Friday, October 29, 2010

A campus mourns

By now, you may have heard of the terrible accident that claimed the life of Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan on Wednesday of this week. A friend came across a beautiful description of the Mass celebrated last night (Thursday) in memory of Declan from a student's vantage point. She, like most of us, didn't know Declan personally, but she was drawn to participate in this beautiful display of the Notre Dame family. I want to share the student's blog entry with all of you.

The student's name is Amy.

Here's the text of her blog entry:

I did not know Declan Sullivan.

On Wednesday, Declan was killed on campus in an accident involving a hydraulic lift. He was filming football practice for his job as a student manager, and high winds caused the scissor lift he was filming from to topple over.

He was 20 years old. He was a junior majoring in FTT (film, television and theater) and marketing. He lived in Fisher Hall.

Tonight, Father John Jenkins, University President, presided over a Mass in Declan's memory in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Mass began at 10 p.m. I was in a lecture and movie screening for class until 9:45 pm, and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to the Basilica in time to get a seat. I also wasn't sure if I even wanted to go to the Mass. I didn't know Declan, so a part of me thought, "Why should I take a seat from somebody who knew him, loved him, cared about him? Who am I to do that?" But another part of me desperately wanted to go to the Mass to show my support for Declans family during this horrible, difficult time. That part of me wanted to show the Sullivans that Notre Dame is a place where everybody matters, a place where the spirit of the community links everybody together. I was already running late and I knew that my baseball-cap-and-Ugg-bots attire wouldn't fly at the Basilica, so I decided to go over to LaFortune Student Center, where I had heard there would be auxiliary seating and a live feed from the Mass.

As I walked across the God Quad in the dark, I watched people walking towards the Basilica, two by two. The doors were wide open, emanating a warm golden glow. I was able to hear the prelude for Declan's Mass all the way at the flagpole on South Quad, and the sound of the organ became clearer as I crossed through the pine trees and made my way to LaFortune.

Up the winding staircase, I burst into LaFortune and brushed past the representatives from the Student Activities Office who tried to usher me upstairs to the ballroom. "We have some seats left up there," a girl with a nametag whispered. By the time I heard her, I had already set down my backpack near my usual spot in the main lounge. LaFortune was different. Normally, the building serves as a study/food/coffee/socializing/meeting space, and it's one of the busiest places on campus. But tonight, it was quiet. Dimmer, somehow.

All of the comfy armchairs were occupied, so after lingering against a wall, cornered by a trashcan, for a few minutes, I plopped down on the floor like a kindergartner. Mass was beginning. The broadcast was coming through the two large telivisions in the main lounge. (It was available online as well.) during the opening song, the SAO folks brought out a number of chairs from another room, and I snapped up a seat just as Fr. Jenkins was greeting the Sullivan family.

Then, the oddest thing began to happen. Everyone in the room began to respond to the TV, just like Mass.

The Lord be with you.
"And also with you."

I don't know if it was reflex, a genuine desire to participate in the Mass, or some combination of both. All of a sudden, I found myself in the midst of the celebration of the Eucharist in the same room where I drink coffee, read the paper, watch ESPN, and play Sporcie.

Notre Dame is very good at a lot of things, and onne of those things is church. Notre Dame knows how to put on a great Mass, and the higher-ups pulled out all the stops for Declan. The Liturgical Choir provided beautiful music for the service. I was particularly impressed with the selection of the readings. The first reading was Romans 8:31-39 ("If God is for us, who can be against us?") The gospel reading was John 14:1-14 ("I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.").

Father Tom Doyle, Vice President for Student Affairs, gave the homily. He spoke eloquently and simply about storytelling--about Declan's love of telling stories through film and about the feeling that we have been "written out of the book of life" that accompanies loss and grief. Doyle said, "Most days, we live in this place that is like Eden before the fall." Normally, bad things don't happen here. Students joke about the "Notre Dame bubble" for a reason. When terrible things hit Notre Dame, it seems that much worse.

As I watched the Mass on TV from my chair in LaFortune, I noticed the camera kept panning out to the people sitting in the pews at the Basilica. The Sullivan family sat in the front row. Gwynn, Declan's sister, wore a Notre Dame football jersey and Mac, Declan's 15-year-old brother, wore a Notre Dame sweatshirt. Across the aisle, the men of Fisher Hall sat in the other front section, all with their trademark neon green sunglasses pushed back into messy brown waves and perched on blonde crewcuts. Fisherman wear these distinguishing sunglasses around campus all the time, so it seemed appropriate that they wore their shades to Mass in memory of their hallmate. The Notre Dame football team sate behind the contingent from Fisher Hall.

During the Eucharistic Prayer, LaFortune was filled with the mutterings of hundreds of students:

Lift up your hearts.
"We lift them up to the Lord."

When it came time for the Our Father, the Liturgical Choir sang the beautiful Notre Dame Our Father. LaFortune joined hands and joined in Then, everyone got out of their seats for the sign of peace. Hugs and handshakes all around.

The SAO employees notified us that the Eucharist was being distributed outside the Basilica and that we could leave and come back. After a moment of hesitation, about 75% of the room stood up, grabbed coats, and quietly filed out of the room. I was near the door, so I made it out quickly. Down the stairs, across the quad, towards the music and light. There were hundreds of people already standing outside the Basilica--overflow. Outside, there were musicians performing acoustic versions of the songs playing inside. As I huddled around the front of the Basilica, I turned around. A massive block of students stretched all the way from the foot of the Basilica to the stairs of LaFortune, and people continued to stream out of the building from the ballroom on the second floor.

We stood patiently, quietly in the cold. Occasionally, a priest would emerge from the Basilica doors. People gathered around eagerly as the priest distributed Communion. Nobody jostled, nobody complained. We just waited. Slowly, more priests came out. After I received Communion, I walked back to LaFortune. I counted six priests standing outside, each man completely surrounded by students waiting for the Eucharist.

I made it back to LaFortune just in time for the final blessing.

The Mass is ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
"Thanks be to God."

And then, as always, we sang the alma mater, arms around each other, swaying:

Notre Dame, Our Mother
Tender, strong and true
Proudly in the heavens
Gleams thy gold and blue
Glory's mantly cloaks thee
Golden is thy fame
And our hearts forever
Praise thee Notre Dame
And our hearts forever
Love thee, Notre Dame.

The fervent prayers of the Notre Dame community are with Declan Sullivan and his family.

A night like this should never have to happen again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Service of a New Saint
In his homily for the beatification of John Henry Newman, a month before the scheduled canonization of Blessed Brother André Bessette, C.S.C., Pope Benedict XVI praised the scholarly Victorian Englishman for exemplifying how “our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a ‘definite service,’ committed uniquely to every single person.” The sanctity of Blessed Cardinal Newman, remembered not solely, but primarily, for the veritable library of elegant books, essays, poems, letters, and sermons he has left behind, provides an ironic counterpart to that of Blessed Brother André, an uneducated Quebecois who would have been incapable of reading almost anything Cardinal Newman wrote.

The “definite service” which Blessed Brother André was assigned, and which the Church, by canonizing him, insists is every bit as indispensable as Cardinal Newman’s scholarship, could not have been simpler: His service was to open the door.

Blessed Brother André is the first member of Notre Dame’s founding religious order, the Congregation of Holy Cross, to be proclaimed a saint, and his brother in Holy Cross, Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., will lead a delegation from the University to Rome for canonization ceremonies to be held on Sunday, October 17. Other members of the delegation will include Notre Dame provost Thomas G. Burish, Rev. James E. McDonald, C.S.C., associate vice president and counselor to the president, and Matthew Ashley, chair of Notre Dame’s theology department.

To honor Blessed Brother André Bessette and his service to the sick and needy, Notre Dame students will take up a special collection during the Oct. 16 Notre Dame-Western Michigan football game. The collection will support ongoing efforts of the University and the Congregation to help rebuild Haiti following the devastating earthquake there in January.

