Friday, October 30, 2009

Cardinal Cañizares on Liturgical Formation

This is an excerpt from an interview that took between Catalunya Cristiana and the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, while the Cardinal was attending a conference in Barcelona, Spain.
How can the sense of the liturgy be recovered?

At present we work in a very quiet manner on an entire range of issues having to do with educative projects. This is the prime necessity there is: a good and genuine liturgical formation. The subject of liturgical formation is critical because there really is no sufficient education [at the moment]. People believe that the liturgy is a matter of forms and external realities, and what we really need is to restore a sense of worship, i.e. the sense of God as God. This sense of God can only be recovered with the liturgy. Therefore the Pope has the greatest interest in emphasizing the priority of the liturgy in the life of the Church. When one lives the spirit of the liturgy, one enters into the spirit of worship, one enters into the acknowledgment of God, one enters into communion with Him, and this is what transforms man and turns him into a new man. The liturgy always looks towards God, not the community; it is not the community that makes the liturgy, but it is God who makes it. It is He who comes to meet us and offers us to participate in his life, his mercy and his forgiveness ... When one truly lives the liturgy and God is truly at the centre of it, everything changes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

USCCB emails every parish about Health Care & Abortion

For more details, click here.

From: Tom Grenchik, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities
To: Diocesan Pro-Life Directors & State Catholic Conference Director

Re: URGENT: Nationwide USCCB Bulletin Insert on Health Care Reform

Attached [see below], please find an Urgent Memorandum highlighting USCCB plans and requests for diocesan and parish based activation on health care reform.

The President of the Conference and the Chairmen of the three major USCCB committees engaged in health care reform have written all the bishops and asked that the attached USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert (PDF) on health care reform be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible.

Congressional votes may take place as soon as early November. If your Arch/bishop is not in agreement with disseminating the bulletin insert, you will be hearing from his office immediately. You may wish to check with his office ASAP to see how you may be of assistance in distributing the Bulletin Insert, far and wide.

Tomorrow, the USCCB will be e-mailing these same materials to a large number of parishes across the country, already on a USCCB contact list. The parish list is incomplete, so we will still have to rely on diocesan e-mail systems to reach EVERY parish. Thank you for your great help with this.

Also included are suggested Pulpit Announcements and a Prayer Petition. (MS Word)

There is also a copy of a newly-released ad for the Catholic press (PDF), which may be printed as flyers for the vestibule or copied on the flip-side of the Bulletin Insert. The flyer/ad directs readers to where they may send their pre-written e-mails to Congress through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center. If you wish to sponsor the ad in your local Catholic paper and need a different size, please contact Deirdre McQuade at

Please encourage parishioners to pray for this effort as well. More information can be found at

Thank you for your urgent actions and prayers on behalf of this nationwide effort!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Church and Priestly Celibacy

God-willing, a great number of Anglicans will soon be entering into communion with the Catholic Church.  They will no longer be Anglicans, but Catholics.  This is not a "merger" or "union" of "churches", but rather the entrance of non-Catholic Christians into the Catholic Church en masse.

Some of these Anglicans are considered ordained ministers in the Anglican Communion.  While the Catholic Church does not recognize Anglican orders as valid, this does not mean that she will not discern whether those men who became Anglican deacons, priests, and bishops heard (and responded as best they knew how) a call from God to the vocation of ordained ministry.  Some of the Anglican clergy will indeed be ordained (not "re-ordained" or "conditionally ordained") as clergy of the Catholic Church.  Some of these men have wives and families.  Under the "pastoral provision", there is permission for married clergy of the Anglican communion (for example) to be received into the Catholic Church and ordained as priests; married men may not be bishops though, a discipline respected by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  This means that married Anglican bishops will not receive episcopal ordination in the Catholic Church.

"But I thought priests couldn't marry!" you say.  And you are right:  priests cannot marry.  But that does not mean that married men cannot become priests.  This is the case in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church (as well as the Orthodox Churches), but the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church has preferred a discipline of priestly celibacy:  only unmarried men are ordained to the priesthood.  In rare cases (such as under the "pastoral provision") are married men allowed to receive priestly ordination.

The next question, obviously, is "Why does the Latin Rite have this discipline?"  And that is answered for us by the Church herself.  First of all, I suggest you read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on the matter, since it is a distillation of everything else that follows:
All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to "the affairs of the Lord," they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God.

In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry. (CCC 1579-1580)
With that out of the way, let us look at some recent Church documents which address the issue of a celibacy in the priesthood.  Let us use Vatican II's documents as our starting point, since many people suspect that Vatican II somehow changed the Church's view of priestly celibacy.  Three documents mention clerical celibacy specifically.  First, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church:
Likewise, the holiness of the Church is fostered in a special way by the observance of the counsels proposed in the Gospel by Our Lord to His disciples. An eminent position among these is held by virginity or the celibate state. This is a precious gift of divine grace given by the Father to certain souls, whereby they may devote themselves to God alone the more easily, due to an undivided heart. This perfect continency, out of desire for the kingdom of heaven, has always been held in particular honor in the Church. The reason for this was and is that perfect continency for the love of God is an incentive to charity, and is certainly a particular source of spiritual fecundity in the world. (Lumen Gentium 42)
Second, the Decree on Priestly Training:
Students who follow the venerable tradition of celibacy according to the holy and fixed laws of their own rite are to be educated to this state with great care. For renouncing thereby the companionship of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 19:12), they embrace the Lord with an undivided love altogether befitting the new covenant, bear witness to the resurrection of the world to come (cf. Luke 20:36), and obtain a most suitable aid for the continual exercise of that perfect charity whereby they can become all things to all men in their priestly ministry. Let them deeply realize how gratefully that state ought to be received, not, indeed, only as commanded by ecclesiastical law, but as a precious gift of God for which they should humbly pray. Through the inspiration and help of the grace of the Holy Spirit let them freely and generously hasten to respond to this gift.

