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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Less than a month from Rome and...

... I have a new life. Weird how that happens.

One of these days I'm going to stop talking about myself all the time on here and get back to my real love of pondering all things Divine... but at the moment I guess you get to hear about the latest life news.

I've been pretty quiet online the last couple of weeks, but I've had good reason! Switching continents, finishing an undergraduate career, landing a Providential place to live, and seeking out gainful and self-sustaining employment tend to make life interesting to say the least.

However - I am very happy to report that the jet lag is gone, the credits are (slowly) transferring back over here to polish off my transcript, I'm quite happy for the moment in a wonderful apartment (that also happens to be at a parish - with a Blessed Sacrament chapel downstairs!), and, finally, I am thrilled to report that I have just returned from my second day on the job!

I began work on Monday as a Director of Faith Formation at a parish in the Twin Cities metro region. It is a position that I by no means expected to get, although it is one that was of great interest to me, as I have not had a lot of experience in youth ministry or RE teaching. However, as soon as I came into this parish it just felt like a good "fit" for me, and apparently they agreed! Thankfully, the parish is quite solid theologically, with a great staff, and a VERY active parishoner base (example: they have had Perpetual Adoration for over 10 years, and the parish is only about 700 families!). The kids and parents, I'm told, are a great group and have been getting great formation for years already. Additionally, I understand that there are a great many committed volunteers who are more than happy to work with me (the "newbie") to get settled and sorted out. All in all, very encouraging, and possibly the best place for a new Faith Formation Director to start!

Oh, and just to throw this out there - it so happens that in the area is another young DRE, a graduate of Franciscan U in Steubenville. She was at daily Mass at my new parish this morning and dropped a note at the office for me to call her. We met up for lunch and it was great to talk to her! Well, she was quite excited that there was another "peer" working in the area's parishes, and we spent a great deal of time going over the challenges and blessings that is the Catholic culture here in this corner of the metro. Already we were beginning to throw around some ideas for brainstorming between our two parishes and the surrounding community of parishes. She will be, God-willing, both a great new friend and also a support for me in this scary new world of Faith Formation and Youth Ministry responsibilities.

And that would be just the latest in an amazing series of Providential experiences that has convinced me, over and over again, that no matter how inadquete or excited I may feel at times, it is not really I who is choosing to do this, but God who has chosen me for it. I must simply keep praying and trusting that He who has begun this good work will bring it to fulfillment, in whatever way He so wills.

So far, the two big things on my plate are, firstly, to aid in bringing 23 of our youth to the Steubenville North conference THIS WEEKEND at the UST campus (yikes!), and then to work with the parish to come up with a new format for the K-8 faith formation, going from weekly "CCD" style to monthly Family Formation. Both promise to be exciting and also daunting, for very different reasons!

For this blog, then, I will continue to post to it, but things are going to be unsettled for a bit I'm afraid. But, I love to "FEED THE BLOG!" as they say. :) So stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Always be ready to give a reason for your hope

Ok, get ready. This has been on my heart for quite some time, and now suddenly Gerald is asking for good news. Good news? I'll tell you about some good news!! Forgive me if this is long and a bit rambling, I am basically giving myself leave to just WRITE whatever is on my heart right now...

For all the constant "coverage" of the St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocese online and in the blog world, I think the full story of the amazing conversion that this entire archdiocese has gone through needs to be told again and again - to give hope and encouragement to those in other troubled dioceses and parishes. I never get tired of witnessing to the graces of God in our very blessed area of Minnesota, even while I continue to be saddened and cringe at the admittedly awful tales that have also emerged (usually to much greater fanfare) from our parishes and colleges. To help testify to this regional springtime of renewal, I am going to attempt now to relate my own tale of conversion and RE-version.