Not only among the priests, sisters and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, but also throughout the Notre Dame community, the new saint is affectionately regarded, conspicuously honored and continually invoked. He is routinely mentioned in campus liturgies, and his statue, carved by Rev. Anthony J. Lauck, C.S.C., is in the northeast apsidal chapel of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Another statue of Brother André, this one carved by Notre Dame art professor Rev. James F. Flanigan, C.S.C., is above the south entrance of the University’s Eck Visitors Center.

“Blessed Brother André was famous first as a ferociously hard worker at the high school where he worked his whole life,” said Rev. David Tyson, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the Indiana Province of Holy Cross. “He simply did everything and anything that was needed, from answering the door to cleaning the floors; from fixing shoes and doing students’ laundry to cutting hair. It seems wonderfully apt and instructive that the first Holy Cross saint was a man who insisted, sometimes testily, that ‘to serve is sweeter than to be served.’”

Born Alfred Bessette on Aug. 9, 1845, in Saint-Grégoire d’Iberville, Québec, Brother André was one of 12 children. By the time he was 12 years old, his father, a lumberman, had been killed in a work accident and his mother had died of tuberculosis. Physically diminutive, chronically ill, uneducated and clumsy with his hands, the young Bessette nevertheless worked as a farmhand, shoemaker, baker, and blacksmith in Québec for six years before leaving for New England, where he spent four years working in textile factories and farms in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

From his earliest childhood, he was quietly but conspicuously prayerful, an inclination which seemed only to intensify during his hardscrabble years as an itinerant laborer, and when he returned to Canada in 1867, he confessed an interest in formal religious life to his local parish priest, who sent him to a nearby community of Holy Cross brothers with a letter assuring its superior that “I am sending you a saint.”

The largely illiterate 25-year old novice was put to work as a porter, or doorman, at Montréal’s Collège of Notre Dame, an assignment in which he continued for the next 40 years.

In addition to welcoming visitors, he served as janitor, launderer, and sacristan, ran errands and provided the students with cheap haircuts. Throughout these years his reputation for humility and kindness grew, as did the numbers of visitors he received. Most of these were poor and sick people, to whom he offered not only his compassion and what material assistance he could provide, but also moral and spiritual advice. Many of his visitors attributed miraculous cures to him, but he would insist, sometimes with annoyance, that any such cures were attributable to the prayers of Saint Joseph.

Brother André’s particular affection for St. Joseph, in addition to the need to accommodate the throngs of people seeking his help, advice and prayers, led to the foundation of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, at first a small structure constructed on Mount Royal with funds from small donations and Brother André’s barbershop income and now a massive basilica which attracts some 2 million pilgrims each year.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

You gotta love this!

I came upon this as I was preparing my talk for our Pre-Cana session today...Providential????

Anyway, since Monmouth Park is just 5 minutes away, I thought y'all would enjoy this.

Come to the Parish Campout and the Bonfire Mass tonight! A great night to gather for some end of summer fun!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has announced that the full text of the English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, has been issued for the dioceses of the United States of America.

The text was approved by the Vatican, and the approval was accompanied by a June 23 letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation also provided guidelines for publication.

In addition, on July 24, the Vatican gave approval for several adaptations, including additional prayers for the Penitential Act at Mass and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. Also approved are texts of prayers for feasts specific to the United States such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and the observances of feasts for saints such as Damien of Molokai, Katharine Drexel, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. The Vatican also approved the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life, which can be celebrated on January 22.

Cardinal George announced receipt of the documents in an August 20 letter to the U.S. Bishops and issued a decree of proclamation that states that “The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We've received word from Rome that the new English translation of the Roman Missal has been completed and we can begin the process of catechizing American Catholics to prepare to receive this new translation of the Mass in English. Pictured above is a photo of a Mass being celebrated in the chapel of Moreau Seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. I have been thinking a lot about scenes like this, and how they reflect the values of full, conscious, and active participation in the Liturgy. Back in July at the NPM convention (National Association of Pastoral Musicians), Sr. Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ gave a wonderful keynote address, reflecting on some of the current fears and hopes people have about the upcoming new translation. Check it out at:

I think Sr. Kathleen, (the first woman to receive a Doctorate in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and the first religious sister) is a voice of a time when lots of greatly religious people, are being drawn into the "liturgy wars" and polemics between, and among religions.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A treat for Assumption Day

Thanks to Fr. Austin Fleming over at A Concord Pastor Comments, I found this video from Busted Halo. Enjoy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, I attended a workshop for priests and diocesan leaders on "Receiving the Roman Missal" held nearby at Monmouth University. As you can imagine, lots of old friends from around the region showed up for the workshop, and I was very impressed by the great numbers of Trenton priests who showed up for the workshop.

The workshop was sponsored by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) and the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship (BCDW) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). This workshop is part of the national effort by the Cattholic Bishops to prepare the priests, laity, and others for a smooth reception of the new translation of the Roman Missal. As of this writing, we still do not have an official date for the Offical Implementation of the new Missal translation. The presenters at this workshop, being very good cheer-leaders, were giving us the message that we'll begin using the new book on the First Sunday of Advent, 2011. My friends from FDLC and I are not so optimistic....we think it may take another year to actually get a new book.

I have heard from friends in Rome and elsewhere that there are, even now, changes being made to the text of the translation that will be coming to us very soon. In point of fact, even the Bishops of the U.S. don't know what these changes will be. NOBODY knows what the text looks like at this point:....not the Bishops, not the publishers, and certainly not the liturgical advisors to the bishops.

This is certainly an interesting time for the American Church....keep singing, keep praying!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A great wedding!

On this past Friday night, we had a great and joyful celebration at Saint Anselm. We celebrated the wedding of our parish musician, Mike Zorner, and another of our musicians, Claire Bove. Both are longtime parishioners, and have been serving the parish community for many years. It was a great honor and joy to preside at the celebration. I was very happy to welcome back our former pastor, Fr. Bob Kaeding, and also my friend, Msgr. Sam Sirianni, to help preside at the wedding.

We were honored with the presence of almost 200 people for the wedding, most of whom were long-time parishioners, who have known Claire and Michael for many years, and who helped form them in the faith. Also, many pastoral musicians from many parts of the diocese were present in the congregation for Mass, and I heard some wonderful harmonies coming from the congregation throughout the Mass. We had a beautiful celebration of Mass, and a wonderful reception with champagne and desserts! Yes, there were even chocolate-covered strawberries! Yum!

So many people commented to me that they've never been to a Catholic wedding like this. I kept responding, "We just went by the book....this is how it should be all of the time!" I confess to using the prayers from the 1995 revision of the Marriage Rite (that never officially got translated into English), but people seemed pleased with the rites, the prayers, and especially the music.

Many blessings upon Claire and Michael. I look forward to many years of ministering with them!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Very interesting article in National Catholic a Bishop!

Catholic social teaching finds church leadership lacking
'Leadership does not have all the answers all the time'

Jul. 08, 2010
By Bishop Kevin Dowling
Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa (CNS file photo) Printer-friendly version
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PDF versionFollowing is a talk by Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa. Dowling told NCR in a telephone interview today that he gave the talk June 1 to a group of "influential lay Catholics" who meet periodically for lunch in Cape Town. The group, Dowling said, had asked him to speak "on how I view the current state of the church."

"In subsequent conversations, it became clear to me that the group of well-informed Catholic lay leaders wanted an analysis that would be open and very honest," Dowling said July 8. "Given the fact that it would be a select group with no media present, I decided I would be open and honest in my views to initiate debate and discussion."

A reporter, however, was present and what Dowling meant as an "off the record" conversation with lay leaders became local news. Dowling subsequently sent copies of his talk to his fellow South African bishops. NCR received a copy of the document and contacted Dowling to verify its authenticity.

Dowling sent NCR an original copy of the talk and gave us permission to post it online. Following is the text of Dowling's June 1 talk to lay Catholic leaders in South Africa.

