Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Catching up...

Sorry folks, it's just busy.

I'll do what I can to bring you up to date...

>Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, is one of my favorite feast days. In my homily, I explained the origins of the day--established by Pope Pius XI in 1925, amidst a rising tide of statism and totalitarianism. I told the story of the German-American priest who wrote the hymn, "To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King," written as a heart-felt rebuttal to the darkness overtaking his German homeland about that time. I also cited the oppression of the Church in Mexico about that time--where, when you said, "Viva Christo Rey!" it was right before you heard the crack of the rifle at your execution.

Then I talked about the challenges we face today; citing how when we exercised our rights and had an impact on abortion funding in the health-care bill, enraged members of Congress threatened the Church for daring to speak up. And I cited how the city of Washington, D.C., is preparing to redefine marriage, and compel everyone to go along with that, and the Archdiocese of Washington said, not so fast--we won't be able to provide social services the city currently pays us to provide. And that provoked vitriol from the powerful Washington Post. And I cited the member of Congress who calls us "bigots" for insisting marriage is man-woman.

I talked about what our Lord said in the Gospel--all who live in the truth hear my voice--but many today respond as Pilate did: "what is truth?" can we know it? The Lord will return--and it is our job to bring as many as possible to faith, so they receive his coming with joy, not dread. Who will share the truth with those hungry for it? That is our mission.

We lead others to Christ the King by making him king in our own lives. This is why many have an image of the Lord, a crucifix or the Sacred Heart, in their homes--declaring him king in that home. When we say grace in restaurants, our sign of the cross is a powerful witness. When we receive the Eucharist at Mass, he makes our hearts his throne, King in our own lives. Viva Christo Rey!

>I'm planning to go out of town in December, between the 8th and18th--I'm joining an Archdiocesan-sponsored trip to Mexico--so I have things to take care of before I go. One of which is scheduling meetings with staff, for an annual review. Remember, I'm an employer. It's good to do, I enjoy it, but it takes time and effort.

For example, a variety of things conspired today to require me to postpone an appointment for today, to tomorrow.

Oh, and I have things to do regarding the trip...all the usual things.

>Another project--we have a 24-hour chapel, with perpetual exposition of the Holy Eucharist--and I've been putting together a plan for some time to install new carpeting and some fresh paint. We have a group of volunteers to do it, led by a young man doing this for his Eagle Scout badge, and we finally got everything in place to go ahead. That will happen next week, from Dec. 1 to the 8th. So, today, I had to scramble to get the word out and get some stuff together for the bulletin. One of our active parishioners gave me a good suggestion, requiring, however, a change in plans--so that was today. Why today? Well, the bulletins have to be assembled tomorrow, due to Thanksgiving.

>Tonight, our parish liturgy commissions met for the third time. I started this recently, in response to requests and also because the time seemed right. Our plan borrows from the basic, Cursillo model: prayer, study, action. So the two commissions meet together, pray the Liturgy of the Hours together; then we study Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council; and down the road, after we've been well grounded in the Church's teaching and tradition, we will get to action. For example, I've been explaining to the folks about the new translation of the Mass coming down the pike.

That finished up at 8 pm; I checked in with the parochial vicar, covered some things, and then sat down to dinner--some leftover pork chops and some ramen noodles (cheap! easy! tasty!).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

'Just enough...until the Lord sends rain' (Sunday homily)

(From notes)

In the first reading, the prophet Elijah asks for "a bit of bread"--
and when the widow hesitates, he promises
that her store "shall not run dry until the day when the Lord sends rain."
The text suggests that the promise is not that her supplies would overflow--
but that there would be just enough each day; until the rains come.

We might chose to see this passage symbolically--
with the rain as the Holy Spirit falling on the earth to bring life--revival.
We certainly need that.

We live in strange times, in which things we would have taken for granted
are under constant assault.
Who would have thought it would be necessary to vote to protect the institution of marriage;
and on Tuesday, the state of Maine did just that, by a close margin.

Father Tom and I were in Columbus on Thursday and Friday,
along with all the bishops of the state, and 700 priests from the whole state.
The U.S. bishops are preparing a letter on marriage,
and we were there to reflect on it and to prepare for when it is issued.
We heard some bad news about the state of things, and hopeful news.
On our drive back home, we talked about
how we could best use what we heard and talked about to help couples.
And I would ask you--tell us, what can we do to help you?
Whatever little bit you may have to offer, please share it with us. We want to help.

