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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

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"God Created, Linnaeus ordered", we enjoyed!

Spring Walk in the Park

Yesterday I'd never heard of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. Now I know what I was missing! (Thanks to my friend Sarah and her invitation to join her and another friend for "breakfast in the park" after Mass this morning. :)

Tucked away in the heart of the metro area is a lovely 15-acre plot of land that has been lovingly cared for for 100 years. In it are both upland forest and prairie and lowland marsh and woods, so it has a broad cross-section of plant species. This early in spring, of course, it still looks a bit brown -- but, as they say, it's not dead, it's as wick as you or me! It has been so long since I have been out in nature at this time of year, I had forgotten how clearly one can recognize the budding growth amid the dead fall refuse, and how spiritual that experience of recognition can be. New life!

All in all, we spent a wonderful couple of hours enjoying the spring sun, a breakfast of fresh fruit, having madcap adventures with squirrels falling on our heads, rambling along the trails finding the tiny flowers of God's promises, and even encountering one of the greats of the botanical world, Carolus Linnaeus (who gave the scientific world binomial nomenclature)), planting a special tree in honor of the garden's 100 year anniversary!

Enjoy the day! Happy spring!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dies irae dies illa...

The parish of St. Agnes is well known for their ability to celebrate a worthy Mass using Mozart's Requiem setting. I've been to St. Agnes for their annual All Souls' Day Mass - twice. And I was at the Requiem Mass for the Holy Father John Paul II after his death. Tonight, however, was the most memorable one yet. Tonight, I was there to pray for, and for the prayers of, Msgr. Richard Schuler. And so were a LOT of other people!

I got there an hour early, and already the crowds were pouring into the nave. I managed to snag a decent center pew about 2/3 of the way back, and also managed to find a couple of friends amidst the chaos of mourners arriving. The church was full well before 7pm, I think a lot of people were standing. According to the St. Agnes website, the church holds 1,500 people - wow! What a tribute to this man's holiness!

I don't know why, but I was frankly surprised to see the huge number of priests who turned up to concelebrate. We didn't try to count them, but we all agreed (including the priest we talked to afterwards) that there was well over 100 priests there to pay tribute to Msgr. Schuler's life and to pray for the repose of his soul. And most of these priests were young ones, associate pastors, or older retired priests. Think of how many more priests would have come except as pastors they had other responsibilities! I bet we're talking at least a 1/3 of the priests of the Archdiocese either were there or wanted to be there, to honor Msgr. Schuler. Even Archbishop Flynn was there, though he had to change the Confirmation schedule to do so (I think Bishop Pates got the duty instead, God bless the man :) and he was in choir, not concelebrating (not sure why?). Fun to see him all decked out though in choir dress! And very cool to hear him speak "on behalf of Bishop Pates and now-Archbishop Nienstedt"! (Very interesting how Msgr.'s funeral and the announcement of our new coadjutor bishop coincided!... hmmmm. ;)

Fr. Richard Hogan was the main celebrant, he is well known to many through his works in text (with Fr. LeVoir) and on EWTN on JPII's Theology of the Body. I had no idea that he was also Msgr. Schuler's nephew, and had his own vocation influenced by that great encourager of priestly discernment. You know, we will only know in heaven the real impact that Msgr. Schuler had on the Catholic Church locally and globally. Between his constant efforts to aid the universal Church in the organic growth of the liturgy and sacred music post-Vatican II and his constant efforts to foster holy vocations, which produced such a marvelous group of priests that I can't even begin to name them all (though I wish the vocations office would try - it would be really neat to do a survey/study to see how many priests point to Msgr. Schuler in some way as aiding their discernment of their call), I find it very hard to imagine what life here would be like now without the gift of that man's life to the Church. We might be an entire Archdiocese (or world!) of St. Joan of Arcs, instead of a (fairly) balanced grouping of (mostly) good, honest, orthodox faithful at (many) good parishes. Think I'm exaggerating? Take a look at that man's history and think again.

I always get shudders when I hear Mozart's Requiem Sequence ("Dies irae..."), this time was no exception. But, this time I suddenly had the impression that this Sequence was REALLY HAPPENING. I can't really explain it. I guess in the past times, even the Mass for John Paul II, I wasn't really there because it was a funeral Mass but more because it was a beautiful Mass that helped me to pray better (I hate to admit that... On the other hand, I did actually cry at the Mass for John Paul, and I didn't cry tonight. So... perhaps it's apples and oranges.) But tonight, there was a real body lying in a casket towards the front of the church. There were tons of priests. There was an honor guard of Knights of Columbus. I was surrounded by tons of people who, while they might have gotten started going to St. Agnes because of the beautiful liturgy, were now here because they knew the man for whom the Mass was being offered for and they wanted to offer it for him too in their own personal way. So when that booming Dies irae began, my shivers were for the REALNESS of it all, the literal meaning of those words, that were not just gorgeous to listen to but also speak to the depths of our heart. Death comes. And here we were praying for one such as Msgr. Schuler, as we prayed for such a one as Pope John Paul II. And I can be complacent about my own death, or take a cue from the masters. The Dies irae, I finally realize, is not so much for the one who has died, as it is for those of us who are still in the process of dying. And though that may seem to be a morbid, sorrowful thought - it is actually one of the most comforting thoughts I have ever had. We are dying. I am dying. Vita e Bella! Life is beautiful! And our death is meant to be merely a transition from life to life, from a beautiful life to THE beautiful life!