I came to this archdiocese "late", after Archbishop Harry Flynn had already been bishop here for many years and things were, I see now, definitely already on the upswing. The first few priestly "harvests" of Flynn's renewed efforts at vocations outreach, begun almost immediately after he took the helm here, were recently ordained and popping up at various parishes. Including one very fine and outstanding young, newly-ordained priest at my own neighborhood parish, which happened to be the Cathedral of St. Paul itself.

I had been raised Catholic, but had drifted away as many of the young adult generation now have done. I had gone to technical school and graduated, and I didn't know what to do with my life, career-wise or otherwise. Everything was a muddled mess. I moved to the Twin Cities partly as an "escape" from a seemingly meaningless life in rural Wisconsin, pursuing a career that I knew I wasn't good at and wasn't meant to do. That ended in failure a few months later, and I was asked to resign, it wasn't a surprise to me, it was only my stubborness that had refused to accept that I should have quit!

I had already been going back to school in Wisconsin part time, and had already made arrangements to transfer to the massive University of Minnesots-Twin Cities campus. Well, with this final kick out of my former career plans, I did enroll, but switched majors again, and began classes spring semester of 2003. As divine Providence ordained, when I had moved to the Cities in the previous summer, I for some reason had it on my heart that I HAD to find an apartment near the Cathedral. I didn't care much about the faith, but as soon as I saw that building from the freeway on the way into the metro, I was attracted to it. I did end up finding a wonderful apartment and moving right near the church. My parents, pleased at this, were hopeful that it would entice me to return to Mass. It didn't, I only went when they came to visit me and hounded me to go. But that spring, as I soon discovered that I didn't like the UofM, and didn't like depending on my parents to help me pay rent and tuition (though I thank God for that blessing now, I did not nearly appreicate it enough!). For some reason, I looked out my window (which overlooked the Cathedral's gloriously restored copper dome) one Sunday morning and decided to go to Mass.

At that first Mass, I encountered, for the first time, a YOUNG priest who actually seemed to believe what he was doing was worth my attention. His homily, then as always, was amazing for its breadth and depth and passionate presentation. And it spoke to me directly, as in a brief moment he talked about the Catholic Studies program at the University of St. Thomas. Oddly, when I was in high school I had wanted to go to St. Thomas, not because of faith reasons, but just... because. I liked it. But it was too expensive. Now, hearing him speak about it, I felt tugged - why couldn't I go there now? I had a new job, and I would be transferring from the state system with no debt.

I hated the UofM, because of it's size, but also because the political climate there quite simply repelled me - every class I endured professors and students condemninig my pro-life beliefs (always at least minimally maintained, praised be God) and my family's faith, and all the philosophy I was encountering just didn't seem RIGHT. Nietschze drove me back to the Church, I say now. I still pray often for all those poor souls who are entrapped blissfully in so many insane colleges and universities, selling their souls and consciences for empty promises of "happiness".

Anyway, after that Mass, I actually made the courageous effort to follow this priest on his way to the sacristy and ask him about his time at St. Thomas... one thing led to another, he encouraged me to transfer into the Catholic Studies program (I thought: Yeah, right, what are you, nuts?) instead of continuing in my major at the UofM. We chatted a bit, and I left. It so happened that at that Mass, there was an announcement made for all interested young adults (FYI, young adults in this context means ages 21-39, approximately) to meet for a brunch at a restaurant nearby... I didn't really want to go, but at the same time I was quite lonely, I didn't like the students at the UofM because of their immorality, but I didn't think I really wanted any "churchy" friends either. What I found was my best friend, who very quietly encouraged me, by just being who she was, to reconsider my faith. She introduced me to the THRIVING Catholic young adult circles of the archdiocese. Most of them are now my dearest friends, and a network of support in my work and in living out the faith.

