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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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A "clear voice" will cry out in the wilderness

From The New Liturgical Movement: Vox Clara report on the new missal translation (my emphasis):

"...it is the hope of the Vox Clara Committee that the approval and confirmation of the new Roman Missal will be completed by the end of 2009."

"...various initiatives to assure the effective reception and implementation of the new Roman Missal were also discussed by the Vox Clara Committee."

"Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments... stressed the need for the accurate translation of “words that have deep doctrinal meaning”

The second point is of particular interest of course, because as we know only too well in the light of our experience -- a light recently confirmed as well in the recent comments by Archbishop Ranjith -- that there can be a significant problem as regards obedience within the Church today. Finishing the translation is only one aspect of the task at hand. Seeing it through to faithful implementation down to the parish level will be a significant hurdle to overcome -- one thinks of Redemptionis Sacramentum which, while quite clear in its directives, is certainly not always followed. "Old" habits die hard.

But it is more than just habit of course. This is also very much a part of the fruits of a false sense of mastery over the liturgy (not to mention the overly-democratized view that many a modern Catholic takes of their Church) that is so systemic at this time. After all, if we see the liturgy as "ours" (again, not to mention seeing the Church, not as a teacher, but rather as a giver of mere suggestions and opinions), or if we see it as the expression of a particular community rather than the voice and the prayer of the Church herself, then it takes little to justify ignoring her decrees - or at least only partially implementing them. Suddenly those decrees are not entirely "relevant" to a particular community, or they are contrary to that community's "custom" and therefore they are not deemed pastoral.

It is a liturgical problem that is, fundamentally, an ecclesiological problem and it is one that will not be easily overcome. It is one of our great challenges today.

So true.

Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Aloysius Church, Olivia, MN

What can a parish of 480 families do? $1,000,000 restoration - video of this amazing church here!

It's yet more proof of what I always have thought - if you dream big, have a clear vision, and keep the ideal of beauty at the forefront... people will be willing to dream with you, and soon it will no longer be a dream.

Give people a vision of splendor, and they will sacrifice to bring it to life. Give people a vision of mediocrity and they... won't.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pope Quote of the Day

I want to invite you to 'dare to love'. Do not desire anything less for your life than a love that is strong and beautiful and that is capable of making the whole of your existance a joyful undertaking of giving yourselves to God and your brothers and sisters.

-Pope Benedict XVI


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Love for the TLM = mental illness??

From What Does The Prayer Really Say? comes this report of goings-on at Franciscan U in Steubenville. I find it shocking, if true, considering how solid and orthodox the university is in terms of theology. At the same time... we all know that orthodoxy doesn't always mean orthopraxy. And intolerance comes from both sides of the fence.

I got this by e-mail:

A well-substantiated rumor has it that a petition for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum bearing 155 names of students and faculty has been denied by the plenary council of T.O.R friars on the grounds that the motu proprio does not apply to Catholic universities. You can certainly see what the implications are. Keep this one on your radar; it’s going to be huge.

UPDATE: 1308 GMT 23 Oct 07

I received another bit of information about what is going on. Slightly edited:

In response to your blog post on FUS denying the TLM—-it is more than just a rumor. I am a student at FUS and personally know the people organizing this petition drive. They truly were told "no" after submitting the signatures. As a matter of fact, the person organizing this petition was told by a priest in the chapel to seek professional counseling (evidently a love for the TLM is a mental illness).

What is strange in all of this is that a couple of years ago the folks running
the chapel bent over backwards to bring a French Novus Ordo Mass on campus in order to accommodate roughly 15 French-language students. Ten times that amount request a TLM and we are told to seek counseling.

Pray for us father,

All I can say is... yikes. I hope it ain't so and that those in leadership at Franciscan U publishes a clarification soon for the sake of the Church in union with the Holy Father's wishes. And I hope that the team in Rome who is working on the document that will set straight some mis-interpretations regarding Summorum Pontificum's implementation sees this and adds a bit in about the responsibiility of Catholic universities.

Isn't it ironic that it seems that Notre Dame is more open to the desires of the Holy Father to make the extrodinary form available than FRANCISCAN U, the bastion of orthodoxy and love for the Holy Father??

CityPages' backhanded compliment

Warning: Snarkiness ahead. Also, I have a bias towards Holy Family, seeing that I go to daily Mass there frequently and even Sunday Mass once in awhile.

Thanks to Ray over at Stella Borealis I found out about the latest CityPages article slamming the Church.... or is it? After reading it, I have to laugh, becuase while it is almost certainly unintentionally so, the article as a whole only reaffirms A) that the Church CAN grow and contain many young, growing families, and B) that strong, orthodox pastors who are uncompromising on principles, "sly as serpents and peaceful as doves" are the key to this door to thriving parish life.