Students ought rightly to acknowledge the duties and dignity of Christian matrimony, which is a sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Let them recognize, however, the surpassing excellence of virginity consecrated to Christ, so that with a maturely deliberate and generous choice they may consecrate themselves to the Lord by a complete gift of body and soul.

They are to be warned of the dangers that threaten their chastity especially in present-day society. Aided by suitable safeguards, both divine and human, let them learn to integrate their renunciation of marriage in such a way that they may suffer in their lives and work not only no harm from celibacy but rather acquire a deeper mastery of soul and body and a fuller maturity, and more perfectly receive the blessedness spoken of in the Gospel. (Optatam Totius 10)
And third, the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests:
Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, commended by Christ the Lord and through the course of time as well as in our own days freely accepted and observed in a praiseworthy manner by many of the faithful, is held by the Church to be of great value in a special manner for the priestly life. It is at the same time a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity and a special source of spiritual fecundity in the world. Indeed, it is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood, as is apparent from the practice of the early Church and from the traditions of the Eastern Churches where, besides those who with all the bishops, by a gift of grace, choose to observe celibacy, there are also married priests of highest merit. ...

Indeed, celibacy has a many-faceted suitability for the priesthood. For the whole priestly mission is dedicated to the service of a new humanity which Christ, the victor over death, has aroused through his Spirit in the world and which has its origin "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God" (Jn 1:13). Through virginity, then, or celibacy observed for the Kingdom of Heaven, priests are consecrated to Christ by a new and exceptional reason. They adhere to him more easily with an undivided heart, they dedicate themselves more freely in him and through him to the service of God and men, and they more expeditiously minister to his Kingdom and the work of heavenly regeneration, and thus they are apt to accept, in a broad sense, paternity in Christ. In this way they profess themselves before men as willing to be dedicated to the office committed to them-namely, to commit themselves faithfully to one man and to show themselves as a chaste virgin for Christ and thus to evoke the mysterious marriage established by Christ, and fully to be manifested in the future, in which the Church has Christ as her only Spouse. They give, moreover, a living sign of the world to come, by a faith and charity already made present, in which the children of the resurrection neither marry nor take wives.

For these reasons, based on the mystery of Christ and his mission, celibacy, which first was recommended to priests, later in the Latin Church was imposed upon all who were to be promoted to sacred orders. ... Insofar as perfect continence is thought by many men to be impossible in our times, to that extent priests should all the more humbly and steadfastly pray with the Church for that grace of fidelity, which is never denied those who seek it, and use all the supernatural and natural aids available. They should especially seek, lest they omit them, the ascetical norms which have been proved by the experience of the Church and which are scarcely less necessary in the contemporary world. This holy synod asks not only priests but all the faithful that they might receive this precious gift of priestly celibacy in their hearts and ask of God that he will always bestow this gift upon his Church. (Presbyterorum Ordinis 16)

Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical in 1954 on the matter of consecrated virginity, in which he re-states the "doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state" because of the opinions of some in his day who "exalt marriage as to rank it ahead of virginity and thus depreciate chastity consecrated to God and clerical celibacy." (Sacra Virginitas 32, 8)

Fifty years ago (before Vatican II), Bl. Pope John XXIII wrote about St. John Vianney – recently brought to mind again by Pope Benedict XVI in this Year for Priests – and his model of chastity:
The ascetic way of life, by which priestly chastity is preserved, does not enclose the priest's soul within the sterile confines of his own interests, but rather it makes him more eager and ready to relieve the needs of his brethren. St. John Mary Vianney has this pertinent comment to make in this regard: "A soul adorned with the virtue of chastity cannot help loving others; for it has discovered the source and font of love—God." What great benefits are conferred on human society by men like this who are free of the cares of the world and totally dedicated to the divine ministry so that they can employ their lives, thoughts, powers in the interest of their brethren! How valuable to the Church are priests who are anxious to preserve perfect chastity!  (Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia 25)

Shortly after Vatican II, Pope Paul VI wrote an encyclical expressly on priestly celibacy.  First, he acknowledges that questions had been arising in his day about the discipline's purpose. (1-4)  Next he addresses the objections to this ancient discipline. (5-16)  Then he provides reasons for clerical celibacy (17-59), including an analysis of celibacy in the life of the Church (35-49) and a defense of celibacy as a human value which is not opposed to nature, but which is rather an effect of grace perfecting nature. (50-59)  Then the formation of priests with respect to celibacy is considered (60-99), addressing the priestly life (73-82), defections and dispensations from the law of celibacy (83-90), the fatherly role of the Bishop (91-95), and the role of the faithful. (96-97)

There is far too much material from his encyclical to cover in this post, but it is an excellent resource for the question of celibacy since it provides arguments against the discipline and then presents the Church's answers to those arguments. (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus)

Pope John Paul II, in a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, wrote about priestly celibacy in these words:

