Sunday, February 28, 2010

Second Sunday of Lent

Each year on this Sunday, we get a version of this Gospel Story at Mass this weekend.

This story asks us to imagine the possibilities that Gospel Living can give us.

As I told the story at Mass this morning, ..."the bedouin used to lie flat on the floor of the desert." When asked why he does this, his answer came: "The desert speaks to me." Later when asked what the desert speaks, the bedouin replied: "The desert says, 'I want to be a garden.'"

Great images for Lent.

The Transfiguration reminds us that Jesus IS the Messiah, and that he WILL take us to himself, and make us like himself in glory FOREVER!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eternal Rest, my friend...

Gail Walton, director of music at the University of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart, died yesterday at the Indianapolis University Medical Center after a long illness. She was 55 years old.

Walton had served as director of music in the Basilica since 1988, directing the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir as well as the Basilica Schola, which she founded in 1989.

Walton held degrees from Westminster Choir College and the Eastman School of Music, where she earned the doctor of musical arts degree in organ performance. The Eastman School also awarded her the prestigious Performer’s Certificate in Organ. Before joining the Basilica staff, she taught organ at Goshen College.

In addition to her work and ministry at the Basilica, Walton performed throughout the Midwestern United States and played concerts in the German cities of Bonn, Heidenheim, Mainz and Rottenburg/Neckar in the summer of 1991. In the summer of 1995, she took the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir on a tour of Italy, giving performances in Florence, Milan, Assisi and Rome. She frequently played dual recitals with her husband, organist and Notre Dame music professor Craig Cramer.

“A gifted organist and choral conductor, Gail always strove for musical excellence, whether in her organ playing or in choral conducting. Gail was a totally committed Church musician,” said Rev. Peter Rocca, rector of the Basilica. “She loved the liturgy and her principle aim was always to lift minds and hearts to God through music and song, both in her students and in the worshiping assembly. Gail exposed her choir members to a wide range of musical repertoire, from chant and polyphony, to modern Church music of a variety of styles.

“A perfectionist, Gail would settle for nothing less than the best, not only in her own organ playing and in that of her students, but also in the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir which sings regularly at the Sunday 10 a.m. Mass, and in the Basilica Schola,” Father Rocca said. “During the eight years that the 10 a.m. Mass was televised to a national audience on the Hallmark Channel, Gail became a recognized friend to many of the 1,700,000 viewers who tuned into the Basilica every week.”

According to Father Rocca, Walton also worked with numerous couples in preparing their marriages, assisted grieving families with funerals of loved ones and provided music for numerous liturgies for the Congregation of Holy Cross, such as final professions of vows, ordinations, jubilees, and the burials of priests and brothers.
“This bright, articulate and gracious woman, whose enthusiasm, dedication, professionalism, selfless energy, and humility enriched beyond measure our liturgical life in the Basilica and beyond, will be sorely missed,” Father Rocca said. “May she rest in peace amid the choirs of angels.”

A funeral mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday (March 2) in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Good Liturgical Theology

"The doom-sayers who complain that Roman Catholic worhsip has lost its mystery have forgotten, perhaps, that symbols are not tidy museum exhibits but messy transactions that involve the fundamental stuff of human existence: 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 relationshiop 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 refoms 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 chushiony "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."


Saturday, February 20, 2010

More on St. Brother Andre of Montreal

Bl. Andre Bessette
Feastday: January 6

When Alfred Bessette came to the Holy Cross Brothers in 1870, he carried with him a note from his pastor saying, "I am sending you a saint." The Brothers found that difficult to believe. Chronic stomach pains had made it impossible for Alfred to hold a job very long and since he was a boy he had wandered from shop to shop, farm to farm, in his native Canada and in the United States, staying only until his employers found out how little work he could do. The Holy Cross Brothers were teachers and, at 25, Alfred still did not know how to read and write. It seemed as if Alfred approached the religious order out of desperation, not vocation.

Alfred was desperate, but he was also prayerful and deeply devoted to God and Saint Joseph. He may have had no place left to go, but he believed that was because this was the place he felt he should have been all along.

The Holy Cross Brothers took him into the novitiate but soon found out what others had learned -- as hard as Alfred, now Brother Andre, wanted to work, he simply wasn't strong enough. They asked him to leave the order, but Andre, out of desperation again, appealed to a visiting bishop who promised him that Andre would stay and take his vows.

