Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't give up! (Sunday homily)

Sorry, I have no text this time.

Father Barry Stechschulte, ordained in May, visited this past weekend and offered a Mass at each parish. He wanted to do this as a thank you to the parishes, as he was here last summer in his deacon year. He took two of my three Masses.

My homily arose from reflecting on the readings and trying to connect the first reading with the Gospel. The key I saw in the first reading was the Book of Wisdom offering a counter to a Greek-dominated, pagan culture that threatened Faith in the one true God. Wisdom emphasizes that we are made for eternity, even if people deny that as foolishness (true then, true today); and reiterates that we are made in God's image. Our culture denies the dignity and intrinsic value of life, opting for a utilitarian view: thus, unborn children with physical defects or disabilities aren't welcome, and the elderly are expected to get out of the way.

But our message is life is worth it: Don't give up on life!

The woman in the Gospel didn't give up, however hard it must have been to persevere. I offered several examples of how we might be similarly tempted: being out of work, struggling with a sin, wondering when family or friends will turn their lives around. I talked a bit about the wonderful sacrament of reconciliation and how that helps us not give up. All the sacraments are God's help so we need not give up. I talked about how much fascination we have with the destruction of the world, but we know that God doesn't give up on us: why become human if he were going to do that? The Eucharist, above all, is God's sign that he doesn't give up on us: he not only comes near us, he longs to be one with us and us with him. Don't give up!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The New Missal (Book of Mass Prayers): why we should look forward to it

The prayers of the Mass, although we usually pray them in English, are originally in Latin, and have to be translated carefully. They were last translated in 1970, and that was—all involved admit—a rush job that produced an inferior translation that doesn’t do justice to the Mass.

For some time, the bishops of English-speaking countries have been working on it—it’s a big job that needs to be done carefully. The process is nearing its end—at least so the bishops and Rome say. Within a couple of years, we will finally have a revised, updated, and well-done translation of the Mass into English.

When the new translation is put into use, it will be a bit of a surprise to many Catholics—because the differences between the old translation and the new will make crystal-clear just how inferior the prior translation was. In many prayers, such as the Gloria and the Eucharistic Prayers, whole phrases are left out and key elements of the meaning were lost. Now that will be restored. Much of the language is explicitly biblical, but that was obscured—now that will become clear again.

But of course this will involve transition and there will be bumps along the way.

Last October, Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, gave a talk on the new Missal. What follows is my summary based on his talk, that should help to explain the situation and show ways the new translation is something to look forward to. Thanks to The Adoremus Bulletin, published by Adoremus, the Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, which published this address in its June-July, 2009 edition.

Who is doing the work, when did it begin, and how was it carried out?

Early in 2002, the work began after the third edition of the Roman Missal [i.e., the book containing readings and prayers for the Mass, as well as some of the music texts] was published in Rome.

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is made up of 11 English-speaking bishops, but consulted scholars from many English-speaking countries.

The goal was a text that would be usable in all English-speaking countries; even though different countries use the same language differently, the goal was to have a more unified experience of the Mass, not too much variation from country to country.

Once ICEL agreed on a text, it was sent to individual countries’ bishops for comment, involving back and forth over several years between all the English-speaking bishops and Rome. By October, 2008, a series of texts were prepared for final approval by the various bishops, and then to be forwarded to Rome for final approval as well. This final process is underway.

Bishop Sarratelli observed, while awaiting the new translation, “this is a good occasion to understand more deeply” the “particular style and language” of the Roman Rite. “Liturgical language is important for the life of the Church. Lex orandi, lex credendi. I.e., “how we pray is how we believe.”

Sarratelli added, “in the liturgy, the words addressed to God and the words spoken to the people voice the Faith of the Church. They are not simply the expressions of one individual in one particular place at one time in history. The words used in liturgy also pass on the faith of the Church from one generation to the next.”