Referring to the evangelical counsels, the [Second Vatican] Council states that "preeminent among these counsels is that precious gift of divine grace given to some by the Father (cf. Mt. 19:11; 1 Cor. 7:7) in order more easily to devote themselves to God alone with an undivided heart (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-34) in virginity or celibacy. This perfect continence for love of the kingdom of heaven has always been held in high esteem by the Church as a sign and stimulus of love, and as a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world." (Lumen Gentium 42) In virginity and celibacy, chastity retains its original meaning, that is, of human sexuality lived as a genuine sign of and precious service to the love of communion and gift of self to others. This meaning is fully found in virginity which makes evident, even in the renunciation of marriage, the "nuptial meaning" of the body through a communion and a personal gift to Jesus Christ and his Church which prefigures and anticipates the perfect and final communion and self-giving of the world to come: "In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting, also in a bodily way, the eschatological marriage of Christ with the Church, giving himself or herself completely to the Church in the hope that Christ may give himself to the Church in the full truth of eternal life."

In this light one can more easily understand and appreciate the reasons behind the centuries-old choice which the Western Church has made and maintained - despite all the difficulties and objections raised down the centuries - of conferring the order of presbyter only on men who have given proof that they have been called by God to the gift of chastity in absolute and perpetual celibacy.

The synod fathers clearly and forcefully expressed their thought on this matter in an important proposal which deserves to be quoted here in full: "While in no way interfering with the discipline of the Oriental churches, the synod, in the conviction that perfect chastity in priestly celibacy is a charism, reminds priests that celibacy is a priceless gift of God for the Church and has a prophetic value for the world today. This synod strongly reaffirms what the Latin Church and some Oriental rites require that is, that the priesthood be conferred only on those men who have received from God the gift of the vocation to celibate chastity (without prejudice to the tradition of some Oriental churches and particular cases of married clergy who convert to Catholicism, which are admitted as exceptions in Pope Paul VI's encyclical on priestly celibacy, no. 42). The synod does not wish to leave any doubts in the mind of anyone regarding the Church's firm will to maintain the law that demands perpetual and freely chosen celibacy for present and future candidates for priestly ordination in the Latin rite. The synod would like to see celibacy presented and explained in the fullness of its biblical, theological and spiritual richness, as a precious gift given by God to his Church and as a sign of the kingdom which is not of this world - a sign of God's love for this world and of the undivided love of the priest for God and for God's people, with the result that celibacy is seen as a positive enrichment of the priesthood."

It is especially important that the priest understand the theological motivation of the Church's law on celibacy. Inasmuch as it is a law, it expresses the Church's will, even before the will of the subject expressed by his readiness. But the will of the Church finds its ultimate motivation in the link between celibacy and sacred ordination, which configures the priest to Jesus Christ the head and spouse of the Church. The Church, as the spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive manner in which Jesus Christ her head and spouse loved her. Priestly celibacy, then, is the gift of self in and with Christ to his Church and expresses the priest's service to the Church in and with the Lord.

For an adequate priestly spiritual life, celibacy ought not to be considered and lived as an isolated or purely negative element, but as one aspect of the positive, specific and characteristic approach to being a priest. Leaving father and mother, the priest follows Jesus the good shepherd in an apostolic communion, in the service of the People of God. Celibacy, then, is to be welcomed and continually renewed with a free and loving decision as a priceless gift from God, as an "incentive to pastoral charity " as a singular sharing in God's fatherhood and in the fruitfulness of the Church, and as a witness to the world of the eschatological kingdom. ... (Pastores Dabo Vobis 29)

And more recently, Pope Benedict XVI wrote about priestly celibacy in his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist; he echoes Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II, as well as the Second Vatican Council:
The Synod Fathers wished to emphasize that the ministerial priesthood, through ordination, calls for complete configuration to Christ. While respecting the different practice and tradition of the Eastern Churches, there is a need to reaffirm the profound meaning of priestly celibacy, which is rightly considered a priceless treasure, and is also confirmed by the Eastern practice of choosing Bishops only from the ranks of the celibate. These Churches also greatly esteem the decision of many priests to embrace celibacy. This choice on the part of the priest expresses in a special way the dedication which conforms him to Christ and his exclusive offering of himself for the Kingdom of God. The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of the Latin Church. It is not sufficient to understand priestly celibacy in purely functional terms. Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ's own way of life. This choice has first and foremost a nuptial meaning; it is a profound identification with the heart of Christ the Bridegroom who gives his life for his Bride. In continuity with the great ecclesial tradition, with the Second Vatican Council and with my predecessors in the papacy, I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God, and I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition. Priestly celibacy lived with maturity, joy and dedication is an immense blessing for the Church and for society itself. (Sacramentum Caritatis 24)
I hope these excerpts have helped you understand why the Catholic Church values celibacy in her priests.  I urge you to read Sacra Virginitas and Sacerdotalis Caelibatus.

Bl. John XXIII on St. John Vianney

Fifty years ago, Pope John XXIII wrote an encyclical about St. John Vianney.  Back in June, Pope Benedict XVI began the Year for Priests and drew attention to this priest-saint, whom he named the patron saint of all priests.

Bl. Pope John XXIII's encyclical was Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, and I recommend it if you'd like a papal "biography" of St. John Vianney and an explanation of why he is such a model for priests.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"The blind and the lame"

Wow, I learned another great link between this coming Sunday's Gospel and the Old Testament by listening to Dr. Michael P. Barber's "Reasons for Faith" on EWTN Radio.  Jesus cures Bartimaeus, a blind man, and he follows Jesus to Jerusalem.