God moves quickly when a crack opens for His grace, and before the week was out I had a major spiritual conversion, a reversion actually, and started pacing restlessly in my tiny apartment, with all its historica charm and material possessions that couldn't satisfy me, eventually falling to my knees and sobbing for Christ and only Him. Somehow, I knew that in order to find Him, I had to go back to church, and not the Protestant churches that I had frequented before leaving worship entirely, but back to the Catholic Church that I had ignored and scorned for so long. In order to go back to the Church, I HAD to go to confession first. I didn't even believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ then, but somehow I believed in confession, Lord only knows how.

The only priest I knew was that aforementioned young priest at the Cathedral, who didn't know anything about me, who seemed to think I was a "good Catholic" who would just LOVE to be in a Catholic Studies program at a college! It took me forever to call him, but I finally did. And got his voice mail (a very common occurance I would discover over the years that followed!). He very quietly and gently received me back into the Church a few days later, on a Friday afternoon in the middle of Lent, at the 3:00 hour of mercy. My first penance? The Divine Mercy chaplet. He even took me over to the Cathedral's Sacred Heart chapel to help me get started on it, before leaving me alone to experience being reunited with God. (I count one of my greatest blessings of my past year of study in Europe to be the opportunity to live, pray and worship at the Sancturary of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland where St. Faustina's tomb is in the original convent chapel.)

From that moment, everything just got swept away in a flood of grace, and things happened VERY quickly. I returned to the Church with a huge thirst for knowledge, amply provided by my priest and all my new young adult friends. I was like a sponge, soaking it all in, and it all made sense, every problem I had was resolved intellectually and emotionally thanks to very well-formed Catholic friends, priests, and even professors - at the Catholic Studies program at St. Thomas, which I transferred into (and switched my major to!) only a few weeks after being reconciled to God and Church! I not only transferred into a different school, but threw my heart and mind into not just a different major, but THREE new majors - Catholic Studies, Philosophy, and Theology. The day I discovered Aquinas was a dream come true, my own philosophy which had conflicted so much with the philosophy at the UofM was really Thomstic in nature - Surprise! I cannot recommend enough the University of St. Thomas, with its Catholic Studies and Philosophy programs, especially after returning just a few weeks ago from an entire year of study in Rome with the Catholic Studies program at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the "Angelicum"). It was truly a year full of amazing graces that I will treasure for eternity.

Within less than a year after I came back to the Church, in this blessed Archdiocese, I had become immersed in all the fruits that have been growing quietly here. I joined up with my Cathedral priest to help found a new young adults group at the Cathedral, its first venture being the popular Theology on Tap program, all of which was blessed by God - the group continues to thrive today with over 800 members. I was also involved in the newly formed Frassati Society, a young adults group that works to combine activity with prayer, with camping trips and service projects and all kinds of other "fun" things with tons of other young people who are committed to Christ and to sharing that love with others. I soon discovered the peace that understanding the Theology of the Body brings, as there was a large group of young adults who met weekly to go through a study of John Paul II's compiled Wednesday audiences on the topic of human sexuality and God's plan for us as men and women (this was right when Christopher West was beginning to become the key person on the lecture circut on this, so I was able to benefit from his works as well). I was also getting involved with various other groups and activities going on, the Emmanuel Community, Saint Paul's Outreach, Steubenville North youth conference, the pro-life and service work of the Franciscan Brothers of Peace during the Terri Schiavo tragedy. I rediscovered more of the beauty and reverence of our Catholic liturgical heritage through Latin Mass at the famous St. Agnes parish, the indult Tridentine Mass at St. Augusine's parish, and the Byzantine Divine Liturgy at the Franciscan Brothers of Peace. I celebrated my golden birthday on a Corpus Christi Sunday by participating in my first Archdiocesan Eucharistic Procession, with a thousand of my new family members down the streets of St. Paul and ending at my beloved Cathedral. I participated for the first time in praying the Rosary by being part of the twice-yearly Rosary procession of the Archdiocese, from the State Captiol to, yes, the Cathedral again, joined by another thousand people in candlelight vigil. I prayed in front of the local Planned Parenthood clinic with young college kids from St. Thomas and the SJV seminary, stood vigil for life with the Franciscan Brother of Peace (they get around!), and became involved with the hardworking young adults who are staffing the Total Life-Care Centers for pregnant women and new mothers. The list goes on, endlessly.