Not only that, “the liturgy is the source of the divine life given through the Church as the sacrament of salvation. As Pope Paul VI once said, it is also ‘the first school of the spiritual life…’

“Wisely, therefore, the Church does not leave the words used in the liturgy to…any individual celebrant.”

Sarratelli adds, “the new translations have a great respect for the style of the Roman Rite. Certainly some sentences could be more easily translated to mimic our common speech. But they are not. And with reason. Let me now briefly comment on seven characteristics of the Latin prayers in the Roman Missal and their translation.”

Seven characteristics of the Latin Missal and how they carry through the English translation:

1. “Latin orations…tend to conclude strongly with a teleological or eschatological point.” Teleology refers to the fundamental meaning of people, things, or life in general; eschatology refers to the ultimate realities that give meaning to this world, and which are our final destiny. So Saratelli is saying the prayers strongly emphasize our ultimate purpose and destiny in this life, leading to eternal life. This is something that gets lost if not translated well—thus the new English prayers will seek to convey this same emphasis.

2. Biblical References will be made clear. In the translation now in use, many of the phrases—in Latin—use explicitly Biblical language that was lost in translation. The new translation makes a great effort to restore this Biblical language—either so those praying may recognize the words of Scripture, or else seek them out to discover the source of a particular image.

For example, Saratelli explains, “in Eucharistic Prayer III, we will no longer say: ‘From east to west, a perfect offering is made to the glory of your name.’ Instead we pray the words of Malachi 1:11: ‘…from the rising of the sun to its setting.’”—which was not so well translated in our current version. Now it is both more faithful, and more poetic, without loss of meaning.

The words we speak together currently as the priest shows us the Eucharist before communion are a weak translation of Matthew 8:8, which will be restored as follows: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word…”

3. “The new translations are careful to keep the allusions from patristic writings,” Saratelli explains—that is, those major figures of the Church’s early centuries, such as Augustine, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Basil and others, who were so important in teaching and transmitting the Apostolic Faith.

In several places, the original Latin prayers include phrases and images that come from these great saints, but again, they were lost in translation. Now they are put back.

4. The new translation will respect the “rich vocabulary of the Roman Rite. The post-communion prayers employ a variety of words such as nourished,fed, recreated and made new….The many different words of the Latin text are not monotonously translated with the same words,” Saratelli observes. “Thus, by being faithful to the Latin text, the new translations enrich the use of our liturgical language in English.”

5. The Latin text uses many concrete images and parallel expressions. It also uses anthropomorphic expressions—i.e., human images of God—that “add a certain poetry to the prayers. “And so,” Saratelli explains, “while it is perfectly good English to say: in your pity hear our prayers, the translation respects the poetry of the text and, in the blessing of ashes, says: in your pity give ear to our prayers.”

6. Exactness and style befitting the liturgy. Care is taken to ensure the prayers teach about the Faith with clarity, as they are intended to do with the underlying Latin text which uses exact language as well.

“The Latin prayers are concise and noble in tone,” Saratelli observes; “When we frame our prayers in liturgy, the language of the street is not appropriate.”

What are the next steps?

Between now and November, the U.S. bishops will vote on the final texts, and with their approval, they will be forwarded to Rome for final approval. Sometime in 2010 or 2011, we should begin learning more about the texts and then begin using them.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The weekend thus far...

For those who like to read my homilies, I will have some notes below. I regret I did not have time for as much preparation as I like for my homilies.

This weekend, one parish celebrated a special day: the anniversary of the dedication of the church. I suspect few parishes celebrate this, and yet, the anniversary of a parish's dedication is a solemnity for that parish; "solemnity" meaning it's one of the highest ranking celebrations of the year, outranked only by certain other days.

Liturgical law allows for some solemnities to be transferred to a nearby Sunday, for the benefit of the faithful, as long as there is no higher-ranking feast. Thus I do for the anniversaries of each parish's dedication: St. Mary was last dedicated in June, 1979; St. Boniface, in October. So, we celebrated this special day at all Masses at St. Mary.