In the Old Testament, when David went to conquer Jerusalem, then occupied by the Jebusites, they (the Jebusites) mocked him, saying "You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off." (2 Sam. 5:6)  In response to that mockery, King David spoke very rash words:  "Whoever would smite the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul." (2 Sam. 5:8)  Because of that event, after the Temple was built, there was a saying "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house" (2 Sam. 5:8), the "house" being the Temple.

But then Jeremiah prophesied against this unjust exclusion of the blind and the lame:  "Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her who is in travail, together; a great company, they shall return here." (Jer. 31:8)  God was saying He would bring the exiles back to Jerusalem, even the blind and the lame!

In the gospel of Matthew, we read that Jesus, after entering the Temple area and driving out the money-changers, tended to "the blind and the lame [who] came to him in the temple, and he healed them." (Matt. 21:14)  Jesus abrogated the cruel curse placed on the blind and the lame which claimed authority because of the attitude of King David in war.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Benedict XVI, Pope of Christian Unity

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z) has a good idea:  when speaking and writing about Pope Benedict XVI, describe him as the "Pope of Christian Unity".  This is not an attempt to wish something good into being; rather, it is an acknowledgment of what Pope Benedict has been working to achieve with the Orthodox, the Society of St. Pius X, and the Anglicans.

Vatican II on "Religious Freedom"

In only a matter of days, there will be a dialogue on Vatican II between clergy at the Vatican and clergy of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).  One of the issues which will be brought up, inevitably, is what Vatican II taught about religious liberty or religious freedom, found in the document Dignitatis Humanae.

The core of what Vatican II taught about religious liberty is contained in the first two paragraphs of this document:
Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ. (1)

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. (2)
Religious freedom, then, is not about giving rights to error. It does, however, entail toleration of error at times. Fr. William Most (who has two essays on this subject here and here) makes this point (in the first linked document):
Pius XII taught in Ci riesce [that] the common good of the universal Church requires that error be permitted. In fact, in determined circumstances, God does not even give the state a right to suppress erroneous things, namely, when the common good of Church and state call for tolerance. ... "Can it be that in determined circumstances, He [God] does not give to man any mandate, or impose a duty, finally, that He gives no right to impede and to repress that which is erroneous or false? ... Christ in the parable of the cockle gave the following admonition: Let it be that the cockle grow in the field of the world along with the good seed, for the sake of the harvest." (Pius XII, Ci riesce, Dec. 6, 1953. AAS 45; Cf. Mt. 13:24-30.)

COMMENT: We notice he said that "in determined circumstances" God does not even give a right to repress. What are these circumstances? A bit farther on he added: "He [the Catholic statesman] in his decision will let himself be guided by the harmful consequences which arise with tolerance, compared with those that will be found in the international community by way of the acceptance of tolerance. ... in such individual cases, the attitude of the Church is determined by the preservation and in consideration of the common good, the common good of the Church, and of the State in individual states on the one hand, and on the other hand, the common good of the universal Church."
That's all for now.  Back to work!

Pope Pius XII on the diaconate

Just came across this quote this morning:
We have not yet considered those Orders which precede the priesthood, and which, in the present practice of the Church, are only conferred in preparation for ordination to the priesthood. The duties connected with Minor Orders have long been performed by laymen, and We know that thought is being given at present to the introduction of a diaconate conceived as an ecclesiastical office independent of the priesthood. Today, at least, the idea is not yet ready for application. Should it someday become so, what We have just said would still hold true and this diaconate would take its place with the priesthood in the distinctions We have just drawn. (Pope Pius XII, October 5, 1957, Guiding Principles of the Lay Apostolate 1)
Sure enough, over the next 15 years, conditions became favorable. In 1964, the Second Vatican Council said the following:
At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed "not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service." ... [T]he diaconate can in the future be restored as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy. It pertains to the competent territorial bodies of bishops, of one kind or another, with the approval of the Supreme Pontiff, to decide whether and where it is opportune for such deacons to be established for the care of souls. With the consent of the Roman Pontiff, this diaconate can, in the future, be conferred upon men of more mature age, even upon those living in the married state. It may also be conferred upon suitable young men, for whom the law of celibacy must remain intact. (Lumen Gentium 29)
In 1967 (a mere decade after Pope Pius XII's statement), Pope Paul VI promulgated an Apostolic Letter motu proprio, Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, restoring the permanent diaconate to the Church.  (It's not a very long document, and I'd recommend it for anyone interested in knowing about the vocation and duties of the permanent diaconate.)

Then, five years later, Pope Paul VI promulgated another Apostolic Letter Ad Pascendum, containing further norms for the permanent diaconate.  (This too is a short document and recommended reading.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bible Study: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B (October 25, 2009)
Opening Prayer
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.     Amen.
St. Jerome:                       Pray for us.
St. John Vianney:             Pray for us.
St. Mark:                         Pray for us.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful.       And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created.       And You will renew the face of the earth.
O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful … Through Christ our Lord.     Amen.

