Oct 132014

While the modern idea of the rapture as popularized in the 1830s by John Darby is a modern invention believed by some Protestants, there seems to be even a more modern version of the rapture regarding Catholics.

Now this is all guess-work and not yet proven. Purely speculation, although it seems to fit some of the facts.

I think I had always been aware of this phenomenon, but I started to connect the dots. Usually sitting in close to the back I am one of the last to receive Communion. Going back to my pew I find that almost half the people sitting around me are now gone. Now since often during Mass I close my eyes to concentrate to attempt to pray I can’t say for sure what happened to these people. Still I draw a couple of speculations together. As Cardinal Arinze said “The Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation, as it also known, presents a striking imagery of the heavenly liturgy and helps us appreciate how the Eucharistic celebration, as it were, looks heavenward.” Maybe these missing Communion recipients were so caught up in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving Holy Communion that they were raptured up into heaven?

Looking at Matthew 24:40 “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.” That sounds a lot like the proportion of people that make it all the way past the first verse of the closing hymn.

Still I could find nothing in the Catechism or the writings of the Church Fathers to validate this. Another theory which I much less prefer is that people are just leaving after receiving Communion. I would rather believe in the Catholic rapture than that. I really can’t discount this though in this materialistic age. People can be so caught up in the idea of shopping that they have to leave early to go to the mall and do even more shopping. In Catholic shopping Eschatology this can be described as:

  • Pre-mall: Christ returns before a thousand day shopping spree.
  • A-mall: The shopping occurs in heaven and those who have died in the faith share in this shopping during the current church age.
  • Post-mall Christ returns after a thousand day shopping spree.

Photo credit: itmpa via photopin cc

Sep 152014

As a liturgical-minded Catholic blogger I can almost swoon when I see a pastoral letter with a Latin title regarding worship and the Eucharist.

In this case it is a letter from Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois called Ars celebrandi at adorandi (The Art of Celebrating and Worshiping). Add to the fact that it addresses the following topics I am quite swoon-ready:

  • The Reservation and Adoration of the Holy Eucharist
  • To bend the knee
  • Processions with the Blessed Sacrament

I also enjoyed the introduction of Christ in history and beauty in the liturgy, but the following is excellent.

(19). The present legislation of the Church concerning the placement of the tabernacle states, “In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.” Regrettably, this is not always followed.

(20). In some churches and chapels, the tabernacle is set on a “side” altar in such a way that the tabernacle, though noble, is neither prominent nor readily visible. The same is often the case with the location of some Eucharistic chapels, whether they be in the nave itself, behind the sanctuary, or in another room. They are not always prominent or readily visible.

(21). The great majority of our parish churches and chapels were designed to house the tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary; removing the tabernacle from these sanctuaries has left a visible emptiness within the sacred space, almost as though the building itself longed for the return of the tabernacle. With the removal of the tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary, the architectural integrity of many churches and chapels has been severely compromised.

(23). With this in mind, in order that more of the faithful will be able to spend time in adoration and prayer in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.

His comment about “a visible emptiness within the sacred space” is so true, even in cases where the church building was not designed with he Tabernacle in the center.

I remember being at one parish Mass where they were just about to open the new church. The pastor addressed the placement of the Tabernacle since some parishioners were concerned about this. Unfortunately his explanation of why they had placed in a side area instead was to follow Vatican documents. I don’t doubt he believed this to be true since he probably heard this from some liturgist explainer and never actually checked the documents themselves. This lie was very widespread and accepted as true. Even worse was when we walked into the new Church after Mass to help move things I saw a rather hideous Tabernacle that looked like a totally unadorned cube made of bakelite. Thankfully that Tabernacle was replaced with a more suitable one shortly after we got a new bishop.

Still when I do go into that parish I always feel the “visible emptiness” behind the altar which is a plain curved wall with a couple of cloth banners.

I am also glad the bishop also answered this common objection.

(24). Some may object to this directive and point, by means of example, to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome to suggest that tabernacles should not be located in the sanctuary. Saint Peter’s, of course, is different from the average church or chapel in many respects. Chief among these differences is the number of tourists who visit the Basilica each day, with no intention of praying to the Lord therein. These tourists enter this remarkable edifice built to the honor of the Prince of the Apostles simply to look around, to see the architectural beauty and perhaps to see some aspect of Catholic worship, but not to pray. The Eucharist is reserved in a special chapel into which tour groups are not permitted so that the reverence and adoration due the Eucharist can be properly accorded him by pilgrims seeking to speak with him.

(25). At the same time, it should be noted that the Eucharistic chapel in Saint Peter’s is itself larger than many of our parish churches. There is more than enough room to accommodate all those who wish to pray in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord in the chapel; it is not always so with every Eucharistic chapel in this Diocese.