The crux of the article is that, well, Holy Family parish is GROWING, fast. It has run out of space. There are houses alongside the church, two of which have been put up for sale in recent years and that the church has either bought or has the promise of getting due to a benefactor buying them. The other homes on the block, apparently, contain people who have it in for the church in a big way and absolutely refuse to sell to it, even though they were offered a MORE than fair price for their homes. I can totally understand if someone loves their home and doesn't want to leave, no problem. Happens all the time. I also understand that if someone wants to buy a house, even if it is not on the market, it is totally fair and proper for them to make an offer on the house anyway. If ANYONE else would do this, no one would care. But, it seems that Fr. Dufner has infuriated the people by being both orthodox AND gaining families. You get the idea that if he would have just been orthodox but wasn't growing these people would be satisfied and self-rightous that he "lost" somehow. Instead, while they left, MANY more people came and are still coming - as the article itself takes pains to point out to us (as if they want to "prove" to us that there are so many stupid people in the world that need to be converted to the liberal fundamentalist progressive gospel). Boy, ain't that doubly annoying, ladies and gentlemen? Too much for your sense of tolerance to bear I guess. They even put up signs saying "Though shalt not covet they neighbor's house" - gee, so I guess that whole "judge not lest you be judged" only applies to other people. (I have often thought that it would be fun to post signs up on the church side that go through the other nine commandments... in proper order, ending with their rendition of #10. But I suppose that wouldn't be offering the other cheek, would it)

I find it hilarious that though the article is pulling out ALL the stops to blast Fr. Dufner... it really can't. It tries hard, but it can't seem to find anything really bad to say about him other than hyperbole and paraphrasing what the hostile neighbors SAY he said (no direct quotes anywhere in sight!). It's main slam seems to be that Fr. Dufner teaches "down the line" on Church teaching (oh my), but of course, that's the point, right? The point of Church is to help guide me to my home in heaven, not just to make me feel good and affirmed until I die. If a church does that, then they really aren't even a church anymore, since they exist solely to make this life more comfortable. Not much good that's going to do you when your life is demanded of you.

Oh, and WOW is it amazing how a person can be spat upon and shunned by the world merely for saying that women are so good and awesome and perfect at mothering that their motherhood cannot and should not be undermined by men, that children deserve a mother. Or that women should ideally be able to stay at home with their children, and men to be the providers and protectors, so as to form a stable family and a strong home. This is because woman, deep down, should WANT this for herself and her children, what mother doesn't want to be with her children? A selfish mother, that's who. In our totally self-centered society, I guess it's not really amazing then how "threatening" this notion is, of there being real and unique differences between men and women, particularly to CityPages, a secular hot-bed of "I do what I want and if you say I'm wrong you're intolerant!"

AMEN Fr. Dufner, God bless you and stay the course! And, I will continue to pray for those people with the ridiculous rooster crowing and all the others who seem to have it in for you and the fine people of Holy Family.

New Fr. Carola homily up

At my other blog: The Roamin' Roman: Fr. Carola - Homily for a First Mass


Monday, October 22, 2007

What's REALLY going on in Iraq?

Hear how Iraq is really starting to improve as a nation (contrary to the doom and gloom that the mass media keeps throwing up all over us every day), from an independent journalist who's both really there, and really committed to telling the full truth about the situation in Iraq. I give you, Michael Yon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chesterton... Academy?!

Uhhhhh.... COOL.

At first I thought this was a joke, but, maybe, just maybe, it's not? It sounds too good to be real, but... ok, let's say that it is.

Live in the West Metro area? Sick of wimpy Catholic high schools? Sick of paying a fortune and having to drive so far to get your kid to the one or two good Catholic high schools?

Consider: Chesterton Academy!

Info session (so it would seem) is on November 15th at Holy Family Academy (5925 W. Lake St. in St. Louis Park) at 7:00pm.

I tell you, if I had a kid going into high school in the next few years, I'd be there. Heck, I just might be there anyway - this is one meeting that's bound to be worth anyone's time who cares about our children's education. If it's real of course.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bella opening here Nov. 2nd!

Just found out via the "Bella" website that the movie will be opening in only one theater in the Twin Cities area, and not until Nov. 2nd. Sad! But, it is one theater and this is our chance to make it count there! Get EVERYONE you can to go to Bella, showing at

Regal Eagan 16
2055 Cliff Rd.
Eagan, MN 55122

Online showtimes and ticket purchasing here

Map to the theater:

View Larger Map

If more theaters in the area are added to the list, you can find out at the official movie website's Minneapolis showtimes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What's going on in the Church?