These are strange times. The faith of many seems so weak,
as people sometimes drift off and we wonder why.
We need rain; we need revival!
How will that come? Our prayers--our faith--offered for revival.
You may feel you haven't much to offer, but put it in, all the same.

If we continue to see this passage as symbolic,
we might see the woman as the Church, and the son as us.
It is here that we come, and we find enough to get us through.
In the back of church is a bit of bread. It's not very fancy;
we could get nicer, fancier bread at Panera, or make it ourselves--but that isn't the point.

The Lord takes just a handful, and transforms it into himself.
And it is enough! Enough to sustain us, day by day: "give us this day our daily Bread."
That's why we come here. We find what we need here.
And we put in what we have, while we pray for rain.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!

I'm sure you've heard about the lovely songs schools have taught the children to sing to our President. Since it's so popular to do these days, I thought of some additional lyrics they could sing:

Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He’s the Leader, he’s divine
And everyone should get in line
Or give them reeducation time!

Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!

Barack Hussein Obama
Let the gummint take the lead
And provide for you your every need
Free to you, cuz the rich we’ll bleed!

Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!

Barack Hussein Obama
Grammies looking a little wan
Here’s a counselor to help you plan
It’s patriotic, don’t you understand?

Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!

Belated biretta-tip to Instapundit

Monday, November 02, 2009

Reason #1,378...

not to take sharing your faith with your children for granted illustrated here.

(If you read closely, you'll see that both are Catholic...)

Swine flu crisis worsens

...college life hit hard.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Other happenings on Omnium Sanctorum

I just ducked into the balcony of St. Mary Church for the second half of the Mass offered by our parochial vicar. I wanted to be there before the Liturgy of the Eucharist began, because our junior high choir was providing music at Sunday Mass for the first time. Our music director, who also teaches in the school, and I have been wanting to do this for some time--to have our schoolchildren form choirs and provide music as part of Mass regularly throughout the year. We of course want our schoolchildren to learn the importance of music as part of Mass, but we also hope this will reinforce the importance of Sunday Mass for all our families (it is a sad reality that some families will send their children to Catholic school but not attend Sunday Mass).

They did well--they sung the standard, Gregorian Sanctus and Agnus Dei--using the simplest setting that the bishops recommend be introduced into every parish; they led us in "Be Not Afraid" as a communion hymn and "For all the Saints" as a closing hymn. After communion they sang a more contemporary piece--the name of which I do not know--that is a meditation on the Lord's Prayer. It is a very nice piece and they did it well. After the final hymn, they sang a more rousing piece--again, I don't know the name, but if someone from our music program visits here, can you give that information in the comments?

These two contemporary pieces were well chosen and well done--and they belie the notion that we must choose either ancient or modern. The issue is not that modern or contemporary has no place, but rather, the right sort of music that is appropriate for the liturgy, and turns our hearts and minds not inward, but upward and forward--to the Lord who saves us. They did well!

Our vicar, Father Tom, also wore a new, brilliant vestment which was generously donated by the St. Mary Altar Society. I hope to have a photo of the vestment, as soon as I get someone to take a picture of me (or Father Tom) in it. The chasuble, stole and chalice veil were blessed--by me--right before 9 am Mass, and then I used them for the first time.

I obtained the vestment from Saint Bede Studio, after scanning the web for companies to have make a vestment for us. My goal was something a little different--and I was intrigued when I saw a style of chasuble on the St. Bede blog that was worn by St. Philip Neri, St. Charles Borromeo and St. Ignatius Loyola. If you go here, you'll see a post about "a priest from Ohio"--could that be me?--ordering a vestment remarkably similar to the one I obtained!

Later today, I'll stop by a picnic organized by some of our families, including the aforementioned music director and family. The gathering is notable for one feature--it's all our families with four or more children! With great thanks to God, we have a number of families who are--as I like to put it--doing their best to repopulate Western Civilization. It is tremendously encouraging to me and to all of us, and I look forward to stopping by.

Still later, the youth group will have a gathering, starting in the basement of the rectory-office at St. Boniface, focusing on the saints--and as part of that, we'll have a procession to the chapel for solemn Mass--the idea is to recall the catacombs experience of the early Church. After Mass, we'll have a bonfire and 'smores--which allegedly came down from the early Church, but I cannot find a citation for that just now...

'The saints are the health of the world' (All Saints homily)

(I will recount my homily as best I can from memory, I had no notes.)