The Cathedral in my Diocese of St. Augustine does have a fairly large side chapel with a beautifully adorned Tabernacle. Since the Cathedral is in the old part of the City of St. Augustine where there is a large amount of tourist foot traffic coming in to see the Cathedral it does make sense to have the Tabernacle here in this case.

Considering my recent parody regarding people not genuflecting I was also happy to see his writing on bending the knee. Eucharistic pieties besides being appropriate are also evangelical. As I recall Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton conversion to the Catholic faith came in part because of her visit with the Filicchi family in Italy where there home contained a private chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.

Now if my opinion mattered at all I would add one more thing (to quote the Book of Steve Jobs) to the Bishop’s excellent list in that I would also make patens mandatory. The use of patens takes seriously the Eucharist and that you would want to prevent even a crumb from falling to the floor. I have been delighted to find in my diocese that there are now three parishes (that I know of) that are using patens.

There is another aspect regarding handling the Eucharist that I have found devotional for myself. Watching the priest during the Purifcation of the Sacred Vessels. With one priest in particular when I watch him I am reminded of the scene in Michelangelo Pietà. He purifies the vessels with such tenderness and obvious attention that he so reminds me of Mary caring for Jesus. This is not always true as with some priests it seems more like a chore than devotion or worse the sacred vessels are just set aside for later.

One more aspect of Bishop Paprocki’s presentation on the diocesan site is that a PDF version was also made available. This version was nicely formatted with images and hopefully this will lead to a wider dissemination within his diocese.

Hat tip to CatholicVote

Aug 262014

doctor performing surgery on kneeThe World Health Organization (WHO) has been tracking a disturbing trend in chronic inflammation of knee joints. Currently it is not known if this is a vector-borne disease or is spread in another manner. While currently not an epidemic world-wide, it has surprisingly confined itself to only Catholics and its effects can be easily observed. In a long-awaited report that will be debated by member states at a meeting in October in Moscow, the United Nations health agency also voiced concern about chronic inflammation of knee joints in various Catholic communities.

Dr. Peter Capaldi (WHO), has been voicing concerns about Genuflectitis since he first started noticing the effects in Catholic parishes as he traveled worldwide. “I started noticing the number of people not genuflecting when entering the vestibule. First I thought this was simple irreverence, then I noticed that many people instead of kneeling during the Consecration were leaning forward instead of kneeling. I felt the most charitable explanation was a serious knee inflammation preventing proper kneeling. This might also be connected to spinal cord injuries since I also noticed people unable to make a profound bow, but just a head-nod instead.” It has also been noted by many other orthopedic surgeons that this inflammation comes and goes. For example during Mass knee-bending is painful, but this usually does not effect motion when sprinting to their car as soon as the concluding rite is finished.

While the method of transmission of Genuflectitis is not currently known, it does seem to strike 100 percent of some populations. Dr. Capaldi informed us that choir members are especially prone since he almost never sees them kneeling during the Consecration. Even in people who are able to kneel this inflammation is still having an effect. With Genuflectitis kneeling can be so painful that the congregation eagerly waits for the priest to sit down after cleansing the sacred vessels. Immediately upon the priest sitting you can hear the effect as everybody also promptly sits down.

There has been controversy within the Catholic community as to how this is actually spread. Traditional Catholics point to the fact that Genuflectitis is virtually unknown at a Traditional Latin Mass. Even going so far as to suggest it is spread via the vigorous and extended hand-shaking that goes on during the Sign of Peace. Eastern Rite Catholics also seem to have immunity. Other Catholics counter that there are areas where the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated with reverence that are also immune to this crippling disease.

While some doctors suggest exercise such as Deep Knee Bends, Standing Knee Lifts,or Hamstring Contractions, other have found the best rehabilitation is a deeper understanding of Eucharistic theology along with a prescription of John Chapter 6 and Philippians 2:10.

* Parody caveat: For those who actually suffer from knee ailments, this post is only aimed at those who are able to kneel and don’t.

Photo credit: Zdenko Zivkovic via photopin, Creative Commons

Aug 182014

I have sometimes heard the comment from various priests that they can not remember the confessions they hear and very quickly forget them. Now whether this is a genuine charism of the priesthood or something more akin to hearing the same things over and over and tuning it out I don’t know.

I do have personal experience with something related, but certainly not a charism. That is within minutes of hearing a homily I pretty much have forgotten it. If there was a pop quiz at the end of the Mass I would almost certainly fail it. It is really quite annoying to try to recall what was said and to experience liturgical amnesia. No doubt much of it is my fault as my mind wanders during Mass moving from distraction to distraction. Although I also suspect I seek distractions during homilies because what is being said is not thought-provoking, but distraction-provoking. Sometimes a homily will momentarily grab my attention such as like yesterday when the Gospel concerned the Canaanite woman. Unfortunately in cases such as this it is because of the numerous ways the preaching about this can go wrong and it seems all those ways are explored. There are riches in the Church Fathers regarding this passage, especially Augustine, but instead the explanation was rather confusing. Maybe it is a blessing that most homilies in my experience are easily forgotten.