Click for a great talk that Fr. Martin Fox has posted!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Are the laity more involved now?

The Second Vatican Council raised important points for the life of the Church in the modern world, and we've been hearing about people's interprations and exegesis about what the Council "really" meant or intended for almost 50 years now. At the heart of most of these discussion is the laity's role in the Church, with debates raging about a wide variety of perceived "goals" of the Council. Really:

We have been obsessed with liturgy, with lay-involvement in parish structures, parish councils, the role of women within the Church, ecumenism, catechesis. All these are important but only of people who are already "churched", and not directly concerned with revealing the face of Christ.

So, if the Vatian Council was all about the laity and our role in the mission of the Church, then... what? Check out this insightful post by Fr. Blake which deals with that essential question: Are more people involved in Church now than fifty years ago?

Monday, October 15, 2007

WWIII was closer than I ever imagined!

Without knowing on the cold Moscow night back in 1983, a badly paid 44 year old military officer saved the world, and made himself one of the most influential persons of the century in the process, saving more lives than anyone ever did.

Most of today's people don't know it, but today's world as we know it, is like it is because of Stanislav Petrov.

-From a must read article: 24 years on - the man who saved millions of lives

Us: The other nine

On yesterday's Gospel of the healing of the 10 lepers, with only one returning to express gratitude to Christ:

I recognize myself among them. For me, gratitude to God is a real challenge. I don't much care for my life as it is. Indeed, it is an ongoing struggle for me to extirpate the wish that my gifts and my very self were radically different from what they are. So instead of thanking Jesus for his inestimable gift of salvation and leaving myself at his loving disposal, I often go off wondering how long before I'm let out on parole. I'd much prefer to be part of his company, part of the Twelve. It would seem so much more meaningful, so much more exciting. I'd rather not be told "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." I want to stay, but I can't; consequently, I'm ungrateful. And my ingratitude destroys the intimacy I need and seek. Having been given the miracle I need, I become part of the other nine simply so as not to be told what I don't want to hear—even though I've already been told all I need to hear, which I didn't deserve to begin with.

The only solution is the spirit of self-offering exemplified, and made possible, by Jesus on the Cross. Amid all our own problems, which are intertwined with those of the Church, let us remember to be grateful for whatever in our lives is not, itself, sin. It all comes from God and is part of the miracle of healing that is our salvation. Let us offer it all to the cosmic Christ to do with as he wills.

Read it all at Michael Liccone's Sacramentum Vitae: The other nine

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gore beats Holocaust Hero!

Go check this out: Roman Catholic by Choice » Blog Archive » Gore beats Holocaust Hero!

Let's see... who has done more for PEACE. An elderly Polish Catholic who saved 2500 Jewish children from death during the Holocaust. Or Al "inventor of the internet" Gore who has saved the world from peace and quiet due to his harping on global warming which they claim will "cause war".

No wonder all the news outlets seem to be dropping that whole "Peace" part of the Nobel Peace Prize. It really is just a Nobel (and NOT a "noble") Prize, and Alfred Nobel would be spinning in his grave to see all the psychos who have gotten the award he hoped would encourage science and humanity. Instead we get the gory details of Gore's crusade against... being forgotten in history? Never mind the global cycles of temperature, never mind the Times article of the early 1970s freaking out over "global cooling", never mind the fact that in the Middle Ages Europe was pratically tropical and no one drowned from melted ice (in fact, it gave birth to the Renanassiance of art and... oh yeah, science!)

Growl. Of course. Ironic, ain't it? Gore, who wants to be the eco-Hitler of the world, beats out a real hero for peace during Hitler's regime to gain the famed "Peace" prize.

Oh well. The only real prize is heaven... where each one's true actions and accomplishments in the light of eternity will be revealed. May the Lord decide!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This is a museum... this is a museum on crack.

I say it again... "Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere" (G.K. Chesterton).

Case in point:

Three women have been hurt by falling into Tate Modern's latest installation - a crack in the floor.

At 548 feet long, up to three feet deep and 10inches wide, it zigzags the length of the Turbine Hall and has been described as a highly original work of art.

But visitors have already paid the price for failing to heed warning signs. And a builder said if he had been responsible for the crack he would be sued for health and safety breaches.

...The installation cost about £300,000 and took more than six months to complete.