After his vows, Brother Andre was sent to Notre Dame College in Montreal (a school for boys age seven to twelve) as a porter. There his responsibilities were to answer the door, to welcome guests, find the people they were visiting, wake up those in the school, and deliver mail. Brother Andre joked later, "At the end of my novitiate, my superiors showed me the door, and I stayed there for forty years."

In 1904, he surprised the Archbishop of Montreal if he could, by requesting permission to, build a chapel to Saint Joseph on the mountain near the college. The Archbishop refused to go into debt and would only give permission for Brother Andre to build what he had money for. What money did Brother Andre have? Nickels he had collected as donations for Saint Joseph from haircuts he gave the boys. Nickels and dimes from a small dish he had kept in a picnic shelter on top of the mountain near a statue of St. Joseph with a sign "Donations for St. Joseph." He had collected this change for years but he still had only a few hundred dollars. Who would start a chapel now with so little funding?

Andre took his few hundred dollars and built what he could ... a small wood shelter only fifteen feet by eighteen feet. He kept collecting money and went back three years later to request more building. The wary Archbishop asked him, "Are you having visions of Saint Joseph telling you to build a church for him?"

Brother Andre reassured him. "I have only my great devotion to St. Joseph to guide me."

The Archbishop granted him permission to keep building as long as he didn't go into debt. He started by adding a roof so that all the people who were coming to hear Mass at the shrine wouldn't have to stand out in the rain and the wind. Then came walls, heating, a paved road up the mountain, a shelter for pilgrims, and finally a place where Brother Andre and others could live and take care of the shrine -- and the pilgrims who came - full-time. Through kindness, caring, and devotion, Brother Andre helped many souls experience healing and renewal on the mountaintop. There were even cases of physical healing. But for everything, Brother Andre thanked St. Joseph.

Despite financial troubles, Brother Andre never lost faith or devotion. He had started to build a basilica on the mountain but the Depression had interfered. At ninety-years old he told his co-workers to place a statue of St. Joseph in the unfinished, unroofed basilica. He was so ill he had to be carried up the mountain to see the statue in its new home. Brother Andre died soon after on January 6, and didn't live to see the work on the basilica completed. But in Brother Andre's mind it never would be completed because he always saw more ways to express his devotion and to heal others. As long as he lived, the man who had trouble keeping work for himself, would never have stopped working for God.

In His Footsteps:
Brother Andre didn't mind starting small.

Think of some service you have longed to perform for God and God's people, but that you thought was too overwhelming for you. What small bit can you do in this service? If you can't afford to give a lot of money to a cause, just give a little. If you can't afford hours a week in volunteering, try an hour a month on a small task. It is amazing how those small steps can lead you up the mountain as they did for Brother Andre.

Blessed Brother Andre, your devotion to Saint Joseph is an inspiration to us. You gave your life selflessly to bring the message of his life to others. Pray that we may learn from Saint Joseph, and from you, what it is like to care for Jesus and do his work in the world. Amen

Copyright 1996-2000 by Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A new saint for North America!

Earlier today, it was announced that Holy Cross Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C. would be canonized a saint next October 17th!

Here's the text of the announcement from the CSC site:

Friday, February 19, 2010
The Congregation's First Saint!
Earlier today, in Rome, the Holy Father announced that Blessed Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C. will become the first saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross when he is canonized on October 17, 2010.

Announcing this great news, our Superior General, Most Rev. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C. said:

"Our entire Congregation of Holy Cross rejoices with the universal Church: Brother Andre, the miracle worker of Montreal, is the first formally recognized saint among us! Brother Andre’s early life was marked by physical frailty, poverty, illiteracy and family tragedy. Amidst them all, prayer was his peace and joy. His parish priest encouraged the orphaned Andre to seek the consecrated life as his vocation for he believed it was there that Andre would find his true home and deepest fulfillment. In recommending Andre, his pastor told the Congregation of Holy Cross that he was sending them a saint. And so it was. God chooses the weak and makes them strong. Andre was strong in faith, mighty in zeal. His humility allowed the healing strength of God to fill his being and thus bring healing to others. Through the intercession of St. Joseph, Brother Andre taught us all to pray and so to find the strength needed to live our lives in the truth of God’s love."

As you might expect this news is garnering significant attention in the Catholic world, and in the press in Canada. For more information, you can see articles at CNS, and at the University of Notre Dame's website, among many others.