Dowling began the talk by reading an account by NCR Washington correspondent Jerry Filteau about a Latin Mass celebrated in April at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Tulsa Bishop Edward Slattery celebrated the Mass, which featured, in Filteau's words, "the cappa magna, the 20-yard-long brilliant red train behind a bishop or cardinal that has come to be one of the symbols of the revival of the Tridentine Mass. "

* * * * * * * * * *

The Southern Cross [South Africa's weekly Catholic newspaper] about 3 or 4 weeks ago published a picture of Bishop Slattery with his "cappa magna". For me, such a display of what amounts to triumphalism in a church torn apart by the sexual abuse scandal, is most unfortunate. What happened there bore the marks of a medieval royal court, not the humble, servant leadership modeled by Jesus. But it seems to me that this is also a symbol of what has been happening in the church especially since pope John Paul II became the Bishop of Rome and up till today -- and that is "restorationism," the carefully planned dismantling of the theology, ecclesiology, pastoral vision, indeed the "opening of the windows" of Vatican II -- in order to "restore" a previous, or more controllable model of church through an increasingly centralized power structure; a structure which now controls everything in the life of the church through a network of Vatican congregations led by cardinals who ensure strict compliance with what is deemed by them to be "orthodox." Those who do not comply face censure and punishment, e.g. theologians who are forbidden to teach in Catholic faculties.

Lest we do not highlight sufficiently this important fact. Vatican II was an ecumenical council, i.e., a solemn exercise of the magisterium of the church, i.e. the college of bishops gathered together with the bishop of Rome and exercising a teaching function for the whole church. In other words, its vision, its principles and the direction it gave are to be followed and implemented by all, from the pope to the peasant farmer in the fields of Honduras.

Since Vatican II there has been no such similar exercise of teaching authority by the magisterium. Instead, a series of decrees, pronouncements and decisions which have been given various "labels" stating, for example, that they must be firmly held to with "internal assent" by the Catholic faithful, but in reality are simply the theological or pastoral interpretations or opinions of those who have power at the centre of the church. They have not been solemnly defined as belonging to the "deposit of the faith" to be believed and followed, therefore, by all Catholics, as with other solemnly proclaimed dogmas. For example, the issues of celibacy for the priesthood and the ordination of women, withdrawn even from the realm of discussion. Therefore, such pronouncements are open to scrutiny -- to discern whether they are in accord, for example, with the fundamental theological vision of Vatican II, or whether there is indeed a case to be made for a different interpretation or opinion.

When I worked internationally from my religious congregation's base in Rome from 1985 to 1990 [Dowling is a Redemptorist] before I came back here as bishop of Rustenburg, one of my responsibilities was the building up of young adult ministry with our communities in the countries of Europe where so many of the young people were alienated from the church. I developed relationships with many hundreds of sincere, searching Catholic young adults, very open to issues of injustice, poverty and misery in the world, aware of structural injustice in the political and economic systems which dominated the world, but who increasingly felt that the "official" church was not only out of touch with reality, but a counter-witness to the aspirations of thinking and aware Catholics who sought a different experience of church. In other words, an experience which enabled them to believe that the church they belonged to had something relevant to say and to witness to in the very challenging world in which they lived. Many, many of these young adults have since left the church entirely.

On the other hand, it has to be recognized that for a significant number of young Catholics, adult Catholics, priests and religious around the world, the "restorationist" model of church which has been implemented over the past 30-40 years is sought after and valued; it meets a need in them; it gives them a feeling of belonging to something with very clear parameters and guidelines for living, thus giving them a sense of security and clarity about what is truth and what is morally right or wrong, because there is a clear and strong authority structure which decides definitively on all such questions, and which they trust absolutely as being of divine origin.

The rise of conservative groups and organizations in the church over the past 40 years and more, which attract significant numbers of adherents, has led to a phenomenon which I find difficult to deal with, viz. an inward looking church, fearful of if not antagonistic towards a secularist world with its concomitant danger of relativism especially in terms of truth and morality -- frequently referred to by pope Benedict XVI; a church which gives an impression of "retreating behind the wagons," and relying on a strong central authority to ensure unity through uniformity in belief and praxis in the face of such dangers. The fear is that without such supervision and control, and that if any freedom in decision-making is allowed, even in less important matters, this will open the door to division and a breakdown in the unity of the church.

This is all about a fundamentally different "vision" in the church and "vision" of the church. Where today can we find the great theological leaders and thinkers of the past, like Cardinal [Joseph] Frings of Cologne, Germany] and [Bernard Jan ] Alfrink [Utrecht, Netherlands] in Europe, and the great prophetic bishops whose voice and witness was a clarion call to justice, human rights and a global community of equitable sharing -- the witness of Archbishop [Oscar] Romero of El Salvador, the voices of Cardinals [Paulo Evaristo] Arns and [Aloísio Leo Arlindo ] Lorscheider, and Bishops [Dom] Helder Camara and [Pedro] Casadaliga of Brazil? Again, who in today's world "out there" even listens to, much less appreciates and allows themselves to be challenged by the leadership of the church at the present time? I think the moral authority of the church's leadership today has never been weaker. It is, therefore, important in my view that church leadership, instead of giving an impression of its power, privilege and prestige, should rather be experienced as a humble, searching ministry together with its people in order to discern the most appropriate or viable responses which can be made to complex ethical and moral questions -- a leadership, therefore, which does not presume to have all the answers all the time.

But to change focus a bit. One of the truly significant contributions of the church to the building up of a world in which people and communities can live in peace and dignity, with a quality of life which befits those made in God's image, has been the body of what has been called "Catholic Social Teaching", a compendium of which has been released during the past few years. These social teaching principles are: The Common Good, Solidarity, The Option for the Poor, Subsidiarity, The Common Destiny of Goods, The Integrity of Creation, and People-Centerdness -- all based on and flowing out of the values of the Gospel. Here we have very relevant principles and guidelines to engage with complex social, economic, cultural and political realities, especially as these affect the poorest and most vulnerable members of societies everywhere. These principles should enable us, as church, to critique constructively all socio-political-economic systems and policies - and especially from that viewpoint, viz. their effect on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

However, if church leadership anywhere presumes to criticize or critique socio-political-economic policies and policy makers, or governments, it must also allow itself to be critiqued in the same way in terms of its policies, its internal life, and especially its modus operandi. A democratic culture and praxis, with its focus on the participation of citizens and holding accountable those who are elected to govern, is increasingly appreciated in spite of inevitable human shortcomings. When thinking people of all persuasions look at church leadership, they raise questions about, for example, real participation of the membership in its governance and how in fact church leadership is to be held accountable, and to whom. If the church, and its leadership, professes to follow the values of the Gospel and the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, then its internal life, its methods of governing and its use of authority will be scrutinized on the basis of what we profess. Let us take one social teaching principle, vitally important for ensuring participative democracy in the socio-political domain, viz. subsidiarity.

I worked with the [South African] bishops' conference Justice and Peace Department for 17 years. After our political liberation in 1994, we discerned that political liberation in itself would have little relevance to the reality of the poor and marginalized unless it resulted in their economic emancipation. We therefore decided that a fundamental issue for post-1994 South Africa was economic justice. After a great deal of discussion at all levels we issued a Pastoral Statement in 1999, which we entitled "Economic Justice in South Africa". Its primary focus was necessarily on the economy. Among other things, it dealt with each of the Catholic Social Teaching principles, and I give a quotation now from part of its treatment of subsidiarity:

"The principle of subsidiarity protects the rights of individuals and groups in the face of the powerful, especially the state. It holds that those things which can be done or decided at a lower level of society should not be taken over by a higher level. As such, it reaffirms our right and our capacity to decide for ourselves how to organise our relationships and how to enter into agreements with others. … We can and should take steps to encourage decision-making at lower levels of the economy, and to empower the greatest number of people to participate as fully as possible in economic life." (Economic Justice in South Africa, page 14).