Creator Salcedo said it involved delicate and intricate sculpting which took place on two continents.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Of DREs and the parish

“It is the task of a pastor to preserve the faith of God’s people”
– Pope Benedict XVI

Likewise, it is the task of a Director of Faith Formation/Religious Education to assist the pastor in this task of preserving the faith within the parish community. My own work as a DFF (or DRE if you prefer) is therefore always directed toward one ultimate goal: that everyone in the parish may be equipped and prepared to “run the race” and to “win the fight”, so as to come one day – when our time on earth is concluded – to eternal joy as a saint!

Great. But how? Some DREs have been given free rein over their programs, others are kept on a short leash by their pastor. In either case, the dynamics of a parish these days are tough for anyone to follow or deal with adequately, particularly those of parishes that also have a school and the whole parish school "culture” that develops as a consequence. And if the DRE doesn’t have a job description that deals with the spiritual life of both the school and parish faith formation programs…. Oh boy. Any kind of unifying formation, especially Sacramental preparation (Confession, Holy Communion, Confirmation) that should involve the participation of both parish school kids and public school kids in a single parish-based program, is then a nightmare to introduce, develop and run.

I am beginning to realize that the Church survived for a very long time before DREs came to “help” the pastors. And with that realization has come The Question – why am I here? Why are any DREs here now? Are we really necessary… or even desirable… for the mission of Mother Church? If so, what is our role, what are the temptations that we encounter that threaten our fulfillment of this role, and how can we avoid falling for them or get out of the pit if we have fallen already? If not, what then are the authentic ways that we as laity can assist Mother Church?

Not that I’m trying to convince you that my job is unnecessary… but rather to say that I have been considering lately that, back in the day, when it was typically the sole responsibility of the pastor to teach the faith to the parish (aided by teachers, not administrating, organizing, decision-making, responsibility-bearing “directors”) it may have been hard at times to balance it all, but at least the priest has two things that no lay person can have: the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, first and foremost, and secondly the authority to lead his parish (under the bishop, of course). Those are some pretty big things to be lacking now in today’s typical parish religious education decision-making model, led by a lay person or even a religious sister/brother. It seems like this task, which, as the Pope observes, belongs properly to the bishops and priests, may not be the most appropriate choice for us laity to (practically speaking anyway) take over.

You know, a couple of years ago, I had never heard of a parish that did NOT have a “DRE” or “Director of Faith Formation” on staff. Then I met some folks from the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. They told me that there are no parish “DREs” in Lincoln, but instead a priest who is a diocesan DRE and within the parishes themselves lay and religious (ie, “nun”) catechists working with the pastor. I haven’t been able to find any more information about this online, but I admit it intrigues me. Does the diocesan DRE set the program to be used across the diocese? Do they use the same programs for parish faith formation and Catholic schools? What happens when the diocese “changes hands” and another bishop isn’t quite as on top of things as Bishop Bruskewitz is? What do the priests and parishioners of the diocese think? How can this existence of such a radically different model of religious education help us to re-examine our own assumptions of what parish religious education “must” entail?

Another thought along a different line - I just remembered that someone told me once that St. Agnes parish in St. Paul didn't have a DRE, but that everything catechetical/youth group in nature was coordinated directly through the pastor and with the school (haven't confirmed this though, there's no info on it on their website). Hmmmmmm. So, when there is a parish school... why HASN'T it commonly developed that all faith formation be done in conjunction with the school instead of creating a parallel track? Why have one person at the church for the "parish" and then have a whole other person or group of persons for the "school"? Doesn't this just help to spread that attitude of church vs. school and make things more difficult than they need to be? Dunno, just wondering alound.

Anyone else care to comment on this whole parish/school/faith formation/DRE topic?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lectio Divina with Archbishop Nienstedt!

Today was one of those totally Catholic days. Granted, when you work at a parish, most of your days would be considered "totally Catholic" to just about everyone in the known universe... which means that you know that when I say I've had a totally Catholic day it was REALLY totally Catholic!

I started the morning getting ready for our parish's first totally Catholic youth group gathering of the year - we really don't have a formal youth group at the parish, but a few of the older teens have been meeting informally for a couple of years. This year, I tagged a couple of them to really focus on building up a teen group here and "running the show" with it. I think they'll do just fine, today we had about 15 or so youth show up for the first session. Pray for them!

While I waited for the youth group (and while they were meeting - I wanted to be available, but not in the way) I mingled with parents and parishioners in our church's Gathering Space. Today being Respect Life Sunday (October is Respect Life month - pray for LIFE!) our pro-life group at the parish hosted the annual cinnamon roll bake sale. Mmmmmmmm! Conversation consisted of various faith topics, not the least of which being the devotion to the Divine Mercy (gave a rosary from Poland to a woman who, I found out, was in serious need of such a gift, it just goes to show you, once again, to not EVER be stingy with any of your devotional items. If you get the urge to give it away... give it away.)

