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 MassTimes.org 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.

Jan 122017
 

Saw the following article THIS IS PROOF THAT DRIVE-IN CHURCHES WERE A REAL THING IN THE 40S and this did not surprise me. Although I did like the photos. I knew that the late Rev. Robert Schuller started his ministry having services at a Drive-In.

He went from Drive-In to eventually building the Crystal Cathedral. This is of course now Christ Cathedral for the Diocese of Orange. Can’t say that I am a fan of the design, although if Superman ever needs a new Fortress of Solitude maybe the diocese can turn a profit.

Still what if had had continued at a Drive-In? Perhaps the previous bishop would have bought that instead.

So how could Catholics adapt a Drive-In Mass? For one I guess Catholics would have to buy Lowriders so that they could go from kneeling to rising and vice versa.

For the offering they could have a car tag system where they photograph the plate and send the bill. Although postage could be more than the $1 bills collected.

Communion would be a problem though. Maybe they could have a track where people board a train. Yes, bring back Communion Rail.

Imagine the time savings. Many people already leave right after Communion to get to their car. This would eliminate that step.

Dec 242016
 

Steven D. Greydanus has a thoughtful piece on more and more Protestant churches being closed on Christmas Day. Christmas and culture: Closing churches on Christmas?

While this has been a trend in Protestant churches, the trend I notice for Catholics is earlier and earlier Christmas Vigil Masses. While parishes still have Midnight Mass and other Christmas Day Masses I am seeing multiple Vigil Masses and ones as early as 4:30 PM.

Seems to me to be a get Mass out of the way phenomenon. I know I can catch myself in this mentality. The old joke about what time is Midnight Mass isn’t quite as funny anymore. Convenience rules the day and then we see what Catholics in the Middle East are suffering through.

I love Midnight Mass myself. Even when I was an atheist because of the Christmas Carols. So I would put up with the sky fairy thing for being able to sing Christmas Carols. I am not a person who much like crowds and Midnight Masses are often overcrowded. But I arrive early not just to get a seat in a pew, but mostly for the Christmas Carols sung before Mass. There is something about bringing in Christmas Day at Mass in participating with the Angels who brought the message to the shepherds. Plus it is hardly even a Vigil Mass being at midnight. Plus one thing I dearly love is the thunderous Joy to the World pretty much sang at the end of Mass regardless what parish I have attended. It gets me every time.

I have been to many different parishes for Midnight Masses in my diocese. The experience regardless of the normal liturgical fare offered at other times is usually quite excellent. This is when parishes all of a sudden remember that there are hymns written before 1970. Where we tend to have fuller choirs and symphonic accompaniment.

Although one time the choir was so out of tune that it was disconcerting and not just one person. That this included one of the soloists was surprising. I discovered later that this wasn’t just an off night. My mantra to myself was – “They are giving of their time and ”cough“ talent so don’t complain.” Guess I failed at the not complaining part, but it has been a couple of years.

So really looking forward to the 4:30 PM Mass, I mean Midnight Mass.

Jul 182016
 

In my little over a decade and a half as a Catholic I have seen steady improvement regarding the liturgy within my diocese. Attending Mass at multiple parishes all over town I have watched this unfold.

I have definite Liturgy Police tendencies. Part of this is as a convert I became familiar with the GIRM and what the rubrics were. Plus having listened to so much Catholic radio I have heard a lot of questions and answers regarding the liturgy. So knowing what is suppose to happen reminds me of the verse in Ecclesiastes he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. So I have struggled with these Liturgy Police tendencies which could really take away from worshiping God at Mass. Rantings of angry traditionalists on this though has provided a warning sign to me to not go down this route. A route I could easily fall in to.

When I was a brand new Catholic I often found liturgical abuses across the range. At the time there was pretty much only one parish I could go to where I would not come across these abuses. Looking back I think I transferred most of my anger concerning this into various parodies on this blog over the years. Although my wife had to suffer through many of my rants about liturgical abuses. Thankfully I did not descend into constant angry letter writing. The only case where I did write a letter involved a very serious abuse and the parish pretty much ignored it.