I quickly became friends with Catholics of all walks of life, and of all ages, all of them knowledgeable about their faith and committed to living it in their lives. I met many seminarians though my studies at St. Thomas and through the Cathedral's group, quite a few of whom are now ordained priests for the archdiocese - we had 15 priests ordained last year, and we have many more amazing guys to come, as the local college seminary is OVERFLOWING. St. John Vianney seminary is now renting 4 off-campus houses to have enough room for all the seminarians there! The major seminiary is also greatly improved (I have heard many horror stories of the "dark days" of a decade or two ago...), both in the quality of seminarians themselves (with great spiritual directors and a solid vocations director on board), and with a number of solid priests being sent to Rome for study and only now beginning to trickle back and take key teaching positions there. All other vocations are also being greatly encouraged, at least 4 of the women that I have met in the past two years have entered religious life, a lot of men have been discerning priesthood, others are discerning consecrated life, and of course a ton of couples have emerged and been married, all with true concern for the will of God and in faithfulness to Him.

Soon after I came back to the Church, my new best friend introduced me, very calmly and easily, to the joy of Eucharistic Adoration (she was surprised that I didn't know what it was all about, she was just excited to show me a parish's particularly beautiful adoration chapel - she had no idea that she was going to have to explain the whole purpose of it and why it was so good!). Turns out that the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis has the HIGHEST concentration of Perpetual Adoration chapels of anywhere in the US, and maybe the world!! We have over 35 of them, I think, where our Lord is visible in the Blessed Sacrament for us to adore and pray before at all hours of the day. No matter where you live, there is one near you - in one place I lived there were 4 Adoration chapels within a mile or two! Adoration was key to my growth in the spiritual life, and it has often been given as the real reason for the renewal of this entire Archdiocese, with so many faithful adorers constantly at prayer for the intentions of our Pope and bishop. Adoration is a huge part of my ongoing spiritual conversion.

So many young adults are now taking positions at area parishes and youth programs, and in the diocese, it is really at this point that the full flowering of the new evangelization that John Paul II called us to can happen, with serious Catholics entering into their vocations and careers with their "eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" (Heb. 12:2). I can only foresee even more beautiful things in the future for this Archdiocese, by the grace of God and our active cooperation with Him. For all our problems here, and there are still many as a lot of you know all too well, all I have to do is see the amazing things that God has done in my own life and in the lives of the people I have met in the past three years to see that there is so much HOPE here. All of us here in the St. Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese have been entrusted with a great light for the universal Church, a light that we must now do our best to defend and share with the world. May the Lord continue to bless us who are priviledged to live here, and those who will be priviledged to move here in the future - may we all come to know, love and serve our Lord more fully in this life so that we may be truly happy with Him in the next!

God bless you all, no matter where you are, or what struggles you or your diocese is facing - Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. Qui fecit caelum et terram!

Faced by all those men without faith, without hope; by minds desperately near the borders of anguish, seeking for a meaning in their life, you found your purpose: Him!

This discovery will permanently inject a new happiness into your existence, it will transform you, and present you with an immense daily hoard of beautiful things of which you were unaware, and which show you the joyful expanse of that broad path that leads you to God.

~St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, point 83

Monday, July 17, 2006

You need to know this.

All of us do - I have watched over the past few days, idly at first I admit, the events currently taking place between Israel and the militant Islamic forces (it's certainly not just between the Palestinians and the Israelis anymore!). It seemed like just more of the same, more people killing other people and other people blowing themselves up. Endless tragedy.

But now it's different. This could be something much bigger, with much farther reaching consequences. See Christopher Blosser's roundup and commentary, and don't miss his link on the top of the page to American Papist's own overview/timeline.

