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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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

What a novel idea...

A Catholic diocesan newspaper!

Rhode Island Catholic newspaper is in the secular news:

Bishop Tobin hopes that the Rhode Island Catholic will reflect the diocese’s willingness to participate in the public discourse. But as publisher, one of many hats he wears, he has no intention of moving the paper away from what he describes as its core responsibility: to the teachings of Jesus and the Roman Catholic Church. “The essential mission of a Catholic newspaper is found in the words of Jesus Christ who commissioned his apostles to ‘go forth and teach,’ ” Bishop Tobin said.

An editorial in today’s paper states: “We will not print opinions that are in contradiction of church teaching — any more than a newspaper for, say, Greenpeace would print a letter in support of the slaughter of whales.”

Our Archdiocese DOES have a very fine Catholic diocesan newspaper... not the official one. The monthly "Catholic Servant" can be found at many fine orthodox parishes across the Twin Cities area, including the (very-official) Cathedral of St. Paul!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

First Holy Communion at the parish

Well, better late than never...

Back in late April the parish I work at had our First Communion Mass, and I had taken a few photos (in between running around!) from the choir loft (oh, how I wish our choir would be back in the loft! But that's a conversation for another time...). I know a few of the moms were wanting to see them, so here you go!

First Holy Communion 2007

It really was a nice Mass, the children's choir sang for it (they sang "Panis Angelicus" very beautifully, even with proper pronounciation, I am quite happy to report!) and our 23 First Communicants were radiant in their expectation to receive our Lord in the Eucharist for the first of many times (it is to be earnestly hoped!). I was quite pleased to see so many of them praying deeply after receiving our Lord - it is unfortunate that our culture now places such an overemphasis on the externals of the celebration of first Sacraments. The families are the worst, as they sometimes focus much more on the "miniature brides" than on the Bridegroom that their children are encountering. In our case, however, our children were well prepared and, I hope, able to really give thanks to our Lord for His great love in the Most Blessed Sacrament!

It is too bad I do not have photos of the entrance procession - we gave each of the children a huge white rose and had them come into the church and place their flowers at the foot of the statues of Jesus and Mary on either side of the sanctuary, then they came back to the center and bowed together perfectly before going to their seat. Quite angelic.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Congratulations to our newest priests!

This morning, on the feast of St. Philip Neri, and with the high feast of Pentecost nearly upon us, Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis ordained eight men to the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ!

The Mass and Rite of Ordination were quite beautiful - "Ordination Saturday" is traditionally held on the last Saturday of May each year in our Archdiocese, and it is one of my favorite Masses of the year! To be able to witness the sacramental transformation of so many faithful men each year is quite a priviledge. I am even more blessed than usual this year, as two men whom I am proud to call friends were among those ordained - Fr. Nels Gjengdahl and Fr. Dennis Backer! These two men will be good and holy priests of God, by His grace, and I joyfully await their first Masses of Thanksgiving tomorrow (Pentecost Sunday)!

I did take photos, though I was not able to be in my usual front row spot (d'oh, waited too long to ask this year!) - even so, I think I got some wonderful shots, from a different angle than usual. If only I were, um, less vertically challanged :) so that I could have a higher angle over the congregation, we'd be all set. Anyway, click the link below to see the photos from the Mass - and remember to always pray for priests, both those who are ordained now and those men who are called to be our future priests!

Priesthood Ordination Mass

Ordained priests forever on this day, the 26th of May, 2007:
Fr. Gregory Edward Abbott
Fr. Dennis Joseph Backer
Fr. John Patrick Floeder
Fr. Nels Hendrick Gjengdahl
Fr. Mark Joseph Joppa
Fr. Michael Charles Kaluza
Fr. Paul Anthony Kammen
Fr. Joseph-Quoc Thien Vuong

St. Philip Neri, pray for them!
Pope John Paul II, pray for them!

St. Philip Neri - pray for us!