I also hope they never have a pop quiz about all three readings for the Sunday Mass. I could probably get the Gospel correct as I have other sources such as podcast homilies, blog posts, and Church news to help reinforce what the Gospel was for that date in the Liturgical Year. But if called to reference the Old Testament reading I would be very hard-pressed to recall what it was. That also goes for the New Testament letters. This is really embarrassing as I really do want to be able to reflect on these passages and to discern the reason the Church picked out the three readings in some connected theme.

So I am not very happy with having liturgical amnesia regarding the readings and the homily. Now if only I could have liturgical amnesia regarding most of the hymns used.

Jul 082014

This looks pretty cool.

The Ignatius Pew Missal is an annual subscription-based worship aid intended for Roman Catholic parishes. Available to pre-order now for a special introductory price of $3.50 when you order 50+ missals!

Its purpose is simple: to provide worshipers with a liturgical resource that is consistent with the directives of the Church and accessible to the average parishioner, especially in regards to music.

This is done in two ways: by using simple plainsong melodies for the Entrance and Communion antiphons, so that a cantor, choir, and even a congregation can easily sing them, and by selecting hymns and songs which, combined, provide a repertoire of sacred songs that is fitting for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, yet accessible for the average parish.

Visit www.PewMissal.com to see samples and learn more about the Ignatius Pew Missal.

Still there is something wrong with the cover art. Don’t they know that for parish missal’s that the cover art is suppose to be abstract and barely recognizable as representing religious themes. They really need to take the Draw Me! course.

Mar 052014

Not sure what I am going to do this Lent.  Last year during Lent I nailed humility and it gets harder each year finding something to perfect.

The capybara kap-i-’bar-uh, hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, is a semi-aquatic rodent of South and Central America. It is the only species in its genus, which belongs to the family Hydrochoeridae, order Rodentia.

Feb 272014

If you own or have heard either of the two albums by “Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles” then all you need to know is that Lent at Ephesus is now available.

Otherwise if you are unaware of their recordings it is certainly time to acquaint yourself with them. At the end of 2012 they released Advent at Ephesus and in 2013 Angels and Saints at Ephesus. These two albums both spent some time at the top of Billboard traditional classical albums chart. They were the first order of nuns to win an award in the history of Billboard magazine.

That gives some background. Their first album Advent at Ephesus became an instant favorite of mine. I am sure I have listened to it over a 100 times during Advent. I had been purposely growing my Advent hymn collection, but this album is the crowning jewel of it despite having access to so much music via a paid streaming service. I just love everything about this album. The song selection, the production quality, and the pureness of the voices. I wish I had the vocabulary and knowledge of the Classical music connoisseur to explain just how good this album is. I love that all this applies to Lent at Ephesus.

What I especially love about their releases it that it fills a void. If you want recordings of high quality Christmas carols you have such a large selection. That their first recording focused on Advent was such a great choice and now Lent gets some attention. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be listening to this album over and over again throughout this Lent and Lent’s to come. This is 1:18:14 minutes of pure beauty and the perfect soundtrack for Lent.

  • Jesus, My Love
  • Christus factus est
  • God of Mercy and Compassion
  • Hosanna to the Son of David
  • Jesu dulcis amor meus
  • Jesu salvator mundi
  • Popule meus
  • On the Way of the Cross
  • Pueri Hebraeorum
  • O Sacred Head Surrounded
  • Adoramus te Christe
  • Stabat Mater
  • Divine Physician
  • Vexilla regis
  • Mother of Sorrows
  • Vere languores nostros
  • Tenebrae factae sunt
  • O Come and Mourn
  • Adoramus te Christe
  • Crux fidelis
  • All Glory, Laud and Honor
  • Ave Regina caelorum
  • My Mercy

Their discography so far:

Feb 102014

Roto Reuters – Today the little known federal agency the United States Fisheaters and Worshiplife Service (FWS) acted in accordance with section Sec.3.6, Sec.4.a of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Secretary Mortain announced that male altar servers would now be protected by the ESA. The Secretary said “While sightings of male altar servers continue to be reported that in many parishes they are being overwhelmed by populations of female altar servers.”

The FWS has previously setup safe harbor agreements in some areas. This policy’s main purpose is to promote voluntary management for listed species on non-Federal property while giving assurances to participating diocese that no additional future regulatory restrictions will be imposed. The agreements benefit endangered and threatened species. The safe harbor agreement with Bishop Bruskewitz the previous bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln have been fruitful where male altar servers were in their native habitat and protected from competing populations.

