Dec 232017

It is easy to make jokes about C&E Catholics – those that make it to Christmas and Easter Mass.

This is a better take from then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

“It just may be that we, thus drawing a new breath, are prvileged to sense something of the breath of God’s love, of the sacred peace whose gift to us is the blessing of Christmas. It is for this reason that we should not single out those who feel they cannot have faith anymore and try to rob them of their emotions, which may remain as the last echo of their faith and which may allow them to be part of that breath of fresh air of the holy night, which is permeated by the breath of God’s peace. Rather, we ought to be grateful for their preserving this last remnant of God’s gift on Christmas and ought to make an effort to celebrate a blessed Christmas with them all.

From: Dogma und Verkündigung, pp. 383f.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 398). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.”

Jun 222017

Going to Eucharistic Adoration is something I always mean to get around to, but usually don’t. Part of it is logistics. I remember once calling the closest parish to get the PIN code to access to chapel. I think I was asked more questions than when I filled out my security clearance. Not belonging to that parish I think prevented that from coming to fruition.

Then I called another parish with perpetual adoration and I just needed someone to vouch for me, which my parish priest did. So I have been going there off and on, although the parish is not really close or usually on my route. One funny aspect is their keypad to gain entrance. The buttons for the four digits used are quite obvious because of the ware on the buttons. So even when I forgot the code, the digits needed were rather obvious.

Last week on the Feast of Corpus Christi my parish was having sign ups for Adoration before and after Mass. So I signed up for a weekly time slot at night. So this will get me to do regularly what I wanted to get into the habit of doing. So I went at the appointed time to the chapel I had never been to which is across from the main church and next to the historic church where I go to Latin Mass. The chapel is built into a center used by the parish and is a good sized circular room on the “corner” of the building.

I was happy to see about a dozen people there at night and that there was a beautiful monstrance. No security code to enter to gain access, but the chapel is not open 24/7. What surprised me the most is how fast an hour went by. There is something just so wonderful about praying and reading in His Eucharistic presence.

I’ve been going to this parish since my wife died and while I have been going to the historic church and the cemetary behind it, I had no idea the adjacent building contained a chapel. I though it was all parish offices. Doh!

Another thing I accidentally discovered was that the parish where I go to morning Mass at had Adoration before Morning Mass. Getting to Mass early in the morning was already difficult enough and I tended to arrive a minute or two before Mass started. Getting there earlier one day and seeing the Monstrance it finally dawned on me that they did this everyday. So now I wake up a little earlier to at least get in on tail end of Adoration and to sing the Tantum Ergo. That would be a whole ten minutes earlier I now wake up – proving I must really love Jesus if I am going to wake up a whole ten minutes earlier.

May 302017

I have been thinking about some of the changes in church architecture coming up on the twenty years I have lived in the Diocese of St. Augustine. The downtown parish where I came into the church looked like everything I had come to exspect what a Catholic parish would look like from Hollywood. I had found it accidentally when driving around I spotted the Catholic bookstore sign and so bought my first Catholic books there. When my wife and I walked into the church afterwards I was totally struck by the beauty of the high altar, stained glass, and statues.

I soon learned that this was not the normal state of things regarding church building architecture in my diocese. Seemingly the majority of parishes I encountered were of the ubiquitos clamshell design. Nothing uplifting about them as they could be converted to civic auditoriums overnight. When I saw one parish close to me was rebuilding, I was happy until I found out the clamshell design was being replaced by another larger clamshell. The other parish close to me when they started building their new church building, was also of the same design. Having been to many parishes in my city this is the dominant design. As much as I dislike this design, another parish went for the design with a altar in a center with a runway up to it. I guess the common factor was to make sure people were staring at each other.

Since I now go to daily Mass at a typical clamshell church I started taking a new route into where I go to work. Because of this I found a new parish I had not been aware of. A somewhat large cruciform shaped building traditional in design. I had been wanting to check it out, but there daily Mass is after the time I need to be at work. So last week when I had a day off ofter a week of travel I finally got around to visiting it. The daily Mass was held in a chapel behind the main church. I have seen this type of design in many parishes. I imagine this arrangement is for cost savings regarding heating and A/C.