Applied to the church, the principle of subsidiarity requires of its leadership to actively promote and encourage participation, personal responsibility and effective engagement by everyone in terms of their particular calling and ministry in the church and world according to their opportunities and gifts.

However, I think that today we have a leadership in the church which actually undermines the very notion of subsidiarity; where the minutiae of church life and praxis "at the lower level" are subject to examination and authentication being given by the "higher level," in fact the highest level, e.g., the approval of liturgical language and texts; where one of the key Vatican II principles, collegiality in decision-making, is virtually non-existent. The eminent emeritus Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Franz König, wrote the following in 1999 -- almost 35 years after Vatican II: "In fact, however, de facto and not de jure, intentionally or unintentionally, the curial authorities working in conjunction with the pope have appropriated the tasks of the episcopal college. It is they who now carry out almost all of them" ("My Vision of the church of the Future", The Tablet, March 27, 1999, p. 434).

What compounds this, for me, is the mystique which has in increasing measure surrounded the person of the pope in the last 30 years, such that any hint of critique or questioning of his policies, his way of thinking, his exercise of authority etc. is equated with disloyalty. There is more than a perception, because of this mystique, that unquestioning obedience by the faithful to the pope is required and is a sign of the ethos and fidelity of a true Catholic. When the pope's authority is then intentionally extended to the Vatican curia, there exists a real possibility that unquestioning obedience to very human decisions about a whole range of issues by the curial departments and cardinals also becomes a mark of one's fidelity as a Catholic, and anything less is interpreted as being disloyal to the pope who is charged with steering the bark of Peter.

It has become more and more difficult over the past years, therefore, for the College of Bishops as a whole, or in a particular territory, to exercise their theologically-based servant leadership to discern appropriate responses to their particular socio-economic, cultural, liturgical, spiritual and other pastoral realities and needs; much less to disagree with or seek alternatives to policies and decisions taken in Rome. And what appears to be more and more the policy of appointing "safe", unquestionably orthodox and even very conservative bishops to fill vacant dioceses over the past 30 years, only makes it less and less likely that the College of Bishops -- even in powerful conferences like the United States -- will question what comes out of Rome, and certainly not publicly. Instead, there will be every effort to try and find an accommodation with those in power, which means that the Roman position will prevail in the end. And, taking this further, when an individual bishop takes issue with something, especially in public, the impression or judgment will be that he is "breaking ranks" with the other bishops and will only cause confusion to the lay faithful -- so it is said - because it will appear that the bishops are not united in their teaching and leadership role. The pressure, therefore, to conform.

What we should have, in my view, is a church where the leadership recognizes and empowers decision-making at the appropriate levels in the local church; where local leadership listens to and discerns with the people of God of that area what "the Spirit is saying to the church" and then articulates that as a consensus of the believing, praying, serving community. It needs faith in God and trust in the people of God to take what may seem to some or many as a risk. The church could be enriched as a result through a diversity which truly integrates socio-cultural values and insights into a living and developing faith, together with a discernment of how such diversity can promote unity in the church -- and not, therefore, require uniformity to be truly authentic.

Diversity in living and praxis, as an expression of the principle of subsidiarity, has been taken away from the local churches everywhere by the centralization of decision-making at the level of the Vatican. In addition, orthodoxy is more and more identified with conservative opinions and outlook, with the corresponding judgment that what is perceived to be "liberal" is both suspect and not orthodox, and therefore to be rejected as a danger to the faith of the people.

Is there a way forward? I have grappled with this question especially in the light of the apparent division of aspiration and vision in the church. How do you reconcile such very different visions of church, or models of church? I do not have the answer, except that somewhere we must find an attitude of respect and reverence for difference and diversity as we search for a living unity in the church; that people be allowed, indeed enabled, to find or create the type of community which is expressive of their faith and aspirations concerning their Christian and Catholic lives and engagement in church and world, and which strives to hold in legitimate and constructive tension the uncertainties and ambiguities that all this will bring, trusting in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

At the heart of this is the question of conscience. As Catholics, we need to be trusted enough to make informed decisions about our life, our witness, our expressions of faith, spirituality, prayer, and involvement in the world -- on the basis of a developed conscience. And, as an invitation to an appreciation of conscience and conscientious decisions about life and participation in what is a very human church, I close with the formulation or understanding given by none other than the theologian, Fr. Josef Ratzinger, now pope, when he was a peritus, or expert, at Vatican II:

"Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one's own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even the official church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism".
(Joseph Ratzinger in: Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II ,Vol. V., pg. 134 (Ed) H. Vorgrimler, New York, Herder and Herder, 1967).

Bishop Kevin Dowling C.Ss.R.
Cape Town, June 1, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The New Roman Missal

Today, I had the chance to chat with a couple of our neighboring pastors, and I was really surprised that they hadn't heard about an important workshop coming to our diocese, indeed to our own backyard, at Monmouth University in August. It's a workshop sponsored by FDLC and the BCDW (Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship) on the implementation of the new Roman Missal. It's going to be one of 20 workshops like this to be offered all over the country.

I think that it's really important for all of the priests of the Trenton Diocese, and of New Jersey to take advantage of this workshop. We will have top-notch presenters and leaders of the FDLC present at this event, including Bishop John M. Smith of the Trenton Diocese, Archbishop Donald Reece from Jamaica, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ and the chair of the BCDW, and Msgr. John Burton, the Executive Director of the FDLC will be present at this workshop. All should be able to share some valuable insights into the new Missal, as well as insights into effective preparation techniques to help with the much-needed catechesis that we'll need to do as pastors and church leaders.

Here's a link to the info about the workshop here in Trenton in August:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Check this out!

Not sure what to think of this!

I wouldn't feel comfortable singing a song like this, if I were being installed as a new Bishop of a diocese....

...but that may be why I'll never be considered for being a Bishop!

Let me know what you think of this!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Take up your Cross

We hear in today's Gospel: "Take up your cross....and follow me." Powerful words.

What are the crosses in YOUR lives? What are you "bearing"? Use the Comment line to let me know.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A new Co-adjutor Bishop for Trenton!

Today, at a 10:00 a.m. Press Conference held at the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Trenton, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI has named Rev. David O'Connell, C.M. as the Co-adjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton. Bishop-elect O'Connell, the recent President of the Catholic University of America, is no stranger to the Diocese. He attended high-school in Princeton, his religous community has some foundations in our diocese, and he was planning a sabbatical at the Jersey Shore!

So much for sabbatical plans!

We welcome the new Bishop to the Diocese of Trenton, and we look forward to walking with him in the future years.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Big Day Later Today!

In the Diocese oF Trenton, we're expecing BIG NEWS later today. There is scheduled a 10:00 a.m. Press Conference in Trenton.

Lots of rumors are floating around.

For my money, I'll bet that they are going to announce the naming of a Coadjutor Bishop for Bishop John. M. Smith. Bishop Smith is due to submit his resignation on his 75th birthday later this month, so tomorrow's events aren't totally unexpected.

Tune in to the Vatican website for official news regarding the new appointment.

Let's pray for each other as we enter this new chapter!

In Christ's peace,

Fr. Gene

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Coach Brian Kelly at the Jersey Shore!

Tonight, the Notre Dame Club of the Jersey Shore held its annual Universal Notre Dame night. The guest speaker from campus was the new head football coach, Brian Kelly. Coach Kelly was very gracious, and upbeat, and personable...somewhat different from experiences over the past few years. I had a chance to meet with Coach, and I assured him of our club's support, and my own personal prayers for he and his family as they begin this new, exciting chapter in their lives.
A special word of thanks has to go to all of the Club Officers: Jason Korth, our president; Kerrie Wagner, our vice-president; Bill and MaryJane Reilly; Mike and Sarah Shipman; Megan Jones, John Crilly, and all those who pitched in to make this evening a great and memorable night. After tonight's event, our club will be able to make a significant contribution to the scholarship fund, which helps students from our area attend the University.