Today is the feast day of the "Apostle of Rome", Saint Philip Neri! St. Philip is one of the great "Counter Reformation" saints of the Church, who worked hard to re-evangelize the culture in which he lived. He was an active evangelizer, working with the youth of Rome to lead them to Christ. One of his inspirations is still practiced today on Holy Wednesday - the "Seven Church Walk" (see number 8 on this page), which takes you on foot in a route around the city of Rome, visiting the four major and three minor basilicas. It's quite the walk - I did it last year and it took basically the whole day!

St. Philip also worked to popularize the 40 hours devotion of the Blessed Sacrament, a practice still done in many places around the world (and hopefully many more to come!).

St. Philip did not aspire to become a priest, but submitted to the request that he receive Holy Orders under the direction of his confessor. Following his ordination, the Lord used hiim even more effectively to reach hearts and minds, most especially in the confessional and in his homilies. For some time, St. Philip had been giving frequent catechetical talks to groups of young men who looked to him for spiritual leadership. Now, following his ordination, St. Philip turned to giving daily sermons in a small chapel. This chapel would become the first Oratory - and there soon would be many others. Many priests desired to live the faith and serve the People of God as St. Philip had, and so other Oratories were founded, they spread rapidly throughout much of Europe and now across the globe. One of the more famous Oratories is the one in Birmingham, England, where the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman served and lived. Closer to us, the Oratory in Toronto Canada is renowed for its fidelity to the Faith and its liturgical practice - check them out online and learn a little more about St. Philip and the Oratorians!

Hymn to St. Philip Neri

This is the Saint of gentleness and kindness,
Cheerful in penance, and in precept winning;
Patiently healing of their pride and blindness
Souls that are sinning.
This is the Saint, who, when the world allures us,
Cries her false wares, and opes her magic coffers,
Points to a better city, and secures us
With richer offers.
Love is his bond, he knows no other fetter,
Asks not our all, but takes whate’er we spare him,
Willing to draw us on from good to better,
As we can bear him.
When he comes near to teach us and to bless us,
Prayer is so sweet, that hours are but a minute;
Mirth is so pure, though freely it possess us,
Sin is not in it.
Thus he conducts by holy paths and pleasant
Innocent souls and sinful souls forgiven
Towards the bright palace where our God is present
Throned in high heaven.
~John Henry Cardinal Newman

Friday, May 25, 2007

Catholic professor silenced by Catholic university

I've been meaning to post on this issue for a few weeks, and I wish I had done so sooner. Around May 10th, I learned of a very shocking decision made at the University of St. Thomas, in which Dr. Siobhan Nash-Marshall, a very fine, solid, well-liked and highly respected professor of Philosophy, was denied tenure SOLELY (it seems) because of an unsubstiantiated decision by Fr. Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas.

I was a student of Dr. Nash-Marshall (Epistemology), and did my senior thesis in Philosophy under her watch - and I could not have asked for a better professor. Dr. Siobhan was, and is, the professor I respect the most, out of all the ones I have had, in any discipline. I was just thinking the other day of how I longed to return to our “jam sessions”, with 7 of us crammed into Dr. Siobhan’s office, with her going around the circle quick as anything, holding 7 different conversations at once! I remember at the time thinking that this must have been what it was like to be with Aquinas dictating. :)

I can’t think of a single student in the class I had with her, or any of the other students I know who had her, who wouldn’t back me up on praising her skill and dedication as a prof. She is really unparalleled in her deftness and ability to parse out difficult concepts (at a rapid-fire pace!). For those who come searching for the truth, she helps us to find it! Her commitment to the Catholic faith and to the ongoing search for Truth, Truth that can be known by us, shone forth from her office doors like a light to all of us passing down the hall. But no more, if Fr. Dease has his way.