As it happens, we might call today "Health Sunday"--because I have a couple of items to share with you concerning our health--and this seems the best way to do it.

First. Given the flu season, there are many with concerns, and after talking to Father Tom and Father Ang, we wanted to offer the following precautions:

1) Since shaking hands is a very effective way to spread germs, please don't feel you have to shake hands at the sign of peace. This is a symbolic sign of the peace Christ gives us. If you are a little under the weather, or you aren't so sure about the nice person next to you, you don't have to shake hands--maybe a head-nod or a wave instead.

2) If you are feeling a little under the weather, and you don't come to Mass because you don't want to spread it, that's not a sin, that's being very considerate. If you know of anyone who isn't coming to Mass and would like to receive holy communion, call the parish office so we can do that.

3) If you came to Mass and you feel a little under the weather, you don't have to drink from the cup. We receive all of Jesus in the Eucharist, whether we receive the host or the cup. Not drinking from the cup when you're a little germ-y or cough-y is very considerate of others. If there is anyone for whom this creates a problem, please let me know after Mass.

4) We are so grateful for those who help distribute the Eucharist at Mass--and I would just suggest that they may want to get some hand-sanitizer and use it just before they come forward.

Second health item. This is something Archbishop Pilarczyk wants me to bring to your attention. We are all aware of Congress debating health-care legislation that will affect all of us. And for some time, the bishops have been raising the concern that whatever legislation is passed, it not include funding to promote or pay for abortions, among other concerns.

Unfortunately, thus far Congress has not heeded that concern--so the bills now under consideration would use our tax money to promote abortion. In your bulletins today is this orange handout (hold up handout)--it has other information on the back, so look at both sides--and it provides all the information you need. Also, it provides a way you and I can contact Congress right away to voice our views. As Catholics and as citizens, we have the right--and the duty--to speak up; and things are moving fast, so don't wait, we need to act now.

Now, what does all that about health have to do with the saints? I thought about that; and I realized: the saints are the health of the world. Everyone in this world who has the Holy Spirit active in his or her life, following the grace of Christ--that means all of us, but the saints especially, who do so in heroic ways--this is essential for the health of the world. Consider for a moment: what if, at midnight, everyone who followed the Lord ceased to be in the world? What would happen? What would the world be like? No one to be a peacemaker; no one to offer reconciliation in response to anger; no one to lead others in a life of discipline and holiness.

I don't want to think about that world, and thankfully, we won't find out--because the world is filled with Christians, and the grace of Christ is at work through us all--and the world needs us!

Who can forget when Mother Theresa won the Nobel Prize, and stood before the world, and said it was a terrible poverty to destroy children in abortion? What a difference St. Damien of Molokai, John Paul, Maximilian Kolbe, and so many others, have made in the world!

Now, there's another thing. How many saints are present, right here? I don't mean the saints who are present with us spiritually at Mass--I mean you! I know what you're thinking, "I'm not a saint!" But when you were baptized, you became a saint. As I tell the parents and godparents, that's the easy part; the hard part is staying a saint. That's why their task is so important.

But how blessed we are that God doesn't just give us one shot--and if we mess up after baptism, too bad, hope you have an asbestos suit for the afterlife! No! God gives us every possible help to persevere. We are made saints in baptism, and if we mess up, we can renew the newness of baptism in the sacrament of confession.

What if I told you that, if you stepped into the box back there, when you came out, all debts would be gone? I suspect some of us wouldn't wait for Mass to end--you'd be back there! Wouldn't that be wonderful? That's what happens in confession--the debt of sin, wiped away! How wonderful!

Above all, the Lord gives us the Eucharist--where we are united to the One who will take us to heaven. Through the Eucharist, we are joined to him--and as long as we hold onto him, we have nothing to fear, because he is taking us to heaven.

We are called to be saints. If we make it to heaven, that's what we'll be; there's no economy class in heaven! We will all be saints.

Think of those who run marathons. I don't run marathons, in case you haven't figured that out! But I've seen it done! What happens? The men and women who are running, maybe after 10, or 15 or so miles, they get tired, they flag, they are running down. And what do those who have finished the race do? They are standing there, saying, "come on! you can do it! you can make it! keep coming, keep running, don't give up, go, go go!"

That's what the saints are doing for us. They are cheering us on from heaven, supporting us with their prayers--they want us to make it! So that what the first reading from Revelation described is fulfilled: a number, too great to count, of all those who have been washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb, and who have overcome, are gathered together.

That's us! That's our hope.