First Reading – Jeremiah 31:7-9
7 Thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
      exult at the head of the nations;
      proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered his people,
      the remnant of Israel.
8 Behold, I will bring them back
      from the land of the north;
I will gather them from the ends of the world,
      with the blind and the lame in their midst,
the mothers and those with child;
      they shall return as an immense throng.
9 They departed in tears,
      but I will console them and guide them;
I will lead them to brooks of water,
      on a level road, so that none shall stumble.
For I am a father to Israel,
      Ephraim is my first-born.
Psalm 126:1-6
1 When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
      we were like men dreaming.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
      and our tongue with rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
      "The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us;
      we are glad indeed.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
      like the torrents in the southern desert.
5 Those that sow in tears
      shall reap rejoicing.
6 Although they go forth weeping,
      carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
      carrying their sheaves.
Gospel – Mark 10:46-52
46 As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.  47 On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."
48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me."
49 Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."
So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you."
50 He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.  51 Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see."
52 Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you."
Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

1)      Why is Psalm 126:1-6 a fitting "response" to the First Reading?  (This is why it is called a "Responsorial Psalm")
2)      The Jewish exile is cast as a farmer going out to sow seed, and their return to Jerusalem as a farmer returning with a harvest. (Ps. 126:5-6)  Why does the psalmist use this imagery?  How was the exile like sowing seed, and the return like a harvest?
3)      What links can you find between the First Reading and Psalm, and the Gospel?
a.       Coming back from the north (Jer. 31:8)
b.      The blind and the lame in their midst (Jer. 31:8)
c.       An immense throng (Jer. 31:8)
d.      Returning to Zion (Jerusalem) (Ps. 126:1)
e.       The Lord doing great things (Ps. 126:3)
4)      Bartimaeus called Jesus "Son of David".  What does the title mean?  How would Bartimaeus know this about Jesus?
5)      Remember last week's Gospel?
    35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
    "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
36 Jesus replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?"
In Mark 10:36, Jesus asks James and John basically the same question that He asks Bartimaeus in Mark 10:50.  Why did Jesus grant Bartimaeus' request?  What was the difference between Bartimaeus' request and that of James and John?
6)      What "faith" is Jesus speaking about when he says that Bartimaeus' faith has saved him (literally:  "made you whole")?
7)      How does Bartimaeus respond to Jesus differently from the rich young man from two weeks ago?
To put it differently:  What does Jesus tell Bartimaeus to do after He cures him, and what does Bartimaeus do?
8)      What was Bartimaeus sacrificing by asking Jesus to cure his blindness?  What "crutches" do you lean on that you need to ask God to heal?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Love and the Child

I present this with due respect to Francis Thompson:
'Why do you so bustle,
And in my womb do quake?
Forsooth, you do but chafe me,
This choice is mine to make:
You will be loved if so I choose,
When it liketh me!'

So I heard a mother,
Confusèd, confronted,
Rebellious against love's arms,
Make her peevish cry.

To the tender God I turn:--
'Thy blessing now I see:
Whoe'er receives a child in love,
Receives the Son of Thee.'

Thompson's original poem reads thus:
'Why do you so clasp me,
And draw me to your knee?
Forsooth, you do but chafe me,
I pray you let me be:
I will be loved but now and then
When it liketh me!'

So I heard a young child,
A thwart child, a young child
Rebellious against love's arms,
Make its peevish cry.

To the the tender God I turn:--
'Pardon, Love most High!
For I think those arms were even Thine,
And that child even I.'

Rome preparing for massive Anglican influx

There have been meetings held today in England and Rome to this effect:  the Holy See is preparing an Apostolic Constitution which will establish the structure by which Anglicans may enter the Catholic Church without having to sacrifice liturgically and spiritually significant traditions which have grown over the past 450 years.

With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: "We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter."

These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. "Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey," Cardinal Levada said.

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. "The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans," Cardinal Levada went on to say: "They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion."

According to Levada: "It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith."

Background information

Since the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Papal Authority, the Church of England has created its own doctrinal confessions, liturgical books, and pastoral practices, often incorporating ideas from the Reformation on the European continent. The expansion of the British Empire, together with Anglican missionary work, eventually gave rise to a world-wide Anglican Communion.

Throughout the more than 450 years of its history the question of the reunification of Anglicans and Catholics has never been far from mind. In the mid-nineteenth century the Oxford Movement (in England) saw a rekindling of interest in the Catholic aspects of Anglicanism. In the early twentieth century Cardinal Mercier of Belgium entered into well publicized conversations with Anglicans to explore the possibility of union with the Catholic Church under the banner of an Anglicanism "reunited but not absorbed".

At the Second Vatican Council hope for union was further nourished when the Decree on Ecumenism (n. 13), referring to communions separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, stated that: "Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place."

Since the Council, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have created a much improved climate of mutual understanding and cooperation. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) produced a series of doctrinal statements over the years in the hope of creating the basis for full and visible unity. For many in both communions, the ARCIC statements provided a vehicle in which a common expression of faith could be recognized. It is in this framework that this new provision should be seen.

In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document "Life in Christ"—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

In the meantime, many individual Anglicans have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sometimes there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some "corporate" structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a "pastoral provision" adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982. In these cases, the Catholic Church has frequently dispensed from the requirement of celibacy to allow those married Anglican clergy who desire to continue ministerial service as Catholic priests to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement.
For more details, stay tuned to:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Support a Catholic Speaker!