Fr. Dease's decision to deny tenure came as a shock to everyone, perhaps most of all for the faculty in the Philosophy department, which had recommended her for tenure without reservation and had absolutely no idea that it might be denied. In response to the decision, various department and faculty heads attempted to appeal Fr. Dease's decision three times - but all appeals on Dr. Nash-Marshall's behalf were denied categorically it seems by Fr. Dease, and her firing was finalized a couple of weeks ago. She is now taking the matter to court, and trust me, she would not do this unless it was for a good and serious cause. She is not one to do things lightly.

This is a horrible example of what can happen in our universities - the sacrosanct attitude towards those who have reached tenure, and the "whimsical" ways that tenure can be denied to those whom someone in power does not like for personal reasons (since there seem to be no logical reasons otherwise for such a decision).

I wonder just what on earth Fr. Dease was thinking. He must not really know Siobhan, not like her students know her! If he did, he would have known better than to do what he’s doing! And now, the poor man, he’s caught. I think he’s made one political move too many, and right on the cusp of a new and strongly orthodox Archbishop’s tenure (pun intended) who does NOT play games!

I will stand up anywhere, at any time, to speak for Dr. Nash-Marshall - just contact me with the when and where! I believe there is a petition that was going around UST too, not sure who's heading that up though. Personally, I'm about ready to sit down and write a couple of nice long letters...

For more information on this, check out Sheila Liaugminas' blog - InForum Blog » Catholic professor denied tenure (NB: I was in Dr. Nash-Marshall's class with Sheila's son Andrew).

To see Dr. Nash-Marshall's CV - go to her UST faculty page.

(And here I thought it was the Theology department that was the source of all controversy!)

St. Thomas, pray for us!
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for Siobhan!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fr. Carola's Profession of Final Vows

Cross-posted to Roamin' Roman blog

Today, on the 24th of May in the year of our Lord 2007, in the Church of the Gesu in Rome, Fr. Joseph Anthony Francis Iganatius Carola, SJ made his final profession of vows in the Society of Jesus, at last, before God and man -- including our friend Bernard who was gracious enough to take the following video of the momentous occasion. Yay for technology! :)

(I'm taking a bit of a liberty in uploading it to YouTube myself... hope I'm not in trouble, but I wanted you all to be able to see this ASAP and the video file was too big to e-mail!!)

Teach us, Good Lord,
to love Thee as Thou deservest.
To give, and not to count the cost.
To fight, and not to heed the wounds.
To toil, and not to seek for rest.
To labour, and not to ask for any reward,
Save that of knowing -
that we do Thy will.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So what's the new Thing?

The last couple of days I've been seeing a few other Catholic blogs getting excited about this LibraryThing. I decided to click over and try it out... three hours later, and I've got 50+ of my random "at hand" books cataloged and I'm getting real tired of punching in ISBN numbers. Nevertheless, I'm HOOKED. This resource is great, particularly for us bookworms who can never remember what books we actually own when we get to Loome's Bookstore (you can access your library from your mobile phone's web service - ain't technology great?)

There is a catch - you can catalog the first 200 books free, then you have to pay ($10/year or $25/lifetime membership). I'm only part way through my books but I'm already hooked... I'm guessing my checkbook's going to come out for this one!

Attention Catholic bloggers - I have created a new group on LibraryThing for us, so we can keep tabs on what's in our libraries. If you want to play, just join the "St. Blog's Parish Community" group.

Testimony to a life well lived

Meet Aaron McMillan, a wonderful musician who recently died of brain cancer - but not before having a miraculous conversion to faith and receiving the sacraments!

(Crossposted to Roamin' Roman blog)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Forget daily Mass, let's do weekly contemplative meditation instead!

So sad it's hilarious. This has got to be one of the most complete accounts ever of how a parish lost its way following the "Spirit of Vatican II" (yes, it is indeed a real parish - they should get together with our pals from St. Joan of Arc, they have a lot in common with each other and almost nothing in common with, say, for example, the Catholic Church).