I know little, and so won't comment further other than to say A) I think all of us, particularly Christians, need to sit up and pay attention now, and B) Josh Tevino's take on the European response to this new crisis is spot on. After being in Europe for a year, and having in-depth conversations with Germans, Austrians, French, and Italians about war, peace, justice, and what to do in our modern world about all of it, I'll tell you that the bottom line is that Europe is defeated already. They won't begin to fight because they think they've already lost, and so their whole goal is to ignore it as long as possible, "keep the peace" as long as possible, and maybe all the conflict will just go away and they can continue to live their "normal" lives. They are, as my French friends put it, "undergoing post-WWII stress syndrome, as you Americans might call it". They are so traumatized culturally by WWII, they want to do everything (by doing nothing) to avoid another one. Problem is that, one way or another, it's not going to work. Either they'll end up in another massive war by letting things get too out of control, or they're going to end up WISHING they would be able to.

Yikes. Time for us to pray to our Lady, as our Holy Father has begged us to do - that she may intercede for us all, for a true and lasting peace in the Middle East, in the most holy land on earth, and that all those who are in a position to make a difference may receive the grace to know what to do, and to then act with the virtues of courage and fortitude. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, ora pro nobis!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Witnessing an answer to the call of God

AdoroTeDevote met a Methodist minister at a Catholic Biblical conference, and thus has become a witness to the beauty of a child of God answering His call. Say a prayer right now for this minister, who like the first disciples, is preparing to leave everything behind to follow Him wholeheartedly!

And while I'm at it, let me include my plug too for the annual Called to Lead conference. I actually have never gone myself (for shame!) but I certainly intend to do so next year, God willing.

The children of today

I just got this e-mail, and no, it is not the typical "forward of a forward" chain-letter type e-mail - it is a real account, witnessed by a friend of mine just a few days ago. It is a real reminder of the state of the world today - but also a call to hope for the future!

After my doctor appointment I went to the Walmart in W.S.P. [West St. Paul] to pick up some medicine. I saw two young girls ( one who had a small child - apprx. 1 year old ) and a boy having a discussion around the video counter. The boy asked the girl with the small child why she decided to have the baby. She said because she wanted to and mentioned that her father had tried to talk her into an abortion. The young boy looked puzzeled and asked, " Why, don't you believe in abortion?" She responded emphatically, No! She mentioned how she, among other young pregnant teens were shown a video of a lady having an abortion. She said she could see the baby being killed and it seemed as if it was pleading with it's mother and saying No, no mommy. This story made quite an impression on the young boy and I could see him go through a spiritual metamorphisis right before my eyes. A wonderful witness that made my day. I wonder how this young girls father feels now, 1 year later. He's going to have to live the rest of his life knowing that initially he wanted his beautiful grandson murdered.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

AmChurch - A bigger blip on Vatican radar

Amy once again brings us the latest word from the Vatican, and jeepers, seems that there's been a lot of Roman paper coming at Bishop Skylstad and the USCCB these days.

First the new Mass translations, now a warning that in America there are cases of incorrect distribution of a parish's assets when that parish has been "suppressed" by a diocese. Key paragraph, as Amy notes:

Thus the goods and liabilities should go with the amalgamated juridic person, and not to the diocese. This would also seem to be more consonant with the requirement that the wishes of the founders, benefactors and those who have acquired rights be safeguarded, In most cases "suppressions" are in reality a "unio extinctiva" or "amalgamation" or "merger" and as such the goods and obligations do not pass to the higher juridic person, but should pertain to the public juridic person which remains or emerges from the extinctive union. The goods and liabilities should go to the surviving public juridic person, that is the enlarged parish community.

This letter covers so many things its hard to know where to begin. First of all, it is a reminder to all that parishes are geographic. Thus, all this talk about suppression generally speaking means only that a particular parish community is being merged into another one, creating a larger parish, but not in any way "getting rid" of a parish. A parish is hard to get rid of outright - you either have to have no Catholics there in the first place (and thus , or you have to kill off all the Catholics there to do that.