But that means different readings, and so I had two homilies.

At St. Boniface, I spoke a little about Father's Day, and I talked about the important role a father can play, especially his spiritual leadership. I said (or at least I meant to say) that the most important task a father has is to introduce his children to Jesus Christ, and I talked about how my father did that and how that surely played a role in my becoming a priest. I cannot say just how I did it, but I connected that to Jesus being in the boat, and he is the source of calm and power.

I should explain my homily was supposed to be a little shorter, because at the end of Mass, we had a representative of Radio Maria giving a short word about his apostolate.

At St. Mary, we used a reading from Isaiah, about the foreigners coming to worship the Lord, and a passage from Hebrews contrasting the fearful experience at Sinai to what those to whom the letter was addressed experience: the heavenly Jerusalem, with angels in festal gathering, and a new covenant in blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel. The Gospel was the passage from John, in which Our Lord cleansed the temple.

I mainly worked from the Hebrews passage, explaining the background, and talking about how we are the ones who are not terrified by such manifestations as at Sinai, and yet we do approach something far more awesome--of course, the Sacrifice of the Mass. Only in the Mass is that passage fulfilled: only in the Mass does Heaven come down to earth.

This feast celebrates the establishment of a house of God for this to happen, here in Piqua. I mentioned D-day, and the beachhead those brave men formed on the beaches of Normandy. Why? Because of a terrible darkness that had to be driven back; they formed a beachhead. We are the beachhead of heaven in our world that otherwise would be in darkness; this church (i.e., each Catholic church) is such a beachhead.

I also talked about the importance of our church being--in Isaiah's words--a "house of prayer for all people." Our empty seats are our mission--draw them in! Our sharing in the Eucharist makes us bearers of the same light to further penetrate the world around us with Christ.

In case you wonder why a priest doesn't have plenty of time to prepare his homily(ies) more fully, here's what else I was up to this weekend. Saturday morning we had a crew of volunteers working on groundskeeping; I joined with them. I had a wedding at 1:30 pm, so when not shoveling mulch, I was opening up the school for the bride and her ladies, then making sure the lights were on in church, and the a/c was running. Then the wedding; then a break before confessions, then Mass.

After Saturday Mass, I had a baptism. I really enjoy baptisms! I try to involve the older children, by having them help me set up, and hold things for me such as the book and a towel. After the baptism, I was talking to the older brother, 14; I asked his name, and he said "John"; "Father John, doesn't that have a nice sound to it? He grinned and said it did; I said, "hey, look how great this is--I get to make saints! How cool is that?"(referring to my baptism homily, where I explain why we sing a Litany of the Saints--in baptism, this child becomes a saint; the "trick" is to stay a saint through life, and arrive in heaven, which is why the parents and godparents have such a great responsibility). Then I joined two classmates for dinner in Urbana.

This morning I had the 7 am Mass, then 9 am Mass back at St. Mary. Now I'm taking a break; I will go down to Troy this afternoon to take part in a priest's 50th Anniversary Mass, then the seminarians are taking the vicar and me out to dinner for Father's Day! Isn't that nice of them to do?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Online Marriage Prep Course

Do you know anything about this?

I gave it a brief look, and it looks promising. I'd really like to hear from anyone who has taken the course, or at least can tell me more about it. Please share any praise or critiques freely.

Biretta tip to Rich Leonardi for this.

Part Time Development Director Opening

Our K-8 school, located in the heart of Piqua, OH, and serving our community for many decades, has an immediate opening for a part-time Development Director. Qualified candidates will possess a college degree or equivalent experience in Marketing and/or Public Relations.

The position demands excellent communication, project management and organizational skills as well as a genuine desire to interact with people and build relationships. Creativity and a strong work ethic required.

The Development Director serves as the primary public relations agent for our Piqua Catholic community. Responsibilities include marketing (communications/public relations/advertising), retention and recruitment, parish/alumni/community relations, fundraising and development.

The Development Director works in collaboration with the Pastor, Principal and School Board to implement our school’s vision and mission. Candidates should be a practicing Catholic in good standing and be prepared to support and present Catholic practice and belief in its entirety.

We offer a competitive compensation package and flexible work schedule. For resume submission or additional information, please contact:

Sister Mary Alice Haithcoat or Father Martin Fox
Piqua Catholic School
503 W. North Street
Piqua, OH 45356
(937) 773-1564

What's going on...

Well, it's been busy.

For several weeks, we've had three seminarians staying in the parish. Every year we do this; they stay the summer, work around the parishes, mostly doing maintenance or odd jobs that just wouldn't get done otherwise, but also go on communion calls, assist at Mass, provide leadership at more complicated liturgies, and along the way, we hope have a good experience of parish life and priestly fraternity.

Last weekend we celebrated Corpus Christi, with 40 Hours all weekend, and then a Corpus Christi Procession from St. Mary to St. Boniface. Two of our seminarians were a great help, providing leadership: one as master of ceremonies for the procession, the other as a thurifer (i.e., the holder of censer with the incense).

Last night, we began our celebration of the Sacred Heart. On Fridays, we normally have one Mass, at St. Mary; but for a solemnity, I think we should--if a priest is available--have a Mass at the other parish. Since Friday evening is not so popular an evening for a Mass, and I have a wedding rehearsal, I had a vigil Mass last night.

The way I look at it, when I have such a Mass--for a non-obligatory solemnity, not otherwise scheduled--then if I use more Latin and incense, no one has reason to complain. Also, some members of the Schola Cantorum enjoy the opportunity to try out some things, such as a Latin Gloria, which we haven't used at a Sunday Mass. And the seminarians and the priest get a chance to refine our ars celebrandi--our manner of celebrating or participating in the liturgy. One tries, but--this can be remarkably hard to do in Sunday Mass.

So, last night, I fixed dinner for the house--we had pork roast, mashed potatoes, salad, some wine (Pinot Grigiot and Merlot, although we didn't even drink one full bottle between five of us); for dessert, we had a cheesecake one of the seminarians put together, with some strawberries. Then we headed over to St. Boniface for Mass. I thought about ad orientem, but decided against it. I may do that when we do this again, on Monday, June 29, 7 pm -- again at St. Boniface -- to mark the solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul; a day of obligation in the rest of the world, but not here.

As far as Latin goes, all we used was the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, as well as the opening hymn. Someone heard I was doing it all in Latin; well, maybe more on Peter and Paul. I personally don't consider what I just described as "all in Latin," but really just a mix, which is clearly what Vatican II envisioned where the vernacular was chosen--i.e., it seems indisputable that Vatican II never intended the vernacular option to mean, no Latin at all.

We had a turnout of about 12 people, but that's okay; I didn't beat the drums. Our seminarian Andrew, who is from Russia (that's a village northwest of here, oddly pronounced RUE-she), did a great job making smoke, and I smoked up the altar, the cross, and the image of the Sacred Heart. He and Brian (from Cincinnati) did a great job incensing during the elevations, and Eric (from Versailles, a village nearby) was on the spot as the "tintinnabulator" (my name for the one who rings the bells).

Meanwhile, the business of the parish continues. We have a position available, details of which I'll post shortly, but it's for a part-time development director. Feel free to send an email to pastor@piquaparishes.org if you want to apply. My meetings are winding down; last night, after the Mass, I drove up to Sidney for the Lehman board meeting, arriving for the second half of a three hour meeting. But that represents the last of my heavy-duty meetings till August, I hope!

There's certainly more that is happening, but that's all I can think of, or which seems fit for publication.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

'What must our response be?' (Corpus Christi homily)

In the first reading, Moses reveals to God’s People
the word of God—the commands of God.
They hadn’t received God himself, but his words.
Notice their response: awe and trembling and a need to offer sacrifice.

When God comes near, it is natural and right to tremble with awe.

When the 8th graders are confirmed,
they learn about the gifts of the Holy Spirit,
one of which used to be called “fear of the Lord”;
in modern parlance, we say, “awe and wonder.”

And I explain that this way:
Everyone, every human being,
naturally feels awe and fear and trembling and being overwhelmed.
It’s not something bad—it’s something very necessary.

But what’s sad is that some people
have had this awe wrung out of them.
They go to Paris to see the Mona Lisa;
They stand before the Pieta by Michaelangelo…*yawn*!

A man walks on the moon—saw it in a video!

You step up to the precipice of the Grand Canyon—
okay, what’s next?

Whittaker Chambers, who played a small role in the Cold War
and wrote a book about it called Witness,
describes the moment he was converted
from being a communist and an atheist,
into the terrifying realization that God exists.

He was holding his baby daughter in his arms,
looking down at her ear.

He felt awe and wonder—you parents know what he felt.

How sad it would be…
What a poverty—what a cruel parody of “life” it would be—
never to feel that!

But you and I live in a very busy and cynical age.
We rush and hurry and never see the beauty around us.
We are so up-to-date, we see through everything.

C.S. Lewis pointed out
the danger of the one who sees through everything
is that he actually sees nothing at all.

I said a moment ago God’s People trembled
to receive the Word of God—
Yet what have we received?
A greater and more perfect covenant,
Ratified not in the blood of goats and calves,
But the Blood of the Son of God,
our God who became our brother!

God’s People fell on the ground to hear the Word of God—
What must our response be?
Our church is made sacred, not by the blood of goats,
But the Blood of Christ, of God himself, poured out on that altar.
Do we always treat this place, and our time here,
with the awe and wonder it deserves?

At 47, and with a few extra pounds,
I recognize not all can genuflect or kneel.
But for those of us who can, why is this an issue?
Why would anyone say, “oh, that’s asking too much?”

I am puzzled that some object
to approaching the Mass as it truly is:
a profound mystery that goes way beyond our understanding,
and so the Mass is not ours to refashion as it suits us,
and yes, the Mass is challenging, and not always “user-friendly.”

Here’s what Pope Benedict said the other day:
“There is always a strong temptation
to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments,
allowing ourselves to be overcome
by earthly activities and concerns.”

I would add—there is sometimes an insistence:
“Don’t make it too hard.”

Where did we get the idea that worshipping the Creator,
in all his mystery and power,
his justice and purity and mercy,
should not be something extraordinarily demanding?

Sometimes we don’t understand what’s happening—
that’s a challenge to make an effort to discover.

Sometimes the prayers are in our own language,
Or the language of our forebears in faith—in Latin,
Or in the language of the New Testament—in Greek,
Or the language of new immigrants—such as Spanish.

God is…
Kadosh (Hebrew)! Hagios (Greek)!
Sanctus (Latin)! Holy!

We’re kidding ourselves if we think we understand
what that means in any language.

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday,
when we reflect—and are changed by our reflection—
on the fact that God is a Trinity of Persons.

God, in his own being and life, is a relationship.
Another way to put it: God, in himself, is communion.

What’s the connection?

God is relationship;
And the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass
is about bringing us into that relationship.


Long ago, God’s people trembled to hear the Word of God.
Then God came himself, become one of us in our midst.
He said, “This is my Body”…
“this is my Blood…poured out for You.”

And then we discover this is not just for us
to witness with fear and trembling—
But—if we will be his disciples,
baptized and in union with his Body the Church,
we are bidden forth to share that life—communion.

To quote Pope Benedict once more:
“With the Eucharist, heaven comes down to earth,
God’s tomorrow descends into the present moment
and time is, as it were, embraced by divine eternity.”

Awe and wonder? Fear and trembling?
What must our response be?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What does a pastor do all day?

Today it was talking on the phone. Almost non-stop from 9 am till about 5 minutes ago.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Holy Trinity--how demanding!

We believe God is a Trinity.
But as practical people, we might wonder
what the practical application of this is.

The answer is, knowing more who God is,
helps us discover the truth about our world and ourselves.

To say that God is a relationship of Persons—
a “family” if you will—
means the same is true of all humanity.

So, first: this is where our Catholic social teaching—
our emphasis on the common good—comes from;
our concern for the poor, the weak, the unborn child.

But we can apply this closer to home.
Our parish, our school—are we a family?
Or are we a business?
We’re both; and balancing that is really hard.
It’s easy to go too far in the business mindset—
yet every family has bills to pay.

Your help in so many ways shows you get this.
But there are times
when some are fine with it being about “family”
when they want something,
but not so much, when the Family asks for help back.
For example: I’ve asked everyone to use Scrip
to help pay the Parish-Family bills.
Many of you do, and it is helping a lot.
But far too many simply don’t respond, and as a result,
our Family doesn’t have enough to go around.

Our own employees are not paid enough—
we pay below standard for the Archdiocese.
Our school doesn’t have enough.
We have families who want to send their children
to Piqua Catholic, or Lehman,
be we don’t have enough to help them.

Yet, if every member of the Parish Family—all of us—
would simply use Scrip for groceries,
we would have more than enough to cover our deficits,
to provide for our school, for our buildings,
for just wages for our own people…
and we could do so much more outreach to the needy.

A second point. When we say God is a relationship,
that opens up possibilities for the kind of relationship
we can have with God.

We talk about having a relationship with God—
but what kind of relationship?
What kind of relationship is even possible?
Well, think a moment about
some different sorts of relationships—
and these first examples
are going to sound kind of negative,
but they are a kind of relationship:

Ruler—and subject. Master—and slave.
Or, how about this: Owner—and pet?

But really, God is so far above us,
why do we expect God to care about us—at all?
When’s the last time you cared about the germs
that are on your hands?
So, under the circumstances,
being God’s “pet” sounds pretty good.
And if God were solitary, and not a Trinity,
that might be the best we could hope for.

It may sound funny, but—
I think some folks might prefer to be God’s pet:
You learn a few tricks to keep God happy,
he trains you so you don’t misbehave too much;
He provides us food and shelter,
and cleans up our messes, but otherwise,
He doesn’t expect too much from us!

But God’s idea of relationship with us
goes so much farther.
He talks about “Father and child”; “Friend to friend”;
and even, “Groom to bride.”

For everyone who asks why
Christianity demands so much from us,
this is why: because we’re not God’s pet—we’re his Bride.

Groom and bride—marriage with God!
Where and when was this marriage made?
First, in God becoming human—
and then, the Cross is the “marriage bed”—
the Groom gave everything with nothing held back;
and we received His life.

Can you see what the Eucharist really means?
We have intimate union—physical union—
with Christ the Bridegroom!

So, now, if you ever wondered why
the Church teaches what she does about sex—
now you understand why.
It’s the same as what we teach about the Eucharist.

We don’t treat the Eucharist as common;
we don’t share the Eucharist with just anyone;
there has to be a commitment first: marriage,
or belonging to the Church.
And if there’s a need for reconciliation—that is first.
People say we treat sex as something bad.
Does it look like we treat the Eucharist
as something bad?

And when we do share the Eucharist,
we don’t put conditions on God:
“Yes, God, I want to have union with you—
but don’t create new life through that union!
I don’t want you to expect too much from me!”

So…saying God is a relationship
means he enters into relationship with us—
and it is demanding.
God seeks a marriage with us. That demands our all.

But we might wonder how that can be possible—
God and us?
The only way it can happen is God bridges the gap.
Jesus comes over to us
to bring us back into a true relationship with God.
That becomes possible because
He pours the Holy Spirit into us.
We are no longer just a speck on his hands—
you and I are his beloved:
we are raised up to share His Life, to be one with Him!

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Sometimes, at special moments in history, men come together and do something truly great and noble.

June 6, 1944 was one such day.

The proper response is to stand in awe...

and say thank you.

June 6 is a day to be proud to be an American.

And to be grateful to be free.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sacred Heart on Sunday, yes or no?

The retired priest here made a suggestion that I am considering: why not celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on the nearest Sunday?

He was, I think, prompted by my practice of transferring to Sunday the celebration of the patronal feast for St. Boniface (when not impeded by Holy Trinity or Corpus Christi, as happens this year), and the transfer to a nearby Sunday of the celebration of the dedication of our churches--which are solemnities for that parish.

So why not also for Sacred Heart? The retired priest argued for it because it's such a special devotion--and way of life--for so many and could be for so many more.

I discussed this over dinner last night with the parochial vicar, our dear Sisters of Charity, and one of the seminarians here for the summer. The first reaction, from the vicar, was, are you sure you can do that?

The answer is yes, according to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, paragraph 58:

For the pastoral advantage of the people, it is permissible to observe on the Sundays in Ordinary Time those celebrations that fall during the week and have special appeal to the devotion of the faithful, provided the celebrations take precedence over these Sundays in the Table of Liturgical Days. The Mass for such celebrations may be used at all the Masses at which a congregation is present (February 14, 1969, accessed at EWTN's online library.

Not that I remembered the exact citation, so we had some discussion about why this doesn't apply to Christmas; the answer being, this provision applies only during Ordinary Time. The question then arose, what about Assumption? It seems that, from this provision, that might be possible; but the counter offered by the vicar was that it's one thing to do this with a solemnity particular to a parish; another to do it for a solemnity celebrated universally. Also, he argued, Sacred Heart is particularly tied to Friday--the Church designed the calendar so that it always comes up on Friday after all.

Another of the seminarians staying here asked, wouldn't the diocesan bishop have to give permission? Good question.

Well, I'm putting this out for your consideration and comment. I'm interested in two things, somewhat different:

1) Do you have any authoritative source to offer in answering these questions about whether such things can be done, and if so, on whose authority? (pastor, bishop, conference, Holy See?)

2) Do you have an opinion on whether such an option--even if allowed--is desirable.

What do you say?

P.S. I also found this article online, by Father Edward McNamara, that touches on this somewhat. Scan down somewhat, as Father McNamara gives an addendum to his earlier answer.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sorry it's been crazy busy

Last week was just crazy. Nothing extreme or scary, just a lot. A lot of normal stuff as the school winds down, as I got ready for a final Pastoral Council meeting (for one parish) before summer--meaning many more items to consider--and also a festival (for the other parish). I'm not complaining because it was just as crazy-busy for all the folks who organized and worked the festival. I'm always impressed and humbled by that.

My homily for Pentecost was simply some thoughts about the workings of the Holy Spirit:

> Water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; you can have life in extreme cold or extreme heat, as long as there is water; but no water equals no life. We absolutely depend on the Holy Spirit.

> One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to bring forgiveness and reconciliation. How wonderful the sacrament of penance is--we're clean again, as in baptism, when we're made saints. The challenge is to stay a saint. If we charged for such a great gift as absolution, what would people pay? But it's free. In God's economy, the most valuable things are never in short supply; whereas in our economy, it's not so.

> Another work of the Holy Spirit is to "renew the face of the earth." In this bad economy, so much need; one way we might "renew the face of the earth" is to share our abundance with those in need. Many families want to send their children to our Catholic school but have no money with which to do it, and our funds to help them are limited.

> The Holy Spirit makes sacraments what they are. Without the Holy Spirit, I am not a priest, and the tabernacle is filled with mere bread. We could not be present at the Creation, but through the Holy Spirit's power, we are present at the New Creation (I explained this more), through the Mass. Being present for Jesus' saving death and resurrection would be enough; and yet we are also united to this and to him through the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, we are transformed. We might ask the Holy Spirit to help us realize how wonderful this is, and to transform us, so we renew the face of the earth.