So mostly I am coming to grips with now mostly minor liturgical abuses and of course banal music. I no longer come out of Mass angry. The fact that I less likely to experience serious liturgical abuses has been a good thing for me. I don’t want to turn into the Liturgical Hulk “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

There are some parishes now that have been transformed and mostly the reason for this is that the previous pastor retired. Reform of the reform via attrition has made a serious effect. Parishes that caused me to cringe now offer beautiful masses said reverently. A return of the Pipe Organ and some of the richness from the Church’s treasure of hymns. A return of a little bit of Latin. I’ve also seen a increased return to using a Paten. In these parishes the quality of homilies is also on the increase.

I was reminded of all of this at Mass yesterday at a parish where the music was once dreadful and the homilies contained information that was simply false. Instead now they seemed to have discovered that they had a Pipe Organ and that they could use it. The homily from a young priest was lyrical and moving. At times when he mentioned Jesus he would point to the Tabernacle. It instantly reminded me of the Pastor of the Church I came into, the late and beloved Fr. Leon, who had the same habit.

Sure some parishes time seems to have stood still trapped in the sixties, but even these parishes with so-called “vibrant” music are mostly free of liturgical abuses, with no serious abuses. Since I fortify myself with several homily podcasts, the totally forgettable homilies delivered in these parishes doesn’t bother me as much. Not that I don’t wish the homilies were better for everyone.

So while I am still hypercritical attending Mass, it is mostly as an observer and does not destroy my interior life (what there is of it). Knowing that I can easily turn to the dark side of angry liturgical traditionalism, it gives me some peace to turn away from it.

May 232016
 

What is called the 4-hymn sandwich seems to be the common format I run into for Mass. Although I am also finding that number increasing to six or seven hymns to make sure that not one second of silence is available. In the radio broadcasting medium dead air is to be prevented at all cost. So wall-to-wall hymns seem to have the same philosophy.

I was thinking about this at Mass this weekend as yet another hymn was started during Communion. I was hoping for some sacred silence after receiving Communion. Well I got my wish sort of. The hymn was called “Sacred Silence”, I found this rather hilarious that there is a hymn called “Sacred Silence”.

Sacred silence, Holy ocean
Gentle water, washing over me
Help me listen, Holy Spirit
Come and speak to me

How about instead of singing about “Sacred Silence” that we actually have some? Especially during Communion. Out of several parishes I attend there is only one where there is any understanding of sacred silence. I have been very impressed by this one young man who is the organist there. That he understands that he doesn’t have to fill every part of the Mass where music is allowed with music. That silences are allowed and can feed contemplation.

I especially notice the difference between Sunday Masses and Daily Mass where usually there is sacred silence and not just the rollout of hymn after hymn. I can appreciate Church musicians both for when they play, and when they purposely choose not to play. I am a both/and kind of guy and love both sacred music and sacred silences as they both nourish me. I love to sing, but post receiving Communion I want to concentrate on reflecting of this great gift.

Maybe one reason I crave sacred silence at Mass is that I fill my life up with noise. Most of the day I have headphones on listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. Even in the shower I make sure I have Bluetooth speakers available. About the only part of my day when I am not listening to something is during the periods of prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. So no doubt I need to nurture some sacred silence in my own life. Although I did keep the irony down by writing this blog post with no music in the background.

May 222016
 

You never know what kind of homily you will get on Trinity Sunday or as I call it Bad Analogy Sunday. Still this time around my pessimism was not rewarded and I was treated to a rather good homily. One that started “Thomas Aquinas says.” He used the Analogy of the Family to good effect, which is also the analogy the Catechism uses (CCC 2205).

Being in the Diocese of St. Augustine, not surprisingly over the years, I have often been treated to the story of St, Augustine, the boy, and the seashell. As a Middle Ages legend it serves it purposes as a reminder that the Trinity is a mystery, but not anything beyond that.