Again, thanks to everybody who made this a great event! Go Irish!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pentecost -- The Birthday of the Church

"The inner nature of the church is now made known to us in various images. Taken either from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage, these images have their preparation in the books of the prophets.

The church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also a flock, whose sheep, although watched over by human shepherds, are nevertheless at all times led and brought to pasture by Christ himself, the Good Shepherd and prince of shepherds, who gave his life for his sheep.

The church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator.

Often, too, the church is called the building of God. This edifice has many names to describle it: the house of God in which God's family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among humans; and especially, the holy temple. This temple is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew."


Friday, May 21, 2010

Preparing for Pentecost - 2

"God's City: that image has long gathered to itself massive human hopes. Would that there were a city, with all the intensity and vigor of the great cities that have centered human life and attracted human imagination and made order out of the human experience of geography, but now whole, sheltering and welcoming all, healing, luminous with God's presence, with the Spirit of God.

Such a city would be where God dwells.

Well, say Augustine and Luther and much of the Christian tradition, to taste the meal is already to find oneself entering into the city. The exchange of the meal--we bring wretchedness and are given blessedness--is the commerce of the city.

But is it for us?

Come to the table. The gift of the meal is the word of Christ--"My body, my blood for you" -- which may be kept, kept in the heart, held, the risen one still speaking there. Those who receive it become the very dwelling place of God. Where God dwells there is the city. Eat and drink. In the visible word which is the bread and cup, you are gathered with all the redeemed little ones into the city of the Lamb."


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Preparing for Pentecost

"You are a fire always burning but never consuming; you are a fire consuming in your heat all the soul's selfish love; you are a fire lifting all chill and giving light. In your light you have made me know your truth. You are that light beyond all light who gives the mind's eye supernatural light in such fullness and perfection that you bring clarity even to the light of faith. In that faith I see that my soul has life, and in that light receives you who are Light."


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Getting ready for Pentecost

This weekend, we celebrate the end of the great Easter Season with the great feast of Pentecost!

Wear something red to Mass!

Don't be surprised if we pull out all of the stops, and you smell nice incense, we have extra people in the processions, and great music!!! Get ready! You may hear a very new call to spread the Good News!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

If ye love me

A classic rendition of a wonderful hymn for these last days of the Easter Season. Enjoy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting ready for Sunday Mass

Check out this video, and put it on your "favorites." This site is a great place to help everybody to get ready for Sunday Mass!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Something Joyful for the Easter Season

Just a joyful little video. I'm new to the whole concept of "mob-dance" but it looks like a lot of fun.

Now I hope my neice Jessica applies to Ohio State for her college years.

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Prayer for Priests

This past year has been designated the "Year for Priests," and I have been remiss in sharing some resources that have been developed in this "year."

However, a very good resource comes from my friend and colleague from the Archdiocese of Boston, Rev. Austin Fleming, the pastor of Concord MA. Austin has his own blog, and I often borrow from him.

One of the best things he has on his blog is a Prayer for Priests that he posts on Friday mornings. With thanks for his friendship and example, I reproduce his prayer for you:

A Prayer for Priests

Gracious God, loving Father,
font of every gift and good,
make of priests for us we pray:

men of faith, men of love,
humble servants of your Word,
prophets of your Spirit’s grace;

men of hope, men of peace,
strong defenders of the truth,
heralds of your holy gospel;

men of prayer, men of praise,
guardians of our sacred rites,
of the scriptures and tradition;

men of changelessness and change,
men who follow you each day,
when and where your Spirit leads;

men of tenderness and strength,
comfort for the sick and weary,
shepherds leading home the lost;

men of counsel, men of wisdom,
gentle guides for the confused,
lights along the darkened path;

men of mercy, patient men,
understanding and consoling
of the grieving and abused;

men of justice and compassion,
reconciling and forgiving,
men of healing in your name;

men of sacrifice and honor,
single minded in your service,
set apart to do your will;

men of holiness and joy,
men anointed by your grace,
men ordained to serve as Christ.

Make us one with them in faith
and in Christ your only Son
in whose holy name we pray.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Info on the Roman Missal

Please be sure to check out the webpage for the U.S. Bishops for up to date information on resources for the implementation.

Here's the first of a series of "Bulletin Inserts" for use in parishes to help in catecesis on the new Roman Missal:

The Worshiping Assembly at Mass
The celebration of Mass is a corporate act, an act of the whole assembly gathered for worship. All the particular ministries serve this corporate function (GIRM, no. 27). In the Mass, the Church is joined to the action of Christ, the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit (no. 16). We are joined to this divine action through baptism, which incorporates us into the risen Christ. This action, which lies at the center of the whole Christian life (no. 16) is not initiated by us but by God acting in and through the Church as the body of the risen Christ. It becomes our action only to the extent that we give ourselves to this mystery of redemptive worship. The liturgy is designed to bring about in all those who make up the worshiping assembly a participation of the faithful both in body and mind, a participation burning with faithful, hope, and charity (no. 18). To the extent that we are able to participate in this way, the work of redemption becomes personally effective for each of us. By such participation, the General Instruction says, we make the actions and prayers of the liturgy our own; we enter more fully into our personal communion with Christ's redeeming act and perfect worship (see no. 54, 55, etc.).

In the celebration of Mass the faithful are a holy people, a chosen people, a royal priesthood: they give thanks to God and offer the Victim not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him and learn to offer themselves. They should endeavor to make this clear by their deep sense of reverence for God and their charity toward brothers and sisters who share with them in the celebration (no. 95). They should become one body, whether by hearing the word of God, or joining in prayers and liturgical song, or above all by offering the sacrifice together and sharing together in the Lord's table (no. 96).

Because the whole liturgy is a corporate act of the gathered assembly (GIRM no. 34; Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1144), there are certain parts of the Mass that are to be done by the whole assembly, the congregation of the faithful and all the ministers, in order to express the corporate nature of this act. Through these actions, the entire congregation of the faithful joins itself to Christ in acknowledging the great things that God has done and in offering the sacrifice (no. 78). These acts include:

Listening with reverence to the readings of God's word (GIRM no. 29);

Engaging in the dialogue of prayer through acclamations, greetings, and responses to spoken and sung prayers (no. 34-37) in a tone suitable to the text (no. 38);

Joining in an action through common postures and gestures (no. 42);

Participating in communal silence (no. 45);

Because of their baptismal dignity, letting themselves be included in the offering symbolized by incensation (no. 75);

Participating in the greeting of peace as a sign of ecclesial communion and love for each other (no. 82);

Participating in specific spoken prayers and other texts, namely:

the formula of general confession during the penitential rite (no. 51);

the profession of faith (no. 67-68);

the general intercessions (no. 69);

the Lord's Prayer (no. 81);

the prayer of humility before sacramental communion (no. 84);

Participating in the offering during the Eucharistic Prayer, which is spoken or chanted by the priest, but in which all should join as the Church to offer the "spotless Victim to the Father in the Holy Spirit" and "offer themselves and so day by day to surrender themselves, through Christ the Mediator, to an ever more complete union with God and with each other, so that at last God may be all in all" (no. 79f);

Participating in liturgical song, because singing is a way of expressing both the corporate nature of the act of worship and the intense union to be achieved between God and the Church in Christ through the Holy Spirit. It is a union so intense and total that it is described as a union between lovers whose nature is best expressed vocally in song (no. 39). Singing is also an act which unifies and focuses the individual (no. 39), thus encouraging that "participation in body and spirit that is conscious, active, full, and motivated by faith, hope, and charity" (no. 18). These songs and acclamations are normally to be sung, in whole or in part, by all the participants:

opening liturgical song (no. 48);

Kyrie (no. 52);

Gloria (no. 53);

Responsorial psalm (no. 61);

Gospel acclamation (no. 62);

Song at the preparation of gifts (no. 74);

Sanctus, memorial acclamation, and Amen (no. 79, 151);

The Lord's Prayer (no. 81);

Lamb of God (no. 83);

the optional psalm, canticle of praise, or hymn after communion (no. 88).