After all that, I headed into St. Paul to check out a couple of apartments for rent (yes, still considering that move... no news yet though, just because I look dosn't mean much, I'm one of those weird people who LIKE to wander through rental properties "just to see") because I know of a few other young adult Catholics who may be either moving to the Cities or possibily looking for a roommate in St. Paul. The apartment that really caught my eye is a gorgeous old 1920s duplex (upper floor) that has a huge living room and this nifty little room attached to it by French doors - my thought as soon as I saw it was "wow, cool house chapel!" Totally Catholic of me, I know.

Then, I met up with a friend who is working as a youth minister in the northern part of the Archdiocese - pretty much the exact opposite corner as where I am living/working. So, another totally Catholic conversation over some drinks at Nina's.

5:00 pm Mass at the Cathedral per usual for me, great homily by Fr. Erickson again per usual. The part that really hit me was his emphasis on the "seed" revealing Christ and Christianity to us, and how at the root of Christ's mission and ours is self-giving love. We must die to self, as the seed does in order to bring forth the promise of new life that is hidden within it. Most poignantly, that true Love requires wounds. Love demands the cross. Without faith, this is incomprehensible, but with faith we can see the necessity of giving of ourselves sacrificially so that much more is made present than we ever thought possible. As you see, a totally Catholic homily.

Post-Mass I stayed at the Cathedral for a bit, because there was a Family Holy Hour scheduled for 7pm. A few priests I know were involved in that, and I was able to chat with them for a few minutes about various things I am doing at the parish - first of all being the possibility of forming a Legion of Mary praesidio (pray for discernment here!).

The Holy Hour, for the 90th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, was splendid and a ton of people were there for it. I would guess around 800-1000 people, including tons of kids. There was the sweetest little Hispanic boy and his mom in front of me, he was all dressed up in spiffy clothes for church... and totally zonked out and snoring on the pew. His mom was very worried that he was making too much noise, she finally turned around and leaned over as if to take him out, but I assured her that he was fine and so she let him be and went back to praying the Rosary. God bless her and her son! Fr. Gallas gave another fine homily, on the Gospel passage on the wedding feast at Cana, and how Mary revealed the nature of her maternal role in the life of the Church there, by being the direct intercessor on behalf of men to her Son, making known to Him their needs and interceding on their behalf for her Son to act on those needs. Good stuff - yup, totally Catholic!

Finally, yes, I went to Lectio Divina with our own coadjutor Archibishop Nienstedt! The Archbishop is going to be offering these Lectio Divina sessions for college students (young or old :) on the first Sunday of the month thorughout the school year (except for January I guess). It was supposed to be in the lower level of the Thomas Aquinas chapel at UST, but when I got there (a little late, coming from the Holy Hour) everyone was in the main chapel and it was pretty packed! A great crowd, and a lot of younger students and newer faces. The Archbishop led everyone in practicing Lectio Divina using a passage from Mark's Gospel (on Bartimeaus the blind man), and gathering into small groups to discuss what aspects of the passage really spoke to us. It was very fruitful time of prayer for everyone, I was especially impressed with the depth and insight that the younger members of my small group had, you could tell that they were really excited to be learning this form of praying with the Word of God and that they really took it seriously. I think this new offering of the Archbishop's will be a huge hit - but we need even more people! Spread the word to any other college students you know, let's pack the chapel even more next month (Nov. 4 is the next one, from 8-9pm)!

All in all, I think this definitely qualifies as a totally Catholic dady!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cardinal George on "Catholic identity"

Today's money quote.

His American Awesomeness, Cardinal George, in an interview with John Allen, speaking on Catholicism, culture, and "Catholic identity":

Catholic identity, basically, is there if someone holds the Catholic faith in its integrity, understands it well enough according to age and disposition. It’s somebody who holds the faith in a sufficiently catechized way and can say, ‘I accept all of it.’ At the same time, he or she does that in Catholic communion, someone who has a pastor and who knows what a bishop is and who understands the relationship to the universal church, because that’s the network of visible communion established by the Lord when he asked the apostles to take up the mission. So the relationship part of it, to Christ through the apostolic church, along with the profession of the apostolic faith in the network of communion ... those are the two poles. Depending upon whether you’re left or right, as we define those terms in the culture today, you have trouble with one or the other. The right would say, ‘I accept all the faith, but I can’t stand the bishop,’ while on the other hand the left says, ‘The faith is goofy, but my bishop’s not a bad guy.’

Ain't that the truth.

Rocco's got the rest, read up!

Fra Angelico's Annunciation