I'm still working on getting my interview with Jeff Cavins worked out. But in the mean time, please consider supporting a Catholic speaker by checking out Matthew Warner's project on his blog, Fallible Blogma.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rationale behind the translation: "everlasting" and "eternal"

What follows is a brief exchange between "Larry" from Pennsylvania and myself from the 4marks Liturgy Forum:

Larry: I don't understand why they have switched eternal to everlasting and vice versa.

It's good that you bring this up. I'm writing a book on the new translation, and I want to make sure I don't overlook issues such as this one.

(There is no change in the Apostles' Creed, where "life everlasting" is still translated as "life everlasting".)

The new translation does change ONE instances of "eternal" to "everlasting", and MANY instances "everlasting" to "eternal", in the prayers of the priest.
  • In the absolution at the end of the Penitential Rite, the priest will no longer say "bring us to everlasting life" but "lead us ... into eternal life."
  • In the Eucharistic Prayers, "everlasting covenant" will become "eternal covenant."
  • In Eucharistic Prayer I, "the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation" will become "the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation." (This is the only place where the new translation uses "everlasting" in the prayers of the priest.)
  • In Eucharistic Prayer III, "make us an everlasting gift to you" will become "make of us an eternal offering to you."
  • In Eucharistic Prayer IV, the phrase during the epiclesis "he left us as an everlasting covenant" will become "he left us as an eternal covenant."
  • The priest's private prayers as he receives Communion will change from "everlasting life" to "eternal life."
So, why the changes?

Larry: It looks to me however like they just wanted to switch the wording around, because they switched it just about everywhere even where the present wording makes more sence.

The major driving force behind the new translation is greater fidelity to the Latin text of the Mass, respecting the richness of the Latin words and trying to reproduce that richness faithfully in the vernacular. Let me use one example from the above:

In Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon), the Latin text reads Panem sanctum vitae aeternae, et Calicem salutis perpetuae. In the current ("old") translation, this is "the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation." The future ("new") translation will be "the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation." The new translation respects the vitae aeternae, rendering it as "eternal life" rather than just "life", and it respects the salutis perpetuae as "everlasting salvation" instead of "eternal salvation." This is for two reasons: first, the Latin uses two different words (aeternae and perpetuae), so the English translation should (unless there's a good reason) use two different English words ("eternal" for aeternae and "everlasting" for perpetuae, i.e. perpetual).

The word "eternal" is a direct translation (cognate) of aeternae, which is why the decision was made to use "eternal life" rather than "everlasting life" there. (Granted, in the Apostles' Creed, the phrase vitam aeternam is translated "life everlasting".) Because the words aeternae and perpetuae are used in immediate succession, it would not respect the Latin text to say "eternal life" and then "eternal salvation".

Now, I would posit that "everlasting life" is different from "eternal life". Everlasting life means life without end: both the saved and the damned will have everlasting life. But only the saved will experience eternal life, because the saved will share in the life of the Most Holy Trinity, God, Who lives eternally. Eternal life has neither beginning nor end, and when we come to share in the divine nature of God, we will share in His eternal life, not just the everlasting life which all souls will come to know.

So our salvation is not eternal salvation but everlasting, because we are not created saved, but become saved at some point in time.

If you would like, I can address the other changes too, but I think my explanations could be inferred from what I've said here about this one particular example (which uses both "eternal" and "everlasting").

Larry: I think they are changing too much at once...

There are people who said that (and are still saying that) about the changes in the 1960's. ;)

The changes that will be made are important and necessary (in my opinion and in the opinion of the Holy See). They've been in the works for nearly 10 years. It's less efficient (and more expensive) to make translation changes little by little, because that would mean new liturgical books would need to be issued and re-issued.

Jesus is God

I made the mistake of reading some of the forums on  People, is a place to buy books, DVDs, gadgets, etc.  It should not be a place to engage in deep theological discussions.  But some people do anyway.  In a discussion on the Trinity, one person posted some very helpful quotes from the book of the prophet Isaiah and from the book of Revelation that show that Jesus truly is God.

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." (Isaiah 44:6)

"Hearken to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am He, I am the first, and I am the last." (Isaiah 48:12)

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Rev. 1:8)

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast ... he laid his right hand upon me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." (Rev. 1:12-13, 17-18)

"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: `The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.'" (Rev. 2:8)

And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."  And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment.  He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son." (Rev. 21:5-7)

"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev. 22:12-13)

He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20)

Not your Sunday best

Guess which parish church has a dress code which considers the following attire as inappropriate:
transparent clothing; strapless garments; any garment which exposes the stomach or any intimate area of the body, tank-tops; halter tops; dresses, skirts and shorts which are shorter than four (4) inches from the middle of the knee; garments with obscene logos; low-cut blouses; obvious lack of undergarments.
Your guess is as good as mine.  Those happen to be the clothing restrictions set by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for visitors of inmates at federal detention facilities (PDF).

Diogenes at Off the Record on wonders aloud: "So ask yourself: did the persons who presented themselves to receive the Eucharist at your parish last Sunday meet the prison decency code?"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

5 reasons to read Taylor Marshall's new book, The Crucified Rabbi

This is reposted from Taylor Marshall's blog. I'm looking forward to buying and reading and reviewing this book!

At last! My new book The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity is finally published!

It's a book about how the Catholic Church best fulfills the Old Testament promises with regard to Messianic prophecies (over 300 listed). This includes analysis of Catholic baptism, the Holy Eucharist, the Papacy, the role and place of the Blessed Virgin Mary, liturgy, architecture, prayers for the dead, saints, martyrdom, suffering, the afterlife, etc.