Secondly, it brings to mind that these days, in the scandal suing frenzy, many dioceses are scrambling to find funding. And often, perhaps, they think they can find some easy cash payouts by getting rid of a few churches and the like. One problem - this letter reminds them that the assets of the parish "should" go to the newly formed merged parish, not to the diocese. I don't know much about the canon laws that this cites, I seem to recall that there may be instances where the structure of a church community is such that it would be possible for the assets to go to the diocese. But this letter would seem to make clear that there has been some "funny business" going on in AmChurch of late. And it's connected with the scandal. The media is going to love this one.

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

It's online! In English!

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

By the way, if you've got a few bucks floating around in your pockets, it would be great if you would consider purchasing a few copies of this and donating them to your parish's youth group, confirmation class, or RCIA.

*ALL* Catholics (and those interested in the faith) are meant to have this simple, easy-to-read catechism (the full Catechism is really meant for catechists and religious education leaders - it is really dense!). Thanks to the USCCB publishing house, this book is priced much higher than it should be (I guess because they went hog-wild in making it "look good" - probably also why it took 6 months longer to get to us than the rest of the world - instead of caring enough about getting the content to the people of God). So, many parishes and groups really cannot afford to buy copies of this book on their own for their students and catechumens. The fact that it is online now is a huge help, but it still would be far better for people to actually have the book in their hands.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Hell of Gates Shall Not Prevail

I'm sure many of you have heard about the new "deal" between Richest Man Bill Gates and Second-Richest Man Warren Buffet, whereby Buffet has given Gates so many billions of his money to be used for "charitable" works - primarily for "population control and prevention" through abortion and contraceptives, mostly targeted towards eugenics projects in the Third World. With this amount of money, the culture of death now, in the eyes of the world, seems unstoppable.

The pro-life movement, at the sight of this, may be tempted to despair, knowing that the bank account for life can never compare to the outrageous amount now made available to the Planned Parenthood Industry. But, as Fr. Thomas from Human Life International reminds us, The Hell of Gates Shall Not Prevail. This article is a must read for all involved in the pro-life movement, as a reminder to us that it is ONLY when human optimism reaches the end of its rope that Christian hope can begin!

I challange each and every one of us, you and me, to look at our schedules right now and make a renewed commitment, a solid resolution, to do something for the pro-life movement, wherever we live.

The culture of death may have the billions of Gates and Buffet at hand, but money does not buy love, nor does it convert hearts. We have indivdiuals like you and me, willing to work actively in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, willing to do small things with great love for the sake of Jesus and His tiny children.

Surely you can spare an hour a week, or every two weeks, to go and pray, perhaps before an abortion clinic? Or to counsel young pregnant women going in for abortions? Or to help young women get to their pre-natal appointments, or to help your local pro-life office manage its paperwork or mind the front desk for a hour or two? Or to donate pro-life books to your library? Or to do any number of things, each one perhaps small, but carrying with them infinite value when joined to the merits of Christ! Do something!

Those of you who are students, or perhaps childless couples, or couples with kids who have grown up now and moved out, or retired people with complete freedom of time - YOU in a particular way I ask to prayerfully consider what you can do to help. Just because you do not have a family to care for at home does not mean that you do not have a family to care for!

If you've been sitting on the fence until now, just talking about the pro-life movement, or talking with family and friends about how "awful" it is - now is the time for you to stop talking and do something. Please meditate on these words of our Holy Father, and then choose to act! Do not despair at evil, fight evil with good, fight evil with God, for God Himself has chosen to fight evil through human hands, your hands!

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.
We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ.
There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, homily April 24, 2005

In the Twin Cities area, call the Total Life-Care Centers to find out what you can do to begin to help.