For those who are properly disposed (no. 80), full, active, and conscious participation is expressed in partaking in the Holy Communion of the Lord, receiving in the one bread consecrated at this Mass the Lord's body and blood, in the same way that the apostles received them from Christ's own hands (no. 72.3).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back from Notre Dame

Back from the meetings of the Alumni Senate at Notre Dame. Good times. I learned lots of great things about the new "Social Media" outlets available today.

Highlight: I got to meet the new Football coach, Brian Kelly! We had a very nice "reception" in the Press-Box of the Football stadium, and in the midst of it, we had a nice talk from Coach Kelly, and then a great question and answer time.

As Coach was leaving, I planted myself in front of the doorway, in my full Roman Collar and black suit. I told coach that we were looking forward to hosting him at the Jersey Shore,....when he asked where the event was going to be. I told him, "In Long Branch."

He says, "I've got a good friend with a restaurant in Long ever hear of 'Avenue?'"

I say: "Hell yeah. It's a great restaurant! The best on the beach in Long Branch."

After that, he got pulled away by Chuck Lennon, the Dir. of the Alumni Association, but I felt that I had made a connection.

Anyway....he'll be here in NJ on Sunday, May 23 at the Ocean Place Hotel/Resort in Long Branch for our annual Universal Notre Dame Night. Cocktails, Dinner, and program with Coach Kelly for $100. Call me if you want/need more info!

Fr. Gene: 732 904 2012

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bread, Wine, Milk and Honey

In the early church, at the Liturgy where new members were initiated, besides bread and wine being blessed and consecrated and given to the newly baptized, St. Hippolytus tells us that a cup of milk mixed with sweet honey would be blessed and given to the neophytes. Apparently, the symbolism was to remind the newbies of the sweetness of life in Christ, their newly-found "Promised Land" that they enjoyed because of their recent baptism.

From St. Hippolytus:

"The deacons then preent the oblation to the bishop. He gives thanks with regard to the bread, which represents the body of Christ; he gives thanks also with regard to the cup, in which the wine is mixed that represents the blood poured out for all those who believe in him. He also gives thanks with regard to the mingled milk and honey, which represents the fulfillment of the promise God made to our ancestors, a promise signified by the land flowing with milk and honey and fulfilled in the flesh of Christ which he gives us and by which believers are nourished like little children, for the sweetness of his word changes the bitterness of our hearts into gentleness. Finally he gives thanks with regard to the water for the oblation, to signify purification, so that the interior and spiritual may receive the same effect as the body. Let the bishop explain all this carefully to those who receive it."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ah, Bread for the Journey!

"In the act of creating bread, an honest loaf, an object with a presence, a fragrance, a substance, a taste, some would say even a soul, the baker has changed grain and flour and liquid into an entitiy. She or he has taken yeast, a dormant colony of living plants, and released and nurtured them in embryonic warmth, has sprinkled in sugar on which yeast thrives, has sifted in flour that builds the cellular elastic structure that holds the tiny carbon dioxide bubbles that raise the framework of the house called bread. And in that house is love, and warmth, and nourishment, and comfort, and care, and caring, and taking care, and time gone by, and time well spent, and things natural, and things good, and honest toil, and work without thought of reward, and all of those things once had, now lost in a country and a world that has rushed by itself and passed itself, running, and never noticed the loss."


Friday, April 9, 2010

Holy Thursday Homily from Notre Dame

The homilist at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday at the University of Notre Dame is traditionally the Provincial Superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross. The current superior is the Rev. David Tyson, C.S.C.
I will be back on campus next week for the Alumni Senate meetings, and it will be good to reconnect with my old friend, Fr. Tyson.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Easter to L.A.!

Congratulations to our friends in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles! They have a new coadjutor-Archbishop! The successor to Cardinal Mahony is Archbishop Jose Gomez!

I really admire the process that Cardinal Mahony undertook as he approached his 74th birthday....he asked Rome to name a coadutor Archbishop to be with him in his last days as Archbishop of L.A., and then to succeed him with a real working-knowledge of the archdiocese. Such an action really shows that Mahony truly is a humble man, and a gentleman. Would that we had more bishops in the U.S. like Roger Mahony!

More Easter Reflections

"What a wondrous spectacle we witness each year as nature awakens from her winter slumbers! What transformation in field and forest as the pall of ice and snow is blown aside by spring's warm winds and buds appear on tree and bush. If our gaze could but permeate nature's workshops and see the tremendous activity in every sector, how tiny roots are bursting with life-giving sap, ready at a moment's notice to break forth and form the thick, soft carpet of leaves and flowers upon which spring will make her triumphal entry into the land. Today, as I am writing this, the entire landscape is bleak, gray, dead. But in two months the meadows will be green, the trees will be full of blossoms, the birds will be singing, a sense of joy and happiness and well-being will fill the land. For nature will have come to life again!

It should be one of our objectives to regain this sense of close association with nature. The natural rhythm of the seasons should be a source of constant delight. Every tiny flower, every little animal, the rays of the sun, the chirp of birds, everything that spring brings back to us should inspire sentiments of joy and gratitude over our good fortune.

However, we must not remain on the plane of nature; for us nature is a holy symbol. It is a picture-book given by God to his children in which they may see his beauty and his love; a picture-book which tells of another world which now at Easter is likewise celebrating resurrection, the world of supernatural life within us.

Spring with its transformation of hill and meadow is, accordingly, a great symbol of an event in sacred history and of an event now taking place within the church. Springtime is nature executing her Sprintime liturgy. Neither poverty nor art can even approximate her grand display. In every corner of her vast cathedral a thousand voices are shouting Alleluia, the voices of creatures that have come to life. Yes, nature holy, sinless, eternal, is holding her Easter rites. Oh, that we had eyes to see this mystery!"


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Week practices for Families

"So it is right and proper that we celebrate the days of Easter with joy. I will admit to having kept my children out of school on Easter Monday for years. The school holidays before Easter were steeped in preparation and anticipation. Now we needed time for rejoicing. I think the children liked that Monday holiday especially; it was so unlike us to take a "well day" off work and school.

On Easter Monday we have gone to an early Mass to hear the delightful gospel and Alleluias again. Then we have always found a body of water to visit and enjoy -- a river, a lake, a stream, the marshes -- fresh, life-giving waters like that which were blessed at the Easter Vigil, like the waters of our baptism which we remember at this time. The story Emmaus seems to inspire a walk in nature. We see the evidence of transformation all around us in the new green of springtime.

When the children were small we would plan to meet another family or two, usually by the marsh waters near our home. That was the favorite Easter Monday picnic place. The marsh birds were actively expressing their rites of spring and with bird books and field glasses we would identify them and watch them nest. Sometimes there were baby ducks to feed.

Always we got wet. We learned about the traditions of getting wet on Easter Monday first from a favorite children't book which we have read and reread for years especially at Eastertime. The Good Master by Kate Serdy tells of an Hungarian family, and the accounts of their Easter celebrations especially caught our interest. On Easter Monday, the young boys of the Hungarian villages went from house to house, and wherever young girls lived, they came up to the door, recited a blessing and then splashed the girls with water. The girls in turn invited them in and everyone feasted on Easter specialties, and the girsl gave the boys some of their carefully painted eggs to take home. On Easter Tuesday they replayed the whole game in reverse.

Then a Polish friend of mine surprised me one Easter Monday morning with such a wet blessing, and 'it took.' Our children felt so inspired that it has become a part of our Easter Monday rites at the water's edge."


Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Light

"Flame, which is a figure for the soul, is also a figure for the living God; for 'God is light and in him there is no darkness.' As the flame radiates light so God radiates truth, and the soul by receiving truth is united with God, as our eyes by seeing its light are united with the flame. And, as the flame radiates heat, so does God radiate the warmth of goodness; and as the hand and the cheek by perceiving the warmth become one with the flame, so whoever loves God becomes one with him in goodness. But also, just as the candle remains free and disengaged in its place, so does God abide unmoved 'dwelling in unapproachable light.'