I would rather hear St. Augustine’s analogy of the Trinity he used in his book Confessions.”

I speak of these three: to be, to know, and to will. For I am, and I know, and I will: I am a knowing and a willing being, and I know that I am and that I will, and I will to be and to know. Therefore, in these three, let him who can do so perceive how inseparable a life there is, one life and one mind and one essence, and finally how inseparable a distinction there is, and yet there is a distinction. Surely a man stands face to face with himself. Let him take heed of himself, and look there, and tell me. But when he has discovered any of these and is ready to speak, let him not think that he has found that immutable being which is above all these, which is immutably, and knows immutably, and wills immutably.

Just as long as you remember all analogies limp, and they are downright crippled when it comes to The Most Holy Trinity.

Although I find Frank Sheed’s explanation providing the most light as laid out in Theology and Sanity and Theology for Beginners.

The Lutheran Satire bit on St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies is pretty funny as a vehicle to go over common bad analogies. Although there is no evidence that St. Patrick ever actually used the Shamrock as an analogy for the Trinity.

Mar 132016
 

In the Gospel of John is today’s reading regarding The Woman caught in adultery.

One aspect of this situation is similar to other instances when the scribes and the Pharisees confronted Jesus with a situation.

“This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him”

Again the Scribes and the Pharisees betray their zeal for the law had nothing to do with the underpinnings of the Mosaic law in the natural law. They were not offended by this rupture of the marital bond or how adultery is so often used in the scriptures to point to our relationship with God and betraying him pursuing idols instead.

Instead they see Jesus as a rival teacher and are willing to set him up for their own purposes. They want Jesus to scandalize his followers by possibly disobeying the Mosiac law.

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?”

I would think quite possibly they interpreted the instances when Jesus showed mercy to sinners as a weakness to be exploited. “He ate with sinners.” They were scandalized by mercy, yet were not scandalized by their own lack of justice. Those without mercy often don’t even understand justice.

So while there is so much to draw from this event, there is one aspect I had not considered before.

“And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.”

Looking at this anew I realized just how surprising the scribes and the Pharisees reaction was. They had setup a trap and had no concern with Jesus’ answer other than that it would reflect badly on him regarding his followers. The surprise is that they ended up listening to him and subsequently counting themselves as sinners. I also find it interesting that the eldest among them left first. He had gained enough wisdom to go beyond the myriad rules and still see himself as a sinner. His response probably helped the others to realize the same.

The prideful scribes and the Pharisees were humbled by their own acknowledgment that they were not without sin. Often when we are confronted by our sinfulness we double-down by rejecting the thought or whip up a defensive wall made of excuses and justifications.

So it is pretty awesome that they heard what Jesus had to say and accepted the grace to humble themselves by leaving.

Mar 062016
 

I heard a very unique homily on the parable of The Prodigal Son. Unique in a good way.

It was a soliloquy delivered from the perspective of the older brother as he speaks about his anger at his brother and father and fleshes out his feelings and reflects on them. Is he just in his anger and being treated unfair? Is he trying to buy his Father’s love by duty? Does he have gratitude for what he has or is he jealous of his brother? There is a whole chain of thoughts expressed to where he comes out the other side seeing his own faults.

I found this rather powerful and a interesting way to get the point across. Listening to it I was hoping that he would finish the soliloquy and not try to expand by trying to explain further – since it was perfect as it was. He did leave it alone.

Now this is not a technique I would want to see used all the time. Turning a homily into a drama audition. Yet used sparingly by someone in a skillful manner I found it a rather effective way to reflect on the reading,

When I have heard the pastor of this church preach I have been impressed. There is a vigor and thoughtfulness to his homilies. Plus more to the point I actually remember the points made in them after Mass. Usually I suspect the Holy Water font contains the water from Lethe.

Feb 112016
 
  1. Complain that in the Latin Rite, fasting norms are rather wimpy when compared to Eastern Rite Catholics.
  2. Someone reminds you that you can personally adopt their Lenten fast yourself.
  3. Never mind.