Throughout the country, no matter where you are, contact the Franciscan Brothers of Peace or the Sisters of Life for practical advice from pro-life workers in the streets as to how you can help, no matter what you situation in life is! They can also put you in contact with other pro-life groups active in your area that can use your time, talent, or treasure.

Let's go help our Dad save moms and babies!

Monday, July 03, 2006

The new translation - or is it the first real translation?

Read me: What's at stake in a new translation? Now with handy side-by-side chart of the Latin text and the current English Gloria!

You know, very soon after I came back to the Church I learned that the Church "used" to use Latin.

Then a little later on I learned that "the Church" still uses Latin but not our Church (dynamic equivalent translation: Maybe in some idealistic vague reality the Church still has Latin as an official language, but seriously, practically speaking there's no such thing any more as actually using Latin in a Mass).

Then, still later on I heard Latin for the first time in a church, being used in Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (thank you St. Thomas Aquinas!).

This plain fact, that I just experienced Latin in a church, thus threw into question my whole "knowledge" about Latin as previously understood - and I immediately asked where I could go to a Mass that used this language? By this time, thankfully I had found, by God's grace, a good crowd of orthodox young adults who were, needless to say, a bit better informed than the parish liturgist I had asked before. They knew what I was talking about, of course, and I was told to go to the (I later learned) famous St. Agnes parish in St. Paul.

The next Sunday I went. There, I first heard the Latin language used in a Mass, and thanks to the handy booklets I first saw the Latin text side-by-side with the modern English translation. I sure didn't know much of Latin (I still don't!) but it was immediately obvious to me that there had to be more of a difference between:

Laudamus te,
Benedicimus te,
Adoramus te,
Glorificamus te,
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam,
Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.


Lord God, heavenly King, Almighty God and Father;
We worship you, we give you thanks,
We praise you for your glory.

and between:

Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.


You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;

than met the eye.

I mean - the Latin obviously adds more lines in the first example (and has a different line ordering), and in the second one it repeats something! And, looking at the text, it was obvious that throughout the Gloria there were lines that didn't "match". Hmmm. Ok, fine. Whatever. At the time I just noted it as being "interesting" and let it be - I mean, I didn't really know what was going on, and it must be right - right?

Then, fast-forward a few weeks to an excursion to one of the coolest book stores on earth, standing before a dusty, dimly-lit bookshelf it all crystalized. I found an "old modern" Missal, you know, the one from between The Council and the 1970s - the "literal" English translation. With one glance I went, what? Here's what it gives for the Gloria translation of the two parts above:

We praise You.
We bless You.
We adore You.
We glorify You
We give You thanks for Your great Glory.
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty.


You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
You take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.

(for bing-bang-boom online texts of all three Glorias, go here.)

Wait a minute! What happened? What the heck is this current banal fluff I've been singing for my whole life in the same cheesy tune? This means that the modern texts aren't just an attempted translation, they are purposely weakened re-interpretations! I want my money back! (Ok, maybe I'm over-reacting a slight bit here - but you get the idea!) Where did this modern dumbed down "translation" come from?

ICEL. Those guys from the late 60s to the 90s who thought that we American Catholics are just too dumb to understand sacred langauge. Kind of like the "inclusive language" proponents who think that we women are so stupid that we lack the mental ability to understand when the Bible uses the word man in the universal sense. I always love that attack on my dignity as a woman. And now, whenever I heard that dreadful ICEL-speak, I just gotta love the attack on my dignity as an American Catholic.

Thankfully, Rome has spoken - and has been heard. ICEL was "reformed" some years ago, and work began on a new, actual translation of the original Latin texts of the Mass. That is what all the talk in the Catholic media has been about lately - not the "new" translation of the Mass, but I would say a restoration of a translation of the Mass.

The composers who brought us the endlessly repeated tunes of the Gloria we sing today may not be happy about having to rewrite their musical settings to accomodate a new Gloria text - but when that day comes I sure will be!