The interior of the church was as I hoped it would be based on the exterior. Fairly beautiful and you could actually recognized things in teh stained glass and not the abstract blobs I have found prevalent. The chapel was packed with people and they had a beautiful bust of Pope Saint John Paul II. The Mass was said reverently. After Mass the priest asked me my name and welcomed me. Now as an introvert, this can be unnerving to me. Still I actually did feel welcomed as something more than some fake sense of community. At the daily Mass I have been attending I haven’t had one word from any of the priests there. This was especially disconcerting since the pastor had given my wife Last Rites. This same priest had told me my wife looked fine, a week before she died. So I guess even introverts such as myself desire some level of acknowlegment.

So this parish was a nice surprise. Still in the last ten years the new parishes I have visited have all been of cruciform design. One of the new parishes is not only beautiful, but had a liturgy to match. So this is all a good development and I have seen other parishes stuck with the clamshell making changes they could like moving the Tabernacle from a side chapel to the center. So the microcosm that I see in my diocese seems to be for the good. I do wonder if this is a trend nationwide or not?

In other news I am now singing with the choir at the Latin Mass I attend. They must be desparate since they asked me to join even after they heard me sing. Still I do love to sing and I did have four years of choir in High School which was initially quite accidental. I sing so much better when I have confident voices around me to keep me in tune. Plus the acoustics of this wooden church are spetacular.

Apr 282017

This is happens when you don’t know what aspergillum means.

The ceremony took place before a bunch of asparagus was taken to the European Parliament as a thank you for granting it protected status

Worcester Cathedral has hit back at criticism over a service that included a man dressed up as a spear of asparagus.

A packed congregation on St George’s Day saw asparagus from Evesham receive a blessing to mark the start of the British Asparagus Festival.

Gus the Asparagus Man was part of the procession- dressed in a giant green asparagus costume.

Pressure group Christian Concern said the scenes in the Cathedral “made a mockery of Christian worship”.

A post written on the Archbishop Cranmer blog site continued the criticism: “Why only adoration of asparagus? Where’s the sprout liturgy, or equality for mushrooms?”.

However, Canon Precentor of Worcester Cathedral, Reverend Michael Brierley, said in response: “I think the inclusion of the figure added a bit of colour”. Source

Well the colour green to be specific.

The jokes write themselves.

  • Lettuce pray.
  • Did the Aparagus Man receive a celery, or was it part time?
  • Did they sing A-Maize-ing Grace?
  • What are you giving up for Lentil?
  • Peas be with you.

Gus the Asparagus Man was part of the St George’s Day service at Worcester Cathedral.

Apr 252017

I don’t usually post press releases here, but I love de Montfort Music and support all their efforts.

NEW YORK, April 7, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ – An international community of young priests known as The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, or “The Fraternity” as they have lovingly been referred to, includes some of today’s most skilled and committed singers of Gregorian chant.  The community has been preparing to present ancient melodies anew, on the album _Requiem_, to be released on May 12, 2017 through their new international collaboration with De Montfort Music/Sony Classical.

Many have heard The Fraternity sing Requiem chants at funeral Masses over the years, often suggesting that the group, who is so close to this treasured music, record this moving collection. The decision to make their major-label debut with the music of _Requiem_ was unanimous among the priestly singers, as they know well that nothing is so universal as the experience of death, the care of souls and as well the many emotions evoked by the living. The text of the Mass – beginning with “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine” (Grant them eternal rest, O Lord) – is spiritually uplifting, meant to convey souls to a particular vision of the beyond; the effect of the music is far-reaching and timeless, bound to touch the deepest emotions of any human heart.

Apr 172017

In what started as a friendly competition between parishes in Archdiocese of San Antonio has quickly spiraled out of control. Each year the size of the Pascal Candle was getting taller and wider requiring more and more effort in processing the candle to the sanctuary during the Easter Vigil. John Wick a parishioner of St Antonio in Elmendorf joked “Everything is bigger in Texas!”

Still the parish councils of St. Antonio was shocked to see the bill from a mastercrafter in the art of candlemaking for a MOAC (Mother of all Candles). This Pascal Candle delivers the equivalent of ten thousand lumens from 9,800 kg of pure beeswax.

Complaints to the bishop soon followed as a special crew was flown in to help to deploy the MOAC through the roof of St. Antonio’s in preparation for the Easter Vigil. The start of the Easter Vigil was spectacular and will be long remembered, at least positively by those who did not experience flash blindness at the lighting of the candle.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

“That was one heckuva pillar of fire we got this year” said sometime parishioner Bryce S. Thomas. If they keep up these pyrotechnics I might show up next Sunday.

Apr 162017

While Catholics don’t believe in a rapture as expounded by a segment of Protestants, there is indeed a seeming Catholic rapture.

You can observe this on Sundays when the Mass is longer than an hour. Catholics can be very literal about the scriptures. When Jesus asks us if “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Catholics will grudgingly allow one hour, but don’t expect any more.

I observed the Catholic rapture today. Coming back to the pew I was sitting in after Communion I found that the pews around me were mostly empty and stayed empty. Previously the church was packed. Apparently some Catholics after receiving Communion are so enraptured that apparently they are taken up there and then. Amazing to be around such holy people. In fact even there cars are holy as I find that the parking lot is also emptied out after I wait for the priest to process.

Now I know Scott Hahn calls it the Judas Shuffle when Catholics leave early. I prefer the more charitable explanation of the Catholic Rapture.

Apr 112017

Since I started attending the Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays I thought it was time to get a good 1962 Missal to use. I had considered buying the one from [Baronius Press][press]. For one I have other of their books and they are super high quality so I knew I could not go wrong. Still I took the question to social media and got several suggestions including Baronius Press’s offering.

One suggestion surprised me, using an app called iMass. This was suggested by several TLM goers of whom I have respect for. Now I am pretty geekly and use technology a lot, but did I want to use it during Mass? Plus there was the dichotomy of using a phone app during the TLM. Are you allowed to only use technology developed up to 1962?

Plus there is a vanity in me that doesn’t want to stick out. I figured if I started using a phone app during Mass the other Mass goers would be all like this:

Still I have noticed that more and more people are using phone apps during Mass for the readings. Something not confined to just younger people, but something I have observed across age groups. Still my first reaction when I see somebody holding a phone during Mass is:

Couldn’t they wait to text later on! Oh wait they have a app with the Mass readings.

So I decided to give the iMass app a tryout.

Now this app contains a full Missal along with the Breviary in multiple languages including Latin. You can even view live streams of Latin Masses and Liturgies.

So previously while attending the Latin Mass I used the booklet they hand out that helps you to follow along to an extent. The iMass app lets you fully follow along.

The app is used in landscape mode so that you can see both the Latin and the English text. I have an iPhone 7 Plus so the screen size is pretty much perfect for this. Mostly you just scroll along as you coordinate what the priest is saying to where you are in the Missal. Mostly I was able to do this despite the priest being soft spoken. I also found that I was able to read the English text as I was doing this and stay in place. The rubrics also help you to identify where you are in the Mass based on what the priest is doing. Besides just using the scrolling there is also quick navigation to the top or next section.

So I was pretty impressed with how useful this was since if I was using a Missal I would have been skipping around more. So mostly I was able to stay focused on the Mass and to see the translation.

This app is on both iOS and Android.

So when it comes to using technology for prayer I have a simple test. Does it actually help me pray or is it a distraction? Or a distraction to others. The iMass app passes this test for me.

I once suggested the iHALO a visual indicator showing you are using a Mass appropriate app.

Speaking of Mass related technologies. Recently Apple came out with Theater Mode on the Apple Watch. This is different than just the mute button. In addition to muting, the watch would not light up when you moved your wrist.

So I now call this Mass mode and I now always put my watch in this mode before entering the church along with muting my phone. I wish the watch could mute both. Now I am pretty good about remembering to mute my phone before entering the church, I just usually forget to un-mute it later on. The “Mass Mode” provides me a reminder that I am muted and to remember to turn off “Mass Mode” and to un-mute my phone.

Mar 232017

With the recent death of my wife I am of course dealing with a lot of changes. All the patterns of everyday life in 36 years of marriage have been totally disrupted. While I am thankful for my faith in dealing with my grief, it still must be dealt with. The waves of sadness that hit me suddenly are mostly surprise attacks. Still I am dealing with it the best I can in prayer.

One of my early thoughts going through this process was that I wanted to live a life worthy of her. She who had toiled for years praying for her hardened atheist husband. After being married so long I think it can be rather easy to be set adrift. Still my faith anchors me and helps me from making of fool of myself – or at least more of a fool of myself.

Of those changes one was to commit to Daily Mass. My work hours are flexible so I searched through looking for an early Mass that I could go to and still get to work somewhat early. Not many to choose from with that criteria and ended up with one at 7:00 A.M. that was only a little off my route. This was much earlier than I wanted. Still I have now managed a routine of getting ready in the morning in 15 minutes to be on my way. So despite waking up much earlier than I wanted, this is so worth it to start my day this way.

The second change I wanted to effect was to get involved in evangelization. That the faith my wife had given me should be multiplied. In the past I have made plenty of excuses regarding this. I felt like Moses telling God about how he wasn’t good talking to people. I am a bit of a gregarious introvert. I do love people, but tend to myself. I do better in larger groups than smaller ones like many class clowns.

Over the last couple of years I have been hearing more and more regarding St. Paul Street Evangelization. The more I heard the more I thought that just possible I could fit in doing this. There non-confrontational approach of handing out Rosaries, Miraculous Medals, etc – while listening to people and answering questions appealed to me. A group setting where you have several people involved and people praying for you when you talk to someone.

So I decided to reach out to them to find if there was a chapter near me. Turns out there was one – one that was just forming. So last Saturday I met with this group in their first meeting. An interesting range of people led by a Deacon obviously on fire for the faith. The parish he belongs to is providing all the materials needed. So next Saturday will be our first experience of setting out a table and following the charism of St. Paul Street Evangelization. The parish sponsoring this is right off the beach and so there will be a lot of foot traffic where we will be setting up.

Another change is becoming more involved in parish life. My wife liked going to different parishes each week. She disliked going to the same place over an over. My tendencies are different as have no problem with routine. Although going to all these different parishes did give me a snapshot regarding liturgical worship in my diocese and that generally things are improving in this regard. My first thought was to be involved in the parish where I first came into the Church. A downtown Jacksonville church that is now a Basilica. A really beautiful church with a solid pastor.

Other considerations came into play though. After my wife died I scrambled to find a place for her to be interned. I found that a parish within easy driving distance to me was the only one with their own graveyard. So she is interned there in a Mausoleum. Since we were not members of this parish, the costs were increased. Later as I realized I wanted to be buried there next to her I decided that this parish would be my home. The main church is very large seating around 4,500. They also still maintain their historic church completed in 1883. This wooden building is situated in front of the cemetery where my wife is. They have the Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays so this is where I go. After Mass it is a short walk to visit my wife and pray the Divine Mercy. I love going to the TLM on Sundays, but also love the Daily Masses I go to in the Ordinary Form.

So those are just some of the changes I am going through. So any prayers you can send my way I would appreciate.

Feb 262017

If during the TLM you setup a projector to show a video of the Bishop’s Annual Stewardship Appeal, you should at least use a film projector for the correct ambiance. Perhaps some grainy black and white footage.

Oh and why do parishes think a video is a substitute for the homily? Seems like every year they treat it as such. I realize they do this because of time, but that doesn’t make it right. A shortened homily would at least make sense, no homily at all makes no sense.

Plus the Liturgy of Filling out the Form with more detail than the GIRM has got to go. Especially handing out forms and no writing implements. It always makes me feel like being in a captured audience and being guilt into contributing. I have no problem contributing, just with the clumsy attempts to make me do so.