on it (which has not yet been set on the altar.)  Does it matter that the wine is poured into the chalice by the deacon while it is sitting on the altar only to be given to the priest to be placed on the altar?  (A former liturgist of the diocese was very much against this practice.)

These are the things that my priest friends and I love to debate while having a glass of - er - blueberry cool aid.

Here are some possible answers:




  1. You MUST allow the priest to place all of the gifts.
  2. You MUST allow the priest to place the symbolic gifts.
  3. The point is that some of the gifts are offered symbolically so that they are all, in fact. offered.
  4. God doesn’t care.
  5. You are entirely missing the point.

You might be inclined to ask yourself, “Why is this important?”  I will give you a moment to ask yourself that question.

(pause)

I’m glad you asked.  When something is place on the altar, the altar representing Christ, it is assumed that it becomes part of the sacred action.  It is to be made clear not only to the priest and his fellow ministers, but to the congregation as well (otherwise, why bother turning around the altar?)  Remember, anything not prescribed directly by Christ probably came about because at one point there was some problem, abuse, or scandal that is trying to be corrected.

“What might these be?” you might ask yourself.  I will give you a moment to ask yourself that question.

(pause)

I’m s glad you asked.  Here are just some examples (that did not happen at my current parish) that I have witnessed over the years:

  1. A priest is celebrating a Mass at which there are approximately 500 people in attendance.  He is not paying attention to the fact that the servers did not bring over three of the six ciborium that he needed.  He assumed there must be A LOT in the tabernacle.  There was not.  At Communion time, when he realized that he wont have enough hosts for everyone without breaking every host at least in half, can he decide that he intended to consecrate enough hosts and so include the ones that were sitting on the credence table that he did not even know existed as consecrated hosts?  Will the people really receive the Body and Blood of Christ?  (He decided to do this.)
  2. A priest leaves the water and wine cruets on the altar during the consecration.  The new sacristan, left alone at the end of Mass, is concerned that the wine left in the cruet may have inadvertently been consecrated and is upset over what she should do.
  3. A sacristan is seen putting unconsecrated hosts in the tabernacle.  Asking why he is doing such a thing he says that it makes things easier in the long run and (considering the logic of #1 above) they become consecrated anyway.  Right?


So, my beloved brothers and sisters, rubrics are A LOT like manners.  They may seem arbitrary at times but they are there for a reason.  They are there to serve.  They are there to make things run as smoothly as possible.  They are there to put people at ease.  They are there to try to avoid misunderstandings.  Love your rubrics!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

DOES THE EXISTENCE OF SUPERMAN PROVE THAT THERE IS A GOD?

So the story is that Superman comes from another planet.  Now I realize that his parents sent him as a baby when their own planet was being destroyed.  But think about it - would his parents send him to a planet where life was taken too lightly - where, if a baby were found in a field and the poor family was concerned about having another mouth to feed they might readily throw the child in the trash - or maybe eat it?

I would guess not.  I would guess they would choose planet that thinks along their same lines - whose ideas of right and wrong would be fairly similar to their own.  The Rockafellers don’t send send their kids to live with Crypts.  



Just as amazing as it is that everyone in the universe (according to Hollywood) speaks English at least as a second language, mostly the idea of right and wrong remain fairly standard (at least for the good guys.)  Assuming that we accept the legend of super heroes, especially those the likes of Superman, or of the morality of the universe (which is why you can have something like a Star Fleet or Jedi), that would mean that we accept that there are universal notions of right and wrong.

If there are universal notions of right and wrong, that means there is sense in the very fabric of the cosmos - that it is not a meaningless accident.  You can study the universe and understand a little better how we are to live and what we should and should not do.

Of course, that means admitting that there is some sort of intelligence in the universe.  People of faith, in sometimes different ways, call that intelligence God.


And, of course, that assumes Superman is real.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

HAPPY SAINT SEBASTIAN DAY!

This may seem odd at first but give it a chance.  It is only 4 and half minutes.



Test your archery skills HERE.  WARNING: Addiction level LOW

FUN FACTS ABOUT ST. SEBASTIAN

St. Sebastian is one of the very few martyrs not pictured in they way he was martyred.  (He survived being shot with arrows, recovered, and then was clubbed to death by Emperor Diocletian.)

The earliest depictions of St. Sebastian was that of an older man with gray hair and beard.  It was only later that he grew progressively younger in art.  

The United States Navy had a patrol ship named the U.S.S. Saint Sebastian in the early part of the 20th century.
(This is a detail from a painting by Eric Armusik that hangs at St. Sebastian Parish, Akron)

In addition to being patron saint of athletes, soldiers, and archers, he has also been known as patron saint of pin makers, (have you ever known a pin maker?), book binders (only heard that once so . . . )   But several sources name him patron saint of those who are dying, police officers, and is one to invoke against plague and enemies of religion.