Secretary Mortain noted the previous safe harbor agreements, but said “While there are thriving male altar server populations in some parishes or even some diocese it is also evident that the species is threatened in the large majority of parishes. We must act now so that future generations will not be deprived of this species and the related endangered species the parish priest.”

News of the FWS decision caused an outcry from many groups within an outside the government. The common thread of these complaints is that male altar servers should just be allowed to die out naturally and replaced. A spokesperson for Greenpax protested “Where will this end? If we start to protest such naturally declining populations will we then also have to protect Catholic men because of their declining populations at Mass compared to Catholic women?”

historic picture of altar servers

Historic picture showing a time when male altar servers were not endangered and could be found in any parish.


Photo credit: Gora Gray via photopin cc

Aug 162013

Immaculate Conception, Jacksonville

The oldest Catholic church in Jacksonville, and one of downtown’s most historic structures, now has a new designation coming straight from Pope Francis in Rome.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, begun in 1853, has been named a Minor Basilica due to its unique historical, artistic and religious importance to its community. It becomes one of 77 Catholic churches in the United States and six in Florida to be honored with the designation.

The Rev. Ed Murphy announced the honor during Thursday’s noon Mass in the towering white Kentucky limestone church. The church’s last pastor, the late Rev. Antonio Leon, had first requested the designation eight years ago, but the paperwork had been lost, Murphy said.

Current Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine Bishop Felipe Estevez renewed the request in May with Rome’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The official letter from the apostolic office in Rome arrived recently confirming the honor.

“The comments I have gotten is it was long in coming and this is a great compliment to this great parish,” Murphy said. (source)

This is so cool, especially since this is the parish I came into the Church in.

I remember the late Fr. Leon telling me that reporters often assumed that this downtown church was the Cathedral for the diocese. The beauty of this church is evident to all.

This parish could easily have become just another downtown Catholic parish forced to close because of demographic shifts. Instead Fr. Leon in his 25 years of devotion and sacrifice to his flock in this parish prevented such an outcome. Part of his stewardship included providing a soup kitchen, book store, a major restoration of the church that enhanced its beauty, the TLM back to time of the initial indult, confession before every Mass, active third-order communities, just to name of few.

Thankfully Fr. Murphy is continuing in Fr. Leon’s footsteps along with adding a Courage chapter.

Dating back to the late 1700s, St. Augustine’s cathedral was designated a Minor Basilica on Dec. 4, 1976, by Pope Paul VI, at the time the 27th American church honored with the designation.

Immaculate Conception began as a small wooden church that became a victim of the Civil War in 1863 when Union soldiers looted and torched the building. A second church built at the same site was dedicated in 1871. But when the 1901 fire destroyed much of downtown Jacksonville, it also gutted the second church.

The current church, with stained-glass windows made in Munich, Germany, was opened in 1910. At the time the tallest building in downtown, about 800 registered families attend services there now.

To receive the designation of a minor basilica, a church must be a center of active and pastoral liturgy with a vibrant Catholic community. In a news release issued Thursday, Estevez said Immaculate Conception was granted this designation because of its “historical and spiritual significance to the Diocese of St. Augustine and its worthiness of art and architecture.”

Jun 042013

From a priest:

Last Sunday at the end of Mass the musicians chose a song that just wasn’t striking a chord with me. I couldn’t muster the energy required to pretend to be gleeful and sing along. As I looked at the congregation I noticed only a handful were joining in the song. Most looked irritated and bored. I know the GIRM does not require a recessional hymn (90), but and I’m wondering if it’s time for my parish to change our thinking about the “closing” hymn. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

It seems to me that a lot depends on the hymn. Holy God We Praise Thy Name always gets people going. On the other hand, perhaps ACDC’s Highway To Hell isn’t such a good idea. It is nice to have a Marian antiphon appropriate to the season, followed by an organ piece.

What do you think?

(Father Z)

I do wonder what would be the ideal recessional hymn for most parishes?

Judging by what I have seen the ideal recessional hymn would:

  • Be rather short, perhaps only one stanza, and just long enough for the priest to leave the Sanctuary and get close enough to the Narthex.
  • The hymn should not require much breathing to sing properly so that parishioners are not out-of-breath when making the mad-dash to the parking lot.
  • Be rather vague about the Catholic faith. You don’t want anybody to be interrupted with the idea of love of God and neighbor as they cut you off in the parking lot.

“Ite, missa est”, now gentleman start your race cars.

Plus isn’t it nice of so many people to leave before the end of Mass to free up congestion? Maybe we should start giving out ribbons for first, second, and third place in the Nave to Narthex sprint.

I remember being “shocked” in one parish where we got to the end of the second stanza of the recessional hymn and everybody was still there. I was even more surprised at the end of four stanzas people were still there.