Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Cross is the only way to heaven (Sunday homily)

In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah complains to God 
about the cost of his faithfulness. 
“All day I am an object of laughter, people mock me,” he says bitterly.

Not many people really want to be laughed at. 
And no one wants what Jeremiah was describing.

I think of our friends who are Amish, or Mennonites, or 
– as in the case of the folks you’ll see near here, German Baptist. 
They all tend to embrace a simple lifestyle, 
with distinctive clothes and hairstyle.

There must be many times, these hardworking, 
peaceful folks get stares—and laughs.
I can only imagine what it might be like as a young person, 
growing up in that movement, 
yet very aware of a world of technology and modernity all around them.

But why do they do it?

Well, they are taking seriously 
the words of our Lord in the Gospel
about whether we try to hold onto the world, 
or whether we are willing to die to it.

I am not saying anything against technology – 
that is not a Catholic mindset.
But we can surely take a lesson from these good people
About how we approach material and worldly things.

They remind us of a powerful truth:
The things we own, own us; the things we possess, possess us.

You think email and the Internet are useful tools? They are.
Yet how often do they command you—
rather than you commanding them?

It’s like the dog owner, 
who dutifully takes the pet out for walks, no matter the weather.
And I won’t even speak of 
what the owners are willing to pick up…afterward.

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it, who is the master?

And it’s just the same with all our stuff and gadgets and technology.

So here’s one application; here’s a challenge for you.
What are you, as a Catholic, 
prepared to do to free yourself from these things?

Again, I’m not saying live without them.
But shouldn’t we have a measure of freedom regarding these things?

The reason we fast from food periodically 
is so we aren’t slaves to our stomachs.
So can we fast from the Internet? TV? Email?

Food for thought.

The other point worth considering here 
is whether we are prepared to face laughter and mockery, 
for no other reason than that we follow our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter was offended to consider
the Lord being mocked and tortured and killed.

Yet the Lord stops him short. “You’re not thinking as God does.”
God was absolutely willing 
to undergo the humiliation and horror of the cross 
for the salvation of the world.

And here’s what he said to Peter:
I’m walking a rough, ugly path to glory.
If you want to walk with me, that’s the road.

And he says the exact same thing to you and me.
You think you can get to heaven any other way but the cross?
Did you hear what Jesus just said? Just now?
There. Is. No. Other. Way.
You want to be with Jesus?
Go where he goes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Is your parish liturgy Vatican II-compliant? Let’s find out!

For each question, rate your parish from zero to three: 
3 = excels; 2 = good; 1 = fair; 0 = poor (or don’t know).

1.      Does your parish liturgy make prominent the priesthood of Jesus Christ?1
2.      Does the celebration of Mass in the parish clearly reflect the hierarchal structure of the Church?2
3.      Is it clear that Mass seeks the sanctification of God’s People?3
4.      Is it manifest that Mass perpetuates the sacrifice of the Cross?4
5.      Is the priority of Mass in your parish “worship of the Divine Majesty” with all else subordinate?5
6.      Is the ministry of preaching “fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity”?6
7.      Is communion under both kinds provided at least on special occasions?7
8.      Is Lent a time that focuses both on recalling/preparing for baptism, as well as on penance?8 E.g., is use of holy water fostered, or suppressed?
9.      Are the faithful, during Lent, encouraged to detest sin, with an emphasis on penitential practices and prayer for sinners?9

Authentic Participation

10.  Is “active participation” understood as both internal and external, with interiority, expressed as “deep wonder,” the foundation?10
11.  Do the faithful participating in Holy Mass have a real sense that they are “offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him” – and in so doing, are they learning “to offer themselves”?11
12.  Does the faithful’s experience of Holy Mass reflect use of “signs perceptible to the senses” – such as bells and incense?12
13.  Does your parish make explicit connection between frequent reception of confession, as well as penance in general, and a worthy and fruitful participation in the Holy Mass?13
14.  Do both clergy and laity recognize the legitimate roles that pertain to each – with neither intruding on the roles of the other?14
15.  Do servers, lectors and choir members discharge their office with sincere piety and decorum? Do they recognize their ministry is “exalted”? Have they been trained to perform their functions in an “orderly manner”?15