It's now available at

Here are five reasons why you should read The Crucified Rabbi:
  1. The Crucified Rabbi lists over 300 Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. Similar lists have been compiled by Protestants, but this treatment is unique in that it also includes Messianic prophecies from the Deuterocanoncial books (e.g. Wisdom, 2 Maccabees, etc.). As far as I know, this is the only book that has a full "Catholic" treatment.
  2. The Crucified Rabbi explains how the Old Covenant foretold a structure resembling the Catholic Church. As Pope Benedict observed, the Jewish notion of "kingdom" is the key to understanding Messianic prophecy and the shape and structure of the Catholic Church.
  3. The Crucified Rabbi demonstrates how the Catholic sacraments derive from the rituals and signs of the Old Covenant economy. We examine how baptism fulfills the ceremonial washings of the Moses and how its rooted in creation imagery. We also examine the Passover as it relates to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass--showing the Eucharist must be sacrificial and that Christ must be eaten as the Lamb.
  4. The Crucified Rabbi shows how traditional Catholic architecture and vestments derive their significance from the Old Covenant Temple and other ceremonial features. As far as I know, no other book has this sort of analysis all in one place.
  5. In The Crucified Rabbi, I explain how a chance meeting with a Jewish rabbi, back when I was an Episcopalian priest, led me to renounce the Anglican ministry and embrace the Catholic Faith.
Please visit the profile page for the book on here: The Crucified Rabbi at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two Interviews

This past Friday, I was interviewed by Dave Lozinger of Hearing God's Call, a Catholic Radio blog for the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.  The interview will be podcasted later this month.

This coming Thursday, I will be interviewed on the Son Rise Morning Show, a three-hour Catholic Radio morning show (6 AM - 9 AM) out of Cincinnati, Ohio produced by Sacred Heart Radio.  I'll be on starting at 7:10 AM.  This is during the coveted simulcast-on-EWTN-radio hour (from 7 AM - 8 AM), so you can listen via Sacred Heart Radio or EWTN Radio, either online or on your radio thanks to your local EWTN Radio affiliate.

I'll be talking about Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, of course.  Many thanks to Matt Swaim (the producer), Rich Leonardi (who name-dropped The Cross Reference (specifically my Lectionary and Catechism search tools) on the show this morning, and who gave a reference to my book on his blog Ten Reasons), and Brian Patrick (the host).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The over-arching principle of dialogue; or, why Jewish-Catholic dialogue in America is floundering

Back in 1964 (in the midst of the Second Vatican Council), Pope Paul VI wrote his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, "His Church" – that is, Jesus Christ's Church.  This encyclical mentioned dialogue between the Church and the world.  Pope Paul explained that there is "a series of concentric circles around the central point in which God has placed us." (ES 96)

One of these circles
is vast in its extent, yet it is not so far away from us. It is made up of the men who above all adore the one, Supreme God whom we too adore.

We refer to the children, worthy of our affection and respect, of the Hebrew people, faithful to the religion which we call that of the Old Testament. Then to the adorers of God according to the conception of Monotheism, the Moslem religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God. And also to the followers of the great Afro-Asiatic religions.

Obviously we cannot share in these various forms of religion nor can we remain indifferent to the fact that each of them, in its own way, should regard itself as being the equal of any other and should authorize its followers not to seek to discover whether God has revealed the perfect and definitive form, free from all error, in which he wishes to be known, loved and served. Indeed, honesty compels us to declare openly our conviction that there is but one true religion, the religion of Christianity. It is our hope that all who seek God and adore Him may come to acknowledge its truth.

But we do, nevertheless, recognize and respect the moral and spiritual values of the various non-Christian religions, and we desire to join with them in promoting and defending common ideals of religious liberty, human brotherhood, good culture, social welfare and civil order. For our part, we are ready to enter into discussion on these common ideals, and will not fail to take the initiative where our offer of discussion in genuine, mutual respect, would be well received. (ES 107-108)
What he is saying is that these other religions regard themselves as at least as good (if not better) than any other religion, and certainly they wouldn't promote among their own adherents the idea of seeking "the perfect and definitive" revelation of God.  The Catholic Church believes (and cannot believe otherwise) that "there is but one true religion, the religion of Christianity."  And she believes that dialogue with members of other religions can never be an excuse for us to fail to declare that conviction, that the Christian religion alone is true.

With that in mind, I think you should read this PDF ("Note on Ambiguities Contained in Reflections on Covenant and Mission"), followed by this PDF (a response to rabbis who were offended by the first document) and this PDF ("Statement of Principles" on Jewish-Catholic dialogue).

What are we doing!?  Dialogue between Catholics and Jews is being systematically neutered by people who don't want to hurt feelings by making bold claims of objective truth.  The Catholic Church is convicted that her religion is the true one, God's perfect and definitive revelation of Himself and how He wishes to be served and loved.  Read the Acts of the Apostles:  see what Sts. Peter and Paul did to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone, especially to Jews.  See what they risked!

And now we are supposed to accept that dialogue is not supposed to contain an invitation to baptism.  Really?  That's what the very first dialogue contained!
[Acts 2:14] But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. ... [36] Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ [Messiah], this Jesus whom you crucified."

[37] Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"

[38] And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [39] For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."  [40] And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation."