Flame, emitting light, emitting heat, is an image to us of the living God.

All this comes very much home to us on Holy Saturday when the Easter Candle, which symbolizes Christ, is lighted. Three times, each time in a higher tone, the deacon (sic) sings 'Lumen Christi'...At once every lamp and candle in the church is lighted from it, and the whole building is alight and aglow with the radiance and warmth of God's presence."


O Splendor of the Father's light
That makes our daylight lucid, bring;
O Light of light and sun of day,
Now shine on us your brightest ray.

True Sun, break out on earth and shine
In radiance with your light divine;
By dazzling of your Spirit's might,
Oh, give our jaded senses light.

The Father sends his Son, our Lord,
To be his bright and shining Word;
Come, Lord, ride out your gleaming course
And be our dawn, our light's true source.

Fourth Century

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

"Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day to be hallowed forever;
Day when our Lord was raised, breaking the kingdom of death.

All the fair beauty of earth from the death of the winter arising!
Ev'ry good gift of the year now with its master returns.

Rise from the grave now, O Lord, the author of life and creation,
Treading the pathway of death, new life you give to us all.

God the Almighty, the Lord, the ruler of earth and the heavens,
Guard us from harm without; cleasne us from evil within.

Jesus, the health of the world, enlighten our minds, great Redeemer,
Son of the Father supreme, only begotten of God.

Spirit of life and of power, now flow in us, fount of our being.
Light that enlightens us all, life that in all may abide.

Praise to the giver of good! O Lover and Author of concord,
Pour out your balm on our days; order owr ways in your peace."

Sixth Century

Saturday, April 3, 2010

He is RISEN!

This video reminds me so much of my carefree days as a seminarian at Notre Dame! It is Easter for me!

The singing Bishop-celebrant is Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. of Peoria, IL, who was my religious superior when I was in the seminary. FYI, Bishop Jenky STILL sings as much as possible!

Also, at the end of the video, check out related videos featuring the same hymn!


Friday, April 2, 2010

What the Lord saw from the Cross

James Tissot: What Our Lord Saw from the Cross (Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix) - Click on image for larger version

In the most memorable, and even notorious, of Tissot’s images, Christ looks out at the crowd of spectators arrayed before him: Mary Magdalene, in the immediate foreground, with her long red tresses swirling down her back, kneels at his feet, which are clearly visible at the bottom center of the composition. Beyond her, the Virgin Mary clutches her breast, while John the Evangelist looks up with hands clasped.

The artist here adopts the point of view of Christ himself. Few painters have conceived a composition this daring. In his audacity, however, Tissot remains true to his artistic vision: ultimately, the image is an exercise in empathy. Its point is to give viewers, accustomed to looking at the event from the outside, a rare opportunity to imagine themselves in Christ’s place and consider his final thoughts and feelings as he gazed on the enemies and friends who were witnessing, or participating in, his death.

Good Friday

"Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross,
The invincible trophy of godliness,
The door of paradise,
The foundation of the faithful,
The protection guarding the chruch, by which
corruption is utterly destroyed and the power of
death swallowed up and we are exalted to heaven
from earth.
The invincible weapon,
The adversary of demons,
The glory of martyrs,
The true beauty of saints,
The haven of salvation which gives great mercy to the world.

Orthodox Liturgy

Rejoice, O Guide to the blind,
The healer of the sick,
The resurrection of the dead.
O precious Cross which raises us who have fallen into corruption,
By which the curse is destroyed and incorruption blossoms forth,
By which we earthen creatures are deified and
the devil utterly destroyed.
We behold you today exalted in the hands of the high priest.
We exalt him who was lifted upon you.
And we venerate you from which we richly draw great mercy.

Orthodox liturgy

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday

Tonight at 8:00 p.m. we will celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper. Besides the powerful readings, we will celebrate the ancient rite of washing feet. Here at St. Anselm, it is no small, tidy "play" with only 12 people getting their feet washed. We wash everybody's feet...anyone who comes forward to get their feet washed, is then invited to wash the feet of their neighbor. It's a little messy, but that's the power of good symbol!

"Sing, my tongue, the song of triumph,
Tell the story far and wide;
Tell of dread and final battle,
Sing of Savior crucified;
How upon the cross a victim
Vanquishing in death he died.

He endured the nails, the spitting,
Vinegar and spear and reen;
From that holy body broken
Blood and water forth proceed:
Earth and stars and sky and ocean
By that flood from stain are freed.

Faithful Cross, above all other,
One and only noble tree,
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit your peer may be;
Sweet the wood and sweet the iron
And your load, most sweet is he.

Bend your boughs, O Tree of glory!
All your rigid branches, bend!
For a while the ancient temper
That your birth bestowed, suspend;
And the king of earth and heaven
Gently on your bosom tend."

Sixth Century

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Triduum

"Christ redeemed humankind and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: by dying he destroyed our death and by rising he restored our life. The Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is thus the culmination of the entire liturgical year. What Sunday is to the week, the solemnity of Easter is to the liturgical year.

The Easter triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, reaches its hight point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

On Good Friday and, if possible, also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the Easter fast is observed everywhere.

The celebration of the Lord's passion takes place on Friday during the afternoon hours.

The Easter Vigil, in the night when Christ rose from the dead, is considered the mother of all vigils. During it the church keeps watch, awaiting the resurrection of Christ and celebrating it in the sacraments. The entire celebration of this vigil should take place at night, beginning after nightfall and ending with dawn."


"Even though we are baptized, what we constantly lose and betray is precisely that which we received at baptism. Therefore Easter is our return every year to our own baptism, whereas Lent is our preparation for that return--the slow and sustained effort to perform, at the end, our own "passage" or "pascha" into the new life in Christ....Each year Lent and Easter are, once again, the rediscovery and the recovery by us of what we were made through our own baptismal death and resurrection."


This is the Pasch:
holy the feast we celebrate today.
New and holy is the Pasch,
and Christ, who redeemed us,
is the paschal victim.
The Pasch breathes balm,
is great,
was made for the faithful;
the Pasch opens to us
the gates of paradise.
O Pasch, sanctify all believers.


Wednesday of Holy Week

"The doom-sayers who complain that Roman Catholic worship has lost its mystery have forgotten, perhaps, that symbols are not tidy museum exhibits but messy transactions that involve the fundamental stuff of human exitence: earth, air, fire, water; eggs, seed, fluid and meat; marriage, sex, birth, death. The merit of our recent reforms lies precisely in a re-ordering of the relationship between ritual symbols and human life. By "shortening the distance" between liturgical rites and the ordinary rituals of daily living (through use of the vernacular, for example), a more powerful confrontation between the two can occur. In a word, the reforms move us closer to the raw nerve-center of Christian symbols. We are invited to inch our way toward the edge of the raft, without the benefit of comforting buffers provided by such things as a dead language (such languages are easy to control and manipulate), silent prayers (which are readily ignored or replaced by our own pieties), and cushiony "background" music. Shortening the distance between ourselves and our ritual symbols allows those symbols to sift, critique, shape and judge the quality of our lives. In the reformed rites we find fewer hiding places."

Nathan Mitchell, Ph.D.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday of Holy Week

"The Christian liturgy has never hesitated to speak, simultaneously, a language of sin and a language of healing...The simultaneous presence of both languages creates a tension that makes festivity possible. For unless festivity can deal with the unavoidable ambiguity of real life---its scabs and its successes--it becomes escapist. By insisting that we acknowledge our pain--our failure and finitude--the festivity of worship offers us the possibility of moving beyond it toward a vision of humanity healed and reconciled."

Nathan Mitchell

Chrism Mass, 2010-final report

We had a full cathedral, despite terrible weather. People from all over the diocese came for the celebration. We had more priests show up this year than any in recent memory!

We had a dinner at a nearby parish gym with all of our seminarians, and we celebrated some of the fathers celebrating 25 and 50 years of service.