(Here is the complete text of the Dies Irae in Latin and English.)

(And, a fitting tribute to Msgr. Schuler might be to buy one of these totally POD Dies irae wall clocks from the CMAA, one of Msgr. Schuler's many sacred music apostolates!)

At the time of Holy Communion (which took forever and a day, seems like, because of all those concelebrating priests that needed to receive :) I suddenly had the thought to grab my trusty rosary beads and bring them up with me. As I walked past the good Msgr.'s casket, I paused briefly to touch my rosary to his "tomb" - guess that's a relic now, if he is indeed a saint (declared or not). I've decided that while I will continue to pray for his soul, and not let myself be TOO presumptuous, I also want to ask him to be a patron for the future of my parish, especially since it is going through a crucial time of "long range planning" now. I don't think I'm alone either (though I hope my parish and I are early enough to be higher on the list ;) and I would venture to suggest that, just maybe, there will be a lot of unforeseen "changes" happening for the better in many of our area parishes, due to the intercession of our new (hopefully - pray God) heavenly prayer warrior for all that is true, good and beautiful in our churches!

Oh, and I'm quite happy to report that at long last I have met the man behind the o{]:¬) - and I sure hope he posts himself on the Mass tonight...

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

May angels lead you into Paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your coming and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May a choir of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest.

Friday, April 20, 2007

RIP - Msgr. Richard Schuler

Requiem aeternam dona ets, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat ets.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam,
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem aeternam dona ets, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat ets.

Word has come that Msgr. Richard Schuler, the "keeper of the flame" at St. Agnes parish in St. Paul for maintaining transcendent beauty in the liturgy and in sacred music, has died, after faithfully joining his long-suffering to our Lord on the Cross.

I could go on for a very long time about the impact Msgr. Schuler has had on the Church and on so many of us individually -- perhaps most strikingly in the large numbers of priests who heard can trace their awareness of their call to the priesthood to his (and his fellow priests at St. Agnes) fostering of holy vocations.

So much to say, yet so little to tell in light of the joy that now awaits him!

I now direct you to a beautiful piece, written by one of Msgr. Schuler's fellow priests in Feb., 2006, which now works very nicely as an obituary: The Spiritual Impact of Msgr. Richar Schuler's Priestly Leadership and Example

Update: Funeral times will be available on the St. Agnes parish website as soon as they are known.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Eating cake in heaven"

What an uplifting yet tear jerker of a story this is! This one is worth sending around the e-mail lists, both to those who respect life, and those who think they do by killing it if it doesn't seem "worth" it. It is written by an Episcapalian grandfather who has a surprisingly clear and forthright respect for the Catholic Church, this piece is as memorable for how he speaks as much as for the personal situation that he speaks about.

An excerpt:

Finbar William was my grandson. Finn was anencephalic, a rare condition where the brain fails to properly form in the womb. It is always fatal. Of course, we had known for months, thanks to sonograms and other wonders of modern medicine. Upon learning of his condition, I hoped for a swift miscarriage—making the best of a bad situation. I wanted “it” over and done with, so my daughter Meg and her husband Frank could get on with their lives. It was not to be. Finn went to full term.

...When it became apparent that Meg would not miscarry early, I thought that in this circumstance, abortion was perhaps permissible. It would certainly be understandable in contrast to abortion for “convenience.” After all, I thought, we know the outcome, what’s the point in prolonging the certain outcome? Then Meg gave me a printed copy of a “staff commentary” from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which she found on the Internet. It addressed “Moral Principles Concerning Infants with Anencephaly.” Curse the Internet—I didn’t want to read it. I forced myself to read the expected, but dreaded language—“The Gospel of Life demands unwavering respect for the inherent dignity of babies born with disabilities or illnesses” (emphasis added). Not only no abortion, but also palliative care. And baptism, confirmation, and a funeral. Fine in the abstract, but is it really necessary here, with us? Yes it is, or the teaching means nothing.

Read the whole thing at "and God will make him a cake..."

Finbar William, may perpetual light shine upon you!

H/T to Amy, as usual.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Blessings on Easter!

Yes, I'm back. Yes, I went to the Cathedral for Easter. Yes, I took photos!

Easter Vigil 2007

(Click the photo to see the complete album!)

Regina Caeli

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Queen of Heaven

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fra Angelico's Annunciation