[41] So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Are we really going to abandon the Great Commission?  Is it no longer permitted to invite Jews to baptism?  This sort of thing really saddens me, that some Catholics in America have forgotten the essential evangelical character of the Christian religion.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Prayer request: Russ in debate with supporters of assisted suicide

From the Tiber Jumper, Russ Rentler:
On Wednesday morning at 9: 45 AM, I and another pro-life physician will be participating in a debate with PA senator Daylin Leach who co-sponsored the Death With Dignity Act and a Allentown journalist who is a supporter of Jack Kevorkian as well as assisted suicide.  The show, Business Matters will later be broadcast on WFMZ TV. We ask for your prayers for wisdom and grace to address our opponents with a spirit of charity. Based on the columns by this journalist who has written about me and my opposition to Physician Assisted Suicide, I don't suspect this will be a gentlemanly chat. But we shall see.

Jesus, Paul, and James on works

A woman posting on the Coming Home Network Forums writes:
i have an ongoing problem in that i am engaged to a man who believes in once saved, always saved and all we have to do is believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior....while i do that, i also believe that it matters what we do on this earth.
So does Jesus Christ:
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?  Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:46-49)

"My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." (Luke 8:21)

"I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead.  Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God." (Rev. 3:1-2)

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16)
So does St. Paul:
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:9)
So does St. James:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22-24)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Words from Bishop Serratelli

On Tuesday of this past week, I mailed a letter and a copy of Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People to the Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, NJ, and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship.
Your Excellency:

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. My name is Jeffrey Pinyan, and I am a parishioner of Queenship of Mary in Plainsboro, in the diocese of Metuchen. I am writing to you in your capacity as the chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship. Since experiencing a reawakening of my faith three years ago, I have spent a great amount of time reading the documents of the Church concerning the sacred liturgy. I have been closely following the developments concerning the new English translation of the latest edition of the Roman Missal.

As soon as the "study text" of the Ordinary of the Mass was made available last year, I set myself to studying it and researching the theology and symbolism of the Mass. Between the months of February and July, I spent at least a whole day a week writing the book I have enclosed with this letter. Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People is my personal contribution to the continued call from the Church – from Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium, to the 1985 Extraordinary Synod's report, to Pope Benedict XVI's Sacramentum Caritatis – for a "mystagogical catechesis" on the liturgy. It was my goal to interpret the liturgical rites in the light of salvation history, explain their purpose and symbolism, and relate them to the Christian life. (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis 64) In doing so, I sought to provide numerous Scriptural annotations, references to the Catechism, and quotes from Church Fathers.

Each chapter begins with a quote from the Old Testament and the New Testament as a testimony to the unity of Scripture and the roots of Christian liturgical worship. Each chapter ends with questions centered on the three goals of mystagogy (interpretation, explanation, relation), suitable for private reflection or group discussion. The introduction to the book includes a generous sampling of Magisterial instruction regarding "participation" in the Mass, the purpose of liturgical catechesis, and the roles of Latin and the vernacular in the liturgy.

I have sent this book to you for two reasons. First, as a pledge that there are many in the Church – clergy, religious, and laity – who support the revised English translation, and who are prepared to render whatever assistance they are capable of. Second, as a "first fruits" (if I may be so bold) of the latest call by the bishops of our country for catechetical resources for the faithful which will help to acclimate them to the coming new translation. My book, while focused on the prayers of the congregation, is also suitable for clergy and could be useful for those charged with liturgical catechesis of their flocks. I have already begun work on a second volume which covers the prayers of the priest. I plan on sending a complimentary copy of the first volume to all the bishops of New Jersey and to several other bishops in the United States.

I am aware that you are a busy man, responsible not only for the care of souls in your diocese but also for the promotion of the liturgy throughout the United States. Still, if you can find time in your schedule, I would be most grateful if I could meet with you in person about this book and its potential, not only for our country, but for all English-speaking Catholics around the world. At the very least, your blessing and endorsement of this book would be most beneficial to this little apostolate of mine. Whatever you decide on the matter, I remain

Faithfully yours in Christ Jesus,
Jeffrey Pinyan
Today, I received a reply (dated October 1):
Dear Mr. Pinyan,

Many, many thanks for sending me the copy of your new book, Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People and also your wonderful letter.

In fact, on Monday I leave for the meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. I will take the book with me and read it.

When I get back, we could arrange an appointment. I would be happy to meet with you.

God bless.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, S.T.D., S.S.L., D.D.
Bishop of Paterson
I am quite excited.  My timing was great, thanks be to God!  Stay tuned for developments!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Eucharistic Adoration: Rev. McBrien vs. the Magisterium

Here's what Rev. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame (and the mis-named National Catholic Reporter) says:
Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI's personal endorsement of eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.  Now that most Catholics are literate and even well-educated, the Mass is in the language of the people (i.e, the vernacular), and its rituals are relatively easy to understand and follow, there is little or no need for extraneous eucharistic devotions. The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.  Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.
And here's what an actual teacher of the Church, Cristoph Cardinal Schönborn says:
The prelate recalled the example of St. John Vianney, who instructed his parishioners to focus on the tabernacle in prayer, stating, "He is there, he is there!" ... Cardinal Schönborn urged, "Do everything possible, and the impossible, to allow the faithful and persons seeking God -- whom God awaits -- to have access to Jesus in the Eucharist: Don't close the doors of your churches, please!" ... "Let us leave our churches open!"