But serving as a Master of Ceremonies, I had an experience of dealing with our seminarians, our future priests, that left me definitely worried. Some of the seminarians openly rejected our requests that they assist as Ministers of Hospitality....they seemed to indicate that they were "too good for that job." Then I had the experience of asking two transitional deacons to assist with the transporting of the baskets with the Sacred Chrism at the end of Mass, and they both balked, saying, "It is too heavy!"

First reaction: "Gimme a break!"
Second reaction: "We're ordaining these guys priests in June?????"
Third reaction: We must be really desperate if we're going to ordain these Prima-donnas"

Well, it's late, I'm tired and cranky, and I need to pray and become more positive. I hope that they were just having a bad day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chrism Mass 2010

Tomorrow evening, our diocesan priests will gather at the cathedral in Trenton for the celebration of the Chrism Mass. The oils of the sick, the catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism will be blessed by the Bishop. As a volunteer in the Office of Worship, I'll be helping behind the scenes at the liturgy.

Lots of people ask me where the oils come's pretty simple: a couple of us go buy about 40 gallons of olive oil, we take some of the oil, and add Chrism Essence (a spicy perfume) to the oil of the Sacred Chrism, and we divide the oils of the sick and catechumens insto separate containers.

Some people involved in ministry to the sick and dying have asked us to add some sort of perfume to the oil of the Sick....but unfortunately, that's not really in our Catholic tradition.

Palm Sunday evening

"The Church does not pretend, as it were, that it does not know what will happen with the crucified Jesus. It does not sorrow and mourn over the Lord as if the Church itself were not the very creation which has been produced from his wounded side and from the depths of his tomb. All through the services the victory of Christ is contemplated and the resurrection is proclaimed."


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Palm Sunday 2010

A familiar tune, but we do it a bit more simply at St. Anselm...and I like our simplicity. Using a simple piano helps me to focus more on the words of this great hymn.

Enjoy some images of Palm Sunday!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Great evening with David Haas!

Well, if you missed tonight's concert with David Haas here at St. Anselm' missed one great, prayerful, uplifting, and joyful experience!

David's concert included old favorites, and some beautiful new compositions....soon to become as beloved as his "classics." As always, his stories, and his insights into the Liturgical Seasons were right on the mark.

Lot's of people thanked me for hosting this wonderful event at our parish church. As always, it was great to see David again.

If you were on the fence, and decided not to come tonight, I'm afraid that I have bad news for you....."Sorry, you loose!"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Liturgy and Justice

"The justice of God presented in the liturgy is anything but an abstraction, for the liturgy of the church sacramentalizes the presence of Christ, the Just One. For that reason, and for that reason alone, we can say that the liturgy not only proclaims the justice of the kingdom of God as something to be done but actually renders it present, not as an achievement of ours but as a gift of God. In its presence we are confronted with that which we are called to be, with that which God would make us be, if we permit it. Thus the liturgy not only provides us with a moral ideal but confronts us with an ontological reality in the light of which the ambivalence of our own lives is revealed for what it is.

Like the word of God in history, the liturgy is the revelation of God's justice in both event and word, cutting into human life both as good news and as denunciation. It proclaims and realizes the saving presence of the Spirit in the worlld, brings the presence of the kingdom, and enables us to realize where this is happening even outside the liturgy. Celebrating the liturgy shouls train us to recognize justice and injustice when we see it. It serves as a basis for social criticism by giving us a criterion by which to evaluate the events and structures of the world. But it is not just the world "out there" that stands under the judgment of God's justice, sacramentally realized in the liturgy. The first accused is the church itself, which, to the degree that it fails to recognize what it is about, eats and drinks condemnation to itself (1 Corinthians 11:29).

In saying "Amen" to the justice of God proclaimed in the liturgy, we are implicitly saying "Anathema" to all that fails to measure up to that justice."


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Preparing for Holy Week 2010

All of Lent is a preparation for Easter. One way of keeping a holy Lent, especially this late in the season, is to plan to participate in the liturgies of Holy Week.

I'm offering this post to give you an overview of the liturgies of Holy Week. If you have a question about Holy Week, please feel free to submit it as a comment.

For Christians, our every year has its origin and its climax at a time determined by the earth and the sun and the moon and the human-made cycle of a seven-day week. The marvelous accidents of earth's place and sun's place, of axis and orbit make cycles within human cycles so that days can be named and remembered and rhythms established. First, we wait for the angle of the earth's axis to make day and night equal (going toward longer days in the "top" half of earth, longer nights in the lower half).Then we wait for the moon to be full. Then we wait for the Lord's Day and call that particular Lord's Day "Easter" in English, but in most other Western languages some word that is closer to an old name, "Pesach" or "Pascha," made into English as "Passover."

In these generations, we are finding out how, on the night between Saturday and that Sunday, the church ends and begins not just its year but its very self.

We do not come to this night unaware. The church has spent the time since Thursday evening in intense preparation. Even more, we have had the 40 days of Lent to dear down and to build up toward this night.

And the night needs a week of weeks, 50 days, afterward to unfold. The 50 days are Eastertime; only after Pentecost does life return to normal.

The church came very early to keep something of the spring festival known to Jesus and the first followers. They were Jews and that first full moon of spring was Passover. For those who followed Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile, this was the time when the story of the deliverance they proclaimed in the death and resurrection of Christ was placed beside the story already told at this festival, the deliverance of the captive people from Pharaoh. Very early, that proclamation came to be made not in words alone but in the waters where those who were ready to stake everything on such a deliverance, on this Christ and this church, passed over in God's saving deed.

- Gabe Huck in The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum

In the week we call holy, the Church celebrates the most ancient and beautiful rites in its spiritual heritage. These are the most important days of the whole church year, even though they don’t get tagged as “holy days of obligation.”

Holy Week begins with Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday). With different degrees of solemnity and procession, parishes will commemorate the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem and at this Mass each year, the story of the suffering of death of Jesus is recounted in the gospel. This year we will hear the Passion according to St. Luke. This story is proclaimed on only two days of the year: Passion Sunday and Good Friday. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week are the final days of Lent and most dioceses will celebrate the Chrism Mass early in Holy Week. At this Mass at the cathedral, the bishop blesses and consecrates the holy oils that will be used beginning at Easter.

Lent ends at sundown on Thursday of this week and we enter the Paschal Triduum (pronounced 'trid-oo-um, it means 3 days). The Triduum is one feast, celebrated over three days.

The “three days” are numbered from sundown Holy Thursday to sundown Good Friday; from sundown Good Friday to sundown Holy Saturday; and from sundown Holy Saturday to sundown Easter Sunday. The liturgical moments of that one feast are:

- The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday night, including the presentation of the holy oils; the Washing of Feet and the procession with the Eucharist to the altar of reservation; prayer before the reserved sacrament continues until midnight.

- The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Friday afternoon, including the Word liturgy, the Solemn Intercessions, the Veneration of the Cross and communion from the reserved sacrament.

- The Easter Vigil (the first and greatest Mass of Easter) on Holy Saturday night, including the lighting of the fire and the lighting of and procession with the Paschal Candle, leading to the sung Easter Proclamation (the Exsultet); the Liturgy of the Word which, in full, includes 9 scripture readings; the liturgy of baptism and/or, if no one is to be baptized, the renewal of baptismal promises; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Paschal joy overflows in the celebration of the Eucharist on Easter Sunday morning.

The Triduum closes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday night.

Yes, these liturgies are lengthy but they are also rich and beautiful in symbol, ritual, prayer, and song. It is a shame that many Catholics go to their graves without ever having celebrated the most important feasts of their faith!

Know that you are invited to celebrate this great Paschal feast! Set aside these hours to give thanks and praise to the One who set aside his life for us that we might have forgiveness of our sins and the gift of God's peace.

We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for he is our salvation, our life and resurrection;
through him we are saved and made free!
- Galatians 6:14
Entrance Song for Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper