Mar 112015
 

Well since pretty much every Catholic blog has already linked to the Crescat’s post Denied Communion on the Tongue at My Grandmother’s Funeral… I might as well join in. What happened to her is just totally inexcusable. While you sometimes hear stories of this kind, fortunately they seem to have become fewer except I guess in this Spirit of Vatican II parish locked in a 1970’s stasis.

This scenario has been in the back of my mind when I receive Communion. Since I receive on the tongue while kneeling there is always the possibility of some reaction to this (oddly). Thankfully the only thing that as ever happened was a dumbfounded EMHC who didn’t’ seem to know what to do as if nobody had ever received on the tongue before. Still the mental scenario regarding what I would do has been partially thought out. That is I hope I just wait until after to deal with the situation in the manner spelled out in Matthew 15 after Mass.

Another aspect to the story was the fact that Pita bread was used. While it is possible that the use of Pita bread could be licit it almost certainly was not in this case. It was actually Pita bread from Trader Joe’s which contains honey and sea salt along with a chemical used as a dough conditioner.

As Jimmy Akin summarizes:

In the Latin Rite of the Church the bread is to be made with wheat and water only. Nothing may be added to the recipe, and the introduction of materials such as baking powder, salt, and honey render the bread that is used illicit. In the Eastern Rites, leaven may be added to the bread

See his post for references to Inaestimabile Donum. and Canon Law

So it is one thing to be such a jerk in forcing the way for someone to receive Communion it goes beyond mere jerkdom to deprive people of the Eucharist. Jesus asked the rhetorical question “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” Well here is a father who would give bread instead of the Eucharist.

On a final note please pray for the Crescat’s grandmother. Most funeral Masses are instant canonizations and actually praying for the repose of the soul is left behind.

Mar 102015
 

I must say I was excited when I saw Archbishop in Philly for Pope Visit Planning, Special Milkshake Unveiling and that they were going to pick one official milkshake out of three created by Potbelly Sandwich Shops. The suspense was really getting to me.

Well the wait is over.

The Vatican has given its blessing to a shortbread milkshake.

Part of the proceeds from sales of the vanilla ice cream and shortbread cookie “#PopeinPhilly” milkshake will benefit two major events this fall in Philadelphia: a world gathering of Catholic families and a visit by the pope.

Fifty cents from every shake sold at three locations in Philadelphia will benefit the events.

Well I guess we can be glad it wasn’t Kasper Karamel or Remarriage Raspberry.

Mar 092015
 

Lately there has been much discussion regarding the death penalty due to the “Capital punishment must end” editorial of America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor.

My first reaction to this was no big deal. Generally I align myself with Pope Saint John Paul II’s reasoning in the Evangelium Vitae and what is spelled out in the Catechism. Through most of my life I have not had a strong opinion either way. Mostly I have been against the death penalty and at times favoring it in some cases. It was not until I became Catholic that I formed a stronger opinion about this.

One of the things I strive to do as a Catholic is not to go farther than what the Church actually teaches. I credit Jimmy Akin for my desiring this attitude since time and time again I noticed this in the way he answered questions. As a result I have had to moderate my own favoring of the end of the death penalty to the fact that the Church has constantly taught the “moral liceity of the death penalty justly administered.”

Mark Shea from time to time has accused so-called “conservative Catholics” of using prudential questions as a way of ignoring doctrine. An aspect of this is true, but ignoring doctrine in this way is not limited to any one group. Especially since much of the support for eliminating the death penalty is almost totally prudential without much anchoring to the consistent teaching of the Church. When I finally read the editorial I found this to be mostly the case. As someone generally inclined in this direction I did not think the case made in the editorially very well thought out. Kind of all over the place with no caveats regarding Church teaching on this. I found it a bit dishonest.

I found myself nodding my head mostly in agreement as I read Dr. Ed Peter’s blog post today Okay, what about Catholics and the death penalty?.

… As a Catholic squarely in line with the Catholic tradition that, as Long accurately if turgidly sets out, supports the just administration of the death penalty for capital crimes, I have grown used to having my motives for such support reduced to: my thirst for vengeance, my disdain for mercy, my obliviousness to Christ’s salvific will, my despair about conversion, and my contempt for compassion. I apparently do not understand that the death penalty does not bring murder victims back to life (gee, whodathunkit?) but that’s not to worry, because my support for the death penalty can be excused (and then dismissed) on purely demographic grounds (I am, after all, white, male, middle-aged, and usually vote conservative, so who cares what a heartless jerk like me thinks about anything?)

… So argue, if one will, the prudence of the death penalty—there are some very good prudential arguments against it, as Häring noted fifty years ago—but do not read the Catechism as making any principled points against the death penalty beyond those that have long been part of the Church teaching on the death penalty, that is, for the last 20 centuries during which no Catholic thinker, let alone any Magisterial pronouncement, asserted the inherent immorality of the death penalty. To the contrary, as Long points out, acknowledgment of the moral liceity of the death penalty justly administered, is the Catholic tradition.

There has been way too much noise and straw men on both sides of the debate. I’ve seen some rather ridiculous arguments pro and con.

What was helpful for me in coming to understand this more was the late Cardinal Dulles’ article in First Things Catholicism & Capital Punishment. This is an excellent overview of this issue.

In light of all this it seems safe to conclude that the death penalty is not in itself a violation of the right to life. The real issue for Catholics is to determine the circumstances under which that penalty ought to be applied. It is appropriate, I contend, when it is necessary to achieve the purposes of punishment and when it does not have disproportionate evil effects. I say “necessary” because I am of the opinion that killing should be avoided if the purposes of punishment can be obtained by bloodless means.

He goes over the fourfold purpose of punishment in secular courts as it applies to the death penalty and how it stacks up prudentially to the use of the death penalty. Really just read the article as I find it accurately states Catholic teaching along with the prudential concerns with the state administering the death penalty.

Mainly my point is that the debate should be about as he states “The real issue for Catholics is to determine the circumstances under which that penalty ought to be applied.” The problem with prudential questions is that of course they are prudential or as Dr. Ed Peters’ wrote “debatable”. What a shock that one persons prudential opinion goes against another’s. So as is often the case we have people arguing over each other and being rather dismissive towards their view even if it is within the range of what Catholics can believe on this issue.

Mar 042015
 

Via Tom at Disputations:

I’m having a raggedy Lent so far this year, which on the upside means I’m not at risk of vainglory in how well I’m keeping Lent.

But I have managed to actually complete a novena – to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – in the nine days since Ash Wednesday. (I probably complete on time about 10% of the novenas I start.) And just a couple of hours after I finished the ninth day’s prayer, I received some fantastic news related to my prayer intention.

Correlation? Empirically so. Causation? Impossible to say, as impossible as when something good happened related to my prayer intention the other time I completed a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.

Now, there’s nothing at all miraculous about the good things that happened. I’m inclined to think – even, in a way, hope – they were purely coincidental. If it turns out to be the case that God wants to answer my prayers, then my lousy prayer life is responsible for a whole lot of grace missing in this world.

Frankly, though, it doesn’t matter. The act of prayer is in itself a grace, which if maintained becomes the habit of prayer, and that’s a good in itself. Whether or not we get what we pray for in some discernible way, we are sure to get what praying does for us, which we can then give to those we’ve been given to love.

Offer yourself to Jesus. Invoke Mary’s aid. Trust.

Well said with something to chew on.

Thomas L. McDonald’s “How I Pray” series had contemplative lay hermit Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB for this week’s entry.

Another delightful entry in this ongoing series and I especially enjoyed:

I think my favorite rosary is the plastic glow-in-the-dark that hangs on the shade of a small lamp beside my bed. I love praying it as my last motion of the day. I don’t worry if I fall asleep while praying it, assured that my Guardian Angel or a saint will carry on. I look at it this way—I don’t imagine we are ever fully matured spiritually until after death. So we are always children, and if a child is resting in your arms and falls asleep mid sentence, would you mind it so terribly much? I thought not…

I just love this image of my Guardian Angel or a saint carrying on a Rosary I started but fell asleep praying. Still considering the number of times this has happened, Heaven must have a duty roster to carry on my Rosary whenever I start one. Annoys me the number of times this has happened and when awakening and going to bed not being able to sleep. Guess I should have brought my Rosary to bed with me.

As a consequence my habit now has been to pray the Rosary standing up to prevent this from happening.

Mar 032015
 

Oddly I wish the Church had more liturgical seasons.

The reason is that I want the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles to keep releasing albums. Thankfully they haven’t yet run out of liturgical seasons to tie releases to and I am very pleased to see their new release today Easter at Ephesus.

These pitch perfect recordings get the most play out of my sacred music collection more than anything else. I can almost put their CD’s on repeat for the extent of the related liturgical season.

Not that we need any encouragement for wishing Lent to be over, but this makes me yearn even more for Easter.

  1. Anonymous: This Is The Day
  2. Aichinger: Regina Caeli (Aichinger)
  3. Köln Jesuit: The Clouds Of Night
  4. Wipo: Victimae Paschali
  5. Traditional: Alle Psallite Cum Luya
  6. Anonymous: Christ the Lord Hath Risen
  7. Ravanello: Haec Dies (4 Part)
  8. Ravanello: Pascha Nostrum
  9. Anonymous: Jesus Christ Is Ris’n Today
  10. Kichengesäng: Regina Caeli Jubila
  11. Palestrina: Alleluia Ye Sons
  12. Palestrina: Sicut Cervus
  13. Tisserand: O Sons And Daughters
  14. Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of: Regina Caeli (Original)
  15. Saint Venance de Fortunat: Salve Festa Dies
  16. Gallus: Haec Dies (8 Part)
  17. Anonymous: Exultemus Et Laetemur
  18. Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of: Her Triumph
  19. Carturan: Ascendit Deus 1:30
  20. Anonymous: Sing We Triumphant Hymns of Praise
  21. Lassus: Oculus Non Vidit
  22. De Corbeil: Concordi Laetitia
  23. Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of: Queen Of Priests
  24. Herman: Veni Sancte Spiritus
  25. Ravanello: Confirma Hoc Deus
  26. Ravanello: Veni Creator
  27. Lambilotte: Come Holy Ghost
Mar 032015
 

Like many I was caught totally surprised by the naming of St. Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church. Although the same is true when Pope Benedict XVI named St. Hildegard of Bingen as a Doctor of the Church in 2012 along with St. John of Ávila. Still at least I was somewhat aware of the ones Pope Benedict XVI named. St. Gregory of Narek was a total unknown to me.

After the naming I started seeing grumbling threads about him not even being Catholic. I thought surely that can’t be right.

On February 21, Pope Francis announced his decision to make St. Gregory of Narek (950–1003) a Doctor of the Church. Once again, Pope Francis has caught us off guard and now many people are scrambling to figure out who St. Gregory was and what the implications of the new honor bestowed upon him are. One key question that is arising is: was St. Gregory a Catholic?

The short answer to this question seems to be no. He was a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is a non-Chalcedonian Church (sometimes referred to somewhat pejoratively as a Monophysite Church), because of its rejection of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

However, the relationship of the Armenian Apostolic Church to the Catholic Church is long and complicated. I would like to provide a brief overview to help us consider the implications of the new Armenian Doctor of the Church.

This excellent article at Catholic World Report gives a overview regarding the Armenian Catholic Church along with its reconciliation with the Catholic Church under Pope St. John Paul II in 1996. It also details information about St. Gregory of Narek and references to where he is quoted in the Catechism and the encyclical Redemptoris Mater.

An update to this post included this information:

Thanks to the comments of readers, I have learned that the 2005 martyrology included not only St. Gregory of Narek on February 27, but also two other Orthodox saints, the Russians St. Stephen of Perm (1340–1396) and St. Sergius of Radonezh (1314–1392).

The first article I had read about this was Mark Movesesian at First Things who pondered about this:

As far as I can make out, it’s this. When Rome receives part of an Eastern church into full communion, it accepts all of the Eastern church’s saints, as long as they did not explicitly contradict Catholic doctrine. So, when part of the Armenian Church united with Rome in the eighteenth century to form the Armenian-rite Catholic Church, Rome accepted the Armenian saints, including Gregory of Narek. He was, as it were, grandfathered in, and has been a Catholic saint ever since. That’s how, in light of his great contributions, he can be declared a Doctor of the Church today.

So now this makes much more sense to me regarding the process. This was first under the purview of the Vatican’s Congregation for Causes of Saints which made the recommendation to the Pope. How this came about would be interesting in and of itself.

What annoys me is that I had to piece together information from news sources to see what was going on. You would think the Vatican just might communicate some clue when a non-Catholic is named a Universal Doctor of the Church. That just possibly some people might be scratching their heads over this. Yes that even the infamous “teaching moment” that constantly evades Vatican communication could be invoked and that some background information might be provided. Hope springs eternal that the Vatican could ever get ahead of the curve.

Still mostly the press has almost totally ignored the naming of a new Doctor of the Church and is confining itself, as usual ,to unimportant stories about the Church.

Mar 032015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 2 February 2015 to 3 March 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Jesus intercedes for us each day. Let us pray: Lord, have mercy on me; intercede for me!” @Pontifex 28 February 2015
  • “The heart grows hard when it does not love. Lord, give us a heart that knows how to love.” @Pontifex 3 March 2015
Mar 022015
 

New York City, N.Y., Mar 1, 2015 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- A lot has changed in journalism since 1961, but not Msgr. Daniel S. Hamilton’s resolve to rebut the New York Times on its editorial opinions regarding matters of faith and morals.

The New York priest has submitted Letters to the Editor of the publication since 1961 and recently compiled them all in a self-published book entitled “Jousting with the New York Times 1961–2014: Worldviews in Radical Conflict.”

Why has he written so faithfully?

“Among various instruments contributing to and constituting the political process, newspapers with their editorials and Letters to the Editor are one way of keeping in focus the truths and freedoms we hold dear,” he writes in the book’s introduction. “People with a strong sense of responsibility should use the letters instrument liberally.”

And liberally use them he has. Msgr. Hamilton has written The Times over 300 letters; some have made it to print or online, though most have not. The pieces printed by The Times are signified in the book by including their publication date next to their headline. Source

Quite an interesting article, but I found this section surprising and not surprising.

As momentum in favor of “gay marriage” picked up in the United States from about 2008–2011, the New York Times published several editorials advocating for the redefinition of marriage. Msgr. Hamilton responded to every one, but none of his letters made it to print.

“I have always suspected, perhaps unfairly, that they use the column for advocacy, and not being, as they have always maintained themselves to be, a liberal, pluralistic newspaper which admits to all views,” he said.

It wasn’t only that none of his own letters made it to publication, but The Times did not publish any Letters to the Editor within that timeframe that were not in favor of “gay marriage.”

“My disappointment was not, as I said to them and to their public editor, that my letter was not printed, that’s not the point,” he said, “but no letter taking issue with the position of the editorial board on the same-sex issue was printed out.”

Mar 022015
 
  • Bergoglio’s List – Nello Scavo This book investigates the time from when Fr. Jorge Bergoglio was 39 years old and on. In the multiple biographies I have read on him I have seen some mention of the work he did to get people out of prison and out of the country. It is fascinating the degree to which this happened and it was not just a couple of occasions. The book estimates he saved 100 people from torture, imprisonment, and even death. I don’t thinks this is much exaggerated as the book also spell out many details I had not read before. I also found it interesting the amount of tradecraft he had developed. That term is mostly used regarding spies, but Bergoglio had lots of practical advice to people to keep from being picked up or noticed by the government. He even ran a Jesuit retreat that mostly involved hiding some people. There is even a rather funny story told regarding some priests he was giving an Ignatius retreat.

    The author writes that he went in investigating this story not sure if the investigation would put the now pope in a good or bad light, but that he would just follow the story. The number of people he helped and the range of people he helped is impressive. It goes way beyond the priests under his care to helping people here were not friendly to the Church at all. This is not a man who just talks a good game, but lives it out despite what would have been real dangers for offering this help.