Excerpts (my emphasis and comments) from their "Parish Heritage" account:

WARNING: Snarkiness alert!

...Rev. Frank Harrison, later to be Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse, was appointed the first pastor in May 1956. Milestones were quickly marked. The first Field Days on September 29, 1956 raised $9,291. By December of that year, 163 children were enrolled in Sunday School taught by the Daughters of Charity from Cathedral School. [what a difference a few decades makes!] Father Harrison and his sister, Florence Timmons, served as the teachers for the Tuesday release time program for students in Grades 1-3 at Percy Hughes Elementary School.

...The parish bulletins of those early years were filled with the announcements from the Holy Name Society, Altar and Rosary Society, Legion of Mary, and an adult and children’s choirs. Sunday 9 o’clock Mass was the children’s Mass where Fr. Harrison came down from the altar, stepped outside the altar railing and spoke directly to the children sitting as a group in the front of the church. Special religious observances like 40 Hours Devotion, Novena to the Sacred Heart, Stations of the Cross, Benediction, Spiritual Bouquets, and Plenary Indulgences were also part of the parish vocabulary. Social activities included dances, spaghetti suppers, card parties, and a Bowling League of eight teams that met at the Southside Bowling Alley.

...Instead of building a school, the parish hired a bus in 1962 and paid the tuition for students to go to Cathedral School. By 1965, 63 students were enrolled in the program. The bus picked up and dropped off the students at the church parking lot. (This was before the days when public school districts provided free bus service for children attending Catholic school.) This decision was significant in the future of the parish as most parishes of the day did invest in a parish school. Given the demographics of the parish after 1980 when the population of children decreased dramatically, a school would have been a failed allocation of resources. [Translation: "Isn't it wonderful that we successfully foresaw the trend of the future?"]

...In reminiscences about the parish, Fr. Harrison described the parish he knew as “traditional.” Still during his tenure there were seeds of change showing. The congregation began responding to the celebrant of the Mass through Missa Recitata; soon these responses were in English. With the astounding call for convening of the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Harrison asked the parish to pray for its success.

...Changes to the Mass came quickly. After a vote of the parish, the first Mass facing the people was offered on January 1, 1965; the first sung Mass in English took place November 7, 1965, followed by the use of English, at first only outside of the Canon of the Mass. Lectors became a regular part the Mass.

The first homily ever given by a layperson at St. Andrew’s occurred on September 25, 1966 when Robert Landers spoke about the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), a religious education program in the American Church. Landers’s assignment fit with Vatican II’s call for the laity to enter into “partnership with the priest in the sacred things of God.”

...By 1966 the parish had grown to more than 400 families. [Never again to attain that height, gee, weren't they "prophetic" enough?] The Christmas bulletin that year listed Mass at midnight, and 8, 9, 10, and 11 a.m. the next day. A parish forum and survey, created by the CCD Board, attempted to determine the needs of the parish that year.

...A Liturgical Committee was formed in 1968. A Parish Forum [Got that? We're democratic here!] was organized and given the responsibility to be the decision making body of the parish. Until the elected Parish Council took over in 1976, the forum attracted nearly 100 to its yearly town hall type meeting. Prayer of the Faithful was added to the Mass in 1967 as were folk Masses and neighborhood Masses in the home.

... Monthly children’s liturgies were held downstairs in the parish hall simultaneously with “adult” liturgies upstairs. Many creative approaches to worship were tried in the downstairs setting that were later adapted to full parish liturgies upstairs. Numerous magnificent liturgical banners designed and produced by Mary Spadaro enhanced the liturgies. She set a standard that others followed for many years. [No comment.]

...Fr. Kane was presiding over significant changes. He has described himself as “neither liberal or conservative, but open.” He was open to new ideas, to leadership from the laity and was willing to institute new practices about which many of his fellow priests teased and criticized him. [For good reason, perhaps?]