Check out more line-by-line comparisons at the Me monk. Me meander. blog

Sunday, July 02, 2006

So Many Devotions...So Little Time

A great new blog, and by a fellow TCitizen!! Today she talks about a devotion that is near and dear to my heart, as I spent many hours while in Rome this past year before it - the True Cross. There's some great stuff on there, about the story behind the relics of the True Cross as venerated in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Rome as well as information on the practice of veneration of relics in general.

If I may add a personal note to this topic, I remember that when our professors for a Church & Culture class in Rome last fall took us on a site visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce, they spoke about how, of all the relics in the Church's possession, these relics are actually some of the most reliabiliy venerated (ie, historically accurate), due to the records that we have of the cargo that St. Helena brought back from the Holy Land, and other documentation from very early on after their discovery that attests consistently as to the material found. The only "questionable" one of the lot from what I understand is the INRI sign - found only a few centuries ago "hidden" behind a wall plate in the apse of the basilica. Oddly enough, we were told by the professors that it was really the sign that seemed to point most clearly to the authenticity of the relics for the authorities concerned - due to its inscription characteristics, in the three languages, and written in the proper order, right to left, in the Jewish writing.

Even without it, however, the other relics - at least as far back as Helena's possession, are held with the highest level of authenticity by the Church. I suppose there can always be questions as regards the actual finding by St. Helena itself (people have forever doubted that the story of the miraculous dream and the cure which told which of the crosses was the True Cross could really have happened - I suppose it is a matter of faith in the end!), but that brings me to perhaps a final point. We *can* doubt relics, it is not a matter of our salvation that we venerate any particular piece of wood as being "the" Cross. There is much more apologetically that can be said about relics, but that is one of the key points about our practices that I feel many non-Catholics do not understand. Like the Rosary and any other private devotion or private revelation, the Church has never said that such things must be done or believed in order to gain eternal life - they are not necessary for our eternal salvation, but have been given to us by God, ultimately, as a way to aid us on our journey towards Him.

Anyway. Go check out
So Many Devotions...So Little Time now!

Our life is a preparation for death

That's not a bad sentence - though today's culture, which shuns any reminder of our mortality, disagrees. Rather, that sentence is a beautiful reminder of the ultimate purpose of our existence, and the infinite value of every single choice we make in this life, for every choice is another step either towards God or away from Him. It is a sentence that calls us to examine our life, to be always vigilant as Christ warned us, for we "know not the day nor the hour" of our meeting with Him face to face.

The proclamation of this ideal, of being always ready to meet the Lord, of being one of the "wise virgins" with a lamp always full of oil, is really the final legacy of Fr. Todd Reitmeyer. On my other blog, and on countless other blogs around, I spoke of his sudden death at 37 years of age on May 24th of this year.

Now, there is an amazing testimony to his life online by his friend Fr. Serna that all should read. It is not depressing, it is a beautiful witness!

The message of Fr. Todd, perhaps the entire purpose of his earthly life, can be summed up in three words - Go To Confession. His life was aimed at reconciling people with God and God with people, and at proclaiming the mercy of God at all times, so that all of us may be prepared at any time to see our Lord. Listen to him. Go to confession.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A man who's not afraid to use his mitre.

Hey guys - I'm back! From Rome to home (or from home to home?) and wow, the more things change the more they stay the same. I hadn't really planned on going back to this blog right now, but I was just wandering around the blog world and found this a href="http://www.saginaw.org/liturgy/girmsaginaw">wonderful update online regarding the Saginaw diocese, now under the fearless leadership of Bishop Carlson (would that we would get one like him for our next coadjutor - I'm still holding out for Aquila...).

So, I wonder if anyone will notice that I'm back over here? Oh well, I'm just going to start throwing stuff up here as it comes, with more extensive revisions of the blog design to come... Whoever wanders by is more than welcome to remain for a bit - welcome (back)!

Fra Angelico's Annunciation