  • Growing in Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics Including Reflections on Faith – Fr. Packwa While this is a relatively short book, it does take some time to go through and that is a good thing. Fr. Mitch Pacwa has digested an number of scriptures related to faith in systematical way chapter by chapter. At first I was annoyed that the verses which were to be studied were referenced and to be looked up outside the book. Instead I found this helpful moving back and forth between the study guide and the Bible. I think I retained more and put these verses better in context with this training method. Quite worthwhile.
  • A Voice Undefeated – Collin Raye I’m not a Country Music fan and only knew of Collin Raye tangentially through Catholic radio. Still I was quickly immersed in the story of his life. There were many things that surprised me about his life which were not the track I expected of a Country Music Star. I found so much about what he had to say as something I could relate to respond to. The amount of suffering in his life is staggering with the uncountable hours in hospitals because of family members. This is a very intimate look into his life and the cross he carries. While his fairly early conversion to the faith as a traveling musician was not the pinnacle of the story, it is his faith displayed with almost Job-like obstacles. I might not be a fan of Country Music, but now I am certainly a fan of this man and the faith he lives daily. Good Lenten reading along with other times
  • Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World – Brandon Vogt One of the sad signs of the time is the polarization and politicization of social justice. A phrase that has come to mean a subset to some of the wide range of the Church’s doctrine regarding this. The term Social Justice Warrior (SJW) has come to mean a specific type of liberal activist. These are just some of the reasons whey Brandon Vogt’s book is a important corrective to this limiting of social justice and what it fully means in the context of the Church. Brandon addresses some of the polarization, but concentrates on the examples of saints and others to more fully explore what it is to see the Church’s teaching in action. The range of people he uses add to this book and introduces the stories of some saints I was not aware of. I found this book quite impressive and useful and look forward to more books from him.
Mar 022015
 

I always wish for more silence during Mass and so on the plus side I got it this weekend.

On the other hand the silence was due to the perseverance in stupidity.

The occasion was an attempt to display a video during Mass. So projected on the back of the sanctuary I saw first the glow of the projection than nothing. A minute or so later I see the Windows desktop and the mouse cursor opening up VLC. More clicking goes on. VLC is closes. Start menu comes up and more attempts to play video. Several more times VLC makes an appearance with more clicking. Than attempts to play video using Windows Media Player. Than VLC once again. Than a couple of instances of opening Task manager and some troubleshooting.

This took somewhere between five and ten minutes, although it felt embarrassingly long. I was just stunned that they just kept trying and trying amidst the uncomfortable silence. The priest after a while punctuated the silence with some jokes about what was going on. I kept hoping that he would just tell the deacon playing the video to just give up. Finally he did and the video was never played. Our Diocese has started having annual Eucharistic Congresses and that was the occasion for the video.

This episode of course played into my bias regarding any multimedia presentation during Mass. It always seems so clumsy and out of place. Plus projections on the sanctuary wall leave a bad taste for me.

I remember another episode of video during mass that could have made an outtakes reel. This time it was a portable projector screen which they moved out and extended just before the video was to be played. While displaying the video the screen slowly started to collapse back down so it was slowly shrinking. Somebody would come out and extend it again, but it would happen again. It was really quite funny in a perverse kind of way and their was sporadic laughter during the whole attempt.

Videos that get displayed during Mass are all from the Diocese and are usually confined to just the annual Bishop’s appeal. Unfortunately they usually just replace the homily in most instances because of their length. I can certainly understand the appeal of the video message instead of just reading from some document to disseminate the same information. It is just that the whole thing has always feels clumsy to me and out of place with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

One of the problems is that since parishes are rarely actual communities any more, the Mass becomes seen as the only mode of disseminating information to parishioners. A captive audience. People aren’t even expected to read the bulletin since most parishes have the “Liturgy of the Bulletin” at the end of Mass where sections are read out. Than there are the speakers disseminating information about some apostolate also appended towards the end of Mass. In the age of so much social media, this is hardly used and everything must be presented during Mass.

Even as a geek I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to the Mass and the intrusion of technology. Especially as what should be a dead-simple task of playing a video has gone awry in so many attempts I have seen — even with something as simple as a DVD attached to a television. Really there are larger problems that must be solved regarding diocesan communication. In the meantime though should be given to video presentations and the mode of them. Plus “If at first you don’t succeed”, please give up and let the Mass proceed.