His homilies were enriched with background color from his travels in the Holy Land. He even brought water from the River Jordan to use in baptisms. We celebrated with “Joe” as he marked his 40th and 50th ordination anniversaries. And when he celebrated his parting Mass on December 26, 1997 we gathered to say “good-by” and cry tears of thanks for his witness to our community and tears of sorrow for our loss.

...A dual collection for the wounded in South and North Vietnam was one of the first political controversies that caused people to leave. But at the same time, the parish started to attract new members from all over the county because of these very controversial issues, its commitment of the reforms of Vatican II and leadership by the laity. Today the parish has members from Homer to North Syracuse and from Cazenovia to Westvale. St. Andrew’s started with about 200 families [a vibrant, neighborhood parish], rose in the 1960’s to 400 families [before the cloud of the Spirit got too big] and gradually dropped back to 200 families by the 1980. [and can we really blame all that on the decline of children?] Today, there are 175 households on the parish registry, 72% of whom are from outside the parish boundaries. [Now that's what a call a clear sign of the health of this little "faith-building community"!]

...Communion in the hand began on the Feast of Christ the King in November 1977. By 1978 with one priest and the need to depend on frequent visiting priests, Sunday Masses went from three to two, at 8:45 and 10:45 a.m.

...Another new ministry, one Fr. Kane says he is most proud of, was opening the parish to the Catholic Gay and Lesbian community for Sunday Mass twice a month starting in 1994.

...As a parting gift to the parish on his retirement in 1996, Fr. Kane donated the stained glass window above the altar. The center point that draws in different lines is symbolic of how the diverse people of the parish meet at this place of worship and also someday perhaps in what Teilhard De Chardin called the “omega point.” [Chardin is NOT a canonized saint for a reason - "Chardin, a Jesuit paleontologist, wrote of the evolution of God, mankind and Christ into a cosmic whole, an "Omega point" where mankind would realize his Godhood." (from Amazon reviewer)]

...A team of men and women have served as homilists: Nancy Ring, Peggy Thompson, Nancy Murray, Kip Hargrave, Marilyn Goulet, Dave Turner, Frank Woolever, Mary Jureller, Mike Flusche and Bill Preston. That practice started in the 1980’s but became more regular with the era of shared parishes for the Mass celebrant [and just what does an era of shared parishes have to do with a priest sitting back while Sr. Justice-N-Peace-not-Life recites poetry?]

...Finally, a loyal band of parishioners has, during these past 50 years, gathered around the altar for daily Mass – among them Carmela Sandro, Richard and Marie Kunder, Rita Dauenhauer, and Rita Gokey. Today a new band gathers for weekly contemplative meditation instead of daily Mass. [WHAT THE #@)*$?? are they contemplating exactly?? Not the missing verses I bet!]

Well, now boys and girls, what do you think happened here? We started off with a new parish, bursting at the seams with families and holy activities (including, but not limited to, fun social ones). Over the decades, as each puff of the "Spirit of Vatican II" smoke drifted its way in we see MORE pseudo-priests and "dynamic", "relevant" liturgies (ie, folk Masses and neighborhood block parties...I mean, Masses... at homes) and LESS parishioners and families. Then we see self-congratulations for predicting the future of childless homes and less need for religious schooling, along with increased excitment over all the ways that we can create our own heaven on earth through social action and not have to worry about actually following the narrow path to attain the real one someday. We get LESS parishioners again. Finally we reach the stage of today, were we now have a small group of like-minded (dare I say) parochialists who hug each other and congratulate themselves and their hip relevancy to the modern world, and find their inner Spirit at their weekly contemplative mediation instead of participating in daily Mass.

I'll let the parish have a final word:

Our Mission

To proclaim and Celebrate the Good News of Jesus and share his teachings. ["I'm ok, you're ok!"]
To love, support and strengthen each other. ["Who needs the strength of God when we've got each other to hug?"]
To develop our liturgical celebrations in the spirit of Vatican II. ["We must be vigilant to keep up the pace of liturgical development with other spirit of Vatican II faith communities you know!"]
To meet the human and spiritual needs of this community and beyond through active ministry and service. ["Except for the human and spiritual needs of those who don't agree with us and those who are not born yet - they don't really exist anyway, do they?"]
To commit to just peacemaking. ["That's all, just peacemaking. Nothing else. No evangelization, no study of God's Word, no praying, nope, no time for that!"]

Ok, I lied, here's their final word:

Schedule of Services

Sunday Mass Schedule:
Vigil: Saturday 4:15 p.m./ Sunday: 11:00 a.m.

Mass for Gay and Lesbian Community:
5:00 p.m. First and Third Sunday of each month

Hey, they forgot to include a note saying that they no longer have daily Mass or Confession, because of the great joy of coming together weekly for "contemplative meditation"!

Oh, wait, I guess none of their parishioners would wonder about that lack anyway.

St. Andrew the Apostle, pray for them!

The Human Experience

From the creators of Fishers of Men and God on the Streets of New York comes a new film on the amazing drama of each human life, from conception to death - The Human Experience!

From the official site:

What is the meaning of life? Why wake up in the morning? Why continue with this charade if there is no meaning to our existence?

From Grassroots Films of Brooklyn, New York comes THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE: the journey of two brothers who travel the world in search of the meaning of life. As they seek out the answer they find themselves in the middle of the lives of the homeless in New York City, AIDS patients in Jamaica, traders on Wall Street, and surfers in Peru. Through one on one interviews and real life encounters, the brothers are awakened to the beauty of the human person and the resilience of the human spirit.

See the trailer!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The mystery of the missing verses

From now on, I'm going to be looking a LOT more carefully at just what those "gaps" are in our Mass readings (you know, when your missal/Magnificat gives you the citation of comma-separated verse values)

Case in point: Some of us yesterday (those of us who celebrated Ascension on its proper day - last Thursday - and therefore heard the Seventh Sunday readings instead) got the following Second Reading from the Book of Revelation (22:12-14, 16-17, 20):

“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.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
“I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let him who hears say, “Come.” And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with the saints. Amen.

That's nice. But... So what exactly are the "offending" words "taken away" from this "prophecy" - i.e., verses 15, 18, and 19? Read them and laugh (or weep).

You know... it's times like this that I really believe that old saying about the smoke of Satan entering the Church. This kind of thing is exactly what I'd imagine Satan's smoke "conveniently" obscuring.

(H/T once again to Diogenes at CWN... still going strong in doing the dirty work of uncovering Satan's little helpers!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tommy Thompson For President

I never thought I would do this so soon... but, Tommy Thompson in 2008!!

He was a wonderful governor for Wisconsin some years back, and his positions have NEVER changed. He did some great things for the pro-life/adoption movement in WI, and I'm happy to see on his issues page that he proudly states them all for everyone to read.

Plus, the word is that he's CATHOLIC to boot! (per Gerald - I hadn't known that, but then again when I was living in WI I didn't care much about Catholic anything or anyone)

My only fear is that with both him and Brownback (whom I admire as well) they may "split" up the opposition to Guiliani... and Guiliani might walk away the winner instead.

I haven't compared Brownback and Thompson directly, but from my experience in WI (a historically Democratic state) Thompson won by a wide margin every election - which means that the "average Joe" on both sides really liked him. I don't know if Brownback can match this, and so my first impression is that Thompson is a better choice to throw our weight behind. It will be interesting to compare the two more and see what others think about their individual chances and how they may hurt rather than help each other.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Suspicious Cheese Lords

Taking 1970s ICEL "translation" to a whole new level, I offer to you The Suspicious Cheese Lords!

(Yes, it's a translation... of sorts... from Suscipe quaeso Domine!)

Listen to them yourself!

Fra Angelico's Annunciation