16.  Is everything in the sacred liturgy carried out in accordance with norms set by the Holy See and the bishop – as opposed to what may arise from a particular priest’s preferences, or those of parishioners, either individually or by group?16
17.  Do all – including the priest – refrain from ever adding, removing, or changing anything in the liturgy on his or her own authority?17
18.  If there have been liturgical “adaptations” in your parish, have they been approved by either the Holy See, the bishop or conference of bishops?18
19.  Does the parish celebration of the liturgy reflect visible unity with the bishop?19
20.  Is the homily always given by an ordained minister and never a layperson?20
21.  Is Holy Mass never celebrated outside the church or chapel without the bishop’s permission?21
22.       Is the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion truly out of necessity, rather than convenience; is it “provisional” rather than ordinary?22

Latin and Tradition

23.  Has the use of Latin in parish liturgies been preserved?23
24.  Are the faithful “able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them”?24 E.g., the Gloria, Credo, Pater Noster, Angus Dei?
25.  Is the “beauty and noble simplicity” of the liturgy guided by the General Instruction “and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice”?25

Posture, Gestures, Silence

26.  Are the faithful encouraged to observe common postures and gestures?26
27.  Are all aware that the Missal presupposes ad orientem posture by the priest: i.e., the priest & people face the Lord together, rather than the priest offering Mass facing the people?27
28.  Is “sacred silence” given its proper place in the sacred liturgy, particularly “in the Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray,” after readings, homily, and communion? Is silence observed beforehand “in the church…vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner”?28
29.  Is the sign of peace given “in a sober manner…only to those who are nearest”?29
30.  Are announcements after communion “brief” and truly “necessary”?30
31.  Do people genuflect to the tabernacle when passing in front of it?31
32.  Do all bow their heads when the Holy Trinity “are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated”?32

Sacred Music

33.  Does the sacred music draw on the whole “treasure” of Christian tradition – or only on a small segment thereof? Is sacred music treated as the preeminent art of the Church?33
34.  Is the emphasis of the music on “the glory of God and the sanctification of the soul”? 34
35.  Do all realize that the Holy Mass achieves a “more noble form” when celebrated in song?35
36.  Is emphasis placed on the priest and deacon singing their parts?36
37.  Is Latin included in the sacred music?37
38.  Is Gregorian chant given “pride of place”?38
39.  Is polyphony included?39
40.  Is the “pipe organ held in high esteem” as “the traditional musical instrument” for liturgy?40
41.  Are Scripture-based chants – as opposed to hymns – given priority for the entrance, offertory and communion processions?41

Art & Architecture

42.  Does your parish liturgical practice and environment reflect “sound tradition” – as opposed to setting aside all that is traditional in the liturgy, for example in selection of art, furnishings, vestments and vessels?42
43.  Are relics and images of the saints “held in veneration”?43
44.  Has the parish sought to preserve sacred art already in its possession – and not “disposed of and dispersed [them], removing only those that are “repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense”?44

How did your parish score?
Score “Y” as 1, “P” as ½ and “N” as zero:
(Sorry about that confusing part; relic of earlier version!)

For each question, rate your parish from zero to three: 

3 = excels; 2 = good; 1 = fair; 0 = poor (or don’t know).

119-132   =      A
105-118   =      B
  93-104   =      C
  80-92     =     D
   0-79      =      F

Created by:

Father Martin Fox
Saint Remy Parish
Russia, Ohio

3 SC 7
4 Ibid. 47.
5 Ibid. 33.
6 Ibid. 35.2.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid. 109.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid. 19, Redemptionis Sacramentum 40, 41.
11 SC 48.
12 Ibid. 7.
13 Ibid. 9.
14 Ibid. 28.
15 Ibid. 29, 30.
16 Ibid. 22.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid. 40.
19 Ibid. 42.
20 RS 64.
21 RS 108.
22 RS 152, 158.
23 SC 36.1.
24 Ibid. 54.
25 GIRM 42.
26 Ibid. 42, 44.
27 Roman Missal 1, 29, 127, 132, 139, 141, 144.
28 GIRM 45.
29 Ibid. 82.
30 Ibid. 90.
31 Ibid. 274.
32 Ibid. 275.
33 SC 112.
34 Ibid.
35 Ibid. 113.
36 GIRM 40.
37 SC 114.
38 Ibid. 116.
39 Ibid. 117.
40 Ibid. 120.
41 GIRM 48, 74, 87.
42 Ibid. 23.
43 Ibid. 111.
44 Ibid. 123, 124, 126.