Please join us in giving prayerful thanks to God for the sterling example and faithful intercessor He has given us in our Brother Andre Bessette. Let us also pray through Brother Andre's intercession, and through that of St. Joseph, that the Congregation of Holy Cross will be blessed with many more vocations to the religious life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Liturgical Theology

The liturgical asseembly is thus a theological corporation and each of its members a theologian whose discourse in faith is carried on not by concepts and propositions nearly so much as in the vastly complex vocabulary of experiences had, prayers said, sights seen, smeells smelled, words said and heard and responded to, emotions controlled and released, sins committed and repented, children born and loved ones buried, and in many other ways no one can count or always account for. Their critical and reflective discourse is not merely about faith. It is the very way faith works itself out in the intricacies of human life both individually and in common. Its vocabulary is not precise, concise, or scientific. It is symbolic aesthetic, ascetical, adn sapiential. It is not just something she and her pastor think or say, but something they taste, the air they breathe. It is a sinuous discourse by which they and those innumerable millions like them, dead and born and yet unborn, work out the primary body of perceived data concerning what it really means when god pour ... into the world as a member of our race. Nowhere else can that primary body of perceived data be read so well as in the living tradition of Christian worship.


Rev. Bob Hovda on Liturgical theology:

"There is a modest and essential place in every liturgical celebraiton for human rhetoric, but it is a modest place, subordinate to the proclamation of the word of God in scriptuure, subordinate to the symbolic action of the whole assembly. Implied in all of this is the conviction that what is most important about public worship is that we gather the sisters and brothers together for a festival, a special occasion, a cebration of the reign of Gdod (not yet terribly evident in daily life nor in the institutions of society), that helps all of us feel so good about ourseles, so imprtant, so dignified, so precious, so free, so much at one.. not as escape, not merely in distinction to daily routine, but in judgment, in the Lord's judgement on those ways and institutions. A celebration of the reign of God that goes way beyond the tight, drab, rationalistic, verbose, pedagogical exercises we sometimes try to make of it___all those dreadful "themese" that we love___into a large, broad, fully human landscape, where Jesus is truly the firstborn of a new humanity, and where our other lliturical tools (festival excess and colors and tastes and textures and odors and forms and touches) penetrate the Babel of our words and points and arguments to heal the human spirit and to raise it up in the covenant communty's vision of new possibilities. Good liturgical celebration, like a parable, takes us by the hair of our heads, lifts us momentarily out of the cesspool of injustice we call home, puts us in the promised and challenging reign of God, where we are treated like we have never been treated anywhere else."


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

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 our finitude---the festivity of worship offers us the possibility of moving beyond it toward a vision of humanity healed and reconciled.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What will you wear tomorrow?

For us Catholics, this is what we'll look like tomorrow.

The challenge of the next 40 days is to change the ways our hearts look.

Ours is a call to convert, and to become more like the Lord Jesus.

Ours is a call to become more human, and in so doing, to become more divine!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"We Are The World" for Haiti

Check out this video, and give to help Haiti.

You wonder why I hate the snow?

Piling up at parishes: cold, wet snow that's hurting the collection

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Oh, the weather outside has been frightful, meaning that fewer Catholics have braved a trek to their churches during a series of weekend winter snowstorms.

This means in turn that the Sunday offertory revenue is down, creating a hole in parish budgets while at the same time snowstorm-related expenses pile up.

A series of storms have socked in large chunks of the mid-Atlantic region this winter. The first took place Dec. 19, the Saturday before Christmas. A second storm, not as large as the December blast, happened Jan. 30, another Saturday. But an epic snowfall, registering record totals in Baltimore and Philadelphia and dumping massive amounts of snow throughout the mid-Atlantic, started Feb. 5, a Friday, and didn't end until nearly 24 hours had passed. The region was hit again Feb. 10.

Bishops in many of the affected dioceses dispensed Catholics of the obligation to attend Mass those weekends, as safety considerations took precedence.

But as Catholics were missing from the pews, so too were their offertory envelopes from the collection baskets.

"Gone" was the word Father Mark Hughes used to describe the missing offertories.

Of the weekends affected by the storms, the offertories "all together would not add up to one Sunday," said Father Hughes, pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Kensington, Md., a Washington suburb.

A few parishioners double up on their offertories if they miss a week, he added. And some parishioners keep current by contributing on a monthly basis "if they've already paid," Father Hughes said. "Then you have the people who throw in the cash. That's gone."

At St. Philip Parish in the Washington suburb of Falls Church, Va., in the Diocese of Arlington, Father Kevin Walsh, the pastor, said the parish's situation is buffered somewhat by electronic giving.

About 20 parishes in the diocese, including St. Philip, use an electronic collection system. The contributions account for about 20 percent of the parish's income, Father Walsh told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 10 telephone interview.

"We were blessed," he said. "You can count on a consistent budget no matter what the weather is."

Even so, after the December snowstorm, "the cost of snow removal was more than the offertory," Father Walsh added.

Snow removal costs loom larger than the drifts piling up in church parking lots.

"We usually experience mild winters here, so didn't' have a whole lot budgeted for plowing," said Redemptorist Father John McKenna, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in largely rural Seaford, Del., in the Diocese of Wilmington. "It's a disaster."

Father McKenna said that with two weekends in a row with too much white stuff on the ground, momentum gets lost for such things as religious education and preparation for Lent, beginning Feb. 17, Ash Wednesday. "It's ground to a halt," he said.

While the church's parking lot was clear, when the priest spoke to CNS city and county plows couldn't get to the secondary roads where most members of the 900-household parish live.

Father McKenna said it was his "fondest hope" that parishioners would contribute to parish upkeep for the Sundays they couldn't get to Mass, "because the last two weekends have been a washout, attendance-wise," including a 95 percent drop in attendance after the Feb.5-6 snowstorm.

In Kensington, Father Hughes said the revenue foregone from offertories left a hole of about 4 percent so far in Holy Redeemer's fiscal year, "and that's on top of (being) down 10-11 percent due to the economy."

The same company that cuts the grass on the church grounds in other seasons also removes snow from the parking lots. "They do the snow whether we want it done or not," Father Hughes said. "This snowstorm is a blessing in disguise for them."

One bright spot, he added, is that the lawn and snow firm is owned by a parishioner who gives Holy Redeemer a 20 percent discount.

He added he was not likely to ask parishioners to help make up the difference. For one thing, an annual archdiocese-wide appeal was coming up, not long after a series of special collections in the parish over the past four or five months. For another, the parish is not in a financial bind, although the revenue falloff means it will be able to bank three-fourths or maybe as little as one-half of what it usually banks for capital projects.

And, as pastors talked with CNS, the Feb. 10 blizzard was strafing the mid-Atlantic and New England states, and another storm, though expected to be much smaller, was predicted to hit Feb. 16.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Super Bowl Ad Favorite

This definitely gets my vote for the funniest Ad during Super Bowl. Enjoy!

Just a little light humor for the weekend before the start of Lent!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The New Roman Missal....It's coming!

Many of you know that a new translation of the Mass is coming from Rome, and will hit our shores probably in 2012. There is much ink being spilled about this new translation...and its' many small faults. There is a whole page on the American Bishops' Site on the new Roman Missal, and the new translation:

Also, Dr. Jerry Galipeau, over at World Library Publications, has a blog, and it's called "Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray." Jerry's blog is a very good resource for those of us preparing for the implemenation of the new Roman Missal.

As with all changes, this is going to take some time and real patience. There is a whole "movement" in the American Catholic Church to have our bishop's go very slowly with this period of implementation. It was started by Fr. Mike Ryan, the rector of St. James Cathedral in Oregon.

Check out all of these sites, and let me know if you come across any other helpful sites.

Fr. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.

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Emjoy this neat video abour Fr. Ted Hesburgh, CSC, the President emerius of the University of Notre Dame.

Fr. Ted is now 93, and I pray for him almost every day. I'm looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks, in April. Let's all pray for him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A new image of St. Anselm

After further searching the 'net for new images of St. Anselm, I discovered this lovely icon. I'm trying to research where the icon was written, and by whom. I've been looking for a nice original image of St. Anselm for our parish. If anybody can assist with this project, I'll be forever grateful.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting ready for the Bishop's Annual Appeal 2010

Next weekend, at all the Masses, we'll kick off the Bishop's Annual Appeal at all of the Masses.

We will view the video during Mass, and I'll be giving a short talk on the practice of Stewardship, and how the BAA is an integral part of good stewardship for our parish and for our diocese.

This year, I would like to ask each family to consider a gift of at least $50 to the BAA. We have close to 2,000 families in our parish, and I truly believe that if we all try to give something, that we will receive back a major portion of what we give.

More to come this week...